The ZIMBABWE Situation
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New banknote for Zimbabwe

Sunday Times, SA

Wednesday February 01, 2006 14:48 - (SA)

HARARE - Zimbabwe's central bank has introduced a new 50,000-dollar banknote
equivalent after it conceded that runaway inflation would soon shoot up to a
record 800%.

The new purple denomination with a picture o the world-famous Victoria
Falls, worth around 50 US cents or 40 euro cents, is the latest addition to
a series introduced three years ago with a set validity period to ease
critical cash shortages across the country.

"We have begun to use the new bearer cheque from today," Reserve Bank
spokesman Kumbirai Nhongo said.

"It's not a new currency as such but a higher currency in the bearer cheque
range which we are introducing as a temporary measure as we prepare to
introduce a new currency later this year."

Zimbabwe is in the throes of economic crisis characterised by three-digit
inflation, soaring poverty levels, an unemployment rate hovering at over 70%
and chronic shortages of fuel and basic goods like cornmeal.

Central bank governor Gideon Gono has warned that annualised inflation could
peak at 800% in March and later recede to below 500% in June before reaching
double-digits in 2007, if there are bountiful rains leading to a good

At the country's independence from British colonial rule in 1980, when the
local dollar was roughly at parity with the pound sterling, Zimbabweans used
cents, one dollar coins and bank notes in four denominations.

However, due to inflation, the Zimbabwe government introduced four new
denominations from 2001 while coins were phased out as the value of the
Zimdollar continued to depreciate against major currencies.

Between May and September 2003 the country experienced critical cash
shortages which prompted the reserve bank to issue three new denominations -
called bearer cheques - the highest of which was for 20,000 Zimbabwean

The new 50,000-dollar banknote is valid until December.


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Our New note!

Sent: Thursday, February 02, 2006 2:54 AM
Subject: Our New note!

Dear all
Welcome to the new fifty thousand dollar note, front and back, in glorious full colour!  On its back is depicted the mighty Victoria Falls, the water plunging over the precipice into the gorge below!  Have a long look by scrolling down at your leisure and at the bottom you will be told what it will buy.
This wonderful new denomination  buys precisely 3.6 eggs!
Or 4 candles to fight the power-cuts!

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Zimbabwe angrily rejects Bush's remarks

Zim Online

Thu 2 February 2006

      HARARE - The Zimbabwe government sounded defiant yesterday after being
listed by United States (US) President George W Bush among governments
oppressing their people, with State Security Minister Didymus Mutasa
labelling the US president a bully and a warmonger.

      In his annual State of the Union address delivered on Tuesday, Bush
cited Zimbabwe among five countries that denied their people freedom and
said the demands of justice and world peace required that the US and the
rest of the free world not forget the plight of those living under

      The other countries that Bush said did not have democracy are Syria,
Burma, North Korea, and Iran.

      "At the start of 2006, more than half the people of our world live in
democratic nations. And we do not forget the other half - in places like
Syria, Burma, Zimbabwe, North Korea, and Iran - because the demands of
justice, and the peace of this world, require their freedom as well," the
world's most powerful President said.

      But Mutasa, one of the most powerful and closest confidantes of
Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe, said Harare was unmoved by Bush's
comments and accused the US leader of behaving like a bully.

      Mutasa said: "We should not and cannot allow warmongers like Bush to
tarnish the image of paragons of peace and democracy like President Mugabe.
We are not moved by his statements. If anything, we are proud that we are
not an ally of the neo-colonialist Bush, whom I can only describe as a

      The Harare government opposed Bush's war against terror and often
tries to portray itself as a victim of the US the same way Saddam Hussein's
Baghdad administration was victimised over weapons of mass destruction which
turned out it did not have.

      On the other hand, Washington has strongly criticised Mugabe and his
ruling ZANU PF party for their failure to uphold the rule of law, human
rights and democracy.

      The US has led Western nations in imposing travel and economic
sanctions against Mugabe and his top officials as punishment for their poor
human rights record. Washington has also cut all non-humanitarian aid to
Harare. - ZimOnline

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Newspaper bows to pressure to secure registration of journalists

Zim Online

Thu 2 February 2006

      HARARE - The Zimbabwe government's Media and Information Commission
(MIC) has finally agreed to accredit journalists at one of the country's few
remaining independent publications after arm-twisting the paper into
agreeing to retract a story it ran last year.

