|The ZIMBABWE Situation||Our
thoughts and prayers are with Zimbabwe |
- may peace, truth and justice prevail.
2/5/2004 12:36:46 AM
MORALE has hit rock bottom at the troubled Associated Newspaper of
Zimbabwe (ANZ) with workers embarking on a go-slow in protest against poor
working conditions and salaries.
Sources at the publishing concern said workers are pressing for a 1
000 percent salary increase.
"We are on a go-slow," said a journalist who preferred to remain
anonymous. "Instead of looking into our welfare, the managers are busy
lining their pockets, travelling endlessly around and out of the country. We
are tired of being used like animals for the benefit of a few individuals.
Maybe you have noticed that ever since we came back, there are no strong
stories in the paper. The situation will remain the same until our
grievances have been addressed positively."
ANZ publishes The Daily News and The Daily News on Sunday - both
titles which are currently engaged in protracted legal battles with the
Media and Information Commission and the government seeking the courts'
permission to be granted a licence and continue publishing without state
The latest development comes barely two weeks after the High Court
ordered the police to vacate the premises of the media house in Harare and
continue with their daily operations pending a Supreme Court ruling expected
Contacted for comment, The Daily News editor Nqobile Nyathi expressed
ignorance and maintained all was well with the editorial team.
"If there is a go-slow, it has not been brought to my attention,"
Nyathi said. "As far as I know, everyone is working as usual."
Trouble started for ANZ in September last year when the Supreme Court
ruled that the media concern was operating outside the law. The police
quickly moved in and shut down ANZ.
Thereafter, five court judgments have been issued in favour of the
newspaper, most of which the government ignored.
ANZ chief executive, Sam Sipepa Nkomo, is reportedly out of the
country and has not responded to workers' demands, the source said.
Zimbabwe Union of Journalists acting secretary general Brian Mangwende
said the union would soon take up the matter with the ANZ management.
"We are definitely going to pick the issue with management at ANZ with
a view to protect our members from exploitation," Mangwende said. "This not
the first time ANZ workers have been ill treated and it has to stop now.
Even if it means taking up the matter with the courts, we are willing to do
that. We cannot stand by and watch our members being humiliated and
exploited. " - Staff Reporter
A catastrophe foretold
2/5/2004 12:11:15 AM (GMT +2)
THE truth, it would seem, is indeed bizarre to the ears of the
politicians, especially Zimbabwean politicians who have been making a
fortune while a wide cross-section of the community ekes out a living. But
then again, so is the world that they live in.
What else can we say about those that constitute Zimbabwe's
increasingly paranoid government? They were warned as far back as early last
year that indications were that Zimbabwe could fail to produce enough to
feed itself in the 2003/2004 season. But did they take heed? No they did
And with conservative figures indicating that at least 7.5 million
Zimbabweans, who must now surely feel that God's cheque has bounced, could
be in need of food aid - there is, as predicted, the likelihood of hunger in
the hitherto land of plenty. This is because the politicians in government,
who seem oblivious of the fact that leadership is production and not
position, in their wisdom ignored the voice of reason to make realistic
provisions for such eventualities and diffuse this unfolding human
catastrophe. The question is: how will the situation develop from here?
Hapless Zimbabwe can only puzzle.
The ruling clique, who are still to learn that criticism is a leader's
greatest test of maturity, conviction and commitment to his or her vision,
had their knickers in a twist following persistent criticism of the way they
handled the emotive land issue by those who felt that the decision to take
the land was fine but the approach, style and the form was wrong. The
government instinct was to simply dismiss the timely warnings about food
shortages as nothing more than an alarmist stance taken mainly by those
caught between reality and insecurity in the face of land reform. But they
(government) did so at immeasurable cost to the country.
Now the food security situation is as precarious as it has ever been.
In fact, that is an understatement of significant proportions. According to
the Famine Early Warning Systems Network (Fews-Net), preliminary indications
are that Zimbabwe will be faced with an uncomfortably high cereal deficit of
an estimated 38 percent of the total national requirement in the 2003/2004
In the midst of this statistical haze, an erstwhile self-sufficient
population, gripped by the fear of hunger and starvation now remains
transfixed by prospects of donor agencies releasing food aid. Some of these
donors, who have their own political agendas, might not dole out large
tranches of their funds and instead could play hardball to squeeze what they
consider a rogue government with increasingly dwindling political leverage
in the face of a shrinking industrial base, rising unemployment, critical
food shortages - which indeed have created a fertile ground for
disillusionment among Zimbabweans.
There is undoubtedly incredible heat under the suffering people's feet
because one of the sources of pride in being a nation is the ability to be
self-sufficient. Sadly, in terms of food, Zimbabwe is presently not. Hence
the unfolding food crisis which is not only indicative of the shrunken state
of the country's once robust agricultural sector which previously had the
single biggest sectoral contribution to the country's gross domestic
product, but is also emblematic of everything wrong with the way the country
is being run - a sad reflection of upside-down priorities.
While the government saw it fit to address the historic injustices and
inequality through the land reform, resources should have been channelled
towards this very important sector given that most of the people resettled
on the acquired farms require a great deal of financial assistance for them
to afford draught power and the necessary inputs. This is belatedly being
done now as an afterthought.
True, the sometimes erratic and increasingly unpredictable rainfall
pattern and intermittent droughts have played their part in compromising the
food security situation. But shoddy planning on the part of the government,
which also proves that no plan is worth the paper it is written on unless it
starts you doing something, is largely to blame because there was never any
sense of urgency to alleviate the shortage of critical agricultural inputs
such as seed, fertilisers and chemicals among others, which will inevitably
impair the quality of the crop and hence the yield levels. What is more,
government has been sending mixed signals to the donor community on the food
...and now to the Notebook
12:15:15 AM (GMT +2)
CZ is concerned that with the developments fast taking place in the
country's judicial sector, very soon Zimbabweans might be having self-rule,
an arrangement of things where there are no judges, magistrates, lawyers,
prosecutors -a set-up where only politicians and their thugs are left to
apply the law after all the judicial officers have fled the country for
their dear lives.
What else, no
matter how optimistic one can be, can we expect from the
new trend where any lawyer, judge or prosecutor who wants to apply the law
as it should be, have to flea for life? We wonder.
CZ's colleagues at one of the big weeklies are complaining bitterly
about the behaviour of their thieving colleagues - a desk editor and a
reporter - whom we are told were as recent as last week found with a
colleague's missing hand-bag containing about $500 000 hidden in their
The sister, who because of her behaviour when it comes to money, was
recently dismissed from ZUJ, and her brother - who sells meat in the
newsroom -were inexplicably linked to the chief reporter's missing hand-bag
which was only found after a whole day of collective effort by management,
security officers and fellow colleagues.
After the missing hand-bag was finally found in one of the drawers of
the editor-sister's desk, she naturally disowned it saying the male
colleague - the source of whose meat is also suspect - sometimes uses her
Colleagues say this is not the first time thieves have wreacked havoc
in this big newsroom, and it is hoped that management will do something
about this problem . . . if ever they can do something because the lady is
known to brag to be a perennial survivor who can manoeuvre her way even out
of hell! Knowing how poorly paid journalists are, it takes only a person
with no conscience at all to steal a cool $500 000 from a colleague!
CZ was this week pleased to hear the announcement of the setting up of
the Zimbabwe Association of (State) Editors, an outfit that is going to
rival the already existing Zimbabwe National Editors' Forum for editorial
space in Zimbabwe. We expected this to happen a long time ago because it
would be anticipating too much to expect editors who report to the
Department of Information in the Office of the Great Uncle and his War
Cabinet to sit together with those already in ZINEF to discuss "issues of
common interest" which do not exist. Editors from the other side of the
divide do not just use disks that they don't know where they are coming
We hope one founding executive member of the new outfit will be able
to clear his good name from tendentious allegations of failing and or
refusing to repay money borrowed from juniors as well as those about selling
properties to more than one person. We also hope that if there is a grain of
truth in the allegations, he will not give the members of the association -
who are described as "the country's most senior print and electronic
editors" some crash programmes on how to lose trust in no time.
The following is what one
Zimbo insists is the acapella version of the
popular Sendekera national anthem:
Kuba uku kwatinoita machinda ndiko kunounza
Kana zvinhu zvikaramba zvakadai gore rino ticharamba tichiba!
Iwe neni tine basa,
Ndiyoka nguva yekuba,
Nguva yekuita hupfumi,
Huyai tibatane pakuba,
Tose tigoita hupfumi.
Nhai vakuru ibai maPorsche car vaduku vabe Mazda,
Vaduku tarisai nyika yenyu yazara maPorsche car,
Iwe iba iba iba iba, Iwe iba iba iba iba.
Kuba uku kwatinoita machinda ndiko kunounza chibhanzi,
Kana zvikaramba zvakadai gore rino ticharamba tichiba!
Iba Mwana Wevhu. Our Corrupt Leaders are Our Role Models!
