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Christian Science Monitor

Mugabe ratchets up the misery in Zimbabwe

By Robert I. Rotberg

CAMBRIDGE, MASS. - Last week, the 2 million inhabitants of Harare, Zimbabwe,
woke up to a new sign of societal collapse: No water flowed down the city
pipes. President Robert Mugabe's men had run out of cash to pay for chemical
disinfectants and to fuel the pumps.
Zimbabwe is in critical condition, thanks to the despotic greed of its aging
dictator. This week in Harare and Bulawayo, the country's largest and once
wealthy southern cities, there are massive shortages of gasoline and almost
anything else purchased with foreign exchange. Locally produced cooking oil,
sugar, corn flour, meat, and vegetables are also scarce. Gas stations are
either shut or show long lines of hopeful drivers. Supermarkets display
endless rows of toilet paper in the absence of edible goods.

"It is hot and the town is strewn with bad-tempered queues of desperate
people trying to go about their everyday business," says an e-mail from a
frustrated Harare resident.

In the countryside, the prospect of starvation is real - 6 million or 7
million people are at risk, primarily because Mr. Mugabe's ruling Zimbabwe
African National Union-Patriot Front (ZANU-PF) systematically denies even
donated food to peasants or town dwellers who live in areas that voted
against him.

Yet, because of massive media restrictions, very little of what is going on
in Zimbabwe is being reported. Foreign correspondents are rare, local
reporters are harassed and jailed, and newspapers bombed. The tragedy of
Zimbabwe must be pieced together from reliable e-mail messages and telephone
calls and close examination of the national budget and conditions on the

Zimbabwe has always fed itself and exported corn and wheat to its neighbors.
But the government's invasion of commercial farms reduced productivity by 70
percent. Shortages of rainfall in some areas compounded the problem. The
government exported stockpiled corn from previous years, and then
confiscated private caches of grain, which it sold to the party faithful.

In three years, Zimbabwe's GDP per capita has fallen by 30 percent.
Government budget deficits are the highest in the world, over 20 percent of
GDP. Zimbabwe's annual per capita GDP has fallen from well over $600 per
person in 1998 to $300 this year. Inflation, running at 38 percent last
year, is now a punishing 200 percent. One US dollar, six months ago capable
of buying 150 Zimbabwe dollars, can now purchase 2,000 Zimbabwe dollars on
the black market. About 60 percent of adult Zimbabweans have no jobs and no
prospects now that commercial farming has been shut down and mining and
manufacturing are slumping.

Mugabe pays for his personal and family corruption, for party patronage and
goods for the party faithful, for the farm invasions, and for his brutal
security forces by siphoning foreign exchange earnings from tobacco exports,
banks and insurance companies, and anything else that can be grabbed in the
ramshackle, bankrupt society that Zimbabwe has become.

The only real savior has been Libya, which supplied desperately needed
petroleum and cash in exchange for valuable farmland. But Libyan patience
has now run out. Zimbabwe can no longer even pretend to pay for fuel and
other imports; hence the dry pipes in Harare.

Mugabe last week threatened more Pol Pot-like attacks on the economic
pillars of his country, and on his beleaguered opponents. More misery is on
the way. A change for the better will come about only if his patronage dries
up and his party deserts him, the hungry rise up, the army switches sides,
he dies or is incapacitated, or - improbably - Washington, London, and
Pretoria intervene to free the Zimbabwean people from their own

. Robert I. Rotberg is director of Harvard University's Program on
Intrastate Conflict at the Kennedy School and president of the World Peace

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      Mugabe, Tsvangirai to meet?

      Staff Reporter
      12/19/02 3:20:14 AM (GMT +2)

      EFFORTS are underway to arrange a summit between President Robert
Mugabe and opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) leader Morgan
Tsvangirai in a bid to halt Zimbabwe's economic meltdown, the Financial
Gazette has established.

      Diplomatic sources said the international community was keen to
arrange a summit between the two leaders.

      They said South Africa would play a major role in ensuring that
stalled talks between the ruling ZANU PF and the MDC resumed in the near
future to pave the way for a meeting between Mugabe and Tsvangirai.

      The inter-party talks collapsed in May after the MDC filed a court
application contesting the outcome of the March presidential election, which
the ruling party said was an indication that the opposition had no serious
interest in dialogue.

      There was no comment on the matter from the President's Office, but
Tsvangirai told the Financial Gazette: "We are aware that the South African
government is pushing for a summit between myself and Mugabe to solve the
economic crisis.

      "We are not yet assured what the agenda will be as all that is still
to be worked out, from what we gather."

      He said there was still no indication when or where the summit might
take place, but that a preliminary meeting between ZANU PF and MDC officials
might determine those details.

      "We don't know the agenda yet, but there could be a first meeting to
chart the way forward," Tsvangirai said.

      There was no immediate comment from the office of South African
President Thabo Mbeki.

      But according to South African Press reports, Mbeki has indicated that
his Foreign Minister Nkosana Zuma will soon travel to Harare for discussions
with her Zimbabwean counterpart.

      Responding to questions about statements he made about the Zimbabwe
crisis during the African National Congress (ANC) conference held this week,
Mbeki said: "We are interested that these problems are addressed because
they are having a bad impact on the quality of life of the people of

      "What solutions do we find, what can be done. The ANC has been talking
to ZANU PF and the MDC and naturally the ANC would also be in contact with
all other political forces around the world that are interested in

      According to South African analysts, Mbeki's comments at the ANC
conference were seen as a signal that the party would move to secure the
resumption of collapsed negotiations between ZANU PF and the MDC.

      But local commentators this week said attempts to bring the two
parties back to the negotiating table could hit a brick wall because both
Mugabe and Tsvangirai had publicly shot down the possibility of dialogue.

      Mugabe told party supporters during ZANU PF's annual congress last
week that he would never accommodate Tsvangirai in a government of national
unity because he is a puppet of the West.

      Tsvangirai has said he will not meet Mugabe unless the government
commits itself to an agenda that sets out the conditions of future
discussions and also curbs political violence and the erosion of free
political activity.

      But analysts said dialogue between Zimbabwe's main political parties
was crucial if the country was to avoid social meltdown because of the
worsening economic crisis as well as food shortages that have left eight
million people in need of emergency food aid.

      The analysts said increased poverty and hunger in 2003 could cause
serious social instability whose impact would also be felt in the region,
which has already been hard hit by the Zimbabwean crisis.
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      Travails of spending day in a fuel queue

      By Abel Mutsakani Deputy Editor-in-Chief      12/19/02 3:31:34 AM (GMT +2)

      JAMES Chirove, a Harare business executive, believes he has found asmarter way to fill up his car with petrol that beats queuing for hours atthe capital city's congested service stations.

      He sneaks his motorbike through the long queue of cars, up to thepumps where the attendants always seem too busy haggling with impatientmotorists to notice him as they quickly fill up his bike's 10-litre tank andtell him to go away.

      In about seven trips, Chirove will have emptied enough petrol into the64-litre tank of his Mazda 626 parked at home and will still have some fuelleft over in the bike for the next petrol-hunting spree.

      "Can you imagine, this is how bad things have become," he tells theFinancial Gazette, barely suppressing his anger.

      "For as long as the people who are in charge of the country todayremain in control, then we Zimbabweans are a condemned lot."

      Like other motorists with vehicles parked in a queue stretching formore than two kilometres from the fuel pumps at Marimba shopping centre inHarare's affluent Belvedere suburb, Chirove is not just bitter about thegovernment's handling of the severe fuel crisis that has gripped Zimbabwe inthe last five weeks.

      He is also angry over the state's general mishandling of the entireeconomic crisis engulfing the country.

      Zimbabwe is in the throes of its worst economic and social crisissince independence from Britain 22 years ago.

      Fuel supplies have been erratic since 1999 due to a hard cash squeeze,while drought and the government's agrarian reforms have left other basiccommodities such as cooking oil, sugar, salt, bread and essential drugs inshort supply.

      In the last few weeks, the shortage of fuel, especially petrol, hasreached alarming proportions, almost forcing Zimbabwe to grind to a haltwith long, winding queues a common sight at the handful of garages stillselling petrol in Harare and other major centres.

      President Robert Mugabe, who blames the country's economic and foodproblems on political opponents at home and foreign interests he says wantto punish him for seizing white-owned farms for redistribution to landlessblacks, has blamed the deepening fuel crisis on inefficiency by somegovernment officials.

      Officials at the state-owned National Oil Company of Zimbabwe (NOCZIM)have failed to take advantage of a deal with oil producer Libya, he told anannual ruling ZANU PF conference last weekend.

      Under the agreement, Zimbabwe buys oil in local currency in exchangefor Libyan joint-ventures with Harare in tourism and exports of beef andsoya beans.

      But for Zimbabwe's motorists, bracing for a bleak Christmas withoutfuel, the long queues they have to endure at pump stations, the foodshortages, the crumbling health sector and the country's collapsingfactories are all a sign of how Mugabe has ruined an economy that not solong ago was a showcase of hope for Africa.

      The anger of most of the people queuing for fuel is almost palpableand invariably all motorists interviewed by the Financial Gazette during atour of garages in Harare last weekend were directing their rage at Zimbabwe's leaders.

      "This!" a man waiting with other motorists at a Mobil garage nearHarare's High Glen shopping complex said, as he angrily waved a copy of lastSaturday's Herald newspaper at our news crew.

      The headline on the lead story of that day's issue of the state-owneddaily screamed: "Hard Decisions Vital: President."

      The article quoted Mugabe informing delegates to the ZANU PFconference that hard decision and tough measures were necessary to turnaround the economy and save people from the hardships they were facing.

      The man brandishing the Herald - part of the small crowd that had nowgathered around our news crew - identified himself only as Solo andcontinued with his tirade: "Only Mugabe and his government have a harddecision to take, and that is all of them must resign because they havemessed up this country.

      "No petrol, no food, no jobs: must we all die before these guys admitthey have failed to run this country?"

      It was perhaps easy to understand Solo's desperate frustration.

      The previous day, he and most of the about 200 other motorists queuingat the High Glen garage had waited for their turn to fill up their carsuntil 10 o'clock in the evening, when the pumps were closed.

      Solo and his colleagues had returned to the garage at dawn, hoping tobe the first in line when the pumps reopened. But three hours later, theywere still waiting because the service station's petrol supplies hadactually run out the previous night.

      Joseph Mupande said: "We are waiting, one: because you cannot affordto waste the little petrol still in the car looking around for a garage withfuel and secondly, we are just hoping these guys here might just receiveanother delivery of fuel from NOCZIM."

      At a BP Shell garage in the high-density suburb of Budiriro Five,about five kilometres from High Glen shopping mall, we joined a long andwinding queue of cars and commuter omnibuses that appeared relativelyorderly.

      For two hours the queue inched forward at a painfully slow pace. Thensuddenly, and to our pleasant surprise, the cars began moving faster. Whenwe finally emerged from behind the shop buildings into full view of thepetrol pumps, the reason the queue had suddenly picked up pace becamepainfully clear.

