|The ZIMBABWE Situation||Our
thoughts and prayers are with Zimbabwe |
- may peace, truth and justice prevail.
Zimbabwe Standard (Harare)
June 22, 2003
Posted to the web June 23, 2003
ZIMBABWEANS have stashed more than $1 billion in foreign
accounts as the
southern African country bleeds under a severe foreign currency crisis, it
was learnt this week
A study by a leading financial institution in Harare says the figure could
be higher if corporate tax dodging and keeping export earnings outside
Zimbabwe were to be included
$1 billion in foreign accounts, that is a startling figure for many in
Zimbabwe who are battling with no fuel and sometimes electricity power cuts
The irony is that the money being kept by nationals outside is enough to
take care of the country's fuel and electricity requirements for a year
Barbican Financial Holdings, is responsible for the research that is putting
to question the conscience of some of the country's rich nationals
The research shows that much of this $1 billion is in South Africa, the
United Kingdom and the United States. Economists say it is this money, kept
offshore, that is fuelling the black market in Zimbabwe
Finance minister Herbert Murerwa recently said new measures would be
announced to attract the foreign currency sitting outside the country when
it is desperately needed at home. These measures would form part of a new
monetary policy due to be announced later this month
Analysts, however, have scoffed at Murerwa's statement saying most of this
money is suspected to be slush funds of some of his colleagues in Cabinet
and in the ruling Zanu PF which would never be voluntarily repatriated
They also say the other money, savings of Zimbabweans working in South
Africa and abroad, was also unlikely to come home because most of the savers
blamed President Robert Mugabe's government for making them economic
Desperate as Zimbabwe may be for foreign currency, many agree there would be
no significant inflows until tangible incentives are put in place in Harare
These measures include democratisation, the restoration of the rule of law
and an agreement with key financial institutions such as the International
Monetary Fund that have blacklisted Zimbabwe
Until that happens a lot of Zimbabweans will continue to keep their hard
currency outside the country's borders.-SABC and our own Staff.
Energy Experts Predict Total Power Blackout
Zimbabwe Standard (Harare)
June 22, 2003
Posted to the web June 23, 2003
ZIMBABWE might face a total power blackout within four years
if efforts are
not made to find local alternative sources of energy, it has emerged
Energy experts say regional power supplies, which Zimbabwe depends on for
extra power, are dwindling and might run out within four years
Already Zimbabwe is experiencing power shortages because its
South Africa, Mozambique and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC),
have been cut for non-payment
This has forced ZESA to introduce intermittent load shedding that is
crippling domestic and industrial services
ZESA's grid assets manager, Cletus Nyachowe said the Southern African Power
Pool (SAPP) had already indicated that regional electricity supply is
dwindling, while demand for power is estimated to increase at a rate of 1000
MW per year
SAPP co-ordinates the planning and operation of the electric power grid
among power utilities in the southern Africa region. It is made up of 12
The reduction in regional supplies is likely to hurt Zimbabwe most, as it is
heavily reliant on imports to cover for deficits in local electricity
ZESA imports 35% of its electricity from South Africa's Eskom, HCB of
Mozambique and Snel of DRC. The other 65% is generated locally by two local
power supply sources, Kariba Hydro Power Station and Hwange Thermal Power
The other three thermal power stations in Harare, Bulawayo and Munyati have
shut down because of coal shortages
New investments in projects such as Gokwe North and Batoka Gorge have failed
to take off as a result of the country's failure to access international
Major financiers, among them the World Bank and the African Development Bank
(ADB), have abandoned Zimbabwe's electricity development plans citing the
country's inability to honour loans
Zimbabwe needs about US$5 million every month to pay for electricity imports
and also requires a similar amount to service debts monthly. A further US$5
million is needed for wheeling charges
However the chronic foreign currency squeeze has resulted in the once
prosperous nation incurring arrears amounting to US$109,7 million. Suppliers
such as ESKOM have now classified ZESA as an "interruptible customer" that
is charged a 12% penalty per month for defaulting on payments
To compound the problem, Energy and Development Minister Amos Midzi, has
revealed that there has been no considerable investment in power generation
made since independence
"It is therefore imperative that we start to invest in power generation as a
matter of urgency, targeting especially those projects that give us
electricity in the shortest possible time," Midzi told a recent ZNCC
breakfast meeting on how to break the vicious cycle of electricity shortages
No Way Out for Zimbabwe
Zimbabwe Standard (Harare)
June 22, 2003
Posted to the web June 23, 2003
THE recent early
resignation of the governor of the Reserve Bank does not
necessarily mean that policy is about to change
I think it is clear to everyone that we effectively had a governor whose
hands were tied by politics and could not really independently implement a
credible monetary policy in the face of the perceived government's right to
access to the treasury. It is also fact that the interest rate regime that
we have seen to date has really been manoeuvred to allow excessive
government borrowing. Something that is not about to stop
Our focus on interest rates has really been misinformed
The main issue is that a government that borrows excessively to spend money
on non investment activities is not good for the economy regardless of where
interest rates are sitting. A comment was made recently that we need not
focus on inflation targeting but on growth. It is true that high interest
rates can stifle growth but what is even more stifling is the manner in
which money has been printed and spent
The real issue is to ensure that the economy begins to grow and any new
monetary policy to be followed must ensure that there is some calibration
between fiscal policy and monetary policy but unfortunately this has never
been the case in Zimbabwe. Fiscal policy has always been driven by politics
and has thus made monetary policy a secondary tool used to support political
