By Tony Hawkins in Harare
Published: July 13 2007 18:53 | Last updated: July 13 2007 18:53
Senior government ministers responsible for Zimbabwe's price control
campaign want President Robert Mugabe to sack his close confidant, Gideon
Gono, the Reserve Bank governor.
Pressure for Mr Gono's dismissal is mounting following the leaking of a
letter to the cabinet taskforce responsible for price controls in which Mr
Gono likened the price campaign to the US-led invasion of Iraq.
He said the government had exposed itself to "unintended consequences" that
could lead to economic implosion while endangering political and social
Senior sources within Zanu-PF, the ruling party, said that Nicholas Goche,
labour minister, and Elliot Manyika, minister without portfolio, were
calling for Mr Gono's head. Both men are in the taskforce on price
stabilisation and are cabinet heavyweights.
Two weeks ago, the Mugabe government ordered businesses to cut prices by
half, threatening businesspeople with imprisonment if they failed to comply
and warning that factories that closed or retrenched workers would be
nationalised. Since then 1,500 businesspeople have been arrested and fined
for profiteering, while petrol and basic foodstuff have become scarce or
disappeared from the shelves.
Mr Gono warned ministers, in this letter, that their policies risked
fulfilling doomsday prophecies such as those predicting economic collapse
within six months. He called for an exit strategy from the price campaign.
Mr Gono, who in the past has publicly defended huge increases in government
spending including subsidies to exporters to maintain an overvalued exchange
rate, has had a change of heart.
He now calls for reduced government spending and fiscal discipline along
with new policies to protect property rights and attract investment. He says
"while our backs are against the wall", the government could still implement
its policies without threatening the survival of businesses.
Mr Gono has long been perceived as arrogant by some in the ruling party. But
he has remained close to Mr Mugabe.
By Delia Robertson
13 July 2007
Zimbabwe's Central Bank governor, Gideon Gono, is reported to have sent his
government a lengthy reminder of policy suggestions he has offered since
2003 to try to halt the collapse of the country's economy. VOA's Delia
Robertson reports from our southern Africa bureau in Johannesburg.
South Africa's Mail & Guardian newspaper has published a document it says
was written by Zimbabwe central bank governor Gideon Gono. The document
catalogues the economic advice he apparently gave to the Zimbabwean
government in repeated attempts to persuade officials to adopt measures
aimed at arresting the spiraling decline in the economy. The newspaper says
the advice was ignored.
One of the major complaints in the 59-page document, which is available on
the newspaper's Web site, is the central banker's advice to do away with
price controls. Against this advice, the government has imposed 50 percent
price cuts in recent weeks. Professor Tony Hawkins, of the University of
Zimbabwe's Graduate School of Management, earlier told VOA, there had, in
fact, been an agreement on such measures.
"Remember in January we were going to have a social contract and we were all
[government, business and labor] going to agree on price controls and wage
controls and so on," he said. "In June there is no such a contract,
although the government claims there is one, but there isn't, and government
imposes price controls."
Other recommendations in the document include bringing an end to government
land seizures, protection of private property, and the privatization of key
state owned enterprises. It also urges the government to act vigorously
against corruption, to provide subsidies for agricultural production and to
get rid of policy inconsistencies.
Economist Hawkins highlighted the difficulties for Zimbabweans face because
of the actions of their government.
"Again I think one needs to stress the point, that this is a government that
does not tell the truth about anything," he added. "It is very difficult
for anyone to try and assess what is actually happening, because the
government is in control of all the information, and it won't even publish
its money supply figures or inflation figures any longer because it is so
At the week's end, the government continued its crackdown on businesses that
are defying its order to cut prices by half. Some 3,000 people have been
arrested, including employees of the cafeteria at the magistrates' court in
Harare. Hawkins and other analysts say these measures will ensure that
stores are unable to replenish stocks.
Fri, 13 Jul 2007
Authorities in Zimbabwe announced the arrest of hundreds more retailers and
executives as part of an ongoing price crackdown on Friday as it emerged the
head of the central bank had warned against the blitz.
Among the latest arrests were four police officers accused of looting from
shops which are fast running out of stocks while the total number of
executives to have been detained was approaching the 3000 mark.
A further 272 commuter buses had also been impounded after the operators
were accused of overcharging passengers, a police spokesman said.
"Two of our officers were arrested in Harare and two others in Bulawayo for
taking advantage of the on-going operation to steal from shops," Chief
Superintendent Oliver Mandipaka told AFP.
Over 2000 arrested
"We have so far arrested 2776 business people and shop owners who have been
violating the government pricing structures since the start of the
The figure means that nearly 1000 more have been arrested since the last
tally was announced on Tuesday.
Teams from Zimbabwe's security forces and a price-monitoring commission were
deployed two weeks ago to ensure compliance after Industry Minister Obert
Mpofu ordered businesses to halve the prices of their goods and services.
Mpofu accused businesses of rampant profiteering and colluding with
President Robert Mugabe's foes in the West to plot the regime's downfall
following a spate of almost daily price hikes.
Many manufacturers however say the government-set prices mean they cannot
cover their costs and have stopped production, with inflation now believed
to be well beyond the 5000 percent mark.
Although the price cuts have enabled households to afford goods that had
become luxuries, many analysts have warned the move will ultimately backfire
as stores run dry and goods instead end up on the more expensive black
According to a report in a privately-owned weekly, the head of the central
bank is among those who believe the move will blow up in the government's
face and has compared the blitz to the US-led invasion of Iraq.
"Let's avoid the law of unintended consequences in the action government has
taken which will leave the country in a worse-off position than now," the
Zimbabwe Independent quoted Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe governor Gideon Gono as
saying in a leaked letter to the government.
Blitz could backfire
Gono, one of Mugabe's top lieutenants, said the government should "avoid the
trap of temporary victory and instant gratification that backfires with
consuming return-fire from both the business community and consumers alike".
"Let's avoid what in contemporary strategy has become known as the US/Iraq
syndrome where the US, backed by its allies went into Iraq without an exit
strategy," he added.
Mpofu meanwhile warned companies against trying to cut costs by reducing
their workers' salaries.
"They have been benefiting from the unrealistic pricing all along. Why
should they cry foul now?" he told AFP.
"They are not being prejudiced in any way, in fact workers are the ones whom
have been prejudiced all along by these people as they were charging high
prices. Government will never allow people's salaries to be reduced."
Mpofu said that the government planned to revive the defunct State Trading
Corporation to run firms that have either collapsed or were seized.
Mugabe has warned that his government will seize and nationalise companies
that refuse to toe the line.
Daily Mail, UK
Last updated at 15:34pm on 13th July 2007
Sweeping under the carpet: Zimbabwean president Robert Mugabe's government
is considering a black-out on inflation figures as they are so high
Zimbabwe may stop publishing inflation data for one year, an effort
economists say is aimed at shielding the government from embarrassment over
its failure to rein in soaring prices in the economically depressed nation.
President Robert Mugabe's government has failed to release inflation figures
for May and June - it usually does so on the 10th day each month - prompting
speculation the numbers were too shocking to reveal to Zimbabweans
struggling to feed themselves amid worsening food shortages and
Unofficial reports have put inflation for May at 4,500 per cent, a sharp
increase from the 3,720 per cent reported by the government for April.
Either figure gives Zimbabwe the world's highest inflation rate.
The Central Statistical Office (CSO) said on Friday it was working on a
one-year survey that would study how events between 2001, when an economic
slide escalated, and 2007 had affected inflation and whether the data was an
accurate reflection of the situation in Zimbabwe.
"That's just one aspect of what we're doing ... we are also coming up with a
new basket. Both are a long way off and I'm reluctant to give a time frame,"
Moffat Nyoni, the acting CSO director, said. He declined to provide further
Mugabe's government has branded inflation its main enemy but has
consistently missed targets to rein in rising prices that have pinched
consumers and stoked political tensions in the former British colony in
Officials two weeks ago ordered a rollback of all prices to June 18 levels,
accusing some businesses of seeking to overthrow the government through
unjustified price hikes that were designed to fuel anger among Zimbabweans.
The price freeze has been vigorously enforced by a crack team of police,
military and intelligence officials, leading to arrests and fines for more
than 2,000 business executives and companies accused of overpricing.
"They (government) are very embarrassed with the inflation statistics, and I
imagine they will not be published again until maybe the CSO comes up with
figures acceptable to the authorities," said John Robertson, a leading
While the price crackdown has brought relief to hard-pressed consumers who
can find goods in the stores, basic foodstuffs, such as maize-meal, sugar
and cooking oil, have disappeared from shops as a result of panic buying.
The government has also seized 100 public commuter buses for defying a
forced fare cut, forcing operators to pull their fleets off the roads and
stranding thousands of commuters.
Economic analysts warn that many businesses could shut their doors rather
than continue producing at a loss, which would further choke an economy the
World Bank says is the fastest contracting for a country not at war.
13 July 2007
There is now no doubt in Samuel Beckett's famous expression, that we have
reached the endgame in Zimbabwe. No doubt, except in the minds of the
governments of both South Africa and that unhappy country. Our task now is
to turn the endgame into a bold new beginning, as speedily and as
intelligently as possible.
By any definition of a modern state - a functioning economy, effective
public service, distinct civil society comprising media, courts and related
institutions - Zimbabwe barely exists. The empty supermarket shelves and
marauding militias we saw are final, unavoidable proof: the self-destructive
policies set in motion seven years ago by President Robert Mugabe have
destroyed the country.
Mugabe's desperate attempts since 2000 to stave off his own defeat at the
polls, via land-grabs, constitutional gerrymandering and police-state
thuggery, have sent the economy into freefall while eclipsing any vestiges
of a free and democratic process.
It is hard to overstate what that ruination means for those who live there.
In effect, Zimbabwe today is a vampire state that has turned on its own
Inflation stands at 4 500% - the world's highest - though independent
analysts push this figure closer to 9 000%. Mugabe's "solution" has been to
print more money - thus escalating the cycle of inflation - and to order
retailers to slash prices by 50%.
This latest ploy, which has hastened the rush to endgame, is a shocking
instance of vampirism at its worst: the selfsame militias enforcing the
price-slashes seize goods, and resell them on the black market. The Mail &
Guardian's Trevor Ncube (in an interview with Moneyweb Radio this week)
calls this "looting by those who happen to be privileged" - a frankly
military operation intended to scuttle the hostile business community.
It is the same with the land invasions, the destruction of urban squatter
camps, and the repression of the country's media, political opposition and
trade unions. "Politics in Zimbabwe", says long-time Mugabe critic
Archbishop Pius Ncube, "is all about Mugabe's survival."
The crisis has been developing for many years. As long ago as the mid-'80s,
Mugabe masterminded the killing of thousands of opponents in Matabeleland,
foreshadowing today's wanton destruction.
As a result, the apocalypse - mass starvation and a headlong flight from the
country, chiefly into South Africa - has arrived. According to the United
Nations, South Africa must now brace itself for "arguably the most
extraordinary exodus of people from a country not at war."
How has our government reacted? After all, in his dealings with our northern
neighbour President Mbeki has long echoed the famed "special relationship"
of Britain and the USA, maintaining economic links, staving off
international criticism and maintaining warm fraternal ties with ZANU-PF.
When SADC tasked President Mbeki last year with brokering talks between
Mugabe and the opposition MDC, it was a covert admission that our
government's policy of "quiet diplomacy" had failed to set Zimbabwe on the
right course. Mugabe's contempt for the subsequent talks in Pretoria - which
the South African tax-payer is funding - was confirmed this week, when
ZANU-PF failed to appear.
Our Foreign Minister, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, previously "concerned", now
added: "There must be a good reason why they did not turn up. I don't think
it was a sign of wanting to pull out because they are committed to
mediation". In fact, it is almost certain Mugabe ordered the pull-out
Faced with this humiliating rejection of our mediation efforts, and the
unfolding collapse which has seen our nationals arrested for failing to
reduce prices, the Foreign Minister jetted off on a state visit to - of all
places - Cuba. Thus has Mbeki's government once more washed its hands of
responsibility, and abetted Mugabe's survival programme.
