By Peta Thornycroft in Harare
Pensioners were out in force at Zimbabwe's supermarkets on Thursday, which is 10 per cent discount day for shoppers over 65.
At a large store in Harare's northern suburbs, a former farmer's wife shoved a clattering metal trolley across a pot-holed car park.
She had spent more than 20 million Zimbabwe dollars on five small plastic bags of everyday groceries, about £25 on the black market but nearly £200 at the legal rate. She carried her money in a canvas holdall. Inflation is not so much out of control as heading into outer space. President Robert Mugabe's economy started upon its descent when he seized the land of white farmers in 2000.
At each stage of decline those of us that live here think it can't get any worse; but it can, and it does. I was out of the country for eight nights recently and in that time the dollar dropped from 350,000 to the US dollar to 520,000. (The official rate is 100,000 to $1, but the only people able to obtain foreign currency at that rate are those in or close to the government).
A beer drinker watching the World Cup final last weekend said that in 1997 he could have bought two luxury Korean cars for the price of a beer in Harare in July 2006.
The new green 100,000 Zimbabwe dollar note is in short supply. The most available note is the 20,000, and these are held together by rubber bands in two million dollar packs. Ten tied together - enough for five bags of groceries - are the size of a brick.
The supermarket queues are excruciatingly slow. The shop assistants suffer sore hands from all the counting. "It is frightening," said James Kawawa, 27, an assistant. "The tellers have to count over and over, as it is easy to make a mistake. We might take 800 million in a day. Everyone is tired of counting."
Shopping is very different in Chitungwiza, a sprawling, working-class town about 15 miles south-east of Harare. No one uses a trolley; each shopper carries two items at most - one half of a spiced sausage, or four bones.
"It's the middle of the month, so money is gone," an assistant said. "These are hard days. We are suffering."
Sat, 15 Jul 2006
Police are investigating claims that large scale corruption by border
officials is allowing Zimbabweans to stream into South Africa, the SABC
reported on Friday.
The broadcaster said hundreds of illegal immigrants enter South Africa
through Limpopo's Beit Bridge border post daily.
It said Nhlanhla Dube, a Zimbabwean citizen, had told the SABC's office in
Polokwane that he bribed immigration officials from both countries before
entering South Africa.
Dube was arrested after his first attempt to cross on Saturday but he was
back in South Africa on Friday.
An SABC news team found him hitch-hiking outside Musina.
"I told those who are working (at the) border I haven't got nothing but
basic money to pay them to cross the border," Dube said.
"They wanted to me 500 000 Zim dollars. I pay them 500 000 to (cross) the
border," Dube said in broken English.
The Department of Home Affairs has not yet responded to queries, the SABC
Mail and Guardian
††††† Michael Hartnack | Harare, Zimbabwe
††††† 15 July 2006 07:27
††††††††††† Zimbabwe's ruling party is planning a major cleansing exercise
to remove elements who are tarnishing its image with bad behavior, President
Robert Mugabe told leading party members Friday, according to state radio.
††††††††††† "These cases of [members] wanting to enrich themselves are
increasing in number. You are not being fair -- some people are just being
crookish," he was quoted as telling 400 members of his Zimbabwe African
National Union - Patriotic Front central committee.
††††††††††† "Zanu-PF is going to embark on a major cleansing exercise to
remove those elements bent on tarnishing the image of the party by their
wayward behaviour with their private and public lives," he said.
††††††††††† The 82-year-old head of state, in power since independence in
1980, has made similar threats during his 26-year rule but has granted
amnesties in return for pledges of personal loyalty in the past.
††††††††††† Much of the nation is suffering an electricity blackout, lacking
foreign currency to import power from neighbours or keep local generation
plants in full working order.
††††††††††† Zimbabwe's economy has been in free fall since February 2000,
when Mugabe lost a referendum on a new Constitution. Blaming 5 000 white
farmers for orchestrating opposition, he ordered seizure of properties
covering 17% of the country.
††††††††††† Food production, exports and the value of the currency have
crashed, with inflation now over 1 000% and up to four million Zimbabweans
reliant on international food relief.