strategies. As a result the Reserve Bank has really never been in control
and I doubt that this will change
In order for the economy to begin to grow the only thing lacking is
confidence and political certainty particularly where we see companies being
threatened with closure if they do not follow a political line. That is
antiquated, unfair and very short sighted. But we really can't expect more,
can we. Our economy is now characterised by sheer political expediency and
has ceased to be a normal economy
Inflation is likely to continue to get worse as prices are de-controlled and
we continue to have foreign exchange problems. An increase in interest rates
above inflation is likely to further stifle growth and will not result in
inflation easing off as interest rates only play a small part in
contributing to inflation which is largely imported inflation
Imported inflation will increase over the medium term due to politics and
not necessarily economics
For investors I would advise for them to stay invested in equities in the
medium term and take profits as often but further reinvest these to
Strictly speaking, there is no way out except for a new political
Quote of the week It is better to be violent, if there is violence in our
hearts, than to put on the cloak of non-violence to cover impotence.-Mahatma
Vince Musewe is an independent investments consultant and co-author of the
book 'A trustee's guide to investment management' and may be contacted on
Nerp Doomed As State Dithers On Targets
Zimbabwe Standard (Harare)
June 22, 2003
Posted to the web June 23, 2003
GOVERNMENT has already thrown some
spanners into the much-vaunted National
Economic Recovery Programme (NERP) as evidenced by its failure to honour set
targets, Standard Business has established
"NERP is facing the same fate as its predecessor plans because ministries
are behaving in the same old way. It all points to a failed programme before
it has even gone far," said a leading economist
"We have big problems that need massive surgery but the government is
prescribing aspirin for ailments that need an operation. By merely
identifying the symptoms, you don't treat the problems," added the economist
Upon its formulation in February, economic commentators pointed out that
NERP, the government's then new economic recovery programme, was doomed and
would face the same fate that befell failed past economic reforms
While the 50-page document was applauded at its launch as showing a lot of
promises if the State stuck to its intended projects, many experts say it
has already become just another piece of paper because the government has
not honoured any of its pledges, say experts
President Robert Mugabe's administration has concocted five economic reform
papers since independence from Britain in 1980, but none seems to have
worked so far
Under its latest policy, named NERP, government undertook to make a
quarterly review of the exchange rate which it had adjusted upwards in
February to $824 to the US dollar from an unrealistic $55 to the greenback,
among other initiatives to kick start its floundering economy
However, the first quarterly review of the dollar was due at the end May and
yet government has not indicated whether it would bite the bullet and once
again devalue the local currency to meet market demands
Exporters have argued that astronomical rises in input costs such as fuel,
which can now only be sourced on the black market, and the scarcity of hard
currency, were clear signs that the local unit was overvalued compared to
the currencies of major trading partners
Zimbabwe National Chamber of Commerce (ZNCC) vice-president, David Govere
blames bureaucratic bungling for the NERP's miscarriage
"NERP was based on regular action but government's bureaucratic methods
don't allow for speed and agreed reviews. Events in the market have already
superseded the current pegged exchange rate of $824," observed Govere
ZNCC trade and advocacy officer James Jowa blasted business for not exerting
enough pressure on government to honour its pledges. "Government can only
budge when there is pressure. But right now there seems not to be much
pressure from the business sector," Jowa said
On the 50:50 sharing of export proceeds, government has again failed to
review the requirement quarterly, as it promised in February. Its other
failures to stick to NERP set targets include the promise to engage
international creditors to explore possibilities for debt rescheduling
Four months down the line, not only has Zimbabwe's voting and related rights
with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) been cancelled, Harare is far
from reaching any agreement with the powerful Bretton Woods institutions
over the resumption of aid
Respected Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions' chief economist, Godfrey
Kanyenze, said the government had a long-standing history of crafting
documents that were only good on paper and never executed
"While the Tripartite Negotiation Forum has churned good policy documents,
the government machinery has taken a 'life as usual' approach resulting in
the deepening of the crisis
"The economy increasingly resembles an aeroplane on auto-pilot, cascading to
meet its inevitable demise," Kanyenze observed
He blamed the State for failing to align NERP, which was crafted long after
Zimbabwe's financial year, with the national budget
"It is an open secret that most ministries have already overrun their
limited allocations for the 2003 budget period. In such an environment,
ministries will focus on those activities they planned to undertake, which
are supported by resources
"The lack of progress on implementation could also reflect the lack of
dialogue with line ministries and other organisations regarding their
obligations under NERP," said Kanyenze
Despite undertaking to reduce inflation to 96% by December, it is now racing
past the 300% mark and is forecast to reach the dreaded 1000% by December,
the highest ever in Southern Africa
"There has been an absence of sterilisation measures to deal with
hyper-inflation," said a Bulawayo-based economic commentator
Kanyenze rapped the government's failure to bring sanity to the energy
sector still experiencing constant power outages despite pledges by power
supplier ZESA to rectify the problem
"Load shedding has negated the objectives of NERP and any efforts by the
private sector to fulfil its mandate," Kanyenze observed
Several companies have reduced working hours and cut down on staff because
of the reduced power supply. Others in agriculture, manufacturing and mining
say the power shortages threaten their survival.