Another aspect of our government's neglect, not to say dereliction, was
highlighted by the DA this week. A Bilateral Investment Promotion and
Protection Agreement between our two countries, which would have protected
our investments and South African-owned farms from take-over, still awaits
government's signature after five long years.
While The Citizen labelled our cop-out "pathetic", and Die Burger described
it as "beyond pathetic", columnist Xolela Mangcu was more scathing. The
ANC-led government's aiding of Mugabe, out of misplaced "racial
nationalism", is "shameful. we have squandered our moral authority in
defence of an irredeemable monster."
The question remains: what can South Africa do to salvage from the wreckage
a new start for Zimbabwe? I want to argue that the stronger and more widely
supported the international case to arraign him, the stronger the threat of
such prosecution can be used to prise Mugabe out of office.
International pressure does impact on Mugabe's hold on power. Firstly, one
way to confirm Mugabe's pariah status is to bar him from international
gatherings and so embolden his associates to urge his resignation.
This week, I accordingly wrote to the Prime Minister of Portugal, Jose
Socrates, urging that his country rescind its recent invitation to the
Zimbabwean President to attend a joint EU/AU Summit in Lisbon later this
year. Such invitations give credence to Mugabe's actions, when what is
needed is a concerted international effort that such behaviour - and
Mugabe's rule in general - will no longer be tolerated.
Yet it is as important to pressurise the international community to consider
charging Mugabe for crimes against humanity at the International Criminal
According to the Rome Statute - founding document of the International
Criminal Court - the definition of crimes against humanity includes murder,
forcible transfer of a population, imprisonment or deprivation of physical
liberty, torture, persecution, and other inhumane acts causing great
suffering or injury to the health of a civilian population.
If we survey his record dispassionately, Mugabe can be found guilty of all
of these. He has committed murder, caused hundreds of thousands of people to
be displaced, persecuted, imprisoned and tortured those who have opposed him
and subjected his people to mass starvation.
Another Commonwealth country has taken this necessary step. Last year, the
Canadian Parliament set in motion a probe to try Mugabe for crimes against
humanity, should he ever set foot on Canadian soil. Their Justice Minister
found the only thing hindering them was the diplomatic immunity - a hallmark
of international law - afforded to heads of state.
However, should Mugabe cease to head Zimbabwe, his immunity against
prosecution will fall away. The dossier stands; like dictators before him,
such as Argentina's Augusto Pinochet or Slobodan Milosevic of the former
Yugoslavia, Zimbabwe's ruler can be called to account for his actions while
head of state.
While a year ago it may have been credibly argued that the option of asylum
and freedom from prosecution might have enticed Mugabe from office, this is
no longer an option. Mugabe has snubbed all previous attempts to resolve the
crisis in Zimbabwe and therefore no longer deserves to be offered this or
any other alternative: he has run out of time and must now face the full
consequences for his actions.
Ultimately, the strength of the case to try must be advanced as loudly and
persuasively as possible, in order to bring salvation to the citizens of our
stricken neighbour. What is critical is that Mugabe and his inner circle be
forced to step down.
We need to act vigorously and unambiguously if we are begin the long,
painful process of restoring a shattered country to life. The endgame is
over; beginning anew will call for all our courage as well as our
Monsters and Critics
Jul 13, 2007, 13:19 GMT
Harare - As shortages of basic goods worsen in crisis-hit Zimbabwe,
President Robert Mugabe's government has decided to ban the import of
groceries for resale, it emerged Friday.
The ban, which will come into effect on August 1, will cripple the
businesses of thousands of cross-border traders who make a living out of
buying and selling goods currently in short supply in Zimbabwe.
Under new government regulations published earlier this month, it will no
longer be possible to import groceries like beef, butter, cooking oil, tea,
flour and sugar without a permit, the Zimbabwe Independent newspaper said.
Individuals and companies wanting to import groceries will have to apply to
the Industry Ministry for a permit.
Mugabe's government has until now had little control over cross- border
traders, who stock up in neighbouring countries like South Africa and
Botswana and resell their stock to desperate Zimbabweans.
Because much of the trade is done from door-to-door or on flea markets, the
Zimbabwean authorities have not been able to control prices at which the
goods are sold.
Police last month launched a blitz on soaring prices in Zimbabwe, forcing
businesses to off-load their stock at half-price or less to the delight of
many inflation-weary Zimbabweans.
The Zimbabwe Independent said Friday there were stampedes in downtown Harare
when police and price inspectors forced electrical shops to sell televisions
at 2 million Zimbabwe dollars down from 50 million.
But the blitz has provoked a storm of controversy as shop shelves steadily
empty and there's no sign of restocking.
Reserve Bank Governor Gideon Gono, a close Mugabe ally, has reportedly
ruffled feathers in government by warning that the blitz could have
unintended consequences in the shape of shortages and political instability.
'Let's avoid the law of unintended consequences in the action government has
taken which will leave the country in a worse-off position than now,' the
Zimbabwe Independent quoted Gono as saying.
© 2007 dpa - Deutsche Presse-Agentur
Monsters and Critics
By Clare Byrne Jul 13, 2007, 14:41 GMT
Johannesburg - If the worsening food shortages in Zimbabwe sparked by
government-imposed price cuts have not yet prompted serious unrest, it is
because the population is being drip fed by the millions of Zimbabweans
living in exile.
While Zimbabwean exiles in Britain turn to the internet to organize
shipments of supplies to family members, passenger buses provide a vital
lifeline for the relatives of the estimated three million Zimbabwean
refugees living in South Africa.
At least three bus companies operate daily coach services to Zimbabwe from
the streets around Park Station in central Johannesburg.
A young man with a whip guards the entrance to a yard where two rickety
orange buses are preparing for departure on Thursday.
The ground around the buses is swamped in large checked carrier bags filled
with some of the items that are fast becoming luxury items in Zimbabwe -
soap, cooking oil, bread, maize meal and rice.
A Jumbo pack of toilet rolls, a television and bike are among the other
goods that are hoisted onto the roof rack of the bus and covered with
tarpaulin. Inside the bus more bags occupy empty seats.
'They (Zimbabeans living in South Africa) generally don't go. They just send
the supplies,' the driver of one of the buses which is bound for the
south-eastern town of Masvingo says.
Zimbabweans in South Africa, most of whom are in the country illegally, are
under huge pressure to come to the aid of family at home, says Archbishop
Paul Verryn of the Central Methodist Church in Johannesburg, which provides
a place to sleep for about 900 Zimbabwean refugees.
'Many of them come here and work like crazy to send money home,' he says.
Analysts say remittances from exiles have keeping the tottering Zimbabwean
economy on its feet, through hyperinflation of over 3,500 per cent and
unemployment of around 80 per cent.
The buses have become a trusted vehicle for ferrying both goods and cash to
Zimbabwe. On cash shipments the drivers take around 10 per cent commission,
users say. The cost of shipping goods varies from company to company.
Mavis, a domestic worker from the mining village of Mashava, expects to pay
about 50 rands to ship 10 kilogrammes of flour and 5 kilos of rice that cost
her 200 rand (28 dollars).
In total the bag of supplies for her husband and two children has cost her
more than half her weekly wage of 350 rand.
'They are suffering. They cannot afford to get food. I do not know how they
are surviving,' she says.
In Zimbabwe the driver checks the recipient's name, telephone number and
description of the goods against details provided by the sender before
handing over the supplies.
'It's good business,' a bus driver says of the freight business, refusing to
reveal how much his company makes from the shipments, but estimating at over
100 kilos the quantities carried by a single bus on a daily basis.
The buses, and minibus taxis, are also used by the thousands of of
cross-border traders who dip in and out of South Africa to buy commodities
such as soap and cooking oil for resale in Zimbabwe.
But an announcement by the Zimbabwean government Friday looked set to end to
that business, one of the few ways currently of eking out a living in the
In a bid to exert further control over prices and dampen inflation the
government announced that the import of groceries for resale without a
permit would be banned from August 1.
© 2007 dpa - Deutsche Presse-Agentur
By Tichaona Sibanda
13 July 2007
High court Judge Charles Hungwe on Friday ruled that the brutal eviction of
more than 5 000 University of Zimbabwe students by riot police on Monday was
The Zimbabwe National Students Association on Wednesday filed an urgent High
court application challenging the eviction. Heavily armed police gave
students 30 minutes to remove their possessions from the hostels. ZINASU
President Promise Mkwananzi told Newsreel they have already started working
on returning the students back to campus. He said they will not wait for the
authorities to comply with the order.
Mkwananzi blamed the eviction fiasco on the UZ Vice Chancellor Professor
Levi Nyagura whom he accused of taking orders from Zanu (PF) officials.
'We know Nyagura has a history of not complying with High court orders but
if he decides to do the same with the latest order, he will go down in
history as the chancellor who contributed to the deterioration of standards
at the University,' Mkwananzi said.
On Sunday there was destruction of property at the campus following violent
protests by students who were resisting moves to make them pay an extra Z$1
million for a semester extension, caused by a lecturers strike over poor
The majority of those who stay on campus have no homes, friends or relatives
in Harare and so were forced to sleep in the open, while the Catholic
Commission for Justice and Peace in Zimbabwe has been battling to find food
to give the students a meal a day while they take exams.
SW Radio Africa Zimbabwe news
July 13, 2007 12:59 PM
The Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Union (ZCTU) on Friday called on the Minister
of Higher and Tertiary Education, Stan Gorerazvo Mudenge to probe the
looting of students' property by Harare armed riot police and ensure that
normalcy is restored at the University of Zimbabwe campus students resuming
ZCTU made this call subsequent to outrageous revelations that armed riot
police looted students' property during raids at the campus last month.
"With all these evils by the government ZCTU calls on the Ministry of Higher
and Tertiary Education to ensure that normalcy is restored at the UZ campus
and students resume lectures. We also demand that a probe be carried out on
the torture of the students and looting of students' property during the
evictions", ZCTU Information Officer Khumbulani Ndlovu said in a statement
released by South Africa Congress of Trade Union (COSATU) on Friday.
For the past seven years repressions of all kinds have been on the increase
in Zimbabwe with the latest being the unjustifiable evictions of students
from the UZ campus.
"We are more shocked with recent revelations that students were
indiscriminately beaten up by armed riot police who also looted the poor
students' property", Ndlovu said.
The labour body expressed shock over the level of heavy-handedness that has
been used by state security agencies against the students in Zimbabwe and
accused the government for depriving its citizens their basic right
including, the right to education.
ZCTU urged the government to address problems bedeviling the education
system in the country to avoid looming protests and resistance by students.
"We demand the government to address problems paralysing the education
sector in the country. The issues of high fees at tertiary institutions, a
decline in education standards and continued harassment of student leaders
remain unsolved as government turns a deaf ear to these. As long as these
issues remain unsolved student leaders will organize for more serious
strikes and resistance against the government and we will stand by them",
Last month, UZ students demonstrated over continued deterioration of
education standards, health, accommodation, food and social standards
currently bedeviling the nation at large.
During demonstration students denouncing the university Chancellor President
Robert Mugabe and his vice, Chancellor Levy Nyagura
Riot police armed with sophisticated artillery descended on the campus and
fired several gunshots and teargas after which they started beating up
students indiscriminately. Two vicious dogs were unleashed on the
defenceless students which resulted in four students being mauled.
Afrique en ligne
APA-Harare (Zimbabwe) The United Nations said on Friday that current
economic problems Zimbabwe is facing could reverse gains in the education
sector, warning that the country may miss the Millennium Development Goal
target of universal primary education.
UN resident coordinator for Zimbabwe, Augustino Zacharias, said gains
towards attaining universal primary education were being threatened by the
ongoing economic problems, which are forcing most families to withdraw their
children from school.
"In order to arrest this trend, the UN country team is supporting
household livelihood projects targeted at sustaining household capabilities
to keep children in school," Zacharias said during a roundtable discussion
with Zimbabwean journalists in the capital Harare.
