|The ZIMBABWE Situation||Our
thoughts and prayers are with Zimbabwe |
- may peace, truth and justice prevail.
CANBERRA (Reuters) - Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe
will not be invited
to December's Commonwealth summit because there has been no sign of an end
to rights abuses in his southern African nation, Australia says.
A spokeswoman for Australian Prime Minister John Howard said on Monday he
had received assurances that, with Zimbabwe's suspension from the 54-nation
grouping mainly of former British colonies still in effect, no invitation
would be sent.
"The prime minister had opposed inviting Mugabe so this decision is
welcome," the spokeswoman told Reuters, adding that the assurances had come
from Commonwealth Secretary General Don McKinnon and host President Olusegun
Obasanjo of Nigeria.
"We consider that, in the absence of any progress by Zimbabwe in addressing
the concerns which led to its suspension from the councils of the
Commonwealth, Zimbabwe's suspension should stand," the spokeswoman said.
This year's Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) takes place in
Nigeria's capital, Abuja.
The Commonwealth suspended Zimbabwe for 12 months in March last year
following accusations of intimidation and vote rigging during 2002
presidential elections, and of human rights abuses. In March this year, it
extended the sanctions until the December summit after Australia, South
Africa and Nigeria -- a troika set up to pilot the Commonwealth's Zimbabwe
policy -- reported no progress in addressing the grouping's concerns.
Howard has called 79-year-old Mugabe an "unelected despot" and has been at
the forefront demands for the Commonwealth to act against him.
Political opponents accuse Mugabe, who has been in power since independence
from Britain in 1980, of mismanaging the country and its economy and blame
him for record inflation, unemployment and shortages of food, fuel and
Mugabe dismisses the charges, blaming the crisis on opponents of his policy
of seizing land from the white minority and redistributing it to landless
Any move to bar Mugabe from the summit is likely to get a mixed reception
within the Commonwealth, which represents 1.7 billion people around the
world and was split over Zimbabwe's suspension.
African countries accuse Western nations of ganging up on Mugabe, who
accuses Britain and others of perpetuating "neocolonial attitudes" towards
African countries, led by South African President Thabo Mbeki, have urged
the Commonwealth to relax its sanctions against Zimbabwe.
Mbeki, Obasanjo challenged to help muzzled paper
September 15, 2003
By Basildon Peta
Johannesburg: If the draconian Access to Information and Protection of
Privacy Act had been repealed or drastically revised in Zimbabwe, as
President Thabo Mbeki and Nigeria leader Olusegun Obasanjo had promised
earlier this year, the Daily News would not have been closed.
This was said yesterday by publisher Associated Newspapers of
Zimbabwe. An international outcry has erupted at the forced police closure
of the paper at the weekend.
Mbeki and Obasanjo have been challenged to intervene.
In his letter to Australian Prime Minister John Howard earlier this
year explaining why Zimbabwe should be re-admitted into the Commonwealth,
Obasanjo said Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe had undertaken to repeal or
revise all draconian laws.
Obasanjo said then he and Mbeki were of the view that Mugabe should be
encouraged to implement more reforms by having the Commonwealth sanctions
lifted. The letter was reproduced in the state press in Zimbabwe by Mugabe's
government which saw it as major score against Howard.
Foreign Minister Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma repeatedly said the Zimbabwean
government had undertaken to review draconian security and media laws.
ANZ chief executive Sipepa Nkomo said since Mugabe had not fulfilled
the promises he had been quoted as having given to Mbeki and Obasanjo, it
was crucial that the two influential leaders intervene and help the Daily
News resume publishing while it tries to register.
"Our offices have been sealed, we can't do anything. We can't gain
access to the documents we are required to submit to apply for the
registration as ordered by the court," said Nkomo. "President Mbeki must
intervene and tell this government to stop these abuses."
Daily News editor-in-chief Francis Mdlongwa said the actions by the
Zimbabwe authorities proved they would stop at nothing to close the Daily
Various journalistic organisations from Africa attending a meeting of
the Southern Africa Journalists Association (SAJA) in Cape Town on Saturday
said the Access to Information and Privacy Act, requiring journalists and
media organisations to register with a government-appointed media
commission, had no place in any civilised and democratic society.
called for international pressure on the Zimbabwe
government to repeal the act forthwith.
The Brussels-based International Federation of Journalists (IFJ), the
largest representative body of journalists in the world, said it was
outraged by the actions of the Zimbabwe police in sealing the offices of the
Daily News and restricting entry to the newspaper's premises. It dismissed
the closure of the Daily News as a despicable act.
IFJ general secretary Aidan White said the Zimbabwe government must
stop police harassment of Daily News staff and allow the newspaper to
continue with the process of seeking registration as ordered by the Supreme
There was no way the newspaper could register while staff members were
being denied access to the necessary documents in their offices.
But the IFJ vehemently emphasised that it was against any law that
requires journalists and media organisations to operate under registration
from a government-appointed media commission.
SAJA President Martin Musunka, who is also general secretary of the
Zambia Union of Journalists, said in Cape Town the act was a concerted
effort by the Zimbabwean authorities to silence independent voices in the
"The closure of the Daily News is the inevitable consequence of an
intolerable campaign against independent journalism in Zimbabwe," he said.
"The closure of this newspaper is not a matter of law but a political
South Africa's NNP added its voice to the condemnation yesterday,
saying the closing of Zimbabwe's only independent newspaper was yet another
human rights violation.
NNP media director Carol Johnson said in a statement that freedom of
speech was a fundamental right. - Foreign Service
International Herald Tribune
U.S. actions send a bad signal to Africa
Shehu Sani IHT Monday, September 15, 2003
KADUNA, Nigeria The world has changed since the terrorist attacks of Sept.
11, 2001. But it is a grotesque change, one that has pulled the world
downward. This is especially evident in Africa, where leaders with a
penchant for authoritarianism have learned many lessons.
First lesson: African leaders with reputations for political intolerance
have learned to use the war against terror as a justification for clamping
down on the opposition. Uganda's president, Yoweri Museveni, and Zimbabwe's,
Robert Mugabe, have on several occasion referred to their respective
opposition elements as terrorists. Platitudes used in speeches by President
George W. Bush and Prime Minister Ariel Sharon of Israel have become
favorite phrases of African leaders who say they want to "wipe out" or
"liquidate" or "crush" the "infrastructure of terror."
Second lesson: The post-Sept. 11 political developments in the United States
and Britain that brazenly and blatantly compromise citizens' rights in favor
of national security have received broad acceptance among dictatorial
African rulers. The Patriot Act in the United States and the new immigration
laws in Britain are a blessing for the draconian laws enacted by such
presidents-for-life as Gnassingbé Eyadéma of Togo and Omar Bongo of Gabon.
If security agents in the world's leading democracies are empowered to carry
out searches without notice, invade the people's privacy and behave like
thugs, we are now more or less living in the world of these absolute rulers.
Third lesson: The decision by the United States and Britain to abandon the
United Nations and embark on an unsanctioned war against Iraq is another
negative influence. Nigeria can now disregard the ruling of the
International Court of Justice in The Hague and refuse to hand over control
of the disputed Bakassi Peninsula to Cameroon. Morocco can disregard the
call for a referendum on Western Sahara. And Charles Taylor, now a fugitive
in Nigeria, can refuse to answer charges at the war crimes tribunal in
Fourth lesson: The insistence by the Bush administration on keeping Taliban
and Al Qaeda captives in indefinite detention in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba,
instead of in jails in the United States - and the White House's preference
for military tribunals over regular courts - helps create a free license for
tyranny in Africa. It helps justify Egypt's move to detain human rights
campaigners as threats to national security, and does the same for similar
measures by the governments of Ivory Coast, Cameroon and Burkina Faso.
Fifth lesson: The large defense budgets in the United States and other
countries in the West after Sept. 11 have helped justify the megalomaniac
tendencies of African rulers for using scarce resources to buy more guns,
tanks and other weapons instead of taking measures to tackle Africa's food
There is, however, one positive lesson to be drawn from the aftermath of
Sept. 11. Anti-war demonstrations in the United States and Europe should be
an inspiration for Africans, sending us a message to stand up and challenge
our governments for implementing policies that violate national laws, human
rights and world peace.
The writer is president of the Kaduna-based Civil Rights Congress.
Zimbabwean Tea Company Leaves 34 Months of Unpaid Wages
de Informacao de Mocambique (Maputo)
September 15, 2003
Posted to the web September 15, 2003
Managers of Aberfoyle Tea Mozambique, a Zimbabwean company that in 1996
purchased tea plantations that once belonged to the state-owned company
Emocha, in the central Mozambican district of Milange, have left a debt of
34 months back wages to the company's 37 workers, reports Monday's issue of
the Beira daily "Diario de Mocambique".
The secretary of the company's trade union committee, Raul Dixua, said that
the managers left in 2000, with no word to the workers.
He said that the total debt of the company amounts to about 200 million
meticais (8,350 US dollars), if one adds the 900 million meticais of back
wages to the compensation still owed to 10 other workers made redundant in
the privatisation process.
Dixua said that although the management has left, the workers are still
turning up at the company, to ensure the safety of the assets, including the
offices, the processing equipment, and the large plantation areas.
Since privatisation, the Zimbabwean company did very little to improve
production, that once represented about 75 per cent of the Milange district
The workers are complaining that, without their wages, they are facing
serious difficulties in making ends meet, and that they are "tired of false
promises" from the government to help solve the problem. They are now
threatening to stage street demonstrations in protest.
The Mozambican Agriculture Ministry is seeking new buyers for the company,
so far without success.
When fully operational, the company should produce about 12,000 tons of tea
a year, but now it is paralysed, with shrubs growing among the uncared for
Other tea growing districts in Zambezia province include Gurue, Ile, and
Lugela. Only in Gurue and Ile has the tea industry resumed, with large
investments in plantations and new processing technologies, and employing
about 4,000 workers.
Shut Zimbabwe paper seeks to reopen, editor quits
HARARE, Sept. 15 — The publishers of Zimbabwe's sole privately owned daily
said on Monday its top editor had quit after authorities shut the paper
down, but vowed to fight a closure that Britain branded an attempt to stifle
Police shut down the Daily News last week after the Supreme Court
ruled its publisher, Associated Newspapers of Zimbabwe (ANZ), was operating
illegally because it had not registered with a media commission created by
Robert Mugabe's government.
ANZ lawyer Gugulethu Moyo said the newspaper group had applied for
registration and had asked the police to reopen its offices, but the company
said the paper's top editor had quit.
''I can confirm that (editor-in-chief Francis Mdlongwa) has resigned.
It is not connected to the closure of paper. I had known he wanted to resign
long before this,'' ANZ Chief Executive Sam Sipepa Nkomo told Reuters.
