Chaos has erupted at a meeting called by Zimbabwe's Reserve Bank
governor at Gallagher Estate in Midrand, north of Johannesburg. Opposition
supporters shouted Governor Gideon Gono down and pelted the stage with
Movement for Democratic Change supporters rushed the stage as
Gono started to speak, waving placards and shouting: "Go home, go home."
Police reinforcements were brought in and the situation was brought under
Gono was to address a meeting of Zimbabweans living in South
Africa to explain a new plan for expatriates to send home much-needed
foreign currency. - Sapa
An illegal network
has channelled hundreds of members of Zimbabwe's ruling Zanu PF party into
Britain, a BBC investigation has found. Birmingham-based Zimbabwean
Community UK is thought to have given fake documents to party members and
coached them on how to falsely claim asylum.
for Radio 5 Live were sold a Home Office letter granting asylum and a
national insurance number.
The Home Office has said it will be
investigating the BBC's evidence.
Zimbabwean Community UK was
created last year with an initial £5,000 grant of lottery money.
Its director Albert Matapo claimed to have smuggled in the adult children of
several members of Zimbabwe's cabinet by saying they were members of the
opposition MDC party.
The organisation's ledger book showed Mr
Matapo had processed more than 1,000 clients.
The news comes amid evidence that increasing numbers of
prominent Zanu PF members are coming to Britain to escape the deteriorating
situation in their homeland.
Members of President Robert
Mugabe's government and senior members of Zanu PF are banned from entering
the European Union
Three months ago, the bankers responsible for
the Zanu PF's finances relocated to this country, the investigation
Zimbabwe is grappling with an economy in tatters and severe
food shortages, which led to fears of famine in 2003.
agencies and critics partly blamed the shortages on a controversial land
reform programme; the government blamed a long-running drought.
Zimbabwe was suspended from the Commonwealth after President Robert Mugabe's
re-election in 2002, in a poll considered seriously flawed by the opposition
and foreign observers.
In March this year, the US State Department
released its annual human-rights report which condemned Zimbabwe for using
"torture by various methods" against those politically opposed to Mugabe's
A Zimbabwean protest group has
signalled defiance with a logo appearing on everything from condoms to
Andrew Meldrum Sunday June 20, 2004 The
A clever and daring under-ground movement has sprung up in
Zimbabwe that is stoking public opinion against Robert Mugabe's
government. Zvakwana - which means 'enough' in the Shona language - has
launched a bold campaign expressed through graffiti, emails and condoms to
encourage the Zimbabwean people to rise up.
The clandestine campaign
is building up steam just as the progress of Zimbabwe's opposition party, the
Movement for Democratic Change, has stalled under the burden of torture of
its leaders and state violence against its supporters.
A black Z on a
bright yellow handprint is appearing mysteriously on the walls of bus
stations, on busy streets and over billboards across Harare and other cities.
Thousands of 'revolutionary condoms' have been distributed, emblazoned with
the letter Z and the double-entendre message 'Get up!
Matchboxes stuffed with resistance messages are left in
public places to be picked up by unsuspecting citizens. Thousands of
Zimbabweans are led to the Zvakwana website.
Zvakwana has compiled a
CD of resistance songs featuring Bob Marley, Hugh Masekela, Thomas Mapfumo
and many Zimbabwean musicians, which it has managed to distribute across
Zimbabwe. The messages are often humorous, but the Mugabe government is
taking Zvakwana seriously. Now a team of senior investigators from the Law
and Order section, notorious for torturing scores of opposition politicians
and civic leaders, has been assigned to track down the activists. The unit
has in the past few weeks raided the offices of the MDC and other civic
groups and has arrested and interrogated opposition politicians, civic
leaders, journalists and musicians.
'We are not linked to Zvakwana,' said
MDC spokesman Paul Themba Nyathi. 'But to the extent that the group fights
for political change, democracy and human rights, we share the same values
and we support its efforts. Police have raided our offices hunting for
Zvakwana because they believe any group that advocates change and democracy
is linked to the MDC.'
A police spokesman said: 'These people have been
spreading material and literature aimed at inciting members of the public to
lawlessness.' Zimbabweans report irate police making house-to-house searches
for tell-tale yellow paint or piles of matchboxes. 'They kept asking me, "Who
is Zvakwana? Who is Zvakwana?"' said one Harare resident who was arrested and
Speaking to The Observer through the anonymity of the
internet, Zvakwana responded: 'It is no surprise that they are hunting for
us. This is because we are living under a dictatorship. If we were living
under a democracy, then the government in power would allow voices of
dissent. It is clear that Zanu-PF wants to suffocate any glimmer of hope or
resistance. Hope is considered most dangerous by tyrannies.'
plenty to protest about. Inflation has hovered at 600 per cent for most of
the year; unemployment is at 70 per cent. Last week, the government closed
the Tribune newspaper, the third to be shut down in less than a year. The
Zvakwana spokesman said: 'The current situation in Zimbabwe is bringing up
the right conditions for revolution.'
Zvakwana carried out one of its
trademark 'non-violent civic actions' in Harare just before Zimbabwe's
Independence Day events on 18 April. Activists spray-painted lampposts and
the large pipes next to the main Tongogara Avenue, used by Mugabe's
27-vehicle motorcade when he travels to the National Sports Stadium, and 'Get
UP Stand UP' appeared on stadium turnstiles and walls. 'There was so much
graffiti,' crows the group, 'the regime couldn't repaint it before Mugabe's
trip, so he had to take a different route.'
The group also claims to
distribute videotapes of a BBC documentary exposing the government's militia
camps, where youths are trained in torture techniques to be used against
Zvakwana's main methods of communication have been
the internet and email. It sends out regular newsletters about events in
Zimbabwe. In addition to encouraging anti-government slogans, its website
offers 'activist tips', such as: 'Organise yourself in pairs. Keep an eye out
for your partner at all times. Make sure that you know their personal details
and who to contact in the event that they are hurt or arrested.' It also
advises on how to cope with tear gas: 'Stay calm and focused ... When your
body heats up (from running or panicking, for example), irritation may
Its success in using the anonymity of the internet to spread
its message has made its website one of the most popular in Zimbabwe. The
government's frustration with Zvakwana has resulted in draconian action to
force all internet service providers to censor all email
'We are encouraging Zimbabweans to make that shift from
lives drenched in fear to a future where we can all live more positively and
with dignity,' said the group. 'Zvakwana is asking Zimbabweans to stop
waiting, and to Get Up!'
BENONI, South Africa -
Daan Duvenage shook his head as he gazed over the wood-and-tin shacks where
40,000 squatters have established homes on a 140-acre swath of his
farm. "I can't go in there," he said of the warren of homes, streets and
shops where he once grew hay for his cattle. "Too dangerous for me. They know
who I am." Mr. Duvenage, a white farmer, still holds legal title to
the land but has been unable to get the government of President Thabo Mbeki
to remove the squatters. The Witwatersrand High Court ordered the
removal of 6,000 squatters in April 2001, but the order was never enforced,
and financially strapped local authorities want Mr. Duvenage personally to
pay the estimated $262,000 cost of housing them elsewhere. The
Pretoria High Court again sided with Mr. Duvenage last month, but it remains
to be seen whether anything will happen. The farmer said he doesn't mind
seeing white-owned land redistributed to poor blacks as long as it is done
legally and equitably. And he understands the government's concerns about
setting a precedent that will encourage more illegal land grabs. But
he also argues that the government must respect and enforce property rights
or risk scaring off foreign investment in a nation where black unemployment
is estimated to run as high as 50 percent. The shantytown on his land is
surprisingly well-kept, with wide dirt avenues, flower gardens and
immaculately groomed lawns. Each shack is numbered to receive mail.
