Jun 24th 2004 |
HARARE From The Economist print edition
Why Zimbabwe's leader
wants to drive away his middle class and keep a frightened and starving
peasantry in his thrall
YOU have to admire Robert Mugabe's chutzpah.
First he makes life so miserable for Zimbabweans that busloads of them
emigrate. Then he asks the fugitives to send money home to prop up the regime
that drove them out in the first place.
Gideon Gono, the governor of
Zimbabwe's central bank, has been on a world tour to persuade expatriate
Zimbabweans to wire money home using official channels. Most remittances are
currently sent through informal channels. For example, a Zimbabwean nurse in
London pays money into a friendly businessman's offshore account, who then
asks his cousin in Bulawayo to pay an equivalent amount, in Zimbabwe dollars,
to the nurse's mother. Such dodges are popular because until recently, if you
sent money through a formal bank, the government confiscated most of it, by
means of a rigged exchange rate.
Mr Gono has made official channels
more attractive by reducing the amount the government confiscates, and by
cracking down on illegal foreign-exchange dealing. So some Zimbabweans may
heed his call. But most won't, because that would mean giving the regime
information about their finances, and no sane person would trust this regime
with such information.
Since he took over the central bank in December,
Mr Gono has endeared himself to Mr Mugabe, largely because of his success in
curbing inflation (see article). Last month's official rate was "448.8%",
down from over 600% late last year. But the real economy remains in disarray.
The white farmers who used to provide the largest chunk of Zimbabwe's exports
have almost all been driven off their land. GDP has shrunk by one-third in
Confidence cannot return unless private property rights are
respected. There is no prospect of this with Mr Mugabe in charge. This month
his land minister floated the idea of abolishing all freehold land tenure
and replacing it with leases of up to 99 years. The government
then back-pedalled a bit, though Mr Mugabe probably preferred the
unadulterated plan. If all land belonged to the state, he could dole it out
to his supporters and take it back if they proved disloyal.
sees property-owners as a threat. Many middle-class Zimbabweans (most of them
black) have irritating ideas about democracy, and have the means to make
themselves heard. They bankrolled the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC),
an opposition party that would have won the last two national elections, had
they not been rigged. Mr Mugabe feels safer when whites and white-collar
blacks leave the country: then they cannot vote.
He pushes them out in
various ways. Employing thugs to break their fingers is one. Confiscating
private property is another. But he also uses more subtle techniques. For
example, last month, his government ordered the country's private schools to
reduce their fees or close. Armed police were sent to enforce the edict, so
most schools complied. Given rapidly rising costs, this guarantees that
standards will fall, which will prompt more middle-class parents to emigrate.
One headmaster says that when he protested to the education ministry, he was
told to raise extra cash by ploughing up playing fields and planting
The state education and health systems, the proudest achievements
of Mr Mugabe's early years in office, are imploding. Only four years ago,
primary school enrolment was 95% for boys and 90% for girls. Last year it was
67% for boys and 63% for girls. Zimbabweans are so broke that they cannot
afford state school fees of $4 a term. Infant mortality has doubled in a
decade, and life expectancy has fallen from 60 in 1992 to a projected 35 next
The Mugabe miracle As recently as 1997, Zimbabwe was
twice as rich as the median sub-Saharan nation. Now it is crashing towards
the norm. In keeping with this theme, Mr Mugabe is trying to replace the
relatively sophisticated, pluralistic society that Zimbabwe once had with a
stereotypical African patronage system. To enter university or to find a job
as a teacher, it now helps enormously if you first join Mr Mugabe's youth
Mr Mugabe wants a smaller, more dependent middle class. And he
is content for the rest of the country to revert to subsistence farming. He
claims that his policy of taking land from white farmers and giving it to
blacks has been a success: that there will be a bumper harvest this year and
so Zimbabwe will need no food aid. Actual crop-production statistics are now
a state secret, so the picture is foggy, but a short drive through
the countryside reveals vast swathes of barrenness. The World Food
Programme estimates that 4.8m people-more than a third of the population-will
need food aid this year.
Incognito, your correspondent spoke to some
peasants in a ruling-party stronghold in Mashonaland, who said that if there
was going to be a bumper harvest this year, they had not seen any signs of
it. All agreed that life was growing swiftly harder, and most thought the
government was to blame. But-and this is why Mr Mugabe prefers peasants to
middle-class folk-they all said they would vote for the ruling party,
ZANU-PF. Why? "Because we fear that if we turn against the government, we
will be victimised," said one.
A general election must be held by early
next year. The regime is stockpiling imported maize. With donors barred from
the country, it hopes to use its monopoly of the national staple to reward
its supporters and starve the opposition. The media are shackled, the leader
of the opposition is on trial for his life, and the judiciary has been so
thoroughly nobbled that the MDC's lawsuits contesting the results of the last
election won't be processed before the next election is held.
will it end? In English, for an international audience, Mr
Mugabe occasionally hints that he wants to retire. But in Shona, his native
tongue, he makes it clear that he does not. The man who was until recently
tipped to succeed him, Emmerson Mnangagwa, has been swatted down: several of
his associates have been arrested on corruption charges. Mr Mugabe does not
want any of his lieutenants getting too big for their jackboots.
Africa's president, Thabo Mbeki, told President George Bush last year that
the Zimbabwean crisis would be solved by now. But he has made no serious
effort to resolve it. At times, he has claimed that the MDC and ZANU-PF were
in secret talks, though both parties denied it. He refuses to put any
pressure on Mr Mugabe to respect the will of his own people, though he could.
"South Africa could end the madness in a week, without a shot being fired,"
fumes a black Zimbabwean businessman in Johannesburg, "simply by threatening
to cut off the electricity and blockade the borders. But they won't."
