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

Back to Index

Back to the Top
Back to Index

From The Daily Telegraph (UK), 7 December

Zimbabweans whisper for their supper

Harare - 'Psst," the young man hissed, as I drank a cup of coffee on the veranda of a roadside cafe. The hisser was furtive, but it was not diamonds or cocaine that he was trying to sell me - it was food. He was offering 20lb of maize meal for Z$2,500, which is equal to anything from two to 50 pence depending on which exchange rate you use. The minimum wage for a labourer is about Z$7,000 a month, the same price as 2lb of imported margarine in the nearby supermarket. Local margarine is no longer available. We whisper arrangements. I will meet him behind the garage across the road in 45 minutes. At the appointed time, I drive along a sanitary lane at the back of the garage, and wait. These deals take time. Two youths emerge from under a tarpaulin covering the back of a derelict pick-up and hiss at me. I hiss back. They drag four 20lb sacks of maize meal into the back of my car. The packs are wrapped in loose plastic sacks to disguise the tell-tale shape of a 20lb bag. I dig into about three inches of Z$500 notes, pick out Z$10,000, and the transaction is over. The youths disappear back under the tarpaulin of the pick-up, and I have my maize, enough to feed the woman who works for me and her family when I go away for Christmas.

But more shopping has to be done. Sugar. That is usually available from youths at a shopping centre further west. As they see my old car roaring round the corner, they smile and disappear for a couple of minutes, re-emerging with a 4lb pack of sugar in a cardboard box. The price has gone up to Z$500. Next on my list is milk. Too late - it's 9.30am and all the milk in the supermarkets was sold an hour earlier. The bread queues at bakeries are too formidable to join. Many of the bakeries are next door to coffee shops, yet sipping a cappuccino while watching people queue for food is too uncomfortable. Then a blow to the solar plexus. Why the hell didn't I notice that my petrol gauge was near empty? We had a week of no fuel queues, and like summer, I thought it would go on for ever. There is not enough in the tank to get to my "stash". A stash, or a friendly garage owner, is essential for those who cannot face queuing - or rather can afford not to. A friend drives 10 miles away, fills up at my friendly garage, then drives to me, and we suck a tube and siphon enough petrol to get me to the garage to fill up. I will have to phone 10 minutes ahead before getting there - which is difficult as mobile phones hardly work. Calling ahead is necessary so that the garage owner can tell me if the coast is clear, so that he can arrange for me to jump the queue without being lynched as a "white supremacist". On the way back from my hunt for maize meal, sugar and milk, I pass children begging at traffic lights. There are six traffic lights to get through before home, and at each one I give them sugar, a teaspoonful wrapped in paper, taken from coffee shops. There is no point in giving them money, as most people cannot afford to give enough on a regular basis to buy even a banana, and sugar is a treat.

Along the roads, the four-wheel-drive vehicles speed to the suburbs, driven by rich members of the black middle class, girls with hair expensively plaited, ears fixed to cell phones. On the side of the uneven streets, the dwindling working class trudge home, unable to afford even a bus ticket. Out in the desolate townships and shanty towns it's worse. A woman bit the lip off another who jumped a queue a couple of weeks ago. On a hot afternoon recently fists flew at a bread queue on the western outskirts of town. At a township east of Harare on the same day there was a queue for cheap maize meal distributed by a local ruling party official touting for votes at an upcoming by-election. He was selling it to people with a ruling party card that pre-dated the disputed March presidential elections, which gave President Robert Mugabe another six years in power. Opposition youths, who far outnumbered the ruling party shoppers, were grinning broadly. They claimed to have "redistributed" some of the food to those who had been turned away. Last week, the World Food Programme issued a sudden warning about the deteriorating food situation in Zimbabwe. Yet for those whose pockets are stuffed with a few inches of Z$500 notes, everything can still be all right in Harare.

Back to the Top
Back to Index

From News24 (SA), 6 December

Zim 'worst' in southern Africa

Harare - Zimbabwe is worst off among the six southern African countries threatened with famine, which is a crisis rooted in the Aids epidemic and not just crop failures and hunger, a top UN official said on Thursday. Stephen Lewis, the UN's special envoy on HIV/Aids in Africa, told a press conference that southern Africa was facing "deadly human destruction" due to famine because the immune systems of many people have been run down due to HIV/Aids. Fifteen million people in Malawi, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Lesotho, Swaziland and Mozambique are threatened with starvation, and five million adults are living with HIV/Aids in these six countries. "Zimbabwe in many ways is the epicentre in southern Africa - it's where everything at the moment amongst the six countries is at its worst," said Lewis. Nearly eight million people, or more than two-thirds of Zimbabwe's population of 11.6 million, are threatened with famine. And at least 2.2 million Zimbabweans are living with HIV/Aids. "There's no question that this calamity is something that neither this country, nor the continent nor any of us have ever dealt with before," Lewis noted. The special envoy, who is on a trip to four of the six affected countries, including Zimbabwe, met on Thursday with President Robert Mugabe. Asked whether he felt the Zimbabwean government was doing enough to deal with the crisis, the UN envoy said Mugabe had spoken "with concern" about the crisis. "I got the sense when he (Mugabe) was talking of someone who was certainly deeply aware of what was happening," said Lewis. He said he held a serious discussion with Mugabe about possible methods of intervention that could be used to overcome the crisis. Deputy Finance Minister Chris Kuruneri was reported by the Ziana state news agency as having told Lewis the number of Zimbabweans needing food aid had climbed to eight million people from the previous figure of 6.7 million.

Back to the Top
Back to Index

Zim Independent - Editor's Memo

What have you done?
Iden Wetherell
THOSE who fail to learn the lessons of history are condemned to repeat them,
it is said.

I was pondering this maxim recently and wondering why so few commentators
have picked up the obvious fact that Zimbabwe is replete with lessons from
its own struggle for liberation that have application today. The South
African experience is also salutary.

