By Peta Thornycroft
"We live like pigs. No, pigs live better than us. We eat berries from the bush, which is food for baboons. That is our life since the tsunami," said Roderick Tchakayika, a father of five, outside the remains of his neighbours' house, which was knocked down on June 19.
Mr Tchakayika, 48, was talking about what Zimbabweans call their own "tsunami" - a man-made event almost as extreme as the Asian disaster.
It is three months since President Robert Mugabe sent in bulldozers that within hours flattened 4,000 homes in Hatcliffe Extension, about 20 miles north of Harare. Life was hard before; it has since become unbearable.
Most people of this suburb, who all owned "stands" - small patches of land - on which they had built small homes, are living in pitiful circumstances.
Most also lost their incomes as they were largely informal traders, also targets of Mr Mugabe's ''Operation Clean out the Filth'', whom police have been ordered to prevent trading again.
Donors are helping. Unesco put up tanks for drinking water and the Roman Catholic Church is erecting up to 300 plastic shelters ahead of the summer rains due in four weeks.
Since Mr Mugabe began his campaign against the urban poor, and after condemnation from the United Nations that up to 2.4 million people had been affected, the government is building some houses. In Hatcliffe Extension there are about 50, not yet complete, and no one there knows who will get them.
"It will be the army or police, not us as they say we voted for the MDC [the opposition Movement for Democratic Change]," Mr Tchakayika said.
Miriam Sithole, 46, came from the rugged mountains of eastern Zimbabwe 15 years ago. Her husband has an occasional job as a carpenter in Harare.
"I couldn't go because I must protect my stand,'' she said. ''The house is gone. The kids are not going to school because our money is short for fees as we have to pay relatives to look after them."
This is not Liberia or Somalia, this is bountiful Zimbabwe, with its temperate climate and vast resources, Africa's second most industrialised country until Mr Mugabe began to dismantle it.
Even in the worst of times, during the civil war of the 1970s and international sanctions against the minority white Rhodesian regime, there was enough food and foreign currency for essential imports.
Zimbabwe is running on empty. There is no fuel except for the tiny minority with access to foreign currency, the inflation rate is the highest in the world at about 300 per cent, most mines and the few surviving industries are on short shifts, and there is only one working fire engine in Harare.
Most people in the poor, western suburbs of the second city Bulawayo are without water not because dams are empty but because pumps need foreign currency to repair them.
At Epworth, an informal settlement south of the city, piles of bricks remain where they fell on June 19. A 57-year-old car mechanic whose small garage was demolished said: "We used to complain before the tsunami. We were wrong. Life was OK then, we just didn't know it."
Harare - Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe has called for vigilance by the
country's armed forces against what he terms a "vicious imperialist onslaught"
by Britain and the United States, the state-run Herald newspaper reported on
"Faced with this vicious imperialist onslaught, it is most important that our forces maintain a high level of vigilance in jealously guarding our sovereignty and birthright," it quoted him as saying on Sunday as he presented awards at a shooting competition in the capital.
"Our detractors should know and see that Zimbabwe shall never be a colony again," said the president, whose country has seen a sharp slip in relations with former colonial power Britain since the introduction of a controversial land reform policy in 2000.
Mugabe has often accused Britain of sponsoring the main opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), which he said London was using as a puppet to recolonise the southern African country.
|'Zimbabwe shall never be a colony again'|
By Peta Thornycroft
Platinum giant Zimplats is the goose that lays the biggest and shiniest eggs in an otherwise bleak Zimbabwe, but President Robert Mugabe's desperate tax collectors nearly killed the goose last week.
Hours before the giant corporation prepared to shut off the giant furnace which spews out Zimbabwe's most reliable source of foreign currency, Deputy President Joseph Msika had to step in to stop an extraordinary and unprecedented calamity.
So desperate is the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (Zimra), for income, it hounded Zimplats for about R100-million, most of it in "penalties" for taxes on imported capital goods from which it is supposed to be exempt, and also a new tax which is not yet law.
Zimplats executives in Zimbabwe and Keith Rumble, CEO of its South African holding company, Implats, wrote to Msika last week - after a letter previously delivered to the Ministry of Mines was ignored - to warn that unless Zimra dropped its demands, the furnace would be turned off.
