The ZIMBABWE Situation Our thoughts and prayers are with Zimbabwe
- may peace, truth and justice prevail.

Back to Index

Zimbabwe Drums

The drums are calling old man, and they're louder by the day,
They are calling you to judgement and now's the time to pay,
For the wrongs you've done your country and the trust you have betrayed,
So hear those drumbeats swelling, hear well and be afraid.

You came to power on waves of hope that you would make your mark,
In a land that shone in Africa like diamonds in the dark.
In simple faith the people put their trust within your care,
And were repaid by the Fifth Brigade and the CIO and fear.
Twenty years of motorcades and lavish trips abroad,
A nation's heritage is lost through patronage and fraud.
The chefs grow fat while people starve and famine stalks our homes,
On idle farms the weeds grow rank and cover cattle bones.

The youth are taught your slogans but even as they sing
The drums of change are beating for the truth is seeping in.
The demagogue has feet of clay and lies will not sustain
The shattered land that once seemed free and will be so again.

Too late to blame the drought, the Brits, the whites or the MDC
For all know where the finger points with cold finality.

So hear the drums, old man, and listen to them well,
They foretell of your end days and they have much to tell.
For he who sews the seeds of hate will reap the grapes of wrath,
So tremble in your bed at night, at the end of your sorry path.

~Anon
Back to the Top
Back to Index

Zim Standard

Military clampdown gobbles $2 billion
By Caiphas Chimhete

THE panic-stricken Zanu PF government could have gobbled up to $2
billion in the past six days financing the biggest ever internal military
operation since independence, aimed at putting down the Movement for
Democratic Change (MDC)-organised mass protests, military experts have said.

Mugabe, facing the biggest threat to his job since 1980, last week
mobilised the largest internal military campaign that comprised the army,
police, war veterans and youth militia chewing up about $2 billion of the
taxpayers' money.

Military experts said if the joint-operations had used weapons such as
live bullets and tear gas extensively, the cost could have ballooned
further.

"If they had used military weapons such as live bullets and tear gas
the costs could have been much more. However, in this campaign most of the
costs are only for flying helicopters, food, transport and paying the war
veterans," said one expert.

As if the presence of heavily armed soldiers and police in the streets
of almost all major towns was not enough, war veterans and Border
Gezi-trained militia, dubbed the Green Bombers, were also deployed at every
street corner in most urban centres across the country.

Military helicopters were also hovering above guzzling up scarce Jet A
1 and Af-gas fuel, which sources at Noczim said have not been pumped into
Zimbabwe for the past two months because of the fuel crisis that has gripped
the country.

Experts said a military helicopter would require about 200 litres of
Jet A1 to fly for about an hour. So, a helicopter could have used 3 600
litres of Jet A1 at a cost of about $720 216, for the six-day military
campaign. A litre of Jet A 1 costs about $200,06.

At least three helicopters were flying two or three times a day - in
the morning, afternoon and evening - closely monitoring the situation and as
a show of military might. Some of the helicopters use what is called Af-gas,
refined petrol that is more expensive than both Jet A 1 and ordinary petrol.

"When the costs are added it will definitely amount to a lot of money
although I can't give you a figure," said one of the sources.

The joint security operation, comprising the army armed with guns and
armoured vehicles, police with anti-riot tankers, the Central Intelligence
Organisation (CIO), former freedom fighters and Zanu PF militias, virtually
plunged the country into "a state of war".

At least six armoured cars were stationed at Southerton police
stationin Harare and would patrol the high density suburbs at night to
thwart any suspected mass protests against Mugabe's regime, accused of
rigging the 2002 Presidential poll and ruining the country's economy.

Official sources said the department of information printed about 5
000 T-shirts for party youths and women supporters who were camped at Zanu
PF headquarters in Harare.
Back to the Top
Back to Index

Zim Standard

Military might keeps Mugabe at State House
By Henry Makiwa

THE massive show of force by security forces determined to crush any
kind of protest on every street corner during the past week has confirmed
fears that President Robert Mugabe is determined to cling onto power at
whatever cost.

All week, military helicopter gun ships hovered overhead in most of
Zimbabwe's urban centres, while tanks - armoured vehicles fitted with guns
and water cannons - patrolled Harare on the lookout for any gatherings of up
to three people.

Not content with entrusting its security in the hands of a brutal army
and a partisan police force, the Zanu PF regime also bussed in thousands of
youths from Mashonaland provinces who patrolled the streets day and night,
meting instant justice on any one who criticised the ruling party.

This joint military operation laid a heavy siege on all the urban
centres, unleashing an orgy of unmitigated violence and brutality on unarmed
people who were eager to show their disgruntlement over Zanu PF's policies
that they say have impoverished them.

Wanton assaults and arbitrary arrests were the order of the day all
week as thousands of police and army details deployed on the streets in
towns and high-density suburbs hunted down suspected MDC activists.

Tear smoke and live ammunition, as was the case in Highfield, were
used to disperse any suspected protest gatherings. Two people died while
hundreds others were injured countrywide. Human rights groups fear the
figure of those injured throughout the country could run into thousands.

The Avenues Clinic in Harare alone was reportedly flooded by victims
of the combined assaults of the army, police and the ruling party's youth
vigilante units, bussed in from farming and communal areas around Harare.

An estimated 150 cases of politically motivated beatings, torture and
harassment were brought to the clinic between Wednesday night and Thursday
morning alone, most of them youths and middle-aged citizens.

Even people who had nothing to do with the protests were not spared
the dehumanising treatment at the hands of Mugabe's security agents.

At a roadblock along the capital's Chiremba Road, The Standard
witnessed an incident in which a man, caught by soldiers without any
identification, was forced to write his national identification number on
the ground before he was ordered to shove the soil on which he had written
into his pockets. He would use it to identify himself at roadblocks in
future, the soldiers told him.

There were many reports of people being dragged out of their beds
naked at night and assaulted for allegedly sympathising with the MDC.

In spite of such show of force thousands of ordinary Zimbabweans still
put a major dent in Zanu PF's armour when they either stayed away from work
or attempted to march at the beginning of the week-long protest action,
aimed at pushing Mugabe to the negotiating table.

An estimated 5 000 people tried to march from the western Highfield
township towards the city centre on Monday but were dispersed by police
firing tear gas and live shots in the air.

About 6 000 students at the University of Zimbabwe (UZ) also tried to
march towards central Harare but were blocked by police firing tear gas,
driving them back to the campus.

About 200 more protesters gathered in the city centre and were again
chased away by the choking tear smoke. Several of the protesters were
arrested.

Andrew Nogongo, a senior official with Transparency International,
yesterday said the government's use of brute force to quell the
demonstrations was a show of Zanu PF's "loss of persuasive ability to
justifiably govern the people".

Nogongo said: "What people should ask themselves is that if the
government is a legitimate one, why do they have to use heavily armed forces
to persuade the people not to demonstrate?"

UZ lecturer and political analyst Heneri Dzinotyiweyi said: "It is of
paramount importance that the people influence both the government and the
opposition to address their day-to-day concerns."

A visibly relieved Mugabe mocked the MDC stayaway at a rally in
Mamina, Mhondoro (Mashonaland West) saying Tsvangirai was dreaming to
imagine he and his followers could just walk into State House to take the
presidency.

"Mwana wani iyeye angati Tsvangirai tora zvako Chigaro cheushe" (Whose
child would that be who will simply tell Tsvangirai to take over the king's
throne).
Back to the Top
Back to Index

Zim Standard

New monetary measures dismissed
By Kumbirai Mafunda

THE Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe's new monetary measures, expected to be
announced later this month, will not deviate much from its current policy of
printing more money, analysts have predicted.

Briefing journalists in Harare recently, outgoing RBZ governor Leonard
Tsumba, hinted that a new monetary policy statement would be issued this
month that might bring in fresh ideas to tackle runaway inflation, currently
surpassing 269 percent.

Economic commentators however said although Tsumba's last statement as
governor might indicate the government's stance on inflation, the current
low interest rates and its much criticised exchange rate mechanism, it would
not deviate from its present focus on monetary expansion.

The major challenges the RBZ faces is that of trying to find a formula
to shoot down inflation to figures of around 96,1 percent and below that
were envisioned by Finance and Economic Development Minister Herbert Murerwa
in his 2003 budget statement.

Already, Murerwa has acknowledged that the current situation where
interest rates were lower than inflation had discouraged savings.

