Mr. Purchase:To ask the Secretary of State for International Development if she has recently reviewed the effectiveness of United Kingdom development efforts in Zimbabwe. 
Clare Short: I have since 1997 kept our development programme in Zimbabwe under regular review. We remain committed to helping the poorest in Zimbabwe who are suffering the combined effect of economic mismanagement and the HIV/AIDS pandemic. But the situation in Zimbabwe is difficult and we continue to work only where we are confident our support can be effective.
For this reason we have today written to the Zimbabwe Government informing them that we are ending our support to the Privatisation Agency of Zimbabwe and to a Trade Policy Capacity Building Programme. In the continued absence of Government policies likely to reverse current economic decline and reduce poverty, I concluded that these projects were likely to have little beneficial impact for the people of Zimbabwe.MDC
From BBC News, 9 April
Student dies in Zimbabwe riots
Riot police fired teargas at demonstrating University of Zimbabwe students on Monday, one day after a student was killed during the continuing protests over college grants, witnesses said. They said police fired teargas on the campus and on the main highway leading into Harare city centre to disperse protests that have entered a third day. They were initially sparked by non-payment of college grants and loans and followed the suspected suicide of a female student.
Police spokesman Bothwell Mugariri confirmed a student, Batanayi Madzidzi, aged 20, was killed during the protest on Sunday night as students fled a first burst of police teargas. "It's correct that a student was killed last night. There were disturbances and police were called in and fired teargas to disperse the crowd," Mr Mugariri said. "We suspect that in the process the male student was trampled on," he said, adding that Mr Madzidzi, had died on the way to hospital. Student union secretary-general Brilliant Mhlanga, however, said that police has punched and kicked Mr Madzidzi and left him unconscious. Police had fired teargas into campus hostels and assaulted students as they ran away, he said. "We are incensed by the high level of police brutality," Mr Mhlanga added.
Campus protests began late Saturday, when rioting students stoned cars in a rampage triggered by the apparent suicide of a female student, Tecla Tom, in a love tryst, police said. Student leaders said their classmates were angered by visits to the campus by "sugar daddies" who use flashy cars and money to woo impoverished female students. Zimbabwe's economy is crumbling and students have complained for several months of delays in receiving their allowances from the cash-strapped education ministry. Students have also protested rising costs of food, accommodation and books. Meagre state grants lag far behind living costs, with many students exhausting their allowances eight weeks through the 20-week semester that ends next month, said student union official Ronualdo Mavedzenge. "This is when you have theft, vandalism and female students resorting to prostitution," he said.
From The Daily Telegraph (UK), 10 April
Land grab 'leading to famine' in Zimbabwe
Harare - Zimbabwe may be forced to call for international help to avoid a famine caused by President Mugabe's seizure of white-owned farms, it emerged yesterday. Zimbabwe once produced a surplus of maize, but a report by the Famine Early Warning System Network forecast a 42 per cent fall in this year's crop and gave warning that stocks will run out by next January. Commercial farmers also predict a 31 per cent slump in the wheat crop, which would mean shortages of bread within nine months. The invasion of more than 1,700 white-owned farms by fanatical supporters of Mr Mugabe has thrown the agricultural sector, the backbone of the Zimbabwean economy, into turmoil. Squatters have forcibly prevented landowners from planting crops and caused hundreds of farms to go out of business. Uncertainty has worsened since the government listed more than 70 per cent of all farms, about 2,800, for compulsory acquisition. Ian Millar was forced to close his Dawmill farm last November after squatters forcibly prevented his workers from planting a crop. Keith McGaw, the manager, narrowly escaped death when he was attacked by a mob with axes.
The 1,700 acres at Dawmill, which once produced a turnover exceeding £800,000, are now lying idle. Mr Millar said: "It's a tragic situation. We're going to suffer food shortages because of the twisted politics of those in charge." Zimbabwe will have to import 458,000 tons of maize and 200,000 tons of wheat to avoid starvation by next January. For an economy that is already the fastest-shrinking in Africa, this will almost certainly be unaffordable. A critical shortage of hard currency has already caused a fuel crisis and the extra £64 million needed to import food will probably be unobtainable. This will leave Mr Mugabe with no choice but to seek international help. The food shortages could coincide with the last stages of his re-election campaign. Mr Mugabe's term of office ends on April 1 next year, three months after the famine is predicted to begin.
Diplomats in Harare fear that he will call for international assistance but use the aid to reward his supporters and punish opponents. This week has seen students from the University of Zimbabwe in Harare taking the lead in protests against the government. One student died and several were injured in clashes with riot police on Sunday during demonstrations against economic hardship. Police claimed that Batanayi Madzidzi, a 20-year-old science student, was trampled to death when officers fired tear-gas on campus and students rushed to escape. But the student union secretary-general, Brilliant Mhlanga, said police beat him to death. Another 30 students were treated for injuries after the protest. Yesterday, riot police were again using tear-gas to try to prevent students leaving campus, but hundreds of young people breached the blockade to march through the centre of Harare. Students have complained for several months about non-payment of grants and rising costs. But the campus protests seemed to have been triggered by the apparent suicide of a female student in a "love tryst", according to sources. Students were said to be furious that "sugar daddies" were visiting the campus and luring impoverished female students into prostitution.