Rumble sent an urgent letter hand-delivered to Msika's office to say: "This action runs contrary to the signed agreement and to all the
assurances given by your government to date."
"Zimplats didn't want to do this, but felt they had no option and had the courage to stand their ground," said economist John Robertson who has monitored the development of platinum in Zimbabwe.
Zimplats' R1.5-billion furnace at Selous, 88km south-west of Harare, is the largest industrial plant in Zimbabwe and runs 24 hours a day, every day. If switched off it would have stalled R60-million of scarce monthly foreign currency earnings for Zimbabwe.
It would have taken at least four months to restart, according to Robertson. He said molten metals would have solidified on cooling in the furnace and it would have taken at least four months to drill out and reline before it could be used again.
Few of the 2 000 personnel employed by Zimplats knew of the close call last Friday.
Company executives in Zimbabwe and South Africa took the decision, according to Robertson, because they had no option as they believed Zimplats's bank account would be emptied if it was forced to meet Zimra's demands and there would be no funds left for production costs.
Joseph Msika was informed that Zimra had ignored his order of a few days previously to leave the mining giant alone and he had to intervene formally at the last minute.
"Zimra is desperate for revenue as the economy has shrunk by 50 percent in six years, but in addition, Zimra officials are paid incentives and have become bounty hunters at a time when the economy is moving towards anarchy," Robertson said.
Zimplats executives were not available for comment this week and were reportedly in South Africa.
The company's massive expansion due to begin a year ago was stalled because of investor uncertainties over the international agreement signed with the Zimbabwe government 18 years ago regarding mining houses retaining foreign exchange to finance necessary imports.
On Friday the Reserve Bank published a notice listing about 1 000 companies it accuses of failing to surrender foreign currency earnings to the bank within 90 days.
The notice, published in the press, said that R1.2-billion was outstanding and half of that was owed by "delinquent" companies now facing criminal charges. Some of the companies listed closed down several years ago.
|Jan Lamprecht was born and raised in Zimbabwe, then
called Rhodesia, during the "Bush War", which resulted in Robert Mugabe coming
to power. He was educated in Harare, the capital of the country, before leaving
for South Africa, where he spent some time in the Navy. He wrote a book called
by Deception" about African politics related to Zimbabwe and the effects
Mugabe's policies may have on other countries.|
He publishes a popular, highly "politically-incorrect" web site AfricanCrisis.org
More than 200 foreigners, mostly from the Great Lakes region, are suspected to have cross into Zimbabwe through undesignated points en route to South Africa, Botswana and other Southern African Development Community countries to seek refugee status since July.
A police officer at Kanyemba was quoted on Monday by the Herald newspaper as saying that the country's eastern and northern borders, stretching from Nyamapanda to Kanyemba, are being used as crossing points to preferred destinations by immigrants from the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and Rwanda.
Last week, 26 illegal immigrants from Somalia were arrested in Harare after they handed themselves over to the police.
Kanyemba Border Post, which connects Zimbabwe, Zambia and Mozambique at the confluence of the Zambezi and Luangwa rivers, is a popular crossing point for illegal entrants from the DRC, with dozens sneaking into the country every month.
"Some immigrants from the DRC and other countries in the Great Lakes region are crossing through this point, and are following proper immigration procedures because we conduct routine patrols around this area. We have so far deported one Congolese immigrant for failing to produce valid documents," the police officer said.
Nevertheless, he could not rule out the possibility that immigrants who would have been turned away at the border would use undesignated points to cross back into Zimbabwe.
Most immigrants cross in hired canoes at Lake Cabora Bassa from Zumbo and Panhame in Mozambique to avoid immigration authorities. They easily sneak into or out of Zimbabwe using undesignated points on the country's frontier with Mozambique and Zambia.
After Kanyemba, the first police checkpoint for immigrants is at Mahuwe, over 200 km from the border and immigrants can easily find their way to Harare.
Some people working at Kanyemba live in Luangwa on the Zambian side and they cross the border on a daily basis without even bothering to get passes, which are a requirement for people living in villages within 20 km of the border area.
These further assist people from outside the border area to cross into Zambia or smuggle goods out of the country and back by night.