      Motorists were driving away because there was no more petrol. And suchis the test of endurance that the simple act of filling up a car has becomein Zimbabwe.

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      10 000 cattle succumb to drought in Mat South

      12/19/02 3:26:29 AM (GMT +2)

      BULAWAYO - More than 10 000 head of cattle in Matabeleland South have
succumbed to drought in the past three months, worsening the damage already
inflicted by rustlers to the province's herd, it was learnt this week.

      Cattle industry officials said among the areas hardest hit by the dry
spell in the province, which falls under Zimbabwe's natural region five and
is perennially dry, were Beitbridge, Gwanda, Filabusi, Insiza, Kezi and

      According to statistics from the Commercial Farmers' Union (CFU), the
commercial herd in Matabeleland North and South has fallen from 300 000 two
years ago to 60 000 because of drought, disease, rustling and destocking
resulting from the land reform programme.

      "The situation is very critical as far as livestock is concerned,"
Stuart Hargreaves, the director of Veterinary Services, told the Financial
Gazette. "The reports I have indicate that about 10 000 cattle have died in
that part of the country (Matabeleland South). There is a shortage of
pasture because of the erratic rainfall.

      "We are getting reports of cattle dying everyday and if the rains do
not come soon, we are going to have a disaster on our hands."

      He said areas outside Matabeleland South that had received some rain
in the past few weeks were not as badly affected.

      "The reports that I have show that Matabeleland South is the hardest
hit. It has always been a problem area," Hargreaves said.

      He was however unable to say how many head of cattle had died because
of drought around the country, adding that the figure of 10 000 for
Matabeleland South did not reflect the cattle that died in the bush and were
not reported.

      Mac Crawford, the deputy national chairman of the CFU, who is also
head of the organisation's Matabeleland branch, said commercial farmers were
concerned that the province's commercial herd would be wiped out if there
was still no rain by Christmas.

      He told the Financial Gazette: "We are in trouble, cattle are dying
everyday. The figure of 10 000 could be an under statement. This region has
had little rain.

      "It is very dry and cattle have no pasture and water to drink. They
are dying in large numbers. We are doing a survey to determine the actual
figures but I believe those that have died as a result of the drought are
over 10 000."

      He said the situation had been worsened by the eviction of commercial
farmers in Mashonaland and other areas with pasture, who in the past had
assisted drought-stricken areas.

      "During the drought of 1991-1992 we got a lot of assistance from
farmers in Mashonaland who sent us grass. But now they are no longer on the
farms and we can't get that help," Crawford said.

      According to CFU statistics, Zimbabwe's commercial herd has fallen to
160 000 from 1.7 million two years ago.

      Crawford said: "The commercial herd has taken a huge knock because of
a combination of factors, among them farm evictions and the drought. The
communal herd has also been affected by the drought.

      "The farmers can't buy stockfeed because of the high prices. I don't
think the price controls on stock feeds will help because the cattle have
already started dying and they are dying in large numbers."
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      Only $70m Byo council funds recovered

      12/19/02 3:27:51 AM (GMT +2)

      BULAWAYO - The cash-strapped Bulawayo City Council (BCC) has this year
recovered only $70 million of the $1.5 billion it is owed by residents, the
government and industry in outstanding rentals and other supplementary
charges, municipal officials said this week.

      hey said the resulting cashflow problems had forced the Japhet
Ndabeni-Ncube-led council to resolve to shelve plans to implement a massive
housing project to provide 70 000 low-cost houses near the Joshua Mqabuko
Nkomo International Airport.

      The officials said ratepayers were ignoring final demand letters
issued by the council, while those whose water supplies were disconnected
for non-payment were not making any effort to settle their debts.

      "There is nothing, people are not coughing up," Lennox Mhlanga, the
senior public relations officer of the Bulawayo City Council, told the
Financial Gazette. "I think it has to do with the prevailing harsh economic

      "The council is trying by all means to have these monies recovered but
only about $70 million has so far been recovered. We need these funds to
give quality service to the residents."

      Council officials said the government had not yet approved the
municipality's application to be allowed to borrow $2.3 billion from the
financial markets to fund capital projects proposed for next year.

      "We don't have money and as we are talking, we are in the red," said
Charles Mpofu, chairman of the city council's finance and development
community. "There is no money to start new projects. We have resolved to
suspend all capital projects.

      "What we are doing is to finish the projects that have already been
started. At the same time, we don't want to burden the long suffering
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      Mining royalty scheme to empower communities

      Staff Reporter
      12/19/02 3:27:18 AM (GMT +2)

      RURAL communities located near mining concessions could earn at least
$5 million every month under new regulations introduced by the government in
December, according to Mines and Energy Minister Edward Chindori-Chininga.

      The regulations allow for the creation of 14 gold-buying concession
areas around the country which are each expected to produce 150 kilogrammes
of gold every month.

      Gold producers in the concession areas will pay to the communities
they operate under a royalty of 0.5 percent of the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe
(RBZ)'s gold floor support price, which is presently $7 000 per gramme of

      Chindori-Chininga said this would entitle rural district councils
(RDCs) in the concession areas to $35 for every gramme of gold paid for by
the central bank.

      "The royalty scheme will be 0.5 percent of the amount of gold
purchased and will be payable by the RBZ to every rural district council
whose area has any gold purchased under a permit," Chindori-Chininga said.

      "The total royalty that will be payable to the rural district council
by the RBZ will be at least $5 million a month to ensure that they benefit
from the exploitation of their natural resources."

      The royalty scheme is similar to one administered by the Communal
Areas Management Programme of Indigenous Resources, which was launched in
1989 to empower rural communities through the sustainable use of wildlife.

      RDCs will use money received under the royalty scheme to implement
developmental projects and improve the lives of rural communities living
near mining areas.

      Chindori-Chininga said his ministry would consult the RDCs every month
to find out the progress of the projects they would undertake using money
from the scheme. He said the ministry would liaise with local communities to
also monitor that the funds were not mismanaged.

      The royalty scheme is part of measures gazetted by the government this
month to regulate alluvial gold panning and small-scale mining activities.
The regulations are expected to aid in the indigenisation of the gold mining
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      Orphanages not spared food shortages

      By Zhean Gwaze Staff Reporter
      12/19/02 3:30:56 AM (GMT +2)

      AT LEAST two million orphaned Zimbabwean children face starvation and
acute malnutrition because of the country's economic crisis and food
shortages, with many likely to run out of food stocks before the next maize
harvest in April.

      According to statistics from the National AIDS Council (NAC), at least
two million Zimbabwean children have no parents and 700 000 of them have
been orphaned by AIDS.

      An official with the NAC, who declined to be named because he is not
the organisation's designated spokesman, told the Financial Gazette:
"According to statistics, there are two million orphans in the country who
are either homeless, displaced and abandoned.

      "About 700 000 are orphaned by the HIV/AIDS pandemic."

      Representatives of local orphanages this week said children's homes
had been hard hit by Zimbabwe's economic crisis and food shortages resulting
from drought and a controversial government land reform programme that has
cut food production by at least 60 percent this year.

      The agrarian reforms have led to the appropriation of more than 90
percent of the country's white-owned commercial farms for the resettlement
of landless blacks, many of who do not have the resources to farm on a

      The combined impact of drought and the land reforms has left Zimbabwe
with a significant maize and wheat deficit, forcing the country to import
grain at a time it is also facing a serious hard currency crisis.

      Officials at the country's orphanages said many children's homes were
likely to run out of the little food stocks they had before the maize
harvest next April.

      Joyce Chavarika, deputy superintendent of the Matthew Rusike Children'
s Home in Epworth near Harare told the Financial Gazette: "We are not
confident that we will be sustained until the next harvest in April because
our food stocks are insufficient."

      Matthew Rusike, founded in 1950, needs about two tonnes of maize per
month to feed the 100 children in its care. The orphanage has the capacity
to house 120 children but does not have adequate resources.

      Chavarika said since July, the home had been feeding children with
food donated by well wishers, but this was insufficient to meet demand. The
orphanage last received maize from the state-controlled Grain Marketing
Board (GMB) in July.

      Orphanage officials said the GMB's monopoly over trade in wheat and
maize made it impossible for children's homes to stock large quantities of
grain, which would alleviate some of their problems.

      SOS Children's Village deputy national director Gary Birditt said:
"The GMB will not allow us to hold any stock of maize, but their supplies
are not frequent and not enough.

      "Unless the GMB increases its supplies, we are going to fail to meet
our obligation to more than 3 000 children that we look after in our

      SOS is supposed to provide 10 kgs of maize every month to each child
under its care, but the food crisis has made this impossible.

      In the past, orphanages supplemented grain supplies with bread and
rice donated by well wishers, but because of wheat shortages and price
controls imposed last year, bread is difficult to secure from bakeries,
forcing staff members to spend most of their time in food queues.

      However, bread is available in a thriving black market at more than
treble the controlled price.

      While rice is also still in supply at most supermarkets, prices have
also risen significantly in the past year, making it unaffordable for not
only the orphanages but their donors as well.

      Drought and the agrarian reforms have also slashed the number of
donors who in the past supported children's homes.

      Maria Sithole, the director of the Harare Children's Home which looks
after more than 100 orphans, said most of the home's donors were farmers,
but many were now unable to spare anything for charity because of poor

      Mike Murefu, a 12-year old orphan at Matthew Rusike, told the
Financial Gazette: "These food shortages paint a bleak future for orphans
because the donors who send us food aid are unable to do so because of the

      He said in the past, the home supplemented donations with produce from
its 4 500-hectare garden and from rearing poultry and pigs.

      But this year, the home has been forced to kill most of its animals
because it has no stockfeed to sustain them, while drought has cut output
from the home's garden and produce has been insufficient to meet demand.

      He said morale at the home had fallen because some of the children
could not understand why food supplies were now low and erratic.

      Orphanage officials said organisations caring for orphaned and
abandoned children now had no option but to look to the government for

      But resources allocated to the department of social welfare have
dwindled in the past few years while Zimbabweans in need of financial
assistance from the government have increased because of the HIV/AIDS
pandemic as well as rising unemployment and homelessness.

      About 25 percent of Zimbabweans are said to be infected with HIV, the
virus that causes AIDS, and 2 000 die from AIDS-related illnesses every day.
Meanwhile, unemployment has topped 70 percent, increasing the number of
adults and children in need of social welfare.

      According to the United Nations' Children's Fund, the number of
children orphaned by HIV/AIDS will rise 20 percent by 2010 in Zimbabwe,
Lesotho and Botswana. Many of these children are infected with HIV
themselves and have special needs that are already taxing the resources of
their care givers.

      Chavarika said Matthew Rusike's medical bill was huge because of the
number of children that had to be treated for the opportunistic infections
associated with HIV infection.

      But the social welfare department is unable to meet the needs of most
orphans, making available a paltry $600 000 to each children's home a year.
The homes however have annual budgets exceeding $20 million.

      Chavarika said: "We are dependent on donors because the government
cannot help us with much."

