|The ZIMBABWE Situation||Our
thoughts and prayers are with Zimbabwe |
- may peace, truth and justice prevail.
18 Sep 2003 (IRIN) - Zimbabwe's beleaguered Daily News newspaper has
won a court victory allowing it to resume publishing, after police twice
raided its offices and confiscated equipment.
The Zimbabwe High Court on Thursday granted an order sought by the Daily
News, the country's sole independent daily newspaper, barring police from
seizing equipment and giving it permission to continue operating while its
registration was being processed.
A week ago the Supreme Court ruled that the publishers of the Daily News and
its sister Sunday paper, the Daily News On Sunday, were not properly
registered and therefore operating illegally.
The Supreme Court made the ruling after refusing to hear an application by
the company, challenging the constitutionality of the registration exercise
being conducted by a government-appointed media and information commission.
On Friday last week, heavily armed riot police and security details from the
Law and Order Section and the Central Intelligence Organisation occupied the
eight-storey building housing the newspaper's offices in central Harare, as
well as the newspaper's printing factory in the industrial area of the city.
More than 100 computers were seized from the newspaper's offices on Tuesday
as police continued their crackdown.
Daily News advocate Adrian De Bourbon told the court on Thursday that the
police raids on the newspaper's offices were unacceptable.
"It was not necessary for the police to embark on a capture and seize
exercise. Police were on an ulterior, sinister and illegal exercise to
destroy and suppress press freedom," he argued.
However, the first respondent, a police Chief Superintendent Madzingo,
countered in papers submitted before the court that "we as the police do not
stand by and watch an illegality. We act, we arrest and we seize."
Section 8 of the controversial Access to Information and Protection of
Privacy Act saved the day for the newspaper as it states that a media house
whose registration forms are being considered by the media commission is
permitted to continue operations until the matter has been determined.
The Daily News lawyers submitted registration papers to the commission on
Monday this week.
A round of applause reverberated around the courtroom after Judge Yunus
Omerjee made his ruling.
The chief executive officer of the newspaper, Samuel Siphepha Nkomo, said
the company would sue the police for loss of revenue. "We generate a lot of
money from sales and advertising, but the overzealous behaviour by police
deprived us of an opportunity to earn money."
Daily News staffers' jubilation at the ruling was short-lived - upon
returning to their offices they discovered that their desk drawers had been
ransacked and cash and other personal items were missing.
Nonetheless, the staff of the Daily News were said to be battling to produce
an edition of the paper for Friday.
The closure of the paper had been met with international condemnation, as
rights groups warned that media freedom was under threat.
9/17/2003 9:36:22 PM (GMT
THE Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe’s rush of impatience with those banks it
is accusing of fuelling the foreign currency parallel market is bound to, as
surely as the sun rises from the east and sets in the west, be a public
In a series of startling events over the past few weeks, the RBZ,
which seems to be out of its depth when it comes to the problems besetting
the country’s currency markets, has already cancelled the foreign currency
dealership licence for one banking institution and has threatened to deal
the same blow to several other institutions. Law enforcement agents have
since been let loose on the banking sector but there isn’t even scant
evidence that the central bank is getting the situation under control right
now. These acts of desperation will not, in our view, help much. All it will
do is drive the thriving parallel market underground.
In fact the failings of the RBZ have become such a permanent feature
on the Zimbabwean financial scene that few, if any, believe that, even
though the jury is still out, it would be able to do anything right this
time around. This is moreso given that the tenure of the past immediate
governor Leonard Tsumba’s team has had so many banana skins in its path.
Who will forget the United Merchant Bank debacle that caused seismic
waves that shook the entire banking sector in 1998 when the central bank
failed to ring-fence the problems at UMB and only tried to address the bank’
s financial difficulties after they had emerged publicly?
Or the November 1997 exchange rate mayhem, which many felt, ended in
victory for speculators? Since then, the local unit, which up until 1997 had
been in fine fettle, initially suffered bouts of weaknesses before touching
off the terrifying swift depreciation that has seen it hit all-time lows
with devastating knock-on effects on the entire economy. Today the dollar’s
continued instability lies at the heart of the RBZ’s dilemma.
This is why it is widely felt that much as the central bank, which is
supposed to control the country’s financial levers, has in the past been
made a scapegoat for discontent over unpopular and unwise decisions
following extensive political interference, it should equally shoulder the
blame. It is a watchdog that never even barks but, in fact, sleeps on the
If anything, the RBZ should be charged with neglect. The fire-fighting
institution takes too long to intervene in critical issues and has been
known, by it own actions, to have invited further speculation particularly
in the foreign exchange market. It has sanctioned transactions in the market
at above the official market rate. A case in point is the tobacco proceeds
banks have been directed to sell to fuel procurement companies at a rate of
US$1 to Z$1 600.
Much as it is said that central bankers are like cream, such that the
more you whip them, the stiffer they get, we sincerely hope that after all
the justifiable criticism of ineptitude levelled against them, the RBZ will
realise that crisis management will not get us anywhere.
The creature behind the ZANU PF mask-
9/17/2003 9:37:37 PM (GMT +2)
On April 18 1980, the Union Jack was lowered and for the first time
thousands of our people sang "God Bless Africa".
