Thu 3 Apr 2008, 18:45 GMT
(Adds comment from hotel employee, witness account)
HARARE, April 3 (Reuters) - Zimbabean police on Thursday arrested two
foreign journalists at a Harare hotel for covering the country's election
without accreditation, police said.
"I can confirm that we have arrested two reporters at York Lodge for
practising without accreditation," said police spokesman Wayne Bvudzijena,
who added the police would identify them on Friday.
Witnesses said that armed riot police and what appeared to be state
intelligence agents were at the hotel.
An employee at the hotel told Reuters by telephone:
"There are just ordinary policemen, some in plain clothes. Some of them are
armed." (Reporting by Nelson Banya, Editing by Matthew Jones)
Apr 3, 3:23 PM EDT
HARARE, Zimbabwe (AP) -- Police raided opposition party offices late
Thursday in what a top party official called the start of a government
crackdown in the wake of Zimbabwe's elections.
Officers raided and ransacked several rooms at a downtown hotel used by the
Movement for Democratic Change, party secretary-general Tendai Biti told The
Associated Press, calling it the beginning of a "crackdown" on the
opposition. No one was arrested.
Paramilitary police in riot gear also surrounded a hotel used by foreign
journalists in Harare and took away three or four reporters late Thursday,
according to a man who answered the phone there.
The opposition claims it won Saturday's presidential race outright. While
the election commission has issued results for the parliamentary races held
alongside the presidential race, it has yet to release any presidential
Monsters and Critics
Apr 3, 2008, 18:12 GMT
Harare - Several journalists, including an American journalist, have been
detained in Zimbabwe during a police search for journalists covering the
country's elections without accreditation, media and diplomatic sources told
Deutsche Presse-Agentur dpa.
The York Lodge, a hotel popular with Western journalists, was raised
Thursday evening by police, the hotel confirmed.
The raid was still ongoing, a receptionist told dpa by telephone. Police
also searched the Meikles, a hotel popular with Western travellers,
journalists said. The police reportedly said they were 'looking for
It was not clear whether the journalists detained were accredited to cover
last Saturday's presidential, parliamentary and local elections.
Zimbabwe's government refused accreditation to most Western journalists,
accusing Western countries that had been banned from sending election
monitors to the elections, of using journalists as their eyes and ears.
Before the elections the government threatened journalists who slipped into
the country unaccredited with arrest and deportation.
HARARE (AFP)--The announcement of results of elections to the Zimbabwean
senate, the largely ceremonial upper house of parliament, have been
postponed indefinitely, the electoral commission announced Thursday.
"The results have been delayed because of logistical problems encountered in
some areas," deputy chief elections officer Utoile Silaigwana said in an
announcement on state television.
"The commission is once again appealing to the nation as the verification of
senatorial election results is still under way."
The delay to the results for the 60-member senate, which had been expected
on Thursday, comes after heavy criticism over a hold-up in announcing the
outcome to the presidential election, which was also held on Saturday.
(END) Dow Jones Newswires
New York Times
By GRAHAM BOWLEY
Published: April 4, 2008
Despite losing control of Parliament, President Robert G. Mugabe of Zimbabwe
and his party were increasingly explicit on Thursday about their willingness
to continue fighting for the presidency.
After days of public reticence about the party’s intentions in the wake of
Saturday’s elections, Bright Matonga, a deputy information minister for Mr.
Mugabe, indicated that the president was not prepared to step aside and
would compete in a second round of voting if results showed that neither
candidate had won a majority in the first round.
“ZANU-PF is ready for a runoff,” Mr. Matonga told Agence France-Presse. “We
are ready for a resulting victory.”
The Zimbabwe election commission has yet to announce results of the
presidential race, but it has confirmed that Mr. Mugabe and his party, known
as ZANU-PF, lost control of Parliament — a huge setback in a nation where
Mr. Mugabe has long dominated virtually all levers of power.
The main opposition party, led by Morgan Tsvangirai, has announced its own
final tally in the presidential race, proclaiming victory with 50.3 percent
of the vote to Mr. Mugabe’s 43.8 percent, just barely enough to avoid a
Zimbabwe now waits to see if the official count matches the opposition’s,
knowing it would not require a very heavy thumb on the scale to force
another round of voting three weeks from now.
There have already been signs that Mr. Mugabe would endorse a second vote,
which, while not as humiliating as an outright defeat, would still seem a
difficult pill for a man who has held power for so long and considers
himself the father of the nation. Wednesday morning’s edition of The Herald,
the state-run newspaper, reported that “the pattern of results” shows that
no candidates “will garner more than 50 percent of the vote, forcing a
The newspaper, considered a mouthpiece for Mr. Mugabe, published no actual
election totals from Saturday’s vote and attributed its conclusion to
analysts. But it probably means that governing party insiders have urged the
president not to give up his — and their — power, either persuading Mr.
Mugabe to keep on fighting or at least to maintain the option.
A businessman with close connections to the party hierarchy, speaking on the
condition of anonymity, said Mr. Mugabe had met Tuesday evening first with
the chiefs of military and intelligence and then with top members of his
cabinet and the party presidium.
“They urged him to go to the bush,” the businessman said, meaning that in a
runoff the party would employ tactics of intimidation and bloodshed that had
worked well in earlier campaigns, especially in rural areas that could be
closed off to opposition candidates.
President Mugabe was said to hesitate. Once lauded as a liberator and
statesman, he became a ruthless autocrat, to be forever remembered for
murderous campaigns against his enemies and an ill-conceived takeover of
white-owned farmland that ended up wrecking the economy.
He feels a strong sense of rejection in the election results, and a part of
him wants to concede, according to the businessman’s account. Still, he
said, Mr. Mugabe was urged to continue — though how serious these plans were
could not be independently verified.
Mr. Matonga, the deputy information minister, said the ruling party had “let
the president down” in the initial election. “In terms of strategy, we only
applied 25 percent of our energy into this campaign,” he told Agence
France-Presse. The runoff “is when we are going to unleash the other 75
percent that we did not apply in the first case.”
If a runoff occurs, the opposition said it also is ready, according to the
party’s secretary general, Tendai Biti. “We’ll accept with protest, but it
is only a delay of the inevitable,” he said.
He predicted that the president would lose the rerun by “an embarrassing
margin” and suggested that Mr. Mugabe withdraw with grace.
Mr. Biti also demanded that the election commission finish its count of the
voting for president, implying that something suspicious was in the works.
“There is a vacuum, and in a vacuum all sorts of mischief fills in,” he
said. “Harare is bubbling with conspiracies and counterconspiracies.”
Mr. Biti said the election commission’s tallies for Parliament by and large
coincided with his party’s, because each side was working off numbers that
were posted at every polling station. The exception, he said, was the
province of Mashonaland Central, where there were discrepancies.
The delay in publishing the results has brought international criticism. In
Romania, where President Bush is attending a meeting of NATO leaders, a
White House spokesman said Wednesday that the administration supported calls
for Mr. Mugabe to accept the results of the election, suggesting that he
should step aside, though stopping short of calling on him to do so.
“It’s clear the people of Zimbabwe have voted for change,” said the
spokesman, Gordon D. Johndroe.
The mood among the opposition is buoyant. The results showed that it had won
several seats in rural areas where President Mugabe had previously been
Patrick Chitaka won a Senate seat in rural Nyanga-Mutasa in Manicaland
Province. “We’ll wipe Mugabe out,” he said at the prospect of a runoff.
“People are tired of being poor, and now that they know the bully can be
thrashed they’ll come out in greater numbers than before. Even the oldest
people with canes will come.
“In 2000 and 2002, Mugabe had taken land from white people and could dangle
that issue,” he added. “But now we have seen that he has not only destroyed
commercial agriculture, but subsistence farming. The only people who
profited were bigwigs who looted.”
