The word of a head of state such as Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe was
beyond challenge, Organisation of African Unity Secretary-General Amara Essy
"He has said he will allow international observers, except from Britain,"
to cover presidential elections on March 9 and 10, Essy told a New York news
According to Essy, Mugabe "said he had never cheated in his life and he was
not going to start now."
"When a head of state says that, you cannot doubt his word," the
Essy was in New York for a meeting of the United Nations Security Council
on the problems facing Africa.
Commonwealth ministers are due to meet in London tomorrow, when Britain is
expected to call for Zimbabwe's suspension from the organisation.
The EU yesterday threatened Harare with "targeted sanctions" if it failed
to approve a European team of observers for the elections within a week.
The EU also urged Zimbabwe not to hinder the efforts of the international
press to cover the elections, while warning Harare against human rights
violations or violence against political opposition.
"It is true that people demonise President Mugabe," Essy said.
SERVING and retired members of the army are behind the training of the Zanu
PF youths at the Border Gezi Training Centre and other notorious camps, where
youths are undergoing military training under the guise of national youth
The latest allegations contradict statements made by senior government
officials, that the national youth service is intended to instill a sense of
patriotism in young people.
Army sources said while the director of the National Youth Service, David
Munyoro, is a civilian, the unit is being run by a military man, Retired
Brigadier Boniface Hurungudu.
Hurungudu, the deputy director, is stationed at Zanu PF headquarters in
Harare, at the offices of the Ministry of Youth Development, Gender and
The minister, Elliot Manyika, could not be reached for comment yesterday,
on the involvement of the army. His deputy, Shuvai Mahofa, refused to comment.
Insiders said apart from the army personnel who offer basic military
training, Hurungudu has allegedly recruited war veterans as instructors in some
of the camps.
At the Border Gezi Training Centre, the camp commandant is Colonel Josphat
Shumba of the army and a former director of Military Intelligence.
Out of the 30 instructors and administrators at the Centre, 15 are either
serving or retired army officers while others are war veterans co-opted by
Hurungudu, sources said.
One such war veteran is Francis Zimuto, better known as "Black Jesus".
Zimuto, who led the first farm invasion in Masvingo in 2000, is based at
the main camp in Mount Darwin, while other war veterans run military camps
Contacted for comment yesterday, Hurungudu confirmed the army was involved
but only in an administrative capacity.
He acknowledged the involvement of "Black Jesus" in the training programme.
He said the war veteran was not an instructor but was only involved in
"setting up" the camp.
"These army people you talk about are not
instructors," he said. "We only have about three retired officers at the camp
and they are involved in administration."
He referred further questions to Munyoro, who was said to be out of his
Another instructor is Daniel Museve, a Retired Wing Commander in the Air
Force, who has not reported for work due to illness since September, 2001.
But dissension has started to appear in the army ranks, with some accusing
Hurungudu of wielding enormous power and co-opting war veterans into the
"While people can understandably criticise the army’s involvement, the
co-option of war veterans has really killed the national service," said the
He said the war veterans were responsible for some of the apparently
illegal conduct of the youth brigade.
"The programme has lost its national outlook. It is now being run by
warlords in the various camps throughout the country and there is no proper
mechanism of control," an army insider said.
"Criminals and fugitives from the law have sought sanctuary in the
programme, which has now lost respect among the people."
The army officials said before the end of February, more terror camps would
be established at Guyu in Gwanda, Mushagashe in Masvingo, Dadaya in the Midlands
and Binga in Matabeleland North.
Cosatu urges pressure on Zimbabwe
1/30/02 8:23:57 AM (GMT +2)
From Our Correspondent in Bulawayo
THE Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) has mobilised civic
organisations in that country to put pressure on regional leaders to act against
the deteriorating human rights situation in Zimbabwe.
Cosatu is the largest coalition of domestic trade unions in the region and
is an ally of the ruling African National Congress in South Africa.
Cosatu said on Monday it had embraced the Centre of Violence and
Reconciliation, Network of Independent Monitors, South African NGO coalition,
Lawyers for Human Rights, Ceasefire and Palliative Medicine Institute to press
Mugabe to restore democracy.
Teenager facing kidnapping charges redetained
1/30/02 8:32:57 AM (GMT +2)
THE 17-year-old son of a Harare film-maker who is on $20 000 bail was on
Friday redetained by Highlands police when he went to report to them in the
His mother said her son was to be charged with murder. The teenager, who is
facing kidnapping and assault charges, was granted bail by a Marondera
magistrate on Wednesday.
The State’s case is that two weeks ago, the teenager led a group of seven
who kidnapped and assaulted unidentified people in Murehwa.
The court ordered him to surrender his travel documents, report three times
a week to Highlands Police Station and not to travel beyond a 20-km radius of
On Friday, two of the teenager’s alleged accomplices, Admire Dickson
Kasawe, 26, and Luke Sande Dehwa, 23, appeared before Harare provincial
magistrate Dominic Muzawazi, on charges of malicious injury to property,
attempted murder and kidnapping.
They were remanded in custody to 11 February and advised to apply for bail
to the High Court. Prosecutor Allan Mabande said Kasawe and Dehwa were part of
an MDC group code-named "Hit Squad," living at a safe house in Greendale.
On 11 January, the pair allegedly ganged up with unnamed accomplices and
drove to Bindura, where they randomly attacked Zanu PF supporters.
They allegedly petrol-bombed a shop belonging to one Batsirai Kanokamhina,
destroying property worth $1 million.
Two days later the group, allegedly driven in a Nissan truck by the
teenager, went to Bobo Farm near Old Mabvuku and attacked Zanu PF supporters
occupying the farm.
