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

Back to Index

Back to the Top
Back to Index





Gideon Gono is to be congratulated for bringing economics into the centre of public debate and for livening up what would otherwise unbearably dull fare that is churned out by ZTV.    It is a great pity that there is such a gap between his smoothly delivered rhetoric and the economic reality on the ground, and that the private sector has been bullied into giving sycophantic applause rather than informed criticism.  In his latest performance, the Governor went so far as to dub anyone who fails to give him their unquestioning support as lacking the adequate expertise to analyse the policy regime and to come to the conclusion that Zimbabwe is on what he terms the ‘full economic recovery route’.


This sort of outburst is symptomatic of the Governor himself losing confidence as he tries to contend with the increasingly evident contradictions in his policies.  As any professional economist would tell him, indeed any first year economics student, in the 4 core areas of responsibility of a central bank the Governor’s approach has exacerbated rather than relieved the underlying problems.  These 4 areas are (1) the supervision of the banking sector and the  management of (2) the money supply, (3) interest rates and (4) the exchange rate.  The remaining dozens of topics dealt with in his latest Monetary Policy Statement are not normally the preserve of a central bank, but perhaps serve the function of obfuscating the failings of RBZ in its core areas of responsibility.


If the statements in his maiden Monetary Policy Statement (MPS) in December 2003 are anything to go by, Governor Gono started in a much more promising fashion.  Let us take each of the 4 areas in turn and evaluate what he has done in relation to what he said he would do in his December speech.


1.  Supervision of the Banking Sector


In order to safeguard the stability and soundness of the financial system, and minimize distortions, the Bank’s supervisory role has had to, and will continue to be, strengthened.  …..The message that this conveys to the market is that the curtain has been drawn against the era for the proliferation of weak, poorly managed financial institutions dependent on cheap and unlimited Central Bank credit  (Dec MPS, pg 35-36).


When he took over at RBZ in December 2003, Governor Gono was rightly concerned about the state of the banking sector.  But instead of giving the banks time to adjust, he precipitated a much greater crisis than was necessary.  He did this by starving the market of liquidity, driving interest rates by the end of 2003 to as high as 1000%.  This caused a number of poorly run banking institutions to default and other well run banks to be caught in the cross-fire when the cheque clearing system went into gridlock.


In January 2004, Governor Gono bailed out the ailing institutions through the Troubled Banks Fund, giving them 3 months to sort themselves out.  Inevitably, however, when the 3 months were up, many of the problems were still there and in the meantime the Troubled Banks loans plus interest had ballooned into hitherto unimaginable sums.  Whereas the Governor expressed horror in his December statement about the level of public domestic debt ($607 billion on 5 December, Dec MPS, pg 46), by July just one of the private defaulting banks owed more than this amount to the Reserve Bank.  So much, as the quote above would have it, for the end of the “era for the proliferation of weak, poorly managed financial institutions dependent on cheap and unlimited Central Bank credit”.  The banking crisis is by no means over.  Further negative economic fall-out and appropriation of public funds for dubious support to private institutions, is in store for later in the year.


2.  Money Supply


It is critical that fiscal prudence, as intended in the budget, be complemented by a tight monetary policy.  To this end, the Bank will aim to contain money supply (M3) growth from levels around 500% by the end of this year, to below 200% by December, 2004 (Dec MPS, pg 8)


Under Governor Gono’s stewardship, the money supply was dramatically augmented in the first half of 2004 not just by the injection of hundreds of billions of dollars for the troubled banks but by $1,700 billion of ‘productive sector’ loans attracting a highly subsidised interest rate of 30% (recently raised to 50% - figures from July MPS, pg 83).  The net result, as reported in the July Monetary Policy Statement, has been a very dramatic increase in the money supply, albeit that the rate has been reducing from 490% in January to 400% in May (July MPS, pg 72). 