But a runoff, if it comes to that, would also create difficulties for the
opposition. Civic groups and Mr. Tsvangirai’s party both deployed thousands
of election observers around the country, guarding against chicanery at the
polls and making sure that the votes were counted openly and the tallies
were posted in public view. It may be hard to recreate that effort,
especially in an economically devastated nation where a huge deployment
requires the use of scarce gasoline, and the cellphone system is
Then, too, the prelude to Saturday’s election was relatively free of the
violence that characterized so many earlier campaigns. With his back to the
wall, and with the support of military and police leaders, Mr. Mugabe may
well unleash his desperation as rage, many here worry.
“A lot of areas that traditionally voted for Mugabe this time went for
Tsvangirai, and there will be recriminations against those people,” said
Useni Sibanda, the national coordinator for the Zimbabwe Christian Alliance.
If a runoff is set, the alliance plans to send delegations this week to
South Africa, Zambia and Tanzania to ask the presidents of those countries
to implore Mr. Mugabe to resign — or at the very least to send observers to
monitor the election, Mr. Sibanda said.
From correspondents in Harare
April 04, 2008 05:01am
Article from: Agence France-Presse
THE politburo of Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe's ruling ZANU-PF party
is to meet tomorrow to map out a strategy following weekend general
elections, senior party sources said.
"The politburo will meet tomorrow to discuss the election outcome and
explore what went wrong," one senior party official said.
"All I can confirm is there is a politburo meeting. That's enough, that's
all I can say at the moment," said Didymus Mutasa, ZANU-PF secretary for
Another source, who is a member of the party's most senior organ, confirmed:
"Yes we are meeting, it's a scheduled meeting but it's very important one."
No results have emerged from last Sunday's presidential election, but the
electoral commission said Mr Mugabe's ruling ZANU-PF had lost control of
parliament for the first time in nearly three decades.
The opposition Movement for Democratic Change said its tallies showed Mr
Mugabe had also lost the presidential vote and said he should concede
The ruling party is believed to have been debating whether Mr Mugabe should
stand in a possible run-off against opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai.
PRETORIA (AFP)--South African President Thabo Mbeki urged all sides Thursday
to accept the official results of the Zimbabwean general election in his
first reaction to the weekend polls.
"Hopefully everybody will accept these results," Mbeki told reporters in the
capital Pretoria after talks with Congo President Joseph Kabila.
"If indeed (Zimbabwean opposition leader Morgan) Tsvangirai has been elected
( in the first round) that's fine and if there is a run-off that's fine.
That is a matter we must await."
Mbeki was the chief mediator between Zimbabwe's governing ZANU-PF party of
President Robert Mugabe and Tsvangirai's opposition Movement for Democratic
Change in the build-up to the elections.
The South African leader also revealed he held a brief phone conversation
Tuesday night with Tsvangirai, whose party has already published figures
giving their man a big enough victory over Mugabe to negate the need for a
"He told me that in the event that the ZEC (Zimbabwe electoral commission)
comes up with different results (than the MDC's) they were ready for a
second round or a run-off so we await," said Mbeki.
While Mbeki has pointed to the holding of elections as proof of his
mediation's success, the MDC claims it was a failure and Tsvangirai has
called for the South African to show a "little courage" in his dealings with
(END) Dow Jones Newswires
By Brian Latham and Antony Sguazzin
April 3 (Bloomberg) -- Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe's advisers and
family are split over whether he should quit or compete in a runoff election
to continue his 28-year reign, two top members of his party said.
Five days after a strong opposition showing in the March 29 election, Mugabe
is talking with security officials, family members and personal advisers
about how to respond, said two politburo officials from the ruling Zimbabwe
African National Union-Patriotic Front. They declined to be identified.
Military chief Constantine Chiwenga and Commissioner General of Police
Augustine Chihuri are urging Mugabe to fight a runoff because they are
concerned that an opposition-run government may charge security officials
with human rights abuses and corruption, the politburo members said.
Central Intelligence Organization Director Happyton Bonyongwe, family
members and personal aides are urging Mugabe to resign, the party officials
said. Workers at the CIO declined to put Bloomberg calls through to
Bonyongwe. No one answered the phone at police headquarters and a person who
answered the phone at army headquarters wouldn't transfer the call to
``There has been factional fighting within Zanu-PF for a long time and I see
no reason why that would have stopped,'' Brian Raftopoulos, a political
analyst at the Cape Town-based Institute for Justice and Reconciliation,
said in an interview. ``In fact, it has probably intensified now.''
Official results from the presidential election may show that neither
Mugabe, 84, nor opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai, 56, won a majority in
the presidential race, said George Charamba, Mugabe's spokesman. That
outcome would require a runoff within three weeks.
``I am very, very worried,'' Raftopoulos, a Zimbabwean, said. ``Mugabe could
easily roll out the repression in a runoff for the presidency.''
The ruling Zanu-PF is ready to ``unleash its full power'' behind Mugabe in a
presidential runoff, Deputy Information Minister Bright Matonga said today
in a phone interview from the capital, Harare. ``We are ready for victory,''
Zanu-PF's politburo will meet tomorrow to discuss its strategy following the
elections, Agence France-Presse reported, citing unidentified senior party
If Mugabe manages to retain the presidency, he will be a weaker but by no
means impotent leader. His era of absolute control of Zimbabwe ended after
opposition politicians won 111 of the 210 seats in parliament's House of
Assembly in the March 29 election, according to official results released
`Bulldoze the People'
The ``loss of parliamentary control is probably the most significant event
since independence in 1980,'' said Alec Kaseke, a former political science
lecturer at the University of Zimbabwe in Harare. Mugabe ``won't be able to
bulldoze the people in one direction or the other.''
Before losing control of the Assembly, Mugabe had controlled all levels of
Zimbabwe's government since he helped lead a guerrilla army that overthrew
white-minority rulers in 1980. Mugabe has used nearly three decades of
absolute control to push through constitutional amendments to strengthen the
Under the current constitution, Mugabe can pass laws by decree, although
these must be ratified by the House of Assembly and the Senate within 90
days. Without parliamentary approval, the decrees expire after that period.
The Senate, created in 2005 as a separate parliamentary chamber, can block
legislative proposals, so it would be another check on the Assembly's
ambitions if Mugabe partisans control it. Official election results from
Senate races also haven't been released yet.
``There is no question that Mugabe is on the back foot, the momentum is with
Tsvangirai,'' Marian Tupy, an analyst at the Washington-based Cato
Institute, said in an interview. ``They may well declare that there has to
be a runoff.''
Support for the president withered as his policies spawned a decade-long
recession and the world's highest inflation rate, 164,900 percent. He seized
white-owned commercial farms and turned them over to black small-scale
farmers who mainly grew food for their own families. That policy won him
support from poor Zimbabweans deprived of land under colonial rule, while
slashing exports and causing shortages of fuel and food.
Opposition leader Tsvangirai's Movement for Democratic Change has released
no details of how it plans to tackle the country's economic crisis, apart
from saying it plans to allow the Zimbabwe dollar to trade freely against
other currencies. Officially, the Zimbabwe dollar is pegged against the U.S.
currency. It trades at 55 million to one U.S. dollar on the black market,
where most people buy their foreign exchange.
`The Next President'
The MDC yesterday released its own tally of presidential votes -- based on
results posted outside of individual polling places -- and said he beat
Tendai Biti, the MDC's secretary-general, said Tsvangirai won 50.3 percent
of the votes, enough to avoid a runoff. In remarks broadcast live from
Harare by the British Broadcasting Corp., Biti said Mugabe obtained 43.8
``Morgan Richard Tsvangirai is the next president of this country, without a
runoff,'' Biti said. ``The opposition has won the elections.'' The MDC would
participate in a runoff only ``under protest,'' he added. ``It is highly
unlikely that people's decisions will be reversed in a runoff.''
Charamba, the Mugabe spokesman, dismissed the MDC's victory claim, accusing
the party of ``trying to rig the elections.''
An assessment of the vote by the independent Zimbabwe Electoral Support
Network indicated that Tsvangirai may not be able to avoid a runoff. A
sample of 435 polling stations, covering 5 percent of the population, showed
Tsvangirai with 49 percent of the vote, Mugabe with 41 percent and former
Finance Minister Simba Makoni, who ran as an independent, with 8 percent,
the group said.