During the disturbances, one of them allegedly hurled a petrol bomb at a
house belonging to Idah Tazvivinga. The bomb allegedly destroyed property,
including a radio and television set. Tazvivinga was allegedly burnt on the
stomach and legs.
Mabande said on Thursday last week, Kasawe and Dehwa and their colleagues
went to Musami business centre in Murehwa and abducted Francis Matete of Matete
They allegedly took him to a bushy spot about 15km from Musami, assaulted
him and left him tied to a tree.
As they drove away, their truck developed a fault near a farm in Marondera
and all the members of the group allegedly fled, leaving the teenager to repair
it by himself.
He was captured by a group of people occupying the nearby farm and
allegedly implicated Kasawe and Dehwa. They were subsequently arrested in
Misa implores Mugabe to stop repressive legislation
1/30/02 8:22:21 AM (GMT +2)
By Conrad Nyamutata Chief Reporter
THE Media Institute of Southern Africa (Misa) has called on President
Mugabe to stop legislation which curtails the freedom of the media.
In a letter, Luckson Chipare, the regional director of Misa, said Mugabe
should take a strong stand against continued human rights and media freedom
He said the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Bill, brought
before Parliament yesterday, and the Public Order and Security Act, were
"Misa implores you to denounce the ongoing and intensifying victimisation
of media practitioners and violations of media freedoms.
"Misa believes that
the passing of these repressive laws is an attempt by your government to
legalise the ongoing harassment of journalists."
Misa was expressing its concerns because Zimbabwe was an important member
of the Southern Africa Development Community.
"Misa protests this bill and the legislation because they impose excessive
restrictions on the content of what the media may publish or broadcast," said
Misa has written to Kofi Annan, the Secretary-General of the United
Nations, saying the world body should make Zimbabwe accountable to the Universal
Declaration of Human Rights, which allows free expression.
In a letter to the President of the Council of the European Union, Jose
Maria Aznar, Chipare said violations of media freedoms in Zimbabwe had reached a
point where an unambiguous stand had to be taken to restore the basic tenets of
democracy and human rights.
Assault earns war veteran six months in prison
1/30/02 8:28:45 AM (GMT +2)
From Energy Bara in Masvingo
GEORGE Rapozo, 45, a war veteran who had wreaked havoc in Zimuto communal
lands by erecting illegal roadblocks and demanding Zanu PF membership cards, was
yesterday sentenced to six months in jail for assaulting an alleged MDC
Rapozo pleaded guilty to assault with intent to cause grievous bodily harm
when he appeared before a Masvingo magistrate Itai Matipira. He was sentenced to
nine months but three months were conditionally suspended for five years.
The court heard that on 20 January Rapozo, in the company of a group of
Zanu PF youths, erected an illegal roadblock at Mutani Village, in Zimuto.
They stopped Maxwell Mano who was driving his car to Harare.
Rapozo then alleged that Mano was an MDC supporter distributing party cards
in the area.
The war veteran ordered the youths to search Mano’s car. A shotgun was
found in the car and Mano produced a firearm certificate. Rapozo confiscated the
gun from Mano, forcibly taking 16 rounds of ammunition and the certificate.
On Rapozo’s orders the youths severely beat Mano. He later ordered Mano to
return to his car.
Mano reported the matter to the police at Zimuto base.
Passing the judgment Matipira said: "It seems you pleaded guilty because
there was no option since evidence against you was overwhelming.
"You assaulted the complainant without any provocation at all. Even
President Mugabe is on record as pleading with the people to refrain from
"We all know that we must respect war veterans but should condemn
them where they go astray."
War vets blamed for $26 million loss at Willdale Limited
1/30/02 9:17:29 AM (GMT +2)
INDIVIDUALS calling themselves war veterans severely disrupted operations
at one of the country’s major brick-making concerns, Willdale Limited
(Willdale), resulting in a brick stock loss of $26 million, the company said.
The veterans who last year caused havoc to the economy when they were
responsible for the closure of about 400 companies, because of poor business and
lack of security, also played a major part in Willdale’s below-par performance.
In its results announced yesterday, for the period ending 30 September,
2001, Willdale said: "The company had an extremely difficult year.
"Trading and operating conditions were volatile and often insecure.
"Willdale incurred brick stock losses of $26 million and further fixed
asset losses and write-downs of at least $18 million, at historical values,
during the year as a direct and indirect result of outside interference.
"This included theft of computer hardware and software and numerous other
items of plant and equipment.
"These matters have been reported to the police and, where applicable, the
company is pressing for the offenders to be prosecuted."
Willdale said it was now "fully borrowed" and it does "not have cash
resources to repay loans, replace certain assets and to procure vital spare
parts needed to finalise the commissioning of the new factory".
"In these circumstances, and subject to the effects of price control and
land acquisition notices, your board continues to seek stakeholder agreement on
an appropriate restructuring exercise that will ease the interest burden,
release sufficient working capital and provide a stable capital base from which
Willdale can clear its present debt burden from future operating cash flows,"
Willdale told shareholders yesterday.
"Given a timeous restructuring, the board remains confident of the
company’s future success, should normal trading conditions return.
was forecast to return to profitability during 2002. However, the introduction
of price control regulations subsequent to the financial year-end, renders that
The Minister of Industry and International Trade, Dr Herbert Murerwa,
taking the cue from his counterpart at Finance and Economic Development, Dr
Simba Makoni, last year introduced price controls on various commodities,
The minister said this would go a "long way to enable citizens to build and
own their properties".
