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Zimbabwe government backtracks on new import regulations

Earth Times

Posted : Mon, 30 Jul 2007 09:41:32 GMT Author : DPA

Harare/Johannesburg - The Zimbabwe government has gone back on a
decision to ban the bulk import of basic goods into the country by thousands
of cross-border traders, it emerged Monday. In regulations published earlier
this month, President Robert Mugabe and his trade ministry ordered that
people importing scarce staples like maize meal, flour, sugar and cooking
oil for resale would need a government permit.

The new regulation was due to come into force on August 1, but the
government has repealed it without saying why.

"The Control of Goods Order, 2007 is hereby repealed," Industry
Minister Obert Mpofu said in a special notice, a copy of which was obtained
by Deutsche Presse-Agentur

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More shop managers arrested in Zim


    July 30 2007 at 04:34PM

Johannesburg - Another 33 shop managers were arrested in Zimbabwe at
the weekend for overcharging or failing to display prices, Harare's Herald
newspaper reported on Monday.

Its website said the managers were expected to appear in court on

On Saturday and Sunday, police arrested the managers for En Bee, Vita
City, Truworths, Nyamidzi Motor Spares, Red Star, Wright Rain, Food Chain
Belvedere and TM Angwa Street, among others.

A price monitoring team put the shops under surveillance on Friday.

This was the latest batch of retail managers to be picked up since the
establishment of the Cabinet Taskforce on Price Control and Stabilisation.

Assistant police commissioner Bothwell Mugariri, who leads the task
team, said police were concerned that some leading shops and pharmacies
continued selling goods at old prices.

"We are not out there to punish anybody, but to ensure that all
parties are protected," he said.

"Our major concern lies on the plight of consumers, but we will try
our best to as well help in the sustainability of manufacturing companies
and retail shops." - Sapa

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Mbeki's Zimbabwe peace effort is alive and kicking

Sunday Independent, SA

Sunday 29th July

Media in Zimbabwe and South Africa have reported that President Thabo
mediation in the Zimbabwe crisis has collapsed, yet it is still very much

By Peta Thornycroft
The humanitarian crisis worsens daily with the worst food shortages in the
country's history. But Mbeki's efforts have decreased political tension
between President Robert Mugabe's ruling Zanu-PF and the opposition Movement
for Democratic Change (MDC) and are starting to yield some results.
As a confidence-building measure, Mugabe's government has lifted its
four-month ban on MDC political meetings. The MDC still has to apply for
police permission to hold rallies, and failure to do so means demonstrations
will be brutally disrupted, as happened in Harare, Masvingo and Gweru last
Political tensions remain high in Harare since Tsvangirai and other MDC
leaders were severely beaten after trying to attend a prayer meeting on
March 11, yet all but two opposition members arrested then have been
released on bail. Abductions and state-sponsored beating of opposition
activists in the townships have also decreased.
Tsvangirai's MDC faction this week also ended its boycott of the opening of
Just after it opened on Tuesday, parliament stood down until August 21,
delaying the passage of controversial new legislation, including the 18th
constitutional amendment over elections, which has the potential to
undermine the negotiations.
Only one substantive meeting between the two MDC factions and Zanu-PF was
held in Pretoria since Mbeki began mediating at the behest of the Southern
African Development Community after the March 29 summit on the crisis.
Zanu-PF's negotiators - labour minister Nicholas Goche and justice minister
Patrick Chinamasa - were called to Pretoria last week about their failure to
attend the second round of talks earlier this month.
Mugabe issued a statement on the eve of the boycotted meeting, saying there
was no need for Zimbabwe to agree to a new constitution ahead of national
elections next March.
Despite this, a new constitution will be discussed in Pretoria.
Diplomats in South Africa confirm that, at the first negotiation session in
Pretoria, the MDC and Zanu-PF teams were asked to define their grievances
about the draft constitution secretly negotiated between the two parties in
Negotiated by Chinamasa and the then-united MDC's secretary-general Welshman
Ncube, and agreed to by both Mugabe and Tsvangirai, the draft left several
key constitutional issues unresolved.
Since the first substantive meeting, Zanu-PF negotiators and the divided
two secretary-generals, Tendai Biti and Ncube, have met repeatedly in Harare
and have now completed their "homework".
The remaining points of disagreement about the draft 2004 constitution will
be the focus of the next meeting in Pretoria, which is expected to take
place within the next few weeks.
l A key disagreement is the distribution of power between the president and
the proposed new post of prime minister.
Zanu-PF has always insisted that there should be a powerful executive
president, as in the rest of Africa. The MDC, opposed to the unfettered
powers which Mugabe has accumulated over the past 10 years, wants to shift
some of presidential powers to a prime minister appointed by and accountable
to parliament. Zanu-PF believes that such a division of powers could
paralyse government.
Zanu-PF also wants constituency-based elections based on a voters' roll
while the MDC prefers parliamentary seats to be allocated on the basis of
proportional representation with voters allowed to vote with an
identification card.
l Since its  near-win in the 2000 elections, the MDC has repeatedly pointed
out that it is difficult  for voters to register in its urban strongholds as
the government demands impossible conditions, such as proof of residence or
utility bills, when many urban people live in informal settlements. Scores
of people trying to register as voters were beaten up by police in Harare on
MDC MP Abdenico Bhebe recently stated it was also impossible for suspected
MDC supporters to get registered in rural areas as the chiefs, who are
generously supported by Zanu-PF, ensure they are refused registration.
The MDC also claims that, since 2000, the government has gerrymandered
constituencies to Zanu-PF's advantage. Ahead of the 2005 general elections,
it redrew constituency boundaries to bring rural Zanu-PF supporters into
urban constituencies to dilute MDC support.
l The land issue was also unresolved in 2004. Zanu-PF is not in principle
against the protection of property rights but wants the status quo of the
current "ownership" of agricultural land to remain.
The MDC has accepted that land seized from white farmers and divided up into
small plots for so-called A1 peasant farmers cannot be reversed and
reclaimed for commercial agricultural production without massive forced
removals similar to Mugabe's 2005 urban "clean out the trash" campaign.
But the MDC opposes Zanu-PF's insistence that its own clique of "A2"
farmers - Mugabe's cabinet, politburo, central committee, senior military
and civil servants - should keep the land they were given. Only about 10
percent of this land is being farmed.
The MDC wants a land audit to determine current ownership and how much land
now lies idle. It has long hoped that the United Nations Development
Programme (UNDP) would find a solution to this problem, including
compensation for whites who lost their homes and farming businesses.
Of the three problems arising from the 2004 constitution, the land issue
might be the easiest to solve if, as seems inevitable, the UNDP becomes
Even Zanu-PF realises the need to reverse the staggering drop in
agricultural production since whites were driven from their farms.
Mbeki is under pressure to persuade Mugabe to postpone the presidential and
parliamentary polls from March next year, Mugabe's preferred date, until
June, which is constitutionally possible.

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There is still a way out for Zimbabwe - ICG report

The East African, Kenya

 July 30 - August 5, 2007

The EastAfrican
Zimbabwe is headed for a catastrophe, with its economy in freefall and its
people suffering grievously, with little cause for optimism. Inflation rates
are currently put at 9,000 per cent or worse, with over 80 per cent of the
population of some 12 million people living below the poverty line and 80
per cent unemployed, says a new report from the International Crisis Group.

A presentation by ICG president Gareth Evans to the Royal Commonwealth
Society Conference shows, however, that all is not lost for the Southern
African nation.

The first piece of the more heartening news is that none of the causes of
Zimbabwe's current discontent seem to have roots so deep that the situation
cannot be quickly turned round once some decent leadership is restored: Even
the fears periodically expressed that the present woes might reignite the
ethnic conflict that has occurred between the Ndebele and Shona in the past,
seem far-fetched. So far, remarkably little tension of this kind has

Democracy is not something that Zimbabweans have had much chance to enjoy
under successive regimes, but on available evidence they appear to have a
taste for it and would hugely welcome free and fair elections.

Economic destruction has been devastating, but the resource base of the
country remains strong, and with good planning and international support,
the situation can be reversed reasonably rapidly.

Land distribution remains an emotive and divisive issue, but - even with all
the additional problems created by President Robert Mugabe's expropriations
and reallocations - it is not incapable of resolution, especially if
generous resources are forthcoming from the UK and other international

The Southern African Development Community, following the March 2007 Dar es
Salaam Extraordinary Summit, finally decided to take concrete action,
mandating South African President Thabo Mbeki to mediate between the

The first round of mediated talks between Zanu-PF and the Movement for
Democratic Change (MDC) - and the first substantive dialogue between them
for four years - took place on June 18, says the ICG report, with an agenda
agreed (covering the constitution, electoral laws, repressive legislation,
and the "political climate"), and a further meeting was planned for later
this month. Mbeki made an initial progress report to the AU Summit in Accra
two weeks ago.

Indeed, the process faces significant hurdles and limitations, especially
since time to create the minimum conditions necessary for reasonably
legitimate elections in March 2008 is running out, even with full
co-operation between the parties - of which there is as yet no sign, with
Zanu-PF bent on proceeding simultaneously with legislative and
constitutional changes reinforcing its advantage

The balance of power between Zanu-PF and MDC is deeply unequal, making it
difficult for any mediator to obtain significant concessions (although, as
noted below, this could be overstated: SADC has real leverage if it chooses
to exercise it). The internal divisions within Zanu-PF relating to the
succession have not yet translated into any fragmentation of the government's
position vis-a-vis the MDC.

All that said, the SADC development has introduced a new dynamic into a
stalemated process, and remains about the only game in town in terms of
moving forward. There are essentially two levels of activity in play, or
potential play, so far as the SADC leaders are concerned.

