|Food shortages threaten
A corn meal shortage in Zimbabwe has lead to scuffles among the hundreds of
people queuing outside a Harare shop for the food stuff.
Police guarded the doors of the store to prevent it being swamped by a
swelling crowd after it received its first delivery of corn meal for several
Supermarket managers said most shops received their last corn deliveries two
weeks ago and more crowds were expected once stocks were replenished.
Police allowed small groups of people inside the store at a time, and
rationed each person to one 22 pound bag of meal, about a three day's supply of
the staple food for an average family of four, until the shelves were bare.
The shortages have been caused by violent disruptions of farm production
since March 2000 that have triggered the country's worst economic crisis since
independence in 1980.
Zimbabwe has usually been self-sufficient and a food exporter but now need to
import 200,000 tons of corn to make up for shortfalls in domestic
Acute hard currency shortages, which have already caused severe shortages of
petrol, medicines and other essential imports, are expected to hinder food
The World Food Programme has appealed for £37 million from international
donors to feed 558,000 rural Zimbabweans in need of immediate aid.
Zim cops guard food lines
Harare - Hundreds of people scuffled and
jostled for places in a rowdy line
outside a food store in downtown Harare on
Friday, as a shortage of the
maize staple began to grip the
Police guarded the doors of the store to prevent it from being
swamped by a
swelling crowd after it received its first delivery of maize
The scene was the first noticed in the city
centre since food shortages
began in December. Supermarket managers said most
shops received their last
maize deliveries two weeks ago and more crowds were
expected once stocks
Police allowed small groups of
people inside the store at a time, and
rationed each person to one 10kg bag
of maize meal, about a three-day's
supply of the staple for an average family
of four, until the shelves were
The shortages have mostly been
caused by violent disruptions of farm
production since March 2000, that have
triggered the country's worst
economic crisis since independence in
Earlier this week, the state Grain Marketing Board said the first
trucks carrying emergency grain bought from neighbouring South
arriving at the border town of Beit Bridge.
'No need to
Zimbabwe used to be self-sufficient and an exporter. Food imports
needed during a devastating drought in 1992, when food lines like
were last seen.
The grain board said 200 000 tons of mostly
maize was now being imported to
make up for shortfalls in domestic production
ahead of sharply contested
presidential elections scheduled for March
There was "no need to panic", said Justin Mutasa, the board's
director. Unprocessed maize was being imported and it would be
distributed from provincial centres across the country.
cost of food imports was initially estimated at about $40 million.
Famine Early Warning Unit in the Agriculture Ministry warned in December
an "imminent food security crisis" that would require imports of 300 000
of maize to avert starvation by the end of March.
The total deficit in
maize and other cereals in this year's harvests would
likely be about 850 000
tons, including a shortage of some 600 000 tons of
the maize staple worth
about $120 million.
Brisk black market
Acute hard currency
shortages, which have already caused severe shortages of
and other essential imports, are expected to hinder
The first delivery of 5 200 tons of UN famine relief
arrived in Zimbabwe
The World Food Programme has appealed
for $60 million from international
donors to feed 558 000 rural Zimbabweans
in need of immediate aid.
Zimbabwe's 13 million people consume about 5
000 tons of maize a day, with
additional low grade stocks needed to feed
Food shortages have led to a brisk black market in maize and
commodities since the government announced a price freeze on basic
Local producers of maize meal, cooking oil, milk
and other controlled goods
say fixed prices have made production uneconomic
and have forced them to
Food shortages, spurring
official or unofficial price increases, have in the
past triggered food
Ruling party militants began occupying white-owned farms two years
demanding they be redistributed to landless blacks.
officials and opposition activists, however, say the
party has transformed the farms into bases for a
campaign of terror against
black and white supporters of the opposition
Movement for Democratic Change
in rural areas.
The increasingly unpopular President Robert Mugabe (77)
is fighting for his
political survival in the March election where he faces a
tight race against
opposition candidate Morgan Tsvangirai (49). -
Mugabe 'set on thwarting' poll observers
Dempsey in Caceres, Spain
Published: February 8 2002
President Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe is doing everything
possible to disrupt
the work of European Union electoral observers, despite
the threat of
sanctions, diplomats said on Friday.
With a month to go
before elections, only a handful of EU observers has
arrived, Mr Mugabe has
blacklisted several European countries' observers and
accreditation for those
who have arrived has been slow.