[ This report does not
necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations]
24 Jun 2004 (IRIN) - Health workers in Zimbabwe have called for increased
efforts to stem the high number of AIDS-related deaths in the armed
The recently released 2003 Zimbabwe Human Development Report
claimed that HIV prevalence in the armed forces far exceeded the general
population infection rate of 24.6 percent in the general population, and
three-quarters of soldiers died of AIDS within a year of leaving the
A UNAIDS survey undertaken in 1999 showed that 55 percent of the
then 36,000-strong army were HIV-positive.
"In the military, young and
socially inexperienced people are recruited and trained to be fearless and
aggressive. While this is good for war situations, research shows that the
youthful soldiers carry this approach into civilian life and into their
private sexual interactions," the report noted.
The study was compiled
by the Poverty Reduction Forum and the Institute of Development Studies, with
support from the UN Development Programme.
Sostain Moyo, director of the
Pan-African Treatment Access Movement (PATAM), told IRIN the high incidence
of HIV/AIDS in the army could be attributed to how the military
"Even though there is no concrete research done to prove it,
the military would tend to be [more] vulnerable [to HIV infection] because of
the manner in which soldiers operate," said Moyo. "They are highly mobile,
and this exposes them a lot [to possible infection]."
was compounded by a lack of HIV/AIDS intervention programmes in the army
structure. "The army needs voluntary counselling and testing centres.
[Soldiers] would be counselled on how to live positively and what they can do
to avoid passing the virus on to other people," Moyo suggested.
can be screened if the practice is guided by the goal to fight HIV/AIDS in
the army. It [testing] should be regular [and] extended even to those who
have served for some time. Screening, however, becomes meaningless if it is
meant to stop some people from joining in the military, since this promotes
discrimination and stigmatisation," he said.
Civil rights groups have
opposed compulsory testing, citing the infringement of privacy.
health ministry has pointed out that soldiers were put at greater risk of
contracting the virus by the very nature of military operations:
military camps, where soldiers are posted on missions or for training, are
often situated in remote and poor areas; and the camps are seen as
high-income areas by the local communities, particularly female sex
A military base can have as many as 1,000 soldiers, of which
most reside in single quarters or are placed with civilian families in
"Research suggests that members of the military
[guarding borders] are offered sex in return for allowing vendors and other
traders to pass through [customs] without paying duty," the report
Twenty-three year old James Guyo (not his real name), a Lance
Corporal with the Zimbabwe National Army, told IRIN that frequent posting
away from the base was one of the major factors contributing to the high HIV
infection rate among soldiers.
Soon after graduating four years ago,
Guyo was posted to the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), when Zimbabwe was
part of a Southern Africa Development Community effort helping the besieged
DRC government repel a rebel takeover.
"As you can imagine, like
hundreds of my colleagues, I was excited to be in the bush for the first time
- more so because I had never ventured outside our borders," he
"The war experience was horrible, but we found our solace in the
brothels of Kinshasa [DRC's capital]. Also, it was my first time employed,
[and] I found it gratifying to spend my money on women of the DRC, maybe also
as a way of beating homesickness," Guyo told IRIN.
He admitted that he
had unprotected sex and contracted a sexually transmitted disease while in
the DRC, but thought it unlikely that he had contracted HIV, as he had not
experienced any symptoms of infection since returning home.
more than 10 of his friends have died of AIDS-related illnesses over past two
years, Guyo was reluctant to undergo an HIV test.
"Even if the army would
set up its own testing centres, I do not see myself going there. Being tested
or not, what difference does it make when you are going to die? After all, as
a soldier, I was taught not to fear death," he told IRIN.
The recent claim by Tony Blair, the British prime minister, that he
is working with Zimbabwe's opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC),
has sparked new discord in the Southern African country.
ruling Zanu(PF) party says it wants a probe into Blair's statement saying his
efforts to force a regime change in Britain's former colony continue with the
cooperation of MDC leaders. Zanu(PF) legislators also want action taken
against leaders of the opposition who are found to be involved in the scheme
to oust Robert Mugabe (80) the president of Zimbabwe, who have been in power
since independence in 1980.
They accuse Welshman Ncube, the MDC
Secretary-General, of campaigning for more sanctions against the country.
Ncube is quoted in the media as saying the European embargo against the
Zimbabwean government officials should be expanded to include people playing
a leading role to maintain what he calls the illegal rule of Mugabe and
His comments come after a campaign by Gideon Gono, the Reserve
Bank Governor, calling on Zimbabweans living abroad to send their
foreign currency back home and help revive the crumbled national economy.
Jonathan Moyo, the information minister, says the relationship between the
statements by Blair and Ncube clearly show the MDC is a British puppet,
despite vehement denials by the labour-backed group.
He also says all
media houses and non-governmental organisations supporting the opposition
party fall under the same class of being British tools against his
government. Blair recently announced that his administration needed to give
every chance to unnamed people in South Africa and the rest of Southern
Africa to force a regime change and bring what he calls salvation to
Zimbabweans. Britain and Zimbabwe fell out with each other after the former
colony decided to grab white-owned farms to resettle millions of landless
Maputo - Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe on Thursday said he
would not allow "former imperialists" to monitor parliamentary elections in
his country next year, a declaration which drew a sympathetic response from
a summit of 79 poor and developing countries.
Mugabe blasted British
Prime Minister Tony Blair for questioning the state of human rights, freedom
and democracy in its former colony and said that is why he would only invite
monitors from Africa and developing nations.
"Eleven years I spent in
prison fighting for democracy, for one man, one vote and for us now to hear a
voice from London saying there is no democracy, no freedom, no human rights
observed in Zimbabwe is very offensive and repulsive," Mugabe said.
said such statements from "narrow-minded little Blair" had made Harare decide
"that our elections, whenever they are held, must be supervised by people of
our region, people of Africa, people in the Third World.
