|The ZIMBABWE Situation||Our
thoughts and prayers are with Zimbabwe |
- may peace, truth and justice prevail.
PRESIDENT BUSH'S lack of credibility with African leaders is hurting
diplomatic efforts to bring an end to political and economic repression in
Zimbabwe. The leaders are dragging their feet on getting the country's
dictator, Robert G. Mugabe, to negotiate with opposition leaders on a
transitional government and new elections. Bush has little standing to make
the major players in Africa do otherwise. But that shouldn't be an excuse
for him not to invest more energy on the crisis in Zimbabwe, where
conditions are rapidly deteriorating. Unprecedented food and oil shortages,
triple-digit inflation, and violent government crackdowns on political
dissent have caused residents to flee the country. Dozens of people have
been killed in state-orchestrated violence, and thousands have been beaten,
jailed, or tortured for their views. By some estimates, more than 3.5
million Zimbabweans have fled to South Africa, Botswana, or Britain.
This stands in sharp contrast to a country that was once
Africa's crown Thomas Moyo is a troubled man.
He is a prominent MDC youth league leader in Bulawayo and was one of the
radicals who mobilised Zimbabwean workers to stay at home during June's
nationwide stayaway which paralysed industries.
When I met him recently on the outskirts of Bulawayo, he told me he was
planning to leave Zimbabwe to seek political asylum in the United Kingdom, the
former colonial power.
He says he is being monitored by agents of the Central Intelligence
Organisation, the government agency blamed by human rights organisations for the
disappearance of thousands of Ndebele people in the 1980s.
Thomas says he knows what government agents are capable of doing to him and
does not want to take chances.
He says he now lives like a hunted animal in his own country. He is also
facing employment problems, because according to him, pictures of him were
distributed to different police stations during the presidential elections last
"Zanu-PF supporters have been telling companies that I am a dangerous person
who is working with foreigners to overthrow the government," he said.
"I can't even get employed locally. That's why I have to leave to find a
better life in Britain," he said.
He said he was sure he would be granted asylum by the British Government if
he arrived in that country.
"I want to go and try my luck but I am sure they will give me the asylum
because I am being persecuted by Mugabe's government," he said.
According to Thomas, Britain has a duty to bring the Mugabe government to its
senses; it has been accused of human rights abuses and of ruining a once vibrant
He says his sister who lives in London has
agreed to pay for his air fare from Bulawayo to Britain.
Thomas plans to leave behind his wife and the one child they have while he
tries to get asylum.
"I will be reunited with my wife and child once I am settled in Britain," he
said. He said he would not leave his wife at home because he fears the police
will harass her.
Mr Moyo's plight is exacerbated by a family connection to MDC leader Morgan
Thomas's problems worsened last year when the police accused him of assisting
many unaccredited foreign journalists with entering Zimbabwe illegally to cover
Thomas took journalists, most of them from the UK, to trouble spots around
Matabeleland during the elections last year.
After the elections, police raided his home but he was not there.
He has earned the respect of senior MDC leaders in Matabeleland for his
bravery as a youth leader and says he does not regret his involvement with the
"Freedom is around the corner for thousands of Zimbabweans who are suffering
at the hands of the government."
jewel, an economic dynamo inhabited by some of the most educated people on
the continent. Zimbabwe was a traditional exporter of food; now half its
people are starving. Mugabe, once the great liberator, is now an aging,
79-year-old autocrat so desperate to hold on to his 24-year grip on the
country that he stole the 2002 election, then jailed and charged with
treason the man whom many perceived as the winner, Morgan Tsvangirai. Two
years before, Mugabe led his cronies in a takeover of mostly white-owned
Bush and Secretary of State Colin Powell had taken a strong stand against
Mugabe until their visit to Africa earlier this month. In South Africa Bush
softened his rhetoric in appearances with President Thabo Mbeki and endorsed
the South African president's strategy of ''quiet diplomacy.''
It would be shortsighted of Bush to allow the Zimbabwe crisis to proceed at
its own pace. Zimbabweans have watched Mugabe run their country into the
ground and should not be permanently condemned to inferior living standards,
famine, and oppression.
Inaction would have huge consequences for the United States and the rest of
the international community because it would eventually require a greater
investment of emergency and development assistance. And if Zimbabwe's
opposition party, the Movement for Democratic Change, gets the message that
the United States is not playing an active role diplomatically, it may
decide that the only alternative is to take up armed struggle, which would
further set back the country.
The United States has a moral obligation and pragmatic reasons to invest
more political capital in Zimbabwe so it will not become another Congo or
This story ran on page A12 of the Boston Globe on 7/21/2003.
