|The ZIMBABWE Situation||Our
thoughts and prayers are with Zimbabwe |
- may peace, truth and justice prevail.
Zimbabwean civic leaders have attended a symposium in Johannesburg to
discuss abuses of human rights and justice in their country.
Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum chairman Albert Musarurwa said the situation
was so serious that concerted efforts to solve it were required at regional
Musarurwa said human-rights activists were living in fear.
activists in Zimbabwe are vulnerable and can be easily
targeted and arrested at will. The police are actually at the forefront of
harassing human- rights activists," he said.
He said the arbitrary conduct of war veterans
and the ruling Zanu-PF's youth
militia, coupled with police inaction, made it difficult for activists to
reach victims of abuses, particularly in rural areas.
War veterans and the youth militia took note of everyone who
villages they operated in, he said.
In cases where
activists manage to disguise themselves and approach victims,
the latter were reluctant to open up because of the traumatic experiences
they had been subjected to.
"Even if you get access to these individuals or
communities, there is always
the problem that they will not be able to open up.
"That's how haunted these communities are. They don't feel secure
you the nature and the extent of the abuse they have suffered.
"Most of them know of some people who have been killed
while attempting to
exert their right to draw attention to their concerns through peaceful
assembly," said Musarurwa.
The intimidation also
affected lawyers who represented victims of state
Moyo, chairman of the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights, said
intimidation and abuse her colleagues faced were serious.
said threats had been made against her colleagues for representing
"enemies of the state".
The police had become politicised and did not
appreciate that lawyers were
professionals who could represent anyone, irrespective of his or her
She said it had
now become common for lawyers to be threatened, assaulted or
even locked up whenever they sought access to their clients at police
Moyo said the police often refused lawyers access
to clients or simply moved
them from one police station to another, making it difficult to find them.
"You will never know where your client is
being held and it can take up to
two days to find them, having been made to drive to several police stations.
"But you don't face the same
problem when representing a common criminal,
whom you easily have access to compared to political victims," said Moyo.
When a lawyer eventually
established where the victims were being held, Moyo
said the problem became getting in as the police sometimes locked the gates
at police stations.
She said station commanders sometimes professed ignorance
detention of people, saying they had been arrested not by their officers but
by the "law and order section".
"They tell you that
they have no right to interfere in arrests carried out
by the law and order section and their stations have nothing to do with the
victims except to accommodate them on behalf of their counterparts.
"Even if you get a
court order compelling them to allow us access, it
doesn't change anything.
"The relevant police officers also evade lawyers to avoid
being served with
papers compelling them to grant us access."
said the courts also hindered lawyers, particularly when they filed
She said lawyers sometimes found it difficult to locate
the court registrar
to facilitate the hearing of the application. When they did, it took a long
time for judgment to be given on matters that needed quick relief.
The government's undermining of the independence of the
judiciary had also
severely curtailed any possibility of redress for wrongs done to citizens.
"The worst problem, though, is the sheer disregard
of court orders by the
government and its agencies.
"You get a
court order granting relief to your client, but you never get the
relief served because the government decides that it's not going to obey a
court order and doesn't recognise it as binding."
Moyo said lawyers also
encountered difficulties with the judiciary, as most
judges were new to the Bench and took longer to research and deliver
that changes in the political scenario will bring a certain degree
of relief to our situation because most lawyers are leaving the country due
to the frustrations of sheer disregard of the law," Moyo said.
of Zimbabwe president Sternford Moyo said his organisation had
managed to remain united and professional despite the harassment of lawyers
who represented opposition officials and sympathisers.
He said his
society had always condemned attacks aimed at discouraging
lawyers from conducting their duties or from representing particular
"A number of lawyers were attacked because
of their representation of
clients during the last two years.
"Such attacks work against the interests of justice because an
administration of justice is impossible to achieve unless a country has
independent lawyers who are free to represent any client without fear or
"A lawyer's office is the first stopping point in the
enforcement of any
rights and liberties which are guaranteed by the constitution," Moyo said.
He said when lawyers were not free to
represent clients without fear, the
rights and freedoms guaranteed by the constitution of a country were reduced
to pious declarations.
When Nashvillians David and Pam
Kidd met 10-year-old Lamek one morning four
years ago, he was climbing out of a sewer in Harare, Zimbabwe. It was time
for breakfast, brought in by the ''tea-and-bread'' lady in her rattle-trap
of a car - one of the only safe ways for a kid to get a meal.
''We came to know orphans on the street who had wandered in from the
villages to live - in sewers, boxes, Dumpsters, eating scraps of food from
outside restaurants,'' said David Kidd, minister at Hillsboro Presbyterian
Church who, along with his wife Pam, has traveled several times to Zimbabwe.
Their mission: to help Zimbabwe's children, who have been turned into
orphans by the AIDS pandemic.
''When we first met Lamek, his father was already dead of AIDS, and his
mother has since died,'' David Kidd says. On one of their earlier trips, the
Kidds bought a bale of the clothes sold for very little in Harare for
Lamek's mother to sell in the family's village on the city's outskirts - in
hopes that the boy would go back home to live and go to school.
''But he preferred the streets because home was so bad, with the poverty,
his mother's condition, crime,'' David recalls. ''AIDS has broken down the
reliable aspects of life in Zimbabwe's villages.''
Escape to the city streets is not an escape from AIDS, though.
''Some of the kids - 6, 7, 8 years old - are lured to cars to get food, then
are raped by infected men,'' according to Kidd. ''Many of them sniff glue,
which is cheap to buy, to cover up the hunger.''
Melva Black of Nashville tells about one of the myths that have helped AIDS
spread among children in South Africa.
''One myth says that if a man has sex with a virgin, he won't get AIDS, so
rape grows,'' she says. ''Some of the victims are 6 to 9 years old.''
Black, of the Metropolitan Interdenominational Church, along with the
church's pastor, the Rev. Ed Sanders, runs Partners for Life, a faith-based
program here that teams up to help orphanages in South Africa, where there
are an estimated 4.2 million people infected with the AIDS virus. The
mission, she says, is to ''help children find shelter, food and clothing.''
''In the United States, we hear HIV/AIDS and we think of adults, but in
Haiti, South America, Africa and other places, especially South Africa, it's
about children,'' Black says.
She and David Kidd agree that the price of the pandemic could be a
''This young generation could be wiped out by 2005,'' Black says. ''The
challenge to the faith community is that we are one global family, and no
family goes untouched by this pandemic.''
Kidd tells how some church youth groups in Zimbabwe raise money to try and
help - by building coffins, a highly marketable commodity. ''You will see
them along the street, with signs, raising money like our youth groups do
here. Except they build coffins.''
