|The ZIMBABWE Situation||Our
thoughts and prayers are with Zimbabwe |
- may peace, truth and justice prevail.
Zimbabwe's security forces, the
front-line enforcers of President Robert
Mugabe's brutal regime, are being paid only a fraction of their salaries as
the country's economic crisis deepens.
Many soldiers and police officers, whose loyalty has traditionally been
bought with high pay and other perks, are receiving less than half of their
wages because there is not enough money in the Treasury coffers, according
to serving police officers.
The pay cuts are threatening to undermine the forces' morale and, crucially,
their loyalty to Mr Mugabe. Opponents say that Mr Mugabe continues in power
only because critics of the regime risk violence, jail and death at the
hands of his ruthless state security forces, including the feared Central
Last week, with the help of an intermediary, The Telegraph met two policemen
in the capital, Harare, who were prepared to speak out, on condition of
One officer, in his mid-thirties, said: "Recently I have been paid only a
small part of my salary and it is making life very difficult. I have a wife
and children. How am I supposed to feed them if am not being paid properly?"
The other, a slightly older man, said: "If you were in the security forces
you always knew that you would be rewarded well because you were protecting
the regime. But that is not happening now and many police officers are
suffering, and soldiers too. It makes us wonder why we do it."
The Government denied that security officers were not receiving their full
salaries and said that all civil servants would receive pay rises from July
1. The police officers were adamant, however, that they were not being paid
in full and said that the cuts were causing "deep resentment".
Members of the ruling Zanu-PF's 40,000-strong youth militia threatened to
revolt last year because they had not been paid, but a rebellion by
experienced security officers would pose a serious threat to Mr Mugabe's
rule - and possibly his life.
The pay cuts will hit particularly hard because they come at a time when
prices in the shops are soaring - Zimbabwe's inflation is just under 300 per
cent - and there are serious shortages of basic foods, petrol and medicines
in the worst economic crisis since independence from Britain was won in
David Coltart, an MP for the opposition Movement for Democratic Change
(MDC), said that if Mr Mugabe was unable to pay the police and army it would
be "a devastating blow" to the regime. "Without the military, Mugabe is
nothing," he said.
One Zimbabwean opposition MP said that Mr Mugabe would "simply print
millions of banknotes" to pay his security forces, even though this would
send inflation soaring even higher. There is an another problem: the
collapse of the Zimbabwe dollar means that it now costs 700 dollars (50p) to
produce a note for 500 (36p).
The banknotes are printed by a government-owned company in Harare. Last
week, it was frantically churning out notes to meet increased demand because
of inflation and last week's strikes. The $500 note - Zimbabwe's highest
denomination note, which was worth £500 just after independence in 1980 - is
now not enough to buy a bottle of beer.
Protesters said they were very concerned about the arrest of Morgan
Tsvangirai, the leader of the MDC who called last week's protests as a
"final push" against Mr Mugabe.
Mr Tsvangirai, 51, is in custody on charges of treason for plotting to use
illegal means to overthrow the government. His lawyer, George Bizos, who
represented Nelson Mandela in his treason trial 40 years ago, said: "By
keeping political opponents silent, the country's difficulties will not be
Last week, Mr Mugabe threatened to expel Brian Donnelly, the British High
Commissioner in Harare, for "interfering in Zimbabwe's affairs by helping
the MDC to organise its demonstrations". A spokesman for Mr Donnelly denied
any role in organising the protests. Western diplomats saw the warning as Mr
Mugabe's latest attempt to blame his troubles on the former colonial power.
Where coming home with a battered loaf makes it a day of triumph
Sunday June 15, 2003
Idda Mandanza gets up in the dark at 4.30 each morning to hike several
kilometres into Harare to catch a train to her work, where she is an
assistant production manager, by 8am. She does not get home until 8pm.
She no longer has breakfast before leaving. Lunch at work is her main meal
and she often has no dinner. Mandaza, 53, shares a rented room with her son,
Kennedy, 20, who gets home even later. Frequent power cuts mean they cannot
even make tea and must sit in the dark.
Like all Zimbabwe's workers, their lives have become drastically more
difficult because of hyperinflation (currently at 269 per cent), food and
fuel shortages and power blackouts.
'We used to take the commuter vans to work, which are much faster and more
convenient, but now they are much too expensive,' she says.
Going to the supermarket, Mandaza is greeted by staff who complain they have
not seen her for weeks. 'I am embarrassed to tell them I can no longer
afford to shop here regularly,' she said. She walks by empty shelves that
used to hold Zimbabwe's staple food, maize meal, as well as other essential
items such as sugar, cooking oil and margarine. 'What we need, the shops no
longer have. And what the shops do have, we can no longer afford,' says
She picks up a jar of jam, looks at the price and then slowly puts it back
on the shelf. 'It used to be my favourite, but now it is just too
There is a rush of people in the shop and Mandaza runs over to the bakery
section. Bread is suddenly available and a scuffle ensues. Mandaza emerges
triumphantly, holding up a slightly battered loaf of bread. 'My son will be
very happy with this,' she says.
Walking home, she says that life has become much harder in the past six
months. 'We thought things were bad last year, but this year is much worse,'
she says. 'Things in our country are terrible.'
She blames Robert Mugabe. 'We all blame him and his government,' she says.
'The shortages, inflation, the repression. It's all getting to be too much.'
She is not impressed with Mugabe's seizure of land from white farmers. 'What
good did that do us? It has made food unavailable for us,' she says
scornfully. 'People don't want land. They want better jobs. They want better
living standards. And Mugabe has made those things worse.'
What does she think will improve the situation? 'A change of government.
Genuine elections would sort out our problems quickly,' she says. 'But that
is what Mugabe is trying to prevent. That is why we have gone on strike. We
know the police and the army will shoot, but people are saying, "We are dead
anyway, this is not a life". I don't know when I will go out on the streets
against Mugabe. I am afraid people will get shot and beaten. But we must
stand up for our rights.'
Sunday Times (SA)
Wads of cash outlawed in Zimbabwe
Focus on Zimbabwe
© The Telegraph, London
Zimbabweans struggling with hyperinflation and grubby wads of worthless
banknotes learnt this week that police will now view holding large stashes
of cash as a crime.
With prices rising by the day, people visit shops with extra bags to carry
Zimbabwe dollar bills. After filling up their cars, drivers routinely hand
over more than 4 000 individual notes, bound into heavy bundles .
The pressure created by inflation of 270% has caused a national
banknotes, paralysing the shattered economy. The highest denomination bill -
Z500 - is worth barely R2.50 and is virtually unobtainable.
The lack of cash follows a long list of other
shortages. Supermarket shelves
are empty of sugar, cooking oil, flour, margarine and mealie meal, the
staple food. Fuel shortages have crippled the economy since 2000.
President Robert Mugabe routinely reacts to
shortages by blaming the
opposition and promising tough measures against his "nefarious enemies".
Thursday's edition of the Herald warned of
"sterner measures against
individuals or organisations found with huge stakes [sic] of banknotes".
