|The ZIMBABWE Situation||Our
thoughts and prayers are with Zimbabwe |
- may peace, truth and justice prevail.
By Caroline Hooper-Box
South African and Zimbabwean church leaders have condemned the South African
government and other African leaders for their silence on the state-backed
human rights violations in Zimbabwe, and have called for international
solidarity to dismantle the national youth service training programme.
Speaking at the launch of a report detailing youth militia training and
activities in Zimbabwe, the church leaders said the youth programme was a
paramilitary operation used by the ruling Zanu-PF party "to maintain their
hold on power by whatever means necessary, including torture, rape, murder
The report describes the use of the militias to carry forward the Zanu-PF
political agenda in everything from manipulating election results to
controlling the food distribution process to the party's advantage.
'We condemn our political leadership for being quiet about this'
It was compiled using interviews with former militia members, victims of
militia torture, state-controlled and independent media reports, militia
camp training materials, and reports by international and Zimbabwean human
Popularly known as "Green Bombers", the militia - clad in trademark green
fatigues and red or green berets - have become a common and fearsome sight.
The Sunday Independent reported in March that hundreds of these youths,
tired of being beaten and starved by their handlers, were fleeing to South
Africa. Those interviewed said they underwent rigorous physical fitness
programmes, weapons training, and political indoctrination in camps
officially called national youth training centres.
Speaking in Johannesburg last week, South African Catholic Bishop Kevin
Dowling said the human rights violations committed by the youth militia
"cannot be maintained and justified by the SADC region and by our South
African government in particular. We condemn our political leadership for be
ing quiet about this".
Last month southern African leaders called on the Western countries to lift
sanctions against Zimbabwe. Earlier this year South African foreign minister
Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma said South Africa would never criticise the
Dowling said the Solidarity Peace Trust - a grouping of churches led by
Zimbabwean Archbishop Pius Ncube and South African Anglican Bishop Rubin
Phillip - challenged "governments and all those who are supporting in any
way an absolutely inconceivable abuse of human rights and crimes against
humanity" to bring down an unjust regime.
Ncube said pressure should be brought to bare on African leaders and on
Zimbabwean president Robert Mugabe to "stop this abuse and killing by young
people". Between 30 000 and 50 000 young people had been trained, he said.
"The SADC and African Union should insist that these things stop so that our
young people, whose lives are being stolen by politicians, are again free."
In February this year Mugabe invited Cape Town Anglican Archbishop
Njongonkulu Ndungane to mediate between Zanu-PF and the opposition MDC,
after the crisis engendered by last year's flawed presidential election.
Ndungane at the time said the invitation "opened a new window of hope". But
the mediation initiative has failed, Ncube said, shot down by hardliners in
the ruling party.
Bizarre Mugabe move has ecologists up in
September 07 2003 at 10:41AM
Conservationists in Zimbabwe are rallying international support to
protest against the latest bizarre move by President Robert Mugabe's
regime - an order to shoot thousands of buffalo at private conservancies "to
contain foot-and-mouth disease".
The conservationists say the order is not only "stupid", but it would
also kill off the little that is left of Zimbabwe's tourism sector which has
shrunk to 15 percent since the disturbances in the country began in 2000.
Officials from the Department of National Parks and Wildlife
Management started descending on private game parks this week, telling
owners that the government had decided to destroy all buffalo on private
land to eliminate the foot-and-mouth outbreak.
'Any sensible government would replace these fences rather than
resort to the outrageous move'
Wilfried Pabst, who owns the Save Valley Conservancy, said his workers
had been informed that foot-and-mouth had cost Zimbabwe its beef markets in
Said Pabst, a German national and key investor in Zimbabwe's tourism:
"What is happening in Zimbabwe makes the Chinese cultural revolution in the
1960s look like a picnic."
Alternatively, Pabst said, the national parks officials had indicated
that all the buffalo in the private game parks could be seized and moved
into the government's national parks to control their movements.
But this too was not an option as fences at most national game parks
were destroyed at the height of farm invasions last year, leaving the
buffalo in the parks to roam freely and mix with cattle in villages.
Environment and tourism minister Francis Nhema made an impassioned
plea last year for land invaders to spare the national game parks in which
thousands of animals have been killed. One of Zimbabwe's biggest game parks,
Gonarezhou, was invaded and a large chunk of its perimeter fence was
destroyed by the land invaders last year.
"Any sensible government would replace these fences rather than resort
to the outrageous move of killing animals," said Pabst.
Dr Salmon Joubert, the retired executive director of the Kruger
National Park who is doing some consultancy work in Zimbabwe, said: "This
decision (to kill buffalo), as I have been informed, ranks as one of the
most futile and bizarre moves that anyone can imagine. It does not meet
realistic practical demands and it won't help them (the government) achieve
Apart from the buffalo, many other cloven-hoofed animals such as
impala and kudu are carriers of foot-and-mouth. Zimbabwe would therefore
have to exterminate all these animals to achieve its goals.
Efforts to get comment from Nhema failed.
But junior government officials, speaking on condition of anonymity
said they thought the cabinet's decision may have been prompted by the
failure of private game owners to maintain good fencing to contain their
animals and control movement.
Pabst dismissed the charge saying the lawless destruction of fences on
both private and national game parks in Zimbabwe by government supporters
had been well documented. After destruction the fences were used to make
snares to kill animals. He said he had recovered more than 30 000 snares on
his property and lost more than 10 000 animals.
"There is total lawlessness here and no one can continue putting up
fences only for them to be destroyed the next day. If the government
restores law and order I will be happy to re-install all the fences
destroyed by the war veterans," he said.
Jonny Rodrigues, the chairman of Zimbabwe's Conservation Task force,
said there was a small number of animals left in Zimbabwe after the
government allowed conservancies to be invaded and occupied. "Unless we have
a change of government, it seems we are powerless to stop this tragedy which
is unfolding daily. There is very little wildlife left here now." -
Independent Foreign Service
'MDC to send envoys around Africa'
HARARE - Zimbabwe's opposition is to send delegations to several African
countries to brief them on its efforts to end the political and economic
deadlock in the country, a newspaper reported.
Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) secretary-general Welshman Ncube told
the Daily News on Sunday the party had "invitations from the African Union
countries to brief them on our situation."
"This is an ongoing exercise which we began before the presidential election
last year when party leader Morgan Tsvangirai visited African leaders to
brief them on the party position and the situation in the country," Ncube
told the paper.
"The African leaders now understand the situation as they are hearing it
from us, not from ZANU-PF (the ruling Zimbabwe African National
Union -Patriotic Front)," Ncube said.
Zimbabwe is deeply divided between supporters of Tsvangirai's MDC and those
loyal to President Robert Mugabe, who has been in power here for almost 23
Efforts are being made by regional leaders and local churchmen to kickstart
dialogue between the two parties.
All countries in the 14-member Southern African Development Community (SADC)
are to be visited, as well as Nigeria, Senegal and Benin, according to the
Daily News on Sunday.
MDC officials were not available Sunday to comment on the report. This week
Ncube and senior MDC officials held meetings with Malawi President Bakili
Muluzi in Blantyre.
The SADC includes Angola, Botswana, the Democratic Republic of Congo,
Lesotho, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, the Seychelles, South
Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
The MDC issued a statement expressing dismay after Mugabe was greeted with
applause and ululation at an SADC summit in Tanzania last month.
From Radio Netherlands, 5 September
Former youth militia members
Zimbabwe's Minister of Youth, Gender and Employment Creation,
established the National Youth Service after the 2000 parliamentary
elections. Among the official objectives were to:
Develop vocational skills
Reduce teenage pregnancies
Reduce the spread of HIV/AIDS
Reduce alcohol and substance abuse
Promote gender equality and equity
told not to think. We were told we couldn't do anything until we
received orders from the top." Former youth militia member
Zanu PF party initially used the youth militia as a
strategic election weapon in the run-up to the 2002 presidential elections.
