CHRISTMAS MESSAGE 2002 to all Zimbabwean Christians
From Trudy Stevenson
We Zimbabweans are going to have a very lean Christmas this year.†
us cannot visit our families, nor can we offer each other the gifts
normally give - there is no fuel and no money!† We will be lucky to
decent meal of any description on Christmas Day: there is no mealie
bread, no sugar, no salt, no margarine, no cooking oil . and now we
there is hardly any beef and that if we find a chicken we'll have to
We know whose fault all this is - the ZanuPF regime, whose
Fast Track Land
destruction programme and now their Economic destruction
ensured the destitution of the vast majority of Zimbabweans,
all in the name
of holding onto POWER.
We Christians must not allow
ourselves to be deprived of the joy of
Christmas.† We must not allow the
illegitimate regime to destroy this
special time for us.
that this is a golden opportunity for each of us to focus on the
of Christmas, the celebration of the Birth of Christ and the
gift He brings
of Love to all mankind - and womankind!
I would like us to go to our
various churches over this Christmas period,
and re-gain the religious aspect
of this holiday.† Let us hear over and over
again the Christmas story of
Bethlehem, of the poor couple fleeing for their
lives from the fanatical King
Herod, and for whom there was no room in the
Inn - and so the Baby Jesus was
born in a cattle shed.† How many poor
Zimbabweans have had to flee their
homes these last three years since the
Referendum, as they have been
persecuted for daring to support the
opposition, or simply because they were
unfortunate enough to be living on a
Let us remember
all those persecuted Zimbabweans, and others who have been
and are persecuted
in other ways.† Let each of us try to help at least one
other Zimbabwean who
is less fortunate even than we ourselves are.† Yes, it
may take an effort -
we will have to go out of our home and maybe to an area
we are not used to
going - to a high-density area, or to a derelict farm
compound, or to a poor
area of town, or to an old people's home.† But I can
assure you that if you
go there with love for your fellow Zimbabweans, you
will be well rewarded
with warmth and love in return.† If you can take an
old garment you no longer
wear, or a kitchen or garden utensil you don't
really need, so much the
better - or a toy or book that is no longer wanted,
or a packet of sweets or
a tin of food no-one really needs in your family.
Go with your family, or
with a friend or two - and share the real spirit of
this be our gift to each other this year - to get to know each other
and to help each other spend a Happy and Peaceful Christmas!
Not all the
darkness in the world can put out the light of one small candle.
candles burn bright, this Christmas - and remember that the greatest
all is Love!
Trudy Stevenson MP
Troubled Zimbabwe marks a cheerless Christmas
CHIRUNYA, Zimbabwe, Dec. 24 - Frail from hunger and desperate to
crying of her two starving children, Patricia Marapananga received
Christmas gift from international donors - a handout of corn
†††††† ''They cry because I don't have anything to give them. But today
are lucky,'' she said.
†††††† Zimbabweans, suffering their worst-ever
economic crisis, faced a
bleak, cheerless holiday in this predominantly
Christian nation plagued by
starvation, fuel shortages and a financial
†††††† The economy has been crushed by nearly three years of
violence. The government's seizure of thousands of white-owned
farms has caused a collapse in agriculture, worsening the
†††††† Inflation hit a record 175 percent this month,
according to the
government, but analysts say it is actually far
†††††† Marapananga and another 1,470 families were given corn meal
protein supplements by the World Food Program and the Christian Care
on Tuesday. But even that gift was bittersweet.
received only half what she needs to feed her family for
the next month, when
aid agencies will again bring food to this remote,
impoverished district 160
miles northeast of Harare.
†††††† ''There isn't enough to go round,'' said
Hosea Muchapondwa, a
Christian Care project officer.
†††††† Donors have
given only 60 percent of the food aid needed to help feed
the 6.7 million
Zimbabweans - more than half the population - in danger of
according to the World Food Program.
†††††† Addmore Mukumura, a Christian
Care relief official, said careful
families might be able to squeeze one meal
a day from the limited aid
rations. Interviews by relief officials in recent
weeks showed some families
only scraped together one meal every two or three
†††††† ''There isn't the money in this area to buy food, even if it
readily available,'' Mukumura said.
†††††† Many in the village have
resorted to eating wild fruits and roots,
some of them chopped and repeatedly
boiled to remove toxins.
†††††† Most years, relatives from Harare visit the
village for Christmas,
bringing food, soft drinks, cigarettes and other
†††††† ''They are not coming. There's nothing to bring and they can't
the bus fare,'' said Brighton Hokonya, a father of eight.
Officials at Harare's main Mbare Msika bus station, which usually
tens of thousands of city dwellers to their rural families on
have reported a sharp slump in passengers.
†††††† ''Business is very bad. Our
buses haven't been able to get enough
fuel and people are worried if they get
home they won't be able to get
back,'' said Johnson Kumbula, a ticket
†††††† Long lines of vehicles still coiled around city blocks Tuesday
motorists waited for promised gas deliveries the government said would
shortages ahead of the Christmas break.
†††††† Because drivers spend
so much of the day waiting for gas, taxis have
stopped using their meters and
buses have begun ignoring government-fixed
fares. Commuter fares have more
than doubled in the past week.
†††††† In Chirunya, the traditional Christmas
meal of bread, chicken and
rice is a distant dream for Marapananga's family
†††††† Instead, she will mash seed pods from a stunted acacia tree
to make a
sauce to go with the bland, boiled corn meal porridge she will cook
†††††† ''There is nothing else,'' she said.
Govt: We messed up
Harare - Zimbabwe's government
has admitted failing to ensure adequate fuel
supplies for thousands of people
to travel over the festive period.
Long and winding queues of cars formed
at a few petrol stations that had the
scarce commodity in the capital on
Wednesday while the majority went dry.
"I have to admit that the
situation is bad," Reuben Marumahoko, the deputy
minister of energy and power
development told the state daily The Herald in
a story on
The southern African country has experienced intermittent fuel
since December 1999.