First, there is the overt agenda of ensuring free and fair elections next
March, which will require an immediate end to the repression and
intimidation of the opposition, civil society, media and legal professions,
including the repeal of repressive laws,

A hold on constitutional changes aimed at strengthening Zanu-PF's position
is also required, as is a fully independent electoral commission to replace
the present military-run body (this being part of a larger need to
demilitarise state institutions), to prepare a new voters' roll and carry
out everything necessary to ensure a free and fair election.

The hope is that a free and fair election would be followed, notwithstanding
which party had the majority of seats, by a government of national unity to
carry through all the necessary political, legal, constitutional and
economic changes needed to stabilise the country and set it on the path to

SADC's leverage in all of this is great, if it chooses to exercise it. If
the South African mediation is unable to achieve the outcomes necessary for
free and fair elections, SADC can publicly state, before the elections, that
the conditions are simply not in place for any possible outcome to be free
and fair; or after the election, refuse to certify it as free and fair.

SADC's willingness to go down either of these paths would, if clearly
flagged in the mediation, maximise the chances of the necessary reforms
being accepted. The point is that Mugabe is politically dependent on support
for his positions from his Southern African peers. Any condemnation by them
of the electoral process would be likely to have a devastating effect on his
credibility, and create the conditions for an effective political move
against him. This may all be unduly optimistic, but a number of South
African senior figures attach real weight to the SADC role in this respect.

The second track in play is a behind the scenes exercise, involving senior
SADC and other figures, to negotiate a "soft landing" for Mugabe - a
reasonably graceful exit combined with assurances that he will not face
prosecution in any domestic or international court. Present indications are
that this course has been made much more difficult by the removal of Liberia's
Charles Taylor to face charges in the Sierra Leone Special Court,
notwithstanding safe refuge assurances he had earlier been given by Nigeria's
President Olusegun Obasajano in 2003 to secure an early end to threatened
major warfare in Monrovia. But efforts should certainly continue to
negotiate such a soft outcome; sometimes the urge for justice just has to
yield to a more urgent need to stop large-scale human suffering.

The economy as a whole has shrunk dramatically in recent years and has a
current growth rate of minus 4.4 per cent. Health indicators are equally
depressing. Life expectancy has dropped below 40 years for both men and
women, and the prevalence rate of HIV/Aids in adults hovers around one in
five. And the past four months have seen the government embark on another
brutal campaign of state-sponsored violence against opposition groups and
their supporters.

The internal opposition is fragmented. The opposition MDC is trying to
co-ordinate a common front but remains split between two wings and is both
strategically and tactically less effective as a result. The Zanu-PF is
internally divided with a numerically strong anti-Mugabe faction led by the
Majurus, but the debacle in the Central Committee immediately after the SADC
meeting in late March, when Mugabe rammed through a resolution supporting
his running again for president in 2008, showed the limits of its strength,
or commitment, or both.

There are divisions in the security services, reflecting the stress felt by
families in every walk of life as a result of the economic meltdown, but
these have not been enough to give anyone confidence that anything
resembling a velvet revolution could succeed. And civil society
organisations continue to struggle to exercise any influence at all on the
course of events.

External pressure remains ineffective. International sanctions are shrugged
off, with general economic sanctions hardly likely to make any difference -
except to create further misery for the poor. Targeted sanctions are too
narrowly focused to make an impact, especially with travel bans regularly
ignored, most recently by the Portuguese presidency of the EU with the
forthcoming EU-Africa Summit.

General condemnations from the North - especially the UK - seem to be
counterproductive, fuelling Mugabe's claims of neo-imperialism. SADC leaders
remain hypersensitive to any suggestion they are carrying out an external
agenda, in particular one imposed by Zimbabwe's former colonial rulers.
South Africa continues to decline to use such leverage as it has, and the
regional countries have - until very recently - contributed nothing but
support for Mugabe's leadership.

All this means that there is little or no prospect of Mugabe being
bludgeoned out of office in the foreseeable future - from below, within the
country; from above, by the international community; or from the side - by
coercive pressure from his regional neighbours.

The Commonwealth's role in resolving the Zimbabwe crisis is seen largely in
the context of providing political support for SADC. Its strong African and
general Southern membership makes it an important source of political
support, with the November Heads of Government Meeting in Kampala a timely

The Commonwealth as an institution has particular technical expertise in
certain areas, which should be harnessed and co-ordinated with the resources
of major donors in planning and co-ordinating Zimbabwe's recovery. But even
more important is the need to take a leadership role on the land issue. This
will involve a commitment on the part of the Commonwealth to engage on land

To this end, the Commonwealth Secretariat might consider establishing a
working committee or a group of eminent persons, tasked with exploring
options for land reform in Zimbabwe. The grouping's African members could
include both SADC and non-SADC countries: South Africa, Tanzania and
Botswana (SADC countries and regional stakeholders), Kenya (as a useful case
study of a viable post-colonial land settlement), and perhaps Ghana.

The recommendations generated by such a body, composed predominantly but not
exclusively of African countries, might well carry weight with Zimbabwe,
allow the British to remain quietly engaged and overcome some of the
constraints that prevent SADC member states from addressing land reform.

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The four hard choices for Zimbabwe

New Zimbabwe

By Prof Jonathan Moyo, MP
Last updated: 07/31/2007 05:12:02
AS PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe delivered his televised address officially
opening the third and apparently last session of the sixth parliament on
Tuesday last week, he appeared determined to keep his head when everyone
else across the nation has long lost theirs due to the biting national
crisis that is widening and deepening every day.
That Mugabe can still keep his head when the rest of the nation no longer
can mean he is yet to grasp the gravity of the national crisis. So endemic
is the unfolding crisis that national attention has moved from how to define
the problem to how to resolve it.

And there are four hard choices to resolve the crisis before the nation,

. a military coup;
. an act of statesmanship by Mugabe to save both the country and his legacy;
. a coming together of nationalist progressive forces under a united front;
. a spontaneous and therefore chaotic uprising.

In objective terms, there is no doubt that one of these choices must be made
if Zimbabwe is to move forward from its troubled past and current stalemate
to a different dispensation. But before describing these choices that are
now competing for selection, there's a need to dispense with two false
choices that some vested political interests are peddling.

One false choice whose consequence would be to further widen, deepen and
prolong the national crisis is Mugabe's incredulous wish to seek reelection
in March 2008 under the controversial 18th constitutional amendment
scheduled for debate in parliament next month.

This is a false choice primarily because it has no national content since it
is only a self-serving ploy that puts Zimbabwe last and Mugabe first so he
can remain in power for life to enable him to escape likely prosecution for
alleged crimes against humanity committed during his 27-year rule.

The propaganda around this false choice is the oft-repeated fiction that at
its March 30 meeting the Zanu PF central committee endorsed Mugabe as its
sole presidential candidate. Yet some of the party's senior members have
been saying all along that nothing of the sort ever happened.

Since March 30, there's been an amazing if not shameful display of
conspicuous deceit by patronage-seeking Zanu PF individuals and groups which
have been falling on each other to further endorse Mugabe's self-serving
reelection bid on the back of a central committee endorsement that never

Based on his 2002 tortuous campaign experience, it is obvious that Mugabe
hopes to yet again use the military, national intelligence and police forces
along with government ministries and departments including traditional
chiefs and their headmen to win reelection in 2008.

But even so, he needs to be forewarned not to be too trusting because
everyone who matters in officialdom now knows that Zimbabwe will remain in
dire straits if he remains in office.

Indeed, Mugabe must remember with some trepidation how with all the
establishment support he almost lost the 2002 election when the situation in
the country had not deteriorated to current hopeless levels. Therefore a
Mugabe electoral victory in March 2008, whether achieved by fair or foul
means, would necessarily be bad news that would worsen current hardships for

Another false choice being peddled in opposition circles is that Morgan
Tsvangirai's faction of the MDC can or will win the presidential election in
March 2008. The Arthur Mutambara faction of the MDC is realistic enough to
see that the presidential stakes next March are for it already water under
the bridge.

While Tsvangirai has over the years shown commendable courage as an
opposition leader, his exemplary courage has been failed by his
characteristically poor leadership and general lack of strategy or sound
judgment. The mere fact that Tsvangirai personally presided over the split
of his own party demonstrated his poor leadership and put paid to the only
chance he had to be a national leader.

The damaging effect of the MDC split in electoral terms was to leave
Tsvangirai without critical votes in Matabeleland and the Midlands
provinces. Previous election results show that, outside Harare, Tsvangirai
has not been able to get much support in the Mashonaland provinces. The same
is true in Masvingo and Manicaland provinces where his support base has
dramatically declined since 2002.

Put simply, while he is weak in Matabeleland, Mugabe has more support than
Tsvangirai in the Mashonaland provinces save for Harare. Given this fact
along with that the public has lost confidence in Tsvangirai as a result of
the MDC split plus the fact that Tsvangirai can no longer be sure about the
extent of his support in Matabeleland, one can only wonder how anyone can
foresee a Tsvangirai victory in March 2008. Where would the votes come from?

In any event, while some partisan interests might find this hard to swallow,
the truth is that in the current scheme of Zimbabwean politics Tsvangirai
has become as inflexible and as polarising as Mugabe. Much as MDC supporters
cannot vote for Mugabe under any circumstances, Tsvangirai's reduced
supporters in his MDC faction will never vote for Mugabe.

The national consensus now is that neither Mugabe nor Tsvangirai can take
Zimbabwe forward. The feeling from across the political divide is that both
need to put Zimbabwe first ahead of their personal interests.