David Chapfika, an MP from the ruling Zanu-PF
party and chairman of
parliament's finance committee, told the paper: "Zimbabwe has a
sophisticated banking structure . . . and there is no need for anyone to be
carrying huge stakes of money."
He claimed that all money in Zimbabwe belonged to the government.
Police have begun
raiding companies and stopping people at roadblocks,
searching for what they describe as "unusual" amounts of cash.
At Gauntlett Security Services
in Harare, they threatened to confiscate
between 40 and 50 million Zimbabwe dollars (R200 000 to R250 000). Peter
Harris, the director, said: "We called our lawyer, who sent the police
packing. There is no law stopping people holding onto their money."
The official hunt for stocks of money is
illegal, Adrian de Bourbon, an
advocate, said: "There is no law in Zimbabwe which makes it a criminal
offence for people to hold cash, unless it is to be used for illegal
Most banks are limiting cash
withdrawals to a maximum of Z50 000 (about
R250). They regularly hand it over in Z20 bills, forcing customers to
stagger out with 2 500 banknotes.
Officially, R1 is worth Z101. The free market real
exchange rate is above
Z250 to R1. According to the Economist Intelligence Unit, Zimbabwe will have
the highest inflation rate in the world this year.
Sunday Times (SA)
Reality dawns: It's Nepad or nothing
Although only 15 of 53 African Union states have agreed to peer review,
there is no doubt that Mbeki's plan will forge ahead, writes Ranjeni
In the three-year evolution of the New Partnership for Africa's Development
(Nepad), there has not been as large a gathering of its evangelists and
sceptics as there was at this week's World Economic Forum Africa Summit in
With the African recovery plan popularised internationally, and information
about its operation now freely available, the summit presented the first
real opportunity for the continent's corporate captains to unpack the plan
and define their involvement in it.
the opening day of the summit, Professor Wiseman Nkuhlu, President
Mbeki's point man on Nepad and chairman of the recovery programme's
secretariat, delivered a progress report on its peer-review mechanism.
The system - which allows African states to appraise each
to good political, economic and corporate governance - is perhaps the most
talked about and crucial facet of Nepad.
why only 15 of the 53 African Union member states had so far signed up
to be evaluated, Nkuhlu's response was that it was unrealistic to expect all
countries to be on board from the beginning and that "not every African
leader is democratic".
A few sniggers and knowing looks were exchanged.
Pressed further, Nkuhlu said it was felt in some
quarters that Zimbabwean
President Robert Mugabe had "overstayed his welcome" and that African
leaders were not doing enough to encourage his exit.
"But Zimbabwe is not pertinent to the Nepad process, and Nepad
anything to do with Zimbabwe," Nkuhlu said.
back of the room, the Zimbabwean government delegation applauded.
Some people in the audience murmured in disbelief while others burst out
But by the end of the conference, most business
leaders were putting their
signatures on a pledge committing to Nepad.
A representative from a Zimbabwean hotel chain noted that his
seemingly content with the objectives and offsets spelt out in Nepad but,
predictably, had deep reservations about the peer-review mechanism.
He said he doubted the mechanism would achieve its
objectives because of the
insistence by African leaders, particularly Mbeki, that national sovereignty
prohibited intervention in crisis situations. A Ghanaian banker said until
there was a demonstrable example of how African leaders could call each
other to order - and Zimbabwe was the most obvious challenge - Nepad's noble
objectives would remain a pipe dream.
But both of them signed the declaration.
It is not
clear where the turning point came during the summit. Perhaps it
was a statement by Mozambican President Joaquim Chissano that there was
really no alternative to Nepad, warts and all. He said Zimbabwe already
provided the demonstrable example. Even before the peer-review mechanism had
been launched, African leaders were using its principles to help Zimbabwe
out of its morass. They regularly engaged with Mugabe and, due to pressure
from his peers, the Zimbabwean president was revoking oppressive laws
against the media and opposition
This is the crux of the matter. There is an
increasing public demand that
the peer-review process should be open and transparent - almost a mob
mentality which demands a lashing in the market square.
Mbeki said this week that while the peer-review mechanism was
adherence to the principles of the AU Constitutive Act was obligatory for
Again Zimbabwe is the test as it
stands in violation of several principles:
respect for democratic principles, human rights, the rule of law and good
But until the
AU establishes institutions such as the African Court of
Justice, little can be done about breaches, and no punitive action can be
Chissano said peer review represented the AU in action
and was a way of
sealing "intra-African" co-operation.
people think we want it [the peer-review mechanism] to give answers
to outside partners. But the aim is to improve governance and therefore
promote sustainable development," Chissano said.
He said it was essential
that the system get off the ground immediately and
operate even with limited buy-in from African states.
"Through example, we can show others that
it is worth it to participate as
they will see that we are not being punished. They will instead see changes
in our countries and new successes," said Chissano.
But not all African heads of state are on the same page.
Botswana, which this week came up tops in a survey on good
Africa, has not signed up to participate in the peer-review process.
Botswana is the darling of the international community and has nothing to
fear from being scrutinised, but President Festus Mogae is sceptical and
wants more clarity about how peer review will operate.
It became clear this week that the assessment will largely
be conducted by a
panel of eminent persons, not the heads of state or peers. They will study
each country's constitution, audited financial statements, economic policies
and human-rights records, and will interview relevant stakeholders.
Nkuhlu said heads of state would step in only when
serious problems required
them to call their colleagues to order.
But it remains unclear whether the peers can force changes or
The Nepad secretariat wants to play down
the punitive options, insisting
that the aim is to rectify problem areas to keep states on board and not to
punish or exclude them.
a concerted effort by Nepad's drivers this week to get business to
"walk the talk".
According to the group chief executive of the Ashanti
Goldfields Company in
Ghana, Sam Jonah, only 10% of business on the continent is intra-African, in
contrast to Europe, where 80% of trade is between European states.
The aim of this week's discussions was not just to
convince the sceptics but
to reverse the brain and capital drains from Africa.
Discussions about Africa's rescue plan are always prefaced by
its problems -
the devastation caused by colonialism, conflict, poverty, HIV/Aids, the debt
burden, corruption, the lack of international market access and the bad
press that the continent invariably receives .
To illustrate the rich-poor divide, Jonah said the average cow in
Japan was much better off than 80% of Africans, due to the highly subsidised
agricultural industries in these countries. Most Africans lived on less than
$2 a day, while the cows lived on $7.
Nepad seeks to
dismantle all the odds stacked against Africa's progress and
to draw investment to promote the growth of domestic economies.
business captains pointed out this week that, while continental
projects were welcome, the test would be in how Nepad influences domestic
agendas and policies.
Kwesi Botchwey, executive chairman of the African
Ownership, noted: "What is going to deliver Nepad is what happens at
national level. If policies are inconsistent or not in congruence with the
overall mission, it will not happen."
chairman of African Rainbow Minerals, Patrice Motsepe, said
many of the discussions were "frank, forthright and undiplomatic".
political leaders were asked questions which were difficult for
them to answer," Motsepe said.
The most difficult question to answer is how
to get all African leaders to
act in unison .