The South African rand has gained 4.7 percent since polling day on
speculation that Mugabe's reign may be over, bringing stability to the
region. The rand traded at 7.7620 to the dollar as of 20:58 p.m.
Johannesburg time compared with 8.1432 on March 28, the day before the
``A change of leadership in Zimbabwe is positive for the entire region,''
said Russell Lamberti, an economist at Econometrix Treasury Management,
which advises clients on bond and foreign-exchange transactions in
Johannesburg. ``It's a significant political development right on our
doorstep and it's definitely helping the rand.''
Shares of mining companies with assets in Zimbabwe also rose. Zimplats
Holdings Ltd., the company controlled by Impala Platinum Holdings Ltd. that
runs Zimbabwe's platinum mines, jumped 11 percent to A$15.90 in Sydney
In Harare, shares on Zimbabwe's stock exchange have been volatile. Still,
the benchmark Industrials Index has risen 32 percent to 14.12 billion
points, while the mining index has almost doubled to 12.29 billion points
since March 28.
``Everyone is waiting on the final results of the election,'' Emmanuel
Munyukwi, the chief executive officer of the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange, said
in an interview from Harare. ``Right now everything is anyone's guess.''
Government officials urged the MDC to await official results, warning that
its claims of victory may provoke unrest and prompt the government to take
In parliamentary races, election officials announced on state television
that the MDC secured 99 of the 210 seats in the House of Assembly. Mugabe's
ZANU-PF won 96. An MDC splinter group led by Arthur Mutambara won 11 seats.
An independent candidate got one. Three seats remain to be decided in later
The MDC split in 2005 after some of its members, led by Mutambara, a
university professor, decided to contest the first senatorial elections. The
move was criticized by the larger Tsvangirai-led faction, which boycotted
Repeated talks since 2006 had failed by early this year to re-unite the
To contact the reporters on this story: Brian Latham via the Johannesburg
bureau at firstname.lastname@example.org; Antony Sguazzin in Johannesburg at
03/04/2008 19:10 - (SA)
Harare - Despite the bloody nose given to Zanu-PF in Saturday's
parliamentary elections, the party of long-time Zimbabwean President Robert
Mugabe appeared ready on Thursday to soldier on in its increasingly
desperate bid to cling to power.
"President Mugabe is going to fight to the last," Deputy Information
Minister Bright Matonga told the BBC, denting but not entirely quashing
hopes that 84-year-old Mugabe would finally call it a day.
Meanwhile, there were the first public signs of African diplomats' efforts
to mediate between Mugabe and opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai when
Sierra Leone's former president Ahmed Tejan Kabbah revealed he had met with
Although the results of the presidential election have yet to be released,
Matonga predicted Mugabe would square off against Tsvangirai in a runoff -
as called if neither candidate takes more than 50% of votes.
'We'll be ready'
"This time we will be ready," Matonga vowed, as Mugabe made his first public
appearance since the elections, looking, by all accounts, relaxed.
But according to several sources, the MDC and Zanu-PF are engaged in furious
The slow release of the results and the talk of a runoff could be part of a
ploy to buy more time for the talks, in which neighbouring African countries
are believed to have a hand.
Mugabe appeared on national TV, not as was feverishly predicted two days ago
to announce he was finally relinquishing power, but to bid farewell to a
group of African Union election observers.
Five days after Zimbabwe's combined presidential, parliamentary and local
elections the country is convulsed by one question: will the "old man" who
has ruled the country for all of its 28- year post-independence history
fight another day or will he finally go?
The initial silence emanating from State House after the opposition claimed
victory early in the elections was interpreted as a positive sign. "He's
floored by his bad showing," members of Tsvangirai's Movement for Democratic
Change trumpeted, claiming a 67% victory. "He doesn't know what to do."
The MDC, who claim Tsvangirai won the presidential vote outright with 50.3%
of the vote, had begged Mugabe to save himself the "humiliation" of a
runoff, which must be held within three weeks if neither candidate takes
more than 50% plus one ballot.
Analysts fear bloodshed in what would be seen as a do-or-die contest by both
sides. Matonga vowed Zanu-PF would throw everything it had at a second
round, raising fears of a return to the police brutality against opposition
supporters that has marked election campaigns in the past.
"It will be very violent," Mbembe said.
Among the possible other outcomes of the talks that have been floated are
the formation of a transitional unity government.
A meeting of Zanu-PF's politburo (inner circle) scheduled for Friday is also
expected to give a clearer indication of whether Mugabe will make his last
stand or as, Tutu hopes, "step down with dignity, gracefully." - Sapa-dpa
03/04/2008 11:10 - (SA)
Harare - Former Mozambican president Joaquim Chissano is in Zimbabwe to help
broker talks between embattled President Robert Mugabe's Zanu-PF party and
Morgan Tsvangirai's Movement for Democratic Change on the outcome of last
weekend's elections, diplomatic sources say.
Chissano was president of Zimbabwe's neighbour, Mozambique, from 1986 to
2005. Since stepping down he had regularly been called on by international
bodies to mediate in conflicts.
A longtime friend of Zimbabwe's leader of 28 years, Chissano was best man at
Mugabe's wedding to his second wife, Grace.
He was also a member of a team of elder African statesmen and women who
mediated in Kenya's bloody post-election conflict earlier this
Monsters and Critics
Apr 3, 2008, 18:24 GMT
New York - Former UN secretary general Kofi Annan on Thursday urged
Zimbabwe's government not to tamper with election results and to respect the
country's constitution, amid growing calls for President Robert Mugabe to
end his 28-year rule.
Annan, who last month led negotiations to resolve an electoral crisis in
Kenya on behalf of the African Union, said from Geneva that the people of
Zimbabwe had exercised their democratic rights, though the results were
'still dribbling in' five days later.
Mugabe's Zanu-PF party was defeated in parliamentary elections but results
from Zimbabwe's presidential poll have yet to be released. Most analysts
predict a victory for opposition Movement for Democratic Change leader
'I strongly urge the government and the Electoral Commission to scrupulously
observe the electoral law and to declare the election results faithfully and
accurately,' Annan said.
'Any attempt to tamper with these results would be rejected by the people of
Zimbabwe as well as by the international community,' he said. 'The wish of
the people must be heeded and everyone must accept the outcome.'
He warned that the world will be watching Zimbabwe and its leaders, urging
them to respect the constitution and obey the electoral laws.
17:24 GMT, Thursday, 3 April 2008 18:24 UK
By George Alagiah
"Robert Mugabe has now become a bargaining chip" in this whole
Those words, once unthinkable, were uttered by a one-time supporter of
the ruling Zanu-PF and now a member of one of the opposition parties in
He was referring to the frenetic bargaining and deal-making that is
apparently taking place in the Zimbabwean capital, Harare, as politicians
and the military top brass adjust to the post election political scene.
For the first time in 28 years Zanu-PF lost its majority in the lower
house of parliament.
That is why the man who for so long symbolised the liberation struggle
and ruled supreme is now being thought of as expendable by some within the
The Thursday edition of the state-owned Herald newspaper is a case in
There is barely a mention of the president in it.
There was a time when it when editors could not put the paper to bed
without a eulogy to Robert Mugabe.
The man himself has been virtually invisible since last Saturday's
Not surprising that his brief appearance on Zimbabwean television on
Thursday has itself become news.
The future of Zanu-PF and the future of Robert Mugabe, for so long one
and the same, are now two separate issues.
There are those within the party who would apparently ditch the
president if it meant survival of the party as a political force.
For sure they will want as graceful and elegant an exit for the "old
man" as he is referred to as a mark of respect but it is my understanding
that in a choice between president and party it is the party that will win.
That is what one faction within the party want - we can call them the
reformers though in the Zanu-PF context that is a relative term, many are
old, established faces within the party.
They are not necessarily driven by a desire to rekindle the party of
old but to protect the organisation that has given them so much - a
lifestyle of some comfort and a social status to match.
In this scenario, someone like Simba Makoni - who stood as an
independent candidate for the presidency but was once Mr Mugabe's finance
minister - would be persuaded to re-join the fold and given a plum job.
