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

Back to Index

Back to the Top
Back to Index

      The Daily Telegraph - letters to the editor

      Re: Don't forget Zimbabwe
      Date: 27 March 2003

      Sir - While the eyes of the world are focused upon the international
community's efforts to rid Iraq of a tyrant, another continues his
repression apace.

      Robert Mugabe  does not possess weapons of mass destruction, but, like
Saddam Hussein, he is singled-handedly responsible for the destruction of a
once prosperous country - its people, its economy and its infrastructure.
While the eyes of the world are turned, Zimbabwe's people are enduring a
renewed onslaught of Mugabe-sponsored violence.

      Following last week's two-day national strike I have received truly
shocking reports from Harare. This weekend has been one of reprisals and
death for any who dare to oppose Mugabe.

      At one hospital alone, more than 250 injured people were treated in
just three days following reprisals by government forces. One woman had been
sexually assaulted with the butt of a rifle. Another 250 people remain in
detention in Harare Central Police station with no proper access to legal
representation. Many others are still missing.

      Mugabe has warned that those who oppose him will now face "greater
vigilance and greater action". He has threatened not to "treat them with
soft gloves any more". This will strike fear into the hearts of every

      The government maintains that it continues to do everything possible
to restore democracy and the rule of law in Zimbabwe, but the facts tell a
different story. All that Jack Straw has ever secured are gestures of
concern and weak sanctions from the EU and Commonwealth. These have had
little impact upon Mugabe and his regime.

      As I left Zimbabwe last summer one black farm worker grasped my hand
and said simply: "Don't let the world forget us". I will not, and neither
should the Government.

      Michael Ancram, Shadow Foreign Secretary, London SW1
Back to the Top
Back to Index

Daily Telegraph

      Zimbabwe bleeds
      (Filed: 27/03/2003)

      The opening of the second Gulf war has totally overshadowed a new
phase of the struggle in Zimbabwe between President Robert Mugabe and the

      On March 18 and 19, the country was paralysed by a strike called by
the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), the largest protest since Mr
Mugabe was re-elected for a six-year term in 2002. Unfortunately, the
stoppage was marred by a few instances of violence which gave the government
the pretext, if it needed any, to arrest more than 500 people, many of whom
are being held without charge and denied food and access to lawyers. Others
were subjected to random attacks by the army.

      Zwakwana, the human rights monitoring group, said that hospitals in
Harare had treated at least 250 people for broken bones, bruising and sexual
assault after they had been beaten with wire whips, iron bars, electrical
cords and rifle butts. The harrowing experience of one victim, Patricia
Mukonda, a secretary at MDC headquarters, was described in yesterday's paper
by Peta Thornycroft, our Harare correspondent [report, 26 March].

      The confrontation between ruler and the majority of the population
seems set to worsen. Morgan Tsvangirai, the opposition leader, has given Mr
Mugabe till Monday of next week to respond to 15 proposals for easing
repression. Mr Mugabe offers no sign of being willing to compromise.

      At the state funeral of one of his cabinet ministers, he described
himself as a latter-day Hitler, a characterisation that shows he has become
wholly oblivious to outside opinion. Mr Tsvangirai, who is on trial for
treason, has not specified what further mass action will follow the
president's failure to meet the deadline. But the opposition, starving and
battered, appears to be edging towards violent insurrection, however
pathetic that might be against the might of the security forces. Amnesty
International has described the arrests since the strike as "a new and dange
rous phase of repression".

      The main reason for Mr Mugabe's indifference to the rest of the world
stems from the extraordinary indulgence of fellow African leaders. Thabo
Mbeki, the South African president, claims that things are getting better
and was angry at the Commonwealth's decision last week to extend Zimbabwe's
suspension from its councils.

      After allowing France to invite Mr Mugabe to attend a Franco-African
summit in Paris, the European Union has renewed sanctions against the
president and his henchmen. The United States has taken similar steps. But
with the cushion of African condonation, if not outright approval, the
president can ignore Western opinion.

