Mail & Guardian,
31 May 2006 11:59
A man who gunned down a white Zimbabwean farmer four years ago has been sentenced to death by the Zimbabwe High Court, reports said on Wednesday.
Munetsi Kadzinga (31) was sentenced to death by high court Judge Bharat Patel on Tuesday after he was convicted of murdering farmer Charles Anderson in 2002, the state-controlled Herald newspaper reported.
"The court is of the unanimous opinion that there are no extenuating circumstances in this case. It follows that I have no option but to impose the morally invidious but legally inescapable sentence of death upon the accused," Patel was quoted as saying.
Kadzinga and an accomplice ransacked Anderson's farmhouse in Mashonaland central province in June 2002. Kadzinga shot and killed Anderson, a father of two, as he arrived back home with his family before escaping with a vehicle and looted property.
More than a dozen white farmers have been murdered since President Robert Mugabe launched his controversial white land seizures in 2000. But very few of the perpetrators have been arrested or convicted in court.
Earlier in the trial Patel dismissed Kadzinga's claim that he had been told to carry out attacks on white farmers by senior government officials, including the then-Home Affairs Minister, John Nkomo. -- Sapa-dpa
By Tichaona Sibanda
31 May 2006
The University of Zimbabwe has hiked its tuition and accomodation fees from Z$90 million to Z$150 million per semester and are almost certain to be heading on a collision course with students. UZ Vice-chancellor Levy Nyagura announced the new fee hikes in a circular sent out on Tuesday.
Zimbabwe National Students Union co-ordinator Washington Katema said he was informed of the ‘sad news’ on Tuesday and blasted the government for unilaterally raising the fees when ‘almost all students were struggling to pay Z$90 million.’
‘What the government has just done is to add salt to injury. We are sons and daughters of poor farmers and civil servants who are struggling to get us to school with the little money they get from their salaries,’ Katema said.
Katema strongly believes the fee hike is an attempt by the government to close down universities in the country. Lately, students have been on the ‘war path’ with authorities, clashing with the police over a number of unresolved issues with the government. Chief among the students’ grievances have been the fee hikes, that triggered violent clashes between law enforcers and the students.
There are fears the latest hikes will fuel more disturbances between the students and the authorities. According to Katema, the latest increases will affect everyone at the UZ. He said the reaction from the students was naturally to drop out of the college because none of them seems to have any alternative.
‘This is a disaster, basically what this means is government has killed our vision and hopes of having tertiary education. Government has killed our future and destroyed our hopes. In fact they don’t deserve to be called a government, they have failed to deliver and must go,’ said Katema.
By Tererai Karimakwenda
31 May 2006
South African officials have been dead silent about the deteriorating Zimbabwe situation for a long time now and the country’s policies on Zimbabwe have reflected a denial of the crisis next door. But this week has seen a flurry of comments that seem to suggest they are finally admitting Zimbabwe has a serious problem. There is still however no admission by any of them that Robert Mugabe and ZANU-PF are responsible.
Speaking in parliament on Monday, Foreign Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma said the issues in Zimbabwe remained a challenge but reiterated that it was up to the people themselves to solve its problems. She said: "There is a problem, there is a challenge, but I do not have all the answers about how to solve Zimbabwe. I think equally none of us has all the answers. The answers do lie in the Zimbabweans' hands." This was the first time a high-ranking South African official had admitted this. But the foreign minister refused to commit to any action such as targeted sanctions saying those imposed by the EU had failed.
Then on Tuesday South Africa’s Deputy President Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka was reported to have said the country can do little to shield itself from an eventual collapse of Zimbabwe's devastated economy but would step in quickly to help recovery. This has been viewed as an admission that Zimbabwe is indeed headed for collapse. According to The Cape Argus newspaper, Mlambo-Ngcuka also said "I don't even know if we can shield ourselves in that way because we cannot really close our border for instance." This was a reference to the estimated 3 million Zimbabweans who have already fled to South Africa. The majority of them are living there illegally.
