The ZIMBABWE Situation
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Black market booms in Zimbabwe
Los Angeles Times
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.
price controls have made everything scarce, but 'cowboys' like Kuda Shumba are
at your service, if you can pay a 500% markup.
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
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:
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
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.
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
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."
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
When staples arrive, the anxiety turns to panic, and sometimes
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
But business has never been so good for Shumba, who sells his
goods secretly at night from his home, or delivers to special
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
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
"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.
curse the black marketeers, but no one is ever rude to Shumba's
"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
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
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
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
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
"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
Companies in Zimbabwe start to go local
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
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
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
So while Olivine has been "indigenised" and now has majority
black Zimbabwean shareholders, it has not been taken over by
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
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
The Heinz sale is the third corporate restructuring in as many
has been linked, rightly or wrongly, to the government's
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.
month, the Meikles Africa group, which operates hotels,
plantations, and a textile company in Zimbabwe and also
has a growing
investment footprint in South Africa, announced that it would
its business, appointing a black chief executive for the first
of the restructuring have still to be announced, but the
effect will be to
indigenise ownership in Zimbabwe.
Zimbabwe union to set up distress fund for harassed
Tuesday 04 September 2007
HARARE - A Zimbabwe teachers union says it is setting up a
distress fund to
assist teachers who fall victim to political violence as
prepares for crucial parliamentary and presidential elections
Teachers, especially in remote rural areas, are often targeted
harassment and torture by ruling ZANU PF militia and war
veterans who accuse
them of campaigning for the main opposition Movement for
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.
well as fighting in the courts to protect teachers' rights, the PTUZ
to print and distribute pamphlets to parents explaining how harassment
teachers and closure of schools have a huge and negative impact on their
"If parents understand our position they will
come to our side and it will
be difficult for the militia to victimise us,"
Education Minister Aeneas Chigwedere was not immediately
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.
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.
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
Zim artists turn to the screen to escape Mugabe's
Tuesday 04 September 2007
HARARE - Banned artists critical of President Mugabe are
to new levels outsmarting the Harare regime known for
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
hard-hitting works up the silver screen in a bid to reach out
to a wider
international audience out of Mugabe's reach.
Zimbabwe in 2004 on suspicion it lampooned Mugabe, an 83-years-old
power for 27 straight years, the political theatrical satire,
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
clearly puts Mugabe against the wall would attract serious
The movie premiered quietly in Harare last
Much to the chagrin of state agents, the stage play version of
the film is a
2007 nominee of Amnesty International Freedom of Expression
continues receiving standing ovations and international
The film is typical satire showcasing poetic license of the
through the use of irony, ridicule, exaggeration and humour to
criticise Mugabe's autocracy and the way he has brought Zimbabwe
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
meltdown, unemployment, starvation, lawlessness,
corruption and endless
shortages of virtually all basic
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
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
In repressive societies, as the heat burns and the environment
sensitive and dangerous, courageous artists emerge with rich
creative work and actors are particularly giving Mugabe
Cont Mhlanga, a celebrated playwright, director and producer,
Zimbabwe's war of liberation at independence in 1980 and has
never given the Harare regime any respite with his provocative
Government brands Mhlanga a traitor and sellout, but like a
growing list of
courageous actors, Mhlanga has vowed Mugabe will not succeed
art regardless of state intimidation.
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
reason why I use theatre is because I can't access Mugabe. If I would
the president today I would tell him he would not lose anything by
president of Zimbabwe anymore," Mhlanga told ZimOnline.
"Yes, as an
artist and Zimbabwean, I am saying Mugabe must go. He has done
contribution. He will not carry the liberation struggle process of
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
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,
February 2007 - police in Bulawayo stop staging of a play
of expression What They Said What They Got.
2007 - police in Bulawayo confront producer Cont Mhlanga and order
watching The Good President to disperse immediately. - ZimOnline
Moyo's Z$2bn lawsuit against Nkomo resumes at High
Tuesday 04 September 2007
BULAWAYO - The High Court will on Tuesday resume hearing a case
former information minister Jonathan Moyo is suing ruling ZANU PF
chairman John Nkomo for Z$2 billion for defamation.
profile case, that observers say is closely enmeshed with the
battles over President Robert Mugabe's succession, was adjourned
Moyo last May dropped charges against another senior ZANU PF
Dabengwa who was being jointly charged with Nkomo in the
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,"
Among those expected to testify against Moyo are Justice
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.