Diplomats attending the informal meeting
of EU foreign ministers in Caceres,
Spain, said Mr Mugabe had excluded five
EU countries from those sending
observers: the Netherlands, Britain, Germany,
Denmark and Sweden.
The EU, however, has chosen Pierre Schori, Sweden's
ambassador to the United
Nations, to head the European team of observers. It
is still unclear,
however, whether Mr Schori will be allowed into the country
and, if he is,
whether he will receive accreditation.
said it was next to useless if observers were allowed in but
were not be free
to travel the country, see the polling booths and have
and transport. The fact that observers are being sent
so late has made their
task more difficult.
Chris Patten, the EU's external affairs
commissioner, who is attending the
foreign ministers' meeting, has repeatedly
said Mr Mugabe would put many
obstacles in the way of free and fair
elections, despite the threat of
A Commission official said
there was hardly any point in continuing with
consultations tied to article
96 of the EU's Cotonou Agreement. The
consultations were designed to give
both sides the chance to find ways to
reinstate the rule of law in Zimbabwe,
stop the political violence and end
Britain comes to Zim's aid
Harare - Britain on Friday
gave £6 million ($8.5 million, €9.7 million) to
the United Nations to provide
urgently needed aid to avert a humanitarian
disaster in Zimbabwe, the UN and
The funds, which account for more than 10% of
Zimbabwe's total emergency aid
requirements for 2002, have been allocated
despite sour relations between
the two countries, and come as Zimbabwe stands
on the brink of a potentially
"Zimbabwe needs urgent
international humanitarian assistance," said Victor
Angelo, the UN resident
co-ordinator in Harare.
"Zimbabwe's staple maize is in seriously short
supply. National and
household reserves are nearly depleted. Retail outlets
are often without
stock," said the Southern African Development Community
(SADC) Food Security
Network in its latest newsletter.
African country normally produces a surplus of food, but this
year it has
suffered a massive shortage of staple grains, caused by erratic
national economic downturn, sharp rises in food prices, and
commercial farming by the government's land reforms.
Prices of basic commodities have shot up sharply, pushing the
inflation rate for 2001 to 112%.
"Food and basic commodities
shortages, health and social services are
over-stretched and require urgent
national action and support from the
international community," said the
The British aid "represents an important contribution to the $83
appeal launched (for Zimbabwe) in December 2001," the UN
Assistance and Recovery Programme (Harp) for Zimbabwe said in a
In addition to the aid pledged on Friday, Britain has in
allocated some £8 million ($11 million, €13 million) for
and food aid programmes run by non-governmental
organisations in Zimbabwe.
The British high commissioner (ambassador) to
Harare, Brian Donnelly, said
his country's aid to Zimbabwe, which will amount
to £18 million ($25
million, €29 million) by the close of the financial year
ending in March,
highlights Britain's commitment to
England's long-term commitment
background of sometimes fevered speculation about the role of
Britain in this
country, I think this is the best and most reliable
indication of the
genuine, long-term commitment for the people of Zimbabwe
and their future
well-being," said Donnelly at a ceremony to officially hand
over the aid
funds to the UN in Harare.
Diplomatic relations between Zimbabwe and its
former colonial power Britain
have been strained in recent years with London
waging an international
campaign to imposed targeted sanctions on President
Robert Mugabe and his
entourage in protest over his policies.
Foreign Minister Jack Straw was also behind a campaign to have
expelled from the Commonwealth - a move barred by Botswana,
Bangladesh and Malaysia.
Mugabe has, in turn, accused Britain of
bankrolling the main opposition
party, the Movement for Democratic Change
(MDC), in an alleged bid to oust
him from power and reinstate colonial
Meanwhile, local independent media
reported on Friday that villagers in
parts of the country were
The Zimbabwe Independent reported that at least two people are
starvation every week as the southern African country faced a
than that which accompanied the 1992 drought", said to be the
devastating to hit southern Africa last century.
And the Daily
News reported: "Hundreds of children in rural Matabeleland
North have dropped
out of school as starvation stalks the district, with
children collapsing due
The UN's World Food Programme in December called for $60
million) to feed more than half a million Zimbabweans whose
seriously threatened by food shortages.