Zimbabwe is in the eighth year of an economic crisis that has crippled
the country's industry. The country's inflation is estimated at more than
4,500 per cent and it is the highest in the world, while unemployment is
more than 80 per cent.
With support from the UN Children's Fund, Zimbabwe is working on a
National Plan of Action for Orphans and Vulnerable Children in order to
reduce the number of school dropouts.
International Herald Tribune
By David Coltart Published: July 13, 2007
As I marched in protest with a handful of fellow Zimbabwean lawyers in
Bulawayo recently, I looked into the eyes of the riot police and believed
that I saw the beginning of cracks in the regime.
The Law Society of Zimbabwe called a strike in protest against recent
attacks on and arrests of members of the legal profession, so we gathered
here at the High Court on June 27th to march to the offices of the governor
of Bulawayo to present a petition.
The riot police stood on the steps of the High Court and told us that the
march was illegal and that we had to move away. Approximately 15 of us then
started a three-block march to the governor's office - followed by a stately
procession of police vehicles that included members of the "Law and Order"
As we - the 15 dangerous lawyers - arrived at the governor's office, the
riot police spread out, with shields raised and batons drawn. We were
ordered to stop, told that our march was illegal and that we should disperse
immediately or be dispersed by force.
We explained that we wanted to deliver a petition protesting against the
persecution of our colleagues in Harare. The commanding officer was not
interested. He threatened us again, called for reinforcements and ordered us
to disperse. Further detachments of riot police officers and other policemen
had arrived, bringing the strength of their forces to around 40. We asked
the commanding officer to take our petition to the governor, but he refused.
So we left our letter at his feet and turned to march back to the High
Court. Once more, we were ordered to disperse, and once more we ignored the
order. Shortly after that, another truck-load of about 20 policemen arrived,
armed with shotguns and FN military rifles. Our group walked a block,
followed by this truck and the other riot policemen. Then we were stopped
again and told to disperse under threat of force.
Again we ignored the order and walked a further block, almost as far as the
High Court building. At this juncture we noticed further reinforcements
arriving and, having decided that we had made our point, we dispersed to our
Let me remind readers that our march could not be filmed by any television
station because there are no independent TV stations in Zimbabwe. Nor was it
covered by any independent journalists because there are no independent
daily newspapers left and foreign reporters are severely constrained.
Our march was conducted with the knowledge that, over the last seven years,
not a single police officer has been prosecuted for any of their assaults
against law-abiding Zimbabweans exercising their constitutional right to
We knew that the police officers who recently attacked the Law Society's
president, Beatrice Mtetwa, have not been arrested or prosecuted, nor will
they be. We all knew that the police know that they have absolute license to
bash whomever they like as hard as they like.
As President Robert Mugabe said in September after the arrests of labor
union activists: "Some are crying that they were beaten. Yes, you will be
thoroughly beaten. When the police say move, you move. If you don't move,
you invite the police to use force."
Nearly all the lawyers who took part in the march have represented many
exceptionally brave political and civic activists who have been
demonstrating for years and who have been brutally assaulted and tortured by
the police. To that extent the actions of this band of lawyers is not
remarkable. But it still took great courage to go outside the relative
security of their offices show solidarity with others who have stood for
their rights and the rights of all the people of Zimbabwe.
My abiding memory of the events is the expressions on the faces of the riot
police. Although they were brandishing batons and could have harmed us, when
I looked into their eyes I saw no enthusiasm for what they had been ordered
to do. In fact, if I sensed any emotion it was pity. The officer in charge
was hesitant and almost apologetic. Most of his men were in tattered
uniforms and many looked malnourished. When we avoided a violent
confrontation they looked relieved and when they followed us they were not
On the other hand, the police reinforcements were threatening, but they were
probably core loyalists. It struck me that we now may be up against a paper
tiger, that the regime is only protected by a thin veneer of die-hard
loyalists, and that the vast majority of the police officers understand that
change is coming.
I remembered Arthur Hugh Clough's "Say not the struggle naught availeth:"
For while the tired waves, vainly breaking, Seem here no painful inch to
gain, Far back, through creeks and inlets making, Comes silent, flooding in,
Despite all the fear and depression in Zimbabwe today, I sense that the tide
of popular opinion is silently flooding in and that this dreadful regime
will find itself overwhelmed from within.
David Coltart is the shadow minister of justice in Zimbabwe's Parliament and
a member of the Movement for Democratic Change. He has been a human rights
lawyer there since 1983.
July 13, 2007
Nico Hines, and Jan Raath in Harare
Shops across Zimbabwe were surrounded by thousands of shoppers today as
enforced price cuts led to panic buying and empty shelves.
The desperate scenes came as it emerged that President Mugabe's Government
has told businesses on the verge of collapse that they must increase wages
for their staff.
The nation has been plunged deeper into a humanitarian crisis by a crackdown
on price increases, which has brought the economy close to total collapse.
Mr Mugabe branded inflation the country's main enemy and slashed prices for
food, supplies and fuel two weeks ago.
The President has accused shops and services of profiteering and banned them
from raising prices. As a result of the cuts, a wave of panic buying has
swept the country leaving many businesses on the verge of collapse, with no
money to buy new stock.
a.. Zimbabwe's silent genocide
a.. Mugabe calls in thugs to police prices
a.. Zimbabwe's top cleric urges Britain to invade
Obert Mpofu, chairman of the Cabinet Taskforce on Price Monitoring and
Stabilisation, told businessmen that despite being forced to halve their
prices and sell at a loss, they were expected to increase their workers'
wages. Business owners refusing to cut prices for bus journeys, supplies and
services have faced arrest and fines.
Supermarkets are empty, dozens of buses have been impounded and more than
2,700 managers have been arrested in the past fortnight after the government
sent out inspectors to ensure that prices were maintained.
The Zimbabwean middle classes have joined the rush to the shops. At the
South African store Makro in Harare, people loaded multiple trolleys with
goods, like fashionable shoes cut to about 25p and new television sets for
£12. They loaded their purchases into the luxury 4X4s they had abandoned in
the road outside in their bid to beat the queues.
"This is not going to last," said a company executive who asked not to be
named. "Fuel is going to run out and there will be no deliveries, no
services. The people who are benefiting from this legalised looting will be
the same people throwing stones in a few weeks."
The Government has also published new edicts banning the commercial import
of groceries without a permit at the end of the month.
The move will end business for thousands of informal traders who flock to
hypermarkets in neighbouring South Africa and Botswana for cheap goods for
resale here. The cross-border trade is a major source of basic and luxury
items to replace the locally manufactured goods that have dried up in the
last five years.
Mr Mugabe's move to halt price increases has been seen as a response to
repeated forecasts that Zimbabwe's wild inflation will bring the economy to
a halt and cause civil upheaval.
Violence in Zimbabwe has already reached endemic levels with opposition
politicians and anti-government protesters suffering regular attacks.
The crackdown on prices has reportedly been criticised by the chief of
Zimbabwe's central bank. The Zimbabwe Independent, a private newspaper,
claimed to have obtained a copy of a letter the head banker had sent to the
"Let's avoid the law of unintended consequences in the action government has
taken which will leave the country in a worse-off position than now," Gideon
The governor of the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe compared the "instant
gratification" of price-freezes to the war in Iraq. "Let's avoid what in
contemporary strategy has become known as the US/Iraq syndrome where the US,
backed by its allies went into Iraq without an exit strategy," he added.
Unofficial estimates put the May inflation figure at 4,500 per cent up from
3,720 per cent in April, a figure that already gave Zimbabwe comfortably the
world's highest rate of inflation.
The true inflation figures are a mystery. Economists suggest the rates have
become so embarrassing for the Zimbabwean government that they stopped
The Zimbabwean Central Statistical Office has failed to release the
inflation figures for the past two months. They have announced that a
year-long study will discover if there is a better way to measure inflation.
"They are very embarrassed with the inflation statistics, and I imagine they
will not be published again until maybe the CSO comes up with figures
acceptable to the authorities," John Robertson, a leading economist, told
A quarter of Zimbabwe's population has fled the country since the economy
began to fall apart, up to four million people have left a country where 80
per cent of the compatriots were unemployed.
Once the bread basket of southern Africa, Zimbabwe's economy is approaching
total collapse. Last month the Zimbabwe Doctors for Human Rights said: "It
can no longer be said that the health service is 'near collapse', It has
collapsed." The World Bank says Zimbabwe has the globe's fastest contracting
peacetime economy and life expectancy has slumped to 39.
Santa Barbara News Press
July 13, 2007 12:09 PM
Scripps Howard News Service
Toronto Globe and Mail
JOHANNESBURG - Crowds of people burst through supermarket doors while
terrified clerks fled out the back. Police in riot gear stood guard over the
menu in takeout chicken joints. And nearly two thousand of the country's top
business people were stuffed into jail cells, as the macabre theatre of
Zimbabwe's economic collapse took a bizarre new turn over the past few days.
Inflation in Zimbabwe has been running at an official rate of nearly 5,000
per cent, and at least double that in the estimation of independent
economists. That means that people are now paying more for toothpaste, when
they can find it, than they did to buy a two-bedroom house four years ago.
Late last week, the government accused businesses of ''colluding with the
West'' to try to destabilize the country by charging inflated prices, and
ordered all shop owners and managers to cut the prices of all goods by 50
percent, to counteract inflation. Some stores didn't open on Monday -- their
owners said there was no point; they would lose massively selling at these
prices -- but at those locations that did, there were scenes that nearly
Every able-bodied person who could get to a store dove into the crowds to
snatch up what they could. Petrified clerks fled in the face of an onslaught
of frenzied shoppers and soldiers were deployed to try to restore order. If
shoppers couldn't get through the hordes around the cooking oil, they bought
toilet paper, or salt, as much as they could carry: Most of the economy runs
on barter now in any case.
Then the government deployed police to make sure the halved prices were
being charged. The owners and directors of businesses that didn't comply, or
didn't open, were arrested.
''So far, we have arrested a further 468 violators countrywide in the last
24 hours, bringing the total of those arrested to 1,768 since the start of
Operation Reduce Prices,'' Police Chief Superintendent Oliver Mandipaka said
on Tuesday. ''We have beefed up our crack team. There will be more police in
the central business district and other residential areas.''
That meant police standing guard to make sure menus were not surreptitiously
rewritten, or new stickers added on at the tills.
Most business people have been released from jail after paying hefty fines.
Meanwhile, President Robert Mugabe said he would nationalize any business
that did not remain open, a statement that contributed to the nearly 20
percent loss of value on the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange this week.
Within days, of course, supplies of virtually everything had run out.
Zimbabweans said there were no staples available nationwide, such as cooking
oil or salt, as imports had stopped and all existing supplies were hoarded.
Meanwhile, there is now no fuel to be had, even for those paying in precious
foreign exchange. The Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions warned of imminent
mass layoffs -- in a country that already has 80-per-cent unemployment --
because there is no fuel to keep industry running.
One of Mugabe's foremost critics, Pius Ncube, Archbishop of Bulawayo, told
reporters in Johannesburg that the West must get involved, because domestic
opponents of the regime have lost heart.
''It may be that Zimbabweans solve their problems themselves, but right now
people are extremely demoralized,'' he said. ''Mugabe is a very violent
person. He will look for any opportunity to stay in power ... I don't think
we can do it on our own, without international pressure or assistance.''
He added that he was not looking for military intervention, but rather
concerted Western support for the mediation efforts being led by Zimbabwe's
Zimbabwe's opposition parties and . Mugabe's ZANU-PF are meeting in South
Africa this week in an effort to negotiate some sort of resolution to the
crisis that has destroyed what was once one of the continent's most vibrant
economies, and sent more than a quarter of the population into exile.
(Distributed by Scripps Howard News Service, www.scrippsnews.com.)