The increase in Reserve Money, which is a particularly important indicator of future inflation, between December 2003 and May 2004 was already over the target he had set for the entire year of 200%.    On a year-to-year basis, between May 2003 and May 2004 Reserve Money increased by a staggering 875%.


3.  Interest Rates


Pursue a dual interest rate policy which, on one hand: seek to encourage economic growth, while; on the other, fight inflation through discouraging speculative and consumption borrowing.  In this regard, interest rates on consumption, speculative and other non-productive activities will attract unsubsidized market related rates (pg 19).


A dual interest rate policy is simply not consistent with a commitment to what the Governor characterises as his number one goal, which is reducing inflation.  As the Governor well knows from his time as a banker, money is fungible.  Providing $1,700 billion at 30% or later 50% frees up money elsewhere to be used for ‘consumption, speculative and other non-productive activities’.  The increasingly intrusive attempts to control the use of the ‘productive sector’ funds is inherently futile. 


As the Governor rightly said back in December, “we need to show sustained discipline and commitment to the programs that we undertake, and resist the temptation for policy reversals in the face of the inevitable pain of adjustment” (Dec MPS, pg 50), but his interest rate policy has been anything but predictable.    Interest rates in the money market have been characterised by extreme volatility, veering from rates well above inflation, to sustained periods of nominal interest rates well below 100% with inflation of the order of 400%.  Negative real interest rates provoke dis-saving, excess consumption, inflationary pressures and speculation.  Evidence of the latest bout of such behaviour is the speculative mini bull-run on the stock exchange in June-July. 


On interest rates, as in other crucial policy areas, the Governor finds himself between a rock and a hard place.  He knows that positive real interest rates are needed to conquer inflation and restore a coherent incentive structure in the economy.  But he also knows that paying real interest rates on the national debt would blow the budget out of the water.  Despite claims of budgetary balance from the Ministry of Finance, under the present ill-conceived policies, domestic debt has mushroomed from $603 billion in December 2003 to $2,040 billion on 23 July 2004 (RBZ website – domestic debt figure not mentioned in the July MPS).  


The non-market solution that has been implemented is to compulsorily appropriate any liquidity surpluses of the banks and put these into Special Treasury Bills at rates of interest determined by fiat by RBZ.  This creates a new form of distortion which down the line will have further adverse economic consequences.


4.  Exchange Rate


We seek role prominence, in the area of relative price stability at home, and the preservation of the value of the Zimbabwe Dollar relative to that of other currencies.  In this regard, we will pursue policies that fight inflation and stabilize our exchange rate (pg 2).


At the time of the announcement of the controlled foreign exchange auction, MDC expressed alarm at the idea of control, continued taxation of exporters through the 25% surrender requirement and the orientation to stabilising the exchange rate (as presaged in the statement above) rather than to ensuring export competitiveness.  Our worst fears have been justified.  The controlled auction has de facto been used to re-impose a system of import control more stringent than existed in the 1970s or 1980s.  At the same time, the exchange rate has been systematically overvalued to an extent that has, by July 2004, destroyed the incentive to export in almost all sectors. 


The lack of economic thinking behind these policies is a major cause for concern.  The Governor points to the fact that certain export sectors – notably gold – have this year achieved much higher levels of export earnings, but chooses to overlook the fact that there has been no net gain to the economy.  The level of gold production in 2003 is thought by industry insiders to be higher than in 2004. The difference is that this year the foreign currency has come through official channels and is thus subject to the control that this regime so clearly relishes.  Last year the foreign currency was made available to the economy via the parallel market.


One year ago in July 2003, the environment for business was far more favourable than the situation prevailing when the Governor gave his July Monetary Policy speech.   Inflation was at much the same level, but with the parallel market tacitly being allowed to operate by the authorities, exporting was a viable proposition and importers could access the capital goods and raw materials required for production.  By July 2004, for an exporter adhering to the law the incentive to export was of the order of 40% below the level required for competitiveness (as measured by purchasing power parity), while importers have increasingly found their applications rejected in the auction system.