The acute shortages have been
attributed to lack of foreign exchange to
import petroleum-based fuels and to
corruption at the sole oil procuring
parastatal, National Oil Company of
Despite promises by the government last week that it
had acquired supplies
to ease the shortages over the Christmas holidays,
critically scarce in Harare.
The shortage of fuel has
led some public transport operators to raise their
fares to four times the
The government announced last week that it had bought fuel
worth more than
$15m from Independent Petroleum Group (IPG) of Kuwait, Sasol
and Engen of
South Africa and Sandstone of Mozambique.
vital fuel deal that President Robert Mugabe struck with Libya appears
have run into problems of late.
Over the past two years, Tamoil,
Libya's international oil firm had become
the single largest fuel supplier to
Zimbabwe, accounting for about 70% of
the country's needs.
deal Zimbabwe paid for fuel in local currency paid into a
account. The payments would be offset with exports of beef,
and other selected products to Libya.
But the energy minister last week
said "because of the reality on the
ground, we have not been able to meet
Zimbabwe is also experiencing shortages of basic
commodities such as sugar
and beef, among others. - Sapa-AFP
Poverty Driving Rural Zimbabweans to Desperate Measures
Integrated Regional Information Networks
December 24, 2002
the web December 24, 2002
The poverty that has
accompanied Zimbabwe's economic crisis has driven many
desperate rural people
to prostitution, robbery and gold panning to survive,
the latest Famine Early
Warning Systems Network (FEWS NET) report said.
"Cross border trading
with neighbours Mozambique, Zambia and Botswana is
also on the increase as
households try to find any way they can to make ends
meet," the report
With maize and wheat being sold at eight times the government-set
oil, salt and rice prices escalating, income generating
diminishing for rural households, FEWS NET
The demand for casual labour, which provided one of the few sources
had declined in 90 percent of rural villages while 96 percent of
reported a decrease in the flow of remittances from urban areas,
As a result, 80 percent of rural households
reported eating wild foods they
did not normally consume, which increased the
risk of poisoning.
Preliminary results from a recent assessment trip by
NGOs found that the
government-controlled Grain Marketing Board (GMB) and
food aid sources were
supplying only about 40 percent of food needs in the
rural areas, with the
remainder being met through parallel markets, wild
foods, gifts and
Prospects were not much better in urban
areas where workers battled
inflation and many did not even receive their
traditional Christmas bonus.
The government's decision to provide relief
by freezing the prices on a long
list of commodities saw prices shoot up on
the parallel markets due to
shortages and demand.
The Zambia Post
reported on Tuesday that the Zambian government had lifted
import ban on certain commodities that speculators with
foreign currency were
buying in Zimbabwe and selling cheaply in Zambia. A
set of controls would
prevent further "dumping", the newspaper reported.
In addition to current
food shortages, comparisons with previous planting
patterns and harvests,
combined with predicted rainfall patterns and a
moderate El Nino, were
causing concern over next year's food security
area under cultivation for food crops was less than 50 percent of
average and for cash crops like tobacco, a vital foreign currency
was less than 25 percent of the average, FEWS NET said.
Over the past
year, foreign exchange shortages have caused disruptions to
fuel supplies and
the import of fertilisers and agricultural chemicals.
production was also adversely affected by a lack of seed and
a lack of energy among farmers too malnourished to
The land redistribution exercise had also created
an environment of
uncertainty in the farming sector.
"If things do not
improve, food security will once again be of major concern
FEWS NET said.
It urged the government to review its grain distribution
system and said the
procurement and distribution of food aid needed to be
stepped up urgently to
address the unmet needs of rural households.
Fuel rationing grips Zimbabwe before Christmas
HARARE, Dec. 24 - Zimbabwean filling stations were extending
rationing on Tuesday in response to an acute fuel shortage that has
public transport and prevented many Christmas family
†††††† Oil industry sources said emergency imports were flowing in
the three-week-old crisis, but shortages were still serious and
motorists and people returning to rural homes for Christmas were
towns across Zimbabwe.
†††††† Media said even burials had had
to be postponed because mortuaries
were running out of fuel for their
†††††† ''Because there are no signs we are going to get the kind of
need, service stations have from today been forced to introduce
rationing measures,'' one service station attendant told
†††††† Fuel company officials were not available to
†††††† Energy and Power Development Minister Amos Midzi said on
Zimbabwe's state oil procurement monopoly NOCZIM had released
million litres of petrol (gasoline) onto the market on Saturday
†††††† He said another 1.9 million litres would hit the streets
and Tuesday, and that NOCZIM would go on importing fuel to ease the
†††††† But industry officials have said the fresh supplies
are too scanty to
cover Zimbabwe's needs, let alone an outbreak of panic
buying. Midzi was
unavailable for comment on Tuesday.
†††††† In the
capital Harare, about a dozen filling stations had fuel on
Tuesday and bus
stations were choked with commuters looking for transport to
†††††† Midzi has said a deal with Libya to supply 70 percent of
country's fuel ran into problems because Zimbabwe was unable to supply
beef, sugar and tobacco agreed as payment. He said Zimbabwe had no
currency for other oil import deals.
†††††† The fuel crisis has
deepened Zimbabwe's economic woes and sparked
public anger against President
Robert Mugabe's government, in power since
independence from Britain in
†††††† Zimbabweans already face shortages of staples including bread,
cooking oil and sugar. Relief agencies say nearly half the 14
population are going hungry.
†††††† Critics say the crisis has
been made worse by Mugabe's seizures of
white-owned farms which have
disrupted commercial farming. The 78-year-old
former guerrilla leader blames
drought and sabotage by foreign and domestic
Zimbabweans scrabble along as economy erodes
Shortages: Despite ingenuity in the face of drought and
hunger, a nation is increasingly divided into a few wealthy and many very poor.