"We will invite
all of you but we will not allow erstwhile imperialists to come and judge our
election," he said to sustained applause at the concluding session of a
summit of the African, Caribbean and Pacific group of nations in the
Mozambican capital Maputo.
Mugabe under EU sanctions
President Joaquim Chissano told a media conference after the end of the
summit that Mugabe's message had elicited a lot of sympathy.
said Mugabe had "taken advantage of the situation to clarify his position...
many heard that message favourably and with a great deal
Mugabe, who threw out European Union observers before
the 2002 presidential elections after accusing them of meddling, is under
sanctions from the EU.
In February, EU interior and justice ministers
adopted without debate an extended list of 95 Zimbabwean officials -
including Mugabe - who are banned from entering EU countries and a freeze on
The EU sanctions, which have entered a third year, also
include an embargo on supplies of arms and military equipment to Zimbabwe.
The United States has imposed similar restrictions against the
Chissano said the ACP would try and mend fences between
Zimbabwe, the European Union and the United States.
"We will do all in
our power to see that Europe and the United States resume their good
relations with Zimbabwe" he said.
I struck a blow against the Mugabe regime this
weekend - I pruned my roses.
This may seem a bit facetious but you see -
by pruning my roses and then giving them a shot of good goat manure from
Beitbridge I am signaling to anyone who cares to look, that I am here for the
spring and summer. If for no other reason than to simply enjoy the wonderful
flush of blooms that will follow my winter care.
On the main road to
Harare from Beitbridge - about 60 kilometers from the Bridge, there is a sign
on the side of the road "Kleinbegin - Sam Cawood". Behind that sign is a road
that leads to a farmhouse where Sam Cawood and his wife Janet live. Local
Zanu thugs have invaded them, all they hold dear has been lost to them.
Decades of dedicated cattle breeding has been swept away by the vandalism,
but Sam took the time to go and put his sign back up after it had been
knocked down. The name of the ranch "Kleinbegin" - "small beginnings" says it
What small thing did you do this week to show that you are not going
to just lie down and give up to the thugs and bullies of Zanu PF?
Yesterday 200 young Zimbabweans went to a meeting in Johannesburg scheduled
to be addressed by Gideon Gono. They heckled and jeered and told him to
They told him that until their own rights at home were
respected - they were not going to tolerate his presence, or that of the
Zimbabwe Ambassador at a meeting in a hotel in Johannesburg. He and the
ambassador had to be escorted from the hotel by the Police.
women are in jail in Bulawayo - sitting, singing their songs on a cold
concrete floor, 7 of them with babies, just because they wanted to march in
support of World Refugee Day. They will be both hungry and cold tonight as
temperatures drop to near zero, but their hearts will be warm and their
courage and determination encourage us.
Last Monday the Kidd's, Birgit
and Shane went down to the local MDC office, cleaned it up and painted the
walls - then painted on the walls that this was the "MDC Chimanimani Office".
For their trouble they were beaten - Birgit has stitches in her head and a
dislocated shoulder; Shane was badly beaten about the head. Today they are
back in their home - still determined to carry on with their legitimate
support for Roy Bennett and the MDC in the area.
Last night a small
team went out onto the streets and furtively began putting Zakwana symbols on
lampposts - then quietly disappeared to the fury of the local
Tonight the SW Africa team plus the team at Studio 7 and the
Voice of the People will broadcast news and views to the people of Zimbabwe -
small teams of people who love their country and are just doing what they can
in their own way.
What will you do today and tomorrow to encourage
others to fight on, to spread the word that change is coming. That Zanu is
finished - those who are guilty must prepare for the worst.
fellowship from the Church is preparing to stand with one of our number who
will be in Court shortly - facing charges which any one of us could be facing
- we want him to know he is not alone - we want the authorities to also know
that. His legal fees will be Z$25 million - we need to make sure he is not
alone with that either, and we will.
It could be something very small -
fix the potholes in your road, paint the sign of your house so that all can
see it is not for sale - you are in residence and intend to stay so. Write a
letter to your local Headmaster and encourage him or her to keep up the good
work they are doing. Go to the rugby at Falcon next Saturday - take a packed
lunch and shout support for the team you support. Take your surplus
vegetables to the local old folk's home and ask them to see that they get to
someone who need a bit of help.
Let me tell you - there is no power on
earth so powerful as the combined weight of a united people, caring and
working for each other and to change their country for the better. If you
live outside Zimbabwe then do your part if you care - write to your paper,
your MP, your Church leadership, demand action. Send a small donation to the
nearest MDC Trust Fund or simply to an MDC office in Zimbabwe - small
donations in hard currency go a long way here. Try to do something every week
- every day if you can.
