HARARE - President Robert Mugabe and his 30-strong delegation, flatly
refused to travel in one of the accident-prone MA60 Chinese planes to
Malaysia for his annual holiday, aviation sources confirmed this week.
Mugabe, who left the capital two weeks ago, chartered a 197-seater Air
Zimbabwe B767 from Harare to Johannesburg for his delegation, which included
his wife, children and at least 20 intelligence operatives despite the fact
that it was a holiday. They connected with an intercontinental flight from
there to Singapore.
Aviation sources said Mugabe was scheduled to travel in one of the three
MA60 planes because his favourite 103-seater B737 was grounded because of a
"planned maintenance schedule."
However in correspondence to Air Zimbabwe, the President's Office protested
the plan to have Mugabe travel in the MA60 plane ostensibly because "it
would put the President's life in danger." The short lifespan of the planes
has been fraught with breakdowns and operational nightmares.
Mugabe's spokesman George Charamba was unavailable for comment. But an
official who spoke to us from the President's Office said Mugabe's travel
arrangements were not for public consumption.
He however said the holiday was essentially for Mugabe's family "but the
President would be working through and through."
HARARE - The broad alliance - a coalition of 23 Zimbabwean civic and main
political groups - have raised the stakes by calling on President Robert
Mugabe and his Zanu (PF) party to abandon the idea of joint polls in 2010 or
face widespread resistance to their "oppressive rule" very soon.
A spokesman of the broad alliance, a brainchild of the Christian Alliance,
which give birth to the Save Zimbabwe Campaign, is demanding a new
democratic constitution for the country. The spokesman said Mugabe's
surrender of his illegal plan would pave the way for a national
Failure by Mugabe to make a national statement of surrender will leave us
with no option but to intensify our multifaceted resistance to oppressive
rule, a spokesman of the alliance told The Zimbabwean this week.
"Save Zimbabwe will do all that is possible in a democratic society to
challenge the ruling Zanu (PF) party's intentions to refuse the people of
Zimbabwe the right to select leaders of their choice under a democratic
The spokesman said the broad alliance would soon organize prayer session as
a prelude to the planned protests.
The broad alliance, which over the past month organized highly successful
lunch hour "pots and pans" or "noise demonstrations" said it was harnessing
a critical mass to confront Zanu (PF) over the joint poll plan which they
described as "undemocratic."
Official sources said President Mugabe was taking the broad alliance threats
seriously and was well aware that previous national strikes by the
opposition had been an overwhelming success.
Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa warned that the planned demonstrations,
illegal under the country's strict security laws, would be met with "the
full wrath of the law."
He said the opposition's call for Zimbabweans to take to the streets meant
they were bent on a campaign of violence and anarchy against the government
intended to result in the overthrow of Mugabe's office.
National Constitutional Assembly chairman Dr Lovemore Madhuku, who escaped
an assassination attempt on his life last week after his house was
firebombed by suspected State agents, reaffirmed his support for the strike
against the "harmonization" of elections.
Promise Mkwananzi, the president of the Zimbabwe National Students Union
said students fully backed the planned protests against Mugabe.
The Tsvangirai led MDC, the Democratic Party, United People's Movement,
United People's Party, Zanu Ndonga, Zapu FP, Christian Alliance, ZimRights,
ZCTU, ZESN, Crisis Coalition, Bulawayo Agenda, MISA, MMPZ, Bulawayo Dialogue
and many other civic groups said they would heed calls for the anti-Mugabe
HARARE - President Robert Mugabe's plan to postpone the presidential
election timetable from 2008 and 2010 has quickened the flight of skilled
workers from Zimbabwe with many others committed to emigrating within the
next six months.
According to labour experts and a snap survey carried out this week, most
skilled workers were leaving not only because they were discontented with
domestic economic and social conditions, but they were extremely pessimistic
about the possibility of positive change within the next two years. Most of
those interviewed said Zanu (PF)'s ploy to extend Mugabe's mandate with
another two years was "the final straw that broke the camel's back."
The exodus will mainly comprise technical staff such as software
specialists, technicians, both mechanical and electrical engineers, doctors,
nurses and apprentice journeymen.
Richard Makoni, a managing consultant with labour organisation Lorimark said
Zimbabwe's brain drain had quickened massively due to "inflation
differentials that were too high." He said there were "push factors such as
the politics back home and the economic meltdown" and pull factors such as
better pay and working conditions.
According to the survey, there were extremely high levels of dissatisfaction
relating to economic matters such as the cost of living, taxation,
availability of goods, and salaries as well as social issues including
housing, medical services, education and a viable future for children.
The quickening pace of the brain drain is set to cripple the civil service,
particularly parastatals such as Tel*One and ZESA, which are losing skilled
technicians and engineers to New Zealand, Australia and lately Birmingham in
the UK where demand for skilled technical staff is extremely high.
A senior manager at Tel*One said more than 80 percent of skilled staff had
left over the past year alone and that about 15 technicians had tendered
their resignation this month alone. He said most of them were "leaving for
"It is possible to point to political events over the past month as the
primary cause for emigration," said the senior manager who declined to be
Sources spoke of an "unprecedented brain drain" at ZESA, whose workers had
been on strike over the past week protesting for better salaries.
According to a 2006 UNDP report, out of Zimbabwe's 14 million people, almost
3 million, mainly skilled staff, are living outside the country.
