The ZIMBABWE Situation
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Secret police seize leading Zimbabwean
activist Jestina Mukoko
Jestina Mukoko, executive director of the Zimbabwe
Zimbabwean police 'use batons' against doctors
Baton-wielding Zimbabwean riot police broke up a demonstration by doctors
and nurses protesting against the collapse of the country's health system on
Wednesday, while scores of trade unionists were arrested ahead of marches over
the cash crisis.
The country's economy has been collapsing for several years, but now appears
to have reached a stage where hardly a day passes without some new example of
With the country in the grip of a cholera epidemic, which the United Nations
said today had now killed 565 people, doctors, nurses and health workers tried
to present a petition at the health ministry.
But they were forcibly dispersed by the riot squad, who are well-treated by
the regime and remain steadfastly loyal.
There was a heavy uniformed presence in the centre of the capital and one
professional man said: “It was all over very quickly as the riot police are all
over the city. It is quiet now.”
Three journalists, two from the Zimababwean weekly, The Independent,
and one from the South African Broadcasting Corporation, were arrested as the
In a protest letter the medical personnel said: "We are forced to work
without basic health institutional needs like drugs, adequate water and
sanitation, safe clothing gear, medical equipment and basic support services.
"Health workers can no longer afford to buy food and other basic goods and
services." Efforts by trade unionists holding a general strike to mount protests
against the cash shortage that is crippling daily activities were also broken
up, after the authorities signalled several times that they would not be
The secretary-general of the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions, Wellington
Chibebe, was arrested while addressing workers in the capital, along with nine
other people, the organisation said in a statement, while more than 30 were held
around the country. It said 10 of its members were "heavily assaulted" by police
Hyperinflation is raging in Zimbabwe, with the official figure for July, the
latest available, at 231 million per cent and independent estimates far higher.
The phenomenon means money becomes worthless within days of being earned or
paid, leading to vast queues at banks as people try to access their funds, but
at the same time there are not enough notes to go around.
In an attempt to tackle the shortage of money, the authorities announced that
three new banknotes would be issued, with the biggest, the 100 million zimbabwe
dollar bill, 100 times larger that the current maximum.
Having cut 13 zeros off the currency in the last three years, the new note is
worth one sextillion original Zimbabwe dollars – one of which, at independence,
was worth more than the American dollar.
In recent days soldiers have gone on rampages after being unable to obtain
their earnings, attacking black-market currency dealers and looting shops, and
on one occasion being fired upon by riot police.
The authorities revealed that the incidents had been more widespread than
previously thought, with the defence minister Sidney Sekeramayi telling the
official Herald newspaper: "A number of properties were damaged, innocent
people injured, money and property stolen. These acts are unacceptable,
deplorable, reprehensible and criminal."
In a sign that Mr Mugabe's government is more concerned by the development
than it might want to admit, he added: "The coincidence of the above-stated
incidents and the call for a nationwide stayaway and demonstrations raises a lot
Over 70 peaceful protesters arrested countrywide
By Violet Gonda
The Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) said about 70
including civic and labour leaders, were arrested countrywide on
as repressive tactics by the Mugabe regime escalated. Several
were severely assaulted by the increasingly militant
The labour union had called for peaceful protests against the
capping of withdrawal limits, and called on the general
public to march to
their banks on Wednesday to demand their
But as usual riot police descended on the few protesters who were
enough to come out. Journalists say in Gweru there were more police
At the time of broadcast, the ZCTU said 15
people who were arrested in
Harare had been released without charge,
including ZCTU Secretary General
Wellington Chibebe. In Kariba five people
arrested are still in police
custody. Three of the four arrested in Karoi
have been released and asked to
return to the police station tomorrow. One
person, Cherechedzai Rubiwa is
still in custody.
35 people arrested
in Gweru are still in custody after police refused to
release them. The
police said they will deal with the matter tomorrow.
arrested in Bulawayo are still in custody with lawyers working
to have then
released. In Zvishavane six demonstrators are still being held
at a local
police station. The lawyer is still negotiating with the police.
leadership are set to meet the Reserve Bank Governor Gideon Gono on
morning, to discuss the issue of cash withdrawal limit.
At least 10 women
leaders were also assaulted when police violently
dispersed the peaceful
protesters. Those included Gertrude Hambira the
General Secretary of the
General Agricultural and Plantation Workers' Union,
Angeline Chitambo the
President of the Zimbabwe Energy Workers' Union and
Mirriam Katumba the Vice
Chair Women's Advisory Council.
An SABC correspondent, John Nyashanu was
briefly detained when he was
covering the ZCTU protest.
police also clamped down hard on another demonstration by doctors
who were marching against the worsening cholera epidemic and
In Bulawayo, Enock Paradzayi, a Coordinator with PTUZ,
was picked up by
Central Intelligence Operatives and is reportedly being
held at the CIO
building - Magnet House on the 4th Floor in
Meanwhile, Jestina Mukoko, a former ZBC television personality
of the human rights group the Zimbabwe Peace Project (ZPP), was
from her house at 5 am Wednesday. The Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human
15 unidentified men abducted her from her Norton home, while she
wearing her nightdress.
The ZPP is an institution that has
been monitoring and recording human
rights abuses perpetrated around the
The clampdown on rights defenders came after former Defence
Sekeramayi, flanked by two top army officials, made a rare
state television, warning the ZCTU against holding any
A severe cholera epidemic, anthrax, starvation and
Mugabe's determination to
hold on to power, have become a lethal combination
for an already exhausted
population. A dejected protester said: "We are
expected to go to work but at
the end of the month we cannot even access our
hard earned salaries from the
banks. We are going to work to earn nothing. I
walk to work everyday hoping
that at the end of the month I can provide for
my family but what do you do
when even the backs cannot give you your
Earlier in the week the Reserve Bank Governor increased the
from Z$500 000 to Z$100 million, starting Thursday. But in
this means nothing to the majority of workers who earn much
less than the
new Z$100 million limit, and it means absolutely nothing to
the estimated 90
percent who are unemployed.
While Zimbabwe's crisis
rapidly worsens, questions are being asked about the
implementation of the
power-sharing deal between ZANU PF and the two MDCs.
How can there ever be
any power sharing, given the fact that ZANU PF
continues to brutalise and
arrest all voices of dissent, including abducting
and killing MDC members?
To date 14 MDC activists and a two year old baby
are still missing - a month
after they disappeared and another two members,
including the party's
director of security, were abducted from their homes
Tsvangirai MDC issued a blistering statement on Wednesday denouncing the
crackdown on the peaceful protesters by the Mugabe regime. The party said:
"Zanu PF remains the undemocratic party of terror and thuggery. It remains
the epicenter of repression of the people's basic rights and freedoms. It
remains the haven and sanatorium of an unstinting instinct that believes
that the solution to all problems lies in violence and repression. Zanu PF's
actions on the ground undermine their commitment on paper."
statements like this, you have to wonder why the MDC is continuing to
the power sharing agreement, when Zanu PF is clearly negotiating in
Politicians have not even called for the urgent reconvening of
attempt to deal with the many crises facing Zimbabwe.
Parliament was forced
to close down last month because there was no water in
If politicians believe they can run a country, surely they
can organize for
a water bowser, so that the business of governance can take
SW Radio Africa Zimbabwe news
authorities target activists and trade unionists
3 December 2008
Zimbabwean human rights activist was abducted from her home at dawn on
Wednesday by a group of armed plain-clothes men who identified themselves as
policemen. Jestina Mukoko is the director of the Zimbabwe Peace Project
(ZPP), a local human rights organisation that is involved in monitoring and
documenting human rights violations in Zimbabwe.
unionists, including the Secretary General of the Progressive
of Zimbabwe Mr Raymond Majongwe and a journalist working for
a South African
broadcaster, have also been arrested in Harare today.
"The abduction or
arrest of Jestina Mukoko is part of an established pattern
of harassment and
intimidation of human rights defenders by Zimbabwean
authorities in an
attempt to discourage them from documenting and
publicising the violations
that are taking place," said Erwin van der
Borght, Amnesty International's
Africa programme director.
At around 5am local time on Wednesday, a group
of at least 12 men stormed
Jestina Mukoko's home in Norton, South of the
capital, Harare, and took her
by force while still barefoot and dressed in
pyjamas. An eyewitness told
Amnesty International that the men then drove
off in two cars, one of which
did not have registration plates.
Saturday, about six men, believed to be part of the same group, tried to
enter her house during her absence after claiming to be workmates, according
to the same eyewitness.
"We hold the Zimbabwean authorities
responsible for anything that may happen
to Jestina Mukoko. She should be
released immediately and while in detention
the authorities should guarantee
her safety and ensure that she has access
to a lawyer and family, as well as
food, warm clothes and medication," said
Erwin van der Borght.
arrests coincide with a protest action called for by the Zimbabwe
of Trade Unions (ZCTU) over serious cash shortages against a back
daily price increases of basic goods fuelled by hyperinflation.
had encouraged members of the public to demand their money from the
following daily limits imposed by the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ),
was not enough to pay for a single bus journey. Although the RBZ
daily withdrawal limits this week, most banks are experiencing
On 1 December, a group of at least 40 soldiers who had failed
their salaries from banks ran amok in Harare beating up members
public, looting shops, seizing cash from street money changers and
destroying public property. In a statement on Tuesday, the Minister of
Defence Mr Sydney Sekeramayi blamed the disturbance on what he termed
"unruly elements from the defence forces."
As the country waits the
setting up of a new government, the socio-economic
conditions have been
deteriorating at unprecedented levels. Zimbabwe's once
infrastructure is in a state of near collapse.
A cholera outbreak that
started in August has claimed at least 484 deaths
and 11,735 cases as
reported by the United Nations. Since November,
Zimbabwean doctors and
nurses have been on strike over low salaries and poor
Amnesty International has expressed deep concern about the
human rights situation in Zimbabwe. The organization is once
on President Mugabe and Prime Minister-designate Morgan
Tsvangirai and other
political leaders in Zimbabwe to urgently address the
current human rights
and humanitarian crisis.