Enterprises are giving up exporting, but are also finding it hard to compete on the domestic market (as evidenced by the calls for protection noted in the Minister of Finance’s review).  Both of these are signs of an overvalued exchange rate.  Elsewhere in Africa, foreign exchange auctions which have succeeded have been associated with progressive moves to liberalise imports and ensure a competitive exchange rate for exports.  The successful forex auctions also had the backing of external financers.  RBZ has no such assistance to fall back on, yet persists with a policy which is literally killing the geese which lay the golden eggs. 


Tacit acknowledgment of the contraction of export activity was given in the Governor’s July speech, but the reduction in the surrender requirement and marginal change in the floor rate to Z$5,600/US$ are not nearly adequate to restore export viability.  The exchange rate implied by the revised gold support price of Z$18,000/gm is around Z$6,200/US$.  This is still a long way from the PPP rate which by August 2004 is over Z$8,200/US$.




As of July 2004, the main success indicator that the Governor points to is the reduction in the headline annual rate of inflation from 622.8% in January 2004 to 394.6% in June 2004 (July MPS, pg23).  Apart from the fact that ordinary people’s experience is of much higher inflation than is indicated by the official figures, a rate of inflation of around 400% per annum is still an intolerable burden on the economic fabric of the nation and on ordinary people.  Inflation is often described as the cruellest tax of all on the poor, and unfortunately there are worse things to come for the most vulnerable in our society.  Measured in month-to-month terms, inflation is rising again from a low of 4.9% per month in April to 6.0% in May and 9.2% by June 2004.


Inflation is an intermediate economic objective – the real goal is to create jobs and increase real incomes for Zimbabweans. Thus the economy will only have ‘turned the corner’ when sustainable economic growth is achieved.  Regrettably, that prospect becomes more and more difficult every day that Zanu-PF remains in power.  This is not just because of the contradictions in the macro-economic policies and the resultant contraction of export and import substituting activities, but because of fundamental flaws in the environment.  Recovery is ultimately a question of confidence and this is impossible in a situation where, to take Kondozi as one of the most egregious examples, an indigenously owned business with EPZ status is nonetheless high jacked by rapacious members of the political establishment. 


It is also impossible for international support to be resumed under this government – any other reading of the recent surprisingly harsh criticisms of the Mugabe regime by the IMF is just wishful thinking.  Resumption of international support to Zimbabwe would require a legitimate government to be in place, willing to restore the rule of law in all its aspects and to formulate and implement a comprehensive economic recovery programme, including negotiating bridging loans to clear the accumulated foreign currency arrears (which by now amount to well over a year’s export revenues).  Only MDC is capable of achieving these things.

Back to the Top
Back to Index

Mugabe accused of election torture

Andrew Meldrum in Pretoria
Tuesday August 10, 2004
The Guardian

President Robert Mugabe's government was accused yesterday of a "widespread,
systematic and planned campaign of organised violence and torture to
suppress normal democratic activities".
The British charity Redress, which helps torture survivors, gave documented
examples of 8,871 human rights violations in 2001-2003 to show that torture
incidents were concentrated in election periods, especially the March 2002
presidential elections

Its report quotes estimates that more than 200,000 Zimbabweans have been
tortured in recent years. "The most pressing conclusion is the association
between serious violations of human rights and elections," it says.

It adds: "With the an nouncement that parliamentary elections will be held
in March 2005, addressing the problem of organised torture in Zimbabwe
becomes a matter of urgency."

It asks the international community to take steps to forestall torture and
other acts of political violence in the election campaign.

The victims have included opposition MPs, trade union leaders, lawyers and
ordinary citizens. State agents are blamed for 24% of the incidents and
supporters of Mr Mugabe's party, Zanu-PF, for 74%, Redress says.

Its executive director, Kathleen Rose-Sender, said: "This report presents a
cool statistical analysis that shows a verifiable pattern of abuse during
election periods. This needs to be recognised and, if possible, stopped.

