By Tichaona Sibanda
4 October 2007
There are reports from South Africa that both the ruling Zanu-PF party and
the opposition MDC have agreed on the need for a new constitution before
next year's elections.
The SADC led mediation talks between the MDC and Zanu-PF are believed to
have reached a decisive stage in the negotiation process, where an agreement
was also reportedly reached to substantively amend or repeal restrictive
laws like POSA and AIPPA.
Reliable sources told Newsreel on Thursday that the latest talks, which
began in Pretoria on Wednesday, focused mainly on a new constitution, POSA,
AIPPA, the media laws and the general political environment in Zimbabwe. The
role of the police, the CIO and the army is expected to be the next
important item on the agenda before the finalisation of the talks, probably
in two weeks' time.
The seriousness of the talks has been gauged by the presence of MDC
President Morgan Tsvangirai, who is leading an expanded team comprising
almost his entire cabinet, known as the standing committee. One source said
the decision by the MDC to participate in next year's elections hinges on
the success of these talks.
While Zanu-PF has all but agreed to some of the demands brought up by the
MDC, the ruling party has however refused to let almost five million
Zimbabweans living in the diaspora vote in next year's elections.
'I'm informed that a lot has been covered during these current talks and a
lot more is expected to be covered before the end of October. But the major
issue so far from the talks has been the refusal by Zanu-PF to let people
living in exile participate in next year's polls,' said one source.
South African President Thabo Mbeki is expecting the negotiating parties to
conclude the talks before the end of October as he is expected to present to
SADC a comprehensive report on the outcome of the negotiations.
Political commentator Oliver Mudyarabikwa said it might be easy for Zanu-PF
to tell the world it will repeal the restrictive laws, but might find it
difficult to honor the pledge because they always thrive on violence and
SW Radio Africa Zimbabwe news
Monsters and Critics
Oct 4, 2007, 17:27 GMT
Harare/Johannesburg - More than 23,000 people have been arrested in Zimbabwe
for flouting controversial price controls imposed by President Robert
Mugabe's government three months ago, police announced here Thursday.
Under Operation Reduce Prices launched in late June price inspectors
accompanied by police were sent around the country to enforce price cuts by
around 50 per cent on most goods and services.
'As Operation Reduce Prices continues we have so far as police arrested
23,585 people,' police spokesman Oliver Mandipaka told state radio.
Most of those arrested have been fined or ordered to perform menial labour
such as cleaning government schools, police stations or courthouses.
The crackdown against the business sector, which at first proved popular
with inflation-weary consumers, has since backfired as there are now chronic
shortages of basics like meat, milk and bread on the formal market.
The black market in scarce goods has proliferated, with prices much higher
than the ones set by the government.
Mandipaka said police were concerned that millers in the country were
diverting maize grain used to make the staple maize meal - to the illegal
The price of maize meal, like many other commodities is strictly controlled.
Some firms were turning maize into a popular local snack called 'maputi,'
which is similar to popcorn, to supply the more lucrative export market,
If such unscrupulous practices are detected they (the millers) risk
prosecution, he said.
© 2007 dpa - Deutsche Presse-Agentur
By Henry Makiwa
4 October 2007
Teachers are to return to work after government and the leaders of the
Zimbabwe Teachers' Association (Zimta) agreed on a salary arrangement that
was swiftly condemned by another teachers union.
According to a Zimta statement released to the state media Wednesday, the
teachers' union had agreed with government to an unspecified "improved
salary" for teachers. It is however understood that the country's largest
teachers' union, with a membership of 58 000, only settled for a salary
increment of Z$14 million. This is Z$4 million shy of what the Progressive
Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (PTUZ) was demanding.
The teachers' job action was approaching its fourth week and it attracted
Robert Mugabe's attention on Monday when he described it as "embarrassing as
it comes towards examination time". Observers believe Mugabe's involvement
may have cajoled Zimta into accepting the pay deal.
Nonetheless, the PTUZ remains adamant that the teachers' salaries are
"paltry" and below the Z$16 million poverty datum line.
The PTUZ general secretary, Raymond Majongwe, accused Zimta of selling out
"when government was cornered."