© Copyright 2003 Globe Newspaper Company.
BBC, Bulawayo, Zimbabwe
Comment from ZWNEWS, 21 July
Thomas Moyo is a troubled man.
He is a prominent MDC youth league leader in Bulawayo and was one of the radicals who mobilised Zimbabwean workers to stay at home during June's nationwide stayaway which paralysed industries.
When I met him recently on the outskirts of Bulawayo, he told me he was planning to leave Zimbabwe to seek political asylum in the United Kingdom, the former colonial power.
He says he is being monitored by agents of the Central Intelligence Organisation, the government agency blamed by human rights organisations for the disappearance of thousands of Ndebele people in the 1980s.
Thomas says he knows what government agents are capable of doing to him and does not want to take chances.
He says he now lives like a hunted animal in his own country. He is also facing employment problems, because according to him, pictures of him were distributed to different police stations during the presidential elections last year.
"Zanu-PF supporters have been telling companies that I am a dangerous person who is working with foreigners to overthrow the government," he said.
"I can't even get employed locally. That's why I have to leave to find a better life in Britain," he said.
He said he was sure he would be granted asylum by the British Government if he arrived in that country.
"I want to go and try my luck but I am sure they will give me the asylum because I am being persecuted by Mugabe's government," he said.
According to Thomas, Britain has a duty to bring the Mugabe government to its senses; it has been accused of human rights abuses and of ruining a once vibrant economy.
He says his sister who lives in London has agreed to pay for his air fare from Bulawayo to Britain.
Thomas plans to leave behind his wife and the one child they have while he tries to get asylum.
"I will be reunited with my wife and child once I am settled in Britain," he said. He said he would not leave his wife at home because he fears the police will harass her.
Mr Moyo's plight is exacerbated by a family connection to MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai.
Thomas's problems worsened last year when the police accused him of assisting many unaccredited foreign journalists with entering Zimbabwe illegally to cover the elections.
Thomas took journalists, most of them from the UK, to trouble spots around Matabeleland during the elections last year.
After the elections, police raided his home but he was not there.
He has earned the respect of senior MDC leaders in Matabeleland for his bravery as a youth leader and says he does not regret his involvement with the opposition.
"Freedom is around the corner for thousands of Zimbabweans who are suffering at the hands of the government."
Money for nothing
as the truism goes, is the result of too much money chasing too
few goods. Nothing new in that - Zimbabwe has had that problem for years. It
started with a bloated bureaucracy and ministeriat, larger than the country
could possibly afford. It got considerably worse with the payment of
unaffordable pensions and gratuities to war veterans, and then the
exorbitant, and equally unaffordable, cost of the military adventure in the
Congo. Inflation was due to too many people being paid to produce nothing,
too much money being handed out to keep the government's supporters sweet.
But the inflation problem of those days - (can it really be only three years
ago?) - seems entirely manageable when seen from the perspective of the
The acceleration in inflation over the last three years has
been caused by
the other side of the equation. For three years, the government has been
taking every opportunity to punish those who produce the goods and services
that everyone consumes. The previous problem was excess demand. We now have
the added dimension of reduced supply. Why are tourists visiting Zambia,
Botswana, South Africa and Mozambique, leaving Zimbabwe a tourist-free zone
in the middle of the doughnut? Why is one increasingly likely to find a
Zimbabwean doctor or nurse in a British or South African hospital? Why are
Zimbabwean teachers fleeing south? Why are Zimbabwean entrepreneurs,
including not a few previously vocal government supporters, setting up shop
anywhere else except Zimbabwe? Why is there no food?
The government finds a host of culprits for the lack of
essential goods on
the supermarket shelves and the collapse of essential services. It blames
currency speculators, the political opposition, the British, hoarders, the
drought - you name them. But can one honestly blame medical staff who prefer
to work in hospitals where there is medicine, where the equipment works, and
where people injured by the police are not denied treatment? Can one
seriously point a finger at a businessman who prefers not to operate in a
country where his enterprise is constantly at risk of attack by government
thugs? Are the government's usual suspects - foreigners and "unpatriotic"
Zimbabweans - really to blame for food scarcity, when the government has
made it quite clear that food production can only take place at a
subsistence level, if at all. And the simple reality is that tourists won't
visit a country where foreigners - and its own citizens - are constantly
vilified and attacked.
Much has been made in recent
days of the government pumping billions of
dollars of cash into the banking system, and its plan to print Z$1000 notes.