Recurring budget deficits, declining economic growth and inflation
have seen overall savings and investment tumbling to levels below 9,2
percent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

"Savings have been confiscated by government the same way they
confiscated land from commercial farmers," said a Harare-based economist.

Currently, lending rates for the productive and export sectors have
been pegged at around 5% and 15%. Although targeted at providing relief to
these sectors, the low interest rates have been abused and instead borrowers
are sourcing money more for speculative purposes than investing.

This has given birth to asset price bubbles and artificial property
market values. So a review upwards on rates on consumption and speculative
activities cannot be ruled out in the new RBZ statement, said analysts.

On the exchange rate, the experts said a support rate similar to the
one announced last month for gold producers might be introduced to the
tobacco sector, which is being hounded by viability problems.

The exchange rate of the local dollar to the major trading currency,
the US greenback, is tied at $824.

However, some experts said it was highly unlikely that government
would digress from its present expansionary monetary policy because the
central bank needs more cheap money from the banks to lend at low rates.

"It is the same old story of moving deck chairs. We are going to see
Pilsener and Bohlingers being given to passengers on the Titanic," said
Peter Robinson, an economic consultant with Zimconsult.

Since 2001, government has deliberately kept interest rates low by
flooding the money market with funds as part of efforts to contain the cost
of its domestic debt now nearing $400 billion, more than half Zimbabwe's
total budget for the fiscal year ending December.

Robinson said the prevailing monetary policy was meant to look at the
interests of the powerbase, the ruling elite.

"The Reserve Bank's policy on interest rates is to keep them low . It
is just a stopgap measure to save themselves. We don't have a monetary
policy," said Robinson.

"We have a policy looking after the authorities and meant to protect
the authorities from their previous consequences," he added.

He said if interest rates were pushed upwards, banks would be pushed
to the wall leaving government to opt for lower interest rates in order not
to precipitate a 'banking crisis'.

The country is going through one of its worst economic and political
crises since independence from Britain in 1980.

This is dramatised by acute shortages of basic commodities, energy
deficits and a general economic decay.
Back to the Top
Back to Index

Zim Standard

Tsvangirai notches a first as he faces second treason charge
By Langton Nyakwenda

MORGAN TSVANGIRAI, the leader of the MDC, goes down in both Zimbabwean
and Rhodesian history as the first person to be charged with treason twice,
as the Zanu PF regime leaves no stone unturned in its quest to keep the
opposition leader under lock and key.

Tsvangirai, who is considered the greatest single threat to President
Robert Mugabe's stranglehold on political power since the country's
independence in 1980, becomes the first person in the country's history, to
be charged with treason twice in a lifetime.

The opposition leader, already with a treason charge hanging over his
head that would attract a death penalty if convicted, was on Friday charged
again in connection with a series of statements he allegedly made since the
disputed March 2002 elections that are said to have incited his supporters
to seek Mugabe's overthrow.

Legal experts who spoke to The Standard said it was "impracticable"
for one to be charged with treason twice in a lifetime and the recent arrest
of Tsvangirai was a sign that the government was getting more repressive in
its bid to crush the opposition.

Lovemore Madhuku, a constitutional law lecturer and chairman of the
National Constitutional Assembly, said the courts should have waited for
Tsvangirai's first treason charges to be dealt with before charging him with
fresh charges.

"As far as I know this has never happened in the history of Zimbabwe,
even during the colonial era when Smith used to lock up nationalists at
will," said Madhuku.

Advocate Adrian de Bourbon, a highly regarded lawyer, said
nationalists like Dumiso Dabengwa and Ndabaningi Sithole were charged with
treason in the pre-independence era but not twice in their lifetime.

"In law to charge someone with treason twice is impracticable and it
has never happened before in Zimbabwe," said De Bourbon.

"Though it is possible theoretically, in practice it is impossible as
the courts need to clear old treason charges before levelling one with fresh
charges," he added.

Mordekai Mahlangu, another leading lawyer, echoed De Bourbon's
sentiments and said as far as he recollected, no one had been charged with
the offence twice in Zimbabwe before.

"In theory, it is possible but I have never heard of a person who was
charged with the offence more than once and if Tsvangirai is charged with
treason in his latest arrest, then it is the first of its kind in the
country," said Mahlangu.

Stanford Moyo of the Law and Society of Zimbabwe however said it was
possible for a person to be charged with more than one count of the same
offence "if facts arising from the new offence were different from the
previous one".

Law lecturer Geoff Feltoe echoed Moyo's statement but said he would
need more time to check whether anyone had been charged twice for treason in
Zimbabwe's history.

Tsvangirai, along with party senior members Welshman Ncube and Renson
Gasela, are facing treason charges for allegedly trying to eliminate Mugabe
before last year's presidential election.
Back to the Top
Back to Index

Zim Standard

CIO harass Pius Ncube
By Cynthia Mahwite

BULAWAYO-Outspoken Roman Catholic Archbishop Pius Ncube was on Friday
afternoon detained for about 45 minutes by CIO operatives who warned him to
desist from discussing political issues before the start of
inter-denominational prayers for justice and peace.

"They warned that no political party regalia should be worn during the
prayers, they also said inflammatory statements were not to be allowed
during the church service," Archbishop Ncube, told a packed city cathedral
before the beginning of the prayers.

"We told them that this is purely a church event with no party
politics to be addressed but we cannot avoid addressing political issues
affecting the people of Zimbabwe. Politics is about food, shelter, school
fees for your children, jobs and so on," he said.

The church service, held amidst hovering sounds of military
helicopters, was attended by human rights activists, Christians from all
denominations and opposition MDC Members of Parliament, who included Paul
Themba Nyathi, David Coltart and party vice president Gibson Sibanda.

Ncube is a strong critic of President Robert Mugabe's scorched earth
policies.

In his sermon, the archbishop urged the congregation to pray for the
country's leaders to uphold human rights and said the nation should also
pray for leaders "to be inspired by the Holy Spirit" otherwise Zimbabwe
would perish.

The outspoken cleric said despite threats from government agents that
he should keep quiet about the goings-on in the country, he was not in a
position to do so.

"I shall not be quiet when my people are suffering," Ncube said.
"There is a lot of suffering here and we need to change this our children
are forced to go for military training where our daughters are sometimes
raped and you call that normal?"

Ncube said Zimbabwe needed God's intervention for things to improve.
Last month he conducted a service for torture victims where they gave
harrowing testimonies about their experiences.

Back to the Top
Back to Index

Zim Standard

Rural councils body slams land reform
By Parker Graham

MASVINGO-Members of the Association of Rural District Councils of
Zimbabwe (ARDCs) last week said government had failed dismally to achieve
its goal of decongesting rural population pressure owing to rampant
corruption and nepotism that infested the land reform exercise.

Several chiefs, headmen, senior district officials and chairpersons
from around the country were in Masvingo for their fourth annual congress
where they sought assurance from the government that it would dissolve all
land committees before carrying out the new land audit ordered by President
Robert Mugabe.

They said the fast track land reform programme, characterised by
violent land seizures, did not help ease life in the rural areas as they
remained heavily congested. Those who benefited, they noted, were the well
connected and some senior war veterans.

"The land reform programme did not achieve its intended goals like the
decongestion of the rural areas where population pressure remains. Instead,
the fast track programme saw party heavy weights and their relatives
benefiting at the expense of the general public," said Chief Ndondo of
Umguza.

"We are appealing to the government to dissolve all land committees
because of nepotism, corruption and favouritism," he added.

The chief said some war veterans who invaded white-owned commercial
farms since 1999 were still staying in shacks casting doubts if they had
capabilities of turning around the Zimbabwe's agricultural industry that has
suffered a major slump.

"Some have already resorted to gold panning, environmental
degradation, the killing of wild animals and rampant poaching and have
abandoned the intended agricultural activities they promised to partake,"
Chief Ndondo observed.

Chief Fortune Charumbira, the deputy Minister of Public Works, Local
Government and National Housing, admitted that chiefs had not been fully
utilised in the government's allocation of land.

"I don't condone the way the land officers conducted their businesses
when they allocated land. Instead of doing it along proper channels, they
favoured their relatives and friends," said Chief Charumbira.

He urged the government to go back to the drawing board and include
rural district councils and chiefs in their land redistribution programme.

Ministers Ignatius Chombo and Witness Mangwende attended the meeting.

Back to the Top
Back to Index

Zim Standard

Chinos beaten up by Endy Mhlanga
By Our Own Staff

SELF-styled war veterans' leader, security guard Joseph Chinotimba was
pummelled in a fistfight by Endy Mhlanga, the secretary-general of the
Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans Association (ZNLWA) at the
Zimbabwe Defence House a fortnight ago.

