September 20, 2007
LONDON Gordon Brown has toughened the British Government's attitude to the
Zimbabwe regime by threatening to boycott an international summit if Robert
With the southern African country in the grip of an economic and
humanitarian catastrophe, the Prime Minister called on fellow world leaders
to bring more pressure to bear on the Harare regime.
Describing the situation in the former British colony as "appalling and
tragic", Mr Brown accused the Zimbabwean president of abusing his own
He urged the deployment of a United Nations humanitarian mission and
promised support for the economic reconstruction of Zimbabwe once Mr Mugabe
While moving to isolate Zimbabwe's government, Mr Brown is to announce more
British aid money for the country.
Already Zimbabwe's second biggest donor, the UK will provide an additional
£8 million, to be delivered through the World Food Programme.
date: 19 September 2007
embargo: 00.01hrs Thursday 20 September 2007
The TUC, civil service union PCS and campaign group ACTSA (Action for
Southern Africa) are today (Thursday) calling on workers in London to show
their support for the second day of a 'stay away' from work called by the
Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) in protest at a six-month wage
freeze imposed recently by the Mugabe Government.
Workers in central London are being urged to give up a part of their lunch
break today to head for the Zimbabwean Embassy on the Strand and join a
two-hour demonstration against Mugabe's oppressive regime.
The two-day 'stay away' from work has been called by the ZCTU over the
disastrous state of Zimbabwe's economy, where hyper inflation has reached
7,600 per cent, there are shortages of food and fuel, and the unemployment
rate is 80%. Some two million people have fled the country, leaving those
left behind struggling to avoid starvation.
TUC General Secretary Brendan Barber said: 'Zimbabwe's people are suffering
from Mugabe's appalling economic mismanagement, corruption and brutal
repression. They are standing up for their rights, and we must stand with
NOTES TO EDITORS:
- The ACTSA/PCS/TUC demonstration takes place from noon until 2pm at the
Zimbabwean Embassy which is at 429 The Strand.
- One of the speakers at the demonstration will be Toko Siwela, who
addressed the delegates at the TUC in Brighton last week, and who is the
Women's Secretary of the ZCTU.
Media enquiries: Liz Chinchen T: 020 7467 1248; M: 07778 158175; E:
Press release (300 words) issued 20 Sep 2007
Thursday 20 September 2007
By Sebastian Nyamhangambiri
HARARE - An alliance of Zimbabwe non-governmental organizations (NGO) has
accused the main opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party of
treachery after it endorsed a governmental constitutional reform bill that
paves the way for President Robert Mugabe to anoint his successor.
In a sign of growing divisions between the MDC and its key civic allies over
the constitutional Bill, the National Constitutional Assembly (NCA) accused
the opposition party of cutting deals in Parliament with the government in
total disregard of ordinary citizens who it said were clamouring for an
"open and genuine process of democratisation."
The NCA is a coalition of churches, women's groups, opposition parties,
students and workers founded in 1997 and from which the MDC was born two
The NCA, which together with the MDC mobilised voters to reject a government
constitutional draft in a 2000 referendum campaigns for a new and people
driven constitution for Zimbabwe.
"The MDC's decision to abandon the principle of a people-driven constitution
and opting for a process driven by political parties in Parliament is an act
of treachery," the NCA said in a statement to be flighted in newspapers
"Both (MDC) formations seem to be out of touch with the aspirations of
ordinary Zimbabweans who are clamouring for an open and genuine process of
"Only a genuine and people driven-driven process will bring the much-needed
transformation of our society," said the statement signed by coalition
chairman Lovemore Madhuku.
The MDC, which though split into two rival camps has acted together in
dealings with Mugabe's ruling ZANU PF party, said in Parliament on Tuesday
that it was backing the government constitutional to help create conditions
conducive to the peaceful resolution of the country's crisis.
Welshman Ncube, secretary general of one of the MDC factions, rejected the
NCA's criticism and insisted the opposition party had endorsed the
constitutional reform Bill in the greater interests of resolving Zimbabwe's
worsening political and economic crisis.
He said: "Our first and sole responsibility is to seek a solution to the
current political and economic crisis under which people are suffering.
Hence, our supporting the changed Bill."
Constitution of Zimbabwe Amendment Number 18 Bill will see constituency
boundaries changed, parliamentary elections brought forward by two years
while Parliament - which Mugabe controls - will be empowered to elect a new
president should the incumbent fail to serve a full term.
Analysts see the clause empowering Parliament to elect a new president as an
exit mechanism allowing Mugabe, 83, to quit active politics, handpick a
successor and possibly rule from the sidelines.
The MDC had pushed for an entirely new constitution that would guarantee
basic freedoms and free elections but relented after Justice Minister
Patrick Chinamasa agreed to changes that watered down the amendment Bill.
The changes included abolishing the president's power to appoint members to
the lower house of parliament, which will have 210 members compared to the
current 150, and a further expansion of the upper house to 93 members from
84, with five appointees. - ZimOnline
Thursday 20 September 2007
By Patricia Mpofu
GWANDA - President Robert Mugabe's ruling ZANU PF party has launched a drive
to recruit young Zimbabweans aged below 30 years to bolster and sharpen its
youth wing ahead of key elections next year, youth secretary Absalom
Sikhosana told ZimOnline.
The recruitment drive that follows a July recommendation by ZANU PF's inner
politburo cabinet to limit membership to the party youth league to youths
aged between 15 and 30 years is targeting students at high schools and
tertiary colleges as well as unemployed school leavers.
"I was in Gwanda (in southern Zimbabwe) on a youth recruitment drive over
the weekend. This is in line with our constitution that members of the youth
league should be between 15 and 30 years," said Sikhosana, adding that the
recruitment drive is set to have been before a special ZANU PF congress in
He added: "We are going to set new structures in all provinces to ensure
that the policy is implemented . . . and remember we have a crucial election
Zimbabwe holds presidential and parliamentary elections next year that some
analysts say Mugabe and ZANU PF could lose, citing worsening hunger and an
eight-year economic recession they say could push the electorate to vote for
the opposition en masse.
Youth militia and veterans of Zimbabwe's 1970s liberation struggle form the
centerpiece of the government's campaign strategy, waging violence and
terror against the opposition at every election to ensure victory.
ZANU PF insiders said while the age limit imposed on youth league members
started off as an attempt to stop senior politicians from using the league
to promote preferred candidates to succeed Mugabe when and if he retires,
the recruitment drive was mainly an attempt to lure youths of voting age
from the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party.
Most youths are known to support the MDC, while ZANU PF dominates support
among older voters especially in its stronghold rural areas.
Zimbabwe's elections next year are expected to be held under a new electoral
and legal framework after Parliament on Tuesday began debating a
Constitutional Amendment Bill that among other key reforms seeks to expand
the House of Assembly and to ensure all seats in the lower chamber are
Ongoing talks between ZANU PF and the MDC are also expected to usher in more
electoral changes, with South African President Thabo Mbeki who is mediating
in the talks insisting they will lead to free and fair elections in Zimbabwe
Zimbabwe has since 1999 grappled with its worst ever economic crisis marked
by the world's highest inflation rate of more than 5 000 percent, rising
poverty and shortages of basic commodities.
The MDC, which says Mugabe and ZANU PF have stolen every major election held
since 2000, blames the crisis on repression and mismanagement by Mugabe. The
Zimbabwean leader, in power since his country's 1980 independence from
Britain, denies stealing elections or mismanaging the economy. - ZimOnline
Thursday 20 September 2007
By Nqobizitha Khumalo
BULAWAYO - The Zimbabwe National Students Union (Zinasu) national executive
council has endorsed a national class boycott by the country's tertiary
institutions to protest new fees and deteriorating conditions at colleges
Announcing the decision to boycott classes in Harare yesterday, Zinasu
described the new fee structure introduced by the government last month as
"satanic and genocidal".
