The ZIMBABWE Situation
An extensive and up-to-date website containing news, views and links related to ZIMBABWE - a country in crisis
Return to INDEX page
Please note: You need to have 'Active content' enabled in your IE browser in order to see the index of articles on this webpage

AU panel proposes Congo as head instead of Sudan


      Tue Jan 24, 2006 8:11 AM GMT

By Opheera McDoom

KHARTOUM (Reuters) - A special African Union panel will propose on Tuesday
Congo Republic should become next head of the 53-nation organisation instead
of Sudan after critics said a Sudanese presidency would damage the AU's

The five-nation panel was set up on the first day of a two-day AU summit on
Monday to break a deadlock over Sudan's leadership bid. Critics say a
Sudanese presidency would hurt the AU's mission to promote democracy and
human rights.

"The committee met and decided to propose the rotation (of the presidency)
to Central Africa," said one member of the panel on condition of anonymity.

Another panel member said Congo Republic would be the Central African
candidate and that the committee would also propose Sudan could become AU
head next year.

On the first day of the summit in Khartoum, African nations were deeply
split about Sudan, which put itself forward for the presidency based on a
tradition that the summit host takes over as the AU's head. Sudan wants to
succeed Nigeria.

Critics say Sudan would be the wrong choice as leader when it faces
accusations of human rights abuses in Darfur in west Sudan, where a
7,000-strong AU force is trying to uphold a tentative truce between the
government and rebels.

The rebels said late on Monday they had suspended peace talks to protest
against Sudan's candidacy and would withdraw from the AU-sponsored peace
process in Nigeria if Sudan became head of the organisation.

Some African nations are wary of breaking a tradition of a rotating
presidency and possibly handing Nigeria another term after it has already
held the post for nearly two years.


Sudan said on Monday it would be ready to withdraw to avoid a split in the
AU, set up in 2002 to promote democracy, human rights and development across
the continent.

Some political analysts said a decision by the AU not to appoint Sudan would
show the organisation was determined not to be deflected from its aims and
could improve its credibility among Western donors.

"It will be seen as a wise step," said a U.N. official, who asked not to
identified as he was an observer at the summit.

African nations failed to reach a deal on Monday despite hours of talks
behind closed doors that delegates said included some heated exchanges
between rival camps.

"I hope things will go better (on Tuesday)," AU Commission President Alpha
Oumar Konare told Reuters.

Sudan has said it has the backing of North and East Africa, but diplomats
say southern, western and central African countries have been urging
Khartoum to withdraw its nomination.

To break the deadlock, the AU picked Egypt, Gabon, Zimbabwe, Djibouti and
Burkina Faso -- representing Africa's five regions -- to propose a solution.

"Whatever is agreed (by the five-nation panel) will be accepted. The
negotiations have been very difficult. People are tired. They will agree
because there is no room for any more discussion," said Western Sahara
representative Khadad Mhamed.

The debate has overshadowed the summit's official agenda, which was to focus
on culture and education.

Human rights issues, such as setting up the first pan-African human rights
court, are also being discussed.

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

IMF Prepares to Examine Zimbabwe Economy


      By Peta Thornycroft
      23 January 2006

The International Monetary Fund's Zimbabwe country team is preparing to
begin its six-month review of the economy. Economists say the IMF team will
find an even worse situation than last year when Zimbabwe narrowly avoided
expulsion for failure to repay its debt.

The Zimbabwe currency has lost about 35 percent of its value on the parallel
or black market since last Friday, the biggest single drop since the
financial crisis began six years ago.

Traders say the government has been buying foreign currency to pay foreign
bills, such as electricity, and this pushed up the rate.

Several businesses that depend on foreign currency for survival say they had
temporarily ceased trading because they could not afford the new rate of
150,000 Zimbabwe dollars for one $1.

They said the rate also went up because many industries had gone back to
work after the Christmas holidays and needed foreign currency for imports.

The International Monetary Fund will find more economic instability this
review period than ever before, according to analysts.

Economist and academic Tony Hawkins said the International Monetary Fund
will discover that Zimbabwe central bank policy has been inflationary. He
says since the last IMF visit, exports have substantially diminished and the
overall economic situation has deteriorated.

Last month's annual inflation rate was more than 600 percent and it is still
rising, according to traders.

Financial consultant Daniel Ndlela says the International Monetary Fund will
discover that although there have been some financial reforms the central
problem, lack of good governance, remains. He said Zimbabwe continues to be
critically short of foreign currency and that situation will not change in
the foreseeable future without political reform.

Zimbabwe repaid a total of about $140 million in the last six months, which
staved off its expulsion. The International Monetary Fund says it is not
sure where some of that money came from and it is not clear whether it will
be able to determine that during this visit.