Defence House houses the ministry of defence, the parent ministry for
the war veterans.

Witnesses told the The Standard that the two accidentally bumped into
each other in the corridors before a meeting convened by the war veterans'
association to resolve simmering differences within the movement.

At this point, Mhlanga is said to have asked Chinotimba where he
trained during the liberation struggle. This infuriated Chinotimba so much
that he started spewing vulgar words and challenged Mhlanga to a fist fight.

As the heated verbal exchange degenerated, Mhlanga pounced on the
bearded security guard's throat and got the better of him.

Pace and agility is said to have saved Chinotimba who broke away from
Mhlanga's grip and ran away for dear life seeking refugee in nearby offices.

The situation normalised after the two were "conscientised" of the
need for war veterans to unite to quell streets protests organised by the
Movement for Democratic Change.

"The two calmed down after intervention and were told to set aside
their personal differences," said a witness.

Present at the meeting was the association's leader, Patrick
Nyaruwata. He confirmed the incident and said he would issue a statement
later this week.

Many war veterans are not happy with Chinotimba's meteoric rise in the
ruling Zanu PF party and others have started questioning his war record.

The war veterans' officials say they want to probe where and who
actually trained Chinotimba, while the former municipal guard claims the
senior war veterans want him out because he questioned how they squandered
the group's finances.

"Chinotimba's file on war veterans says he trained at Devure Ranch in
Bikita so the association wants to know who trained him," said a senior war
veterans' official.

The Patrick Nyaruwata-led national executive suspended Chinotimba from
the chairmanship of Harare province last month but he claims that he still
heads the province.

Mhlanga confirmed that he was at the defence headquarters on the
fateful day but declined to comment further.

Chinotimba said: "I know nothing about that. I have never been at the
Defence House. Taidachii. Taidei.(What did we want there?) Maybe Mhlanga met
chidhoma changu,"(my ghost) said Chinotimba before switching off his mobile
phone.

This is not the first time Chinotimba has been beaten by colleagues in
the war veterans' movement.

Last year, he received a thorough beating from Mike Moyo who accused
him of advising management at a fuel station to press charges against him.
By then Moyo faced charges of extorting fuel worth $5 000 from a Harare
filling station.

Back to the Top
Back to Index

Zim Standard

Manyika allegedly leads campaign of retribution
By Caiphas Chimhete

YOUTH Minister Elliot Manyika allegedly led the group of soldiers,
police and "Green Bombers" that brutalised suspected opposition Movement for
Democratic Change (MDC) supporters in Glen View on Monday night last week,
victims have claimed.

Some of the victims told The Standard that the group, numbering about
30 and in Zimbabwe National Army (ZNA) uniforms, was led by Manyika, the
Minister of Youth Development, Gender and Employment Creation.

The victims said the group had a long list of names of suspected MDC
sympathisers, compiled by Zanu PF supporters together with the local
militia, trained at the infamous Border Gezi Training Camp in Bindura.

One of the victims, Jabu Khumalo (31), who sustained a broken arm and
swollen body, said the group only stopped beating him up after the
intervention of Manyika.

"They arrived here around 2 am and dragged me and my colleagues from
the house, beating us.

"When we were outside, the beatings became more severe as more people
joined in but he (Manyika) saw that we were badly hurt and he stopped them
before ticking our names from a long list," said Khumalo, who stays at
Councillor Dewa's house in Glen View.

He said Manyika was dressed in blue jeans and a white T-shirt
underneath a blue jean shirt.

"I don't think they were all soldiers because I identified Tawanda and
Prince who were also in army uniforms," said Khumalo, adding the two were
Zanu PF militia, dubbed the "Green Bombers", well known in Glen View.

After beating the occupants, the "soldiers" allegedly stole six bags
of meal mealie, a cellphone, bottles of cooking oil, packs of matemba fish,
beans and salt that the councillor intended to "feed destitute people and
orphans" in the area.

Douglas Zihara and Daniel Ngoya, who both received medical treatment
at Avenues Clinic on Tuesday morning after the brutal assaults, also claimed
to have seen Manyika among the group of attackers.

One MDC ward secretary, who requested anonymity, said Manyika's
Mercedes Benz was left parked at a house owned by a member of the
neighbourhood watch committee.

"He was in a white Mazda pickup truck that was trailing behind two
army trucks," he claimed.

Another victim, Lefingo Madyira (28), who could hardly walk on
Thursday, said the group attacked him at a local car park in the area while
he was guarding vehicles.

Speaking from his hideout at a relative's house, Madyira said the
group first asked for one Teddy Gumbezi, an MDC activist in the area, but
later accused him of taking part in street marches to force President Robert
Mugabe to the negotiating table.

"When I told them that I did not know his whereabouts, they started
beating me with batons sticks, planks and booted feet," said Madyira,
showing this reporter the group's military handwork marked all over his
body.

MDC national co-ordinator, Nkanyiso Maqeda, confirmed receiving
reports that Manyika had allegedly led by example, terrorising and
brutalising Glen Norah and Glen View residents.

"We also received such a report and that Manyika was stationed at
Cresta Jameson Hotel in Harare that night and if that is true, we cannot
rule that out," said Maqeda.

Manyika could not be reached for comment as his mobile phone was
switched off.

The rowdy Green Bombers are being trained at centres in Bindura and
other provinces and fall under Manyika's ministry.

Since the Zanu PF retribution against protestors started on Monday, at
least two people have been confirmed dead, allegedly at the hands of State
agents.

The opposition MDC says more 300 people in Harare have received
medication since Tuesday for wounds sustained in the on-going beatings by
the security agents.

On Tuesday, the security agents virtually camped at the Avenues
Clinic's car park where most of the victims were receiving medical
treatment.

Police spokesperson, Assistant Commissioner Wyne Bvudzijena, said the
deployment of security forces would continue for as long as necessary.

Downplaying security agents' brutality on innocent civilians,
Bvudzijena said: "There may be one or two incidents by members of the
security forces who have acted outside the given orders and these cases are
being investigated."

l Meanwhile, the fear-struck Zanu PF government has deployed more
armed soldiers, police and militia in the streets of Harare to thwart any
attempts by the MDC to stage more protests.

The militia, some of whom were bussed from farming communities and
wearing new T-shirts written "No to Mass Action", have been beating up
innocent people in Harare's central business district.

Back to the Top
Back to Index

Zim Standard

Zanu PF youths celebrate
By Langton Nyakwenda

THOUSANDS of Zanu PF youths, brought from the rural areas to quell the
MDC-led mass action, went into a jovial mood on Friday night singing party
songs at its headquarters celebrating what they regarded as "mission
accomplished".

The exuberant youths, who seemed out of place in Harare over the past
week because of their dirty and worn out trousers, aged gumboots and crudely
made home sandals, took time off their busy schedule of defending the
capital city from MDC marchers to celebrate their "victory."

In the comfort of the imposing Zanu PF building, heavily guarded by
anti-riot police and soldiers, the youths broke into song and dance around
7: 00 pm shaking off the dust that had accumulated on their bodies as they
walked the length and breadth of the city in the week long round-the-clock
patrols that also took in the high density suburbs.

One of the songs, which were repeatedly sung, was the obscene
"Ndikwenyeiwo amai mwana," which is popular at rowdy soccer matches.

Dressed in white T-shirts labelled "No to Mass Action", the
overzealous youths had tormented Harare's streets, tearing independent
newspapers and beating up innocent civilians in the city centre from Monday.

However on Friday afternoon, some of the youths were heard complaining
that the party was delaying in giving them their dues.

They claimed they had been promised huge sums of money to disrupt the
mass action. The capital city was from Monday full of the badly dressed
youths and old women, ferried from Zanu PF's rural strongholds, who were
quickly given new party T-shirts to help their attire.

The youths however moved in big groups afraid that they would be
mincemeat for angry Zimbabweans eager to vent their spleens should any of
them stray or split into smaller factions.

Back to the Top
Back to Index

Zim Standard

War veteran, police officer taste own medicine
By Richard Musazulwa

GWERU- A plain clothes police officer and a war veteran on Wednesday
tasted their own medicine when they were beaten up by armed soldiers who
rounded up residents indiscriminately at Kudzanai Bus Terminus in Gweru.

The soldiers, who wrecked havoc in the city, caught up with the police
officer and the senior war veteran among the peaceful commuters, waiting to
board buses to their different destinations.

