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Africa summit in jeopardy as Brown vows to boycott Mugabe

The Times
September 10, 2007

David Charter in Viana do Castelo
Gordon Brown has thrown plans for a summit of African and European leaders
into turmoil by vowing to pull out if Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe takes part.
The Prime Minister, normally keen to promote Africa, believes that his
boycott would be followed by several European allies and is hoping that the
threat will stop Mr Mugabe from being invited.

But it has left Portugal, holders of the rotating EU presidency, in a
quandary. Some African leaders have said that they will not attend if Mr
Mugabe is banned. Formal invitations to the gathering in Lisbon in December
will be sent out this month and the Portuguese are struggling to find a
solution to save the summit. If the meeting collapses Mr Brown could find
himself blamed for setting back Europe's relations with Africa, while China
is stepping up its business dealings with the continent.

A previous attempt to hold an EU/ Africa summit failed in 2003 because of a
row over Mr Mugabe and there are a host of key isues on the table, from
climate change to migration and the humanitarian crisis in Darfur.

The Prime Minister is eager not to find himself in the same position as Jack
Straw who, as Foreign Secretary, shook hands with Mr Mugabe at the United
Nations in New York in 2004.

Mr Brown's threat was delivered to EU foreign ministers by David Miliband,
the Foreign Secretary. He was "clear that there is serious business to be
done at the EU/Africa summit and it would be overshadowed by a Mugabe
circus," a source said.

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Supplementary budget shows Harare has lost inflation battle

Zim Online

Monday 10 September 2007

By Justin Muponda

HARARE - Zimbabwe's half-year budget announced last week and demands by
ministries, which were seven times what they were allocated by the finance
minister, were a stark reminder that President Robert Mugabe could not end
an economic recession, analysts said.

Government ministries had requested supplementary funding of $255 trillion
but Finance Minister Samuel Mumbengegwi only gave them $37.1 trillion.

Economic analysts said the demands by the ministries reflected the
seriousness of Zimbabwe's economic rot and raised serious questions over the
government's official inflation data.

"The demands are frightening when you compare to the original budget
estimates for 2007," John Robertson, a Harare-based economic consultant

"But this really shows the magnitude of deep-seated inflation is and is
testimony that the government has failed to bring inflation under control,"
Robertson said.

In the original 2007 budget, former finance minister Hebert Murerwa had
projected total government spending this year at $6.2 trillion but by June,
94 percent of that amount had already been exhausted, leaving ministries and
state departments broke.

Analysts have warned that government spending was too high and that there
was little money being channelled towards infrastructure development.

Crumbling infrastructure is one of the hallmarks of the economic crisis.

Several dams like Kunzvi, the Gwayi-Shangani remain on the planning phase as
water shortages worsen in all urban centres while major road networks take
years to complete but the government moves with speed to buy new imported
cars for senior government officials.

In his mid-year budget, Mumbengegwi again showed the government's appetite
for spending when he announced that 69 percent of the supplementary funds
were for recurrent expenditure, mostly salaries.

This would further drive up inflation, according to economic analysts.

Official inflation stood at 7 600 percent in July and is the highest in the
world although private economists say the figure is double that. The
International Monetary has projected that Zimbabwe's inflation will hit 100
000 percent by the end of this year.

The analysts said Mumbengegwi had offered no solutions to put the economy
back on the rails and was mum on growth forecasts.

Mugabe has previously said the economy had turned a corner but events on the
ground showed otherwise. The 83-year-old President has defended his
policies -including the land seizures and now plans to localise all
foreign-owned companies - and instead says Western sanctions are responsible
for the economic meltdown.

"You can say for certain that the wheels have completely come off. The
government would need some miracle to put the economy back on the rails," a
bank executive in Harare told ZimOnline.

Mumbengegwi's devaluation of the Zimbabwe dollar to $30 000 against the
United States dollar did not soothe an industry already working with a black
market rate above $250 000. Foreign currency is readily available on the
black market.

A new round of company closures is looming due to worsening foreign currency
shortages and a government directive in June to cut all prices by half as a
desperate measure to control inflation.

Most supermarkets are empty after consumers went on a buying spree following
the price freeze. Manufacturers have sharply reduced production and the
arrival of commodities like bread, sugar, maize-meal and cooking oil at any
shop is met with stampeding consumers.

Analysts say in the absence of reforms to return Zimbabwe to its bread
basket status, the government would continue to print money. Mugabe and
central bank governor Gideon Gono have in the past to printing cash.

