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Zim ruling party warns opposition

Mail and Guardian

      Harare, Zimbabwe

      22 March 2006 11:07

            Zimbabwe's ruling party has accused opposition leader Morgan
Tsvangirai of advocating war following his call for mass protests and warned
of reprisals, a daily newspaper reported on Wednesday.

            The Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front (Zanu-PF)
party said in a statement that Tsvangirai should "desist from attempts to
incite civil disobedience" as it "could lead to bloodshed and undermine
democracy", the state-run Herald said.

            "It is surprising that those leaders who never went to war are
the ones advocating it," said the statement.

            "Those who reject the legal and democratic way of running the
government and choose confrontation will be confronted by the long arm of
the state," it added.

            Tsvangirai, who was re-elected president of a faction of the
Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party on Sunday, warned President
Robert Mugabe, saying "the dictator must brace himself for a long, bustling
winter across the country".

            The former trade union leader called on about 14 000 supporters
at a weekend conference to take part in a "sustained cold season of peaceful
democratic resistance".

            The statement by Zanu-PF information secretary Nathan
Shamuyarira and Elliot Manyika, national political commissar, said the MDC
had not taken part in Zimbabwe's liberation war against British colonial
rule and therefore did not understand the implications of violence.

            "Their leaders have never fought in a war, and they do not know
the problems of promoting war in a society," it said.

            "War is not like a picnic or a dinner party, it is blood, sweat,
injuries, and death."

            Once posing the biggest challenge to Mugabe's rule, the MDC
split late last year over Tsvangirai's decision to boycott senate elections
and the gap between the rival camps shows no sign of being bridged.

            Created in 1999 with Tsvangirai as its leader, the MDC made
major gains in the 2000 parliamentary elections but lost ground in last
year's March elections that the party dismissed as a sham.

            The ruling party also reiterated a charge that the MDC and
Tsvangirai were puppets of Britain which has criticised Mugabe's land
reforms in which thousands of white farms were seized and redistributed to
landless black farmers.

            "No matter how Tsvangirai may try to market his lies and wishful
thinking, MDC has remained the baby of our colonial masters in Britain," it

            "It is indeed the master's voice and will continue playing to
the gallery of the West."

            Political analysts say the MDC is at the moment too weakened to
confront the government and its army in the streets after the opposition
party split into two rival political parties.

            Besides the Tsvangirai-led MDC -- which is widely seen as the
main rival to Mugabe's Zanu-PF party -- there is another faction of the
opposition party that also calls itself the MDC and is led by former student
activist Arthur Mutambara.

            Calls in the past by Tsvangirai and his MDC for mass revolt have
fizzled out with only a handful of people heeding such calls, while the army
and police have always been more than ready to prevent people from taking to
the streets against the government.

            But analysts and observers say Zimbabwe -- in the grip of its
worst economic crisis to date, which has seen shortages of literally every
basic survival commodity, from fuel to food and electricity and with
inflation beyond 700% -- may just be ripe for a revolution. - Sapa

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Civic groups back Tsvangirai's call for Mugabe ouster

Zim Online

Thu 23 March 2006

      MUTARE - Zimbabwe's labour movement, churches, student and civic
groups on Wednesday endorsed calls by main opposition leader Morgan
Tsvangirai for a popular uprising against President Robert Mugabe, stocking
up tensions in a country already on edge.

      The groups that met in Mutare included the National Constitutional
Assembly (NCA) that campaigns for a new and democratic constitution for
Zimbabwe, Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions, Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition,
Zimbabwe Council of Churches, Zimbabwe National Students Union, Zimbabwe
Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR), Women Coalition and Bulawayo Agenda.

      The civic groups' decision to support Tsvangirai's calls for mass
protests came the same day the state-controlled Herald newspaper published a
stern warning to the opposition leader by Mugabe's ruling ZANU PF party in
which the party said anti-government street protests could lead to

      Mugabe's government has in the past used the army and police to
ruthlessly thwart protests by civic groups and Tsvangirai's Movement for
Democratic Change (MDC) party.

      But ZLHR director Arnold Tsunga, among prominent leaders who were at
the Mutare meeting, said the civic groups had resolved to mobilise
Zimbabweans to free the country from its "political and economic woes" and
to pay with their lives if need be.

      Tsunga said: "People have said they have had enough of praying in the
hotels and churches, they said they wanted to translate that into some
activity .. we have a regime that can deal with us heavily hence we want to
put mechanisms and strategies to minimise that.

      "Of course there will be a price to pay - even of lives. But
ultimately, failure is not an option."

      Human rights activist and NCA leader, Lovemore Madhuku, said civic
leaders would now go to the ground and mobilise Zimbabweans for the mass
demonstrations but hinted the protests would take time to organise.

      "We are living in misery: politically and economically all because of
the way we are governed," said Madhuku. "We will organise demonstrations but
not today or anytime this week."

      Earlier in the day, prominent Bishop Trevor Manhanga had urged civic
leaders to take up the cudgels and fight for human rights and democracy in
the country saying no one but Zimbabweans could save the country.

      Addressing his party's congress last week, Tsvangirai urged
Zimbabweans to save food and money ahead of what he called a "cold season of
peaceful democratic resistance" to end Mugabe's 26-year-old rule.

      He repeated the same threats to lead a popular revolt against Mugabe
and his ZANU PF party during a Press conference with journalists in Harare
on Tuesday.

      Responding to the threats, ZANU PF warned Tsvangirai that it will use
the law to punish him and upping the tempo told the opposition leader that
it alone had "the gruelling experience of war."

      Calls in the past by Tsvangirai and his MDC for mass revolt have
fizzled out with only a handful of people heeding such calls while the army
and police have always been more than ready to prevent people from taking to
the streets against the government.

      But analysts and observers say Zimbabwe - in the grip of its worst
ever economic crisis that has seen shortages of literally every basic
survival commodity from fuel to food and electricity and with inflation
beyond 700 percent - may just be ripe for a revolution. - ZimOnline

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Dispossessed white landowner sues Mugabe

Zim Online

Thu 23 March 2006

      HARARE - A dispossessed white landowner is suing President Robert
Mugabe in a case that will test how far the government is prepared to abide
by its own laws empowering it to seize only agricultural land for
redistribution to landless blacks.