So it is not only Tambaoga who can do this!
Barclays Bank phases out credit cards
2/5/2004 12:22:58 AM (GMT +2)
TO even the least despondent amo-ng us, the long-drawn
"rationali-sation" of operations by Barclays Bank of Zimbabwe Limited
(Barclays) is beginning to take on a disconcerting hue.
Indeed, some are beginning to sit up and take a closer look, nay
scrutinise some recent developments at the bank.
One of the country's trio of so-called traditional (read
non-indigenous) banks (along with Standard Chartered and Stanbic) and, as
such, a safe haven for depositors in the current turbulent times, Barclays
has continued to make highly contentious corporate decisions that belie its
management's vociferous protestations that they are in Zimbabwe for the long
The Alex Jongwe-led bank has given notice that it will, with effect
from February 28, phase out the credit card facility, effectively giving
customers holding the cards six weeks' notice.
This has heightened speculation that the bank, which has also recently
embarked on its second round of branch closures and lay-offs, might just be
winding up operations.
Speculation has also swirled around the bank's possible sell-off
following last year's decision by the United Kingdom's Barclays Plc, which
owns 64 percent of the ZSE-listed bank, to ring-fence the loss-making (in
pound sterling terms) local operation.
All this has always been strenuously denied and only time will tell.
Barclays first set up shop in Zimbabwe in 1912 and had a total of 44
branches employing about 2 000 people at its peak, but close to 20 have been
closed and several hundreds of jobs lost.
The bank has also recently moved to harmo-nise the business of its
finance house, Fincor, with that of the commercial bank.
Barclays has a significant presence on the continent in countries such
as South Africa, Botswana, Zambia, Uganda, Tanzania, Seychelles, Mauritius,
Kenya, Nigeria, Ghana and Egypt.
Incidentally, Barclays Africa was last year named the Best Bank in
Africa by the prestigious international magazine The Banker at an awards
ceremony held in London.
The award was made to the bank apparently for its commitment to the
continent and its pan-African expansion prog-ramme.
It does look as though Barclays Zimbabwe is out of sync with the
broader Barclays family.
Zimbabwe Stock Exchange-listed
hospitality group Zimsun Leisure
Limited (Zimsun) directors last week announced that the group was close to
executing a couple of transactions that will have a bearing on the company's
Zimsun has been going through a metamorphosis since its demerger from
conglomerate Delta Corporation in 2002 and the first major shareholder
change that saw Tolenta Investments, led by CEO Shingi Mutasa, Interfin's
Farai Rwodzi and legislator Ray Kaukonde of the Amalgamated Motor Company,
emerging as the new controlling shareholders.
The group has spun off its property division, Dawn Properties, which
listed separately on the ZSE last year as the bourse's first Variable Rate
Loan Stock (VRLS) company.
Zimsun, which already has an interest in Mozambique, has set its
sights on sewing up two other continental contracts.
"Shareholders have been previously advised of the company's intention
to expand operations into countries in sub-Saharan Africa. The company is
currently negotiating for two regional opportunities which are likely to
result in detailed agreements being executed.
"The company is now seeking requisite consents of the relevant
regulatory authorities and, upon receipt of such consents, detailed
agreements will then be executed. Should that occur, there may be
significant impact upon shareholdings in the company," Zimsun directors
announced in a cautionary statement.
group TA Holdings has appointed former Ashanti
Goldfields' International Treasury Office finance director Osbourne Majuru
executive director responsible for operations with effect from January 1.
The appointment of Majuru, who had been hitherto TA executive chairman
Shingi Mutasa's point man, should clear the air over the affable chartered
accountant's role within the group.
His previous designation as the special assistant to the executive
chairman was not only problematic to the press corps but had the investment
community calling him the de facto CEO.
Majuru's importance and stature within TA has been underlined by his
holding fort at major TA functions such as media and analysts' briefings
where he has had to step in and bolster Mutasa's own efforts as the two
virtually jointly held court.
Majuru joined TA in July 2002 when he left pan African gold mining
giant, Ashanti, which he served in Zimbabwe and Tanzania.
He sits on various boards of companies under TA's ambit.
Gulliver moves to loosen hold on stock
ONE of the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange's most tightly held stocks,
Gulliver Consolidated Limited (Gulliver), will soon be more liquid should
shareholders approve a bonus issue that will see a three-fold increase in
the issued share capital at an extraordinary general meeting set for
February 20 in the capital.
With only 10 790 787 issued ordinary shares, Gulliver is one of the
most tightly held stocks on the ZSE and its critics say the share's relative
consistent performance has been largely due to this factor.
Gulliver directors are proposing a three-to-one bonus issue to
shareholders in the company's share register by February 27.
Gulliver's authorised share capital will also be raised from the
current 15 million shares to 60 million, each with a nominal value of 50
The company's current market capitalisation is just below $9 billion,
at the stock's current levels, just below $800 per share. Gulliver's stock,
which traded at about $1200 in December, has shed five percent on a
Declining projects have had a negative effect on the engineering and
construction giant since the advent of the recession.
Historical group turnover of $7 billion grew almost four-fold in spite
of the downturn in construction activity from $1.945 billion last year,
while after-tax profit was $1 billion ($242 million in 2002).
The Gulliver group operates Industrial Galvanising and Fabricating,
Lysaght Steel Merchants, Morewear Industries, Moresteel and Megasteel, while
the Botswana and Malawi companies remain dormant.
Where have you been all this time, Gideon Gono?
2/5/2004 12:16:13 AM (GMT +2)
This must be the question all long-suffering Zimbabweans are asking
after the Reserve Bank Governor has emerged after a long time as the only
official who has enabled us to date to hope that there could be light at the
end of the long, dark economic tunnel.
Many ordinary people I know refer to Gono in reverent terms because of
what he has done in the space of just two months to boost the collective
morale of a despondent nation through his well-thought-out monetary policy.
It is sad commentary on the state of affairs in this country that one
man can achieve in such a short time what an army of ministers in our
bloated government have failed to do nor shown an inclination to do all
Lest I be accused of being gushing in my praise of Gono, let me hasten
to add that I do not under-estimate the enormity of the task he is trying to
tackle and the extent of the mess he must clean up.
With the freedom of the press to undertake investigative journalism
severely curtailed by the provisions of the dreaded Access to Information
and Protection of Privacy Act (AIPPA), an extremely fertile atmosphere was
created for the twin cancers of corruption and avarice to spread their
tentacles to virtually all sectors of society.
Gono is a breath of fresh air because he comes across as someone
genuinely determined to end the years of official indifference to the
illegal and immoral activities that have robbed the majority of Zimbabweans
of their rightful share of the national cake while making it possible for
only a select few to become obscenely rich.
For the first time in a very long time, someone has given the small
fish a glimmer of hope that they can be rescued from being swallowed by the
big sharks both in officialdom and business.
In the past, Zimbabweans have been bombarded with endless waves and
explosions of rhetoric against corruption and other evils that have caused
economic ruin and impoverished the majority. But it was all idle talk -
nothing concrete was ever done to curb these excesses and bring culprits to
book. Instead, Zimbabweans became used to what Britain's Lord Shawcross once
described as "the tendency of those in government to shield themselves
behind a curtain of secrecy in which the only window is controlled by an
official trained in the art of conveying a minimum of information with a
maximum of self-righteousness".
This is why Gono's determination to unmask moral criminality
masquerading under the robes of respectability, patriotism and
entrepreneurship has found so much resonance with ordinary people.
The Reserve Bank Governor has demonstrated that he is a different
kettle of fish by having a clear vision of what the problems are.
I am no financial or economic fundi but after listening to Gono's
pronouncements, it is heartening that the man speaks in specifics as opposed
to the ambiguous general-isations we have come to expect from most chefs.
These can mean a million different things, providing a permanent mechanism
for the evasion of responsibility and guilt.
One hopes those in government are not too proud to learn from Gono's
transparent approach, which has achieved visible results in a very short
time by exposing irregularities within the finance sector, resulting in
swift action being taken against suspected culprits.
This contrasts starkly with the standard modus operandi we have come
to expect from our government - the fallacy of subsisting copious and
hostile propaganda for performance and corrective action. I regard this as
aimless pillow-punching and devoting money, time and energy towards
promoting themes not perceived as relevant by those who know where the shoe
If things were normal, Zimbabwe's political graveyard would be filled
with arrogant ministers and officials who seek to ignore or circumvent the
realities on the ground and instead patronisingly promote their personal
whims as the wishes of the people. This type of propaganda can never be a
cure-all. The economic crisis in Zimbabwe born of hyper-inflation and high
unemployment has continued to deepen over the last few years despite all the
attempts that have been made to blame imaginary saboteurs.