That will only push inflation higher. And, in the most damning indictment of
all, when the government is offered - at no cost - an increase in the supply
of food by the international aid agencies, it gets so tied up in covering up
its own lies that it cannot get a letter posted in time, with the result
that millions are condemned to another season of hunger, and worse. These
politicians, who are taking these disastrous decisions for everyone else,
are the same people who are so adept at looking after their own personal
finances, the same people who can negotiate their own way through the most
intricate of financial scams. They know what the solution is. The basic
truth is that in Zimbabwe people are paid to destroy, not to produce. The
rewards go to the thugs. And until that money-for-nothing culture is done
away with, truckloads of Z$1000 notes will make not one iota of difference.
Zimbabwe policeman withdrawn
By Barnaby Phillips
The United Nations peacekeeping mission in Kosovo says a
officer serving with it has been withdrawn from public duties because of
allegations that he was involved in torture whilst working in Harare.
But the United Nations says it cannot take any other action against the
The British-based organisation, Redress, which campaigns against torture,
says it has evidence that Detective-Inspector Henry Dowa, now serving with
the UN in Kosovo, has been involved in human rights abuses.
The allegations relate to incidents in Harare involving the use of electric
cables and severe beatings.
Numerous human rights groups have accused the Zimbabwean police of such
practices in recent years.
A spokesman for the UN mission in Kosovo told the BBC that in the light of
these allegations, Mr Dowa had been withdrawn from duties where he might
interact with the public, but he was still doing administrative work.
But the spokesman said no further action could be taken against Mr Dowa,
because he was not accused of committing any crimes whilst in Kosovo.
The spokesman also said the mission did not have the capacity to vet police
officers before they travelled to Kosovo.
Redress says this is not acceptable, and has written to the UN
Secretary-General Kofi Annan, saying Mr Dowa should be arrested and tried.
UN officials in New York told the BBC that a decision on this case is
Redress argues that if Mr Dowa were allowed to return to Zimbabwe, he would
be extremely unlikely to face prosecution, given the current political
A Zimbabwean police spokesman in Harare refused to comment when contacted by
MDC set to agree ‘safe exit’ for Mugabe
THE opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party is
believed to be considering agreeing to a “dignified and safe exit” from
power for President Robert Mugabe in a bid to break the political impasse
between the opposition party and the ruling ZANU PF party, the Daily News
Sources close to the opposition party said a meeting
of the MDC’s
national executive in Harare last Saturday had resolved among other things
that the party should not oppose a safe exit for Mugabe if that would
promote dialogue between Zimbabwe’s two main political parties that
collapsed last August.
“The move not to oppose a
dignified exit for Mugabe is being made so
that the issue of Mugabe does not become a stumbling block to dialogue to
resolve the wider crisis engulfing the nation,” said a source, who spoke on
condition he was not named.
The source said the opposition party’s executive had
adopted what it
termed a “Road Map to Peace” outlining the party’s proposals on how to end
According to the source,
the MDC plan provides for a dignified exit
for Mugabe and a transitional mechanism leading to free and fair elections.
party is said to have also assembled a team that would
lead talks with ZANU PF when and if they were resumed.
Dialogue broke down between
the two political foes when ZANU PF pulled
out in protest against the MDC’s decision to challenge at the High Court
Mugabe’s re-election last year.
MDC spokesman Paul Themba Nyathi yesterday said: “The MDC
everything in its power to conduct political activities in a spirit and
manner conducive to the promotion of dialogue.”
would not be drawn to disclose further details on what his
party was doing to resuscitate dialogue with ZANU PF.
emanating from government and ZANU PF circles
suggest that one of the key issues preventing Mugabe from stepping down was
his fear he could be prosecuted for human rights violations that may have
been committed during his 23-year rule.
South Africa President Thabo Mbeki last week
said talks between the
MDC and ZANU PF were under way but the two parties denied the development.
Churches to probe youth service
THE Zimbabwe Council of Churches (ZCC) says it is setting up a
committee to probe the government’s controversial national youth service
training programme which critics say has been used to train
“communist-style” youth militias for the ruling ZANU PF party.
ZCC president Sebastian Bakare
yesterday told the Daily News: “We just
want to know what they are being taught. We want to get hold of their
syllabus. The President (Robert Mugabe) is on record calling the church to
play its part in moulding disciplined youths.”
The ZCC, comprising most of the Protestant
denominations with the
Roman Catholic Church having observer status, is the largest grouping of
churches in Zimbabwe.
Bakare, who is a
bishop of the Anglican Church in Manicaland province,
did not say who comprised the ZCC’s probe committee or when the church team
was expected to start investigating the government’s national youth
Youth Development Minister Elliot Manyika,
under whose portfolio the
youth programme falls, could not be reached for comment on the matter by the
time of going to print last night.
Both the government and ZANU PF have in the past
rejected as false
allegations that the youth training programme was being used to train youth
brigades for ZANU PF.
