|The ZIMBABWE Situation||Our
thoughts and prayers are with Zimbabwe |
- may peace, truth and justice prevail.
Riot police storm bank
By Lawrence Paganga
RIOT police had
to be summoned yesterday to help disperse hundreds of
clients who were refusing to leave a Beverly Building Society banking
hall in central Harare unless they were served.
Police in riot gear stormed Beverly's First Street branch and forcibly
drove out clients who were still packed in the banking hall well after
closing time at 4 pm.
The clients, who as early as six o'clock in the morning had formed a
long queue at the bank hoping to be able to withdraw cash which is in
short supply at all banks, had refused to leave the bank unless they
were allowed to withdraw money.
The bank's officials had allegedly called in the police to come and
help remove the clients from the banking hall.
Beverly's Assistant General Manager responsible for banking operations
Enock Moyo confirmed the society was short of cash like most other
financial institutions across the country but he would not comment
about yesterday's incident saying he had not been briefed about it
Moyo said: "But I can confirm that we have had some problems in
managing the queues at our branches since the shortage of money
Police spokesman Wayne Bvudzijena could not be reached for comment on
the matter by the time of going to print last night.
One Beverly client who spoke to The Daily News after escaping the
police assault said he had been waiting in the queue with other
clients when bank workers told them to leave because it was closing
The man, who spoke on condition he was not named, said a short while
after the unsuccessful attempt by bank officials to remove them from
the hall, police in riot gear arrived at the bank and told people to
leave before assaulting them.
He said: "The people were insisting on being served but the Beverly
Building Society workers were saying it was closing time and they
would not serve anyone.
"We had been in the queue since morning and no one was willing to go
without being served.
"After waiting for sometime we were surprised to see armed police
officers storming into the bank and ordering every one to leave before
they started assaulting us," the man said.
Zimbabwe, which is grappling with its worst economic crisis since
independence from Britain 23 years ago, has run short of its own
Zimbabwe dollar currency because the central Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe
does not have foreign currency to pay for the special paper and ink it
needs to print money.
Meanwhile, inflation - pegged at an all-time high of 300 percent and
expected to reach 500 percent before year-end - is pushing demand for
The RBZ last week said it had injected $4 billion into the market to
alleviate the shortage.
The central bank said it would issue an additional $8 billion by
mid-July, while a further $12 billion would be injected into the
market at the beginning of August.
Don't try to beat them at their own game
The English writer Hilaire Belloc once wrote in a comic poem about a
rich man who tried to mend an electric light instead of calling an
It struck him dead, and served him right It is the job of the moneyed
man To give employment to the artisan.
implying that if he had left the job to an electrician, it would have
been done well, with nobody hurt.
There is a lesson there for all of us. You and I can probably make
simple repairs to the electric light, but there a lot of jobs we can't
do for ourselves. In those we should never try to compete with the
experts or take over their jobs.
Think of those people who don't trust the doctors or hospitals. They
go to them when they are sick, but then they will go somewhere else,
maybe because they don't like the treatment, or they don't take the
full course of medicine because they feel better before it is
finished, even if they were told strictly to take it all, for example,
three times a day for a full week.
Of course, some can't afford the medicines and they suffer just the
same. A lot of these people seem to think they know better than the
experts. If they do think that, they only have themselves to blame
when the treatment doesn't work.
They brought the trouble on themselves.
There a lot of experts in this world, from the bicycle repairman at
the corner of your road to the rocket scientist at Cape Canaveral.
If anyone without their experience or training tries to beat them at
their own trade, he will come off worse.
Sometimes that doesn't matter very much, but sometimes you can suffer
a lot for that kind of recklessness.
A very important example facing all of us at the present is the
political party with degrees in violence. When they say they have
those, they aren't kidding. Look at the ualifications of their members
and supporters: the army and air force. Their job is a violent one at
the best of times, so they are trained for it.
Since their commander declared he would not support a president who
had not been in the Second Chimurenga, a lot of them have concluded
that all of us voters are their enemies.
The police. Even in good times they also have to be able to deal with
violence, so they have been trained for that and they've been making a
lot of every chance they had recently to practice their skills - and
some skills that Scotland Yard men would not use.
The "war veterans". Some of them are real war veterans, trained and
experienced in the war for independence. Even those who weren't active
in that have gained a lot of experience since the referendum in 2000.
The Green Bombers. They may not have degrees, but their Border Gezi
diplomas in murder, torture and rape and their experience in
practising these dubious skills make them formidable.
So, even if you have been to the same university they went to, there
aren't enough of you to beat them at what they are best at.
They've had plenty of practice because they don't know much else. Look
how little they know about economics. Don't try to beat them at their
own game. Try to get them to play one you are better at.
Make no mistake about it, they are trying to make us play their game,
but there are many other games we could play. We can't beat them at
using guns, whips and other instruments of torture, but laughter is a
weapon they don't know much about.
Try laughing at them. I haven't met one yet who has a sense of humour,
so we have the advantage there. I know that a lot of what they do is
not very funny, but look at what they say.
They say: "Resist organised mass violence" while they organise all the
mass violence we see. Some of us should be able to laugh at that idea.
They say: "Don't pay for their illegal stayaway." Whose stayaway? I
thought it was ours.
