|The ZIMBABWE Situation||Our
thoughts and prayers are with Zimbabwe |
- may peace, truth and justice prevail.
Talk of new
leadership a smokescreen in upcoming poll
Around of Zanu-PF district and
provincial elections at the end of the month
will give Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe's potential successor an
opportunity to consolidate his position.
Zanu-PF will be holding district and provincial elections from the end of
this month to revamp its structures ahead of its final conference in
December, and before next year's crucial congress where a new leader is
likely to emerge.
Congress is held once after every five years
and elects a new leadership,
while conference is an annual non-voting gathering. Zanu-PF's last congress
was in December 1999.
Parliamentary Speaker Emerson Mnangagwa, Special Affairs
Zanu-PF National Chairman John Nkomo, Defence Minister Sydney Sekeramayi and
former Finance Minister Simba Makoni are known to covet Mugabe's job.
However, Mugabe is widely believed to prefer Mnangagwa
as his successor. As
the party's administration chief, Mnangagwa has been presented with an
opportunity to influence the election of supporters who will back him in the
leadership race at next year's congress.
Zanu-PF's head of international affairs Didymus Mutasa said
elections had nothing to do with positioning anyone in the succession line.
He said Zanu-PF's constitution states that all
district and provincial
structures be dissolved and elections for new office bearers be held one
year before congress.
"The provinces nominate
their preferred candidates, and delegates to the
congress will then vote for a person of their choice.
"The one elected president is responsible
for appointing members of the
politburo in accordance with the party's constitution," he said.
Political commentator and head of the
National Constitutional Assembly,
Lovemore Madhuku, said while speculation was high that Mugabe would stand
down in December, the revamping of party structures indicate otherwise.
"Although Mugabe has called for open
talks on succession, there will be no
such discussion at the December conference," said Madhuku.
The constitution requires an election to
be held within 90 days if the
president leaves office. Madhuku said Mugabe did not want his successor to
face an early election but to complete his term.
"Mugabe's succession plan is for Zanu-PF to win an outright two
majority in the 2005 parliamentary elections.
we can expect Mugabe to go is after the 2005 elections. These
elections are meant to revamp the party and point the way to a chosen
successor," he said.
He said people must not read too much into the elections as
choose his successor.
Madhuku said the decision to
hold elections now was a snub to the resumption
of inter-party dialogue.
He said Zanu-PF had realised that the MDC was weak and
opted to consolidate
its power by restructuring.
Head of the
Southern African Institute for Democracy and Good governance,
William Nhara, said the elections were not linked to succession in any way.
"Succession is discussed at politburo level, so these elections
have a major bearing," said Nhara.
He said Zanu-PF knew
that it was headed for a decisive battle and needed to
put capable people in the right positions.
Zimbabwe's interest rates nearing 100%
HARARE - Nominal interest rates in Zimbabwe this week sharply shot up to
close to 100 percent but they remained negative in real terms as they are
still less than a quarter of the rate of inflation.
Banks announced adjustments in minimum lending rates with the highest figure
being 98 percent.
The latest figures show that interest rates have almost trebled in nine
months from about 35 percent at the start of the year.
But economists say the new rates are "steeply negative" as they still fall
far short of the rate of inflation which soared to 426.6 percent last month.
Independent economist John Robertson said ideally the lending rate should be
around 400 percent, but the country's economy is characterised by too many
Last week the government tried to force interest rates lower with the
central bank exerting pressure on commercial banks to reduce their lending
rates to around 75 percent.
"It is further evidence that the government has no qualms about imposing
more distortions on distortions," Robertson said.
James Jowah, economist with the Zimbabwe National Chamber of Commerce (ZNCC)
said as long as real interest rates remain negative people will not save but
spend on assets that appreciate in value "because the money loses value
Jowah said to correct the distorted interest rates the country needed to
reduce inflation, but that was not possible unless the foreign exchange rate
"What needs to be done is to stabilise the foreign exchange rate through
support from outside for the balance of payments," said Jowah.
For the country to get foreign support for the balance of payments, Jowah
said the government would need to review its attitude and resume relations
with international financial institutions.
"Government's attitude has to change so that the International Monetary Fund
(IMF) and World Bank can come back," he said.
The two multilateral lenders froze aid to Zimbabwe in the late 1990s due to
disagreements with the government over certain economic policies.
Zimbabwe has faced a severe shortage of foreign exchange reserves in recent
years leading to the proliferation of a parallel market as the government
insists on fixing the foreign exchange rate.
