Tue 18 July 2006
HARARE - Zimbabwe Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa has ordered
Attorney General (AG) Sobuza Gula-Ndebele to drop charges of political
violence against ruling ZANU PF party supporters and state security agents,
authoritative sources told ZimOnline on Monday.
Chinamasa issued the directive last month, telling Gula-Ndebele that
he (Chinamasa) was acting on direct instruction from President Robert Mugabe
and that there would be "serious consequences" for the AG if he failed to
But the sources said Gula-Ndebele had rejected Chinamasa's directive,
instructing prosecutors across the country to speed up work on all cases of
political violence, including those involving security forces and ZANU PF
party supporters, committed during the 2000 and 2002 elections.
"Barring direct intervention by Mugabe (to stop prosecution) the AG's
office will soon be writing to the police to finalise investigations into
some of the cases while several cases that are ready for trial will be
brought to court," said a senior official at Gula-Ndebele's office.
The official, who did not want his name published because he is not
authorised to disclose such details to the Press, said Gula-Ndebele wanted
all cases of political violence committed during the two elections, both
controversially won by Mugabe and ZANU PF, concluded.
Gula-Ndebele - who has constitutional powers to independently
determine what cases to prosecute - refused to discuss the matter when
contacted by ZimOnline. "No comment," was all he would say before switching
off his mobile phone.
Chinamasa also refused to discuss the matter, switching off his phone
but not before accusing ZimOnline of "always wanting to write negative
stories" about the government.
It was not possible to immediately establish from Mugabe's spokesman,
George Charamba, whether the President had indeed directed Chinamasa to tell
Gula-Ndebele to drop political violence charges against ZANU PF supporters
and members of the security forces.
A wave of politically-motivated violence, assault, torture and murder
of opposition supporters hit Zimbabwe during and after a general election in
2000 and a presidential poll in 2002.
The two violence-marred polls were the first in which Mugabe and ZANU
PF had ever faced a real danger of losing power to a hugely popular
opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party.
Mugabe and his party won the elections but the MDC, Western countries
and international observers refused to endorse the polls as democratic,
accusing the government of using violence and outright fraud to achieve
The Commonwealth suspended Zimbabwe from the club while the United
States, the European Union, Switzerland, Australia and New Zealand imposed
visa and financial sanctions on Mugabe and his top officials as punishment
for stealing elections and for human rights violations.
But Mugabe and ZANU PF deny violating human rights or stealing
According to our sources, Chinamasa told Gula-Ndebele that if he were
to prosecute large numbers of ZANU PF supporters for political violence,
then this would in a way confirm claims by the MDC and human rights groups
of rampant violence and victimisation of the opposition.
The Justice Minister is also said to have expressed fears that
prosecuting members of the army, police and secret service accused of
political violence would in the end portray the state security forces as
agents of the ruling party that are used to intimidate and harass the
Meanwhile, a magistrate's court in the farming town of Rusape on
Monday issued a warrant of arrest against Chinamasa after the Justice
Minister failed to turn up at court to answer charges of trying to obstruct
the course of justice in a case of political violence committed in the
run-up to the last March's general election.
Chinamasa is accused of having tried to influence state witnesses to
withdraw from a case in which State Security Minister Didymus Mutasa and
others were accused of having incited some youths to attack their political
Withdrawal of state witnesses would have weakened the case against
Mutasa, who incidentally was later cleared of inciting political violence
while his co-accused were put on trial.
The Justice Minister allegedly committed the offence sometime in
December last year and in January this year. Chinamasa is being charged with
five others who were present at court and were remanded to August 1. -
Tue 18 July 2006
MASVINGO - A ruling ZANU PF legislator, Selina Pote, has kicked out
several black farmers from an irrigation scheme in Chiredzi district in
southern Zimbabwe saying no opposition supporter should benefit from
President Robert Mugabe's land reforms.
The farmers were evicted about two weeks ago after they attended a
rally in Chiredzi town which was addressed by the leader of the main faction
of the splintered opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party,
The chairman of the irrigation scheme, Alfred Chirilele, told
ZimOnline yesterday that trouble began last month after Pote compiled a list
of farmers who had attended Tsvangirai's rally in the town.
"The MP (Member of Parliament) Ms Pote came and compiled a list of
people whom she suspected of having attended the MDC rally. "Those
suspected of having links with the opposition were later evicted by the MP,"
Masvingo provincial governor, Willard Chiwewe, who toured the
irrigation scheme on Monday, promised to investigate the evictions that have
brought production at the 360-hectare scheme to a halt.
Contacted for comment yesterday, Pote defended her actions saying no
opposition supporter should benefit from Mugabe's land reforms.
"I am sure you are aware that the MDC has been very critical of the
government's land reform programme and we are saying they should go and get
land from their party while our supporters from ZANU PF should come to us
"I am going to make sure that those evicted will not be allowed back
into the scheme," said Pote.
This is not the first time ZANU PF has been accused of victimising
opposition supporters in the country.
The MDC and Western governments often accuse the Harare authorities of
carrying out a highly partisan land reform exercise that has only benefited
ZANU PF supporters.
But Mugabe denies the charge insisting every Zimbabwean, in spite of
political affiliation, can benefit from his land reforms that saw thousands
of white-owned farms being redistributed to landless blacks during the past
six years. - ZimOnline
Tue 18 July 2006
HARARE - Junior doctors at the two biggest hospitals in Zimbabwe's
second largest city of Bulawayo downed tools on Monday as a strike by
doctors that began in Harare last Friday spread to other major centres.
Junior doctors at Zimbabwe's biggest referral hospital, Parirenyatwa
and at Harare hospital went on strike to press for better salaries and
Their colleagues at Mpilo hospital and United Bulawayo Hospitals had
restricted their services to attending to emergency cases only before the
Monday decision to stop working altogether.
The junior doctors - who effectively run Zimbabwe's public hospitals
with senior specialist doctors spending most of their time at their private
clinics - also want the government to improve supplies of medicines and
equipment at hospitals, saying they cannot continue watching patients die of
treatable illnesses simply because there are no medicines.
Hospital Doctors Association president Kuda Nyamutukwa told ZimOnline
that doctors would not heed calls at the weekend by Health Minister David
Parirenyatwa to return to work, saying the strike would be called off only
when their grievances had been met.
"It depends on the government but we are tired of promises from the
government which have never been honoured," said Nyamutukwa said.
"No hypertension drugs, no TB drugs and no diabetic drugs. The
country's sole radio-therapy machine has been down for the past five months.
Bulawayo's radio-therapy machine broke down three years ago," said
Nyamutukwa, illustrating the ordeal that doctors and nurses have to face
every day trying to help patients.
Zimbabwe's public health sector, once the envy of many developing
nations, has virtually crumbled after years of under-funding and
mismanagement. Equipment is largely derelict in the state hospitals many of
which do not have essential drugs, because of a critical shortage of foreign
currency to import supplies.
A massive brain drain as doctors and nurses seek better paying jobs
abroad has only helped exacerbate the situation at state hospitals, which
remain the only source of health services for more than 80 percent of
Zimbabweans. - ZimOnline
Tue 18 July 2006
HARARE - Zimbabwe High Court Judge Feliciah Chatukuta on Monday
ordered immigration officials to return the passport of an opposition
official they seized last Sunday.
Prominent human rights lawyer Beatrice Mtetwa, who represented
Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party organising secretary Elias
Mudzuri in the matter, said the judge ruled that there was no legal basis
for the immigration department or the Registrar-General's office that issues
passports to seize the travel document.
Even if the government had grounds to withdraw the passport, it first
had to give reasonable notice to Mudzuri before taking away the document,
ruled the court.
"I will serve the concerned (parties) with the order first thing
tomorrow morning," Mtetwa told ZimOnline.
Mudzuri, who is a also former mayor of Harare and belongs to the
larger faction of the splintered MDC led by Morgan Tsvangirai, was bundled
out of a London-bound British Airways plane by immigration officials who
went to take away his passport, saying they were acting on instructions from
the Ministry of Home Affairs.
The government last amended the constitution to allow it to seize
passports and other travel documents of its critics, in a move human rights
groups criticized as not only unjust but also a breach of the Bill of Rights
that guarantees freedom of movement.
The government did not follow up the constitutional amendment with an
enabling Act of Parliament and was last year forced to return the passports
of another MDC official Paul Themba Nyathi, trade unionist Raymond Majongwe
and private newspaper publisher Trevor Ncube.