The Rhodesian and South African regimes had by the mid-1960s closed off all
avenues of peaceful protest against their narrow exclusivist rule. The
Suppression of Communism Act in South Africa in 1950 and subsequent laws
directed against the ANC and PAC made civil protest impossible.

Defiance campaigns and demonstrations against the pass laws which had been a
feature of civic protest in the 1950s proved impracticable after 1960 as the
machinery of the state was mobilised to crush protest of any sort. The
result was the formation of underground structures as revealed at the
Rivonia trials.

In Southern Rhodesia the Law and Order (Maintenance) Act, passed in 1960 but
extensively amended thereafter, which suffocated dissent, and the refusal of
the Rhodesian Front regime to countenance democratic reforms led to an
exodus of young Zimbabweans who were organised outside the country in what
eventually became the Patriotic Front.

Today we are witnessing the suppression of civic protest on much the same
scale. Many would argue that conditions are in many respects worse than
those prevailing in the 1960s. The government has declared war on the
democratic opposition, it has subverted the justice system, and made
legitimate protest impossible. Twenty-nine members of the NCA were arrested
and detained over the weekend for doing nothing more than exercising their
constitutional right to demonstrate for a new constitution.

The Public Order and Security Act, little different in form and content from
the Law and Order (Maintenance) Act, makes it an offence to denigrate the
president who, as head of government and the ruling party, is a major player
on the political stage who doesn't hesitate to denigrate his opponents.

Another law passed this year, the Access to Information and Protection of
Privacy Act, seeks to prevent the press from performing its watchdog role on
behalf of society.

Thousands of Zimbabweans are leaving the country every year because it is
governed by a party that has destroyed their job prospects and made it an
offence to complain.

But while some comparisons are valid, with important lessons to convey, the
situation today is obviously not identical to that of 30 years ago. There
are now ten times as many Zimbabweans living outside the country as there
were at the height of the liberation war in the late 1970s.

Under Ian Smith the economy held up well despite sanctions. Today it is a
wreck and seven million people face starvation.

Despite such adversity there is fortunately no possibility at present of a
civil war along the lines of the insurrection that took place here after
1972 in which 30 000 lives were lost. The main opposition party, the MDC, is
committed to peaceful and democratic means in its quest for change.

But the nation is being dangerously divided along a number of lines. Anybody
under 30, apart from a handful bought by the ruling party, is likely to
support the opposition. So are urban residents who are mostly unamenable to
the facile blandishments - not to mention insults - of the president and his
party. People living in towns with access to information (the real sort)
know how national resources have been squandered by what one writer to our
Letters column this week describes as a kakistocracy - government by the
worst people.

The residents of Harare and Bulawayo know perfectly well President Mugabe is
anything but a national saviour.

Educated people are also overwhelmingly opposition supporters. Nobody with a
modicum of intelligence is going to swallow the daily diet of puerile
propaganda put out by the ruling party. Go onto any campus and ask students
what they think about Zanu PF and they will frankly tell you.

This unanimity of views is hardly surprising. The political process at
present consists of nothing more than Zanu PF attempting to break out of the
rural cul-de-sac to which it was confined by the electorate in 2000. It is
trying to beat and buy its way out of that political exile by the abuse of
state power including selective food distribution. At the same time it is
illegally crushing dissent. That is a recipe for strife. No government can
indefinitely sustain its tyranny by resort to force.

So what do we do? How does a democratic movement, committed to civic values,
including parliamentary and judicial due process, confront a regime which
holds those values in contempt and is prepared to use force to prevent
peaceful mobilisation? The obvious answer is to put tens of thousands of
people on the streets as the South African mass democratic movement did in
the 1980s. What is needed is a critical mass that cannot be bludgeoned into

This is not going to be an easy business. The police clearly have orders to
break up even the smallest gathering despite the fact that freedom of
expression and assembly are constitutionally guaranteed. The problem is
compounded by the fact that Zimbabwe, unlike South Africa, has no culture of
civic protest. The images of South African clerics and trade union leaders
marching peacefully arm in arm through Johannesburg and Cape Town in the
1980s are unlikely to be repeated here. Can you imagine our cowardly
prelates from the Catholic Bishops Conference or the Zimbabwe Council of
Churches venturing out of their episcopal burrows?

We need to do more to lay a civic foundation before street protest can
succeed. Civic awareness can take a number of forms from advocacy of a
democratic constitution to worker education. Lawyers, academics, students,
trade unionists and business people all have a role to play.

Cowards and collaborators with Zanu PF's tyranny need to be exposed as such.
As the regime's legitimacy inexorably evaporates - as is currently
happening - and its incapacity to deliver necessities like food or fuel is
revealed, civil society will be better placed to mobilise the masses who
have already, in 2000 and March this year, demonstrated resistance to
despotism. Those taking to the streets will understand what they are doing
there and will respond non-violently to police provocation. Events this week
in Venezuela where the people are confronting another populist demagogue
should be instructive.

This is a learning process. But it has to be undertaken. The sooner the
better. Ask yourself as 2002 draws to a miserable close: What organisation
am I a member of that is working for change? What have I done this year to
make a difference?
Back to the Top
Back to Index

Zim Independent

Land invaders scupper streetkids project
Taurai Dzengerere
A GROUP of landless people, led by war veterans, has barred the Zimbabwe
Street Children Rehabilitation Trust from constructing a home for streetkids
at Hopley Farm along Chitungwiza Road, after illegally occupying the site,
the Zimbabwe Independent has been told.

The patron of the Trust is First Lady Grace Mugabe who has already acquired
another farm in Mazowe, ostensibly for the same purpose. The trust is
chaired by Jewel Bank CEO Gideon Gono.

Harare City Council public relations officer, Cuthbert Rwazemba said council
had donated the land to the trust for the development of a home for
streetkids, who have become an eyesore in the city centre. But it had been
invaded by landless people as part of government's agrarian reform

"The acting town clerk has reported that the Street Children Rehabilitation
Trust has advised that the land in question has been occupied by a group of
landless people who have erected some structures," said Rwazemba.