With important elections set for March 2008, state expenditure would rise
even further, analysts said, but adding that the government was not putting
measures to grow the economy but relying on falling revenue and printing

"Government spending is too high but traditionally spending increases even
more ahead of elections. So this is what we are seeing but I have no doubt
that in the absence of foreign funding the government's only tool is the
printer," John Makumbe, a University of Zimbabwe senior political lecturer
said. "They will print more money."

International donors have turned their backs on Harare over differences in
policies, including Mugabe's seizure of productive farms from whites to give
to blacks. This had worsened the crisis and a drive to raise funds from
Asian friends under a 'look east' policy is yet to yield results.

The economic crisis has raised political temperatures and on Saturday the
Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions slammed Mumbengegwi's supplementary budget
and announced a two-day stay-away to protest the deteriorating economy,
among other things. - ZimOnline

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Stormy ZANU PF meeting told of rampant fuel scam

Zim Online

Monday 10 September 2007

By Farisai Gonye

MUTARE - Senior ruling ZANU PF party officials in the eastern city of Mutare
are diverting thousands of litres of fuel allocated for the party's
activities to the lucrative parallel market, ZimOnline heard at the weekend.

A ZANU PF provincial meeting held in Mutare last week heard that war
veterans had alleged that senior party officials and Cabinet ministers were
diverting fuel allocated for the party's activities to the lucrative
parallel market.

The provincial meeting had been called to take stock of the state of the
party ahead of key parliamentary and presidential elections next year.

Sources in the ruling ZANU PF party told ZimOnline at the weekend that
debate over the alleged fuel scam took centre stage and discussions relating
to the party's electoral campaign for next year had to be shelved as a

The war veterans, a key cog in ZANU PF's election machinery, said they had
evidence that top party officials and Cabinet ministers had sold thousands
of litres of fuel allocated to the party on the parallel market.

Zimbabwe has grappled with persistent fuel shortages over the past seven
years because it does not have foreign currency to import the commodity.

Senior government officials and those close to the seat of power have been
accused of diverting fuel onto the parallel market where it is sold for at
least three times the normal price.

At the stormy meeting, Vladimir Mukwada, an influential war veteran in
Mutare, led the call to have senior party officials arrested over the fuel

"What is happening in Mutare is a reflection of the rot in ZANU PF. People
in ZANU PF are fuelling black market activities. We have their names and we
are prepared to name and shame them," Mukweda told the meeting.

The war veterans leader offered to name the senior party officials involved
in the scam but was stopped from doing so by Manicaland provincial governor
and ZANU PF provincial governor Tinaye Chigudu.

Chigudu refused to take questions from ZimOnline adding that it was an
"internal" party matter.

Last Tuesday, Mukweda is said to have approached the police to prod them to
investigate the matter, the sources said.

Contacted for comment at the weekend, Mukweda said: "It's an internal party
discussion but we want those responsible for looting party resources
irrespective of their rank to be arrested because they are destroying ZANU

President Robert Mugabe has in the past repeated accused his senior party
officials and government ministers of being corrupt and fanning illegal
activities around the country.

But the 83-year Zimbabwean leader, who faces his biggest electoral test next
March from the main opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party,
has failed to discipline his ministers and senior party officials. -

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Zim magistrate pressured to release murder suspects

Zim Online

Monday 10 September 2007

      By Farisai Gonye

      HARARE - Senior Zimbabwean ruling party officials have hounded a
Chinhoyi magistrate into releasing eight party supporters accused of
murdering a villager who led others in resisting the eviction of a white

      Sources told ZimOnline at the weekend that magistrate Archibald
Dingani and senior provincial prosecutor Edson Muchinjikwa were ordered by
senior politicians in the province to release on bail eight men arrested for
the murder of Nation Musamiwa of Hurungwe.

      A resettled farmer, Musamiwa was shot and killed by ZANU PF supporters
on 30 August while resisting the invasion of Songalala Farm owned by Peter

      The eight - Jethro Ncube, Walter Hwaira, Wise Nzou, Brazil Nyani,
Kingstone Gomo, Stephen Bafana, Francis Tsikira and his son Wisdom - wanted
to invade Songalala Farm in Hurungwe West district to pave way for its
takeover by a senior ZANU PF official whose name ZimOnline could not

      Musamiwa and his group contended that Stigolf and 10 other farmers in
the area should not be evicted as they had been instrumental in assisting
the new farmers and villagers from nearby communities with agricultural
expertise, machinery and utilities such as transport.

