The presidency has refused to be drawn into the latest
round of speculation about a political exit plan for the Zimbabwean head of
state, Robert Mugabe.
Rapport newspaper reported on Sunday that President
Thabo Mbeki gave American President George Bush assurances during his visit
to South Africa last week that Mugabe would be out of office by
The report was based on an article in the Zimbabwean newspaper,
the Independent, and supported by "diplomatic sources" and the
opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC).
"All we can say is
that Zimbabweans are searching for solutions and that we will do whatever we
can to assist", said presidential spokesperson Bheki Khumalo.
president (Mbeki) has indicated that he will encourage all efforts
by Zimbabweans for a peaceful solution. But that is all we can say. We
don't want to be drawn into speculation (about Mugabe's exit)."
his visit, Bush endorsed the need for a solution in Zimbabwe to be brokered
by Zimbabweans and shied away from showing his differences with South Africa
over Mugabe in public.
But in Botswana, Bush said: "It's a shame that the
(Zimbabwean) economy has gotten so weak and soft and that the weakness in the
economy is directly attributable to bad governance."
Rapport, "sources close to the Bush-Mbeki discussions" said the two talked
about a reconstruction package and the possibility of fresh elections for
Zimbabwe by mid-2004.
Diplomatic sources in South Africa had previously
indicated that Mbeki had briefed them on an exit plan for Mugabe after his
return from a visit to Zimbabwe in May with other African
Earlier this year Mbeki also hinted in parliament that a
solution to the Zimbabwe crisis would be found before the end of the
MDC spokesperson Paul Temba Nyathi told Independent Newspapers on
Sunday that he did not confirm the exit plan, but merely stated that "those
rumours have been going around for some time, but we don't know if there is
any substance to them".
Nyathi confirmed that last week his party and
an American delegation discussed the "restoration of democracy in
"The Americans have not changed their mind (on the need for
Mugabe to go) and the pressure is now on Mbeki to deliver on his promises to
Bush and to Zimbabweans," he said.
These promises, he claimed, were
that "the South African government was committed to a solution in
Mbeki said at a joint press conference with Bush that the MDC
and Zanu-PF were engaged in talks. This drew an angry response from MDC
leader Morgan Tsvangirai, who called the statement "false and
"We expect Mbeki to send an envoy to Zimbabwe sooner rather
than later to get those talks off the ground," Nyathi said.
a momentum created by the Bush visit and a need to follow it up with
.. Mugabe was elected this weekend as one of five
deputy chairpersons of the African Union (AU), causing a stir among South
African opposition parties.
The New National Party said this was "a
serious setback for the credibility" of the AU.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------- ---- AFRICAN
dictators who destroy their countries and kill their people with impunity
are, generally, either killed by their own people, or at least by shadowy
forces related to them, or end up in comfortable exile in
another country. Ironically, those who flee the wrath of their people are
allowed to do so because of the very scale of their wrongdoing. Their
physical removal from the country becomes pivotal for change.
Taylor, president of war-torn Liberia since 1997, is the latest member of
this rather dubious club. As well as wreaking havoc and civil war in his own
country, Taylor has actively fomented instability in his neighbours: Sierra
Leone and Guinea and even Côte d'Ivoire. Liberia's problems have kept
regional peacekeeping forces busy for years.
Taylor, recently indicted of
war crimes committed in Sierra Leone, has offered to step down to allow a
solution to be found to Liberia's problems. His offer is considered a
necessary but not sufficient factor in restoring order. Thus Nigerian
President Olusegun Obasanjo has offered him asylum, a move not popularly
supported by Nigerians themselves.
Obasanjo, at the African Union (AU)
summit in Maputo last week, appealed to the world not to "harass" him over
the matter. He said the offer was made on humanitarian grounds for the
benefit of Liberia's people. He likened it to removing a "lion" from a "china
shop" to prevent the destruction of the china.
Taylor has so far
escaped retribution at the hands of his own people, a favour not accorded his
predecessor, Samuel Doe, who was tortured, mutilated and killed by Taylor's
one-time supporter Yormie Johnson.
