By Peta Thornycroft
13 September 2007
Zimbabwe's opposition, the Movement for Democratic Change, was formed eight
years ago this week. When it was only six months old, it delivered President
Robert Mugabe's first political defeat. Now it is a shadow of itself, split
into two factions. As Peta Thornycroft reports for the VOA, the MDC has
little chance of winning next year's crucial national elections even if
there is electoral reform and a less repressive political climate.
The Movement for Democratic Change was established in 1999. Just six months
after the party came into being, it was able to mobilize the people of
Zimbabwe to vote against a new constitution in a national referendum.
It was a stinging blow for the aging Zimbabwean leader, dealt by a fledgling
party under the leadership of the charismatic former secretary general of
the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions, Morgan Tsvangirai.
The party drew support across racial and tribal lines, reflecting growing
dissatisfaction with Mr. Mugabe's rule and concern over an economy that had
begun to shrink.
The victory in the referendum sparked a fresh mood of optimism in Zimbabwe.
People in urban areas responded to Tsvangirai and they became the party's
Just months later, in June 2000, and despite massive repression and
accusations that the MDC was foreign-funded and a stooge of British
imperialism, the party came within four seats of beating the ruling Zanu-PF
in parliamentary elections.
Mr. Mugabe had already launched his chaotic land redistribution program,
taking farms away from commercial farmers. The economy, dependent on
agricultural exports mostly produced by the evicted farmers, went into rapid
Tough new security and media laws were put in place. Ahead of presidential
elections in 2002, Tsvangirai was charged with treason on a trumped-up
charge of plotting to assassinate President Mugabe.
The trial drained the MDC's financial resources and put Tsvangirai at a
disadvantage when he stood as the opposition candidate.
Tens of thousands were unable to vote, especially in Tsvangirai's
stronghold, Harare. The party presented evidence during a subsequent court
challenge which they said demonstrated that Zanu-PF cheated in order to give
President Mugabe a 15-percent victory at the polls.
Following the election, more MDC legislators and supporters were detained,
beaten and some were killed. The pro-MDC newspaper, The Daily News, was
bombed and then closed down.
Squabbles emerged within the MDC, aggravated by tensions between its Shona
and Ndebele leaders.
In the March 2005 general election, the MDC lost more than a third of the
legislative seats it had won five years earlier.
The party finally split over the issue of whether to boycott senate
elections later that year.
The split caused dismay and confusion among its supporters and left the MDC
divided along tribal lines. There was some violence between the two
The faction which chose to fight the senate elections asked academic Arthur
Mutambara to lead it. He had been the first person from Mr. Mugabe's Shona
tribe, as a student leader years earlier, to lead protests against the
At present, both MDC factions have equal numbers of legislators in
parliament, but most political observers say Tsvangirai has more supporters
than Mutambara, particularly in densely populated Harare.
At present, both factions are selecting candidates for next year's national
Political observers say this will split the opposition vote and give
President Mugabe and his Zanu-PF easy victories.
Some political analysts say that if the two MDC factions do not quickly
establish a coalition, the opposition party will lose the presidential vote
and all but a handful of seats in legislative elections due next March.
Afrique en ligne
Harare, Zimbabwe - A top agriculture official in Zimbabwe said
Thursday the country was importing 3,500 tractors to buttress its
controversial agrarian reforms.
Agriculture Engineering, Mechanisation and Irrigation Minister Joseph
Made said the tractors had been imported from a number of countries, and
were expected in Zimbabwe in the next six months.
He said the equipment would be distributed to black farmers resettled
on farms forcibly seized from white farmers, to buttress the government's
controversial agrarian reforms.
"The country will receive a total of 3,500 tractors from different
countries within the next six months. As we prepare for the farming season,
we want to make sure that we have all the machinery needed," he said.
He did not say, however, how much the tractors would cost.
A few months ago, t#he government imported tractors, combine
harvesters and other agricultural equipment worth US$25 million.
Harare - 13/09/2007
This is Nottingham
11:00 - 13 September 2007
Human rights lawyers from Zimbabwe have joined forces with University of
Nottingham experts to help fight against atrocities in their homeland.
The Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum hopes to use the Human Rights Law
Centre's expertise and experience as they take on President Robert Mugabe's
government through the courts.
Two members of the forum, which gathers information on atrocities in
Zimbabwe to raise awareness in the international community, visited
Nottingham for a debate One was lawyer Nokuthula Moyo, who says the
situation in her homeland remains dire.
And she says it is not just the widely reported political issues that need
tackling but also rising socio-economic problems.
"There is no food. There are water shortages. Rubbish is going uncollected
and hospitals are short of staff and equipment," she said.
"People are starving because supplies are low and the shops and factories
are empty. We're relying on money sent from family members abroad or brought
over the border from South Africa.
"We are fighting to raise awareness of this, but also we are simply
begging - we need help from whoever can help."
And she believes the Human Rights Legal Centre can assist their fight.
Emilie Hunter, acting research and programmes co-ordinator at the centre,
which works with governments, think tanks and non-governmental
organisations, said: "It's through the work of these NGOs that we receive
the information about what is going on in countries like Zimbabwe.
"They are on the ground and not just reporting on what's happening, but
actually doing great work within the country.
"This is a good opportunity for us to support such a rigorous organisation."
Dewa Mevhinga, co-ordinator of the forum, based in London, said: "The
promotion of human rights issues in Zimbabwe is a matter of international
concern - there has been a lot of misinformation about the situation there.
"We are very excited about the opportunity this offers us.
"There is a lot of expertise at the university that we can use as we attempt
to challenge the Zimbabwean government [through the international courts]."
The links with the centre began in September last year when one of the
forum's lawyers, Brian Penduka, spent three months studying in Nottingham.
This has now been reciprocated.
One of the university's Masters students, Catherine Namakula, from Uganda,
started a three-month placement at the forum's London office on Monday.
Catherine, who started her internship on the same day she finished her
masters, said: "I'm looking forward to gaining expertise and learning more
about human rights issues."
For more on the work of the Human Rights Legal Centre visit
www.nottingham.ac.uk/law/hrlc . The Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum's
website is www.hrforumzim.com a
firstname.lastname@example.org /a .
By: Brenda Zulu & Thandisizwe Mqolweni
Speaking at the annual Highway Africa conference in Grahamstown as a member
of the panel on 'Producing and presenting the radio talk show: the burden of
nation building', John Masuku, director of The Voice of the People in
Zimbabwe, said Africa still needs chat shows. Meanwhile, Alain Foka, Radio
France International (RFI) Talk Show host observed that Africa was faced
with many critical issues. He said not much of the issues were being
discussed and this turned out to be Africa's downfall.
"This is not because people choose not to speak, but because they are not
able to," said Foka.