His return to the party would lend credibility to claims that the
party has indeed changed its spots.
Their problem is that the country looks as if it might be heading for
a second round run-off between the top two presidential candidates in the
first round - Robert Mugabe and Morgan Tsvangirai of the opposition Movement
for Democratic Change.
Though no official results have been published, it seems the country
is being prepared for such a contest - the Herald has touted it and
Zanu-PF's spokesman Bright Matonga has said the party is ready to unleash
its full might in a run-off.
Legally, only Robert Mugabe can contest the run-off.
How do you simultaneously support him in a run-off and also prepare
the ground to ditch him?
Others in the party have no such conundrum - let's call them the
They think the party could win a run-off with Mr Mugabe in charge.
If they get the better of the internal tussle expect to see Zanu-PF
deploy all its tools - everything from media dominance to thuggery - in an
all-out effort to put the presidency beyond the reach of Mr Tsvangirai.
If there is a second round Zimbabweans may be heading for a rough ride
We are, of course, some way off a second round.
First, the Election Commission has to publish the presidential
results - something it has signally failed to do - and the opposition has to
On Thursday a spokesman for the MDC said it would not accept a second
round without careful scrutiny of the results.
Monsters and Critics
Apr 3, 2008, 14:49 GMT
Harare - Zimbabwe's tense wait for the outcome of last weekend's crunch
presidential election may not be over Friday as initially thought, it
Speaking after talks with the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission the chairman of
a Pan-African Parliament (PAP) team of election observers said: 'Hopefully
by tomorrow they will (ZEC) be in a position to know (the presidential
result) if by Saturday everything will be done or it has to last a few more
Marwick Khumalo was speaking to SABC Africa, an arm of South Africa's
national broadcaster, five days after Zimbabwe's synchronized presidential,
parliamentary and local elections.
ZEC had said it would release the election results within six days of
Further delays were likely to fuel reports of frenzied behind-the- scenes
diplomatic activity aimed at achieving a peaceful resolution to the
The opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) has already declared
party leader Morgan Tsvangirai victorious over longtime, authoritarian
President Robert Mugabe - a claim the ruling party rejects.
April 03, 2008, 15:00
Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe has made his first public appearance
since Saturday's election. Mugabe has met with the African Union (AU)
Observer Mission head, Ahmad Tejan Kabbah.
President Mugabe's appearance diffuses speculation and rumours that he had
left the country. His party lost its majority in parliamentary election for
the first time in 28 years. However there is still no word on the
Mugabe faced his toughest challenge yet to his 28 year rule - being
challenged by Movement of Democratic Change (MDC) leader Morgan Tsvangarai
and former Finance minister and politburo member Simba Makoni. The
Zimbabwean Electoral Commission (ZEC) was expected to start releasing the
senatorial results today but it is yet to happen.
Meanwhile Makoni say they will throw their weight behind Tsvangirai in a
presidential run-off vote, which they consider to be definite. Tsvangirai
would be up against Mugabe in a run-off. Makoni's chief strategist, Ibbo
Mandaza, says the opposition needs to be united.
By Vusa Tshabangu
Last updated: 04/04/2008 03:31:50
ZIMBABWEAN President Robert Mugabe has been warned by his former propaganda
chief he faces humiliation if he enters a run-off with opposition leader
With last weekend's presidential election unlikely to produce an outright
winner - or 50 percent plus of the total vote - Zanu PF officials indicated
Thursday that they were preparing for a second round of voting which must be
held within 21 days under Zimbabwean law.
But Moyo - credited with masterminding Zanu PF's 2000 parliamentary election
victory just a few months after the government had suffered a humiliating
rejection of its draft constitution - believes Mugabe should not “subject
himself to such indignity”.
“Why should the President, given all he has done for this country, subject
himself to such indignity? This is a run-off he cannot win, but it is also a
run-off he cannot postpone," Moyo told reporters at a press club in Harare.
"The right thing for the President in this situation is to withdraw. If he
withdraws, he would have set a remarkable precedence. He must realise that
having lost the first round, he cannot win the second. Mugabe and members of
his party, Zanu PF, should be gracious in defeat.”
Moyo, re-elected as MP for Tsholotsho over the weekend, said Zanu PF was now
disintegrating and could soon be history.
“Zanu PF is now history. The total disintegration of the party has started,
this time it’s the real disintegration. Only if they are gracious in this
defeat will the people give them another chance. I wish there were
responsible people who could encourage Mugabe to withdraw from the run-off
and maintain his dignity,” said Moyo.
Over the past few days, there has been speculation that the Zimbabwe
Electoral Commission (ZEC)’s delay in announcing results of Saturday’s poll
was part of a plot to rig the election in favour of Mugabe. ZEC officials
have denied the charge, saying the delay was caused by the “meticulous
verification of results”.
Moyo believes the delay is to allow the authorities to manage the defeat of
Zanu PF, which they had not been prepared for.
‘The authorities are magaing defeat and they are not used to managing
defeat. The Chief Secretary to the President and Cabinet does not even know
what to do because he has never been in such a situation before,” he said.
“In fact, this election is very difficult to rig. I would actually be
tempted to say it is not riggable. Part of the reason for the delay is
because there is anxiety in the security services, especially those service
chiefs who unwisely, or rather foolishly, told the whole world that they
would not salute any other winner than Mugabe.
Published: April 3 2008 19:06 | Last updated: April 3 2008 19:06
It may not be quite over. But an end to Robert Mugabe’s ruinous rule seems
tantalisingly within reach. The opposition’s election victory in parliament
is a milestone in the struggle to prise Zimbabwe’s deluded autocrat from
power. It has ended Zanu-PF’s 28-year run as the ruling party, sowing doubts
among officials and security chiefs about the wisdom of continuing to
support Mr Mugabe.
He could yet inflict a brutal confrontation on his country. But many of his
acolytes are putting out feelers to Morgan Tsvangirai, the opposition
candidate, who – according to as yet unofficial tallies – is leading in the
presidential polls. Regional powers including South Africa also appear more
willing than before to insist the end is nigh.
It is vital therefore that the architecture to rebuild Zimbabwe is ready and
that those within the regime still wavering are encouraged to abandon ship.
This is no time for triumphalism. The opposition’s victory was convincing
because the rules were stacked heavily against it, but it was also narrow.
If Mr Tsvangirai is indeed to become head of state, he will need broad
support. He must offer guarantees there will be no witch hunt and, as Mr
Mugabe once did, provide assurance that there will be a place for all in the
The country is on its knees. Its economy has collapsed. Its people are dying
and its businesses are hollowed out. Overcoming this legacy will be every
bit as tough as winkling Mr Mugabe out of power.
In the longer term, the devastation wreaked by mishandled land reforms must
be addressed in a way that both benefits the poor and revives commercial
farming. This will be delicate. The rule of law must be re-established fast
and legislation prepared to facilitate the return of investors.
The immediate priority for any new government, if it is to establish
authority over a country close to meltdown, will be to stabilise the
economy. If the International Monetary Fund is ready with expertise and
largesse, stabilisation could be achieved rapidly. To combat hyperinflation
the government must stop printing money to finance the deficit and pay the
civil service. In return the IMF and other donors must provide enough
foreign exchange to maintain the state. There will be a small window to do
this and keep up the hopes of Zimbabweans – and no time for dithering over
Zimbabwe still has huge potential: a broad resource base, a skilled diaspora
and a well of international sympathy to tap. With its future restored, it
will repay its debts.
WASHINGTON, 3 April 2008 (IRIN) - It is going to take more than a regime
change back home to get the several million-strong Zimbabwean diaspora to
return, according to analysts.
"It's both the economy and politics," said Mlamuli Nkomo, an expert in
Forced Migration at the University of Witwatersrand, South Africa.
"There has to be change of government first, and the economy must be seen to
be on the recovery path thereafter. Once these two are achieved, I think we
will witness dozens of Zimbabweans flocking back to their motherland to
restart their lives, and participate fully in their country's rebuilding
processes," Nkomo told IRIN.
