International Herald Tribune
The Associated PressPublished: September 1, 2007
HARARE, Zimbabwe: The government has ended a price freeze affecting hotels,
restaurants and bars, citing "viability" problems in the already ailing
tourism and hospitality industry, allowing them to increase their rates by
up to 50 percent, the state Herald newspaper reported Saturday.
Prices of accommodation and meals had been slashed by half two months ago
under a sweeping decree meant to tame inflation of more than 7,600 percent
by ordering price cuts on all goods and services. The new tariffs, announced
by the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority, will initially be valid until Sept. 30.
The announcement came just two days after a new decree from President Robert
Mugabe ordering a freeze on wages and school fees and striking down legal
provisions allowing them to be linked to the state's own consumer price
index on inflation.
The Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions condemned the salary freeze, saying it
would effectively turn workers into "forced labor."
"The workers are tired of being sacrificial lambs and bearing the brunt of
bad governance and bad economic policies," it said in a statement Friday.
"We will leave no stone unturned in opposing this ill-thought move," the
union movement said. It described the salary freeze as "satanic" and said it
was particularly unjust given the fact that workers were forced to buy on
the black market because the price cuts had emptied shelves across the
country, with stores unable to sell products for less money than they had
paid for them.
Gasoline shortages have crippled transport services. At least 7,500 business
executives - including corporate directors, store managers, traders and bus
drivers - have been arrested, briefly jailed and fined since the June 26
price cuts for overcharging.
The countrywide Nando's spiced chicken takeout franchise has shut down its
outlets frequently since June as chicken, potatoes for fries, cooking oil
and diesel for generators ran out during daily power outages.
Fast food takeouts, bars and night clubs were included in a list of new
prices published Saturday, and hotel accommodation rates were raised
according to their star rating.
Five star hotel room rates were listed at about the equivalent of US$ 60
(?44) a night for Zimbabweans, but remained at about US$200 (?146) for
foreign visitors under a long-standing two-tier system differentiating the
Saturday's price list raised the price of beer and liquor by about a third
in hotels, bars and restaurants, but not in shops and liquor stores.
The tourism authority said the increases were agreed taking into account the
government's pricing policy "as well as the viability of the tourism
Tourism revenues, once the nation's third-largest hard currency earner after
tobacco exports and mining, have plummeted in seven years of political and
economic turmoil that followed the often-violent seizures of thousands of
white-owned commercial farms that began in 2000, disrupting the
agriculture-based economy in the former regional breadbasket.
Along with acute food shortages in recent weeks, Zimbabweans have faced
shortages of beer and cigarettes in a nation once the world's second biggest
tobacco exporter after Brazil.
Independent estimates put real inflation closer to 25,000 percent and the
International Monetary Funds has forecast it would reach 100,000 percent by
the end of the year, fueled by rampant black market dealing in scarce goods.
A cattle auction at the annual Harare agriculture show was banned by price
control authorities on Thursday, after it became clear bids were to exceed
the government's price by several fold in the beef-eating nation where meat
has become a rarity.
National Post, Canada
Published: Saturday, September 01, 2007
China has joined the list of countries that have abandoned Robert Mugabe,
the Zimbabwean tyrant whose kleptocracy transformed a once-flourishing
African state into a pauper nation. On Thursday Beijing bowed to British
pressure and pledged to drop all assistance to Zimbabwe except for the most
basic humanitarian aid. We would hope this is so. For 30 years China has
supported Mugabe and his thugs as they systematically plundered Zimbabwe's
economy and dismantled its last vestiges of democracy and rule of law.
There is no way to list all that is wrong with Mugabe. It is probably enough
to know Mugabe fashions himself after Kim Jongil, the delusional leader of
North Korea. On these pages a few weeks ago, R.W. Johnson, Southern Africa
correspondent for the Sunday Times, described what Mugabe learned from his
North Korean friends, particularly in the area of political indoctrination.
"The essential principle was that if, by physical torture, isolation and
relentless humiliation, you could break down someone's personality, it was
then possible to re-mould it along more 'acceptable' lines." When Mugabe put
these techniques to work, it resulted in the murder of thousands of his own
The American group Freedom House, which monitors repressive states like
Zimbabwe, has an online report about the African state. It outlines the
litany of misdeeds that Mugabe and the goons who run his political party,
the Zanu-PF, brought down on their own people. The only scope of optimism in
Freedom's House report was that Mugabe is very old, and may soon leave this
"Zimbabwe's political isolation and economic decline will remain for the
foreseeable future," the Freedom House report reads. "Given Mugabe's
advanced age (approximately 80 years) the task of addressing the country's
structural problems should come fairly soon. A post-Mugabe Zimbabwe will be
a failed state marked by economic collapse, a population ravaged by HIV/AIDS
Freedom House points to a sample period of just a few months in 2005 when
Mugabe instituted programs to create his bizarre vision of paradise. There
was Operation Clear the Filth that used intimidation and violence to destroy
a number of urban townships, leaving 700,000 homeless. It instituted
Operation No Going Back, which demolished thousands of private businesses.
The government also withdrew citizenship from those of mixed heritage, a
blatantly racist policy.
Although China now appears ready to step back from its support for Mugabe,
African countries, such as South Africa, Tanzania, Angola, and Zambia, are
unwilling to take the same step.