Hundreds demonstrate in Harare. as crisis deepens
More than five hundred
people from all walks of life staged a peaceful
demonstration in central
Harare's First Street, demanding among other things
that the Reserve Bank of
Zimbabwe make available unlimited cash access to
the public from the banks.
The demonstration was organized by the Zimbabwe
Congress of Trade Unions
(ZCTU) and had support from the Zimbabwe Social
Forum (ZSF) and numerous
civic society organisations. Youth Forum in
conjunction with other youth
organisations successfully mobilized youths
from Harare and Chitungwiza to
take part in the demonstration under the ZSF
banner. The demonstrators
marched for about 100 meters along First Street
before three truck-loads of
armed anti-riot police descended on the
demonstrators, injuring about 10
people including the leadership of various
affiliate unions of the ZCTU. The
police also arrested several leaders from
the ZCTU as they addressed the
people at a local bank along First Street.
Among the arrested were Raymond
Majongwe (General secretary of the
Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe)
and Japhet Moyo (Deputy General
Secretary of the ZCTU).
demonstrators later converged at corner First Street and George
Avenue at 1130 a.m where they were addressed by the ZCTU president
Lovemore Matombo who informed them that they had handed their petition
the Reserve Bank governor and the governor promised to address the issue
Thursday 4 December 2008. The ZCTU president also informed the
that he will be meeting the governor in the morning tomorrow
Meanwhile the Youth Forum is shocked by the absence of
during today's demonstration despite having led a series of
over the past seven days demanding that the government
address the cash
crisis and other socio-economic evils bedeviling the
country. While we do
not condone violence, the actions by the uniformed
forces were clearly in
sync with the plight of the ordinary citizens and we
hope they will continue
to be enlightened and participate in popular action
in solving the current
The Youth Forum continues to support
initiatives to take the struggle to the
streets. The Forum firmly believes
that it will take pressure from the
ordinary person on the street to compel
the political actors in the country
to address the plight of Zimbabweans.
The Youth Forum will continue to
mobilize youth from all walks of life to
take to the streets and force those
in authority to address the plight of
Youth Forum Information & Publicity
878, +263-912 766 450,
SW Radio Africa Zimbabwe news
Zimbabwe on edge of the abyss: Riot police charge protesting doctors as
cholera epidemic infects up to 12,500 people
Last updated at 12:17 PM on 03rd December 2008
Zimbabwe riot police charged protesting doctors, nurses and union members
with batons early today.
At least one hundred doctors and nurses protested outside the health ministry
in the capital of Harare as the country faced the worst cholera crisis in its
Zimbabwean trade unions have also called a day of protest over a deepening
banking and cash shortage crisis.
The latest death toll from the disease was put at 565, with the UN claiming
that up to 12,546 people were suspected of being infected.
'God is with us': Doctors and nurses demonstrating in
Harare today run away from police while protesting against the collapse of the
health sector as a cholera epidemic grips the country
Under normal circumstances, cholera is both preventable and treatable - but
in Zimbabwe, with electricity shut off on a regular basis and Harare running out
of clean water, the situation is spiralling.
Now even the Limpopo River, bordering South Africa, is infected, the BBC has
Yesterday, as children played near cesspools, their parents shook their heads
at a public service announcement drifting over the radio: It urged people to
boil water before drinking it.
It sounded like a taunt in the country where water and electricity are cut
off far more than they are on.
Authorities turned off the taps in Zimbabwe's capital again this week because
they had run out of purifying chemicals in the midst of the killer epidemic. The
water was turned on in Harare again today.
The crisis is the latest chapter in the collapse of this once-vibrant nation.
President Robert Mugabe, who has ruled for 28 years, has refused to leave office
even though he and his party lost elections in March.
A Zimbabwean police officer falls from a police pickup
truck while trying to disperse demonstrating healthcare workers
An agreement to form a unity government with the opposition has been
deadlocked for weeks over how to share Cabinet posts.
In the township of Mabvuku, where residents have dug shallow wells in open
ground, people say they know that not boiling the water can make them sick, but
they have no choice. There is no electricity, and wood, charcoal or other fuel
to build fires is scarce and so expensive it is out of reach for most
"We are afraid, but there is no solution. Most of the time the electricity is
not available so we just use the water," one resident, Naison Chakwicha,
In the western Harare suburb of Mbare, Anna Marimbe said she had traced the
deaths last week of two neighbour children to the stinking open drains where
they used to play.
Robert Mugabe, pictured during the launch of basic
commodities in Harare in July this year, blames his country's difficulties on
Residents of Chitungwiza, a densely populated township 15 miles (24
kilometres) south of Harare, sued the National Water Authority last week, saying
they had been without running water for 13 months, causing an outbreak of
cholera and leading to deaths.
The lawsuit filed with the High Court describes "large pools of raw sewage"
in the streets of the town of 500,000, where the first cholera cases were
reported in August.
Like most of Zimbabwe's main cities and towns, Chitungwiza once had
functioning sewage and water delivery systems, but authorities have made no
repairs for years.
Harare is the epicentre of the cholera epidemic, which has spread across the
country. Controlling the disease depends on providing clean water, which means
repairing broken water and sewage pipes as well as dilapidated pumping and
And the collapse of all services, including refuse collection, has turned the
city into a playground for rats that threaten to spread other more deadly
The government has reported 473 cholera deaths since August and a total of
11,700 people infected as of Monday, according to Paul Garwood, spokesman for
Health Action and Crises, the humanitarian arm of the U.N. World Health
Garwood said that according to the official toll, four per cent of people are
dying of a disease that usually claims fewer than one per cent of those infected
and is easily treated with rehydration salts or an intravenous drip.
Doctors say the death toll is nearer 1,000, or 10 per cent of victims,
because many of those afflicted with cholera die at home or in the countryside
without medical care.
All the country's main public hospitals have closed and those that continue
to operate have little or no medicine and suffer from a shortage of staff, whose
monthly salaries do not cover even one day's bus fare to get to work.
Costly private clinics, which accept only foreign currency, are out of reach
for the vast majority of the population.
'We are afraid': Women and children wait to collect water
from an underground source after the water cut in Harare earlier this week
The opposition-controlled Harare City Council is burying cholera victims for
free because people cannot afford to buy graves.
Zimbabwe's government, normally hostile to international aid agencies, is
welcoming an initiative by several - including UNICEF, WHO and Doctors Without
Borders - to provide emergency care and try to ensure safe water supplies.
Health officials, following the line of a government that has refused to
declare a national emergency, insisted the cholera outbreak was under control
until five days ago. The best advice Health Minister David Parirenyatwa could
offer was to urge people to stop shaking hands.
"I want to stress the issue of shaking hands. Although it's part of our
tradition to shake hands, it's high time people stopped shaking hands," he told
state-run daily, The Herald.
Still, Zimbabweans continue to find ways to deal with the crisis.
Those who can afford it are digging wells and bore holes. Others are buying
tanks and pumps to install on their roof or yards, then paying $50 in foreign
currency for a single delivery of 500 gallons (1,900 litres) of water.
Cholera patients rest on their beds inside the male ward
of Budiriro Polyclinic in Harare
Most vendors in Zimbabwe only accept U.S. dollars or South African rand since
the Zimbabwe dollar, once on a par with the greenback, devalues with each
Yesterday, it was trading for 1.8 million to the dollar - even after the
Central Bank dropped 10 zeros from the local currency this year in an attempt to
keep up with inflation last set officially at 231 million per cent in July.
The economic collapse of what was once a regional bread basket followed
Mugabe's often-violent campaign, beginning in 2000, to seize white-owned farms
and hand them over to veterans of his guerrilla war against white minority
Now, even those who have the money often can't buy water. One supplier said
yesterday that he has a waiting list more than two weeks long.
Those without foreign currency must turn to "water Samaritans" - residents of
Harare's wealthier neighbourhoods who have wells or bore holes and are allowing
people to fill buckets and jerry cans for free. Some residents are charging for
Lines of mainly women and children gather daily outside the homes of people
with wells. But even that supply is not assured.
Parirenyatwa, the health minister, voiced the fears of many when he said the
cholera epidemic is likely to only get worse with the onset of the rainy season,
which began last month and brings the heaviest rains in late December and
"What I am afraid of is that now that the rainy season has come, all the
feces lying in the bushes will be washed into shallow wells and contaminate the
water," he said.
detain ZCTU leadership
December 3, 2008
HARARE - Police on Wednesday arrested and detained the Zimbabwe
Trade Unions (ZCTU) leadership together with several top
members for organizing a mass action against the central
Dozens are also said to have been
injured when baton wielding riot policemen
violently dispersed a gathering
which was addressed by ZCTU president
Lovemore Matombo along Harare's First
Street in the morning.
Those arrested include ZCTU secretary general
Wellington Chibhebhe together
with other leaders of top civic groups who had
joined the strike in
solidarity with the ZCTU.
The police seized the
group shortly after they had gone to present their
petition to Reserve Bank
of Zimbabwe (RBZ) governor, Gideon Gono.
Matombo, Chibhebhe, and George
Nkiwane, the deputy president of the ZCTU
formed the delegation that
delivered the petition to Gono at his office at
the RBZ Along Samora Machel
Avenue in the city centre.
Meanwhile, the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human
Rights has announced that the
director of the Zimbabwe Peace Project, former
TV newsreader Jestina Mukoko
had been abducted by suspected CIO agents at
"She was bundled into an unmarked Mazda Familia and no one
her whereabouts, ZLHR statement said early on Wednesday
morning. "No one
knows at this point whether Jestina's abduction is part of
a wider clampdown
on civil society activists and human rights NGOs ahead of
the planned ZCTU
strike action. The streets of Harare are currently infested
In Bulawayo a planned protest march to the
central bank failed to take off
as people shied away from most banks,
fearing a crackdown by the police.
