Harare plans counter protests at UN Sat 17 September
2005 HARARE - The Zimbabwe government has organised to have its supporters
stage demonstrations at the United Nations today in support of President
Robert Mugabe to counter planned anti-Mugabe protests at the same venue, a
top Harare official said on Friday.
A group of Zimbabwean
exiles calling themselves, Association of Zimbabweans Based Abroad, will
today hold demonstrations at the UN's New York headquarters in a bid to draw
the attention of the world body to Zimbabwe's five-year old political and
But State Security Minister Didymus Mutasa said
the Harare administration had planned counter protests to show the world it
had supporters beyond Zimbabwe's borders.
"We knew all along
that our enemies will use the UN meeting to paint us black in front of the
world," said Mutasa, who is a close confidante of Mugabe and oversees state
intelligence, food aid distribution and land reforms.
have our own supporters and sympathisers who understand our cause. They will
hold demonstrations in our support. We have organised that and plans are in
place. The world will have a chance to see that we have supporters, even
beyond our borders," he added.
are meeting in New York for the UN Summit and Zimbabwean exiles, many of
whom fled home because of hunger or persecution by Mugabe's government, say
they want to use the platform provided by the summit to showcase the veteran
Mugabe addressed the Summit on Wednesday and
attacked the West for his country's problems.
grappling its worst economic crisis that has manifested itself in shortages
of fuel, food, electricity hard cash and almost every other basic
Critics blame the crisis on repression and misrule by
Mugabe, chiefly his seizure of land from white farmers that destabilised the
mainstay agriculture sector and in a large part contributed to perennial
food shortages in the country.
But Mugabe, who has ruled
Zimbabwe since independence from Britain in 1980, denies ruining the once
prosperous country and instead blames his country's problems on sabotage by
Western governments out to fix Harare for seizing land from whites to
resettle landless blacks. - ZimOnline
Zimbabwe opposition, civic groups meet to push for new
constitution Sat 17 September 2005
HARARE - Zimbabwe opposition,
churches, labour and other civic groups meet in Harare today to plot ways to
push for a new and democratic constitution for the crisis-ridden
But President Robert Mugabe and his ruling ZANU PF party,
who last month used their absolute control of Parliament to force through
controversial constitutional changes, are boycotting the meeting saying
there is nothing to be gained from the meeting.
A top official
of the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR), organisers of the
conference, said ZANU PF was invited but added that the groups would press
on with their search for a new constitution even if Mugabe and his party
boycotted the process.
"We will not be worried if one or two groups
do not come, all we did was to send invites to all stakeholders, including
the MDC and ZANU PF," said ZLHR director Arnold Tsunga.
MDC has confirmed (that it will attend) but we did not get a response from
ZANU PF . . . but that is not of concern to us if it (ZANU PF) does not
come," Tsunga said.
ZANU PF spokesman Nathan Shamuyarira was
dismissive of today's gathering labelling it an academic gathering that will
not achieve anything. He told ZimOnline: "What will that conference achieve?
It must be a gathering of people who want (to produce) some academic
writings about constitutional reforms."
Among the groups
scheduled to attend are the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions, the Zimbabwe
Council of Churches, Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition, the National
Constitutional Assembly, Zimbabwe National Students Union, Zimbabwe
Liberators Platform and the Zimbabwe Union of Journalists.
last month used its control of Parliament to railroad through the House a
cocktail of constitutional amendments that became effective law after Mugabe
signed them on September 9.
Under the new constitutional changes,
white farmers are banned from contesting in court seizure of their land by
The new law also empowers the state to seize
passports from citizens it deems may harm its interests by travelling to
But human rights groups say the government will
use the law to ban opposition leaders and other critics from travelling
outside the country to highlight state repression.
constitutional amendment also provides for a new senate that analysts say
will further strengthen Mugabe and ZANU PF's stranglehold on
The government denies its constitutional reforms limit
civil liberties and freedoms, for example arguing it needs to curtail the
movement of citizens it accuses of calling for sanctions against the
A government-sponsored proposed new constitution was
rejected by Zimbabweans five years ago after the opposition and civic groups
campaigned against it in a national referendum saying it would have further
entrenched the Mugabe government. - ZimOnline
MDC postpones Senate decision Sat 17 September
HARARE - Zimbabwe's main opposition Movement for Democratic
Change (MDC) party on Friday postponed yet again a decision whether to
contest an impending senate election, in what could be a signal of widening
divisions in the party over the matter.