"Illegal?" Who are they to talk about illegality when they give us a
number of illegal MPs and illegally try to stop our elected mayors
doing their job?
"Don't pay" what with? Do any of us have any money? There must be a
few laughs to be found in this.
And what would happen if every time their radio or TV sings Rambai
makashinga at us, we were all to laugh and say Ndizvozvo,
ngatishingirire kuzvisunungura? They said it first. Laughing is no
crime. They can't object to our repeating their slogan.
All this may assume they are logical. If they show again in the only
way they know that they aren't logical and that they don't have a
sense of humour, well, we've suffered enough already. We can take a
bit more of that, but they can't kill us all.
Think on that.
Magari Mandebvu is a social and political commentator
'Make no mistake about it, they are trying to make us play their game,
but there are many other games we could play. We can't beat them at
using guns, whips and other instruments of torture, but laughter is a
weapon they don't know much about'
By Magari Mandebvu
Political will, not military intervention, is the way
By Eddie Cross
Debate is raging elsewhere in the world about the justification for
the United States, United Kingdom and Australia going in to remove a
rogue regime in Iraq.
Was terrorism an adequate justification for military intervention?
Whatever the outcome, I want to argue that it was also justified to
take this action on the grounds that the regime in Iraq was abusing
its power and position and that the welfare of the people of Iraq was,
on its own, adequate justification for intervention.
Last week, Australia sent troops and police to the Solomon Islands -
arguing that the state of affairs there justifies this abuse of the
sovereignty of this small Pacific State.
Here in Africa, after several years of savage tribal killings, the
United Kingdom sent in troops to sort out the situation in Sierra
Leone. French special forces are right now in eastern Congo trying to
put a stop to the genocide there.
Where does this principle end in its application?
I think we have to be very careful about extending the justification
for intervention in the "internal affairs of other nations", but at
the same time we need to count the cost of such restraint for the
people affected by these rogue regimes - and there are plenty of them!
If we look at the chaos in the Congo as just as one example, some 3.5
million people have died there in the past six years - more than in
all the other conflicts in the rest of the world combined.
But in addition, billions have been stolen from the riches of the
Congo, tens of millions of children will never reach their potential
as adults because of malnutrition and the total collapse of the
education system in that country.
For the great majority of Congolese, life is a constant round of
hunger, hopelessness and fear.
Add to this sorry tale the situation in the Horn of Africa where
conflicts rage on, some tribal, others racial and still others
religious. The conflicts in the West African region are no less of
concern, if more recent and the simple fact that this area of
comparative stability is now in the process of imploding in civil wars
must be of concern.
Then we look outside Africa and we see Burma - 40 years of military
rule, Cambodia with the genocide of the 70s, the continuing problems
in the Middle East.
The cost of these conflicts in human terms is enormous - perhaps they
could be minimised by forms of military intervention when all other
forms of persuasion and force have been used?
Here in Zimbabwe we need to sit down and count the cost of the past
five years of President Robert Mugabe's mismanagement of the economy
and our social services sector.
The record is quite staggering: Incomes have halved in real terms,
life expectancy is down 22 years in a decade, and two-thirds of all
girls of school-going age are not in school.
Hunger and poverty are the norm for 80 percent of the population who
live every day on the edge of starvation and death.
Three million people have fled the country as economic refugees while
the numbers of political refugees rises daily.
Over 500 000 people have lost their jobs, the GDP has fallen by nearly
40 percent. Inflation has wiped out a 100 years of savings; pensioners
are economic prisoners on starvation diets.
Three-thousand people died in the World Trade Centre collapse, that
many people die every two days in Zimbabwe. Last year, some seven
million people were judged by the United Nations to be a risk of
starvation if they were not fed at the taxpayers' expense by the
global community who poured in US$1 million (Z$824 million) a day in
The majority of all children is malnourished and will never reach
their potential. Sixty percent of their mothers are HIV positive and
condemned to a life of hardship and suffering with no chance of
medical assistance or even a decent diet.
In the region as a whole, the cost of the Mugabe regime to
neighbouring states has been equally staggering - billions of dollars
have fled the region in search of a safer haven, billions more have
been diverted away from potential investments.
Hundreds of thousands of jobs have been lost or not created as a
result. Living standards are not rising as fast as they should be and
social services are in a serious state throughout the region.
With the HIV/Aids pandemic reaching its zenith in southern Africa as a
whole, some 10 million adults are infected, conditions for the spread
of the disease are in fact worsening, compounded by insecurity,
homelessness, migratory labour, poor education and declining incomes.
We are the hothouses of HIV in the world and our migrants are making
sure the rest of the world suffers with us!
When does intervention become justified? When is the cost of a rogue
regime too much to bear? Have we got to that point in Zimbabwe? Do we
allow this situation to play itself out or does someone intervene? If
These are all questions that we have to answer for ourselves.
To me, however, there are other considerations when it comes to
We are not yet a "failed state". We can still operate a government, a
legal system, and an indigenous economy, which despite all the
problems, continues to show enormous resilience.
We have a well-organised and disciplined army and the nucleus of a
good police force on which we can rebuild what we once had.
We do not yet have a civil war running - people are fighting their
battles with words and not with guns. The people want a peaceful,
democratic change of government.
We have a vibrant, powerful and principled opposition movement that
also wants change via the ballot box and not any other way.