HARARE - Business in Zimbabwe is urging a devaluation of the local currency
against the greenback when the Reserve Bank governor announces a new
monetary policy before the end of the month. Exporters insist that the
current rate of $250 to the US dollar is unviable. On the parallel market
the dollar is trading above $3000 to the US dollar.
Depressed investment interest rates and high inflation (1098,8%) powered the
stock market's key industrial index to fresh record highs at 633 391,06
points last Friday, as rioting stock prices doused any monetary policy
scares after opening the year at 569 984,08 points.
Minings, however, plunged deeper into misery, as the index slid a mammoth
6,5% to 347 321,73 points from 354 464,10 points at the opening of trade
this year, as profit takers locked in rich pickings from earlier gains. The
stock market's annual turnover for 2006 rose sharply to US$767,2 million (or
Z$191,8 billion), about 1 100% up on 2005 numbers at US$64 million (or Z$6,4
billion). Total market capitalisation surged to $6,7 trillion from just
under $200 million in 2005. The money market would in January receive more
than $30 billion in Treasury Bill and CPI coupon bond maturities.
The total amount of maturities would be $34,031,296,666.51 of which
$14,617,537,807.79 would be CPI coupon bond maturities. January was likely
to be liquid from various cash deposits and civil servants salaries before
taking a slight dip mid month due to tax payments. The money market had
opened the year $14,3 billion down and was forecast to end $4,7 billion in
deficit due to cash deposits from commercial banks and building societies.
As a result 90 day NCDs and Bas were being quoted at 70% and 100%
respectively, with call rates ranging between 3% and 5% while the interbank
The RBZ was on the market with two 365-day treasury bill tenders and the
first was subscribed to the tune of $4 billion with $3 billion being
allotted at 325%.
The highest bid was 400% and lowest 300%. The second tender attracted $1
billion which was fully allotted at 337,5%. The highest bid was 340% and
The first week of the year saw commercial banks hiking their minimum lending
rates in a bid to put a damper on speculative borrowing. High borrowing
rates have long been used as a way to smother consumptive and speculative
borrowing by investors.
MBCA Bank was the first to announce that it was increasing its Minimum
Lending Rate to 500%.
The first week of the year saw financial institutions increasing the minimum
thresholds for investments as they strive to find optimal returns for
investors in the year 2007.
Hyperinflation has meant that the return on smaller amounts invested is
minimal, as brokerage costs will take up most of the gains. It is also to
the advantage of investors if they can set aside bigger sums of money as
gains on such amounts as $9 000 are no longer sufficient to buy even 2 kg of
Kingdom Stockbrokers increased its minimum investment in shares to $300,000
per counter. Kingdom Asset Managers and Unit Trusts have now hiked their
minimum investment levels to $50,000.
Money market investments now require at least $500,000. The National Social
Security Authority (NSSA), increased pension benefits under the National
Pension Scheme with effect from January 1, as it seeks to align benefits
with changes in the macro-economic environment. The reviews are for the
retirement, invalidity, survivors' and funeral grant schemes which fall
under the pension scheme.
Monthly benefits for the retirement scheme have more than doubled from $5
000 effected in July last year to $12 900, while beneficiaries under the
invalidity and survivors' schemes would get $5 700. The funeral grant has
been increased to $65 000 from $25 000. NSSA has also reviewed upwards the
Insurable Earnings Ceiling from $50 000 per month to $130 000.
Employees earning below $130 000 would have their contributions based on 3%
of total earnings, of which the employer would contribute at least half of
The Reserve Bank further extended the curatorship period of Royal Bank and
Trust Bank from December 31 to March 31, 2007 to enable the finalisation of
their cases before the courts.
HARARE - Police are refusing to release 81 packets of sanitary pads valued
at Z$129,200 impounded at a roadblock along the Bindura highway last month,
saying because they fear the pads are poisoned and are aimed at harming the
reproductive health of peasant farmers.
The ridiculous excuse has shocked the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions
(ZCTU), which sourced the pads from and NGO, Action for Southern Africa.
The sanitary pads were seized en route to Docking Farm in Concession were
they were to be distributed to farm workers.
Police manning a search and seize operation along the Harare/Bindura Highway
stopped a car belonging to the General Agricultural and Plantation Workers
Union of Zimbabwe (GAPWUZ), an affiliate of ZCTU, and seized the pads
alleging that former commercial farmers had poisoned them.
Police allegedly took the sanitary pads to the police station and later
forwarded them to the Ministry of Health for "inspection."
Repeated efforts by GAPWUZ to recover them have so far been fruitless. The
police have also raided GAPWUZ offices in Mvurwi where they again seized 189
packets of sanitary pads with a market value of Z$302,400; which they
claimed, were also poisoned.
"There exists no tangible proof, which shows that the pads were 'poisoned',"
said an NGO spokesman. "It is a ploy by the government to smear and
disregard the good works being done by NGOs."
BINGA - President Robert Mugabe's governing Zanu (PF) party has tightened
control over food supplies in Binga, starving opponents and manipulating
relief aid to enforce it's hold on power, opposition and human rights groups
The marginalized Tonga people voted for the Movement for Democratic Change
in legislative polls held in March 2005. They voted for the opposition again
during rural district council elections in October last year. They are now
being starved as punishment.
"We are gravely worried about what's going on here," Joel Gabuzza, an MP in
the area said. "If we do not get food supplies into my area soon, starvation
and eventually death will occur along party political lines," he said.