"We hope that South Africa and the Southern African Development Community
(SADC) will not ignore the evidence put before it. Regional pressure is
always the most effective, coming from neighbouring countries that share
culture and values.

"For southern African countries to turn a blind eye in the face of such
evidence would be irresponsible, because it damages them all," she said.
The report is backed up by the findings of the African Union's commission on
human rights, whose factfinding mission to Zimbabwe led to a condemnation of
Mr Mugabe's government unprecedented by an African organisation .

Zimbabwe prevented it being considered at the AU summit last month, but it
is expected to be raised at this month's SADC meeting.
Back to the Top
Back to Index

Zim Online

Tue 10 August 2004

      JOHANNESBURG - The youth league of South Africa's ruling African
National Congress (ANC) has launched a blistering attack on British Prime
Minister Tony Blair and his Australian counterpart John Howard. They accuse
the two leaders of pretending to love black Zimbabweans  but say their "main
motive" is  to protect the interests of their "white kith and kin".

      The youth league has posted a  scathing document on its website ahead
of its congress next week.  It is understood that the document is being
circulated in preparation for a motion by the ANC youth league in support of
Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe.

      In the document, the ANC youth league attacks Zimbabwe's oppostion,
the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), accusing it of being a puppet
party of the British and Australian governments, an allegation that has
often been repeated by Mugabe himself.

      "Perhaps because we sought to respect some rules of diplomacy, we, the
ANC Youth League, have avoided speaking our mind about the true intentions
of those who have criticized our government's policies towards Zimbabwe. In
the process, lies and distortions have been told about the true story of
Zimbabwe," reads the document.

      "What went wrong between President Mugabe on the one hand, and Tony
(Blair) and John (Howard) on the other, is that he, President Mugabe,
committed the cardinal sin of challenging white property rights. Secondly,
to add insult to injury during the commission of the sin, some white people
died or were injured."

      "Thirdly, President Mugabe had the cheek to act in defiance of the
wishes of the UK/Australia section of the white Commonwealth, and its
supporters. And fourth, he and his friends did not allow the Zimbabwe
friends of Tony and John, including the kith-and-kin of the latter, to take
power," the youth league adds in reference to the MDC.

      The MDC and other civic groups reacted angrily to the statement.  They
view it as being seriously flawed and are particularly disappointed that it
should come at a time when Zimbabweans are trying to garner support from
South Africans by explaining to them that the real victims of Mugabe's
policies are black Zimbabweans and not whites as portrayed in the media.

      Lovemore Madhuku, chairman of Zimbabwe's National Constitutional
Assembly (NCA), a coalition of civic groups, dismissed the ANC youth
league's stance as the "stupid rantings of a coterie  of people who don't
know what they are talking about".

      "To say they are completely out of touch with the Zimbabwe situation
is an understatement," said Madhuku.

      He said the ANC youth league was fully aware of human rights abuses in
Zimbabwe and its statement only reflected the true agenda of their party,
which agenda was not in the interests of the Zimbabwean people.

      Madhuku said it was no longer the case that South Africans did not
know of 'the suffering of the Zimbabwean people at the hands of the Mugabe
regime'. Those who turned a blind eye on Mugabe's abuses were simply driven
by sinister agendas, he said last night.

      He said it was unfortunate that the ANC youth league, which should
rather be influencing its government to take reasonable action to rein in
the Mugabe regime, was in fact taking the lead in showing "stupidity" on the
Zimbabwe question.

      "Maybe the net effect of all this is that the people of Zimbabwe
should stop taking the ANC seriously. It (the ANC) is simply an outrageous
organisation, which the oppressed people of Zimbabwe can hardly consider an
ally," charged Madhuku in an interview with ZimOnline.

      MDC spokesman Paul Themba Nyathi said it was unfortunate that the ANC
youth league was supporting tyranny and giving succour to a man (Mugabe) who
had caused the suffering of millions of blacks.