Why Mbeki wants the MDC to capitulate
Sundaytalk with Pius Wakatama
IT was one of those days when its all gloom and there is virtually
nothing to gladden one's heart. I was feeling more dejected than usual for I
was just about to make myself a cup of coffee to lift my spirits when,
without any warning, the electricity went off. Load-shedding is what they
call these heinous disturbances.
To cap it all, the deadline for me to submit this contribution to The
Standard was fast approaching and I didn't have the faintest idea of what I
should write about. I didn't know how I could further comment on the madness
going on in Zimbabwe today.
I was looking for a good reason why I should not follow many of my
friends like Chenjerai Hove and emigrate to a more sane country when the
Horror of horrors, it was my uncle, Mr Zanu PF himself.
I braced myself to politely listen to a lot of drivel about the latest
diplomatic exploits of our illustrious president against the British
colonialists and their puppet Morgan Tsvangirai. However, I greeted him in a
cheerful but fake voice. He said that he had heard I was in hospital and
wanted to know how I was feeling. I told him that I was recovering well and
thanked him for his concern. He said he was not well himself as his body was
all aches and pains. "What is the problem," I said.
"Ndakarowha nemasoja, muzukuru, (I was beaten up by soldiers)," he
He said soon after the MDC organised stayaway, he and some friends
were drinking at the local watering hole in Mbare when a group of soldiers
entered the place, closed the door, and beat up all the patrons
indiscriminately accusing them of being MDC supporters. To tell you the
truth, this was music in my ears. I found it quite difficult to hide my
enjoyment from my suffering uncle. In Shona we say 'Tsvatu waro' (You had it
coming; you deserved it).
"But sekuru, you told me that you are now a Zanu PF provincial
official with bodyguards. How could loyal soldiers beat a ruling party
chef?" I asked.
"Havachafunga, muzukuru. Ndakarowha zvekuti" (They don't reason
anymore. I was thoroughly beaten up).
"Are you going to report this to the Politburo," I asked. This time I
could not restrain myself from laughing.
"No, I am now distancing myself from Zanu PF because the party has
totally lost control," he said. I almost asked him whether he had seen the
light and was going to join the MDC but I didn't.
The opposition and Zimbabwe as whole should be thankful to the army
and the police. By indiscriminately beating up hundreds of innocent citizens
including die-hard Zanu PF stalwarts like my uncle, they are surely
destroying the party which the majority of Zimbabweans now detest.
Freedom from tyranny does not come easy. It has its price. The
incarcerations, beatings and even the killings that Zimbabweans are going
through are a worthy sacrifice for the freedom of Zimbabwe and her children.
It is through the State's brutish reaction to the peaceful protest that the
majority of the people have seen the Zanu PF government for the monster that
it is. Its following has now dwindled to a few misguided zealots, criminals
and paid thugs. No decent Zimbabwean wants to be associated with this
murderous party anymore.
Yes, there are some simple-minded folk who support Zanu PF because
they were taken in by its lies. The minister of information (or is it
disinformation) Jonathan Moyo's incessant propaganda may sound silly and
childish to sophisticated thinkers but it is not totally worthless. There
are some retarded and mentally slow Zimbabweans who actually believe it,
especially among our unsophisticated and less educated rural cousins. They
swallowed the land reform (Hondo yeminda) gimmick and the blatant lie that
the British are preparing to recolonise Zimbabwe and take away the land that
they were given by Zanu PF and Comrade Robert Mugabe.
However, the dilapidation of the economy, resulting in the
government's inability to fulfil its many promises is making resettled
communities uneasy. They are asking the government to deliver seed,
fertiliser, inputs and infrastructure, as promised, in vain. The government
is broke and cannot deliver. The resultant disgruntlement is causing what
little support Zanu PF still had in the rural areas to crumble.
Zimbabwean propaganda also had its effect on failed African countries
where colonialism is a ready scapegoat for all failures and ills. It also
goes down very well among former freedom fighters who suffered under the
British and who find it hard to forgive and forget the past. It is amazing
how, even in South Africa next door, some fairly rational people have been
taken in by the Zimbabwe regime's propaganda.
A few days ago I was visited by a very intelligent businessman friend
from South Africa. He was a fiery fighter against the apartheid regime and
was imprisoned and tortured several times. As a Christian, he has forgiven
the whites but he finds it difficult to trust them.
As we discussed the Zimbabwean situation, my friend completely agreed
with me that the Zanu PF government had failed and should go.
However, in the same breath, he said; "But, what is worrying some of
us, Pius, is that Morgan Tsvangirai and his MDC seem to be controlled by the
British. You see, we Africans must be careful that we are not recolonised by
the British. I don't trust them."
I told my friend that he had swallowed the Zanu PF propaganda hook,
line and sinker.