Someone I knew who taught a course in propaganda used to require his
students to memorise this statement: "Successful publicity over the long
haul must be grounded in works that the public defines as good, motives that
the public accepts as honest and presentation that the public recognises as
Gono's approach meets the bill on all counts. He was smart enough to
recognise from the very beginning the vital importance of consulting widely
and listening to all stakeholders. The act of genuinely consulting the
people is such an alien concept in government that I have often wondered
whether some officials live on the same planet as the rest of us when they
have made pronouncements that bear not the slightest resemblance to reality.
Empathy can only be achieved through open minded listening. The
obsession with scoring points that characterises some officials' dealings
with the public is dishonest to say the least. Gono has led the way by
showing how things should be done and instead of trying to cast aspersions
other public officials should take a leaf out of his book. The bank chief
fortunately seems determined neither to be intimidated nor distracted.
After appearing before the ZANU PF parliamentary caucus a week ago, he
reiterated his determination to implement his monetary policy without fear
This is music to the suffering Zimbabweans' ears and only those who
have skeletons in their closets have cause to worry. The "pain" they are
feeling cannot be worse than that felt by most ordinary people who have been
reduced to living from hand to mouth and not knowing where their next meal
will come from.
Gono deserves the support of all Zimbabweans in his endeavours to
implement a policy geared to accomplish objectives that are in the interest
of all. The people are sick and tired of the shady dealings and corrupt
activities that only benefit a greedy minority at the expense of the rest of
They have had enough as far as over-promise and under-delivery are
concerned. We need to see action instead of evasiveness towards critical
As someone has said, politics is not only the art of the possible but
also the art of making the difficult possible.
We need people in public life who have objectives in view beyond
personal enrichment and can handle the rough give-and-take that should be
the hallmark of democracy.
They say "well begun is half done". And so to the Reserve Bank boss,
all fair-minded people can only say: so far so good. Keep it up.
From IOL (SA), 5 February
By-election win for Mugabe's Zanu PF
Harare - President Robert Mugabe's Zanu PF has retained the
constituency seat held by former vice president Simon Muzenda who died last
year, state radio reported Wednesday. Retired air marshal Josiah Tungamirai
of Zanu PF polled 20 699 votes against 7 291 for Crispa Musoni of the
Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) in the two-day by-election which the
opposition claimed was rigged. The MDC had alleged electoral fraud, saying
the ruling party had included about 7 000 people from other constituencies
on the Gutu North voters' roll. Some 59 390 people were eligible to vote in
the Gutu by-election, but fewer than 30 000 had voted by the end of polling
on Tuesday. The Zimbabwe Election Support Network (ZESN), a coalition of 38
independent civic groupings, observed the polling and said voting was
conducted in peace. It expressed concern, however, over vote-buying after a
Zanu PF official was seen distributing the staple maize grain on the first
day of polling, an "action which is tantamount to vote-buying". It also
observed that a group of European Union and Norwegian diplomats were
"temporarily delayed entry into a polling station". "Equally worrying", ZESN
said, was the role of village heads who were seen taking down names of
voters as they entered the poling stations. The MDC now holds 53 of the 150
seats in parliament, following the death on Tuesday of lawmaker David Mpala
from alleged torture wounds.
From The Mail & Guardian (SA), 5 February
Econet survives 'bizarre Zimbabwe govt attack
Harare - Strive Masiyiwa, the founder
of one of Africa's top communications
operators, Econet, on Tuesday survived a bizarre attack by President Robert
Mugabe's government to try to shut down his profitable Zimbabwean operation
on the grounds that it was "subversive". At 6.46pm last Friday, when most
staff at the corporation's headquarters in Harare had gone home, a fax
machine there received a letter from the state-run telecommunications
regulator announcing that Econet was to "cease to operate" at midnight,
according to court documents obtained on Wednesday. In just more than five
hours, said the fax, new regulations would force Econet, Zimbabwe's only
independent mobile telephone operator with assets of Z$334-billion, to
switch off its station that connects its 160 000 international business
subscribers to the rest of the world through Intelsat, the United
States-based satellite system. Rapid recourse to the courts stayed the
unannounced blow. On Tuesday Judge Younis Omerjee, after an urgent hearing
in his chambers, ruled that Jonathan Moyo, Mugabe's propaganda chief wearing
his current hat of acting Minister of Transport and Communications, had
ignored the legislation governing the telecommunications industry. He
declared Moyo's regulations "null and void and of no effect".
It was the latest addition to the notorious record of the
man who in the
past four years has closed down all private radio stations; outlawed
independent television; banned the Daily News, the country's only
independent daily newspaper; ringed the country's independent media with
some of the most repressive press laws in the world; ordered the arrest of
journalists; and issued a relentless stream of invective against anyone who
criticises him or his boss. Moyo's target, however, is no pushover. Masiyiwa
had a three-year legal battle with the government that finally got him a
licence for Econet to operate mobile telephones in Zimbabwe, and he went on
to several other African countries to make the company one of the
continent's most used mobile phone systems. When he first applied for a
licence, he said, three top ruling-party bosses demanded a bribe of $750 000
and majority shares in the company. He told them to get lost. He began to
attract the government's renewed attention in late 2002 when he bought the
dominant shareholding in Associated Newspapers of Zimbabwe, which owns the
Daily News. A warning sounded on Christmas Eve when the state press,
directly under Moyo's control, claimed moves were under way to withdraw
Econet's licence after an "investigation" indicated the company was using
allegedly illegal foreign currency "to finance subversive activities to
undermine the ruling Zanu [PF] government".
meant to close Econet last Friday night also made Tel One,
the state-owned telephone operator, the sole legal provider of international
telecommunications services. Econet receives an average 1,5-million minutes
of international telephone calls a month, said Douglas Mboweni, chief
executive officer of Econet (Zimbabwe), 70% of them from South Africa. Its
current licence runs to 2012. In an affidavit to court he admitted that the
fax "raised alarm", but he said he "did not seriously believe the government
could do this". Moyo, he said, "cannot possible have thought out the very
serious implications from the precipitate actions being taken". Tel One had
no capacity to take over Econet's international traffic, he said. "As we
speak, Tel One subscribers cannot call overseas cellphone numbers," he said.
"Chaos would result. Subscribers ... will simply wake up to no service." The
situation appears little different from 1995 when the Supreme Court
abolished the state-owned telephone service's monopoly because it was so bad
that it violated the right of freedom of speech. Econet's lawyers this week
charged that the government was trying to "nationalise" Econet's property.
Moyo's own lawyers agreed that there had been "no compliance" with
telecommunications laws, Omerjee said. "The chronology of events since early
2000 demonstrated that the second respondent [Moyo] has always harboured a
desire to close down the applicant's [Econet's] operations," said Mboweni.
"The world, including most African countries, have moved away from
monopolistic policies and they are adopting the ... system that gives
consumers maximum access," he said. "There is no reason Zimbabwe should be
dragged back to the dark ages."
From The New York Times, 5 February
With health system in tatters, Zimbabwe stands defenceless
By Michael Wines
Binga - Three
days after getting word that cholera was again killing
villagers outside this district capital, Binga's political and medical
leaders gathered at the town's disheveled hospital to take stock of their
arsenal against a potential epidemic. It did not take long. They had no
intravenous solution for rehydrating patients, a principal weapon against
cholera. Water purification chemicals were in short supply. The generator
was broken. Of the tents needed to isolate cholera cases, one was missing
its tie-down ropes, the other was "in tatters," one man said. The doctors
needed large amounts of salt, sugar, bleach, soap and candles; none were on
hand. Of 330 gallons of gasoline sought, 44 were available - not that it
mattered, as two of three cars were in the shop. The truck was, too. The
needs might be even greater, as might the outbreak's toll - two reported
deaths, seven more illnesses. But no one knew for sure: the two-way radio
carried by the first doctors who drove to the scene was not working, either.
Nor was the radio in the village's medical clinic.
Only a decade ago, Zimbabwe's public health system was, with
head and shoulders above those of most of the 40-odd other nations of
sub-Saharan Africa. But in a weeklong trip through eastern and central
Zimbabwe, both to cities and to remote towns like Binga, it was apparent
that health care - like the rest of Zimbabwe's economic and social fabric -
is dissolving. Three years of economic free fall and inflation, now
averaging 620 percent a year, have left Zimbabwe desperately short of even
basic drugs and medical equipment, pushing a once robust network of
hospitals and hundreds of rural clinics close to ruin. Experts say the decay
portends potentially far more serious problems - outbreaks of diseases like
cholera and anthrax that spread when preventive measures are poor, and
deadly childhood epidemics like measles, which exist only when public health
defenses are down. Zimbabwe's government does not discuss details of its
public health problems, and Western journalists, derided as tools of the
nation's critics, are officially barred from reporting here. With rare
exceptions, local medical experts and others interviewed for this article
spoke only on condition of anonymity for fear of retaliation, either against
them or their organizations.
Nevertheless, the national
medical association stated publicly in January
that 4 in 10 doctors had already left Harare, and 6 in 10 had left Bulawayo,
usually for Britain, Australia or neighboring African states like Botswana.