September 26, 2005, 06:30
Benjamin Mkapa, the outgoing Tanzanian president, has attacked the South
African media for their reporting on Zimbabwe. Mkapa says the South African
media has crucified the government of Robert Mugabe for redressing historic
He was addressing students of the University of Lesotho, where he was bestowed with an honorary law doctorate. Mkapa also called for an African education system that is responsive to the socioeconomic challenges facing the continent.
Lesotho's King Letsie III, who is also the chancellor of the University of Lesotho, bestowed Mkapa with the honorary degree for the role he has played in conflict resolution and management in Africa.
By Tawanda Hondora
Last updated: 09/21/2005 08:24:42
WHAT has caused Zimbabwe’s once stable economy to so spectacularly collapse?
Many in the world place the blame on Robert Mugabe, the country’s President
Among the issues usually cited are Mugabe’s land policies, endemic
corruption, Zimbabwe’s involvement in the DRC war, absence of the rule of
law, and other ill-conceived economic policies.
It is also argued that Mugabe’s political intolerance, electoral fraud and
gross human rights abuses have contributed to the country’s economic
Indeed, it is true that each one of these often cited factors has
contributed, or provides an explanation to Zimbabwe’s current economic
problems. However, western countries and media almost collectively ignore
one other significant factor responsible for the country’s economic
collapse: economic sanctions imposed by the US, the EU, and Australia
Given that Mugabe’s often cited and main transgression, which has given rise
to the country’s international isolation, was his forcible expropriation of
farmland owned by the country’s white farmers, and the implications of his
actions for the respect of private property rights and investments in the
region, this collective amnesia is hardly surprising.
It is often argued that the sanctions in place against Zimbabwe are not
economic in nature; rather, the argument goes, there is in existence a
regime of smart sanctions, which targets specific ZANU PF loyalists.
This is not true.
Zimbabwe’s economic woes are the direct result of a concerted and systematic
campaign to effect regime change through an economic implosion.
Zimbabwe has a critical shortage of foreign currency. However for the past
four years or so, Zimbabwe has been unable to obtain finance or credit
facilities from international lenders to inject into the economy. And this
is a direct consequence of a sanctions regime imposed against the Zimbabwe
by particularly the US, and the EU.
That Mugabe is an evil, brutal, dictator that needs to be removed from
office is not in doubt. It is however immoral to cause the removal of Mugabe
from office by precipitating the collapse of a developing, only recently
independent, now famine-ravished African country through an economic
The US introduced economic sanctions on Zimbabwe through the Zimbabwe
Democracy and Economic Recovery Act, 2001. (ZIDERA) Through this enactment
Zimbabwe’s access to finance and credit facilities was effectively
ZIDERA empowers the US to use its voting rights and influence (as the main
donor) in multilateral lending agencies, such as the IMF, World Bank, and
the African Development Bank to veto any applications by Zimbabwe for
finance, credit facilities, loan rescheduling, and international debt
cancellation. The US cites Zimbabwe’s human rights record, political
intolerance and absence of rule of law as the main reasons for the
imposition of sanctions. The ZIDERA also suggests that if Zimbabwe acts to
correct these ills, then the sanctions will be removed and economic support
measures are suggested.
Simply put, owing to the size of the US vote and influence in these
institutions, neither the IMF, World Bank nor the African Development Bank
will lend to Zimbabwe, or offer it credit facilities. Therefore, needless to
say, as a direct result of the US 2001 Act, Zimbabwe’s relationship with
these multilateral lending agencies was immediately and severely affected.
In addition, Zimbabwe’s ability to reschedule its loan payments and to apply
for debt cancellations in times of severe financial crisis was severely
And once the IMF and World Bank stopped doing business with Zimbabwe, this
had an immediate and adverse impact on Zimbabwe’s credit and investment
rating. And with a drop in investment rating went the dream of low cost
capital on the international markets.
ZIDERA was a masterstroke. At the stroke of a pen, Zimbabwe’s access to
international credit markets was blocked. And relying purely on barter
trade, and trade, mining, agricultural concessions, and on exports-generated
foreign currency, Zimbabwe’s economy has been slowly but surely asphyxiated.
And the consequent foreign currency crisis has resulted in the continued
devaluation of the domestic currency, rapid inflation, and all else that has
manifested itself in the current Zimbabwe economic crisis.
