The ZIMBABWE Situation
An extensive and up-to-date website containing news, views and links related to ZIMBABWE - a country in crisis
Return to INDEX page
Please note: You need to have 'Active content' enabled in your IE browser in order to see the index of articles on this webpage

Zimbabwe's desperate farm migrants

From BBC News, 27 April

Every day hundreds of Zimbabweans cross into South Africa desperate for
work, and many of them head for the farms near the border. The BBC News
website's Justin Pearce went to the border region to look at what awaits the

There is a new wall at the Musina police station. More than two metres high
and topped with barbed wire, it surrounds a small yard within the police
compound in South Africa's northernmost town. The wall is there to keep the
migrants in - about 100 pass through the facility each day, according to
station spokesman Inspector Jacques du Buisson. A leafy tree is all that
shades them in temperatures that regularly rise above 40C here in the
Limpopo valley. But they do not stay long. Several times a day, a large
white truck with mesh on the sides drives the Zimbabweans, 30 at a time, the
16km to the Beitbridge border post, and drops them off at a police station
across the Limpopo River in Zimbabwe. Inspector du Buisson confirms that
many of the deportees have already been deported previously, and are likely
to be back in South Africa sooner or later. "I don't think we can contain
the numbers - the numbers are so vast, and the area is so vast," Inspector
du Buisson says. Police do regular identity checks in the town, on the roads
and in the surrounding bush, stopping those who look suspicious, he says.
"You can often tell by the clothing or the bags they are carrying -
sometimes they have on three or four T-shirts at once, and that's all the
clothing they have."

Outside the holding area an Ethiopian Bible lay tattered in the dust,
apparently dropped by someone who had passed through recently. Aside from
the Zimbabweans, Inspector du Buisson says the station sees up to 10 people
of other nationalities each week. "We've found people from Egypt, Somalia,
the Democratic Republic of Congo, coming over from the Zimbabwean side." But
Zimbabweans are by far the biggest group. "I crossed in the forest two days
ago," said Blessings, 22, who was trying to hitch a ride from one of the
trucks that roared past on the road south from Musina, looking for "a job,
money and a good life". "I don't have the papers to work on the farms, and I
want to stay for six months." It is not hard to find where people like
Blessings crossed the river, usually late at night. Drive out of Musina and
along the Limpopo River, and the border defences look impenetrable: Three
parallel fences, each over three metres high and topped with barbed wire
coils, running along the river bank. But the fences come to a halt where the
Sand River, a usually dry tributary, joins the Limpopo. Beyond that, there
is a single rickety fence with a generous gap at the bottom where the tarred
road surface has been eroded away.

From there, some like Blessings will try to hitch a ride to the towns
further south, while others, like Justice, 23, will go in search of a job
with a nearby farmer who is prepared to get them a work permit after they
arrive. "Even if they give us peanuts we'd appreciate that," said Justice,
who despite having passed A Levels is now pruning fruit trees. He began the
job without knowing how much he would be paid - a practice that Shirhami
Shirinda of the Nkuzi Development Association says is common where non-South
African labourers are concerned. Mr Shirinda says there are clear reasons
why South African farmers are giving jobs to Zimbabweans rather than local
South Africans. "They want to exploit them and avoid the amendments to the
Labour Relations Act," he says. These changes brought South Africa's labour
legislation into line with the human rights provisions in South African
constitution, not all of which apply to non-citizens. "Those Zimbabweans, if
they were South Africans with the skills they have, they wouldn't be working
on farms." Peter Nicholson, a farmer in the region, says there is a shortage
of South African labourers in an area that was historically under-populated.
He says the Zimbabweans are protected by the same wage legislation as South
African citizens, but agrees that the migrants are willing to take what is
on offer. "The Zimbabweans are going to entry-level jobs because they are
prepared to. It's normal economics, an absolutely natural situation. What is
not natural is the political situation in Zimbabwe that is forcing them

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

20 Midlands farmers given 48 hours to vacate properties

From SW Radio Africa, 26 April

By Tererai Karimakwenda

Despite the government's current claim that it is serious about reviving
agriculture and developing a new land initiative, illegal evictions of white
commercial farmers have escalated in the last couple of weeks. Officials,
including the land and security minister Didymus Mutasa, have told the press
that the government is willing to take back under-utilised farms from blacks
who have not produced and return it to white farmers who can prove they have
the skills to feed the nation. The Commercial Farmers Union confirmed to us
they had submitted 200 applications from their members who want to
participate in this 'land deal.' But it's hard to take the government's
rhetoric seriously when pressure on the remaining white farmers to leave
their properties within days has intensified. 20 farmers in the midlands
were this week given 48 hours to vacate their farms and leave everything
behind. The farm workers have also been ordered to leave. Justice for
Agriculture (JAG), which represents the majority of evicted farmers, has
criticised the CFU for cooperating with the government on this new
initiative and pointed out serious flaws with the plan. Constitutional
Amendment #17 of last year dictates that all agricultural land now belongs
to the state. JAG's John Worsley Worswick explained that the farmers will
therefore not be given title deeds. This means they will not be able to get
capital for inputs like fertiliser and seeds. Worswick said the government
cannot even help to subsidise production because it is broke and has failed
to fund its own input programme. The maximum lease period allowed is
currently 10 years. Yet the government is promising CFU members that they
would eventually get 99 year leases. Worswick said farmers would be "insane"
to accept this government offer and JAG was advising their members not to.