      In an application to the High Court earlier this month, Alexander
Stuart Ross, wants the court to compel Mugabe to reverse the acquisition of
his land by the government, arguing that the land, known as Gletwyn Farm or
Gletwyn Township, is part of Harare municipal land.

      The government's Land Acquisition Act and Constitutional Amendment No
17 passed last year exempt municipal land from seizure by the state under
its controversial land reform programme.

      According to Ross, Gletwyn, which is registered in his name, was
incorporated into the Harare municipal area by statutory instrument 41 of

      The government seized the property in November 2004 and gave it over
to the police to develop into residential stands for members of the law
enforcement agency.

      A private company that is said to be chaired by Deputy Finance
Minister David Chapfika was supposed to have started work together with the
Police Heights Housing Co-operative trying to develop Gletwyn into a
residential suburb. The land developer has however not done so yet.

      Ross argues in papers filed at court that it was illegal for the
government to acquire Gletwyn because the Land Acquisition Act upon which it
based its actions does not permit the state to acquire municipal land for
purposes of redistribution.

      "A piece of land under municipal area cannot be acquired under the
provisions of the Land Acquisition Act applicable to agricultural land, as
all land within any municipal area is expressly excluded from such
provisions," Ross states in his papers.

      Section 2, Chapter 20:10 of the Act stipulates that "agricultural land
required for resettlement purposes" means any rural land the acquisition of
which is reasonably required for resettlement purposes and which is
identified in a preliminary notice as being required for those purposes -
rural land means any land other than land which is in a municipal area or
local government area.

      Last August's constitutional amendment bans citizens from contesting
in court seizure of their land by the state but the controversial amendment
also makes it clear that the government can only take farmland  for purposes
of resettlement.

      Mugabe and his senior officials have also made clear at various public
fora that they will only seize farmland for redistribution to black
villagers who do not have adequate land to grow crops and raise animals.

      Ross says in his court application: "If the state were to start
seizing urban land by 'selective nationalisation', it is possible the
property market, upon which the state depends for many revenues and many
people depend for their livelihoods, would collapse."

      It was not possible to get comment from State Security Minister
Didymus Mutasa, who oversees land redistribution or from Attorney General
Sobuza Gula-Ndebele, the government's chief lawyer.

      Up to 10 government ministers and heads of department are cited as
respondents in the application. Among the respondents are Mutasa, Chapfika,
Local Government Minister Ignatius Chombo, Lands and Agriculture Minister
Joseph Made, Police Commissioner Augustine Chihuri and Reserve Bank of
Zimbabwe (RBZ) governor Gideon Gono.

      Gono, who has strongly spoken against land seizures, is named as a
respondent because he allegedly financed the unauthorised subdivision of
Gletywn by Divine Homes.

      The RBZ boss has called for an end to land seizures saying continued
disturbances on farms was hampering efforts to produce food and more
agricultural exports, vital to efforts to end a severe economic crisis that
has seen inflation shooting above 700 percent while every basic commodity is
in critical short supply.

      Critics blame the government's farm seizure programme for
destabilising the mainstay agricultural sector, causing food shortages and
worsening the economic crisis. - ZimOnline

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Zimbabwe judge recuses himself from treason case

Zim Online

Thu 23 March 2006

      HARARE - A Zimbabwean judge who was scheduled to hear the bail
application of Peter Michael Hitschmann, who is accused of treason, on
Wednesday recused himself from the case after the Attorney General's office
objected to his handling of the case.

      A lawyer representing Hitschmann, Peter Makombe said Justice Hungwe
had agreed to recuse himself from the treason case in which his client is
accused of plotting to assassinate President Robert Mugabe.

      Makombe said the matter will be heard today by another High Court
judge, Justice Chitakunye.

      "Justice Hungwe was told to recuse himself from the case. The AG's
office said he should not handle the case because he handled the bail
applications of the other suspects in Mutare. He recused himself and the
matter will now be heard tomorrow (Thursday)," said Makombe.

      Hitschmann, together with several other Movement for Democratic Change
(MDC) party activists including the party's legislator for Mutare North,
Giles Mutsekwa, were three weeks ago arrested by the police following the
discovery of an arms cache in Mutare.

      But Hungwe last week ordered the release of Mutsekwa and the other
activists from police custody citing lack of evidence. - ZimOnline

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Zimbabweans arrested for stealing fuel in Botswana

Zim Online

Thu 23 March 2006

      GABORONE - Police in Botswana on Sunday arrested four Zimbabweans for
stealing fuel worth over 61 000 pula (about US$12 200).

      A police spokesman in Gaborone, Superintendent Mogomotsi Mogapeisi,
said the four Zimbabweans were found in possession of huge quantities of
fuel all worth 61 000 pula which they failed to account for.

      One of the Zimbabweans, who is believed to be part of the fuel
smuggling syndicate, was found in possession of 20 860 pula which he also
failed to account for.

      "They could not account for the petrol and the cash and have been
remanded in custody," Mogapeisi said.

      The four are expected to appear in court on Tuesday.

      Fuel is in critical short supply in Zimbabwe, which is in its sixth
year of a bitter economic recession, because the Harare authorities do not
have the foreign currency to import the commodity. - ZimOnline

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No Coke a sign of Zimbabwe's tough times


Wednesday, March 22, 2006; Posted: 1:25 p.m. EST (18:25 GMT)

HARARE, Zimbabwe (AP) -- For the first time in at least 40 years, supplies
of Coca-Cola dried up Wednesday, another sign of economic crisis in
Zimbabwe, where people suffer acute bread shortages and farmers warn of
worse to come.
Harare agents for the U.S. Coca-Cola Company said local production of the
drink stopped earlier this month, but refused to give official reasons. Bar
and cafe owners said they had been promised resumed deliveries at the end of
the month, but were told hard currency shortages had prevented licensed
bottlers importing the secret concentrated syrup used to mix the popular
soft drink.

One sports club in Harare on Wednesday sold imported canned Coke made under
license in Malaysia for 100,000 Zimbabwe dollars (US$1.00), double the price
of the locally bottled version.