The immigration department returned the passports after advice from
Attorney General Sobuza Gula-Ndebele that the constitutional amendment did
not empower the department to withdraw a citizen's travel documents without
a specific Act of Parliament stipulating the exact conditions and offences
for which such documents can be seized by the state. - ZimOnline
Tue 18 July 2006
HARARE - Police in Zimbabwe's eastern city of Mutare on Monday
released 10 activists of the National Constitutional Assembly (NCA) civic
alliance who were arrested last Wednesday for demonstrating over worsening
economic conditions in the country.
Alec Muchadehama, a lawyer representing the NCA, told ZimOnline
yesterday that his clients, who were released on Z$500 000 bail each, will
appear in court on Thursday.
Muchadehama said it was still not clear yesterday what charges the
police will prefer against his clients.
"We will apply for a refusal of remand because we have not been
furnished with concrete details of what charges they (NCA members) are
"In fact, we had vehemently refused to pay fines which the police had
suggested. We're now working on court action on the treatment of my clients
when they were in the cells," said Muchadehama.
In Harare, 128 NCA demonstrators were also set free last Saturday on
free bail after they refused to pay admission of guilt fines.
The NCA demonstrators were arrested last Wednesday after they marched
in Zimbabwe's five major cities demanding that President Robert Mugabe's
government address the worsening economic conditions in the country.
Under Zimbabwe's Public Order and Security Act (POSA), it is an
offence punishable by a two-year jail term to demonstrate without first
seeking permission from the police. But the NCA has often ignored the law
which they say is undemocratic. - ZimOnline
Tue 18 July 2006
HARARE - A serious financial crisis has forced Zimbabwe to break with
convention by sending three instead of five members to Greece for a crucial
Davis Cup encounter this weekend.
Zimbabwe's Davis Cup team left for Europe on Sunday without
non-playing captain Claudio Murape as well as a fourth player.
Tennis Zimbabwe could only afford to send players Genius Chidzikwe,
Gwinyai Tongoona and Pfungwa Mahefu to the Euro-Africa Zone Group Two
If Zimbabwe lose, as is widely feared, they will be relegated to the
A senior Tennis Zimbabwe official confirmed the association could not
send the traditional five-man team due to lack of funds. He said the
association was unable to raise enough money to purchase foreign currency on
the illegal but thriving foreign currency black-market.
Tennis Zimbabwe has been struggling to find sponsorship since
allegations of money embezzlement during the days of former association
president Paul Chingoka surfaced last year.
The economic crisis in the country, where inflation is over 1 000
percent, has made Tennis Zimbabwe's plight worse.
Zimbabwe's Davis Cup side lost their last Davis Cup tie 4-1 at home to
Norway in February.
The southern African country has since the Black brothers, Byron and
Wayne, as well as Kevin Ullyett quit the national team. The trio sometimes
used their personal resources to represent the country. - ZimOnline
MY TAXI driver in Harare clearly has no faith in the mission by former
Tanzanian president Benjamin Mkapa to mediate in Zimbabwe's problems.
"Only God can save us now - everyone else has failed," he said while driving
me through the city's industrial sites where many factories have closed or
are operating at below half capacity.
Taxi drivers are a repository of sometimes questionable independent wisdom
but, in fact, the president himself seemed to convey the same sentiment
recently during a day of prayer calling for divine intervention to save the
country's shattered economy.
But in the meantime President Robert Mugabe seems happy enough to settle for
his old friend Mkapa.
After all, Mkapa was the friend who defended him against criticism of one of
the Zimbabwe government's most unpopular moves to date - last year's
so-called "clean-up" campaign, Operation Murambatsvina, which has caused
more suffering among ordinary people than all the economic policies that
preceded it have done. And Mkapa defended it in no less a public gathering
than the World Economic Forum Africa Summit in Cape Town.
Mkapa has been a loyal ally in deflecting any censure from the region - not
a particularly difficult job, it has to be said, given that any criticism
was rather muted and confined to the corridors of regional summit meetings
He also appeared to see no contradiction in introducing policies to make his
own country a success story while supporting another government that was
running a country into the ground.
So where does all this leave his mediation mission?
The state-owned press in Zimbabwe, always a good test of what the government
wants people to believe, last week praised Mkapa repeatedly, saying he at
least understood that Zimbabwe's problems were unrelated to untrue
allegations of governance and bad policies, but were simply a bilateral
problem with Britain over land.
Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo, who had his "Africanness" questioned
in the state media after he supported voices critical of Zimbabwe, appeared
in The Herald in a "rogues' gallery" of photographs alongside SA's Thabo
Mbeki and United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan under the headline
"Prophets of doom shamed".
Whatever propaganda the state might be churning out, the fact remains that
the Zimbabwe economy is in a mess, as a brief visit to the country
highlighted more starkly than the many column inches in newspapers dedicated
to the subject can.
This is a country where a loaf of bread (Z$140000) costs more than the
highest denomination note (Z$100000) and where bakers sometimes get arrested
for selling it at above the government-controlled price.
Much has been written about the weird world of Zimbabwe's galloping
inflation but I was still unprepared for a bill of a million dollars for a
hamburger or Z$400000 for a lemonade. A basket of groceries can set you back
Z$5m. That is a lot of notes. People spend as much time counting money as
they do spending it.
The currency is again in freefall. In one week the black market rate dropped
from Z$420000 to nearly Z$500000 to the US dollar against the official rate
of Z$100000. It is difficult to get hard currency through official channels,
and if companies are forced to do so, it can take weeks or even months.
So the parallel market has effectively become the official market. Everyone
uses it, out of necessity.
The money market is the main game in town, I was told. Companies are buying
up 91-day treasury bills offering an interest rate of 510% rather than
ploughing profits back into producing for a dwindling consumer market. In
any case, inflation is making domestic products less and less viable,
particularly as local inputs are becoming harder to find and imported inputs
are pushing up prices.
Arbitrage is another money spinning pursuit. For example, the government
subsidises fuel to farmers, selling to them at Z$23000 a litre, while the
prevailing market prices is Z$500000. Good margins there. Why would one want
to actually plant anything?
This is the real world of Zimbabwe where the problem is actually bad
governance and poor policy, despite the determination of the government's
propaganda machine to paint a different picture.
Mkapa has a tough time ahead, particularly if he does not subscribe to the
realities of the situation. He is no longer a head of state who has
relevance automatically conferred on him. He needs to find his place in the
He is a key player in the recently launched African Investment Climate
Facility, and where better to start in his new job than to deal with the
economic mess in a neighbouring state.
But does he really have the stomach to do what needs to be done?
Games is director of Africa @ Work, a research and publishing company.
By Peta Thornycroft in Harare
President Robert Mugabe has ridiculed followers for consulting witch
doctors to choose his successor, dismissing the suggestion that he is going
to step down.
Shaking his fist, Mr Mugabe, 82, told Zanu PF leaders and party elders
at a weekend "consultative" rally in the country's capital, Harare, that
they should not rely on witchcraft to choose Zimbabwe's next president.
Mr Mugabe, who drew cheers and laughter from the crowd, told them:
"The things we hear about succession, succession, succession. We hear lots
of unbelievable stories about succession. We hear some people are consulting
witch doctors, but the biggest witch doctor is the people of Zimbabwe. There
is no need to consult witch doctors."
Nobody is sure whether Mr Mugabe, who has been in power since
independence from Britain 26 years ago, will retire when his term of office
expires in March 2008, or if he will fight another election.
There is intense lobbying and tension within Zanu PF over who will
Jonathan Moyo, the former information minister who is now an
independent MP and a political analyst, said yesterday: "He was trying to
deal with an important matter in a frivolous way, but showed he is extremely
agitated and knows he is cornered. He was also telling front-runners in Zanu
PF that they should not kill each other for his position as president, as he
is not going to leave office any time soon."
Mr Mugabe also accused party colleagues of corruption and of cheating
on their wives. He told colleagues, including the vice-president, Joyce
Mujuru, that they should stick to "one man, one wife".
He said: "Some men have several children and wives all over the place.
If you get married at the magistrate's court it's one man, one wife. If you
don't want that then do it the traditional way."
Mr Mugabe had two children with his present wife Grace, while still
married to his first wife Sally, who died in 1992
Mail and Guardian
17 July 2006 11:37
Zimbabwe's health minister has ordered striking junior doctors
back to work, accusing them of "biting the hand that feeds" them, reports
said on Monday.
