|The ZIMBABWE Situation||Our
thoughts and prayers are with Zimbabwe |
- may peace, truth and justice prevail.
|Zimbabwe Film Festival Survives Despite Extreme Hardships|
06 September 2005
The curtain has come down on the Zimbabwe International Film Festival, held last week in Harare. While the country's deepening economic problems had an impact on the event, they could not stand in its way.
The organizers of the eighth edition of the annual festival never doubted that it would happen, despite the myriad of problems they faced. Festival director Rumbi Katedza says the biggest hurdle was finding the money.
"It is a hyper-inflationary situation right now in Zimbabwe so the budgets that we made last year or in January have no bearing on what's happening today," she explained. "They have probably doubled and quadrupled since then and you have to keep your cash flows in check from one day to the next."
Though ultimately the organizers had to downsize some of the festival programs, Ms. Katedza paid tribute to the donor community and Zimbabwean corporate sector support for being able to get the 10-day event together.
One of the programs adversely affected is the very popular Short Film Project, which gives aspiring Zimbabwean filmmakers an opportunity to showcase their talents. This year, one of the short films was sacrificed. Nakai Matema, who produces the short films, says this was done to avoid compromising the quality of the product.
"We usually try and aim for five, but this year we did four and that goes back to what I was saying earlier about how I had enough money and the budget to do all my five films and then in the space of three weeks the [Zimbabwe] dollar devalued," said Ms. Matema.
Ms. Matema says she invites scripts that deal with contemporary Zimbabwean issues, but many local filmmakers tend to stay with topics that have been well received in the past, such as HIV-AIDS and gender issues. The most popular feature films made in Zimbabwe dealt with some of those topics.
In addition to money problems, there is also the issue of self-censorship. Filmmakers say privately that, much as they would like to deal with contentious issues, they worry about the possibility of repercussions from the authorities. So they say they play it safe and stick to non-confrontational stories.
But two of the short films this year tentatively broke the mold. In one, the actors briefly mentioned the recent demolition by the government of thousands of homes, in what officials said was a slum-clearance project. In the other, there were scenes showing rubble of demolished homes in the background. Some members of the audience loudly whispered "tsunami, tsunami" during these scenes. Tsunami is the word many Zimbabweans use to describe the government's demolition campaign, which has been condemned by human rights groups.
The director of the winning entry in the Short Film Project category Brighton Tazarirwa said, although those who put up the money for the project did not interfere with the content, making a film in Zimbabwe can be a major challenge.
"The geography that we are working in is not flexible at all; it does not respect film making as a profession," he said. "Holding a camera is almost as bad as holding a gun in a public place, there are all these security issues put in place that make it almost impossible for you to operate freely without having to check with authorities every fifteen minutes or so. You really want to concentrate and be relaxed whilst you are making a film."
Festival director Ms. Katedza says, despite the problems facing Zimbabwe, the
festival must not be allowed to die. She says she is optimistic the good times
will return some day and Zimbabwe's film industry will prosper
Commission throws out council’s turnaround document
by Ceri Rees
LONDON marathon supremo David Bedford is backing Zimbabwean asylum seeker Williard Chinhanhu's bid to stay in the country.
The former world record holder, whose appearance was lampooned in adverts for the 118 118 directory enquiries service, said it would be "disastrous" for Willard if he were sent back.
Mr Bedford, an influential player in athletics circles, has put his name to a campaign being launched on behalf of the Zimabwean.
Mid-Dorset and North Poole MP Annette Brooke has also asked immigration minister Tony McNulty to give "urgent reconsideration" to Willard's case.
She has asked for restrictions imposed on Willard to be removed to enable him to help coach young athletes in Poole.
Mrs Brooke wants the government to look again at immigration policy which prevents any asylum seeker carrying out even unpaid work within the community.
She, like many of Williard's supporters in Poole, believes he should be allowed to give his services for free to young athletes in the area.
She told Mr McNulty: "Williard is a distance runner of considerable experience and talent and, if he were able to put his knowledge in to use, could be of great assistance to Poole Runners.
"At a time when the government is seeking to enthuse our young people in sports and athletic activity and in the light of the successful Olympic bid, it seems perverse to deny Williard the opportunity to take on a position as a coach, either paid or unpaid, at least over the next six months."
She added: "From the many, many letters and emails I have received, a picture emerges not only of a talented athlete competing for Poole Runners at the highest level, but also of a young man liked and respected by those who have met him."
Mrs Brooke's comments were made on the eve of constitutional changes made in Zimbabwe, which will allow Robert Mugabe's government to confiscate the passports of those deemed to pose a threat to national security.
The UK immigration minister said that he rejected Williard's appeal "without considering its merits", because the runner failed to attend a previous hearing.
Mr McNulty admitted that Williard's non-appearance "may be explained by his failure to receive the notice of the hearing".
First published: September 12
11 September 2005
Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe Governor Gideo Gono convinced the International Monetary Fund Executive Board late last week not to vote to force the country to withdraw from the global financial institution. But he now faces a greater challenge: pulling Zimbabwe’s economy back from the brink of total collapse.
The country’s economy has contracted by an estimated 40 percent in the past five years, inflation is running at 240 percent a year, 70 percent of the population is unemployed, food supplies are down to three weeks, fuel is in critically short supply, and even the central bank is now scraping bottom to muster up foreign exchange.
The IMF board on Friday deferred judgment on Zimbabwe for another six months, during which period the country has been urged to pay debt service arrears standing at $174 million following the recent payment of $120 million which the central bank is believed to have drawn from the hard currency accounts of Zimbawean exporting companies and other holders of available foreign exchange.
The IMF also wants to see meaningful economic reform, especially a reduction in Harare’s massive public deficits and liberalization of export and other markets
According to a statement released by the IMF, the board noted that Harare has taken some steps on exchange rates and monetary policy, but these “fell well short of what is needed” to overcome the country’s economic difficulties.
It cited the “significant risk that unless strong macroeconomic policies are undertaken without delay, economic and social conditions could deteriorate further.”
The IMF board “urged Zimbabwe to adopt and implement a comprehensive and coherent adjustment program as a matter of urgency, in the areas of fiscal, monetary, and exchange rate policies and structural reforms,” and “stressed that providing adequate social safety nets and food security for vulnerable groups, including those affected by "Operation Restore Order" and HIV/AIDS, are also critical priorities.”
Following the decision, senior editor Ray Choto of VOA’s Studio 7 for Zimbabwe spoke with Reserve Bank Governor Gono about the country’s close call at the IMF and asked him how he plans to stem the decline and reactivate productivity.