Asked if he had any idea why the CFU was going along with it, Worswick said:
"We are under no illusions as to why this is happening. The CFU has been
around for 78 years and has done some great work gaining huge credibility.
We will need the CFU in the future to reconstruct our agricultural systems.
But the leadership is still on their farms and have politically been left
alone. Some individuals in the CFU have expanded their operations on the
back of this crisis acting as agents for the government. They have chosen to
go this lucrative route at the demise of their members." Worswick added that
CFU membership has been dwindling and there are approximately only 300-350
members left. CFU chairman Trevor Gifford told us last week they were
cooperating with the government because they want to help produce food and
foreign currency for the nation. He said they have a long history of
producing and have proved they have the skills. Asked why they should trust
the government after so many disappointments, Gifford said: "Nothing
ventured nothing gained." He added that he hoped the government would keep
its word. We will follow events in the midlands where 20 farmers have been
ordered to leave. The farm workers will immediately lose their jobs and will
have nowhere to go with their families. By accepting this illegal and cruel
treatment of farmers and their staff, the government is not giving any
reason why this new offer should be taken seriously.

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Zimbabwe hikes workers' pay amid protest threats


By Stella Mapenzauswa

HARARE, April 27 (Reuters) - Zimbabwe has raised salaries of civil servants
and military personnel by up to 300 percent, state media reported on
Thursday amid rising worries over possible protests by citizens hit by an
economic meltdown.

The move to expand the payroll budget is likely to provide fresh fuel for
Zimbabwe's galloping inflation, which at more than 900 percent is the
highest in the world.

"Government has seen it fit to bring about relief to all public servants to
ensure that they are able to meet their daily needs," the state-run Herald
quoted Mariyawanda Nzuwa, chairman of the Public Service Commission (PSC),
as saying.

The salary hikes, which will be valid for at least eight months, mean the
lowest grade government worker will now earn the equivalent of about $150
per month, while the lowest paid member of the security forces will gross
$272, Nzuwa said, without giving comparisons.

The Herald said teachers, long singled out among the most underpaid
government workers, would now get a minimum gross monthly salary equal to
$332. This would see the lowest-grade teacher taking home at least $272 a
month, up from $100.

"We would have wanted to do more, but that can have an unacceptable impact
on the programme of economic turnaround," Nzuwa told state radio. He and
other PSC officials were not immediately reachable for comment on Thursday.


The salary hikes follow huge increases in the prices for basic commodities
and services. Private doctors recently doubled their charges and this week
government hospital fees soared. On Thursday the Herald said water costs in
the capital Harare would go up by 10 times next month.

Local media have reported that Zimbabwe's security chiefs have urged
President Robert Mugabe to increase the salaries of the armed forces to
ensure their loyalty against protests threatened by the main opposition.

The Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) has vowed to press ahead with the
demonstrations, which Mugabe has said would be ruthlessly crushed.

Political and economic analysts say the protests could find support among a
broad range of Zimbabweans, who have seen the country's once thriving
economy collapse with breaking sewer systems, water and electricity cuts,
uncollected garbage and roads riddled with potholes.

Mugabe's critics blame the catastrophe largely on government policy,
including its move to seize white-owned farms to give to landless blacks -- 
a step which gutted the once-key commercial agriculture sector.

Mugabe, now 82 and in power since independence from Britain in 1980, denies
mismanaging the country and says Zimbabwe is the victim of domestic and
foreign enemies bent on thwarting his efforts to redress the inequities left
by colonialism.

($1 = 99,201 Zimbabwe dollars)

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Former Zimbabwe army chief wants frank assessments on food crisis

Zim Online

Fri 28 April 2006

      MASVINGO - Former Zimbabwe Defence Forces commander and a senator of
the ruling ZANU PF party Vitalis Zvinavashe on Thursday called for openness
about food shortages affecting the country.

      In a thinly veiled attack on President Robert Mugabe and his Cabinet
who in the past have claimed that the country had enough food when it did
not, Zvinavashe said: "We have to be open about the food situation. We have
heard people saying I have so many tonnes of food but if you go to the Grain
Marketing Board there is nothing."

      Zvinavashe was the top military commander of the ZDF, comprising
Zimbabwe's national army and air force. He retired in 2003 when the current
ZDF commander Constantine Chiwenga took over.

      The Zimbabwe government is sensitive and highly secretive on issues
regarding food security in the country. The Harare authorities, for example,
last week barred the Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) from making an
independent assessment of food requirements in the country which is again
expected to harvest less food this year.

      Mugabe and Agriculture Minister Joseph Made last year falsely said
Zimbabwe had a bumper harvest of maize, its staple food, in a bid to portray
the government's controversial land reforms as successful.

      The land reforms under which the government seized productive farms
from whites for redistribution to blacks are blamed for destabilising the
mainstay agricultural sector, causing a 60 percent drop in food production.

      Zimbabwe, once a regional breadbasket, has largely survived on food
handouts from international donor groups since the farm seizure programme
began six years ago.

      Zvinavashe, who is also a member of the ruling ZANU PF party's inner
politburo cabinet, said it was critical to be truthful and transparent about
the country's precarious food situation if the government is to be able to
plan and provide solutions to hunger.

      "If there is hunger lets make it clear so that the government will
plan properly. To be honest there has been hunger in the past agricultural
season. People have been starving," the retired general said.

      Zvinavashe's remarks are a clear sign there is no unanimity in the
government or ZANU PF over the food crisis that political analysts say is
pushing public anger against Mugabe and his Cabinet to dangerous levels. -

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Harare residents' body warns of fresh cholera outbreak

Zim Online

Fri 28 April 2006

      HARARE - The Combined Harare Residents Association (CHRA) has told a
parliamentary committee that the city could be hit by a fresh outbreak of
cholera and dysentery due to the deteriorating conditions in the capital.

      In submissions made to the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Local
Government, Public Works and Urban Development on Tuesday, CHRA chief
executive officer, Barnabas Mangodza said the "city was sitting on a
time-bomb" that could explode any minute.

      "Harare is a time bomb for cholera and dysentery outbreaks. The
experiences of yesteryear are a classical point," said Mangodza.

      The association warned that uncollected garbage and burst sewer pipes
in poor suburbs like Mbare and other suburbs in Harare, were posing serious
health hazards to residents.

      "Municipal sweepers dump refuse between blocks of flats in Mbare
attracting swarms of flies, increasing the chances of the residents'
contracting communicable diseases like cholera and dysentery.