By John Murphy
published December 24, 2002
HARARE, Zimbabwe -- From the Mercedes-Benz he drives to work to his
new three-story mansion set in the hills outside the city, it is clear that
Zimbabwe refrigerator manufacturer Callisto Jokonya is having a good
In any other country, such success would not be remarkable. But
this is Zimbabwe, a country on the verge of economic collapse, where half the
population is threatened by starvation and even the wealthy suffer from acute
shortages of everything from milk to beef to cooking oil.
Jokonya acknowledges that his fortune
defies logic: Why would Zimbabweans be buying refrigerators when they have no
food to put inside?
The answer reveals less about what Jo- konya is doing
right as a businessman than how much has gone wrong in Zimbabwe.
country of 12 million people, once the breadbasket of Africa, has slid into its
worst economic, political and humanitarian crisis since independence in
President Robert G. Mugabe's seizure of the country's white-owned
farms -- launched more than two years ago -- has unraveled the agriculture-based
economy, disrupted food production and left thousands of people out of
If that were not enough, Zimbabwe is one of six southern African
countries hit by the worst regional drought in more than a decade, threatening
the lives of 14 million people -- nearly half of them in
"Zimbabwe is at the epicenter of the crisis in southern Africa.
It's the country where everything is at its worst," said Stephen Lewis, a United
Nations special envoy to Africa, during a recent Zimbabwe visit.
Zimbabwe today is to see a country turned upside down: Where 6.7 million people
face starvation in a nation that was once celebrated for its ability to produce
Where a severe fuel shortage has crippled transportation in
the country, creating long lines of cars, taxis and buses waiting to fill up at
gas stations nationwide. Where Zimbabweans not waiting for fuel spend much of
their days and nights standing in equally long queues for such basic commodities
as bread, sugar, salt and maize.
Where inflation is so high -- 144
percent this year and predicted to jump to 500 percent next year -- that some
stores announce hourly price increases over loudspeakers.
according to one recent economic report, workers who earned $150 a month in 1980
take home less than $15 today.
Where that worker would be considered
lucky because more than 60 percent of the country's population is
And where 10 percent to 20 percent of the population,
frustrated with life here, has fled the country.
The Zimbabweans left
behind, no longer trusting their currency, are scrambling to put whatever meager
savings they have into assets that might keep their value: cars, bicycles, cell
phones, houses and -- much to Jokonya's benefit this business year --
"If I buy a fridge and I don't even use it, two months
down the line it will be worth more," says Jokonya, who has invested his savings
in apartments, an extra car and a second house.
The absurdities of
Zimbabwe's economy are not limited to refrigerator sales. Although the vast
majority of the country is hopelessly poor, there is a small group of people
The stock market is booming. So is the property market,
with housing costs up 400 percent in the past two years. Both, like the
refrigerators, are viewed as investments that might keep pace with the runaway
No more middle class
There is a bizarre mix of affluence and poverty.
Zimbabwe's well-to-do drive sports cars, build summer homes and flock to
Harare's finest restaurants for three-course meals of filet mignon, prawns and
goose. The poor flirt with a devastating famine.
"There are two classes
of people in Zimbabwe today: the low class and the high class. There is no more
middle class; they have fallen away to the low class," says Fungai Mutizhe, a
used car dealer who is doing a brisk business this year. "In these hard times,
there are people doing well taking advantage of the situation."
driving these economic distortions is the government's refusal to acknowledge
the collapse of the currency. Officially, one U.S. dollar is worth 55 of
Zimbabwe's currency. But on the black market, one U.S. dollar fetches 30 times
The government, however, has bristled at calls for it to
devalue the currency, blaming the crisis on enemies of the state. Inflation?
That's the result of greedy money traders and businessmen. Shortages? Whites and
opposition party leaders must be hoarding goods.
In an effort to curb
inflation, the government recently slapped price controls on almost every
imaginable item, from toilet paper to television sets, and shut down all foreign
These measures only made life more difficult. Unable to
sell their products at a profit with price controls, manufacturers are either
closing their factories or selling their goods on the black market at hugely
One Zimbabwe family complained that it spent one
quarter of its $4 weekly income on a bar of soap.
Everyone, it seems,
from flower sellers to restaurant owners to bellhops, is involved in the
underground trade. No one appears to be afraid to get caught because, traders
say, government officials are heavily involved in it themselves.
concern for currency traders is that the higher inflation grows, so does the
weight of the Zimbabwe dollars they must haul around town.
"Have you ever
carried 3 million Zimbabwe dollars [about $3,000]?" asked Krishna Makurumidze, a
black market money trader. "It's heavy. You have to use a shoulder bag to carry
One measure of just how far Zimbabwe has fallen is
that Mugabe's government freely admits that the country has problems. Not too
long ago, government officials offered perpetually sunny forecasts for the
economy and the country's harvests.
Speaking this month at a conference
of his ruling party, the Zanu-PF, Mugabe appealed to the country to work
together to reverse the economic decline and end the shortages of food and
almost all other goods. But he did not accept responsibility for any of these
Instead he blamed a regional drought and his growing list of
enemies: the British, the West, members of the country's main opposition party
and, as always, the country's white population.
"We wish that more would
join us as we seek common solutions to the hardships imposed on us by our
detractors," Mugabe told his party leaders. The solution to all the country's
challenges is land reform, Mugabe said.
But what's clear, critics say, is
that land reform is the source of the country's ills.
Consider the case
of Stan Magutakuona, 55, a peasant farmer who tilled a small patch of inferior
farmland while he watched his white neighbors grow rich with their large
Like most Zimbabweans, Magutakuona wanted the
government to correct the historic imbalance of land ownership that left former
white colonists -- who make up less than 1 percent of the population -- with the
majority of the best farmland.