The government delivers water daily and set up voting stations during last
month's national elections, in which the camp voted about 90 percent for the
ruling African National Congress. One squatter, who refused to give his
name, said he wished the government would act more aggressively to
expropriate white-owned farms as has been done in neighboring
Zimbabwe. But Mr. Duvenage said he doesn't think it will. "I don't think
they are as stupid as [Zimbabwe President Robert] Mugabe," he said.
Other white South Africans fear he is wrong. Mr. Mugabe, who came to
power with the end of white rule in the former Rhodesia in 1980, initially
promised that blacks and whites would live harmoniously in a "rainbow nation"
and, in fact, respected white rights for two decades. But facing
likely electoral defeat in 2002, he permitted his armed followers to seize
white-owned farms, causing numerous deaths and a plunge in agricultural
production that has left the country unable to feed itself. White South
Africans talk constantly about their fears that the same could happen
here. Making progress Ten years after apartheid, the black-led
government has made remarkable strides. It has built 1.6 million new houses
for the poor. Eighty percent of South Africans now have electricity, and 30
million of them now have access to clean tap water - up from 21 million a
decade ago. But there are also huge challenges, including massive
unemployment and HIV, the AIDS virus, which infects nearly 5 million
people. The ANC, which had long enjoyed communist backing, came to power
after the end of the Cold War and so wisely adopted capitalism as its
economic model. It has reached out to the international business
community and eked out an average 2.5 percent economic growth rate. But that
is far below the 6 percent growth rate needed to keep pace with growth in the
working-age population. There is a growing black middle class who buy
luxury automobiles, send their children to private schools and shop in fancy
malls. But most blacks, who make up 70 percent of the population, still live
in poverty. "The [gross domestic product] per capita is actually going
down, and unemployment is going up. Unemployment is now around 35 [percent]
to 40 percent," said Marian Tupy, a South African economist at Washington's
Cato Institute. Eliminating poverty The ANC consequently
campaigned last month on a promise to eliminate poverty and create jobs,
leaving some white South Africans to worry that the promise may be fulfilled
at their expense. Those fears were exacerbated by the reception given the
Zimbabwean president when he arrived in Pretoria for Mr. Mbeki's April 27
inauguration. Mr. Mugabe received a thunderous ovation from the
overwhelmingly black crowd, only slightly less raucous than for Mr. Mbeki or
his predecessor, Nelson Mandela. That reception, along with Mr.
Mbeke's refusal to publicly condemn the land seizures in Zimbabwe, were taken
by many white South Africans as a tacit endorsement of Mr. Mugabe's
race-baiting policies. Mr. Mbeki's government says it is simply pursuing
what it calls "quiet diplomacy" with a former comrade-in-arms. "We
will not stand on the rooftops and mountaintops and issue invectives against
the government of Zimbabwe," government spokesman Joel Netshitenzhe said in
an interview. "President Mbeki has said many, many times that we don't
encourage illegal actions. We encourage dialogue. Both sides need to
meet." 'Reverse apartheid' One of the toughest indictments of Mr.
Mbeke's policies comes from Pretoria lawyer Philip Du Toit, who recently
self-published "The Great South African Land Scandal" - a 271-page catalogue
of land invasions, murders and other crimes in rural South Africa.
Accusing the government of "reverse apartheid," Mr. Du Toit says its policies
scare off foreign investment and mark the beginning of the end of South
African democracy. "Botswana, where I grew up, is successful because they
respect the right to the title to the land. They support entrepreneurs and
welcome development. And there is legislation to protect employers," he said
during an interview in his Pretoria office. "In South Africa, that
does not exist anymore. South Africa is on the track to becoming a Zimbabwe.
I'm trying to stop the train. All we want is for South Africa to come to its
senses." Mr. Netshitenzhe described the book as "based on fiction and
prejudice, not on fact" - a view that is shared by Farmer's Weekly, the
nation's leading farm magazine with a hefty white Afrikaans subscription
base. The book "is not good investigative journalism," said Chris
Burgess, the white editor of Farmer's Weekly. "It is one-dimensional,"
"The farmers in South Africa are facing very serious problems - crime, the
land-redistribution program - which we cover extensively in our magazine,"
Mr. Burgess said. "But we are at a crucial moment in South African
history, just 10 years after democracy, trying to rectify some of the
inequities of the past. How do we resolve those issues? Du Toit is the wrong
man at the wrong time to write this book. It is inflammatory. The book is not
helpful." Farmland lost Still, several of the book's basic points
cannot be denied. White farmers are suffering from an enormous amount of
rural crime, and the government's land-redistribution program - which turns
productive farmland over to black cooperatives, often people with no farming
background - has resulted in the loss of good farmland and of jobs. "I
think the book has the ring of truth on at least one of his key points," said
John Kane-Berman, chief executive of the South African Institute of Race
Relations in Johannesburg. "A lot of black people have been resettled on
previously white-owned farms and have not been able to make a go and [the
farms] are now vast rural shanty towns that are no longer producing" either
food or jobs. The Agricultural Employers Organization (AEO), which
represents farmers in labor disputes, estimates that 500,000 jobs have been
lost since 1993, mostly by unskilled black farm laborers. "The
unskilled farmworkers who were supposed to be lifted up are being hurt the
most," said Willie Vorster of AEO. "If the land issue is not handled
correctly, it will be Zimbabwe. The chances are very big." But Mike
Davies, South Africa analyst for the London-based Control Risks Group,
disagrees. "South Africa is not like Zimbabwe," he said. "There are a lot
of differences. South Africa has an independent judiciary, a
constitution. "Our position is that there are risks of investing in a
country like South Africa, but there is fundamental political stability and
that is likely to continue into the future. South Africa's economy is very
sound at the moment."
Land distribution There are three
parts to the land-redistribution program. The first is "land
restitution," in which blacks who were forcibly removed from their land under
apartheid can make a claim on the land, no matter who owns it today.
Second is "land redistribution," in which the government will
subsidize blacks seeking to purchase land from willing white owners. The
program's goal is 30 percent black ownership of commercial farmland.
Finally, there is a "land tenure" system, which states that if a
laborer lives and works on the land for a period of time, he cannot be
evicted unless the farmer provides alternative housing. At Montina
Farm near Mooketsi, in Limpopo, the nation's poorest region, Kaspaas Pohl and
his brothers operate a dozen tomato and citrus farms, employing 35 family
members and more than 2,000 black workers. One of his farms has land
claims against it - ironically, by two competing tribes, both of which claim
it as their ancestral land. Mr. Pohl says he'd be happy to sell, but the
government has no money. "How can I plan? How can I invest when I don't
know what will happen? I took the risk, buying and developing these farms,
and now I lay awake at night worrying about my family, my farms, our future,"
he said. Mr. Pohl has built a four-room elementary school for his
workers' children (the government provides the teachers), and provides farm
housing, with water and electricity, that would be considered substandard in
suburban Washington but is luxurious in most of the developing world.
Mr. Pohl is a warm and hospitable host - if one can stomach the incessant
racist commentary and jokes. 'They cannot farm' "Why do they want
the land if they cannot farm? Black people cannot farm. They can buy and
sell. They can fill a bakke (small pickup) with vegetables and sell them on
the side of the road. They do that very well. Afrikaans people can't do that.
We can farm. ... "If Mbeki were clever, he could feed the whole of Africa
if he wanted. We don't mind them governing the country, but leave us to
farm." From his helicopter, which he uses to move between farms, Mr.
