The ZIMBABWE Situation
An extensive and up-to-date website containing news, views and links related to ZIMBABWE - a country in crisis
Return to INDEX page
Please note: You need to have 'Active content' enabled in your IE browser in order to see the index of articles on this webpage

Big Brother Zim is watching you

Mail and Guardian

Harare, Zimbabwe

17 March 2006 12:43

The Zimbabwe government plans to push legislation through
Parliament to permit it to monitor telephones and e-mail messages, local
reports said on Friday. The Interception of Communications Bill is due to be
debated by parliament soon, said the Zimbabwe Independent newspaper.

Parliament is dominated by President Robert Mugabe's party, so
most government-drafted legislation gets passed very easily.

The bill "seeks to empower the chief of defence intelligence,
the director general of the Central Intelligence Organisation, the
commissioner of police and the commissioner general of the Zimbabwe Revenue
Authority to intercept telephonic messages passed through fixed lines,
cellular phones and the internet," said the Independent.

According to the paper, the bill -- if passed -- would also
allow state agents to open mail.

In recent years, Mugabe's government has passed a raft of strict
and highly controversial legislation, including the Public Order and
Security Act and the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act,
which says that all reporters must be licensed.

Mugabe says that Zimbabwe's sovereignty is under threat from
Western powers. But critics say he wants to limit freedom of expression.

Less than two years ago, the Zimbabwean president spoke about
the need for a security law "meant to bolster the security of our nation".

Quoting legal papers, the Independent said the new bill seeks to
allow the transport and communications minister to issue a warrant for the
interception of information "if there are reasonable grounds for the
minister to think that an offence has been committed or that there is a
threat to safety or national security of the country".

It was not immediately possible to get a copy of the bill. --
Sapa-dpa


Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Zim sees 'dismal' crop harvest

News24

17/03/2006 18:50 - (SA)

Harare - Zimbabwe expects a "dismal" harvest of the staple maize grain this
year, with farmers likely to produce less than half what the country needs
because of lack of key inputs like fertiliser, a farmers group said on
Friday.

Once a net exporter of grain to southern Africa, Zimbabwe has suffered food
shortages for five years as the farming sector was hit by drought and
disruptions linked to President Robert Mugabe's controversial land reforms.

On Friday the Commercial Farmers Union (CFU) - most of whose members were
targeted in the government's drive to forcibly redistribute white-owned land
to blacks - said Zimbabwe expected another poor maize harvest of 795 000
tonnes against domestic needs of around 1.8 million tonnes.

"Despite the good rains received in 2005/6 season, the crop forecasts remain
dismal. This is mainly due to the grossly inadequate state of preparedness
for the growing of the current summer and the forthcoming winter crop," the
CFU said.

"The 'ghost' of the land reform program launched in 2000 has continued to
haunt agriculture as uncertainty to tenure continues to dog both new and old
farmers to embark on long term investments to increase productivity," it
added in a report to neighbouring South African farmers made available to
Reuters.

"With the constant threat of forced disruption and eviction, no commercial
farmer is guaranteed that what he has sowed he will be able to reap."

Mugabe's government has not yet put out any crop forecasts for the current
November-April season, but earlier this month state media reported a dry
spell in various parts of the country was likely to reduce an anticipated
bumper harvest.

The central bank says Zimbabwe imported a reported $135m worth of grain last
year to make up for a food deficit which has left an estimated 4.3 million
Zimbabweans in need of food aid through at least the beginning of April.

The agriculture sector was estimated to have declined by 12% in 2005, mainly
due to drought, inadequate supply of inputs such as seed and fertiliser and
low productivity arising from farming disruptions, said the CFU report,
which was jointly prepared by the Zimbabwe Farmers Union grouping mainly
black communal farmers.

"Projections for 2006 indicate that performance of the sector is going to be
negative arising from below par performance of maize, wheat, tobacco, soya
beans and horticulture."

The industry had also been hit by erratic supplies of electricity and fuel,
part of a broader economic crisis also showing itself in foreign exchange
shortages, the highest rate of inflation in the world at 782%, and
unemployment of over 70%.

Mugabe, in power since independence from Britain in 1980, denies critics'
charges that he has misruled the country, and in turn accuses opponents of
his land reforms of sabotaging Zimbabwe's economy.

A well-placed aid community source told Reuters on Thursday that Zimbabwe's
overall maize needs could drop to 1.4 million tonnes from 1.8 million this
year - but only because Aids and emigration are reducing the population.


Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Zimbabwe opposition seeks new leaders, direction

Reuters

Fri Mar 17, 2006 9:02 AM ET
By Cris Chinaka
HARARE (Reuters) - Zimbabwe's main opposition will elect a new leadership
this weekend, hoping to reinvigorate the splintered party's challenge to
President Robert Mugabe and its claim to legitimacy among disillusioned
voters.

Veteran politicians, trade unionists and fiery activists are all vying for
the top posts in the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), which formally
split into two this year after a bruising internal battle.

The congress of the MDC's main faction formally begins on Saturday and is
expected to endorse a new term for veteran party president Morgan
Tsvangirai, who in 2002 almost unseated Mugabe in national polls he later
claimed were stolen.

But much will depend on whom the party faithful pick as Tsvangirai's new
lieutenants to guide the MDC in both its battles with Mugabe and its
stand-off with rival MDC members who have formed their own opposition group.

Political analysts say the new leadership will almost certainly reflect
Tsvangirai's own uncompromising approach and could usher the party into
fresh confrontation with Mugabe's ZANU-PF, which has ruled Zimbabwe since
independence in 1980.

But they said the loyalist group will still face a tough challenge as it
reorganizes following this year's schism.

"Many of these people are fiery speakers with strong organizational skills,"
said Professor Heneri Dzinotyiwei, a political commentator at the University
of Zimbabwe.

"But their skills are only going to count if they have a program ... and
that is something that we are not going to know for some months."

THE "AUTHENTIC" OPPOSITION

Nelson Chamisa, spokesman for Tsvangirai's MDC faction, said the group would
emerge from the congress rejuvenated.

"The congress is going to demonstrate the wealth of talent that is in the
MDC, and the congress is going to be an important platform for the MDC to
reinvigorate its programs, to fire up the struggle against Mugabe and his
ZANU-PF dictatorship," Chamisa told Reuters.