According to eyewitnesses, the plain-clothes police officer, only
identified as Moyo, was thoroughly beaten up and had to produce his force
identity card to save himself from further harm.

The well-known war veteran was not so lucky as the marauding soldiers
heavily assaulted him. Some of the people who fell victim to the attacks
said they were pleased that the two had tasted their own medicine.

"If these war vets and police officers realise that it's not a nice
experience to be beaten up, that might bring sense to their minds," said a
26-year-old woman who had stopped over at Kudzanai on her way to Bulawayo.

A police detail at the Kudzanai police post confirmed the incident.

Back to the Top
Back to Index

Zim Standard

Aids threatens to decimate labour in agriculture
By Caiphas Chimhete

THE HIV/Aids pandemic that is sweeping through out Zimbabwe presents
one of the greatest challenges to the country's agricultural sector, which
is still smarting from President Mugabe's violent and chaotic land reforms,
farming bodies have warned.

They said the disease seriously threatened the country's capacity to
produce and ensure national food security because it kills the most
productive segment of the labour force.

The executive director of Farmers' Development Trust (FDT), Lovejoy
Tendengu, said the country was sitting on "a time bomb" in the farming
communities, where the majority of people have no access to health
facilities and live in squalid conditions.

"The pandemic is more rampant in the farming compounds and as a result
life span is very short. This has led to a high worker turn-over, which
means efficiency and production is greatly compromised," said Tendengu,
whose organisation strives to improve the welfare of farm workers.

He said absenteeism due to illness or other workers attending funerals
of colleagues, has also had a great impact on overall agricultural output.

A study conducted by the University of Zimbabwe's Centre for Applied
Social Sciences says the death of a single adult in an indigenous farm
household resulted in a drop by 61 percent of the family production of the
staple food maize.

Cotton would decline by 47 percent; groundnuts by 37 percent while
vegetable production would fall by 49 percent, noted the study.

The outgoing director of the Indigenous Commercial Farmers Union
(ICFU), Thomas Nherera, said the union was very worried by the effects of
Aids on agriculture.

"We are very aware of its effects on agriculture but we can not give
quantitative figures of how much has been lost or will be lost in the near
future because we have not carried out detailed research on that," said
Nherera.

But the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) said some southern
African countries, including Zimbabwe, could lose 26 percent of their
agricultural labour force within two decades because of Aids.

Renson Gasela, the Movement for Democratic Change's shadow minister
for land and agriculture said the recently concluded haphazard land reforms
would worsen the Aids epidemic in farming communities.

Government statistics indicate that Zimbabwe has more than 2,2 million
people living with the HIV virus that causes the killer disease. More than
600 000 locals die from the disease every year.

The most vulnerable are the poor, who live in squalid conditions in
farming and rural areas where there are no proper health facilities.

That apart, people in farming areas have little knowledge about the
pandemic and take unprotected sex as a pastime activity regardless of the
hazards involved.

Mugabe, eager to win people's support in the parliamentary and
presidential polls in 2000 and 2002, parcelled land to his supporters before
putting in place health and entertainment facilities.

"By mere observation, the effects of Aids are going to be very
devastating and very soon we will not have any agriculture to talk about.
Apart from that, what will happen to those workers displaced by the
so-called land reform programme," said Gasela, a former Grain Marketing
Board (GMB) boss.

The Zanu PF government claims to have resettled 54 000 new farmers
under the A2 model while about 200 000 have also been allocated pieces of
land under the A1 scheme.

As a result of Mugabe's skewed land policy, which left nearly 400 000
commercial farm workers jobless, Zimbabwe's food production went down by 50
percent last year, leaving nearly eight million people in need of emergency
food aid.

Tendengu called on government and farming bodies to work together in
combating the Aids pandemic and other infectious diseases in the farming
areas.

"The government together with farmers and farmers' organisations
should start bold and deliberate moves to address the pandemic in the
farming communities if we are to produce enough food for the country."

The ICFU said it was working with the government, through the National
Aids Awareness Campaign, to educate farm workers on the threat of Aids to
their lives and the agriculture sector.

In the past eight years, Aids killed about seven million agricultural
workers in 25 of the hardest hit countries worldwide.

Zimbabwe is ranked as the third country in the world with the highest
rate of infection and deaths, presenting serious threats to agriculture,
which contributes about 18 percent to the country's Gross Domestic Product
(GDP).

Agriculture also provides employment and income for 66 percent of the
population.

If the Aids epidemic is not curtailed, Zimbabwe would not be able to
produce enough food in the next decade, say health experts.
Back to the Top
Back to Index

Zim Standard

Letter

Fighting among ourselves will not solve country's problems


I think in Zimbabwe we are still living okay. I know I will get myself
a beating for saying that but first let me elaborate. We have two sides of
this political tension and they are both pulling in extremely opposite
directions just for their own good and in the end its us Zimbabweans who are
suffering.

On the one hand, Zanu PF is accusing the MDC of being backed by the
British, but for the sake of the public let's forget that and find a way
forward to the negotiating table. On the other hand, we have MDC accusing
Zanu PF of having messed up the economy in the past how-many-ever years.
Yes, they might have but for the sake of progress let's bury that and look
for a way forward for everyone.

If we keep fighting and bickering among ourselves, in a couple of
months, we will realise that what we are calling suffering now is just a
picnic. Things have the potential of becoming far much worse. We still boast
of a better infrastructure than most African countries but believe me that
too sadly may disappear.

Remember those good old days when we used to laugh at the Zambian
Kwacha but where are we now? We may now look down at their infrastructure
but if we continue fighting, Zambians will soon start laughing at ours.

We still need to be convinced by foreign leaders like Mbeki and
Obasanjo to talk things over, but when things get really bad we will be
ready to go to the negotiating table without these people telling us to.

All this beating up of civilians, uncalled for arrests, torture,
repression, delaying of justice, mass actions, stayaways, calls for more
sanctions and the like will get us nowhere but deeper into trouble.

In my own opinion let's get rid of both these gentlemen and look for
some other pair to start negotiations because, surely, they have both failed
us.


Way forward

Harare
Back to the Top
Back to Index

Zim Standard

New monetary measures dismissed
By Kumbirai Mafunda

THE Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe's new monetary measures, expected to be
announced later this month, will not deviate much from its current policy of
printing more money, analysts have predicted.

Briefing journalists in Harare recently, outgoing RBZ governor Leonard
Tsumba, hinted that a new monetary policy statement would be issued this
month that might bring in fresh ideas to tackle runaway inflation, currently
surpassing 269 percent.

Economic commentators however said although Tsumba's last statement as
governor might indicate the government's stance on inflation, the current
low interest rates and its much criticised exchange rate mechanism, it would
not deviate from its present focus on monetary expansion.

The major challenges the RBZ faces is that of trying to find a formula
to shoot down inflation to figures of around 96,1 percent and below that
were envisioned by Finance and Economic Development Minister Herbert Murerwa
in his 2003 budget statement.

Already, Murerwa has acknowledged that the current situation where
interest rates were lower than inflation had discouraged savings.

Recurring budget deficits, declining economic growth and inflation
have seen overall savings and investment tumbling to levels below 9,2
percent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

"Savings have been confiscated by government the same way they
confiscated land from commercial farmers," said a Harare-based economist.

Currently, lending rates for the productive and export sectors have
been pegged at around 5% and 15%. Although targeted at providing relief to
these sectors, the low interest rates have been abused and instead borrowers
are sourcing money more for speculative purposes than investing.

This has given birth to asset price bubbles and artificial property
market values. So a review upwards on rates on consumption and speculative
activities cannot be ruled out in the new RBZ statement, said analysts.

On the exchange rate, the experts said a support rate similar to the
one announced last month for gold producers might be introduced to the
tobacco sector, which is being hounded by viability problems.

The exchange rate of the local dollar to the major trading currency,
the US greenback, is tied at $824.

However, some experts said it was highly unlikely that government
would digress from its present expansionary monetary policy because the
central bank needs more cheap money from the banks to lend at low rates.

"It is the same old story of moving deck chairs. We are going to see
Pilsener and Bohlingers being given to passengers on the Titanic," said
Peter Robinson, an economic consultant with Zimconsult.

Since 2001, government has deliberately kept interest rates low by
flooding the money market with funds as part of efforts to contain the cost
of its domestic debt now nearing $400 billion, more than half Zimbabwe's
total budget for the fiscal year ending December.

Robinson said the prevailing monetary policy was meant to look at the
interests of the powerbase, the ruling elite.

