Mocambique's prolific markets and roadside vendors reminded me of home, orrather of how home was, before our government did their dire deeds withbulldozers a few months ago. In the Mocambique markets you couldnegotiate and bargain for almost anything you can think of from a goat toa pineapple, a freshly caught octopus to a carved wooden turtle, or, ifyou were so inclined a five piece lounge suite, double bed or even agenerator could be bought on the side of road. I realised how much thisvariety, diversity and bargaining had also been the face of Zimbabwe andhow much its absence has changed our country into the sanitized andtotally government controlled environment that it now is. The bulldozersof our government not only deprived people of the ability to earn a livingbut they also silenced the market chatter, stifled the laughter,suffocated expression and sterilized our streets, towns and lives.
On the journey to and from the border I realised how internally isolatedwe have become in Zimbabwe. With almost no fuel available for the pastfive months most Zimbabweans don't or can't afford to travel inside ourown country anymore. We don't have any way of knowing what's reallyhappening outside of our own towns and have become totally reliant on thepropaganda we are force fed by state radio and television. For months wehave been told that food shortages are because of crippling drought inZimbabwe and yet I was very surprised to see from the road how many riversstill had running water in them and how many dams were not dry. This isnot the picture of drought that we Africans know so well. This unharvestedwater is shocking in a hungry country. It should be used to bringproduction to the miles and miles of deserted, untended farms that you seealong the roads. The farms that the government changed the constitution tograb. Less than a month away from the main maize planting season, I wasvery shocked to see almost no prepared lands, no ploughed fields and notractors tilling the farms for 250 kilometres along the main road to theborder. It is chillingly quiet out there on the farms and yet summer ishere and the rains are about to begin.
In the two weeks that I have been away almost every single thing in myshopping basket has almost doubled in price and perhaps the most chillingthing that I have seen since I have been home is how few people are buyingseed maize - it is simply too expensive. Everyone is saying that this yearis going to be the worst and they are right because our pantries andpockets are empty and hunger already has one foot in the door. Zimbabwemay not be much in the world news these days but please don't forget us.Until next week, love cathy. Copyright cathy buckle1st October 2005. http://africantears.netfirms.comMy books "African Tears" and "Beyond Tears" are available from:email@example.com
Johannesburg Pat Sidley
Zimbabwe’s health minister tells Pat Sidley that drugs should be excluded from the international sanctions affecting his country
Zimbabwe has a similar sized epidemic to that of its neighbour Botswana but is facing the additional problem of sanctions. Its deputy minister of health and child welfare, Edwin Muguti, claims that despite being "squeezed" by the international community the country has an antiretroviral programme up and running.
The HIV and AIDS statistics are dogged by under-reporting in many African countries, Dr Muguti says, and in addition most countries have poor laboratory facilities, a low awareness of the epidemic, and inadequate access to health facilities.
To monitor its epidemic Zimbabwe uses antenatal clinics, producing a sentinel survey, as well as looking at hospital inpatients and carrying out some random sampling.
An awareness campaign uses the media as well as groups such as the churches, which, Dr Muguti says, initially denied the existence of the disease. They also used to sanction polygamy but have lately agreed to discourage the practice.
Dr Muguti is hoping that 100 000 people will be taking antiretroviral treatment by the end of the year. This figure excludes those using the private healthcare system.
"But Zimbabwe is under sanctions," he said, and he believes it was "totally unfair" for the health sector to have become a victim of sanctions along with the political sector.
The situation meant that almost no funding was available for programmes such as those needed to extend prevention or treatment of HIV. However, Zimbabwe had, he said, been able recently to persuade the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria to grant it some money.
The "politics of health" internationally were determined by the attitudes of the United States and the United Kingdom and other EU countries, he said, adding that although it might be countenanced to "squeeze us for other reasons" health should be left out.
Dr Muguti said four levels of healthcare facility existed in Zimbabwe: tertiary, provincial, district, and rural centres. The challenge was to get AIDS treatment programmes into the rural facilities.
"The problem is with laboratory back-up. We don’t have the capacity for a full set of the tests you normally want to do," he said. "It will be many years before we can do this. Our coverage is still very limited."
Despite these drawbacks, the rate of HIV infection among adults had dropped from 34% to 21%, said Dr Muguti. "We think this is as a result of awareness as well as barrier methods," he added. Zimbabwe distributes male and female condoms, some free and some at very low prices.
Dr Muguti claimed that his country was experiencing good governance, citing as evidence the land reform programme, which seeks to redistribute land to the landless; what he called "a democratic government with a Westminster system of parliament"; and an active opposition. He had hoped that the land reform programme would, in the long term, produce better levels of nutrition and other health markers.
The programme "definitely has a role to play in terms of
health," he said, but he conceded that it had also been the spur for sanctions.
Donors had deserted. "We are under siege—being starved." Drug companies were not
making things easy either. Zimbabwe fulfils patent requirements, with no
infringement, and manufactures some of its own antiretrovirals under licensing
agreements with the bigger companies. "The patents are highly restrictive," he
ZIMBABWE are already trying to get used to life after the Commonwealth Games two years after the Zimbabwe government took the shock decision to withdraw its membership from the club.