From The Daily News, 9 April
Tsvangirai tours mass graves of Gukurahundi victims
Bulawayo - The MDC president, Morgan Tsvangirai, last Saturday toured the mass graves of victims of the 1980s massacres in Kezi, saying his party, once in power, would bring to book all those found to be responsible. Tsvangirai spoke hours before receiving a hero’s welcome by a crowd of more than 15 000 supporters at Maphisa growth point. He became the first political leader to visit the mass graves, in which are buried some of the more than 20 000 people killed by the army’s North Korean-trained 5 Brigade in Matabeleland and Midlands. Accompanied by his deputy, Gibson Sibanda, and the national youth chairman, Nelson Chamisa, Tsvangirai was led by village elders to Balagwe area where thousands of people were buried in mass graves. He later visited Antelope Mine where some of the victims were buried in disused mineshafts. "This is confirmation that when a government pursues power through the use of violence, it totally disregards the rights of its citizens," said Tsvangirai. "This was a barbaric operation by Zanu PF and its leadership. It should never have happened. It was a sad episode in our history and the MDC will obviously want to see justice being done if it comes to power. Such human rights abuses should be revisited and those responsible will have to account for their actions."
Tsvangirai, who attended the victory celebrations for Lovemore Moyo, the MDC MP for Kezi, heard horrific accounts of how innocent people were massacred during the dissident era. "We should all unite and stand up to defend ourselves as Zimbabweans," said Tsvangirai. Sibanda warned of a slide into anarchy, urging the MDC’s supporters to be vigilant. He predicted that Zimbabwe would experience its worst violence during the campaign for next year’s presidential election. Sibanda said: "This is a revolution and for one to achieve any victory and alter the status quo, there will be pain and suffering. Mothers know that when one is pregnant, no matter how much one might pray, one cannot avoid labour pains."
Comment from The Daily News, 9 April
Scaremongering won’t alter Zanu PF fortunes
AT the height of the Constitutional Commission campaign last year, a Cabinet minister said if the people rejected the new draft, they would be condemning themselves for a long time to come to life under the old Lancaster House constitution, warts and all. As far as he was concerned, they would be unwise to reject the new government-supported constitution. After they had firmly rejected it, the people were told it was their fault that the government was doing what it was doing to them - making life difficult.
Last week, there was a distinctly gloating tone in Stan Mudenge’s warning of a state of emergency if there were international economic sanctions against Zimbabwe over its racist, anti-democratic policies. The Foreign Affairs minister, speaking in Parliament, sounded as if the government held all the aces in its alleged struggle against the rest of the world. If you impose sanctions against us, the people on whose behalf you purport to be punishing the government of Robert Mugabe will suffer the most, he seemed to be warning the world. The idea seems to be to convince the world that the most prudent course for them to take, if they want Mugabe and Co to change their anti-democratic spots, is to let them do so at their own pace, and not to force them through any form of economic arm-twisting.
Clearly, very little is going to force the government to alter its agenda of imposing Mugabe on the people for another six years of despotic rule -except sanctions or mass action. They will not amend the Constitution to allow for a more level electoral playing field. The Electoral Supervisory Commission remains firmly in the grip of the President and is as toothless as ever. It remains the only non-independent electoral commission in SADC. The Registrar-General remains as pivotal as ever in any election and no account is to be taken of the constant criticism of his alleged bias towards Zanu PF, which he has strenuously denied. The so-called war veterans remain a law unto themselves, blithely ignoring all calls to return to whatever hole they came from.
In surrendering the leadership of most of its structures to the so-called war veterans, Zanu PF is sending a clear message to the electorate. The 2002 election campaign is going to be even bloodier than the 2000 parliamentary one. To wrest the urban vote from the opposition, the party has assigned that task to the so-called war veterans. The reputation of these people for lawlessness is well-documented. What we can expect in all the urban centres in which the opposition scored so impressively against Zanu PF is a very bloody campaign.
What is worse is that there may be very little help from the police as heads are bashed, property destroyed and people generally subjected to a reign of terror to ensure Mugabe’s re-election. Augustine Chihuri, the Commissioner of Police, announced proudly that he was a member of Zanu PF and had no apologies to make. What he probably meant was that the opposition should not expect any impartiality or neutrality from him in matters involving their supporters and Zanu PF supporters, including the so-called war veterans. If that scenario is taken to its logical conclusion, what it means is that all opposition supporters are easy meat for every thug claiming to be a Zanu PF supporter. If the opposition supporters decide that their cause is just enough to defend physically, the consequences could be ghastly all round. But this is what is likely to happen - a bloody mess.