The doctors, based at two major hospitals in Harare, have been
on strike since last week, ever since they were informed they were going to
be deployed to district hospitals for a year, said the state- controlled
District hospitals are unpopular with local medical staff
because there are severe shortages of drugs and medical equipment, as well
as sub-standard accommodation facilities.
"How can I talk to people who are not at work?" said Health
Minister David Parirenyatwa.
"If they are serious then they should go to work, then we will
He said the junior doctors had an "obligation" to serve their
After completing five years of medical studies, Zimbabwe's
junior doctors are supposed to undergo two years of training at what are
known as central hospitals, such as the two in Harare.
But last week the doctors were informed that they were being
deployed out to the countryside to district hospitals.
"They are refusing to go," said the CEO of Harare's Parirenyatwa
Hospital, Thomas Zigora.
So unwilling are Zimbabwean doctors to work in district
hospitals that many now rely on expatriate doctors from the Democratic
Republic of Congo and Cuba. But this has proved problematic because of the
Junior doctors are also reported to be dissatisfied with their
current salaries, which stand at Z$60-million (US$600 at the official rate,
but less than a quarter of that at the widely used parallel market rate) per
"These people are trained courtesy of the public's money, but
now they do not want to give back to the same people that trained them. Talk
about biting the hand that feeds you," Parirenyatwa was quoted as saying. --
By Tererai Karimakwenda
17 July 06
Last Friday the state controlled paper The Herald admitted that the
country's new farmers have failed to meet the targets set for wheat
production this season. The Herald report said the farmers are expected to
produce even less than last year. The paper has been used consistently by
the government to contradict any reports that show the failure of the
chaotic land reform programme. So last Friday's admission that the farmers
had failed dismally is important as a sign that the truth about agriculture
can no longer be kept secret.
The government has been boasting that its initiatives will bring about
a bumper wheat harvest this year, but according to the Herald farmers expect
to harvest only 218 046 tonnes. And Zimbabwe needs a minimum of 400 000.
Economic Development Minister Rugare Gumbo was quoted saying: "This implies
a deficit of 168 954 tonnes which the country has to import." Given the
critical shortage of foreign currency, the government will struggle to
import that much wheat not to mention the required tonnes of maize.
Wheat is not the only crop that has fallen victim to the government's
illegal eviction of white commercial farmers which began in 2000. This
chaotic land grab brought in a slew of new farmers with no experience, no
fertiliser, no seeds, no irrigation equipment and other resources. As a
result the production of many other crops that used to bring in major
amounts of foreign currency has decreased significantly.
Chiredzi farmer Gerry Whitehead told us that sugar production in the
lowveld area has decreased 30-40% since 2000. He said sugar has become even
more difficult to get in Zimbabwe because of greedy individuals who buy it
from the mills and take it across the borders, particularly into Mozambique.
But Whitehead said the government's desire for foreign currency is
contributing to sugar shortages to an even greater extent. He said sugar is
being exported to raise the crucial forex needed to service debts and buy
fuel and maize.
The Herald also reported that Robert Mugabe is determined to see
agricultural production revived again and is enjoying a measure of success
in his own farming ventures. Whitehead dismissed this as a joke. He said
white farmers are still under enormous pressure to leave from the so-called
A2 settlers who were given land on commercial properties by the government.
And Mugabe has done nothing to stop this illegal interference with
agriculture. As for Mugabe's success Whitehead said he cannot be compared to
ordinary farmers because he is first in line for all the resources he needs.
He said Mugabe has all the government's resources at his disposal. But
despite this obvious advantage, the acting head of the GMB, ex-military
official Samuel Muvuti praised the Mugabe family. The Herald quoted him
saying: "They are actually models and this should compel other farmers to
take farming seriously." There was laughter at this point and Whitehead felt
no further comment was necessary.
SW Radio Africa Zimbabwe news
Business in Africa
Posted Mon, 17 Jul 2006
Harare - Just after Reserve Bank Governor Gideon Gono announced last year
that the bank planned to introduce a new currency before the end of 2006, a
wave of excitement swept across the country as people anticipated the coming
of new banknotes which, many hoped, would have a stronger purchasing power.
But a year on, the question remains: When will the new currency come on
board? What measures could be taken in the interim to enhance convenient
Initially, the central bank had enunciated the introduction of a new note,
but later interventions pointed to the coming on board of a completely new
Most consumers had become weary of carrying around huge sums of money with
which they could only purchase a few goods.
A new currency was, therefore, imagined to offer convenience. But after a
year, mixed feelings over monetary policy have emerged once again.
Finance Minister Herbert Murerwa recently announced the extension of the
lifespan of bearer cheques by another six months.
Bearer cheques that were already in circulation at the time the $100 000
denomination was introduced should have been phased out late last month.
However, the extension of their expiry date to December 31 effectively means
plans to introduce the enunciated currency were now on hold.
According to economic experts, this year was not an opportune period to
unveil a new currency. Inflation levels were still very high and such an
environment would not give the currency a safe landing.
Implementing the measure now would mean constantly adjusting the new
denominations owing to the country's unstable economic environment.
In a typical case of too much money chasing too few goods, the purchasing
power of the Zimbabwe dollar has continued to fall against the high prices
of most basic goods and services.
Essential commodity prices continue to soar almost after every fortnight, a
situation that directly stems from the country's high inflation rate.
While a numerical representation pins the rate at over 1 000 percent, the
life form of hyperinflation has manifested itself through an accelerated
increase in the cost of products and service provision.
This, in essence, means one requires a substantial amount of dollar bills to
purchase some of the smallest products on the market.
In turn, this has also meant huge sums of varied denominations exchanging
hands at market places, supermarkets, department stores, schools, hospitals,
clinics and council offices, among an array of alternative transaction
"To introduce a new currency, inflation should be under control. This is
done for economic reasons, macro-economic fundamentals, because a new
currency would not work now given the economic situation in the country,"
said Andy Hodges, a Harare economist.
Secretary for Finance Willard Manungo said a key condition of introducing
the currency was achieving price stability.
Although he would not be drawn to reveal measures and successes scored on
this front, Manungo said the forthcoming fiscal and monetary review
statements would deal with the issue in depth.
Bearer cheques were introduced at the peak of Zimbabwe's cash crisis in
2003. Although they have worked as an efficient medium of exchange, the
cheques were meant to be a temporary measure to address monetary challenges.
Traditionally, the country's currency comprised coins and notes. But with
changes in the local socio-economic outlook, the introduction of higher note
denominations saw the coins being phased out gradually between 2001 and
Still, the value of the local dollar continued to diminish against major
currencies, ultimately resulting in the cash crisis and the subsequent
circulation of bearer cheques.
It remains undisputed that the cheques have proved to be an effective medium
of exchange. The reason for their continued circulation was based on this
fact, which was also meant to give authorities ample time to design and
print new notes.
Indeed, ample time was required, but a new currency ought to be circulated
only when all things are equal.
Manungo said the cheques should continue to provide temporary reprieve while
moves were being made to stabilise inflation.
Hodges seemed to concur, saying if the economy was rationalised, only then
could the country implement new measures. He spoke of redenominating the
dollar by dropping zeros on local denominations. This entails having lower
denominations that carry equivalent value of the present currency.
For instance, if authorities were to decide to drop five zeros from the
local currency, this means $100 000 would be equivalent to $1 in the new
Turkey and Mozambique were examples of countries that have undertaken such
moves. However, to implement such sweeping measures, a country's economy
should be stable first.
The Turkish Experience
For years, Turkey was faced with hyperinflation, which led to the expression
of some economic values in terms of billions, trillions and quadrillions.
This meant cash demand in the economy had to be met by the introduction of
new banknotes in larger denominations after every two years, a situation
that saw the highest denomination rising to 20 million lira.
Subsequently, the currency's credibility was negatively affected while
figures with multiple zeroes led to problems in accounting and statistical
records, data processing software and payment systems. This made it
imperative to redenominate the lira, a move that has breathed a new lease of
life into the currency.
On the other hand, Mozambique introduced this measure on July 1. The
benefits of this measure were still to be fully realised, but authorities in
that country were optimistic inconveniences would be done away with.
Experts say removing zeros from a denomination settles technical and
operational problems stemming from using figures with multiple zeros. This
not only restores confidence in a currency, but also makes moves to bring
down inflation to lower levels more realistic.
