The ZIMBABWE Situation Our thoughts and prayers are with Zimbabwe
- may peace, truth and justice prevail.

Back to Index

Back to the Top
Back to Index

Zim Standard

'Things fall apart'
By Bertha Shoko

Nation under seige as food, fuel, electricty shortages bite ZIMBABWE'S
social and economic sectors are on the brink of collapse as crippling fuel
shortages have resurfaced while a combination of power blackouts and water
shortages have gripped cities around the country threatening to grind
industry and commerce to a halt.

Apart from that, Zimbabwe has run out of food with reports that the country
has only 60 000 tonnes of maize left, enough to feed the nation for only two
Industrialists and commentators said that Zimbabwe's industry and commerce
would soon collapse if the current problems bedevilling the country are not
urgently addressed.

Already, the transport industry is reeling from the fuel crisis. Last week,
most commuter buses were grounded, leaving workers stranded especially in
the country's major towns of Harare, Bulawayo, Gweru, Mutare and Masvingo.

Obert Mpofu, the Minister of Industry and International Trade, insisted that
by Tuesday this week the fuel situation would have improved.

"All stakeholders are working towards arresting the fuel problem," Mpofu

Mpofu's statement appears to fit in with information The Standard has, which
suggests that payment for fuel will be made tomorrow (Monday).

The Standard understands that one of the causes of the current crisis is the
delay in paying fuel suppliers. The Standard was informed yesterday that as
much as US$2.5million due to suppliers since February has not been released
and this has adversely impacted on the creditworthiness of Zimbabwean fuel

The reason for the delay in paying external fuel suppliers was a demand by
the authorities to four or five indigenous fuel importers who reportedly
failed to account for the money they were given to import fuel.

As a result of the delay in releasing the funds since February, a consortium
supplying the southern half of the country has not been able to bring in
fuel because the external suppliers, among them Sasol, are reluctant "to put
good money after bad money".

In smaller towns such as Kadoma and Kwekwe, Marondera and Zvishavane, the
situation is equally bad and has given rise to a thriving parallel market.

In Gweru and Harare, five litres of petrol are going for $150 000 and $60
000 respectively on the parallel market, against an average pump price of $3

Unscrupulous public transporters were cashing in on the crisis charging as
much as $5 000 for the Harare to Chitungwiza route, twice the gazetted fare.

Long queues of desperate motorists, wasting productive time in search of
fuel, have become the order of the day at many service stations in the

On the power supply front, the countrywide blackout resulted in loss of
business for most companies.

Most food outlets in Harare were on Wednesday and Thursday reduced to soft
drinks retailers after the power cuts prevented them from preparing fresh

In supermarkets, perishables such as meat and milk products were thrown away
after they went bad - resulting in huge losses for businesses.

"Our losses run into millions of dollars," said a manager at a supermarket
in Harare's Central Business District (CBD).

The scarcities of fuel and electricity blackouts are also likely to impact
negatively on the Zimbabwe International Trade Fair (ZITF) in Bulawayo and
the Harare International Festival of the Arts (HIFA), which kick-off this

Eric Bloch, an economic analyst, warned that power and fuel shortages were
set to worsen the country's social and economic decline and called on the
government to increase the fuel pump price to make it more viable for
procurement companies.

"The pressure by government on distributors to keep fuel prices down could
further worsen the fuel crisis. The current price is prohibitive to
producers," he said.

Economist, John Robertson, attributed the fuel crisis to lack of incentives
to encourage fuel procurement companies to import fuel. He suggested the
fuel price be increased to $7 000 a litre.

Robertson said: "The scarcity of foreign currency mainly due to the loss of
tobacco earnings, loss of beef earnings and many other industries and
sectors is also contributing to the fuel crisis. Export industries are not
closing but shrinking because the economic environment is not favourable."

Efforts to get a comment from the Petroleum Marketers' Association of
Zimbabwe were fruitless.

The president of the Employers' Confederation of Zimbabwe (EMCOZ), Mike
Bimha, said the power supply irregularities, water cuts and fuel shortages
impact negatively on the overall performance, resulting in low production

For a worker to give optimum performance and increase productivity in the
workplace, he said, one needs to have peace of mind.

"Imagine waking up to go to work and there is no water for you to bath, no
electricity to warm your water up and cook food then there is no transport
to ferry you to work? How many problems can befall a person?"

Collin Gwiyo, deputy secretary general of the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade
Unions (ZCTU) said the problems were a result of bad governance and called
for dialogue between the ruling party and the opposition Movement for
Democratic Change (MDC).

Zesa general manager (corporate affairs), Obert Nyatanga, said that
electricity interruptions are going to continue until the end of the winter
season due to increased demand.

"However, with the encroaching winter peak period, demand for electricity
will outstrip supply and the region has run out of excess power to export to
deficit markets like Zimbabwe during peak periods," Nyatanga said.

Zesa said it was unable to access the 100mw power import from SNEL of the
Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) due to a transmission failure

The parastatal said two of its generators at Kariba and Hwange Power
Stations are not working due to a critical shortage of spare parts.

The Consumer Council of Zimbabwe (CCZ), a body created to protect the
interests of the consumers, refused to comment immediately, saying it needed
to consult broadly.
Back to the Top
Back to Index

Zim Standard

Harare tap water now on sale as crisis deepens
By Valentine Maponga

SEVERAL Harare suburbs were without water for the whole of last week as the
capital's water crisis continues unabated.

However, out of this crisis some enterprising Harare residents with
boreholes and wells on their properties are selling water to desperate
residents, The Standard has established.
Long queues of people with empty containers have become a common sight in
Hatfield, Msasa Park, Waterfalls, Greendale and Mabvuku suburbs at
properties where there are either boreholes or wells.

In Waterfalls, a two-litre bucket of water ranges between $2 000 and $5 000,
depending on the individual.

People who spoke to The Standard said a litre of water was selling for
between $1 000 and $2 500 in areas such as Hatfield and Msasa Park, where
residents have been getting erratic supplies of water for the past month.

Shylet Makuvaza of Waterfalls said life has become extremely difficult
without safe running water and feared for the outbreak of diseases.

"Can you imagine going for more than 14 days without water and you would
want to cook, do some washing and bathing? I think it's high time the
authorities did something about this problem. We are left with no choice but
to buy water," Makuvaza said.

Another Waterfalls resident, Gregory Banda, said Harare had been reduced to
a "growth point" due mismanagement.

"We have been without water for the better part of this month. We are just
like people living in the rural areas now," Banda said.

As the water crisis worsens, some of the wells and boreholes are beginning
to dry up because of receding water tables.

Janet Museve of Hatfield said the water from her well was suddenly dirty.

"We are suffering. The water we used to get from the wells is now coming out
very dirty. We don't even know where we are going to get the water.

"One of the heartless people from the council openly told me that we should
not be complaining since we had only been without water for one week as
compared to the people of Mabvuku, who had been without water for more than
two months," Museve said.

Mike Davies, the president of the Combined Harare Residents' Association
(CHRA), said they had received numerous calls from people complaining about
the water situation.

"The Commission is failing to preserve the little water that is available
because it can not repair burst pipes where water gushes out everyday. We
have received complaints from residents but there is nothing we can do,"
Davies said.

Leslie Gwindi, the spokesperson for the Commission running the affairs of
the Harare City Council, could not be reached for a comment.

The water crisis plaguing the city for over the past five years deteriorated
in May last year but has worsened during the past three months. Last month,
it was reported that the council had run out of water treatment chemicals.
Back to the Top
Back to Index

Zim Standard

'No respite in Zim rights abuses'
By Caiphas Chimhete

CASES of gross human abuses in Zimbabwe have always increased each time
President Robert Mugabe's continued grip on power is under threat, according
to analysts.

They said Zimbabwe's human rights record, characterised by the intimidation,
kidnapping, assaults and brutal murder of people who hold alternative views,
has never been satisfactory since independence.
University of Zimbabwe political science lecturer, Eldred Masunungure, said
human rights violations have taken different dimensions, ranging from
enacting repressive legislations to physical attacks on perceived enemies of
the State.

Masunungure said notable cases of abuses include the Gukurahundi massacres
in the Midlands and Matabeleland provinces, electoral violence in all
parliamentary and presidential elections held after 1990 and the denial of
food aid to suspected opposition supporters.

About 20 000 people were killed during the disturbances when the North
Korean trained 5 Brigade was deployed to Matebeleland.

"Zimbabwe's human rights record has never been satisfactory from the start.
It has actually worsened since the 2 000 parliamentary elections because of
the threat that was posed by the opposition Movement for Democratic Change,"
Masunungure said.

Zimbabwe Lawyers' for Human Rights (ZLHR) director, Arnold Tsunga, said
Zimbabwe's human rights record had been "terrible" for the past 25 years.

"We got too excited about our independence to the point that we began to
overlook critical signs that showed totalitarian rule," Tsunga said.

"As a result, there was no sustainable way of looking at the human rights
component of the system," he added.

In the last five years the government has introduced a wide range of
obnoxious legislation, which undermines the basic freedoms of expression,
association and assembly, rights guaranteed to all under the African Charter
on Human and People's Rights.

The laws include the Public Order and Security Act (2002), (formerly Law and
Order Maintenance Act (LOMA), the Access to Information and Protection of
Privacy Act (2002) and the Broadcasting Services Act.

"These legislations are infamous for violating rights," said Masunungure.

Freedom of expression, association and assembly are vital to the existence
of a democratic society and indispensable for the formation of public

Hundreds of civil society and opposition MDC activists have been arrested
under Posa, which criminalises peaceful gatherings. The police, apparently
under political instructions, fail to arrest or investigate those who commit
human rights violations.