Pohl buzzed several large tracts of land that had been bought by the
government and turned over to black cooperatives in the past three years.
Today, all are in weeds, bankrupt. "This was a big tomato farm. Now it
is [ruined]," he said as he hovered over ransacked housing and tattered
greenhouses, where drip-line irrigation hoses lay scattered in the
overgrowth. "This was a high-producing farm that was giving 600 people work.
Now they've lost their jobs." On the farm next door, owned and managed by
whites, fields filled with ripe tomatoes were being harvested by dozens of
black workers. Making a difference One man who is trying to make a
difference is Cois Harman, a white professor of native African languages who
began to mentor black farmers after losing his job under the nation's "black
economic empowerment" or affirmative-action laws. While he can rattle
off dozens of black farming successes, he was highly critical of the
land-distribution program. "Giving 200 people a farm that was farmed by
one white farmer is not a recipe for success," said Mr. Harman, who was
raised on a cattle farm. "The cooperatives haven't got the knowledge, and
they end up fighting each other." He said that farming in South Africa
is difficult - poor soil, little rain, summer hail - and fewer than 10
percent of black farmers he mentors make it. "But the same would be
true if you took white people out of Johannesburg or New York with no farming
experience," he said. Making a success One of the successful black
farmers is Simon Makhutle, a modest man with movie star good looks who could
not suppress his laughter at those who say black people can't farm.
"They haven't seen this," he said, as he drove past acre after acre
of sunflowers, sorghum and corn on his farm in Ga-Motlatla in
northwestern South Africa. "The white farmers in this area know we can do
it." Mr. Makhutle, who planted 500 acres this year, returned to
Ga-Motlatla to work with his father after getting his bachelor's degree in
political science and criminology at the University of Cape Town. "I
didn't come back by choice. I couldn't find a job in forensics, but now
sometimes I just love it. I love farming. I have no regrets," he said as he
watched a combine harvest a sunflower field for seeds that will be pressed
for oil. Like all farmers, he complained about the need for better access
to credit, cheaper gas and fertilizer prices. And as a farmer on
tribal-owned lands, he has no title, making it even harder to secure
financing because he has no collateral. "My only problem is
financing," he said. "Look around you. We can do the farming." Woes
next door As for Zimbabwe? "Zimbabwe's problem will have to be
resolved by the Zimbabwe people," he said. "In South Africa, some people have
land claims. Those who were forcefully removed can go back. It is being done
legally and lawfully. ... So far, we are satisfied with the way things are
going." Mr. Kane-Berman said that after 10 years of democracy, the
country is doing far better than most had predicted. "The constitution
is widely considered legitimate. The country is basically stable. Crime is a
problem, but the government management of public finance has been politically
courageous. It has brought down inflation. If you look around the shopping
centers, you see people of all races happily interacting together. "I
don't think the country has a problem with racial animosity. Race relations
are basically sound. So far, we have done astonishingly well. ... No, our
government, at the moment, is not in the business of orchestrating land
invasions," he said.
Zanu PF chef blasts Mugabe over food From Savious
CHIKOMBEDZI - Zanu PF Central Committee member, Titus
Mukhungulushi Chauke, has described recent claims by President Robert Mugabe
and government officials that Zimbabwe had enough food to last until the next
harvest as "irresponsible and utter rubbish".
The veteran politician
from the minority Shangaan tribe said such utterances by Zanu PF chiefs were
"illogical" as they chase away international food donor agencies, leaving
"This is utter rubbish. People, hundreds of
thousands of people in Chiredzi, Chivi, Mwenezi and some pockets in Zaka
districts are still buying food simply because they did not realise a bumper
harvest," said Chauke.
"It don't want to sound as if I am fighting my
leaders in the Press but that statement, from whoever said it, was
unfortunate as it suggests some gross irresponsibility as well as sounding
like politicking," said the outspoken politician.
Mugabe recently said
Zimbabwe does not need food aid and told international donor agencies to give
their food aid to more needy countries.
Chauke said although some
villagers in the perennially drought-stricken regions of Masvingo,
Matabeleland provinces had realised reasonable yields, the harvests were not
enough to last until the next season.
He said thousands of villagers in
Chiredzi South - particularly the elderly and children under the age of five
- still needed food aid.
A visit by The Standard to Chikombedzi, Mwenezi,
Lupane and some parts of Matabeleland North province revealed that thousands
of families were still in need of food assistance.
Only last month -
38 people including children under the age of five died in Bulawayo -
Zimbabwe's second largest city, due to food scarcity, according city council
Statistics also indicate that 65 people, among them children
under the age of five, died in Bulawayo between September and December 2003,
because of lack of food.
Early this year the World Food Programme
(WFP), a major food aid donor to Zimbabwe, was prohibited from conducting a
food assessment exercise by the government.
However, The Standard last
week met with CIO operatives travelling with the WFP personnel, who were
assessing the food situation in the Matabeleland North region.
emerged that the spy agents have forced themselves into the WFP
food assessment programme in an effort to censor information regarding the
real situation on the ground.
Harare degenerates into 'waste and rodent city' By our
HARARE, once touted as the "sunshine city," has degenerated
into a sub-standard urban centre infested by waste, flies and rodents, says
an internal city council report.
The 2003 annual report by the city's
health department made available to The Standard expresses grave concern
about the deteriorating state of affairs in the capital city which has been
without a substantive mayor for over a year.
Harare's first executive
Mayor Elias Mudzuri of the opposition MDC was fired by the government two
months after being on suspension since April 29, 2003. Since then, acting
mayor, Sekesai Makwavara, has run the affairs of the city.
prepared by Lovemore Mbengeranwa, the city's Director of Health Services,
paints a grim picture about the way Harare has deteriorated, virtually in all
aspects of health.
This ranges from waste management, pollution, pest
control and personal health services.
The council blames the sorry
state of Harare, which recorded a rise in malaria cases and pollution, to
lack of finance, material resources and rising inflation.
uncontrolled urban cultivation, pit and sand extraction and
the indiscriminate dumping of refuse in the city "led to severe infestations
of mosquitoes, rodents and flies" - carriers of communicable
To worsen matters, the city council does not have funds to buy
Alarming levels of atmospheric pollution were also recorded.
The report noted that the monthly average was 82.9ug/m3, which is above the
World Health Organisation guidelines of 50 ug/m3.
Among other worrying
problems, were the non-collection of refuse, non-attendance to sewer
blockages and burst water pipes which were prevalent.
admitted failing to cope up with waste management services. It said its only
two skip trucks were inadequate.
"This resulted in many skip points being
turned into illegal dumpsites," noted the report, which added that services
of street cleaning in the CBD also deteriorated significantly.
the health hazards posed by the absence of ablution services, the preparation
and sale of food from unauthorised premises continued at commuter pick-up
points, bus termini, industrial areas and home industries.
said rapid urbanisation currently being experienced by the city impacted
negatively on the quality of the environment because it was not being matched
proportionately with infrastructural development.
This resulted in
inadequate housing, which led to the proliferation of backyard shanties in
high-density, low-income suburbs while conditions in peri-urban settlements
deteriorated "to alarming levels with virtually no services available to the
That apart, "the central business district was invaded by
squatters, vagrants, destitutes and criminals leading to a public outcry for
remedial action", said the report.
"Inadequate finances and the
depreciating value of the Zimbabwe dollar, due to the rising inflation,
coupled with the shortages of manpower, and essential equipment, affected the
efficient delivery of our services," said Mbengeranwa.
Gono ducks questions on human rights By our own
SLOUGH, UK - Zimbabwe's Reserve Bank Governor Gideon Gono, last
week skilfully ducked questions on the country's appalling state of democracy
and human rights record on British television.
