The past few weeks have had a funny feel about them. Nothing you can put
your finger on, just a sense that something is about to happen and we do not
know quite what. Human senses can be like that. I recall a warm Matabeleland
evening on a farm on the edge of the Matopo hills when a group of us were
walking back to the farmhouse from a small dam. We had several small dogs
with us and there were both adults and children. I had a feeling then that
we were being followed. I turned and looked back to see if there was
anything - nothing that I could see. But when we finally got to the house, a
leopard came out of the grass at the side of the road, picked up one of the
dogs and slipped away into the bush. So fast we were left wondering, "Did
that really happen?"
Mugabe has just completed one of his forays onto the world stage - first a
three-day State visit to Cuba and then his annual holiday in New York
courtesy of the UN World Assembly. I am puzzled by the almost total absence
of any sort of news about the Cuba visit. I saw a bit of television
coverage - no sign of Fidel, just the Cuban Prime Minister looking very
uncomfortable at a joint press conference. Silence means either something
significant happened, or that nothing happened. I have a feeling that this
time it was the latter. Mugabe has no friends left to whom he can turn to
This was clearly demonstrated in the China/Malaysia visit where he came away
empty handed, we learn now that in fact the Chinese leadership told Mugabe
that "so long as we are your only friends in the world, we will find it
difficult to help you." In other words - "repair your relations with the
other major players and then we will help". The Indians were even less
accommodating - not willing even to entertain Mugabe and his entourage.
So we have the Mugabe regime about as isolated as any in the world - we do
not have a nuclear programme to force others attentions and with which to
threaten our region and play the "bad boy or else" game. But translating
isolation into a democratic process of political change that will deliver
the kind of transformation that we need to save the country is another
As I write the opposition in Myanmar (Burma) is considering what they should
do after 17 years of resistance and campaigning for change. Their leadership
still under house arrest and a military Junta still in power and enjoying
the connivance and support of its neighboring countries like Thailand and
Malaysia. Are we destined for a similar fate? Our neighbors tolerating the
state of affairs here simply because the effort to effect real change is
just too much trouble?
But Mugabe is very vulnerable - he is 83 years old, has not set up a
succession plan which might work, his ship is sinking fast - GDP will
decline by up to 10 per cent this year - now down by 50 per cent in 7 years,
export earnings continue to fall and the final nails are being driven into
the coffin of agriculture so that farm output this coming summer will
provide only about 20 per cent of our needs. Unless Mugabe is prepared to
accept that up to half the population will either die or flee the country,
he is simply running out of freeboard and the sea looks very cold and
The issue is what will trigger the required changes? If we look at the power
brokers in Zanu PF - Munangagwa and Mujuru (the husband not the wife), they
are desperately looking for a way out of this dead end alley. They have
canvassed this with the MDC seeking assurances that they cannot expect about
the safety of their persons, freedom and assets (ill gotten gains). They
have looked long and hard at fighting their way back to the shore - a
strategy that requires further manipulation of the constitution to give them
more time (extending the term of the President to 2010 or making it possible
to appoint a successor for two years until fresh elections are held in
They are considering who might be in the team at that stage - Simba Makoni
as a fresh face with a decent smile as President, Munangagwa as a tough
street fighter as Prime Minister (more constitutional gerrymandering). John
Nkomo and Mai Mujuru as Vice Presidents to give the team ethnic balance.
Their problem is that even while they consider what to do and what staff
changes to make in the captains cabin, the boat they are all riding in is
actually sinking rather fast. Survival depends on millions of its passengers
bailing out - weakening the opposition and reducing the cargo in the hold.
Even this may not be enough and unless they can stop the crazy antics of
those who are drilling holes in the bottom of the boat - like Chinamasa,
Mutasa and Chombo, this tub is still going to the bottom and then we are all
in the drink - whatever our allegiances and position today.
The suggestions that the MDC abandon ship and set up an alternative
government in another boat a safe distance away from this sinking ship, is
not workable. Talk about us leading a charge on the Bridge and taking
control is also not a workable strategy - workable, I said, it may be
tempting but in fact in today's environment unlikely to work. So we are left
with pressure on those on the Bridge - from those who will be most affected
by the final sinking of this particular ship. From those who can offer
safety to those who fear the worst from the sea.