On their own each of these actions is small and
insignificant, but together they will make a roaring torrent which will sweep
away the tyranny and wipe the slate clean for a new beginning. I know we all
want the grand finale - the quick fix, but often that route is not just
dangerous but also destructive. Be on the side of those who are working for a
better life for all Zimbabweans. Support change by changing your own
Where there is despair, let me be an example of
hope. Where there is anger, let me be an example of love and care. Where
there is need, help me to commit the means to do what I can. Where there is
fear, let me be an example of courage and commitment. Where there is no hope,
make my life and my actions an example to others. Where there is injustice
and persecution help me to stand with those so afflicted. Where there is
no vision, let me set an example of faith, expectation
Litany of lies:- virtually from its inception, ZANU(PF) have perfected
the art of hoodwinking all and sundry - to this day they are pulling the
wool over the world's eyes. Three instances over the years come to light,
which does not indicate how few times this evil organisation have a
natural tendency to avoid the truth, but the gravity of the lies is enough
to sicken one to the core; during the liberation war, many a body of a
section commander, "killed in action", contained documentation pertaining to
the fighting skill of the freedom fighter, chronicling major "battles" with
the enemy, where "many enemy troops died, aircraft were shot down and
vehicles destroyed" - in most of these cases, with the numbers involved, the
former colony of Rhodesia would have succumbed in the early to
In 1987 when MNR bandits were causing havoc on our eastern
border, I happened to be employed as a security officer for one of the tea
companies in Chipinge; one very early morning we were awoken by heavy
gunfire. On investigation, the MNR had come into a Zimbabwe army camp (based
there to repel any would-be "invaders") and had actually killed about 8 of
the inhabitants - seen personally by myself and confirmed no longer of
this world; the following morning at first light I went down to the camp and
it was as if nothing had happened - it was spick and span, there was an
air force commander there, together with an army captain and a whole lot
of hangers-on dressed in military kit. I enquired as to what was going on
and was told that there had been a minor skirmish, but no casualties (I
had actually taken one of the casualties to the Mount Selinda hospital,
who subsequently died) - another small lie by a
Closer to what is happening in the
present - whilst we have been arguing as to who the rightful owners of the
land in this fair country of ours are, for the past four years, we have had a
fair amount of precipitation, not at the ideal times, but precipitation
nevertheless, which good farmers, had they been able to, could have managed,
and the nation would have seed for subsequent crops and probably been able to
produce enough food for the survival of many - but no, there is plenty -
where is it coming from? I don't know who is fool enough to give us aid, but
if the number of trucks laden with aid coming through Mozambique is anything
to go by, then the "ruling party" is probably building up another huge lie
and the aid maize will become our "bumper harvest".
Personally, I am
sick and tired of voicing my ignorance by getting involved in writing down
that which irks me, but no one seems to have the balls to put more concrete
ideas across to an ignorant world - the only time we will be taken notice of,
is if we discover oil, or if we start killing each other wholesale. Print
that if you want, but if you don't I'll understand!!!! Go well, see you in
How about sending this letter (or your version of it)
to the following people?
Peter Hain Baroness Amos Jack Straw House
of Lords Tony Blair London Michael Ancram SW1A 0PW Kate
House of Commons London SW1A 0AA C Frizell (UK)
HOW MUGABE WILL RIG THE NEXT ELECTIONS IN ZIMBABWE
primary purpose of my letter is to ensure that members of the UK government
cannot say, "We did not know" when Mugabe rigs (and wins) the forthcoming
elections in Zimbabwe.
As you are no doubt aware, he and his government
have declared that Zimbabwe does not require any food aid this year, due to
the "bumper harvest." There will of course be no such thing, and if anything
the amount of food available will be even less than last year.
be aware that Zimbabwe has approached finance houses in the USA and secured a
large loan, estimated at US$ 700 million. It is an open secret that much of
this money is being used to import maize, the staple food of the nation. At
first sight this may appear bizarre; why pay for the importation of food when
it could be available at no cost from World Food Programme and other
You may also be aware that Mr Gono, the governor of the Reserve
Bank of Zimbabwe is touring the world in an attempt to persuade exiles to
remit their money home through Zimbabwe government controlled channels? This
of course is to help pay for these maize imports.
The plan to rig the
elections is very simple. WFP and other international donors insist that food
is equitably distributed, without Zimbabwe government interference. This is
unacceptable to Mugabe and his party. Therefore, they will do all food
distribution. What will be done is to make sure the voters know that should
they elect a member of the opposition, then there will be no food. As no food
means a slow death by starvation, the outcome is a foregone
After the election Mugabe will crow about his sweeping
"democratic" election victory, which among other things will give him the
two-thirds majority in parliament that he needs to change the constitution to
entrench him and his party in perpetuity.
Whether you feel obliged do
anything to block this move I do not know. I believe that ethics and morality
would demand that you do.
Please could you let everyone on your mailing list know that the
Carnival Cup Polo tournament is to be played this weekend 25th/ 26th &
27th June, at Thornpark Polo Grounds, Harare. There are a lot of
ex-farmers/veteran polo players who would like to know of dates etc. & we
were asked to put the news out to them via JAG.
We would be most
grateful to you if you could do this on behalf of the
23 2004 - "So it's finally come. The government is going ahead
with "imminent" expropriations of farmland in the North West, Limpopo
and Mpumalanga. According to my understanding, this will be the first time
the government will expropriate land without a court order since
the Restitution Act was amended, which caused great consternation
Apparently under intense political pressure to settle
all land claims in the next 18 months, Chief Land Claims Commissioner Tozi
Gwanya puts outstanding claims at around 6 000. When I phoned him up to ask
if the farmers in question were going to be paid a fair price for their
land, Gwanya assured me that market-related prices would be paid (...) but
more worrying though was his comment that agricultural subsidies
farmers received way back when would be "discounted" from the price of the
"We will go into the farm records and those of all the agencies
that could have provided such subsidies and reach a price," Gwanya said.
"Surely, when the subsidies were issued, the farmers in question were never
aware that they would be penalised for it 20 or 30 years later.
what about all the other farmers who received subsidies, but continue to farm
undisturbed? How will they be penalised? "And then, of course, what about
the "subsidies" black farmers effectively receive in the form
of interest-free loans and tax holidays?
"While I completely agree
that these are necessary to get black farmers started, in the interests of
fairness, shouldn't they also be penalised somewhere along the line? "Ag nee
wat, discounting subsidies from the price of commercial farmland sounds
suspiciously like trying to do land restitution - on the cheap. Benoni
farmer Braam Duvenhage, who for the past four years has been traipsing to
numerous courts to try and get resolution about what the government plans to
do with the roughly 50 000 squatters who invaded his mealie
Finally, the Appeal Court in Bloemfontein recently ruled that
the government should either buy the ground from Duvenhage, or find
alternative accommodation for the squatters and reimburse Duvenhage for the
damage they have wreaked, as well as pay his legal costs.