Masuku said that state media in Zimbabwe was not balancing issues and that
as an alternative media this is where they come in to give the people a
voice. He explained that usually in Zimbabwe, talk shows were recorded
because of the media situation prevailing in the country at the moment.
Masuku added that a talk show host has to be professional. He said it was
important to debate the issue for discussion as a group before opening up
the airwaves. He advised talk show hosts to look at issues that are of
concern to Africa's citizens.
He however noted that low budget broadcasters faced many challenges in the
way people would view the broadcasting station. "Some people think we are a
pirate radio station funded by the West to effect an illegal regime," said
The station employs journalists who have been well trained and the challenge
for them is how to convince people to make themselves available for
interviews. "Some people would come and others would refuse."
He observed that a lot of people who accepted to be on their talk shows were
those people who have been denied space in the state media.
Foka added that the media was the vehicle used to mobilize dialogue to
debate national issues, but this could be a problem where there is no
freedom of expression. He said his talk show was appreciated by 45 million
audiences and the debates were open and the expression was free.
"I choose the guests who are in the talk shows after I have worked on the
theme for the show," said Foka.
Answering a question on the importance of radio talk shows, Foka said the
debates should be open and that his talk shows for the past 14 years have
not been influenced by his employers.
He added that it was time for Africa to speak about African issues.
Source: HANA www.highwayafrica.ru.ac.za
SW Radio Africa (London)
13 September 2007
Posted to the web 13 September 2007
Zimbabwe's ports of entry have been thrust into a crisis after the Zimbabwe
Revenue Authority (ZIMRA) workers went on strike to press for a 5 700
percent salary increase.
Thousands of travellers and truck drivers were stranded at the country's
border posts Wednesday and Thursday. This followed the nationwide strike by
the workforce of the parastatal who is responsible for organising government
funds from the country's corporate companies, through taxes. The revenue
authority also collects duties and taxes on imported goods at border posts.
The industrial action reportedly started at the Beitbridge border post, at
midnight Tuesday before spreading to Chirundu, Nyamapanda and other borders.
The development has caused serious problems among travellers seeking to
clear their goods. The Beitbridge post, bordering Zimbabwe and South Africa,
clears many vehicles and goods daily.
At Plumtree Border Post, business was reportedly at a virtual standstill
while long queues were the order of the day at Forbes border post in Mutare.
Traders importing food and other basic commodities that are scarce on the
parched Zimbabwean market dominate most of the business at the country's
ports. Shelves have gone empty in Zimbabwe in the past three months due to
Robert Mugabe's economic mismanagement through wage freezes and price
slashes. Observers see Mugabe's policies as the root cause of Zimbabweans'
desperate search for basic goods beyond borders, hence the escalating
numbers of people trying to import food and other essential commodities.
Reports suggest the work stoppage cost ZIMRA at least Z$1 trillion in
revenue alone on the first day of the strike, besides inconveniencing
thousands of cross-border travellers battling to clear imports into the
One worker who refused to be named said ZIMRA management had offered a 400
percent increment to be implemented this month but the workers spurned the
He said: "The 400 percent increment would have taken the salary of a revenue
officer to only Z$10 million at a time the poverty datum line is estimated
at over Z$15 million. We said that was too little."
ZIMRA's non-managerial employees workers, estimated at over 2 000, have
downed tools at a time when government has imposed a blanket freeze on
salary adjustments to rein in the world's highest inflation that is topping
7 600 percent.
Reports suggest that it is the disruption in Harare that will be a big blow
to revenue collection as about 85 percent of ZIMRA's revenue comes from the
capital, through corporate tax payments as well as Value Added Tax.
Cross border trader Mathius Zimuto urged the government to address the ZIMRA
crisis with urgency.
Zimuto said: "At the Beitbridge Border Post there were long winding queues
of both motor and human traffic throughout the day. At the ZIMRA scanner
shed, there was only one officer who was attending to trucks awaiting a
scanner checkup, while the entry and exit counters were manned by one senior
"Officers could be seen moving leisurely around the customs hall, while
queues were the order of the day. All counters had been deserted, save for a
senior ZIMRA officer who was manning both entry and exit sides," said
Zimuto, whose consignments of goods were stuck on the South African side of
September 13 2007 at 04:08PM
Harare - President Robert Mugabe on Thursday fired a broadside at
western media for biased coverage of events in Zimbabwe, ignoring an
adultery case involving his staunch opponent, former archbishop Pius Ncube.
"If one of my own ministers does mischief and takes another person's
wife, it will be carried on television and they will say this is what
Mugabe's ministers are doing," Mugabe said.
"It will be carried on BBC, CNN, everywhere, but let the man who
speaks their language and does their work, even if he is archbishop, commit
adultery they will not publish it," he said at the official launch of the
country's Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) policy.
"They will seek to hide it even on CNN and BBC and say nothing,
absolutely nothing about it. Or if they do, it is just in passing. So let's
Ncube, 60, a leading critic of Mugabe resigned on Tuesday following an
adultery scandal after a state newspaper published compromising pictures,
alleged to depict the Bulawayo archbishop having sex with another man's
However Ncube, who has been head of the Bulawayo Diocese since 1998,
said his resignation was intended to save the Church from further attacks
and enable him to challenge the adultery charge in court in his private
Mugabe said Zimbabweans should not risk being fascinated with new
communication technologies, which posed risks due to the content they
allowed people to access.
"We have our own sphere, our own space, which we must self-determine
and govern as a sovereign people. We will never be that image the British or
Americans have put on BBC or CNN. We are in the middle of a fight for our
"Our very space or territory is being channelled by the British...
They have used propaganda and their global news networks to leverage
international opinion against us."
Mugabe's government has often accused the West of trying to bring
about regime change in the country using "hostile" media.
Many Zimbabweans have turned to foreign-based radio stations and
television channels for an alternative to broadcasts by
government-controlled radio and television stations. - Sapa-AFP
SW Radio Africa (London)
13 September 2007
Posted to the web 13 September 2007
A Zimbabwean clergyman was on Monday picked up for questioning by the
dreaded state security agents for allegedly organising a pastors' workshop
with 'political intentions' in Masvingo last weekend.
The Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO) agents picked up Reverend
Sonykis Chimbuya, the chairman of the Pastors' Forum, accusing him of
holding an illegal anti-government meeting last Saturday and Sunday.
At least 20 pastors from Pentecostal churches attended the meeting that was
held at the Glen Livert Hotel, 20km east of Zimbabwe's oldest city of
Masvingo, to discuss problems affecting disadvantaged communities in
According to Chimbuya, the CIO agents were angered after they discovered
that the meeting sought to discuss contentious issues such as the government
slum clearing exercise, Operation Murambatsvina and the Gukurahundi
atrocities that saw over 20 000 ethnic Ndebeles being massacred during the
"I was picked up for questioning by members of the CIO on Monday. They
wanted to know what we were discussing at the meeting. The CIO agents later
handed me to CID (Criminal Investigations Department) officers who claimed
that the police, under the Public Order and Security Act (POSA), had not
cleared the meeting.
