Mon 19 June 2006
KAROI - About 200 displaced white farmers from Mashonaland West
province have turned down an offer of farms by the government, saying there
was no guarantee the government would not in future turn back on the offer
and evict them again, ZimOnline has learnt.
Authoritative sources said Mashonaland West provincial governor Nelson
Samkange offered the farmers - among the close to 4 000 whites to lose land
to the government over the past six years - new farms in the wheat-producing
area of Tengwe which lies in his province about 260km north-west of Harare.
Samkange, who, according to sources, had permission from President
Robert Mugabe's office to give back land to "whites willing to work with the
government", had wanted the farmers back in Tengwe by May 20 in time to be
able to put a winter wheat crop on the ground.
"In fact, we were instructed to make available fuel for the about 200
white farmers who were to be allocated farms in the area of Tengwe. The idea
was that the farmers would move in, quickly revive the run-down farms and
boost wheat production," said a senior official with the government's
Agricultural Research and Extension (AREX) services department.
Tengwe is one of the prime farming areas in Mashonaland West producing
mainly wheat, tobacco and maize. But most of the farms there are now
derelict with infrastructure such as dams and tobacco barns in a state of
disrepair after black villagers resettled by the government on the former
white farms abandoned them.
The plan to bring back whites to Tengwe collapsed after ruling ZANU PF
party militants chased away white farmer, Justin Boddy, from his Elephants
Farm near Tengwe just at the time Samkange's office was trying to convince
the farmers that it would be safe to return, according to our source.
''What happened to Boddy took them (white farmers) by surprise and
they have since developed cold feet on the whole thing .. they are saying
they could never be sure that they would not be evicted again as happened in
2000," said the AREX official, who spoke on condition he was not named.
The white farmers were also put back by the state of dereliction of
farms in Tengwe and were unsure whether it would be possible to revive
production especially given Zimbabwe's hyperinflation and deteriorating
Samkange confirmed that his office had offered land to white farmers
but would not shed much detail on the matter only saying: "We had extended
our hand but they have snubbed us".
It was not possible to get comment on the matter yesterday from the
Commercial Farmers Union that represents white farmers.
There have been conflicting statements from the government on whether
it will invite back whites to resuscitate some of the farms it seized over
the past six years but which now lie unused because the new black owners are
no longer interested in farming.
At one time earlier this year, State Security and also Land Reform
Minister, Didymus Mutasa, told ZimOnline that his department had invited
whites to apply for farmland from the government saying that those who
qualify would be allocated farms.
Influential Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe governor Gideon Gono as well as
Vice-Presidents Joseph Msika and Joice Mujuru have also on several occasions
in the past said there should be no more eviction of the few remaining white
But farm seizures nonetheless continue to this day, with hardliner
Ministers of Agriculture Joseph Made and of Justice, Patrick Chinamasa,
saying the government would not give back land to whites and that in fact it
shall continue seizing more white farms to allocate to blacks who may still
The farm seizures that began in 2000 and which Mugabe says were meant
to correct an unjust land tenure system that reserved 75 percent of the best
arable land for minority whites while the majority blacks were cramped on
poor soils have been blamed for plunging Zimbabwe into severe food
The southern African country that was once a regional breadbasket has
largely survived food handouts from international relief agencies for the
past six years and will this year require more food aid for at least three
quarters of its 12 million people. - ZimOnline
Mon 19 June 2006
HARARE - Zimbabwe's long-term economic survival prospects look dimmer
by the day with analysts warning that the government's mortgaging of the
country's minerals to Asians is sure to lead to more troubles in the future
for the world's fastest shrinking economy.
President Robert Mugabe's government, at a loss as to how to
permanently tackle an economic crisis that started at the end of 1999, has
been parcelling out pockets of Zimbabwe's mineral wealth to China and other
Asian countries in return for mostly short-term assistance.
As part of its highly-vaunted "Look East" policy, the Zimbabwe
government has entered into at least 15 deals with the Chinese, Iranians and
other Asians, mostly on fuel, mining, electricity and communication.
Last week a Zimbabwean delegation led by Vice-President Joice Mujuru
was in China where they signed at least five agreements that would
effectively give the Chinese access to the country's resources.
However, analysts told ZimOnline that the Asian expedition would only
worsen Zimbabwe's crisis in that the deals only served to expand the
catchment area for Chinese and other Asian manufacturers to dump their
University of Zimbabwe (UZ) political science lecturer John Makumbe
said Zimbabwe's economy was structurally weak to sustain trade with China.
"The Chinese are an attractive country to trade with only if our
manufacturing sector is not on death row like is the case at the moment,"
The UZ lecturer said the Look East policy - which Mugabe adopted after
falling out with the West - was in fact, contributing to Zimbabwe's biting
economic crisis by destroying its manufacturing base as many industries were
forced to close after losing market share to mostly cheap Chinese-made
Harare economist James Jowa cautioned against continued Asian
deal-making, warning that these deals were leaving the country vulnerable to
the vagaries of world commodity prices.
"These countries are getting a cheap source of commodities at a time
when international prices of these products are firming. If anything, all
Zimbabwe is getting is a few days' supply of oil, electricity and other
things that we could as well produce locally if we get our act together,"
The recent World Economic Forum on Africa summit held in South Africa
singled out China's insatiable demand for commodities as one of the factors
pulling the rising Asian giant to Africa.
Chinese demand is, in fact, believed to be the reason behind the
recent firming of copper, gold and other commodity prices.
The analysts also believe that the current deal-making and attendant
mortgaging of Zimbabwe's resources could have serious repercussions in the
event that the country's economic fortunes normalise.