These comments by the foreign minister and the deputy president come just days after South Africa’s president Thabo Mbeki had told another newspaper that UN secretary general Kofi Annan had devised a plan to resolve the Zimbabwe crisis and had agreed to visit the country. He suggested that it would be wise to await the outcome of Annan’s initiative before pursuing other avenues. Observers have said all of this activity suggests a solution for Zimbabwe has become a priority for South Africa.
May 31 2006 at 01:38AM
Harare - Zimbabwe's central bank has secured and signed a pact with a European bank for a $50-million revolving fund to import fuel to ease shortages gripping the southern African state, the bank chief said on Tuesday.
Zimbabwe is struggling with a severe economic crisis which many critics blame on President Robert Mugabe's government and which has led to chronic shortages of food and foreign currency to import essential commodities, including drugs and fuel.
Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe governor Gideon Gono said on state-run television he had on Tuesday signed a one-year deal with French bank BNP Paribas and a South African financial institution, Loita Capital Partners, for a $50-million revolving fund to buy fuel.
The loan deal had been "secured and leveraged" with mineral exports from Zimbabwe's largest nickel producer Bindura Nickel Corporation and also been underwritten by two private Zimbabwean commercial banks, he said.
"The facility is for the importation of fuel by NOCZIM (state National Oil Company of Zimbabwe) and is initially for a period of 12 months but on a revolving basis," he said, adding that the deal had taken a year to secure.
Gono did not say whether the deal was linked to an agreement that the West African petroleum producer Equatorial Guinea signed last week to supply oil to Zimbabwe.
The Zimbabwean central bank governor and his officials were not available for immediate comment.
In his comments on Zimbabwe televesion, Gono said the $50-million revolving fund he had secured was not enough to meet Zimbabwe's fuel requirements but that Harare would try to forward sell some of its minerals to access foreign loans.
Industry officials say Zimbabwe needs to secure about $120-million worth of fuel a month to comfortably meet its requirements and to start building crucial strategic reserves.
"In the context of the National Economic Development Priority Programme we must try to leverage exports to allow Zimbabwe to access international finance," he said.
Many international donors, including the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, have cut aid to Zimbabwe over Mugabe's controversial political and economic policies, especially his seizures of white-owned farms for redistribution to blacks.
The policies have left Mugabe - 82, and Zimbabwe's sole ruler since independence from Britain in 1980 - largely isolated and counting Equatorial Guinea among some of his few friendly countries.
Receiving oil from Equatorial Guinea, sub-Saharan Africa's third-largest oil producer, would be a welcome boost for Zimbabwe's struggle against the economic meltdown and diplomatic isolation.
Equatorial Guinea President Teodoro Obiang Nguema visited Zimbabwe in March, consolidating ties forged two years ago after Harare helped break up a suspected international coup plot against his government.
Mugabe and Obiang share the distinction of being labelled by Western critics as two of Africa's most repressive leaders.
31 May 2006 17:27:08 GMT
Printable view | Email this article | RSS [-] Text [+]
LUSAKA, 31 May (IRIN) - //This is the first in a three-part series on the impact of the Zimbabwean meltdown on its neighbours. The series kicks off with a report on the influence of the Zimbabwean implosion on Zambia. On Thursday 1 June, IRIN will look at Mozambique, followed by the impact of the Zimbabwean crisis on South Africa and Botswana on Friday 2 June.//
Frustrated by more than five years of faltering economic growth, Zimbabwean skills and investors have sought other markets in the region. The gamble by migrant Zimbabweans to start afresh in neighbouring countries has paid off for some, but been less profitable for others.
The relationship between migrant Zimbabweans and their neighbour to the northwest, Zambia, has generally been mutually beneficial. According to the state-run Zambia Investment Centre (ZIC), Zimbabweans have made business commitments worth more than US$73 million since 2002, creating almost 10,000 jobs.
The World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, two of the world's leading multilateral lending institutions, estimate that harsh economic conditions may have forced a quarter of Zimbabwe's 12 million people to seek survival elsewhere.
Zimbabwe has suffered acute shortages of food, fuel and foreign currency since its fast-track land reform programme began in 2000; housing, education and transport costs have jumped and, according to the IMF, the country has the highest inflation rate in the world.
