Church leaders attack ZANU PF Mon 14 February 2005
HARARE - Zimbabwe is an oppressed nation with everyone living in fear, the
country's church leaders said yesterday.
interdenominational national prayer meeting for a peaceful election in March
to castigate the government's increasingly repressive rule, the clergymen
called on Zimbabweans to overcome their fear and use next month's election
to "kick out evil (from power) and replace it with peace and
Roman Catholic Church bishop Patrick Mutume
told the national prayer meeting held in Harare: "We are at fault because we
put evil people into power. Why are we rewarding evil? Election time is not
for rewarding evil.
"Why do we allow those we give power to in turn
use that power to suppress us? It means we are failing because if we were
enlightened, we would not be in our current situation. Why can't we vote for
justice if we are enlightened as a nation?"
Mutume lamented how
the country had fallen from beinga beacon of hope at independence in 1980 to
a cowed nation without the freedom, justice or peace that thousands of
Zimbabweans died fighting for during the country's bitter 1970s war of
He said: "We thought by finishing the struggle for
independence we will get peace. But then why are we still praying for peace
"If we had the chance to ask our fallen heroes whether
this is the Zimbabwe they fought for, they will say no, because they fought
for peace, freedom and justice. But Zimbabweans everywhere are living in
fear because they are threatened and intimidated into submission. We are yet
to enjoy the gains of liberation."
Methodist Church in Zimbabwe
bishop Cephas Mukandi reminded ruling ZANU PF party parliamentarians and
members of its inner politburo cabinet of their Christian upbringing and
appealed to them to accept the opposition.
The country would remain
an international outcast if the March ballot was marred by violence and
murder as was the case with previous elections in 2000 and 2002, Mukandi
He said: "The majority of our MPs (Members of Parliament),
Cabinet ministers and politburo members of the ruling party claim to be
Christian. But then if that is the case, then who is involved in beating up
people and the destruction of property and life?
"It would be
foolhardy for any politician to think that the whole country could belong to
one political party."
Ruling ZANU PF militants, government security
agents, and self-styled veterans of the independence war have unleashed
violence and murder against opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC)
party supporters in previous elections.
None of the culprits
have to date been imprisoned for the crimes.
Violence has remained
relatively low this time round but political analysts say it will pick up
once the MDC launches its campaign for the March poll. President Robert
Mugabe launched the ZANU PF campaign last Friday. - ZimOnline
53 women 'love' protesters arrested Mon 14 February
2005 BULAWAYO - Armed police at the weekend arrested 53 members of the
Women of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA) group marking Valentines' Day through public
protests against the government for depriving Zimbabweans of love and
freedom through its failed economic policies.
About a quarter
of the women were released yesterday but the rest are expected to appear in
court today on charges of holding a public demonstration without police
Under the government's Public Order and Security Act,
Zimbabweans must seek police permission first before holding public meetings
The WOZA demonstrations held under the
theme, "The Power of Love can conquer the Love of Power" were attended by
about 500 women waving placards criticising the government's economic and
political decisions for "bringing misery to hundreds of
A WOZA official, Lucky Fengu, told ZimOnline:
"Valentine's Day is a day when families the world over should be
commemorating love, but what we are witnessing in Zimbabwe is different
because there is no more such love.
"Our husbands can no longer
fend for us because there are no more jobs, our children can no longer go to
school because we cannot raise the school fees. All this has brought about
some friction within families and we are saying the government has caused
In a bid to break up the protests, police ended picking
up any woman wearing the Valentine red and white colours including others
who were not part of the demonstration.
Fengu said that WOZA
was going ahead with planned protests in Harare today despite the arresting
of some of its members at the weekend. - ZimOnline
Mugabe drags his feet over SADC inspection Mon 14 February
2005 HARARE - President Robert Mugabe is refusing to sanction a
high-powered Southern African Development Community (SADC) delegation which
wants to assess whether conditions in the country comply with regional
guidelines for democratic elections.
Zimbabwe is reluctant to
allow a team of lawyers from the SADC organ on politics, defence and
security to inspect electoral conditions in line with the regional bloc's
agreed standards and norms for elections.