Willdale said the price controls had reduced prices
by more than 40 percent, rendering "all lines unprofitable on a post-financial
"The position is obviously unsustainable and negotiations are continuing
with the authorities to set the price of bricks at more realistic levels,"
Willdale said, yesterday.
Daily News - Leader Page
Destroying freedom in the name of the people
1/30/02 9:08:44 AM (GMT +2)
Probably the most invidious deceit in Zimbabwe since Zanu PF came to
power has been its invocation of the people each time it has seen fit to embark
on an outrage in pursuit of its endless self-interest. All manner of cruelty,
calumny and kleptomania have been committed in the name of the people.
Everybody knows that, despite the heavy toll in the form of lost lives and
destruction of infrastructure during our internecine war that led to a new
political dispensation, now sadly turned into a nightmare, this country was
nevertheless considered the jewel of Africa at independence.
We had a highly literate populace by Third World standards, well developed
communication systems and a manufacturing industrial base second only to that of
South Africa in the sub-continent.
But, deceptively claiming to be doing it in the interest of the people, to
create that utopia called egalitarian society, the Zanu PF government opted for
a command economy and, in the process, dragged the country along a path that led
to only one destination: economic ruin for the country and obscene wealth for
those in power.
Even when everyone else, including the Russians, the archetypal exponents
of communism, were abandoning that ideology, President Mugabe was busy declaring
himself the most faithful "disciple" of the Marxist-Leninist philosophy. That
declaration was made during a visit to Uganda before Yoweri Museveni was
ditched, in true Big Brother fashion, as a traitor now supposedly supping with
the ogre that Morgan Tsvangirai and his MDC are said to be.
It was only when the government realised that it was heading for a balance
of payments cul-de-sac that it abandoned its command economy in favour of a free
market economy and trade liberalisation, which was the International Monetary
Fund and World Bank’s sine qua non for financial aid to Zimbabwe.
But nothing has ever and probably never will expose Zanu PF’s
deceit as clearly as its current battle cry: "People first".
In the name of the people they have destroyed agriculture and, in the
process, the party is starving those very people it purports to be putting
In the name of the people, Zanu PF has almost totally destroyed the
country’s entire mining, manufacturing and tourism industries.
The direct effect of that has been record high unemployment and abject
It must be seen as the height of cruelty and heartlessness that the ruling
party should now be so shamelessly and openly exploiting that plight.
This the party is doing through offering the hordes of jobless youths
unlimited alcohol and niggardly stipends in exchange for terrorising their
parents and other elders whose consciences will not allow them to support Zanu
PF’s insane policies.
Nothing that Zanu PF is doing supports the claim that it is putting people
first, particularly in all those draconian Bills it has been railroading through
Parliament over the past few weeks.
One of the main objectives of the fight for independence was to create a
society free of any form of legalised discrimination; a society which was
colour-blind; a society in which there was complete justice, freedom and total
equality before the law.
But the recent laws and other arbitrary injunctions made possible by the
use of the Presidential Powers Act have had the effect of making ours a society
where there is no freedom, no justice, no equality before the law and where only
supporters of Zanu PF are safe.
Zanu PF says that the MDC is hell-bent on reversing the gains of our
But the truth is that what the ruling party has been
doing over the past two years is what has reversed all the gains of our
The President is even trying to kill democracy by blocking all democratic
processes using his special powers, proved time and again to be ultra vires the
Constitution, as he is attempting to do with the Harare council elections which
the courts have ordered held by 11 February.
Where is government going to contest the ruling without triggering a
constitutional crisis when the highest court has ruled the commission
Daily News - Leader Page
World must act to prevent bloodbath in Zimbabwe
1/30/02 9:10:17 AM (GMT +2)
By Keith Martin
WHILE the world’s attention is focused on Afghanistan, Zimbabwe’s President
Robert Mugabe has been inflicting a campaign of terror on his country.
Although portrayed as a conflict over redistribution of land from a few
white commercial farmers to the landless black majority, nothing could be
further from the truth.
Mugabe has been blaming whites for the country’s devastated economy and
social ills. He has been violating them accordingly, their suffering hitting the
But the real target of Mugabe’s brutality is the rural black population.
For the first time in his 21-year history as leader of the country, Mugabe
and his Zanu PF party are faced with the strong possibility of losing the March
presidential election. Fed up with the State-sponsored violence, corruption and
gross violations of their basic human rights, the general population has finally
mobilised into a new opposition party, the MDC, led by the young, dynamic Morgan
Fearful of losing his grip on power, Mugabe has unleashed a campaign of
terror on his fellow countrymen.
Earlier this year he threatened and
intimidated three Supreme Court judges, forcing them to step down, and appointed
his own lackeys to replace them.
This has enabled him to write the laws of the land as he sees fit or
to ignore them. With the police and army firmly under his thumb, he has
sanctioned rapes, beatings and arson to maintain his hold on power.
Of course, none of this is surprising to anyone who has watched the
President operate. After he gained power in 1980, Mugabe ordered his North
Korea-trained 5 Brigade to murder 16 000 civilians of the minority Ndebele tribe
in western Zimbabwe, an act of violence intended to consolidate his power that
the international community simply ignored.
Recently I met with dozens of black farm workers in rural Zimbabwe.
It was de javu listening to their chilling accounts of being beaten, raped,
having their homes pillaged and their crops destroyed.
The perpetrators, who are mainly referred to as "war veterans" in the
Press, are really thugs hired by the ruling party to terrorise the population.
Witness after witness told of extreme violence meted out by these gangs,
committed in full view of the police, who have been ordered by the government
not to interfere.
