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

Black market booms in Zimbabwe

Los Angeles Times
Today's lineup
Anonymous / AP
People queue to buy sugar in Harare, where price controls have led to severe shortages. When goods arrive, many store supervisors secretly sell most of them to black marketeers.
Inflation and price controls have made everything scarce, but 'cowboys' like Kuda Shumba are at your service, if you can pay a 500% markup.
By Robyn Dixon, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer
September 3, 2007
HARARE, Zimbabwe — Kuda Shumba goes at one speed: fast. He prides himself on being able to get hold of almost anything, and he's open for business day or night.

That's what it takes to be one of Zimbabwe's black-market cowboys.

Shumba spends his days on a motorbike sniffing out almost- impossible-to-find items such as sugar, cooking oil, bread, margarine or cellphone SIM cards, risking years in a dank prison if caught. His markup: 500%-plus.

His cellphone is his lifeline. He gets calls from a couple of dozen contacts who tip him off when a scarce commodity -- which nowadays in Zimbabwe includes all basic needs -- is about to appear in a store. Then he swoops in.

Store supervisors and other staff members sell most of what they have to people such as Shumba, pocketing a cut.

"I get them from the back door. You can't get them straight," he said. "I feel happy because I can get things fast and resell them quickly. That's my advantage: I'm fast. You have to be fast."

In this country suffering from hyperinflation, where the black market value of 1 million Zimbabwean dollars is $5.50, the underground dealers are the bane of the government. But President Robert Mugabe's increasingly draconian efforts to control the lurching economy by imposing price controls werea gift to them, triggering severe shortages.

Agriculture in Zimbabwe, once southern Africa's breadbasket, with a thriving tobacco industry, has gone into decline since early 2000, when Mugabe allowed the seizure of white-owned farms, most of which ended up in the hands of ruling party cronies. Production plummeted, investors fled, and the country has been struggling with severe shortages since.

Price controls meant some businesses had to run at a loss, so even more goods disappeared from the shelves. Although the government recently has increased some prices, the state-run newspaper Herald reports that widespread shortages persist.

"I can make a lot of money because the government is saying people have to sell this at 50,000 [Zimbabwean dollars], so businessmen are no longer buying these things for resale," Shumba said. "I'll make a lot of money, 30 million-plus" a month.

On the black market exchange rate, that would be $166. Still, it's a handsome salary compared with the 2 million Zimbabwean dollars a month, or $11, he estimates he would be making in his old job as a clerk, a post he abandoned in disgust several years ago because of the low pay.

Tall, wearing neat jeans and a crisp black jacket, the 34-year-old carries a briefcase and looks like a businessman or shop owner. Sure, he's deeply religious and active in his church, but he has a motto in Zimbabwe's dog-eat-dog economy: Never give anything away for free.

When there is no meat in the shops, his wife and children eat meat. He has luxuries that none of his neighbors can afford: a laptop computer, satellite TV, a DVD player.

"You can only afford those things if you're a black market guy," he said. "They're not for people on salaries."

Most days, there's an air of anxiety in Zimbabwe's supermarkets. The freezer sections, once filled with meat and chicken, yawn emptily. The shelves where cornmeal, rice and bread used to be stacked are bare. But on other shelves, cakes, cookies, dog food and chocolate are piled up, at prices few people can afford.

When staples arrive, the anxiety turns to panic, and sometimes violence.

When people see a queue in Zimbabwe, they join it and ask questions later. According to local news reports, a queue to buy sugar snaking for 900 yards erupted into pandemonium in late July in the eastern town of Marondera. A security fence was toppled and a woman sustained a broken leg in the crush, before police with dogs were called. Days earlier, two people were seriously injured when a truck carrying cornmeal was mobbed in Bulawayo.

But business has never been so good for Shumba, who sells his goods secretly at night from his home, or delivers to special customers.

He might be one of Zimbabwe's economic winners, but he seems wired, constantly on edge. During a clandestine interview, he fingered his cellphone ceaselessly and shifted nervously in his seat at questions about the business.

Some months he sells half a ton of sugar, more than 300 gallons of cooking oil and 100 dozen loaves of bread, which he gets from retailers and manufacturers.

"If you want to be a dealer, you have to know a lot of guys in different sectors. If you want something from supermarkets, you go and see the manager there. You give him something so that when he gets in some sugar or cooking oil, he'll phone you."

Among his customers are white businessmen who rely on him for cellphone SIM cards, which are difficult to procure. He splits the 14 million dollars, or $77, a month in SIM card profit with a friend who works in a phone shop.

With shortages, black market prices are way up, reflecting the real inflation rate here. The risks have increased as well.

"Yeah, it's dangerous," he said. "It's not allowed. If they caught me probably I'd go straight to jail."

So Shumba has a little insurance policy. He bribes the police chief in his area 500,000 to 1 million Zimbabwean dollars -- about $2.70 to $5.50 -- every few weeks and offers him a gift of sugar, oil or cornmeal from every delivery.

Zimbabweans privately curse the black marketeers, but no one is ever rude to Shumba's face.

"People know what I do," he said. "They don't comment on it because they all want something from me."

In the black market area in the Mbare neighborhood of Harare one recent warm winter morning, dozens of traders stood warily behind the upturned cardboard cartons that serve as their stalls. One woman slowly wandered by, carrying two loaves of bread she had managed to find, but buyers were scarce. Police had raided the area hours earlier and the usual throng and bustle was absent.

Later that day in another part of Mbare, a 23-year-old black-marketeer named Tendai Tafadze waited, bored, for a sugar delivery outside a wholesaler's warehouse.

"It could be coming in anytime," drawled Tafadze, the sole breadwinner in a family of six. "I'm waiting for a call from my friend."

He and his partner will sell the sugar at double the state price of 30,000 dollars, or 16 cents, for a 44-pound bag.

Tafadze has about five contacts and gets 20 or 30 calls a day, though many are false leads.

"It's nerve-racking because maybe you won't get the product, or maybe the quantity will be limited."

A dealer who gave his name only as Joseph works in another Harare neighborhood to bring in money for his family of seven. Joseph, 42, likes to portray himself as someone committed to helping people, even if his prices are so high that the poor can't afford them. The government set the price for cooking oil at 40,000 dollars, or 22 cents, but he charges six times that.

"The good part of it is you're your own boss," he said. "You can work hard and your energy can sustain you. You don't have someone to bully or boss you."

With salaries losing value and the unemployment rate high, many here want to pile into the black market game, to be a winner.

But for every trader buying from the back door of a supermarket, there's a crowd of losers in a long line out front.

Sometimes Daina Banda, 75, of Bulawayo joins the lines, but usually she has no money. She spends most of her days rummaging through garbage for old cabbage leaves and scraps to feed her four children and three grandchildren.

Other times, Banda wanders the streets looking for scrap metal to sell, but competition is so stiff that she has seen people brawl over a piece of discarded tin.

She recalls with a sad nostalgia a time 15 years ago, when she worked as a maid.

"It's a painful situation when I think of yesteryear when I was a maid and when I used to be able to feed my family and clothe them and pay their school fees," she said.

"I never thought I would end up in this state. I didn't think I would get to this point in life."

Her dream as a young woman was to have her own shop. Now she lies awake at night worrying about survival.

"I am just lying thinking about this life I'm in and saying to myself, 'In the morning I'll wake up and look for cabbage leaves to feed my family,' " she said.

Like Banda, the black-marketeers have their own broken dreams. Joseph wanted to be a policeman or a teacher. Shumba was a bright mathematics student who had hopes of becoming a doctor.

"There's no cash these days, man. There's no money. Buying and selling on the black market, it's OK for me," Shumba said. "I'm helping my family. That's the only thing I think about."

For him, the thought that the country might one day return to normal is slightly alarming. Normality: That would take a big adjustment. How would he survive?

"I'd try something. I'd do something different."

His thought was only half finished when a call came through, and he jumped up restlessly. Somewhere, sugar had come in.

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Companies in Zimbabwe start to go local

Financial Times

By Tony Hawkins in Harare

Published: September 3 2007 16:56 | Last updated: September 3 2007 16:56

US food manufacturer H J Heinz has sold its 49 per cent stake in Zimbabwe's
Olivine Industries in a move described by the state-owned media as a
"government takeover".

In a statement on Monday, the Cotton Company of Zimbabwe (Cottco), which has
been listed on the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange since its privatisation 10 years
ago, said it had bought the Heinz stake for $6.8m.

The sale comes as the Zimbabwe parliament this week debates a bill designed
to force foreign-owned companies and those owned by "non-indigenous"
Zimbabweans (whites and Asians) to sell 51 per cent of their shares to black

However, business sources say the sale, which has been under negotiation for
at least a year, is not attributable to President Robert Mugabe's
"indigenisation" campaign.

The Zimbabwe government holds a 23 per cent indirect stake in Cottco through
the National Social Security Authority, as well as a small direct stake, but
does not have majority control of Southern Africa's largest ginner and
marketer of cotton.

So while Olivine has been "indigenised" and now has majority ownership by
black Zimbabwean shareholders, it has not been taken over by the state.

Indeed, the initiative came from Heinz which over a year ago decided to sell
its Zimbabwe operation because, as a manufacturer soaps, vegetable oils and
candles, Olivine's business is "noncore" for the food group. It is
understood that with the sale to Cottco, the Heinz brandname will be
discontinued in Zimbabwe.

Heinz was one of the first foreign companies to invest in Zimbabwe after
independence in 1980 when it bought a 49 per cent of Olivine from the family
owners and established a joint-venture with the government.

Its chief executive at the time, Irish businessman and former rugby
international Tony O'Reilly, befriended Mr Mugabe and tried - mostly in
vain - to convince other western companies to invest.

The Heinz sale is the third corporate restructuring in as many weeks that
has been linked, rightly or wrongly, to the government's indigenisation

Last week, London-listed Old Mutual said it would allocate 20 per cent of
the shares of its Zimbabwe operation to local, black, staff. Old Mutual
Zimbabwe is listed on the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange, which means that 30 per
cent of its shares are held by local - mostly black - investors. Old Mutual
is unpopular in Zimbabwe because the retirement funds of policyholders are
largely worthless as a result of cumulative inflation since 2002 in excess
of nine million per cent.

Earlier last month, the Meikles Africa group, which operates hotels,
supermarkets, tea plantations, and a textile company in Zimbabwe and also
has a growing investment footprint in South Africa, announced that it would
restructure its business, appointing a black chief executive for the first
time. Details of the restructuring have still to be announced, but the
effect will be to indigenise ownership in Zimbabwe.

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Zimbabwe union to set up distress fund for harassed teachers

Zim Online

Tuesday 04 September 2007

By Prince Nyathi

HARARE - A Zimbabwe teachers union says it is setting up a distress fund to
assist teachers who fall victim to political violence as the country
prepares for crucial parliamentary and presidential elections next year.