The Kidds last saw Lamek 18 months ago, still on the streets of Harare,
still not in school. ''He is hungry all the time.'' David recalls. ''His arm
had been severely burned during an argument with older boys - an open sore
that hadn't been treated at all.
''He had not been infected with HIV, but there is a good chance he will be.
He is old enough to be sexually active.''
A glimmer of hope in Harare is Joan, the tea-and-bread lady. When the Kidds
first met her four years ago, she was living with her child in a cold-water
flat subsisting on what she made as a part-time bookkeeper. Still, she took
it on herself to help out the children on the streets.
''When we returned to Nashville from that trip,'' David Kidd says, ''we
appealed to our congregation, and with the help of the Outreach Foundation
in Franklin and other generous people, we raised the money to buy her a
better car and pay her a salary so she can work full time caring for street
Thanks to the generosity here in Nashville, Kidd was able to buy ''a
compound, just a few buildings within a wall, where Joan and her son live.
''She has been able to hire several staff members. We were able to get her
some sewing machines - manual, not electric - and she holds sewing classes
for women to learn a marketable skill.
''And the kids can play ball in the compound without risk.''
Norton - Ruling party militants armed with
stones, iron bars and catapults,
beat tribal drums as a warning of danger outside polling stations on Sunday,
the second day of district elections in this town outside the capital,
Opposition officials said the militants blocked approaches to polling
stations in Norton during two days of voting in this farming and light
In elections for 16 local district councils and two parliament seats that
began on Saturday, the ruling party Zanu-PF faced its strongest challenge
yet as Zimbabwe's worst economic crisis undermined the party's support.
Opposition members said most of the polls were marred by violence and
"They (the militants) have been placed at strategic points to stop our
electorate using these routes," said Edward Musumbu, a candidate from the
opposition Movement for Democratic Change in the town council polls.
Turnout was low on Sunday. "There is fear, and it has been difficult even
for us to get around our own areas," Musumbu said.
About 20 militants were camped outside one polling station. Others beat
drums, a traditional warning, to scare away voters after several days of
violence in this town of 35 000 people, 40km west of Harare, Musumbu said.
Opposition polling agent Lowsign Nyarumba, 28, said he was treated for head
wounds after being assaulted with an iron bar by militants inside a police
camp while reporting a stoning attack on the home of an opposition
Musumbu said the homes of nine opposition campaigners were stoned by
militants, many of them trucked in from neighbouring ruling party
strongholds, including President Robert Mugabe's home area of Zvimba.
Another opposition candidate for one of the town's 12 voting wards, Edwin
Madira, said he was evicted from his rented auto parts shop by the owner
after militants threatened to torch the building.
"This is the kind of intimidation we have had in all wards," Madira said.
The ruling party has held control of the 12-member town council.
Officials of the state Electoral Supervisory Commission manning polling
stations here refused to talk with reporters or allow them inside polling
Thomas Bvuma, a spokesperson for the state election commission, said
complaints of intimidation were received from both the opposition and the
ruling party on Saturday.
"Some of the allegations have been exaggerated ... the occurrence and
frequency of the allegations have been isolated," he said.
On Friday, the independent Zimbabwe Election Support Network said the run-up
to polling was "by no means peaceful" across the country and that in the
parliamentary district of Makonde northwest of Harare, "the environment was
so tense no meaningful campaigns by the opposition took place."
The High Court in Harare on Friday threw out complaints by 11 prospective
opposition candidates that they were prevented by violent ruling party
militants from enrolling to contest the polls. The judgment will only be
made available later.
Three of the 16 district council and mayoral elections are not being fought
because opposition candidates were not able to register to run.
The three districts automatically go to the ruling party.
Foreign and independent observers of parliamentary and presidential
elections since 2000 say both were swayed by political violence, mostly by
ruling party militants, and by corruption and vote rigging.
Low voter turnout
By our own Staff
WITH economic hardships worsening and many Zimbabweans stuck in cash
queues, there was a very low voter turnout in the parliamentary and council
elections with some polling stations deserted when polling stations opened
for the first day yesterday.
Most polling stations in Harare were empty by mid-day and polling
agents said they expected people to start streaming in later in the
afternoon when banks and shops closed for the day.
However, when The Standard visited some of the polling stations in the
afternoon in Harare, there were still no people voting. At most stations,
polling agents were seated outside the polling stations waiting for voters.
In Bulawayo's 29 ward council elections, only a handful of people cast
their ballots while the majority could be seen trekking into town to join
queues for cash and basic commodities. The Movement for Democratic Change
(MDC), however, had in the morning won two of the wards, ward 4 and ward 20
MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai, who cast his vote at Avondale Primary
school, attributed the low turnout, which he said characterised all urban
centres, to the current economic hardships that have gripped Zimbabwe.
Tsvangirai, who was accompanied by his wife, Susan and suspended
Harare executive mayor, Elias Mudzuri said, "Although generally, all
by-elections have a low voter turnout, today's situation has been worsened
by the fact that people are in bank or bread queues."
He said people would rather address their immediate needs of finding
food for the family than coming to vote.
Zanu PF's secretary for information and publicity, Nathan Shamuyarira,
said he was pleased by the peaceful way the elections were being conducted.
"This is the first time we have had a peaceful election since the entrance
of the MDC into the political arena. I should commend them for the conduct
this time and I should say this is the way it should be," said Shamuyarira.
In Bulawayo, Zanu PF's national deputy commissar, Sikhanyiso Ndlovu
acknowledged the low voter turn out and expressed disappointment but added
that despite this, Zanu PF would win the elections.
The MDC last night alleged that their candidate, Zwizwai Murisi had
been assaulted by pro-Zanu PF militia who accused him of being a "sell-out"
and "white puppet".
"Zwizwai is currently under police custody at the police's Tomlinson
depot where some Zanu PF supporters have assaulted him in the full glare of
the police," said MDC official Maxwell Zimuto last night.
"Some of our campaign vehicles have also had their windows smashed and
we are afraid that the rowdy ruling party thugs may chase away our polling
agents from the voting sites tonight and rig the election altogether."
In Kwekwe, a car belonging to MDC legislator and the party's polling
agent, Blessing Chebundo, was allegedly stoned by a group of rowdy youths.