Manyika has also
dismissed accusations by civic groups and the
opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) that the national youth
service graduates were committing violence and human rights abuses against
the government’s opponents.
The government says the national service programme
is meant to
inculcate nationalism and patriotism among Zimbabwe’s youths.
But human rights groups and government critics say the
been used to syphon state resources to fund the training of youth militias
for ZANU PF, who have unleashed violence, murder and rape against government
and ruling party opponents.
government summoned some of the youths to help crush MDC-organised
mass demonstrations at the beginning of last month.
Bakare, who said
the ZCC planned to meet Manyika as part of the probe,
had decided to investigate the youth programme because of allegations that
the youths were committing human rights violations.
He said: “As a council (of
the ZCC) we are very much concerned about
the increasing number of school leavers whose opportunities to ever find
jobs are extremely dim.
“They become easy victims of political patronage in search
recognition and financial rewards. The church is witnessing all this in
silence. Let’s condemn this practice.”
The government has
declared that all school leavers wishing to enrol
at state institutions of higher learning or those wishing to join the army,
police or the spy Central Intelligence Organisation should have undergone
its national youth service training programme.
By Precious Shumba
Exodus of lecturers throws UZ into crisis
AN EXODUS of lecturers over the past few years is threatening to
cripple teaching at the country’s biggest higher learning institution, the
University of Zimbabwe (UZ), the Daily News established yesterday.
hit by the shortage of teachers were the faculties of
medicine, arts, law,
social studies, science, agriculture and engineering, with
said to have left for higher paying jobs in the private sector or at foreign
universities in Britain, New Zealand and Canada.
Some of the faculties have already suspended several courses because
there are no lecturers to teach students.
Association of University
Teachers (AUT) secretary-general James
Mahlaule said: “The UZ operates with a maximum of about 1 400 lecturers but
right now we have less than 50 percent of lecturers remaining.
“The situation is pathetic, people are
resigning in their numbers.
Some are going overseas while others have joined industry. Most courses now
have part-time lecturers.”
Mahlaule said the AUT was planning to meet Higher and Tertiary
Education Ministry officials to make proposals on how conditions at state
universities could be improved in order to retain staff at these
institutions. He did not say when the meeting would take place.
The AUT official said:
“Right now, we are meeting in Gweru as AUT
members from all state universities. We want to come up with a position on
our conditions of service and salaries.
“We will make our recommendations to the Ministry
of Higher and
Tertiary Education because we feel there are a lot of issues that lecturers
want addressed as a matter of urgency.”
of underfunding and in some cases mismanagement have seen
conditions for teachers and students at the UZ plummet.
Lecturers have in the
past staged work stoppages to press for improved
working conditions and higher salaries, while student riots for better
learning conditions have almost become routine at the UZ.
“This is no longer a secret
that we have a crisis waiting to explode.
The very few men and women who are here are just waiting for their chance to
leave like everyone else,” said one lecturer, who spoke on condition he was
Suspicion stifles debate on Mugabe successor
WHEN President Robert Mugabe in April finally gave followers of his
ruling ZANU PF party “permission” to start debate on his successor, he urged
them to do so openly, but observers say fear and hanging suspicions about
whether Mugabe can be trusted on his word have stifled meaningful debate.
Three months down the line, nearly all the
leading candidates in the
ruling party viewed as possible replacements to Mugabe appear only prepared
to outdo each other in denying having ambition to become president of ZANU
PF and possibly the country.
former party legal secretary Eddison Zvobgo, who at the moment is
somewhat estranged from the party, openly declared wanting to be president.
But even then, the outspoken Zvobgo was at pains to
emphasise he would
never challenge Mugabe for the presidency saying he would throw in his hat
for the top job only in the event Mugabe no longer wanted to be president.
Human rights activist and political commentator
Lovemore Madhuku said
none in ZANU PF would dare openly admit they harbour presidential
aspirations for fear of how such ambitions have been ruthlessly suppressed
in the past.
And even more discouraging to
presidential hopefuls, there was little
or no evidence on the ground to suggest that Mugabe indeed wanted to leave
power, Madhuku said.
Zvobgo, who for years has indicated he wanted to succeed
been sidelined from the government and party.
founding member of ZANU PF, Zvobgo has been summoned before the
party’s disciplinary committee on charges that he refused to campaign for
Mugabe in last year’s presidential election.
He could be expelled from the party if found guilty.
Former ZANU PF secretary-general
Edgar Tekere, was expelled from the
party in 1989 for opposing ZANU PF plans to impose a one-party system.