It was the end of an era which still plagues contemporary Zimbabwean
political conversation. Independence was also the beginning of a new hope
for black Africa.
Many envied Robert Mugabe’s promising economy, significantly literate
population and imminent stability in the midst of turmoil.
Yet many also prayed for his failure, believing that white pebbles of
civilisation had been cast before swine.
This racist trait of critique and analysis resonates with some of the
anti-Mugabe writings that one reads in our papers.
In an uncharacteristic display of "sainthood" Mugabe "the so-called
terrorist" called upon his former jailers and oppressors to join him in
building an inclusive and common future for Zimbabwe. It was a plea dictated
more by economic exigencies rather than deep convictions.
Mugabe’s real challenge was that of converting the racialised
compartments of Zimbabwean society into a united democratic nation.
The fault lines in the society he inherited were legion and so were
The colonial state had invented and encouraged ethnic tension as an
effective tool for conquest and continued rule. There were also unrepentant
pockets of white neo-Nazi types.
The Zimbabwe that Mugabe inherited in 1980 was a severely divided
In the broad sense ethnic division served two purposes, namely, that
of delaying united self-liberation efforts and also that of creating
imagined bases of antagonism and suspicion.
One’s place of geographic origin — which had largely been determined
by colonial policies — was elevated to a place where it became as sacrosanct
In the enterprise of building a united nation, Mugabe — of necessity —
needed to de-trabilise as well as de-racialise Zimbabwe.
This was more than the psychological notion of co-existence because
these differences were immersed in and bounded by material differences as
In this sense re-distribution was an inescapable part-solution to the
dilemma he faced.
The settler community established for itself separate residences,
schools, social clubs, amenities, rights and privileges.
Colonial law entrenched this separateness by ensuring that blacks had
less rights, recognition and status.
It was — so the colonists argued — a condition of nature. Nature
dictated that blacks be the "hewers of wood and carriers of water".
This notion of blacks occupying a permanent labourer status pervades
every aspect of colonial thinking and policy.
Black entrepreneurship was unimaginable, let alone black leadership or
Colonial law and institutions did not just assume black incapacity;
they re-enforced and reproduced it through education, discipline, punishment
and other forms.
At the core of the colonial political economy, was stratified and
systematic denial of black humaneness, dignity and sense of worth.
Initiative and innovation were anathema to these stereotypes.
Many white folk did not understand why blacks were agitating for
change and why they were ungrateful for the menial jobs, self deprecating
civilisation and two-faced Christianity they had received at such great
sacrifice to life and limb of the missionaries.
This idea of gratitude in oppression is not entirely dissimilar to
claims by our current rulers that we should suffer silently because they
liberated us at great risk to their life and limb.
The reverse side of white hegemony was black uncertainty — and at
times, confusion about the self.
Many blacks, especially within the leadership of the nationalist
movement, exhibited a syndrome of obsession with mimicking the colonial
oppressors they were fighting in opulence and lifestyles.
This political split personality disorder was maintained and
reproduced by a ruthless civil service and very repressive laws such as the
Unlawful Organisations Act and Law and Order (Maintenance) Act.
Admittedly, there were many instances where the co-option was
voluntary due to a sense of inadequacy.
I call this the "civilised native" syndrome.
The colonial state machinery made one weigh their priorities between
principle and safety. Dissent was characterised as ingratitude, and
therefore, of necessity, devoid of virtue.
White Rhodesians thus lived in a make-belief world where the majority
black people were happy, indeed happier than their counterparts in
To them the evidence was in the seeming silence of the majority. This
illusion of a content citizenry is also similar to the "Rambayi makashinga"
cult which has emerged in the last three years.
It is a cowardly premise that is terrified of the truth and thus
creates a false sense of security through demonising its opponents as
boogey-man directed by some alien interests.
Why else would "freedom fighters" shut down private newspapers using
the heaviest-handed tactics? Why else would "liberators" detain opponents
for mere expression of discontent?
As a consequence of the Rhodesians’ insular view of the world, black
people remained largely a symbol of curiosity, sympathy or ridicule among
White children were fed a myriad of myths about blacks who were
largely referred to as "coons or kaffirs".
These myths led to an ingrained sense of mistrust and fear, which
translated itself into violence against black people.
The white citizens assumed a responsibility to tame the so-called
"black savages" or marauding communists. Ian Smith spoke of a threat to
white civilisation, Christianity and commerce.
This is frighteningly similar to notions of "a threat to the gains of
liberation" propagated by Zimbabwe’s current political leadership.
This construction of patriotism on the basis of "threats and fear" can
be referred to as "iron-fisted patriotism" or "political fundamentalism".
Political fundamentalism is an unwitting industry for political
criminals and national collapse as it shields regimes from scrutiny by their
It has nothing to do with the democratisation of ZANU PF, but rather
the "Zanunisation" of democratic and liberation discourse.
Its proponents are cocooned in a surreal world and they hold onto a
self-destructive political idiom based on false truth-claims. It espouses a
political idiom that seeks to exchange utility for morality by claiming to
represent the people’s aspirations and values.