"Increasing tuition fees from $60 000 per semester to an unbelievable $10
million is totally unacceptable," Zinasu said.
These fees exclude the several millions that the students would be expected
to pay in private accommodation, particularly for those at the University of
Zimbabwe (UZ) that closed its halls of residence last July.
"This also happening against a background of price and salary freezes, and
we are left wondering where the government expects the students to get money
from," Zinasu said in a statement.
The strike is expected to start before the end of September, according to
the student movement.
Zinasu national executive member Clever Bere warned that the boycott would
continue until government addressed the students' concerns.
"The boycott has been called to protest the tough economic environment
students are operating in and to force the government to withdraw the new
fees structures," said Bere who is also president of the student body at the
Bulawayo-based National University of Science and Technology.
Pressed to reveal the actual dates of the class boycott, Bere said the
timing would be communicated later to protect the student organisers.
The decision by Zinasu to boycott classes comes at a time when state
security agents have intensified repression against students.
On Tuesday Lovemore Chinoputsa, president of the University of Zimbabwe
Student Representative Council and his secretary general Fortune Chamba were
arrested and severely assaulted during a demonstration on campus.
The university students were demanding a resolution to problems affecting
The announcement of the planned class boycott came as a national stayaway
organized by the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) flopped after
businesses opened as usual in Harare and Bulawayo as thousands of workers
reported for duty.
The ZCTU had asked workers not to report for work yesterday and today in
protest at the deteriorating living standards in Zimbabwe. - ZimOnline
Thursday 20 September 2007
By Thulani Munda
HARARE - Zimbabwe's Indigenisation and Empowerment Bill is set for a second
reading in Parliament next week after the House's Legal Committee on
Wednesday cleared the proposed legislation.
Acting Speaker of the House of Assembly Kumbirai Kangai told the lower
chamber that the controversial Bill could be tabled for second reading.
"I have received a non-adverse report on the Indigenisation and Empowerment
Bill and it can now proceed for a second reading," he told legislators.
Indigenisation Minister Paul Mangwana, leading the government drive to
deliver foreign owned firms into the hands of indigenous black Zimbabweans,
immediately leapt from his seat, clapping hands in jubilation at news that
the Legal Committee had given the nod to the proposed empowerment law.
The Bill has heightened tensions between President Robert Mugabe's
government and foreign-owned companies because of a clause empowering Harare
to force the foreign firms to cede at least 51 percent of shareholding to
locals, which they feel is too high.
This week, bankers warned that the proposed law would be a blow to Zimbabwe's
depleted foreign investment inflows.
Foreign controlled Stanbic Bank and Standard Chartered Bank, among the four
biggest in the country, said any takeover of their shareholdings will lead
to a decline in foreign investment and "come at punitive costs to locals
investors earmarked to take over foreign companies."
Presenting papers on the Bill before a special parliamentary committee in
Harare on Monday, the banks warned the government that the threshold of 51
percent was unsustainable and should be reviewed down to between 30 percent
and 49 percent.
"Given the difficulties being experienced in the Zimbabwean economy and in
the banking sector in particular, Zimbabwean banks require foreign support
in securing international lines of credit," Stanbic Bank said.
"Once all banks are made indigenous, the current support relationships
arising from foreign control of certain Zimbabwean banks would be severed.
Currently, for example, the only banks providing offshore funding for
tobacco are the international banks. A case in point being Stanbic Bank, who
with the support of Standard Bank of South Africa, provided US$75 million
for tobacco financing in 2007," said the bank. - ZimOnline
Thursday 20 September 2007
JOHANNESBURG - Senegalese President Abdoulaye Wade says South Africa's
President Thabo Mbeki must not be left to toil alone in search for a
solution to the eight-year political crisis in Zimbabwe.
"It's a big mistake to always say that Zimbabwe should be left to Mbeki,"
Wade told international media.
"Mbeki is a man who has a huge amount of goodwill but this is a situation
which just one person cannot resolve alone, that much is clear," he said.
Mbeki has since last March been leading regional mediation efforts between
President Robert Mugabe's ruling ZANU PF party and the main opposition
Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party.
The Mbeki initiative has achieved little so far with the MDC on Tuesday
agreeing to back a controversial constitutional amendment that will empower
Mugabe to anoint his successor.
Analysts have however remained cautious over the Mbeki talks accusing the
South African leader, who is distrustful of the MDC, of seeking to ease out
Mugabe from power but still retaining ZANU PF in office.
Wade's comments came a day after the influential International Crisis Group
(ICG) said in a report that the Mbeki initiative remained the "only
realistic chance to escape a crisis that increasingly threatens to
destabilise the region."
The Senegalese leader said more African leaders must get involved in the
search for a solution in Zimbabwe that is in the grip of a severe economic
recession that has manifested itself in rampant inflation, widespread
poverty and unemployment.
"I think Africa has not helped Zimbabwe. I'm convinced that we haven't
helped President Mugabe," said Wade.
The Senegalese President is among the few African leaders who have mastered
the courage to speak out against worsening repression and human rights
violations in Zimbabwe.
Human rights groups and major Western governments accuse the majority of
African leaders of closing ranks with Mugabe and defending him to the hilt
whenever he faces charges of oppressing his own people. - ZimOnline
20 September 2007
ROBERT MUGABE'S dictatorship is in its 27th year and, in a country where
inflation stood at 6,592.8% year-on year in August, tens of thousands of
people are in life-threatening situations.
Zimbabwe is a country that should be able to support a thriving economy and
offer its people a decent standard of material comfort.
Instead, anyone who can has fled the tragic country. Hunger is having a real
impact on the population. Mugabe, who enjoys the public support of other
African leaders, is the clichéd basket-case ruler of post-colonial Africa.
Surrounded by sycophants and presiding over corruption that makes Idi Amin
look like a boy scout, every day he remains in charge jeopardises the lives
of thousands of Zimbabweans.
The lives of rural people have been devastated by the government's
ineptitude, with people dying from lack of drugs and electricity, and school
children forced home because they do not have money for school fees.
A day in the life of a priest in rural Zimbabwe
BY FR. PETER CHIMOMBE
MY DAILY schedule begins at 5am as I prepare for the morning Mass at six.
Today I had a rude awakening, having no bathing soap at all or tooth paste,
since most basic goods are no longer available in shops but only on the
black market following the price control legislation.
During Mass, I pray for God's intervention in the current abnormal
situation. I realize my own unworthiness; though I am holding the host in my
hands, suddenly I become aware that it is the host that is holding me, i.e.
Jesus himself in his Real Presence.
After Mass, I get a quick breakfast of porridge and black tea since milk and
bread have suddenly become luxury items that only affluent people can
afford. I can hardly finish this light breakfast because of hordes of
villagers waiting for me outside with a plethora of problems that need my
attention. One thing I have noticed in my pastoral ministry is that the
faithful out here in rural areas view a priest as a beacon of hope in the
midst of a myriad of problems and daily challenges.
As a priest I have suddenly become a counsellor, an advisor, a consultant,
an administrator, teacher and social worker all rolled into one. It is
amazing how, by merely talking to me, a minister of the Church, they go back
home with solace and renewed strength.
The rural folk are a very hopeful lot. They believe that the sun will rise
again tomorrow and the problems of today will be over.