      Savage repression and economic collapse in Zimbabwe have sullied the
image of Africa, a continent for which Mr Mbeki has promised a renaissance.
Yet ties between men who have struggled for liberation, whether from
apartheid or colonial rule, evidently count for more than the actual needs
of their peoples. The tragedy of Zimbabwe has wide repercussions.
Back to the Top
Back to Index

Whither Zim, After Successful Stayaway?

Zimbabwe Standard (Harare)

March 25, 2003
Posted to the web March 26, 2003

News Focus By Itai Dzamara

TUESDAY's mass action has brought wide ranging debate on whether staying
away from work yielded the required results or the people need to use other
means such as street demonstrations to force the Mugabe regime to honour
their demands.

For many, it might have been time to reflect on the historic days of 1998
when the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) organised food riots and
mass stayaways that stunned President Robert Mugabe's government and left it
hanging onto power by a whisker.

Morgan Tsvangirai, then secretary general of the ZCTU and now president of
the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), called for Tuesday and
Wednesday's mass action to demonstrate against the deterioration of both
economic and political situations in Zimbabwe.

However, as Zimbabwe remains at the cross roads, with the nation searching
for a solution to its many problems, debate is raging regarding the
effectiveness of the so-called mass action which in their case, comprised

Some observers pointed out that stayaways are generally a failure and only
serve to cripple the economy further. They argue that a more effective and
practical method of action has to be found if things are to change in this

"Although we are participating, we are fed up with mass stayaways which fail
to bring results. We are behind the MDC leadership, but we now need a more
practical approach send Mugabe packing," said Givemore Chimombe of Glen

In a survey conducted in the suburbs of Harare and Bulawayo, it emerged that
many Zimbabweans are hoping the MDC will lead the nation in to move a which
will topple the Mugabe regime once and for all.

However, Nelson Chamisa, the MDC national youth chairman-while acknowledging
and appreciating the ardent desire of the people to dislodge the Zanu PF
government-believes that his party needs to adopt a responsible attitude and
avoid leading people into dangerous decisions that would be forever

Said Chamisa: "The party must not just jump into dangerous strategies which
will later be regretted. A violent and unplanned confrontation is what
Mugabe is waiting for in order to crush us. So we should not fall into his
trap." Added Chamisa: "The struggle is not an event. It is a process and we
are moving towards State House to reclaim our liberties. Last week's mass
action was a success. We have clearly seen that the people have confidence
in the party. We now have to move to the next stage which will still be
legitimate and peaceful." Farai Zizhou, the acting chief executive officer
of the Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries (CZI), said the impact of the
stayaway had been felt by industry although they had not quantified the loss
incurred by the economy last week.

The mood within the ruling Zanu PF party following the mass action was very
tense. The party's spokesperson, Nathan Shamuyarira, would only castigate
the MDC and the 'opposition press' which he blamed for the mass action.

The conduct of the masses during last week's mass action left no doubt that
the majority supported the MDC call as most workers did not report for duty
especially in Harare and Bulawayo, while a negligible minority ignored the
call. In the industrial areas of the two cities almost all companies shut
down, forcing the few workers who had turned up to return home.

When The Standard moved around the two cities during the stayaway, it
observed that most shopping centres were closed. Glen View 2 shopping centre
in Harare was virtually deserted, so was Budiriro 5 shopping centre, and
Bulawayo's Nkulumane shopping centre.

Heavily armed police patrolled the streets in all the suburbs and in some
cases, sang Zanu PF songs in their trucks.

Compared to previous mass actions, people demonstrated a higher degree of
maturity as they took heed of the MDC's call for peace and discipline during
the two days.

There were, however, someisolated incidents of vandalism and looting of
shops in suburbs such as Epworth, Mabvuku, Chitungwiza and Mbare.