††††††††††† He accused senior party members of seizing multiple farms under
his "fast track reform" to dispossess whites, but said they had looted
infrastructure without attending to production. A string of recent court
cases have seen new black claimants disputing land and assets left by
††††††††††† Mugabe congratulated United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan
for refusing to act as an intermediary in the Zimbabwean crisis, alleging
his proposed role had been a ploy by the British government to
††††††††††† "We applaud the secretary general for refusing to be a tool of
sinister maneuvers, sinister desires against Zimbabwe," said Mugabe.
††††††††††† Mugabe claims the economic collapse is due to sanctions and
boycotts imposed by Britain, the United States, the European Union and
international financial institutions, in revenge for his farm seizures.
††††††††††† Referring to protests this week by campaigners for urgent
constitutional reform, 200 of whom were arrested in three major urban
centres, Mugabe alleged there were "foreign sponsored lobby groups" aiming
to disturb peace and security.
††††††††††† "Let them take heed of our pre-defined warning that any sinister
design to challenge the authority of the government through any illegal way
will meet the full wrath of the law," he said.
††††††††††† Draconian new security legislation gives police power to ban any
public gathering, while anyone seeking to "coerce the government" faces up
to 20 years in prison.
††††††††††† Five privately owned newspapers have been suppressed since 2002
and Western observers say Mugabe's victories in presidential and
parliamentary elections since June 2000 have been contrived by extensive
rigging and intimidation.
††††††††††† The Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Commission has warned
Zimbabweans there will be extensive power cuts this weekend. Most homes and
offices receive power for only a few hours each day, causing extensive
disruption to work schedules. Sugar, bread and gasoline are already in short
supply among many staples. - Sapa-AP
††††† By a Correspondent
††††† HARARE - THE government of Zimbabwe should give the police more powers
to deal with the impending street protests that are being organised by the
opposition Movement for Democratic Change, the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade
Unions and their allies, President Robert Mugabe has said.
††††† Mugabe yesterday said the police should be given "extra" powers to
deal with the protesters whom he said were being sponsored by foreigners to
destabilise the country.He was addressing his party's Central Committee
meeting at the party's headquarters in Harare.
††††† "Let them take heed of our free advice that any sinister efforts
designed to challenge the authority of Government through any illegal way
will meet the full wrath of our law. Those who will engage in it will
naturally be dealt with," he said to applause from the floor.
††††† "We shall not sit back and allow any group of persons to circumvent
the democratic process and aspire to power through illegitimate and
††††† "Those who seek to run the country must get to the seat of government
by engaging the people through an election. Any other means is rebellious
and shall be treated as such," said Mugabe.
††††† This is not the first time that Mugabe has threatened to ruthlessly
deal with street protests being organised by the opposition MDC. At the
country's 26th birthday celebrations, Mugabe used the occasion to warn the
MDC founding president, Morgan Tsvangirai, that he was dicing with death.
††††† Mugabe's lieutenants like the powerful State Security Minister,
Didymus Mutasa, have also threatened to unleash the country's security
forces on the protesters if they heeded the call by the opposition to go to
††††† The MDC says the streets protests, first said would come as a "winter
of discontent", are meant to put pressure on the Zanu PF government so it
can agree to go to the negotiating table with the opposition and other
stakeholders so the country can be extricated from its political and
††††† Mugabe, whose party has been at the helm of unleashing violence
against opponents since losing the 2000 constitutional referendum, also
spoke about the intra-party violence that has rocked the opposition MDC, in
particular the recent attack on Harare North MP, Trudy Stevenson.
††††† "MDC violence and brutal behaviour is an evil we just have to remove
from our body politic. We can't continue to have it and they must get that
warning. No party that is dedicated to violence should be allowed to exist
in Zimbabwe," he said.
††††† Mugabe said the intra-party violence in the MDC proved his party was
telling the truth when it said it too had endured violence unleashed by the
††††† "It is this violence to which we have always striven to draw the
attention of our detractors and which lies deep and inherent in the MDC," he
††††† "Now our detractors have come face to face with acts of the monster
they sired, raised and pampered, and yet they are either silent or
equivocating about it in their characteristic hypocritical manner.
