|The ZIMBABWE Situation||Our
thoughts and prayers are with Zimbabwe |
- may peace, truth and justice prevail.
tightens in Zimbabwe. Earlier this month, the government of
President Robert G. Mugabe shut down the country’s only independent
newspaper. Last weekend, a High Court judge ruled that the closure was
illegal, but the police refused to obey the court and barred the newspaper’s
doors. Now that the Daily News and the Daily News on Sunday are gone—and
their editorial and press equipment, including 120 computers, have been
confiscated—the long-beleaguered people of Zimbabwe are bereft of voice and
Despots run amuck when the searchlight of responsibility ceases to shine.
Without investigative journalism, injurious regimes can perpetrate the most
heinous crimes against their own people. The government-owned daily
newspapers in Zimbabwe, like radio and television, have long been propaganda
organs for Mugabe.
Conditions in Zimbabwe have been desperate for three years or more. The
closing of the Daily News deepens the discouragement of many Zimbabweans who
are still campaigning for a better future, political freedom and sanity amid
the decay of all of their institutions that were once strong and secure.
Friday’s shutdown of the Daily News is typical. The rule of law has largely
disappeared as Mugabe has removed or retired judges, and otherwise subverted
the judgments of his High Court and Supreme Court. For several years, he has
refused—so far, with impunity—to obey decisions to which he has objected.
The national economy is shrinking by at least 15 percent a year, as it has
done for six years straight. Schools lack teachers and textbooks. Hospitals
hardly function, deprived of basic medicines, supplies, nurses and
physicians. Most gas stations lay idle. There is no paper on which to print
bank notes, and people stand in long lines trying to obtain cash from banks.
Unemployment is over 80 percent, and many hundreds of thousands of farm
workers are without any work whatsoever.
Only 10 percent of the country’s normal winter wheat harvest will be reaped
this month. There are no seeds available in the country, which was once
self-sufficient and a leader in Africa. Plantings for subsistence maize and
cash crops will be much reduced this October and November. The money-earning
tobacco crop was 20 percent smaller this year than before. Inflation is
running at 600 percent per year—and rising. The Zimbabwe dollar, once on par
with the U.S. dollar, is now devalued to a 6000 to 1 ratio with American
currency. Under these conditions, millions of poor Zimbabweans suffer
acutely, while government-linked politicians and operatives spend ill-gotten
profits on property at home and overseas.
These tragic conditions are a direct result of Mugabe’s attack on his
opponents and those who support them, of wholesale government mismanagement,
of regime-wide corruption and looting of the national purse and of Mugabe’s
continuing attack on the commercial farmers who once were the backbone of
Zimbabwe’s prosperity and jobs.
Mugabe mangled the land issue. There remains neither equity nor production.
As recently as last week, relatives of Mugabe illegally and forcefully took
farmlands near Harare from small-scale black farmers, not from whites—and it
was not the first time that black farmers had lost their land.
Hunger and starvation have been among the many adverse results of the
heavily politicized land-grab starting in 1998. There are widespread reports
of hunger, alleviated only by food donated by the World Food Program and the
U.S. Agency for International Development. But widespread food distribution,
especially in areas that had voted against Mugabe, was hampered and limited.
The best indicators predict that because farmers cannot obtain fertilizer,
take out bank loans or depend on any consistent law and order, hunger and
starvation will only escalate in the months to come.
Intimidation of opponents, a feature of the parliamentary elections in 2000
and the presidential elections of 2002, is still rife. The Zimbabwean
presidential election was, as U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell said,
blatantly stolen. So were the 2000 elections, but less overtly.
Despite active harassment and some ballot rigging, the opposition Movement
for Democratic Change (MDC) last month managed to win more municipal seats
in country-wide elections than the government party and now controls almost
all of the major cities, including Harare and Bulawayo. But it is not yet
clear whether Mugabe’s regime will in fact permit the MDC victors
effectively to exercise their new powers in the cities. A few months ago,
the MDC mayor of Harare was suspended—illegally—and frog-marched out of his
South Africa could end the Zimbabwean political charade quickly by easing
Mugabe, 79, into exile with some of his ill-gotten wealth. Perhaps he could
join Charles G. Taylor, the ex-dictator of Liberia, in Nigeria. But South
Africa is reluctant to interfere, and President Bush and Secretary Powell’s
pressure on South Africa and criticisms of Zimbabwe have produced promises,
but no action. It is not clear when South Africa will decide, on behalf of
the African Union, that Zimbabwe’s meltdown has harmed South Africa and
embarrassed the democrats of Africa sufficiently to produce change.
Mugabe is an African Saddam Hussein and has single-handedly driven a
once-prosperous people into wholesale poverty and failure. If ever a country
cried out for regime change, Zimbabwe is it.
Robert I. Rotberg is director of the Kennedy School of Government’s Program
on Intrastate Conflict. He is the president of the World Peace Foundation.