The poll was won by the incumbent, Robert Mugabe, who has ruled the nation
since independence in 1980. International observers described the election
as "not free or fair". The youth militia's success in intimidating the
opposition Movement for Democratic Change or MDC has led to their further
deployment in the country. 150 youth militia camps have been established
throughout the country, many of them in areas where there is strong support
for the MDC. Up until recently, most recruits were single mothers, girls,
street kids and orphans. "That sounds very appropriate and kind," says an
anonymous human rights worker, "because these are the very parts of society
that are most disadvantaged and poorest. They are also the ones who have the
least defence, who don't have relatives, who don't have family who are going
to complain when they are brutalised in the camps."
The recruits, both male and female, from 10
to 30 years of age, undergo
"orientation" during their six months of training. According to the
Solidarity Peace Trust report, "all training materials have consisted
exclusively of Zanu PF campaign materials and political speeches. This
material is crudely racist and vilifies the MDC." John, a 25-year-old youth
militia defector, was taught, for instance, that "whites came into the
country in the 19th century and robbed King Lobengula of his riches. They
seized the land and they let wild animals roam so they could start their
safari operations. When hunters came, the Zimbabwean government and people
did not benefit from the royalties. So we were taught it was good for
Zimbabweans to seize land from the whites."
recruits undergo rigorous vigorous physical training, says Debbie,
21-year-old former member. "We woke up at 3:30 in the morning and had to run
20 kilometres. Afterwards we had to sing the national anthem and we learned
slogans about President Robert Mugabe. Then we had to do 200 press-ups.
Those who couldn't were beaten." When the youth militia finish the training,
they are sent out on operations. The six months of training turn many of
them into very angry young people. "We had a very negative view of
everything," says John. "We wanted to take revenge because we had been
treated so badly in the camp. Whenever we had a smile on our face there,
we'd be punished and tortured. We wanted to vent our anger on people,
particularly those who were powerless."
Many youth militia
members find solace and courage in alcohol or marijuana.
"We got the money from the raids we carried out," says John. "We'd smoke and
drink in the evening. During the day we would go out into the community.
Informers would tell us that so-and-so is badmouthing the youth militia.
We'd be forced to go and attack. At times we even did it when we were sober.
We just got into the habit." In Debbie's camp, 1000 children and young
people slept together. "The boys and commanders constantly raped the girls,"
she says. "I was raped every night. Girls who cried were beaten. I went to
the desk commander to complain, but he beat me too." Many girls and young
women suffer the same fate. A third of Zimbabwe's adult population carries
the HIV virus. The figures are probably even higher in the youth militia
pregnant in the camp. Later she discovered that she was HIV
positive. She still doesn't know whether her 11-month-old daughter also
carries the virus. When she thinks back on her 7 months in the youth militia
camp, she says, "I cry. I think about dying. These people should be
punished, but they won't arrest these people. I filed a complaint to the
police, but the commander simply bribed the policeman." The youth militia -
better known among ordinary Zimbabweans as Taliban or Green Bombers, because
of their uniforms - know they can act with impunity. "When we beat people up
and they called the police," says John, "they would take us aside. They
would tell us to say that we had been provoked. And then the police would
encourage us to beat the people up even more. We realised that we were free
to do whatever we wanted."
From Radio Netherlands, 5 September
Youth militia victims
It is difficult to fathom the random violence which the
government has unleashed on its own people. Victims speak of being attacked
even in broad daylight because the youth militia suspect them of backing the
Movement for Democratic Change, MDC. Even months later, they still seem
dazed, unable to understand how their own government could attack, beat and
torture ordinary people like themselves. It's not only MDC supporters who
are threatened. As a youth militia member put it, "sometimes we attack
people because we don't like the way they look".
Thomas, his wife and eight children used to live in Kamativi in
Zimbabwe. In 2002, the government decided to establish the biggest youth
militia training camp there. The town was divided in two, and half the
residents were evicted. "In late 2002, Zanu PF officials gave my name and
the names of other people to the youth militia because we weren't attending
ruling party meetings. In January 2003, the youth militia came to my house
and told me to leave the house immediately. They said a war veteran wanted
my house, even though he already has two other houses in the country. I
tried to plead with them, but the decision was final. I was given 24 hours
to leave. They told me I had to take all my belongings or they would throw
everything out of the house. I didn't have a cent on me, so we had to leave
our home with only the clothes on our backs. Together with 7 or 8 other
families, who had also been evicted, we found some alternative accommodation
a few kilometres down the road. On June 13 at 11 p.m., the youth militia
returned. They had just attended a Zanu PF rally in a nearby town and on
their way back to Kamativi, they stopped at our place. They broke down all
the doors. Everyone was dragged out, taken to an open space and we were made
to lie down. They started hitting us at random with sticks and belts. They
said we had been holding meetings with the local MDC MP, which was not true.
Everybody was beaten, even my children. It lasted for about an hour.
Everyone was crying. I was crying. My wife's jaw and several of my ribs were
broken. We left our homes and spent that night together around a bonfire.
The next day, we all went to another town. Then, on July 14, we were
attacked again. Exactly the same thing happened: they broke the doors of our
homes down, rounded everyone up and started beating people again. Everyone
ran off in different directions. Now my 8 children are scattered all over
the country. I really don't know what's going to happen now. I haven't been
able to join bits and pieces yet. I have no income. I have nothing left.
These youth militia are cruel. They're very, very cruel. I wish somebody
greater than myself would crush them. We can't do anything. We can't fight
Mugabe. That's the truth about it."
Ignatious Chaitezvi was employed by the Zimbabwe Republic
Police from 1999
to January 2002. His problems began in January 2001. "I and four of my
colleagues were assigned to guard the MDC offices in our town. We were seen
by CIO [Central Intelligence Organisation] agents. In December 2001, we were
called in by the provincial police head. He asked us why we were at the MDC
offices. We told him that our superior had assigned us to guard the
building. He told us we weren't supposed to be there. Then he asked us to
resign. The CIO had told him that we had to resign immediately. We tried to
explain that we had just been following orders, but no one wanted to listen.
The pressure continued to increase and on January 6th, 2002, we were forced
out. On March 10th [on the eve of the disputed presidential elections], we
were called back by the police. We thought we were going to receive our
pension, but we were given envelopes with ballot papers inside. We were
asked to put an X. It was obvious where to put the X. In front of our former
superior, we put an X in front of the Zanu PF. Then we were asked to go.
When voting day came, we went to vote again. Former colleagues saw us and
they asked, 'why are you voting again?' I answered, 'I'm different from you
now. You have to abide by your superiors' orders, but I would rather vote
for the candidate of my own choice.' A few days later I left for the rural
areas because I had no money and couldn't pay the rent. On October 17th, I
came back to the city to look for work. The next day, as I was coming home
from the shops, I was attacked by 5 youth militia. They started assaulting
me, accusing me of selling them out to the MDC. They said, 'you know
everything about the government. We want to kill you'. They beat me. There
were too many of them for me to retaliate. There were two police officers,
former colleagues, near the scene, but they couldn't do anything. They were
too afraid of the youth militia because they control everything.
"I finally managed to escape and walked back home. When I
was about to reach
my house, I was hit in the neck by a stick. I fell down. The youth militia
had followed me. They started beating me again with sjamboks and sticks. And
then they hit me with an axe. They were aiming for the back of my skull, but
I turned, so they hit my eye. I lost my eye, but I think it's God who did
that for me. It's better to lose an eye than your life. I pretended I was
dead and then they ran away. I finally got to the hospital, where I thought
they would treat me. But they just registered me and left me there for five
days. [Editor: MDC supporters are regularly denied medical treatment.]