Last October, Central Bank Governor Gideon Gono said Zimbabwe would pay the
remaining $144 million owed to the fund in two installments, next month and
in November.

But all optimistic financial predictions made by Gono and finance minister
Herbert Murerwa in the past six months have failed to materialize. They had
forecast a small growth in the economy, which some economists said was not

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Zimbabwe makes another payment to IMF

Mail and Guardian

                  Harare, Zimbabwe

                  24 January 2006 09:14

                        Zimbabwe has paid another $15-million toward
clearing its overdue debt with the International Monetary Fund (IMF), a
state-controlled newspaper reported on Tuesday as a fact-finding team from
the international lender was due to arrive in the country.

                        The Herald reported that Zimbabwe paid $10-million
at the end of December and another $5-million last week as it fights to pay
off its IMF obligations during an economic crisis.

                        The payments left Zimbabwe owing $14,6-million under
the IMF's general resources account, which has to be paid by March. Arrears
under the account can result in expulsion of a member country.

                        The Herald said the payments were made ahead of
Tuesday's IMF visit as well as the March meeting of the IMF executive board,
during which Zimbabwe and any sanctions against it are expected to top the

                        Zimbabwe owes another $125-million under the IMF's
poverty reduction and growth facility. Last year, the Southern African
country paid $169-million toward clearing its overdue debt, which dates back
to February 2001.

                        "Given the intricacy of the pressures confronting
the country, particularly on the foreign-currency front, the tremendous
efforts to meet the IMF payments have been a long-range marathon which
Zimbabwe has to push through to the touch line," central bank official
Munyaradzi Kereke told the Herald.

                        Zimbabwe is keen to resuscitate lines of credit from
the IMF, which last loaned money to Zimbabwe in 1999.

                        Hard-currency shortages over the past six years have
resulted in damaging shortages of fuel and power, while the country has
battled to pay for other vital imports required by nearly every sector of
the economy.

                        Local economic commentators said Zimbabwe's chances
of qualifying for more IMF loans are still a long way off. The government's
programme of seizing white-owned farms under a controversial
land-redistribution programme launched in 2000 is seen as a major stumbling
block because it has scared away investors.

                        The programme has seen a steep decline in
agricultural production, once the country's economic backbone. The United
Nations estimated that more than three million Zimbabweans are currently in
need of emergency food aid. -- Sapa-dpa

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Zimbabwe dollar crashes to record low on eve of IMF assessment of economy

Cape Times

      January 24, 2006

      By Peta Thornycroft

      Harare: The Zimbabwe currency has crashed about 50% on the parallel or
black market since last Friday, the biggest single drop since the financial
crisis began six years ago.

      The Zimbabwe dollar halved its value to around 150 000 to the US
greenback just as the International Monetary Fund (IMF) arrived in the
country to assess the economy.

      Several companies temporarily closed their doors and stopped trading
"until some sense returns as we do not have the volumes to absorb this", as
the chief executive of an engineering company in Bulawayo said. He did want
to be identified.

      Financial traders said the government itself had helped push down the
Zimbabwe dollar because it had been buying foreign currency to pay creditors
such as Eskom and for fuel for government reserves.

      Others said that traders were anticipating "a bad message" from
Reserve Bank governor Gideon Gono at his quarterly review statement on

      Last week he called in exporters and lambasted them for failing to
repatriate their foreign earnings immediately.

      They told him they were repatriating as late as possible to take
advantage of the dwindling value of the Zimbabwe dollar after being squeezed
for so long.

      "He then raised his voice and called us unpatriotic," said one

      Several businesses which depend on foreign currency for survival said
yesterday they had temporarily ceased trading as they could not afford the
new rate.

      Some said part of the reason for the fall of local currency was that
many industries had gone back to work after the Christmas holidays, creating
a surge in demand for foreign currency to pay for imports. Over Christmas
the parallel and official rates of exchange were at their closest level
since the crisis began, with less than 10% difference.

      The IMF, which begins its fact-finding in Harare today, will find more
economic instability this review period than ever before, according to

      Economist and academic Tony Hawkins said the IMF would discover that,
although the central bank had substantially allowed market forces to dictate
the value of the Zimbabwe dollar, the move, in isolation of other reforms,
had been inflationary.

      Inflation is more than 600% per annum and rising fast. Some predict it
will reach 1 000% before the end of January.

      "The IMF will also find that exports have dropped significantly since
their last visit here," Hawkins said.

      Financial consultant Daniel Ndlela agreed that the IMF would discover
that the country's central problem remained unchanged.

      "The IMF comes here because it has to, that is its job, but it will
find only bad news," he said.

