The ZIMBABWE Situation
An extensive and up-to-date website containing news, views and links related to ZIMBABWE - a country in crisis
Return to INDEX page
Please note: You need to have 'Active content' enabled in your IE browser in order to see the index of articles on this webpage

Terror charges dropped against Mukoko and 8 others

By Lance Guma
28 September 2009

The Supreme Court on Monday quashed terror charges against prominent human
rights activist Jestina Mukoko and 8 others, illegally abducted and tortured
by the country's security forces last year. Chief Justice Godfrey
Chidyausiku, flanked by Justice Luke Malaba and Justice Paddington Garwe,
ruled that Mukoko and her co-accused could not be tried now, or in the
future, because their constitutional rights had been violated.

Last year in December Mukoko was abducted from her Norton home in the early
hours of the morning, wearing nothing but her night clothes. For weeks
police claimed they did not have her in custody, only for the then State
Security Minister, Didymus Mutasa, to admit in court papers that he had
sanctioned the abductions as a matter of state security. When she finally
appeared in court she was charged with helping to recruit people for
purposes of military training in Botswana.

Our Harare correspondent Simon Muchemwa was at the court house and reports
that Mukoko was in tears after the ruling was passed. She told journalists
it was a 'happy day for me and my family.' The Zimbabwe Peace Project
director said she would be going home to rest and thanked everyone who had
supported her during her ordeal. Mukoko also vowed to continue her activism

Mukoko was freed on bail in May after almost 6 months in custody. Being a
former ZBC TV presenter she became the most high profile abductee from the
group. Other activists abducted during last year's raids included Tsvangirai's
former aide Gandhi Mudzingwa, MDC director of security Chris Dhlamini,
Broderick Takawira, Mapfumo Garutsa, Regis Mujeyi, Zacharia Nkomo, Chinoto
Zulu and freelance journalist Andrew Manyere.

Charges against the group were dubious from the word go and even governments
in the SADC region admitted there was no evidence to confirm the alleged
banditry training in Botswana. Over 30 opposition and civil society
activists were abducted from their homes or work places last year, before
being held in secret locations for several weeks. The regime only produced
the activists near Christmas time when the MDC-T put a deadline of 1 January
2009 for them to be freed or brought to court.

Comment from Hope at

It's incredibly good news for Jestina and also for the other abductees
facing the same charges.

I am left with a question: if the Supreme Court have acknowledged that
Jestina Mukoko was abducted, tortured and had her constitutional rights
violated by state agents, will the state agents who carried out these
atrocities be publically named and held accountable?

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Fiery talk, lofty ideas at Africa-South America summit

Sun Sep 27, 2009 4:14pm EDT

* Chavez in his element hosting summit

* Proposals range from soccer to mining

By Frank Jack Daniel and Fabian Cambero

PORLAMAR, Venezuela, Sept 27 (Reuters) - Anti-imperialist rhetoric and
ambitious ideas flowed on Sunday at a summit dominated by South America's
leftist leaders and some of Africa's best-known former anti-colonial

Flanked by the likes of Robert Mugabe from Zimbabwe and Luiz Inacio Lula
Silva of Brazil, summit host and Venezuela's socialist leader Hugo Chavez
looked in his element as he heard a plethora of proposals to promote poor
nations' global clout.

The two-day summit on Venezuela's sweltering Margarita island, in the
Caribbean, came right after the U.N. General Assembly and the G-20 summit
and was intended as a counterpoint to Western dominance of global

"We have to construct a new alliance, discover opportunities and help
ourselves mutually," Lula said, summing up the central theme of speeches by
the 28 leaders present.

On specifics, Mugabe and Chavez proposed greater cooperation on exploitation
of resources like mineral and oil.

The Venezuelan, who sees himself at the forefront of a global
"anti-imperialist" movement, urged his fellow leaders to form a
"multi-state" corporation for mining.

"Africa and South America are rich lands, yet their peoples are poor,
because they have been exploited. Let's not allow them to keep exploiting
and ransacking our lands. Those riches belong to our people," the garrulous
Chavez said, giving a mini-speech himself between every speech by another

"Let's not waste a day. If we start with just two or three countries, well
we'll start with those that can."


Mugabe, a former guerrilla commander in power since independence from
Britain in 1980, echoed the sentiment, saying Zimbabwe could offer minerals
and agricultural products for oil and technology.

"In Africa, greater industrial development has been difficult because of a
reliance on the very powers that colonized us," he said. "They do not want
really to see us industrialized."

Some of the summit participants -- including Mugabe and Chavez -- are
severely criticized by opponents for abusing rights and democracy at home.

On the sports front, Mugabe suggested the ASA (South America-Africa) nations
meeting should hold their own World Cup-style soccer tournament, while Lula
urged support for Brazil's bid to host the 2016 Olympics.

"The biggest sporting event after the World Cup cannot be a privilege of
rich nations," said Lula.

The United States is also bidding for the 2016 Games.

"The International Olympic Committe's leadership is like the world's
riches -- all concentrated in Europe which has more delegates than all of
Africa and Latin America," Lula said.

While the summit has included plenty of harsh words in general for the
West's past sins and present indifference to global poverty, Venezuela
sought to defuse perhaps the most provocative theme to emerge at Margarita.

On the eve of the summit, its Mining Minister Rodolfo Sanz said Iran, an
ally of Chavez and in the West's bad books over its nuclear policy, was
helping Venezuela find uranium in the South American nation.

But Energy Minister Rafael Ramirez sought to calm the controversy caused by
that, telling Reuters that Caracas was yet to develop a plan to exploit its
uranium, and was only working with Russia to develop nuclear energy for
peaceful uses. "No plan has been determined," he said. [ID:nN26544037]

Analysts say Venezuela is more than a decade away from developing nuclear

The leaders were due to sign a final document later on Sunday covering
cooperation between the two continents, and urging reform of global bodies
like the United Nations and World Bank to give poor countries more

Paying his first visit to the Americas, Libya's Muammar Gaddafi -- in power
for four decades -- has been holding court in a tent at the summit hotel and
gave a fiery speech on Saturday saying a small club of major powers were
still trying to run the world on their terms. (Additional reporting by Luis
Jaime Acosta in Porlamar, Enrique Andres Pretel and Kevin Gray in Caracas;
Writing by Andrew Cawthorne and editing by Anthony Boadle)

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Gaddafi proposes 'Nato of the South' at South America-Africa summit

September 28, 2009

Hannah Strange in Caracas
  a.. Colonel Gaddafi proposed an African-Latin American defence alliance
yesterday at an intercontinental summit hosted by Venezuela.

At the South America-Africa summit on Isla Margarita in Venezuela, the
Libyan leader joined the host, President Chávez, in calling for an
"anti-imperialist" front across Africa and Latin America.

President Mugabe of Zimbabwe and President Zuma of South Africa were among
almost 30 leaders from across the two continents present as Mr Chávez sought
to promote his socialist policies abroad, urging a new world order that
would confront Western dominance.

"The world's powers want to continue to hold on to their power," said Mr
Gaddafi, who had a white limousine flown to Venezuela to meet him at the
airport. He then met Mr Chávez in his trademark Beduin tent by a hotel pool.
"Now we have to fight to build our own power," he said.

The leaders were to agree a range of joint projects in areas including
energy, mining and agriculture, with Mr Gaddafi, in particular, expected to
sign several accords with Mr Chávez.

