|The ZIMBABWE Situation||Our
thoughts and prayers are with Zimbabwe |
- may peace, truth and justice prevail.
A summary of the nomination process.
A summary of the results.
DISGRUNTLED settlers ordered by the government to vacate a farm to
pave way for President Robert Mugabe’s kin on Friday severely assaulted the
relative, Marjorie Winnie Mugabe, and her two sons, Jongwe and Hugh, the
Daily News learnt yesterday.
Winnie is the widow of Mugabe’s late nephew,
Innocent, who died two
It could not be
immediately established why the settlers at Little
England Farm near Zvimba, Mugabe’s rural home, in Mashonaland West province
attacked Winnie and her sons.
But Winnie has clashed with the about 1 000 families at
the farm after
the government gave the families up to last Sunday to leave the prime farm
to pave way for her and 68 other selected new
Winnie has already moved onto the farm, where she is
former farmer Graham Smith’s house.
settlers, who illegally occupied the farm encouraged by ruling
ZANU PF officials at the height of the often-violent farm invasions in 2000,
have vowed to remain on the farm despite what they allege are attempts by
government security agents to intimidate them off the property.
Winnie could not be reached last night for comment on
the latest clash
with the farm settlers.
Wayne Bvudzijena yesterday said that he was unaware
of the attack on the President’s relatives. He said he would check with
Nyabira police station – in charge of the area – but had not given feedback
at the time of going to press.
ZANU PF Mashonaland West chairman Phillip Chiyangwa,
confirmed Winnie had been attacked by “these lawless people”.
Chiyangwa said: “They assaulted Marjorie and her two
sons. They are
savages. Why are they campaigning through newspapers to demonise others?
“I have declared them illegal and they will
sink if they think they
will be legitimate somehow.”
The settlers, who are still occupying Little England despite expiry of
the deadline to leave the farm, accuse senior ZANU PF and government
officials of corruption and of wanting to push them off the farm so as to
take it up themselves.
They say they will resist any attempt to evict them
in order to expose
corruption in the government’s controversial fast-track land reform
But the government says the families
must leave the farm because they
were improperly settled there in the first place.
State land officials say the farm has been allocated by
land committee to Winnie and 68 other people.
Meanwhile, war veterans settled at Chabwino Farm in Goromonzi on
Sunday ordered nearly 7 000 former workers of evicted white farmer Peter
Howson to vacate their houses to pave way for the former freedom fighters.
The farm workers yesterday said they have been
without clean drinking
water at the farm for the last three weeks after the former fighters
allegedly vandalised the farm borehole in a bid to push the workers out of
Christine Mudoni Majone, a
representative of the workers at Chabwino
Farm, yesterday said the war veterans had constantly threatened them with
expulsion for allegedly refusing to work for them.
The former farm workers have vowed to remain on the farm.
By Precious Shumba
People losing faith in elections – Tsvangirai
OPPOSITION Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party leader Morgan
Tsvangirai yesterday vowed to "fight to the bitter end" but acknowledged
Zimbabweans were losing faith in elections, the only means through which his
MDC party could unseat President Robert Mugabe from power.
In an address to the nation following last weekend’s
polls, won by the MDC, Tsvangirai acknowledged that there was
disillusionment among Zimbabweans, most of whom doubted the chances of
achieving political change through elections.
said: "Events of the past weekend in which a significantly
reduced number of people turned out to vote show that the majority seem to
have begun to lose faith in elections.
"They realise that as long as the national
quest for an all-inclusive
democratic culture and for comprehensive political change remains an
unfinished agenda, the benefits from participating in these elections can
always be spoiled by our opponents."
council elections held in various towns and cities and the
Makonde and Harare Central by-elections held over the weekend were marred by
a general voter apathy.
The MDC could not field candidates in Marondera,
Bindura and Chegutu
after ruling party supporters sealed off the nomination courts in the three
The MDC has constantly accused
ZANU PF of plotting with the
Registrar-General, Tobaiwa Mudede, to rig elections in favour of the ruling
party. Mudede denies the charges.
ZANU PF spokesman Nathan Shamuyarira, while
acknowledging that a
culture of voter apathy was gripping Zimbabwe, denied that his party thrived
on voter apathy.
He said: "We are
working hard to convince the people to come out and
vote. For example, we could have scored bigger margins in the urban
elections but most of our sympathisers did not vote. Being a people-driven
party, we don’t at all encourage apathy, by whatever means."
Tsvangirai called on his
supporters to galvanise for what he said was
going to be a "long struggle".
He said, "We have since realised over the years that
elections alone, do not always guarantee freedom and change.
"However, may I urge you to raise your heads high and
Apathy, in spite of all the odds and the nasty experiences we have gone
through, is not an option. We are moving fast towards the establishment of a
democratic dispensation in which justice, freedom, solidarity and
development become a lifelong goal."
opposition leader also vowed to continue with a court application
challenging President Robert Mugabe’s controversial re-election last year.
"We are not prepared to recognise the electoral fraud that took place
in March 2002. We are not withdrawing the legal challenge. We will fight to
the bitter end until we realise our goals," he said.
ZFTU barred from collecting membership fees
CHIREDZI – A magistrates’ court here barred the ruling ZANU
PF-aligned Zimbabwe Federation of Trade Unions (ZFTU) from collecting
membership fees from about 80 sugar industry workers because the workers
were not benefiting from their membership of the union.
Magistrate Judith Zuyu granted the order last Thursday
workers had applied to the court seeking to be allowed to renounce their
membership of the union and that the court interdicts the ZFTU from
collecting money from them through their employer, Triangle LImited.
Both Triangle Limited and ZFTU were cited as the
respondents in the
Triangle Limited was
not represented during the hearing while ZFTU was
represented by its self-proclaimed provincial president, Admore Hwarari.
Hwarari is also the Zanu PF provincial political commissar.
Chigayo of Chuma Gurajena and Partners, who represented the
workers, argued that there was no basis for contributing money since no
benefits from the union were realised by the workers.