Freedom House notes that "Condemnation of Mugabe has not, however, been
universal. South Africa, the state with the most leverage against Zimbabwe,
is generally pro-Mugabe. South Africa's positive attitude is shared by many
African states and organizations, which see Mugabe as a hero of Zimbabwe's
war for independence, achieved in 1980. Furthermore, his land seizure
policies targeting white-owned farms are viewed sympathetically by a number
of other southern African states. This reservoir of goodwill has helped
Mugabe weather domestic and international criticism."
If countries such as South Africa do not pull their support for Mugabe, the
only hope the beleaguered people of Zimbabwe can cling to is that Mugabe has
blown out the candles on his last birthday cake.
Mail and Guardian
Mail & Guardian reporter
31 August 2007 11:59
They have fought over Zimbabwe's best farms, and now senior
figures in Zanu-PF are limbering up for a new battle -- this time over an
array of foreign assets that will be put up for sale with the enactment of a
controversial new empowerment law.
Zimbabwe's Empowerment Minister, Paul Mangwana, has tabled the
proposed legislation before Parliament and expects to push it through within
the next two weeks. "This is a revolutionary Bill that I think is more
revolutionary than the land reform programme," Mangwana said.
Should President Robert Mugabe decide to pursue this new drive
as aggressively as he did the seizure of white-owned farms, control of a
range of foreign assets will be there for the taking.
The wording of the proposed law makes it plain that even white
Zimbabweans will not be allowed to hold majority shares. It defines an
indigenous Zimbabwean as "any person who was disadvantaged by unfair
discrimination on the grounds of race before independence in 1980".
The law is vague on how assets will be valued and Zanu-PF
officials, seeing the loophole, plan to use their influence -- and
threats -- to take over assets cheaply.
"The whites know they will have to find some accommodation. And
it will have to be with people acceptable to the government," a senior
Zanu-PF official, declining to be named, said this week.
Mugabe has publicly showed his anger at the aggressive
accumulation of assets by his top lieutenants.
In February he claimed in an interview with state television
that there was "an insidious dimension where ambitious leaders [in Zanu-PF]
have been cutting deals with the British and Americans".
"The whole succession debate has given imperialism hope for
re-entry. Now we are seeing our officials -- senior Politburo officials --
joining up with white people, all in the name of making money," Mugabe has
charged in the past.
Retired army general Solomon Mujuru, one of the two main players
in the battle over Mugabe's succession, has nosed ahead in the new race for
assets. Last week he struck a deal with the white owners of the country's
largest private security firm, giving him control of half of the company, an
According to the proposed law, black Zimbabweans will hold at
least 51% of "every business that is being transferred, merged,
restructured, unbundled or demerged and in any new investments of a
The minister will have the power to withdraw the operating
licences of companies that do not meet the shareholding requirements and can
bar transactions by them.
Ahead of the enactment of the Bill, large, white-held
corporations have aready begun selling shares to existing business partners
or staff. Old Mutual officials said in Harare this week that the company
would sell 20% of its shares to black staff.
Earlier, Meikles Africa, the country's largest hotel group, with
business links to Tokyo Sexwale's Mvelaphanda Group and Pick 'n Pay,
announced a merger with a black-owned bank, Kingdom, in a deal that will
hand black investors management control and a significant shareholding.
Observers said the Old Mutual and Meikles deals allow foreign
and white businesses to designate shareholders of their choice, avoiding the
mounting pressure that business people report is coming from politicians
seeking a way in without having to pay.
Economic commentator Eric Bloch said the effect of the
empowerment proposals on the economy would depend on "how vigorously the
government enforces the new law".
SYDNEY, Sept 1 (AFP)
Zimbabwe opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai warned Saturday that the "end
game" for President Robert Mugabe was drawing near and that a collapse of
the state could be around the corner.
Calling for international pressure on Mugabe to respect democratic norms,
Tsvangirai said the country's economic woes and humanitarian crisis could
not continue forever.
The economy was in "free fall" with inflation at 12,000 percent, he told a
news conference in Australia, wrapping up a week-long visit which has been
denounced by Mugabe's government.
"It is an economy that has shrunk by almost 68 percent with a consequent
humanitarian crisis. The situation is really dangerous, because unless the
haemorrhage is stopped we may have a serious collapse of the state."
Ordinary Zimbabweans were very much aware of the seriousness of the
situation, he said.
"The people of Zimbabwe are very much conscious of their dire straits. But
they are also conscious that the end game is probably near."
Tsvangirai, the leader of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change, is
due back in Zimbabwe on Sunday. He said although inevitably he would feel
nervous he did not believe any action would be taken against him on arrival.
He added that he was not advocating economic sanctions against Zimbabwe, but
wanted members of the government to be prevented from travelling freely
Saturday 01 September 2007
By Patricia Mpofu
HARARE - Zimbabwe's business, labour and private schools yesterday reacted
angrily to the government's decision to put a moratorium on price and wage
increases, and warned of serious repercussions on the country's comatose
President Robert Mugabe on Thursday invoked the Presidential Powers
(Temporary Measures) Act to gazette new measures barring the public and
private sectors from linking prices of goods, salaries, service charges or
school fees to movements in inflation, the exchange rate, value-added tax or
import duty for the next six months.
Under the regulations, producers of goods and services and school
authorities must seek approval from the newly created National Incomes and
Pricing Commission before raising prices, salaries and fees.
