Sat 25 March 2006
HARARE - Zimbabwe has imported more than 800 000 tonnes of maize from
neighbouring South Africa over 10-months but the country has seen a shortage
of the staple food worsen over the same period, the United States-based
Famine Early Warning Network Systems Network (FEWSNET) said this week.
FEWSNET monitors food security across the globe and has regularly
issued reports on Zimbabwe, once a regional bread basket that has faced
severe food shortages since President Robert Mugabe destabilised the
mainstay agricultural sector with his controversial farm seizure programme.
In its latest report released this week, FEWSNET said information
obtained from the South African Grain Information Services (SAGIS) indicated
that Zimbabwe had from April 1, 2005 to February 10, 2006 imported on
average 19 670 tonnes of maize every month from its neighbour.
"Total cumulative maize imports during this period were about 868 980
tonnes," the FEWSNET report states.
FEWSNET said as of February 10, 2006 the maize deficit gap for the
2005/06 consumption year was about 197 000 tonnes and said if imports were
maintained at the same rate, Zimbabwe - which requires 1.8 million tonnes
per year - would face a maize shortfall of 40 000 tonnes for the 2005/06
But the food monitoring group said despite the impressive import
figures, Zimbabwe remained in the grip of a severe food crisis adding that
in fact maize was scarcer than ever before with more households without
maize in February 2006 than they were in December 2005.
FEWSNET said far more households had ran out of stocks stored from the
last harvest and were now dependent on buying maize from the market to
survive, this when the purchasing power of many families has been severely
whittled down by inflation, hovering above 700 percent.
The government's Grain Marketing Board - in charge of maize
procurement and distribution - had also slashed distributions to hungry
people or deliveries to private millers, with households in Zimbabwe's
southern provinces worst affected by reduced supplies from the GMB, FEWSNET
It said: "In January and February, Grain Marketing Board (GMB) maize
distributions were significantly reduced and maize meal supplies from
private millers were more erratic.
"The households in the southern districts of Matabeleland South
province were among the populations that experienced the most severe
maize-meal shortages in the country during the month of January."
At least four million Zimbabweans out of a 12 million population are
in need of food aid, according to United Nations agencies.
Zimbabwe used to sell food to neighbours but has grappled hunger since
Mugabe chased away large-producing white farmers and parcelled out their
farms to landless black villagers, in what he said was a restoration of the
land to its rightful owners from whom it was stolen by white colonial
But the 82-year old President failed to support the resettled black
villagers with inputs, skills training and finance to maintain production
and as a result food output has fallen by about 60 percent since the farm
seizures began in 2000.
Local agricultural experts expect food production this year to be way
below national requirements again, blaming high cost of inputs during the
planting season, and a critical shortage of fertilizer and crop seeds. -
Sat 25 March 2006
HARARE - A consignment of sanitary pads donated to Zimbabwean women
will finally be allowed into the country after the Zimbabwe Congress of
Trade Unions (ZCTU) agreed to pay US$7 000 duty to the country's revenue
The sanitary pads, which were sourced by the ZCTU, have been stuck in
Johannesburg, South Africa, over the past few weeks after the Zimbabwe
Revenue Authority (Zimra) refused to waive duty on the consignment insisting
the labour union could not be considered for an exemption of duty because it
was not a welfare organisation.
But yesterday, ZCTU spokesman, Mlamleli Sibanda, said the union had
raised the needed cash to pay duty for the badly needed 12 million pads.
"This consignment was part of the ZCTU's efforts to ease the crisis
most women are facing in this country. We did not want to make it a
political issue hence the decision to pay duty and have the pads distributed
as a matter of urgency," he said.
Sanitary towels, like most basic commodities, are in short supply in
Zimbabwe which is in its sixth year of a bitter economic recession.
The Harare authorities have often refused to allow donated goods into
the country. Last year, for several weeks, the Zimbabwe government blocked
tonnes of food donated by South African churches for victims of a
controversial clean-up exercise.
The food was only allowed into the country after the South African
authorities issued certificates confirming that the food was not genetically
modified. - ZimOnline
Sat 25 March 2006
HARARE - The publisher of Zimbabwe's banned Daily News newspaper on
Friday postponed asking the High Court to declare the paper licenced to
publish and is instead understood to be seeking to meet Information Minister
Tichaona Jokonya over the matter.
Sam Sipepa Nkomo, head of Associated Newspapers of Zimbabwe (ANZ) that
published the Daily News and its also banned stable mate, Daily News on
Sunday, had earlier in the week said the newspaper firm was going to appeal
to the High Court yesterday seeking the court to declare its titles duly
Nkomo said ANZ was alternatively going to request the court to compel
Jokonya to appoint an ad hoc board to decide on its application for a
publishing licence after the court said the state's Media and Information
Commission (MIC) - that registers newspapers - was biased against the firm.
Jokonya was to be cited as respondent in ANZ's court application.
But sources at ANZ told ZimOnline that the company was temporarily
withholding litigation and that instead Nkomo was "seeking audience" with
Jokonya who the sources said was keen to meet the publishing executive.
"After Nkomo had written to the minister there were follow ups and
they have given an indication that Jokonya might consider granting them a
licence," said a senior ANZ executive, who spoke on condition he was not
ANZ lawyer Mordecai Mahlangu confirmed that he had not filed the
papers at court as previously announced.
"I will comment on Monday as regards the ANZ matter, at the moment the
interests of my client (ANZ) are better served by not saying anything," said
Mahlangu, referring further questions to Nkomo.
Nkomo in turn refused to discuss the matter but said his company was
not yet ready to go to court because "we are still preparing the court
Armed police forcibly shut down the Daily News and its stable mate
more than two years ago after the Supreme Court declared that the two papers
were operating outside the law because they were not licenced by the MIC.
The paper had refused to register with the commission pending the
outcome of a court challenge of the constitutionality of the law requiring
newspapers to register in order to publish.
But the Supreme Court refused to hear the application and instead
ruled that the papers were operating illegally because they were not
In a later ruling last year, the Supreme Court upheld as
constitutional the requirement that newspapers register with the MIC but the
court also said the ANZ could submit to the commission a fresh application
for a publishing licence.
The commission last July turned down the ANZ's new applications for a
licence, forcing the company to go back to the courts again. Earlier this
year Justice Rita Makarau quashed the MIC's decision to refuse to licence
the ANZ papers and also further declared that the state board had shown bias
and should no longer handle the matter.
Makarau's ruling means Jokonya has to appoint a board to determine
ANZ's licence application. - ZimOnline
March 24 2006 at 04:59PM
Harare - Twenty ruling party supporters in eastern Zimbabwe have been
sentenced to more than two years in jail for beating up people ahead of last
year's parliamentary elections, a newspaper reported on Friday.