He said the organisation could not develop the land unless the illegal
settlers were removed.

Rwazemba said the trust had already withdrawn from the site.

"The trust is no longer interested in developing the land for the
rehabilitation of the street children," he said.

The council planned to remove the illegal settlers. The land was reserved
for its original purpose and would be offered to any other organisation
interested in developing a home for street children.

Land invasions started in February 2000 when war veterans invaded white
commercial farms in Masvingo marking the beginning of a countrywide lawless
and often violent campaign which has displaced more than 3 000 farmers and
150 000 farm workers to date.
Back to the Top
Back to Index

Zim Embarks On Massive Restocking Exercise

The Herald (Harare)

December 5, 2002
Posted to the web December 5, 2002


Beef prices have soared in recent months owing to the significant drop in
the number of cattle available for slaughter and profiteering by butcheries.

The Cold Storage Company and private abattoirs are scrambling for cattle
resulting in increased prices for beasts.

Traditionally, during this time of the year farmers are reluctant to sell
their beasts because of the availability of grass.

This year the problem has been compounded by the de-stocking throughout the
year by white commercial farmers whose land was redistributed to indigenous

New farmers are starting to buy cattle and are not expected to send many
cattle for slaughter this year. Cattle rearing is a long-term business not
ideal for farmers looking for quick returns on investments.

Private abattoirs that manage to secure cattle are continuously increasing
their prices, forcing butcheries to push up prices as well.

Retailers have increased the price of beef from around $990 a kilogramme to
between $1 200 and $2 000 on average.

Abattoirs are, however, still selling super grade beef for $900 a kg, choice
beef for $890 a kg, commercial for $850 a kg and economy beef for $650 a kg.

Controlled prices are $375 for a kg of super grade meat, $250 and $275 a kg
for choice and commercial meat respectively.

Some butcheries in high-density suburbs are selling low-grade beef at a flat
price of $1 200 a kg.

Large retail outlets like TM, OK, Spar, Food Chain supermarkets are, in some
of their outlets, selling super grade beef only.

The retail outlets are also now selling high quality beef cuts such as rump
brisket, blade and T-bone at prices ranging from $1 750 to $ 2 000 a kg, up
from around $1 695 a kg. Fillet is being sold at prices of up to $2 250 a kg
at some city butcheries.

The Cold Storage Company (CSC) which has gone for a month without beef,
sells super grade meat for $975 a kg, choice for $975 a kg, commercial for
$825 a kg and economy for $775 a kg.

"We have gone for a month without beef," said a sales official at the
company. "There is no meat now."

The profit margins for butcheries have now come under intense scrutiny.
While they are not expected to sell beef at prices below wholesale prices
their profit margins have to be reasonable.

At present, some butcheries are putting over 100 percent mark up. Butchery
owners gave various reasons to justify the increases.

"Prices are going up for other things, so we have to do like wise," said a
city butchery owner. "Abattoirs have not hiked the price of beef but
overheads for us have gone up. So we have to make up for this."

Other butchery owners cited transport costs and the need to make a good
return on their purchases.

"When inflation is low its reasonable to make a mark-up of say 8 or 10
percent," said one butchery owner in Mabvuku. "But when it's high as it is
now, you have to increase accordingly, otherwise you will not be able to
purchase more goods."

However, consumers say there is no reasonable justification for butcheries
to hike the price of beef.

They accuse the business sector of speculative pricing, profiteering and
being generally greedy when it comes to pricing.

Consumers also condemned the business sector for believing that price
increases were the only panacea to viability problems.

"We know things are tough in the business world," said Mrs Jane Matare of
Greendale. "But the situation does not warrant regular and unjustified

Private abattoirs dominating the beef industry increased beef prices for all
grades by 15 percent in March 2001. By then, the wholesale prices for
economy beef rose to $66 a kg from $57 while commercial beef price went up
to $80 a kg from $68.

At the time, retailers paid $110 a kg up from $95 and up to $120 a kg for
super and choice beef grades.

It was common for butcheries to increase prices by around $45 for economy
and commercial grades and for up to $55 for super and choice grades.

A year later, greed and speculative motives have crept into the whole
pricing system pushing prices of beef to unimaginable and unjustified

"It's the 'everything-is-going-up syndrome' which is driving us to charge
unrealistic prices," said Mrs Matare. "It's pure greed and sheer drive for

Last year, a retailer would put up a margin of $45 for lower grades and $55
for high quality beef grades. Presently, butcheries are putting margins of
between $400 and $1 000 a kg for both low and high quality beef grades.

The Government was forced to impose a price freeze on a whole range of
products and services to protect consumers from profiteering by
manufacturers and distributors.

The price of the listed goods and services cannot be increased for the next
six months.

"Butchery owners are charging whatever they feel like," said Mrs Joana
Muregerera of Mufakose. "They adjust prices everyday and it's now difficult
to budget or plan."

However, beef prices will stabilise as efforts are being made to rebuild the
national herd.

The Livestock Development Trust (LDT) is at the forefront of the rebuilding
efforts. It has so far distributed at least 15 000 beasts to about 8 000 new

Zimbabwe's national herd was depleted following the 1992 drought, the worst
in living memory, which reduced the number of cattle to about five million.

At least 1,6 million livestock died during the 1992 drought.

The national herd is estimated to be 5,7 million with an asset value of $60
billion. Of the 5,7 million cattle, 4,5 million is found in the communal and
resettlement areas while the remaining 1,2 million is in the commercial
farming sector.

The Government this year allocated $450 million to the trust that was
established last year to assist new farmers to get livestock on credit.

Under the programme, farmers who require livestock apply to the trust
stating the type and number of cattle they require.

The trust would then either allocate the cattle or ask the farmers to look
for the cattle themselves for which the trust would pay.