Tony Hawkins, a professor at the Graduate School of Management of the University of Zimbabwe, said recently that until 2002, Zimbabwe was the second largest economy after South Africa in the 14-member Southern African Development Community; now only Malawi and tiny Swaziland and Lesotho are worse off.
Zimbabwean street traders, farmers, investors and professionals have settled in Zambia: Peter Moyo, 28, earns a living selling fruit juices, peanut butter, biscuits and chocolates on the busy streets of Zambia's capital, Lusaka.
"Out here life is a lot easier", he remarked. "By bringing in cheap products from Zimbabwe without paying tax, I make enough money to buy many things I need back home." Low costs make it possible for him and other Zimbabwean street vendors to sell their goods at half the price charged by Zambian stores.
Moyo and a host of other small traders have infiltrated Lusaka, earning up to US$20 a day, or about $600 a month. They only have to take care of their daily expenses, such as food and accommodation, but a room in Lusaka's high-density townships can be had for $3 per night. With a good turnover, they return to Zimbabwe as often as every two weeks for more stock.
President Levy Mwanawasa's government has also kept its doors open to investors from across the Zambezi. Between January 2002 and April this year, the ZIC issued 78 investment licenses to Zimbabweans in various sectors. Of these, over 50 were in the agricultural sector, covering machinery supply, horticulture and the production of tobacco, maize and wheat. Others have invested in manufacturing, construction, health, services, tourism and transport.
"Most Zimbabwean investors came between 2003 and 2004, when we recorded 30 and 19 investment projects, respectively. So far, we have not had any revocations of investment certificates held by Zimbabwean investors over this period, an indicator that they are satisfactorily implementing their projects," said ZIC's acting director of marketing and investment promotion, Sharon Sichilongo. "Since 2002, Zimbabweans have made investment commitments worth $73,491,141 and their 78 projects have created 9,771 jobs for the local people."
Zambia has proved to be an attractive investment destination to Zimbabweans because of the government's emphasis on private-sector participation in the economy, and the removal of subsidies and price controls, explained Sichilongo.
Abolishing foreign exchange controls and the policy of allowing repatriation of profits have been further incentives, while a steady decline in inflation and a stable gross domestic product growth rate over the last few years have created a favourable foreign investment climate and made Zambia a regional competitor. In April, single-digit inflation of 9.4 percent was achieved for the first time in over three decades, according to the Central Statistical Office.
Although the Investment Centre has registered only 50 Zimbabwean agriculture investors, many of them are white commercial farmers.
Songowayo Zyambo, executive director of the Zambia National Farmers' Union, said more than 120 former Zimbabwean commercial farmers were members of the organisation. "They are contributing greatly to Zambia's improved agricultural production by cultivating huge hectares of the land that was just lying idle in the past."
Zambia has been recording bumper harvests since 2002, except for the 2004/05 farming season when rainfall was erratic. The arrival of foreign farmers has boosted production in the Mkushi district in central Zambia.
"These Zimbabwean white farmers have employed a lot of local workers - some have over 400 workers, which is why we are seeing an influx of people from other parts of the country coming to seek employment here. Our standards of living have tremendously improved ever since they settled here," said district commissioner Sydney Chileshe.
The Zimbabwean meltdown has had a disastrous effect on tourism at its prime destination, the Victoria Falls. Zambia, which shares the Falls, has run an aggressive marketing campaign to attract tourists not only to view the 'Smoke that Thunders' but also to sell other lesser-known spots.
Erol Hickey, chairperson of the Zambia National Tourism Board and patron of the 'Visit Zambia Campaign', commented, "The private sector has really benefited so much from the Zimbabwean situation. Although we cannot put figures to it just now ... most tourists are coming in through Livingstone [in Zambia] and it is true that the profits for all tourism operators have doubled since the year 2003."
Hickey said the recent appreciation of the kwacha against major foreign currencies had affected the success of the sector this year, but Zambia was still gaining in popularity, even in non-English speaking countries.
Though it is open to debate, many analysts say the country owes its steady economic improvement to the confusion in neighbouring Zimbabwe, which has made Zambia a favourite destination in the region.
Hyperinflation currently stands at more than 1000%
Zimbabwe is introducing a bank note worth 100,000 Zimbabwe dollars, to help consumers as inflation exceeds 1,000%.