Thoko Didiza, minister of Agriculture and Land Affairs, is contemplating
taking Duvenhage's case to the Constitutional Court. This could extend the
saga by another six months. (...) It strikes one as odd that when farmers do
they same, they're branded as recalcitrant and uncooperative, with
government's solution to the problem being to amend a law so that land can be
expropriated without the irritation of a court case.
As for Duvenhage,
I'm sure he would love to expropriate the squatters without the hassle of
another court case.
[ This report does not necessarily reflect
the views of the United Nations]
BULAWAYO, 24 Jun 2004 (IRIN) - Soya
bean farmers in Zimbabwe have decided to withhold their crops from the market
in protest at prices offered by buyers, Jane Mutau vice-president of the
National Soya Bean Commodity Association told IRIN.
follows a deadlock in negotiations between producers and buyers on setting a
higher purchase price in line with increased production costs.
are demanding a price increase of between Zim $2.5 million (about US $467)
and Zim $4 million (US $747) per tonne, while buyers maintain they cannot
offer anything higher than the current price range of between Zim $1.7
million (US $317) and Zim $1.9 million (US $355).
"There is no way
farmers can dispose of their crop [at] the current prices, because production
costs have ballooned over the years. We will hold onto the crop until buyers
offer competitive prices, as is the case with other crops," said
"A price of Zim $4 million per tonne would give the farmer a
profit, and help in maintaining viability [of] the sector. Most of the soya
bean farmers are not contracted to any buyers - therefore, they cannot be
compelled to sell the crop at the present unrealistic prices," Mutau
The National Soya Bean Promotion Taskforce chairman, Isheunesu
Mpepereki, warned that prices being offered by buyers might force many
farmers to abandon soya production and switch to other crops.
be very difficult to increase production next season because the [current]
one has been affected by high inflation. This season's prices were supposed
be higher, to enable farmers to fund operations into the next season,"
Like most Zimbabwean farmers, soya bean producers
were affected by a widespread shortage of seed and other inputs. Mpepereki
said the soya bean taskforce was urging farmers to reserve some of their best
product to use as seed for the next season to avoid a
Zimbabwe needs between 175,000 and 200,000 mt of soya beans per
year for domestic consumption, but production has steadily declined in recent
years, from over 150,000 mt in 2001 to an anticipated 50,000 mt this
Apart from its industrial uses in cooking oil and soap products,
soya beans are a cheap high-energy food source for ordinary Zimbabweans.
'SELF drivers may curse their luck, stuck on muddy
roads . . . but the good old train will always jog to the dogma of the rails"
prevailed as conventional wisdom at the advent of rail transport when "steel
wheels on steel tracks" were considered safer than all other modes of
Despite the immense advantages of railway transport, the
reality of train crashes and derailments has changed this perception, with
major disasters having claimed hundreds of lives on the tracks and cost the
National Railways of Zimbabwe (NRZ) billions of dollars in damaged customers'
More than a year after the country's worst railway disaster, the
Dete train crash, which killed 50 people and injured 64 others after the
collision of two trains in the Dete area of Hwange in February 2003, the
country's railway system continues to pose grave risks to train
No improvements have been made to the outdated network.
Hwange Magistrates' Court, responsible for the inquest into the causes of the
disaster, which is suspected to have been a result of signal failure and
mechanical fatigue, is yet to release its findings, but safety standards in
the country's railway network have continued to wane.
At a time when
railway systems around the world are revolutionising their operations and
adopting the latest technological innovations like microwave link signalling
systems, modern traction electronics and novel track designs, the network has
Extensive damage to telecommunication systems by thieves
through the years has gone without corresponding replacement and has, in some
cases, destroyed the centralised rail traffic control system.
failures often compel the NRZ to revert to traditional communication methods
like the "wooden staff and paper order", which has been used
between Dete-Thompson Junction and Thompson Junction-Victoria
In areas where signals have been completely vandalised, the NRZ
has resorted to the use of detonators to caution drivers.
parastatal has plans to install a robust and vandal-proof microwave
link system to replace the outdated analogue system.
railway telecommunications systems was most rampant between Bulawayo and
Victoria Falls and most of the stolen aluminium has reportedly been resold as
scrap metal in South Africa.
Instead, the Dete train disaster has been an
epitome of the state in which what had been the backbone of Zimbabwe's cargo
industry finds itself today.
It has begun losing its market share to road
transport in the face of growing demand for haulage services.
workforce has fallen from 21 000 in 1980 to 9 000 due to
antiquated infrastructure and it has seen its losses climbing from $700
million in 2000 to $18 billion in 2003 and $13 billion in the first three
months of this year alone.
Losses have largely been attributed to
operational failures and bad business practices.
Implications of these
operational losses have manifested themselves through the fall of operational
safety standards and inefficiency, which are a direct result of lack of
maintenance and mechanical fatigue.
The parastatal has been failing to
raise revenue to meet its wage bills and absconded payment of statutory
requirements and suppliers, with an operational loss of about 350 percent
The NRZ's generates a monthly total revenue of $20 billion
against a net wage and statutory requirements bill of about $32
At a customer consultative workshop held in Harare a few weeks
ago, NRZ board chairman Mr Sam Geza said the parastatal, which had been
garnished by the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority over outstanding statutory
requirements, stood on the brink of collapse.
"The NRZ is failing to
raise revenue to meet its bills and if this happens again (Zimra garnishes us
again), there will be no NRZ to talk about," Mr Geza said.
the wagons have slowed down due to a collapsing telecommunications network
characterised by multiple "caution" signs that punctuate the greater length
of the track.