      "Sewer bursts are almost everywhere with sewerage flowing from the top
floors down, posing serious health hazards to residents," Mangodza told the

      Harare is in a state of semi-decay after years of under-funding and
mismanagement. Burst sewer pipes and heaps of uncollected garbage because of
a severe six-year old fuel crisis, are now a common sight in Harare which
was once adored as one of the model cities in Africa in the early 1980s.

      Earlier this year, 14 people including some from Harare's poor suburbs
died of cholera with several others being hospitalised after suffering from
the disease. - ZimOnline

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

SADC states to plead Zimbabwe's case to IMF

Zim Online

Fri 28 April 2006

      HARARE - Southern African countries say they will push the
International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank to help Zimbabwe deal with
a six-year old economic crisis which is threatening to affect the rest of
the region.

      Speaking at the end of the IMF and World Bank Spring Meetings in New
York*, Botswana's Finance Minister Baledzi Gaolathe said Southern African
Development Community (SADC) countries must help mobilise resources to haul
Zimbabwe out of the economic crisis.

      "If any member within SADC has economic or whatever other problem, all
of us are affected, and therefore we have to work co-operatively to try to
solve those," Gaolothe said.

      "In this respect, we will be asking our international co-operating
partners to support Zimbabwe in its efforts to get out of the problems it is
confronting now," he said.

      The Botswana finance minister said SADC ministers will soon meet in
Windhoek, Namibia to help thrash out mechanisms to help Harare.

      "I think Zimbabwe was having a problem of arrears (with the IMF) which
they have now sorted out. It is our hope that in the coming months, the two
sides will make some progress because one of the hindrances to recovery for
Zimbabwe is a shortage of foreign exchange, balance of payments problems,
where IMF can play a major role," he said.

      Zimbabwe, battling a severe economic crisis since 1999 after the IMF
and the World Bank stopped balance-of-payment support to the country,
earlier this year averted expulsion from the IMF after it cleared its debts
to the Bretton Woods institution.

      The economic crisis worsened after Mugabe began violently seizing
white-owned farms for redistribution to landless blacks in 2000, disrupting
the key agriculture sector which was the country's biggest foreign currency
earner. - ZimOnline

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Government to tap cyberspace

[ This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations]

HARARE, 27 Apr 2006 (IRIN) - Media organisations and internet service
providers (ISPs) in Zimbabwe are up in arms about the government's planned
introduction of a bill to regulate cyber-communication in the "interests of
national security".

"It [the bill] was born out of a realisation that the internet has been used
to destroy the image of Zimbabwe, and that this was made possible by the
lack of regulation in cyber-communication," Deputy Information Minister
Bright Matonga, told IRIN.

The Interception of Communications Bill (ICB) seeks to empower the minister
of information to "issue an interception warrant to authorised persons where
there are reasonable grounds for him to believe that a serious offence is
committed or that there is a threat to safety or national security".

Apart from infuriating civil society organisations, who fear the bill paves
the way for government snooping of private email communications, the bill
has angered ISPs too. If the bill is passed into law, ISPs will have to pay
the costs of surveillance.

Section 3 of the proposed act states: "A telecommunication service provider
is required to install hardware and software to enable the interception of
communication." ISPs contend they cannot afford the required surveillance
equipment for state security agencies to monitor communications.

Matonga dismissed the ISPs complaints, warning: "Businesses that do not want
to accept their role in implementing this bill may as well pull out because
this is how they will operate once that bill becomes law."

As the government prepares to push the bill through parliament on Friday,
media houses, ISPs and civil society organisations said they were prepared
to take the government to court if it was passed.

"All stakeholders agree that we should begin now to fight the law being
proposed: first by engaging ZANU-PF [the ruling party] leading legislators
before it is signed into law. It is also imperative to petition President
Robert Mugabe. If it is passed, the last resort would be to fight it in
court," an ISP representative who preferred not to be identified said.

According to lawyer Chris Mhike, the proposed bill was unconstitutional and
infringed on basic freedoms, including the right to receive and impart ideas
free from interference as guaranteed by Section 20 of the constitution.

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Taking it to the streets

[ This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations]

HARARE, 27 Apr 2006 (IRIN) - The Zimbabwean government has announced hefty
salary increases for the security services, which some analysts claim is a
political decision ahead of a threatened civil disobedience campaign by the

The 200 percent salary rise for the army, police and prison services follows
a promise made by President Robert Mugabe last week during independence day
celebrations to review their pay. Teachers will also benefit from the

Political commentator Tendai Murambiwa alleged the salary hike was designed
to retain the support of the security forces. "Remember, MDC [Movement for
Democratic Change] president, Morgan Tsvangirai, only recently told the
armed forces that they were suffering like everybody else and needed to side
with the people," Murambiwa said.

Senior government officials and military officers have voiced concern over
the impact of Zimbabwe's economic crisis on the armed forces, with reports
of increased desertions, robberies, and soldier sent home because of a lack
of food in the barracks.

With the new increase a junior soldier will earn around US $270 - still way
below the poverty datum line of $350. In the past few days there have also
been hikes of more than 1,000 percent in hospital fees, electricity and
water tariffs, and school and university rates have also galloped upwards.

Rejuvinated Opposition

As the cost of living worsens, commentators suggest Tsvangirai's call for a
"short, sharp programme of action" to challenge the government through a
series of illegal street demonstrations has growing appeal in urban areas,
the traditional stronghold of the MDC before it split into two factions late
last year.

By comparison, barely two weeks after assuring South African President Thabo
Mbeki they were the future of opposition politics in Zimbabwe, the MDC
faction led by Arthur Mutambara is reeling from defections by senior

Mutambara's former allies said they had decided to quit following
"consultations" with grassroots supporters. Cynics contend the defections
have been triggered by the realisation the majority of MDC supporters have
remained loyal to Tsvangirai, the founding party president, and approve of
his more militant stance.