Majongwe said: "Zimta has sold out for the fifteenth time now, and we are
still counting. Teachers and all civil servants alike should never forgive
them for this deal because if the teachers had been awarded better pay the
entire civil service would have received improved salaries as well."
He added: "Our members will return to work, bearing in mind there is still
more work to be done and we will go back to the drawing board to map out our
next course of action to ensure that the teachers' welfare is addressed.
They only joined the strike three day ago and already they have bent to the
Before the new agreement, some teachers had been earning as little as Z$2
million, which is less than 2 pounds sterling on the black market.
According to the state-controlled Herald newspaper, Zimta's national
president Tendai Chikowore confirmed reaching an agreement with government
but declined to give details.
Chikowore encouraged Zimta members to attend provincial World Teachers' Day
commemorations on Friday, where they would get "confidential briefings" on
the outcome of the negotiations.
Meanwhile, the Police in the city of Bulawayo have warned the PTUZ against
going ahead with its commemorations of World Teacher's Day, a day that was
set aside by the United Nations in recognition of the pivotal roles played
by teachers in the world.
Chief among the reasons cited by the police is that the organisation had
called for a teachers strike a month ago. The Officer Commanding Bulawayo
District, Chief Superintendent Wasara argued that the teachers' union is
bent on tarnishing the image of the country; hence the police will foil the
activities of the organisation tomorrow.
However, the PTUZ has filed an urgent court application with the High Court
arguing that the police have no jurisdiction to block their meeting.
SW Radio Africa Zimbabwe news
By Henry Makiwa
4 October 2007
Police in Mutare on Friday disrupted a public meeting organised by the
Zimbabwe Human Rights Association (ZimRights) to discuss the forthcoming
elections, after veteran politician Edgar Tekere attacked Robert Mugabe's
human rights record.
Security agents stormed the public meeting venue ordering everyone out and
accusing organisers of the meeting of abusing the platform to "attack the
person of the President".
Tekere launched a blistering attack on Mugabe for the constant harassment of
opposition and for "penning a horrific account of our country's modern
The fiery former Zanu PF stalwart on Thursday confirmed that security
personnel had disrupted the meeting but said he was not intimidated by such
Tekere said: "I chronicled just a few of the many atrocities that Mugabe has
committed on this country and that one day he and his lieutenants such as
(army chief Constantine) Chiwenga and (police head Augustine) Chihuri will
have to account for."
He went on to say, "I noted the recent assaults on Grace Kwinje, Sekai
Holland and Morgan Tsvangirai; the disappearance of Rashiwe Guzha and the
Gukurahundi massacre as events that will scar the annals of our history. My
speech and that of Bishop Patrick Mutume, who gave an account of Gukurahundi
survivors', made the police halt proceedings because Mugabe does not want
the public to know the truth."
According to the online publication zimbabwejournalists.com, the ZimRights
public meeting was held under the topic: "Will the 2008 harmonised elections
be the panacea to the Zimbabwe Crisis?"
The publication quoted ZimRights regional co-ordinator Reverend Stephen
Maengamhuru, confirming that the police had stopped their meeting even
though it had been earlier cleared to go ahead.
Rev Maengamhuru told zimbabwejournalists.com: "We submitted an application
and the police responded and told us to stick to the agenda. They said they
would send their officers who would be empowered to intervene or stop and
disperse people if the meeting digressed."
Rev Maengamhuru said he will soon organise another such meeting.
The meeting drew close to 150 people, mostly from the civil society,
intellectuals, students and political activists, mainly from the opposition
MDC and smaller parties such as Zanu (Ndonga).
SW Radio Africa Zimbabwe news
UN Integrated Regional Information Networks
4 October 2007
Posted to the web 4 October 2007
Unable to get their hands on scarce and often expensive essentials,
Zimbabweans are settling for food items such as cooking oil that are cheap,
often substandard, and sometimes dangerous, that are now flooding the
"We are worried by the presence of unhygienic and substandard foodstuffs on
the market, particularly in the black market," said Rosemary Siyachitema,
executive director of the Consumer Council of Zimbabwe (CCZ), a watchdog
"Our observation is that there is an acute shortage of commodities on the
formal market, and the informal sector is taking advantage of that to sell
the goods to consumers, who have little choice."