The objective of this exercise is not to redistribute land, but to
intimidate the farm workers into voting for the ruling party or not at all.
Many flee their farms, which are either taken over by supporters of Mugabe
or left derelict.
The animals are slaughtered. Deforestation follows. Top soil is lost, the
farms are rendered useless.
Beyond losing their land, livelihood and possessions, the rural black
majority face starvation as the war veterans have forbidden their planting of
Mugabe’s henchmen have also forced rural people to attend political rallies
in support of the ruling party.
Those who resist, or who are suspected of being opposition supporters, are
often beaten or murdered.
To further hide this State-sponsored violence, Mugabe has banned foreign
journalists from his country and has been intimidating the independent Press.
The State-controlled Herald newspaper spews out violent, anti-white and
anti-opposition rhetoric, a dangerous precursor to mass violence.
Zimbabwe is caught in a deadly downward spiral. Given the President’s
murderous history, there is little doubt the killings will escalate and could
number in the tens of thousands.
Mugabe, says an editor of a leading independent Zimbabwe newspaper, "will
listen to no one".
Thus, if we do not want Zimbabwe to implode like so many
African countries before it, the international community must act quickly and
We must insist that:
* The election monitors that Mugabe agreed to have
in the country have immediate access to all regions of Zimbabwe.
* There is an immediate return to the rule of law and that land reform
takes place according to the Abuja Agreement to which Zimbabwe agreed in
* All farm invaders must be immediately removed.
If the government of
Zimbabwe does not comply with these stipulations, the following sanctions must
* The personal assets of Mugabe and his administration must be frozen
* An international travel ban must be placed on Mugabe and his ministers
* Zimbabwe should be suspended from the Commonwealth.
* An arms embargo should be imposed on the country.
The only hope for preventing a slaughter in Zimbabwe is if the
international community stands firm in its demands and has the courage to
implement punitive measures if those demands are not met.
We cannot soft-pedal this issue, or compromise on the rule of law and the
upholding of basic human rights.
If we do, Mugabe will take full advantage of our indecision.
If we fail to act, many thousands of innocent lives will be lost.
We saw what happened in Rwanda. Will we allow a similar tragedy to unfold
* Keith Martin is the Member of Parliament for Esquimalt-Juan de Fuca in
Zimbabwe journalists arrested, eye on
HARARE, Jan. 30 — Zimbabwean police
arrested three local journalists on Wednesday as the parliamentary legal
committee forged a revised media bill that is unlikely to halt criticism that it
will curb a free press.
The reporters were arrested outside
parliament after riot police broke up a media protest against the legislation
which seeks to impose tight controls on local and foreign media.
Critics say the measure aims to
suppress criticism of President Robert Mugabe in the run-up to March elections
in which he faces the strongest threat to his 22-year rule.
The draft bill met with stiff
resistance from some sectors within the ruling ZANU-PF party, but the revised
version appeared little changed.
draft bill is part of a raft of legislation that has drawn international
condemnation, including the threat of European Union sanctions.
But Commonwealth foreign ministers
meeting in London ignored British calls for Zimbabwe's immediate suspension from
the 54-nation organisation.
eight-member Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group (CMAG), the organisation's
democracy watchdog, said after a day of talks in London that it ''expressed its
deep concern over the continued violence, political intimidation and actions
against the freedom and independence of the media.''
CMAG demanded an immediate end to
''violence and intimidation'' and called for all parties in the March elections
to be allowed to campaign freely.
Speaking before the meeting, British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw had said he
wanted Zimbabwe's immediate suspension from the Commonwealth's main
convened a special caucus meeting on Wednesday to press members to close ranks
and ensure the bill's passage after weeks of delay due to internal wrangling.
THREAT TO FREE SPEECH
parliament's legal committee, which is dominated by ZANU-PF, slammed the media
bill as a threat to free speech and said it gave the government ''frightening
powers'' to control the press ahead of the March 9-10 polls.
Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa told
parliament on Wednesday that a revised version had been forged after he met the
legal committee on Wednesday.
pleased to report to the house that I had a very fruitful discussion with the
parliamentary legal committee. We agreed on the amendments to be made to the
bill,'' he said.
The committee would
study the new bill and issue a new report before it went before parliament for
debate on Thursday, Chinamas said.
urged MPs to attend Thursday's session because he wanted all outstanding bills
to be finalised to clear the way for the election campaign to begin.
A copy of the revised Access to
Information and Protection of Privacy Bill obtained by Reuters appears little
changed from the previous version and would still restrict access for foreign
reporters and force local journalists to get yearly accreditation from a state
Reporters could face prison
terms for breaking media regulations.
Police confirmed that three journalists working for independent Zimbabwean
newspapers had been arrested and could be charged for unlawful protest under a
new security act signed into law by Mugabe earlier this month.
The three were among 40 journalists who
marched outside parliament, waving placards saying: ''Zimbabwe is a free
country. We don't need laws that remind us of the days of Rhodesia.''
The Public Order and Security Act
outlaws criticism of the president and gives police sweeping powers to ensure
Parliament has also passed
electoral amendments which ban independent election monitors and deny voting
rights to millions of Zimbabweans abroad.
ZANU-PF controls 93 of the 150 seats in
parliament, but it has struggled to push the media bill through in the face of
opposition within the party.
Woman hides family in church fearing deportation to Zimbabwe
A woman and her 10-year-old son have sought refuge from immigration
officials in a Montreal church.
She says she would prefer a Canadian jail to a death squad at home in
Immigration officials ordered Dorothy Dube, her son Basil, and her
18-year-old niece Nompilo Ncube, to meet them at Dorval airport.
