Don't tone down report on Zimbabwe, AU told
August 21, 2003
By Brian Latham
Human Rights NGO Forum, a coalition of human rights organisations, is to
approach African Union Human Rights commissioner Barney Pityana to ask that
he release his report on the country.
The forum said it would also
appeal to the UN to send a special envoy to Zimbabwe to gauge the level of
state-sponsored violence and human rights abuses.
Head of the
Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum Albert Musarurwa said: "We'll petition the
African human rights commissioner who came to Zimbabwe last year to release
his mission's findings because we know the document is ready."
Musarurwa, echoing increasing scepticism about African politicians
in Zimbabwe, said he wanted to see a report that had not been toned down.
"We suspect the AU wants to tone it down so that a member state
isn't embarrassed. But we want it released in its raw form."
Zimbabwean human rights activists and opposition party
members are dismissive of attempts to underplay state-sponsored human rights
abuses in the troubled country.
Musarurwa also vowed that
his organisation would petition the UN next week. "We've met to finalise the
modalities of sending our request and that should be done next week," he said
of a request to send a UN human rights envoy to Zimbabwe.
Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum also called for the disbandment of Zanu-PF's
youth militia, the so-called Green Bombers, who are blamed for much of the
violence and intimidation in the country.
And human rights
organisation ZimRights head Arnold Tsunga said: "It is a sad reality that,
despite 23 years of independence, Zimbabweans still cannot fully enjoy the
rights of full sovereignty, such as the right to vote or be voted into public
office without attracting the risk of organised violence against them." -
Independent Foreign Service
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Zimbabwean government and mining executives have held an emergency meeting in
the midst of the current economic crisis in a bid to save the declining
mining sector from collapse. Mines Minister Edward Chindori-Chininga met
Chamber of Mines officials in Harare on Tuesday to work out a plan to rescue
the troubled sector, which has seen rapid deterioration over the past two
Chamber CEO David Murangari confirmed the meeting was held but
would not disclose the details, saying they were confidential.
but we made an undertaking not to reveal the details of the meeting. The
issues we discussed are sensitive and we won't disclose them," he
However, sources close to the talks said Chindori-Chininga and
mining executives had discussed measures to save the key economic sector
The meeting focused on the government's policies on the
mining sector, the exchange rate, the foreign currency crisis, fuel and power
shortages and spiralling inflation.
Zimbabwe's mining shrank 7,1% last
year, and the situation is expected to get worse this year.
of mines have either closed down or reduced operations, while new projects
have been put on hold.
Whereas in 1996 the mining sector contributed 4,5%
to the gross domestic product (GDP), the industry's GDP contribution dropped
to 3,9% in 2001 and 1,45% last year.
Zimbabwe's current GDP is about
3,7bn, two-thirds the size it was in 1998 when it stood at 5,4bn. The economy
contracted 11,9% last year and it is expected to contract by 7,2% this
The sector's foreign-exchange earning capacity has also fallen from
more than 30% of the total net proceeds in recent years to
Minerals that recorded decreases in volumes last year include gold,
black granite, coal, chromate, cobalt, graphite, iron ore, iron pyrites,
lithium minerals, magnesite and nickel.
Zimbabwe produces base metals,
platinum group metals, industrial metal and energy minerals.
diamond and coal-bed methane reserves.
But gold production has been the
worst affected due to the support price scheme that always lagged behind
operating costs, creating cash-flow problems for producers.
shortage of foreign currency and the inefficiency of the gold pool facility
set up to help companies acquire inputs has negatively impacted
Gold production is expected to tumble another 27,6% to
11 tons this year and reach its lowest level in 23 years.
the mining sector are a reflection of the broader economic situation.
By Cyril Zenda Staff
Reporter 8/21/2003 9:56:44 AM (GMT +2)
THE momentum on the
widely hoped for negotiated settlement to the country’s economic and
political crisis has slowed down as it appears increasingly likely that the
negotiating process is headed for the deep freeze, with ZANU PF heavyweights
this week indicating that they are not keen on talks.
secretary for information Nathan Shamuyarira yesterday told The Financial
Gazette, in what could be a crushing blow to the church initiative, that
there was no dialogue expected soon between ZANU PF and the Movement for
Democratic Change (MDC), now desperate for a negotiated settlement to resolve
the country’s political crisis that has rendered thousands
"You are just bothering us, but the truth is that there
are no talks at all," Shamuyarira said.
This comes in the wake
of a recent statement by President Robert Mugabe that the MDC should repent
first before it expects to work with the government while ZANU PF party
chairman John Nkomo said the ruling party was not in anyway in hurry to
engage the opposition.
The much-talked about talks had, for the
past four weeks, caught the imagination of the nation and the international
community, with the media indulging in an orgy of speculation about
Zimbabwe’s political future after the now stalled talks.
couple of weeks ago, it looked like the feuding political parties were within
the cusp of agreeing an agenda for the long-awaited talks.
latest development, a bruising setback to the church-backed initiative,
political commentators said, meant that disillusioned Zimbabweans’
expectations had run way ahead of what the ruling ZANU PF and MDC could
deliver. The development would also underscore a significant triumph for the
hawks, who have been throwing spanners into the talks.
situation is aggravated by the fact that in one of the saga’s latest and
greatest twists, the Southern African region has since played into the hands
of ZANU PF by dismissing the MDC, which was hoping to tap into a rich and
deep well of disenchantment against a background of a faltering economy, as a
western- backed party meant to effect regime change in Zimbabwe.
This would see ZANU PF stiffening its hands, one observer said, adding that
even South African President Thabo Mbeki, who has been at the sharp edge of
the delicate arbitrage to find a negotiated settlement to
Zimbabwe’s political impasse, would find it difficult to persuade ZANU PF to
come to the negotiating table.
The ruling party, which stands
accused of time-buying tactics, would now exploit the power of incumbency for
its own benefit.
On Monday, representatives from the Zimbabwe
Council of Churches, the Evangelical Fellowship of Zimbabwe and the Catholic
Bishops’ Conference of Zimbabwe waited in vain for ZANU PF to come forward
with its position paper.
Retired chief air marshal and ZANU PF’s
politburo member, Josiah Tungamirai, was surprised that there could even be
talks between the two feuding political parties.
Tungamirai, a ZANU PF founding member: "It’s news to me that there are going
to be any talks. We have not discussed the possibility of talks with the MDC.
Where are they going to meet and discuss all these burning issues? If the
masses want talks then let it be, but so far the situation hasn’t
MDC secretary-general Welshman Ncube said although it was
correct that there were no official talks at the moment, ZANU PF should come
clean on whether it is ruling out the possibility of any talks at
"It is common cause that there are no talks at the moment, but
there are preparations for talks," Ncube, who is also the legislator for
Bulawayo North-East said.
"The question is whether ZANU PF is
willing to take part or not. If they are saying there will be no talks, then
they should say it directly so that we can respond."
contrary, Ncube’s colleague, the Member of Parliament for Harare South
Gabriel Chaibva did not mince his words.