"The Reserve Bank's policy on interest rates is to keep them low . It
is just a stopgap measure to save themselves. We don't have a monetary
policy," said Robinson.

"We have a policy looking after the authorities and meant to protect
the authorities from their previous consequences," he added.

He said if interest rates were pushed upwards, banks would be pushed
to the wall leaving government to opt for lower interest rates in order not
to precipitate a 'banking crisis'.

The country is going through one of its worst economic and political
crises since independence from Britain in 1980.

This is dramatised by acute shortages of basic commodities, energy
deficits and a general economic decay

Back to the Top
Back to Index

Zim Standard

EMCOZ pleads with ZCTU to return to negotiations
By our own Staff

THE Employers Confederation of Zimbabwe (EMCOZ) on Thursday went on
bended knees to plead with the country's largest labour movement, the
Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU), to rescind its earlier decision to
abandon the Tripartite Negotiating Forum (TNF).

The ZCTU pulled out of TNF - which is comprised of labour, government
and business - in April and declared the process as "dead and buried" after
government astronomically increased the pump price of fuel by about 300
percent.

This resulted in the retail price of blend petrol costing $450 a litre
and pushing the costs of transport fares and other goods and services by an
almost similar margin. The fuel increase came just two months after a
previous hike of 95 percent in February.

EMCOZ president Mike Bimha told delegates at a National Economic
Consultative Forum (NECF) meeting on the National Economic Recovery
Programme (NERP) held in Harare, that it was crucial for the labour movement
to return to the negotiating table to resolve the economic crisis now
reaching melting point.

Zimbabwe is in its sixth year of economic recession dramatised by
stagflation, shrinking economic growth, poverty, unemployment and social
decay, which critics accuse President Robert Mugabe, its ruler for 23 years,
of authoring.

Presenting a paper on business's contribution to the formulation and
implementation of the economic recovery programme, Bimha underlined the need
for the urgent resumption of the TNF meetings.

"For the sake of Zimbabwe, we appeal to the other social partners to
come back to the negotiating table before we do even more harm to this
beleaguered economy," said Bimha.

Labour's retreat from the TNF process effectively ended the
negotiating forum that had been resuscitated in January and had partly given
birth to Zimbabwe's new economic recovery programme.

Among some of the weaknesses of the TNF at the time labour pulled out
were that since the beginning of negotiations this year, workers had gained
little in terms of an improvement to their living standards.

Prices of commodities had been reviewed upwards by government and yet
workers had not been cushioned off against the decline in purchasing power,
the union complained.

The TNF was formed in 1998 following the failure of social dialogue
through its predecessor and in 2001; labour withdrew from the process citing
government's unilateral approach to critical issues and its lack of good
faith and honesty during negotiations.

Economic commentators have however observed that to make the TNF
process effective, there was need to make the process statutory so that
whatever was agreed was not subject to approval by Cabinet or changed by any
one party, notably government that is notorious of such moves.

In response to Bimha's overture, ZCTU acting secretary-general, Collin
Gwiyo apportioned blame on government for wrecking the process and ruled out
labour's early return to the negotiating table.

"The position remains the same as long as social partners can wake up
one morning and announce price increases without the consent of other
parties," said Gwiyo.

"As things stand we are handicapped to return to the TNF at the end
of the day the ball remains in government's court," he added.

Lovemore Kadenge, Zimbabwe Economics Society president said if
business was really concerned to see the return of labour to the TNF, there
was need to communicate seriously in an organised manner.

"There is need for business to communicate with labour and not at such
fora like the NECF where people of like mind gather," said Kadenge.

Back to the Top
Back to Index

Zim Standard

Basic commodities reappear at high prices
By Kumbirai Mafunda

BASIC commodities such as milk, margarine, bread and cooking oil,
which had disappeared from supermarket shelves, are now reappearing at a
higher cost following the government's relaxation of price controls.

Government imposed wide ranging price controls in late 2001 in a
desperate bid to try and control skyrocketing prices, despite advice from
economic experts that the move would result in the scarcity of food stuffs
and their reappearance on the black market at inflated prices.

"Price controls have never succeeded unless as an integral element of
a social contract," said Bulawayo-based economic commentator Eric Bloch.

Writing in The Zimbabwe Chartered Accountant after the government had
reintroduced price controls, Block observed: "Instead, price controls
trigger massive shortages of those products which manufacturers cannot
afford to produce and feeds a thriving black market at much increases, and
highly inflationary prices of all that is in short supply."

Business lamented that the controls would stifle growth in the
manufacturing sector which was already reeling from the other negative
effects of Zimbabwe's hyper inflation - that last month rose to an
unprecedented 269 percent - such as the inevitable high wages and subsequent
increases in the cost of production.

The Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries (CZI) estimates that more
than 500 companies were forced to close down because of the price freeze
that also resulted in the emergence of a thriving parallel market as
producers tried to avoid the controls.

Manufacturers also resorted to producing lower quality goods at higher
prices much to the detriment of the consumer whose purchasing power was
being daily eroded by the rising inflation.

Although consumers cheered the return of basic foodstuffs on the
market recently, their joy was short-lived when they realised that the same
goods were now being sold at exorbitant and prohibitive prices.

For instance 750 ml of cooking oil that cost less than $1 000 a few
weeks ago, is going for $2 327 while a 5-litre container of the same product
now costs $13 000.

"Despite the inflows of commodities we are facing a dilemma where
goods are now taking longer to clear from shelves," said a manager with a
Harare supermarket chain.

Anthony Mandiwanza, Dairiboard Zimbabwe Limited chief executive and
CZI president said the recent influx of goods onto supermarket shelves was
testimony of the negative aspect of price controls.

"Government has learnt lessons. You cannot interfere with free market
forces and win. We warned government on price controls and viability of
manufacturers," Mandiwanza said.

He said manufacturers needed the flexibility to review prices
periodically to ensure the continued inflow of commodities into the formal
market without State interference.

In a keynote address to the National Economic Consultative Forum
(NECF) on Thursday, Finance and Economic Development Minister Herbert
Murerwa - in a speech read on his behalf - publicly conceded that
government's interventionist policies had been ineffective in reining in
runaway inflation.

"We in government are committed to removing policy-induced distortions
and regulations such as price controls and implementing other fiscal and
monetary stabilisation measures that promote production in all sectors,"
said Murerwa.

Controls on commodities whose prices are still gazetted now only
remain on maize and maize meal, wheat, flour and bread.

Products whose prices are still being determined by government also
include agricultural chemicals, agricultural implements, seeds, beef, coal,
cement sugar and milk, and a few others.

The government has however said it would continue to play a
surveillance role on the retail market "to prevent profiteering".
Back to the Top
Back to Index

Zim Standard

Church should take a stand against evil
Sundaytalk with Pius Wakatama

HAVING realised that the situation in Zimbabwe is so grave as to be
beyond human solutions alone, the leader of the Movement for Democratic
Change, Morgan Tsvangirai, rightly called for days of prayer. He had
realised that without God's direct intervention the country was facing
imminent destruction.

He called for the special days of prayer because the MDC was embarking
on a week of peaceful demonstrations to protest the misrule of the Zanu PF
government.

Not only is the Zanu PF government cruel; its misguided policies and
rampant corruption have brought the country to its knees economically.
Ordinary people can no longer afford basic necessities of life. The MDC felt
that through mass demonstrations they could force the government to change
its ways and come to the negotiating table without preconditions.

In response to the MDC leader's call, over 2 000 Christians from
different denominations gathered in the Harare City centre to pray. No
sooner had they started to call on God, with their hands raised in
supplication, to save our suffering nation, than hordes of baton wielding
riot police descended on them. They savagely attacked the praying men and
women. Some of the women were old, and others had babies on their backs.
Several were injured and more were arrested "for organising and taking part
in an illegal political meeting".

When it was pointed to a member of the Zimbabwe Republic Police that
this was merely a prayer meeting and not a political meeting, he responded
by saying it was a political meeting because they were raising their hands
showing the MDC sign. It seems that the poor man had never seen enthusiastic
Christians in prayer before. He had also been thoroughly brainwashed by his
masters, or should I say, handlers. He didn't seem capable of thinking
independently.

As I read of these events in the press I hung my head in shame because
these were actions of fellow Zimbabweans. My own countrymen. I had heard,
seen and read of Zanu PF police brutality but, surely to beat up people who
are praying is descending to the very depths of depravity not even expected
of beasts without any conscience. It somehow made me think of the brutal
treatment of Christians in ancient Rome. Jesus' words as he hung on the
cross also came to mind: "Father forgive them for they know not what they
do."