The opposition party
that vehemently opposed but failed to stop the passing of constitutional
amendments providing for the setting up of the senate had in the past weeks
indicated its national executive committee would decide whether it will
contest in the poll that President Robert Mugabe has said will take place
But party spokesman Paul Themba Nyathi told
ZimOnline the executive had not taken a decision on the matter instead
referring it to the party's national council.
Nyathi said: "We
will have a national council meeting very soon so we can get rid of this
matter as soon as possible."
He would not be drawn to disclose the
details of the executive committee's recommendation to the council nor would
he say when exactly the council would be meeting to thrash out the election
Hinting at possible deepening division in the opposition
party over the matter, Nyathi said there were "strong feelings either way"
on the election issue, adding that the council would however have the final
MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai has openly urged his party to
boycott the senate poll saying participating would be tantamount to
endorsing Mugabe's unilateral and controversial constitutional
The MDC and its civic society allies has called for an all
inclusive and people-driven process to rewrite Zimbabwe's British-drafted
constitution. But Mugabe and ZANU PF insist Parliament, which they
absolutely control should pen the country's supreme document.
Tsvangirai also says by contesting the poll, the MDC which claims it was
defrauded of victory by Mugabe and ZANU PF in the last three elections,
would have virtually endorsed that same fraudulent electoral
But some within the party argue that the MDC, which has 41
members in the House of Assembly, cannot be in one chamber of Parliament and
stay out of the other.
The MDC would also be surrendering
political space to Mugabe and ZANU PF by boycotting the senate, they say. -
Zimbabwe loan talks fall silent after IMF
September 16, 2005, 18:30
talks over a possible loan to help cash-strapped Zimbabwe have fallen silent
since the International Monetary Fund (IMF) gave Harare a six-month reprieve
from possible expulsion. Officials from both countries had been discussing
terms for South Africa to provide funds to stave off expulsion from the IMF
and assist third parties in the purchase of food and fuel, both subject to
severe shortages in Zimbabwe.
However, Joel Netshitenzhe, the
government spokesperson, today said there had been no contact between
officials since an IMF board meeting last Friday, which deferred any
decision on expelling Zimbabwe for up to six months, the third such
postponement in just over a year.
"Since the IMF meeting there has
been no contact to my knowledge," Netshitenzhe told journalists, although he
declined to comment on speculation that the loan talks had effectively
ended. "There was an exchange of documents and an agreement that discussions
would continue ... Our understanding is that the Zimbabweans would like to
have discussions on other matters apart from the IMF," he said.
Netshitenzhe suggested the size of any loan now discussed, may be reduced in
line with the surprise $120 million payment that Zimbabwe made to the IMF
last month, which still leaves it owing $175 million to the fund. "I suppose
it (the loan amount) would be impacted by the amount that they have paid to
the IMF," Netshitenzhe said.
Source of donation not clear
It is unclear exactly where the Zimbabwean government got the money for that
payment, although analysts say it may well have come from a variety of
sources including hard currency set aside from platinum exports and friendly
foreign governments. Zimbabwe's economy is mired in crisis, with chronic
shortages of fuel and foreign currency compounded by inflation which topped
265% in the year to August. The economy has shrunk by about a third during
the past six years.
Netshitenzhe repeated South Africa's official
position that it had not tried to tie any political conditions to the loan,
only normal conditions to ensure repayment. "With any loan you have to
(ensure) proper means to repay and economic recovery. We are not talking
about conditionality," he said. However, diplomats and South African
officials have said Pretoria has indeed attached conditions of a political
nature to any eventual financial assistance.
Zimbabwean president, has insisted through his spokesperson that no such
conditions will be accepted for any loan, suggesting it would undermine the
sovereignty of the country he has led since independence from Britain in
1980. Critics accuse Mugabe (81) of triggering the collapse of Zimbabwe's
economy by seizing white-owned farms for landless black Zimbabweans, while
he in turn accuses the opposition and western opponents led by Britain of
sabotaging the economy. - Reuters
Harare - Zimbabwe's central bank chief has rapped key sectors
for failing to remit export earnings of US$150m at a time when the country
is short of foreign currency, the state-controlled Herald newspaper said on
Gideon Gono told senior business leaders that those with
outstanding dues to the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe would be hunted down, the
"The agriculture sector owes us close to $8m,
manufacturing $17m, mining $53m, tobacco $15m," he said.
services and other sectors owed the central bank the rest of the $150m,
adding: "We will be pursuing those with overdue amounts."
lobbying by Gono in Washington, Zimbabwe got a six-month reprieve earlier
this month when the International Monetary Fund deferred a decision to expel
Harare for debt arrears.