From The Cape Argus (SA), 12 July
Food and fuel disappear as government controls take effect
"Someone is going to save us. Mbeki won't let us go down. If not him, then
someone, maybe China or Libya," a top Zanu PF businessman told a lunch date
in Harare last Friday. Steak was not available at that lunch. The only red
meat was some stringy goat. Chicken bits were still on the menu as producers
have some stock feed in their warehouses. Zimbabwe has been unable to
produce stock feeds for the last six years. Chicken producers have had to
source rands from the black market to buy grain from South Africa, which is
delivered by rail to Bulawayo and then taken by truck to Harare. When the
present stock feed runs out, and even if the huge chicken battery operations
around Harare are nationalised, who will find the foreign currency to import
the grain to keep the chickens fed, asked the businessman at lunch with his
Zanu PF friend? Using a flattering black market exchange rate, some of the
prices for staple foods in Zimbabwe would make South African housewives
green with envy. Chickens are selling, under the new price regime, at about
R16 each. Red meat, the preserve of the middle classes in urban areas for
the last three years, is no longer available. Abattoirs have been unable to
find cattle cheap enough to process for the enforced sale of R7.50/kg. If
shoppers can still find bread (and it's going to get worse as wheat farmers
had so little electricity for irrigation this season), now pay the
equivalent of R1.30 for a loaf. A 10kg pack of mealie meal - no longer
available in the shops - is selling, in theory, at R2.42. A standard 750ml
bottle of cooking oil - also not available - now costs R1.28, while a litre
of milk is R1.64.
And these are the rand prices at an exchange rate which is actually
improving, ironically, from the Zimbabwe dollar perspective, as foreign
currency is less in demand because there's very little to buy with it. When
manufacturers run out of stock and the importers refuse to import more goods
because it would be financial suicide to do so, even Zimbabwe's
sophisticated black market will dry up, most Zimbabweans predict. "We will
have to eat prawns to get some protein," said a garage owner, before hopping
on a plane bound for Oliver Tambo International Airport on Tuesday. He had
28 000 litres of fuel stored underground. On Monday the price police arrived
and ordered attendants to sell at the new price, about R3 per litre
(compared to R9 before). They said the garage was closed, that they didn't
have the keys and ran away. The garage owner, a former farmer trying to earn
enough money to live in Harare since he was evicted from his home and land
four years ago, gave up the struggle and left the country, taking the keys
to the underground tanks with him.
Yesterday, price boss Obert Mpofu, Minister of Industry and International
Trade, said it was now illegal for any abattoir other than the state-owned
Cold Storage Commission (CSC) to slaughter animals. So all private abattoirs
where most slaughtering was taking place will be immediately out of
business. "Who is going to sell cattle to the CSC at the prices they are
offering in order to sell meat at the controlled price? No one, so the beef
isn't going to come back to the shops," said a Harare industrialist who,
like almost everyone else, doesn't want to be named. Pharmacies are next in
line to slash prices. Deputy Minister of Health and Child Welfare Dr Edwin
Muguti said on Monday that the task force had begun to examine essential
drugs such as insulin and anti-retrovirals. So diabetics, and those with
HIV/Aids will soon find that their essential drugs have disappeared.
Inflation calculated by the Central Statistical Office for July will show a
huge decrease, calculating prices of goods not available. It is presently at
nearly 5 000% a year.
Sokwanele Report: 13 July 2007
Zimbabwe is about to become embroiled in yet another election. Or rather two simultaneous elections, one Presidential and the other Parliamentary, according to the wishes of ZANU PF which is moving to change the Constitution in order to bring about this "harmonization" of two polls which hitherto have not coincided. No dates have been given for the electoral exercise though the indications are that it will take place at some time during the first quarter of 2008. Already political events in the country are beginning to move around this new centre of gravity.
The regime of Robert Mugabe claims to respect the democratic principle and to secure its political legitimacy from the consent of the majority of those it governs. Its opponents contend that it is profoundly undemocratic and now, following a succession of rigged elections between the years 2000 and 2005, without a popular mandate. The 2008 elections therefore provide the opportunity to assess these competing claims and decide where the truth lies. However we shall only discover where the truth lies if we are able to assess the conduct of the electoral process against a credible and agreed set of standards.
Fortunately there is to hand just such a set of agreed standards and, if there is any difference between the standards that apply in Africa and those that are accepted elsewhere in the world (though heaven knows why they should not be the same), then these must be taken to be truly indigenous, African standards because they were adopted by the Southern African Development Community (SADC) in 2004. We refer to the "SADC Principles and Guidelines Governing Democratic Elections", adopted by the SADC leaders on 17th August 2004 in Mauritius. As a member of SADC, Zimbabwe was a signatory to these benchmark principles, and therefore it is entirely fitting that the regime's performance in relation to the forthcoming elections should be measured against this standard.
As has often been pointed out and with good reason, an election is a process rather than an event. It follows that the compliance of any government staging an election must be measured over the whole course of the process, beginning as in this case from before the date of the election has been given and on through to after the vote has been counted and the official results delivered. Only so can one truly say whether or not the process has been "fair and free". Indeed this principle is acknowledged within the SADC guidelines themselves where attention is paid to what is happening on the ground from long before to long after the actual vote.
In relation to the Parliamentary Elections of March 2005, Sokwanele
undertook a regular weekly feature, entitled "Mauritius Watch", which tracked
the performance of the Mugabe regime against the same SADC guidelines. Readers
are referred to those articles, and to our considered summary of evidence which
can be seen in the archives section of our website
Two years down the line, as the country gears up for yet another momentous event in its history, the need arises to undertake a similar service for the benefit of those reporters, writers, commentators, diplomats and others who wish to be well informed about events on the ground but who perhaps lack the time or resources to track events themselves on a daily basis. We trust our new regular feature, Zimbabwe Election Watch, will serve this purpose. While we certainly cannot hope to provide an exhaustive description of every event that relates to or has a bearing on the 2008 elections, we intend to provide a representative sample, enabling our readers to discern the trends and providing enough by way of our summaries and links to other news sources, to obtain the specific details any might require.
It should go without saying that we for our part will be doing all in our power to ensure that events are covered in an objective and non-partisan manner. We are quite content that the facts should speak for themselves - but at the very least let Zimbabwe and the world know what the facts are.
Zimbabwe Election Watch
Issue 1 : 13 July 2005
Government turning a blind eye to police intimidation and
Source Date: 10-07-2007
received information today (10th July, 2007) from an activist that while a
well-known shop in Harare was refusing to sell bread to the general public it
was supplying Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) and Air Force Zimbabwe (AFZ), out
the back door.
Further enquiries revealed that the manager and owner of the shop concerned were among those arrested last week in the ZANU PF nation-wide purge of the business community.
Our sources on the ground in Zimbabwe confirm that, as a result of the recent orchestrated campaign of violence and intimidation, a number of shop owners and managers have reluctantly agreed to prioritise the sale of scarce goods to security forces. Those who have been "roughed up" by the police and Mugabe's youth militia were among the first to yield to the pressure.
Many commentators believe that the police are being allowed to get away with this sort of harassment and ill-treatment of the civilian population because the regime is no longer able to provide them with a livable salary. It is understood that the regime is deliberately turning a blind eye to looting, regarding it as a form of 'payment in kind' or reward to those in the security services.
Source: Sokwanele (activist information)
SADC standards breached
Zimbabweans trying to register to vote experience delays,
Source Date: 08-07-2007
poor publicity of the voter registration exercise, the Zimbabwe Election Support
Network (ZESN) has said Zimbabweans are coming out in their numbers to register
for the 2008 elections.
"When the ZESN team visited the Mbare Netball grounds registration centre on Monday 2 July there were over 300 people queuing to register as voters as well as to obtain other identification documents," said ZESN in the update.
The organisatin said turnout was however low in Harare as evidenced at Glen Norah District Office when the ZESN team visited the centre on Wednesday 4 July 2007.
"Most people at these centers claimed that they had not seen the newspaper adverts that publicized the voter registration exercise. This was particularly the case at Nyachuru Secondary School, Copley Farm and Mhandu Primary School in Zvimba District, Mashonaland West," said ZESN, revealing that only five people at Mbare Netball Grounds claimed to have seen adverts in the newspaper.
"The people were pessimistic that they would be registered at the centers considering the slow pace at which they were being served. Some claimed that they had been at their centres for two days and were yet to be served."
Although registration for those aged between 16 and 18 years was free, said ZESN, all those above 18 were supposed to pay $25 000-00. "Those seeking to replace lost identity cards were expected to pay $30 000-00. Some people who spoke to ZESN, at Copley Farm and Nyachuru Secondary School on this issue expressed concern that the amount was too exorbitant considering that they were poor and unemployed peasants".
Source: Zimbabwean, The (ZW)
Link to source:
SADC standards breached
Additional comments on this event in relation to SADC
At the time of writing this entry, inflation in Zimbabwe stands at an estimated 10-15,000 per cent, and is escalating fast. Unemployment exceeds 80 per cent. Asking people who are struggling to survive to pay for paperwork necessary to register to vote will inevitably lead to disenfranchisement.
Chief threatens village heads
Source Date: 08-07-2007
A Gwanda chief
last week allegedly threatened to banish from her area village heads who support
the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), sparking fears of intensified
"political cleansing" in Matabeleland ahead of elections next year.
Chief Ketso Mathe of Bulamba communal lands controls Tshoboyi and Lushongwe, in which there are allegedly three village heads linked to the MDC – namely Batang Moyo of Tshoboyi, and Zondelwa Dube and Jackson Ndlovu from Lushongwe respectively.
It is reported that Chief Mathe issued serious threats against the three village heads on account of their political affiliation. As a result the three now fear for their lives.
In recent weeks MDC leaders have claimed that the police were directing them to first seek clearance with the traditional leaders before they could hold meetings in areas under their jurisdiction. The opposition in Zimbabwe have long complained of the politicization of traditional leaders by Robert Mugabe's ZANU PF party.
Identified perpetrators: Chief Ketso Mathe of Bulamba
communal lands, Gwanda
Identified victims: Village heads - Batang Moyo of Tshoboyi, Zondelwa Dube and Jackson Ndlovu of Lushongwe
Source: Zimbabwe Standard, The (ZW)
Link to source: http://www.thezimbabwestandard.com/
SADC standards breached
registration process criticised
Source Date: 06-07-2007
main opposition party, the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC)says it is not
happy about the government's ongoing voter registration exercise ahead of next
year's presidential and parliamentary elections. The
MDC has described the exercise as "fraudulent and opaque". It says not only was the opposition not informed about the exercise, but that it was aware of several malpractices in the voter registration process.
The general secretary of the Tsvangirai-led faction of the MDC, Tendai Biti, complained about the current programme of voter registration by mobile units. “The process is not transparent”, he said. “these guys just wake up one morning and they decide to get out this opaque process across the country. We don't know where, how and when it is being done.”
The National Director, Rindai Chipfunde-Vava, of the Zimbabwe Election Support Network, which fielded thousands of monitors during the last general election in 2005, said the process was flawed because it started late and was not well publicized.
Mr Biti of the MDC also complained about the use of the present voters' roll in the exercise, a register which is, in his words, “irredeemably defective.”
Mr Biti again expressed the opposition party’s complete lack of confidence in any election process presided over by Tobaiwa Mudede, the Registrar General appointed by Robert Mugabe. Not only the opposition party but many independent election observers have in the past accused Mr Mudede of bias towards Mugabe’s ZANU PF.
Identified perpetrators: Tobaiwa Mudede, the Registrar General
Source: VOANews (USA)
Link to source: http://www.voanews.com/english/Africa/2007-07-06-voa2.cfm
SADC standards breached
suspect protected from justice
Source Date: 05-07-2007
the elusive Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO) operative, controversially
embroiled in the gruesome murder back in 2000 of two opposition MDC activists,
is now safely ensconced in the Zimbabwe mission in Lusaka, the Zambian
Sources in the CIO say Mwale was transferred to Lusaka last year and has become an official at the Zimbabwean embassy since then. Mwale's posting in Lusaka effectively scuttles efforts to bring the much feared intelligence
operative to book for the alleged gruesome murder of Talent Mabika and Tichaona Chiminya.