"To hell with talks about
talks," he said angrily. "These people don’t want to talk."
Before Mugabe’s utterances at the national shrine on this year’s Heroes Day,
Shamuyarira was on record as advocating for dialogue to resolve the country’s
problems. However, he echoed Mugabe’s sentiments that for dialogue to resume,
the MDC must recognise Mugabe as the legitimate head of state — a proposal
rejected by the opposition.
Morgan Tsvangirai, the MDC leader who
is charged with high treason for allegedly plotting to assassinate Mugabe,
has maintained his court challenge to Mugabe’s re-election. The charge
carries a death penalty or life imprisonment if convicted.
Efforts to get comment from the church leaders negotiating for dialogue
proved fruitless as they could not be reached for comment.
Bakili Muluzi, a key broker in Zimbabwe’s boiling political crisis, has
hinted at the formation of a government of national unity between the feuding
ZANU PF and the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC).
visited Zimbabwe in May this year together with presidents Thabo Mbeki of
South African and Olesugun Obasanjo of Nigeria told the London-based
NewAfrican magazine that the three leaders had asked President Robert Mugabe
about the possibility of a coalition between his party and
"President Mugabe was magnanimous enough to bring
Joshua Nkomo (the late former leader of PF ZAPU) into government. And that
ended the war. What we said to President Mugabe when we went there was why
don’t you do the same, to bring tension down? And I think it is going to
happen," he said.
Muluzi said the donor community had stopped
giving aid to Zimbabwe, with some countries slapping economic sanctions on
the southern African nation.
This has resulted in considerable
devaluation of the Zimbabwe dollar, high inflation and untold suffering among
the country’s 13 million people.
"So we said, look why don’t we
help our brothers in Zimbabwe, first to encourage internal dialogue between
the government and the opposition. And secondly, if possible, once dialogue
is achieved why don’t we encourage a government of national unity like I did
here in Malawi. I brought the opposition into government, including those who
were very critical of my government."
African Union leaders,
Muluzi said, should play a more pivotal role in solving Zimbabwe’s problems.
Those from outside the union should consult members of the former
Organisation of African Union before taking a position on
"I can pick up this telephone here and call President
Mugabe right now, and have a straight talk with him, and tell him where he is
"But to always criticise him, and even try to
demonise him as the worst country in Africa, he will feel that you are doing
so because he is poor, and therefore oppressed," the Malawian president was
"So I think the approach should change. It is not
helpful to use all this unilateralist approach."
leader also launched a broadside against the manner the Zimbabwean government
had handled the land reform.
"…In fact, all of us in the region
supported the land programme because there is no freedom without land. And in
Zimbabwe, there was no equitable distribution of wealth," he was quoted
"What was wrong in Zimbabwe was the way they did it, by
violence; for instance, when people were killed. That we didn’t support. I
was the chairman of the SADC (Southern African Development Community) then,
and I said this cannot go on.
"The issue of land, yes, even in
Malawi we are going through land reform programme, not necessarily to go
through the same path like Zimbabwe, no …."
The land reform,
which was spearheaded by the veterans of Zimbabwe’s liberation war, resulted
in some commercial farmers and workers losing their lives.
of the perpetrators of the violence have not been brought before the law, a
situation that unnerved investors.
Bulawayo Bureau Chief 8/21/2003 10:04:02 AM (GMT +2)
beleaguered National Railways of Zimbabwe (NRZ) is in critical need of $7
billion and US$50 000 in foreign currency to steer its faltering operations
out of the current crisis, an study commissioned by its management has
A fresh injection of working capital would enable the
perennial loss-making parastatal move at least 8 million tonnes of projected
traffic by the end of this year.
The revelations, contained in
documents seen by this newspaper, come at a time when the NRZ is failing to
cope with the increase in the volume of imports coming into the country
despite stretching its capacity to the limit.
Failure to raise
the much-needed funds would result in NRZ moving traffic of less than 6
million tonnes by December this year, threatening further the viability of a
public institution that has been a victim of incessant train crashes caused
by a dilapidated telecommunications system, wagons, coaches and other vital
The study, undertaken between March and April this
year, said the envisaged capital injection was a contingency measure to boost
capacity at the parastatal, reeling from crippling financial and human
The study has "established that the cash
injection immediately required to keep the organisation afloat up to the end
of the year 2003 was $7 billion in local currency and advancement of US$50
000 for the repair services and rehabilitation of rolling stock and
"Lack of maintenance and repair of the
infrastructure, rolling stock, plant and equipment due to shortages of
working capital and foreign currency have been major causes of the decline of
the organisation’s capacity," read part of the study.
capacity has been declining since 1990 when the organisation had the
capability to move 18.5 million net tonnes of traffic per annum. Its capacity
fell to 12.5 million net tonnes by 1998.
Last year traffic moved by
the wounded railway entity averaged 9 million net tonnes. If the current
trend of decline is not arrested, capacity could fall to 6 million or less
net tonnes by next year.
The study blamed the decline in NRZ’s
capacity on the worsening availability of locomotives and wagons. A large
number of these have been grounded due to shortage of spares.
The motive power and wagons available by the end of 2002 was too
far stretched to move the traffic on offer. Thus the current wagon
and locomotive utilisation is below 50 percent of the corporate target and
this has resulted in long transit times and extended depot
The study adds: "The problem is compounded by the
perennial low performance of the major economic sectors comprising
agriculture, mining, industrial and conveyance of transit traffic. The
declining economic sector activity has also resulted in high interest rates,
inflation and foreign currency shortages."
measures were being sought and implemented, theft and vandalism of essential
on-line equipment, which seem to continue unabated, is negating all efforts
to ensure continued and uninterrupted operations.
due to signalling and telecommunication disruptions have reached
unprecedented proportions in the last five years. This has resulted in
changes being made to train working methods, which have considerably reduced
the line capacity of most sections by 50 percent.
as the major shareholder, NRZ management, major rail users and other
stakeholders are understood to have drawn up plans to rescue the NRZ from the
current crisis and reposition it as a viable entity.
The study also
noted that there was need for the government to finalise the restructuring of
the institution, which has been on the drawing board for a long time. The
current restructuring thrust will entail adoption and implementation of a
national transport policy to ensure modal equity as well as govern operations
of the new entities.
NRZ should also be exempted from the payment
of duty on capital equipment for the rail operations.
applied to government for a waiver on duty paid for hired locomotives and is
still waiting for a response," the study adds.
The NRZ normally
hires locomotives from contiguous railways, especially Botswana Railways, to
augment its depleted fleet. It also entered into an arrangement with
contiguous railways to have their locomotives pull traffic across the borders
to Bulawayo and Thompson Junction in the case of Botswana and Zambia
The study further proposed to have NRZ being allowed to
procure spares using the current account with contiguous
An application to use the balance owed to NRZ by
contiguous railways to purchase spares was submitted to the Reserve Bank of
Zimbabwe last year. It was not possible to immediately verify if the RBZ had
ACTING Reserve Bank
of Zimbabwe (RBZ) governor Charles Chikaura was this week taken to task for
hurrying the introduction of travellers’ cheques (TCs) to rein in the
four-month long cash crunch.