War Crimes Court Eyes 'Blood Diamond' Buyers
Tue September 23, 2003 09:58 AM ET
By Karl Emerick Hanuska
THE HAGUE (Reuters) - Foreigners who bought "blood diamonds" from the
Democratic Republic of Congo could be charged with complicity in war crimes
and genocide, the prosecutor of the world's first permanent criminal court
International Criminal Court Chief Prosecutor Luis Moreno Ocampo said crimes
linked to the civil war in the central African nation that killed around
three million people may have been committed as far away as the United
States and Canada.
Foreign businessmen and firms who supplied cash or weapons in exchange for
diamonds to people they knew were guilty of war crimes are just as liable to
be prosecuted as anyone who actually carried out those atrocities, Moreno
"If they received diamonds and knew that the people delivering them were
getting them because of genocide then they could well be part of the crime,"
he told reporters.
Rough diamonds from illegitimate sources, dubbed "blood" or "conflict"
diamonds, are used to fund wars, mostly in Africa.
"Follow the trail of the money and you will find the criminals. If you stop
the money then you stop the crime," said the Argentine prosecutor, who is
focusing on Congo for what could lead to his first formal investigation.
Moreno Ocampo, who helped prosecute Argentina's military junta in the 1980s
for crimes committed during its "dirty war," said he expected a probe into
possible war crimes, genocide and crimes against humanity in the Congo to
start next year.
"This is the most important case since World War II," he said, adding that
he was gathering information from national prosecutors in countries where
the links to the purchase of blood diamonds had been found.
Among those countries identified are the United States, Canada, Britain,
Russia, Finland and Zimbabwe, and Hong Kong.
The global court, which took effect last July to tackle the world's gravest
crimes, has no formal cases on its books yet.
Moreno Ocampo's office has received six complaints of atrocities committed
in Congo's northeastern province of Ituri, including two detailed reports
from nongovernmental organizations alleging execution, rape, torture, sexual
slavery and the use of child soldiers.
No Agreement Reached On Constitution
statement was released by SAPA alleging that an agreement had been signed
between Zanu PF and the
We want to
state categorically that no such agreement has been reached or signed. In fact,
there isn’t even dialogue taking place between Zanu PF
and the M
The story carried by SAPA is therefore entirely false, and should be dismissed with the contempt that it deserves.
Paul Themba Nyathi
Secretary for Information and Publicity
SOKWANELE CIVIC ACTION SUPPORT GROUP
Enough is Enough
PROMOTING NON VIOLENT PRINCIPLES TO ACHIEVE DEMOCRACY.
AN EXTRACT FROM MARAKANGA RANCH (MWENEZI) DIARY
20th September 2003
Meeting with settlers and the District Administrator Zindove.
I arrived at Edenvale Ranch early and with the help of neighbours tried to put the meeting together, eventually I drove to Marakanga Ranch and continued liaising with them by radio. We eventually found the District Administrator, Zindove, at the top of Marakanga with the Lands officer marking out plots for settlers. He followed us back to the meeting place near our store.
Present at the meeting were another farmer and her assistant, Insp. Masopa from Chikombedzi police, my supervisor Vasco, Tererai, three game scouts, the DA, the Lands Officer and myself. There were about 20 settlers present and included were some of the bad thugs that I have been fighting for the past three years.
After prayers and a bit of chanting, the District Administrator Zindove went on to tell all of us that the land was taken and that he was here for two weeks to peg plots for the settlers. He went on to say that no land had been left for the owner Mr Whitehead. The settlers screamed and started chanting. He said that Marakanga game scouts should not patrol with firearms and that if they interfered with settlers cutting trees they would be arrested. He then turned to me and said that the meeting was over for me and that I should leave, obviously he had things to say to the settlers that he had no wish for me to hear. Before leaving I told Zindove that he had just crucified himself in front of witnesses and that one day soon we
would meet in court.
I left for the homestead to wait for Insp. Masopa as was pre arranged.
When the Insp. arrived with the other farmer we all sat down and had a discussion on what had taken place. We were all very disappointed.
The question now is how am I going to stop them destroying the environment
and killing someone again?
Gerry Whitehead has already lost in excess of 80% of the wildlife on his property, now the settlers are busy clearing the trees on the farm. Soon this once rich environment will be beyond redemption.
A Total service station on the great Zimbabwe road
was designated a commuter omnibus service station about a month ago and since
that time has received regular supplies of petrol and diesel via Total from
Noczim. The garage owners are
instructed to give fuel to people who have burial orders, but these
burial orders have been abused and so now they only
give to those who have a burial order signed by the Noczim official.
Inevitably zanu pf have tried to muscle in and get fuel for their vehicles. They have succeeded on some occasions, having obviously threatened or cajoled the Noczim employee to give them authority to get fuel from the designated garage.
The Total garage had to supply fuel to Ambassador Simbi Mubako recently, but then had to tell MDC MP Silas Mangono that he would have to get the Noczim official to authorise a supply of fuel for him.