The habit of using coins also develops, experts argue, which creates an
environment were people feel more secure in the value of their money. -AND
By Trudy Stevenson, MP
Last updated: 07/17/2006 07:48:08
IT IS indeed a sad day when I have to write a sequel to my report on the MDC
meeting of 12 October last year, but there is nothing else for it.
Many people from all over the world - of various political persuasions and
none - have sent their sympathy and good wishes for a speedy recovery to the
three of us who were injured in Mabvuku.
I have been pursuaded to give an eye witness acount of the attack. Here is
my own recollection.
Five of us travelled in my car - which I had borrowed from my new
"in-laws" -- to Mabvuku to make a follow-up on a small house-meeting we had
held the previous Tuesday afternoon 29th June.
The reason we did not return to that same house on Sunday 2 July was because
when we left the house that Tuesday, we spotted a certain Munyaradzi
supposedly in a building gang just next door.
This Munyaradzi had caused Simangele Manyere (Treasurer, Harare Province)
and myself considerable grief before and during the Senate election last
year, when he showed himself to be very plainly on the Tsvangirai side,
despite having been identified by Harare Province as our point person in
Manyere immediately recognized him, as did both Cllr Linos Mushonga
(Provincial Organising Secretary) and Mr Karimatsenga (Provincial Secretary
for Security), all of whom spoke to him as we were leaving. We then decided
it would be unwise to return to the same house for the follow-up, as
Munyaradzi was likely to disrupt our visit, at the very least.
We therefore tasked our young Mabvuku member, Luckson Mudachira, to arrange
a meeting point elsewhere, and we agreed that we would then proceed from
that point with key members of the Mabvuku structures to the Province
offices in Hillside.
I was out of touch with the team for the next few days, as I attended the
ZNCC Congress in Victoria Falls. Indeed, had I kept to my original itinerary
I would only have returned Monday evening, but I managed to get onto a
Saturday flight - luckily in some ways, unluckily in others! On my return, I
arranged to drive with Manyere to Hillside to collect Luckson, Mushonga and
Karimatsenga to go to the 2 o'clock rendez-vous.
Manyere complained bitterly en route that arrangements for another trip to
Kuwadzana had failed when she had waited more than two hours for the driver
and then abandoned the trip. Karimatsenga was not at Hillside when we
arrived, and after waiting some time we decided we should proceed to Mabvuku
without him, as we were already late. Tawanda Udzerema (Youth Deputy
Organising Secretary) accompanied us instead.
When we reached Msasa, Karimatsenga called Mushonga and wanted me to go back
and fetch him, but I asked him to simply follow us and find us in Mabvuku,
as we were already late. In Mabvuku, Luckson directed us past the Circle
Cement factory, and pointed to three youths running to meet us as we drove
past the gate. We took the dirt road on the left just past the factory, and
drove into the compound where two or three youths were waiting for us. They
said we were not going to any house, but should just go to the open ground
behind us. I backed the car a short way down a path opposite the big water
tank, and the five of us got out, to be joined by the youths from the
compound. Soon another three or four members joined us, and then a member on
a bike who had come from the house where we had met on the Tuesday.
Mushonga, Manyere and I explained that we were also waiting for the women's
representatives, but meanwhile they should "huddle" to select their
chairpersons who would be accompanying us to Harare Province to link with
other structures. This they did - and meanwhile a big Caterpillar-type
digger appeared from behind the long grass, surprisingly. It turned as
though to come down the path, so I went towards the car to move out of the
way, but it simply went onto the space nearby and stopped. The driver waved
at me, so I waved back.
The group started introducing their chairpersons when suddenly one of the
youths said: "Here come Tvsangirai's guys."
I looked up towards the compound, where I saw about ten people spread out
quite widely advancing towards us, carrying something (not identified at
that stage) in their hands.
I asked: "Shall we talk to them?" but the youth said: "No, we should move
away from this place." Then I saw the advancing crowd start running.
Mushonga said "Give me the keys. I'll drive" but I knew he would not be able
to for two reasons, so I said: "No, I'll have to drive, let's go!" and I
unlocked the passenger door, slid over to the driver's seat, and Mushonga
got in the passenger seat. They were calling my name, "Trudy! Trudy! You've
gone against Tsvangirai!"
That's when I realized it was me they were after. I tried to release the
anti-theft immobilizer, but I couldn't manage before the rocks - and I think
bricks - started hitting the bonnet. I kept shouting "It's not my car! It's
not my car! Please don't damage the car!" By now, they were all around and
rocks were coming through the windscreen and the door windows. Mushonga was
no longer in the passenger seat. They shouted "Trudy, get out of the car!
Trudy, get out of the car!" and then I knew that I must stay in the car to
The rocks were hitting my head all over. Someone tried to pull me out of the
car through the broken driver's window - that's how my arm was broken. They
shouted: "Give us the keys! Give us the keys!" and at first I wouldn't, but
then I realized that if I didn't, they would pull my arm off trying to pull
me through the window, so I let go of the keys. At this point a woman
standing at the driver's door (she's one who hit my head with a big rock)
spotted the cord holding my mobile phone which was hidden under my jersey,
so she grabbed it and pulled and twisted it until it broke off and she
retreated with the mobile. Another person - or maybe it was her also- ran
off carrying my briefcase. Now I realized that they were all running off. I
don't know what made them retreat so suddenly.
My head was bleeding profusely and I knew my arm was broken, it was just
hanging. I managed to get out of the car and Mushonga appeared from
somewhere. He said they had fled in a get-away car which was waiting for
them. I looked back down the path for the others. The only one I saw was
Manyere lying beside the path a little way off, groaning. She told us she
had managed to crawl under the car to get away from the rocks - we had not
had time to unlock the back door for her before the attack began. But then
they had spotted her, pulled her out and kicked her all over. She was
complaining her head was hurting, and she was sore all over. They had tried
to pull her wedding rings off but they had just got her clip-on earrings and
twisted another ring. Again I asked: "Where are the others? They should come
and help us." But no-one else appeared.
Suddenly we saw an old blue car driving in along the dirt road, so Mushonga
ran towards it and managed to stop the driver. I also approached it, and we
asked the driver to please go to the police for help and to phone my husband
to alert him to come and find me there. Indeed this kind driver did exactly
that, as I later discovered from my husband.
I then had to lie down because I was feeling sick and faint, so I lay down
next to the car. Mrs Manyere stayed with me. Mushonga went off to the main
Arcturus Road to try and get help. About 20 minutes later a police
Landcruiser drove up, with Mushonga inside. At first I heard: "We've got to
get all the details" but then when the off-duty police officer saw the
situation and our condition, he kindly agreed to drive Manyere and myself
straight to hospital.
I asked Mushonga to stay with the car until help arrived, because the
windows were broken and it would be easy to steal the car or bits of it.
Mushonga stayed with the car until a friend went out much later with spare
keys to drive it back to the city - to my new in-laws' house! What a way to
start a new family relationship!
At the hospital we were attended to very quickly. Manyere was released after
x-rays etc. with medication. I got my head stitched and x-rayed but had to
stay in with my broken bones. Mushonga had broken fingers which were also
attended to when he arrived later, and I think he had a head x-ray. He had
lost consciousness at one stage during the attack, which was when they stole
his shoes and other items.
To all my family, friends and colleagues who have suffered because of this
attack, may I say how sorry I am this happened, and sorry also for your
losses, your pain, your worry and your considerable inconvenience.
To all my family, friends and colleagues and the many complete strangers who
have assisted us in any way and who have expressed their sorrow and sympathy
over this Mabvuku attack - A VERY BIG THANK-YOU. All you people are the
reason I will not give up. I love you all dearly, and I still believe most
Zimbabweans are the very nicest and kindest people on this earth. Your
fantastic reaction to this attack merely reinforces my belief in you!
My prayer is that something really positive will come out of all this, most
especially that it shocks those still in denial into the realization that we
simply MUST deal with the issue of violence WITHIN some groups who call
themselves MDC, as well as in its more traditional locus, Zanu PF.
We need to concentrate our efforts on sorting out our national problems, not
killing each other. It is a tragedy that this Mabvuku attack has enabled
Zanu PF to point fingers at the MDC. Let it not happen again, ever.