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.
controversial former minister, blamed for spearheading a bruising
against the independent media during his tenure in government, was
fired from ZANU PF and the government after he sought to stand in the
election as an independent candidate. - ZimOnline
FIFA delegation to assess Zimbabwe's tourism
Tuesday 04 September
By Thulani Munda
HARARE - A
delegation from the Federation of International Football
(FIFA-MATCH) is set to visit Zimbabwe next Monday to assess the
tourist facilities for the 2010 World Cup to be held in South
Zimbabwe Tourism Authority (ZTA) chief executive
Kaseke said his organization was excited and encouraged by
visit by FIFA officials as the country seeks to take advantage
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,"
is the FIFA agency that is responsible for all accommodation,
ticketing arrangements for major football tournaments.
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
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
Election Monitor Urges Zimbabwe To Relaunch Voter Registration
By Patience Rusere
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
ZESN said organizers failed to sufficiently publicize mobile
leading to poor turnout, while the operation's success was
by insufficient funding, unqualified personnel and
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
ZESN said it had received no reports of violence or
intimidation during the
exercise - but noted that members of the police, the
Organization and the prison service were involved in
process. The five-page report noted the presence of such
Gumbeze Primary School in Mount Darwin.
faulted the political opposition for not mobilizing its supporters
Zimbabwe Election Support Network Monitoring Officer Denford
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
Karoi Goes Dry for 2 Months As Water Crisis Worsens
3 September 2007
Posted to the web 3 September
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
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,"
Charles Nhamoinesu, another resident, confirmed the water
agreed a health disaster is looming in the town of Karoi, some
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
In Bulawayo the mayor and council held an emergency meeting Monday
there is no water in most areas of the town. Schools open Tuesday
are fears of an outbreak of water-borne diseases at schools that
hundreds of students, but have no water to flush toilets or prepare
Harare forced into U-turn on price cap
By Tony Hawkins
Published: September 3 2007 01:18 | Last updated: September 3
Just 24 hours after announcing a blanket freeze on wages,
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
The measures have been roundly condemned by the Zimbabwe Congress
Unions, whose secretary-general, Wellington Chibebe, accused the
"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
Hotels and restaurants, which were forced to cut tariffs
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.
Bread shortage looms in Zimbabwe
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
Critics say President Robert Mugabe's government plunged
African state into its worst economic crisis by seizing very
white-owned commercial farms and giving them to inexperienced
who have left the country needing food aid since
Zimbabweans have endured chronic bread shortages since then,
situation has become desperate in the last three months after a
price-control blitz forced some private bakers to shut
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
Mutasa - who heads a government committee responsible
procurement and distribution - was not available for further
The Sunday Mail said Mutasa had told the weekly that
supplies were desperate but it could not import all it
needed because of
Western financial sanctions against Mugabe's
"As soon as we pay, a little amount is brought into the
are still feeding from hand to mouth, as this is usually a
"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
But agricultural experts say its own farmers are likely to
less than 80 000 tons in a crop due in October due to power
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.
are part of a wider economic crisis, also seen in the
inflation rate of over 7 600 percent, unemployment above 80
Mugabe, 83, and in power since independence from
Zimbabwe's economic crisis is a result of sabotage by Western
seeking to oust him over his farm seizures.
Mediation Talks Two Months Behind Schedule
SW Radio Africa
3 September 2007
Posted to the web 3 September
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
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.
insist there is nothing to show the talks have made any
Chikohwero, an MDC activist based in Johannesburg, voiced
his concern at the
lack of any updates from the Southern African Development
"While our top officials having been saying they have trust in the
talks, most grassroots members are of the opinion that nothing will
of the talks. The secrecy surrounding the talks makes it hard to
there is anything happening at all," Chikohwero said.
expressed confidence on Saturday that next year's general elections
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
The two parties last met over a month just before the recent
SADC meeting in
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
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
as well as broadcasting laws.