There was a likelihood that a future post-Mugabe government in Harare
might want to review some of the deals or in the worst case might want to
expel the Chinese and other Asian investors should Zimbabwe's economic
Zimbabwe is also bound to suffer heavy economic losses as prices of
commodities continue to firm.
"I foresee future problems with regards to our own indigenisation
policy for sectors like mining and manufacturing and also problems to do
with relations between future Zimbabwe governments and the Chinese and
Iranians," said Jowa.
Mugabe, who has ruled Zimbabwe since independence from Britain 26
years ago, has shifted his foreign policy to favour the East over the past
six years in response to what he views as sabotage by Western countries
angered by his government's land reforms. - ZimOnline
Mon 19 June 2006
HARARE - Zimbabwean police at the weekend banned the country's main
opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party from holding public
marches in central Harare in commemoration of the massacre of Soweto
schoolchildren by apartheid South African police on June 16, 1976.
"They are stopping us from holding commemorations of an event which
happened not in Zimbabwe but in South Africa. This government has become
paranoid. This is a violation of human rights," said Solomon Madzore, who is
chairman of the youth wing of the main rump of the splintered MDC led by
Madzore, who vowed that the opposition youths would defy the police
and hold the march sometime this week, said the law enforcement agency did
not give reasons for banning the march.
But he suggested the police may have feared the march could end up
turning into a protest against President Robert Mugabe, blamed by many
Zimbabweans for ruining the country's once brilliant economy.
Police spokesman Wayne Bvudzijena was not immediately reachable last
night for comment on the matter.
Police have banned all public demonstrations by the opposition and
civic society groups for fear these could easily cascade into mass
anti-Mugabe protests that Tsvangirai has threatened to call sometime this
Tsvangirai says he wants the protests to force Mugabe to step aside
and pave way for a government of national unity that would be tasked to lead
the writing of a new constitution and to organise fresh elections under
The government has warned Tsvangirai it will not allow Ukraine-style
mass revolt in Zimbabwe with Mugabe warning the opposition leader that he
would be "dicing with death" if he ever attempted to instigate a popular
uprising by Zimbabweans. - ZimOnline
Mon 19 June 2006
GABORONE - Civic groups in Botswana have urged southern African
leaders to adopt a much more robust approach to resolve a six-year old
political and economic crisis in Zimbabwe.
Speaking at a belated solidarity march in Gaborone for victims of a
controversial Zimbabwe government housing demolition campaign last year, the
civic groups called for a change of tactics by regional leaders as their
policies on Zimbabwe were not working.
South Africa, seen as the best country to influence political change
in Zimbabwe, has for the past six years refused to act against President
Robert Mugabe's government preferring a policy of "quiet diplomacy" against
the Harare authorities.
Addressing the marchers, opposition Botswana Congress Party secretary
general Lucas Taolo said "quiet diplomacy" was effectively a conspiracy
against suffering Zimbabweans.
Taolo said Botswana, which currently chairs the Southern African
Development Community (SADC) must push for a change of strategy in dealing
with the Zimbabwe issue.
The march was organised by the Botswana Civil Society for Zimbabwe, a
coalition of civic groups seeking to influence change in Zimbabwe, as part
of commemorations for the clean-up exercise that left at least 700 000
people homeless and directly affected another 2.4 million people, according
to a United Nations report. - ZimOnline
Mon 19 June 2006
MARONDERA - Three years ago during a particularly bad fuel shortage I
used to accompany my son to a nearby junior school by bicycle.
There was no way to avoid a short but steep hill and I always had to
get off and walk. My daily challenge was to stay on the bike until I reached
a big boulder half way up the hill.
This week I saw with sadness that the boulder has gone.
This big black rock, the size of a family car, has been painstakingly
chipped into little stones by a man, woman and two children over the last
We do have municipal police in our town but it seems they are more
concerned with impounding unlicensed bicycles than protecting the
environment for us and those that come after us.
Now a rock, thousands of years old, is stacked in little piles on the
side of the road for sale to builders.
On a recent journey there were six police road blocks in a distance of
just seventy kilometres. This is another fragment of Zimbabwean life where
you are left with more questions than answers.
As you repeatedly slow down for the road blocks you begin to feel like
you are travelling in a country which is at war.
You keep asking yourself just exactly what it is the police, who seem
younger by the day, are looking for in so many road blocks.
Another view of Zimbabwe is the display of wealth by the nouveau riche
in the country. Luxury cars and extravagant four wheel drive vehicles worth
multiple billions of dollars fill car parks and block roads in shopping
centres in affluent parts of suburban Harare.
The new super rich people of Zimbabwe seem keen to show off their
wealth and are keen to be seen.
At the dirtiest tattiest little beer hall or bar on the side of the
road there is always at least one Mercedes or one luxury double cab - more
often though there is a whole line of them.
Life in Zimbabwe is such a strange mixture of wildly contrasting
circumstances and these days almost nothing is as it seems.
For the past week only one thing has been certain: If the electricity
is on there is a World Cup football game being shown on TV, if its off, then
there's no game being played.
I end with the very sad news that a man so many of us felt we knew,
passed away this week. Wrex Tarr, a businessman, an entertainer, newsreader,
a national archer and rifle shottist died aged 71 in East London.