Instead, Dube and her family sought asylum from Reverend Darryl Gray at the
Union United Church.
"If I go back, I'm going to die," said Dorothy Dube, upon hearing that her
family had been refused refugee status. "At least here it's only prison."
Ncube said she was raped by Zimbabwean government thugs, and Dube said she
faces death for political dissent.
Dube said she could not understand how Canada could deport refugees to
Zimbabwe in the face of confirmed reports of torture, beatings and political
"Canadians were born free; they don't understand the terror we face at
home," Dube said. "I'm sick with stress."
Supporters are appealing to Immigration Minister Denis Coderre to halt the
deportation, said Gray, whose church will be providing food and shelter.
"We simply want justice. We don't believe the family got a fair hearing,"
Southern African ministers gather in
HARARE, Jan. 30 — Southern
African foreign ministers were gathering in Zimbabwe on Wednesday for a two-day
meeting to discuss the often violent land grabs which have sparked a political
crisis ahead of an election in March.
With President Robert Mugabe
facing intense international criticism, ministers from neighbouring countries
were expected to review compliance with the Abuja Agreement, a deal brokered by
Nigeria under which Harare pledged to end the seizure of white-owned farms in
return for funding for orderly land reform.
Farmers accuse Mugabe of largely
ignoring the deal.
''We don't know what
the agenda is yet but the meeting is likely to be about Abuja,'' a Zimbabwean
foreign ministry official said. It was not clear when the meeting would start.
Earlier this month, Nigerian President
Olusegun Obasanjo warned that the land deal risked collapse.
The Southern African Development
Community's (SADC) task force on Zimbabwe includes the foreign ministers of
Mozambique, Malawi, Angola, Namibia, South Africa, and Zimbabwe.
South Africa, the strongest regional
power, is increasingly concerned about instability in Zimbabwe. Nine white
farmers have died and scores of black farm workers have been assaulted in
attacks by pro-government militants in the past two years.
Mugabe, who insists his government is
respecting the accord, says some 4,500 white farmers occupy 70 percent of
Zimbabwe's best farmland. He wants to forcibly acquire at least 8.3 million
hectares of the 12 million in white hands.
The farm violence has run alongside
political clashes ahead of presidential elections on March 9-10. Mugabe, who
turns 78 next month, faces his stiffest challenge since coming to power on
independence from Britain 22 years ago.
The land campaign and pre-election violence has drawn harsh international
condemnation, including the threat of sanctions.
In London on Wednesday, Britain urged
the Commonwealth to suspend Zimbabwe. South African President Thabo Mbeki said
this month ''the instability has gone on for far too long.''
Also on Wednesday, a day after Mbeki
had met South African business, religious and labour leaders, his office said in
a statement: ''The meeting agreed that South Africa should do everything
possible to ensure that the elections take place in a peaceful environment and
that they are free and fair.''
Presidential Elections Cause Anxiety in Tourism Sector
The Insider (Harare)
January 30, 2002
Posted to the web January 30, 2002
The tourism industry which had started gaining momentum following the solar
eclipse of June last year was shattered by the September 11 attacks in the
United States. It is once again on a standstill until the presidential elections
According to the Rainbow Tourism Group, now one of the leading hotel
operators in the country, the presidential elections have caused anxiety, which
will hopefully dissipate after the elections.
It says many stakeholders in the tourism industry will only finalise their
business strategies for the year after the elections. In its report for the year
ending December, the hotel group had excellent results turning around from a
loss of $45.4 million to a profit of $85.3 million.
It says its success was largely due to its strategic alliances. The hotel
division is under the management of Group Accor of France. Rainbow Hotels are
therefore featured on Accor's extensive electronic distribution system which was
recently upgraded at a cost of US$200 million. Sheraton Harare is managed by
Starwood Hotels of the United States of America while Tourism Services Zimbabwe
and Touch the Wild Lodges and Safaris are managed by IBL of Mauritius.
According to its results, the company says sales were up by 71 percent from
$759.2 million to $1.3 billion. The company had an operating profit of $83.4
million against a loss of $121.1 million last year. But while last year's loss
was reduced because of the company's investments which earned $75.3 million in
interest, this year's interest was down to only $3.2 million.
The company says this was due to lower cash balances it held after the
expansion of the Rainbow Hotel in Victoria Falls and the low interest rates in
the market. Its cash resources were down from $46 million to $39 million. The
company also paid $6 million for a voluntary retirement scheme, down from $32
million the previous year.
RTG says problems which had affected tourism for the past two years
continued to persist. These included inconsistent fuel supplies for most of the
year. This led to loss of confidence to domestic and regional self-drive
markets. The controversy surrounding the land redistribution and a growing
perception that Zimbabwe was not a safe destination also affected the industry.
It was also adversely affected by persistent negative publicity about Zimbabwe,
the reduction in direct international flights and the September 11
RTG says the solar eclipse of June was a major boost to the industry
attracting some 20 000 tourists. Most of those who came to the country stayed
for up to two weeks. The tourists, it says, where highly impressed by the
quality of the country's tourist products as well as by the warmth and
hospitality of the people of Zimbabwe.
Sadly, this recovery was cut short by the September 11 attacks in the
United States which reports say resulted in world tourism declining by 30
percent. Tourism Services Zimbabwe, a division of the hotel group which relies
on international business, had cancellations of about 40 percent following the
attacks. Average occupancies for the hotel group were 45 percent, a major
improvement on 30 percent in 2000 but still below the 65 percent of 1999.