But few were prepared for the tactics
employed by Mugabe. His popularity waning in 2000, Mugabe unleashed bands of
so-called "war veterans" on the countryside who seized the country's richest
commercial farms for redistribution to black peasants. Of the country's 4,500
white-owned farms, about 4,000 were shut down in this way.
In the winter
of 2000, Magutakuona was one of several dozen peasants who each received 30-acre
plots of prime land on Rona Farm, a large white-owned commercial farm north of
Harare. Magutakuona left behind his smaller, inferior piece of communal farmland
nearby and moved his family onto his new property.
He was overjoyed, he
recalled, at the prospect of perhaps living someday as well as the previous
owner. But two years later, that dream, he says, is gone.
On a recent
morning, Magutakuona emerged from the mud hut where he lives with his wife and
two children. He was barefoot and dressed in a torn suit coat and tattered
pants. His land grant did not include the white owner's home, his farm equipment
or any guidance.
Tilling the land with an ox-drawn plow, Magutakuona
produced 10 tons of maize last year. That harvest gave him enough for his family
and a little left over to sell. He hoped to grow more, but without modern
farming equipment it was difficult, he said. This year about half of his
property was left fallow.
"Giving the black man the land is a noble idea,
but the government must understand that we are in need of help," says
Magutakuona. "It's not what I dreamt of."
Without the capital to invest
in tractors, seed and fertilizer to plant, many resettled farmers have found it
difficult to grow crops. They can't go to a bank for a loan because the
government has not given the resettled farmers title to the property.
the hands of a commercial farmer, who could use modern agricultural techniques,
Magutakuona's plot might have produced more than 10 times that amount of
Now repeat this exercise across thousands of pieces of farmland
and it is easy to see why Zimbabweans -- even without a drought -- will be
hungry, critics say.
"A single resettled farmer will be able to feed his
own family, whereas the farmer he replaced could have fed thousands of
families," says John Robertson, a Harare-based economist.
Deep political divide
Despite the clear
shortcomings of the land-reform program, Mugabe has clung to it as the central
policy of his government. Anyone who disagrees with him is dismissed as a
supporter of the opposition party, the Movement for Democratic Change, or
"They are the enemies of the people and our government. We must be
on our guard. Our survival is an ongoing war," Mugabe said at the party
conference this month.
A deep political divide separates the ruling party
and the opposition. Just how deep it has become is clear in the town of Chegutu,
about a two-hour drive southwest of Harare.
A year ago, Francis Dhlakama,
a former primary school teacher and member of the MDC, won the mayoral race in
Chegutu, an agricultural and mining community of 50,000 people. He defeated a
member of Mugabe's Zanu-PF.
But winning the office was not as difficult
as taking it. Members of the Zanu-PF refused to allow the newly elected mayor to
enter City Hall, blocking the entries to him for more than a month. When he
finally got in, the mayor discovered that the deputy mayor, a Zanu-PF member,
had taken over the mayoral office. Later, the deputy mayor also seized the
His year in office has been hazardous work. When he tried to
clean up corruption in the town finance department and reshuffle members of
various departments, a band of Zanu-PF supporters tossed a gasoline bomb in his
When he went to the news media last month to voice his
complaints, his house was pelted with rocks and his bushes were burned
The next day when he showed up at City Hall for work, a mob of 30
Zanu-PF supporters wielding pickaxes and iron bars attacked him. He barricaded
himself inside the office until riot police arrived an hour later. He has not
returned to City Hall since that day.
"I'm afraid of going to the
office," said Dhlakama, in an interview from his Chegutu home, where he has been
hiding for much of the past month. Two guards stood watch outside. "I'm trying
to evacuate my family out of the country."
"Zanu-PF's strategy is to
crush the opposition and crush them into insignificance," said a Western
diplomat in Harare. "But even if they crush the MDC, they can't crush the
opposition because at least half of the population, or more than half, is
unhappy with the government."
In these times of hunger, whether you eat
is political, too. In Chegutu, members of the Zanu-PF party who sit on the City
Council receive government food to distribute in their districts; the mayor and
the one opposition party council member receive none. MDC members here accuse
the ruling party of handing out the food only to party
Food and politics
Chegutu is not the only place where such accusations
have been made. Aid groups have accused Zimbabwe's government of withholding
food from opposition party supporters. In October, the United Nations' World
Food Program suspended operations in the southwestern district of Insiza when
members of Mugabe's party seized tons of donated grain. The WFP, which has
warned that it would not tolerate any politicization of its food, has since
agreed to restart distribution.
There is a joke told on the streets of
Zimbabwe these days: One Zimbabwean says to another: "Have you heard that
Zimbabweans have the highest IQs in the world?"
"Really?" says the second
"Yes. I queue for gasoline. I queue for bread. I queue for
sugar. I queue for maize. I queue for" (the latest item in short supply). The
ability to joke in times of crisis reveals one of the oddities of the country.
For all the problems here, people manage to limp along.
"The collapse of
the Zimbabwean economy has seemed imminent for several years but, the more bleak
things look from the outside, the more ways to survive are found in this
resilient country," concludes a report released this month by South African
Institute of International Affairs.
From a distance, it could almost appear that nothing
is wrong in the capital, Harare. Despite the fuel shortages, business carries
on. Despite having to depend on a line of credit for electricity, the government
held a Christmas tree-lighting ceremony. While hungry rural dwellers forage for
roots and leaves and grow more dependent on international aid, the country's
elite hold elaborate year-end banquets and dances in Harare's five-star
But look closer, and all the hardships come into view. In the
past month, Harare residents worried about the safety of drinking water because
the government lacked hard currency to import chemicals to keep the water clean.
Dozens of companies were considering shutting down because they could no longer
afford to do business. A Harare woman tried to bite off the lip of a man who
tried to steal her two loaves of bread.
At Jokonya's refrigerator
manufacturing plant in the outskirts of Harare, Jokonya remains open for
business despite all the uncertainties. When there were food shortages, he
started giving his 200 employees a free lunch so they would be able to work.