The scheme also includes a number of other programmes, such as cows
supplementation and artificial insemination.

The massive national herd restocking investment exercise has resulted in the
empowerment of the resettled farmers as they now have access to loans they
could not get before because of the collateral demanded by financial

This empowerment policy is also being developed to promote livestock
production for the lucrative multi-billion dollar beef industry, which is a
foreign currency earner.

Zimbabwe and Libya recently signed a deal that would see the former
supplying the latter with a quota of 5 000 tonnes of beef per year.

A proposal has been made that 50 percent of that quota should come from the
communal areas.

LDT senior administrative officer, Mr Forbes Muvirimi, said farmers had
already dried up the $450 million allocated by the Government because of the
overwhelming response.

Initially, he said, the beneficiaries were allocated a maximum of 15 herd of
cattle per individual farmer but this had to be revised downwards following
the popularity of the programme.

"We are waiting for additional funds from the Government to expand the
programme since the farmers are raring to go," Mr Muvirimi said.

At least more than $1 billion was needed to successfully rebuild the
national herd over the next three years. The trust was facing several
challenges in its efforts to assist the new farmers to secure livestock on

"Some farmers have no adequate knowledge about the type of cattle suitable
for their areas while the other challenge is the shortage of quality bulls
which are essential for the breeding programme," Mr Muvirimi said.

Some of the cattle distributed to the farmers, he said, were also dying of
diseases such as heart water.

Zimbabwe Farmers Union director Mr Sylvester Tsikisayi said the number of
farmers who had benefited from the trust's livestock input scheme was a drop
in the ocean.

"There is need for the Government to allocate more resources to the
restocking exercise in order for more farmers to benefit from the scheme,"
he said.

Mr Tsikisayi said some of the cattle distributed to the farmers were dying
of diseases because of the shortage of dipping chemicals.

He called for closer co-operation among the ZFU, LDT and the Department of
Veterinary Services in order for the restocking exercise to be a success.

The ZFU, Mr Tsikisayi said, had put in place an insurance scheme for farmers
to ensure that those who lost their cattle through genuine reasons would be

The Government's efforts of restocking the national herd have been boosted
by the support of other organisations like the Indigenous Commercial Farmers
Union (ICFU) and World Vision International.

ICFU president Mr Davison Mugabe recently said the union was seeking to
raise up to $500 million for the establishment of a "cattle bank" that would
guarantee the future of the beef industry.

He said a number of white commercial farmers whose farms had been designated
had slaughtered their cattle in order to sabotage efforts to restock the
national herd.

The de-stocking exercise was taking place despite a policy put in place by
the Government early this year of protecting the slaughter of female beasts.

This followed reports that the country's total herd of breeding cattle had
gone down drastically from an estimated one million to about 400 000.

The plans to set up a cattle bank, Mr Mugabe said, had reached an advanced
stage and ICFU members would be expected to contribute a minimum of two
heads of cattle each for breeding under the scheme.

On the other hand, World Vision International was complementing the
Government's efforts of restocking the national herd through the Area
Development Programme (ADP) which was initiated in 1996.

The donor agency in July this year distributed more than 100 heifers and 12
bulls to villagers in Mudzi in Mashonaland East province.

The beasts, bought at a cost of more than $3,7 million, would go a long way
in empowering the villagers.

Beneficiaries of the ADP would pay half the costs of the beasts, a move that
would ensure that the recipients utilise the cattle properly as well as
promote good management.
Back to the Top
Back to Index

Zim Independent

King Lobengula's gold necklace disappears
Loughty Dube

POLICE in Bulawayo have instituted investigations into the disappearance
from the Natural History Museum of Zimbabwe of a gold necklace and two other
items belonging to the last Ndebele monarch, King Lobengula, last week amid
claims that museum officials are the prime suspects.
Matabeleland police spokesperson, Smile Dube, confirmed that police were
investigating the case but he would not be drawn into giving details of the
investigations or saying whether senior museum staff were under probe.
"We cannot specify the exact nature of our investigations into the matter
since this would jeopardise our progress on the case, but we are leaving no
stone unturned in the matter," Dube said.
The disappearance of the exhibits from the museum has caused a furore among
the royal Khumalo clan who have called upon the police to act swiftly to
recover the property.
The disappearance of the items comes exactly two years after the theft from
the same museum of a One Thousand Guinea Gold Trophy valued at US$50
One of the stolen items was a priceless gold watch that had belonged to a
pioneer missionary, the Reverend Robert Moffat. Sources in the museum told
the Zimbabwe Independent that it was impossible to break into the museum
considering the tight security in place.
"This looks suspiciously like an inside job and considering that senior
museum officials were reluctant to bring in the police raises suspicions
that they were involved. Chances are very high that they are, since there
was no forced entry," said the source.
The stolen exhibits were kept in a glass compartment at the museum whose
security features include a burglar alarm and a closed-circuit television
Efforts to contact the executive director of the Department of National
Museums, Godfrey Mahachi, proved fruitless but an official in the department
confirmed the disappearance of the exhibits.
"The Department of Museums is still assessing how the items went missing and
is going to investigate what else is missing from our inventory. Once that
is done, we will be in a position to comment on the thefts," said the
A spokesperson for the Khumalo clan, Peter Khumalo, said the family would do
everything possible to recover the lost property. "The police should take
swift action to recover the royal property and we are going to demand a full
list of the remaining artefacts in the museum," Khumalo said.
Back to the Top
Back to Index

Zim Independent

Mangwana threatens Tswanas
Mthulisi Mathuthu
IN a move that could further strain already frayed relations between Harare
and Gaborone, it has emerged that the Minister of State for State
Enterprises and Parastatals in the President's office, Paul Mangwana,
threatened to flush out all Tswanas from Zimbabwe during an angry exchange
with Botswana MP and head Of delegation, Shirley Sekgogo, in Brussels

He is understood to have said this while menacingly wagging a finger at the
MP ahead of last week's aborted EU/ACP joint parliamentary assembly.