The SADC said the
response to Zimbabwe's international emergency appeal has
been slow, while
the UN said negotiations were still under way with some key
donors that had
expressed interest in helping Zimbabwe. - Sapa-AFP
Militia seize hundreds of ID
THE Public Order and Security
Act, which compels people to carry their identity cards, is being abused by
marauding Zanu PF militias to confiscate cards belonging to suspected members of
the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), the Zimbabwe Independent
has established. The ID card seizures throughout the country are
spearheaded by National Youth Service trainees, war veterans, councillors and
headmen. It is believed the seizure of IDs is part of a wider Zanu PF strategy
to disenfranchise opposition voters ahead of the March 9/10 presidential
Police spokesperson Tarwirei Tirivavi confirmed that a large number of
people had lost their ID cards.
"We received reports from Mutoko that unknown persons moving around in a
4X4 Toyota vehicle seized 500 identity particulars and we are investigating the
matter," said Tirivavi.
MDC secretary-general Welshman Ncube on Wednesday said his party
supporters wouldn't be able to vote if they were unable to recover their cards.
"The confiscation of IDs has been stepped up in many parts of the country
to ensure the process is completed before regional and international election
observers are on the ground," Ncube said.
In Buhera North Ward 3 Linda Moyo lost her identity particulars in a
late-night raid on her home.
"Zanu PF youths ordered me to come out of my house naked after
threatening to bomb me inside. They assaulted me on my private parts accusing me
of giving birth to MDC supporters who would sell the country to the British.
"They seized my identity particulars and told me I was not going to vote
since I was a known MDC supporter," said a tearful Moyo.
Illegal roadblocks mounted by Zanu PF militias are also used as a trap to
confiscate ID cards from those who fail to chant Zanu PF slogans or cannot
produce the new-look party card.
MDC supporters blame the police for their refusal to act.
"The perpetrators of violence in Ward 3 are well known," said Michael
Muronda, an MDC activist who has fled to Harare after losing his identity
particulars to the militia.
Ncube said Matabeleland provinces had also been affected.
"In Sipepa Ward 8, the raids are being conducted by Councillor Leonard
Nkomo, armed men including Central Intelligence Organisation operatives, war
veterans and Zanu PF youths," said Ncube. "At least 50 people lost their IDs
last week in one of numerous raids that are now a permanent feature in
Tsholotsho. In Gwelutshena village in Nkayi 10 people lost their IDs."
Zanu PF divided over mayoral
Augustine Mukaro / Blessing
THE ruling Zanu PF is sharply
divided over the choice of candidate for the mayoral election in Harare.
Party sources said the politburo, which effectively selects candidates for
Zanu PF, tried and failed this week to settle the vexed election issue.
Although primary elections last weekend were won by former MP and
businessman James Makamba, the party leadership remains divided over his choice.
The situation has been further thrown into disarray by Makamba's withdrawal from
the race because of business commitments.
It appears he was also unhappy about the party's opaque approach to
candidate selection. Another explanation from Zanu PF sources who spoke to the
Zimbabwe Independent this week was that Makamba was ruled out because he could
not produce an "O" level certificate.
He is a former Rhodesian Broadcasting Corporation disk jockey.
In 1996 and 1999 Makamba won primaries for the mayoral race but was
barred by the party leadership from standing.
Other potential candidates are former mayor Charles Tawengwa, Zanu PF
Harare provincial secretary, Chris Mutsvangwa, Zimpapers chair and banker Enock
Kamushinda and Zanu PF Harare provincial chair Amos Midzi.
Over the weekend Makamba emerged from the inter-district elections a
clear winner with 1 600 votes ahead of Mutsvangwa (300 votes), Tawengwa (180)
and Kamushinda (160).
"When the elections were conducted Makamba was in South Africa and when
he came back he was informed he was the party candidate but he refused," a
source said. The party is also struggling to find councillors.
"Selection of candidates is a rigorous process which needs clearly laid
down structures but Zanu PF's dilemma is that their prospective candidates have
developed cold feet and are turning down the offers," another source said.
Meanwhile, opposition MDC spokesman Learnmore Jongwe confirmed his party
finalised all its candidates for Harare.
MDC mayoral candidate Elias Mudzuri, a former city council engineer for
13 years, said he was confident of victory.
S.African Poll Observers to Go to Zimbabwe in
February 08, 2002 06:05 AM ET
CAPE TOWN (Reuters) -
The South African government will send a team of
observers to Zimbabwe within
a week to try to help make the March 9-10
presidential elections free and
fair, President Thabo Mbeki said on Friday.