The asylum offer will disappoint
Liberians, and other West Africans who want justice done. Taylor has ruined
thousands of people's lives and played a leading role in the virtual
destruction of several countries. And he will probably get away with
African despots in exile have done well out of it. Take Idi Amin, who
is accused of killing about 300000 people during his rule of Uganda. He
lives in allexpenses-paid luxury in a villa on the Red Sea, courtesy of
Saudi Arabia. Ethiopia's former leader Mengistu Haile Mariam, who killed tens
of thousands of people opposed to his military Marxist regime in the 1970s,
has been living in Zimbabwe since he fled Addis Ababa in 1991. President
Robert Mugabe offered Mengistu refuge as a result of the latter's help
during Zimbabwe's liberation struggle.
Mugabe has protected Mengistu
from Ethiopia's attempts to have him extradited to face war crimes levelled
against him in absentia.
So, he lives an easy life in Harare, guarded by
Mugabe, whose agrarian policies and political manipulation of food and land
have a distinctly familiar pattern to what Mengistu perpetrated against his
Last week, while west Africa was gearing up to send troops
into Liberia, Mugabe was at the AU discussing Liberia's problems.
Conveniently his own problems were kept off the agenda. The AU does not deem
Zimbabwe to be in conflict, let alone at war.
Taylor is the elected
leader of Liberia and his presidential term only expires next year. His offer
to step down was made under pressure from the region.
So what makes
his situation different from that of Mugabe, whose sovereignty is defended on
the basis that he is an elected leader? Is it the military strength of
Liberia's opposition? Or the fact Taylor's agenda of instability is
transnational? Or simply the fact that his neighbours agree that he is
a problem and are prepared to act against him?
Mugabe may end up
seeing out his days in one of his Zimbabwe mansions. However, if he had to go
into exile, his choice might well be Britain, where his fortune is said to be
stashed and where his favourite shops are.
Games is director of Africa@Work, a conferencing and publishing
company focusing on Africa.
Zimbabwe braced for at least a 500% increase in the price of maize meal as
the government appears to have given up enforcing its price freeze on key
Maize meal was set to rise from about Z100/kg the fixed
government price to Z630/kg, milling company executives said at the
Increases in the past have led to food riots, which pushed the
government to impose price controls buttressed by subsidies.
state-run Grain Marketing Board, which has a monopoly on grain
sales, announced earlier this month massive increases in the price of
cereals. The price of maize rose from Z9600 /ton to Z211756 on July 3.
Similar increases in wheat prices led to a fourfold increase in the price of
bread last week.
The official currency exchange rate is Z824/1 , but
trading on the black market is as much as Z2700/1.
suffering its worst grain shortages since independence in 1980.
inflation has soared to more than 300% and a black market where inflation is
as high as 600% is thriving.
The United Nations' World Food Programme
estimates shortages will leave 5,5-million out of about 12-million
Zimbabweans in need of food this year.
Maputo - European Union (EU) development aid to Africa running
into hundreds of millions of euros has been frozen because African countries
are insisting that Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe is allowed to attend
meetings between Europe and Africa.
A meeting to try and solve the
problem was held at the African Union's leaders meeting in Maputo on Friday,
but the matter was not resolved.
The discussions followed the stance
taken by African countries in April this year to refuse to attend a
Euro-African meeting in Lisbon if Mugabe wasn't allowed to
Mugabe is forbidden to travel to Europe in accordance with EU
sanctions, but African leaders said Europe couldn't dictate who should attend
Senator Alfredo Mantica, the Italian deputy minister of foreign
affairs and leader of the EU delegation, says the Euro-Africa meeting, where
the implementation of development plans would have been discussed,
still couldn't take place.
"The reasons for the suspension of
political ties have still not been resolved."
He said though, that the
two parties had decided to have talks on an informal level so that assistance
for some matters, such as peace operations in Africa, could be made
Africa is exploring all avenues to get financial support from
Europe for peace operations in war-torn Burundi.
An AU commission
official involved in the process says the failed Lisbon meeting followed on
the first Europe-Africa meeting held in Cairo, Egypt, two years
An eight-point plan for co-operation between Europe and Africa was
drawn up and it included assistance for the fight against Aids, food
supplies, Africa's debt and support for peace operations in
The official says there's about €200m available for peace
operations, of which €10m is already available.