"According to the labour
regulations, the workers, therefore, want to
resign from the union and stop paying contributions," he said.
Chigayo yesterday told the
Daily News that the workers have since
stopped paying contribution to ZFTU.
He said his clients were now seeking to recover the money
contributed. He did not say how much in total his clients wanted back from
But sources within the organisation said
several millions of dollars
contributed by workers, most of them in the sugar industry, was allegedly
misappropriated by union leaders. It also emerged that the union had no bank
account and most of the workers’ contributions were banked in the individual
accounts of ZFTU officials.
Hwarari could not be reached yesterday for comment on the matter.
Poll results should prod ZANU PF into talks – analyst
THE opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) consolidated its
hold in urban areas defeating the ruling ZANU PF party in council elections
held last weekend, in a development analysts said reaffirmed the opposition
party as major player in resolving Zimbabwe’s fast deepening crisis.
Analysts said Zimbabweans’ show of faith in
the MDC, which now
controls 11 of the biggest cities and towns in the country, should nudge
President Robert Mugabe and his ruling ZANU PF party into talks to find a
political settlement to the country’s crisis.
The MDC, which was already in charge of five cities,
won six out of
seven mayoral seats that were contested last weekend.
The opposition party also grabbed 137 council wards
against Zanu PF’s
87 wards in the various cities and towns throughout the country.
University of Zimbabwe (UZ) political analyst Eldred
the Daily News that apart from reaffirming the MDC as a crucial piece on the
political chessboard, the results should prod Zanu PF back to the
ZANU PF has appeared
unwilling to resume dialogue with the MDC under a
new initiative led by Zimbabwe’s church leaders, which is aimed at reviving
talks between the country’s two biggest political parties.
The MDC has already
submitted its position paper on dialogue but ZANU
PF appears to be virtually walking away from the negotiating table.
Masunungure said: "The
election results are important in that they
show that the MDC are not a passing cloud and cannot be wished away.
"Zanu PF should
realise that talking is mandatory and one hopes that
the doves, as opposed to the hawks, in Zanu PF will reaffirm their position
that there is no way forward except dialogue."
Masunungure, who is head of the UZ’s
political and administrative
studies department, added that the weekend polls had buoyed the stature of
the MDC in the region and internationally as a permanent and irrevocable
feature on Zimbabwe’s political landscape.
"The balance of power has been reaffirmed and there
should be sobering
up on both sides who should now be humbled into talking to resolve the
country’s deepening political crisis," he said.
But respected former liberation war fighter Dzinashe Machingura said
the violence and fraud marred urban councils election was yet another
illustration that there could be no democratic change in Zimbabwe until the
country’s electoral system was overhauled.
Machingura said: "The mere fact that there were no elections held in
other towns and cities because opposition candidates were barred from
accessing the nomination court and the reported violence in other areas
demonstrate the serious need for the electoral system to be overhauled.
must have an independent electoral commission and adopt
internationally accepted standards for holding elections,"
But will Zanu PF now
take the MDC seriously following its unquestioned
dominance in urban areas?
Machingura, who heads the Zimbabwe Liberators Platform,
together former guerrillas opposed to the indiscipline and violence
associated with pro-government war veterans’ groups, said the poll results
would instead toughen ZANU PF’s opposition to talks.
He said: "Zanu PF has always taken the opposition seriously and that
is why they are not going to level the electoral playing ground. I do not
even see them agreeing to talks simply because of these elections because
that would mean they are acquiescing to the demands of the a reality driven
by the MDC."
Fewer Zimbabweans turned out to vote in the August 30 and
council elections, which analysts had said could work to ZANU PF’s advantage
because of its smaller but more loyal support in urban centres.
Masunungure said: "The apathy is an expression of the
politics of the
dominance of the belly over the politics of the ballot. Given a choice
between queueing for essential commodities and queueing to vote, most
Zimbabweans would queue for the former."
lawyer and activist Lovemore Madhuku said ZANU PF and its
allies were likely to use the urban council polls to call for the lifting of
sanctions against the Zimbabwe government at the next Commonwealth Heads of
Government Meeting (CHOGM) scheduled for Nigeria in December.
He said: " Zanu PF and its allies will call for the lifting of
sanctions on the grounds that if they are such masters of deceit, why would
they allow themselves to get defeated in most urban councils?" But Madhuku
said the ruling part would still not be in a hurry to return to the
negotiating table despite its lose to the MDC. "Zanu PF will continue to run
away from the talks. They are not simply refusing to talk because they do
not take the MDC seriously, they are running away because they want to tire
the MDC and disillusion its supporters who will be expected to blame their
party for failing to deliver change," Madhuku said. By Luke Tamborinyoka
Chief News Editor
The exclusive African first ladies’ club
WHEN people talk about the lavish lifestyles led by first ladies,
the immediate name that comes to mind is that of kitschy Imelda Marcos.
Amidst the impoverished existence of the Philippinos,
millions of US dollars and her soul remained untouched by her opulence
amidst the abject poverty of the average man, woman and child.
The desperation to keep the vault of those riches –
which bought the
unnecessarily very many pairs of shoes – firmly closed saw the assassination
of popular opposition leader Begnino Aquino, husband to Corazon, in 1983 by
Ferdinand Marcos’ security forces. Three years later, a popular and
bloodless uprising brought his widow, Corazon Aquino, to power and democracy
What is it about first ladies
that they will stand by and enjoy the
good life and the best of everything at the expense of the oppressed masses?
Is it all embodied in the matrimonial vows and that lifetime commitment and
allegiance to one’s spouse?
It cannot be denied that the presidents act more in
cahoots with their
wives than anybody else as the wives have no wish to censure their loving
husbands and, in the process, forfeit the lifestyles of the rich but not so
African first ladies have
unfortunately been caught up in that
political realm that puts fortune at the fore and the people’s concerns last
on the list, that is if all at they make it to that "things to do" list. And
as a natural consequence, it is the lives they lead that often get them into
the newspaper pages and for the wrong reasons, making them extremely
But because human
beings have always exhibited that spirit that
ill-consoles them that the next man’s misfortune won’t find its way to one’s
lap, the aftermaths of some once-upon-a-time African goddesses have not yet
pricked their consciences. If that reflection occurred, I would imagine the
African first lady saying to her power-drunk hubby, "Okay, Mr President
(unlike other lesser mortals, she does not mean it in the strict sense; she
merely uses it as a pet name!), let’s get out of here before the masses call
for our blood. At least if we move now, the next first couple won’t seize
our ill-gotten wealth."