Mangwana, who led the Zimbabwean delegation, is said to have confronted
Sekgogo during a lunch-break on Monday last week following her forthright
speech in which she blamed Zimbabwe for scuttling regional investment
opportunities and for lawlessness.

Sekgogo, MP for Selebiphikwe which borders Zimbabwe, also blamed Mugabe's
government for triggering the exodus of Zimbabweans to Botswana due to its
political repression and economic mismanagement.

An irate Mangwana who together with his counterpart Chris Kuruneri and other
Zimbabweans working at the Brussels embassy had earlier tried to shout
Sekgogo down, is said to have taken issue with the speech and confronted
Sekgogo in full view of other delegates shouting at the top of his voice.

"You Batswana people are always harassing us. We will drive you all out of
Zimbabwe," he is alleged to have said while scowling and wagging a finger at
a stunned Sekgogo.

"You have been ill-treating our people for too long and now you say all this
rubbish about us."

MDC foreign affairs spokesman Moses Mzila Ndlovu, who was attending the
meeting, intervened to console Sekgogo. Mzila confirmed the incident in a
telephone interview from Bulawayo on Wednesday.

"I was right there and was just telling Mangwana to stop it but he told me
off," said Mzila who is MP for Bulilimamangwe North. "All Sekgogo had said
was the truth but Mangwana didn't want to hear the truth."

Mzila said Mangwana looked as if he was about to manhandle her had it not
been for other Botswana male delegates who pulled Sekgogo aside and shouted
at Mangwana in Setswana to leave her alone.

Sekgogo's office this week would neither confirm nor deny the incident.

Diplomats in Harare told the Zimbabwe Independent this week that the
Botswana government will formally complain to Harare over Mangwana's
remarks. Botswana's ambassador to Brussels, George Sesinyi, has already
complained to the EU and the ACP, sources say.
Back to the Top
Back to Index

Zim Independent

Airzim contracts SA engineers
Blessing Zulu
IN an attempt to avert threats to passenger safety, the beleaguered national
airline, Air Zimbabwe has hired 15 South Africans to bolster its depleted
pool of engineers and is paying them in foreign currency, the Zimbabwe
Independent has learnt.

Sources at the national carrier said the 15 were being paid hefty amounts in
foreign currency.

"The South Africans are reportedly being paid US$440 each per day and they
work for five days," said a source. "They are being accommodated at a local

Air Zimbabwe acting managing director Rambai Chingwena confirmed to the
Independent that the airline had hired the South Africans.

"Air Zimbabwe has indeed hired 15 engineers, not to bolster its manpower but
to carry out a specific 10-day assignment," said Chingwena.

"The assignment is to complete a major maintenance programme otherwise known
as a "C" check on the aircraft which was abandoned after it had been
dismantled by the engineers, most of whom we have now dismissed from
employment. This stripped aircraft was being used as a ransom by the
engineers to coerce and corner management into submitting to their
unaffordable salary demands. After the 10-day period or soon after
completion of this aircraft, the South African engineers will return to
base," he said.

Chingwena said 89 engineers had been dismissed from the airline on
disciplinary grounds.

"Cases are pending before the Ministry of Labour for the remaining 50," he

The striking engineers were served with letters firing them last week and
they have since taken up the matter with their lawyers at Gill, Godlonton &

Meanwhile, the visa requirement imposed by Britain on Zimbabweans wishing to
travel to that country has hit the national airline.

Passengers have had to be refunded millions of dollars due to cancellations.
But Chingwena said this was not unusual.

"We are reimbursing those passengers that did not succeed to secure visas in
terms of standing rules and we are doing so voluntarily as a matter of

"The reimbursement of passengers' payments are not restricted to people who
have been affected by visas alone. This happens all the time in our system.
It is also industry practice," he said.

Commenting on the effects of the visas on Air Zimbabwe's flights, the acting
MD said the impact was minimal.

"We are not alarmed by the reduction in passenger numbers due to the
introduction of visas. Our flights for December are very healthy. The
reduction in passenger numbers is approximately 20% and consists largely of
passengers whose applications for visas are still pending," Chingwena said.
Back to the Top
Back to Index

Zim Independent

Tough time for Zim asylum seekers
Loughty Dube
THOUSANDS of Zimbabweans fleeing President Mugabe's misrule and harsh
economic conditions at home are set to find their way to the United Kingdom
blocked after the British government last week moved to reduce the chances
of asylum seekers making successful claims in that country.

The British Home Secretary, David Blunkett, last Friday scrapped the
"exceptional leave to remain" (ELR) arrangement that allowed unsuccessful
asylum applicants to stay in Britain until their cases were heard.

The decision means that thousands of migrants, among them Zimbabweans,
Iraqis and Somalis, who were given the right to live temporarily in Britain
because of compelling grounds, could now be sent back home.

The British government announced that it would replace ELR with a new status
called "humanitarian protection" which the government said would be much
tighter and only apply to claimants who proved they could not safely return

The Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) Foreign Affairs spokesman, Moses
Mzila Ndlovu, said the MDC was concerned by the latest developments.

"The MDC is gravely concerned with developments in Britain over the
cancellation of ELR for asylum seekers and we will see victimised people
having nowhere to seek refuge," Ndlovu said.

"We hope the British will reverse this decision and allow victims of
political violence to stay, especially Zimbabweans."

The British Home Office said the move to annul ELR was prompted by sharp
increases in the number of people applying for asylum in the last three

The number of asylum applications made in the period from July to September
this year was 29 100.

In the first nine months of the year 62 480 asylum claims were made compared
to 53 660 for last year and the statistics suggest the total for 2002 will
be the highest on record.

The British Immigration minister, Beverly Hughes, said ELR was being abused.

"I believe that our use of ELR has encouraged abuse and acted as a pull
factor, encouraging economic migrants to apply for asylum in the UK in the
belief that they will be given ELR when their asylum claim is rejected,"
said Hughes.