Mbeki, using the
example of "on-the-ground" resistance to South Africa's
macroeconomic policy framework, said it required resilience to withstand the
"agitation in the streets" to break in unpopular and misunderstood policies.
this meant that Nepad and its controversial peer-review mechanism
would forge ahead with or without the support of everyone.
Mbeki and Chissano,
who takes over as AU chairman from the SA President next
month, are making it clear that they are prepared to leave the detractors
Business quickly woke up to the reality. In a
dramatic sea change ,
delegates posed a question to themselves: How could they make a meaningful
contribution to Nepad and possibly fund it themselves?
"It would be an excellent thing if we could finance Nepad
noted. "I don't think we have thought about this."
But it is clear that converting business sceptics into Nepad
always his plan.
Sunday Times (SA)
Tsvangirai shackled in 'horrendous' prison
Focus on Zimbabwe
Sunday Times Foreign Desk
Zimbabwe's opposition leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, who has been in detention
on treason charges for more than a week, is being kept in "horrendous
conditions" at Harare's infamous remand jail, said a colleague.
The spokesman for the Movement for Democratic Change, Paul Themba Nyathi,
claimed that Tsvangirai was being kept in terrible conditions at the remand
custody centre, held in handcuffs, leg irons and prison clothes.
This is the same jail where former
opposition spokesman Learnmore Jongwe
died last year while awaiting trial for allegedly murdering his wife during
a domestic dispute.
conditions that Tsvangirai is being kept in are horrible, as
characteristic of custody conditions in prisons and jails all over
Zimbabwe," he said. "They are really horrendous, extremely bad. They are
inhumane, just like the conditions under which the colonial regime kept
nationalist leaders and democratic activists."
remained in custody when on Friday High Court judge Susan
Mavangira postponed his bail application to this week.
The MDC leader is facing new
treason charges stemming from the recent mass
action that paralysed the country for a week. The current treason charge is
his fourth. Two emanated from "subversive statements" made at rallies, while
the other stemmed from allegations that Tsvangirai plotted to kill Mugabe
Zimbabwe's prison conditions have been widely described as
former prisoners and human- rights activists.
tabled last week by a parliamentary portfolio committee that toured
local prisons at the beginning of the year said prison conditions were
The report said prisoners complained of severe
beatings by prison guards,
and cited one instance in which a prisoner died, allegedly as a result of
beatings. The prisons visited were also overcrowded.
When asked to comment, the officer-in-charge at Harare
remand prison, Vee
Machingauta, said Tsvangirai was being kept "just like others" in prison.
"There is no problem at all," he said. "Things are
very normal . . . He is
okay. Those are exaggerations."
Tsvangirai's wife, Susan, who has visited her husband in detention,
has expressed dismay at the conditions under which her husband is being
"I am personally fearful about his security at remand
prison, because the
place is open to abuse by authorities," she said.
Sense of despair haunts the African Renaissance
This was supposed to be the dawn of a fresh era from the Sahara to Cape
Town. Instead, cycles of unstoppable violence have condemned millions to
death, with famine, Aids and economic catastrophe in their wake. Peter
Beaumont, foreign affairs editor, reports on the end of hope
Sunday June 15, 2003
In the Liberian town of Redemption last week the bodies of the dead littered
the main street. Aid workers with Médecins Sans Frontières described a smell
of death hanging over the town. 'People have come from camps where the last
food distribution was months ago,' said Alain Kassa. 'They have again been
fleeing for six days with nothing to eat. Here in the city they won't even
find the bits and pieces of food that they can gather in the bush.'
Kassa was describing Liberia, but his words could just have easily been
applied to the Democratic Republic of Congo, Burundi, Ivory Coast or
southern Sudan - five trouble-plagued places, but all of them in Africa. A
few bloody weeks have seen a failed coup in Mauritania, fighting for
Liberia's wrecked capital, Monrovia, appalling inter-ethnic violence around
the eastern Congo town of Bunia, and violent suppression of political
protests in Zimbabwe.
It was not supposed to be like this. In the decade after the end of the Cold
War, the proxy wars of the United States and Soviet Union were coming to an
end, apartheid had breathed its last gasp and a new generation of African
leaders had been anointed who promised to transform their continent. That
dream they dubbed the African Renaissance.
Last week, however, amid the tales of horror, the impotence of UN
peacekeepers sent to keep a meaningless peace, amid the hunger, mutilation
and inevitable tragic columns of refugees, the question was being repeatedly
asked: what has happened to that promised African Renaissance?
First mooted as a concept by President Nelson Mandela at the Organisation of
African Unity's summit in Tunisia in 1994, the African Renaissance has,
however, been most associated with Mandela's successor, Thabo Mbeki.
Its crucial test was that set out by Jacob Zuma, South Africa's Deputy Prime
Minister, at the launch of its South African chapter when he declared in
1999 that 'we will know that the African Renaissance has been achieved once
war and destruction are a mere chapter of Africa's history rather than a
Would the African Renaissance succeed or would it go the way of the other
ideas of African transformation like Negritude, Pan-Africanism, African
Unity and African Socialism that were supposed to change the African horizon
At first sight it appears already to have failed. For a summation of Africa
even by those - like Kwame Owusu-Ampomah of Durban-Westville University -
who believe in the idea of an African Renaissance makes for grim reading. In
a paper two years ago Owusu-Ampomah listed a litany of familiar ills.
'At the turn of the twenty-first century,' he wrote, 'Africa continues to
waddle in poverty, disease, and ignorance, having long lost the momentum of
the socio-economic gains of the 1960s and the early 1970s. Worse still, the
continent is being ravaged by internal and international conflicts,
notwithstanding the scourge of Aids, with devastating effects on life and
It is a picture of gloom that is not alleviated by the bald tabulation of a
continent's woes. More than 30 wars in Africa since 1970 account for 'more
than half of all war-related deaths worldwide' and have been responsible for
between up to 9.5 million refugees, UN figures show.
The average African lives on less than two dollars a day; three-quarters of
the world's poorest countries are African. Growth rates, after the economic
gains of the Sixties and Seventies, were negative in the Nineties.
The continent is also saddled with debt. Its apparently intractable problems
account for 75 per cent of the UN Security Council's deliberations. Then
finally there is the scourge of HIV, running at infection rates of well over
30 per cent in countries like Zimbabwe, whose damage is economic and social
as Aids has carved a swath through Africa's skilled and educated classes.
The twin trajectories of the Africa of the twenty-first century are
signified by the 10-year anniversaries next year of two of the continent's
most significant recent events - the first free and fully inclusive
elections in South Africa and the genocide in Rwanda.
What they represent is a continent's imperfect progress towards
democratisation of its societies, set against the warning of the most
terrible kind of war. They represent, too, both the palpable successes of
the African Renaissance and its bloody failings.
'Every decade some new idea emerges that is supposed to change Africa for
the better,' says Alex Vines, head of the Africa programme at the Royal
United Services Institute at Chatham House. 'At the beginning of the
Nineties everyone was talking about "good governance". Then we had Baroness
Chalker's model for multi-party democracy; now we have African Renaissance.