Most banks in the city registered
unusually short queues on Wednesday than
over the past few months due to
fears that the police might swoop on bank
queues which had potential to
become flashpoints of the protest.
"It is unusually quiet," said a bank
teller in one of the commercial banks.
"Perhaps the people are waiting for
tomorrow when new weekly withdrawal
limits of up to $100 million come into
ZCTU deputy secretary general, Japhet Moyo told The Zimbabwe
Times in Harare
that the ZCTU leadership had been taken to Harare Central
where they were detained.
Among those arrested were
Gideon Shoko, the ZCTU deputy secretary general,
general council members
James Gumbi and Hilarious Ruyi together with Ben
Madzimure, the editor of
The Worker, a weekly tabloid published by the ZCTU.
Leaders of top civic
groups also arrested were Progressive Teachers Union of
secretary general Raymond Majongwe and Nicholas Mazarura,
of the Construction Union.
"The police did not state their offence but we
suspect they will be charged
under the Criminal Law Codification Act for
organization a rally which the
police say they did not sanction," said
The whereabouts of ZCTU president Matombo however remained unknown
Harare lawyer Alec Muchadehama, who is
representing the group, confirmed the
arrests saying more than 20 people
were arrested over the strike.
"They have not been charged yet," said
Muchadehama, "But they are more than
20 who were arrested."
announced last week it would lead disgruntled Zimbabweans to their
respective banks Wednesday to demand payment of all their monies.
ZCTU charges it is illegal for the central bank to put a cap on daily
withdrawals while millions of ordinary Zimbabweans starve everyday when
have billions in their accounts.
Gono this week introduced weekly cash
withdrawal limits at which individuals
would now be allowed to withdraw $100
million, up from $$500 000 for
individuals while companies would be allowed
access to $150 million, up from
The increases take effect
from Thursday and will run concurrently with the
unveiling of another new
set of bank notes - $10 million, $50 million and
ZCTU dismissed the increase saying this does not have any long term
on cash woes that have been affecting Zimbabweans for the past five
There were however strong fears this week the ZCTU strike
action may be
joined by angry soldiers and create a full blown rebellion
Robert Mugabe's government.
Harare was reduced to a
war zone from last week when hordes of uniformed
soldiers went on the
rampage, beating up foreign currency street dealers and
The soldiers were frustrated over their continued failure to
salaries from banks when loads of scarce cash are
offloaded into the illegal but lucrative black market
Until now the central bank has not owned up to being the source
of the cash.
Chibhebhe on Monday said the ZCTU was inviting every
of occupation to join their strike for as long as such
action served to
advance the same cause.
Meanwhile, banking halls
remained operational Wednesday although most banks
seemed to be employing
strict security measures as a precaution.
Although operational, a
Barclays Bank branch along Samora Machel Avenue kept
its doors closed and
was accepting not more than 50 people inside its
banking hall at any given
Authorities must guarantee the safety of Jestina Mukoko
03 December 2008
must guarantee the safety of Jestina Mukoko
authorities must immediately disclose the whereabouts of
activist Jestina Mukoko, who was abducted from her home at dawn
today by a
group of armed plain-clothes men who identified themselves as
Amnesty International said today.
"The abduction or arrest of Jestina
Mukoko is part of an established pattern
of harassment and intimidation of
human rights defenders by Zimbabwean
authorities in an attempt to discourage
them from documenting and
publicising the violations that are taking place,"
said Erwin van der
Borght, Amnesty International's Africa programme
Jestina Mukoko is the director of the Zimbabwe Peace Project
(ZPP), a local
human rights organisation that is involved in monitoring and
human rights violations in Zimbabwe. Today, at around 5am local
group of at least 12 men stormed her home in Norton, South of the
Harare, and took her by force while still barefoot and dressed in
An eyewitness told Amnesty International that the men then drove
off in two
cars, one of which did not have registration plates.
Saturday 29 November, about six men, believed to be part of the same
tried to enter her house during her absence after claiming to be
according to the same eyewitness.
ZPP produces periodic reports on the
human rights situation in the country,
compiled through a network of
community based human rights defenders.
"We hold the Zimbabwean
authorities responsible for anything that may happen
to Jestina Mukoko. She
should be released immediately and while in detention
the authorities should
guarantee her safety and ensure that she has access
to a lawyer and family,
as well as food, warm clothes and medication," said
Erwin van der
The organization has also received information that several trade
including the Secretary General of the Progressive Teachers Union
Zimbabwe Mr Raymond Majongwe and a journalist working for a South African
broadcaster, have been arrested in Harare today. Amnesty International fears
that the authorities may have launched a new campaign to silence human
rights activists in the wake of today's protest action by the Zimbabwe
Congress of Trade Unions.
On Thursday 27 November
three members of staff of the ZPP were arrested by
police in Budiriro (a low
income suburb of Harare) at a clinic offering
treatment to cholera victims.
Police initially threatened to charge them
under the Access to Information
and Protection of Privacy Act and the
Official Secrets Act. They were later
charged with criminal nuisance and
made to pay a fine of Z$20 and released
on Saturday 29 November.
hospital 'has become a place of death'
††††December 03 2008 at
By Francis Hweshe
Activist for refugee rights
Braam Hanekom has reported the dire
situation facing his countrymen in
Zimbabwe after he managed to sneak into
the country last week.
At a press conference in Cape Town on Tuesday Hanekom told of the
had witnessed first-hand.
"At Parerinyatwa hospital in Harare where
I was born, there is no
electricity, running water and about 50 sick people
are turned away daily to
go and die at home," he said.
mortuary I saw bodies piled upon bodies as the facility has
become a place
Hanekom is the chairman of refugee lobby group, People
Suppression, Suffering, Oppression and Poverty (Passop). He has
troubled homeland twice recently after a three-year
He said a health official at the
hospital had told him: "It's better
for them to die at home than
The doctor also told him those who were admitted to the
sure to die due to lack of medicine.
he had seen staffers at the hospital's mortuary working
protective gear such as gloves and bodies were not being
cleaned as the city
did not have water.
He said he had been deeply touched by an
incident when a relative had
come to collect his beloved's body but staffers
had refused him access to
the body as it was in a "mess".
agonised man protested that he could bring a bucket of water to
body but they refused, as that would bring cholera."
described the cholera situation as volatile - people have
one another with handshakes for fear of contracting the
disease which has
claimed hundreds of lives.
"It's a hopeless situation... people are
dying of dehydration... there
is no water, even in affluent areas," he
He said he had interviewed disgruntled civil servants
soldiers and police officers, some of whom said they wanted to
civilians to overthrow President Robert Mugabe's
Soldiers earn R70 a month but for the past two months
have not been
paid and they are frustrated, he said.
said MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai should exploit the moment
and turn the
tables on Mugabe.
He warned that failure to do so could result in
the emergence of
"Schools have shut down, national
examinations have been cancelled and
concerned parents are paying private
tutors in foreign currency, which they
"Malnutrition is everywhere, we estimate that about 40 percent of the
are living beneath the daily nutritional intake needed for basic
"Queues ran across the city streets outside the banks
with up to 300
people desperately waiting to withdraw their daily limits of
He said in the rural areas, where hunger and
starvation is taking its
toll, subsistence farming had started, but many of
the farmers lack the
Barbara Zhungu, also present at the media briefing,
said: "We are caught up
in a tight situation as it is tough for us to live
This article was originally published on page 3 of
Cape Argus on
December 03, 2008
By Bram Posthumus
As Zimbabwe's top
politicians plan yet another round of debate to settle
the country is facing total collapse. It is not only the
economy; A cholera
epidemic has added to the crisis. A doctor and a
journalist describe life in
a dysfunctional country.
In mid-December, the three parties that are
trying to form a unity
government - the ruling ZANU-PF of President Robert
Mugabe and the two
branches of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change
- will meet again.
They will make another attempt to arrive at a government
of national unity,
which is intended to put Zimbabwe back on its
But as the weeks and months glide by there is hardly any Zimbabwe
govern or unite. The country's economy has been in decline for close
decade, and the United Nations has called Zimbabwe "the fastest
economy in the world", outside a war zone. Inflation stands at
more than 200
million percent, unemployment is 80 percent, and eight out of
Zimbabweans live below the poverty line.
But it is not
just the economy that has collapsed. Services that were once
granted by many Zimbabweans, such as healthcare, education, water
electricity, are erratic at best and mostly non-existent. And if any
evidence were needed that the crisis has brought down even the most
infrastructure, a cholera epidemic has broken out.
Zimbabwe is no
stranger to cholera, but an epidemic of this magnitude is
Some 12,000 people have been infected and already 500
have died. The
epidemic is spreading to border towns in South Africa and
medical staff there can no longer cope with the daily arrival
Dr Mawere works with the Zimbabwe Association
of Doctors for Human Rights.
He explains what is behind this deadly
"The main cause is the deteriorating sanitation is the urban
authorities are failing to provide running water. So people are
digging wells to get water, which is contaminated. There is
flowing all over the streets...When you have cholera, you know
public health system, your water and sanitation systems have all
Schools, hospitals, factories and government institutions have
Meanwhile, Zimbabweans have been voting with their feet. Estimates
migrant population outside Zimbabwe vary widely. There are at least a
million Zimbabwean immigrants in South Africa although some claim figures
three times as high. Hundreds of thousands have gone to Botswana, Mozambique
and as far afield as Britain, Australia and North America. The desperate
living conditions are the prime movers behind the urge to
But this week it emerged that the collapse of the
country has raised the
heckles of those who can actually put up a fight: the
soldiers. Last Friday,
and again at the weekend, they rioted and looted in
the capital Harare.
Davison Maruziwa is the editor of the independent weekly
paper the Zimbabwe
"You have a government that is
apparently unable to pay its own soldiers.