Some criminal elements burnt down buses meant for public transport and
stoned people's cars in a move that clearly was meant to tarnish the MDC

As the MDC and its supporters revisit the drawing board with their tails
high over what they must consider a successful action, the question remains:
is the call for stayaways the best and most effective way of removing Mugabe
from State House?
Back to the Top
Back to Index

The Scotsman

Tories Call for Tougher Sanctions Against Zimbabwe

By Tim Ross, PA News

The Tories tonight called for tougher sanctions against Zimbabwe, accusing
president Robert Mugabe of using the war in Iraq as a "smokescreen" for more
human rights abuses.

Shadow foreign secretary Michael Ancram demanded ministers press the
Commonwealth and the European Union to step up the pressure on Zimbabwe with
tighter sanctions.

Mr Ancram said the Iraq war must not be allowed to distract international
attention away from President Mugabe's "campaign of violence".

"Robert Mugabe's cynical use of the war as a smokescreen to execute the most
grotesque human rights violations is despicable.

"Ethnic cleansing, genocide, horrific attacks on opponents and a campaign of
violence are all happening whilst the eyes of the world are engaged

He called on the Government to "state the case clearly for an immediate
strengthening of sanctions against Mugabe's evil regime by the Commonwealth
and the EU".

Mr Ancram continued: "Mugabe's ruthless use of violence and intimidation
cannot go unreported. Britain must not turn a blind eye to the people of
Zimbabwe in their hour of need."

Earlier this year the Commonwealth decided to extend the period of Zimbabwe'
s suspension from the institution until December.
Back to the Top
Back to Index

Zimbabwe Aids Statistics in Shambles

Zimbabwe Standard (Harare)

March 25, 2003
Posted to the web March 26, 2003


STATISTICS on the prevalence of HIV/Aids in the country are in shambles as
both the government and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) appear unsure
about how many people are dying from the disease, The Standard has

Health experts who took part in a four-day workshop organised by the Futures
Group International and the Zimbabwe Union of Journalists in Nyanga last
week, told journalists that the precise figures of people dying from
Aids-related ailments in the country are not known, "but vary from about 2
000 to more than 3 500 deaths" per week.

The workshop, du-bbed: 'Promoting Responsible Reporting on HIV/Aids', sought
to equip journalists with skills for reporting on the disease.

It attracted four editors from both the state-controlled and private media.

Addressing journalists on Wednesday Standard Editor, Bornwell Chakaodza,
underlined the important role the press plays in educating the public about

"Everyone now knows that the condom is the front-line weapon in the fight
against Aids. Though a lot of progress has been made in condom use as a
result of education campaigns by both government and NGOs, the context of
cultural values still remains a major barrier.

"Needless to say, the media has a crucial role to play in this regard. They
(the media) should be more pro-active rather than reactive; journalists not
only need to understand and appreciate the control of HIV/Aids, but to also
measure the broader socio-economic and cultural dimensions that might hinder
or facilitate the response to HIV/Aids," he said.
Back to the Top
Back to Index


      Harare council chief engineer suspended

      By Luke Tamborinyoka News Editor
      3/27/03 11:10:36 AM (GMT +2)

      AN internal Harare City Council probe has revealed that the city could
have been fleeced of millions of dollars by officials who altered and
inflated figures on contracts in return for kickbacks from contractors and
other service providers, the Financial Gazette learnt this week.