      In addition, officials at children's homes said they had difficulty
accessing funds from the NAC, which distributes money raised through a
national AIDS levy to individuals and organisations affected by the

      The officials said the NAC concentrated on assisting organisations
dealing with HIV/AIDS patients at the expense of orphans.

      However, it was not possible to secure comment on these charges from
NAC director Everisto Marowa, who was said to be away on leave.

      But orphanage officials said despite the difficulties facing the
government and donors, the welfare of the country's orphaned children should
continue to be a priority.

      Sithole told the Financial Gazette: "Although the government and
donors are facing a crisis, we urge them to continue offering the best they
can so that we meet the obligations of the Child Protection and Adoption
Act, which says all orphans should be helped to grow into autonomous
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      2003 has all the ingredients of a stormy year

      By Sydney Masamvu Assistant Editor
      12/19/02 3:30:09 AM (GMT +2)

      ZIMBABWE enters a new year in a fortnight without a workable solution
to a fast deteriorating economic crisis that analysts this week said could
prove to be the undoing of both the ruling ZANU PF and the opposition
Movement for Democratic Change (MDC).

      The analysts said with no respite to the problems that have bedevilled
the country in the past twelve months, President Robert Mugabe and his
ruling ZANU PF must act boldly and fast to arrest the situation or they face
a social uprising in the next year.

      But commentators noted that the main opposition MDC would also be
judged by its potential to alleviate the suffering of the majority of

      "The whole economic decline will reach rock bottom in the new year and
the social upheaval that will result from it can bring down the present
government in the new year if it is not contained," economic consultant John
Robertson told the Financial Gazette.

      Robertson spoke as a fuel shortage gripping Zimbabwe for the last five
weeks threatened to bring the southern African nation to a halt, with only a
handful of garages in Harare and other centres still selling fuel this week.

      Queues for food have also lengthened in the past few weeks as more
retailers have run out of basic commodities whose prices have been frozen by
the government in what it says is an attempt to protect consumers from the
soaring cost of living.

      But manufacturers hurt by the price freeze have scaled down production
of controlled products, worsening the shortages already accompanying
Zimbabwe's economic crisis, drought and agrarian reforms that have
contributed to reduced agricultural output.

      The price controls have also spawned a black market in almost all
products, where the cost of goods has more than trebled in the past year,
making even basic foodstuffs unaffordable for most people, whose incomes
have been eroded by inflation that is expected to top 500 percent in 2003.

      According to recent government statistics, about eight million
Zimbabweans, at least two thirds of the population, need emergency food aid
because of drought and the land reform programme.

      Analysts expect the number of food insecure people to shoot up next
year if southern Africa is hit by another drought.

      The Southern Africa Development Community Monitoring Centre last week
issued its first drought warning, urging countries to prepare contingency

      Analysts said even if Zimbabwe received normal rainfall, agricultural
output might still decline next year because most of the farmers resettled
under the land reform programme did not have the resources to produce enough
to feed the nation.

      University of Zimbabwe Institute of Development Studies associate
professor Brian Raftopoulos said the pressures building on the government
because of the economic crisis would next year force it to reengage the
international community and its opponents at home.

      He said this might be crucial to avert a revolt by a population
stretched to the limit.

      Raftopoulos said: " The economic situation has reached depressing
levels and all the symptoms of a total collapse are now evident.

      "This situation is unsustainable in the new year because it will cause
a social explosion that can undermine the government."

      He said the crisis engulfing Zimbabwe would give more leverage to
South Africa to successfully push for the resumption of national dialogue
between ZANU PF and the MDC.

      South African President Thabo Mbeki was quoted in the media telling
delegates at this week's African National Congress conference that his
government was ready to "engage ZANU PF and "all others" in an attempt to
resolve the Zimbabwe crisis.

      Raftopoulos ruled out the possibility of the Commonwealth expelling
Zimbabwe in a bid to pressure Mugabe to deal with the country's problems,
saying the organisation was more likely to seek the direct involvement of
South Africa to resolve the crisis.

      He said: "The economic meltdown actually strengthens the role South
Africa will play in seeking the normalisation of the situation, which it has
been pushing for but has failed to achieve.

      "The economic conditions have deteriorated to an extent that the
Zimbabwean government would have no choice but listen to South Africa, or it
will be left to sink. South Africa will capitalise on this to exert its

      But analysts said Zimbabweans should not underestimate ZANU PF's trump
card, its control of the defence forces and powerful legislation that it can
wield to crush dissent.

      The laws, especially the Public Order and Security Act and the Access
to Information and Protection of Privacy Act, hamper free expression,
freedom of the Press and of assembly, and have been used to haul government
critics before the courts.

      Commentators this week said the challenges facing the ruling party
could also apply to the MDC, which next year would also have to prove that
it had viable solutions to end Zimbabweans' suffering.

      They said while many Zimbabweans had been willing to give the main
opposition party the benefit of the doubt in the past three years because
they were disillusioned with ZANU PF, the MDC would now sink or swim on its
ability to convince the nation that its ideas for resolving the country's
political and economic problems were sustainable.

      In the past few months, the MDC and other civic society groups have
been accused of running out of ideas to solve Zimbabwe's political and
economic crisis.

      "In the past year, the MDC has managed to survive under repression,
but the challenge they face now is how can they bring in a new dispensation
to stem the economic crisis," Robertson said.

      He said MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai's proposal of a year long
transitional government that would pave the way for a fresh presidential
election was a realistic compromise and could be the starting point for
economic and political stability.

      The economic consultant said the proposal might be welcomed by ZANU PF
moderates, who realised Mugabe might have to give way to a successor.

      Robertson said: "The international community is not going to deal with
Zimbabwe with Mugabe on board, anyone else will do.

      "The situation is desperate and every effort has to be made to avert
an upheaval in the new year."
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FinGaz - Comment

      Read the signs

      12/19/02 2:27:15 AM (GMT +2)

      FORECASTS by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) that Zimbabwe will,
for the third year running, have the world's fastest declining economy in
2003 are most disturbing and highlight once again the depth of the country's

      But these predictions merely confirm what all right-thinking
Zimbabweans know very well: that unless decisive and painful action is taken
NOW, the house of cards the government is busy shoring up with its crisis
management will collapse with disastrous consequences for everyone.

      In a recent report, the EIU says Zimbabwe's gross domestic product has
fallen by 25 percent since 1999 and will shrink by as much as 8.8 percent
next year, even though southern Africa's economy is expected to grow by 3.9

      Zimbabweans are already struggling with the impact of year-on-year
inflation of more than 175 percent, but this could just be the tip of the
iceberg, according to the think-tank.

      Inflation could shoot up to between 400 and 500 percent next year,
compared to the five percent of Zimbabwe's neighbours in the region.

      The EIU said: "We expect Zimbabwe's economy to continue contracting
during the next two years, resulting in increased hardships for the
population at large, industry and other productive sectors.

      "There is a possibility that an enraged population, particularly in
the cities, will revolt. Worsening food and fuel shortages, triple-digit
inflation and rising unemployment could provide the spark leading to mass
protests against the government in 2003."

      The signs of discontent are already there for all to see in the faces
of long-suffering Zimbabweans forced daily to queue for fuel and food and
often turned away because these commodities are unavailable or because they
cannot afford them.

      It is also evident in the increased hostility of the country's
homeless, the poorest of the poor, towards those they perceive as being
richer than themselves.

      Only this month, a skirmish over bread resulted in a Harare man's lip
being bitten off, that's how precious a loaf of bread has become in this

      It is only a matter of time before these kinds of reports become as
common as the food queues and empty supermarket shelves that many
Zimbabweans laughed off as a grim fantasy this time last year.

      But even as all the signs point to the nation's growing impatience
with its worsening poverty and food insecurity, the government seems unable
or unwilling to offer a viable solution to the crisis.

      The ruling ZANU PF's sixth annual conference held last week
demonstrates clearly once more, if anyone needed further proof, that only
the same old, tired and discredited strategies can be expected from the

      It must be clear by now, even to a primary school child, that
tightening the monitoring of price controls will neither reduce prices nor
put goods back on the shelves, yet that is all ZANU PF can offer as the
resolution to ballooning prices and product shortages.

      Taking over the infrastructure of multinational oil companies will not
bring fuel to Zimbabwe. Neither petrol nor diesel flow spontaneously out of
taps. The government will still be faced with the seemingly unresolvable
problem of accessing foreign currency to buy fuel.

      Zimbabweans must also be disheartened by ZANU PF's continuing
encouragement of hostility against some sections of the population.

      This is despite the public media's almost frenzied campaign to bombard
the nation with messages about national unity ahead of this Sunday's 15th
anniversary of the 1987 unity accord, and despite the fact that this is a
time Zimbabweans of all races, ethnic groups, religions and political
affiliations should rally together to resolve the country's worst economic
crisis in 22 years.

      The time is coming when Zimbabweans will say enough is enough, they
will no longer stand for the government's prevarication, hate speech and
downright insensitivity.

      We would honestly advise the country's leaders to read the signs and
take the necessary actions to avert this truly catastrophic development.

      While all Zimbabweans appreciate ZANU PF's continuing control of the
police and the army, there will come a time when this will no longer be a
deterrent to a hungry, homeless and poverty-stricken populace.

      The signs are there for all to see and those who can would do well to
pay heed to them so that they are not caught unawares.

      May God bless Zimbabwe and its people during this difficult festive
season and the months ahead.
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      And now to the Notebook . . . Bob's visitor

      12/19/02 2:24:47 AM (GMT +2)

      The Prince is now fully briefed on the suffering that most Zimbabweans
are enduring and this is thanks to the courage of a man sources have only
identified as Nyandoro.

      Impeccable sources tell Mukanya that on December 8, Nyandoro, who
resides in Kambuzuma, decided enough was enough and resolved he would go to
State House and confront the man in charge of the mess the country has

      On getting to State House, Nyandoro told the presidential guard
soldiers he wanted to see VaMugabe. The soldiers allowed him in, probably
thinking he was a close relative of the President. Mukanya would like to
believe they were convinced Nyandoro had to be a relative because no man,
unless he is desperate to die, would dare venture near the gates of State
House without an invitation.

      The Prince was called to receive his relative but of course, he only
needed one glance to tell that Nyandoro was not of royal blood.

      But according to the sources, Nyandoro was equally quick and before
the soldiers could drag him away, he was already narrating why he had come
to see the President:

      "VaPresident zvinhu zvaoma munyika. Tofa nenzara here? Iyezvino
ndakabata mabhiza angu ndikahwina mari yakawa-nda asikuti nditange
kabizimisi kanobhuroka nekuti zvinhu hazvina kumira mushe munyika." (Mr
President, things are tough in the country. Must we starve to death?
Recently, I won a considerable amount of money through horse betting but it
is pointless to invest it in any income-generating project because the
project will collapse because of the harsh economic environment.)

      Of course, it is important to note that Nyandoro, who surely is lucky
to be still alive, later got a thorough beating from the soldiers whose
laxity he had exposed.