The MDC, which has weathered intense pressure by the ruling ZANU-PF since it
was formed in 1999, split over a decision by Tsvangirai to ignore a narrow
vote by party leaders to participate in senate elections.

Tsvangirai argued that the overall membership of the party were opposed to
participating in polls the MDC could not hope to win, given the alleged
unevenness of the playing field. The pro-senate faction responded that a
boycott would hand ZANU-PF victory even in parts of the country that were
opposition held, and in ignoring the decision by party leaders, Tsvangirai
had ditched democratic procedure.

The two factions confirmed the split when they held two separate congresses
at the beginning of this year. Tsvangirai, a former labour leader, was
retained as president by his faction, and since then has addressed large
crowds at rallies across the country promising to confront ZANU-PF with
popular protest to force it from power.

The pro-senate faction elected Mutambara, who boasts an impressive CV as
student leader turned respected academic, but he has seen his support slip
over the last few weeks. National chairman Gift Chimanikire and two MPs have
left his group to rejoin the senate boycotters.

"I think the internal squabbles in the MDC have actually rejuvenated the
opposition because Tsvangirai's popularity has been confirmed by the large
number of people that have been turning up at his rallies," said acting
secretary general of the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions, Collin Gwiyo, a
key Tsvangirai ally.

The government, however, has repeatedly warned that any unrest would be
dealt with ruthlessly by the police. "Organs of security are there to
maintain security and no sane government in this world will keep its
security organs in the camps while some mischievous elements destabilise the
country, even threatening to remove a democratically elected government by
force," State Security Minister Didymus Mutasa was quoted as saying this

Taking It To The Streets

The MDC's track record in organising civil disobedience campaigns has been a
dismal one. The party blames its failure on strict public order laws, and a
partisan police and army that have remained loyal to Mugabe. The last
significant protest action in 2003 - dubbed the "final push" - was a damp

"People have been thoroughly intimidated and frightened of what the regime
can do," commented political science lecturer John Mukumbe, a long-standing
critic of the government. However, he said a new element was public anger
over the yawning gap between salaries and prices.

Tsvangirai is "playing on the fact that people's suffering is much more
intense now; the system has basically collapsed, the cost of living is
unbearably high and people are getting desperate for change", alleged

Zimbabwe has been in recession for eight straight years. Unemployment is
close to 80 percent, inflation scaled 900 percent in March, and shortages of
food, foreign exchange and fuel have become a fact of life. The government
blames the hardships on western "sanctions" as punishment for its land
reform programme, which expropriated commercial farms and redistributed them
to new black farmers. Critics say it was wrong policies that created the

The economic pinch is being felt by government and opposition supporters
alike. "The situation is bad for everybody, including those in the MDC and
ZANU-PF, and the challenge is for all Zimbabweans, including civil society,
to embark on a national effort to bring about change," remarked political
analyst Heneri Dzinotyiwei, a lecturer at the University of Zimbabwe.

However, Mutasa has dismissed suggestions that security force personnel were
increasingly disillusioned, and could not be relied upon to crackdown on
protestors. He reportedly said: "Do you think disciplined forces like the
CIO [Central Intelligence Agency], the army and the police would not listen
to orders or let Tsvangirai have his way?"

Despite the hardships faced by Zimbabweans, Mukumbe said he did not believe
ZANU-PF would be swept away by street protests anytime soon. Its
leadership - which fought for the country's independence - has ruled for the
past 26 years through the ballot box, although the opposition insists its
election defeats have been due to rigging and intimidation.

No Date Set

"It's difficult to get 100,000 people on the streets of Harare [the
capital], it's a problem to even get 10,000," Mukumbe acknowledged.
"Zimbabweans need to be able to experience pain without flinching, and I
don't think we're there yet."

Tsvangirai told IRIN over the weekend that after addressing rallies in the
towns, his campaign would shift to rural areas. "The democratic resistance
will not be done in urban areas only. It will be in all the streets, the
townships and the villages, and that is our next port of call."

No date has been set for the start of the civil disobedience campaign. Few
civic organisations have publicly supported the call for action, but behind
the scenes there has been backing for a more robust challenge to a
government seen as weakened by the economic crisis and debate within ZANU-PF
over who will succeed Mugabe, 82, when he retires as expected in 2008.

Mukumbe believes that Tsvangirai cannot turn back after calling for mass
action, whatever turnout he manages to attract onto the streets. "He has
already distinguished himself from the other faction of the MDC by saying he
will take action against the dictator, and if he doesn't do it will be to
his discredit."

Secretary-general of the pro-senate faction, Welshman Ncube, said he was
doubtful that Tsvangirai would be at the forefront of any demonstrations, as
he has promised. "I wish them well but I doubt if any of them will lead from
the front. I have worked with them before ... I doubt if anything will take
place soon."

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Dissatisfaction, Dismay Greet Zimbabwe Public Sector Pay Hikes


By Carole Gombakomba
      27 April 2006

Though it vowed earlier this year not to raise civil service salaries, the
Zimbabwean government said yesterday it will increase public-sector wages by
up to 300%.

Public Service Commission Chairman Mariyawanda Nzuwa said the increase would
be the last for at eight months. The raise, which kicks in May 1, got mixed
reactions, with some representatives of public employees saying the increase
was too small.

Government Workers Association Executive Secretary Emmanuel Tichareva told
reporter Carole Gombakomba of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that public
workers remained the lowest paid in the the country despite the increase,
but said he hoped talks with the government would yield more money for his
25,000 members.