Chikaura, who was accompanied by the
bank’s director of financial markets, Stuart Kufeni, had to parry a barrage
of needling questions from business executives who were concerned that the
RBZ was consulting key stakeholders only now when the TCs were already in
The business community, which is refusing to accept
the TCs, has come under heavy pressure from clients who want it to recognise
the instruments as legal purchasing tender.
major retailers in the city, wholesalers, hoteliers, restaurants, commercial
banks, building societies and the Bulawayo City Council, attended the
meeting, which was not open to the press.
Sources privy to
details of the long-day meeting told The Financial Gazette that fears were
abound that fake TCs could cost businesses, which are still familiarising
themselves with the new legal tender, dearly.
Banks are also taking
up to seven days to clear the travellers’ cheques, which are supposed to be
accepted as ready cash.
Officials from the RBZ however, said
discussions were underway with banks to reduce the clearing period on
"We raised concern over the fact that customers are cashing
high domination travellers cheques to raise cash, cash which we do not
have," said a city retailer, who spoke on condition of
"Some business people complained bitterly that once they
have accepted the travellers’ cheques, they only got value for the TCs after
about seven days. This, the governor was told, did not augur well for
businesses reeling from the present harsh economic environment," added a
local bank executive.
Christopher Shava, the acting manager for the
RBZ Bulawayo office, confirmed that his bosses had met with the local
business community to drum-up support for the TCs introduced early this
month. He was however, reluctant to discuss details of the
Shava said: "Yes, the acting governor met the local
business people, but I can’t comment any further except that it was a
roadshow to meet stakeholders over the recently introduced travellers’
A hotelier who also attended the meeting said it was
highlighted to the acting RBZ boss that customers were bringing unsigned TCs,
making it difficult for business to accept them.
In a statement
issued to The Financial Gazette, the RBZ said the concerns raised in Bulawayo
were being addressed.
"This situation has now been rectified with
the introduction of lower denominations of $1 000, $5 000, $10 000 and $20
000. The public is therefore urged to use appropriate denominations of TCs in
their transactions to reduce the amount of change in cash," said the
The RBZ also noted that some banks were charging fees for
processing TCs, discouraging the public from using the new monetary legal
instruments because of the added cost to bearers.
Bank has been empowered through a recent Statutory Instrument 171 0f 2003 on
Promotion of Banking Transactions Regulations, under the Presidential Powers
to determine levels of charges on transactions by banks, including
"The Bank’s position is that no charges should be levied on
the TCs. However, if any charges are to be levied, they should be minimal
and justified. This matter is still under discussion between the Reserve
Bank and the Bankers Association (of Zimbabwe)."
Cyril Zenda Staff
Reporter 8/21/2003 10:06:21 AM (GMT +2)
THE crucial talks
between the ruling ZANU PF and the opposition Movement for Democratic Change
(MDC) to break the political impasse that is badly hurting the economy could
take much longer to kick off as the ruling party does not seem too keen on a
Political commentators were this week
unanimous that utterances by the ruling party stalwarts over the past couple
of weeks smacked of reluctance on the part of Zanu (PF) to engage in dialogue
with the opposition. The ruling party’s reluctance to engage the MDC remained
the logjam holding back the epoch-defining talks that could usher in a new
This comes at a time when church leaders who are
leading the talks seem to be getting difficulties in getting the ruling party
to agree to come to the negotiating table amid media reports saying the party
was not in any hurry to engage the opposition in dialogue.
Heroes Day last week, President Robert Mugabe, as per tradition, digressed
from his prepared speech to launch a veiled attack on the MDC whom he
described as "the enemies of Zimbabwe" and whom his party will not talk to
until they repent.
This, the analysts said, was the official
position for the ruling party which has been fudging and prevaricating in its
preparations since the church-driven efforts to kick start the talks started
about a month ago.
At the weekend, ZANU PF national chairman John
Nkomo told the state media that his party was in no hurry to draft an agenda
for the talks and this week no ZANU PF official turned up for a preliminary
meeting planned between the party and the church leaders who are trying to
facilitate the dialogue.
"There is nothing that is going to
happen in the near future," said Lovemore Madhuku, University of Zimbabwe law
lecturer and chairman of the National Constitutional Assembly
"In fact nothing significant has been happening all along,
it’s only that the talks were blown out of proportion by the
"We might not see any talks taking off anytime soon
especially after Mugabe’s utterances at the Heroes Acre last week,"
University of Zimbabwe political science lecturer Joseph Kurebwa
"Nothing may happen for some time as ZANU PF expect MDC to do
certain things to show that they are indeed repenting, something like calling
on the international community to ease sanctions on Zimbabwe which ZANU PF
believe are a result of an international campaign by the MDC," Kurebwa
After months of a tense political stand off resulting from
Mugabe’s controversial re-election last year, the MDC last month announced
that they had decided to put the interest of the country before anything else
hence they were going to abandon their confrontational approach and engage
ZANU PF in dialogue.
However, since then ZANU PF has not made
any serious effort to requite the opposition party’s overtures, instead
setting debasing terms for the opposition party to meet before any dialogue
"ZANU PF has never been interested in the talks in the
first place, they wanted them when they thought that they could use them as a
bait to destroy the MDC, but it now seems like they have decided to destroy
the MDC by dividing Welshman (Ncube) and Morgan (Tsvangirai)," Madhuku said.
"They (ZANU PF) do not want to talk to a strong opposition party so they have
to undermine it first before they can agree to any talks and this is what
they are doing now," Madhuku said.
Kurebwa however warned that
if ever the opposition leaders give in to the demands by ZANU PF, they risk
losing their power base as most opposition supporters do not want a solution
that involves ZANU PF in any way as they blame it for causing all the
economic problems facing Zimbabwe.
"There is a clear difference
between what is desirable and what is practicable. Talks might be desirable,
but I don’t think the conditions exist for a coalition government or a
government of national unity in Zimbabwe at the moment as there is nothing in
common between the two parties," Kurebwa said.
Chairman of the
Zimbabwe Integrated Programme (ZIP) Heneri Dzinotyiwei, said the main
obstacle to the talks was that there was no clarity on the
"The dialogue has not gathered any momentum because there
is no clarity as to what needs to be discussed and also possibly the question
of who has the mandate to drive these talks," Dzinotyiwei said.
He said although the church leaders seem to have made much progress
in precipitating the talks compared to regional African leaders who have had
a series of meetings without much to show, the African leaders still had
a role to play in the debate.