The new law also reverses all fee increases effected by private schools
since 18 June pending approval by the Commission. Previously such approvals
came from the ministry of education.
The Association of Trust Schools (ATS), an umbrella body of privately run
schools, described the latest government action as a blow for private
education in the country.
"It is not a good move," ATS chairman Jameson Timba said yesterday.
Most private schools had already sent out circulars advising parents of new
fee structures for the third term, which starts on 4 September.
"We are considering what action to take but I think we will be forced to go
to the Supreme Court," he said.
Watershed College, a private school in Marondera to the west of the capital
Harare, had proposed charging $127 million per child for the third term, up
from $40 million the previous term.
Wellington Chibebe, secretary general of the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade
Union (ZCTU), described as "hypocrisy" the government's decision to freeze
salaries and wages.
"There is no rationale in freezing salaries when only last week prices of
commodities were reviewed upwards. What hypocrisy?" said Chibebe.
Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries (CZI) president Callisto Jokonya could
not be reached for comment but CZI members warned that the ban was
unsustainable under Zimbabwe's present circumstances.
"The price freeze policy has been a monumental failure and now this is
another populist policy with an eye on the 2008 elections. It is going to be
a disaster for business and industry," said a leading industrialist who
spoke on condition he was not named fearing retribution from the government.
Zimbabwe National Chamber of Commerce (ZNCC) president Mara Hativagone said
her organisation was looking into the issue.
"We heard it today, so we are going to look at the impact of the issue," she
said without elaborating.
Chibebe said the latest government move was a unilateral decision that
effectively negated the social contract reached between labour, business and
government early this year.
It also contravened International Labour Organisation (ILO) statutes and was
tantamount to the introduction of forced labour.
Zimbabwe, facing a crippling economic crisis highlighted by world record
inflation of over 7 600 percent and deepening unemployment, is a party to
The ZCTU had earlier threatened to stage a nationwide strike to protest what
it called the government's mismanagement of the economy. - ZimOnline
Saturday 01 September 2007
By Thulani Munda
HARARE - Equatorial Guinea President Teodore Nguema
Mbasogo on Friday showered praises on Zimbabwe's crumbling farming sector
describing the hunger-stricken country as "one of Africa's leading
Nguema, a friend of President Robert Mugabe since 2004
when the Zimbabwean leader thwarted a coup attempt against the Equatorial
Guinea strongman by arresting the plotters, did not say whether his country
would supply oil to fuel-short Zimbabwe but said the two nations would
co-operate in agriculture.
Nguema, who was officially opening Zimbabwe's agricultural
show in the capital, Harare, said: "Guinea will love to learn from Zimbabwe.
The visit has given us the opportunity to learn in order to ensure that the
experiences are transferred to the people of Guinea."
The Equatorial Guinea leader appeared unperturbed by the
widely reported hunger in Zimbabwe, praising the southern African country
for leading the way in developing the agricultural sector to the benefit of
the entire continent.
"We extend our sincere congratulations to Zimbabwe for the
development of agriculture for the benefit of Africa as a whole," he said.
"What we have experienced proves Zimbabwe is able to export technologies and
in the near future our country will begin to benefit from the experience of
Zimbabwe," added Nguema.
Zimbabwe, which is grappling with its worst ever economic
crisis, has faced severe food shortages since Mugabe's haphazard fast-track
land reform exercise that displaced established white commercial farmers and
replaced them with either incompetent or inadequately funded black farmers.
Food production plunged by about 60 percent as a result
while chaos in the agriculture sector because of farm seizures also hit hard
Zimbabwe's once impressive manufacturing sector that had depended on a
robust farming sector for orders and inputs.
Most of Zimbabwe's industries have since the beginning of
farm seizures in 2000 either closed completely or scaled down operations to
run at or below 30 percent of capacity, in a country where unemployment is
more than 80 percent.
Mugabe saved Nguema from being toppled when he ordered the
arrest of a group of international mercenaries when their plane landed in
Harare to pick up weapons they wanted to use to topple the Equatorial Guinea
leader and his government.
Nguema has however appeared reluctant to provide fuel to
Zimbabwe because Harare does not have foreign currency required to pay. -
Saturday 01 September 2007
On Tuesday, 28 August 2007, ZimOnline carried a story that said the
Solidarity Peace Trust had written to the South African Broadcasting
Corporation (SABC) complaining over the "conduct" of its correspondent in
Harare, Supa Mandiwanzira.
The Trust alleged that Mandiwanzira had deliberately misled Archbishop Pius
Ncube, who is embroiled in a court case over alleged adultery, to secure the
Below is Mandiwanzira's full response:
By Supa Mandiwanzira
HARARE - I have noted your coverage of a letter by some organisation in
Bulawayo and other stories relating to the alleged sexual scandal by the
Archbishop of Bulawayo Diocese - Pius Ncube.
In all articles, several fabricated and libelous allegations have been
levelled about my conduct in getting the story.
Let me put it on record that the allegations are malicious and only designed
at discrediting my record as a professional journalist.
I see these allegations as part of a wider campaign by reactionaries - who
see any exposure of scandals by opposition and pro-opposition individuals or
groups - to rid the international media in Zimbabwe of any balanced and
I was never involved in any sting operation against Archbishop Ncube neither
did I go to interview him in the company of Tazzen Mandizvidza and Happisson
Muchechetere of the ZBC as alleged in several of your articles.