From The Cape Argus (SA), 9
Of course, if the government declared a state of emergency and the President ruled by decree, there would be no need for all that. Parliament would be suspended, most opposition leaders would probably be jailed, all civil liberties suspended and all independent newspapers banned. There would be tension throughout the country and people, being what they are, would seek inimitable ways to assert their rights. The government should be reminded that a state of emergency can be very costly, politically and economically. Ian Smith and Co can probably testify to that. Moreover, in both respects, the country is as good as being the victim of international sanctions. The many companies shutting down every day as a result of foreign currency and fuel shortages would not argue against that statement. Neither they nor the people in general are likely to be cowed by the government’s new scaremongering tactics.
Fears for life of Kabila-killing witness
London - The only known witness to the assassination of President Laurent Kabila is held in solitary confinement in a Kinshasa jail and receives food only every other day, say sources in the DRC and diplomats. Supporters of Emile Mota, who was Kabila's economics adviser, are pleading for intervention to save his life, as he is reportedly in uncertain health. Mota was briefing Kabila on January 16 when an assassin shot the DRC leader at point-blank range. A week later, Mota gave the Independent an exclusive and detailed account of events. It is understood that Mota, 44, a doctor in mining economics, was arrested on March 14 as part of a security sweep which included several other men who were close to Kabila. The DRC is now being led by his son, Joseph Kabila. According to sources in DRC ally Zimbabwe, Mota is being held in the notorious Makala prison in the capital, Kinshasa. Another source from the DRC said: "He is being held under the pretext that he is the only witness". "He explained that he is receiving only one meal every two days and that in his current precarious state of health, he does not know how long he will last. Please make this plea known to organisations who may be able to help," the source said. Mota's supporters fear for his life because, they say, he is being guarded by Zimbabwean soldiers. It is understood that while Kabila was alive, and with his consent, Mota blocked Zimbabwean top brass who wanted to buy into DRC state mines.
From Business Day (SA), 10 April
Rautenbach tries to buy his freedom
Offers state guilty plea on certain charges and R30m to stay out of jail
Former Hyundai distributor and fugitive businessman Billy Rautenbach offered the state R30m and a guilty plea to certain tax offences and breaches of foreign exchange regulations in exchange for freedom from criminal prosecution. The offer was made to the head of the state's asset forfeiture unit, Willie Hofmeyr, through a facilitator. However, the unit is pressing ahead with its case against Rautenbach. This emerged in an affidavit by Hofmeyr presented to the Johannesburg High Court yesterday where the unit is seeking a final restraint order against property of Rautenbach's worth R60m.
The assets were seized in terms of the Prevention of Organised Crime Act in September last year. Among the assets are a jet, a helicopter, a house and six flats in Sandton, a Cape wine farm and a farm in KwaZulu-Natal. The high court ruled last month that a provisional order allowing the unit to keep the property would stand. Rautenbach opposed the order on the grounds it was issued in his absence. If the unit is successful in securing a final restraint order, it will then apply for a confiscation order. If this is granted, the property will be forfeited to the state.
The directorate for serious economic offences is preparing to extradite Rautenbach from Zimbabwe to face charges involving more than R100m. The charges relate to Rautenbach's Wheels of Africa company. The directorate has already arrested five of Rautenbach's former employees and associates, including a senior customs official. The charges against Rautenbach include bribery of customs officials, fraudulently reducing the tax liability of Wheels of Africa subsidiaries and stealing $8m worth of Hyundai vehicles from Hyundai Korea, among others. Wheels of Africa was liquidated in December 1999 after a string of raids on the holding company by the directorate.
Rautenbach is also alleged to have bribed two trade and industry department officials. In an affidavit, a former Rautenbach employee said Rautenbach paid the officials R300 000 to drop an investigation into Volvo's relationship with Wheels of Africa. He said that in early 1995, MercedesBenz SA complained to the department that Volvo was "dumping (its) products on the SA market at reduced prices in contravention of World Trade Organisation regulations". The department had then requested price lists from Volvo, he said. He said Rautenbach was "very worried" about the investigation into "dumping" because he was involved in a fraudulent scheme in which Volvo vehicles were being imported into the country at deflated values to reduce duties. Rautenbach was afraid that if Volvo Sweden provided its prices, the fraud would be exposed.
The former employee said Rautenbach requested Volvo management not to give its price lists to the department, but "management at Volvo was extremely unhappy about this situation". He also said Rautenbach paid a captain at the Port of Maputo in Mozambique monthly cash bribes of $3000 in return for a reduction in rental fees for a plant based in the port. An affidavit by a former business partner of Rautenbach confirms Rautenbach instructed his then group financial manager Johan van Biljon to bribe the two trade and industry officials. He said Van Biljon met the officials at Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe to "offer them money like they had never seen in their lives". Soon after, the investigation was terminated, he said. The asset forfeiture unit's application is expected to continue this week.
09 April 2001
Taking it to town
'The coming year is going to be a difficult one for all Zimbabweans. And while farmers won't be shouldering the entire burden, as they were a year ago, that doesn't mean the burden will lighten. It will spread wider without necessarily being spread thinner.'