'The reality is there are some good things going on, but there are also
deepening problems. One of the really good developments has been in terms of
freedom of expression and the biggest single thing that has helped has been
the mobile phone, which in recent elections in Kenya, Ghana and Senegal has
had a significant impact in reducing electoral fraud as people have been
able to mobilise very quickly against it when they see something funny going
on. It has encouraged whistle-blowing.
'There have also been some democratic watershed elections as in Kenya, where
we see an entrenched leader like Daniel arap Moi being forced to stand
There have been other success stories in a similar vein. In Zambia, when
President Chiluba attempted to change the constitution to stand again he was
slapped down. Ghana is in the process of peaceful transition from the
Rawlings era. Angola, too, is at the beginning of a decade of transition
following the end of its long war.
It is in terms of its economic challenges that the African Renaissance is
having its greatest impact, not least in its argument that Africa has been
shamefully treated by trade restrictions and tariffs that, as President
Museveni of Uganda argued in Washington last week, meant that Africa was
subsidising Western trade.
'The point about African Renaissance is that it is a great grab bag of
ideas,' says Patrick Smith, editor of Africa Confidential . 'But its
economic arguments are the ones that are now quickly becoming the orthodoxy.
'There are two points that come out of this: firstly that Western
agricultural subsidies are an international scandal, but that even with
their removal African farmers need to be helped to take advantage of this.
'It is exactly what Kwame Nkrumah (Prime Minister of Ghana) was arguing 50
years ago - that Africa needs to develop systems of manufacturing and
marketing if it is not to stay at the bottom of the pile. But finally Africa
seems to be winning the argument on this.'
The West - and America's response in particular to this argument - has been
at best an imperfect response, as Smith argues, pointing out that the much
vaunted agreement by America to open its markets to finished African
textiles to the tune of $2 billion is highly conditional and represents a
drop in the ocean for the US textile industry.
Smith argues, too, that it is the success of this kind of economic reform
that is crucial for stabilising Africa economically, politically, and in
terms of bringing an end to its wars. For its wars, as Smith argues,
recently have been as much about economic activity in failed states as about
'What people have to remember is that the armed militias of the kind we are
seeing in Congo at the moment are a business - that war is business and that
is not just enough to pay fighters $30 to hand over their guns if the
fighter then does not have something economically useful to do.'
It is the long wars like that in Congo which cast the deepest and the
darkest shadows. These are wars that envelope all sectors of society, where
all are potential victims; all potentially incorporated into an effort
inimical to Africa's fragile civic societies. They are places where the
violence has gone on so long it has been part of daily life.
And it is a failure of leadership that goes beyond the African Renaissance
to implicate the West and the United Nations which have allowed problems
like Congo and Liberia to fester and whose solutions have showed a lack of
imagination. 'We are seeing a failure in Liberia exactly the same as in
Iraq,' Vines says. 'There is an agenda to remove President Charles Taylor
which was behind his indictment by the UN. There is a fixation with his
removal but no road map as to how Liberia should proceed. It puts the
country's future agenda in the hands of armed groups.'
Recent military interventions, more successfully by the largely British
forces in Sierra Leone and more equivocally by the French in Ivory Coast,
have shown how successful quick intervention can be in bringing conflict to
an end or stabilising a dangerous situation.
'The Congo is the greatest shame to the UN system,' Smith argues. 'If the
Permanent Five do not act with serious money and serious resolution, with
sufficient troops and logistics, it will simply go down the drain.'
What happens in the next few months in Congo and Liberia may be the test of
the African Renaissance and the test, too, of whether the world can usefully
intervene in Africa for good.
Could Africa finally save itself?
As the continent's situation descends further into chaos, Fred Bridgland in
Johannesburg examines the problems and explores a home-grown solution that
aims to solve them all
Warfare and political collapse have got so bad in Africa south of the Sahara
since the world became obsessed by Iraq that Americans last week were even
willing to allow themselves to be rescued by French soldiers.
The surreal episode happened in Monrovia as French helicopters airlifted
stranded Americans -- many, no doubt, Jacques Chirac-hating George Bush
voters -- from the besieged Liberian capital to a French navy rescue warship
Tragic scenes similar to those in the West African country, whose head of
state Charles Taylor was last month indicted by the United Nations on
charges of crimes against humanity, are being enacted across black Africa.
In the questionably titled Democratic Republic of the Congo, Hema tribesmen
and child soldiers in Bunia, in the northwestern province of Ituri, were
massacring 450 Lendu people with whom they had lived reasonably peacefully
side by side for generations. Lendus retaliated by killing more than 120
Hemas in a village outside Bunia.
United Nations official Carolyn McAskie, visiting Bunia as part of a UN
ambassadorial delegation, said she had never witnessed a similar
humanitarian crisis: 'We've seen the most horrible things. Women who've lost
their arms and legs, child amputees, men chopped to bits, women raped.'
Elsewhere the Hitleresque and illegitimate president of Zimbabwe, Robert
Mugabe, was parading Morgan Tsvangirai -- the country's legitimate leader
deprived of power by Mugabe in a rigged election a year ago -- through the
country's courts in handcuffs and leg irons on trumped-up treason charges.
Meanwhile, in Togo, a former French West African colony, Gnassingb Eyadma,
Chirac's own 'Mugabe', who has ruled for 36 years after assassinating Togo's
first president, Sylvanus Olympio, was re-elected president in a blatantly
fixed poll. The EU did not bother to send observers because hardly a soul
took last week's process seriously. Eyadma declared himself the winner
before the votes were even counted, and in the past few days Eyadma's main
opponent, Bob Akitani, has simply disappeared -- a common occurrence in
Eyadma-land. The Togo president is counting on his long friendship with
Chirac to prolong his power and obviously believes problems of democracy in
Africa will attract scant attention in the present wider international
Against this background, African political and business leaders tried hard
last week to move South African president Thabo Mbeki's ambitious 'Marshall
Plan' off the drawing board. More than 700 government, business and civil
society representatives met in the Indian Ocean city of Durban for a summit
designed to discuss progress achieved on Nepad, the New Partnership for
Africa's Development, since its launch two years ago.
The core idea of Mbeki's hard-worked, intellectually coherent plan is a
trade-off with the world's aid-weary powers. Africa, in an effort to shake
off its persistent begging-bowl state, commits itself to democracy, good
governance, financial discipline and market-oriented policies in return for
more help from developed countries, especially with better access for
The intricate plan has obvious merit. It was drafted by Africans for
Africans and so is free of any imperialist taint. Presidents Olusegun
Obasanjo of Nigeria, Abdoulaye Wade of Senegal and Abdelaziz Bouteflika of
Algeria are its co-authors. Mbeki's Nepad presidential team knows the
developed countries are sick of pouring their taxpayers' money into Africa
only to see it end up in the pockets and offshore accounts of corrupt
leaders while the ordinary people -- Franz Fanon's 'wretched of the
earth' -- sink into ever deeper poverty.
There is no space here to describe Nepad's institutions, but the ultimate
ideal is to end Africa's conflicts, encourage accountable government and
achieve growth rates that can at least absorb into employment the millions
of African children who leave school each year, let alone the many millions
who get no education at all.