Venezuela also stoked the controversy over the Iranian nuclear programme
with the revelation that it was working with Tehran to exploit its uranium

Rodolfo Sanz, the Mining Minister, said that Iran was helping Venezuela to
detect resources, raising international suspicions at a time when voices in
Israel and the United States are accusing Caracas of helping its ally to
evade sanctions on its nuclear programme.

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Zimbabwe schools begin fightback

By Nkepile Mabuse

HARARE, Zimbabwe (CNN) -- Zimbabwe's education system is beginning to battle
back from years of neglect and an exodus of teachers.

But many parents still find it impossible to pay the U.S. $24 a year fees
and some resort to using chickens as payment.

The country's education minister in the year-old power-sharing
administration believes it could be decade before standards are back up to
Zimbabwe's good past record.

When President Robert Mugabe took office in 1980, he prioritized education.
His government managed to lift Zimbabwe's adult literacy rate to one of the
highest on the continent.

But like everything else Mugabe achieved during his first decade in power,
he has in the past few years managed to undo.

The government stopped funding some schools as far back as 1999, and as the
economy crumbled so too did the quality of learning.

According to the education department, 20,000 teachers have left the country
in the past two years and half of Zimbabwe's children have not progressed
beyond primary school.

Many parents today are too poor to send their children to school. Rural
schools -- where pencils, desks and books are luxuries -- are hardest hit.

When CNN visited a Mathabisana primary school in Umguza, in the southwest of
Zimbabwe, headmaster Nonkululeko Ndlovu said that at one point teachers used
charcoal as a substitute for chalk.

"There are no textbooks to talk about at the moment because I remember the
last text books were bought sometime in 2000 or so, when we were still
getting government grants but now we don't have anything.

"Those text books have reached their shelf life. An aid organization donated
32 text books which we really appreciated and we are using those text books
right across the grades, trying to impart knowledge to the kids."

In a school with 406 children, that means that almost 13 children have to
share one text book.

"So what we normally do is write problems on the board and the children
read, this is what we are doing in a bid to ensure that children learn,"
Ndlovu adds.

The families of some children are so poor they cannot afford the reduced
fees of U.S. $2 a year -- only a quarter of the children have the funds.

Some parents have even resorted to paying fees in chickens and other life

Ndlovu said: "When the parents bring a chicken to sell or to offer as school
levy, teachers sometimes buy it, so if they agree on the price, the teacher
would get the item, pay the fees, and then if there is any change, he would
give the parent the change."

Education Minister David Coltart says he inherited a catastrophic system
when he took over in February.

"Seven thousand government schools were closed and most of the 80,000
teachers were on strike. At the head office building there was no water in
our 18-storey building and the toilets were in a mess. That was emblematic
of the state of schools," he told CNN.

CNN asked the headmaster at Mathabisana about the children's concentration
level and trying to learn under such difficult circumstances. "We have
children who are excelling even though they are sitting on the floor, so
that is why we are hoping if things normalize these children may be the best
in the world," he said proudly.

Ndlovu is one of the teachers who did not join the exodus. "In any normal
situation when others go out, definitely others have to remain. There is no
way we can all of us just go out.

"Those who are remaining, we are just hoping that things will be better. It
is not because things are better for us but we just feel we need to teach
these kids ... to become something in the world."

Zimbabwe's unity government has managed to get some striking teachers back
into classrooms by offering them an improved wage of $150 a month, but that
is hardly a living wage.

"If you can pay your rent, pay your bills here and there and then you are
able to come back to school. We just do that," Ndlovu says.

"We cannot all go out and leave Zimbabwe empty without teachers. Those who
are outside understand that we are playing a significant role because some
of them left their kids behind. They definitely know they are being taken
care of, we are teaching them."

The education minister said he was allocated one-tenth of the budget he
needs to rebuild Zimbabwe's education system.

He is hoping donors will come to his country's aid. According to his
estimates, it could take up to 10 years to get Zimbabwe's education system
to where it was in the early 90's.

And he understands that he will only be able to achieve this if he can
retain committed civil servants like Ndlovu.

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

State of Affairs at Zimbabwean Rural Schools Revealed in Report

Published: September 28, 2009
HARARE - Urgent investment is needed to improve the awful infrastructure of
remote rural schools around the country, a report on education in the
country has said. The Zimbabwe Telegraph reports.

The report was complied by the first post independence minister of education
Fay Chung, former legislator Trudy Stevensons and Sharai Chakanyuka.

It is The Rapid Assessment of Primary and Secondary Schools and attributes
the infrastructure situation to poverty in rural areas.

The report said these remote areas are very poor and the majority cannot
afford to pay levies, which will revive the infrastructure.

"US$4 levy a term was unaffordable to the majority. Hence there was no money
whatsoever for repairs," said the report.

This comes after a national assessment on education was compiled on four
provinces, which had a number of remote schools.

These provinces were Mashonaland East, Manicaland, Masvingo and Matabeleland

Data from the four reports obtained through focus group discussions and site
visits indicate the dilapidating condition of the schools especially in
primary schools.
The report said the Rural District Councils, which were the official
Responsible Authorities, appeared to have lost interest in these schools and
were not providing any support whatsoever to the schools.

"Chitsungo Primary School in Mashonaland East had classrooms without doors
and one without a roof. At Bubi Primary School in Masvingo classrooms
comprised dilapidated pole and dagga blocks. Ndimimbili Primary School in
Matabeleland North had had support from UNICEF in 2003 for two new
classrooms, and these were the only ones with furniture and in good
condition. Somakonyane Secondary School in Matabeleland North had six
classrooms, but was only using three. It was surprising to note that a fully
functional primary school, Ndimimbili, with grossly inadequate
infrastructure was a few hundred metres away from a half empty secondary
school with unused classrooms," said the former minister.

The primary schools visited had very poor teachers' houses.

The teachers said they did not feel safe as doors could not be locked and
the windows were broken.

"One teacher at Bubi Primary School was living in a roofless and doorless
hut. There were no toilets for teachers and pupils in some of the schools
visited, so they used the bush, creating a health hazard. The two houses
that were available at Ndimimbili Primary School in Matabeleland North had
to be shared by several teachers," said the report.

Teachers at Bubi Secondary School in Masvingo were living in mud huts and
six male teachers were sharing a single office room.

The supply of textbooks in both primary and secondary schools is
Books had not been purchased since 1999.

In terms of furniture there was a general lack of equipment such as
blackboards and chalk.

"In Mashonaland East, teachers had to take their children outside so that
they could write on the ground. In Matabeleland North, except for the
furniture provided by UNICEF, classrooms had little or no furniture, with
pupils sitting on planks set on stones or on the floor. They had no writing
places," said the minister.

Despite all this parents have remained interested in the education of their
children, as they have formed School Development Committees (SDCs).

"In Matabeleland North parents had eagerly gathered to meet the visiting
team, as they valued the opportunity to speak to an authority on the
situation of their schools.

However the parents did not understand what makes a good school as they were
in constant battle with the teachers.

"In general parents did not understand the functions of their committee. Nor
did they understand what constituted a "good" school: they judged a school
to be good if teachers were present, as apparently there was a high degree
of absenteeism from teachers. Parents wanted teachers who were frequently
absent to be removed, but they had no power to do anything about it. There
was apparent antipathy and even open antagonism between parents and
teachers," said the report.

A contributing factor to the bad conditions was lack of supervision.

The ministry said that all the remote schools reported lack of supervision
that led to the high number of absenteeism and no disciplinary action was
taken against the absentee staff.

This highlights the neglect of the remote rural schools and supervision at
the highest level is required.