The next Commonwealth
Games will be held in Melbourne, Australia, in March.
Zimbabwe Olympic Committee (ZOC) chief executive Robert Mutsauki said that
his association was already looking at other options available.
"We have accepted that we are now out of the Commonwealth. It no longer fits
in our calendar," Mutsauki said. "Of course it's disappointing that we will not
be going to Melbourne because we need the competition, but it is no use crying
on what might have been. We have to look at other tournaments and maximize on
Swimming sensation Kirsty Coventry will be the most affected by Zimbabwe's
absence in Melbourne as she will not be able to defend the gold medal she won in
the women's 200m individual medley in the last games in Manchester in 2002.
Zimbabwe have participated in 12 Commonwealth Games since 1934, hauling 44
Zimbabwe automatically relinquished their Commonwealth Games berth after
pulling-out of the Commonwealth in the wake of the Commonwealth Heads of
Government Meeting in Abuja, Nigeria, in December 2003, where the country faced
expulsion from the grouping of mostly former British colonies, following the
hotly disputed 2002 presidential elections. - Staff Writer.
Zimbabwe Olympic Committee (ZOC) chief executive Robert Mutsauki said that his association was already looking at other options available.
"We have accepted that we are now out of the Commonwealth. It no longer fits in our calendar," Mutsauki said. "Of course it's disappointing that we will not be going to Melbourne because we need the competition, but it is no use crying on what might have been. We have to look at other tournaments and maximize on them."
Swimming sensation Kirsty Coventry will be the most affected by Zimbabwe's absence in Melbourne as she will not be able to defend the gold medal she won in the women's 200m individual medley in the last games in Manchester in 2002.
Zimbabwe have participated in 12 Commonwealth Games since 1934, hauling 44 medals.
Zimbabwe automatically relinquished their Commonwealth Games berth after pulling-out of the Commonwealth in the wake of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Abuja, Nigeria, in December 2003, where the country faced expulsion from the grouping of mostly former British colonies, following the hotly disputed 2002 presidential elections. - Staff Writer.
Malnutrition is becoming more widespread in Zimbabwe as food shortages intensify. Hospital doctors in Harare, the capital, report a sharp increase in patients suffering from malnutrition-related ailments, while health care workers in Bulawayo say they are seeing many more undernourished children as food costs soar out of reach.
Health care professionals say the government’s May-July slum-clearance drive, which left several hundred thousand people homeless, has exacerbated the situation.
A number of factors have contributed to the country’s food security and health crisis: a regional drought, a general shortage of foreign exchange to purchase grain outside the country, the collapse of the agricultural sector after years of radical land reform in which experienced and mainly white commercial farmers were driven off the soil, and a range of economic policies which failed to sustain manufacturing and other sectors.
Health professionals said the impact of food shortages is greatest among people living with HIV-AIDS who need proper nourishment to resist the wasting disease.
Meanwhile, many inhabitants of rural areas have resorted to gathering wild fruits and tubers for nourishment given the scarcity of the traditional staple of maize meal.
Physician Takaruda Chinyoka of Parirenyatwa Hospital in Harare, the capital, said it is becoming more and more difficult to deal with the rising caseload of patients who are suffering from conditions whose underlying cause is improper nourishment.
Reporter Carole Gombakomba of VOA’s Studio 7 for Zimbabwe spoke with Dr. Chinyoka about the health effects of widespread malnutrition.
Deputy Health Minister Edwin Muguti acknowledged that cases of malnutrition are on the rise – but blamed the economic sanctions imposed by the United States and Great Britain in particular, and the European Union as a whole.
However, critics say that the government has much to answer for in the crisis, pointing to land reform, its economic policies, and Operation Murambatsvina, which deprived many of their livelihood. Beyond this the government has been unwilling to formally request food assistance from the international community.
The World Food Program for the past six months has been urging Harare to formally request food aid so that WFP administrators could appeal to donor nations. More recently, the United Nations office for humanitarian relief issued a unilateral appeal to donors, having failed to secure Harare’s co-sponsorship.
Carole Gombakomba asked Dr. Muguti to outline the government’s position.
In the country’s second city of Bulawayo, meanwhile, many mothers facing higher prices for bread and baby formula are no longer making breakfast for their children or have begun to feed them less expensive – but also less nutritional – substitutes.
Studio 7 correspondent Masautso Banda talked to health professionals who said child diets are deteriorating and that child malnutrition is on the rise in Matabeleland.