I explained to him that as far as Zimbabweans are concerned, the
problem is not the British, the whites or whoever. Our problem is the Zanu
PF government of Robert Mugabe which is oppressing us and has brought this
country to its knees economically. In fact, we now regard the British as our
allies because they don't like Mugabe and his dictatorship just as much as
we. The British and the whites are not imprisoning us, raping our children,
starving us or torturing us. It is the Zanu PF government which is doing
that and this is no secret. It's being done in open daylight. I am not
denying that the British did that in the past, but that was the past and
only fools live in the past.
I am glad to say I managed to convince my friend, at around midnight,
that Zimbabwe is not fighting against the whites and the British, whatever
their faults might be. We are fighting against a demonic dictatorship that
has no feelings at all for the people of this country.
One can't say, though, that South Africa's President Thabo Mbeki is
fooled by the Zimbabwe regime's propaganda or President Mugabe's many suave
reassurances. I believe that Mbeki knows very well that Mugabe is an
unscrupulous dictator. However, he has his own agenda, or agendas.
The first one comes from his colonial experience which, as in most of
us, left a hangover. A former freedom fighter against white oppression
Mugabe's hatred of whites touches a resonating chord in his sub-conscious.
He secretly admires Mugabe because in colonial Africa the real man (Umdoda
sibili, murume chaiye) is the one who stood up militantly against white
rule. In post-colonial Africa the hangover is there. Most leaders who went
through the colonial era still admire those among them who can thump their
noses at white Western powers even though they may be cutting their noses to
spite their faces. Mbeki, therefore, dares not criticise Mugabe openly.
The other agenda Mbeki has is economic. South Africa sees herself as
the potential African economic and political superpower. In this she is
competing with Muammar Gaddafi's Libya. Mbeki's dream is for South Africa to
dominate and control Zimbabwe's economy. If there is a political settlement
and a new government before this happens, Zimbabwe could be a serious
competitor especially in the field of exports to the rest of Africa.
For South Africa to do business freely in Zimbabwe, a continuation of
the status quo would be ideal. This is why Thabo Mbeki is in no hurry to see
the Zimbabwe problem resolved. He needs time for South African businessmen
to come in and fill the void left by departing Western companies.
To cement their ventures here, South Africans need a friendly
government, preferably controlled by Zanu PF. Mbeki is afraid that if there
is a new government of the MDC, Western economic interest and conglomerates
will flood Zimbabwe and South Africa would be left out in the cold as
happened to Zimbabwe in Mozambique and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
To avoid this, Mbeki would like the MDC to capitulate, in negotiations
set up by him, and agree to a Zanu PF type settlement. With the MDC
swallowed by Zanu PF, South Africa will be able to dominate the scene. This
is why South African businessmen are being empowered by their government to
come and do business in Zimbabwe.
They (South Africans) are vultures coming to pick the flesh from the
carcass of a still breathing but dying Zimbabwe.
He who has ears to hear, let him hear.
There are so many little Mugabes among us
Sundayopinion with Thandi Chiweshe
IMAGINE the post of President not being an elected one, but one where
candidates have to apply, be interviewed, and write an essay on what they
would bring to the "job".
What would the job advert say? What can we take from the current
profiles of African male leaders (yes, mostly male), that we know, so that
we set the required "standard"? What can we learn from current "person
specifications", that would make the task of looking for the candidate
easier? If we are honest, I think the ad would go something like this:
Situation Vacant: State President
Duty Station: Badly run, bottom of the economic pile country in
This former gem of a country now needs serious Lender to Mouth
Salary: When you get there you will pay yourself what you want;
previous incumbents have done the same.
Benefits: Highly negotiable, between you and your conscience really.
Fringe benefits include:
* Use of all national resources for your own benefit,
* Any car/s you want, plus, as many chauffeurs as you need,
* Free accommodation at State House, (and you can raid the national
treasury to build an/other house/s should State House be insufficient for
* A Swiss bank account, with an unmentionable balance
*Unfettered access to the national treasury, and should this prove
insufficient you can help yourself to the guardian's fund at Ministry of
Justice or any other money that doesn't belong to you.
* Unlimited air miles on the national air-line or any other airline of
No-one in particular within your own country. Occasionally, you may be
expected to deliver a state of the nation address, but you get to determine
what exactly you want to say. Once a year, you will be expected to report to
a few money-lenders you may borrow from.
You will be required to run down your national economy as much as the
You are tasked with attracting investors, but only if they give you
kickbacks. Terrorising your own citizens, stifling dissent, and making
decisions that suit only you and key areas of your job. Other key
performance areas include:
* Hiring and firing senior civil servants, and members of the
* Keeping Parliament in check and dissolving it as and when it
* Floating along until the next round of interviews/elections, if of
course you allow these to happen.
*Commanding the armed forces, mostly to kill opponents and any
* Vision-less individuals with no clear sense of direction for the
* No academic credentials required, just guts and viciousness.
*Corrupt or corruptible.
*High levels of kleptomania.
*High levels of megalomania.
*High levels of paranoia.
*Certified/certifiable liars preferred.
*Demonstrable polygamy/polygymous tendencies.
*A proven track record of bad relationships with women essential.