Teachers, especially in remote rural areas, are often targeted for beatings,
harassment and torture by ruling ZANU PF militia and war veterans who accuse
them of campaigning for the main opposition Movement for Democratic Change
(MDC) party.

Dozens of schools have since the emergence of the MDC in 1999 as a potent
rival to ZANU PF been forced to close and send children home every election
time after teachers were beaten and forcibly expelled from classrooms by
ruling party militants as punishment for allegedly backing the opposition.

The Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (PTUZ) said the proposed fund
would pay lawyers to defend teachers when they are harassed out of schools
by supporters of President Robert Mugabe and his ZANU PF party.

"There has been a systematic brutalisation of teachers in the country for
too long and as teachers we have resolved to fight back because if we don't
do that, no one will do it for us," said PTUZ president Takavafira Zhou.

He did not say when exactly the fund will be launched or how much the PTUZ
expected to raise.

As well as fighting in the courts to protect teachers' rights, the PTUZ
plans to print and distribute pamphlets to parents explaining how harassment
of teachers and closure of schools have a huge and negative impact on their
children's education.

"If parents understand our position they will come to our side and it will
be difficult for the militia to victimise us," said Zhou.

Education Minister Aeneas Chigwedere was not immediately available for
comment on the matter.

Politically motivated violence and human rights abuses have become routine
in Zimbabwe in recent years with the Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum last
week saying it had recorded over 25 000 cases of rights violations over the
past six years alone.

The Forum, which is a coalition of 17 rights groups operating in Zimbabwe,
blamed most of the rights abuses that include rapes, torture and murder on
the police, agents of the government's spy Central Intelligence Organisation
(CIO) agency, and militant supporters of Mugabe's ZANU PF party.

The Forum predicted an upsurge of political violence and rights abuses as
Zimbabwe gears for elections that some analysts say could be the toughest
yet for Mugabe and ZANU PF because of a deepening economic crisis they say
has angered voters. - ZimOnline

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Zim artists turn to the screen to escape Mugabe's censorship

Zim Online

Tuesday 04 September 2007

By Tafirei Shumba

HARARE - Banned artists critical of President Mugabe are taking creativity
to new levels outsmarting the Harare regime known for brutality against
dissenting voices.

Sharp-tongued artists are forbidden on the banal and sole state television
and radio while public theatrical plays and drama, criticising Mugabe and
his henchmen, are banned by the state.

But defiant actors, irked by government censorship, are taking their
hard-hitting works up the silver screen in a bid to reach out to a wider
international audience out of Mugabe's reach.

Banned in Zimbabwe in 2004 on suspicion it lampooned Mugabe, an 83-years-old
despot in power for 27 straight years, the political theatrical satire,
Super Patriots and Morons, has been adapted for film.

Zimbabwe's first post-independence political play, to be banned and
subsequently adapted for a full-length feature film, Super Patriots and
Morons was shot on location in Harare this year away from the media

The movie went quietly into post-production for fear police and state
security agents would disrupt filming and possibly arrest the cast and crew.

A paranoid police and brutal Gestapo-style Central Intelligence Organisation
(CIO) state security, that reports directly to Mugabe, reacts swiftly on
public or civic gatherings that are not sanctioned by police and shooting a
movie that clearly puts Mugabe against the wall would attract serious

The movie premiered quietly in Harare last Thursday.

Much to the chagrin of state agents, the stage play version of the film is a
2007 nominee of Amnesty International Freedom of Expression Award and
continues receiving standing ovations and international accolades.

The film is typical satire showcasing poetic license of the highest order
through the use of irony, ridicule, exaggeration and humour to expose and
criticise Mugabe's autocracy and the way he has brought Zimbabwe to its

While humorous and caricaturing Mugabe, the real story behind Super Patriots
and Morons is not a joke but a sad reflection of the state of the nation:
human rights abuses, the murder of Mugabe's opposition activists, economic
meltdown, unemployment, starvation, lawlessness, corruption and endless
shortages of virtually all basic necessities.

As it captures the agony and mood of the people, the movie zeroes in on how
the ordinary citizens could engage the rogue regime and reclaim the right to
good governance.

But the movie producer Daves Guzha, who also plays the lead role as state
president, speaks seemingly with tongue-in-cheek denying the film is about
Zimbabwe's geriatric ruler but misrule in repressive societies.

"The movie is inspired, yes, by events unfolding in Zimbabwe but can't be
said to be targeting Mugabe personally. But people would naturally interpret
the movie in different ways," Guzha told ZimOnline.

Guzha said the ban on the stage play version of Super Patriots and Morons
and the local and international goodwill the play had received also
influenced him to develop the satire into a movie.

In repressive societies, as the heat burns and the environment becomes
sensitive and dangerous, courageous artists emerge with rich tapestries of
creative work and actors are particularly giving Mugabe headaches.

Cont Mhlanga, a celebrated playwright, director and producer, returned from
Zimbabwe's war of liberation at independence in 1980 and has since then
never given the Harare regime any respite with his provocative plays.

Government brands Mhlanga a traitor and sellout, but like a growing list of
courageous actors, Mhlanga has vowed Mugabe will not succeed in silencing
art regardless of state intimidation.

Mhlanga's plays have already been in trouble with the state including The
Good President, a theatrical play that takes shots directly at Mugabe.

The play was banned in June after armed police stormed Bulawayo Theatre
during performance and ordered the audience out in Zimbabwe's second largest
city in the southern region where Mugabe murdered at least 20 000 civilians
in the 1980s in a war of attrition against the mainly Ndebele ethnic

"The reason why I use theatre is because I can't access Mugabe. If I would
access the president today I would tell him he would not lose anything by
not being president of Zimbabwe anymore," Mhlanga told ZimOnline.

 "Yes, as an artist and Zimbabwean, I am saying Mugabe must go. He has done
his contribution. He will not carry the liberation struggle process of
democracy alone for 147 years, why? And I am not going to America, to
Britain, to the opposition to tell them Mugabe must go."

Both Guzha and Mhlanga are engaged in a legal battle with the state to have
the ban on their productions lifted.

Among some of the theatrical events and plays banned or stopped by the state
in recent times are:

December 2006 - police in Chitungwiza, Harare, stop a theatrical festival on
human rights. A young theatre producer Daniel Maphosa is intimidated.

May 2007 - police in Harare stop a theatrical festival on human rights,
governance and democracy.

February 2007 - police in Bulawayo stop staging of a play advocating freedom
of expression What They Said What They Got.

June 2007 - police in Bulawayo confront producer Cont Mhlanga and order
people watching The Good President to disperse immediately. - ZimOnline

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Moyo's Z$2bn lawsuit against Nkomo resumes at High Court

Zim Online

Tuesday 04 September 2007

By Lizwe Sebatha

BULAWAYO - The High Court will on Tuesday resume hearing a case in which
former information minister Jonathan Moyo is suing ruling ZANU PF national
chairman John Nkomo for Z$2 billion for defamation.

The high profile case, that observers say is closely enmeshed with the
ongoing battles over President Robert Mugabe's succession, was adjourned
last May.

Moyo last May dropped charges against another senior ZANU PF official Dumiso
Dabengwa who was being jointly charged with Nkomo in the defamation lawsuit.

Moyo's lawyer, Job Sibanda, confirmed that the case would resume in the High
Court today with the court expected to deal with the matter over the next 10

"The defence is expected to bring more witnesses to testify against Moyo,"
said Sibanda yesterday.

Among those expected to testify against Moyo are Justice Minister Patrick
Chinamasa, deputy labour and social welfare minister Abednico Ncube, deputy
environment and tourism minister Andrew Langa as well as war veterans'
leader Joseph Chinotimba.

High Court Judge Francis Bere is presiding over the case.

Moyo is seeking damages from Nkomo whom he says defamed him over statements
he made suggesting that he had plotted a coup against President Robert
Mugabe in 2004 in Tsholotsho.

Nkomo is denying the charge.

Moyo was suspended from ZANU PF together with six other provincial leaders
for allegedly plotting the palace coup against Mugabe in what came to be
known as the Tsholotsho declaration.

The controversial former minister, blamed for spearheading a bruising
campaign against the independent media during his tenure in government, was
later fired from ZANU PF and the government after he sought to stand in the
2005 election as an independent candidate. - ZimOnline

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

FIFA delegation to assess Zimbabwe's tourism facilities

Zim Online

Tuesday 04 September 2007

By Thulani Munda

HARARE - A delegation from the Federation of International Football
Association (FIFA-MATCH) is set to visit Zimbabwe next Monday to assess the
country's tourist facilities for the 2010 World Cup to be held in South

Zimbabwe Tourism Authority (ZTA) chief executive officer, Karikoga
Kaseke said his organization was excited and encouraged by the scheduled
visit by FIFA officials as the country seeks to take advantage of the
football showcase next door.

"We have been discussing with them at various levels and different
fora and we are pleased that we have reached this stage," said Kaseke.

"It was only a matter of time before they could visit Zimbabwe for the
inspections because they had already visited some countries in the region,"
he said.

MATCH is the FIFA agency that is responsible for all accommodation,
travel and ticketing arrangements for major football tournaments.

The purpose of the visit is to assess Zimbabwe's capacity to host
football teams and tourists for the 2010 World Cup tournament to be held in
South Africa, the first to be held on the African continent.

Kaseke said the delegation had asked to assess three to five star
hotels in the capital Harare, Bulawayo and Victoria Falls as well as other
service facilities in the tourism sector.

He said the ZTA will not leave anything to chance ahead of the visit
by the FIFA officials.

"We have to make sure that the industry standards are brought up to
the expectations of FIFA," he said.

"We will not hesitate to exclude any facility, and I mean any facility
that does not meet the required standards. There is no compromise in this
position and there will no sacred cows."

Zimbabwe plans to generate at least US$50 million from tourist
arrivals during the World Cup tournament.

Zimbabwe's tourism sector, which was the third biggest foreign
currency earner for the country, has been in the doldrums over the past
seven years after President Robert Mugabe sanctioned the violent seizure of
white farms for redistribution to landless blacks. - ZimOnline

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Election Monitor Urges Zimbabwe To Relaunch Voter Registration Drive


By Patience Rusere
03 September 2007

A spokesman for the Zimbabwe Election Support Network said Monday that the
civic group has urged the registrar general to re-launch mobile voter

A ZESN report alleged irregularities in the registration exercise that ended
August 17, saying these must be addressed for next year's elections to be
free and fair.

ZESN said organizers failed to sufficiently publicize mobile registration,
leading to poor turnout, while the operation's success was also undermined
by insufficient funding, unqualified personnel and corruption among
traditional leaders.

The election monitoring group said only 80,000 people were registered,
adding that a large number of people displaced by the government's 2005 slum
clearance campaign known as Operation Murambatsvina were not served by the
mobile registrars.

ZESN said it had received no reports of violence or intimidation during the
exercise - but noted that members of the police, the Central Intelligence
Organization and the prison service were involved in the registration
process. The five-page report noted the presence of such authorities at
Gumbeze Primary School in Mount Darwin.