The ministry has recommended that more varied forms of supervision must be
" For example SDCs can be given the responsibility of checking on teacher
and pupil presence and absenteeism, as this appears to be a very serious
problem in all these schools," said the report.

Therefore there is a great need to invest heavily in remote rural schools.
"Substantive promotions must be made expeditiously, with training programmes
being instituted for these incumbents. A situation where only 4 out of 70
headships were filled in one district spells neglect and disaster.

Supervision is essential, as it was apparent that these schools had been
totally neglected for some years. The traditional forms of supervision
requiring education officers traveling by car from the district office on
very difficult roads needs to be adjusted, more varied forms of supervision
devised," said the Minister.

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Shabanie mine shooting victims charged with public violence

By Tichaona Sibanda
28 September 2009

Three Shabanie mine workers who were shot and seriously injured by police in
Zvishavane on Friday, were dragged to court on Monday and charged with
public violence.

Taurai Zhou and Simbarashe Mashuku appeared in court in wheelchairs after
they sustained gunshot wounds to the legs. Alois Zhou, who was shot in the
hand, was able to walk, according to their lawyer Tichaona Chivasa.

The three appeared before a Zvishavane magistrate with 10 other workers who
were arrested during a peaceful demonstration at the mine complex.  They
were all charged with public violence and released on $10 bail each. They
will be back in court on 21st October.

Chivasa told SW Radio Africa the charges were laughable and that there was
no evidence to suggest his clients had committed any offence.

'These (charges) are baseless allegations. These people are innocent. They've
been arrested and charged with public violence for engaging in legal and
peaceful protests. We've seen the police engaging in illegal and violent
actions, such as shooting and assaulting miners, without anyone being
arrested,' Chivasa added.

The peaceful sit-in protest was violently broken up by the police last week
Friday when they fired teargas at the over 1000 mine workers who had
gathered with their families. The miners had been staging demonstrations for
the past month over salary and onwership disputes with management. The mine
workers have not been paid their salaries for the past nine months.

Mining operations are still grounded amid reports that the management were
moving door-to-door ordering workers to report for disciplinary hearings.

'There is a disturbing trend that began over the weekend, where workers are
being ordered to report to the mine offices to face disciplinary action.
They are being charged with absence without official leave. They're also
being dismissed after the hearings and this is unfair and immoral,' Chivasa

'How can you dismiss a worker who has not been paid for nine months. Common
sense will tell you these people have been loyal all along because no other
employee can survice nine months without pay,' Chivasa added.

Workers at the mine have for years been trying to find out the status of the
mine, since it was taken over by government from Mutumwa Mawere, who is now
in exile in South Africa.

In 2004 Mugabe's regime placed SMM Holdings (Private) limited under the
control of a state appointed administrator, Arafas Gwarazimba. Defence
Minister Emmerson Mnangagwa is reportedly involved with activities at the
mine as are other top government officials.

THE Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions, Wellington Chibebe has said they will
lobby for a commission of inquiry into the shootings. He also called on the
resignation of the two co-Home Affairs ministers, Kembo Mohadi (ZANU PF) and
Giles Mutsekwa (MDC-T) for not showing any remorse following the shootings.

Chibebe said on Saturday; 'We want them to resign because they are presiding
over anarchy. They should have issued a statement expressing remorse within
the ministry by now but they have not done so.'

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

New daily newspaper to start publishing in November

By Tichaona Sibanda
28 September 2009

Zimbabwe's newest independent daily newspaper, Newsday, will start
publishing on the 1st November, five years after the last daily folded.
Trevor Ncube, the publisher of the paper, said the NewsDay project, plus
related operations, are expected to create over 100 jobs with an investment
totaling US$4 million. Veteran journalist Barnabas Thondlana has been
appointed as the editor and the paper will be published every day, except
Ncube is the chairman of the Zimbabwe Independent and the Standard
newspapers and also the proprietor of M&G Media limited, which publishes the
Mail and Guardian newspaper in South Africa.

Speaking at the launch of the paper in Harare on Monday he said legally
there was no regulatory body that could stop them from publishing. 'There is
no body right now that can licence Newsday to operate as there is a vacuum
in this area, but there will be consequences if we start publishing without
permission from government,' Ncube said.

Our Harare correspondent Simon Muchemwa said Ncube was banking on Robert
Mugabe appointing the Zimbabwe Media Commissioners as soon as possible, to
enable them to register Newsday before the start of November.

Interviews for this commission were held by Parliament's Committee on
Standing Rules and Orders on the 3rd August and 12 candidates were selected.
In terms of the constitution Mugabe must now appoint the chairman and 8
eight other members of the Commission from that list. But Mugabe has been
sitting on the papers since last month.

Last week, Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai said he was waiting for Mugabe
to return from his New York trip to conclude the appointment of the new ZMC
board. As it stands, there can be no registration of new media outlets under
present legislation, until the commission is in place.
The last independent daily, the Daily News, closed in 2004 after falling
foul of the strict media legislation drafted by the ZANU PF led government.
In 2001 their printing press had been bombed and totally destroyed,
following a warning from the then information Minister, Jonathan Moyo. He
said it was only a matter of time before Zimbabweans put a stop to the
newspaper's 'madness.

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

NewsDay launch by Swedish Ambassador Harare

Address by H.E. Sten Rylander, Ambassador of Sweden to Zimbabwe Monday 28
September 2009

Distinguished Guests here present,
Colleagues and Friends,

It is an honour and a great pleasure for me to have been asked to speak at
this historic launch of your new product, which is soon to emerge on the
Zimbabwean market. Undoubtedly, licensing of NewsDay will mark the dawn of a
new era, a new Zimbabwe. The last independent daily we remember folded some
five years ago! So today is a day of joy and celebration, although you have
not yet reached the final finishing line. What we can celebrate is the fact
that we hold a first full dummy copy of NewsDay in our hands this morning.

Colleagues and Friends,
Sweden has an admired tradition of freedom of the press in the world today
dating back to the 1766 Freedom of the Press Act. Our current work with
media is ultimately founded on the rights of the individual: the right to
freedom of expression, the right to knowledge, the right to transform
knowledge into action and the right to freedom from poverty. This year our
government made an important decision to increase even further the focus on
and support to democracy and freedom of expression. We view today´s new
product launch as an important signal of information liberalization in
Zimbabwe, and as part of a strategy to help counter the current knowledge
deficit, which is an obstacle to poverty alleviation. Together with so many
others we are interested in how the inclusive government deals with the
media and how the media covers the progress of the inclusive government, as
this has an impact on the lives of ordinary people - in Zimbabwe as well as
in the region.

As I have often said in other fora, Press Freedom is not an alien concept;
and it is certainly not an imposition by the so-called West. It has strong
roots in Southern Africa - with one of the best media guidelines having been
produced in Namibia almost 20 years ago. At the time, I was Ambassador in
Namibia during the period of Media Institute of Southern Africa, MISA's
formation and I contributed very actively to its formative stages. Its birth
came after the UNESCO Windhoek Declaration on Promoting Independent and
Pluralistic Media in 1991. The African Commission on Human and People's
Rights has also wedged in with its own Declaration of Principles on Freedom
of Expression and Information. Despite the adoption of these commendable
declarations, monopolies continue to exist in some countries, not least in
Zimbabwe, which still has a single national broadcaster contrary to the
objectives espoused in its broadcasting laws. There have also been
documented cases of freedom of the press violations in most countries in the
region and unfortunately Zimbabwe has not been an exception.