We are landlocked and dependent on others for access to the sea and
for basic services and energy needs. We are vulnerable to pressure.
The world community has many different forms of force which can be
used in our situation - they do not have to use armed force, and this
is not even desirable or called for in our situation. There may be
nothing else that will work elsewhere.
What is needed here is the political will to use the means of coercion
that are available to get the parties to the table. In this respect,
American Secretary of State Colin Powell was spot-on when he targeted
regional leaders as being in the best position to do this and to
exercise the required muscle.
I was one of those who watched Rhodesia slide into civil war and chaos
and who despaired that Ian Smith would ever accept that he could not
win the war and should settle while he had some strength.
I will always remember watching him on 26 September, 1976, accepting
majority rule and a transition to democracy. What did it take? A cup
of coffee in Pretoria. It saved this country from the scorched earth
policies of the hard-liners; it gave the people of this country relief
from years of conflict and racial discrimination. It's time to do it
Eddie Cross is economic adviser to the opposition Movement for
Future generations have nowhere to turn for land
I decided to take my usual beer at Chegutu Hotel after I finishing my
work. I was going to drive 108 kilometres to my base in Harare. A case
of drinking and driving. I joined a discussion about land, how people
are getting land and how some are having a rough time.
The discussing group was composed of me, a councillor and a member of
a land committee in the Chegutu area. We were joined by another
The councillor talked of a woman who was threatening to go to Peter
Chanetsa, the governor, after she complained that a lot of people were
coming to her plot caiming ownership, a case of multiple ownership of
one piece of land as said by Enos Chikowore the other day. The
councilor said he had advised the woman not to involve the governor,
but to talk to him nicely for another piece of land.
I then asked the councillor and the committee member that since they
were parcelling out pockets of land to people now and were now
fighting for title deeds to these pieces of land, what was going to
happen to the children of those who did not get land.
Say I did not invade a farm, I did not register for a farm and I am
not worried about having one, and along the way, I die, my wife dies
and my children think they want a piece of land, how is this going to
The councillor said it was "tough luck" for those who found themselves
in such a situation.
So what transpired from this discussion was that if people do not get
land now, their children will remain landless. Long ago, we could go
to a chief and ask for a place to build a home and farm. The chief or
headman would look for a free piece of land and give it to you.
It did not matter whether your father had a piece of land or not. Now
with all land parcelled out to individuals, title deeds given, then no
one will provide land to those who did not get land in the first
This is how Zanu PF is trying to alienate a lot of people. Smith after
finding that some districts are overpopulated, transplanted a chief
and his subjects to another place, an example is the Gokwe scenario.
He took Chief Jiri from Bikita to Gokwe with his whole people and they
became successful maize and cottom farmers there.
AFTER the chaos that marred the last two national elections,
disturbing to learn that the government is forging ahead with
preparations to stage the next parliamentary ballot using exactly the
same rigged laws and institutions which predetermined the results of
Everyone but the government knows that Zimbabweans have made clear
they no longer want elections to be conducted by the discredited
Registrar-General's Office and that amendments to the Constitution
must be made urgently to create an even playing field for all
Instead of doing this when there is still time, Justice Minister
Patrick Chinamasa has gone on record to say the Registrar-General's
Office, which is wholly controlled by a notoriously partisan
government, is moving ahead to register voters and make other
preparations for the 2005 parliamentary elections.
No, we cannot have this travesty of justice and a mockery of the
people's vote once more.
After all, it is this charade of staging elections which has triggered
the latest crisis to trouble Zimbabwe - the question marks that are
being asked over the legitimacy of the government born out of the 2002
Whether the government likes it or not, the time has come for it to
submit to the people's demands: Zimbabweans want nothing but a truly
independent electoral commission to run all national elections and a
purge of all statutes which favour the ruling ZANU PF party in these
Indeed, there is an increasing realisation that the government cannot
be trusted to stage free and fair elections, hence the imperative need
for any future parliamentary and presidential vote to be supervised by
the international community.
Nothing else will do.
We can hear ZANU PF's hardliners and cronies yelling out that they
will not tolerate such an arrangement because it will subvert Zimbabwe
's sovereignty - their constant refrain to mask their unmitigated
looting of the country - but there is no other way forward.
Indeed, any further delay to willingly embark on these crucial
constitutional amendments to put Zimbabwe's house in order - so to
speak - plays into the hands of hardliners within and outside the
country who are increasingly advocating more radical steps to rescue
So the ball is firmly in the government's court either to rapidly get
its act together over this issue or risk the radical measures that are
looming on the horizon.
While Zimbabweans know only too well ZANU PF's penchant for doing
wrong things almost always, there is a limit to which even a desperate
party such as this one can go to test the people's thinning patience.
As well as the constitutional amendments, which must now also limit
the presidential stint to a maximum two terms, the time has come for
all political parties to agree fair and just electoral modalities and
rules which must create a level-playing field for all in any ballot.
These rules must include clear guidelines which must be followed by
the powerful state broadcaster and security forces before, during and
after such polls, with heavy penalties being imposed on anyone who
violates the rules.
Balloting must be conducted in one day only, with the counting of the
ballots starting and ending the same day and the results of each
polling station being announced publicly at that station to prevent
the vote-rigging of the past.