"We were simply contextualising the current crisis facing the country
whereby our flock can no longer attend church because they are perennially
stuck in queues for basic commodities; and our youths are leaving the
country for Botswana and South Africa soon after finishing studies. We
wonder then what our role should become if the state begins to censure the
voice of God through the church," said Chimbuya.
Chimbuya said he told the agents that as a church group, they did not need
to apply for police clearance when conducting church services as required by
Zimbabwe's security laws.
Under POSA, Zimbabweans must first seek permission from the police before
gathering in groups of more than three people to discuss politics.
An increasingly jittery Mugabe government has over the past seven years used
the tough security law to stifle legitimate political activities around the
SW Radio Africa (London)
13 September 2007
Posted to the web 13 September 2007
Six student leaders who were arrested by police at the Great Zimbabwe
University on Tuesday and Wednesday have all been released from custody. On
Tuesday SRC President Whitlaw Mugwiji, plus Mukudzei Shoko and Ogylive
Makora were arrested during an orientation programme on campus that was
disrupted by rowdy and drunken youths, thought to be from a state sponsored
rival students union. A further 3 students were arrested after trying to
take food to their colleagues at Masvingo Central Police station the
following day. Female student leaders Brenda Mparutsa and Faith Nkomo were
released on the same day of their arrest, while the 4 male students Mugwiji,
Shoko, Makora and Secretary General Edson Hlatshwayo were only released
Prosecutors in Masvingo refused to take up the matter citing lack of
evidence. The police had insisted the students engaged in public violence,
however students under a state sponsored rival union the Zimbabwe Congress
of Student Unions (ZICOSU) are thought to have been behind the disruption of
the orientation programme. Simba Moyo the head of the Rapid Response Team in
the Students Solidarity Trust was in Masvingo on Thursday and explained to
Newsreel how ZICOSU members seized t-shirts and fliers resulting in
fistfights on the campus. Instead of arresting the perpetrators, police
focused on the victims. For many this confirms the immunity ZICOSU members
enjoy from the state and how the formation of the union was meant to sow
Moyo says the state has now made it official policy to arrest students as
soon as they gather for anything. Whether they are charged or not is not
important, as the objective is to simply cause disruptions. This he said is
how government is putting a lid on student activism. Already there are
several student leaders from a much talked about hit list who are in hiding
and not attending lessons. Again ZICOSU, with valuable inside information,
is accused of helping state security agents identify so-called 'problematic'
student leaders. An uneasy calm remains at the university campus with the
SRC threatening more protests over the harassment and the deteriorating
The NCA is in full support of the Stay Away that the Zimbabwe Congress of
Trade Unions (ZCTU) has called for 19 and 20 September 2007.
It is no secret that the workers of Zimbabwe and indeed the majority of
Zimbabweans are suffering as a result of the current government's flawed
socio-economic policies. These defective policies are a result of an
undemocratic constitution that gives unlimited powers to the Executive arm
of government at the expense of the welfare of the majority of Zimbabweans.
It was as a result of the existence of a defective constitution that workers
of Zimbabwe and other stakeholders came together in 1997 and formed the NCA
to spearhead the campaign for a democratic and people-driven constitution
that can help bring democracy and development to Zimbabwe. Being satisfied
by the current constitutional order that is primarily designed to let it
continue in power forever, the Zimbabwean government has persistently and
constantly turned down the people of Zimbabwe's demand for a new, democratic
As a result of the ZANU PF government's interest to continue in power,
Zimbabweans continue to be exposed to a constitution that has brought untold
suffering to the majority of citizens.
In pursuit of a democratic and prosperous Zimbabwe, the NCA urges the
workers of Zimbabwe to take heed of the ZCTU Stay away call and continue
pressing for a democratic and people-driven constitution that will help
bring better living conditions to the suffering people of Zimbabwe.
Inserted by the NCA information & Publicity Department
MISA Communiqué (Zimbabwe)
September 13, 2007
Zim media commemorate the closure of The Daily News and The Daily News on
Media practitioners from Harare, Zimbabwe) made a call on the Zimbabwean
government to comply with the judgment of the Supreme Court and High Court
by immediately disbanding the partisan and partial Media and Information
The practitioners made the call during the commemoration to mark the closure
of the Associated Newspapers of Zimbabwe (ANZ) publications, The Daily News
and The Daily News on Sunday, held on September 11, 2007. The two
publications were closed on September 11, 2003, after the Supreme Court came
up with its infamous "dirty hands judgment".
Andy Moyse, the coordinator of the Media Monitoring Project of Zimbabwe
(MMPZ) hailed The Daily News and The Daily News on Sunday as being among the
most vibrant and vocal publications ever to emerge from Zimbabwe. He stated
that the publications played a crucial role in conscientising Zimbabweans
about their right to freedom of expression and the need for media freedom.
He said that since the closure of this publication, Zimbabweans have
suffered from an information deficiency. Moyse however acknowledged the role
being played by publications such as The Zimbabwean, The Standard and The
Financial Gazette which have continued to wage the war of fighting for
freedom of expression.
Moyse went on to state that, like mealie meal, bread and other basic
commodities, information has disappeared from the shelf. He urged all
Zimbabweans to lobby for better policies which would enable access to and
the free flow of information.
Dzimbabwe Chimbga, from the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights reiterated his
organization's commitment to ensuring the creation of an independent and
pluralistic media environment. Chimbga stated that the banning of media
houses and harassment of media practitioners was done with disregard for
Section 20 of the Zimbabwean Constitution which talks about freedom of
Chimbga said whilst Zimbabwe is a signatory to a number of regional and
international instruments which promotes the right to freedom of expression,
it is surprising to note that the same government is on a mission to muzzle
the media and stifle its operation
Participants at the commemoration expressed optimism that The Daily News,
The Daily News on Sunday and other banned publications will one day suffice
again to counter the propagandistic material being broadcast and published
by the state media.
The commemoration was organized by the Media Institute of Southern Africa
(MISA) Zimbabwe in collaboration with Harare Press Club.
BY ITAI DZAMARA
Despite its much-touted, much-criticised policy of quiet diplomacy and
public support for President Robert Mugabe, the South African government is
aware that he the source of the problem has been secretly working to remove
him from power.
According to information gleaned from minutes of a meeting between a South
African government delegation and members of the MDC (Mutambara) in February
this year, the government of President Thabo Mbeki acknowledges that the
crisis in Zimbabwe is about politics and governance and Mugabe is to blame.