When there were fuel shortages, he bought his entire staff bicycles so they
would show up at work.
He learned recently that the government price
controls will apply to his refrigerators. That will no doubt hurt his sales to
people looking for a hedge against inflation.
He is not so sure business
will be as good next year. That is part of the unsettling future he can already
Copyright © 2002, The Baltimore Sun
Threat to dig up cup pitches in Zimbabwe
By Neil Manthorp
cricketers face increasing pressure to take a moral stand by
opening match of the World Cup in Zimbabwe on February 13,
a protest group is
threatening to dig up the pitches in Harare and Bulawayo.
group called Zimactivism has been phoning Zimbabwe players,
urging them to
pull out of the tournament in protest at President Robert
A senior player said threats had been made to "dig up the cricket
plant maize for starving people", while other callers said they
holes in the covers" at the World Cup venues in Bulawayo and
The International Cricket Council said last week that last
fact-finding trip to Zimbabwe had assured it that there would be no
to players and officials, and that the home side's six matches - three
Harare, against Namibia, England and India, and three in Bulawayo,
Australia, Holland and Pakistan - would proceed as
But it did admit that there were contingency plans to switch the
South Africa, the main host, if violence escalated.
Field, the British Labour MP for Birkenhead and former welfare
minister, is calling on England's players to refuse to go and has
all-party group of MPs to protest against the Zimbabwean
He said: "The players can no longer say it is just a game of
cricket - the
policy of genocide under Robert Mugabe is totally unacceptable,
and I hope
players from all sides stand up and say they don't want to go
"The English Cricket Board and the ICC have become so blinded by
that they are not bound to make political judgments, but it is
Mugabe will milk the World Cup for all it is worth to take attention
murderous policies. It will be surprising if some of the players
out, and then I hope the dyke will crumble."
England player Gladstone Small, who works for the Professional
Association, said Nasser Hussain and his team should stand up and
"The cricket authorities have made their decision - it now comes
individual players," he said.
- Sunday Telegraph
Seed shortages hit Zim farmers
Posted Tue, 24
Production of the staple food crop in Zimbabwe, where eight
facing famine, is threatened by an acute shortage of maize seed
fertiliser, according to a report published on Tuesday.
Agricultural Research and Extension Services (Arex) said in their latest
and livestock report, cited by the state-run Herald newspaper that
problems associated with seed, fertiliser and draught power
persist" throughout the country.
But Agriculture Minister
Joseph Made accused commercial seed producers of
holding back inputs in a bid
to undermine President Robert Mugabe's
controversial land reform
"We are aware that some companies are holding on to the seed
they do not want to complement the government's efforts under
reform programme," Made told the Herald.
"All these are
efforts meant to frustrate the ongoing land reform
Zimbabwe, which is threatened by one of the worst famines in
with more than two thirds of its 11.6 million people at risk,
is almost half
way through its current agricultural season.
is the worst-hit among six southern African countries also
Foreign aid agencies say the problem here has been
disruptions to agriculture on white-owned farms acquired by
for resettlement of new black farmers under a chaotic land
Monitor Food Production Chain
December 24, 2002
Posted to the web December 24,
With the farming season now almost halfway through,
alarm bells are being
raised over a possible below normal maize produce due
to the shortage of
seed and fertilisers.
The Government has already
put in place measures to deal with the threat of
another drought by
establishing an irrigation department within the Ministry
of Rural Resources
and Water Development to ensure the country has constant
supplies of water
for urban, industrial, mining, agricultural and rural use.
reported elsewhere in this newspaper, the Deputy Minister of Rural
and Water Develop-ment, Cde Tinos Rusere, said the Government
guarantee the nation a stable and secure food supply all year
Irrigable areas on existing estates would increase as the
identifying new land across the country for irrigation
programmes as a
contingency measure should drought hit the region
The Masvingo winter maize crop initiative has proved that the
be self-sufficient even when there is a drought and that
farmers can grow
three crops a year under irrigation.
The country has
enough water and a proper and regularised resource
management strategy by all
farmers was needed to ensure there were adequate
However, this could all come to naught due to the acute shortage of
fertiliser that has seen the area put under the maize crop
country falling below normal almost halfway into the farming
According to the Department of Agricultural Research and
farmers were being forced to carry on with their
without the necessary inputs such as
It is, therefore, imperative that the Government should move
with speed to
plug all the loopholes that could be detrimental to a
Another food crisis next year could cripple the
economy as billions of
dollars would have to be diverted from other crucial
economic areas to cover
As it is, Government has had to
mobilise over $8,6 billion to import food
and avert starvation at the expense
of other crucial imports such as fuel
and other inputs required by the
A good harvest will unlock these resources to other
There is, therefore, an urgent need to set up a
multi-sectoral committee to
monitor the food production chain, from
identifying irrigable land, ensuring
that all the available land has been put
to good use, sourcing extra seed
and fertiliser inputs to the final
harvesting of this produce.
The Masvingo food initiative has already
shown that maize can be grown all
year round, which means farmers can
continue to plant maize to satisfy
Although the rains
have been patchy in some areas, the situation looks quite
good in most good
agricultural belts that have received almost 80 percent of
requirements. The current challenges are unwittingly forcing
start thinking for themselves about how to overcome these
ushering in a new era of truly home-grown solutions to our
Once we take control of all the factors associated with our
processes, then we are home and dry.
New Farmers Not Paying for Irrigation Water
December 24, 2002
Posted to the web December 24,
New farmers are not paying for water used for
irrigation, threatening the
operations of catchment councils.
chairman of the Mazowe Catchment Council, Mr Jerry Gotora, said many
were not aware that water used for irrigation has to be paid
"The land resettlement exercise saw a drastic change of
as some farmers had left and their addresses were no
longer functional. This
means most of our forms are lying somewhere in
disused post office boxes,"
Mr Gotora said plans were in
place to launch an awareness campaign next year
so that the farmers
understood the importance of paying water levies.