My government strongly supports the freedom of expression and the media
worldwide. In Zimbabwe Sweden has provided generous support to MISA and to
the Voluntary Media Council of Zimbabwe (VMCZ). VMCZ has been inspired to a
large extent by the very successful experiences of the Media Council in
Tanzania, which I cooperated with closely during my previous posting in
Tanzania. The aim of the VMCZ is to establish an effective system for
professional self-regulation of the media under the strong belief that
self-regulation, rather than state regulation, is the best system for
promoting high standards of professionalism and ethical behavior in the
media. We believe that the VMCZ has the capacity to regulate the work of
journalists; deal with the enforcement of the code of conduct by handling
media complaints and also accreditation of journalists. We also support
various other media initiatives, as well as training of media practitioners.
We align ourselves with all on-going efforts by the international community
and local stakeholders to support the growth and development of a free and
professional media in Zimbabwe.

As the Swedish Embassy we were pleased to note that at this year's NJAMA
awards, there was a new breed of independent journalists in Zimbabwe who are
blazing the trail towards press freedom. NJAMA awards have become an
exciting part of the media calendar and are an effective way to support the
journalistic world and promote high standards of journalism in the country.

Dear Friends,
As you may now all be aware , Sweden currently holds the Presidency of the
European Union, to be handed over to Spain in January 2009. The Swedish EU
Presidency has an overall goal which is to lead the EU in a transparent and
efficient manner, in line with Swedish policy and values, and in the
interest of the EU as a whole. As part of the agenda during our Presidency
we aim to build democracy and to further coordinate and strengthen EU in its
external and developmental policy. As the Swedish Presidency in Zimbabwe we
presently seek to follow closely the implementation of the Global Political
Agreement (GPA). And the opening up of the media environment is one of the
key issues that we are observing in this context. This is also closely
linked to the resumed dialogue (under Article 8 of the EU-ACP Cotonou
Agreement) between the EU and the Zimbabwean government aimed at normalised
relations. Clearly, an open and vibrant media will be important in order to
highlight and communicate the progress of the inclusive government as the
country moves towards re-engagement with the international community.

Only two weeks ago a high-level EU Troika Delegation - lead by the Swedish
Minister for International Development Cooperation Gunilla Carlsson -
visited Zimbabwe and had constructive discussions with the three Principals
in the inclusive government. As we see it it was a good and positive visit -
giving new momentum to the dialogue process towards re-engagement. Indeed,
we can build on this visit in order to make progress in the on-going
dialogue efforts. This positive assessment stands in stark contrast to what
we can read in the one and only daily newspaper that is there at the moment.
This is how the EU visit was summarised on prominent page 5 of The Herald
the other day:

".it was high sounding, but signifying nothing more than provocative
political posturing. - It was nothing but a self-fulfilment and egoistical
trip by a collection of destruction-inspired political forces and
glory-seeking political pretenders in search of mileage to assess the impact
made possible by their equally destruction-inspired offspring - sanctions -
on greatly oppressed and wronged souls of Zimbabwe - Nothing more and
nothing less"

The quote speaks for itself. One can only pity those who prefer to
concentrate on negatively spinned communication and who fail to understand
what needs to be done to move forwards in a positive direction.

Colleagues and Friends,
The international community and indeed Zimbabweans are closely monitoring
the media environment expecting an end to the suppression of the free flow
of information as an indicator of the success of the inclusive government.
Article 19 of the GPA, signed by the three political parties, recognizes the
importance of the right to freedom of expression and the role of the media
in a multi-party democracy. The implementation of the GPA in general and the
adherence to the Article dealing with media in particular is a litmus test
on the sincerity of the inclusive government to usher in a new era of unity,
freedom and work.

The GPA notes that while the provisions of the Broadcasting Services Act
permit the issuance of licenses, to date no licenses other than to the
public broadcaster have been issued. We will continue to urge the government
to urgently open up the airwaves to allow for the operation of "as many
media houses as possible" to directly quote from the GPA. An essential first
step could be to open the airwaves for community radio stations. As Sweden
we support the establishment of community radios; and we believe that the
absence of community-based radios hinders development and poverty reduction
efforts. Community Radios could be playing a crucial role in terms of
informing the ordinary people, especially in rural and marginal areas, on
the progress of the inclusive government and on other key national issues
like national healing and the constitutional making process, as well as the
fight against HIV/AIDS and cholera.

The Parties to the GPA agreed that the government shall ensure the immediate
processing by the appropriate authorities of all applications for
re-registration and registration in terms of both the Broadcasting Services
Act as well as the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act. We
urge the government to do this and go even further to allow Parliament - in
consultation with all media players - to discuss these Acts to determine if
they aid media freedom; and if not, amend or repeal parts of these laws
which are not in line with the spirit of the inclusive government or in line
with key regional media declarations. It is important for government to come
up with legislation that will open up the media landscape and help
facilitate the implementation of the GPA.

Dear Friends,
During my few years in this beautiful country, I have learnt that the
cultural basis for a free press is a 'padare' or 'enkundleni' - a forum for
discussion and debate or dialogue. In this transitional phase, Zimbabwe's
press should build on this tradition and move towards the notion of a free
press that is determined and guided by the public's right to be informed, or
to know.

A few days ago, I was reflecting on the advantages of independent newspapers
in Zimbabwe. Many names came to mind, amongst them of course the passionate
Trevor Ncube. Another name is Geoffrey Nyarota, - the founding editor of
Zimbabwe's first independent daily publication, The Daily News, in 1999.
Some of you may recall that the Daily News had, at some point of its
circulation, the highest readership of 30.6 percent of the total reading
population followed by the Herald with 28.8 percent.

Some of us here may recall that Geoffrey's most convincing argument for
independent media was that Africa should be seen through the eyes of African
reporters - from the viewpoint that if local journalists were allowed to
report freely to the Western audiences, their sources and the context of
their stories would be different. In the same vein, through opening up space
for the media, Zimbabwe can create transparency, which gives the
international community, investors and tourists more confidence to give
financial resources to Zimbabwe and help revive the economy.

There is no doubt that this will go a long way in marketing Zimbabwe as the
wonderful country that it is and help in reviving tourism which has an
obvious impact on the economy given the prospects of the 2010 World Cup next
door in South Africa. The creation and promotion of a free, truly
independent and highly professional media can have an enormous impact on
Zimbabwe's development process and economic growth. The media in Zimbabwe
has the potential to create a more positive picture of Zimbabwe, which in
turn will attract investors, tourists and the international community to
assist the country with increased investment, direct foreign aid and
financial resources.

It is regrettable and unfortunate that media coverage and access in Zimbabwe
is presently below fifty percent. There are many areas in the country,
especially rural areas, where there is no radio or television coverage and
where newspapers do not reach. It is of course very important for the media
to be accessed by ordinary Zimbabweans - and I think I know that this is a
challenge that will be taken on also by NewsDay. Universal access will
ensure that Zimbabweans are aware of the progress of the inclusive
government and through the media they can have a voice in the way the
country is governed, thereby strengthening democracy.

Colleagues and Friends,
As I mentioned before I keep on reminding my Zimbabwean friends and
colleagues that most of the media reforms we are calling for are not alien
or imposed by the West. Today we can rather say that they are derived from
the wisdom of the GPA and are in line with the key regional declarations on
media freedom. That is why the government is urged to abide by what was
agreed upon in the GPA.

Finally, to all control freaks and to those who have been used to the old
way of controlling and suppressing the flow of information let us say: don´t
be afraid of media freedom. Try to think outside the old box and embrace
what is in the long-term interest of the nation. See it as a positive
challenge that NewsDay is likely to play its independent role by being the
voice of the New Zimbabwe!