The minutes also reveal an admission by Mbeki's government that it let down
Zimbabweans by adopting a wait-and-see approach. Minutes of meetings held
by Mbeki's representatives and the MDC (Mutambara) in February this year
show that, in their discussions on a solution to the country's political
crisis, SA officials exposed their position about Mugabe and Zanu (PF).
The SA representatives at the meetings held on February 22 and 23, were
Local Government minister Sydney Mufamadi, Foreign Affairs Deputy minister
Aziz Pahad and Reverend Frank Chikane as well as Advocate Mojanku Gumbi,
both from the Office of the President. This is the same team involved in
current mediation efforts between Zanu (PF) and the MDC factions.
Arthur Mutambara led the delegation from his faction, which included
secretary general Welshman Ncube, his deputy Priscilla Misihairabwi and
foreign affairs secretary Moses Mzila.
"Minister Mufamadi noted: SA accepts that the crisis is essentially
political and (about) governance; Admitted that they have acted as a buffer
and protected RGM (Mugabe)," the minutes read. "Rev Chikane and the SA
government had come to the conclusion that Mugabe never meant to keep any of
the promises made to the SA government. This was seen as the highest level
of abuse of the person and office of the presidency, since commitments made
at such levels though not written were a binding undertaking and expected
decorum from heads of state. The SA government believes that Mugabe has
deliberately led their presidency along the garden path and it would be very
difficult to fully re-engage with Mugabe and Zanu (PF)."
Pahad is reported in the minutes to have confirmed a widely-held belief that
SA feared most for the effects of the Zimbabwean economic implosion on their
"Deputy Minister Pahad briefly noted that they were not making any inroads
and so needed to wait and see where they could contribute meaningfully. They
had also hoped that the SADC troika could be nudged to play a more active
role; they had tried the (Koffie) Annan angle; the (Benjamin) Mkapa angle
but all these efforts had failed. But if the meltdown continues this would
have a serious impact on SA," the minutes state.
The SA officials have been lobbying for sustained international pressure to
bear on the Mugabe regime. "Pahad outlined that there was a good chance
that the support of the EU and the US for this process could be garnered. He
noted how Mugabe did not seek SA's assistance on attending the summit and
that there were rumblings in the EU on how to deal with Zimbabwe issue,"
stated the minutes.
By Staff Reporter
Last updated: 09/13/2007 22:23:11
FIVE Zimbabwean women who went on hunger strike at a British Immigration
Removal Centre last Monday have complained of exhaustion, but remain
determined to continue their action, they said Thursday.
The five failed asylum seekers -- Maud Kadango Lennard, Faina Manuel
Pondesi, Zandile Sibanda, Rose Phekani and Pauline Chitekeshe - are held at
the Yarls Wood holding facility in Bedford.
Three of the women have been told they could be deported to Malawi within
"I have been told I will be deported on September 19, together with two of
the girls," Lennard said by telephone Thursday. "We are determined to press
on with our strike because the UK is deporting us to a foreign country with
the full knowledge that we will ultimately be handed over to Robert Mugabe's
The women wrote to the British Home Office last Sunday giving notice of
their intention to go on hunger strike, but they were told they had
exhausted their appeals and now face removal from the UK.
Deportations to Zimbabwe are currently on hold, but the UK government says
it will remove people who used "genuine" foreign passports to enter the UK
before seeking to switch to their true identities.
In a letter to the UK immigration service, the women said: "Given the
desperate situation in Zimbabwe which has been commented upon by the United
Nations and all major countries including South Africa, we cannot condone
the return of us (sic) to that country at this time.
"Please can you release us or hunger strike (sic)."
The Home Office, in its reply, told the women they "can be in no doubt that
the Secretary of State does not accept your claims."
The Home Office letter, signed by a D Smith, said: "The decisions to refuse
you asylum have all been upheld by the AIT (Asylum and Immigration Tribunal)
at every stage of the appeal process. You therefore have little incentive to
respond to any terms of bail/temporary admission.
"With regards to your specific fears of the country situation in Zimbabwe,
your concerns are noted and supported by objective evidence. The Home Office
published policy means that removals of failed asylum seekers are not
enforced to Zimbabwe and so I would like to allay your fears of being
forcibly returned. However, as the Home Office plans to return you to
Malawi.the country situation in Zimbabwe has no bearing on your situation.
"For above reasons, I find myself unable to grant you bail/temporary
admission but would remind you that you can apply for AIT bail at any time."
Hundreds of Zimbabweans put off by a UK visa regime in Harare have used
foreign passports to enter the UK before claiming asylum. The UK courts have
refused to accept them as legitimate Zimbabweans, lawyers have complained.
Many have been deported to Malawi and South Africa where they face lengthy
questioning and threatened with criminal charges, The New Zimbabwe's
immigration expert Lloyd Msipa said this week.
Msipa revealed: "The tragedy with this situation is that once these
Zimbabweans are deported, they are forgotten. It's like putting people on a
conveyer belt to nowhere.
"Nobody wants to touch these cases with a long stick because legal aid is no
longer available to most of them, and the cases are notoriously difficult to
win. I have seen people who have produced birth and death certificates of
their parents, letters from headmen and many other forms of identification
to invalidate their false passports, but they all suffer the same fate.
Campaigners said the UK had no systems in place to follow-up the deportees
to ensure they are safe.
[This is a message from the David Coltart Mailing List]
Parliament of Zimbabwe 4th September 2007
MR COLTART: We have just been entertained for the last ten minutes by my
hon. friend. One thing that Hon Kasukuwere (the Deputy Minister of Youth
Development and Employment Creation responsible for the Youth Brigades) has
said I think should dominate this debate: namely the question - how do we
protect the vulnerable in our society? If we are to be committed patriotic
Zimbabweans that question should dominate this debate. The reality is that
our current economic situation has never been so depressed and poor people
have never been as vulnerable as they are now. This is not MDC propaganda;
if you look at the article on Zimbabwe, that the Zimbabwe government
sponsored to the tune of US$ 1 million, in the September edition of New
Africa magazine you will see some of the statements made in that document
support what I am saying.
Let me refer you to part of the magazine; for instance it records that our
GDP as a nation is back to the level of 1953. We have lost over 50 years of
economic growth in the space of a decade. It is estimated also in New
Africa magazine that 80% of Zimbabweans are now living below the poverty
datum line including members of our armed forces. Our economy is collapsing.
For example gold production last year was the same as our gold production in
1907! It is the lowest gold production since 1907. The last time we had
the coal production as low as it was last year was in 1946. These are
facts that none of us can avoid. We see the manifestation of these things
when we visit the supermarkets which the hon. member has spoken about. The
reality is what we have seen in our supermarkets is the symptom of a far
deeper cancer in our society.
