M & C News Jun 4, 2006, 23:11 GMT Harare - Zimbabwe police have been ordered to arrest anyone found selling a
loaf of bread at a new unofficial price of 120,000 Zimbabwe dollars (1.20 US
dollars), state radio said Sunday. The warning came as the battered local currency was reported to have sunk to
new lows against the US dollar on the parallel market, changing hands three
times the virtually-fixed rate of around 101,000 Zimbabwe dollars on the
government's official market. Inflation-weary Zimbabweans woke up to a shock Sunday to find some retail
outlets had increased the price of a staple loaf by at least 50 per cent, up
from around 80,000 Zimbabwe dollars (0.80 US) to between 120,000 and 130,000
Zimbabwe dollars. Though far from unexpected, the price hike was illegal, the radio said. Bread
prices are strictly controlled by President Robert Mugabe's government. According to the report, Zimbabwe's industry ministry 'has since tasked
inspectors and police to arrest those that are found effecting the new prices.'
Inflation here is running at a record 1042.9 percent, the highest in the
world, and Zimbabweans are getting used to fast-changing prices. Mugabe blames
Zimbabwe's economic woes on the West. The new price of a loaf immediately negates the benefits of the 100,000
dollar note introduced this week. The previous highest note, at 50,000 Zimbabwe
dollars, was not enough to buy a loaf at the old price. Now the new bill will
also not be sufficient to buy a loaf. According to the state-controlled Sunday Mail newspaper, the US dollar is now
trading hands at 310,000 Zimbabwe dollars per unit, a 100 per cent slump. The
privately-owned Standard said the rate was around 300,000 Zimbabwe dollars to
the greenback. 'It is now feared that the wide rift between the formal and the parallel
market rate will lead to arbitrage opportunities and speculative behaviour in
the economy, a development that is highly inflationary,' the Sunday Mail said.
Until now, official newspapers have mostly tried to ignore - or at least
condemn - parallel foreign currency market activity. But Sunday's report may
point to mounting pressure on Zimbabwe's central bank governor, Gideon Gono to
let the official exchange rate slide. The Standard said the Zimbabwe dollar's spectacular slide was partly
attributable to heavy liquidity on the market. Economist David Mupamhadzi told the paper that the dollar was falling
'because most investors were shifting their portfolios from the money market to
the foreign currency market.' As a result of the fall in value of the Zimbabwe dollar, the cost of fuel has
now risen to around 300,000 dollars per litre. Just two weeks ago, it was
selling for around 200,000 dollars a litre. Exporters feel the pinch of Zimbabwe's two diverging exchange rates most.
They have to bring their earnings in at the government's official exchange rate
but then must buy supplies needed for production at prices normally determined
by the parallel currency market.
M & C News Jun 4, 2006, 23:11 GMT
Harare - Zimbabwe police have been ordered to arrest anyone found selling a loaf of bread at a new unofficial price of 120,000 Zimbabwe dollars (1.20 US dollars), state radio said Sunday.
The warning came as the battered local currency was reported to have sunk to new lows against the US dollar on the parallel market, changing hands three times the virtually-fixed rate of around 101,000 Zimbabwe dollars on the government's official market.
Inflation-weary Zimbabweans woke up to a shock Sunday to find some retail outlets had increased the price of a staple loaf by at least 50 per cent, up from around 80,000 Zimbabwe dollars (0.80 US) to between 120,000 and 130,000 Zimbabwe dollars.
Though far from unexpected, the price hike was illegal, the radio said. Bread prices are strictly controlled by President Robert Mugabe's government.
According to the report, Zimbabwe's industry ministry 'has since tasked inspectors and police to arrest those that are found effecting the new prices.'
Inflation here is running at a record 1042.9 percent, the highest in the world, and Zimbabweans are getting used to fast-changing prices. Mugabe blames Zimbabwe's economic woes on the West.
The new price of a loaf immediately negates the benefits of the 100,000 dollar note introduced this week. The previous highest note, at 50,000 Zimbabwe dollars, was not enough to buy a loaf at the old price. Now the new bill will also not be sufficient to buy a loaf.
According to the state-controlled Sunday Mail newspaper, the US dollar is now trading hands at 310,000 Zimbabwe dollars per unit, a 100 per cent slump. The privately-owned Standard said the rate was around 300,000 Zimbabwe dollars to the greenback.
'It is now feared that the wide rift between the formal and the parallel market rate will lead to arbitrage opportunities and speculative behaviour in the economy, a development that is highly inflationary,' the Sunday Mail said.
Until now, official newspapers have mostly tried to ignore - or at least condemn - parallel foreign currency market activity. But Sunday's report may point to mounting pressure on Zimbabwe's central bank governor, Gideon Gono to let the official exchange rate slide.
The Standard said the Zimbabwe dollar's spectacular slide was partly attributable to heavy liquidity on the market.
Economist David Mupamhadzi told the paper that the dollar was falling 'because most investors were shifting their portfolios from the money market to the foreign currency market.'
As a result of the fall in value of the Zimbabwe dollar, the cost of fuel has now risen to around 300,000 dollars per litre. Just two weeks ago, it was selling for around 200,000 dollars a litre.
Exporters feel the pinch of Zimbabwe's two diverging exchange rates most. They have to bring their earnings in at the government's official exchange rate but then must buy supplies needed for production at prices normally determined by the parallel currency market.© 2006 dpa - Deutsche Presse-Agentur
June 5, 2006
By ANDnetwork .com
Four foreigners last Friday appeared at the Harare Magistrates’ Court for allegedly conning a Harare businessman of $3 billion.