Thousands of Zimbabweans who have left the country on political grounds are
among those on the list of people on ELR.

The British Home Office said there has been a surge in asylum applications
from Zimbabwe, Iraq, Afghanistan and Somalia.

Habib Rahman of the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants said the
decision by the British government was "shocking". Others agreed.

Leigh Daynes of Refugee Action said: "The abolition of ELR is deeply
disturbing. As global political events and human rights abuses continue to
uproot innocent people, the government must extend protection to those who
need it."

Back to the Top
Back to Index

Zim Independent

No takers for $60b Agribond
Augustine Mukaro/ Godfrey Marawanyika
GOVERNMENT'S last minute attempt to raise funds to kick-start the land
reform programme has suffered a serious setback as the recently-launched $60
billion Agribond has failed to fly due to no takers, the Zimbabwe
Independent has established.

Market analysts said investors developed cold feet in committing their money
to the much-touted Agribond because of its low retention incentive and
uncertainties surrounding the agricultural sector.

"The Syfrets Corporate and Merchant Bank-spearheaded Agribond is offering a
paltry 29% yield rate while other investments in the markets yield not less
than 45%, making investors snub it," one economist said.

"The $5 billion FSI Agricom private-placement bond floated almost at the
same time with the Agribond is offering 45% in returns and has so far
received a better response," he said.

The bond was floated in two forms, the short-term Agrobill worth $25 billion
and valid for up to 275 days, and the long-term Agribond worth $35 billion
whose tenure is three years with a 45% interest per annum, payable
semi-annually in arrears.

For the three-year Agribond, a capital redemption/sinking fund has to be put
in place by the issuer, of which 20% of the money lent to farmers has to be
repaid in the first year, 30% in the second year and the remaining 50% in
the third year.

For the 275 days Agrobill, there is a 29% discount per annum whose special
features include a tax exemption on the coupon.

"There is no forward movement in terms of the bond issues because when
government decided to finally float the bond investors had already taken a
position to snub it," the economist said.

"This was made worse by the confusion caused by the monetary policy
announced two weeks ago. We have never seen such a monetary policy over the
years and no-one really knows what is happening."

The failure to attract the much-needed investors to finance the land reform
exercise, despite banks initially agreeing in principle to assist, has been
caused by financial institutions' reluctance to participate due to the risk
associated with the scheme.

Analysts said government had tried to bulldoze its economy-damaging policies
past financial institutions but the cracks emerging on the bonds flotation
indicated the land reform programme was poised to fail if no outside capital
injection was secured.

"Banks made their position very clear from the outset and there is no way
loans will be availed to applicants for as long as there is no collateral,"
an analyst said.
Back to the Top
Back to Index

Zim Independent

Business CEOs urge govt to reverse damaging policies
Dumisani Muleya
EMBATTLED company executives are frantically trying to persuade government
to reverse its latest damaging economic measures which are threatening to
finish off Zimbabwe's already prostrate economy.

Companies, which are reeling in a hostile business environment, said last
week they were worried about the consequences of Finance minister Herbert
Murerwa's ineffective budget and crippling monetary policy.

Issues haunting business include the rigid foreign currency control system,
price controls and interest rates.

Zimbabwe National Chamber of Commerce economist James Jowa said the new
foreign currency policy was "too stringent and would further hurt

Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries (CZI) president Anthony Mandiwanza said
his organisation was already talking to government over the policy issues.

"We are in the process of discussing with government to find the best way
forward," he said.

Other business organisations concerned about the damaging policies include
the Chamber of Mines, Export Flower Growers Association, Export Leaf Tobacco
Zimbabwe and the Horticultural Promotion Council.

Export Leaf Tobacco company secretary Simukai Manjanganja said: "We are
still seeking clarification on the whole issue and assessing how exactly it
will impact on us."

Stockbrokers said the budget and monetary policy were wreaking havoc on the
Zimbabwe Stock Exchange (ZSE).

Analysts said on top of the general budget fiasco, the market was rudely
shocked by the tightening of foreign exchange controls.

A market storm over the effect of the government's dual interest rates
policy introduced recently to shore up the sinking economy also worsened

The government suspended its 57,2% bank rate and introduced different rates:
one for exporters and the "productive" sector and another for importers and
ordinary borrowers.

A $25 billion revolving fund was established for exporters, who could borrow
at 5%, and "productive" companies, which could borrow at 15%. But exporters
said the 5% interest rate was meaningless because the government would still
seize most of their proceeds for 60 days, after which it would decide
whether or not to pay them on the basis of a priority list and official

Importers and ordinary borrowers could access loans at about 40%.

Analysts said there was no justification for the ad hoc policy, which they
feared would create a parallel market for local money in addition to the
ballooning foreign currency black market.

The market haemorrhaging started in earnest after the November 14 budget was
announced. The day after the budget, the ZSE's industrials index shed 6
238,08 points or 4,84% to land at 122 698,38 points. In the days before the
budget announcement both the industrials and mining indices had reached
record highs of 130 899,59 and 11 181,20 respectively.
Back to the Top
Back to Index

Zim Independent

MDC to challenge GMB's monopoly on imports
Taurai Dzengerere
THE Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) will legally challenge the Grain
Marketing Board (GMB)'s monopoly on cereals marketing, importation and
distribution unless the party is issued with a licence to import grain, the
Zimbabwe Independent has been told.

MDC Agriculture spokesman Renson Ga-sela in an interview last week said the
MDC had applied for a permit to import about 100 000 tonnes of maize for
free distribution to starving people throughout the country, but the GMB has
not responded.

"If they remain quiet we are going to take them to court," said Gasela.

He said the MDC had made several attempts to import food but had been
blocked by the government.

He said as the food crisis deepened, the government was importing food using
taxpayers' funds but was distributing it on party lines.