Independent local and international monitors must be allowed total
freedom to check on any aspect of polling and, where necessary,
recommend immediate remedial action to be taken by the independent
electoral commission, whose decision can only be appealed against in
the courts. Polling agents of all contesting parties must be present
during balloting and counting, or the vote from that polling station
must be excluded from the national count.
The registration of voters must be handled solely by the independent
electoral commission, which should have a budget of its own approved
by Parliament, and all ballot boxes must be translucent, again to
EU inspection team visits Zimbabwe
AN INSPECTION team from the European Union (EU) last week toured
Zimbabwe to assess the country's compliance with the regulations and
standards on the processing of crocodile, fish and ostrich meat for
export to the European market, an official from the Department of
Veterinary Services (DVS) said yesterday.
The EU team also examined on-going efforts by Zimbabwe's livestock
authorities to combat the food-and-mouth (FMD) disease in the country.
The official said: "The group, which left the country at the weekend,
was monitoring the country's adherence to EU regulations pertaining to
the import of crocodile, fish and ostrich exports into Europe from
third world countries.
"However, the Department of Veterinary Services will get to know of
the EU findings after the delegation compiles a report on the visit."
Zimbabwe exports various meat products to the giant EU market but beef
exports were suspended in 2001 following an outbreak of FMD in the
country. Before the ban, Zimbabwe exported 9 100 tonnes of beef to the
During their week-long stay in the country, the EU officials visited
ostrich and fish farms, abattoirs and processing plants and the
Central Veterinary Laboratory to assess first hand their compliance to
When a similar team from the EU visited the country last year it
recommended that the DVS should be strengthened to satisfy European
The inspection team also urged the government to provide more vehicles
for the veterinary officers to maintain the high surveillance
standards required by the EU.
The ostrich meat and skins are exported to overseas markets such as
Belgium, Holland and Switzerland.
Last year ostrich farmers exported 25 000 birds to the European market
at US$270 (Z$222 480) per bird, earning the country about $260
The ostrich meat and skin export processing venture was once the
largest operation in Zimbabwe boasting 26 000 breeders on farms that
produced 56 000 eggs per year.
However, the land reform programme and the shortage of stock feed have
seriously affected the ostrich industry to the extent that the number
of producers has dwindled by about 50 percent.
Violence and lawlessness on commercial farms because of the government
's controversial land reform has also hampered efforts to control the
spread of FMD.
Livestock control fences and game conservancy fencing has been
destroyed resulting in cattle mixing with the FMD-carrying buffalo.
The shortage of hard cash for imports of FMD treatment drugs has also
seriously limited the DVS's ability to fight the spread of the
Former judge set free
By Angela Makamure
THE State yesterday withdrew obstruction
justice charges against retired High Court judge Fergus Blackie, who
immediately issued a statement castigating what he called his unnecessary
detention by the police, which he said had undermined public confidence in
Blackie, whose trial was supposed to start yesterday at the Harare
Magistrates’ Court, was charged with obstructing the course of justice by
allegedly “unprocedurally” handling the appeal of a woman accused of
stealing $500 000 from her employer.
The charges against him were withdrawn before plea.
In a statement released after the charges were dropped, Blackie said
there was no basis for the charges and he had consistently denied any
wrongdoing in the performance of his duties as a judge.
“It remains a matter of grave concern to me that no enquiry was made
of me by the judicial authorities as to the facts of the matter before a
report was made to the police and similarly, that the police made no enquiry
of me concerning those facts before arresting me,” Blackie said in his
He said the behaviour of the police and the judicial authorities
resulted in his “unlawful and unnecessary arrest and detention” at Matapi
Police Station, where he spent three days in custody, a period he said
was in excess of that permitted by the law.
“This has, without doubt, contributed to the undermining of public
confidence in the integrity of the judiciary and of the police in Zimbabwe,”
The State, led by Florence Ziyambi, the chief law officer for the
Eastern Division, yesterday said it would proceed by way of summons against
“I made recommendations to the Attorney General (AG), but whilst
awaiting response from him, I have decided to withdraw charges against the
accused,” Ziyambi said.
“However, if the AG feels otherwise, then the matter will proceed by
way of summons.”
Blackie had been accused of disregarding
procedure in quashing last year a one-year jail term imposed by a
magistrates’ court on Tara White, who had been convicted of theft.
The State alleged that Blackie made the ruling without ascertaining
the agreement or not of
another judge as required.
The court heard that in terms of court rules, Blackie had to seek the
concurrence of Justice Rita Makarau, who heard White’s appeal with him,
before preparing and passing judgment.
Blackie was represented by defence counsel Raphael Costa and Advocate
Michael Hellens, a top South African lawyer who was supposed to
represent Blackie, did not turn up in court.
Blackie yesterday welcomed the prosecution’s decision to withdraw all
charges against him.
“The withdrawal of the charges against me is a vindication of my
service over 21 years as
a judicial officer in Zimbabwe, and it is a victory for all those who
believe in the independence of the judiciary,” he said.
“The evidence at the trial would have demonstrated beyond doubt that
there was no basis
whatsoever for the allegations made against me and there was no case
for me to answer,” he added.
He said the allegations were unfounded and were meant to embarrass and
humiliate him and his wife.
“I will be taking advice on my rights in that regard,” Blackie said.