The killers of MDC activist Talent Mabika and Tichaona Chiminya, who were
brutally murdered in 2000, are moving around the country freely despite
repeated calls for their arrest by the courts.

Since 2001 the government has established youth "militia" groups.
Allegations of torture and assault, including rape committed by "militias"
as groups or individuals have been widely reported.

AIPPA has been used to arrest and detain scores of journalists from the
independent media, and to shut down the country's independent newspapers,
which provided alternative views to State propaganda churned out by the
State media.

Among the victims of AIPPA are The Daily News, The Daily News on Sunday, The
Business Tribune, The Weekend Tribune and more recently The Weekly Times.

The land invasions, which were spearheaded by war veterans and Zanu PF
supporters, also added a dark spot in the country's human rights record.
Several farmers lost their land to farm invaders and occupiers without any
form of compensation, violating their property rights.

While the independence of the judiciary is vital to enforcing the law and
ensuring accountability, in Zimbabwe that independence has seriously been

The government has, on several occasions, ignored court orders while judges
and lawyers have been subjected to harassment and assault by state security
agents. Cases in point include that of human rights lawyer, Beatrice Mtetwa
and former Daily News attorney, Gugulethu Moyo, as well as lawyer Gabriel

Judges such as former chief justice, Anthony Gubbay, and Michael Majuru, who
was president of the Administrative Court, resigned or retired due to
political pressure from the ruling party.

University of Zimbabwe political scientist, Greg Linington, said Zimbabwe's
human rights record was deplorable. He said the bench had been
"restructured" to serve the ruling party, which in itself was a violation of
human rights.

"It is actually disturbing and things are worsening because the government
continues to ignore court orders while lawyers are denied the right to
access to their clients," said Linington.

Soldiers and Zanu PF loyalists evicted incarcerated former Chimanimani MP,
Roy Bennett, from his farm despite several court orders barring them from
doing so.

Of growing concern to human rights groups, such as the Zimbabwe Human Rights
Association (Zimrights) and the Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace,
is the deteriorating framework for the realisation and enhancement of social
and economic rights.

Since 2002 millions of Zimbabweans have faced serious food shortages. But
the suffering of hungry Zimbabweans appears to have been exploited for
political gain.


Arex paints grim picture on maize crop situation

By Rutendo Mawere

RESULTS of a nationwide survey to determine the crop situation in the
country will be completed at the end of the month, the Department of
Agriculture Research and Extension Services (Arex) has said. The maize crop
appears the worst affected.

Arex director Dr Shadreck Mlambo told The Standard that although a
preliminary survey had been conducted, the full picture would only be known
at the end of April. Three weeks ago Arex undertook a preliminary assessment
of the crop situation in all provinces in the country.

Arex sent assessors to all the provinces last month to assess the crop
situation, following a long spell of erratic rainfall.

The country experienced erratic rainfall this season and the result has been
that most crops are already a write-off. This has dampened prospects for a
good harvest.

The Zimbabwe Commercial Farmers' Unions (ZCFU) said although the country
received some rains during the last few weeks, a marginal recovery of crops
would be realised as damage had already been done to the crops.

ZCFU president, Davison Mugabe, said the rains would only benefit the
late-planted crops, which are still at the grain filling stage.

"There is marginal recovery as most crops will not recover because they were
extensively damaged and the rains have come a bit too late. Only very late
crops will recover," he said.

Mugabe believes the rains will also benefit preparations for winter cropping
and tobacco preparations.

Mugabe was unable to say how much maize would be harvested this season, but
said tobacco and Soya beans would command better harvests than the maize

"Tobacco harvest will be fine as the crop was not affected by the dry spell
and those who planted early Soya beans will get a decent harvest. Maize is
the worst affected," Mugabe said.

The worst affected areas include most parts of Matabeleland and Manicaland,
Marondera, Hwange and Masvingo, where crops have already wilted, threatening
the country with hunger.

According to a rainfall bulletin by the Meteorological Services Department,
most of the southern and eastern districts had received below 80 percent of
normal rainfall last month.
Back to the Top
Back to Index

Zim Standard

Police arrest movie actors
John Mokwetsi

POLICEMEN last Tuesday arrested 16 actors of the upcoming first local action
movie, Nothing to Wait For, at a shooting site in Mabelreign, charging them
for violating sections of the draconian Posa and The Censorship Act.

According to eyewitnesses, two policemen charged at the cast who were
shooting at Mabelreign Calvary Church, to arrest them for unlawful
possession of guns that turned out to be toy guns used in one of the scenes.
"We were surprised that a routine shot that was being done could generate
such a furore. The police were aggressive as if they had come with
preconceived motives," said an eyewitness who resides in Marlborough.

The director of Nothing to Wait For, Ryan Nush, confirmed that they were
detained for a day at Mabelreign Police station.

"We slept in the cells on Tuesday but everything is under control now. I
cannot say anymore than I have already said," said Nush.

However, an actor who requested anonymity and was also among the detainees
said: "The police on discovering that we did nothing wrong blamed us for
being sell-outs who were doing a movie that was bent on soiling the
country's image and that of the police. When we were arrested we were
shooting a scene depicting appalling prison conditions."

A police official at Mabelreign Police station who spoke on condition of
anonymity said the actors did not at the time of arrest do enough to wad off
police suspicion.

"We have since released them after they explained their position."

He said they were detained despite the fact that no docket was opened.

"The Posa charges did not stick because we had police clearance to shoot
there. So they said we were arrested for shooting a pornography tape under
section 16 of the Censorship Act. Of course these were trumped up charges
just to intimidate us.

"The cells were filthy and the 16 of us had to squeeze together to get
sleeping space," the actor said.

The actors were released on Wednesday morning only to be taken to Harare
Central police station were their script was confiscated. They allegedly
endured six hours of grilling by Law and Order officers.

"Our three directors were taken into different rooms were they were asked to
explain who was funding our project. The police felt that Britain and
America were using our movie for propaganda purposes. The logic behind that
assertion boggles my mind," said the actor.

According to the source the actors were only released when the script was
found to be "clean" and, after a stern warning for the directors not to
speak about the incident to the media, they were told to go ahead with their

An increasingly paranoid Zimbabwe government has of late kept a close eye on
art productions that it views as a strong weapon that can be used by
suspected detractors like Britain to cause despondency in the country.

The Censorship Board banned a theatre play by Rooftops productions, Super
Patriots and Morons, for containing what it perceived to be politically
incorrect messages bent on demonising President Robert Mugabe. Another local
movie under production, Throw the Dice, was reportedly asked to change some
of its scenes by the Censorship Board.

Contacted for comment police spokesperson, Assistant Commissioner Wayne
Bvudzijena refused to comment.
Back to the Top
Back to Index

Zim Standard

Public debt surges past $6 trillion
By our own Correspondent

THE size of the public domestic debt has leapt to about Z$6 trillion since
March 2004 due to repeated open market operations (OMO) undertaken to
accomplish the two-pronged task of subduing stubborn inflation and raising
funds to finance the government's Budget deficits threatening to shoot
through the ceiling.

The debt surge is a culmination of countless Treasury Bill (TB) tenders,
which effectively transferred Z$2,205 trillion to insurance companies,
discount houses, pension fund managers and other money market actors in the
past twelve months to March 2005.
This marks a growth rate, in TB-held public debt, of about 170 % since 2001
when 94 percent of total government domestic debt - amounting to a
staggering Z$154 billion in nominal terms - was incurred through the same
short-term debt instrument.

In 2004 alone, the government made over 40 TB allotments contrived to run
down its Budget deficit and mop up from the market excess liquidity that
monetary authorities believe to be the pill pepping up inflation.

Wozani Moyo, a socio-economic analyst, this week took a swipe at President
Robert Mugabe arguing that his decision to extend the size of his Cabinet to
a staggering 31 ministries - an increase of eight - flouted demands by both
the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the RBZ for fiscal prudence.

According to her, the new and now over-elaborate Cabinet, not only
duplicates roles, but also threatens to siphon resources that could have
been expended on capital investments, further stifling rapidly zeroing
business confidence.

It also sounds a death knell to RBZ Governor Gideon Gono's efforts to slay
the inflation dragon ominously snarling at the economy and pumping in
additional pressure into the ballooning government domestic debt, which in
effect is debited against every Zimbabwean, she added.

In the current year, the government has channeled about 82% of total annual
fiscal expenditures amounting to Z$27,5 trillion towards consumption, with
capital expenditure receiving a paltry Z$5 trillion allocation, all of which
the government said it hoped to borrow from local credit markets through
more treasury bill and bond sales.

Moyo further deplored that this skewed resource allocation and enduring
deficit trend entrenching a consumerist tradition of living from hand to
mouth, would "crowd out" business firms also vying for scarce credit from
local credit markets.

Investment credit has fallen in step with the RBZ policy decision to clamp
down on free credit creation and onward lending by financial institutions,
claiming that credit creation is one of the local catalysts of inflation.

Said Moyo: "Although RBZ advances to government fell for a greater part of
2004 at Gono's insistence, that should not be mistaken with fiscal prudence.
A cut in the consumption component of the overall government budget deficit
is what will soothe domestic debt pressures, and not half-hearted cuts in
sectors, which contribute a negligible percentage to the overall deficit.

"If the truth be told the problem of domestic debt will never be solved
unless the State bureaucracy is down-sized. Contrary to his claims that his
Cabinet is a 'development Cabinet,' President Robert Mugabe has actually
made a counter-developmental move of increasing the number of ministries.
Right-thinking people expected him to reduce his cabinet, merging some
ministries to eradicate role duplication, and scrapping off irrelevant ones
like the Ministry of State for Policy Implementation, yet each Ministry is a
policy implementing body," Moyo said.