Albert Nyakuedzwa, an official in President Robert Mugabe's ruling
Zimbabwe African National Union - Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF) party and a
manager with the state-run Grain Marketing Board masterminded the violence,
the Manica Post reports.
He and 17 other ZANU-PF supporters were each sentenced to 36 months in
jail. Two other ruling party supporters were given 30-month jail sentences.
The 20 were loyal to Didymus Mutasa, now the member of parliament for
Makoni North and the national security minister.
The group was accused of beating up supporters loyal to James Kaunye,
a ZANU-PF parliamentary hopeful who wanted to contest Mutasa's candidature
in the constituency ahead of the parliamentary polls last March. Kaunye
later withdrew his candidacy.
The 20 denied the charges, but a magistrate in Manicaland, Hosea
Mujaya said there was "overwhelming evidence" against them.
"The convicts acted in common purpose and were moving from place to
place attacking their rivals without being provoked," Mujaya was reported as
"The acts were barbaric, violating the rights of individuals you ought
to protect," he added.
The court heard that the group assaulted Kaunye, vandalised his
vehicle and attacked his supporters and family members in an orgy of
violence that "transformed Makoni North constituency into a terror zone",
said the Manica Post.
Last year a High Court judge said ruling party supporters in Makoni
North had also intimidated those from the opposition Movement for Democratic
Change (MDC) ahead of the elections by threatening to withold food and
agricultural inputs from them.
The MDC claims to have borne the brunt of politically-motivated
violence and intimidation over the past six years. - Sapa-dpa
Mail and Guardian
24 March 2006 01:31
A white security expert arrested more than two weeks ago over a
stash of weapons found at his home in eastern Zimbabwe has been denied bail,
local reports said on Friday.
"The High Court yesterday [Thursday] denied a bail application
by ex-Rhodesian soldier Peter Michael Hitschmann," the radio said.
Hitschmann was arrested in the city of Mutare in early March
along with four members of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change
(MDC) and four policemen.
Police found weapons at Hitschmann's house and said he was part
of a plot to unseat President Robert Mugabe and his government. But the case
appeared to fall apart when it emerged that Hitschmann was a registered arms
State prosecutors went on to drop terrorism charges against the
policemen and the four members of the opposition.
But Hitschmann is still in custody and faces charges of
conspiracy to possess weapons for insurgency.
Harare High Court Judge Alfas Chitakunye on Thursday turned down
Hitschmann's bail application, saying that the chances of his absconding
before trial was high, the state-controlled Herald reported.
He faces face life imprisonment if convicted.
State prosecutors said he had a licence to deal only in
non-automatic weapons, but some of those found at his home were automatic
"The quantity is such that it cannot be accounted for by reason
of personal use alone. It is presumed that the weapons were intended for
acts of insurgency," state lawyer Florence Ziyambi said.
Hitschmann's bail application this week was first due to be held
on Wednesday but was postponed when judge Charles Hungwe unexpectedly
Meanwhile, Mutare residents say Hitschmann never fought for the
minority white regime in what was then Rhodesia, as state media claims. They
say he was taken out of the country during the bush war in the 1970s by his
parents, who opposed the war on religious grounds. -- Sapa-dpa
The Herald (Harare)
March 24, 2006
Posted to the web March 24, 2006
THE Zimbabwe School Examinations Council (Zimsec) has announced new
examination fees for Ordinary and Advanced level candidates.
Under the new fee structure, students sitting for O-Level will be required
to pay $500 000 per subject, up from $35 000, and those writing A-Level will
pay $1,2 million per subject, up from $95 000. This means that parents or
guardians would need to raise $4 million for a child sitting for eight
subjects at O-Level and $3,6 million for a child to write three subjects at
A-Level. The A-Level Subsidiary English Language and Communication
examination will now cost $700 000. In a statement yesterday, Zimsec said
the closing date for registration for the May-June 2006 examinations would
be March 31 while May 12 would be the closing date for the November-December
The examination board also said it would not entertain any late entries and
that not all subjects would be written in June. "Lists of subjects on offer
in June are available at examination centres," the council said. While some
parents were of the opinion that the new fees made good economic sense
considering that the cost of running the examinations had gone up, others
said they would find it difficult to raise the required amounts.
Zimsec uses the money it collects in fees for preparing examinations and
printing question papers. Mr Remigio Mulota of Cranborne said it would be
unfair to expect exam fees to remain that low when the cost of everything
else was rising rapidly. "After all, these people (Zimsec) also need to make
money in order to run the examinations. If we get into this culture of
expecting everything to be cheap, then we should not complain when standards
continue to deteriorate.
"Yes, money is difficult to come by, but for one's children's education
surely $4 million is not that much," he said. However, another parent, Ms
Yeukai Matsika of Kambuzuma, said it was unfortunate that the exam fee hike
had come at a time when many parents were struggling to even raise school
fees. She said the least the Government could have done was to ensure that
exam fees remained affordable. The difference, she said, was that in the
case of school fees, parents have a choice of looking for cheaper and
affordable schools while exam fee levels applied to all pupils across the
"By virtue of it being the right of every child to sit for these public
examinations, every parent, employed or unemployed, should be able to afford
examination fees. "What we have now is a situation where education continues
to become more and more expensive. We shall soon be reliving the
pre-independence era where education was a preserve for an elite group,
mostly the whites," she said.
The Herald (Harare)
March 24, 2006
Posted to the web March 24, 2006
THERE is need to lay a foundation to clear misunderstandings between the
Britain and Zimbabwe, British Ambassador Dr Andrew Pocock said yesterday.
Dr Pocock said such a foundation should serve as the first step in building
bridges between the two feuding nations as noted by President Mugabe when
the diplomat presented his credentials at State House last month. The envoy
was speaking to journalists yesterday soon after paying a courtesy call on
Vice President Cde Joseph Msika at his Munhumutapa Offices in Harare.
"Before we build bridges, we need to do a lot of work to lay the foundation
and the commitment of the British government to the people of Zimbabwe is
"I met the Vice President to brief him on what I have been saying to many
people since I came because I want to meet as many people as possible to
tell them about Britain's position on Zimbabwe.
"The reception I have had since I came has been plain and frank and that is
very important because that will reduce areas of misunderstanding," said Dr
Pocock. He said in few days' time, he would fly to London to attend a
meeting of ministers and other senior government officials and return after
the Easter holidays. "I am not giving any statement now until after I have
attended that meeting," said Dr Pocock, who had initially shown reluctance
to discuss much about the state of the Harare-London relationship. He
described the meetings he has held with various people and organisations in
Zimbabwe as cordial and helpful, saying this would assist him in his
discussions in London.
Last month, President Mugabe told the British diplomat that he was free to
consult and familiarise with the situation in Zimbabwe and report the
reality on the ground and not what his government wishes to see and hear.