Moyo and Nkomo said the paper would file a challenge with the High
Court if the police failed to approve their registration request.
ANZ had refused to register under a media law passed shortly after
Mugabe's controversial re-election in 2002, which imposes tight controls on
local reporters and a ban on full-time foreign correspondents.
The Independent Journalists' Association of Zimbabwe (IJAZ) said the
Daily News' closure was ''yet another clumsy assault by the government on
free media in Zimbabwe.''
Former colonial power Britain said the closure was the latest in a
series of problems the paper had faced since its inception in 1999,
including the bombing of its printing press to attacks on its vendors.
Foreign Secretary Jack Straw said in a statement Mugabe's ruling
ZANU-PF party could not justify the closure.
''The outside world will see it for what it is -- an attempt to
stifle independent scrutiny and silence democratic voices in Zimbabwe.
''We will continue to support all those in Zimbabwe working for a
return to a democratically-elected and accountable government which respects
human rights and the rule of law.''
The newspaper closure was also criticised by the Commonwealth, the
54-nation grouping of mostly former British colonies which suspended
Zimbabwe from decision-making for a year following the 2002 election.
It said the shutdown could lead to tougher action against Mugabe, and
Australia said Mugabe would not be invited to the grouping's next summit in
Nigeria in December.
More than a dozen journalists have been charged under the media law,
among them several Daily News employees and the Zimbabwe correspondent for
Britain's Guardian newspaper, who was deported earlier this year.
The government says the law is meant to enhance professionalism.
Mugabe accuses foreign powers of backing his opponents and sabotaging
Zimbabwe's now ruined economy to punish him for a controversial land reform
programme, which saw white farmers thrown off their land by bands of Mugabe
Farmer loses cattle to starving 'Green Bombers'
By Valentine Maponga
STARVING Zanu PF youths - also known as 'Green Bombers' - who are
training at the Eagle Training Centre in Burma Valley recently invaded a
farm in the area and slaughtered two beasts for the pot as reports of food
shortages at the national service training centres worsen.
According to farm workers, about 80 hungry youths descended on the
property armed with axes and raided Manyere Farm, owned by commercial farmer
Robert Murray, in Burma Valley.
They frog-marched the farm's foreman to a dip tank where they
slaughtered the two beasts and ordered farm workers to skin the animals
before taking away the meat to feast at the centre.
The youths were arrested but later released after the commercial
farmer withdrew the matter before the courts saying the youths' "superiors"
had assured him they would be disciplined and he would be compensated.
Last week, there was drama again at the Eagle Training Centre when
several female "graduands" fainted from hunger during the centre's first
Senior Zanu PF officials, including national service training head and
Minister of Youth, Gender and Employment Creation, Elliot Manyika - and
Olivia Muchena, the Minister of Science and Technology - could only stare in
disbelief as the female graduands started falling down one after the other,
during the parade.
Food is reported to be scarce at the Zanu PF institutions which
critics say are training rogue elements accused of raping and maiming
Zimbabweans who do not support the governing party.
Zim external debt balloons to US1,6 bn
By Kumbirai Mafunda
ZIMBABWE'S total external debt has ballooned to US$1,6 billion as the
southern African country plunges further into economic catastrophe.
The arrears, which stood at US$1,3 billion in December, surged to
US$1,6 billion by the end of June. Of this, government arrears account for
US$1,07 billion - 67% - while parastatals and private sector arrears
represent US$0,5 billion and US$0,03 billion, 31% and 2% respectively.
Harare has constantly been incurring arrears since 2001 because of
chronic foreign currency shortages. Continued default and failure to honour
debts compelled the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to stop the country's
voting and related rights and threaten outright ejection in December.
The severe shortage of foreign exchange has also resulted in the
government failing to feed millions of its starving citizens. The
importation of essential spare parts and equipment has also been stalled,
curtailing production in major manufacturing plants.
Bureaux de change, which used to facilitate the flow of foreign
currency into the official channels, have been terminated as desperate
authorities try to plug any loopholes blamed for the flight of hard
This has left the government scrounging for forex on the black market,
the only available source of forex in the country, pushing up rates to
While the official exchange rate of the local currency against the
American greenback is fixed at $824, the US dollar is fetching up to $5 000
of the Zimbabwean unit on the parallel market.
Zimbabwe's woes have been worsened by the pullout of multilateral
lenders because of an appalling human rights record, the disregard to
private property rights and the wholesale suspension of the rule of law.
Widespread allegations of electoral malpractices have also further
alienated Western governments that have reacted by slapping President Robert
Mugabe and 72 of his close allies with economic and travel restrictions.
"We are not servicing any of our debts and our external obligations
are rising. This will continue to undermine our standing with multilateral
institutions," said the opposition Movement for Democratic Change's economic
adviser, Eddie Cross.
Analysts said government's failure to honour its debts could be
explained by its inability to generate foreign currency owing to the
decimated agricultural industry in the past four years.
Exports have declined from US$3,6 billion in 1997 to US$1,5 billion in
2002, during the period when militants loyal to Zanu PF were unleashed on
productive farms, dispossessing established farmers of their land and
"The country's BOP position remained under severe pressure in the
first half of the year against a background of continued deterioration in
export performance across all the major sectors of the economy, coupled with
a cessation of off-shore lines of credit and multilateral and bilateral
support," said NMBZ Holdings chairman, Paddy Zhanda, in his group's
Foreign exchange inflows have also declined due to the country's
failure to attract foreign direct investment (FDI). Instead, for the past
five years FDI has taken a flight as Mugabe pursues more radical and
"There is need for a total change of the political and economic
environment before any resumption of international support. Debt forgiveness
can only be considered if we show commitment to change," said one local
UZ workers demand 600% salary hike
By our own Staff
UNIVERSITY of Zimbabwe academic and non-academic workers have
threatened to stage a full-scale industrial action on Thursday unless the
government offers them a 600 percent salary increment.
The workers, who returned to work last week after a labour court ruled
that the industrial action was illegal, indicated yesterday they would join
forces to press home their demands.
They have not been paid their August salaries and allowances and said
they were waiting for the outcome of a scheduled Wednesday meeting between
their lawyers and the University of Zimbabwe Council to solve the salary
Banarbus Chipundu, the president of the Association of University
Teachers (AUT), said his association had turned down the $750 000 gross
salary offered by the UZ council noting that it was far below their
"What has been offered is unacceptable. The amount is just too little
and not suitable especially under the current economic environment. We do
not like a situation whereby our salaries are imposed on us, all the parties
should meet and try to iron out all the differences. We want a monthly
minimum salary of up to $2,13 million," said Chipindu.
The workers are also demanding an improvement in their working
conditions to match with those of other universities in the southern African
"Lecturers are leaving the country at an alarming rate and if our
grievances are not addressed, the already bad situation will deteriorate
further. The official establishment of the UZ staff must be 1 200, but now
we are less than 700. Some departments are now understaffed and some
lecturers are now working overtime, which is never paid for," added
There have been numerous meetings between the AUT and the university
authorities over salary and allowance disputes but all failed to yield any
Last year, lecturers went on an indefinite strike, demanding a 135
percent cost of living adjustment and a review of their salaries.
As a result of the current salary dispute, the opening of the last
semester at the University of Zimbabwe has been delayed.
Survival by 'hook or crook'
By Caiphas Chimhete
IN an effort to cope with burgeoning abject poverty now common in
Zimbabwe as the country's economy continues on its downslide, some people
are devising queer, anti-social and corrupt ways of earning money to make
Apart from being criminal in nature, some of these "survival
strategies" contravene social norms and values which, analysts say, is a
catalyst for social disintegration and further economic recession.
The analysts note that many people are indulging in all sorts of
immoral behaviour such as prostitution, trickery and corruption to raise
money in the face of mounting economic hardships.
The recent reported case of Harare conmen who faked death by having a
colleague lie in a coffin, in an attempt to acquire fuel from a service
station by pretending they were in the middle of a funeral, is an example of
the desperation that some Zimbabweans can get to make a living.
Apart from faking death, the "dead" man together with his accomplices,
also forged a burial order.
In Zimbabwean culture, this kind of thing is unheard of and could
attract severe censure from traditional elders who frown upon any activity
that shows disrespect for the dead and burial rituals.
To beat the current economic hardships some people sell basic
commodities such as fuel and sugar and the culture of "chimbadzo" - usury -
is deepening while individualism is also taking root, traits that are viewed
as illegal and anti-social.
In some cases people are deserting formal jobs to join the "dealing
sector"; selling anything on the thriving black market.
Renowned social commentator, Gordon Chavunduka, attributed the current
upsurge in social decadence and the high corruption rate to desperation as
the country plunges deeper into economic recession.
"Economic problems have driven people into extreme desperation. Social
structures have been destroyed while our culture has been weakened, all a
recipe for disaster for the country," said Chavunduka, who is also the
president of the Zimbabwe National Traditional Healers' Association
He called on the government to put in place policies that can help
resuscitate Zimbabwe's economy, improve governance issues as well as restore
the sense of belonging among Zimbabweans.
Chavunduka's comments were echoed by Andrew Nongogo of Transparent
International Zimbabwe (TIZ), who added that Zimbabwe could soon be
recognised, just like Nigeria, for being a very corrupt country.
"We are, as a country, normalising the abnormal Š we have normalised
corruption and it will have serious implications on the economy because once
it is entrenched, it will be difficult to root out," said Nongogo.
Out of the 102 countries surveyed last year by the Berlin-based
Transparency International which measures the extent of corruption in the
world, Zimbabwe is ranked 76, beating traditionally graft-ridden Nigeria
which is number 101 on the 2003 international corruption index.
A more recent survey by the world Economic Forum lists Zimbabwe as one
of the most corrupt nations in southern Africa.
Nongogo said to root out the current wave of corruption and other
forms of vice, the government "should lead by example".
"It (corruption) is emanating from the top and filtering down to the
ordinary person in the street," he said.
Nongogo said the disintegration of the social fabric and the
proliferation of corruption, was being fuelled by the current unprecedented
economic meltdown that has virtually condemned over three-quarters of the
country's 12,5 million people to the life of beggars.
Although The Standard could not obtain crime figures from the police,
analysts said crime increases when the economy slumps. They also said the
crime rate is higher in countries where the population is poor.
Presently, Zimbabwe is facing a critical shortage of fuel, foreign
currency, bank notes and the rising cost of basic food commodities as well
as transport costs, eroding people's disposable income.
Fuel shortages threaten taxis business
By Wilson Dakwa
WHEN 54-year-old Simon Mpofu, a father of four, was retrenched seven
years ago after working as a driver for a clothing firm for 15 years, he
says he did not despair. Armed with his retrenchment package, he bought a
Mazda 323 that he immediately registered as a metered taxi.