In addition, both the US and the EU have frozen financial and other assets
of persons, or companies linked to ZANU PF. It is alleged that such
companies sustain the ZANU PF government. There may be a grain of truth in
that observation. However, what is often ignored in the race to rid Zimbabwe
of Mugabe is that companies operating in Zimbabwe provide a livelihood to
thousands of families, and contribute to the development of the country.
Australia is reported to have denied Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe officials’
business visas to travel to Australia. And the US is putting in place a raft
of measures aimed at specified ZANU PF linked individuals, their families,
It is apparent therefore some of the most powerful countries in the world
have put in place measures to bring about the downfall of Mr. Mugabe by
orchestrating the economic collapse of Zimbabwe. It is wrong to conflate
Zimbabwe with the personality of Mugabe. They are two distinct entities. It
cannot be right to say that economic support will be provided to the country
once its leader is out of power. As Zimbabwe, all too dearly knows following
the Lancester House Agreement of 1979 on the land question, such promises
are impossible to enforce.
No matter how evil a dictator Mugabe is, it cannot be right to force his
downfall by killing off the country’s fledgling economy, by erasing the
gains made after 1980, and worsening the AIDS, and unemployment crisis.
Those championing the imposition of the economic sanctions often retort that
Zimbabwe’s ability to borrow from the IMF and World Bank was restricted in
any event because it had fallen foul of its agreements with the IMF. This
argument is however disingenuous. It ignores the other more vicious
consequences of ZIDERA on the Zimbabwean economy.
In addition, the suggestion that what is in existence is a regime of
symbolic travel bans and some asset freezes is far from the truth.
It is correct that Zimbabwe must be made to pay its debts, including money
that it owes the IMF. However, in the circumstances of Zimbabwe, going
through a financial crisis, it is immoral for the IMF to insist on the
payment of over US$175 million on pain of expulsion from the institution for
Zimbabwe recently managed to stave its expulsion from the IMF by reportedly
paying £150 million towards its debt obligations to the institution. It was
all too obvious however that Zimbabwe paid the money out of desperation. The
country cannot afford the payment it made. Zimbabwe paid the money because,
owing to US influence among others, it was unable to formally reschedule its
IMF loan payments. Amidst all this, it is reported that the country has
critical foreign currency shortages, has run dry of fuel and other
essentials, has record high unemployment levels, and now has crippling
inflation rates. In addition, the UN suggests Zimbabwe is suffering from
The suggestion that Zimbabwe’s economy is what it is because of
mismanagement is partly true but misleading. What Mugabe has done is to
mismanage the endemic crisis caused by the country’s inability to access
capital, which in turn are the result of a raft of economic sanctions in
place against the country.
There are no doubt other reasons why Zimbabwe’s economy is in the doldrums;
chief of which are myopic, ill-advised ZANU PF government policies and
corruption. But one cannot ignore the damaging effect the sanctions have had
on the economy and how the country and its economy are being slowly
asphyxiated by the blockade on access to international capital markets.
The question has to be asked: are the US, EU, Australia, and the MDC, any
closer to removing Mugabe from power because of the economic sanctions
currently in place? Is it not true that an economically independent people
are much more likely to vote or rebel against a brutal dictator?
Yes, Mugabe must be removed from power, as must the institutions he has
created to bolster his political power. However, this is likely to remain a
pipe dream for as long as the prevailing philosophy supports the destruction
of the country’s economy.
Tawanda Hondora is a Zimbabwean lawyer currently studying towards a PhD at
Warwick University in England. He be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org
Mail & Guardian
Robert Kirby: LOOSE CANNON
25 September 2005 11:59
After all the flak he’s taken, all the direct hits, all the shrapnel he’s absorbed over the years, it is quite amazing that Robert Mugabe hasn’t stepped out of the firing line, retreated even a little tactical distance. But he feels no pain. He doesn’t even shudder when a bomb goes off right under his feet. He just goes on leering at his enemies, that little quincy smile on his face, his head wobbling on gimbals like some dysfunctional puppet. He doesn’t even drop down into his trench for a quick bandage and some stitching. He just stands there, a great big target against the sky, begging everyone to have a shot at him.