Gabuzza is the latest to allege that Mugabe has cut off food to opponents
who have challenged the power of his ruling Zanu (PF) party.
Earlier in November the European Union accused Mugabe of using foreign food
aid as a political weapon, while the United States has said it might
consider measures to guarantee that food aid deliveries are free from
A quarter of Zimbabwe's 12,5 million people are at risk of starvation,
according to the United Nations' World Food Programme (WFP). Zanu (PF),
which blames the country's food crisis on drought, denies it has politicised
food distribution and has accused some aid agencies of sending more relief
to opposition strongholds.
Gabuzza alleged that the government began tightening control over food
supplies ahead of the October rural district council election which saw
Mugabe's ruling Zanu (PF) clinch almost three quarters of all the contested
seats in the widely disputed poll which was mired in rigging and
Only card carrying ruling party members were being given access to food,
with intelligence operatives enforcing the policy at almost all the depots
in Binga and surrounding areas, Gabuzza said.
For most Zimbabweans, the year 2006 was harsh. The economy continued to
slide into a bottomless pit. The social sector has become a pale shadow of
its former self, with both schools and hospitals performing well below
previous standards. At the political level, there was more gloom and doom as
both factions of the MDC sought to outdo each other in various ways. The
ruling Zanu (PF) continued to disintegrate into what Mugabe himself
described as "shambles". The gloom was exacerbated by Mugabe's futile
attempt to extend his tenure of office by another two years.
The year 2007 promises to be even tougher and more inhospitable than 2006.
The cost of living is escalating relentlessly, and most families are now
living well below the poverty datum line. Unemployment is likely to reach a
record 90% before the end of the year, while the school and college dropout
rate is likely to exceed 50% Most schools and colleges have increased fees
to levels that can only be afforded by middle and high-income earners, and
this will force the majority of the children to drop out of formal
education. Naturally, the dropouts will have to resort to a life of crime in
order to stay alive.
Medical fees have also been raised to astronomical levels, forcing the
majority to resort to traditional and faith healers as the only viable
option. Zimbabweans are slowly becoming what MDC President, Morgan
Tsvangirai, once called "Stone Age scavengers", thanks to Mugabe and his
bunch of hooligans. Meanwhile the dictator and his minions continue to loot
the national resources with impunity. The political will to fight against
corruption remains a very scarce commodity, except in the form of Paul
Mangwana's (tomorrow) empty rhetoric. Perhaps his surname says it all.
The feuding MDC factions need to take serious measures to resolve their
differences and either re-unite or formalise their differences by one of
them changing its name. There must only be one MDC, for goodness' sake. Zanu
(PF) is undoubtedly at its weakest level right now. Mugabe's beleaguered
party can be tackled most effectively this year since it has lost virtually
all its popular support. Sadly, however, the opposition "MDCs" seem to be
more interested in what the other faction is doing rather than in what Zanu
(PF) is not doing for the benefit of this country.
At the civic level, the slumber seems to continue unabated. Steam seems to
have gone out of the euphoria that greeted the launch of the National Vision
Document (NVD) by the pro-state clergy a few weeks ago. Perhaps the pastors
are still on Christmas break. The Christian Alliance promised to continue
its civic activities, if not intensify them. So this year should see several
work boycotts organised by the Christian Alliance, the ZCTU and other civic
There is a serious need to make the governance of this country prohibitively
costly for the dictator. Work boycotts and other forms of industrial action
will go a long way to make the regime divert considerable resources towards
maintaining a semblance of control and political stability. The proposed
Constitutional Amendment (Number 18), which will seek to give Mugabe two
additional years of national devastation must be fought very strenuously.
The role of civil society in this regard will be crucial. Mugabe must be
left in no doubt at all that he is now very unwanted, if not hated, by all
Zimbabweans other than the small minority of thiefocrats profiting from his
HARARE - The Zimbabwe dollar has plunged yet further as a result of high
importer demand and locals seeking hard currency as a hedge against rampant
By close of business on Monday, one US$ traded for Z$3,200 and one British
Pound for Z$5,300, while one South African Rand fetched Z$390. The
Zimbabwean dollar was pegged at 250 to the US$.
"There are huge pressures on the dollar already," said one market analyst
here. "Companies have reopened and a lot of importers have come on to the
market to buy foreign currency and there have been some speculation on the
Charles Gurney, a leading market analyst said: "There appears to be no end
in sight at this stage."
Analysts said Monday the dollar could fall further given the level of import
"The Reserve Bank needs to do quite a lot, as they also appear to be
confused just as we are," said an economist with a leading financial house.
Economic consultant John Robertson said there was widespread expectation in
the market that Reserve Bank governor Gideon Gono would devalue the exchange
rate significantly when he presents his monetary policy review in two weeks
In its latest analysis, economic research and consultancy firm, Techfin
Research forecast Zimbabwe's embattled domestic currency's fair value by
December last year at $814.15 to the US dollar, against the fixed $250 to
the greenback pegged by the central bank since August last year.
Techfin further noted that the hapless Zimdollar would race to a "fair
value" of $1,058.39 to the US unit this month and close 2007 at a massive
$16,588.73 to the US dollar.
Techfin's projections are in tandem with forecasts made by the IMF last year
predicting inflation to top 4,500 percent this year with the Gross Domestic
Product shrinking 4,7 percent.