While the official exchange rate of the US dollar is one to 824 Zimbabwe
dollars, the greenback can fetch up to 6,000 Zimbabwe dollars on the
Economic analyst Robertson said the interest rates are a "reflection of
instability" of the economy.
"It is extremely unstable because of the perpetuation of distorted
policies," he said.
The country, which has been hit by famine since last year, has also
experienced shortages of most basic goods and services including a scarcity
of local bank notes.
Economists meantime forecast a further rise in inflation to around 1,000
percent against government's predictions of a 96-percent annual inflation
rate by year end.
If I was to ask someone on the street what he/she regarded as the most
fundamental freedoms that we should have and defend, we could all agree on
the following: -
1. Freedom of association.
2. Freedom of speech.
Zimbabwe has both freedoms enshrined in its Constitution; it is a signatory
to the United Nations declaration on Human Rights and has over the past 23
years signed numerous other agreements, which seek to entrench basic human,
political and legal rights. They all stand null and void in Zimbabwe today.
We have no freedom of association - if I choose to join the MDC I risk
losing my job,
any contracts I might have with government and any chance of access to any
of the resources controlled by the State. If we as an opposition Party want
to hold a meeting we must seek state approval for such gatherings and this
is not given as a routine, every application we submit runs the risk that it
will be denied and the majority are denied. I have sat in secret gatherings
of peasant farmers and their families, acutely aware at any moment that we
may be raided and have to flee or face arrest. It is not a pleasant
We have no freedom of speech. Many would argue that we can say what we want
to in public, but everything we do is watched and recorded. Our telephones
are taped (without our permission and without legal authority) on a regular
basis. We are constantly prosecuted under laws which conflict with our
Constitution but which the Courts refuse to either have examined in open
Court or challenged in any other way.
The decision on Friday by the Supreme Court (in the form of our Chief
Justice) to declare that the only independent daily newspaper was operating
"illegally" when he had just ruled that they were obliged to register under
a new set of laws that are blatantly in conflict with the Constitution is
simply legal nonsense. It would not stand scrutiny anywhere else in the
world where there is a half-decent legal system and judiciary.
But the State then acted immediately and closed down the only local means
whereby the opposition can communicate with the people on a daily basis. The
Daily news has been bombed twice and its editors and senior staff harassed
on many occasions since it was launched. Despite all the obstacles it was
selling more copies throughout the country than the state-controlled
dailies. This was despite the fact that its cover price was twice that of
the loss making state newspapers.
This represents the most recent and most blatant attack on our basic
freedoms by a rogue regime. I hope it is enough to cause outrage in the rest
of the continent and in the international community. These are not the acts
of a regime that is sincere about seeking solutions to our current economic
and political crisis.
Bulawayo, 14th September 2003.
EU Denies Harming Zimbabwean Population
Agencia de Informacao de
September 14, 2003
Posted to the web September 14, 2003
The European Union has denied that its targeted sanctions against Zimbabwean
leaders can possibly have caused suffering to the Zimbabwean population.
The claim that EU sanctions worsen the Zimbabwean economic crisis and damage
the Zimbabwean people comes from Zimbabwean officials and has been echoed in
some of the Zimbabwean press.
An EU statement received by AIM roundly denies such
allegations and points
out that the EU is not imposing any economic or commercial sanctions against
"The measures adopted by the EU", it says, "as a result of the collapse of
the rule of law, and the violations of human rights, are the freezing of
assets of the main members of the government and of other high ranking
officials, a ban on them traveling to EU member states and an arms embargo".
"None of these measures", the statement points out, "can affect or cause
difficulties to the population of Zimbabwe".
Certain financial and development cooperation programmes with the Zimbabwean
government have been suspended, the statement adds, "mainly because the
government has not respected the provisions of the pertinent bilateral
agreements, and because of the political and economic environment which is
not conducive to development cooperation with government structures".
Humanitarian aid continues to flow from Europe to Zimbabwe, and the EU
statement puts this aid at 300 million euros (about 330 million US dollars)
over the past two years. "Apart from this", it adds, "the EU and its
member-states are financing programmes of direct support to the population
of Zimbabwe in poverty reduction, education, health, infrastructures, human
rights and democratisation".
The statement concludes with the claim that the EU remains committed to
holding "a wide ranging dialogue with the government of Zimbabwe on the
current difficulties facing the country, in order to restore political,
social and economic stability".
PM tough on Mugabe ban
By Steve Lewis
September 15, 2003
AUSTRALIA has headed off a push by African nations to allow dictatorial
Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe to attend this year's meeting of
Commonwealth leaders in Nigeria.