CHENJERAI Hitler Hunzvi, the leader of the Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans' Association (ZNLWVA) has a new plan. Not long ago he admitted publicly that war vet inspired violence had won ZANU-PF the parliamentary elections. When he admitted this, he did so slightly churlishly, believing that the ruling party wasn't giving him the credit he deserved.
But now Dr Hunzvi seems to have been taken back into the fold. And he's going to help ZANU-PF win back the urban voters it lost to the opposition MDC.
War veterans, notably the excitable Joseph Chinotimba, seemingly on permanent leave from his position as a humble municipal policeman, have been elected to provincial posts in the ruling party's Harare structure. This has to be a precursor to stepping up the campaign for the presidential elections.
City residents, who voted overwhelmingly for the opposition, will be none too pleased. They fear an upsurge in violence and intimidation - and prophesy more disappearances and assaults on MDC and NCA activists. Their fears are probably justified.
But people living in farming constituencies are probably breathing a sigh of relief. It has long been a belief that when ZANU-PF tries to take its campaign countrywide, it would stretch itself too thin. In order to pummel the urban voters into submission, it has been said, the ruling party will have to divert resources from the rural to the urban areas.
Well, this will be the time of reckoning. In order to win the general election, ZANU-PF mustered its forces and concentrated them on the country's commercial farms, believing that if rural communities were going to swing to the opposition, it would be farm workers rather than communal land people who would betray the party's cause.
It was a successful strategy - but only just. Violence in Matabeleland and Manicaland failed to bring back those who'd strayed into the opposition fold. And this time it will be even more difficult. A presidential election is based on numbers alone; constituencies don't count - which means that the ruling party has to persuade all doubters en masse, be they on farms, in cities, in Manicaland or Matabeleland, all areas where the opposition enjoys support.
It is a formidable task, but farmers would be naïve to believe that the pressure is going to be eased by a shift into the city's sprawling, poverty wracked townships. That may happen - but it's equally likely that Dr Hunzvi will recruit new "war vets" to persuade urban voters of Mr Mugabe's merits and leave those already on the farms exactly where they are.
There are already signs that this is happening. In towns and cities across Zimbabwe, so-called war veterans are assuming de facto roles in governance. Companies experiencing labour disputes have found themselves enduring visits, not from civil servants in the labour department, but by militant followers of Hitler Hunzvi. Economically threatened service stations, struggling to control cash flows and queues, have found their efforts hampered by officious and threatening war veterans who take charge - and rarely to the benefit of anyone other than themselves.
Huge chunks of life in Zimbabwe now fall under the control of the ZNLWVA. Balanced newspaper articles in the independent Press ask who is the government of Zimbabwe? It is a fair question, for war vets have unparalleled authority, seemingly above parliament - and certainly above the courts.
The coming year is going to be a difficult one for all Zimbabweans. And while farmers won't be shouldering the entire burden, as they were a year ago, that doesn't mean the burden will lighten. It will spread wider without necessarily being spread thinner.
That said, the country knew a long time ago that this was going to be the case. When the violence began, after the referendum that so humiliated the ruling party, Zimbabweans knew the onslaught would run a course that took in parliamentary elections and a presidential election. What no one can know with any certainty is what will happen after the presidential election is over.
Much, of course, will depend on the result - and right now both sides are confident of victory. Clearly Mr Tsvangirai and Mr Mugabe can't both win - and clearly the contest is going to be rather more interesting than many would like it to be.
And when it's all over? Well, it's also clear that Zimbabwe will never be the same again. Predicting the results this early in the game would be futile and stupid, but whatever the result, Zimbabweans can only hope that they're allowed to get on with the business of building what, just two years ago, still held so much promise.
And it still does, though sadly the promise is hidden beneath a layer of lawlessness and intolerance the likes of which no Zimbabwean ever though to see.
Editor- The Farmer
Pressure for devaluation continues to
Eyes for Zimbabwe touches thousands
Pumpkins on stage
Soyabean 4 Tonne Club
Concern over exchange rate
Pressure for devaluation continues to mount Tobacco farmers expected to delay selling
WITH the tobacco-selling season scheduled to kick-off on 24 April, general speculation this week was that initial inflows to the auction floors would be slow as farmers withhold their crop to press for the devaluation of the Zimbabwe dollar, which has remained at an "artificial" Z$55 to the American dollar. The farmers argue that a timely devaluation of the Zimbabwe dollar against the major currencies will in turn push their earnings up.
According to some economists, tobacco farmers see devaluation as the only guarantee for them to earn what would adequately cover the costs of producing the crop. Some of the inputs, they said, were being imported at the parallel market rate which was much higher than the official Z$55 to the greenback. The parallel market rate is said to be trading at around Z$100 to US$1.
An independent economic consultant, Mr John Robertson said, "Boycotting the auction floors earlier in the selling season is purely an individual economic decision but those who delayed selling in the past did better.
"If there is no devaluation tobacco farmers might not deliver and buyers might not come."