Business is booming for Jane Mushape, an informal trader in the capital,
Harare, where almost all basic commodities, including cooking oil, are in
short supply or unobtainable. She sells homemade cooking oil supplied by
another informal trader, who presses the oil out of groundnuts in a shack in
Customers do not seem to mind the somewhat smelly, reddish cooking oil sold
in unhygienic recycled containers, and Mushape sells all her stock every
But one of her regular customers, unemployed Theresa Machirori, suffered a
near tragedy recently when, after using the oil for cooking, her entire
family had to be hospitalised.
"The doctor told me that we were lucky to have survived because the cooking
oil contained poison," Machirori told IRIN. "The home-made cooking oil is
generally cheaper than standard products that one can also buy from the
black market, and that is what forces us to buy from her."
Machirori's attempts to economise have boomeranged: the hospital refused to
release her family until a relative intervened to ensure that the US$200
medical fee would be paid. "But God knows where I am going to get that money
from [to pay the hospital]," lamented Machirori. She cannot even claim
compensation from Mushape because the trader is unregistered.
The doctor told me that we were lucky to have survived because the cooking
oil contained poison
Illicit beer, known as "chikokiyana", which has a very high alcohol content
and is often prepared with untreated water, also poses a major health risk
but is doing brisk business.
Regular police raids have not dampened the trade. "We attend to a sudden
death cases almost on a weekly basis after individuals have taken too much
of the illicit brew, which they always drink undiluted," said a policeman
who refused to be named.
The CCZ's Siyachitema warned, "Obviously, when goods are sold on the black
market, those who operate it are not bound by any business guidelines and
ethics, a situation that puts consumers at the mercy of informal traders. We
urge consumers to be aware of their rights ... we would want them to
scrutinise whatever they are buying or, ideally, stop buying foodstuffs that
are not inspected."
The consumer body is planning hold a workshop with other stakeholders later
this year to find ways to stem the trade in substandard commodities.
Zimbabwe's economy has been in freefall: it now has the world's highest
inflation rate - around 6,500 percent - while foreign exchange and fuel
shortages have diminished the manufacturing sector; unable to afford the
high operational costs, many businesses have closed down.
Shortages of basic foodstuffs and essential items worsened in June, when the
Zimbabwean government forced manufacturers to cut prices by 50 percent in an
attempt to reduce inflation. Manufacturers chose to either close down or
reduce production, worsening the shortages.
After widespread objections by business, the government made some upward
revisions of controlled prices in August, but the move has failed to boost
supplies, as the cost of manufacturing is still too high.
Most shops now import commodities from neighbouring countries, particularly
South Africa and Botswana, but because they have to source foreign currency
on the black market to buy the goods, the items are expensive when sold
locally. The Zimbabwean dollar is currently trading at around Z$500,000 to
US$1 on the parallel market.
[ This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations ]
Monsters and Critics
Oct 4, 2007, 16:16 GMT
Stockholm - Sweden appreciates the efforts by South Africa to find a
solution to the political problems in neighbouring Zimbabwe, Swedish
International Development Cooperation Minister Gunilla Carlsson said
Carlsson's remarks were made at a news conference with South African Deputy
President Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka at the conclusion of a two-day meeting in
Stockholm of a bilateral commission.
The meeting was the fifth for the commission that was formed in 1999 when
the then Swedish prime minister Goran Persson visited South Africa.
The South African vice president said her country and other members of the
14-nation Southern African Development Community (SADC) were waiting for
'recommendations' from finance ministers in the region on how to aid
Zimbabwe as decided at a SADC summit in August.
Mlambo-Ngcuka said SADC had urged Zimbabweans to 'undertake a meaningful
Carlsson said Sweden was 'very concerned and critical of the current
situation in Zimbabwe.'
The delegations had also discussed the upcoming European Union-Africa summit
which British Prime Minister Gordon Brown has said he would stay away from
if Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe attends.