The note will be worth about $1 at the official exchange rate, but only $0.30 on the informal market.
The 50,000 Zimbabwe dollar bill, introduced only four months ago, is not enough to buy a loaf of bread.
The government on Tuesday used its mineral exports to gain access to a $50m loan from a European bank, to pay for essential fuel and drugs.
"It is not the first and last time to see us introducing bearer cheques and we will not hesitate to introduce higher denominations," Reserve Bank governor Gideon Gono said, according to the state-run Herald newspaper.
The bills are known as bearer cheques since they are promissory notes rather than official legal tender, but are used in Zimbabwe in the same way as money.
Bundles of money
The issuing of bearer cheques began with a note worth 10,000 Zimbabwe dollars, to reduce the need to carry large bundles of paper money.
The government has announced a National Economic Development Priority Programme (NEDPP) in order to deal with the economic problems.
Zimbabwe is suffering from shortages of food, fuel and foreign currency. In April, inflation passed 1,000% per annum for the first time.
President Robert Mugabe blames domestic and foreign enemies for the problems, while his critics point to the collapse of agricultural exports following a controversial land reform programme.
The country is struggling to pay civil servants and is thought to owe money to neighbours such as South Africa and Mozambique from whom it has been importing electricity and fuel.
EMBARGOED FOR TRANSMISSION UNTIL 00.01 HRS GMT, 31 MAY 2006.
These images are available for download under the following terms and conditions -
© Digital Globe, Inc. (2006)
© Digital Globe, Inc. (2006)
Satellite image of Porta Farm, Zimbabwe, 22 June 2002
Satellite image of Porta Farm, Zimbabwe, 6 April 2006
May 31 2006 at 04:34AM
By Jeremy Lovell
London - The human rights group Amnesty International released satellite images on Wednesday showing the obliteration of a large community during last year's settlement clearances in Zimbabwe that made 700 000 people homeless.
The particularly graphic "before" and "after" shots show the destruction of the Porta Farm settlement west of Harare that was until last year home to up to 10 000 people.
Where once stood 850 structures, including homes and schools, is now empty scrub land with only the outlines of the former streets to hint at what used to be there.
"These images are a graphic indictment of the Zimbabwean government's policies. They show the horrifying transition of an area from a vibrant community to rubble and shrubs," Amnesty Africa director Kolawole Olaniyan said.
The pictures from Digital Globe were acquired, processed and analysed by the American Association for the Advancement of Science with funding from the John D and Catherine T MacArthur Foundation, and given to Amnesty. The Zimbabwean government said it launched Operation Murambatsvina (Restore Order) in May last year to remove illegal settlements that had mushroomed around Harare.
It was widely condemned as brutal and inhumane, and critics accused President Robert Mugabe's Zanu-PF government of using it as an excuse to victimise urban opposition strongholds.
Amnesty, noting that government supporters also lost homes, said the clearances and forced dispersal of the inhabitants back to rural villages was at the behest of the security services who feared the settlements were set to explode.
Inflation in the former breadbasket of Africa is now running officially at 1 040 percent - but unofficially at 1 800 percent - and 90 percent of the population are below the poverty line.
So catastrophic are conditions in the former British colony of Rhodesia that average life expectancy is now just 34 years compared with 55 when it won independence in 1980.
The irony of Porta Farm is that it was established by the government in 1991 as a temporary home for thousands of squatters whose shacks had been demolished in Harare in clean-up exercises ahead of a Commonwealth summit hosted by Zimbabwe.
Although their stay at Porta was meant to be temporary, the settlement expanded over the years as rising poverty in the capital Harare drove people to the settlement where they eked out a living from fishing and working on neighbouring farms.
Porta farm residents clashed with police while resisting eviction from the settlement in 2004. Police however denied a report by Amnesty that some 10 people died as a result of teargas fired during the clashes.
May 31, 2006
South Africa can do little to shield itself from an eventual collapse of Zimbabwe's devastated economy but would step in quickly to help its neighbour recover, Deputy President Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka has said.
An economic meltdown in Zimbabwe would have a wide effect throughout southern Africa, she said in an interview yesterday.