The South African Observer
Mission would be drawn from different sectors of
society, he said. South
Africa's parliament is preparing to dispatch its own
the mission and the conditions that our teams seek to create are
one and one
only: let the people of Zimbabwe speak through the ballot box!"
parliament in Cape Town in his annual state of the nation speech.
not say what South Africa, the continent's economic and political
would do if it deemed the polls were unfair and not free.
He made no
criticism of President Robert Mugabe, whose campaign to extend
rule has been condemned by the opposition and rights groups, as
well as by
former colonial power Britain, as violent and repressive.
Human Rights Non-Governmental Organizations Forum said this
politically motivated murders were recorded in January, the highest
toll since it began logging incidents two years ago.
Mbeki, who has come
under fire at home for what critics say has been a
softly-softly approach to
Mugabe, said it was in all Zimbabweans' interest
to ensure the government
emerging from the March polls was seen to be
of stability in our region we will work tirelessly to support
the people of
Zimbabwe in their quest to hold free and fair elections," he
South African Observer Mission will be headed by Sam Motsuenyane, a
ambassador to Saudi Arabia and a prominent member of Mbeki's ruling
South Africa is also set to participate in
Commonwealth, Organization of
African Unity and regional SADC observer
The European Union is sending observers but like the Commonwealth
accepted Mugabe's condition that Britons must not be
Mbeki said South Africa would press on in 2002 with its drive
Africa's development in partnership with wealthy nations.
said his government would continue to challenge "afro-pessimism." In
some observers saw as an oblique allusion to the 77-year-old Mugabe,
attacked the "undeclared doctrine of collective punishment against
Africans that seems to come into effect when one or some among our
Zimbabwe Revokes Feingold's Visa
Friday February 8,
2002 2:00 AM
WASHINGTON (AP) - The government of Zimbabwe canceled a
travel permit for
Sen. Russ Feingold on Thursday, saying the lawmaker's
scheduled visit would
interfere with the nation's preparation for an
Feingold, D-Wis., a member of the Senate Foreign Relations
planned to visit Zimbabwe later this month to educate himself
pre-election process, according to his office.
received a letter from the Zimbabwe Embassy informing him that
visa was being
withdrawn and that the time ``period would not be ideal for
your visit as
most government officials are tied down with preparations for
Feingold said the Zimbabwe government is acting as though it
``The regime in Harare has shown that it is
willing to destroy the
Zimbabwean economy, to violently repress the Zimbabwe
people, to harass the
press and to undermine the rule of law,'' Feingold
Zimbabwe has been in a state of political unrest for many
Human rights groups believe that 16 people died in political
month in Zimbabwe, the most in two years of violence that the
blames on supporters of President Robert Mugabe's ruling
Most of the recent violence in the southern African country has
activists of the ruling party and the opposition. The opposition
that police have not arrested or pursued ruling party activists
of involvement in political killings.
Mugabe opponents' convoy ambushed
By Peta Thornycroft in
PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe's opponents
came under greater pressure yesterday
when two opposition MPs and 40
supporters were ambushed, shot at and
arrested while travelling in rural
The latest incident in the official campaign against the
for Democratic Change came after two of the party's
supporters were murdered
in three days.
It coincided with the release
of a human rights report that documented more
political killings in January
than in any month since detailed records began
two years ago.
Zimbabwe's presidential election due on March 9 and 10, President
Nigeria delivered the strongest warning to Mr Mugabe yet heard
African leader. He told the Zimbabwean leader that Africa would not
to stage an unfair election.
Peter Nyoni, the MDC MP for Hwange East, and
Abednico Bhebhe, the MP for
Nkayi, and 40 supporters and party officials were
on a campaign tour aboard
a convoy of vehicles when they were attacked 300
miles south-west of Harare,
an MDC statement said.
Zimbabwe Opposition makes police torture
Zimbabwe's Opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) claims
its senior politicians have been tortured by police.
were reportedly attacked near the southern city of Bulawayo.
Opposition politicians were travelling in a convoy when they were
The MDC says the men were then tortured by the police officers
Human rights activists say violence is
increasing in the lead up to
Zimbabwe's presidential election.
Zimbabwean Human Rights Forum says 16 people have been murdered in
unrest in the past month.
The group, which includes local representatives
from Amnesty International,
says the election campaign has begun amid a
climate of fear and terror.