"The only person who is in a
position to influence the time-frame (of the talks) in any significant way is
President Mugabe himself and he needs some people with much clout to
pressurise him and that is where some SADC heads of states could come in,"
"When the church leaders see that ZANU PF is not
willing to move, they should retreat a bit and give regional leaders a chance
to talk to Mugabe. Dialogue should always remain on the agenda until a
solution to the economic crisis in this country is found."
analysts drew uncomfortable parallels between the ZANU PF-MDC talks and 1980s
ZANU PF’s talks with PF ZAPU which dragged for more than two years and
culminated in PF ZAPU being negotiated out of existence.
these 1985-87 negotiations several senior PF ZAPU leaders were either
languishing in prison, under home arrest, or had fled into exile as ZANU PF
moved in full force to crush the opposition party.
As it was the
party in control, ZANU PF did show any care about how the talks progressed,
as it boasted that it could still rule the country without any talks with the
opposition taking place.
Throughout these talks, hawks in ZANU PF
like the late Morris Nyagumbo and Enos Nkala repeatedly denied that there
were any talks going on between the ruling party and PF ZAPU, or rushed to
the Press at every opportunity to announce that the talks had collapsed. On
the other side, PF ZAPU leader Joshua Nkomo and the church leaders who
initiated the talks maintained that the talks were still on and the
opposition party continued to make more concessions until it was swallowed by
SENTIMENTS attributed to the ZANU PF national
chairman and Minister of Special Projects in the President’s Office, John
Nkomo, which intimated that the ruling party was in no hurry to set the
agenda for the proposed dialogue with the MDC, must have caught Zimbabweans
by surprise. The sentiments, which have not yet been denied and
published in the current issue of the Sunday Mail, are not only out of line
but come through in very bad taste. This is more so, coming as they did,
against the shrunken state of an economy crying out for radical surgery. If
the minister’s sentiments give a clear flavour of the priorities and
direction of the government, then God help us!
utterances give the impression that Nkomo, together with those of his ilk, do
not see anything wrong with the current state of affairs in Zimbabwe. They
seem bent on preserving the status-quo where ordinary Zimbabweans, who feel
the sharpest edge of the knife in the sweeping economic downturn, are
disillusioned with prolonged social depravation.
The tension and
frustration among Zimbabweans could literally be cut with a knife! But Nkomo
seems blind to all this.
A raft of professionals and skilled
manpower are fleeing the country in their droves against a background of
rising unemployment, there are unprecedented food shortages where the
one-time regional bread basket is stalked by famine and inflation rates
continue to hit record highs month in month out. Zimbabwe has for a long time
been a pariah state with a badly damaged international credibility, the
provision of social services has collapsed and debt levels have surged to
unprecedented and unsustainable heights. Not to mention a world first — the
crippling cash crisis. Zimbabweans can barely survive under these
It is because of this deteriorating situation that
has seen the once robust economy collapsing into a recessionary heap and the
resultant suffering of the country’s citizens that both the international
community and indeed Zimbabweans themselves have called for a negotiated
settlement to the political impasse pitting ZANU PF and the MDC. This formed
the basis upon which calls for dialogue were made and Nkomo should know
better. It was hoped that easing political tensions would usher in a new
order and help the country tread out of its difficulties.
minister’s statements, which betray political ineptitude, are therefore at
best unfortunate and at worst arrogant, reckless, irresponsible and
insensitive to the long suffering Zimbabweans. They are an insult to
our intelligence as a people. We wonder what planet the minister is
Nkomo, who until now had been given an imaginary personality
as one of that rare breed of sober, level-headed and thinking politicians, is
now exposed not only as a loose tongue but a provocative one
It is under the stewardship of Nkomo’s party, ZANU PF, that
the economy, known for its resilience, has been brought down to its knees.
And much as we do not believe in finger-pointing and the blame game, we
feel that Nkomo’s comments suggest that ZANU PF, known for scapegoating,
still refuses to take responsibility for the current mess. And that is the
height of arrogance that Zimbabwe could do without.
they do not feel the people’s pain and suffering, do these politicians have
an inkling as to the extent of the damage inflicted on the economy so far? We
think not because if they did, they would seek to expedite the negotiations
with a view to putting a fresh heart into the stricken economy.
The attitude of the likes of Nkomo is very unfortunate given that the revival
of the economy is something that will not be accomplished overnight. It could
take well over a decade to restore the economy to its pre-crisis levels.
EDITOR - So Patrick Chinamasa "who is supposed to lead the
governing party’s delegation to the "talks about talks", said the time is not
yet ripe for ZANU PF and the opposition MDC to resume dialogue" (Standard,
Frankly, I would not trust Chinamasa, like Jonathan Moyo, for
one moment, and for him to be leading the ZANU PF delegation gives me
no confidence at all.
ZANU PF continue to pursue their "Give
nothing. Take no prisoners" tactics as ever. "We are the strong party. ZANU
PF ndeyeropa (ZANU PF is a bloody party)".
I am seriously
beginning to agree with Pius Wakatama (Standard, 3/08) who suggests that the
MDC should quietly stand to one side and give ZANU PF enough rope to bring
the country down to the level where, as he writes, "Let them (ZANU PF) sort
out their own mess without (MDC) getting too close and being contaminated by
it. Let them face the wrath of the people".
Let it be said, too,
that I believe in justice, and appropriate punishment for crimes committed. I
do not hold with the concept of a "dignified and safe exit" for Mugabe;
interestingly, the longer ZANU PF put off meeting their opposition to resolve
the country’s problems the less and less likely it will be for that "safe
exit" to be agreed.
We await "the last straw", the final indignity,
the final shortage which will enrage the people and make them rise up
spontaneously and in righteous wrath against this
EDITOR — The black market is not so easy to eliminate.
It is even harder to eliminate if it has grown to the size that it has in
In Zimbabwe, everything that is short on the legal market
is available on the black market. We are talking of foreign currency, basic
food commodities, fuel and even money — to mention just a few. For most of
these commodities there is only one root cause; foreign currency shortage.
Once this is solved many others will be solved automatically.
Basically, the proposed and implemented solutions by the government are
short-term and not well formulated.
Although there is a great need
for resolving the cash crisis, let us not do so in haste otherwise what we
think are solutions could cost us more.
The solutions, especially
to the core one — foreign currency, should be long- term, not short-term. We
all know that there is always a rise after a fall. But have we reached the
base of the fall yet and how long are we going to stay down there when we get
there, given a background of comparatively low savings rate, sky rocketing
inflation, capital flight, high unemployment, business closures, and the
thriving black market?
The dual interest rate policy, a measure
that was put in place to at least ease the foreign currency situation, meant
to boost the export and productive industry sectors does not seem to fit well
with the intended plans. This is because of the funds that are being
misdirected, probably being channeled into the profitable sector — the black
So whatever solutions we have let’s make sure they are
long-term and well thought.