Relations between Zimbabwe and Britain have been sour since the year 2000
when Harare embarked on the land redistribution programme to address
colonial imbalances. The agrarian reforms saw the black majority reclaiming
vast tracts of land, formerly the preserve of the white minority, a
situation which did not go down well with the former colonial master who
ganged up with her allies and imposed illegal sanctions against Harare.
Earlier on, Palestinian Ambassador Mr Amro Abdulla Alhourani paid a courtesy
call on Cde Msika. Briefing journalists after the meeting, Mr Abdulla
Alhourani said he got assurance of Zimbabwe's support from Cde Msika against
his country's onslaught from the United States and its Western allies. This
comes after the election triumph of the militant Islamic Resistance Movement
(Hamas) that defeated the moderate Fatah party of Mr Mahmoud Abbas. The
result was a bitter pill to swallow for the Western powers who said they
would review all assistance programmes to Palestine. "The Vice President
assured me that Zimbabwe will support the Palestinian people and maintain
their internal unity as well as my stay here," he said. "The
Zimbabwe-Palestine relationship is cordial as we are partners in the
struggle and will stay as partners in building our two nations."
The diplomat noted that some Western coun tries were not happy with outcome
of the election held in January. "The change here is only that we have a new
government, but there is no much difference and I don't think that there can
be any crisis. The Palestinians will not allow the West to delete what has
been achieved to date and we are still committed to all the agreements and
we hope that all members of the coalition will play their role as well."
Western countries, together with Israel, have indicated that they will keep
diplomatic channels open with the defeated Mr Abbas in so doing putting
themselves above the wishes of the Palestinians who freely chose their
preferred leaders. The Hamas scenario is strikingly similar to Zimbabwe
where Western nations have always refused to accept the ruling Zanu-PF's
triumphs at the polls preferring the opposition MDC, which they sponsor.
Mail and Guardian
24 March 2006 09:29
Sometimes our fate is written in our names. Never has this
been truer for Morgan Tsvangirai, whose name means "sea dweller" and "the
edge of sea". Tsvangirai talked up a storm at the congress of his faction of
the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) as he tried to paddle his divided
party to shore, warning the government of a "cold season of democratic
"I promise . to use all available resources and will-power
to see off the tyranny in Zimbabwe today; to assist in putting together the
building blocks for a new Zimbabwe," he exclaimed.
The obstacles are formidable, as evidenced by the
government Security Minister Didymus Mutasa's swift rebuke: "If they want a
fight then we are more than ready to hit back harder." Tsvangirai's new
secretary general, Tendai Biti, retorted that "armed conflict or violent
means to take on the regime" are not being contemplated.
"We will form a united and popular front with other
democratic forces in Zimbabwe, civil society, the churches, the unions, the
student bodies and social movements. We have to create our own Nelson
Mandelas. We are ready to be shot at, to be beaten up, and to be arrested.
We will lead demon-strations from the front," he said.
In a perceived swipe at the pro-Senate MDC camp, Biti
said: "We will strive to work with all democratic forces that share our
ideals. These ideals don't mean working with the Zanu-PF government in a
government of national unity."
But Bhekinkosi Moyo, a researcher at the Africa Institute,
believes that the opposition is at its "weakest now" and that its challenges
have never been greater. "Given the strength of Zanu-PF now it is not likely
they [MDC] will embark on street protests. Street protests could have
happened in 2000. No one would follow them now."
This view is shared by Heneri Dzinotyiwei, an analyst at
the University of Zimbabwe. "The congress took place when enthusiasm is
wearing thin. People no longer have confidence in the political process." He
said the "people of Zimbabwe" want leaders with "courage and conviction. Do
they have it?" As if to respond, churches in Zimbabwe have initiated a new
platform for unity- the Christian Alliance - an interdenominational grouping
being convened by Reverend Levy Kadenge of the Methodist church.
"The people believe that the prophetic actions of the
church have not been visible enough . We will get more pro-active, we will
issue public statements and organise meetings ... We will not be afraid to
name names of those frustrating initiatives for change," said Jonah Gokova,
a member of the secretariat. Roman Catholic Archbishop Pius Ncube, a
prominent government critic, has been their inspiration. "We are not
creating a new agenda but working on what is already there. This confirms
that what Ncube is doing [is not] in isolation."
The alliance, which draws support from the National
Pastors Conference, has already linked with the National Constitutional
Assembly to press for a new constitution.
We have had the Commonwealth games on TV all this past week. It would
appear that Australia has again shown itself to be capable of hosting
these large events and the athletes have put on a great show for the rest
of us. Just this time Zimbabwe is not there - another example of our
growing political and diplomatic isolation. Botswana and all our other
neighbors were there and added to the color and ceremony of the occasion.
South Africa made quite an impact.
It is sad when we see global events like this where our own sportsmen and
women could compete and show the world what we are made of and we are
denied the privilege because our government is an international polecat.
Kirsty Coventry was in Harare this weekend at a national swimming gala -
signing autographs for the kids participating - she almost certainly would
have made gold in Australia.
It does not stop there - only two sectors of the Zimbabwe economy seem to
have survived Zanu PF - the mining and financial services sectors. In the
mining industry once you have made an investment in a hole in the ground,
you are locked in - nothing much you can do about it except keep on
digging or close it down to come back later at huge expense or simply walk
An Australian firm saw the massive potential of the platinum reserves in
Zimbabwe (we have a very large proportion of global reserves along the
Great Dyke) and sunk US$600 million into a hole near Chegutu. They built a
complete town of houses for staff and a huge processing complex, roads
were opened up and hundreds of staff recruited. Three years later - they
walked away and a small group of local investors bought the whole bang
shoot for a small payment - taking over what debts remained.
Anglo American - one of the largest mining companies in the world and at
one stage holding nearly half of all the counters on the stock market, has
quietly disinvested over the past 15 years. At one stage they were into
everything - chrome, steel, coal, nickel and a wide swathe of industry and
agro industrial firms. Now they operate out of a house in Harare and have
a handful of investments and retain only their platinum mining assets -
still in their embryonic state. They sold everything else - to whoever
would buy the assets for a reasonable price.
The South African mining giant Implats eventually bought the Chegutu
operation from our local investors (who made a fortune on the deal) and
announced a massive investment programme. Another South African mining
company (a company with black empowerment links) bought into the gold
industry. Now they are all wondering why they did such a dumb thing - Zanu
PF has moved to do what they have done to all other sectors, get involved
and destroy what is there.
After years of deliberation the Ministry of Mines made it known they were
going to take a 25 per cent stake in all major mining companies - without
compensation. In addition the same companies had to sell another 26 per
cent on the never never to either the State or a local black empowerment
group (read Zanu PF company in effect). Thus at one stroke they take over
a controlling interest in all major mining companies. This goes well
beyond anything being done in South Africa and it violates clear, solid
legal agreements entered into with companies prior to their entry to the
industry - especially in the platinum sector.