The two MDC activists were burnt alive in a callous petrol-bomb attack at Murambinda Growth Point in Manicaland as they campaigned for their party ahead of the 2000 parliamentary elections, amid an orgy of state-sponsored violence targeting opposition candidates and their supporters.
Efforts to bring Mwale to book through prosecution have proved futile over the years, amid reports that he enjoys massive political support from top ruling party politicians as well as government officials.
Efforts by former Manicaland prosecutor, Levison Chikafu, to bring Mwale to justice were frustrated. On September 23, 2006, Chikafu wrote to the then police chief in Manicaland Province saying: "The accused faces a charge of murder which was committed in the year 2000. The docket was referred to your office with instructions that you arrest Joseph Mwale and bring him for initial remand." The docket disappeared from the police station immediately, and now Chikafu himself has been arrested and faces a number of what he asserts are trumped up charges.
Meanwhile nothing further has been heard of the Mwale murder case, and now it appears the fugitive from justice has quietly slipped across the border into neighbouring Zambia to take up a government posting.
Identified perpetrators: Joseph Mwale
Identified victims: Talent Mabika, Tichaona Chiminya
Source: Zimbabwe Times, The (ZW)
Link to source:
SADC standards breached
Additional comments on this event in relation to SADC
This event undermines any remaining confidence for the security of opposition campaigners in the current process
registration process criticised
Source Date: 28-06-2007
government's voter registration exercise began on the 18th of June and is due to
end on August 17 this year. Meanwhile the Registrar General’s department already
stands accused of political bias in opening fewer voter registration centres in
urban areas, which in the past have proved to be opposition strongholds. Both
the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) and the smaller United People’s Party
(UPP) have said they regard this as a deliberate ploy to ensure that fewer
opposition supporters are able to register to vote.
The MDC also charges that in the rural areas, chiefs and other traditional leaders, who are well known for their loyalty to President Robert Mugabe and his ZANU PF party, had been tasked to screen and vet people wishing to register.
At the same time there appears to be widespread confusion about the purpose of the exercise in the minds of many people. Member of Parliament, Abednico Bhebhe, who is also deputy spokesman for the Mutambara faction of the MDC, said in his constituency of Nkayi in Matabeleland North province, some registration officials were telling villagers that the current exercise was to register people wanting national identity documents and not voters.
The UPP’s director of elections, Anthony Kundishora, registered a strong complaint.
"Scores of our supporters," he said, "particularly youths who have just turned 18 have approached our offices complaining that they have been denied the chance to register."
Identified perpetrators: Registrar General Tobaiwa
Identified victims: MDC UPP
Source: Zim Online (ZW)
Link to source: http://www.zimonline.co.za/Article.aspx?ArticleId=1596
SADC standards breached
condemns short voter registration period
Source Date: 18-06-2007
registration of voters started on Monday 18th June and, according to government
sources, will continue up to the 17th of August 2007. However the Zimbabwe
Election Support Network (ZESN) which has been monitoring the electoral process
in Zimbabwe for many years, believes that this time is inadequate and proposes
that it be extended to at least four months.
The Network is also deeply concerned that the exercise has not been adequately publicised which might result in most of prospective voters being unable to register.
ZESN believes that advertisements in the print media are not an appropriate and sufficient medium of communication of this strategic component of the electoral process. This is especially so when considering that the targeted audience is usually the impoverished peasants who live in remote areas where they have little, if any, access to newspapers or are too poor to afford them.
The Registrar General has set up a number of registration centres throughout the country. However, the amount of time spent at some of the centers is so ridiculously short as to render the whole exercise a sham, says ZESN. For instance they cite the example of Kawondera Primary School and Dzikamidzi Primary School in Zvimba District, where the Registrar General's team will be visiting for only one day which, they say, makes a mockery of what should be a carefully planned and executed exercise.
The majority of the teams are due to spend an average of three days at most of the centres. According to ZESN the time allowed is insufficient, and they fear that not all eligible voters will get the opportunity to register if the exercise is to be ‘fast-tracked’, as intended.
Identified perpetrators: Tobaiwa Mudede - The Registrar General
Source: Zimbabwe Election Support Network (ZESN)
Link to source: http://www.zesn.org.zw/docs/pdf/Press_Statement_voter_registration07.pdf
SADC standards breached
activists abducted, others arrested after Harare demo
Source Date: 15-06-2007
On 15th June
the National Constitutional Assembly (NCA)reported that at least 50 of their
activists had not been accounted for and six were then in police custody a day
after plain-clothes and uniformed police officers blocked a planned
demonstration in Harare. Tapera Kapuya, a spokesperson for the group, said
police had not allowed the detained activists access to lawyers. No charges had
been brought against them either. Kapuya said the NCA suspected the 50 missing
activists were taken from their homes by government agents after the banning of
The six detained were taken from the Central Business District in Harare as police violently dispersed activists who had gathered for the demonstration.
Kapuya later explained that the police used excessive force and several injuries were reported. He said: "Police were quite vicious in their treatment of those who were participating in the protest. And several innocent ordinary people going about their business were caught in the chaos."
The NCA spokesperson expressed concern for the welfare of the missing activists, saying there has been a brutal ongoing campaign by the government against the NCA. He added: "It seems very organised, because they have been identifying our people, abducting, torturing and then dumping them in remote areas."
The NCA is campaigning for a new, democratic and people-driven Constitution ahead of any further elections in Zimbabwe.
The opposition parties have reported that their officials and supporters are also being kidnapped by government agents who torture and then dump them miles away from home.
Source: SW Radio Africa (ZW)
Link to source: http://www.swradioafrica.com/news150607/nca150607.htm
SADC standards breached
Opposition activists under violent attack
Source Date: 01-06-2007
months officials of Zimbabwe's main opposition party, the Movement for
Democratic Change (MDC)and other pro-democracy activists have been subjected to
a barrage of violent assaults, abductions and torture by agents of the state. In
March the world was shocked by television images of bloodied and battered party
leaders emerging from police custody. Since that time, though not so well
covered by the world media, the violent assaults have continued and intensified
against all levels of leadership in the MDC and those perceived to represent the
The MDC’s deputy national organising secretary, Morgan Komichi, is one of those on the receiving end of such brutality. It was reported on 1st June that he was battling for life in remand prison as authorities continued to block him from receiving specialist medical treatment. Harare Magistrate, Gloria Takundwa, had earlier ordered Komichi to be taken straight back to a prison hospital when he appeared before her for a remand hearing. Komichi is one of several activists who were savagely tortured in police custody, according to Jessie Majome, the MDC’s deputy secretary for Legal Affairs.
At the time of Komichi's appearance in court Majome expressed deep concern about the state of his health. He suffers from hypertension and it was feared that his condition had become life threatening.
The magistrate also ordered the police to investigate the alleged torture of the political prisoners after some of them appeared in court with fresh wounds and bruises. Among those who were having difficulties walking were Philip Mabika, Shame Wakatama, Piniel Denga and Komichi.
Identified victims: Morgan Komichi, Philip Mabika, Shame Wakatama, Piniel Denga
Source: SW Radio Africa (ZW)
Link to source: http://www.swradioafrica.com/News010607/MDC010607.htm
SADC standards breached
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Monsters and Critics
Jul 13, 2007, 7:27 GMT
Harare - Four policemen have so far been arrested in Zimbabwe for allegedly
looting shops under the guise of enforcing controversial price controls, a
newspaper said Friday.
The arrests come after police on Thursday warned that some criminals and
ex-police officers are also masquerading as price inspectors in a bid to
take advantage of this month' blitz on prices.
'So far, two policemen from Bulawayo (the second largest city) and two
others in Harare have been arrested for corruption while attached to the
price control section, police spokesman Oliver Mandipaka said.
'We are aware that some bogus elements with the sole objective of looting
from retailers are now masquerading as police officers, Mandipaka told the
official Herald daily.
For the past week Zimbabwean police have been roaming stores across the
country demanding owners and store managers reduce their prices by at least
half, to the delight of inflation-weary shoppers.
The blitz has angered the business community, which says it has incurred
huge losses and will not be able to restock shop shelves.
So far more than 1,700 shop owners and company officials have been arrested
and many of them fined for defying the price cuts or hoarding scarce
Mandipaka said businesses had the right to demand identification papers from
inspectors carrying out raids.
'We urge both retailers and shoppers to report any cases of suspected
criminal activity by officers,' he added.
There are witness reports from the border city of Mutare that in some cases
police and inspectors have summoned their relatives, friends and colleagues
to cherry-pick goods like cement and fuel at knockdown prices.
Meanwhile police have since Wednesday impounded 100 commuter vehicles in the
capital Harare and arrested their drivers for defying a state directive to
reduce fares, said the Herald.
Transport operators say the fares imposed by the government are not viable
given escalating costs of fuel and spares.
© 2007 dpa - Deutsche Presse-Agentur
July 13, 2007 Edition 1
Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe's behaviour has now become so irrational
that it is hard to discern how he imagines it could benefit even himself,
let alone the country, which became irrelevant to him a long time ago.
By forcing businesses to halve prices at peril of arrest and by threatening
to nationalise those businesses which close down rather than continuing to
operate at a loss, Mugabe has of course superficially "curbed inflation".
And, partly because prices have come down, and partly because foreign
exchange is no longer in such demand, the black market exchange rates of the
Zimbabwe dollar has also dropped, according to reports.
So perhaps Mugabe's inflation-busting storm troopers are reporting back to
him that his campaign is succeeding.
The small but important flaw in his strategy, though, is that goods are fast
disappearing from the shelves and are unlikely to be replaced because
merchants understandably don't want to produce goods at a loss.
Some of these goods will reappear on the black market at inflated prices and
then, it seems, the people will face hunger and even starvation.
That is likely to be the moment of truth for Mugabe when he could face bread
riots. His only options appear to be the deployment of force, either to
force bakers and other food manufacturers to keep producing at gunpoint - or
to put down the hungry mobs with violence.
Or both. Perhaps Mugabe, faced with the options of real political and
economic reforms to resolve the crisis or continued oppression has chosen
the latter in the belief that, even if forlorn, it is his best hope of
clinging to power. The economic and political crises are so intertwined that
he cannot reform the economy without also making political reforms which
would threaten his power. So more repression is likely.
For President Thabo Mbeki the critical question is whether he has time to
pursue his tentative efforts to mediate a rational, negotiated solution to
the crisis? Or will those efforts be overtaken by the backlash to Mugabe's
drastic destruction of the economy?
Ramaphosa's candidacy for ANC president, and a dodgy crime statistic
13 July 2007
In much of the writing about South Africa's policy towards Zimbabwe, there
continues to be an implicit assumption that our government is acting
rationally and working towards reasonable goals. This truly represents the
triumph of hope over experience, for the ANC has remained unwavering in its
support for ZANU-PF - regardless of the ever-worsening situation in that
A standard riposte to criticism of the government on this issue, is to
suggest that there is no real alternative to the softly-softly approach,
that nothing else really could have been done. The ANC is thus painted as
the innocent bystander silently watching a robbery in progress - helpless to
intervene - rather than as the accomplice acting as look-out for the gang.
For instance, it is not clear what the goal of Thabo Mbeki's "mediation
effort" is, other than to fob off Western pressure. For as long as the ANC
government remains opposed to a change of regime across the Limpopo it is
difficult to see what it can ever achieve.
For obvious reasons the Movement for Democratic Change wants free and fair
elections next year. The current ruling elite in Zimbabwe will not willingly
acquiesce to this demand - for the simple reason that it would result in
their rapid exit from power. Does anyone really believe that the Zimbabwean
people would voluntarily re-elect the agents of their utter immiseration?