      Zimbabwe made a surprising repayment to the IMF of US$120 million last
year which staved off its expulsion. Last October Gono pledged Zimbabwe
would pay the remaining US$144.3m owed to the IMF in two tranches, next
month and in November.

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Zimbabwe set for economic reform


January 24, 2006, 08:45

Zimbabwe says it is to reform its economy. Government officials have cited
the lifting of price controls as one such effort. The International Monetary
Fund (IMF)delegation will this week begin checking on Zimbabwe's economic
performance after the country narrowly escaped expulsion from the world
lending body last year.

The visit comes after Zimbabwe made a new payment of more than R70 million
to the IMF last week. However, given the country's economic problems, the
payments have prompted speculation and suspicion on the source of the funds.
Dumisani Muleya, the news editor for the Zimbabwe Independent newspaper,
says the situation has worsened since the IMF's last visit to that country.

"Clearly, they will find that the situation on the ground is appalling at
the moment. It has deteriorated dramatically since they were last here. They
will also find a little bit of movement in the direction of reforming the
economy, particularly the lifting of price controls in certain areas but
there are still some products which are still under price control. They will
also find that there has been some move in terms of relaxing the exchange

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Zimbabwe judge still on the run


January 24, 2006, 07:45

Zimbabwean police have no clue as to the whereabouts of Benjamin Paradza,
the fugitive high court judge, who skipped bail a fortnight ago.

The Herald newspaper quotes Wayne Bvudzijena, a police spokesperson, as
saying they have not yet come up with any new information regarding his
whereabouts. He says if Paradza has fled the country, he did so without a
valid travel document.

Paradza freed an opposition mayor in 2003 who had been arrested for holding
an illegal political meeting. His lawyers say the charges against him are
designed to punish him for embarrassing the government.

Paradza was convicted on two counts of corruption after he attempted to
incite two fellow judges to release the passport of Russell Labuschagne, his
business partner in a safari-hunting venture. Paradza, who was arrested in
2003, denied the charges claiming that he did not corruptly influence his
colleagues to release the passport of Labuschagne. - Sapa

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Zanu PF Crumbling Like A Deck Of Cards - MDC

Zim Daily

            Monday, January 23 2006 @ 12:40 AM GMT
            Contributed by: correspondent

            By Nelson Chamisa
            Zanu PF is now fragmented and in disarray. Every week, the
ruling party is spewing new political formations disgruntled with Robert
Mugabe's dictatorship. The evidence on the ground points to a party in the
intensive care unit. What we have witnessed in the last few months are the
formations of the United People's Movement (UPM) and its other political
cousin, the United People's Party led by former Zanu PF Masvingo provincial
chairman and war veteran, Daniel Shumba. Every day the nation is reminded of
a splintering monolithic party with disgruntlement in both its upper and
lower ranks. Since that ill-fated meeting at Dinyane Secondary School in
Tsholotsho on that fateful day in November 2004, the fall-out in Zanu PF has
been phenomenally unprecedented.

            And as Robert Mugabe's succession cauldron boils over, there
will be more drama at Zanu PF headquarters. There are more scalps to be
claimed as the drama of the Tsholotsho fall-out plays itself to its
conclusion. Zanu PF is crumbling like a deck of cards. The party and
government have no clue on how to generate foreign currency and procure the
much-needed fuel. Corruption has eaten into the very fabric of every state
institution and uncertainty is gripping Zanu PF corridors on who will
succeed Mugabe. Ministers are disgruntled, the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe
(RBZ) governor has been frustrated and there is low morale in the echelons
of government accompanied by ubiquitous disenchantment among all state
institutions because of poor salaries and squalid working conditions.

            The 10 percent low turn-out of voters in the Senate elections
even in the Zanu PF strongholds was because Zimbabweans, including Zanu PF
supporters, heeded the call by the people's President Morgan Tsvangirai to
ignore the useless election. And there is evidence of another season of
starvation despite the heavy rains. There is no fuel; especially diesel
which is desperately needed for the curing of tobacco amid sad reports in
the state newspapers that farmers are using firewood to treat the crop. The
CIO are said to be trekking every person known to have anything to do with
the ill-fated Tsholotsho declaration.

            Suspicions are high, and for the next few months, we will see
more of the cascading pillars of this dictatorship. We have seen the
insensitive dictator mortgaging the country's future by borrowing $US 10
million for his own personal aggrandizement while the majority of
Zimbabweans are going without food. Zimbabweans deserve an explanation on
this murky loan in which Mugabe is reported to have surrendered as security
property worth trillions of dollars when we all know the dictator has no
such property, unless he is mortgaging state assets.