The industry has reacted with fury. At a meeting this week with the
Minister they spelled out what would happen - they would freeze all new
investment and all major maintenance. Output would start to decline in a
short while and thereafter would decline rapidly with mine closures being
inevitable. They also pointed out that as the principle stakeholder - the
State or its local partners would have to find the resources for any major
investment and if these involved hard currency, they would find it very
difficult to do so.
The other sector that has survived (battered and bruised, but still
operating) is the financial services industry. We have a good national
network of banks and other financial institutions that are basically well
run and sound. Now the state has imposed huge statutory reserve
requirements on the remaining commercial banks - six have gone to the wall
in the past 4 years. But to compound the problem, the new reserves have to
be paid to the Reserve Bank in US dollars!
In addition the overnight accommodation rates have been raised to the
inflation rate (nearly 800 per cent), so that if a bank needs some help to
cover its obligations (a normal money market operation) it has to pay a
punitive rate to the Reserve Bank for the facility. The smaller banks -
all owned and operated by local investors, will all struggle with these
new requirements. Already money is moving out of these institutions into
those that are perceived as being "safe". Money is also moving back into
the stock market where returns are still good and the funds secure (for a
while - but stay out of mining counters for a bit).
With agriculture and tourism down to 20 or 30 per cent of what they were 5
years ago, industry down to about 40 per cent, the action taken this past
two weeks will undermine what is left of the economy. As it is, most
informed observers are predicting a further decline in national economic
output this year - the 7th consecutive year of negative growth.
A local colleague of mine now estimates inflation at 3000 per cent per
annum - and rising. Certainly this week the increase in prices has been
scary. In this environment, if you do not watch what you are doing very
carefully, you simply go bust. One thing that we do know is that Zanu PF
and the collection of clowns that run the country, simply do not know what
to do - from the evidence of their action in the past week, they are now
committed to a process of self-destruction. Well, as far as I am
concerned, it cannot come soon enough.
Thank you to all of you who sent funds to us in time for the Congress - we
were able to help quite significantly. Now we are into the next phase -
action on the streets to bring about change and we will need lots of
support - if you are outside the country there is only one way you can
help - send some money. Every dollar helps. If you want a receipt or to
direct your funds to a particular activity or group - just let us know by
Bulawayo, 24th March 2006.
The Herald (Harare)
March 24, 2006
Posted to the web March 24, 2006
GOVERNMENT is making frantic efforts to ensure that 10,8 million litres of
diesel for winter cropping and harvesting of the summer crop is available on
At least 15,5 million litres of diesel was issued to farmers for the 2005
summer cropping season against demand of 20 million litres. During the 2005
winter wheat season, the National Oil Company of Zimbabwe (Noczim) managed
to supply 5,7 million litres instead of the required 10,7 million litres.
Noczim yesterday said supplies would be allocated to farmers who sold their
wheat through the Grain Marketing Board, as a measure to guard against abuse
of the cheap fuel facility. "We will only give the fuel to farmers who
supplied wheat to the GMB last season. We are working on the list of the
farmers together with GMB and other stakeholders," said Noczim director of
marketing and distribution Mr Krispen Mashange.
He said farmers with proof that they are ready to start winter wheat growing
would also benefit. "These farmers have to produce documents that give them
water rights and also prove they have irrigation equipment," he said.
Mr Mashange said because of the scarcity of dies el, Noczim would release
the fuel to farmers in tranches of 2 000 litres until they took delivery of
their total entitlements. "We give the fuel in smaller quantities in order
to spread farming operations. We want all the farmers to get fuel and embark
on farming activities at the same time," he said.
At least 150 litres of diesel are required to grow a hectare of maize, wheat
or soya beans. For land preparation, 30 litres of diesel are needed for
ploughing, 20 litres for disking, 20 litres for planting, another 20 litres
for spraying and 60 litres for harvesting. A total of 107 litres are
required to farm a hectare of tobacco of which 15 litres are required for
harrowing, nine litres for the application of lime, 30 litres for ploughing,
20 litres for ridging, five litres for contour ridges, eight litres for
re-ridging and another 20 litres for harvesting.
Secretary for Energy and Power Development Mr Justin Mupamhanga yesterday
said Government was working hard to ensure the availability of fuel
requested by the Department of Agricultural Research and Extension Services
(Arex). "We are going to ensure fuel is available with the support of the
Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe," he said.
Mr Mupamhanga said chances of farmers abusing fuel allocations were small as
in most cases the allocations they get are inadequate. In the majority of
cases, he said, farmers had to buy extra fuel at the pump price or from the
illegal parallel market. He said the ministry was tightening the
distribution and monitoring systems. "Three months ago we amended the
application form used by farmers to include verification by the Zimbabwe
Republic Police," he said.
The Herald (Harare)
March 24, 2006
Posted to the web March 24, 2006
BORDER Timbers Limited has said it will continue to face shortages of mature
timber for the next five years due to numerous fires that have disrupted
"Harvesting operations were disrupted by numerous fires in Chimanimani
estate while the shortages of mature timber in the company's plantations
also adversely affected the harvesting operations," the company said in a
statement accompanying its results for the 12 months to December 31 2005.
"At Chimanimani estates 3 000 hectares were damaged by arson fires, which
were started by illegal squatters in the estate and this will have a
disastrous effect on the availability of timber in the country as a whole,"
the firm said.
Timber shortages were expected to continue for the next five years. This was
likely to force the firm to source timber from other players in the
industry. The inability of the forest operations to supply adequate volumes
of logs and sawmills has lead to a decline in production. Erratic and
unscheduled power outages also contributed to the reduction of production at
sawmills. Border Timbers Limited posted a profit after tax of $59,6 billion
from $27,6 billion t he prior year.
Turnover for the group increased by 425 percent to $92,1 billion from $15,3
billion the prior year and operational costs, which include $62 billion
losses in respect of fire-damaged trees, increased by 493 percent.
Paulington factory performed well despite challenges in log deliveries from
the estates and was expected to perform better if deliveries improve. Export
demand for the company looked strong while the local market remained weak.
By Lance Guma
24 March 2006
Raymond Majongwe the Secretary General of the Progressive Teachers
Union (PTUZ) was arrested last week Friday on allegations of 'driving' a
group of dutch trade unionists and teachers visiting the country. Police in
the Mabvuku suburb of Harare said 'Majongwe's visitors' were taking pictures
of police activities at a roadblock and that Majongwe aided them in
'destabilization activities' by driving the car in use. The incident
highlights once again the regime's paranoia with any visitors from outside
The police say Majongwe and his 4 visitors failed to stop at a
roadblock near the Mabvuku roundabout in the capital. Security on the day
was tight as the main opposition was beginning its three-day congress at the
City Sports Centre. The PTUZ boss says he missed the MDC congress, which
re-elected Morgan Tsvangirai that weekend as the harassment rumbled on for
two days without any resolution. They were interrogated for several hours
while also being asked to produce their passports. Although they were not
detained overnight on Friday, the group had to report to Mabvuku police
station the following morning on Saturday.