The company says it had therefore cut its staff by 50 percent in the two
years, with 40 percent of the staff having been laid off in 2000. It postponed
the Accor branding exercise with the exception of the Mercure A'Zambezi. It also
negotiated various concessions with its strategic partners and added 42 rooms to
the Rainbow Hotel in Victoria Falls. It says this investment should payback in
The company also shifted its marketing efforts to new markets in the Far
East and Francophone countries. It also focussed on domestic and regional
markets following the US attacks. Though things are at a standstill until the
presidential elections, RTG says another solar eclipse, this time in December,
should provide another boost to the industry.
It says last year's experience has given the industry a base from which to
plan, and since this year's eclipse is linked to South Africa, it should give
greater exposure to Zimbabwe.
The Maize Puzzle
The Insider (Harare)
January 30, 2002
Posted to the web January 30, 2002
Do we, or don't we, have maize? That is the question that has been vexing
people's minds for more than nine months, and continues to hound them, as people
now stampede for maize while the state continues to assure them, through its
daily newspapers, that there is enough maize.
The issue of maize, the country's staple, like that of agricultural
production in general, has become a highly political issue because of the
country's controversial land reform programme.
Critics of the programme are blaming the current shortage on the land
reform programme; saying production on commercial farms was disrupted by farm
invasions led by war veterans.
The government blames it on natural disasters like, drought, erratic
rainfall and floods caused by Cyclone Eline, or on hoarding by those who would
like to see President Robert Mugabe defeated in the presidential elections
scheduled for March.
Newspapers are currently running stories about consignments of maize that
have been seized either at commercial farms or warehouses. More than 36 000
tonnes had been seized so far. The farmers whose maize was seized denied that
they were hoarding the maize claiming that it was stockfeed.
"I told them that the grain is for my stock and the men who work here and
their families," one farmer was quoted as saying. "I told them that now I'll
have to slaughter my pigs because I've got nothing to feed them. But they took
it just the same. And why not? If you don't have enough food to feed people,
then it's better to take it from the animals."
Those allegedly hoarding maize in urban areas said it was for their normal
production purposes, or as one Bulawayo company said, they were just keeping it
for a church organisation.
The fact remains that the country does not have enough maize. The
government, which had argued for more than six months that there was no need to
import maize, and only admitted in November that there was a need, is now
importing 150 000 tonnes from South Africa, which it says is enough to meet the
country's needs until the next harvest.
Once again observers believe this is an understatement. The World Food
Programme, a United Nations body, which has come to the rescue and has bought 57
000 tonnes of maize from South Africa for distribution to the starving people,
says some 500 000 Zimbabweans are facing a serious food shortage. It says the
150 000 tonnes is not enough . The country will have to import another 200 000
tonnes by April.
But while the politics goes on, people already reeling from inflation of
112 percent, are now being forced to buy maize at three times the official
price. According to the Bulawayo daily, Chronicle, people in the city, for
example, were now buying maize meal for $300 a 5 kg bag instead of $121.11. They
were paying $700 for a 10kg bag, instead of the official $248.05. Those in the
rural areas were paying $2 250 for a 50kg bag instead of $1 166.48.
The United States Aid Agency's Famine Early Warning System (FEWS) says the
Grain Marketing Board, which has the monopoly to buy and sell maize should
seriously consider selling maize in 25 kg packs, instead of the 50 kg bags, to
ensure availability among poor consumers because larger volumes are more
difficult for the poor consumers to afford.
It also says there is need to review the policy of having the GMB as the
sole maize trader because it has disadvantaged some communal farmers who used to
get better prices and inputs at the farm gate from private traders. It says the
$15 000 a tonne pre-panting price alone may not be a good enough incentive for
farmers to increase production.
Gold Output Down By 19 Percent
The Insider (Harare)
January 30, 2002
Zimbabwe's gold production fell by 19 percent to 18 tonnes last year and
there are indications that output could further decline this year unless there
is a turnaround in the country's economic policies. Production by Rio Tinto, one
of the country's largest producers dropped by 3 000 ounces last year.
This was a commendable effort since the company had closed its Cam Dump
Processing mid-year resulting in a loss of about 4 000 ounces. The Cam dump
produced 8 445 ounces in 2000 when it operated for the full year. This fell to 4
606 ounces last year.
Production at its flagship, Renco in Masvingo, more than compensated for
the closure of Cam and the drop in production at Patchway. It increased from 46
573 ounces in 2000 to 50 434 ounces last year, while that at Patchway dropped
from 15 419 ounces to 12 398 ounces. Total production dropped from 70 438 ounces
to 67 437 ounces.
Nickel production also declined slightly from 6 935 tonnes to 6 635 tonnes.
Falcon Gold, which was rescued by the government last year when it introduced a
new support price, says it may be forced to close down again in April. No one
expects anything to change until after the presidential elections in
Falcon made a loss of $35.7 million during its financial year ending
September. It said although it had survived largely because of the new
government measures, there was a need to review the package. It said it had made
recommendations to the government asking for a retention of 100 percent of the
gold receipts. Companies only retained 20 percent at the time. This has since
been increased to 40 percent.
It also said its losses had been compounded by shortages of power, fuel and
mining supplies. During the period leading up to the elections, the government
has ensured adequate supplies of power and fuel. There were sporadic shortages
of petrol rather than diesel.