BY THABO KUNENE
BEIRA - Hundreds of hungry Zimbabweans from the eastern province of
Manicaland are reported flocking to the Mozambican port city of Beira in
search of jobs foodstuffs no longer available in their once prosperous
The once proud and prosperous Zimbabweans have become a laughing stock in
southern Africa. In the 1980s Zimbabweans used to laugh at Mozambicans and
Zambians who crossed into their country to buy goods that were expensive or
not available in their own countries.
Now it's the other way round. Zimbabweans never thought they would be in
this situation and today they are seen as a nuisance by their neighbours
whose economies have recovered owing to economic reform, political stability
and investor confidence.
Tourism in now booming in Mozambique and the country is expected to earn
US$150 million this year. The excellent beaches attract thousands of western
and African tourists every year.
Mozambique might also benefit from the influx of tourists during the world
cup in 2010 in South Africa because of its investor-friendly policies.
The former Portuguese colony has one of the fastest growing economies in
Africa. Farai Mudzuri, a Zimbabwean working in Beira, says hundreds of
Zimbabweans arrive every day to look for menial jobs.
"I have seen people who were teachers in Zimbabwe who now work as security
guards here because some companies pay in American dollars,"said Mudzuri,
who once worked as a clerk at a Harare law firm.
He says he will not return to Zimbabwe until Mugabe goes.
"That man has ruined our beautiful country. I would rather be a slave here
in Mozambique than to go back to starve in Zimbabwe."
Two weeks ago the South African press reported that hundreds of Zimbabwean
border jumpers risk being mauled by lions at the Kruger National Park trying
to enter South Africa illegally.
BY FRANCO HENWOOD
LONDON - It is all too easy to slide into despondency, doubt and
disenchantment at the prospects for change in Zimbabwe. But to listen to
Jenni Williams, coordinator of Women of Zimbabwe Arise, (WOZA) is to be put
to shame for ever entertaining such thoughts.
Williams was speaking to a London forum meeting in central London. WOZA
defies easy, neat description. It is not a political party. It seeks change
not by force of arms but by the force of non-violent example. It seeks to
empower rather than seize power - by forcing a change of heart on the part
of individuals. This is no soft option. Such a course entails serious risks.
At its outset, sceptics gave the movement three months. That was four years
ago. WOZA remains unbowed despite the government's efforts to (literally)
stamp it out.
Towards the end of 2006 it was time to take stock - notably the problem of
numbers. Why weren't hundreds of thousands of Zimbabweans taking to the
streets? The non-violent expression of people power will one day remove the
regime. But what will motivate the people to do so? By widespread
consultation countrywide with over 10,000 Zimbabweans, WOZA set out to find
out. The result was the People's Charter - a distillation of the aspirations
and demands of rank and file Zimbabweans.
The Charter's launch in Bulawayo on 29 November 2006 was met with a
particularly brutal instance of police violence, with over 60 - 70 injuries
sustained. Nonetheless external scrutiny ensures her own and her comrades'
survival. Letters and phone calls from sympathisers to police stations where
the women are held provide a salutary reminder to police officers that the
outside world knows and cares about what happens inside their holding cells.
And one day there will be a calling to account.
The objective in 2007 will be to find political leaders ready to stand up
and deliver the Charter. These may not necessarily be prominent
personalities in the public eye - they may emerge from the ranks of the
political 'nobodies'. As Williams reminded her audience: 'No one owns
freedom, but everyone enjoys it.' - Franco Henwood writes in his personal
capacity. The WOZA charter is available in Shona, English and Ndebele on
When is a Zimbabwean not a Zimbabwean?
Johannesburg-based newspaper publisher Trevor Ncube is the latest in a long
line of Zimbabweans to be caught in the sticky and convoluted web of the
Mugabe regime's tangled and self-serving legislation.
Law and order no longer exist in Zimbabwe. And yet the government continues
to perform mental gymnastics of remarkable complexity in an absurd attempt
to legislate the gross abuse of human rights and legalise criminal
behaviour - as long as it is perpetrated only by those in power.
What is happening to Ncube is nothing but a carefully orchestrated plan by
government to harass independent journalists in a futile effort to control
the hearts and minds of Zimbabweans.
Faced with unprecedented shortages resulting from the collapse of the
economy and increased human rights abuses - necessitated by the need to
subdue an angry and restless people - the government is desperate to silence
any criticism, and to deny the opposition any opportunity to communicate
effectively with the populace through the mass media.
As rumblings of discontent even within Zanu (PF) grow louder, the various
factions shadow-box themselves into position to mount a serious challenge
for succession to Mugabe's throne. It is obvious to everyone that his days
Ncube's publications, The Independent and The Standard, are the only
locally-based independent newspapers remaining in Zimbabwe. Instead of just
banning or bombing them, it is fascinating in a sense to observe the Mugabe
regime's convoluted, a, efforts to shut them down or take them over.
Ncube has owned and run the papers for more than a decade. Yet now, after
all these years, government brings up the question of citizenship in a
pathetically transparent ploy to take advantage of a hare-brained decree
that limits participation in the media to citizens only.
The recent government action in refusing to renew Ncube's passport, forcing
him to take costly and time-consuming legal action to compel registrar
general, Tobaiwa Mudede, to restore his birthright, raises fundamental
questions about citizenship rights.
This is just another step in the Zanu (PF) regime's abuse of its powers in
regard to the systematic abrogation of human rights. Ncube joins millions
of Zimbabweans whose rights have been arbitrarily and illegally trampled
upon, and who have no recourse to the law.