But ZESN faulted the political opposition for not mobilizing its supporters
to register.

Zimbabwe Election Support Network Monitoring Officer Denford Beremauro told
reporter Patience Rusere of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that the country is
poorly prepared to hold proper and professional elections in early 2008 as

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Karoi Goes Dry for 2 Months As Water Crisis Worsens

SW Radio Africa (London)

3 September 2007
Posted to the web 3 September 2007

Henry Makiwa

Most of Karoi has now gone for two months without water, prompting residents
to resort to digging up open wells and the nearby Karoi Dam for fresh water.

Karoi residents who spoke to SW Radio Africa Monday said a major health
crisis is looming in Zimbabwe's northwestern town. They said have been
reduced to fetching water from unprotected sources, and have to walk long
distances or drive to suburbs such as Chikangwe to get clean drinking water.

Joshua Zvavahera of Chiedza high-density suburb laid the blame entirely on
the government for giving absolute authority for the control of urban water
to the Zimbabwe National Water Authority (ZINWA). He said: "The crisis is
purely political. The government gave Zinwa authority and yet the
organization is incapable of ensuring the repair of the damaged water pipes
and does not possess the technical know-how to contain the crisis."

"We have now not had water since the end of June; and we are now being
forced to get water from the Zinwa water works, but that depends on the mood
of workers there at any particular day. We understand that a broken down
pump had not been repaired for several months, virtually cutting supplies to
all parts of the town," Zvavahera said.

Charles Nhamoinesu, another resident, confirmed the water shortages and
agreed a health disaster is looming in the town of Karoi, some 90km from
Harare on the road to Kariba.

He said: "We have already heard reports of cases of diarrhea from the local
clinic and we suspect it can only be because of the water crisis. People are
doing their laundry in the Karoi dam while others are digging up wells in
the swampy areas. The lack of electrical energy has also compounded issues
hence Zinwa's slow progress in resolving the situation," he added.

We were not able to get comment from Zinwa, the state-run board responsible
for water and sewer services. The parastatal has been under fire since
taking over water management in Harare and other urban areas whose water
supplies have become worse.

In Bulawayo the mayor and council held an emergency meeting Monday because
there is no water in most areas of the town. Schools open Tuesday and there
are fears of an outbreak of water-borne diseases at schools that house
hundreds of students, but have no water to flush toilets or prepare food

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Harare forced into U-turn on price cap

Financial Times

By Tony Hawkins in Harare

Published: September 3 2007 01:18 | Last updated: September 3 2007 01:18

Just 24 hours after announcing a blanket freeze on wages, salaries and
service charges, the Zimbabwean government at the weekend eased more of its
price controls by allowing the tourist industry to increase its rates by up
to 50 per cent.

The moves, which indicate growing indecision within President Robert Mugabe's
administration, follow a price freeze imposed at the end of June, which has
been partially relaxed in the past few weeks as supermarket shelves empty
and shortages worsen. The six-month wage freeze imposed on Friday bars
employers and service providers, including schools and doctors, from
increasing wages or fees.

The measures have been roundly condemned by the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade
Unions, whose secretary-general, Wellington Chibebe, accused the authorities
of "hypocrisy".

"There is no rationale in freezing salaries when only last week prices of
commodities were reviewed upwards. What hypocrisy," said Mr Chibebe.

Some businessmen believe the specific mention in the wage freeze regulations
of import duties and value-added tax could point to higher taxes in the
mini-budget to be presented in parliament on Thursday.

Hotels and restaurants, which were forced to cut tariffs substantially in
June, have been hard hit not just by the price controls but by the growing
shortages of products that are making it increasingly difficult to provide
meals and drinks to customers. Significantly, the 50 per cent increases in
tariffs applies only until the end of this month, suggesting that the
authorities accept that by then a further increase in rates will be

With the price freeze now entering its third month, shortages of basic
necessities are becoming increasingly acute.

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Bread shortage looms in Zimbabwe


    September 03 2007 at 01:28AM

Harare - Zimbabwe's government has failed to raise cash to pay up for
36 000 tons of imported wheat badly needed to ease a severe bread shortage,
a local state newspaper reported on Sunday.

Critics say President Robert Mugabe's government plunged the southern
African state into its worst economic crisis by seizing very productive
white-owned commercial farms and giving them to inexperienced black farmers
who have left the country needing food aid since 2000.

Zimbabweans have endured chronic bread shortages since then, but the
situation has become desperate in the last three months after a government
price-control blitz forced some private bakers to shut down.

On Sunday, the official Sunday Mail newspaper quoted Zimbabwe National
Security Minister Didymus Mutasa as saying that a consignment of wheat meant
to ease the latest bread shortages was stuck at a port in neighbouring
Mozambique because of an unpaid bill to an international grain supplier.

"More than 36 000 tons of wheat destined for Zimbabwe are stuck in
Beira, Mozambique as the country is battling to raise the full amount of
foreign currency to pay off an international grain supplier," it said.

The report did not mention the amount of cash involved or name the
grain supplier owed money by the government.

Mutasa - who heads a government committee responsible for food
procurement and distribution - was not available for further comment.

The Sunday Mail said Mutasa had told the weekly that Zimbabwe's wheat
supplies were desperate but it could not import all it needed because of
Western financial sanctions against Mugabe's government.

"As soon as we pay, a little amount is brought into the country. We
are still feeding from hand to mouth, as this is usually a week's supply,"
Mutasa said.

"We are, however, trying to ensure that that little is enough to give
the market sufficient bread for the moment," he said.

Zimbabwe normally needs 450 000 tons of wheat a year.

But agricultural experts say its own farmers are likely to produce
less than 80 000 tons in a crop due in October due to power shortages which
disrupted irrigation.

In June the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation and World
Food Programme said more than four million Zimbabweans, about a third of the
population, would need food aid this year, mostly the staple maize meal.

Food shortages are part of a wider economic crisis, also seen in the
world's highest inflation rate of over 7 600 percent, unemployment above 80
percent and rising poverty.

Mugabe, 83, and in power since independence from Britain says
Zimbabwe's economic crisis is a result of sabotage by Western opponents
seeking to oust him over his farm seizures.

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Mediation Talks Two Months Behind Schedule

SW Radio Africa (London)

3 September 2007
Posted to the web 3 September 2007

Tichaona Sibanda

South African President Thabo Mbeki insists talks between the ruling Zanu-PF
and MDC are still on track despite lack of evidence they are making any

Unconfirmed reports said the talks resumed in Pretoria on Saturday. MDC
policy coordinator Eddie Cross said while the talks are now two months
behind schedule, painful progress was being made.

"Given the public commitments of Mbeki to the process I think we can now
expect some sort of an agreement to emerge eventually. The slowness of the
talks suggests that progress is being made much to the chagrin of the Zanu-
PF team," Cross said.

But analysts insist there is nothing to show the talks have made any
progress. Solomon Chikohwero, an MDC activist based in Johannesburg, voiced
his concern at the lack of any updates from the Southern African Development
Community led talks.

"While our top officials having been saying they have trust in the Mbeki
talks, most grassroots members are of the opinion that nothing will come out
of the talks. The secrecy surrounding the talks makes it hard to believe
there is anything happening at all," Chikohwero said.

Mbeki expressed confidence on Saturday that next year's general elections
would be free and fair, despite fears to the contrary.

Zanu PF delegates, Patrick Chinamasa and Nicholas Goche, and the MDC team of
Welshman Ncube and Tendai Biti are believed to have met for further talks
under the chairmanship of Mbeki's mediation team led by Local Government
minister Sydney Mufamadi.

The two parties last met over a month just before the recent SADC meeting in
Lusaka, Zambia.

According to reports from South Africa, the latest round of talks will
centre on electoral laws and the need for Zimbabweans abroad to vote and the
delimitation of constituencies.

A source told us the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act,
which was left out of the original consolidated agenda, was back on the
table. It will be debated together with the Public Order and Security Act,
as well as broadcasting laws.

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Zim economy in 'free fall' - MDC

Chris McCall
Mon, 03 Sep 2007

Zimbabwe opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai warned on Saturday that the
"end game" for President Robert Mugabe was drawing near and that the
collapse of the country could be around the corner.

Speaking at the end of a weeklong visit to Mugabe's arch-foe Australia,
Tsvangirai called for concerted international pressure on the long-serving
ruler to respect democratic norms.

Zimbabwe's economic woes and humanitarian crisis could not continue forever,
he said, with an economy in "free fall", rampant inflation which he put at
12 000 percent, an unemployment rate of 85 percent and five to six million
Zimbabweans dependent on food aid.

Presidential and parliamentary elections scheduled for March were the
"starting point for resolving this crisis," he said, calling for
international pressure and monitoring to ensure they were free and fair.

"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," he

"The people of Zimbabwe are very much conscious of their dire straits. But
they are also conscious that the end game is probably near," he said.

"We are seconds away from a national humanitarian crisis unless we act now,"
he said. "We will stop at nothing until our vision of a new Zimbabwe is

Mugabe (83) has been in power without a break since the country, then known
as Rhodesia, won independence from Britain in 1980.

He has come in for a barrage of criticism over a brutal crackdown on the
opposition this year that saw Tsvangirai badly beaten in police custody.

Tsvangirai, the leader of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change, was
hosted by the Australian government and met top figures including Prime
Minister John Howard and Foreign Minister Alexander Downer.

Mugabe furious about the visit

Harare has been furious about the visit. Zimbabwe's state media called on
Wednesday for the government to sever ties with Australia, on the grounds it
was seeking to topple Mugabe.

Canberra in May ordered Australia's national cricket team not to proceed
with a tour of Zimbabwe this month. It has also cancelled the visas of
several students who were children of top Zimbabwe government figures.

But as he prepared to return to Zimbabwe, Tsvangirai said he had committed
no crime and did not believe any action would be taken against him when he
returned home on Sunday, although he admitted he would feel nervous on

He was badly beaten in police custody earlier this year after being arrested
with around 50 others while attempting to hold an anti-Mugabe rally.

Tsvangirai asked the international community to keep a clear focus on the
situation in Zimbabwe, and not to forget about its long-running crisis when
preoccupied with other trouble spots like Iraq.

"Zimbabwe must remain on the international agenda," he said.

Tsvangirai said he was "cautiously optimistic" President Thabo Mbeki of
South Africa would bring pressure to bear through an initiative of the
Southern African Development Community (Sadc), a regional grouping which
includes Zimbabwe, and also called for support from the African Union.

African leaders have in the past been criticised for lukewarm criticism of
Mugabe's government.

Harare should be pressured to adhere to Sadc protocols on elections in
March, he said.


Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

No progress or clarity on SA permits for Zimbabweans

By Lance Guma
03 September 2007.