*Uncommitted and unwilling to change the status quo, inspire anyone,
or do anything to change the country or the world.
* The key operating words are mediocrity, ruthlessness and paranoia.
Who said it mattered? Anything ranging from 23 to 95. As long as you
are still on your feet. However should you require human crutches, these
shall be permanently provided, (Ref. Pope John Paul 2).
Wanted: A different type of leader
Every Zimbabwean, (well if we don't count Jonathan and Chinotimba), is
talking about the need for change. But what will that change look like? I
don't know about you, but the change I want is not just a change of the
current male faces we have to another lot. Unfortunately we keep getting the
same type almost everywhere!
Look around you, in the private sector, in NGOs and even in the
church, these are the men, (and a few women), in whose hands we have
entrusted our lives and those of our children. I have sat on boards of
various organisations where the most important item on the agenda is always
the size of the vehicle to be bought for the director. If it's not that it's
the amount of allowances to be paid, or the benefits that the leaders want.
The substantive issues fall under "any other business". The value system
that drives us is derived from the same place as a Mugabe or a Chiyangwa's.
Sad, but true.
In feminist circles we say the personal is political. For me any
person with kahupenyu kakabvanyanguka - whose life is in tatters - has no
business wanting a leadership position so s/he can mess around with anyone
How do we expect a person who by age 40 has no idea where they are
going personally, has a messy domestic life and lots of issues with their
wife/wives/husbands/children, to lead a small organisation? Never mind lead
an entire nation? How do we expect a woman who is abused at home to suddenly
stand up and represent Zimbabwe at the United Nations? Complete with the
black eye she got last night?
In the same breath, anyone who has bad personal finance-management
skills or lack thereof should never be entrusted with the national treasury.
Same goes for the Johnny came-lately who are on a fast track to primitive
accumulation. They are the types we see holding three cell-phones - when he
can only speak into one at the same time! Or building a 15 bed-roomed
house - as if they are competing with the Duke of York?
But we never seem to learn.
It is the thieves and crooked fellows that we already knew as having
run down a small NGO that become the Ministers of tomorrow. Then we get
surprised when they go on personal shopping sprees with their Ministerial
budget? If they kept mismanaging ka-tuck shop, keku Highfield why do we
think they will suddenly become serious members of Cabinet? As for abuse of
power and privilege, lets not even start. When they go crazy bossing around
a small staff of six, what if they suddenly find themselves in charge of a
It has often been argued that power corrupts. But I tend to think that
it starts in very small and often private spaces, with abuses of power that
go unchallenged. By the time one becomes a Mugabe, ah anenge abva kure! It
starts elsewhere. How many of us have relatives in our little families of
whom we say, "mmm ava havatangwi ava!" (you can't deal with this one). And
we all throw our hands up in despair at this "mountain" of a person that
no-one dares mess with.
S/he is often a very megalomaniac, violent, paranoid, unaccountable to
anyone, and just dictates "zvepamusha pano", what should happen in this
home. This person moves into the public sphere to occupy some fairly minor -
but powerful post.
A good example is a policeman. Give that family dictator a truncheon
and that funky police hat and you have an Idi Amin. Woe betide us all if
s/he becomes a superintendent of a police station in Magunje! Everyone in
the family, village, district etc will know kuti kwauyiwa.
So it just doesn't start with a very big post, like the presidency. It
starts in whatever spaces we are. Stories have been told of one current
Cabinet Minister whose first act of "duty" was to buy himself new furniture,
new curtains and ordered two new direct telephone lines. The man needed to
line up his power tools to be felt. Having known that man and where he comes
from, this story is no surprise. He is the kind of man even in his rural
village, always wants everyone to know that he has a doctorate, and wants to
be greeted as "Doctor". Now he is "Honourable Doctor". As far as the fellow
is concerned, a Cabinet post is about enlarging his bank account and
standing kwaChivi, not about improving you and I's lot.
I also remember working with one woman who, on her first day at work
walked out of the office because the size of her office was too small. "Is
this an office for a director?" she fumed. She had to be cajoled to return
to work. These are the people we keep pushing up leadership ladders as if we
don't know them.
There are so many Mugabes among us. The only difference is that baba
vaChatunga occupies a higher post than we all do. I have heard people
comparing Morgan Tsvangirai's leadership capacity, (or is it potential?) to
Mugabe's. Without campaigning for the man, I wonder what the STANDARD they
are holding him against is as lofty as it sounds. Other than speaking Oxford
English and having the art of eating cucumber sandwiches, I don't know what
is so high about the leadership values and standards Mugabe has set. The job
description painted above fits Mugabe to a T!
And if that is the standard that Tsvangirai or anyone else must
surpass - that's a mighty low order!
Brothers call Mugabe a hypocrite!
americannotes By Ken Mufuka
THE TransAfrica Forum sent a respectful letter to President Robert
Mugabe on June 3. On June 6, the president of Africa Forum sent another
letter to all members explaining why that organisation has taken an
oppositionist position to Mugabe's so called reforms in Zimbabwe. But first
let me mention two unrelated items that are causing grave concern among
The Reverend Cannon Gene Robinson of the Episcopal Church (Anglican)
in New Hampshire has been elected bishop of that diocese.