For example, communities in Gokwe and Mberengwa have had their shortwave
radios confiscated recently by the CIO. For many, this was their only means
of accessing information. At the time of going to press, the CIO continues
to ignore a court order declaring the seizures illegal.
This is a clear indication of the hopelessness of the situation in Zimbabwe
with regard to law and order. To whom should the people now turn? Where do
we go from here?
Fellow Zimbabweans, I wish to recognise the difficulties in
the last few days of 2006 and into the New Year. I note that 2007 began on an
even harsher scale as we face rising prices of basic commodities, escalating
transport costs and huge bills for school fees.
My heart goes out to those families still in grief over the loss of loved ones because of the collapse of our health delivery system and the shortage of food and live-saving HIV drugs.
Special mention must go to our embattled business community, harassed and arrested almost daily for trying to save their beleaguered investments and entrepreneurial operations.
The year ahead of us presents even greater challenges to pensioners, small-scale miners and cross-border traders as they grapple with the rising cost of living in a hyper-inflationary environment.
Our transition to a New Zimbabwe has been long and hard. We have come a long way. We are encouraged by your determination and unwavering stance against this dictatorship.
Robert Mugabe and Zanu (PF) are on the verge of collapse. Recent developments in that party show a growing disenchantment with the ruling elite. Within Zanu PF, a significant body of opinion today is in favour of a solution to the national crisis.
I thank you for weakening the nerve centre of the dictatorship through your refusal to legitimize the plunder of our national resources and rapacious acts of misrule. Things have begun to fall apart.
We are ready to co-operate and work with committed patriots who see sense in what we seek to achieve. We need to realign our positions and embrace those willing to join hands with us and save Zimbabwe from further damage.
Mugabe and Zanu (PF) must be stopped from continuously abusing well-meaning Zimbabweans, regardless of their political persuasion, whose patriotic desire is to chart an all inclusive way forward.
The shameful attack on the home and family of constitutional expert and activist Dr Lovemore Madhuku is a symptom of the general panic within the establishment over a definite shift towards a national consensus on Zimbabwe's future.
Robert Mugabe and some elements in Zanu (PF) are terrified of tomorrow. They are trying to find an escape route out of a house already on fire. They shall target progressive groups and individuals to divert attention and to frustrate and intimidate them away from making a contribution to the realization of a New Zimbabwe and a new society.
The regime shall employ desperate tactics to silence those from within its ranks who are against Mugabe bid to extend his rule to 2010. The regime will confront all of us in the forlorn hope of imposing its will onto the people.
At our second Congress in March 2006, we charted a roadmap out of the national crisis. We agreed on a path to re-assert our political future and Save Zimbabwe. We set out to confront what is before us and I made a public call reflecting the same.
Despite the initial hitches and process impediments, our plan to be heard is clear to all.
Today, I repeat that call and advise the nation to maintain open options and to keep its ear on the ground. The year 2007 has abundant opportunities. We must exploit them to help ourselves.
We have solutions to the national crisis.
With the fast-shifting opinion in Zanu (PF) and the resolute feeling in civil society, let us build a national consensus and work together to complete the transition.
BY FRANCIS SIBANDA
BULAWAYO - The cash-strapped Bulawayo City Council's health department
refuse collection and disposal has virtually collapsed in the face of
critical shortages of fuel and spare parts.
Currently, there are 15 vehicles servicing the entire city, instead of the
27 vehicles required. Ten of these are compressor-type vehicles, which
usually cover the high density areas, while the five box-type vehicles
service the low density areas.
Refuse collection has dwindled to only once a fortnight.
The City Council is on record for complaining that residents and Government
departments owe it a huge amount of money. It has proposed a tough budget
for 2007, which is awaiting approval by the Ministry of Local Government and
HARARE - The cash-strapped Zimbabwe government has moved to restore its
fiscal credibility and patch up relations with the International Monetary
Fund (IMF) by allowing it to publish a searing analysis of Harare's "fiscal
profligacy" and "governance problems" over the past year.
The report was prepared for Zimbabwe's latest two-week annual consultation
with a six-member IMF delegation in December. It warns that without a
fundamental policy turnaround, Zimbabwe faces a precipitous decline in
activity and employment, hyperinflation and a rapid deterioration of bank
loan portfolios that could worsen an already dire financial crisis. There is
a serious risk of regional contagion, the Bretton Woods institution said.
The Zimbabwean authorities were grateful for the IMF's "constructive role",
and considered the Article IV assessment fair, accurate and candid, Peter
Gakunu, IMF executive director who led the consultative talks, said this
week. Gakunu represents the African voting bloc, which includes Zimbabwe, on
the fund's board.
The report holds out hope that Finance Minister Herbert Murerwa and his team
can reverse the economy's decline if the government could muster the broad
political consensus needed to stabilise the economy.
"It is still possible for Zimbabwe to regain its rightful status as an
anchor of stability and prosperity in southern Africa". Murerwa is applauded
for "raising the awareness of public opinion about the size of the fiscal
deficit and its root causes".
The IMF said efforts were "hamstrung by continued policy weaknesses,
dislocations and uncertainties related to the fast-track land resettlement
programme, price and exchange rate distortions".
The IMF has begun to push member states to permit the release of staff
reports, but most countries still exercise their right to keep the documents
confidential. Gakunu said Murerwa had authorised publication as part of his
drive to enhance transparency.