All the photographic equipment in their possession was seized and
police processed the photos, which clearly showed that these were people on
a sight seeing tour. It was only then that the matter was finally allowed to
rest. Majongwe says even after the incident, state security operatives were
trailing him the whole weekend and hence he took the decision to spend the
rest of the weekend at home. This he says was to avoid giving them further
excuses to harass him.
Two officials from the same FNV union were deported last week after
trying to visit the country to evaluate a Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Union
(ZCTU) Labour school programme, which they are sponsoring. ZCTU information
officer Mlamleli Sibanda says the government wants all ZCTU visitors from
outside the country to be cleared by the Ministry of Labour before they are
allowed in the country. This the union say is unacceptable and they will
continue to defy the directive.
SW Radio Africa Zimbabwe news
By Violet Gonda
24 March 2006
"We have killed and torn down enough; it now must be a time to heal
One of the quotes from a hard-hitting Pastoral Letter to the Nation,
on the crisis in the country, by the Zimbabwe Council of Churches (ZCC). The
letter, the strongest statement so far from the ZCC, calls for the regime of
Robert Mugabe to be accountable and urges all Zimbabweans to take
responsibility for their situation.
Analysts have welcomed this latest stance by the churches who have
generally been less vocal about the crisis. With the exception of some
church leaders like Pius Ncube, the Catholic Archbishop of Bulawayo,
Zimbabwean churches have in the past been criticised for being silent and
not speaking out against the atrocities perpetrated by the regime.
We were not able to get a comment from the ZCC leadership.
Reverend Graham Shaw of the Methodist Church said although he hasn't
seen the pastoral letter, he is "pleasantly surprised if the ZCC is now
beginning to fulfil its divine mandate to speak prophetically about the
situation. Because in recent months and years they have been remarkably
quiet in the face of massive humanitarian disaster and the most gross human
Observers say pressure is now seriously mounting on the ruling party
as more groups are speaking out with a united voice. On Wednesday in Mutare
an all stakeholders conference organised by Zimbabwe's largest civic groups
resolved to take action as a united front and push for a new constitution.
The gathering included the labour movement, student and civic groups and the
Reverend Shaw said such Pastoral Letters are significant as they are
an indication of the seriousness which church leaders are taking the
deteriorating situation in the country. He said, "They indicate to the
Church and the nation that the church leadership is feeling the pain, is
hearing the cries of the people and is wanting to respond and give moral
The Pastoral Letter from the Churches read in part;
"The majority of our people now live in abject poverty, are unemployed
and are severely threatened with hunger and diseases. In instances where
investigations have been done to establish the cause of our situation the
results have pointed to bad governance, unjust laws, corruption, lack of
integrity and the unfair distribution of resources as some of the root
It said on the issue of corruption; "As Churches in Zimbabwe we note
with concern that even where the machinery exists to curb corruption, little
is being done or has been done. We, therefore, feel obliged to speak out on
this evil that is continuously bleeding an already crumbling economy and if
this continues unchecked, recovery will be impossible."
The churches described the shambolic land reform program as an
"unfinished business that has threatened the food security of Zimbabwe and
led to massive unemployment."
The ZCC also noted with concern the bungling and interference by the
Chombo led ministry of local Government which has exacerbated the
dilapidation of infrastructures in local government. Cities, including the
capital Harare, have no functioning streetlights, potholes are everywhere,
uncollected garbage continues to pile up and burst sewage is flowing in the
Several groups have also echoed calls from the National Constitutional
Assembly for a democratic and people driven constitution. The churches have
also joined this call noting that, "the Constitution centralizes power in
the Executive and takes away too much from the people.We feel that there is
urgent need for appropriate amendments to be made to our constitution so as
to level the playing field and create an environment which will enable the
citizens to play and feel a part in the running of the country's affairs."
The Zimbabwe Council of Churches consist of the mainstream churches,
like the Methodist, Anglican, Dutch Reformed and Presbyterian churches.
Zimbabwe Council of Churches' Pastoral Letter to the nation
Title: Zimbabwe Council of Churches' Pastoral Letter to the
Author: ZCC, Mutale
Source: Zimbabwe Council of Churches
Summary & Comment: This just released Pastoral Letter to the
Nation from the Zimbabwe Council of Churches will be distributed to all ZCC
member churches and to all within those churches. It is the strongest
statement so far from the ZCC on the troubled state of affairs in Zimbabwe
and the need for the government and all Zimbabweans to take responsibility
and be accountable. The churches have recently been major players along with
other civil society groups in organizing structures and meetings that
mobilize public opinion around mass action. DN
A Pastoral Letter to the nation
Having thoroughly and critically observed the unfolding events
in Zimbabwe, the Zimbabwe Council of Churches notes with great sadness the
rapid decline in the quality of life for ordinary Zimbabweans. Our Lord
Jesus Christ said "I have come in order that you might have life - life in
its fullness." John 10:10b. This is now a far cry from the situation which
we find ourselves in; Zimbabweans are now being forced to live on selected
The majority of our people now lives in abject poverty, are
unemployed and are severely threatened with hunger and diseases. God
bestowed enough wealth in Zimbabwe to enable His people to live life in its
fullness; hence we call on Zimbabweans who are the stewards of God's wealth
to avail it for all Zimbabweans. In instances where investigations have been
done to establish the cause of our situation the results have pointed to bad
governance, unjust laws, corruption, lack of integrity and the unfair
distribution of resources as some of the root causes.
Our mission is "To meet the needs of our communities through the
proclamation of the gospel to develop our capacity to be self-sustaining and
to speak with one voice on issues of national interest." We are set to
continuously work as stated in our mission statement so that our nation will
prosper. We call upon Zimbabweans to listen to the advice of the wise,
"Wealth that you get by dishonesty will do you no good, but honesty can save
your life." Proverbs 10:2.
The economic costs of corruption are enormous. Corruption
thrives in an environment where religious, ethical teaching and moral
standards are weak, punishment is lenient, large number of people are
competing for insufficient services and where there is great inequality of
wealth. The government has expressed willingness to deal with corruption.
Most recently concern from various quarters has been expressed strongly
against corrupt practices in high offices. This has seen the creation of the
Ministry of Special Affairs in the President's office and cabinet
responsible for anti-corruption and anti-monopolies, and the setting up of
the anti-corruption commission. These are positive signs in the fight
against corruption. However, efforts should not just be cosmetic but be put
into full and effective use in order to rid society of this monster.