There has been a lot of debate and a lot of propaganda from the other side
of the house about sanctions being to blame. This is of course the chorus
from our friends from the other side but the reality is that Zimbabwe should
be one of the wealthiest nations in Africa irrespective of the targeted
sanctions imposed on the ruling elite. When you look at our human
resources, when you consider our highly educated workforce, which is a
credit to this government, if you look at the literacy rate of Zimbabweans -
which used to be among the highest in Africa - possibly still are the
highest in Africa - you will see that we have some of the most productive
people in Africa. That is something that we can all be proud of as patriots
of this country; we certainly should be. We also have a very motivated work
force. We have natural resources that are not found in such abundance per
capita in any other country in the world. Once again I refer to the New
Africa article; in that articl
e you will find a document about our natural resources and minerals. We have
the second biggest reserves of platinum in the world. 60% of our nation
comprises the particular granite, greystone-granite, in which gold is found.
We have nickel, diamond and titanium in abundance - a full range of
minerals. This is one of the most beautiful countries in the world. We
have one of the Seven Wonders of the World, the Victoria Falls. In other
words Mr. Speaker, we have all the resources I have mentioned that should
make Zimbabwe a great nation irrespective of any sanctions. We seemingly
have had all the ingredients to make a great nation over the last 27 years
since independence and yet we are now faced with the catastrophic situation
of 7 500% inflation - the official government figure - and 80% are below the
poverty datum line, and 3500 people are dying of preventable ailments. The
World Health Organisation said last year that we have the lowest life
expectancy in the world.
We as patriots need to sit down together and consider afresh this
catastrophe as Zimbabweans - whether we are ZANU PF, of whatever faction,
whether we are MDC, of whatever flavour. We need to go deep into our
history to find when it was that everything started to go wrong.. Why is it
that in 1958 we had an economy bigger than Singapore? And yet since 1958 we
all, black and white, have managed to reduce this country to the basket
status it now suffers from. In my view the problems started well before
1980. The root of our decay can be traced back to many of the policies
first implemented in the early 1960s. For example I believe that price
control regulations were imposed in the 1960's. Foreign exchange
regulations were imposed in the 1960's but most importantly Mr. Speaker what
happened in the 60's is that we removed one critical important ingredient
necessary for long term sustainable economic growth and that is summed up in
one word - democracy.
The Rhodesian Front government, in the pursuance of white minority rule,
discarded whatever democracy was developing this country in the 1950s under
the leadership of real patriots such as Garfield Todd. Therein lies the
root of the economic collapse of this country. The Rhodesian Front
bequeathed to ZANU PF an undemocratic legacy including the Law and Order
Maintenance Act, an undemocratic Constitution, complete control of the flow
of information - the RBC simply became the ZBC and did not change its
policies of supporting blindly the government of the day - price controls
and exchange control regulations. ZANU PF merely picked up where the
Rhodesian Front left off.
Mr. Speaker, it is time, if we are serious about the plight of our nation,
that we start to consider the situation of the vulnerable in our society. -
[HMS: Inaudible interjection] - Hon. Kasukuwere may not be seeing the plight
of the vulnerable in his constituency but I do in mine. I have seen people
getting thinner by the week; I can see that thousands of people in Nketa
High density suburb have no or little access to food, water, drugs and basic
health care. We all need to move beyond rhetoric and consider the plight of
the vulnerable in our nation.
Mr. Speaker, my hon. Friend blames everything on sanctions and I want to
look at that now. The first point I want to make is that we must consider
the history of this country in this regard. We know that in 1966 the United
Nations very correctly imposed on the white minority government of Rhodesia
comprehensive trade and economic sanctions. They were a censure imposed by
the UN of racist policies. They were overwhelmingly enforced. The only
countries that breached those sanctions were South Africa and Portugal and
partially by some countries like France. The point I am making is that
they were comprehensive trade and economic sanctions imposed on the regime
led by Ian Smith - [an HON MEMBER: An illegal regime] - yes illegal.
However the fact is that after some 14 years of these sanctions in 1980 the
Zimbabwean dollar was stronger than the United States dollar. In case
someone thinks I am trying to defend the racist policies of the Rhodesian
Front, let me make no doubt about the point I am making. I am not seeking
to be an apologist for the Rhodesian Front. The point I am simply making is
that despite the imposition of comprehensive trade sanctions over a period
of fourteen years on the Rhodesian Front regime, the Zimbabwean economy was
nowhere near in a catastrophic state as it is now - [HON KASUKUWERE: It was
a white man's economy]- let me respond to Hon Kasukuwere: it may well have
been a white man's economy but despite that most people of all races then
had basic access to food, water and drugs, which they do not have now. Mr.
Speaker, we are dealing with old historic facts. Irrespective of who is
responsible for the imposition of the sanctions and what their scope is, the
fact remains tha
t the present targeted sanctions are not as comprehensive as the sanctions
imposed on 1966. This then begs the question: why then has our economy
collapsed almost totally under a more benign regime of sanctions now? The
reason is simple - the targeted sanctions imposed on the ruling elite are
not the cause of our economic woes.
Secondly Mr Speaker the sanctions, such as they are, were first imposed in
2002. However if you look at the pattern of economic decline in this
country, we can see the economic decline did not start in 2002 but started
in 1997. If my hon. friend is prepared to consider the historic facts, he
will see that the Zimbabwean economy started its major decline in 1997. The
first thing that started the collapse, as my Hon. friend Mr Mashakada has
already stated in his speech moving this motion, is that this government
sent Zimbabwean troops, not in Zimbabwe's interests but to protect private
mining interests of the ruling elite, to the Democratic Republic of Congo in
Furthermore, Mr. Speaker, unbudgeted payments were made to war veterans in
1997 which greatly increased the budget deficit and as a result the
Zimbabwean dollar plummeted and lost something like three to four times its
value in November 1997 - on the day commonly known as 'Black Friday'. If
one considers the economic records you will see that there was a further
steady decline from 1997 to 2002, five years before sanctions were ever
Thirdly, Mr Speaker, there is the historical fact that sanctions have not
been imposed on the Zimbabwean people but have been imposed primarily on
particular individuals. There is, of course, the American measure which
prohibits the American government from voting in Zimbabwe's favour in the
IMF and World Bank. That however only applies to the American government.
It does not apply to the European Union. It does not apply to Japan, China,
Canada and many other wealthy countries.
In other words, that provision is limited to one country. In fact it does
not prevent the Zimbabwean government from seeking loans from other
developed countries and it still has the right to seek assistance from many
international financial institutions. The current sanctions regime does not
prevent the government of Zimbabwe from seeking loans from any country in
the world. The fact that we have battled to get support is not because of
American sanctions but because our economic fundamentals are all skewed. In
this regard Mr. Speaker Sir, we need to turn to what our neighbours have
said and in particular we need to consider what none other than President
Mbeki said in his weekly letter to the ANC just ten days ago. He said two
things in particular: first was that the Zimbabwe government needs to
address the overvaluation of the Zimbabwe dollar. The second thing was that
the Zimbabwe government needs to end the quasi-fiscal expenditure which has
been hallmark of this go
vernment's economic policy over the last few years.