Finally I got a hold of my brother who's a doctor on the other side of the
country. He treated me and I went back to my rural home. In June 2003, I
went back to the city. The same five youth militiamen attacked me again.
They said, 'this time we want to kill you'. They had knives and tried to
stab me in the heart. I blocked the knife with my hand. Then they tried to
stab me again and they pierced my other hand. I fought their leader and when
he was down, I managed to run away. "Five of us were dismissed from the poli
ce force. My colleague, my best friend, is now crippled. His legs were cut
off by the same type of guys, militias. Another colleague was beaten to
death. The other two received threats and ran away to the U.K. Fortunately
their family is rich. I ran away from home and came here to Johannesburg. I
had to leave my wife and children back in Zimbabwe. My wife is not working
nor am I. This is painful. They are suffering. I am the father of those
kids. I was working. I am a man. I am educated, but now I have nothing. I
don't know what to do. I can't go back to Zimbabwe because my life is in
Comment from The Nation (Kenya), 5 September
It's a lesson to Dr Mugabe
Nairobi - As was probably true of the Moi regime, when you
have been in
power for so long, you may no longer imagine yourself out of it. For you
forget that your protracted stay was a result of political fraud. You come
to think of your manipulations of the electoral machine as the natural order
of things. An election defeat may prove shocking. Following the historic
defeat of Dr Robert Mugabe's party in local polls on Wednesday, a central
spokesman for the ruling Zanu PF party has admitted as much. Said
Information minister Jonathan Moyo: "It was a rude wake-up call... The
writing was on the wall, but somehow we did not read it." The frankness is
refreshing from a government for so long associated with prevarications.
Indeed, Harare is to be commended for allowing, for a change, a relatively
free ballot and for not tampering with the counting.
This is one thing we can say for Mr Moi. A time came when
rigging of the vote-machine would almost certainly have landed Kenya into
prolonged bloodshed. President Moi's party was defeated, handed over power
willingly and with dignity, and thus saved the country the kind of civil war
that has torn asunder so many similarly situated African countries. We agree
that the international rapporteurs of the Zimbabwe conflict are party to the
conflict and, therefore, cannot be detached chroniclers of it. The cinch is
that the British media exaggerate things against Dr Mugabe to whip up world
opinion in Britain's favour. Certain usually disinterested observers affirm,
nevertheless, that the Mugabe regime has become too regimented and too
undermined to serve popular needs any more. Hence the urgent need for it to
call it a day. That is the lesson we hope it has learnt from the "wake-up
call" - to conduct the freest possible General Election and get out of it
Zanu PF prepares for Mugabe exit
By John Makura
THE ruling Zanu PF party will at the end of this month start holding
district and provincial elections throughout the country, in a move party
insiders say could be aimed at consolidating the party’s structures before
President Robert Mugabe leaves office, The Standard has learnt.
Insiders say President Mugabe is keen to see his party rejuvenated
before he engages in any dialogue with the MDC, which could possibly lead to
fresh elections pitting his party, without him, and the opposition party.
A circular addressed to all provincial chairmen, which is in The
Standard’s possession, confirms that the minister of Youth Development,
Gender and Employment Creation, Elliot Manyika, who is also Zanu PF’s
national commissar, has already directed that elections be held throughout
the country to choose a new party leadership in a few weeks’ time.
This comes hardly three years after his predecessor and ‘homeboy’, the
late Border Gezi, restructured the party in an exercise that earned him many
enemies within the party.
The circular, dated 6 August 2003, directs that district elections be
held towards the end of September, followed by district coordinating
committee elections in October and provincial polls in November. Zanu PF
holds its annual conference in December.
Although Manyika’s circular says the programme is “to come up with
properly elected and properly-constituted organs of the party”, Zanu PF
officials who spoke to The Standard said the new developments are aimed at
strengthening the party before Mugabe steps down.
“The current leaders of the party at provincial level have not
completed their term of office. They were elected either in 2000 or 2001
when the late Border Gezi (Zanu PF’s former national commissar) headed the
commissariat department. It is only Harare province that is currently led by
an interim executive. So why should we hold elections now?” said one
provincial chairman who refused to be named.
A party insider said apart from the timing, the elections were
different from others in that only politburo members were required to
“Traditionally, provincial executives would supervise or oversee
district elections. Never before have district elections been supervised by
politburo members. I honestly see them ushering in something new,” one
official said without elaborating.
Manyika yesterday refused to comment on the issue. “Imi munombonyora
zvakanaka here imi? (You never publish anything good). I don’t want to waste
my time. Forget it!” Manyika ranted.
According to the circular, most Zanu PF heavyweights, save for Mugabe,
his two deputies (Simon Muzenda and Joseph Msika) and national chairman,
John Nkomo, will supervise the elections.
Desperate vendors invade cemeteries
By Caiphas Chimhete
AS economic hardships continue to bite, some enterprising vendors are
making brisk business selling food commodities at cemeteries around the
country, once considered sacred and tranquil places.
Traditionally, graveyards are viewed as sacred places that should only
be visited by those burying their loved ones. It was until now a taboo to
sell anything within the vicinity of a cemetery.
However, when The Standard visited Granville cemetery along Beatrice
road last week, food vendors numbering about 15 were lined up selling food
items only a few metres away from where bereaved families were burying their
The vendors sell food commodities ranging from ice cream, oranges,
apples, bananas, freezits and green maize cobs in contravention of the Urban
Councils’ Act and the city council by-laws, which prohibit the selling of
food in open places and cemeteries.
Nineteen-year-old Tawanda Muzondiwa of Glen Norah high-density suburb
said he was not concerned about the taboos, by-laws or health implications
as long as he makes a living.
“I make quick money here because there are fewer vendors. The city
centre is congested and competition is very stiff, which forces vendors to
reduce prices,” said Muzondiwa who sells green maize cobs at the shrine.
While some people who spoke to The Standard welcomed the vendors’
business initiative, others condemned them in the strongest terms.
“Shrines are supposed to be revered places and not like parks where
kids play around all day long. We should respect the dead the way they used
to be respected before,” said one mourner at the cemetery.
Contacted for comment, Harare City Council spokesperson, Cuthberth
Rwazemba, was as usual elusive.
“I am in a bank queue, phone after 30 minutes,” he said.
However, Harare City Councillor and medical doctor, Christopher
Mushonga, said the selling of food in cemeteries was not allowed and should
be stopped with immediate effect as it was a health hazard.
“It is prohibited under the Urban Councils’ Act and if those people
wish to vend they should just apply for a licence like any other vendor.
They will be granted the right place to do their business,” said Mushonga.
However, Movement for Democratic Change shadow Minister of Local
Government and National Affairs, Gabriel Chaibva, said although selling food
in cemeteries was prohibited, the current harsh economic environment had
forced people to scrounge for an honest way of living.
“These are real marketeers with ingenious ways of pushing their
products so they try by all means to position themselves at strategic
positions,” said Chaibva.
About 65% of Zimbabweans are living below the poverty datum line and
as the economic situation deteriorates, more people are turning to any means
that can earn them money for survival.
Economists say more and more Zimbabweans will soon live below the
poverty datum line as the economy further slumps and inflation, currently at
400%, erodes whatever savings they had made as well as reducing their
Presently, the prices of basic commodities have skyrocketed beyond the
reach of many Zimbabweans. There is also a critical shortage of fuel,
foreign currency and even bank notes, making life a misery for the ordinary
The Economic Intelligence Unit expects Zimbabwe’s economy to continue
its downward spiral next year, resulting in six years of decline on real
gross domestic product (GDP).