      But the important thing, as far as Mukanya is concerned, is that the
truth got straight to the Prince, undefiled by Professor Jonah or George
Charamba's editing.

      God save us all

      Deputy Transport and Communications Minister Chris Mushowe was seen on
Thursday last week jostling with lesser mortals for fuel at a service
station near Five Avenue shopping centre.

      According to Muka-nya's usually impeccable source, the deputy minister
was even sandwiched between two commuter omnibuses in the queue, which must
have been a test of endurance for the chef.

      If government ministers who are at the forefront of telling us the
Zimbabwe/Libya fuel deal is still on themselves cannot get the commodity,
then God save us all!

      Plenty in the midst of want

      A convoy of ZANU PF trucks was seen last Wednesday driving along
Lomagundi road that leads to Chinhoyi, the venue for the sixth ZANU PF
annual conference. The trucks were heavily leaden with various kinds of food
and drink: tinned beans, fresh milk, soft drinks, mealie-meal and sugar, you
name it.

      A bemused friend could only ask: "Was it a national conference they
were having in Chinhoyi or was it a Christmas party?"

      Mukanya must admit he is not so sure about the correct answer to that
question but at least now we know why the Prince and his court find it so
hard to comprehend what we mean when we say there are food shortages in this

      Of ground-breaking ceremonies & failed projects

      Does anyone remember former transport minister Enos Chikowore
performing - for that's what Chikowore used to do before television
cameras - a ground-breaking ceremony to mark the start of the construction
of the Harare/Chitungwiza rail link?

      This was sometime before the 2000 parliamentary election, yet I doubt
if even a metre of that railway line has been laid.

      Which brings to mind yet another project that keeps popping up at
election time but remains a mirage, the Matabeleland Zambezi Water Project

      Dumiso Dabengwa, who chairs the MZWP Trust, will tell you this project
will start soon or sometimes that it is already underway. But God knows
there is no such thing happening, certainly not in Matabeleland.

      Another favourite line of government ministers is that a team of
Malaysian experts assisting with project X or Y is on its way to Zimbabwe.
That team has been on its way to this country for several years.

      Made went to school

      Readers might remember Mukanya asking early this month if anyone knew
which university awarded Agriculture Minister Dr Joseph Made his doctorate
and in which field of study.

      Well, a good citizen of the world dug out this information and sent it
to us: "Records show that a Joseph Mtakwese Made earned a BSc (1980); MSc
(1981) and a PhD (1982) from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in the
Department of Continuing and Vocational Education."

      Well, it's proven that the good doctor actually did read these things.

      But Mukanya is not so sure if the University of Wisconsin-Madison
would consider Made one of its best ambassadors. For instance, would the
American university agree that the best method of research to determine the
size of your maize harvest is to go up in the air, preferably in an army
chopper, circle around the country and count every green thing you see on
the ground, even people wearing green sunhats?
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      Zim's children in the diaspora (Part 4)

      Masipula Sithole
      12/19/02 2:30:33 AM (GMT +2)

      IN Part One (see Fingaz, November 28 2002), we dealt with the diaspora
at a conceptual level and the dynamics of those who had left Zimbabwe during
and as a result of the inhospitable conditions of white-settler rule.

      In Part Two (see Fingaz, December 5 2002), we looked at those who have
since left and are leaving the country in search of the "good life" which
they find elusive back home, albeit under a black government.

      In Part Three last week, we touched on the disturbing phenomenon of
Zimbabwe's children across our borders; disturbing in that in creating
refugee situations across our borders, our leaders seem unaware that
conditions for Bwanyamulenge-like insurgencies are being created across all
our borders.

      This contribution is a continuation of the themes of the past three
articles in that it seeks to link Zimbabwe's children in the diaspora with
those of her children who, for one reason or another, stayed home. It
focuses on the dynamic relationship between them.

      Yet our leaders, for some reason or another, seem unaware that they
are busy, very busy sowing seeds of their own destruction. In that sense we
are victims of the curse of history in that we are repeating it script by

      There are probably 10 000 Zimbabwean professionals in the diaspora as
we speak, some of them earning handsomely good salaries in "good money".
Even if they were 5 000 of them, it would still be 4 000 too many of
Zimbabwe's "best and brightest" living and working out of the country,
unless we had a strategic relationship with them, which we don't. Instead we
are busy alienating them.

      Skilled labourers in the entire diaspora are probably 75 000 to 100
000; semi-skilled, unskilled labourers and refugees are probably in excess
of a million-and-a-half to two million. I understand somebody has
commissioned a proper study of this phenomenon. If not, I will. I can even
ask Moyo (the other Moyo) to sponsor it.

      We are probably talking here of two million to three million
Zimbabweans in the diaspora, near and far. Even half this number is 75
percent too many, even assuming they are happy wherever they are, unless
again we had a strategic relationship with them, which, regrettably, we don'
t have.

      They should be attracted back home, even as tourists. We know they
have relatives at Tamandayi villages across the country with whom they will
feel obligated to leave something to buy off their sense of "great

      No, no, no, of course not. I don't at any moment feel that those
working in the diaspora should have any sense of guilt or betrayal. Quite to
the contrary, I feel that we have betrayed our children and run them away to
foreign lands. I honestly do; at times I get visibly emotional about it.

      Nakigwayi zvenyu imi. Jabulani lina. Enjoy yourselves. Chete don't
forget us. As if that were at all possible.

      There is an organic, almost interminable linkage between those in the
diaspora (far or near) and "the people", about nine to 10 million of them.
Most important of these are those referred to by the unsuspecting Simba last
week as a tiny "hard core" minority who will "not leave Zimbabwe come rain
or sunshine".

      These are the people whom the late veteran nationalist Maurice
Nyagu-mbo was referring to when he said, in reply to a question why he would
not leave the country (Rhodesia then): "Some of us have to remain with the
people." (His book is aptly titled With the People, 1984).

      If you detain or put them into prisons, they multiply; if you kill
them, they mutate and permutate in their rebirth. This is not idle talk. The
entire leadership of ZANU PF is living testimony to this experience; even
Jonathan is a mutation (only a bad one) of this experience.

      Yet they are busy, very busy forgetting their own experience. Each one
of them, man or woman, knows I am telling the truth as experienced by them
and myself.

      It's not that we are theorising here; we are merely giving a
theoretical explanation to our national experiences. This, after all, is
what I am paid by the state through the University of Zimbabwe to do, not to
lie or keep quiet about. That to me would be irresponsible, almost

      As I understand it, those in the diaspora (almost to a family),
particularly during these harsh and hard times of famine and unemployment,
are sending rands, pounds, euros and the "almighty US dollar" to help their

      The government, in its blind wisdom, is trying to stop this by
stopping or trying to stop the parallel market in the hope of generating
foreign currency for itself. Assume it succeeds in stopping diaspora aid to
the local population, what happens then?

      Without this relief - relief from relatives in the diaspora - to whom
is the anger and resentment going to be turned? Hardly at Tony Blair and
George W Bush. The people don't know who these two foreigners are. It's like
Ian Smith blaming Krhuschev and Mao-tse-Tung (communism) for his own and his
party's misconception of the world.

      In the past, the people did not find it difficult to distinguish
between Smith and President Robert Mugabe as the cause of their misery. For
some reason now we expect them not to distinguish between Mugabe and
opposition MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai or whoever as the cause of their
suffering - and still claim sanity!

      Granted, not every family has relatives in the diaspora. But our
government would have that many less mouths to feed if it approached its
citizens (both inside and outside the country) properly. Instead, we are
approaching them in this bully manner, and without a plan whatsoever. If a
plan exists, reveal it to us.

      Assume the government got all the foreign currency it wanted. Will it
be used properly and for the needy? But why are we in the sorry state we are
in today? Is it not our mismanagement and misappropriation of foreign

      We are just returning from a four-year spree of burning billions of
foreign currency in a distant conflict that hardly threatened our national

      What did Zimbabwe gain from the war in the Democratic Republic of the
Congo (DRC), really? There have been private gains, alright. But a national
army is not to be used for private but for national interests.

      Who does Mugabe expect us to believe: the United Nations and the DRC
government we were trying to rescue, or him in his silence or his implicated
colleagues? Sure, sure, VaMugabe, no investigation whatsoever? Even
yokutivhara meso, shuwa, shuwa? Tatadzeiko kuti mutibate zvakadai, shuwa,

      Where is the next war going to be fought? Is it at home or abroad?

      What I am saying is that even inside the country we are busy, very
busy alienating those with nowhere to go. We are embarked on a process of
declaring war against ourselves.

      If and when things run amok inside the country today or tomorrow as
the result of the hardships we have no credible answer for, what is the
likely reaction going to be of the refugees across our immediate borders and
those in the broader diaspora?

      What is the reaction going to be of those who remained at home whom we
are alienating in so many ways?

      What I am saying is that, wittingly or unwittingly, we are headed to
far much worse trouble than we have experienced, hitherto. But our luck in
all this is that this calamity can be avoided by one person at last acting
responsibly and in the national interest. But that is also the tragedy of
our situation.

      A "curse" has been defined as an avoidable calamity or disaster that
is unavoidable.

      Show us if that definition is wrong.

      (I meant this to be the last in this series on the diaspora, but the
response from many of Zimbabwe's children in the diaspora asking what they
can do to effect change back home has been humbling. I feel I should honour
up and give them the benefit of my thoughts on the issue. Accordingly, Part
Five, which I promise will be the last in this series, is my reply to this
legitimate question. Musandityira. As always, I will be responsible and

        a.. Professor Masipula Sithole is a lecturer of political science at
the University of Zimbabwe and director of the Harare-based Mass Public
Opinion Institute. While he is currently on sabbatical leave in the United
States of America, Sithole can be contacted at e-mail address and telephone number (202) 429 3819.
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      An elephant can be killed by small insects

      12/19/02 2:18:02 AM (GMT +2)

      THERE'S is a very important Ndebele proverb that I would like to open
this article with, it goes . . . "Indlovu ibulawa yibunyonyo". The
translation, 'An elephant can be killed by small insects'.

      This quote represents a key message to Zimbabweans that many small
things can overcome a big thing.

      What are the small things that can make a difference? Women banging
their pots to sound out their anger that mealie meal is not available, or
that if they want to buy it they must have a ZANU PF card or have sex with a
grubby 'green bomber'?

      Or the fact that millions of dollars of production are lost whilst
desperate Zimbabweans queue for fuel, bread, cooking oil, salt, sugar,
mealie meal, flour, tampons, milk and milk powder for babies?

      We queue to obtain our identity documents and even to get married. We
queue for transport to go to work and then again to go home. Zimbabwe has
become a nation of queues and a nation endowed with too much patience!