"Zanu PF continues to politicise distribution of food along party lines in
such areas as Insiza, Binga, Muzarabani and in urban areas as well, where
only Zanu PF card holders are allowed to buy mealie-meal," he said.

"Surely MDC supporters and other Zimbabweans who are not necessarily Zanu PF
members cannot be left to starve because of political convictions which the
regime has used to keep a grip on its dwindling support base."

He said the MDC had to date imported 132 tonnes of maize from South Africa
under the Feed Zimbabwe Trust, but the maize was still impounded at
Beitbridge while millions starved.

GMB's monopoly was also challenged in court two weeks ago by Frontline
Marketing (Pvt) Ltd, which is seeking a court order to rescind the
parastatal's monopoly which it says infringes on other companies' right to
associate with clients of their choice in commercial trade.

The company has a permit to import maize and wheat but has not been able to
do so because of a statutory instrument that gives the GMB a monopoly to
import and trade in grain.

Back to the Top
Back to Index

Zim Independent

Zanu PF firms hold Harare hostage
Augustine Mukaro
TOP Zanu PF functionaries are milking the Harare City Council of billions of
dollars a month under a "jobs for the boys" arrangement initiated by the
Solomon Tawengwa-led council and the Elijah Chanakira Commission, it has

In virtually all strategic services which support the day-to-day running of
the city, Zanu PF officials and their relatives have established a
choke-hold on the local authority by positioning themselves as key
providers, often failing to deliver where it mattered most.

Contracts awarded to Zanu PF-linked functionaries include the supply of
water treatment chemicals, refuse collection, road repair materials, drugs
and vehicle and equipment procurement.

Highdon Investments, registered in the name of Debrah and Define Chapfika,
was recently contracted to supply hydrated lime and carbon for water
treatment. Highdon was paid US$140 000 in September to supply 1 000 tonnes
of lime but has since failed to fully deliver, leading to the looming
clean-water shortage. Highdon's managing director is Macdonald Chapfika,
brother of MP David Chapfika.

City of Harare department of works director, Vusimuzi Sithole, told the
Independent that Highdon had delivered less than half of the chemicals it
had been paid for.

"The mayor has written an urgent letter to the Reserve Bank because the
water treatment chemicals situation has become critical," Sithole said.

David Chapfika is the Zanu PF MP for Mutoko North and former director of the
financially-mismanaged Unibank, which is now under new ownership.

He is also the chairman of parliament's finance committee.

The upgrading of the water purification plant at Morton Jaffrey Waterworks
in Norton was awarded to Leo Mugabe's company, Integrated Engineering Group.

The company has failed to adhere to the contract terms, leaving millions of
dollars worth of equipment lying idle since 1995.

Zanu PF's top brass also controls the critical refuse collection in Harare.

Three contracted companies,Encore Consolidated, Broadway, and Environment
Cleansing, control refuse collection.

Joel Biggie Matiza, the Zanu PF MP for Murehwa South, owns Encore
Consolidated while Tony Gara, former Zanu PF Harare province chairman and
losing candidate in Mbare East constituency, owns Broadway.

Another refuse collection company, Waste Management Services, had their
contract terminated by the Chanakira commission in 1999. They claim they
were disqualified for not having sufficiently close links to the ruling

City treasury sources said council pays over a billion dollars for refuse
collection every month.

The sources said there were suspicions that some of the contracted companies
were thwarting council efforts to obtain the basic essentials in a move to
tarnish the MDC-run council's reputation with residents in the capital.

"Contracted companies could be holding the council to ransom and
deliberately sabotaging the new council," sources said.

Department of Health assistant chief environmental health officer, John
Kandwe, said there was a lot of room for the service providers to improve.

Executive Mayor Elias Mudzuri said he was in no position to comment on the
issue as he was attending a series of meetings.
Back to the Top
Back to Index

Food Prices Shoot Up 100%

Financial Gazette (Harare)

November 28, 2002
Posted to the web December 6, 2002

Staff Reporter

PRICES of basic commodities have shot up by between 50 and 100 percent since
the government imposed a blanket freeze two weeks ago on prices of all
goods, a sign, analysts say, that the Soviet-style clampdown will adversely
affect the consumers it is supposed to protect.

A snap survey conducted this week by the Financial Gazette in Harare's
retail outlets showed that the cost of commodities had continued to
skyrocket after the state decreed that no manufacturer or retailer was
allowed to hike prices.

Basic foodstuffs and other household essentials such as laundry and bath
soaps, most of which are in short supply on the market, recorded the biggest
leaps in prices.

A 25-litre gallon of cooking oil, which only last week was selling for less
than $15 000, had shot up to between $25 000 and $34 000 this week, while
the price of a standard bath soap tablet jumped to more than $600 from $300
in the same period.

The cost of domestic appliances such as stoves, refrigerators, television
sets, video recorders and radios, most of them imported, also went up by an
average of more than 50 percent in the past week.

However, commodities such as sugar, cement, seed and fertilisers, which were
already scarce on the market before the price freeze, began slowly
disappearing from shop shelves after the price clampdown.

Shoppers interviewed in Harare told this newspaper they had planned to take
advantage of the price freeze to stock up on groceries for the Christmas
holidays but were shocked to see prices continuing to skyrocket.

Margaret Karedza, a mother of two from Harare's Southerton suburb said: "We
wonder why the government even bothers to introduce the price freeze when
the next thing you find is prices have doubled."

Industry and International Trade Minister Samuel Mumbengegwi, who is in
charge of price controls, could not be reached yesterday for comment on the

But analysts said the price freeze was unworkable and that the government
should address rising costs of production if it wanted to halt spiralling of

Economist Witness Chinyama said: "The government should address the
production costs first before it introduces the controls, which so far have
not been successful."

He noted that the government did not have the physical capacity to enforce
the price controls.

An economist with a Harare commercial bank said: "Price controls have never
worked anywhere in the world and it is clear they will not work in

Finance Minister Herbert Murerwa admitted when he presented the 2003
national budget two weeks ago that controls imposed last year on prices of
basic foods had failed because they targeted the final product without
taking into account the entire production process.