Black and white myths had a tangible side to them, especially where
access to and ownership of resources is concerned.
The white man’s Rhodesian paradise was — also paradoxically — the
black man’s hell on earth. The co-existence and reconciliation that Mugabe
postulated in his grand speech on March 4 1980 was an illusion, one that
placated his enemies’ fears while postponing his people’s aspirations for a
It was based on the wronged side offering forgiveness to their
offenders and the offending party giving nothing real in return.
As a process, it had less to do with the broad masses than it did with
elites signing pacts regarding the accommodation of their mutual interests
within the state.
This is why 20 years later we are encouraged to . . . strike fear at
the heart of the white man, our real enemy".
A useful critique of the failings of ZANU PF and its leadership must
begin by interrogating the creature behind the mask of anti-colonial and
In a sense, we must undertake a process of discovering the creature
behind the mask.
In particular, we must determine if and how it has delivered on the
promises of independence.
Others may go further and look into the contrast between ideology and
practice in ZANU PF politicking.
If indeed there is a contradiction, a harsh critic might even suggest
that ZANU PF is a political con. Whatever judgment one passes on it, ZANU PF
exists and the critical issue is how to engage —if at all — with it.
From its inception, ZANU PF marketed itself as a liberation movement
primarily concerned with liberty, rights and democracy. It heroically led
calls for universal adult suffrage.
Therefore, the conduct of elections, I mean the entire processes,
institutions and practices remain a critical yardstick of how far ZANU PF
has taken us from Rhodesia.
ZANU PF also called the freedom to associate without being branded as
"terrorists, communists or bandits" or being criminalised. It fought for the
right to a dignified livelihood.
To what extent are these aspirations totally eroded by current
shortages of basic commodities, hyper-inflationary economic policies and
Also central to the notion of liberation were the freedoms of
conscience, free expression, full citizenship and equality.
These values are trampled upon everyday by the civilians from Maputo
Zimbabwean media, free associations and mass movements are not free to
express themselves without obstruction or recriminations. It may also be
important to ask whether women, youth and minorities are in any better
position than they were under Ian Smith. In other words is this thing called
Zimbabwe really a place for us all? How far are the true ideals of the
liberation struggle realisable given the prevalence of the language of hate,
the practices of grudge and embarrassment, as well as organised violence?
Mugabe had a challenge of building a nation out of a commonwealth of
inequity, bigotry and suspicion. Contrary to the emotive views of his more
vicious critics, he did not inherit a paradise but rather an apocalyptic
prophecy waiting to happen.
Zimbabwe was a nation that had achieved forgiveness without structural
or psychological transformation, truth, justice, reparation or restitution.
Clearly Mugabe’s own successive errors and his character ensured that this
doomsday prophecy became self-fulfilling.
While much benefit can be derived from a critique of the global
political economy that produced and sustained him and which may have impeded
his progress, we must look elsewhere for his evident failures.
We must look to his character and style of leadership, the two key
sources of insecurity in Zimbabwean politics. Mugabe’s concern with
consolidating power made him —in real terms — unfaithful to his espoused
ideals of freedom. It also made him unclear about his alliances with the
empire and intolerant of those who dared say "this is not the best road to
The seeds of Zimbabwe’s disintegration are as much in its history,
global, political, economic dynamics and the man’s character. These are
issues for which Lady Grace is not responsible, issues for which ZANU PF is
nominally responsible, but more importantly issues that are not solved by
recognising and patting him on the back.
Mugabe is living proof of the fact that good leadership has nothing to
do with style, image, charisma, charm, special skills or even book literacy.
He undoubtedly has the persona but that has not been enough to save us from
ruin as a nation.
Over and above his positive characteristics, his leadership might have
taken us in a totally different direction if it had also been about
authenticity, responsible stewardship, personal development and consistent
cognisance of his strengths and weaknesses.
We may be in a better off place if his leadership had been about
serving other people and developing leaders around himself. I am not sure
that his leadership — whatever one may think of it — was done any great deal
of good by keeping company with the Hunzvis and Chinotimbas of this world.
That tendency reproduces itself in the political history of the man. Once
again, this had nothing to do with marrying a young wife or white commercial
Mugabe is erudite and articulate, but his heart has hardly been where
his mouth is, namely with the suffering urban and rural people of Zimbabwe.
The greatness of any good leader is not in his greatness but in that of the
people he leads. We are – as a nation and a people — in a state of
progressive moral, social, economic and political decay.
That speaks volumes about our leaders and their success! As Mugabe
prepares to vacate the seat of power — whether now or in five years time —
he leaves a legacy of a great traveller who lost his way on the verge of
Tragically there has neither been a revolution nor an evolution in
Zimbabwe, but rather regression back into a state of multi-fold "unfreedoms
and inequalities" characteristic of the society and state he took over in
1980. Mugabe made enormous sacrifices for the liberation of Zimbabwe and in
many ways the positive aspects of his character created the national aura of
success in the early days. But this historic factor should not retain as
slaves to his brilliance, which may be a mere gift from God?