By one United Nations-financed study, fewer than 900 doctors remain in a
nation of 11.6 million people - one doctor for every 13,500 people.
"Basically, the health care system is collapsing on itself right now," said
one Harare medical professional with long experience in several parts of
Zimbabwe. "There's an exodus of health care professionals from this country.
And most of the rural health structures have been left under the supervision
of nurses' aides who have nothing to treat patients with." The human toll of
such breakdowns is difficult to measure precisely, but the anecdotal
evidence is chilling. Nurses at Harare's Parirenyatwa public hospital, the
city's biggest, say that since November there have been no H.I.V. test
kits - in a nation where one in four people is H.I.V.-positive. Two
physicians said in separate interviews recently that in the space of six
months last year, half of Harare's kidney-dialysis patients died, all
because the government did not spend its scarce foreign currency to buy
catheters for blood-cleansing equipment. In Bulawayo, Zimbabwe's second
largest city, a shortage of sutures and other equipment has closed operating
rooms and forced obstetricians to curtail Caesarean-section births. Some
women have died in labor as a result, said one medical professional who
often works in Bulawayo.
health system that remains here, experts say, persists on the
astonishing dedication of those health workers who have stayed. Despite
President Robert G. Mugabe's withering attacks on what he calls the racist
West, it also depends even more on the kindness of Western strangers- many
of them relentless critics of his authoritarian government. Foreign aid,
largely from global charities and the United States, Britain and Europe, has
saved Zimbabwe from running entirely out of drugs and medical supplies. Days
ago, the European Union pledged $30 million in aid to buy medicine and
equipment for clinics. Only in December, the United States made a
last-minute donation that enabled the government to buy the chemicals that
keep the municipal drinking water used by more than two million people in
Harare and Bulawayo pathogen-free. Zimbabwe, of course, is hardly alone in
its misery. Public health in much of this region is abysmal, and some other
African nations - neighboring Zambia and nearby Malawi, to cite two - face
even worse problems. What distinguishes Zimbabwe, however, is the depth and
rapidity of its fall from the top rank of healthy nations to near basket
case. Take infant mortality, one key indicator of public health: between
1999 and 2002, Malawi's rate dipped by about five percent while South
Africa's held essentially steady. Zimbabwe's jumped at least 15 percent, and
is believed to have risen further last year. That is no isolated trend.
Overall mortality rates, as well as childbirth-related deaths, also worsened
over the decade in Zimbabwe in comparison with its neighbors.
Yet no one outside
Zimbabwe's government knows with certainty how deeply the
crisis in public health runs here. Mr. Mugabe's government, increasingly
wary of bad publicity, has stymied the public release of United Nations
assessments of major social indicators. The network of clinics and doctors
has frayed so badly that experts suspect the data once routinely dispatched
to statisticians are no longer reliable. On a personal level, the evidence
of decay in health care is overwhelming. A recent stroll through the
Parirenyatwa public hospital in Harare showed that staff shortages had
shuttered whole corridors. At a second major hospital, Harare Central, the
laundry has stopped working. In the pediatric wards, blood work-ups are no
longer performed in-house because of equipment and staffing problems.
Refrigerators in the overstuffed morgue, where corpses can remain for up to
six months, are not working. In an interview in late January, a Harare
resident who gave his name only as Thomas told how his father-in-law was
rushed to a city hospital in November with high blood pressure and breathing
problems, only to discover there were no doctors to see him. Shortly after
Christmas, a stroke left him paralyzed on one side. "We took him to Suburban
Hospital," a private institution, Thomas said. "They wanted 900,000 Zimbabwe
dollars as a deposit for admission" - about $300, a sum laughably beyond
average people here. "So we took him to a clinic, and they wrote a
prescription and said to bring him to the clinic every day for an
injection." Thomas paid 250,000 Zimbabwe dollars for medicine, needles and
syringes, and ferried his paralyzed father-in-law to the clinic daily for a
10,000-dollar-a-day injection. Within days, he was dead.
Zimbabwe's crisis is most painfully apparent not in the cities, but in
rural areas. There, doctors and patients alike say many of the hundreds of
local government clinics now have no working radios, refrigerators or
trained medical workers, and often few medicines beyond basic antibiotics
and a pain reliever. One person told of seeing a broken leg set solely with
the help of acetaminophen, commonly known as Tylenol. In a remote corner of
eastern Zimbabwe, an official of one private charitable clinic said in a
recent interview that none of the four closest government clinics currently
employed either a doctor or nurse. The charity's case loads have more than
doubled in the last year, she said. "They come here for malaria pills," she
said, referring to a standard preventive tablet in high-risk malarial areas
like Zimbabwe. "We tell them that they should check at the clinics. And they
say, `Uh-uh; we know you have it here.' " Zimbabwe's economic crisis has
made gasoline so costly that vaccines and other drugs can no longer be
reliably ferried to faraway villages. "Zimbabwe used to run its own
immunization program. In fact, it was the only country in sub-Saharan Africa
which could buy all its own vaccines," one global aid official said in a
recent interview. "But by 2000, it couldn't afford it." So Zimbabwe's
immunization programs, once exemplary, now provide coverage below 70 percent
for some major childhood diseases. Indeed, the official of the charitable
clinic said it was expanding its own free immunization program to head off
an expected flood of sick children from areas where government immunization
programs have stalled.
Some of the same shortcomings were evident in the Binga
northwestern region that was the scene of cholera outbreaks in January and
late last year. Binga, hard against vast, man-made Lake Kariba, has always
been a region of impoverished peasants, with poor services and sanitation,
so cholera was not unexpected. The area affected this time, around the
remote village of Lunga, is said to have almost no latrines and little
access to treated water. Yet when the disease first struck late last year
here and in neighboring Mashonaland West, medical experts said in January,
district health clinics had neither the qualified staff nor the radio
communications to identify cholera and spread the alarm. Chris McIvor, the
mission head in the region for the charity Save the Children, said in a
telephone interview in late January that Zimbabwean health workers responded
heroically to last year's three-month outbreak, which sickened 900 people
and eventually killed 40 before being brought under control in December.
"Having said that, there's no doubt that there is a shortage of facilities,
supplies, fuel, adequate numbers of staff and adequate drugs," he said. "And
we're very concerned that in the current environment, further outbreaks of
cholera - not just in Binga, but in other places - could be much more
serious. "With the state of health services currently," he said, "I think
that the response in 1990 would have been speedier than it is now."
Zimbabwe Upholds Law Requiring Licensing of Journalists
05 Feb 2004, 17:53 UTC
court has upheld a law requiring all journalists to be
licensed by the government or face criminal charges.
The Independent Journalists Association of Zimbabwe challenged the law
nearly two years ago and lost. The group appealed the decision to the
Supreme Court saying the law violates the constitution.
But Chief Justice Godfrey Chidyausiku and three other Supreme Court judges
disagreed, saying the law does not violate the Zimbabwe constitution's
guarantee of free speech.
Justice Chidyausiku said although the function of the press is important,
the press is not above the law and can be required "to operate within a
One judge dissented in the decision. He is believed to be Wilson Sandura,
the only member of the Supreme Court who was appointed before the
government's purge of the court in the past few years.
President Robert Mugabe introduced a batch of new press laws, called the
Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act, shortly after he was
re-elected in March of 2002.
The law says that any journalist who works without a license from the
state-appointed Media and Information Commission can be prosecuted, and may
face up to two years in prison if found guilty.
journalists have been prosecuted under the Act, which has also
been used to prevent publication of Zimbabwe's only major independent daily
newspaper, The Daily News.
The newspaper has been fighting the law since it was first closed last
September for not having a license. It won several court battles and finally
police left its offices last month. The newspaper has since then published a
small daily edition.
Daily News journalists reacted to Thursday's ruling with dismay, saying they
now face possible prosecution if they continue working.
A happy birthday boy
AFTER months of stalling, Zimbabwe's Robert Mugabe is said, at least by South Africa's ever-credulous president, Thabo Mbeki, to be willing to start formal talks with the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) he has spent the last three years trying to bludgeon into irrelevance. If true, and if Mr Mugabe were serious, such talks would have to lead to rigorously monitored elections that would very likely see the defeat of the ruling ZANU-PF party and disgrace for Mr Mugabe and his friends. So there is still much scepticism about Mr Mugabe's willingness to risk his own political demise.
But if Mr Mbeki is to be believed, talks should start this month, in private, between Welshman Ncube, the MDC's secretary-general, and Patrick Chinamasa, Mr Mugabe's justice minister. If things go well, they would lay the ground rules and set an agenda. The pair had talks, off and on, between May and October last year, but they got nowhere, with ZANU-PF wanting to discuss land issues and the MDC wanting to concentrate on arranging an election—and on stopping the vote-rigging, intimidation and torture that have made a mockery of recent polls.
So there is not much reason to think they will get further this time. The trial of the MDC's head, Morgan Tsvangirai, on charges of treason, resumes on February 11th—hardly a token of reconciliation. According to a leading diplomat in Harare, the capital, Mugabe is still just “playing cat and mouse with Mbeki” in the hope of fending off further international pressure.