It was the first Coke drought across the country for at least four decades,
shop owners said. Throughout the seven-year guerrilla war that ended white
rule and led to independence in 1980, Coca-Cola was available in rural
stores in the heart of war zones.

Traditionally, it has been the country's best-selling soft drink, and its
absence underscored the nation's worst economic crisis since independence.

Farmers' groups on Wednesday predicted a further decline in wheat
production, blaming acute shortages of fertilizers, gasoline and electric
power to run aging irrigation equipment.

The three main farming organizations said in a joint statement that their
members estimated planting about 45,000 hectares (108,000 acres) of
irrigated winter wheat this year, down from 65,000 hectares (156,000 acres)
last year and less than half the area needed to meet the nation's demand for
bread and other wheat-based foods.

Shortages of bread, a second staple after corn, also in short supply, power
outages and scarcities of gasoline, fertilizer and other essential imports
have become routine in the troubled southern African nation.

Poor harvests last year yielded about half the nation's consumption of wheat
and corn. The shortfall was supplemented by imports and food aid.

In January this year, at least 3 million Zimbabweans were receiving
emergency food handouts.

The collapse of the agriculture-based economy since 2000 spurred record
inflation to 780 percent last month, the highest rate in the world.

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Africa should control its airwaves: Zimbabwean official

xinhua 2006-03-23 02:39:43

          HARARE, March 22 (Xinhua) -- Africa should take charge of its
airwaves and speak with one voice so to portray a correct picture about
developments on the continent, Zimbabwe's Information and Publicity
Minister, Tichaona Jokonya, said on Wednesday.

          Addressing a Joint Command and Staff Course on the role of
information in developing countries, the minister said control of the media
was essential for the development of the continent.

          "We have regional protocols that enable and even require us to
organize ourselves so we speak to the rest of the world in our words, from
our own point of view," he said.

          "We need news from an African perspective to counter the
predominantly Eurocentric perspective we have had all along."

          The African Union had last year made references to the
establishment of radio and television stations to ensure that the continent
had a pan African voice, he said, and it was critical that this be
implemented. Enditem

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Watchdog in Zim goes for papers' jugular

Cape Argus

      March 22, 2006

      The head of Zimbabwe's media regulatory body wants to tighten press
laws to control the distribution of "subversive material of foreign origin",
the state-controlled Herald newspaper reported.

      Zimbabwe's Media and Information Commission (MIC) has control over
which newspapers are published in the country. But a few foreign
publications, critical of President Robert Mugabe's government, are
distributed in Zimbabwe.

      The papers include weeklies such as The Zimbabwean, published in
Britain; South Africa's Mail and Guardian newspaper and the Sunday Times of
South Africa.

      "It is essential that we should regulate both the publishers and the
distributors," MIC chairman Tafataona Mahoso was quoted as saying. He did
not name the offending publications.

      "Those distributors who import foreign periodicals should indicate
where they are procuring such periodicals," Mahoso told a parliamentary
committee on transport and communications.

      Meanwhile, the state-run news agency is "on the brink of collapse,"
the Herald revealed in a separate report.

      Some staff members of the agency, New Ziana, are "failing to come to
work because of poor salaries which were sometimes paid too late," the
chairman of the parliamentary committee on transport and communications, Leo
Mugabe - a nephew of Mugabe - was quoted as saying. - Sapa-dpa

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Zim blames poor tobacco crop on fertiliser shortage

Mail and Guardian

      Harare, Zimbabwe

      22 March 2006 08:51

            Zimbabwe's tobacco farmers are this year expected to produce
just 55-million kilogrammes of tobacco, the lowest output for years, state
radio reported on Tuesday.

            "Tobacco output for this year is expected to be lower than last
year's, with an average output of between 50 and 55-million kilogrammes for
the crop," the radio reported Tobacco Industry and Marketing Board (TIMB)
technical services executive Andrew Matibiri as saying.

            The TIMB had earlier this year predicted a harvest of 70-million
kilogrammes of the leaf, once the country's biggest earner of hard currency.

            Tobacco production has been in steep decline since President
Robert Mugabe's government launched a controversial programme of seizing
white-owned commercial farms for redistribution to new black farmers.

            In 1999, a year before the land seizures, Zimbabwe produced
250-million kilogrammes of tobacco. Last year, production figures stood at
only 74-million kilogrammes. The leaf crop, produced mainly for export, used
to provide 40% of the country's foreign currency receipts.

            The radio attributed the expected low yield this year to
"challenges that were faced by farmers during this season such as shortages
of coal and fertilisers".

            Tobacco sales for this year's crop will begin in Harare on April
25, the radio said. -Sapa-DPA

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Tsvangirai Keeps Plan to Oust Mugabe Under Wraps

Business Day (Johannesburg)

March 22, 2006
Posted to the web March 22, 2006

Dumisani Muleya

ZIMBABWEAN opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai failed yesterday to say when
his faction of the divided Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) would launch
a promised mass action campaign to dislodge President Robert Mugabe from

Tsvangirai said at his Harare home that the national council of his MDC
faction would decide "soon" on the protests.

Following his re-election as leader of his faction on Sunday, Tsvangirai
raised the political temperature by threatening to lead a defiance campaign
against Mugabe.

He said at the weekend: "The options open to us are very clear: we need a
short, sharp programme of action to free ourselves."

The leader of the other rival MDC faction, Arthur Mutambara has issued
similar warnings.

Government forces, meanwhile, have been put on alert to deal with potential
riots and have raided the residences of opposition aligned people,
supposedly to preempt a coup.

Law enforcement agents raided the offices of newly elected Mutambara's MDC
faction on Sunday in the country's second city, Bulawayo, "looking for arms
of war".

This follows the arrests of opposition members last week on allegations of
plotting to assassinate Mugabe, although the case has virtually collapsed.

Most of the suspects were released last week.

Police units on Monday set up roadblocks on main routes leading into the
capital, and were seen circling Tsvangirai's Harvest House headquarters
after his threats of mass action during his group's congress at the weekend.

Home Affairs Minister Kembo Mohadi said yesterday that the MDC was free to
protest within the limits of the law.

"They can do whatever they want. This is a democracy but they must act
within the law," Mohadi said. "If they break the law, the law will take its
course. No one is above the law."