'We can't make one traveller jeopardize the whole summit,' Mlambo-Ngcuka
said. 'The summit is not about one issue. There are a whole lot of issues
and we don't think that all of those issues should be compromised because of
'We will constructively find a way of making sure that we protect the
broader interests of the summit which are important for both Europeans as
well as for the Africans,' she added.
The talks in Stockholm were co-chaired by Swedish Deputy Prime Minister Maud
Olofsson and included meetings with business leaders as well as discussions
on climate change, support for combating HIV/AIDS and labour market reform.
© 2007 dpa - Deutsche Presse-Agentur
October 04, 2007 Edition 1
Johannesburg - Zimbabwe should implement its empowerment programme at a
similar pace and scale as South Africa or the country would lose investor
interest and mining and exploration skills, Rio Tinto warned yesterday.
Zimbabwe's parliament late last month passed a bill requiring foreign-owned
companies, including mines and banks, to sell off a 51 percent stake in
their subsidiaries to local firms.
Andrew Mackenzie, chief executive of Rio Tinto's diamonds and minerals unit,
told the American Business Association of Zimbabwe conference that the
mining industry had a "crucial role in the economic turnaround of Zimbabwe .
if the right policies are in place".
"I believe the best way forward would be for the [Zimbabwean] government to
consider indigenous empowerment at a similar pace and scale to the South
African process, to all current ownership structures to count towards any
new indigenous equity requirements and to promote a close to fair market
value for any equity changes," said Mackenzie.
A gradual introduction of the empowerment framework would "help Zimbabwe
maximise its significant mineral potential and assist in the economic
turnaround of Zimbabwe, as it has in other African nations".
South Africa's mining charter requires that the mining houses sell 15
percent stakes to empowerment companies by 2009 and 26 percent by 2014.
Rio Tinto holds a stake of about 78 percent in Murowa diamond mine in
Zimbabwe which employs 300 people and has the capacity to produce 300 000
carats a year.
Mackenzie said Rio Tinto, with a market value of $114 billion (R785
billion), had invested more than $100 million in the mine's development and
expansion over the past 14 years.
"Plans to expand Murowa would involve an additional investment of $250
This investment was dependent on the outcome of an agreement with the
government that recognised and reduced the risk to Rio Tinto's existing and
future investment. Rio Tinto supported empowerment of indigenous people at
its operations in southern Africa, Mackenzie said.
In South Africa, the group owns 50 percent of Richards Bay Minerals, which
plans to sell a 24 percent stake in its mining and smelting operations to an
empowerment consortium and 2 percent to its 1 700 workers through an
employee share ownership plan.
October 04, 2007 Edition 1
Johannesburg - Impala Platinum Holdings, which controls Zimbabwe's platinum
mines, and other mining companies in the country are negotiating to buy
electricity directly from Mozambique after repeated power cuts slashed
The companies had signed a memorandum of understanding with Zimbabwe's
state-owned power company, Zesa Holdings, which might allow the utility to
renew a supply contract with Mozambique's Hidroelectrica de Cahora Bassa
that it otherwise could not afford, said Doug Verden, chief executive of
Zimbabwe's Chamber of Mines.
Zimbabwe, in its ninth consecutive year of economic recession, cannot afford
to pay for power imports, leading to outages that can last as long as 20
hours a day.
If the cuts occur at the wrong time, they prevent rock blasting, disrupting
an entire day's planned work.
"Power cuts have been a huge problem, absolutely huge," Verden said
yesterday in Harare.
"Nine or 10 shifts a month can be lost."
Companies including Impala and rival Aquarius Platinum; ferrochrome producer
Zimasco; Bindura, a nickel mining unit of Mwana Africa; and RioZim, which
owns the Renco gold mine, would pay for the power in foreign currency and it
would be reserved for their use, he said.
Together the firms might buy 250 megawatt of power, said Ian Saunders, a
former president of the chamber.
To benefit from the agreement, the companies must have a dedicated power
line to their plants, Verden said.
Impala, which mined on its own and through a venture with Aquarius, had
dedicated lines, as did Zimasco, Bindura Nickel and RioZim's Renco gold
mine, he added.