JUSTICE FOR AGRICULTURE LEGAL COMMUNIQUÉ - October 1, 2005
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com
Yesterday's Herald had 3 properties listed under Section 5 Notices (Lot
181) and 1 property listed under Section 5 Notices (Lot 182):
LOT 181 1 8876/2004 S Van De Ruit P/L Goromonzi Remainder of Bramber of S/D
A of Galway Estate 76,7650ha
LOT 181 2 2556/82 Leonard Bazil Farrell Gwelo R/E of Lot 55 of the Umsungwe
LOT 181 3 5283/84 Hendrik Cornelius Bezuidenhout Hartley S/D A of Farnham
LOT 182 1 2332/68 Clive Alfred Chester Salisbury Lot 15B The Glen 38,6796ac
JAG OPEN LETTER FORUM
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com
Please send any material for publication in the Open Letter Forum to
firstname.lastname@example.org with "For Open Letter Forum" in the subject line.
So much news has emerged from within Zimbabwe that has negatively attacked
the government of Zimbabwe and undermined the sovereignty of the Country.
President Robert Mugabe has often been accused by his critics for a
disregard of the rule of law and for waging a racist campaign against white
Zimbabweans. What is often overlooked is the reason why after 20 years of
independence the Government of Zimbabwe decided to embark on a land reform
program. Why after nearly 20 years since the end of Rhodesia-Zimbabwe, were
white people allowed and encouraged to continue to own and buy agricultural
land in Zimbabwe. The reason has to do with the Lancaster House agreement
signed in London in 1979. This agreement stipulated that the existing land
tenure system would remain in situ for 10 years and thereafter the British
Government would fund a land resettlement exercise. The Government of
Zimbabwe was content to allow the existing land tenure system to remain
intact simply because the British Conservative Party Government which gave
Zimbabwe its independence provided a large sum of cash for land reform
purposes. The British were paying for the land taken by white settlers
which the Government of Zimbabwe contently used at its discretion. The
problem came when the Conservative government lost power during the general
election of 1997. The Party which gave Zimbabwe its freedom was no longer
in control of British finances. The new Labour Government elected in the UK
had not given power to ZANU-PF and more importantly had not stepped in to
oppose the internal settlement which created Rhodesia-Zimbabwe. This Labour
Government decided to break the commitment outlined in the Lancaster House
Agreement which the UK Government had signed in providing necessary funds
for land reform. Why then did the Labour Government follow this course of
action? Well the reason is highly political and relates back to the
Rhodesian era when previous Labour Governments under Harold Wilson tried to
reach a settlement with the then Rhodesian Leader Ian Smith. Smith flatly
refused to accept any British proposals for African participation in
Rhodesian political life. After the end of Rhodesia, the British Government
decided to take back control of its Colony and to take a swipe at its rebel
white populous. By not funding land reform, the British Government knew
that President Robert Mugabe would be incensed and would at some stage
decide to take back what is rightfully theirs. By expropriating white owned
farmland, the British Government has once again taken a swipe at former
rebel white Rhodesians who had defied its control by declaring UDI in 1965.
The solution to the land issue in Zimbabwe prior to the year 2000 clearly
lay with the British Government. For had the British been persuaded to fund
land reform as before, then there would have been no large scale
expropriations of farmland. Why then did White Zimbabweans not publicly
urge the British Government to restart funding land reform? White
Zimbabweans knew they had no friends within the British state, as a result
of their UDI tactics of the 1960 and 1970's. Instead white Zimbabweans made
the big mistake of becoming actively involved in Zimbabwean politics and by
challenging and opposing the Government of Zimbabwe. When faced by
prominent White Rhodesians in an opposition political party and the
challenging of Government policy in the courts, the Zimbabwean Government
had no option but to reassert its authority and to uphold the Constitution
agreed at Lancaster House. If White Zimbabweans want to continue living in
Zimbabwe and especially continue to work by owning or leasing farmland,
they need to dissent from politics and to repay the Government of Zimbabwe
for the land they hold, for which the British have refused to pay. It is
clear, that while the British were paying for the land owned by whites, the
agricultural holdings remained intact.
British Citizen wanting to live and buy property in Zimbabwe.
I am looking for David Edward Nortier, Zane George Hammond and Richard
Becks (Porky). Please if anyone has information, I need to contact them.
P O Box BW 1500
Mobile: +263 11 415 905
Fax: +263 4 884 106
Website: www.progeneseeds.com http://www.progeneseeds.com/
All letters published on the open Letter Forum are the views and opinions
of the submitters, and do not represent the official viewpoint of Justice
JUSTICE FOR AGRICULTURE UPDATES - October 1, 2005
Email: email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org
STEVE SEWARD UPDATE:
Due to the magnitude of rumours circulating regarding the shooting, and
subsequent matters of Steve and Moira Seward we would like to rectify and
set straight the record with regard to this tragedy, according to accounts
received from those directly involved.
Steve, and Moira (nee Schultz) Seward were travelling towards Chirundu, on
the Lower Zambezi road in Zambia, on Monday morning the 19th of September.
Having pulled over on the side of the road to check some paperwork, an
armed and uniformed scout appeared at the window demanding money. He then
proceeded to fire upon Steve and Moira from close range. Steve sustained
three bullet wounds, and suffered a broken arm whilst making his escape. He
reached a vehicle from one of the nearby lodges collecting wood, and was
subsequently treated and evacuated by air to Lusaka. He is currently
receiving treatment at a hospital in Johannesburg, and is recovering.