Last year alone, real GDP shrunk by 12,1% owing to the disruption of
agriculture caused by the fast-track land reform programme.
Mbengeranwa set to bounce back
By Henry Makiwa
FORMER Harare city council health director, Dr Lovemore Mbengeranwa,
is set to bounce back at the Town House amid reports that the commission set
up by government to probe allegations levelled against suspended executive
mayor, Elias Mudzuri, is winding up its work and is expected to summon him
within the next two weeks.
Sources close to the commission yesterday disclosed to The Standard
that Mbengeranwa, who started working for the city in 1975 and was dismissed
in April for alleged insubordination, had been absolved of any wrong
doing—paving the way for the executive committee to reinstate him in a
matter of weeks.
Said a source close to the inquiry: “The committee has almost finished
probing all named city council officials and most have indicated that
Mbengeranwa was a victim of power struggles. He was actually a sacrificial
lamb as the city kept assigning him functions beyond his designation, such
as administering refuse collection.
“The executive council has already been briefed on the matter and is
now expected to reinstate Mbengeranwa. The latest revelations will not be
good news for Mudzuri’s case as he is supposed to meet the committee in the
next two weeks.”
The sources also disclosed that Mudzuri faces a mammoth task in
absolving himself because of what they termed unclear circumstances
surrounding the sacking of some city officials, and flouting of tender
procedures. However, it is understood that the commision will be carrying
out its work in an impartial and professional manner.
Mudzuri, who overwhelmingly won the capital’s mayoral elections in
March 2002 as the candidate for the opposition Movement for Democratic
Change (MDC), was suspended without salary by Chombo in April this year on
allegations of abuse of power, incompetence, corruption and mismanagement,
before a committee was set up a to investigate the ousted mayor.
He has, however, challenged his suspension at the High court and
accused the committee investigating him of harbouring partisan motives,
alleging that its members belong to the ruling Zanu PF party.
Mudzuri yesterday said: “I am not aware of this committee. If anyone
has proof of any wrongdoing that I may have done, they should charge me in
an open and public court of law not through some obscure committee.
“I know that I did an honest job for Harare residents before I was
illegally and illegitimately suspended because Chombo and his party suspect
I have political ambitions, and want to nip them in the bud,” Mudzuri said.
Zimsec workers issue strike ultimatum
By our own Staff
ZIMBABWE Schools Examination Council (Zimsec) workers have threatened
to go on industrial action unless management reviews their salaries and
institute a probe into allegations of mismanagement rocking the exams body,
it emerged yesterday.
On Thursday, the workers gave Zimsec, which is in the middle of a
delayed marking exercise of the 2003 June Advanced and Ordinary level
examinations, a 14-day ultimatum to award them a 22% cost of living
adjustment or face a crippling work stoppage.
Addressing workers at a lunchtime open-air meeting, Kennias
Shamuyarira, the secretary general of the National Education Union of
Zimbabwe (NEUZ), accused Zimsec director, Happy Ndanga, and his management
team of bequeathing themselves with high perks and luxurious lifestyles at
the expense of the workers.
“Zimsec is holding the nation to ransom. The directorate is on a
buying spree of the latest cars yet they claim they have no funds for
marking examinations,” Shamuyarira said.
Zimsec reportedly failed to raise the $5bn required to sustain the
June examination marking process leading to a shift from the traditional
marking system where markers used to convene at a central venue to mark the
Residents up against Zanu Pf ‘camps’
By our own Staff
BULAWAYO—Community structures used by Zanu PF youths as bases during
the 2000 and 2001 pre-election periods should never again be allowed to be
used in the same manner in future campaigns because this creates hostility
in the townships, say residents of Bulawayo.
The camps, mainly community halls and clubs around the city, were
allegedly used by ‘Green Bombers’ as torture chambers, allege residents.
The torture chambers included community halls in Nketa and Sauerstown
and the Salukazi Beer Hall in Njube, as well as Zanu PF premises at its
provincial headquarters, the residents said.
Some residents complained that sexual torture and rape was rampant at
the centres, raising fears of a possible increase in HIV infections and
Cases of assault and theft reportedly escalated during the ‘Green
Bombers’ campaign at the community halls.
Miss Violet Moyo from Sizinda suburb, one of the areas where the youth
brigades allegedly camped, said: “We cannot have the same situation again.
Enough is enough … they must never return here during future election
Elliot Manyika, the Minister of Youth, Gender and Employment Creation,
who is responsible for the ‘Green Bombers’, dismissed the residents’
“This is nonsense. Everything you say is nonsense,” Manyika said when
contacted for comment.
Gvt benefits from low interest rates
THE government has been reluctant to increase interest rates to market
levels, a move that would help ease the current cash crisis, because it is
run on cheap money borrowed from the local market, economists have said.
Increasing interest rates would result in the government, which has a
domestic debt of over $570bn, forking out huge sums of money to its lenders.
Presently, interest rates are around 80% while money on call fetches
less than 10% interest per month, a percentage far less than inflation,
currently at 399,5%. This discourages people from depositing money in banks.
Independent economic analyst, John Robertson, believes increasing
interest rates to at least 200% would help ease the cash crisis that has
gripped the country. He said higher interest rates discourage people from
hoarding cash, as they would be enticed to deposit it in banks.
“Although the 200% is well below inflation levels it will at least
lure people to come forward and make deposits,” said Robertson, who however
added that a figure above the inflation level would be more feasible.
Long queues have become an common sight in the country’s urban centres
as people jostle to withdraw cash from their banks, with some financial
houses limiting withdrawals to $2 000 a day.
The government will this month withdraw the $500 notes currently in
circulation and print new ones in a bid to force people who are hoarding
cash to release it. A $1 000 note is set to be introduced next month to ease
The Economist Intelligence Unit has said the current economic crisis
is a direct result of the government’s failure to reduce the country’s
unsustainable fiscal deficit, which is estimated at over 10,5% of the gross
domestic product (GDP). This year alone, it overspent by over $670bn, a
figure almost equal to the initial budget allocation.
Economic crisis floors Chikwanha centre
By Henry Makiwa
AN unsightly mass of human waste and a repulsive odour of acrid stench
greets you as you drive in. Further afield, rising smoke skims from heaps of
burning garbage, while heaps of scrap metal litter the entire area.
No signs say “Welcome” but you have indeed arrived at Chitungwiza’s
once famed Chikwanha business centre.
This, for those in the know, is where it all used to happen a few
years ago, what with the then popular night spots, braai centres and the
abundant thriving home industries.
Chikwanha, like most business centres across Zimbabwe, was heavily
patronised by residents of Chitungwiza and other suburbs who trooped there
either to have a good time or to buy various goods.
There was no indication then that a few years down the line,
Chikwanha, after succumbing to a crippling political and economic crisis
sparked by the skewed policies of the ruling Zanu PF party, would turn into
a pale shadow of its former self.
“I have lived here for most of my life and I can say that this is
definitely not the Chikwanha we used to know,” says 65-year-old Davison
Mutasa who requests to be addressed as “Mudhara” (old man).
Mutasa says the sorry state of Chikwanha, once a hub of social
activities and a thriving spot for informal business activities that later
attracted industrial and commercial investors, is cause for the government
to urgently formulate a panacea for the country’s woes.
He said: “Most businesses have closed shop here. Only those of
perverted morals such as prostitutes and drug dealers are still cashing in
here. The rest of us are struggling but we can not go on begging for bread
crumbs and living from hand to mouth without voicing our plight.”
For years, Mutasa enjoyed good times while employed as a construction
worker at Chikwanha, but his fortunes have since drastically changed.
“I sometimes go for days without work. Things have been going downhill
over the past few years and if this trend continues, the future becomes too
ghastly to contemplate.”