      "All the ANC needs to do is go to suburbs in South Africa and
interview thousands of  Zimbabwean refugees who have left Zimbabwe and have
been accepted in South Africa. They should talk to them and they will
probably discover that the suffering in Zimbabwe has nothing to do with Tony
Blair," said Nyathi.

      He said it was ironic that the ANC youth league was supporting Mugabe
yet a prominent South African, University of South Africa vice chancellor,
Barney Pityana, chaired  an African Union team which condemned human rights
abuses in Zimbabwe.

      The report of Pityana's team was tabled at the AU summit in Addis
Abbaba last month. It enraged the Zimbabwe government which accused
Pityana's team of being puppets of the British.

      The ANC youth league report  alleges Blair and Howard  are not
speaking the "truth" on Zimbabwe.

      "Their track record suggests that they are unlikely to tell us the
truth. Fortunately, all thinking persons know why the UK/Australia section
of the white Commonwealth has behaved the way it has done over Zimbabwe."

      "This has nothing whatsoever to do with democracy and human rights. It
has nothing whatsoever to do with newfound love for the black people of
Zimbabwe. It has everything to do with an old loyalty to those Zimbabweans
who are seen and described by this section of the white Commonwealth as
their kith-and kin. It has everything to do with racism," the youth  league
says, accusing the MDC of being a creation of the British and the

      Nyathi said most of the ANC youth league's statements including its
allegations that the MDC is a creation of the British did not need to be
dignified by being afforded a response. ZimOnline

Back to the Top
Back to Index

Zim Online

Air Zimbabwe losing its wings - and other parts
Tues 10 August 2004

      HARARE  - Air Zimbabwe has been fleeced of spare parts worth more than
$3 billion (US$ 200 million at unofficial exchange rate) in a scam involving
senior managers at the national airline, ZimOnline has established.

      Investigations show that in the last six months alone at least 332
various components were stripped from the state carrier's ageing planes and
sent out of the country, ostensibly for repairs.

      The parts can not be accounted for because they were allegedly sold by
senior managers who are said to have set up a thriving racket selling air
craft spares to foreign dealers.

      Air Zimbabwe acting managing director Tendai Mujuru refused to speak
on the matter saying, "I am sorry I cannot help you with that kind of
information. I do not comment on anything to do with Air Zimbabwe. Please
give me time to do my work. I cannot comment on things that newspapers want
to write on."

      Documents shown to ZimOnline outlined how the airline's avionics
department would routinely send aircraft components for repairs to Europe
and other countries in Africa.

      A number of these were never returned to Air Zimbabwe because they
were allegedly sold by the repair companies when the airline failed to pay.
In most cases the parts vanished.

      A senior manager at Air Zimbabwe,  who spoke on condition he was not
named, said: 'Top managers created their brief case companies that acted as
agents for the outside repairing companies. On paper, the companies appear
reputable and big, giving false physical addresses. Yet when one visits the
place, you would only discover that it is a house belonging to one of the
managers or a relative.'

      Several other aircraft parts which were stockpiled in Dubai and Malawi
were lost when Air Zimbabwe closed its branches in the two countries, the
manager said.

      Debt-ridden Air Zimbabwe has long been dogged by allegations of
mismanagement, money laundering and theft.

      At independence in 1980 Air Zimbabwe had 15 planes. Today, three
remain functional with the rest sitting dilapidated and stripped of almost
all usable parts.

      A probe by Parliament's Portfolio Committee on Transport and
Communication earlier this year highlighted deepening corruption at the
national flag carrier.

      The chairman of the committee, Silas Mangono, said, "There were a lot
of shady deals which were going on at the airline when it came to the
importation of spares, repairs of aircraft. There were some people
benefiting from the transactions going on."

      "We also recommended that the practice must stop forthwith and that
the airline must operate along professional lines."

      Mangono said he expected the government as the owner of the airline to
act on the recommendations of his committee.