Service delivery has fallen significantly due to a
combination of internal leakages and a poor management system.
said the parastatal aimed to eliminate all caution signs and eventually
replace the railway track to ensure high safety standards and enhanced
The parastatal's lack of viability, however, continues to
scuttle prospects of an enhanced operational system.
The Dete stretch,
which still stands as the most unsafe railway stretch in the entire network,
still has ineffective signalling and 15 months after the crash, the board has
only determined that proper signalling "will be put into place".
streches like Victoria Falls-Dete, Somabula-Beitbridge and
Mutare-Harare, which have intermittent signal failures and where the
vandalism of telecommunications equipment was more severe, the NRZ has
deployed security guards who conduct 24-hour surveillance on buildings that
shelter signalling equipment with armed police officers.
UHF (ultra-high frequency) radio communication system has been installed
between Dete and Victoria Falls to facilitate the smooth flow of traffic, but
the network remains a potential source of risk.
Cricket is collapsing fast in Zimbabwe, claims Field
June 24, 2004
Clive Field, the representative of the
sacked Zimbabwe rebel players, has reacted angrily to claims that the
Zimbabwe Cricket Union is doing a good job in promoting the game in the
In a letter to the government-controlled Herald newspaper, Field
was responding to an earlier article which argued that the ZCU should be
praised for their efforts.
"[The writer's opinion] is based on the
fact he has seen cricket stumps standing alongside goalposts in Harare, and
has watched kids playing cricket with a makeshift bat and ball in Highfield,"
Field wrote. "With respect, if this constitutes evidence of progress in
developing cricket at grass-roots level, then we have a long way to go. And
what does this have to do with the ZCU anyway? Kids using a plastic tray to
play cricket is surely not a feather in the ZCU's cap, if anything it is a
sad indictment of the Union's failure.
"Many of the Zimbabweans I have
spoken to involved in the administration of cricket vehemently maintain the
ZCU are not doing enough to direct the considerable funds they have at their
disposal into the right areas.
"Overseas travel by members of the ZCU
board to Australia appears to rank far higher on their priority list than
paying for much-needed cricket equipment. I attended the AGM of a leading
Harare club on Tuesday night and the message I got was clear: cricket is
collapsing fast in Zimbabwe at school, club, provincial and national level.
The ZCU presides over this collapse."
Field went on to accuse the ZCU
of being at fault for its handling of the player dispute. "It must shoulder
at least half of any blame for failing to resolve this dispute. Since it
began, many opportunities have been given, but none have been
He was angered by suggestions in the newspaper that the rebels
had taken their action in support of attempts to cause England's forthcoming
tour to be scrapped. "It demonstrates both an unhealthy over-preoccupation
with Britain, and also suggests these players were prepared to be used as
pawns sacrificing their careers and jobs for political
And he was equally incensed at suggestions that the
players had been bought out of Zimbabwe cricket by overseas financiers who
were trying to sabotage Zimbabwe cricket. "This is offensive," he stated,
pointing out that only four of the sacked players are in the UK, and - with
the probable exception of Heath Streak - will earn less playing club cricket
than they would had they remained as centrally contracted players. "The rest
are currently unemployed, although two have secured temporary jobs. Not only
has this dispute cost them their jobs but it has cost them legal fees. They
have also been prejudiced by loss of income, as a result of not earning match
fees for the Australian and Sri Lankan series. Gratuities which were due from
the ZCU have not been paid. If lucrative offers are being made to them, this
is certainly news to me."
Field concluded by dismissing the
accusations as no more than the continuing "peddling of a species of opinion
which I have heard before, along the lines of some sinister and invisible
white force meeting in clandestine forums like Royal Harare Golf Club to
bring about the end of Zimbabwean cricket.
"These types of opinions are
smokescreens which will appeal to the lesser informed and to seek to deflect
attention away from the facts. There is no ulterior motive on the part of the
players. Their position is clear and has been made known. Politicising this
dispute simply detracts from the merits.
"The only point on which I can
agree with is that cricket has overtaken rugby and athletics as the second
most popular sport in Zimbabwe. But that has less to do with any good work on
the part of the ZCU than the fact both rugby and athletics have followed
hockey down the road to the intensive-care unit, as a result of
maladministration and political interference. Cricket will surely follow
them, and soon only football will be left."
THE Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) this week hinted
that the extradition of fugitive executives wanted on various alleged
economic crimes could hit a snag.
The ZRP spoke as it emerged that the
legal process involved could render such efforts futile.
spokesman Oliver Mandipaka this week hinted there could be
"There are legal connotations to it and this will take
a little bit of time, but they will come back and face the full wrath of the
law," Mandipaka said.
Suspects on the run include ENG director Gilbert
Muponda, who skipped bail, and former NMBZ Holdings executive directors
Julius Makoni, James Mushore, Otto Chekeche and Francis Zimuto, who fled the
country when the net started closing in on them.
Also wanted are three
former directors of ZANU PF companies - Jayant Joshi, his brother Manharlal
and Dipak Pandya, who fled to Britain.
Business magnate Mutumwa Mawere,
who was arrested in South Africa and is on R50 000 bail, is also being sought
by the local police. Mawere has already challenged his
The government has since dispatched a team of experts from
the Attorney-General's Office, the National Economic Crimes Inspectorate and
the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe in intensified efforts to bring Mawere back
Banker Mthuli Ncube, the founder of Barbican, and
Nicholas Vingirai, another banking executive who established Intermarket
Holdings, also flew out of the country in a huff, leaving their troubled
institutions behind. It remains unclear if any charges will be preferred
Legal experts were unanimous this week that it would be an
uphill task to bring the suspects back home, considering the cumbersome
"It is very sad to note that the police are rushing to
arrest before they investigate the allegations. Who would want his or her
rights to be taken and only to be freed after spending 21 days in police
cells?" asked one legal expert who refused to be named.