Development aid of
several more million euros for, amongst others HIV/Aids, can become available
if the deadlock is resolved.
At Friday's meeting in Maputo, the EU was
represented by Mantica, because Italy now has the presidency of the EU, a
representative of Ireland, who takes over the chair next, and a commission
Africa was represented by South Africa, Mozambique and an
AU commission member.
A senior South African official says African
countries didn't have high hopes of the Euro-Africa meeting, because the
implementation of European development aid is "always very
He said the money promised at the Cairo meeting was in any case
"a re-channelling of money already promised to Africa at bilateral level or
at other regional forums".
Union's new ambassador for Southern Africa is Zimbabwean President Robert
The AU summit held in Mozambique at the weekend provided an
opportunity for Africa to show a commitment to its noble ideals.
it ended on an anticlimax, some observed, with no discussion on the political
situation in strife-torn Zimbabwe.
While some opposition politicians were
"galled" by the election of Mugabe as one of the AU's five vice-chairpersons,
others declared themselves to be "content".
Part of what Mugabe is
expected to do is promote the ideals for which the AU stands and raise funds
for some of the AU's projects.
As head of a teetering government, Mugabe
saw his election as a personal honour and a snub to those hostile to him "who
think that Zimbabwe is being isolated".
"There is greater admiration
now for Zimbabwe than there ever was, and we are very happy about that,"
Mugabe told Zimbabwean state television on his return on Saturday from
Mugabe - slapped with a travel ban and targeted sanctions by the
European Union; a man whose country is suspended from the Commonwealth; and
who is in charge of an economy on a downward spiral - described his election
as a vote of confidence.
But his enthusiasm was not shared by
Zimbabwe's opposition Movement for Democratic Change spokesperson
Paul Temba Nyathi said that the African "union of dictatorships" (the AU) was
sending the wrong signals to Mugabe and "betraying the sentiments of
The Democratic Alliance spokesperson on Africa, Graham
McIntosh, described Mugabe as a "political thug" not worthy of holding the
office to which he was elected.
"The African Union appears to have a
seriously schizophrenic personality," he said.
"How else can it live
with contradictions that are so glaring that they seriously discredit the
McIntosh said the leadership of President
Thabo Mbeki as first AU chairperson had taken the body some way into the
future, but the election of Mugabe as a regional representative now stood to
destroy all the gains made so far.
"The African Union's aims and
objectives stand in stark contrast to clownish statements on Aids and the
tsetse fly made by Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, and the election of a
political thug like Robert Mugabe as a deputy chairperson," said
Dr Boy Geldenhuys, the New National Party's spokesperson on
foreign affairs, said the election of Mugabe was a serious setback for the
He said action should be taken against Mugabe in terms
of of the AU Act because his actions were in breach of the AU's
Bheki Khumalo, spokesperson for Mbeki, said there was nothing
wrong with Mugabe being elected to the AU position he now holds.
is entitled to be elected to serve his 12-month term. Leaders
rotate positions not only in the AU, but in the European Union as well,"
United Democratic Movement leader Bantu Holomisa said it
was wrong to question the integrity of African leaders who had seen fit to
elect Mugabe to his new position.
Struggle continues for united, peaceful, prosperous
Africa July 14, 2003
By Lynda Loxton
admit to an overwhelming sense of déjˆ vu when reading reports from Maputo
over the last week on the second African Union (AU) summit.
Although sorely tempted to say, "been there, done that", I hope the great
African vision of building a strong, economically vibrant and
peaceful continent does get realised this time around.
the 1980s, I joined many other South Africans in fleeing the horrors of
apartheid. I chose to go to newly independent Zimbabwe and was soon getting
to know all about the Southern African Development Conference and the
Preferential Trade Area for Eastern and Southern Africa (PTA), as both were
known then before they evolved into economic communities and became the
Southern African Development Community (SADC) and the Common Market for
Eastern and Southern Africa (Comesa) respectively.
were exciting concepts for the time, focusing on getting disparate economies,
levels of development and peoples throughout Africa to work together to
harmonise their industrial, commercial, transport, agricultural and financial
policies based on comparative advantage.