Zimbabwe Teachers Association CEO Peter Mabhande said his members were not
happy with gains of 150% to 175%. Mabhande said prices of goods and services
are soon going to rise as well, rendering the latest increment meaningless,
so his group also wants to bring the government back to the negotiating

Progressive Teachers Union President Takavafira Zhou said the pay increases
were insufficient to ensure his 12,000 members could meet basic living

Economists like Anthony Hawkins, a professor at the University of Zimbabwe
Graduate School of Management, expressed concern that the raises would stoke

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Zimbabwe's Government Says It Will Allow The Return Of White Farmers


      By Ashenafi Abedje
      Washington, DC
      27 April 2006

Zimbabwe's government says it is ready to allow the return of white farmers
who were driven off their farms under the land reform program.  The
announcement was made by agriculture minister Joseph Made.  He denies that
the new openness toward white farmers marks an about-face in the land reform
policy of president Robert Mugabe.  The policy has been blamed for the
downward spiral of the country's economy.  Fewer than 600 farmers remain on
their properties in Zimbabwe, once considered the breadbasket of southern

John Worswick is the chief executive officer of Justice for Agriculture - a
group that represents thousands of Zimbabwean farmers and farm workers.  In
an interview with English to Africa reporter Ashenafi Abedje, he reacted to
the government's latest announcement.  "We don't see this as a way forward,
as it espouses state ownership of land.  We realize that you cannot build a
new 99-year tenure system on the back of an existing seriously infringed
tenure system.

The government maintains it undertook the initial land reform measure to
redress the imbalances in land ownership inherited from the colonial era.
Worswick says neither the commercial farmers nor the farm workers disagree
with the need for land reform.   "Our bone of contention is how the policy
has been driven, with the government having failed to follow their own legal
process.  This has resulted in the destruction of production and an economic

Worswick says the government first needs to address outstanding issues
pertaining to dispossessed commercial farmers.  He says these include
compensation and damages owed to the evicted farmers.  "Beyond that," he
says, "our organization requires a return to the rule of law, an expansion
of the tenure system into the communal areas where there is a huge
restriction on production, all based on the individual ownership of land."
He says "this is the only way to free the people of Zimbabwe and empower

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

NGOs want to grill Mugabe, or else they will march

Daily Times, Malawi

11:13:03 - 27 April 2006

Civil society organisations on Monday put it point blank to President Bingu
wa Mutharika when they met that unless he grants them an opportunity to talk
to Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe, they would proceed with their planned

According to sources that attended the meeting, Mutharika warned the civil
society groups that he would hold them accountable for any eventualities
that may arise from the demonstrations.

Confirming the development, one of the top civil society figures Rafiq
Hajat, who is also Executive Director for Institute for Policy Interaction
(IPI) said in a spirit of give and take, the civil society demanded an
audience with Mugabe.

Hajat said State House is yet to communicate if such arrangement would be

He said Mutharika was concerned with the demonstrations, saying some people
with evil intentions may take advantage of the protests and hijack the whole
process and the end result would be chaos.

The IPI executive director said having understood Mutharika's concern in the
four-hour meeting, the civil society groups demanded that a meeting be
arranged with Mugabe once he visits the country so that they can grill him
on various issues happening in Zimbabwe.

"But we will see what to do if this arrangement fails," said Hajat.

Hajat observed that the civil society groups were divided into two on the

He explained that what Programme Manager for Church of Central African
Presbyterian (CCAP) Blantyre Synod Billy Mayaya told the press after they
met Mutharika were views of one section of the grouping.

Hajat said a good number of civil society groups were not aware that Mayaya
was holding a press briefing in one of the rooms at State House on the
matter where he told the media they have backtracked on their position to
oppose and demonstrate against Mugabe.

Mayaya, during the press briefing, described the NGOs' earlier stance to
oppose and demonstrate as a product of lack of information.

Last week, civil society organisations that included IPI, Civil Liberties
Committee, Centre for Human Rights and Rehabilitation, Active Youth for
Social Enhancement, Gender Support Programme and Church and Society
Programme (Blantyre Synod) during a press conference in Blantyre, warned
government of serious consequences should it go ahead with plans to invite
Mugabe and name Midima Road after him.

They also questioned Zimbabwe's human rights record and atrocities Mugabe
has committed in his country.

The group argued that it would be a mockery to name Midima road after such a

The NGOs wondered what Malawi was honouring Mugabe for.

They then vowed to do everything in their powers to protest against both the
visit and naming of the road after Mugabe.

However, after the meeting with Mutharika, Foreign Affairs and International
Security Minister Davis Katsonga said government had told the NGOs that it
was equally concerned as over 5.2 million Zimbabweans of Malawian origin are
also suffering.

Katsonga said as such, government would like to engage the political
hierarchy in Zimbabwe into discussions.

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Zim farmers threaten pull out


      27/04/2006 17:37 PM

      Harare - Angered by poor returns on their crops, Zimbabwe's struggling
tobacco farmers have threatened to stop production, the official Herald
newspaper reported on Thursday.
      The tobacco selling floors opened on Monday but farmers say the prices
they are getting are "uneconomic", the Herald reported.

      On Wednesday tobacco was selling for an average price of US$1.35 per
kilogramme. Farmers are paid in local Zimbabwe dollars at a controlled rate
of 99 000 to the greenback, around half what the US is fetching on the
lucrative parallel market.

      "The prices are ridiculous and the exchange rate is depressed and we
feel as if we are just doing a community service. We are no longer
interested," farmer Godwin Chigogora from the western farming district of
Karoi told the paper.

      Tobacco used to be Zimbabwe's main foreign currency earner but since
the launch of a controversial land redistribution programme in 2000,
production has plummeted.

      This year's tobacco crop is estimated to reach between 50 and 55
million kilogrammes, down from more than 200 million kilogrammes produced
six years ago.

      What has further annoyed some farmers is an apparent U-turn by the
Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ), which had promised a support price of
US$1.80 per kilogramme of tobacco earlier this year.

      "We believe we were sold a dummy so that we would bring our tobacco to
the floors," said one farmer who refused to be named.

      "Once we were here after packaging and carrying the tobacco all the
way to Harare, we are told a different story. RBZ knows that we can no
longer carry back our tobacco to our farms, so we are forced to sell and get
the little that is available," he added.