      The MIC on Tuesday began accrediting journalists at the Zimbabwe
Independent following an undertaking by the paper to publish the retraction
in its edition this week.

      The paper last year published a story on the resignation of MIC
commissioner Jonathan Maphenduka, who fell out with MIC chairman Tafataona
Mahoso over his alleged refusal to grant a banned daily its operating

      Mahoso claims Maphenduka did not resign as per procedure because he
had not handed in his resignation letter to the Information Minister, who
appoints the commission.

      The MIC last Friday put the accreditation of the Zimbabwe Independent
journalists on hold, demanding that the paper retract the story first.
However, the MIC had accredited journalists at the paper's sister
publication, the Standard.

      Raphael Khumalo, chief executive of ZimInd Publishers that publishes
the Zimbabwe Independent, who last week confirmed that the MIC had put
accreditation of the paper's journalists on hold was not available for
comment on the latest development.

      Under Zimbabwe's tough Access to Information and Protection of Privacy
Act, all journalists must be accredited by the government-appointed
commission for them to practise. Media houses also have to obtain licences
from the MIC for them to operate. The accreditation is renewable every year,
while the publishing licences are for two years.

      "Most of us have been accredited now, while those who were away will
certainly be registered by the MIC," a senior reporter at the paper said.
"We understand the truce came about after our editor agreed to publish the

      The Independent will publish the retraction on its inside pages,
according to the reporter.

      In December, Mahoso had threatened to withdraw the licence of the
Financial Gazette after the paper had refused to retract a story it had
published. The paper however published the retraction a fortnight ago.

      The MIC has closed down four newspapers in three years, including the
Daily News, the country's biggest independent daily at the time of its
closure in September 2003. - ZimOnline

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"Give us this day our daily bread" takes on new meaning

Zim Online

Thu 2 February 2006

      BULAWAYO - Tucked in her small one roomed apartment in the poor and
sprawling suburb of Makokoba in Bulawayo, a visibly exasperated Mercy Moyo
dips two slices of bread into some thin vegetable soup which she takes with
black tea.

      Moyo's two little children, Thabani and Thembi, who are sitting
cross-legged on a small mat on the floor, are also busy shoving some bread
down their little throats.

      For Moyo and her family, it has been weeks since they last had a
formal meal - a plate of sadza (a thick maize-meal porridge) taken with
vegetable or beef stew - and the main staple for over 90 percent of

      "Things are not well here, we have not managed to buy any maize-meal
in the last three weeks. Sometimes the  maize-meal is available on the
parallel market but is too expensive for us" says Moyo, throwing her hands
in the air in desperation.

      For the past three weeks, Moyo like most other residents in Makokoba,
has been forced to survive on poor quality  bread and sweet potatoes due to
the serious shortage of maize-meal in the city.

      "The sweet potatoes are readily available. We sometimes eat sweet
potatoes during lunch and dinner but now my two daughters are beginning to
show signs of kwashiorkor. It is not healthy to eat the same food every day
for three consecutive weeks," says Moyo.

      Zimbabwe, once a net food exporter, has virtually survived on food
handouts from international donors over the last six years after President
Robert Mugabe destroyed the key agricultural sector through his often
violent farm seizures from  the minority whites for redistribution to
landless blacks.

      The disruptions on farming operations caused by the land reforms saw
food production tumbling by about 60 percent, leaving the country dependent
on aid. Food aid agencies say at least four million Zimbabweans, a quarter
of the country's 12 million people, are in urgent need of food aid between
now and the next harvest in April or they would  starve.

      But the food crisis is hitting hardest the poor families here in
Bulawayo and the surrounding Matabeleland provinces, traditionally a drier
region and prone to hunger.

      For example, Bulawayo Executive Mayor Japhet Ndabeni Ncube last year
said several people had died in the city due to malnutrition-related
illnesses. But the government was quick to refute Ndabeni-Ncube's figures
although the mayor was quoting records compiled by the state's own deaths
and births registry office.