Two Congolese nationals — Patient Mpiana Ndala and Kinwa Salamu — together with Mohamed Conde and Boting Kawonde, both from the Equatorial Guinea, were formally charged with fraud. Harare magistrate Mrs Faith Mushure remanded the four in custody pending ruling on their bail application today. Responding to the application, prosecutor Mr Servious Kufandada strongly opposed bail saying Conde, Kawonde, Salamu and Ndala were likely to abscond. He added that one of the suspects, Conde, was in possession of five different passports and that the State was due to find out his true identity. Mr Kufandada also argued that they were likely to commit similar offences while out of custody. He said police were still looking for the four’s accomplices who are believed to be in Mozambique. The State alleges that in April the quartet and their accomplices, who are still on the run, approached Mr Konono Konono, the managing director of KK Fisheries in Harare, at his offices along Leopold Takawira Street. They allegedly misrepresented to him that they wanted to start a business in Zimbabwe before requesting Mr Konono to lease them one of his shops. It is alleged that the four told Mr Konono that they had spoiled US$1,5 million that was stashed in a metal box. They added that it came through the Kenyan Embassy. The metal box that was referred to had fake US$100 notes packed together with only five genuine US$100 notes that were also covered in a black powder. It is also the State’s case that the four suspected con-artists asked for accommodation and security of the metal box before the foreign currency could be cleaned. The unsuspecting Mr Konono allegedly booked three bedrooms for the four at a lodge in Waterfalls. After three days, the four went to Mr Konono’s offices in a taxi to show him the alleged metal box. He was also shown a fake document from the United States Federal Reserve Bureau with instructions to clean the notes. One of them deliberately took five genuine US$100 notes from the box and convinced Mr Konono that the money was genuine before requesting for Z$3,5 billion to buy the mercury used to clean the money. Mr Konono was assured of getting a share out of the US$1,5 million and he gave them Z$3 billion intending to pay the balance later. He was left in the custody of the box with fake US dollars. Two days later, detectives from the criminal investigation Department (CID) Serious Frauds section received information that Mr Konono was involved in a foreign currency deal with the foreigners and invited him for an interview. During the interview, detectives discovered that Mr Konono had been conned and organised a trap to arrest Conde, Kawonde and Ndala at West End Clinic in the Avenues. Salamu was apprehended in the same manner at a hotel in the city.
Source : The Herald
In Zimbabwe, the good news is that there is a school in almost every village. The bad news is that it doesn't necessarily matter: Teachers are dying of AIDS, children orphaned by the disease can't afford the school fees and those who can often wither with hunger during class.
It's a grim picture that Nancy and Jim Clark of Lyme have seen for themselves, andthey want to change it. As most charitable organizations abandoned their efforts in the increasingly volatile sub-Saharan nation, the couple, along with the help of Zimbabwe native Prisca Nemapare, created the Zienzele Foundation, which works with the residents of villages devastated by AIDS. The foundation was formed in 2000.
Nancy Clark, director of the Visiting Nurse Association and Hospice of Vermont and New Hampshire, first visited Zimbabwe in 1998. "Once you've gone, you can't not go," she said. "How can you just walk away because of politics?"
The high incidence of AIDS has a ripple effect: The high mortality rate among adults leaves many children to fend for themselves or strains the resources of already impoverished families who take in those orphaned by the disease. The spiral into poverty makes it almost impossible to pay the school fees, which makes it less likely that children will someday be able to find work. This is especially true for young women, many of whom turn to prostitution as a means of supporting their families.
Clark and Nemapare, who was once a professor of nutritional science at Ohio University and now heads the foundation, visited the villages and quickly figured out what the families needed: a sustainable income and access to education. But the economy is in shambles, with unemployment around 80 percent, said Clark, and without money, families can't afford the $10 a year it costs to send a child to primary school, much less the $30 needed for secondary school.Though bereft of money, the villagers, especially the women, are not without skills. Two of those are basket making and sewing, so the Zienzele Foundation -Zienzelemeans "do it yourself" in the language Ndebele - found a way to turn those abilities toward income-generating enterprises. The foundation raised money in the United States, helped the villagers buy what they needed to get started -cloth and sewing machines - and then helped the women hammer out a business plan and budget. The clothes they make are sold to residents of neighboring villages, while the foundation purchases the school uniforms they produce.
The baskets, on the other hand, are sold in places like the Lyme flea market and in stores in the Hanover area. Every year, Nancy Clark, sometimes accompanied by Jim Clark, travels to the villages to buy the baskets, which she brings back in large quantities. The traditionally-crafted baskets start at about $20 apiece.
All the proceeds from the basket sales are used to pay the school fees for orphans, one of whom is Linet Paringire. In 2002, the 12-year-old lost both parents and was left with four younger siblings to care for. An older brother was living elsewhere. Clark met Linet shortly after her parents' death.
"She just cried and cried the whole time we were there," she said.
The foundation made it possible for Linet and her brothers and sisters to go to school by paying the school fees - including for the 4-year-old who was too young to attend, but was allowed to so he could have the daily meal that was provided. Clark said that Linet struggles with school and will most likely switch from an academic education to a vocational one. Whatever path she takes, the school has eased the burden of being a child parent in crushing poverty.