The SADC team is still
battling to secure an invitation from Harare, with less than two months
before the crucial election.
Last month, Mugabe snubbed SADC
leaders who wanted to assess whether conditions for a free and fair election
existed in the country ahead of the March election where Mugabe's ruling
ZANU PF party will square off against the main opposition Movement for
Democratic Change (MDC) party.
The SADC team led by South Africa's
Thabo Mbeki, were scheduled to visit Zimbabwe last month to meet ZANU PF,
the MDC, other opposition parties and civic groups ahead of the election.
Mugabe refused to sanction the visit.
The main opposition
Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party, which had threatened to boycott
the election saying conditions in Zimbabwe did not conform with SADC
standards governing elections, says it will take part in the election under
The MDC says the new electoral commission appointed last
month to run elections in Zimbabwe is not sufficiently independent to run a
credible poll. - ZimOnline
Zimbabwe's inflation rate for year
accelerates February 14, 2005
Johannesburg - Zimbabwe's
annual inflation rate accelerated for the first time in almost a year after
the country's currency declined against the US dollar, the government said
Year-on-year inflation was 133.6 percent in January,
from 132.7 percent in December, the Central Statistical Office
Inflation had slowed for the previous 11 months, declining
from a record 622 percent in January 2004. Central bank governor Gideon Gono
forecasts inflation will be below 10 percent by 2006.
Zimbabwean dollar declined 30 percent in the 12 months to January as the
economy contracted for a sixth year because of drought and President Robert
Mugabe's seizure of commercial farms, among them growers of tobacco, the
nation's biggest export.
"The easy part of bringing inflation
down is now behind us," said Robert Bunyi, an economist at Standard Bank.
"The under-lying inflationary pressures have not been
The currency declined to Z$6 047.43 per US dollar at a
central bank auction last week. Traders on the parallel market said the
currency fell as low as Z$11 500 per US dollar last week.
Zimbabwe's economy shrank by 4.5 percent in 2004, after contracting 8.5
percent in 2003 and 13 percent in 2002.
Gono forecasts that it will
expand between 3 percent and 5 percent this year as mining and agriculture
'ZCFU, State to help with crop reaping, curing
THE Zimbabwe Commercial Farmers' Union (ZCFU) says it is working
with the Government to equip new farmers with skills to reap and cure their
crop so as to avoid losses during the marketing season.
New Ziana after addressing tobacco farmers during a field day at Liester
Farm in Goromonzi, Mashonaland East, ZCFU president Mr Davison Mugabe said
his organisation was working with the Agricultural Research and Extension
Services (Arex) and other Government organisations to train tobacco farmers
on how to maximise on foreign currency earnings
"Reaping and curing of
tobacco is vital and the process needs to be done professionally. We
therefore need to educate tobacco farmers in all provinces, especially in
this time of reaping and curing when farmers usually lose a lot of money,"
Mr Mugabe said that the move to educate farmers came in the wake
of losses incurred by farmers over the past few years.
He said the
ZCFU had so far secured more than 1 000 tonnes of coal, to be sold at a
concessionary prices to farmers to cut down on deforestation.
Government has resettled more than 155 000 families under its land reform
programme which it embarked on in 2000 to resettle landless people.
exercise has seen the entry of new players into the tobacco industry, most
with little experience in the production of the crop, one of the country's
major foreign currency earners.
Despite a significant decline in
production over the years, Zimbabwe's tobacco remains in demand because of
its unparalleled quality.
Production has dropped from a peak of 237
million kg in 2000 to 68 million kg last year owing to a number of factors
that include recurrent droughts, lack of experience, shortage of inputs and
The crop's exports last year amounted to US$137 million.
- New Ziana.
SADC should go to Zim soon - Mbeki Posted Mon, 14 Feb
The Southern African Development Community (SADC) observers should
go to Zimbabwe soon to assist that country and to ensure that a proper
climate is created for next month's elections, President Thabo Mbeki said on
"I think we should send SADC as soon as it is possible - to go
there and observe, to be able to intervene, to help, to create a situation
for fair elections," he said in an interview on SABC.
government has failed to give the necessary written invitation to the SADC
delegation, which consists of lawyers from South Africa, Namibia and
Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe is apparently scared that the
team would find conditions that did not comply with the SADC guidelines for
free and fair elections.