State Security Minister Didymus Mutasa was quoted in the media as saying
government was ready to deal with the MDC.

"We are watching them closely. We heard Tsvangirai's threats and we hope
they will just end as threats, but if they start destroying things then they
will see us," Mutasa said. "If they want a fight then we are more than ready
to hit back harder."

Mutasa controls the dreaded Central Intelligence Organisation, which has
been widely accused of terrorising the opposition and government critics.

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U.N. official accuses African leaders over homeless


Wed 22 Mar 2006 10:24 AM ET
By Robert Evans

GENEVA, March 22 (Reuters) - African leaders bear much of
the responsibility for the continent's 12 million people living
in poverty in their own countries after being driven from their
homes, a senior United Nations official said on Wednesday.

Under-Secretary General for Humanitarian Affairs Jan Egeland
was speaking at the launch of a report showing that last year
Africa accounted for half of the world's "internal refugees" and
Zimbabwe alone for nearly a third of the 2 million new ones.

"The African leadership has been horrendous in the last
generation in so many of these situations, and they have to face
the truth," Egeland, former head of Norway's Red Cross, told a
news conference.

But he said the international community had to do much more
to help what the U.N. and humanitarian organisations call
"internally displaced people" or IDPs, who across the globe
totalled some 23.7 million at the end of 2005.

The report, from the Norwegian Refugee Council which runs an
Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre in Geneva, showed an
overall drop of 1.6 million last year in global figures after
four years in a row when totals were over 25 million.

Centre officials said this was largely due to people
returning to their homes in the Democratic Republic of Congo
(DRC), southern Sudan and elsewhere as political leaders moved
to end long civil conflicts.

But the report said 600,000 had been driven from their homes
in the Zimbabwean crackdown on urban shanty dwellings, and
hundreds of thousands more had been uprooted by fighting in
Colombia, the DRC, Iraq and Sudan.


Egeland himself tackled Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe
face to face on the shantytown issue during a visit to Harare
late last year. Mugabe later denounced him as "a hypocrite and a
liar", suggesting he was an agent of British colonialism.

The Norwegian report, "Internal Displacement: Global View of
Trends and Developments in 2005", said Sudan with 5 million
remained the country with most internal refugees, and numbers
were swelling further because of the conflict in Darfur.

Egeland said the situation in the province along Sudan's
border with Chad, and the scene of what aid agencies say is
widespread murder, rape and pillage by government-backed Arab
militias, was deteriorating rapidly.

There had been increasing attacks by the militias on camps
for the displaced while the government in Khartoum was blocking
efforts to get a U.N. peace-keeping force in to replace under-
equipped units from the African Union.

"Darfur is a place where we (U.N. humanitarian organisations
and non-governmental aid agencies) keep people alive until they
are killed," Egeland declared.

After Sudan, Colombia's decades old conflict involving
government forces and militias against left-wing guerrilla
movements kept 3.7 million away from their homes in camps and
makeshift shelters.

Uganda, which Egeland said he planned to visit shortly, had
2 million internal refugees, almost all in the north of the
country where a rebel Lord's Resistance Army has created havoc
for years and regularly raids camps for the displaced.

The DRC still had 1.7 million, and there were 1.3 million in
Iraq, many of them left over from population movements enforced
under the regime of Saddam Hussein ousted by a U.S.-led invasion
three years ago.

The report is available at

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Homeless people left out of housing scheme

      March 22, 2006

      By Tagu Mkwenyani

      Harare (AND) Homeless people see red as civil servants take up houses.

      THOUSANDS of Zimbabweans, left homeless after bulldozers razed their
houses in the clean up operation in May last year, have no hope of ever
owning houses as government has directed that civil servants be given
priority in the allocation of houses.

      The minister of Public Service Labour and Social Welfare announced
that it had reserved 20 percent of the houses constructed under Operation
Garikai to government workers. The programme, launched after widespread
criticism over the way government had handled the clean up operation dubbed
Murambatsvina, was designed to help the people who had been left homeless. A
United Nations report, compiled a few weeks after the operation, estimates
that up to 700 000 people were left homeless and over 2 million affected in
one way or another when the government cracked down on illegal structures in
urban cities. Determined to limit the damage, government announced that it
would build houses for the affected people in the shortest possible time.
Critics however said government had no resources to carry out the housing
project, which would gobble several trillions of Zimbabwean dollars.

      A few months down the line, only handful of small houses have been
constructed on land which is not serviced and beneficiaries have been given
a go ahead to construct pit latrines. Touring a construction site in Cowdray
Park in Bulawayo recently, Minister Goche said civil servants would be given
preference whenever the allocation of the houses was done. "This is a
national government programme and not a local authority programme. Bulawayo
Metropolitan province is a new structure where many workers in the structure
do not have accommodation. "We have set a number of houses for institutional
ownership by the government so that government workers (civil servants) can
go and stay there."

      Harare (AND)

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Zimbabwean minister threatens opposition

      By Violet Gonda
      22 March 2006

      Minister of State Security Didymus Mutasa has repeated threats against
the opposition in a telephone conversation with SW Radio Africa. The
security minister had threatened the MDC on national television two weeks
ago, and when we contacted him for clarification on Wednesday, he first
refused to comment saying he doesn't talk to "banned people" and puppets of
the west. But after some gentle persuasion, he later revealed that ZANU PF
would use its power to 'silence' opponents.

      When the notorious minister first threatened the MDC, he warned that
the government would "eliminate" people in the opposition who upset the
security of the country. This warning came shortly after security forces
allegedly found an arms cache at the home of Peter Hitschmann in Mutare.
Several opposition members including MDC MP Giles Mutsekwa were arrested on
charges of plotting to assassinate Robert Mugabe. The charges were later
dropped for lack of evidence.

      Asked what he meant by "eliminating the opposition," Mutasa boasted,
"Tangatirikureva precisely izvozvo. Kuti vachifunga kuti tinovatya hativatyi
and they should not speak like they are doing (sic). Kunge iwo ndiwo
vakabata zvinhu zvese muno muZimbabwe. Vakabata zvinhu zvese muZimbabwe

      ("We meant precisely that. That we are not scared of them if they
think we are scared of them. And they should not speak as if they are in
control of everything in Zimbabwe. We have control of everything in

      The threats were renewed this week after calls were made by the leader
of the opposition, Morgan Tsvangirai, for the MDC to embark on a "cold
season of peaceful democratic resistance" to end the dictatorship. The
government responded on Wednesday through the state mouthpiece - the Herald
newspaper- with a warning that there would be bloodshed if the opposition
embarked on anti-government street protests.