Hence, the garage owner made an official complaint to Noczim. The government controlled oil procurement company has designated the BP service station in town as a “zanu pf” fuel station, ie only those who get coupons from the zanu pf offices can get fuel from that station.
It is extraordinary that Noczim should be giving fuel to a political party and that they should be using a multinational oil company to do its dirty work, and that that the multinational is going along with it.
Victory in The Bread Saga
Victoria Bakery Pvt Ltd were charged with three
counts of selling bread above the controlled price of $250-00. It is with a sense of satisfaction that a
report has come in that they were acquitted by the Magistrates’ Court on all
three counts. The court accepted the defence to the effect that the regulations
only allowed for a conviction if, in addition to selling the bread at above the
controlled price, the baker could not offer a lawful excuse as to why he should
refuse to obey the price control order of the Minister. The lawyer raised, as a
lawful excuse, the argument that the regulations were
intended by the Minster of trade and Commerce to control the profit a baker would make on each loaf of bread. These laws were not designed to force a baker to bake bread and sell it at a loss, or to bake products other than bread. Therefore, if the baker could prove that it was simply not possible for him to bake a loaf and still sell it at a
profit, at the contolled price of $250-00, then the baker would be entitled to sell the loaf for a higher price simply to ensure that he remained in business.
The court accepted this defence much to the chagrin of the Ministry of Trade and Commerce officials present in court.
Minister Mumbengegwi was in Masvingo some time ago
and made it his business to go to bakeries in town with Ministry of Trade and
Commerce officials in tow and have them fine bakeries for selling bread for more
than the controlled price. In the Victoria Bakery case it was proved that at
the present time it is not possible to bake a loaf
of bread for less than about $900-00. What is really ironic is that the same magistrate who gave judgment in this case had some five days earlier found the OK Bazaars’ bakery guilty of 4 counts of selling bread above the controlled price. They argued that the regulations pertained only to a standard loaf of bread and not to the fancy loaf or milk loaf that they said
they had been baking. The court rejected that argument saying that the word ‘standard’ as used in the regulations pertained only to the weight of a loaf (any type of loaf) and not to the type of loaf.
This success should be taken to heart by all bakeries, and they should follow the lead set in Masvingo.
Do not pay admission of guilt fines.
Clog the court system.
Force the police to take you to court and then raise the lawful excuse argument.
At worse, if the case is lost, the fine is $5000-00, not the $100 000-00 reported in Herald.
That is totally illegal. The regulations as per SI 334/01 do not provide for a fine in excess of $5000-00 for a conviction under section 39(1) of those regulations.
Bulawayo Business Under Attack
Once again Chematek, a company partly owned by Simon Spooner, is under attack.
On the 18 September the warehouse they lease from the National Railways of Zimbabwe was visited by a Mr Siziba, a railways employee boldly sporting a zanu regime “Third Chimurenga” sticker on his briefcase. Siziba discovered a supply of fuel being held in the warehouse and called in the police to investigate Spooner’s company for “hoarding fuel”. The police investigated the issue, declared that the fuel stocks fell under the legal quantity the company could hold for its own consumption and left.
Siziba, unhappy with the outcome, then called in the drug squad, who also failed to find anything untoward.
Not to be outdone, Siziba then called in the “war vets” who duly denied access to Chematek employees and effectively shut down this part of the company’s operation, including their ability to unload any NRZ wagons brought to their siding and denying the almost 200 Chematek employees access to the mealie meal kept there for their daily lunch time meals.
After much wrangling the police managed to oust the “war vets”, but the saga continues with the NRZ trying to keep the war vets out as they stand to be sued for denying the company their right to trade.
Gwaai Conservancy - victoria falls
Wildlife Areas Still Under Siege
Reports chronicling the areas’ continuing poaching and illegal hunting continue to pour in. South African Hunting and Tourist companies are reportedly seen from Bulawayo to Victoria Falls, carrying obvious hunting gear and going about the business of raping the country.
Although the Minister of Tourism and the Environment made sweeping statements about the security of our national parks and guaranteed fuel supplies to all tourists, the truth on the ground indicates that he is either lying or being lied to on a grand scale.
Ivory Lodge is back to a semblance of normality, with the fifteen youths involved in the invasion of the lodge being held in police custody. However, the senior “war vets” who headed the operation have been allowed to walk free.
Zim civic groups fear crackdown
Zimbabwean civic groups said Monday they plan to meet this
week to find
alternative means of publishing information following the closure of the
country's sole independent daily paper, threatening a boycott of one of the
state-run newspapers. President Robert Mugabe's government shut down the
Daily News last week on grounds that it was operating without a license,
provoking major international condemnation. The paper's subsequent
application to register was rejected. The head of the Crisis in Zimbabwe
Coalition, Brian Raftopoulous told a news conference the group would discuss
this week how to go forward from here, with one possibility the boycott of
the state-run Herald. "If you are in a situation where your so-called
government prevents you having the right to seek alternative sources of
information, then we have the right to call for the boycott of the existing
monopoly of information sources," he said. The Herald is the only
mass-circulation daily paper remaining in Zimbabwe, along with its sister
paper, the Chronicle, published in the country's second city of Bulawayo.