"This is the real MDC, and its programs will show that it is the authentic
opposition party," he said.

Some long-time MDC supporters are not convinced.

The party foundered late last year amid infighting over Tsvangirai's call to
boycott elections for a new Senate, and eventually split with Tsvangirai
accusing his rivals of working for Mugabe and the rebel faction in turn
charging him with acting like a "dictator" and overriding party members'
wishes.

The rebel group held its own congress in February and elected former student
activist Arthur Mutambara as its new leader. The two groups both claim to
represent the "real" MDC, a situation which must be resolved before the next
presidential elections in 2009.

Tsvangirai, who has been at the forefront of the MDC's struggle against
Mugabe's increasingly authoritarian rule since the party was formed in 1999,
is expected to be joined by the strongest of his loyalists following the
party vote.

Those jostling for positions include prominent Harare lawyer and legislator
Tendai Biti who wants to become secretary-general in place of Welshman
Ncube, who co-led the rebel group.

Other contestants are trade unionist Isaac Matongo, seen likely to hold on
to his job as national chairman, and Roy Bennett, one of the country's few
white politicians, expected to land the post of party treasurer.

Analysts say the MDC's internal problems have hobbled the opposition at a
crucial moment with Mugabe struggling to tame a deep economic crisis that
many critics blame on his government.

Zimbabwe, once the region's breakbasket, has suffered frequent food and fuel
shortages, rapidly rising unemployment and the highest inflation rate in the
world since Mugabe plunged into a crisis six years ago initially by seizing
white-owned commercial farmland for landless blacks.


Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Mugabe rival faces critical test

BBC

Zimbabwe opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai is to face his party's
first congress since it split last year.
The BBC's Peter Biles says the meeting should indicate whether Mr
Tsvangirai is still a major political player.

Mr Tsvangirai's rivals accused him of ignoring the party's wishes. His
supporters say the split was engineered by President Robert Mugabe's party.

The rival Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) faction elected its own
leader, Arthur Mutambara, last month.

Irreconcilable

Our correspondent says for the past six years, opposition supporters
have expected much of the MDC led by Mr Tsvangirai.

But President Mugabe's hold on power remains as strong as ever as
internal wrangling within the MDC has divided the party, he says.

The split was sparked by a row over whether to take part in elections
to the senate last year.

But senior party officials say the decision highlighted a problem with
Mr Tsvangirai's leadership.

They say he imposed an election boycott even though a majority of
party leaders wanted to take part.

Some within the party blame the split on ruling party.

"These divisions have been induced by this dictatorship, people who
have been bought over by Zanu-PF and the regime of Mugabe," Nelson Chamisa,
spokesman for the pro-Tsvangirai faction, told the BBC's Network Africa
programme.

He said the weekend congress, where Mr Tsvangirai faces re-election,
would give him a fresh mandate and help him rebuild the party.

"There's no doubt that the MDC is going to emerge stronger and is
poised for growth, victory and success."

But our correspondent says the relationship between the two MDC
factions remains hostile and the differences apparently irreconcilable.

Observers say President Mugabe continues to take advantage of the
weakened opposition, although Zimbabwe is still experiencing serious
shortages of food, fuel and foreign currency, as well as hyperinflation.


Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Let's unite and make Mugabe history!

New Zimbabwe

By Jethro Mpofu
Last updated: 03/18/2006 04:33:54
THE Zimbabwean economic and political condition is unfortunate, unfair,
unnecessary and unwanted. Our country has obviously fallen to be continental
and global economic and political bad example.

The very essential education delivery sector is suffering a sad collapse.
The important health provision sector is in an unhealthy condition of decay.
The average and the ordinary citizens of the country are drowning in poverty
and misery, while Mugabe and the chosen few swim in vulgar prosperity.

At this rate, it really takes a strong belief in miracles and wonders to
imagine a future for our country. We have allowed it to go on for too long.
We almost have embraced our man-made economic disasters and Zanu PF
manufactured political crisis as our natural and necessary trials and
tribulations. While turning the other cheek, forgiving and forgetting can be
virtues, too much patience with political evil, injustice, theft and
corruption can be unforgivable weaknesses. At this stage, where evil of Zanu
PF can be seen by the blind and where the sins of the regime can be
experienced and witnessed even by some of the pilots of the Zanu PF project
it will be a grave on our part not to act. In fact, history might judge us
unkindly. Posterity might fix to our generation the unwanted label of
traitors and cowards who failed to confront evil, who failed to correct
wrong and who failed to act when opportunities compelled.

There is no doubt; Zimbabwe is rich in human and other resources. It is only
our mismanagement of the political and economic capital that becomes a
roadblock to our political, developmental and democratic project. There are
brave men and women in the Tsvangirai led MDC. There courageous sons and
daughters of Zimbabwe in the UPM. There are valiant citizens of Zimbabwe in
the Mutambara-led MDC. There are men and women of courage and conscience in
our religious community. There are dedicated activists in the NCA and in the
students' movement, strong women of Woza and also talented and creative
singers, poets and novelists on our cultural landscape. We have Journalists
of insight and dedication in our midst. The question is what must be done?
How do we mobilise all this talent and energy, all this wealth of courage
and fearlessness towards the grand project of recovering our country from
tyranny and economic collapse?

There is a need for a solid unity of political purpose and intention in our
country. We need to collapse divisions amongst us and construct progressive
unities against the regime. It is sad to note that in most instances leaders
in the opposition and civic society almost undo Mugabe and Zanu PF
intolerance as we scandalise and criminalise each other, most often due to
petty political jealousies and prejudices. We need to observe the basic
truth that at this stage where the regime must be deconstructed by all
available means we need each other as Zimbabweans, even those still in Zanu
PF are allowed by revolutionary necessity to rejoin themselves into a
revolutionary conspiracy with other Zimbabweans and contribute all they can
that will help in the undressing of the emperor and deconstruction of the
empire. The weaknesses of the others and the objective is one, the
re-invention of our country which will be concretised in the crafting of a
new leadership for the country and the drafting of a new constitution.