††††† "Their behaviour is part of the hypocrisy and double standards we have
come to associate with the MDC's European godfathers, so comfortable with
lies," said Mugabe.
††††† On United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan agreeing to support
mediation efforts by former Tanzanian president, Benjamin Mkapa,
††††† Mugabe said:† "He is an African, a secretary general from our
continent. We reminded him that we did not want him to be tarnished and he
added: 'I am also your in-law.' It would have been sad, very sad indeed, if
he had obeyed the bidding of the Blair government on Zimbabwe."
††††† "We have always respected the office of the UN Secretary-General,
which is why we protected it and its African incumbent by blocking a
mission, which would have compromised its integrity," he said.
††††† Mugabe said besides Annan, SADC had also endorsed Mkapa's mediation
role between London and Harare.
††††† "This is our fight with the Blair government, a fight we will not
lose, shall not lose for right is on our side," he said.
††††† In his long speech, Mugabe also threatened to root out corruption
within his party's seniors. He said there was too much profiteering and
selfishness as senior party and government officials sought to make quick
††††† "People want to acquire wealth through self aggrandisement? These
cases are increasing in numbers. Tagarwa neiko? (what's got into us)" he
††††† Many Zimbabweans remain puzzled as to why Mugabe continues to speak
about corruption within his party and government but never seems to take
††††† By a Correspondent
††††† HARARE - The NCA yesterday said it was deeply worried and concerned at
the manner in which the Zimbabwe police continues to detain its members who
were detained after they peacefully demonstrated on Wednesday for a new
people-driven Constitution in the country.
††††† In Harare, 128 people remained detained at Harare Central police
station. The arrested include four women with infants on their backs,
according to the NCA, which has been campaigning for a new constitution
††††† Speaking in the afternoon yesterday, Madock Chivasa, the NCA
spokesperson said: "Only thirty minutes ago, police were still preparing a
docket for the arrested NCA members' case. The police only started preparing
the docket after NCA members refused to pay fines, pointing out that they
are not guilt in any way. We agree with our arrested cadres.† As the NCA we
believe the police should not force them to pay admission of guilt fines as
there is no crime they have committed."
††††† He said to demonstrate for a constitution that can help bring
political, social and economic sanity to our crisis-ridden country is a
noble national cause.
††††† In Mutare 13 more NCA members were arrested Wednesday evening,
bringing those arrested in the eastern border City to 26. Police in Mutare
have not yet formally charged the NCA members despite the fact that they
have already spent two days and two nights in police custody.† The police
have not released the NCA members on the pretext that they are still looking
for more "suspects". "This is a fringe claim," said Chivasa.† "We wonder who
these suspects are and what crime they have committed. If the so-called
suspects are NCA members, then the police are side stepping their real
mandate of facilitating for the respect and upholding of the rights of
††††† In Bulawayo, Zimbabwe's second largest City, five (5) NCA members who
had been arrested were released late last night after police allegedly
coerced them to pay what were called Admission of guilt fines.
††††† "Considering that our members are innocent, we call upon the police to
immediately and unconditionally release them. Or else we will go back to the
streets to press for their release," Chivasa said.
††††† "On a humanitarian note, we call upon the honorable ministers of Home
Affairs and Health to intervene and allow us to provide food and medication
for the arrested. We have failed to do this so far and the lives of our
members are in real danger. One of the members collapsed in cells at Harare
and is currently battling for life at Parirenyatwa hospital."
††††† By Bill Saidi
††††† TRUDY Stephenson, the Harare North MP of the Arthur Mutambara-led
faction of the MDC, was brutally assaulted at the beginning of this month.
††††† The assailants, if all things were politically equal, would have been
easily identified as Zanu PF youths. Unfortunately, the political landscape
in Zimbabwe is as unequal as the election playing field has been for years.
††††† Officially, the youths were identified by the police, no less, as
youths of the Morgan Tsvangirai-led faction of the MDC.
††††† Stephenson's picture, published with undisguised relish by the
government-owned Herald newspaper, was a reminder of such brutal attacks
during the campaign for the 2000 parliamentary elections, quite likely the
most blood-spattered poll campaign since independence.