Inevitably, given Africa's
wretched post-independence record, there are
regiments of cynics about Nepad's prospects. But it was the same with Jean
Monnet's fragile European Coal and Steel Community which grew into a sturdy
European Union that has presided over the longest war-free period Western
Europeans have ever known.
Mbeki has no illusions about the difficulties of nurturing Nepad, as he
himself illustrated last week with the tale of one African minister
attending the summit who approached him and said: 'Where does this Nepad
come from? Is this something the World Bank is trying to force on us?' Mbeki
pointed out to the minister that his own President had endorsed Nepad last
year. 'But the President obviously didn't even tell his cabinet,' Mbeki
Whatever its early infant weaknesses, Africa and the rest of the world needs
Nepad. Consider just one illustration. The story begins with President
George Bush's lunatic allegation that the EU's refusal to certify imports of
new US strains of genetically modified food crops is perpetuating famine in
Africa. In fact, one of the main causes of African hunger lies closer to
Texas -- subsidies for American farmers.
In West African countries along the upper Niger river cotton is the main
cash crop, employing more than two million people and providing sustenance
to ten times that number. With world cotton prices at a 30-year low,
extended families of 30 or more people are barely surviving on annual
earnings reduced to less than £1250 per 20-acre plot.
In the Mississippi Delta, meanwhile, American cotton growers are thriving --
even though, with air-conditioned tractors using global positioning
satellites to determine the proper amounts of expensive fertiliser and
defoliants to apply to the maturing irrigated crop, they are higher-cost
producers than the cotton farmers of Mali with their primitive ox-towed
ploughs. Huge subsidies -- more than £2.5 billion for cotton this year from
Washington -- have made millionaires of the Mississippi men who spend 51p to
produce each pound of cotton against a mere 14p a pound in Mali, where
cotton growers who could clothe us all much more cheaply are going to the
Not only is this unfair economic madness, it is murderous. It is not even in
the developed world's self-interest.
As schooling and minimal health care have become unaffordable luxuries in
Mali, families are leaving in droves for the crowded Muslim quarters of
European cities while fundamentalist Middle Eastern Islamic clerics find
more and more ready listeners in West Africa. There has to be a more
imaginative way to run the globe.
15 June 2003
Worldwide Faith News
AANA BULLETIN No. 23/03 June 16, 2003 (b)
Pope Criticises Zimbabwe's Land Reform Programme
HARARE/VATICAN (AANA) June 16 - Pope John Paul II has criticised Zimbabwe's
chaotic land redistribution programme, which is widely blamed for plunging
the country into its current economic crisis.
Reports from the Vatican City in Italy say the Pontiff was welcoming
Kelebert Nkomani, Zimbabwe's ambassador to the Holy See and 11 other
diplomats in May, when he made comments critical of the country's much
publicised land reform programme. But Nkomani has said that the programme
would establish equity and social justice.
The Pope is said to have made reference to a 1997 Pontifical Council for
Justice and Peace document titled Towards a Better Distribution of Land,
which notes that "real success will not only come as a result of
expropriating large tracts of land and dividing it into smaller units given
In the period following rejection of a 2000 draft constitution that
supported land redistribution without compensation, Zimbabwe's President,
Robert Mugabe, condoned forceful occupation of white owned commercial farms
by veterans of the 20-year liberation war that brought independence.
According to the President, the violent land seizures by the war veterans
and his youthful supporters emanated from past colonial wrongs.
However, the Pope said: "Justice must be made available to all if the
injuries of the past are to be left behind and a brighter future built".
He went on: "If land redistribution was to offer any practical and
sustainable response to serious economic and social problems in a given
country, the process must continue to develop over time, with necessary
infrastructure being put in place".
Currently facing the country is a critical food and foreign currency
shortage, with more than half the population in need of food aid because of
the land reforms that has severely disrupted commercially farming
Reported by Rodrick Mukumbira
Daily News June 14th
SA seeks Tsvangirai's release
6/14/2003 9:41:43 AM (GMT +2)
By Sydney Masamvu Assistant Editor
THE South African government has approached Harare about releasing
Zimbabwean opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai and about the
resumption of dialogue between the country's main political parties,
diplomats told the Daily News this week.
They said Western countries were also pressing South Africa to use its
influence to ensure that Tsvangirai, the leader of the Movement for
Democratic Change (MDC), Zimbabwe's main opposition party, was not
detained for much longer.
Tsvangirai, who is already charged with treason for allegedly plotting
to assassinate President Robert Mugabe, was arrested last Friday at
the end of the five-day anti-government protests called by his party.
He is facing fresh treason charges for allegedly making statements
calling for the unconstitutional removal of Mugabe and is in remand
prison pending a ruling on his application for bail.
The diplomatic sources said Malawi, Nigeria and South Africa, which
are attempting to facilitate dialogue between the MDC and Mugabe's
ruling ZANU PF party, were keen to secure Tsvangirai's release.
They told the Daily News that South African Deputy President Jacob
Zuma had a telephone conversation with Mugabe on Monday morning,
during which Tsvangirai's arrest and continued detention were brought
South African Foreign Minister Nkosazana Zuma also had a telephone
conversation with her Zimbabwean counterpart, Stan Mudenge, on the
same issue, the diplomats claimed.
The sources said Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo had also
discussed Tsvangirai's detention with Zimbabwean government officials.
"There was contact between the South African Vice-President, Jacob
Zuma, and President Robert Mugabe, which centred on Tsvangirai's
arrest," one diplomat told the Daily News.
Zuma was Acting President on Monday while South African President
Thabo Mbeki was on a visit to Switzerland.
The diplomat added: "In the same breath, Foreign Minister Nkosazana
Zuma also had a conversation with Stan Mudenge on the same issue."
However, South African Foreign Affairs spokesman Ronnie Mamoepa said
he was not aware of any contact between Zuma and Mudenge because the
South African minister was in Congo-Brazzaville this week.
He said: "I am not aware if any contact has been made with the
Zimbabwean government over Tsvangirai's arrest. In any case, even if
any contact had been made, we would not divulge such information."
Meanwhile, Mbeki's spokesman Bheki Khumalo also said he was not aware
of any communication between the South African government and Harare
because he was also in Switzerland this week. He however said the
South African president was closely monitoring the situation in
"I am not aware if any contacts have been made regarding the MDC
leader's arrest. I have been with the president in Switzerland for the
past five days," he said.
Khumalo added: "What I know is that the presidency, through our
mission in Zimbabwe, is fully briefed and has been kept fully informed
of the developments taking place regarding the issue of Morgan
Tsvangirai's arrest. The issue is being closely monitored." Western
diplomats this week told the Daily News that their governments were
closely monitoring the situation in Zimbabwe and were trying to work
with the region to put pressure on Harare to reconsider Tsvangirai's
The diplomats said Western governments feared that the MDC leader's
continued incarceration could affect attempts to broker talks between
his party and ZANU PF.