This takes us back to the four choices mentioned earlier. If you ask any
student of political science worthy of the field, they would tell you that
the political economy of Zimbabwe today is pregnant with socioeconomic
conditions that have typically necessitated military coups elsewhere in
Africa and the developing world.

The basic cause of military coups in history has invariably been the
inflexibility of ruling elites through their inability or unwillingness to
accommodate dissent as an enlightened strategy of preserving their own
interests. Mugabe's position that any opposition in between elections
amounts to seeking illegal regime change is an example of dangerous
inflexibility. Around the world, political systems that are inflexible
attract military coups.

While a military coup is clearly undesirable in Zimbabwe today, it is
nevertheless possible and could even become unavoidable. In the desperate
circumstances currently gripping the country, the only way a military coup
can be avoided is not by wishing it away or not thinking about it or
condemning those who think or talk about it but by institutionalising
flexibility in our constitution and national politics to get everyone,
especially those in power, to put Zimbabwe first not just in their words but
also in their deeds.

Another hard choice that is before the nation today is a sudden and
therefore spontaneous uprising resulting in utter chaos. This choice, which
Zimbabweans can make by default through inaction amid the escalating crisis,
is of course undesirable as would be a military coup. But it is very

A spontaneous uprising would recall the Biblical adage that where there is
no vision, the people perish. In recent African history, the lack of an
actionable vision has perished ordinary people in Rwanda, Somalia, the
Democratic Republic of Congo, Liberia, Sierra Leone, the Ivory Coast and
Darfur. Zimbabwe can easily follow suit just like that.

The possibilities of a military coup and a chaotic spontaneous uprising in
Zimbabwe today, both which would certainly move things forward even if in
undesirable ways, can be avoided through the adoption of one of the other
two choices in our midst: an act of critically needed statesmanship by
Mugabe to put Zimbabwe first by retiring now or the emergence of a united
front bringing together progressive nationalists from across the political
divide to save Zimbabwe.

If he could understand what it means to put Zimbabwe first beyond partisan
interests as he urged others to do in his Tuesday address, Mugabe would
realise that it is still possible and desirable for him to step down before
March 2008 by using the proposed 18th constitutional amendment to facilitate
his exit and to allow for a transition that would safeguard his legacy,
secure his immunity after leaving office and enable him to appoint his
successor through parliament.

Zimbabwe would regenerate and move forward to a new and better dispensation
with international support. This is a possible and desirable choice in
Mugabe's hands.

But there is more than enough reason not to leave the fate of our bleeding
country in Mugabe's hands because he cannot be trusted to act like a
statesman given his penchant for self-interest.

It is possible and very desirable for Zimbabweans from across the political
divide to come together to forge a united front of nationalist progressives
to dislodge Mugabe and Zanu PF at the polls in March 2008.

If synchronised presidential and parliamentary elections take place next
March and if Mugabe and Zanu PF win, the current crisis will most definitely
become a catastrophe overnight and future generations will never understand
why the present pool of nationalist progressives in politics, business,
civil society, churches, student groups and professions failed to unite to
save Zimbabwe for posterity.

Professor Jonathan Moyo is a political scientist and independent MP for
Tsholotsho. He can be contacted on e-mail

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WOZA hold peaceful demonstrations in Bulawayo

By Violet Gonda
30 July 2007

Pressure for the government to reform is mounting in Zimbabwe. Last week
scores of activists from the National Constitutional Assembly (NCA) took to
the streets countrywide calling for a people driven constitution and this
week it was the turn of the Women/Men of Zimbabwe, who took part in peaceful
street actions in several areas of Bulawayo. The activists were demanding
food on the shelves and meaningful economic reforms. No arrests were

An open letter carried by the WOZA protestors outlined several demands to
both businesses and government, including the request that government and
the manufacturing sector should negotiate in good faith to find ways to
produce more affordable food without compromising the living wage of
workers; that the Price Control Task Force be reshuffled and be selected in
a transparent manner and that government stop harassing shop owners and
allow them to stock and trade freely and honestly at the price set.
The government embarked on a price cut war several weeks ago that saw more
than 5000 business directors and owners being arrested. It is widely
believed the people who gained the most were the few with money and members
of the security forces.

Meanwhile, the police have now left the NCA Harare and Bulawayo offices. The
offices were sealed off on Wednesday after a violent crackdown on the
activists by the security forces. Score of people were beaten and arrested.
NCA chairperson Dr Lovemore Madhuku said the police finally left on Sunday.
Most of the people who were arrested countrywide have now been released,
except in Mutare where three are still in custody. Madhuku said at least
eight people are still in hospital.

SW Radio Africa Zimbabwe news

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Four arrested as police ban ZCTU AIDS workshop Kadoma

By Tererai Karimakwenda
30 July, 2007

On Friday police disrupted a workshop on HIV/AIDs organised by the Zimbabwe
Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) in Kadoma and arrested four officials,
claiming the meeting was "illegal." They released three of them without
charge late evening Friday, but the president of the Pulp and Paper Workers
Union, John Ngirazi, spent the night in police cells and was released
Saturday morning. ZCTU information officer Khumbulani Ndlovu said Ngirazi
was due to appear in court Monday but police failed to make a case against
him and decided they would proceed by way of summons.

The Public Order and Security Act (POSA) used by police to ban the Kadoma
workshop, requires police to be notified ahead of any gathering. But police
have used this legislation to ban rallies by the opposition and numerous
events organised by students and pro-democracy groups, perceived to be
enemies of the state. On many occasions they have used brute force to
disperse the crowds and arrest participants, only to release them without
charge after a brief detention. Many have claimed they were assaulted while
in custody.

Among the group arrested Friday was Mildred Giyaya, the ZCTU's HIV and AIDS
co-ordinator, and a Ms. Hungwe whom Ndhlovu described as a HIV/AIDS
specialist from the International Labour Organisation. Ndhlovu said the
police released them after getting cold feet when they discovered Hungwe
worked for the ILO. The workshop was intended to educate members of the Pulp
and Paper Workers' Union, a ZCTU affiliate. But the participants were
ordered to disperse immediately as the police accused organisers of failing
to seek clearance ahead of time.

Ndlovu said the ZCTU general council met in Harare on Saturday to discuss
options for the way forward, including mass action which they had threatened
to conduct by the end of July, if the government failed to adjust workers'
salaries in line with the hyperinflation that has gripped the country.
Ndhlovu explained that the General Council had decided to hold further
consultations with workers around the country as to the nature and timing of
the mass protests.

SW Radio Africa Zimbabwe news

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ZINASU says 3 students murdered along Airport road Harare

By Lance Guma
30 July 2007.

The Zimbabwe National Students Union (ZINASU) claims 3 students from the
University of Zimbabwe were murdered by unknown assailants along airport
road in Harare's Hatfield suburb. The incident allegedly took place
Wednesday, but ZINASU was only recently able to piece the information
together. One student died on the spot, while two others passed away the
following day. A fourth student is said to have survived the attack but is
in a coma and struggling for life in the Intensive Care Unit of a local
hospital. The victims were all coming from writing exams on campus in Mount
Pleasant and fell prey to the assailants after failing to secure transport
to their temporary accommodation in Hatfield. A new law slashing prices by
half has decimated most business sectors, including the transport industry,
and led many operators to withdraw their vehicles.

One of the students was buried over the weekend and a prayer service held
for him at St Joseph's parish in Hatfield on Sunday. ZINASU coordinator
Washington Katema told Newsreel they are still trying to piece together
details of the case and have already dispatched a team to try and
investigate further. He said the students are currently facing accommodation
problems after over 4000 were evicted from their halls of residence on the
9th July. UZ authorities have since defied a High Court order reversing the
Additionally, two student activists were abducted and tortured by military
police over the weekend, for allegedly working with pro-democracy groups in
the country. This happened in the same area the murders took place.
Wellington Zindove and Innocent Kasiyano were picked up at the behest of an
army captain attached to 2 brigade and detained at the army barracks in
Cranborne, Harare. Although the cases are separate, the proximity of the
incidents has raised eyebrows. The barracks are situated along the same
airport road where the murdered students were found. Information gathered so
far indicates that a Captain Danisa Mpofu personally led the assault and
torture of the students who were being kept at the barracks.
Katema was part of the group but was not detained. He said the army captain
instructed military police to arrest his colleagues because they were
discussing the salaries of soldiers and police officers. This he said was
likely 'to cause alarm and despondency,' the captain claimed. Lawyers Arnold
Tsunga, Tafadzwa Mugabe and Tinoziva Bere, who are representing the
students, have already filed a complaint at Braeside Police station. They
also successfully secured the release of the students from army custody.
Also caught up in the storm was the owner of a shop called Galactica,
situated in the same area. He was arrested at the same time and tortured by
the same Captain Mpofu over the weekend.

Meanwhile National University of Science and Technology Students Union
President Clever Bere has released a statement saying the university has
suspended 3 students for one year, and summoned 5 others to appear before a
students disciplinary committee. Vivid Gwede, Kurai Hoyi and Samson Nxumalo
have each been handed one-year suspensions after they were found guilty of
inciting students to demonstrate.

The students describe the committee as a 'kangaroo court.' Bere, Mehluli
Dube, Themba Mapenduka, Vanencio Jachi and Samson Nxumalo are the remaining
five activists set to appear before the students' disciplinary hearing. Bere
described the charges as 'frivolous and vexatious and just meant to
victimise those seen to be against the state and also to destabilize the
students' movement.'

SW Radio Africa Zimbabwe news

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Abducted students freed without charge

30th Jul 2007 18:39 GMT

By a Correspondent

HARARE - Two student activists who were abducted by the military police and
allegedly tortured Sunday night were released into the hands of their
lawyers without being charged after midnight.