In just a few months, things began looking rosy for him and he was
soon smiling all the way to the bank making enough money to feed himself and
his family. With profits from his business, he was soon able to buy a
four-roomed house in Bulawayo's Western suburbs. The future for him looked
But things took a new twist last year when the shortage of fuel, which
has gripped the country for the past two years, became worse.
Mpofu's world began crumbling around him and he found himself having
to ground his vehicle due to the scarcity of fuel. Today, he is barely
surviving and is considering winding up his floundering transport business.
Mpofu's plight is shared by dozens of other metered taxi operators in
the City of Kings who have found themselves on hard times as a result of the
fuel crisis and the shortage of the local currency.
Some have sold their vehicles because they are finding it almost
impossible to continue doing business in these trying times.
"Business has declined to almost zero. Most taxis spend the day parked
at the ranks like sardines as people can no longer afford to hire them,"
The operators said in the past, they used to have about 15 to 20 trips
a day. Now one would be lucky to get about four to six trips a day.
"We are now struggling to survive. The little money that we make
disappears fast as we have to buy fuel on the black market at outrageous
prices," said Joe Ndlovu, another operator.
Gone are the days when taxi drivers used to refuse to ferry passengers
going on short distances.
"Chamuka inyama (anything goes)," said one operator. The shortage of
cash has also worsened the situation.
"Most banks are only giving between five to ten thousand dollars a day
per customer. After consumers have done their shopping, they are left with
small amounts of cash and cannot afford what they now describe as a
luxurious taxi ride," Ndlovu added.
Moses Moyo said to cushion themselves for buying fuel at exorbitant
prices on the black market, taxi operators were forced to raise fares.
"We feel pity for our clients but we have no choice since we also have
to survive. Until the cash crisis is resolved things are likely to get worse
and we are bound to see a lot of vehicles off the road," said Moyo.
A spokesman for Skyorks Taxis, one of Bulawayo's biggest operators
told The Standard that the fuel and cash shortage had hit the company hard
and they had been forced to scale down operations.
"We are not getting any preferential treatment like emergency taxis
since our industry is considered a luxury. We are being forced to ground
some of our vehicles as no garages are supplying any fuel in Bulawayo," said
"If there is no change in the current situation, we can foresee quite
a number of operators being forced to close down as this business is proving
unviable," he said.
The same goes for another big operator, Rixi Minicabs where drivers
said they had been reduced to making about two to three trips a day,
something which was unheard of only three years ago.
Fertiliser, seed producers warn of shortfalls
By our own Staff
BULAWAYO - Zimbabwe's major fertiliser and seed companies have warned
that they will not be able to meet the demand for seed for this year's
farming season that begins next month unless government provides urgent
solutions to the shortage of foreign currency, raw materials and
alternatives to price controls.
In a report submitted to the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on
Lands, Agriculture, Water Development, Rural Resources and Resettlement last
week, the companies which include the Zimbabwe Fertiliser Company and
Windmill, said the industry was operating at below capacity in the last
eight months, managing to supply only 240 000 tonnes of fertiliser out of a
normal capacity of 370 000 tonnes.
The firms said it would require at least US$2.45 million per month for
the next four months if they were to reach a maximum production capacity and
satisfy the country's fertiliser needs.
"NRZ should also move a total of 27 000 tonnes of raw materials per
month to avoid excessive road haulage costs. The industry's capacity
utilisation will depend entirely on the extent to which these requirements
are fulfilled," reads part of the report entitled "Fertiliser Industry
Situation Report: September 2003".
The companies said foreign exchange shortages that persisted over the
past eight months had affected the importation of such raw material as
sulphur, ammonia, potash, chemicals and plant and maintenance spares.
Cash flow problems, load shedding by the Zimbabwe Electricity Supply
Authority (ZESA) and failure by creditors, notably the Tobacco Growers Trust
(TGT), to service their debts had also worsened the position of players in
"In the first eight months, the industry managed to get only 32% of
its monthly operational requirement of US$2.45 million. In addition, the
industry is owed US$4 million by the Tobacco Growers Trust.
"Preferential fertiliser prices were given in 2002 on the
understanding that TGT will provide this forex. Failure by TGT to do this
has prejudiced the industry of huge cash reserves and reduced the industry's
capacity to fund forex purchases from the market," the statement said.
Financial and logistical problems at the National Railways of Zimbabwe
have also affected the industry with the parastatal managing to move only
58% of the raw material needs for the fertiliser industry.
"Inadequate deliveries of phosphate rock, pyrites, sulphur and coal by
rail remain a serious problem and road haulage is having to be used although
its 15 times the cost by rail. For the past three months, 50% of the
phosphate rock and sulphur had to be moved by road and this likely to worsen
with more tonnage moved by road."
The industry also attributed the heavy slump in production to load
shedding by the national power utility ZESA which still continues unabated
because of the power crisis facing the country.
Government-imposed price controls have also been singled out as a
major contributing factor to the viability problems facing the industry.
"The impact of inflation on fertiliser prices can be reduced if the
industry's forex requirements are allocated at the official exchange rate.
On average, fertiliser prices would be $54 000 per tonne cheaper if forex is
provided at official rates," says the report.
CFU president right on how to restore agriculture
MAY I commend Commercial Farmers Union (CFU)
Taylor-Freeme on his statement in the Zimbabwe Independent of August 22 that
"Stability in the agricultural sector can only be created by addressing
fundamental issues such as the rule of law ..."
This could herald the start to rebuild some much-needed confidence in
the CFU. Thank you.
In terms of good governance - after the rule of law, transparency and
accountability, the next step is efficiency.
Research indicates the following about efficiency: "The work of
running the country must be done efficiently. This means that all civil
servants must do their work in a professional and impartial manner and that
they must be allowed to do so."
Accountable governance depends on an efficient civil service. To
*Civil servants must be appointed on the basis of their technical
competence for the job.
*Civil servants must not hold any political office in any political
*Civil servants must not hold any other job apart from their post in
the civil service.
*The executive, business interests or political parties, must legally
protect civil servants from undue manipulation or interference."
Would the CFU council endorse - in the words of their president -this
'fundamental issue', along with transparency and accountability?
Incompetent Made, the real saboteur
can't help wondering in what subjects Joseph Made, the Minister of
Lands, Agriculture and Rural Resettlement, specialised to get his university
degree. And did he sit an examination or did it come by tendering ten bottle
tops of his favourite vintage.
Having left our few remaining tobacco farmers floundering, failing to
plant because of not knowing whether they will still be there to reap, this
erudite minister accuses them of sabotage for not planting (Daily News 4/9)
and accuses them further of destabilising the resettlement programme.
This is the same minister whose Grain Marketing Board (same issue)
which is already budgeted to make a loss of $319,2 bn this year, (more than
the country's entire budget deficit of $307,5 bn) by selling maize at below
break-even price, is now due to incur a further deficit of $189,9 bn, after
hiking the producer price of maize and wheat again without increasing
selling prices. If anyone is sabotaging the country's economy, it is this
utterly incompetent and useless apology of a minister.
Our worthy quasi-president really knows how to pick his top echelons.
With sub-intelligence like this in the driving seat, what chance has this
The fallacies of black empowerment
During the early nineties the very mention of the phrase "black
empowerment'' was enough to get many people's blood boiling with excitement.
Previously marginalised people figured that the time was ripe to take
their place in the economic driving seat and establish personal and national
prosperity. Right? Well not quite. With the passing of time this now abused
phrase turned out to be nothing more than a byword for another kind of
The pioneers of the movement are now mostly prosperous fat cats,
considerably less vocal. After all, vadya vaguta (they are well-fed and
full). If they were genuinely concerned about equitable wealth distribution,
why have they conspicuously become so quiet?
Empowerment is supposed to be an on-going process whereby
beneficiaries empower others in turn. Clearly this is not the case as it has
turned out that all lean cats wishing to fatten up have to manipulate
situations and contacts to their advantage. This is evident judging by the
opportunists who made their killing on the back of the "Third Chimurenga".
Only in Zimbabwe can one leap from wearing straw hats to donning Italian
This peculiar definition of empowerment might prove beneficial to the
well connected, but it does nothing whatsoever for the nation at large. It
would be more favourable nationally to foster a win-win situation whereby
everyone regardless of background benefits from efforts at empowering all
What about other ethnic minorities in Zimbabwe?
Many skilled Coloured and Asian citizens were largely sidelined during
the Rhodesian days because they were not white, today they still remain
marginalised economically because they are not black. These are genuine
concerns raised by talented but disenfranchised individuals who have a lot
to offer if given the chance.
Just what form is this empowerment taking? Is it along racial, tribal
or other unspecified lines? How have these empowerment programmes benefited
the ordinary person whom they claim to represent? At the end of the day it
does not matter to the man on the street if the firm he works for belongs to
Mr Smith, Mr Patel or Mr Mhunhumutema.
It appears that whether the economy is in white hands or the black
elite's hands the ordinary man is no better off. What incentive is there for
the average citizen to support a process that benefits the chosen few?
Unless one is a muzukuru hailing from the same village as a wealthy sekuru,
one does not benefit directly in any way.
Whenever ZBC screens programmes featuring resettled farmers, it
peculiarly seems that the only agricultural successes occur on the farms of
prominent chefs. Whatever happened to the struggling peasant farmers who
bore the brunt of the liberation struggle from both sides and are still
waiting many years after independence to be given land? Now that the process
is being carried out they still find themselves overlooked.
Similarly, has anyone ever given attention to the plight of displaced
farm labourers who lost their livelihood? Surely if empowerment through land
redistribution is about correcting past imbalances these rural communities
deserve to be empowered ahead of everyone else.
The current direction empowerment seems to be taking is also
debatable. Judging by recent events the current trend is for so-called
indigenous consortiums to take over white dominated industrial and
Empowerment should take on entrepreneurial related activities as
opposed to purely management takeovers. A transfer of wealth does not equate
to a transfer of entrepreneurial ability. Empowerment should be about giving
resources and support to individuals who are capable of creating companies,
not just dishing out productive companies.
This current trend of takeovers implies that previously disadvantaged
people are still not capable of initiating large manufacturing and
industrial ventures. Establishing manufacturing industries should be the
next frontier as the banking and services sectors are already congested. Let
us not just give the man a fish but lets rather teach the man how to fish.
Let us be honest with each other. If we are to implement true
empowerment let us do so. If not, let those who want to pursue personal
agendas do so without society and government wasting valuable resources on
their selfish ventures.