8am sees me doing the daily hospital chaplaincy work, praying for the sick
and giving the Sacraments. I am told that five people passed away in the
early morning hours and have been taken to the mortuary. Three of the
deceased were diabetic patients who could have been saved had there been
enough insulin and other required drugs which are now scarce, even in
pharmacies. The other deceased person, who was on a life saving machine and
oxygen, passed away after the usual power cuts. The current load shedding of
electricity has had its fair share of human and economic casualties. I look
helplessly at the patients, many of whom will die due to drug shortages, and
all I can say is, "I am very sorry, take heart and believe in the power of
I leave the hospital around 10.00am and meet some of our boarding school
students who have been sent home to collect school fees. This term, our
school has doubled the fees to over $ 3 000 000.00 (three million Zim
dollars) as inflation continues to skyrocket. Most parents are finding it
difficult to make ends meet in this hyper-inflationary environment since, as
civil servants, their salaries are far below the poverty datum line.
The midday bell rings and most people within and around our mission stand up
to recite the "Angelus". This is followed by lunch. On the menu today is
'sadza' and mopani caterpillars, 'amacimbi', which are a delicacy here. Beef
now exists in the realm of dreamland only for many of us following a massive
de-stocking of the national herd during the 2000 land reform programme.
I wish to have a siesta after lunch but I cannot, as people keep knocking at
my door to share more family and social problems with me. Between 2pm and
5pm I am on my occasional pastoral visits around village communities. The
mission catchment area covers a 50km radius and I have to walk or cycle, as
there is no fuel at the filling stations.
As I go around the villages I am greeted with the reality on the ground,
namely how the people bear the brunt of suffering which has reached
monumental levels. God help us! Many of them (Christians included) have also
been swept away by the tide of corruption and black market dealings, to make
ends meet. I am reminded of the Latin expression, "Corruptio optimi pessima
est" (Corruption of the best is the worst). Among these villagers are former
urban dwellers whose humble 'informal' dwellings were destroyed by
bulldozers in the 2005 Operation Murambatsvina/Restore Order.
I notice how our once-lovely and peaceful society has turned into a 'state
of nature' - or 'Leviathan', as Thomas Hobbes would put it. Our society has
degenerated into a 'man-eat-man' society if not a 'man-eat-nothing' society.
Identifying myself with the poorest of the poor gives me fulfilment. Like
Blessed Mother Teresa, I realize that my work as a priest is only a tiny
drop in the ocean. However, the ocean will be less without that drop.
I carry my weary bones back to the mission for evening and night prayers and
will repeat the same process again tomorrow.
Let us unite in prayer for Zimbabwe. There is more suffering than meets the
eye. I urge my fellow countrymen to accept this as part of our way of the
cross (via dolorosa). If there are any lessons to be drawn from the wisdom
of the saints, especially St John of the Cross - in his book entitled 'The
Dark Night of the Soul' - we may realize afterwards that it is in the
darkness that the soul finds God. - Jesuit Communications
This article first appeared in In Touch (With Church and Faith) No 102, on
THE Central Statistical Office's recent inflation figures are "very
suspicious", economists have said.
In separate interviews with CAJ News, economists said the CSO's August
inflation figures were an attempt to give credit to government's price blitz
which brought untold suffering to companies countrywide.
After failing to announce inflation figures for more than three months
citing capacity problems, the CSO yesterday announced that the country's
annual inflation figure plummeted by about 1000 percentage points from the
July figure of 7 634.8% to land at 6 592.8 percent in August.
"I donot believe that.They merely based the figures on the background of the
price blitz but failed to measure the real prices which were prevailing on
the black market.
"Their calculations were based on assumptions since there were only a few
goods in the shops,most of the goods in that list were not there although
the government stipulated prices were readily available", John Robertson
The economists said the figures should not be taken seriously as exorbitant
black market figures were the real pointer of what they called "real
They said the slow down,the first in more than 12 months,was "manufactured"
to give credit to President Robert Mugabe's price-control programmes imposed
in July after business engaged in
incessant price increases.
Prices of such basic items as bread, sugar, milk and soap-all of them
components of the CSO bread basket-were slashed by half before a blanket
freeze was imposed on them.
The items immediately vanished from the shops only to re-emerge on the black
market where they were going at exorbitant prices,usually between 100 and
300 percent of the official price a situation which prevails to date even
after government's approval of a 20 percent price increase on all products.
For a long time now,independent analysts have been accusing the CSO of
allegedly suppressing real inflation figures to avoid anarchy among the
country's ordinary citizens who are the prime victims of the country's eight
year economic and political recession- CAJ News.
* "Highly inconsistent" *"Fails to honour promises"
BY ITAI DZAMARA
It has now emerged that SADC leaders are losing patience with the antics of
President Robert Mugabe and his rogue Zanu (PF) regime. Many of them would
like to see him leave the stage and are secretly backing the application of
pressure on the Harare regime, diplomatic sources confirmed this week.
Last week The Zimbabwean revealed that the South African government had
secretly admitted as long ago as February that Mugabe was the problem. This
information was gleaned from minutes of a meeting between SA officials and
members of the MDC (Mutambara).
The minutes state: "The meeting was held as a follow up to the meeting held
in Tshwane on the 3rd of October 2006 where the objective was to develop a
common position on what South Africa and the SADC should be doing to bring
an end to the Zimbabwe crisis."
A senior official in the SA government confirmed this week that the SADC
economic rescue package proposed at the Lusaka summit had been scuttled by
Mbeki's officials came to a position some time last year that they could not
continue shielding Mugabe and his regime because "they had been found to be
highly un-credible and inconsistent and had failed to honour the many
promises they made to the SA government".
"One of those promises was that there would be the repealing or at least
amending of bad pieces of legislation, mainly POSA (Public Order and
Security Act) and AIPPA (Access to Information and Protection of Privacy
Act)," said a senior official.
"Mugabe had also promised to stop, not reduce, state-sponsored acts of
terror and violence against the opposition and civil society, as well as his
verbal insults against the west, which have been one of the major causes of
the country's isolation and subsequent problems."
He said the SA government was also concerned at the "unrestrained economic
meltdown, which caused serious effects on the whole of SADC".
A Zambian diplomatic source said that in deliberations on the Zimbabwean
crisis, the Zambian government and President Levy Mwanawasa had reached a
consensus "that Mugabe had to go in order to solve the crisis and that there
was need to support various efforts at democratising the country's politics,
including the application of pressure by the whole world".
'Products that were in the formal sector, and therefore subject to some form
of control, are now (in) the black market sector, and prices are rocketing'
'The targeted sanctions imposed on the ruling elite are not the cause of our
'The tragedy is that much of the foreign currency that is acquired is not
used for the benefit of all the people of Zimbabwe'
'The reality is that our current economic situation has never been so
depressed and poor people have never been as vulnerable as they are now'.
In these extracts from his speech to Parliament on 4 September, Bulawayo
South MP David Coltart (MDC) shares his vision for the future
MR COLTART: This is not MDC propaganda; if you look at the article on
Zimbabwe, that the Zimbabwe government sponsored to the tune of US$1
million, in the September edition of New Africa magazine, you will see some
of the statements made in that document support what I am saying.
"For instance it records that our GDP as a nation is back to the level of
1953. We have lost over 50 years of economic growth in the space of a
decade. It is estimated also in New Africa magazine that 80% of Zimbabweans
are now living below the poverty datum line, including members of our armed
forces. Our economy is collapsing. For example, gold production last year
was the same as our gold production in 1907! The last time we had coal
production as low as it was last year, was in 1946. These are facts that
none of us can avoid. We see the manifestation of these things when we visit
the supermarkets. The reality is what we have seen in our supermarkets is
the symptom of a far deeper cancer in our society."
"We need to go deep into our history to find when it was that everything
started to go wrong. Why is it that in 1958 we had an economy bigger than
Singapore? And yet since 1958 we all, black and white, have managed to
reduce this country to the basket status it now suffers from. In my view the
problems started well before 1980. The root of our decay can be traced back
to many of the policies first implemented in the early 1960s. For example, I
believe that price control regulations were imposed in the 1960s. Foreign
exchange regulations were imposed in the 1960s but, most importantly Mr
Speaker, what happened in the '60s is that we removed one critical important
ingredient necessary for long-term sustainable economic growth and that is
summed up in one word - democracy.