Negotiations between the two parties broke down last year in May when
the MDC filed an application with the High Court contesting Mugabe's
re-election the previous March.
Commentators say dialogue between the MDC and ZANU PF could begin a
process that could lead to the resolution of the country's political
stalemate and worsening economic crisis.
Powell slams Tsvangirai's detention
6/14/2003 9:45:22 AM (GMT +2)
AMERICAN Secretary of State Colin Powell has condemned the Zimbabwe
government's detention of opposition leaders, comparing the actions of
the Harare authorities to those of Burma, which two weeks ago detained
its chief political foe, Aung San Suu Kyi.
Powell, speaking after a meeting with United Nations (UN)
secretary-general Kofi Annan to review the world's trouble spots, said
he and the UN boss had focused on Burma and both condemned Aung's
"And in a parallel way, I would like to point out that in Zimbabwe, we
see a similar situation where opposition leaders trying to express
their dissent to the government are being detained and put at
considerable risk of personal injury as a result of that detention and
we condemn these kinds of activities," he told journalists in
Washington, DC, late on Wednesday.
He becomes the most senior US administration official to censure
Harare for its crackdown of leaders of the opposition MDC in the
aftermath of a nationwide shutdown last week ordered by the party.
Workers countrywide backed the MDC's so-called mass action by staying
away from work and shutting down business, forcing the beleagured
government to seize more than 800 MDC officials and supporters after
forcibly breaking up opposition street protests using the army and the
Among those held is MDC president Morgan Tsvangirai, who has been
charged with treason - the second such charge levelled against him
Western diplomatic officials said yesterday that Powell's indignation
at Zimbabwe highlighted widening international pressure that is being
brought on Harare to end its siege against the MDC, the biggest
political threat to President Robert Mugabe's two decades in power.
"Powell's comments reflect growing international concern over blatant
human rights violations by the Harare regime," one diplomat told The
"Unless the situation improves quickly, one senses that there will be
serious repercussions for this sort of unacceptable behaviour," the
diplomat said, declining to elaborate on possible international action
against Mugabe, widely accused of presiding over Zimbabwe's economic
Mugabe and most officials of his ruling ZANU PF party are already
under Western economic sanctions for their alleged violations of human
rights and are banned from travelling to much of the world.
Diplomats hinted yesterday that the actions of Harare's government
could end up being brought before the UN Security Council for debate.
It is known that some of the permanent members of the council favour a
tougher line against Harare, which has repeatedly ignored
international accords and appeals for it to observe the rule of law in
the past three years.
Mugabe vows to crush demonstrations
6/14/2003 9:46:13 AM (GMT +2)
From Chris Gande in Bulawayo
BULAWAYO - President Robert Mugabe yesterday vowed to crush any future
attempts by the opposition to organise mass protests, telling
villagers at Nyamandlovu, about 50 kilometres from Bulawayo, that
participating in demonstrations called by the Movement for Democratic
Change (MDC) would be to "play with fire".
Mockingly referring to the mass protests organised by the MDC last
week to force him to resign or agree to negotiations with the
opposition party, Mugabe said: "They said by Friday the MDC would be
in power and (Morgan) Tsvangirai would be in State House. He is in the
State House now."
Tsvangirai is in remand prison awaiting a ruling on his application
for bail after police arrested and charged him with treason for
allegedly seeking Mugabe's unconstitutional ouster.
Tsvangirai is already standing trial for treason over allegations he
and two other officials of his party plotted to assassinate Mugabe
ahead of last year's presidential election.
The opposition leader denies both the charges of treason levelled
against him by the State.
Hundreds of villagers, some of them allegedly bussed to Nyamandlovu
from Hwange - more than 200 kilometres away - had to wait for Mugabe
the whole day.
Matabeleland North governor Obert Mpofu told the villagers that the
helicopter ferrying Mugabe from Harare had lost direction and gone to
Tsholotsho, resulting in Mugabe's delay.
Mangwengwende says he's not on suspension
6/14/2003 9:46:47 AM (GMT +2)
SIMBARASHE Mangwengwende, referring to a story published by The Daily
News yesterday, has denied that he had been suspended from the
Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority (ZESA).
In a story headlined "Ministry to probe allegations against Gata", The
Daily News said ZESA sources had indicated that Mangwengwende
continued to receive a chief executive's salary from the parastatal,
"although he is said to be on suspension".
Mangwengwende told The Daily News yesterday: "While it is true that I
am on the ZESA payroll, it is untrue that I am on suspension. I am
still the lawful chief executive of ZESA in good standing."
ZESA is, however, presently being run by Sydney Gata, who is executive
Police officer accused of evading questions in Nkala murder case
6/14/2003 9:48:12 AM (GMT +2)
DEFENCE lawyers in the trial of six opposition Movement for Democratic
Change (MDC) party activists accused of murdering Bulawayo war veteran
leader Cain Nkala yesterday accused police officer of attempting to
evade answering key questions put to him by claiming he had
co-investigated the matter with another police officer.
Advocate Eric Morris accused police superintendent Martin Matira in
court yesterday of having accepted being referred to as the
investigator of the murder case in the earlier stages of the trial but
was now claiming he was co-investigator with another police officer, a
chief superintendent Mukahlera, in order to avoid answering
Morris told Matira: "You only invented the concept of co-investigator
when my colleagues started cross-examining you to avoid answering
Another defence lawyer, Edith Mushore, said Matira had for the first
eight days of the cross-examination, been the sole investigating
officer in the case but had in the past six days relegated himself to
a co-investigator so he could evade some questions.
Matira told the court he co-investigated the matter with Mukahlera and
that while they had had meetings during the course of investigations,
he could not alone explain every detail of the investigation since he
did not get feedback from his colleague on every matter pertaining to
the police inquiry into the murder.
MDC legislator Fletcher Dulini-Ncube, its director of security, Sonny
Masera, and activists Army Zulu, Remember Moyo, Kethani Sibanda and
Sazini Mpofu are accused of kidnapping and murdering Nkala in November
The MDC members deny the charge and accuse the police of beating them
to force them to confess to the crime.
The ongoing hearing before High Court judge Justice Sandra Mungwira is
to determine whether the murder suspects voluntarily confessed to
Ruling on Tsvangirai's bail bid postponed to next week
6/14/2003 9:44:40 AM (GMT +2)
THE High Court yesterday reserved to next week a ruling on Movement
for Democratic Change (MDC) president Morgan Tsvangirai's bail
application, amid reports that the opposition party had resolved to
shelve proposed demonstrations to protest its leader's arrest and
Tsvangirai will spend his second consecutive weekend in custody after
Justice Susan Mavangira postponed her ruling, saying she needed time
to consider submissions made by the State and the defence.
She said she would make a ruling "some time next week".
Tsvangirai, who is already standing trial for allegedly plotting to
assassinate President Robert Mugabe before last year's presidential
election, was arrested last week on Friday on fresh treason charges
and detained in police cells until Tuesday, when he was moved to
Harare Remand Prison.
He is charged with allegedly making statements calling for the
unconstitutional removal of Mugabe.