      The ZANU PF statement said, ""ZANU-PF alone has the gruelling
experience of war, and strongly urges the armchair talkers to shut up. War
is not like a picnic or a dinner party, it is blood, sweat, injuries and

      Peaceful protests are a constitutional right in Zimbabwe, but the
government has passed draconian legislation to make it illegal.

      Critics have accused the government of using diversionary tactics to
run away from its biggest problem - the collapsed economy.

      SW Radio Africa Zimbabwe news

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Mineworkers demand shares in industry from government

      By Tererai Karimakwenda
      22 March 2006

      The government announced a planned takeover of the majority of shares
in the mining industry earlier this month, but did not bother to consult any
stakeholders that would be affected by this controversial move. This
included foreign companies that own mines in Zimbabwe, local companies and
the mineworkers who risk life and limb deep down underground. As industry
officials began making noise about the intended takeover, Robert Mugabe met
the top chefs from South Africa's Implats, which owns the Zimplats mining
outfit in Zimbabwe. The next day, the mines minister Amos Midzi met with
industry officials. But the mineworkers were not invited to any of these

      Tinago Ruzive, president of The Association of Mineworkers Zimbabwe,
told us Wednesday that they will demand shares in the industry. He said:
      "We think we should have been involved but unfortunately we have not
been invited to such meetings and we only hear it through the media." Ruzive
said as far as he knows, there are no mineworkers in the country that own
any shares in the industry. He revealed that mineworkers in South Africa,
represented by the National Union of Mineworkers, own a stake in the wealth
that they contribute to through mining. Ruzive wants the same for

      The government has said it wants as much as 51% of the shares in all
mining concerns. Ruzive said he has not been told if the plan was to hand
over some of those shares to mineworkers, and he has not been part of any
formal talks on the subject. He complained that he could not even discuss
much about the planned takeover because no information had been provided to
the union. Asked if the union itself had contacted authorities, Ruzive said
they would now write to the ministry since it seems as though the bill might
soon be rushed through parliament.

      As for the current state of the industry, Ruzive said the biggest
problem they are facing is the shortage of foreign currency which is needed
to buy spare parts. He said this has slowed down the industry considerably,
and the government has not done enough to address it. And on behalf of the
mineworkers in Zimbabwe, Ruzive said once more: "We demand to be involved."

      SW Radio Africa Zimbabwe news

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Mugabe Faces Renewed Opposition Challenge

Institute for War and Peace Reporting

After a damaging internal split, the Movement for Democratic Change is back
in action and eager to take on the government.

By Hativagone Mushonga in Harare (AR No.57, 22-Mar-06)

Zimbabwe's Movement for Democratic Change, MDC, suffered a serious blow last
year when it split over the issue of electoral participation, but the
faction led by Morgan Tsvangirai has now made a comeback, which suggests it
could once again pose a challenge to President Robert Mugabe.

In the 26 years that Zimbabwe has existed, the MDC has been the only
political force to come close to wresting power from Mugabe's ruling ZANU PF
party. The MDC won 48 per cent of the vote in the 2000 parliamentary
election, in spite of widespread ballot rigging.

However, last November's election to a new upper house of parliament, the
Senate, drove deep divisions within the party - with Tsvangirai arguing that
it was useless to field candidates because the electoral process in Zimbabwe
is so fundamentally flawed - and an opposing faction led by deputy leaders
from the minority Ndebele ethnic group who were in favour of taking part.

For ZANU PF, the schism - which seemed to spell an end to effective
political opposition - was a gift from the gods. The administration stood to
gain so much from disarray in the MDC's ranks that some observers suspect
that Mugabe's Central Intelligence Organisation, CIO, helped engineer it.

According to University of Zimbabwe political analyst Professor Heneri
Dzinotyiweyi, "Three out of five Zimbabweans are hostile and unhappy and the
government sees these people as a challenge. So the latest MDC divisions
have been a good development for ZANU PF - they were in its favour."

But an MDC party congress which the Tsvangirai faction held on March 18-19
appears to signal a new start for a rejuvenated, authentic opposition party.

The numbers alone are telling: more than 15,000 Tsvangirai supporters packed
into Harare City Sport Centre, compared with just 3,000 who attended a rival
congress held by the pro-Senate MDC group in February in Bulawayo,
Zimbabwe's second city.

The popular backing for Tsvangirai's group was matched by a new and more
assertive rhetoric from its leadership.

"The phase that we have entered calls upon us to endure the pain and
resolutely fight for freedom," Tsvangirai said in his opening speech, to
thunderous applause from delegates.

"The options are very clear. We need a short, sharp programme of action to
free ourselves... a sustained cold season of peaceful democratic

Tsvangirai, who has in the past been accused of not confronting Mugabe
forcefully enough, used his speech accepting re-election as president of his
MDC faction to warn Zimbabweans, "A storm is on the horizon."

Party spokesman Nelson Chamisa said the election of a fresh young team at
the Harare congress showed that the MDC was back in earnest. "The MDC is now
bigger and better and is now stronger with the biggest names and the
smartest minds in the leadership," he said. "There is going to be a paradigm
shift. What you can see is that there is no doubt that MDC has more
supporters than ZANU PF."

Munamato Chinyauke, who attended the Harare congress as an observer, said
Tsvangirai was always going to emerge as the MDC's real leader.

"Tsvangirai is known everywhere, be it in rural or urban areas," said
Chinyauke. "He might be. a school drop-out or whatever, but he is admired by
the people for his bravery in tackling Mugabe head-on. He is a hero to many
Zimbabweans, and people think that Welshman Ncube [MDC secretary-general who
led the pro-Senate group] sold out."

Chinyauke predicted that Tsvangirai and his new team were "set to take
Zimbabwe to greater heights".

"Just wait and see. Mugabe must be shaking in his pants. The split caused by
the CIO has actually lifted Tsvangirai to a higher level," he said.