The Nigerians have a saying that "you can put a log in water for as long as
you want but it will never become a crocodile." Mugabe is an example that a
man can be entrusted with the leadership of his country for ore than two
decades and still fail to be a hero. Here is a man, who in his own words has
insisted that "Zimbabwe will never be a colony again" and that "to vote Zanu
PF is to shame Blair" and imperialism. His Excellency is very innocent of
the fact that his bad economic management and hostile political leadership
have led to a situation where hundreds of thousands of young Zimbabweans
have exported themselves to the United Kingdom to serve Blair doing menial
and sometimes embarrassing jobs suitable for only slaves and the
colonised-talk about shaming Blair and imperialism. The challenge of the new
Zimbabwe is to ensure that the economic and political conditions in the
country make Zimbabwe a hospitable home for all Zimbabweans to the extent
that we will attract foreign investors and tourists instead of repelling
citizens and forcing them to resort to being economic refugees in foreign
lands.

The current regime's failure or unwillingness to fund and sustain the
important education sector is also an embarrassing irony and a painful
paradox. Coming from a government that claims to hate foreign influence and
interference. The fact that our universities are under funded, the lecturers
poorly paid means that the infrastructure of the colleges and universities
will not be producing its own professionals and experts in any sector of the
economy and society. For doctors, lecturers, engineers, lawyers and other
essential professions will soon be relying on expatriates and other imports
for knowledge and other needs and services. This regime is actually working
over time calculating and cultivating to re-colonisation of our country. Our
government does not have the money to pay academic professionals, buy books
and fund academic researches -the money they have is buying bombs, bullets,
guns, teargas, button sticks and other instruments to pain and death. In
short here is a regime that will invest everything in pain and death rather
than in the knowledge, the future and the life of the country.

Throughout the country, the hospitals are collapsing. Patients die of
hunger, the doctors are very poorly paid, medicines and medical equipment
are hard to come by and mortuaries are overflowing, it's Babylon! Yet our
government and its apologists will mobilise funds and all other resources to
sponsor the celebration of Mugabe's 82nd Birthday. Talk about twisted
priorities. In short, here is a government that urgently needs to be
changed. In fact, at this juncture, the responsibility and irresponsibility
of every Zimbabwean will be measured on one's commitment at ensuring this
government is changed yesterday.

Despite the abundant rains that our country has received, the nation will
still starve. The regime mishandled the land reform project. Vast spaces of
land were given to cronies and friends of his excellence to buy allegiance
and votes instead of empowering local Agricultural production. The land has
not been utilised the implements for farming were not made available; the
inputs like fertilizer were also scarce.

Surely, are we the proverbial fools that will be thirsty in the abundance of
water, hungry where food was naturally meant to be plenty? In short what
have we done against Mugabe and Zanu PF that will give them the right to
substitute themselves for the creator and sentence all of us to this
political and economic slavery? If there is nothing, we Zimbabweans need to
unite and urgently help Mugabe and Zanu PF to go!

I believe strongly that the political opposition in Zimbabwe should organise
an all stakeholder's conference where strategies and progressive plans can
be generated. I believe strongly again that the opposition should take
advantage of the serious divisions and the factionalism that is currently
rocking the ruling party.

Actually, below the pretence of normalcy and order that they put up in the
media, Zanu PF have never been more divided. As the date for Mugabe's
departure naturally nears there is panic and unease in the various camps and
these divisions are rich political capital for the opposition.
Mpofu is a former university student leader and political activist. He can
be contacted at bdialogue@yahoo.com


Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Tsvangirai's olive branch 'a hoax'

Percy Zvomuya

Mail and Guardian

17 March 2006 07:48

In the latest power play in the divided Zimbabwean opposition
Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), the Morgan Tsvangirai faction has
hand-delivered letters to estranged office bearers Gibson Sibanda and
Welshman Ncube, inviting them to attend the party's congress at the weekend.

"We are inviting Gibson Sibanda as vice-president, we are
inviting Welshman Ncube as secretary general . we don't recognise factions
in the MDC. This is a platform for them to air their grievances,"
spokesperson for the Tsvangirai camp, Nelson Chamisa, told the Mail &
Guardian on recently.

Sibanda and Ncube could not be reached for comment. Paul
Themba-Nyathi, a spokesperson for the pro- Senate MDC faction, however,
dismissed the Tsvangirai overture as a "hoax". "I don't see why they should
send invitations to them. I don't know in what capacity they are being
invited."

The pro-Senate president, Arthur Mutambara, did not crack an
invite because "we don't know Mutambara. He is not even a member. He is not
in the grassroots structures of the party," Chamisa said cynically.

The party split into two factions last year after fallout over
participation in the Senate elections.

Tsvangirai's anti-Senate camp is set to re-elect him as party
president at the congress under the theme "Rallying People for a New
Zimbabwe". Changes to the Constitution and developing strategies to unseat
the ruling Zanu-PF government are top of the agenda.

Chamisa said the gathering of about 10 000 delegates in Harare
will be a tribute to "all the brave women and men who sacrificed their
lives, property and were beaten and disabled by the Zanu-PF regime because
they were members of the MDC".

But the party's urban constituency's blood is no longer
quickened by opposition politics but by the more pressing politics of the
stomach.

Political analyst at the University of Zimbabwe, Eldred
Masungunure, said: "Zimbabweans are looking for the resolution of the
economic crisis. I don't think this congress or the [pro-Senate] one before
it will have a dramatic effect on the political landscape."

A security guard, Nicholas Muzavazi, said: "We have not heard
much about the congress but we support Tsvangirai nevertheless."


Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

MDC UK pro-senate group rocked by infighting



By Tichaona Sibanda
16 March 2006

The pro-senate faction of the MDC in the UK has been rocked by
internal squabbles barely two months after its formation. Secretary of the
pro-senate camp Sipho Nkala has been suspended following allegations that
she was fanning tribalism within the group.

Chairman Silence Chihuri, who is alleged to have sent Nkala the
suspension letter, would only say it was a confidential matter that his
executive was working on.

'This is not a matter for the press, it's a confidential issue, we
will deal with this internally and if Sipho Nkala wants to talk about it,
well its fine she can talk to you about it if she wants too,' said Chihuri.

Nkala confirmed she has been suspended but was quick to denounce the
decision by her colleagues saying rules were not followed.