Zim economy in 'free fall' - MDC
Zimbabwe opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai warned on Saturday
"end game" for President Robert Mugabe was drawing near and that
collapse of the country could be around the corner.
the end of a weeklong visit to Mugabe's arch-foe Australia,
called for concerted international pressure on the long-serving
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
Presidential and parliamentary elections scheduled for March were
"starting point for resolving this crisis," he said, calling for
international pressure and monitoring to ensure they were free and
"It is an economy that has shrunk by almost 68 percent with a
humanitarian crisis. The situation is really dangerous, because
haemorrhage is stopped we may have a serious collapse of the
"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
Harare has been furious about the visit. Zimbabwe's state media
Wednesday for the government to sever ties with Australia, on the
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
50 others while attempting to hold an anti-Mugabe rally.
the international community to keep a clear focus on the
Zimbabwe, and not to forget about its long-running crisis when
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
should be pressured to adhere to Sadc protocols on elections in
No progress or clarity on SA permits for Zimbabweans
By Lance Guma
Last week South Africa's Home Affairs Minister Nosiviwe
raised the hopes of millions of Zimbabweans living in that
suggesting her government might consider granting them
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
Her suggestions are now the talk on every Zimbabwean's lips.
Nyikadzino, an activist with the Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition SA
said the issue of permits was still 'water in the bottle' and a lot
things were still unclear. He says temporary residence permits for
may not necessarily entitle someone to work. There is talk over
people will have to go back to Zimbabwe and apply for the permits or
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
SW Radio Africa
Shortages Dilemma as Children Return to School
2 September 2007
Posted to the web 3 September
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.
institutions have not been spared: the National University of
Technology (NUST) in Bulawayo has postponed the start of its
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.
said delays by the Cabinet Taskforce on Price Monitoring and
in announcing a new school fees structure for the term had
Last week, the Minister of Industry and International Trade,
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
the country, has warned it might be forced to close them down if it
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
In Bulawayo, the situation has been exacerbated by the water
some suburbs going for a month without it. The city has 127
and 47 secondary schools, all affected by the water
Council spokesperson, Pathisa Nyathi, said the United Nations
Fund (UNICEF) had committed itself to supply schools with 5
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
Meanwhile Rutendo Mawere reports from Gweru that parents were
they would not be able to buy anything for their
Jessica Mombeshora said she had tried almost every shop in the
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
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
Mavis Zano, a boarder, said she was afraid to go back to school
food. "Most boarding schools have never been able to provide
boarders, even under normal circumstances," she moaned. "Now,
current scarcity of food, we will face a double tragedy and we are
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
require to function normally."
Mugabe betrays Nkomo,
says Bulawayo residents chief
3rd Sep 2007 17:27 GMT
By Ian Nhuka
President Robert Mugabe's lethargy in dealing with the
deepening water crisis
in Bulawayo represents his government's general
Matabeleland region, Winos Dube, head of the Bulawayo
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
"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
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
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
from the water shortage, some residents are now selling the liquid
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
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
distribution in the thirsty city of 1,5 million
Mutezo later made an about turn on that outburst after pressure
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.
declaration will allow other institutions such as non-governmental
organisations to mobilise resources to ease the water crisis.
President Mugabe has the authority to make such a declaration.
formal request for this declaration was made months ago, but there has
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.
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
Child Migrants Seek a Better Life in South Africa
Regional Information Networks
3 September 2007
Posted to the web 3
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
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
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
At night Robert sleeps at Musina's taxi rank and during the day
casual work washing taxis or unloading goods from trucks at
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
During his most recent border crossing the teenager met three other
age, but "they went on to Johannesburg, because they have relatives
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
She said more than 500 unaccompanied children from Zimbabwe had
centre since it opened three years ago. The facility provides
water, life-skills training, like HIV/AIDS education, as well as
trauma counselling and sporting activities.
Nelushi said the
centre did not offer overnight accommodation or formal
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
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
children have arrived naked [at the centre] after being robbed by
who, if they [migrants] do not have money, take their clothes and
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
The Food and Agriculture Organisation and the UN World Food
issued a joint report on Zimbabwe's food security in June,
"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
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.
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
They also cannot be repatriated across international borders,
relatives or legal guardians have been traced to ensure the child is
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
He said the Child Care Centre had processed "plenty of them
although "16- and 17-year-olds might look like they are 18 and
they are when asked by the [Zimbabwean] police [at the reception
they don't have any documents, it is difficult for the police to
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
said there were often more unaccompanied minors at the Beitbridge
centre during the school holidays because parents working in South
paid people to smuggle their children across, and those intercepted
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 ]
Rautenbach turns to coal mining in Zimbabwe
businessman Billy Rautenbach is trying to revive the fortunes
Zimbabwean coal producer, Hwange Colliery Company after he and
into difficulties in the DRC.