Farmers would invariably calculate the costs of their inputs, some of which were imported, and this would include escalating costs of electricity, part of which is also being imported. "The farmer has to look at a price that will compensate him for the imported inputs and have reasonable profit that makes it worthy to continue growing tobacco." Robertson said. Because the interest rates had been lowered this year, Robertson reckons this could reduce pressure on farmers to meet loan repayments providing a leeway for them to deliver only after the exchange rate has been adjusted to a more favourable level.
Due to the problems associated the government's controversial land reform programme; many farmers were unable to secure loans from banks and had to struggle on their own to finance the current crop. Such farmers, said Robertson, were likely to stay away from the auction floors for some time since there would be no pressure to repay loans.
"Every economic decision has got a penalty but it's the magnitude of the penalty that one's decision is based on," he said.
Zimbabwe Tobacco Association (ZTA) chief executive Mr Chris Mollam said there was need to create confidence and incentives for more tobacco to be grown and if tobacco farmers did not get a good and positive signal on the situation it's going to be disincentive for next season.
"There is a battle to repay loans and let alone to gather more cash for the next crop," said Mr Molam.
He said it was up to the individual farmers who produce the crop to decide when to take their tobacco to the auction floors.
He said the ZTA held meetings with the ministries of Finance and Economic Development and Industry and International Trade and officials in these ministries appreciated the problem associated with the exchange rate to tobacco farmers.
Independent media reports this week quoted some market insiders saying they expected a boycott of the auction floors by the tobacco farmers in protest against the official exchange rate, which does not reflect the real value of the dollar. This would negatively affect foreign currency inflows.
Last year most growers withheld their crop, resulting in a late start to the selling season. The government refused to devalue the dollar until after the elections.
According to statistics made available to The Farmer, last season smallholder tobacco farmers had sold 56% of their crop before devaluation on August 2, 2000, accounting for 40% of their crop value in Zimbabwe dollar terms.
This prejudiced smallholder farmers $51,5 million. If they had sold after devaluation, they would have gained over $50 million more. Their large-scale counterparts sold about 32% before devaluation accounting for 23,7% of the value in Zimbabwe dollar terms.
Officials in the banking industry attributed government's intransigence on the exchange rate to its desire to maintain strict control over the parlous foreign currency situation in the country. Others thought government's fear of devaluation hinged on its concerns over possible price increases.
They argued, however, that for the consumers, the devaluation would not necessarily lead to price increases of various consumer products as prices were being hiked without justification to the consumers anyway.
Mr Robertson said while government may claim that devaluation would lead to a rise in inflation and an escalation of prices of commodities, people were already trading at a much higher rate to the Zimbabwe dollar and were passing-on the costs to the consumers so that inflation was already there in any case.
It is also feared government's foreign debt would go up automatically without it necessarily borrowing more as a consequence of devaluation but economists attribute this to the government's own failure to maintain a stable exchange rate.
Eyes for Zimbabwe touches thousands
ABOUT 2000 rural Zimbabweans, partially or completely blinded by cataracts, are set to regain their eyesight during a whirl-wind five-week "Eyes for Zimbabwe project" for 2001 launched throughout the country this week. In Zimbabwe, it is estimated that 100 000 people are blind or partially sighted, of which 80 000 are curable, the main cause of blindness being cataracts. There is an annual increase in the number of victims of between of 7 000 to 10 000, including newly born babies.
The cataract treatment involves operations to surgically remove the lens and replacing it with an intra ocular lens. "Over the past nine years, surgeons have been trained in this procedure and but our greatest limitations have been due to shortage of equipment," said Eyes for Zimbabwe director of operation, Ms Reeve Nield.
"We are trying to involve the whole country and there have been an impressive response from farmers, doctors, the army and nurses. The aim is to make Zimbabwe the first free eye cataract country in Africa," she said.
During Eyes for Zimbabwe 2000, in the short space of 10 days, over 2000 people were screened, some were provided with spectacles, others received medication, while others had cancer and other growths removed. A total of 500 patients had cataracts removed thereby restoring their eyesight.
"During the five weeks of the project, 26 ophthalmic surgeons will perform cataract surgeries at 14 eye camps throughout Zimbabwe doing about 2000 cataract operations," she said.
In Mashonaland West area of Makonde Commercial Farmers' Union AIDS project co-ordinator; Lorraine Marillier has volunteered to join hands with other farming and non-farming members of the community to work with the Eyes For Zimbabwe Project. "From this area we have had more patients than we anticipated and many people are volunteering to work," said Ms Marillier.
She said farmers had donated meat, mealie meal, soft drinks and biscuits to people coming for treatment.
In March 1997, the Eyes for Zimbabwe project was launched and over the past four years, "through the generosity of numerous sponsors we have been able to donate portable microscopes, surgical instruments, vast medical supplies and intra ocular lenses" she said. With this essential portable equipment and supplies, both local and foreign ophthalmic surgeons had donated their time and talents by travelling throughout Zimbabwe, performing surgeries and giving sight to thousands.