Apparently Wrex Tarr died while entertaining a happy crowd of bowlers
at the club after the day's play. I offer my sincere condolences to the
* Cathy Buckle is a Zimbabwean writer based in Marondera
Morgan had lunch with a group of local business leaders this week. During
the conversation he made the point that he would never have predicted that
the Nationalist government in South Africa in 1989 would have accepted the
changes that were about to break over the heads of all who lived in South
Africa. They controlled all the instruments of the State, huge resources,
the electoral system and the media. Domestically they seemed to be
unassailable. Five years later they were defeated, out of power and the
Party that had dominated South Africa for the previous 45 years had
It happens. Never say the word "impossible" in politics.
Suddenly there is a new consensus in the international community about
Zimbabwe. This replaces the assumed approach sculptured by Tony Blair at the
G8 summit in mid 2005 when the G8 renewed its commitment to helping put the
Zimbabwe economy back on its feet and its support for the approach proposed
by the South Africans. After the Gleneagles summit, Thabo Mbeki has had a go
at getting Mr. Mugabe to step aside and allow reform and recovery on three
separate occasions and on each occasion he was frustrated by the local
We, in the MDC were never happy with the approach being adopted for the
resolution of the crisis over the past year and are quite happy that the
Blair/Mbeki approach has failed. In its place a much more principled and
robust approach has now been crafted and seems to have suddenly gained
acceptance across the globe.
In response we have modified our own approach and this is now synchronized
with the new UN crafted proposals and is currently being given some flesh by
experts and legal draftsmen. As soon as this process is complete we will be
ready for what might be coming in the near future.
The reasons for this new consensus are not hard to understand. It is now 4
years since George Bush stood with Mr. Mbeki in Pretoria and stated that
Mbeki was now the "point man" on the Zimbabwe crisis. A logical choice - he
has the power to coerce the Zimbabwean leadership if this is required, he
has the experience and his own country had just been through a dramatic
transition assisted by the global community.
In fact Mr. Mbeki accepted the role but then tried to use his position to
secure an outcome that would have left a so-called "sanitized Zanu PF
government" in power. The reasons for this were purely domestic and had
little to do with what was best for Zimbabwe. Had the Zanu PF leadership
recognised this and co-operated with Mr. Mbeki then he might have made
progress and we (the MDC and the people of Zimbabwe) would have had to learn
to live with new leadership, perhaps modified policies, but with most of the
same problems that beset us right now.
The leadership of Zanu PF did not see this as a way out and instead they
blocked all Mbeki's efforts to resolve the crisis. In fact they have
insulted and slandered the South African President and must now finally face
the new consensus without his support and protection.
The second reason for the new consensus is the acceptance that Zimbabwe is
now close to collapse. I have often said this before - countries do not
collapse like companies, but in this case I may in fact be wrong. We are now
close to the very real threat that we may not be able to sustain our economy
as a functional entity. Coal supplies are down to critical levels,
electrical energy needs are no longer being met and our own local crisis is
being exacerbated by a growing deficit in electrical energy supplies
regionally. Our railways are no longer capable of moving more than a small
proportion of our national transport needs and we no longer have the foreign
currency to support essential imports - this week saw Air Zimbabwe suspend
flights because it simply cannot keep its aircraft in the air.
A country like the Congo can survive these sorts of pressures - the majority
of its economy is informal and can survive these chaotic conditions. Its
inherent riches have enabled the Congo to survive under a succession of
corrupt, even criminal, elements since 1960.
Somaliland has seen half its total population leave the country since its
own collapse began. Other African States that have failed have seen similar
numbers of migrants fleeing the country for greener pastures. The great
difference here is that our own millions of fleeing citizens have in the
main "gone south". A correspondent told me just this week that they now
think that up to 4 million Zimbabweans may be living in South Africa - only
15 per cent as legal residents.
The continued, even accelerated collapse in the Zimbabwean economy this year
has scared a lot of people - in the region and abroad. It has suddenly given
new impetus to the search for a solution.
Perhaps another reason for the new consensus on the way forward and the need
to throw some weight behind the initiative, is the new sense of the
fragility of the South African situation. The SACP and Cosatu are talking
about breaking away from the ANC and if they did the political spectrum in
South Africa would change overnight. A leftist Party would emerge from the
new dispensation that could challenge the hegemony of the ANC in South
African politics. It is Mbeki's nightmare scenario.
Under these circumstances he needs to narrow down the focus of the South
African administration and reduce the number of fronts on which they are
dealing with serious problems. Zimbabwe is one place where they could effect
such a reduction and at the same time perhaps draw the interests of the ANC
alliance parties together.
Whatever the reasons - there is suddenly a new consensus on the way forward.
Like a clearing in deep, dense fog at sea - suddenly we can all see how a
transitional government might open up the situation here - allow the
international community in with resources and open up the possibility that
free and fair elections could be held in a year or so. So watch the meeting
in the Gambia next week very closely. It is perhaps another turning point in
southern African history - one that will echo the events in September 1976
when Ian Smith was forced to cede to a transition and 1989 when the South
Africans faced the same scenario and succumbed to a combination of domestic
and international pressure. Perhaps, just perhaps, this time is our turn -
Bulawayo, June 17th 2006
Saturday 17th June 2006
Dear Family and Friends,
Zimbabwe tells a very strange story to the casual passer by. We are a
country so full of contradictions and extremes that sometimes just the
fragments tell their own story about the situation here.
Driving on the main road through Marondera this week I noticed that two big
shops have just suddenly gone. A couple of weeks ago they were there but now
they are unexpectedly closed; windows bare, doors locked, iron bars and
grills padlocked and protecting empty showrooms.