The minister also admitted that the controls had adversely affected
consumers, who they were supposed to protect. However, the government went
on to announce the blanket price freeze on all commodities a few days later.
Back to the Top
Back to Index

From the archives.................

Don't Forget Mugabe's History
The Mail & Guardian (Johannesburg)
April 7, 2000
By David Moore

Johannesburg - One of the things that makes the tragic events to South
Africa's north almost farcical is the historical amnesia of many of
the commentators.

How could the promoters of an "African renaissance" (is Andrew Young,
former mayor of Atlanta, really one of them?) have ever held Robert
Mugabe up as an example to us all? How could they forget the
Matabeleland massacres so shortly after his taking of the Zimbabwean
throne? And well before that, how could they overlook the way he
treated dissent during the liberation war?

The truth is that Mugabe has acted similarly in the past when his back
has been against the wall. He and his immediate allies have made
coalitions with many different groups - both inside and outside
Zimbabwe - to grab and hang on to the nationalist mettle. These
coalitions have sometimes included veterans and international powers -
including Britain and the United States. Mugabe has turned against the
soldiers who brought him to power more than once in the past.
Similarly, he has marshalled the British to his cause when he has had
the need.

In the wake of the Portuguese coup which accelerated Angola's
independence, Guinea- Bissau and Mozambique, Tiny Rowland, Kenneth
Kaunda and John Vorster decided that it was time to bring Zimbabwean
nationalists into the fold of moderation. To that end, a few
Zimbabwean nationalists were released from Ian Smith's gaols for
discussions in Lusaka. The presidents of the frontline states,
including Samora Machel, were confronted with the fact that Mugabe and
a few of his cell mates had deposed Ndabaningi Sithole from his Zanu
presidency. Machel responded: "What, you've done a coup in prison?!"

In the months following that prison coup a number of "rebels" were
killed by Zanu's militariat, and national chair Herbert Chitepo was
assassinated. Opinion in Zimbabwe is still divided over who was
responsible for his death -Rhodesian agents or opponents within the
liberation movement?

In the wake of the internecine struggles inspired by this "revolution
from above" the Zambian state declared Zanu illegal and incarcerated
those of its soldiers within its borders. This left a small, very
young, very radical and very well-trained group of officers with the
task of reigniting the war from bases in Mozambique and Tanzania. They
did so in short order.

Along the way they made a credible attempt to implement Julius
Nyerere's desire to unify Zanu and Zapu armed forces, as well as
starting up a college devoted to materialist analysis of the
shortcomings of nationalism as they were experiencing it. They
succeeded to such an extent that the West soon arranged for the
infamous Geneva Conference of October 1976. There, the leaders of the
"free world" could find out who they could deal with among the many
pretenders to the mantle of Zimbabwean nationalism.

In the meantime, Mugabe and colleagues such as Edgar Tekere were
cooling their heals under house arrest in Quelimane. The new young
leaders of the war were admitting him to their camps - against the
wishes of the Mozambicans - because they had been so badly betrayed by
Sithole. Mugabe was the only one in the "old guard" they could trust
to some degree - or so they thought. He took this grace as the signal
that he was their man. When he visited London he announced to the
world that he was with the guerrillas.

When the call for the Geneva conference was issued, the young soldiers
were told by the frontline presidents to "pick a leader". They
refused, advising instead the formation of a coalition that could not
be torn asunder by Smith. Such a united front would have even included
"puppets" like Bishop Abel Muzorewa and Sithole, because they did not
see much difference between them and Mugabe, the leader who appeared
to be speaking in their name. Their stance was essentially that of the
national democratic revolution: if a decent victory could have been
scored at Geneva, they would have been glad to return to Zimbabwe and
fight a clean democratic election on behalf of the people. Deprived of
their chance for a united front, they refused to go until forced.

Mugabe never forgave them. Within months they were in Mozambique's
prisons, wherein they stayed until the 1980 elections. It is possible
they could have challenged Mugabe's hold on the soldiers in the
Mozambican camps, but the first generation of guerrillas - in control
of most of the security apparatus - was probably against them. Also,
had they followed popular pressure in the camps the Mozambican army
may well have intervened: for reasons that he may well have later
regretted but followed him to his grave, Machel had turned against the
young Turks.

Smith did manage to pull the slacker nationalists into his desperate
prognostications, thus prolonging the war by more than three years.
Halfway through 1977 Mugabe consolidated his leadership at the first
party congress since 1964 with a declaration that the Zanu axe would
fall on the heads of people with critical tendencies. The young
soldiers' efforts at bottom-up Zanu- Zapu unity was maintained only at
a tactical, very fragile, political level, under the "Patriotic
Front's" thin banner. The Matabeleland massacres show how deep that
unity was.

It is doubtful that the land invaders up north represent all the "war
veterans". They resemble the anti-democratic and anti-intellectual
allies Mugabe's supporters recruited in the mid-1970s. Since then the
soldiers have never been, and almost certainly are not now, unified in
their uncritical support for a leader who has gone way beyond his

Furthermore, it as just as likely now as then that a good proportion
of these ex- soldiers would support the broadest range of allies as
the "national democratic revolution" so badly skewed by Mugabe would
allow. Given that the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC)is a part of
that process, it had better make some careful alliances with the
soldiers in and out of uniform.

Moreover, if one remembers Mugabe's 1975 trip to England, one should
not rule out a deal with the old colonial masters. They have always
preferred a firm hand they can count on to unruly democracy, and it is
likely that even now Mugabe is more reliable to the old colonial hands
than the MDC -especially if he can claim to have old and new soldiers
on his side. After all, if the MDC did win the election and hold a
commission for truth and justice, it would not only be Mugabe's past
that would be on open display.

David Moore is a professor in the department of economic history and
development studies at the University of Natal
Back to the Top
Back to Index