But the government says it is containing the
Red-Tape Slows Down Privatisation Process
February 8, 2002
Posted to the web February 8, 2002
BUREAUCRACY in government corridors has slowed down the
privatisation process expected to raise about $40 billion by year-end, it has
been learnt. Analysts say although the Privatisation Agency of Zimbabwe (PAZ),
established to spearhead the disposal of government shareholding in several
companies, quickly works out modalities to speed up the process, it takes ages
before the inter-ministerial committee on commercialisation and privatisation of
public enterprises and cabinet to approve PAZ's recommendations.
"It takes time for those in high office to make a decision,
even on issues which are straight forward," one analyst said.
He said the delay in the process would result in PAZ failing
to raise the targeted $40 billion as announced by Finance minister Simba Makoni
in his 2002 budget speech. Last year PAZ only raised $7 billion which falls far
short of the targeted $28 billion.
The money is needed to repay both domestic and foreign
PAZ had lined up Olivine Industries, Caps Holdings and the
former Posts and Telecommunications Corporation for speedy privatisation early
this year but this has not yet been finalised. Indications were that it would
take long before government disposed of its shareholding.
Investors keen to buy government's shareholding in Caps have
already submitted their bids. The bids are still to be closed, sources said. The
situation has also been worsened by the fact that government officials are
positioning themselves to grab some of the state assets. Among the enterprises
where chefs are understood to be having interests is the PTC.
International investor, Telekom Malaysia among other local
investors, has shown interest to acquire government's equity in the former
However, government has lately adopted a cautious approach
towards the exercise and announced its intention to dispose of only 30% of its
shareholding in the PTC.
The cash-strapped government unbundled PTC this year
following the passing of the Postal and Telecommunications Act in September
This effectively meant that the three business units began
operating as individual commercial entities operating under the Companies
Tel*One is the successor company of the telecommunications
arm of PTC, while the mobile telecommunications operator is Net*One. Zimpost
took over the postal services functions.
Analysts say that the unbundling exercise has increased
value in the business units and the government could raise billions from its 30%
NCA urges electorate to vote for
THE National Constitutional
Assembly (NCA) has urged the electorate to vote for the opposition Movement for
Democratic Change in the watershed presidential election in the hope a new
government will accept its demands for a review of the constitution.
Government has refused to accept the civic group's draft constitution
saying it had more pressing issues to attend to.
NCA chairman, Lovemore Madhuku yesterday told journalists that voting for
the opposition was part of a new drive in their efforts to remove President
Robert Mugabe's government from power.
"If the election does not deliver change, the NCA will continue with mass
action for a new dispensation," said Madhuku, adding that civic groups were
looking for a government which accepted the demands of the people.
He said although the NCA had set a timetable to have a new constitution
ready before the March presidential poll, it was no longer realistic as more
attention was focused on the poll.
Madhuku said his organisation was not developing cold feet but saw the
election as another opportunity to remove the government, which continuously
denied them the right to devise a new constitution.
He said in pursuance to the resolution of March 11, 2001 at an
all-stakeholders conference, the NCA was going to stage mass peaceful
processions in Mutare, Harare, Bulawayo, Masvingo and Gweru next Friday.
The processions would all lead to the provincial offices of the Ministry
of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs where marchers would dump copies of
the final draft constitution to symbolise the handing over of the document to
The civic group added its voice in denouncing state-sanctioned political
violence as well as the passing of draconian and repressive pieces of
"We must guard against pieces of legislation introduced to try and
protect Mugabe's stay in power and those which muzzle civic movements like the
intended Labour Bill," said Madhuku.
The NCA this week filed a High Court application against government's
refusal to receive its draft constitution.
Sadc misled over Information
GOVERNMENT duped the Southern
African Development Community (Sadc) ministerial taskforce on Zimbabwe and South
African President Thabo Mbeki over bi-partisan support for the Access to
Information and Protection of Privacy Bill. Information at hand
shows Zimbabwe authorities misled the task force into reporting back to regional
leaders, including Mbeki and Sadc chair Bakili Muluzi, that the Bill whose
future now looks uncertain was passed "unanimously" by parliament.
Observers said it was not the first time this has happened. Harare
successfully misrepresented the local situation to the taskforce last December
and went on to repeat the trick during the Sadc summit in Malawi last month.
The taskforce was in Zimbabwe last week to witness nomination of
presidential election candidates and update itself on local developments.