Mr. Speaker if we consider these two aspects of economic policy, we will see
these comments go to the very core of what this government stands for. The
reason that we have our exchange rate pegged at ridiculous levels - the
reason the Zimbabwe dollar is still pegged at $250 to 1 against the US
dollar - is because this benefits the ruling elite which is still able to
buy foreign currency at these ridiculous rates.
Mr. Speaker, the regulations which require the productive sector to sell a
certain portion of its foreign exchange earnings to government at
ridiculously low exchange rates are part of this ruinous policy. The
tragedy is that much of the foreign currency that is acquired is not used
for the benefit of all the people of Zimbabwe. The tragedy - if the truth
is told -is that it is political elite in the country which benefits from
this policy. The preferential access to foreign exchange at staggeringly
low rates of exchange, that bear no relation to the real value of the
Zimbabwe dollar, is done at the expense of the Zimbabwean people.
Mr. Speaker, until what President Mbeki said is listened to, until the
exchange rate policy is looked at, until we bring to an end the preferential
access that certain people have to foreign currency, until we bring to an
end the unbudgeted quasi fiscal spending, until we end the irresponsible
printing of money, our national economic woes will continue. We need to
take into account very seriously what President Mbeki said to the ANC
Mr. Speaker, let me turn briefly to the issue of price control and the
Indigenisation Bill. I will not dwell too long on these issues. Let me
just say these price control measures were introduced as a knee jerk
reaction to the rapid hyper inflation experienced in late June. The tragedy
regarding the imposition of the price controls is that just the opposite of
what was intended will now happen. Far from this quelling inflation it has
already fuelled inflation. There has been some short term benefit to some
people but time will show that that is only a small short term benefit
because all that has happened is that products that were in the formal
sector, and therefore subject to some form of control, are now being sold by
the informal sector, the black market sector, and prices are rocketing.
Until, Mr. Speaker, we get back to a situation where the market determines
the price of products this price control policy will not be in the interests
of impoverished members of our society. We must stop kidding ourselves.
This new policy will only increase inflation.
Let me turn briefly to the Indigenisation Bill in response to Hon.
Kasukuwere. There is no doubt that because of the historical inequalities
and injustices there is a need for balance and fairness in our society. The
problem is that this policy as it is being devised will, firstly in my view,
not benefit the generality of the people but will only benefit certain
people in the ruling elite, which should not be the intention. Until the
whole process is opened up, until we can see that assets are going to be
transferred to the vast majority of our population, it will not be in the
interests of Zimbabwe. We have the land reform programme as a precedent in
this regard. We can all see the evidence regarding what has happened in that
regard. Mr. Speaker, it is now clear to all objective observers that the
main beneficiaries of the land reform programme are those in the ruling
elite. The biggest benefit has gone to those political and military leaders
who have cherry picked the
most productive farms most of which have now been rendered derelict. That
is not in the best interests of Zimbabwe. I have no doubt that the same will
happen to our businesses if the Indigenisation Bill goes through in its
Let me end by talking about the future of our country. (Inaudible
interjections) Mr. Speaker, I have the right to speak about Zimbabwe as
much as anyone here. I was born in Gweru in 1957 and my roots in Africa go
back to 1820 - so I think I have the right to speak about my country and I
will. We need to ask ourselves the question - why is it that Singapore
which had a smaller economy than ours in 1958 is now one of the strongest
economies in the world and yet our nation during the last forty years has
been reduced to the basket status it is now?
Long before sanctions or the MDC became part of the body politic of this
country our country lagged behind Singapore. It started lagging behind
Singapore in the 1960s when the racist and unjust policies of the white
minority government were imposed. In the 27 years of majority rule nothing
has changed regarding the deterioration of our economy save that the economy
has rapidly worsened. After the last seven years of social, moral and
economic collapse we need a national healing. We should not be shouting at
each other when hundreds, if not thousands, of people are dying each and
every day throughout the country.
We need to recognise where the roots of our national malaise lie. We need to
recognise that they go way beyond 1980; they go way beyond ZANU PF's rule.
The roots of our problems go back to the time when the brief flicker of
democracy that we saw in the 1950s was snuffed out. We need to go back to
that time to see whether we can revive that tiny flame of democracy that had
started to shine in the 1950s. We all need to transform our nation,
collectively, into one we can all be proud of.
We need the following, Mr. Speaker, firstly we need to rekindle democracy in
our nation. We need to take concrete steps to root democracy. Integral to
that is a new constitution; but it must be a new constitution that we all
agree to; a constitution which is owned, which is embraced by all
Zimbabweans. It cannot just be a document we agree to in this House; any new
constitution must be embraced by all our people. We need to enter into a
new contract with each other and the Zimbabwean people (Inaudible
interjections) - Mr. Speaker it is a great shame that some of our colleagues
cannot listen to this because we are in an unprecedented national crisis -
but that is the first point - we need to root democracy in our nation
Secondly, Mr Speaker, we need to remove many of the controls over our
society and our economy. I would like in this regard to return to Hon
Kasukuwere's speech and his example of China. Hon. Kasukuwere spoke about
China as a great example. I think we have many lessons to learn from China.
There are 4 or 5 provinces of China which are responsible for the bulk of
economic growth enjoyed there at present. These provinces have some of the
most liberal economic environments one can find anywhere in the world.
There is minimal legislation which controls the activities of the private
sector - indeed I stress there is less bureaucracy, less red tape for
businesses in these provinces than there is in any other country in the
world. That is a fact.
In other words, the Chinese Government has embraced the private sector and
this has promoted growth in its economy with spectacular results. What we
are doing now in Zimbabwe through price controls and through certain
provisions in the Indigenisation Bill is just the opposite.
Price controls inhibit the private sector's ability to grow. If we would but
embrace the free market that itself controls prices through healthy
competition. If we discourage foreign investment in this country, as the
Indigenisation Bill will do, we will only guarantee one thing - that much
needed foreign exchange will become even scarcer. Without substantial
inflows of foreign exchange into our country, we cannot not grow our
economy, as we need to.
Mr. Speaker, I guarantee that in China you will find that there are no such
prohibitions against foreign investors controlling their businesses. There
is no 51% control clause as there is in the Indigenisation Bill in any
Chinese law and that is why companies like Nike and Chevron and thousands of
multi-national companies have invested in China and have assisted China to
achieve the spectacular growth it has.