The withdrawal of the charges against Blackie comes barely two weeks
after Zimbabwe was ranked by the World Economic Forum among the worst
governed and most corrupt countries in Africa.
The crisis-hit country was ranked 16th out of 21 African states polled
and scored the lowest on judicial independence and second lowest on the
neutrality of government public decisions.
Once a showcase economy for Africa, the country has seen its rating on
human rights, good governance and economic performance plummet in the past
The country’s judiciary was largely reconstituted after the government
openly clashed with the respected Bench led by former chief justice Anthony
Gubbay, mostly because of differences on property rights and the rule of law
on commercial farms that pro-government militants were seizing for
State seeks to stem exodus of magistrates
THE government is considering measures to improve working conditions
in the Magistrates Courts and prevent the exodus of staff,
according to Justice Ministry permanent secretary David Mangota.
In response to questions from The Daily News, Mangota said improving
working conditions would also enable the courts to attract graduates from
the country’s law school.
His comments follow a spate of resignations from the magisterial bench
because of low pay and poor working conditions. Several magistrates in
Harare and other towns have tendered their resignations in the past few
Last week, several other magistrates formally petitioned the
government over poor working conditions, low salaries and gross anomalies
resulting from a job evaluation exercise undertaken last year.
They have threatened unspecified action if their demands are not met.
Mangota said several courses were being run for trainee magistrates and
prosecutors by the
Judicial College of Zimbabwe.
He said another course would be launched in December this year or
early January next year.
"Students who successfully complete the course will join the ministry
and assist to clear the backlog of cases at court stations," Mangota told
The Daily News.
He said the government would also continue to review the magistrates’
conditions of service "with a view not only to retain, but also to attract
loyal and dedicated officers into the country’s system of justice delivery".
He said the magistrates who had indicated their intention to leave the
bench were going into private practice.
According to Magistrates’ Association of Zimbabwe secretary-general
Enias Magate, magistrates were left worse off by the government’s job
He said a chief magistrate earned between $734 305 and $807 735, while
a regional magistrate, who is in the next grade, earned $385 000 to $478
391, a difference of over $300 000.
Provincial magistrates earn about $378 000.
Legal experts say a mass exodus of magistrates would further hamstring
Zimbabwe’s already embattled justice delivery system.
‘Last week, several magistrates formally
petitioned the government
working conditions, lowsalaries and gross anomalies resulting from
a job evaluation exerciseundertaken last year’
Zimbabweans in daily grind to survive hardships
‘Many basic commodities have disappeared from mainstream retail
shops and can be procured only at exorbitant prices
on a thriving black market. The highest bank note, the $500 bill, has
literally disappeared from the financial sector . . .’
A DAY in the life of Zimbabwean Fungai Makore starts at dawn when he
leaves his house to queue for scant transport to work. It ends late at night
after another five-hour wait for the bus which takes him home.
A 28-year-old father of one, Makore spends most of his lunch breaks in
yet more queues for bread, milk, sugar or the staple food maize as Zimbabwe
battles with its worst economic crisis since independence from Britain in
Fuel shortages dating back to 1999 have forced a large part of public
transport off the road and Makore has to leave his home in Chitungwiza, some
35 kilometres outside the capital Harare, at 4 am each day to be at work by
He gets back home at 10 pm each night.
"My wife says our two-year-old daughter will soon forget what I look
like at this rate because I’m never home when she is awake, but there is no
other way," Makore said.
Makore is one of a small percentage of urban dwellers who can still
afford transport fares which more than trebled in tandem with fuel price
hikes of up to 300 percent in April.
A university graduate with a business degree, he is grateful for his
modest job as an accounts clerk.
Zimbabwe is mired in its fourth year of recession, with one of the
highest inflation rates in the world, expected to top 450 percent by the end
of the year.
Unemployment is estimated at 70 percent and the Zimbabwe dollar is
traded on the black market at up to 2 300 against the United States dollar –
nearly three times the official rate of 824.
Companies struggling to remain open in such a harsh climate have
failed to increase salaries to match rising costs.
"It’s frightening to know that we live in a country where eight out of
every 10 people we meet on the street are unemployed,"
newspaper columnist Cathy Buckle wrote in the privately-owned Daily
"Most of us spend our days shrouded in a thick fog of questions which
have no answers and depression so bad that we are a country on the verge of
a national mental breakdown."
A recent joint report by the World Food Programme and the Food and
Agriculture Organisation noted that even before the 2002 food crisis, more
than half of Zimbabwe’s people did not have enough to eat and more than a
third were malnourished.
Many basic commodities have disappeared from mainstream retail shops
and can be procured only at exorbitant prices on a thriving black market.
In fact, a popular joke in Harare is that most residents will simply
join a queue without asking what is on sale because the commodity is likely
to be in something they have gone without for months.
"The black market prices are crazy but it’s a take-it-or-leave-it
situation because, for instance, I don’t remember the last time I saw
maize-meal or sugar on a supermarket shelf," shrugged Makore.
"It’s either I cough up the money or watch my family starve."
Fuel supplies have been erratic since 1999, when Zimbabwe’s state-run
importer had its credit lines cut over a huge debt then calculated at around
Z$9 billion (US$11.07 million). A critical shortage of foreign currency has
hampered imports since.