"The Rhodesian Front government, in the pursuance of white minority rule,
discarded whatever democracy was developing in this country in the 1950s
under the leadership of real patriots such as Garfield Todd. Therein lies
the root of the economic collapse of this country. The Rhodesian Front
bequeathed to Zanu (PF) an undemocratic legacy, including the Law and Order
Maintenance Act, an undemocratic Constitution, complete control of the flow
of information - the RBC simply became the ZBC and did not change its
policies of supporting blindly the government of the day - price controls
and exchange-control regulations. Zanu (PF) merely picked up where the
Rhodesian Front left off."
"Mr Speaker, my Hon. Friend blames everything on sanctions and I want to
look at that now. The first point I want to make is that we must consider
the history of this country in this regard. We know that in 1966 the United
Nations very correctly imposed on the white minority government of Rhodesia
comprehensive trade and economic sanctions. They were a censure imposed by
the UN of racist policies. They were overwhelmingly enforced. The only
countries that breached those sanctions were South Africa and Portugal (and
partially by some countries like France). "However, the fact is that after
some 14 years of these sanctions in 1980 the Zimbabwean dollar was stronger
than the United States dollar. I am not seeking to be an apologist for the
Rhodesian Front. The point I am simply making is that despite the imposition
of comprehensive trade sanctions over a period of 14 years on the Rhodesian
Front regime, the Zimbabwean economy was nowhere near in a catastrophic
state as it is now - [Interjection, HON KASUKUWERE: It was a white man's
"Let me respond to Hon Kasukuwere: It may well have been a white man's
economy but despite that most people of all races then had basic access to
food, water and drugs, which they do not have now. Mr Speaker, we are
dealing with old historic facts. Irrespective of who is responsible for the
imposition of the sanctions and what their scope is, the fact remains that
the present targeted sanctions are not as comprehensive as the sanctions
imposed on 1966. This then begs the question: why then has our economy
collapsed almost totally under a more benign regime of sanctions now? The
reason is simple - the targeted sanctions imposed on the ruling elite are
not the cause of our economic woes . the sanctions, such as they are, were
first imposed in 2002."
"However if you look at the pattern of economic decline in this country, we
can see the economic decline did not start in 2002 but started in 1997. The
first thing that started the collapse . is that this government sent
Zimbabwean troops, not in Zimbabwe's interests but to protect private mining
interests of the ruling elite, to the Democratic Republic of Congo in 1997.
"Furthermore, Mr Speaker, unbudgeted payments were made to war veterans in
1997 which greatly increased the budget deficit and as a result the
Zimbabwean dollar plummeted and lost something like three to four times its
value in November 1997 - on the day commonly known as 'Black Friday'. If one
considers the economic records you will see that there was a further steady
decline from 1997 to 2002, five years before sanctions were ever imposed.
"(Sanctions) do not apply to Japan, China, Canada and many other wealthy
countries. .. In fact it does not prevent the Zimbabwean government from
seeking loans from other developed countries and it still has the right to
seek assistance from many international financial institutions.
"The fact that we have battled to get support is not because of American
sanctions but because our economic fundamentals are all skewed. In this
regard Mr Speaker Sir, we need to turn to what our neighbours have said and
in particular we need to consider what none other than President Mbeki said
in his weekly letter to the ANC just 10 days ago. He said two things in
particular: first was that the Zimbabwe government needs to address the
overvaluation of the Zimbabwe dollar. The second thing was that the Zimbabwe
government needs to end the quasi-fiscal expenditure which has been hallmark
of this government's economic policy over the last few years."
"The reason that we have our exchange rate pegged at ridiculous levels - the
reason the Zimbabwe dollar is still pegged at $250 to 1 against the US
dollar - is because this benefits the ruling elite which is still able to
buy foreign currency at these ridiculous rates.
"Mr Speaker, the regulations which require the productive sector to sell a
certain portion of its foreign exchange earnings to government at
ridiculously low exchange rates are part of this ruinous policy. The tragedy
is that much of the foreign currency that is acquired is not used for the
benefit of all the people of Zimbabwe. The tragedy - if the truth is told -
is that it is political elite in the country which benefits from this
policy. The preferential access to foreign exchange at staggeringly low
rates of exchange, that bear no relation to the real value of the Zimbabwe
dollar, is done at the expense of the Zimbabwean people.
"Mr Speaker, until what President Mbeki said is listened to, until the
exchange rate policy is looked at, until we bring to an end the preferential
access that certain people have to foreign currency, until we bring to an
end the unbudgeted quasi fiscal spending, until we end the irresponsible
printing of money, our national economic woes will continue."
"Mr Speaker, let me turn briefly to the issue of price control and the
Indigenisation Bill. Let me just say these price control measures were
introduced as a knee-jerk reaction to the rapid hyper-inflation experienced
in late June. The tragedy regarding the imposition of the price controls is
that just the opposite of what was intended will now happen. Far from this
quelling inflation, it has already fuelled inflation. There has been some
short-term benefit to some people but time will show that that is only a
small short-term benefit because all that has happened is that products that
were in the formal sector, and therefore subject to some form of control,
are now being sold by the informal sector, the black market sector, and
prices are rocketing.
"Until, Mr Speaker, we get back to a situation where the market determines
the price of products, this price-control policy will not be in the
interests of impoverished members of our society. We must stop kidding
ourselves. This new policy will only increase inflation."
"There is no doubt that because of the historical inequalities and
injustices there is a need for balance and fairness in our society. The
problem is that this policy as it is being devised will firstly, in my view,
not benefit the generality of the people but will only benefit certain
people in the ruling elite, which should not be the intention. Until the
whole process is opened up, until we can see that assets are going to be
transferred to the vast majority of our population, it will not be in the
interests of Zimbabwe. We have the land-reform programme as a precedent in
this regard. We can all see the evidence regarding what has happened in that
regard. Mr Speaker, it is now clear to all objective observers that the main
beneficiaries of the land-reform programme are those in the ruling elite.
The biggest benefit has gone to those political and military leaders who
have cherry-picked the most productive farms, most of which have now been
rendered derelict. That is not in the best interests of Zimbabwe. I have no
doubt that the same will happen to our businesses if the Indigenisation Bill
goes through in its current format."
"Mr Speaker, I have the right to speak about Zimbabwe as much as anyone
here. I was born in Gweru in 1957 and my roots in Africa go back to 1820 -
so I think I have the right to speak about my country, and I will. We need
to ask ourselves the question - why is it that Singapore which had a smaller
economy than ours in 1958 is now one of the strongest economies in the world
and yet our nation during the last 40 years has been reduced to the basket
status it is now?
"We need the following, Mr Speaker: Firstly we need to rekindle democracy in
our nation. We need to take concrete steps to root democracy. Integral to
that is a new constitution; but it must be a new constitution that we all
agree to; a constitution which is owned, which is embraced by all
Zimbabweans. It cannot just be a document we agree to in this House; any new
constitution must be embraced by all our people. We need to enter into a new
contract with each other and the Zimbabwean people.
"Secondly, Mr Speaker, we need to remove many of the controls over our
society and our economy. I would like in this regard to return to Hon
Kasukuwere's speech and his example of China. Hon. Kasukuwere spoke about
China as a great example. I think we have many lessons to learn from China.
There are four or five provinces of China which are responsible for the bulk
of economic growth enjoyed there at present. These provinces have some of
the most liberal economic environments one can find anywhere in the world.