"When we go now and go to the house, all six of the kids come running out of the house to greet us,"said Clark. In addition to tuition, the foundation provides many villagers with such staples as cooking oil, peanut butter, dried fish, sugar and salt.
The triumphs, however, can seem small within the larger context of AIDS in Africa. While the continent's sub-Saharan nations make up only 10 percent of the world's population, they are home to more than 60 percent of the people living with AIDS, according to the World Health Organization. The epidemic has left more than 12 million African children orphaned, according to the United Nations website. UNICEF estimates that there are 1.3 million orphans in Zimbabwe.
But the AIDS crisis isn't the only one crippling Zimbabwe. Like much of Africa, the country's struggles are many. "HIV is killing the country, but so is starvation, so is the political situation, tuberculosis and malaria," said Clark. "Every time I go, I keep thinking, 'It can't get worse.' It keeps getting worse."
Part of the problem, said Clark, is that so many people go untested, including the children left behind. No one knows if Linet and her siblings are infected. Last fall, Clark returned to the country and learned that a 6-year-old girl the foundation had helped get into school had succumbed to the disease that claimed her father. She was the first of the foundation's students to die from AIDS, Clark said.
The crushing numbers, the painful present and the seemingly bleak future, however, haven't dampened the determination of the Clarks, who say they concentrate on what can be done instead of what can't.
Jim Clark, who is an ocean engineer, is working on developing an irrigation system in the village of Berejena,and every year the number of children the foundation sends to school grows.
They have started a scholarship program for especially promising students who want to go on to secondary school. Donors can sponsor a child for $250 a year, which covers tuition, supplies, books and uniforms.
One child whose future looks bright and who seems destined to continue his education is a boy named Kunofiwa, who loves school and excels at math. He is Linet's younger brother and one of the 1,000 children the foundation sent to school last year.
By CAROLYN LORIE
In Zimbabwe, a disaster of one man's making
By Eduardo Cue
HARARE, ZIMBABWE--It has been said that a million dollars doesn't go as far
as it used to. You don't have to tell that to George Sanyika. A gardener in
one of the capital city's major hotels, Sanyika earns 6 million Zimbabwean
dollars a month (equivalent to U.S. $59), barely enough for essentials at
the supermarket. What's more, he is growing poorer by the day in a nation
beset by the worst inflation in the world, running as high as 2,000 percent
a year. On June 1, the government put into circulation the new
100,000-Zimbabwe-dollar bills--worth 98 U.S. cents--just four months after
introducing the 50,000-dollar bill, which no longer even covers the cost of
a loaf of bread. "When I go to the shop, things are up, up, up," he says,
gesticulating skyward with his hands and arms. "When I buy soap, cooking
oil, margarine, and maybe milk, then I've spent my 6 million."
Hyperinflation is only one sign that Zimbabwe, once seen as a star of
post-colonial Africa, is in an economic death spiral. Over six years, the
economy has contracted by nearly half. There is 80 percent unemployment, and
farm output has collapsed. Once a major tobacco and cotton exporter and the
potential breadbasket of southern Africa, Zimbabwe today depends on
international food aid to feed fully half of its 12.2 million people.
How is it that a country that is rich in natural resources, that once
boasted a well-educated workforce and competent government, has fallen so
far? Blame President Robert Mugabe, whose increasingly repressive misrule is
dooming millions here to a life of misery.
When the territory then known as Rhodesia gained independence from Britain
in 1980, after a civil war that killed 30,000 people, Mugabe essentially
followed the economic policies he inherited from Ian Smith's white
minority-rule government--policies that produced solid economic growth until
the late 1990s even as most of the rest of Africa was becoming poorer. For
years, Mugabe, the revolutionary fighter turned independence hero, resisted
pressures from war veterans to deliver on his promises to them. They wanted
generous pensions and the redistribution of rich farmland controlled by
white farmers, a legacy of the country's British colonial past.
But by 1997, with a faltering economy fueling discontent, Mugabe put his own
political survival ahead of his country's economic survival. Faced with
voters' startling rejection in 2000 of proposed constitutional changes to
strengthen presidential powers, Mugabe promoted the violent takeover of
white-owned farms as a way of regaining popular support--and rewarding
political allies, who claimed some of the best land. The number of white
commercial farmers fell from about 4,000 in 1999 to some 400 today. And
after six years, many of the farms are either abandoned, their once fertile
fields overgrown with weeds, or producing a fraction of their former output.
"Zimbabwe's collapse can be traced to a single policy: its fast-track
land-reform program," Prof. Craig Richardson of Salem College argued in a
Dying city. The nation's woes are evident in its second-largest city,
Bulawayo, a pleasant enough place with brightly painted one- and two-story
buildings and wide streets. Now, pedestrians amble in the streets since few
drivers can afford gasoline. Department stores, reasonably well stocked,
draw few shoppers, and restaurants are mostly empty. At the industrial park
on the city's outskirts, plants are running just two or three days a week,
if that, lacking the foreign exchange to import raw materials. "Bulawayo
today is a dying city with a frustrated people and an army of unemployed,
young and old," says Gordon Moyo, the executive director of Bulawayo Agenda,
a civic group. "You still see the beautiful buildings, but inside those
buildings people are hungry."
Official government figures in May put the nation's annual inflation rate at
1,042.9 percent, though private economists say the real figure is close to
2,000 percent, with shoppers forced to carry bags of freshly printed
currency to pay for even the smallest purchases. In contrast, all of
Zimbabwe's neighbors--South Africa, Botswana, Zambia, and Mozambique--are
registering impressive economic growth as a result of free-market policies.