Last week South Africa's Home Affairs Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula
raised the hopes of millions of Zimbabweans living in that country after
suggesting her government might consider granting them temporary residence
permits. In what many said was a tacit admission Zimbabwe's crisis has gone
out of hand, Mapisa-Nqakula told reporters the government needed to adopt a
new approach to deal with Zimbabwean citizens flocking into South Africa.
She said deportations were a waste of money as people were going back within
days of being kicked out of the country.

Her suggestions are now the talk on every Zimbabwean's lips. Nixon
Nyikadzino, an activist with the Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition SA chapter,
said the issue of permits was still 'water in the bottle' and a lot of
things were still unclear. He says temporary residence permits for example
may not necessarily entitle someone to work. There is talk over whether
people will have to go back to Zimbabwe and apply for the permits or not.
Nyikadzino says the Minister's remarks however seemed to be directed at
Zimbabweans already in South Africa.

Another sticking point is that South Africa already offers work and
residents permits to Zimbabweans who qualify under set criteria, so how
different would Mapisa-Nqakula's proposal be? Even the Zimbabwe Congress of
Trade Unions (ZCTU) was cautious in its welcoming of the proposal. ZCTU
Secretary General Wellington Chibhebhe told reporters they hoped the new
development would stop Zimbabweans being exploited by unscrupulous employers
who pay them below stipulated minimum wages. He however reiterated that the
SA government should not discriminate against those who did not have

But whether resident's permits will help tackle xenophobia, Nyikadzino
remains unconvinced. He says some South Africans blame Zimbabweans for
taking their jobs and this was now an attitude more than anything to do with
the law.

SW Radio Africa Zimbabwe news

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Shortages Dilemma as Children Return to School

Zimbabwe Standard (Harare)

2 September 2007
Posted to the web 3 September 2007

Kholwani Nyathi

The opening of the third school term could plunge the education system into
fresh crisis because of the continuing shortage of basic commodities.

In the aftermath of the government decree on prices, basic commodities -
including school uniforms and stationery - have disappeared from the shops.

Tertiary institutions have not been spared: the National University of
Science and Technology (NUST) in Bulawayo has postponed the start of its
first semester by a month, to 24 September.

A survey of government and private schools, especially boarding schools,
revealed that most were not prepared for re-opening as they could not
guarantee enough food for students.

They said delays by the Cabinet Taskforce on Price Monitoring and
Stabilisation in announcing a new school fees structure for the term had
stymied planning.

Last week, the Minister of Industry and International Trade, Obert Mpofu,
chairman of the taskforce, insisted the "government will announce the new
fees structure before the schools open because we cannot allow a situation
where education is priced beyond the reach of the people" .

But the Roman Catholic Church, which runs a number of mission schools across
the country, has warned it might be forced to close them down if it was
forced to charge sub-economic fees.

Although the Association of Trust Schools (ATS), representing a number of
private boarding schools, on Thursday said it would only be able to assess
the situation this week, parents have said they fear mass starvation.

They said children should only be allowed to return if schools were assured
they would be provided with basics such as maize-meal and meat.

The southern parts of the country have gone for a month without maize-meal
while the closure of private slaughterhouses during the price blitz caused a
severe shortage of beef in urban areas across the country.

In Matabeleland South, there are already serious doubts that Mzingwane High
School would reopen as usual: it closed its last term prematurely after
students rioted over food shortages.

In Bulawayo, the situation has been exacerbated by the water crisis, with
some suburbs going for a month without it. The city has 127 primary schools
and 47 secondary schools, all affected by the water cuts.

Council spokesperson, Pathisa Nyathi, said the United Nations Children's
Fund (UNICEF) had committed itself to supply schools with 5 000-litre water
tanks to alleviate the crisis.

But he admitted the council, battling against fuel and water bowser
shortages, was racing against time to acquire and install the tanks before

Education, Sport and Culture minister, Aeneas Chigwedere could not be
reached for comment as he was said to be out of his office last week.

Meanwhile Rutendo Mawere reports from Gweru that parents were worried that
they would not be able to buy anything for their children.

Jessica Mombeshora said she had tried almost every shop in the city centre
but had not found anything to buy.

"I am very worried about my two children who will be returning to Loreto in
a few days," she said. "I can't imagine how I am going to be able to get
supplementary food for them. It has always been the case that I buy them
tinned foods, drinks, cereals and snacks but these things have completely
disappeared from the shops."

Mavis Zano, a boarder, said she was afraid to go back to school without any
food. "Most boarding schools have never been able to provide adequately for
boarders, even under normal circumstances," she moaned. "Now, with the
current scarcity of food, we will face a double tragedy and we are likely to

Some parents and schoolchildren said chances were high the children would
starve. "Even the schools may not be able to source enough food for our
children," said Onias Zhanje. "There is no maize-meal, sugar, milk, meat,
beans, rice, eggs, bread and several other things that boarding schools
require to function normally."

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Mugabe betrays Nkomo, says Bulawayo residents chief

3rd Sep 2007 17:27 GMT

By Ian Nhuka

BULAWAYO - President Robert Mugabe's lethargy in dealing with the
deepening water crisis in Bulawayo represents his government's general
marginalisation of Matabeleland region, Winos Dube, head of the Bulawayo
United Residents' Association has said.

In a stinging attack as the water crisis in the city worsens, Dube said
by failing to implement long term projects to provide a reliable source of
water for the city, President Mugabe is going against a commitment he made
eight years ago that the death of former vice-president, Joshua Nkomo will
not result in the abandonment of Matabeleland.

"Bulawayo residents feel that government is neglecting them.  In fact they
are angry," Dube blasted. "Speaking during the burial of Nkomo on July, 5,
1999, President Mugabe said the death of his former vice-president will not
mean government will abandon us. But Bulawayo residents feel what is
happening today is contrary to that

Mugabe usually uses Nkomo's influence to call for unity between his
dominant Shona tribe with his former vice-president's Ndebele minority in

Mugabe and Nkomo signed the Unity Accord in December 1987, putting an end to
a bloody tribal conflict pitting the then Shona-dominated army on one hand
and remnants of Nkomo's liberation war army on the other.

Independent estimates are that up to 20 000 Ndebele civilians were
killed in the conflict. But Mugabe's regime's failure to address the
prevailing water crisis in Bulawayo has raised fresh ethnic tensions with
the Ndebele alleging, that the government wants to strangle life out of the
country's second largest city.

Bulawayo is facing one of its worst water crises in history, which has
seen most high-density suburbs going for up to three weeks without running

Resulting from the water shortage, some residents are now selling the liquid
to desperate neighbours.
Over the years, residents have called upon the government to implement the
Matabeleland Zambezi Water Project, which seeks to draw water from the
Zambezi River, to Bulawayo.

However, work on the project remains largely on the drawing board.
Critics accuse Mugabe of only mentioning his government's commitment to the
project, during campaigns ahead of major elections.

Only last week, the Minister of Water and Infrastructure Development,
Munacho Mutezo, touched off a bitter controversy when he said government
would intervene in the crisis, only after Bulawayo City Council allows the
Zimbabwe National Water Authority, a parastatal to takeover water
distribution in the thirsty city of 1,5 million people.

Mutezo later made an about turn on that outburst after pressure from
his cabinet colleagues and powerful political figures from Matabeleland.
Dube said the local authority has asked the government to declare Bulawayo a
water shortage area, but the call has not been acted upon.

The declaration will allow other institutions such as non-governmental
organisations to mobilise resources to ease the water crisis. Only
President Mugabe has the authority to make such a declaration.
"The formal request for this declaration was made months ago, but there has
been no action on the other side.  This means that the crisis will further
deteriorate.  I do not know when they want to act," Dube said.

"But Bulawayo residents are also Zimbabwean citizens.  We deserve equal
treatment.  Who will blame us if some of us say that we are being
discriminated against?" Bulawayo draws its water from five dams - Lower
Ncema, Upper Ncema, Umzingwane, Inyankuni and Insiza but the first three
have been decommissioned after they dried up. Water levels in the remaining
two are also running low with projections that Inyankuni will be dry by

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Child Migrants Seek a Better Life in South Africa

UN Integrated Regional Information Networks

3 September 2007
Posted to the web 3 September 2007


He is only a teenager, but he is already a seasoned border jumper. Dressed
in a torn t-shirt and blue work trousers, Robert, 16, (not his real name)
told IRIN he had crossed the border from Zimbabwe four times since he first
decided to come to South Africa in January this year.

He was arrested and deported for the first time late last month, but
returned to the South African border town of Musina, in Limpopo Province,
within a day and said he would only stay in Zimbabwe "when I have three
things: money, food and schooling".

An orphan from Zimbabwe's south eastern province Masvingo , Robert dropped
out of school when he was ten years old to become the sole breadwinner for
his grandmother and an elder sister. He returned home earlier this year to
take food and money to them.

About one in five Zimbabweans between the ages of 15 and 49 are infected
with HIV/AIDS, according to UNAIDS, which has resulted in growing numbers of
child-headed households following the death of parents.

At night Robert sleeps at Musina's taxi rank and during the day searches for
casual work washing taxis or unloading goods from trucks at trading stores;
on a good day he earns R25 (US$3.50). Other child migrants are said to sleep
in abandoned houses at Musina's now defunct copper mine.

During his most recent border crossing the teenager met three other boys his
age, but "they went on to Johannesburg, because they have relatives there
they can stay with," Robert said.

Hungry and tired, Robert arrived at the Children's Resource Centre, a day
facility in Musina's Extension Two township that cares for vulnerable
children from both South Africa and Zimbabwe, looking for a meal.

"They walk or take the bus to the border after earning money from piece jobs
[in Zimbabwe], and the reason they come here [South Africa] is because they
are hungry," the centre's coordinator, Ennie Nelushi, told IRIN.

Day care centre for child migrants

She said more than 500 unaccompanied children from Zimbabwe had visited the
centre since it opened three years ago. The facility provides food and
water, life-skills training, like HIV/AIDS education, as well as rape and
trauma counselling and sporting activities.

Nelushi said the centre did not offer overnight accommodation or formal
education, and contact was often lost because "children get arrested and
deported, and the police don't inform us".

Staff from the centre routinely look for child migrants in Musina as part of
their outreach programme, picking up children as young as ten from as far
away as the Zimbabwean capital, Harare, and the eastern city of Mutare, who
have run the gauntlet of trafficking gangs at the border, known as
"magumaguma" (scavengers).

The magumaguma ferry undocumented migrants across the border for a fee, said
to be about R1,500 ($140), although the migrants risk robbery and rape from
those who they have paid them for the "service", while other illegal
migrants travelling across the border independently are targetted by the

"Sometimes children have arrived naked [at the centre] after being robbed by
gangs, who, if they [migrants] do not have money, take their clothes and
gang-rape the girls," Nelushi said.

Zimbabwe's official inflation rate is more than 7,600 percent - the world
highest - and shortages of food and fuel are commonplace, while unemployment
is estimated at more than 80 percent.

