Cato Institute (Washington, DC)
2 October 2008
Posted to the web 2 October 2008
Steve H. Hanke
Zimbabwe is the first country in the 21st century to hyperinflate. In
February 2007, Zimbabwe's inflation rate topped 50% per month, the minimum
rate required to qualify as a hyperinflation (50% per month is equal to a
12,875% per year). Since then, inflation has soared.
The last official inflation data were released for June and are hopelessly
outdated. The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe has been even less forthcoming with
money supply data: the most recent money supply figures are ancient
Absent current official money supply and inflation data, it is difficult to
quantify the depth and breadth of the still-growing crisis in Zimbabwe. To
overcome this problem, Cato Senior Fellow Steve Hanke has developed the
Hanke Hyperinflation Index for Zimbabwe (HHIZ). This new metric is derived
from market-based price data and is presented in the accompanying table for
the January 2007 to present period. As of 26 September 2008, Zimbabwe's
annual inflation rate was 531 billion percent.
The HHIZ will be updated weekly and available on the Cato Institute's web
*Steve H. Hanke is one of the world's leading experts on exchange-rate
regimes. He has played a prominent role in designing and implementing
monetary reforms that have stopped very high or hyperinflations in eight
The Associated PressPublished: October 2, 2008
HARARE, Zimbabwe: Zimbabwe's financial crisis lurched into a new phase
Thursday, as efforts to put more cash into circulation appeared to backfire
into a new round of higher prices for basic goods. Government officials
threatened to arrest any shop owners found to be gouging.
Zimbabwe's Prices and Incomes Commission said it has seen "rampant and
unjustified price increases" since the start of the week, when the
government introduced higher denomination currency and raised the daily
limit on withdrawals from bank accounts.
The measures aimed to help ordinary Zimbabweans, who are struggling with the
world's highest inflation rate. The country's official inflation rate is 11
million percent a year, but private financial institutions estimate it is
Godwills Masimirembwa, head of the price commission, told state radio that
inspectors were out in the street Thursday to make sure that businesses were
sticking to prices approved by the commission on or before Sept. 26.
"Any businessperson charging prices that have not been approved will be
arrested and prosecuted for unscrupulous business practices," he said. "This
is a serious matter."
He said the offense carries a penalty of up to five years in prison.
"Everything is crazy around here," complained Joey Austin, a Harare salesman
handling wads of old and new money Thursday.
Huge crowds have been lining up at banks since Monday to withdraw money,
spilling off sidewalks and blocking traffic. People are desperate to take
out money to buy groceries, which can go up in price in minutes.
Edward Mungofa, a private business consultant, said the economy is suffering
because of political uncertainty over Zimbabwe's stalled negotiations on
forming a new power sharing government.
President Robert Mugabe and the opposition led by Prime Minister-designate
Morgan Tsvangirai signed a power-sharing deal Sept. 15, but have since been
unable to agree on which party should control key Cabinet posts.
South Africa's new president, Kgalema Motlanthe, said Thursday he wanted his
predecessor, Thabo Mbeki, to continue to mediate the power-sharing deal in
Zimbabwe - an idea rejected by chief Mugabe negotiator Patrick Chinamasa.
"I don't think that the issue of allocation of ministries is a matter that
can be referred (to Mbeki)," Chinamasa was quoted as saying by The Herald, a
Chinamasa said officials were confident of a breakthrough soon.
Harare, Zimbabwe, 23 September 2008
The statement of the Transparency International Chairperson Huguette
Labelle, contained in the press release by TI global Secretariat of 23
September 2008 (see TI website: www.transprency.org) calling the rising
levels of corruption in low - income countries 'an ongoing humanitarian
disaster' echoes TI Zimbabwe's own sentiments and qualifies its approach to
the fight against corruption in Zimbabwe, which from 2006 has taken a more
keen interest in the humanitarian consequences of corruption by looking at
social and public service delivery in local government.
With growing concern, TI Zimbabwe has watched the meagre resources and
services provided to the poor further strangled by bourgeoning corruption
that has tainted the complexion of everything and everyone fair in this
country. The governance framework that is characterised by weak
institutions, specifically parliament and judiciary, and in the face of
draconian laws and self-serving policies, has resulted in selective and
haphazard approaches in addressing corruption. Subsequently, this has
contributed to the weakening of institutions of governance necessary for the
curtailing of corruption. The lack of political will to comprehensively
approach the fight against corruption in a transparent and effective manner,
demonstrated by the failure to give oversight and leadership with integrity
and accountability, has allowed corruption to permeate all spheres of human
life so that the whole society is criminalized. There is no longer a
distinction between petty and grand corruption; the arrogance of corruptors
and corruptees and the skewed policies, force ordinary citizens between a
rock and a hard place in order to survive the increasingly unrelenting
social, economic and political environment.
At this point of the release of the 2008 Corruption Perception Index (CPI)
of 2008 the future seems exceedingly bleak. TI-Zimbabwe places the welfare
and equitable development of the masses at the heart of the agreement
between the three parties, ZANU PF and the two MDC formations, and calls on
them to demonstrate the necessary political will, integrity and
accountability by holding this deal together in order to realise the hopes
that people have placed on the power sharing agreement. They must put to an
end all the suffering caused by the misgovernance and the politicisation,
along partisan lines, of institutions of governance that has fuelled
corruption from top to bottom, and may yet be the final nail on the coffin
of a dying nation.
Zimbabwe scored 1,8 on the 2008 CPI and the country was ranked 166 out of
180 countries surveyed. There is clear evidence that as the political,
economic and social crisis has deepened, so has the corruption.
Statistically, Zimbabwe's score has slipped by about a 62% from 2.9 in 2001
to 1.8 in 2008. This evidence points to a direct correlation between the
crisis in governance and the rise of corruption. The CPI score measures the
degree of public sector corruption as perceived by experts and business
people and country analysts (See the TI website www.transaprency.org). While
TI Z is cognizant of the negative impact the sanctions have had on the
economic and social planning, the political leadership cannot abrogate their
responsibility to be custodians, protectors and promoters of values and
practices that prevent the perpetuation of corruption and bad governance.
With regard to anticipated investments in the wake of the power sharing
agreement it is noted that the press statement makes reference to the
findings of Prof Johann Graff Lambsdorff of the University of Passau,
commissioned by TI global to carry out the CPI, that imply that it is in the
best interest of low income states such as Zimbabwe to fight corruption and
improve the way investors perceive doing business in their countries. The
findings state ' there is evidence to suggest that the improvement in the
CPI by one point [on a 10 point scale] increases capital inflows by 0.5% of
a country's gross domestic product and averages incomes by as much as 4%'
The TI global Chairperson Huguette Labelle in the press release, further
makes the point that high corruption levels in poor countries can mean the
difference between life and death, an issue already explored by TI Zimbabwe
in a study conducted between 2006- 2007 that looked at corruption in public
service delivery in the health sector with a specific focus on HIV/AIDS. The
devastating effects of corruption on the vulnerable in our society should be
the driving factor in strengthening the national strategies against
corruption whose flagship is the Anti Corruption Commission (ACC) as
supported by the Ministry of Anti Corruption. Specifically this can be done
by making the ACC independent, strengthening the oversight role of
Parliament and offices of the Auditor General and Ombudsmen by making them
more responsive and transparent to the public, as well as opening up the
space for civil society to play an effective watchdog role.