"Instead, he has added other funny ones like the Ministry of Rural Housing
and Social Amenities, and the Ministry of State for Public and Interactive
Affairs. Fiscal imprudence is an epidermal macro-economic disease
continuously causing unnecessary macroeconomic instabilities in this
country. Yet, we tout so much about wanting to promote economic development
and fighting inflation. Yet, unchecked State extravagancy is in itself
inflationary," she added. The domestic debt alarm - first sounded by former
Finance Minister, Simba Makoni, in his 2001 National Budget statement when
he deplored that the spiralling domestic debt had effectively become a
"heavy albatross round the neck of the country," - a year later triggered a
desperate fluster to urgently restructure domestic debt.

The endeavour fired blanks owing to stiff resistance from the consortium of
government domestic creditors emanating from discouraging interest rates,
and not more than 40% of the total government domestic debt held in short
maturity treasury bills could be stretched to medium-to-long-term maturities
of two-years or more.

The low interest rate policy then seemed an attractive monetary policy
option, because it in the short run gave the government the leeway to borrow
cheaply and finance its profitless military expeditions in the Democratic
Republic of Congo, but with devastating inflationary effects in the long

Moyo also warned that the pressures of domestic debt servicing have returned
again to haunt the government, this time due to the obsessive desire to see
inflation coming down at all costs, currently instigating aggressive OMOs.

She said the OMO thrust, though seemingly noble in intent, has paradoxically
shored up a mounting burden of interest payments on the borrowing the
government has brought forward. These interest payments have risen from
Z$284 billion in December 2003 to $2,9 trillion in March 2005 and unless
interest rates came down further - a feat quite unlikely, given the fresh
buoyancy in inflation - the size of government debt would inexorably
continue to balloon.

Already interests on government debt are channelling some huge percentage of
the total government spending into the hands of local creditors.
Back to the Top
Back to Index

Zim Standard

Project to stem rising Mukuvisi polllution
By Rutendo Mawere

THE Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) last week commissioned
Z$500m for the Intergrated Water Resources Management of the Mukuvisi River
and its catchment project.

Implemented by Environment Africa, the project aims at stemming the rising
levels of pollution in the Mukuvisi River, one of Harare's main water supply
The venture aims at bringing together stakeholders such as communities
living and working along the river, industries, urban farmers and schools to
work towards lasting pollution reduction solutions to improve the lives of
the residents.

According to the implementers, the project will also see the creation of
environmentally friendly waste management programmes in Mabvuku and Tafara
for the restoration of the Mukuvisi River and its catchment.

Speaking at the commissioning ceremony and official launch of the project,
The Canadian ambassador to Zimbabwe, John Schram, said: "This project brings
about the responsibilities people and communities have towards the
environment. Water is one of the basic needs in our lives and it affects
everybody. We are therefore glad to be part of the efforts to the solution
of water shortages in Harare."

Schram added that they felt honoured to be part of the initiative and was
proud to work with Environment Africa for the betterment of everyone's life.

The Mukuvisi River is under threat from industrial waste pollution,
siltation caused by stream bank cultivation and illegal dumping of waste in
the river.

Innocent Hodzonge of Environment Africa, who is also the project manager,
said: "It's our hope that what we are trying to achieve on this river will
result in a clear improvement in the physical state of the river environs,
as well as better water quality, and restoring a healthier habitat for the
river's aquatic life."

Josylny Kututwa, an environment scientist, said that there was excessive
pollution of the river: "Many studies have shown that Mukuvisi River is
excessively polluted, leading to the deterioration of water quality in Lake
Chivero and subsequently Harare's potable water."

Environment Africa, a private organisation, works with all sectors of
society throughout Zimbabwe to protect and manage natural resources and to
promote sustainable development. According to the organisation, Mukuvisi
contributes about 30 percent of Harare's raw water getting into Lake

Harare has been unable to supply its residents with water for several months
with several areas experiencing erratic supplies.

The cost of cleaning Harare's water is a major contributory factor to the
city's perennial water shortages with about eight different chemicals

The funds made available will be used for the development of Environmental
Management Action plans along the river which joins the Manyame River before
feeding into Lake Chivero.
Back to the Top
Back to Index

Zim Standard

MDC to boycott national events
By Loughty Dube

BULAWAYO - THE opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) has said it
will not participate in national events unless Zanu PF departs from its
current stance of treating important national events as party functions.

In a wide-ranging interview bordering on the MDC's alleged boycott of the
country's 25th Silver Jubilee celebrations, the opposition spokesperson Paul
Themba-Nyathi, said the opposition would never attend events where its MPs
will be embarrassed and humiliated by Zanu PF officials.
"The problem is that Zanu PF has personalised all national events and made
them Zanu PF events and unless that changes we will never attend the
national functions," Themba-Nyathi said.

He, however, added that the party does not bar individuals from attending
national functions. "We are on record as saying our people are free to
attend 'national functions' as long as their security is guaranteed and they
are not subjected to humiliation," Themba-Nyathi said.

The MDC spokesperson lashed out at some sections of the press, which alleged
that MDC's absence from national events was a sign that the opposition party
was not patriotic.

"We have attended some national functions in the past and we have been made
to sit on the ground and in terraces and we were subjected to much
humiliation by ruling Zanu PF officials. We are saying what is the use then
of attending Zanu PF rallies that come under the guise of national events,"
Themba-Nyathi said.

The MDC failed to attend a number of national functions that include
Independence Day celebrations, Heroes' Day celebrations, Unity Day, Defence
Forces' Day celebrations. The opposition also missed the official opening of
Parliament by President Mugabe in 2002.

"In Bulawayo, where all the seven MPs are from the opposition and the
executive mayor is from the opposition, the programme for the Silver Jubilee
celebrations did not include even a single elected opposition official but
had Zanu PF functionaries as directors of ceremony and guests of honour,"
Themba-Nyathi said.

He added: "If the Silver Jubilee event was a national event then Zanu PF
should also watch from the field and let the event become national."
Zimbabwe invited several heads of State to the Silver Jubilee celebrations.
Back to the Top
Back to Index

Zim Standard

Local councils feel the pinch as donors flee
By our own staff

SERVICE delivery and the general standards of living of people in urban
areas started to degenerate in 2000 when major donors withdrew financial
support to most councils, local authorities said this week.

They said the withdrawal of international donors citing gross human rights
abuses and bad governance, exposed most local authorities. The majority of
them cannot generate enough revenue to keep themselves afloat.
Harare has reportedly since lost its "Sunshine City" status after years of
unreliable refuse collection service, persistent water cuts and blocked
sewers that go for weeks unattended to.

The cities also face an enormous housing backlog that has seen the rise of
unplanned housing co-operatives mushrooming in most open spaces,
particularly in Harare.

The president of the Urban Councils Association of Zimbabwe (UCAZ), Fanie
Phiri, said the withdrawal of financial support by donors had a negative
impact on service delivery.

"Councils in the past used to receive funds from the USAID (United States
Agency for International Development) and the World Bank for developmental
projects and things were fine but just after 2000 the international donors
withdrew their services. There was a stagnation in housing development and
roads conditions started to deteriorate," Phiri said.

He was hopeful that the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) funds reportedly
distributed to councils would help resuscitate the fortunes of all local

"We are hoping that if the RBZ funds are made available councils would be
able to deliver and improve their service delivery systems," he said.

Phiri also attributed the poor performance by council to political
interference. He said although the powers of Mayors were clearly spelt out
in the Urban Councils Act, some council officials were still facing problems
in carrying out their duties.

"We have received a number of complaints from councils of interference but
we have never proved any case since most of the concerns are never taken to
court," he said.

Misheck Shoko, the executive mayor for Chitungwiza also complained of
political interference.

"As city fathers, we are supposed to be above politics since we serve
everyone whether Zanu PF or MDC but over the past years some of our projects
have been turned down by government on political grounds. For (Elias)
Mudzuri's case one can never know whether it was a political or an
administrative case," Shoko said.

Mudzuri, the former mayor for Harare, was fired from council by the Minister
of Local Government, Public Works and National Housing, Ignatious Chombo,
last year over allegations of mismanagement of funds and corruption.

The president of the Combined Harare Residents' Association (CHRA), Mike
Davies, said there was need to depoliticise the operations of the local
authorities in the country.

"The councils have been politicised and there is need to employ competent
technical staff based on merit not political appointees. Residents are not
getting value for their money," he said.

Tendai Biti, the MDC secretary for Finance said over the past years councils
had not been performing well due to political interference.

"Since 2000 the government has not given any MDC controlled council any
borrowing powers, this is a clear picture of how politics has affected the
normal running of the local authorities," Biti said.

Steven Sithole of Rugare said living in Harare was no longer different from
living in the rural areas.

"The problems we are facing are too numerous to mention. We go for weeks,
even months, without garbage being collected, exposing people to diseases.
If you fall sick, there are no drugs in the council clinics," Sithole said.
Back to the Top
Back to Index

Zim Standard

Angry villagers demand apology from Katsande
By Valentine Maponga

RELATIVES of 24-year-old Clive Bota from Domboshava, who was allegedly
killed by a guard employed by Industry and International Trade permanent
secretary, Retired Colonel Christian Katsande, say they are irked by what
appears to be "callousness" by the government official.

Bota, who was shot dead while collecting firewood at the permanent
secretary's farm on Saturday last week, was finally buried after almost
week-long impasse.
Relatives of the slain youth say Katsande showed disrespect and callousness
by failing to apologise to them over the tragedy.

Bota was allegedly shot by Shigirirai Chingoka, who is now in police

The relatives of Bota refused to bury him until the permanent secretary had
apologised. They dumped his body at Katsande's Borrowdale Stud farm.