There are, however, five independent weeklies.
coalition said the banning of the Daily News "deprives large numbers
Zimbabweans of a daily source of information and an alternative to the
virulent propaganda disseminated by the state-controlled media". "There is
no doubt that the the primary objective of the Mugabe regime in banning the
Daily News is to ensure that Zimbabweans, and indeed the international
community, do not receive information about the regime's continued abuse of
power, repression, violence and grave abuse of human rights," said the
coalition. Civic organisations, deploring the closure of the paper,
expressed fears that they might be the next target in the crackdown on
dissent. "The next likely target of the ongoing campaign to snuff out
alternative voices will be civil society organisations," said the group.
More than 100 pro-democracy demonstrators were last week arrested and
charged for taking to the streets to protest against the closure of the
Daily News. The government is working on a new law that NGOs say is aimed at
increasing state control of civic groups.
Last year the government enacted a strict new law -- the Access to
Information and Protection of Privacy Act -- aimed at governing the
operations of media organisations. "[The Act] was intended to strangle the
private press by subjecting it to stifling controls and restrictions and by
creating various serious criminal offences that can be committed by media
houses and journalists," the coalition charged. Publishers of the Daily News
were on Monday questioned and charged with operating a media house without
licence, as police again raided the paper's offices. The paper was closed
after the Supreme Court ruled that it was operating illegally. An
application for registration was submitted immediately after the closure,
but it was turned down straightaway. Officials at the Daily News said they
will appeal against the decision to deny them a licence. "Without an
independent daily newspaper to comment on and expose ... injustices, attacks
on human rights and constitutional freedoms are likely to intensify," said
the Crisis Coalition.
$8,8bn Bearer Cheques Disbursed
September 23, 2003
Posted to the web September 23, 2003
THE Reserve bank of Zimbabwe has disbursed about $8,8 billion worth of
bearer cheques ahead of the introduction of the new system of payment today.
RBZ assistant director of banking services Mr Kennedy Mangenje said banks
had received about $4,2 billion worth of bearer cheques from the central
bank last week and an additional $2,1 billion yesterday.
"This allocation was for Harare banks only but an
additional $2,5 billion
was dispensed to our Bulawayo branch but we are not sure how much has been
uplifted by the banks there," he said.
Mr Mangenje, however, dispelled assertions that there would be serious
problems in dispensing the bearer cheques through the automated teller
"The cheques are not different from the $50 note because they have the same
weight and shape as the $50 note and they are being printed on the same
money paper that is used to print that note.
"The $50 note has been dispensed through the ATMs before and there should be
no problems although there might be need for banks to reset their ATMs," he
Mr Mangenje, however, said that it might not be possible for all the ATMs to
dispense the bearer cheques starting from tomorrow.
"Most banks are having to reset their ATMs at intervals and it might take a
few weeks for them to reset all their ATMs so people might have to move
around to look for the ATMs that are dispensing the cheques," he said.
The bearer cheques, which are in denominations of $5 000, $10 000 and $20
000, are part of on-going efforts by the Government to deal with the current
The RBZ expects to release about $390 billion worth of bearer cheques.
The introduction of the cheques come in the wake of reports that leading
cotton buyer and processor, Cargill has so far issued bearer cheques worth
about $8 billion as apart of efforts to assist the Reserve Bank to deal with
the current cash crisis.
This is the second time that bearer cheques were being released in the
market after they were first introduced in June by Cargill in denominations
of $5 000 and $10 000.
The Reserve Bank has been battling to contain the bank notes shortage in the
country, which started three months ago.
The bank has introduced local travellers' cheques and will release new $500
notes on Friday and $1000 notes next week.
The RBZ has indicated that it would release $2,5 billion in each
denomination daily until December.
As an additional measure, the RBZ extended the phasing out of the current
$500 note to the end of the year.
S.Africa drops C'wealth support for Mugabe-sources
By Nicholas Kotch
PRETORIA, Sept. 23 - South Africa has defused a
potential showdown at
December's Commonwealth summit by accepting that Zimbabwe's President Robert
Mugabe will not be invited, diplomatic and official sources said on Tuesday.
The political and economic crisis in Zimbabwe has hung like a cloud
over the 54-nation Commonwealth for the past three years and threatened to
dominate the summit in Abuja, Nigeria.
But the sources said South African President Thabo Mbeki will not
make a stand over the issue of Zimbabwe's participation, depriving Mugabe of
his only powerful backing.
Host Nigeria has already said Mugabe will not receive an invitation
and Mbeki has avoided a confrontation with his friend and ally, Nigerian
President Olusegun Obasanjo.