      Court documents show that the eight were armed with two pistols and a
rifle when a scuffle took place.

      Prosecutors say it was Ncube's rifle that pumped two bullets into
Musamiwa's head.

      The sources said Dingani and Muchinjikwa were last Monday forced to
free the eight ZANU PF supporters on Z$15 million bail each following a
weekend during which they received phone calls from politicians ordering
them to "allow the case to die a natural death".

      Only the High Court has the power to hear and set bail for murder
suspects in Zimbabwe.

      "Eventually the two gave in because they also feared for their lives,"
according to a source who requested he was not named for security reasons.

      Muchinjikwa and Dingani refused to comment on the matter.

      One of the senior politicians mentioned as having pressured the court
officials was local government minister Ignatius Chombo, who denied the
charge at the weekend.

      "I don't know what you are talking about," Chombo said before
switching off his phone.

      Justice minister Patrick Chinamasa said he was not aware of the case
but insisted that nothing like that could have happened, describing Zimbabwe's
judiciary system as a "model" for the rest of the world.

      "That is news to me. But that would be very unlikely of our judiciary
because it operates independently of political or any other influence. We
are a model (judiciary)," Chinamasa told ZimOnline.

      The shooting of a fellow supporter highlights what sources say are
deepening divisions within President Robert Mugabe's party over the
continued eviction of the few remaining white farmers.

      Many ruling ZANU PF party supporters and ordinary Zimbabweans want an
end to the continued eviction of the few white farmers still remaining on
their properties seven years after Mugabe ordered the compulsory acquisition
of farms from the whites.

      The strongest hint of the divisions was last week when Vice President
Joseph Msika ordered land reform minister Didymus Mutasa to halt fresh farm

      But a clique that includes top military leaders and led by Mutasa
himself wants all whites to be removed off their farms and has been using
war veterans and young soldiers to invade the farms over the past three

      Mutasa has vowed that there would no white farmer owning land in
Zimbabwe by the end of this year. - ZimOnline

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Smart sanctions and the reproduction of cronyism

Zim Online

Monday 10 September 2007

By Grace Kwinjeh

"It acquires foreign securities in the European markets, and goes off to
spend the week-end in Paris or Hamburg. The behaviour of the national
bourgeoisie of certain under-developed countries is reminiscent of the
members of a gang, who after every hold-up hide their share in the swag from
the other members who are their accomplices and prudently start thinking
about their retirement," Frantz Fanon, The Wretched of the Earth.

JOHANNESBURG - Recent revelations of vast fortunes amassed by former Kenyan
President, Daniel arap Moi and his family during his twenty-four year rule,
make an interesting parallel of what we could end up with in Zimbabwe.

What I found most interesting are the vast amounts that the two Moi sons
Philllip and Gideon are worth - a startling 930 million pounds.

Taken in view of the current contentious debate on the targeting of the
children of Zimbabwe 's ruling elite living or studying in the region and
abroad, I want to warn that Kenya's story may well be Zimbabwe's.

If the above prophesy by Fanon is being fulfilled, then the elite is 'is
playing to lose.'

The Moi family has denied the accusations made by a risk consultancy group
Kroll which has exposed a web of shell companies, hidden trusts and front
men used to channel vast amounts abroad.

Both Kenya and Zimbabwe have adopted the International Monetary
Fund-sponsored Structural Adjustment Programmes, which promote
neo-liberalism through free market programmes and policies.

A relationship that developed between the governments and the international
institution led in both countries to high unemployment, social upheavals,
government corruption and a growing parasitic middle class - an area I wish
to deal with in this article.

Like in Kenya, the Zimbabwe story is no different. The 'kleptocracy' has had
its whole hands and arms in the cookie jar.

The British government under the European Union's Common Position has so far
located 42 bank accounts and a paltry 172 000 pounds, belonging to targeted
Zimbabwean officials.

Meanwhile, the Australian government has targeted the children of the elite
on its banned list, whose student visas have now been revoked.

Among these are Reserve Bank Governor, Gideon Gono's twins who have been
studying tourism and hospitality at Melbourne 's La Trobe University. This
programme is available in Zimbabwe.

The first case on why the children of senior government officials studying
abroad should go back home is a moral one.

Senior Zimbabwe government officials must pay for the manner they have run
down the once brilliant education system.