Moira was tragically killed in the car having sustained several mortal
wounds. She has been cremated, and the immediate family have held a private
time of mourning, and prayer in her honour. An announcement for a memorial
service will be made once Steve has been released from hospital.
According to police reports on the ground the culprit was already on the
run, and being pursued in that area in connection with a poaching incident.
Shortly after the shooting a firearm was recovered, and apparent identity
of the shooter established. A large follow up operation involving local
Safari Operators, Farmer, Police, Zawa, Airforce, and Armed forces took
place, after which, on the afternoon of 21st September his location was
established. According to police reports the culprit was found dying at a
relatives house in his home area having consumed poison.
The Schultz family would like to thank everyone out there who helped
directly with regards this incident, and the many more for your kind words
of concern and encouragement; offers of assistance; and your prayers. Thank
We take comfort in knowing our beloved Moi is now safe in the arms of the
ROB MILBANK UPDATE:
Rob Milbank bike ride appeal
Well, we completed our ride from Oxford to Cambridge - Hugo (who does the
Tour de France every year) in under 4 hours, Caroline in 6 1/4 hours, Sarah
in 6 3/4 hours and Ed Milbank (on a tiny folding bike) in 7 hours. As we
crossed the start at 9am, the rain gave way and the sun shone all the way
to Cambridge, with a gentle following wind to keep us cool. The route took
us along pretty country lanes and up some pretty mean hills, but there were
kindly souls at strategic points to minister refreshments and TLC. The
applause at the end made it all the more worthwhile!
We have had a fantastic response, and so far we have £17,000 in the bank.
Thank you to everybody who has made a contribution. We have been bowled
over by your generosity and support. Our target is £20,000 so we are almost
Thank you also to those who have pledged sponsorship. As a reminder, please
1. send a cheque made out to Calascione re Milbank to Caroline Calascione
at the address below, or
2. pay your donation directly into the bank account:
Bank Abbey, sort code 09-06-66, account number 41714397
Rob and Amanda Milbank are currently making a slow journey back home to
Zimbabwe, where he will continue his rehabilitation. He is undergoing a
range of nutritional and physical programmes to build new pathways in his
brain which will help overcome his disabilities. He still has a long way to
go, but is making good progress.
With best wishes and many thanks
Caroline and Sarah
Monday September 19th – Sunday September 25th 2005
1. GENERAL COMMENT
2. FOOD SECURITY AND THE BLAME GAME
3. ECONOMIC DECLINE
1. General comment
THE government media’s status as unreliable sources of information was again affirmed by their failure to expose a new wave of violent farm invasions, leaving the responsibility to the niche market private media.
For instance, The Standard (25/9) reported that armed gangs led by state security agents and other government officials had seized farms in Chipinge and Nyazura after brutally assaulting farm workers and harassing the owners. In one incident, the paper reported, Ashanti Farm manager Allen Warner was severely assaulted after a failed attempt by a senior official of the Central Intelligence Organisation, Joseph Chiminya, to shoot him with an “Uzi light machine gun”. The gun reportedly “jammed” when he tried to fire it.
In another case, a senior official
from the Zimbabwe Embassy in
Mutasa reportedly told the committee that the few remaining white farmers should be “cleared out” because they were “dirty” and “filthy”.
However, the paper reported Mutasa as having distanced himself from the mayhem, saying farmers should report the invasions to the police.
Studio 7 (21/9) and The Daily Mirror (24/9) carried similar reports although they did not link the invasions to the hate language attributed to Mutasa. The Daily Mirror quoted the evicted farmers as having said invaders told them that they had no “rights to the land” under the 17th Constitutional amendment.
The failure by the government media to report these disturbing new developments buttress arguments that they are complicit in these incidents of violence, racial bigotry and incitement precisely because they have allowed government officials to break the law with impunity. This grave dereliction of duty by the public media reinforces demands for the establishment of alternative mass media free from government control to record accurately the realities of Zimbabwean society.
2. Food Security and the blame game
THE country’s tenuous food situation – made more alarming by recent revelations of poor preparations for the 2005/6 farming season – continued to be a highlight of the media during the week.
In all, the media carried 136
stories on the topic. Of these, 70 appeared on ZBH (ZTV 39, Power FM 14, and
Although ZBH had previously
highlighted how the inadequate farming preparations risked worsening
For example, all ZBH stations (19/9, 8pm) reported the reassurances by the Grain Marketing Board (GMB) that the country had “enough grain reserves to last until the next harvest despite the drought”, without challenging the board to back its claims with reasoned statistical evidence. Consequently, the national broadcaster’s audience remained no wiser as to how much maize, if any, the board was holding in its reserves.
Instead, ZTV (19/9, 8pm) and Power FM (20/9, 6am) supinely cited the GMB blaming fuel problems and poor road networks for the unavailability of the maize nationwide.