But things may be changing, most of all within ZANU-PF. An internal party battle to succeed Mr Mugabe, who turns 80 on February 21st and has twice recently visited South Africa, probably for medical treatment, is intensifying. The group of ministers closest to him still rejects talks. They want to go on clobbering the opposition and to hold an early general election that is due anyway by the middle of next year. These hard men think that the thumping ZANU-PF majority likely under the current brutal conditions would let parliament make whatever constitutional changes it might choose.
Mr Mugabe would then name a successor and step down next year, paying no attention to the MDC. Either Emmerson Mnangagwa, the parliament's speaker, who is a former long-time security-service head, or Vitalis Zvinavashe, a former army chief, would probably take over. ZANU-PF has been taking soundings at the UN to see if a suitably easy-going team might monitor the elections in the hope that it might be predisposed to give Mr Mugabe's heirs a clean bill of health.
The hardliners point to minor improvements of late. They say, for instance, that inflation in December was down—to just under 600% a year—and that the shops have been fuller since the currency was devalued. They also note a recent crackdown on corrupt businessmen, including some who were close to Mr Mugabe. And they point out that the Daily News, the country's only independent daily paper, is back on sale, four months after it was banned.
But another, at present weaker, group within ZANU-PF does want to talk to the opposition and would consider sharing power for a transitional period in the hope that, when elections are held, people might still vote for a cleaned-up version of ZANU-PF, perhaps with a former finance minister, Simba Makoni, at its head.
This group is more conscious of Zimbabwe's economic demise and the spectre of hunger, as well as fears of cholera and anthrax, now stalking the land. A joint report by the World Food Programme (WFP) and the government, which lies unpublished because of government objections to some of its statistics, says that two-thirds of Zimbabwe's 12m people, including 2.5m people in towns, are now either on the brink of famine or are “food insecure”: not yet starving but unsure whether they will eat a meal a day.
This more conciliatory lot knows that Zimbabweans' plight could worsen fast without more foreign aid, rescheduled debts and restored ties with the IMF. Some even fear that the United States could squeeze Mr Mugabe, to the detriment of his citizens, by stopping contributions to the WFP, which with international charities now provides nearly three-quarters of Zimbabwe's grain, until the government explains how its own stocks will be distributed. The WFP provides nearly half of all Zimbabwe's food and gets nearly half of its supply from the Americans.
Meanwhile, outside pressure remains strong enough to annoy Mr Mugabe without bringing him down. Zimbabwe is suspended from the Commonwealth. And the European Union has lengthened its blacklist of top Zimbabweans who cannot enter the Union from around 60 to 89 people, including (for the first time) the registrar-general of elections. But only if the MDC is given a fair chance of taking over is the country likely to recover properly. And that is still a long way off.
February 5, 2004
Posted to the web February 5, 2004
THE Department of Veterinary Services said yesterday it would take some time
before the country resumes beef exports to the European Union market because
of the persistent foot and mouth outbreaks.
In an interview, the department's director Dr Stuart Hargreaves said EU meat
inspectors would first visit the country to inspect the abattoirs before the
resumption of beef exports.
"The inspectors can only visit the country two years after the last outbreak
of the foot and mouth disease, so we still have a long way to go," he said.
The veterinary chief said cases of foot and mouth disease outbreaks were
still being reported in some parts of Masvingo such as Chiredzi and Mwenezi
where livestock was being vaccinated.
The persistent outbreaks of the disease have been blamed on the illegal
movement of livestock by farmers.
Efforts to contain the spread of the disease, Dr Hargreaves said, were being
hampered by the shortage of foreign currency to procure foot and mouth
"We need at least one million doses of the vaccine every month but we are
unable to build stocks because of the shortage of foreign currency," he
Dr Hargreaves said there was also need to repair foot and mouth control
fences in zones like Gona reZhou National Park and Hwange National Park in
order to reduce the contact of livestock with wild animals as this would
fuel the spread of the disease.
There are plans to establish a facility to produce foot and mouth disease
vaccines in Zimbabwe following talks between senior Zimbabwean and Iranian
government officials last month in Tehran, Iran.
Department of Veterinary Services deputy director, Dr Welbourne Madzima last
month held talks with the director-general of RAZI vaccine and serum
producing institutes, Dr Mohd Ali Akhavizadegan in Tehran.
The RAZI institute has the capacity to manufacture the equipment needed for
the FMD vaccine production.
Sunday Times (SA)
Zimbabwe releases over 100 demonstrators
Thursday February 05, 2004 15:09 - (SA)
than 100 pro-democracy demonstrators in Zimbabwe were released, a day
after being detained and allegedly beaten up by police who broke up a
protest outside parliament, their lawyer said.
The 112 demonstrators, who were freed after each paid a fine of 10,000
Zimbabwe dollars ($3), belong to the National Constitutional Assembly (NCA),
a civic group seeking constitutional reforms in the southern African
"We have paid deposit fines on their behalf to buy their freedom, not that
they are necessarily guilty," NCA lawyer Alec Muchadehama told AFP.
"The police invoked a section of the Miscellaneous Offences Act in which it
says we provoked the breach of peace," he said.
"We paid under protest because we wanted to ameliorate the suffering of
innocent people who could have endured hardships at the hands of police.
None of the demonstrators conducted themselves in a way which could breach
The police on Wednesday denied making any arrests but admitted to forcibly
breaking up the protest, called in a bid to put pressure on the government
to accept a proposed new constitution the group has drafted.
NCA chairman Lovemore Madhuku who claimed he was beaten up by police when
they arrested him, said he was later dumped along a road on the outskirts of
He used his mobile phone to call for help and was treated and discharged at
a private clinic.
NCA lawyer Muchadehama said the majority of the arrested people complained
that they were beaten with sticks and said many had emerged from police
cells with swollen heads, backs and hands, adding that some had difficulty
Madhuku, who said he sustained back and head injuries, complained of
difficulty in hearing.
"We will do another demonstration earlier than intended and we will be
holding more demonstrations after every two weeks," he said.
Zimbabwe is still using a constitution drawn up at Lancaster House in
Britain in 1979, a year before independence.
Media Institute of
Southern Africa (Windhoek)
February 5, 2004
Posted to the web February 5, 2004
The Media Defence Fund (MDF) and the Media
Lawyers Network (MLN) are
dismayed by the Supreme Court judgment upholding certain sections of the
Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (AIPPA) as
The Constitutional challenge brought by the Independent Journalists
Association of Zimbabwe (IJAZ) against the Minister of State for Information
and Publicity in the Office of the President and Cabinet as well as the
Media and Information Commission (MIC) sought the nullification of sections
79, 80, 83 and 85 as unconstitutional. The case was heard on 21 November
2002 with judgment only being delivered on 6 February 2004, fifteen months
after the matter was heard.
Although the Supreme Court noted that freedom of the press is covered in
section 20 of the constitution, we express our disappointment that the court
ruled that these sections are still constitutional. The MDF and MLN believe
that these sections pose a serious threat to the operations of journalists
and the media in Zimbabwe.
Chief Justice Godfrey Chidyausiku concurred with justices Cheda, Ziyambi and
Malaba and declared that Sections 79(1)(d) and (2), Sections 80, 83 and 85
to be constitutional. Section 79 deals with the issue of accreditation of
journalists whilst section 83 outlaws the practice of journalism without
accreditation. In his dissenting judgment Justice Wilson Sandura observed
that the application for accreditation by a journalist is subject to
approval by the Permanent Secretary and by the Minister of Information. This
he said entails that accreditation is no longer an administrative matter
only. We note that the powers accorded the MIC and the Minister amount to
quasi-judicial powers. The MIC and the Minister can decide on whom to and
not to accredit therefore, who can and cannot work as a journalist in
Zimbabwe. We question why the Minister and his permanent secretary would
want to approve an application to practice by a journalist. Such a process
is no longer a mere formality as there is discretion on the part of the
accrediting authorities to accredit or to refuse to accredit.
The MDF and MLN note with concern that this judgment casts a very dark day
for press freedom in Zimbabwe. We are aware of journalists who have
attempted to apply for accreditation without getting responses from the MIC.
The long-awaited judgment could be out but it leaves all those who fight for
freedom of expression worse off as all doors to the practicing of journalism
in an enabling society are closed. We reiterate that the sections upheld by
the majority of the bench severely undermine the exercise of freedom of
The whole Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act was not
promulgated in good faith. Its use has been against journalists working in
the privately owned media. We still call upon the responsible authorities to
repeal this Act so that once again Zimbabweans can freely exercise their
right to freedom of expression.