      A farmer from the prime tobacco growing district of Centenary in
northern Zimbabwe told the Herald that instead of tobacco "I would rather
start maize production or cotton next season." - Sapa-dpa p>/am

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Malawi: Katsonga Contradicts Mugabe

The Chronicle Newspaper (Lilongwe)

April 27, 2006
Posted to the web April 27, 2006

Dickson Kashoti

Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Davis Katsonga has
joined the international community in condemning Iran's uranium enrichment,
sharply contradicting Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe who hailed the
programme as a move in a right direction.

Mugabe, who will be visiting the country this Wednesday, told Iran's
ambassador to Zimbabwe recently that Iran should not be moved by threats
from the United States of America, Britain and other Western countries on
the uranium enrichment programme which can eventually lead to nuclear

Katsonga said: "Malawi is against the escalation of nuclear weapons in the
world. The president (Bingu wa Mutharika) recently visited Japan.

Whilst there, he visited Hiroshima where the first atomic bomb was dropped.
"He lamented lack of serious commitment by the World to reduce the amount of
nuclear weapons, especially in rich countries like America, Israel, Britain,
India, and Pakistan. There is no need for us to keep the weapons," said
Katsonga in an interview.

He however said there is no harm for a country to have uranium for energy,
saying but there should be laws that govern the uranium deposits.

On accusations that Mutharika has invited Mugabe who is accused of human
rights abuses in his own country, Katsonga said: "The President of Mainland
China is visiting America. This does not mean that America agrees with what
China does. We are not taking on board Zimbabwe's foreign policy and
Zimbabwe is not taking Malawi's foreign policy. "Zimbabwe has more Malawians
than any other country in the world.

Zimbabwe is Malawi's greatest trading partner. Geographically, socially,
economically, we cannot remove ourselves from Zimbabwe," says Katsonga in
reaction to reports that the civil society intends to stage demonstrations
against the Zimbabwe leader when he comes in this country this Wednesday.

He said Malawi should not be controlled by countries "with different
agenda." Katsonga cited an example of former head of state Kamuzu Banda's
visit to Britain in the 1990s when he was criticised of human rights abuses
in Malawi yet Queen Elizabeth warmly welcomed him. "On Zimbabwe, I am not
competent enough to comment on those allegations (of human rights abuses).
But we have huge interests in Zimbabwe which we want to protect," said

Mugabe is accused of human rights abuses in his country, with repressive
laws which critics says were formulated to oppress media freedom and the
opposition and Mugabe's critics.

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

People get the leadership they deserve

New Zimbabwe

By Dr Alex Magaisa
Last updated: 04/27/2006 22:12:04
IT IS often said that people get the leadership they deserve. This claim is
unlikely to be warmly received in Zimbabwe, where citizens in various
quarters would undoubtedly argue that they do not deserve the current
national leadership, which they would argue, has plunged the country into a
deep quagmire of misery. Efforts to extricate the country, if any, have so
far failed to yield any tangible result.

Nonetheless, on closer inspection of the attitude and reaction of citizens
to recent political developments in the opposition movement reveals that
such a claim could apply with equal force to the Zimbabwe situation. This
article argues that unless citizens exercise greater vigilance towards those
that claim positions of political authority the culture against which they
are fighting is set to continue and consequently they will have no person to
blame except themselves.

Citizens who willingly surrender their authority without setting and
protecting the rules and principles according to which that authority is
exercised deserve what they get when the leadership misbehaves. It is
arguable that Zimbabwe deserves the leadership that it presently has because
from the early years of independence, the citizens who constituted the
majority surrendered their authority to politicians and either actively or
passively consented to the monopolisation of democratic space and the
marginalisation of minorities. When they sought to reclaim it, the
politicians were too entrenched to give it back. Sadly, this time within the
realm of the MDC, we seem to be witnessing an encore of that song of the
1980s. In a case of having learned nothing and forgotten nothing, the
salient lessons of the early 1980s that formed the basis of the current
national plunge at the national level have not been heeded. A number of
issues arise in this context.

There is a potentially dangerous attitude that has emanated within the
opposition movement which is reflected both in sections of the leadership
and the citizens themselves. The MDC split in the wake of the November 2005
Senate elections has produced two factions - one led by Morgan Tsvangirai
and another by Prof. Arthur Mutambara. Going by recent media reports the
Morgan Tsvangirai faction appears to be attracting more people to its
rallies. If these attendances are taken to be indications of voter support,
then it would appear that the Tsvangirai faction presently stands in the

The primary point of concern arises in respect of the relationship between
the majority and the minority. Considering the opposition bloc on its own,
how better has it fared compared to ZANU PF in the way that the majority
reacts to and deals with minorities? This, at the very least might provide a
measure as to whether we have moved from the politics of old, the ideas,
culture and practices that have stifled democratic space over the years.

Basically, in a democracy it is of crucial concern how the majority relates
to the minority or simply, those holding different opinions. Democracy is
often simplistically defined in terms that privilege the majority with
rhetoric often laced with clichés such as "people's power", "majority rule",
etc. It often portrays a picture in which the minorities are non-existent.
They are obliterated and at best appear only on the penumbra. This is a
flawed and dangerous conception of democracy.

Minorities manifest in various forms - ethnic, racial, political opinion,
gender, etc. A single individual can belong to the minority on one issue
even though he may be in the majority on another. As such every individual
must be concerned with the plight of the minority because everyone is
potentially a minority. The way in which the leadership and the citizens
constituting the majority over any issue react toward the minorities that is
therefore significant.

The problem is that the leadership can be dismissive and contemptuous and in
some cases can even unleash violence against the minority. A responsible and
mature leadership should perhaps be more tolerant of a difference in
opinion. As many would recall, the 1980s were characterized by unnecessary
violence against those in the minority - defined along indices of ethnic and
political opinion. Those supportive of the likes of Muzorewa, Nkomo and a
host of other parties suffered at the hands of ZANU PF, which commanded a
huge majority. Lest we forget, in the 1980s ZANU PF and President Mugabe
attracted huge turnout figures at their rallies. But what did the citizens
in the majority do in the face of these violations against minorities?