There is minimal legislation which controls the activities of the private
sector - indeed I stress there is less bureaucracy, less red tape for
businesses in these provinces than there is in any other country in the
world. That is a fact. In other words, the Chinese Government has embraced
the private sector and this has promoted growth in its economy with
spectacular results. What we are doing now in Zimbabwe through price
controls and through certain provisions in the Indigenisation Bill is just
"In conclusion, may I repeat that our nation is in crisis - the resolution
of that crisis should transcend partisanship. We need to put our hands
together in this House to devise policies than can stabilise our country. We
need to devise policies which will bring back our brains.
"Mr Speaker, if we move away from rhetoric to constructive action I have no
doubt that this nation can still be the jewel of Africa ." [Interjection,
DR. MUGUTI: It is the jewel of Africa]. Coltart: "No, at present it is not
but it has the potential to become that - but that can only happen when all
of us move away from all this empty rhetoric to consider the harsh
circumstances that the poor are facing in our nation today. Our futile
posturing must stop immediately. We must, without delay, devise practical
solutions to address this economic and humanitarian catastrophe."
Retail, transport and agricultural sectors grind to halt
BY BAYETHE ZITHA
BULAWAYO - An estimated 400 000 Zimbabweans will lose their jobs within the
next 12 weeks if President Robert Mugabe's government maintains his
price-control blitz, analysts have warned.
In a desperate bid to reduce the country's runaway rate of inflation, which
is currently around 7,600 percent, the government two months ago deployed
state agents, the police, army and youth militias to move from shop to shop,
forcing owners to slash prices of mainly basic foodstuffs.
This resulted in an unprecedented rush for goods, which has left shops empty
and managers not willing to re-stock for fear of incurring huge losses.
Most long-distance and urban transport operators, who were also forced to
reduce fares, have grounded their fleets, while garages have stopped
restocking their tanks.
Economic analysts this week warned that the country's food crisis will
worsen within the next couple of weeks as manufacturers of bread, maize meal
and cooking oil, among other goods, have stopped production.
"The country will totally run out of food within the next two weeks as a
result of the price standoff between government and shops. All those
celebrations we had seen from those that were fortunate enough to get the
cheap goods have faded away, and they have begun cursing the government,"
said an analyst who requested not to be named.
Already, more than four million Zimbabweans are reported to be either in
need of or to be surviving on food aid due to a combination of factors,
ranging from inadequate rainfall in farming areas, to the government's
controversial seizures of productive white-owned land, now owned by mostly
political bigwigs, war veterans and Zanu (PF) supporters who have failed to
maintain food production levels.
Bulawayo-based economic analyst, Eric Bloch, warned that the country's
seven-year-old economic spiral, which is largely blamed on mismanagement of
the economy and bad governance by Mugabe, will accelerate within the next
"For the past two months the government has been forcing businesses to
operate at a loss and most shops are no longer re-stocking. There is also
not even a single drop of fuel at filling stations due to the unrealistic
prices that garages are forced to sell at and that has worsened the economic
decline. The best way out of this crisis is for the government to modify its
approach immediately," said Bloch.
Some public transport operators manufacturers, wholesalers and retailers are
said to have warned heir workers that they might be forced to retrench them
within the next three weeks if the government does not change its
heavy-handedness on businesses, as they can no longer sustain large
"More than 300 000 people employed in the manufacturing, wholesale and
retail shops are surely going to lose their jobs in the next few weeks if
this trend continues because there is no business taking place at the moment
and that should be blamed on the price crackdown by the state," said Bloch.
In the transport sector, more than 100,000 jobs are being threatened by the
Leading clothing retailer, Edgars, has announced that it will close 19 of
its branches nationwide, while some multi-national companies with large
foreign ownership are gradually pulling out of the country.
Government has announced plans to take over companies that have stopped
production - raising fears of an even worse economic collapse, bearing in
mind the state of rundown parastatals like the National Railways of
Zimbabwe, the Zimbabwe United Passenger Company and the Cold Storage
HARARE - Zimbabwe's High Court will today rule on an application by the
opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) to win the right to launch
its 2008 presidential election campaign and commemorate its 8th anniversary
in Masvingo at the weekend.
The police barred the MDC meeting because Vice President Joice Mujuru would
also be in the same town to address ruling party supporters.
MDC lawyer Alec Muchadehama said the opposition party had asked the High
Court to dismiss the excuse by police to bar the opposition rally, saying
Mujuru's function was not scheduled for Mucheke Stadium, where the
opposition intends to hold its "landmark" 8th anniversary celebrations.
Police Commissioner Augustine Chihuri is cited as the first respondent in
the court application while Officer Commanding Masvingo district Lancelot
Matange is cited as the second respondent.
Under the draconian Public Order and Security Act (POSA), the police have to
be notified of any political gathering in advance. The MDC notified police
on September 6 about the planned rally. But in a letter dated September 12,
2007 Matange claimed the police would be tied up at a State function to be
addressed by Amai Mujuru on September 22 and 23 in Masvingo and would be
short on manpower.
MDC spokesman Nelson Chamisa expressed disappointment in the selective
application of POSA by the police, adding he hoped the courts would
decisively deal with the matter. He said the MDC was going to take legal
action against the police, as well as challenge the constitutionality of
POSA from which the police were drawing their discretionary powers.
Forum urges ICC to indict police officer in SA
BY TRUST MATSILELE
PRETORIA - The International Criminals Court is being urged to indict, for
crimes against humanity, a senior Zimbabwean police officer currently
seeking medical treatment in South Africa.
Bothwell Mugariri, a senior assistant police commissioner and officer
commanding Harare province, is recovering at Milpark Hospital in
Johannesburg after being involved in a near-fatal car accident in July, in
Mugariri was a police spokesman at the height of the 2000 and 2002
parliamentary and presidential elections, a period during which scores of
opposition Movement for Democratic Change members were killed or assaulted
by state security agents and Zanu (PF) youth militias.
According to human rights lawyer Gabriel Shumba, Mugariri is cited in as
many as 25,000 violations. "Over 25,000 cases of human-rights violations
were recorded in the past six years, with the police being directly involved
in some of the worst violations against government critics.
"We have to consider that most of these violations were committed in Harare,
and Mugariri is among those who sanctioned and oversaw these crimes," said
Shumba, who is also the director of Zimbabwe Exiles Forum.
The organisation has been compiling data on human-rights violations
perpetrated by the Mugabe regime.
If the indictment proceeds, it would be a test case on serious human-rights
violations committed by the Robert Mugabe regime since 1980.
Calls have been made by various human-rights organisations across the globe
to have Mugabe and other Zanu (PF) and government officials arrested and
prosecuted by the international court, for gross human rights violations in
Zimbabwe. A number of Zimbabwean civic society organisations based in South
Africa are reported to have lobbied and passed information to the ICC.
"Some of the information that is on the dossier prepared by the civic
society organisations is that Mugariri, as Officer Commanding Harare
Province, was the one who sanctioned the attack on MDC supporters by the
police in Highfield, Harare in March this year," said a source.
The ICC is currently investigating four situations related to genocide,
crimes against humanity and war crimes in Northern Uganda, the Democratic
Republic of the Congo, Darfur in Sudan and the Central African Republic. The
ICC has intensified its efforts to have Ahmad Harum and Ali Muhammad Ali
from Sudan, who have an outstanding arrest warrant, brought to The Hague.
Former Liberian president Charles Taylor is currently facing trial at The
Hague for human-rights violations.
Shumba said, after Mugariri's indictment, the ZEF in liaison with other
Zimbabwean organisations, would provide a list of senior Zanu (PF)
implicated in crimes.
BY TRUST MATSILELE
DURBAN - The University of KwaZulu Natal (UKZN) will next week see
disgruntled Zimbabweans demonstrate against Zimbabwe's resources being
squandered on educating children of the ruling elite.