It’s not only Mutasa who is bemoaning this sad state of affairs at the
Eric Munyoro, 32-year-old electronic gadgets specialist, says his
business is no longer viable because of the foreign and local currency
shortages, coupled with the inaccessibility of electronic wares.
“I am caught between a rock and a hard place as I struggle to maintain
a balance between fending for my wife and three children, and sustaining the
welfare of my three workers,” said the self-taught technician.
The rentals of his 10 square-metre workshop has quadrupled during the
past month alone.
Said Mollen Mukwanda who runs an open-air food outlet at Chikwanha:
“The food shortages that have gripped the nation have dealt a severe
blow to our operations because sometimes we have no cooking oil or mealie
meal to prepares dishes for our customers.
“When the commodities are available they are only found on the black
market where they cost an arm and a leg.”
Keep quiet: clergy warned
By our own Staff
ZANU PF has told church leaders involved in efforts to bring it and
the opposition MDC party to the negotiating table to stop making press
statements about the “talks about talks”, it has emerged.
Sources close to efforts to resuscitate last year’s stalled talks
between the two warring parties last week told The Standard that senior Zanu
PF stalwarts had warned the clergy that the party would not co-operate with
the clergy if it kept on divulging developments concerning the talks to the
“Zanu PF has issued out a veiled threat that if the church keeps
updating the nation about developments around the talks, they may pull out
of the efforts altogether,” said a source who refused to be named.
Contacted for comment Trevor Manhanga, the spokesman of the church’s
efforts, said: “The talks have not started yet...that is common knowledge.
We cannot keep responding to what each and everyone says every five minutes;
that would be counter-productive. So we want Zimbabweans to be patient, the
church will inform them of the developments in due time.”
Zanu PF spokesman, Nathan Shamuyarira yesterday said: “I can not
comment on anything concerning talks. We have neither met the church nor
formally talked to the MDC and that is it.”
Overpowering stench as bodies strain mortuaries
By Caiphas Chimhete
THE choking smell of death that emanates from the mortuary repulses
even the most strong-hearted of the bereaved. Some nearly throw up.
Only older relatives and close friends bravely make their way into the
mortuary, but with their mouths and nose covered by handkerchiefs in a
futile attempt to lessen the impact of the stench as they hasten to take
their beloved ones for burial.
Some big green flies, popularly known as ‘Green Bombers’, hover all
over the windows seeking to enter the mortuary and feast on the decaying
“This is what we experience everyday but we are now used to it,” says
a middle-aged mortuary attendant, a cup of tea and a piece of bread in hand
as she made her way from the mortuary reception area to take breakfast at a
nearby parking bay.
This is Parirenyatwa Hospital, one of Zimbabwe largest referral
centres that was once the beacon of the highest health standards in the
southern African region.
To gain full access into the mortuary, The Standard news crew
pretended that they were looking for a missing person, one Lucas Makura,
whom they suspected might have died.
One of the mortuary attendants quickly skipped through several pages
of the “Register of Death” but could not find the name.
“He might be one of the two unidentified vagrants that were brought
here by the police, come here and see if he is here,” said the attendant.
The two cold rooms that she opened released a much stronger and
revolting stench but she did not stop talking: “The cold rooms are old and
no longer function properly, that is why we have this problem.”
Apart from the terrible stench, the two cold rooms were tightly
packed. Some bodies were heaped on the floor with identification tags on
them while others were packed in trays.
However, it was not possible to establish the number of bodies at
Parirenyatwa Hospital but the situation at the mortuary is reflective not
only of the state of mortuaries in Zimbabwe, but the general and alarming
deteriorating health standards countrywide.
Harare Central Hospital, another premier health centre in the country,
is in a worse situation. With a holding capacity of 146 bodies, the hospital
has been forced to squeeze in more than 500 bodies in its old cold rooms.
To make way for new bodies and create space, the hospital has since
2000 donated 41 unclaimed bodies at its mortuary to the University of
Apart from the overcrowding in the mortuaries, Zimbabwe has been
gripped by a shortage of medical personnel, drugs and equipment. The
situation is expected to worsen as the economic meltdown continues unabated.
“People no longer respect the dead, they simply do not come to claim
bodies of their relatives or loved ones because burial is now costly. That
is why we have a lot of pauper burials these days,” said an undertake who
identified himself as Murehwa.
The problem is compounded by the Aids pandemic, which is claiming at
least 3 800 people every week, resulting in mortuaries failing cope with the
number of bodies that need space.
Efforts to get a comment from the Minister of Health and Child
Welfare, David Parirenyatwa, were fruitless as he was said to be outside the
Browsing problems for Internet users
By our own Staff
ZIMBABWE Internet users are experiencing serious Internet browsing
problems because signal traffic that was previously routed direct to South
Africa is being rerouted through the Mazoe Earth Station because of
contractual disagreements between the two countries.
Mazoe Earth Station is Zimbabwe’s largest international
telecommunications link and the rerouting of traffic has caused serious
congestion countrywide. The problem has been affecting local Internet
browsers for the past few days.
One of the country’s largest Internet service providers, M-Web, said
TelOne and Telcom South Africa have renegotiated a contract to route traffic
in a way that would ease congestion.
“Once this contract has been signed, implementation of the rerouting
will take two to three days,” said M-Web in a message to its customers.
The Internet organisation said it had already alerted the Postal and
Communication Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (Potraz), the country’s sole
communication regulatory body, of the slow browsing problem.
M-Web said it was working closely with TelOne to try and rectify the
browsing problem and was hopeful the issue would be rectified urgently.
An official with Africa Online also confirmed the problem of slow
browsing speed, and said the organisation was also working flat out to find
“We have had that problem for the past few days and we are working on
it,” he said.
Mugabe now a sacrificial lamb
WHATEVER means Mugabe used to become the leader of Zanu PF and
ultimately, of Zimbabwe, his degrees in violence must have been pivotal to
Along the way since our independence in 1980, Mugabe was preoccupied
with the fortification of his political power at the expense of serving the
nation. He learnt to control the electronic media; he learnt to be the
minister of everything. He also learnt to create an atmosphere of patronage
to his party, Zanu PF. The army and the police force who are national
institutions, and are supposed to serve the nation have been heavily
Mugabe is therefore a proud owner of a partisan army and police force.
He has also learnt to amend the constitution as many times as he wishes all
in favour of himself and his cronies. Above all, Mugabe has learnt to be the
law unto himself.
Since 2000 when the people of Zimbabwe rejected the partisan draft
constitution in a referendum, we have received a severe backlash from Zanu
PF under Mugabe for rejecting his ideas. At his disposal, Mugabe has the
army, police force, the war veterans and the rogue Zanu PF youth to carry
out his orders.
Faced with an embarrassing defeat in 2000 parliament elections, Mugabe
made one of his biggest political blunders by launching his chaotic land
redistribution exercise. It was an off target short although it was meant to
resuscitate his waning popularity. The results of that disastrous move are
now very clear for all who care to see.
Top army, CIO, police force, governors, ministers and many other civil
servants took advantage of this blunder and are now proud owners of many
farms against Zanu PFÕs policy of one-man-one farm. It was corruption at its
best if you ask me. By allowing corruption to flourish within the Zanu PF
corridors, Mugabe was pressing hard his self destructive button. Everyone
who amassed wealth through the corrupt means presented by Mugabe, is happy
to see him stay put. They will tell us ÒRambai makashingaÓ.
Indeed, Gushungo has surrounded himself with a team of sycophants,
praise-singers and yes-men who constantly fall over each other in front of
Mugabe to show how loyal they are, but not to the country but to him as an
individual. The likes of Jonathan Moyo, Joseph Made, Patrick Chinamasa,
Joseph Chinotimba and a host of Zanu PF hangersÐon. All these people are
beneficiaries of our crisis as a country.