Asked if this meant there was a serious internal infighting in the
group, Nkala admitted there were internal squabbles instigated by a few
individuals.

'There are only three people in the executive who are causing so much
trouble. They have levelled serious allegations against me and I am looking
for an opportunity to exonerate myself,' she said.

According to a Zimbabwe website ChangeZimbabwe.com an official from
the group leaked to them news that Nkala was being accused of fanning
tribalism.

The website alleged that she was also accused of running the faction
as a personal entity where she imposed her wishes contrary to the group.

Nkala was instrumental in breaking away from the MDC UK district,
taking with her several individuals to form the pro-senate faction.
Others in that group are Chihuri and organising secretary Givemore
Chindawi, both former executive members of the MDC UK.

SW Radio Africa Zimbabwe news


Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Madhuku says room for only ONE MDC in Zimbabwe



By Violet Gonda
17 March 2006

Analysts have said the MDC Congress may finally seal the split in the
crisis ridden opposition party.

The chairman of the National Constitutional Assembly, Dr Lovemore
Madhuku, has warned that Zimbabweans will not entertain two factions in the
struggle against the dictatorship saying; "There is only one room and that
room must be fitted by one MDC. After this congress civic leaders and the
other people who are interested in the progress of the country will have to
choose which group we will decide to call the MDC."

He said this last congress will not only show which faction commands
the majority of the people who are opposed to the regime but also define
whether Morgan Tsvangirai, as the founding president of the MDC, is still
able to rally the masses behind him.

The outspoken commentator stressed Zimbabwe cannot afford to have the
luxury of having two movements if they seriously want to get rid of the
Mugabe regime adding; "We will not tolerate the personal egos of the
gentlemen who are leading the two groups. If we see people are behind
Tsvangirai we will tell the people that they must go behind Tsvangirai. If
we see people are behind Mutambara we will tell the people that they must go
behind Mutambara."

The opposition party split into two factions when party President
Morgan Tsvangirai defied a National Council vote on October 12th on whether
to participate in the senate elections.

Tsvangirai felt the senate did not represent the desires of the party's
grassroots and was a waste of much needed money while his colleagues in the
Top 6 felt that as a political party they needed to participate in the
political process and did not want to lose ground to ZANU PF. Tsvangirai was
accused of being a dictator, which subsequently led to the group seeking a
High Court application to suspend him. The application was thrown out by the
courts.

Observers say the senate issue was the straw that broke the camel's
back as the rift between the top leadership has been widening in the last 3
years.

Madhuku who attended the congress for the pro-senate side is also
going as an observer to this congress. He said the turn out, enthusiasm and
sense of purpose seen at the two separate congresses will show which group
commands support from the majority of people.

The Tsvangirai led faction reports that over 13 000 delegates had been
accredited by noon Friday, with more expected as the day progressed. There
were at least 3 000 delegates who attended the congress for the other group,
led by the former militant student leader Arthur Mutambara, last month.

In his acceptance speech as leader of the group Mutambara called for
unity and reconciliation. Asked whether Tsvangirai should take that hand of
reconciliation for the sake of progress Madhuku said, "Unfortunately
Mutambara is the wrong person to preach unity. Once he decided to join one
group of MDC that resonated better with his views. it becomes very difficult
for the other group to accept him as a person who is genuine."

Madhuku believes it is therefore not possible for Mutambara to lead
this crusade saying he must now allow other people to talk about unity
between the two groups.

On the other hand some observers say Tsvangirai can be partly held
responsible for splitting the MDC and faces the stern test this week of
reorganising and rejuvenating his party. Madhuku said Tsvangirai has to
learn from his mistakes of the previous years, "The mistake which he had was
hesitating on leading a mass uprising against the Mugabe regime."

SW Radio Africa Zimbabwe news


Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Zimbabwe state prosecutor refuses to handle treason case after threats from security agents

Zim Online

Sat 18 March 2006

MUTARE - A state prosecutor assigned to handle an application for bail
for Peter Michael Hitschmann who is accused of plotting to assassinate
President Robert Mugabe on Friday declined to handle the case after threats
from Zimbabwe's feared state security agents.

Hitschmann, together with six others including the opposition Movement
for Democratic Change (MDC) legislator for Mutare North, Giles Mutsekwa,
were arrested last week after the discovery by the police of an arms cache
in the eastern city of Mutare.

The police said Hitschmann, a soldier in the white settler army, had
implicated the MDC officials and confessed that they were plotting to
assassinate Mugabe and commit acts of banditry around the country.

But Mutsekwa and the other MDC officials were earlier this week
released from custody after the Attorney General's office refused to
prosecute citing serious weaknesses in the state case. Hitschmann, who had
already applied for bail at the High Court, was however remanded in custody
pending the hearing of his bail application.

Hitschmann's case was due to be heard yesterday by Justice Hungwe who
is in Mutare on a High Court circuit. But state prosecutor, Levison Chikafu,
stunned the court when he declined to handle the case citing "personal
reasons".

A lawyer representing Hitschmann, Blessing Nyamaropa told ZimOnline
last night that Chikafu had initially agreed to handle the case around
mid-day yesterday.

"We met the area prosecutor around 12 noon and he promised us that the
state was ready and the case would be heard around 2pm," said Nyamaropa.

"But come 2pm, we were surprised when Chikafu said he could no longer
stand in for the State because of personal reasons which he did not disclose
to us.

"Instead, he said he would prefer the case to be heard by his
superiors in Harare on Monday. But as the area prosecutor he should have
handled the case because he is the representative of the Attorney General
here," insisted the lawyer.

The prosecutor could not be reached for comment on the matter last
night.

But authoritative sources in Mutare said the prosecutor was threatened
with unspecified action by Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO) state
security agents if he allowed Hitschmann to be granted bail.

Earlier this week, two senior officials from the Attorney General's
office, Florence Ziyambi and Joseph Jagada had to make a hasty retreat to
Harare after threats by CIO agents.

The CIO is also said to have tried to pressure the Attorney General
not to drop charges against Mutsekwa and the other MDC activists.