So instead of all pulling
in opposite directions, the aim was to add value to the wealth that Africa
had, form strong trading blocs that could strike fair deals on world markets
and spread wealth and development more evenly.
As should be
obvious to all, not much - or, rather, not enough - progress has been made.
The AU and all its proposed organs - the peace and security council, the
African central bank, the pan-African parliament and African monetary union -
are all modern-day versions of what was on the table in the 1980s, if not
One major reason for the lack of progress has undoubtedly
been South Africa itself. Until apartheid was dismantled, there could be no
meaningful progress as long as Pretoria had a different agenda.
Now it no longer seeks to destabilise, but to unite. It has the international
political credibility to sell the idea.
It has played a major role
in getting the AU and the New Partnership for Africa's Development on the
road. But will we see high expectations being realised this time
Another reason has been the very different agendas of
the international donor community . In the past it was very much a
case of divide and rule.
The European Union, for example, threw its
weight behind the smaller and more malleable SADC, while the US preferred the
UN-based drive through the Economic Commission for Africa to set up larger
regional trading blocs such as the PTA.
Tensions about "turf"
were inevitable between the staff of the different groups, while their
sometimes conflicting agendas slowed progress.
Will the AU get rid
of these turf wars and get everyone around the same table for the long-haul
task of development?
The debt crisis, commodity price slumps and
growing protectionism of those times also did not help smooth the road to
integration and development.
Today, some of the old problems
that held up progress are still around, albeit in different guises. Civil
wars in Mozambique and Angola have wound down but others have sprung up,
fuelled by power-hungry war lords, tribal factionalism or religious
Poverty is still with us and HIV/Aids is killing off
young people at an alarming rate.
Getting from one part of
Africa to another sometimes still involves lengthy air trips via Europe;
railway line gauges are not always compatible, making the overland movement
of goods difficult; there is no trans-African super highways or standardised
cross-border and customs procedures to ease the flow of traffic; there are no
meaningful intercountry industrial or beneficiation programmes; countless
almost worthless currencies abound, although the US dollar dominates most
commercial deals; skills levels are patchy and Africa still cannot feed
itself without outside help.
Dealing with these issues were some of
the challenges set in the 1980s. Doing so remains as desirable now as it was
The Maputo meetings hopefully signal a fresh willingness and
political will to tackle those challenges, and one can only hope we see the
results of this someday soon.
Realistically, however, one only
has to examine the ongoing trade and other squabbles in the much older
European Union, and between it and the US, to realise that it won't be easy
at all, although the benefits of making some headway will be
Mugabe 'blocked EU plan for peace force' By Alex
Duval Smith in Maputo 15 July 2003
President Robert Mugabe's
regime has once again sabotaged attempts to mend relations between Europe and
Africa by snubbing a high-level European Commission delegation at the African
Union (AU) summit in Maputo.
The European Commission president, Romano
Prodi, had arrived at the weekend summit intending to offer a European
funding package worth €250m (£170m) for a standing African peace-keeping
force, an AU initiative aimed at proving the virtue of "African solutions to
African problems". But a despondent Mr Prodi admitted to The Independent that
he had watered down the offer because "we face a wall in any contacts, and
that wall is Zimbabwe".
Mr Prodi said his attempts to revive the biennial
Europe-Africa summit, due to take place in Lisbon in April but cancelled
because of EU resistance to inviting the Zimbabwean leader, had fallen
Asked what it would take for the EU to consider inviting African
leaders again - Mr Mugabe's resignation or mere conciliation talks between
the Zimbabwean regime and the country's opposition - Mr Prodi said at the end
of the summit: "Lots of ideas are flying around but at the moment we
are getting nowhere. On the issue of money for the standing African force,
we had a proposal, but for the moment we are just saying we will look
at funding if and when a force is created."