JOHANNESBURG, June 24 (Xinhuanet) --
South African police announced in Pretoria on Thursday that they have smashed
a "major" international burglary syndicate.
announcement followed the arrest of two Zimbabwean nationals who were alleged
to have sent thousands of rands (hundreds or thousands of dollars) worth of
stolen electrical goodsinto Zimbabwe every month from South
The Zimbabweans, aged between 23 and 25, were arrested
in Soshanguve, north of Pretoria, with an estimated 100,000 rand (about
16,000 US dollars) worth of stolen appliances in their
Police spokesman Inspector Percy Morokane said
detectives wouldbe looking at the possibility that goods were also sent to
other African countries.
He said the possible involvement of
customs officials could notbe ignored, adding they are "looking at bigger
He said the breakthrough started when one of
Pretoria's most wanted criminals, Robert Makalapa, was arrested two weeks
"He is currently standing trial on two counts of murder
and 16 house breaking charges," he said.
investigations led to the arrest of a Tshwane municipalbus driver who
allegedly bought stolen goods from Makalapa along with
"They apparently bought mostly household
appliances stolen fromhouses in Centurion and Pretoria North. A gun or a car
was considered a bonus," said Morokane.
He said the two
Zimbabweans would appear in court on Monday butthat the state would oppose
South Africa is labeled as the capital of crime in the
world due to rampant firearms, high unemployment and no death penalty.
However, South Africans blamed higher crime rate on illegal foreign
Alastair Leithead BBC correspondent on the Zimbabwe
How is Zimbabwe coping with Aids? Better or worse
than its neighbours? The BBC's Alastair Leithead, banned from the country
along with other BBC reporters, has been inside to find out. AIDS is
cutting a swathe through southern Africa, but the economic crisis in Zimbabwe
is placing the country in a terrible position.
Officially around a
third of the adult population is HIV positive, but in reality that figure is
probably a lot higher.
"The pandemic is really affecting so many
people in our country - hundreds are dying in the hospitals on a weekly
basis," said one Zimbabwean aid worker who did not want to be
"There's no comparison to the other countries in southern
Africa. I think we are way, way, way behind.
In fact there are
no drugs and there's nothing in place for Aids victims like there are in
other African countries.
"The anti-retroviral drugs are not
available and you have to pay for testing. Where do people get money? There's
very little education - and not enough being done for HIV/Aids."
I would love to tell you this woman's name, or the name
of the organisation she is running as it is doing some fantastic work, but
she is too scared to draw attention to herself or to be seen to be
In fact none of the doctors, health workers,
non-governmental organisations or people affected or infected by the virus I
spoke to wanted their names published - such is the climate of fear in the
Zimbabwe of President Robert Mugabe.
People who are doing good
work are afraid to talk about it in case it embarrasses the government into
closing them down.
"People struggle to afford transport to reach
the clinics - attendance is going down," said one doctor.
you do see patients then clinically speaking I guess 60, 70, 80% would be HIV
"The young men leave the country, they go to South
Africa, they go to Botswana. If they do have a job they bring back a few
presents for Christmas or for Easter - and they bring back HIV."
Zimbabwe held its first national Aids conference last week, bringing together
most of those people working to combat the virus.
I was not able to
attend, but no doubt it was full of many keen and dedicated people who are
doing all they can to help.
But the state-run radio news report on
the event suggested a government that was somewhat defensive: "The national
HIV/Aids conference entered its third day today with concern expressed at the
way some NGOs involved in HIV and Aids programmes are benefiting from donor
funds at the expense of those infected and affected."
Before I even heard this broadcast, the message from those
very NGOs confirmed the money was not reaching the people - but they blamed
expensive conferences that were mere talking shops.
"A lot of
the conferences I have attended just stopped there," said one Zimbabwean aid
"We have lavish meals and teas and the real money that is
supposed to come directly to these people just hasn't reached
A critical lack of funding in the Zimbabwean health system
has been blamed for the breakdown in care.
One doctor who has
been living in Zimbabwe 15 years has noticed the difference. "There's been an
incredible deterioration in health provision in this country. One lurches
from a crisis to a crisis," he said.
The basics are not even
available for people, but the government's Aids levy - a tax to raise money
to fight the virus - is failing to get through.
"We pay the levy, but at the same time my hospital can't
afford to do an Aids test, which is just basic. Doctors are frustrated and
feel they cannot do anything."
The economic crisis across
Zimbabwe is compounding the problem. This country was once proud of its
health system - but doctors and nurses are leaving to live and work
There are anti-retroviral drugs, but they are still far too
expensive for all but the elite to afford.
Cost means there is
no way Zimbabwe can contemplate the kind of drug treatment programme that
South Africa is embarking upon.
One woman I spoke to found out she
was HIV positive a year ago, but still has not told her family.
"There is so much stigma about the virus here - when I tested positive it was
a shock and I cannot tell people," she said.
Stigma is a problem
throughout southern Africa, but in a country where state repression of
independent media and any voices of opposition is endemic, it makes things
The situation will improve in Zimbabwe, but this
country's political and economic turmoil will leave a legacy for future
generations - at the heart of that legacy will be the damage and the pain
caused by the HIV/Aids epidemic.
DONNY DITHATO Staff Writer 6/24/2004
2:26:51 AM (GMT +2)
THE indifference of the Zimbabwean authorities
is threatening to thwart the dream of Bakalanga-ba-Nswazwi of returning to
Botswana to join their kith and kin.
One of the members of
the organising committee tasked with the repatriation Obed Chilume told Mmegi
this week that they have faced an uphill battle in trying to facilitate the
return of Nswazwi's people because of lack of cooperation from the Zimbabwean
government, particularly the District Commissioner at Plumtree.