Author: Rodrick Mukumbira
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,
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
In 2006, Hwange Colliery experienced a 32 percent decrease in
The company currently produces 197,300 tons of coal at a time
when the rest
of the country requires 380,000 tons per
Zimbabwe is facing acute coal shortages that have resulted in
electricity generation at coal-powered plants, triggering blackouts
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
The weekly Financial Gazette reported last week that
Rautenbach, who runs
probably the biggest haulage transport company in the
recently imported 800 trucks, has already moved earthmoving
equipment - a
Caterpillar front-end loaders - onto a coal claim owned by
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
Rautenbach owns a 20 percent shareholder in AIM-quoted CAMEC
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.
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,
Rautenbach, according to a DRC government statement, "had amassed a
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,
mining company, a day after the company offered to buy
Katanga Mining Ltd for C$1.52 billion.
CAMEC and Rautenbach started building in early July when CAMEC
"bid" for the 78 percent CAMEC does not already hold in Katanga
Gecamines saying at that time that it had sought legal advice
on whether its
contracts with Katanga Mining would be affected by a proposed
The DRC launched a review of around 60 mining contracts in June
ensuring the deals are legal and fair.
Zimbabwe - a deep cancer
Zimbabwe used to be the breadbasket of southern
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.
|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.|
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,
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
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."
start of the collapse
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
"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?"
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
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
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.
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
State failure"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."
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
|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
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
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."
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.
have passed since Ghana's independence in 1957 precipitated the
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.
[such as colonialism] had done, politics could undo." Kwame
Nkrumah of Ghana
embraced this wholeheartedly. "African unity is above all a
kingdom which can be gained only by political means," he stated in
(Modern Times). The second fallacy is what Johnson terms the
personality also called the Big Man. By propagating the view
that his role
in the creation of Ghana had been so prodigious, Nkrumah
supporters to call him "the Redeemer". By 1961, the Redeemer
himself to the point where his utterances became holy writ.
he said, "can have an opinion that differs from mine." From
African leaders took their cue. Julius Nyerere of Tanzania was
"Teacher", Hastings Banda of Malawi was known as "Conqueror" or
Idi Amin of Uganda was called "Big Daddy", while Joseph Mobutu of
preferred the ideology of "Mobutuism" to cultism.
The combination of the
politicised economy and the entrenched, professional
by an elite of praise singers ensured that Ghana's
constitutionality nose-dived. In 1966, the Redeemer was toppled
military coup. It was the only way to end his despotism since he had
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
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
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
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
Dysfunctional state departments awash with fraud and
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.
Africa's history shows, Big Man-type rule invariably accedes to power
such conditions. As Mbeki's tenure limps to its end, Zuma has all the
credentials for the part of Big Man ruler. Only three things stand in
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
Funny thing happened at fuel queue the other day
Last updated: 08/31/2007 02:54:09
"WHAT'S news in Zimbabwe
nowadays if one might pose a breathtakingly idiotic
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.
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
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
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
These guys gave 'corruption' a very bad name. Fuel would appear
disappear at their bidding through the blatant solicitation for bribes.
hey, wasn't it corruption that got us here in the first place? When you
told there was no fuel, you had to accept the attendant's word even if
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.
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
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
Under normal circumstances, downstream industries such as mobile
barbeques would have sprouted at these queues but then, you guessed
there is a crippling beer and meat shortage as well. At least youths who
usually idle get to earn a few bob dozing in the Chefu's car.
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
Let us forget about the fuel shortage for a while and dwell on the
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
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
the rest of us sharing the horror of having to make do with their
brand, their cheapest. We call it 'Jatropha' after the famous plant
supposed to save us from our fuel woes by producing
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
'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
Lenox Mhlanga is a New
Zimbabwe.com columnist. His column is published here
every Friday. You can
contact him through e-mail address:
An Exercise in Futility, MDC Says of Zimbabwe's New Price
By James Butty
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.
Chamissa is spokesman for the Morgan Tsvangirai faction of the
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.
government controlled Herald newspaper said the new prices would be
until September 30 this year.
Chamissa said the government does not
deserve any credit because it is
responsible for the economic meltdown in
"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,"
Fast food takeouts, bars, and
nightclubs are reportedly included in the list
of the new prices. Chamissa
said ordinary Zimbabweans would continue to
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.