Robert Gabriel Mugabe, dictator-in-residence, overall owner-manager and head bouncer of what is now humorously known as the Zimbabwe Ruins, is a man totally unto himself. The trouble is that all 80- something sensationally haughty years of him will go down in African history for all the wrong reasons. He will be called a despot and a tyrant, all the rest of the worn-out cliches used on the Idi Amins and the Charles Taylors. No one will see him for the uncompromising titan that he is.
Whatever you may say about Mugabe, he is not a hypocrite. When, back in the early 1980s, Joshua Nkomo’s Matabeleland opposition got a bit whiffy, Mugabe didn’t waste time issuing utopian statements about Godstate democracy, collectivism and constitutional prerogatives -- as our Thabo Mbeki and Jacob Zuma are wont to do. He didn’t set his specialist corruption police on ring-patrol. He simply sent the Korean-trained Fifth Brigade extermination squad into Matabele-land and wiped out several thousand of the mothers.
The Matebeleland massacres safely under his belt, Mugabe has used exactly the same full-frontal approach of the Fifth Brigade to destroy his country’s economy, its democratic matrix, its hope. The Fifth Brigade operated between 1982 and 1987. It has taken Mugabe about the same amount of time, five years, to bring Zimbabwe to its knees. He’s not a pariah for nothing.
Mugabe’s virtues are entirely by default. In the writhings of the interminable African political game, he is the solitary unchanging value, the one you feel you can trust to behave exactly as he’s always done. He has no pretensions whatsoever to political self-improvement. He’s happy to be the monster standard.
Such purity of intention we should all admire. Mugabe is an enduring antithesis to the quotidian hypocrisies of politicians anywhere. Only last week he was up on sticks at the United Nations, telling them straight to their smug faces what appalling wankers he thinks they are. A week before that he was instructing the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to go piss up a rope. What other latter-day leader of a tiny nation has had the sheer spunk to say that the developing world should be more aware of what the IMF really is: a cabal of rapacious international pawnbrokers engorging themselves as they call in the pledges they hold on the natural wealth of about a third of the world? There isn’t a magnificent tree that falls to a French logging company in Equatorial Africa, there isn’t a handful of ore that doesn’t get claimed as interest on some loan made by the IMF or the World Bank.
I can’t help watching Mugabe, relishing the utter contempt in which he holds the fanciful bodies, committees and commissions so beloved of G8 meetings. Mugabe does what he wants, not what anyone else wants. Has the Southern African Development Community ever looked quite so ridiculous, so self-immolating and ineffectual as when Mugabe ignored its recommendations and continued on his own sweet way? Does he really give a blind tinker’s about such visionary substances as New Partnership for Africa’s Development? Not for an African Union minute.
And when it comes to force- feeding the prejudices of white people, there’s nothing quite so nourishing as the Mugabe diet. His country may be starving, but the bigots feast on his every action and word. Only last week he was raving on about there being quite enough potatoes to go round if only his people would start eating them. That’s entertainment!
Unlike many of his contemporaries, Robert Mugabe makes no bones about his disdain for white people. He’s quite far along the way to the establishment of his own Platonian ideal, when every last Blair-loving honky, dispossessed of all property, is shovelled out of the country. White folk in Zimbabwe know exactly where they stand and that’s not only in three-day petrol queues. Non-gay Chinese are the new flavour of the week in Harare.
It’s too easy to call Mugabe names. Whatever he’s called, he remains the sort of power-crazed African nightmare politician all the other “reformist” African politicians seem quite prepared to tolerate among their ranks -- in some cases openly encourage, even talk of emulating.
What better embodiment of Bacon’s immortal couplet: “He doth like the ape; that the higher he climbs the more he shows his arse”? What you can’t help but wonder is how long it’s going to take for Mugabe’s fellow leaders to stop admiring it so much.
Sent: Sunday, September 25, 2005 7:41 PM
Subject: Zimbabwe: Sokwanele Newsletter - International Peace Day
Demonstration (Late Posting)
Sokwanele - Enough is Enough - Zimbabwe
PROMOTING NON-VIOLENT PRINCIPLES TO ACHIEVE DEMOCRACY
International Peace Day Demonstration (Late Posting)
Sokwanele Report: 25 September 2005
We apologise for the late posting of this article, owing to circumstances
beyond our control.