††††† Last October's split in the MDC, precipitated by a dispute over
whether or not the party should take part in the Senate elections, had
always contained the potential to explode into violence.
††††† The bitterness generated by the rift among previously tight
comrades-in-arms in the crusade against the hegemony of Zanu PF reminded
older journalists of the nastiness which degenerated into violence between
the two camps which emerged after the first split of the Zimbabwe African
People's Union (Zapu) in the 1960s.
††††† What followed were, perhaps, not "rivers of blood" in the African
townships, but violence on such a large scale most people believe the seeds
of an endemic pattern of bloodshed in our politics were sown then.
††††† Still, the eruption of violence in the MDC, highlighted by the alleged
assault on the MP Priscilla Misihaiarabwi-Mushonga, was a little unexpected.
††††† The party had so scrupulously promoted an image of non-violence most
people had tended to attach the label of a latter-Mahatma Gandhi on the
person of Morgan Tsvangirai.
††††† It was not a big surprise that many critics gradually saw the evil
hand of either the Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO) or hired Zanu PF
thugs as the authors of the intra-party violence in the MDC.
††††† There have been arrests in the brutal attack on Ms Stephenson and it
would be wise for all of us, as Nelson Chamisa said, to wait until the law
takes its course.
††††† Stephenson is a founder member of the MDC. She was immortalized as a
campaigner for human rights when she was filmed among mostly black people in
a wild victory dance after the National Constitutional Assembly (NCA) and
its allies defeated Zanu PF in the 1999 constitutional referendum.
††††† The fact that she is the second woman MP to be assaulted by youths
alleged to belong to Tsvangirai's faction is alarming in the extreme.
††††† This monster of violence in the fight for the hearts and minds of MDC
members has to be struck down in its infancy before the factions become
enmeshed in a tangle in which people won't be able to distinguish the
victims from the villains.
††††† Yet political terrorism in Zimbabwe, per se, remains the preserve of
the State, through Zanu PF and its various arms of subterfuge, violence and
††††† For instance, there is now what I prefer to call the terrorism of
semantics. Previously, successive ministers of finance did not hesitate to
describe the parlous state of our economy as a "crisis".
††††† Today, the official word preferred is "challenges".†† Every Zanu PF
politician, from the President down to the branch secretary in Makokoba,
will speak of† "the challenges we are facing".
††††† I have even heard one or two captains of industry, people accustomed
to using plain language in such situations, referring to "the challenges"
the country is facing.
†††††† This is part of the futile exercise in self-delusion which the
government has asked people to join it since it launched its insanely bloody
land reform programme in 2000.
††††† It has become almost a religion, this government terrorism for people
not to be too outspoken about their plight.
††††† In fact, the penalty for being outspoken can be quite high,
particularly among journalists, who are almost routinely being coerced by a
frightened government to tell lies about their country.
††††† Yet, in a very curious way, the truth is being told by people you
would expect to be more circumspect in their handling of this delicate
††††† In choosing people of quite low-profile political backgrounds to
become provincial governors, President Robert Mugabe may have shot himself
in the foot, if not in the mouth too.
††††† Both Ray Kaukonde and Willard Chiwewe possess no political credentials
that could be described as "conventional" or "sensational" in the ordinary
Zanu PF lexicon. True, Kaukonde was provincial chairman of the party in his
bailiwick of Mashonaland East before being elevated to provincial governor.
††††† Recently, he must have embarrassed, not only government administrators
in the province, but even his president, when he said publicly that no
projects had been completed for a whole period, which meant that there could
be no planning for the next period - because none of the previous projects
had been completed.
††††† I am not certain whether the projects were for a two or five-year
period, but there were certainly not for six months.
††††† The implications of this revelation are enormous: an entire government
administrative regime, charged with and paid for charting the development
programme of an entire province, had gone to sleep at the wheel.
††††† In his turf of Masvingo, Governor Chiwewe, after touring an area, said
in future the government ought to be more open in planning how a project was
to be undertaken before pouring money into it.
††††† The implications were, once again, awesome: the origins of an entire
project had not been thought through.