Wellington Zindove and Innocent Kasiyo were released after lawyers Arnold
Tsunga, Tinoziva Bere and Tafadzwa Mugabe argued that they be released from
the barracks to the police in Braeside. The military police who abducted
them were from 2 Brigade.

A statement from the lawyers said: "The two youngsters who were abducted,
detained and tortured by the army last night were released to Tsunga and
Bere at midnight without charge after ZRP Braeside agreed to intervene."

"They were thoroughly tortured and had bloodstained clothes and non visible
injuries to the head and under the feet."
More details about the abduction are still to be released by the lawyers.

Meanwhile Zinasu reports that three student leaders from the National
University of Science and Technology (NUST), Vivid Gwede, the students union
secretary general, and council members, Kurai Hoyi and Samson Nxumalo were
today suspended for one year.

The three, who sat at a disciplinary hearing on 23 May, were found guilty on
charges of inciting students and leading a demonstration at the university

Zinasu also says at least three UZ students were last Wednesday allegedly
murdered by unknown assailants along airport road, near Hatfield. They
allege transport problems could have exposed the students to meet their

"The victims were coming from writing examinations at campus in Mount
Pleasant and fell prey to assailants after they failed to secure transport
to their temporary base in the leafy Hatfield suburb."

"University of Zimbabwe students are currently facing accommodation problems
after they were evicted out of the campus residence on the 9th of July 2007
by the Vice Chancellor of the University of Zimbabwe, Professor Levy
Nyagura, university authorities and riot police. The other problem facing
not only students, but the nation at large is a critical shortage of
transport. This might have prompted the four to brave the night and foot
home," said Zinasu.

It continued: "One body was found dead on the spot. Two of the four passed
away on the following day, Thursday 26th of July 2007. The survivor is in a
critical condition in the intensive care unit (ICU) in a state of a coma."

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Press Statement: Beatings of Zimbabwean Pro-Democracy Activists


"I utterly condemn the violent and unwarranted action taken by the
Government on 25 July when riot police disrupted a number of peaceful
legitimate gatherings across Zimbabwe. The arbitrary detention and
of 243 National Constitutional Assembly (NCA) members in Harare and
more across Zimbabwe is completely unacceptable.

"The economic crisis needs national unity not political crackdown.
"The international community wants the proper treatment and release of
NCA members still in custody.

The initiative led by Thabo Mbeki is the best hope for the people of
Zimbabwe and the run up to the SADC Summit provides the right
 conditions for

Rt Hon David Milliband
Secretary of State for Foreign & Commonwealth Affairs

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Mbeki's Zimbabwe mediation efforts under threat


July 30, 2007, 20:45

President Thabo Mbeki's mediation efforts to resolve the Zimbabwean crisis
appear to be under threat following the withdrawal of a faction of the
country's opposition MDC from the "Save Zimbabwe" coalition. The coalition
is an alliance under which the opposition was speaking with one voice.

Arthur Mutambara, who leads one faction of the divided MDC, made an about
turn declaring that his faction would contest next year's presidential
elections independent of the Morgan Tsvangirai faction.

Four months ago Mutambara said he would not contest against Tsvangirai in an
election in Zimbabwe. However, the opposition leader has changed his mind.
"Morgan Tsvangirai has shown himself to be an insecure, indecisive and weak
leader who has rejected the oportunity for him to be the presidential
candidate for all of us. We are prepared to back him all the way but
unfortunately he has rejected it," Mutambara said.

Political analysts say this could complicate President Mbeki's mediation
efforts. "If they are not going to speak as the "Save Zimbabwe" people, then
we might start hearing new voices. This development does have the possiblity
of threatening the mediation as much as it has the possiblity of creating
new developments for the mediation," says Jonathan Moya.

With elections only eight months away analysts say a fragmented MDC will
divide voters. This could tilt the tables in favour of Mugabe's ruling Zanu
(PF). But the ruling party has its own problems, as the succession issue has
also led to internal wranglings.

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Zanu-PF Wants to Make Mugabe President for Life

UN Integrated Regional Information Networks

30 July 2007
Posted to the web 30 July 2007


A recent central committee meeting of Zimbabwe's ruling ZANU-PF party called
for President Robert Mugabe to be installed as president for life, and the
creation of ideological schools targeting preschool children.

The minutes of the party's central committee and politburo meeting on 30
March - the two most powerful ZANU-PF organs, both chaired by Mugabe in his
capacity as president and first secretary of the ruling party - were adopted
on 4 May and subsequently leaked to an IRIN correspondent.

Amid an economic meltdown characterised by an inflation rate of more than
4,000 percent, South African President Thabo Mbeki, charged by the Southern
Africa Development Community with negotiating an end to Zimbabwe's political
impasse, acknowledged at the weekend that free and fair elections would be
the best route out of the crisis.

"The president should be president for life. There are no vacancies within
the presidency."

Mugabe, 83, has been in power since Zimbabwe achieved independence from
Britain in 1980, and has already declared his candidature in the
parliamentary and presidential elections scheduled for March 2008.

The ZANU-PF Women's League, composed of all female members of the party and
among Mugabe's most loyal followers, is leading the charge to have him
declared president for life. Zimbabwe's vice-president, Joseph Msika,
appeared to be the only one at the meeting opposed to awarding life
presidency to Mugabe.

"The president should be president for life. There are no vacancies within
the presidency," said Oppah Muchinguri, leader of the Women's League and
minister of gender and women's affairs, according to the minutes.

"We resolve that we will mobilise all young women to be in the Young Women's
League to strengthen the party," Muchinguri told the central committee
meeting, and suggested that instead of awarding presidential scholarships to
promising students from poor backgrounds, the children of party stalwarts
should be the recipients of the scholarships.

The scholarships are awarded for studies at Fort Hare University, in South
Africa, where Mugabe was a student before going into a life of politics.

Absalom Sikhosana, leader of the ZANU-PF Youth League, said drastic measures
were required if the ruling party was to remain in power.

"The youth have resolved that the plans for the Party Ideological School be
expedited to ensure consistence in inculcating the ideology of the party,
instilling values and norms across all levels of leadership, and to
institutionalise these norms and values from preschool levels."

A ZANU-PF central committee member told IRIN: "It was very obvious that the
presentations by the women and the youth were carefully choreographed, and
that Mugabe was aware of or behind the proposals to have him declared life

It is thought that the likelihood of the central committee resolutions being
implemented was high, as the meeting began with a pledge of loyalty to the
ruling party and its president.

John Nkomo, national chairman of ZANU-PF, refused to comment on whether
Mugabe would be installed as life president.

[ This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations ]

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Zimbabwe ups beef price

Monsters and Critics

Jul 30, 2007, 8:07 GMT

Harare - In a bid to ease worsening meat shortages in Zimbabwe, the
state-controlled beef company announced Monday it would increase by around
four times the amount it pays farmers for their cattle.

Earlier this month President Robert Mugabe's government banned private
slaughterhouses from operating as part of its campaign to cut prices.

Only the state-run Cold Storage Company was allowed to continue buying and
slaughtering stock. But the low prices it offered meant it was only
slaughtering around 100 cattle a day for this nation of 11 million people.

Now the CSC is paying between 10 million and 15 million Zimbabwean dollars
per beast, up from 3 million, Monday's edition of the official Herald daily

Cash would be paid for cattle sold on the spot by peasant farmers, a company
official said. But the new price is still way below the market value of
beef, which was around 40 million Zimbabwe dollars per beast before the
price blitz.

'We are willing to enter into negotiations with the farmers,' CSC head Ngoni
Chinogaramombe said.

'We need to buy cattle from farmers largely for local consumption and this
is why we are now moving to lure communal and resettled farmers,' he said.

The government's campaign to slash prices by at least 50 per cent for all
basic goods and services has created acute shortages of many commodities.

Meat freezers in supermarkets are empty, butcher shops have closed down and
most shop shelves are empty of basics like sugar, cooking oil, flour and

Police meanwhile Monday said they were extending their blitz - which has so
far netted around 5,000 business executives and shop and garage owners - to
people plying their trade on the informal market.

At least 150 street vendors were arrested in the capital Harare over the
weekend for selling basic commodities at highly-inflated prices, police
spokesman Bothwell Mugariri said.

© 2007 dpa - Deutsche Presse-Agentur

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Mugabe boosted by rivals' poll split

Financial Times

By Alec Russell in Johannesburg

Published: July 30 2007 02:02 | Last updated: July 30 2007 02:02

In a fillip to President Robert Mugabe, the breakaway wing of Zimbabwe's
opposition Movement for Democratic Change has decided to contest next year's
elections on its own, ending the chance of a united opposition against the

In a sign of the bitterness that marks relations between the two wings,
Arthur Mutambara, leader of the breakaway faction, described the other
leader, Morgan Tsvangirai as "weak and indecisive" and having a "perverted
agenda". The larger wing, led by Mr Tsvangirai, merely said it was still
fighting for the unification of all democratic forces against the "common
enemy", Mr Mugabe.

The failure of talks aimed at healing the two-year-old split is a blow to
the opposition's chances of mounting a serious challenge at presidential and
parliamentary elections planned for March.

Emboldened by the opposition's weakness, Mr Mugabe is expected to push for
the elections to be held then and not to cede to calls by some in the
opposition for a delay. Analysts expect that after months of obstructionism
his delegates will take a more conciliatory line at the mediation talks
being hosted by South Africa.

President Thabo Mbeki of South Africa, who was mandated by regional leaders
in March to mediate between the MDC and Zimbabwe's ruling Zanu-PF party, on
Sunday played down speculation that the process was close to collapse. He
expressed confidence the MDC and Zanu-PF would reach an agreement paving the
way for free and fair elections next year.