Madhuku said: “Except for Eddison
Zvobgo, nobody in Zanu PF has come
out in the open about wanting to succeed Mugabe because they know that their
party is run on a brutal repression of opposing views.
“Although Mugabe gave the people in Zanu PF the
blessings to debate
the succession issue, those in the inner circle know how things are done and
that is why they are afraid to come out in the open.
“Besides, there is no evidence that Mugabe is going. The
not be convinced that Mugabe is going and that is why they are cautious with
First to plead not guilty
of having aspirations to become president
was the powerful Speaker of Zimbabwe’s Parliament, Emmerson Mnangagwa.
A longtime Mugabe
confidante, who is also widely believed to be the
ageing leader’s preferred choice of successor, Mnangagwa told the
state-controlled Herald newspaper that he was “as soft as wool” to become
perceived potential candidate to succeed Mugabe, John Nkomo,
who as national chairman of ZANU PF is already in the party’s four-men
presidium, dismissed the question of whether he desired the party and
possibly country’s highest job as “merely academic”.
Former Home Affairs Minister and ZANU
PF central committee member
Dumiso Dabengwa also gave a muffled response to questions whether he would
want to replace Mugabe saying he would consider taking the job only if
approached by the people.
ZANU PF party stalwart Didymus Mutasa said he would rather
aspire for the vice-presidency rather than the top seat.
Vice-President in ZANU PF and the government Joseph Msika,
who because of his age is clearly out of the race to succeed Mugabe, was the
only other person to openly admit he wanted to take over his boss’ job.
governor of Matabeleland North province Welshman Mabhena, said
far from a desire to appear not too greedy for power, Mugabe’s lieutenants,
who were denying ambition to succeed him were doing so out of fear of what
might befall them if they make their intentions known.
He said: “Mugabe wants to expose those who want his job so that they
can be dealt with. That is why many people in Zanu PF are making sure they
don’t declare their intentions.” The only leader Zimbabwe has ever known in
23 years, Mugabe, 79, is an unpredictable political schemer. The
co-ordinator of Crisis in Zimbabwe, which seeks a democratic solution to the
country’s political and economic crisis, Brian Kagoro, said claims by Mugabe
’s followers that they did not want his job was mere posturing because they
all knew that it was Mugabe ultimately who would decide who takes over from
him. Kagoro said: “It is mere posturing. They all want the president’s job
but they are not saying much because they know that ultimately, Mugabe will
decide who succeeds him as leader of Zanu PF.” By Foster Dongozi Features
Are we going to waste another growing season?
IN February 2000 there was a referendum in which the
Zimbabwe said “No”, they were not going to accept a new constitution which
had been tampered with by a government-appointed commission.
A constitution which allowed a president to stand
for a maximum of two
five-year terms but did not apply retrospectively and would allow President
Robert Mugabe the right to hold office for an additional 10 years.
A constitution which included an
amendment, by Special Gazette, which
would enable the government to seize land without consultation and make
Britain responsible for paying compensation.
The people of Zimbabwe said “No” to those things.
Our wishes were
ignored, yet more amendments were made to the Lancaster House Constitution
and all the things we did not want are now part of our lives.
In February 2000, a loaf of bread cost $8 and a litre of
In February 2000, there was fuel at the
filling stations, maize-meal,
flour, sugar and cooking oil on the shelves and about 400 000 people growing
food to feed the nation.
utter stupidity to keep saying that just four-and-a-half
thousand white people grew our food, they didn’t do it without almost half a
In February 2000, Zimbabwe had many friends supporting
including Canada, America, England, Australia and a number in Europe.
Mugabe surrounded himself with a combination of loyal
old mates and
men with degrees and doctorates and led us into what is now called an
Two-hundred and fifty
people have died violent deaths in this
Zimbabwean Renaissance, three million have fled the country and over seven
million were kept alive by emergency world food aid last year.
It is now three years and five months
since ZANU PF’s Agricultural
Revolution began. In 2003, the price of a loaf of bread is $1 000 and a
litre of milk almost the same.
2003, there is no fuel at any service station, no sugar, flour,
maize-meal or cooking oil on our shelves, no spare parts for machinery and
no money in the banks.
In 2003, all our worldly friends have cut us off and now
are Libya, Malaysia and China.
In less than 90
days, Zimbabwe will enter another growing season. This
winter the frost has lain in thick white carpets on the ground and we used
to always say that a cold winter meant a good rainy season.
I am left asking myself
the same question that I posed this time last
year: are Zimbabweans really going to allow yet another growing season go to
waste for the sake of political power?
Everywhere you go and everyone you meet, the
talk is about if it is
true that Mugabe will step down at the annual ZANU PF congress in
November/December this year.