Issued by the Media Defence Fund and the Media Lawyers Network
Press Statement By Zimbabwean Media Organisations On the Judgment By the
Media Institute of Southern Africa
February 5, 2004
Posted to the web February 5, 2004
Zimbabwe media organisations, the Independent Journalists
Zimbabwe (IJAZ), Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA)-Zimbabwe and the
Media Monitoring Project of Zimbabwe (MMPZ), note with dismay and
disappointment today's judgment by the Supreme Court which upheld contested
provisions of the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act
The aforementioned organisations note that the Supreme Court concedes that
section 20 of the Zimbabwe constitution guarantees freedom of expression and
the right to receive and impart information, which includes freedom of the
press, the same court still upheld sections 79, 83 and 85. The sections
provide for accreditation of journalists, outlaw practising journalism
without accreditation and empower MIC to develop and enforce a code of
We however insist the sections in question pose a serious threat to the work
of journalists and infringe on their rights to freedom of expression and
that of the media. These sections compel all journalists to be accredited by
MIC and make it a criminal offence to practise journalism without
While there is nothing wrong with accreditation for administrative purposes,
we are concerned however that the MIC and the Minister of Information are
accorded quasi-judicial powers to decide who works as journalist or not. In
other words the MIC and the Minister have arbitrary powers to decide who may
or may not practice as a journalist.
Notwithstanding the judgment, it is our strong view that the contested
sections of AIPPA impinge on the exercise of freedom of expression. We
further note that since its enactment AIPPA has been selectively applied
against the privately owned media whose journalists have been constantly and
consistently arrested, detained and harassed. We insist that AIPPA is an
unnecessary evil in a country that purports to be a democracy.
Despite the ruling, we maintain that AIPPA is a bad law and should be
repealed. We also reiterate that governments have no role to play in
deciding who may practice as a journalist. The latest judgment comes against
a backdrop of yet another controversial Supreme Court judgment which
demanded that the Associated Newspapers of Zimbabwe comply with the law in
question before seeking relief from the courts on the constitutionality of
AIPPA. The judgment delivered on 11 September 2003 has been criticised by
legal experts, human rights lawyers as illogical and worrying.
We also take note of Supreme Court Judge Wilson Sandura's dissenting
judgment in which he argues that all the contested sections are
unconstitutional and that there exists enough remedies in Zimbabwe's common
law for those offended by the media.
Zimbabwe: Overcrowding Leads to Prison Crisis
Regional Information Networks
February 5, 2004
Posted to the web February 5, 2004
Zimbabwe's prisons are full to the hatches with petty criminals and remand
prisoners as a result of a slow judicial system that is failing to cope with
the backlog of criminal cases.
An exodus of magistrates from the Justice Department over low pay, poor
working conditions and alleged political interference has worsened the
In June last year alone, 10 magistrates resigned at a time when some inmates
were "spending up to four years awaiting trial", according to chief
magistrate Samuel Kudya.
"We have a backlog of up to 60,000 cases countrywide and there are close to
60 vacant magisterial posts. The capital, Harare, has a backlog of 3,200
criminal cases, while pending civil cases stand at 12,000," he said.
"We slept fitting into each other like spoons," a former prisoner who
refused to be named told IRIN. "Once you have taken a sleeping position you
cannot turn and change sides the entire night due to overcrowding.
Alternatively, prisoners take turns to sleep."
Overcrowding in the country's prisons has resulted in an inevitable rise in
infectious diseases such as TB, and AIDS-related deaths.
The sheer number of deaths, especially among inmates in the 20 to 29 year
age group, have spurred the prison authorities to introduce a daily
five-minute programme on national radio appealing for relatives to collect
the bodies of the deceased.
Justice minister Patrick Chinamasa says his ministry plans to construct
seven more prisons. "Our prisons are overcrowded, making it difficult to
maintain basic health standards," he has admitted.
Zimbabwe's 47 prisons are designed to hold 16,600 prisoners but they have
currently overshot that figure by more than 8,000, according to justice
Officially, each prisoner is entitled to four blankets, but owing to the
overwhelming number of inmates, each prisoner is typically allocated just
Prison services officials say critical food shortages have forced the prison
authorities to feed inmates maize porridge seasoned with salt for breakfast,
and boiled cabbage for lunch and supper.
A presidential pardon at the beginning of last year, which enabled 5,900
inmates to walk out of prison countrywide, appears to have done little to
ease the congestion.
Faced with the pressures of overcrowding, some prison officers have
reportedly responded with brutality. "The pressure has dehumanised them,"
the former prisoner said.
A recent report presented to the justice ministry by a parliamentary
committee revealed complaints among prisoners of severe beatings by prison
guards. Four prison officers were arrested in June last year for beating a
prisoner to death over a foiled escape bid.
Zimbabwe: Pro-Democracy Leader Allegedly Assaulted By Police
Integrated Regional Information Networks
February 5, 2004
Posted to the web February 5, 2004
The Zimbabwean police say they are unaware of the alleged beating of a
pro-democracy leader during a protest in the capital, Harare, on Wednesday.
National Constitutional Assembly (NCA) chairman Lovemore Madhuku was
reportedly severely assaulted when riot police broke up a demonstration in
Africa Unity Square in the city centre, organised by the NCA to demand
The Daily News reported that Madhuku was found lying in a pool of blood near
the National Sports Stadium, several kilometres from the scene of the
demonstration, where he was allegedly dumped after being assaulted.
Police spokesman Assistant Commissioner Wayne Bvudzijena told IRIN on
Thursday that he was "not aware of whether he [Madhuku] was beaten".
"There was a group of people who had to be forcefully removed from Africa
Unity Square. It was an NCA demonstration and they gathered there without
notifying police in terms of the Public Order and Security Act," Bvudzijena
He added that "those who were arrested paid deposit fines of Zim $10,000
[about US $2.84 at the auction rate] and were released". Bvudzijena
explained that deposit fines were an "admission of guilt", so there was no
need to prosecute them further.
Asked whether the police would launch an inquiry into the alleged assault on
Madhuku, Bvudzijena said this would only happen "if he [Madhuku] makes a
formal report - then it will be investigated. We need a complainant [to]
state exactly what happened".
The pro-opposition Daily News reported that Madhuku had sustained
lacerations to his head and was admitted to a private hospital.
Speaking from his hospital bed, Madhuku told the newspaper that the police
had said he needed to be "eliminated".
"I was picked up outside the parliament building, together with eight [NCA]
members, and pushed into a truck by the police. The others were dropped off
on the way, and then six police officers started beating me with batons and
fists. I remember one police detail saying that I had to be eliminated once
and for all," Madhuku alleged.
Court clears way for media crackdown in Zimbabwe
ZIMBABWE'S Supreme Court today endorsed a set of controversial media laws
compelling journalists to register with a state media commission and
subjecting them to its regulations.
The laws are the brain child of President Mugabe's spin doctor Professor
Jonathan Moyo. The laws came into effect after Mugabe's controversial
re-election in March 2002, a move his critics say was aimed at silencing
government opponents as the country struggles with a deep political and
The Supreme Court rejected an appeal by an association of independent
Zimbabwean journalists that the laws were unconstitutional, ruling that
journalism should be subjected to statutory regulations like other
The court declared as "constitutional" sections of the law making it
mandatory for journalists to seek accreditation with the media information
commission, outlawing the practice of journalism without accreditation and
empowering the commission to impose a code of conduct on journalists.
The court however reaffirmed an earlier decision which declared as
unconstitutional sweeping powers given to the commission to prosecute
journalists accused of publishing falsehoods and abusing "journalistic
privilege", saying the law had to be specific.
Daily News journalist Simba Rushwaya, speaking to New Zimbabwe.com after the
judgement said it was a "dark day for Zimbabwean journalists".
"When illegality is upheld by the courts then the citizens are at the mercy
of those who hate freedom," said Rushwaya.
Dozens of journalists have been prosecuted under the law, known as the
Access to Information and Privacy Act, which has also been cited in police
moves to shut down the country's largest private newspaper.
Mugabe's critics have described the media laws as part of a broader
crackdown by the government following his 2002 re-election in polls both the
main opposition party and western observers said were marred by
vote-rigging. - Reuters
AirZim Must Urgently Pay Off IATA Debt
February 5, 2004
Posted to the web February 5, 2004
Air Zimbabwe's suspension from the International Air Transport Association
(IATA) over a US$1,3 million debt is a very disturbing development.
The airline owes the nation a full explanation on the issue, especially
considering the fact that it generates foreign currency from some of its
passengers who pay for their tickets in hard currency.
IATA's Clearing House is the internationally recognised facility through
which airlines settle bills owed to each other. It is mandatory for
reputable national airlines to be active members of the IATA Clearing House
and pay up subscriptions timeously.
If an airline is suspended from the association, it means that it cannot
book its passengers on other airlines plying routes which it does not fly.
This is exactly the case with Air Zimbabwe at the moment.
Something has to be done urgently as the airline stands to lose a lot of
business. Passengers holding Air Zimbabwe tickets and wishing to get
connected with other airlines in order to reach their destinations will not
be able to do so.