Asked if Pretoria was taking any measures to protect itself from a possible collapse, she said: "I don't even know if we can shield ourselves in that way because we cannot really close our border for instance."
But she added: "What South Africa can do is to give Zimbabwe the best support possible to be able to reconstruct if something like that were to happen."
She emphasised that she had no information on how critical Zimbabwe's economic situation was.
Analysts say about 3 million of Zimbabwe's 12m population have already fled to South Africa, many of them illegally.
Last week President Thabo Mbeki spoke of a UN effort to help end Zimbabwe's crisis.
Mbeki told a news conference that the world should await the outcome of UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan's diplomacy instead of prescribing solutions for Zimbabwe.
But both Harare and UN officials played down suggestions of UN intervention. - Reuters
The Chronicle of Higher Education http://chronicle.com/daily/2006/05/2006053104n.htm
Dozens of university students in Zimbabwe have been arrested -- and a number of them tortured -- in recent weeks, following a spate of protests on campuses across the country over tuition increases of as much as 1,000 percent introduced earlier this year, according to student groups and human rights lawyers.
Zimbabwean police reportedly have been hunting for student leaders and keeping close watch over universities across the country, after angry students burned down the computer laboratory at the Bindura University of Science Education during a riot on May 10. One of those being sought, Promise Mkwananzi, said on Tuesday that he planned to surrender on Wednesday to the police in Bindura.
BULAWAYO - Commuters woke up to a hefty 50% increase in public transport fares this week as the cost of living spirals out of control.
A single trip from Bulawayo city centre to the nearest low-income residential suburb now costs Z$80 000, up from the previous $50 000.
The chairman of the Bulawayo Public Transport Association (BPTA), Strike Ndlovu said the latest increase was due to the difficult economic environment they were operating under.
"I will not comment much on this issue but transport operators are also feeling the economic pinch. They also have to survive, why are other business entities not stopped from effecting price and fare hikes in this tough economic climate?" Ndlovu said.
Public transporters in the capital Harare and other cities were also expected to hike fares within the week.
But the police, who in the past have arrested public transport operators for hiking fares, immediately threatened to descend on the operators saying they should increase fares only after first seeking approval from the government.
"Fare increases can only be effected when they have been gazetted by the government and commuter omnibus operators who over charge will be dealt with," said Bulawayo police spokesman Andrew Phiri.
In a sign of more trouble to come for Zimbabwe, a leading regional financial services firm, Imara Asset Management, last Thursday said data collated from Zimbabwe's key industrial sector indicated a sharp rise in inputs costs which could see annual inflation jumping to 2 000 percent.
The Botswana-based Imara was in mid-April able to predict that Zimbabwe's inflation would breach the 1,000 percent barrier. The figure was confirmed when the Central Statistical Office announced at the end of last month that annual inflation had surged to 1,042.9 percent up from 913.6 percent in March. - ZimOnline
Spiralling price rises mean textbook arithmetic doesn't work, while schoolteachers make their own calculations about how to survive.
BY SIBONGILE MATHUTHU
BULAWAYO - Zimbabwe's skyrocketing inflation, with annual rates of over 1,000 per cent making it the world’s highest, is having a damaging impact on the education system as well as on other sectors.
For eight-year-old Chipo Gumbo, the inflation factor makes the task of grasping basic mathematical concepts a nightmare. "In my maths books, a boy called Tendai buys sweets with cents. I don't know what cents are. When I buy sweets and chips from my teacher at break time, I use bearer's cheques," explained Chipo.
"Bearer's cheques" are a type of paper money which the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe introduced when the country ran out of banknotes. The cheques, denominated in thousands of Zimbabwean dollars, Z$, but worth only a few US cents each, are printed on plain paper with no security features. They also expire after a given period.
In the textbook, Tendai is happy with the 50 Zimbabwe cents he gets as pocket money from his parents. He can spend it on sweets, a packet of crisps and an ice lolly and still have some change left over. But real-life pupils like Chipo need a lot more money to buy much less. On average, primary school children now get Z$50,000 as weekly pocket money - but despite all the zeros, the sum is worth about 50 US cents, enough to buy a handful of sweets, and no ice cream.