It is estimated more than two million Zimbabweans are living in South
Africa, with another two million in the United Kingdom. As many as 45,000
Zimbabweans live in the United States of America, according to the US-based
think-tank, the Association of Zimbabweans Based Abroad (AZBA).
Despite the hardships many face in their adopted homes, even being targeted
by xenophohic attacks in South Africa, many would prefer to wait for an
economic recovery in Zimbabwe. The almost dysfunctional economy has left
Zimbabweans struggling with an inflation rate of more than 100,000 percent
and widespread food shortages.
"I need to know if I can get a job that can give me a decent living wage
before I go home," said Sibonginkosi Ndlovu,( not her real name) who works
in a fast food outlet in South Africa. "I do not like South Africa, the
crime is high, I do not feel safe and I'm always called a kwere-kwere
(illegal immigrant). Zimbabwe is peaceful, people are friendly but the
economy has to get going smoothly if I am to go back."
Professionals like Silas Dziike, a lawyer based in Johannesburg, would
prefer to return if they are assured of a decent income. "Professionals will
relocate and settle if there is an enabling environment," he said. "For
example, doctors will go and work in Zimbabwe if they can get a decent wage
and medicine is available in hospitals".
According to Nkomo, some Zimbabwean businessmen, who have the capital may
want to return and invest in their country, but would continue to run their
operations overseas. Those in well-paying jobs will also not return, at
least not in the first 15 years of transformation, he said.
Dumaphi Mema of the think-tank, AZBA, said that Zimbabwe should retain its
skilled workforce some day and rebuild. "The country has been robbed of
brilliant minds in business, the health sector and many other crucial
sectors of the economy.
"And should change happen, it is imperative that the skilled labor returns
and take charge of the economy...It may take an effort to convince some
people though," he said. "But I know there are people who are saving money
in the diaspora who are dreaming of returning home to open up businesses
when change comes."
A study in 2004 by the International Organisation of Migration found that
the majority (82 percent) of Zimbabweans had arrived in the UK or South
Africa with a qualification, of which 38 percent held a bachelor's degree or
higher, 19 percent had a diploma in higher education and three percent had a
However, many in the UK and South Africa have had to take employment not
commensurate with their skills or experience, and "an area of great concern
is the effect on the skills base of this very highly skilled diaspora
population of not being able to use their skills and qualifications" in
their new country of residence.
This meant that "in future years, some Zimbabweans returning from the
diaspora will return with a lower skills base than when they left."
"Given that many Zimbabweans in the diaspora are key workers in the
education and healthcare professions, their emigration, and the evidence of
deskilling, creates clear and obvious concerns for the longer-term future of
Zimbabwe", the IOM study said.
But the drawing power of the foreign currency is going to govern decisions
to return home. "I believe the mere fact that the British Pound is stronger
than the Zimbabwean Dollar means some people would rather stay and work
abroad even if things changed," said Nomalanga Moyo, a Zimbabwean journalist
based in the UK. Moyo, who worked for Zimbabwe newspapers as a sub-editor
before the papers' closure by government in 2003, and now works for a
"We have people here in the UK doing menial jobs that are faring well; they
are fending for their hunger-stricken families back home while others have
bought state-of-the-art properties with remittances," she said.
[This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations]
Mail and Guardian
Imke van Hoorn | Johannesburg, South Africa
03 April 2008 06:08
"As soon as Mugabe is gone, I will go home. After five years I
will go back to my brother and three sisters," John (24), told the Mail &
Guardian Online on Thursday.
John, who preferred not to mention his surname, is one of the
estimated three to five million refugees who have fled to South Africa in
recent years, where they are anxiously waiting the results of their home
country's presidential poll.
Though voting took place last Saturday already, by Thursday
afternoon the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission had not yet announced the
The opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) has already
tasted victory in the parliamentary poll and insists its leader, Morgan
Tsvangirai, also won the presidential election.
Most of the Zimbabwean refugees said they would leave South
Africa as soon as Mugabe stepped down. On Wednesday night, some of them held
a perhaps premature celebration inside the Central Methodist church in
downtown Johannesburg, a known haven for refugees.
At midday on Thursday, a group of refugees and South African
activists gathered at the corner of Plein and Klein streets to inform the
public about the latest election results. A radio blared the song Asambeni
Ekhaya (Let's Go Home).
Leo (27), from Harare, has been staying in the church since
November last year.
"As soon as the election results are published I will be gone,"
he said. "I will buy enough stuff for my family and go home. My mother and
younger brother are still in Zimbabwe. My mother is crying a lot on the
phone. I call my mother every day now, asking for the election results."
Leo is convinced that Tsvangirai will win. "Mugabe will be gone.
Tsvangirai must be in power. Because of the split in Zanu-PF, things are
different now. This is the chance for the MDC."
Would he also return if Mugabe stayed in power and the MDC had
the majority in Parliament? "No, if Mugabe is still there, I am not going."
He added: "I miss the food of my mother, and I miss my bed. I
sleep on the ground here. If I come home, I will have a party with my
family. Being together with them, not talking on the phone … Here I am not
free. I am afraid of the cops asking for your papers."
'He has to go'
John (24), also from Harare, has been living in the church for
five years. Nowadays, he spends his time listening to the radio on his
cellphone for the latest Zimbabwean news.
"As soon as Mugabe is gone, I will go home. You have to go back,
starting something, helping your country. Things will not change
automatically. But if Tsvangirai will be in power, there will be change ...
this time Mugabe definitely will go. He has to go; nobody wants him any
more," he said.
"If I go back to Zimbabwe, I go back to my brother and my three
sisters. I am here for five years, but I've got my home there. In South
Africa, life is tough. You don't belong here. People don't like you and
don't understand the situation behind [you].
"If the MDC only has the majority in Parliament and Mugabe stays
in power, I will not go home. Nobody goes back if Mugabe stays in power."
Patrick (30), from Chitumgwiza, arrived in South Africa only two
weeks ago. He is very sceptical and doesn't believe Mugabe will give up
power. "Tsvangirai is not going to win. Mugabe will never let that happen.
No matter how many seats the MDC will have in Parliament, Mugabe will have
the last say. Who is going to sign the Bills, the laws? Robert.
"Mugabe will not give up power. He is too afraid for the people
he killed in Matabeleland … and so many other people died. The only chance
that there will be change in Zimbabwe is if Mugabe is dead. The only time I
will go back to Zimbabwe is if Mugabe is dead. If he is still alive, there
is no change.
"I have hoped for change, I stayed a long time in Zimbabwe, but
I realised Mugabe's regime is too strong, there is no change. That's why I
came here. I voted for Tsvangirai, but I don't believe he will be the next
Life in South Africa
Fredrick (24), his wife, Tracey (20), and their child, Malcolm
(4), also hail from Harare. Fredrick left Zimbabwe in July last year and
Tracey came to South Africa six months later.
"I will not go back to Zimbabwe," Fredrick said. "I don't think
we will go back if Tsvangirai wins the elections. There is no future there
now. I think it will take four to five years to change. I think I am going
to stay here and fight for a better life in South Africa, a better life for
Producing a printout from his pocket that read "MDC claims
victory", he added: "I always go to the internet shop for the latest news.
And I read the papers.
"In Zimbabwe I used to live with my parents. They live in the
rural areas with no phone, so I didn't speak to them since I left Zimbabwe.
I only called my brother. Home for me is my family. That's where I grew up;
that's where I belong. If I dream about home, I dream about my family, being
"I support Tsvangirai. With him, white farmers will come back,
we need them for investment. The current government … they don't know how to
run a country. We need investment."
And what would he remember from South Africa? "The police. They
check for your papers on the street, they came in here [the Central
Methodist church], wanted people to go out."
At the end of January this year, the South African Police
Service raided the church apparently in search of guns, drugs and illegal
immigrants. In the raid, police allegedly assaulted a number of immigrants.
Fredrick would also remember his "sleeping place", a corner near
a venue that served food for the homeless. "I sleep here with my phone in my
pocket, money in my shoes. And I will remember it because my child is going
to the church crèche now and he starts to speak Zulu now."
MDC activist Artwell (19), from Masvingo, said he was trying to
persuading people to return to their country.