The unseriousness with which ZANU-PF regards the whole enterprise was
illustrated by their failure to turn up for a scheduled meeting last
weekend. Zimbabwe's Financial Gazette notes that this was the third meeting
they had "not bothered to attend since March 1, when SADC tasked the South
African leader to mediate between ZANU PF and the fractured opposition
Minister of Foreign Affairs, Nkosazana Zuma, did not seem too perturbed by
their absence, stating that there "must have been a good reason as to why
they did not turn up. I will find out because they are committed to that
mediation. I don't think it was any sign of them wanting to pull out or
When South Africa has an opportunity to act against Mugabe, it chooses not
to. It could, for one, stop demanding his inclusion in the African Union's
delegation to the European Union's Africa Summit in Portugal later this
year. As The Economist noted in an editorial last week: "It is shameful that
African leaders continue not only to shield but also positively to promote
Mr Mugabe in this way."
There is no sign of this happening. At a press briefing on July 5 Deputy
Foreign Affairs Minister, Aziz Pahad, reiterated that: "Africa will not move
from its position that you cannot determine what constitutes the African
delegation. There's a lot of fear. Today its Zimbabwe, tomorrow it could be
us and the next week it could be someone else."
There is an interesting assessment of Cyril Ramaphosa's as yet undeclared
candidacy for the ANC presidency in the latest edition of the usually
well-informed - if not always wholly reliable - London-based newsletter
The article takes it as given that Ramaphosa will run for the position; and
it makes a number of interesting points about his candidacy. One is that
when Thabo Mbeki was chosen as Mandela's successor, back in the mid-1990s,
Ramaphosa was "assured that he was still young and that his turn would come
immediately after Mbeki's; Ramaphosa's supporters say this means he has a
right to the candidacy."
It also suggests, but does not state outright, that Ramaphosa would enjoy
the support of Nelson Mandela. It notes cryptically, "Amid the turmoil,
there is increasingly an acceptance that party elders could ease tensions
and ensure a smooth transfer. Some of those elders think tradition would be
well served by handing the baton to Ramaphosa."
The article states that Ramaphosa enjoys the support of the old UDF
leadership, as well as three former provincial premiers. It adds that the
ANC's Secretary General, Kgalema Motlanthe, "often defers to Ramaphosa, his
predecessor as NUM Secretary-General."
The article claims that "despite many past fall-outs, Ramaphosa has mended
his fences with Mbeki, who would accept him as president if the alternative
was Zuma." However, there seems to be some nervousness among the Mbeki-ites
at the prospect a Ramaphosa presidency: "Mbeki's advisors say Mbeki suspects
that, if elected, Ramaphosa might restrict his influence" (whatever that
"Those close to both Mbeki and Ramaphosa say that [in 2001] the two struck a
pact whose broad terms were that they would stay out of each other's
pastures; Ramaphosa would not interfere in the presidency and Mbeki would
leave Ramaphosa to his business career. The same sources claim that Mbeki
agreed not to stand in Ramaphosa's way if he sought to pursue the presidency
If the article is to be believed it is Jacob Zuma, not Mbeki, who is
Ramaphosa's main rival and enemy. It claims the two men have been "opposed
since 1991, when Zuma's job was to keep Ramaphosa out of office on behalf of
some ambitious antagonists." Zuma's supporters also see Ramaphosa as the
biggest threat to their man.
Late last year the 2005/2006 annual report [PDF] of the South African Police
Service stated that the Crime Information Analysis Centre (CIAC) had
conducted a survey of 9 623 dockets covering crimes such as murder,
attempted murder, rape, assault with intent, and common assault. This
analysis had found that in 81,5% of murders the perpetrators were known to
the victim. (41,8% of perpetrators were friends or acquaintances of the
victim, and 20,1% family members.)
Since then this 81,5% statistic has been regularly cited by the Minister of
Safety & Security, Charles Nqakula, and other government leaders, including
President Mbeki. It was repeated again earlier this month on the release of
the latest crime statistics.
Yet, there was always something fishy about this statistic. After all, it is
impossible to ask a victim of murder if they knew their killer, and a very
small proportion of murders are actually ever solved in this country. And in
Business Day yesterday Antony Altbeker thoroughly debunks it.
He points out that - according to the fine print - in only 72,5% of the
murder dockets analysed could the relationship between victims and
perpetrators be established. This meant that that the CIAS could actually
establish "that someone known to the victim committed the murder in only 59%
of the cases they looked at." They, or at least their political masters,
simply assumed that the 81,5% figure - derived from the cases where the
perpetrators were known - applied equally to those cases where they were
Altbeker comments, "This is preposterous: it is obviously significantly
easier to establish the identity of the killer if he is known to the victim.
It is much more likely, therefore, that only a small minority of the 28% of
unidentified killers were known to the victim."
Moreover, the police were analysing closed dockets, which meant that in most
cases they were looking at solved crimes. This created a further bias, as it
"is far, far easier to solve crimes in which the perpetrator is linked to
the victim... Anyone who doubts this conclusion needs to ask themselves only
one question: if the police know that 80% of murder victims know their
killers, why do conviction rates hover around 20%?" Altbeker suggests that
the true figure is likely to be much closer to 50%.
Supporting evidence for his estimate is provided by the figures, from the
same analysis, for attempted murder - a crime where the victim is still
alive to identify the perpetrator. The CIAS found that in these cases only
59.4% of victims knew their attackers. (32.3% of perpetrators were friends
or acquaintances; and only 8.8% were relatives.)
'Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely' is once
again being confirmed in Zimbabwe.
13 July 2007
Lord Acton's famous observation that, 'power tends to corrupt, and absolute
power corrupts absolutely' is once again being confirmed in Zimbabwe. The
President has usurped all the power, none is left with the people, and all
the institutions of democratic governance have been corrupted.
Why, then, should anyone thank him for acting in such an autocratic, brutal,
unprincipled and economically ludicrous manner? Why when he has pulverised
the Zimbabwean economy, destroyed its agriculture, caused famine in a
country that was once called 'the bread basket of Africa', and inflicted
terrible harm on its people? Why when those of us with any humanity in our
souls are filled with horror at the consequences, with compassion for the
children, women and men who are caught up in this ghastly decades-long
tragedy, and with frustration at our inability to do anything about it?
We must thank Mugabe because he is graphically illustrating for us once
again the consequences, not of adopting really bad policies, but of taking
bad policies to extremes. It is only in their extreme state that the
foolishness of bad policies becomes crystal clear.
Examples of the destructive consequences of debasing currencies are easily
forgotten. We are being reminded at the expense of the unfortunate
A stable currency played an important role in the growth of the Roman Empire
but in 54-98 AD Emperor Nero began debasing the currency by reducing the
silver content of the denarius to 90 per cent and slightly reducing the size
of the gold aureus. Debasement continued under successive emperors until the
silver content of the denarius was reduced to 0.02 per cent by the third
century AD. During this time price inflation accelerated and the empire
became increasingly unstable.
Emperor Diocletian (284-305 AD) decided to try and stop the inflation, which
is estimated to have been about 15,000 per cent in the third century.
Diocletian, like Mugabe, blamed suppliers for the rising prices and set
maximum prices for a vast number of goods and services, with penalties for
disobeying the law which included death. The merchants fled into the country
with their goods and great shortages ensued. Currency debasement and high
taxes destroyed productive enterprise and was a major cause of the
disintegration of the Roman Empire.
Successive Roman governments expected the suppliers to provide the same
quantity of goods and services for a coinage bearing the same name but with
a radically reduced precious metal content. Today, theft of currency value
by stealth is not as easy to detect; biting paper money does not provide the
answers the ancients got when they bit gold coins.
To pay for the excesses of government, the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe, the
custodian of the Zimbabwean dollar, printed more and more notes, of larger
and larger denomination, stealthily appropriating and spending the wealth of
the unsuspecting holders of the currency, to the point where its purchasing
power halved in April, the CPI rising 100.7 per cent in one month. Shameful,
is it not? Shameful, yes, but not unique! Debasing the currency, the modern
equivalent of which is printing too much money, is the fundamental cause of
all general price increases.
When the extreme is reached and the consequences of bad government are
revealed for all to see, the dictator becomes frenzied. As Winston Churchill
said, 'Dictators ride to and fro upon tigers which they dare not dismount.
And the tigers are getting hungry.' The consequence of extreme debasement of
the Zimbabwe dollar is that merchants have demanded more and more of the
devaluing currency in exchange for their goods. And acting exactly as
Diocletian did, President Mugabe blamed the suppliers and instituted price
controls and extreme penalties. As happened with Diocletian, Mugabe's
tyrannical action will not only fail, it will make the situation infinitely
worse. It is increasingly worthless money that is at the root of the
In the Economic Freedom of the World report (EFW), co-published by the
Fraser Institute and the Economic Freedom Network, Zimbabwe was ranked 130th
of the 130 countries rated for their levels of economic freedom. The Index
of Economic Freedom co-published by the Heritage Foundation and the Wall
Street Journal placed Zimbabwe at 154th out of the 157 countries measured.
Libya, Cuba and North Korea are the three countries with the dubious
distinction of being less free.
The EFW report describes the cornerstones of economic freedom as 'personal
choice, voluntary exchange, freedom to compete, and security of privately
owned property. Zimbabwe's ranking indicates that the country's people enjoy
very few of these freedoms. In fact their economic freedom was measured at a
level of 2.8 out of 10; by contrast the rating of the world's freest
territory, Hong Kong, was 8.7 and SA 's 6.7.
Next door to Zimbabwe we find Botswana, which is the most economically free
country in Africa. On 'access to sound money' Botswana has a rating of 9.4,
with SA at 8.2 and Zimbabwe, not surprisingly at 0.0. Botswana's economy has
grown at an annual compound rate of 5.8 per cent and achieved a per capita
GDP of USD 10,000 (PPP) while Zimbabwe's has shrunk at 5.7 per cent per
annum over the same period and achieved a per capita GDP of USD 2,000. The
1.8 million Batswana produce a total GDP that is two-thirds that of the 12.9
million Zimbabweans. The stark difference between these two countries is the
direct result of their divergent government policy decisions.
Zimbabwe's CPI at the end of April of each year shows a startling
progression: 2001 - 84.5, 2002 - 180.8, 2003 -- 667.5, 2004 - 4038.8, 2005 -
9251.2, 2006 - 105,734.3 and 2007 - 4,032,633.7. It provides a record of an
imploding economy and a culmination of all the human rights transgressions,
the autocratic decisions and actions, and the erosion of the freedoms of the
citizens of Zimbabwe. If others learn from the Zimbabwe example not to
commit the same travesties of justice, liberty will gain.
Author: Eustace Davie is a director of the Free Market Foundation.
By Tererai Karimakwenda
July 13, 2007
The deepening crisis in Zimbabwe has raised fear in South Africa, where the
umbrella labour and business unions expressed deep concern for the people of
Zimbabwe and the threat posed to South African businesses. The Congress of
South African Trade Unions (COSATU) and the Business Unity South Africa
(BUSA) released separate statements this week expressing concern for South
African owned companies in the country and struggling Zimbabweans dealing
with shortages. Both confirmed their support for the mediation efforts being
led by their president Thabo Mbeki, and urged him to ensure a speedy
solution to the deteriorating economic crisis.
Business Unity Chief Executive Jerry Vilakazi said the group hoped Zimbabwe
would reach a mediated settlement and urged Mbeki to ensure that dialogue
between the ruling party and opposition continues. Referring to the Zimbabwe
government's ongoing campaign of forcing businesses to reduce prices,
Vilakazi said: "We understand that inflation has skyrocketed in the last few
months but we do not believe the solution lies in cutting prices
arbitrarily." The statement from the business group said they will be
sending a high level delegation to consult their members in Zimbabwe.
Meanwhile the labour union COSATU said it was particularly concerned that
the worst victims of Zimbabwe's deepening crisis were the poor workers, and
not the ruling elite. Reports quote Union officials as saying: "The worst
victims are not the ruling elite and their friends, but the ordinary people
of Zimbabwe, the workers and the poor in particular, for whom this is a
human and socio-economic disaster. More and more are now living in abject
COSATU has supported workers in Zimbabwe over the last few years as
unemployment and prices skyrocketed. The group has consistently criticised
the Mugabe regime's human rights record and has sent delegations to Zimbabwe
that were deported by force.