In fact, nearly all 70 stories ZBH
Resettled black farmers were not spared either. ZTV (20/9, 8pm), Power FM (21/9, 6am) and The Herald (21/9) reported Gono describing as “criminal” their inability to maximise maize yields per hectare as compared to Chinese and South African farmers. However, government’s complicity in the fall in agricultural production through its chaotic land reforms was left unexplored.
Only The Sunday Mail (25/9) broke ranks with its stablemates by fairly assessing the matter in its comment, Address real issues facing new farmers. The paper disagreed with Gono’s attempts to blame the farmers alone for low production. It argued that “some of the reasons for non-maximum utilisation of land go back to the Government and to his (Gono) office”, adding that until the “real issues affecting farmers” are addressed “yields will continue to be low” as farmers “cannot take shortcuts and still get maximum yields”.
Otherwise, like ZBH, the rest of the 25 stories the government Press published on the subject absolved government while blaming farmers for the country’s agricultural problems. For example, although The Herald (19/9) and Chronicle (22/9) cited the shortage of inputs as responsible for what is expected to be poor yields in cotton and tobacco, The Herald (20/9) paradoxically blamed farmers for the grim outlook.
The paper accused the farmers of not doing much to “boost agriculture”, saying they should not just wait to “be spoon-fed…expecting government to lay on everything, from fuel to fertiliser”.
Responding to farmers’ concerns over fuel shortages, the paper urged them to emulate other “businesses” that were not “wringing their hands in despair” over the issue but sourcing “free funds” to import their own fuel “either directly or through agents”.
The Herald (22/9)’s comment, Unproductive farmers must lose land, echoed these views. It amplified official statements attacking resettled farmers for failing to fully utilise land given them saying government should repossess such land as recommended by several land audits, including the Charles Utete Report.
However, it did not challenge government why it continues to conduct so many land audits without implementing their recommendations.
Instead, The Herald and Chronicle (23/9), sought to portray government as implementing sound measures to ensure high productivity. The papers merely quoted Agriculture Minister Joseph Made saying the increase in the producer price of wheat from $1 749 128 to $6 920 780 per tonne would ensure that “wheat production remains viable and provides an incentive for farmers to continue producing the crop,” without seeking comment from farmers.
Similarly, ZBH carried at least five stories that passively quoted government officials and their sympathisers praising the enactment of the 17th Constitutional Amendment saying it will “enhance” agricultural production, as it would bring to “finality” wrangles over land ownership.
The government media’s partisan coverage of the matter was reflected in their over-dependence on government voices as shown in Fig 1 and 2 in line with their agenda to absolve the authorities of blame.
Fig 1 Voice Distribution on ZBH
Fig 1 Voice distribution in government Press
In contrast, the private media gave a more informed analysis of the problems affecting agriculture and the country’s food security. Almost all the stories attributed the problems to government’s chaotic land reforms and skewed macro-economic policies, as well as its continued denial of the existence of a humanitarian crisis in the country.
For example, Studio 7 (19/9), The Financial Gazette (22/9), The Zimbabwe Independent (23/9), The Standard and Sunday Mirror (25/9) exposed the complete disdain with which the authorities viewed the starving masses. They reported President Mugabe as having denied that Zimbabweans faced starvation, saying they were a “very happy” people whose problem was their dependency on maize when they could eat “heaps of potatoes” and “rice” the country had in stock.
As the Independent columnist, Muckraker observed, Mugabe, at a stroke, managed to combine the crudely insensitive comments of the 18th Century French queen, Marie Antoinette, who called on her people to “eat cake” if they could not find bread, and colonial Rhodesian leader Ian Smith, who boasted of having “the happiest Africans on the continent”.
The private media viewed Mugabe’s statement as a reflection of his detachment from reality and his insensitivity to the plight of suffering Zimbabweans.
In addition, Studio 7 (19/9) carried
two other stories in which it cited Mugabe denying there was a humanitarian
The government media all censored these reports, including Mugabe’s bizarre comments, which attracted media coverage around the world.
Studio 7 (21/9) also revealed that the country’s food crisis had caught up with the Zimbabwe National Army (ZNA), which had started to send mostly junior officers on forced leave as it was unable to “provide three meals a day”. The station quoted an unnamed army official saying because of these problems the ZNA had even suspended recruitments.
Although the private Press gave more space to official sources, it balanced government’s perspective with independent comment from alternative sources, farmers, foreign experts and MDC voices. See Fig 3.Fig 3 Voice distribution in the private Press
Similarly, Studio 7 attempted to balance government assessment of the country’s food insecurity with perceptions of mainly international relief organisations and the opposition MDC as shown in fig 4.
Table 4: Voice distribution on Studio 7
THE country’s continued economic meltdown also featured prominently in the week with both sections of the media highlighting indicators of economic decline.
However, most of the 68 stories that the official media carried (ZBH  and government papers ) were piecemeal and failed to address holistically the causes behind the economy’s freefall.
ZBH’s reports in particular were largely reactionary and premised on fault-finding rather than problem-solving. For instance, ZTV (21/9, 6pm) did not investigate the economic rationale behind pharmaceutical companies’ drug price increases by more “300% since the beginning of the year” or relate the increases to the country’s economic meltdown.