The signs are all there that such approaches are taking place - South Africa
remains steadfast - "we are here, right next door, you can see us from the
Bridge, we can help - but first you must agree to certain conditions". The
Captain of this sinking ship may splutter and explode with anger at the
stated conditions, but he is no longer in any position to bargain. Even Mr.
Anan has offered to come and look at the situation - from the safety of a
helicopter - but he too has stated that if we want that to happen then we
must concede the conditions the South Africans have laid down. No less.
This morning the BBC covered a story about the UN granting emergency relief
worth US$30 million to help the victims of Murambatsvina. While they covered
the story they showed footage shot secretly by local volunteers of the
conditions in Zimbabwe. The pictures were disturbing to say the least. There
is now no doubt that thousands are dying away from the reach of the
television cameras, but those on the Bridge know this as do those next door
offering help. The question is how much longer before a warning shot is
fired across their bow?
Bulawayo, 28th September 2005
27 September 2005
The International Monetary Fund is putting together a technical team to determine the precise origin of a $120 million payment that Zimbabwe made to the institution before a critical September 9 IMF board meeting, a senior Fund official told VOA.
The official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the team will review transactions involved in preparing the payment to see if there was any violation of private property rights in the process. Matumwa Mawere, a Zimbabwean businessman who formerly enjoyed close ties with the ruling elite around President Robert Mugabe but fled the country last year, has accused Harare of looting his assets for part of the funds.
IMF Africa Department Deputy Director Siddharth Tiwari said last week that the Fund’s executive board ordered the investigation. He said officials in Harare would be called upon to address the issue in a “transparent and open manner” in the investigation.
The IMF Executive Board met September 9 to vote on whether to recommend that the institution’s board of governors vote to require Zimbabwe to withdraw its membership because of debt service arrears piled up to $295 million before the recent payment.
Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe Governor Gideon Gono told the government-controlled Herald newspaper that the funds in question were legitimately sourced from “export proceeds, free funds and foreign currency liquidations,” then paid to the IMF through South Africa’s ABSA bank and the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.
Mr. Gono charged that “some quarters felt offended and angered” when Zimbabwe was able to reduce its arrears – an apparent reference to Western nations including the United States and Great Britain which have criticized Mr. Mugabe’s policies
Reporter Blessing Zulu of VOA’s Studio 7 for Zimbabwe asked independent economist John Robertson about some of the technical aspects of the transaction in question.
27 Sep 2005 23:28:20 GMT
By Evelyn Leopold
UNITED NATIONS, Sept 27 (Reuters) - The United Nations appealed for nearly $30 million in humanitarian supplies for the most vulnerable people evicted from urban slums in Zimbabwe, according to a letter circulated on Tuesday.
The appeal was to have been launched in August but President Robert Mugabe initially rejected the funds, smarting from a critical U.N. report on July 2 that called his government's bulldozing of urban slums a disastrous and unjustified venture that affected 700,000 people.
The new appeal, called "Common Response Plan" was sent to U.N. ambassadors by Jan Egeland, the U.N. emergency relief coordinator, and is to provide some assistance to 300,000 people.
It asks for funds for shelter, food, health supplies, water, sanitation and medicines to combat AIDS, which affects about a quarter of the adult population and kills some 3,000 Zimbabweans each week.
Mugabe has asked Secretary-General Kofi Annan to visit and the U.N. chief is considering it, diplomats said, adding that there was still division among U.N. officials about whether he should make the trip. Egeland intends to visit Zimbabwe first, late this month or in October.
In his letter, Egeland said that while the government plans to provide 5,000 houses in the short term, tens of thousands of people still lack adequate shelter.
"Some evicted people continue to move around, searching for housing as well as work," Egeland wrote. "Others, such as families in Hatcliffe Extension near Harare, live on or near the ruins of their former homes."
He said U.N. officials in Zimbabwe were consulting with the government on how they could help provide temporary shelter.
While donors contribute relief aid to Zimbabwe, Mugabe's feud with Britain, a leading critic of his human rights record, has prevented development assistance on a larger scale from the European Union, the United States and elsewhere.