Chilume, a former MP said fellow Bakalanga in Zimbabwe were "very anxious to
come back because they are treated as second class citizens in Zimbabwe and
are treated as resident aliens and denied
These Bakalanga are said to be living
in the villages of Jecheni, Dombodema, Majambuzi, Plumtree and the
Bolilimanngwe district. They had sought to return with the body of their late
Chief John Nswazwi but were unable to do so because of the need to comply
with immigration formalities.
Another coordinator of the
repatriation programme and Nkange MP Ambrose Masalila, has told Mmegi that he
has had a meeting with the Minister of Home Affairs Thebe Mogami over the
issue on several occasions. But the response was the same that those
intending to return to Botswana should submit their names to the Zimbabwean
District Commissioner in Plumtree. The DC is supposed to forward the names to
Harare. But so far this has not happened. He says he has also spoken to one
of the committee members responsible for the repatriation on the Zimbabwean
side who visited Botswana recently.
Masalila said the committee
responded by advising that the Nswazwi people from Zimbabwe should follow
protocol by "initiating and making follow-ups with the District Commissioner
in Plumtree with a list of those willing to leave for Botswana".
He said the whole process is tricky because the affected parties are throwing
the buck at each other. Following the impasse, he said that he advised the
committee members from Zimbabwe that the issue is better handled formally
through government to government channels in order to verify that that those
who intend to come back are deserving cases and not chancers.
revealed that the number of people expected to repatriate is estimated at
about 350, up from the initial 202. He said that although there are many
Bakalanga living in Zimbabwe, it is only those from Jecheni and those who
have lived in Botswana before who are expected to return. He said these are
the same people who were accorded a special dispensation by the Botswana
government at independence to return when the boarder was opened for six
months to facilitate the process. He said these people are part of the group
that took up the offer and settled in Marapong in the North East District.
They are part of the group that fled the country around 1948-49 when Nswazwi
was exiled by the colonial administration from Mafikeng after a clash with
the late Bangwato Regent Tshekedi Khama. . The expulsion came after Nswazwi
refused to pay tax and tribute to Khama. The return of the Nswazwi group in
Zimbabwe is rationalised on the basis of correcting the wrongs of
Officials of both the Botswana Ministry of Foreign Affairs
and the Zimbabwean High Commission in Gaborone were unavailable for comment
at the time of going to press.
Reporter Last updated: 06/24/2004 23:04:48 THE trial of Zapu leader Paul
Siwela and George Mkwananzi who are facing charges of contravening section 19
of the Public Order and Security Act (POSA) has been further postponed to
The State, represented by Jeremiah Mutsikindwa made an
application for the postponement saying that the key State and arresting
officer George Ngwenya had a funeral to attend.
Themba Kuwanda granted the State application. It is alleged that the two
accused were invited to a Bulawayo Agenda meeting in December last year to
discuss a circulating tribally-charged 14-page document authored by unknown
The document, among other allegations, claimed Ndebeles were "
hero worshippers of the late Vice President Joshua Nkomo who blindly followed
him until he committed political suicide on December 22, 1987 by signing
the Unity Accord with Zanu PF".
During the discussion of the document,
Siwela is alleged to have said President Robert Mugabe hated the Ndebele
people and the document was a master plan to have them eliminated.
State is also alleging that at the same meeting, it was suggested that the
Ndebele should make demands on the government that all the children of the
Gukurahundi victims should have free education and health facilities for 23
Mkwananzi is alleged to have told the gathering that President
Mugabe created the Fifth Brigade before the dissidents were operational with
the intention of eliminating the Ndebele people. The two are denying
the charges. From Daily Mirror
Harare - Court disputes over 33
parliamentary seats dating back more than three years remain unresolved just
nine months before fresh elections, Zimbabwe's main opposition party
protested in a report released on Tuesday. The High Court has heard only 11
of the 37 challenges filed by the opposition Movement for Democratic Changes
after the last parliamentary poll in 2000. It overturned seven of the ruling
Zanu PF party victories, mainly on the grounds of violence, intimidation and
vote rigging. But in each case the lawmakers filed appeals, which have still
not been heard, and were allowed to keep their parliamentary seats until the
matter was resolved. The long delays underscore the failure of the nation's
judiciary to act impartially, the opposition said in the report on conditions
for March parliamentary elections. It demanded the restoration of rule of law
in the troubled southern African country, including speedy and impartial
hearings of the electoral disputes. "The current delay in hearing electoral
disputes is unacceptable and has no place in a functioning democracy. Justice
delayed is justice denied," the report said. Judicial authorities did
not immediately comment on the report. In the past, court officials
have attributed delays to a heavy backlog in both civil and criminal
The opposition won 55 of parliament's 120 elected seats in the
2000 vote, which independent observers said was deeply flawed. President
Robert Mugabe appoints 30 other lawmakers, giving the ruling party a sweeping
majority it has used to pass stringent media and security legislation. The
opposition report said it aimed to open up debate on the "severe democratic
deficit" at the heart of Zimbabwe's worst economic and political crisis
since independence from Britain in 1980. Some opposition supporters are
demanding the party boycott next year's polls unless its demands for
electoral reform are met. Party officials have been touring the country to
canvass opinion on the issue before making a decision. The opposition's
demands include the formation of an independent electoral commission to
replace the state-appointed commission and directorate that run the polls
with government and military officials. They also want the repeal of security
and media laws that have stifled dissent in the country. Such steps would
have to be taken six months ahead of the elections to be meaningful,
Tuesday's report said. The proposals are based on the Election Norms and
Standards adopted by the parliaments of the Southern African Development
Community, which Zimbabwe's government insists are not binding on the
regional bloc's members. It proposes only minor amendments to the country's