The setback in AU-EU
relations is a blow to Nepad, the New Partnership for African Development,
which was backed by the G8 meeting in Evian last month. The AU is the body
through which the Nepad development plan for Africa is supposed to be
Bias claim in Zimbabwe trial Monday, July 14, 2003 Posted: 7:54 AM
EDT (1154 GMT)
JOHANNESBURG, South Africa (Reuters) -- Defense
lawyers in the treason trial of Zimbabwean opposition leader Morgan
Tsvangirai have asked the High Court to dismiss the case against him, saying
the state's main witnesses were biased.
Tsvangirai and two top members
of his Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) could face the death sentence if
convicted on charges stemming from an alleged plot to assassinate President
Robert Mugabe last year.
All three have pleaded not guilty.
state's case against them hinges on a grainy, partly inaudible videotape of a
meeting in Montreal between Tsvangirai and Canadian-based
political consultant Ari Ben-Menashe in which the prosecution alleges
Mugabe's "elimination" was discussed.
Ben-Menashe has admitted he
taped the meeting using surveillance cameras solely to get evidence for the
government -- with which he consequently signed a political lobbying
contract. But he denies entrapping Tsvangirai.
"Being in the pay of the
state that alleges treason is the most dangerous exercise," defense lawyer
George Bizos said. "The conviction of treason would be very convenient to the
The trial was adjourned last week until October but the High
Court sat on Monday to hear Bizos's request to dismiss the case.
said Ben-Menashe had been unable to explain why there was no direct evidence
on the tapes that Tsvangirai was plotting to overthrow Mugabe.
it, that if Menashe is telling the truth, that over and over the accused
asked for the murder of President Robert Mugabe, ... [that] those requests
escaped the sound of the audio tape?" he asked the court.
Mugabe, who has
ruled since independence from Britain in 1980, dismisses the MDC as a stooge
of Western governments opposed to his programme to distribute white-owned
farmland among landless blacks, and says Zimbabwe is being undermined by both
domestic and foreign enemies.
The MDC and several Western countries
accuse Mugabe of rigging his re-election in 2002 and blame his misrule for
chronic food and fuel shortages and inflation running at 300 percent -- one
of the highest rates in the world.
HOW low can one sink for the love of money and how much
are you prepared to give up to earn the (British) pound?
As the bug of
'getting rich quicker earning the pound' catches up with many Zimbabweans,
thousands of trained professionals are trading their prestigious jobs for
menial shifts in developed countries, particularly the United
Among them is Gerald Kireso (not his real name), a qualified
lawyer, who left his job with a local firm last year in search of greener
pastures in the UK.
However, the pastures were not that greener as
Kireso found himself having to drive garbage collection trucks instead of a
previous prestigious office job.
Before joining the overseas exodus,
his parents envisaged a brilliant career ahead of him.
dreams have now been shattered.
Kireso cannot practice as a lawyer in the
UK because he does not have a working permit. And when he made the decision
to go to that country he also decided to give up his status and self-respect
as a lawyer.
Yes, back home with the proceeds from UK, Kireso has managed
to build a nice house in the suburb of ZimRe Park, popularly known as
"kumapondo" in reference to the pound.
He has also invested in various
businesses, a price for throwing away self-respect and status.
the past few years Zimbabwe has witnessed an upsurge in the number
of professionals living the country in search of greener
Apart from the UK, the professionals are also heading to United
States and Australia.
Many of these graduates, with the exception of
some nurses, doctors and pharmacists fail to be absorbed in their mainstream
professions because of lack of the required paperwork, hence, they end up
doing menial jobs.
Such odd jobs include ironing clothes, sweeping and
looking after the elderly at old people's homes.
"You have to swallow
your pride and do the menial jobs otherwise living in the UK can be quite a
nightmare for you," said a former teacher who returned recently from
She said some Zimbabweans were regretting leaving their professions
in that country because they were failing to make ends meet in the
"Some of them want to come back but they having nothing to show for
their stay in the UK so they are soldiering on with the hope that they
either build a house or do something of significance back home," she
In the UK, she said, it was common to see former Zimbabwean
teachers and other professionals working as security guards.
at which Zimbabweans and other foreigners have been flocking to UK in recent
years has forced the host country to consider introducing Aids tests for
asylum seekers in a bid to halt the Aids tide.