The Food and Agriculture Organisation and the UN World Food Programme (WFP)
issued a joint report on Zimbabwe's food security in June, predicting that
"people at risk [of severe food shortages] will peak at 4.1 million in the
first three months of 2008 - more than a third of Zimbabwe's estimated
population of 11.8 million."

It is estimated that since 2000 about a quarter of the population, or three
million people, have left the country for neighbouring states, such as South
Africa and Botswana, or further afield for Britain and the United States.

Deportations of unaccompanied children common

According to South Africa's constitution and the Child Care Act of 1983,
unaccompanied minors must be housed in a place of safety while their
personal circumstances are investigated by a social worker, and a Children's
Court inquiry opened, conducted and finalised.

They also cannot be repatriated across international borders, unless
relatives or legal guardians have been traced to ensure the child is handed
into their custody on arrival.

Nick van der Vyver, programme manager of the reception centre run by the
International Organisation for Migration (IOM) in the Zimbabwean border town
of Beitbridge, told IRIN that South Africa did not have enough places of
safety for children, but 40 beds were set aside for unaccompanied children
at the IOM's Child Care Centre, run by the Zimbabwean government's social
services department with the assistance of Save the Children (Norway).

"We agreed that we will take them here and look after them while the
reunification process is done," Van Der Vyver said. The process was often
difficult because "children are being told by the people taking them over
the border not to say anything, and certainly do not say that you are a
Zimbabwean, because as soon as you say that you can be deported, so a lot of
them just sit there and say nothing."

He said the Child Care Centre had processed "plenty of them [children]",
although "16- and 17-year-olds might look like they are 18 and will claim
they are when asked by the [Zimbabwean] police [at the reception centre]. As
they don't have any documents, it is difficult for the police to verify
their ages."

The youngest unaccompanied child received at the IOM centre, which opened on
31 May 2006, was a four-month-old baby separated from its mother when police
rounded up undocumented migrants in South Africa and the mother evaded

Another woman who had been arrested "saw that no one was taking care of this
baby and realised you can't just leave a baby like that, and started looking
after it. She told the [South African] police it was not her baby, but they
did not believe her and deported her and the baby," Van Der Vyver told IRIN.

The Child Care Centre tracked down the mother of the child and reunited

Although economic concerns forced many children to go to South Africa, he
said there were often more unaccompanied minors at the Beitbridge reception
centre during the school holidays because parents working in South Africa
paid people to smuggle their children across, and those intercepted would
end up at the facility.

Mandla Motshweni, programme manager of the Pretoria-based Save the Children
(UK), an international child welfare organisation, said they were
investigating the plight of Zimbabwean child migrants, particularly in
Limpopo province, and were about to release a report on their findings.

He said one of the recommendations would be the establishment of a place of
safety in Musina, and a government building had already been identified for
this purpose by the organisation and the relevant local authorities.

South Africa's Home Affairs Department did not respond to questions posed by

[ This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations ]

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Rautenbach turns to coal mining in Zimbabwe


Controversial businessman Billy Rautenbach is trying to revive the fortunes
of struggling Zimbabwean coal producer, Hwange Colliery Company after he and
CAMEC ran into difficulties in the DRC.

Author: Rodrick Mukumbira
Posted:  Monday , 03 Sep 2007


After being declared persona non grata in the Democratic Republic of Congo
(DRC), with South Africa and Interpol after his neck and one of the
companies he is associated with -  London-listed Central African Mining &
Exploration Company (CAMEC)  - having had its DRC mining licences withdrawn,
controversial businessman Billy Rautenbach has found solace back home in
Zimbabwe where he is now trying to revive the dwindling fortunes of LSE, ZSE
and JSE quoted coal miner Hwange Colliery Company.

Newspapers in Zimbabwe still referred to Rautenbach as a "mining magnate"
last week, oblivious of the fact that the DRC was his major hunting ground,
when they announced that he has struck a deal with the coal miner aimed at
increasing production at the struggling company.

In 2006, Hwange Colliery experienced a 32 percent decrease in production.
The company currently produces 197,300 tons of coal at a time when the rest
of the country requires 380,000 tons per month.

Zimbabwe is facing acute coal shortages that have resulted in reduced
electricity generation at coal-powered plants, triggering blackouts that
have grossly affected industrial output.

But it is a combination of misfortunes at Hwange, a company that is
controlled by the Zimbabwe government and British property mogul, Nicholas
van Hoogstraten. Output has significantly decreased due to ageing equipment,
lack of foreign currency, and power and fuel shortages.

With Rautenbach coming in, it is envisaged that coal output will increase
while the company benefits from new equipment.

The weekly Financial Gazette reported last week that Rautenbach, who runs
probably the biggest haulage transport company in the country, which
recently imported 800 trucks, has already moved earthmoving equipment - a
Caterpillar front-end loaders - onto a coal claim owned by Hwange Colliery.

It quoted Hwange Colliery's managing director Fred Moyo confirming the deal
but denying speculation that Rautenbach, who counts President Robert Mugabe
among his associates, was preparing himself to take up shares in the

"He is not investing in the sense of buying shares," Moyo was quoted as
saying. "Billy, together with three other guys had been providing contract
mining at the colliery in the last nine months. It is a contract mining
agreement (that we will utilise) while we are organising our own equipment."

Hwange Colliery reportedly requires US$60 million to replace its ageing
equipment before increasing production.

Rautenbach owns a 20 percent shareholder in AIM-quoted CAMEC following
transactions in 2006 when he apparently sold mining concessions 467 and 469
(also known as C19 & C21) in Katanga Province, and 50 percent of the
cobalt-rich Mukondo operation to CAMEC for stock.

He is wanted in South Africa on dozens of criminal charges. In a July decree
that declared him persona non grata, the DRC said it "acknowledges that the
South African judicial authorities have been looking for you, to answer for
cases of fraud, thefts, corruptions, violations of commercial laws, etc".

Rautenbach, according to a DRC government statement, "had amassed a large
number of mineral and other assets in the DRC during the civil war and
subsequently". The Rautenbach/CAMEC assets were first obtained during the
DRC's 1997-2003 war, under the Zimbabwe military's Operation Sovereign
Legitimacy (Osleg) in which over four million people died of "unnatural

Last week, the DRC revoked CAMEC and Savannah Mining's copper and cobalt
mining licences in Katanga, which reverted to Gecamines, the state-owned
mining company, a day after the company offered to buy Canadian company
Katanga Mining Ltd for C$1.52 billion.

Pressure on CAMEC and Rautenbach started building in early July when CAMEC
announced a "bid" for the 78 percent CAMEC does not already hold in Katanga
Mining, with Gecamines saying at that time that it had sought legal advice
on whether its contracts with Katanga Mining would be affected by a proposed
takeover by CAMEC.

The DRC launched a review of around 60 mining contracts in June aimed at
ensuring the deals are legal and fair.

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Zimbabwe - a deep cancer

Radio Netherlands

by Eric Beauchemin


Zimbabwe used to be the breadbasket of southern
Author's note: I travelled to Zimbabwe undercover because of the severe restrictions the government places on foreign journalists. Most of the people I spoke to did so anonymously for fear of reprisals by the authorities.
Africa. Today it cannot feed itself. It has the world's highest inflation rate. According to the Zimbabwean government it's over 1000 percent. Unofficially it's said to be over twice as high.80 percent of the population is unemployed. It also has the lowest life expectancy in the world. It's a state teetering on the brink of collapse.

The demise of Zimbabwe is most evident in the public health system, which used to be one of the best in Africa. Mpilo is one of the two main hospitals in the southern city of Bulawayo, Zimbabwe's second largest city. The wards are rundown, the equipment outdated. Debra Mabunda, a nurse at a nearby institution, says:

Deborah Mabunda

Deborah Mabunda

"A lot of patients are being turned away from hospitals, not because they cannot be accommodated but because there is no treatment. There are no drugs and no personnel."

Staff morale has fallen to an all-time low. According to another nurse, personnel spend most of their time discussing where to purchase such basic items as sugar and mealie-meal, the staple food. More and more doctors and nurses are emigrating, joining a huge exodus from the country. It is estimated that four million Zimbabweans, out of a population of 15 million, have left in search of work and a better future.

A local surgeon paints an even grimmer picture of the state of health care. Even ambulances, he says, are no longer able to go out to pick up patients because of fuel shortages.

"Medical wards are empty. How much further will it take things to collapse completely? In one sense, it's a bit impossible to answer. In another sense, it's already collapsed."

The consequences of the failures of the health system and other government-run institutions are being felt most acutely by the most vulnerable: children. 16-year-old Fujia is an orphan. One evening, when she was leaving church, she was attacked by a group of six young men posing as police officers and gang raped. She finally managed to escape, and a motorist took her to the police. They made her wait for hours but since they were short-staffed, they sent her home, telling her not to wash herself. They were supposed to pick her up the following morning, but they didn't have a vehicle. So she had to walk 1.5 kilometres on her own to the hospital.

"I was feeling sick," she says. "My thighs were sore and my feet were swollen. I was feeling pain. When I got to the hospital, the doctor examined me and took some specimens from my private parts, and then the doctor ordered some medication. But there were no drugs at the hospital. They also took some blood specimens. The police were supposed to go with me to get the results but nobody came."

Fujia eventually discovered that she had syphilis and probably also has AIDS. She wanted an abortion, but she wasn't able to get the drugs. She's now four months' pregnant with a child she doesn't want. "I'm pregnant when I am so small, and I have no one to look after me. If I were to give birth to this child, how I'm going to look after this child without any support from anyone?"

The start of the collapse
When Zimbabwe achieved independence in 1980, it was a beacon for other nations in the region. President Robert Mugabe and his ZANU-PF party were going to lead the country to a more prosperous future, free of discrimination.

But things started going radically wrong in the late 1990s, when the government decided to give compensation to the war veterans of what's known in Zimbabwe as the 'liberation war'.

The government had no funds to pay for the compensation. The result, says Dr Eric Bloch, an economist and financial consultant, "was that in four hours, the Zimbabwean dollar crashed 75 percent. That was the first trigger to the collapse."

Land invasions
A few months later, the situation deteriorated even further, and people went out onto the streets to protest against hikes in food prices.

To placate people, President Mugabe's government approved the Land Acquisition Act, giving huge parcels of land to the black majority. But in fact, the government, behind the scenes, had already been encouraging the war veterans to illegally invade farm land.

The invasions destroyed the foundation of the Zimbabwean economy: agriculture. Most of the land did not go to poor peasants. Instead it was given to Mugabe's cronies.

The Zimbabwean dollar has continued to plummet and foreign currency is in very short supply. For businesses, the consequences have been disastrous. According to a local businessman, "you've living from hand to mouth on a day-to-day basis. I think that a lot of businesses that relied on foreign currency just to remain in trade are now going to three-day weeks." The vast majority today lives in absolute poverty.

Mary Ndlovu

Mary Ndlovu

All sectors of Zimbabwean society have been affected by the collapse, including the judiciary. The government is deliberately trying to undermine the judiciary and it is appointing judges who will toe the government line, says Mary Ndlovu, a human rights activist.