For these reasons, Mugabe is now a sacrificial lamb who is being told
to stay where he is by these greedy people, who benefit from his
mismanagement of both politics and the economy. We are where we are because
of Zanu PFÕs complete failure to recognise the basic principles of good
Castigating MDC leaders, Morgan Tsvangirai in particular, as an front
for the west, using the Zanunised electronic media, will neither save
matters nor kickÐstart our collapsed economy.
To Mugabe, I say, you still have time to repent. Do not be sacrificed
by those who use you for their selfish reasons. After having assured the
three church leaders of your desire to commit yourself to talks with the
MDC, why did you let Chinamasa give contradictory statements? And your
statements on the HeroesÕ Day, if anything, poured cold water on the long
Indeed, if there is any repentance to be made, it is Zanu PF and
Mugabe in particular should repent and say they were wrong yesterday by
destroying our once glorious country to the heap of rubbish it is today.
No one but ourselves to blame for forex woes
AS Zimbabwe experiences one of the worst economic
recessions in the
world, one of the issues identified by many commentators is that the country
is not generating enough foreign currency.
Exporters have either been blamed for externalising this commodity or
been urged to do more to bring more of this required hard currency.
It is my conviction that exporters in this country are doing their bit
to bring in foreign currency. I say this because of the following
¥ Brand new cars of top class makes is a sign that this country still
has the capacity to import luxuries. Remember, this country does not
manufacture cars Ð it only assembles a limited number of models.
¥ The government still has the capacity to buy brand new cars for the
armed forces, police and ministers. Where is the hard currency coming from?
I donÕt want to believe that the government is dealing on the black market.
¥ The country is ÔawashÕ with cellphones. I am still to learn of a
place in Zimbabwe where these are manufactured.
¥ The country can still afford to send delegations to conferences
around the world irrespective of benefits derived.
¥ The countryÕs economic system is computerising fast. The country is
not a manufacturer of computers, so how are the computers coming in?
I can go on but the few examples given above indicate that this
country is generating more foreign currency than some neighbouring countries
which have stable economies.
Perhaps it is how the hard currency is used that is causing all the
problems. Does the government care how the foreign currency is used? Who is
supposed to monitor the use of foreign currency? Is it proper to blame
others for problems we have created as a sovereign State?
I believe a truly sovereign stateÕ should be able to solve its foreign
currency problems without pointing fingers. The problem is ours led by the
present day government with its strange policies dictated solely by
MDC must now act like a gvt-in-waiting
Sundaytalk with Pius Wakatama
Despite all manner of shenanigans by the ruling Zanu PF party to
maintain its stranglehold on the people of Zimbabwe, it was roundly thrashed
by the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) in the just ended
council and parliamentary by-elections.
This should send a clear message to a number of people that the MDC is
not a puppet creation of the British as often proclaimed by our President
and his losing party but a party backed by the majority of Zimbabweans which
expresses their genuine feelings today.
The first group of people who should accept this fact, unpalatable as
it may be, is President Robert Mugabe and his Zanu PF. They will continue to
harass, intimidate and torture members of the MDC at their own political
peril. They should accept the inevitable and learn to live with it. They
should accept the MDC as a loyal opposition which should be accorded
recognition and respect as is done in democratic societies.
To continue to hysterically brand them as enemies of the people to be
eliminated will only serve to prove that they are indeed mindless buffoons
as some of us have always said they are. Continued violence against the MDC
will only serve to prove further that Zanu PF is an organisation of
intolerant despots whose real interest is not Zimbabwe but their own
stomachs and physical comfort.
They should quickly set about redeeming the time. Calling on the MDC
to repent only proves to the population and the observing outside world,
that our President and his small coterie of hawkish sycophants are totally
out of touch with reality.
The flouncing of Zanu PF in these elections should also send a clear
message, if not warning to hangers on, civil servants, our armed forces and
the police that the time for being used as political tools by Zanu PF is now
In Shona we say,Ó Chidhanana chera mwena, mvura zhinji ichauyaÓ
(Lizard, dig a hole now for great rain is coming).
The people of Zimbabwe have demonstrated clearly that the MDC is going
to form the next government of this country. The chances for Zanu PF being
able to rig and intimidate their way into power again are nil. Despite all
the rigging and intimidation in the just ended elections the MDC romped home
to victory in comfort.
Our service chiefs should be wary. They should not be pushed into
making unpatriotic and irrational statements, as they did in the 2002
presidential elections when they declared that they would not pay allegiance
to any elected President who was not a liberation war veteran. It is not for
them to decide who will or who will not rule Zimbabwe. Only the people of
Zimbabwe have that right. Their duty as professional public servants is to
accept and support ZimbabweÕs choice for President according to the
Unlike today, their duty will be to protect the people of Zimbabwe
from outside aggression, to assist in times of national disaster and to
maintain law and order internally.
The success of the MDC at the polls despite several obstacles should
also send a message to the leadership of that party. The people of Zimbabwe
have placed their faith in them and they should act accordingly. They should
start to act like a government Ð inÐwaiting rather than as a group of
political activists without confidence in their political power. Real power
does not lie in the militias, the armed forces or the police. It lies in the
trust of the people which the MDC now has.
The MDC offered an olive branch to the ruling party by calling off
their annual boycott of the PresidentÕs opening address to parliament. Their
leader, Morgan Tsvangirai attended the opening of parliament thus
recognising Mugabe as the de-facto president of Zimbabwe. As we all know,
this was arrogantly snubbed by Mugabe who went on to call on the MDC to
ÒrepentÓ. Surely, that was enough.
The MDC should forget about dialogue with Zanu PF because that party
has clearly demonstrated that it is not interested in ending the present
national crisis except on its own terms.
Church leaders, too, have done their part as mediators and
peace-makers, according to their Biblical mandate. For their efforts they
have been labelled insincere and partisan. They too should now forget the
dialogue approach. Instead, they should concentrate on educating the people
about the truth of our situation in the light of the word of God and
organising fervent nation-wide prayers for the suffering nation.
The just ended elections were marked by voter apathy. For whatever
reason, people did not come out in droves to vote. Secondly, the elections
showed that in Mashonaland, the MDC has its stronghold in urban areas while
Zanu PF still holds sway in rural areas. These are the issues which the MDC
should concern itself with rather that seeking to dialogue with the sinking
Zanu PF party. By rejecting the mediation of the churches, Zanu PF has shown
that it is not interested in resolving our problems through dialogue Ñso be
So some of my kindred spirits against Zanu PF oppression, like Dr John
Makumbe, feel that the MDC should go forward with boycotts and mass
I beg to differ. The environment is now not conducive to politics of
Remember the kicks of a dying horse are dangerous. It will only give
the government an opportunity to imprison, rape, torture and kill. The
people have suffered enough as it is.
What is needed is the more sophisticated approach through the ballot
box. God does perform miracles. Who knows, we may have more than five
elections before the term of the present parliament expires. The MDC must be
It the people decide that they have suffered enough and embark on some
physical demonstration, that is up to them. There are enough pro-democracy
organisations through which they can do that rather than through the MDC. Of
course, the MDC should lend its moral support but as the
governmentÐinÐwaiting, it should concern itself more in building and
strengthening its party structures. During the past stayaways,
disorganisation and lack of information was the order of the day. People in
the townships, including their leaders did not seem to know what was going
on or what the plan was.
Apart from information flow, the other area the MDC should seriously
look at is that of security. It is disheartening to hear that in some areas
MDC candidates were beaten up by Zanu PF thugs.