Three years ago during a particularly bad fuel shortage I used to accompany
my son to a nearby junior school by bicycle. There was no way to avoid a
short but steep hill and I always had to get off and walk. My daily
challenge was to stay on the bike until I reached a big boulder half way up
the hill. This week I saw with sadness that the boulder has gone. This big
black rock, the size of a family car, has been painstakingly chipped into
little stones by a man, woman and two children over the last few months. We
do have municipal police in our town but it seems they are more concerned
with impounding unlicensed bicycles than protecting the environment for us
and those that come after us. Now a rock, thousands of years old, is stacked
in little piles on the side of the road for sale to builders.
On a recent journey there were six police road blocks in a distance of just
seventy kilometres. This is another fragment of Zimbabwean life where you
are left with more questions than answers. As you repeatedly slow down for
the road blocks you begin to feel like you are travelling in a country which
is at war. You keep asking yourself just exactly what it is the police, who
seem younger by the day, are looking for in so many road blocks.
Another view of Zimbabwe is the display of wealth by the nouveau riche in
the country. Luxury cars and extravagant four wheel drive vehicles worth
multiple billions of dollars fill car parks and block roads in shopping
centres in affluent parts of suburban Harare. The new super rich people of
Zimbabwe seem keen to show off their wealth and are keen to be seen. At the
dirtiest tattiest little beer hall or bar on the side of the road there is
always at least one Mercedes or one luxury double cab - more often though
there is a whole line of them.
Life in Zimbabwe is such a strange mixture of wildly contrasting
circumstances and these days almost nothing is as it seems. For the past
week only one thing has been certain: If the electricity is on there is a
world cup football game being shown on TV, if its off, then there's no game
I end with the very sad news that a man so many of us felt we knew, passed
away this week. Wrex Tarr, a businessman, an entertainer, newsreader, a
national archer and rifle shottist died aged 71 in East London. Apparently
Wrex Tarr died while entertaining a happy crowd of bowlers at the club after
the day's play. I offer my sincere condolences to the family.
Until next week, love cathy
By a Correspondent
LONDON - A WELL-KNOWN Zimbabwean intellectual and lawyer, Dr Alex
Magaisa, has criticised some civic society organisations in Zimbabwe for
replicating the behaviour of political organisations that they are fighting
In a wide-ranging paper on the situation in Zimbabwe presented at the
inaugural annual Basker Vashee Memorial lecture in Amsterdam, Dr Magaisa
singled out the National Constitutional Assembly (NCA) as one such
organisation. He said some CSOs in Zimbabwe have failed to live by the
principles that they espouse.
"Worse however, is when CSOs begin to replicate the behaviour of the
political organisations that they are fighting to change," he told a
receptive audience in the Netherlands. "This has happened for example, when
Constitutions of CSOs are changed on the basis of following the will of the
people, something that ZANU PF and the government has done in the past." The
NCA has recently amended its Constitution amid controversial circumstances,
with allegations flying around that the amendments were designed to allow Dr
Madhuku to remain in power beyond the stipulated two terms.
"As a body that has been fighting for a new Constitution, people have
begun to doubt whether it still has the moral authority to challenge
President Mugabe and ZANU PF in the wake of the controversial amendments.
Whatever the merits of the amendments the NCA ought to have taken into
account the current context and refrained from appearing to replicate ZANU
He continued: "Also worrying are the allegations that Dr Madhuku's
supporters used violence and threatened opponents of the constitutional
Dr Magaisa said it was sad that very few organisations in the country
had spoken out openly against the NCA debacle.
"The biggest problem however is that except for the Mutambara led
faction of the MDC, none of the other political and non-political actors
preaching the word of democracy have uttered a word of condemnation against
Dr Madhuku and the NCA," he said. "The Tsvangirai-led MDC, which appears to
command a majority at present, has not commented on the episode. One
suspects that the apparent conspiracy of silence is motivated by political
alliances, which mean that none of the alliance partners has the moral
standing or courage to criticise the other." He said the alliance of
partners also resulted in CSOs keeping quiet when the Morgan Tsvangirai MDC
was accused of using violence against some senior party officials.
"Violence was also reportedly used against opponents and perpetrators
got away with it - fuelling impunity. At that time civil society remained
largely silent and at worst took sides in the MDC split, thereby undermining
their own impartiality," said Dr Magaisa. "It is unsurprising then that now
that the NCA has trampled on its own principles and values, there is by and
large unity in silence, bar the lone voice of the Mutambara MDC, which
called for Dr Madhuku to step down. There is only one word to describe the
whole episode: embarrassment."
Dr Magaisa said it was small wonder that in the eyes of a number of
critics, CSOs have lost credibility and have become part of the problem in
Zimbabwe. "Unless they reform and refocus, they risk becoming an irrelevant
side-show in the current politics and a mere footnote when the history of
Zimbabwe is told in future," he said.
Dr Magaisa said allegations of corruption and lack of accountability
have also posed threats to the credibility of CSOs. The greed and
competition for resources, he said, has had a largely negative effect on the
nature of CSOs hence the many unnecessary and wasteful divisions. "It is not
uncommon that once a leader loses office in an NGO he goes on to form
another one. Unfortunately donors buy into their project proposal and
consequently Zimbabwe has a lot of organisations doing the same things. They
cannot even mobilise their membership, if they have any, in order to carry
on a united protest."
The paper also touched on Zanu PF politics and paralysis, the
succession issue, the opposition MDC and the situation obtaining in Zimbabwe
at the moment. He did not only look at the visible damage done by
hyperinflation, material shortages and the breakdown of the rule of law in
Zimbabwe, but also at the invisible damage the country's current crisis is
having on the culture, behaviour and attitude of citizens towards each
other, the state and other institutions. Dr Magaisa argued in addition to
insisting on a new government and Constitution, the Zimbabwe opposition
movement needs to closely scrutinise its own practices and work to develop a
more democratic culture.