            Zanu PF has allocated a massive $72 billion of taxpayers' money
into destabilizing the MDC through the Central Intelligence Organisation
            (CIO). The ruling party has been making frantic efforts to
infiltrate MDC structures but has dismally failed. The people's struggle
simply cannot be derailed. The people's aspirations are far greater than
Zanu PF's wish to perpetually reincarnate its dictatorship. Meanwhile, we in
the MDC are marching on. We have since closed the chapter of those few who
sought to derail the struggle and our rallies over the weekend and an
increasing membership base with 300 000 cards having been bought this month
alone are proof of our status as the only hope in a country where all hope
is lost.

            As the MDC national congress reaches the home stretch, the party
is emerging stronger. We continue to climb new pedestals as we seek to
galvanise our structures in line with our mission to dislodge the
dictatorship and establish a new beginning and a new Zimbabwe. Across the
entire spectrum of this nation, the people are geared up that this is a new
year with new hopes to prevail over our challenges. The people are brimming
with enthusiasm and confidence that our national Congress from 17-19 March
will deliver concrete methods to realize our vision of a new Zimbabwe. The
newly elected structures, from the branch to the provincial committees, are
quality cadres geared up for change. The confidence people have in the party
and its president, Mr Morgan Tsvangirai, is humbling. Our rallies, our
forums and our congresses have been humbling gatherings of thousands of
people with renewed hope and vigour to complete the struggle they started
six years ago.

            We have traversed the country over the past two months and the
people remain resolute in this struggle in which the lily-liver-ed have
become sell-outs for a few pieces of silver. Over the past three weeks, the
party has sold 300 000 party cards to new members. The people are tired of
surrendering their lives to fate and to political expediency. They now want
to hold their destiny firmly in their hands by joining the MDC. Only last
weekend, the MDC held several rallies across the country, including a youth
forum in Chitungwiza. At our Tsholotsho rally, also held at the weekend,
thousands bought party cards and placed their faith and commitment in the
people's struggle spearheaded by the MDC.

            In Gandanzara in Rusape and Checheche in Chipinge in Manicaland,
the two rallies were attended by over 10 000 people and hundreds bought
party cards and decided to join the troops in fighting for change. At the
Chitungwiza youth forum, the youth were clear that they would not be
sidelined in demanding a better deal for the young generation, which has
borne the brunt of this dictatorship through an unemployment rate of over 75
percent and high incidences of HIV and Aids. The youth said they remained
resolute in their faith that only the MDC carried their hope. They said only
the trusted leadership of President Tsvangirai, which has shaken the
foundations of this regime for the past six years, carried the burden of a
battered nation denied basic rights such as food, shelter, health and

            During the rallies and forums, the people expressed
disgruntlement over blind participation in elections which are continually
rigged by this regime. They said the continued victimization of the MDC
executive mayors and councillors demanded that the struggle be taken to a
higher plane. They demanded that the party engages on democratic resistance
to terminate Zanu PF's arrogance and its continued reversal of the people's
will. Two weeks ago, another humbling crowd gathered in Glen View and
renewed its commitment vows and support to the President and the party. And
indeed, come 17-19 March 2006, we pronounce and commit ourselves to a new
mode of democratic resistance to this regime. Together, we shall win.
Zimbabwe needs a new beginning and a new hope.

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Opportunists and Fraudsters In MDC UK Splinter Executive

Zim Daily

            Monday, January 23 2006 @ 12:39 AM GMT
            Contributed by: ZimdailyReporter
            The former secretary of the MDC UK, Sipho Nkala - in a seemingly
desperate attempt to remain politically relevant after being thrown out of
the MDC UK executive - has assembled a motley collection of suspicious
individuals in what she is still calling the MDC UK. She claims not to be
aligned to the Welshman Ncube splinter group, of the MDC yet she has already
been expelled from the main MDC led by Morgan Tsvangirai, leaving her with a
group of elected officials who don't know where they belong.

            MDC UK spokesman, Matthew Nyashanu, told Zimdaily that the MDC
UK general assembly held in in Birmingham resolved among other things that
members of the district executive who had openly and actively constantly
acted in contempt of the Presidency and at variance with national council
resolutions be totally excommunicated from the party with immediate effect.
Among those "elected" to positions in Nkala's executive where Silence
Chihuri, chairman, Sipho herself, secretary, Givemore Chindawi, organiser,
and one Frank Mamvura, information. "Those executive members are
automaticaly expelled from our structurers," said Nyashanu.

            In published articles in Nkala claims to
represent the "true aspirations of the party" and to remain loyal and bound
by its rules and guiding principles. Nyashanu said: "Maybe she is trying to
fool the people that she has convinced to follow her that she is not
dragging them into the failed Ncube camp.