"Apart from barring suspected MDC supporters from voting, we also
noticed that the voter's roll which was used is not the one we inspected and
as a result a lot of people were turned away," said MDC election director,
However, the spokesperson for the Electoral Supervisory Commission,
Thomas Bvuma, confirmed receiving reports of intimidation and violence in
Gweru's ward 14 where an MDC elections officer was allegedly beaten up by
supporters of the ruling party. Bvuma denied that the voter's roll was
"When we sent our co-ordinator and members of the multi-party liaison
committee to investigate we found that she had not been beaten as alleged
but her mother had withdrawn her from taking part in the election," said
In the same ward, Bvuma said, a group of suspected Zanu PF supporters
were seen singing party songs near a polling station and were asked to leave
by the police. "There were no major incidents after that," he said.
In the Harare Central constituency, the elections were held to fill
the seat left by former MDC legislator, Mike Auret, who retired on medical
grounds. The main contenders are Zanu PF's William Nhara and MDC is
represented by Zwizwai Murisi.
In Makonde, former journalist, Kindness Paradza, who represents the
ruling party, is battling it out with Japhet Karinda of the MDC, while in
other parts of the country, elections are being held to choose councillors
UK visa applicants sleeping at High Commission offices
By Caiphas Chimhete
AS the Zimbabwe's economic situation worsens, scores of people
intending to travel to the United Kingdom are sleeping outside the offices
of British High Commission in Harare waiting to lodge applications for the
much sought after UK visa.
The people spend the whole night at the offices in a bid to get first
preference when the mission opens its doors to the public the following day.
A queue starts forming as early as 7pm in the evening everyday except
on Fridays, and Saturdays, when the offices remain closed for the weekend.
When The Standard visited the offices in Harare's central business district
(CBD) on Thursday at around 7:30 pm, a queue of about 20 people had been
formed and more people were expected to join later.
Some of the people usually have large travelling bags in which they
keep blankets which they pull out to bed down for the night when human
traffic has dwindled in the CBD.
British High Commission spokesperson, Sophie Honey, last week
confirmed they are being inundated with visa applications on a daily basis.
She said the British High Commission received 2019 applications in June
alone, 2951 in July and 2097 applications from the beginning of this month
until the 27th.
"Since the beginning of the year to date, we have received 17078
(applications). On average 70 percent applicants are successful," said
Godknows Mbiriri (42) of Wedza district said he had been sleeping at
the High Commission's offices for the four days hoping to obtain a visa and
escape the economic misery and poverty that has gripped Zimbabwe. "On the
first day, I did not have proper documents so I had to come the following
day. However, the following two days they were not able to attend to me
because the queue was very long. Hopefully, tomorrow is my day," said
Mbiriri, who was at the front of the queue on Thursday night.
Mbiriri, who claimed that he wanted to go to the UK on a business
trip, said the High Commission had been attending to an average of 30 people
There was commotion at the mission's offices on Tuesday night last
week after a security guard tried to prohibit people from sleeping on the
pavement outside the offices. Riot police had to be summoned to quell the
Said John Marombwe, a security guard, "When the police arrived, some
of the people had dispersed for fear of being beaten but they later came
He said he had strict instructions from the High Commission not to
allow people to sleep at the offices for security reasons. Apart from that,
he said, some of the people relieve themselves in nearby sanitary lane,
which now emits a heavy stench, since there are no toilet facilities nearby.
"It's all because of Mugabe that we all want to leave this country. If
I manage to go I will only come back when the economy is back to normal,"
said one man, who identified himself only as Peter.
He claimed he was retrenched when the company he worked for relocated
to South Africa.
Most of Zimbabwe's professionals are leaving the country for
destinations such as Botswana, South Africa, Britain, the US, New Zealand
and Australia, where they hope for a better life after losing their jobs in
the wake of the current economic meltdown.
President Robert Mugabe, who is on record as saying he does not want
to go to the UK because it is very cold, is accused of destroying the
country's economy through skewed economic policies, leaving millions of
Muzenda in a coma
By Our Own Staff
VICE PRESIDENT Simon Muzenda has been placed on a life support system
in the Intensive Care Unit at Parirenyatwa hospital as his health condition
continued to deteriorate, The Standard learnt last night.
Muzenda, 81, who recently returned from China where he was being
treated for an unspecified illness, was said to be in a coma at the
"The vice president's health took a knock this morning," said a source
who requested anonymity yesterday. "The vice-president is in a coma and is
currently on a life support system"he said.
Official secrecy has shrouded the illness of the Vice President with
family members referring inquiries to the Office of the President. Top Zanu
PF officials contacted about the condition of Muzenda said last night they
had heard nothing new. A person answering the phone at his Gutu Home in
Masvingo province became agitated when asked whether she had received any
news about his condition.
Muzenda, a veteran Masvingo politician, founder member of the
governing Zanu PF and a close confidante of President Mugabe, has been in
poor health for the past three years appearing in public intermittently.
A family friend said the vice-president, who is perhaps the second
most powerful person in Zanu PF, has consistently resisted pressure from his
family to quit politics and take time to recuperate at home, insisting he
would only resign when Mugabe retires.
Public bemoans slow pace of talks
By Henry Makiwa
ORDINARY Zimbabweans have expressed despair at the prolonged stalemate
between the country's two main political parties, the ruling Zanu PF and the
opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) - delaying the resumption of
talks saimed extricating Zimbabwe from its suppurating crisis.
In a snap survey contacted by The Standard last week, members of the
public who have been besieged by a crippling political crisis and mounting
economic problems in the past four years, urged the two warring parties to
urgently mend fences and halt the ongoing crisis.
Construction worker Herbert Utete of Chitungwiza said his high hopes
for the thawing of the political stalemate were fast fading after some
ruling party officials recently demonstrated that they "were in no rush" to
get the talks going.
Utete said: "It is quite apparent that Zanu PF is in no rush with
these talks and do not empathise with the people's plight at all.
"Statements by the likes of John Nkomo (Zanu PF national chairman
Minister of Special Affairs in the President's office) and (Patrick)
Chinamasa (a non-constituency member of parliament and Minister of Justice,
Legal and Parliamentary Affairs) are clear testimony that they are not
concerned with the urgent need of the talks to resolve our predicament."
Beleaguered Zimbabweans are faced with acute shortages of basic
commodities such as fuel, foreign currency and even bank notes; and a
potential humanitarian crisis as hunger and Aids relentlessly ravage the
The country's economy has suffered a severe nose dive since 2000 when
President Robert Mugabe embarked on the controversial fast track land reform
exercise which destroyed commercial farming, once the linchpin of the
Albert Mashaya, a security guard with a Harare firm, accused
politicians of safeguarding their interests at the expense of the ordinary
He said: "It is now plain to see that when worse comes to worst,
politicians can take us for a ride. Both the MDC and Zanu PF want to ensure
that they have the upper hand over each other and that they are guaranteed
of more power before they can engage in talks.