In contrast to Tsvangirai, a former miner and trade union leader who left
school at a young age, the "other MDC" is led by a professor of robotics,
Arthur Mutambara, a political outsider who was elected president of the
faction in late February.

Mutambara has held out an olive branch, but the stronger rival grouping does
not appear to be in conciliatory mood.

"Mutambara has dirty hands. He has endorsed rebels. We have no time to deal
with divisionary people," said spokesman Chamisa.

Dzinotyiweyi said the fact that the two wings had gone ahead with their own
congresses and leadership votes suggested there would be no rapprochement.

"It doesn't sound logical and serious that they talk about unity but still
go ahead and choose their party executives," he said. "In general, it is the
minority [Mutambara faction] that would be anxious to join the
[pro-Tsvangirai majority], not the other way round."

Left on its own, Mutambara's wing could simply wither away.

"Judging from the crowds that attended, it puts an end to the speculation of
who will win the MDC," said a political analyst who did not want to be
named, referring to the two rival party congresses. "It is a matter of time
before Mutambara will be completely alienated, judging by the poor turnout
at his latest political rally [in Bulawayo]."

Both the government and ZANU PF have recognised the potential threat from
Tsvangirai's MDC - and are already pressing panic buttons.

One of the most powerful figures in the administration, State Security
Minister Didymus Mutasa, has warned that the government will "deal
decisively" with anyone who threatens the status quo and crush any mass
action designed to topple Mugabe.

If the MDC wanted war, he said, the government was ready to hit back. "We
are watching them closely," said Mutasa. "We heard his [Tsvangirai's]
threats and we hope they will just end as threats. But if they start
destroying things, then they will see us."

Zimbabweans will now be watching to see whether the Tsvangirai's MDC emerges
stronger than ever, and how its plans to resist Mugabe's rule take shape,
especially if this is met by a crackdown by the police and military.

The state-owned daily Herald, which serves as a mouthpiece for the
government, has set the tone by telling Tsvangirai to "desist from attempts
to incite civil disobedience. It could lead to bloodshed and undermine
democracy. Those who choose confrontation will be confronted by the long arm
of the state".

Hativagone Mushonga is a pseudonym of an IWPR contributor in Zimbabwe.

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Soldiers Quitting in Droves

Institute for War and Peace Reporting

Army faces mass resignations and desertions as discontent over pay and
conditions grows.

By Obert Zizousiku in Harare (AR No.57, 21-Mar-06)

At the entrance to an army camp in Harare's southwestern township of
Dzivarasekwa is a small notice with pictures of about 20 soldiers, and the
names of fifteen others, who are wanted for deserting the army.

The posters appeal to fellow soldiers and the public to either arrest the
deserters or inform the army of their whereabouts.

Such posters found at army camps countrywide indicate a growing trend in the
army where personnel
are going AWOL.

It is emblematic of the discontent in the security forces - ironically the
people on whom the regime of President Robert Mugabe, the commander in chief
of the army, has relied over the years to repress dissenting voices in the

Zimbabwe's soldiers are quitting in their hundreds at the end of three and
seven-year contracts because of poor pay and working conditions, a
development that could pose a security threat to the crisis-weakened
southern African country. Many others whose contracts have not expired are
simply deserting.

The country's intensifying economic crisis has begun to erode the morale of
the army, which among state agencies close to Mugabe is second only to the
much-feared spy agency, the Central intelligence Organisation, CIO.

Emotions are running high among the soldiers - numbering around 40,000, down
from 82,000 in the late 1990s - who now believe they are being sidelined by
Mugabe, despite having been the key instrument in sustaining his regime.

The resignations and desertions are mostly among the ranks of young privates
and non-commissioned officers.

The surest sign that all is not well are the resignations from the elite
Presidential Guard - which protects the head of state and his two deputies -
accompanying Mugabe and his entourage everywhere they travel.

Andrew Masango, not his real name, who finished training in Bulawayo two
years ago and was immediately posted to the Presidential Guard, told IWPR he
plans to quit because of poor pay and conditions. "It's not worth it. We
toil every day for nothing," said the 23-year-old. Even though it's an elite
unit, Masango said the benefits from serving in it were no greater than
elsewhere in the armed forces.

Masongo has a wife and child who live in his rural home. "They used to live
with me in Harare but I sent them to the rural areas because I could not
afford to pay the city rents," he said. "Now I stay at the barracks where
the conditions are terrible."

Soldiers who stay in the barracks, even those in the extensive grounds of
Mugabe's palatial presidential mansion, complain that the quality of their
food has deteriorated over the years.

"I stand at the gates at State House guarding for hours on end on a
virtually empty stomach," said Masondo. "Breakfast is only two thin slices
of bread and a cup of tea."

A private soldier in the army earns eight million Zimbabwe dollars a month
(about 80 US dollars) - putting him well below the poverty line for the

For the government the army provides ready employment for ZANU PF youths who
would otherwise have been recruited into National Youth Service camps where
they are pumped with anti-opposition propaganda and pro-ZANU PF patriotic
messages, before being serving in militias deployed to village areas to
support ruling party officials.

A soldier, who asked to be known only as Thomas, came through the youth
camps into the army. He said that for all the lessons on patriotism he
attended, he can hardly bear the life the he is living as a soldier.

After six months of training at Mushagashi camp, near the southern town of
Masvingo, Thomas was posted to Nyanga in the Eastern Highlands where he
received basic military training.

"My life is still miserable despite the fact that I protect the president of
the country," Thomas told IWPR. "I cannot even afford to visit my mum in
Magunje [near Lake Kariba in northern Zimbabwe]."

A report released by a parliamentary defence committee two years ago gave
advance warning of the deteriorating conditions in the army.

The report said most barracks in the country had massive shortages of food
and uniforms. It also noted the harmful effects of poor pay on morale.

Former army major Giles Mtsekwa, shadow minister of defence in parliament
for the opposition Movement for Democratic Change, MDC, said the desertions
and resignations point to massive discontent. "It's a dangerous situation
but Mugabe does not realise it," said Mtsekwa. "The soldiers are leaving
because they are poorly paid. We have warned about this for years."

He said the problem is made worse by the fact that while Mugabe underpays
the lower ranks he takes very good care of his generals.