I have witnessed throngs of MDC supporters fleeing from a handful of
Zanu PF thugs while the police watched. If the police are not prepared to
apprehend Zanu PF law breakers, then it is high time MDC supporters
They are not mice, but men and should, therefore, not watch helplessly
as their women are raped and beaten up. They must fight back.
He who has ears to hear, let him hear.
Election result: Another chance for Zanu PF to reflect
THE trouncing of the ruling party by the opposition
Democratic Change party (MDC) in the recent elections presents yet another
opportunity for Zanu PF to pause, take stock of what it means and the
direction in which they are taking this country.
Make no mistake. The ruling party was well and truly trounced; they
should not have the gall to pretend otherwise. Instead, we strongly feel
that it is time for Zanu PF to calmly reflect on it, to make a serious
historical and critical analysis of the Zimbabwean society as it is now and
to draw the necessary conclusions and lessons for the future.
How is it that a party whose political tradition is steeped in the
revolutionary and democratic culture of Zimbabwe, and whose legitimacy was
not in doubt in 1980, could fail to read the signs of the fast-changing
times? For indeed it is a far cry from the euphoria that greeted its coming
to power in April 1980. Popular disaffection is now translating into big
losses in every election since the February 2000 referendum.
Save for the areas where MDC candidates were barred from registering
by the ruling party militia and thugs, Zanu PF took a severe battering.
Political intimidation and violence once again ruled the day in areas such
as Marondera, Kwekwe, Bindura, Karoi and Kadoma and it was hardly surprising
that Zanu PF won in these areas.
It is not in the medium and long-term interest of Zanu PF to be seen
to be intimidating opposition candidates into not registering for the
electoral process. Those who intend to govern can only do so through the
consent of the people. Political legitimacy can only be achieved through a
transparent, free and fair electoral process. And that is why Zimbabweans
struggled for national liberation since the 1890s until independence was
achieved in 1980.
It was never for Zanu PF to rule in perpetuity. There is a crying
need — and responsibility — for Zanu PF to understand the reasons for its
rejection by the voters rather than burying their heads in the sands each
time defeat stares them in the face. And, in opposition, Zanu PF can examine
what went wrong, renew and rejuvenate itself and come back to fight another
For it is only when a party is in opposition that it can have the time
to reflect and rebuild its political machine. When this happens, a tradition
of true democracy of in-and-out-of-power would have been truly established
in Zimbabwe. To win stability is much more important than winning elections.
Democracy is a work in progress and men and women of goodwill in Zanu
PF can help in this whole process by not only acknowledging the successes of
the ruling party in some areas but also acknowledging its grand failures in
others. This is the only way to strengthen the democratic process in the
Zanu PF is now paying the price for the destruction of the country. It
is tragically underestimating the dissatisfaction and enormous suffering in
country where a family of six needs $181 000 worth of groceries each
month but the minimum wage is $47 000 a month. There is popular discontent —
the urban-rural divide, wedged by Zanu PF for political expediency,
Repression and despair is at the very heart of all the Zanu PF
politics in Zimbabwe at the moment. And it is suicidal for President Mugabe
and his lieutenants to remain, or give the impression of remaining, in
dangerous ignorance of what is going on in the country. We should indeed ask
the ruling party whether the freedom that Zimbabweans fought for was a
freedom for a small clique to rule forever and benefit from this chaos and
the freedom of the rest of us to suffer along?
As long as Zanu PF remains defiant and refuses to acknowledge its
mistakes and do something to correct them, the MDC bulldozer will be
unstoppable. In an important way, this development in democracy should augur
well for the people of Zimbabwe. Whether few people bothered to vote is
neither here nor there. The opposition won and that is very significant.
In fact, it is a worldwide trend that fewer and fewer people are
turning out to vote in elections. For some reason, there is now a tendency
to withdraw from politics. Zimbabwe is not alone in this although it has to
be acknowledged that given the crisis that has engulfed this country, which
has seen people queuing for long hours for—of all things—their hard earned
cash, it is only when people exercise their democratic right to vote that a
reversal of this downward spiral can be effected.
Be that as it may, it is heartening to see that democracy in Zimbabwe
is evolving quite rapidly—thanks to the formidable challenge to Zanu PF by
MDC. Monopoly of power by one party leads to complacency and arrogance and
is dangerous to the well being of the country in the long run.
So, in reality, the profound crisis which the ruling party and the
country as a whole is undergoing may yet prove to be a blessing in disguise.
Some you win, some you lose even when you cheat
overthetop By Brian Latham
There’s little to cheer in the troubled central African country. It’s
a pretty dismal place, filled with hungry people who spend most of their
time (and a lot of their employers’ time) in queues.
But last week there was a little glimmer of hope when the Zany Party
lost its footing — and a few footholds — in elections that gave the Zany
Party quite a turn.
It wasn’t as if people were voting for the opposition More Drink
Coming Party. Actually, most people weren’t voting at all because ... well,
it was hot and there was all that violence and there was no money to buy
food that wasn’t there.
No, the people who were voting were voting against the Zany Party.
It was what’s called a negative poll.
Still, it doesn’t really matter who people were voting for or against.
What matters is that the Zany Party suffered a bloody nose, and that’s a
bloody good thing.
There was mystery, too. Over The Top ventured out of the troubled
capital to view people not voting. Gangs of Zany youths and zanier women
were strategically placed close to the “not polling today” stations. And
just in case someone was foolhardy enough to believe the polling booths were
actually open, the Zany youths pointed out that they weren’t.
That, of course, happened after the Zany people had cast their own
But, and this is the surprising bit, if only Zany people were able to
vote, how on earth did the More Drink Coming Party do so well? Surely Zany
voters didn’t vote for the opposition? Perish the thought.
Meanwhile, in a once busy resort town, an infamous Zany stronghold,
the More Drink Coming ousted the ruling party. And it didn’t stop there. The
people in this hot little dorp committed a terrible sin by electing as their
mayor a man whose complexion suggests he might be a descendent of the
dreaded Mud Islanders.
The troubled central African regime’s even more troubled
disinformation minister, who was clearly gobsmacked by the turn of events,
described this extraordinary affair as “unbelievable”. For the first time in
years, the normally voluble minister, much given to denigration and rude
innuendo, was at a loss for words.
Well, almost. He still managed to tell the More Drink Coming Party to
“shut up” and he had a few strong words for the Australian prime minister.
If it did nothing else, the polls gave troubled central Africans some
respite from endless Zany gloating. Not that Zany soul searching was
pleasant to listen to.
Having to endure Zany lectures about “getting back to basics” was
nauseating, though it’s amusing to note that the last politician to use the
term was a little grey pseudo- Tory called John Major — and we all know what
happened to him. He came a cropper after destroying the one political party
that had been the only thing worth calling great to come out of Britain in
In fact, since Major got back to basics, the whole country’s gone to
pot, or would have if it weren’t so damned expensive.
Perhaps the same thing will happen to the troubled central African
basket case now that it’s going to get back to basics. Because really, the
only basics troubled central Africans want to get back to involve cheap beer
and being able to go to bed at night without worrying about some green clad
hooligan setting fire to your house at night.
government-controlled media’s role as a public relations organ for the
authorities was evident in the way it suppressed socio-political stories with
the potential to further dent the public image of the ZANU PF government. As a
result, their audiences remained uninformed on the extent to which government’s
decisions - sometimes with the complicity of fellow African governments - have
contributed to the deteriorating political situation in the country.
While the private media was not inhibited by such political leanings, their stories on the issue lacked a holistic approach, relying more on the events themselves rather than on the processes. For example, although The Daily News (20, 21/8) and The Zimbabwe Independent (22/8) blew the whistle on how African countries appear reluctant to act decisively to solve Zimbabwe’s political crisis, they failed to fully relate these events in the context of seemingly wider conspiracies to protect ZANU PF’s image at the expense of ordinary Zimbabweans.