Rather, the station resorted to regurgitating government threats against the firms with its reporter commenting: “…government has warned the sector to stop increasing prices in this manner.”
Threats against industry also appeared in The Herald (22/9). The paper supinely reported the central bank claiming that it was owed about US$212 million by exporters “who have either not remitted their export receipts or submitted their foreign currency declaration forms”. Without investigating the reasons for this, the paper simply quoted the RBZ threatening exporters to “immediately pay up” by “end of business on Friday September 30 2005” or risk “punitive” penalties such as “forfeiture of entitlement to foreign currency accounts retention until such a time that outstanding amounts have been paid”.
ZTV (22/9, 8pm) carried a similar story. However, it did also quote the chief executive officer of the Zimbabwe National Chamber of Commerce (ZNCC), Innocent Makwiramiti, saying that although some businesses were guilty of this, he also held the RBZ liable for “inefficiency…when processing papers…”
The private media was more revealing in its 23 stories (private newspapers  and Studio 7 ) on the country’s economic problems. The reports tackled issues such as government’s continued failure to solve the fuel and foreign currency shortages and the country’s failure to attract foreign investment due to government’s controversial policies.
For example, The
Standard reported analysts saying, contrary to claims by Justice Minister
Patrick Chinamasa that the country had “bottomed out” and was
“ripe for economic take off”,
Studio 7 (21/9) carried a similar story and quoted economist John Robertson attributing the poor showing of some industries to the decline in agriculture since businesses that relied on raw materials from agriculture were “almost out of business.”
The Independent revealed that the country’s platinum mining giant Zimplats had threatened to close down due to government’s contradictory economic policies. The paper reported that government had made a “sudden U-turn” by revoking an agreement with the mining giant that exempted Zimplats from paying withholding tax. Now the government wanted the platinum miner to pay the tax, calculated at $400 billion including penalties.
Zimplats’ chief executive officer Greg Sebborn told the paper that the “impact” of the latest development “will be severe, not only to Zimplats’ operations but on investor perceptions in general” as the “agreement was specifically crafted to attract large-scale investment in the country”.
In addition, the paper, Studio 7 (22/9) and SW Radio Africa reported on the fresh controversy surrounding the origin of the US$120 million that government used to offset its US$295 million arrears to the IMF to avoid expulsion. These media reported Zimbabwean businessman Mutumwa Mawere as having written to the Fund, including the World Bank and UN, complaining that government had used “proceeds” from his “expropriated companies”, which “generate US$100 million per annum” to pay the arrears.
None of the media carried concrete evidence from Mawere to substantiate the claims.
However, Studio 7 (24/9) reported the IMF saying it would investigate the source of the funds but would not say whether or not the investigations were prompted by Mawere’s complaint.
The government media
ignored the matter. The Sunday Mail, for example, only reported Reserve
Bank Governor Gono defending his decision to pay the IMF instead of
“putting the money to local use” as demanded by industrialists
because the business community had “‘pleaded’ with him to make the
payment”. He also told ZTV (22/9, 8pm) that had
Meanwhile, as the media,
especially the government ones, spiritedly debated the ‘disappearance’ of eight
soccer players in the
It reported that the players were “suspected to be seeking economic refuge.”
The MEDIA UPDATE was produced and circulated by the Media Monitoring Project Zimbabwe, 15 Duthie Avenue, Alexandra Park, Harare, Tel/fax: 263 4 703702, E-mail: email@example.com
Feel free to write to MMPZ. We may not able to respond to everything but we will look at each message. For previous MMPZ reports, and more information about the Project, please visit our website at http://www.mmpz.org.zw
Zimbabwe Independent (Harare)
September 30, 2005
Posted to the web September 30, 2005
A SHOWDOWN is looming between council officials and the Harare Municipal
Workers Union over salary negotiations, with the union demanding a minimum
wage of $6,1 million for its members.
Negotiations have reached a deadlock with the cash-short local authority
arguing that it cannot afford the increase demanded while the union says its
workers are failing to make ends meet owing to escalating costs of basic
commodities and increases in transport fares.
"We are deadlocked but we hope the stalemate will not force workers to go on
strike and inconvenience ratepayers," chairman of the union, Cosmas Bungu,
said on Wednesday.
Municipal work is considered an essential service and employees are barred
from work boycotts.
Bungu said a number of municipal workers were losing their household
property to money lenders due to low salaries in the midst of escalating
costs for basic commodities and food.
"People are hungry and have to borrow to make ends meet. They become so
indebted after borrowing for food, school fees and bus fares that money
lenders haunt them everyday," the union chief said.
He said his union had agreed with the employer to take the matter up with
the arbitration centre for a determination. The meeting is scheduled for
The showdown between Harare city council and municipal workers comes at a
time when the commission running the city is looking for US$27 000 ($702
million) for a trip by commission chair, Sekesai Makwavarara, to Moscow.