      Transport Minister Chris Mushohwe, under whose portfolio Air Zimbabwe
falls, could not be reached to establish when he expected Parliament's
recommendations to be implemented. ZimOnline
Back to the Top
Back to Index

Zim Online

'Clear association between violations of human rights and elections' ­
Torture Report
Tues 10 August 2004

      JOHANNESBURG - An international human rights organisation has accused
Zimbabwe's state security agencies of direct involvement in the perpetration
of gross human rights violations including torture and organised violence
against opponents of President Robert Mugabe.

      The organisation, REDRESS, said in a report released at festivities to
mark South Africa's Women's Day yesterday, that Zimbabwe required the
setting up of a Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Commission to oversee the
payment of reparations to victims of torture  in Zimbabwe.

      REDRESS warned that incidents of torture mainly against opponents of
the government would increase ahead of the parliamentary elections next

      The human rights body, which investigates torture  in various parts of
the world, implored the international community to take all necessary steps
to forestall torture and other acts of political violence and intimidation
in Zimbabwe as part of the election campaign.

      The report, compiled with the help of the Human Rights NGO Forum in
Zimbabwe, documents thousands of incidents of torture.

      It concludes that torture and political violence in Zimbabwe represent
a strategic and systematic campaign against opponents of
      the government iand not isolated happenings.

      It disputes claims by Mugabe and the government of South Africa that
most of the incidents of violence in Zimbabwe are related to ongoing
developments on commercial farms where white farmers are being forcibly
evicted to make way for blacks.

      "The analysis clearly indicates that human rights violations in
Zimbabwe over this period cannot be described as random acts of political
violence between political parties, nor as clashes due to problems over
land," the report said. "The strongest association is between human rights
violations and elections."

      REDRESS  said there was little evidence that the Zimbabwe government
intended to create a climate in which free and fair elections could take
place next year. Consequently there was serious concern that patterns of
violence and torture would be repeated in the months leading to the upcoming

      The report noted that although a report by the African Commission on
Human and Peoples' Rights presented at the African Union  summit in Ethiopia
last month had recommended the opening of democratic space in Zimbabwe, the
Mugabe government was doing exactly the opposite.

      Although supporters of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change
(MDC) were involved in perpetrating political violence, the report noted
such incidents were negligable at less than one percent. Government
supporters were involved in perpetrating most of the political violence.

      The report specifically mentions the case of a senior police officer,
Chief Inspector Henry Dowa,  as having been implicated in widespread reports
of torture in Zimbabwe. Dowa was seconded to the Zimbabwean contingent of
police officers serving in Kosovo.  Attempts were made to have the United
Nations prosecute him for his involvement with torture in Zimbabwe. The
report said the UN flatly refused to do that.

      The world body instead opted to return him to Zimbabwe with a request
that Zimbabwe authorities undertake "a prompt and full  investigation into
the allegations against him with a view to his possible prosecution."

      This has not happened, much to the chagrin of REDRESS and other human
rights organisations. ZimOnline

Back to the Top
Back to Index

Zim Online

Zimbabwean women seek support from South African sisters
Tues 10 August 2004

      JOHANNESBURG - Zimbabwean women are in Johannesburg to enlist the
support of their sisters in South Africa. They want them to lobby President
Thabo Mbeki to drop his, as they say,  continued support of  President
Robert Mugabe and instead help Zimbabwean people in re-gaining their

      The Zimbabwean women, representing Women of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA),
flew into the city to  join South African women in celebrating Women's Day

      The organisation says it has been banned for two years from
organising festivities marking International Women's Day on March 8.