At least The Zimbabwe Independent story, Commission blocks damning Zim report, noted that the refusal by the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights to release the report of its human rights probe into the country was meant to protect Mugabe’s image ahead of a Commonwealth Summit to be held in Nigeria in December. It also observed that previous reports on Zimbabwe’s poor human rights record by Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch “have been rejected by African states who accuse the two of Western bias”.
The government-controlled Press, on the other hand, remained silent over these allegations. Eight of the nine stories it carried merely glossed over the deep political crisis in the country by trying to promote a sense of normality. So determined was the government Press to sell this idea to its readers that it carried four stories, The Herald (19, 20, 22/8), on how government and the MDC-dominated Harare City Council had resolved to work together. But nowhere in the reports were the councillors ever quoted confirming that the root of their disagreement with government had indeed been eradicated.
Besides papering over the uneasy political situation through propaganda disguised as news, the government-controlled Press also tried to stifle other voices that described different situations. The Herald (23/8) carried a personal tirade against Australian Prime Minister John Howard for calling Mugabe an “unelected despot”, while The Sunday Mail (24/8) appeared relieved that the Zimbabwe Medical Association (ZIMA) had refused to amend its constitution to incorporate a doctors’ human rights watchdog, the Zimbabwe Association of Doctors for Human Rights (ZADHR). ZADHR, which the paper accused of “having a political agenda to demonise the Zimbabwe government” and of being a creation of Britain “was allegedly formed to prepare a dossier meant to document false accusations of human rights abuses by the government …”
In fact, this was an echo of an earlier ZTV (20/8, 8pm) report on ZADHR. ZTV actually allocated 11 minutes and 25seconds, or 57 percent of its bulletin (excluding business, sport and weather) to the issue. It dismissed the doctors’ organisation as a “clique of doctors” including “some former white commercial farmers”, whose objective was to “dent the image of Zimbabwe” as it had a “political agenda against government. ” Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa was quoted alleging: “ It would appear that their intention is to raise funds from gullible donor communities outside the country who have been fed on propaganda that there are human rights abuses in this country…the human rights abuses do not exist.”
However, the private media continued to unearth evidence that exposed this fallacy. For example, Studio 7 (20/8) reported that, “ eight people have died this year in politically motivated violence,” adding that, “freedom of expression is virtually non-existent.” And the private Press carried 16 stories on the erosion of basic human rights and other related issues.
Even some ZANU PF MPs seemed fed up with the deteriorating situation. The Weekend Tribune (24/8) reported ZANU PF legislators Victor Chitongo and Charles Majange criticizing the country’s state of affairs during a parliamentary session. Chitongo reportedly took government to task over the introduction of travellers’ cheques, while Majange rebuked government against “adopting a confrontational attitude with Western countries” such as Britain and America.
The government media suffocated this although they covered the same parliamentary event.
Ends. The MEDIA UPDATE was produced and circulated by the Media Monitoring Project Zimbabwe, 15 Duthie Avenue, Alexandra Park, Harare, Tel/fax: 263 4 703702, E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com
Feel free to write to MMPZ. We may not able to respond to everything but we will look at each message. For previous MMPZ reports, and more information about the Project, please visit our website at http://www.mmpz.org.zw
A British diplomat is scheduled to play
cricket against the Zimbabwean
national team today just months after England controversially abandoned
their World Cup game there, it emerged last night.
The irony of a British government official playing against Zimbabwe in
Harare will not be lost on the England cricket team. The Government had said
at the time that any game would be seen as support for disgraced Zimbabwean
President, Robert Mugabe, and eventually the team refused to play.
At the time, the then International Development Secretary, Clare Short, said
playing matches in Zimbabwe would be seen as an endorsement of the
tyrannical regime. In December last year, Tony Blair backed calls for
England to boycott the cricket World Cup matches in Zimbabwe. A spokesman
for the Prime Minister said: "We feel it would be better if the England team
did not go, but this is a decision that can only be taken by the cricket
In January, the Culture Secretary, Tessa Jowell, said after a meeting with
the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB): "This is not the Government's
decision. It's the ECB's decision, but we think it would be inappropriate to
play the game in Zimbabwe."
Five members of the British High Commission and the Department for
International Development were initially reported to be listed for the
Butthe Foreign Office played down the British involvement in the game
yesterday, saying that just one player was a possible contender for a
charity team organised by the wife of the Pakistani High Commissioner.
The FO spokesman confirmed that the match in Harare today would be played
against the Zimbabwean national team, but stressed that if the man was
chosen, he would be playing in a private capacity and did not represent the
The spokesman refused to say whether the FO would use any pressure to ensure
the British man did not play.
Peter Tatchell, the gay rights campaigner who once attempted to arrest
Robert Mugabe on charges of torture, described the decision to play as
Hospitals in Africa deteriorating
02/09/2003 18:06 - (SA)
Johannesburg - Hospitals in Africa are deteriorating with
regards to both
their scope and quality of health care, according to a report scheduled for
discussion by the regional commission of the World Health Organisation on
Hospitals continue to experience shortages of medical equipment, essential
medicines and consumables, says the report, which was compiled for the
five-day meeting in Johannesburg.
"In addition, negative attitudes, unprofessional behaviour and high turnover
of health care practitioners have compromised service provision.
"This has led to provision of care far below expected standards resulting in
client dissatisfaction, increasing mortality rates, hospital-acquired
infections and other side-effect conditions," the document says.
"In many countries, senior public officials and the rich members of society
demonstrate their lack of trust in public hospitals by seeking medical care
in private hospitals or outside the country."
The number of hospital beds is inadequate in many countries, and inequitably
distributed between rural and urban areas, with availability ranging from
0.9 to 2.9 beds per 1 000 people.
"Lack of national health infrastructure development planning and irrational
interference in the location of hospitals account for this situation."
Countries often invest in new sophisticated diagnostic health technologies
without considering the recurrent cost implications, the report states.
"Funding for hospitals presents a dilemma as they generally consume a
greater portion of ministry of health budgets (sometimes more than 70% of
"Absolute and relative inadequacy of human resources has also led to decline
in hospital performance."
The availability of health workers like physicians range from four to 56 per
100 000 of the population in different areas.
The number of people involved in pre-service or in-service training to
become health professionals has increased considerably, but the condition of
hospitals have declined drastically.
"The result is that hospitals do not undertake their training role
Although new health infrastructures have been developed, most countries
still have dilapidated structures - with beds, medical equipment and
vehicles often in disrepair.
"Some hospitals have inadequate water, sanitation and waste disposal
facilities and are therefore hazardous to both health workers and patients,"
the document states.
"Current funding from governments is far below the real needs of hospitals,
and this is made worse by unreliable government budgetary funds and the long
delay in providing such funds."
As a result, patients are required to make out-of-pocket payments, and there
are no exemption mechanisms to protect the poor.
Most hospitals have underdeveloped information systems and research
"In some cases clinical trials are carried out without adequate ethical
consideration or consent from the participants. Some hospitals are
participating in operational research activities but often do not plan and
budget for them."
In many instances the research is not relevant to the health concerns, and
national authorities do not co-ordinate research results for future policy
purposes, the report states.
It recommends that countries increase their funding for health, and
hospitals in particular.
"Countries should resist embarking on prestigious investment projects and
reflect more on the viability, usefulness, equity and sustainability of
Regarding staff, the report says: "Policy-makers should consider offering
flexible modes of practice such as allowing health workers in the public
sector to engage in part-time private practice, research or training, and
compensating health workers based on work done rather than fixed salaries."
It also calls for staff development programmes with particular focus on
compassionate behaviour towards patients.
Hospitals should have incentive and motivation systems and establish a
conducive working environment, the document recommends.