The conduct and attitude of citizens in the majority matters because it is
conduit through they impliedly or expressly give authority to their
leadership that drives and gives comfort to that leadership to behave in a
particular manner. If the leadership abuses its popular mandate it is often
because it has the consent of the citizens in the majority. There are at
least two ways by which this consent is given: First, the citizens in the
majority can actively consent by encouraging their leadership to and
sometimes participate in bashing the minority. Second, they can give passive
consent by doing nothing in the face of abuse of the minority. In each case,
the majority shows intolerance toward the minority, which is unhealthy for
the development of a mature democratic culture.

These points are important in the context of the developments in the
opposition MDC party. It is good that people have their chance to exercise
their choice and follow their desires in relation to the two factions. The
part that raises concern is that which raises echoes from the past,
indicating intolerance towards members of the other faction who hold a
different opinion and presently appear to be in the minority. What is worse
though, is the tendency to bash any person who dares to make any critical
assertions against the leadership of the majority faction. We have forgotten
that the problem of leadership arrogance in ZANU PF is essentially a
creation of citizens who behaved in similar fashion in the early years of
independence - citizens who chose to become angry on behalf of the
leadership whenever anyone chose to make critical comments. When all
criticism is interpreted as unnecessary opposition, there is cause to worry
regarding the seriousness of the movement to avail democratic space.
Democractic space is not only for those who say, "Yes" but also for those
who challenge the dominant order.

There is also a worrying tendency to propagate exclusionary politics mainly
because of a deliberate choice to ignore the gravity of history of political
resistance in Zimbabwe. This is no more evident than in the choice by some
leaders of the MDC and analysts who claim legitimacy and positions of
superiority on the ground that they are founders of a struggle that began in
1999, when that party was formed. The idea of demarcating the commencement
of the struggle at that point is arguably to perpetuate the primacy of the
leadership that was installed at that time. Framing the parameters of
struggle in that way forms the basis of questioning for example any person
who was not part of that leadership. It is an argument that has been used to
challenge the claims of citizens like Professor Mutambara, leader of the
other faction of the MDC.

But to frame the struggle in that manner is as narrow and short sighted as
it is dishonest. It also brings echoes of ZANU PF approach to the liberation
struggle evident for example in the manner in which it selects national
heroes - that if you differed with the party at some point, then you are not
a hero of the struggle, regardless of your contributions in the general
struggle. Fast forward and picture a scenario where the MDC gains power at
some point and creates its own roll of honour - will those who have differed
be eligible on that roll? Will those, like Margaret Dongo who carried the
torch of resistance before the MDC be eligible or will it be argued that
they were not part of the struggle that "commenced" in 1999?

The fact is that the MDC did not start anything new - it simply resuscitated
and rejuvenated a spirit and process of resistance against abuse of power
that had been present all along. Long before the MDC and the current crop of
leadership, there had been others who kept the process of resistance going
and they too deserve a chance to be heard even outside the framework of the
dominant faction of the MDC. The fact that they may be in the minority does
not disable them from claiming democratic space. Indeed the ability of the
majority faction to accept and tolerate difference without descending into
the politics of old, would strengthen its credentials within and outside the

It is anticipated that there will be the usual voices that will argue that
this article unfairly criticizes the MDC faction enjoying popular support.
But that is exactly where the problem lies - our capitulation to what
appears to be popular opinion and failure to understand and appreciate the
value of critical opinion. This article is simply a cautionary note to the
effect that unless citizens are careful, by their passive or active consent
they risk creating a similar regime and culture akin to that from which they
are seeking to escape. If they do not take heed, they will deserve what they
get and the will have very little cause for complaint. The beauty of
democracy lies in the fact that while you may be in the majority on one
issue, there is always a chance that you may occupy the minority position on
another point. As such, it is always vital to ensure that there are
safeguards that protect minorities against the tyranny of the majority.
Those safeguards are as much in constitutions as in the manner in which
citizens and leaders react and behave towards each other.

Finally, there are lessons to be learned from the sweet science - boxing.
After twelve rounds of pulverizing each other, the victor and vanquished
often embrace. The victor will often show respect for the vanquished
describing him as "a brave man, a fighter, a true warrior". The vanquished
will congratulate his tormentor, even though he might grumble about this and
that. He will probably ask for a rematch. Everyone else has something to say
but only those two men know what it was like in the ring and for that reason
they respect each other. They salute bravery. They know too that at any
moment it could have gone the other way. Maybe it is why so often the victor
shows magnanimity in victory. Perhaps those in the political ring might
learn one or two things from old game - Respect toward each other. And
perhaps too - that anything can happen and dominating the initial rounds is
no guarantee of success after the twelve.

Dr Magaisa is a lawyer and can be contacted at

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Zimbabwe central bank hikes interest rates

Business in Africa

Posted Thu, 27 Apr 2006

Harare - The Central Bank in Zimbabwe on Wednesday again hiked interest
rates as it continued its unsuccessful battle against raging inflation,
which is rapidly approaching 1 000 percent.

Interest on unsecured borrowing went up from 785 percent to 850 percent, and
secured borrowing from 750 percent to 800 percent.

The last interest hike was last month, and the bank said the latest increase
was in response to new inflation data which showed that inflation had gone
up to 913.6 percent in March.

The bank is making borrowing expensive in an attempt to stifle speculative
activities, such as currency trading, importation of luxuries, which it
blames for fuelling inflation.

The bank hopes that manipulating interest rates would help to contain
inflationary pressures. -panapress

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

EU top official meets Zimbabwe finmin despite sanctions


      Thu Apr 27, 2006 10:49 AM GMT

By Ingrid Melander

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - A senior European Union official sparked controversy by
meeting Zimbabwe's finance minister in Brussels on Wednesday despite EU
sanctions on the African country.