Zimbabwe's state security agents are accused of harassing civilians
and members of the main opposition Movement for Democratic Change party with
impunity and interfering with the dispensation of justice in the courts. -
ZimOnline


Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Chamber of Mines says new law will drive away investors

Zim Online

Sat 18 March 2006

HARARE - The Zimbabwe Chamber of Mines says President Robert Mugabe's
plans to seize a majority stake in mines will drive away foreign investors
and force most mines to shut down.

In a letter delivered to the government on Thursday, the chamber
warned that the move to seize a huge stake in mines without paying for it
will be disastrous for the mining sector.

"Investors will be forced to withhold capital expenditures for
ordinary maintenance as well as development work, partly because financial
institutions will no longer offer the investors foreign exchange loan
facilities as the investors will no longer have controlling interest.

"With only 49% of the shares paid for and without access to loan
funds, most mining companies will have insufficient capital to sustain
operations," said the chamber.

The Zimbabwean government earlier this month said Mugabe had already
approved a draft law that would allow the government free access to 25
percent of foreign mining firms and pay for another 26 percent over five
years to achieve controlling stake.

But the draft law has sent tremours in the business sector with
Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe governor Gideon Gono warning that the proposed new
law, which strikes at the very core of property rights, would undo all his
efforts to bring Zimbabwe back into the international community.

Gono also warned that there was a great risk that Zimbabwe's
"investment landscape will forever be damaged, much to the detriment of the
country's economic turnaround programme and its ideals" if the government
forged ahead with the controversial mining law. - ZimOnline


Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Hoyle calls for Zimbabwe action

This is Chorley, Lancashire

CHORLEY MP Lindsay Hoyle has told one of Foreign Secretary and Blackburn MP
Jack Straw's Junior Ministers that urgent action is needed to sort out the
crisis in Zimbabwe under veteran dictator Robert Mugabe.

During Foreign Office Questions in the Commons the Labour MP asked Ian
Pearson: "The economy is ruined and the agricultural policy is in tatters,
and there is no future for the people of Zimbabwe with a gangster in charge.
What can we do, and when are we going to do it?"

Mr Pearson said the government would continue to work with fellow United
Nations members to press for a Security Council resolution."


Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Minister bows to AirZim

Zim Independent

Paul Nyakazeya

THE Minister of Transport and Communications has finally given
the country's beleaguered airline, Air Zimbabwe, permission to charge fares
in foreign currency, a measure previously denounced by the government.

Air Zimbabwe this week announced that it would start charging
air fares in US dollars, although passengers buying tickets in local
currency would be charged using the prevailing interbank exchange rate.

The prevailing interbank rate is 99 201 000 to the US dollar.

"Please be advised that effective 20 March 2006 all Air Zimbabwe
fares will be denominated in US dollars," Air Zimbabwe said in a statement
yesterday.

"For those paying in Zimbabwe dollars the fares will be
converted at the interbank mid-rate applicable on the day of the ticket
issue," it said.

Air Zimbabwe was the only airline charging flights in Zimbabwe
dollars.

The national airline has over the past four years been unable to
secure enough foreign currency to service its planes and buy spare parts.

So hostile has been the operating environment that most of its
planes are currently grounded.

The national carrier now has only six planes despite having a
fleet of 18 planes at Independence in 1980.

Presenting the fourth quarter monetary policy statement in
January, Reserve Bank governor Gideon Gono blamed Air Zimbabwe's failure to
source foreign currency and manage its finances on managerial incompetence.

"(Air Zimbabwe) managerial incompetence as exhibited by the
decision to enter into a costly lease agreement with PB Airlines and the
continued operation of loss-making routes such as Dubai and China (is)
generating (a) combined loss of US$980 000 per month before taking into
account other costs like handling, landing, navigation and office
administration," Gono said.

"The airline continues to fail to restructure its revenue stream
where it earns 70% of its revenue in local currency despite having 70% of
its costs in foreign currency, leading to the airline failing to pay for
fuel, IATA, aircraft insurance and other direct operating expenses," Gono
said.


Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Colleges turn away record numbers

Zim Independent

FOR the first time in Zimbabwe's history, the country's
institutions of higher learning have started turning away students who have
failed to pay tuition and boarding fees which were recently increased by
more than 100%.

The expulsions follow government's failure to pay out student
grants, due at the beginning of the semester. In the past students received
state grants to settle their fees.

On Monday, a student leader at the Harare Polytechnic, who
requested anonymity for fear of reprisals, said the institution started
turning away students who had failed to meet last Friday's deadline to pay
up.

A second-year journalism student said only three students were
left in their class of 68 on Monday.

Other students said they had been expelled from the National
University of Science and Technology (Nust) this week.

Reacting to the expulsions, the Zimbabwe National Students Union
(Zinasu) on Tuesday said it had approached lawyers to have a court order
barring all institutions of higher learning from increasing fees.

The reprieve would be similar to the one granted to University
of Zimbabwe (UZ) students by the High Court last week, barring the fees
hike.

On Wednesday, Harare lawyer Precious Chakasikwa confirmed in an
interview that Zinasu had approached her on the matter.

"Instructions have been received from Zinasu. We are working on
the matter," she said.

A student at Harare Polytechnic said when the college opened in
January, students were asked to pay tuition fees of $2,7 million per year,
but on February 21 it was raised to $14,4 million per term.

Accommodation fees were also hiked from $4,9 million per year to
$12, and $6 million per term.

Harare Polytechnic principal, Steven Rasa, on Wednesday claimed
that all was well at the institution as no students were complaining about
the hikes.

"In fact, some students had asked for a fee hike so that the
money is used to improve standards," he said.
"No one was expelled. Some were just asked to go and inform
their guardians to pay."

Rasa refused to disclose how many of his students had not paid
the new fees or how the college would deal with defaulters.

He was adamant everything at the institution was normal although
information filtering from the campus indicates college authorities had shut
down the dining hall in an effort to compel students to comply
"Even me, if school fees for my children are increased, I just
pay," he said. - Staff Writer.


Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Tsholotsho saga: evidence of Charamba's role exposed

Zim Independent

DESPITE presidential spokesman George Charamba's threat to sue
the Zimbabwe Independent for alleged defamation over a story linking him to
the ruling Zanu PF Tsholotsho succession politics, a scrutiny of reports at
the time reveals he featured prominently in the events.