            "This is because Ncube has already been exposed as a Zanu PF
agent by being allocated a grabbed farm and having his house guarded by the
Zimbabwe Republic Police's special protection unit which also guards top
Zanu PF officials. "She knows she cannot tell the people that we are in
Ncube's camp, yet she is not with us in the main party. So unless she
declares that this is a new UK-based MDC she is lying to people".

            Just like the Ncube splinter group in Zimbabwe some of the
people who were elected into her so-called executive on Sunday are people
who have failed to be elected in the real MDC structures. Most, if not all,
do not represent any branches in the UK; some never had branches and others
are coming from branches that have remained loyal to the Tsvangirai
leadership, so they are effectively expelled from those branches.

            Others are are known opportunists and fraudsters known to have
attended the Birmingham assembly and failed to realise their ambitions, and
also known to have sold fake home office stamps. One opportunistic
"businessman" reportedly cancelled a celebration braai that he had promised
after the Leicester meeting because he was not elected to any post at the
meeting. Although Nkala claims that 100 branches in the UK were represented,
our sources said there could not have been more than 50 people at the

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Massive Fuel Price Increase On The Cards

Zim Daily

            Monday, January 23 2006 @ 12:38 AM GMT
            Contributed by: correspondent
            THE price of petrol could soon go up to at least $125 000 a
litre if the government agrees to implement a pricing regime recommended by
oil companies at a stakeholders' meeting held recently, Zimdaily has heard.
Sources privy to the discussions this week said the current fuel supply
situation, characterised by erratic supplies which have resulted in
widespread shortages, was untenable and could only be solved by a radical
review of the pricing structure. The meetings were attended by Energy
minister Mike Nyambuya and senior officials from Noczim.

            Nyambuya confirmed the meetings but could not provide details on
the figures being suggested by the fuel marketers. "I am afraid I cant
divulge that information at this point," said Nyambuya. "That is
confidential. We cannot discuss that until we have finalised discussions."
Sources said the stakeholders agreed that there should not be radical
increases in the price of diesel, as this would have a serious impact on the
economy. The government has stepped up efforts to control prices of basic
commodities and any increase in the price of diesel would mean a review of
the prices of items on the controlled list.

            The marketers are said to have told the Energy minister that the
price of petrol was out of sync with the movement in the price of crude oil
on the international markets, and the steep decline of the Zimbabwe dollar
against hard currencies and the seismic inflationary environment. In 2005
year-on-year inflation closed at around 502%. It has since risen to almost
600%. Zimdaily heard that the marketers want the government to deregulate
the industry by ceding control on the price of fuel to restore viability.

            Both established and new indigenous players were agreed that
there should be a price increase as they have invested heavily in building
service stations and purchasing tankers. They are agreed the price should be
at least $125 000 a litre. "Our margins are very low because of the current
prices," said one indigenous player. "There are no real returns on our
investment because government policy is not benefiting the industry."
            The Petroleum Marketers Association representing most of the
established marketers, had not responded to written questions sent to them
last week.

            Sources said Nyambuya promised to take the recommendations to
cabinet. The current fuel woes could be a permanent feature of the country's
economic life as government is unable to negotiate significant lines of
credit. Zimdaily understands that government has secured a US$10 million
line of credit from Afrexim bank but this will only purchase a week's
supply. The country requires US$40 million a month for fuel procurement.
Industry sources said government was generally resigned to negotiating any
major deals, as these would only increase the country's indebtedness.

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Zanu PF Gives Al-Jazeera Green Light To Set Up Harare Bureau

Zim Daily

            Monday, January 23 2006 @ 12:38 AM GMT
            Contributed by: correspondent
            The governing Zanu PF party, desperate for favourable coverage,
has granted the Qatar-based Arabic news channel al-Jazeera the green light
to set up a news bureau in Harare, Zimdaily heard yesterday. Information
minister Tichaona Jokonya is said to have been given the go ahead by
President Mugabe to allow the news channel to gather news from the capital.
Although Jokonya was unavailable for comment, sources in the Information
ministry told Zimdaily that the Information chief has since written to
Al-Jazeera inviting them to pay their registration fee to the Media and
Information Commssion. Representatives from al-Jazeera met Jokonya and other
government officials last week where government was given assurances that
the newschannel would not be hostile towards government.

            Zimbabwe has been hostile to foreign journalists particularly
from Western capitals. The granting of Al Jazeera's go ahead betrays
government's double standards in terms of licencing for foreign journalists
and media houses. During last week's meeting, al-Jazeera's director of news,
Steve Clarke, outlined the news agency's mission and proposals in Zimbabwe,
saying "it is important that events taking place in Zimbabwe be reported
factually at international level." Andrew Symonds, the organisation's
African bureau chief, was reported as saying he "feels that Africa,
including Zimbabwe, is not receiving adequate and objective coverage despite
its significance on the international arena."