Released with the report were the government's responses to its
recommendations, which include a return to the rule of law in implementing a
land reform programme designed to garner domestic and international support.
In reply, Zimbabwean authorities stopped short of promising to uphold the
law. They said enforcing the law would be facilitated if local commercial
farmers and bankers, and international donors, provided concrete assistance
for land acquisition, resettlement, and "broad agrarian reform". Government
also stated the issue of 99-year leases to farmers meant the land reform was
now a "done deal."
The IMF predicts that Zimbabwe's real GDP will shrink by 10 percent this
year and inflation will close the year at 4,500 percent. With changes
factored in, they foresee a smaller, 6,5 percent contraction. With reform,
they expect the economy to rebound in the coming years, with growth rising
to about 5 percent in subsequent years.
HARARE - The Reserve Bank has not yet established the much-awaited Exchange
Rate Impact Assessment Board (ERIAB), six months after central bank governor
Gideon Gono announced plans to set up the institution. ERIAB was expected
to regularly review the exchange rate in line with inflation.
The local currency has been under sustained pressure due to hyperinflation,
currently at 1 098,8%.
ERIAB was expected to monitor and review the exchange rate monthly and make
recommendations to the Reserve Bank on the fair value rate for the currency
on the foreign exchange market.
In August last year, Gono devalued the local unit by about 60% to $250
against the benchmark US dollar from $101.
While the local currency is pegged at $250 to the US dollar it is trading
above $3 000 on the parallel market.
In a bid to raise Z$160 billion to finance government capital projects, the
Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) has issued its first trunk of long term paper
this year that has a three-year tenure.
Economists interviewed said the issuing of the paper signals that the
Reserve Bank might yet come up with more measures to help shift the current
debt profile in favour of long-term commitments as opposed to short term.
Zimbabwe is saddled with a huge foreign and domestic debt after it stopped
receiving balance of payments support from multi-lateral institutions in
2000. The government has been increasingly turning to borrowing aggressively
on the local money market in order to finance its projects.
"Variable but fixed coupon rate of 350% in year 2007; 250% in year 2008 and
100% in year 2009 is payable at the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe, Harare, half
yearly on the dates to be indicated on the stock certificates by remittance
to the credit of a bank or building society," the Reserve Bank said in a
statement. - Business reporter
HARARE - Hundreds of tertiary, primary and secondary school students failed
to return to school as the new term opened Tuesday due to a combination of
steep fees increases, extremely high bus fare for boarders and a massive
shortage in enrolment places.
Most schools hiked their tuition by an average 100 percent, citing
inflationary pressures. At Lusitania Primary School in Greendale for
example, school fees for a Grade One pupil shot from Z$145,000 last year to
Z$277,000 this term.
A parent who had a pupil going to Grade 3 at the school told The Zimbabwean
that she had pulled out her child from the school and registered her at a
township day school in Sunningdale.
Day schools in the townships were overwhelmed with students seeking
At Harare High in Mbare, the school officials said they could not meet the
demand for enrolment places and had sought permission from the education
ministry to take in more than the stipulated maximum of 60 students per
class. There is already "hot seating" at the school, with two sets of
classes each day, the morning and afternoon class.
At Mbare Musika bus terminus, hundreds of students were still stranded on
Tuesday after long distance bus operators took advantage of the huge demand
in transport by hiking their fares to astronomical levels. A student who
wanted to travel to Gokomere High School in Masvingo said he had been at the
terminus since Monday hoping to get a cheaper bus. The regulated fare for
travel to Masvingo is $7,000 but bus operators were charging $25,000 for a
Weighed down by a collapsing economy, most parents said they could no longer
afford boarding fees and transferred their children to local schools, which
are usually cheap. Even local schools hiked their fares with tuition at
Kuwadzana High 1 for example shooting to $30,000 up from $20,000. Levies
also went up by the same margin. This was on top of a massive surge in the
prices of school uniforms and books.
Hundreds of Form One students also failed to secure places at the relatively
cheaper schools. However, Form One places were available in Mufakose and
Mbare at Number 3 and 4 High Schools, St Peters, Mbare High and George Stark
which are considered the worst schools in Harare due to their appallingly
low pass rate. However most parents were reluctant to enroll their children
at these schools.
Meanwhile, students at tertiary institutions were girding their loins,
preparing to confront government through "jambanja" after a steep rise in
Most students failed to enroll for class on Monday at Harare Polytechnic
after a sharp rise in tuition from $11,000 to $350,000 per term. While
President Mugabe is on record saying no students should be turned away from
school because they have failed to raise fees, students who had not paid
tuition at the Polytechnic in Harare were barred from attending class.
Raymond Majongwe, secretary general of the Progressive Teachers Union of
Zimbabwe said President Mugabe's "Education For All" policy, which he
declared when he first took office in 1980, was becoming an ever more
HARARE - The opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) is set to crack
the whip on the truant opposition party's UK branch leadership today at the
first meeting of the National Executive in Harare this year.
The MDC UK branch leadership, which has attempted to usurp the power vested
in leader Morgan Tsvangirai by engaging in diplomatic activities without a
mandate from the President, has openly defied warnings by International
Relations chief Professor Elphas Mukonoweshuro to stop engaging British and
European diplomats on behalf of the party.