Egeland said the government's figures showed 92,460 dwellings had been demolished, directly affecting more than 133,000 households. The July 2 report from Anna Tibaijuka, the executive director of U.N.-Habitat, estimates 570,000 people had lost their homes and 98,000 their source of income.
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The Zimbabwean government is poised to set up a Biotechnology Authority to monitor activities in the sector, the Deputy Minister of Science and Technology Development, Patrick Zhuwawo said on Tuesday.
Zhuwawo said that a National Biotechnology Bill to form the body was already under scrutiny in Parliament and the biotechnology authority was expected to be operational before year-end.
"All the necessary groundwork is already in place and we wait for the bill to sail through in Parliament that will make provisions for setting up the biotechnology control authority," he said.
He said the bill would provide for the management of potentially harmful biotechnologies and undertakings.
It would be a mechanism for managing the import, export, research, development and use of biotech techniques and products, according to Zhuwawo.
Zhuwawo said the Biotechnology Authority would act as an advisory board to the Ministry of Science and Technology Development as well as ensuring that activities regarding biotechnology research, development and application are performed in accordance with the law.
He said biotechnologies were very important in national development especially in agriculture.
"Biotechnology has made profound impact in agriculture, food processing, health and environmental protection," he said.
Biotechnology has enabled a rapid response in diagnosing diseases as well as disease monitoring.
Apart from providing new sources of renewable energy, it has also improved crop and animal production and health.
Mail & Guardian
28 September 2005 10:26
Public hospitals in Zimbabwe are finding it difficult to conduct HIV/Aids tests because of a lack of essential laboratory chemicals, the state-run Herald newspaper reported on Wednesday.
Zimbabwe has one of the highest HIV infection rates in the world. An estimated one in four Zimbabweans is HIV-positive.
Tendai Nyakuedzwa, a laboratory scientist at Chitungwiza General Hospital, a large public hospital about 20km from the capital Harare, was cited as saying there was a "critical shortage" of reagents used in HIV-testing.
Nyakuedzwa said machines used for accurate HIV-testing had not been operating at the hospital for four months because of the lack of the reagents.
The hospital's HIV viral load machine has also been lying unused for the past year because of the lack of reagents, he said. The chemicals have to be imported from neighbouring South Africa, but Zimbabwe is facing critical shortages of foreign currency needed to pay for such imports.
"We have to make-do with only two rapid on-spot HIV tests. But in the case of determinant results, we need the machines that, as it is, we cannot use now due to their state of disrepair," Nyakuedzwa said.
Patients have the option of paying for tests in private medical institutions, but their prices are steep and may be beyond the reach of many.
Viral load tests are also not being conducted at Harare Central Hospital, the Herald said. Specimens have to be sent to private laboratories for testing.
"The bulk of our laboratory equipment has been lying idle for many years and there is nothing new in us taking specimens to private laboratories," one laboratory scientist was quoted as saying.
The Herald said several patients with HIV/Aids "had to be turned away" in the last year from both Harare Central Hospital and Chitungwiza General Hospital.
Health Minister David Parirenyatwa blamed the problems on Zimbabwe's foreign currency shortages.
"The prevailing foreign currency shortages are hampering efforts to import reagents and spares for equipment, he said. - Sapa
AFX News Limited
09.28.2005, 07:04 AM
HARARE (AFX) - Zimbabwe has ordered the eviction of some 70 families given farms under the controversial land reform programme, to make way for an agricultural research station, Zimbabwe's Daily Mirror newspaper said Wednesday.
Seventy small-scale farmers in Mashonaland West and their families have been ordered off the farms they were allocated in 2001, the privately-owned paper said, quoting farmers.
'The ministry of agriculture officials told us to vacate, failure of which we would be forcibly removed,' an unnamed farmer told the paper.
About 4,000 white commercial farmers have lost their land under the reform programme that began in 2000 to redress imbalances from the colonial era when most arable land was in the hand of whites.
The southern African country last month approved a bill that prevents white farmers from resorting to the courts to challenge the land seizures.
Mashonaland West governor Nelson Samkange confirmed plans were afoot to build a research station and said moving the farmers 'was still being looked into.'
'There is a proposal to have a research station,' Samkange told the paper.