      What will make us impatient enough to revolt? is it that we will
become too bored with perpetual queues or will our pockets empty and wear
our patience thin? There are many issues that have kept our tempers in

      lWe are by nature peace loving and respectful of authority.

      lPoliticians have polarised us across tribal, racial, political and
class lines.

      lWe give too much credit to the words of our politicians and are blind
to their deeds.

      lWe fell for a false message of reconciliation in 1980.

      lAlthough we wanted constitutional reform and the majority voted NO to
ZANU PF imposed amendments, we abandoned the fight for change midway and
went back into our 'no politics' cocoon form of existence.

      lWe lacked the discipline to say NO to a corrupted land reform
campaign and accepted this version instead of one that would become a
'blueprint' for Africa.

      lMany of us then embraced the Movement for Democratic Change and
tasked them with doing a job that we should have done.

      MDC were found wanting in living up to those expectations because they
were unrealistic in the first place.

      So now where are we?

      Well in the year 2000, Zimbabweans rallied together for a common cause
to change the constitution. We won the day. However the prize is yet to be

      The 'coveted trophy' - a new constitution that embodies our
sovereignty and reaffirms our status as a peace-loving nation is yet to be

      The trophy will not be given to Morgan Tsvangirai or any other
politician - it can only be awarded to Zimbabweans at large so we must queue
up to receive it.

      In joining this queue, we must ignore the fact that we are hungry -
6.7 million Zimbabweans are hungry with us. We must put out of our minds the
fact that we are bitter about the Gukurahundi massacre, which was a form of
genocide. 20 000 people disappeared and many died, their families still
grieve amongst us.

      We must close our eyes to the past struggle for independence in which
many lives both black and white were lost and focus on this new struggle for

      We ache for those dying of the HIV/Aids pandemic that is overshadowed
by the politics of the day. Those patients cannot readily access good
nutrition to give them quality of life in their final days.

      We must brace ourselves for the crashing of the economy as we head for
the IMF projected inflation rate of 522.2 percent next year.

      Farmers old and new need to queue with us for the right to produce
food for the nation without political interference, but with access to
collateral and support in terms of inputs for commercial production.

      Many people have already lost their jobs -- they need to join us to
remind politicians that they are more than a statistic. Unemployment is now
85 percent, and 75 percent of the population is living in dire poverty.

      According to an initial census report, the number of resident
Zimbabweans stands at 11.6 million, although indications are that it should
be 14 million. This means that approximately 2.4 million Zimbabweans are now
living in the diaspora. They need to lobby in their new locations and where
possible send help home.

      Zimbabwe was already headed for the economic doldrums before our short
awakening in the year 2000. But now our attitudes seem steeped in despair
and we seem to lack the energy to issue the necessary Save Our Souls(SOS)
call for urgent help.

      We need to shake each other from this sleepwalking and queuing for
change and freedom to participate politically.

      If we are to find our way through this darkness we must have as our
lights the values of; compassion, respect, human dignity and collective

      Many a politician knows that they have deserted these values, and if
Zimbabweans call for a restoration of such principles not even 'Mr
Propaganda' could dispute the call.

      It was therefore interesting to read the speech given by MDC leader,
Morgan Tsvangirai at a fundraising event in Harare. The MDC leader has
offered ZANU PF a route back onto the morale high ground.

      Tsvangirai made a renewed call for President Mugabe to retire
immediately and recommended that ZANU PF then work with MDC to establish a
transitional government. He said: "Unless we begin to move in that
direction, Zimbabwe will continue to bleed and slide into deeper chaos."

      This is an interesting development and Zimbabweans must watch
carefully to see how long it will take ZANU PF to accept the olive branch or
if they remain determined to crush and burn.

      We know that ZANU PF has de-facto power through the flawed march
election, and that a president can only be changed through a presidential
election. We know that this is a route certain people are reluctant to

      However rumour has it that there are those in ZANU PF who fancy that
they can go to confession and have some of their sins absolved and once
again become refreshed. The olive branch has been extended to this camp.

      Yes, we know they will fight amongst themselves as to who should be
the messenger to State house, who could do the unseating and then they will
squabble over who could be the 'chief invader' of the high chair.

      Zimbabweans must queue to attend this 'contest' and supervise from the
sidelines. Once a 'winner' has been announced, maybe even at the ZANU PF
congress, we must bombard that person with our expectations.

      Their first priority will be to overcome the humanitarian crisis
facing our country and secondly to ensure a conducive climate for free
political activity without fear of violence. This 'president on a short
leash' would work with all opposition and stakeholders as a transitional
authority and would be part of a crisis team.

      They would draw up an 18-month recovery programme and appoint an
independent electoral commission to organise fresh presidential elections.

      Guess what Zimbabweans - that means 18 months of 'we talk and
politicians listen and make promises' until a fresh election. Well after all
we have suffered; we could finally have a queue worth joining to get that
'coveted' trophy for winning the struggle for democracy!

      But remember it is many small things or insects that kills the

      Jenni Williams is a member of the International Association of
Business Communicators. She can be reached on email address
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      The continuing deadlock in Zimbabwe

      Brian Raftopoulos
      12/19/02 2:36:01 AM (GMT +2)

      ZIMBABWE seems a long way from the period 1996 to 2000, when for the
first time in the post-colonial period open debate flourished in the country
's politics.

      There was a real sense of possibility as the nation at all levels
began a debate on the constitution, which was substantively an audit of the
governance record of the ruling party.

      This was also a time when social movements, such as the labour and
constitutional movements, emerged as autonomous agencies determined to
establish their own critical agendas and to push for a more serious debate
on the future of the post-colonial state in Zimbabwe.

      Not surprisingly, this focus on the legitimacy of the ruling party
also became a debate about the past, both the inequities of the settler
colonial state and the legacies of the liberation struggle.

      It was a welcome and, for a brief period, fruitful airing of national
issues in which formerly sacrosanct subjects were brought into the open.
Under these conditions, legitimacy gained from an honourable political past
could not serve as a protection against scrutiny in the contemporary period.

      The ruling party's defeat in the 2000 constitutional referendum was
therefore symbolic of a broader need for reflection on the nation and its
past. The gatekeepers of the ruling orthodoxy were understandably vexed by
such questions and their broader implications.

      For the ruling elite, the battle for the past is usually as important
as the fight to retain control in the present. This is because the past
contains reservoirs of legitimacy which must be protected from dissenting
interpretations and enforced as a uniform process of national consciousness,
unfolding in the inevitable victory of the ruling party and its great

      This is the kind of nationalist mythology that has been severely
discredited by historians, but which has found its way back onto the agenda
by leading nationalist politicians, sycophantic intellectuals and ruling
party thugs.

      The so-called orientation courses provided at national youth service
training centres, the proposed loyalty tests for civil servants and the
"history lessons" provided in numerous newspaper articles, news editorials
and television and radio documentaries are part of a broader process of an
ideological policing operation whose precedents can be found in the various
types of dictatorships of the 20th century. This deeply authoritarian
practice is likely to have severely damaging effects on the educational and
research agendas of our schools and universities.

      It is this ideological operation which needs to be understood as
intricately as the more coercive actions of the state. For this regime of
ZANU PF stays in power not only through the more open acts of violence and
repression, but by the symbolic power it has constructed as the bearer of
the liberation legacy, and as the broader champion of the pan-Africanist and
Third World cause.

      I have on many occasions pointed out that what we have witnessed since
2000 is the reconstruction of the state into a more repressive party
structure. This operation has been performed in many areas: the judiciary,
the media, the attacks on the labour movement, the crackdown on selected
non-governmental organisations and the disruption of local government

      This operation has also been performed through the use of youth
militia, the continued use of violence as an election strategy, judicial
harassment of the opposition MDC leadership, the attacks on civil servants
like teachers and health workers considered sympathetic to the opposition
and the politicisation of food aid.

      As important as this overt repression is to the regime, it is also
important to understand the constituencies that this form of politics has
created, and the new opportunities that it has provided for its supporters.
For repressive power not only constrains and destroys, it is also productive
for certain sections of the society.

      The most obvious case of such opportunities is the land occupations.
In this area the ruling party has not only produced casualties, but victors
who it is envisaged will form the new commercial agrarian class that will
provide the long-term basis for the future of ZANU PF.

      At lower levels, notwithstanding the chaos on the land and the
unevenness of distribution, sections of the African middle class are finding
new ways to accumulate that which the structures of the formal economy did
not allow.

      Similarly in the financial world, fuel supply sector,
telecommunications and other sections of industry, a close relationship to
the ruling party has provided fertile soil for a new breed of bankers,
suppliers and other "fast-track" entrepreneurs, while the growing black
market has also created opportunities in various areas.

      Additionally, the non-constitutional activities of the regime have
created a plethora of opportunities for power to be exercised and abused at
local, micro levels, allowing many Chinotimbas to emerge - unaccountable,
brutal and subject to no legal constraints. These extra- judicial activities
have also provided new short-term opportunities for some unemployed youth.

      More disturbingly, this lack of restraint has made life more
vulnerable for women and children as male party members and supporters have
re-asserted their violent, macho behaviour, taking their cue from a
leadership that has been determined to press home its own insecure notions
of masculinity.

      To return to the issue of symbolic power, it has been an essential
part of the ruling party strategy to represent itself as the sole
representative of the national interest and the authentic heir to the
pan-Africanist cause.

      President Robert Mugabe's performance at the World Summit on
Sustainable Development, the recent support of the African-Caribbean-Pacific
(ACP) countries at the European Union/ACP summit in Brussels and the
selective support of the African-American diaspora has had enormous symbolic
importance for the regime. It has made it more difficult to isolate ZANU PF,
and allowed the latter to subordinate the issue of the abuse of the human
rights of Zimbabwean citizens.

      This strategy of ZANU PF has demonstrated the capacity of an
authoritarian state in crisis to repackage itself as a champion of Third
World rights in a global situation where Mugabe's anti-globalisation message
finds a wider resonance.

      However this strategy has a limited shelf life, for it has to ensure
that this symbolic power is transformed into a sustainable, national
development strategy. Presently, ZANU PF is unable to provide any answers to
the rapidly declining economy, with its hyperinflationary trend, fuel and
forex crises and shortages of several basic commodities such as maize,
bread, cooking oil, sugar, milk and other items.

      Most serious of all is the shortage of food that is likely to affect
up to six million people over the next year. It is foolish for the regime to
blame this largely on the drought, for whatever the longer-term effects of
the land occupations, the short-term results are likely to be catastrophic.

      By its own admission, ZANU PF has failed to deal with the food deficit
and, notwithstanding Mugabe's triumphalism, the land question is in
disarray. In a situation where it finds itself economically isolated - with
no access to financial assistance, growing unemployment and negative
economic growth - the regime has resorted to increasing economic controls
over prices, incomes, foreign exchange, food and fuel distribution.

      In effect Zimbabweans are living in a wartime economy. In a more
accountable government driving a more sustainable economic strategy, various
forms of control would have a place for given periods of time. However with
a regime under such siege, these economic controls, linked to increasing
political repression, have moved the country into recognisably fascist-style

      The just-ended ZANU PF annual national conference was predictable in
its outcome. Mugabe used the stage to repeat his anti-imperialist diatribe,
proving beyond doubt the ruling party is devoid of new ideas and strategies.