      WOZA members have been arrested on several occassions. In a play,
performed during the celebrations yesterday, they showed  the harsh
treatment  their leaders have  received while in jail, incarcerated in tiny
filthy cells with no flushing toilets. In winter they had to sleep on their
sides and close to each other to generate warmth after being forced to

      Last month, Zimbabwe police stormed the WOZA head office in  Harare
saying they were looking for weapons of war, subversive materials and
inflammatory pamphlets meant to "incite the overthrow" of Mugabe's

      WOZA spokesperson Jenni Williams told hundreds of women at the
gathering that the police had found nothing. "All they found were copies of
our newsletter and our scarves advertising our logo," said Williams. "Still
they proceeded to burn copies of the newsletter and later arrested 73

      Williams said the Zimbabwean women had come to South Africa as part of
their mission to build a community of sisterhood in African countries to
apply pressure for change in Zimbabwe.

      She accused Mugabe of having forgotten that "he rented his place on
earth for at least nine months while in his mothers womb". Williams said
Mugabe's late mother would most  probably not have approved the crimes being
committed by Mugabe's  youth militia against women in Zimbabwe.

      Williams, who has been jailed 13 times in Zimbabwe, said Mugabe had
scuppered the activities of her organisation because he  was "afraid of the
power of the breast". She said Mugabe knew very well the power of women in
mobilising against his rule if they chose to do that.

      Mrs Masechaba Mabaso, the founder of South Africa's
Inter-denominational Women's Prayer League formed in 1986 to help promote
peace in communities, lamented the much publicised extravagance of Mugabe's
wife, Grace, while the rest of Zimbabwean women suffered.

      "Mugabe is enjoying life with his young wife who is well known for her
plush dresses while he turns a blind eye to the suffering of the Zimbabwean
women.. We must help Zimbabwean women put a stop to his abuses," said
Mabaso. She was among the women who led the the march to the Union Buildings
in Pretoria 48 years ago in defiance of apartheid which is now commemorated
as Women's Day in South Africa. ZimOnline

Back to the Top
Back to Index

Zim Online

Arrested trade unionists out on bail
Tues 10 August 2004

      GWERU -  Four top trade union officials arrested here by police last
Thursday were on Monday freed on $200 000 bail each.

      Magistrate Johnson Butcher ordered Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Union
(ZCTU) secretary general Wellington Chibhebhe, Southern African Trade Union
Coordinating Council Lucia Matibenga, as well as ZCTU officials Timothy
Kondo and Sam Machinda to reappear in court for trial on September 8.

      The four, who are being charged with contravening the Public Order and
Security Act, were arrested while addressing a labour workshop.

      Under the act Zimbabweans must first seek police permission before
gathering to discuss politics.

      The four union officials were meeting workers to discuss taxation,
collective bargaining and the resolutions of the International Labour
Organisation conference held in Geneva in June.

      Over the weekend, the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions
(ICFTU) wrote to President Robert Mugabe protesting the arrest of the labour
officials and demanding that charges against them be dropped.

      The ICFTU represents 151 million workers through its 233 affiliated
national trade unions in 152 countries and territories. ZimOnline
Back to the Top
Back to Index

New Zimbabwe

Makwavarara: 'I was always Zanu PF'

By Staff Reporter
Last updated: 08/10/2004 09:57:55
SEKESAI Makwavarara, the acting Harare mayor has announced what you already
knew: "I was born in Zanu-PF and grew up in Zanu-PF. I had just strayed, but
now I am back home."

Makwavarara was expelled from the opposition Movement for Democratic Change
(MDC) after she defied guidelines from the party leadership. She was elected
Ward 29 councillor in Mabvuku on an MDC ticket.

After her expulsion, she immediately established close personal relations
with Ignatius Chombo, the Local Government minister who has disrupted the
running of the council and banned council meetings -- the only way the
councillors can remove Makwavarara.

MDC vice president Gibson Sibanda recently denounced her as an infiltrator.
"She was never one of us," Sibanda who chairs the MDC's national
disciplinary committee which expelled her told New

Makwavarara was among senior Zanu PF officials who attended a Heroes' Day
ceremony at the Heroes Acre on Monday. She came dressed in full Zanu PF

The MDC has mooted withdrawing all its Harare councillors after 13 of them
were dismissed by government last week. The overwhelmingly elected Harare
mayor Elias Mudzuri has been expelled on the orders of President Robert
Mugabe to open space for Makwavarara.