The distribution of spectacles, mostly among children, is part of the activities of the eye camps, which are expected to continue throughout the year.
Four events attended by best lady professional golfers who play for the ladies European Gold Tour kicked-off this week to raise additional funds to purchase medical supplies for 'Eyes for Zimbabwe' eye camps.
Ms Nield said some neighbouring countries were now requesting to have similar projects. She said Zambia was and Mozambique's Graca Machel, wife of the late Mozambican President Samora Machel, had expressed interest in the project.
Pumpkins on stage
The World Pumpkin Confederation held its 2001 Southern Hemisphere Championships last week at Eskbank Farm 20km north of Harare.
Coming at a time of stress and uncertainty in the farming community, the competition provided gentle relief for the five competitors and many spectators.
A departure from the usual prize categories was an award for the saddest pumpkin. Pumpkins and their owners are very prone to sadness as so often, just as the day arrives to load the monster for its last journey to glory, it goes rotten.
The saddest story was that of John Mosley's and Bengy Cawood's pumpkin that had been specially grown in Beit Bridge and went more than rotten. On the morning before the competition, it was loaded with difficulty on to a forty-tonne rig for its long journey to Eskbank. When the cargo arrived at the Sesonye River to cross the Bailey bridge that had been placed across the flood-damaged approach, it was found that a fuel tanker had fallen off the edge of the narrow deck and completely prevented any other vehicle from crossing. Undaunted, Mosley's driver decided to make a deviation to one side and had just got abreast of the dangerously damaged bridge when, without any warning, it collapsed on to the trailer, smashing the alleged 500kg pumpkin into pieces.
The Kennedy and Nascimento families organise the now traditional competition, making it a leading item in Zimbabwe's agricultural calendar.
Entries for the event in 2002 are keenly anticipated.
The following is a list of the main prize winners.
1st - Alistair Headicar of
Glendale - 114.9kg
2nd - Dennis, of Eskbank - 112.6kg
3rd - Khebab Zindone, Glendale - 87.0kg
Oddest-shaped pumpkin - Alistair Headicar
Furthest travelled pumpkin - Khebab Zindone -75km
Youngest grower - Eskbank Primary School
Largest squash - Philip, of Eskbank
Soyabean 4 Tonne Club
Combining has begun in the soya bean crops. There are some very wet area's which is affecting harvesting. However, two yield assessments have been conducted. Congratulations to a new member to the 4 Tonne club, Mr Brink Bosman, Lions Den achieved 4.57 t/ha. The second assessment a 5 tonne achiever, Miss Lisa Nislev, Boroma Estates, Glendale achieved 5.01 t/ha.
exchange rate as
COTTCO increase producer price
THE Cotton Company of Zimbabwe (COTTCO) has increased the 2001 producer price of cotton by 35% but company remains concerned about the "artificial" exchange rate set by government at Z$55 to the greenback and lower international lint prices.
The new prices are grade A $19.60/kg, grade B $19,10/kg, Grade C $18,90/kg, and grade B $13/kg.
COTTCO chairman, Mr Paddy Zhanda, said the increases in the producer price were against the backdrop of falling international prices of cotton lint, persistent high inflation negatively impacting on the company's costs and a static exchange rate against the US dollar.
About 80% of Zimbabwe's crop is exported and the major factors influencing the price to producers were international lint prices and the exchange rate. Mr Zhanda said the adjustment of Zimbabwe's exchange rate would help the company to maintain viability and give better producer prices.
He said inflation had affected most businesses in Zimbabwe in general and his company had not been spared either. As a result, prices of most imported inputs such as spares, packaging materials, diesel, wages and electricity continued to rise.
The crop size, which this year had been reduced by about 25% due to bad weather to some extent, also influenced the producer price.
Mr Zhanda said after a team went out to survey the affected areas, cotton production had to be revised downwards from the initial projection of around 400 000 tonnes to about 285 000 tonnes.
Mr Zhanda said because of these problems, "We sympathise with farmers that prices may not be as high as they might want."
However, he said, as per tradition COTTCO would review the prices and pass the benefits to the farmers provided the situation changed.
"As in the past, fundamentals will be constantly reviewed and should the situation change, producers will benefit," he said.
On 26 December 2000 the benchmark A index stood at US$0,66 per pound for cotton lint. Since then, prices had been on a downward slide and the A index was now US$0,52. The slide started with higher than anticipated Chinese production causing world stocks estimates to exceed consumption forecasts. This was compounded by news of an economic downturn in the US, the world's biggest textile market.
|UZ demo providing government with chance to unleash terror|
4/10/01 7:10:19 AM (GMT +2)
THE demonstration by
students at the University of Zimbabwe (UZ) against the activities of older men
going out with female students desperate to supplement their meagre allowances,
is legitimate in that it shows the government's lack of urgency in providing
students with an environment where they can focus purely on their studies.