      At a time when the strategists in ZANU PF should be seeking ways to
move them out of isolation, Mugabe showed how little statesmanship he has to
offer. Given the continued course this regime has set itself, we must thus
expect more destructive economic decisions and further deepening of the
general crisis in this country.

      It is also clear that even if there were some voices in ZANU PF
seeking a change of strategy, those elements have neither the courage nor
the integrity to speak the truth to power in their party.

      One of the minor tragedies of the last few years has been to witness
one-time progressive intellectuals giving their support to this repressive
regime because of its perceived anti-imperialist politics. The severe
intellectual and political limits of this kind of analysis have become only
too apparent in the face of the crude accumulation strategies of the
political elite and the murderous political tactics they have deployed
against their opponents.

      Mugabe's conference speech was saturated with threats and hate-filled
messages that epitomise the kind of vicious structure that ZANU PF has been
for many years.

      It is to the discredit of the South African government that it has
actively embarked on a course to attempt to legitimise ZANU PF rule and to
seek a re-engagement between the latter and the international community on
the basis of the abominations that have characterised Zimbabwean politics
since 2000.

      It is clear that the South African government, for the most part, has
little regard for the MDC and feels that it is more realistic to try to
"manage" ZANU PF into a more presentable form. This strategy says a good
deal about the more general problem of post-colonial politics of former
liberation movements.

      For the opposition and the civic movement, there is little doubt that
there are huge obstacles to be overcome in dealing with such a regime. There
is need for a multi- pronged approach that will include developing a broad
set of alliances nationally, using a variety of mobilisation strategies as
well as continuing to lobby at regional and international levels against the
ruling party.

      It cannot be assumed that deteriorating economic conditions will
automatically mobilise the people. Such conditions are just as likely to
induce a sense of retreat and fatalism. This means that mass job stayaways
have to be properly prepared for, and the objectives more clearly thought

      Moreover, stayaways cannot be the only strategy available to an
opposition. More patient activities based on building and consolidating
legitimacy are essential for the more confrontational approaches to be

      This is a very dangerous time for Zimbabweans, with the loss of hope
quite palpable among many people. However, it should be remembered that in
moments of danger opportunities might also emerge.

      It is not unlikely that given the negative effects of the Zimbabwean
crisis on the region, new pressures will emerge for some form of national
dialogue as a means to finding a way forward. Much work needs to be done to
push Zimbabwean politics in this direction.

      lBrian Raftopoulos is an associate professor at the University of
Zimbabwe's Institute of Development Studies.
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      Residential rentals up by over 200% in 2002

      Staff Reporter
      12/19/02 1:53:39 AM (GMT +2)

      ZIMBABWE'S residential rentals have more than doubled this year,
driven up by cash-rich individuals unable to buy their own properties
because of serious shortages in the residential property sales market, it
was learnt this week.

      A snap survey by the Financial Gazette this week found that since the
beginning of the year, rentals had increased by more than 200 percent in
most of Harare's residential areas as desperate tenants competed for the few
houses and flats on the market.

      Though some of the rental hikes were a result of efforts by property
owners to keep pace with inflation, which rose to a record high of 144.2
percent in October, real estate agents said some of the increases were
caused by potential tenants offering more money to secure accommodation.

      Archie Mberi, a consultant with a Harare real estate firm, said demand
for properties was so high that his firm received more than 10 serious
applications and several telephone inquiries for every house advertised.

      He said some applicants offered to pay more than the asking rental.

      "The demand is so serious that, in some cases, when we get a house to
rent out for say $100 000 per month, someone will not only offer to pay $120
000 but also to pay rentals for the whole year in advance," Mberi said.

      Partly because of this, rentals in high-density areas such as
Mufakose, Budiriro and Glen Norah have increased from around $10 000 in
January to between $25 000 and $30 000.

      Properties in middle-density areas such as Msasa Park, Mabelreign and
Hillside, as well as flats near the city centre, which used to cost between
$15 000 and $20 000 per month, are now around $50 000.

      In low-density areas such as Mandara, Greendale and Borrowdale Brooke,
properties that were over $40 000 in January now cost up to $200 000 per
month. Some up-market properties in these areas are being rented out for $1
million per month.

      Single room rentals have increased from around $1 000 at the beginning
of the year to $3 000 in high-density suburbs and from $3 000 to above $6
000 in middle-density areas.

      Mberi said the margins of rental increases varied depending on the
location of the properties, their condition and whether the owners closely
monitored and followed trends on the market.

      Another property consultant said Zimbabweans who had prospered despite
the country's economic crisis were moving to secure, up-market locations,
while those whose incomes had been eroded by inflation were moving out of
the city centre and from middle-density suburbs to cheaper locations without
reliable transport.

      High-density areas, which are located some distance from city centres,
have been hard hit by transport shortages, the result of Zimbabwe's fuel
crisis and a foreign currency squeeze that has hampered imports of spare
parts and new vehicles.

      "The highest rental offers are made for properties in locations that
have good security and where it is easy to get transport, that is why you
see people moving from areas like Chitungwiza and Glen Norah to areas like
Warren Park and Arcadia," the property consultant said.

      He said those with money to spend and concerned with security were
moving to rent properties in residential complexes like Borrowdale Brooke,
which has round-the-clock security.
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      Zim today: story of an African alarm

      By Charlene Smith
      12/19/02 1:55:49 AM (GMT +2)

      The earth begins bleeding over Limpopo. Viewed from an aircraft it is
red, raw, sunburnt.

      As the plane proceeds over Zimbabwe blackened shrubs cluster, large
tracts of earth carry the greyness of death, parts are as bleached as bone,
depleted by the sun, overgrazing and poor agricultural policies.

      On a Harare street outside a fancy shopping centre a man steps forward
and whispers: "You want maize, sugar, flour?

      Contraband food.

      Driving through the lush Bvumba mountains, a Zimbabwean passenger sees
a pedestrian walking with a maize bag on her head. The passenger shouts for
the car to stop. She interrogates the woman: "Is that maize meal?

      "It is maize."

      "Where did you get it?"

      "From a local farm."

      "How much?

      It was Z$2 000, around R20 at parallel market rates, but also a fifth
of an average monthly salary and Z$800 cheaper than store rates - on the
rare occasions that maize or maize meal finds its way to shop shelves.

      The passenger is on a mission for food - a little later she stops a
woman outside a country store.

      "Is there bread?"

      There is. She emerges triumphantly, after a little haggling, with four

      In the same area close to the Mozambique border, late afternoon is
marked by endless rows of people walking.

      Petrol shortages are biting deep and increased police and army
patrols, trying to prevent Mozambicans coming to Zimbabwe to buy cheap food
and petrol, harass taxi owners.

      Few taxi operators are willing to work in the area. This is a mixed
blessing because unaffordable car repair rates - Z$60 000 for a lubrication
service is six months' salary for a teacher or three months' salary for the
average worker, which means that many cars are not roadworthy.

      One taxi operator who could not afford repair costs would drive in
reverse down winding Bvumba roads because his brakes had failed. His taxi
finally went off a cliff.

      Food and petrol prices are kept artificially low by government price
controls, which in part have led to food shortages because it has become
more expensive to produce food than the returns manufacturers get.

      Land invasions have seen the beef herd cut by 60 percent, leading to
meat shortages.

      Shrunken dairy herds see Zimbabwe producing only a third of its milk
requirements. Manufacturers and stores are increasingly ignoring price
controls and food prices have soared 100 percent in the past month.

      A branch of South Africa's Spar in Harare looks well-stocked - until
one notes that goods are pushed to the front of shelves and spread thinly.

      There are just four litres of milk - a shopper looks around, then
crams all four into his trolley. There is baking powder but no flour, tea
but no sugar.

      At OK Bazaars in another town, 250 g of South African butter costs R28
at parallel market rates of Z$100 to the rand - the official rate is Z$6 to
the rand. The same amount of butter costs R7 in South Africa.

      Hiring a car is a nightmare. At the first company, Rocksands, a small
firm in Harare, the consultant asks for an R80 000 deposit for an aged Mazda
323, the cheapest car available.

      At Europcar in downtown Harare, an offshoot of Imperial car hire, a
US$1 500 deposit is requested. Too tired to argue, someone produces a credit
card that can provide that sort of deposit for a VW Chico.

      At seven one evening, a Mutare petrol store owner watches a petrol
queue quickly assemble as word spreads that a tanker is filling some of his
fuel tanks.

      "This business is impossible now," he says. "I make Z$4.70 a litre on
fuel - 4.7 SA cents - we can't make more because of price restrictions."

      A formerly wealthy Zimbabwean businessman - many people are now
"formerly wealthy" - takes out a bag of crushed wheat that he gives to his
workers, when it is available, as a substitute for maize.

      On roadsides people sell tiny, dark-brown potatoes, which are
replacing maize wherever sufficient water can be accessed to irrigate them.

      There has been no rain since October and even then it has been a mere

      Each day dawns with the sort of deep turquoise skies beloved by
tourists - not that there are many in Zimbabwe - and regarded with
apprehension by farmers.

      A seamstress explains how villagers in an area close to the mountains
that separate Zimbabwe and Mozambique brewed beer and took it up a local
mountain as an offering to the mountain gods to plead for rain.

      The gods on this mountain are believed to be powerful. A white farmer
who went up the mountain with a gun got lost for hours and almost died - the
gods don't like guns.

      No one takes dogs up with them because dogs disappear or are stoned by
the monkeys that are the lookouts for the gods.

      About three kilometres from where an American visitor was shot dead at
a roadblock a month ago, three policemen in blue threadbare uniforms step
across a small country road and flag down our vehicle.

      One has an automatic rifle. A young officer with a smiling face greets
us, courteously answers a question then waves us on. Later that afternoon
when we pass again they are sitting around a fire. They wave cheerfully and
shout hello.

      Sometimes fear in Zimbabwe is more a feeling in your heart than a
daily reality. Black and white Zimbabweans report increased racism, whites
are sometimes insulted by passers-by on the streets.

      What is greater than fear, however, is economic deprivation - 80
percent unemployment and 145 percent inflation that the World Bank predicts
will reach 550 percent next year.

      It shows in people's dusty skin because soap is hard to come by and
expensive. Poverty is seen in broken shoes and torn, dirty clothes. Hardship
shows in faces.

      And yet there are areas where grandeur gives a glimpse of aspirational
Zimbabwe. The old and stately Leopard Rock hotel looks out onto one of the
finest golf courses in Africa.

      Leather armchairs sit empty in a stately pub. There are two cars in
the parking lot. No one in the casino. Staff stand and wait.

      Beautiful huge, black wattle baskets and intricately embroidered
tablecloths flank the roadside to Tony's, the best cake shop in Africa, a
Hansel and Gretel house which owner Tony Robinson refers to as his villa.

      Down a path flanked by huge King proteas and tumbling masses of pink
roses is a small restaurant where tea is served in eggshell china and silver

      The cakes are unbelievable, a voluptuous orange and carrot cake
slathered in cream; tiny meringues; a flourless whisky-and-chocolate cake
decorated with lavender, nasturtiums and chocolate lace.