The Basker Vashee Memorial lecture will be held annually to
commemorate the life of Basker Vashee (1944-2005), a Zimbabwean activist and
scholar who was director of the Amsterdam-based Transnational Institute
(TNI) from 1977 to 1987, and a TNI Fellow until the end of his life.
Sunday News, Zimbabwe
In a strange twist of irony, some revenue halls run by the Zimbabwe
Electricity Distribution Company are failing to collect payments from
consumers because the unpredictable power cuts that have plagued the city
have not spared the company's computer-based billing system.
Residents of Mzilikazi, Nguboyenja and Thorngrove suburbs had their
electricity cut off this week for outstanding debts as low as $66 000, while
others risk being switched off after failing to pay due to ongoing power
blackouts that are ironically affecting the ZEDC revenue halls, Sunday News
As Mzilikazi residents made efforts to pay the recently hiked tariffs before
supplies were cut off, the local residents' association was busy engaging
officials from the power utility to reconsider the decision to cut off power
Following the tariffs hike, fixed seven-amp and 15-amp charges went up to
$700 000 and $1,5 million respectively.
Tellers at the Nguboyenja revenue hall were on Monday forced to resort to
issuing handwritten receipts and could hardly cope with hundreds of
residents intending to settle their bills.
As early as 7am, hundreds of residents had formed a long queue which
stretched up to the robot-controlled intersection of Luveve Road and
Nguboyenja Road, commonly known as eMachipsini, some 200 metres away.
The revenue hall, just like the households in the ward, has also been hit by
power cuts during business hours, thus affecting the smooth payment of
bills, much to the disadvantage of residents who had to patiently queue
until they were served manually.
Residents complained that they were made to pay much more than they owed as
tellers were forced to estimate the amount due when the computers were down.
Miss Portia Ncube, of Mzilikazi, said she failed to pay on Monday following
an almost two-hour power cut that affected the suburb, including the revenue
"I woke up as early as six o'clock and found the queue stretching up to
Sotshangana Flats. By 7 o'clock, it was reaching the robot intersection.
"The queue was moving quite fast until the power cut at around eight o'clock.
The tellers then started issuing handwritten receipts and this lengthened
the process. I had some business to do in town and I ended up leaving and
returned to pay the following day," she told the Sunday News in an
She said she was initially issued with an electronic receipt after paying
$600 000 following which she was directed to another teller where she was
told to pay $85 000 which was recorded on a manually prepared receipt.
"I did not understand why I had to pay to two different tellers. It has
become difficult for one to determine what is due because of the use of both
computerised and manual methods," she said.
It also emerged that a number of households in the suburb had electricity
supplies cut off for various outstanding amounts.
One source said one household in the suburb had power cut off over an
outstanding $66 000, although this could not be formally verified.
The power utility demands a $5 million reconnection fee from residents who
want their supplies restored.
Residents have of late rapped the Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority
Holdings for implementing an inconsistent load shedding schedule that has
seen many families lose electrical gadgets due to power surges.
Officials at the Bulawayo ZESA offices referred the Sunday News to the power
utility's corporate communications manager, Mr James Maridadi, whose mobile
phone was not audible enough at the time of writing yesterday.
The Mzilikazi Residents' Association chairman, Mr Mckenzie Sibanda,
yesterday said his organisation is engaging ZESA officials on the way
"We had some meetings with them and we are set to meet again in view of the
latest developments. We discussed the load limiters deadline issue as well
as the power cuts we are experiencing.
"We will be meeting again and I hope we will agree on the way forward," he
He could not be drawn into discussing what came out of the previous meeting,
saying he would give a detailed comment tomorrow after attending a workshop
elsewhere in the city.
" I am afraid I am attending a two-day workshop and I am busy. Phone me on
Monday (tomorrow ) and I will be able to give you details on the issue," he
ZESA early this month said Zimbabweans must adapt to living with the
inconvenience of power cuts because its generation and distribution capacity
had been severely reduced by a combination of ageing infrastructure ,
vandalism of equipment and low tariffs.
ZEDC managing director Engineer Ben Rafemoyo was recently quoted as saying
that the company would at times be forced to work outside the load shedding
schedule announced in May due to expected power shortages.
"It is an inconvenience that we will have to live with. We might have to
work outside the schedule because of unforeseen power failure," Eng Rafemoyo
was quoted as saying.
He pointed out that although the power outages could be partly attributed to
the envisaged electricity shortfall in southern Africa next year due to high
demand, Zimbabwe was not the only country experiencing power shortages in
Two new stars of the vigil: Wilfred Muzuwa, aged 12, and his brother
Kudakwashe, aged 10. They are the sons of Patson Muzuwa, a Vigil stalwart
from Leicester who is delighted to have been able to bring them over from
Zimbabwe. It was a joy to welcome them and they immediately made themselves
useful, both dressed in England football strip. Asked his impressions of
England, Wilfred said "The people here are rich but they are also poor".
Patson, a torture survivor, is to feature in a Zimbabwean theatrical
production 'Qabuka', which runs from 28th June - 15th July at the Oval House
Theatre (Box Office 020 7582 7680). The production is devised from the
personal stories of over 100 Zimbabweans in exile.