'It will be a centre where people can be trained in agriculture.'
Zimbabwean Vice President Joyce Mujuru earlier this month warned that black farmers who acquired land under the reform plan and who were under-utilizing resources, were guilty of 'sabotage.'
'If you are not farming properly, this is sabotage at the highest level,' she was quoted as saying.
enforced patch-up between captain Sourav Ganguly and coach Greg Chappell has
again brought to the fore the machinations and manipulations for which the
cricket board has been well known for years, leaving in its wake loads of
Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) president Ranbir Singh Mahendra announced on Tuesday that "miscommunication" was the root cause of the ill will between Ganguly and Chappell and not the disagreement over team composition on the recent tour of Zimbabwe, as the former Australia captain had made everyone believe in his much publicised e-mail to the board.
Mahendra cannot be far from the truth, say experts, but it was the easiest way to deflect public and media attention from the real issue - the absence of harmony in the national team. (V.V.S. Laxman has spoken of "negative vibes" in the dressing room and Zaheer Khan has disclosed that the "dressing room atmosphere has not been all that great" lately.)
Although it was a six-member panel that looked into the Ganguly-Chappell controversy, by all accounts Mahendra, who was elected to the post by Jagmohan Dalmiya's casting vote last year, was clearly influenced by the former president.
One wonders how much Mahendra spoke during the four-and-a-half deliberations in Mumbai Tuesday, especially in the presence of personalities like Dalmiya and former captains Sunil Gavaskar and Ravi Shastri.
Ganguly and Dalmiya belong to the same city, Kolkata, and the captain enjoys full backing of de facto the most powerful man in Indian cricket.
There were several stark contradictions and conflicts of interest in the whole episode, right from the constitution of the review panel, also comprising S.K. Nair, secretary of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) and former captain S. Venkataraghavan.
Gavaskar and Shastri are television commentators and write newspaper columns. They were also in the panel that picked Chappell as coach in May and both were present in the BCCI review panel that also reviewed the recent Sri Lankan and Zimbabwean tours besides the Ganguly-Chappell controversy.
Mahendra ordered the players "not to write newspapers columns" - affecting Ganguly, Rahul Dravid, Virender Sehwag, Harbhajan Singh, Anil Kumble - and "interact with the media" after the meeting in Mumbai.
It might sound all right for some people in the BCCI to gag the players, captain and the coach as a policy decision, but is it practical, especially in the absence of a media manager? Highly unlikely, as there are some inherent conflict of interests that would prevent this policy from being implemented effectively, if at all.
While asking the team not to "interact" with the media, Mahendra did not spell out any restrictions on Gavaskar and Shastri. It is odd but not unexpected, going by the way BCCI functions. Even if the board wants, can it gag a Gavaskar or a Shastri?
As commentators Gavaskar and Shastri, widely considered close to Dalmiya, roundly criticised Indian players when the team lost the Videocon Triangular Series final to New Zealand in Zimbabwe this month. Shastri, the more vocal of the two, even hinted that a "certain senior player in the top order" could be thrown out, leaving little to interpretation.
That the same people sat in judgement on Tuesday amply showed the conflict of interests. How much and how long can a person remain natural when his interests clash is anyone's guess.
BCCI officials say that the board simply could not have taken action against Ganguly or Chappell as the annual general meeting (AGM) - and possibly elections - is yet to be held.
Any action could have impacted on the votes and the Dalmiya-Mahendra group could not have afforded that, particularly when it was believed to be on the back foot in the last week's adjourned AGM in Kolkata. (There is no member in the review panel from the rival group led by Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar).
"If they had sacked Ganguly there would have been a national furore, and if Chappell would have been shown the door there would have been an international uproar. So compromise was always on the cards - and it happened," summed up a BCCI official.
And, more importantly, will the forced kiss-and-make-up between Ganguly and Chappell last? If yes, how long? That remains the moot point that millions of cricket fans in India are already asking.
(The author is the sports editor of IANS. He can be reached at email@example.com)
September 28 2005 at 01:06AM
By Joe Lauria
United Nations (UN) officials have denied a report that secretary-general Kofi Annan's planned journey to Zimbabwe has been cancelled, saying discussions on a date and an agenda were still under way.