Justice Mavangira's ruling came a day after the MDC national executive
is said to have decided to postpone mass protests it had threatened to
hold if Tsvangirai was not immediately released from custody.
MDC vice-president Gibson Sibanda said on Sunday that the party would
embark on nationwide protests to demand Tsvangirai's immediate
But MDC officials said a national executive meeting held on Thursday
resolved to shelve the planned protests and wait for the High Court's
ruling on the bail application.
The officials said the decision was made based on advice from legal
experts, who had indicated that the proposed protests could lead to
the State taking a tougher stance against Tsvangirai.
Opposition party sources who attended Thursday's meeting said some
officials had insisted that street protests should begin on Monday to
demand Tsvangirai's release, while others maintained that the party
should follow legal advice.
"Most national executive members decided to stick to the legal advice
they had received that protests would be counter-productive to the
president's case," one official told the Daily News.
"It was felt that the government would seize the opportunity to
bolster the argument that Tsvangirai would incite his supporters into
unleashing violence if he was released. The majority agreed to wait
for the court decision."
MDC spokesman Paul Themba Nyathi would not comment on the matter
yesterday, referring this newspaper to a statement issued by the party
after Thursday's meeting.
The statement made no mention of the proposed street protests, but
urged supporters to remain on the alert.
"The regime does not know what is coming next and seeks to make you
act outside your plan. Let us remain alert. Let us remain ready to act
within all lawful and peaceful means for our freedom," part of the
An official who attended Thursday's meeting said: "We argued that
Mugabe was using Tsvangirai's detention as a test case to see how the
party would react and gauge the extent to which we had been cowed
because by remaining docile, we would have given him the leeway to do
whatever he wants to break our back.
"That is why we wanted the whole country to be closed for the whole of
next week to show him that we are still determined to fight.
Tsvangirai's arrest has already psyched up people so much that they
are more than ready to act."
Meanwhile, in the High Court yesterday, Tsvangirai's lawyers said
their client had spent "too much time in prison on an arrest and
commitment which is not justified" and urged that the judge should
expeditiously make a ruling on the matter.
Responding to Tsvangirai's bail application, Morgen Nemadire, a chief
law officer in the Attorney-General (AG)'s Office, said the State had
decided to press charges against Tsvangirai because he sought to
change the government through unlawful means.
"The charge does not necessarily have to be violent or coercive,"
Nemadire said, adding that a person could be charged with high treason
for sitting alone contemplating changing a constitutionally elected
He said: "It's not really a question of personally, physically
participating in a violent or forceful act. If a party is aggrieved by
the results of an election, there are channels which they can follow.
An example is the election petition pending before these courts. To
want to change the government by any other means except those provided
by the government becomes a problem."
He said the State had not considered bail conditions should Justice
Mavangira grant Tsvangirai's application.
South African advocate George Bizos, who is representing Tsvangirai,
said through its silence on bail conditions, the AG's Office had shown
its determination to keep the MDC leader in custody.
Undertakers to appeal to government for fuel
6/14/2003 9:47:18 AM (GMT +2)
HARARE undertakers yesterday resolved to appeal to the government to
allocate them fuel so that they could conduct burials, which have been
adversely affected by severe shortages of petrol and diesel in
At a meeting in the capital city yesterday, the undertakers agreed to
send a delegation to Energy Minister Amos Midzi.
The representatives will approach Midzi with a letter detailing the
Mizeki Kazinge, the manager of Foundation Funeral Services and
spokesman for the undertakers, said: "We have selected four people to
go and present our letter of appeal to the minister. The meeting
deliberated on the serious problems we as undertakers are facing at
various service stations in the capital.
"We believe the government has the responsibility to assist bereaved
families in these difficult times. On Tuesday, we will meet to draft
our letter, which we will immediately present to the minister and his
secretary for their immediate attention."
He said the ministry should find ways to ensure that Zimbabwe's
funeral industry received fuel at least once a week so that burials
could proceed without problems.
He said the undertakers wanted to be allocated specific fuel stations
where they would have no problems securing fuel.
The government has designated specific service stations for public
transporters in an attempt to alleviate serious transport problems
worsened by the fuel crisis.
Midzi last week admitted that the fuel shortages in the funeral
industry needed urgent attention because it provided an essential
He said the government's policy was that essential service providers,
such as funeral parlours and ambulance services, should receive enough
fuel for their operations.
British envoy denies hand in MDC protests
6/14/2003 9:47:45 AM (GMT +2)
From Our Correspondent in Mutare
BRITAIN'S High Commissioner to Zimbabwe yesterday denied allegations
by President Robert Mugabe that he had helped opposition protests that
shut down the country last week.
"The British government and the British High Commission had no role in
funding or organising in any way whatsoever last week's stayaways or
protests," Brian Donnelly said in a statement yesterday.
Britain's top diplomat in Harare however said in the statement that
London supported the rights of Zimbabweans to freedom of expression
and association although it did not involve itself with how people in
the southern African country chose to enjoy or express those rights.
"The British government supports the fundamental rights of Zimbabweans
to freedom of expression and freedom of association. How Zimbabweans
choose to exercise those rights is entirely up to them," the statement
read in part.
Speaking at a rally at Nyakomba Resettlement Scheme in Nyanga
district, more than 300 kilometres east of the capital Harare, Mugabe
threatened to expel Donnelly from Zimbabwe if he continued
collaborating with the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC)
in what he said were the opposition party's attempts to remove his
government from power through undemocratic means.
The MDC says last week's mass protests were meant to force Mugabe to
resign or to concede he had failed to run the country and agree to
negotiate with the opposition party a solution to the country's
deepening economic and political crisis.
Zimbabwe is in the throes of its worst food, fuel and foreign currency
crisis following Mugabe's controversial land reforms that disrupted
the key agricultural sector and scared foreign investors out of the
But Mugabe, who founded Zimbabwe out of the ashes of the British
colony of Rhodesia in 1980, blames Britain and the West for
orchestrating the crisis in order to incite the people against his
government to fix him for his land reforms.
Maize, wheat harvests decline this year: CFU
6/14/2003 9:48:40 AM (GMT +2)
THE Commercial Farmers' Union (CFU) this week said Zimbabwe will this
year harvest less than 750 000 tonnes of maize or about 42 percent of
annual requirement while wheat production will decrease to a paltry 50
000 tonnes or about 13 percent of total annual consumption.
In a report released on Wednesday this week, CFU marketing executive
Vanessa Mckay said: "Forecasters and observers have subsequently met
after the announcement of the official maize crop estimates of 1,3
"They have all agreed that the crop is likely to be in the region of
only 750 000 tonnes - this equates to 42 percent of national annual
requirements of 1,8 million tonnes."
Mckay, who is responsible for commercial oil seeds, cereal and grain
producers' associations at the CFU said the country's wheat producers
were expected to harvest only 50 000 tonnes or less of winter wheat,
which is far below the 360 000 tonnes needed to carry the country to
the next harvest.