TI Zimbabwe notes with regret the early signs of a continuing culture of
lack of integrity and accountability from some quarters of the leadership
who are signatories to the power sharing agreement. Asset stripping must
stop forthwith. Egos and partisan interests before those of the nation are
delaying the formation of a government and the implementation of the issues
raised in the agreement. The nation is geared for a period of transition and
the reform of critical governance institutions is critical to boosting
social and economic development for the betterment of the people's
livelihoods. The leadership must be held accountable to deliver the promised
Amendment No.19 that will usher in a new dispensation. The new dispensation
must be open enough to allow civil society to operate freely and play its
role of watchdog alongside the media and other public oversight
institutions. Civil society must continue, without fear or favour, to
execute their mandate. Their role is more critical now than ever before. TI
Zimbabwe calls on all Zimbabweans to demand the prioritization of
institutional reform, the end of corruption and misgovernance in Zimbabwe as
we all look forward to a future of participatory democracy and negotiated
engagement between state and non-state actors in shaping the future of
+263 4 793 246
Thu 2 Oct 2008, 8:48 GMT
By MacDonald Dzirutwe
HARARE (Reuters) - South Africa's new government called on former President
Thabo Mbeki on Thursday to continue as the region's mediator in Zimbabwe's
political crisis despite his ousting as president.
But a senior official with Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe's ZANU-PF
party said Mbeki's involvement was not needed now to break an impasse
threatening to derail a power-sharing deal and the recovery of the African
nation's shattered economy.
Mbeki, a trouble-shooter in a series of African crises during nine years as
president, brokered the September 15 deal between Mugabe and MDC leader
Morgan Tsvangirai that is to establish a unity government.
Mbeki's role was thrown into doubt after his ruling ANC forced him to
resign. Pressure for him to become involved again has grown as Mugabe's
party and the MDC argue over the allocation of cabinet posts.
"Mr. Mbeki's facilitation efforts in Zimbabwe have proven his dispassionate
vision for a lasting political solution to the challenges facing Zimbabwe,"
new South African President Kgalema Motlanthe said in a statement.
"Accordingly, our government has full confidence in Mr. Mbeki's ability to
build on the historic successes already made in the power sharing
negotiations under his mediation."
Tsvangirai's Movement for Democratic Change initially criticised Mbeki as
being too soft on Mugabe, but it now supports him continuing his 18-month
mediation under a mandate from the 15-nation Southern African Development
ZANU-PF, which lost control of parliament in a March election and entered
the talks reluctantly, said it did not see any immediate need for mediation
over the dispute on cabinet posts.
"I don't think that the issue of allocation of ministries is a matter that
can be referred to the facilitator (Mbeki)," Patrick Chinamasa, chief
ZANU-PF negotiator at the talks, was quoted as saying in the state-run
"We cannot, at the slightest difference in opinion, call outsiders to
mediate. If there is thinking on such kind of an approach, it has to stop in
the interest of harmonisation of relations," Chinamasa said.
Mugabe, who has ruled since independence from Britain in 1980, has expressed
confidence that the cabinet would be named this week. But MDC leader Morgan
Tsvangirai and his officials say a deal is not imminent.
The opposition accuses Mugabe's party of trying to assign the opposition a
junior role in government.
Without a breakthrough, Zimbabwe's economy could worsen still further. The
once-prosperous nation is crumbling under inflation of about 11 million
percent -- the highest in the world -- and chronic food shortages.
U.N. humanitarian chief John Holmes estimated that three million Zimbabweans
were already relying on aid and that the figure could rise to five million,
or about half the population, the BBC reported on Thursday.
(Additional reporting by Paul Simao in Johannesburg; Editing by Matthew
Oct 2, 2008, 9:25 GMT
Johannesburg - Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe's Zanu-PF party has opposed
calling in ex-South African president Thabo Mbeki to salvage a power-sharing
deal with prime minister-designate Morgan Tsvangirai's Movement for
Democratic Change (MDC).
Zanu-PF's chief negotiator Patrick Chinamasa rejected calls from the MDC for
Mbeki to step in to end the impasse between the two parties over the
distribution of cabinet posts in a new unity government.
Mbeki is the Southern African Development Community (SADC)'s mediator in
Zimbabwe, who brokered the power-sharing deal between Mugabe and Tsvangirai
SADC said they expected him to continue in the role after he stepped down as
South African president on September 21.
'I don't think that the issue of allocation of ministries is a matter that
can be referred to the facilitator (Mbeki). We cannot, at the slightest
difference in opinion, call outsiders to mediate,' Chinamasa was quoted by
the state-controlled Herald newspaper Thursday as saying.
'Even if you are a married couple, you cannot have a situation where your
wife runs to her mother each time you have a problem in your home. If there
is thinking on such a kind of approach, it has to stop in the interest of
harmonization of relations,' he added.
On Tuesday, Mugabe and Tsvangirai held talks but failed to finalize the
make-up of cabinet.
Under a deal the longtime foes signed on September 15, Mugabe's party is
supposed to get 15 posts in a 31-member cabinet, Tsvangirai's party is to
get 13 and the remaining three go to a splinter MDC faction led by Arthur
The MDC blames Mugabe for the delay in implementing the deal, saying he
wants to retain 'all the key ministries,' such as foreign affairs, home
affairs and finance. Western governments have been calling for the MDC to
have the upper hand in government.
MDC spokesman Nelson Chamisa told Deutsche Presse-Agentur dpa Thursday that
his party had complained to SADC.
'We won the March 29 (parliamentary) election but they (Zanu-PF) want us to
play second fiddle,' Chamisa complained.
'We hope they (SADC and the African Union) chip in quickly and the impasse
A unity government that attracts aid and investment is seen as the only real
solution to Zimbabwe's economic collapse. The September deal ended Mugabe's
28-year stranglehold on power, but the euphoria has since evaporated as
hardliners in his party balk at sharing power with the MDC.
On his return home from the UN General Assembly in New York on Monday,
Mugabe said that the new government would be formed by the end of the week.
Tsvangirai said at the weekend a new government was urgently needed to avoid
starvation in the country, whose food production capacity has been wiped out
by a decade of disastrous policies.
02 October 2008
If Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe does not soon agree to a fully
inclusive Cabinet, it is likely that former South African President Thabo Mbeki
will be in Harare before the weekend. Mr. Mbeki has remained in contact with the
stumbling Zimbabwean peace deal he facilitated last month on behalf of the
Southern African Development Community.
Sources tell VOA negotiations on forming a Cabinet are taking place almost continuously in Harare at various levels in the political hierarchy.