Statistics made public
recently by the UK government showed that 54 193 people were HIV-positive in
Britain - with the number rising by about 10 percent a year.
report indicated that some hospitals were spending their Aids
budgets treating "imported" nurses. Hospitals officials said a couple
received treatment worth 11 000 pounds a year for the rest of their
However, while the Zimbabwean professionals are playing in greater
role in the development of the UK's economy, the impact of the brain-drain
back home has been far reaching.
Indeed, Zimbabwe is going through its
worst economic difficulties in history and there is no doubt that the brain
drain is compounding the situation.
The exodus is stalling the country's
development because of the huge deficit in manpower that retards economic
The health sector has been the worst affected by the exodus
of qualified staff.
Even the bonding system introduced by the
Government a few years ago has failed to effectively halt the brain
It is a fact that the brain drain in the health sector has
crippled the health delivery service as the remaining personnel is struggling
to cope up with the huge workload. The situation has been compounded by the
shortage of foreign currency to procure medical drugs.
has found itself in a situation whereby it trains personnel for other
President Mugabe last year castigated Britain for "coming at
the dead of the night to steal" nurses, doctors and pharmacists.
have created the environment that allows that upliftment of
"That's why even Britain comes in the dead of the night to steal
our people," he had said. It is estimated that at least 70 000 highly
qualified Africans leave their home countries annually.
With the fast
ageing population, western countries have become increasingly dependent on
migrant workers to fill the void.
A report by the Pollution Research
Group at Natal University in South Africa shows that Africa has lost a third
of its skilled professionals in recent decades and it is costing the
continent $4 billion a year to replace them with expatriates from the
The brain drain, the report says, has strangled growth of the
economy and nurtured poverty in the African countries.
We'll Not Co-Operate With Bush On Zim, Says Commission
Church Information Service
July 14, 2003 Posted to the web July 14,
Rodrick Mukumbira Gaborone
Foreign ministers of Botswana
and Zambia closed the 12th session of Botswana-Zambia Joint Permanent
Commission of Co-operation with a statement saying that there would be no
quick fix solutions to the Zimbabwean crisis.
The commission said as the
meeting ended on June 30, that they would not allow their countries to be
used as a launch pad for countries wanting to effect a regime change in
Their stand came days ahead of United States President
George Bush's visit to southern Africa. There was speculation that Bush would
explain to President Thabo Mbeki, an offer by the United States to finance a
political solution for Zimbabwe.
The ministers indicated they were
fairly optimistic that the Zimbabwean problem would eventually be
According to them, the legitimacy of Zimbabwean President,
Robert Mugabe, was a matter that would be decided by Zimbabwean courts and
not by the superpowers.
When AANA inquired what they would do if the
US and UK decided to remove Mugabe forcibly, Zambian Foreign Minister,
Kalombo Mwansa, said: "We would not co-operate."
The commission agreed
on the need for the two countries to intensify collaboration in animal
disease control, to improve crop production, and to establish a subcommittee
to monitor and control HIV/AIDS.
It was also agreed that it was
imperative for both countries to expedite the Bilateral Road Transport
Agreement, in order to complete construction of the Kazungula Bridge across
Zambezi River, which marks the border between the two countries.
commission, which will hold discussions in Zambia in 2005, is designed to
increase trade volume between the countries.
Tobacco Sales Down 33.4% With a Third of the Season
July 11, 2003 Posted to the web July 14,
Chengetai Chigwida Johannesburg
With a third of the
tobacco selling season past, sales in the period ended July 4 are 33.4% lower
than the comparable period last year and US dollar earnings are down by a
similar proportion, according to figures from the Tobacco Industrial &
Marketing Board (TIMB).
Tobacco sales have fallen to 25.686 mln kg
compared with 38.545 mln kg in the previous corresponding period, amounting
to US$51.71 mln (2002: US$78.85 mln).
The average price eased
slightly to US$2,0130 from US$2,0458. The Zimbabwe dollar value rose to
Z$41.37 bln compared with Z$12.498 bln.
However, exports this year are
expected to be around the same as last year due to a carryover of stock into
the current year.