ZANU PF’s claims and contradictions
In 1980 ZANU PF claimed to represent the nation with all its layers of
distinction and difference. It claimed to speak for the middle class, the
working class, the peasantry, women and the young, in short everybody.
This was particularly evident from the policy of "gutsa ruzhinji".
Impliedly ZANU PF also claimed to be a refuge for minorities and other
marginalised groups in society. The real test of ZANU PF’s rule is the
extent to which its policies and style of governance have managed to
represent, recognise and protect these different layers of citizenship.
Perhaps a lighter test may be to inquire into which categories of
citizenship it has privileged and which it has disempowered and why?
This myth of an inclusive party is burst by the sheer greed that
flourishes on the backs of a highly impoverished and over-taxed working
people. A case in point is the allocation of A1 model farms.
ZANU PF politics has also claimed to base itself on specified
ideological premises and a litany of promises. When the masses in Zimbabwe
wake to the reality of an obscenely wealthy and increasingly repressive
political class, then they must either question their status or the status
of ZANU PF as a liberation movement.
Their status is pretty straight forward — they are not free to
criticise nor are they free after criticism. They are not free from
Rhodesian-style repressive legislation, be it AIPPA, POSA or the PVO Act?
Their status also suggests that majority rule has quickly been swallowed by
a new accomplice class of merchants and politicians with investments in
everything including the manufacture of toilet paper.
Individually and collectively the majority Zimbabweans are — or have
become — Fanon’s "wretched of the earth". How else does one describe life in
a sea of shortages?
ZANU PF claims to be a Leninist-Marxist type vanguard party. But
recent municipal and other elections suggest that it does not have the
support of the workers, intellectuals or urban intelligentsia. It is a
self-styled socialist movement engaged intensively in the confiscation of
the assets of the settler bourgeoisie for the benefit of the indigenous
petty bourgeoisie. A party committed to black empowerment but encourages
profiteering from black people’s misery by taking over fuel stations and
trading the scarce commodity at exorbitant prices.
It eludes me how genuine liberators can — without conscience or
guilt — steal from the landless and the working class? In reality behind the
mask of anti-imperialism is a shameless greed and relentless appetite for
Now that the white boogeyman — who allegedly held all our land, our
industries and the rest of society — is gone, we have serious introspection
to do! We must ask the simple but difficult questions about our respective
interests, in this thing called Zimbabwe. What in the name of God is it? And
how are we related or not related to it as an ideal and a lived reality?
.. Brian Kagoro is a human rights lawyer and political commentator
Causes of the current crisis in Zimbabwe- Godfrey Kanyenze
9/17/2003 9:41:50 PM (GMT +2)
SO much has been said concerning the causes of the crisis afflicting
Zimbabwe’s economy; jingles have been played so regularly on radio and
television (Rambai Makashinga), giving a certain perspective regarding the
causes of the crisis.
There is so much debate regarding what caused the crisis and how it
should be resolved. Understanding the causes of the crisis is the first step
towards identifying and implementing remedial measures to correct the
malaise. If the diagnosis is wrong, so will be the solutions offered.
Causes of the crisis —
The official (government) position
The government continues to blame everyone else other than itself for
the crisis. The official approach is that the crisis is emanating from
efforts by the west to recolonise Zimbabwe. This position is articulated in
the Millennium Economic Recovery Programme (MERP) launched in 2000, the
National Economic Revival Programme (NERP) launched in February 2003, the
ZANU PF manifesto, and has characterised most of the President’s speeches.
According to the MERP, the crisis is seen in the context of " . . .
deleterious effects of neo-imperialist machinations aimed at limiting
national sovereignty over the redistribution of national assets such as land
in favour of indigenous Zimbabweans. These machinations are aimed at
frustrating national efforts to transform the Zimbabwean economy so that it
cannot reach higher levels of development as well as withstand acts of
economic destabilisation," (page 13: 1.3).
In his address at the opening of the 52nd ZANU PF central committee
meeting in Chinhoyi on December 11 2002, the President attacked business and
blamed it for hyperinflation.
He declared: "While many manufacturers and traders want to blame it on
production costs, it is clear that the consumer is being ripped off, abused
and taken advantage of by avaricious, heartless business people, several of
whom would want to politicise production processes in sympathy with white
landed interest," (The Herald, December 12 2002, page 1).
The NERP contends that the crisis has been compounded by the existence
of "a hostile external and domestic environment, arising from our detractors
’ opposition to our land and agrarian reform programme", and sanctions
(2003, page 2).
This external focus of the diagnosis of the causes of the crisis is
also reflected in paragraph 10, which argues: "Furthermore, the negative
perceptions of our detractors and their portrayals of our land reforms
internationally have dented the country’s image. Confidence in the economy
is at its lowest ebb as a result, adversely affecting private investment and
tourism," (page 3).
The policies flowing from this framework have been a disaster. The
fixed exchange rate undermined the viability of business while price
controls created shortages of all basic commodities, which resurfaced at
prohibitive prices on the parallel market.
With the artificially fixed exchange rate, most foreign currency
transactions (in excess of 80 percent of all foreign exchange transactions)
were driven to the parallel market, implying the official coffers are almost
dry. The decision to close bureax de change at the end of November 2002
effectively drove almost all foreign exchange transactions onto the parallel
market. Foreign exchange inflows collapsed from a high of US$18.5 million
during the week ending September 27 2002 to US$500 000 by week ending
December 27 2002. The economy is now in an informal mode.