Major parties mustnot marginalise other interest
8/21/2003 9:53:03 AM (GMT +2)
So far, it
appears, the two major political parties in Zimbabwe are bent on assuming a
monopoly over what should be "national dialogue" and they seem to be involved
in an acrimonious "conspiracy" to marginalise other
The monopolistic approach of both ZANU PF and
the MDC to the talks has caused a lot of fear, insecurity, suspicion and
distrust in minority parties, civil society and other organised interests. As
I alluded to in the previous contributions, this is a rapture in our
transitional management paradigm and Zimbabweans must be wary of allowing
these two political parties to use the parliamentary way of bringing about a
new constitutional dispensation in Zimbabwe.
It is indisputable
that ZANU PF and MDC are the major players but exclusion of other organised
interests altogather is alienation of a significant section of the
electrorate and this compromises the credibility and legitimacy of the
The crisis in Zimbabwe is multi-faceted and as such it
requires a multi-pronged and holistic approach that encompasses various other
organised interests apart from the two major political parties.
In South Africa, although there was no popular participation in the sense of
involving ordinary persons via civic society in the actual negotiations, the
process did involve almost all the political parties and organisations in
that country as illustrated in the second part to this series.
am aware of the existence of a surviving school of thought which argues that
meanwhile pro-democracy forces must concentrate on political change and then
deal with the constitutional question afterwards.
This is a very
dangerous proposition because it has as its foundation trust and faith in the
The essence of democracy is to distrust those in
positions of influence and hence put in place structures that oblige them to
be transparent and accountable to the people.
Some voices have
expressed deep concern that we might be creating another monster in the MDC
if we don’t insist on comprehensive constitutional review as an intergral
part of the talks, and I share their underlying fear and
The constitutional question caused a lot of stir in the
South African negotiation process and is the major reason why CODESA ended in
While agreement on broad and general constitutional
principles was relatively easy to reach, there was fierce diagreement as soon
as an attempt was made to interpret the principles.
considered a principle by one party was perceived as unnecessary detail by
After CODESA had failed, minority interests continued to
express their fear of the emerging majority party and this fear, insecurity,
distrust and uncertainity on their part threatened to frustrate the
breakthrough that was so imminent.
Throughout, the ANC grouping
argued that only very broad and general principles could be negotiated
beforehand, while the details would be determined by an elected
The crux of the argument of the ANC
grouping was that the Constitutional Assembly should be bound as little as
possible by the non-elected Negotiating Forum.
standpoint is not difficult to understand in that politically the ANC was
confident that after the elections it would control the Constitutional
Assembly, with an absolute or even two-thirds majority.
according to this reasoning, the less the Constitutional Assembly was bound
by previous decisions the better.
On the other hand, the non-ANC
grouping, with parties such as the NP, DP, IFP and various bantustans
(homelands) such as those of Bophuthatswana and Ciskei) argued that the
Negotiating Council must negotiate as much detail as possible and that the
constitutional Assembly should be bound by the resolutions of the
From a political perspective, the non-ANC parties realised
that their share in the Constitutional Assembly could be relatively small (an
absolute minority) even to the extent that they could fail to attract the
"golden" one-third support needed to prevent a single party from unilaterally
drawing up the constitution or amending it.
Their strategy was
therefore that the Constitutional Assembly should be bound by resolutions
passed beforehand and together with this, that as many of the details as
possible of the new constitution should also be negotiated
This meant that the Constitutional Assembly would have
mainly a ratifying or legitimising function in respect of a Constitution
These issues are the main reason why CODESA
ended in deadlock.
It goes without saying that we, in Zimbabwe, are
also confronted by the same consitutional questions and the sooner we become
politically sober and clear-minded about them the better. Those who are
well-informed about the history of this country in the past four years will
know that, with some slight variation, these are the issues that led to the
parallel processes of the Constitutional Commission and the NCA, resulting in
the "NO" vote to the government-appointed Constitutional Commission’s draft
Essentially, from round-about 1997, the struggle in
Zimbabwe has been that of a new constitution.
The formation of
the MDC was born out of a realisation by various civic groups, most of which
were members of the NCA, of the need to increase "battle fronts" from which
to assault an arrogant regime.
So the MDC is a creature of the
constitutional reform movement and in fact, its leader was the inaugral
chairperson of the NCA while its current Secretary general was the NCA
However, in their wisdom or lack of it, the MDC seems
inclined towards sidelining other pro-democracy forces that have always
supported them, particularly the NCA, by belittling all that they
They have been possessed by another form of political
drunkenness to think that they can go it alone. The progressive movement
cannot afford to put too much faith in the MDC.
The same was
done to ZANU PF in 1980 and the results are there for everyone to
The MDC must know better that their party was formed in a
very broad-based, consultative and all-inclusive manner.
the party must always keep its partner organisations aboard. Any attempt to
do otherwise is striking at its own centre and naturally things will fall
The best way the MDC can get its tributary organisations
aboard is by insisting on comprehensive constitutional review as an intergral
part of the talks.
Legitimacy, which the party is so fond of
talking about goes beyond just elections.
their ZANU PF counterpart’s are also fond of talking about resides in the
people, who express how they want to be governed in a sovereign national
Our constitution is not sovereign because it is not
home-based and as such it does not reflect Zimbabwean values and
If the constitution is not sovereign then it is
illegitimate and in the same vein, any government that derives its political
authority from such a constitution is equally illegitimate. If you like, a
government that uses a colonial constitution also serves colonial interests
and is a front for capitalist and imperialist interests; all the talk about
sovereignity and independence is sheer rhethoric. How do you like that?
Interesting, isn’t it?
On a more serious note, the point is that
both ZANU PF and the MDC must consider the Constitutional question more
seriously. Both the Constitutional commission and NCA draft Constitutions
provide useful working documents at any future constitutional reform project.
Governing with the consent of the governed is the best stamp of legitmacy for
any government. "A constitution is a thing antecedent to a government, and a
government is only the creature of a constitution. A constitution is not the
act of a government, but of a people constituting a government, and a
government without a constitution, is power without a
In South Africa, more than two years were spent
wrestling with the question as to what could be negotiated by the unelected
Negotiating Council and what had to be left for the elected Constitutional
Assembly. Finally, on 2 July 1993 the Negotiating Council of the MPNP
accepted a package of 27 Constitutional principles with which the
transitional Constitution and all subsequent constitutions would have to
comply. This package was expanded on 17 November 1993 by an additional six
principles, bringing the total to thirty-three.
acceptance of the principles was seen as one of the first real breakthroughs
on the road to the establishment of a democratic constitution. The idea
behind the acceptance was to ensure that the major features of the future
democratic constitution would be guaranteed beforehand. The agreement reached
was that all future Constitutions and amendments had to comply with the
principles or they could be set aside. The Constitutional Court was given the
mandate and task of certifying whether a new constitution, provincial
constitutions, or amendments to the constitutions infact meet
the requirements of the constitutional principles.