Tatenda, Siyabonga, Twalumba - I thank you

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Robert and Grace Mugabe own 12 farms between them

By Violet Gonda
28 September 2009

Robert Mugabe and his ZANU PF party have always insisted that the government's
land reform programme is meant to correct 'historical imbalances' and give
land to landless black Zimbabweans, through a one man one farm policy. But
over the last decade productive farms have been taken from white commercial
farmers and given to a new black elite.  This weekend journalist Peta
Thornycroft also revealed that Robert and Grace Mugabe own 12 farms between

The President is said to have bought one farm near his rural home in Zvimba,
Mashonaland West but then he went on to grab five other neighbouring farms.

Grace is said to own six commercial farms, including Gushungo Dairy Estate
in Mazowe, formerly known as Foyle Farm, which was the top dairy farm in
Zimbabwe. The farm owner faced a campaign of violence over many months in
2003 until he was forced to sell his property at a quarter of its value, and
ultimately he only received 40 percent of that amount. Russell Goreraza,
Grace's son from her first marriage, manages the farm.

It has also emerged that Nestlé is Mrs Mugabe's biggest customer and she is
said to be selling up to a million litres of milk a year to the
multinational food company. Nestle has said it was left with little choice
but to buy milk from Gushungo Dairy Estate, because so many other milk
producers had shut down.  It's alleged that Mrs Mugabe uses an unmarked
£100,000 tanker and trailer to deliver milk three times a week to Nestlé's
plant on an industrial estate on the outskirts of Harare.
The Mugabe's are on a list of targeted sanctions by the European Union but
the Swiss company is not obliged to comply with the targeted measures
because Switzerland is not a member of the EU.  However, the country has its
own set of measures against the Mugabes, one of which states it "is
forbidden to make funds available to persons mentioned, or put them,
directly or indirectly, at their disposition".

Thornycroft told SW Radio Africa on Monday that an incredible amount of
money has been spent on Gushongo Dairy Farm, "And yet, despite this enormous
amount of money and with the latest German, Swedish and Polish milking
equipment, she still only produces a fraction of the amount of milk that the
previous farm owner used to produce.

On June 27th Mrs Mugabe told the state-controlled Herald newspaper that the
farm had been in a dilapidated state before she became the new owner, but
Thornycroft said: "It may have looked not posh but it was extremely
productive. It was a top dairy estate in Zimbabwe and it held its own in
world records as well. Now it produces about a 6th of what it used to

Nestle has been criticised by rights groups for helping the First Lady to
accumulate wealth through the controversial land acquisition policy that
only benefits a small elite. A number of South Africans were on Monday
making calls urging the public to boycott Nestle, because its Zimbabwean
operation is buying milk from a farm controlled by Mrs Mugabe.

The other five farms owned by the First Lady are:

The 2,500 acre Iron Mask Estate. Grace Mugabe personally ordered the
elderly owners, John and Eva Matthews to leave, giving them just 48 hours.

Sigaro Farm taken from Joe Kennedy, a major seed producer;

Gwebi Wood, which had been bought by Washington Matsaire, the chief
executive of Standard Chartered Bank's Zimbabwe subsidiary, in 2001;

In December last year, Ben Hlatshwayo, a high court judge who had evicted
Vernon Nicolle from the 1,445-acre Gwina farm, was in turn forced out by
alleged "unlawful conduct" on Mrs Mugabe's part, according to court papers
he reportedly filed;

Mrs Mugabe is also in control of the 1,740-acre Leverdale farm.

Thornycroft, who has visited the various farms, said sadly it's been a
takeover of lucrative farms which have now been devastated. She said Gwina
farm, for example, produced 20% of the country's wheat and was a massive
tobacco and maize producer but there is no large scale production taking
place now. "It is really the tragedy of these vibrant sectors, now in the
hands of amateurs."

Thornycroft confirmed the Mugabes have 12 farms, saying: "They do have.
There may be more that we don't know about."

Although Robert Mugabe bought the 445ha Highfield Farm near his rural home,
the other five farms were seized from their white owners. Three were owned
by the Skea family - Cressydale, John O'Groat and Tankatara - who were
forced out between 2000 and 2002 and have emigrated to Australia and New
Zealand. The owners of the other two farms - Clifford and Cressydale - were
forced out in 2006 and 2008.

Analysts say this is the real reason there have been delays in allowing an
audit of land ownership, as required by the GPA, because it will reveal the
multiple farms owned by the Mugabes and others in the ruling elite.

Meanwhile, the General Agriculture and Plantation Workers Union of Zimbabwe
(GAPWUZ) have reported that over 66,000 farm workers have been made homeless
since February and are fighting for survival following the new spate of
invasions of white-owned farms. GAPWUZ said the farms' new 'owners' had
hired the police to force farm workers and their families off the land. It's
reported most of the workers were now living rough, by the roadside or in
the mountains, where they had set up squatter camps.

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Nestlé defends buying milk from Grace Mugabe's dairy

Workers living on pittance despite farm producing 6 500 litres a day
September 28, 2009

By Peta Thornycroft Harare

Mugabe, his wife and a number of other Zanu-PF insiders are subject to
sanctions by the European Union (EU), the US and other Western countries.

But Nestlé, the multinational food company, is not obliged to comply with
the sanctions as its headquarters are in Switzerland, which is not a member
of the EU.

Mugabe, The Sunday Independent reported on Sunday, has built a secret
personal farming empire from at least five white-owned farms where the
owners were forced out.

Mrs Mugabe's properties total around 4 856 hectares, but her most important
is Gushungo Dairy Estate, formerly known as Foyle Farm. It is in Mazowe,
about 48km north of Harare.

Other dairymen, who have also been forced off their land, say that the
previous white owner of Foyle faced a campaign of violence over several
months in 2003, until he was forced to sell his property to the state's
Agricultural Rural Development Authority (Arda).

The price was set at about a quarter of independent estimates of the farm's
true worth, they say, and the former owner received only 40 percent of that

Mrs Mugabe became a regular visitor as soon as the previous owner departed,
and workers at the property say it is now her farm, managed by Russell
Goreraza, her son from her first marriage. She married Mugabe in 1996.

She visits the farm several times a week, along a new road which is out of
bounds for any vehicles but her fleet, according to workers at the dairy.
Under her occupation, the farm has become one of the few in the country to
benefit from investment in recent years and has been lauded in The Herald,
the state-controlled newspaper.

The dairy produces 6 500 litres of milk a day, The Herald has said - only
about 35 percent of its output under the previous owner, who produced 6.5
million litres a year, making it the biggest dairy farm in Zimbabwe.

Her biggest customer, according to her staff and other figures in the
industry, is Nestlé Zimbabwe, the local subsidiary of the Swiss company. The
plant, in an industrial area in Msasa on the outskirts of the capital,
manufactures powdered milk and cereals for the local market, and for export
to East African countries.

Grace uses an unmarked tanker and trailer combination dedicated for her use
to deliver milk three times a week to Nestlé's plant on an industrial estate
on the outskirts of Harare, according to workers at the food company.

The dairy's only other customers, according to farm staff, are personal
callers at the premises, who buy milk for $1 (about R7.46) a litre.

A spokesman at Nestlé's global headquarters in Switzerland said that at the
end of last year "we found ourselves operating in a market where eight of
our 16 contractual suppliers had gone out of business".

"As a result, in early 2009 the company started purchasing milk on the open
market from various suppliers on a strictly non-contractual basis. In
certain instances, the milk available in the market would be from Gushungo
Dairy Estate."