A source with a long and close knowledge of the negotiations tells VOA the Cabinet should have been formed two weeks ago.
|Zimbabwe's new Deputy PM Arthur Mutambara, President Robert Mugabe, new PM Morgan Tsvangirai pose after signing power-sharing accord in Harare, 15 Sep 2008|
|South African President Thabo Mbeke (file photo)|
APA-Harare (Zimbabwe) Delays in appointing Zimbabwe's new cabinet have
worsened friction between the ruling ZANU PF and the opposition Movement for
Democratic Change (MDC) over the control of local government councils, APA
learnt here Thursday.
The MDC declared that its elected councillors would not take orders from
Local Government Minister Ignatius Chombo, whom it accuses of meddling in
the affairs of the opposition-dominated local authorities.
The party accused Chombo of imposing handpicked ZANU PF supporters who would
serve as "special interest councillors" in MDC-dominated urban councils.
The MDC said Chombo had no right to meddle with council decisions in most
cities and towns as "he is not a cabinet minister".
"There is no legitimate government in Zimbabwe at the moment and the nation
is eagerly awaiting the conclusion of inter-party talks so that an inclusive
government can begin to respond to the needs of the people," an MDC
spokesperson said Thursday.
Relations between the MDC-dominated urban councils and Chombo came to a head
on Tuesday after the minister allegedly threatened the elected mayor of the
third city of Mutare for refusing to co-opt ZANU PF officials into the
The minister is alleged to have threatened to dismiss the 12-member city
council unless they installed the ruling party officials.
The appointment of a new cabinet is deadlocked after President Robert Mugabe
and MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai failed to agree on control of key
By Lance Guma
02 October 2008
Zimbabwe's labour unions faced increasing calls to act in the wake of
worsening economic conditions in the country despite the power sharing
accord signed two weeks ago. Last week the umbrella Zimbabwe Congress of
Trade Unions issued a 7 day ultimatum to the Central Bank to scrap cash
withdrawal limits which have created long winding queues at the banks. After
a series of half measures from the bank, including an increase of the cash
limit from Z$1000 to Z$20 000, ZCTU appear to have backed down saying the
threatened strike, 'penciled in for 1st October has been deferred while we
assess, in consultation with our structures, the impact of the RBZ move.'
Three days after that statement was issued the country is in the throes of a
worsening financial crisis. The new cash withdrawal limits have simply
triggered a new wave of prices increases, forcing people to adjust upwards
the amount of money they need for daily requirements. Everyday riot police
are being deployed to control huge crowds jostling to withdraw money from
the banks. Many times the banks do not even have the money to dispense,
while on some occasions deliveries from the Reserve Bank arrive late in the
afternoon. The queues are so big they are spilling off into side walks and
A black market dealer told Newsreel, 'there are so many people already on
the street trying to get money from the banks, we don't know why the ZCTU
backed out of their planned strike action.' His sentiments were echoed by a
political commentator who said the ZCTU had missed a chance to harness the
collective anger of a suffering population. 'It's hard to understand why
Zimbabweans put up with all this nonsense? If these things happened in other
countries you would have spontaneous protests, but we seem to have developed
a habit of normalizing the abnormal.'
Raymond Majongwe, the Secretary General of the militant Progressive Teachers
Union of Zimbabwe (PTUZ), said they were considering a demonstration by
teachers against the Z$20 000 cash withdrawal limit. He decried the limit
saying it was not even enough to buy an orange or a packet of lacto milk
(Z$37 000). Majongwe said the way forward was for all unions in the country
to rally together and tackle the crisis affecting them as workers. He
confirmed that 90 percent of teachers were still on strike, with a handful
adopting a mercenary attitude by charging students Z$300 to $1000 a day for
lessons and others receiving payment in the form of cooking oil and sugar.
This he said was compromising their strike action.
Meanwhile government officials, burying their heads in the sand over the sky
rocketing prices, responded in the usual high handed manner threatening to
arrest shop owners accused of profiteering. The head of the pricing
commission, Godwills Masimirembwa, told state radio price that inspectors
would be out on the streets on Thursday and, 'any businessperson charging
prices that have not been approved will be arrested and prosecuted for
unscrupulous business practices.'
Analysts say in the absence of fundamental political and economic reforms
the situation can only get worse.
SW Radio Africa Zimbabwe news
Thursday, 02 October 2008 05:38
ZANU-PF's rejection of the MDC's call for Thabo Mbeki to intervene in the
cabinet formation talks was inspired by ZANU-PF leaders' desire to see the
deadlock continue for weeks to come, the Tribune heard.
Negotiations to form a cabinet have with Tsvangirai's Movement for
Democratic Change (MDC) claiming that Mugabe wants to retain all key
posts -- believed to be the defence, home affairs, state security and
After Mugabe and Tsvangirai failed to resolve their differences during a
meeting Tuesday, the MDC called on Mbeki and the regional bloc SADC to
resume their mediation to break through the logjam.
But the chief negotiator for Mugabe's ruling ZANU-PF party denied there was
any deadlock, saying no outside mediation was needed.
"Anyone who says there is a deadlock is being mischievous. There is
commitment on all of us to make things work," Patrick Chinamasa said.
"If there was a disagreement as is being suggested, I don't think it's one
that would justify calling in the facilitator," Chinamasa said.
"If there are any issues, I believe they can resolve them among themselves,"
MDC spokesman Nelson Chamisa said the party had already contacted the
15-nation Southern African Development Community (SADC), which has appointed
Mbeki as its mediator.
"This is an urgent matter, communication lines to SADC have been activated,"
Chamisa told AFP.
Mbeki's forced resignation as South Africa's president last week raised
concerns about the fragile pact he had brokered to divide powers between
Mugabe as president and Tsvangirai in the new post of prime minister.
Mugabe said Monday that a new government would be formed by the end of the
week, but that now appears a dim prospect.
SADC spokesman Charles Mubita on Wednesday said the group had not been
contacted about the stand-off but said Mbeki was the "only channel" for
handling Zimbabwe's crisis.
"If there is anything that needs to be discussed with Zimbabwe, there are
channels, and the only channel is through the facilitator," he told AFP.
"They will then have to get in touch with the SADC mediator, which is former
president Thabo Mbeki."
Mbeki's spokesman Mukoni Ratshitanga said SADC would have to "formally
pronounce" whether the former president would continue as mediator.
However he added: "President Mbeki will participate in any process that is
aimed at taking the African continent a step forward."
In rejection the intervention of Mbeki, ZANU-PF officials opposed to the GNU
deal hope to extend the deadlock for sometime to come, MDC officials charged
In keeping the deadlock in place, the ministers who stand to lose office if
the new cabinet takes over will keep their positions. As long as the new
cabinet is not allowed to take office, security chiefs in the police and the
army will rest easy in the knowledge that they wouldn't likely face
prosecution for their crimes.
Less three weeks ago, Chinamasa told the media that it will take all of two
months before a new cabinet sworn in. Looking back, it seems he was right.
There are several factions within ZANU-PF who pushing for the collapse of
the GNU deal, analysts have said.
Thursday, 02 October 2008 08:46
APA-Harare (Zimbabwe) Zimbabwean shops and fuel stations started
selling commodities in foreign currency Wednesday, more than two weeks after
the central bank relaxed exchange control regulations to allow trading in
the US dollar and other stable currencies.