"Nonsense, woman," he bellows angrily, "I am not
moving from this
spot. The day I will move is when you, sweetheart, take me to the Heroes’
Acre. End of discussion." Instead of asking, "whose hero?" she gives him a
huge bear hug. In her mind, the African first lady does not want to be a
statistic of first wives dumped by first husbands, for whatever reason.
Idi Amin, that devil incarnate, did not make any effort
to hide his
unparalleled presidential libido as he "married" and divorced innumerable
women. Too bad for the Ugandans who had had a lecher for a leader!
A few years ago, one of the women who enjoyed the
tyranny of the
boxer-turned-president was traced to the seedy avenues of downtown London
living from hand to mouth.
If any lessons
are to be learnt about how good times indeed come to an
end (a miserable one at that) the former Mrs Amin offered one invaluable
didactic tale to other first ladies who had the unenviable privilege of
being married to men on a self-aggrandisement mission.
That shift from master to servant
has been known to drive some who are
emotionally frail to the loony bin, and it is by the grace of God that the
former Mrs Amin eluded that fate. Many more before and after her make sure
that the day does not come when they have to ask for salt from their
neighbour, thus the clinging to power despite their massive unpopularity.
Obviously the fate that befell the
former Mrs Amin is imagined to be a
case in a million, but what then happens when the husband loses power
through a popular and bloodless revolt in the fashion that befell the
Marcoses in the Philippines?
did not possess the trait to enable them to empathise with the
poor before they met the despot, the women have sadly been afflicted with
the megalomania syndrome and will stand by and assist the
husband-cum-president in plundering and destroying the country. But why the
focus on first ladies?
Well, this is primarily because women have been
sensitive to the sufferings of other women’s offspring, that is if we elect
to ignore the female commanders of farm invasions who have chased fellow
mothers and their babies strapped to their backs as they demand the land the
poor peasants have occupied for generations.
So, from that assumed empathy would then emerge as a logical
consequence pleas to the husband and president to listen to the people’s
travails. Do not underestimate the clout of the first ladies. The president
may be the leader of the nation, but she is in charge!
Immediately in that same
vein comes to mind Eleanor Roosevelt,
described as "wife and adviser of Franklin D Roosevelt". And we thought the
advisory role belonged to the politburo, at least for our purposes here! Or
Nancy, wife to Ronald Reagan, who famously said: "For eight years I was
sleeping with the president, and if that doesn’t give you special access, I
don’t know what does."
As if to confirm that unparalleled influence over Mr
White House Chief of Staff, Donald Thomas Regan said on submitting his
resignation from that position in 1987: "I thought I was Chief of Staff to
the President, not his wife." Amid such influence, one has to imagine then
the clout of the African first lady over the president. She becomes the
equivalent of the Immaculate Virgin Mary whose intercession is valued in
Catholic tradition, whereby the people appeal to her to put in a good word
for them to God, or with the president, in this case.
Being a mother, a first lady would ideally be expected to
whole presidency a humane feel, but it is a great tragedy that Africa has
sorely lacked in that regard when names like Samuel Doe, Charles Taylor,
Siad Barre, and many others from that same bloc are recalled.
There just is never much to show African first
families as people who
identify with the suffering of the general population. While there would be
broad governmental consultancy on various issues, Nancy Reagan shows us that
real power ultimately lies with the first lady! Africa needs strong-willed
women at the side of these despots for it looks like with the "special
access" they enjoy, they are the only people who could really knock sense
into the skulls of these men.
Or better yet, it is time Africa had a woman president, and then we
would have something like a "first husband" – or whatever he would be
called – in the mould of the late Dennis Thatcher, husband to Margaret. By
Marko Phiri Marko Phiri is a social and political commentator.
Gauging the nation’s mood
THE results of the weekend urban council elections have once again
confirmed the importance to national politics of Zimbabwe’s main opposition
party, the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC).
Apart from emphasising that the MDC
enjoys significant support from
Zimbabweans across racial, tribal and regional lines, the outcome of the
polls aptly demonstrated that the people of this country want change in the
way they are being governed.
The outcome of these elections should help the ruling
ZANU PF gauge
the mood of the nation.
Despite massive voter
apathy – the result of a severe economic crisis
blamed on the government’s mismanagement – the four-year old MDC still
managed to make a clean sweep of most of the urban council seats up for
grabs around the country.
This also despite indications of vote-buying,
political violence and
electoral irregularities blamed on ZANU PF.
The MDC’s overwhelming victory, although largely expected,
can only be
viewed as a vote of no confidence in the ruling party by the people who are
most affected by Zimbabwe’s worst economic crisis since independence in
It is also significant that the people
of Kariba voted in Zimbabwe’s
first white executive mayor, despite racist vitriol from ZANU PF, which has
sought to foster racial hatred in the past four years as part of its
power-protecting bag of tricks.
Now that the election hype is over and as Zimbabwe moves forward, we
hope Zimbabwe’s leaders will read the signs that are there for all to see.
It is no longer enough for them to pretend that they still
hearts and minds of the nation when the people have so clearly demonstrated
their disenchantment with the way that they are being governed.
It must be clear by now, even to the government, that
blaming the MDC
and "racist imperialistic forces" for all of our problems will simply not
wash with the people of Zimbabwe.
Clearly no one is falling for this line anymore.
Zimbabweans want their
problems to be addressed NOW so that they can
move on with the business of living and building a prosperous nation.
The government cannot
continue to ignore or engage in a tug-of-war
with the MDC. The opposition party has proved that it deserves to be
acknowledged as a legitimate opposition party that has the support of
Zimbabweans, and which is a crucial partner in attempts to find a solution
to the country’s crisis.