Charamba was named in several reports to do with the Tsholotsho
saga in what sources said was a clear indication he was involved in the
matter he understandably now seeks to distance himself from.

Reports in the government-controlled and private media in
November and December 2004 refer to Charamba's role, in particular in
connection with the hiring of a helicopter to transport Zanu PF officials to
Dinyane Secondary School in Tsholotsho for a school function.

The prize-giving ceremony at the school was reported to have
been arranged by supporters of party heavyweight Emmerson Mnangagwa to block
the rise of Vice-President Joice Mujuru.

The state-run Chronicle on December 1, 2004 published a
front-page story headlined Tsholotsho Declaration: the facts, accompanied by
a memo dated November 18, 2004, the day of the Tsholotsho meeting, emanating
from former Information minister Jonathan Moyo's secretary Chipo Mukabeta,
addressed to Charamba requesting the presidential spokesman to "hire a
private helicopter" from Central Air Services for the event.

Charamba, the accounting officer of his ministry, authorised a
$9 780 750 payment for the helicopter, and helped to secure clearance for
it.

The Sunday Mirror also reported last year that Charamba
authorised the payment.

Other newspapers, including the Zanu PF mouthpiece, The Voice,
carried similar reports.

Sources said yesterday Charamba authorised the helicopter hire
two days after he had reportedly written Mnangagwa's speech eventually
delivered in Tsholotsho by former politburo member, Patrick Chinamasa.

Charamba is denying he wrote the speech for Mnangagwa although
Moyo has confirmed this. Charamba has also denied clashing with ZBC
workers - for instance Douglas Dhliwayo - despite documents which actually
show that the two did clash.

At the height of the Tsholotsho battle, Charamba denied an
Independent report that his working relationship with Moyo had deteriorated,
saying the story was "fictional". Hardly a month later, Moyo lambasted him
in an acerbic memo over a report that the minister had submitted his
resignation.

Charamba claims that he does not get involved in party politics
because he is a civil servant. But during last year's March general
election, he was part of Zanu PF's publicity committee. He has also been
seen in public wearing Zanu PF regalia.

There have also been reports about his role, for instance in the
Financial Gazette on October 13, in the controversy over revelations in the
New African magazine that the CIO were the architects of Operation
Murambatsvina.

There have been claims that Charamba might have discussed the
issue with New African editor Baffour Ankomah who was a guest of his
department staying at a local hotel - not at his house as earlier claimed -
during his visit to Harare last year. - Staff writer.


Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

No need for economics text books

Zim Independent

By Admire Mavolwane

"EXPERIENCE is the greatest teacher" is a statement that aptly
describes how Zimbabweans have come to know and become experts in the
subject of inflation.

Without having a great deal of academic knowledge as to what
causes it, and its remedies, everyone has felt or experienced the impact of
the animal called inflation and can in different ways describe it.

The majority of business executives and economists who did their
studies in the eighties and early nineties will agree that the concepts of
hyper-inflation and budget deficits were, in those days, more abstract than
practical.

Without experiencing inflation and just reading about it in
terms of its consequences, like menu costs, shoe leather costs and the
arbitrary transfer of wealth from lenders to borrowers, it is very difficult
to conceptualise it.

Inflation is a thief that robs one of the purchasing power of
his/her wealth, as the ordinary man in the street defines it. In most cases
is this net worth is represented by cash. The question is then what does one
do when the most trusted store of value, money, has lost its basic quality.

In the late 1990s, currency devaluation, the budget deficit,
domestic debt, and inflation were words that would rarely feature in
ordinary conversations. These terms were reserved for the elite that would
from time to time grace the silver screen expounding on the virtues or lack
thereof of certain economic policies.

In 2000, when the monthly rate of inflation was still in the
single digit rate, peaking at 9,6% in September of that year, although
noting the accelerating nature in terms of prices, a few thought twice about
inflation.

During those good old days, year-on-year inflation was in the
50% to 60% range. Even though people started to get worried, inflation was
still not a big deal then.

Monthly inflation remained low, just below 10%, for the first
nine months of 2001, before all hell broke loose in September with the rate
leaping to 15,9%.

Although it subsequently slackened off in the following months,
the annual rate breached the psychological 100% mark in November of the same
year. By this time everyone was beginning to talk about inflation, trying to
understand what, and who caused it.

Zambia, Malawi and Mozambique as well as the Democratic Republic
of Congo (DRC) were case studies that could be accessed easily. Lots of
stories and myths started doing the rounds about how Zambian soccer fans
would carry kwacha notes in bags and wheel barrows just to pay for entry
fees. Those concerning the DRC were unbelievable to say the least.

Going into 2002, inflationary pressures became severe and even
the less informed started to be gradually aware that the economic landscape
was changing, rather unfavourably. The general analogue used was that of
wasting away. Even old men and women would ask why their beloved dollar was
buying less and less every day. What was draining away all the purchasing
power from the local unit?

The problem with inflation, which is what most economic texts do
not sufficiently stress, is the build-up in momentum.

As the table shows, at the turn of the century the year-on-year
inflation rate was confined in the 10 percentage range, having opened 2000
at 55,9% and closed on 55,2%, after peaking at 62% in September.
In 2001, the range expanded to 50 percentage points, with the
annual price increase closing at 112,1% which was a record high for that
year.

In the following year, the rise in the CPI was confined to a
much wider interval of 100 percentage points. A trend had also become
established for the rate to peak in December. For 2002, the annual inflation
rate peaked at 198,9%, just shy of the 200% mark and that was in December.

2003 turned out to be a nightmare with the annual figure bolting
out of control. The once expanding bounds actually caved in. In that year,
the inflation rate crossed the 500% point mark in October before attaining a
high of 619,5% in November. Again, a trend was broken, as the December 2003
figure retreated to 598,7%. During the second half of that year, the
month-on-month inflation rate averaged 20%, which was a new phenomenon to
many Zimbabweans.

In the shops, prices changed on a weekly basis and window
shopping was no longer a useful exercise.

Zimbabweans are an ingenious lot by nature and the trick for
shopping in those days was to target those shops without barcode readers as
these tended to lag behind in terms of changing prices.