Corruption does not only have impact on economics but impacts
negatively on the whole social fabric, in particular a society that thrives
to build democracy and promote good governance in Zimbabwe. The Reserve Bank
of Zimbabwe Governor, Dr. Gideon Gono, also bemoaned the rise of corruption
in all sectors of the economy in which he named it as the economy's major
As Churches in Zimbabwe, we note with concern that even where
the machinery exists to curb corruption, little is being done or has been
done. We, therefore, feel obliged to speak out on this evil that is
continuously bleeding an already crumbling economy and if this continues
unchecked, recovery will be impossible.
2. STATE OF THE ECONOMY
The present Zimbabwean economy is characterized by acute foreign
currency, fuel and drug shortages, a thriving and fully fledged parallel
market for basic commodities and services, massive corruption threatening a
shutdown to the Zimbabwean economy with deeply destabilizing consequences
for the country itself and the surrounding region. The economic situation
has deteriorated to the extent that we have become a burden to the
neighbouring countries as millions of Zimbabweans have now became economic
refugees in those countries. Brain drain has also become the order of the
day as the doctors, lawyers, teachers and other professionals leave for
greener pastures. This is a major concern for the church.
The following are the major highlights in the state of the
Inflation is regarded as number one enemy but it appears that
the fight against this known enemy has stopped. With the current level of
inflation life becomes unmanageable and unpredictable. The future looks
bleak and investments are threatened.
- b. Debt
Both domestic and international debt require continuous
servicing and to be greatly reduced. The propensity to borrow for recurrent
expenditure is growing when the nation is under this burden of economic
insecurity. The church also notes with concern the growing uncertainties
concerning the relations between Zimbabwe and the International Financial
Institutions like the IMF.
- c. Devaluation
For whose benefit? Local people are now finding it difficult to
acquire goods and services as these are now pegged in US dollar terms. It is
difficult to compete with those people in the diaspora as they always offer
higher prices for things like houses and stands and even cars. Since the
houses are owned by people living outside the country rentals are very high
as they match them with those in the diaspora. This means that devaluation
is targeted at improving the lives of those living outside Zimbabwe whilst
driving the prices of goods and services out of reach of the locally based
Zimbabweans. Zimbabwean industry continues to under perform. Despite the
implementation of the Operation Murambatsvina, the informal sector is still
flourishing without contributing to the national revenue.
3. LAND REFORM - AN UNFINISHED BUSINESS
In Zimbabwe, our economy is agro-based; and, as such, we note
with concern numerous challenges that are faced:
a. Continuous land seizure/grabbing/occupation
b. Multiple land ownership
c. Underutilization of land
d. Misuse and abuse of facilities meant for the new farmers such
as the subsidized
fuel which they divert to the black market.
e. Loans from Agribank are abused by people who have
f. Under performance of the agriculture sector also kills the
All these mentioned challenges lead to unemployment as those who
have been employed in the agriculture sector are rendered redundant. In the
same vein this has also threatened the food security of Zimbabwe which was
once regarded as the regional breadbasket. Food inflation which accounted
for 32 percent of the inflation basket will continue to rise if farm
disruptions and other such retrogressive practices persisted. Down stream
and up stream industry suffer thereby pushing unemployment up and this
further weakens our economy.
4. STATE OF OUR TOWNS AND CITIES
After operation Restore Order/Murambatsvina that was conducted
in all the cities and towns in Zimbabwe, the general feeling was that order
was going to prevail; but eight months down the line, the state of the same
is deplorable and in a bad state. Even with the intervention of the Reserve
Bank Governor to give loans to the local authorities, our cities are
continuously losing gloss. In Chitungwiza for example the water and sewerage
reticulation is still not up to standard. The infrastructure in our towns
and cities is deteriorating i.e. the streetlights are not functioning,
potholes are all over the roads, uncollected garbage continues to pile up,
burst sewage is flowing in the residential areas.
We also note with concern that the interference by the Ministry
of local Government and Urban Development meant to turn around the situation
has failed, instead the situation has deteriorated. Of deep concern is the
quality of water in the cities especially for Bulawayo, Ruwa, Marondera,
Chitungwiza, Norton and Harare among others. There have been questions
raised as to whether the water quality meets the World Health Organisation
Standards. With the outbreak of cholera people live in fear of an epidemic
if things do not change soon.
5. THE CONSTITUTION
God is a God of Justice and He wants the rulers of His people to
administer justice. The rulers of God's people must be an expression of the
people's wishes. People elect leaders and the elections are in accordance
with the Constitution of the land.
A Constitution is the most important law in any country as
through it the instruments of good governance are established. A democratic
society can therefore only come from a democratic constitution. There has
been criticism from various quarters that our present Constitution
centralizes power in the Executive and takes away too much from the people.
We share this criticism of our constitution. We feel that there is urgent
need for appropriate amendments to be made to our constitution so as to
level the playing field and create an environment which will enable the
citizens to play and feel a part in the running of the country's affairs.
The Churches Prayer/Our Prayer
"Do not think that I come to abolish the law or the prophets, I
have come not to abolish but to fulfil" Mt 5:17 (NRSV).
In speaking of the law or the prophets, Christ was speaking of
the culture and religion in a broad sense, concerning the Jewish nation. The
church draws inspiration from these words of our Lord to remind the nation
of Zimbabwe of its cultural identity and call to salvation. All cultures of
the nation of Zimbabwe have a common foundation in values, morality and
communal social action that enhance social relationships, harmonious living
and prosperity of all. These cultural foundations teach us to celebrate the
central truths of Christianity, how to distribute the goods of the earth and
live out our daily lives in love, truth and community spirit. The Church
stand in admiration and awe of these positive foundations and prays that the
Government, Parliament, Citizenry and Churches the nation of Zimbabwe
responds to the call to salvation.
This then is our exhortation:
a. All the three pillars of the state, the Executive (the
and the judiciary must act in concert, but each much retain its
and traditional role over the other. This evil must be
expeditiously rooted out without fear or favour. Action must be
swift and decisive display of seriousness.
b. The citizenry, informed by ethical and professional
journalism, must stand in
the truth; cooperate fully with the government against
corruption. It must
show strength of character by desisting from corrupt practices
denouncing corruption at all levels. Citizens should not in one
the government and then go on to engage in corrupt activities.
a. Government is urged to adopt fiscal measures that stimulate
growth with equity in order to close the widening gap between the rich and
poor. Such a broad gap offends the sense and spirit of community of the
nation of Zimbabwe. b. Government should engage all selflessly to seriously
committed stakeholders in the quest for total economic recovery. We have
tended to put blame on others and failed to focus on ourselves for the part
we have played in destroying our economy.
a. It is a serious indictment on this nation that six years
after embarking on the policy of land acquisition we still hear of land
invasions. It is time that a stop is put to this more so as this is now
taking place from those in high places. We should now be talking about good
land utilization especially this season when God has blessed us with such
Government must take up a deliberate and robust policy of
rectifying whatever errors were done during the chaotic period of land
a. The newly settled farmers should be encouraged to seek
training in acquiring
skills for proper land utilization so that we are restored to
our position of being
the bread basket of the Southern Africa.