The outcome of the weekend elections has shown that
virtually a divided nation, with ZANU PF controlling its traditional rural
stronghold while the MDC holds sway over the urban electorate.
Very little good can come from such a situation for
either party or
for the nation as a whole.
It is important,
now more than ever, that Zimbabwe’s main political
parties begin to make some headway in resolving this unhealthy situation by
sitting down to come up with a negotiated political settlement.
No amount of public
posturing and face-saving will change the reality
of the situation.
Zimbabweans have suffered enough and deserve a new
Trade relations with Zambia deteriorating despite talks
BULAWAYO – Talks aimed at easing trade tensions between Zimbabwe and
Zambia have failed to yield positive results five months after they began,
it was learnt this week.
Officials involved in
the Zimbabwe-Zambia joint commission discussions
told the Business Daily that the Zambian trade authorities continued to use
parallel market rates in calculating and levying import tax on Zimbabwean
Besides banning about 15 Zimbabwean products last year, Lusaka
authorities have also begun charging import tax using parallel market rates
in an effort to protect Zambia’s commerce and industry from cheaper
Priscilla Pilime, regional manager for the Zimbabwean
trade body, ZimTrade, said the issue of parallel market-based import tax had
dominated the latest round of bilateral trade discussions between the two
Formal and informal
dialogue was held between the two countries at the
end of last month, but with no positive results being achieved.
Pilime said the
Zambian authorities were charging rates of at least $2
500 against the greenback on Zimbabwean imports, forcing locals to increase
the prices of their goods to recoup their costs, but also putting them in
danger of losing out to local competition.
The Zimbabwe: United States dollar
exchange rate has depreciated to as
low as $5 500: $1 in the past two months.
"There is formal and informal trade going on between
countries, and a level of smuggling as well. The Zambian argument has been
that Zimbabweans are dumping cheap goods into their country, and that this
has effectively killed their local business," Pilime told the Business
"As a result of this, those going the formal
way, through official
paperwork and documentation, are dealing in bulk exports and the Zambian
authorities have pegged the exchange rate at parallel market rates against
the American dollar."
tax on parallel market rates effectively increases the
cost of Zimbabwean exports to Zambia, a situation that is favoured by most
industrialists in that country, who are intent on keeping the
competitiveness of their domestic products.
Value Added Tax on Zimbabwean exports to Zambia is
Both countries fall within
the Common Market for Eastern and Southern
Africa (COMESA) free trade area, which allows for the movement of imports
and exports without the payment of customs duties and for the removal of
non-tariff barriers to trade between them.
However, Zimbabwe and Zambia are allowed to levy import
products crossing their common border.
industry officials from the two countries met in May to iron
out several issues, particularly the ban on selected Zimbabwean products by
Zambia, and the effect of the Zimbabwean parallel market on import tax.
Although the joint commission talks and the intervention of COMESA
resulted in Zambia lifting the ban on Zimbabwean products, trade officials
this week said the parallel market-based import duty remained in place, in
spite of pledges to remove it made by Zambian authorities.
official at the Zimbabwe High Commission in Zambia
acknowledged that Zambian trade officials were using parallel market rates
in determining import tax on Zimbabwean products.
The official said: "It is something that
is happening and it was
anticipated that the joint commission talks would solve this issue.
"Although we receive these reports, it is
hoped that dialogue between
our trade industry and Zambian officials within the joint commission will
yield results for fair trade and competition."
The official said Zambian officials were
regularly reviewing the
exchange rate, justifying their moves by indicating the local dollar’s
instability against hard currencies.
By Mbongeni Mguni Senior Business Reporter
Why resigning takes guts and is honourable
FEW Zimbabweans will have heard of Alastair Campbell. Some might
connect him with the Campbell soup cans made famous by the pop artist Andy
Warhol so many years ago.
Or they might mistake
him for a relative of Donald Campbell, who broke
the land speed record in his specially souped-up racing car many years ago.
But those who
bother to keep abreast of current international events –
it’s hard when you spend half your life in queues – will recognise him as
Tony Blair’s top aide and "pugnacious" spokesman, according to Reuters.
It would be
amazing if there were Zimbabweans with no inkling of who
Tony Blair is. President Mugabe has publicly denounced him as the chief
architect of most of our economic and political woes.
A singer without any notable
talent in that department, but with
plenty of other dubious talents – such as being without a shred of respect
for his audience – penned a song about Blair.
To many, it illustrates how low the Mugabe government
has sunk in its
desperation to slander its imagined enemies.
But to return to Alastair Campbell: last week, he announced he would
quit as Blair’s spin-doctor-in-chief. It’s over the scandal of the Iraq
invasion that Campbell ended up with so much dirty soup on his face. He
apparently helped Blair to strengthen the case in favour of an attack on
The theory is that if he had not doctored the evidence brought to the
prime minister by weapons experts such as the late David Kelly, the invasion
might not have taken place.
His resignation, according to all the
analyses, will not end Blair’s
problems with the British people. Some still want his head on a platter
because they believe he fulfilled the role of George W Bush’s poodle that
many had warned him of long before the decision was taken to attack.
Others want him punished for sending their
sons to die in Iraq for
nothing but to appease his and Bush’s machismo.
What are the chances that Blair himself might be
persuaded by his
Labour Party colleagues to resign to save the party from humiliation at the
next general elections?
The pressure on
him is bound to mount as his detractors demand that he
atone for his sins over the Iraq invasion.
In the end, Blair might opt to take the
honourable route – resign
before being kicked out on his fanny.
The Labour Party may not be as ruthless with its leaders
Conservative Party is, but Blair could find himself in Margaret Thatcher’s
plight, being sacked after having led her party to a very long tenure in
But looking at the invidious position of
Jacob Zuma, the South African
Deputy President who is mired in his own potentially Waterloo-size crisis,
you wonder why, in Africa, it is such a rarity for a leader to take the
honourable route of resigning before that horrible stinking stuff hits the
I hope most
Zimbabweans know who Zuma is. He is the former husband of
the South African foreign minister, Nkosazana Zuma Dhlamini.