"Yesterday [Wednesday] we celebrated the results. I really think
there will be change now. We suffered a lot, but now it's time to go home.
We must help our country, because things will be different; there will be
"I want to go home next week, together with my brother. I want
to make sure Mugabe will be gone. People should go home now. Home is the
best. I am going to meet my friends and my brother at home."
By Joe De Capua
03 April 2008
With the current political situation in Zimbabwe, more people are
speculating as to what would happen if President Robert Mugabe finally left
One question being raised is: Would any of the white farmers who lost their
farms to land reform be willing to return to Zimbabwe or at least help in
rebuilding the agriculture sector? Zimbabwe was once considered a
breadbasket for Southern Africa.
Annabel Hughes is the former executive director of the Zimbabwe Democracy
Trust, which for seven years lobbied in Washington for democratic change in
Zimbabwe. She is also the daughter of a former white farmer in Zimbabwe. She
spoke to VOA English to Africa Service reporter Joe De Capua about what the
white farmers might do.
“It’s amazing what’s happened just in the last few days how the energy
between the Zimbabwean Diaspora has just fired up because of the excitement
of the possibility of the Mugabe era being over. But it’s a very complex
situation because as much as they would want to go home, because they regard
themselves as Zimbabweans and that is their home, those farms have been
invaded. They’ve been taken over by other people. Although certainly most of
these farmers have access to their title deeds, there’s going to be a
question of land tenure now. Who owns what? So, it’s not as simple as just
people going back and taking up their lives as they would have done before
because they’ve been given some cash,” she says.
Many of the white farmers started over again in other African countries,
such as Mozambique, Nigeria and Zambia. “I have a brother who started again
in Zambia…although it hasn’t been easy. They’ve had to carve farms out of
virgin bush, out of nothing. They had to rely on loans from various
governments, from the Zambian government, because they have had everything
literally stolen in Zimbabwe…. Multi-million dollar farms were stolen in
Zimbabwe. All their farm workers were displaced…. So, yes in certain
countries, certainly in Zambia and Nigeria, there’s been a great success for
the agricultural exporting of these farmers into other countries. For the
first time ever, Zambia started exporting food,” she says.
Asked what it would take to rebuild Zimbabwe’s agriculture sector, Hughes
says, “There is certainly the opportunity for Zimbabwe to return to being a
bread basket for sub-Saharan Africa. It’s just that the next step that will
have to happen, I believe, is there would have to be some sort of commission
to work out the situation with land tenure.” She also says there has been a
“deep, deep level of corruption,” not only among government officials but
even among some white farmers who’ve tried to keep their land. “It’s one
complete mess. And it’s all being run by the elite. On the whole, those big
commercial farms that were run by white Zimbabweans and owned by white
Zimbabweans are now in the hands of Mugabe’s cronies,” she says.
HARARE, 3 April 2008 (IRIN) - After a quick glance at the morning news
headlines on 3 April, which proclaimed a win for the Zimbabwean opposition,
Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), an elated Tavonga Mahara almost sang
out: “This is sweeter than a miracle! ZANU-PF can be beaten after all!”
A resident of the Mbare suburb in the capital, Harare, Mahara added,
“Surely, a new and brighter sun is on the horizon; our votes did not go to
Mahara’s excited shouts, as he broke into a little jig attracted the
attention of other residents of the suburb, who crowded around him cheering
wildly. MDC’s edge over the ruling ZANU-PF in the parliamentary elections –
the only results that have filtered out so far - has a special significance
for Mbare residents. Almost eight years ago, President Robert Mugabe had
referred to the suburb’s residents as “totemless people” for their support
for the MDC.
Mahara is unemployed. Unable to cope with the country’s deepening economic
crisis, the printing company he worked for shut down seven years ago. He now
hopes the company might re-open.
Unemployment is estimated at more than 70 percent, around 80 percent of the
population lives on less that a dollar a day, industry has shrunk by about
two thirds, foreign currency reserves have dwindled, inflation is estimated
at around 100,000 percent and basic commodities are in short supply.
“I have been surviving from hand to mouth because of the bad politics of the
government and I even failed to send my children to school beyond the
seventh grade,” said Mahara, who has survived economically as a vegetable
vendor. “My wife died two years ago because I did not have the money to send
her to hospital and my old mother in our rural home has no food; all that
Hopes of delivery
Sara Chitiga is among the several thousand who were left homeless by the
ZANU-PF government's Operation Murambatsvina in 2005, aimed at clearing
slums and flushing out criminals. The clean-up operation carried out in the
middle of winter, left more than 700,000 people homeless or without a
Some of the affected went back to their rural homes while many were forced
into government-sanctioned resettlement camps on the outskirts of urban
centres, with no source of employment. Chitiga, an illicit liquor dealer,
lives in one such camp, Hopley Farm, 12 km southwest of Harare, and is now
hopeful with a possible regime change that she might move into a proper
“My hope is that I will stop playing hide and seek with the police as I sell
kachasu (home brewed alcohol) and marijuana,” she said.
A new government would come not without its own sceptics.
In 2000 the government dispossessed more than 4,000 white commercial farmers
of their land in a controversial land reform exercise and reallocated it,
often after cutting it up into smaller plots, to thousands of land-hungry
Philmon Zinyere, a 53-year-old veteran of Zimbabwe’s war of liberation who
was given a farm as a reward for his efforts in the exercise is convinced
that an opposition-led government would evict him and others who benefited
and is determined to oppose any such move.
“[MDC leader Morgan] Tsvangirai is a puppet of the west,” he told IRIN. “The
country will turn into chaos because he will return land to our colonisers.
But we will not idly stand by as he does that; we will fight back because
the land is our heritage.”
Tsvangirai has maintained that he would not reverse the land reform
programme but would fine tune it to improve agricultural production.
[This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations]
An ally of Zimbabwe's corrupt president fails in bid to launch a replacement
George Conger | posted 4/03/2008 09:15AM
Even before Zimbabwean president Robert Mugabe's troubles in the country's
March 29 elections, an effort to create an independent Anglican church loyal
to him had collapsed.
Support for Mugabe ally Bishop Nolbert Kunonga of Harare and his breakaway
Anglican Church of Zimbabwe has all but disappeared, with the bishop's
waning control maintained by government security services.
Since his election as Harare's bishop, Kunonga has been a source of
controversy within Zimbabwe and the 77-million-member Anglican Communion.
Educated at Cambridge University and Northwestern University, where he
earned a Ph.D., Kunonga served on the faculty of the Rev. Sun Myung Moon's
Unification Seminary in Tarrytown, New York, before returning to Zimbabwe to
seek election as bishop in 2001.
In a racially charged election that critics say was influenced by the
country's secret police, Kunonga defeated the white archdeacon of Harare in
the race for bishop. He proceeded to align the leading diocese of Zimbabwe's
second-largest denomination with the government. About 3 percent of the
country's 13 million people are Anglican.
Kunonga drove off the diocese's white Zimbabwean clergy and purged its ranks
of those deemed disloyal to the regime, causing half of the African clergy
to flee abroad. To fill empty pulpits, he began ordaining clergy without
theological training—including some members of the secret police, Zimbabwe's
vice president Joseph Msika, and two government cabinet ministers.
The U.S. State Department and the European Union have banned Kunonga from
entering the U.S. or Europe due to his complicity in crimes of the regime.
In August 2005 the bishop was also brought before an ecclesiastical court to
face a 38-count indictment of misconduct, ranging from incitement to
murdering fellow clergy to fraud, heresy, preaching racial hatred, and
theft.However, the trial collapsed after witnesses refused to return to
Zimbabwe out of fear for their lives.
In January, Kunonga announced the formation of the Anglican Church in
Zimbabwe, independent of Canterbury and the Central African Province, which
he claimed had been corrupted by homosexuals. The province responded by
declaring Kunonga's seat vacant and appointing a retired Zimbabwean bishop,
Sebastian Bakare, as his interim replacement.