The Zimbabwean government is spending over R10 million a year for the
children of senior Zanu (PF) and government officials to study at the
university under the presidential scholarship programme, documents obtained
by this newspaper reveal.
The presidential scholarship is meant to help disadvantaged but academically
gifted Zimbabwean students with tertiary education.
However, our investigations have shown that over 30 students related to
senior government and Zanu (PF) officials are benefiting from this
An invoice sent to Chris Mushowe, the Minister of Transport and
Communications and presidential director - a copy of which is in the hands
of The Zimbabwean - shows that the government paid an initial deposit of
almost a R1 million (Z$30 trillion) for 20 students.
"The Zimbabwean government is heartless, as it is failing to improve the
education system in the country but using the resources meant for that to
send their children to elite colleges outside the country," said John
Chikwari, the secretary-general of Revolutionary Youth Movement.
As a result, we have decided to hold a demonstration at the university to
show the world what is happening in Zimbabwe. We also hope that the
university is going to know that it is making super profits from the sweat
of suffering Zimbabwean taxpayers."
Amongst the so-called 'disadvantaged students' at UKZN are Chipo and Hillary
Matibiri - President Robert Mugabe's niece and nephew. Hillary was a
magistrate in Zimbabwe until he resigned to take up the scholarship.
Other students are Laura Sibanda the daughter of Zimbabwe National Army
general, Major-general Phillip Sibanda; Simbarashe Masoka, the son of
agriculture permanent secretary, Ngoni Masoka; and Brigadier Phillip
Kundishora's twin daughters, Jacqueline and Elinor.
Australia recently deported the children of high-ranking government
officials who were studying there. Now there are fears those children will
be sent to UKZN.
In Zimbabwe, a crisis is brewing at the country's oldest university, the
University of Zimbabwe, after only a quarter of the students turned up for a
new semester that began last week while acute accommodation and financial
problems kept thousands others away.
Standfirst: BBC correspondent Sue Lloyd-Roberts has been to Zimbabwe,
undercover. Robert Mugabe's regime does not want foreign journalists to see
the reality in the country today - how his policies are starving the most
vulnerable to death and causing thousands to flee every week. This is her
I am eating a frugal dinner (chicken and chips is all there is on the menu)
in one of the few restaurants left in Harare today on my first night in
Zimbabwe. I am with a group of middle class Zimbabweans, a G.P., a landscape
gardener, an economist and an engineer. The lights flicker on and off
(electricity cuts are the norm here) creating an appropriate backdrop to our
talk about the crisis in Zimbabwe. Suddenly there's an uncomfortable
Everyone is looking, accusingly, at my plate where my chicken remnants still
have a trace of meat and fat on them. I look at theirs. All that is left is
a pile of dry bones from which every morsel of meat and gristle has been
wrenched. In Zimbabwe today, everybody is hungry.
As dawn breaks over the capital, people start forming long, silent queues
that wind around entire blocks of the city. One in five adults has no job
and so there is all the time in the world to wait. There has been no cooking
oil or the African staple, mealie meal, in the city for days but there is a
rumour that bread could be arriving in the city today. Five hours later,
they are still waiting.
Policemen and soldiers arrive, apparently helpfully supervising the queue
and giving a surreal air of normality to the city scene. "They just
pretend," explains James who waits in the queue with five children back at
home to feed. "They get the first news if a lorry is on its way with
supplies and they jump to the top of the queue and loot the food."
Zimbabwe was one of the richest countries in Africa before Robert Mugabe's
attack on the commercial farms seven years ago. It now boasts the world's
fastest shrinking economy. With inflation at 8000%, it has become a country
of barrows, buckets and bags. You see people walking for miles, wheeling
barrows, buckets on their heads and plastic bags in hand. On one street
corner, I saw a man climb into a skip and stuff vegetable peelings in his
People are starving. The evidence is in the hospitals where tiny, wizened
babies lie dying in their cots while their mothers look on helplessly. A
mother cradles a child who is losing her hair and her skin - a sign of the
most advanced form of Kwashioka, or, vitamin deficiency. It is the first
time I have seen this type in 20 years of reporting on the developing world.
Many of the children have contracted Aids from their mothers and, with their
bodies further weakened by malnutrition; they are unlikely to leave the
hospital alive. "Zimbabwe once offered a model for public health in Africa",
a doctor complains, "it's now becoming a textbook case of medical horror."
Government hospitals are understaffed and underequiped. The hospital which I
visit in the west of the country is run by a Roman Catholic mission and,
with funds from abroad, can manage better than most but even they are
overwhelmed. "We only have one ward for children with malnutrition",
explains Sister Liliana, "and it's not enough because the numbers are
increasing every day. There are so many children in the rural areas who
cannot come to the hospital due to the transport shortages and due to the
financial problems and definitely they will die."
Drive out to the townships and you see why doctors now say they are bracing
themselves for even worse. Two years ago, Robert Mugabe ordered the
destruction of thousands of homes. Now the survivors live crowded into the
remaining buildings or in makeshift, corrugated huts. There is no
electricity or fresh running water and sewage spews out of the dilapidated
buildings. Desperate for drinking water, residents have dug makeshift wells
in the surrounding area.
"There is little doubt that the breakdown in the urban destruction in the
cities was a deliberate, political move," says one prominent paediatrician
in Harare. "And now people are forced to dig shallow wells for water. I
think an outbreak of cholera in this situation, with the lack of resources
and medical staffing and so forth, could be potentially dangerous, in fact
disastrous and lead to a very high mortality particularly in vulnerable
groups, such as those suffering from HIV Aids, children and the elderly."
"Robert Mugabe has declared war on us, the people who live in the towns. He
wants to drive us out", says a man with a wheelbarrow piled high with
plastic water containers. In the frenzy of urban destruction which the
authorities called "Clean Out the Filth", soldiers and their bulldozers
targeted homes belonging to supporters of the opposition, the MDC, the
Movement for Democratic Change, whose traditional strongholds are in the
cities and towns. "He is paving the way for next year's elections", he
James, whom I met earlier in the bread queue tells me of another way the
ruling party of Robert Mugabe, Zanu (PF), has started rigging the elections
scheduled for March 2008. "Last week, we were registering as voters at a
local school here. The Zanu (PF) candidate brought people in buses from the
rural area, 150 miles away, to register here. They were filling the whole
room just to make it hard for us, the citizens of this constituency, to
register. They were just disturbing the whole process so we could not
register." - Continued next week.
HARARE - A senior Roman Catholic priest of the Harare diocese has slammed
the Zimbabwean government for its persecution of retired Archbishop Pius
The Bishop was speaking from Johannesburg where he was giving another view
on allegations of a sex scandal involving Archbishop Ncube to South African
human rights organisations.
"Archbishop Ncube's case is reminiscent of that of the MDC president Morgan
Tsvangirai who, in 2002, was arrested after similarly inaudible video
footage was said [to reveal a plot] to assassinate President Robert Mugabe,"
said the priest.
The Bishop's visit to South Africa came a few days after Mugabe's
spokesperson and Minister of Information and Publicity, George Charamba,
lashed out at the Roman Catholic Church in Zimbabwe for defending the former
Ncube is a leading critic of the Mugabe regime for crimes it has committed
against humanity. He helped compile details of the Matabeleland atrocities
which left more than 20.000 civilians homeless. The report, Breaking the
silence, building true peace, was intended for use when the time came to
indict Mugabe. - Trust Matsilele
Grain waits at Mozambique port
HARARE - Government failure to find US$300m in foreign currency to pay for
grain held in a Mozambique port is to blame for the country's starvation,
according to Agriculture Minister Rugare Gumbo.