acceptance of the Constitutional Principles was a unique event that emerged
from the crucible of negotiations and compromise. None of the parties had
foreseen that the negotiations would turn out the way they did. However, the
parties were obliged to investigate new possibilities as it became clear that
their opening moves were not acceptable to other parties. This is an
important lesson for the political payers in Zimbabwe. Gunuine dialogue and
negotiation is open-ended. Entrenched positions and prejudices will have to
be moderated and the outcome is unpredictable. The acceptance of the South
African Constitutional principle as was never partof a general philosophical
"plan" that the various parties had agreed to beforehand. Their origin was
largely coincidental and born of necessity. They were regarded as a win-win
compromise which on the one hand, offered security concerning the nature of
future constitutions and, on the other recognised the inherent competence of
the constitutional Assembly to write a constitution within the framework of
The South African principles were born out of
the general suspicion, fear and distrust the different parties had of one
another, and in partucular, the suspicion and fear of minority parties in
respect of the anticipated majority party. The constitutional principles are
accordingly underpinned by different interpretations and intentions. Some of
the parties saw them as an indespensable "insurance policy" and "guarantee"
while otheres regarded them as a forced compromise that in the medium and
long term could have a curtailing and inhibiting impact on the popular will.
What can not be taken away from these principles though is that they managed
to keep negotiations on track and history will judge whether or not they
were not just the proverbial sugar coating of a bitter pill.
It is my submission that the MDC and ZANU PF must, as a preliminary step,
come up with broad national objectives as to what the talks are intended to
achieve and should accommodate proposals and submissions from various other
stakeholders. This would assist in creating a broad national framework within
which dialogue should take place. This should be preceded by a proper process
and criteria of identifying the parties that will take part in the actual
Once there is agreement on these broad
national objectives then the negotiation process can start with the less
contentions issues on which agreement is easy to reach. Once the less
contentious issues are resolved that might also help in the resolution of the
more contentious issues because the negotiating parties would have known each
other for a while and their respective negotiating stances.
One of the most important factors contributing to the success of the MPNP was
the building of personal relationships and trust among the
various negotiators. Several factors facilitated this: working long hours,
often into the early hours of the morning, to meet a deadline, sharing the
danger and excitement of the attack by the Afrikaner Weerstandbeweging (AWB)
on the World Trade Centre in June, and finally, experiencing the sweet taste
of success when the various Bills were accepted by the Council and later
the Plenary, are just a few of these. The relationships kept the process
on course when external factors and forces were intend on destroying
it. Of-course none of this removed the serious differences in both process
and content among negotiators. Arguments were still heated at
times, participants still flexed political muscles on occasion, and sometimes
the drama could be felt and the atmosphere proverbially cut with a
Alternating chairpersons, selected from an appointed panel
of eight ensured that participants had trust in the impartiality of the
chair. The MPNP developed its own unwritten but very difinite "code of
conduct" A most important procedural factor was the constant flow of reports
and referrals between the Technical Committees and the Negotiating Council,
through the Planning Committee. This allowed for increased clarity and
consensus seeking. The MPNP was indeed structured to be as flexible and
informal as possible. One or two government ministers had to learn this the
hard way when they used the often more robust parliamentary manner of speech
in the council.
The MPNP was initially as inclusive as one
could have in a palarised society such as South Africa at that time. With the
withdrawal of COSAG it lost some of this inclusivity. The withdrawal did not,
however, destroy the MPNP. It was as if the remaining participants, while
endeavouring to have COSAG return, were also determined that "this time,
there can be no failure". History will judge whether this determination was a
correct attitude under the circumstances.
While the CODESA
process was virtually closed to the media, the MPNP very early on took the
unprecedented step of opening up the proceedings of the Negotiating Council
to the media and diplomatic liason officers. Through this transparency the
media could report as fully as possible on the progress of negotiations and
the international and local communities could stay abreast of events. The
public also profited from greater transparency by being given the opportunity
to submit proposals to any technical committee on a variety of issues. In the
event of members of the public wanting to witness the proceedings, the
Administration used a media "overflow room" with television monitors to
afford them the opportunity. Various youth groups and researchers made
maximum use of this facility. Could there be anyone who doubts that we have a
lot to learn from South Africa?
From the foregoing analyses
it becomes clear that for a country that has been so politically polarised
like Zimbabwe, a constitutional review process, by its very nature provides a
comprehensive moral framework conducive for reconcilliation,
confidence-building and a healing of wounds. The collective moral effort that
we put in drafting the constitution has an immense unifying influence and
massive potential to break the current political impasse, thus allow for a
peaceful democratic transition.
Because electoral majorities
can and do come and go, no ruling party can plausibly claim to be the sole
consience and sole embodiment of the will of the people, let alone their only
prophet. Neither is the cause of democracy served by a ruling party that
claims to be co-terminus with the state.
If these and others
excesses are to be avoided, the restraints provided by the constitution will
have to be supplemented by self-restraint on the part of the political
parties. Majority parties must be allowed to rule, but they must not rule in
such a way as to appear to be gathering to themselves all power and influence
within the state, thereby denying the rights of the opposition parties. How
the opposition opposes, however, is equally important.
their respective roles, ruling parties and opposition parties are to
contribute to the greater good of their nation, they would need to cultivate
a relationship based on mutual confidence. That confidence will enable them
to agree on what aspects of the national interest transcend party divides and
can therefore be legitmately withdrawn from inter-party strife and brawls.
This is what most Zimbabweans expect from ZANU PF and the MDC.
dollar has suffered another heavy battering, slipping from $3 500 to around
$5 100 to the greenback on the non-official market in a space of one week as
the government tries to raise money needed to pay for supplies of new
The British pound sterling has also responded to the
government’s insatiable appetite for foreign currency with this week’s rates
quoted at between $5 000 and $6 500 to the local unit from $4 600 the
On the official market, the United States dollar is
fetching $824 only, while the pound sterling is going for $1 300 against the
Foreign exchange dealers told The Financial
Gazette that the government was using various mechanisms to mop up foreign
currency required to pay for the paper used to print $500 notes and the new
notes pencilled for introduction before the end of October this
Zimbabwe is buying the paper used to print bank notes from a
"Once the market knows that the government is
desperate for cash, this pushes the rates up," said one dealer
"The situation has again been worsened by the tobacco selling season, which
has not performed so well to suit the governments expectations. If
the tobacco season had done well, maybe this could have spared the
parallel rates, but nothing has happened."
Tobacco output was
dealt a hammer blow by disturbances caused by the chaotic land reform. Output
going through the three-tobacco auction floors declined from 160 million kgs
of flue-cured tobacco to an estimated 80/85 million kgs this
Zimbabwe has struggled to restore the value of the dollar,
which once traded at par with the greenback at independence from Britain in
1980. The unit has been on a free-fall because of the weak exporting capacity
and the lack of balance of payments support from the International Monetary
Fund (IMF) and other donor agencies, which turned their backs on Zimbabwe
citing breaches on the rule of law and economic mismanagement among other
Best Doroh, an economist with the Financial Holdings
Limited said the firming of parallel market rates has also been caused by
people taking long-term positions on the market and the huge demand for
foreign currency by importers.