Zimswitch transactions spiral as public turns to 'plastic money'
By Liberty Chirove
THERE has been a dramatic increase in the number of Zimswitch
transactions throughout the country as the cash shortages continue to dog
the country, a development that has had a profound effect on Zimbabwe's
In June, 392 000 transactions with a value of $2,7 billion were
recorded. A total of 640 000 transactions with a value of $5,2 billion were
recorded in July and in August a whopping 959 000 transactions were recorded
involving a total of $9,2 billion.
"These transactions exclude own bank and credit card transactions,"
said Andrew Mugari, the chairman of the Plastic Card Association.
Many Zimbabweans have responded to the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ)
and other financial institutions' encouragement of a wider use of "plastic
money" as opposed to hard cash as one way of addressing the current bank
Cash shortages are still being experienced at various commercial banks
and building societies throughout the country despite the introduction of
travellers' cheques (TCs) by the RBZ recently.
The TCs are unpopular because they come in rounded figures and cannot
be used for small transactions. Some retail shops and service providers,
such as petrol stations, refuse to accept TCs.
Meanwhile, as service providers devise measures to evade using cash,
CFX Merchant Bank launched a facility that makes customers pay bills,
purchase goods at retail outlets, purchase prepaid air time and check
balances using a cellphone.
"An amount of $10 000 is required to open a 1-2-1 Cell Money bank
account and customers can access it anytime, anywhere and transactions can
also be made using the internet," said its operations general manager,
The facility is already in use at some selected outlets in Harare and
is set to be introduced in other towns and cities such as Chitungwiza. Trans
action fees vary from outlet to outlet.
The advantage of the 1-2-1 concept is that users do not need to carry
huge sums of money and that, unlike debit cards, one can easily check their
bank balance on the cellphone before they make a transaction.
Although the facility is at the moment only available through CFX
Merchant Bank, officials said they were discussing with other commercial
banks to see if it could be extended.
Panicking banks cease forex deals
By Kumbirai Mafunda
PANIC-stricken Zimbabwean banks, haunted by the recent suspension of
National Merchant Bank's foreign currency trading licence for dealing on the
parallel market, have temporarily ceased buying and selling foreign
currency, it has emerged.
Financial sector sources said the local banks, almost all of whom were
trading illegally on foreign currency taking advantage of shortages, had
temporarily stopped buying and selling foreign money following the NMB
"All is not well in the banking sector. People are worried because if
you continue selling foreign currency you might be caught," said one banking
NMB Holdings became the central bank's first victim when its
commercial foreign currency trading licence was suspended for a year for
allegedly dealing in illegal foreign currency transactions in contravention
of the Exchange Control Act.
NMB's suspension, which has sent shock waves among indigenous banks,
followed a government onslaught on commercial and merchant banks involving
the feared Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO), to root out banks
consistently flouting regulations.
Sources said three commercial banks and a merchant bank that barely
survived the purge last week had suspended dealing in foreign currency
fearing the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe would pounce on them next.
"They are nervous Š they are not so sure if they are completely off
the hook or the RBZ is still after them," said a well-placed source.
The sources said the joint RBZ/CIO crackdown was still on with nine
financial institutions under the spotlight for flouting exchange control
regulations and directives.
Zimbabwe is in the midst of a crunching shortage of both local and
convertible foreign money.
The shortage of local bank notes has largely been blamed on the
government's failure to import the special bank note paper to print more
money and the rampaging inflation, which stands at 399,5%.
The southern African country has faced persistent hard currency
shortages following the withdrawal of balance of payment (BOP) support by
the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank.
Dwindling exports, the result of unofficial international sanctions
and the general decay of the local manufacturing industry, have also
contributed to the lack of foreign exchange.
Analysts said government's raid on the banks trading illegally on
foreign currency would further deepen the parallel market, the only source
of hard currency in the country.
"The RBZ move is ridiculous. Everybody in business is trading in
foreign currency. The problem is with the central bank, which is not
allocating foreign currency. This move will only drive the parallel market
underground," said one money market analyst.
Economic consultant, John Robertson, said the raid on banks will
impact heavily on exporters and could see export earnings going down.
"Exports are likely to decline because exporters have to change some
of their money for a fair value, which is on the parallel market. So export
revenues will stop and the scarcity of foreign currency will be more
serious," said Robertson.
Cash, fuel crisis hits tourism
By Wilson Dakwa
The current shortage of cash has had a devastating effect on the
tourism industry resulting in the decrease in the number of tourists
visiting the country's resorts.
The Matabeleland regional manager of the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority,
Zii Masiye told StandardBusiness that it has been a frustrating experience
for tourists to come into the country and fail to access cash to enable them
to move around.
"We want them to bring the much needed foreign currency but they have
found it difficult to access local currency. As a result they have found
themselves being ripped off on the black market," said Masiye.
The tourism industry has also been hit hard by the fuel crisis and a
number of operators have been forced to ground their vehicles.
"The impact of the fuel shortage has been massive since tourism is all
about travelling. We are currently appealing to the government and the
National Oil Company of Zimbabwe, Noczim, to give preference to tour
operators in the distribution of fuel," Masiye said.
He said the impact of the land reform programme had been felt directly
by the tourism industry because most operators in the industry had been
white businessmen and commercial farmers.
Masiye said because of the traditional ownership by a small clique of
Zimbabweans, many of the tourists who visit tended to be coming from
countries such as United Kingdom, Germany, South Africa and, in some cases,
the United States.
"Because we picked up quarrels with these countries, there was
immediate resistance and the traditional markets have dried up. However, we
have now focused our attention to Asian markets which include China, Russia
and Malaysia," said Masiye.
The current difficulties have however come as a blessing in disguise
as there is now an increase in domestic tourism. Locals now appreciate what
Zimbabwe has to offer and are now flocking resorts such as the Hwange
National Park, Matopos, Victoria Falls and Bumi Hills, he said.
"Efforts have also been beefed up to promote the country's tourism by
arranging exhibitions such as the Travel Expo and specialised displays at
the Zimbabwe International Trade Fair," Masiye added.
No end in sight for fuel crisis
By Liberty Chirove
ZIMBABWE is likely to continue experiencing severe shortages of fuel
as the National Oil Company of Zimbabwe (Noczim) battles to raise hard
currency for fuel procurement, The Standard has learned.
The only possible solution to the crisis, analysts said, is for the
government and other companies to come up with new ideas to complement those
of Noczim in its effort to end the crippling fuel shortage.
Recently, the government announced a two-tier pricing system in which
petrol is now sold at $1 170 per litre and diesel at $1 060 per litre to the
public, and $450 and $200 per litre for petrol and diesel respectively, for
the public sector.
Economic consultant John Robertson said the fuel problems are set to
continue until market forces are allowed to dictate the way forward and
interest rates allowed to rise.
"Some banks have privileges as they are allowed to deal in foreign
currency and others are not allowed so it becomes difficult to gather the
money required for the procurement of fuel. So it is up to the government to
come up with constructive ideas," he said.
All the tender bids submitted by pension and provident funds,
insurance companies, life mutuals, commercial and merchant banks, financial,
public and private institutions as well as individuals to finance fuel
procurement were turned down because of high rates.
Trust Bank economic analyst David Mupamhadzi said it was the first
time Noczim tender bids have been rejected because they were at a very high
"The rejection sends a signal that the authorities are not comfortable
and are set to change the interest rates but however, Noczim will have to
continue looking for the funds," he said.
Syfrets Corporate and Merchant Bank managing director, Sij Biyam said
they would tender again in the next few days.
The bank raised $60 billion under the first facility aimed at
procuring fuel. This time, its offer did not have any specific amount
required and interest rates were on a tender by tender basis.
Travesty of Justice
WE had long
decided to comment on the ruling by Chief Justice Godfrey
Chidyausiku to point out that his statement was likely to be interpreted by
government security agents as an invitation to once and for all destroy the
private Press and the The Daily News, which the governing party has
considered an irritant for years, and all that this section of newspapers
Thursday's ruling by Chief Justice Chidyausiku that by not registering
with the government-appointed Media and Information Commission, the
Associated Newspapers of Zimbabwe (ANZ) - the publishers of the Daily News
and The Daily News on Sunday - was operating illegally, is a dangerous
It is dangerous because it has not taken long for enemies of free
expression to pounce on The Daily News - Zimbabwe's main independent daily
newspaper - by crudely shutting down its operations and forcing its printers
to stop working.
In fact, the Chidyausiku ruling has larger implications to the media
in Zimbabwe: in one stroke of the pen, it gives the Media and Information
Commission the legality it so badly strove for, to move and frustrate
Zimbabwe's vibrant but small private media.
Granted the Chief Justice might argue that what he merely did was to
point out that ANZ had approached his court "with dirty hands" because it
had not registered and should register first before its case against the
Access to Information and Protection to Privacy Act could be heard.
While the Chief Justice's interpretation of the law could be
considered sound, especially among Zanu PF and the government, he surely
should have realised that his ruling would obviously give ammunition to the
likes of Junior Information Minister Jonathan Moyo and Tafataona Mahoso, the
head of the Media Commission, to once and for all deal with The Daily News.
He might have absolved himself by saying all that ANZ needed to do was
to abide by the law, but the damage had been done.
Even his statement that the newspaper publisher could "submit itself
to the law and approach this court with clean hands" was inconsequential
because by opening the door an inch, he had alerted the vultures in the
Mahoso's statement after the Chidyausiku ruling that he was going to
consult with Moyo on what action to take against ANZ, was ominous; judging
by the way the Junior Minister has openly displayed his hatred of the
It was not long before the under-employed ZRP and the CIO, as if they
had rehearsed this for years, invaded The Daily News offices and chased all
staff away before briefly detaining some of them, thereby effectively
closing down the newspapers' newsrooms,
Be that as it may, Mr Justice Chidyausiku's ruling on approaching the
court with "dirty hands" also defies legal logic. How can the ANZ submit
itself to the same law whose legality it is challenging in his court?
How are The Daily News and, presumably - its sister paper The Daily
News of Sunday - expected to register when their offices are shut, their
employees thrown into the streets and their printing press closed?
What, if we may ask, would stop Mahoso and Moyo to delay ANZ's
application to the Media Commission for months so that the whole project
becomes impossible to revive or economically not viable?
In fact, what if the Junior Minister, whom we know pulls all the
strings - decides that he would after all, not issue a licence to the two
newspapers because he feels they give him too many problems. Two down, how
many to go?
However one reads Mr Justice Chidyausiku's ruling, it is a travesty of
justice. The Chief Justice's ruling, in one bold stroke, has legalised
Mahoso's government-appointed Media Commission - whose impartiality has been
the subject of acres of space in the media - to pounce and refuse to issue
operating licences to the newspapers and magazines that are unpopular with
the ruling Zanu PF party.