"The generals have been allocated farms [confiscated from white commercial
farmers] which are protected by low-paid foot soldiers," said Mtsekwa. "They
[the generals]are very well paid and have access to army vehicles for
personal use at the farms.

"Mugabe is using divide and rule tactics even in the army. While the young
boys in the lower ranks are living like paupers, the generals are well
catered for. Mugabe's strategy has always been to take care of the top men
who are key to his continued stay in the power. This ensures that discontent
among the rank and file is easily dealt with."

ZANU PF parliamentary deputy and retired colonel Claudius Makova told IWPR
that the desertions were "nothing to worry about because most of the army
people are still loyal". Makova, who chairs parliament's defence committee,
said the
army is stable because most senior personnel are veterans of the 1970s war
of liberation against white minority rule "who love their country".

However, sources in the army said Makova is underplaying the enormity of the
growing crisis in order to please Mugabe, who is palpably predisposed to
flattery from his closest advisers. "If the army is hungry like it is now,
it's a potential security risk," one former army major told IWPR.

Some troops have been confined to barracks and are facing court-martials
after staging protests about food shortages.

An army spokesperson recently confirmed to a national newspaper that
soldiers are resigning, but denied that there has been an increase in the
rate. "The position is that if you are not happy, you are allowed to leave.
There is nothing new in that as it is has been happening since 1980," he

But in late March the government admitted the scale of the crisis by issuing
a new order banning soldiers and policemen from quitting their services
until they have served a minimum of ten years. Sources in the discharge
sections of both services said a combined total of 3,000 troops and police
officers had quit since January.

Obert Zizousiku is the pseudonym of an IWPR contributor in Zimbabwe.

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Mutambara Wants Security Forces to Shun Partisan Politics

      March 22, 2006.

      By Tagu Mkwenyani

      Harare (AND) Pro-senate faction leader, Arthur Mutambara, wants
Zimbabwe's security forces to shun partisan politics than compromise their

      PROFESSOR Arthur Mutambara, leader of the pro-senate faction of the
opposition MDC wants Zimbabwe's security forces to stay away from partisan
political activities that compromise their professionalism.

      Job Sikhala, the Secretary for Defence and Security in the faction
said, if elected Professor Mutambara would ensure forces were geared towards
towards protecting all citizens without regard to their political
affiliation. Sikhala explained Mutambara's position a day after security
forces raided their MDC offices in Bulawayo searching for arms of war.
      The soldiers are reported to have claimed that they had seen a man
with an AK47 entering the MDC premises. However party insiders say the raid
could have been an attempt to intimidate Mutambara, a new entrant to the
Zimbabwe political scene, who has been calling for the removal of the Zanu
PF government.

      Sikhala said Mutambara "cherishes professionalism and that his
government will ensure that the national security agencies provide
protection to all Zimbabweans without fear or favour." He added the
Professor also wanted to see "that the security forces at the present moment
try to maintain a high moral ground by refusing to take commands that are
not in the interests of the citizens. That they maintain high degree of
discipline and refuse to take part in partisan political activities that
will compromise their integrity as a professional force."

      Harare (AND)

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Cities in Crisis

Institute for War and Peace Reporting

Residents of the country's deteriorating urban centres blame government
policies for the collapse of municipal services and infrastructure.

By John Gumbo in Harare (AR No.57, 21-Mar-06)

Once the heart and soul of the region, the Mbare suburb of Harare has gone
into tragic decline, reflecting the general deterioration of many of the
country's cities and towns.

In the years between its establishment in the 1890s and Zimbabwe's
independence in 1980, the residents of this black township settlement, west
of the then capital Salisbury, boasted that it had evolved into the cultural
centre of sub-Saharan Africa.

The nationalist movement was born in Mbare, with people like Dr Samuel
Parirenyatwa - who together with Joshua Nkomo launched the first black
political party - living there in the 1950s.

Mbare used to be called Harare, but after independence the capital's new
black leaders considered the name so important that it replaced Salisbury.

Now Mbare's most of successful and illustrious sons and daughters of are too
high and mighty or ashamed to live there any more, although they cannot
resist visiting the suburb over the weekends to drink and throw braaivleis,
or barbecues, at the good old places of their youth.

Under the rule of President Robert Mugabe and his ZANU PF party, Mbare is
shadow of its former self. Its physical decay is painfully evident to anyone
who cares to drive through.

The traffic lights that once regulated crossings are gone. The tar is all
but eroded from the roads and pavements. Motorists negotiate their way
around potholes filled with raw sewage from numerous burst pipes, while
residents on foot skip nimbly from stone to stone to avoid being splashed by
the filth.

The stench of urine and human waste wafts through the air and food vendors
accost new arrivals with their unhygienic wares. Bus shelters have been
totally stripped of any material that can help build a rudimentary shelter
in a city of innumerable homeless people.

Mbare's homes - some of them three-storey flats known as matapi - are
falling apart. The windowpanes have been broken and the walls have been
defaced with mould and graffiti.

Washing facilities in the homes have long ceased to function and water taps
are rusting. Mbare last had running water in December 2005. On roadsides and
any open spaces near homes, heaps of garbage lie uncollected. Because of
Zimbabwe's chronic shortages of foreign exchange, fuel and vehicle spares,
refuse trucks have been grounded for months on end.

Cholera has struck for the first time in 26 years of independence. At least
30 people have died since the beginning of the year in Harare's working
class suburbs. Three members of one Mbare family have died of cholera and
for a while the township market was closed in an attempt to halt the spread
of infection.

The Mbare situation mirrors the state of all Zimbabwe's cities and towns,
which are slowly collapsing. It is a reflection of the country's
economy, which has been in steep decline for the past nine years, with
inflation expected soon to top 1,000 per cent.

In Harare as a whole, virtually nothing functions, from the streetlights to
the health delivery system. As the chaos in the cities, caused by central
government's interference in municipal government, continues to unfold, the
service delivery system gets worse by the day.

With most cities now under the control of the central government the
situation is certain to deteriorate further, posing serious health threats
to residents.