The nation's economic collapse has been accompanied by social decline. The
World Health Organization puts life expectancy for Zimbabwean women at 34,
the lowest in the world. Some 3,000 people a week die of AIDS-related
illnesses despite a recent decline in the spread of the HIV virus. As many
as 3.5 million Zimbabweans, many former farm laborers, have given up hope
and fled to South Africa, Botswana, and Britain. "Zimbabwe is heading toward
a catastrophe," says Bulawayo Mayor Japhet Ndabeni-Ncube. "We urgently need
a leader to come out from the rubble."
Mugabe, however, shows no sign of leaving soon. In fact, there is
speculation he plans to postpone the scheduled 2008 presidential election so
he can remain in power until 2010, when presidential and parliamentary
elections would be held concurrently. What may happen after Mugabe finally
goes is anybody's guess. Many observers predict a fierce internal struggle
within the ruling Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front Party that
could spill into violence. The political class is not providing much of an
alternative. The opposition Movement for Democratic Change recently split
into two rival factions and is unable to offer any resistance to the
politics of the government.
The regime finds itself increasingly isolated. Mugabe has called for "bridge
building" with the outside world, but apart from China, Malawi, and Cuba,
there are few takers. "Absent the recognition on the part of the government
that it needs to make some hard choices and undertake a profound
transformation, bridge building is just another diplomatic gambit," says the
outspoken U.S. ambassador, Christopher Dell.
Meanwhile, Zimbabwe tumbles ever more deeply into a police state. Students
are beaten, arrested, and jailed for complaining about a 300 percent rise in
school fees or for taking down Mugabe's portrait from a schoolroom. Radio
and television stations are under tight government control. Although a few
independent newspapers continue to publish, the widely circulated opposition
Daily News has been shut since 2003. The bureaucracy has been militarized,
with retired high-ranking officers now heading ministries, minding the
activities of the Central Bank, and sitting as judges. "People are being
held, imprisoned by Mugabe's forces, Mugabe's laws. They are harassed,
fearful; they are not free to talk," says Bulawayo Archbishop Pius Ncube,
one of the regime's most ardent critics and himself a frequent target of
Yet most of the victims, like Fredy Mwachipa, are quiet bystanders. A year
ago, police showed up in Mwachipa's poor district on the outskirts of Harare
and ordered him and his neighbors to destroy their homes. It was part of the
government's declared urban cleanup campaign, called Operation Murambatsvina
("Drive Out Filth"), which left at least 700,000 people without homes and
businesses. The real priority was to disperse disaffected slum dwellers
before they could coalesce into a threat to Mugabe's rule. "The police came
in trucks, went into the houses, and told everyone to get out," Mwachipa
explains, sitting inside the wood and plastic sheeting structure donated by
a local charity that is his new home. "They said we must take everything out
and destroy the house. 'You are no longer living here,'they said."
Mwachipa and his wife and four children, as well as hundreds of neighbors,
were trucked to a farm. He and most of the others were allowed to return one
month later after producing land deeds proving they owned their homes. By
then, however, the police had used picks and shovels to finish the work of
destroying the dwellings. "We fault the president," Mwachipa, a night
watchman, says softly. "He is not ruling the country the way he is supposed
to." On that, there is no question.
By News Online reporter Stefan Armbruster
Australia has removed 53 individuals from a sanctions list against Zimbabwe,
some of whom have accused the government of carelessly targeting individuals
and blackening their reputations.
A renowned critic of President Robert Mugabe and leading business figures
say they immediately complained to Australian diplomats after being named
among 127 people in November that faced financial and travel sanctions.
The revision in April also removed from the list two dead people and
corrected dates of birth and job titles.
Some of those targeted received apologies but they remain disillusioned with
their treatment by the Australian Government.
Included in November was Trevor Ncube, the publisher of Zimbabwe's last two
independent newspapers and South Africa's Mail and Guardian.
Mr Ncube, who is now based in South Africa, says he complained to
Australia's High Commissioner and received an apology within 48 hours.
"I was shocked and really could not understand why my name had been included
amongst a list of people who to me looked like government officials, people
who are pro the Mugabe regime, which is a government that has abused the
human rights of a lot of Zimbabweans and cannot be said to be a democratic
government," Mr Ncube said.
"I am known quite widely as someone who is very critical of that government
and for my sins I have been thrown into prison for writing stories over
The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFAT) says the sanctions lists are
compiled using information "available at the time" gathered in Canberra, by
diplomatic posts and from "like-minded countries".
A DFAT spokesman said in a statement that the "delisting" of individuals
like Mr Ncube was part of a "periodic review".
"The department took all representations seriously and when legitimate
reasons for the delisting [of individuals] were presented and new
information brought to our attention, such individuals were removed from the
list," DFAT said.
"The opaque information environment within Zimbabwe makes the compiling of
appropriate biographical detail for the list a challenge."
After the revision in April all superseded sanctions lists, which were
previously available on the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) website, were
DFAT said that "previous versions of the sanctions list should be removed
from the RBA website to ensure the most current sanctions regime is being
Another target of the November list was the former Zimbabwean head of
international financial services group Old Mutual, which runs the country's
largest pension fund.
Fifteen months after retiring and leaving Zimbabwe, Graham Hollick found
himself the target of Australian sanctions.