Caledonia Mining was seeking a dedicated line for its Blanket gold mine, as
was closely held Forbes & Thompson, which operates the Vubachikwe gold mill.
The power would cost about Z$0.035 (less than R0.01) per kilowatt hour,
President Robert Mugabe's programme of seizing white-owned commercial farms
for redistribution to black subsistence farmers, which began in 2000, has
slashed export income from crops such as tobacco and left mining as the main
source of income.
Zimbabwe has the world's biggest reserves of platinum and chrome after South
The country also imported power from the Democratic Republic of Congo and
Congolese supply was erratic and South Africa, where demand was outstripping
supply, was exporting less electricity, Verden said. "The only one with any
excess supply at the moment is Cahora Bassa," he said. - Bloomberg
October 3, 2007
An indigenisation bill pushed through Zimbabwe's parliament last week raised
fears that foreign investment may dry up. The law intends to ensure that
Zimbabweans get a majority stake in foreign firms, of which more than 300
are said to be operating in the country.
It is unclear to what extent the legislation is a political gimmick ahead of
national elections next year. But amid the uncertainty, it appears that
Zimbabwean firms remain a target for businesses with an appetite for high
Yesterday Lonrho, the London- and Johannesburg-listed conglomerate, said it
had acquired a controlling stake in Celsys, a telecommunications company
listed in Harare, and full control of privately held Gardoserve, an
industrial chemical manufacturer.
The deals form part of Lonrho's plan to create a specialist company, LonZim,
with a focus on acquiring a portfolio of commercial property projects and
industrial assets in Zimbabwe with significant future growth potential.
Earlier this year Lonrho said it planned to list LonZim separately in the UK
to minimise the risk exposure of Lonrho shareholders while retaining a
sizeable stake in the new company.
Now is the time to establish businesses that can develop, Lonrho says, as
the Zimbabwean economy has suffered from severe underinvestment. It says
"cautious and well-informed" long-term investment in the country will offer
We interpret this to mean that cheap acquisitions outweigh the political
risks. In other words, the price tag for investing in Zimbabwean firms is so
low that it neutralises the risk of a portion of shares in
foreign-controlled businesses being seized.
Lonrho did not disclose how much it paid for Gardoserve, but its acquisition
of a 60 percent stake in Celsys cost $5.45 million, or less than R40
million - not bad for a business that owns the dominant brand in the
payphone market, operates the country's sole authorised Nokia repair centre,
and is the largest independent printer of security documents for financial
When the Harare government announced price controls in July, not one South
African company signalled an intent to disinvest, preferring instead to
attempt to outlast the hyperinflationary environment in expectation of
eventual stability. It seems Lonrho's strategy is also based on the premise
that getting a foot in the door now could reap benefits in a post-Robert
AIRPORTS: It is difficult to know what to make of the recent commitment by
the Airports Company South Africa (Acsa) to provide airline passengers with
"world-class airport facilities".
Which part of the world does Acsa have in mind, one wonders? Dublin, London,
Rome, Philadelphia, Hong Kong or Singapore?
Before completion of the first phase of the billion rand expansion at OR
Tambo International Airport, the facility could claim to be up there with
some of the best - considerably better than Dublin, Heathrow and Rome,
better than Philadelphia, but far behind Singapore and Hong Kong.
London's Heathrow has done huge damage to global air travel and one must
assume that the key decision makers at the British Airports Authority (BAA)
are keen environmentalists, who believe it is their job to discourage
Dublin has the sophistication and comfort of an ugly old bus shelter. Rome
seldom works. Philadelphia, as with many US airports, is blighted by
unpleasant security guards who are no doubt eternally grateful for the
unlimited powers bestowed on them in the wake of 9/11.
Singapore and Hong Kong are almost eerily perfect, including being
immaculately clean at all times.
A major challenge for any airport authority is making sure that the crucial
services provided by airlines, customs and security are in line with its
aims. There is no point in clearing the check-in counter speedily if
passengers have to wait an hour for their passports to be checked.