People talk about
successors and transitional governments, handing
over power, restoring legitimacy and new elections.
Why is no one talking about what
will happen long before that, when in
90 days’ time our skies are filled with rain and yet our soils remain
barren, deserted and unplanted?
Mugabe went to Nigeria
tell the African-Americans that Zimbabwe abides by the
rule of law, respects the wishes of its people and will not go back on its
Agricultural Revolution. He did not say that a loaf of bread is now $1 000
and too expensive for even the middle class in the country to afford. He did
not say that over five million people will need emergency world food in the
coming year or that the number in need had dropped from last year because
people are emigrating in huge numbers and over 3 500 people are dying from
AIDS every week. He did not say that less than half the usual wheat crop was
grown this winter or that maize yields have dropped to just 800 000 tonnes
in 2003. He did not explain why his government should have made a written
request to the World Food Programme for emergency assistance in May but by
the middle of July had still not done so. For three years and five months,
every aspect of our lives in Zimbabwe has been dictated and dominated by
politics – even something so simple as buying a litre of petrol for our cars
or a bag of maize-meal for supper. What makes us think that even with a good
rainy season this year anything will change? If a loaf of bread has now
become a luxury which only the elite can afford, why do we think that the
participants and beneficiaries in our government’s Agricultural Revolution
will be able to afford to buy the seed and fertiliser needed to grow our
food for the months ahead? ZANU PF continues to tell us that hundreds of
thousands of landless peasants are now on the most productive land in the
country. It does not take a degree or even a grade seven education to know
that a peasant will not be able to afford even one bag of seed maize this
year, let alone electricity for irrigation, herbicides, pesticides and
fertiliser. Are we really going to waste another growing season and if so,
how much are we prepared to pay for a loaf of bread this time next year –
perhaps $5 000?
By Cathy Buckle
Cathy Buckle writes on social and political
How low we have sunk
REPORTS that police last week arrested two mortuary workers at
Chitungwiza General Hospital on charges that they rented out corpses to
motorists to enable them to take advantage of special fuel preferences given
to hearses at fuel stations are the clearest example yet of how low this
once proud and prosperous nation has fallen.
Police accuse the Chitungwiza hospital mortician and
his assistant of
running a racket under which they sold fake burial orders to motorists who
then took the corpses and transported them to service stations.
With the illegally obtained corpses the motorist were
able to jump
long queues at garages to fill up their tanks after which they would smuggle
the dead bodies back to the mortuary.
any society, even one as corrupt and as desperate as Zimbabwe
has become under President Robert Mugabe and his ruling ZANU PF’s
stewardship, is a matter usually regarded with profound respect if not fear.
there could be a black market emerging in this country where dead
bodies are sold and bought so that people can parade them at garages in
order to get petrol or diesel is a damning indictment against the
government, that is of course if there is anyone in the government who cares
And that revelations of this cultural and
religious abomination should
surface so soon after Mugabe returned from Libya where we were told he had
successfully sweet-talked Muammar Gaddafi to resume fuel supplies to
Zimbabwe should surely cause Mugabe to pose and do some serious
Zimbabweans need to know: where is
the fuel that the government
promised would be coming from Libya?
But then Mugabe and his government have a terribly poor
record when it
comes to keeping their word, which is exactly the chief reason why this
country is in this mess.
Instead of thorough,
well-thought-out and efficiently executed
economic and social recovery programmes, the government somehow appears
convinced it can simply talk away the myriad problems that its ruinous
policies have plunged this country into.
For example, international food aid agencies could not
mobilising food relief for starving Zimbabweans for the 2003/2004 period
because the government would not do the simple thing of just providing a
clear proposal to donors stating how much food was required, over what
period and to feed how many people.
Until last week all
that the government had reportedly done was to
send a vague message to donor groups asking them to continue with food
relief operations although it should be known, even by the government, that
international donors will only provide aid on the basis of a formal and
properly detailed appeal for help.
Needless to say that the food crisis itself is largely
because of the
government’s chaotic and often violent land reforms that have all but
destroyed the country’s ability to feed itself.
Zimbabweans will, beginning this week, be getting paid but there
will be no cash at the banks.
As with the fuel crisis, the government and
its central Reserve Bank
of Zimbabwe have, apart from making several announcements promising to
inject fresh cash into the banking system, not done enough to end a shortage
of local currency gripping the country for the last three months.
But the ball is really in the court of ordinary Zimbabweans.
They could choose to sit back and forever
lament over the government’s
many broken promises.
could rise in accordance with their democratic and
constitutional rights and demand that the government deliver on its promises
or show it the way out.
$1 000 note on the way
Zimbabwe is printing a $1 000 note for the first time as the country
’s economy implodes.