The errant branch, led by chairman Ephraim Tapa and secretary Julius
Dewa-Mutyambizi, has taken the tussle into the public domain, leaking
private correspondence between the UK branch and President Tsvangirai to the
Mukonoweshuro has described the two as "dangerous loose canons" and the
opposition party's executive will seal their fate in Harare today. A
resolution is expected to be passed by the party's Standing Committee, which
will meet at Harvest House on Friday.
While Mukonoweshuro instructed the two to stop meddling in diplomatic
activities after being directed by Tsvangirai because this was outside the
scope of their responsibilities, the two responded in a letter that was
unrestrained and not couched in temperate and professional terms. In their
response they described the warning as "rubbish" and went on to circulate
the letter to everyone who cared to read, dragging a matter involving
diplomacy into the public domain.
The MDC cannot accept such "gross insubordination verging on outright
BY STANFORD MUKASA
Born 1820 - still going strong
For people who drink the Johnnie Walker whisky, the label: "Born 1820 -
Still going Strong!" will be familiar. In a similar vein, when Robert
Mugabe ordered the invasion of commercial farms in 2000 few people ever
imagined his regime could still be in power nearly seven years later.
If one reviews media headlines about Mugabe in the past seven years the
predictions were for a regime that was about to fall anytime because of the
Indeed, all the conditions for the fall of the Mugabe regime exist in
Zimbabwe today. The situation has deteriorated to a point where Mugabe's
greatest accomplishment is the near total destruction of the social and
Zimbabwe has, to all intents and purposes, now hit rock bottom. Things
cannot get any worse than this. Zimbabweans have had more than their share
of life in Hell. In their state of atrophy, Zimbabweans appear resigned to
their fate: sitting, weeping, singing and praying by the Rivers of Babylon
in the hope that someone, anyone, will come to their rescue.
The lifeline that is keeping many afloat are remittances from those in the
diaspora. Zimbabweans abroad send an estimated US$100 million home every
The vast majority of Zimbabweans have lost almost everything. Only a few
elite Zanu (PF) supporters have gained materially. Mugabe's cronies are
bursting with wealth looted from state resources. Mugabe has created a
lifeboat of affluence for his cronies.
Several years ago a travel writer visited what used to be called
Stanleyville in the then Belgian Congo. He noticed that the once thriving
city in the middle of nowhere had now degenerated into abandoned buildings
that were systematically being choked by thick shrubs. His conclusion was
that the jungle was claiming the city, soon there would be few signs that a
city was ever there.
This analogy is very similar to the descriptions of today's Zimbabwe by many
people who recently visited the country. One visitor said she saw a Tsunami
type of social environment. It was like the nation had been hit by an
earthquake, a civil war or some natural disaster.
A journalist noted that many Zimbabweans have been reduced to eating rats.
That report, incidentally, was attacked on the grounds that rats or mbeva
are a delicacy in Zimbabwe in as much as dogs, frog's legs, monkeys and
snakes are delicacies in other cultures.
But what critics of the report missed in their haste to attack the
journalist was that rats are not a mainstream or staple food for most
Zimbabweans. Yes, they are eaten among some of the rural population, but
they are universally shunned by modern Zimbabweans. There are some
traditional foods that modern Zimbabweans no longer touch. A Zimbabwean
musician composed a song in which a boss fired an employee and told him to
go back to the rural areas to grow sweet potatoes!
The people's poverty and misery have sustained the Mugabe regime.
Zimbabweans are like a sick person who has not sought medical treatment to
cure himself of the disease - ZANUPFitis. Unlike HIV/AIDS, there is a
potent cure for ZANUPFitis.
The cure is also available for free. It is called mass action. This cure has
been tried, tested and worked in several countries around the world. Yet
people are in a state of denial that this cure could work for them as well.
They are hoping this disease, will go away and they will recover.
In postponing any action to deal with the disease right now Zimbabweans are
bequeathing future generations a legacy of a dilapidated country that will
be very expensive to repair.
What is needed is for the opposition to evaluate critically their strategies
of the past seven years and learn from their mistakes. To make hollow
promises and then repeat the same ineffectual activities is a reflection of
The opposition leadership and the Zimbabweans could learn something from
Bishop Desmond Tutu's non-violent strategies against South Africa's
When the apartheid regime was intensifying its repression of South Africans,
Tutu planned a protest march.
Despite the ruthlessness of the apartheid police and army who were brought
in to deal forcefully with the opposition movement, the march took place
with thousands of the people on the streets. Asked whether people were
prepared to participate in nonviolent action that did not show immediate
promise Tutu said the people of South Africa, just like slaves in America,
had always had a spiritual hope for salvation regardless of how long it
would take. And when the South Africans took to the streets they were not
necessarily expecting immediate results.
Many Zimbabweans today shy away from mass protests because they do not think
they will bring immediate results. They are missing the philosophy of mass
protests. When thousands of unarmed citizens take to the streets and
confront their armed oppressors they are actually exposing the violence. And
that exposure can have a profound impact, both nationally and
While many people have given up on mass action this form of protest remains
Zimbabweans' strongest weapon against Mugabe. It has not been tried and
tested in the manner it should. Previous calls for mass action have met with
little enthusiasm, and poor coordination.
It must be remembered that Mugabe, unlike Johnnie Walker whisky, is a mere
The skills drain that is a plague in Africa at present has hit Zimbabwe very
hard. The statistics for the number of people who have left the country and
the skills lost are staggering. The people at home are left in desperate
need of health care and health professionals equally desperate for resources
to treat people, teach and train more health workers with.