This was after Harare - in arrears since 2001 -
in a suprise move paid back $120m of its debt. The remaining debt to the IMF
now stands at around $175m.
According to sources close to the government,
Zimbabwe will now try and pay back $50m in the next six months.
2005 Posted to the web September 16, 2005
low at the Harare and Chitungwiza magistrates' courts yesterday after the
Zimbabwe Prison Services failed to bring prisoners due to the obtaining fuel
Prisoners who were supposed to come for routine remand had to be
remanded in absentia while other cases at different stages had to be
postponed to later dates.
Witnesses were also turned away and warned
of new dates for the same cases.
Senior court officials at the Harare
magistrates' courts confirmed yesterday that the failure by the prison
authorities to bring prisoners to court was due to the lack of
Some lawyers with incarcerated clients had to make different
applications for the clients in their absence.
officers could be seen milling around at the court premises while others
manned the courtrooms for new people who had to be remanded in
At the Chitungwiza magistrates' courts, the prisoners were
last seen on Friday last week but the prison officers were attending court
proceedings, processing warrants of detention and warrants of liberation
while the suspects were remanded in absentia.
situation was made worse as all the prison officers failed to appear at the
There were no warrants of detention or liberation processed for
all those who were in remand prison or removed from remand since prison
officers normally process the documents.
'Zim Working Out Modalities to Be Self-Sufficient in
The Herald (Harare)
2005 Posted to the web September 16, 2005
working out modalities that will enable it to be self-sufficient and stop
importing electricity by 2007, the Zimbabwe Electricity Regulatory
Commiss-ion (ZERC) said yesterday.
The Commission said this during a
meeting with Vice President Cde Joice Mujuru in Harare yesterday.
2007, Zimbabwe will not import electricity from the DRC (Democratic Republic
of Congo) or South Africa and is currently working towards generating enough
electricity for the country," the Commission said.
ZERC, chaired by
commissioner-general Dr Mavis Chidz-onga, also outlined some of the problems
and challenges faced by Zesa Holdings.
According to Newsnet, during the
meeting, Cde Mujuru said the problem was that plans were only on paper but
were not being implemented.
ZERC is an independent regulatory body
established in August 2003 against the background of a monopolistic
electricity industry where the Zesa had been the sole provider of
The commission's prime function is to establish and regulate
an effective electricity supply structure, to create a level field to enable
competition and to licence and regulate all companies involved in the
generation, transmission and distribution of electricity.
seeks to create, promote and preserve efficient industry and market
structures for the provision of electricity services and to ensure the
optimal utilisation of resources for the provision of such services.
The Zimbabwe National Army has issued a directive blocking
all retirements until after the 2008 presidential election. A colonel in the
army told Newsreel his application for retirement was blocked, even though
he has reached the 20 year service ceiling for employment in the army. The
other criteria is that upon reaching the age of fifty you are allowed to
quit the army. That in principle is how the army structures its
Whatever is happening in the upper echelons of power
has forced a rethink. Retired Army Colonel Essau Sibanda says Mugabe does
not trust the young soldiers to fill the shoes of the senior officials. The
army is dominated by veterans of Zimbabwe's liberation war and most of these
are trusted by the ruling party. Colonel Sibanda senses a desire by the
government to hang on to the soldiers it trusts, rather than to make way for
A few days back we reported how a crippling food
crisis has led to junior army officers being sent home from barracks
following the army's failure to feed them. The police force and the prison
service have also been badly affected. The move has proved unpopular with
some of the soldiers who live far from the barracks and have to face
transport nightmares due to the current fuel
Food shortages looming while government hides crucial information
By Tererai Karimakwenda 16 September 2005
The veil of
secrecy surrounding Zimbabwe's food situation has thickened as the shortages
have become more unmanageable. It is as though the officials in charge are
afraid to reveal the truth because they think the public would panic. But
Zimbabweans who have been standing in queues and searching for food on the
black market know by now that the shortages are real. The whole country is
aware that there is a shortage of food, fuel, seeds, fertiliser, foreign
currency and so on and so on. To deny is dangerously
Last week the permanent secretary in the agriculture
ministry, Simon Pazvakavambwa, dared to tell the truth at a meeting of
business leaders. He said that the country had only three weeks' supply of
maize in stock. For this Pazvakavambwa was reprimanded. The man should
actually be praised. In South Africa and other countries, grain statistics
are made available to the public. Yet Zimbabwean officials continue to guard
this vital information.