''We will not oppose Nigeria's decision not to invite Mugabe. We
accept that he will not be there,'' one senior South African official told
Mbeki has a policy of ''quiet diplomacy'' towards Mugabe, resisting
international attempts to isolate Zimbabwe's ZANU-PF government and
persuading former colonial power Britain and the United States to let him
handle the crisis in his own way.
Only last week Mbeki told South Africa's parliament that technically
Zimbabwe was no longer suspended from the Commonwealth and therefore was
entitled to attend the summit.
The Commonwealth secretariat and key anti-Mugabe members Britain and
Australia insist Zimbabwe is still suspended, 18 months after he was
declared the victor in elections considered rigged by Commonwealth
South Africa's backroom pressure on Mugabe and the opposition for a
political settlement has made no tangible progress.
Optimists have suffered a setback in the past week when police closed
Zimbabwe's main opposition newspaper, laid charges against its journalists
and owners, and broke up a demonstration by pro-democracy activists in
Nigeria is seldom chosen to host major international events and is
desperate for a successful summit, with Britain's Queen Elizabeth attending.
''Obasanjo knows that it can't be a success if Mugabe is there,'' one
London-based diplomat, familiar with the negotiations over Zimbabwe's
participation, told Reuters.
South Africa is unlikely to make any public announcement that it has
sided with Nigeria at Mugabe's expense.
''We have always said that it is for Nigeria to issue the invitations
and that we will respect that,'' Mbeki's spokesman, Bheki Khumalo, told
Reuters from New York, where the South African president was attending the
U.N. General Assembly.
Zimbabwe to charge journalists, telecoms magnate
By Cris Chinaka
HARARE, Sept. 23 — Zimbabwe police said on Tuesday they would
charge one of
Africa's most prominent entrepreneurs and the entire editorial staff of his
independent newspaper with breaking the country's strict media laws.
President Robert Mugabe's government has already shut down the Daily
News, the country's biggest-selling newspaper, for operating without a
licence and charged five directors of Associated Newspapers of Zimbabwe
(ANZ), which publishes the daily, with operating a media house illegally.
On Tuesday, police said they wanted to question ANZ board chairman
Strive Masiyiwa over his role.
Masiyiwa, who moved his home to South Africa three years ago, is
majority shareholder in Zimbabwe mobile phone operator Econet Holdings
(ECO.ZI), which has interests in Kenya, Nigeria, South Africa and Botswana.
''The ideal situation would be for us to interview Masiyiwa
face-to-face, but he is not here. However, we are still going to charge him,
one way or the other, with the same charges that his fellow directors are
facing,'' Zimbabwe police spokesman Assistant Commissioner Wayne Bvudzijena
''We are also going to charge all those journalists who have been
working at ANZ without registration and the requisite accreditation,'' he
added. Daily News editor Nqobile Nyathi said the group employed about 60
The Daily News, which began publishing in 1999, refused to register
its operations -- as required by tough media laws passed in 2002 -- in
protest against the legislation. The laws were enacted soon after President
Robert Mugabe was re-elected in a controversial ballot last year.
A government-appointed media commission last Friday denied a licence
to the ANZ, saying the group had been found guilty by the courts of
publishing the Daily News for nearly nine months without registration.
The commission's decision was issued a week after police shut down
the newspaper following a ruling by the Supreme Court.
The newspaper closure has provoked outrage from media groups at home
and abroad. On Tuesday, the South African National Editors' Forum asked to
meet South African Foreign Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma to discuss
concerns about what it called media repression in Zimbabwe.
South Africa has been criticised for its policy of quiet diplomacy
towards Zimbabwe, which is grappling with acute shortages of food, foreign
currency and local banknotes.
Harare journalists face charges
The government has already shut down the newspaper, which is critical of President Robert Mugabe, for operating without a licence and charged four directors under strict media laws.
The Associated Newspapers of Zimbabwe (ANZ), which published the Daily News, employed about 60 journalists.
Police spokesman Wayne Bvudzijena said they also wanted to question ANZ board chairman Strive Masiyiwa, who lives in South Africa, "over his role in the illegal operations of the group".
The newspaper has been unable to publish since 12 September when police first sealed the offices.
Under media laws, introduced after President Mugabe's election win in 2002, all newspapers and journalists must be registered with a state-appointed media commission.
But the newspaper's application for a licence from the Media and Information Commission was rejected on Friday for "failing to meet the requirements of the law".
The Daily News only applied some eight and a half months after the expiry of the deadline for registration. It said the media law was designed to stifle the press and initially refused to apply for accreditation.
The commission ruled that the Daily News had been operating illegally and had also failed to supply the commission with free copies of the paper, as required under the new media law, it said.
Last week, a high court judge ruled that the Daily News should be allowed to resume operations.
"They never wanted to register us... These events challenge all of us to speak out and demand an end to such injustice", Mr Nkomo said on Saturday.
In a show of solidarity, the South African National Editors' Forum on Tuesday asked to meet South African Foreign Minister, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, to discuss concerns about what it said was media repression in Zimbabwe.