A Reuter correspondent waited for six hours at a petrol garage at the
weekend, with attendants selling only 25 litres to each motorist.
A shortage of local currency has persisted since the main opposition
party – the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) – called for a week-long
strike last month, leading to panic withdrawals from commercial banks.
The highest bank note, the $500 bill, has literally disappeared from
the mainstream financial sector.
With most retailers reluctant to accept cheques because of fraud
fears, consumers are forced to carry large volumes of smaller denominations
to pay for goods and services.
The MDC accuses President Robert Mugabe – who led the country to
independence – with ruining the economy through 23 years of mismanagement.
Mugabe denies responsibility for the country’s malaise, which he
blames on sabotage by local and international opponents angered by his
seizure of white-owned farms for redistribution to landless blacks.
By Stella Mapenzauswa
Economy set to shrink by 10%
ZIMBABWE’s economy is this
year expected to shrink by between seven
and 10 percent largely because of destabilisation in the mainstay
agricultural sector caused by the government’s chaotic and often violent
land reforms, an official of the Zimbabwe National Chamber of Commerce
(ZNCC) said yesterday.
ZNCC Harare branch manager James Jowa told business executives in
Harare last week that Zimbabwe’s economy, which, he said, had declined by a
third in the last three years, was the fastest shrinking economy in the
Jowa, who addressed the business seminar on the performance of the
agricultural sector said: “In 2003, it is officially anticipated to fall by
more than minus 7 percent, but unofficial estimates put it at more than 10
“The economy has declined by more than a third in real terms during
the past three years.
“This makes Zimbabwe the world’s fastest shrinking economy. The cost
of carrying out farming operations has risen significantly.”
The business seminar was organised by the ZNCC, which is the largest
representative group for commerce in the country and a Germany aid group,
the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung.
The land reforms although necessary had disrupted agriculture and the
government urgently needed to review the situation in the sector which was
the driving force behind Zimbabwe’s economy, Jowa said.
The negative publicity Zimbabwe has attracted in the key international
Press because of its controversial land reforms had also hindered the
country’s competitiveness on the international market, according to Jowa.
The much lauded fast-track land reform programme under which the state
seized vast tracts of productive land from white farmers and parcelled it
out to landless blacks had however failed to address fundamental problems
associated with agrarian reform such as the new farmers’ lack of skills or
inputs, which compromised farm production.
Jowa said agriculture had last year declined by 24 percent while the
manufacturing sector had fallen by 12 percent.
Giving an example of the decline in the agriculture sector since the
government embarked on its land reforms Jowa said in 1998, before the land
reform programme, there were 352 000 milk cows across the country but the
number of cows had now dropped to
Milk is now in short supply.
Jowa said: “The government must create an enabling environment which
includes the stoppage to all forms of instability.
“The government must aim at intervening pro-actively in order to
maximise net social benefits from smallholder agriculture and desist from
promotion of narrow partisan interests.
“Any policy formulation, implementation and monitoring must be
transparent and must include all stakeholders involved or affected.”
From The Mail & Guardian (SA), 1 July
MDC leader dreams of freedom
Johannesburg - Zimbabwe's Movement for Democratic Change
(MDC) was not
obsessed with President Robert Mugabe, the country's leader of the official
opposition, Morgan Tsvangirai said in an interview with SABC television news
on Sunday night. However, he added that South Africa had an obsession with
its leader of the opposition, Tony Leon. The Zimbabwean politician,
currently facing two possible death sentences in two separate treason trials
said he did not hate Mugabe and did not wish him ill. But the Zimbabwean
president was a major stumbling block to normalising the chaotic political
and economic situation in the country. "Mugabe is a national liability, a
stumbling block," he said. Asked whether he recognised Mugabe as president,
he said "I don't" but confirmed that Mugabe ran the country. "He is running
the country, he was sworn in as president." The former trade unionist added
that he was pursuing a High Court challenge against the validity of the 2001
presidential election because it was "the only legal recourse." Tsvangirai
reiterated that he had won that election and that his party now controlled
more than half of the Zimbabwean parliament. He said the major issue facing
Zimbabwe was getting the MDC and Mugabe to the negotiating table.
Asked about the efforts of the heads of state of South Africa,
Malawi to get the parties to talk, Tsvangirai said the success of
negotiations did not depend on the brokers but on the willingness of parties
to compromise. The trio's efforts "must be encouraged and welcomed." But he
warned that some of their comments had been "undiplomatic" and unhelpful,
particularly those suggesting that he, Tsvangirai was an obstacle to talks
or that Mugabe had to be recognised as the legitimate winner of the 2001
presidential poll - a position that would sink his court challenge which
contested that very point. There could be no preconditions to talks. If
Rhodesian prime minister Ian Smith had in 1979 set as a precondition that
Mugabe recognise him as the legitimate leader of the country there would
have been no talks, he said by example. Once talking, there would be three
critical issues. The first was getting Mugabe to give up he presidency in a
dignified manner. If Mugabe was afraid of retribution, he could be assured
that this was not a MDC aim. "National reconciliation cannot be implemented
in an atmosphere of retribution," Tsvangirai said. However, there would have
to be a truth and justice commission where victims could speak out and
perpetrators could repent and reform. Asked whether this meant an MDC
government would not "go" after Mugabe himself, Tsvangirai said "If that is
he price we have to pay, we must consider it."