In an interview with Voice of America on February 25, Bakare said all of
Zimbabwe's Anglican congregations had abandoned Kunonga, as had most of the
clergy. There was "no doubt" the schism was "politically motivated," he
said, as "Kunonga wanted to deliver the Anglican diocese to ZANU-PF
[Mugabe's political party]."
Kunonga and Bakare are currently at a standoff over Harare's cathedral.
Despite a court order to share the building pending the outcome of
litigation, Kunonga has barricaded himself inside and deployed state
security officers to keep opponents away.
Observers say that Bakare's successful challenge of Kunonga presaged a
weakening of Mugabe's power. The 84-year-old president's absolute rule over
the country, which has lasted 28 years, has in recent years brought social,
civic, and economic unrest, including an annual inflation rate of more than
For the first time since independence from Britian in 1980, Mugabe faced a
serious challenge in the country's elections from within his own, and he
fared poorly despite widespread efforts to rig the vote.
Zimbabwe's Electoral Commission said Wednesday that the Movement for
Democratic Change, the main opposition party, won a majority of seats in the
parliamentary elections. Official results from the presidential election
have not yet been released, and MDC and ZANU-PF officials have issued
conflicting statements over whether MDC candidate Morgan Tsvangirai had won
enough votes to win the presidency without a runoff election.
Shame Makoshori Staff Reporter
YEAR-on-year inflation surged close to 165 000 percent in February, official
data showed last week, underlining the weight of the task ahead for any new
Central Statistical Office figures seen by The Financial Gazette indicated
that year on year inflation increased by 64 320 percentage points to 164
900, 3 percent in February, from 100 580.2 percent in December.
Non-alcoholic beverages, bread and cereals were the major drivers of
inflation in February.
Month-on-month inflation in February surged by five percentage points to
125,9 percent from 120,8 percent in January, and 240.1 percent in December.
The new data reveals the depth of the economic crisis, which attracted more
attention during campaigns for last week’s elections.
Official data on inflation is largely based on the prices of goods and
services under price controls.
Even though the controlled prices themselves have surged over the past
month, many believe official numbers remain largely understated.
Inflation, which has eroded the buying power of the country’s troubled
currency, has been the focal point of government’s fight to restore the
faltering fortunes of the economy.
A raft of measures by the central bank and the Ministry of Finance to stem
the economic haemorrhage have met with impediments as the economic crisis
continues, with prices of basic food commodities escalating daily.
In December, official figures showed year on year inflation closed the year
at 66 212.
However, rising interest rates as well as the disappearance of basic
commodities from the formal market into the expensive informal market and
the escalating fuel crisis have continued to push inflation upwards.
Last week, key accommodation rates surged from 1 200 percent for secured
borrowing to 4 000 percent, and from 1 650 percent to 4 500 percent for
Economic analysts said the decision by the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) to
significantly increase withdrawal limits starting this week was driven by
the need to catch up with runaway inflation, which has eroded the value of
the beleaguered domestic currency.
The RBZ said it will increase withdrawal limits for individuals 10 fold to
$5 billion from $500 million.
The Zimbabwe dollar has been falling sharply on the parallel foreign
currency market where it was fetching $40 million to the greenback last
week, from $6 million in January, indicating the swift pace of inflation.
THE Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries (CZI) has declined to endorse
government plans to expropriate foreign companies’ shareholdings to empower
locals, saying it would not be swayed into taking part in political
Responding to questions on CZI’s stance to the empowerment programmes likely
to move a gear up after the elections, CZI president Callisto Jokonya, told
The Financial Gazette:
“As regards to what politicians want to do the CZI is totally out of that.”
“We have plenty of British companies as our members,” Jokonya said.
“We also have companies from all over the world as our members (but) we are
organised business. We do not worry about the shareholding of companies, or
who owns what in which company. Anybody can say what he or she wants but
this is not part of the CZI mandate. Remember whatever is done in companies,
they are guided by the companies Act,” Jokonya said.
The CZI chief said despite the deteriorating economic crisis that has
engulfed the country for nine years, and the hostile policies the government
has imposed on investors, foreign investment would continue trickling into
“Investors are risk takers,” he said.
“Where there is good money it is always a tough environment, that is why I
have been an investor in this country.”
Jokonya runs Imperial Refrigeration, one of the country’s biggest
In the run up to last week’s polls President Robert Mugabe reiterated his
threats that foreign companies that did not comply with government imposed
prices would be targeted for takeovers after the polls.
But industrialists hoped a new government would reverse the programme to
shore up the level of foreign direct investments.
President Mugabe said foreign companies were hiking prices to influence
voting patterns and instigate the toppling of his government, singling out
British owned companies for “the regime change agenda”.
He said he would use the Indigenisation and Empowerment Act, which empowers
the government to cede at least 51 percent shareholding in foreign owned
firms, to achieve his controversial goals.
There are 400 British companies still operating in Zimbabwe.
But in a recent interview with The Financial Gazette, a top British diplomat
said the number of British companies in Zimbabwe had declined to 40 in two
An estimated 360 had joined the capital flight to more stable economies in
order to escape the mounting macroeconomic turmoil in the country.
Foreign-owned companies, including banks, have protested against the
controversial empowerment policies amid reports that potential foreign
investors have withheld their capital.
Expansion programmes have been put on hold, triggering potentially higher
levels of unemployment.
“The unemployment situation could worsen, we estimate that another one
million people will flee Zimbabwe in the next 12 months,” the diplomat said.
“Our fear is that they will destabilise the region because most of them will
flee to Mozambique, South Africa, Botswana, Namibia and other countries.
These countries have their own problems and they will not be able to cope
with the influx of many more Zimbabweans,” the diplomat said.
Kumbirai Mafunda Senior Business Reporter
ZIMBABWE’S tobacco auction floors will open their doors to merchants next
month amid concerns over the availability of crucial packaging materials.
Industry players disclosed this week that the annual tobacco auctions, a key
generator of the country’s export receipts, would start on the April 22 and
stretch through to October.
Officials at the country’s three auction floors, the Zimbabwe Tobacco
Auction Centre, the Tobacco Sales Floor and Barley Marketing Zimbabwe told
The Financial Gazette that foreign currency shortages hampered efforts to
import wrapping paper and this could once again affect the commencement of
the marketing season.
Officials at Hunyani Paper and Packaging, manufacturers of the packaging
paper, confirmed the shortages of the wrapping paper, which they attributed
to foreign currency shortages.
The officials said they would need to import 300 tonnes of the special
tobacco paper to meet requirements for the marketing season.
“We are making arrangements to import the paper,” said an official who asked
not to be named.
It is feared that if Hunyani fails to secure foreign currency to import the
paper, they could fail to beat the opening deadline for the auction floors
as deliveries could be delayed.
Last year, shortages of the wrapping paper and hessian, material used to
manufacture packaging and concerns over pricing delayed the commencement of
the selling season, which was initially scheduled to start in March but was
later postponed to April 24.
Growers’ representative bodies fear that this year’s tobacco crop could
plummet to between 65 million kgs and 70 million kgs after last year’s
rebound to 73 million kgs, which earned an estimated US$170 million.
Economic analysts also fear that the drop in tobacco production, once the
mainstay of the economy, could compound the country’s foreign currency
crisis, which already is precarious.
Production of tobacco has been on a freefall since 2000 when government
engaged in a controversial land redistribution programme that displaced
white landowners with unproductive black farmers, mainly government and
ruling party bigwigs and their cronies.
Since then, tobacco output has plunged from an annual peak of 232 million
kgs to a disappointing 73 million kgs last year.
Foreign currency receipts also plummeted to US$170 million, from $400
million before the agrarian reforms. Until the confiscating of commercial
farms in 2000, tobacco underwrote the economy, supplying up to 40 percent of
the country’s total foreign currency earnings.
AIR Zimbabwe has suspended flights to the resort town of Kariba owing
to a decline in passenger volumes.
Air Zimbabwe spokesperson Pride Khumbula confirmed that the national
airline was no longer flying to the resort town.
She said: “We no longer fly into Kariba. They (flights) have been
suspended because the loads were low. It wasn’t viable.
“But we still believe that there is an opportunity there. It (Kariba)
is a destination with potential.”