When The Standard news crew visited the Bota homestead, Zimbiru village, in
Domboshava, the police, chief Chinamhora of Goromonzi and relatives of
deceased were locked up in a long meeting but failed to reach a consensus.

Hundreds of mourners sang loudly in protest on Wednesday afternoon demanding
that Katsande come and apologise to the deceased's family, failing which
Katsande should vacate the farm, which he was allocated at the height of the
chaotic land invasions.

"We are not going to accept this. He should just leave. He has failed to fit
in our community," shouted George Kazembe, a villager.

Liberty Kadzviti, a friend, said they were collecting firewood when the
guard fired a shot that hit Bota in the chest.

In retaliation, the villagers raided Katsande's green maize crop, which they
proceeded to roast. They also broke into his fowl run, killed and began
roasting his chickens. Riot Police were called to disperse the angry crowd
from the farm, after more than two hours of havoc.

"Go and ask the officer in charge at Borrowdale Police Station I cannot tell
you anything," a police officer at the farm shouted at The Standard news

When contacted for a comment, Katsande professed ignorance of the incident.
Back to the Top
Back to Index

Zim Standard

Outrage over 'forgotten' heroes
By Foster Dongozi

THERE is an outcry among sections of Zanu PF and the general public after
the late Zanla commander, General Josiah Tongogara and the late former
chairman, Herbert Chitepo were left out of the list of eminent nationalists
who were honoured posthumously on the eve of Independence Day.

They also believe the awards ceremony did not recognise the contributions
made to the liberation struggle by another assassinated Zapu stalwart, Jason
Ziyapapa Moyo.
So deep are the sentiments that the move is said to be widening the cracks
in Zanu PF that have been festering since the expulsion of the six ruling
party chairpersons, who were suspended in December before the party's

The country's two former vice presidents, Joshua Nkomo and Simon Muzenda
were posthumously awarded The Order of the Great Zimbabwe (Gold), while the
late Dr Samuel Parirenyatwa, the former vice president of Zapu and Leopold
Takawira, the former vice president of Zanu were awarded The Order of The
Great Zimbabwe (Silver).

The late Dr Bernard Chidzero, the former Finance Minister, was conferred The
Order of the Star of Zimbabwe.

Ironically, both Tongogara and Chitepo died in suspicious circumstances
involving vehicles, resulting in allegations that they could have been
assassinated by their colleagues in the liberation movement.

Chitepo died in a car bomb explosion in Lusaka, Zambia in 1975, while
Tongogara died in a car accident in 1979 on his way back to Zimbabwe from
Mozambique, where he had successfully launched raids into the then Rhodesia
from the eastern front.

Tongogara's secretary, Oppah Muchinguri survived the accident that killed
her boss.

But nationalist and Zanu PF national chairman, John Nkomo defended the move.

"People should not provoke unnecessary situations and create unnecessary
problems. The President clearly stated that the list of people who were
honoured was not final. There will be others who will be honoured. It's not
just liberators or war veterans who will be honoured but those who
contributed to Zimbabwe before and after Independence."

War Veterans national chairman, Jabulani Sibanda, said the decision to
honour some of the liberators was noble but fraught with irregularities.

"The weakness with our society is that some of the things that are done
appear to have been debated overnight and implemented the following morning.
The question that arises is who debated, under what circumstances and using
what criteria. The other weakness is that those in positions of power value
those who have or had similar qualities as themselves, be it in education or
the liberation struggle."

He said the sidelining of senior liberators, who died before independence
implied that those who died during the struggle were not valued.

"Only those who made it into 1980 seem to have been recognised. Tongogara
who died just before independence in a car accident, according to what is
publicised, should certainly have been on that list."

Sibanda said a committee should have been put in place to draw up the
honours' list.

"Right now the Solomon Mujuru-led Committee has been tasked to re-organise
the war veterans. Our feeling is that they want to disorganise an already
organised association. Instead, they should channel their energies towards
establishing the number of brave Zimbabweans who perished during the
struggle for independence.

"They should track down those who were killed on suspicion that they
supported freedom fighters; they should look at those who died in jails or
in detention; those who died in refugee camps; those who died on their way
to neighbouring countries and those who died before vetting."

He said their families could then be presented with some form of medal in
honour of those who perished .

Veteran nationalist and former Gweru Mayor, Patrick Kombayi, said the cold
shoulder treatment given to the memories of Tongogara and Chitepo was not

"Remember, there is a clique in Zanu PF that is very aware that the people
who should be leading this country had they not been assassinated are
Tongogara and Chitepo.

"Some of the top Zanu PF leaders regarded Tongo and Chitepo as stumbling
blocks in their way to higher positions during the liberation struggle,"
Kombayi alleged.

He said what happened during the awards ceremony was a clear indication that
the wartime divisions in the liberation movements were still in existence.

"I was not surprised at all that Tongogara and Chitepo were side-lined from
the awards because those Zanu PF leaders hate the true heroes even in death.
But the good thing is that the people of Zimbabwe know who their true heroes

Kombayi said it was not surprising that the widows of the two heroes,
Angeline Tongogara and Victoria Chitepo were living life-styles not
compatible with that of widows of true heroes.

"The children of Tongogara have been receiving assistance from some
concerned Roman Catholic priests while the government still continues to
employ Tsitsi Muzenda, the daughter of Simon Muzenda," said Kombayi, a
relative of the Tongogara family.

He said the possible reason why Leopold Takawira was honoured was that he
had been instrumental in ensuring the meteoric rise of the then young Robert
Mugabe through the party ranks.

"Takawira ndiye akati ingakamfana aka kane njere. (Takawira was the one who
said this young man (Mugabe) is very intelligent.) "From that time, Mugabe
rose quickly because of the patronage of Takawira," Kombayi said.

Former Zanu PF secretary general, Edgar Tekere said he was disappointed by
the omission of Chitepo and Tongogara from the honours list.

"A lot of concerned people in Zanu PF have also been asking me for an
explanation but I would rather not comment," Tekere said.

Some believe the snubbing of Tongogara and Chitepo could revive the
controversy which followed their deaths during the liberation struggle.
Back to the Top
Back to Index

Zim Standard

Raw deal for Zanu PF women
By Foster Dongozi

ZANU PF women, who were promised heaven on earth before the Parliamentary
elections in March, must be feeling cheated after the ruling party used
promises of new measures towards "gender equality" in order to hoodwink them
into voting it back into power.

What some of the disillusioned women describe as "skulduggery," started just
before the ruling party's December Congress when Zanu PF used women's
empowerment as an excuse to sideline Emmerson Mnangagwa from the position of
vice president in favour of President Mugabe's preferred candidate, Joice
From then on, the ruling party went on a crusade, telling women that it
wanted to implement a 30 percent quota on all the senior positions and that
would include aspiring MPs.

The ruling party soon came unstuck as it became clear that meeting the 30
percent quota would present a spot of bother as many loyalists were anxious
to be accommodated on the gravy train.

Mugabe's relatives and some male politicians could not be sacrificed on the
rather inconvenient alter of women's emancipation, it emerged.

In Zvimba South, Mashonaland West province, 'Mai Sabina Mugabe' President
Mugabe's sister was not challenged in the primary elections.

In the same province, in Manyame constituency, Mugabe's nephew, Patrick
Zhuwao's opponent, Bybit Tsomondo 'withdrew from the primaries and "threw
her support" behind Zhuwao.

She did not explain why she withdrew from the race although her husband was
arrested at around the same time.

The President's other nephew, Leo Mugabe wrested Makonde constituency, which
had earlier on been earmarked for a female candidate.

Although Professor Jonathan Moyo had put a lot of resources in campaigning
for the Tsholotsho constituency, when he fell out of favour with the party
leadership, Tsholotsho was suddenly declared a women's constituency although
nobody had shown an interest in it.

In Rushinga constituency, Zanu PF ditched incumbent Member of Parliament
Lazarus Dokora after he was alleged to have attended the constroversil
Tsholotsho meeting which is accused of producing the so-called Tsholotsho

As a form of punishment, the constituency was offered to female candidates.

From the 30 female Zanu PF candidates who contested in the elections, 13
made it into Parliament but Mugabe's recently announced Cabinet is appears
not to embrace the women's empowerment agenda that his party preached before

Out of the 31 Cabinet ministers he appointed, only four are Cabinet

They are mainly known loyalists, Oppah Muchinguri, Sithembiso Nyoni, Flora
Buka and Olivia Muchena. Of the four, only Muchena heads an empowering
ministry; that of Science and Technology Development.

Muchinguri heads the women's affairs ministry, while Nyoni is in charge at
the Ministry of Small and Medium Enterprises whose major constituency are
cross border traders and vendors.

Buka is a Minister of State for Special Affairs Responsible for Land and
Resettlement Programme although the government says the resettlement
programme has been completed.

Out of the 20 deputy ministers appointed by Mugabe, only one is a woman,
Abigail Damasane, was predictably accommodated at the women's affairs
ministry. Damasane has over the years risen to prominence in the ruling
party for treating Zanu PF delegates to raunchy dances during high profile

When The Standard asked Mugabe if his cabinet reflected the desired female
quota, he implied the majority of female candidates who made it into
Parliament were not cabinet material, resulting in his appointing Nyoni to
ensure gender equality.

"Well, we tried but then we had to get people who come from the people. That
is why we had to appoint somebody who did not win (Nyoni)," Mugabe said.

The director of Women in Politics Support Unit (Wipsu), Tsitsi Matekaire,
said her organisation was not happy with the fewer number of female cabinet

Wipsu is an organisation that seeks to empower female politicians with
leadership skills.