In some instances two customers in the same queue at the same
till point would pay different prices as a time differential of 15 minutes
in picking up a product from the shelf could result in a price difference.
The most unpopular guys in supermarkets were those in the department
responsible for changing prices who used to walk around with menacing
gun-like price changing tools.

The story of inflation in 2004 and 2005 has been told numerous
times. A common phrase which features in many of the narrations is ". peaked
at 622% in January before trending down to a low of 123% in March 2005
before trending upwards again ." Suffice to say, the happy days of late
2004 and early 2005 turned out to be short lived.

Although it is early days yet in 2006, the omens are not good.
Last Friday, the CSO published the February 2006 index, which at a record
and annual increase of 782%, reflects a 'gain' of 168,8% on the January
figure of 613,2%.

A 1 000% rise is a scary figure by any measure but it now seems
that we are ominously close to it. Unlike in 2000 and 2001 when people were
still trying to understand inflation, the focus has now shifted to methods
and weapons that can be used to subdue it or at least mitigate the shocks to
the pocket and one's well-being to which these huge price increases
constantly give rise to. The trillion dollar question is how and when are we
going to get back to single digit or at least double digit levels?

One thing for sure, though, is that roles with many of our
neighbours have reversed and it would not be surprising if we are now the
subject of many rude jokes. All the things that seemed to be so bizarre
about inflation have now been de-mystified not through textbooks, but by
experience.


Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

UN critical of Botswana's human rights abuses against Zimbabweans



By Tichaona Sibanda
17 March 2006

The United Nations has released a report highly critical of Botswana's
growing hostility towards immigrants, especially those from Zimbabwe.

The report, compiled after an investigation by a UN committee in
Botswana, painted a picture of a country with very little regard for human
rights where refugees are locked up in prison for up to four years.

A weekly Botswana newspaper, The Sunday Standard published part of the
report in its edition last week, under the headline 'Botswana fails UN human
rights tests,' a situation that is set to embarrass authorities in Gaborone.

Our correspondent Don Mafingenyi told us the report highlighted the
abuse of prisoners, most of whom are denied justice as well as medical
attention.

Mafingenyi said the report read in part; 'The UN is concerned that in
practice asylum seekers are automatically detained in prison-like conditions
until their status is determined.'

This process can last up to four years and the refugees cannot appeal
against the decision to deny them asylum status. The report also
acknowledged the existence of hostiliies against undocumented immigrants in
Botswana, in particular Zimbabweans.

Those who came under attack in the report included police and army
officers, whose persistent abuse of illegal immigrants from Zimbabwe is well
documented.

SW Radio Africa Zimbabwe news


Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Kuruneri: 'I could have fled'

New Zimbabwe

By Staff Reporter
Last updated: 03/18/2006 01:19:34
ZIMBABWE'S former Finance Minister Chris Kuruneri, currently on bail for
alleged economic crimes, on Thursday told a court that he could have fled
the country as a result of negligence and incompetence by police officers
guarding him.

Kuruneri made the submissions before High Court Judge Susan Mavangira
seeking the variation of his bail conditions: to be allowed to reside at his
Mazoe farm from his Harare home.

The judge, however, dismissed the application and ruled that Kuruneri should
remain under 24 hour police guard at his Glen Lorne house because if allowed
to transfer to his Mazowe farm, it would be difficult for the police to keep
track of him at the vast property.

Kuruneri contended that although police guarding him in Harare had presented
him with numerous opportunities to escape due to their negligence, he had
not done so and could not do so at the farm.

"The applicant has been presented with numerous opportunities to escape in
view of negligence, incompetence and inefficiency on the part of the police.
There have been instances when no police officers turned to guard him," the
ex minister's lawyer said.

"There have also been instances when police officers turned late for duty,"
the lawyer added.

The court also heard that there was no proper handover- takeover procedures
by the police and visitors, some in vehicles and at night enter and leave
with no searches or having their names recorded.

The lawyer said under the circumstances Kuruneri could have escaped with the
aide of his privately employed guards and caretaker, but had not making him
a good candidate for bail variation.

In its submissions, the state opposed the variation saying the said officers
had been punished.

In her ruling justice Mavangira said she could not grant Kuruneri's request
because his bail conditions had been set by the Supreme Court.


Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Minister Nyoni"s employees remanded in custody



March 17, 2006

By George Nyathi

BULAWAYO (AND)-AFTER a protracted struggle to prosecute, the Bulawayo
Magistrate's court has proceeded to lay a charge on three employees to Small
to Medium Scale Enterprises Development Minister, Sithembiso Nyoni who
allegedly stole 18 beasts from a white farmer in Fort Rixon, just outside
Bulawayo.

Magistrate Lizwe Jamela remanded the three employees in custody to
March 31 and set the trial date of the accused as the 12th of next month.

Fathias Hungwe, Mduduzi Moyo, and a third employee identified as
Jefita are the accused persons in the matter.

They were reportedly picked up by police at their workplace, Fountain
Farm after the white commercial farmer, Robert Bruce Moffat made a report to
the police soon after discovering that his beasts, reported stolen, were on
the minister's farm.

According to the police, the identity brand that Moffat used had been
tampered with and replaced with that of Minister Nyoni.

This, the police say, is sufficient evidence that there was indeed an
intention of criminal activity in the manner in which the three employees
behaved, regardless of whether they were on instructions or not.

The public prosecutor in the case, Thando Ncube requested the
Magistrate to remand the three so that the state would get the opportunity
to call State witnesses as well as the Investigating Officer in the matter.

Magistrate Lizwe Jamela then ruled that the three should remain in
custody until March 31 when they will appear in court for their initial
remand with the trial date set for the 12th of next month.

AND ZIMBABWE.


Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Man-made disaster


Money: Zimbabwe's economy goes from basket case to worst case | Timothy
Lamer

In 1980, it took two Zimbabwean dollars to equal one U.S. dollar in value.
Today, it takes about 99,000. Zimbabwe was once an exporter of food. Today,
a United Nations report conservatively estimates that one in four
Zimbabweans depends on food aid from abroad. The nation's unemployment rate,
meanwhile, stands at about 80 percent.

Zimbabwe is a nation in free fall. Its economy has been in a nosedive for
six years, and the problems are growing worse by the month. The country's
Central Statistical Office reported last week that the annual inflation rate
hit 782 percent at the end of February, a record for the southern African
country. Prices for food and non-alcoholic beverages have risen even faster,
824 percent over the last 12 months.