In a diplomatic coup, John Howard has received assurances that Nigerian
President Olusegun Obasanjo will ban Mr Mugabe from attending December's
Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting.
The move to bar Mr Mugabe from the CHOGM talks in the Nigerian capital of
Abuja is likely to cause unrest among some of the 54 Commonwealth countries.
African countries, led by South African President Thabo Mbeki, have been
urging the Commonwealth to relax the sanctions that have sidelined Zimbabwe
for the past 18 months.
But the Prime Minister is determined the Commonwealth will maintain a hard
line on Zimbabwe, amid reports that human rights and economic conditions
there are deteriorating.
Zimbabwe officials force 300 farmers off their land
September 14, 2003, 06:09 PM
Over 300 white commercial farmers that had been spared evictions by the
government are being forced off their properties by individual government
officials as the planting season begins.
The Commercial farmers unions says the new wave of invasions and evictions
will plunge the farming sector into uncertainty.
On the other hand the government claims the land reform programme is not
Farmers claim equipment to the value of $23 billion has been seized, looted
or vandalised. Insurance companies are not paying out for it and as a result
production is likely to drop by 60%.
The Commercial Farmer's union expressed it's concern to the land review
commission of the remaining white farmers.
'Mugabe is making a fool of Mbeki'
Zimbabwean president Robert Mugabe was making a fool of South African
President Thabo Mbeki and other African leaders to whom he had promised he
would revoke laws violating human rights, the Democratic Alliance said on
Spokesman Graham McIntosh said in a statement that Mugabe's regime has
applied the controversial laws with renewed vigour, instead of revoking
"It has closed down the independent Daily News after the latter lost its
High Court challenge of the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy
Act (AIPPA), under which President Mugabe is seeking to register
newspapers," McIntosh said.
"This legislation is iniquitous, inquisitorial and an invasion of privacy.
"To register, Associated Newspapers of Zimbabwe (ANZ) is required to
disclose its private business operations and financial details. ANZ is also
required to submit the curriculum vitae of all its managers and directors,
and to disclose the political affiliations of all its directors.
"It is the kind of law that characterises fascist and communist regimes."
McIntosh said it was high time for the African Union to step in to prevent
it to become just a "toothless talk shop for liberation struggle
"As the former chairperson of the AU and (Mugabe's) most powerful neighbour,
President Mbeki has a key role to play in this regard."
Earlier the New National Party also condemned the closing of the Daily News.
NNP media director Carol Johnson said in a statement that freedom of speech
was a fundamental right.
"Press freedom and freedom of speech are fundamental rights; all the more
so in Zimbabwe where newspapers are supposed to be registered with the media
commission, which is government-run," she said in a statement.
She said the NNP believed that the forced closure of the newspaper was a
contravention of many international instruments which guarenteed freedom of
speech and of the press.
"It contravenes the African Union's founding Act, it flies in the face of
Nepad (the New Partnership for African Development) and makes a mockery of
the African Charter of Human Rights."
The NNP called on the signatories of these international instruments to urge
for the Daily News' reopening.
Sex for groceries in Zimbabwe
From correspondents in Harare
UNDER-AGE teenagers were prostituting themselves for groceries in Zimbabwe's
second city, Bulawayo, amid food shortages and high prices, the Standard
newspaper reported today.
It said desperate girls were offering sex in exchange for "groceries and
other basic commodities that are in short supply".
Fifteen-year old Zandile Nyoni told the paper: "One of my regulars is a
company executive, and he even buys groceries for me.". Zimbabwe is in the
throes of severe economic difficulties, with cash and food shortages, and
inflation running at more than 426 per cent, making it difficult for most of
the population to survive.
There were fears the young women were making themselves vulnerable to
HIV/AIDS infection, which affects at least one in four people here.
As many as 4000 people die from AIDS-related illnesses a week, according to
Zimbabwe treason trial postponed to October 28
HARARE, Sept. 14 — The resumption of the treason trial of Zimbabwe
opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai, accused of plotting to assassinate
President Robert Mugabe, has been postponed from Monday to October 28, his
lawyer said on Sunday.
Tsvangirai, who heads the opposition Movement for Democratic Change
(MDC), has been on trial since February with two senior party officials. If
convicted, the 51-year-old former trade unionist could face the death
Treason charges against his colleagues were dropped by the High Court
But the court rejected the defence's application to also dismiss
charges against Tsvangirai, saying the prosecution had put up a strong prima
facie case. The court has been on a summer break of more than a month.