The trouble with Bishop Robinson, (who has not yet been consecrated)
is that 20 years ago he left his dear wife (till death do us part) and their
two lovely girls because he had fallen in love with a man. As you can
imagine, all hell has broken loose.
The second issue is a statement by Ahmad Chalabi, a supposedly
American Iraqi puppet who has lived in London during the last 20 years.
Chalabi says that Saddam Hussein is still alive and has been paying young
Iraqis bounty for every American killed. There is evidence that those caught
so far have been found with American money. The US government has conceded
that if this is true, and the list of Americans killed after "victory"
continues to grow, then there is more trouble than President George Bush
ever dreamed of in his worst nightmare.
We will keep an eye on this story for you.
Now the real story of this letter.
Brother Randal Robinson organised TransAfrica Forum in the sixties in
response to the continuing cruel treatment and oppression of blacks in South
Africa. Robinson was a gifted Harvard trained lawyer, who forewent a
corporate legal career in order to start this organisation. Its great
success first came when in 1984 they forced President Ronald Reagan (against
a veto) to sign the Comprehensive Anti-Apartheid Act.
Nelson Mandela's freedom came in 1991 and together with the NAACP and
other groups, they take credit for it as well. I have investigated this in
order to show that they have an impeccable record in fighting for black
On the June 3, they wrote a letter to President Mugabe saying three
things. They urged him to "create a transition to democratic rights for all"
Zimbabweans as a matter of urgency. Secondly, and this is important as a
self-fulfilling prophecy. "The situation in Zimbabwe is crumbling quickly."
Thirdly, they answered Mugabe's oft-repeated argument that his
government is doing the legal thing in their treatment of opposition
offenders. "Repressive and violent policies (not withstanding their
legality) does not render them justifiable or moral because of their
The last point is very important in that everywhere, whether in South
Africa or under the Jim Crow laws in the US, whites, who then said that they
were following the law, wickedly oppressed blacks. The retort by Martin
Luther King was that the faithful must refuse to obey wicked laws, even
under threat of death. The brothers are on familiar territory.
Forum President Bill Fletcher, also a Harvard lawyer, wrote a second
letter to his members who wanted a full explanation as to why a brother had
publicly rebuked a brother. Generally, this is taboo in black politics.
Brother Fletcher says that the "decision to issue a statement strongly
condemning the current regime of Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe was far
from easy. President Mugabe (was) a hero of mine and I had been a strong
supporter of the Zimbabwe National Union during the liberation war." Brother
Fletcher probably speaks for many thoughtful blacks in the US. President
Mugabe had the whole world in his palm when he started. Many blacks
supported his policies, including land reform.
Brother Fletcher goes straight to the heart of the matter.
President Mugabe, he says, is a hypocrite! Wow.
"The rhetoric of the Mugabe regime is disconnected from the actual
evolution of the country post independence. Its militancy (the rhetoric)
stands in opposition to many of the practices that he himself followed in
the years subsequent to the Lancaster Agreements of 1979. (If) the truth be
told, (President Mugabe) supported the structural adjustment policies
insisted upon by the IMF and World Bank. It was the backward anti-people
policies of his government that resulted in the development of a major
opposition in the late 1990's."
Admittedly, President Mugabe has convinced many people in the US that
his land reform was aimed at redressing past wrongs by colonial regimes.
Fletcher says that in fact, "the land issue was largely ignored by
President Mugabe's government until a mass opposition movement arose that
challenged his, then undisputed leadership role." And then Fletcher goes for
the kill. He says the land reform was no reform at all. "It benefited not
the mass of agricultural workers and farmers, but instead first and foremost
the party faithful of Zanu PF, the ruling party."
The danger is not that Mugabe will now fall prey to the opposition
party in Zimbabwe. Now wait to hear this. President Bush and Britain's Prime
Minister Tony Blair are born again imperialists.
"Despite many other human rights situations that have been far worse,
both within Africa as well as globally, Bush and Blair have called attention
to the alleged plight of the white farmers and their loss of land. We
(blacks) share nothing in common with the politics or sentiments of Bush and
These two imperialists may "choose to opt for a military intervention
(covert or overt) in Zimbabwe in order to install a regime more favourable
to their imperial ambitions. Such a step would have a catastrophic impact
Mugabe gave an interview to a South African radio last week. In this
interview he said that if Zimbabweans can only hold fast, and practise
frugality and satisfy only "their simple needs" (his words) an economic
recovery in the "shortest possible time" (his words) was possible.
During the Sisulu funeral visit,
Mugabe had his limousine flown to South Africa for his enjoyment while
his wife spent $100 000 Rand in four days. With such simple needs, recovery
is not round the corner.
State targets civil society bodies
By Caiphas Chimhete
PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe, determined to silence dissenting voices
against his government's gross human rights abuse and economic
mismanagement, has widened his spectrum of targets to include civil society
organisations involved in democracy and governance issues in the country,
analysts have said.
They said over the past two years, the government has cobbled laws
designed to restrict the operations of civil society organisations, and in
some cases threatening workers of such organisations with unspecified
actions in a bid to silence or weaken them.