      The audit resulted in the suspension last week of the city's chief
engineer for water and chemical laboratories, Bernard Chatukuta.
      According to the audit report, a copy of which is in the possession of
this newspaper, council officials allegedly also demanded and received
favours from companies wanting services such as water or sewer system
      Food giant Lever Brothers allegedly donated a scholarship to Chatukuta
's son after the senior official had allegedly fast-tracked the provision of
water, sewer and other connections to the company's residential stands at
Lysaught in Harare, according to the city's internal auditors.
      There was no comment from Lever Brothers on the allegation.
      Chatukuta, who was suspended last week because of the allegations,
joins city stores controller Never Murerwa, chief accountant Tendai Kwenda
and fund manager Munyaradzi Chinho, all suspended earlier this month after
they were implicated in a scam in which chemical supplier Highdon
Investments was overpaid for activated carbon supplied to Harare.
      Highdon was allegedly paid $280 a kilogramme instead of the contract
price of $90 a kg for the carbon, prejudicing the city council of $118
      Chatukuta yesterday confirmed that he was on suspension but refused to
comment on the allegations against him, only saying: "Tell me who gave you
those documents first."
      Harare executive mayor Elias Mudzuri - accused by the government of
targeting only pro-ruling ZANU PF councilors for suspension- told the
Financial Gazette that the council had embarked on a clean-up exercise.
      He said more senior officials could be suspended to pave way for a
thorough probe into corruption at Harare's Town House.
      Mudzuri said: "These suspensions will continue until we stamp out
corruption. No one should interfere with our suspensions and investigations
because they are not meant to victimise anybody."
      In yet another example of rampant corruption at Town House, Chatukuta
is tape-recorded attempting to induce a worker in the audit section to join
a syndicate of named senior officials to inflate contracts through
fictitious variation orders and cost escalations.
      According to a transcript of the tape, Chatukuta tells the worker that
she could "get rich" if she joined a ring of senior officials in various
municipal departments and allowed inflated escalation claims to go through
the city's payment system.
      Chatukuta, who names some of his cohorts in the tape, allegedly paid
the audit worker $15 000 to entice her to help inflate a $120 million
contract to upgrade Harare's Adyllin Reservoir to $150 million.
      He also tells the auditor that he, as the project resident engineer,
would facilitate the change of figures.
      The deal was only scuttled after the auditor blew the whistle on
Chatukuta and submitted a tape of the conversation in which the engineer had
attempted to enlist her support.
      The city's audit manager wrote in a report to council: "It has been
established through tape recorded conversation that the chief engineer had
devised a well-orchestrated scheme to defraud council of some money for the
Adyllin Reservoir project and miscellaneous revenue funded projects budgeted
at $120 million and $150 million in the 2003 capital estimates respectively.
      "Mr Chatukuta's duties as an engineer are to safeguard council
interests on matters pertaining to contractors because council pays him for
that. Instead, he is attempting to join contractors in siphoning money from
council and attempt to lure key persons (auditors) in the internal control
system to join him in looting council."
      As part of the crackdown on corruption, the city council's audit
division is now investigating all projects handled by Chatukuta.
Back to the Top
Back to Index


      Police in bid to flush out suspected MDC officers

      3/27/03 11:19:36 AM (GMT +2)

      MEMBERS of the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) this week said the ZRP's
intelligence unit, the Police Internal Security Intelligence (PISI), was
believed to have initiated an exercise to flush out security agents
suspected of leaking information to the opposition Movement for Democratic
Change (MDC) during last week's stayaway.

      The ZRP sources said the investigation was prompted by suspicions that
the MDC had infiltrated the police force and that several middle and
senior-ranking officers had given information to the opposition party about
the strategies the ZRP had for dealing with the mass action.
      "What raised alarm bells were suspicions that someone leaked vital
security information to the MDC," said a police officer who spoke on
condition of anonymity.
      "The MDC seemed aware of the police security plans well before the
mass action. It has come to light that they knew about this information as
well as the areas where we were incapacitated and this helped them plan
      He added: "What has caused people (within the ZRP) to panic most is
that the MDC is planning another mass action, which we hear would involve a
march to State House. With the way the force has been infiltrated, the
police won't be able to strategise effectively."
      Police spokesman Andrew Phiri said he was not aware of any
investigation by the PISI.
      "To be quite frank, I am completely in the dark over the issue you are
talking about. I am not aware such a thing is taking place."
      But members of the ZRP said the PISI investigation was supposed to
identify MDC sympathisers and either remove them from the force or transfer
them to remote stations.
      They said many officers were afraid that the exercise could be used to
settle personal scores.
      "People are just back-biting each other and the whole thing has been
turned into a rumour mongering exercise where the latest "MDC sympathisers"
are named and targeted for reprisals," a police officer said.
      "This is not an entirely new exercise. They did it in 2000 when they
victimised anyone they suspected of sympathising with the MDC. It's only
that this time it might be done on a higher scale," he added.
      Several senior police officers were forcibly transferred to remote
stations while others were forced to resign in 2000 as the police swooped on
officers perceived to be anti-the ruling ZANU PF.
      Other high-ranking officers opted to resign after being deployed to
the Commissioner's Pool, an obscure desk created at the Police General
Police Headquarters.
      Most officers transferred to the pool complained that they were being
victimised for failing to support the ruling party during the 2000
parliamentary elections and by-elections that followed a year later. - Staff Reporter
Back to the Top
Back to Index