Neither wing of the MDC shares that optimism. Since its formation seven
years ago, the MDC has faced brutal intimidation from the security forces in
the countdown to two parliamentary elections and one presidential poll, all
of which it lost in disputed circumstances.

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Shhhh! Listen out for the first real rumblings of Mbeki's 'quiet diplomacy'

Comment from The Cape Times (SA), 30 July

Peter Fabricius

At last, quiet diplomacy! President Thabo Mbeki has been almost universally
slated for his "quiet diplomacy" in Zimbabwe, but, in fact, for quite a long
time it was rather "not quite diplomacy"; Mbeki was desperately trying to
fob it off on to someone else. But, since March, there has once again been
quiet diplomacy. That was when his fellow Southern African Development
Community (SADC) leaders officially mandated him to mediate negotiations
between the ruling Zanu PF and the opposition Movement for Democratic Change
(MDC). However, the diplomacy is now so quiet that we can't quite be sure
it's happening at all. Some say talks have broken down completely. Others
say the talks are at a critical juncture because President Robert Mugabe has
rejected the MDC's demand that negotiating a new constitution should be at
the top of the agenda.

Mugabe is, however, ready in principle to accept constitutional amendments
as well as other changes to ensure free and fair elections next year. These
would include the scrapping of the draconian legislation which suppresses
independent media and opposition political campaigning. In this scenario,
Mbeki has put this position to the MDC, but it is not clear if it has
accepted it. In another scenario, the two sides have completed a "homework
assignment" which Mbeki gave them - to isolate their differences, using a
draft new constitution they negotiated in 2004. The key differences they
have isolated are, naturally, to form the basis of a new round of formal
negotiations between them which will begin in Pretoria soon. According to
this scenario, some of the differences are as follows:

Zanu PF wants to retain the president's extensive executive powers,
while the MDC wants some to be shifted to a prime minister; Zanu PF wants to
retain the first-past-the-post, constituency electoral system (no doubt
because it is easier to manipulate), while the MDC wants a proportional
representation system; Both sides agree on the need to protect property
rights. But Zanu PF wants such protection to apply to the status quo - ie
that all the white farms illegally seized should remain the property of
their present owners; The MDC accepts that it will be impractical to take
back white farms carved up into small plots and given to peasant farmers,
but believes the large tracts of farmland given mostly to Mugabe's cronies
should be returned to their original owners.

In the latter scenario, Mbeki has persuaded Mugabe to introduce some
"confidence-building measures", including his recent decision to allow the
MDC to hold political rallies once again - but only with official
permission. We may also be seeing some dim signs of Mugabe rethinking his
disastrous Maoist campaign to curb inflation by force. The two latter
scenarios are not necessarily completely incompatible. Perhaps Mugabe feels
he would lose too much face if he allowed his enemies to make him accept a
whole new constitution. Perhaps Zanu PF and the MDC are merely using the
2004 draft as a research tool, and if they do resolve their differences,
they will - to mollify Mugabe - legislate these as constitutional
amendments, however fundamental they might be. Who knows? It would be a
reckless or foolish person who put more than a few billion Zimbabwe dollars
on Mugabe ever agreeing to either of these scenarios, since both would
jeopardise his grip on power.

If he is going along with the talks now, probably to avoid looking like the
spoiler, he is sure to dig in his heels somewhere down the track. And then
the question will once again arise: does Mbeki have the guts to face him
down? An ANC insider recently remarked that the reason Nelson Mandela had
appointed Cyril Ramaphosa, instead of Mbeki, to head the ANC negotiations at
the Convention for a Democratic South Africa was because Ramaphosa, being a
tough unionist, would put the squeeze on the National Party. "Whereas, if
Mbeki had been in charge, we would still be negotiating!" he quipped.

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Parliament to Shape Next Year's Election Battleground

Institute for War & Peace Reporting

Proposals cover expanded legislature, changes to constituencies, and even
the eventuality that President Mugabe might opt to retire.

By Benedict Unendoro in Harare (AR No. 124, 30-July-07)

The future of President Robert Mugabe is the underlying theme to two bills
which will be debated in the Zimbabwean parliament during its current
session, the last before elections are held in March next year.

A set of amendments contained in the two bills will define many of the rules
for the presidential and parliamentary elections which are likely to be held
simultaneously next March. It also makes provision for what would happen if
Mugabe chose to stand down.

Opening parliament on July 24, President Mugabe said, "Your task as
parliamentarians during this session is a mammoth one."

The most controversial bill on the agenda would amend the constitution to
allow both houses of parliament to sit jointly as an electoral college to
select a replacement should a sitting president resign, die, or be impeached
or otherwise incapacitated. The replacement would serve until the end of the
elected president's term in office.

The change would give Mugabe some breathing-space in the event that he
decided to step down as head of state, since his immediate successor would
be handpicked rather than a potentially troublesome figure who came to power
through direct elections.

Some politicians - including those in the faction-riven ZANU-PF - see the
change as opening up an exit route that Mugabe might conceivably use.
Opposition politicians, however, say it is just a ruse to wrong-foot
dissenters within ZANU-PF, and in reality the president is unlikely to
retire swiftly once - as seems likely - he wins next year's polls.

Under the same 18th Amendment Bill, the number of seats in the lower house
of parliament would rise from 120 to 210 while the number of senators in the
upper chamber would go from 66 to 84.

Finally, the bill would establish a human rights commission for Zimbabwe.

The second bill due to be tabled would set out the management of the
electoral process, from drawing constituency boundaries and registering
voters to running the elections themselves. This law is not expected to
change past practice where Mugabe loyalists have overseen the whole process.

"The two bills have inherent dangers lurking in them," said Absolom Choga, a
member of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change, MDC. "Mugabe wants
to remain in power and is the ruling party's candidate in next year's
presidential elections. So the bills will be tailored in such a way that
this is fulfilled, prolonging the country's political and economic crisis."

Chogo sees the two bills as complementary. The electoral bill will ensure
that the additional seats in both houses of parliament will go to the ruling
ZANU-PF party, while constituency boundaries will be gerrymandered for
partisan reasons. The additional seats are being created in those areas
where Mugabe's support is solid, while the number of opposition-friendly
constituencies is being reduced.

Chogo said he agreed with former information and publicity minister Jonathan
Moyo, who wrote in the Zimbabwe Independent recently that in expanding the
two houses of parliament, Mugabe was simply extending his own patronage

The MDC has already complained that the ongoing registration of voters is
being done in a way that makes it impossible for its supporters to sign up,
thereby skewing the elections before they are held.

"We have encountered a plethora of obstacles," said MDC spokesman Nelson
Chamisa last month. "People suspected of being sympathetic to the MDC are
being denied the chance to register. this is a nationwide problem."

Chamisa said that in rural areas, chiefs and other traditional leaders, who
were well known for their loyalty to Mugabe and ZANU-PF, had been given the
job of screening and vetting people wishing to register, and they were
blocking known opposition supporters.

Lovemore Madhuku, chairman of the National Constitutional Assembly, a
non-government organisation which has pressed for an all-new democratic
constitution, last week described the 18th Amendment Bill as "treacherous
and contemptuous."

"Zimbabwe needs a constitution that entrenches human rights and freedoms,
ensures a free and open society and an electoral system that gives citizens
power to elect leaders who are responsive to their needs," he said.

Madhuku also suggested that the constitutional amendment would scupper the
mediation effort led by South African President Thabo Mbeki on behalf of the
Southern African Development Community to negotiate a political settlement
between the Zimbabwean government and the opposition.

"The amendment goes against the spirit of dialogue. The basis for dialogue
is to replace unilateral decision-making with consensus and the inclusion of
the opposition," said Madhuku. "The amendment has its origin entirely in the
ZANU PF politburo."

MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai last week urged Mugabe to withdraw the bill as
a sign he was serious about the Mbeki-led talks.

Moyo, who is now the only independent legislator in parliament after losing
his government post after falling out with Mugabe, urged mediators not to
ignore the 18th Amendment Bill, otherwise they risked "dropping, if not
losing, the ball". That, he warned, "would most certainly result in
embarrassing failure with catastrophic consequences".

At the same time, he said the bill could offer "the best opportunity for a
meaningful compromise towards the much-needed transition from crisis to
sustainable development under a democratic dispensation", provided ZANU-PF
and the MDC could discuss the proposal in a mature way.

Moyo recommended that a workable version of the bill would stipulate an
independent registrar to oversee voter lists; accountable and representative
commissions to manage constituency demarcation and the elections themselves;
freedom for anyone to conduct voter education; and access to media for all
political parties and candidates well in advance of any vote.

The current session of parliament will also see discussions on a third
contentious bill, which would effectively allow the government to
nationalise foreign-owned companies by requiring that 51 per cent of the
shares in any firm are owned by indigenous Zimbabweans.

When the government ordered retailers to slash their prices last month in a
bid to curb inflation, Mugabe warned businesses that they could face
nationalisation if they did not comply.

Analysts say that although Mugabe may see the bill as a way of bolster
support in the business sector ahead of next year's elections, it would in
reality lead to the flight of investors, doing further damage to the country's

Benedict Unendoro is the pseudonym of a reporter in Harare.

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MDC unity talks collapse

By Violet Gonda
30 July 2007

Many people had pinned their hopes on the divided MDC reuniting to give the
democratic forces more strength to fight the dictatorship, but chances of
that were quashed this weekend. Professor Arthur Mutambara announced at a
press conference in Harare that the unity talks had collapsed, saying the
Tsvangirai MDC had spurned a coalition offer to become the sole opposition
candidate in presidential elections scheduled for next year. Mutambara also
announced that his party was no longer part of the Save Zimbabwe Campaign.