The alternative explanation takes a historical analysis of events that
culminated in the crisis.
The year 1997 was in many respects the turning point. Disgruntled at
its marginalisation, especially through the implementation of ESAP, civil
society groups started agitating for their inclusion in the development
process more strongly in 1997.
Clearly, strike activity peaked in 1997 as workers’ purchasing power
was eroded through inflation.
More tellingly, war veterans had been complaining about being left out
in the political landscape of Zimbabwe, to which the President would respond
by challenging them to compete with others for consideration. However,
during the first half of 1997, the war veterans organised themselves and
undertook demonstrations to put their case forward.
While at first the government chose to ignore them, the demonstrations
became increasingly raucous, culminating in the war veterans interrupting
the President’s speech at the Heroes’ Acre in August 1997. These
demonstrations had by then become too loud and dangerous to ignore.
Realising that the game was up, the President reached an agreement
with the war veterans in November 1997 whereby each of the estimated 50 000
ex-combatants was to receive a one-off gratuity of Z$50 000 by December 31
1997 and a monthly pension of Z$2 000 beginning January 1998.
Since this was not budgeted for, the government sought to introduce a
war veterans levy, which was rejected by workers through ZCTU-organised
demonstrations. Government had to resort to borrowing to meet its
In August 1998, the government sent Zimbabwean troops to the
Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) to help the government of that
country deal with rebels who were at the point of taking over the capital
city Kinshasa. The involvement in the DRC war was estimated to cost US$33
million a month.
This was followed by the decision to increase civil service salaries
by between 69 percent and 90 percent at the beginning of 2000, just before
the referendum of February 2000 on the government proposed new constitution.
Since such salary increases were not budgeted for, government had to borrow
to meet the expenditure.
When Zimbabweans rejected the proposed constitution in the referendum,
government deliberately encouraged the occupation of farms by war veterans
and other pro-government elements. This followed accusations by the
government that white farmers had provided transport for their workers to
vote against the proposed new constitution.
From the chronology of events, it is clear that the land invasions
were a vendetta against the white farmers for openly supporting and
facilitating the opposition.
Realising that its support base was dwindling, the government embarked
on the fast-track land resettlement programme. Since then, there was a
breakdown of the rule of law and the period before, during and after the
June 2000 Parliamentary elections was characterised by violence and
"Project money" was disbursed at ZANU PF rallies as a way of
attracting voters. The impact of these political decisions is particularly
acute with respect to the budget deficit.
The budget deficit progressively deteriorated from 5.5 percent of GDP
in 1998 to 24.1 percent by the end of 2000. The deficit had been targeted to
decline to 3.8 percent of GDP by the end of 2000.
Domestic debt, which stood at Z$24.5 billion in 1995 shot up to Z$347
billion by end of 2002. The country accumulated arrears on its foreign debt
repayments in 1999, which rose to US$1.3 billion by December 2002.
Against this background, the relationship between Zimbabwe and its
development partners deteriorated such that Zimbabwe earned itself a
high-risk profile (pariah status), resulting in the acute shortage of
Against the backdrop of the breakdown of the rule of law and
anti-western rhetoric, the relationship between Zimbabwe and the powerful
western economies reached an unprecedented low level. Donors deserted the
country, resulting in the current acute shortage of foreign currency. As a
result, a thriving parallel market has emerged, which has virtually become
the only port of call for foreign currency seekers.
The position that the current crisis emanated from the descent into
lawlessness and bad governance was reinforced by the TNF, where, through the
Kadoma Declaration the government, business and labour agreed that the way
forward involves the ascent to good governance.
The Kadoma Declaration puts an ascent on internal factors as the cause
of the crisis and not external intervention. The argument that external
forces, disgruntled by the seizure of white farms, is the reason for the
crisis has no basis, especially when the descend to crisis is explored in a
historical, chronological order.
The land grab started in earnest after the February 2000 referendum,
when in fact the crisis had started as evidenced by the economic decline
Since 1997, all key economic indicators have shown a persistent
downward trend. In fact, by the time the land reform programme started in
earnest, development partners had already deserted the country. In addition,
sanctions cannot be used as an excuse since they were implemented in 2001
and were targeted at individual persons. They came long after the economy
was in decline.
The issue is that if the country was creditworthy, it could easily
raise funds, implying "sanctions" are not the issue. The question is why is
it that even our so-called friends are not willing to help us materially?
They say a friend in need is a friend indeed!
Attempts at resolving the crisis through the Tripartite Negotiating
Forum and other fora will be discussed in the next article.
Dr Godfrey Kanyenze is the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions economist
and a member of the Zimbabwe Economics Society and a former president of the
Confusion over dualisation of Harare-Masvingo road
9/17/2003 9:36:02 PM (GMT +2)
DUALISATION of the Harare-Masvingo road has created confusion among
owners of businesses located along the highway.
It emerged this week that the government, which has started work on
the project, is yet to consult the companies.