We are not saying Chief Justice Chidyausiku ordered the police and the
CIO to harass and frustrate ANZ editors and employees; what we are only
saying is that it is these kind of rulings - especially in a volatile
situation as ours - that are likely to be misinterpreted by those among us
who propagate or use violence to kill any dissenting voices.
What has happened to ANZ bears testimony to our statement. We only
hope that sanity in the end will prevail and the two newspapers would be
allowed to continue publishing until they make their next appearance in
Chidyausiku's court to challenge all the sinister sections of AIIPA,
including the legality of the Media Commission.
Foolish nonsense, greed and gravy trains
overthetop By Brian Latham
WHEN mad dictators emerge in Europe, they get bombed back into the
Stone Age. That is the right and proper thing to do. But why is it that when
even madder dictators wreak havoc in Africa, their excesses are not just
condoned, but actually justified?
It's a curious contradiction, made evident last week by a visiting
delegation of foolish representatives from the African Caribbean and Pacific
countries. That such a spurious organisation even exists is assuredly a mark
of the stupidity of world politics. It is nothing less than another gravy
Still, these cretins have announced, with confidence, that they can
mend fences between Europe and this country. The question is, why do they
Their leader, a Mr Adrien Houngbedji, allegedly told the fawning,
state-controlled mouthpiece that this is a thriving democracy. That'll come
as surprising news to the victims of torture, rape, arson, assault, eviction
And what is the opposition doing about this move to reintroduce the
country to the international fold? Not muchŠ
Simple marketing in those countries hypocritical enough to promote
appeasement with the regime would soon put people's minds right.
But none of this tells us why anyone would want to condone tyranny. It
doesn't explain why the leader of Africa's most powerful nation and the
architect of the alleged African Renaissance thinks it's just fine to go
around murdering people, raping their wives and daughters and beating their
children with barbed wire whips.
Because he does think it's just fine - as apparently do those cretins
at the ACP. If Europe has any sense (chance would be a fine thing), it won't
back down on this issue and it'll cancel the ACP-EU conference for a second
time. That'll be bad news for the ACP delegates, the hotels and the hookers
in Rome, but its effect on history will be miniscule. Nothing ever comes
from these silly talking shops.
Not that Africa has ever had reason to have faith in Europe, where
weak kneed leaders dither and flap their handbags in frustration, but rarely
do anything of consequence - which is probably why we're poorer now than we
were when they were running the shop. For too many, the price of universal
franchise has been poverty.
Of course, it's more complicated than that. The Euros are also
governed by greed and we're simply not important enough or rich enough to
cause them loss of sleep. If we had oil, on the other hand, it might be
Or if we were closer to their borders. They knew exactly what to do
with that deranged lunatic in what was Yugoslavia before NATO roared in with
big bombs. After all, we often forget that Europe, for all its pretence at
civilisation, has recent experience of crazed megalomaniacs of the sort that
African dictators can only dream of with envy.
SoŠ there's no help to be had from outside, at least not until
opinions are changed - and changed substantially. And that's what everything
hinges on. While TV viewers are bombarded with touchy-feely images of
injustice in Burma, where admittedly the leader of the opposition is
considerably prettier, no one here makes much effort to lobby public
The results are predictable. Leaders in Africa can sit back and
pretend it's not happening, or that it's all a product of the fevered
imagination of racist western leaders. And those same western leaders can
wring their hands in mock angst before looking the other way -because doing
anything brings the unacceptable risk of being called racists by
manipulative leaders in Africa.
From The Sunday Times (SA), 14 September
Zanu PF polls to 'indicate new leader'
A round 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. The congress is held once
every five years and elects a new leadership, while the conference is an
annual non-voting gathering. Parliamentary Speaker Emerson Mnangagwa,
Special Affairs Minister and Zanu-PF national chairman John Nkomo, Defence
Minister Sydney Sekeramayi and former finance minister Simba Makoni are
known to want Mugabe's job. Mugabe is widely believed to prefer Mnangagwa as
his successor. As the party's administration chief, Mnangagwa has the
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 his party's
elections had nothing to do with positioning anyone in the succession line .
Zanu PF's constitution stated that all district and provincial structures be
dissolved and elections for new office bearers be held one year before the
congress, 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
indicated otherwise. "Although Mugabe has called for open talks on
succession, there will be no such discussion at the December conference. The
earliest we can expect Mugabe to go is after the 2005 elections. "These Zanu
PF elections are meant to revamp the party and point the way to a chosen
LETTERS FROM ZIMBABWE (No. 49) - 12 September 2003
by Sharon Pincott
The cry of the bateleur eagle is unmistakeable.
It is also a visual
delight. The bright red
face-mask is lost amongst an exaggerated mass of shiny black head, chest and
leg feathers, now all puffed up and separated. Wings are tucked in close to
the body, held upright so that their white undersides are now facing
forward, and raised at the shoulders high above both sides of the head.
White and ruffled now, and looking like they’ve been attached too high to
the bateleur’s back, they appear like the storybook wings of an angel.
Wings of an eagle. Wings of an angel. It is a stunning performance, wild
and secret - and entirely enchanting. The fact that I am able to observe
this display, at such close quarters, is a privilege and a pleasure.
If god created the
warthog on a day when he was bored, then he must indeed
have created the marabou stork on a day when he was in an awfully dark mood.
Wrapped in a cloak of black, they are sinister looking, and really rather
ugly. I look closely at them for a long time, trying to find something
pleasing about their appearance. I fail. They take to the skies, their
wingbeats sounding like loud squeaky doors. Nevertheless, I am pleased to
have the privilege of their presence.
The pair of grey herons sit in the acacia
erioloba, now sprinkled with
bright yellow pom pom flowers. It is a welcome splash of colour, softening
the otherwise harsh, dry landscape. One of the herons seems to be building
a nest of twigs, on a fallen log in the pan. Any eggs will surely not
escape the mouths of the many crocodiles. The herons make an aggressive
bark-like sound at the spoonbill stork, who is undisturbed. The call of the
herons as they greet each other appears to unsettle the elephants. They don
’t, however, manage to unsettle the yellow-billed kite. It dive-bombed
multiple times, eventually succeeding in stealing the fish from the beak of
one of the bewildered herons. A crocodile was also feeding. It had
successfully lunged at one of the ill-fated eagles drinking at the edge of
This is nature at work.
It is fascinating to witness first-hand the obvious
differences between the
animal species. When an infant elephant so much as stumbles accidentally
into the shallow water trough, there is much screaming and concern from the
rest of the elephant family, all of whom immediately join in to rescue, and
then comfort, the youngster. When a female kudu was stuck, belly-deep, in
mud, the other kudus with her showed no concern and made no attempt to
assist. After a few frantic minutes, she managed to free herself, her body
now completely covered in thick grey mud, but there was no-one, except for
me, who even acknowledged her potentially deadly ordeal.
A male bushbuck feasted on the fresh new Spring leaf,
just metres from my
4WD. A giraffe drank peacefully, legs spread, at the pan. Waterbuck took
to the water to enjoy the last of the reeds. Kudu and impala grazed nearby.
Baboons picked through elephant dung in search of food. The elephants were
“Zena”, a high-ranking
female from the ‘Z’ family has recently given birth
to a wee baby girl. “Delight” from the ‘D’ family has also just given
birth, to her very first calf. Long-term recording of the lives of these,
and the other 15 ‘Presidential Elephant’ families, will provide a thorough
understanding of their elephantine lives, in this unique African ecosystem.
Thankfully, I have sighted no new snare wounds on the elephants for 8 weeks
now - and I am grateful.
Like so many of my stories, all of the sightings shared
here occurred in the
area known as Kanondo. Less observant, I could easily have missed many of
the smaller happenings. It is, regardless, an area where the animals of all
sizes have been able to roam safely, wild and free, for the past 30 years.
I have always considered that it had a great and timeless peace. Like the
elephants, all of the wildlife here has accepted the close presence of
“… Wasn’t this wonderful? …”
Unbelievably, this area has been turned over to hunters.
Spasms of fear and
revulsion make me shudder. So many joys flourish only in the peace and
quiet of the African bush, now to be shattered by gunfire.
Is it really over? ….
SOKWANELE CIVIC ACTION SUPPORT GROUP
Enough is Enough
The world debates the future of biodiversity and National Parks while the plight of Zimbabwe’s wildlife heritage is conveniently ignored by leading international conservationists.
(See attached article on the fifth World Parks Congress in Durban).
Has the international community given up on Zimbabwe?
Zimbabwe’s most powerful neighbour, South Africa, recently hosted an extravaganza to show case Zimbabwe’s tourist potential to the international community, dubbed a resounding success by Tourism Minister Francis Nhema. Yet the country’s potential is currently under siege by so called war vets and other state backed thugs.
(See attached Daily News editorial).
This prestigious lodge was one of the few remaining open in the Hwange National Park area. Prior to 2000 this area boasted no less than fourteen photographic safari camps. Today a handful remain operational, two of which partly belong to the zanu pf regime and are being used as headquarters for illegal hunting within the national park itself and in the surrounding designated hunting areas.
(See attached report for detail).
On 11 September, the lodge was invaded by the notorious “Black Jesus”, a ‘war veteran’ operating out of Kamativi, near to the National Park. He is currently the commander in chief of the Border Gezi Youth Camp in Kamativi and this marauding group of brutes are responsible for spreading violence and chaos in the surrounding area, evicting local residents accused of supporting the opposition Movement for Democratic Change. Regular reports are received chronicling the torture, rape and violence perpetrated by the youths at this state run national training center for youths. The camp inmates have waged running battles with the police and are now a law unto themselves. These youths also recently erected a blockade on the main road to the police station, thereby preventing any further official reports to the law enforcement agents.
“Black Jesus” phoned the manager of Ivory Lodge on the 10 September to demand the details of the owners of the camp. He was told that the Forestry Commission, a parastatal, owns the property and it is leased out to private investors through the Zimbabwe Investment Corporation (ZIC). “Black Jesus” refused to accept the fact that the land is owned by the government, claimed that it was owned by whites and informed the manager he was taking over the lodge, “That all land would be returned to the black people and no white British slave masters would own any land in Zimbabwe.”
He then advised the manager that he was not to return to the lodge, nor could he remove any furniture or fittings as these were now possessions of his war veterans. Information has subsequently been received that the three war veterans and fifteen youths have cut the telephone lines, broken into the kitchen, stolen all the food supplies and substantial stocks of liquor. They have been sleeping in the rooms and have also stolen all the linen. The manager has been unable to make contact with the Lodge staff, but did receive a report that the Lodge has been ransacked. An Ivory Lodge vehicle was also seen on the main Bulawayo road near to the camp, driven by a war vet and packed with youths.