South Africa has been criticised for its policy of quiet diplomacy towards President Robert Mugabe, who blames the West for the crisis in Zimbabwe.
Harare - The now routine long lines of customers outside of
banks eased on
Tuesday for the first time in two months after Zimbabwe's central bank
launched new temporary bank notes printed in full only on one side.
The poor quality notes, valid as legal tender until January 31, are the
latest in a series of desperate and unorthodox measures intended to bolster
the struggling economy and end acute shortages of cash in this troubled
southern African country.
The so-called "bearer checks" resemble bank notes but will only be valid as
legal tender until January 31, the Reserve Bank said.
The notes were issued to banks on Tuesday in denominations of 5 000, 10 000
and 20 000 Zimbabwe dollars amid fears they were open to easy forgery, even
The highest existing denomination bank note is Z$500, or 60¢ at the official
exchange rate of 824-1 or about 10¢ at the black market rate of 5 000-1.
The new notes were also available in automatic teller machines.
In recent weeks, Zimbabweans have taken to waiting several days in bank
lines to draw their money or cash pay checks. Some have slept on the
sidewalk outside their banks to secure a place at the front of the lines.
Customers said they were served with the new notes after waiting for as
little as 20 minutes in swift-moving lines on Tuesday.
The central bank said it was releasing nearly Z$9bn this week.
A total of Z$390bn of the new notes is to be released, nearly double the
value of existing conventional bank notes in circulation.
The dramatic increase in money supply was expected to spur already record
Inflation rose to a record 426% in August, one of the highest in the world.
Zimbabwe is suffering shortages of local money blamed on its runaway
inflation, the central bank's inability to print conventional notes quickly
enough and hoarding of money amid uncertainty in the crumbling economy.
The government has resisted calls to introduce large denomination bank
notes, citing fears they would further fuel inflation.
It argues the temporary notes, printed with a faint watermark and a simple
security thread compared to elaborate security features on conventional
notes, will restore consumer spending and revive productivity in the
In another unique attempt to ease the currency crisis, the central bank last
month issued a range of new local travelers' checks valid only in Zimbabwe
in denominations of up to Z$100 000 that it said were legal tender accepted
by major stores and businesses.
Some stores, however, refused to accept the travelers' checks that were
described as "funny money" vulnerable to forgery and fraud.
The nation is suffering its worst economic crisis since independence in
The state owned Herald newspaper raised its cover price on Tuesday to Z$500,
up from Z$300. In 1985, five years after independence, the paper cost 10
ZIMBABWE: Children hardest hit by crises - UNICEF
23 Sep 2003 (IRIN) - The rising the number of street children
in Zimbabwe was an indication that the ongoing humanitarian crisis, coupled
with the current economic decline, has had an extremely negative effect on
the country's children.
The UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) Country Representative, Dr Festo Kavishe,
told IRIN on Tuesday that there had been "a very visible increase in street
kids" over the past year and a half.
"I have some contacts with the Anglican Church - they provide soup kitchens
for the street children - and they have also confirmed to me that the number
has greatly increased," Kavishe said. "The number [of street children] in
our database is 12,000, but right now I am sure there's more than 12,000
Kavishe said there were "quite a large number of factors" responsible for
this. "Right now the major issue is the severe economic decline, which
really means increasing poverty," he noted.
Analysts have forecast the Zimbabwe's inflation rate could top 600 percent
this year as the economy continues to contract.
"Also, the humanitarian crisis is contributing to [the increase in street
children] and also the problem of HIV/AIDS - that is really a very important
factor. It all relates to [the] weakening of coping mechanisms for families.
So, some children are on the street not only to look for food, but they are
also sent there for transactional purposes, for prostitution," Kavishe
Children forced into transactional sex were even more vulnerable, due to the
risk of sexually transmitted infections.
"But, of course, all these crises have impacted negatively on the
nutritional status of children - malnutrition has increased. We conducted a
national survey in February and the results indicated an increase in
malnutrition prevalence from 14 percent to 17 percent," Kavishe noted.
"And then also in terms of services, whether you are talking health or
education, they (children) are now less able to access these services, and
quite a number of children are now dropping out of school. Quite a large
number are on the streets or involved in prostitution," he warned.
WORKING ON SUSTAINABLE INTERVENTIONS
"We are trying to not only look into the extent of the [street children]
problem but also the causes, and to figure out strategies of how to respond
in the most sustainable way. We cannot just provide food and some of these
health services without looking at the longer-term sustainability. We are
working with our stakeholders, including government and NGOs, to work out a
plan of action, and it has to be done very soon," Kavishe stressed.
In terms of addressing the nutritional status of children, the organisation
was providing therapeutic feeding for the severely malnourished, and
supplementary feeding for mildly malnourished children under five.
A particular focus of UNICEF's work has been "building up capacity of
response structures at community, district and national level - where
capacity to respond has been severely eroded".