But as has become familiar
over the last 12 months, the demonstration provided the government with a
convenient excuse to export the terror and brutality it has unleashed in the
high-density areas throughout the country onto the UZ campus.
The sin committed by the students in Mount Pleasant was that they dared elect a new Students' Executive Council (SEC) president who is non-Zanu PF.
The shorthand for that is this is another blow for the government and the ruling party in their bid to control the student body at the oldest institution of higher learning in the country.
Not only have the government and Zanu PF lost the 19 constituencies that make up the Greater Harare area to the opposition, they have also lost out possible control of a very vocal constituency that can decide an election. The next fear for the ruling party and the government is over who will control Town House. That is why elections for the Harare City Council are going to be delayed. Three losses in a row is too much of a nightmare for a party and government that are used to having things their way, because of credentials as the liberators.
The storming of the UZ campus early yesterday has nothing to do with safeguarding the security of the female students or “sugar daddies”. It has everything to do with teaching the student body a lesson in daring to exercise their right to elect who should lead them. The government will be unforgiving because it argues that it is providing funding for the students' education and, therefore, they ought to be grateful for this act of largess.
From now onwards, the students can be assured that they will be subjected to the same terror campaign that Justin Mutendadzamera, Job Sikhala and others in the high-density areas have been exposed to. The immediate strategy, in respect of the UZ students, is to ensure that if the ruling party and the government have lost the SEC presidency, then they should pack the whole executive with their own. That is how the government's action in sending the riot squad onto the campus must be understood.
If this is successful, the SEC president will be hamstrung. At least, that is the thinking in government.
The use by the riot squad of live ammunition against unarmed students is deplorable. But the motive is not lost on the majority of Zimbabweans: It is either to provoke a violent clash or uprising, that builds up the government's case of a threat to impose a state of emergency.
Students have always been at the forefront of revolutions, and the government is really desperate for an excuse that would justify imposition of a state of emergency.
What is most perplexing is the government's propensity to pursue the wrong priorities, despite boasting one of the most intellectual governments in Africa. In the case of student grievances, the issues are well-documented and they have begged solutions for several years.
The privatisation of catering services at all institutions of higher learning required a corresponding review of students' stipends, so they can afford decent meals.
Students cannot be expected to concentrate on their studies on empty stomachs.
Privatisation of catering services should have been undertaken in such a way that charges for meals and other services took cognisance of the market. A shop at a rural growth point does not charge the same prices as one in Harare's affluent Westgate or Borrowdale. Its market determines the price of services it provides.
Students' allowances are a combination of loans and outright grants. It would be far better to increase the pay-outs with a corresponding increase in the loan repayments. That way students would receive manageable pay-outs.
The closure of many companies and the current economic hardships make it difficult for the greater majority of students to secure part-time employment.
The activities of “sugar daddies”, especially among people supposedly more enlightened about, and alive to the risks of HIV/Aids are frightening. It is precisely because of this that the Aids toll continues to escalate. It would be folly to pretend the country has an effective strategy when the risk of HIV/Aids transmission is prevalent among a critical section of the population that is supposed to spearhead the fight against the spread of the disease.
|Matabeleland and the issue of federalism|
4/10/01 7:10:58 AM (GMT +2)
Farai T Jiji
IT IS difficult to begin
discourse on Matabeleland without invoking some form of controversy over what
the ends and purposes of the discourse are.
Regardless of the general
emotional sensitivity about Matabeleland, it is imperative that there be frank
discussion over and about claims to set up a semi-autonomous state in the
Matabeleland regions of Zimbabwe.
This is said because of the advocacy by a number of political parties and pressure groups that claim to have as their support base the aggrieved people of Matabeleland. Their intentions, in so far as they outline them in public meetings and other such political platforms, are very close to a call for the secession of the Matabeleland region from Zimbabwe.
But these calls are somewhat referred to euphemistically as the need for a federated Zimbabwe. Whilst the justifications for this are wide and most probably can best be defended by their advocates, it is critical that a general perspective as to whether or not the grievances of Matabeleland as a whole warrant a call for the latter province to be a self-governing one.
Since everything has a strong place in history, the Matabeleland crisis is one embedded strongly in historically related attitudes.
Obviously the fact that the history of Matabeleland is laden with many political triumphs is important enough to have a bearing on some of the cries for a desire to see the province rise to that once glorious position outlined in its history.
The anti-colonial struggle did not do much to change this perspective where, at the back of the minds of a number of people who come from the south of the country, was the thought that it was only historically proper that Joshua Nkomo come to the helm of a new Zimbabwe.
In effect, the liberation struggle helped to reinforce certain ethnocentric feelings about power within an independent struggle.
True to Professor Masipula Sithole's argument of the strong hand of ethnicity in the struggles within the struggle between nationalist political parties such as the Zimbabwe African People's Union (Zapu) and the Zimbabwe
African National Union (Zanu), Zimbabweans from Matabeleland were far from satisfied with the state of affairs of the struggle as compared with those from the northern regions.