Should the Ministry of Transport and Communications bungle the
project, a court challenge that could cripple the exercise may emerge.
Companies operating along the highway this week insisted that
construction of the road network would not affect them since the ministry
has not approached them.
The manager and owner of J. Masters Auto Repairs, Joe Masters, said he
was not aware that his company was on the construction site.
He said: "I am not sure of what is going to happen to my company as
construction of the road has already begun. Maybe what is going to be done
is bypass my company because the city council has given its approval for us
to build permanent structures."
Sources told The Financial Gazette that the government was likely to
pay almost $1.5 billion for plant hire for the construction of the first two
"The government has hired heavy earthmoving equipment to construct the
first 1.06 kilometres before the end of this year. The construction has
begun, but has been slowed by fuel shortages, which have reduced our pace on
the construction site," the source said.
Efforts to get comments from Transport Minister Witness Mangwende were
Should dictators be allowed to go scot free?
9/17/2003 9:50:26 PM (GMT +2)
Many years ago, I read an article by American writer Theodore White in
which he gave his impressions of China seven years after the death of
Communist Party strongman, Mao Tse Tung.
White reported on the progress the new Chinese leadership had made
towards repudiating Mao’s doctrines and reversing the damage they had
White’s description of Chairman Mao’s determination to impose his will
on the people at any cost has remained etched in my mind for almost 25
He wrote: "Mao’s thought was simply a dogma or a slogan, least of all
a coherent doctrine. It should be thought of as a spike driven by the will
of one man into the minds of his people." White described how this spike was
"driven through the living flesh of the people until they bled, hungered or
died at random".
These words were written almost a quarter of a century ago but looking
around the world today, the American journalist could have been describing
Saddam Hussein, Augusto Pinochet, Slobodan Milsevic, Charles Taylor or any
number of equally savage contemporary despots and warlords.
At the height of their tyrannical and repressive reigns, dictators and
authoritarian rules exude an air of infallibility, invincibility and
immortality that seems to anaesthetize them against any normal human
emotions and sensibilities.
When they have the reins of power firmly in their brutal grip, these
men are prepared to fight to the death — of thousands or even million of
their own people — to safeguard their positions and cling to power.
A common thread linking these cruel rulers wherever they are found on
the globe is their unfathomable desire to kill, to inflict pain, suffering
and humiliation on large sections of the population. Brutal purges,
extermination, genocide, torture disappearances and persecution are their
shared methods of operation.
Dictators also share a common bond in that these chilling acts of
savagery and unbridled violence cause no mental distress whatsoever to them.
They regard themselves as having a divine right to rule for life or even
from beyond the grave as is the case in North Korea where Dear Leader Kim
II-Sung is said to rule eternally.
Exactly what evil lurks in the hearts of these men? I have always
hoped that the world would one day get to hear the answer from the horse’s
mouth when these characters are brought before international tribunals or
courts of justice to account for their brutality and abuse of power.
But alas, events so far seem to suggest that when push comes to shove,
these ruthless men with hearts of stone are cowards lacking the courage of
their convictions. They seem to be unwilling to look the world in the eye
and say: "This is why I did what I did." They are far from keen to take
responsibility for their actions.
Take the case of Saddam Hussein. After his spectacular deposition by
the Americans, one would have expected him to come out blazing with the same
bravado he exhibited over all the years of his dangerous brinkman-ship when
he defied the whole world. I expected to hear him declare his readiness to
lay down his life for the ideals he previously pursued with such ruthless
But what did the man do? He wasted no time before creeping into hiding
from where he cowered but feigns bravery by issuing statements urging Iraqis
to shed more blood for his incomprehensible cause.
The American occupation of Iraq has opened a Pandora’s box of the most
horrific and flagrant human rights violations imaginable. The fugitive
Saddam has not offered a single word of explanation of these horrendous
acts. It was only after his two sons were killed in a gun battle with
American soldiers that the deposed dictator was moved to issue a statement
mourning their deaths and describing them as martyrs.
What the world wants to know is what Saddam has to say about the estim
ated 300 000 people whose remains have been found in mass graves all over
Iraq. Why did they have to die? Why is he only moved to comment on the
deaths of his ferocious sons Qusay and Uday?
If this man were ever brought before a tribunal, it would be
interesting to hear his explanation for the construction of all those
obscenely opulent "presidential palaces" and statues of himself at almost
every street corner when most Iraqis lived in grinding poverty and Baghdad
and other cities could have done with a fresh coat of paint.
Saddam’s cowardice in the face of the inevitable is of course, not
unique. The most notorious practitioner of genocide, Adolf Hitler, resorted
to suicide when the net was closing in, thus avoiding explaining in his own
words why it was necessary to kill six million Jews. The world deserved a
better answer than the one given by some Nazi Officers at the Nuremberg
trials: "We were following orders."
Even those who have been cornered for war crimes and other atrocities
do not seem to welcome the opportunity to argue their cases and convince us
all of the nobility of their intentions.
Slobodan Milosevic, former President of Yugoslavia, has fought like a
tiger at the International Court of Justice in The Hague to deny culpability
for the horrors that went on under his regime, despite overwhelming evidence
to the contrary.