As with many economic problems, Zimbabwe's financial crisis stems from
political machinations. As part of a campaign to intimidate political
opponents and reward political allies, President Robert Mugabe six years ago
seized thousands of white-owned farms and turned them over to "war veterans"
(see "From breadbasket to basket case," Feb. 19, 2005). Those farms, which
used to employ hundreds of thousands of Zimbabweans, now produce only a
fraction of what they once did.

Then last summer, Mr. Mugabe began Operation Murambatsvina ("drive out the
trash"), which displaced hundreds of thousands of political opponents by
destroying tens of thousands of urban homes and business structures. The
ostensible purpose of the campaign was to clean up urban areas, but the
effect was to make homeless or disrupt the livelihoods of 2.4 million
Zimbabweans-about 18 percent of the country's population-according to the
United Nations. "[T]here are few, if any precedents of a government so
forcibly and brutally displacing so many of its own citizens in peacetime,"
concluded a report from Human Rights Watch.

Facing diplomatic pressure from the West, Mr. Mugabe has forged closer
military and economic ties with China, which hopes to use commodities from
Africa to bolster its growing economy. (Chinese Communist Party official An
Yongyua has hailed Mr. Mugabe as a "man of strong convictions, a man of
great achievements, a man devoted to preserving world peace [and] a good
friend of the Chinese people.") But help from China has not stopped the
economic tailspin.

For the typical Zimbabwean, the biggest economic problem is the incessant
price increases fueled by a politicized central bank: "The things that we
buy-the groceries at home, the things we get for our two children-we have to
buy immediately, as soon as we get the money," one desperate mother told the
BBC earlier this year. "We know that if we wait a bit, the prices are going
to go up again. If we wait another week, we will not be able to afford
anything."

"It is quite interesting to see people going in banks with bags and
sometimes even suitcases," added a Zimbabwean businessman. "You know that
there are large amounts of money in there, which unfortunately are not going
to buy much."

Sadly, no relief seems to be in sight. Some economists are predicting that
the annual inflation rate could top 1,000 percent as early as next month.

Copyright 2006 WORLD Magazine
March 25, 2006, Vol. 21, No. 12


Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Mugabe seeks peace with UK

From The Mail & Guardian (SA), 17 March

Godwin Gandu and Percy Zvomuya

Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe, his eyes fixed on his legacy, has
engaged President Thabo Mbeki to broker "dialogue" with Britain that could
end hostilities with its former colony. Mugabe accuses his arch-nemesis, the
British Prime Minister Tony Blair, of being the major driver of mobilising
international opposition to his rule. Mbeki, it is understood from foreign
affairs and information department sources in Harare, "indicated his
willingness to break the impasse" after he met Blair in South Africa last
month. A week after the Blair visit, Mbeki, the Mail & Guardian has learnt,
dispatched an envoy to Harare. The rapprochement has yet to be put to the
Zimbabwean Cabinet or the Zanu PF politburo. Insiders have told the M&G that
Mugabe has delegated the ruling party's influential secretary for
information, Nathan Shamuyarira, and Chen Chimutengwende, the Minister of
Interactive Affairs, to set up a "series of meetings". The two have been
"tasked to work it out with friends in London and diplomats accredited to
Harare", a highly placed Zimbabwean government source confided.

Direct talks with the British were first mooted at the Zanu PF Congress in
December 2004 but party heavyweights felt it was "unnecessary" at the time.
But since late last year there "have been more powerful voices to open up
negotiations with the British". As part of the plan, Mugabe is said to have
agreed to meet Blair in Mbeki's presence at a date and in a country yet to
be decided. Moves are also under way to rally opposition and civil society
groups - with the sweetener of agreeing to a new constitution-making
process - as well as the churches. However, a huge climb-down by Mugabe is
not expected. Despite Mbeki's failure to get the ruling party and the
opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) to negotiate a political
settlement, he is regarded as an "honest broker" by Zanu PF. "We believe he
would want to leave a legacy of a Zimbabwean political settlement he is
proud of . We feel he can help build the bridges, not through the MDC, but
the MDC's political principals in London," said a highly placed government
source.

On why the government thinks Blair would play ball, given Mugabe's
oft-repeated vitriolic attacks on him - likening Blair to Hitler and calling
him a liar and Unites States President George W Bush's puppet - there is a
feeling that the "British were very much interested in Zimbabwe of all
African countries... [Britain would] not want to lose grip of its former
colony to the Chinese," a source conveyed. "Certainly there are still
substantial British economic interests in Zimbabwe, for example, Old Mutual
and Anglo American. There are many companies that are subsidiaries of
British companies," economic consultant Eric Bloch pointed out. "While there
has been no new meaningful investment since 1997, the extent of
disinvestment has been minimal." Bloch explained that the British have never
been major players in the mining sector but have been serious players in
manufacturing and banking. "But because of the land expropriations since
2000 there has been disinvestment in agriculture."

Eldred Masunungure, a political analyst at the University of Zimbabwe does
not view Mugabe's overture to the British as a policy shift. Whatever
position Mugabe took his party would follow, he argued. "Mugabe does not
have a problem with the British as a people but with Tony Blair's Labour
government. "They [parties represented at the Lancaster talks] did not
demand a written undertaking [on funding land reform] from the two [UK &
US], it was a gentlemen's agreement and the British fully exploited that
loophole. The conservative government [of Margaret Thatcher] honoured part
of the agreement but the Labour government [of Tony Blair] refused to take
responsibility." Mugabe told the new British ambassador, Andrew Pocock,
after he had presented his credentials last month: "We need a bridge with
the British. We politicians come and go, but the people are there at all
times." Three senior Zanu PF politburo members, perceived independent of the
factions in the party, noted that new pro-Senate MDC president, Arthur
Mutambara, while critical of Mugabe's handling of land reform was equally
scathing of British complicity in the land crisis. "We wouldn't mind taking
him on board for talks with Blair," sources confessed. Roping in Mutambara
would also deepen the division within the MDC. "He [Morgan Tsvangirai] will
be isolated, that is what we want."

Back to the Top
Back to Index