Such milk would be bought on a "cash on delivery" basis, he said, adding:
"Nestlé has no direct engagement whatsoever with this estate."

But when asked to clarify whether it was bought directly or through a third
party, he said: "We bought Gushungo Dairy Estate's milk through Dorkin
Dairies until that firm collapsed last February, then we bought the milk

Nestlé is not covered by American or EU sanctions rules, but it has spent
years protecting its reputation amid other scandals, particularly
allegations over the improper promotion of formula milk to nursing mothers
in the Third World, which it denies but which have led to consumer boycotts
in the West.

American and European officials say that if Nestlé were subject to their
rules, it would be committing a criminal offence by trading with Mrs Mugabe.

Asked if despite its exemption from the sanctions measures because of its
Swiss corporate nationality, it was doing anything wrong by doing business
with Mrs Mugabe's operation, Nestlé said: "During the recent crisis, Nestlé
has not considered moving its operations out of the country. By providing
basic food products to Zimbabwean consumers, Nestlé aims to meet the needs
of the local population, many of whom are vulnerable and disadvantaged."

The company's code of conduct, according to its website, states: "We condemn
any form of bribery and corruption." It also says that Nestlé "supports and
respects the protection of international human rights", and adds that its
suppliers should also adhere to its code.

Asked to explain its dealings with Mrs Mugabe in that context, it said:
"Nestlé does not provide any support, financial or otherwise, to the
Gushungo Dairy Estate or to any political party in Zimbabwe."

Pay and conditions for workers at the dairy are meagre. A 25-year-old
worker, with a baby to care for, said she cannot afford to buy its milk at
$1 a litre.

"Do we ever get enough money? No, I get $40 a month, yet we sell lots and
lots of milk," she said. "We do get cabbages returned from the market and
25kg of maize meal twice a month, but there is no electricity in our houses,
only for office staff and managers.

"Mrs Mugabe is here a lot, but doesn't talk to us, just the managers."

At a ceremony commissioning new equipment at the Gushungo dairy in June,
Mugabe referred to the dairy repeatedly as Mrs Mugabe's "project", saying
she had invested "determination and dedication" to it".

It's now her project," he said. "I would like to congratulate her. Today you
see this monument. It is a result of her efforts and time."

Mrs Mugabe herself told The Herald: "When we came here (farm), it was in bad
state. I had to work hard to transform it to what it is today. I went into
dairy farming because he (Mr Mugabe) wanted it. I did it especially for
him." - Independent Foreign Service

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Gono's SMS to Mawere exposes Mugabe

September 28, 2009

JOHANNESBURG (Times Live) - What started out as a legal fight for the return
of businesses confiscated by the state has become an intriguing exposé of
how President Robert Mugabe runs the nation.

Court papers in the dispute between SMM Holdings and Justice Minister
Patrick Chinamasa reveal Mugabe's hidden hand meddling in judicial matters.

Exiled Zimbabwean businessman Mutumwa Mawere, a director of SMM who now
lives in South Africa, says in his answering affidavit: "With respect to His
Excellency, the president of Zimbabwe, I confirm my meeting with him on 10
May in Pretoria, South Africa."

Mawere was responding to Chinamasa's assertion that the businessman was not
in talks with the Zimbabwe government about his predicament.

Mawere had asked the court to delay the litigation to allow him time to
conclude his talks on the matter with the Zimbabwe government.

SMM was taken over by the government five years ago - ostensibly for owing
huge amounts to the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe and other lenders, and on
suspicion that it spirited foreign currency earnings abroad.

Both allegations have yet to be proved. But what is becoming clear is that
Mawere was a victim of bad politics and greed.

At one stage, Mawere sought the help of former South African president Thabo
Mbeki in his continuing battle to wrest the company back from the state's

Mawere says his meeting with Mugabe was a "follow-up to discussions we had
the previous day at President [Jacob] Zuma's inauguration".

"The president [Mugabe] requested me to brief him about the details and
circumstances leading to the reconstruction of SMM Holdings Private Limited
and related companies, as well as my specification."

During its reconstruction, SMM was placed in administration and Mawere was
branded a "specified" individual: someone barred from doing business in

Court records indicate that the Justice Minister was opposed to Mawere's
attempts to settle out of court.

It was Mugabe's favourite banker - Gideon Gono, the controversial governor
of the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe - who let the cat out of the bag.

In his affidavit, Mawere reproduces text messages from Gono's Blackberry
phone, which clearly indicate that Mugabe was being kept informed of all
developments in the case.

Gono told Mawere that Mugabe was not to blame for his predicament, but other
senior government officials - including Chinamasa - were.

A SMS message from Gono read: "I'm very clear now I wasn't [aware], neither
was the prez [Mugabe], of these conflict of interests.

"Also, perusal of extra documents reveals tht the state was on shacky ground
frm word go. We neva complained as rbz that smm has failed to pay! Besides
rbz neva lend 2smm bt to banks hahaha! Dont wori it has been a long walk.

"U can count me on side. Bcoz it is only just and fais 2 do so.

"Pse accept an apology frm 4 any distress I may have bn said I caused tho my
prez and me are now clear wht we seem 2 hve bn up against!
Misrepresentations and malice behind our baks! Gud day."

Gono sums up the chicanery aptly in a follow-up text in which he says: "It
is evident that the bylaw is subordinate to the rule of law."

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Minister : Zimbabwe receives report on alleged rights abuses at diamond fields

APA-Harare (Zimbabwe) Zimbabwe has received a report compiled by an
international diamond trade watchdog on alleged human rights abuses
committed by the country's army at a controversial diamond fields to the
east of the country, APA learnt here Monday.

Mine Minister Obert Mpofu said a ministerial taskforce was currently
studying the report compiled by the Kimberley Process (KP) which undertook a
fact-finding mission to Zimbabwe two months ago.

"We have just received the full report from KP, which we are still studying.
The matters are being handled by a ministerial taskforce but we will take
actions to abide by KP recommendations," Mpofu told a weekly newsletter
published by the office of Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai.

A KP review team was in Zimbabwe in July and visited the Marange diamond
fields where there have been reports of human rights violations and illegal
diamond mining and trading activities.

An interim report produced by the KP review mission soon after the visit
recommended Zimbabwe's suspension amid allegations of human rights abuses
committed by the army as well as lack of proper procedures for the mining of
the Chiadzwa diamonds.

The KP is a joint government, industry and civil society initiative to stem
the flow of conflict diamonds - rough diamonds used by rebel movements to
finance wars against legitimate governments, mainly in Africa.

  JN/nm/APA 2009-09-28

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Tour guide in Vic Falls plunge

Gambling with life ... A tourist swims on the edge of the Victoria Falls' Devil's Pool

28/09/2009 00:00:00
by Lindie Whiz
Danger zone ... Devil's Pool circled
Vic Falls awakens for World Cup

A BRAVE Zimbabwean tour guide is presumed dead after plunging 90m into the Victoria Falls while trying to rescue a tourist, police said.

The unnamed man was working for South African tour company, Sunway Safaris, reports said on Sunday.

The man was accompanying several western tourists on the Zambian side of the world’s largest waterfall. Here, tourists swim dangerously close to the tipping point of the falls, only prevented from falling by a slippery, submerged lip of rock.

Only the brave attempt a swim in the aptly named Devil’s Pool – and tour guides are tasked with ensuring their safety.

It was in fulfilling this duty that the tragic tour guide dived into the water to rescue a stranded tourists last Wednesday.