In Africa, Warlord Charles Taylor, who has been indicted for war
crimes by a human rights tribunal in Sierra Leone, has not acted like an
innocent man who welcomes the opportunity to exonerate himself. Instead,
right up to the time of his departure for exile in Nigeria last month, the
man used subterfuge and gimmickry in the hope that he could escape the
inevitable. Even when he could see that he had reached the end of the road,
he still hinted darkly: "God willing, I will be back."
Augusto Pinochet of Chile has cited ill health and senility to avoid
facing the music for atrocities committed by his regime in the 1980s.
Another South America human rights abuser, Alberto Fujimori, fled to
Japan and looks set to fight extradition back to Peru where the population
is baying for his blood for similar brutality.
One of Africa’s most savage dictators, Idi Amin, who killed hundreds
of thousands of people in Uganda, died in Saudi Arabia, taking his dark
secrets with regard to his barbarity to the grave.
Should such people be allowed to continue to go scot-free? When things
are going their way, these strongmen fly into a rage when their misdeeds are
pointed out to them. Attempts to make them see sense and change course are
greeted with self-righteous indignation at what they call interference in
their "internal affairs".
They hide behind the smokescreen of sovereignty to maintain their
destructive and callous stances. In short, they stubbornly harden their
But when the chips are down they fight mightily to distance themselves
from these events. They cannot have it both ways! They should not be allowed
to pontificate from both sides of their mouths. They should face the music.
UN News Centre
UN agencies step-up operations to address food shortages in Zimbabwe
18 September – United Nations agencies and other humanitarian organizations
are stepping up operations to address food shortages and their underlying
causes in Zimbabwe as whole communities have exhausted stocks long before
the next harvest, according to the latest update released today.
The UN World Food Programme (WFP) is now scaling up operations in Zimbabwe
as food needs are expected to increase sharply over the next seven months
before the April 2004 harvest.
Last month, the WFP food aid programme reached rural populations in 31
districts, some 1.1 million beneficiaries, up from 22 districts in the
post-harvest season in May. Assistance is expected to increase to cover 36
districts this month.
To address longer-term food insecurity, non-governmental organizations
(NGOs) have so far secured funds to provide agricultural assistance to
slightly over 590,000 vulnerable households, according to the UN Food and
Agriculture Organization (FAO).
This assistance will include maize, small grains, and bean seeds. In
addition, several other types of assistance such as training services.
Health also remains a concern in Zimbabwe. The country has experienced a
number of disease epidemics in the past 12 months threatening the lives of
thousands of children and other vulnerable sections of the population.
"It is apparent from such outbreaks that there is an urgent need to
strengthen the extended programme of immunization (EPI) through provision of
adequate transport, fuel and vaccines to conduct mop up vaccination
campaigns," said the UN office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
Media crackdown tests S.Africa policy on Zimbabwe
By Ed Stoddard
JOHANNESBURG, Sept. 18 — South African President Thabo Mbeki
on Thursday over his government's handling of the worsening crisis in
Zimbabwe, where critics accuse President Robert Mugabe of widespread rights
A fresh crackdown in Harare has discredited past assurances from
Pretoria that the situation was improving, analysts said.
In the latest blow to South Africa's so-called quiet diplomacy,
Nigeria, which will host the next Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting
in December, has said Zimbabwe will not be invited -- despite Pretoria's
efforts to ensure Mugabe attends.
But with three months to go before the summit, a lot could change.
Zimbabwe was suspended from the group in March 2002 after accusations that
Mugabe had rigged his re-election.
Nigeria and South Africa have long presented a united front on
Zimbabwe, deepening divisions on race lines in the 54-member Commonwealth,
made up mainly of former British colonies.
Mbeki held out hope in parliament in Cape Town on Wednesday that
Zimbabwe could still be invited, saying Zimbabwe's year-long suspension
handed down in March 2002 had expired.
''I'm not aware of any additional sanctions that have been taken by
... an authorised body of the Commonwealth ... and so we'll await the
decision of the host president (Olusegun) Obasanjo as to whether that
invitation is extended,'' he said.
LOSING PATIENCE WITH MUGABE
Analysts say Mbeki's stance has so far yielded few results.
''Zimbabwe has repeatedly embarrassed him ... but he is in a box,''
said John Stremlau, head of International Relations at Johannesburg's
''He's opposed to sanctions, he can't use force, he doesn't want to
use megaphone diplomacy ... what does he do now?''
Analysts say Mbeki must privately be losing patience with Mugabe,
who -- judging from Mbeki's own public utterances -- has consistently failed
to keep his word to Pretoria.
In February, Mbeki said Zimbabwe had pledged to review and change new
media laws which critics, including Britain, say are being used to stifle
the independent media and opposition.
''One of the matters we've raised with them is that there have been
complaints raised about ... legislation passed that has an impact on the
press. That it was necessary to look at that legislation and see what was
wrong with it and change it. And indeed the Zimbabweans have agreed to
that,'' he said.
Almost seven months on, Zimbabwe's police shut down the private Daily
News last week after the supreme court ruled the paper's publisher was
operating illegally as it had not registered under the stringent media laws.