By a Correspondent
LONDON - FORMER Harare Mayor, Elias Mudzuri, who was expected in the
United Kingdom yesterday to help with the restructuring of the MDC UK
province and related issues, failed to travel because the Zimbabwean
authorities have seized his passport.
Immigration officials at Harare International Airport stopped Mudzuri,
the main MDC's organising secretary and confiscated his passport in the same
way they took travelling documents belonging to publisher Trevor Ncube,
activist Raymond Majongwe and the MDC's Paul Themba Nyathi last year.
MDC officials in London told zimbabwejournalists.com they did not have
much detail but had been told by Harare that Mudzuri would not be arriving
on board British Airways flight that left Harare in the morning because his
passport had been confiscated at the airport.
Mudzuri himself said immigration officials followed him onto the plane
and bundled him out of the London-bound British Airways plane despite having
gone through all the formalities. They then seized his travel documents and
told him they were acting on the instructions of the Home Affairs Ministry,
which we failed to get a comment from.
"The whole thing is a circus really - the immigration officer came and
said he was acting on the instructions of the Ministry of Home Affairs. He
said the government urgently needed my passport to verify certain
information and I do not know what information that can be," said Mudzuri.
Mudzuri said his lawyers were working flat out to ensure his passport
is returned to allow him to travel.
The Engineer was in 2004 forcibly removed by the government as
Harare's first opposition mayor and was replaced by the inept Sekesayi
Mudzuri was coming to the UK to help the new province put together
strong structures right from cell level to the provincial executive. He was
also expected to supervise elections to replace the Washington Ali-led
executive in the UK. Campaigning for positions has reached full throttle
with smearing campaigns already becoming the order of the day.
"We hope the Mayor will soon be given back his travelling documents so
we can work on our planned programmes as the party here in the UK with his
help," said an official with the MDC executive in London.
The Zimbabwe government was condemned last year for amending the
Constitution to allow it to seize travel documents from its critics. A list
of critics was said to have been drafted and on it were journalists, human
rights activists, opposition leaders and others.
In the case of Ncube, Majongwe and Nyathi, the Immigration Department
was forced to return the passports on the advice of Attorney General Sobuza
Gula-Ndebele. It is not yet clear whether the government of Zimbabwe is
embarking on a new campaign to seize passports and travelling documents from
its critics once again, especially now when the opposition and the labour
unions are planning massive street protests against the ruling Zanu PF
government's policies and poor wages.
The Herald (Harare)
July 15, 2006
Posted to the web July 17, 2006
ZIMBABWE and South Africa are still holding talks about scrapping visa
requirements, a senior Zanu-PF official has said.
Zanu-PF Secretary for Administration Cde Didymus Mutasa said relevant
Government ministries were holding discussions on the issue and were
expected to report soon.
Cde Mutasa, who is also the Minister of State for National Security, Lands,
Land Reform and Resettlement, was responding to questions from journalists
at the Harare International Airport on Thursday, where he was bidding
farewell to African National Congress (ANC) secretary-general Mr Kgalema
Montlanthe, who had been in the country for a two-day exchange visit.
He said Zimbabwe regarded South Africa as a dependable ally judging from
their relations, which dates back to the liberation struggle.
South Africa and Mozambique are the two Zimbabwe's neighbouring countries
that require visas to enter while there is no visa required to go to Zambia,
Botswana or Namibia.
"The friendship between our two countries have been of benefit to us because
we trade with South Africa and we are one people," he said.
He accused Britain of regarding itself as the international community
disregarding other continents.
"We even joked with our South African counterparts that our detractors here
were mischievously saying French skipper Zinedine Zidane reacted furiously
to Marco Materrazzi because he had been accused of being a member of
Zanu-PF," he said.
"Britain thinks it constitutes the international community. It disregards
the Arab world and Africans."
Deputy Speaker of the House of Assembly, Cde Kumbirai Kangai said their
discussion with ANC chief was open and frank.
"Our discussions were frank and candid and it reflects the good relations we
have with South Africa," he said.
Mr Montlanthe, who was in the country on an exchange visit with Zanu-PF,
threw his weight behind the mediation of former Tanzanian president Mr
Benjamin Mkapa between Zimbabwe and Britain.
By Stanford Mukasa
17 July 06
The renewed hostilities in the Middle East will come as a mixed
blessing for Mugabe and ZANUPF in as far as appeals for international
intervention in Zimbabwe are concerned. Nobody knows when the conflict in
the Middle East will end, let alone subside. This latest event is an
indication of how volatile the international geopolitical environment is and
how the Zimbabwean tragedy can easily fade into the background each time a
crisis breaks out around the world. This perhaps partly explains how the
Mugabe regime has escaped or has been spared of the potential for harsh
international action. Mugabe's continuing stubbornness and heartless
obduracy in any serious efforts at seeking a solution to the crisis he has
created for Zimbabweans is a direct consequence of ineffectual international
action and near zero responses so far from the Zimbabweans themselves.
The ball is now fully and squarely at the feet of the Zimbabweans
We can all shout until our voices are hoarse for international
intervention. The reality of the situation is the spotlight is now on
Zimbabweans to decide what they are going to do with Mugabe and ZANUPF.
Historically the masses do not spontaneously start revolutions, although
there is evidence of this in mass protests in Haiti, Togo, Kyrgyzstan,
Ukraine and also during the Soweto uprising back in 1976 and the age of the
mass democratic movement in the years leading to independence for South
Be that as it may, there was some organizational structure in which
the mass protests were given inspiration and direction by the civil society
leadership. In the case of Zimbabwe the MDC led by Morgan Tsvangirai is
slowly waking up to the reality that the leadership must take a more
proactive and assertive action in confronting Mugabe and ZANUPF. The
leadership is taking its time in spearheading the push against Mugabe. Such
popular mobilization is long overdue. However, judging by the political
cancer of apathy that has incurably afflicted many Zimbabweans there is an
understandable precaution by the leadership to avoid another flop in mass
Mass action is the only option left for the opposition movement in
Zimbabwe. The Zimbabwean response to Mugabe's tyranny now rests on mass
action or civil disobedience.
Mugabe's actions speak volumes as to where he stands about
negotiating with the MDC. He has cherry-picked his political split image,
Benjamin Mkapa, to do his dirty work in "negotiating" with Britain for the
"normalization" of relations between Mugabe and Tony Blair. Mugabe has
narrowly defined the dispute as between Zimbabwe and Britain which,
according to Mugabe, did not meet its promised financial obligations in
efforts to purchase land from whites for resettlement. Mkapa has been Mugabe's
John the Baptist in this narrow and selfish definition of the root causes of
the problems in Zimbabwe. Mkapa's record in his fanatical hero-worship and
utter admiration of Mugabe stands out like a sore thumb. As far as Mkapa is
concerned Mugabe and ZANUPF did not do any wrong and have become "dedicated
revolutionaries" in defending the rights of the people to their land "which
was stolen by the whites during colonialism."
Mkapa has selective amnesia about the sordid record of Mugabe's rule
in Zimbabwe, namely the killing of thousands of people in Matabeleland and
the fact that ZANUPF thugs have in the past few years murdered in cold blood
over 400 opposition supporters. Neither has Mkapa commented nor reprimanded
Mugabe for the gross human rights violations and the mismanagement of the
country leading to the subhuman Stone Age conditions that prevail in
It should by now be obvious to Zimbabweans that Mugabe has no desire
or inclination to negotiate with the opposition leaders and in good faith.
It is, therefore, a futile exercise to keep on talking about negotiations
with Mugabe or ZANUPF as some members in the opposition movement appear to
be suggesting. Time has come for the leadership in the opposition movement
to make difficult decisions if they are to be relevant in the struggle. Back
in 1961, and in the aftermath of the Soweto massacre in which Africans who
were staging a peaceful protest were gunned down by the apartheid police,
Nelson Mandela declared that time had come for the black leaders to
reconsider their strategy. Mandela noted that African leaders continued to
preach peace and nonviolence at a time when the apartheid government reacted
with brute force as in the case of the Sharpeville massacre.
Today, the opposition movement in Zimbabwe is faced with the same
question of how to more effectively confront Mugabe and ZANUPF. The two
"factions" of the MDC have taken different strategies. MDC under the
leadership of Tsvangirai, while expressing interest in talks, has resolved
to stage mass demonstrations and is now in the process of organizing such
The faction led by Mutambara has disavowed any mass demonstration,
preferring to either increase their appeal to the international community to
intervene or to try to increase voter participation in the next election in
the hope that if the election process is manned by people who are against
rigging there is a chance that the elections may not be rigged!