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

'Shortage Of Inputs To Plummet Tobacco Production'

Zim Daily

            Monday, January 23 2006 @ 12:37 AM GMT
            Contributed by: correspondent
            DIVERSIFIED agricultural concern, TSL Limited has warned tobacco
production will plummet in the forthcoming season due to shortages of
essential agricultural inputs. TSL made the revelations in its audited
financial statements as at October 31 2005 released top the market last
week. "Major shortages of agricultural inputs such as fuel, fertilizer and
chemicals will impact negatively on national production of most crops," said
the group in its outlook analysis "Given these constrains tobacco production
is likely to decline in the coming season."

            TSL chairman, Peter Richards said the group is devising
mechanisms to participate in the rebuilding exercise of the country's ailing
agricultural sector, which forms the economy's backbone: "The group is
evaluating several initiatives to participate in the rebuilding of
agricultures in Zimbabwe and is confident that these will bear in the
future. We believe we've a vital role to play in the revival of the
agricultural production and we're seeking ways to execute this strategy."

            Chemical producer, Chemco in, which TSL has an ownership stake
of 82% echoed the same sentiments arguing that delays in concessionary
funding for farming activities spearheaded by the central bank has not
resulted in significant increases in agricultural production with tobacco
output badly affected. "Unavailability of foreign currency as well as
fertilizer shortages in the latter half of the year have hampered
agricultural production and will continue to do so in the short to medium

            Before government's botched land reform tobacco used to account
for 30% of the country's gross foreign currency earnings thus becoming known
as the "golden leaf" due to surging Virginia tobacco sales. Sales of
Zimbabwe's major export, Virginia flue-cured tobacco, closed last year
fetching about $104-million (about R661-million) on a crop that was just a
fraction of what was harvested before the seizure of 5 000 white-owned
commercial farms. Six years ago tobacco fetched about $400-million during a
year when the average price was very low because of bumper crops in the
United States and Brazil.

            Economists estimated $2-billion (R12-billion) would have been
earned from last year's tobacco crop, at current prices, if the industry had
remained undisturbed and able to produce Zimbabwe's traditional high quality
low nicotine content "flavored " tobacco.

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

China's great rape of Africa

Taiwan News

      2006-01-24 / KNIGHT RIDDER / By Llewellyn King

            When it comes to China's extraordinary grab for the natural
wealth of Africa, the Chinese keep their eyes on the prize. No hand is too
bloody to shake. No genocidal lunatic too awful for an embrace. And nobody
will be turned down when they order, with special credit facilities, weapons
for oppressing civilian populations.
            China is securing the wealth of Africa for itself from Sudan to
Zimbabwe, with tentacles reaching into South Africa. A plethora of heads of
failed states could not be happier.

            Never has one country set out to secure the treasure and
allegiance of a whole continent in the way that China is now doing in
Africa. You would have to look back to the British takeover the subcontinent
of India for such blatant commercial imperialism.

            The scale and the speed of the Chinese penetration of Africa is
overwhelming. To secure oil from Nigeria, the Chinese make noises about
Nigeria getting a seat on the U.N. Security Council. Likewise, China refuses
to condemn Sudan for the genocide in Darfur.

            The Chinese policy is one of hear-no-evil, see-no-evil so long
as they have access to the resources that they want.

            A case in point is China's enthusiasm for Robert Mugabe, who has
brought Zimbabwe to ruin and is feted by Beijing and in laudatory statements
in Africa. Mugabe may be one of the worst rulers Africa has seen, but
Beijing coddles him. The Chinese have provided him with a new air force,
tools for censoring the Internet and financial support.

            To the north, where Western companies have abandoned Zambia
because of its corruption, the Chinese have moved in to mine its copper,
make textiles and set up model farms. In Rwanda, they are building roads.
And in any resource-rich African country, the Chinese are ready to help so
long as they have a first chance at the chrome, copper, iron ore, uranium,
gas, oil and prime farmland.

            The Chinese have just issued a white paper on Africa that speaks
about their role in arming anti-colonial rebels in the middle of the last
century, and guarantees no interference in African nations' internal

            The white paper speaks about trade and friendship, investment
and collaboration on infrastructure projects. For the Africans, this is a
glorious departure from Western carping, moral strictures, and resistance to

            Bribing their way in

            Diplomats say the Chinese way is to hand over the bribes in the
beginning and toughen their stands later. Any thug is a good man in the
Chinese book, provided the Chinese get the resources they need to continue
their economic expansion. Whereas the imperialists of the 19th century came
with Bibles, laws and moral codes, the Chinese have hit Africa without
conditions beyond the demand for access to its riches.