SADC won't be intimidated
said, following a discussion he had with Mugabe, he was sure that a SADC
delegation would not face any obstacle or fall victim to intimidation when
going to Zimbabwe.
When asked about access to rights like broadcasting by
the contesting parties, Mbeki said Mugabe had promised that all parties
would have fair access to those.
"The Zim government has indeed
agreed that they (the political parties) will have access because it is
included as a guideline of SADC, but we also have to work with the Zimbabwe
"This is because of this reason that SADC should go there
because if there is no access (to all the rights), they should ask why there
is no access for other parties."
He said there has been continuous
discussion with both the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) and
the ruling Zanu-PF party.
The Zimbabwean ambassador to South Africa,
Simon Moyo, has failed to respond to requests from the DA to arrange
meetings in Zimbabwe with President Robert Mugabe and others for a proposed
DA delegation to that country.
DA Africa spokesman Joe Seremane said on
Sunday that government spokesman George Charamba had also not replied to DA
"In addition, the South African foreign minister, Nkosazana
Dlamini-Zuma, was requested more than a week ago to arrange the necessary
interviews for the DA representatives, but this has been met with no
response," said Seremane.
"It needs to be understood that most
informed observers around the world regard a free and fair election in
Zimbabwe at this stage as rather unlikely.
"The ball is in President
Mugabe's court. If he and his government have nothing to hide, they ought to
welcome parliamentarians from South Africa on a fact finding
"If the Zimbabwean government refuses to receive us, it will be
clear that they have something to hide, and that a fact-finding mission to
Zimbabwe would be a waste of time."
In his most recent tirade against
Western leaders, Mugabe on Friday criticised US Secretary of State
Condoleezza Rice, saying she was a "slave" to white masters in
AFP reported that Mugabe referred to Rice as "that girl born
out of the slave ancestry, who should know from the history of slavery in
America, from the present situation of blacks in America that the white man
is not a friend.
ZANU PF is trying
to put on a brave face, but they are not fooling anyone. The party has never
been as jittery before an election as it is now.
A jittery Zanu
PF is dangerous just before an election. The party leaders must know that
this nervousness could explode into violence, either among its own members
or against what they may perceive as their usual suspects, the opposition
Zanu PF's nervousness is evident in the waspish language
used to denounce its critics, particularly the South Africans trade
unionists and the clergy. It is true that the party has never been generous
in its comments on either the Congress of South African Trade Unions or the
former Anglican Archbishop of Cape Town, Desmond Tutu.
there has been a particularly vicious streak in their denunciation of the
two recently. It is as if not reacting at all might be construed as
acceptance of the criticism, or guilt.
Neither Cosatu nor
Tutu have said anything they have not said before. It is just that there is
an election in the offing and many fence-sitters among the voters might be
persuaded to believe that Zanu PF is indeed not a very nice party to return
The truth must be that, even without the constant
sniping of the two, now joined by the SA opposition party led by Tony Leon,
many Zimbabweans are already wondering if it is not time for a
Zanu PF's difficulties with drafting a manifesto may
indeed be due to logistical problems, but it is more likely to be caused by
a simple conundrum: what to offer the voters?
is a dead issue. The economic turnaround promised under the Gono programme
is not being translated into more disposable incomes for the workers or more
food on the tables of most families.
The promise to whip Tony
Blair may sound beautiful on paper, but to translate it into something which
the voter can grasp as making a tangible difference to their livelihood is
not going to be easy. Not even for Elliot Manyika, whose dubious talent for
composing revolutionary songs has not, so far, given him the capacity for
scintillating public relations repartee.
Zanu PF may be at its
most vulnerable now but the ability of the MDC to profit from this is by no
means guaranteed. Zanu PF may be dangerous but the threat could be to its
own survival, rather than to a well-organised opposition party aware of how
this could be its defining moment, its greatest hour even.