On International Peace Day, Wednesday September 21, the feisty protest
group, Women of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA), staged a peaceful demonstration in
Harare, demanding "Peace not Poverty". Until the riot police intervened
with batons it was an entirely peaceful, orderly and good-natured protest.
About 200 women started their march from the Market Square. It had been
intended to complete the short protest walk at Harare's Town House, a few
blocks away, but the ZRP riot squad was quickly deployed in response and
blocked their way when the women were just 100 meters from Town House. As
they walked the women sang with great gusto, and their singing attracted the
attention of motorists and passers-by, many of whom joined in the march.
Along the way the WOZA women distributed fliers which were quickly picked up
by the crowd - itself a sign of the new boldness Zimbabweans are
demonstrating in embracing anything promising change. In the past
pedestrians have been fearful of being seen picking up opposition or protest
The reason the march was intended to finish at Town House was that the women
were bearing a message to the Town Clerk, Nomutsa Chideya. In the message,
co-signed by WOZA and the Combined Harare Residents' Association, the
protesters drew attention to the significance of International Peace Day,
and demanded "Peace not Poverty".
The letter continued, "Our sister Anna Tibaijuka (The United Nations Special
Envoy) said Zimbabweans are today deeper in poverty, deprivation and
destitution and have been rendered more vulnerable . We, citizens, know that
the Harare Commission were part of the architects of Operation Murambatsvina
and should be held accountable for crimes against humanity".
"The legitimacy of your commission is already under suspicion. Instead of
delivering services, you are launching operations that disturb what little
peace we have left".
The letter concluded with a demand for the right "to elect our own civic
leaders and hold them accountable to deliver all services like water and
A short distance from Town House the protesters were intercepted by
baton-wielding riot police who lashed out at them without mercy. The WOZA
women have developed to a fine art the technique of appearing, as if from
nowhere, on the streets of Zimbabwe's cities and then disappearing just as
quickly after making their dramatic protests. Most of them managed to escape
arrest on this occasion, though not to avoid bruises and cuts from the
police batons. It is believed however than three of their number were
detained by the police. Human rights lawyers are seeking to establish the
whereabouts of the three and the nature of any charges brought against them,
but at the time of filing this report the lawyers had not been able to make
contact with them. The ZRP are once again reported to be proving less than
helpful in permitting those in their custody the legal right to see their
September 22, 2005
Visit our website at www.sokwanele.com
Visit our blog: www.sokwanele.com/blog/blog.html
25/09/2005 22:02 - (SA)
Harare - Didymus Mutasa, Zimbabwean minister for state security and land reform, on Sunday denied accusations by the white commercial farming community that he had threatened them, saying they had to report all farm attacks at their nearest police station.
White commercial farmers in southeastern Manicaland province in Zimbabwe are apparently living in fear after a new spate of attacks flared up.
The new wave of attacks came after Mutasa allegedly described white farmers as "rubbish" that had to be exterminated at a meeting two weeks ago.
Several attacks have taken place in Chipinge and Nyazura during the past few days.
One of the worst attacks took place on the Ashanti farm in Chipinge, jointly owned by Canadian-born David Wilding-Davies and Graham Hill, vice-chancellor of the University of Zimbabwe.
About 15 armed soldiers attacked Wilding-Davies last Wednesday after he had come to the aid of his manager, Allan Warner.
Warner, a South African, was allegedly thrown to the ground, kicked and beaten. He received 12 stiches to the head after the attack.
The soldiers were apparently led by Joseph Chiminya, a senior official of the Central Intelligence Service.
"Chimiya had an Uzi machine gun. He aimed it at me and fired but fortunately it didn't go off," Warner said.
Gideon Mostert, a coffee and dairy farmer in the area, was attacked by the same group a few hours prior to the attack on Wilding-Davies but managed to find shelter in a local church.
Mostert said a diplomat at the Zimbabwean embassy in London was behind plans to forcefully confiscate his farm, Brackenridge.
In Nyazura, also in Manicaland, the farms of Jene Herrer and David Barnard, Tsungwezi Source and Tsellendal, were also confiscated.
Doug Taylor Freeme, chairperson of the Agricultural Union (CFU), said the attacks in Chipinge and Nyazura had caused fear among the farming community and would have an influence on Zimbabwe's already flailing agricultural production.