            Oddly, a Chinese assault on Africa was often predicted by the
waning colonial administrations in the 20th century. Then, it seemed like
hysteria. Now, it is real.

            On the ground, the new imperialists are not as well received by
the general populace as they are by their leaders. China is underwriting the
construction of Mugabe's US$15 million retirement home, while he leveled
citizens' shacks in a Nero-like effort at urban renewal. On the streets of
Harare, Zimbabwe's capital, the Chinese are mocked for their alien ways,
lack of cool and affinity for the regime.

            In Zambia, the Chinese have promised that they will develop the
mother lode of copper, which lies under that country's worked-out mines.
Anglo-American, an international mining corporation, abandoned its endeavors
after investing hundreds of millions of dollars because of government
corruption and interference. The Chinese seem to think that they can
overcome these local difficulties by buying off top politicians as they go
after the vital copper.

            Chinese trade with Africa stands at US$76 billion, and it is
growing every year. Primarily, this consists of raw materials shipped to
China, with a smaller trade of very inexpensive Chinese goods shipped to, or
dumped on, African markets. African consumers complain that they do not get
the best of Chinese production, which goes to Europe and the United States.

            In a cruel twist, the best farmland - once reserved for white
farmers - in Zambia and Zimbabwe, is being made available to Chinese
companies for industrial farming. Everyone is happy, except for the people
of Africa, who continue to die of AIDS and starvation, as their evil leaders
and their new Chinese friends write a new chapter in the exploitation of

            Llewellyn King is chairman and CEO of the King Publishing Co.
(, publisher of White House Weekly and Energy Daily.

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Poll finds surprising optimists


      Iraqis and Afghans are the among most optimistic people in the world
when it comes to their economic future, a new survey for the BBC suggests.
      Italians join people in Zimbabwe and DR Congo as the most downcast
about their future, according to the poll of 37,500 people in 32 nations.

      The World Bank gets a clear vote of confidence, with 55% saying it has
a positive influence in the world.

      Its biggest boosters are in regions where it is most active.

      Nigeria, Kenya, Tanzania, Indonesia and Afghanistan showed marked
support for the World Bank.

      The poll marks a rare boost for the Bank's officials, who often are
the focus of criticism both from politicians and anti-poverty campaigners
around the world.

      'Year zero'?

      Canadians are bullish not just about their own finances (64%), but
also about the economic prospects of their country (63%).

      They are joined in their optimism by the people of two countries
devastated by war and civil conflict, Iraq and Afghanistan.

      In Afghanistan 70% say their own circumstances are improving, and 57%
believe that the country overall is on the way up.

      In Iraq 65% believe their personal life is getting better, and 56% are
upbeat about the country's economy.

      The experts at polling firm Globescan, who conducted the survey,
venture the guess that war may have created a "year zero" experience of
collectively starting over.

      Other countries feeling good about themselves are India, Finland,
South Africa, Australia, Senegal and the United Kingdom.

      Abject Zimbabwe

      Among the six countries with unhappy majorities, Zimbabweans stand out
as the most miserable lot.

      An overwhelming 90% of those interviewed say their country's economy
is getting worse, and 84% are dubious about their own financial future.

      Perhaps surprisingly, the war-ravaged Democratic Republic of Congo has
similar numbers of pessimists to prosperous Italy and South Korea, where
nearly 80% worry about their nation's economy and between 53 and 63% believe
their own financial future will be difficult.

      Indonesians, meanwhile, still feel the economic aftermath of the
devastating tsunami a year ago.

      And while France appears to sink in gloom, Germans seem to believe
that their economy is turning the corner.

      The BBC World Service poll was released on the day before the start of
the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum in Davos, where issues like
poverty and economic success are high on the agenda.

      Top company executives and world leaders will discuss how to tackle
economic failure in developing countries, and the impact of globalisation in
the industrialised world.

      The poll, commissioned by BBC World Service, was conducted by
Globescan and surveyed 37,572 people in 32 countries between October 2005
and January 2006.

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Mugabe bishops face lengthy jail terms for rape

New Zimbabwe

By Staff Reporter
Last updated: 01/24/2006 11:00:51
THREE of President Robert Mugabe's most vocal ecclesiastical supporters face
long jail terms for rape.

Two of the pastors who have shielded Mugabe and his party in the face of
growing poverty and political violence have been sentenced to a total of 39
years in prison, and a third faces a similar sentence if convicted.

Obadiah Msindo, head of the Destiny of Africa Network and enthusiastic donor
to the Zimbabwe President and his wife faces jail after his maid claimed she
had been raped FIVE times.