After a slow take-off for the new foreign currency-trading scheme, a
handful of shops started selling in US dollars or South African rands.
Others were taking orders from consumers, with promises to import the
commodities from South Africa.
Several filling stations in the capital Harare and the second largest
city of Bulawayo displayed prices of fuel on boards, a situation that had
become rare since the country's economic problems started in 2000.
The price of petrol ranged from US1.20 to US$1.30 a litre at service
stations in the capital.
The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe allowed trading in foreign currency in
September after bowing to pressure from industrialists and retailers who
were failing to cope with record inflation of more than 11 million percent.
The exchange control relaxation formalised a flourishing black market
for goods and services that had become the accepted way of life in
The delay in implementing the new scheme was blamed on problems in
installing retail software to capture the transaction in the multiple
currencies. - APA
By Violet Gonda
2 October 2008
It has taken a plate of plain sadza to drive desperate and hungry students
to say enough is enough. Students at Harare Polytechnic demonstrated on
Wednesday night, protesting deplorable conditions at the state institution.
The Zimbabwe National Students Union (ZINASU) said after weeks of just
eating boiled cabbage with no salt or oil, the students could take no more
when the canteen menu changed to just plain sadza and no relish.
The cash strapped students say the situation was worsened by the fact that
they were forced to pay Z$17 billion for their food by the college
authorities. Although the money was later reduced to Z$1.6 billion none of
the students who had paid the full amount have been reimbursed.
The infrastructure at the college, as at most government institutions, is
facing complete collapse. ZINASU said: "184 students who inhabit one of the
institution's six hostels are being forced to use only one toilet, as all
the others are not functioning."
The college authorities say hyper-inflation is eroding the little money they
have and have run out of funds for repairs.
ZINASU coordinator Mfundo Mlilo told SW Radio Africa the Wednesday's
protests resulted in a food committee and a student representative body
being formed at the college, to represent the interests of the students.
The news of the student unrest comes at a time when Zimbabwe is reeling
under its worst ever economic crisis. Tens of thousands of people spend days
queuing just to try and get their own cash out of the banks. Efforts to put
more money in circulation backfired on Thursday as it only served to
increase prices of basic commodities.
And Zimbabweans continue to suffer in silence. There has been no show of
public outcry over the deteriorating situation in the country. Mlilo
believes this is because of the general fear of the Mugabe regime which
reacts violently. The student leader said: "I will tell you that since 2003,
when I left the University of Zimbabwe, over 100 students have been
expelled. And this number which is within the last five years is greater
than the number of students who were expelled during the Rhodesian
government. This should speak volumes about the nature of the reaction by
But he said Zimbabweans are finally getting fed up and are coming to a stage
where they cannot stomach living as they do for one moment longer.
Everything hinges on the success of the intra party deal, but the student
movement is said to be now getting ready to mobilise for real protests.
SW Radio Africa Zimbabwe news
UN calls for increased farming production to prevent an extra 2 million
people becoming reliant on food and medical aid
Thursday October 02 2008 11:46 BST
Almost half the population of Zimbabwe could soon be dependent on food and
medical aid, the UN's humanitarian chief said today.
John Holmes, the UN's under-secretary general for humanitarian affairs, said
that around 3 million people were already reliant on aid, and that figure
could rise to more than 5 million.
He said it was a critical time because preparations needed to be made now
for next year's harvest to avoid millions more people becoming reliant on
aid. The main growing season in Zimbabwe lasts from now until March.
"Planting season for the next harvest starts in five or six weeks' time, at
least for maize, and there is massive shortage of seeds and fertilisers in
the country because of the economic situation," he told the BBC's World
"We're looking to see whether we can accelerate even at this late stage and
get some of those seeds and fertilisers and other imports into the hands of
small farmers," said Holmes.
He said he hoped the farmers would plant more seeds "so they can harvest
more, so we have less of a food assistance problem next year".
Holmes also said that access for aid agencies had improved since last
month's power-sharing deal was agreed between the Movement for Democratic
Change (MDC) and Robert Mugabe's Zanu-PF party.
Mugabe ordered aid groups to suspend work in June ahead of the presidential
run-off election, leaving millions at the mercy of state food distribution.
Aid groups also complained that the government had given food primarily to
The UN estimated Zimbabwe's population at 13.3 million in 2007, with an
average life expectancy of 44 for men and 43 for women.
02 Oct 2008
Source: CARE - Canada
CARE urges international community to step up support
Harare, Zimbabwe Oct. 2, 2008 - CARE is calling on the international
community to meet the WFP appeal to avert a food crisis in a country already
staggering under record inflation and food shortages.
The UN has said three million people are already reliant on aid, and that
figure could rise to five million. CARE is one of WFP's largest partners in
Zimbabwe, and is also a member of the Consortium for Southern African Food
Emergency food distribution program funded by USAID Food for Peace. CARE
plans to steadily increase food distributions each month from about 450,000
people in October to more than 900,000 people per month in the peak hunger
period from January to March.
The WFP is appealing for US$151 million to purchase maize regionally in
order to meet this year's food aid gap, caused by a poor harvest and the
country's economic crisis. WFP's current food stocks will last until only
January, 2009, when most poor families across the country often have nothing
left to eat from the previous harvest.
"We are in a crisis, and we're appealing for relief now so this doesn't
become a famine," said Stephen Gwynne-Vaughan, Country Director of CARE in
Zimbabawe. "Right now, we have food stocks to support distributions through
to January. But when the food aid runs out in January, there will be a
"Timing is crucial. Donors need to meet the WFP appeal now so we can get the
food here before January."
In Zimbabwe, which used to be a major exporter of food, harvests have been
increasingly poor due to the country's spiraling economic crisis. This
year's harvest is only enough to feed one-third of the population, leaving a
gap of 1.2 million metric tonnes of grains. The government is expected to
import 800,000 metric tonnes of food to fill the markets for those people
who can still afford to buy food, and the WFP will distribute food aid for
the millions of poor families who qualify for food assistance.
"In some communities, up to 80 percent of the people need food aid," said
Gwynne-Vaughan. "Families cope with food crises in different ways. Normally
people change the staple foods they eat-they substitute more expensive
preferred foods for lower quality and less nutritious foods. In Zimbabwe
there is not enough food in the markets, so people reduce the size of the
meals they eat, and they reduce the number of meals they eat in a day."
About CARE: CARE is one of the world's leading humanitarian organizations.
CARE has been working in Zimbabwe since 1992, implementing programs in small
economic development, agriculture and natural resource management, water and
sanitation, health and emergency response. NOTE to editors: In August, the
Zimbabwean government lifted a temporary ban that restricted aid agencies,
including CARE, from working in the country. CARE's activities are now
proceeding as normal
Thu 2 Oct 2008, 16:19 GMT
By Muchena Zigomo
PRETORIA, Oct 2 (Reuters) - South African farmers will help rebuild
Zimbabwean agriculture if the new government can resuscitate the stagnant
sector, a senior South African farming official said on Thursday.
Once a regional breadbasket, Zimbabwe is now in the grip of an economic
crisis marked by food and fuel shortages, and the world's highest inflation
rate of more than 11 million percent.