The education system has collapsed. Children go to school to pass away time,
not for grades. Morale is low.

The elite's children cannot enjoy the luxury of a decent education, at the
expense of the hardworking, tax-payers and suffering masses. That is wrong.
Education is a human right and should be treated as such.

The elite's children represent a legacy of 'kleptocracy' often a hallmark of
most dictators.

It also has everything to do with dealing with corruption, one of Africa 's
biggest scourges and how cronyism tends to reproduce itself through children
of ruling elites and their allies.

So far the ZANU PF elite in typical Moi style has managed to conceal a good
part of its loot internationally, through the use of front companies, front
persons and its children.

The international community has paid lip service to tracing and freezing the
hidden loot. Capital flight has been rife, they have assets all over the
world and more here in South Africa.

It becomes a class issue when only the children of the bourgeois escape the
torn books, absent teachers, dilapidated buildings and empty laboratories
into neighbouring countries and abroad to receive the finest education.

The consolidation of the unequal power relations continues with the state
callously reproducing the less educated children of the working class at the
lower strata of society readying them to be exploited by their more educated
and wealthier counterparts - the elite's children.

Zimbabwean teachers country-wide have this week threatened to go on strike
if they are not awarded a 400 percent pay increase. It makes sense.

What does not make sense is when a teachers' salary is only worth a pupils
pair of school shoes.

The situation gets more ridiculous, when the President of the country, the
chief 'kleptocrat' announces a price and wage freeze just before schools

What better way to demoralise both teacher and pupil! Neither can afford the
transport fares, let alone a decent meal at lunchtime.

The second argument is an economic one. Zimbabwe is faced with a serious
foreign currency shortage.

It does not make economic or political sense that the 'kleptocrats' should
continue to drain our foreign currency reserves while the country suffers.

Where are the senior government officials getting the foreign currency to
sustain their children in top class education systems abroad?

Furthermore, externalisation of foreign currency is illegal in Zimbabwe.
This begs the question of how the elites are paying fees for their children
in foreign currency?

One South African rand is worth 35 000 Zimbabwean dollars on the parallel
market. Who is paying for all this?

Still on the economic considerations, how does it happen that the country
fails to pay for more than 36 000 tonnes of wheat, which could have eased
the current bread shortages but is able to pay one institution, the
University of Kwazulu-Natal over 7 million rand a year for beneficiaries of
Mugabe's Presidential Scholarship Fund?

On the list of 30 beneficiaries are Mugabe's niece and nephew, Chipo and
Hilary Matibili, both studying in programmes that are not only available at
tertiary institutions in Zimbabwe, but the amount being spent on them can
actually go a long way in revamping the University of Zimbabwe alone to the
benefit of over 10 000 of its students.

So yes, both the children of the 'kleptocracy' and the stolen loot must go
back home, to Zimbabwe. Perhaps the children can be inspired to join us in
the struggle for a democratic Zimbabwe, where access to education will not
be class issue.

* Grace Kwinje is the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party's
deputy secretary for international relations. She writes in her personal

ZimOnline welcomes opinion columns from Zimbabwean politicians.

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Zimbabwe Vigil Diary - 8th September

The main feature of today's Vigil was our participation in a worldwide
protest to raise awareness of the plight of Zimbabweans struggling for
freedom and democracy.  The protest was organised by the International
Literature Festival of Berlin which selected poems and prose written by
Zimbabweans to be read in public in more than 40 countries.  The readings
were also to be broadcast around the world.  Some of our event was recorded
by Tererai Karimakwenda of SW Radio Africa.   He also interviewed the
participants.  Some of the most famous writers in the world have supported
this event, including Margaret Attwood, Andre Brink, J M Coetzee, Don
DeLillo, Gunter Grass, Nadine Gordimer, John Updike and Mario Vargas Llosa.

The readings were introduced by Chipo Chaya who said Vigil supporters knew
at first hand of the pain of our people.  The first reading was Elinor
Sisulu's introduction to a new edition of "Gukurahundi in Zimbabwe: A Report
on the Disturbances in Matabeleland and the Midlands 1980-1988". (The Vigil
was well-represented at the launch of the book at Chatham House, London, on
Tuesday.) Elinor Sisulu said 'Speaking about Rwanda, South African President
Thabo Mbeki said: "A time such as this demands that the truth, the whole
truth and nothing but the truth should be told. It should be told because
not to tell it is to create the conditions for the crime to recur."' Her
essay was read by Patson Muzuwa, Ian Pocock and Rejoice Mahwada.