"We've even had violence against specific members of the judiciary, mainly from government-affiliated institutions such as war vets or youth militia, who have actually invaded courtrooms."

A recent report highlighted the impact the growing chaos is having in the penal system, says Ndlovu. "Most of the juveniles who come to court as offenders are not represented by anybody. 15-year-olds are being sentenced to maximum prison with adults in the same cell, where they are brutalised and traumatised. This is horrifying. It's totally unacceptable. Yet nobody seems to be bothered."

State failure
Despite the collapse, there is little violence or anarchy on the streets, which makes Zimbabwe look quite different from other failed states such as Somalia or the Democratic Republic of Congo. But looks can be deceptive, says Paul Temba Nyathi of the opposition MDC party.

"Zimbabwe started off extremely well. We inherited an economy, which functioned reasonably well. We have a highly educated population. The skills were there. So we have no reason to be where we are at the moment."

Command agriculture: Operation Taguta, photo courtesy of Solidarity Peace Trust

Command agriculture: Operation Taguta and similar interventions have had a dramatic impact. (Photo courtesy of Solidarity Peace Trust)

How much further Zimbabwe will sink is anybody's guess. The opposition MDC party like the rest of Zimbabwean society is divided and unable to challenge the rule of President Mugabe's ZANU-PF party.

Foreign countries, too, have been powerless to stop the nation from going from being the breadbasket of southern Africa to one of the world's basket cases.

Depressing as it may seem, in some cases, state failure may simply be inevitable. But that's scant consolation for the victims of Zimbabwe's demise.

According to a local human rights activist:

"Robert Mugabe is doing everything he can to remain in power, including destroying the lives and livelihoods and well-being of his own nation. And no one really knows what to do about it."


Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Beware the Big-Man syndrome

Mens News Daily

September 3, 2007 at 3:58 am

By Duncan du Bois

As Africa's history shows, Big Man-type rule invariably accedes to power
under such conditions, writes DUNCAN DU BOIS

The solidarity shown by SADC leaders with the tyrant Robert Mugabe at the
recent SADC summit in Lusaka not only affirmed the stricken historical path
Africa continues to tread, but also signalled that South Africa is
positioned to experience the same fate.

Fifty years have passed since Ghana's independence in 1957 precipitated the
independence of the rest of the continent. Starting with Ghana, a pattern of
socio-economic decline has occurred that has been repeated in every African
state except Botswana.

Historian Paul Johnson credits the professional politician with this ruin.
From the outset the professional politician's view of the prospect of
independence was quite different from that of the masses. They looked
forward to justice and upliftment, while he saw the new political
dispensation as a platform for personal enrichment. In the years since 1960,
the professional politician has had a field day. Independence has come to
mean the right to elect (and re-elect) politicians whose promises have
impoverished the masses.

Inherent in this situation are what Johnson calls "two fatal fallacies". The
first is that all economic problems can be solved by political means.

"What politics [such as colonialism] had done, politics could undo." Kwame
Nkrumah of Ghana embraced this wholeheartedly. "African unity is above all a
political kingdom which can be gained only by political means," he stated in
May 1963 (Modern Times). The second fallacy is what Johnson terms the
charismatic personality also called the Big Man. By propagating the view
that his role in the creation of Ghana had been so prodigious, Nkrumah
encouraged his supporters to call him "the Redeemer". By 1961, the Redeemer
had exalted himself to the point where his utterances became holy writ.

"No African," he said, "can have an opinion that differs from mine." From
him, other African leaders took their cue. Julius Nyerere of Tanzania was
called "Teacher", Hastings Banda of Malawi was known as "Conqueror" or
"Saviour". Idi Amin of Uganda was called "Big Daddy", while Joseph Mobutu of
Congo preferred the ideology of "Mobutuism" to cultism.

The combination of the politicised economy and the entrenched, professional
politician ring-fenced by an elite of praise singers ensured that Ghana's
economy and constitutionality nose-dived. In 1966, the Redeemer was toppled
by a military coup. It was the only way to end his despotism since he had
removed all constitutional means of doing so.

Sadly, the object lessons of Ghana's demise have been studiously ignored by
the rest of the continent. That same pattern of ruin and dissolution has
been repeated again and again. Yet Ghana's experience under Nkrumah
continues to highlight the reasons upliftment eludes Africa. Of course,
nowadays, the rhetoric has changed. For the benefit of foreign donors and
investors the new political aristocracy routinely extols the virtues of
democracy and the rule of law. But as the Lusaka summit showed, the current
political elite is as flawed as that of Nkrumah's generation.

Instead of breaking with Mugabe because of his despotic destruction of
Zimbabwe, SADC leaders, shamefully led by Thabo Mbeki of South Africa,
embraced him. By that single act they demonstrated that they pay lip service
to democracy and human rights, that they prioritise the survival of their
political caste system above the desperate plight of millions of their
fellow Africans who Mugabe has turned into refugees and that, as a group,
they are as detached from their fellow Africans as Nkrumah and the earlier
elites were.

Despite the faults of South Africa's past - the elite political caste system
developed by the National Party and the inequalities of apartheid -
improvements in service delivery were realised, hospitals were staffed and
functioned, the gap between rich and poor was less, standards were
maintained and skills were nurtured. The same cannot be said of South Africa
after 13 years of African National Congress rule.

The economy is increasingly politicised, the electorate is progressively
disillusioned with service delivery and its costs, while the political elite
is ring-fenced against censure. Relishing these developments are the
political ambitions of a cultist, Big Man leader in the form of Jacob Zuma.

Couched in terms of employment equity and empowerment, and bolstered by
socialist ideology, economic policy today is far more politicised than under
apartheid. The new political czars think that a fast-tracked set of black
multi-millionaires can anchor the economy as effectively as the Raymond
Ackermans whose wealth generation is the product of a lifetime of hard work
and enterprise.

Despite a skills shortage, the new czars sanction policies which result in
the emigration of white skills. Although food security is under dire threat,
they persist with land handovers and claims, which further marginalise
agricultural output and prospects.

Dysfunctional state departments awash with fraud and corruption inevitably
mean poor to non-existent service delivery. Yet nobody is sacked for
incompetence. In many areas of the country cronyism rules. Democracy is only
about the duty to re-elect the ruling party.

As Africa's history shows, Big Man-type rule invariably accedes to power
under such conditions. As Mbeki's tenure limps to its end, Zuma has all the
right credentials for the part of Big Man ruler. Only three things stand in
his way: the independence of the courts, a vigorous press and the Democratic
Alliance. The weakening or loss of any one of those will cripple the others.
Quo vadis, South Africa?

. Published with permission from the writer. Duncan Du Bois is a Durban
Metro Democratic Alliance ward councillor. He writes in his private

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Funny thing happened at fuel queue the other day

New Zimbabwe

By Lenox Mhlanga
Last updated: 08/31/2007 02:54:09
"WHAT'S news in Zimbabwe nowadays if one might pose a breathtakingly idiotic

It surely must be the fuel shortage. Actually, to call it a shortage is an
understatement. It should be termed a total disappearance of a petroleum
by-product. Fuel has become so scarce that some of us have difficulties in
imagining what it looked or smelt like.

Scattered all over, either hidden or in full view, are once fashionable and
not so fashionable vehicles forging a very sedentary existence in splendid
abandonment. Some of these have been turned into storage facilities or, for
the more enterprising ones, chicken coops. I know of a gentleman who turned
his once impressive SUV into a tuck shop. Unfortunately, 'Operation Dzikisai'
(Lower the prices) has put paid to that SME (Small to Medium Enterprise).

Waiting in line for the rare commodity (fuel that is) has become such a
national pastime that deserves to be declared a tourist attraction in time
for the 2010 World Cup. So much time is been spent either waiting to getting
your car the mandatory 20 litres or running around looking for a garage that
happens to have a couple of litres available which translates to none.

The best option is to approach Ojeki in the lucrative black market. Though
you have to pay through your nose, their sources never run dry. It's never
the time and place to start asking dodgy questions when you are around them.
Just get your share and get the hell out.

Did I mention the petrol attendant? Now here is one occupation that has
become extinct like a dodo. In actual fact, we seem to have forgotten why
fuel stations were constructed in the first place. Those that are still open
sell firewood (because there is no electricity most of the time) or some
snacks in the form of 'maputi' (maize popcorn) and 'freezits' because there
is no bread, cool drinks, milk.the whole lot!

There was a time when petrol attendants were catapulted up the food chain to
the level of God if their garage happened to have a few litres of motion
lotion. The best gift that your ancestors would have ever given you would be
a petrol attendant rooted somewhere in the family tree. At the time, if you
were to ask a group of bright pupils what they wanted to be when they grew
up, becoming a petrol attendant would be the most likely answer.

These guys gave 'corruption' a very bad name. Fuel would appear and
disappear at their bidding through the blatant solicitation for bribes. But
hey, wasn't it corruption that got us here in the first place? When you were
told there was no fuel, you had to accept the attendant's word even if he
happened to open up the pumps for the lady with a killer smile seconds

"But, but, but...!" you would howl.

"Read my lips s'bali, ngithe akula juice, (no petrol)!"

It was then that you wished you had an instant a sex-change operation, if
only to obtain five litres to get you from Point A to point B. Never mind
the fact that your prized possession wouldn't look out of place at the
Museum of Classic Antiquities.

We used to watch how drivers of all classes, hue, colour and occupation in
life, from chief executives to messengers, would grovel at the feet of the
petrol attendant. Now things have shifted, with the only service station
servicing Bulawayo and its environs owned by the National Oil Company of
Zimbabwe (NOCZIM).

The queue here is on the verge of getting in the Guinness Book of Records in
terms of its length and the amount of time people have stuck it out just to
get the mandatory 20 litres. Ironically, this is the same amount of fuel
that one uses to get from the end of the queue to the station. Logic tells
me that those who choose to line up are doomed to a lifetime of queuing.

Down at the petrol queue chief executives are thrust into the fray with
commuter omnibus drivers and - horror of horrors - their repugnant touts!
While CEOs get that rare opportunity to learn how one can siphon a fuel tank
in ten seconds flat, the commuter drivers find out that in this country,
having lots of money doesn't matter anymore. There is hardly anything to buy
anyway. The touts use the whole spectacle to make an extra buck pushing cars
along the queue.

Under normal circumstances, downstream industries such as mobile pubs and
barbeques would have sprouted at these queues but then, you guessed it,
there is a crippling beer and meat shortage as well. At least youths who are
usually idle get to earn a few bob dozing in the Chefu's car.

In China, they solved the transport problem ages ago. They graduated to the
two-wheeled wonder, the bicycle. Not only were bicycles cheap, they are
environmentally friendly and good for the pot-belly. The problem is that the
cost of a bicycle is roughly a quarter of that of a very cheap 'sikorokoro'

Then there is the major challenge of dealing with the egos of those who are
forced to ditch that conspicuous symbol of status, the posh car. Some would
rather push the car to work if only for the rest of us to see that they
belong to the WaBenzi tribe! Makes one wish those scientists who are working
on developing engines that run on water would get a move on. Unfortunately,
we would still face problems with that potential alternative source of
energy. Yes, you guessed it again; no water!