"We are not happy that there are very few female Cabinet ministers in the
line-up that was announced recently despite earlier promises. Female Cabinet
ministers right now are those who were retained like Buka, Nyoni and
Muchena. While one deputy minister, Shuvai Mahofa was dropped and was
replaced by Damasane.

"At the same time, none of the powerful ministries like finance are being
run by women," said Matekaire.

Former legislator, Evelyn Masaiti, said the claim by Zanu PF that it wanted
to empower women was not true.

"That was just an election gimmick. The poor representation of women in
cabinet is an indication that Zanu PF does not have the interests of women
at heart. The fact that women were given ministries that are not vital to
the economy means that women are regarded as minors who cannot make wise
decisions," Masaiti said.

She warned women against being used in future.
Back to the Top
Back to Index

Zim Standard

Zvishavane sends urgent SOS as services collapse
By Richard Musazulwa

ZVISHAVANE - Service delivery in the mining town of Zvishavane in the
Midlands province has virtually collapsed and frequent water cuts, burst
pipes as well as raw sewerage flowing in open untarred roads have become a
common occurrence, The Standard has observed.

It has also become normal to see dozens of housewives carrying containers in
search of safe water for drinking, cooking and washing when the taps run
The local authority attributed the problem to the ageing pipes, installed
during the colonial era as well as increasing population levels.

The problems of water and sewerage disposal have put about 20 000 residents
of the small mining town at risk of communicable diseases.

Children, who usually play in the sewerage-swamped streets, are the most

Zvishavane Town Council vice chairman, Simon Dick, conceded that the mining
town was experiencing serious problems.

"Yes, we have been experiencing sewer bursts and water cuts problems for a
long time and the problem is that the structures in place cannot accommodate
the increasing population in the town," Dick said.

He said Mandava township, which was built to accommodate 4 000 residents,
was now catering for between 15 000 to 20 000 people.

Dick said the water reticulation system, which was put in place in 1979, was
too old. Some of the pipes were put in place in 1945, he said.

Dick said the council was scouting for funds to revamp the crumpling system
and purchase pipes of larger diameter.

Presently, the Zvishavane Town Council is in negotiations with Mimosa Mining
Company seeking funds to enable it to replace the ageing pipes.

"We are closely working with Mimosa Mining Company which has promised to
connect the town's sewer pipes to the mine's sewer reticulation which they
are constructing.

"We hope Mimosa's project will go along way in addressing sewer problems in
the town," Dick said. There was no immediate confirmation of the talks from

The town recently received a $1.5 billion grant for sewer and water
reticulation from the Ministry of Local Government and National Housing
under the Public Sector Investment Programme (PSIP).

Midlands Governor Cephas Msipa said the funds were not enough to address the
problems in the mining town.
Back to the Top
Back to Index

Zim Standard

Harare residents desperate uncollected refuse threatens to bury city
By Rutendo Mawere

DECOMPOSING refuse continues to pile up in most suburbs of Harare, because
refuse has not been collected for more than a month now, exposing residents
to serious health hazards.

A snap survey by The Standard last week established that rubbish had not
been collected for the past five weeks in most areas and residents were
dumping rubbish in water drains and any open areas.
Others have resorted to burning the refuse at home, resulting in the
emission of dangerous fumes.

Choking stench and swarms of flies greeted The Standard news crew when it
visited areas such as Mbare, Kambuzuma, Glen View, Kuwadzana and
Sunningdale. Other areas also affected include Glen Norah, Tafara, Mabvuku,
Southerton and Highfield.

A similar scenario was found in some of the low-density suburbs.

Residents complained that the council continued to charge for refuse
collection when it was not providing such a service.

Geshem Moyo of Kuwadzana said: "We are angry with the council for failing us
and robbing us of our hard-earned cash. Paying for services which are not
rendered is daylight robbery."

Another irate resident, Sibukeni Mpofu, of Mbare said the city council was
taking the ratepayers for granted.

"We are exposed to dangerous diseases by irresponsible authorities who,
despite not rendering the service as required, continue to bill us. The
uncollected rubbish is attracting not only flies but also rodents and emit
odours which are making our lives miserable," complained Moyo.

Mike Davies, chairperson of Combined Harare Residents' Association (CHRA)
said the problems being experienced were a result of poor local governance.

"Harare needs elected councillors who are appointed by the people and are
responsible to retain normalcy in the city," Davies said.

He said service delivery had worsened since the commission, headed by
Sekesai Makwavarara, took over the running of the council.

Davies said tenders for refuse collection were offered to companies
incapable of the job because they were politically inclined to the ruling
Zanu PF party.

"The privatisation of contractors led to tender offerings based on political
affiliation and saw the tender of refuse collection being awarded to
incompetent people," he said.

Companies contracted to collect refuse by the Harare City Council include
Broadway Services, Encore Consolidated Waste and Cleansing and Environment

" The problems Harare is facing are worsened by the fact that the commission
is not responsible to the public but accountable to Ignatious Chombo and to
the ruling party Zanu PF," said Davies adding that the problem affecting
Harare can only be solved if residents demand accountability from the city

Chombo is the Minister of Local Government, Public Works and National
Housing. He fired democratically elected former mayor of Harare, Elias
Mudzuri, over allegations of mismanagement.

Harare City Council spokesperson, Leslie Gwindi, last week confirmed that
refuse has not been collected for "sometime" in some parts of the city.

"The delay in refuse collection is due to the fact that some private
contractors we had engaged pulled out while others are unable to deliver the
service due to technical problems with their fleet," said Gwindi.

The council spokesperson said refuse collection was supposed to be carried
out once or twice a week.
Back to the Top
Back to Index


Zim to clamp down on price violators
††††††††† April 24 2005 at 01:47PM

††††† Harare - Zimbabwe will this week introduce tougher penalties for those
flouting state imposed price controls on basic commodities, launched in a
bid to snuff out a flourishing black market, a newspaper reported on Sunday.

††††† "The government will this week announce new approved prices of basic
commodities and will introduce stiffer penalties for manufacturers and
traders who charge above the legislated prices," the state-run Sunday Mail

††††† "We want to instill discipline in pricing," the newspaper quoted
retired colonel Christian Katsande, the permanent secretary in the trade
ministry, as saying.

††††† "In recent weeks we have had many people ticketed for flouting price
measures but this has not deterred these people from continuing the
practice," he said, referring to price ceilings instituted three years ago.

††††† Zimbabwe's economy has been on a downturn in the last five years
characterised by runaway inflation and perennial shortages of basic

††††† The situation has been blamed partly on controversial land reforms
that have compromised food production and the country's isolation from its
traditional trading partners in Europe following the 2002 presidential
elections which western observers charged were rigged.

††††† The government introduced price controls to fight a flourishing black
market for staples such as cornmeal, cooking oil and bread three years ago
and had instituted a fine of ZIM$1-million (about R1 000) for violators.

††††† Economist Daniel Ndlela however said stiffer punishments would not

††††† "These are short-term, stop-gap measures by the government which seems
to have no other solution," Ndlela told AFP.

††††† "The price controls will only work as a disservice to the
manufacturers who will stop producing or cut down on supplies and the
shortages will persist. Our biggest problem is inflation and unless the
government finds a solution to that, we will always have these other
problems," he said.
Back to the Top
Back to Index


††††† Zimbabwe restructures national airline

††††† 2005-04-24 16:11:58

††††††††† HARARE, April 24 (Xinhuanet) -- The Air Zimbabwe has started to
restructure the loss-making parastatal as part of its turnaround program, a
local newspaper the Sunday Mail reported.

††††††††† The axe will soon be falling on some under-performing employees
while an audit of the airlines operations has already started.

††††††††† The audit, which is being carried out with the assistance of the
Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe, seeks to assess the needs of the parastatal as
well as gearing it for a strategic partnership with some European and Asian

††††††††† The national carrier is reported to have already struck a
partnership deal with South African Airways (SAA).

††††††††† SAA chief executive Khaya Ngula was recently in Zimbabwe to hold
talks with the Air Zimbabwe management.

††††††††† The report said the restructuring exercise, which will see the
national airline unbundling into strategic business units, "has progressed
smoothly and is now moving to a stage where we should have the right people
in the right jobs."

††††††††† A human resources audit has been going on since the beginning of
the year and management has identified the areas which need attention and
these are going to be addressed as a matter of urgency, said the report.

††††††††† With such exercises some employees will have to be relieved of
their duties and additional skilled staff recruited.

††††††††† The national airline has been dogged by allegations of
incompetence and a high wage bill. Enditem

Back to the Top
Back to Index

Zim Online

MDC lambasts Mbeki's 'deception'
Mon 25 April 2005
† HARARE - In a decision that stunned both critics and supporters alike,
Zimbabwe's main opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party last
week cut communication with South African President Thabo Mbeki, his
government and ruling African National Congress (ANC) party. The MDC said it
took the decision because Mbeki was siding with President Robert Mugabe and
was generally dishonest in his handling of the Zimbabwe crisis.

††††† No doubt many will sympathise with the MDC given Mbeki's clearly
pro-Mugabe approach. But many will also question the wisdom of burning
bridges with the man designated by President George W Bush and other key
world leaders as the point-man on Zimbabwe.

††††† ZimOnline yesterday spoke to MDC secretary general Welshman Ncube to
find out how the party hopes to benefit from switching off on Mbeki and
about other related issues. Excerpts:

††††† QUESTION: The MDC has cut communication with South African President
Thabo Mbeki, his ruling ANC party and government, first what are the reasons
for this drastic action and secondly how will this move help your party's
diplomatic efforts to get the region and the international community at
large to help press for change in Zimbabwe?