Commonwealth rejects Zimbabwe suspension
LONDON, Jan. 30 — Commonwealth
foreign ministers expressed deep concern over President Robert Mugabe's
crackdown on opponents in Zimbabwe on Wednesday but ignored a British call for
its immediate suspension from the 54-nation organisation
Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group, the organisation's democracy watchdog,
said after a day of talks in London that it ''expressed its deep concern over
the continued violence, political intimidation and actions against the freedom
and independence of the media.''
demanded an immediate end to the ''violence and intimidation'' in Zimbabwe and
called for all parties in the March presidential elections to be allowed to
The group said it
would draw up as yet unspecified recommendations to Commomwealth leaders on the
eve of their summit meeting from March 2-5 in Australia.
Speaking before the meeting, British
Foreign Secretary Jack Straw said he would seek Zimbabwe's immediate
From an old farming family in Zim.
"As things speed up towards the elections, so does lawlessness and "free
will". The telephone cables for our lines were stolen the night before last!
This is an ongoing exercise at the moment, and some lines have been stolen three
or four times! The engineers cannot keep up!
Yesterday we were visited by
officals from the Min of Lands to tell us that they are pegging this farm for A2
Resettlement. G. asked them about the 2000 ha of land they have taken from us at
Headlands and whether they have finished pegging and allocating that! 'Oh, no!
they have been told to come here because the A2 settlers want to be closer to a
town for their weekend farming.' They want to peg the area where we have 50 ha
of tassling maize! They left eventually after leaving all the gates were left
open and all our pedigree breeding herds were mixed up! If they do this it will
mean the end of the pedigrees, and even Mr M. will have to go to the Butcher! We
will not have the space to separate the small breeding herds for selective
breeding. So who cares?"
Interesting comment taken from a newsgroup.
Vic Falls, of course, has not been affected nearly as badly as the rest
Zim. Nevertheless, even there, the situation is very sad
First and foremost, Vic Falls remains a safe and pleasant
thanks to the inherent decency of the ordinary Zimbabweans one
Despite the desperate economic situation, with unemployment
employment by far, this is not used as an excuse to turn to
crime. This is
a lesson that South Africans, including and especially
Sabsy, might take
note of (not suggesting that Sabsy is a criminal of course,
but he is all
too ready to make excuses for those who turn to crime.)
The greatest discomfort incurred by visitors is the desperate touting
business, with literally hundreds of people mobbing you everywhere you
desperate to sell anything from curios to bottles of water, or to steer
to a place where you can change money. This becomes a nuisance, but
must just grin and bear it, remembering that we are in a far more
situation than they are.
There is quite a lot of security, so crime isn't a very good option
Most of the security is private. The ZRP have a couple of guys
around Falls Gate, whose main purpose seems to be to scare off the
thereby give the tourists a bit of peace.
In all the years I have been going to Zimbabwe, I have NEVER found Vic
so empty - even during the height of the guerilla war, when incidents
the burning of Elephant Hills and the shooting of the Candadian
The flights to Vic Falls, coming and going, were less than a third
The hotel parking lots were pretty well empty. Entire sections of
famous Vic Falls Hotel are currently "decommissioned" (electricity and
turned off, and rooms mothballed until better times come again.)
Elephant Hills Hotel is closed. It suffered a fire about nine
and business just doesn't justify rushing to repair and
It is all very sad. One is reminded of a shopkeeper who, full of
sets out his wares, opens up for business, and then finds that
into his shop.
The currency situation is a shambles. There has always been a black
in Zim, but it really was a "black market" in the sense that it was
much underground, and the average visitor stuck to both the rules and
official rates of exchange.
However, in just a few months, things have changed dramatically.
have gone through the roof, and if you change your money into
the official rate, your purchases will prove ridiculously
For example, dinner in the Livingstone Room at Vic Falls Hotel is
ZW$3500. Assuming you don't dine alone, you are in for ZW$7000 for
Chuck in a bottle of local wine at ZW850, and you are looking at
Bang on a tip to round it off to a neat ZW9000.
If you pay this on your credit card, the Zimbabwean bank will convert
to your "home" currency at the official rate. So, if you are South
you will find a bill of R1636 waiting for you.
That is about FOUR times the cost of equivalent dining in South
If you are British, you will get home to a credit card statement
a cost of UKL115, which mightn't be so shocking for a Brit - but
don't expect to pay British prices in a country like Zimbabwe
overheads are all incurred in local currency and the guys who are
and serving the meal are paid a pittance.
If you are American, you credit card bill for such a meal will be
Of course, you could go next door to the Kingdom Hotel, where you will
a franchised Spur Steakhouse and a Panarottis Pizza joint. Here
you can get
a burger or a pizza for a mere ZW$750 or thereabouts. Use
your credit card,
and the cost of your burger or pizza will be R136 if you
are South African,
and ten quid or fourteen dollars if you are British or
equivalent burger or pizza in South Africa will cost you
Rand, one pound fifty, or two and a bit US dollars).
Things get worse. The famous helicopter trip over the falls will cost
if you use your credit card - ZW$20500, if you take the shortest
ZW41000 if you take the half hour flight. The half hour
flight (which in my
opinion is the only one worth taking) will turn up on
your credit card bill
at a cool R7454 if you are South African, 525 pounds if
you are British, or
745 dollars if you are American. The equivalent
half hour helicopter trip
in Cape Town would cost you less than one tenth of
Clearly, things have gone way out of reach of ordinary law-abiding,
The only way to visit Victoria Falls and survive financially is to
the "system", which means that EVERYBODY is now obliged to dabble in
Indeed, the black market has now completely superseded the official
I am not going to go into any details as to how things actually
People visiting must make their own enquiries, but it doesn't take
initiative to find out how best to handle things.