In the past we had good infrastructure for training health workers. Now
there are more Zimbabwean doctors outside Zimbabwe than in, more
radiographers and pharmacists in UK that in Zimbabwe etc. The people who
should be producing the health professionals of tomorrow in Zimbabwe are
busy struggling for survival at home and away.mostly away.
Zimbabwe Health Training Support [ZHTS] fulfils a need by those who have
left to support colleagues at home. This support will mostly be in the field
of health worker training at all levels: community, nurse, and all
professions allied to medicine. To date we have been able to send one person
to give a set of lectures for the Masters in Medicine course at the College
of Health Sciences at the University of Zimbabwe. With the support of the
British Medical Association and the British Medical Journal we expect to
send some books to the College.
For 2007 we have set ourselves some challenges. Zimbabwe has some of the
worst death rates among pregnant women or those who have recently given
birth. The reason is poor access to health care. The availability of
maternity care has decreased with loss of midwives as care givers and
trainers of others. Maternal health is one of the Millennium Development
Goals [MDG] of the World Health Organisation. Is there anything we can do to
Many models of support for developing countries show that it is often the
little things that act on peoples' morale and motivation to achieve more
than they would normally. The little things are teaching materials that they
need that make teaching a joy rather than a burden, easy access to
information that enhances their own knowledge base and confidence,
professional contact and support from other people in the same field.
People abroad have much easier access to these types of resources and they
can make a big difference by making them accessible to colleagues left
holding up what is left of the health care system. Where people with skills
can and want to go to Zimbabwe to teach or do clinical work to support, we
are keen to help with organisational support so that people do not just
'turn up' wanting to do something. 'Turning up' disrupts working schedules
and ends up costing local people more time than they have.
We are a membership organisation for anyone, Zimbabwean or British, health
professional or not, interested in supporting the training needs of health
professions and supporting their work. Already there are individual people
sending equipment, books, or using their holidays to give lectures etc in
Zimbabwe. Any nurse, doctor, pharmacist, laboratory scientist or anyone in
the UK wanting to support such activities through the combined efforts of
colleagues and friends can join us. - ZHTS e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Jan 10 2007 10:14PM
Zimbabwe's Robert Mugabe has conducted a massive campaign of theft against
gold panners in his nation, arresting as many as 20,000 of them over the
last few weeks. Mugabe wants to seize control of gold supplies from people
that have already been dislocated once, from the farms that used to produce
both food and labor opportunities:
Mugabe's government forces the miners to sell the ore they capture at the
fixed currency rate, a policy which means that they can only get a tenth of
the real value of the gold. Many do sell on the black market, and others
have to mine and pan more agressively in order to make enough money to
survive. As a result of these raids, families on the edge of survival even
with the panning will probably not live very much longer.
Who are the panners? They are the people who worked the farms of Zimbabwe
when they were under white ownership. After Mugabe seized most of the farms,
the farming system fell apart, and most of the workers had no opportunities
for jobs in Zimbabwe's collapsing economy.
At some point, the West will have to get over being embarrassed by its
colonial history and deal with the damage done by the monsters that filled
the vacuum of their departures. All of the Live Aids in the world will not
touch the underlying causes of famine and misery in such a fertile land.
Economic woes forces women to sell sex
Nelson G. Katsande (NELKA)
Published 2007-01-11 11:57 (KST)
A group of prostitutes marched through the streets of Harare on Tuesday
denouncing the incumbent government. The protest, the first of its kind in
the troubled Southern African country, marked a new era for President
The group numbering 50, waved placards calling on the government to
recognize them as a legitimate sex industry. The peaceful demonstration
started at noon and shoppers were stunned to see a young girl in school
uniform among the demonstrators. Her mother, Rosemary is an unlicensed
The women, clad in skimpy dresses and miniskirts, also denounced the police,
who they accused of abusing and robbing them. Prostitution is illegal in
Zimbabwe and prostitutes are regularly rounded up by police officers and
arrested. They are then made to pay various amounts in fines for their
release. But once released they get back to the streets.
Rosemary told OhmyNews that she has worked as a prostitute for eight years
and that throughout that time had witnessed some of her colleagues being
abused by the police. She alleged that some corrupt officers ask for sexual
favors and cash from prostitutes in order to release them. Among her clients
are senior police officers and high profile politicians.
Sex workers are the most vulnerable group in Zimbabwe. They are often
exposed to violence and sexual health problems. In spite of these dangers,
the number of women turning to prostitution has increased. In the outskirts
of Harare prostitutes are said to be demanding diesel and petrol from
prospective clients in return for sexual services.
The prostitutes would then sell the fuel on the black market at seven times
its market value. Petrol is in short supply in the country and is seen as a
better payment method. The women demand 30 liters of fuel for unprotected
sex and 20 liters for protected sex.
While authorities ignore the plight of prostitutes, more and more cases of
sexually transmitted diseases are reported at health institutions. A nurse
at Harare hospital said the number of women seeking medical treatment for
sexually transmitted diseases has increased in the last six months.
Many women have been forced into prostitution as a result of the country's
economic meltdown. Some are reported to be crossing into neighboring Zambia
to sell sex in exchange for Zambian currency.
Although the Zimbabwean government fails to recognize prostitution in the
country, the voices of the women are well worth listening to. They need