Gono's antics, however,
could not spare him from a place in the "hall of infamy" after indications by
the British parliament to have his wings clipped under the European Union's
travel ban that affects other top ruling Zanu PF officials, The Standard can
Gono deftly steered off answering questions on the country's
political crisis; saying that he was "not qualified" to comment on it but
vowed to turn around the country's economic fortunes.
"Zimbabwe is now
a totally new area, totally new economy (and) we are determined to
self-correct ourselves in the community of nations," Gono told the BBC
Newsnight programme here Tuesday.
Gono, who briefly met Zimbabwean and
African students at Oxford, claimed to have raised "at least US$20 million"
during his British escapade.
Asked by BBC's Robin Danselow if he was
taking part in the ongoing Zanu PF presidential succession jockeying, Gono
responded: "That question is best left to Zimbabweans, I am only an economist
and would not venture to answer that question."
Zanu PF activists block setting up of Parliamentary
Information Centres By Caiphas Chimhete
WAR veterans and youth militia
from the Border Gezi training centres are blocking the establishment of
Parliamentary Constituency Information Centres (PCICs) in constituencies run
by Members of Parliament of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change
(MDC), The Standard has learnt.
They are also closing down PCICs that had
been set up, in what MDC MPs said is a political ploy meant to portray the
opposition legislators as "disorganised" and unable to attend to the needs of
the electorate ahead of next year's crucial general
Currently, several MDC legislators - particularly those
who hold rural seats - have not been able to set up the centres while those
that had been established are being forcibly closed down.
almost all information centres in Zanu PF won-constituencies are up and
running - well equipped with computers.
MDC legislators last week said
the war veterans and youth militia were being used as fronts by Zanu PF and
government officials, with intentions of contesting the 2005 parliamentary
The MPs said they have presented their cases to Parliament but that
has not yielded any results. They foresee a situation whereby elections,
slated for March, will be held before they set up the information
"I had opened up a centre at Hauna in 2002 but some war veterans
and Zanu PF supporters ordered its closure. I approached Parliament and the
Manicaland Governor for help but nothing came out of the meetings," explained
Evelyn Masaiti, MDC legislator for Mutasa in Manicaland.
Masaiti had been seeking help from Manicaland Governor Mike Nyambuya, who is
eyeing her seat on a Zanu PF ticket.
Nyambuya could not be reached for a
Early this year, Zanu PF youths and war veterans demonstrated
against the owner of the property that Masaiti had acquired to set up the
office. The owner was intimidated and he later refused to sign a lease
Other constituencies where Zanu PF supporters obstructed the
setting up of PCICs include Chimanimani (Roy Bennett) Nyanga (Leonard
Ringisai Chirowamhangu) and in Gwanda North, where Paul Themba-Nyathi is the
Other MPs facing similar problems include Jealous
Sansole (Hwange East), Mtoliki Sibanda (Tsholotsho) and Nomalanga Khumalo
Last month, Zanu PF supporters and war veterans destroyed
an information centre after Bennett was involved in a scuffle with the
Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs, Patrick Chinamasa and
Didymus Mutasa, the Minister of Anti-Corruption and Anti-Monopolies in the
President's Office in the House.
Themba-Nyathi, who is also MDC
spokesperson, said obstruction of smooth operations of PCICs by Zanu PF was
prevalent in rural constituencies. "I have the same problem in Gwanda. Zanu
PF youths and war veterans are intimidating property owners so that they
refuse to accommodate us at their premises.
"It is a primitive culture
that does not promote pluralistic existence and national development," said
However, Parliament of Zimbabwe Chief Public Relations
Officer, Tarisayi Chirinda, said she had not received any complaints from MDC
"We have not received anything like that. We have an office
in Nyanga and Mutasa. We have even signed a lease agreement with the owner of
the building at Hauna where Masaiti intended to set up an office," said
Parliament in March said centres had been set up at 104 of the
120 constituencies in the country while the remaining 16 were expected to
be complete by mid-year.
But, as the political temperature reaches
boiling point ahead of next year's poll, there are fears that centres in MDC
held-constituencies, particularly in rural areas, might all be shut down. In
a statement in March this year, Parliament said the PCICs were not
springboards for political activities but for promoting "our democratic
"They are meant to service all members of the public
regardless of their party affiliation," it said in a statement.
United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) is financing the setting up of
the information centres.
ZIMBABWE will experience severe shortages of bread next year
following late invitations to new farmers to venture into wheat
The invitations came almost a month after the lapse of the
deadline for planting the crop, Standard Business has
The government last week frantically courted new farmers
at the eleventh hour to take up production of the crop after it became clear
that there was very little planting activity taking place. Wheat is normally
planted up to May 15 and is harvested in September just before the onset of
However, after realising that very few farmers were planting
the crop, the government sent a SOS message to the newly resettled farmers to
take up the challenge and hurriedly plant the crop.
government statement: "In its endeavor to boost the production of wheat in
2004, the government has undertaken to support the targeted production of 100
000 hectares of wheat S those who intend to grow wheat and have not been
registered with Arex are encouraged to approach their nearest Arex
Added the statement, issued by the Ministry of Lands and
Agriculture: "Wheat can be planted from May until about mid-June, but
obviously the late planted crop might coincide with the early summer rains
thereby making it difficult to harvest the crop."
Last year, early
October rains had a devastating effect on the winter crop as it failed to
mature properly and some of the crop was declared unsuitable for human
Out of a normal requirement of 350 000 tonnes per annum only
60 000 tonnes was harvested in 2003/04 down from 80 000 in
Many farmers failed to plant this year's crop in time because of
the late harvesting of the maize crop. Other A1 and A2 farmers who took up
productive farmland formerly owned by white commercial farmers during the
violent farm seizures failed to access funding and inputs in
They complain that many financial institutions insist on collateral
security before lending any money to the farmers who don't hold any title
deeds to the land.
John Nkomo, the Minister for Special Affairs
Responsible for Lands, Lands Reform and Resettlement, recently told a Cabinet
meeting that only 33 000 hectares of wheat had been planted so far against a
targeted 100 000 hectares.
Agricultural experts say due to late land
preparation and planting, this year's wheat harvest could be the smallest
since independence in 1980.
"The crop will miss the winter temperature to
mature properly because the optimum growing conditions are now and not
October," said Renson Gasela, the opposition MDC shadow minister for
Zanu PF plot to oust Gweru mayor deepens By Richard
GWERU - A suspected plot by Zanu PF to oust the democratically
elected MDC executive mayor here deepened last week afterthe party's
supporters held demonstrations calling for the reinstatement of the old city
council, which was defeated by the opposition party at the polls last
The Standard witnessed ZRP policemen accompanying the ruling
party supporters and some of the losing councillors to Town House where
they disrupted council business.
This comes hardly two weeks after
Zanu PF supporters - including losing councillors from the previous council -
blocked traffic in the city centre, beat up and hauled insults at suspected
MDC supporters as they demonstrated against Gweru executive Mayor Sesel
To the surprise of onlookers, the demonstrators, who also
provided the ZBC Newsnet crew with transport to cover them, turned their demo
into a "mini" political rally as they chanted Zanu PF slogans and sang
They called on the Ministry of Local Government,
Public Works and National Housing, Ignatious Chombo, to reinstate the old
council, which was dominated by Zanu PF loyalists.
Ironically, as Zanu
PF supporters were denouncing the Mayor inside Town House, other Gweru
residents were busy discussing pertinent issues on how they could revisit the
council budget and reduce the burden on ratepayers.