Let us forget about the fuel shortage for a while and dwell on the one where
the pubs literally ran dry. It was most painful because drinkers had to make
drastic adjustments in as far as choice and quantity were concerned. I would
be the last to go on a fishing expedition for conspiracy theories regarding
the reasons why but I can tell you this, it caught all of us with our
proverbial pants down including the brewers. I say so because one of my
retinue of friends who works for Natbrew (now called Delta) was there with
the rest of us sharing the horror of having to make do with their Eagle
brand, their cheapest. We call it 'Jatropha' after the famous plant that is
supposed to save us from our fuel woes by producing bio-diesel.

In between winces (phela, drinking Jatropha is like taking 'isihaqa', a very
bitter medicine made from the bark of a Marula tree), the chap described how
they are failing to meet demand because beer had become just too cheap. Even
commuter omnibus touts sebehamba begone ama-quarts! We all watched with
incredulity as beer halls, bars and bottle stores quickly ran out of the
popular brands until we were left with the inevitable option of taking
'intsiri' - the hot stuff.

Others went back to their roots opting for 'sand and tonic', opaque beer,
amasese phela, mfowethu! Faced with the prospect of consuming 'diesel'
(Castle Lager) only to wake up nursing the mother of all hangovers, I
downgraded to drinking plain old 'amanzi' much to wild celebrations by
religious denominations the world over. The problem was that water is in
short supply too! Here is Bulawayo we get it twice a week - if you are one
of the lucky ones. Granted, the dangers of some of us staying sober for more
than twenty four hours, might present grave security concerns if you catch
my drift.

Lenox Mhlanga is a New columnist. His column is published here
every Friday. You can contact him through e-mail address:

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

An Exercise in Futility, MDC Says of Zimbabwe's New Price Policy


By James Butty
Washington, D.C.
03 September 2007

The Zimbabwe government over the weekend announced a relaxation of its price
control policy by allowing hotels, restaurants and bars to raise their rates
by up to 50 cent. State media said the new policy was aimed at controlling
Zimbabwe's skyrocketing inflation.

Nelson Chamissa is spokesman for the Morgan Tsvangirai faction of the
opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC). He told VOA the new policy
is a little too late for the suffering people of Zimbabwe.

"What we seem to see is a continuation of policy flip-flopping on the part
of the regime which is clearly indicative of how desperate and how bankrupt
this regime has become. They introduced a price freeze and suddenly
discovered that it doesn't work because in real speaking the whole country
is dry. The water is not there. Restaurants, you'll find that people are not
eating. We are on the verge of a very catastrophic situation here. And so
after realizing, I think the regime is trying to remedy their own mistake.
But it's too late because you can't have a mistake to correct another
mistake," he said.

The government controlled Herald newspaper said the new prices would be
valid until September 30 this year.

Chamissa said the government does not deserve any credit because it is
responsible for the economic meltdown in Zimbabwe.

"They are the authors of this crisis. It is a crisis of governing. So what
they are trying to do is to do some patch working approach, which is not
going to work. This economy does not want piece meal measures; this economy
does not want half-hearted measures; this economy requires a holistic
approach, particularly the issue of governance. And until and unless we have
solved the political equation, it's going to be an exercise in futility,"
Chamissa said.

Fast food takeouts, bars, and nightclubs are reportedly included in the list
of the new prices. Chamissa said ordinary Zimbabweans would continue to

"The ordinary Zimbabweans are suffering already because now you can't find
food at normal outlets. The shelves are empty because the food is now
available on the black market at high prices. So the whole thing is going to
at the end of the day affect the workers, the peasants, the impoverish of
our society, the poor of the poor," Chamissa said.

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Zimbabweans learn to live with shortages

Daily News, Tanzania

Daily News; Tuesday,September 04, 2007

AN ACUTE shortage of basic commodities persists throughout Zimbabwe despite
government efforts to diffuse a stand off with manufacturers and
distributors over pricing. Shop shelves remain empty as Zimbabweans go
without virtually everything. The supply of beef, chicken, milk, sugar,
bread to name a few, is rare, a situation blamed largely on the government
intervention late last June to control the prices of goods and services
against unilateral increases by unscrupulous traders.

Under the Operation Reduce Price, a Task Force comprising cabinet ministers
fixes prices for all basic commodities, which are enforced by crack units of
inspectors, police and security agents.

But immediately after the intervention, commodities disappeared from shelves
in supermarkets throughout the country as manufacturers and distributors
boycotted the government prices, saying they did not consider production
costs and Zimbabwe's hyperinflation.

The government maintains the prices charged before the interventions were
unjustified and could have been machination by detractors using
manufacturers and wholesalers to whip up social tension.
The Minister of Industry and International Trade, Mr Obert Mpofu, said the
government could not sit back and watch as consumers were being ripped off
by unscrupulous suppliers.

"The prices were being increased by the hour and the margins charged were
incredibly high," he explained.

The Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries (CZI) Chief Executive, Mr Joseph
Malaba, said the government-fixed prices were being resisted because the
business community was initially not involved in determining them. Mr Malaba
could not rule out the sabotage claims but said the confederation was not
aware of any such acts by its members.

"Some manufacturers are not members of our organization. our members are
governed by a strict code of ethics," he said.

Mr Mpofu admitted that although the new prices set by the task force, which
he chairs, are affordable, the move had made commodities unavailable. He
maintained, however, that the intervention was prompted by "unscrupulous
actors and black marketers, who don't want to use known costing formula."

To mitigate the situation, the government has formed a sub-committee of the
task force with members from commerce, agriculture, the hospitality industry
and mining.

"We are now releasing new prices, which are agreed on by all parties," Mr
Mpofu said, adding that the enforcement crack units would patrol the streets
to clean up defaulters. Close to ten thousand traders, manufacturers and
service providers, including commuter bus operators, have been fined or
jailed for violating the government prices and hoarding commodities.

Three policemen were charged in court last week for extorting 180 million
Zimbabwean dollars from a fuel trader they had found hoarding the commodity.
The price monitoring task force recently approved upward review of prices of
several commodities and services, including mobile phone tariffs, train and
air fares, foodstuffs, farming inputs and soap.

CZI has welcomed the decision to involve industry representatives in
reviewing prices. "We are encouraged by the emerging partnership. The
government should involve the private sector in decision making because it
is a key economic player," said CEO Malaba.

However, basic commodities are still missing on supermarket shelves,
suggesting that the price reviews may not be enough to support viable
production. The supply of bread, sugar, chicken and cooking oil is slowly
picking up but the small quantities delivered to supermarkets are wiped out
instantly leaving winding queues of desperate consumers, who panic-buy to
beat the erratic supply.

Normal supply of beef, which is an essential commodity, is yet to resume.
The government last week re-licensed 42 private abattoirs throughout the
country to augment the beleaguered state-run Cold Storage Company.

According to the trade minister, the cabinet task force is a temporary
regulator, which would be replaced by a National Incomes and Price
Commission run by a secretariat of professionals.

Mr Mpofu admits that it will take time for supply to stabilize because
industrial production is undermined by shortage of foreign currency needed
to import raw materials and spare parts.

The imposition of sanctions means that manufacturers have to pay upfront for
the imports. This has seriously limited production capacity utilization,
which the minister estimates at 50 per cent but CZI puts at 33.8 per cent.
"We are the only country in the region, which does not receive balance of
payments support or aid from donors," laments Mr Mpofu.

To beat the sanctions, Zimbabwe has been shopping for machinery, industrial
raw materials and consumer goods from China, India, Iran, Indonesia,
Pakistan and Malaysia under the 'Look East' policy, which Mr Mpofu says has
kept the local industry going.

"Our industry is strong and vibrant despite the shortage of foreign exchange
inflow," he said, adding that industries were being encouraged to have toll
manufacturing arrangements with external buyers of their products to supply
raw materials. The CZI chief executive said the question of sanctions must
be addressed to give manufacturers access to credit and fair competition.

Apart from commodities shortage, power supply is very erratic, subjecting
homes, especially in the suburbs, to lengthy outages. "Power supply is often
restored late night when we have gone to sleep, which makes it useless,"
complained a resident of Mbare, a Harare suburb.

Vehicles are seen on the road in Harare despite a serious fuel shortage but
transport from the city to the provinces is scarce. The government has fixed
the price of petrol at 60,000 Zimbabwe dollars per litre but the commodity
is largely available on the parallel market for up to ten times higher

The shortages affect mainly low income people in the suburbs and out in the
provinces, who are the majority. Government officials and well to do
Zimbabweans get their supplies from across the border in South Africa and
Botswana. "Plane loads of groceries and other supplies are delivered now and
then for senior government officials. They don't feel the pinch," claimed a
government critic, who said he is a war veteran.

African diplomats based in Harare said they have to send vehicles to the
South African border to collect supplies. Zimbabweans from abroad and
visitors carry substantial amounts of groceries with them. The shortage of
basic commodities may be a short-term problem, depending on government
willingness to ease conflict with business, but revamping industrial
production is a major challenge for Zimbabwe, which will require the support
of the Southern African region.

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Impala unsure over Zimbabwean reforms

Platinum Today

3rd September 2007

Impala Platinum has questioned whether new plans to deliver majority control
of companies to indigenous people in Zimbabwe are workable.

David Brown, Chief Executive of Impala Platinum, has suggested that the
draft proposals may be unworkable in their current form.

Under the so-called indigenisation bill, 51 per cent of any company would
have to be sold to the Zimbabwean government or local entities nominated by
the government.

Mr Brown explained that at present Impala is looking to invest as much as R3
billion in expanding its Zimplats operations, but under the current
proposals 51 per cent of this finance would have to come from the government
or the local entities.

He asked: "Does the state have any money to fund platinum expansions? Where
do they get the management?"

The comments come after Zimplats Chairman Mike Houston told MiningMX that
the bill also appears to take no account of an agreement struck between
Zimplats and the Zimbabwean government in 2006. Then, the company had agreed
to sell mineral rights to the government equal to roughly 30 per cent of

Mr Houston explained: "At this juncture, although it's early days in terms
of the negotiations, there appears to be no provision for empowerment
credits for social and infrastructure spending in the draft bill and this is
of serious concern to Zimplats in view of our agreement with the

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Cry, the beloved country

Atlantic Magazine
Megan McArdle

03 Sep 2007 11:25 am

Hilzoy writes, of the disaster that is Zimbabwe's economy:

The BBC quotes Robertson as saying: "I just wonder when they will try and reverse the laws of gravity, because this does not work." It's a pity Mugabe doesn't seem to realize that.