And in a related development, economists predict that Zimbabwe’s
crippling inflation rate could rocket to 1 000 percent by the end of the
In a bid to alleviate the shortage of bank
notes, the government on
Friday injected $12 billion into the dry financial system. This brought the
amount of printed money recently introduced into the banking sector to $24
Finance Minister Herbert
Murerwa last week confirmed the move, saying
it would stem the worsening shortage of cash in banks. Last week some banks
were unable to issue paper money to depositors as they had no money.
Murerwa also said
that the government would soon introduce the $1 000
bill to reduce the large amounts of money that people need to carry on them
to pay for goods and services. The highest currency denomination is
currently the $500 note.
The printing of bank notes and the accelerated money
supply will add
fuel to Zimbabwe’s galloping inflation.
business reeled under ever-increasing prices, four bakeries were
fined last week for doubling the black market price of bread from $550 to $1
000 without government approval. The government-controlled wholesale price
of bread is $225, while a retail loaf is fixed at $250.
This dramatic bread
price increase was precipitated by a rise of more
than 1 000 percent in the state-run Grain Marketing Board’s selling price of
wheat. The board increased the wheat price more than twelve times, from $30
000 to $366 584 a tonne.
This forced millers to increase the price of flour
$102 000 to $870 000 a tonne. Bakers responded by almost doubling the
unofficial price of bread.
of Zimbabwe chairman Armitage Chikwavira said the
bread price increases were necessary to ensure the viability of bakeries
currently teetering on the brink of collapse.
“The problem is that government has kept
price controls on bread and
other goods,” he said. “The bakers have two options . . . the first being to
stop production altogether if they can’t pass on the increase to their
consumers, or continuing to produce and charging higher than the gazetted
government last week reacted by fining four leading
bakeries $20 million collectively for flouting the price freezes. The
government has also launched clampdowns on retail shops selling basic
commodities and other goods at above the official prices.
Zimbabwe’s inflation rate last week surged
to 364.5 percent. But
economists say the real rate of inflation is currently above 400 percent,
because the official one is calculated on the basis of the controlled price
index, which does not apply on the informal market, where most goods are
About 70 percent of Zimbabweans live
below the global poverty line of
less than US$1 (Z$824) per day. With inflation skyrocketing, Zimbabwe’s
current critical shortage of basic foodstuffs is set to worsen.
– Sunday Times (South Africa)
What meetings when councillors are beaten up?
You published an interesting notice informing Harare residents of
proposed hikes in rates and services.
last paragraph, the acting Town Clerk invited written
objections by 21 July, thus implying that the scale of proposed new rates
may be reviewed downwards if a majority of residents was not happy.
It should be noted
that residents’ associations have suggested that
the municipality vigorously collects all money owing, including very large
amounts owed by government first.
The mayor announced that all residents should be
consulted. By whom?
Residents do not see very much of their councillors. One councillor
may still be recovering from government-initiated beatings while others are
too afraid to speak out. Many residents think that councillors could find
ways of meeting residents other than calling public meetings.
The facts are that many, many
residents only have heard about a rates
hike and have no idea whether they can do anything about it nor how.
I believe that the
authorities must take the prevailing Zimbabwean
circumstances into consideration before they send out very large bills at
the end of this month.
I am referring, in particular, to very poor residential
house owners have no chance at all of meeting them.
In the beginning, these woes derive very directly from
economic mismanagement by the ZANU PF government.
Zimbabwe: stumbling block to regional potential
It rises in northern Zambia, runs over the Angolan border before
growing and then running back down the continent and through western Zambia.
Just north of the Caprivi Strip, it meets the
edge of an enormous
basalt shelf, created thousands of years ago in a huge volcanic spill.
After running over the basalt shelf for a
hundred kilometres, it falls
into the devil’s gorge in one of the most spectacular waterfalls in the
world – the Victoria Falls.
Then it changes character and winds its way through deep gorges cut
through the basalt shelf and across the harsh landscape of the African bush.
Breaking out into the open once more, it forms one of the
man-made lakes in the world, Kariba, before plunging through narrow tunnels
into turbines that supply regional economies with some of the cheapest and
cleanest energy on earth.
Then again it is deep
gorges and wild hills until it spills out into a
valley so wide and flat that it looks like its own universe.
Other great rivers, the Kafue
and the Luangwa, then join it, before it
spills over into another huge man-made lake – Cahora Bassa – behind another,
even bigger hydroelectric dam.
From the confines of this wall, the water jets out over
valley below and then the final run to the Indian Ocean where it turns the
salt water fresh for 160 kilometres.