I could be wrong,
but he must be the highest-ranking Zulu politician
in President Thabo Mbeki’s government
Zuma’s name has been dragged through the mud over
soliciting for a bribe in a big arms deal. The evidence against him,
according to the director of public prosecutions, Bulelani Ngcuka, was not
solid enough for them to charge him.
things can happen anywhere in the world. But anywhere in Africa
where there is always a whiff of corruption in high places, there are good
grounds to suspect political skulduggery.
The Scorpions, who probed the
allegations until they thought Zuma must
be put to his defence, were thoroughly miffed when they were told their case
was not watertight enough.
Tony Yengeni (you must remember him!), the disgraced former leader of
the House, must be pretty fed up too. He might feel that when it comes to
the law in the new South Africa, some people are more equal than others. He
had to cut a deal not to have the entire book thrown at him over some shady
deals of his own. In Zimbabwe, leaders have displayed such a thick-skinned
reaction to allegations of corruption it is rare for them to even offer to
resign if they are caught with their pants down. It must be this
unwillingness to take the honourable route which results in probe after
probe being ordered into allegations of malfeasance when all it would take
is for the President to take the suspect into his sanctum for a tete-a-tete:
"Look, comrade, you must save us the embarrassment of washing your dirty
linen in public by resigning, rather than waiting for me to fire you. In any
case, we can’t waste any more of the taxpayers’ money by ordering an
expensive inquiry into what we all know you did." Is it possible that some
of these culprits might retort with: "Talking about the taxpayers’ money . .
. is it necessary for you to make all these trips, with your wife and a
whole entourage of nurses and cooks – all at the taxpayer’s expense?" Is it
at this point that Mugabe then shakes his head and says: "Point taken. We
will set up the inquiry and as usual won’t publish the findings. But just
one day, I’d love to be able to announce that Minister So-and-So has decided
to resign because he has admitted accepting a massive bribe from this German
or Japanese or Swedish company . . ." I doubt there will ever come such a
day in Mugabe’s presidency. He missed his great opportunity to play The
People’s President over the farms scandal. There was solid evidence that
some of his colleagues had acquired more than one farm. Flora Buka seemed to
have done a thorough job. It was dynamite but Mugabe has never had the guts
to handle political dynamite. He may have proved to be the consummate
political manipulator in ethnic-balancing or being always a step ahead of
the opposition, but he doesn’t seem to have the statesman’s courage to
challenge those closest to him to publicly admit their mistakes and be
prepared to take their punishment like men – amadoda sibili. None of the
people who can qualify to be called his real "cronies" have ever been asked
to walk the political plank. This is why his presidency may be remembered as
one of the most corrupt in Africa. Perhaps it is a question of perceptions.
Leading the liberation war from a makeshift headquarters in the jungles of
Mozambique, Mugabe learnt not to be squeamish about cutting corners. Perhaps
his perception of what constitutes corruption is so drastically alien to
most of us we must have good reason to be frightened of his legacy to this
country. Who knows? To Mugabe, resigning over a scandal may not be the
honourable act of a man of courage. It could be the coward’s way. For his
monumental failure to help this country achieve its full political and
economic potential, he ought to have resigned years ago. But that would be
the coward’s way, for him. He would rather go down fighting. By Bill Saidi
Zimbabwe says opposition victory shows democracy
PORT LOUIS, Sept. 3 — Zimbabwe's foreign minister said on Wednesday the main
opposition's victory in weekend council elections showed democracy was alive
and well in the southern African country despite international criticism.
Western powers have accused President Robert Mugabe's government of
rights abuses and several have rejected his re-election in 2002 polls which
observers and the main opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) said
The MDC narrowly defeated Mugabe's ruling party in the local polls,
seen as a test of the opposition's hold on urban voters.
''The governing party (ZANU-PF) barely survived in the urban centres,
with the opposition taking most of the seats and this proves that Zimbabwe
is a real democracy,'' Foreign Affairs Minister Stan Mudenge told a press
conference during his honeymoon on the Indian Ocean island.
''We have the biggest opposition party in parliament in the whole of
Africa, yet we are still accused by the international community of being
undemocratic,'' Mudenge said.
The MDC victory was seen strengthening its symbolic grip on major
towns, but the government has imposed central control of municipalities.
Zimbabwe is facing a severe economic crisis and Mudenge said the
government was seeking trading and investment partners among Asian countries
like China in a bid to resolve the problems he said had been fuelled by
droughts and international sanctions.
''We are reorienting our economy towards Asia as we have found our
vulnerability in relying on the West, and now we want to look at Asia as a
serious trading partner,'' Mudenge said.
Mugabe's government denies accusations that it has mismanaged the
country, leading to shortages of food, fuel and lately local banknotes.
Zimbabwe government in bid to boost maize production
September 3, 2003
Harare - The Zimbabwe government has more than doubled the price it
will pay for maize and wheat in a bid to boost production in the famished
southern African country, a newspaper said Wednesday.
According to the state-controlled Herald maize will now be bought for
300,000 Zimbabwe dollars (about R2660) a tonne, up from 130,000 dollars,
while wheat will now fetch a price of 400,000 Zimbabwe dollars (about R3545)
a tonne, up from 150,000 dollars.
Millet and sorghum will be bought at the same price as maize, the
It is the second time this year that the government, which is the sole
legal buyer of grain, has hiked the producer price for wheat and maize, amid
reports that farmers were holding on to their harvests because of the poor
government-run Grain Marketing Board (GMB) will continue
to sell maize and wheat to millers for less than the buying price, the
Zimbabwe is critically short of food due to poor harvests which the
government blames on drought but which aid agencies blame partly on a
controversial government land reform programme.
Under the reforms, launched in 2000, land was taken from white farmers
and redistributed to landless black people, often with little or no farming
experience, causing production levels to plummet.