††††† ANSWER: Yes we have cut ties with Mbeki and the ANC, who have not been
honest brokers in solving the Zimbabwe crisis. However, we have also taken a
position that ultimately the struggle for the re-democratisation of Zimbabwe
is essentially in Zimbabwe and (does not entirely depend) on our diplomatic

††††† It depends on how we mobilise the people. We believe the diplomatic
efforts should complement internal efforts. We are not enemies of Mbeki or
ANC, but their intention has been against the people of Zimbabwe and has
only helped delay the re-democratisation of Zimbabwe.

††††† Q: Can you be more specific on what Mbeki did that warrants the MDC to
react in this manner?

††††† A: Their mediation was based on deception because anyone who claims
that conditions for free and fair elections prevailed in Zimbabwe before the
(March 31) election is being deceptive.

††††† When newspapers are closed and obnoxious laws such as AIPPA and POSA
exist and a militia, which killed more than 500 people in (previous
elections in) 2000 and 20002 is still there, and food aid is used in
exchange for votes, to then say the election was free and fair is being

††††† We have lost confidence in the South Africans acting as mediators when
they are backing a particular horse in the competition. They are active
supporters who engaged in massive deception in support of ZANU PF. They
wanted to string us along for the purposes of entrenching ZANU PF

††††† In the last three years, they told us that elections should not be
held until conditions improved in Zimbabwe only to fold their hands as
Mugabe willy-nilly ran the show. But we still believe the struggle is in
Zimbabwe and not outside. The choice is for individual SADC countries to
support the Zimbabwean people's cause. But SA will come to terms with
reality that supporting a dictator is not in their best interests nor is it
in the interest of Zimbabwe and SADC.

††††† Q: So what next? You have cut ties with Mbeki, recognised by many as
the only leader in the region with enough clout to pressure Mugabe to
change, so can you tell us how the MDC will from now onwards mobilize
pressure on Mugabe to abandon dictatorship and open up political space? What
is the way or strategy going forward?

††††† A: There is a realisation that you cannot put one million Zimbabwean
people onto the streets to demonstrate. That will be adventurous and
dangerous. For instance after the riot in Harare soon after the election,
police arrested and tortured office bearers in almost every province on the
basis of a rumour that the MDC wanted to wage some kind of resistance.

††††† We need to regard this as a long struggle to subject Mugabe to accept
that his rule is not sustainable. We will not forewarn how we will do it. We
reserve the right to choose the manner and timing of the resistance.

††††† Q: What do you say to suggestions that your party emerged from the
election weaker than before?

††††† A: The MDC is organisationally and structurally stronger than ZANU PF
in strength and capacity. We have district executive committees, ward
committees and branches in every village in the rural areas and in every
street in towns. ZANU PF does not have nationwide structures and that is why
they abuse village heads, kraal heads and chiefs to make up for their
shortcomings in support base.

††††† We have become stronger in the last five years of relentless pressure,
beatings, arrests and torture. Our president, MPs, provincial and district
officials have been arrested at some point in the last five years. We have
been banned from having meetings, we have been asked to seek police
clearance which has been denied at times. But not withstanding all this, the
MDC has survived and performed well in elections.

††††† We achieved 41, seats 80 percent and 76 percent in Bulawayo and Harare
respectively, in the last parliamentary election when we could only meet our
supporters face to face on rallies with mass circulating newspapers such as
the Daily News closed. We held our own despite the relentless propaganda.
This cannot be achieved by a wish-wash party. Arm-chair critics had given us
only 10 seats in their election forecasts. We prevented him (Mugabe) from
getting an elected two-thirds majority.

††††† Q: With the benefit of hindsight, would you say participating in the
poll was a good idea?

††††† A: We now know how ZANU PF cheats in elections because we
participated. So on that basis I think it was a good idea. I think getting
out of the ring is strategically bankrupt because Mugabe does not mind about
mandate. He governs by coercion. It is an illusion to think that if you
stand out of the ring Mugabe will feel any contrition.

††††† Q: But why did the MDC decide to go to Parliament if the election was
as grossly flawed as you allege?

††††† A: Our struggle is about creating and occupying democratic space.

††††† Q: ZANU PF now has enough parliamentary majority to unilaterally
rewrite Zimbabwe's constitution in fact, the ruling party has already
indicated a number of key constitutional amendments it will bring to
Parliament - what is the MDC's position on the question of constitutional

††††† A: ZANU PF has no mandate to change the constitution since they failed
to achieve an elected two-thirds majority. Changing the constitution
unilaterally will only exacerbate political division in the country.

††††† Q: And what is your assessment of the prospects for economic recovery
under the current circumstances?

††††† A: The illusion of ZANU PF and South Africa is that they both think
ZANU PF can solve (economic) problems when they lack legitimacy. Mugabe
cannot (revive the economy). It will take a massive economic recovery
programme which we cannot do without huge international support. We need to
resolve the political crisis if we are to turn around the economy. -

Back to the Top
Back to Index

Zim Online

Plot to oust trade unionists crumbles
Mon 25 April 2005
† BULAWAYO - The Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) general council at
the weekend rejected a motion raised by some affiliate members to suspend
its president, secretary general and two other top leaders.

††††† The move effectively scuttles a plot believed to have been secretly
masterminded by the state spy Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO) in a
bid to remove the ZCTU top leadership and replace it with one that is
sympathetic to President Robert Mugabe and his government.

††††† ZCTU second vice-president Elias Mlotshwa told ZimOnline that four
council members proposed during a meeting here last Saturday that union
president, Lovemore Matombo, first vice-president Lucia Matibenga,
secretary-general Wellington Chibhebhe and senior official, Thabitha
Khumalo, be suspended because they were devoting more time to politics than
to the welfare of workers.

††††† But the council overwhelmingly voted against the motion, Mlotshwa
said. "The ZCTU general council overwhelmingly voted against the decision to
suspend the four leaders. Political interference is taking some centre stage
but failed dismally.

††††† "There are some few individuals, about four of them who wanted
Chibhebhe, Matombo, Matibenga and Khumalo suspended from their respective
posts but the general council outrightly rejected that," said Mlotshwa.

††††† The ZCTU, which gave birth to the main opposition Movement for
Democratic Change (MDC) party in 1999, is among the most powerful critics of
the government.

††††† The union has on several occasions in the past called mass work
stoppages across the country to protest against worsening economic hardships
it blames on Mugabe and his government's policies.

††††† ZimOnline earlier this year broke the story that the dreaded CIO was
working on ways to break the MDC/ZCTU link by engineering a leadership
change at the union that would see a new leadership team friendly to the
government taking over.

††††† Matombo and his team have also reported receiving threatening calls
from unknown people whom they said they believe could be linked to the CIO.

††††† Meanwhile, the police arrested and fined two youths who were part of a
rowdy group that gate-crashed into the ZCTU general council meeting,
assaulted the labour leaders and looted some snacks after the motion to
suspend the union's top leadership flopped.

††††† The youths believed to have been bussed in from Harare were allegedly
led by Langton Mugeji, a leader of one of the ZCTU affiliate unions, who has
been campaigning for the ouster of Matombo and his team. None of the union
leaders was seriously injured and the meeting proceeded after the brief
disruption. - ZimOnline

Back to the Top
Back to Index

Zim Online

Business expresses fears of Marburg outbreak at trade fair
Mon 25 April 2005
† BULAWAYO - Business leaders in Bulawayo have expressed fears of a Marburg
disease outbreak in the city due to Angolan nationals taking part at this
week's Zimbabwe International Trade Fair (ZITF).

††††† The business leaders yesterday urged the government to ensure the
Angolan nationals are free from the deadly Marburg fever disease currently
ravaging their country.

††††† The lethal and incurable Marburg hemorrhagic fever has so far claimed
239 lives in Angola.

††††† "Obviously we are worried about the disease, bearing in mind that it
is a deadly epidemic that has no cure. As a preventive measure, the
government should have left out Angola for this year's fair. I shudder to
think how it would be like if there was an outbreak here," said a
businessman who preferred anonymity.

††††† Another businessman said: "The government should carry out serious
screening by testing those who are coming to exhibit, or else we will be
plunged into turmoil if there is an outbreak."

††††† But Industry and Trade Minister, Obert Mpofu, yesterday dispelled the
concerns saying the health department was in full control of the situation
ahead of the fair which begins tomorrow.

††††† "The health ministry is in full charge and there is no need for alarm
whatsoever," Mpofu told ZimOnline.

††††† Zimbabwe's health delivery system is in shambles after years of
neglect due to shortages of foreign currency and general misgovernance.
There are fears that the country may fail to cope in the event of a serious
disease outbreak.

††††† This year's exhibition is being held under the theme: "Promoting
Economic Stability and Growth through Trade Development," and will feature
about 600 mainly local exhibitors.

††††† Most international exhibitors have shunned the fair in the past five
years citing Zimbabwe's economic and political instability. The country is
in a five-year economic recession blamed on President Robert Mugabe's

††††† Zimbabwe, regarded as a pariah state by the west due to its human
rights record, is rated among the worst investor destinations in the world
together with Afghanistan and war-torn Iraq. - ZimOnline

Back to the Top
Back to Index

Zim Online

Zimbabwe Olympic Committee suspends president
Mon 25 April 2005
† HARARE - Zimbabwe Olympic Committee (ZOC) yesterday suspended its
embattled president Paul Chingoka, at a stormy meeting in Harare yesterday.

††††† Chingoka was largely expected to be expelled from ZOC after the Sports
Commission suspended him from all tennis activity pending investigations
into alleged financial mismanagement while he was president of Tennis
Zimbabwe (TZ).