Zvidzai refused to
meet the threatening Zanu PF supporters and told The Standard he was only
prepared to address genuine residents who put party politics aside for the
development of the city.
"Even if they were MDC supporters coming in that
way, I am sorry I wasn't going to address them," said the soft-spoken
Bleak future for Zimbabwe's street children By Valentine
AS the world commemorated the Day of the African Child on
Wednesday, thousands of Zimbabwean children faced a bleak future of mounting
poverty and the threat to their lives from diseases and conditions such
as malnutrition, HIV/Aids and malaria.
With the economic crisis
showing no signs of a respite, there was little to cheer, particularly for
street children who have to endure cold nights and starvation in the
country's major cities.
Zimbabwe's problems - fuelled by a
combination of factors including food shortages, rapid economic decline and
the impact of HIV/Aids - have contributed to forcing many children to turn to
the streets for survival.
A young orphan, who said she did not know how
old she was, told The Standard that most of her friends had been sexually
abused or harassed in the streets of Harare.
"Some boys and girls I
know are being sexually abused by the older members of the street community,
but a lot are also being abused by other people," said the young
Hazel Parsons, who chairs Streets Ahead - an organisation that
looks after the interests and welfare of street children - said most of the
kids were abused while sleeping on the streets.
"We have more than 150
street children coming in on a monthly basis to get letters for them to
receive free treatment for sexually transmitted diseases with a doctor we
have identified in Harare. We are also working in conjunction with Unicef and
the police and we are taking the children to victim friendly clinics," said
"The age group of the children is worrying, as most are below
the age of 16," added Parsons. She said most of the children were living on
the streets because they had no alternatives.
"They come from
impoverished families and none of them likes scavenging for food," she
Shepherd Zikuyumo - a former street kid who stayed in the streets
for more than six months after both his parents died but is now an artist -
said some children ran away from their homes as result of
"There is an increase in child abuse, which is one of the reasons
why children choose to leave home. Their parents are unable to cope, they
have high stress levels and take it out on children, who then decide to
leave," said Zikuyumo
Recent government efforts to get the children
off the streets by dumping them on farms hit a snag because many of them
trekked back to Harare and Bulawayo where they could get food.
Makoni, the director of Girl Child Network, said rounding up the street
children would not solve the problem. What was needed was a clear
and analytic approach.
"There's a lot of pressure from government in
terms of rounding up these children. Their numbers are increasing and
government wants to take action, but our opinion is that just to round them
up will not solve the problem. Within two weeks they will be back on the
streets," said Makoni.
She however added that there were already other
organisations that had come up with clear and practical initiatives to
resolve the problem but the only set back was lack of support and government
Unicef's representative, Foster Kavishe, said there was need to
assess and identify where the children are coming from, why they are on the
streets and whether they are permanently on the street, or just there during
the day and going home at night.
"It is understood that because of the
hardships people are facing these days some parents from high-density suburbs
such as Mbare and Epworth are bringing their children to the city centre to
beg during the day.
"For those who are permanently on the streets, or
have been there for some time, integrating them back into their home
communities may not be an option but to teach them life skills and vocational
skills, so they can survive on their own," said Kavishe.
UNacceptable or UNcoordinated? overthetop By Brian
OFFICIALS in a troubled central African banana republic say they
have not snubbed a top United Nations official - they just didn't want to see
him. "If he'd come on a different day, things might have been better," said
a slightly muddled man from the ruling Zany Party. "As it was, we were a
bit busy on the day he wanted to arrive."
The UN said the snub was
confusing. Senior government officials from all the troubled central African
country's neighbours managed to find the time for a meeting with the world
Meanwhile the UN official, the personal envoy of the body's top
man, said he had no comment.
This was possibly because he had visited
the troubled central African police State several times before and knew just
what to expect.
The portly official, who has been responsible for feeding
half the country's population for the last three years, was also said to be
miffed when the Zany foreign minister accused the UN of spreading lies about
the troubled central African basket case.
The Zany foreign minister,
in a statement guaranteed to ensure his popularity in the UN, accused the
organisation of employing a drunkard to write its reports.
his rant, the Zany foreign minister suggested that the UN's main food body,
the WFP, might even be working for the opposition More Drink Coming
Political analysts who cannot be named because they fear death
said even if it were true that the WFP supported the More Drink Coming Party,
that would only be fair. "After all," whispered one analyst, "It's a well
established fact that the other major UN organisation in the troubled central
African dictatorship has been working for the Zany Party for
Meanwhile in a largely unrelated incident, a source close to the
Nigerian president has told Over The Top of an interesting if short
conversation between Mr OB Banjo of Nigeria and the troubled central African
nation's most equal of all comrades.
According to Ms Eunice "US
dollars only please" Luma, the most equal of all comrades was more than a
little miffed to learn that some of his now homeless honky farmers had been
feted and lionised in Nigeria.
Calling his colleague Mr Banjo on the
amazing satellite phone, he asked why dispossessed farmers were being
encouraged to invest in the oil-rich but otherwise hopelessly corrupt West
According to Ms Luma (a woman of irreproachable manners
known to OTT only in the platonic sense), Mr Banjo was surprised and annoyed
to have his afternoon dalliance interrupted by the most equal of all
comrades. Apparently he hung up after muttering a short, sharp expletive not
normally directed publicly towards the most equal of all comrades.
course, this startling bit of news has nothing to do with the United Nations,
except that if farmers do go to Nigeria, that country may soon be growing
some of its own food, while the troubled central African basket case will
continue to rely on the munificence of the spurned world body.
a related event - because we have to stick to objective journalism - the Zany
foreign minister has also complained about the UN describing the troubled
central African police state as a "no go area" characterised by rising
The reality is that the troubled central African banana republic
is only a no go area to subversive elements within the More Drink Coming
Party. As for rising crime, the evidence of heavily armed policemen beating
political opponents into submission was proof that the law enforcement
agencies were deployed where they are really needed, said a Zany Party
BULAWAYO - A battle for the control of Zimbabwe's second largest
city is raging between President Robert Mugabe's appointee, metropolitan
Governor for Bulawayo Cain Matema, and MDC Executive Mayor Japhet
Ndabeni-Ncube, The Standard has found.
Since the arrival of the former
Zimbabwe ambassador to Zambia in Bulawayo in early January, confusion has
reigned supreme as to who of the two is in charge of the city's
Even the corporate world has had difficulty in figuring out
who to invite as guest of honour for their functions in the City of
Previously it was just the Mayor who hogged the
The Standard, which has been following the issue closely, can
reveal that the Governor appears to be slowly gaining an upper hand as each
day passes by. Many of the official roles traditionally set aside for the
Mayor are being assumed by the Governor who, of late, dominates major city
For example, when a major banking institution launched its
main branch recently, Matema was reported to have been drafted onto the
programme at the last minute to officially launch the branch. This
effectively gave him an opportunity to hog the limelight.
interview last week, Ndabeni-Ncube said he would fight to the bitter end to
make sure that his powers were not completely usurped by the Governor as was
now the case in Harare where Witness Mangwende is running the show.
was voted into the office by the residents of Bulawayo while Matema
was appointed, so I would not allow anyone to usurp the powers bestowed on
"I am here for the people by the people, so I must not allow such a
thing to happen. I am closely monitoring any movements deemed to sideline or
usurp my powers," said Ndabeni-Ncube.
In a separate interview, Matema
said he did not mind whatever residents were saying about him.
have different roles and I will continue working towards bringing development
to the city of Bulawayo. I did not know that I was usurping the Mayor's
powers but the fact is I am here to work towards encouraging investors back
as well as reviving the economy of Bulawayo," said Matema.