"We are tired of listening to Mugabe urging us to Rambai Makashinga
(fight on) when he can resolve the current problems by speaking with the
opposition; the MDC should also desist from making misguided statements that
might scupper the talks," Mashaya said.
Fledgling talks between the MDC and Zanu PF were scuppered last year
when Tsvangirai filed a petition in the Harare High Court challenging
Mugabe's victory in the 2002 presidential poll has been on a downslide
widely condemned as flawed. The opposition wanted the issue of Mugabe's
legitimacy discussed in the talks, forcing Zanu-PF negotiators to break off
their participation. Nigerian President, Olusegun Obasanjo, South African
leader, Thabo Mbeki and Bakili Muluzi of Malawi also vainly held separate
talks in May this year with Mugabe and Tsvangirai to try to resuscitate
Dorcas Mutema of Harare's Budiriro high density suburb called on the
international community to use a range of pressures and incentives and its
diplomatic leverage to facilitate the talks.
She said: "Though the church-led mediation initiatives appear the most
appropriate in our situation because of their neutrality, there is need for
more robust manoeuvres from the powerful international community to get the
two parties on the round table.
"We are incapacitated by the ongoing crisis and we would appeal to
politicians to see sense and resolve our plight. Some within the ruling
party are of course very arrogant because they are drunk with years of
political power and would like to maintain the status quo."
Speaking at a media workshop in Kariba recently, Chinamasa reiterated
that the ruling party was not compelled to urgently address the issue of
inter-party dialogue and would not be "stampeded into talks if there is
danger that success cannot be guaranteed" in what may have been another
pointer to the ruling party's lack of earnestness to returning to the
He said: "We can not sit back and allow the MDC to achieve what they
failed through attempted assassinations, stayaways, rolling mass actions and
the so-called final push.
"Any contacts that may be established between Zanu PF and MDC should,
in my view, be aimed primarily at testing the waters, ascertaining and
probing for common ground (and) shared core values," Chinamasa said.
Zanu PF spokesman Nathan Shamuyarira could not be reached for an
update of the party's official position by the time of going to press
But MDC spokesman Paul Themba Nyathi said his party was doing
"everything" to ensure the resumption of the talks.
Nyathi said: "We have done everything conceivable for the resumption
of dialogue. It is common knowledge that the political temperature has been
lowered as a result of our strategy and this is all to facilitate dialogue.
"We are however not seeing much reciprocation from Zanu PF because
some of them have interests to protect. I urge the people to remain
optimistic and maintain their hopes...they are well placed and we will not
let them down."
State in bid to revive TNF
By Caiphas Chimhete
THE government has abandoned its "go it alone" policy and is making
frantic efforts to lure back labour and business to the Tripartite
Negotiating Forum (TNF) as it becomes increasingly evident that it can not
single-handedly reverse the current economic meltdown, sources told The
Standard last week.
The sources said government officials have approached both labour and
business in an effort to resuscitate TNF talks that faltered after
government unilaterally increased fuel price by 300 percent without
consultation with the other two social partners.
The TNF consists of officials from government, labour as well as
"The government has approached us on several occasions but we can not
just go back to the negotiating table without assurances that we would not
be taken for granted again," said a source with Employers Confederation of
He said the government has run out of ideas on how to resuscitate the
crumbling economy and is surviving on "stop-gap" measures, which are not
Efforts to get a comment from Emcoz president, John Mufukari, were
fruitless as he was said to be out of the office.
But Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) president, Lovemore
Matombo, confirmed that efforts were underway to resuscitate negotiations
within the tripartite framework.
"At the moment there is a tripartite committee which is looking at the
revival of talks. The government needs to understand the imperative of
tripartism that goes with negotiation. Under the current circumstances, the
government can not be trusted," said Matombo.
He added, "Right now there is a workshop underway on how to
resuscitate the talks" and another workshop to "teach" government the
importance of social dialogue will be held next month.
The Minister of Finance and Economic Development, Herbert Murerwa's
reconciliatory tone during the presentation of the 2003 supplementary budget
last week supports the latest developments.
Murerwa conceded that, "It is under the auspices of the TNF that a
sustainable social contract can be urgently revived and developed. Its
successful conclusion will also assist to reduce perceived country risk,
thereby improving investor confidence in the economy."
He said breaking the high inflationary spiral and reviving the economy
in general, required the support of the social partners, adding that it was
imperative that all the TNF partners put the interest of the country first
to confront the current economic challenges.
Presently, annualised inflation stands at 399.5 percent up from 364.5
percent in June. Apart from spiralling inflation, the economy is also
characterised by shortages of fuel, bank notes, foreign currency and high
prices of basic commodities dampening hopes of quick recovery.
Gvt outlaws travelling outside the country with local currency
By Kumbirai Mafunda
THE embattled Zimbabwe government limping under the weight of a
deepening economic and political crisis, has imposed a blanket restriction
that outlaws travelling with local currency to any foreign destinations.
In sweeping measures prompted by current crippling cash shortages, the
government recently effected a policy of confiscating money from people
travelling outside the country ostensibly, to plug the leakage of the local
bank notes.The new law is contained in the Presidential Powers (Temporary
Measures) (Promotion of Banking Transactions) Regulations, 2003 Statutory
Instrument 171 of 2003.
Prior to the promulgation of the new law, travellers were permitted to
export $50 000 and US$1 000 to cater for out of pocket expenses.
Travellers who were stripped of their money told The Standard last
week that customs authorities stationed at Harare international airport and
Joshua Mqabuko Nkomo international airport, ordered them to surrender all
the Zimbabwe dollars in their possession.
After confiscating the cash, customs officers issue receipts that will
enable the traveller to claim his money back upon return. One returning
resident said he was told to go and get his money at Harare's Kurima House,
which houses the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (ZIMRA) offices.
Travellers said the arrangement was "embarrassing and inconvenient" as
it left them with no money to purchase basic needs, pay duty and for taxi
fares into the city. The measures, travellers said, would hit hard duty free
shops that rely on travellers for business.
Sources said part of government's reason for the measures was that
huge amounts in Zimbabwean currency had accumulated outside the country's
borders. Cross border traders have confirmed holding billions of Zimbabwe
dollars outside the country.
Economic analysts said government was now desperate to find a solution
to the biting cash shortages. "They seem convinced by their own propaganda
that people are exporting local currency. Why should anyone want to hold on
to a rapidly depreciating currency outside the country where one can't use
it," said one analyst.