Those who beat up these Godly men and women as they prayed can rest
assured that God will punish them for this horrible abomination unless they
recant and ask Him for forgiveness. About these policemen and other violent
Zanu PF thugs, the Bible says;

"The son of Man will send forth His angels, will gather out of his
Kingdom all stumbling blocks, and those who commit lawlessness, and will
cast them into the furnace of fire. In that place there shall be weeping and
gnashing of teeth.

"Then the righteous will shine forth as the sun in the Kingdom of
their father. He who has ears , let him hear." Matthew 13:41-43.

What is amazing about all this is the deafening silence of our church
leaders over this abominable act. As God's representatives on earth, are
they not outraged by this kind of behaviour? Where is their prophetic, "Thus
saith the Lord!?

As I pondered on this silence of the church, I went back to an article
I wrote for The Daily News on January 6, 2001. I quote:

"During the debate on the draft constitution for Zimbabwe, there was a
flurry of activity by the churches to have their views heard.

"The Evangelical Fellowship of Zimbabwe went as far as petitioning the
Constitutional Commission to pronounce Christianity as the official religion
of the country and to have that stated in the new constitution.

"At that time, churches seemed to have reached a consensus as to their
role in the affairs of the nation.

"The heads of denominations held a meeting at which the role of the
church was spelt out as: 'The provision of a common platform of principles
on which churches can react pro actively and integrally in moments of
calamity or life-threatening socio-economic and political situations and to
be prophetic and practical in their mission.

"The general secretary of the Zimbabwe Council of Churches, Jensen
Mafinyane, emphatically said: 'What we are saying is that the church will
not compromise and will not negotiate on good governance'.

"Father Oscar Wermter SJ, the (then) communication secretary of the
Zimbabwe Catholic Bishops Conference, spelt out the stand of the Roman
Catholic Church: 'The church should not be involved in the day to day power
struggles of party politics, but should be able to speak out in cases where
power is abused, where corruption is depriving people of their belongings.

"However, after all these bold statements, the church is now
conspicuous by its deafening silence in the face of the most evil abuse of
power by the incumbent Zanu PF government."

These words were written in 2001. We are now three years down the
line. The moment of calamity is upon us for the socio-economic and political
situation is threatening the lives of Zimbabweans. To say that there is bad
governance is an understatement. This government has totally failed and is
resorting to brute force to keep in power. Even Christians are being
assaulted in broad daylight to stop them from crying out to their God. Power
is being abused daily and corruption in high places is the order of the day.

As the churches face this calamity, their voices seem to have left
them suddenly. We hear only lonely voices of dedicated and fearless prophets
who are crying out in the wilderness.

The silent church majority espouses a church theology that pretends to
be neutral. They say that the church should be concerned with spiritual
matters only. This, of course, is a silent way of legitimising a repressive
status quo. Their real motivation is not conviction but fear.

Those few who are speaking out prophetically espouse a biblical and
Godly theology. They are convinced that God is concerned about all of life.
To them the Bible reveals that God is always on the side of the
down-trodden. Their theology declares that where there is oppression and
denial of human rights, neutrality is not an option.

In 1986 a number of concerned Christians in South Africa met to study
the Bible and seek God's mind regarding the volatile situation obtaining in
that country at the time. Their deliberations resulted in the publishing of
a declaration called Kairos Document. This became a wake up call to the
churches for it declared in no uncertain terms that apartheid and its
attendant laws was oppressive and, therefore, unbiblical and sinful. This
resulted in a movement which swept across the churches bringing them to
confession and repentance.

Today, Zimbabwe is looking to the church for guidance. We desperately
need, even from the Zanu PF ranks, a Kairos- like movement which will lead
our politicians to the negotiating table for a new and free Zimbabwe.

He who has ears to hear, let them hear.
Back to the Top
Back to Index

Zim Standard

Zanu PF leaders behaving like battered wives
Sundayopinion By Thandi Chiweshe

UNDERSTANDING oppression, its causes and its consequences is the best
way to deal with it. Without a clear understanding why things are the way
they are, the oppressed often blame themselves, or become fatalistic about
their lot in life.

One of the nice things about being a feminist is that it gives you new
eyes through which to look at the world around you. As I watched the comings
and goings of the uninvited Presidential troika, trying to resolve our
national crisis, I could not help but go back into my experiences with women
in domestic violence situations to draw lessons and inspiration.

Many of us often wonder why women stay in abusive relationships. We
wonder how the violence ever began in the first place, and why the woman
just didn't pack up and leave the minute it occurred. I remember an occasion
in 1997 when Eddison Zvobgo presided over a public tribunal on violence
against women. One of the women told a harrowing tale of beatings, house
"arrests", and on occasion, humiliation in front of her work-mates.

Another spoke of how her husband would urinate on her and tell her
that she was an idiot. Zvobgo then castigated the women for sitting there
and letting it all happen. "What were you waiting for? Someone to come and
save you? Yes,

we have laws but the law is not going to come to your house", he
advised the women - and all of us.

Yes Dr. Zvobgo, why indeed have you and others who foisted Mugabe on
us not done something to stop him? Are you not clever enough? What are you
waiting for? Mbeki to save us? I can ask the same question to the many men
who also often ask the same questions about violated women. Why are you
tolerating the abuse and the humiliation day in and day out? Or are you as
powerless as abused women often feel?

Priscilla Misihairabwi, MP for Glen Norah once remarked that all men
in Zanu PF were behaving like battered wives. All of us collectively have
been battered and bruised. If it's not direct physical abuse, it's been
psychological abuse. The most visible aspect is the violence done to us via
ZBC/TV. What else can one call the amount of garbage, insults and abuse of
our air-waves that we have been subjected to day in and day out? Yet we
faithfully continue to turn on our radios and televisions. We get angry,
feel like switching them off. But we don't.

Some of us even still buy The Herald! I marvel when I see a motorist
beside me hoot furiously to The Herald vendor to bring his - its normally a
he - paper. It is almost as if we are addicted to the horrid stuff. And we
are. We just can't stop buying that paper, or listening to that nauseating
voice on the radio.

We behave exactly like the abused woman. She clings on. She even
continues to reproduce in the vain hope that things will change. But they
don't. A violated woman becomes fatalistic. She starts believing in the
supernatural, or she buries her head in some fundamentalist religion. Many
of us have got to that point. That is why the religious fundamentalist
element is now thriving in Zimbabwe. That is why every available vlei in
Harare is filled with mapostori, praying day and night. At the upper end of
the social spectrum the foot stomping, happy clappie-give-us-your-tithe
churches are filled to the brim with yuppies at prayer. See no evil, hear no
evil, just prepare to go to heaven, seems to be the message. We are in
collective denial about how bad things are and can get. Burying ourselves in
religion is our strategy for coping. Religion is the opium of the people -
Karl Marx was right after all.

Then there is the role of the family, the neighbours, or some
"brokers". On hearing about this alleged violence they embark on
fact-finding missions to really establish what is going on. The in-laws, the
neighbours, the relatives, they will all come. They will arrive, one fine
weekend. They are received with joy, by the husband, and wife, arm in arm.
As they enter the house they remark on the lovely garden, the clean
children, aahh and the new furniture. Are these signs of a relationship in
crisis, they wonder? They are fed to their hearts' content. They chat and
laugh, as if nothing has happened. On enquiring about the alleged violence -
if they ever remember why they are there in the first place - they are met
with disbelief. "Violence? Me? Abusing her? Ask her? Does she look like an
abused wife to you? Does she have any scars? Look at her. Look at this house
full of new furniture that I bought her last week. Look at her well-done
hair. She had that done just this morning. Look at our children. Where did
you hear this?"

The relatives will mumble some apology about other jealous distant
relatives. Those who don't want to see our family prosper. All the while
nobody really asks the wife what she thinks, nor do they provide the safe
space for her to do so.

Such were the early missions of SADC, Mbeki and Obasanjo etc. They
came, they didn't see "anything", and they were convinced this was the work
of some foreigners bent on destroying Zimbabwe's image. I remember clearly
the arguments of some Africans who came to monitor elections, and of many
who have come to my organisation in the last few months. They see the nice
road from Harare airport, the lovely Meikles Hotel and our seemingly
well-ordered townships, and wonder why we complain so loudly. Many of the
scars we carry are not visible. How do you begin to make them understand?
The language of oppression and patriarchy does not have the words, "feel,
emotions, pain, psychological" in its lexicon. They only believe in what is
visible to the naked eye.