Of the original 4 500 farmers in Zimbabwe in 2000, only 500 remained.
Zimbabwe Standard (Harare)
September 25, 2005
Posted to the web September 25, 2005
Pius Wakatama/Sunday Talk
IN these dark days one is inclined to be overly thankful even for the smallest of mercies. Any slight measure of reasonableness from the theatre of the absurd, which is what our Zanu PF has become, is welcomed.
We now anxiously look for any semblance of sanity from that maddening camp just to keep that faint glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel flickering. What else do we have but hope and faith in the power of God to transform our suffering country.
This is why I joined those who applauded Dr Herbert Murerwa, Minister of Finance and Dr Gideon Gono, Governor of the Reserve Bank, for putting up a spirited fight to keep the wolf at bay by prevailing on the International Monetary Fund not to kick us out of that organization. Our international creditors would have pounced upon us, broke as we are, and like vultures torn off all the little flesh we still have.
According to Gono our international assets including export receipts could have been seized. Business would have ground to a halt because we would have not been able to enter into any international transactions. The little foreign currency that we still have trickling in would have been effectively blocked.
Some say Gono and Murerwa stole from exporters' foreign currency accounts the money they used to pay the IMF. Others say the money should have been used to buy much-needed food and fuel to lessen the people's suffering. The important thing is that we paid and avoided a much worse calamity from befalling us.
Gono said: "What is now required is that we stay on course to ensure that our economic objectives come to fruition. The close range of voting (by the IMF Board) is indicative of how serious and close the country had gone towards being expelled."
He pointed out that it was really critical for Zimbabwe to urgently utilize the six-month grace period given by the IMF to bring the country back into the international fold.
Speaking before the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Budget and Finance, he said: "We should move away from price controls. They do not help. It is some of these policies that are creating additional distortions. We are in a globalized village. There is no country that tinkers with this kind of thing."
I said, Amen, to brother Murerwa's words because way back on 31 January 2000, I said the same thing myself. Writing in the ill-fated Daily News, I said: "Last month President Mugabe was quoted as saying the government intended to impose further price controls on the prices of maize meal, bread and beef. What this move will do to our already cumbersome relationship with the IMF does not need any serious contemplation.
"However, it clearly proves that price controls do not control prices. They only cause all kinds of economic dislocations. If we are following the free enterprise system, then price controls by government or anyone else for that matter have no room. Price controls create shortages in the short term and as a consequence higher prices in the long-term."
Our President and his host of praise singers would not allow him to tamper with their confused populist and socialist policies which landed us in our unenviable situation in the first place. They desperately want to see an economic turnaround without getting rid of their ill-conceived ideas about the economy and governance. In other words, they want to have their cake and eat it, too. We are being proven right.
Paying the IMF would not have been a problem had we co-operated with our friends in South Africa and accepted their offer of financial assistance. Gono and Murerwa would not have stooped to robbing private citizens' foreign currency accounts, as is alleged.
Our President and some deluded Zimbabweans seem to think that our continued membership of the IMF is only a matter of paying our debt.
Our problem is not the clearing of arrears. There will be no restoration of voting rights by the IMF and no international support until we put in place real reforms which will lead to our political recovery. Even our friend South Africa is not willing to pour money into a State that has no chance to recover economically to repay its debts.
In today's world, democracy and sound economic policies spell prosperity. Empty slogans, clever propaganda and arrogant posturing will not grow our economy. We must not be lulled into sleep by the six-month reprieve. After that period we can still be kicked out of the IMF.
Unfortunately our President does not seem to appreciate the precarious position the country is in. He continues to shoot himself in the foot. Unfortunately still, that foot happens to be in a rather fragile shoe which is the nation of Zimbabwe. He shot himself in the foot recently when unnecessarily, he said in Havana, Cuba: "The IMF is willed by the big powers which dictate what it should do. We have never been friends of the IMF and in the future we will never be friends of the IMF." What President Mugabe hoped to gain by that undiplomatic outburst only the devil knows. After all their efforts to placate the IMF, Gono and Murerwa must have groaned in despair.