The country faces another poor growing season this year because seed and
fertiliser has been in short supply.
Zimbabweans and relief agencies hope a power-sharing deal signed last month
between President Robert Mugabe and opposition leaders Morgan Tsvangirai and
Arthur Mutambara will herald an economic recovery.
"What we will try to do, if the agriculture sector is stabilised again, is
to definitely try to negotiate deals for them," Lourie Bosman, president of
South Africa's largest farmers' grouping AgriSA, told Reuters.
"(That will mean) bringing expertise, bringing new supplies which they don't
have at the moment."
South Africa has one of the strongest agricultural sectors in Africa, in
contrast to Zimbabwe, where critics have long argued Mugabe's seizure of
white-owned commercial farms for landless blacks suffocated farming.
Now most foreign aid and investment in Zimbabwean agriculture hinges on the
new government enacting democratic and economic reforms.
The U.S. Agency for International Development's (USAID) Famine Early Warning
Systems Network (FEWSNET) said in an alert last week Zimbabwe could run out
of basic food grains by early November as imports have been insufficient to
make up for another disastrous harvest this year.
It said food imports had to triple between now and March 2009 from the
current average of about 8,786 tonnes a week.
"Their agriculture sector has been ruined completely. There is just about no
agriculture sector left," Bosman said.
Tsvangirai, who will become prime minister in a new unity government, said
its first action would be to "stop the devastating food shortages" and to
"unlock the food already in our country and distribute it to our people."
But the stalled allocation of cabinet ministries has delayed the
much-anticipated economic recovery programme.
South Africa's government said last month it would "do everything necessary"
to help revive Zimbabwe's agriculture before the start of the summer rains.
It said it would send a task team led by its treasury, agriculture and
foreign ministries, working with other Southern Africa Development Community
(SADC) countries, to develop an emergency intervention plan to lift the
Thousands of white farmers have fled Zimbabwe since the land seizures began
in 2000. Farmers' groups said their members were attacked after elections
held in March.
"We cannot persuade (farmers) to return but we can persuade people to
invest," said Bosman. (Editing by Matthew Jones)
October 1, 2008
By Our Correspondent
BULAWAYO - Zanu-PF militiamen, some claiming to be war veterans - who led a
terror campaign during the run-up to the June 27 presidential election -
have evicted Rejoice Sibanda-Ncube, who also claims to be a war veteran,
from her farm in Nyamandlovu, Matabeleland North after she refused to feed
The militias are to this day still camped at an election campaign base
adjacent to her farm.
The now starving Zanu-PF militiamen looted maize as well as farm machinery
and other property, which Sibanda-Ncube says she inherited from the previous
owner of the farm, who was evicted from during the violent land occupations
by Zanu-PF supporters in 2000.
Sibanda-Ncube was evicted from her Redwood Farm in Nyamandlovu last Friday
by the militiamen who were angered by her refusal to provide food at their
Sibanda-Ncube, a beneficiary of the chaotic land reform programme which
followed the farm invasions, confirmed to The Zimbabwe Times she had been
ordered off the farm.
The farm occupations - led by so-called war veterans - saw white commercial
farmers forcibly removed from their land in what President Robert Mugabe
said was a move to correct the wrongs of the colonial past.
Alex Goosen, a commercial farmer, was the previous owner of Redwood Farm
before he was violently removed from the land by the invading gangs.
Sources said Sibanda-Ncube was force-marched out of the farm at midnight by
more than 10 militiamen on Friday, ostensibly because she was not attending
Zanu-PF meetings in the area and was also refusing to provide food to the
militiamen or so called war veterans at their campaign base.
In an interview yesterday, Sibanda-Ncube confirmed her eviction.
"They came around 1am on Friday last week and force-marched me and my three
children," said a traumatized Sibanda-Ncube. "They accused me of being a
sell-out by not attending Zanu-PF meetings and not sending food to their
"They were led by Ngwiza Ncube, the war veterans' leader in Nyamandlovu and
Ngwenya, the Zanu-PF chairman for the area. They warned me against setting
foot on the farm as they said the farm now belonged to them."
Sibanda-Ncube said she returned to the farm after two days, seeking
permission from the war veterans, now camped there, to collect her clothes.
She discovered that all her property and some farming equipment which
including harrows, wheel barrows, and bags of maize had been looted by the
"The militias and war veterans have looted all my property and threatened to
shoot me if I set a foot again on the farm," said a distraught
She told The Zimbabwe Times that she has sought legal recourse in a bid to
reclaim back her land.
The 2000 land reform programme slashed agriculture production in the country
to low levels as reflected by the food shortages that have gripped the
nation annually since then.
Some of the farm invaders, who claim to be veterans of Zimbabwe's liberation
struggle in the 70s, are merely unemployed youths taking advantage of a
chaotic political situation.
Thursday, 02 October 2008 08:25
The Speaker of Zimbabwe's Parliament Honorable Lovemore Moyo says the
incoming inclusive government should deliver on the letter and spirit of the
agreement signed by Zanu PF and the two MDC formations in view of the
restrictive nature of laws such as the Access to Information and Protection
of Privacy Act (AIPPA), Public Order and Security Act (POSA) and
Broadcasting Services Act (BSA).
Speaking at the National Journalistic and Media Awards (NJAMA) on 26
September 2008 in Harare Honorable Moyo who was the guest of speaker,
conceded that parliament had over the years passed various media laws such
as AIPPA, POSA and BSA that "have hindered freedom of expression". "These
laws provide for stringent licensing conditions which makes it difficult for
new players to come in and very difficult for journalists to operate. As
Parliament we stand ready to play our part in the liberalisation of the
media in line with the spirit of the agreement among the political parties
which seeks to improve the operating environment of the media," he said.
Article XIX (a) of the agreement states: the government shall ensure
the immediate processing by the appropriate authorities of all applications
for re-registration and registration in terms of both the Broadcasting
Services Act as well as the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy
Associated Newspapers of Zimbabwe (ANZ) publishers of The Daily News
and The Daily News on Sunday have been battling to be granted an operating
licence since the banning of their publications in September 2003 by the
Media and Information Commission (MIC) in terms of the repressive AIPPA
under which The Tribune and The Weekly Times also met with a similar fate.
"It is my hope that the inclusive government will deliver on this
commitment and dedicate itself to achieving this goal," said the Speaker.
"Government interference should be discouraged to ensure impartial and
accurate reporting, while the media must afford its readers an opportunity
to criticise it when necessary."
He said only a free press is best placed to afford citizens
information on the actions, decisions and performance of those they have
elected to represent them as well as holding them accountable. "So the onus
is on the media to inform and educate the public on the detail of the
agreement and the need to promote national healing.
"The media thus has an enormous responsibility in that regard and can
easily be discredited if it becomes a blatant propaganda tool, resorts to
selective or partisan reporting."
The Speaker said Africa was replete with examples of conflict and
instability arising from partisan journalism. He lamented the fact that
there were certain sections of the public media that continue to report
negatively about the opposition leadership contrary to the spirit and letter
of the agreement.