Pullen, the successor to outgoing British Ambassador to Zimbabwe, Sir Brian
Donnelly, is expected to arrive in Zimbabwe soon. Sir Brian announced this on
Friday at a function to mark the occasion of the 78th birthday of Queen
Elizabeth II and his farewell party at his Harare residence.
Ambassador was the British High Commissioner in Accra and before that, he
served in Nigeria and Kenya.
Sir Brian said during his three-year
stay in Zimbabwe he visited most parts of the country where he witnessed so
"We have seen people in communal areas and in high-density
suburbs desperately struggling to eke out a living and being offered
ideological panaceas instead of sustainable development
"As a result many are forced to accept food assistance from
international donors simply in order to survive," said Donnelly in his
He added that he had also witnessed people who had
suffered for standing for their rights; who have been wrongly deprived of
their land and property, ruining, in some cases not just a lifetime's
endeavour but the fruits of several generations.
"The British Embassy,
our Department for International Development and the British Council have
each tried in their own ways to ameliorate some of these problems," Donnelly
"I am only too conscious that these efforts have not addressed
the fundamental problems facing this country," he said.
CIO operatives assault Finnish national By our own
A FINNISH citizen, Birgit Kidd of Chimanimani, was last week
severely assaulted by suspected members of the dreaded Central
Intelligence Organisation (CIO), armed soldiers, war veterans and Zanu PF
youth militia at the opposition MDC offices.
Speaking from a private
hospital in Chipinge where she is undergoing treatment, Kidd - who said she
was a human rights activist - said the group of known security agents wanted
her and Shane, her husband, dead.
"The attack was so vicious, it was
too severe. They left me unconscious thinking that I had already died," said
Kidd, who was taken to hospital in Chipinge by a good samaritan after local
police refused to assist her.
Kidd said she could identify most of the
assailants because they used to drink beer at her bottle store in
"Some of the people used to come to my bottle store as
consumers. I can identify them," said Kidd.
MDC provincial information
secretary for Manicaland, Pishai Muchauraya, said the Kidds were attacked
after she tried to evict war veterans and Zanu PF youths, who had invaded MDC
offices in the town. Kidd owns the building, which is being rented by the
opposition party for its offices.
"She evicted them but they later came
back in a truck and started to indiscriminately assault the two with iron
bars, logs and booted feet," said Muchauraya, who added that some of the
assailants were soldiers camped at Charleswood Estate.
Roy Bennett, who has failed to reclaim the property despite numerous court
rulings in his favour, owns the estate.
This is the second time that the
rowdy Zanu PF youth militia and war veterans have assaulted Kidd.
March this year, she was brutally assaulted and force-marched around the town
of Chimanimani carrying a Zanu PF flag and chanting
"It's a terror campaign against whites in the
province. They are fighting whites so that they all leave the province before
the 2005 parliamentary elections.
"We in the MDC roundly condemn the
racial cleansing being carried out by Zanu PF in Manicaland because we are a
multi-racial party," said Muchauraya.
Donnelly's final words: A fitting message for
LET us first concede that certainly we wouldn't face many of
our present pathologies and desperately difficult problems if it weren't for
the legacy of colonialism.
But we also must, as Zimbabweans, both
black and white, realise that today much of the responsibility lies at our
feet. We would be mad if we did not acknowledge this.
It is in
this context that we must take our hats off to Sir Brian Donnelly's farewell
speech last Friday to commemorate Queen Elizabeth II's birthday and his
farewell party. We will not be deterred from making this statement of the
obvious by false and laughable accusations of being described as
"a British-sponsored opposition newspaper." Truth is truth whether said by
a Zimbabwean, Briton or an Asian.
We are not "a British-sponsored
newspaper" and we will never be. These stupid accusations only exist in the
mind of Jonathan Moyo and those of his ilk. We are a newspaper brewed in a
Zimbabwean pot and driven only by the interests of our beloved country -
Zimbabwe. If Jonathan Moyo finds this fact too difficult to accept, tough
Yes, until about a year or so ago, Britain could have overplayed
its hand by taking a high profile stance which President Mugabe portrayed
as neo-colonialism or neo-imperialism. Zimbabwe's land remained too long
in white Zimbabwean hands partly because Britain went back on its promise
to provide resources for a comprehensive land resettlement programme aimed
at alleviating the acute pressure in the rural areas.
As a former
colonial master and part of the problem, Britain should have appreciated much
more that white land ownership is an emotive issue not only in Zimbabwe but
right across the continent.
In this regard, it is not surprising that
President Mugabe's speeches at international fora are invariably punctuated
by applause and interrupted by ovations. Mugabe's message is interpreted by
many, rightly or wrongly, as a message of liberation and equality and this
goes down well in a continent searching for dignity after decades of colonial
domination and slavery.
Having said that, it is important to restate that
Zimbabwe has been an independent and sovereign country for 24 years now and
to continually harp ad infinitum on the evils of past colonisation without
taking responsibility for our actions in the present is an exercise in
This is where Sir Brian's candour, frankness and analysis comes
in. And any right thinking Zimbabwean of whatever complexion of opinion could
not fail to be impressed by his forthright and well-intentioned
It does not require a rocket scientist to see that Zimbabwe is a
country starved of true democracy. It is ironic, were it not so tragic, that
the same men who held high the country's revolution and who spoke of
universal suffrage, fundamental human rights and freedoms can now be seen
subverting elections, trampling on democracy, circumscribing the democratic
space by closing newspapers and unleashing violence. How sad
Without handwringing, Sir Brian cast images once again of what he
has seen with his own eyes in the course of his 3-year sojourn here. "We have
seen people in communal areas and in high density suburbs desperately
struggling to eke out a living and being offered ideological panaceas instead
of sustainable development. We have seen people who have suffered
physically and emotionally simply for standing up for their civil
Who can quarrel with these observations? He went on: "We have
seen people afflicted with the terrible scourge of HIV/Aids and we have seen
the many orphans who are the sad legacy of this disease. We have seen people
who have been wrongfully deprived of their land and property, ruining, in
some cases, not just a lifetime's endeavour but the fruits of several
Is it not therefore a shame that the rights and freedoms
which were so hard fought for by the liberation movements and the Zimbabwean
masses could be so quickly eroded and disconstructed by the very leaders
supposed to be the custodians of these values? Zimbabweans fought against
colonialism in order to bring about the values of democracy and freedom. They
did not fight to see Zanu PF unfairly rule in perpetuity.
of African politics was at the very heart of all white politics in Rhodesia.
Why should the same repression be at the very heart of all politics in
Throughout last week, the State media was agog about Tony
Blair's stinging defeat in British local and European Parliamentary
elections. But the lesson was lost on this sycophantic State media that this
is what democracy is all about and the ruling Labour party gracefully
conceded defeat. We all know what Zanu PF would have done faced with this
kind of defeat.
That is why we feel strongly that there was nothing
British or European about what Sir Brian said about Zimbabwe last Friday.
Values of democracy and freedom are universal. They are not western values.
His criticisms were said with honest intentions - with Zimbabweans in mind
rather than simply playing to the gallery as is often the case with our
His message was crystal clear. We have to get our house in
order. Zanu PF leaders must surrender personal ambitions and obsession with
power in the interest of Zimbabwe.
On our own part, we will not give
up as Sir Brian exhorted Zimbabweans. It is very easy to give up but very
difficult to continue fighting. President Mugabe and the ruling Zanu PF party
appear seemingly invincible and invulnerable to democratic challenge. So have
been many dictators before them.