"The move had a devastating effect. I did not waver under sustained pressure
to support [Mr Mugabe's] economic policies or individuals seeking to advance
their own interests using political threats," he said from the United
"For these actions it seems that the Australian Government was casting
aspersions to my character and my credibility. The whole episode was
unpleasant for not only me, but also my family and friends worldwide."
Mr Hollick says he received a letter saying he would be taken off the
sanctions list but not an apology.
Australia first imposed bi-lateral sanctions against Mr Mugabe and members
of his ZANU-PF party in 2002 after the controversial presidential election.
The decision by Foreign Affairs Minister Alexander Downer to apply the
"smart sanctions" was the centrepiece of Australia's efforts to "influence
the current government to return to good governance and the rule of law,
while avoiding harm to the people of Zimbabwe".
"They are not going to overwhelm the Zimbabwe administration in any way, but
they are an important statement by Australia," Mr Downer said at the time.
The "smart sanctions" involve travel bans to Australia and a freeze on
Australian assets for ministers and officials in the Mugabe government.
Shortly after the November list was issued, Australian Ambassador in
Zimbabwe Jon Sheppard told Associated Press that the list was difficult to
compile and may have been released prematurely.
"It will be reviewed and expect deletions. We are asking people who were
surprised to find themselves on the list to bear with us," he reportedly
Mr Ncube says he is concerned by how the lists are compiled.
"There doesn't seem to have been a careful gathering of facts. The
intelligence that was used was faulty," he said.
"Whoever was compiling this list doesn't seem to - well, I don't know the
criteria - but doesn't seem to know what they were doing.
"I think it is important for the Australian Government to come out clearly
and let us know what the criteria [for being listed] is so that people
understand exactly where they stand."
Mr Ncube was listed without a job title and that he was born on April 18,
1971, instead of September 9, 1962.
Also named and then removed were the Zimbabwean head of global bank Standard
Chartered, Washington Matsaira, and an executive of mining giant
Anglo-American, Godfrey Gomwe.
Spokespeople for both say they received apologies from Australian diplomats.
RioZim executive John Nixon, who was head of Rio Tinto's subsidiary in
Zimbabwe and is now deputy chairman of its joint-venture partner in the
Murowa Diamond mine, was also listed and removed.
ZANU-PF stalwarts Enos Chikowore and Witness Mangwende were again on the
revised list issued in November. Both died in early 2005 and their deaths
were widely reported in the African media.
Unlike lists published around the same time by the European Union, the
United States and New Zealand, Australia's list was much lighter on the
specifics of those named.
While many were listed with their full name, job title and date of birth,
some entries were only last names, meaning whole family groups could
possibly be targeted by the sanctions.
Since the latest revision, all individuals are now listed by at least a
first and last name and a job title.
DFAT says Mr Downer "is always advised of any changes to the sanctions
Please indicate current salary and expectations.
[ This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations]
Thousands of Zimbabweans make their way to Botswana each month
GABORONE, 5 Jun 2006 (IRIN) - //This is the fourth in the series on the impact of the Zimbabwean meltdown on its neighbours, and focuses on Botswana//
Dozens of Zimbabwean companies have relocated to neighbouring Botswana, perceived as the region's most investor-friendly country, while inflation in Zimbabwe is expected to hit record levels before the end of the year as the economy continues its downward spiral.
Zimbabwean-run small- and medium-scale business, such as bus and truck operators, funeral parlours, vehicle repair shops and sawmills, have mushroomed in the northern city of Francistown and the satellite towns of Tati and Tonota to the south of it, all near Botswana's border with Zimbabwe.
The steady influx of Zimbabweans, reportedly up to 125,000 a month since their country launched its chaotic fast-track land reform programme in 2000, has created tension between the two countries, with Botswana blaming the immigrants for increased crime. Botswana flogs people who cross its borders illegally, which has not helped defuse the situation, despite years of talks between the two governments.
Botswana has clarified that it does not single out Zimbabweans, as corporal punishment is legal and applied to anyone breaking rules. However, in 2004 it pointed out that 26,214 Zimbabweans were involved in criminal activities in Botswana. "There is a clear correlation between the increases in the rise of crime in Botswana with the presence of illegal immigrants, most of who are from Zimbabwe," the government said in a statement.
Described by the International Monetary Fund as one of the fastest growing economies in the world over the past three decades, Botswana has opened its doors to skilled Zimbabweans and businesses, while less cumbersome bureaucratic procedures and low taxes have lured Zimbabwean businesses to set up shop across the border, within easy access of operations back home.
According to popular assessment, there are two kinds of Zimbabwean businessmen in Botswana: optimists and realists. The optimists keep their businesses in Zimbabwe operational because they believe the crisis will end and they will be able to go back; the realists have shut down their Zimbabwean operations and relocated to Botswana because they think the government is neither serious nor honest about tackling the socioeconomic emergency in the country.
"Anyone who allows a crippling crisis of the Zimbabwean proportion to roll on for six years is not serious, and they cannot be sincere. That is why I think it is more practical to prepare for a long stay in the diaspora," said Mkhululi Bhebhe, a Zimbabwean businessmen living in Botswana.
Unable to cope with crippling shortages of foreign currency and fuel that drove the cost of inputs beyond reach, migrant businessmen said moving was a question of survival. Among them was Thulani Sibanda, owner of a bus and truck company, who established a cross-border operation as a result of the foreign currency and fuel crises.