4. STATE OF TOWNS AND CITIES
a. It is of concern to witness a resurfacing of structures and
which led to the operation Murambatsvina. Corrective action
needs to be
urgently taken to nip the bad practices in the bud.
b. Government is urged to bring about normalcy in the running of
towns and cities
as a matter of urgency.
c. Parliament must deliberate upon and enact legislation that
control by the citizenry in the running of towns and cities and
whilst there may be differences in political persuasions,
politicking and partisan
interests and machinations will not prejudice the nation of
5. THE CONSTITUTION
In the light of the above observations we strongly feel that
Government and Parliament must attend to all aspects of the constitution and
which have been complaint of Chief among these are:
(a) Centralization of the powers on the President.
(b) Holding of Presidential election separately from
In making any such amendment wide consultations must be made so
that no sector of our nation is left out. We need to come up with a
Constitution which will create an environment conducive for peace and
Let us all take up our call to salvation and confess our sins
before God for the part each of us has played in bringing our country to the
sorry state we find ourselves. We must remind ourselves of the thought
demonstratively expressed in Ecclesiastes 3:1-3.
"There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity
a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,
a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build.."
We have killed and torn down enough; it now must be a time to
heal and rebuild.
By the Zimbabwe Council of Churches:
African Methodist Church
African Methodist Episcopal
Anglican Diocese of Harare
Anglican Diocese of Central Zimbabwe
Anglican Diocese of Matabeleland
Anglican Diocese of Masvingo
Anglican Diocese of Manicaland
Baptist Church Convention
Christian Marching Church
Church of Central Africa Presbyterian
Church of Christ in Zimbabwe Council Churches
Dutch Reformed Church
Evangelical Lutheran Church in Zimbabwe
Independent Church in Africa
Independent African Church (Mushakata)
Methodist Church in Zimbabwe
Presbyterian Church of Africa
Reformed Church in Zimbabwe
United Church of Christ in Zimbabwe
Uniting Presbyterian Church of Southern Africa
United Congregational church (SA)
United Methodist Church Ziwezano Church
SW Radio Africa Zimbabwe news
24th March 2006
Zimbabwe's state-owned press is reporting that mines minister Amos Midzi is
to be censured for his efforts to indigenise the mining industry.
Despite a series of comments from government sources indicating the
ownership grab by the Zimbabwean authorities had met cabinet approval, the
reports in the Zimbabwe Independent suggest an about-turn could be
Mr Midzi is said to have championed the plans to acquire a 51 per cent stake
in the country's mining interests, despite public opposition from the
Now the government is reportedly set to reprimand Mr Midzi for his remarks
with "higher authorities, including President Robert Mugabe" due to give him
a dressing down.
Earlier this week Mr Midzi was reported to have vowed the country would "not
be deviated from that policy", but now sources tell the Independent the
minister has gone too far.
"Midzi misdirected himself in uttering those misleading statements," a
source told the paper.
"Midzi has created problems for himself and government over the mines
"He will be censured either publicly or in private by Mugabe or any other
senior minister next week. His remarks have caused confusion and panic in
the local business and international communities."
According to the newspaper the cabinet has been divided over the issue,
although last month it was claimed that approval for the policy had
effectively been granted.
Implats chief executive Keith Rumble met the Zimbabwean president last week
to discuss the plans and register discontent on behalf of the second largest
platinum company in the world.
If the government does move ahead with its plans, foreign-owned mines would
have to give up a 25 per cent stake for free and a further 26 per cent of
their stock that would be paid for over time.
There have been several applications for special grants to explore
Zimbabwe's 24 coalfields, Mining Weekly Online can today report.
As coal was considered an energy mineral, all extraction was done
through a special conditional grant, which RioZim deputy chairperson John
Nixon suggested at the Coaltrans South Africa conference could hamper
He said that investors desired consistency in the mining regime, which
was again absent with the latest overture for 51% of mining operations to be
He said that exploration in Zimbabwe was achieved through an exclusive
prospecting order system, which allowed access to large tracts of ground and
which could be renewed for longer than the initial three-year period.
The Montam study undertaken in 1982 - about 100 years after Zimbabwe's
coal fields achieved international interest - indicated that the 24
coalfields were located largely in the north-west and south-east of the
Zimbabwe had an 11-billion ton inferred resource, a 1980 figure that
did not appear to have been updated.
The Wankie mine, a coalfield named for Chief Zvanki in the 1800s,
provided coal to the Wankie power station and was the country's only mine
two seams, one of coking coal and the other of thermal coal, were
mined and a new shaft was due to be sunk soon.
In addition, there were underground activities at Wankie.
The company that controlled Wankie was also aiming to develop, Chaba,
a new noncoking opencast operation, which should improve Wankie's output
beyond the anticipated four-million tons a year.
At Sengwa, in the north-west, work had been done in exploration and
the mine was still in the development stage, although there was a
small-scale operation taking place at the mine, which was a joint venture
between Rio Tinto and RioZim, and where there was a 1,3-billion ton
Wankie power station operator Zesa, which had become concerned about
coal supply to the station, decided to mine its own coal.
Nixon said that it would be some time before a new mine was
established, as Zesa had not yet proved up the resource.
Despite this limited activity, Nixon believed that there were
opportunities for coal mining Zimbabwe, as there were many varieties of coal
and opportunities for selected mining or to supply niche markets.
In addition, miners could write off 100% of their capital, pay 15% tax
and have customs duty exemption and an opportunity to open foreign currency
accounts through the Zimbabwean Reserve Bank.
Yet, there were infrastructure problems, and he said that the current
electricity problems were just the tip of the iceberg.
In addition, the railways were deteriorating.
On the legislative front, Nixon said that there could be changes ahead
that might impede investment and it had to be borne in mined that all
minerals had to be sold through Zimbabwe's Minerals Marketing Corporation.
The Herald (Harare)
March 24, 2006
Posted to the web March 24, 2006
LOVEMORE Mataire, the editor of the Voice, who had been facing charges of
stealing more that $6 million from his employer, was acquitted at the Harare
Magistrates' Courts yesterday.
The State, led by prosecutor Ms Sibambaniso Kundai, withdrew the charges
before plea after the ruling Zanu-PF unconditionally dropped the case
against him resulting in magistrate Rebecca Takavadiyi discharging him. His
lawyer, Mr Chris Mhike, confirmed the withdrawal of the charges, saying
Zanu-PF forwarded a document to the effect that they were no longer
interested in the matter being prosecuted. He added that the letter further
stated that it was in the interest of the party to have the charges
withdrawn with immediate effect.