What worries people is the collapse of the sewage systems. Nelson Chabwinja,
a resident in Mbare for the past 16 years, says he fears for his family's
life, which he says is constantly at risk because of the burst pipes and
sewage. "Many of us live in the high
density areas where raw sewage actually flows right on to your doorstep. I
fear for my children's health," he said.

Harare City Council is battling to repair a sewage system that has become
severely stretched because of population increases and more recently because
of the collapse of maintenance services. The capital's remaining engineers
estimate that pipes are breaking at a rate of more than one hundred a day.

Salisbury/Harare was originally built to house a small population - 50,000
in 1950 and 615,000 at independence in 1980. The system now attempts to
support more than three million inhabitants. People have run away from the
dire poverty of the rural areas in the hope that the city will improve their

Engineers say Harare's system has not only been severely stretched but is
now too old to function efficiently. They say sewage and water pipes,
supposed to be replaced every 25 years, have had their life spans pushed to
40 years because Harare City Council is broke - more than one trillion
Zimbabwean dollars [10.5 million US dollars] in debt.

Like the whole Zimbabwe economy, Harare has also lost its creditworthiness
and foreign bankers are refusing to lend money to the council. The World
Bank, the African Development Bank, ADB, the European Union and other
international development agencies, which used to help Harare with loans for
infrastructure development, have withdrawn their support.

Harare's acting director of technical services, Michael Jaravaza, admitted
to the government-owned Herald, Zimbabwe's only daily newspaper, that the
city's sewage system, roads and other infrastructure have not been
maintained or repaired for more than a decade. He said the city council is
eight years behind in capital development and infrastructure maintenance.

Once described as Africa cleanest city, Harare sits on a health time bomb
and the government does not seem to have a solution. The crisis has moved
from the outer townships to the central business district where burst pipes
have also become a common feature. Street and traffic lights in the city
centre rarely function.

Faced with multiple crises, President Mugabe's ZANU PF government has moved
swiftly to take over the administration of the collapsing cities, accusing
their elected councils of failing to deliver. The main targets have been
councils run by the opposition Movement for Democratic Change, MDC.

In the past three years, the government has fired three elected mayors,
accusing them of either corruption or incompetence. Elected MDC Harare
executive mayor Elias Mudzuri was hounded out of office, fleeing to America
to study at Harvard University,

Mudzuri was replaced by a government-appointed commission, under which the
situation has deteriorated further. City officials have been sacked and
replaced by others whose only qualifications to run anything are loyalty to
the ruling party.

Local Government Minister Ignatius Chombo has also fired the mayors of
Chitungwiza and Mutare. The MDC mayor of Bulawayo is under siege from the
government. It accuses him of issuing severe food shortages reports
concerning the country's second city, which damage Zimbabwe's international

But residents and their organisations blame the government for the collapse
of town and city infrastructures. "It's Chombo and the government who are
destroying this city because of their policies," said Norman Kachere who
lives in Mbare. "They have politicised the whole council business, but it is
we the ratepayers who are suffering."

Mike Davis, chairman of the Combined Harare Residents' Association, CHRA,
says government interference is at the core of Harare's crisis. "The problem
here is governance. The commission appointed by government does not have the
people's mandate. It is government that has destroyed the town by firing
mayors," he said.

Davis' organisation has many pending court cases challenging the legality of
the state-appointed commission governing Harare. CHRA's persistent calls for
government to hold fresh democratic council and mayoral elections have been
ignored by Mugabe.

"We have a disaster. Nothing functions here," said Davis. "The road, lights
and sewage systems have broken down and the government is responsible.

"This government has always wanted to control the cities [the centres of
support for the opposition]. They are failing because not only do they not
have the people's mandate, but they also do not have the skilled and trained
people to do the job."

John Gumbo is the pseudonym of an IWPR contributor in Zimbabwe.

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Dialogue of the deaf in IMF report

From The Financial Mail (SA), 17 March

By Tony Hawkins, Harare

Predictably, Zimbabwe is blaming Britain and the US for last week's IMF
executive board decision to retain sanctions against the country, denying it
voting rights and access to IMF lending. Though Western votes certainly did
ensure that Zimbabwe's status with the IMF remained unchanged, despite its
clearing most of its arrears to the fund, it is obvious there would have
been no fresh lending to Harare regardless of the meeting's outcome. This is
so because Zimbabwe continues to ignore calls from the fund for a
"comprehensive policy package" to tackle inflation, now at a record 782%,
cut the budget deficit, free the exchange rate and restore a semblance of
transparency to government's murky financial dealings. The most that could
have happened, had the vote gone Zimbabwe's way, would be for the IMF to
have agreed a six-month "staff-monitored programme" during which Zimbabwe
would be required to implement precisely the reforms it refuses to adopt.

The debate at the board meeting underlined the chasm between the two sides.
Finance minister Herbert Murerwa insisted the economy was on the mend, with
positive growth in 2006 for the first time since 1998. In stark contrast,
the fund report presented to the meeting says the economic outlook is
"bleak"; government policies weak; partial reforms, such as last October's
launch of an interbank foreign exchange market, have been negated; that the
budget deficit is "unsustainable"; and that inflation will continue to
accelerate. The IMF report projects average inflation of 740% this year
(238% in 2005), a 4,5% decline in GDP (-6,5%) and money supply growth of
nearly 500%. It describes Zimbabwe's external situation as "precarious",
adding that short-term official borrowings of US$106m will have to be repaid
soon. It also warns that further sharp reductions in imports will be needed
and that despite assurances, far from cutting back on "quasi fiscal"
(off-budget) spending activities, the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe "is engaging
in substantial new quasi fiscal activity which will contribute to continued
high inflation".

The IMF-Zimbabwe meetings are a dialogue of the deaf. This is apparent from
Murerwa's bland insistence - days after mines minister Amos Midzi announced
plans to nationalise the mining industry - that "reports of company
takeovers and threats to property rights in other sectors . . . are
unfounded". After their unsuccessful trip to Washington, Murerwa and Reserve
Bank governor Gideon Gono face tough decisions. They will argue against the
proposed mines takeover, but they are on weak ground: having convinced the
cabinet to print Z$21 trillion (US$210m) to repay the IMF, they returned
empty-handed. In so doing, they drove inflation higher and the currency down
to a parallel market rate of around Z$250 000/US$.

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