"Two things combined to push me out [of Zimbabwe]. The fuel crisis worsened so much that for one week my trucks remained on the fuel queues. I had the foreign currency to buy fuel then, but government laws banned private operators from sourcing their own fuel - I could have been arrested for dealing in fuel in the black market. So I realised that I was incapacitated by the laws governing the business environment ... I started relocating my trucks to Botswana, got registered and moved into Francistown," Sibanda told IRIN.
He said his Botswana business operations had been profitable enough to enable him to maintain a fleet of ten buses that were still operating in Zimbabwe. Botswana's business-friendly tax regime and immigration laws, which allow migrants to take up citizenship after working and living there for five years, have helped.
"In Zimbabwe, nowadays, companies make losses, not profits. Because of a stringent tax regime and a highly regulated foreign currency system, they pay more taxes than their annual earnings. Across all the sectors companies are retrenching or scaling down, if not closing shop altogether," he added.
Construction companies have also taken advantage of Botswana's business-friendly climate. "The death of the construction industry [in Zimbabwe] almost killed us by extension, but when we looked across the border we saw the sector growing and came here to set up as suppliers. I can safely say what we were doing in Zimbabwe now looks like child play, because we are now making very good business," said one manager.
The going has been so good that the Forestry Company of Zimbabwe-Botswana (FCZ-Botswana), an offshoot of the Forestry Commission, the parastatal charged with managing state forests and wood products in Zimbabwe, has also relocated to the neighbouring country. IRIN was unable to contact the company, which has also posted profits, for details.
Although most Zimbabwean professionals complain of growing xenophobia, businessmen appear unaffected. "To the best of my knowledge, there is indeed a group of locals who believe that local construction or transport tenders, for example, should be given to local companies. The same is being said about jobs in the mines, where, we are told, there are too many Zimbabwean and underqualified South African technicians at the expense of locals. But that has not really affected the way tenders are given, because they are still being won by the best bidders," said Bhebhe.
However, Zimbabweans working in Francistown told IRIN about a growing tendency towards xenophobia by the local population. Besides competition for jobs, the latest outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease (FMD), linked to Zimbabwe, has aggravated the situation.
A shortage of dipping chemicals, the break-up of large commercial farms and the resultant loss of fencing allowed the disease to spread from Zimbabwe to Botswana, causing Botswana's export beef industry, already limping after successive droughts and a series of disease epidemics in recent years, to collapse.
"Being a Zimbabwean here is not easy. The people hate us because they say we take their jobs, although they hate doing most of the menial jobs we do. Those without valid travel documents can be employed on the promise of payment, which may, in fact, be delivery to the local police station as soon as the job is done," said Charles Nkonjeni, a Zimbabwean graduate in Bostwana.
"They say we should go back to Zimbabwe and vote Mugabe out, yet they know that Zimbabwe does not hold presidential elections every day. These days we are also being blamed for causing the death of many Batswana cattle, because the recent foot-and-mouth disease outbreak has been traced back to Zimbabwe. Judging by the importance of cattle among the Batswana, I think the hatred has a strong motive and could be genuine," he added.
Although the government itself has employed over 100 Zimbabwean nationals, a public outcry against hiring foreigners bore fruit last year when Botswana announced that it would not be renewing the permits of those working as teachers and drivers and would probe the hiring of artisans in the mining sector.
However, local residents stressed that only certain Zimbabweans were unwelcome. "Illegal immigrants are the same [as criminals], because the thieves often turn out to be undocumented people: because they are undocumented, they can break the law and escape to Zimbabwe ... We just hate the criminals, as we believe they also do in Zimbabwe," said Letsile Silaigwana, a civil servant in Francistown.
Many Batswana interviewed by IRIN admitted that the abusive exploitation of desperate Zimbabwean job-seekers was a growing problem, which they strongly condemned.
"To be honest, almost everyone here knows of a Zimbabwean who was abused one way or the other. The most common method is giving them a huge job, like weeding the fields, and promising them good pay. When the job is done, the employer just calls the police and reports that they have seen an illegal immigrant. The police then ask them to detain the person until they come, from there they are deported without ever getting their pay," said Kefilwe Molefhabangwe, a businesswoman in Tonota.
"First, they cannot complain because they are illegal, and secondly they have no work permit, and therefore no right to work in the country. It has been done by far too many people, and I also believe that this unfair treatment is the cause of many serious attacks when the Zimbabweans come back to exact revenge for the abuse, and they often do," she commented.
Rampant stock-theft along the common border, and low-intensity feuds over cattle grazing and watering have all aggravated relations. The thieves are blamed for cutting big holes into many sections of the new electric fence erected as a livestock disease-control measure. The rustlers have caused havoc on both sides by stealing cattle from Botswana and selling them in Zimbabwe and vice-versa. Although they deny it, Batswana butchery operators in rural areas near the border are accused of abetting the thefts by buying stolen Zimbabwean stock at give-away prices.
Not many large-scale Zimbabwean farmers have relocated to Botswana, which is mostly arid and more suitable for ranching.
Botswana's President Festus Mogae was among the few African leaders critical of the Zimbabwe situation, but has since adopted the more low-key approach of trying to engage with the government.
The unfolding crisis in Zimbabwe has had a ripple effect on the region's economy, but perhaps the most serious consequence has the been the brain-drain and the flow of much-needed investment from the crippled country. Economist Tony Hawkins, of the University of Zimbabwe, pointed out recently that between 1995 and 2000 - before the crisis - the Southern African Development Community region, excluding South Africa, grew at less than four percent a year.
Since 2000 it has grown over 11 percent annually, underlining Zimbabwe's relative insignificance.