Chinamasa defines role of media in development
By Our Own Staff
PARTICIPANTS at a recent United Nations Development Programme
(UNDP)-organised press workshop resolved to augment efforts to engage the
media in issues of development despite the country's ongoing economic
Addressing journalists at the opening event, Patrick Chinamasa, the
Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs, underlined the media's
vital role in facilitating national development and admitted that the
government's coffers can not sustain its ambitious fast-track land reform
Chinamasa said: "Given the developmental challenges facing the
country, government alone can not, from its coffers, find sufficient
resources to meet these challenges. Moreso, after taking into account the
development needs of the land reform exercise which has seen upwards of 400
000 new producers in the market."
The three-day workshop which attracted senior journalists from both
the privately owned and state-owned media, government officials and
representatives of the UNDP including its Resident Representative Jose
Victor Angelo, was held in the resort town of Kariba.
Speaking on the same occasion, The Standard Editor, Bornwell Chakaodza
underlined the significance of promoting good governance to ensure the
progression of developmental activities in the country.
He said: "Good governance is not an exclusive matter for government
only; the private sector, non-governmental organisations and civil society
as a whole have an important role to play. There is therefore a tremendous
responsibility on the part of the UNDP to have an active and robust
engagement with both the government and civil society".
NMB loses forex trading licence
By Kumbirai Mafunda
NATIONAL Merchant Bank (NMB) has been stripped of its foreign currency
trading licence, for engaging in illegal foreign currency transactions in
contravention of the Exchange Control Act.
NMB's suspension from dealing in foreign currency will last for a
period of twelve months. In a statement released yesterday, the Reserve Bank
of Zimbabwe said: "This decision has been taken following NMB's
contravention of the Exchange Control (Exchange Rate Management) Order, 2002
and Exchange Control regulations and directives."
However, the central bank said the suspension only relates to NMB's
foreign currency dealings and does not, in any way, affect other banking
Sources in the financial industry said the withdrawal followed a
government probe launched this week on the country's commercial banks.
Early in the week, the central bank is reported to have threatened to
withdraw licences from at least nine financial institutions alleged to have
flouted exchange control regulations. NMB's suspension follows the
completion of of a compliance inspection of all bank's foreign currency
Besides NMB, sources said three commercial banks and a merchant bank
were under intense inquisition and could have their licences withdrawn as
well. Serious allegations of complicity in currency trading on the so called
parallel market have been levelled against some of the financial
institutions. Bureaux de change were also shut down for allegedly fuelling
the parallel market.
The Zimbabwe dollar which is officially pegged at $824 to the American
greenback, is trading at anything between $3 000 and $6 000 on the
flourishing black market. Zimbabwe is mired in its fifth year of economic
recession characterised by shortages of basic commodities including local
bank notes, a rapidly depreciating currency, and severely depleted foreign
The shortage of foreign currency has been compounded by the withdrawal
of support from multi-lateral development and other lending agencies and
falling agricultural production.
Economic commentators said the crackdown on banks was a ploy to
victimise bankers for the shortage of foreign currency, which lies squarely
on government's destructive and populist policies. They said government
ministers were blocking the introduction of higher denominated notes, as
they are players in the buying and selling of bank notes at a premium.
"Bankers have suggested the printing of higher denomination notes in
order to ease the cash crisis but since ministers are allegedly buying and
selling Zimbabwe dollars, it is assumed it would not be in their interest is
if this was done," said one commentator.
'World Bank' thrives despite police raids
By Wilson Dakwa
BULAWAYO-As one approaches the city's Fifth Avenue, one is greeted by
the mesmerising sight of hundreds of women dressed in snow-white religious
garb, milling about the pavements and sidewalks.
Some have babies strapped to their backs while the younger ones
chatter the morning away, clutching tightly to some bulging plastic bags.
To a visitor, this group of women can easily be mistaken for
worshippers waiting to assemble and listen to the word of God. Closer
inspection, however, reveals that the gathering has nothing to do with the
word of God-far from it. It has everything to do with survival, Zimbabwean
Welcome to Zimbabwe's parallel market centre, otherwise known as the
'World Bank', where millions of dollars in currencies of various countries
change hands on a daily basis.
Here you will find the South African Rand, the powerful Botswana Pula,
the much sought after United States dollar, the strong British pound and
various other convertible denominations.
The streets of Zimbabwe's second largest city are fast turning into
one giant foreign currency market where even the Zimdollar, which is
difficult to get hold of these days, is found in abundance.
Such is the business acumen of the white-clad "VaPositori" women that
big business in Zimbabwe is now employing them to source-or get rid of at a
profit-huge amounts of foreign currency.
In the process, this highly lucrative illegal foreign currency market
has turned a number of its more enterprising women into multi-millionaires
who are proud owners of luxury houses in posh suburbs of Bulawayo such as
Khumalo, Burnside and Selbourne Park.
"From what I make here I have been able to educate my children, buy a
nice car and a house. This is much better than waiting for my husband's
salary," said Shamiso Mpofu, one of the illegal foreign currency traders.
Another trader, Celin Mpofu, said she had no alternative but to trade
in foreign currency in the streets as she has no other source of income.
"My husband died five years ago and I have to fend for the children,"
Recently, the women have found their operations disrupted by lightning
quick raids from the police who have launched an all out war to rid the city
of illegal foreign currency traders.
Bulawayo police recently launched "Operation Clean Up" to stop the
practice, blamed by government for creating crippling hard currency
Police have nabbed quite a number of the traders but this has not
stopped the illegal trade as the women constantly devise other ways of
defeating the long arm of the law.
Cash crisis drags on unabated
By Henry Makiwa
TATENDA Hwata again runs a wet tongue over his parched lips, tugs at a
brass bangle on his wrist before finally opening his mouth to speak.
"I expect to get my money today too...that is my greatest hope," says
the 32-year-old who is a messenger with a Harare law firm, but he does not
sound confident. He has every reason not to be.
Hundreds of other people stand in the snaking bank queue. The general
look on their faces is unmistakably that of despair.
"I have had to trade duties with a fellow workmate in order for both
of us to find time to queue up for cash. I have now gone for a full week
without getting my full salary and my landlord is now fuming, and has
threatened to evict me if I go another day without paying my rentals," Hwata
Baton-wielding riot police menacingly hover around the bank's
entrance, ostensibly to control the winding queue and occasionally bark
orders at the forlorn cash hunters.
In his sweaty palm, Hwata holds a dirty piece of cardboard paper
numbered 357-meaning he is close to the tail-end of the long meandering
queue-and clicks his tongue whenever one of the police officers harasses
someone in the queue.