It was followed by Soneni Baleni reading a poem by Chenjerai Hove - "Nights
with Ghosts - A Child's Letter from the Rubble" (written after Operation
Murambatsvina, in which the Zimbabwe government destroyed 700,000 houses).
"dear samueri, my friend, i will never see you again; maybe i will. but i
shall not know until father finds us a new address. addresses! we have none
anymore. we are of no address. now that i have written this letter, where do
i post it to? shall i say, samueri, care of the next rubble

Phyllis Magagada read two poems by Chirikuré Chirikuré: "Salt" ("Don't think
that I am mad - You and I know who is mad - Don't think that I can't plan -
We know who the poor planner is") and "Let's cry with Hope".

Our final readings were three poems by Dambudzo Marechera: "Oracle of the
Povo" read by Fungayi Vincent Mabhunu, "Rats for Sale" ("Show me another.
Okay. Now, this one is the sly type. It eats colonialism so that it can shit
in pure malice on its own") read by Netsai Matambanadzo and "In Jail the
only Telephone is the Washbasin Hole: Blow and we'll hear!" read by Ethel

Between the readings there was singing led by Dumi Tutani and Tracy Sibanda.

There was no way we could overcome the noise from a busy London thoroughfare
but there was rapt attention for the readings and many passers-by become
deeply involved including a man from the DRC who was initially very hostile
but was won over after a good talking to.

We were glad to have with us two young men, Stendrick Zvorwadza and Justin
Shaw-Gray, just over from Zimbabwe.  They told us about their work for a new
organization called "Restoration of Human Rights in Zimbabwe" (ROHRZim).
They explained that their aim was to work with people to counter the fear of
the intimidatory tactics of the authorities.  This fear needed to be removed
for opposition to the Mugabe regime to be effective.  They have already had
some success - Stendrick has personally intervened when people were being
beaten and given other people courage to confront the authorities. He says
even some of the police were won over.

News of our friends in Bristol: they report that they are still protesting
regularly on the street with their banners and information and are
fundraising for Zimbabwean causes.

A special word of thanks to Caroline Witts who comes all the way from Devon
whenever she can and was rewarded today by being asked to spend the whole
Vigil at the front table dealing with passers-by while we were involved with
the readings.

For latest Vigil pictures, please see the link in the updates column.

FOR THE RECORD:  119 signed the register. Supporters from Bedford,
Birmingham, Bolton, Brighton, Canterbury, Corby, Coventry, Exeter, Hastings,
Leeds, Leicester, Liverpool, Luton, Manchester, Plymouth, Sheffield,
Southampton, Southend, Stoke-on-Trent, Wigan, Wolverhampton and many from
London and environs.


-         Monday, 10th September 2007 -Central London Zimbabwe Forum. A
special planning meeting for the 5th Anniversary of the Vigil and social
event. We need lots of help so those who would like to be involved in the
organisation of this event please come.  We are sharing the platform with
Jenni Williams of WOZA.  The usual forum venue is not available so we will
be meeting at the Strand Continental Hotel (first floor, main bar), 143 The
Strand WC2R 15A. From the Vigil, a 10-minute walk along the Strand away from
Trafalgar Square after Waterloo Bridge but before Somerset House. Nearest
underground: Temple (District and Circle lines) and Holborn (Piccadilly and
Central lines).
-         Saturday, 13th October, 2 - 6 pm. Zimbabwe Vigil's 5th Anniversary
followed by a social event.

Vigil co-ordinator

The Vigil, outside the Zimbabwe Embassy, 429 Strand, London, takes place
every Saturday from 14.00 to 18.00 to protest against gross violations of
human rights by the current regime in Zimbabwe. The Vigil which started in
October 2002 will continue until internationally-monitored, free and fair
elections are held in Zimbabwe.
Click here to see photos of the event

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Fast black market thrives in Zimbabwe

Boston Globe
Price controls trigger shortages of basic goods
A vendor sold cooking oil, sweet potatoes, and sugar in Harare, Zimbabwe, in July. Cooking oil is often not available in shops, but can easily be found at inflated prices on the black market. A vendor sold cooking oil, sweet potatoes, and sugar in Harare, Zimbabwe, in July. Cooking oil is often not available in shops, but can easily be found at inflated prices on the black market. (DESMOND KWANDE/AFP/Getty Images)

HARARE, Zimbabwe - Kuda Shumba goes at one speed: fast. He prides himself on being able to get hold of almost anything, and he's open for business day or night.