That is one indicator. The
cholera epidemic is another. The collapse of
services is quite unforgivable
and even the military are getting fed up. The
top echelons are taken care
of, but the personnel below them are suffering
with the people. And they are
saying: enough is enough."If anything, the
violence and the epidemic carry
the same message to those who will re-start
the haggling over ministerial
chairs in the next few weeks: important though
this may be, you'd better
settle your differences quickly if you want to
govern anything resembling a
country at all.
Zimbabwe: Mugabe's informal death camp
Although Sky New's
Emma Hurd's figure of 10 000 Zimbabweans crossing into
South Africa every
month is yet to be confirmed, it will certainly be in the
disease and starvation grips our northern neighbour. Their towns
are becoming more of a death camp than a place fit for human
Inflation, last calculated in July, has risen to 231 million
life expectancy can no longer be measured with any accuracy
from starvation, disease and government abuse stalks every
corner of this
hellhole in Africa. With 90% unemployment you have very
little for people to
do except sit around and wait for the
The cholera epidemic is believed to be far worse than the
that have been released with aid agencies estimating the
death toll in the
thousands not the hundreds. South Africa has also now
suffered its first
casualties from this latest Zanu-PF export. An aid agency
worker on Sky News
this morning explained the horrific conditions being
found in Zimbabwe.
Children are seen drinking from cholera infested water
and eating meat from
carcasses with anthrax, their plight long past
desperate. As "Sarah"
explained to viewers, the situation can be addressed
but the political
instability with its attendant collapse of the country's
playing havoc with their efforts.
Even still they
are feeding hundreds of thousands of people in Zimbabwe but
financial backing to help a whole lot more in desperate need.
All of this
so that Robert Mugabe and a handful of fat cats can live like
ANCYL president Julius Malema has already called time on
Philip Dexter says that if Mugabe refuses to go he should be
force, the ANC is patently irritated by the current impasse while
Democratic Alliance have long believed that Mugabe should be removed
power. The question is what are they waiting for?
Step back for
. Zimbabweans are flooding their neighbours with exiles, the
bulk of which
are coming to South Africa. This has created enormous pressure
economy in a vast variety of ways extensively covered in this
. At present they are a breeding ground for diseases which, if not
controlled, will create havoc in this region. They have already tried to
cover up cholera while anthrax is starting to rear its ugly head.
Left to his own devices Mugabe and the Zanu-PF will watch five million of
their people wiped out. Their answer is to shoot those who rebel and drive
as many as they can over the borders. Leave them to the SADC to feed. Those
who stay at home can be looked after by aid agencies or die. Genocide any
which way you look at it.
. In better times Mugabe was involved in
military adventures such as the
Second Congo War.
you have a situation where genocide is being committed on
the people of a
country and the collateral damage is spilling out onto the
rest of the
region you are forced to act. Where the collateral damage
involves tens of
thousands of desperate people flooding into your country
from a health
hazard like Zimbabwe the concern has to be that much greater.
. Despite losing the election he demands the right to
. Where the economy has failed he prints worthless banknotes.
response to diseases he tries to cover them up.
. Where soldiers start to
rebel he prepares to "deal" with them.
. Where SADC says his land reform is
illegal he tells the SADC what it can
do with itself.
. Whenever he is
turned loose on the press he lambastes Britain and the USA.
people who are expected to bail out Zimbabwe are being alienated
everyone else) by Mugabe.
South Africa and the entire SADC region are not
only paying a huge price for
the pleasure of watching this unfold but are
sitting on their hands lest the
great "liberator" become upset.
only thing Mugabe has liberated is the country's wealth and the only
he cares about is his right to continue doing so.
Zimbabwe and Africa
desperately need to be free of him.
This entry was posted on Wednesday,
December 3rd, 2008 at 1:52 pm
Cholera in your borehole
Dear Sir / Madam
Thankyou for maintaining what must be the best and most
widely read Zim website, it is extremely useful to both international and local
readers. i thought i would bring your attention to an advert for water analysis
services recently posted on the Justice for Agriculture newsletter. I think your
readers would be interested in their services given that 30% of boreholes in
Zimbabwe have presence of faecal coliform bacteria, this is a real risk
considering the current cholera epidemic in Zimbabwe. You may wish to include
this info on your next news listing. I have pasted the advert below
"Chemical analysis of borehole / well / tap water. Fact : 30% of
all boreholes in Zimbabwe contain faecal coliform bacteria, this can originate
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the great work!!!
1000 in Zimbabwe
By Angus Shaw in Harare
December 04, 2008
DOCTORS in Zimbabwe said as many as 1000 people might have
died in the
cholera epidemic caused by the breakdown of the country's water
The toll is just one dramatic sign that Zimbabwe is
collapsing into anarchy
because of economic meltdown and the political
deadlock between President
Robert Mugabe and the opposition Movement for
Army discipline is breaking down and on Monday
soldiers looted shops in the
capital Harare and beat foreign currency
Cholera is spreading because Zimbabwe's infrastructure is
Authorities turned off the taps in Harare because they had
run out of
This has forced people to dig shallow
wells in open ground.
They can't afford to boil this unsafe water because
there is no electricity
and no wood or charcoal to build fires.
Government has reported 565 cholera deaths since August and a total of
12,546 people infected as of Monday, according to the UN.
the death toll is nearer 1000 because many of those afflicted
die at home or in the countryside without medical care.
All the country's
main public hospitals have closed and those that operate
have little or no
medicine and suffer a shortage of staff, whose monthly
salaries do not cover
even one day's bus fare to get to work.
The opposition-controlled Harare City
Council is burying victims for free
because people cannot afford to buy
Health officials, following the line of a regime that has refused
a national emergency, insisted the cholera outbreak was under
five days ago.
The best advice Health Minister David
Parirenyatwa could offer was to urge
people to stop shaking
Zimbabwe's military has blamed "undisciplined soldiers" for
but some residents fear the country has now reached a
point in its crisis.
Soldiers rarely show open
dissent against Mr Mugabe, the 84-year-old who has
governed the nation since
independence from Britain in 1980.
Once one of Africa's most successful
nations, the economy has been shrinking
for nearly a decade, pounded by the
world's highest inflation, last
estimated at 231 million per cent.
ill and dying from cholera crossing border
MUSINA, South Africa (CNN) -- Doctors worry about the
woman sitting on a bed
inside the large tent, an IV in her arm. Chipo
Matewe, 23, is eight months
pregnant and stricken with cholera.
I started feeling sick, my whole body was so dry. I didn't think I
alive until now, because even the baby -- my stomach was so tight
... it was
not kicking at all. But now it's kicking slowly, I don't know
on," she said. Medics are concerned she is just too weak to
give birth to a
Matewe is from Masvingo in Zimbabwe -- one of hundreds of
desperate for medical help that they have crossed the border
Cholera, a waterborne disease that
causes diarrhea, dehydration and, if not
treated, death in a matter of
hours, is widespread in Zimbabwe but help is
At least 565 people
in Zimbabwe have lost their lives in the outbreak,
according to a statement
from the United Nations Humanitarian Affairs Office
on Wednesday. Doctors in
Zimbabwe, however, say more than 1,000 have died.
The U.N. says about 12,000
more people are suspected to be infected.
Aid organizations inside
Zimbabwe warn that the contagious disease is
spreading fast since raw sewage
from burst pipes near the capital, Harare,
flowed into wells, rivers and
streams -- the only source of drinking water
for many Zimbabweans.
country's public health care system is collapsing with shortages of
resources and staff. Clinics run by aid agencies are being swamped by the
sick, some brought in by wheelbarrow or cart.
So the sick and the
dying head to Musina, a town on the South African side
of the porous
Hundreds have arrived since the middle of last month, desperate
for help. At
least five were too sick to save -- including one Zimbabwean
who died upon
reaching the hospital.
The hospital looks like a war
zone. Tents have been set up and packed with
cots and IVs for cholera
patients. Recently, one tent was filled with
victims, including a toddler
who narrowly escaped death, and grown men in
The doctors are
doing whatever they can to treat sick people such as Chipo
Matewe and her
unborn child, but only time will tell if they are successful.
cause problems of its own, if cholera gets a foothold inside
South Africa as
Just a few miles from the hospital, nearly 1,000 Zimbabwean asylum
are living and sleeping in an open field under conditions ideal for
A cholera carrier who neglects to wash his or
her hands after using the
bathroom can easily pass on the bacteria that live
in human feces.
"There is no one who is safe, there is no one who is
immune," said Sabelo
Sibanda, a human rights activist.
situation here, if allowed to carry on indefinitely, will explode."
fears go beyond a medical crisis, worrying that South Africa could see
another outbreak of xenophobic violence against Zimbabweans accused of
bringing in disease.
The South Africa government says it is still working
on the problem, while
Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe said he is getting
cholera vaccines from
Despite outside help, cholera deaths continue to mount
03 December 2008
The death toll from the cholera epidemic
plaguing Zimbabwe continues to
mount, despite Zimbabwe receiving help from
some of the countries that
Mugabe regards as his enemies. On Tuesday the
executive arm of the European
Union - the European Commission - said it was
providing 9 million euros to
help Zimbabwe deal with the cholera outbreak.
The UK based Save the Children
group is also running an emergency appeal to
help with the triple crisis of
cholera, anthrax and the hunger facing
Zimbabweans. The group, which has
been working in Zimbabwe for 25 years,
says the country is on the verge of
the biggest anthrax outbreak since the
one in 1979-80.
Save the Children are helping to vaccinate cows and are
providing food and
training to health workers. The United Nations Children
Fund (UNICEF) and
the International Red Cross are also mobilizing the
shipment of medicines
and other forms of relief into the
According to World Health Organization figures, 565 people have
cholera and this represents 81 more deaths since Tuesday. But
figures are already running into the thousands. This is because
families don't report the deaths of their loved ones and most people
dying at home, because of the collapse of the health system. One man who
left Chiredzi to seek treatment in South Africa said their provincial
hospital alone has recorded more than 362 deaths.