"It is amazing how we now have to labour by spending long hours in
queues for money we worked for all month," Hwata says dejectedly. "It defies
all logic that we are virtually having to beg for the little money we slaved
for and to make matters worse, the government does not appear capable of
solving the cash crisis."
Zimbabwe's severe cash shortages, which threaten to bring the
country's industry and commerce to a grinding halt, is now into its third
month with no apparent solution in sight.
Most banks are running out of cash, often reducing the maximum amount
their clients can withdraw to as little as $2 000 per day-an amount that
just manages to buy only two loaves of bread.
The crisis has forced the country's largest labour body, the Zimbabwe
Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU), to slowly flex its muscles. It has issued a
month-long ultimatum to the beleaguered government that it faces yet another
job action if it does not solve the problem swiftly.
ZCTU president, Lovemore Matombo said: "The government clearly doesn't
have concern for the plight of workers who now have to queue up for cash for
up to six days a week.
"The crisis has now resulted in the creation of 'unproductive
employment' because workers are wasting long hours queuing up for money,
when they should be at their work places performing economically productive
Matombo said the cash shortages, like the scarcity of other basic
commodities, can be traced to misgovernance of the Zanu PF regime.
He said: "It is the government that created this myriad of problems so
the cash crisis cannot be viewed in isolation. First it was the seizure of
farms, then the rampant human rights abuses and neglect of the rule of law.
All this resulted in the international isolation of the country and it is
only natural that under these circumstances we find ourselves mired in this
Colleen Gwiyo, the general-secretary of the Zimbabwe Banks and Allied
Workers Union, blamed the government and the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ)
for the crisis. "We are baffled as a union that a country can run out of
cash, of all things. And like all shortages in Zimbabwe we know that there
is someone in government who is perpetuating this cash crisis for his or her
"We hold the government and the RBZ responsible for the crisis we are
enmeshed in and they should face their responsibility by finding an urgent
solution," Gwiyo said.
Brain drain hits agriculture
FOLLOWING the recent disappointing regrading exercise and the
subsequent low salaries offered to agriculturists in the public sector by
the heady PSC, a nation-wide brain drain has been triggered off.
Highly trained and experienced agriculturists have been riled by the
recent regrading exercise which resulted in their earning peanuts. The
so-called Patterson System ignored highly experienced and trained
functionaries while overpaying 'managers' despite the fact that real
managers are non existent in public technical institutions.
Faced with no other option, agriculturists have started resigning in
droves. No support has come from the ministry and union officials to have
the situation redressed. Unlike the ministries of health and education which
have openly supported their subordinates, agriculturists have not been
supported, hence the only option is to resign.
The effect is a brain drain that threatens to destroy the dream of
rebuilding agriculture, the backbone of the national economy. Most of the
staff members are leaving for NGOs, universities, private companies (like
Cottco, FSI-Agricom etc), international organisations (like FAO, EU etc),
better jobs in Australia, New Zealand and the USA.
A small desperate bunch has left for the big pound in exchange for
menial jobs. A good number has opted for dealing in all sorts of merchandise
since formal employment is not rewarding. The other small lot, not risk
averse, has decided to manage other people's farms. A significant number has
also opted to go into full time farming, thanks to the land reform!
The highest paid 'non-managerial' member who, before this animal
called Patterson System, earned the same salary as the present middle
manager, now earns a gross salary of less than $3.5 million per annum. This
same member could still earn $12 million per annum under most of the local
NGOs. A small tobacco grower earned around $5 million this past season, so a
well-groomed agriculturist can surely achieve more. These factors have led
to the increasing number of resignations.
Hopefully, as the PSC and the ministry want, agricultural institutions
will now function with the remaining 'managers' only. And in a true case of
creating opportunities for others, maybe its time for the "whindis" to get
employed by the ministry.
'Now Happily Employed'
RBZ mulls new monetary policy to curb inflation
By Kumbirai Mafunda
THE Reserve bank will soon issue a new monetary policy statement which
it says will be loaded with ammunition to fight rampaging inflation which is
projected to hit 1 000% by year end.
The new monetary policy is projected to unveil high market interest
rates for lending for consumption and speculative purposes while low rates
will continue to be targeted at the productive sectors. Deposit rates are
likely to be raised to correspond with inflation. Currently, deposit rates
are mostly below 45% in an environment where inflation is 400%.
In his half yearly report on the state of the economy tabled in
parliament, finance and economic development minister, Herbert Murerwa,
conceded that high rates of inflation are eroding incomes and, overnight,
rendering valueless savings.
He said business activities were being disrupted as persistent rapid
increases in production costs and prices become inevitable.
Major inflationary pressures have emanated from high money supply
growth which rose to 226% in April largely on the back of high public sector
borrowing requirements and high quasi-fiscal expenditures. The prevailing
negative interest rates have exacerbated non-productive and speculative
demand for money.
"I believe that it is important that our policies fight inflation.
Continued failure to do so threatens to destroy the very social fabric of
the Nation," said Murerwa.
To contain rampaging inflation, Murerwa said government will implement
measures that will stem consumptive borrowing and restructure public
"Public sector borrowing requirements will also be re-prioritised to
such targeted sectors as agriculture, infrastructure development, social
service delivery and other activities that create an enabling environment
for sustainable economic growth and development," Murerwa said.
Hypocrisy rules in Africa
Sundaytalk with Pius Wakatama
HAVE you heard what I have heard? Ndinzwireiwo vanhu we-ee! It is
reported that our de-facto President Robert Mugabe actually received a
rapturous welcome, complete with ululation and shouts of applause, at a
meeting of Southern African leaders in Tanzania last Monday. All such
meetings and conferences, which are just too many for the impoverished
region, are called "summits" these days.
I think the word has lost its meaning especially as these so-called
summits accomplish absolutely nothing. They end with the issuing of lofty
sounding "final communiques" which are never followed through and which the
rest of the civilised world takes scant notice of.
At this particular meeting in Tanzania, that country's President
Benjamin Mkapa, who is the new chairman of the Southern African Development
Community, called for an end to what he referred to as sanctions against
Zimbabwe imposed by the United States and European Union countries.
He said: "I do not believe that the application of sanctions in the
case of Zimbabwe is a good, warranted or even effective strategy. It has not
worked, it will not work and it only makes the life of the ordinary people
in Zimbabwe unnecessarily difficult. Those sanctions should now be lifted.
The quicker they are lifted, the quicker more influence for positive
economic growth and a change can emerge."