Doroh said: "A huge demand from
importers has caused the rates to firm, and there is also a very strong
demand from fuel importers."
"Some people are taking positions in
anticipation of further devaluations and worse still the IMF has taken a
position on Zimbabwe, which was our only source of hope of foreign currency
Meanwhile, the shortage of cash has worsened on the back
of the huge demand for money needed to mitigate the humanitarian crisis
caused by the drought.
Long queues have continued outside the
banks despite the government directive that the current $500 notes would be
phased out within two months.
The directive has failed to steer any
form of confidence in the market.
Analysts said the government
had over generalised the problem by assuming that the cash crunch was a
result of people hoarding money, when it was in fact the high level of
"The government has refused to accept the reality that
we have a problem of inflation, I do not think that their directive that $500
notes would be phased out would make any difference at all," said another
Farmers still to get promised $100bln input credit
Zhean Gwaze Staff Reporter 8/21/2003 9:54:54 AM
FARMERS’ representatives this week said their members are
still to access the $100 billion input credit facility promised by the
government last year despite the commencement of the new farming
Indigenous Commercial Farmers Union (ICFU) president,
Davison Mugabe told The Financial Gazette his organisation was still trying
to ascertain where its membership could access money for agricultural inputs
before the onset of the rains.
He said even if the $100 billion
was to be made available now, farmers still needed to look for additional
funding as, according to estimates, at at least $600 billion is required to
fully finance this year’s cropping.
"We are making frantic efforts
to find out from the Ministries of Finance and Agriculture where farmers can
access the money pledged by government for farming this season," he
Mugabe urged the corporate sector to chip in to avert yet
another disastrous season.
Commercial Farmers Union (CFU)
president Douglas Taylor-Freeme said the union, whose membership dropped from
4 000 to about 1 000 due to land reforms, was also concerned about delays in
the disbursement of the facility.
"The CFU has not received any
money at all. We have to talk to our banks for financing," he
The newly-elected CFU boss said it was difficult for both the
old and new farmers to borrow from banks because of exorbitant lending
rates triggered by the hyperinflationary environment.
moment, interest rates are currently hovering between 80 and 90 percent with
prospects of hitting the 100 percent mark because of underlying inflationary
Agricultural experts said farmers’ participation during
this year’s agricultural season would be hampered by poor producer prices
despite prospects of good rains.
The agricultural sector
contributes about 11 percent to the country’s gross domestic product (GDP),
which is the total value of goods produced in a country.
Zimbabwe’s GDP has been on a downward spiral over the past few years because
the drought and the effects of the agrarian reform, which has reduced the
country from being a breadbasket of Africa to a basket case.
Harare Agricultural Show will be without livestock for the third year running
owing to the outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease (FMD), The Financial Gazette
Poultry would also be absent at the show after most of
the commercial farmers who supported the event previously, relocated to
Zambia at the height of the chaotic government-led land
Robin Taylor, the event’s official spokesman, said
this week although there was an increase in agricultural commodities to be
showcased this year, there would be no livestock, which had become a major
attraction at the event.
Last year, livestock was also banned
from the show because of the FMD outbreak that has been a menace to the
country’s beef herd and exports since 2001.
Taylor said: "We are
going ahead with the show despite the economic situation in the country. We
have not had cattle for two years now because of the foot-and-mouth disease
and this is a major setback to the event."
Livestock had remained
the major attraction to the agricultural show.
Beef herd has
decreased from 1.2 million to about 400 000 in the past three
Most commercial farmers have been destocking because of
uncertainties caused by changes in the land tenure, where the government has
been taking land from white commercial farmers and parceling it out to
previously disadvantaged blacks under the controversial land
It is suspected the FMD could have been sparked by contact
between cattle and buffaloes during the chaotic land reform.
veterinary services department, which has been affected by the shortage of
foreign currency, has not been able to import adequate vaccines to contain
AS Parliament debates President
Ro-bert Mugabe’s speech to Parliament on July 22, I find it imperative to
chip in with advisory services on certain aspects of the
On the economic front, you will recall Mugabe
announced a number of measures that have implications on the
Today I will talk about interest rates, particularly
developments that have taken place since then.
the need for interest rates "to come down through decisive intervention
designed to recharge this economy in ways that encourage real wealth
generation as opposed to speculative wealth".
As I said in one of
my previous contributions, the government was arguing for interest rates to
be reduced so that productive sectors of the economy could access cheaper
sources of finance while the central bank wanted rates to continue rising as
a monetary policy instrument to control inflation.
implication, this means the central bank is not comfortable with the
The neo-liberal theorists say the hope of
increasing investment by lowering interest rates in a bid to increase
investment will not succeed because the source of these investment funds —
savings — will have been discouraged.
Investment funds come from
savings and for savings to be boosted interest rates must be increased,
otherwise it will not be profitable for savers to deposit their money with
The neo-liberal theory basically hinges on
the need for the removal of the constraints by the authorities on the
financial instruments especially the interest rate, that is, financial
The argument is that controlling interest rates
represses the financial sector, stunts growth and results in the
misallocation of resources.
These repressions, it claims, show
their effects on the limited savings generated because of interest rate
ceilings on deposits; limited loan resources because of loan rate ceilings
and sectoral allocation rules; financial dis-intermediation which results in
cash shortages at banks as people keep money at home for speculative purposes
and inflation hedging.
Two factors have now emerged as the
determinants of interest rates in Zimbabwe — government policy and
Although a very important factor, inflation is currently
not explaining interest rate levels in Zimbabwe since rates are controlled
and this explains the current negative real interest rates of more than
For more than two months now, policy rates have
remained largely unchanged with the benchmark 91-day Treasury Bill (TB)
discount rate hovering around 50 percent, which gives a yield of 57
In fact, at last week’s traditional TB tender, the rate
came out lower at 48.5 percent or a yield of 55.17 percent. Rates for
repurchase agreements have been fixed at 65percent during the same period
while overnight rates on secured borrowings are 85 percent and 105 percent on
However, reflecting the tight liquidity
conditions on the money market emanating from corporate tax payments that
took place at the end of June and less TB maturities, rates in the secondary
market have firmed with the 90-day NCD rates rising to around 90 percent from
80 percent last month while overnights have risen to over 100 percent from
around 80 percent during the same period.
As a result, lending
rates have increased further to over 90 percent from 80 percent last
Reflecting the lower interest rates against a background of
high and rising inflation, it has become very attractive and imperative to
borrow and invest in inflation-hedged assets like property and
These inflation-hedging efforts explain the current
speculative mood among people and the shortage of cash at banks.