Diplomatic sources said the team was misled on media laws. This has put
Mbeki and his colleagues in an invidious position in dealing with President
Mbeki's spokesman Bheki Khumalo said his boss was told by his Labour
minister Membathisi Mdladlana who represents South Africa on the task force the
Bill was passed "with the support of the opposition".
"The president was told by members of the taskforce the opposition
supported the Bill," Khumalo said. "If political parties in Zimbabwe agreed on
the Bill who are we to interfere?"
Mbeki this week told the World Economic Forum in New York the Bill was
"When the parliament of Zimbabwe passed the media Bill, a South African
cabinet minister was in Zimbabwe and had informed me that the Bill had been
unanimously adopt-ed without dissent," he said.
However, Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) secretary-general Welshman
Ncube said it was misleading to claim the opposition supported the authoritarian
"That is not correct to say we supported the Bill," Ncube said. "We
support- ed the amendments negotiated between the Minister of Justice (Patrick
Chinamasa) and the parliamentary legal committee. It's really ridiculous for
anyone to suggest we supported the Bill."
Ncube, who is a member of the Edison Zvobgo-led parliamentary legal
committee which tore apart the draconian legislation last week, said there is
evidence the MDC opposed the Bill to the end.
"Anyone who actually wants to know our position on the Bill should read
Mansard (official report of parliamentary debates)," he said. "It is clear that
our MPs such as (Tendayi) Biti, (David) Coltart, (Priscillah) Misihairambwi,
(Innocent) Gonese and others opposed the Bill during debate. Sadc leaders have
been grossly misinformed."
The Bill was passed by acclamation after the MDC failed to call for a
division. Ncube said it would have been futile to do so "because we were
Zimbabwe faces famine
ZIMBABWE is faced with a famine
worse than that which accompanied the 1992 drought as a combination of poor
rains and reduced crop output due to the fast- track land reform exercise take
their toll. Shortages of basic commodities are now widespread
owing to poor harvests last year.
Diplomatic sources this week said the United Nations Development
Programme (UNDP) had already sent out distress calls to aid organisations to
anticipate an impending humanitarian crisis around mid-year. Donors have however
been unwilling to support the World Food Programme's US$60 million appeal for
Farmer organisations the Commercial Farmers Union, the Zimbabwe Farmers
Union and the Indigenous Commercial Farmers Union have forecast that Zimbabwe
will this season reap 800 000 tonnes of maize, well short of the 2,4 million
required to feed the population between harvests and 150 000 tonnes short of the
UNDP forecast of 950 000 tonnes.
Zimbabwe consumes around 150 000 tonnes of maize a month and the forecast
harvest will only last five months.
Agricultural experts this week said if no significant rainfall was
recorded over the weekend at least half of the maize crop in the communal and
resettlement areas would be a write-off. The northern part of the country,
comprising the maize belt, has not received rainfall over the past three weeks.
Even without the poor rainfall this year, yields were expected to go down
because of reduced hectarage in the commercial sector due to land redistribution
and lack of inputs in the resettlement and small-scale farming areas.
The newly-resettled farmers do not have the capacity to irrigate the
wilting maize crop due to high electricity costs. Key infrastructure like pumps
and pipes have either been vandalised or stolen after farm occupations.
In the communal areas, farmers cannot secure fertiliser for maize, which
is already tasselling.
As maize trickles into the country, the possibility of a crisis, which
government has tried to play down, has become a reality as mealie-meal has
disappeared from shop shelves. At least two people are dying of starvation every
In 1992 Zimbabwe produced just over 600 000 tonnes of maize and was
forced to import about three-quarters of its food requirements. Sources this
week said the WFP had secured funding for only 13 000 tonnes for starving
Zimbabweans amid fears that the United Nations body is contemplating revising
down its original plan to feed 500 000 people in 12 months.
Sources said the WFP had already told its implementing partners to avail
food rations to only five people per household instead of the original plan to
feed each individual. The WFP has also left out a number of stressed districts
which had originally been targeted for assistance.
The scaling down of operations by the WFP will put a further strain on
Zimbabwe's food supply situation as the movement of imported maize is too slow
to help. Zimbabwe has imported 160 000 tonnes of maize from South Africa on an
ex-silo basis which has led to logistical headaches for the Grain Marketing
Experts say it would take at least three months to move maize from SA to
the most needy.