The official number
of infected people is over 12,000. Oxfam has said this
figure could in
reality be more than 300,000. With most mortuaries out of
service due to the
breakdown of refrigeration units, there are reports of
body bags piling up
at hospital toilets. On Monday the authorities cut water
supplies to Harare
in the absence of water treatment chemicals, putting 2
million more at
greater risk as residents desperately looked for water from
When the cholera crisis initially broke out, Beitbridge hospital
have any IV fluids or oral rehydration salts. Owing to the large
swamping the facility the hospital authorities made the decision to
patients, 'behind the buildings, on the dirt, so that body excretions
be absorbed into the ground. Sick people lying in the dust and under
scorching heat all cried out for the life-saving drip.'
doctors from Doctors Without Borders who initially responded to the
gave horrendous accounts of their experiences while treating
Argentinean doctor said she had never administered so many
one day in her life. 'There was a man lying next to one of
under the sun. By the time I got to him, he was in shock. We
tried to get a
vein, like, ten times, but then he started gasping and he
died right there
in front of our eyes,' she said. 54 people died in one
Without Borders, who provide free humanitarian and medical aid,
over 800 liters of life saving drips. Around 16 expatriates,
doctors, nurses and other support staff, have since been deployed
to help in
Meanwhile the crisis has slowly spilled over into the region
Africa's health department conducting tests on the Limpopo River
declaring it to be infected with cholera. Reports say Zambian and South
African border officials have set up screening camps, to ensure infected
Zimbabweans do not enter their countries.
It is time the region woke
up to the fact that urgent action is needed, if
Zimbabwe is not to bring
down the whole of Southern Africa.
SW Radio Africa Zimbabwe
NCA Protest in Harare tomorrow, 4 December 2008
NCA peaceful protest in
Harare tomorrow, 4 December 2008.
3 December 2008
Constitutional Assembly (NCA) will stage a peaceful
demonstration in Harare
tomorrow, 4 December 2008. The action supports NCA's
plan for restoring democracy and prosperity to
three-point plan that the NCA has proposed in response to the country's
political, social and economic crisis is as follows:
1. Setting up a
Transitional Government. There must be set up a Transitional
whether composed of the political parties engaged in the current
by neutral people with the immediate responsibility of
humanitarian tragedy: food crisis, health crisis, water
crisis, cash crisis.
It must avert starvation and save lives. It must
restore normalcy to other
aspects of our national life.
2. People-Driven Constitution. During the
lifespan of the Transitional
Government, Zimbabweans must be given full
freedom to write their own
constitution in an open process such as that
outlined in the Zimbabwe
People's Charter. The process must end with a
3. Free and Fair Elections. Free and fair elections must be
held under the
new constitution and the new government emanating from the
elections must be
installed. The elections must be internationally
supervised and monitored.
The NCA urges all its members and different
stakeholders to come and join in
govt admits soldiers' riot
News - Africa news
Harare, Zimbabwe - After
a day of silence, the government of Zimbabwe
finally admitted on Wednesday
that a group of 100 soldiers took part in a
riot in the capital city of
Harare on Monday.
In what is seen as the biggest threat yet to President
Robert Mugabe, the
soldiers rioted this week in the capital city over
Shaking off denials by some government
officials, Defence Minister Sydney
Sekeramayi Wednesday confirmed the riot,
in which the angry soldiers beat up
people and looted shops, the first such
incident in the country.
They were angered, among other things, by their
failure to withdraw cash
from banks due to a shortage of notes which has
forced the Central Bank to
impose limits on cash withdrawals.
rioting, the soldiers - who clashed with police - targeted street
changers, and later looted goods from shops.
Zimbabwe is facing a
deepening economic and political crisis, characterised
by hyper-inflation of
more than 230 million percent, absence of a
substantive government after
disputed elections, closed schools and
hospitals, and widespread shortages
of food and water, amid a raging cholera
outbreak which has so far claimed
more than 400 lives across the country.
Although Sekeramayi blamed the
riots on indiscipline and 'rogue elements'
among the soldiers, the incident
has sent shock waves across the country,
and within the government in
Soldiers and other security services are widely seen in
Zimbabwe as the
bedrock of government support, in the face of growing public
Mugabe's rule over the economic hardships.
the army was feted with cash salaries for soldiers, while all
struggled to withdraw their pay from banks.
Soldiers also enjoyed
privileged shopping, which is increasingly becoming
worthless due to
shortages of basic goods.
It is unclear why the cash salary service for
soldiers was withdrawn, and it
appears this is what triggered the
unprecedented riots by the boys in
"As a result (of
the riots), a number of properties were damaged, innocent
money and property stolen. These acts are unacceptable,
reprehensible and criminal," said Sekeramayi.
The large number of
soldiers involved in the rioting, and the organised
nature of the violence,
analysts said, had sent an alarming message to
Mugabe that his grip on power
may not be as tight and secure as widely
As he spoke,
Sekeramyi was flanked by the commanders of the army, air force,
service and police, underlining the gravity of the incident.
He said an
inquiry into the incident had opened, and that those involved,
those suspected of inciting the riots, would be harshly punished.
incident took place while Mugabe was away in Qatar attending a United
Nations economic conference.
The long-serving Zimbabwean leader was
expected back home Wednesday.
Harare - 03/12/2008
Institute for War & Peace Reporting (London)
Protests Rock Harare
3 December 2008
Zimbabwe is facing widespread protests by discontented soldiers
heat of the country's collapsing economy.
Some analysts are forecasting
that continuing army revolts and economic
instability could force President
Robert Mugabe to share power with the
opposition, putting the country's
shattered economy on the road to recovery.
The rising groundswell of
anger within the army over poor salaries and cash
shortages poses a serious
threat to Mugabe, who has traditionally relied on
the loyalty of the army to
keep the opposition in check.
Dozens of soldiers have been taking to the
streets of Harare since November
27, clashing with anti-riot and military
police deployed in the city centre
to counter the protests. There have been
sporadic exchanges of gunfire in
the capital as dissident soldiers and
military police clash.
Army protests hit a crescendo on December 1 when
over 100 soldiers, dressed
in full military fatigues, emerged from banking
halls in the city centre
empty-handed after cash had run out due to
They first attacked the Market Square bus terminus in downtown
is notorious for illegal foreign currency dealings, assaulting
currency dealers and seizing cash from them to demand "our
Then they swept across the city, looting and vandalising
The detachment of troops was from Cranborne Barracks and accused
foreign currency dealers of consorting with the central bank to
Zimbabwe's bankrupt central bank regularly
raises foreign currency from the
black market and relies on an informal
network of street traders.
The riots on December 1 were repulsed by the
military police, resulting in
the death of "two miscreants", according to
Security sources say Zimbabwe's army is seriously considering a
has maintained a heavy deployment of military police in the city
"We need to take appropriate measures to counter their actions
said a military spokesman.
A pact signed by the
military and Reserve Bank Governor Gideon Gono in
November set up a scheme
where soldiers could access cash weekly from army
soldiers say the facility is being abused by top
generals, who are making
hefty withdrawals daily, leaving the rank-and-file
in the army with
Government regulations only permit withdrawals from banks of
Zimbabwe dollars a day, hardly enough for a single fare on public
Military experts are warning the riots are a precursor to
pro-government analysts say the disturbances were just a
simple case of
indiscipline within the ranks.
Army sources said the
military courts are currently overwhelmed with cases
related to indiscipline
in the rank-and-file of the army as rebellious
troops protest against
mounting hardships. The troops on December 1 were
also objecting to
appalling conditions in the army barracks, where they
complain of being
forced to subsist on a diet of the staple sadza (a maize
meal mush) and
Dozens of anti-riot and military police have taken up
positions around the
city centre after fresh threats by labour leaders to
march to the central
bank to demand the complete removal of withdrawal
limits, imposed to ration
scarce cash supplies.
Tensions are mounting
as civilians supporting the soldiers' demands join the
hurled rocks at anti-riot and military police troops
during the December 1
The scene then was reminiscent of acts of civil disobedience in
Zimbabwe's capital sparked by food shortages that spread like
through this impoverished nation of 11.8 million
Zimbabwe, once a breadbasket of southern Africa, is now among the
countries in the region, and has been struggling to establish
since disputed elections held in March.
rebellion of soldiers could lead to Mugabe's ousting, warned
political commentator Ronald Shumba.
"It's a situation becoming rapidly
explosive," he said. "This is a sign of a
deep-seated problem in the army -
in Mugabe's regime, in fact."
An official police spokesman tried to
downplay the near mutiny, claiming it
was a simple case of "theft and
Some analysts said the protests herald the beginning of the end
84, who is beginning to lose the support of powerful factions in
party and the increasingly disaffected army, police and security
Mugabe, who has been in power for 28 years, has ruled with fear
patronage. But now a combination of an unprecedented economic collapse
growing opposition within his security forces and the ruling ZANU-PF
present the clearest threats to his rule.
There is palpable
anger in the police and army over low salaries and the
of ZANU-PF loyalists and veterans of the guerrilla war
that ended white rule
in 1980, according to a private in the army.
"Morale in the army has hit
rock bottom," he said. "Everyone is complaining
about the increasing
hardships. It would seem the majority are blaming
President Mugabe himself
for causing the hardships.
"They think it's better for him to share power
with the opposition to rescue
He was unwilling to be
identified for fear of reprisal.
Hyperinflation is spreading poverty, as
even basic goods become
unaffordable. Supermarket trolleys lie idle as few
can afford to buy more
than a handful of goods.
inflation rate was 231 million per cent in July but
and retailers say it is now above quintillion per
cent and picking up
The crisis has hit soldiers hard, who earn an equivalent of 3 US
Small-scale mutinies have been reported, but
despite Mugabe's precarious
support in the army and police, analysts say a
military coup or widespread
revolt are unlikely.