††††† What you were bound to ask yourself was this: is this how the
government is being run? Is this how taxpayers' hard-earned money is being
used, or being frittered away on ill-planned and even unplanned projects?
††††† Later, we were told, in a moment of perhaps unplanned candour, by no
less a person than Vice-President Joice Mujuru, that the Zanu PF provincial
chairpersons had little or no idea what the much-ballyhooed National
Economic Development Priority Programme (NEDPP) entailed.
††††† They were all summoned to Harare to be given the low-down on this key
element of the government's economic turnaround programme.
††††† Mujuru told Reuben Barwe, ZTV's chief correspondent, after that
meeting, that the party was supreme, in relation to the government. But the
NEDPP was not the brainchild of the party, was it? If it was, then how come
its provincial chairpeople had no idea what kind of monster it was?
††††† The idea of the party being the bigger brother of the government is a
hangover from the old Marxist-Leninist political system, now universally
discredited, except in the People's Republic of China, North Korea and
††††† Why Zimbabwe's ruling party clings to this archaic political system
can best be explained by its pathological fear of being defeated in a free
and fair election.
††††† At the end of the day, Zanu PF operates a system of political
terrorism which is subtle, perhaps as soft as a police officer's caress with
a baton on your chin.
††††† Mugabe said the other day they would have declared a state of
emergency in view of the economic "challenges" brought about by the
so-called sanctions imposed on his regime by the West.
††††† Yet to many Zimbabweans, the effects of two laws passed by Parliament
since 2000 must certainly constitute the essence of a state of emergency.
††††† Both the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (AIPPA)
and the Public Order and Security Act (POSA) are so restrictive of the
people's freedoms they would not normally operate outside a state of
††††† For instance, a commentator might find themselves in real hot water if
they said something uncomplimentary about the news that both Mugabe and is
wife, Grace, produced more crops in their respective farms than anyone else
in their area.
††††† This was revealed to highlight the fact the two were "leading by
example".† This is amazing: neither could ever run out of fertilizer or
seed. Neither could ever confront transport problems - neither could ever
face problems they would be unable to overcome.
††††† Another piece of news was how successfully the commander of the
defence forces, Constantine Chiwenga, was running his farm. What would be
absolutely amazing would be if he failed to run his farm.
††††† These, to some cynics, suggested a government desperate to be
believed, to be loved, to be accepted as doing a good job, to be admired by
the people for.whatever reason.
††††† Towards the end of the week, Mugabe told a news conference the
country, though facing enormous "challenges", would "soldier on' until
††††† In a way, you were bound to feel sorry for the man: he must know the
odds against success are enormous. There is still not enough foreign
currency to buy much that is essential to boost the economy. His political
policies have long antagonized those former allies who would readily have
come to the country's economic aid.
††††† Yet he has so entrenched in his own psyche the philosophy of "going it
alone" he dare not back-track, and admit publicly that it was one hell of a
mistake and has cost his people, his country and perhaps even his innocent
neighbours an awful lot of potential to prosper.
††††† Some would call it the greatest act of political terrorism ever
committed by one man against so many, for a very dubious cause.
New Straits Times, Malaysia
15 Jul 2006
KUCHING: The police may have recovered RM500,000 worth of stolen goods but
what caused a stir was the 2.32 million Zimbabwean dollars seized when three
suspects were detained.
Police are puzzled how the Zimbabwean currency notes, valued at about
RM84,000, came into the possession of the trio, who are believed to members
of a syndicate.
At a Press conference on Thursday, city police chief Assistant Commissioner
Kassim Yusop said the male suspects, both locals in their early 30s, were
restaurant operators at Jalan Ban Hock while the female suspect was a
Based on a tip-off, police learned that the syndicate would give out a cell
phone number to selected people who wanted to buy goods at very low prices.
An undercover policeman then contacted one of the suspects, who led him to a
terrace house in Jalan Durian Burung.
When police raided the house, they found that the kitchen, two bedrooms and
the living room were filled with the stolen goods, which comprised mostly
LCD television sets, computers, car accessories, car stereo systems and
Police also recovered RM15,000 and the Zimbabwean currency notes.