      Robinson's blue eyes glow with happiness: "I love this place. I lived
in Cape Town before, but I had a dream I needed to follow and I found this -
nowhere in the world is better."

      A few kilometres away at the Vumba club - a favourite of Doris Lessing
and a short drive from Ardroy, the farm she abandoned to pursue her writing
career in London - no one has arrived for Sunday lunch.

      A so-called Thai curry of mince and packaged Indian curry sauce is
reheated. There is a corner in memory of Lessing's son, Peter Wisdom, who
hated his mother. A huge old billiard table sits under canvas.

      A woman with a homemade bamboo fishing rod stands at a lake below the
Vumba club with ragged children at her feet. There are no fish, she
complains, because the weather is cold. Everywhere there are signs of hunger
and an economy rapidly sliding into ruin despite the best efforts of the
Tony Robinsons of Zimbabwe.

      The new budget, announced last month, will also destroy the export
market, businessmen believe, with provisions that insist exports have to be
paid at the unrealistic government-set currency rate and not the
market-related parallel rate.

      The owner of a large company that has relied on exports has a face
etched with sadness.

      "I'm liquidating everything. New labour provisions say I have to pay
workers two months' wages for every year of employment.

      "The new budget provisions will ruin us. I have to lay off workers. We
have had people working for us for 30 years - I'll have to sell everything I
own to pay them. With luck someone will buy the business, otherwise we'll
have to close the company my father began more than 50 years ago."

      In Harare three young men, Tonderai Ndira, 26, Reuben Tichareva, 25,
and Barnabas Ndira, 22, sit on a porch chewing matchsticks. Among them, the
three Movement for Democratic Change youth leaders have been charged 25
times in the past two years. They have yet to be convicted of any crime.

      Charges range from public violence under the wide provisions of the
Public Order and Safety Act to inciting violence.

      Tonderai, the son of a Shona chief, says he has been on the run since
16 war veterans came to his home a year ago. "They were armed with AKs and
handcuffs, claimed they were police and had come to arrest me. They were not
in uniform. I asked for IDs, but they had none. They fired two shots and I
ran - I haven't stopped running."

      He smiles and rubs a scar on his arm, a memento of a police beating.

      He saw starvation across the country. "I was in Mrewa (about 90km
northeast of Harare) and people eating wild fruits called mazhanje and the
root of a flower called elephant. Zanu-PF said they would give the people
food, but they are selling it at $500 for a 20kg bucket. No one has money."

      Mavuku is a township that has grown rapidly over the past two years as
farmworkers from farms that have been taken over have had to move to this
parched scrubland.

      No one appears to have employment, few houses have electricity or
water because of unpaid bills and cutoffs. Everyone is hungry.

      The last time Tonderai worked was in 1998. Reuben lost his job in 1997
when the company he worked for closed down. Barnabas has not found work
since he completed school four years ago.

      They operate an informal food distribution scheme in Mavuku with
donations from wellwishers in Harare. They conduct township cleanups to try
to "encourage a sense of dignity among people", Reuben says. "People get
depressed when they have no work."

      They say HIV-positive people are succumbing to Aids quickly as
inadequate food sees immune systems collapse faster and opportunistic
infections take hold. Across Zimbabwe those who work with HIV/Aids report
that clinics have no medications, "not even paracetamol".

      Zimbabwe has the capacity to produce generic medications for HIV,
given free by Thailand which helped it set up production lines. Production
was to have begun in February. Nothing has happened.

      "We don't understand how the South African government can keep telling
us things are good in Zimbabwe," Barnabas says.

      "Where do they go when they come here? Whom do they speak to? South
Africans must see people are tumbling into SA because the situation in
Zimbabwe is bad."

      Barnabas adjusts his hat.

      "The person who says he doesn't need the British, that he doesn't want
the whites, he has everything. He can say, 'We don't need them', and go to a
hotel afterwards. We go to the bush and dig for roots."

      ENDS - Cape Times
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      Dialogue between Zim, C'wealth breaks down

      Staff Reporter
      12/19/02 3:24:12 AM (GMT +2)

      Dialogue between Zimbabwe and the Commonwealth has broken down, with
Harare said to be refusing to even return telephone calls or diplomatic
notes from Don McKinnon, the secretary-general of the 54-nation club of
mainly former British colonies, diplomatic sources told the Financial
Gazette this week.

      McKinnon was tasked by the Commonwealth to initiate dialogue with
Zimbabwe, which was booted out of the councils of the organisation over its
March presidential poll, which the Commonwealth says President Robert Mugabe
won through violence and fraud.

      The group discusses Zimbabwe again at its heads of state and
government meeting in Nigeria in three months time.

      "Since South Africa and Nigeria blocked tougher action against Mugabe,
he has become more defiant against the Commonwealth and will not even
respond to McKinnon's efforts at restarting positive dialogue. There is no
progress whatsoever on that issue," a Harare-based diplomat said.

      Foreign Affairs Minister Stan Mudenge could not be reached for comment
on the matter yesterday.

      However, Mudenge recently announced that the government had finished
compiling a comprehensive response to the Commonwealth presidential election
observer group's report, upon whose recommendations Zimbabwe was suspended
from the club.

      Director for information and public affairs at the Commonwealth's
London-based secretariat, Joel Kibazo, told the Financial Gazette by phone:
"The secretary-general (McKinnon) has made repeated attempts to have
cooperation and dialogue with the Zimbabwe government over the last few
months but so far, these attempts have proved fruitless."

      South African President Thabo Mbeki and Nigerian leader Olusegun
Obasanjo, who together with Australian Prime Minister John Howard form a
special troika on Zimbabwe, blocked tougher sanctions against Harare in

      The African leaders argued that Harare should be allowed another six
months to address the concerns of the Commonwealth before the group could
take tougher measures.

      Mbeki and Obasanjo also agreed that McKinnon should reopen dialogue
and cooperation with Harare during the half year.

      Analysts say Commonwealth sanctions against landlocked Zimbabwe would
immediately bring down Mugabe and his government because all the landlocked
country's neighbours are members of the group.

      Mugabe and his ruling ZANU PF party have been able to defy smart
sanctions imposed against them by the European Union, United States of
America, Switzerland Australia, New Zealand and Canada only because of the
support of its regional neighbours.
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FinGaz - letters

      ZANU PF mayhem isn't land reform

      12/19/02 2:19:46 AM (GMT +2)

      EDITOR - I am continually amazed that so many people continue to go
along with the propaganda that the land grab had anything whatsoever to do
with genuine agrarian reform.

      Please people, engage brain! Ask yourself: why was the land conference
of 1998 totally rejected by the Zimbabwe government?

      The conference promised billions of dollars for real agrarian reform -
the snag being of course that it had to be "open, transparent and aimed at
the alleviation of poverty". These tenets are and always have been totally
inimical to President Robert Mugabe and his associates.

      For 20 years, zero happened. I have visited many resettlement areas in
the course of my business and, with a tiny number of exceptions, what was
there was far less than what had been there before.

      I particularly remember the areas around Mahusekwa and Msasa, as well
as to the east of Murehwa. You could see where the farms had been, vast
cleared fields with nothing but weeds, and in one corner, possibly, a
decrepit hut and a small patch of sickly-looking maize.

      Strangely, all the farmhouses I saw had been destroyed; the roofs,
doors and windows removed and used to build shacks nearby. Was this

      One of my customers taught agriculture at a school near Ruzawi and he
showed me a few people who had managed to grow some healthy-looking tobacco.
The Zimbabwe Tobacco Association had a scheme for training small-scale
tobacco farmers at a place near Marondera.

      It is way too late now, but when - or if - sanity is ever restored we
will have to rebuild our economy as a matter of extreme urgency. Agriculture
is the foundation of prosperity in Zimbabwe; therefore a sane and workable
agrarian policy is imperative.

      This does not need a United Nations task force and hundreds of
academics; it only needs input from local people and above all common sense.

      First, reset all agricultural land ownership to say 1998. No legal
changes in ownership have taken place since then.

      Next, urgently get farmers who know how to farm back on the land. Food
and foreign currency-generation are vital.

      Once this is done, or even while it is being done, start a genuine
programme of agrarian extension. We need more farmers; we need more food and
more export crops. We can never have too much.

      Those wishing to farm should be assisted with training and loans to
purchase land.

      Although land values can be subsidised land must never be given away
free because land is a national asset and must be well used by the owner.
Those who are unable to repay land loans must have their money returned to
them, and the land then sold to a better farmer.

      Inherent in this scheme is that all farmers who have bought land,
whether a small plot or a large farm, will own it and hold the title deeds.

      Any Zimbabwean who wants to farm should be encouraged and assisted to
become a productive farmer with training and technical assistance.

      As agriculture recovers, so will the supporting industries such as
fertiliser manufacture, stock feed, processing, and agricultural implement
manufacture and repair.

      The problem is that every day the present regime remains in power the
situation gets harder and harder to rectify. But if the
      nation is to survive and prosper in the long term (which is doubtful)
then good common sense plans must be formulated now.

      The present ZANU PF mayhem is not land reform. It was never intended
as land reform, only to seize assets and cling to power.

      Finally, to believe that Mugabe and ZANU PF will change or "see the
light" is wishful thinking of the most dangerous kind. The stark and simple
truth is that the country will continue its plunge into oblivion until he
and his party are removed. There is no other way.

      Charles Frizell,

      United Kingdom.


            Waste no more time on softly-softly approach

            12/19/02 2:19:03 AM (GMT +2)

            EDITOR - The good Zimbabwe that our brothers and sisters
perished for in the gruesome liberation war has since expired. That's a

            The economy of Zimbabwe is liquidated. That's a fact.

            The people of Zimbabwe, who by natural laws must be supreme over
any political body - whether it be a regime or a movement - have been
relegated to the dustbins of poverty, hunger and hopelessness. That's a

            And everybody knows full well that the culprit for all this is
none other than our dear old leader Robert Mugabe and his policies that are
at gross tangent to the dictates of the new world order.

            There are times when I become strongly convinced that the
actions of Mugabe are inspired by the devil. Increasingly, I am beginning to
doubt that Mugabe has the nine degrees that he claims to have.

            The people of Zimbabwe have for long been dragged along the path
of brutality for too long and many have died in silence from Mugabe-induced
starvation and torture. The Zimbabwean economy is long dead and Mugabe is
forcibly dragging it along, hoping that he will bring it back to life. This
is a fallacy.

            Mugabe has failed and will fail to bring back sanity in Zimbabwe
and the people will go through more pain as long as he is there. We must not
sleep and endure on hoping that things will be better. They will not.

            As has been said before, the only solution to this is for the
people of Zimbabwe to reclaim their power from Mugabe. And when I say
claiming their power I mean by all means necessary.

            Those who dream that Mugabe will accede to a new constitution
and a rerun of elections which he knows full well he will lose are wasting
their time. Those who believe that a miracle may happen and that Mugabe will
freely hand over power are in Disneyland, where anything can be possible.

            The fact is that it is only a people's revolution that will
dislodge Mugabe from power and nothing else. And a revolution is an all or
nothing state of affairs.