stepped down the question of choosing a replacement arose. This
would require a look at whether a new election had to take place within 90
days as required by the current constitution or whether another mechanism
had to be found. Then an election, adjudged to be free and fair by all
parties and the international community had to take place. Questioned about
timelines, he said none could be set. His two treason trials, one for
allegedly plotting to kill Mugabe and another for organising mass action to
force Mugabe to leave office, were referred to obliquely. "I want to face
the full wrath of the law. If I did something wrong I must be punished,"
Tsvangirai said at one stage. Later he said that since he had never
advocated the overthrow of the state, as alleged by his prosecutors, a bail
condition that he should not do so "again" was irrelevant. He said as the
leader of the official opposition he was entitled to speak out about misrule
and corruption - and would continue to do so. Queried about a perceived lack
of policy on the part of the MDC and Mugabe's assertions that he was a black
front for whites, Tsvangirai said his party had a strong set of policy
documents on important national issues such as saving the economy and land.
He had been
concerned with land reform since 1995 when he was still general
secretary of the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions ZCTU). Land was one of
the MDC's five top priorities. However, the epicentre of the crisis in
Zimbabwe was not land - this was a "misplaced misconception" - but about
"misrule.. dictatorship... and a government unleashing violence on its own
people." The MDC was also not the lackeys of whites or of the United States
and Britain. "It's a condescending attitude to think Zimbabweans could not
think for themselves." The MDC came about as an alternative political party
because of the systematic betrayal of the electorate by Mugabe's party, Zanu
PF. "It did not appear out of the blue," Tsvangirai added. The MDC had good
relations with the Congress of SA Trade Unions (Cosatu) and if black South
Africans were concerned about him appearing at events where white opposition
politicians were present that was an issue they had to deal with. The
obsession with Tony Leon "is a problem for South Africa, not Zimbabwe," he
US slams 'racist' Zimbabwe
One editorial in The Herald accused Mr Powell of being an "Uncle Tom" - a reference to the servile black hero of the American novel "Uncle Tom's Cabin - who "dances to the tune of his masters".
This followed his call last week for Zimbabwe's neighbours to increase their pressure on President Robert Mugabe to observe the rule of law.
Mr Powell also promised massive aid to Zimbabwe "with the president [Robert Mugabe] gone".
Mr Mugabe says that he is standing up for the rights of Zimbabwe's black majority by seizing white-owned land and giving it to poor black farmers.
He says that Zimbabwe's economic problems are the result of a western plot to bring down his government.
"The Embassy of the United States of America ... registers its profound disgust at the use of racial slurs with respect to Secretary of State Colin Powell," said a statement released by the embassy in the Zimbabwe capital, Harare.
Zimbabwe Information Minister Jonathan Moyo called Mr Powell a "liar" for his description of human rights abuses by the government.
Another article in the state-run Sunday Mail claimed that Mr Powell had not written the article.
Both The Herald and the Sunday Times are widely seen as government mouthpieces.
"The Herald and the Sunday Mail would serve their readers better by addressing those serious issues rather than resorting to personal attacks on critics of the regime," the statement said.
Mr Powell said President Mugabe had no legitimacy or moral authority.
The US does not recognise the official results of
last year's presidential elections, which were criticised by observer groups.
Zimbabwe's only privately-owned daily newspaper is under fire
government. Two senior journalists and three executives of the Daily News
have been arrested in the last two weeks.
On Monday, the chief executive at the Daily News, Sam Nkomo, and his
commercial director, Moreblessings Mpofu, were accused by police of
publishing advertisements insulting to President Robert Mugabe.
The company's lawyer, Gutulethu Moyo, who went to the police station with
the two executives, was herself briefly arrested and accused of inciting the
public to demonstrate against the government and for refusing to take orders
from the police.
This is not Miss Moyo's first run-in with the police. Earlier this year she
was allegedly assaulted at a police station when she tried to gain the
release of a photographer who works for the Daily News. Among those she
accuses of assaulting her is the wife of Zimbabwe's army commander.
All three executives of the paper are now back at work and will appear in
court at some time in the months ahead.
Last month, the editor and editor in chief of the Daily News were accused of
violating Zimbabwe's media laws by publishing information that allegedly
denigrated the image of President Robert Mugabe. They are also back at work
and awaiting trial.
The Daily News began publishing four years ago and since then almost all its
senior staff have been arrested at various times.
The founding editor of the paper, Geoff Nyarota, was arrested several times
and finally had to flee Zimbabwe. He is now on a scholarship at Harvard
University in the United States.
Andrew Moyse, director of the Media Monitoring Project in Zimbabwe, said
Tuesday the latest arrests were part of the ongoing persecution of
Zimbabwe's most popular newspaper. He said the government wanted to silence
alternative sources of information.
The Zimbabwe government controls all radio and television stations in the
country, and until the appearance of the Daily News, it controlled the daily
press market too.
Judge's freedom welcomed
01/07/2003 19:53 - (SA)
Johannesburg - The Zimbabwean prosecution authority's withdrawal
corruption charges against a retired judge was welcomed by the South African
legal fraternity on Tuesday.
"The withdrawal of all charges against Judge (Fergus) Blackie fully
vindicates the stance of the South African bar," the General Council of the
Bar of SA said in a statement on Tuesday.