COSATU also said they are concerned about the secrecy surrounding the talks
being mediated by Mbeki. They urged the South African leader to include
civic society in the dialogue.
SW Radio Africa Zimbabwe news
By Craig Timberg
Washington Post Foreign Service
Friday, July 13, 2007; Page A01
CHITUNGWIZA, Zimbabwe -- It's not only the prices of bread and eggs that are
out of control in Zimbabwe, land of 4,000 percent inflation. For the man
inclined to cheat on his wife, these are trying times. Keeping a mistress,
visiting a prostitute or even taking a girlfriend out for beers is simply
becoming too expensive, men say.
But their strain is Zimbabwe's gain in its fight against AIDS. Alone among
southern African countries, Zimbabwe has shown a significant drop in its HIV
rate in recent years. A major reason, researchers say, is the changing
sexual habits of men forced to abandon costly multiple relationships.
"Those extramarital relationships, they're getting tough to sustain," said
Thomas Muza, 37, who is struggling to support his wife and a mistress on the
shrinking value of a math teacher's paycheck. Worth $50 a month at the
beginning of June, it's now worth $17 and falling almost every day.
AIDS activists and some researchers long blamed the continent's high poverty
rates for its unusually widespread HIV epidemics, arguing that poor medical
care and hunger made Africans especially vulnerable to the virus, while
financial need accelerated its spread by pushing women into prostitution.
Yet Zimbabwe's experience shows that the connection between AIDS and
economics is not nearly so straightforward. The country has made strides
against HIV during eight years of steep recession. Wealthier neighbors such
as South Africa and Botswana, meanwhile, have struggled to curb new
infections despite much higher levels of development and massive spending on
Many researchers now suspect that economic vitality -- expressed in rising
truck traffic, burgeoning bar scenes and widening income disparity --
encourage the behaviors that fuel a sexually transmitted epidemic. But as
men get poorer, they pare back their relationships, making them less likely
to contract or spread HIV.
AIDS remains severe here, with an estimated one in five Zimbabwean adults
infected with the virus that causes the disease, but surveys show that the
number of new infections has fallen. Men report fewer girlfriends, fewer
visits to prostitutes and less casual sex -- all indicators that in other
countries have accompanied a retreating epidemic.
Nightclubs, cinemas and brothels have closed in Harare, the capital, and in
some cases evangelical churches have taken over the buildings. Less visibly,
men say they are abandoning what Zimbabweans call "small houses," a legacy
of the polygamous marriages once common here.
In these relationships, married men pay rent and other living expenses for a
second or even third regular sex partner. As in marriages, condoms rarely
are used, creating webs of unprotected sex easily infiltrated by HIV if the
man or any of the women become infected.
"Having a lot of girlfriends or having 'small houses,' you've got to have a
degree of disposable income," said Godfrey Woelk, an epidemiologist at the
University of Zimbabwe. "Being poor and being in love does not really work,
no matter what the romantics say."
Muza, who has a long face and a thin beard, was not poor when he started
teaching. He was part of Zimbabwe's broad middle class that also included
the bureaucrats, engineers and factory managers whom the country's schools,
once the best in Africa, turned out by the tens of thousands.
Now these same men find their paychecks tripling or quadrupling some months.
But prices are rising so much faster that many are slipping below the
poverty line. Some joke bitterly that with a roll of toilet paper costing
about 30,000 Zimbabwean dollars, it would be cheaper to stack 100-dollar
bills in their bathrooms.
Muza earns 2.5 million Zimbabwean dollars a month teaching, and about half
goes to the rent, groceries and other expenses of his "small house."
"It's very difficult," Muza said softly, his voice trailing off.
With rich reddish soil, steady sunshine and seemingly enlightened
governance, Zimbabwe for two decades was regarded as the economic miracle of
President Robert Mugabe, who took over in 1980 from a white-supremacist
government, invested heavily in education. Plentiful commercial farms made
Zimbabwe an exporter of food. A steady flow of foreign tourists visited the
country's unspoiled game parks and Victoria Falls, a mile-wide torrent of
water considered one of the world's natural wonders.
But faced with rising political opposition, Mugabe in 2000 endorsed
invasions of white-owned commercial farms by landless black peasants. The
move won him some support but led to economic ruin and growing political
repression. Zimbabwe became one of the world's biggest recipients of
international food aid. Its currency tumbled so fast that the money used to
buy a new car in 2000 would be worth less than a U.S. penny now.
Many AIDS experts feared this turmoil would worsen an epidemic that already
was among the most severe in the world.
Yet in 2005, the U.N. AIDS agency reported that the country had experienced
southern Africa's first major decline in HIV. The drop was clearest among
pregnant women who attended prenatal clinics, but studies of other groups
showed similar trends.
The most recent nationwide survey, conducted in 2005 and 2006, put
Zimbabwe's HIV rate for adults at 18.1 percent, still higher than in all but
five other countries in the world. Researchers believe it peaked a few years
earlier at about 25 percent.
This shift came despite Zimbabwe's pariah status at a time when growing
international funding has allowed other African countries to dramatically
expand their efforts to combat the epidemic. When President Bush created his
$15 billion anti-AIDS program, all of Zimbabwe's neighbors -- South Africa,
Botswana, Mozambique and Zambia -- were cited as "focus countries" worthy of
Zimbabwe, which Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice labeled an "outpost of
tyranny," was not, making it one of Africa's least popular recipients of
foreign aid. Botswana and Uganda have received 10 times more annual
financial support for each person living with HIV than has Zimbabwe, a U.N.
Among the initial skeptics about the falling HIV rate was Zimbabwean AIDS
researcher Exnevia Gomo. He recalled the early speculation: Perhaps it was
caused by a surge of death in the absence of effective treatment. Or maybe
the exodus of young, well-educated people to other countries explained the
But several studies show that shifts in sexual behavior drove the HIV
decline in Zimbabwe. This finding echoes the changes experienced in Uganda
during the early 1990s, when its rate of new infections fell sharply.
"That behavior is changing significantly is clear," Gomo said from Blantyre,
Malawi, where he recently joined the medical school faculty at the
University of Malawi. "The question is: What has caused that change?"
Inflation and Fear
With unemployment estimated at 80 percent, trading sex for money remains an
appealing choice for some women, said Tsitsi, a sassy 23-year-old wearing
designer jeans and a red, scooped-neck top. She spoke about personal matters
on the condition that her last name not be used.
A 40-year-old businessman pays Tsitsi about $75 a month to be his
girlfriend. She said the man also takes her out to dinner and buys groceries
for her parents.
Tsitsi said that, though she is not in love, she regards the relationship as
better than many marriages. The man agrees to use condoms, and there is no
possibility of betrayal if she does not expect sexual fidelity, she said.
"He's like an ATM," Tsitsi said. "You just go and punch money and it comes
Several of her friends have similar relationships, she said, but they are
becoming harder to find and maintain. When a man gets low on cash, Tsitsi
said, "he'll just take care of his wife."
Pastor Elliot Mandaza of New Life Covenant Church in Harare has noticed a
similar trend. As the capital's night spots have closed -- the church uses a
former cinema for Bible classes -- pews have filled with financially
troubled newcomers seeking divine solace. Few of these men can afford
several sex partners.
"That's by and large now the preserve of the wealthy. You have a 'small
house' if you have the money," Mandaza said. "It's hard enough to look after
Business is down as well in bars and liquor stores in the dense bedroom
community of Chitungwiza, 15 miles south of Harare. Weeknights are
especially slow as customers hoard money for the weekend. Every time prices
jump, the crowds dwindle again. A brewery truck that once arrived twice a
week has stopped coming; bottles now arrive by wheelbarrow because bar
owners keep stocks low to hedge against inflation.
The changes are not only economic. Most Zimbabweans have watched a family
member or a close friend wither away before their eyes. And unlike
Zimbabwe's neighbors, which have used international funding to create
increasingly extensive treatment programs, AIDS means almost certain death
Brighton Ndlovu, 35, a trader in computer hardware who wore a dapper black
suit on a recent visit to a popular Chitungwiza pub, has lost three brothers
to AIDS. Each one got thin, lost his hair and sweated his way through
terrible fevers, he recalled.
Ndlovu said he uses condoms faithfully, and he made several changes likely
to reduce his risk of infection: He avoids prostitutes, cut back on
girlfriends and broke up with a "small house" woman whose living expenses he
Driving those decisions was a combination of financial stress and fear of
"I know the consequences," he said.
This potent combination has changed business calculations as well. Frank
Muhamba, 64, who owns the building that houses Ghetto Blues nightclub in
Chitungwiza, said the club no longer employs a night shift of cleaning women
who double as prostitutes. Muhamba said that contributing to the death of
customers was wrong, and bad for the bottom line, too.
"Before, we could go to a bar," he recalled, "and we'd find 10 women wanting
Now, Muhamba said, "We will go home without talking to any of those girls. .
. . They will kill us."
July 6, 2007
Edward Osborn states that the Lancaster House constitution enshrined the
rights of pensioners both in and out of Zimbabwe ("Don't forget pensions in
sorting out Zimbabwe", July 4).
I recently watched a BBC2 documentary on the events that led to Zimbabwe's
independence, hosted by David Dimbleby and produced circa 1982.
There were interviews with all stakeholders (lovely word that) and a member
of President Robert Mugabe's group openly admitted that they had agreed to
Lancaster House terms, some of which they had no intention of honouring.
This does not bode well for anyone doing business in Africa.
Tony Ball Durban
Globe and Mail, Canada
July 13, 2007
OTTAWA -- Robert Mugabe's Zimbabwe is officially a socialist state,
predictably complete with a Politburo and worthless money. (Currency traders
will now quote only the black market rate of exchange: 300,000 Zimbabwean
dollars for one U.S. dollar, a depreciation of 30 per cent in the past week
alone.) Zimbabwe is a classic morality play, made hypnotic by its tragic
ending. We are watching the final act, in which state coercion (wage and
price controls, enforced by soldiers) reinforces state corruption. Tens of
thousands of people are hungry; tens of thousands of people have fled the
country. Without a change in this script, the final curtain appears
imminent - and awful.
To end inflation, Mr. Mugabe last month summarily ordered all merchants and
manufacturers to return prices to the level of June 18. In the edited and
abridged letter printed below, a Zimbabwean opposition leader and
businessman named Eddie Cross (a descendant of an Irish missionary from
Belfast) describes how this reform has been implemented - and what it means
for Zimbabwe (all currency in Zimbabwean dollars): "About two weeks ago
[June 21], Mr. Mugabe made a speech at the funeral of a general who died
under mysterious circumstance. In it, he attacked the private sector for
raising prices. He threatened everyone, saying that if they did not come
into line with the Party, they would be taken over.
"Since then, a shadowy organization known as the 'Joint Operational Command'
has taken up the call. Last week, it summoned all business leaders to a
meeting and instructed them to roll back their prices to the level they were
on June 18. The meeting was held with the Commanders of the Army, Police,
Air Force and Prison Service. Since then, all major retailers and
wholesalers, as well as the majority of manufacturers, have reduced their
prices to the June 18 level.
"Last weekend, smaller retailers were attacked. One by one, they were
approached by small groups of officials, police and militia. The messages
were confused and varied from store to store. Some said that the retailers
had to reduce prices on a limited range of 18 items. Some instructed them to
roll back all their prices to the June 18 level. Some were ordered to cut
prices by 50 per cent.
"No opposition or arguments were tolerated. If the retailers resisted, they
were arrested and taken to police stations. In other cases, stores that were
closed had their doors smashed open and the public invited to buy goods at
the reduced prices. Many businesses were faced with near riots as people
scrambled for goods.
"Then the authorities started on the fuel stations. Systematically, all
stations were visited. If they had stocks, they were told to sell at $60,000
a litre or else. One station operator in Bulawayo lost $3.4-billion in 12
hours on the sale of 47,000 litres of fuel (for which he had paid $132,000 a
"Today [July 5] there are long queues at all the filling stations that still
have stocks. I think that, by Monday [July 9], there will be no fuel at all
in the city, probably in the whole country. Worse still, the fuel importers
have stopped imports. [Black market gas prices as high as $700,000 a litre
have been reported this past week.]