The high court ruled on Wednesday that it be allowed to resume
publishing -- but police have already seized much of the paper's equipment
Mbeki also said in February that South Africa and Zimbabwe had
discussed legislation that was ''limiting democratic freedoms ... and indeed
they are looking at that.''
On Wednesday, Zimbabwe riot police arrested more than 100
demonstrators during a protest against the constitution and a series of
amendments critics say have entrenched Mugabe's rule.
''Nothing the President (Mbeki) has supposedly done behind the scenes
has had any effect on the behaviour of President Mugabe and his cronies,''
opposition leader Tony Leon said in a statement.
DA slams Mbeki's 'Zim promises'
18/09/2003 21:04 - (SA)
Johannesburg - President Thabo Mbeki's promises about Zimbabwe
have the same
value as the "bearer's cheques" being printed by that country's Reserve
Bank, Democratic Alliance leader Tony Leon said in his weekly South Africa
"They look real enough, but in the end they are worthless."
Leon reminded his readers that Mbeki predicted at the World Economic Forum
in Durban in June that a solution to the crisis in Zimbabwe would be found
within a year.
"Three months later, there is absolutely no sign of progress. If anything,
the situation in Zimbabwe has deteriorated," Leon said.
He said inflation in the country had reached a record high of 427%. That
meant that prices were changing on a daily basis.
In addition, laws that violated basic human rights were still in place, and
political repression had intensified.
"Instead of condemning this behaviour, President Mbeki spent the week
lobbying for the Commonwealth to lift its suspension of Zimbabwe, and
arguing that Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe should be allowed to attend
the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Nigeria in December.
Leon further said he had been visiting London this week, where he had a
number of meetings with both South Africans and Britons.
"They shared a sense of embarrassment and bewilderment at President Mbeki's
actions. Simply put: how does our current stance on Zimbabwe help South
Africa? What cause does it advance? Which principle does it uphold?
Certainly not the finest commitments of NEPAD (New Partnership for Africa's
Development) and the African Union. Definitely not the cause of human rights
and international solidarity.
"At best, our stance is a throwback to the era of John Vorster, who used to
proclaim that South Africa's domestic affairs were its own concern and did
not need any outside meddling," Leon said.
Zim activists released
18/09/2003 18:36 - (SA)
Harare - More than 100 pro-democracy activists in Zimbabwe,
overnight for staging a protest, were released from police custody on
Thursday after paying a fine, march organisers and a lawyer said.
However the chairperson of the National Constitutional Assembly (NCA), which
organised the demonstration in central Harare on Wednesday, was still in
custody, said NCA spokesperson Enerst Mudzengi.
He said the chairperson, Lovemore Madhuku, had refused to pay the fine of
Three freelance photojournalists also arrested on Wednesday while covering
the demonstration were released, according to lawyer Lawrence Chibwe.
Police said they arrested the demonstrators and journalists for engaging in
"conduct likely to cause a breach of the peace".
The group had not obtained permission to hold the demonstration as required
under the southern African country's strict security laws.
The demonstration by the NCA, which is lobbying for a new constitution in
Zimbabwe, was also intended to protest last week's forced closure of the
country's only independent daily newspaper.
The Daily News was shut down by police after a court here ruled it was
Cops stop vets at lions' den
18/09/2003 10:41 - (SA)
Aubrey Ntobonge, Media24 Africa Office
Harare - War
veterans are still hanging around the front gates of the lion
and cheetah park near here, but are hesitant to enter.
This follows an incident on Monday when they were chased away by riot
The unexpected police action apparently came in the wake of the Zimbabwe
tourism board's attempts to get tourists to return.
Meanwhile, the Democratic Alliance said in a statement: "The invasion of
game reserves by war veterans has made it possible for some professional
South African hunters to poach animals that otherwise would be protected."
Bigboy Madhonoro, acting manager of the park, said police had arrived in
large numbers and forced war veterans to leave the park. They threatened to
arrest them if their orders were ignored.
The invasion was apparently led by a senior army officer.
According to Madhonoro, police returned to the park on Monday afternoon to
ensure all veterans had left the area.
But, by Tuesday morning, the veterans had returned.
Park manager threatened
Madhonoro said: "The situation is still tense. The veterans are outside the
gate, but have closed it off from the outside."
The veterans have also threatened to attack Brendon Snook, the park's
manager, if he returns.
He was chased off earlier when the veterans said the park had been handed
over to them as part of the controversial land-reform programme.
The park boasts many animals including elephants, lions and hyenas.
Johnny Rodrigues, chairperson of Zimbabwe's conservation task force, said
negative publicity about the occupation of the park apparently led to the
The Zimbabwean tourism board said last week a delegation, led by minister
Francis Nhema, would be sent to South Africa to take part in tourism month.
Attempts are being made to attract tourists to the Zimbabwean side of
The DA, however, condemned the attempts and said the invasion of protected
areas had led to large-scale destruction of wildlife.
Errol Moorcroft, the party's environmental spokesperson, said those who
honestly valued environmental protection would speak out about what was
happening in Zimbabwe and ignore Zanu-PF's attempts to attract tourists.