Moyo, Mugabe's former information minister and currently
member of parliament, dismissed suggestions that the revolt
in the security
forces opened the possibility of a coup.
He said it was just a symptom of
Mugabe's failure to reward the soldiers
with privileges, including generous
payouts, as the economy collapses that
is responsible for the
"He is fast losing the support of his most reliable supporters,
suggesting it's a precursor to a coup is pie in the sky," he
However, Professor Heneri Dzinotyiwei, an opposition deputy who is
lecturer at the University of Zimbabwe, said Mugabe faced trouble
army, which used to be considered solidly loyal to the
"I think to a large extent it is an indication of the
frustration in the army," he said. "As to what might happen? It
how the banking community in collaboration with armed forces are
contain this. But you can't blame the soldiers."
analyst who declined to be named said Mugabe was committing regime
himself through his disastrous economic policies, now manifested in
"I think it's the end-game," he said. "Things have
reached a critical
Chipo Sithole is the pseudonym of an IWPR
journalist in Zimbabwe.
launches probe into looting soldiers
by Godfrey Marawanyika Godfrey
Marawanyika - Wed Dec 3, 6:24 am ET
HARARE (AFP) - Zimbabwe's government
vowed to punish troops involved in a
rampage against currency traders, as
the inflation-wracked country printed
new banknotes Wednesday, including a
The death toll in the country's cholera epidemic
rose to 565, according to
UN figures released Wednesday.
Minister Sydney Sekeramayi told reporters that the military was
investigating looting carried out by "unruly" soldiers in Harare on Monday
and promised the culprits would be punished.
"During the last five
days, Harare experienced disturbances by a few unruly
elements from the
defence forces," he said late Tuesday.
"As a result, a number of
properties were damaged, innocent people injured,
money and property
stolen," he added.
"Measures are being taken that this will not happen
again. These incidents
are being investigated and those culpable would be
brought to book."
The soldiers were accused of looting downtown shops in
Harare and beating
foreign currency dealers. Several shops were looted and
soldiers of having carried off goods.
Herald newspaper and The Star newspaper in South Africa
pictures of uniformed soldiers apparently looting shops
and taking goods
away. Police were called to break up the riot.
The army has denied having
sent troops into the streets to attack the
foreign currency dealers, who
provide an illegal but essential service in a
country where local bank notes
lose value by the hour.
Zimbabwe's soldiers rarely show open dissent
against President Robert
Mugabe, the 84-year-old who has governed since
independence from Britain in
While senior army officials are
seen as loyal to Mugabe, ordinary soldiers
have suffered the same stark
deprivations that have cut across Zimbabwean
on Wednesday dispersed protesting doctors and nurses who had
gathered at the
ministry of health headquarters in central Harare, hoping to
petition to the authorities.
"We are forced to work without basic health
institututional needs like
drugs, adequate water and sanitation, safe
clothing gear, medical equipment
and basic support services," their protest
Medical workers are struggling to cope with the nationwide
cholera. Water supplies in the capital Harare have been cut off
as the authorities struggle to contain the epidemic.
disease, which can be transmitted in contaminated water, has already
at least 565 people across the country, according to figures released
Wednesday by the UN.
The capital Harare is the worst-affected area
with 177 deaths and 6,448
suspected cases -- more than half the total number
of 12,546 cases
nationwide, the UN Office for the Coordination of
Humanitarian Affairs said
in a statement.
On Wednesday, police
officers beat up more than 20 people protesting over
their inability to get
their money out of banks as the authorities prepared
to issue the first
Officers used batons to hit the protesters and
members of the Zimbabwe
Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) who had gathered for
a protest march, an AFP
correspondent at the scene reported.
of its continuing struggle to cope with runaway inflation, Zimbabwe
issuing three new denominations of banknotes, including a
one-hundred-million-dollar note, state media reported Wednesday.
Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) said the release of the new notes -- 100
million, 50 million and 10 million -- followed recent a review of the limit
on cash withdrawal.
The limit has been revised to 50 million Zimbabwe
dollars a day for
individuals and 100 million for company account holders --
up from 500,000
and a million dollars respectively, The Herald
The new notes will come into circulation on Thursday.
one of Africa's most successful nations, the economy has been shrinking
a nearly a decade, pounded by the world's highest inflation, last
at 231 million percent in July.
desertions in Zimbabwe army following killing of soldiers after
High level investigation in the Zimbabwe National Army are underway
Harare after Mondays shock rampaging by hundreds of soldiers through the
streets and looting.
Wednesday 3 December 2008, by Will
It was an unprecedented show of anger which has left Robert
government shaken. However, Mugabe's loyal generals have swiftly
investigations and owed to take strong measures against junior
Dressed in battle fatigues, they assaulted foreign-currency
dealers and made
off with their money. The unarmed soldiers also fought with
police and several were arrested.
It was the third
outbreak of such violence since last Thursday. The sight of
soldiers was then unprecedented.
Army sources said an inquiry had already
begun, with dozens facing court
Unconfirmed reports say
three of the 12 soldiers who took part in Thursday's
riot have been killed.
As a result hundreds of fearful junior soldiers had
stopped reporting for
duty. Mass desertions are likely to follow.
"Many of them will be kept
away from the armouries because of suspicions of
disloyalty. They simply
won't have the means to stage a full-scale coup or
embark on any sustainable
revolt," said a middle-ranking army officer who
did not want to be
Soldiers' salaries which are now the equivalent of five US cents
and barely enough to cover a day's bus fare, could not be drawn
banks because of a cash shortage.
The food rations they used
to get to supplement meagre salaries have been
stopped because imports have
dried up because of the lack of funds. Instead,
soldiers are being asked to
bring food from home.
Alarmed by the rampage and looting the government
has warned that stern
action would be taken on soldiers while at the same
time confirming that
they had looted in the city.
The minister of
defence, Sidney Sekeramayi, also claimed that the situation
"During the last five days, Harare experienced disturbances
unruly elements from the Defence Forces ... As a result,
damaged, innocent people were injured, money and property
was stolen," he
told a press conference.
"These actions are
unacceptable, deplorable, reprehensible and criminal. The
defence expresses sincere regret that this has happened and
would like to
assure Harare residents and the nation that the situation is
to the mutineers!
How the government plans to deal with the rioting
Following my report on the Zimbabwe army's rioting soldiers, who
running amok in the streets of Harare, government sources are
that those dissident troops who can be identified will be
Since last Thursday mobs of soldiers,
frustrated by lack of pay and food,
have been terrorizing local citizens,
targeting foreign currency dealers,
and looting shops and market stalls.
Their activities climaxed on Monday
with a pitched battle against riot
Today a government source close to the Joint Operations Command,
that to all intents and purposes runs Zimbabwe today, told me that
President Robert Mugabe returns from his current visit to Doha, he will
recommended to impose the death penalty on the soldiers
"There is a general fear in government of another Somalia here
said the source. "A stern message to all soldiers is
and that means execution."
minister Sydney Sekeramyi had hinted as much, when he
described the rioting
troops as "rogue elements", and described their
actions as "unacceptable,
deplorable, reprehensible and criminal."
Meanwhile concern is growing for
the safety of Jestina Mukoko, a well-known
and popular human rights worker,
who was abducted from her Norton, Harare,
home some days ago by 15 men ,
believed to be members of the feared spy
agency, the Central Intelligence
Jestina rose to fame as a newsreader on the
Broadcasting Corporation (ZBC), but had moved on to
work with the Zimbabwe
Police Project. A statement by the Zimbabwe Lawyers
for Human Rights (ZLHR)
said she can still not be found, All that is known
is that one of the
vehicles involved in the abduction was a grey Mazda 325
ZLHR has been consistently documenting cases of politically
violence in the country for the past year, and has evidence that
human rights activists have been either abducted or arrested in
the past few
weeks. They include a local councillor in the Banket area north
Harare, and his wife, a provincial women's leader. So far neither
nor wife can be found.
On the streets this week doctors and
nurses marched to the Ministry of
Health to protest against the almost total
collapse of the public heath
service, and were brutally dispersed by police.
Another march by labour
union members, organized by the Zimbabwe Congress of
Trade Unions (ZCTU),
was broken up before it reached the Central
So the demonstrations, official and violent supressions, the
human rights workers, beatings, and murders - all grow grow
more numerous by
the day. If our government now begins to execute protesting
members of its
own military establishment, can total anarchy be far
Posted on Wednesday, 03 December 2008 at 16:56 |
blames opponents over revolt by soldiers
By KITSEPILE NYATHI, NATION
CorrespondentPosted Wednesday, December 3 2008
The Zimbabwean government has accused its opponents of inciting
revolt in what critics say is confirmation of suspicions the
protests by the usually loyal security forces were a well
calculated ruse to
allow President Robert Mugabe to declare a state of
The warnings came as riot police in the capital Harare violently
marches by nurses, doctors and ordinary workers protesting against
deepening cash shortages and the economic crisis.
the first time after days of looting and street battles between
soldiers and anti-riot police in central Harare, the Defence
Sydney Sekeramayi, told state media the government was worried
were coinciding with intensifying demonstrations against Mr
Zimbabwe's main labour body called for nationwide protests
withdrawal limits imposed by the central bank.
morning, police maintained a heavy presence on roads leading to Harare's
central business district and tried to prevent protesters from raiding banks
as part of the protests.
"The coincidence of the above stated
incidents (riots by soldiers) and the
call for nationwide demonstrations
raises a lot of questions," Mr Sekeramayi
said. "While it is the right of
citizens to demonstrate, it must be done
within the context and confines of
the laws of this country."