      Residents here in Bulawayo however say it matters little as to who
between their mayor and the government was telling the truth about the
number of people who may have died of hunger-related illnesses.

      After two months without any maize-meal in the shops most residents
interviewed by ZimOnline said their biggest fear was that Bulawayo may soon
witness its first death directly caused by hunger, especially among
marginalised groups such as orphans and the elderly.

      "Many people cannot afford the mealie-meal that is being sold on the
black market because it is very expensive. A 10kg bag is selling for over
$800 000 and that is too expensive," another Bulawayo resident, Norman
Khumalo said, summing up the plight of most people in the sprawling city.

      Khumalo said he had witnessed many of his neighbours sending their
kids to bed without having eaten anything for supper because they could not
afford to buy mealie-meal on the black-market or bread.

      But the kids at may have to go to bed on empty stomachs for a little
longer thanks to incessant rains that according to the National Millers
Association (NMA) were making it difficult to transport enough maize imports
from South Africa to Bulawayo.

      NMA chairperson Thembinkosi Ndlovu said the association even had to
throw away sizable quantities of maize after they discovered that it had
gone bad due to poor weather.

      "The weather is quite bad and some maize that was brought into the
country was found to be rotten after it was exposed to rain and seven wagons
of maize had to be thrown away. This is the reason why we are having a
shortfall,"  Ndlovu said.

      Ndlovu did not say when exactly the next supplies of maize were
expected in the city.

      And that according to another Bulawayo resident, Simon Siziba, may
mean "we simply have to take Mugabe's advice  and change from eating sadza
to become potato and rice eaters forever."

      He was referring to comments by Mugabe on the sidelines of the United
Nations Summit in New York last year when he flatly denied that Zimbabwe was
facing food shortages saying there were lots of potatoes and rice in the

      Mugabe said the only problem was that Zimbabweans did not fancy rice
or potatoes, a comment which critics said was the ultimate proof that the
veteran President was completely out of touch with the plight of ordinary
people like Siziba and his starving fellow residents in Bulawayo. -

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Civic group accuses government of denying food aid to its members

Zim Online

Thu 2 February 2006

      MASVINGO - Zimbabwe's National Constitutional Assembly (NCA) civic
alliance says the government is denying food aid and agricultural inputs to
its members in the southern Masvingo province as punishment for backing the

      The NCA, which brings together churches, opposition political parties,
women's groups, civic rights organisations, students and labour movements,
campaigns for a new and democratic constitution for Zimbabwe that among
other things should clip President Robert Mugabe's wide-ranging powers.

      NCA chairman for Masvingo Ray Muzenda yesterday told ZimOnline: "We
tried our level best to access maize meal,  fertilizers and maize seeds
without success. At times our members are openly told that they will never
be assisted by the government because of the bad relations between the NCA
and the government."

      But Masvingo provincial governor Willard Chiwewe rejected claims that
his officials were excluding members of the NCA from food aid or farm input

      "We do not discriminate against anyone when it comes to government
programmes such as food distribution. We do not even ask one's relations
with the government when under-taking such programmes," said Chiwewe.

      Masvingo, traditionally a hunger-prone area, is one of the regions
worst affected by hunger stalking a quarter of Zimbabwe's 12 million people.
Many families in the province virtually depend on food aid provided by the
government and some international food agencies to survive.

      This is not the first time that Mugabe's government has been accused
of denying food to political opponents as punishment. Local and
international human rights groups, churches and the main opposition Movement
for Democratic Change party routinely have in the past complained that the
government was politicising food aid. The government denies the charge. -

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Hyperinflation makes most people unwilling millionaires

[ This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations]

HARARE, 1 Feb 2006 (IRIN) - One practical problem of hyperinflation is the
sheer inconvenience of carrying bundles of cash. As a response, the
Zimbabwean authorities this week introduced a new Zim $50,000 (US 50 cents)
note, but critics warn its value has already been overtaken by inflation.

"The new Zim $50,000 note is not enough to buy a bottle of beer or a
newspaper. How can it be expected to ease the problems of carrying huge sums
of money?" complained Dunstan Moyo, who has been making wallets and handbags
in the capital, Harare, for the past five years.