See other reports in the series:
The Herald (Harare)
June 5, 2006
Posted to the web June 5, 2006
MOST children orphaned by HIV and Aids in Masvingo are failing to access funds to pay school fees from the Basic Education Assistance Module (BEAM) because the money is being abused, the House of Assembly heard last week.
Chairperson of the Parliamentary Committee on Health and Child Welfare Mr Blessing Chebundo, who is Kwekwe House of Assembly Member (MDC), told the House last week that most of the orphans were not benefiting from the BEAM funds allocation. BEAM assists underprivileged children to pay school fees.
Mr Chebundo was presenting the committee's report on HIV and Aids programmes in Masvingo Province. "Your committee discovered that there was a lot of abuse of the funds for orphans for school fees through BEAM. Your committee noted that most of the Aids orphans are not benefiting. The selection criteria and disbursement methods are subject to abuse," Mr Chebundo said. The lawmaker said there was need to revert to the old system in which the BEAM funds were channelled through the Department of Social Welfare.
The Ministry of Education, Sport and Culture is currently administering the funds. President Mugabe has repeatedly said no school authority should send away pupils who would hav e failed to pay fees. He says the Government has to assist through the BEAM programme. The committee recommended that the National Aids Council Act should be amended for it to be in line with the strategic framework and policy. It was also recommended that the council should reconsider its priorities since it was now involved in implementing many programmes as opposed to concentrating on its main mandate of co-ordination.
The committee, Mr Chebundo said, was concerned about whether the NAC structures were able to co-ordinate activities under their jurisdiction as it appeared the donor community tended to concentrate on activities and areas of their choice. Turning to the prevalence rate of HIV and Aids in Masvingo, he said this was one of the worst affected provinces with 16 147 people living with the pandemic out of a total population of 1 279 953.
He said Aids orphans in one of the country's most populous provinces stood at 53 817. Only 1 955 people living with HIV/Aids ar e on anti-retroviral programmes. Mr Chebundo attributed the high prevalence rate in Masvingo to a number of factors that included poverty, large concentration of migrant labour in the lowveld and rampant commercial sex work along the major highways such as the Masvingo-Ngundu-Beitbridge highway.
The Herald (Harare)
June 5, 2006
Posted to the web June 5, 2006
THE Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) should give priority to the National Pharmaceutical Company in foreign currency allocation as the erratic supply of drugs has resulted in most institutions buying them at the open market at exorbitant prices using money from the Health Services Fund.
Chairperson of the Parliamentary Committee on Health and Child Welfare Mr Blessing Chebundo told the House of Assembly on Tuesday last week that health institutions were passing the costs of procuring drugs from the open market to patients. Mr Chebundo, who is the Kwekwe Member of Parliament (MDC), was presenting the committee's report on Natpharm. "Your committee found out that because of the erratic supplies from Natpharm, most institutions are resorting to procuring drugs and other supplies from the open market using money from the Health Services Fund.
"Your committee was not happy with the situation because if the institutions procure from the open market, then the costs will be passed on to the patients who will end up paying more for the drugs than if they were to buy drugs obtained from Natpharm," he said. The committee noted that allocations of foreign currency to the drug procurement company had been dwindling over the years. Mr Chebundo said between January and Mar ch this year, Natpharm requested US$7,5 million but was allocated only US$106 000 and the situation was the same between October and December last year when the company was allocated US$200 000 out of a bid of US$7,5 million.
The lawmaker said the committee was informed that most of the drugs at Natpharm were donations from partners such as the World Health Organisation, United Nations Children Education Fund and the Clinton Foundation. The MPs, Mr Chebundo said, were not impressed with the stocks of anti-retroviral drugs at Natpharm, which during the time of the visit were less than a month's supply. "Your committee's worry is that if Government fails to maintain the current patients on ART, then the universal access to treatment will not be achieved," he said. The committee also recommended that Natpharm should improve its debt collection mechanisms in order to improve cash flow. Turning to the recent theft of drugs at Natpharm, Mr Chebundo said the company should improve its security systems by installing a closed television monitoring circuit. He said while the committee was informed that the value of stolen drugs was $351 million there were reports that the actual value was $7 billion.
"Your committee was informed that the theft was part of a syndicate involving guards and some doctors who have since been arrested," Mr Chebundo said. The lawmakers, he said, were surprised that Natpharm was claiming the monetary value of the drugs in this hyper-inflationary environment instead of seeking compensation through the replacement of the actual stolen drugs.
Contributing to debate on the report, Binga MP Mr Joel Gabbuza (MDC) said there were rampant reports of nurses and other health staff being involved in the theft of drugs at hospitals and clinics and there was need to plug the loopholes.
"We have very big thieves in the form of nurses, doctors and technicians but the Ministry (of Health and Child Welfare) is not putting measures to plug the lo opholes," he said. The legislator said in Nkayi last year, some pharmacists stole drugs before burning the pharmacy in an attempt to cover-up the crime. Harare Central legislator Mr Murisi Zwizwai (MDC) said people suffering from HIV and Aids should be exempted from paying consultation fees at health institutions.
June 5, 2006
Stocks raced higher on Friday as weak US jobs growth eased interest rate jitters while firmer gold prices lifted resource stocks and Impala Platinum rose on a favourable deal in Zimbabwe.
Implats jumped 4.15% to R1 206 as investors cheered an agreement with Zimbabwe that will exempt it from government plans to take control of foreign owned mines.