In conclusion, may I repeat that our nation is in crisis - the resolution of
that crisis should transcend partisanship. We need to put our hands
together in this House to devise policies than can stabilise our country. We
need to devise policies which will bring back our brains. Mr. Speaker, it
is unacceptable that we have exported our best brains. Our young people -
so supremely talented - are not in this country any longer. We need to
devise policies to bring them back, to bring skills back so that we can
stabilise and then revitalise our country. We should all work for an
economic turnaround and deal with the harsh realities facing our nation
rather than engage in meaningless and destructive rhetoric.
Mr. Speaker, if we move away from rhetoric to constructive action I have no
doubt that this nation can still be the jewel of Africa - [DR. MUGUTI: It is
the jewel of Africa]-No, at present it is not but it has the potential to
become that - but that can only happen when all of us move away from all
this empty rhetoric to consider the harsh circumstances that the poor are
facing in our nation today. Our futile posturing must stop immediately. We
must, without delay, devise practical solutions to address this economic and
13th Sep 2007 10:22 GMT
By a Correspondent
HARARE -The Zimbabwe Broadcasting Holdings (ZBH) has increased radio and
television license fees, which will result in rural listeners paying $50 000
and urban listeners $200 000 per year.
According to Statutory Instrument 169 of 2007 Broadcasting (Listener's
Licenses) (Fees) Notice 2007 published in the Government Gazette of 7
September 2007, owners of both home radio and television sets are now
required to pay a combined fee of $600 000.The new license fee for car
radios is $1 million, up from $550.
The license fee for company televisions has been set at $10 million per
annum. In addition, companies will pay $3 million per year for office radios
and $5 million for their car radios.
Prior to the latest increment, home radio and television listener's license
statutory lnstrument 13A/2007 pegged the fees at $20 and $650 respectively.
MISA-Zimbabwe hopes that these recent developments will enable Zimbabweans
get value for their money. Currently, the state broadcaster is a government
mouthpiece used to churn out propagandistic material. Ordinary Zimbabweans
are made to endue this skewed broadcasting stance; thus, this leads one to
question whether these fee hikes are justified.
It is depressing to note that, the same license fee payers are not accorded
an opportunity to be heard and seen on television or radio. This is
exacerbated by the fact that there is no alternative media as a result of
ZBH's monopoly.MISA-Zimbabwe believes that there should be equal access to
the media regardless of one's political affiliation. This is more so in
light of ZBH's claims of being a public broadcaster.
The Zanu (PF) government has hired intelligence operatives from Israel who
are deployed at strategic points such as airports, government offices as
well as banks specifically for the purpose of spying as the regime becomes
Information obtained in the past week shows that the Israeli spies were
brought in to use their expertise in snooping on opposition activities as
well as well monitor economic activities in the light of fears by the regime
that Western countries were on an agenda to destroy the economy.
This paper has established that the spies are controlling strategic points
and departments at the Harare International Airport, and also monitoring
foreign currency transactions at the RBZ and across the banking sector
through state-of-the-art spying equipment and strategies.
"They are more or less supervising the intelligence operations and working
with the Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO), the police and the army,"
a government official revealed on condition of anonymity.
Sources within President Robert Mugabe's circles say the aged leader fears
an invasion or a possible foreign-inspired ouster of his regime through a
State security minister Didymus Mutasa denied the existence of the spies
from Israel saying "I don't know what you are talking about".
Zimbabwe is one of only a few African countries having diplomatic ties with
Israel - a state that is largely spurned in Africa because of the
Palestinian question. The full extent of trade between two countries is
difficult to establish but Israel has supplied the Mugabe regime with riot
control water cannons and other armaments. - Itai Dzamara
Financial Gazette (Harare)
12 September 2007
Posted to the web 13 September 2007
Zimbabwe's poor human rights record, made worse by a marked decline in
economic freedom, has once again shut out the troubled country from
accessing development aid from the United States under the Millennium
Challenge Account (MCA).
The MCA, which is administered by the Millenium Challenge Corporation (MCC),
a US government agency collaborating with some of the poorest countries in
the world, aims to reduce global poverty through sustainable economic
Established in 2004, the MCC is based on the principle that aid is most
effective when it reinforces good governance, economic freedom and
investment in people. Out of 40 countries that the MCC is working with, 19
are based in Africa and these include Mozambique, Lesotho, Zambia, Tanzania,
Kenya and Ghana.
The value of the grants signed by the African countries total over US$3
But Zimbabwe, which is grappling with its worst economic and political
crisis since independence in 1980, has been excluded from accessing the
grants after scoring poor marks on independent and transparency policy
indicators such as ruling justly, investing in people and economic freedom.
In its recent assessment of Zimbabwe, the MCC ruled that the country had
done little to improve the rule of law and to control corruption. The MCC
also ruled that the government had limited citizens' freedoms by
intensifying its clampdown on civil liberty.
Zimbabwe's world beating inflation of over 7 600 percent also ruled it out
of accessing grants under the MCA, as did its skewed fiscal and trade
Besides failing to access aid under the MCA, Zimbabwe has over the past
eight years been excluded from receiving aid from the International Monetary
Fund and other developmental organisations, which ditched the country over
President Robert Mugabe's controversial farm seizures as well as his
government's human rights record.
The country is currently battling acute foreign currency shortages, which
have spawned shortages of critical medicinal drugs and food and resulted in
serious power outages.
13th Sep 2007 10:09 GMT
By Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition
UZ students commence lessons as authorities deny them access to halls of
The University of Zimbabwe opened doors for the second semester on the 10th
of September 2007. Students are still being barred
from returning to their residence halls. The country's largest institute of
higher learning evicted more than 5 000 students from the campus citing
arguments that the students are instigating acts of violence and unrest at
the ailing institute of higher
The UZ's position violates the high court order issued by Judge Ben
Hlathwatyo on 13 July 2007 who ruled that the plaintiff must
return to campus residence without cost.
However, on 15 July 2007 his communiqué published in the Sunday Mail, 15
July 2007, Dr Levy Nyagura, the University of Zimbabwe Vice Chancellor
acknowledged receipt of the high court order but rather preferred to be an
oasis of defiance. His declaration of intent was that he will not comply
with the order because he fears for his life.
The justification must be dismissed by the contempt it deserves. Students do
not hold any form of weaponry or arsenal that can
justify Nyagura's justification.
The institution's callous position has left the majority of students coming
from outside Harare vulnerable as they are forced to
secure expensive accommodation in the surrounding suburbs. More so, due to
the housing crisis in the country in the aftermath of
Operation Murambatsvina, it is a daunting task for one to find shelter.
Students have become a causality of the state's policy compulsion and
governance crisis that has led to the deep rooted crisis
ever to confront the country. Education has been reduced to a privilege
rather than a right for every person as enshrined in the
country's constitution and the regional laws stipulated in the African
Charter on Human and People's rights.