Charges against Mataire (29), an employee of The Voice, a Zanu-PF weekly
publication, arose after he reportedly converted proceeds from newspaper
sales to his personal use. The State alleged that between August 21, 2004
and October 12 last year, Mataire instructed newspaper vendors and agents to
deposit proceeds from the paper's sales into his personal bank account held
with Central Africa Building Society (CABS) instead of The Voice's Zimbank
It had been further alleged that Mataire would subsequently withdraw the
money and convert it to his own use. It was also the State case that as a
result of Mataire's actions, The Voice was prejudiced of $6 110 000 and
nothing was recovered. After the court session, Mr Mhike told The Herald
that the withdrawal was a positive move. "It is heartening for citizens,
particularly legal practitioners, to witness the prevailing of reason and
justice. We believe that the exoneration of my client amounts to that," said
Daily Mirror, Zimbabwe
The Daily Mirror Reporter
issue date :2006-Mar-25
THE MDC pro-Senate camp led by Arthur Mutambara has launched a fresh bid to
penetrate Zanu PF's stronghold in the rural areas, holding two rallies in
Mhondoro and Seke recently.
St Mary's legislator Job Sikhala and the faction's provincial leadership
travelled to Seke this week where they held rallies and elected new ward
structures in the area.
Sikhala, who is the faction's secretary for defence, had a tough time
explaining to villagers on what had befallen the MDC in the aftermath of its
split in October last year.
He alleged the once vibrant opposition party split into two factions because
of Morgan Tsvangirai's dictatorial tendencies. Tsvangirai now heads the MDC
"We are gathered here today to tell you that we have since parted ways with
Tsvangirai who wilfully violated the MDC constitution. We as a party are
bound and led by our own constitution. He is a dictator who follows the
wills of our former colonisers and white commercial farmers," Sikhala
alleged. He was responding to questions by villagers who wanted to know why
there were now two opposition parties using the MDC's name
Daily Mirror, Zimbabwe
The Daily Mirror Reporter
issue date :2006-Mar-25
THE Electoral Commissions Forum (ECF) of Southern Africa recently held a
four-day workshop in Windhoek, Namibia to explore ways of improving
independence of electoral bodies in the region.
The meeting was held between March 12 and 16.
Zimbabwe's delegation comprised commissioner Sarah Kachingwe from the
Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) and chief law officer, Shamiso
In a statement Zec said: "The objectives of the workshop were to bring
Election Management Bodies (EMBs), together to deliberate on the legal
framework under which they operate, to identify critical elements for
further enhancement of the independence of electoral commissions, to explore
ways of enhancing the independence and impartiality of EMBs and to develop a
framework of common standards that can be used in the Sadc region."
The participants also presented papers on the legal frameworks in their
respective countries and while the workshop tried to develop and ideal
structure of an independent electoral commission.
Meanwhile, Zec chairperson, Justice George Chiweshe, chief elections
officer, Lovemore Sekeramayi and secretary to the Commission, Dominic
Chidakuza attended a special annual general conference of ECF in Namibia on
The meeting was meant to consider issues of special interest to the Sadc
The Herald (Harare)
March 24, 2006
Posted to the web March 24, 2006
ZIMBABWEAN ambassadors based in various countries should make a greater
effort to promote tourism, Ambassador Tendai Mutunhu has said.
He made the remarks during a three-day Fifth Annual Review Conference
organised by the Centre for Peace Initiatives in Africa last month. He said
it was regrettable that tourism, a major foreign currency earner in the
past, was underperforming although there was no evidence of instability to
warrant such a development. "I know from my experience that sometimes it is
difficult in some hostile countries to explain Zimbabwe's position, but
there is need to come up with new mechanisms to market the country's tourism
sector, which has really suffered from negative publicity, which in some
instances was never countered," he said.
Ambassador Mutunhu, who has since retired from the diplomatic service, has
represented Zimbabwe in several Scandinavian countries and within Africa. In
his view, the role of ambassadors in various countries cannot be
underestimated, as they were the country's flag bearers. "The image of the
country needs to be promoted and the world needs to know that Zimbabwe is
still one of the safest countries in the region. Our diplomats abroad have
the mandate to correct the strangling of our tourism sector."
Ambassador Mutunhu said it was unfortunate that some diplomats could be so
intimidated by negative reports about Zimbabwe to the extent of failing to
undo the damage caused. Unlike foreign diplomats based in Zimbabwe who have
been aggressively marketing their countries by engaging the local media and
interacting with various communities through developmental initiatives,
there was still not much coming from the country's flag bearers deployed in
Ambassador Mutunhu said there was also need on the part of the Ministry of
Foreign Affairs to equip diplomats with the necessary resources to market
the country. "Is it not shocking that one walks in an embassy of Zimbabwe
and finds no material about what the country has to offer in the tourism
sector. "Even during some commemorations, does it not signify lack of
initiativ e or creativity if our embassies abroad have nothing special to
showcase to hundreds of people they would have invited?"
He said from his experience in other countries, Zimbabwe had much more to
offer in terms of infrastructure and natural beauty. It was therefore
unfortunate that the tourism sector was being neglected by lack of
strategies to overcome challenges created by a hostile international Press.
"If the negative reports are not true there is no reason why our tourism
sector should continue to suffer like this. "With the necessary scheming and
seriousness we could see an immense difference by the end of the year."
Mr Eben Makonese of Chemplex Corporation said the hotel industry in Zimbabwe
has been badly affected by the chorus of negative publicity. He said many
hotels had gone without business for months while local tourists could not
boost the industry owing to the exorbitant rates charged by the hospitality
industry. Mr Makonese said an economic downturn that has been fuelled by
lack of foreign currency and high inflation rate had also cast a dark cloud
on the hotel industry. "The equipment that is needed in the bulk of repairs
that are conducted in many hotels is imported from abroad and hotels have
found themselves unable to sustain their standards due to the unavailability
of foreign currency," Mr Makonese said. Some of the participants in the
review conference argued that although diplomats had a role to play, the
hotel industry needed to be more organised and come up with new mechanisms
to lure tourists back. Another participant from Japan said the hotel
industry in Zimbabwe needed to embark on massive promotional campaigns for
people to know about the country's tourism sector.
"I have stayed in Burundi for so many years and have not heard anybody
marketing Zimbabwe except for the bad publicity. "When I was invited here I
was surprised what a marvel the country is and yet nobody has really
bothered to attend some of our seminars to promote the tourism sector in
Zimbabwe," she said.
The Parks and Wildlife Management Authority said the wildlife sector has
been aggressive in its marketing strategies. Public relations manager
Retired Major Edward Mbewe said hard work had saved the hunting sector in
Zimbabwe, which is the only sphere in the tourism sector, not affected by
negative publicity. "We went on a massive marketing strategy that included
sending teams to America to assure our clients that the country remained a
safe destination and this has indeed paid off." Rtd Maj Mbewe said another
team was in America recently where they clinched deals with scores of
hunters who will soon visit the country. "It takes serious initiatives and
persistence to convince the world of the true Zimbabwean picture," he told