            There is no middle ground. And history teaches us that freedom
is never for free. The costs of freedom are high.

            I think what is important now is not to waste more time on a
softly-softly approach. It is time for Zimbabweans to map out a robust and
multi-pronged strategy to end this misery once and for all.

            It is time to open to every possibility on this earth to
liberate the people from the agonies of perennial hunger, incessant
brutality and persistent oppression. As Henry Steel Commager once said in

            "Freedom is not a luxury that we can indulge in when at last we
have security and prosperity and enlightment; it is rather, antecedent to
all of these, for without it we can have neither security, nor prosperity
nor enlightment."

            S Bere,

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      The power of queues and our spinelessness

      Maggie Mzumara
      12/19/02 2:09:45 AM (GMT +2)

      Driving around the "City of Kings" (Bulawayo) with a friend a few
weeks ago, she said something that at face value made me burst out laughing.
But upon sobering down and giving it more thought a little later I realised
that it was actually sad and could even be said to be somewhat tragic.
      We had been doing what most other Zimbabweans are doing on a regular
basis in these days of 'survival of the corruptest'. Willing and ready to
pay however-much to whomever-could-deliver we were doing the rounds chasing
after corners, outlets, back of beyonds, dingy sanitary lanes or whatever
else that had been rumoured to have the much sought after present day gold -
the bread, mealie-meal, sugar and yes flour in these parts. These foodstuffs
really have become like gold haven't they?

      So anyway, we frantically drove around this way, that way, took that
turn, skipped that one, and pursued that other one before negotiating that
bend over there we were confronted with queues all over the place, at the
same time mindful of not spending too much petrol in a desperate bid to
delay yet another need to queue for fuel yet another "hot" commodity.

      Left, right and centre we saw long winding queues, and that's supposed
to be no big thing these days seeing as queues have actually become part and
parcel of the our landscape. Really?

      The queues were long, winding, unrelenting, unforgiving and yes an
insistent and stubborn existence. Queuers showed no signs of boredom or
urgency. Instead they demonstrated a preparedness and even some willingness
to wait for whatever commodities they waited for for the long haul - without
so much as a complaint.

      In fact some could even be said to have been enjoying this provision
of something to do in this economy of no-jobs even after acquiring some
decent education.

      Somebody we had in the car remarked something about these queues and
how people were so used to them. That's when my friend said something to the
effect that when and if the situation in the country does stabilize and the
hunt for foodstuffs stopped leaving people without a need to a queue that
some people would actually feel lonely. (We have to hold on to that hope
that this shall come to pass, don't we. What else can we do?)

      "Some people are so used to these queues that they will actually feel
lonely and find their days empty and themselves with nothing to do should
these queues go away," she said matter of factly. To which I laughed out
loud - finding humour in this innocent but powerful and sarcastic
observation. Humour indeed?

      On the surface maybe it's a little funny. But really is it funny? It's
tragic. It isn't funny that a people or nation should be reduced to such? To
a bunch of idle, queue bugs ready and willing to spend loads of time - as
precious as time is supposed to be. Time is supposed to be money you know.
To spend hour upon hour waiting for one loaf of bread. That's if you are
lucky, because often times just when you get your turn at the counter you
are told the bread, mealie-meal or whatever form the gold was taking in that
particular queue is finished and so you go home empty handed.

      For the ordinary person in the street the order of the day is now
pretty predictable. One wakes up, takes a quick wash of the face and teeth
if one is that way inclined but for others they just get up straight from
bed and present themselves like that in these queues in this hot humid
weather .

      This is like in the morning say just after eight. They go to a queue,
line up for some 'Kenya'(yellow mealie-meal), spend a good part of the day
on that queue till say well after mid-day.

      If they get what they wanted they go straight to somewhere else where
they will wait once again in another queue for another elusive turn at
getting yet another rare commodity this time perhaps a loaf of bread, for
which they pay through the nose in these devil-may-care times of

      It might sound silly and tedious but behold the power of the queue.
There is plenty of truth in what my friend said. These queues, in the days
of if you can't beat them join them, have assumed a larger than life
personality and an importance of their own.

      These queues are a sign of the times - a sign we have to contend with.
They have really redefined the Zimbabwean cultural fabric and social scene.
They have taken on such significance - its unbelievable.

      People are devoting so much of their times and days on these queues it
's become like an occupation - one where a person dare not a miss a day lest
you get a less than perfect attendance record.

      It's in these queues where popular opinions of the day are being
formulated and determined. Here news is gathered and exchanged; some
business is conducted as others are taking this opportunity to showcase
their talent and wares - "A-a munoruka madhoiri, mozondirukirawoka
machair-backs/ Uyeluka amadoili? Ungelukela lami amachair-backs (Oh, you can
make doilies, please make me a set of chair-backs); political secrets are
whispered and shared - "Kunyeperwa imi. Ndivo vakauraya
Learnmore/ikiqanjelwa amanga yiyo enjabulalu uLearnmore."

      There also might be some serious discussion of religion, domestic or
foreign affairs - some of the tidbits might have a grain of truth in them
while others maybe quite inaccurate. Here is this one doing the rounds you
be the judge of it.

      Hanzi kuma national youth camps vasikana vanzwa nekurepwa/ kuthi wa
kunational youth camp amankazana ayabanjwa irepu. That the national youth
camps have become breeding grounds for sexual abuse of the female recruits.

      If word at these queues is true apparently Sexually Transmitted
Infections cases are high at these at camps. Of course there are no queues
without their share of pleasant or malicious local neighbourhood gossip in
the form of who is doing what to whom with what effect.

      Apart from being a "hang-out" place these queues have resulted in
knitting together of neighborhood folks creating a feeling that this
closely-knit togetherness represents a new but enduring breed of nationals.

      Enduring, indeed. The so called 'docile' people of Zimbabwe have and
continue to demonstrate much endurance and this might even be said to be
what contributes to their docility. We are too accepting of our ill-fated
lives. We are so quick to "normalise" the abnormal and accept the
"unacceptable". Standing in queues for more than say an hour is not normal
and unless we communicate it as such, the people that mete out these fates
to us will continue doing it why not they are getting away with it aren't
they. But for how long? And till when? Enough of this docility.

      Maggie Mzumara is a local media specialist, social commentator and
entrepreneur.She can be reached at
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Zimbabwe's Opposition Leader Demands Reforms Before Talks with Mugabe
Tendai Maphosa
18 Dec 2002, 21:40 UTC

The leader of Zimbabwe's main opposition party, The Movement for Democratic
Change (MDC), says the British and South African governments are trying to
arrange for him to meet with President Robert Mugabe. But the opposition
leader is not particularly interested in holding such talks.

In a statement, opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai said he is not
interested in talks with the president unless certain conditions are met.

Mr. Tsvangirai accused President Mugabe of trying to use him to deflect
attention from Zimbabwe's crushing economic problems. The opposition leader
said he will not meet with Mr. Mugabe unless he institutes a variety of
reforms including an end to limits on political activities, an end to
attacks on political opponents and an end to what he calls the
politicization of food distribution.

Mr. Tsvangirai also accused Britain and South Africa of working with Mr.
Mugabe in what he called a 'diabolical' plan that would legitimize the
Mugabe government.

Mr. Tsvangirai never accepted the results of last March's presidential
election, which he lost to Mr. Mugabe. Most African countries said the
election was fair, but western countries did not accept the results.

Mr. Tsvangirai has petitioned the courts to have the election result
annulled and fresh elections held under international supervision.

During his party's annual conference last week President Mugabe said he
would not bow to external pressure to form a coalition government with the
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The Times

            December 19, 2002

            England to play in Zimbabwe after ICC ruling
            By John Goodbody and Matthew Pryor

            THE International Cricket Council (ICC) will confirm today that
six matches in the 2003 World Cup can be staged in Zimbabwe and that England
will also fulfil their obligation to play a game in a country still racked
by political and economic turmoil.
            The decision, to be announced at Lord's, will trigger huge
political opposition in Britain, where all the main parties have spoken out
against the national team playing in a country where nearly 200 people have
been killed during the past two years.

            However, Malcolm Gray, the ICC chairman, will emphasise today
that the real concern of cricket's world governing body is the security of
the teams. He will say that ICC inspectors were satisfied during their
recent visit that matches could go ahead safely and that journalists
covering the event, which runs from February 9 to March 23, would be granted

            Zimbabwe is co-hosting the tournament with South Africa and
Kenya, and England's opening match is scheduled to be in Harare against
Zimbabwe on February 13. It would be possible for England to refuse to play
in this game and still qualify for the later stages of the tournament.

            However, it is understood that the ECB will say today that the
national team will take part in this match, which is keenly awaited by
cricket lovers in Zimbabwe. The ECB's one caveat is that it will monitor the
situation and if it became unsafe for a team to visit Zimbabwe, it would
think again.

            The decision by both organisations will create furore in
England. Speaking in a parliamentary debate in Westminster Hall on Tuesday,
Mike O'Brien, the Foreign Office Minister, said that England should boycott
the match. He said that the decision on whether to play "should be taken in
the light of what is happening in Zimbabwe and in recognition of the fact
that the situation - political, economic and humanitarian - could
deteriorate in the next few months. We will not issue orders to the ICC and
ECB . . . but my personal view is that it would be better if they did not

            Yesterday, 10 Downing Street emphasised that the final decision
should rest with the ICC but drew attention to the present Foreign Office
travel advice, which recommends that visitors from the UK should exercise
caution and avoid taking part in partisan activities.

            Assuming the matches go ahead in Zimbabwe, the problem of
unfettered access for the media remains. All accredited journalists will
apparently now be allowed into the country, but if they stray from reporting
on the cricket and related stories into the countryside and political
issues, they will have to deal with the Zimbabwean Government.

            Last month, two journalists - Owen Slot, of The Times, and Huw
Turbervill, who was to have worked for the Daily Mail - were refused visas
to accompany the ICC inspectors. That was despite the best efforts of the
ICC and the Zimbabwe Cricket Union to guarantee entry. Richard Caborn, the
Sports Minister, said at the time: "I do not accept that any country should
censure qualified journalists from reporting on sporting events.

            "If they (the Zimbabweans) are going to ban journalists in this
way, then I think the ICC, the governing body, should consider whether this
is a fit and proper place in which to run international cricket matches."

            The ICC has now apparently been given assurances that, in common
with every other leading sporting event, such as the summer and winter
Olympics and the football World Cup, all media it accredits will be granted

            Whether they will have to pay about $600 for the privilege of a
Zimbabwean visa remains to be seen, as does whether staying in the country
will be as easy as getting in.

            "There is no hard and fast rule, but if journalists end up in
other parts of the country outside Bulawayo and Harare, I would say they are
going over the line," an ICC source told The Times. "If President Mugabe
visits a match, it is legitimate to report it, but if they are found on a
farm in the country, they are probably not writing about the cricket. The
ICC's accreditation extends only to cricket. Those that need admission for
other reasons will have to work that out with the Zimbabwe Government."
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