I have difficulty in understanding the logic in the sentiments of
those who applaud Mugabe's violent style of leadership. Their applause is
hypocritical because they are not emulating his example in their own
countries. While they applaud Mugabe for evicting white farmers some of them
are secretly wooing those same farmers to their own countries and offering
them generous incentives.
President Thabo Mbeki of South Africa publicly appears to condone
Mugabe's violent land grab from whites in Zimbabwe but, in his own country
land redistribution is forging ahead, slowly but surely, in a
non-destructive manner and without incitement to racial or ethnic hatred
though intemperate rhetoric.
Quietly but effectively, ex-President Nelson Mandela is using his
great influence to harness the financial power of corporate South Africa as
well as individual rich white and the Indian communities to steadily develop
rural areas for the benefit of hitherto marginalised blacks. And all this is
being done without recourse to recrimination, intimidation or incitement to
racial or ethnic hatred. I was in South Africa recently and I saw this with
my own eyes, with much envy.
The behaviour of the African leaders who applaud Mugabe takes me back
to my school days in Mbare. At Chitsere School we had some boys who were
very dull in class but were very good with their fists. They were also
"brave" in that they played all manner of pranks on teachers and gave them
funny nicknames. They were also constantly punished for playing truant. We
all publicly admired and hero-worshiped these boys who really enjoyed the
limelight of the whole school.
However, at the end of the year their glory suddenly disappeared. We
laughed at them because their reports read, "failed. Not allowed to repeat."
We laughed at them in secret for fear of being beaten up, of course. We were
hypocrites just like the SADC presidents who publicly applaud and
hero-worship President Mugabe but are not crazy enough to follow his example
in this their own countries.
I am amazed at the apparent ignorance and confusion displayed by
President Mkapa. He does not seem to know that the United States and the
European Union did not at time any time impose sanctions on Zimbabwe.
Selective sanctions were placed on individual leaders of the ruling party,
Zanu PF, who were prohibited from visiting most Western countries because of
their support of political violence and or participation in human rights
abuses. Their mostly ill-gotten loot in Western banks was also frozen'' To
my knowledge, no country has imposed sanctions on Zimbabwe.
The International Monetary Fund and the World bank refused to further
lend money to Zimbabwe because we constantly defaulted on our repayments.
The Zimbabwe government also refused to put in place fundamentals which make
for economic growth and are a prerequisite for participation in those
institutions' programmes. These are not sanctions, Mr Mkapa. Financial
institutions have to have certain requirements if they are to survive. As a
matter of fact, it is President Mugabe who told the IMF and the World Bank
to "go to hell" because he did not agree with their requirements.
I wonder how one can get into the seemingly thick skulls of African
leaders that our problems in Zimbabwe are not caused by the United States or
the European Union but by our president and his Zanu PF party through
misgovernance, lack of sound economic policies, political violence and
And since Mr Mkapa regards the sanctions he is talking about as
useless and ineffective, why then should they worry him? Why is he so
anxious to have them removed since they are not working?
I totally agreed with the Tanzanian president when he said in his
speech, "Do not let this be interpreted as apologetics for arbitrary,
illegal, unlegislated and economically unproductive and unbalanced
restitution or, in Tanzania's case, of alienationIf we all promoted the
Sadc region as indisputably characterised by democratic good governance, by
peace and security, it will be against all unwarranted designations, a
community of successful states.'
However, Mr Mkapa should know that even as he spoke Zimbabwean police
ordered 1 000 black officially resettled farmers to vacate their land to
make way for a government official. When they failed to vacate the property,
which they had occupied for more than two years, the police moved in and set
fire to their huts and property worth more than $100 million.
All Sadc presidents including Mr Mkapa have representatives in Harare
who are supposed to be their eyes and ears. So they, therefore, really do
know what is going on here? Do they not know that while they prepared for
their summit in Tanzania the Zimbabwe government ordered about 1 000
resettled black peasant farmers at Little England farm to vacate their homes
to make way for the widow of President Mugabe's late nephew, Innocent Mugabe
and 68 chosen relatives and cronies?
Do they not know that even as President Mugabe smugly acknowledged
their applause and glibly talked about bringing felicitations of love and
great peace from Zimbabwe, back home his Zanu PF thugs were beating up
opposition local council candidates to prevent them from registering at the
election courts? Do they not know that even as he listened attentively as
President Mkapa talked about the need for good governance his minions were
busy rigging forthcoming parliamentary by-election by eliminating the names
of registered voters from the voters roll and replacing them with ghost
Incidentally, one of those who discovered that her names was no longer
on the voters roll was Susan Tsvangirai, wife of the opposition MDC leader
Morgan Tsvangirai. Democracy, solidarity, fraternity and peace, indeed!
words, words; all hollow words from our vain African leaders nothing more.
It is really that power corrupts and absolute power corrupts
absolutely. This has indeed happened to most of our African presidents. It
is reported that the African Union, led by Sadc presidents, is preparing to
pressurise the Commonwealth to re-admit Zimbabwe into the Club at its
meeting in Nigeria in December, because, according to them, everything is
now "normal' in Zimbabwe.
In order to maintain their deceptive image of normalcy in Zimbabwe,
their African Commission on Human and People's Rights has had to suppress
the publication of its probe on Zimbabwe. It is said the report roundly
condemns Mugabe and his regime for human rights abuses. Is this not
Tell me my friends, who is going to come to our rescue now that Africa
has so openly betrayed us? Nelson Mandela, are you still there? Please,
Madiba, tell these scheming and corrupt leaders what true democracy, justice
and peace is all about. Tell Robert Mugabe that it is time he said goodbye
while he still has a semblance of respectability and dignity left.
He who has ears to hear, let him hear.
Words cost little Actions talk best
ELSEWHERE in this issue we reflect the appalling reality in which
majority in Zimbabweans find themselves in the form of long and restive
queues for cash outside banks and for visas outside the British High
Commission. The reality of the crisis and government's insensitivity and
indifference is all too evident for all to see.
At the leadership level, there is nothing to show that the government
is concerned about the plight and the grief of most Zimbabweans as they
painfully idle away their time in these queues for cash and, and then move
on to yet other queues for basic necessities like fuel that Zimbabweans used
to take for granted.
If there is one conclusion to be drawn from the plethora of desperate
stop-gap measures that government has, of late, been introducing with
breathtaking frequency, it is that events have long taken control. Indeed,
it can be said government is no longer in the driving seat. It is clearly
locked into a reactive mode, unsure which way to turn, how to respond and
what solution to try next.
It is most unfortunate for our country that we have a political
leadership that is prepared to sacrifice the majority of Zimbabweans, come
hell or high water, on the alter of self-interest and self-preservation.