Jan Egeland, the UN's humanitarian affairs co-ordinator, said he would also visit Zimbabwe in mid-November.
The state-run Herald newspaper in Harare reported this week that Annan had been forced to cancel his visit because the United States and Britain had politicised it. The newspaper suggested Annan agreed with this assessment.
'A lot of reporting from media in Zimbabwe, which hasn't always been on target'
“I think there's been a lot of reporting from media in Zimbabwe, which hasn't always been on target,” said Stephane Dujarric, Annan's chief spokesperson
“As we've said before, the secretary-general may go to Zimbabwe, but obviously any such visit would have to be carefully planned in terms of its agenda and its aims,” he said.
“The planning for such a visit is being done in conjunction with our department of political affairs and Zimbabwean officials.
“We don't want to set any conditions or time frames, but the point is that the visit be properly planned.”
UN officials refused to comment on whether Annan had agreed with Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe that Washington and London had overly influenced the perception of the visit.
An official said that no date had been set for the Annan visit.
Egeland said he hoped his visit to Zimbabwe would allow him to break an impasse between the UN and Mugabe's government about distributing food to victims of Mugabe's controversial slum clearance programme as well as for other Zimbabweans facing food shortages.
Egeland said he had received positive feedback so far from donors whom he had contacted.
The UN is seeking to raise $30-million (about R193-million) to help those displaced by the urban clearance campaign.
In August, Egeland said the appeal had been blocked because the UN and the government could not agree to terms on how the aid would be distributed.
“We are trying to help 300 000 of the evictees for the rest of this year and into next year,” said Egeland. “In Zimbabwe, our big aim is to work with the government to have a food-security programme to help several million people who are at risk.”
Egeland said that the “crisis” of those evicted from their homes “was now a smaller part of a bigger one.”
The World Food Programme estimates that 4-million Zimbabweans out of a population of 13-million need food aid while the government claims the figure is 2,4-million.
UN officials would not comment on the thorny question of whether the UN would allow the Zimbabwean government to control the programme.
Opposition groups fear that the government would withhold food from strongholds of the political opposition.
The government, by contrast, says it does not trust some non-governmental organisations to distribute the food, claiming they have their own political agendas.
In the Herald report Mugabe is quoted as saying that he saw the proposed Annan visit as an opportunity for him to lecture the secretary- general on the wrongs of a UN report in July that was highly critical of the slum clearance programme.
The report by UN envoy Anna Tibaijuka said that 700 000 people had been made homeless, a number Mugabe claims was exaggerated.
Dujarric hinted in his comments that Annan would not go unless the visit was “carefully planned in terms of its agenda and its aims”.
Annan accepted an invitation from Mugabe in late July to make a first-hand inspection of the slum clearance programme.
At that time, Dujarric said before Annan could travel to Zimbabwe Mugabe would have to halt the evictions, ensure aid was getting through and start a process of political reconciliation.
The UN has given no indication that it has dropped these conditions and is apparently still waiting for assurances that they are taking place.
This article was originally published on page 10 of Pretoria News on September 28, 2005
Mail & Guardian
Jan Hennop | Harare, Zimbabwe
28 September 2005 09:20
It's impossible to miss Oliver Mtukudzi.
Dressed in an all-black outfit that makes him look like a Vietcong guerrilla, Zimbabwe's super-bard stands head and shoulders above anyone else.
The lanky and tall "Tuku", as he is known by his fans around Africa, is in a buoyant mood at a press conference with a group of fellow musicians ahead of a weekend concert to celebrate his 53rd birthday.
On a background screen at an upmarket Harare hotel, images flash of the arts centre he's building in a small town just west of the capital and to which the proceeds of the bash will be donated.
"This centre had to be finished yesterday," Mtukudzi tells journalists.
With a community hall and recording studio, the Pakare Paye centre -- which means "that place" in Shona -- located in Norton, 40km outside Harare, is to become a breeding ground for future talent in the southern African country.
Tuku now hopes to have it finished by next year.
Despite his growing stature as one of Africa's superstars -- he's being mentioned in the same breath as Senegal's Salif Keita and Youssou N'Dour -- Oliver Mtukudzi remains a humble man.