      ZANU PF firms reel under unpaid $275m govt debt

      By Godfrey Marawanyika Senior Reporter
      3/27/03 11:11:41 AM (GMT +2)

      THE ruling ZANU PF has failed to pay $275 million owed to several
local companies, including one of the country's largest advertising
agencies, which handled the party's ambitious media campaign in the run-up
to last year's presidential election, the Financial Gazette has established.

      Most affected is Lintas advertising agency, a key player in the
massive radio, television and newspaper advertising campaign launched by the
ruling party ahead of the March 2002 presidential poll.
      Company insiders said the firm was owed $209 million and had been
unable to recover the money despite several attempts to secure payment.
      Other companies that are also owed money for the 2003 presidential
election campaign include Textile Printers, which is owned by ZANU PF Chief
Whip and Mberengwa West Member of Parliament Joram Gumbo.
      It was not possible to establish this week how much the company was
      Another firm, Corporate Marketing Services, whose directors are former
Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation disk jockeys Kudzi Marudza and Joe
Hussein, is still owed $32 million.
      Millenium Advertising is owed $34 million.
      Officials of affected companies said they had supplied ZANU PF with
t-shirts inscribed with the Hondo Yeminda slogan that touts the government's
controversial land reform programme.
      They said they had also provided caps, handbags, badges, banners,
flags and hats. Other firms were involved in the massive advertising
campaign that ran in the national Press before and after the election.
      It was not possible to secure comment from ZANU PF spokesman Nathan
Shamuyarira or the Information and Publicity Ministry. The ministry handled
the media campaign.
      A spokesman for Lintas yesterday would neither deny nor confirm that
it had yet to receive payment for services rendered during the election
campaign, citing client confidentiality.
      He said: "I have no comment on that. Even if they owe us money, I can
not discuss business clients with the Press. That is confidential."
      Gumbo however confirmed that he owned Textile Printers and that the
company was owed money by the ruling party, but would not disclose the size
of the debt.
      "It is my company," he told the Financial Gazette. "I do not know how
much it is owed, besides that is a private and confidential matter."
      Marudza refused to comment on the issue, citing confidentiality.
      "I can not comment on the issue, it's purely private," he said.
      A senior official with Millennium Advertising, who spoke on condition
of anonymity, said the company had not received payment for its services
since last year.
      He said affected firms had considered taking legal action to recover
their money, but no progress had been made.
      The official said: "We have not been paid a cent since last year. We
have tried all that we can do, but it seems there is not any progress.
      "There has been a rumuor that we might seek legal action, but there
has not been any development since February."
      Sources said legal action was not favoured by all affected companies,
some of which had insisted that the firms should maintain dialogue with ZANU
PF in an attempt to recover their money.
      They said several letters had been written to the government's
Information and Publicity Ministry, but no response had been received.
      Representatives of affected companies said the non-payment of the
ruling party's debt had affected their operations at a time most local firms
have been hard hit by serious cash flow constraints because of the country's
economic crisis.
      "They (ZANU PF) have literally put us in a tight position," one
official said. "We are literally grounded but there is nothing we can do
until the money comes."
      According to media reports at the end of last year, ZANU PF has failed
to service a debt of $410 million owed to other suppliers of campaign
Back to the Top
Back to Index


      Mozambique gives Zim reprieve on power cuts

      Staff Reporter
      3/27/03 11:12:30 AM (GMT +2)

      MOZAMBIQUE'S Hydro Cahora Bassa (HCB), which had threatened to suspend
electricity supplies to Zimbabwe last week over debt arrears, is believed to
have allowed the country's power utility a grace period of one month to
settle its arrears, it was learnt this week.