Otherwise, how else can one explain what is happening and what has been
taking place for the last three years or so.
Leaders are supposed to be the servants of the people not their
masters. In Zimbabwe, it is the other way round. How nice it would be if,
for just a day, President Mugabe, his ministers and other top government
functionaries could descend from their ivory towers to share with the rest
of the population the agonies of queuing for hours only to be allowed to
withdraw $5 000 when one kilogramme of ordinary beef costs more than $4 000.
Perhaps this would jolt them into the practical realities of life in
Zimbabwe today. Zimbabweans have been reduced to beggars and scavengers
while the chefs build palatial mansions and feast to their heart's content.
And yet, in the midst of all this, there are clear indications that
the ruling party, Zanu PF, is in no hurry to break the political impasse
that is responsible for our current predicament. Zanu PF through Patrick
Chinamasa, the Minister of Legal and Parliamentary Affairs, said as much
when he made his infamous statement that his party "could not be rushed and
or stampeded into talks with the opposition MDC."
It is wicked and regrettable that we have leaders who choose to ignore
all the suffering and anguish and so see no need for urgency for a political
settlement. Is it because Zanu PF members have easy access to cash, fuel and
other scarce goods and services - that is why they do not see the urgency of
a political solution to our problems?
There is no doubt that scores of leading Zanu PF members and
supporters may be benefiting from this chaos and shortages in the economy.
This is the tragedy of Zimbabwe at the moment. Those who are supposed to
represent the conscience of the nation have none themselves.
Zimbabweans are crying ot for a political solution. The predictions
from almost everyone are pessimistic. This is most unfortunate. There is
therefore a pressing need on the part of the ruling party to respond
positively and urgently to the people's call for action. The answer lies in
the hands of the president and the ruling party. Fine words must be backed
up by fine deeds.
The ruling party needs to move away from the idea that they and they
alone are ordained to rule forever. No political party is. There is no
Zimbabwean, as far as we know, who does not subscribe to the legacy of the
liberation struggle. People fought for this land so that they can choose
freely and fairly in a general election the people to rule them.
That is why it is absolutely ridiculous to talk or to see your
opponents as 'footstools' of British Prime Minister Tony Blair and American
President George W Bush. Zanu PF's constant refrain that MDC is a creation
of Blair and Bush is nonsensical. Zanu PF's failure to deliver created MDC.
This is the reality whether the ruling party likes it or not.
In this regard, Zanu PF's behaviour is no different from that of
Smith's Rhodesian Front. The main technique in the Smith's regime's
propaganda campaign was the equation of black liberation with communism.
Now, Mugabe's regime's propaganda campaign is the equation of fellow black
opposition with Blair or Bush. How the tables have turned!
Be that as it may, it is important to restate that the major challenge
we face is to make sure that democracy, peace and sanity return to our
country. Pain and a price have attended whatever progress has been made in
the wake of the reorganization that has taken place in agriculture, commerce
and industry. We must move on. Human destiny is a choice.
Confidence-building measures have to be put in place by both Zanu PF and
MDC, particularly the former.
The economy is collapsing. All the signs indicate that without a
political solution, the situation is going to get worse. The governments's
determination to keep the situation within tolerable limits will one day
Somalia slid into anarchy after the ouster of the then President
Mohammed Siad Barre in January 1991. Hundreds of thousands starved as
looters ran riot. The country had no government for many years.
Subsequently, countries such as Ivory coast, Lesotho and Liberia have had
their own tales to tell. We do not want that to happen in Zimbabwe.
A political solution is a must - and quickly. People will be made to
answer and pay for their crimes later. We remain convinced about the promise
of a negotiated political settlement.
It is abundantly clear that if a political settlement and the
resultant stability and peace are assured, Zimbabwe has one of the brightest
futures in Africa.
What's up? Not much
overthetop By Brian Latham
Residents of a troubled central African country have settled down to
not doing very much at all. Beset by towering troubles, tribulations and no
cash, they've decided, largely, to join queues or go home to sleep. Anything
more is just too bothersome.
Worn down by years of Zany politics and zanier economics, troubled
central Africans are just too tired to care very much one way or the other.
This epidemic of ennui doesn't make troubled central Africans as
pathetic as their critics might suppose. Over The Top hears, every day,
individuals asking when the people are going to do something. The question,
perhaps surprisingly, always comes from people who aren't doing anything
more useful than asking puerile questions.
Frequently the same individuals go on to accuse the masses of
cowardice for not doing something to end the inevitability of crisis upon
crisis that has become life in the troubled central African country. It
would probably be unkind to point out that they, too, are doing little more
than waiting for something to happen. And that probably makes them as
cowardly as the rest of the population.
Actually, there's no "probably" about it.
It's also true (though hardly surprising) that the people asking these
foolish questions and making those daffy declarations about courage and
cowardice live in comparative comfort. Generally, their contact with Zany
politics is limited, usually extremely limited.
Zany politics often involve more pain than the middle classes in the
leafy northern suburbs can get their heads around. While Zany politics
affect grocery prices, alarming the people who slate the masses for not
rising in anger, food is simply unaffordable for those same masses.
It's hard to fight a revolution on an empty stomach. But more
importantly, Zany politics involve large sticks, barbed wire whips, torture,
rape and murder - all aspects of everyday life for many, but rarely seen by
wealthier troubled central Africans.
And that's half the problem, because history repeats itself - and
historically it's the comfortably off who want the povo to make all the
Which is perhaps fine, because there are some things you can't change,
but there's no excuse for ridiculous accusations of cowardice from people
whose only sacrifice is to drink slightly less scotch.
The truth, as so often happens, is some distance from popular
perception. The masses are on their own. Not having any support within the
troubled central African tyranny, they find muddled morons in neighbouring
states actually bolstering the Zany Party.
Still, nothing lasts forever, as power crazed dictators across the
world have learnt as they hurriedly pulled their trousers on and fled their
And a country where there's no cash and where petrol can only be
bought in drums hidden in sanitary lanes is surely headed for the sick bay.
In truth the More Drink Coming Party may as well succumb to the apathy
that's gripped the rest of the troubled central African basket case. They
don't have to do a thing, because economic chaos will do far more to
undermine Zany rule than anything the More Drink Coming Party could ever do.
Of course, none of this helps anyone trying to survive in the troubled
central African nation because it can only get worse until there is nothing
left to loot - and Zany economic policy involves considerable financial gain
for the Zany Party.
So... When it's all gone, the troubled central African country will
have to start again, something historians say it has done more than once