It is the
Zambezi River and it’s the one bit of the Clinton safari to
Africa that George Bush did not emulate. It is a pity, because for many
reasons, the Zambezi valley epitomises the nature of Africa and symbolically
represents the future of the continent with all its potential – both for
good and for evil.
The river rises in the heart of Africa, the Great Lakes
like the Nile and the Congo River. It flows across half the continent and
joins six African countries in a common interest, which will not allow them
to ignore each other in the longer-term.
carries the potential for power generation which, when married to
the natural resources of the sub-continent, will create an industrial
powerhouse which will drive regional economies and lift living standards, as
demonstrated in Maputo where a single investment in aluminum has doubled the
GDP of that nation.
It holds the key to the longer-term growth of South
industrial heartland, which will be strangled by shortages of water in the
next decade or more.
It will give the trans-Zambezi
countries real leverage over the region
’s most powerful country.
It is custodian to the greatest concentration of
wildlife in the
world. Fully 80 percent of all the wildlife resources of the African
continent are found in its watershed.
are close to extinction and the threats of bad governance
and corruption are as real to these African inhabitants as any bandit
soldier fighting in the bush wars of the Congo or the Sudan.
For those of us who chose
to stay and fight for a just and better
future for all the people of the region, the Zambezi epitomises why we are
Zimbabwean how he feels when he gets to the top of the Zambezi
escarpment and looks across the wild bushveld below. He will go quiet and
On the valley floor, you can see
concentrations of wildlife in
surroundings that have not changed for thousands of years. The bush is
different from the flora of any other place on earth – wild, tough, and
As you approach the
river, the bush thickens and then you suddenly see
it – wide, flowing strongly and clean. It’s a sight that one never forgets
and at every turn it is different – from the great flood plains in
Barotseland, in Zambia, to the vast swamps in the Caprivi where the game
fishing in the swiftly flowing channels of the river is unlike anything
anywhere else on the globe.
Draining first into the Chobe, at the heart of the
area in the region, the Chobe spills into the Zambezi mainstream and causes
a flood of water in April/June which gives the Victoria Falls its status as
one of the wonders of the world.
In the gorges below the Falls, the white water is the best and cannot
be bettered anywhere. The Kariba Dam is home to hundreds of boats of all
sizes and the largest game fishing competition in the world. It is a great
place to get away from it all when you can. The Kafue and Luangwa valleys
with their own river systems empty into the Zambezi and are home to wildlife
areas and vast economic potential. Cahora Bassa is already a major regional
powerhouse, with more to come, and holds out the possibility of downstream
barrages which will supply the whole region with clean sustainable energy to
drive its machines and furnaces. Just look at the potential of the region
that forms the basin of the Zambezi River: The chrome and platinum resources
on which the whole world will depend for the next millennium and maybe
beyond. The copper resources and the other minerals that the region is rich
in. The vast irrigation potential and the potential for expanding industrial
production based on low-cost power. Already South Africa is showing the way
with its state-of-the-art motor plants and steel industry. Then the
potential for tourism. South Africa will receive 10 million visitors this
year without the benefit of this outstanding tourist attraction. With it
being included on the tourist map, many more millions could be persuaded to
come to the region. We have everything to offer – a wonderful climate, blue
skies 350 days a year and phenomenal wilderness attractions. Everything from
white water rafting to game fishing and big game experiences that make Kenya
and Tanzania look like zoos. An infrastructure that is safe, comfortable,
often luxurious and inexpensive. Our lodges are to be experienced and our
wilderness services exceptional. Slowly the region is taking up its position
at the starting line for all this potential. South Africa is out of its
apartheid trap and now ready to go in every way. Botswana is doing well –
could do better – and Zambia is slowly getting back on its feet after
Kenneth Kaunda. Mozambique is beginning to look like a winner. All are
trying harder and the world is anxious to help in every way possible. The
one rotten apple is Zimbabwe. Strange that the one state that everyone said
had the greatest potential in Africa 10 years ago is now the main obstacle
to progress in this vital region. It is bad governance in Zimbabwe,
associated with the collapse of democratic practice and runaway corruption
and widespread human rights abuse, that is the one remaining big rock in the
way of progress in the trans-Zambezi region. Unlocking the potential of the
region depends on those who have the responsibility to remove the rock from
the river. It’s now quite clear who the point man is in that exercise. The
question is: will he, can he do the job so that the rest of us can get on
and do ours? The future of all the inhabitants of the Zambezi River basin
(human and wild) depends on it. And George, if he does do it, and soon, you
can come back for the party and see the Zambezi valley for yourself.
By Eddie Cross
EddieCross is an economic adviser for the Movement for Democratic Change.