In its somewhat cryptic Press statement yesterday, Air Zimbabwe attributed
all the blame for failing to service its debt to IATA on the shortage of
foreign currency in the country. We find this excuse unacceptable.
We urge the airline's management to act professionally and stop making tired
and flimsy excuses. Organisations or companies such as Air Zimbabwe that
have foreign currency denominated commitments should know how to access
their requirements from the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe.
Is Air Zimbabwe unaware of the existence of the RBZ foreign currency auction
system? It is common knowledge to all businesses needing foreign currency
that they have to approach their bankers to bid for their requirements at
the central bank auction.
The national airline, like any other company, is entitled to buy foreign
currency at the RBZ auction. Air Zimbabwe's requirements are sensible and it
is obvious that the central bank will make an approval.
We are also aware of the fact that some passengers who are non-Zimbabweans
pay for their tickets in foreign currency. What is happening to that foreign
currency and can Air Zimbabwe please explain?
For a long time now, Air Zimbabwe has talked of transforming itself into a
commercially viable entity. The airline has a lot of potential to make a
positive impact domestically, regionally and internationally.
Air Zimbabwe has the potential to achieve the high standards comparable to
airlines in Africa such as Kenya Airways, South African Airways and
These airlines owe much of their success to making alliances with reputable
international airlines. For example, Ethiopian Airlines has an alliance with
Transworld Airlines while Kenya has, among others, an alliance with the
Royal Dutch Airlines (KLM).
The airlines feed into each other's routes, making travelling by passengers
Air Zimbabwe can do the same, particularly following the recent opening of
the Chinese tourist corridor. Creating alliances with airlines from China
will be a step in the right direction.
We now expect Air Zimbabwe management to stop making excuses and instead pay
off the outstanding debt within the shortest possible time in order to
return to the IATA Clearing House fold.
At a time when concerted efforts are being made to put the economy right and
encourage tourism and travel, Zimbabwe cannot afford to get it wrong or open
itself to unnecessary pressure that can be avoided through better planning.
Strategies Needed to Attract Youths Back to Zanu-PF
February 5, 2004
Posted to the web February 5, 2004
ZANU-PF is a representation of the nationalist struggle that emancipated
Zimbabwe from colonial and racist white rule.
This heritage makes it imperative to preserve the party, its ideals and its
principles to ensure that all young people of Zimbabwe subscribe to the
A considerable number of youths in Zimbabwe belong to the opposition
parties, or continue to live with no political ideology and orientation.
This is an undesirable situation, which exposes the nation to infiltration
by detractors, Western forces and Rhodesian forces, which are determined to
enforce neo-colonial rule in Zimbabwe.
Clear strategies are needed to attract young people back to the party, and
to provide proper orientation and political education.
It is essential during this time of economic challenges to produce new
cadres aligned with the cause and ideology of Zanu-PF.
An elementary question is: Who are the young people of Zimbabwe, and what
are their characteristics?
According to the 1992 Population Census, the youth population (age 10-30)
constituted about 43 percent of the total population of Zimbabwe.
It is, therefore, evident that youths constitute a majority of the
The census also found that females outnumbered males in a number of
With unemployment estimated at more than 70 percent, the majority of young
people in Zimbabwe have no occupation.
The limited capacities of the institutions of higher education and training
also mean that a large number of school-leavers would not have any form of
formal study or work to undertake after high school.
These masses of youths are the very people that Zanu-PF needs to attract to
its fold, despite the resentment that they may feel towards the State for
A major contributing factor for the anti-establishment feelings amongst
youths is that they have had no political ideology, and they do not
comprehend the greater struggles that Zimbabwe is engaged in as a nation.
They have no appreciation of the Western and Rhodesian efforts to rule
It is therefore essential, as an elementary imperative, for Zanu-PF to
undertake a large-scale political orientation and education exercise in all
corners of Zimbabwe, both at home and in the Diaspora.
This exercise needs to be targeted especially to the unemployed, the
desperate, the very youths who feel that life holds nothing for them.
They must be educated about Zimbabwe's history - the cruelty that our
forefathers were exposed to; the plundering of our national resources; the
struggles for independence.
They must be informed of the post-independence struggles, the empty promises
by the British, the misgivings of the IMF, the Rhodesian and Western
detractions, the land reform programme and the sanctions by the Western
They must be given correct political orientation - the Marxist-Leninist
ideology, socialism, emancipation, collective struggle and total defeat of
those opposed to our ideology.
In a nutshell, the youths of Zimbabwe need to understand why they are
suffering, why they must remain steadfast and how they can work towards
emancipation of the self, the community and the nation at large.
If thousands of young Zimbabweans were willing to offer their lives in our
Chimurenga struggles, what prevents the present generation from doing the
The challenge lies in the lack of structures that can employ the energies of
the youths, and channel them towards positive activities.
During the Second Chimurenga, proper structures existed for recruitment,
orientation, education, training and deployment of young people.
Given the urgency of the political and economic situation in Zimbabwe today,
why do these structures no longer exist?
Every idle youth in Zimbabwe should at least be given the option of
attending regular political orientation training and education free of
charge through the party structures.
The cell, branch and district structures of Zanu-PF, therefore, have an
important role to play in mobilising youths in their localities and
harnessing their energies towards the goals of the party.
Resources are not a question. Given a meeting venue, Zanu-PF structures may
organise regular discussions, dialogues, debates, meetings, lectures and
forums to educate the young people.
Once regular meetings are held, a planned assortment of lectures and
discussions would assist in the provision of requisite political and
This may be done under a tree, in a hall, in houses - just about any
The most important thing is to give the young people something positive to
occupy their minds with.
Once they have the proper orientation, these youths may then have a proper
mindset to view current challenges as temporary and surmountable.
They may then be urged to join forces to start micro-enterprises which can
result in employment creation and revenue generation for themselves.
The same unity of purpose that was evident in the Second Chimurenga must
also be achieved today in order to achieve success in the Third and any
future Chimurenga struggles.
Youths need to be given direction, they need to be given orientation and
education. They also need to be given the capacity to undertake and
implement projects and activities in line with their new ideologies.
If Zanu-PF is to recapture the hearts and minds of young people, it needs to
be at the centre of this equation, producing new and dedicated young cadres
who will be committed to the total emancipation of the country.
Time to Change Face of Fuel Retailing
February 5, 2004
Posted to the web February 5, 2004
I HAVE to confess that I've had the greatest sympathy for the local
representatives of globally-established oil companies because they've
operated in a strait jacket since time immemorial.
To get directly to the point, they haven't even been allowed to import their
own product yet they've been forced to retail refined oil products at prices
determined by the government.
Not only were the oil companies hamstrung in terms of achieving any profit,
but the fuel retailers were forced to survive on miniscule margins and put
up with all the flak that was an everyday function of the once endless fuel
queues. Now that the entire archaic procurement system has been exposed for
what it was — an abject failure — and the oil companies would appear to be
responsible for acquiring their own refined stock, the time has come to show
a new face to the long-suffering motorist.
Should any of you have traversed the great highways of Europe, you will have
noticed the magnificently presented service stations sporting manicured
lawns and gardens, properly surfaced and marked car parks, sparkling clean
toilets, spacious forecourts and in many instances, rather enticing shops.
Now given the circumstances outlined above, it's hardly fair to expect the
locally-based companies to match this sort of presentation, and in fairness,
some outlets, but not many, are very neatly presented and do offer shops
stocked mainly with convenience items.
However, there is no disputing that many outlets displaying international
brand identities are decidedly below par and cannot possibly comply with
laid-down standards. But this is Zimbabwe you see, and for some reason, it
appears consumers in this part of the world are expected to accept more or
less anything. I guess this is not over-surprising when there are rumoured
to be over 60 companies importing petroleum products, but I digress.
The real point of this article on fuel retailing is to demonstrate that we
are still living in Noah's Ark when it comes to knowing and identifying what
fuels are put into our tanks. Consider for example, that virtually every
petrol pump carries the misnomer "blend". Blend was the name given to the
misguided result of mixing refined petrol with ethanol derived from the
once-flourishing sugar industry. There has been no ethanol added to petrol
since Methuselah started shaving yet the description still persists. By the
letter of the law, I would guess that fuel retailers could be prosecuted for
selling product under false pretences. Certainly in England, they would have
been dead meat overnight.
Much more importantly, not one of us knows the slightest thing about the
technical specification of the fuel we now purchase at market-related
prices. While the motor manufacturers go to huge lengths to produce more
efficient engines which spew out fewer pollutants, the oil moguls of the
real world are busy in the laboratory revising the technical specifications
of fuels which are needed to maximise the efficiencies of these new engine
designs. (Remember it's not so much the unleaded fuel per se that results in
fewer pollutants but more the efficiency of the fuel burn and the
methodology employed to clean up the exhaust gases). In fact, some of these
new technology engines may well suffer catastrophic failure without these
In simple terms, the most important distinguishing points about petrol are
the octane rating and whether or not that octane level has been boosted
through the addition of tetraethyl lead. The sulphur content is also
relevant but not of such great importance. Octane ratings determine the
fuel's ability to burn and it's a fact of life that modern engines require
high octane fuel. By this, read an octane rating of between 97 and 99.