As though this was not enough Mugabe went ahead and signed into law the Constitutional Amendment (no 17) Bill which changed the fundamental laws which dealt with the acquisition of agricultural land. Just as Gono proudly announced the US $120 million payment to the IMF and promised reforms to stabilize and grow the economy this retrogressive legislation to nationalize all land and denying the people recourse to the courts of law is passed. Apart from being undemocratic because it usurps the power of the judiciary, this law will effectively stop any investor, local or foreign from even dreaming of investing in Zimbabwe. It will also not endear us to the IMF or to the international community without whose assistance Zimbabwe is doomed.
Our President is now totally detached from reality. Otherwise he would not have told the world that Zimbabweans have enough to eat. While at the United Nations, he told Associated Press that those of us who are hungry are hungry because we only want to eat sadza and not rice or potatoes of which, he said, we have plenty. This reminded me of Queen Marie Antoinette whose opposition to reforms during the French Revolution, contributed to the overthrow of the monarchy. She said if the French people didn't have bread they should eat cake. Soon after, the French revolution engulfed the country.
I felt sorry for the old man. Whether this detachment is caused by the senility of old age or cruel lack of caring for his fellow-man, I can't say. Surely the lives of suffering Zimbabweans should be more important to him as the father of the nation than his inflated ego.
Other level-headed ministers and Zanu PF leaders should now also join Gono and Murerwa to see that we remain in the IMF and are accepted back into the international community. They should now tell the truth and shame the devil. It is now or never. They should now stop admiring the king's new clothes when they and the whole world can see that the king is stark naked.
Murerwa saw the damage caused by price controls and spoke out. Gono also clearly saw the people's lack of food that at one time he even suggested that we invite back some evicted commercial farmers to help us to grow much needed food. Who is going to stand up next?
He who has ears to hear, let him hear.
26 September 2005
Discussions within Zimbabwe’s opposition Movement for Democratic Change to date show a leaning among supporters against taking part in elections for the senate which is being reinstituted under a constitutional amendment rammed through parliament by the ruling ZANU-PF party, MDC President Morgan Tsvangirai said Monday.
Members of the MDC’s youth wing agreed in a weekend meeting that the party should not field candidates in the senate which a senior government official has said are to be held in December, opposition youth affairs chairman Nelson Chamisa told VOA.
MDC youth and others opposed to seeking senate seats say that participation would in effect endorse the ruling ZANU-PF party’s patchwork constitutional changes. Such opposition members also argue that taking part would legitimize what they allege to have been systematic election rigging on the part of the party in government.
But MDC Secretary General Welshman Ncube told the Standard newspaper that the party should enter the ballot because its National Council made a commitment in the runup to the March 31 general election, to participate in future elections.
Mr. Ncube and others of his opinion add that boycotting the senate elections will mean surrendering the democratic space to President Robert Mugabe's ruling party.
Reporter Carole Gombakomba of VOA’s Studio 7 for Zimbabwe asked Mr. Tsvangirai about the ongoing debate inside the country’s main opposition party.
26th September 2005
Read more about the platinum group metals markets in Johnson Matthey's bi-annual reviews click here.
Impala Platinum (Implats), owner of Zimbabwean platinum miner Zimplats, has refuted suggestions that it is preparing to close its Zimbabwean operations.
Last week the Zimbabwe Independent claimed that the platinum miner was so frustrated with a tax dispute between the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (Zimra) and itself that it was preparing to pull out of the country altogether.
However, a spokesman for the platinum giant insisted that the company is not considering closing down its Zimbabwean operations, and that view was reinforced by Implats executive director, Les Paton.
Speaking to Reuters, Mr Paton stated: "We did not threaten to close the operation."
Instead, Mr Paton revealed that Implats is looking to resolve the issue, adding that the matter has been referred to the attorney general.
"There has been some private correspondence between Zimplats and Zimra and we remain in touch with the authorities," he commented.
Mr Paton also maintained that there was no bad feeling between the company and Zimra, pointing out that the tax body has suspended its actions until the outcome of the attorney general's findings are known.
© Adfero Ltd
September 26, 2005
The Memorial Service for the late Timothy Robert Mills, who passed away
suddenly on Friday 23rd September 2005, will be held at St Mary's Church
[Enterprise Road], Highlands, on Thursday 29th September.