This strategy was summarized by Mutambara's party secretary general
Welshman Ncube who was once quoted as saying his supporters must participate
even if the elections were for a janitor! No other strategy was offered
except for a promise of some undefined plans A, B, C ad nauseam.
A consortium of clergy have met with Mugabe in the hope of convincing
him to change. Indeed some clergy were reported to have shared jokes with
Mugabe, laughed their lungs out, reflecting the circus nature of their
so -called mediation efforts, especially since nothing serious came out of
The reality of the Zimbabwean situation is that without mass action or
an organized strategy for civil disobedience Zimbabweans are doomed to
suffer exponentially until Mugabe drops dead of old age while clinging to
power. Leadership for the Zimbabwean opposition movement is about taking
very difficult decisions and attempting what may be impossible initially.
Nationalist movements in southern Africa in the 1950s and 1960s
appeared doomed. But it quickly dawned on the nationalist leadership that
they must prepare themselves for a long drawn struggle. Amilcar Cabral, the
liberation hero in Guinea Bissau which was then under Portuguese
colonialism, stated that opposition leaders should not expect quick or easy
victories. He also warned that people must expect to rely on their resources
in any revolutionary struggle, a point that was echoed by the late
Ndabaningi Sithole. Although Cabral's guidelines to confronting the enemy
were in reference to a situation under somewhat different conditions from
those prevailing in Zimbabwe there is a lesson to be learnt from this.
In the first place, the civil society leadership in Zimbabwe has not
publicly announced a strategy that reflects a long-term program of
resistance to Mugabe. The only exception is Lovemore Madhuku's National
Constituency Assembly ongoing hit and run demonstrations which reflect in
some ways what Cabral may have had in mind.
It is noteworthy that the NCA has added a new dimension to the
ongoing demonstration, namely, some of its supporters are now refusing to
pay admission of guilt fines. This was Martin Luther King's strategy as well
when he said "Let us all fill those jails."
What many people do not know is that admission of guilt fines levied
by the police are aimed at not only enriching but saving the police the
headaches of managing large numbers of arrests. It is one thing to arrest
4oo people and release them as soon as they pay the fines. It is a
logistical nightmare to arrest a similar number every day and having to
cater for them for several days! As long as the NCA supporters are held in
custody other Zimbabweans also arrested would solidify this passive
resistance by considering not to readily pay the admission of guilt fines.
It is, of course, very difficult and almost inhumane to encourage people not
pay the fines as the animal conditions in Mugabe's jails are among the worst
in the world. Being jailed in Zimbabwe can be tantamount to a death
sentence. But confronting Mugabe entails a certain level of risk. If the
NCA strategy could be replicated at a larger and more national scale
Zimbabweans will be halfway towards reclaiming their birthright from Mugabe
The NCA groups whose supporters have been demonstrating consistently
have shown that mass actions are not impossible in Zimbabwe. What is
particularly interesting about the NCA demonstrations is they are not
announced in advance and they mushroom anywhere anytime. Surprise is a very
important element in any civil disobedience campaign. Many people are quick
to write the NCA demonstrations off as inconsequential and incapable of
significantly impacting on Mugabe. The same thing was said about the WOZA
women. But recent reports show a steady increase in the number of
supporters who are participating or are now ready and willing to take part
in the demonstrations.
It is a fact of history that major liberation movements start small.
But they gain more membership as their strategies and objectives are
understood and supported by the masses. Tsvangirai and his MDC may want to
start by some well defined acts of civil disobedience and then as they
become more popularly accepted, MDC must expand and extend their strategies
What is needed as a prelude to mass actions are brush fires of
individual or group acts of civil disobediences. In 1950s America the civil
rights struggle started when one woman refused to sit at the back of the bus
which at those times had been reserved for blacks and the front for the
whites. That single act of defiance or civil disobedience launched mass
protests that saw Blacks win many concessions from the segregated South.
Once the acts of civil disobedience begin and the mass action gets
into full gear the Zimbabwean opposition movement will have shown to the
people and to the world that this is our war and while international
intervention is appealed for, Zimbabweans must take the primary
responsibility for fighting it out.
SW Radio Africa Zimbabwe news
Extinction fears for a scavenger vital to preserving ecosystems
Robin McKie, science Editor
Sunday July 16, 2006
South Africa's national lottery is claiming an unlikely victim: vultures.
Local people - convinced these birds' superb eyesight gives them the gift to
see the future - are eating vulture meat to acquire the power of
And they are not alone. In neighbouring Zimbabwe, voters fearful of
supporting the losing side in recent elections ate vulture meat, mainly
heads, talons, eyes and hearts, believing this would enable them to pick the
winning party. Then there has been the rise of traditional medicines, for
which vulture parts are highly valued, as well as soaring cases of poisoning
and shootings by starving farmers in East and West Africa.
In addition, in south Asia over the past five years, the use of the
painkiller diclofenac in cattle has wiped out three species of vulture and
reduced the remaining two species to a few dozen pairs of breeding birds.
The drug, it was discovered recently, destroys the birds' kidneys.
In short, the vulture - the ultimate scavenger, for ever associated with
pitiless opportunism - has been sent spiralling towards extinction, say
ornithologists. 'Something very, very bad is happening to the vulture,' said
Guy Rondeau, of Afrique Nature International. 'There has been an almost
total collapse in numbers in many parts of the world.'
The consequence of this dramatic decline is not merely an issue that should
concern wildlife enthusiasts, add scientists. Vultures' ability to pinpoint
corpses as they circle hundreds of feet in the air, combined with their
power to strip carcasses clean of their flesh in minutes, mean they are
vital in limiting the spread of diseases in livestock. With vultures around,
corpses don't get a chance to rot and act as reservoirs for disease.
This problem has reached the level of a major ecological issue in Asia, as
ornithologist Mark Anderson, based in South Africa, points out. 'In India
the cow is sacred and cannot be eaten. So it was traditionally left to
vultures to eat their corpses. Without vultures, packs of feral dogs have
These packs are 'destroying livestock and wildlife, harassing people and
sometimes spreading rabies and other diseases,' added Chris Bowden, a
vulture expert with the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds.
In addition, the Parsees of India, who leave their dead on 'towers of
silence' to be picked clean by vultures, have had to develop alternatives.
In Mumbai, one group bought six 'solar concentrators' - mirrors - to cremate
corpses using sun power. 'It is only in the West that we look at the vulture
with revulsion,' said Rondeau. 'In many countries they are venerated.' The
ancient Egyptians worshipped the vulture, while shamans in hunter-gatherer
tribes attributed the powers of clairvoyance to them. Many countries,
including Mali, have vultures as their national emblem, although the bird
has all but disappeared from its skies. 'Vultures have completely deserted
the colonies on the cliffs around our village,' said Diomande, a hunter from
the Bafing region of south-west Mali. 'We don't see any today. We think they
are angry at the way we treat the land.'
A measure of this loss is provided by recent surveys which indicate that
vulture numbers have dropped by 95 per cent in West Africa. 'It also appears
there has been a similar, drastic reduction in East Africa,' added Anderson.
'The situation is catastrophic,' said Francis Lauginie, of Afrique Nature
International. 'Conservation efforts have to be urgently introduced. This
could have irreversible consequences for regional ecosystems and
The exact causes of the disappearance of the vulture in Africa are unclear.
'In Asia, diclofenac was responsible,' said Rondeau. 'But that is not the
case in Africa. It is hardly used there. There seems to be a number of
causes. The need for vulture flesh to satisfy markets for traditional
medicines, their links with clairvoyance, hunting, and deliberate poisoning
are probably all involved.' The result has been plummeting numbers of a
species that may look unpleasant but which has some heart-warming qualities:
vultures mate for life while mothers and fathers share nest duties. 'They
are phenomenal parents,' says South African wildlife expert Kerry Wolter, in
an article in the journal Science
There is one encouraging piece of news. Vultures have started to prosper in
Europe. Conservation programmes in Spain and France have been so successful
that wild vultures have been spotted even in the Netherlands and
Scandinavia. The vulture may be dying out in Asia and Africa, but it could
soon appear in Britain, it seems.