New farmers are being
encouraged by the Government to use all available
irrigable land for crop
production. Many responded to the call and grew
However, they have not been paying water levies, creating problems
councils which manage catchment areas. With yet another drought looming,
Government is placing heavy emphasis on irrigation development. It has
established an irrigation department within the Ministry of Rural
and Water Development to ensure the country has constant supplies
for urban, industrial, mining, agricultural and rural use even in
The Deputy Minister of Rural Resources and Water
Development, Cde Tinos
Rusere, said the Government wanted to guarantee the
nation a stable and
secure food supply all year round through irrigation. The
established the department in response to the drought
Cde Rusere said irrigable areas on existing estates would
increase as his
ministry was identifying new land across the country for
programmes. The Government was identifying land for irrigation as
contingency measure should drought hit the region again.
already secured finances from the Government just for this
deputy minister said at the second Annual General Meeting of
Catchment Council last week.
The Masvingo winter maize crop initiative
had proved that the country could
be self-sufficient even when there is a
drought and that farmers can grow
three crops a year under irrigation. The
country is experiencing severe food
shortages as a result of the
The country has enough water and a proper and regularised
management strategy by all farmers was needed to ensure there were
supplies to all.
"The issue of water resource management and
allocation is very topical,
especially with the land redistribution exercise
which saw new players
coming onto the farming scene," said Cde
"The water sector reforms came up with comprehensive strategies
management of water resources with an overall view of improving equity
access and security of supply for sustainable development within the
"Gone are the days of water rights and priorities where a
minority group had
a monopolistic overbearing over control of
Cde Rusere urged farmers to pay for the water they use for
He said the Water Act and the various supporting Statutory
there to protect farmers.
"Everyone who uses water
for commercial purposes or pollutes the river
systems is required by law to
pay the gazetted fees and levies," Cde Rusere
He said failure to
adhere to the regulations would result in legal
"Only through proper and sound internal revenue generation and
can you be self-sustaining, thereby reducing your dependence on
allocations from the Government," he said.
17 people killed, 112 injured in road accidents in
Xinhuanet 2002-12-24 21:46:51
††††† HARARE, Dec. 24 (Xinhuanet) --
Seventeen people were killed and 112
others were injured in 214 accidents
recorded on the highways from Friday to
Monday in Zimbabwe, police said here
††††† Assistant Commissioner Wayne Bvudzijena said five of
the people were
killed in Masingo and another five in Matebeleland
††††† "A total of 5,410 tickets were issued to motorists who
fines amounting to 13.1 Zimbabwean dollars (about 238,182 US
††††† Most of the road accidents occurring on
black spots were being
caused through speeding, inattention or misjudgment,
with inadequate warning signs or overtaking
††††† There were 68 black spots which had been identified on the
††††† "Travelers should expect to encounter
police road blocks along the
country's highways. The traveling public should
cooperate withpolice at
these roadblocks as they were meant for the
protection of all and to check
on both safety of vehicles and the carrying
ofillegal items," said
††††† The highway patrol was out
in full force to ensure that speeding and
drunken drivers were brought to
Zim fuel imports flood in
Posted Tue, 24 Dec 2002
Zimbabwe said on Monday emergency fuel
imports were pouring in to ease a
severe fuel crisis which stranded thousands
returning to rural homes for
Christmas, but oil industry sources said there
were still serious shortages.
Energy and Power Development Minister Amos
Midzi told Zimbabwe government
media that state oil procurement monopoly
NOCZIM had bought and released
onto the market nearly three million litres of
petrol (gasoline) on Saturday
But industry sources said
that was enough to supply Zimbabwe's needs for
just three days in normal
conditions - even without the panic buying that
the crisis has
Midzi said another 1.9 million litres would hit the streets on
Tuesday, and that NOCZIM would go on importing fuel to ease the
The crisis has angered a nation already
grappling with a deepening economic
crisis blamed on President Robert
Fuel shortages stranded thousands of people at bus
stations across the
southern African country at the weekend, waiting for
transport to their home
villages for the festive season.
Mugabe's government said Zimbabwe had ordered fuel worth over $15
from Kuwait and South Africa, but oil industry officials said the
that had come in so far were too small to make a major difference.
problem we have at the moment is that almost every motorist has been
for fuel and the government will have to double the supplies coming
the next three days if we are to see a major difference," one
Midzi was unavailable for further comment on Monday.
Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation quoted him as saying fuel flows via
government's oil pipeline from the Mozambican port city of Beira had
and would ease the situation. Midzi told the official Herald
emergency fuel imports were being distributed countrywide but
did not have the capacity reach every place at the same time.
In the capital
Harare, only a handful of filling stations had fuel on Monday
still waited at bus stations across the country. Midzi said on
barter fuel deal with Libya to supply 70 percent of the country's
run into problems because Zimbabwe was unable to supply the beef,
tobacco it agreed to supply under the deal. He said Zimbabwe had
currency for other oil import deals.
The fuel crisis has deepened
Zimbabwe's economic woes and sparked public
anger against Mugabe's
government, in power since independence from Britain
Zimbabweans are grappling with shortages of many basic consumers
including bread, milk, cooking oil and sugar.
Nearly half of
the country's 14 million people are threatened by severe
Mugabe blames hunger on drought but critics say the
crisis been made worse
by Mugabe's seizures of white-owned farms which has
disrupted the key
commercial agricultural sector.
Mugabe (78) denies
he has grossly mismanaged the economy and says the
country is a victim of
sabotage by domestic and foreign opponents opposed to
his distribution of
white farms to blacks.
No cheers in
Zimbabwe this Christmas
BEFORE the 2000 Zimbabwean parliamentary elections, in which the Movement for
Democratic Change (MDC) almost trounced President Robert Mugabe's ruling Zanu
(PF), even the most humble family used to celebrate Christmas.