Gumbo's revelations come at a time when the Zimbabwean government has
rejected food aid from international organisations and European countries,
saying it does not want food aid with conditions. The government also
accuses donor agencies of using food aid as a political tool in support of
the opposition parties.
Responding to a question in parliament on when the Zanu (PF) government
would collect the maize and wheat imported from Brazil and held in Beira,
Gumbo said the maize would only be available to starving Zimbabweans once
foreign currency was available.
Zimbabweans have been facing serious shortages of basics such as
electricity, fuel and maize meal since the country embarked on its land
reform programme in 2000.
"We are looking into all aspects of bringing sufficient wheat and maize into
the country and within the next few weeks we will be able to collect the
imported grain," he said.
The Minister said the government was aware of the current shortages of
mealie-meal and bread and was doing everything possible to ensure that food
was available in the country.
One MDC MP, however, said Gumbo's statement showed that Zanu (PF) was
delaying bringing in grain until the time of the parliamentary and
presidential elections next year.
Minister Gumbo attributed the current food shortages to drought. Zimbabwe
needs 1.8m tonnes of maize a year, but managed to produce only 953,000
tonnes during the season, down from 1.5m tonnes harvested last year.
Mr Gumbo said grain production needed to be intensified during the coming
season to avert food shortages.
The state-controlled Herald reported that, by June this year, the government
had imported 500,000 tonnes of maize from Zambia and Malawi at a cost of
US$280m and recently gave an extra $Z2 trillion to the Grain Marketing Board
to buy grain.
The Minister refuted claims that some fertiliser manufacturing companies had
closed down, saying they had only scaled down operations due to foreign
currency, fuel and electricity shortages.
He also assured the nation of adequate maize seed supplies in the
forthcoming farming season.
"We are satisfied with the supply of seed to farmers," he said, adding that
the GMB had already started distributing fertiliser to farmers.
The government would continue to limit movement of maize to 150kg to curb
black market trading.
Despite reports of an imminent breakthrough in the South African-brokered
peace talks between the MDC and Zanu (PF), there is growing scepticism about
the Mugabe regime's sincerity. State-sponsored violence against opposition
and civic groups continues unabated, as do Mugabe fulminations against the
west and the independent media.
"There is hope in all of us but even Tsvangirai himself is not sure about
what is in Mugabe's mind and whether this will work or not. The same
scepticism is shared by Mbeki and his colleagues because Mugabe is capable
of repeating his habit of indicating right but turning left," said a senior
Amid continued official silence, which has fuelled widespread speculation
about the progress of the talks, President Thabo Mbeki met MDC leaders
Morgan Tsvangirai and Arthur Mutambara in Pretoria last week.
The talks are believed to have focused on the Mugabe regime's controversial
18th Amendment to the Constitution, expected to be tabled in Parliament this
week. Mbeki apparently has persuaded Zanu (PF) to redraft the amendment,
removing the more offensive sections pertaining to his continued grip on
But a senior ruling party official denied this. "As Zanu (PF) we are not
aware of any changes. The reports of changing our laws to please the MDC we
only read from you journalists but what we know is the bill will soon be
coming for debate in parliament in the form we agreed at our politburo
meetings," said the official on condition of anonymity.
Legal affairs minister, Patrick Chinamasa, told The Zimbabwean: "The
contents of the bill will be revealed at the appropriate time and sorry I
cannot speak on behalf of the opposition." - Itai Dzamara
BY ITAI DZAMARA
One of the most stupid habits is that of biting off more than one can chew.
Recent visits to Highfield, Glen View and Mufakose revealed horrendous
scenes of raw sewage flowing into houses and bare-footed young kids playing
in pools of human waste. Residents have become accustomed to scrounging for
water and travelling distances of up to 20km carrying buckets in search of
Needless to say, toilets have become serious health hazards.
A similar situation prevails in towns and cities across the country. In fact
it is getting worse - and there seems no hope of a reprieve. The state media
continues to report that the Zanu (PF) regime insists that water and sewage
reticulation services are being adequately handled by the Zimbabwe National
Water Authority (ZINWA). These reports rub shoulders with others claiming
that the aging and increasingly senile Robert Mugabe and his failing
government will ensure that everyone is well fed.
In short, the regime continues to bite off what it can't chew - for the
simple reason of wanting to cling to power at the expense of many lives.
This animal called ZINWA has been described by even parliament as
incompetent and, in true character, the crazy Mugabe regime contemptuously
ignores advice from everyone.
We all know that ZINWA is yet another avenue for looting by the sycophants
who are part of the Mugabe system and who want us to believe they are
leaders, when in actual fact they care nothing about the people of this
country and only want to continue making huge profits.
A stranger to this country or a reader of news from afar would be forgiven
for thinking there is in Harare a very caring regime with the people at
heart, due to the propensity of Mugabe and his system to continue chewing
and chewing - even through they no longer have teeth to chew with. The
regime is actually chewing more as we approach the elections in order to
hoodwink the electorate into believing that it has their interests and
welfare at heart.
But as indicated above through the microcosm of Harare's high density
suburbs, every button that the regime is pressing turns into a nightmare for
the people, who, while choking in their homes with the stench of raw sewage,
grapple with increased power cuts and endure constant hunger.
Let the source of our misery be clear to every Zimbabwean.
Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation (ZBC), mouthpiece of the Zimbabwean
government and Zanu (PF), is battling to pay salaries and to get staff into
Most ZBC staffers including the Corporation's Acting General Manager, Robson
Mhandu, do not own vehicles and have to depend on the ZBC's depleted fleet,
which is beset by breakdowns, fuel shortages and financial problems.
The ZBC, which is publicly funded through licence revenue, has been
privatised to propagate Zanu (PF) party business. Since 2000, the state
broadcaster has been unwilling to give air time to the opposition and other
civic society organisations such as the National Constitutional Assembly, a
leading civic society organisation that is calling for a new constitution in
An investigation by The Zimbabwean revealed that ZBC employees have been
paid late for the last three months. Those working for business units not
generating profit, such as National FM and Spot FM, are reported to be owed
salaries from August.
Research by a coalition of media lobbying bodies, which was leaked to The
Zimbabwean, revealed that Zanu (PF) advertisements, costing billions of Zim
dollars, had not been paid for since last year.
Sources within ZBC have revealed that salaries were now being paid according
to an employee's loyalty to the party and to Robert Mugabe.
Journalists have shunned the ZBC for its bias towards Zanu (PF) and its
failure to practise journalistic principles such as fairness and accuracy.
Committee member Nelson Chamisa, who is also spokesperson of the opposition
MDC, said, as an example of bias, ZBC had failed to cover the 160 recent
meetings and political rallies held by the party.
Robson Mhandu attributed the lack of alternative voices on ZBC to poor
communication which resulted in them failing to receive information on time.
He also said the state broadcaster reserved editorial independence to decide
which voices and issues could be aired in the "public interest".
"That is our prerogative as professional broadcasters," he said.
Asked to explain the criteria ZBC used in determining public interest,
Mhandu said the broadcaster was within the guidelines of broadcasting
Critics have called for legislation to guarantee the broadcaster's
independence and to make the ZBC answerable to Parliament, as opposed to the
current situation of operating in secrecy.
Mhandu said the broadcaster faced critical problems with the shortage of
foreign currency to import necessary equipment and had not received any
funding from government since 1995.
"The resource base does not allow us to go to every corner of Zimbabwe. We
are not able to give television coverage all the time we are requested to do
so. This is not by design but this situation is compelled by the resource
base situation," he said. - Trust Matsilele
This year's Zimfest was an authentic Zimbabwean experience in every way.
Hungry festival goers lined up good-naturedly in long queues, waiting
patiently to sample a boerewors roll or get some sadza.