However, one does need to know one thing before setting foot in
take lots of hard currency (preferably Pounds, USD, Euros or SA
don't even THINK about using your credit card. (Heh, heh,
heh, would you
believe that -relative to the Zimdollar, the SA Rand is
considered a hard
If you have hard currency, the helicopter trip will cost you USD75 for
short trip, or USD150 for the half hour flight. That's a lot more
There has been an important change to the law. Until recently, the
required that accommodation be paid in foreign currency, but you could
pay the "extras" portion of your hotel account in Zimdollars (i.e.
phone bill, laundry, tips).
The new law is that the whole account must be paid in foreign
practice, you can still use Zimdollars IF you can show
receipts to prove
that you purchased the Zimdollars with forex.
So, don't let any charges get as far as your hotel account. Arm
with Zimdollars and pay cash for your drinks and meals.
Some places will take foreign currency over the counter, but then make
that they are going to give you a decent rate.
In summary, I got the feeling that Zim is nearing the end of an era.
doubt that an economic implosion can be avoided. If there is a change
president, it will be too little, too late. The prospects of an
generation have been destroyed, and probably those of the next
Obviously, something will arise from the ashes, in the form of
mines and farms that manage to survive. However, these will
be able to
accommodate only a fraction of Zimbabweans, the majority will
themselves left out of the mainstream economy, as is the case in the
So the Machels, the Nkrumahs, the Kaundas have won. They have
colonialism and all the progress that went with it. In so
doing they have
proved the Verwoerds and the Ian Smiths right. Verwoerd
must be laughing in
his grave. Ian Smith, who is not the same kind of
guy, will not be smiling.
However wrong he might have been in his methods, he
never wished this kind
of fate upon the people of Zimbabwe, black or
white. Nor can he be held
responsible. The fault lies entirely
with those who succeeded him. They
had every chance in the world, and
they fucked it up.
After the whole debacle, I have not changed my views. I still believe
Africa DOES have the people with talent enough to run a country.
given the nature of the masses, the one man one vote system of
clearly not the way to bring this talent to the fore. On the
one man one vote system of choice drives the talented people
politics, and very often out of the country as well, and puts
incompetents, and the criminals, into positions of power.
Zimbabwe as it is today is the result.
From Reporters Sans Frontieres (Paris), 29 January
RSF banned from Harare
Paris - Reporters Sans Frontieres (Reporters without Borders -
RSF) denounces the refusal opposed at the embassy of Zimbabwe in Paris as one of
its representatives was asking for a visa. "That refusal proves that Zimbabwean
authorities still have things to hide and they would do everything to prevent
that we know more about what is happening in the country", asserted Robert
Menard, general secretary of RSF. "The government promised it would authorise
foreign observers and journalists to come. These are obviously lies designed to
reassure the European Union" he added. On 29 January 2002, two representatives
of the embassy of Zimbabwe in Paris received the head of RSF's bureau for Africa
and announced their refusal to grant him a visa. "Your articles are too critical
and you have called for sanctions against our country", explained the employees
of the embassy. They added they had received instructions from Harare to ban RSF
journalists from entering the Zimbabwean territory. RSF wished to go to
Zimbabwe, at the end of February, to cover the election campaign and assess the
situation of press liberty in the country. The organisation reminds that in
2001, Zimbabwe has become one of the most repressive countries over the whole
African continent in terms of information liberty. Twenty local journalists were
questioned and three correspondents for the foreign press were expelled from the
country. Robert Mugabe, president of the Republic, belongs to the list drafted
by RSF of press freedom predators throughout the world.
From OneWorld Africa, 29 January
Women forge ahead with Zimbabwean poll
campaign as EU sets sanctions deadline
A women's caucus of Zimbabwe's leading opposition
party plans to continue a clandestine campaign of door-to-door canvassing as the
European Union (EU) Monday set an enforceable deadline for full access to be
granted to international observers before the country's March presidential
election. The leader of the Women's Assembly of the Movement for Democratic
Change (MDC), Lucia Matibenga, welcomed the unanimous agreement last night by EU
foreign ministers that sanctions will be "targeted" against 20 top Zimbabwean
officials, including President Robert Mugabe and his family, unless election
monitors are given access to the country next weekend. But, she said, even if
threats to impose a travel ban, an assets freeze, and an arms embargo lead to
the presence of monitors for the March 9-10 elections, this will not fully
guarantee that members of her party are able to campaign openly and without fear
of violence. "Targeted sanctions will not mean that we can campaign freely,"
warned Matibenga. "But at least they give us hope that the international
community is not just watching but acting.
Opposition canvassers have resorted to
underground tactics to get their message out amid a climate of intimidation
which, according to human rights and democracy groups, has come not only from
activists of the ruling Zanu PF party, but also in the wake of a government
clampdown on public meetings and new curbs on the public display of election
materials. Political harassment and violence have reached such intensity that
United States-based Human Rights Watch has called for ministers of the
Commonwealth, meeting in London Wednesday, to consider suspending Zimbabwe from
the 54-nation organization whose principles on respect for human rights and the
rule of law are laid out in a declaration agreed in the Zimbabwean capital
Harare in 1991. Members of the MDC women's assembly, however, have pledged to
continue using innovative tactics to reach women, who make up just over half of
registered voters, and especially those in rural areas where two-thirds of the
country's population lives and which are set to be the key election
battlegrounds. They have been using knitting and crocheting circles as a forum
in which to explain party policies and urge women to exercise their right to
vote, despite fears of violence and rigging. "This is a really effective way of
campaigning," says Matibenga. "Women are not so visible, they move around,
chit-chatting in an ordinary way, and so far they have not been harassed."