TIMB Import and Export Controller Andrew Masimbe said:
"Last year alone Zimbabwe managed to export 143.4mln kgs of tobacco and this
year expectations are that the country would be able to export 135 mln kgs,
which at Z$800:US$1 would be around Z$320 bln."
Since the beginning of
this season the three auction floors had exported 45.27 mln kg of tobacco
worth Z$28.48 bln by end of May, a rise of 53% compared to Z$16.6 bln in the
same period last year. The US dollar value, however, eased to US$116.8 mln
from US$184.8 mln.
TIMB Marketing and Information officer Paul Kamba
predicted that between 70-100 mln kgs of tobacco would be sold this
Research carried out by Zfn indicates that there has been a
significant decline in the US dollar value of sales as the average price has
remained almost static on a year earlier at US$2,0130.
noted that as the season progresses, the average should continue to rise to
"We have more of the upper leaf which is of better
quality and fetches more and in turn has a higher price."
MORE than 29 million kilograms of flue cured tobacco
valued at more than US$68.1 million ($54.5 billion) had passed through the
country's three auction floors by close of business on Friday
There was a continued firming of both prices and deliveries
during the week under review.
The average price for a kg of the leaf
was US$2.05, which is a further rise on the US$2.01 offered for a similar
weight last week.
Real prices which farmers are getting for a kilogram of
the gold leaf are by far above the average US$2,03.
The daily seasonal
average price has heavily been pulled down by the low prices, which were on
offer when the season kicked off.
A kilogram of the leaf was fetching
between US$2,35 and US$2,50 compared to the average of US$1,58, which was
being offered when the season kicked off on April 23.
season is still at its peak and both the average prices and the daily
deliveries are expected to continue firming in the next coming
Deliveries were in the region of 900 000 kilograms during the
week under review.
The farmers said while the prices on offer were
good in US$ terms, the returns were slowly being eroded when converted to
"We are not complaining but the prices have not gone up
in both the US$ and Zimbabwe dollar terms.
"There are fears among the
farmers that the price for tobacco may fail to go beyond the US$2,90 per kg,"
said Mr Michael Kajeu, the manager of Mashala farm in Karoi.
added that the farmers were eagerly waiting for Government to review the
"Most farmers are in a dilemma at the moment, as they do
not know whether they should bring their crop to the auction floors or
"Some have decided to hold on to their crop and wait to see if the
exchange rate would be revised any time soon," said Mr Kajeu.
they were delivering quality tobacco which could have fetched as much as
US$3,50 per kg.
"We have the best crop you can get anywhere in the world
but we are worried by the rate at which the crop has been gaining in terms of
"We expect the prices of the gold leaf to correspond with the
quality of the crop," added Mr Kajeu.
He said they had not faced
problems in transporting the commodity to the auction floors because of
arrangements they had made with reliable
Deliveries to the auction floors have increased
substantially over the past selling week with a minimum of 10 000 bales
offered for sales compared to a daily average of 4 000 previously when the
season kicked off.
Increase in deliveries to Tobacco Sales Floors, the
Zimbabwe Industry Tobacco Auction Centre and Burley Marketing Zimbabwe, have
contributed to the increase in daily throughput.
By the second week of
June the deliveries to ZITAC were higher than the same time last year
offering at least 2 000 bales for sale compared to 700 bales resulting in an
increase of their market share.
TSF have 54 percent (64 percent in 2002)
of market share while BMZ and ZITAC have 29 percent (28 percent in 2002) and
17 percent (8 percent in 2002) respectively.
All floors have the
option to extend to two sales (7,000 bales) to clear any backlog of
deliveries for as long as the sales are completed by 1 pm.
There are 36
Class A tobacco buyers who have been licenced to buy tobacco in the country
up from around 28 in the last season.
The increase in the number of
approved buyers stems from the popularity of the country's
Climatic conditions has resulted in the crop having one of the
best texture for blending hence its continued popularity.
remains the single largest foreign currency earner in the country.
year more than US$430 million was realised from tobacco exports representing
35 percent of the country's total exports during the year. This also
represent 12 percent of the country's Gross Domestic Product.