Although ungainly on the ground, vultures can soar with astonishing grace
and to remarkable heights. One jet collided with a vulture at 10,000m (six
The Beatles were originally to play the four vultures in Walt Disney's
Jungle Book but had to drop out because of sched-ule difficulties. Other
actors took over and the vultures were portrayed as a homage to the Beatles.
One of the most unlikely uses of the species's name was by John McEnroe, who
denounced Wimbledon umpires for being 'the pits of the world - vultures!'
Prometheus was punished for stealing fire from the gods by having a vulture
eat his liver for eternity.
The main impact of the collapse of the Zimbabwe economy has of course been
on its own people. However, sight should not be lost of the wider impact and
here I personally feel that studies conducted some three years ago were
somewhat limited in their scope and, in my personal view, underestimated the
To give any impact study real meaning, we should start by estimating where
the Zimbabwe economy might have been if this implosion had not taken place.
That would then suggest levels of regional trade and the multiplier effects
that could be used to assess the possible impact of such growth and
stability on the other countries of the region.
Zimbabwe sits astride regional power and transport systems and at one time
had the most advanced and developed financial and industrial sectors after
South Africa, in the region. At one stage it was the largest trade partner
of South Africa, Zambia, and Malawi on the continent and was also a major
trading and services partner for Botswana and the Congo with a lesser
position in Namibia, Mozambique and Angola. After South Africa we also had
the largest tourism industry in the region.
Another factor that I think is understated is the impact of contagion and
perception. There is no doubt that we are all tarred with the same brush
when it comes to fighting for a place in the sun as far as trade, investment
and tourism is concerned. These are all elements in the development business
that are very sensitive to perceptions and public understanding. They are
also very shy when it comes to any sort of conflict or instability. Capital
flight from areas or countries suffering from instability and conflict are a
sensitive and critical barometer of their situation and its implications.
I took as a base line 1996/97 as the last year when the Zimbabwe economy was
still functioning on a "normal" basis and expostulated the social, economic
and trade situation to 2006 over a period of 10 years. The results were very
Factor 1996/97 2005/06 (Estimated) 2005/06 (Actual)
GDP (US$ billions) 8,4 12.9 4.4
Tourism (visitors) 1 200 000 2 500 000 280 000
Exports (US$ billions) 3,4 5.78 1,4
Foreign Aid (US$ million) 800 1200 350
Imports (US$ billion) 4.2 7.4 1.8
Agric Output (US$ b) 1.554 2.564 500
Mining Output (US$ m) 672 1176 780
Employment 1 400 000 2 030 000 850
Population 12 500 000 14 790 000 10 500 000
When you look as these figures, the effect of the implosion over the past 10
years can clearly be seen. The assumed rates of growth in these numbers is
modest - 4 per cent per annum in GDP, more in exports driven by rising
export receipts in mining and agriculture as well as tourism. It should be
noted that the tourism industry in South Africa has doubled in size since
1995 and I think tourism here would have increased faster than that under
normal conditions. There were no major droughts in this decade.
The regional impact is obvious - in 1996 we were the largest trading partner
for South Africa in Africa - trade in both directions at about R1 billion a
month with imports from South Africa growing rapidly. By my estimates South
Africa could have been exporting goods to Zimbabwe to the value of at least
US$2,5 billion a year by 2006 perhaps even higher. All these exports would
have been in the form of manufactured products with high multiplier and
employment effects in the South African economy. This element alone points
to a loss of potential exports to Zimbabwe by South Africa of something
approaching US$10 billion in ten years.
If the region had not suffered from the effects of the Zimbabwe crisis
internationally there can be little doubt that tourism would have risen
faster than it has - by how much is difficult to estimate. Some of this
potential has found its way to Botswana and Zambia but most of it has been
lost - perhaps to the extent of 3 million potential visitors to the region
in 2006. In the form of jobs this is equal to 375 000 jobs in the tourism
In terms of capital flight, it is estimated that Zimbabwe has been loosing
up to US$500 million a year in capital stock to capital flight. In South
Africa the net loss of capital is in the order of a billion Rand a month -
about three times the level of capital flight from Zimbabwe. The difference
is that Zimbabwe is in a deep political and economic crisis with damaging
and negative economic policies. South Africa on the other hand has pursued
conservative economic policies and has made a remarkable transition from
what it was before. Other SADC States all have positive net capital
inflows - but resource based rather than based on either the investment
climate or confidence in those countries as a developing services or
Without the negative impact of the Zimbabwe crisis it is possible that South
Africa might have experienced perhaps 2 per cent more real growth in GDP per
annum than it has actually achieved since 1994. This is equal to US$2,6
billion a year in additional GDP growth. Combined with capital flight of
about half this figure this represents a loss of potential economic activity
of US$4,3 billion a year. No developing country, especially a country like
South Africa, with 40 per cent unemployment, millions homeless and extreme
rural and urban poverty, can ignore such a loss of economic potential
without running the grave risk of instability in the longer term. That is
exactly the price that South Africans are paying for Mugabe's delinquency
and bad government.
If you lift Zimbabwe out of the SADC economy and study what is left, the
picture is pretty good. Angola, Mozambique and Botswana are all headed for
growth above 8 per cent; Zambia is not far behind while South Africa's
economy, boosted by the massive surge in mineral and precious metal prices
is also likely to grow strongly. That leaves the minnows of Malawi,
Swaziland and Lesotho - all showing growth but at lower levels. If you then
had Zimbabwe also recovering and perhaps growing strongly, its economy
fuelled by tourism, mining and agriculture, you would see stronger regional
growth overall - perhaps of the order of 1 to 2 per cent. That's the
difference between making an impact on poverty and unemployment and not.
Bulawayo, 16th July 2006
By Deprose T. Muchena
HARARE - AT a recent Democracy and Governance review conference in
Pretoria, attended by researchers and policy analysts from Southern Africa,
one issue that dominated the discussions of all presenters was the new role
of China in Africa.
Examples were generally drawn from the very visible role of China in
In the region, several examples were drawn from DRC, Angola,
Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Zambia, South Africa, Tanzania, and Zambia. This
discussion is relevant because only in January 2006, China announced its
desire to increase co-operation with African countries by issuing China's
African Policy, a paper intended to guide relations with the continent by
continuing what it calls a "non interventionist and non ideological
This expression of co-operation is premised on a growing relationship
between the continent and the gigantic Asian country. It is a relationship
rooted in the history of anti -colonial and anti-imperialist liberation
movements waged by African countries as they struggled for national
In the case of Southern Africa, the liberation movement was spurred by
support from Soviet Union and China and in many instances a lot of the post
colonial leaders were militarily trained in China and the Soviet Union.
Africa is good environment for Chinese investment, because it's not
too competitive. With the steadily growing number of failed and failing
states on the continent, China is treading in areas where even Libya has
The Chinese are the new pioneers in Africa, and - seemingly unnoticed
by aid planners and foreign ministers in Europe - they are changing the face
of the continent. In the 1970s, Chinese interests in Africa were
ideological. In the 1980s, as an emblem of solidarity, China built stadiums
for football matches, and political rallies in most African countries which
declared themselves socialist.
But in 2000, the first China-Africa Forum, held in Beijing, signalled
the renewed interests in Africa. This time round the interest was more
economic than ideological. Now, the Chinese are the most voracious
capitalists on the continent and trade between China and Africa is doubling
It is not a secret that China is the fastest growing economy in the
world with a huge appetite for natural resources, raw materials and in
search of markets for its growing industry and enterprises. In Southern
Africa, and in fact in most parts of Africa, China is either viewed or
perceived by governments as the new "economic messiah", a new investor and
new friend in a world where there is growing uneasiness over growing or
rather what African governments perceive to be patronising attitudes of the
West. China is actually taking great advantage of this growing resentment of
the North and is presenting itself as an alternative.
China is finding willing partners on the continent who are praising
its role. Chris Mutsvangwa, Zimbabwe's ambassador to China gave glowing
remarks to China in a recent interview with Beijing Review reporter Ni
Mutsvangwa placed China on a higher pedestal. "I can safely say
Zimbabwe's chosen path of economic development now faces a much brighter
prospect of success.. That is so because the stranglehold of once
omnipotent - vested interests is loosening and a more open and competitive
business environment is taking centre stage in world economic affairs," he
"China is transforming into one of the top economic and commercial
powers of the world. This has ushered in so much economic hopes.."