He said investigations were already under way
to identify those behind the
This raised suspicions that
President Mugabe, who was attending the
just-ended United Nations Conference
on Financing Development in Doha when
the soldiers began storming the
streets and attacking illegal foreign
currency dealers, was targeting his
More disturbing were reports that the soldiers were seen
showing the symbol
of the main opposition Movement for Democratic Change
(MDC), an open palm,
as they ran amok on the streets, critics
"Let me also emphasise that those who may try to incite some
members of the
uniformed forces to indulge in illegal activities will
equally be found
culpable," Mr Sekeramayi said.
Already several MDC
officials, including Mr Tendai Biti, the party's
secretary general have
appeared in court facing allegations of trying to
influence security forces
to revolt against the government.
The charges arose after Mr Mugabe's
ruling Zanu PF lost its parliamentary
majority for the first time since
independence to the MDC during the March
Magora, a social commentator believes Mr Mugabe's opponents were
into a trap by organising protests they hope will be supported by
Former Home Affairs minister Dumiso Dabengwa
who was once jailed by Mr
Mugabe's government for alleged treason also
expressed similar fears saying
Zanu PF was desperate to extricate itself
from a number of crises
threatening to sweep it away.
He said the
protests by the soldiers bore a resemblance to a series of
bombings that have rocked police stations in Harare. Police
General Augustine Chihuri who is a close ally of Mr Mugabe is
saying the bombings were an inside job.
Zimbabwe remains tense as the
ruling party and the two formations of the MDC
continue to haggle over the
formation of a unity government proposed by a
September 15 power sharing
Mugabe's power base under threat as soldiers protest
3 November 2008
The MDC secretary for security and
intelligence said on Wednesday clashes
between soldiers and the police in
central Harare on Monday symbolize the
advanced decay of Robert Mugabe's
power base, that has served him so well
a group of irate soldiers clashed with police officers after
access their money from their banks. In the fierce brawl that
several people were injured and shops were looted and had their
Giles Mutsekwa, the MDC MP for Dangamvura-Chikanga in Mutare,
fight between elements of the forces of law and order as
'taboo' and an
indication that the centre can no longer hold.
problem began last week Thursday when soldiers assaulted bank staff and
broke windows, before they poured onto the streets, blocking traffic and
intimidating passersby. On arrival of the military police the rampaging
troops fled down Julius Nyerere Way and converged at the Ximex Mall, behind
the Harare's main post office, where they disrupted business and caused
people to flee.
The following day on Friday, Harare's streets were
the site of total chaos
as angry uniformed soldiers vented their frustration
and anger on traders,
foreign currency dealers and passersby. Black market
traders were the
initial targets of the soldiers, but there was a melee when
they turned on
members of the public. Mutsekwa said this was an empire
crumbling right in
front of their eyes.
'The grievances voiced by the
soldiers have struck a nerve among the top
military brass. More than ever,
the government should listen to the public's
long-time clamour for change,'
In a rare television appearance Defence Minister Sydney
Sekeramayi said the
disturbances were merely a 'blip' in the military, as
the soldiers received
little public support during the
Soldiers rarely show open dissent against Mugabe but events
of the past week
indicate that the wheels are indeed coming off. Mutsekwa
said while senior
army officials are seen as loyal to Mugabe; ordinary
soldiers have suffered
the same stark deprivations that have cut across
'Between 80 and 85 percent of the army population is
deeply disgruntled. I've
told Sekeramayi several times in Parliament that
the army was not being
managed professionally and warned him that when the
patronage system fails,
it doesn't take any prisoners, they all go down,'
He noted the speed with which Sekeramayi convened the
media briefing to
issue a strong warning to the 'unruly' soldiers, whilst
failing to address
issues that caused the problem.
says they will leave no stone unturned to flush out the
glaringly missed to say why the soldiers acted in that manner.
gloss over the indiscipline of soldiers without addressing the
areas,' Mutsekwa added.
SW Radio Africa Zimbabwe news
Zimbabwe tackles cash shortage
amid riots and looting
People line up to withdraw cash from local banks in Harare.
Photograph: Philimon Bulawayo/Reuters
government is set to greatly increase the amount of money people can withdraw
from banks from tomorrow in an attempt to quell growing unrest, including riots
and looting by soldiers this week, over a drastic cash shortage caused by
The central bank has raised the withdrawal limit from the equivalent of just
18p a day to about £33 a week following the protests in which scores of troops
apparently angry at waiting in long bank queues targeted shops in Harare that
will only accept payment in US dollars and blackmarket money changers openly
dealing on the streets.
The growing anger among soldiers and other Zimbabweans is due in part to the
increasing difficulty of using the national currency to buy anything but a few
locally produced vegetables and bread after the US dollar was made legal tender.
The central bank is also issuing new Zimbabwe dollar bank notes tomorrow
worth Z$50m (£17) and Z$100m to keep pace with inflation officially put at 231m%
in July but which economists now estimate runs in to the billions.
Riot police today arrested trade union leaders and broke up a small protest
over the limits on cash withdrawals. The union leaders were detained as they led
a march of a few dozen people to deliver a petition to the central bank
demanding an end to the restrictions.
The demonstrators carried placards reading "No to cash limits" and "We are
tired of sleeping at the banks" because many people spend hours queuing every
day just to get enough money to cover transport and a few basic foodstuffs.
The police today also broke up a protest by doctors and nurses attempting to
deliver a petition to the health ministry in Harare objecting to the lack of
medical supplies and the closure of some large government hospitals.
"We are forced to work without basic health institutional needs like drugs,
adequate water and sanitation, safe clothing gear, medical equipment and basic
support services," the letter said.
The collapsing health service is now grappling with the additional burden of
cholera. The UN said today that it had confirmed 565 deaths from cholera among
12,546 reported cases but medical charities say the real toll is at least
One-third of the deaths were in the capital, Harare, where water has been cut
off for days because of a lack of chemicals to treat the supply.
The government said it will punish troops involved in the protests but some
of Mugabe's critics suspect the demonstrations may have been orchestrated to
justify a further crackdown on his opponents and possibly the introduction of a
state of emergency.
The former home affairs minister Dumiso Dabengwa, who has joined a breakaway
faction from Mugabe's Zanu-PF party, told the IRIN news service that the
protests may not be what they seem.
"I do hope the demonstrations by the soldiers are genuine, and that it is not
a ruse to come up with an excuse to crack down against the people, or even
worse," he said.
"You can't rule out what they [the government] might do. They have so many
problems ... such as cholera and money shortages. They want to rule a country
where they have total control over the people. Anything is possible - they face
so many problems that I don't rule out any move to contain the situation."
Suspicion is rife because the government has sought to retain the backing of
the army by ensuring that banks regularly delivered cash to the barracks.
However, the troops still have much to be disgruntled about.
The central bank is issuing the new bank notes tomorrow as the national
currency continues its interminable decline. A new Zimbabwe dollar was launched
in August after 10 zeros were wiped off the currency because banks and shops
could no longer handle the numbers.
But the new dollar has plummeted just as fast, falling from about Z$10 to the
pound in early August to Z$3m today for cash. Twenty-seven new currency
denominations have been introduced in Zimbabwe this year alone.
The rioting soldiers told bystanders they were angry that what little money
they have can be used for little more than paying for transport and buying a few
of the sparse locally produced goods.
The government caught up with reality by legalising the use of US dollars and
other hard currency in September. Dollars and South African rand were already in
widespread use in what amounted to underground supermarkets selling imports. Now
the transactions are legal, it is almost impossible to buy anything in Zimbabwe
The Spar in Ballantyne Park, in northern Harare, is used by middle-class
Zimbabweans and their domestic workers. It prices almost everything in US
dollars and will accept payments only in the American currency, rand or
Change is given in bread rolls because of a shortage of small foreign notes.
Only locally produced vegetables, eggs and bread can be paid for in Zimbabwe
to meet ZCTU leadership Thursday
December 3, 2008
HARARE - Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) governor Gideon
Gono on Wednesday
conceded to a formal meeting with ZCTU leaders to discuss
scrapping of the central bank's unpopular cash withdrawal
This was after the militant labour representative group had
presented its petition to Gono in spite of a violent response
The petition was the highlight of a countrywide
strike action against the
central bank's cash limits Wednesday.
secretary general Wellington Chibhebhe was arrested by the police,
other ZCTU officials, for organizing the strike. They were later
without any charge.
Chibhebhe told The Zimbabwe Times Wednesday that Gono
said he was equally
concerned with the failure by Zimbabweans to access
"He was very welcoming," said Chibhebhe, shortly after his
"He said he was equally concerned by the
failure by fellow Zimbabweans to
access their cash in their bank accounts.
We have agreed to meet tomorrow
(Thursday) at 9am during which meeting we
are going to discuss modalities
through which the cash crisis can be
ZCTU deputy secretary general Japhet Moyo said during
Gono initially agreed to go and address restive crowds
in the city centre
but later rescinded his decision for security
Gono this week reviewed upwards cash withdrawal limits while
weekly cash withdrawal limits.
Under the new measures,
individuals will now be allowed to withdraw $100
million, up from $$500 000
while companies would be allowed access to $150
million, up from $1
The increases take effect this Thursday concurrently with the
another new set of bank notes - $10 million, $50 million and
The ZCTU dismissed the increase saying it would not have
any long term
effect on the cash woes that have been affecting Zimbabweans
for the past
Meanwhile, the ZCTU says a total of 69
demonstrators who include its leaders
were arrested throughout the country
as police broke protests called by the
Eight protestors were
also treated for injuries sustained when police
violently broke Wednesday's
strike in the city centre.