"We have seen record numbers this year," said organiser Philip
Chikwiramakomo. "We are sorry to all those who were inconvenienced by the
queues. The support was so overwhelming that our capacity was stretched to
the limit. Zimfest has become the premier showcase for Zimbabwean talent and
industry and next year's event can only be better."
The funds raised from the festival go to support many needy people and
charitable projects back in Zimbabwe. However, Zimfest is not just about
raising money, the festival has also become a place where a wide range of
Zimbabwean artistic talent is showcased.
This year, acts included a range of Zimbabwean musicians from the soulful
and spiritual music of Chiwoniso, to jazz legend Paul Lunga; from singer,
dancer and drummer Anna Mudeka, to the roots-soul groove of Thabani.
Events included a football tournament and a dance and cultural space where
theatre and story-telling took place, and people tried their hand at playing
By Carole Gombakomba
19 September 2007
Nominated U.S. ambassador to Zimbabwe, career diplomat James D. McGee said
in a Senate confirmation hearing on Wednesday that he would continue to
press Harare for democratic reforms but would seek to reopen dialogue with
McGee told the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations he would pursue the
same pro-democracy agenda in Zimbabwe as his outspoken predecessor,
Christopher Bell, but would try to re-engage the government of President
Nonetheless, McGee, a former ambassador to Lesotho, Madagascar and the Union
of Comoros, bluntly told the panel that Zimbabwe today is "suffering under
authoritarian misrule" while Harare "continues to commit unspeakable human
McGee commended former ambassador Dell, whose hardline stance and outspoken
criticisms once led an enraged Mr. Mugabe to declare, "Dell, go to hell."
Sen. Russ Feingold (D-Wisconsin), presiding over the hearing, asked McGee
who he intended to engage in his diplomacy, making the comment that the U.S
administration has failed to communicate effectively with the Zimbabwean
McGee said he would engage the Southern African Development Community, which
in March asked South African President Thabo Mbeki to mediate the crisis.
But McGee and Feingold agreed SADC's response to the crisis had been
McGee said he would also work with the international community to bring
about the political and economic reforms needed to end the crisis and
As Zimbabwe readies for presidential and general elections, McGee told the
panel, "it is imperative that there be a substantial period of time for all
candidates to campaign on a level playing field." He said that unless Harare
makes the necessary changes, "the elections will not reflect the will of the
McGee added that in order to help the Zimbabwean people, the United States
must continue to support Zimbabwean civil society, which he said would be of
great help in Zimbabwe's "eventual recovery," especially in the area of food
When the struggle against Zapu was at its height in the mid 80's,the
regime here used the distribution of food as a political weapon for the
first time. I recall it well because we were in a severe drought and
was widespread shortage of food supplies from traditional sources. The
Brigade was doing its "thing" in Matabeleland and although we knew all
not well, we had scant idea of the full extent of that genocidal
In that year, the government cut off supplies from State controlled
and effectively said to the Ndebele people - if you continue to support
Zapu, one way or another you will die. This was no idle threat - they
at least 20 000 people in the campaign, more than had died in the
of the country over many years and they controlled the basic staple
They did this by erecting roadblocks on all roads leading into the
areas in Matabeleland; these had instructions to stop the entry of
practitioners and also all forms of basic foods. Relatives in the urban
areas and in South Africa could not reach their families with aid when
requested and no publicity of the operation was allowed.
In 1987, after 5 years of murder, mayhem and hardship, Zapu capitulated
was absorbed into Zanu PF. There was little else they could do if their
people were to survive. The record of this savage political campaign is
published in the report "Breaking the Silence" now in book form.
At that time there was no threat to the hegemony of Zanu PF in
They dominated the political scene and held an overwhelming majority in
Parliament. Mugabe wanted more - he wanted a one Party State. He could
tolerate any opposition.
Since then many new opposition voices have come and gone. One by one
were eliminated by effective but less bloody techniques - infiltration,
subversion, bribery, threats and a media black out with propaganda.
necessary they used violence - targeted and ruthless, or their economic
muscle to force leadership to leave the field or retire hurt.
Then came the MDC, a new labour based political movement with strong
roots support. Initially confident that the same lethal mix that had
poisoned the ground for opposition parties in the past would do the job
again, Zanu PF simply ignored the threat leaving it to the security
that held responsibility, to "fix" the problem.
When they finally woke up the morning after the referendum in February
they suddenly knew they were in a real fight - this time for power
MDC had won the referendum even after those responsible for the vote
ensured that it would be rigged by 15 per cent and had assured them
they would win the vote quite easily.
The response by the regime to this electoral shock was predictable. Mr.
Mugabe gave a vintage performance on National television saying that he
accepted the decision of the people, but behind that cold façade was a
ruthless and cruel determination to use every tool in the Zanu PF tool
against these new usurpers.
In the intervening 7 years, Zanu PF has been forced to gradually
its campaign to retain power, in the process losing its democratic
credentials and its standing in the world community. Now Zanu faces its
serious threat since 1980 South Africa has forced the next election
March 2008 and the SADC is demanding that Zimbabwe fulfill its
as a member and adhere to the SADC norms for free and fair elections.
The strategy evolved by those doing this sort of thing in Zanu PF and
government itself, called for acceptance of changes to the actual
procedures on the day, but was intended to deliver a broken, bloodied
and a radically changed electoral pattern to the poll. So we have seen
renewed attacks on MDC structures - across the country, renewed use of
imprisonment, false accusations, torture and savage beatings, all
to drive activists out of the country and to ntimidate those who
Then the operation, like Murambatsvina in 2005, designed to close down
business in urban areas, take over major export industries and drive
the country another 2 to 3 million urban inhabitants. This is well
and I estimate that half a million urban residents have already left
country for other countries - most going to South Africa. Millions more
preparing to go and will move as soon as their plans are made.
As part of this integrated strategy the regime here has increased
over basic food supplies. They are systematically denying the urban
food - there is now no maize meal, no rice, no bread, no meat or beans,
urban areas. People are scavenging for food and the struggle to feed
families and the elderly is becoming well nigh impossible. Couple this
water rationing or no water at all, water borne disease and fuel at
000 a litre and the local mini busses charging Z$100 000 per trip to
and you have a situation that is simply intolerable.
This situation is being creating deliberately - fuel is supposed to be
selling at Z$350 per litre - the actual street price is Z$2 million for
litres. Maize meal is supposed to be sold at Z$5 000 a kilo - the
price is Z$25 000 a kilo. Meat is supposed to be sold at Z$240 000 a
but the market price is not less than Z$1 million a kilo. The real rate
inflation for the ordinary worker is probably about 20 000 percent and
wages and income are rising slowly - controlled by government.
The plan was that by the time of the election in March 2008, the Cities
would be a shadow of their previous state, population down by half and
that remained, hungry and dependent either on Zanu PF employers or the
for survival. The MDC would also be reduced to a shell and a broken one
that! In the rural areas it was Zanu's calculation that their hold over
traditional leaders plus food control would deliver the vote.
This use of a mix of manipulation of the vote using the voters roll,
delimitation process in determining voting districts and then
physical control over voters on the day, has enlisted the support of
donor community who pour hundreds of millions of dollars into
assistance each year. The agencies involved allow themselves to be
by the State for this purpose by only doing what they are allowed to do
this field and supplying food through official channels. NGO's are seen
extensions of government liable to be denied access to communities at
whim of local political authorities. Often Zanu PF is allowed to even
food aid operations. The UN Agencies are all guilty of such actions.
Breaking the hold of Zanu PF over the electoral system is only one half
the equation we require to secure our rights as a people. Their hands
also be taken off the price controls and the availability of food and
If we are going to get anything like a free and fair vote in 2008, this
latter aspect, which is very much under the control of foreign donors
investors, needs urgent attention.
Bulawayo, 19th September 2007