One incident on a hot day: Wiz was confronted by a fellow with a raised
finger. She thought "Oh help, more of Mugabe the saviour of Africa", but
instead he said "Fantastic, we must get rid of these dictators in Africa".
Attitudes among the Afro- Caribbean community do seem to be changing.
We were pleased our new friends from Brighton, Wellington and Alois, came
back to spread the message of their youth organization, Free Zim: "Away with
the rhetoric of the past. We must confront where we are today". They have
become firm supporters of the Vigil which they say was a catalyst for their
initiative. We were also glad to have with us Mrs Biba and Lois who were
asking for support for the WOZA protest (see below for details). Thanks to
Clifford whose dancing energized the Vigil.
We were visited by a couple from Zimbabwe. They were violently thrown off
their farm and the husband, who was very frail, has never recovered his
health. Nevertheless, he plans to return soon to Zimbabwe.
Latest news on our evidence of torture to the UN. We have now been put in
touch with Christina Saunders, the new person in charge of the Zimbabwe Desk
on the Human Rights Council. She has been very encouraging and has asked us
to resubmit our evidence (which we have done) so that she can ensure that it
is followed through properly. You may not be aware that the UN Human Rights
Commission (which had Zimbabwe as a member!) has been reformed and is now
known as the UN Human Rights Council. Unlike its predecessor, in which
members were elected by regional groups with the support of 28 or fewer
countries, the new Council requires the agreement of 96 nations in a secret
ballot. For the first time each member's human rights record will be
scrutinised before and after elections. The Council will meet throughout the
year, not just once a year, making it more responsive to human rights
For this week's Vigil pictures:
FOR THE RECORD: 52 signed the register.
FOR YOUR DIARY:
· Monday, 19th June, 7.30 pm - Zimbabwe Forum. This week there will
be a social evening at the Theodore Bullfrog pub, 28 John Adam Street,
London WC2. We have lost the exclusive use of the upstairs room at the pub
on 19th and 26th June because of the World Cup. The Forum will be meeting
on 26th June after the service at St Martin-in-the-Fields (see below) at a
local venue still to be decided.
· Tuesday, 20th June, 5 - 7 pm - WOZA UK will be holding a
solidarity protest with WOZA in Zimbabwe outside the Zimbabwe Embassy, 429
Strand. London. WOZA is marking this day, World Refugee Day, because
Zimbabweans are refugees in their own country. The theme this year is
"Keeping the Flame of Hope Alive". WOZA demands the right to earn a living.
· Monday, 26th June, 5.30 pm - special service, organised by the
Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum at St Martin-in-the-Fields Church, Trafalgar
Square, London, for Zimbabwean and Sudanese victims of torture to mark UN
International Day in Support of Victims of Torture. We are pleased that the
Zimbabwean community in the UK has linked with activists from another
suffering African community.
The Vigil, outside the Zimbabwe Embassy, 429 Strand, London, takes place
every Saturday from 14.00 to 18.00 to protest against gross violations of
human rights by the current regime in Zimbabwe. The Vigil which started in
October 2002 will continue until internationally-monitored, free and fair
elections are held in Zimbabwe. http://www.zimvigil.co.uk
18/06/2006 14:03 - (SA)
Harare - Zimbabwe is considering three foreign bids to mine uranium, a
state-run newspaper reported on Sunday, saying work could begin before the
end of the year.
Deputy Mines Minister Tinos Rusere did not identify the bidders to the
Sunday Mail, a government mouthpiece, saying only that they were narrowed
down from a number of applications to exploit uranium in the remote Kanyemba
Among the countries believed involved were China, Russia, South Africa and
Namibia, the paper said.
President Robert Mugabe announced in November that the government plans to
turn to nuclear energy to ease chronic electricity shortages in the country,
which has close ties to two countries with controversial nuclear programs -
Iran and North Korea.
A plan in the 1990s to acquire a reactor from Argentina never materialised.
Rusere did not specify whether uranium processing proposals were included in
the bids currently under consideration, but said an eventual deal would
inject much-needed hard currency into the crumbling economy, according to
Zimbabwe is suffering its worst economic crisis since Mugabe led the country
to independence from Britain in 1980, with acute shortages of food, foreign
currency, gasoline and other imports.
The crisis is blamed largely on the collapse of agriculture following the
seizure of thousands of white-owned commercial farms for redistribution to
Lengthy power and water outages occur daily. Zimbabwe imports nearly 40% of
its power from neighbouring countries and has not been able to meet its
Its own generating stations have been hit by breakdowns coupled with
shortages of equipment, spare parts and coal.
Significant uranium deposits were found in Kanyemba by German prospectors in
the 1970s, but were never exploited because of low world prices.
The Kanyemba district is about 250km north of the capital, Harare.
June 18, 2006.
By ANDnetwork .com
The exchange rate movements on the Zimbabwean parallel market are
beginning to be felt in the gold mining industry as smuggling and illicit
trade of the commodity has heightened over the past month, The Sunday Mail
Business has learnt.
By Darlington Musarurwa
Since the beginning of the year, prices on the parallel market have
been adjusted upwards by more than 100% as the Zimbabwe dollar continues to
record losses against major currencies.
Last week sources told this paper that the yellow metal was now being
quoted at prices ranging from Z$5 million and Z$6 million per gram, which is
markedly higher than that offered by Fidelity Printers and Refiners which
has been stagnant at Z$2.5 million since the beginning of the year.
Gold contributes about 52% of the mineral output in the country, but
deliveries have been declining since the beginning of the year as miners opt
for the illegal but much rewarding parallel market.