We therefore call upon the University of Zimbabwe Vice Chancellor to honour
the court order issued on the 13th of July 2007. The
students have been legally given the green light by the high court to return
to their halls of residence.
The police must intervene by enforcing the law impartially. The police must
refrain from being used as pawns by the ruling party
and return to their professional oath of serving the country with loyalty,
objectivity and cherishing the ideas of equity,
transparency and accountability. Students are being traumatized, those
holding positions of authority are wantonly defying court
orders but the police is yet to lift a finger.
It is however disturbing that when the students register their grievances
through peaceful and lawful avenues; the police are
quick to activate their arsenal to thwart such genuine demands. The police
must redeem their image and profession. Nyagura must
go on a soul searching process. Students are the future leaders of this
country; they have been traumatized for too long. They
deserve peace and a proper learning environment if the country is to
Phone: +263 4 788 135
"OUR VISION IS TO SEE A DEMOCRATIC ZIMBABWE"
By Tichaona Sibanda
13 September 2007
Rose Phekani, one of the five Zimbabwean women who went on hunger strike on
Monday at Yarl's Wood Immigration Removal Centre in Bedford, was deported to
Malawi on Wednesday evening. She is now in danger of facing a lengthy jail
term in a Lilongwe prison for fraudulently acquiring a Malawian passport.
Newsreel learnt on Thursday that authorities in Malawi have vowed to
crackdown on all Zimbabweans who get deported to their country for using
their passports. Its reported authorities there are still furious that all
Malawians are now being requested to apply for UK visas, because of the
large number of Zimbabweans who were travelling on fake Malawi passports.
Phekani, together with Maud Lennard Kadango, Faina Manuel Pondesi, Zandile
Sibanda, and Pauline Chitekeshe are failed asylum seekers from Zimbabwe who
used Malawian passports to travel to the UK where they unsuccessfully tried
to apply for refugee status.
The five sent a petition to the Home Office on Sunday asking to be released
from the holding centre, complaining that they did not receive adequate
legal representation during the fast track process under which their
applications for political asylum were considered.
Speaking to Newsreel on Thursday, Kadango said they were all saddened by
Rose's deportation. She had to be handcuffed and physical forced onto the
plane after she tried to take off her clothes in protest at being deported.
She was accompanied on the flight 'home' via Nairobi, Kenya by two officials
from the immigration department.
The remaining four are still on hunger strike although there are concerns
about Pondesi who is reported to be very weak. The Home Office has been
deporting failed asylum seekers from Zimbabwe who travelled to the UK using
either Malawian or South African passports. Those who claimed refugee status
using Zimbabwe passports and were denied are not being deported.
SW Radio Africa Zimbabwe news
Bulawayo, 13th September 2007
Last night I, and thousands of other Zimbabweans had a chance to briefly put
the hardships of living in this broken country behind us for a few hours as
we watched a young, plucky Zimbabwean cricket team beat the worlds best in
the form of Australia in the 20/20 competition in South Africa. It was
thrilling stuff with the man of the match winning the game with a four on
the second last ball.
The sight of those kids pouring onto the field and hugging each other and
then taking a lap of honor was something as was the sight of the entire team
praying on the side of the field when their immediate jubilation had been
spent. I have said it before and it is worth repeating we are probably the
most Christian of countries in the continent.
It reminded me of a cocktail party in London put on by a firm of commodity
brokers in about 1977. We had just won the CC Cup the top accolade for
cricket nations in the second league. I was a guest at the function as Chief
Economist of the Agricultural Marketing Authority and was talking to some
brokers about maize sales when we were joined by an elderly man one of the
senior partners who, when he heard where I was from, turned to me and said
³there is nothing wrong with a country that can play first class cricket!²
In one sense he is right if we can produce 20 kids who can play the best
and win and then hug each other and pray together, we must be doing
something right. If only we could do everything else the same way, but we do
not and we continue to violate all the rules for a sound functioning
democratic and prosperous nation. There is nothing wrong with Zimbabwe, we
have the people, the resources and the knowledge to be a winning nation but
in an era where world commodity prices are at record levels and Africa has
started to grow rapidly in economic terms (the continent will average 6 per
cent growth this year) Zimbabwe remains a shrinking, impoverished and
disabled country sliding into the category of a failed State.
The reason we just do not play by the rules.
The State continues to recklessly print money trillions of dollars every
month and our currency continues its collapse. Today the local currency is
trading in some quarters at 350 000 to 1 near the levels reached in June
when the State tried to buy foreign exchange in the open market for
essential needs. I suspect the same is happening today.
We have just devalued our official exchange rate from an effective 16 000
to 1 for the USD to 30 000 to 1. That is still only 10 per cent of the value
of the US dollar in the open market. Interest rates are all over the place
you cannot get an interest bearing deposit rate for money on short term
deposit and long term money earns about 350 per cent per annum in an
environment where inflation is now probably about 25 000 per cent. Under
these extreme conditions savings and capital just evaporate.
The root causes of our collapse are political the oligarchy who came to
power in 1980 as a result of the liberation war and negotiations facilitated
by the big nations of the world, hangs onto power and defends their hold on
power at the expense of every value that they sought in decades of struggle
against white minority government. They have failed, but refuse to leave the
They exploit our inherent character as a Nation our law abiding people and
their open and peaceful character and abuse these worthy traits to secure
their positions and privilege. They abuse the people who have built up the
country, robbing them of their assets and destroying their enterprise and
savings. They behave like feudal demagogues who think we are all peasants
and serfs, here for their pleasure and nothing more.
Our greatest enemy is the idea that we can do nothing about this situation.
Nothing could be further from the truth. Listening to the commentators last
night, time and time again they said, ³Can Zimbabwe really believe they can
beat the Australians?² That was the key to the match was it possible that
they might imagine that the invincible might be taken down and defeated? The
answer was yes; it is possible.
We in the MDC have spent the last 8 years working on a democratic transition
to a new government and society. We have been denied that victory three
times by a regime that has simply moved the goal posts; arbitrarily changed
the rules and bribed the umpires and even when that was not enough, they
have arranged to beat up the opposite team and intimidate their players.
When that was not enough they even interfered with the scoreboard.
Now we have negotiated with the association that governs this sort of game
in Africa and have an agreement on the rules to be applied to the next
round. Not ideal, but at least they give us a chance to prevail this time
round. The question is, do we believe enough in ourselves to think it can
happen and to go out onto the field still the minnows in this game, but
ready to win and take the prize back home?
Our greatest threat is that we have no vision of what the future might be
like. We saw a little of that last night. The Bible says that a Nation
without a vision dies. That¹s where we are and we need to break out of the
slough of despond and get back up and say we can do this. We can become a
winning nation again but it¹s all up to us.