'He who isn't corrupt cast the first stone' sundayopinion
By Desmond Kumbuka
AT the service station in the days of fuel shortages,
if the petrol attendant turned out to be a "home boy" (mwana wekumusha), no
matter how distant the relationship or vague the acquaintance, a camaraderie
was struck that ensured that one could jump the queue at will. Or if one was
wily enough to get a few bearers' cheques into the pocket of the
attendant without raising a hue and cry from other queuers, then one was
guaranteed of instant service.
At the police road block, life can be
much easier for those who recognise that our overworked and underpaid police
officers do need a drink of Coke or some other beverage of their choice from
time to time.
So if you cooperate and say: "Mukoma, mozowedzerawo
dirinki, kana mapedza basa" while you surreptitiously hand over a $5 000
bearer's cheque note you can get away with a caution rather than a ticket for
your "smooth as a snake's belly" vehicle tyres or expired licence.
the municipal offices expeditious service is a preserve of those who realise
that the municipal workers who attend to them also have families to feed,
children to send to school and can use any donations in cash or kind over and
above their meagre wages. So the ratepayer who is prepared a to give a
"little tip" to the municipal policeman or council clerk is likely to receive
service with a smile.
The trend is even more glaring in some government
Sullen faced officers who, when they attend to you, behave as
though they are doing you a monumental favour for which you ought to be
eternally grateful, will suddenly brighten up and cheerfully do their work
once a little "inducement" has been thrown their way as "mbasera" for
There is an even larger picture to the workplace
It is not uncommon to find that a majority of employees come
from the same home area as the personnel manager.
Worse still, in many
instances, some of the workers can turn out to be cousins, nephews, sons or
daughters of girl-friends, all employed by the personnel manager because, as
the rationale to justify the practice goes: "Chawawana idya nehama, mutorwa
anehanganwa" literally translated meaning: what ever you have share with
close relatives, for the stranger soon forgets. The aggrieved resign
themselves to the malpractice by simply declaring: "These days, its who you
know, not what you know in order to secure employment."
survey undertaken by an industrial relations consultancy at one of the major
Harare companies a few years ago established that simmering discontent among
the 2 000 strong workforce was a result of perceived nepotism by the human
resources manager. It turned out that at least 30 percent of the total number
of workers were from the manager's home area with a majority of them
connected to him in one way or another.
When the results of the survey
were presented to the management, the human resources manager nonchalantly
dismissed the findings as unprofessional saying the methods used to gather
the information had no scientific basis. He paid off the consultancy firm and
promptly consigned its report to the company's archives.
director of one of the major parastatal organisations, defending himself from
accusations of nepotism, remarked that he was better-off employing a relative
that he knows well than hiring a total stranger whose loyalty is not
guaranteed. This was after queries over the coincidence of four senior
employees of the company bearing exactly the same surname.
I could go on
with these examples of petty corruption and nepotism that pervade virtually
every strata of Zimbabwean society. It is in the context of these examples of
ethical distortions and inconsistencies in the way we relate to each other
that we must examine the roots of corruption in our society.
question that begs an answer is whether this kind of behaviour is incidental
to the Zimbabwean character or whether it is intrinsic to the African
cultural psyche. Is the dictum "Blood is thicker than water" a plausible
rationale to justify corruption and nepotism, no matter how trivial it may
seem? Indeed, is corruption not a natural phenomenon that should be tolerated
simply as another manifestation of the fickleness of human
Profound gasps of shock and disbelief rang out from all corners
of the country following the exposure of massive levels of corruption and
improper dealings in the financial sector which resulted in the arrest of a
number of prominent businessmen and bankers. The same gasps of disbelief
greeted what came be the known as the "Willowgate scandal" when top Zanu PF
and government ministers were involved in illicit deals. A Cabinet
minister caught up in the scandal committed suicide.
Then followed the
sensational "Access to Capital" fiasco in which scores of Zimbabweans lost
life savings having been promised fantastic profits from their investments
with the company run a young university graduate, Davison Matanganyidze. But
as soon as these pieces of sensational news disappeared from newspaper
columns, Zimbabwe's own unique brand of laissez faire seemed to settle on its
citizenry like a mind numbing sedative relegating the whole shebang into
Interestingly, though, the thread running through all
these cases of corruption, is that in each instance the victims were
perfectly "normal" individuals whose greed and desire to "get-rich-quick"
appears to have got the better of them robbing them of their sense of
rationale judgment. None of them bothered to establish exactly how the
fabulous profits they were being promised were to be
Clearly, what emerges from all this is that few of us can say
we are totally immune to the predatory instinct of greed and the lure of easy
money. Indeed, how many, in these days when having money can mean the
difference between wretchedness and starvation on the one hand - and a
comfortable lifestyle on the other hand - will not succumb to the temptation
of easy pickings even if this means breaking the law?
Because of its
insidious and profound effect on virtually everyone, greed is perhaps one of
the most exploitable proclivity of the human character.
Take the ENG case
for example. While ostensibly, the chief villains were the company's
directors Nyasha Watyoka and Gilbert Mponda because they were arrested in the
glare of public media, scores of other corrupt "dealers" whose transactions
were outside the ambit of the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe, or have simply been
able to evade arrest, still roam the streets scot free.
There is no doubt
that the lucrative foreign currency wheeling and dealing, sucked in a wide
spectrum of participants, ranging from the white robbed "Mapostori",
prostitutes, cross-border truck drivers, street kids and even "respectable"
office workers, who all found the lure of the
The line between what is legal and what
constitutes a crime became increasingly blurred as Zimbabweans, dogged by
burgeoning poverty in an inflation riddled economy, struggled to make ends
Corruption and outright theft or fraud in some cases, began to have
a new, and even glamorous image and definition in the eyes of the general
public - this type of behaviour began to be seen as enterprise and
initiative. Those with money, regardless of how they acquired it, exuded an
aura of invincibility: they were the heroes of the moment. Many of these
nouveau riche flaunted their wealth around with impunity, making those that
lacked the guts to engage in currency trading seem like foolish simpletons
unwise to the ways of the world.
I remember one streetwise
acquaintance remarking to me that "anyone who does not make money this year
(2003) will never again have an opportunity to become rich", as he boasted of
his exploits on the currency black market. Unfortunately, the man is nowhere
to be seen these days so that he can appraise me on the results of his
But perhaps the consolation for Zimbabwe is that corruption
is acknowledged as a global problem. Nearly 100 countries signed the first
internationally binding global treaty against corruption at a three-day UN
conference in Merida, Mexico, in December. The UN Convention against
Corruption now needs to be formally ratified by 30 countries to come into
The agreement was negotiated over nearly two years by more than
125 countries and is expected to give a boost to the global fight
against corruption. It contains more than 70 articles covering topics such
as bribery, embezzlement, misappropriation, money-laundering, protection
of whistle-blowers and co-operation among states.
For the first time
in international law, the treaty "makes a major breakthrough by requiring
member states to return assets obtained through corruption to the country
from which they were stolen", said UN Secretary-General Kofi
"This is a particularly important issue for many developing
countries where corrupt officials have plundered the national wealth," he
Corruption is considered a major impediment to development and it
is estimated that hundreds of billions of dollars are lost each year in
"Corruption not only distorts economic
decision-making, it also deters investments, undermines competitiveness and
ultimately weakens economic growth," said UN Office on Drugs and Crime
Executive Director Antonio Maria Costa.
Under the convention,
signatories are required to adopt a number of measures to curb corruption,
including codes of conduct and disciplinary measures for public servants and
laws to criminalise bribery and money laundering.
second part on Guns for Hire by Standard Assistant Editor DAVID MASUNDA and
Alexander von Paleske, a freelance writer, The Standard examines who stands
to benefit when a group of mercenaries takes on a mission to depose a
despotic leader, or to secure certain interests under threat from rebels.