A witness told the Sunday Mail: “The tour guide quickly grabbed the tourist’s hand and successfully pulled him back into the pool but in the process, he slipped and fell into the gorge down below.”

Horrified tourists on either side of the falls witnessed the incident.

Stretching their luck ... A tourist, oblivious of the danger, takes a snap of the falls

Chief Inspector Chisoni, in charge of the Victoria Falls Police Station (Zambia), said the tour guide is believed to have driven the tourists from South Africa. They set up base at the Water Front hotel in Livingstone.

Last Wednesday, the tourists visited the Victoria Falls rainforest before a trip to the Devil’s Pool.

Locals say deaths at the site are rare, occurring at the rate of one death every year.

One resident said: “People should just be banned from going near that place because it is dangerous. On the Zimbabwean side, there are barriers put in place. That should be done on the Zambian side as well.”

Crazy ... A woman tourist with baby on the edge of the Victoria Falls gorge

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Drought to hit Zimbabwe this farming season

Posted on Monday 28 September 2009 - 08:20

  Ronny Zikhali, AfricaNews reporter in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe

  Zimbabwe is likely to be hit by drought this farming season. The drought
forecast by the Association of World Meteorological Services department in
Southern Africa in the coming cropping season has become a cause for concern
not only to farmers themselves but the entire Zimbabwean nation at large.

  Farmers who faced a number of challenges in the providing of the nation
with adequate food in previous drought years are looking at mitigation
measures to lessen the adverse impact of El Nino phenomenon.

  Zimbabwe Commercial Farmers Union President, Wilson Nyabonda told Zimbabwe's
sole broadcaster, ZBC News in Harare that since the local meteorological
office has not yet confirmed a drought caused by the El Nino in the Pacific
Ocean, farmers should not relax but work hard with available resources
including investment in irrigation schemes.

  Nyabonda said farmers would not be able to do it alone hence government
has to come in by availing resources to set up irrigation schemes and
construct additional dams to provide enough water for irrigation.

  In addition, the ZCFU President said farmers should understand rainfall
patterns in their regions and grow suitable crops.

  Zimbabwe experienced the worst drought in the 1992 to 1993 season which
affected many people especially those living in the rural areas.

  The same drought destroyed the national cattle herd and left the majority
of smallholder farmers without their source of draught power.

  Experience has it that El Nino induced weather patterns can either lead to
floods that destroy crops, infrastructure and kill animals leading to food
shortages as was the case in year 2000 or poor rainfall which does not last
the whole season.

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

'We're losing confidence in unity govt'

by Simplicious Chirinda Monday 28 September 2009

HARARE - Zimbabwe civic society groups say the are increasingly losing
confidence in the power-sharing government's ability to solve the country's
problems because of the administration's failure to quicken implementation
of necessary political reforms.

"The inclusive government is gradually eroding our confidence in the
arrangement's ability to solve the problems that the country faces," newly
elected Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition (CZC) chairman Jonah Gokova said at the

The CZC is a coalition of human and civic rights groups, churches, women's
groups, labour and student movements that have campaigned for a peaceful and
democratic settlement of Zimbabwe's political crisis.

The pressure group said that the solution to Zimbabwe's problems should not
be left to the three political parties - President Robert Mugabe's ZANU PF
and the two MDC parties led by Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and Deputy
Premier Arthur Mutambara - who signed the Global Political Agreement (GPA)
that gave birth to the unity government in February.

"Our crisis is a crisis of governance and can not be resolved by political
engagement alone but through an all inclusive process that involves all
citizens of Zimbabwe," Gokova told the organisation's annual general meeting
in Harare.

Zimbabwe's unity government that is seen as offering the country the best
opportunity in a decade to wriggle out of economic and political crisis has
done well to stabilise the economy and end inflation that was estimated at
more than a trillion percent at the height of the country's economic
meltdown last year.

But analysts remain doubtful about the administration's long-term
effectiveness, citing unending squabbles between ZANU PF and MDC as well as
by the coalition government's inability to secure direct financial support
from rich Western nations.

Tsvangirai's MDC party accuses Mugabe of flouting the GPA as shown by the
veteran leader's refusal to rescind his unilateral appointment of two of his
alleged cronies to the key posts of central bank governor and attorney

The government has also failed to implement key reforms such as the
appointment of a new independent media commission and bringing an end to
assault on political and human rights.

But on the other hand ZANU PF insists it has done the most to uphold the
power-sharing deal and instead accuses the MDC of reneging on promises to
campaign for lifting of Western sanctions on Mugabe and his top allies. -

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Where Citizens Are Under Siege
The perilous existence of white farming entrepreneurs in Robert Mugabe's Zimbabwe.

When Robert Mugabe gained power in Zimbabwe in 1980, he made strenuous efforts to reassure the white farming community about its prospects. White farmers had reason enough to be fearful of him. During the guerrilla war against white rule in Rhodesia, as Zimbabwe was then called, Mr. Mugabe had repeatedly vowed that "white exploiters" would not be allowed to keep an acre of land. As one of the most privileged groups in the country, numbering no more than 6,000 in all but owning nearly half of the land area, white farmers had been a constant target of Mr. Mugabe's wrath.

But having won the 1980 election, Mr. Mugabe swiftly changed his tune. White farmers, he acknowledged, formed the backbone of Zimbabwe's economy, producing a multitude of crops and commodities using sophisticated techniques and equipment that were essential to the country's prosperity; they also employed 270,000 people. To win them over, Mr. Mugabe awarded them generous price rises and other financial incentives and ensured that technical services remained at a high standard. Though nervous and depressed by the election result, white farmers soon rebounded. Many became ardent supporters of Mr. Mugabe's regime "Good old Bob!" they cheered.

Mr. Mugabe occasionally made noises about the need for land redistribution, but for years he paid little attention to the matter, other than to make certain that his cronies in government—military chiefs, senior politicians and civil servants—were able to pick up choice properties. As popular discontent over government mismanagement and corruption grew, however, he turned on white farmers as the scapegoat for the country's ills, fanning old grievances over their landholdings.

After a humiliating defeat in a referendum in 2000 designed to give him greater power, Mr. Mugabe took revenge, launching a campaign of terror against white farmers, whom he accused of supporting his opponents. Across the country, white farmers were murdered, assaulted and driven from their homes by gangs of armed youths paid by the government and organized by the military. Hundreds of farms were left derelict. Commercial agriculture eventually collapsed, leaving Zimbabwe dependent on foreign food aid to prevent mass starvation.

In "The Last Resort," Douglas Rogers, a travel writer born in Zimbabwe but now based in New York, enters the story at the tail-end of these events. In 2006, after making occasional visits from abroad to his parents' farm in the hills above Mutare in the Eastern Highlands of Zimbabwe, he began to chronicle their desperate efforts to survive in increasingly hazardous circumstances. Not only did they live with the constant threat of losing their home; they faced the daily grind of coping with food shortages, power cuts and a worthless currency. Mr. Rogers uses their ordeal as a metaphor for the condition of the country.

Like many other white farming entrepreneurs, Mr. Rogers's parents had bought their 730-acre farm after Mr. Mugabe came to power in 1980, obtaining a government certificate approving the purchase. The farm consisted mainly of hilly ground and had little agricultural value, so they set out to develop it into a small tourist resort, stocking it with zebra and antelope and building a lodge for backpackers, a restaurant, an art gallery and a clutch of cottages. "Drifters," as the place was called, became a thriving enterprise, mentioned favorably in foreign travel books.