EU Aid and Development Commissioner Louis Michel met Herbert Murerwa just
three months after the bloc extended for another year a series of measures
against Harare, including an arms embargo and travel ban on its officials.

The 25-member bloc accuses Zimbabwean officials of violating human rights,
freedom of speech and freedom of assembly.

Belgium has granted Murerwa a visa to attend a meeting of ministers from
Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific on Thursday and Friday in Brussels.

Some EU diplomats said that although granting the minister a visa for a
conference was allowed under the terms of the EU sanctions, holding an
official meeting with him was not.

"A number of (EU) member states have said that this is not in line with the
EU policy," a Swedish diplomat told Reuters, adding that they were concerned
that the European Commission was applying a policy different from that of
the EU countries.

Another EU diplomat also said it was clearly against the EU's position.

A spokesman for Michel, a Belgian, said the meeting did not signal a change
of policy.

"The EU's position has not changed and will not change until Zimbabwe
changes its policies ... the meeting was aimed at helping Zimbabwe move in
the right direction," he said.

The EU sanctions were initially triggered in 2002 by Zimbabwe's land
redistribution plan, which confiscated white-owned commercial farms, and
President Robert Mugabe's disputed re-election.

Since then, EU aid to Zimbabwe has been suspended, except for health and
education projects, to which 70 million euros were allocated last year,
Michel's spokesman said.

Mugabe and more than 100 ministers and officials are targeted by EU visa
bans and asset freezes.

Plans for an EU-Africa Summit have been postponed since 2003 because Britain
and several other EU countries refused to attend if Mugabe was invited.

Zimbabwe is mired in a deepening economic crisis, with shortages of foreign
exchange, fuel and food, the world's highest inflation rate at over 900
percent and 70 percent unemployment.

Critics say the land seizures have cut Zimbabwe's commercial agriculture by
40 percent. White farmers said last week they had been invited to apply for
land, a move that could mark a shift by the government, which had vowed not
to return seized farms.

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Zim records highest number of orphans

Daily Mirror, Zimbabwe

The Daily Mirror Reporter
issue date :2006-Apr-28

ZIMBABWE is one of the five countries in the world with the highest
proportion of orphaned children, a report has said.

 The report was published recently by the National Institute of Health
Research in the Ministry of Health and Child Welfare, WK Kellogg Foundation,
Biomedical Research and Training Institute and the Human Sciences Research
According to the report, estimates made by UNAIDS in 2002 suggested that 17
to 18 percent of all children under the age of 15 lost one or both parents
in Zimbabwe, Zambia, Malawi, Lesotho and Rwanda.
"In Zimbabwe, this amounts to just over one million orphans, out of a child
population of around 5,8 million in a total population of 12 million," the
report read.
The report noted that in Zimbabwe, national policies and laws establishing
the legal infrastructure for the co-ordination of orphans and other
vulnerable children programmes and services had not been implemented because
of lack of financial, material and human resources.
"Anecdotal evidence shows that due to the lack of full policy implementation
protecting children's rights, orphaned and other vulnerable children service
providers report an alarming increase in cases of child abuse.
"Furthermore, the widespread lack of birth certificates prevents children
from accessing basic services and rights and children, particularly orphaned
and other vulnerable children, lack the ability to participate in decisions
that affect their lives," the report added.
The report said there was lack of children's participation in legal and
policy issues.
"The extent of the orphan problem and the new phenomenon of households
headed by children and grandparents was not anticipated when the laws were
framed, and therefore gaps and contradictions are evident," it said.
Legal issues pertinent to children in Zimbabwe are subject to interpretation
according to a dual legal system, comprising customary law and codified,
general law found in the constitution and statutes.
The existence of these two systems could result in situations where one
system can pre-empt or contradict the other.
Moreover, existing legislation aimed at protecting children against abuse is
often fragmented, generally requiring access to legal advocacy to ensure
that the law is carried out in favour of the child.
The economic problems currently bedeviling the country have worsened the
plight of children in general and the life expectancy has dropped from 61
years in 1990 to 43 years in 2003.

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Public hospitals turn away corpses

Daily Mirror, Zimbabwe

The Daily Mirror Reporter
issue date :2006-Apr-28

PUBLIC hospitals in Harare and Chitungwiza this week said they will not
accommodate bodies of people who would have died elsewhere in their
mortuaries because they do not have the capacity to cope with mortalities
outside their institutions.

 This comes as a blow to many people in the low income bracket who resorted
to public hospitals mortuaries because they were cheaper compared to funeral
parlours that charge an average of $7,5 million a day to accommodate a body,
while the former cost $1 million.
In an interview with The Daily Mirror yesterday, the chief executive officer
of Parirenyatwa Group of Hospitals, Thomas Zigora, said the mortuary at the
hospital had a capacity to accommodate 52 bodies and hence cannot
accommodate corpses from outside the hospital.
"At the moment we are not able to extend our hospital mortuary and until we
do so we are unable to accommodate corpses from outside our premises.
"Our hospital accommodates 700 admitted patients and with a mortuary that
can only accommodate 52 bodies there is no way we can accept bodies from
"Our mortuary is not just big enough and that's why we have asked people
through the press to quickly come and collect their relatives' bodies,"
Zigora said.
Zigora added that the problem of refusing to accommodate bodies of people by
hospitals was a national issue that needed to be addressed by the
responsible authorities.
The chief executive officer of Chitungwiza hospital, Obadiah Moyo,
encouraged people to use the services of funeral parlours, as the hospital's
mortuary was too small.
"The problem we are facing is that firms engaged by the Ministry of Public
Service Labour and Social Welfare to do pauper burials are taking long to
bury the bodies and this leads to congestion of our mortuary which only has
the capacity to accommodate 30 bodies.
"We encourage people to use
private parlours rather than come to us," Moyo said.
He added that in cases of desperation they could only accommodate corpses if
there is verification from the police.

Back to the Top
Back to Index