Referring to the media as the glue that holds democracy together,
Honorable Moyo said: "It is therefore indisputable that the public media has
the public service responsibility of taking a leading role in the healing of
"It is against this background that I call upon the independent and
public media to have a paradigm shift in order to play a positive role in
"This can only come from journalism that digs and probes and questions
rather one that accepts moribund ideas that tend to be divisive of our
"Ladies and Gentlemen, we stand at the beginning of a new dawn. It is
my hope that the media will play its role to ensure that accountability is
promoted, transparency ensured and good governance achieved."
Students not likely to write final exams
Published 2008-10-02 16:42 (KST)
For almost three weeks, schools has been literally closing down in most
districts of Zimbabwe as teachers strike for pay rise and better working
Schools have closed and several more are facing the same situation. Some of
boarding-students are going back home at a time when they are preparing to
write their year-end examinations, placing even greater pressure on the
School children from most government schools in the country have had no
lessons since the school term opened because of the teachers strike.
Takavafira Zhou, the president of the Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe
(PTUZ), said children cannot be expected to write exams when they have not
attended lessons. He said his Union has sent letters to the authorities
saying the most logical and realistic thing was to postpone the exams "or
even declare that 2008 is altogether a forgotten year and we may start
afresh next year, assuming that the new deal will work and perhaps
conditions would have improved."
Practical exams for science students have already started and Zhou said in
some schools "grounds people" are invigilating the exams because of the
teachers" strike. "It's a tragedy. Even June exams, the markings were
abandoned because the teachers refused to mark. So assuming that they will
write, who will mark?" quipped Zhou .
PTUZ, the biggest grouping of educators in the country, said told OhmyNews
that 15,200 teachers had migrated to neighbouring states, such as South
Africa, Botswana, Namibia and Swaziland, since the beginning of 2007.
Raymond Majongwe, PTUZ's secretary-general, confirmed that the mass exodus
of teachers was forcing schools to close, while many institutions were
operating with a skeleton teaching staff.
"Matabeleland North (Province) has been the most affected one as a result of
teacher shortages," said Majongwe. He said 8,000 teachers had left Zimbabwe
after the first term, while another 7,200 left after the second term.
Over the years teacher's salaries have not kept pace with Zimbabwe's
official inflation rate of more than 6,000 percent, while neighbouring South
Africa has embarked on a recruitment drive for teachers in the Southern
Africa Development Community (SADC) to bolster their own teacher numbers.
October 2, 2008 | By Staff
Police Commissioner Augustine Chihuri has threatened to resign if Mugabe
goes ahead and allocates the Ministry of Home Affairs to the MDC,sources
Chihuri reportedly met President Robert Mugabe at State House in Harare
early this week and told him that he cannot directly work under any MDC
"The President was told that by Chihuri that he will step down if he handed
over the home Affairs ministry. " revealed a source who attended the
Meanwhile ZANU PF 's chief negotiator Patrick Chinamasa has downplayed the
deadlock over allocation of four key ministries telling state media that
progress has been made.
"I don't think that the issue of allocation of ministries is a matter that
can be referred to the facilitator . We cannot, at the slightest difference
in opinion, call outsiders to mediate. Even if you are a married couple, you
cannot have a situation where your wife runs to her mother each time you
have a problem in your home. If there is thinking on such a kind of
approach, it has to stop in the interest of harmonisation of relations," he
told The Herald.
Chinamasa went on to claim that the Deputy Prime Minister designate
Thokozani Khuphe has already toured her new office to be located in downtown
"I understand offices for Mr Tsvangirai and the two Deputy Prime Ministers
have already been set aside at Munhumutapa Building and that MDC-T vice
president Thokozani Khupe has already been to the building to see the
offices", said Chinamasa.
Earlier MDC spokesman Nelson Chamisa told The Star newpaper that they has
been no progress in the stalemate.
"This approach of claiming the marrow of the government while peripherising
the MDC is completely unacceptable. The mistake that Zanu-PF is making is to
imagine that we are desperate to be in the government. We are not in a hurry
to be chauffeur-driven. We are a people-driven party.", he said.
Financial Gazette (Harare)
27 September 2008
Posted to the web 2 October 2008
Nelson Chenga & Charles Rukuni
A HEALTH disaster of unimaginable proportions looms in Harare after the
water situation deteriorated even further this week, sparking fresh health
concerns as an outbreak of cholera in Chitungwiza claimed two more lives
this week bringing to 13 the total number of deaths so far.
The water crisis in Harare and in Chitungwiza, approximately 30 kilometres
south of the capital, has reached critical levels forcing doctors and the
cities' residents associations to exert pressure on government to put its
house in order and avoid continued loss of lives.
Faced with severe shortages of foreign currency required to import water
purification chemicals and spares to repair the ageing water infrastructure,
the government has all but admitted it does not have the capacity to deal
with the problem.
The confusion over Cabinet appointments has not helped the situation.
The Zimbabwe Association of Doctors for Human Rights (ZADHR) this week said
a serious health crisis looms in urban areas owing to the severe shortage of
Failure by the state-run Zimbabwe National Water Authority (ZINWA) to treat
and pump adequate supplies of water has left most urban homes dry and forced
residents to rely on unsafe sources of water.
This, coupled with a breakdown in the sanitation system (burst sewage pipes
and lack of refuse collection and proper disposal) is threatening the health
of millions of Zimbabweans at a time when the health delivery system is
least prepared to deal with any major outbreak of diseases due to the brain
drain and the shortage of drugs.
Water and sanitation experts, including the few engineers left at ZINWA,
have warned of the impending health and environmental crisis but their
appeals have fallen on deaf ears.
ZINWA has since admitted it has not been treating the more than 300
megalitres of waste produced in the capital, which is simply being
discharged into Harare's main source of raw water, Lake Chivero.
The untreated waste water has contaminated more than half of Lake Chivero.
As a result the water treatment bill has spiked to such levels that ZINWA is
now unable to procure the enormous amount of chemicals needed to treat the
murky Chivero water for safe human consumption.
Water experts have also said the treatment of Harare water has become
complicated because the waste water discharges were highly contaminated with
industrial toxins, which need complex methods to remove, thus exposing
consumers to health complications other than cholera.
"The new government must address this crisis as a matter of urgency. It is a
matter, which cannot wait for resolution of differences or 'sticking
points'. Public service provision has been inadequate for several years and
requires urgent and comprehensive remedial action," said ZADHR.
The association told The Financial Gazette this week that access to safe
drinking water and to adequate sanitation are basic human rights and not
"They (access to sanitation and water) are determinants of health, which if
not made available can result in outbreaks of diarrhoea, cholera and
dysentery that are life threatening.
"Lives have already been lost to cholera in Chitungwiza and health centres
in Harare and Bulawayo are burdened by numerous cases of diarrhoea on a
daily basis. It is highly likely that the number of deaths in Chitungwiza,
currently reported at 13 individuals, is much higher, and that this is but
the tip of an iceberg of much more morbidity. This has not been communicated
to the public," said the association.
Outbreaks of cholera at any time are symptomatic of serious structural
problems within the system of public works. They are more common when rains
have resulted in flooding or overload of drainage systems.