Didymus Mutasa's state security ministry
has been given the task of managing the food crisis. But he seems to be
managing it like a spy agency, keeping crucial information from concerned
stakeholders. Maize and wheat have been designated "strategic grains" and
information about them is "classified". There is also a five-member
ministerial taskforce on grain, which Mutasa runs as well. It includes
Agriculture Minister Joseph Made, Finance Minister Herbert Murerwa, Local
Government Minister Ignatius Chombo and Social Welfare Minister Nicholas
Goche. Unfortunately, there is nothing any of them can do. Critics say they
are simply part of the problem.
Government has also turned to the
United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) seeking assistance to boost
agricultural production. On Thursday Agriculture minister Joseph Made met
UNDP officials. According to reports, Made said they were reviewing the
whole agricultural sector but nothing concrete was
The national executive of the MDC began their key meeting
on Friday to decide on a possible boycott of Senate elections set for the
end of this year.
Party spokesman Maxwell Zimuto said a
decision on the outcome of the meeting was expected later on Friday. The
opposition party holds 41 seats in the 150 seat Parliament, and has already
dismissed the upper house as a distraction from Zimbabwe's mounting economic
and political troubles.
Bekithemba Mhlanga, a political
analyst, said the MDC should stick to its word and boycott the elections
because the party has from the onset vigorously campaigned against the
re-introduction of the Senate.
The 66-member upper house of
Parliament will comprise 10 traditional chiefs, 50 elected senators and six
appointed by Robert Mugabe. Other clauses in the widely condemned
constitutional reforms include provisions barring white farmers from legally
challenging land grabs and preventing government critics from travelling
outside the country.
Harare, Zimbabwe, 09/16 - The central bank in Zimbabwe Thursday
raised interest rates, the fifth time in two months, in a bid to contain
The unsecured repo rate went up 10 percentage
points to 290 percent from 280 percent, and the secured one to 280 percent
from 270 percent.
The latest hike, which follows another two and half
weeks ago, was in response to August inflation figures released earlier in
the week which showed 10 percentage point increase on the July figure to
Zimbabwe is grappling with a sustained economic crisis,
underlined by high inflation, lack of foreign currency and food
But the central bank says inflation posed the greatest danger
to the economy, and has been using interest rates to contain it.
had planned to reduce it to 80 percent by year-end, but the target appears
Wildlife dies in Zimbabwe drought HARARE -
Elephants and buffaloes are dying of starvation in a wildlife-rich area of
western Zimbabwe, the state-controlled Herald reported Friday. The
paper said at least four elephant calves and several buffaloes had died
recently in the Matetsi area near Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe's prime tourist
resort. "I am aware that several buffaloes were reported dead in the
last three weeks," Tourism Minister Francis Nhema was quoted as
saying. A wildlife expert blamed the drought for the deaths.
"What is happening does not surprise me because we received poor rains the
last season and animals during this time tend to walk long distances to get
water and in search of appropriate food. "It is during these long
journeys ... that they suffer from malnutrition and the vulnerable
eventually die," Chris Foggin of the Department of Veterinary Service told
the Herald. Comments from an official from the Parks and Wildlife
Management Authority show Zimbabwe's current diesel shortage may also be
partly to blame. The authority's spokesman Edward Mbewe said there
was a "delay in diesel supplies, which is used to pump water engines
scattered across the sanctuary," the Herald said. He said the animals rely
on pumped water for drinking. But Mbewe said it was also possible
the elephants had died "of a mysterious disease". Zimbabwe's
once-thriving wildlife sector has taken a knock since the launch of the
government's land reform programme five years ago, which saw several
privately-run wildlife conservancies invaded by settlers searching for land
to farm. - Sapa-dpa. 16/09/2005 17:10:50
A new scramble for Africa is
taking place, with transnational corporations (TNCs) vastly expanding mining
operations on the continent for hugely increased amounts of raw
This time they are aided not by imperial governments, as
in the 1880s when the term "Scramble for Africa" was first used, but by
subsidies from post-colonial African governments.
from the latest Unctad (United Nations Conference on Trade and development)
report on foreign direct investment in Africa. Following the publication of
the organisation's latest co-efficients, which found that the gap between
the rich and the poor is by far the highest in Africa, the report reinforces
a diagnosis of the continent as being at the mercy of alliances among TNCs
and self-enriching local elites.