That's what it takes to be one of Zimbabwe's black market cowboys.

Shumba spends his days on a motorbike sniffing out almost-impossible-to-find items such as sugar, cooking oil, bread, margarine, or cellphone SIM cards, risking years in a dank prison if caught.

His markup: 500 percent-plus.

His cellphone is his lifeline. He gets calls from a couple dozen contacts who tip him off when a scarce commodity - which nowadays in Zimbabwe includes all basic needs - is about to appear in a store. Then he swoops in.

Store supervisors and other staff members sell most of what they have to people such as Shumba, pocketing a cut.

"I get them from the back door. You can't get them straight," he said. "I feel happy because I can get things fast and resell them quickly. That's my advantage: I'm fast. You have to be fast."

In this country suffering from hyperinflation, where the black market value of 1 million Zimbabwean dollars is $5.50, the underground dealers are the bane of the government.

But President Robert Mugabe's increasingly draconian efforts to control the lurching economy by imposing price controls was a gift to them, triggering severe shortages.

Agriculture in Zimbabwe, once Southern Africa's breadbasket with a thriving tobacco industry, has gone into decline since early 2000, when Mugabe allowed the seizure of white-owned farms, many of which ended up in the hands of ruling party cronies. Production plummeted, investors fled, and the country has been struggling with severe shortages ever since.

Price controls meant some businesses had to run at a loss, so even more goods disappeared from the shelves. Although the government recently has increased some prices, the state-run newspaper Herald reports that widespread shortages persist.

"I can make a lot of money because the government is saying people have to sell this at 50,000 [Zimbabwean dollars], so businessmen are no longer buying these things for resale," Shumba said. "I'll make a lot of money, 30 million-plus" a month.

On the black market exchange rate, that would be $166. It's a handsome salary compared with the 2 million Zimbabwean dollars a month, or $11, he would be making as a clerk, a post he abandoned several years ago because of the low pay.

Tall, wearing neat jeans and a crisp black jacket, Shumba, 34, carries a briefcase and looks like a businessman or shop owner. He's deeply religious and active in his church, but he has a motto in Zimbabwe's dog-eat-dog economy: Never give anything away.

When there is no meat in the shops, his wife and children eat meat. He has luxuries that none of his neighbors can afford: a laptop computer, satellite TV, a DVD player.

"You can only afford those things if you're a black market guy," he said. "They're not for people on salaries."

Many days, there's an air of anxiety in Zimbabwe's supermarkets. The freezer sections, once filled with meat and chicken, are empty. The shelves where cornmeal, rice, and bread used to be stacked are bare.

But on other shelves, cakes, cookies, dog food, and chocolate are piled up, at prices few people can afford.

When staples arrive, the anxiety turns to panic, and sometimes violence.

When people see a queue in Zimbabwe, they join it and ask questions later. According to local news reports, a queue to buy sugar snaking for 900 yards erupted into pandemonium in late July in the eastern town of Marondera. A security fence was toppled and a woman sustained a broken leg in the crush before police with dogs were called.

Days earlier, two people were seriously injured when a truck carrying cornmeal was mobbed in Bulawayo.

But business has never been so good for Shumba, who sells his goods secretly at night from his home or delivers to special customers. He might be one of Zimbabwe's economic winners, but he seems wired, constantly on edge, fingering his cellphone ceaselessly and shifting nervously at questions about business.

Some months, he sells half a ton of sugar, more than 300 gallons of cooking oil, and 100 dozen loaves of bread, which he gets from retailers and manufacturers.

"If you want to be a dealer, you have to know a lot of guys in different sectors. If you want something from supermarkets, you go and see the manager there," Shumba said. " You give him something so that when he gets in some sugar or cooking oil, he'll phone you."

Among his customers are white businessmen who rely on him for SIM cards, identification and memory cards for cellphones that are difficult to procure. He splits the 14 million dollars, or $77, a month in SIM card profit with a friend in a phone shop.

With shortages, black market prices are way up, reflecting the real inflation rate here. The risks have increased as well.

So Shumba has a little insurance policy. He bribes the police chief in his area 500,000 to 1 million Zimbabwean dollars - about $2.70 to $5.50 - every few weeks and offers him a gift of sugar, oil, or cornmeal from every delivery.

Zimbabweans privately curse the black marketers, but no one is ever rude to Shumba's face.