Most small-scale miners interviewed last week called for the upward
revision of gold prices saying this would shore up deliveries.
Statistics that have been availed by the Chamber of Mines show that
gold production has been declining from more than 1 000kg at the beginning
of the year to 820kg in April, with the exception of March when volumes
marginally picked up to 863kg.
However, for the first quarter, the country managed to rake in close
to Z$7 trillion from gold sales.
"Gold syndicates have intensified their operations, especially in
Kwekwe and Kadoma, where the high prices that are being fetched by the metal
have fuelled illegal trade.
"Prices have significantly moved over the past month and this has led
to a marked rift between those being offered by the authority and the
"Although, there has been improvement in policing the sector by the
authorities, the major syndicates have not been busted yet," said the
The authorities are understood to have launched "Operation Goldfinger"
in a bid to suffocate the parallel market, but they are reportedly finding
it difficult to track the syndicates.
When asked for comment, the president of the Zimbabwe Indigenous
Miners and Approved Prospectors' Union (ZIMAPU), Rangana Chauke, said that
the present situation in the gold mining sector was untenable and there was
need for the authorities to intervene and address the challenges that are
being faced by players in the industry.
"The situation in the mining sector is very worrying at the moment and
viability problems have come to dog the industry players.
"The whole process of producing the metal is very expensive to such an
extent that operational costs far outweigh the returns on investment.
"With the way that things are going, we might fail to even produce the
quantities of gold that were realised last year and the gap that has
developed between the official prices and those on the parallel market has
made the situation all the more difficult.
"Most of our staff members are now abandoning our companies and opting
to join the gold syndicates," said Chauke.
Prices of mercury, which is used for refining the yellow metal, are
now at about Z$1.5 million per teaspoon while milling the gold is about
Z$600 000 per hour. It takes an average of three hours to mill one ton.
Transport costs have also risen to between Z$15 million and Z$20
million to transport five tons of the commodity.
The prices of gold on the international market have also been rising
since the beginning of the year and it is estimated that the country could
have lost millions in earnings as a result of the dip in production.
Sunday Mail Business
Mail and Guardian
Johannesburg, South Africa
18 June 2006 10:12
A 21-year old Zimbabwean man is in police custody after holding
a hypodermic needle to an air hostess's throat on a South African Airways
flight on Saturday.
Police said the man, whom they believe to be mentally disturbed,
had apparently wanted to force the pilot to fly to Maputo.
Cape Town resident Yunus Ismail told the Mail & Guardian Online
was sitting in his business class seat when he saw the man walking towards
the cockpit with an air hostess.
"He shouted, 'If you don't open the door I'll kill her,'" Ismail
said on Saturday night.
"Three of us jump up . we got such a fright ... and then they
cuffed him," he said.
The plane then flew back to Cape Town and a police task force
stormed the plane and arrestd the suspect. Passengers were instructed to put
their hands on their heads.
Ismail said one passenger had been struck in the face by a
member of the task force.
The paper quoted Cape Town photographer Roger Sedres (37), who
was seated next to the suspected hijacker, as saying he was well-dressed and
had acted strangely from the time he boarded.
"He kept on fiddling with his phone and putting his hand in his
pockets. He did not say a word or greet me."
Sedres told the paper he had immediately known an attempted
hijacking was in progress when, about 35 minutes into the flight, the man
suddenly got up from his 22C aisle seat, walked about 20m towards the front
of the plane and grabbed an air hostess.
"He said something but I couldn't hear what he was saying." said
the Sunday Times
The man was then immediately tackled and handcuffed by a group
of passengers, including an off-duty pilot.
"It was an attempted hijacking ... but at no point did he come
close to entering the cockpit. At this stage we have no understanding of
what his specific demands were," SAA spokesperson Jacqui O'Sullivan told the
Police spokesperson Inspector Bernadine Steyn said the man would
remain in custody while charges were formulated. - Sapa and Staff Reporter
From The Herald, 17 June
Government has, for the fourth consecutive time, re-appointed Ms Sekesayi
Makwavarara and four members of the commission running the affairs of the
City of Harare for a further six months. Four other members of the
commission were not re-appointed, but no reasons were given. Commissioners
whose terms of office were renewed are Cde Tendai Savanhu (deputy commission
chairperson), Mrs Prisca Mupfumira, Mr Justin Chivavaya and Mr Michael
Mahachi. Mr Terrence Hussein, Engineer Noel Muzuva, Mrs Viola Chasi and
Professor Jameson Kurasha were not re-appointed. Addressing a Press
conference in Harare yesterday, the Minister of Local Government, Public
Works and Urban Development, Cde Ignatius Chombo, ruled out the holding of
municipal elections in the city until Harare Metropolitan Province districts
are properly defined. He said the Government was pleased with the work done
by the commission as it had managed to achieve targets set for it. There are
plans to include at least three district administrators in the commission.
Ms Makwavarara's term of office has been marred by controversy owing to her
predilection for an expensive lifestyle. The commission was appointed after
the dismissal of the MDC-led council in 2004 after it was found guilty of
mismanagement. Although commissions are normally appointed for a period of
six months, in the case of Harare, the Government indicated at the beginning
that the body would operate for 24 months, implying it would periodically
renew the commission's mandate. The two years expire in December this year.
Cde Chombo said there was an outstanding issue of the province's boundaries,
which needed to be addressed first before elections could be held. "In other
words, there is no consensus let alone unanimity on the matter. Ideally
given the sensitivity of the issue, Government would want to proceed on the
basis of mutual agreement amongst all concerned. Once the provincial
boundary is agreed upon, metropolitan districts and wards shall then be
carved out," he said.