Makwavarara's costly junket is planned when the city has almost run dry of
fuel for trucks to remove mounting garbage from the streets. Council cannot
attend to burst water pipes. Neither can it provide adequate water supplies
to residents forcing some suburbs to forego water supplies for weeks
Movement for Democratic Change MP for Harare North, Trudy Stevenson, advised
the mayor of Moscow, Juri Michailowitsch Luschkow, not to entertain
Makwavarara saying her delegation does not have the mandate of the city
residents. - Staff Writer.
By Carole Gombakomba
01 October 2005
Alongside Zimbabwe’s political and economic crises, medical professionals report a health crisis amidst a crumbling health care system, shortages of drugs, emigration of specialists, equipment breakdowns, dwindling blood supplies and food scarcities.
In recent months the prices of anti-retroviral drugs - a matter of life and death to those living with HIV-AIDS – have tripled, sending them out of the reach of many of those who need them to survive. One in four Zimbabweans is HIV-positive.
The Community Working Group on Health, which promotes community participation in health planning, says most people in need of medical treatment are resorting to herbal remedies purchased in informal marketplaces. Working Group Director Itsi Rusike says those who do so run the risk of harmful effects from untested substances.
Reporter Carole Gombakomba of VOA’s Studio 7 for Zimbabwe spoke with Dr. Ernest Mukwevo, an HIV-AIDS specialist, about the deterioration of health care.
Public hospitals, meanwhile, are sending patients home without medical care.
In the early 1990s, Zimbabwe was recognized as having one of the continent’s best health care systems. But the government has cut health and education spending to channel funds to the military and its security forces.
Now the country has one of the highest infant mortality rates in the world, according to the United Nations Children’s Fund, or UNICEF.
Dr. Takunda Chinyoka of Parirenyatwa Hospital explains how physicians and other health care workers there are coping with the crisis.
Deputy Health Minister Edwin Muguti says the government is committed to providing the country’s people with good medical care, but that it has been handicapped by a lack of support from Western countries. Critics respond that government economic and social policies are to blame for the crisis in Zimbabwean medicine.
Studio 7’s Carole Gombakomba interviewed Dr. Muguti and asked him to present the Harare government’s view of the burgeoning health crisis.
Los Angeles Times, 1 October
Whites driven from their land in Zimbabwe get resettlement aid to share their modern methods in a nation of subsistence agriculture
By Robyn Dixon, Times Staff Writer
Tsonga, Nigeria - The foreigners who came from afar to the grasslands of western Nigeria seemed like a spectacular circus act to the area's subsistence farmers. Local people were amazed by the dozens of tractors, harrows and planters that materialized along with huge amounts of seed and fertilizer. But the residents were flabbergasted again when their new neighbors started planting crops, making, it seemed, some equally spectacular blunders. They didn't bother to mound the soil into hillocks around their corn and other plants, a backbreaking tradition since time immemorial. Then, there was the spacing: Instead of a yard between each corn plant, they left only a few inches. "They did tell us we were fools," acknowledged Peter Cocker, 33, one of the newcomers. They are white farmers from Zimbabwe, and they expect their methods to increase yields here by as much as tenfold.
The white farmers, driven off their farms in Zimbabwe by President Robert Mugabe's plan to redistribute the land to blacks, have become a hot commodity among other African countries eager to tap their expertise in running large commercial enterprises. Zimbabwe's Commercial Farmers Union reported to members in August that 23 countries were scrambling to attract them. Among the most aggressive recruiters was Bukola Saraki, governor of Nigeria's western Kwara state. He saw an opportunity to teach local farmers better techniques and kick off large-scale commercial farming in Nigeria, a country of 130 million that relies on subsistence agriculture and oil exports, and imports food. Despite Nigeria's strangling bureaucracy and rampant corruption, 13 farmers took up his offer. With loans of up to $250,000 to get started and 50-year leases, they each established commercial farms of 1,000 hectares. The white farmers are planning to add dairy and beef cattle and to grow fruit, flowers and vegetables for export to Europe. Their first crop is flourishing, and along with it, an intense competition has sprung up.
The newcomers' corn, covering hundreds of acres, stretches green and tall to the skies, dwarfing the nearby widely spaced stalks on mounded earth. But most of the local farmers still shake their heads in doubt. They grudgingly acknowledge that the newcomers' crops look better but insist that those vigorous-looking plants will never mature. "When I saw the planting I knew that they had made a big mistake," said Liman Mohammed, 43, of nearby Chikangiworo village. "What they're doing, well, maybe they don't know how to farm. My advice to them is that to farm here, they should make ridges. They should adjust the distance of their plants. Since we have been brought up, we've made ridges." Saraki, the governor, is eager to see the results. "We are waiting until harvest time to see how the Zimbabweans do against the Nigerians," he said. "Farmers are very conservative. They change only based on what they see. At the moment, they think [the Zimbabweans] are doing something wrong. It's only when they see the harvest come in, will they see that with the same rainfall, the same soil, those guys are doing 5 tons a hectare instead of 1. Then the Nigerian farmers will change."