Allegations that I gave these two SABC jackets so that Archbishop Ncube
could see them as SABC journalists are therefore ridiculous.
I have no SABC jacket and have not seen one in my term as an SABC journalist
A check at the SABC office in Auckland Park would have also revealed that
that there are no such jackets and if at all they are there, none has ever
been issued to me.
The Archbishop himself, who as a Zimbabwean would definitely know
Mandizvidza and Muchechetere, can confirm that none of those people where
ever present at the interview.
Allegations that I have "quoted" the Archbishop out of context are also
ludicrous. Nothing could be further from the truth.
Nowhere in the interview did I ever ask Archbishop Ncube on the goings on in
the USA regarding Roman Catholic bishops who were facing allegations of
abusing young children.
An unedited copy of the interview is available from my office in Harare
(email@example.com) for anyone with interest to watch my entire
25-minute interview with the Archbishop.
It is appalling that journalists who have jumped onto the bandwagon of
repeating propaganda spewed by anti-Zimbabwe government websites which have
no respect for the basic tenets of journalism (balance, objectivity and
fairness), without even checking with me for my side of the story.
I perceive this the lowest point of media polarisation in Zimbabwe. It is so
sad that anybody seen to be writing anything critical of the government is
seen as an enemy.
In equal measure, anyone writing critically of the opposition or those
opposed to President Mugabe is called names, not least that they are members
of the Central Intelligence Organisation.
I think this is a sorry state of Zimbabwean journalism and I think that your
publication must take a position to end this kind of polarisation. Simply by
tackling issues and not people, will our country move forward.
If the media and media practitioners need to play a meaningful role in
positively changing Zimbabwe, it must move from being a vehicle of hate
It must stop character assassinations of fellow professionals as is being
done to me. I have not done anything wrong except do my work.
Tough if anyone has found the story unpalatable but my facts are intact and
it is undeniable that any allegations of sexual conduct by a Roman Catholic
Archbishop would make headlines anywhere in the world.
In Zimbabwe, the story is even more interesting because it has a political
angle too. I do hope you publish these facts which form my side of the
By Ndimyake Mwakalyelye and Netsai Mlilo
31 August 2007
Experts say water shortages in Zimbabwe have reached alarming proportions.
Residents of Harare, Bulawayo and and other cities go without water for days
and say daily rituals including bathing, cooking or general cleaning are
Join the discussion of the water crisis on Studio 7 for Zimbabwe
- send an e-mail to Studio7@VOANews.com
Shortages have several causes: ageing infrastructure with pipes and pumps
installed before independence in 1980 breaking down, poor system management
and a lack of political will to tackle and solve the massive problem.
Many say the recent takeover of municipal water operations across the nation
by the Zimbabwe National Water Authority has merely exacerbated the problem.
Health experts worry that as people turn to unsafe water sources, there
could be more outbreaks of disease - diarrhea, dysentery, cholera - with
Harare Director of Health Services Prosper Chonzi said recently that
contaminated water from burst sewer pipes and water shortages were
responsible for 900 cases of diarrhea recorded in the capital's 60 clinics.
In July, 20 children in Kadoma, Midlands, reportedly died from diarrhea
after drinking contaminated water.
The water shortage and general erratic supply of water, along with almost
constant electric power cuts, has also been blamed for reduced economic
Reporter Ndimyake Mwakalyelye of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe turned to
experts Michael Davies, chairman of the Combined Harare Residents
Association, and Japhet Ndabeni-Ncube, executive director of the Bulawayo
City Council, who said that the nationwide water crisis has not at all been
exaggerated in news reports.
In Bulawayo, Zimbabwe's second-largest city, the deepening water crisis has
caused tempers to flare, resulting in residents desperately seeking ways to
cope with the scarcity of water for drinking, cooking and washing.
Correspondent Netsai Mlilo reported that city officials say the efforts of
some citizens to find alternative water sources are hindering efforts to
solve the problem.
By Patience Rusere
31 August 2007
Police in Harare, Zimbabwe, released child rights activist Betty Makoni on
Friday after arresting her Thursday on charges she revealed the identities
of girls who had been sexually abused - charges her lawyer said were cooked
up to harass her.
Makoni was scheduled to appear in court on Monday for arraignment.
Police late Thursday released television personality Rebecca Chisamba, host
of the program on which Makoni appeared with the girls. Sources said that
during the show the faces of those victims of rape had been electronically
It was the second time in 10 days that Makoni had been arrested. Last week
she and two American women making a documentary on rape in Zimbabwe were
taken into custody. The U.S. filmmakers were deported and she was held for
Meanwhile, American activist filmmaker Michealene Risley, deported to South
Africa last week with assistant Lauren Carara, gave reporter Patience Rusere
an account of her arrest with Makoni last week from her home in San Mateo,
Saturday 1st September 2007
Dear Friends. Nelson Mandela was in London this week for the unveiling
of his statue in Parliament Square. Almost without exception the papers here
hailed Madiba for his courageous stand against the forces of repression and
racism. Among all the praise heaped on the great man, the comment that most
impressed me came from Paul Vallely writing in The Independent. 'Mandela is
one of those individuals who, when he enters a room, seems to have about him
a golden aura. something which emanates from deep inside. It seems to make
those in the room feel somehow blessed by his presence.' And later Vallely
adds ' Mandela's moral authority grows from the extraordinary magnanimity he
displayed to the white community on his acquisition of power in South Africa
in 1994. His gentleness and wisdom were key in preventing that
conflict-ridden nation from descending into a post-Apartheid bloodbath of
revenge and recrimination.'