He launched a scathing attack on his rival saying: "If Morgan Tsvangirai
does not understand the strategic value of unity in our struggle against
Mugabe, Council wonders whether he is fit to be the President of Zimbabwe.
If Morgan Tsvangirai is such a weak and indecisive leader who cannot embrace
what ordinary Zimbabweans are demanding (unity of action and purpose), is he
worthy of the presidency of this country? Zimbabweans deserve better
MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai's response was more measured. He told his
supporters at a rally in Kuwadzana that it was pointless spending energy
attacking Mutambara, as the real enemy was Robert Mugabe. He said: "We need
unity of all progressive forces in this country. The enemy is not
Tsvangirai. The enemy is Mugabe."

The MDC split in October 2005 as a result of infighting, personality
differences and disagreements on strategies.
NCA chairperson Dr Lovemore Madhuku said it's unfortunate that things have
turned this way for the opposition in Zimbabwe. But he said people should
now stop wasting time pursuing unity talks. "I think to create a lot of time
pursuing so-called unity talks is really a waste of time. We know these
people. It's not something that we are thinking about in abstract. We know
who they are and what they think about each other and so why would people
really want to see Morgan Tsvangirai sitting side-by-side with Welshman
Ncube when we know that they cannot sit in the same way, and they don't
respect each other at all. I think it's a waste of time doing that." Madhuku
The civic leader said for the sake of progress the people needed to accept
the reality that the two groups are now separate political formations adding
that there are processes now for the factions to have separate identities.

Madhuku, whose pressure group is also a member of the Save Zimbabwe
Campaign, said the divisions are only in the opposition political parties
and not among the civil society. He said the Save Zimbabwe Campaign would
continue to fight for democracy and take part in street protests.
Madhuku said it is the political parties who should be doing this, as they
command the larger numbers, but that it is unfortunate the two MDC factions
do not seem to be committed to the process of mass protest or committed to
the process of unity.
Zimbabweans now wait to see what is going to happen with the SADC initiative
where the two MDCs were participating in the talks as one. It is reported
that they will continue to meet for the talks. Critics ask how the MDC can
be in the talks as one unit, when they appear to so seriously oppose each

SW Radio Africa Zimbabwe news

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What can save SA's northern neighbour?

From The Weekender (SA), 28 July

It makes economic sense for SA to help Zimbabwe's economy recover, but
without the necessary reforms, options are limited, writes Jean-Francois

The economy of Zimbabwe has been going from bad to worse in recent years.
Real gross domestic product (GDP) has contracted about 30% since 1999 and in
April the International Monetary Fund (IMF) said it expected another
contraction of 5,7% in 2007. Using 2000 exchange rates and prices, per
capita GDP has fallen to less than $500 from an average of $733 in
1997-2001. Hyperinflation has set in, rising to 3714% year on year in April
(the latest data available, probably by far underestimating "actual"
inflation). This has prompted desperate responses from President Robert
Mugabe's regime - including sending security forces into shops to enforce a
halving of prices and threatening nationalis ation of manufacturers and

The budget deficit has ballooned (the IMF projects 26% of GDP this year,
excluding massive quasi-fiscal spending) and financing via money creation
has been the key source of hyper-inflation. Foreign exchange reserves are
almost nonexistent. However, the direct consequences of Zimbabwe's economic
crisis for the South African economy are relatively limited. Last year,
South African exports to Zimbabwe represented $1,07bn - 2,1% of total
exports or 0,4% of GDP. Equally, SA's foreign assets in Zimbabwe (including
foreign direct investments ) are low, at about $1,5bn . Economic links
between SA and Zimbabwe - for instance, investments by mining companies in
Zimbabwe or electricity supplies from SA - are more important from a
Zimbabwean point of view.

Finally, the potential for negative Zimbabwean news to affect investor
sentiment towards SA - or, for that matter, other neighbouring countries -
is far smaller than when the crisis began in 2000, as investors have
increasingly differentiated political risk between the countries. However,
the Zimbabwe crisis has led to a rising influx of economic migrants/refugees
into neighbouring countries, especially SA , and reports suggest that the
flow has recently intensified. Possible economic, social and humanitarian
consequences of a meltdown in Zimbabwe and massive population displacement
have reportedly raised worries among South African authorities. In such an
environment, the idea was floated of possible South African support to help
stabilise the Zimbabwean dollar and halt hyperinflation, including the
country' s possible incorporation in the "rand zone".

This zone, formally known as the common monetary a rea (CMA), encompasses SA
, Namibia, Lesotho and Swaziland. CMA countries retain their own central
banks and national currencies, but the rand is also allowed to circulate as
legal tender. There are no restrictions on current or capital account
transactions within the area , and exchange controls with the rest of the
world are harmonised with those of SA. There are two reasons the CMA exists
and why it works: the small size of the non-South African economies versus
SA - with SA representing 95% of the total - and the strong economic links
between the member states, which mean that the positives from currency pegs
(a stability framework) outweigh the negatives (relative loss of sovereignty
and limited ability to respond to terms of trade shocks). Interest rates do
not always follow South African Reserve Bank policy - for instance, in
Namibia - but room for deviation is limited.

In effect, the CMA imposes constraints on the smaller members, while posing
no threat to monetary stability in SA. Namibia's monetary agreement with SA
stipulates that the amount of Namibian dollars issued by the Bank of Namibia
is equal to its rand reserves and other foreign currencies. This is the same
as a currency board agreement and effectively prevents the Bank of Namibia
accessing the South African Reserve Bank's "printing press". But this is the
reason why the CMA cannot be extended to Zimbabwe now. The effective
abandonment of monetary sovereignty by Zimbabwe would force a massive
tightening of monetary and fiscal policies, as the budget deficit and money
supply would have to be slashed overnight. In the absence of structural
reforms (political and economic) this would exacerbate the country's

In fact, there are good reasons to believe the Mugabe regime would not be
interested in slashing the budget deficit, as the ability to extend
financial patronage to supporters, such as the security forces, is a key
factor in its survival. Of course, linking the Zimbabwean dollar to the rand
could be accompanied by financial assistance from the South African Reserve
Bank in the form of credit to the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe. Such a loan
would raise the Bank of Zimbabwe's reserves above their near-zero levels.
However, in the absence of political and economic reforms, this would only
delay the inevitable, as the central bank would quickly exhaust these
reserves in trying to defend an unsustainable peg. The only way to enforce a
peg between the rand and the Zimbabwean dollar with no economic or policy
shifts in Zimbabwe, would be for the South African Reserve Bank or other
international institutions to continuously supply the Bank of Zimbabwe with
foreign exchange assistance. But multilateral assistance to Zimbabwe would
only be given under conditions of reform.

Were SA to assist an "unreformed" Zimbabwe on its own, financial markets
might perceive the bale out as amounting to SA sharing monetary sovereignty
with Zimbabwe. The potential consequences for the rand and South African
asset markets would be too drastic for political authorities to contemplate
such an option. Hence, financial markets need not worry about any dilution
of South African monetary sovereignty in order to stave off the crisis in
Zimbabwe. It is important to remember that the Southern African Development
Community countries, where SA has a GDP weight of about 70%, have set a goal
of establishing a monetary union - but not before 2018 and under conditions:
that inflation fall to 3% by that year , low deficits and declining public
debt ratios. Zimbabwe is far from meeting the criteria at present, and will
require massive reforms before contemplating engaging in such an agreement.

This is not to say that in the event of progress towards political,
institutional and economic reform in Zimbabwe, SA would not participate in a
rescue package - possibly, in co-operation with other multilateral or
bilateral donors - to help turn around the Zimbabwean economy. Such
assistance could take the form of a rand-denominated loan or credit line to
the Bank of Zimbabwe to beef up its reserves. A loan to Zimbabwe would be a
negative entry in SA 's balance of payments, but SA 's economy is more than
20 times larger than its northern neighbour, so any package would probably
remain small relative to SA 's GDP. Moreover, were the package to help
Zimbabwe's economy recover, economic implications for the region would
eventually be positive. But political reform must come first, and for the
beleaguered Zimbabwean economy, the sooner the better.

Mercier is chief economist SA at Citi SA

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'Stop the Deportations to Zimbabwe'


[Opinion] Representatives fight for more 'compassionate
approach' from Britain

Isaac Hlekisani Dziya

Published 2007-07-30 15:10 (KST)

Representatives across Britain these days will demand that all
deportations to Zimbabwe be suspended because people who are forced to
return face persecution by a paranoid and moribund dictatorship.

Thousands of asylum-seekers fear they will face torture or even murder
if they are deported to Zimbabwe, an unstable state plagued by human rights

Their fight for the new Home Secretary, Jacqui Smith, to take a more
compassionate approach to the issue is being backed by many MPs of all
parties, by refugee groups and by trade unions.

Amnesty International has already warned that executions, murders,
arbitrary arrests and imprisonment, torture and life-threatening prison
conditions are routine in Zimbabwe.

This year, more than 100 people have disappeared without trace in
Harare, the capital; another 200 died in the southern region and much of the
east of the vast country is extremely volatile.

Campaigners say failed asylum-seekers sent back to the Zimbabwe become
prime targets because they are seen as traitors and they warn that some
people sent back have disappeared.

Even without all this, why would a progressive and humanitarian
government want to send anybody, without preparation nor means of survival
to a country where the entire population is now faced with starvation as
companies close in the face of command economic policies?

A court challenge to the Home Office's insistence that the country is
safe is currently being heard at the Asylum and Immigration Tribunal.
Activists continue to lobby and present information about the dangers to
opposition activists and other dissenting voices in Zimbabwe.

As a former Assistant Commissioner with the Zimbabwe Republic Police,
I know for a fact that by sending failed asylum seekers to Zimbabwe, the
British government would be sending them to their certain deaths.