The UN's World Food Programme estimates that 5.5 million of Zimbabwe's
11.6 million people will require emergency food aid by the end of the
year. - Sapa-AFP
Zanu-PF gets a 'wake-up'
03/09/2003 15:05 - (SA)
Harare, Zimbabwe - The ruling party conceded on Wednesday that
gains in local elections were "a rude wake up call" for its politicians,
officials and campaigners.
Jonathan Moyo, a ruling party spokesperson who is also the government's
information minister, said victory by the Movement for Democratic Change in
most town council polls across the country last weekend were sobering, and
the ruling party needed to examine the reasons for its losses.
"We should have seen it coming. The writing was on the wall but somehow we
did not read it," Moyo told the state Herald newspaper, a government
"We can't be mourning. It's good we have gotten a rude wake up call" ahead
of the next parliament elections in 2005, he said.
The opposition won control of 10 town councils in the weekend's local
elections, according to results released on Tuesday. The opposition MDC
hailed the polls as a sign people were dissatisfied with the increasingly
authoritarian government and worsening economic hardships.
The local elections in this troubled southern African country, which
included races for two vacant parliament seats, were beset by low voter
turnout and reports of political intimidation by members of the ruling
The opposition captured 134 council seats across the country to the ruling
The opposition also retained its parliament seat in central Harare, while
the ruling party retained a seat in Makonde, a traditional stronghold of the
Debate hurt the party
Moyo said preoccupation over stalled talks between the ruling party and the
opposition, to negotiate an end to the country's political and economic
crisis, caused some ruling party officials to lose focus ahead of the polls.
Debate and speculation on a possible ruling party successor to longtime
ruler President Robert Mugabe, 78, also hurt the party, he said.
Talks between the two main parties collapsed after the opposition refused to
recognize Mugabe's election for another six-year term in presidential polls
Attempts to revive the talks as the economy crumbled this year have failed.
Mugabe is demanding the opposition drop a court challenge to his re-election
scheduled to begin the High Court on November 3.
The MDC has refused to drop the case and is demanding Mugabe step down.
Independent and foreign observers said Mugabe's narrow win in the
presidential poll was swayed by intimidation, corruption and vote rigging.
Zimbabwe is suffering its worst economic crisis since independence in 1980,
with record inflation of 400 percent, one of the highest rates in the world.
Soaring unemployment and acute shortages of hard currency, local money,
food, gasoline, medicine and other imports are crippling the economy.
Opposition officials reported widespread intimidation of their supporters in
the run-up to and during the elections. They also said ruling party
campaigners were handing out food to voters in some areas in a bid to gain
The state election commission dismissed those reports as "exaggerated."
Inter Press Service
Endangered Wild Dogs Caught in Poaching Stampede
BULAWAYO, Zimbabwe, Sep 3 (IPS) - They
hunt in family groups over great
distances, chasing mostly impala, kudu and duiker until the prey tires and
can be caught.
Thus, they have earned a well-deserved reputation for being efficient,
indefatigable hunters who will disembowel prey in a matter of minutes,
before lions or hyenas get a chance to move in.
Yet, less known about them is the fact that the sick and wounded, together
with the young members of the pack, are looked after, fed on regurgitated
food and nursed back to health.
Painted hunting dogs, also known as Cape hunting dogs or African wild dogs,
so named for their individual and elaborate skin markings, were some of the
most maligned of Africa's predators.
What is known about them now is that they are very social animals living in
large packs numbering up to 40. There is usually one breeding female in each
pack, which gives birth to a litter of up to 10 pups at a time that the
whole pack takes turns in looking after.
The dogs used to be a common part of the African wilderness. But with the
advent of the European colonisation, they were branded vermin and
mercilessly persecuted, to the extent of being eradicated from national
parks. Their numbers were reduced from some 500,000 to 3,000.
Now they are an endangered species.
Between 1956 and 1961 about 2,700 were killed in Zimbabwe alone for a bounty
paid by the government to protect livestock. And those were just the
This kind of slaughter went on throughout the continent where previously the
dogs had been sighted even on the snows of Mt Kilimanjaro in Tanzania and
often wondered into the Sahara Desert.
The Zimbabwe population fell to a low of 150 in the early 1980s. The total
for Africa now stands at about 3,000. The Zimbabwe dog population, spread
through three locations: Hwange and Gonarezhou national parks and the
Zambezi Valley, was the largest in the world.
But that was before poachers moved in. They have reduced the dogs'
population from about 850 to 600. Tanzania has about 800 dogs, Botswana 500
and South Africa 200.
At the forefront of the species' survival in Zimbabwe is zoologist Greg
Rasmussen whose Painted Dog Research Project has existed since 1989.
Operating from the south western part of the country, in and around the
14,000-hectare Hwange National Park, Rasmussen and his team have been quite
successful in allaying ranchers' concerns about the dogs and also bringing
about a high level of awareness within the population.
Monitoring with the help of radio collars and translocation has brought the
dogs in areas where they had not been seen in decades.
The project has three main focus areas: identifying through research the
problems facing painted hunting dogs in Zimbabwe, disseminating information
regarding the problems facing this species and actively reducing known
causes of mortality and preventing those that are looming. A considerable
percentage of fatalities are caused by motor vehicles as the dogs - moving
in packs - frequently fall victim to road accidents, especially when they
move in and out of game reserves.
Thus, apart from erecting road signs warning motorists of the dogs' crossing
points along the Bulawayo-Victoria Falls highway, Rasmussen has developed a
special collar for the dogs with reflective strips and a stainless steel
plate. It makes it easier for motorists to see them in the dark, and also
protects the dogs' windpipe should they get caught in snares.
The results of
extensive tests on improved survival of dogs wearing the
collars have shown that the protectively collared dogs had significantly
higher survival chances than the rest.
However, given that each pack needs about 750 square kilometres in order to
thrive, the dogs' future is far from secured since this exceeds what most
game reserves can provide.