Perhaps the most powerful indication of whether an airport cares for
passengers can be gleaned from the toilets - how many and how clean they
are. There is almost no room for toilets at Heathrow because BAA was too
keen to cram in more money-making shops. This reflects the contempt with
which BAA regards passengers and explains the inevitability of all of its
RAFI: Monday's launch of this new JSE share index, which will be driven by
company fundamentals rather than price changes, could calm the fears of many
South Africans who fear that their money may disappear into a hole once
invested on the local stock exchange.
The FTSE/JSE Rafi 40 index will be made up of 40 companies selected on the
basis of cash flow, sales, book value and dividends. Analysts say investment
managers who mimic the new JSE index may experience less volatility than
their peers who select the shares in their portfolios themselves.
Satrix, a manager of exchange-traded funds - baskets of securities that
reflect the performance of the underlying financial assets - says it will
launch a fund to replicate the Rafi 40, which stands for Research Affiliates
For the ordinary investor who has shied away from the equity market, it may
be an opportunity to enter this investment space.
Unit trust statistics show that retail investors have largely missed out on
the ongoing huge rise in share values. Since 2003 shares listed on the JSE
have made annual returns of more than 30 percent. Last year the equity
market yielded 41 percent growth.
This compares favourably with money market funds and other fixed interest
funds, which returned only a quarter of that.
Strangely, the latter funds have been the favourite of retail unit trust
.. With contributions by Ingi Salgado, Ann Crotty and Tony Mafu
Bradford Telegraph and Argus
By Marc Meneaud
Zimbabwean nationals who fled the brutal regime of Robert Mugabe, have held
a protest in Bradford.
The Zimbabweans, some of whom have faced beatings and been the victims of
rapes at the hands of Mugabe's militias, say if they are forced back they
will be in danger.
They are calling on the British Government to recognise their refugee
The Bradford Zimbabweans held a ceremony at Bradford Cathedral on Saturday,
before holding a demonstration in Centenary Square.
They collected a 200-name petition appealing for the international community
to take action against Mugabe.
The protest was organised by Bradford Movement for Democratic Change (MDC),
the opposition party to Mugabe's ruling Zanu PF.
Protester Ketima Shamu, 25, said she had fled to Britain in 2002, after her
mother and father died from beatings.
Ketima of Trenton Drive, Manningham, said: "I was electrocuted and tortured
and I only got here because I escaped from custody. They went looking for me
and found my parents. They died from injuries sustained by beatings.
"We expect aid from the British Government and for them to recognise the
human rights abuses in Zimbabwe. At the least we expect them to grant us
Chairman of the Bradford MDC, Alexander Chipatiko, of Marsh Street,
Bradford, said: "People in Zimbabwe are dying of hunger, there is nothing in
the shops and Robert Mugabe is continuing to damage Zimbabwe."
SW Radio Africa (London)
4 October 2007
Posted to the web 4 October 2007
Pretoria's High Court has ruled to allow a Zimbabwean refugee the right to
sue the country's defence minister, Mosiuoa Lekota, after South African
soldiers shot him in the arm near the border in 2005.
Tobby Mpofu who now lives in South Africa's Hillbrow suburb is suing for
R500 000, after a group of soldiers opened fire on a truck he was travelling
in. In papers filed in court he said he crossed the border using his
passport with the intention of claiming asylum in Johannesburg. He got a
lift in a bakkie truck with 8 other people and sat in the rear under the
Mpofu says he was asleep during the attack and woke up to discover that he
had been shot near the elbow. He collapsed within a short space of time and
only regained consciousness at Musina Hospital. He woke up with two
uniformed soldiers, the driver of the bakkie and a number of nurses standing
on the other side of the bed. The nurses reported the matter to the police
who are said to have taken affidavits from the soldiers. The soldiers claim
they were performing their official duties but it remains unclear why they
shot at the car.
The group was patrolling the Nzhelele Dam road when a soldier identified as
Skokka Nzira allegedly fired at the vehicle twice when his colleagues had
stopped it. Mpofu was hit on the arm while another passenger was hit on the
head. Mpofu was granted asylum in South Africa last year and this week he
sought the intervention of the High Court after the time he was supposed to
have filed his claim had elapsed. The court paved the way for him to proceed
with his claim.