He has watched his original business dry up, but has diversified into
knapsacks - a handier way of carrying around large wads of cash.
Enterprising street vendors have also spotted the gap in the market and
stand outside banks dangling plastic bags, rucksacks and, for larger
withdrawals, suitcases.

Zimbabwe's current inflation rate is 600 percent, and the reserve bank
predicts it will climb by 200 points before the end of the year. Some
analysts suggest 1,000 percent would be closer to the mark as the local
currency steadily devalues in the face of a crippling foreign exchange

The highest denomination was previously the Zim $1,000 note, which no longer
buys a packet of sweets. Following disastrous money shortages in 2003,
temporary bearer cheques were printed with a maximum value of Zim $20,000.

But an average Zimbabwean family now needs Zim $16.6 million (US $166) a
month to survive and even with a Zim $50,000 note, that is a lot of paper.

Queues outside automated teller machines have become chaotic as customers
struggle to withdraw enough money to cover basic daily groceries and
transport fares.

Economic consultant John Robertson said plastic money was not an option for
most Zimbabweans, as they cannot meet "the basic requirements demanded by
banks to open accounts".

Banks have stringent conditions for new accounts, including proof of
residence and a pay slip, but more than 70 percent of Zimbabweans are

The government, which blames unofficial sanctions by western governments for
the economic crisis, has responded to the rampant inflation by announcing it
will soon introduce a new currency, after "wide-ranging" consultations.

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Zim gold diggers beat cop to death


          February 01 2006 at 03:15PM

      Harare, Zimbabwe - A group of illegal gold diggers killed a policeman
who was trying to arrest them in eastern Zimbabwe, the state-controlled
Herald newspaper reported on Wednesday.

      Constable Elson Ngwarati, 25, was severely beaten in Chimanimani
district after he and a colleague confiscated ZIM$12-million (about R730)
from two gold panners and tried to take the pair to a police station, the
paper said.

      Ngwarati died later of his injuries.

      Ngwarati's colleague was seriously injured, while a soldier who had
offered to help the police fled when the panners rounded on them, the report

      "The people who were around and are also suspected to be gold dealers
attacked the policeman while the soldier ran away for his life, leaving the
two down," police spokesperson Joshua Tigere told the Herald.

      Community police officers eventually intervened and took the two
policemen to hospital, where Ngwarati died.

      There are gold veins in some eastern parts of Zimbabwe and many
illegal miners flock there in the hope of striking it rich, wreaking havoc
on the environment.

      Zimbabwean authorities control the buying of gold - a good source of
scarce foreign currency, but much of it is believed to be smuggled out of
the country.

      Reserve Bank Governor Gideon Gono confirmed last week that gold
deliveries to Fidelity Printers and Refiners (the sole authorised gold
buyer) were down 37 percent in 2005, probably as a result of massive gold
smuggling. - Sapa-dpa

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Another farmer evicted

The Zimbabwean

CHEGUTU - The commercial farmer and his workers on Wantage Farm in the
Chegutu area have been ordered to vacate the 84-hectare property by Shoko
Mudavanhu, who wants their home, according to a statement from the
Commercial Farmers' Union, (CFU). "Mudavanhu's interest in not in the land,
on which tomatoes, flowers, cabbage and paprika are grown with financing
from the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe, but in the main farm homestead. He has
repeatedly threatened the farmer and workers with violence and disrupted
farming operations with the help of a band of youths," says the statement.
"The paprika on this farm is grown for export, and turnover is around 1
million Euros in total. At a time when the Governor of the Reserve Bank is
calling for an increase in exports, individuals trying to play their part in
the recovery of the Zimbabwean economy are being prevented from doing so."
The farmer, Dirk Visagie, bought the property as a foreign investor in 2001,
after obtaining a letter of no interest dated 12 May 2001, and a substantial
portion of the farm has already been acquired. "We urgently appeal to the
authorities to bring stability and predictability back to the agricultural
sector, so that all farmers can play their role in developing food security
and contributing to the recovery of our economy," added the statement. - Own

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IMF to publish Zimbabwe report

Business Report

February 1, 2006

Harare - An International Monetary Fund (IMF) fact-finding team in Zimbabwe
is on Wednesday due to hand over a report to officials from President Robert
Mugabe's government which could question whether the country can retain its
membership, state radio reported.