A few months later the violence recurs. This time there are scars. The
wife threatens to leave. The relatives or neighbours return. This time the
response has changed. "She started it. She scolded our mother. She is not
cleaning the house properly. In fact she hit me right here on the forehead!
Look!" Indeed the scar where the pot landed is visible. The wife tries to
explain her side of the story, but of course the father of the house has
spoken. He has given the framework for the discussion. Anything outside this
is problematic. The discussion is turned on its head. The victim becomes the
problem. She is responsible for what happened to her. She invited it. She
deserved it. She must learn not to challenge the ordained power holder.

Similarly the AU people came and were shown the buses allegedly burnt
by the opposition. They were taken to Chinhoyi and shown the damage done to
Zanu PF offices by "MDC thugs". The problem was presented as a fight between
equals, struggling for power. The real issues under-lying this are
forgotten.

Mbeki, Obasanjo and Muluzi are Mugabe's relatives. Just like the
relatives of the abusive husband. They have ties that bind. They have a
common history. Wives don't have common histories with their husbands.
"Makauya nezuro uno imi", (you came only yesterday), you will be reminded
when you as they say, "forget your place" in the matrimonial hierarchy.

Relatives often have their own interests to protect. Your problem
comes second to theirs. Some owe the husband money. Others share some secret
with him. Others expect some favours in the future. You scratch my back I
scratch yours. There is no way a sitting President can see the side of the
story of another vying for power - albeit from his friend/neighbour. Each
person in the troika has their own personal and national interests to
protect. Their concerns for Zimbabwe and its citizens are secondary. The
sooner we realise that, the better off we will be.

An abused woman also misplaces her faith in these brokers. She expects
them to deliver her from this bad situation. "Dai mandibatsirawo", - help me
please, she pleads. She even begins to assume they like her. "Mai vacho
vanozondida. Kana vari sekuru vacho, ah ungati ihama yangu. They will fight
for me. He has to listen to them," she boasts feebly. She is always the last
to know about the secret deals between her husband and his relatives.

Finally, the woman realises no-one but herself will ever save her. She
has to make up her mind to stay or get out. She has to work through her
fears-real or otherwise, and find the courage to say zvakwana. No matter how
well meaning, friends, neighbours, or relatives will not do it for her.

Mbeki, Obasanjo and Muluzi can only hear from us what we want as
Zimbabweans. They cannot save us from Mugabe. We should tell them that. We
must liberate ourselves.
Back to the Top
Back to Index

Zim Standard


Morgan Tsvangirai: Can he lead Zimbabwe?
Chido Makunike on Sunday

RECENTLY I have sought out leading politicians to probe them in depth
on issues touching on Zimbabwe's challenges. Being a critic of the
establishment, perhaps it is not surprising that my overtures to ruling
party officials have been rebuffed so far, but I still hope to overcome this
resistance.

I approached MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai, someone I have also
criticised more than I have praised. He readily agreed and I met him on May
23. I sought to get a general measure of the man rather than ask about
specific events.

Why is so little known about his family?

"We have fairly young children, and want them to have as normal an
upbringing as possible. We don't want them to become the objects of
attention."

How are they coping with his treason trial?

"They are concerned about the gravity and the possible outcome, but I
have a strong team of lawyers, and have confidence the truth will prevail."

Surely it was nave to trust the strangers who turned him in to the
authorities?

"We were too trustful, but it is unfair to call us naive. They had a
different agenda to ours, there was no malice in our meeting them."

* The MDC claims to have approached the Canadian consultants merely
for political consultancy, rather than to hire them to assassinate President
Mugabe as charged.

Are you bitter about it all?

"It has changed me a lot. I am more suspicious, now people have to
earn my trust."

Does he sometime "switch off" from all the pressures ?

"I am on call 24 hours a day, but manage my time very strictly. I have
very competent lieutenants and staff, and delegate a lot of duties to them."

Have whites taken a lower profile because of accusations that the
party was a front for their interests? A now famous picture of white farmers
with open cheque books surrounding you was used to portray the MDC as
wanting to "give Zimbabwe back to the whites." Why would whites who had been
generally apolitical after independence so eagerly support the party unless
it was because they thought you would serve their interests by forestalling
land reform?

I went to Mhangura to address mine workers, "and those farmers were
just a handful of people in a crowd of 10 000. No one believes I am under
the control of whites, otherwise the MDC would have been long gone by now.
If they are taking a back seat, it is merely because they have never been
the dominant force in the party. We stand by the principles of
non-tribalism, non-racialism and non-sexism, so it is natural that whites
find the MDC their political home after their bashing at the hands of Zanu
PF."

* His formal schooling is limited, and his double-crossing by Ari
Ben-Menashe, reputed Canadian fraudster, made many question how much he is
street smart.

Is Tsvangirai rather slow, lacking in intellectual depth?

"If you want intellectuals go to the university! I am very confident
of my leadership role, and feel no inferiority complex to anyone."

His view of the recent visit of three African presidents to try and
break the impasse between Zanu PF and the MDC?

"There was no breakthrough, but their visit was significant. It became
obvious that the crisis is one of governance, not Zimbabwe/Britain
differences. The insistence on no preconditions for dialogue was another
milestone. The final sticking point was the issue of recognising Mugabe as
the rightful president."

* Tsvangirai has not conceded this point, and his challenge of
Mugabe's win of last year's election drags on through the courts.

It has been said that Africa is lukewarm to the MDC partly because it
cozied up to the West more. He denies the charge, giving an example of five
West African heads of state he visited before his passport was seized as a
condition of bail. In the region, he admits, "it was an uphill struggle to
be accepted by the liberation-era governments, but we finally succeeded."

They re-evaluated their stance and MDC delegations to several
countries in the region have been received by their governments."

* His Zanu PF detractors nickname him "Tsvangson," alleging he is
merely a tool of the West, rather than a home grown opposition leader. He
defended himself.

"My background in the labour and constitutional movements should tell
you I am no one's lackey. No one has a monopoly on patriotism. I will not
discharge my responsibilities by betraying my national interests. Zimbabwe
needs to find its own niche in the world. Britain, the US and other powers
are not necessarily philanthropists, but we will seek mutually beneficial
partnerships with them."

Who bankrolls the MDC?

"We are largely funded by the State in proportion to our
representation in parliament, just like Zanu PF. We receive voluntary
contributions nationally and before the Political Finance Act banned foreign
funding, we received a small amount of external support," he said.

"It is best for all political funding to be local, but our reality is
that it needs to be supplemented, which is why Zanu PF received large
amounts of external support before the Act. If not adequately funded,
democracy is endangered, but foreign money can result in undue external
influence on a country's politics."

The behaviour of some leading members of the MDC, ranging from
childish to criminal, has called in to question their ability to govern.

Tsvangirai responds:"We are a young party, and what we lack in
experience is compensated for by our capacity. Our ability to govern must be
measured against the ability of Zanu PF to misgovern. We control five big
cities and our mayors have outperformed their Zanu PF predecessors, even
under difficult conditions. We chair five committees of parliament, and are
more experienced and better prepared to govern than Zanu PF was in 1980.
Some of its legislators wore shorts to Parliament because they were not
aware there was a dress code!"

So what, when that body has been made almost useless?

"It is true that Parliament has been undermined, with it sitting as
rarely as possible, but the MDC's entry has introduced a new political
culture. It is now a lively platform for debate."

On whether the black middle class generally shuns the MDC, Tsvangirai
replied, "They do support us in private, but some have benefited from Zanu
PF patronage, such as wealth from speculation based on privileged access to
fuel, foreign currency and so on. Their assets are not performing in this
environment, and are actually draining their resources. But we also now have
a core of good entrepreneurs who have not relied on patronage and
speculation to be where they are."

Should you assume power, where would you start to unravel the mess?

He replied, "We would reestablish the rule of law. You need peace and
security before you can revive the economy, an urgent task no longer
amenable to orthodox methods. "

"It would be critical to revive the agricultural sector, which does
not necessarily mean going back to the status quo of a few years ago.

Is Tsvangirai a president in waiting, or just the latest in a string
of opposition leaders to be outwitted by Robert Mugabe and fade in to
political oblivion?

As the economic crisis worsens, confrontation with the government
escalates and his treason trial proceeds, the next several months will be
critical in determining Morgan Tsvangirai's future.