The MDC sees no point of having its councillors at Town House after the
government fired Mudzuri and barred the city from holding full council

The MDC has been quietly hoping that council meetings would be resumed,
paving the way for a no confidence in Makwavarara and electing a new deputy
mayor to regain control of Town House.

MDC Local Government secretary Jobert Mudzumwe said a committee would soon
be set up to decide the way forward. In total, 19 MDC councillors have been
fired by Chombo since the opposition shocked Zanu PF out of its entrenched
positions in urban areas.

Back to the Top
Back to Index

Offering Sweets in Friendship

Mmegi/The Reporter (Gaborone)

August 8, 2004
Posted to the web August 9, 2004

Sandy Grant

I was in Vic Falls last week for what turned out to be a fascinating
regional elections meeting organised, as it turned out, to enable
representatives of ZANU-PF and the MDC to sit together with others and to
share views. It may not sound too much but that this listening and talking
process did occur does represent a measure of desperately needed hope for

All SADC countries need a peaceful, stable and prosperous Zimbabwe. This one
conference not only provided a reminder to me of the increasingly major role
that Zimbabwe can play in the region in the future, but how greatly it has
suffered in the past. Go through the list of SADC member countries and it is
only this country and Tanzania, which have not experienced major trauma of
one kind or another. Rightly therefore, the meeting was reminded of the
enormous progress the region has made in recent years in achieving peace,
democracy and a measure of good governance. Neither East, West or North
Africa have achieved anything comparable. I have been greatly privileged in
the last few years to attend other regional conferences, to have observed
elections in Malawi and Swaziland and to have gained the friendship of
colleagues from there, from Lesotho, Zanzibar and elsewhere.

But it was the coming back from Vic Falls which was interesting. Travel by
air can be a de-humanising, forced food process. But on this occasion, I
happened to meet Frances Combs at the Johannesburg Airport and because her
flight to Atlanta left earlier than mine to Gaborone, I sat with her at Gate
1. At first we were alone, sitting below a worrying notice which suggested
that the next departure there was to Hong Kong. Slowly others arrived and
took their place in the available frozen silence seats. But for some odd
reason, these 20 or so assorted people were different. They talked to each
other in Arabic - I had to ask - and to others. There were jokes and an
extraordinary sense of coming together. Then, one of the Atlanta travellers,
an elderly man, passed down the one line of seated people and then the
opposite other, offering each a sweet. Muslim, Christian, Arab, Indian,
Caucasian - it didn't seem to matter. Who knows who at an airport? Or want
to know? And then came an airport official to say that all those Atlanta
bound, men and women, would have to go through an additional security check,
remove their shoes and perhaps everything else and be thoroughly screened.
The announcement merely served to increase the amusement and that
extraordinary sense of coming together. In many years of travel and
airports, I have not previously experienced anything remotely like this
powerful sense of human goodness. Why it evidenced itself in Johannesburg
International Airport, at Gate 1 on a particular day and a particular
flight, I have not the slightest idea. But it happened. Go there tomorrow
and it may be, as usual, different - processed and withdrawn into oneself,

Not so long ago, Jan Smuts, was an ugly, hostile, intimidating and
frightening place. Clearly, the insistence of that speaker at the Vic Falls
conference is correct. The region has indeed made enormous strides in these
last few years and a measure of that achievement could well be the change
that has occurred at the Johannesburg Airport. Yesterday, a place where the
varied people of the world were routinely humiliated; today one where those
same people enjoyed companionship and an elderly man, offered a friendship
sweet to his unknown, never seen before, thinking and believing differently,
co-travellers and friends. A moment to remember and treasure. And to know
how hugely we have all achieved.
Back to the Top
Back to Index