Comparisons may be odious but it hard not to compare that picture of
Mandela with the outpourings of racist hatred coming from Zimbabwe's
president in recent years. 'Gentleness and wisdom' are not qualities we have
come to associate with Robert Mugabe. And we know that Mugabe gives the lead
while his parasitical followers faithfully echo his views. Now, with the
Indigenization of Companies Bill laid before parliament this last week in
Harare we see yet another attempt to enshrine Mugabe's racist agenda into
law. The Bill defines 'indigenous' as 'any person who was disadvantaged by
unfair discrimination on the grounds of race before independence in 1980'.
No doubt economists and lawyers will expand at great length on the
economic and legal implications of this Bill but it is pretty clear, even
for a lay person, to see that this is yet another way for the Zanu PF
government to get their hands on the country's resources. The truth is that
Mugabe is running out of the means of patronage by which he buys the loyalty
of his supporters. This Bill is perhaps the last weapon in Mugabe's armoury
designed to maintain his grip on power while enriching the few at the
expense of the majority. It is for the political analysts to uncover the
possible motives for this piece of legislation and its consequences for the
country as a whole, what concerns me is the definition of 'Indigenous' that
accompanies the Bill and the racist implications.
The subject of race and identity has always dominated politics and
society in Southern Africa but in Zimbabwe before and since Independence it
has never been openly discussed. It's rather like the elephant in the room;
a huge presence but never actually talked about or acknowledged. At
Independence, most white people born in the country assumed that they were
Zimbabweans; certainly those that stayed in the country after Independence
owed their love and loyalty to the country and Mugabe's reconciliatory tone
for the first few years reassured them that their contributions as farmers
or business people were valued. What this new definition does is to explain
what is meant by the term 'indigenous' but without using the label
Zimbabwean. Is that an admission that it is possible for non-indigenous
people to be considered Zimbabwean by the Mugabe government - or is it
simply another move designed to deprive white people of any sense of
belonging to the country of their birth? Accurate population figures are
hard to come by in Zimbabwe but a recent statistic suggests that there are
about twenty two thousand whites left in the country. I suspect that what
Mugabe wants is for all whites to leave but he hasn't quite got the courage
to issue a blanket Idi Amin-style expulsion which would bring further
opprobrium down on his head from the international community. Instead he
uses the bullying, intimidatory tactics that we saw during the farm
invasions. The illegal march through the city of Harare this week by five
thousand so-called war veterans - unchallenged and even supported by the
police - simply shows yet again that brute force is Zanu PF's only answer to
every problem. The fact is that many of these alleged war veterans were not
old enough to fit the definition of 'Indigenous' as stated in the Bill and
are thus not eligible to benefit from company seizures in the way they did
from the often violent farm invasions. To have 'been disadvantaged by unfair
discrimination on the grounds of race before independence in 1980' cannot in
common logic apply to anyone born after 1980 in terms of this nonsensical
definition. Implicit in this definition is the notion that anyone
discriminated against on grounds of race after Independence, ie. whites and
people of mixed race (or any other ethnic group the Zanu PF government wants
to exclude from economic enrichment) cannot be allowed to benefit from this
latest ploy by the government to carve up the country's resources to their
According to Robert Mugabe and his cronies, racism is a crime only
when it is committed by whites against blacks. In Zanu PF thinking all
whites are racists if they disagree with the present government's policies.
The accusation of racism is flung at any country which dares to criticise
the regime or imposes limited sanctions against Mugabe' top-ranking
supporters or questions the regime's governance or human rights record. By
definition they are all racists. Only this week Australia came under fire
because they have stated that they will expel the children of top officials
studying in the country. ' What do we stand to benefit by maintaining
diplomatic relations with such a racist country that imposes barbaric
sanctions on innocent children and sports people' screamed the state-run
Now I see in a Daily Telegraph report today that the Chinese are said
to have withdrawn their support for Robert Mugabe. No doubt they too will be
accused of racism. To sum it all up, anyone, black or white, who does not
agree with Robert Mugabe is a racist. That's the long and short of it!
Ndini shamwari yenyu. PH
Saturday 1st September 2007
Dear Family and Friends,
When you arrive at a shopping centre these days you are immediately
bombarded by Zimbabwe's new mobile shop keepers. They come in all ages and
sizes: men, women and teenagers. There are some of the usual, expected
gaggle of street kids, vegetable vendors and beggars but this new breed are
people doing serious business for serious amounts of money. Most of them
have mobile phones with ear pieces, are wearing dark or mirrored sunglasses
and can calculate huge sums of money before you've even worked out how many
zeroes there should be on the total.
There is little point going into the supermarkets because two months into
the government's control of prices, there is almost nothing left to control.
Staple foods have disappeared completely, tinned and dry goods, dairy
produce, perishables, toiletries, soft drinks - all are gone. The most
common sight in supermarkets now is empty shelves, freezers and fridges,
massive queues for bread and employees wandering around chatting amongst
themselves with nothing to do. This week, for some obscure reason, red jelly
powder is plentiful in my local shops, but very little else. And so shopping
in Zimbabwe has taken to the pavements and alleyways. The black marketeers
don't display their goods, they just rattle off the lists of what they've
got: sugar, flour, rice, cooking oil, margarine, eggs, cigarettes, soap,
washing powder. When you say what you want (or rather what you can afford)
they disappear into alleyways, flats and nearby offices and emerge with the
groceries concealed in dirty plastic or old newspaper. One quick peep under
the filthy wrapping, money handed over and you're done, stone broke but with
one item in hand.