"Government officials will meet a delegation from the Bretton Woods
Institution in Harare today, with speculation on whether Zimbabwe will be
able to retain its membership in the International Monetary Fund," the radio

The report by the IMF team follows on a week-long visit.

Zimbabwe has been making strenuous efforts to pay back its debt arrears to
the global lender before a March deadline which could see the country
expelled from the IMF.

The authorities paid back another 15 million US dollars just before the IMF
team arrived in Harare, leaving it with $136.7 million left to pay. Just
over $16 million must be repaid in the next two months.

But state newspapers - generally seen here as the voice of Mugabe's
government - have already dismissed the IMF as an "insincere partner."

This week's Sunday Mail said the IMF team was already working on a "damning"
report and urged the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe Governor Gideon Gono to be
"cautious" in his dealings with the visiting officials.

Gono has stressed the importance of paying back Zimbabwe's debt but some
critics believe the money could be better spent paying for vital imports
such as fuel and food. - Sapa-dpa

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Southern Africa: Living in crisis

01 Feb 2006 17:37:50 GMT

Source: British Red Cross Society - UK

The crisis in southern Africa - which has left 12 million people at risk of
severe hunger - is a result of a complex combination of factors, not least
the HIV/AIDS pandemic.

Southern Africa has the world's highest HIV prevalence rate, with one in
four adults infected. As a result of the virus the farming workforce has
been dramatically weakened, which has had a devastating impact on food
production.Red Cross national societies across the region have focused
therefore on helping those living with HIV/AIDS, as they are the most
vulnerable in the current crisis.

Leigh Daynes, from the British Red Cross, visited Zimbabwe and Zambia -
among the countries worst affected by the food crisis - to find out how
people are being supported.

Around four million children have been orphaned in southern Africa by
HIV/AIDS, many of whom are left from a very young age to raise their

Leigh met Phiaodonia Chivandire, from eastern Zimbabwe, who was left to
bring up her three siblings when she was just 13 years old. The Zimbabwe Red
Cross is paying for Phiaodonia and her eight year old brother, Tinashe to
attend school.

"I'm waiting to hear if I passed my school exams," she said. "I'd like to go
back to do an A-level qualification.  I want to complete my studies and
train to be a nurse."

However, Phiaodonia cannot focus fully on her studies as she has a family to

Home-based care

The Red Cross also runs HIV/AIDS home-based care programmes in both Zimbabwe
and Zambia. This involves trained volunteers giving practical and emotional
support to people in their homes.

With the support of the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red
Crescent Societies and the British Red Cross, the Zimbabwe Red Cross is
distributing additional food and seeds to its long-term beneficiaries and
their families during the current food crisis.

In neighbouring Zambia, 35-year-old Patricia Gabi has AIDS and is dying.

With little else to eat, Patricia is forced to survive on wild berries and
vegetation that has been foraged from the bush, in the village of Siankwazi,
where her 68-year-old mother, Maria, cares for her. Zambian Red Cross
volunteers regularly visit Patricia and Maria as part of its home-based care

"Before the drought there was a constant supply of food," Maria explained.
"We had gardens in which we grew vegetables. But now because of the drought
we're starving. We just want the rain to come because we need to start
gardening again."

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A Charity Set up to Help the Pensioners of Zimbabwe


      350 People Gathered Together in Kensington, London to Help Raise Funds
for Z.A.N.E. A Charity Set up to Help the Pensioners of Zimbabwe
        Bruce Fletcher's band 'Heard' headlined the event, but why should we
help them?

      (PRWEB) February 1, 2006 -- Zimbabwe pensioners, many of them
British-born, are starving as their pension is worth almost nothing and the
economy does not seem to hold any hope for the vulnerable group.

      As Zimbabwe's annual inflation rate will peak at record 700% to 800%
in March 2006, all Zimbabweans are feeling deprived, but the country's
pensioners may simply vanish from existence.

      Zimbabwe has in recent years been in the throes of political, economic
and social instability brought about by President Mugabe's rule. The civil
war severely disrupted economic activity, and with the economy in shreds,
unemployment is running at an estimated 70 percent. For the past three years
Zimbabweans have endured shortages, from foreign currency to food, to fuel
and even bank notes. Poverty increase and AIDS rate, climbing to 25% among
youth. The breakdown of social services worsens conditions. The
International Monetary Fund (IMF) has labeled the country as having the
fastest shrinking economy in the world.