Here is their account:
MERCENARY activity or contracting private security
companies - PMCs as they now want to be known - is big business. Very big
According to reports, South Africa's now disbanded
Executive Outcomes' (EO) two-and-a-half year contract with the Angolan
government in the early 1990s was worth US$40 million per year in cash and
the icing on top of the cake were several priceless lucrative oil and diamond
Tim Spicer's Sandline debacle, that almost cost him his
life, was worth it: according to freelance writer and documentary film-maker
Michael Bilton - who researched on Sandline actitivies for years - the
company might have been paid US$18 million by the government of Papua New
Guinea to resolve an eight-year-old military conflict involving a
secessionist movement on the South Pacific Island of Bougainville.
contract Sandline signed with the Papua New Guinea government included the
supply of four helicopters, two Mi-17 armed transport helicopters and two
Mi-24 helicopter gunships.
At the time, the asking price of an Mi-17
helicopter from Russia or former Soviet states was between US$600 000 to
US$900 000 each.
Although there were later problems for Sandline in
collecting its paycheck from Papua New Guinea after a mutiny brought in a new
government that tried to wiggle itself out of the Sandline deal, the company
has not done badly from its other military adventures in parts of
Sandline, with the help of EO, was reportedly paid US$10 million
by a Canada-based businessman Rakesh Saxena to overthrow the government of
Sierra Leone and secure lucrative diamond concessions in that
According to a Sandline report on its incorporation in 1996,
Anthony (Tony) Buckingham was the inspiration behind Sandline while Spicer is
its Chief Executive.
While PMCs are violating the UN Convention for
the Elimination of Mercenarism in Africa, it is clear their operations are
sometimes sanctioned, or assisted, by officials in key government or private
posts in some Western countries.
Research has also shown that at
times, Western governments turn a blind eye to the operations of these
companies in Africa and the developing world and hope that their adventures
would not leave them with egg on the face.
One study says "private
military companies go where the Pentagon would prefer not to be seen carrying
out military exercises for the American government, far from Washington's
view". The same can be said of the British, the French and other
When Spicer was investigated in the late 1990s for breaching
a UN arms embargo during Sandline's military exploits in Sierra Leone, the
former British SAS reserve officer said he had received official approval
from the UK Foreign Office.
Then British Foreign Affairs Secretary
Robin Cook was "left with egg on the face" and British Prime Minister Tony
Blair was forced to defend the use of Sandline in Sierra Leone, according to
THE Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eeelam, the rebels who have
fought successive Sri Lankan governments for years, on July 24 2001 made
their most devastating attack.
On an attack on Bandaranaike
International Airport, they destroyed half the civilian fleet of Sri Lankan
Airlines - the national career - cutting the country's only link with the
During the same attack, the rebels destroyed about a third
of Sri Lanka Air Force's Russian transport helicopters and fighters, Israeli
interceptors and Chinese trainers, according to the Centre for Public
Integrity report. The cost of the attack was estimated at US$500
"The long-term impact of the Tigers' attack was magnified by the
conduct of the City of London, the financial nerve centre of the United
Kingdom," says the Centre for Public Integrity report named Marketing the
Dogs of War.
The report adds: "Brokers at the Lloyds of London insurance
market imposed massive war risk surchages on shipping to Sri Lanka. The
shipping dependent nation suddenly faced the loss of trade and even essential
At a stroke, the country faced rampant hyper-inflation and
economic collapse because of the high insurance surcharges and the cost of
air transport to cater for the security risks now involved with shipping to
(It is important to note here that Zimbabwe was actually one
of the victims of the Tamil Tigers when a shipment of arms from the Zimbabwe
Defence Industries destined for Sri Lanka was lost at sea - reportedly after
an attack by the Tigers - during the same period).
Says the Centre for
Integrity report: "The terrorist Tigers had struck the blow, but it was the
London financiers whose conduct now threatened national survival. Sri Lanka's
High Commissioner in London, Mangala Moonasinghe, was instructed to open
negotiations - not with the Tamil Tigers - but with the City's
On August 17 2001, eight Sri Lankan negotiators flew into
London for meetings with Lloyds' underwriters and the company's "war risks
After three days of talks, the Lloyds team set up a "London
Market Sri Lankan War Facility" to help imports to that country. The Sri
Lankan government was also asked to commission a full security review of
its airport and seaports and "to implement recommendations".
London brokers recommended that Sri Lanka hired a British company, Trident
Maritime, to carry out the security review in conjuction with another
By hiring Trident, the Sri Lankans had hired Colonel
Tim Spicer, the man behind Sandline International.
Spicer, in an
interview in 2002, said the world was waiting "for the speed and flexibility
with which PMCs can deploy, rather than wait for the UN to form a
Responding to a question, he said it might be in the
international community's interests if PMCs were hired to intervene in
long-running conflicts in the Sudan or topple leaders like Robert Mugabe,
says the Centre for Public Integrity report.
Asked at a conference in
2002 on Europe and America: a New Strategic Partnership, sponsored by the
Royal Institute of International Affairs, Spicer said: "I don't think anyone
would object if a private military company American, British or whatever was
to become involved at the behest of the interantional community with the
"I suppose the question of Zimbabwe has been raised,
but it's not at that stage yet."
Such answers will obviously worry
Zimbabwean authorities, especially after the plane that was captured at
Harare International Airport was found to contain enough ammunition to start
- and probably win - a small war.
OF the 67 crew and passengers found
huddled in the darkened plane at Manyame Airbase near the Harare
International Airport, 20 are South Africans (black and white), 23 Angolans
(all black), two black Congolese and one black Zimbabwean. Enter the black
Mercenary wars might be financed, organised and commanded by
white nationals from countries such as the UK, US, Canada, Germany, France
and Spain, but most of the people who actually do the fighting - and the
dying - in Africa are black Africans.
According to a report by the
South African Institute of Strategic Studies on Executive Outcomes, the
former South African Defence Force (SADF) had a combat force of about 40 000
out of a total permanent force of about 120 000 soldiers.
these units were battle-hardened, having fought wars against the ANC and
Zanla, Zipra, MPLA and Swapo guerillas in southern Africa for decades.
a result, many of them were feared and unwanted when the new government of
Nelson Mandela came into power in 1996. They drifted into private military
companies such as Executive Outcomes, sometimes out of the neccessity to
survive, but for some - for the adventure and the riches associated with
So it would not be surprising were most of the
blacks captured in Harare finally found out to be former members of elite
counter-insurgency brigades in the former Rhodesian, South African, South
West African (now Namibia) and colonial Portuguese armies.
highly trained soldiers who found themselves out of work when the new
liberation governments came into power were Selous and Grey Scouts
in Zimbabwe; "Koevoet" members (a notorious police unit that operated
closely with the pre-independence SADF in northern Namibia), those from the
crack 32 (Buffalo) Battalion; 1 to 5 Special Forces Reconnaissance regiments,
44 Parachute Brigade and offensive intelligence units of South
Africa's Civilian Co-operation Bureau (CCB), among others.
But it is
big business that finances these military adventurers and in turn that tends
to benefit from the huge mining concessions and the contracts that are paid
by desperate African administrations.
It is the lure of big money and big
business as well the adrenaline-inducing adventures in darkest Africa that
cause the likes of Simon Mann - who once worked with both Spicer and
Buckingham - to leave their comfortable surroundings of fashionable Chelsea S
for the flea-infested Chikurubi Maximum Prison.