"I'm just the same old Oliver that I have always been all these years. It's just the figure that's changed," he tells Agence France Presse with a faint trace of irony in his voice.
"It's not me, it's the song, it's the product that's important," he says while his face remains as still as a carving from Zimbabwean soapstone.
Two days later, on a balmy Saturday evening, Tuku's "product" sets on fire a home crowd of several thousand at a sports ground in Harare.
Dressed in a flamboyant cream suit and wearing his trademark crochet-skullcap, Mtukudzi is every inch the superstar that has gone from Harare to South Africa and on to Europe and the United States.
"Yayayayayaaaaaa!" Tuku draws the crowd which responds with the same greeting, before launching into a trio with guitar ace Louis Mhlanga and long-time friend and music producer Steve Dyer.
"Tuku music", as it has become known, is a mixture of ethnic styles including guitar rhythms of Zimbabwe's mbira, some South African traditional mbaqanga -- a distinctive guitar sound -- backed with a voice like sandpaper.
After 48 albums, Tuku still possesses the wired energy that makes him so electric on stage.
It was with fellow "collaborator" Dyer that Mtukudzi's star-status grew rapidly beyond the borders of Zimbabwe, where he has laboured as a songwriter, producer, writer and singer since first starting off in 1977.
After many years of slaving on the local market in which he wrote music and starred in two movies, Tuku and Dyer formed the "Mahube" group in 1997 and toured Europe.
The two men co-produced a second album to go gold in South Africa called Bvume (Tolerance) in 2000 followed by Vhunze Moto (Burning Embers) in 2002 in which Mtukudzi plays with Dyer as well as his long-time band The Black Spirits.
In March last year, Mahube released an album entitled Qhubeka (Moving forward) while Mtukudzi released his 48th album this year, a solo work called Nhava.
Singing in his native Shona and in English, Tuku's music often carries social messages about HIV/Aids and alcohol abuse, encourages self-respect or puts traditional Shona proverbs and wisdom into song.
These days Tuku's music also carries a message of hope in Zimbabwe, a country were people are facing food and fuel shortages.
"Things are not good at the moment," he says.
"How people really survive here is a miracle," he adds, but forgets to mention that his music inspires many, both inside and out of Zimbabwe. - Sapa-AFP
HARARE, Zimbabwe (AP)--Zimbabwe's state-run hospitals can't afford medicines and equipment because of foreign currency shortages and were turning away patients, a government newspaper reported Wednesday.
The Herald quoted Tendai Nyakuedzwa, a laboratory scientist at Chitungwiza General Hospital, as saying the foreign currency shortage had left the hospital unable to import materials to test for HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. He also said equipment to test patients' responses to medication had been out of order for over a year.
The Herald said Chitungwiza, on the southern outskirts of the capital, and Harare Central Hospital had been having problems for the past two years, turning away several HIV/AIDS patients or referring them to Harare's Parirenyatwa Group of Hospitals, a teaching facility that also is state-run but has international funding.
Health Minister David Parirenyatwa also blamed foreign currency shortages for the lack of testing material and spare parts, the Herald reported. The teaching hospitals were named for the minister's father, Samuel, Zimbabwe's first black doctor.
More than 23% of Zimbabweans are believed to carry HIV, with at least 3,000 AIDS-related deaths a week.
The Herald also reported that the Justice Ministry lacked money to feed witnesses brought from remote rural areas to testify, affecting court proceedings.
An 11-year-old murder trial witness complained of hunger while testifying Monday and Judge Paddington Garwe postponed proceedings, the newspaper said.
Justice Ministry officials last week told a parliamentary committee they needed $1.1 billion to improve conditions for 27,000 prisoners in jails built for 16,000, to run courts efficiently, and pay off $1.5 million in debts. " Deplorable" prisons lacked basic running water and washing facilities, leading to outbreaks of tuberculosis and measles, legislators heard.
A sometimes violent campaign begun in 2000 to seize farms from whites and hand them over to blacks has been blamed for accelerating economic collapse in Zimbabwe. Agriculture had been the country's major foreign currency earner.
Zimbabwea faces 80% unemployment, 265% inflation, and severe shortages of staples.