      In these trying circumstances, the most vulnerable social groups -
particularly the pensioners - suffer the most.

      There are nearly 7000, mainly British born, elderly pensioners in
Zimbabwe. They are the professionals and administrators who migrated here,
mostly from Britain and South Africa, in two waves, to escape the Depression
of the 1930s and then the bleakness of life after the Second World War.

      "Ten years ago pensioners lived relatively comfortably on the money
they were receiving. But the situation now is pathetic. The pittance they
get can hardly see them through a day, what with the ever-increasing price
of basic commodities and the attendant shortages," economist John Robertson
told IRIN news service.

      Zimbabwe pensioners are dying prematurely due to stress as their
devalued pensions from the Zimbabwe government equal to pennies a month.
Many of the care homes were supported by the agricultural community, but
today as the farming infrastructure is severely damaged and a lot of private
farming equipment disappeared, only 15% of the farmers are still farming so
this support has simply dried up.

      Some of Zimbabwe pensioners live in the rural areas and are supposed
to travel to the cities to receive their money every month. However, due to
high transport costs, the money they use on a single trip far outstrips what
they receive and many pensioners have simply stopped collecting their money.

      Basic foodstuffs are expensive; for example, bread is virtually
impossible to obtain so that feeding the elderly has become a real
challenge. The consumer basket as estimated by the Consumer Council of
Zimbabwe for a family of six cost Z$16,6 million in December 2005,
registering a 876 percent rise in one year. At the same time most pensioners
receive no more than Z$1,750,000 (US $18 at the current official rate) a
month, with some getting as little as Z$190,000 (US $2).

      Once the people who developed Zimbabwe for generations to come during
their working days, Zimbabwe pensioners grow desperate as they watch their
country being destroyed, their pensions grow worthless and their savings
melt to nothing. The most common Zimbabwe government pension is worth 40p -
enough for three loaves of bread and a couple of bananas.

      Most Zimbabwe pensioners suffer from catastrophic impoverishment. Too
proud to seek help, former professionals were allegedly reduced to eating
weeds. Well-educated people have been found living in cardboard boxes and
stables. Several of the aged have committed suicide, others grow ill with
worry. And, to make things worse, bodies are piling up in mortuaries as
relatives, where they exist, simply cannot afford to bury their dead.

      "They are the generation that built this country into the best-run
country in Africa, with high standard of living anywhere," the administrator
of an old age home in Harare said. "They worked hard and planned
meticulously for their futures. Mugabe has wrecked everything."

      According to the United Nations, Zimbabwe now has one of the lowest
life expectancies in the world and one of the highest HIV/AIDS rates.
Zimbabwe population is ageing at enormous speed, with death rate among the
productive age groups rising up to eight times in the last ten years.
Economists warn that when real inflation hits more than 1,000 percent,
airing fears of possible food riots and political unrest putting the lives
of pensioners in Zimbabwe at the edge of extinction.

      Article by: Julie Gabriel

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Africa's hunger - a systemic crisis

            By Martin Plaut
            BBC Africa analyst

      More than half of Africa is now in need of urgent food assistance.

      The UN's Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) is warning that 27
sub-Saharan countries now need help.

      But what appear as isolated disasters brought about by drought or
conflict in countries like Somalia, Malawi, Niger, Kenya and Zimbabwe are -
in reality - systemic problems.

      It is African agriculture itself that is in crisis, and according to
the International Food Policy Research Institute, this has left 200 million
people malnourished.

      It is particularly striking that the FAO highlights political problems
such as civil strife, refugee movements and returnees in 15 of the 27
countries it declares in need of urgent assistance. By comparison drought is
only cited in 12 out of 27 countries.

      The implication is clear - Africa's years of wars, coups and civil
strife are responsible for more hunger than the natural problems that befall

      Critical issues

      In essence Africa's hunger is the product of a series of interrelated
factors. Africa is a vast continent, and no one factor can be applied to any
particular country. But four issues are critical:

        a.. Decades of underinvestment in rural areas, which have little
political clout.
      Africa's elites respond to political pressure, which is mainly
exercised in towns and cities. This is compounded by corruption and
mismanagement - what donors call a lack of sound governance.