Both the Forestry Commission and the local police have been informed of the criminal activities at Ivory Lodge, but claim that this is a political matter, hence out of their jurisdiction. The District Attorney from Lupane visited the lodge with the police on Sunday to hold discussions with the occupants, but was unable to evict them and again stated that he would have to await instruction from the government.
Further reports have also been received that another two private lodges have received visits from war vets over the past few days and are currently in a state of panic over their future viability.
The zanu pf regime has a major shareholding in Touch the Wild Safaris, Zimsun and the Rainbow Tourism Group, all public companies, and who are operating camps in the Hwange area. According to international contractual law these companies should be advising their shareholders of the situation, but to date no statement has been made.
Some political commentators have speculated that the current upsurge of violent seizure in the area may be connected to the MDC success in the recent Council elections in Hwange town. In addition, Obert Mpofu, Governor of Matabeleland North has also been reported to be running hunts into the Hwange area and has received much negative press for his potentially devastating policies. Mpofu claimed he has recently received quotas for hunting in the area, but this runs in contradiction to government policy where quotas are issued at the beginning of the hunting season, not half way through.
The Department of National Parks recently carried out a survey to ascertain the situation in Hwange, and have confessed they face major obstacles in trying to maintain this vast wildlife sanctuary. They admitted that there is a major problem with illegal hunting and poaching and that their own staff are implicated in these activities.
Moosa Spells Out Parks Congress Issues
South African Press Association (Johannesburg)
September 11, 2003
Posted to the web September 12, 2003
The big outcome of the fifth World Parks Congress will be the recognition that conservation efforts and the needs of human communities are inextricably linked, says Environment Minister Valli Moosa.
Briefing journalists on the fourth day of the congress, underway at Durban's International Convention Centre, he said another result would be greater global responsibility for preserving the biodiversity of underdeveloped countries, which could not afford to divert money into conservation.
"Rich countries have a responsibility in this regard," Moosa said.
The minister was responding to a question on what he thought the main features of the Durban Accord would be. The accord, together with a global action plan for protected areas, is set to be released on Wednesday next week, the final day of the congress.
"The Durban Accord will become the conservation reference document for the next 10 years. It is not a binding treaty, but it has the potential to serve as such," he said.
The WPC is aimed at setting an agenda for the future of the world's protected areas, and has attracted about 2,500 leading local and international conservationists and policy makers.
Described by its organisers, the World Conservation Union (IUCN), as a "technical meeting of experts", its outputs are not binding on governments or their representatives, who are not formally recognised at the event.
Moosa told journalists the accord would create a new paradigm, and promote a shift from the old outlook of "conservation for conservation's sake", to one that took into account communities and human needs.
Another issue it would address was the way national parks were funded.
"If we only rely on state funding, we don't have a recipe for success," he said.
The solution lay in partnerships and privatisation.
Further, the accord would spell out the role and relationship of local communities and parks.
It would also "throw out a challenge for conservation of the oceans". These covered 70 percent of the globe, but only half a percent of their surface area was protected.
Earlier on Thursday, Moosa hosted a round table discussion with nine other environment ministers at the conference. The meeting was also attended by IUCN director-general Achim Steiner, who said he was "deeply disappointed" by the failure of many countries to fulfil financial commitments they had made at the Rio Earth Summit in 1992.
At the time, developed countries had agreed they would fund biodiversity conservation in poor countries.
"They are reneging on an agreement reached at Rio," Steiner said.
Just Another Futile Exercise
The Daily News (Harare)
September 11, 2003
Posted to the web September 11, 2003
THE Zimbabwe Tourism Authority (ZTA) and a group of local musicians will stage a marketing extravaganza in South Africa which will showcase Zimbabwe’s tourism potential to the world at large.
Coming at a time when the once prosperous Zimbabwe is in the grip of a painful economic meltdown, the marketing exercise is indeed welcome.
Unfortunately, however, the marketing exercise of the ZTA and its team of patriotic musicians will prove to be just another futile attempt by the the government and other groups such as the ZTA to spruce up Zimbabwe’s image, without addressing the basic issues fuelling the country’s shameful collapse.
From independence in 1980 up until 2000, Zimbabwe’s tourism industry boomed.
Both domestic and international tourism flourished as tourists from the world over flocked to peaceful and stable Zimbabwe to sample the country’s famed tourist attractions.
Overnight, tourism jumped to third place after the buoyant agriculture and mining sectors, having previously been the country’s major foreign currency earner.
Why the tourism sector and the country’s image have taken a knock in the last few years should be clear to the ZTA and all except the mentally disturbed.
No tourist will visit any country where political violence and racial hatred are preached like the Lord’s gospel by those in authority.
No matter how many tourism expos and extravaganzas the ZTA stages, no sane tourist will visit Zimbabwe for as long as they believe their safety is not guaranteed in this country because of the colour of their skin or because of the country they come from.
Tourists and foreign investors will continue to shun a country where the rule of law is openly trampled upon and state security agencies stand accused of violating and abusing the innocent citizens they are sworn to protect.
For the past three years, the ruling ZANU PF party has done all it can to destroy tourist and investor confidence in its bid to stay in power.
The drop in the arrival rate of foreign tourists in this country, which the ZTA naively believes it can reverse by singing in South Africa, is merely a reward for the mad economic and political policies of the government.
Why, we ask the ZTA and the government, would tourists flock in their thousands to a country which has does not have any fuel nor cash to buy day-to-day needs?
The government and the ZTA should realise that the planned one-day tourism exhibition in South Africa is just a drop in the ocean. Much more needs to be done outside the tourism industry itself.
Only political and economic stability will revive the waning fortunes of the lucrative tourism industry.
The government should seriously start re-engaging the international community and help the country shake off its pariah status.
No amount of rhetoric and grand-standing can hide the madness and political violence that have become routine in this country.
Only when the government abandons its misguided policies which scare away investors will any campaign to spruce up the image of this country succeed.
What is needed to market this country are not tourism promotions in South Africa, Malaysia and Singapore.
The remedy to the country’s ills lies in sound economic and civilised political policies.
Zimbabwe Independent Newspaper
Letters to the Editor 12-18 September
Not even apartheid was this bad
SO often we take our freedom and democracy in South Africa for granted that we forget the plight of those, such as yourselves, in Zimbabwe.
I had the misfortune of visiting Zimbabwe on a mining exploration exercise on August 13-21. We (my family and I) were scheduled to visit the Victoria Falls and surrounding areas in the Mlibizi/Zambezi basin for a river boat experience.
Whilst we enjoyed the Victoria Falls and an excursion into Zambia, our experience in the small mining town of Kamativi (about 200 km from Hwange) left much to be desired.
From the information my family and I had, this tin mining town used to be a bustling metropolis for rural folk coming from Binga, Tinde and surrounding areas.
As the mine has since closed down, a number of small "co-operatives" still live off open-cast subsistence mining including tin and Tantalite (the latter being one of the minerals I have been contemplating harvesting).
As we approached Kamativi mine, we found the entrance to the mine (near a local police presence) barricaded with boom gates operated by what we later understood to be the notorious "Green Bombers".
These Green Bombers in Kamativi not only manhandled myself and my wife, they even went through our food (helping themselves in the process), luggage and car. Had my wife not been there with me, I would have gladly fought for my rights (But then again, what rights did I have in Zimbabwe?).
To add insult to injury, the police presence there, about a couple of hundred metres away, did nothing to assist. If anything, they acted as if nothing was taking place.
Further to the above, I was searched and interrogated as if I was a spy, as if I had contraband that I was trying to smuggle into the mine.
Needless to say that we were not allowed access into the mine and, from folk we managed to talk to on our way back, the former tin mine is now being used as a training camp or base for these senseless monsters of a defunct regime.
Surely there has to be a way to get rid of your present dispensation with dignity?
The worst humiliation I was ever subjected to in South Africa during the apartheid days pales compared to what my family and I went through at Kamativi that day.
As I understand that the mine still has some local habitants there, I shudder to think of what these poor souls go through on a daily basis.
Does anyone know that this mine (judging by its remoteness and inaccessibility) is being used for such nefarious activities? That a population is being subjected to human rights abuses on a daily basis? That local women are probably (God forbid) being raped every day?
I realise a lot of issues still have to be resolved in your country and my heart goes out to you the people of Zimbabwe. But unless the local population does something rather than wait for a saviour, everyone is going to die of hunger sooner rather than later.
Zimbabwe To Kill Buffalo In 'Bizarre' Mass
By Basildon Peta Southern Africa Correspondent
The Independent - UK
Zimbabwe is culling thousands of buffalo to "contain" foot-and-mouth disease in a move that has sparked protests and been described as "futile and bizarre".
Conservationists said the order was "stupid" and would kill off what was left of Zimbabwe's tourism sector, which has shrunk to 15 per cent of its former level since political disturbances began in 2000.
Salmon Joubert, a retired executive director of the Kruger National Park, which straddles Zimbabwe's borders with South Africa and Mozambique, said the decision "ranks as one of the most futile and bizarre moves that anyone can imagine".
Many other cloven-hoofed animals, such as impala and kudu, are carriers of foot-and-mouth disease, so Zimbabwe would have to exterminate all of them to achieve its goal.
Officials from the Department of National Parks and Wildlife Management descended on private game parks last week telling owners that the government of President Robert Mugabe had decided to destroy all buffalo on private land in order to eliminate the foot-and-mouth outbreak.
Wilfried Pabst, who owns the Save Valley Conservancy, said officials told his workers that foot-and-mouth disease had cost Zimbabwe its European beef markets. "What is happening in Zimbabwe makes the Chinese Cultural revolution look like a picnic," said Mr Pabst, a German national and a major investor in the country's tourism sector.
The National Parks officials indicated that, alternatively, the buffalo in the private game parks could be seized and taken to the government's national parks to control their movements, Mr Pabst said.
However, fences at most national game parks were destroyed at the height of farm invasions last year, leaving the buffalo there free to mix with cattle in villages. "Any sensible government would replace these fences [rather] than resort to the outrageous move of killing animals," Mr Pabst said.
Hansard Parliamentary Debates Wednesday 10 September
ORAL ANSWERS TO QUESTIONS WITHOUT NOTICE (my note - policy questions only)
Could the Minister of Agriculture and Lands confirm whether it is government
policy (this part of the question not recorded in Hansard, but put) to kill
all the buffalo because of foot-and-mouth, or whether it is government
policy) to relocate the Buffalo range (sic) in Save Conservancy?
MINISTER OF LANDS, AGRICULTURE AND RURAL RESETTLEMENT (DR MADE)
The hon. member is asking a question in two parts. The first one whether it
is government policy to destroy. I should like to say it is not government
policy to destroy. The second part, on the issue of relocation. The hon.
member should note that conservancy is given such status basically on
agricultural land and when it is necessary, these matters are taken into
consideration by the Ministers responsible - in this case, the Minister of
Environment and Tourism and the Minister of Agriculture. there is no issue
which has been raised on that matter from a policy point of view.