In a show of desperation, the government has also formed dubious
non-governmental organisations (NGOs) that "praise-sing" Zanu PF's failed
policies, responsible for the current socio-political and economic mess.
The director of Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace (CCJP),
Tarcitus Zimbiti, conceded that the Zanu PF government had made it
increasingly difficult for civil society organisations to operate in the
Zimbiti said the Public Order and Security Act (POSA) and the Private
Voluntary Organisation (PVO) Act made it almost impossible for civil
organisations to carry out education awareness campaigns, particularly in
the rural areas, which are a domain of the ruling Zanu PF party.
"To organise a workshop in rural areas, lets say on voter education,
you need clearance from the police and the Electoral Supervisory Commission
"After that, you also need to be cleared by the local headman as well
as the Zanu PF leadership in that area. This is particularly prevalent in
Mashonaland Central province," said Zimbiti.
Mashonaland Central Province, where the first group of the monstrous
youth brigade was trained at the Border Gezi Training Camp, is notorious for
"If you tell a rural gathering that people have a right to choose
their leaders, you will be asking for trouble from the headman, Zanu PF and
even the police," said Zimbiti.
The chairman of Crisis in Zimbabwe, Brian Raftopolous noted that the
current assault on civil society organisations, including the church, was
part of Mugabe's widespread attacks on all opposition voices, which started
in 2000 after the rejection of the government-sponsored draft constitution
in a referendum.
"The government has enacted laws to thwart opposition voices. Apart
from that State security agents threaten civil organisations, workers with
death, particularly in the rural areas," said Raftopolous, whose
organisation champions democracy in the country.
The government has flighted adverts on the national television and in
newspapers, labelling civil organisations, including the church, as agents
of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) working to undermine
As a direct result of the restrictive laws and intimidations, several
civil organisations have either closed or restricted their operations to
projects that do not put the government's undemocratic tendencies and human
rights record into the spotlight.
The laws have seriously hampered the operations of such organisations
as Amani Trust, the Legal Resources Foundation, Transparency International
Zimbabwe (TIZ), the National Constitutional Assembly (NCA) and the Zimbabwe
Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU), CCJP as well as church organisations.
The government last year forced the closure of Amani Trust, which
provided support for victims of political torture and organised violence,
after the organisation had released a documentation on rape cases at
national youth training camps.
Amani Trust director Tony Reeler, who has since relocated to South
Africa, was labelled an "MDC puppet" and threatened with death.
Ironically, Amani formed in 1993, initially provided assistance to
former freedom fighters suffering from trauma and it also gave testimony to
a government commission investigating war veterans' compensation claims in
The Legal Resources Foundation, which gives legal advice to the
under-privileged, has substantially changed the content of its programmes on
the constitution and the declaration of rights in 2002 after intimidation.
"Similarly, the Association of Women's Clubs (AWC) decided to formally
halt its programmes on voter education, women's legal rights and human
rights issues because of fear of intimidation," said a recent report by the
Human Rights Watch, an international human rights watchdog organisation.
Offices of the NCA, a coalition of civil organisations, have on
several occasions been subjected to arbitrary police searches "for
As he widens his spectrum of targets, Mugabe's repressive hand has
also been extended to the church in his political quest to close democratic
space in the country.
The Human Rights Watch said the religious community in Zimbabwe has
split between groups openly critical of the government's human rights record
and those that are "muted" in their criticism.
The organisation said there was deepening crisis in the church as
economic conditions worsened in the country as a whole and attacks by state
agents and Zanu PF supporters against pastors in the rural areas continued.
Commuter omnibus operators cash in on fuel shortages
By Valentine Maponga
THE move by the government to help ease transport difficulties faced
by urban commuters as a result of the current fuel shortages by designating
a number of filling stations for the exclusive use of commuter omnibus
operators is proving a boon for some of the transporters - drivers and
conductors are now themselves trading the commodity on the thriving black
A snap survey by The Standard revealed that many commuter bus
operators were no longer ferrying people after filling their vehicles,
preferring instead, to sell the petrol at rates far above the government
stipulated pump prices of $450 per litre of leaded petrol and $200 per litre
"I do not see the reason why I should be driving people around making
less money when I can reach my target in less than an hour through selling
fuel," said one emergency taxi driver identified only as Themba.
"The money, which we are getting from commuting, is not enough for our
expenses and I think the fares being paid by commuters need to be revised,"
Commuter transport operators hiked their fares following fuel price
increases of about 300 percent announced by government in March, but the
government reacted by pegging the fares lower, a move they claimed is
driving them out of business.
Some omnibus owners are finding the illegal trade in fuel an
unexpected boon as they say traditional costs such as the maintenance of
vehicles were now greatly reduced because they no longer travelled long
distances to ferry passengers.
"I now do not have any problems in maintaining my vehicles because
they cruise less distances and this way they make much more money since
there are no extra costs involved except just getting to the fuel queue,"
said one owner who refused to be named.
The preference by minibus operators to trade in the scarce fuel made
easily available to them through the new legislation, has left many
thousands of commuters stranded while others are now being forced to walk to
work or travel long distances on the back of open trucks.