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
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
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
The government maintains the prices charged
before the interventions were
unjustified and could have been machination by
manufacturers and wholesalers to whip up social
The Minister of Industry and International Trade, Mr Obert Mpofu,
government could not sit back and watch as consumers were being
by unscrupulous suppliers.
"The prices were being
increased by the hour and the margins charged were
incredibly high," he
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
"Some manufacturers are not members of our organization.
our members are
governed by a strict code of ethics," he
Mr Mpofu admitted that although the new prices set by the
task force, which
he chairs, are affordable, the move had made commodities
maintained, however, that the intervention was prompted by
actors and black marketers, who don't want to use known
To mitigate the situation, the government has
formed a sub-committee of the
task force with members from commerce,
agriculture, the hospitality industry
"We are now
releasing new prices, which are agreed on by all parties," Mr
adding that the enforcement crack units would patrol the streets
to clean up
defaulters. Close to ten thousand traders, manufacturers and
providers, including commuter bus operators, have been fined or
violating the government prices and hoarding commodities.
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.
welcomed the decision to involve industry representatives in
prices. "We are encouraged by the emerging partnership. The
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
Normal supply of beef, which is an essential commodity,
is yet to resume.
The government last week re-licensed 42 private abattoirs
country to augment the beleaguered state-run Cold Storage
According to the trade minister, the cabinet task force
is a temporary
regulator, which would be replaced by a National Incomes and
Commission run by a secretariat of professionals.
admits that it will take time for supply to stabilize because
production is undermined by shortage of foreign currency needed
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
"Our industry is strong and vibrant despite the shortage of
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
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
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.
Impala unsure over Zimbabwean reforms
Impala Platinum has questioned whether new plans to deliver majority
of companies to indigenous people in Zimbabwe are
David Brown, Chief Executive of Impala Platinum, has suggested
draft proposals may be unworkable in their current
Under the so-called indigenisation bill, 51 per cent of any company
have to be sold to the Zimbabwean government or local entities
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.
asked: "Does the state have any money to fund platinum expansions? Where
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
Cry, the beloved country
03 Sep 2007 11:25 am
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
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
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
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
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
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
Blame it on the
3rd Sep 2007 17:56 GMT
By Priscilla Misihairabwi MP and Trudy Stevenson
THE ongoing debate around the need for a united front against
and his regime has prompted this article.
As women in
politics, we believe there is an interesting analogy between the
within MDC and what women go through in our daily lives.
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
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
One of the main reasons for the MDC split is also the major
to separation and divorce: lack of consultation, lack of
indeed total absence of collective decision-making. This
means that all
decisions are made by the male head of the household without
anyone at all, least of all his wife.
There is generally
lots of abuse in marriage, which can degenerate into both
physical violence against the woman, who in most cases is then
having a relationship outside the marriage, labelled a bitch,
It is clear to us that all this has taken place in the
Decisions were not being made between us and the head of
elsewhere, and yet our children were
Disagreements mounted until acts of physical violence were
against both of us. When we then tried to stand up for ourselves
children, the head of household put it about that we must be
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
This reminded us of the abuse we had suffered during the previous
when we were in a similar relationship with the descendents of
the liberation war heroes and ruling party chefs.
suggested to the head of the household that this marriage was not
because he was not respecting us, so let us go our separate ways
while. he man, being the proud male he is, stormed out in a huff and
the relationship could go hang.
"If the MDC splits, so be it," he
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.
outsiders arrive on the scene to mediate, vaTete, and so on,
"Come on, you guys, look at your children, they are suffering and not
cared for. You must sit down and come to an
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
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
it is a good idea to have some ground rules, such as not
against each other, as a step in
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
We say, OK, we have had separate congresses so it is clear we
other set-ups now, so the issue is no longer about re-marriage.
simply go for joint custody, which we agree in an out-of-court
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
We read in the newspaper: "I no longer have faith in my former
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.
be enough to convince the children that their mother has been
that their father is the perpetrator, but in typical patriarchal
fashion, they blame us, the women! Their father is the great hero,
who can do no wrong. He cannot possibly have mistreated us, their
It is our fault that he has beaten us and refuses to speak to us!
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
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,
. Or should we simply pick up the pieces and make the best of it,
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.
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
to speak out and try to get everyone to see events from our
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