The top-40 index of blue-chip stocks gained 2.75% to 18 953.27.
The all-share index jumped 2.54% to 20 874.86 points.
Banks and retail stocks rallied. Pick 'n Pay jumped 5.2% to R29.98 while fashion retailer Edgars Consolidated Stores climbed 3.1% to R34.99.
On the financial front, Nedbank surged 3.88% to R120.50, FirstRand financial services group hopped up 3.6% to R18.75 and Absa gained 3.6% to R115.
Miners also performed well as gold rebounded with a sharp drop in the dollar. Spot gold was quoted at $632.60/633.40, against $626.30/627.10 in New York late on Thursday.
AngloGold Ashanti powered 3.89% higher to R314 while Harmony Gold rose 3.37% to R95.10.
Anglo Platinum climbed 1.2% to R592 while BHP Billiton rose 2.89% to R129.90. - Reuters
The Star (SA), 5 June
The South African executive has long maintained that it does not support the ever-worsening humanitarian crisis that is Zimbabwe. Rather it insists that its quiet-diplomacy approach is the one most likely to push all players towards a constructive resolution. The refusal of South Africa's Department of Home Affairs to grant asylum to Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) MP Roy Bennett, or to any of his former farmworkers, reveals the lie of that position. Despite the blatant human rights violations taking place in Zimbabwe - the systematic persecution of political opposition, of civil society and of the remaining vestiges of an independent media - South Africa's Home Affairs essentially says this is not so. In its letter of rejection to Bennett, Home Affairs declares that there is no evidence indicating that his treatment by authorities amounts to persecution. The letter goes on to say: "Surely the courts of Zimbabwe are impartial and are able to assert the rights of individuals. Morgan Tsvangirai's recent trial is the case in point; on October 2005 he was acquitted of treason." And in another letter to one of Bennett's former workers, who had also applied for refugee status, Home Affairs complains that the application was not supported by evidence that the applicant had reported his alleged persecution at the hands of Zimbabwe's law enforcement agents to the Zimbabwean police before fleeing to South Africa.
You have to hand it to the officials of the Home Affairs Department: they appear to make no attempt to disguise their bad faith with any pretence at credible justification. Inadvertently, by using the singular "the" in reference to Tsvangirai's trial, as "the" case to repudiate notions that the Zimbabwean justice system isn't free and fair, Home Affairs shows just how cursory its consideration has been. No single case, and certainly not one which drew fierce international attention and pressure, as Tsvangirai's did, can be a convincing affirmation of the credibility of a country's justice system. Were the Home Affairs officials more concerned to appear competent, they could have done a better job representing Zimbabwe's judicial system as one able to deliver fair and impartial outcomes. Quite apart from Tsvangirai's case, there are, in fact, a number of Zimbabwean cases that have upheld human rights. Only recently, for example, in a bail application brought by a number of individuals who had allegedly conspired with Bennett in a plot connected with the discovery of an arms cache, the presiding judge observed that several of them claimed they were tortured by security officers and induced into falsely implicating Bennett and another MDC MP, Giles Mutseyekwa.
That some Zimbabwean judges continue to issue rights-enforcing judgments, despite the inhospitable environment in which they find themselves, is testimony to their own personal courage and conviction in the principles of rule of law. But the integrity of a justice system cannot rely on the good offices of a few. It must depend on the credibility of the institutions that support it. With many of the country's judges thought to have been given confiscated farms - their only tenure, the president's continued pleasure - and the prospect of forced removal from office, like previous Chief Justice Anthony Gubbay, judges are as (if not more) likely to respond from fear or favour as they are from considered judicial principle. In any event, even if the court system was completely credible in Zimbabwe, that clearly isn't, even for the most uninformed observer, the chief complaint. Time and again, court orders are ignored or blatantly defied by the Zimbabwean state and its law-enforcing agents. That has clearly been the case with the court-granted interdicts against the government's recent Operation Murambatsvina and in respect of the occupation of farms.
But if South Africa's Home Affairs shows itself to be short of the facts when it instructs Bennett to place his faith in the courts of Zimbabwe, it invites ridicule when it requires of his ex-farmworkers that they should have reported their alleged persecution at the hands of Zimbabwe's law-enforcing agents to those selfsame agents. At best, this refusal to grant asylum to Bennett and his workers demonstrates incompetence on the part of Home Affairs and an inability to appreciate what the situation in Zimbabwe is really like. To the extent that this may be a general reflection on other government departments and their unfamiliarity with the facts in Zimbabwe, we should be deeply troubled. South Africa has repeatedly been deferred to by the international community in formulating a response to the deepening Zimbabwean crisis. Home Affairs suggests that confidence may be misplaced. At worst, Home Affairs' response speaks of bad faith: an unwillingness to assist those in genuine need. Asylum is to be granted in all cases to people who have a well-founded fear of individual persecution or, as a result of generalised human rights violations or armed conflict, are forced to flee their country of origin. The fact that the decisions to deny asylum may be motivated by bad faith sadly found echoes in the heckles of ANC MPs that greeted the DA's attempt to register dismay at the Bennett refusal. Certainly, that motion should not have been jeered. And it should not have been led by the DA, but by the ANC itself. After all, the Freedom Charter is the ANC's legacy, and it is its provisions that enjoin solidarity among people worldwide, black and white, in the fight for human rights.
The Star's contributing editor Nicole Fritz is the director of the Southern Africa Litigation Centre. She writes in her personal capacity.