      "Poor governance is a major issue in many African countries, and one
that has serious repercussions for long-term food security," says a
statement by the International Food Policy Research Institute.

      "Problems such as corruption, collusion and nepotism can significantly
inhibit the capacity of governments to promote development efforts."

        a.. Wars and political conflict, leading to refugees and

      In 2004 the chairman of the African Union Commission, Alpha Oumar
Konare, reminded an AU summit that the continent had suffered from 186 coups
and 26 major wars in the past 50 years. It is estimated that there are more
than 16 million refugees and displaced persons in Africa.
      Farmers need stability and certainty before they can succeed in
producing the food their families and societies need.

        a.. HIV/Aids depriving families of their most productive labour.

      This is particularly a problem in southern Africa, where over 30% of
sexually active adults are HIV positive. According to aid agency Oxfam, when
a family member becomes infected, food production can fall by up to 60%, as
women are not only expected to be carers, but also provide much of the
agricultural labour.

        a.. Unchecked population growth

      "Sub-Saharan Africa 's population has grown faster than any region
over the past 30 years, despite the millions of deaths from the Aids
pandemic," the UN Population Fund says.
      "Between 1975 and 2005, the population more than doubled, rising from
335 to 751 million, and is currently growing at a rate of 2.2% a year."

      In some parts of Africa land is plentiful, and this is not a problem.
But in others it has had severe consequences.

      It has forced farming families to subdivide their land time and again,
leading to tiny plots or families moving onto unsuitable, overworked land.

      In the highlands of Ethiopia and Eritrea some land is now so degraded
that there is little prospect that it will ever produce a decent harvest.

      This problem is compounded by the state of Africa's soils.

      In sub-Saharan Africa soil quality is classified as degraded in about
72% of arable land and 31% of pasture land.

      In addition to natural nutrient deficiencies in the soil, soil
fertility is declining by the year through "nutrient mining", whereby
nutrients are removed over the harvest period and lost through leaching,
erosion or other means.

      Nutrient levels have declined over the past 30 years, says the
International Food Policy Research Institute.


      The result is that a continent that was more than self sufficient in
food at independence 50 years ago, is now a massive food importer. The book
The African Food Crisis says that in less than 40 years the sub-continent
went from being a net exporter of basic food staples to relying on imports
and food aid.

      In 1966-1970, net exports averaged 1.3 million tons of food a year, it

      "By the late 1970s Africa imported 4.4 million tonnes of staple foods
a year, a figure that had risen to 10 million tonnes by the mid 1980s."

      It said that since independence, agricultural output per capita
remained stagnant, and in many places declined.

      Some campaigners and academics argue that African farmers will only be
able to properly feed their families and societies when Western goods stop
flooding their markets.

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Consumer basket shoots up

The Chronicle

Thandolwenkosi Sibindi

The consumer basket of basic commodities has shot up to $18 million in
January from $16,6 million in December after the latest round of price
increases, the Consumer Council of Zimbabwe has said.

The CCZ Matabeleland Regional Manager, Mr Comfort Muchekeza said the $18
million was only a preliminary figure, which could be higher when the survey
is complete because some prices were changing all the time.
"Some figures being compiled do not show the situation on the ground.
Between Monday and Tuesday last week, some small millers were selling
mealie-meal to retailers at $13 million a tonne, on Friday the price had
gone up to $23 million a tonne and yesterday (Monday) it was $35 million per
tonne," he said.
He expressed concern about some sectors of the economy that were still
increasing prices of commodities despite a tentative agreement between the
partners to the Tripartite Negotiating Forum to halt price increases and put
in place a mechanism to regulate them.
"Despite the TNF contract which negotiated on a freeze of prices, some
sectors of the economy are sill increasing prices," he said.
Prices for the basic commodities continue to skyrocket with a 750ml bottle
of cooking oil now costing $259 000 at OK and $295 990 at Shoprite from $150
000 last week.
A 2kg packet of sugar costs $120 000 at Spar and $100 000 at TM from $80

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