Chidomakunike@yahoo.com
Back to the Top
Back to Index

Zim Standard

Confront the real issues Mr Mugabe


... The real threat to your power base Mr President is not Tsvangirai
but the people of Zimbabwe. WHAT will probably be remembered as the most
memorable self-fulfilling statement by President Mugabe occurred on Friday
the 6th of June 2003.

Addressing a rally at Mamina in Mhondoro, Mashonaland WestProvince,
President Mugabe said of Morgan Tsvangirai, President of the Movement for
Democratic Change (MDC): "Those whom the gods wish to destroy, they first
make mad."

How prophetic! President Mugabe and the ruling Zanu PF party must
grasp one quite simple fact: It is not Morgan Tsvangirai who is a threat to
your power base but the people of Zimbabwe. To attempt to blame Tsvangirai
and the MDC is to completely miss the point of the mass protests.

Provide an environment in which people are not idling in fuel and food
queues endlessly doing nothing and Tsvangirai will have no leg to stand on.
Generate employment and make basic commodities available at affordable
prices and the talk of marches and protests will vanish into thin air
overnight. Put a stop to tyranny and the abuse of human rights and more
power will be given unto you by the people.

As long as the country's economy remains in intensive care, your own
position will remain vulnerable. This is the crux of the matter. You can
delude yourself by dismissing the protests as a flop but is this the real
issue? The real issue, Mr President, is that the people of Zimbabwe are
completely dissatisfied and disillusioned with the state of affairs in the
country. Tsvangirai has won the hearts and minds of the Zimbabweans because
of this dissatisfaction and disillusionment - pure and simple. The MDC
leader has only to blow the whistle and the whole country shuts down - even
though you choose to shut your eyes to this reality.

For how long can the ruling party continue to control the population
of this country by massive use of brute force? It is foolhardy to think that
you can subdue the people's will indefinitely by military means alone. It is
a serious error of judgement to think that all the people who participated
in the stayaway were necessarily members of the MDC.The truth is that these
were ordinary Zimbabweans fed up with the situation in the country.

President Mugabe and the ruling party must neither underrate the mood
of the people nor their power to change things. As long as Zimbabweans
continue to suffer the way they are doing, the challenge and threat to the
President's power base remains. And it will be arrogant and naive in the
extreme for the government and its media to gloat that they have scored an
immense propaganda victory over Morgan Tsvangirai and the MDC.

Last week's mass stayaway was not just mass action for the hell of it.
The main goal was to express people's anger about the current political and
economic crisis. Nobody benefited from those events. The government must
certainly realise that it gobbled up more resources that it could ill
afford. And much more has been lost because people are no longer productive
in the whole country.

We report elsewhere of the folly of sending thousands of soldiers and
police officers onto the streets to crush protests by your own people, that
has already cost Zimbabweans more than $2 billion this week alone. Who can
afford such unnecessary costs? Not Zimbabwe, not yourself, Mr President.

It is this kind of unbudgeted for and unnecessary expenditure that
result in Zimbabwe getting expelled from international organisations such as
the IMF, as we also report.

Zimbabwe needs a political solution today, not tomorrow.

It matters little how many times Tsvangirai is arrested on fresh
charges of treason but the problems will not go away. The sooner Zanu PF
grasps this simple point, the better for us all. A way has, therefore, to be
found out of this current impasse.

Zanu PF has its back on the wall right now and with the army and the
police backing them to the hilt, their back can only remain on the wall for
some time-but at great cost to the country. Tsvangirai and MDC do not have
much to lose by holding out but again it will be the country that will
increasingly be damaged in the process.

So what is to be done? The two leaders have to swallow their pride in
the interest of Zimbabwe. More so President Mugabe because there can be no
doubt that most Zimbabweans want him to quit. It is important for Zanu PF to
adapt and reinvent itself from time to time as all living things do.

The President has little children. What kind of future are you leaving
them? Are you that callous, cruel and reckless that you no longer care about
the future of your children and other Zimbabwean people's children? Are we
asking too much of you to do something about your unharnessed ego of a small
child, your craze for attention and reverence?

Deriding Tsvangirai is not the way to create an environment conducive
to dialoguing with your opponents. Mwana wani iyeye hardly creates an
atmosphere in which an opposition party that commands a huge following can
be accommodated.

Acknowledge Mr Mugabe that there can be no real political solution to
our crisis without the participation of the MDC-whether you like it or not.
To a Zimbabwe labouring under a near-collapse of the economy, Tsvangirai has
brought a dynamic new energy and focus. And you have to recognise this fact
whether you like it or not.

To Tsvangirai, a point has to be driven home that Yes, the Zimbabwean
people are with you but if you do not transcend the current impasse, very
soon there will be no government or country to talk about. People know that
far from contributing to the destruction of the country, you are passionate
about lifting the country out of its present predicament.

Political leaders must get away from the notion that gaining office is
the sole and exclusive purpose of politics. For office, however sweet and
agreeable to those who hold it, pales into insignificance when it comes to
the interest of Zimbabwe. As part of our role as moral counsellor, we feel
as a paper that it is our duty to point the way forward for our country.
This deadlock is not helping anyone. It has to be broken.

President Mugabe restored hope and public confidence to Zimbabwe in
1980. You can do it again in 2003. It does not add any value to try "to
teach Morgan Tsvangirai a lesson" as you have been saying these past two
days. You will merely be pushing hard a door which is already open. Rise
above your pet projects you two.

Great men can and do cause great events to happen. We expect our
leaders to do precisely that.
Back to the Top
Back to Index

Zim Standard

Of mass action and massacres
overthetop By Brian Latham

The leader of a troubled central African nation, the most equal of all
comrades, has said it's regrettable he has to shoot tear gas at his own
youths in the interest of peace and stability.

The statement comes just months after the most equal of all comrades
said flattering things about a certain German who used an even more robust
form of gas against people he didn't like.

The statement came while the troubled central African regime was
experiencing its longest ever national strike as millions of people almost
rose up in defiance of the most equal of all comrades.

The strike saw cities across the nation paralysed as suspiciously
youthful cops loitered on city streets by day. And by night, suspiciously
youthful men dressed like cops and soldiers rampaged through townships,
committing countless acts of GBH against the More Drink Coming party.

Victims of violence flooded hospitals in cities across the country.

But despite the walking wounded -and worse-the government of the
troubled central African dictatorship denied any wrong-doing. The most equal
of all comrades dismissed the tear gas as necessary because the victims had
been "misled."

Not being satisfied with causing terror and mayhem in the capital's
troubled townships, victims of violence were re-visited in hospital, said
the More Drink Coming Party. "It seems they weren't traumatised enough first
time round to satisfy Zany loyalists," said an unnamed spokesman who can't
be named because he doesn't really want a third visit from club wielding
thugs.

Still, the tear gassed youths from the More Drink Coming Party
(formerly they More Diesel Coming Party, but everyone knows that's not going
to happen) were quick to disassociate themselves from the most equal of all
comrades. "We most certainly are not his youths," said one young man,
speaking in a muffled voice through several layers of bandages. "His youths
wear green or blue uniforms and are easily distinguishable from us because
of their well-fed appearance and the heavy armour they carry."

Meanwhile the Zany Party did its best to pretend there was no protest
by describing it as "a flop" and claiming it was business as usual.

The claim was made in the face of empty streets and closed doors to
shops, banks and supermarkets.

Growing increasingly frantic, the Zany Party threatened to confiscate
licenses from businesses, forgetting for the moment that few businesses
require licenses. Those that do get them from municipal councils which are
almost exclusively dominated in cities by the More Drink Coming Party, which
said it had no plans to remove licenses from anyone just yet.

But one troubled businessman told Over The Top that although he did
not need a license, he was worried because he'd heard "from a reliable
source" that the Zany Party intended to confiscate all businesses-especially
white-owned businesses-almost immediately after the mass action ended.

OTT tried to reassure him by explaining that even if the Zany Party
did attempt such a mad move, the confiscation of his business was likely to
be a temporary one because the Zany Party was frankly bankrupt of
everything, including time.

Sadly the troubled businessman wasn't satisfied with this explanation
and said he was considering emigrating to somewhere more stable, like the
DRC, Angola, Bosnia or Chechnya.

While the week of terror and mayhem, fear and loathing left the
troubled central African country bewildered and licking its wounds, the 60
odd percent of its people who live in urban areas asked what comes next?

While they said they were firm in their support of the More Drink
Coming Party, they rather hoped the More Drink Coming Party might be a
little more organised next time it organised a final push. They said there
simply isn't room in the city's hospitals to accommodate all the victims of
too many more final pushes.
Back to the Top
Back to Index