Msindo, who has presided over several State occasions at the Heroes Acre,
has previously offered prayers for Mugabe and denounced Zimbabwe's official
opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC).

Sources told New Monday that police commissioner, Augustine
Chihuri, had unsuccessfully tried to block Msindo's arrest, but the Director
of Public Prosecutions, Loice Matanda Moyo, had ordered his prosecution
after pressure by women's groups.

On Thursday last week, one of Mugabe's most visible sympathisers in the
Church, pastor Lawrence Katsiru of the apostolic sect, who notoriously
commanded his followers to Zanu PF gatherings, was slapped with an effective
seven years in jail for raping a 13 year old girl.

Prosecutors said Katsiru took the minor for "counseling" at his farm after
her parents had complained about her bad behavior.

Katsiru, the High Court heard, indicated that he wanted to take the girl to
Marondera "to spiritually discipline her", and raped her once on the way.

Another pastor, Madzibaba Nzira, who at one time announced that he had a
prophecy to the effect that Mugabe was Zimbabwe's rightful ruler, was last
year slapped with a 32-year jail term for raping a woman under his sect.

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Zesa Holdings Must Charge Economic Rates

The Herald (Harare)

January 24, 2006
Posted to the web January 23, 2006


IT would not be surprising in this current establishment to wake up to no
electricity, and perhaps endure the anguish for a week or so -- in milder

The now common phenomena is indiscriminate.

It cuts across the social strata: from very small households to those in
plush suburbs, and then, of course, industry.

National power utility Zesa Holdings Ltd is the "unsung hero", one whose
exasperating heroics have earned all and sundry regular power cuts.

However, while in recent years Zesa has disappointed in most aspects of its
service delivery, very few have seriously considered why the company has
performed the way it is doing.

Of course, there is the tired although real argument of inadequate foreign
currency for purchase of spare parts.

But it could be noted that some of the things usually regarded as small and
of no significance have also hamstrung the company's capacity.

According to economists, Zesa Holdings' pricing has not been economical, and
there would be little reason for consumers to expect "super service" from an
undercharging parastatal, especially in a difficult trading environment like

With inflation built-in tariffs, Zesa could make a modest profit or at least
break even.

"Economic rates for utility services are welcome, but it is not certain
whether they would be affordable," said an economist with a local bank who
did not want to be identified.

"However, there has always been a good case for Zesa to review upwards its
tariff charges. The current pricing is not viable. It only puts the firm in
a real fix."

Already, Zesa has proposed a tariff increase of 237 percent subject to
approval by the Zimbabwe Electricity Regulatory Authority.

Zimbabwe's electricity is the cheapest in the region, if not in the whole of
Africa, where candlelight is much more expensive than electricity.

The country is also overburdened by costs on electricity imports (35 percent
of total requirement), which exert a lot of pressure on Zesa's margins that
are already overstretched by weak pricing and high input costs.

Economic commentators believe economic tariff adjustments would slash down
the costs of importing electricity, and save some funds for power expansion
projects, particularly in the absence of significant amounts of forex.

A Harare analyst, Mr Stan Chimbodza, said: "I sympathise with Zesa, but I
think they can still do more. The volatile exchange rates will always mess
them up. Electricity prices in Zimbabwe are still so low that they do not
even cover the long-run marginal costs of producing electricity so any
investor is not going to be interested in such projects where they cannot
recover their money. The prices have to increase, unfortunately or

Zesa has the dilemma of undertaking major power generation projects to boost
production ahead of the anticipated power shortage to hit across the region
in 2007, and at the same time cut on import costs yet ensuring Zimbabwe is
not blackened out in come next year.

"As an urgent matter, Zesa ought to abandon this filthy and expensive
practice of importing electricity," Mr Chimbodza added.

"The few millions spent on imports could be channelled towards development
of other power generating projects. Already, Zesa has become synonymous with
regular power cuts. I can't understand why they cannot cut imports by half
and continue with load-shedding -- it's nothing new we are now used to it -- 
whilst those funds are channelled into expansion projects.

"Load-shedding can be implemented on residential consumers, remember these
are only about 20 percent -- if not less -- of the total consumers.
Commercial and industrial consumers are the main concern when it comes to
load-shedding. You and me can use candles and firewood . . ."

If implemented, the new tariffs are expected to help Zesa mobilise funds to
acquire spare parts and educate consumers on the efficient use of energy.

The power utility has been operating in the red during the past four years,
and has cited prohibitive operational costs and uneconomic pricing as its
major drawbacks. Southern Africa is projected to experience power shortages
in 2007, prompting Zesa Holdings to put in place long-term plans to augment
its power base.

Back to the Top
Back to Index