††††† But yesterday, the 31 member associations unanimously endorsed him for
a four-year term but after a lengthy debate, he was asked step aside for a
few weeks while investigations into the alleged theft of funds are being

††††† Basketball administrator, Admire Masenda and Judo official Brian
Warren have been tasked to act in the absence of Chingoka. But if he is
found guilty of the charges, Chingoka will be expelled for good.

††††† "What is clear is that Chingoka is still popular with the member
associations. But some felt that he had to be suspended pending the outcome
of investigations into allegations of financial embezzlement levelled
against him," said a source.

††††† "It's now up to the Sports Commission to speed up their investigations
so that Chingoka can resume his duties as president of ZOC," said the

††††† Chingoka was at the helm of tennis for 13 years until his election as
ZOC president last year. - ZimOnline

Back to the Top
Back to Index

New Zimbabwe

Time to look ahead to 2008

By Courage Shumba
Last updated: 04/25/2005 02:09:08
READING through the minds of many writers as spoken through their articles
published here, there is no doubt that for those not starving in Zimbabwe
their heads are aching somewhere away from home about the situation at home.

Another of the many worries is that the high hopes of making it in the
United Kingdom, South Africa, Botswana, America to mention but a few hosts
of famine migrants has had dissapointing dividends. Those dreams of a house,
a business and early retirement have been thwarted by the huge expenses
demanded by the cost of maintaining oneself in these countries. That
situaton leaves the Zimbabweans home and away chronically desperate.

What now...Robert Mugabe has refused to give Zimbabweans room to unite and
work out a national plan for development. He has retreated back into denial
and hostility, creating once again conditions for Zimbabwe's continued
isolation from international investment and multi- lateral economic

His answer is to entrust the country's economic money earner, land, with
ministers and their cousins that have no enthusiam nor the knowledge of
transforming idle land into a money earning industry. Not just that, but
Mugabe's cabinet shows very little interest in reviving the economy with its
ridiculous duplicity of ministerial roles. What, for example, is the need
for a ministry of finance and another of economic development in one
govrenment? Could it have been impossible for one of these to have been a
specialist department in another, if we really had to have it?

This trend of ministries created to create jobs for Zanu PF loyalists has
been one of ongoing presidential excesses and abuses of power and
priviledge. It has been used to reward partisan loyalties to the president
with taxpayers' resources which should have been more sensibly allocated to
needy areas of our economy. It is such corrupt conduct among many other
abuses as the NOCZIM scandal, VIP housing scandal, DRC diamonds scandal, one
man one farm principle violations, misuse of taxpayers money, corruption and
nepotism in the award of gorvenment tenders, theft of state assets and
derelection of duty that unite many of us behind any vehicle of change. It
is only a senile mind and one of shallow depth that would believe that
because we want a fair and just country in which public officials and
politicians are answerable for the way they handle public business, we are
agents of another gorvernment and not our conscience. Tony Blair, the
British Prime Minister, whatever his vision for, Africa, is not the reason
why we have unnecessary ministerial positions forming our cabinet nor did he
impose rigging elections and unfair electoral practice upon us. He may well
be surprised why governments like Zimbabwe's still treat their citizens in
so much the same brutal way they were treated by his colonial ancestors.

Mugabe's reign of terror has exposed his false commitment to our welfare.
This is not to surprise us because even in the war of liberation there were
some trained liberation fighters that forgot what the war was about and
turned their back on it to use the ammution they had and people's desire for
freedom as a stepping stone to loot from businesspeople, rape young women
and girls, plot and kill to settle long term family rivalries, vandalism
such as burning buses and closing schools and hospitals purely to one's own
enrichment or satisfaction. Whilst Mugabe and his handpicked few have
managed to educate their children at private and foreign schools many have
had to choose between their children who to give preferential treatment to
educate. His noisy ministers, like him, will deny this and anything true but
we have never raised these points to merely quarrel or annoy but to serve as
eye openers to a few people in power whose eyes are fast dissapearing in fat
whilst the rest of us painfully emaciate to mere skeletons.

Well the strategy I have always had is to now look ahead to the elections of
2008. We need to start now to gear for that election by becoming vigilant
and to call for the restructuring of those aspects of our electoral system
that skew the playing field unevenly in favour of Zanu PF. What is important
now is to review the strengths and weakness of the leadership of the
participating main opposition and to make it more appealing, more patriotic,
more home grown and to give it a revolutionary cut that cherishes the
sacrifice through which our independence and freedom to demand fair
elections came. It is time to give to the people, the electorate, a more
vigorous explained programme by which positive change will come.

It is time to fight in the courts bad laws that sabotage the prospect of an
election that is credible and acceptable to all, whatever the grief about
our land redistribution agenda in Zimbabwe may be. It is time to put in
place a deliverable package to pull Zimbabwe out its quigmire and to
campaign on this daily. We must now get into Zanu PF's rural strongholds and
explain what alternatives we can offer to 25 years of rhetoric. We must
never again threaten to boycott elections unless we have resolved that we
will not reverse the political gears in which we travel.

Infighting must come to an end. The organs of the MDC must now begin to show
to the electorate a readiness to use power responsibly once assumed. Ideas
of what they intend to do with our land, our roads, our schools, our
hospitals, our game parks, tertiary fees, our cities, our youth, rural
areas, our pensioners (the elderly), the handicapped, our tax regime, our
work force, and our media must be neatly spread to the rural youth and
elders that make 2008's voting electorate.

Campaigning is the only tool by which democracy will come to our country. If
we show the young electorate what they can be without Zanu PF hypocrisy,
then the election is won. I will be there when that happens. It will be
difficult for Zanu PF to indoctrinate a mind that will not settle for less .
Courage Shumba is a Human Rights activist and former Vice President of the
Student Union at the University of Zimbabwe. He is currently a Masters
Student and the London School of Business
Back to the Top
Back to Index


Class, Not Race, War Grips Zimbabwe
Tafi Murinzi

BULAWAYO, Apr 24 (IPS) - Blamed, along with the opposition party, for a lot
that has gone wrong in Zimbabwe, many among the white minority have packed
their bags and left.

Those remaining are learning to live like expatriates. Their heads almost
permanently down, they are careful to stay out of trouble: but not writer
John Eppel.

He was cautious in the early years of independence not to go beyond a
mockery of fellow whites. Now, however, even the current rulers are fair

''Seeing the bad behaviour of black Zimbabweans in power, my conclusion is
that the conflict arising is primarily class; race is only secondary,'' he

At 58, Eppel has been around a long time, as he is quick to point out. But
he says his recognition is fairly recent; ironically, and in large part, the
result of a weariness with Zimbabwe's dominant nationalist theme.

As part of post-colonial studies, 'marginal writers', who include whites,
women and radicals, are beginning to receive much attention.

Eppel feels nationalist authors, who had hogged the limelight since
independence from Britain in 1980, are running out of ideas like many of
neighbouring South Africa's apartheid-era writers.

And if that is true of Zimbabwe's major voices, that would be
understandable. If anything, the last three general elections, including
last month's, may point to a revolution gone wrong.

Intimidation, violence as well as allegations of electoral fraud by the
incumbent government, a former liberation movement, has made a mockery of
the struggle. Its main goal was extending the vote, and opportunity, to the
black majority.

Yet half the population is in need of food aid following a five-year-old
racially-charged land-reform programme. ''All of us as whites have suffered
the backlash of that hatred,'' Eppel says.

The economy continues to crumble. Over 70 percent are out of employment,
while a quarter of Zimbabwe's 13 million people have emigrated.

Looking back, Eppel says his happiest time was the bygone days soon after
independence. As a teacher in a private school, he observed the
racially-divided student body merging, slowly.

But this only lasted until 2000 when the turmoil surrounding the farms began
''and the whites became enemies again'' while each racial group started
''withdrawing into their tribe.''

Racial tension, which Eppel describes as colonialism that has yet to purge
out of Zimbabwe, has also proved a defining thing in his battle to get

Local publishers, he says, found him ''politically-incorrect'' because he is
white. But another reason, he admits, was his style. ''Satire isn't popular
and poetry even less popular and those are my two genres,'' he says.

It took the writer 14 years to get his first novel out in pre-independent
South Africa. The book, ''The Great North Road'', went on to win South
Africa's Mnet Prize in 1992. His first book of poetry, ''Spoils of War'',
published after 12 years of trying, had received South Africa's Ingrid
Jonker award a year earlier.

To date Eppel has published 10 books. One of them, ''The Giraffe Man'', was
recently translated into French. Yet despite such hard-won successes, he
enjoys no warm relationship with fellow writers in Zimbabwe. ''There's never
been any sense of come in with us, you're our contemporary,'' he says.

He feels marginalised, and is hurt by being made to feel less of a
Zimbabwean. But Eppel's writing reflects none of this frustration.

Vibrant and hilarious, his fiction tackles the present socio-economic
situation in the southern African state, albeit with tongue-in-cheek
liveliness. Most surprising, however, is his harshness towards white

''I have this double vision somehow,'' he says. ''There's a part of me that
needs to deal with that I was part of a white oppressing race. The other
part is I love this country, I feel rooted in this country and that part I
express in my poetry more.''

He describes his first book, which is also semi-biographical, as his most
vicious attack on the white community where he grew up in Colleen Bawn, a
cement plant in southern Zimbabwe.

In another, ''The Holy Innocents'', Eppel creates an assemblage of beer
drinking, loud-mouthed white characters. Most of them dress badly, drive
company cars although they do not actually do much work.

They are the quintessential 'Rhodies' - white Zimbabweans who carry the
colonial Rhodesian attitude. Ironically, Eppel says it is mainly the
liberal-minded whites, like the Jews, who have been the first to emigrate,
leaving the ''dyed in the wool racists who couldn't go anywhere else because
they didn't have the qualifications.''