With regard to addressing the HIV/AIDS crisis, the organisation has been
"providing quite a lot of support in terms of voluntary counselling and
"We trained 20,000 volunteers at community level. We are also training
counsellors at institutions of learning - primary and tertiary
institutions - and we included also the teaching of life skills in the
curricula of schools, and have been providing assistance in terms of the
prevention of mother-to-child-transmission. And, of course, [our involvement
in] the whole issue of policy dialogue and strategy development," Kavishe
STATUS OF CHILDREN AN EMERGENCY
He pointed out that "for the whole of this year and half of next year,
UNICEF will be providing all the vaccines for immunisation [for preventable
"Although the country was independent in terms of provision of their own
vaccines, the situation has deteriorated to the extent where they do not
have the foreign currency to procure vaccines. There are areas prone to
malaria transmission and we are providing social mobilisation materials for
prevention, and insecticide-treated mosquito nets," Kavishe explained.
The status of children in Zimbabwe was "an emergency - in terms of the need
for immunisation, we really need to get funding, otherwise the deterioration
of the situation could see their immunity come down and there may well be
outbreaks of vaccine-preventable diseases," Kavishe said.
He added that "it is also an emergency in terms of the deterioration of the
nutrition situation. In the [current] humanitarian crisis and the declining
economy, the people most affected are children. The economic decline is a
crisis in itself".
He noted that UNICEF was in need of donor support so that it could
adequately respond to the various crises impacting on children.
"[Given] that children are the ones most affected by this situation, we
value very much the support donors have given us and we would appreciate it
if they continue with that kind of assistance," Kavishe said.
ZIMBABWE: Feature - Higher education another casualty of economic crisis
[ This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations]
HARARE, 23 Sep 2003 (IRIN) - Tertiary
education in Zimbabwe was at one time
ranked among the best in Africa, but the achievements of the country’s
education system are threatened by growing dissatisfaction and underfunding.
Thousands of students who completed undergraduate studies at the University
of Zimbabwe (UZ), the country’s oldest institution for higher learning,
failed to graduate last month when lecturers complaining of poor working
conditions and low salaries resorted to industrial action.
Some lecturers withheld examination results while others did not complete
marking scripts, insisting that their salaries should be raised, among other
issues. As the deadlock between lecturers and the government continued, the
university failed to open in early September for the second semester.
Lecturers and non-academic staff from five other universities joined the
The government recently agreed to raise the salaries of university
employees. The entry point for a lecturer is now
Zim $755,360 (US $955), up from Zim $218,156 (US $273), while senior
lecturers will earn a monthly gross of
Zim $819,200 (US $1,000), up from Zim $242 240 (US $302).
Although a compromise has apparently been made in relation to salaries, most
university employees are still reluctant to go back, while the bulk of
students are not sure whether to report at their various tertiary
institutions or not. Employees have not been paid their September salaries.
Besides salaries, staff and students alike complain of falling standards due
to low levels of funding. Computers and other communication facilities go
for long periods without maintenance, while lecture rooms, laboratories and
libraries are ill-equipped.
University residences can no longer accommodate the ever-increasing number
of students, who have been reduced to a life of near-destitution following
the privatisation of catering and accommodation services without a
commensurate rise in funding.
"Tertiary institutions of learning have lost their glamour... This is a
result of a combination of factors, chief among them the inability by the
government to prioritise the problems that have been dogging universities,
teachers’ colleges and polytechnics," James Mahlaule, secretary-general of
the Association of University Teachers (AUT), told IRIN.
Mahlaule ascribed most of the problems bedevilling institutions of higher
learning to the lack of effective communication structures between
employees, the government and other stakeholders.
"Existing communication channels are unsuitable, largely ad hoc, and they
complicate our situation. Most of the time we are confused over whom to
approach when airing our grievances, and we are not happy with the
bureaucracy we encounter. We are often directed to make our submissions to
the vice-chancellor, who then approaches treasury - where money matters are
concerned - with the treasury supposed to deliberate on our concerns before
going back to the vice-chancellor," said Mahlaule.
The long process often led to frustration among lecturers and other members
of staff and inconvenienced employees because, by the time they obtained
feedback, their financial demands would have been overtaken by inflation.
He complained that university employees did not enjoy the right of
collective bargaining, which had led to the labour court recently declaring
their strike action illegal.
The dissatisfaction has been around for some time. In 1999 a parliamentary
committee on education undertook a study in which it identified a lack of
communication and consultation as one of the key problems plaguing tertiary
"Academics expressed concern about [the] lack of openness to students and
staff, poor consultation and poor responses from the Ministry [of Higher and
Tertiary Learning] regarding students' genuine complaints," read the report
presented to parliament at the time.
University deans charged that complaints forwarded to central administrative
structures were largely ignored, as were faculty inputs on the running of
Although the parliamentary committee made recommendations to improve the
situation, Mahlaule said, they were still being ignored.