This usually consisted of meals of chicken and rice on Christmas Day and
Boxing Day and new clothes for the entire family. If times were tight, the
adults did without new clothes, giving their growing families the special
pleasure of donning clothes that had been brought specially for them.
But this year, for up to 85% of the country's adult population and their
children, Christmas will pass them by.
The minimum wage for a domestic worker in Zimbabwe is Z4000. One meagre
chicken, enough to feed six people at a stretch, costs $2000. A kilogram of rice
costs another 2000. Forget the vegetables, which are becoming increasingly
difficult to obtain, now that the last few remaining market gardeners are being
evicted from their farms.
It is hard to explain to a child that Christmas will be a nonevent this year
but for many Zimbabweans, particularly in the rural areas, just making it alive
past Christmas will be an achievement.
Morgan Tsvangirai, president of the MDC and Mugabe's arch-opponent, remembers
his childhood Christmases with affection. "We were very poor, but my father
always made a point of giving us something that day that was out of the
ordinary. Often we used to get bread, a special treat, to take to the fields
with us as we herded the cattle."
But even bread is now out of reach of almost all Zimbabweans, even those
somewhat better off than the Tsvangirai family in the 1950s. "I would have to
say that in a material sense, Christmas this year is cancelled for the majority
of my countrymen," he says.
"People are dying here. It amazed me when SA's
foreign minister, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, recently came to Harare and said she
did now know what the fuss about Zimbabwe was as she had not seen bloodshed on
the streets of Harare," Tsvangirai says.
"This is a war being fought against rural people in desperately poor
constituencies. The chief weapon here is food."
Loughty Dube, a reporter for the Zimbabwe Independent in Bulawayo and
chairman of the Bulawayo branch of the Zimbabwe Union of Journalists, says: "I
am one of the more fortunate ones as, in Zimbabwean terms, I earn a good salary.
"Yet I cannot eat breakfast anymore you cannot buy bread, it takes hours to
queue for just one loaf and then it costs nearly $200. Milk also costs 200. I
wait until lunchtime and buy myself a plate of sadza (pap), meat and vegetables.
That sets me back $600 each day. I can only come to the conclusion that the
majority of people in this country are not getting a single meal each day," he
Pius Ncube, Archbishop of Bulawayo, is a frustrated and angry man. He cannot
understand how Mugabe's government "can be so cruel".
"A family of six needs the equivalent of US150 to live, and 80%-85% of the
population do not have this," he says.
"The government is pretending things are okay. Yet they have not ensured
there is seed maize available for planting. If you do not have a party card, you
are not allowed to purchase food, even if you have the money.
"Aid organisations are being prevented from distributing food. The Catholic
Church hall in Gwanda South is full of rotting food because Zanu (PF) is
preventing the church and aid workers from distributing the food to the hungry,"
Ncube, who makes a point of travelling to a number of different parishes in
his diocese each week, says his priests are being forced to watch people die of
hunger all because they do not support Zanu (PF).
"One of my parish priests recently gave his last maize meal to a parishioner
who had not been able to feed her family for three days," he said.
"When Save the Children Fund is prevented from feeding starving people by
Mugabe's government, and people cannot receive maize meal from the Grain
Marketing Board unless they have a Zanu (PF) party card, one can only say that
these acts are pure evil'."
When Ncube was ordained four years ago, Robert Mugabe attended his ordination
and presented him with a gift a cheap copper clocks in the shape of Zimbabwe.
The clock stopped more than two years ago at about the time that Mugabe set
Zimbabwe on its present course.
This Christmas, Ncube will be praying for rain and for a change in
government. "I believe strongly that good will triumph over evil for what we are
dealing with here is a cruel evil of the worst kind."
David Coltart, an MDC MP and the party's shadow minister of justice, has
recently returned from a meeting of all world's leading parliamentarians in
"The United Nations is taking a special interest in Zimbabwe," he says. "Not
because the Zimbabwean regime is illegal in that it stole the March presidential
election through massive rigging and intimidation, but because its ruling party
is one of the few governments in history that has sought to retain power by
starving its people.
Mugabe is seen as joining ranks with Stalin, among the few leaders in modern
times who have used food as a weapon to retain political power."
The general feeling in Zimbabwe is that this is the beginning of the end for
the Mugabe regime. Tsvangirai says things are moving fast and that the already
perceptible divide within the ranks of Zanu (PF) is becoming a vast chasm.
"If Mugabe does not offer to resign soon, God help Zimbabwe," he says.
And how will Mugabe be spending Christmas Day? More than likely, he will
start by attending a Christmas mass to receive communion from his friend, the
Archbishop of Harare, Patrick Chakaipa.
After mass, his children will receive their numerous Christmas presents. This
will be followed by Christmas lunch of turkey, ham and all the trimmings at
which the bishop will offer a prayer of thanks for the wonderful meal and
abundance of life in Zimbabwe.
The Times - letter
††††††††††† December 24, 2002
Mugabe's next victims in Zimbabwe
††††††††††† From Mr Patrick
††††††††††† Sir, I recently returned from Zimbabwe
(letters, December 23), a
country I last visited in July 2000 at a time when
the seeds of the genocide
that is now beginning to unfold were already being
liberally sown by the
ruling party. At that time and until recently the major
press focus of
Western countries has been the violence suffered by the
††††††††††† Times have changed. The
first stage of Mugabe's revolution is
now all but complete: the whites have
mostly jumped ship. The regime is now
turning its attention exclusively
towards its own people.
††††††††††† That Mugabe is bent on the wholesale
destruction of clearly
identifiable groups in Zimbabwe is now blindingly
obvious. He has got rid of
the whites without having to kill too many of them
and without arousing too
much in the way of international outrage. The path
is now open for him to
annihilate his three remaining target groups: his
rural opposition (the
black farmworkers); his political opposition (the
Movement for Democratic
Change, with its largely urban support base); his
tribal opposition (the
Ndebele and Tonga peoples).