Top of the roost in such a
diagnosis would be the continent's oiligarchies - "all but one of the top 10
FDI recipients in 2003 had significant mineral and petroleum reserves," says
the report. In most of these countries rich families or clans stay in power
by using receipts from oil concessions to dispense jobs and favours to
supporters and sycophants.
The best example remains Zimbabwe, where
taxation of foreign mining companies - often South African-based - allows
the Zanu-PF core to stay immune from the dreadful outcomes of president
Robert Mugabe's erratic revolutionary experiments.
Globalisation and the telecommunications revolution has steadily eroded what
little power Third World governments had to try to control the renewed
invasions by TNCs who are always several steps ahead through their constant
retooling of technologies. They have little power to combat concerted drives
- backed by highly-paid teams of legal eagles - to override constitutional
measures standing in the way of TNC activities.
On the ground the
tangible result is a new form of annexation, the seizure of slivers of land
that carry pipelines and other infrastructure and which is under full
control of TNCs and their private security companies. Especially in Africa
such annexes have been turned into what is for all practical purposes
foreign soil, off limits to local citizens who are not menial or sex
The Unctad presented the picture in stark figures to the
world on Tuesday. Foreign direct investment (FDI) in Africa increased more
than ninefold from the 1980s to 2004 to $18 billion annually.
Unctad chose to assume that the governments courting FDI were acting with
altruistic motives, and had high "expectations" for the populations they
claim to represent. So Unctad Secretary-General Supachai Panitchpakdi's
verdict came across as rather euphemistic: "The expectation for FDI to
create growth, to create diversification, technology spillover and jobs has
not really been fully realised."
A press release continued with
the exercise in understatement, saying that "benefits for anyone but the
investors have been few". However, it could not avoid dropping tell-tale
phrases pointing to the real state of affairs.
countries have opened their doors to foreign investors, in the process
offering "incentives" the press release calls "a kind of
The report continues that "the idea that Africa is a
reluctant host to foreign capital is a myth", a startling statement in the
light of, for instance, Zimbabwe's desperate struggle to lay hands on some
American dollars to pay for fuel.
"On the contrary, the Report
notes, attracting FDI has become the industrial policy of choice for many
governments ... displacing policies to nurture local firms and encourage
Less kind observers might remark that all of
this means African officials prefer to work on the cocktail and canape
circuit, laying the groundwork for bribes, rather than help their
compatriots to set up their own businesses. The press release does talk, to
be fair, of a "race to the bottom", as African officials compete among each
other in a free market of bribes.
In the 1880s the pattern of
foreign endeavour was set early, with foreign "compounds" being built, and
colonial forces ready with their Gatling machine guns to keep the "natives"
away from them.
Today these are replaced with high walls,
electrified fences and ill-trained security companies - similar to the
apartheid-style "golf estates" slammed recently by president Thabo Mbeki -
and they safeguard "natives" and foreigners.
increasingly display Taiwanese architecture, as African governments have at
least developed Look East policies similar to that of Mugabe and former
Namibian president Sam Nujoma to build their new governmental
Such FDI laagers are called "investment enclaves" by
Unctad, where capital remained locked and did little to help the surrounding
"FDI flows were heavily concentrated in terms of both
home and host countries, largely attracted to enclaves of export-oriented
primary production using imported technology and intermediate inputs. This
has proved a persistent legacy; up to 80% of annual flows in the 1990s were
still going to the primary sector."
Which means that the same
firms that exploited Africa in the last century before the last, are still
doing so, albeit under new names and brands. Indeed, "history has a habit of
repeating itself," the report observes. "In the past, foreign firms steered
a development course for Africa at odds with local needs."
African officials and politicians who cash in while the cow lasts, are
described thus: "Failure to consider these costs can orient the incentive
structure toward quick returns, speculative investments and short-term
The more things change, the more they stay the same.
At least Unctad is new.