"The butchers were told to sell meat at $90,000 a kilogram or, in some
cases, at $120,000 a kilogram. The stores quickly sold out and closed.
Today, there is no butcher store open in the entire city. Bakers are doing
the same thing.
"They were ordered to sell bread for $22,000 a loaf. But they have stopped
buying raw materials and bakeries are closing down across the country.
"Maize meal, the national staple food, has disappeared from the stores. The
price of potatoes has doubled again. The controlled price for rice is half
its actual cost and rice supplies will run out by next week. The
supermarkets can't restock, either because they cannot buy at the controlled
prices or the products are simply not available at any price. All of our
basic foods will start to run out next week.
"This morning, we watched a police raid on a small 'Spaza' store, run by a
single woman with a teenage son. A seven-ton truck arrived with four police
officers, who collected all of her stock and loaded it onto the truck. The
woman was ordered to appear in court at 14:00 hours. In court, she was
harangued and fined $40,000. Her goods were off-loaded into a large
warehouse which was full of confiscated goods."
Mr. Cross predicts "an economic crisis" of staggering proportions in
You can follow his first-hand reports at his website:
The Herald (Harare) Published by the government of Zimbabwe
13 July 2007
Posted to the web 13 July 2007
THE Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe has contracted several local companies to
manufacture 700 000 ox-drawn farming implements for distribution to the
country's farmers in preparation for the next farming season.
The farmers would be expected to pay a nominal fee for the implements
The implements include a consignment of 100 000 ploughs, harrows, scotch
carts, knapsacks, cultivators and 200 000 chains.
By July 10, 86 000 of the implements had been delivered while the remaining
614 000 were at various stages of manufacture.
RBZ Governor Dr Gideon Gono announced the massive farming project when he
addressed members of the Chiefs' Council in Harare on Tuesday.
Dr Gono also announced that five agricultural training institutions -
Chibero, Gwebi, Institute of Agricultural Engineering Training Centre, Mlezu
and Esigodini colleges - had been identified to train beneficiaries of the
All the implements should have been delivered by the end of September by
which time all the beneficiaries were also expected to have received the
implements. Recently the central bank, together with Ministry of
Agricultural Engineering and Mechanisation teams, went on a tour to assess
the manufacture of the implements.
In separate presentations to the assessment team, the companies detailed a
number of issues hampering the speedy delivery of the implements, chief
among them the shortage of items such as tyres, rims for scotch carts, sheet
metal, and Zesa power cuts.
Dr Gono told the chiefs that the central bank would in future consider
contracting the manufacture of farming implements to rural-based smiths.
The manufacture of the ox-drawn implements follows the distribution to
farmers of mechanised implements that included tractors and combine
harvesters last month.
President Mugabe launched the programme, which also saw leading opposition
MDC figures benefiting.
Since Zimbabwe's economy is agro-based, equipping farmers with the requisite
farming tools would greatly boost the economy.
The Herald (Harare) Published by the government of Zimbabwe
13 July 2007
Posted to the web 13 July 2007
THE Chinhoyi farmer who destroyed 40 hectares of 30-centimetre-high wheat
last month has justified his act, saying it was a reasonable decision under
Mr Doug Taylor-Freeme of R/E Romsey Farm yesterday said he wanted to prepare
the land for another crop as the wheat was a write-off due to poor
irrigation caused by constant power cuts.
"I informed the Reserve Bank that had funded the wheat crop and political
leaders in Mashonaland West that I wanted to do away with 40 hectares of the
wheat crop so that I could only be left with a manageable 210 hectares.
"Our local (Zesa power) transformer had been destroyed by fire in May and
continuous power cuts contributed extensively to the wilting of the wheat
crop as we could not properly manage our irrigation scheme.
"I then ploughed down the crop so that I could quickly prepare the land for
another crop. The wheat had already failed so I had to take irrigation pipes
and use the little water I was getting for 210 hectares and the crop is
doing very well," said Mr Taylor-Freeme.
He said he wanted to quickly apply lime so that the potential of hydrogen
(pH) of the soil improves when he plants another crop.
He said he assisted Zesa repair the transformer when he engaged a friend to
hire transport to ferry a replacement transformer that was in Mutorashanga.
"When we finally brought the transformer, Zesa took two weeks to install it
while my crop was wilting. My wheat was on 250 hectares of land. We use
power for irrigation and that has to be done after every nine days while we
had to stretch for 27 days before watering the crop.
"If I had continued with 27-day intervals, then the whole crop could have
been affected so I had to do away with 40 hectares. I had to take the
irrigation pipes to help irrigate the 210 hectares left so that we get wheat
to feed the nation," he said.
Mr Taylor-Freeme said he did not know that Chief Nemakonde had been
allocated his farm as he had not received any communication to that effect.
Makonde Member of the House of Assembly Cde Leo Mugabe said the farm had not
been allocated to Chief Nemakonde.
"The farm has not been allocated to anyone and Mr Taylor-Freeme is doing
well as he produces wheat and other crops to feed the nation and he fends
for a lot of families as he employs more than 200 workers.
"We want to deal with the land issue once and for all in Makonde so that
there are no stories coming up that there were people going to lose farms
"Mr Taylor-Freeme's farm is of great benefit to the nation," Cde Mugabe
Mr Taylor-Freeme is alleged to have destroyed 40 hectares of wheat crop
after receiving communication that his farm had been listed to resettle
The Herald (Harare) Published by the government of Zimbabwe
13 July 2007
Posted to the web 13 July 2007
Three Zesa Holdings substations were gutted by fire in Highfield at various
intervals in the last three weeks, plunging parts of the suburb into
The affected areas include Engineering, Canaan, Jerusalem and Egypt.
Residents who spoke to The Herald said the sub-stations blew up one after
the other, forcing the residents to suspect politically motivated sabotage.
"The sub-station in Engineering blew up three weeks ago, followed by the one
in Jerusalem a week later. Last Sunday a substation in Egypt also went up in
"We are not aware of the problem behind all this, but we strongly suspect
some acts of sabotage which are politically motivated," said Mr John Makura
He added that they were spending more than $200 000 a day on firewood for
cooking, boiling bath water and keeping themselves warm given the freezing
"We are being ripped off by vendors who are overcharging us for firewood.
Thieves are also taking advantage of the situation and breaking into our
homes in the darkness," added Mr Makura.
Mrs Angeline Muzambi of Engineering urged the power utility to deploy
security personnel at the sub-stations to keep acts of sabotage or vandalism
to a minimum.
The residents also expressed concern at the delays by Zesa in restoring
"Zesa workers came and removed the charred remains of the sub-station two
weeks ago. We have not seen them since then.
"They should not just sit in their offices and give us assurances that
everything will be fine without evidence of progress on the ground," said
Residents who live close to the two sub-stations in Jerusalem and Egypt said
the equipment could have been vandalised as they were situated far away from
roads used by vendors.
In a statement yesterday, Zesa Holdings, however, maintained that the
sub-stations were gutted by fire caused by vandalism and undue care by
vendors in the area operating near the sub-stations.
"Zesa engineers are working round the clock to restore electricity in the
area," read part of the statement.
The power utility also advised its customers that it had extended load
shedding from the beginning of this week due to generation-related problems
at Hwange Power Station and would depart from the normal load-shedding
Last month, Zesa spokesperson Mr Fullard Gwasira said several people were
arrested in 35 separate cases of vandalism.
In January this year, 2 000 households in Harare were plunged into darkness
after about 80 transformers were destroyed following a spate of vandalism
The Herald (Harare) Published by the government of Zimbabwe
13 July 2007
Posted to the web 13 July 2007
POLICE in Harare intensified the clampdown on transport operators yesterday,
impounding 51 more commuter omnibuses and arresting their drivers for
This brings to 100 the number of commuter omnibuses impounded since the
operation began on Wednesday.
The Government has gazetted fares and operators are required to charge $10
000 for journeys under 10 kilometres, $15 000 for distances of between
10,1km and 20km and $20 000 for up to 30km.
Police spokesperson Chief Superintendent Oliver Mandipaka said most of the
impounded vehicles ply the Southerton, Mbare, Highfield, Mufakose, Glen
Norah and Glen View routes.
"We have impounded 51 more kombis and arrested their drivers for
overcharging and the total number of impounded buses is now 100.
"The operators are committing the offence in protest at the fares stipulated
by the Government and their general argument is that they were buying fuel
from the black market.
"That, of course, is not a defence as we are working round-the-clock to curb
the black market. The black market should not thrive at all.
"Fuel should be bought from service stations at the pump price stipulated by
the Government," said Chief Supt Mandipaka.
He said transport problems and inconvenience caused during the operation
were meant to restore order and affordability.
"Inconveniences faced now are calculated at creating convenience and people
should not cry foul.
"Commuters are the ones who complain about the unlawful hiking of fares and
they should not stop us from dealing with such culprits. We are not going
back on the exercise and we will not be deterred from dealing with
those operators," he said.
Meanwhile, OK Zimbabwe chief executive Willard Zireva and Mbare branch
manager James Peter Sayenda, accused of failing to comply with a Government
order to reduce prices, yesterday appeared in court for flouting the pricing
The two, who were arrested on Tuesday and detained at Marlborough Police
Station, were released on Wednesday following negotiations between police
and their lawyers.
Zireva and Sayenda, who are charged both in their representative capacities
and as individuals, were not asked to plead when they appeared before Harare
magistrate Mr Tapuwa Godzi.
They were remanded out of custody to July 18 when their lawyers Mr Denford
Halimani and Mr Edward Manikai are expected to challenge their placement on
Harare area public prosecutor Mr Tawanda Zvekare represented the State.
The lawyers said they would apply for their clients' refusal of remand next
week and undertook to file the papers today or on Monday.
"We are agreeable to have the matter remanded to next week for convenience's
sake and we will be making our submissions in writing tomorrow (today),"
said Mr Manikai.
"Our consent to the remand does not mean we have agreed that an offence was
committed and this whole matter is fatally defective," said Mr Manikai.
Zireva and Sayenda and their company are being charged with two counts of
failing to comply with the Government directive to freeze prices at June 18
Charges against OK Zimbabwe and the two arose on Monday this week when the
price control crack team, comprising police officers and price inspectors
from the Ministry of Industry and International Trade, visited their Mbare
Upon arrival, the officials discovered that the supermarket had defied the
This led to the arrest of the two officials.
The team found that 250g of Omo washing powder was being sold for $263 000
instead of the approved $127 500, while a 1kg bar of Key laundry soap was
being sold for $268 000 instead of $132 000.
It is also the State's case that a 125g tablet of Jade bath soap was priced
at $78 000 instead of $40 200.
The 2007 Victoria Falls Marathon is to be held on 26 AUGUST 2007 . A full
marathon , fun run and a half are on offer , with great waterpoints , t
shirts , medals etc and a fantastic " after party " on the river . The
first event last year was a great success , with over 250 runners - this
year will be bigger and better .
This is one of the best race routes ever - over the bridge between Zimbabwe
and Zambia , along the Zambezi and into the Zambezi National Park - with a
good chance of seeing some game - as well as into the festive high density
suburb of Chinotimba . Where else can you run in a National Park and a World
Heritage site ??
Full IAAF approved race , with top waterpoints , security etc .
Full packages , well as self drive or entry only packages are available from
the organisers below .
Wild Frontiers (Pty) Ltd - The Africa Travel Specialist
P O Box 844, Halfway House, 1685, SA
Skype User Name: WILDFRONTIERSJOHNADDISON
Tel: +27-11 702 2035
Fax (SA residents only): +27 86 689 6759
Alternative Fax (Intl and SA): +27-11 468 1655
Websites: www.wildfrontiers.com www.kilimanjaromarathon.com
Members of SATOA & SATSA / AUTO / TATO
GSA for Peregrine Adventures & Gecko's Adventures
E. & O.E. (c) Copyright WILD FRONTIERS 2007