Zimbabwe's case I fear that it will be the vested interests
of other corrupt
African regimes, and the shuffling diplomacy of a British
Government ill at
ease with the colonial tensions that our forceful
intervention would arouse,
that will allow Mugabe's programme of genocide to
††††††††††† That Mrs Grace Mugabe may now have to dispatch
her butler to
Harrods rather than buy her hats in person is doubtless of
inconvenience to her; that this charade of "targeted sanctions" is
our Foreign Office could come up with in the face of widespread
starvation and unfolding genocide is not merely risible. It is
††††††††††† Yours faithfully,
††††††††††† Duncombe Park, Helmsley,
††††††††††† York, North
Yorkshire YO62 5EB.
From ZWNEWS, with apologies
to Clement Clarke Moore
'Tis the night before
'Tis the night before Christmas, and all through
not a creature is sleeping, not even my
An intractable problem's defying my
there's no petrol in Zim and no shipment in
I've spoken to Muscat, Tehran and
Caracas and Qatar, Kuwait and
I've searched in Jakarta, Bahrain and
but my pleas have been falling on stoney-deaf
I've begged and I've bargained, I've offered†our
and still no-one's willing to send me some
I've faxed and I've e-mailed, used the post, used
but none will oblige with a small long-term
It's that scoundrel in London, that gay gangster
He's been queering my pitch, which is very
And those guys in the White House - they're also
Powell and Bush - they've besmirched my good
All those Kinnocks and Pattens, McKinnons and
all those Ancrams and Hains - they've been
raising their voices
to plot and prevent what I truly
some petrol and lubricants, AVGAS and
And the Clarks and the Howards, the Danes and the
They've all been conspiring to frustrate my
Norwegians and Dutchmen! They've launched an
And Festus had better start watching his
And don't forget Midzi, and all of those
I've bent over backwards, but no-one will thank
The aches in my stomach and head - I
How on earth am I going to get out of this
Now Thabo! Bakili!
Muammar and Sam!
Now Fidel! Mahathir!
Eduardo and Jiang!
Now Joaquim and Levy!
Olusegun and Joe!
Won't you stump up some cash for a fellow you
From The Times (UK), 24
Mugabe's land of penury and
From Michael Hartnack in
The light of the African dawn breaks
through the canopy of umbrella thorns, and a skein of ibis wing overhead. Guinea
fowl and Heuglinís robins call from surrounding gardens. The idyll is dispelled
by the sound of radios from the cars queueing for petrol. For the third morning
I have arrived at a service station in suburban Harare hoping to find fuel. It
is 4.30am and there are 70 vehicles ahead of me. The previous day, 12 hoursí
queueing for a turn at the pumps yielded nothing. At 5am the drivers turn down
the hymn of hate against whites Chave Chimurenga! (Civil war has come) - Our
land is our prosperity!" which state stations are ordered to broadcast every 20
minutes. Some with shortwave switch to the BBC, or to a religious station
broadcasting carols about goodwill, humanity, love, compassion, peace. There is
no mention on the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation news of the threat to eight
million Zimbabweans of starvation, the 22 years of corruption and mismanagement
that have caused the crisis in what used to be called "Africaís
The young mother ahead of me is
desperate for petrol to seek presents for her two young sons. "We just havenít
got the money to have a proper Christmas this year," she says, although her
husband, a vet, earns enough to stave off the worst deprivation. For many
families in the capitalís crowded townships Christmas dinner will be sweet
potatoes with peanut butter and spinach followed by mangoes. With inflation
officially at 175 per cent, most cannot pay black market prices for maize meal,
bread and cooking oil. President Mugabeís "return to socialism" has now brought
the withdrawal of meat from the shops after the state ordered it to be sold at
prices 30-50 per cent below cost. Like other scarce goods, including petrol,
diesel and paraffin (used for cooking), it is sold under the counter for up to
20 times the controlled price.
After so much queueing the battery
in my car has given out and it is necessary to push when, miraculously, a tanker
arrives. The attendants start serving at 6.30am, by which time 100 cars are
jostling for position behind mine. A 4X4 containing four burly young blacks who
are waving beer bottles and evidently drunk tries to push ahead of me, but,
encouraged by the drivers behind me, I frantically close the gap. "Hey, white
man! You must ******* move your car quicker, you ******* useless old ****!" the
four men shout at me. A middle-aged black woman tears them off a strip while an
angry knot of motorists, all black. back her up. The would-be queue-jumpers roar
off, leaving a powerful feeling of social solidarity that banishes any sense of
racial antagonism left by the loudmouths. "They should make Mugabeís ministers
queue like this for petrol and bread," the woman says. "Then they would learn
about this country."
We talk about the Kenyan elections
which bear an ugly resemblance to our rigged polls, in which the opposition
leader Morgan Tsvangirai was cheated of office. "They will go to any length to
get power and keep power," a man in his thirties says, "but when they have got
it, they arenít competent to exercise it." He is a doctor finishing a masterís
degree in surgery. This Christmas he will be on duty in a government hospital
struggling to cope without adequate supplies. Even in Botswana, he could earn 30
times the 60,000 Zimbabwean dollars (£30 at a realistic exchange rate) he takes
home each month. The bonds of the extended family keep him here, together with a
feeling that he is gaining far more clinical experience than would be available
in somewhere like Britain. "You feel needed - your work has value," he says.
After three and a half hours we near the front of the queue. Our stomach muscles
tighten with fear lest the attendants say the tanks are empty, but our luck
holds. It feels like the dissolution of a longstanding comradeship when we
leave. We shake hands and wish each other well.
Correction - In
yesterday's issue, in the article entitled 'To have or have not', we erroneously
referred†to the award-winning Zimbabwean novelist as Chenjerai Hunzwi. The
award-winning novelist is, of course, Chenjerai Hove. This was an editing, not
an†authorial, error. Our†apologies to all concerned.