The Urban Councils Act, which governs the operations of local authorities,
empowers the Minister of Local Government, Public Works and Urban
Development to appoint a commission and does not fix the number of times the
minister can do so. The Act states in section 81 that: "A commissioner
appointed in terms of sub-section (1) shall hold office during the pleasure
of the minister, but his office shall terminate as soon as there are
councillors for the council area who are able to exercise all their
functions as councillors, or six months after the date of his appointment,
which ever occurs first." The Act states that if the minister is satisfied
that after the termination of the office of a commissioner appointed in
terms of sub section (1) there will be no councillors for the council area
who will be able to exercise all their functions, the minister may reappoint
the commissioner in terms of sub-section (1). Sub-section (1) states that
the minister may appoint a commission to act as council if there are no
councillors or all the councillors for a council area have been suspended,
imprisoned or are unable to exercise their functions as councillors.
Cde Chombo said the re-appointments were done on the strength of
achievements scored by the commission. He said he was pleased with the
productive outturn of the commission. He said the establishment of business
units, corporatised entities and utility agencies has enhanced the city's
revenue base. "I observe and hear with extreme pleasure that, to date, this
strategy has paid dividends in the increased visibility of the city in areas
such as road maintenance, street and traffic lights management, improved
refuse collection capacity as the plant and equipment is slowly but surely
being brought back on the city's roads," he said. Harare now boasts of 20
new refuse tractors, all fitted with trailers and a number of repaired
refuse trucks. "Quick attendance to burst water and sewer pipelines and
indeed increased financial inflows are indicators of the turnaround strategy
bearing fruit under your leadership against a background of negative forces
calling for levy boycotts," he said
Comment from The Zimbabwean, 16 June
By Fr Oskar Wermter SJ
Real evil often appears in the guise of great social charm
"The president has bad advisers. If he knew what is really going on he would
do something about it," you can still hear occasionally. It is unbelievable
how people deceive themselves about the true state of affairs in Zimbabwe.
They like to think everything is normal, apart from a few "mistakes".
Christians are not necessarily better judges of politics than other people.
They have no special enlightenment. They may be as naïve and gullible as the
rest of us. In fact, biased towards values like "peace" and
"reconciliation", they may make worse blunders than others. "You must not
judge and condemn others," they may say, and this could blur their political
vision. "You must see both sides," is another noble sentiment, which may
prevent them from seeing the evil and malice of those responsible. "They are
just people like you and me, they make mistakes, but they are doing their
best." Precisely. Real evil often appears in the guise of great social
charm. The "pied pipers" who have destroyed the lives of millions were often
at first applauded by their later victims.
"The Church must stay neutral so as to be ready to act as arbitrator and
peacemaker," say some church leaders. Neither an individual Christian nor
the Church as a body can stay neutral in the face of sheer injustice. The
trouble is, some people cannot recognize injustice even when the facts stare
them in the face. "Murambatsvina was not a bad thing. After all, government
was merely implementing the laws of the country," they say. Nonsense. No law
of the country gave government the right to destroy people's homes without
warning. Even illegally built dwellings fulfil a vital function, namely of
giving otherwise homeless people a roof over their heads. If the law gave
government the right to inflict such harm on people then the law would be an
ass. But in fact it did not. Anna Tibaijuka's UN report made this quite
clear. It is irresponsible to make moral judgments without taking the
trouble to get to know the facts.
Besides, the basic human right to life and to shelter overrides city council
regulations concerning building permits etc. Many people in Zimbabwe do not
know that the positive law enacted by parliament or by city councils must be
in accord with natural justice. There can be bad and harmful laws, which
people in good conscience can disregard. No government has the right to
enact laws that put people's lives at risk. That is why we need a Bill of
Rights in the Constitution that cannot be overruled by any positive law.
"Murambatsvina was a good idea. Merely the way it was carried out was not so
good," I have heard, believe it or not. That is like saying to a killer,
"You were quite right murdering that man. Only you should not have cut off
his head. Poisoning him would have been better."
"There is nothing wrong with inviting the President to church functions. The
Church respects the head of state." Quite so. If he comes as head of state
and represents the nation, there is not much wrong with that. But if he
comes as head of government and party leader, talking party politics and
indulging in hate speech, denouncing his enemies including certain critical
church leaders, his presence is divisive and unacceptable at church
gatherings. "Government may have made mistakes here and there. Who is
without fault? But after all it is our government, and we must defend it
against the western world." Certain people, even within the Church, resent
any criticism coming from outside the country, or even from foreign-born
people inside the country. African solidarity must prevail. That is very
human. Brothers fight each other within the family, but close ranks against
any attack from the outside.
But in the end this attitude is no better than the old British jingoistic
saying, "My country - right or wrong". This blind nationalism - blind to any
moral values - has done untold harm to Europe in World War One and Two. It
is currently doing untold harm to Africa. It is unworthy of a Christian and
a betrayal of Christian principles which apply universally. Nationalism and
racism are incompatible with the Church which is catholic and all-embracing,
making no ethnic distinctions. "The Church must have good relations with
government so as to be able to carry on its work in education and health
care." Now that is a tricky one. In our present situation of general decay
church schools and hospitals are indeed rendering a vital service to the
people and must not be endangered. For this "privilege" of having church
institutions government is exacting a political price, namely the Church's
silence in matters of social justice. The Church cannot avoid some official
contacts behind closed doors. But the Church should not give the appearance
in public as if it was endorsing government and all its policies. That would
be too high a price.