MDC vows to continue
THE Movement for Democratic
Change (MDC) says it will continue to hold mass meetings despite the disruptions
and violence perpetrated by Zanu PF supporters ahead of the March 9/10
presidential poll. Secretary-general Welshman Ncube told the
Zimbabwe Independent that they would not halt campaign rallies despite the
"Let them disrupt our rallies or occupy our venues or even kill our
members and our leadership, but we will not stop holding campaign rallies,"
The resolution by the opposition party comes after a number of its
rallies were aborted when Zanu PF supporters either violently disrupted them or
occupied the venues.
A fortnight ago war veterans and youth militias invaded White City
stadium in Bulawayo a day before an MDC rally that was to be addressed by the
party leader Morgan Tsvangirai.
"Instead of interrupting our rallies, Zanu PF should be holding its own
and urging its people to desist from disturbing us," Ncube said.
He said the party was also using a variety of means of getting to the
electorate currently besieged by Zanu PF's violent campaign.
"Since most rural areas have been declared no-go areas for opposition
supporters, we have resorted to a wide range of campaign strategies that include
distributing campaign material secretly and holding small targeted group
meetings with church, traditional and other opinion leaders," he said.
Ncube said police had embarked on a systematic strategy to arrest all MDC
district leaders by the time the presidential election was held on spurious
charges under the controversial Public Order and Security Act.
"Our activists have been beaten up, campaign material seized and fake
roadblocks set up, but we will not give up on campaigning and nothing will stop
our working towards change," said Ncube.
Terror bases unlawful says
THE setting up of military-style
bases by Zanu PF is illegal as it violates the newly-enacted Public Order and
Security Act (POSA), the Zimbabwe Independent has been told.
Attorney-General Andrew Chigovera said it was unlawful to set up
bases for the purpose of committing political violence as it breached POSA.
The arrival of international monitors in the country has not deterred the
ruling party from continuing with its terror campaign, now being launched from
various bases in each province, mostly occupied farms.
"If these bases are used for peaceful political campaigns there is no
violation of POSA, but once political parties use them for launching terror
campaigns then that becomes un- lawful, especially if they carry weapons around
and train youths for assaulting their opponents," said Chigovera.
MDC secretary-general Welshman Ncube, a law professor, concurred.
"It is unlawful to train the youths in any form of military tactics as it
violates POSA," said Ncube.
"It is quite clear that Zanu PF does not respect the law that it enacts.
We have indicated this to the Minister of Home Affairs and he has kept on
promising to meet us," Ncube said.
Zanu PF is currently training youths in every province and has set up
bases which are being used as springboards for violence against opposition
The youths complement the official 974 trained at the Border Gezi
Training Centre in Mt Darwin.
Serving and ex-members of the Zimbabwe National Army are training the
youths in Mt Darwin. Those involved include Retired Brigadier Boniface
Hurungudu, the deputy director of the centre who operates from Zanu PF head-
quarters, and Colonel Josphat Shumba of the ZNA, a former director of Military
The latest revelations come in the wake of claims in government-owned
papers that the MDC is preparing for war and has established bases in
Mozambique, Botswana, South Africa and Uganda.
Three of the seven MDC members who were arrested and accused of
undergoing military training in 2001 have been released and four members,
Anderson Yotamu, Zebedia Mungofa, Perence Saunyama and David Chipunza, are still
on remand but out of custody.
Army deployed to supervise poll
THE Zanu PF government is taking
further steps to consolidate its management of the forthcoming presidential poll
by deploying thousands of military and intelligence officers to supervise the
process. This week, the Zimbabwe Independent established that the
newly-appointed Electoral Supervisory Commission chief executive officer,
Douglas Nyikayaramba, is a serving brigadier in the Zimbabwe National Army based
at Defence headquarters. He had earlier been reported as retired.
Asked if Nyikayaramba was still serving in the force, army spokesman Col
Mbonisi Gatsheni yesterday said:
"I do not comment on those things. You can call him at his office...at
Defence Headquarters (KG VI Barracks)."
The ESC has recruited officers from Kabrit Barracks in Harare to train
monitors and more from other military bases will be taken on in the coming
Sources at Defence House in Harare said there was now a close working
relationship between the military, the Central Intelligence Organisation and the
Sources said military officers based at Defence House and Defence
Headquarters had also started to work on the logistics for the election. The
army will be in charge of the transportation of ballot papers and ballot boxes
to and from polling at 5 400 centres.
Of major concern is the recent legislation which prohibits monitors from
accompanying ballot boxes.