Mr. Mugabe's rampage put an end to all that. Returning to Zimbabwe after an absence of several years, Mr. Rogers finds that the wildlife has been slaughtered, the backpackers gone and the cottages occupied by white refugees forced out of their own homes. The lodge eventually becomes a brothel.

The Last Resort

By Douglas Rogers
Harmony, 309 pages, $24.99

Yet still his parents cling on. Initially worn down by worry and fatigue, they find that the struggle for survival itself gives them strength. "The very predicament they had found themselves in, the very chaos engulfing them, had given purpose, reason to live," Mr. Rogers writes. "Every day for the past eight years they had woken up to plot and plan their survival, and yet, instead of being crushed by this struggle, beaten down, they had been buoyed by it. In fighting back they had found a rare energy, passion and lust for life that had kept them young, active and alive."

The snapshots that Mr. Rogers gives of his parents' perilous existence are vivid enough. And the characters he encounters—a political commissar, a war veteran working for state security, a black-market currency dealer—are entertaining. But Mr. Rogers has spent too little time in Zimbabwe to offer more than fragments of the drama unfolding before him. When the crucial 2008 election takes place, he opts to stay in New York rather than plunge back into Zimbabwe once more. He admits: "I was too frightened to go. I didn't have the stomach for it."

From a distance, Mr. Rogers describes how his parents, like many others in Zimbabwe, rode a wave of pre-election euphoria: Mr. Mugabe was facing a popular opponent, and it seemed as if the end of his 28-year regime was nigh. But then the election fails to produce a clear winner, and as the second round of voting approaches, Mr. Mugabe lets loose a campaign of violence and intimidation to ensure that he remains in power. Mr. Rogers's parents, as far as we know, remain in a parlous state, like the country itself. What Mr. Rogers has missed, by visiting Zimbabwe so intermittently, is the opportunity to provide a fuller and more graphic account of the nightmare the country still faces.

Mr. Meredith is the author of "Mugabe: Power, Plunder and the Struggle for Zimbabwe" and "The Fate of Africa: A History of Fifty Years of Independence."

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Mugabe: The Proverbial Drunken Uncle

Published on: 28th September, 2009


At every African funeral, family fissures are brought to the forefront by an
uncle. Family members with an axe to grind provide copious amounts of
alcohol to that loud uncle who is then tasked with the duty of raising
unsavory issues.

In his drunken stupor, the uncle harangues in-laws, interjects, jeers and
often makes salacious revelations—usually regarding the deceased’s debts or
extra-marital affairs. Once the funeral is over, the uncle sobers up and
invokes plausible deniability by conveniently blaming sorghum beer for his

Robert Mugabe missed another golden opportunity—after his decade long of
self- imposed CNN embargo—to show the world that he is not a delusional
schizophrenic despot. Mugabe used the CNN platform instead as a pulpit for
hate speech. The truth behind his land grab is now common knowledge.
Admonishing Zimbabwean whites, maligning the opposition, blaming the West
for Zimbabwe’s ills, and incessantly cursing imaginary imperialists is
outmoded rhetoric.

The USA, EU, UK, Australia, Canada and indeed any nation has the sovereign
right to deny entry, trade or association with any individual or nation
which these governments deem threatening to world peace and regional

There exist no economic sanctions against the Republic of Zimbabwe by any
member of the United Nations. The onus is on Mugabe to prove to the world
which economic sanctions he refers to. Which UN resolution or an act of
Congress or Parliament, from which country, imposed economic sanctions on
the people and Republic of Zimbabwe?

The International Monetary Fund has released US$409 million dollar to the
Ministry of Finance, President Barack Obama of the U.S. announced a U.S. $73
million aid package when Tsvangirai visited the White House, and Chancellor
Angela Merkel of Germany offered €20 million euros (US$28 million).

Prime Minister Brown followed this up by announcing an increase in British
aid to £60 million ($100 million), five million pounds ($8 million) of which
is new money for food security and educational supplies and textbooks.
Australia announced this month that it would also contribute an extra A$8
million (R51m) in aid to Zimbabwe to fund emergency food supplies,
agriculture projects and help reinvigorate education.

In August the World Global Fund donated US$37 million to fight HIV, Malaria
and Tuberculosis, Botswana gave US$ 70 million and South Africa released 300
million rand (US$31 million or €23 million) for agricultural aid to

Yet at the same time Mugabe’s ministers and his inner circle are driving
around in German built luxury cars, chatting on 3G smart phones—what

Mugabe accused Britain and the United States of seeking to oust him by
imposing economic sanctions; the effects of which he said were worsened by
years of drought. “The sanctions are unjustified, illegal … they are meant
for regime change, they are meant to address that illegal principle.”

Mugabe uses the same sovereign right to admonish persons with whom he has
political disagreements or opposes ZANU (PF) policies. Specification of
entrepreneurs and business owners is now the weapon of choice for
misappropriating private property.

Mugabe unilaterally pulled Zimbabwe out of the Commonwealth, saying,
“Zimbabwe quits and quits will be,” likening the Commonwealth to George
Orwell’s Animal Farm. Only last week Mugabe offended the entire SADC legal
fraternity by withdrawing a High Court judge, Justice Antonia Guvava, whom
it had seconded to the legal regional authority in 2005. Through his equally
noxious Minister of Justice Patrick Chinamasa, he described the SADC
Tribunal as “just like someone sitting under a tree” and purporting to be
“dispensing justice”.

The Tribunal is being punished and maligned by ZANU (PF) for its legal
ruling which would have compelled Mugabe to account for the multiple farms
he and his light-fingered cronies have amassed under the guise of righting a
colonial wrong.

Why are travel restrictions, asset freezes and personal sanctions imposed on
Robert Mugabe and his associates in the first place? All Mugabe has to do is
to revert to the rule of law, and his wife Grace will be shopping at Harrods
for Christmas.
Robert Mugabe needs to urgently refrain from redundant vitriolic hate
speech, which does nothing to close the Grand Canyon of differences that
exist between his failed authoritarian decree and democracy. The time for
hate speech belongs to the archives of cold war geopolitics and stale
colonial history. Zimbabwe needs all the help it can get to extricate
herself from the dire economic quagmire which Mugabe has created through
hatred and archaic policies

Chikomo, shata divi asi rimwe rutivi rutambire pwere – a small hill must be
difficult to climb on one side, but the other side must be a playground for
children – even the most evil man must possess redeeming features – Shona

The drought cannot be blamed for the failure of Zimbabwe’s food production,
drought is a permanent feature in Southern Africa’s rain pentads and should
be planned for in the government’s forecasts. Zimbabwe has experienced four
major droughts (in 1982–1984, 1986–1987, 1991–1992, 1994–1995 and
2002-2003). During some of these drought years, Zimbabwe produced its
highest yield of tobacco, flowers and other non food crops for export, which
offset the importation of food. The government’s Grain Marketing Board (GMB)
even managed to export grain during two drought years.

Zimbabwe’s population has risen from just over 7 million at Independence in
1980 to more than 13 million in 2009, yet overall cereal and grain
production has declined.

The rain patterns of Southern Africa are influenced by the same weather
system – the Inter Tropical Convergence Zone – ITCZ. Why then are all our
neighbouring countries expecting bumper grain harvests and Zimbabwe, in the
middle, blames successive droughts?

Zimbabwe needs a leader who wages war against poverty and corruption, a
leader who believes in the rule of law, and a leader willing to sacrifice
all to attain sustainable prosperity for his countrymen. Instead we have
been given a leader who is the “drunken uncle,” showing up at important
events to humiliate other family members and bring shame on the family name.

Phil Matibe –

Back to the Top
Back to Index