"People know what I do," he said. "They don't comment on it because they all want something from me.

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Zimbabwe migrants flood S. Africa

Los Angeles Times
Leap of faith
Greg Marinovich / South Photographs
Two illegal Zimbabwean immigrants, both teens, scale the last of three fences to take their chances in South Africa.
Illegal immigrants flee hunger and chaos into the neighboring country, where compassion is running short.
By Robyn Dixon, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer
September 9, 2007
MUSINA, SOUTH AFRICA -- The two men stared at each other for a long moment, captor and captive: a white game farmer named Andre Nienaber, with mirrored sunglasses, neatly pressed khaki clothes and an aura of military precision; and a 16-year-old Zimbabwean orphan named Peter Jell, wearing a cap marked "Jesus" and the desperate look of someone who knew he was headed back to the country he had risked his life to escape.

Moments earlier, the South African farmer had arrested Peter and four other Zimbabwean border jumpers where they sat, exhausted, hungry and demoralized, hoping to hitch a ride 300 miles south to Johannesburg.

He cuffed the five to the back of his truck with plastic ties and called the police.

"We're so frightened to go back to that hunger country, where there's nothing," Peter said as he waited.

His parents died in a bus crash two years ago, Peter said, and he has five younger siblings and no hope of feeding them. Before he left Zimbabwe last month, he and the other children, ages 2 to 12, were eating two or three times a week. In between, he said, the children scoured the bush for any wild fruit they could find.

"It's terrible. You feel sorry for them," Nienaber said before buying some bread and milk for the five illegal immigrants and handing them over to the police. Yet he sees the Zimbabweans who cross his land, cutting his fences and destroying his water pipes, as a threat to his survival.

The tide of Zimbabweans arriving in South Africa, driven by extreme shortages of food and basic goods, has grown into a flood as strong as the nearby Limpopo River in the rainy season.

Zimbabwe used to be one of Africa's most prosperous countries. Its slide into economic chaos under President Robert Mugabe's regime has forced people to make heart-wrenching decisions -- taking their children out of schools because they can't pay the fees, or even leaving them behind while they try to find work in South Africa.

The government of South Africa rejects the view of some activists that hunger and social upheaval in Zimbabwe are so severe that most border jumpers should be classified as refugees. The migrants are sent back to the chaos and poverty they fled.

The countryside around the Limpopo, which forms the border between the two nations, is a stunning canvas of red earth and green bush, but at times it is like stepping into a bygone era. Walk into some bars around here, and you're plunged into the reflexive racial hostility of apartheid.

You might hear someone express the view that there is no such thing as a good black; another says that "it just doesn't look right" when you see black people driving BMWs around Johannesburg. Not everyone puts it so bluntly, but you occasionally run into whites who, like the Leonardo DiCaprio character in the film "Blood Diamond," still refer to Zimbabwe by its colonial-era name, Rhodesia.

Some people profess pity for the Zimbabweans, but many farmers have run out of compassion. They go on regular patrols, rounding up Zimbabweans and handing them to the police, and some of the farmers say they are so angry that they sometimes feel like shooting the trespassers on their land.

Thousands arrestedPolice have stopped releasing statistics on immigrant arrests. The latest police data available indicate that here in Limpopo province, police arrested 5,000 Zimbabwean border jumpers in January.

But the army alone has arrested almost 42,000 Zimbabweans this year, and expects the total to reach 100,000 by year's end, compared with about 72,000 last year, according to figures provided at a military briefing to businessmen and farmers last month in this border town.

The majestic baobab trees that loom tall in Limpopo's scrubby acacia bush are of little scenic interest to hungry, footsore travelers from Zimbabwe, who care only for the shelter and shade they offer. The spectacular rocky outcrops are just barriers to walk around.

To landowners, the stony, dry soil is of little value except for game farming. The landscape draws hunters from all over the world to kill kudu, eland, impala -- all antelope -- and other game.

It's not hard to pick out the ragged, dirty border jumpers who venture onto Limpopo's roads looking for a lift. They radiate fear and vulnerability.

Akimu Tafire, 17, and Sheron Chimbuya, 20, had been wandering for five days without food or water after crossing the border with a group of 100 people.

"There's no food. There's no clothes. Education is poor and life is bad" in Zimbabwe, said Akimu, an orphan who supports five siblings.

Zimbabweans speak of a disintegrating society, a place so desperate that mothers of young children leave them behind to make the terrifying journey south.