That China is the fastest growing economy is without doubt. For
example, in 2004, China overtook Italy and in 2005 it passed France and then
the UK as fourth largest economy in the world. From 1993 to 2004 China's
annual GDP growth averaged a staggering 9,9 percent over 12 years!
Keith Bradsher recently reported in the New York Times that China will
soon release statistics showing it has surpassed Japan as "the biggest
holder of foreign currency the world has ever seen", with reserves that will
reach US$1 trillion this year.
With lots of foreign currency to invest and a need for new markets and
raw materials, China is coming to Africa.
Jean Christophe Servant reports in Le Monde Diplomatique that 674
Chinese state companies have invested more ham $900 million in over 800
joint projects in Africa. According to the BBC, in the first 10 months of
2005 trade between China and Africa rose by 39 percent to over $48 billion,
largely fuelled by imports of African oil.
According to the world Economic Forum, which this year had a panel on
Chinese trade with Africa, China is about to become Africa's third largest
trading partner. These statistics reveal much more than the numbers. An
economic relationship is being constructed which in many instances is not as
evenly balanced as governments are telling us.
Extraction and continuation of centre-periphery dichotomy?
The question is: what is driving this Chinese incursion into the
continent? And is this new relationship messianic in the sense the
Zimbabwean ambassador Mutsvangwa portrays it? Or is it perpetuating the very
imbalance African leaders are running away from?
Stephen Marks recently wrote in Pambazuka News that this is a legacy
of China's Cold War posture. China's foreign policy and its "no questions
asked" approach have always appealed to African leaders threatened with
internal dissent ad external pressure to reform. There is no better example
for the Chinese soft power foreign policy than Robert Mugabe who presides
over the ZANU-PF authoritarian government.
Speaking at the Syno-Africa conference in September 2003, at which
most senior African leaders gave glowing accounts of their various countries'
experience with China, Zimbabwe's president Robert Mugabe launched a tirade
against Britain and the USA, calling on African Leaders to turn their backs
on western countries, and focus on better relations with China, which he
said respected African countries. Since that time, Zimbabwe has been sliding
down on major indices of economic development and good governance and such
other important indices as the competitiveness index, political stability,
the Transparency International (TI) corruption perception index and recently
the US based Fund for Peace's Failed States Index.
Cameroon's president echoed Mugabe's September 2003 remarks as well,
and we know what is happening to that country. Zimbabwe's "Look East Policy"
rhetorically emphasises the contrast between China, once itself an object of
European imperialism, and the "suspect motives of former colonial powers."
But Marks concludes that the fact is China is in "pursuit of economic self
interest in the form of access to raw materials. the goals of any classical
China keeps some of these countries happy by blocking international
consensus for reform, giving moral support even as these countries pursue
questionable domestic policies and in return, China gets preferential access
to markets and raw materials among other things that China is extracting for
Africa in general and Southern Africa in particular.
If the country is reasonably developed and well-governed like South
Africa, China uses the "south-south" rhetoric, something more likely to
impress the ANC-led government and its south focussed policies and
ideological grounding on global affairs. But the net effect is the same.
In many respects, the center-periphery dichotomy, that both crude and
refined African political leaders proclaim as the reason for twinning with
China are therefore often-times reproduced in these new celebrated
relationships. Clearly, the lopsided nature of the Chinese African
relationship is evident. China is benefiting through getting greater access
to raw materials and new markets for its goods at the expense of African
economies. It is like China is the new patron and Southern African states
are the clients.
Writing in the Los Angeles Times, Raymond W Copson, a recently retired
US Congressional Research Services Officer, argues that Beijing's aggressive
courting of African states is a direct challenge to US interests. He also
notes that the Chinese have been important actors on the continent since the
1960s, but the scale of their current involvement is unprecedented.
All across Africa today, according to a Council on Foreign Relations
report in January 2006, "China is acquiring control of natural resource
assets, outbidding Western contractors on major infrastructure projects and
providing soft loans and other incentives to bolster its competitive
China's trade with Africa is soaring up; well over a third in the
first 11 months of 2005 alone. Chinese businesspeople are seen everywhere,
and in country after country, Africans are riding Chinese motorcycles, and
wearing Chinese manufactured jeans and jewellery. A Zimbabwe weekly
privately owned newspaper, the
Zimbabwe Independent of 12 May 2006 confirmed this presence of Chinese
business people "everywhere."
Under the headline "Chinese team sets sights on uranium", the paper
reported that a team of Chinese had set up camp in Makuti in the Zambezi
Valley in what could be the beginning of uranium exploration in the country.
Never in the history of Makuti Hotel; this fairly unknown hotel, had a
Chinese delegation that large checked into the hotel for three weeks.
President Mugabe announced last year, that Zimbabwe had uranium, which the
country wanted to explore. Chinese explorers are already at work!
The main driver in the relationship is China's insatiable need for
energy. Its oil imports are surging and African oil now accounts for nearly
30 percent of the total.
The China National Petroleum Corporation has invested billions of
dollars to take control of Sudan's oil production, estimated at 150 000
barrels per day and growing. In fact, 60 percent of Sudanese oil goes to
China; 12 percent of China's oil comes from Sudan.7 No wonder the Sudanese
government is untroubled by the oil sanctions which prevent American
investment. Another Chinese oil company agreed in January 2006 to pay $2.3
billion for a major stake in a Nigerian oil field.
Africa is certainly benefiting. China's demand for resources has
driven up prices, propelling significant GDP gains in many countries. China
has educated thousand of African university students, and it sends Africa
hundreds of doctors and advisors each year. Chinese firms are building
roads, rehabilitating infrastructure and bringing cellphone services to
places that landlines never reached. The Chinese policy is certainly
In 2000, a new China-Africa co-operation forum agreed a joint economic
and social programme, one that is grounded on the developmentally defined
doctrine, the "five principles of peaceful coexistence", namely "win-win",
"non-interference", "respect for diversity", "economic development" and
"sovereignty." African leaders love these slogans. At the second
Syno-African Conference in December 2003, and well in advance of the G8
summit, China cancelled $10 billion of the debt owed by African countries.
In so doing, China offered debt relief to 31 countries, as well as
opening the prospect for trade.
But, is there a downside to this rosy picture?
A lot has been said about this new Chinese interest on the continent.
In Zimbabwe, for example, there is a real challenge in balancing the suspect
motives of China, particularly in view of the so-called "Look East Policy"
by Robert Mugabe's government and its emphasis on painting the west as an
enemy of Zimbabwe.
Most Zimbabweans are suspicious of any government or group that is
supportive of the Zimbabwe government in general and ZANU-PF in particular.
They view with suspicion, the role that China is playing in aiding and
supporting what some believe is an undemocratic regime. This suspicion is
premised on the belief that the support has postponed the quest for
democratic transition - a fundamental step towards real social and economic
Africans must be more vigilant in protecting their future, their
natural resources particularly if their states are entering into
partnerships and agreements that are getting the best out of Africa in terms
of resources, and giving nothing tangible in terms of sustainable
In order to do that, further research and critical evaluation of the
role of both the West in general and China in particular, as well as the
implications of their policies on our resources, our economies and societies
must be carried out, country by country and region by region, in order to
protect this continent from yet another scramble for Africa!
At this present moment, Africa requires diversified economies
supported by more responsive and accountable governments to help its
citizens out of poverty. The West is realising that aid is needed but that
it must be applied intelligently and in collaboration with a democratic
leadership in the client State, if it is to lead to poverty reduction and
prevent destabilising emergence of failed States.
The West itself has a long history of complicity with corrupt rulers
but as its democracies have matured, governments have become more
accountable to a better-informed citizenry regarding interaction with other
Not so for China. As Alexander points out, China is an autocratic
state with limited democratic freedoms and most of its citizenry is still
too poor to worry about the normal assessment of Chinese involvement with
their nation. He cautions Africa to tread with caution before becoming too
involved with China.
China needs Africa's natural resources and diplomatic support whereas
the improved economic status of Africa's poor is not a strategic priority,
nor is it a practical goal for a nation like China that has widespread
poverty of its own. He concludes by arguing that Africans must be vigilant
in ensuring that all future partnerships are structured so as to preserve
our economic integrity. Certainly this warning is falling on deaf ears, as
far as African Heads of State are concerned!
Deprose T Muchena is a research and policy analyst based in Harare.
This exploratory article was first published for the journal, "Open Space",
produced by University of Botswana/Open Society Initiative for Southern