An outbreak in the middle of the dry season is particularly disturbing.
This week Health Minister David Parirenyatwa urged urbanites to be on high
alert in the wake of the outbreak of cholera in Chitungwiza.
"I would like to urge those who might be experiencing watery diarrhoea,
vomiting and rapid severe dehydration to quickly report to any clinic," the
daily Herald quoted the Minister as saying.
But the association of doctors yesterday said it was not good enough for the
Health Ministry to respond to disease outbreak only after it has occurred.
"It is paramount that it (Ministry of Health) works in conjunction with
other ministries concerned, such as that responsible for water resources,
and ZINWA, to ensure that disease is prevented and that Zimbabwean's right
to the highest attainable state of physical and mental well being is
respected," it said.
Meanwhile, water problems have once again come to the fore in Bulawayo
following reports that staff from ZINWA who are supposed to maintain
boreholes at the Nyamandlovu aquifer, one of the city's lifelines, have
abandoned the site.
The council only has 20 months of water supply left and has been banking on
rehabilitating boreholes at Nyamandlovu. The council had asked ZINWA to
allow it to lease an agreed number of boreholes, which the council would
maintain but ZINWA has refused to commit itself.
The council says it has the spare parts and the staff to maintain the
boreholes as well as well-wishers who are prepared to fund the operations.
ZINWA, which was allowed technically to take over water supplies in the city
but never did so, is reported to have lost a lot of its staff. Its
maintenance team at Nyamandlovu was reported to have left the site.
The parastatal has been facing persistent cash shortages with staff going
for months without pay.
The mayor Clr Thaba Moyo was concerned about the latest development because
the council could not rehabilitate the boreholes without consulting ZINWA
because it owned the boreholes.
Bulawayo has been facing perennial water problems because its supply dams
are now too small for the city of more than one million people. No new dam
has been built for the city over the past 30 years.
The city was looking forward to the Zambezi Water Project but it has also
been bogged down by bureaucracy and lack of funds.
Some city residents have been querying how the project will proceed now that
its chairman, Dumiso Dabengwa, is out of mainline politics.
Dabengwa left ZANU-PF to join Mavambo Project before the March elections and
has since abandoned the project.
02 October 2008
The Combined Harare Residents Association would like to reject and dismiss the deputy minister of Water and Infrastructural Development, Engineer Muzembi call’s on ZINWA to “involve other stakeholders” in water management. This call comes from a man who is in the defacto cabinet which disregarded the legislature and the very same stakeholders whose inclusion he is now calling for. The state media has for the past months tried to pacify local government through half-hearted and stage managed castigation of ZINWA. This was being done to simply lobby for a buy-in into ZINWA by the local authorities. This will be tantamount to endorsing the mess which has claimed so many lives, thus being accomplices to this carnage.
The call comes when tertiary institutions
of The University of Zimbabwe’s caliber and centrality in national human
resource development can not open because of the water crisis and health hazard
unfolding in the city. The call comes at an unfortunate time when 14 lives have
been lost to cholera in Chitungwiza and when scores of people are suffering form
diarrhoea, dysentery and other related diseases. Some of the city’s areas like
Mabvuku and Tafara have gone for more than a year without water. Other affected
areas include Hatfield,
ZINWA forcefully took over water and sewer
management from the City of
The Combined Harare Association reiterates
its position that water and sewer management, as all other local government
processes, is and should, remain the responsibility of the local authority and
the residents who are the rightful custodians of the city and all its asserts.
The ZINWA takeover was unwarranted, unprocedural and has resulted in the untold
suffering and deaths of residents and continues to pose a threat to their
health. The Deputy Minister’s call serves as an admission of failure and guilt
and further buttresses the point that ZINWA should return the water and sewer
management to the City of
Exploration House, Third Floor
Landline: 00263- 4- 705114
Here at Kubatana, we are enough of politicians fiddling whilst Zimbabweans
starve. Our current electronic
activism campaign encourages people to get in touch with the offices of the
President and the Prime Minister designate to urge them to stop stalling and
start governing. Getting contact information for the President’s office, though, was no easy
matter. First off, when I used the numbers in the telephone directory, as soon as I
asked for contact information they’d transfer me to the Ministry of Information.
No wonder Zanu PF wants to keep control of the Ministry of Information. It would
be too hard to reconfigure all the telephone lines to separate them from the
numbers for the President’s office! When I finally got through to the right person, I asked for their email
address. I could hear the receptionist shouting across the office to one of her
colleagues – “These people want our email address. Can I give it?” She asked. “Which people?” Her colleague asked. “These people on the phone. They’re calling from Harare. They want the email
address for our office. Can I give them?” “Who are they?” “They’re on the phone.” “What do they want?” “They want our email address can I give them?” “No. Don’t give them our email address. We don’t know who they are.” The whole exchange reminded me an awful lot of trying to get Zanu PF’s email
address. She then came back on the line and told me they weren’t on email so she
couldn’t give me the email address. So I asked for fax number. She said the fax
was down. So if I have an urgent message for the President’s office? How am I
meant to get it to them? She told me to phone the Ministry of Information. It took four more phone calls and uncountable inter-office transfers for them
to eventually give me their fax number – and to get them to give me a fax tone
when it rang. This is exactly what needs to change in the new Zimbabwe. As much as we need
government to start governing again, this must be a New government, with a new
attitude about itself and its responsibilities to the people, and a new approach
towards listening to Zimbabweans and responding to what we want. Fax the President’s office on +263 4 251641 and let them know that you want a
new government – and you want it now.
Here at Kubatana, we are enough of politicians fiddling whilst Zimbabweans starve. Our current electronic activism campaign encourages people to get in touch with the offices of the President and the Prime Minister designate to urge them to stop stalling and start governing.
Getting contact information for the President’s office, though, was no easy matter.
First off, when I used the numbers in the telephone directory, as soon as I asked for contact information they’d transfer me to the Ministry of Information. No wonder Zanu PF wants to keep control of the Ministry of Information. It would be too hard to reconfigure all the telephone lines to separate them from the numbers for the President’s office!
When I finally got through to the right person, I asked for their email address. I could hear the receptionist shouting across the office to one of her colleagues –
“These people want our email address. Can I give it?” She asked.
“Which people?” Her colleague asked.
“These people on the phone. They’re calling from Harare. They want the email address for our office. Can I give them?”
“Who are they?”
“They’re on the phone.”
“What do they want?”
“They want our email address can I give them?”
“No. Don’t give them our email address. We don’t know who they are.”
The whole exchange reminded me an awful lot of trying to get Zanu PF’s email address.
She then came back on the line and told me they weren’t on email so she couldn’t give me the email address. So I asked for fax number. She said the fax was down. So if I have an urgent message for the President’s office? How am I meant to get it to them? She told me to phone the Ministry of Information.
It took four more phone calls and uncountable inter-office transfers for them to eventually give me their fax number – and to get them to give me a fax tone when it rang.
This is exactly what needs to change in the new Zimbabwe. As much as we need government to start governing again, this must be a New government, with a new attitude about itself and its responsibilities to the people, and a new approach towards listening to Zimbabweans and responding to what we want.