The CFU official said the mainly white large-scale producing farmers
who traditionally supplied 95 percent of the national wheat output
would this year only produce between 12 500 and 15 000 tonnes of the
vital crop chiefly because most of them were unable to grow more wheat
due to ongoing farm evictions under the government's controversial
The Indigenous Commercial Farmers' Union, resettled farmers and the
government's Agricultural Rural Development Authority would make up
The government says it has completed its seizure of land from white
farmers for redistribution to blacks but evictions continue around the
country. Pro-government militias and self-styled veterans of Zimbabwe'
s 1970s liberation war also continue to disrupt farming activities on
the few remaining commercial farms.
Most farming experts largely blame the food shortages gripping
Zimbabwe on the government's land reforms that have virtually
destroyed commercial agriculture.
The government, which has already asked international food aid donors
to continue providing food relief to Zimbabwe, says poor rains and not
its farm reforms are to blame for the food shortages.
The CFU said erratic rains plus lack of capacity of the new farmers
hastily resettled by the government on land seized from commercial
farmers had hampered the maize crop which had been forecast to hit 1,3
million tonnes, especially after good rains towards the end of the
But according to Mckay the rains came a little too late and did not
benefit the late planted crop, limiting total output countrywide to
750 000 tonnes or more than 55 percent less than the 1,8 million
tonnes of maize Zimbabwe consumes per year.
Once a net food exporter, Zimbabwe is grappling with its worst food
and economic crisis in decades.
Bread, cooking oil, the key staple maize and nearly every other basic
food stuff is in short supply while hard cash needed to pay for food
imports is also in acute shortage.
Only the intervention of the World Food Programme and other
international relief groups saved eight million Zimbabweans or about
half of the country's population from starving to death.
LEADER PAGE Saturday 14, June
ZBC's envisaged 100 percent local content will kill us
6/14/2003 9:40:49 AM (GMT +2)
By Musavengana Nyasha
I remember being in the minority when I supported the introduction of
the 75 percent local content legislation while still at the Zimbabwe
Broadcasting Corporation (ZBC).
I saw it as an opportunity for the Zimbabwean arts industry to
blossom. I also believed in it as a policy that would help Zimbabweans
' self-determination socially, culturally and economically. I still
I am, however, horrified at the idea of the government reviewing the
policy to increase the percentage of local content in the electronic
media to 100 percent.
I pray that the idea be stillborn.
One of the results of our country's colonisation by the British was
self-hate and belief that everything foreign was better. This
obsession with things foreign covered language, culture, music and
skin colour among other things.
It was, therefore, undeniably the duty of an elected government of a
sovereign nation to help change such attitudes and promote self-belief
in its countrymen. Therein lies my belief in the 75 percent local
Musical acts like Sani Makhalima, Roy and Royce, and Plaxcedes Wenyika
are products of this policy. Sandra Ndebele has also benefited from
the policy, under which there has also been a deliberate attempt to
promote artistic efforts from the Matabeleland region, which has for
long been overshadowed by South Africa.
Seventy-five percent local content has seen the birth of Studio 263
and Fragments and we look forward to other local productions. The
industry is set to grow with the discovery of more writers, producers
and actors. I personally expect to benefit from the policy because I
have been encouraged to take up from where I left off at high school
as a playwright and start writing for television.
I see the springing-up of video production companies, more dance
troupes and choreographers that should help improve the quality of our
musical videos and, therefore, see the growth of the industry and the
creation of more jobs.
These are the positive sides of the promotion of local productions. On
the negative side, if all local products are promoted simply because
they are local, a massive deterioration of standards is inevitable.
Products must make the grade. Competition should, therefore, be
As things stand, ZBC's television in particular is failing to cope
with the 75 percent edict. ZBC unadvisedly decided that all its
channels broadcast 24 hours a day and yet did not have enough quality
material even in the days when they still closed at 12 midnight, let
alone for the extended broadcasting time.
The corporation's television musical programmes are terribly
predictable. Anyone who has suffered from insomnia has also suffered
irritability when watching the same videos over and over again on
Sisonke Sounds. We see the same videos day-in day-out.
Imagine what would happen if we had to see strictly Zimbabwean videos.
We might even start to see some videos played twice in one show. The
presenters would obviously have to say that this was due to "popular
We already see Studio 263 almost on a daily basis, but I foresee a
situation where we'll see one episode twice in one day - one at the
usual time and another after the news at eight "for those who will
have missed it earlier", not forgetting the usual repeat the next
The fear of repeats is just one of the reasons that make me
apprehensive of the broadcast of 100 percent local content on our
radios and TV. Quite frankly, Zimbabwe would die. I may sound like an
alarmist, but imagine a country unable to compare itself with other
countries in the region and the world over.
The introduction of the likes of Kabanana and the African movies on
our television was very welcome. Not only can we identify with other
Africans, but we also compare our own productions with these and are
inspired. Besides, do the continent's presidents not encourage closer
ties and trade amongst nations? What about URTNA?
Imagine not being able to watch the likes of Suburban Bliss or My Wife
and Kids for instance. Never ever! How about being unable to hear the
music of Ringo Mandlingozi, R Kelly or, God forbid, Koffi Olomide!
Have we as a nation, decided not to be part of Africa? Have we
abrogated our membership to the world? Do we hope to be an island one
day? If we are able to compare ourselves only with ourselves, this
will have disastrous consequences on all sectors of our country's
developmental endeavours. I guess we would now say goodbye to watching
the Miss Malaika beauty pageant, unless if it were to come back to
Zimbabwe. Goodbye Champions League football! Goodbye Kora Awards!
What will happen to the news? Will it be affected by the policy? And
the weather? If a Zimbabwean were to travel to Johannesburg, would TV
and radio be allowed to tell him or her the type of weather to expect
The problems of self-isolation and lack of exposure are plenty. When
South Africa was a pariah nation, it suffered from the inability to
compare itself with others. When the isolation ended, South Africa's
Bafana Bafana came to play the "shoe-shine piano" brand of soccer
against our own Warriors. The South Africans were humiliated because
they were clearly out of touch.
Zimbabweans can visit other countries in order to be exposed to other
people's cultures, sports and business, or we can simply sit in front
of our television sets. Let's not be denied of this right.
When the 75 percent local content was introduced there was a public
outcry partly because this move was so unexpected. Resistance to
sudden change is a natural human reaction. The public were also
sceptical of the motives behind the idea. Artists, however, were
Zimbabweans have only just started to accept the merits of the policy,
though the motives were largely believed to have been political. It
would truly be a tragedy if the gains achieved through this policy
were to be wiped out due to the overzealousness of a complete ban on
foreign productions. If such an Act were to be passed, when the time
comes for legislators to repeal such an Act - for such a time will
surely come - it may even be deemed unnecessary to afford local
content any special treatment.
That would be a shame.
Those of us who cannot afford satellite dishes are making video rental
shop owners millionaires. I sincerely hope that when Professor
Jonathan Moyo talked about the 100 percent local content idea, he was
simply taking a leaf out of Aeneas Chigwedere's book when he mooted
the idea of a national school uniform. If so, I have thrown my two
Musavengana Nyasha is a former producer/presenter at the ZBC who is
now working as an independent entertainment consultant.