The prices on the black market are astronomical, usually at least ten times
more than the stipulated figures and if Zimbabweans were poor before the
governments' price controls started, they are much, much worse off now. Most
people are simply going without the usual requirements of a balanced diet
and are barely existing on what little they can find and afford. The black
market dealers are, so far, getting on with their business completely
unhindered by law enforcers - despite the regular and visible presence of
numerous Police on our streets.
The black market dealers are the new warlords in our neighbourhoods - they
are in control - of goods, availability and prices. They are fast becoming
the nouveau riche of Zimbabwe and in just a few weeks have amassed vast
fortunes. They have no overheads. They don't pay rates and levies, don't pay
taxes or VAT, don't have employees and so don't pay wages or make
contributions to medical and social welfare schemes. The black market
dealers also pay nothing towards the maintenance of the roads, pavements and
alleyways where they conduct their business and so the deterioration of
The leaders in our government, who clearly do not shop at the same
supermarkets as the rest of us, continue to be unwilling or unable to see
this diabolical state of affairs. This week came the announcement that using
the Presidential Powers Act, the price controls have been extended for
another six months: no increases in the prices of goods, services, salaries,
charges, wages or school fees. The black market dealers, and their behind
the scenes backers are laughing all the way to the bank.
Until next week, thanks for reading, love cathy.
September 01 2007 at 11:50AM
The widespread slaughter of wildlife, domestic pets being eaten and
donkey meat passed off as beef - these are some of the effects of the
chronic food shortages in Zimbabwe.
In its latest report, Glynis Vaughan, the chief inspector of the
ZNSPCA, paints a grim picture of the fate of the country's wild and domestic
animals, terming the past few months a "test of endurance" for its small
team, also affected by basic food shortages.
"With the population getting hungrier and no food on the shelves to
alleviate the situation, the inevitable result has been the first incident
of a companion animal being eaten," she said.
The ZNSPCA had initiated an awareness campaign to educate the public
on the "ethical and moral issues" regarding the killing and "consumption of
our trusted companion animals. But in the face of starvation and the
burgeoning number of stray and abandoned animals, the moral issues become
far more complex and we should not be too hasty in our condemnations when
people and animals are suffering equally," Vaughan said.
Draught animals, she said, had also joined the list of meat sources
for humans, with the theft and slaughter of donkeys, which some unscrupulous
individuals are selling as "beef" to desperate consumers.
"And once again the natural wildlife is now being hunted and poached
all the more, to satisfy the hunger of our people."
The ZNSPCA, she said, had directed its member societies to suspend all
rehoming activities for pets due to the unstable situation in the country.
"Our national rehoming policy is very strict to ensure the provision
of lifelong care for any animal adopted. We cannot perform this task at
present as the current shortages of food, water and the unstable climate
will result in animals being starved or abandoned."
Vaughan said all surrendered animals and "animals past their pound
time" would have to be euthanised.
"All animals in the country share the peril faced by domestic pets.
The ZNSPCA is concerned for the future of livestock animals and wildlife in
captivity. The vast shortages of stockfeed for livestock have serious
repercussions," she said.
A lack of rain last season had compounded the problem as there was
limited grazing for livestock.
"With the scarcity of fresh meat, the ZNSPCA is uncertain as to how
the daily requirements of the carnivores [in captivity] are going to be met.
Our concerns are that owners are going to look towards hunting the already
depleting natural wildlife to feed the animals in their care, and elephants
are not being excluded from the list of animals being targeted as a food
source," she said.
In an article on the slaughter of wildlife in Zimbabwe, the UK's Daily
Mail this week reported how 60 percent of the country's animals - including
those in game reserves, nature conservancies and national parks - had been
killed since President Robert Mugabe launched his controversial land reform
programme in 2000.
The newspaper quoted Johnny Rodrigues, chairperson of the Zimbabwe
Conservation Task Force, as saying: "Many animals are being poached because
there's no meat on the market. Rare species like the leopard, rhino, blue
duiker, cheetah and African wild dog are being killed in numbers that could
push some to the brink of extinction."
This article was originally published on page 5 of The Star on
September 01, 2007
From VOA News, 31 August
By Blessing Zulu
Washington - Zimbabwean opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai met with
Australian Prime Minister John Morgan in Melbourne on Friday amid warnings
from top officials in Harare that his contacts with the Australian
government jeopardized ongoing crisis talks. Mr. Howard told journalists
before the closed-door meeting that he admires Tsvangirai for his
persistence and bravery in standing up to President Robert Mugabe, whom he
described as an "undemocratic bully." Voicing concern about deteriorating
conditions in Zimbabwe, Mr. Howard said he looks forward to a democratic
power shift. Mr. Tsvangirai told reporters that his five-day visit had been
a productive round of encounters with officials, political analysts and
members of civil society. He delivered a lecture Thursday at the human
rights center of the University of New South Wales. In Harare, government
officials and state media denounced Tsvangirai's contacts with Australian
officials, saying they threatened to put a stop to crisis resolution talks
that South African President Thabo Mbeki has been mediating for the past
five months. Presidential spokesman George Charamba told the
government-controlled Herald newspaper that Mr Tsvangirai had decided to
"sacrifice ongoing negotiations under the aegis of President Mbeki by
patronizing white Australia" as the ruling party had demanded an end to what
it characterized to foreign interference in the crisis. Tsvangirai told
reporter Blessing Zulu of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe Thursday that in fact
it was President Mugabe who was negotiating in bad faith and that Mr. Mugabe
and his ruling Zanu PF party sought an excuse to break off the mediated
Bulawayo, 31st August 2007
An elderly man stopped me as I parked near a supermarket this morning. "Have
you got a plan?" he asked. "Of course" I said. Behind me a queue stretched
around the corner as people waited in line for bread. Inside the shop we
bought 20 kilos of coarse salt and the last bag of dog meal plus four
bananas. There was little else to buy.