Cecilia Mapani, wizened and worn down at 25, left Zimbabwe in March because there was no way to feed her young brothers and her 7-year-old son, Tanaka.

"I was afraid, but I forced myself to come," she said. "People say a lot of things about this Limpopo River. There are crocodiles in the river. The water was powerful and I don't know how to swim."

She joined a group of about 130 people, escorted by traffickers. They were told to hold hands when they waded into the river, which came almost to Mapani's neck. They walked for five hours through the bush to get to the nearest town, Musina.

Mapani found work picking tomatoes on a local farm for $40 a month. Some would call it exploitation, but to her the meager wage offered survival and hope. Mapani is now in Johannesburg, penniless and unemployed.

Ask Mapani how it felt to leave her son behind, and she gazes ahead numbly, as though seeing nothing. She left him with his father, a miner; she hopes he'll be all right.

Farmers' plight The farmers of the Limpopo say they have their own worries about making a living. Armed with two-way radios, pistols and a zeal for law and order, they launched Farm Watch patrols seven years ago to combat crime, but now focus on rounding up Zimbabweans. The patrols have been criticized by the Limpopo police commissioner and by COSATU, the trade union body.

Farmers complain that their game fences are cut daily, their water pipes are broken by thirsty Zimbabweans, pump and irrigation parts are repeatedly stolen, fires are lighted, game killed and farmworkers threatened and sometimes attacked.

When game escapes, it's impossible to recover it, said Gert Klopper, 65, who has a farm near the Zimbabwean border and lost 25 wildebeest valued at about $9,000 to a neighbor: Wild game cannot be marked or branded.

Behind Klopper's house, strips of meat hang in an ancient van, an improvised drying room for biltong, the spicy air-dried meat South Africans love to snack on.

Another game and vegetable farmer, Willem Helm, lost a herd of eland valued at about $29,000 after his fence was cut. He has to employ a man full time just to fix the holes in his fences, he says.

"These people are so hungry; sometimes they have not eaten for four or five days. They don't have a cent on them. They will steal anything," he said. "They do what they have to do to survive. I'd probably do the same.

"But compassion is running out. We are getting frustrated and sometimes getting angry, especially if something is broken or stolen. The situation is so bad that you can't let them go. If I am to survive on my land, then they must go."

As the farmers patrol a deserted dirt track, the red dust is marked with the footprints of those who passed the night before. Here and there are traces of a scuffle: some discarded trousers and an old bag, signs that someone was robbed of their few possessions. There are also the remains of several fires.

Occasionally, you pass several large rocks placed in a line to point the way. The border crossers also tie plastic bags or bottles to trees to mark the way or indicate pickup points.

There's a cold, biting wind on the back of Nienaber's truck. He stops anyone he sees hanging out by the roadside, taking them by the arm and demanding to see their ID. Some of them roar with laughter, saying, "We're from South Africa, not Zimbabwe." Others show him their TB injection scars to prove they are South African; Zimbabweans' scars are on the other shoulder.

Farmers also fear that the influx of Zimbabweans will scare away international game hunters. British hunter Richard Sloggett was surprised by the numbers of Zimbabweans rustling through bushes where he was supposed to be shooting.

On a June trip to the property of one Limpopo game farmer, Sloggett and other hunters slept each night with rifles at their sides, afraid of being attacked by Zimbabweans.

While hunting one morning in thick scrub, they found four border jumpers, and Sloggett was told to point his rifle at the men, march them back toward the main camp and force them to lie on the ground, an adventure that left a bad taste in his mouth.

"I'm English. It's not in my nature to be pointing guns at people," he said. "It was very alien.

"The problem is that these people [Zimbabweans] really have got nothing to lose. But that's what makes them so dangerous."

Another alien element, said Sloggett, was the way many local whites "talk as if the apartheid era still exists."

"I found that pretty offensive. I wish they would change the way they speak. But that doesn't mean they should be murdered. The crime is against them, not by them."

At dusk near the Beitbridge border crossing, the sun sinks in a majestic haze of red. Stray cats and beggars scrounge for food.

There's an air of expectancy: The drivers know it's time for business. Pretty soon, says one Zimbabwean driver, people will start shambling in from the bushes to jump into taxis and make their way south.

But tonight, a soldier is patrolling the area, checking passports.

Darkness settles. Slowly the area empties out. It is as if the border crossers can smell the danger. They won't be coming in from the bush tonight.

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