"During the raid, police also recovered three pedigree dogs at the house and
we will establish if the dogs were also stolen pets," Kassim said.
On Monday, a pet shop at Rubber Road was broken into.
Police believed that the suspects were responsible for at least two other
robbery cases at Jalan Sekama and Jalan Song Thian Cheok.
By Blessing Zulu
††††† 14 July 2006
France's ambassador to Zimbabwe urged the government of President Robert
Mugabe to mend relations with its own population before launching
international initiatives. Envoy Michel Raimbaud was reported to have made
the statement in a Bastille Day speech in Harare marking the July 14 French
Among those present at the diplomatic occasion were Zimbabwean Deputy
Foreign Affairs Minister Obert Matshalaga and opposition leaders including
Secretary General Tendai Biti of the Movement for Democratic Change faction
of Morgan Tsvangirai, the party's founding president. The rival faction is
headed by Arthur Mutambara.
Raimbaud's comments alluded to Mr. Mugabe's naming of former Tanzanian
President Benjamin Mkapa to mediate discussions between Harare and London.
The premise of the talks proposed by Mr. Mugabe is that the Zimbabwean
economic crisis arose from sanctions imposed by Britain in response to
Harare's radical land reform program. But British diplomats say bad policies
and poor governance in Harare are to blame.
Raimbaud's comments indicated Britain is not alone in its analysis.
Elsewhere, diplomatic sources said United Nations Secretary General Kofi
Annan, who was elbowed out of the picture by Mr. Mugabe at the recent
African Union summit in the Gambia, still wants a wider role for the U.N. in
resolving Zimbabwe's crisis.
Annan is said to have indicated his hope that the Harare government will
heed the recommendations of Ibrahim Gambari and Agostinho Zacarias,
respectively the U.N.'s top political officer and the U.N. country
representative in Zimbabwe. Working behind the scenes, Gambari and Zacarias
are said to have urged that Harare drafte a new constitution, hold fresh
elections and repeal repressive press and security laws.
U.N. sources said they hope Mkapa will reach out to the world organization
For perspective on the evolving diplomacy around the Zimbabwean crisis,
reporter Blessing Zulu of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe spoke with senior
political analyst Sydney Masamvu of the Pretoria office of the International
Please send any material for publication in the Open Letter Forum to
firstname.lastname@example.org with "For Open Letter Forum" in the subject line.
Please could you pass this warning out to others so that they may be warned
of these fraudsters
During the month of June a white name calling himself 'Michael Stuart' (not
sure if it is his real name) drove out to our butchery and enquired after
some cattle to be slaughtered for his butchery in Mazowe.† He wanted to us
to kill and slaughter approximately 10 head equating to over 2 billion
dollars.† We agreed on the number of head and price and told him we would
give him the meat once the money was in our account.
On the Friday he kept insisting he had deposited the money into our account
and he eventually drove out to the butchery on Saturday morning with a
bank-stamped RTGS form showing that the transfer had been submitted to the
bank.† In case you are not aware any RTGS submitted to Barclays bank after
12 on a Friday will not reflect in your account until the following Tuesday
morning as RTGSs are not processed on a Saturday.† We had killed five of the
cattle chosen and nearly gave them to him after seeing the RTGS but we
decided to wait until Tuesday to see if the money had gone in. Sure enough
no money went in and needless to say he never phoned again and we cannot get
hold of him on the cell number he was using. The number is 023 283671
He came out to the butchery twice, both times with African men with him
saying they were his farm managers.† He said he was from Makaka Estate in
Mazowe but one time said it was in Shamva. They were driving two white cars,
one an old type Nissan and another Mitsubishi - no other details on cars.
If anybody has seen or been approached by something similar tell others so
we can be pre-warned of people like this guy.
Do not take the sighting of an RTGS stamped by a bank as proof that money
has gone into your account.
We were lucky.
Well said Cathy, it is time that a serious alliance with one agenda was
formed of all parties, churches, labour Unions and our democratic allies in
this small world to end this evil regimes reign of terror once and for all.
All letters published on the open Letter Forum are the views and opinions of
the submitters, and do not represent the official viewpoint of Justice for