Some environmentalists say the only long-term solution to the problem is the
creation of trans-frontier parks that will give wild dogs enough room to
roam. Not only would this minimise habitat loss to humans, it would also
prevent inbreeding, a phenomenon that bodes ill for the survival of the
The proposed Gaza-Kruger-Gonarezhou Transfrontier Park, a wildlife reserve
spanning South Africa, Mozambique and Zimbabwe has been thrown in doubt due
to the reported occupation of Gonarezhou game reserve by land-hungry
For Rasmussen's study packs, however, the problem has been less academic.
Poaching, fuelled by Zimbabwe's chaotic land-reform programme, has led to
the demise of three out of five study packs, or over 30 dogs in the last 18
Since Feb. 2000, thousands of Zimbabwe's white farmers have been pushed off
their land as the government sought to redress colonial land imbalances in
an unplanned populist programme driven more by the ruling party's fear of
losing power than a desire for genuine reform.
In many instances, government-supported war veterans of Zimbabwe's
liberation struggle have move in, sharing the land among themselves. Other
farms have been partitioned for ”new black farmers” many of whom are content
being absentee landlords or are still trying to find their feet.
”We need an indication of who should live here and who shouldn't,” Rasmussen
says of the Gwaai Conservancy, part of his study area consisting of several
ranches within which game could roam, but now without careful policing. ”A
lot of people have moved in merely to collect wildlife.”
Apparently, the wild dogs are not the only wild animals falling victims to
poaching. The Zimbabwe Wildlife Producers Association estimates that half
the country's wildlife has been killed in the last two years, when the
country's land programme gained steam.
Rasmussen notes that 16 members of his project's anti-poaching unit are
removing 1,000 snares a month and fear that in six months they will have no
jobs since the game might have been wiped out.
”Now everyone has left the ranches, the poachers are having a free lunch,”
he says. ”Most of the poaching is for selling meat and nothing else. There
is absolutely no control.”
He says Zimbabwe's reputation of having the best wild dog programme has
suffered a major setback.
The worst poachers are South African hunters whose ”reputation from hell” is
well-known, Rasmussen says. ”The South Africans destroyed their own wildlife
and had to restock with animals bought in Zimbabwe. ”Now there is this
window of opportunity in Zimbabwe.”
Yet, to stem the tide, Ben Kaschula of the Commercial Farmers Union, which
represents mainly white landowners, says the rule of law has to return to
the farms. ”If poaching were to cease, the game would recover given time.”
For the endangered painted wild dogs, there might be no third chance.
Government will not tolerate disruption on farming activities
04 September 2003
Lands, Agriculture and Rural resettlement Minister, Dr Joseph Made says
government will not tolerate any attempts to disrupt farming activities in
newly settled farms by former white commercial farmers who continue to live
on farms despite completion of the compulsory acquisition process under the
law of Zimbabwe.
Dr Made told Newsnet that his ministry has received reports of disruptive
activities by some former farmers who are mobilizing workers against new
farmers and instigating work stoppages and strikes, especially on tobacco
Some of the former farmers are barring new farmers from working on their
pieces of land by ploughing access roads.
Dr Made said such activities are adversely affecting the work on tobacco
farming which is Zimbabwe’s highest foreign currency earner.
Corpses of Zimbabweans unclaimed
Botswana's government is
to bury 12 unclaimed corpses of illegal Zimbabwean
immigrants in a mass grave as tension between the two neighbouring countries
mounts. Francistown district commissioner Sylvia Muzila said yesterday that
"hordes of unclaimed corpses of illegal immigrants are jamming the
government mortuaries in the country and they will be buried in a mass
grave". She said some of the corpses had not been claimed for more than a
year. The number of bodies was later found to be 12, of which 11 were
Zimbabweans. "The costs for dignified burial are too high and the best thing
that we can do is to have a mass burial." Muzila said she had appealed to
the Zimbabwean authorities to get relatives to come and claim the corpses,
but the process was hampered by the fact that the illegal immigrants had not
been identified. "Most of the illegal immigrants were admitted into the
hospitals through different ailments and they are largely of sexually active
age," she said, suggesting that some might have died of HIV/AIDS.
This comes at a time when
diplomatic temperatures between the two countries
have risen following Botswana's move to erect a 500km electric fence along
their border. The Zimbabwean government claims Botswana is trying to erect a
fence along "Gaza Strip" lines, targeted at Zimbabweans. However, Botswana's
agriculture ministry was defiant yesterday, saying it was going ahead with
the fence despite objections from its northern neighbours. "It is 500km and
2,4m high, starting from Tuli Circle to Zibanana and designed to control
animal diseases," the acting director of veterinary services, Musa Fanakiso,
said. "We are going ahead with the construction as planned."
had two footand-mouth outbreaks in less than two years in the
northeastern part of the country and their source was traced to Zimbabwe.
The outbreak led to the closure of the northern abattoir, temporary layoffs
and the suspension of beef exports to European Union markets. Botswana says
it is experiencing its biggest immigration problem since independence in
1966 as thousands enter the country, fleeing economic meltdown in Zimbabwe.
The immigration department said it been overwhelmed by the problem and had
joined police and army patrols enlisted to fend off the influx. "We have
recently started joint border patrols," said the immigration officer
responsible for the northern region, Oliver Toteng. "We are repatriating at
least 2500 illegal Zimbabweans a month." The government has expressed
concern that the repatriation exercise is likely to cost more than $1m this
Comment from The Mail & Guardian (SA), 2 September
Manicured, pedicured, but still fighting
time I met Rana from Palestine, she looked as though she had just
stepped out of a beauty parlour. Her hair was newly and nicely permed, her
nails perfectly manicured and her toes were a beautifully pedicured, deep
purple. I kept staring at her, long after she had introduced herself. This
could not be a woman straight out of the battle-scarred Palestine. Where and
when do women have their hair done in the midst of conflict? Okay, I could
understand the hair - perhaps done in a makeshift salon at the back of
someone's house. But not the manicure and the pedicure. How can one be
pedicured and still find time to dodge the war planes? What would Rana have
said if the Israeli military had found her feet immersed in a foot spa?