It is now common on Zimbabwean roads to see smartly dressed office
workers, both male and female, perched precariously on the back of open
lorries that are taking advantage of the void left by minibuses to ply the
lucrative township routes.
Meanwhile, some fuel stations in Bulawayo have since last week been
selling petrol at the black market price of between $1 200 and $1 400 a
litre, following a trend that started in Harare, alleging that they are
already importing the rare commodity on their own.
Most garages that had fuel throughout last week and the beginning of
this week were selling both diesel and petrol for between $1 200 and $1400 a
litre, The Standard established.
Garage workers said employers were already importing the fuel from
Botswana while some said it was coming from South Africa.
"We buy the fuel in Botswana and South Africa using Pulas and Rands;
that is why we are selling both petrol for $1 200," said one garage employee
who preferred to speak on condition of anonymity. "We can not sell the fuel
at the government controlled price but our customers understand the
predicament we are in and are very supportive of our endeavour to bring them
Cellphones aid Bulawayo conmen
BULAWAYO - Mobile technology has frustrated the recent
clampdown on the flourishing currency black market here which is now
thriving because money changers no longer meet in the streets, but use
cellphones to make deals.
In fact, the police blitz has helped push up prices of the American
greenback, which this week was selling at about $2 000 to one US unit.
"The US$ is currently at Z$1 800, the Pula at Z$325, Rand at Z$225
whilst the UK Pound is trading at $2 650 and the rates increase in the
middle of the month," said a dealer who declined to be named.
With local banks suffering a drought of foreign currency, the daily
arrests of hundreds of money changers in the country has not deterred the
forex dealers from operating as most of them are now using cellphones to
conduct business with their clients, instead of congregating on certain
"Instead of standing on street corners as we used to do, we now
operate through the use of cellphones where our clients phone us and we
travel to their offices to conduct transactions," said one Bulawayo forex
dealer known only as Siphiwe.
Some foreign currency dealers who spoke to The Standard said the fines
imposed by police for offences of dealing in hard currency were as little as
$5 000 and therefore easy to pay.
"This is the most lucrative industry in the country right now and we
cannot be deterred by spending one night in cells and then paying $5 000,"
said another money changer.
"$5 000 is not even an eighth of what we make, so it is a risk we have
to take in order to survive," she added.
The black market area here, also known as the "World Bank", now has a
diversity of clients ranging from ordinary citizens with a few dollars to
change, right up to big commercial banks who are buying foreign currency
from the illegal money changers every day.
"Banks are actually approaching us for foreign currency, demanding
large amounts of Rands and US dollars," Sibongile Ncube, a foreign currency
"We are doing the country a service by being the mediator when it
comes to foreign currency. People would rather trade their money with us
than with banks because that system has failed," she said.
She added: "Police can arrest us because it is their job to do so and
we respect it, but it is also our job to provide Zimbabweans with a
lucrative exchange rate for their money."
Ncube said police continued to raid their street sites and arrest
anyone they suspected to be a foreign currency dealer before detaining them
at the central police station for the whole day.
"Citizens who work down town Bulawayo are at greater risk of being
arrested with us because when police come they take whomever they suspect is
a money dealer," said Ncube.
The striving black market in foreign currency has also led to the
increase in conmen taking advantage of the illegal exchange of money to
A number of Bulawayo residents have complained that they had been
conned of money when trying to exchange foreign currency.
Conmen who prey on those exchanging foreign currency, especially the
man in the street just changing a few American dollars or British Pounds,
deceive customers by placing a few real Zimbabwean dollars on top and then
stuffing the rest with newspaper cuttings.
Arresting Tsvangirai, Mugabe's worst blunder
I wish to correct a number of political
commentators who suggested
that the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) had failed to show massive
organised support for imprisoned leader Morgan Tsvangirai (The Standard
When a person is not deeply injured either by insults or physical
action, they normally react almost with automatism. This is clearly shown by
people fighting over minor issues or misunderstandings. However, if one lost
their loved one in death by car accident for instance, the actual grieving
and sense of loss will only come a few weeks later, usually after burial.
The normal thing is that when a deeply painful event such as the
arrest of Morgan Tsvangirai and his subsequent parade in shackles occurs,
the calm visible immediately after is one just before the storm. For the
first time in the history of the struggle for change by democratic forces in
Zimbabwe, Mugabe has made his biggest miscalculation and mistake by
Here in the UK, MDC members and supporters have been keeping the phone
lines busy on the issue, some from S.Africa and and those back home have
done like wise. They all agree on one thing. That there is now need to use
the kind of means that will render any future attempts on talks null and
void, as well as closing chances of amnesty for the looters and murderers
running the defunct Zanu PF regime.The anger is so intense that the
illegitimate government will live to regret a lost opportunity to deal with
a democratic and non-violent Tsvangirai.
The next phase will be that of using unspoken language which the
militant 'military old man' Mugabe will understand. There is no doubt in
everyone's mind that the only sacrifice left is the one with a potential to
be the ultimate. Change in Zimbabwe can no longer be left to chance or
nature. Green Bombers beware, because your pay master Bob the Builder may
fly away leaving the lot of you at our disposal.
Now is the time, whether one is within or without the country.