MR BENNETT the 18 kilometres of fence which is a double fence used to stop
the spread of foot-and-mouth is missing in that conservancy and the hon.
Minister is not allowing that fence to be replaced. Are there any plans on
that aspect vis-a-vis the serous outbreak of the foot-and-mouth in that
DR MADE: The hon. member seems to know a little bit more and I am now a bit
concerned whether he is not part and parcel of the activities which are
going on. He could be part and parcel of the activities that are going on
since he seems to know more of what is going on there. I want to put it
very clearly that the issue of foot and mouth and its spread has been
aggravated mainly by former farmers who have been moving cattle up and down
the country and I hope he is not part and parcel of that activity. If he
knows of people who want to put up the fence and are being stopped from
doing so, thatiis he is own imagination ndasertion, and I am not aware of
what he asserts that I am am stopping the putting of the fence on that
particular exercise. I am, however, suspicious othat the hon. member seems
to know a little bit more.
ORAL ANSWERS QUESTIONS WITH NOTICE (my note - non-policy questions have to
be given to Ministers 7 days before they answer)
GWAAI VALLEY CONSERVANCY FARMS
17. MISS STEVENSON asked the Minister of Lands, Agriculture and Rural
Resettlement to explain the criteria used to allocate farms in Gwaai Valley
Conservancy to such beneficiaries as Cain Matema, Jacob Mudenda, Alice
Nkomo, Prisca Utete, Ruben Makanla, Mark Russell and Dr Zishiri; to confirm
or deny reports that Governor Obert Mpofu has been allocated two farms
bordering on Hwange National Park.
THE MINISTER OF LANDS, AGRICULTURE AND RURAL RESETTLEMENT (DR MADE): Mr
Speaker, I am fully aware of the prosperity (sic) by the so-called
independent press and member of the Movement of Democratic Change to malign
public figures who have, as indeed they are entitled to, applied for land
under our Land Reform Programme and have been so allocated.
If anything, such negative tendencies have in fact reinforced our resolve to
reclaim our heritage and birth right. No amount of unwarranted abuse of the
Land Reform Programme will diminish our resolve in this regard.
The hon. member is murmuring "MDC". In actual fact, there is no form which
asks what party you belong to or what affiliation, what creed you are, what
colour you are, you will be considered for land. For those that would have
been allocated land, they should not be looked at with envy. They have
applied and they have been considered and have been given a piece of land.
I want to indicate that the hon. member's question has some element of
unfairness in it and I will respond. I want to emphasise that the land
reform is irreversible and we want to watch upon those that have been given
land. Those who have been given land will produce for the nation. The hon.
member might also want to note that the demise that we talked about in
certain unions and their members is a very clear testimony that this is
irreversible if we want to make reference to the demise of the President of
the Commercial Farmers or the Commercial Farmers Union. What is going on
now is the rebellion of CFU members in Mataebeleland North. I am not aware
that Governor Mpofu has been allocated two farms bordering on Hwange
National Park. That is how I respond to that part. In terms of our land
allocation policy, land is allocated to those who have applied for the land
would not know unless you applied for the land. So you must apply first.
For A1 it is also the same but under a separate area. So the issue of
conservancies or not conservancies does not arise here because we have got
those two models.
Secondly, those who meet the criteria as set on the application forms that
is skills, interests, resources and experience et cetera. I am fully aware
of the propensity by the so-called independent press and Members of the MDC
to malign public figures who have as indeed they are entitled to. They have
applied for land under our Reform Programme and they have been allocated.
If anything, such negative tendencies have in fact reinforced our resolve to
reclaim our heritage and birthright. No amount of unwarranted abused of the
Land Reform Programme will diminish our resolve in this respect.
MR GABBUZA: Madam Speaker, Mr Jacob Mudenda and Ms Prisca Utete are serious
game ranchers. But at the same time these conservancies have crop producers
who are doing nothing. When are you going to remove them so that Mr Mudenda
and Utete who are serious will start their game ranching?
DR MADE: The hon. member makes an assertion, there is nothing supplementary
in the issue he has raised.
MR MUSHORIWA (Shadow Minister of Environment & Tourism): Hon. Minister, as
we may be aware that the Gwaai Valley as an example as we speak now the very
few people who were resettled there are not doing agriculture but they are
illegally poaching animals. They are not doing this in their area only but
in the nearby areas. they are individuals who come to them for example
south African operators and forex is not even being channelled back into the
economy of this country. What is the Minister going to do about this
DR MADE: Mr Speaker, as I have said, I gave quite long response, I even gave
the background under which the question has been raised and crafted. It is
all assertion from my colleagues on the other side and issues and
allegations that are not substantiated in the form they are talking, it is
all really speculation. There is no supplementary that is arising from what
he has said.
MR MUSHORIWA: On a point of order Mr Speaker, the supplementary question I
have actually given to the Minister is actually emanating from the question
that has been asked. It is not speculation. Those people who were
allocated pieces of land instead of actually using it for agricultural
purposes or even getting into animal ranching they are busy poaching (Hon
Members: inaudible interjections)
The TEMPORARY SPEAKER: Order, order, the Minister has answered.
Zvakwana is disgusted by the heavy handed behaviour of the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) and Zimbabwe National Army (ZNA) in closing the Daily News on Friday night.
On Thursday 11 September, the Supreme Court ruled that the Daily News must register as a mass media house, according to the provisions of the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (AIPPA) before it could contest the constitutionality of AIPPA in court. In public statements, the Daily News described its intention to comply with this ruling, and stated that it would begin the process of registering the paper.
Hardly a day after the judgement was handed down, however, over 100 armed police officers and soldiers stormed the newspaper and demanded that the staff stop their work and evacuate the building. They did not show a court order, and did not give any legal justification for their actions. They simply told the staff present to stop work and disappear. They were told that if they tried to defy this order, the police would come after them personally.
This is disgusting. Since when can the police decide of their own free will which business should and should not operate, and which newspapers may or may not be published. Moreover, with all of the other criminal and lawless activities reported in Zimbabwe, why does it take such a strong delegation of our nations finest to shut down an office full of unarmed, undefended workers. Zvakwana activists have reported a heavy police presence around the Daily News offices since Friday night. This is a further waste of resources, when these police officers could surely be doing something more constructive with their time, and at greater benefit to the tax payers who pay their salaries.
This is absurd. zpf has taken their paranoia to an extreme. I was so repulsed by having only The Herald to read on Saturday that I fell ill and vomited. I wrapped my vomit in the filthy newspaper that caused it and left it at the doorstep of Herald House. Maybe we should all carry our rubbish and our rotting stinking waste to the same location and show them how their lies nauseate us.
Despite blatant attempts by the ruling party to silence the Daily News, the paper is still fighting. They filed their registration with the Media and Information Commission on Monday morning, but up until Monday night the police details were still on patrol and their offices were still blocked. ANZ is now planning to file an urgent application to the High Court to make sure that the police leave them alone.
Also, even though the police were so excited to arrest ANZ CEO Sam Nkomo over the weekend, now that its time to put the charges on the line, they seem to have lost all interest. Nkomos lawyers expected him to be called to court at some point today, but it appears that zpf has realised that they have no case against himand therefore dont want to embarrass themselves by going to court.
Sound familiar? It should. zpf is acting like it learned its lessons in governance from its former colonial power. Rhodesia had LOMAzpf uses POSA. For a few years in the 1960s, Rhodesia had an independent newspaper: The African Daily News. It was banned by the colonial regime and forcibly closed because the government knew the power of information in helping people understand and resist oppression. After four years of operating under an extremely difficult and hostile environment, the modern Daily News is threatened with closure for exactly the same reasons.
The methods of dictators dont change, even if the colour of their skin is different. But if history does repeat itself, then at least this means that what happened to ian smith and his cronies will soon happen to mugabe and his.
Here are some ideas from Zvakwana subscribers on how to resist governments latest repression:
* Phone, fax, write an email in to the Herald and ZBC and let them know how you feel about having them as your only news source
* Continue the consumer boycott on the Herald. Dont start buying it just because you want a newspaper to read. Instead, use alternative news sources to find out whats really going on in Zimbabwe and share the news with your friends, family and workmates.
You can try:
--SW Radio Africa: 4880 short wave (6pm to 9pm daily) or www.swradioafrica.com
--VOA Studio7 Radio: 13600 or 17895 short wave or 909AM (7pm-8pm Monday to
Friday) or www.voanews.com
--Zimnews, an online and email news service: www.zwnews.com
--visit the Daily News Online periodically on www.dailynews.co.zw. Who knows? Maybe theyll manage to publish in spite of moyo.
* Visit the offices of the Daily News. Bring flowers or cards to say we miss you. If you cant find any staff members to give them to, ask the police to hold them for you. Theyre stuck standing around there anyway.
Have any more ideas? Contact us on email@example.com
Zimbabwe's only independent daily
newspaper is fighting to re-open its
offices after being shut down by the government for violating a
controversial media law.
A lawyer for the Daily News, Gululethu Moyo, says he is filing an urgent
request to have the ban against the newspaper lifted by registering with a
government-appointed media commission.
The newspaper had challenged the registration law, calling it
unconstitutional. But the Supreme Court ruled the newspaper was operating
illegally, and police raided its offices Friday.
Meanwhile, Daily News chief executive Sam Nkomo has been summoned to a
Harare court later Monday. And, the editor-in-chief of the newspaper,
Francis Mdlongwa, announced his resignation Monday. It is not clear if the
move is linked to the closure.
Tough media laws were passed shortly after President Robert Mugabe was
re-elected last year following allegations of vote-rigging and human rights
The Independent Journalists Association of Zimbabwe has called the laws a
government attempt to "muzzle all voices of dissent" in order to stay in
The privately-owned Daily News had the highest circulation in the country.
The newspaper regularly published articles critical of the Mugabe
government, which calls the publication a mouthpiece for Zimbabwe's
Media groups have criticized the paper's closure and the Commonwealth has
threatened to take take tougher action against Harare.
ZIMBABWE: Newspaper closure heightens concerns over media freedom
JOHANNESBURG, 15 Sep 2003 (IRIN) - Media rights groups on
to voice their concern over a decision last week by Zimbabwe's government to
shut down the offices of the Daily News, the country's only independent
The Daily News was closed on Friday, a day after the Supreme Court dismissed
an application by Associated Newspapers of Zimbabwe (ANZ), challenging the
constitutionality of the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act
(AIPPA). The Court ruled that the ANZ had to register under the act before
its petition could be heard.