Many engines today have a higher compression ratio which provides greater
efficiency and lower pollutants. However, the higher compression leads to
greater heat production and a greater likelihood of pre-ignition or pinking
or knock, all of which can burn holes in pistons. High octane fuels help
pre-empt such problems.
In Zimbabwe, we don't have the vaguest idea of the octane level of the fuel
going into our tanks — most of us are probably saved by the altitude factor
which permits a diminution in octane requirements such that a sea level
figure of 98 could safely reduce to 95 at Harare's altitude. But beware the
ill effects of storming around Kariba or Beitbridge in the ultra hot, low
More problems though, are in store for motorists in the very near future as
direct injection is employed in more and more petrol-fed engines. At the
moment, VW/Audi leads the field with its FSI (fuel stratified injection)
motors. Again, in the most simplistic terms, fuel and air are no longer
mixed in a pre-chamber, but they're squirted directly into the cylinder
area. At low revs and under low load, the FSI principle allows a very lean
fuel burn which reduces emissions and greatly improves fuel efficiency and
ultimate power output. At wider throttle openings, a more normal fuel
mixture is maintained.
The point is that this hugely efficient injection/ignition regime rquires
the highest quality, low sulphur fuels. We don't have such a commodity — or
so it seems — which means that modern technology will have no part to play
in Zimbabwe because the car manufacturers simply won't allow their cars to
be sold here.
What makes matters even worse at local fuel outlets is that barely any of
them stock unleaded fuel of any composition. The pumps are in place at
certain stations but there's nothing in the underground tanks. This is
patently absurd as there's hardly a car made today which is not specifically
designed to run on unleaded fuel. While the rest of the world consigns
leaded fuel to history, Zimbabwe maintains an exclusive supply of the stuff
and ensures that catalytic converters fitted to "unleaded" cars are
progressivley poisoned and rendered useless. Given this situation, it would
be far too much to ask the fuel vendors precisely what octane rating applies
to the fuels presently on offer.
Throughout Europe, motorists are given a choice of unleaded fuels and this
is clearly displayed at the pumps which show the relevant octane ratings.
The situation with diesel is no better. If you look in your car handbook,
you'll find the manufacturer lists a minimum cetane rating for your specific
car. This rating is the diesel equivalent of "octane" but not one of you
would have the vaguest clue what has gone into your tank. Likewise, you
wouldn't know anything about the sulphur content, something that is becoming
of critical importance in terms of modern computer-controlled diesel
As usual, Europe leads the way and you'll find service stations everywhere
with plain old diesel and with clean-burn, low sulphur diesel. The fact is
that virtually every modern turbo diesel motor, if it's to last more than a
few phases of the moon, simply MUST be fed a diet of low sulphur diesel. The
stuff we get here is invariably of unknown origin, it is often dirty and is
known to block fuel filters, and you can be reasonably sure that it will be
laced with more sulphur than a million bad eggs.
The problem with sulphur is that it makes friends with water in the
combustion process and the two become sulphuric acid. Now you all know what
acid does and please note, acid is especially active in diesel motors which,
thanks to short trips, never reach proper operating temperature. I've known
of diesels losing compression, courtesy of worn bores, at distances as low
as 40 000 kms. The poor quality fuel also impairs ignition efficiency which
in turn leads to massive soot formation which in turn contaminates the
engine oil which in turn fails to lubricate properly.
It's all a tale of potential woe compounded by the introduction of fancy new
injection systems which now spray a fine pattern of fuel from multiple tiny
holes which are not at all partial to the agricultural diesel fuels we are
apparently served up with. And in case you think I'm exaggerating, consider
that VW's acclaimed Pumpe Duse (PD) injection system, even with the use of
low sulphur fuels, requires very, very special long life engine oil. This
oil is required to ensure that the fingers which operate each individual
injection pump from the camshaft, receive first class lubrication
notwithstanding the extra fuel contamination that diesel lubricants have to
The mind boggles at what could happen to these engines in this part of the
world, firstly because of the perceived low fuel quality, and secondly,
because I have not seen a single garage forecourt offering synthetic
lubricants specifically formulated for use in turbo-diesel engines.
If you've managed to stay with me up to this point, you will have gathered
that our fuel retailing system is decidedly outdated, that motorists do not
actually know the composition of the fuels they are paying for and that
little or no attention has been paid to the fuelling requirements of 21st
century engines. The truth is that the world does not stand still for
Zimbabwe and that the motorists of this country who pay over the odds to
acquire motorised transport, deserve much better.
So, let's see properly designated dispensing pumps which correctly state
what is being served up, let's see the widespread introduction of unleaded
fuel and let's see an effort to provide high quality, low sulphur diesel
fuel. And would it be too much to ask for the introduction of
modern-formulation synthetic or semi-synthetic lubricants formulated
specifically for new-tech turbo-diesels?
Finally, it would be nice to see a clean-up of forecourts and surrounds,
some, but not all of which, leave much to be desired
Army Company Set to Rake in Us$100m From Exports
February 5, 2004
Posted to the web February 5, 2004
ZIMBABWE Defence Industries (ZDI), the country's sole manufacturer of small
arms ammunition, said this week it expected to rake in US$100 million
(Z$82.4 billion) this year from exports of foodstuffs and non-lethal
products to the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).
In an interview, ZDI managing director Tshinga Dube said the company would
be exporting non-lethal items to the DRC such as foodstuffs, clothes
(bulletproof vests) and building materials.
"We have embarked on the programme because there is a huge market in that
central African country. Our feeling is that the export market is very
competitive," he said.
Dube said the company managed to secure contracts worth millions of dollars
from the DRC government and other private companies.
He said ZDI was geared to meet stiff competition from other investors who
have penetrated the DRC market.
South African President Thabo Mbeki recently led a delegation to the DRC to
explore new markets for South Africa's industries.
Dube said the government should intervene to assist local small and medium
scale entrepreneurs who want to export to the DRC.
He urged the government to set up a revolving fund under the Ministry of
Industry and International Trade.
ZDI is now self-sustaining and has managed to establish some markets in the
The ZDI was set up by the government in 1984 to manufacture ammunition and
military equipment for Zimbabwe's defence forces.
Moz trader shot at Zim border
05/02/2004 14:12 - (SA)
Maputo - Zimbabwean border guards have killed a Mozambican
trader and have
been beating up others returning from shopping sprees in the neighbouring
crisis-hit state, a government official said on state television late
Inacio Muchanga, administrator of the Changara district of the central Tete
province, said: "Zimbabwean soldiers have constantly assaulted our
countrymen and violently beat them to steal their purchases, and on December
17 a man ended up dying after being shot by the Zimbabweans."
Muchanga deplored the alleged incidents but called on the local population
to stay calm.
"We regret what is happening to our people knowing that many Zimbabweans,
some entering the country illegally, have been roaming freely on our
territory," he said.
This is the second time since the economic and political crisis hit Zimbabwe
that Maputo has accused Zimbabwean border guards of molesting its citizens.
Mozambican traders flock to Zimbabwe where they can buy things at very cheap
rates, despite sky-high inflation, owing to the huge disparity in the
official and black market rates for the dollar and the South African rand.
Sales of locally-produced sugar in Mozambique have dropped drastically due
to illegal imports from Zimbabwe.
This article was edited by Shannon
Mail and Guardian
Zanu-PF key by-election 'rigged'
05 February 2004 13:37
President Robert Mugabe's
Zimbabwe African National Union - Patriotic Front
(Zanu-PF) has retained the parliamentary constituency seat held by former
vice president Simon Muzenda who died last year, Zimbabwean state radio
reported on Wednesday.
Retired air marshal Josiah Tungamirai of Zanu-PF polled 20 699 votes against
7 291 for Crispa Musoni of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) in the
two-day by-election which the opposition claimed was rigged.
The MDC has alleged electoral fraud, saying the ruling party had included
about 7 000 people from other constituencies on the Gutu North voters' roll.
Some 59 390 people were eligible to vote in the Gutu by-election, but fewer
than 30 000 had voted by the end of polling on Tuesday.
The Zimbabwe Election Support Network (ZESN), a coalition of 38 independent
civic groupings, observed the polling and said voting was conducted in
It expressed concern, however, over vote-buying after a Zanu-PF official was
seen distributing the staple maize grain on the first day of polling, an
"action which is tantamount to vote-buying".
It also observed that a group of European Union and Norwegian diplomats were
"temporarily delayed entry into a polling station".
"Equally worrying", ZESN said, was the role of village heads who were seen
taking down names of voters as they entered the polling stations.
The MDC now holds 53 of the 150 seats in parliament, following the death on
Tuesday of lawmaker David Mpala from alleged torture wounds. - Sapa-AFP