Prior to the cancellation of the flights to Kariba, Air Zimbabwe used
to operate three flights into the resort town weekly.
Air Zimbabwe re-introduced flights to Kariba two years ago to assist
domestic, regional and international tourists to easily access the town.
The national airline’s flights to Kariba have been erratic over the
past years because of the depressed passenger movements on the route.
The suspension of the flights to Kariba is testimony that tourist
traffic into the resort town has been dwindling.
International tourist traffic has plunged in the last eight years
since western and European governments urged their citizens to shun visiting
Zimbabwe following controversial presidential and parliamentary polls in
2000 and 2002, which were allegedly rigged in favour of President Robert
Mugabe and his ruling ZANU-PF party.
Since then foreign currency receipts from the tourism industry, which
used to be a major foreign currency earner, have slumped from US$777 million
in 1997 to less than US$100 million.
Although the government has adopted a “Look East” policy more than
three years ago to forge closer ties with China and other Asian countries in
the hope of attracting a flood of oriental visitors, the initiative has not
yet yielded much.
Shame Makoshori Staff Reporter
HCCL set to increase exports to generate foreign currency
LOCAL companies have expressed fears that poor coal supplies, which
have persisted for over five years now, might drive them to the brink of
Like other mining operations, coal miners are facing foreign currency
shortages, fuel supply bottlenecks, intermittent power cuts and high input
costs, which have affected output.
Last week, Hwange Colliery Company Limited (HCCL), the country’s major
coal mining concern, said it would increase exports in order to generate
more foreign currency needed to import essential spares.
Industry players are worried that the colliery company might limit
supplies to the domestic market in search of the elusive foreign currency,
leaving farmers, manufacturers and other companies in the lurch.
Marah Hativagone, president of the Zimbabwe National Chamber of
Commerce, this week urged Hwange Colliery to change its strategy and give
the local market enough coal supplies before pushing excess product on the
lucrative export markets.
“They (Hwange) have been failing to meet local demand because of
equipment problems,” Hativagone said.
“While we understand they need foreign currency, they should make an
effort to supply local industries first,” she added.
Industrialists have battled to remain afloat over the past nine years
due to serious coal shortages, forcing the majority of them to scale down
Production capacity in most companies has declined to about 20 percent
due to the erratic deliveries of coal, a critical input in most industries
whose reserves in Matabeleland North alone are estimated to last 500 years.
Many companies have resorted to costly imports from South Africa to
mitigate the effect of domestic supply constraints.
In September last year, companies said they were importing coal from
South Africa at US$40 million per tonne.
During that time, Hwange Colliery was selling a tonne of coal at $14
The Zimbabwe Stock Exchange-listed company, in which the government
controls about 38 percent shareholding, has been struggling to produce
enough coal for the domestic market, whose appetite for the product has
grown due to reduced power output from power utility, ZESA.
In a statement issued last week, the company said it has taken steps
to increase coal output.
“HCCL entered into a medium term contract mining arrangement with
Clidder Minerals to boost production capacity, while long term efforts are
being pursued,” said chairman Tendai Savanhu.
He said the acquisition of mining equipment and refurbishment of major
machinery would be undertaken during the year to increase coal output.
“Contract mining will continue as a short term strategy to ensure coal
availability while concluding recapitalisation programmes,” Savanhu said.
Demand for both coal and coke is expected to remain firm in Zimbabwe
and on the foreign market.
Last year, coal output increased by a marginal one tonne to 2 071 526
from 2 070 358 tonnes in 2006.
Coal deliveries to the Zimbabwe Power Company’s Hwange Power Station
were also down from 1 330 53 tonnes in 2006 to 1 315 799 tonnes last year.
Coal supply constraints have previously been compounded by logistical
constraints, especially high transportation costs and inefficient road and
rail transport to deliver the coal.
And with analysts forecasting a gloomy economic outlook and little
prospects for major investments into coal mining in Zimbabwe, coal output is
expected to remain stagnant.
This could further suffocate local companies, forcing them to resort
to poor quality coal from Sengwa Mine in Gokwe, and Thuli Mine in
ZIMBABWE’S elections are being watched here with the sole unyielding purpose
of confirming Mukuru’s demise. There is no other result, which will satisfy
observers here other than that Mukuru is “comprehensively” (a new word now
being used here) defeated at the polls.
In fact, Mukuru has rigged the elections against himself.
Let us start with United States Secretary of State, Sister Condoleezza Rice.
She announced yesterday that Mukuru has not only been a disgrace to
Zimbabwe, a country which was once the pride of Africa, but to the whole of
Africa and the world.
Definitely, she will not countenance any other result other than a
comprehensive defeat of Mukuru.
The Los Angeles Times, placed yesterday’s date for its lead story. It
confirmed that the opposition MDC was at the time leading in early results,
with a squeaker, giving exact numbers as 49.4 percent and 41.4 percent in
favour of the opposition party. But the paper “alleged” that Mukuru has been
known to steal the elections in two previous cases.
This story is also repeated by the New York Times. Although it gave
virtually the same percentages as the Los Angeles Times without the decimal
points, it also repeated the fear that there was a plot to steal the
The British Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, was also interviewed and expressed
similar fears at the delay in announcing the votes for president.
The nightmare for Mukuru is that at this point he can do no good. The
possibility that he could win the election, even by a squeaker, has already
been discounted. It does not exist. There is a suggestion by an “expert”
that the delay in announcing the result is to determine who will bell the
cat. The person who will tell Mukuru that he is no longer Mukuru will be
swallowed by the earth on which he stands, if not by Mukuru’s wrath.
The nightmare follows the books to a tee. The army officers have already
perjured (a lesser crime than treason) themselves by taking sides in
political debates. No matter what they do now, in the event that Mukuru
loses the election, there is no future for them. They will be lucky to get
away with a pension. Normally, as I suspect, those they have cursed as
sellouts may demand payback. Disgrace and impoverishment is the smallest
punishment that is possible.
My researchers have reminded me that one service chief brother seized a
white man’s farm and sold its crops. That white man is in exile here in the
US and is breathing fire and brimstone.
To steal elections, after the Kenya scenario is a waste of time. The Thabo
Mbeki model (also used in Kenya) is that all results are posted at the point
of voting. Pictures of the numbers are then taken on digital cameras and
sent all over the world in minutes.
My email box is buzzing with figures and facts, which started one hour after
the elections were closed on Saturday.
When Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki adjusted the numbers to suit himself, his
numbers did not tally with those displayed on various posted boards.
There are other reasons why the only free and fair result of the election is
Mukuru’s demise. They have been showing military posses (about 20 riot
police) marching in Harare streets with huge sticks and rifles at the ready.
I am certain that the same picture is shown over and over again.
There was an announcement that the military supreme council was meeting and
that the announcement of the presidential elections had been postponed at
All these “highly suspicious developments” are supposed to support the
theory of stolen elections.
Then there is the juicy story of Judge Chiweshe, the chairperson of the
electoral commission, being chased by reporters after refusing to announce
the presidential winner.
At the time of going to Press, brother Morgan Tsvangirai was supposed to be
hiding in a safe redoubt somewhere, for fear of an accident happening to
All the reports, without exception, repeat what has become accepted facts
that inflation runs at more than 150 000 percent, unemployment is at 80
percent, shops display empty shelves while the party goons run rampant
carying out beatings, murders, intimidations and other acts of lawlessness.
I am certain that the picture being shown here of a Border Gezi posse is the
same picture being run a thousand times. The reporter says that he is
reporting from Johannesburg.
But Zimbabweans themselves will kill one with their sense of humour.
Sister Majoni emailed me to say: “I heard that you were looking for me.
Sorry, I am with Mai Tsvangirai at State House. We are cleaning windows. Ms
Grace left without giving proper instructions.”
I fail to appreciate this humor, at such an hour of most need.
Here is a perfect example where an African leader boxes himself into a
scenario where he cannot possibly do any good to himself or to his fellows.
That is the power of the media in this world. It is a tragedy, which a few
of us saw and warned against, but nobody listened to us.
l Ken Mufuka is a professor at Lander University (USA). He can be reached