"We welcome the withdrawal of all the charges by the state prosecutors
against Judge Blackie who had been wrongly and maliciously charged with
corruption whilst doing his work," the Law Society of South Africa's joint
chairs, Susan Abro and Edward Ngubane, said.
Associated Press (AP) reported on Monday that Zimbabwean prosecutors had
dropped corruption charges against Blackie, 65, who, until he was retired
shortly before his arrest, was the last white judge on the Zimbabwean bench.
The GCBSA said its member Mike Hellens, SC, had provided pro bono (free of
charge) defence for Blackie, as did veteran Zimbabwean human rights lawyer
Adrian de Bourbon, SC.
"They submitted a written outline of the defence to the prosecuting
authorities in advance of Monday's hearing, the scheduled commencement of
trial," the BCSA said.
In court on Monday, according to AP, prosecutor Florence Ziyambi told
magistrate Virginia Sithole state legal experts had "decided to withdraw the
matter before plea".
Not a 'full acquittal'
Under Zimbabwean law, this does not amount to a full acquittal, but defence
lawyers said the charges were now effectively dead.
Blackie was forced last September to spend three nights in police cells
after being arrested in a dawn raid on his home. He told the news agency
Monday's decision was a "victory for all who believe in the independence of
Retired South African appeal court judge John Smallberger attended Blackie's
first court appearance as an observer. Smallberger's attendance was an
initiative of the SA Bar and the Forum of Advocates, a specialist grouping
within the International Bar Association of the referral bars of Australia,
England and Wales, Ireland, Northern Ireland, Hong Kong, Zimbabwe, Scotland,
Namibia and South Africa.
Seven of Zimbabwe's 30 senior judges resigned or retired between 2001 and
2002 after militants supporting the government of President Robert Mugabe
invaded the Supreme Court and threatened to kill opponents of the
government's land redistribution programme.
Blackie was accused of being racially biased when he overturned a one-year
jail sentence imposed on a white woman convicted of theft.
His lawyers said there had been a clerical mix-up in the case.
Blackie's arrest came after he imposed a three-month jail sentence on
Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa for contempt of the courts in a case
involving torture of three United States missionaries.
Chinamasa had the sentence annulled after Blackie's retirement, and police
have yet to attempt to serve the arrest warrant.
Blackie stepped down after 21 years service as a judge, weeks before his
Blackie said he would be taking legal advice on a possible civil law suit
against the state. He was refunded his Z$10 000.
Blackie's case raised international outcry.
Abro and Ngubane said the law society had expressed "serious concern and
alarm" at the manner in which the Zimbabwean judiciary and lawyers had, over
the past three years, been intimidated and persecuted by the Mugabe
"The (Law Society of SA) says that in order for Zimbabwe to return to
normality, the rule of law and the independence of the Judiciary must be
restored immediately and assurances given that no undue pressure will be
emanating from the government should judges make rulings against the State."
Mugabe will be priority
01/07/2003 08:47 - (SA)
Washington - US Secretary of State Colin Powell on Monday again called for
Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe to leave power, saying the subject would
be a top concern during the US president's upcoming African tour.
"Early in my tenure as secretary of state, when I gave a speech in South
Africa, I called for reform in president Mugabe's regime in Zimbabwe. And
unfortunately, the situation has just continued to deteriorate," Powell told
the public television network PBS.
"And so we believe that change is appropriate there, too, to help the people
of Zimbabwe. And I'm sure this will be a subject of considerable discussion
during the president's trip next week," Powell added.
US President George W Bush called for the international community to press
for democracy in Zimbabwe in a speech on Thursday.
Powell last week also urged South Africa and other African nations to take
more urgent action to resolve the political crisis.
The United States joined many European countries, the Commonwealth,
Zimbabwe's main opposition party and independent Zimbabwe election observers
in refusing to recognize Mugabe's victory in the 2002 polls, which were
marred by widespread voter intimidation and irregularities.
Bush travels July 7-12 to Botswana, Nigeria, Senegal, South Africa and
Sunday Times (SA)
NNP warns on land reform
Tuesday July 01, 2003 12:02 - (SA)
Land reform in South Africa will fail dismally if sustainable development
principles are not applied to the process, the New National Party said.
The widespread famine in Zimbabwe should serve as a warning of what could
happen when land was expropriated without prospective farmers knowing how to
put it to sustainable use, NNP MP Adriaan van Jaarsveld said in a statement.
"Of course the injustices of the past have to be put right, but it is of no
use to give someone a farm without providing him with the necessary
knowledge and expertise to farm properly," he said.
The NNP appealed to Agriculture and Land Affairs Minister Thoko Didiza to
give priority to this aspect of land reform.
"Without the necessary knowledge and expertise the agricultural industry in
South Africa will go under, and land reform will definitely also be doomed
"It is also important to assist emergent farmers in the financial management
of their farms.
"Land reform will not put right any injustices of the past if farms are
handed out, but are again put up for sale after three years because the
owners could not manage them properly."
The NNP had noted the view of chief land claims commissioner, Tozi Gwanya,
"that land reform should not be done for sustainable development purposes,
but to put right the injustices of the past".
"Unfortunately, land reform will fail dismally if sustainable development is
not given due consideration," Van Jaarsveld said.