There are special units within the intelligence organisations that
operate from every entry point into Zimbabwe. These guys know their business
and can never be underestimated, and worst of all they are no longer

Deportations to Zimbabwe must be stopped indefinitely, in response to
the obvious deteriorating situation in the country where there is no more
law and order, no respect for human rights, and in fact chaos is reigning.

We do not have to look far for examples; in yesterday's Times mothers
demonstrating for Constitutional amendments were reportedly beaten for four
hours; police laying women on the floor and beating them with 1-metre long
baton sticks. When one got tired another one took over, according to the

I am hopeful that the British government will realise it has taken a
long time to deal with failed asylum seekers from Zimbabwe, and that over
15,000 Zimbabweans are pinning their hopes on the outcome of the tribunal
hearing. A large number of these claims remain unresolved or have been

Many people's lives have already been ruined by continued detention,
failure to work or to advance their education and basic lack of food and
shelter ? and this happening in the First World!

The situation is dire. The treatment of failed asylum-seekers is very
bad. It would be safer and fairer to halt forced removals while the
situation in Zimbabwe reaches its obvious boiling point, which all agree is
not far now.

I warn that many people will simply disappear when they arrive back in
Zimbabwe, and with the country in the state that it is in, even if the
British wanted to track people after they are deported, they probably could

I believe the British Government has a "moral obligation" not to
deport people to countries that are unsafe. Jacqui Smith should part company
from her predecessors and not play politics with asylum.

There have been moratoriums on deportations in the past, why not now?
There is no earthly reason why the British Government cannot wait until the
country stabilizes. I believe the British Government has a moral obligation
not to send people back to a country that is in a state of total chaos.

The British Government has always said that every case should be
treated on its merits. If there is serious evidence of appalling abuse in
some parts of Zimbabwe, then they will have to act on it.

There are estimated more than 16,145 Zimbabwean asylum seekers in
Britain and they are all considered "British agents of regime change". There
is no rational questioning procedure to establish whether one is an agent or
not ? just torture, which is covered up by discarding the body.

While the Home Office says they examine with great care each
individual case before removal and we will not remove anyone who they
believe is at risk, I challenge them to prove that they have an apparatus to
reach even the high density areas of Harare to get information, let alone
the rural areas of Zimbabwe.

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Zim refugees flood inner cities


    July 29 2007 at 03:10PM

By Jeremy Gordin and Eleanor Momberg

The river of Zimbabwean refugees, mainly fleeing the economic meltdown
in their country, is bursting its banks in the middle of Johannesburg and

In the vestibule of Johannesburg's Central Methodist Church there is a
plaque in memory of those church members who died during the two world
wars - and all around it, ironically, is a scene that seems straight out of
the grainy black-and-white footage of battered refugees trapped somewhere
during the Second World War.

About 1 500 refugees, mainly men but also women and infants, 90
percent of whom are Zimbabwean, are living in the stairwells, passages,
rooms and offices of the three floors of the church building in Pritchard
Street, Johannesburg.

Paul Verryn, the Methodist bishop of Johannesburg, said that the
situation had been "bad" since January but that in the past few weeks, after
shelves had emptied and food had started running out in Zimbabwe, "we
started feeling the effect of that right here, in the shape of people".

Each piece of cold stone floor in the building is someone's living and
sleeping space. Teachers, carpenters, lawyers, accountants and philosophers
slept in the church building on any night, Verryn said.

The stench of unwashed human bodies - ablution facilities are
limited - is overpowering and in the nave of the church, where Verryn
officiated at his weekly "refugees' meeting", it was difficult to hear his
and others' voices above the incessant, grating sound of hacking coughs.

"If you think this is dire, try our church in Marabastad in Pretoria,"
said Verryn. "There the hygiene situation is so bad that we have to watch
out for serious health problems."

These refugees, in places of safety such as churches or on the city
streets, are a small percentage of the thousands of Zimbabweans who have
been entering the country, legally or illegally, for months.

The actual number of Zimbabweans crossing into South Africa remains
clouded by claim and counter-claim.

Cleo Mosana, the media liaison officer for the minister of home
affairs, said that, daily, an average of 6 500 people of all nationalities
entered the country via Beit Bridge and an average of half of that number

On July 25, for example, 4 186 people entered South Africa from
Zimbabwe and 2 627 left, Mosana said.

But these were legal crossings. During the first two weeks of July,
soldiers and police allegedly arrested more than 5 000 illegal
border-crossers. Maggie Sotyu, the national assembly safety and security
committee chairperson, said that this number was only "the people we manage
to catch".

Every week, more than 2 000 illegal Zimbabweans are being deported
from a holding facility at Musina.

Jacky Mashapu, a home affairs spokesperson, said nearly 15 000 illegal
Zimbabwean immigrants had been deported from the Lindela repatriation
facility in the past two weeks.

Lieutenant-Colonel Mogorosi Baatweng of the Botswana Defence Force
(BDF) confirmed that "the BDF is patrolling the border with Zimbabwe to
prevent illegal immigrants and other illegal cross-border activities".

Vitalis Nyakudya arrived illegally in Johannesburg two weeks ago from
Zimbabwe, via Botswana. The father of four children, left behind in
Zimbabwe, Nyakudya, 40, displayed livid scars on his arms that he said had
been inflicted by war veterans.

"What I need, like everyone else, is asylum," said Nyakudya.

"But it is so difficult, ask any of these people, and the delays are
so bad. So I am likely to be deported. But the thing is that, even if I can
earn R200 or R300, I will be taking back good money."

Nyakudya said his goal was to make as much money as possible because
his youngest child, a girl, required an operation "to remove papilloma" from
her nose, which would cost the equivalent of R3 500.

"That is why I don't mind being interviewed by the media," he said,
"why I don't mind giving my name."

Verryn said that most of the refugees were unwilling to be
photographed for fear of being identified by Zimbabwe's notorious Central
Intelligence Organisation operatives.

"Don't underestimate the level of terror that is being carried out in
Zimbabwe and don't underestimate its sophistication," he said.

"Lately I have seen and heard things that make the atrocities here of
the 1970s and 1980s seem like small potatoes."

Addressing the refugees' meeting, Verryn said to everyone: "Remember
you are not worthless and you are not to consider yourselves as such. You
are in control of your own future and I am here to help you do that.

"If you do, for example, want your picture taken, or if you want to
remain silent about yourself, that is your privilege in this building."

Peter X - he declined to give his surname - is a qualified teacher
from a small town about 40km north of Harare, who crossed the Limpopo River
on foot. He has been in Johannesburg for about six months, during which time
he has lived at the church.

"Yes, I live here in a sleeping bag and do work for the church, for
which I get paid. Anyway, I'm not a political refugee like some people. I am
a straightforward economic refugee," he said.

"As a teacher, I was earning the equivalent of R100 a month in
Zimbabwe. I couldn't manage to keep myself, my wife and our child on that. I
ran away from the Zimbabwean economic meltdown - or is it evaporation by
now? So I came to South Africa."

Asked what kind of assistance the church was receiving from the city
fathers, the only comment that Verryn would make on the record was "not very

On Friday, Jack Redden, the spokesperson for the United Nations high
commissioner for refugees in Pretoria, said reports that contingency plans -
such as a special refugee camp for Zimbabweans in Musina - were being drawn
up by the UN and the government were not accurate.

"We always have plans in place and it is our job to assist the local
government with such matters. But no red lights have been flashing from the
government in the last few weeks. As far as I know, it's business as usual,"
he said.

Mosana said that there was "no need" to set up refugee camps to cater
for the influx of Zimbabweans. She said there was "an integrated government
plan" in place to deal with an influx of refugees.

What the plan was, she would not say, but she said a number of steps
were being considered by the department as part of its restructuring plan.

The department, she said, "is not a political football, like this
thing (the Zimbabwean issue) is, and we are not going to be pressured into

This article was originally published on page 1 of Sunday Independent
on July 29, 2007

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Contrarian heaven

From The Financial Mail (SA), 27 July

By Sasha Planting

Investing in the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange is not for widows and orphans, says
BoE Stockbrokers director Chris Cornell, "but there are opportunities for
those with an appetite for risk". This follows BoE Private Clients' recent
investment fact-finding mission to Zimbabwe. In June the company hosted 65
clients at Victoria Falls. "Listed equities, particularly those with hard
assets, have preserved wealth in hard currency terms," says Cornell.
"Zimbabwe has good assets that are trading at huge discounts to replacement
value." BoE is not alone in its analysis. Investor interest in Zimbabwe is
growing, lured by plunging asset prices and a belief that recovery once
President Robert Mugabe leaves will be swift. In June, Zimbabwe Stock
Exchange chairman Bart Mswaka hosted no fewer than eight delegations. One of
these was a New York fund manager that specialises in investing in
distressed economies, most notably in Romania and Croatia. "We did the
sums - they made 100 times their money in Romania," says Cornell.

This week, UK conglomerate Lonrho said it had raised an initial US$66m from
shareholders towards a new subsidiary, Lonzim. The aim, Lonrho chairman
David Lenigas told the Financial Times, was to buy up assets with a
significant opportunity for future growth. Recently Imara, a financial
services company, re opened its Zimbabwe fund; it attracted such strong
international support that it was closed within two weeks. Because of tight
liquidity in the Harare equity market, inflows could not be placed quickly
enough. "There is appetite for Zimbabwean equities," says Imara CEO Mark
Tunmer. "You can pick up shares that are trading on about one or two times
earnings, and just 5% and 10% of replacement costs." Valuation methods like
price to book value and replacement cost are being used when considering
entry to the ZSE. "Future returns are likely to come out of a combination of
a hardening local currency and increasing asset values," says BoE portfolio
manager Thomas Chataika.