      Senior officials at the Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority (ZESA)
said the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) had intervened last Friday and
offered to help ZESA to clear the debt owed to HCB.
      They said the central bank had also assured the Mozambicans that the
money would be paid within a month.
      The officials told the Financial Gazette that ZESA management had held
a series of meetings last Friday with Energy and Power Development Ministry
officials and the RBZ, resulting in the central bank agreeing to provide
      The officials said ZESA executive chairman Sydney Gata also met with
ministry officials this Tuesday as a follow-up to Friday's meeting.
      ZESA officials said there was a general agreement between the two
power companies and the RBZ that the arrears could be repaid without HCB
resorting to power cuts as a way of forcing ZESA to pay up.
      HCB had given ZESA up to Saturday last week to clear its US$6 million
arrears or face power cuts that could have affected ZESA's ability to meet
domestic demand for electricity.
      "We have been given another month by HCB to pay the arrears and ZESA
is now waiting for funds from the RBZ to pay our Mozambican suppliers," a
senior official at the ZESA head office told the Financial Gazette.
      "There was an agreement from all the parties that despite the long
time it has taken to pay off the arrears, it was not in Cahora Bassa's
interest to cut us off. Our hope is that we keep to our promise and make
good use of this deadline extension."
      ZESA management services officer Daniel Maviva yesterday said he could
not comment on the issue and referred questions to Gata, who was said to be
busy in meetings and would only be available next week.
      Zimbabwe, which imports about 34.6 percent of its electricity needs
from regional suppliers, receives most of its power imports from HCB, which
supplies the country with 3 198.89 gigawatts of electricity an hour.
      The Mozambican power supplier accounts for more than 26 percent of
imported electricity, with the rest coming from ESKOM of South Africa, SNEL
of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and ZESCO of Zambia.
      ZESA benefits from the 50 percent of exporters' proceeds that is
remitted to the central bank, but hard cash inflows have been low since the
introduction of tough new exchange control measures last November.
      Industry officials have urged the government to support ZESA in
concluding a bilateral agreement it is negotiating with SNEL, which would
give the Zimbabwean power company the right of first access to DRC
      Electricity from the DRC is the cheapest in southern Africa, while HCB 's
supplies are the most expensive.
Back to the Top
Back to Index


      Stayaway success points to MDC by-election victory: analysts

      By Farai Mutsaka Senior Reporter
      3/27/03 11:17:00 AM (GMT +2)

      THE stakes could not be higher for Zimbabwe's main political parties
in this weekend's Highfield and Kuwadzana by-elections, which analysts say
could bring the ruling ZANU PF closer to the crucial two thirds majority it
needs in Parliament to unilaterally amend the constitution.