The subsequent attainment of independence was not to be as reconciliatory a political process as had been expected. The banning of Zapu and the purging of Joshua Nkomo, Lookout Masuku, Dumiso Dabengwa and many other leaders who to date have not been found or decently buried, literally put paid to any prospects of an immediate national consensus in the years immediately following independence.
The fact that then the major Matabeleland leaders were purged in unclear circumstances by the government of Prime Minister Mugabe as well as that some of them actually died in detention or as a result of being detained is an issue that holds strong in the memories of those that are advocating for the semi-autonomy of Matabeleland. But even more critical in the historical justification of making Matabeleland an autonomous province are the events that occurred between 1983 and 1989.
The Gukurahundi period was unjust and cruel on people from the Midlands province and the Matabeleland region. It is the memory of this cruel period that most likely has inspired a good number of young men and women to be fervent advocates for the withdrawal of central government's control of Matabeleland. In saying this, we do not only mean the Zanu PF central government, but any central government. The passion in these emergent Matabeleland-based organisations and political parties is so fervent that at times it defies political practicability.
However, the most important question to arise out of the historical backdrop of the Matabeleland case for secession is whether or not history alone is enough to allow justification for the intentions and wishes of those that are clamouring for autonomy. The truth of the matter is that it is not enough to use events of the past only to try and conjure up new political systems for the country. Foremost in the minds of those calling for federalism must be the realisation that once applied, the latter will not be a singular province event but that it will apply nationally should it be accepted nationally.
Federalism will need to gain popular ground not only in Matabeleland and Bulawayo, but will need to be strongly embedded in the other provinces of the country. Moreover, it will need to be tempered with a national understanding of its basis, which unlike that of its advocates, cannot be ethnicity alone. This is said because ethnic groupings tend to want complete autonomy if they are allowed the political space to do so, a situation which no doubt would create conflict similar to that of Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Importantly, too, is that there is no strong history of a strong African ethnic unitary state within Zimbabwe's provinces to sell the idea with as much candidness as one would expect of a democratic process. Even if the basis of federalism were to be shifted from an ethnic-based on to a development-based agenda, it would still not be able to sell nationally.
This is because in the ethnic-based one to a development-based agenda, it would still not be able to sell nationally. This is because in the eyes of many a citizen (even those in Matabeleland) there is still room for a democratic central government being able to do well on behalf of all the provinces it will be in control of. This is strongly evidenced by the strong Matabeleland vote for the Movement for Democratic Change whose manifesto does not include any plans for a federated Zimbabwe.
Also included is Zanu PF that also did not include any plans for a federated Zimbabwe in its 2000 election manifesto. The political parties that were advocating for federalism performed badly during the parliamentary election and it is our very much thought-out opinion that they might not make much of an impact during the forthcoming presidential election.
The most prevalent current feeling amongst Zimbabweans is one that expresses confidence with the concept of a central government thus limiting the impact of a federal agenda.
Regardless of the fact that federalism in Zimbabwe is not really a priority of many of the country's citizens, the question of Matabeleland and its unfair treatment by national politicians is still an important item in the making of a more democratic Zimbabwe.
|Health sector records massive brain drain|
4/10/01 7:43:38 AM (GMT +2)
MORE than 100 doctors
and about 18 000 nurses have left Zimbabwe for greener pastures since 1998,
leaving the country’s health delivery system on the brink of collapse.
Timothy Stamps, the
Minister of Health and Child Welfare, confirmed the massive brain drain of
medical professionals to Britain, Australia and other English-speaking
“It’s not just doctors leaving, we are also losing pharmacists, physiotherapists, medical laboratory technologists and paediatricians to mention only a few,” said Stamps.
“The whole of the health sector is being preyed upon by agencies from the English-speaking part of the world. There is generally a strong attraction to go for jobs which pay well.”
According to a demographic report for 1998 by the Secretary for Health, there were 569 established posts for general doctors, but only 462 of them took up the posts, leaving 107 posts vacant.
The following year, the number of filled posts decreased to 351 and and vacant posts increased to 218.
The number of vacancies for registered general nurses increased from 812 in 1998 to 2 580 in 1999.
In January, Stamps said 18 000 nurses had left for the United Kingdom and other Commonwealth countries since 2000.
About 400 state certified nurses left their jobs during the same period.
Demographic results for the year 2000 are yet to be published.
Zimbabwean health professionals are leaving the country in droves because of poor remuneration, working conditions and lack of medical equipment.
Sibert Mandega, the president of the Hospital Doctors' Association, said:
“There is a great outflux of doctors because they are frustrated. We are working so hard, but paid peanuts.
“Hospitals are under-equipped and we have a shortage of drugs.”
He said even junior doctors had started leaving for the United Kingdom, the United States, South Africa and Australia in search for a better life.
Last month, junior doctors across the country went on strike pressing for on-call allowances, clarification of the employment status and better communication with their employer, the Public Service Commission.
Last year, Britain announced plans to recruit more than 21 000 nurses from other countries.
Britain has a large number of elderly people who require specialised nursing services.