With inflation rate of 400 percent and interest rates around 100 percent, the
resultant negative real interest rates of 300 percent have made it pointless
to keep money at the banks as this means that your money would be losing
value at a rate of 300 percent on a monthly basis.
As result of the
high inflation levels people are frantically looking for inflation-hedged
assets like property and stocks and engaging in illegal parallel market
activities like buying and selling of foreign currency, fuel and
The only incentive for keeping money at the bank — security
from theft — is not worth talking about.
For the monetary
authorities to effectively solve the cash crisis they have to make it
unattractive to "bank money in mattresses and pillows" through a
re-establishment of positive real interest rates — otherwise I do not see any
other effective method.
Money is being kept in homes because it is
losing value at a rate of at least 300 percent when kept in banks and
retains, if not surpasses its nominal value, when kept "in mattresses" as
people engage in the mentioned inflation-hedging activities.
What is needed is for the RBZ bosses to be allowed to holistically implement
sound macroeconomic policies to turnaround the fortunes of this country and
not to fire them!
A Zimbambwe cabinet member has attacked the Media Institute
of Southern Africa (MISA) for “promoting misunderstanding” between the
Zimbabwe government and the private media. Prof. Jonathan Moyo, the
Zimbabwe Minister of State for Information and Publicity alleged in Dar es
Salaam yesterday that MISA is being used by the donor community to promote
reports that the private media in the Southern African country were operating
in a hostile environment. “People who are promoting this misunderstanding are
MISA...it is an organisation which is donor created and donor funded…it has a
vision which is totally at odds with our reality,” Prof. Moyo said shortly
after he toured media organizations under IPP Limited. The Zimbabwe
Minister also described as unfounded reports that Zimbabwe government was
using harsh media laws to demand excessive loyalty from the media. “It is
not true that the government is demanding excessive loyalty from the media,”
said the Minister arguing, however, that journalists like anybody else in the
country had no special privileges. Earlier, responding to an Independent
Television (ITV) journalist, Prof. Moyo played down accusations levelled
against his government of harassing the media in Zimbabwe saying the
accusations come by because the Zimbabwe Government was working to improve
media environment in the South African country. If our government is not
accused of anything, it is not doing anything. It shows we do so many
things,” he told MISA is a network of national chapters which seek to foster,
independent and diverse media throughout Southern African region. He
lauded media development in Tanzania and said its freedom, loyalty
and patriotism to the nation was fascinating. He said Tanzania’s media
were more vibrant in the Southern African region and as far as media was
concerned, Zimbabwe had a lot to learn from Tanzania. “I find Tanzania
much more vibrant than any other country in the region. It is a big story
that is yet to be told. It is fascinating,” he said. The Zimbabwe Minister
visited IPP’s media outlets which include ITV, Radio One Stereo, SKY FM radio
station, East African Radio and The Guardian Limited.
Making a Zimbabwean
connection Thursday, 21 August 2003
Member for Flinders Mrs Penfold
hopes to establish an Eyre Peninsula group of the Zimbabwe Connection to help
Zimbabweans fleeing their country. The first of three families set to make
Wudinna their home arrived in the town last month, with 86 Zimbabwean
families waiting to emigrate to Australia through the Zimbabwe
Connection. Among these are electricians, fitters and turners, engineers,
toolmakers and mechanics for a range of industries. Mrs Penfold is gauging
local interest in setting up an Eyre Peninsula Connection for the Zimbabwe
Connection, which connects potential employers, mostly in rural Australia,
with Zimbabweans wanting to leave and provides advice to immigrants on what
to expect when they come to Australia - on everything from the weather to
schooling. Mrs Penfold wants local employers to inform the Zimbabwean
Connection of jobs available to allow more Zimbabweans to come to Eyre
Peninsula. "There's not just tradespeople wanting to come over - there's
farmers, doctors, nurses, all sorts of allied health professionals," she
said. "There's already quite a few overseas people here - most of them are
from South Africa." The non-profit, volunteer-run organisation was set up
in Adelaide by people concerned about how the Zimbabwe people were managing
their emigration to Australia. The connection helped Warren and Kim
Alanthwaite move to Wudinna to work with Rick duBois at Pringles garage, and
within the next two months two more diesel mechanics and their families will
make the move - Kumar Shingadia and Dave Segon. The Zimbabwe Connection's
chair Jill Lambert said all anyone in Zimbabwe could think about was "getting
out while it is still possible". "Primarily due to the destruction of the
agricultural sector in Zimbabwe, with its domino effect into all aspects of
an economy now verging on bankruptcy, many Zimbabweans want to come to
Australia, and are leaving behind their property and their homes without
compensation," she said. "It is very difficult for us to imagine how anyone
is conducting a normal life over there - there is no fuel, so you cannot, for
instance, get your crop to point of sale, garages are closed because nobody
can drive their vehicles in for service and aircraft cannot fly unless they
have been able to fill up elsewhere. "There are no bank notes and you
cannot get your passport renewed because there is no paper. "This is in
addition to the fact that there is no bread, milk, butter, maize meal (the
staple diet) or meat. "It is a living nightmare." Ms Lambert said the
response to the Zimbabwe Connection had been astonishing, with great interest
shown both by the Zimbabweans and potential employers. Over 60 job, share
farming or joint venture offers have been received nationally, and 23
Zimbabweans have been matched to jobs. "We need help to keep it going, or we
will simply 'burn out'," said Ms Lambert. From Zimbabwe to
Wudinna Warren and Kim Alanthwaite have made the move from the horrific
Zimbabwean regime to settle in Wudinna. Mr Alanthwaite arrived recently,
with his wife Kim and children Jonathon, 15 and Kirsten, 13 to work as a
diesel mechanic with Pringles Ag-Plus. He said he decided to leave when,
working as a farm manager in Zimbabwe, two of his managers were beaten by
Zanu PC war veterans pushing farmers off their land, and his 13-year-old son
was chased around the farm by the men with the same intent. While it had
become essential to leave, it was difficult to say goodbye to friends. Mr
Alanthwaite said the Zimbabwean situation worsened five years ago when prime
minister Robert Mugabe lost about 98 per cent of the vote in a referendum he
created himself. To save face and realising his government was under serious
threat, he encouraged Zanu QF youths and war veterans to take over the
farming land, land that before white settlement had been theirs. This
uprising had left millions of farmers without homes, and with nowhere to
go. "At the moment other countries are looking for qualified people -
and farmers don't fit into that category," he said. "For a lot of farmers,
that's all they know, and they don't have anywhere to go. "I was lucky
that I had a trade." Mr Alanthwaite said even farmers should be able to find
work elsewhere. "I believe there's a place in the world for
everybody." The Zimbabwean regime was set to collapse even further, with its
industries falling into disrepair and the government "completely
broke." Concepts like the Zimbabwe Connection and potential Eyre
Peninsula Connection helping Zimbabweans to move would help the
situation dramatically. "It's a brilliant idea, because a lot of
Zimbabweans are stuck and don't know where to go."