As part of the Tsonga project, the Zimbabweans agreed to train local farmers in commercial techniques. "You have to get their respect by showing them you know what you're doing," said one of the transplants, Dan Swart, 60. "If a person doesn't respect you they're never going to do it. You see this vast, beautiful country, and there's very little agriculture. We are just a very small module and hopefully it will kick off." In addition to providing loans and leases, the Nigerians built roads, upgraded the airport and are bringing in electricity for the new venture. The farmers also are seeking irrigation and tax exemptions. Once the land is irrigated, the Zimbabweans believe, the yield will rise to 15 tons a hectare. The soil and rainfall are better in Kwara than in Zimbabwe. But the Zimbabweans, battered by their experience at home, were wary when Nigeria approached them last year. Mugabe's land redistribution has been widely criticized as ill-conceived and corrupt. Zimbabwe once exported food, but now must rely on imports and food aid. About 4,000 white farmers have lost their land since 2000, leaving only about 400. The land minister, Didymus Mutasa, was recently quoted by the state-controlled Daily Mail newspaper as saying the remaining farmers also should be expelled under the government's Operation Murambatsvina, or Clean Out the Filth. Millions of urban and rural homes and small businesses have been demolished under the program.
Nigeria has its own reputation for corruption, crime and fraud. "Unfortunately, Nigeria has not got a good brand," Saraki said. "There was a lot of apprehension. I had to personally talk to some of the wives and reassure them." Though impressed with the support of Saraki and Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo, the farmers have had their share of problems: Buildings and wells have been left half-finished when contractors disappeared. "The businesspeople need a kick up the backside. They're not too clever," said Allan Jack, the Zimbabweans' unofficial spokesman. "They say they can do a job and they have no idea what they're doing. The builder says 'I'll do it this week,' and it takes four months. And then he changes his price halfway through." The other frustration is financial. Although the government provides start-up loans, Nigerian banks are unfamiliar with the demands of commercial agriculture and reluctant to lend at competitive rates. "They've never seen anything of this scale, so they just don't understand it," Jack said. Without financing, he said, "it's another failed project in Africa, and there are millions of them in Nigeria." Obasanjo, who wants to attract 350 to 400 more Zimbabwean farmers, has convened meetings with banks and farmers to try to bridge the gap. Some Nigerians have criticized the venture as an example of white colonization. Saraki scoffs at the idea. A small number of farmers "cannot come out and colonize 1.2 million people in Kwara state," he said. "If we had a Nigerian who had the expertise and who can do it, it would be a different matter. No matter what we do in Nigeria, if we don't improve agriculture we are not going to fight poverty."
The Zimbabwean farmers have hired 1,000 local people at salaries up to 10 times the local norm. Televisions and electrical appliances have started to appear in the local market. The newly arrived whites, most of them born in Africa, say Mugabe's government failed to grasp that farming is more complicated than sticking a seed into the ground. Cocker, who has been promised the next farm available in Nigeria, recalled a street vendor in Zimbabwe who approached his car. "She just said, 'White man, go back to your farm and grow us some proper food.' They want us back," Cocker said wistfully. "You have to laugh, otherwise it will break your heart." To him, Zimbabwe will always be home. But he can't do the work he loves there. "I knew I could never sit behind a desk and be a pen pusher," he said. "The quality of life being a farmer is awesome. It's hard work, but it's worth it at the end of the day. "You know what needs to be done and how to do it. It's planting something and seeing it grow. It's a pride — pride in the crop." For Jack, leaving Africa was never an option. "I was born in Africa. Africa is home, and that's where I stay." Those attitudes, and the prospect of success in their new home, are beginning to convert a few skeptics. "I was thinking that their crop will not be good. Maybe it won't germinate very well," said Kehina Oyewo, 35, a local farmer. "But now I believe that these people are professional farmers. We have to listen and see how they farm."
News24 (SA), 30 September
Johannesburg - South Africa said on Friday it will give food assistance to seven drought-ridden countries including Zimbabwe after aid agencies warned of a looming humanitarian crisis in southern Africa. "The government has given favourable consideration to a recent request by the WFP (World Food Programme) for assistance in the light of the current food vulnerability in the region," the agriculture ministry said. Some R140m ($22m, E18m) will be allocated to provide food directly and help households produce their own sustenance, the ministry said. South Africa will help Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Swaziland, Zambia and Zimbabwe. More than 10 million people are in need of food aid in southern Africa, according to UN food agencies, which have warned that the situation could become as critical as in Niger, where 2.5 million of the country's 12 million people are facing food shortages. The two worst-hit countries in the region are Malawi and Zimbabwe, both with around four million people in need of food aid, although Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe maintains that only 2.4 million in the 13 million population need help. Food shortages is only one item on a long list of problems in Zimbabwe including sky-high inflation and unemployment, all on the backdrop of serious political tensions. The WFP warned in July that food shortages in southern Africa were expected to persist until the next harvest in May 2006. It urged donors to come up with $266m - or 477 000 tonnes of food - immediately for the southern African countries "to avoid widespread hunger from developing into a humanitarian disaster".