The case had been scheduled to start on Monday, September 15 but on
Sunday, one of Tsvangirai's defence lawyers, Eric Matinenga, told Reuters it
had been postponed due to ''administrative issues'' and would only resume on
Tsvangirai, who has emerged in the last three years as the greatest
threat to Mugabe's rule, says the assassination charges are an attempt to
crush his political challenge.
He faces an additional treason charge after he tried to organise
street protests against Mugabe in June which the government said constituted
an attempted coup d'etat. He is free on bail on both charges but cannot
The MDC leader has mounted a court challenge against Mugabe's victory
in last year's elections, which the opposition and Western governments
condemned as fraudulent.
Mugabe, sole ruler since the former Rhodesia gained independence from
Britain in 1980, maintains he won fairly and accuses Western powers of
forcing the economy into its worst crisis since independence as part of a
plan to impose Tsvangirai as leader.
Mandela, Mbeki and the future
Allister Sparks's forensic study of South Africa today, Beyond the Miracle,
is compelling, says Anthony Sampson
Sunday September 14, 2003
Beyond the Miracle
by Allister Sparks
Profile Books £14.99, pp288
'You poor fellow, after all you have done, it must be terrible to see what
is happening to your country.' Allister Sparks recalls hearing that often
when he travelled abroad. And he quotes his fellow South African writer,
Nadine Gordimer, who kept being asked in Europe and America: 'What is
happening to whites?' 'They identify only with whites whether consciously or
unconsciously,' Gordimer protested. 'Because I am white, they assume I do
Sparks is a doyen of South African journalism, the author of one of the best
histories of his country and a former correspondent for The Observer. But he
does not automatically identify with whites: he worked closely with black
writers and broadcasters before and after the Mandela government came to
power in 1994, and he is well-placed to assess what has happened to his
country since, among all the races.
He has some unease about calling his book Beyond the Miracle, for the change
that has taken place in South Africa, he says, was not really a miracle. It
'was brought about not by some Damascus Road revelation but by ordinary,
fallible human beings who ultimately recognised that they had been cast
together by the forces of history'.
But having witnessed the transformation at close quarters, and having lived
in the midst of it, he has no doubts about the extent of the achievement. As
he writes: 'An equivalent settlement in the Middle East would see Israel,
the West Bank and the Gaza Strip consolidated into a single secular state
which, before long, would be ruled over by a Palestinian majority government
and in which Jews could live in peace and security as a minority group.'
He provides vivid accounts of different aspects of the reconciliation
process, most notably the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which was
able to put the truth of past atrocities on record 'to a degree unequalled
by any post-conflict inquiry'. And he describes how South Africa has
survived the extraordinary economic problems, including the dwindling of
gold production on which much of its wealth was based.
He is fiercely critical of sectarian white politicians and businessmen who
refuse to adjust to a multiracial country, including Tony Leon, the leader
of the supposedly liberal Democratic Party who launched a campaign 'aimed
blatantly at winning over the white conservative vote'. He points out how
few white businessmen have an understanding of politics: 'The South African
economy has always been dominated by the English-speaking white community,
who have been on the political sidelines for a hundred years.'
He recognises that many of the Ministers in Mandela's government failed to
grapple with their departments, and he points to the danger of black racists
who can use the charge of racism to demolish white competitors for jobs. He
quotes the black political journalist Mondli Makhanya, who describes how the
new elite 'wield blackness like a weapon as they climb the ladder of
He describes candidly the shortcomings of President Mbeki. He analyses his
obdurate denials and fatal delays in facing up to the menace of Aids, and he
argues vigorously with him about his failure to confront President Mugabe in
Zimbabwe. Mbeki tells him that whites are only concerned about Zimbabwe
because some whites are being killed: 'The extraordinary preoccupation with
what is going on in Zimbabwe,' says Mbeki, 'in reality has got to do with
white fears in South Africa.' Sparks agrees that whites are too preoccupied
with their fellow-whites, but he insists that 'what is happening in Zimbabwe
is a major African tragedy in the making'.
What makes this book unusual and important is the wide overview, across the
different racial communities, against a background of the author's
international experience. He does not try to ignore the economic problems of
South Africa, the high unemployment and floods of immigrants, the harsh
industrial competition from other countries, the lack of necessary skills.
South Africa, he recognises, faces a double whammy as a country at the
bottom of the most marginalised continent.
But he has a long historical perspective, a respect for his own countrymen
and their resilience. He has watched his country enduring far more dangerous
predicaments, from which there appeared no way out. 'When you have just
escaped Armageddon,' he concludes, 'that is no time to become a pessimist.'
· Anthony Sampson is the author of Mandela: the Authorised Biography