Teachers say the huge gap between reality and textbook economics is making learning much harder.
"There's no link whatsoever between what we want them to learn and what's happening around them, so children are confused and that makes the whole learning process a struggle," said a primary school teacher. But many teachers no longer have the energy to address these issues, because their enthusiasm has also been undermined by the effects of inflation. To supplement starvation wages, they use teaching time to sell sweets, pencils and snacks to pupils.
Although educational standards are suffering as a result of the erosion in salaries, school fees have now been increased to keep up with inflation. From May, parents with children at state primary schools in urban will have to fork out at least Z$2.5 million (25 US dollars) for one term's tuition fees and other school levies, ten times the amount they paid last term. Secondary schools are now charging Z$10 million a term.
For the majority of parents, who earn less than 10 million Z$ a month, the higher charges will be beyond their means. Although pupils at rural schools pay lower fees than those in the towns, their parents earn less as well. Fatima Sibanda from Mahole village near Insiza, east of Bulawayo, worries that the hike in fees will force many children, especially girls, to drop out of school.
"Who can afford to pay such amounts of money?" asked Sibanda. "I have to feed and clothe my children, and prices keep going up. Many children will stop going to school. Girls will get married, or look for men and get AIDS. Our sons will become criminals and die in jail."
Organisations working to safeguard children's rights predict that more and more children will drop out of school and, in a country where the unemployment rate is now more than 80 per cent, they will resort to begging, prostitution or child labour to survive.
"Inasmuch as people struggle to send their children to school even in these difficult circumstances, we have come to a point where people just want to give up," said Leonard Nkala, former president of the Zimbabwe Teachers Association. Even though the higher fees are unaffordable for many, they do not cover the real cost of buying the most essential textbooks for each pupil. Those parents who remain determined to ensure their children get a basic education are finding ways to keep them at school until they complete their "Ordinary Level" examinations at the age of 16.
But every year thousands of pupils fail to get their O-level certificate when their parents are unable to find the money for examination fees. Even those who do sit the exams in the mandatory five O-level subjects have recently had nothing to show for their efforts, because the Zimbabwe Schools Examination Council, ZIMSEC, has been unable to print certificates because there is not enough foreign currency to buy paper and ink for them. As of May this year, students who did their O-level and Advanced level examinations in November 2004 had yet to receive their certificates. They complain that the delays are disrupting their career plans, since it is hard and often impossible to get a job or start a higher education course unless you have a certificate. - IWPR
BY LITANY BIRD
Dear Family and Friends,
They say that there is no smoke without fire and if that is true then there is a big bonfire burning somewhere very close to home this week. It has been a very confusing few days in Zimbabwe with a number of different media reports about diplomatic manoeuverings that are going on to help us.
First we heard that UN Secretary General Kofi Annan was putting together a plan to rescue Zimbabwe from its political and economic crisis. Then, insinuating that something was already well underway by Annan, South African President Thabo Mbeki said "We are all awaiting the outcome of his intervention".
Then came reports on South African television that Kofi Annan was going to visit Zimbabwe and that international aid would be given in exchange for President Mugabe's retirement. Those reports on SABC TV even went as far as to say that President Mugabe would be given immunity from prosecution for human rights abuses. As the days passed the reports seemed to become more speculative than factual and the atmosphere got smokier.
Things got confusing when Zimbabwe's state-owned TV announced that both Zanu (PF) and the MDC would accept Annan as a mediator. Whew, I must have missed something, where did the question of mediation come from all of a sudden? A few days later the mediation theme popped up again but this time it wasn't Annan's name being fronted but that of former Tanzanian president Benjamin Mkapa.
Just as things had started getting interesting someone must have poured a bucket of water on the fire. The smoke got thicker than ever and from all sides came denials, back tracking and classic claims of "I Am Not The One."
Ibrahim Gambari, the UN under secretary-general for political affairs said : "I think it is premature to talk about any package, and certainly even more premature to talk about that package including the possible departure of President Mugabe."
Zimbabwe then said that the invitation extended to Kofi Annan to visit the country was no longer valid or applicable. Full stop. End of manoeuverings? Who knows, as they say there's no smoke without fire. In the midst of a confusing week, and to make everything seem even more delusional, there was another earthquake.