The situation was compounded by the government's tendency to interfere
politically in the running of tertiary institutions. "There is a lot of
despondency, caused by political interference in the day-to-day affairs of
the learning institutions. However, this is inevitable, considering the
funding structures of our establishments."
In theory, staff of state universities are employees of each university's
council, which should provide the bulk of the funding for the institution.
Since the councils do not have independent coffers, in practice the
government provides up to 96 percent of the learning centres' financial
needs, virtually acting as a donor.
The institutions are therefore left with no alternative but to follow
To resolve this dilemma, universities such as the Midlands State University
(MSU) and the National University of Science and Technology (NUST) had
started independent income-generating projects that they hoped would reduce
their dependence on the government by 70 percent.
But analysts said the drive towards financial self-sufficiency might be
frustrated by the institutions' poor financial control records. The 1999
parliamentary report acknowledged that "financial systems at the UZ had a
lot of leakages" - there were "ghost" students and lecturers, while
accountability regarding donor funds was "questionable".
Reports by both privately owned and official media have indicated that a
significant number of students graduating from universities did not pay back
government loans due to poor recovery systems.
Mahlaule said a significant number of postgraduate science programmes had
been funded by international donors, particularly in Sweden, Norway, and
Belgium. However, large numbers of donors had withdrawn their support
following the condemnation of Zimbabwe by many western governments over the
government's fast track-land reform programme, which began in 2000, as well
as alleged human rights abuses and electoral fraud. The International
Monetary Fund and the World Bank had also suspended aid.
Mahlaule suggested that universities and other higher learning institutions
should fall under the finance ministry instead of the higher learning
"In line with the recommendations of the [parliamentary] committee on
education, it makes sense that we be transferred to the finance ministry.
This is the ministry we mostly deal with, and placing us under the higher
learning ministry only succeeds in increasing bureaucracy," he said.
Because there are high levels of political interference, lecturers say, the
government always accuses the employees of tertiary institutions of being
driven by political motives whenever they air their grievances.
The acting higher education minister, Ignatius Chombo, recently threatened
to stop paying lecturers' salaries if they continued with their strike. He
charged that the striking workers had a political agenda to make
Mahlaule dismissed the allegation, saying the government's tendency to
politicise employees' genuine demands was one of the reasons the same
problems kept recurring, and he regretted that these had adversely affected
the morale of employees.
"Members of staff are literally walking out because of disillusionment. They
are handing in their resignations almost on a daily basis, and this is sad."
Medicine, veterinary science, engineering, law, agriculture, commerce and
the social sciences were the most affected faculties, he said.
Lecturers have been joining the private sector, where better salaries and
conditions of service were offered, or migrating to other countries such as
Britain, New Zealand, Canada, the United States, Botswana and South Africa.
The UZ is currently operating with less than 50 percent of the minimum
number of lecturers required and the growing number of resignations is
having a detrimental effect on the teacher-student ratio. Some faculties,
particularly the medical school, are reducing their intakes. Departments
have resorted to hiring part-time lecturers from the private sector in a bid
to salvage the situation.
A recent report by the Scientific and Industrial Research and Development
Centre (SIRDC) indicated that close to 500,000 Zimbabweans, a substantial
number of whom are college graduates, were economic refugees in the
diaspora, particularly in the United Kingdom, Botswana and South Africa.
Around 34 percent of them had left the country because of poor salaries at
home, while 29 percent migrated in anticipation of career advancement
opportunities, said the report.
More than 80 percent of doctors, nurses and therapists who graduated from
the UZ medical school since independence in 1980 had gone to work abroad,
seriously affecting the health delivery system.
Irked by the massive brain drain, President Robert Mugabe last year accused
Britain of "stealing" Zimbabwean professionals. Employers said the problems
dogging higher learning institutions had adversely affected the quality of
education and the qualifications produced by the learning centres.
"There is now a low regard for the kind of graduate being churned out by our
universities and other tertiary learning centres," said an executive member
of the Employers Confederation of Zimbabwe (EMCOZ) on condition of
"The general feeling is that the disturbances taking place at those
institutions compromise the degrees and diplomas being churned out. Take the
current strikes at state universities, whereby students ... have already
lost more than a month of precious time. How is that time going to be made
up for?" the executive member asked.
"In any case, there is no guarantee that the situation will be normal when
learning resumes, considering that students are underfunded and disgruntled.
We might see a wave of demonstrations as students take to the streets to
protest against poor financial payouts," he said.
Since the late 1980s, university, polytechnic and teachers’ college students
have been engaging in protests over poor conditions of study and living. The
protests led to numerous prolonged closures of the institutions.
The executive member said employers mostly preferred to train their own
staff and, in cases where they absorbed college products, the graduates
should demonstrate an excellent academic history.
"Basically, the student suffers most. The employer treats him with suspicion
and this makes unemployment levels soar," he added.
Zimbabwe's unemployment rate stands at more than 75 percent amid massive
company closures and an ailing economy with inflation at 400 percent and