(END) Dow Jones Newswires
Sent: Thursday, September 29, 2005 2:26 AM
[This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations]
JOHANNESBURG, 28 September (IRIN) - Zimbabwean and South African officials
are to meet in the next two weeks for further talks on the possibility of
loan assistance, a government spokesman confirmed on Wednesday.
"Talks have been continuing, but the two sides have not met recently," South
African treasury spokesman Logan Wort told IRIN.
The countries have been negotiating an aid package worth almost US $500
million, including an outstanding payment of $175 million to the
International Monetary Fund (IMF) to prevent Zimbabwe's expulsion from the
international financial institution.
But talks had stalled over Zimbabwe's reluctance to enforce political and
economic recovery plans - conditions set by the South Africans for providing
the financial assistance. "The conditions still stand, whenever talks
resume," said South African government sources.
In late August the IMF began procedures to strip Zimbabwe of its membership
over arrears to the tune of $295 million and failure to rein in public
spending. However, earlier this month Zimbabwe managed to make a payment of
$131 million to the IMF, which granted the troubled southern African country
a six-month reprieve.
Zimbabwe has promised to settle its arrears, currently totalling $175
million, by November 2006. It has also submitted an economic recovery plan
to the IMF.
South African government sources described Zimbabwe's recovery programme as
"unrealistic" and said the IMF was "unlikely" to accept it.
The IMF has already commented on some of the economic reform measures taken
by the Zimbabwean government in recent months, such as liberalisation of the
fuel and maize markets, saying they "fell well short of what is needed to
address Zimbabwe's economic difficulties."
The Fund warned that "unless strong macroeconomic policies are undertaken
without delay, economic and social conditions could deteriorate further".
Unemployment is currently over 70 percent and inflation is more than 265
Meanwhile, controversy has erupted over the source of Zimbabwe's initial
$131 million payment to the IMF. At a press conference on the regional
outlook for sub-Saharan Africa last week in Washington, an IMF official said
they had queried the source of the funding.
Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe Governor Gideon Gono revealed that the money paid
to the IMF came from banks in New York and London, among others, and the
funds had been sourced from export proceeds, free funds and foreign currency
liquidations, according to the official newspaper, The Herald, on Tuesday.
Zimbabwe is going through a severe economic crisis, with serious food
shortages due to recurring droughts and the government's fast-track land
redistribution programme, which disrupted agricultural production and
slashed export earnings.
The crisis has also seen a flood of Zimbabweans illegally crossing the
border into South Africa. According to the Geneva-based International
Organisation for Migration, at least 2,000 Zimbabweans are deported from
South Africa via the border town of Beitbridge every week.
South African government sources confirmed that Zimbabwe was in urgent need
of assistance, such as food and agricultural inputs. "We are extremely
concerned about the food situation," said a government official.
A vulnerability assessment conducted by the Zimbabwean government and some
NGOs earlier this year indicated that 2.9 million people - an estimated 36
percent of the rural population - would require food aid until the next
harvest in April 2006. Aid agencies have planned for over four million in
Sources in South Africa's ruling African National Congress (ANC) party said
talks with the neighbouring country had been disrupted by "political
"While the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe and other technocrats realise that our
assistance is critical, the political leadership in Zimbabwe is suspicious
of South Africa's intentions," commented a senior ANC official.
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U N I T E D N A T I O N S
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the humanitarian community
Wed Sep 28, 2005 11:59 AM GMT
HARARE (Reuters) - Two Zimbabwean court sessions were forced to adjourn after hungry villagers serving as state witnesses demanded food, complaining police had neither fed them nor given them shower facilities.
The state-run Herald newspaper said on Wednesday the villagers had not eaten for three days and were being housed in "squalid and inhuman conditions" at a police training camp. It said some remand prisoners in a jail near Harare had also gone without food after officers said they had no money to feed them.
"It is not government policy to starve anyone, whether they are prisoners. Everyone is entitled to food," said deputy information minister Bright Matonga, ordering an investigation. Prison and justice ministry officials were not immediately available for comment.
Analysts said it did not appear the villagers were singled out for maltreatment. Their plight reflected the degree of hardships in Zimbabwe, which is struggling with food shortages amid a worsening economic crisis, they said.