Last January, I posted a compilation of catastrophes that had befallen Zimbabwe during the previous week or two: doctors and teachers on strike, water shortages, sewage treatment plants crumbling, people unable to go to work because the bus fare was too expensive, upper- and middle-class Zimbabweans resorting to urban gardening in desperation: you name it. Since then, things have gotten much, much worse, and yet somehow, mysteriously, the government is holding on.

Sometime, something will have to give; I only hope that whoever replaces Mugabe when it does has some shred of concern for the Zimbabwean people, who have suffered enormously.

How enormously? Mugabe is not only politically illiberal and corrupt; he is literally a textbook case illustration of how to ruin an economy. I channel Izzy Mutanhaurwa:

3. In 1997 the economy peaked at US$8.5 billion, exports at US$3.4 billion and employment at 1.4 million. At that stage we were: -
a. The largest exporter of tobacco in the world after the USA.

b. The sixth largest producer of gold.

c. The biggest market for South Africa in Africa.

d. The second largest economy in the region and with the third highest GDP per capita.

e. Life expectancy was about 60 years and we had a literacy rate of 85 per cent with 95 per cent of all children of school going age in school.

f. Inflation was 12 per cent.

g. The exchange rate was 12 to 1 against the US dollar.

Zimbabwe today has an economy that has shrunk by half to just over US$4 billion, exports by two thirds to US$1.4 billion. Employment has declined by 45 per cent and industry by 60 per cent. Agricultural output this year will be 70 per cent down on the level achieved in 1997. Mining output is down and falling rapidly. Tourist arrivals have fallen from over 1.2 million in 1997 to less than 300,000 this year.

Life expectancy has halved, income per capita has also declined substantially. National population has fallen from an anticipated 16 or 17 million to just over 10 million today with 4 million Zimbabweans outside the country and some 2 to 3 million incremental deaths over and above normal mortality. 60 per cent of all children are not in school and all State controlled institutions are in dire straights.

For a country not at war or under sanctions, these are the most precipitous declines in economic and social welfare ever witnessed. They represent a calamitous state of affairs with no sign of any resumption of either stability or recovery. In fact the decline has accelerated in recent months very dramatically.

The US dollar is now trading at 20 million old Zimbabwe dollars to one in the open market compared to 1 to 2 in 1980 and 12 to 1 in 1997. Nothing tells you more about the collapse in the economy than that single statistic.

If Robert Mugabe had set out with the deliberate goal of trashing his country's economy, he could hardly have been more effective. You might say he's pioneered his own field: undevelopment economics. Starting with a disastrous land reform that placed land into the hands of political cronies, rather than those who knew anything about farming, or needed sustenance, he has turned a huge net food exporter into a net importer . . . when they can get the hard currency to import. Each successive foolhardy economic policy, designed to cover up some of the problems that have sprung up due to his last terrible, horrible, no good, very bad economic idea, has made things hideously worse. He has brought on hyperinflation, decimated the country's financial system and industrial base, crippled its agricultural output, mired the government in unrepayable debt, and reduced virtually all of his citizens to appalling poverty.

All of which prompts Brad DeLong to say:

Thabo Mbeki to the white courtesy phone, please. A Security Council resolution and an OAU resolution placing Robert Mugabe under the Ban of the Globe would, I think, be very welcome right now.

Unfortunately, though I have no better idea, I can't see how this can do much good. Zimbabwe is already effectively economically isolated due to the currency market controls that have left its economy functionally bereft of other currency. I doubt that the kleptocrats hve much left to steal and ship to their Swiss bank accounts. Making the gesture is better than doing nothing, but I fear that the only real end will be when Zimbabwe collapses into utter chaos.

TrackBack URL for this entry:

Comments (7)

All is not bleak. Zimbabwe's woes have been a real benefit to the lion population of southern Africa. Thousands of desperate refugees have tried to trek on foot to South Africa, and the main routes pass right through lion-filled countryside. Dinner's ready!

On the plus side, Mugabe is 84, if not by now 85, so there may soon be some input by human nature on this vengeful fool.

Incidentally, South Africans are in a very tough spot, too: Zimbabweans already enter South Africa at an estimated 5,000 per day (although some cross back & forth for economic reasons).

If Zimbabwe collapses completely, though, South Africa faces an in-migration for which they are completely unprepared.

(PS to Peter -- I thought more Zimbabweans crossing the Limpopo had suffered crocodile and hippo attacks than lions.)

(PS to Peter -- I thought more Zimbabweans crossing the Limpopo had suffered crocodile and hippo attacks than lions.)

That could be ... hippos look cute but apparently can be very dangerous.

As for Mugabe's death, it could usher in more sane rule. On the other hand, I've heard claims that the only likely "successor" is Somalia-style anarchy.

You know things are bad when the local Archbishop asks Britain to re-invade the place...

While foreign regime change is probably not a good idea or even possible given recent experience, I'm inclined to think someone is going to have to be ready for some kind of nation-building (The UN? Any volunteers?) if the country goes back into anarchy when Mugabe dies. And let's hope whoever does that brings along a copy of The Bottom Billion to read on the trip over.

So what's the solution once Mugabe falls? Presumably, you blow up the mint (or at least stop the printing press). But what next? Megan?

After his fall comes the power struggle.

I am hoping for South African intervention to overthrow Mugabe...

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Blame it on the woman!

3rd Sep 2007 17:56 GMT

By Priscilla Misihairabwi MP and Trudy Stevenson MP

THE ongoing debate around the need for a united front against Robert Mugabe
and his regime has prompted this article.

As women in politics, we believe there is an interesting analogy between the
divisions within MDC and what women go through in our daily lives.

People usually make politics sound complicated and separated from real life.
We have both been in politics for a long time, and we can see a clear link
between the MDC split and the breakdown of a marriage.

Please bear with us while we take you through the stages of both, and you
will understand where we are coming from.

One of the main reasons for the MDC split is also the major reason leading
to separation and divorce: lack of consultation, lack of communication and
indeed total absence of collective decision-making. This means that all
decisions are made by the male head of the household without consulting
anyone at all, least of all his wife.

There is generally lots of abuse in marriage, which can degenerate into both
verbal and physical violence against the woman, who in most cases is then
accused of having a relationship outside the marriage, labelled a bitch,
beaten and generally abused.

It is clear to us that all this has taken place in the political sphere.
Decisions were not being made between us and the head of household, but
elsewhere, and yet our children were suffering.

Disagreements mounted until acts of physical violence were perpetrated
against both of us. When we then tried to stand up for ourselves and our
children, the head of household put it about that we must be sleeping with
someone else! We were called bitches, whores, sell-outs. We must be CIO or
Zanu-PF, or involved in some Ndebele plot to overthrow the Shona.

This reminded us of the abuse we had suffered during the previous 20 years,
when we were in a similar relationship with the descendents of Chimurenga,
the liberation war heroes and ruling party chefs.

We then suggested to the head of the household that this marriage was not
working, because he was not respecting us, so let us go our separate ways
for a while. he man, being the proud male he is, stormed out in a huff and
told us the relationship could go hang.

"If the MDC splits, so be it," he thundered.

The separation might not be permanent, however, so we agreed not to go to
court to fight over the custody of the children. We had invested hugely in
this family name and property, so we agreed to go along with the idea of
sharing the children - and so it came about that the name MDC is still hotly

The property, however, was never shared. In fact, he has barred us from the
matrimonial home, and during the separation he has adopted the habit of
grabbing cars, cellphones and anything else he can from us.

In a typical patriarchal society, however, the women step back and
acquiesce. The male has more rights over the children and the family name,
and we simply keep quiet.

Next, various outsiders arrive on the scene to mediate, vaTete, and so on,
and say:
"Come on, you guys, look at your children, they are suffering and not being
cared for. You must sit down and come to an agreement."

Typically, the woman is the first to embrace the idea to talk, and so we get
a mediator and embark on a year or so of shuttling to and fro.

First of all we have a Code of Conduct, because the wife has been so abused
and traumatised beforehand that she persuades the head of the household that
it is a good idea to have some ground rules, such as not using violence
against each other, as a step in confidence-building.

We both sign the Code of Conduct, and we want to announce it together so
that everyone knows, as a further step in protecting ourselves, but our
partner says 'no', he will not go public with this. We lose confidence in
our partner again, because maybe he will not adhere to this code and will
start beating us again.

However, in typical female fashion, we still go for the bigger coalition
agreement because we think maybe it will help our children. So we say OK,
let us treat each other as equal partners, but you can still remain head of
household. And we set out terms to give equality to all members of the
family, and this seems to be agreed.

We say, OK, we have had separate congresses so it is clear we each have
other set-ups now, so the issue is no longer about re-marriage. Let us
simply go for joint custody, which we agree in an out-of-court settlement,
for the sake of the children.

But when we sit back, we realise our partner is going around undermining us.
He now even reneges on the settlement and claims sole custody, even when it
is clear he is driven by revenge. We do everything to avoid conflict, but
this partner keeps coming into our space and attacking us. Still, we pretend
not to notice, and keep clutching at straws, hoping that the relationship
will improve.

We read in the newspaper: "I no longer have faith in my former wife
She is an elitist CIO plant."

At no stage does our partner speak to us directly.

So we give up the idea of getting back together, and return to the children.
We explain how hard we have tried to get back together with their father. We
have bent over backwards and been beaten and abused, but their father has
refused - and we show them the evidence, including the two documents he
agreed to sign.

This should be enough to convince the children that their mother has been
abused and that their father is the perpetrator, but in typical patriarchal
society fashion, they blame us, the women! Their father is the great hero,
the god who can do no wrong. He cannot possibly have mistreated us, their
mothers. It is our fault that he has beaten us and refuses to speak to us!

This is our frustration! We come to you, the people of Zimbabwe, and state
categorically that the reason for separation is not us, the women! We have
done everything within our power to come back together, but your father has
said he is not interested in us any more.

Instead of going after the one who is the perpetrator, guess who once again
becomes the victim? The abused woman and mother is the victim, and we are
blamed while the perpetrator goes scot-free! He is seen as the saint, the
hero, the god, the best, and no one is willing to ask him why he behaves in
this abominable manner.

So we remain defenceless women sitting by the corner, wondering what can we

We have two choices:

. Should we commit suicide, since we have done everything we could think of,
and it
wasn't enough?

. Or should we simply pick up the pieces and make the best of it, as most
women do?

This man is not interested in either us or the children, but us as a women
care for the children. We will try to convince the children that we are not
at fault, and maybe one day they will understand that this tragedy was not
caused by us but by their father. It may take a year, or five years, but we
will keep trying.

This analogy is an attempt to explain to our children what has happened, and
why we are not at fault. We are survivors, unlike most abused women, so we
are prepared to speak out and try to get everyone to see events from our
perspective. We submit that ours is the clear perspective - and we trust
that at least the women among you will see the truth.

Priscilla Misihairabwi is MP for Glen Norah and Trudy Stevenson is the MP
for Harare North. They are members of the MDC faction led by Arthur

Back to the Top
Back to Index