"Excuse me, major, while I soak them. Oh, mind my fingers, please, this
polish takes a long time to dry!" When it became obvious to Rana that I was
staring at her, she felt compelled to tell me so. I explained to her exactly
why. She laughed hard. "You watch too much TV! We still manage to get on
with our lives, even in the midst of all that. We have to have hope and
faith. For me the beauty parlour is a place I go to find some pleasure and
peace. I know the planes may come any time. But why deny myself the chance
to live when I still have it?"
I was a very green activist then. I tried hard to understand
from my new friend from a war zone. But I couldn't. Zimbabwe had just
completed its first decade of independence. We had barely entered the
disgruntlement era. How could I ever understand what it was to live in an
occupied territory? Zimbabwean TV had done a lot to make many of us aware of
the horrors of Palestine. Hence my thinking that the whole place was one
huge battlefront, and that there were no beauty parlours. Rana was a
feminist fighter par excellence. As I got to know her over the three weeks
in the year that we, together with other feminists, launched the first 16
days of Activism Against Violence Against Women, I came to admire her. She
related how, in Palestine, they organised as women in the camps and on the
streets. She spoke passionately about freedom for women. Since that year,
1991, I have wondered whether Rana is still alive. Those were the days
before e-mail - for both of us, at least. I sent her a number of "snail
mail" letters. I never received a reply.
Today I find
myself living in my own kind of Palestine. A different one, but
a nation in conflict nonetheless. I get a number of breathless phone calls,
e-mails and surprised greetings from my friends around the world: "Are you
all right? How are you coping? Are you sure you are okay? You look so well,
have you moved from Zimbabwe?" Read this with all the breathlessness that
you can muster in a British, American, Indian or South African accent.
Sometimes I get irritated. Like Rana, I don't understand why people
genuinely think there is something incongruous between my manicured nails,
my waxed eyebrows and the politics I speak. I understand that sometimes they
mean well. Like Rana, I have chosen to enjoy the little pleasures of life
when and if I still can - damn this conflict. Like Rana, I have also chosen
to fight the good fight for my country, and for my rights and those of other
women. I could easily wallow in my little world and abandon this struggle
for freedom. I am part of that small minority that can still afford to live
fairly comfortable lives: meet for lunches at the fabulous Amanzi
restaurant, have dinner at the Meikles, lie down for two-hour massages and
fill trolleys in the supermarket. We, the self-chosen few, can easily count
our blessings and thank our various gods that we are still on our feet where
others have drowned. Our children can listen to the distant rumble of
trouble in their land of plenty and wonder on which planet wahala, as the
Nigerians call it, would be happening. I read it in my daughter's eyes a few
months ago. She, at the glorious age of 17, could not understand why I was
forever stressed, angry, and running hither and thither to "political
meetings". She flicked through the DStv channels looking for the fun stuff,
not mum's weird current-affairs channels.
My aunt's daughter Shirley died a week ago. Wonderful,
I still can't imagine her dead. I was not around to see her buried, so I am
still in denial about her death. For two days she lay in Parirenyatwa
Hospital. No qualified doctor ever saw her. Just a group of medical students
trying to figure out why she had gone comatose from flu. There are few
doctors left in Zimbabwe. Most of the good ones have gone to other pastures.
I don't know whether they are necessarily greener. What I do know is that
they have gone to hospitals where there is medicine to give patients. Where
there are systems that govern how patients are cared for. Shirley might have
had pneumonia, as they told us after the fact. But she died of neglect. My
family are angry about all this. I don't blame the doctors. They are doing
the best they can with what is available. As the "Rhodesians" like to say to
us when they are angry, "Go and tell your [Robert] Mugabe." I blame him and
his henchmen (yes, men) for Shirley's unnecessary death. The chain of events
surrounding it serve as reminder of the rottenness of the state of Zimbabwe.
We could have put her in a
private hospital, but we could not access the
cash that was needed to pay the deposit. By the time we factored in all the
basics, we needed about half a million dollars in cash just to get her in
through the door of a decent hospital. They wouldn't take bank-certified
cheques because there has been too much fraud. At Parirenyatwa, there were
no specialist doctors to see her. We kept her there because we eventually
found a matron who promised us that she would help us because, as she told
us, "here it is a matter of who you know". My cousin knew too few people,
too late. Shirley died while waiting for X-rays and a head scan. Pari, as we
call it, is the hospital of choice for the middle and lower-middle classes.
Until recently it was the place to go if you had a basic medical aid or a
bit of cash. It was also a referral hospital for the lower classes with even
less money and life-threatening illnesses. Now you have to "know somebody"
to live? I sincerely hope all my middle-class friends and relatives know
enough "somebodies" to save their lives. I hope, too, that all the people I
work with in international NGOs and in the private sector who keep silent
about the crisis in this country have enough of everything under their
mattresses for all sorts of emergencies: cash, fuel, doctors, nurses, food,
coffins and whatever else.
problem, though, is that there is a limit to how much cash or fuel you
can stock up on. There are too few doctors for them to be on personal call
to all of us. After Mugabe and the chiefs have had their share, we are left
with the crumbs of these basic needs. What should be a basic right and
necessity has become a mammoth favour from those we "know". When you get a
passport, as my friend Noma did after paying her way through several doors
last month, you thank your ancestors. We go around the world showing
immigration officials where to stamp in our passports, just in case we run
out of space. Sooner or later we'll run out of space and out of the people
we "know". We can get manicured all we want, but as long as the rest of this
country is not at peace, our nail varnish will never dry. The reality of
repression keeps barging into our false little spaces. That is why we must
fight for what we are entitled to as human beings and as citizens of this
country. While I can forgive foreigners who breathlessly wonder how things
are in Zimbabwe, I find the attitude of some of us who live and work here
unforgiveable. I find the outlook of those who talk about development,
rights and good governance quite incomprehensible. Granted, not all of us
can go throw stones at State House. But do we ever get angry enough to want
to go and find the stones? The day the upper and middle classes in Zimbabwe
realise that cheque books and credit cards will not buy us the freedoms we
need, is the day we will be like Rana. Manicured and pedicured, yet still
standing up for Zimbabwe.