Fax the President’s office on +263 4 251641 and let them know that you want a new government – and you want it now.
Greetings in Shona usually go something like this; "Makadii?" (How are you?)
The answer usually goes; "Tiripo, kana makadiiwo?" (We are well, if you are
also well). Infused in this greeting is this society's ethos. The
recognition that our destinies are intertwined. That no person is an island.
That we belong to the human family. That each person has responsibilities
not just to themselves, but to the community to which they belong. That you
are what you are because of others. Hunhu, ubuntu.
Last night l was in my office on Selous Ave working late when something
happened that is symptomatic not just of the serious decay in this country,
but perhaps also of the reason why as Zimbabweans we have not risen up and
done something about our mess. It was about 8:45pm and all was quiet in this
area of the Avenues, when a sudden scream rang out. It was a woman screaming
for help. There was terror in her voice. Although such screams are common
place in the area around Selous Avenue/ Livingstone Avenue/ Third Street
going towards Fourth Street, as people fall prey to the thieves and robbers
who haunt the area, they are still shocking and frightening when they
happen. We all ran out of the office to look out. What normally happens (and
l use the word normally advisedly) is that because it is so dark, (on
account of there being no street lighting), you hear the agonised screams of
a person as they succumb to the thieves, long before you see them running
for dear life. You peer into the dark but you cannot see the victims until
they come to a lit up area near one of the offices. And so it was that last
night we heard the screams of the woman long before we saw her. She was
screaming for help and it appeared to us that the thieves were still in
pursuit, shouting as they went after her. So loud were her screams that she
drew the attention of a number of people who were in nearby offices. People
were calling out to her to run towards the light. Hearts were pounding as we
waited for her to emerge from the night. We were gratified to see an armed
police officer who had been checking the nearby Beverley Bank ATMs for cash,
emerge and run towards the screams. And then he stopped short. The woman
emerged into the lit up area, as did her accosters. They were about three
police officers who were roughing her up. She was screaming that they were
hitting her as she came up to the armed police officer who was her would-be
rescuer. She kept asking "why are you hitting me? Why are you hurting me?
What have l done?" She was clutching her handbag to her chest and there was
real terror in her voice.
As they came to the lit up area where people had gathered, the police
officers pulled back a little but continued roughing the woman up, pulling
and shouting at her. All this without arresting her. The would-be rescuer
was at a loss as to what to do l guess, given that these were his fellow
police officers. He did not ask what was going on and he just started
trailing after them as the three went off, still assaulting the woman. The
three of us who had been watching this tragedy just stood impotently,
consumed with a mixture of guilt, fear, helplessness and despair.
The security guards went back to their posts, muttering that she was
probably a prostitute. The implication being therefore that she deserved
whatever abuse the police officers were subjecting her to. Other people went
off, muttering and wondering what she had done. Again the implication was
that she must have done something to deserve the abuse, otherwise why would
the police be doing that?
No one problematised the role of the police. No one said that even if she
had broken the law, the police should have arrested her and taken her into
custody, not assaulted her like criminals. There were three of them; they
could have done that easily. Even if she was a commercial sex worker, that
still did not give the police the right to rough her up as they were doing.
Now, l do not know the facts of the story. I do not know what she had or had
not done. I do know however that the police take an oath of office in which
they swear to uphold the laws of the country. If someone is suspected of
committing an offence, he or she should be arrested and taken into custody.
As far as l could tell, the woman was not resisting arrest. One is therefore
left wondering why the police were behaving as they were. I have my theories
as to why, but will not go into them.
The guilt we felt at not having intervened kept pulling at us long after her
screams had fallen silent, we kept wondering how she was, what had happened.
We questioned whether they were real police officers or they had been
thieves dressed as police officers. We wondered perhaps if they had tried
to proposition her and she had rejected their advances and therefore the
assault and harassment was retaliation. We wondered if perhaps they had
tried to steal from the woman and were roughing her up to facilitate this.
(One certainly hears enough stories in which police officers are implicated
in criminal activities) They were certainly not behaving like officers of
the law as they assaulted the woman.
Our guilt arose from the fact that we had kept silent when we should have
spoken out. We had stood back when we should have stepped up and stepped in.
We were relieved that it was not us and we were safe. We felt sorry for the
woman but that was not enough to compel us to act. We were afraid that the
lawless louts would turn on us. We were afraid perhaps of the inconvenience,
so we sacrificed the woman to her doubtful fate. We were after all working
late because we had to. Getting ourselves involved would have meant that we
would lose valuable time getting embroiled in a messy and dangerous argument
with the apparently lawless police, or so we told ourselves. The irony is
that the incident so disturbed us that we could not continue working.
Our response l think is part of the problem we have in Zimbabwe. We all know
what's wrong and what's right but no one is willing to do what it takes for
the common good. The shelves are empty, but as long as l am managing to put
food on my family's table, who cares that my neighbour's children are going
to bed hungry? As long as l can access cash through various means, who cares
that someone has been spending days and nights outside the bank waiting to
withdraw their paltry money. We look at them, we feel sorry, we despair but
we are relieved that it is not us standing in the baking sun as we go about
our business. We do not intervene. We do not speak out when we should. As
long as l is managing, it is enough. Hatisisina hunhu. We have lost our
ubuntu. That which makes us members of the human family.
I hope as the Prime Minister and his two deputy prime ministers are
inspecting their swanky new offices in Munhumutapa Building, they are
thinking of ways of healing our community and restoring our values.
This entry was posted on October 2nd, 2008 at 1:53 pm by Catherine Makoni
By Alex Bell
02 October 2008
The Common Market for East and Southern Africa (COMESA) has given Zimbabwe a
second chance to hold the regional bloc's 13th summit, in what would appear
to be a hasty show of confidence in the country as a result of the power
The summit had been initially set to take place in May but was called off
after state-sponsored violence swept through the country, following Robert
Mugabe's election loss to opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai in the first
round of voting in March. In postponing the summit at the peak of political
violence, COMESA had said it was doing so to give Zimbabwe time to conclude
its electoral processes.
Zimbabwe was once a major player in COMESA, before its economy collapsed
over the past decade. The power-sharing deal signed by Mugabe, Tsvangirai
and Arthur Mutambara has been dubbed as the best opportunity for Zimbabwe to
end the combined crises in the country that has seen the world's highest
inflation, desperate shortages of food and fears of a looming health
But despite a clear lack of change on the ground since the deal was signed,
as well as a deadlock over the distribution of cabinet ministries,
international trade ministry officials announced on Thursday that the summit
of the 20 nation bloc will take place at the end of November.
Harare based journalist Angus Shaw told Newsreel on Thursday he is
"surprised" by COMESA's decision to hold the summit, so soon after canceling
the event in May. Shaw agreed that the decision is a hasty show of support
and added it is clear that regional blocs such as SADC, the African Union
and COMESA are listening to political spin by ZANU PF. "On the ground there
is a serious crisis," Shaw explained, "and I don't know if COMESA even knows
about the cabinet deadlock."
SW Radio Africa Zimbabwe news