ZCTU information officer Khumbulani Ndlovu
said that 15 people who were
arrested together with ZCTU secretary-general,
Wellington Chibhebhe in
Harare were later released without any
According to the ZCTU, five protestors who were arrested in
still in police custody while four people arrested in Karoi have
released. However one Cherechedzai Rubiwa is said to have remained in
Ndlovu said 35 people arrested in Gweru were still in
custody after the
police refused to release them. The police said they will
deal with the
"Seven people arrested in Bulawayo are
still in police custody with lawyers
frantically working to have then
Zimbabwean women face state
During the 16 Days of
Activism, Zimbabwean women activists have been hard
hit by the government's
ongoing campaign against human rights defenders and
activists. One of
Zimbabwe's foremost human rights activists was abducted
today by armed state
agents and 10 women trade unionists were badly
assaulted during a
Jestina Mukoko, the Director of the Zimbabwe Peace Project, a
documentation institution was abducted today from her home in
31 km from Harare today, Wednesday 3 December, around 05h00 by
clothed security agents believed to be the Central Intelligence
(CIO). The men were driving a Mazda Familia car without
They gained access to her home after assaulting her
caretaker/guard. Her 17
year old son and her domestic worker witnessed the
abduction. Ms Mukoko was
taken away still wearing her
Jestina Mukoko's organization, Zimbabwe Peace Project, has
meticulously-researched reports on partisan distribution of
food assistance by the Zimbabwe government and the violence
Zimbabweans at community level. In past years Ms Mukoko was a
for the state-owned Zimbabwe Broadcasting
Another 10 women were heavily assaulted by the police in
Harare, during a
protest organised by the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions
assaulted include Getrude Hambira (General Agricultural and
Workers' Union - General Secretary), Angeline Chitambo (Zimbabwe
Workers' Union - President), Tecla Masamba (Communications and Allied
Workers' Union of Zimbabwe), Martha Kajama (National Engineering Workers'
Union of Zimbabwe) and Mirriam Katumba (Vice Chair Women's Advisory
In Pretoria, a group of young refugee women, survivors of
violence and abuse in Zimbabwe, have been holding a picket
on Church Street,
in front of Union Buildings, in protest against the
ongoing violence and
abuse of women by Zimbabwean government State agents.
They are vehemently
opposed to continued ZANU PF control of Zimbabwe's
meltdown in figures
Inflation reached 231 million
percent a year in July, the latest month for
which a figure has been
announced. Economists think it is now much higher
and say prices are
Gross domestic product has fallen every year
since 2000, down 10.4 percent
in 2003 alone. The IMF estimated that the
economy shrank 6.1 percent in
Per capita GDP was estimated at
$200 (135 pounds) in 2007, from nearer $900
in 1990. Zimbabwe has the
world's fastest shrinking economy for a country
not at war, according to the
An estimated 83 percent of the population was
living on below $2 a day by
2005. Since then, the situation has only
Exports averaged 33.5 percent of GDP between
1997 and 2001. UBS forecast
this would decline to 9.9 percent in
Once the breadbasket of southern Africa,
Zimbabwe now needs to import maize.
The U.N. agricultural production index
for Zimbabwe fell from nearly 107 in
2000 to just over 74 in
Official figures show maize production at 800,000 tonnes last
national demand of 2 million tonnes.
Gold output, which accounts for a third of export earnings, hit a
low of 125
kg in October, from a peak of 2,400 kg, as the economic crisis
estimated at over 90 percent. Well over 3 million
Zimbabweans are thought to
have fled, mostly to South Africa, in search of
work and food.
Aid agencies say 5 million people -- almost half the population --
need food aid by early 2009.
* IMF ARREARS
into arrears with the International Monetary Fund in 2001. In
it owed $88 million, of which nearly $80 million has been in
three years or more. While Zimbabwe has averted expulsion, the
suspended financial and technical assistance.
Average life expectancy fell from 63 years in 1990 to 40.9
years in 2005,
according to U.N. figures.
The mortality rate for
children under five rose to 132 deaths per 1,000 in
2005 from 76 deaths in
The official death toll from a cholera epidemic
since August is at least 565
with over 12,500 infected, according to the
U.N. Office for the Coordination
of Humanitarian Affairs in
In 2007, HIV prevalence was 15.6 percent
among adults aged 15 to 49 -- the
fourth highest in the world. It causes the
death of about 3,200 people per
week in the country of 13.3
HIV prevalence among pregnant women at clinics actually fell
from 26 percent
in 2002 to 18 in 2006, but some put that down to high
emigration rather than prevention measures.
Save the Children said an anthrax outbreak in the south west has
three people and could wipe out at least 60,000 livestock.
Reuters, WFP, World Bank, Unicef, UNDP, IMF, CIA World
Mugabe will have no people left to rule
Wednesday, 03 December
CAPE TOWN - Zimbabwe is in a state of absolute chaos. Even the
who have beaten up and kidnapped MDC supporters for Mugabe have not
paid for the last two months. The country is no longer under a dictator
is completely lawless. The land is wet, but the crops are not planted.
Police, government staff and soldiers starve with the people, an almost
uniting struggle. The people have had enough, they have nothing.
Zanu (PF) has no foresight. They have cut off the hand that feeds
hand that has beaten for them. The rural lands are filled with
can now only wait to die. Elders are saying: 'Mugabe will have no
left to rule.'
Ironically, almost all of Zimbabwe uses - thanks to
Mugabe and Gono -
the currency of Zanu (PF)'s hated America. The prices are
even higher than
those in America itself! A coke costs you US$2.50 and
mealie meal is R90 for
a ten kg bag.
This Christmas there will be
no parties for the people, only funerals
to attend. The hard-earned money
from the Diaspora will be spent on coffins.
People will have to pay more for
food than they have ever paid in their
The police and
soldiers have no faith in the thieves they work for,
but fear for their
jobs. The people have seen it all, the dead bodies and
the Zanu chefs' BMWs.
The cholera outbreak serves as a sign of how bad the
country is, with people
unable to merely find or buy the rehydration fluid
they need to save their
People from the outside world can not imagine how our people
suffered, how without begging or stealing they have done everything
to survive. How they have eaten ants, wild fruit, rats, birds and
pawpaw (like potatoes). How our people have suffered and died in
homes and accepted a fate they have never chosen. How they have
Tsvangirai's calls of patience but at such a high price.
This time immigrants here in South Africa can never send enough. Gono
Mugabe's men are stealing more than they have ever stolen - our bread
their cake. It is a time when we are really running out of options and
uprising is imminent, but let, I pray, the uprising be from the people,
the people and for the people, not some opportunistic rebel group for
*† If you have cholera it is dehydration that kills you.
To increase a
person's chances of survival you can help by giving them
This is made by mixing one level teaspoon of salt, eight
level teaspoons of
sugar, one litre of clean drinking (or boiled water and
produces 5 cupfuls (each cup about 200 ml.)
Zim's options now?
††††December 03 2008 at 04:08PM
London - Zimbabwe's crisis is worsening rapidly in the
absence of agreement
on implementing a power-sharing deal between President
Robert Mugabe and
opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai.
Here are some
The stalemate continues
Zimbabwe's economy and
social system appear rapidly headed towards total
breakdown, highlighted by
a cholera outbreak that has killed over 560 people
and by clashes earlier
this week between Zimbabweans and angry soldiers.
Street protests in
Harare on Wednesday were another sign of the growing
tensions in a country
where nobody has money to buy food or meet other basic
needs. Although the
protests have been small and easily suppressed by police
with batons, the
weight of despair is clearly growing.
efforts to print more money are only adding to stratospheric
exports collapsing, there is nothing to back the currency.
Output of gold,
which had been a third of exports, has tumbled as the crisis
A worried army is taking measures to curb "rogue soldiers" after
disturbances. While there is no sign the army dissent amounts to a
the rank-and-file is suffering alongside other Zimbabweans and could
potentially be a threat to the government as well as to public
The confrontation between police and the rampaging soldiers
week also raised the risk of trouble between forces once
discipline and cohesion.
There is no obvious breaking
point, but the New Year has traditionally been
a time of high expenditure
for Zimbabweans. School fees and other costs fall
due then for many. The
government has lifted import duties on basic
commodities to help make them
more available for Christmas, state media
The clock is
certainly ticking on chances for the power-sharing deal.
The spiralling crisis will increase pressure on both sides for
although Tsvangirai's opposition Movement for Democratic Change
has said it
will be another two weeks before it is even discussed
Tsvangirai has been holding out for the home affairs ministry,
controls the police, but the most on offer has been joint control. The
crisis could put greater pressure on him to avoid being seen as the
obstacle, but there is no sign yet that either he or Mugabe will
If they do agree on a power-sharing cabinet, they could face a new
struggle - reaching compromise on economic policy to ease daily hardships
and persuade Western donors that reforms are in store so that they pump
money into the country.
Mugabe has said he will stick to policies
such as seizing white-owned farms
and plans to nationalise foreign-owned
banks and mines -- the last thing
donors and investors want. Tsvangirai
promises free-market policies.
Western money would also depend on
Tsvangirai having a clear say in the
running of the country, quite apart
from the fact that global financial
turmoil means Zimbabwe is not a top
issue and funds are in short supply.
Control of security forces would
also be a sensitive matter in any
Mugabe tries to go it alone
Mugabe is waving a
resolution from the southern African SADC bloc urging the
establishment of a unity government to demand the right to appoint
himself and has looked set to move in that direction.
He could name a
government alone while still keeping spaces for the
opposition, but it is
highly unlikely that main rival Morgan Tsvangirai
would take up such posts.
It would also be likely to simply prolong the
stalemate with the same risks
Mugabe could also face a hurdle in parliament, where
for Democratic Change and a breakaway MDC wing now
have more seats than
Western powers, including the
United States and former colonial ruler
Britain, would not accept such a
government as legitimate and could increase
sanctions. That could push the
economy even closer total collapse.
Impatience in the region is undoubtedly growing. The new
South Africa has been taking a more active role to try to
press the two
sides into a deal - symbolically putting some aid on
The spread of cholera to Zimbabwe's neighbours, after the flood of
of Zimbabweans seeking work, has given them another reason to want
the crisis is resolved.
But there still appears little will
for more forceful intervention and the
worsening crisis may lead, at least
in the short term, to no more than an
increase in the calls on the two sides
to agree. - Reuters