For instance, Circle Cement, a subsidiary of Lafarge, which produces 450 000
t of cement a year and has a market capitalisation of US$28m, has a
replacement cost of up to US$300m. Dawn Properties, holding company of about
17 hotels managed by Zimbabwe Sun, has a market cap of US$53m - yet it would
cost US$150m to build one Elephant Hills hotel today. Inflation in Zimbabwe
is running at about 4 500%, though unofficial figures suggest it is double
that. Yet the stock exchange, with 80 firms listed, rose 12% last year in US
dollar terms, adjusted for inflation and exchange rate distortions. For the
average investor, options for investing in Zimbabwe are limited. "The most
important thing is to put your money in the country in a legal manner - so
that you can repatriate your capital and profits," says Chataika. Of course,
not everyone buys this view. "There are enough opportunities in SA," says
David Shapiro of Sasfin Frankel Polla k Securities. "Zimbabwe? You've got to
be out of your mind."

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Police Target Vendors

The Herald (Harare)  Published by the government of Zimbabwe

30 July 2007
Posted to the web 30 July 2007


Police  in Harare have started going after vendors in a move to smash the
black market that has seen goods in short supply being sold at prices far
above those permitted.

Police arrested 150 vendors in Mbare, Chikwanha, Mabvuku, Tafara and
Highfield over the weekend, said Senior Assistant Commissioner Bothwell
Mugariri yesterday.

When goods, such as cooking oil, sugar and soap, are delivered at
supermarkets, long queues form instantly. Most supermarkets now limit
quantities that a single shopper can buy, but the same people tend to hover
near supermarkets for the next delivery to build up stocks that are later
resold at far higher prices.

"We launched this critical operation because we realised that not many of
those who queue to buy sugar or cooking oil genuinely need to use it in the
homes. We have established that after buying they proceed to sell on the
black market and charging what many people cannot afford.

"The people seen in queues on Monday are the same people seen until Friday
buying the same commodities," he said.

He said sterner action would be taken against hoarders who were contributing
to the shortage of sugar, washing soap and cement, among other goods.

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Delays in Transfer of US$4m From Iran Stall Tractor-Making Venture

The Herald (Harare)  Published by the government of Zimbabwe

30 July 2007
Posted to the web 30 July 2007

Walter Muchinguri

DELAYS in the transfer of US$4 million from Iran has stalled a key
tractor-making venture being undertaken by the Industrial Development

The funds will be released in the form of a grant to Government, which will,
in turn, disburse it as a loan to IDC.

Willowvale Mazda Motor Industries, a subsidiary of the industrial
conglomerate, will assemble the tractors at its Willowvale factory, where a
separate tractor plant has been set up.

IDC general manager Mr Mike Ndudzo said the delays had affected the shipment
of kits to WMMI.

The setting up of the tractor manufacturing plant was already complete, Mr
Ndudzo said.

He told the Deputy Minister of Industry and International Trade, Mr Phineas
Chihota, during the IDC's annual general meeting that the delays had been
encountered on the Iran side as Government had done its part including
opening a joint account and signing a Memorandum of Understanding with the
Iranian government.

Mr Ndudzo said follow-ups had indicated that the delays were due to manpower
changes within the Iranian government. Mr Chihota pledged to make a
follow-up to ensure the money is released expeditiously.

Under the tractor project, to operate under the trade name Motira (Pvt) Ltd,
IDC and its technical partners Iranian Tractor Manufacturing Company (ITMCO)
and Dongfeng Agriculture Machinery Com pany of Iran would, in the first
instance, assemble tractor kits at the WMMI plant.

They would also manage the distribution and maintenance of the tractors once
they are sold.

In time, the two would be expected to invest in a foundry and forging plant
to manufacture the kits and tractors locally for both the local and regional

There is an overwhelming demand for tractors in Zimbabwe in view of the
agrarian reform programme, which began in 2000. In his last Cabinet
reshuffle in February this year, President Mugabe created a Ministry of
Mechanisation and Engineering, whose mandate is to ensure farmers are
equipped with the necessary implements, ranging from ploughs to tractors.

In an interview with a local daily newspaper last year Mr Ndudzo indicated
that the IDC had a full order book.

He, however, said the challenge lay in converting the demand into clients'
capacity to raise the required foreign currency to enable IDC to make draw
downs for the kits and to assemble the tractors locally.

Potential tractor owners would be required to pay in hard currency to enable
the IDC to buy the kits.

IDC has already demonstrated its capacity to roll out the tractors when it
assembled 420 tractors for the Agricultural and Rural Development Authority
last year.

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Suburb Goes for 11 Years Without Power

The Herald (Harare)  Published by the government of Zimbabwe

30 July 2007
Posted to the web 30 July 2007

Marondera Bureau

THE only low-density suburb in Hwedza has gone for 11 years without
electricity despite paying the then required connection fee of $150 million
six years ago.

The money was provided under the Public Sector Investment Programme after
residents applied for a loan with help from Hwedza Member of the House of
Assembly Cde Aeneas Chigwedere.

The amount was enough for the project but alleged bureaucratic bungling by
the local authority at that time resulted in procrastination and the
eventual erosion of the value of the money by inflation.

The then council's leadership -- which secured the loan -- inexplicably
decided to buy treated gumpoles for the programme from Mutare even though
poles were available in nearby Marondera.

Hwedza district administrator Mr Takawira Kupakuwana last week said he was
concerned that the project had been idle for too long. "It was, indeed, a
surprise why they decided to buy gumpoles from as far as Mutare when the
same product is available in Marondera," said Mr Kupakuwana.

He said council partly paid for the gumpoles from the Mutare company but
took its time to collect them and when it eventually decided to, the company
had been liquidated.

"The new substantive council chief executive officer, Mr Shingirayi
Kaswaurere, has made concerted efforts to purchase new gumpoles from

"There has also been a new arrangement with Hunyani Forest that they harvest
their plantation here in Hwedza which is nearer to the growth point," said
Mr Kupakuwana.

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In Zimbabwe, signs of a country interrupted

Santa Barbara News Press

Shashank Bengali

July 30, 2007 10:07 AM

McClatchy Newspapers


All the news out of Zimbabwe is bad. It's now routinely listed with Somalia
and Sudan in Africa's current axis of disaster, but unlike those two
countries, Zimbabwe's problems stem from having far too much government
rather than far too little.

Through a series of bad policies, quasi-socialist experiments and corrupt
dealings, the longtime president, Robert Mugabe, has run one of Africa's
best performing economies into the ground.

The numbers tell part of the story:

-40 percent. Amount by which Zimbabwe's GDP has shrunk since 1998. That's an
unprecedented statistic for a country in peacetime, and it comes as Africa
as a whole enjoys annual growth on the order of 5-6 percent.

-4,500 percent. The official inflation rate, the highest ever recorded,
although some economists say it's more like 10,000 percent. Mugabe recently
instituted price controls, but a few weeks ago it was said that the price of
a sack of flour could go up from the moment you picked it off the shelf to
the moment you went to pay for it at the cash register.

-36. The average life expectancy, the lowest in the world. Health care has
collapsed. Hundreds are fleeing across the border into South Africa each

-150,000-plus. The black-market exchange rate of Zimbabwean dollars to one
U.S. dollar. (The government figure is 250 Zimbabwean dollars to $1, but no
one takes that seriously.) I changed $200 U.S. and got back a stack of bills
as thick as a textbook:

On the surface, however, things are functioning. I flew into the capital,
Harare, where the first sight was the clean and modern - if mostly empty -
airport. Downtown looks like a Rust Belt city, with a host of 1970s- and
80s-era buildings that were impressive when they were built, but are now
growing shabby with neglect. The roads are smooth and signposted, among the
best in Africa, but there are few cars. The city center is full of people
standing in lines for food rather than conducting business. The whole place
looks like it's decaying, but gently.

You get the distinct sense that this is a country interrupted, a place that
was on its way up before it was brought crashing down. Zimbabweans are also
a proud people and, frankly, they're appalled to be lumped in with the likes
of Somalia and Sudan. ''The West gives us a bad rap,'' is a common refrain.
I met a more than a few people who said, Things are moving along just fine
here, thank you very much, just a few minor blips, nothing we can't handle.

The first sign of crisis came at the gas stations. Most were closed. Fuel
has been in short supply for months, and at one Caltex station on Saturday
morning I counted a line of more than 200 cars. The guys in the back of the
line had arrived at 7:30 a.m., which made me think the drivers in front had
spent the night in their cars. None of them was in luck on this particular
morning, about 9 a.m., because the fuel tanker hadn't arrived yet. I saw a
white Zimbabwean lying shirtless on a towel on the hood of his truck,
working on his tan.

Inside the shops, things are just as dire. There's almost no beef or milk,
which is shocking considering that Zimbabwe once boasted Africa's most
productive dairy farms. Everything else is going fast now that there are
price controls, which have made basic goods affordable for people again
despite the massive strain on producers and retailers. Nearly every shop I
went in had lines for bread. None had cornmeal, a national staple. For that,
one shopper told me, she went to a black-market dealer in a suburb, where
she paid three times the government-ordered price.

The price controls are, to say the least, a little goofy. They extend to
even luxury goods, not just the basics. A men's suit in a clothing store was
selling for 4.8 million dollars, marked down from 22 million. On the first
day of the price cuts, back on June 25, plasma TVs were the first items to
be snatched up, some for as little as $100 U.S. I imagine the government won
over a few people with those kinds of deals but, naturally, the folks who
really need the price cuts can't find $5 or $10 to spare for such luxuries,
let alone $100.

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