In a sense our plan has not changed since 2000. We are planning to effect a
change of government by peaceful, legal and democratic means in one of the
periodic elections that are held for this very purpose. We are bloodied,
beaten, vilified and subjected to every sort of tactic you can imagine, but
we are not defeated, not by a long way and the regime here knows this.
Will it work? Well maybe, this time.
It seems to me quite clear now that the SADC process, facilitated by the
government of South Africa, is about to yield some sort of an agreement.
There is still too much confusion about the talks and the leaks that we are
being fed to know what this agreement will contain but I can state, with
certainty, that it will be a giant step towards the goal of our first free
and fair elections since Independence in 1980.
I can state that because I know the people negotiating on our side and they
will not be brow beaten or intimidated into accepting anything less. I am
certain also because unless it meets the criteria laid down in SADC's own
standards for elections and the benchmarks prescribed by the international
Community, there would be little merit in the whole exercise anyway.
The devil lies in the detail and we just have to wait for that before we can
comment. There is also the other issue of implementation and holding this
rogue regime to the agreement - none of which is going to be easy. In the
meantime I can assure everyone that both Zanu PF and the MDC and its allies
now think that we are in for a real fight, not a one sided contest where the
opponent of the Zanu PF has his hands tied behind his back, is denied food
and water for a week before the fight and is then expected to stand up and
slug it out for 12 rounds with a thug armed with a baseball bat.
Today we took delivery of some new vehicles - I think they are the first new
vehicles that we have had for at least 5 years. It was good to see the MDC
logo on the side of each and to greet the drivers back from training and
raring to go. Just plain, 4x2 pickups but they are tough and reliable and
will help us immensely as we set about this campaign. Now we have to find
fuel! That is another mission.
We will only commit ourselves to the election after we have seen and had the
opportunity to debate the agreement. This process is anxiously awaited and
in the meantime the situation in the country just goes from bad to worse.
The cocktail of measures taken by the regime in recent weeks has been a
potent mix designed to decimate what is left of our formal economy,
liquidate established firms and drive a significant portion of the
population out of the urban areas into the rural districts and across the
borders into South Africa. They are well on their way to achieving this goal
and it occurred to me last night that for this reason alone, one of the most
critical aspects of any agreement must be the right of those driven out of
their homeland, to vote where they are.
We have at least 4 million or more adult Zimbabweans living outside the
country. Their numbers swell by the day as this economic and political
crisis deepens. The objective for Zanu PF is to reduce the voting capacity
of those who are independent of the State and free spirits politically
inside the country to a level where they can be overwhelmed by the vote that
they can control and direct. This was clearly enunciated by Mutasa in his
statement about reducing the population to no more than 6 million people who
can be relied upon to vote Zanu. They are well on their way to achieving
this extraordinary objective.
How the vote of the Diaspora is captured if they are allowed to vote is
another key issue and as I mused over this in bed this morning at about 5
am, I thought that there is only one way to do that without administrative
chaos and leaving it open to manipulation and fraud and that is to treat the
centers with major Zimbabwean populations as extensions of the election
process with their own polling stations set up and supervised by an
Independent Electoral Commission and voting on the same day as the election
here at home. The exercise would be massive and would require significant
assistance from resident governments. The resulting ballot boxes would be
flown home for counting.
Potentially there are more voters outside Zimbabwe than within - even today,
let alone after the full impact of the present collapse in the economy works
it's way through our society. By forcing such a mechanism down Zanu's throat
we would be negating the essence of the present strategy they are following.
But this aspect is only one of many that we are going to have to take into
account. The one thing that is sure, there is no way that a free and fair
election can take place against the backdrop of these disastrous economic
policies. We simply will not get to an election if the situation does not
improve shortly and unless Zanu PF is forced to stop this mad dash to
I had lunch with some foreign friends this past week and I said to them that
there were three key issues to be addressed in the period after the
agreement is reached in South Africa - implementation of the agreement with
significant international support for the whole electoral process; the
normalization of the situation in the economy; and the restoration of the
faith of the security forces that there is life after Zanu PF and that in
fact it might be quite good!
Comment from The Sowetan (SA), 31 August
Dave Brubeck, the celebrated jazz pianist, recorded Take Five in 1957, with
the composer of the piece, the late Paul Desmond on saxophone. The first
album of the quartet I ever owned was Dave Digs Disney. It does not include
Take Five, a unique piece of jazz improvisation which brought immediate fame
to the quartet. My album was a gift from Frank Crump, an aficionado of jazz
who worked for the US embassy in Lusaka in 1971. In 1972, on a visit to the
US, I asked about Crump at the state department in Washington, DC, hoping to
renew our friendship and chew the fat on jazz and related subjects.