But he says his focus has now changed. It is the ''emerging bad behaviour of
black Zimbabweans who're in power'' that he is mainly concerned with.

Now ''I attack anybody who's behaving badlyŗI don't consider race anymore. I
consider being Zimbabwean, being human. And if you're cruel, greedy,
hypocritical, self-righteous, I'll nail you if I can. It's the revenge of
the weak, the guy who uses his pen rather than his fist.''

Presently head of the English department at a boys-only private school,
Eppel says the satire does worry the white community, who respond with a
characteristic silence. Even then, many still buy his books, especially his
poetry which those who are emigrating find nostalgic.

Born in Lybdenburg, South Africa, Eppel moved to Zimbabwe at the age of
four. The cement plant and its social club, near West Nicholson in southern
Zimbabwe, is the setting for his short story ''The Caruso of Colleen Bawn''.

Also in his 2004 short story collection, going by the same name, is an
assortment of fables of various themes.

In a piece titled ''The Very High Ranking Soldier's Wife'', Eppel is at his
most cynical, describing the story's main character as being fussy about
hats. Her role model in this regard is the First Lady, who is described as
wearing hats than be converted into yachts should that need arise.
(Zimbabwe's First Lady is a reputed flamboyant dresser).

But Eppel says he is often misunderstood. Many black critics, he argues,
have dismissed him as a racist as in his novels he often uses rude words in
the local language. He also admits readers often find his language obscene
and issues too shocking, to the extent that he might have limited his

''The problem with satire is that you get conflated with your characters,''
he says. ''Because you have characters who use words like kaffir (a
derogatory term for blacks) or nanny, they think you are like that. But what
you're trying to do is purge yourself through this art-form of that kind of

Eppel will be launching another collection at the forthcoming Harare
International Festival of the Arts (HIFA). Titled ''Songs My Country Taught
Me'', this is a collection of 80 poems dating back 40 years from the time he
was 18.

The title, he fears might ''rub up'' some people the wrong way. ''They will
say, 'how dare a white say that it's his country'. That's very hurtful
because this is the only country I've got.''

Whites used to make up one percent of Zimbabwe's population at independence.
Now their number has dwindled to about 30,000 or less, thanks to migration
mainly to Britain and Australia.

Apart from South Africa, the dwindling members of the white communities in
the 13-nation Southern African Community Development (SADC) keep away from
politics for fear of infuriating black rulers. South Africa's whites make up
about 10 percent of the country's population. They are mainly descendants of
Dutch, French and English settlers who arrived in the late 17th century.

In Namibia, a handful of fearless whites like Gwen Lister, editor of the
'Namibian' newspaper, continue to highlight the plight of the poor and
minority. Whites account for about six percent of the country's population.

A sizeable population of whites also reside in Mozambique, Angola, Zambia,
Swaziland and Lesotho. (END/2005)
Back to the Top
Back to Index

The Telegraph

Time stands still for the men condemned to Mugabe's prisons
By Toby Harnden
(Filed: 24/04/2005)

Two Sunday Telegraph journalists were freed last week after 10 days in a
filthy Zimbabwean jail. But as Toby Harnden writes, the 103 men who shared
his cell could wait years for a trial

There are no clocks in Harare remand prison. Ask a prisoner the time and he
glances through the barred window and hazards a guess from the angle of the
sun. The sky turning cobalt blue to herald the approaching dawn is one point
of reference. Another is the clunk of the jail gate signalling the change of
the prison guard shift at 6am.

Moments later, what sounds like a spiritual starts up from cell B2. "Baba
vedu uri kudenga... Zita renyu ngarikudzwe novutswene." It is the Lord's
Prayer sung in Shona, Zimbabwe's main language. In B2, about two dozen of
the 105 prisoners jump up and start praying. Another day has begun.

For many of the 2,500 prisoners in the remand jail, where I was held with my
colleague Julian Simmonds for 10 days earlier this month, time stands still.
Zimbabwe's justice system is corrupt and crumbling and inmates can wait for
up to five years before a case comes to trial.

Many are unable to find even paltry amounts to meet bail or to pay fines. On
the prison bus one day, a youth called Lazarus, who has been convicted of
stealing barbed wire, opts to serve three months in prison because he can't
pay 40,000 Zimbabwean dollars - about £3.50.

"We are crying," says Moses, who is accused of murder and who, with his
friend Henry, has been appointed by the prisoners to look after the two
strange white men in their midst. "We have nothing, not even hope. The best
we can do is survive."

Like many inmates, Moses is accused of a terrible crime but has been forced
to wait years to hear the case against him. Just 21, he has been on remand
for nearly two years. His mother, who like her son was suspected of axing to
death the white couple they worked for, recently died in the neighbouring
women's jail; she was 45.

Moses's angelic face is covered with bumps and the whites of his eyes are
flecked with brown stains. Sores cluster around his knees and ankles where,
he says, he was beaten by police and leg irons broke the skin.

Disease is rife in the prison, which is so overcrowded that prisoners are
stacked against each other on the concrete floor as they sleep. At night the
cell looks like a deck full of galley slaves shifting with the waves.

Yet a surprising order prevails. A small group of inmates organises life for
the rest in a strange, self-imposed discipline. Each morning, the blankets
are piled neatly so the cell can be swept. Every inmate is allocated a
sleeping space - new arrivals arranged head to toe in the centre, while
those in for longer are given a little more room near the walls.

The day crawls by, tedium interrupted by roll call, queuing for food down
the stairways to the courtyard, and reading. There are Bibles and tracts by
L Ron Hubbard. For a few cigarettes we rent two books - The Best of Betjeman
and Anton Chekov's Plays and Stories. Below Betjeman's poem The Exile are
scrawled an inmate's questions to his girlfriend. "Do you still love me? Are
you ashamed of me? Do you believe I stole the car? Will you wait 10 years?"

Some have newspapers, though the prison censor cuts out any articles judged
unfit for inmates to read, including any criticism of President Robert
Mugabe. Some opt for boxing. "Dance, boxer, dance" screams a man nicknamed
Gudu (Shona for "baboon"), who is built like Mike Tyson. "Let's go, boxer.
Jab, jab, jab - killer punch". His partner aims his blows at flip-flops on
Gudu's fists.

After lock-down following 6pm roll call, a group from Matabeleland dances to
songs in the minority language, Ndebele. Several card schools play with
decks made artfully from cigarette packets.

Another favourite is chess. Earlier, in our police cell in Norton, a rural
area south of Harare, Julian and I had constructed a crude set, drawing the
grid on a sheet of paper, tearing out squares for pieces.

The prison sets are altogether more elaborate. Magnificent pieces have been
painstakingly fashioned from sadza - the maize substance that is Zimbabwe's
staple diet - and lavatory paper.

Embarrassingly, The Telegraph is humiliated by the Zimbabwean inmates. In my
first game, my mentor Henry destroys me in three dozen moves while other
inmates nod in approval, their Shona peppered with references to "the
Kasparov move".

The next game is even more humiliating. A man accused of rape with "Crazy
Sexy" tattoed on his forearm defeats me effortlessly in what is billed
"Europe versus Africa". I forfeit a cigarette. At 9pm, the cell becomes
quiet. It is story time. A big-time fraudster called Isaac paces up and down
relating a tale in Shona. We assume it is a traditional Zimbabwean yarn
until we hear English phrases such as "black-tinted windows" and "agent of
the FBI".

Isaac's tale is a rendition of the thriller, The Bourne Identity. His
repertoire also includes Predator and The Matrix: Reloaded.

After midnight, a few people smoke cannabis surreptitiously in the far
corner of the cell. Some obtain cocaine from crooked guards.

Our arrival offers business opportunities. Brian, one of the few political
prisoners, accused of being an opposition activist, tries to barter a dead
pigeon for a cigarette.

Others believe that they can curry favour with the guards by extracting
information from us. We are quizzed about our case and whether we were
working as journalists, the "crime" of which we are accused.

We are warned by Moses and Henry that Mugabe's feared Central Intelligence
Office has spies in the jail. Questions from John, an army sergeant, are a
little too pointed. Most suspicious of all is Shepherd, who seems to know we
work for "The Sunday Telegraph" and is always trying to glean more.

Charles, a cheerful Ndebele and another opposition activist, tells us to be
careful. A political prisoner died in the adjoining cell, he said, after he
was poisoned. Such is the desperation of some prisoners, we could be
murdered for a few packets of cigarettes.

Much to Julian's chagrin, Charles turns out to be a chronic masturbator. I
go to sleep each night with Charles' breath on my shoulder. On his other
side, Julian has to contend with an elbow nudging him rhythmically in the

Many inmates ask us to pay for legal advice or arrange UK visas. Barnabus,
who revels in having tried to kill his wife, wants to go to Britain. "I shot
her in the head joyously in front of the children," he said. He is confident
of bribing the prosecutor to drop the case against him.

Darling, a young gang member, is facing six counts of armed robbery. His
cocaine-fuelled crime sprees netted so many televisions and VCRs that he
stole three bull terriers and installed them as guard dogs. One of his
mistakes, he said, was to rob the Zimbabwean vice-president's house -
holding his wife at gunpoint.

There are a few celebrity prisoners. One is Christopher Kuruneri, Zimbabwe's
finance minister, who has been held without trial for a year on charges of
foreign currency fraud.

He has a few extra privileges, such as daily visits to the dispensary and an
electric razor. He is managing in jail, he explains, because he has to, just
like anyone else.

Moses nods. "Here we are all the same," he says. "We have nothing and we are
nothing. Pray for us all."
Back to the Top
Back to Index