Comment from Business Day (SA), 28 September
Zimbabwe’s ruling Zanu PF has announced it will soon amend the constitution - for the 18th time in 25 years - purportedly to synchronise parliamentary and presidential elections. Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa proffered four scenarios of how the elections could be synchronised. He said both could be held in 2008, when President Robert Mugabe’s term expires, or both could be pushed back to 2010, when the general election is due. But that would mean an interim president between 2008 and 2010, or a president elected for only two years. The last option was to hold both elections in 2015. Whatever the shenanigans at Zanu PF, Mugabe is stewing in his own juices as he struggles to disentangle himself from his convoluted succession crisis. Although all the scenarios Chinamasa put forward seem plausible, Zanu PF insiders say the real plan is to delay the presidential poll until 2010 to give Mugabe’s anointed successor, Joyce Mujuru, enough time to consolidate her grip in the ruling party and prepare to mount a serious challenge for the presidency after Mugabe.
While Mujuru is still seen as Mugabe’s preferred successor after many other pretenders stumbled in the race to State House, questions are being raised about her political and intellectual clout. Her critics think she is not up to scratch, while her supporters think she could manage if given enough help. But she is battling to cut a credible image of a leader-in-waiting. As result of Mujuru’s mediocre profile, a Zanu PF coterie has hatched an ethnic balancing plan in which former finance minister Simba Makoni would be Mugabe’s successor. Zanu PF chairman and parliamentary speaker John Nkomo would be a co-vice-president with Mujuru, while Zanu PF luminary Emmerson Mnangagwa, at one time Mugabe’s heir apparent, would be prime minister. In terms of the plan, Makoni would represent the interests of the Manyika (a Shona subgroup), Nkomo the Ndebeles (an Nguni group of Zulu descent), Mujuru the ruling Zezurus (although she is by origin said to be a Korekore, a Shona subgroup), and Mnangagwa the Karangas (the largest Shona subgroup).
This arrangement in the Zimbabwean mind-set of ethnic politics appears a fair-minded approach to balancing competing tribal interests. This is not surprising because Zanu PF politics are largely seen through the prism of simplistic historical and ethnic dichotomies devoid of sound philosophy. This sort of hidebound planning confirms the notion that Mugabe is concerned about himself and his family, his Zezuru clique and his party, before thinking about national interest. Though this may not be a true reflection of Mugabe’s philosophy, his actions always confirm what might well be a conspiracy theory. As a result, this has largely filtered through the body politic and Zimbabwe’s tribal politics. Chinua Achebe deals with the dangers of such social and political organisation in his book, The Trouble with Nigeria. It reveals leadership, institutional and policy failures that give way to tribalism, usually under corrupt and incompetent political regimes.
Mugabe’s retirement and succession plan at the moment involves the use of constitutional amendments and an expanded legislature to support the scheme. After the recent constitutional amendments, which reintroduced the senate that was abolished in 1990, there will be elections in December for the upper house to form a bicameral legislature dominated by Zanu PF. The senate elections will be followed by another constitutional amendment to postpone the 2008 presidential poll to 2010. A provision could be inserted to ensure Mujuru takes over if Mugabe cannot continue - for whatever reason. There could also be a clause that there will be an interim president between 2008 and 2010. Mujuru would be the interim president to prepare for a head start in the presidential race. But this does not guarantee Mugabe’s smooth exit. He has left it too late.
Zimbabwe's biggest musical sensation turned 53 recently
Oliver Mtukudzi, Zimbabwe's musical icon, turned 53 last week. The
award-winning musician is a source of inspiration to millions of people. Over 20
000 fans, including six international artists, were in Harare to celebrate his
birthday and catch a glimpse of his life, looking back on many years of
From the dusty streets of Highfields in Harare, Mtukudzi set himself up as one of the few influential and respected musicians. Growing up playing guitars in the township wasn't fashionable in the swinging sixties - then it was associated with insolence that would amount to nothing.
But today the father of four is still having the time of his life, a pied piper of music pulling in crowds with his unique concoction of African music. His birthday marked one of the few rare occasions in Zimbabwe when international artists descended on the capital, this time to celebrate the rich musical life of an icon.
Even President Thabo Mbeki has confessed to liking Tuku's music.