Incredibly, nobody in that labyrinthine building could remember the name. He
had returned to the US by then, but nobody remembered him. I smelt a rat -
in fact, an insidious conspiracy, because this was during the height of the
greed for power engendered by the multiheaded monster called the Cold War.
Conspiracy theories tended to sprout like weeds in my mind then. For the
Africans, Asians, Latin and South Americans and East Europeans and other
poor nations, politically-challenged races, even minions like myself, were
targets - or so I firmly believed. Had Crump defected to the East? Was he in
the Kremlin, heading the real SMERSH, the shadowy, murderous outfit created
by Ian Fleming for James Bond to fight in the name of Her Majesty's
government? Then we were interviewed by the Voice of America. The 1972
presidential election, to which we had been invited, was overshadowed by the
Watergate scandal, in which Richard Nixon had star billing, not only as the
front-runner, but as the chief villain. We, four Africans and one
Bangladeshi, talked at length about Watergate and what it meant to the
election. Back in Zambia, I was invited to watch the filmed interview at the
USIS, everything we had said about Watergate had been excised. The
conspiracy weeds took on the size of baobab trees.
In 1976, while posted to Ndola, I moved house, and Dave Digs Disney was
stolen, along with my turntable. The conspiracy theories now gave me the
mother of all headaches. Years later, after friends in London, including the
writer Doris Lessing, had helped me replace Dave Digs Disney, I bought other
Brubeck albums, including Summit Sessions, which features the quartet
playing at the John Fitzgerald Kennedy White House. So Dave Brubeck was an
admirer of that liberal, charismatic leader. Didn't that suggest that my
benefactor, Frank Crump, was also one? Nixon had lost to Kennedy in 1960.
When Nixon resigned over Watergate in 1974, my relief was massive. Today, I
no longer believe any of that conspiracy tosh. Or that someone stole Dave
Digs Disney because they identified me as a fellow traveller of Crump.
Lately, I tend to laugh at my conspiracy obsession, much as I now laugh at
the way some African leaders were used as pawns during the Cold War. Many of
them still believe in the Cold War, trying to play the two blocs - East and
West - against one another. Presidents Robert Mugabe and Thabo Mbeki,
particularly, seem stuck in a time warp. For them the Cold War is alive and
kicking. They should both be warned: enjoy the music while you can - Dave
Brubeck's and Hugh Masekela's - and forget the carcass of the Cold War.
Bill Saidi is deputy editor of The Standard in Zimbabwe
LUSAKA (AFP) - Zambia's former foreign minister who was sacked last week by
President Levy Mwanawasa ostensibly on health grounds on Saturday challenged
the official reason for his dismissal, saying he was very fit.
"I am what you call fitness itself. I am fitness personified," Mundia
Sikatana told journalists, even flexing his muscles to prove his point.
Government sources said that Mwanawasa really took issue with his foreign
minister over a political crisis in Zimbabwe because Sitakana insisted that
Zambia should take a hard-line stance against Harare.
The Zimbabwean government was unhappy with Sitakana for publicly criticising
Zimbabwe leader Robert Mugabe's policies and condemning human rights abuses
in that country.
"Let your attention be on Zimbabwe. Zimbabweans are flocking looking for
food in the region," Sikatana said, addressing Mwanawasa.
Sikatana, originally a close family friend of Mwanawasa, said he had turned
down an offer to become a member of parliament, saying that was not an
effective use of his time.
With inflation unofficially at 15,000% (the official rate of 7,600% is bad
enough), Robert Mugabe continues to plunder what's left of the Zimbabwean
economy while visiting untold misery on those who are too poor to have
Mugabe's latest gambit is to freeze wages for the next 6 months - wages that
were already lagging far behind the hyper inflated cost of living.
The freeze follows a decree issued in late June that forced merchants and
wholesalers to reduce all prices by at least 50 percent.
Shoppers stripped store shelves of clothes, meat and other basic goods
after that decree, and producers have largely failed to ship new stock
because goods now sell for less than it costs to make them.
Most commodities are now available only on the black market, where prices
have continued to skyrocket. Moreover, as the last remaining stocks of goods
trickle out of factory warehouses and onto the market, Zimbabwe could soon
see the start of an inflationary spiral that would make today's prices seem
cheap, John Robertson, a Harare economist, said in an interview.
"It could go much higher - 10 times as much for some things in the next
couple of weeks, as goods cease to exist," he said.
Swell. Note the economist said as goods "cease to exist" not grow scarce. So
even with less money, there's not going to be anything to buy anyway.
Economic activity is as close as a modern country can get to a standstill.
What workers that are left are being laid off which means less payroll tax
revenue pouring into government coffers - 13 trillion Zimbabwean dollars
less which works out to $55 million in real money. This is a considerable
sum for a government that can't pay its teachers, or civil servants, or more
ominously, the army.
Zimbabwe would be an interesting laboratory to study economic collapses
except for one thing; the fear, panic, and real pain being endured by
ordinary people is unlike any seen in modern history. For the sake of the
Zimbabwean people, let us hope that there is an intervention by either a
foreign power like Great Britain (Zimbabwe is a former colony) or perhaps
the army whose patience must be wearing thin given the fact that their
salaries are not buying much of anything.