"This means that each party now needs 5 000 cars to follow each ballot
box as it is transported from a polling centre to the counting centres and that
is practically not possible at the moment," said MDC secretary-general Welshman
"Monitors are supposed to be independent people who can correct
anomalies. These regulations are part of the machinery to come up with a
fraudulent election," said Ncube.
The prominent role of the army in the conduct of next month's election
comes amid reports that Zimbabwe has started a phased withdrawal of troops from
the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Military sources this week said a total of 3 000 men are being withdrawn
over the next few weeks. The soldiers are coming into the country by road
through the northern border post of Chirundu and are camping at Domboshawa prior
to being moved to various military bases in the country.
Military sources said Zimbabwe wanted to ensure that key officers were in
the country ahead of the March election.
In written responses to the Independent this week, Col Gatsheni said the
ZDF currently had 8 000 troops in the DRC and was currently working with the
United Nations observer mission (MONUC) to verify troops reduction.
"At the moment the ZDF is in the process of clearing and booking with the
UN through MONUC for verification of its troops reduction from the DRC," said
Gatsheni. "So please be patient the details of troops withdrawal will be made
available to the press."
Citrus crop down 60%
CITRUS production is projected
to fall by 60% in the current year as a direct result of land invasions and
maximum farm size legislation. Shortages have started to appear in
a number of supermarkets as fruits such as apples, pears, peaches, and
granadillas are becoming scarce or deteriorating in quality. The Zimbabwe
Independent reported last week that other fresh produce was disappearing from
Supermarkets in and around the capital this week confirmed that some of
their regular suppliers of deciduous fruits were failing to meet their orders,
citing work stoppages and uncertainty after the gazetting of their properties.
"The prices of the few fruits we have at the moment have skyrocketed to
beyond the reach of ordinary people at a time when there should be an
abundance," a floor supervisor at Bon Marche said this week.
The Deciduous Fruit Producers Association (DFPA) said a number of their
members had received Section 8 notification and others have been notified that
their estates would be reduced in size to meet new government legislation, a
move which has seriously affected output.
"If a farmer is dealing in fruits which need to be replanted constantly,
such as granadillas, you can't use the same land because of the threat of
diseases. If the estate size is reduced, there won't be anywhere to put the new
plants and old orchards will not be very productive," DFPA said. Staff
US goes ahead with
THE United States has said it is
in the process of imposing travel sanctions on Zimbabwean leaders to signal its
disapproval of tough new media and security laws. Secretary of
State Colin Powell issued the latest rebuke to the government of President
Robert Mugabe on Wednesday during an appearance before the International
Relations Committee of the House of Representatives.
"The travel sanctions are in a process of being imposed, I am not sure
whether they have been imposed or not, but we are certainly going to use the
legislation as provided to us," Powell said.
The US Congress last year passed the Zimbabwe Democracy and Economic
Recovery Act, which allows for targeted sanctions against people identified as
responsible for political violence in the country.
Washington had previously said it was only considering implementing the
legislation, and was consulting on punitive measures with partners in Britain
Powell was speaking a week after Zimbabwe's parliament passed a tough law
limiting the freedom of the independent and foreign press ahead of a crucial
The law requires journalists to seek accreditation every year from a
panel handpicked by Information Minister Jonathan Moyo, which has wide-ranging
powers of discretion.
Foreigners are already unable to work full-time in Zimbabwe.
The law forbids journalists from reporting on meetings of the cabinet or
other government bodies and those who violate its provisions face stiff fines
and up to two years in prison. AFP.
Police raid widow's home
IN what appears to be a blatant
political case, police on Wednesday searched the home of an elderly widow in
Borrowdale claiming it was a nerve centre for the opposition Movement for
Democratic Change (MDC). Eye-witnesses and neighbours who spoke to
the Zimbabwe Independent said they were "shocked" to see police officers
searching the premises, apparently looking for evidence that MDC rallies were
being held at the house.
It is understood they found no evidence of any MDC materials or regalia
at the house which is looked after by a domestic worker and his wife while the
owner is in Cape Town receiving medical attention.
"We were surprised to hear that rallies were held at the house because
since I started guarding the place next door, I have never heard of any
rallies," said a security guard working near the house.
He confirmed police officers searched the premises on Wednesday
"First to arrive was one police officer who was later accompanied by
others who came in a blue Defender with a white top," said one eyewitness.
Assistant Inspector Matongorera at Borrowdale police station said he
could not comment on the search. Staff Writer.