      Seven candidates are vying for the Highfield seat and three will
square off for the Kuwadzana constituency, but the main contest is expected
to be between the ruling ZANU PF and the opposition Movement for Democratic
Change (MDC).
      The opposition party won the two urban seats in the 2000 general polls
but they became vacant after the expulsion last year of Highfield legislator
Munyaradzi Gwisai and the death of Kuwadzana Member of Parliament Learnmore
      Political commentators said the MDC would this weekend be anxious to
protect its turf in the urban areas, while ZANU PF wanted to use the
by-elections to shed its image as a party most of whose support was in the
conservative rural areas.
      Zimbabwe's urban areas, hard hit by a crippling economic crisis
largely blamed on government policies, overwhelmingly voted for the MDC in
the 2000 parliamentary elections and last year's presidential poll.
      "Normally a by-election doesn't attract a voter turnout comparable to
a national parliamentary election, but the stakes are high for both parties
in this election, moreso for the MDC, which has to defend its numbers in
Parliament," said political analyst Masipula Sithole.
      "ZANU PF wants to increase its majority as well as boost its
propaganda machinery by saying it has recovered ground in urban areas, but
the MDC is also conscious of protecting its turf in urban areas," he added.
      Analysts said victory for ZANU PF in this weekend's polls would bring
the ruling party a step closer to the two-thirds majority in Parliament that
could effectively render the MDC powerless to prevent crucial changes to
Zimbabwe's constitution.
      The opposition party holds 50 of the 120 contested seats in parliament
while ZANU PF has 64 and ZANU Ndonga one.
      Four other parliamentary seats that were won by the MDC in 2000, that
is Zengeza, Kuwadzana, Harare Central and Highfield are vacant. The death
last week of Higher Education and Technology Minister Swithun Mombeshora has
also left a seat in Makonde, a ZANU PF stronghold, vacant.
      President Robert Mugabe has the power to appoint 30 non-elected MPs,
therefore ZANU PF's majority presently stands at 94, six shy of the required
100 that would give the ruling party a two-thirds majority.
      Commentators said if ZANU PF was able to clinch Highfield, Kuwadzana,
Zengeza, Harare Central and any other MDC constituency that came up for
grabs in the future, it could make the opposition party virtually irrelevant
in Parliament.
      At present, the MDC has the power to veto any proposed changes to the
country's constitution, which has been amended in the past to give ZANU PF
sweeping powers.
      Political scientist Takura Zhangazha told the Financial Gazette: "If
the MDC loses any of these seats, then it is in serious trouble because ZANU
PF would be closer to getting two-thirds majority.
      "Once ZANU PF gets the two-thirds majority, it can amend the
constitution at will and we all know what that means."
      Reginald Matchaba-Hove, the head of the Zimbabwe Election Support
Network, added: "The situation we had in 1987, when, in the absence of real
opposition, ZANU PF created the post of an executive president who has
almost absolute power, should not be allowed to be repeated."
      But commentators said the overwhelming support the MDC had received
last week when it called for a nationwide job stayaway could be reflected in
the results of the Highfield and Kuwadzana by-elections, despite allegations
that ZANU PF supporters were using violence to intimidate potential voters.
      Most companies, factories and shops did not open for business last
Tuesday and Wednesday, with many workers staying at home after the MDC
called for mass action in its first serious challenge to the government
after its leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, lost last year's presidential election
to Mugabe.
      Analysts said the success of the mass action was a reflection of the
opposition party's continuing hold over the urban areas, which could be
reflected in this weekend's polls.
      "In all probability, these elections should go to the MDC. Going by
the results of the massive response to the stayaway call, we would expect
the MDC to win a free and fair election anywhere in Harare," Sithole said.
      Tsvangirai, who is on trial for allegedly plotting to assassinate
Mugabe, was this week confident about his party's chances in Highfield and
      He told journalists in Harare that the ruling party, which the MDC
accuses of rigging the 2000 general poll and last year's presidential
election, would not be able to successfully manipulate this weekend's polls.
      The ruling party has denied allegations of election rigging.
      Tsvangirai said: "It would be foolhardy for ZANU PF to rig these
elections, especially after the stayaway. They can cheat, but they will not
get away with it this time.
      "The results of the Kuwadzana and Highfield by-elections are a
foregone conclusion.
      "Any other result would be an open violation of the wishes of the
people and this could be counter-productive. People would react if their
wishes are overridden."
      Zhangazha added: "If the MDC loses this election, then it might need a
rethink on future participation in elections because there would be no
reason to have confidence in that process.
      "The party would have to go back to people-based mobilisation and draw
up a programme that would bring about change through community mobilisation.
People would have to voluntarily take up action that would force change."
      But Tsvangirai this week urged "principled dialogue" to avert a
violent transition in Zimbabwe.
      He told journalists: "We are going to continue to say the only way to
avoid chaos and anarchy in this country is principled dialogue between the
ruling party and the broad democratic forces."
Back to the Top
Back to Index


      National Parks, governor headed for clash

      Staff Reporter
      3/27/03 11:18:42 AM (GMT +2)

      A TEAM of wildlife and agricultural experts has been dispatched to
Hurungwe Safari Area to assess whether the Mashonaland West wildlife
sanctuary will be affected by a government irrigation project that is
supposed to grow winter crops to alleviate food shortages, it was learnt
this week.