Most of us can't ever remember earthquakes in Zimbabwe or at least not for the last 30 years but now all of a sudden we've had two series of quakes and aftershocks in the past three months. At around midnight on Sunday two earthquakes measuring 3.9 and 4.0 on the Richter scale shook eastern parts of Zimbabwe. This time the epicentre of the quakes was much closer to home and near the Nyamudzi River in Wedza. Some people are saying that all these earthquakes are a sign that God is coming.
Others are saying that they are a sign from God. So from the country of smoke signals and shaking beds and mysterious signs, until next week, Ndini shamwari yenyu.
Ever since the Zimbabwean economy collapsed, the Mugabe regime has been misleading the nation, other SADC leaders, and indeed the world to believe that the problem stems from "international sanctions" imposed by Britain, her European Union partners and the United States. This is a lie.
The fact of the matter is that no country in the world has imposed economic sanctions against Zimbabwe. Our problems are home-made, by Mugabe and Zanu (PF).
The only trade embargo is military - whereby the army and airforce cannot buy weapons of war from these countries. Which is just as well because we know from bitter experience that the government would not hesitate to use them against its own people. They would be used for repression - not for defence or aggression - hence the arms embargo.
Nobody in the region wants to fight against Zimbabwe. Mugabe is the only aggressor. Not content with sending his troops into Matabeleland in the 1980s, he has caused mayhem in Mozambique and the Zimbabwean army, backed by the airforce, marched into the DRC years ago.
The looting of diamonds and other precious resources that took place under cover of this armed aggression, purportedly to prop up a fellow African dictator, continues to this very day.
The government is even embarrassed to tell us how many Zimbabweans were killed during the DRC war, and are now buried somewhere in the jungles there.
More than 200 British companies have investments in Zimbabwe and they continue to do businesses in the mining, banking, financial services, construction, manufacturing and agro industries - without any hindrance from "economic sanctions".
Zimbabwean firms can buy anything they require from Britain, the EU or the USA - provided they can find the foreign currency of course. In fact, despite Mugabe's much-touted Look East policy, Britain and the EU remain our latest trading partners.
They are also the largest donors - both to government and the NGO community - and have been ever since independence. Many Zimbabweans are alive today only thanks to the generosity of these countries.
The only sanctions that have ever existed against the Mugabe government are targeted, personal travel and financial restrictions against Mugabe himself, his wife and his cronies. All this means is that they cannot travel to he countries concerned, nor access their ill-gotten gains stashed away in foreign bank accounts located in those countries.
The president can no longer purchase his hand-tailored suits at Saville Row and the First Lady can no longer indulge her passion for shopping at Harrods. That's all these "sanctions" mean.
For Mugabe to continue to pontificate that the Zimbabwean economy is in trouble because of these sanctions is patently ridiculous.
http://travel.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,18409-2195427_2,00.html February 2001 saw myself and a friend arrive in Harare, Zimbabwe en-route to Malawi. This was just before the delightful 'elections' when the economy was collapsing at a rapid pace. As a result, our Sterling currency was laughed out of the 'banks' and onto the black market for some adrenalin money changing! The only accepted currency was US$, so we could not even get a flight out with credit cards. The only way out of the country was by local bus through Mozambique - a very colourful and sensory experience. The bus caught fire half way through Mozambique and we were told to sleep under the tree and hopefully another bus would come tomorrow! As word got out about two white stranded women, the village boys arrived to 'price us up'. Flagged down a grain truck and begged a ride to Malawi. As truck hobbled across border to no-mans land, it promptly broke down. Slept inside truck with driver and mosquitoes for safety, and eventually walked across Malawi border the next morning. Made way for a much needed rest and swim in Lake Malawi whilst our belongings were being stolen by a local worker at the resort. Local police easily apprehended him as he was the only indiginous person in the village drinking imported beer. Relieved to see our passports again, but no money, we were then told we would have to bribe the police to actually get them back! After much shouting and threats of imprisonment, we managed to borrow some money to get passports back, change flights and fly gratefully back to Blighty - Debbie Wapshott, St Albans, Herts