ANZ is the publisher of The Daily News and The Daily News on Sunday.
"The shutdown is definitely a blow to media freedom in Zimbabwe and sets a
bad precedent across Southern Africa. It sends a signal to other regional
leaders that it is okay to close down media outlets who dare to challenge
the authority of the government. More importantly though, this decision
affects not only the livelihoods of the journalists, but also those who are
involved in daily operations of the newspapers," Media Institute of Southern
Africa (MISA) researcher Zoe Titus told IRIN.
MISA urged regional and international leaders to step up pressure on the
government to reverse the decision. "MISA is concerned that there isn't
enough pressure brought on the government by the international community to
amend some of the draconian media laws," Titus said.
In a show of solidarity with the Daily News, the South African National
Editors' Forum (SANEF) has called for the decision to be "immediately
The South African Press Association (SAPA) reported the editors' forum as
saying the action demonstrated the regime's cynical contempt for democratic
public opinion. SANEF concluded that no political solution would be possible
in Zimbabwe as long as free speech was repressed.
Meanwhile, the main opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) has
voiced its concern. "The regime continues to trample on all the rights and
freedoms of Zimbabweans with impunity. Sadly, there are some nations and
international organisations that continue to voice support for this violent
regime ... giving it the determination to continue repressing the people,"
the MDC said in a statement.
However, the government Media and Information Commission chairman, Tafataona
Mahoso, told Reuters: "There is freedom of the press here, but there is no
freedom to act as an outlaw."
"We registered almost all the other private newspapers which applied, but
these people chose to play to the gallery, and now want to [cry] foul
because the law has caught up with them," Mahoso said.
International Federation for Human rights
Press Release Zimbabwe
Closure of a main independent newspaper
Paris, 15th September 2003 - The International Federation for Human Rights
(FIDH) and ZimRights, its affiliate organization, unreservedly and
vigorously condemn the closure of one of the few independent media in
Zimbabwe, the Daily News. The newspaper was closed after a police raid in
the newspaper’s office on Friday, September 12th, 2003, which also resulted
in the arrest of its editor in chief, Nqobile Nyathi, and the director of
publication, Simon Ngena. They were subsequently released.
The closure followed a supreme court ruling according to which the Daily
News was operating “illegally”, as it does not have a valid licence under
the terms of the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act
(AIPPA), that was adopted on March 2002.
The Daily News has submitted today an application for registration to the
Media and Information Commission, led by Mr Tafataona Mahoso, who had been
appointed by the Zimbabwean Minister of Information and Publicity in the
present office, Mr Jonathan Moyo.
The FIDH, a delegation of which has just returned from Zimbabwe, and
ZimRights hold the view that, under the semblance of a judicial decision,
this closure is a political move aimed at further stifling free and
independent voices in the country. The FIDH and ZimRights also fear that the
decision to grant a licence to the Daily News may be unnecessarily delayed.
The Daily News and its staff have often in the past been targeted by the
authorities because of its independent stance; however, the closure seems to
mark a turn in the authorities’ spiral of repression, and a hardening of the
government’s position against groups or individuals perceived to be too
critical of its decisions.
The FIDH and ZimRights remind the Zimbabwean authorities that a free and
independent media is a vital component of any functioning democracy. The
FIDH and ZimRights recall that Article 19(2) of the International Covenant
for Civil and Political Rights, ratified by Zimbabwe provides that «
Everyone shall have the right to freedom of expression; this right shall
include freedom to seek, receive and impart information and ideas of all
kinds, regardless of frontiers, either orally, in writing or in print, in
the form of art, or through any other media of his choice. » Unfortunately,
it appears that the Zimbabwean government, in a desperate attempt to salvage
its hold on power, is now turning to a strategy of blind repression.
Whose Head Needs to Be Examined?
September 15, 2003
Posted to the web September 15, 2003
Sunday Talk with Pius Wakatama
IT is said power corrupts
and absolute power corrupts absolutely.
In Zimbabwe power has not only absolutely corrupted the ruling elite. To
borrow Archbishop Desmond Tutu's language, I must say absolute power has
made Zanu PF rulers "go bonkers in a big way." It has removed them so far
from reality that they now live in a Zimbabwe of their own which, for them,
is flowing with milk and honey while the rest of the country is starving to
Zimbabweans are fleeing the country in their thousands to escape
the political and economic crisis Zimbabwe is now mired in. A number of them
in the United States of America are currently requesting that country to
grant them Temporary Protection Status. Such status would grant illegal
Zimbabwean immigrants immunity from deportation until Zimbabwe's political
and economic crisis is resolved.
Movement for Democratic Change shadow minister for foreign affairs, Moses
Mzila Ndlovu, said this appeal by Zimbabweans in America is justified.
He said: "These people are directly contributing to the economy because of
foreign currency they send home. It would be unreasonable for the US
government to repatriate them back home to face the kind of poverty we are
facing right now. It is imperative that the US government grants Zimbabweans
However, according to The Daily News, Zanu PF secretary for external
affairs, Didymus Mutasa, does not see things that way. He said Zimbabweans
abroad were out to spread falsehoods about their mother country.
"Everything is normal in Zimbabwe and anyone who thinks otherwise should
have his head examined. They should not use silly excuses to stay in the
US," Mutasa said.
Please, tell me. Who is it that needs to be examined by a psychiatrist? The
exiles in the United States and Mzila Ndlovu or Didymus Mutasa and other
Zanu PF sycophants who think like him?
Actually, Mutasa may be right for he is only talking about the Zimbabwe he,
himself, lives in. You see, we no longer live in the same country for there
is a Zanu PF Zimbabwe of plenty and the real Zimbabwe of poverty and sorrow.
When you are well-fed and living like royalty you tend to conclude that
those foraging for food in dustbins and standing for days and nights in
endless queues, including those for visas to foreign countries, are all mad.
This is what happened in France. When people started to riot their
oppressive rulers did not understand what all the fuss was about. Queen
Antoinette asked what all the commotion was about. When she was told people
were over-taxed and hungry for there was no bread, she said: "Why don't they
eat cake, then?"
A few weeks later, her head and the heads of the whole ruling elite rolled
off the guillotine like so many lifeless loaves of bread.
People can be oppressed and tortured for some time but finally they will
revolt. Indeed, the outcome of what is going on in Zimbabwe today is just
too ghastly to even contemplate. What happened in France, the former Zaire,
Uganda, Ethiopia, Romania, Czechoslovakia' Liberia, Somalia and elsewhere,
may be like picnics compared to the results of the concoction being brewed
in Zimbabwe today.
Didymus Mutasa calls life in Zimbabwe today "normal". Is he the same Didymus
Mutasa I know or is he a different person?
I first met Didymus when I visited my friend Silas "Sacha" Machakaire who
was resident at the newly established Cold Comfort Farm co-operative in
Tynwald, Harare. We were being shown around the farm by the late Molly and
Guy Clutton-Brock when Didymus chugged up in a rickety Model-T-Ford. He was
then a scraggly young man with very high ideals. When he described to me the
philosophy behind the Cold Comfort Farm co-operative and his vision for a
free Zimbabwe, I was left mesmerised. He became one of my heroes, especially
after the People's Caretaker Council was formed at the farm to become the
vanguard party for the people's struggle against colonialism.
Yes, he is the same man.
I understand he now wants to be president or vice-president of Zimbabwe.
Heaven help us! This goes to prove that unless one humbles themselves before
God and man power can change them and blind them with vain self glory so
that they fail to see the truth and the reality before them. In Zimbabwe,
such people have grabbed, looted and plundered in the fashion of Haggar the
Horrible that they are now so fat that lard literally oozes from the backs
of their necks. My mother used to say of such filthy-rich people,"vave
In order to keep body and soul together, I do most of my business by phone.
It is now a month since I reported a fault to the responsible authority,
Net* One. Up to now my phone is not working. Other people have told me my
problem is not unique. To me this is not normal. I have lived in normal
countries and phones are repaired, at most, within 24 hours of reporting a
fault. Anyone, therefore, who goes about babbling that Zimbabwe is a normal
country needs to have his head examined by professional brain doctors.
Recently Zimbabwe went, cap in hand, to the UNDP to beg for food.
Because of President Mugabe's ill-conceived, illegal and often violent
programme to seize thousands of productive farms from the white minority for
redistribution to so-called poor, landless blacks, the country is now
without adequate food supplies. The UNDP has now gone to the international
community, composed mainly of the ruling party's hated white enemies, to
appeal for $39,9 billion dollars to feed 5,5 million starving Zimbabweans
and for socio-economic programmes meant to help the country out of the
For anyone to call this pathetic scenario normal is mind-boggling indeed.
There is really no need to have the heads of such people examined. It would
be a waste of money in consultation fees. They should just be committed to
proper places where they can receive appropriate treatment. I have heard it
from authoritative sources, though, that their ailment, like HIV/Aids,
cannot be treated by any known medicine. They first have to be removed from
their positions of power and they will regain their senses after a short
period. Much wisdom and firmness needs to be used, though. They enjoy their
present status so much that they will cunningly use all means possible to
maintain it. This includes rape, imprisonment, torture and even murder.
In Zimbabwe two members of the opposition MDC party were gruesomely
murdered. The suspected killers are well known. A Judge of the High Court
actually ordered that the suspects be apprehended and investigations
undertaken. Nothing happened. The police only take orders from the ruling
party politicians and not judges of the courts of justice. The rule of law
is now non-existent in "normal" Zimbabwe. The law of the jungle reigns
supreme. According to all human standards, anyone who calls such behaviour,
as is taking place in Zimbabwe, normal is himself stark raving mad.
Fellow Zimbabweans, lets stop playing foolish political games with the lives
of people and be honest with each other. Can a country where citizens
deposit their hard-earned money into banks for safe keeping and to earn a
little interest but when they want to withdraw their money to buy the
necessities of life, they are told the banks have no money be called a
Of course, our Zanu PF leaders live in a world of their own where they have
special facilities for them to withdraw their money, most of it ill-gotten.
They don't understand us when we say that this country is not normal by any
stretch of the imagination
Recently, the so called Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary
Affairs, Patrick Chinamasa told the people of Manicaland Province that if
they did not vote for a Zanu PF candidate, the government would continue to
withhold development in their area as it has done for the past 23 years.
Is this normal behaviour in a democracy, even one such as we have in this
country? Development money comes from the labour and sweat of all
Zimbabweans regardless of their political affiliation. For anyone to try and
use national funds for party political gain is despicable, to say the least.
Anyone who says everything is normal in Zimbabwe when unelected leaders can
so intimidate honest and loyal citizens, needs to have his head examined so
that doctors can see whether he has gone "bonkers in a big way" or not.
He who has ears to hear, let him hear.