      Environmentalists said the team comprised officials from the National
Parks and Wildlife Authority, the Agricultural Rural Development Authority
(ARDA) and the Agricultural Rural Extension Services (AREX).
      The environmental experts, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told
the Financial Gazette that the team had established that the sanctuary,
located in the lower Zambezi valley, was a National Parks managed area.
      They said the team would compile a report that would outline the
potential impact on the safari area of the Nuanetsi irrigation project,
under which the government has contracted a Chinese company to develop 100
000 hectares of land.
      Environmentalists say the Hurungwe Safari Area could be ploughed
through under the irrigation project, which would affect the wildlife within
the sanctuary.
      The safari area is a sanctuary for cheetahs, leopards, elephants and
black rhino, among other wildlife.
      Sources said a report by the ARDA-National Parks-AREX team could be
submitted to the Environmental Ministry in the next few days.
      "A team comprising ARDA, National Parks officers and AREX was sent to
the area and their conclusion is that this ploughing should not happen," one
source said.
      "After the investigations, it has now been established that this
programme is going to affect the Hurungwe Safari Area and a report will be
submitted to the minister of environment sometime this week."
      Environment and Tourism Minister Francis Nhema this week confirmed
that a team of investigators had been sent to the Hurungwe Safari Area, but
said no firm decision had been taken on the matter.
      "A team of investigators was sent to the area to see if indeed part of
the National Parks was affected by the food initiative," he told the
Financial Gazette.
      "They have prepared a report, but I have not seen it as yet. I will be
getting it any time and then we will make a firm decision."
      However, Mashonaland West Governor Peter Chanetsa said the findings of
the investigators would have no impact on the irrigation project.
      He said: "We will continue to plough, what do you want us to do? The
reason for this programme is irrigation, and it would save us a lot money on
the import bill because money that was supposed to be used to import maize
would be used for something else, like the importation of cooking oil."
      The government says the Nuanetsi irrigation project will alleviate
food insecurity in Zimbabwe, where close to eight million people are in need
of emergency food aid because of shortages resulting from drought and a
controversial land reform programme.
      Low agricultural output has forced the government to import food to
avert starvation, a programme that has been hampered by the country's severe
foreign currency shortages.
      Meanwhile, Chanetsa said sugar cane producers had operated for several
years close to the Hurungwe Safari Area without affecting the sanctuary.
      "Other companies who used to irrigate their sugar-cane, how were they
surviving?" he said.
      "There is a lot of water in that area from the Zambezi, so we will
continue with our plans," Chanetsa added.
Back to the Top
Back to Index


      Tsvangirai trial witness told to surrender equipment

      Staff Reporter
      3/27/03 11:23:27 AM (GMT +2)

      THE High Court yesterday issued an order compelling a state witness in
the treason trail of three opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC)
leaders to surrender equipment used to secretly videotape a meeting at which
the MDC officials allegedly plotted to assassinate President Robert Mugabe.

      Justice Paddington Garwe ordered Bernard Schober to hand the equipment
over to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) for testing.
      MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai, secretary-general Welshman Ncube and
shadow minister for agriculture Renson Gasela are alleged to have met in
Canada with representatives of Dickens and Madson, a Canadian political
consultancy they allegedly attempted to hire to assassinate Mugabe.
      Schober was hired by the consultancy to videotape the meeting.
      Justice Garwe said Schober had to surrender his equipment to the
Canadian police so that experts could determine the authenticity of the
video tape produced at the meeting, which is the state's evidence in chief.
      The judge said the video equipment had to be submitted to the RCMP for
safe keeping until an independent team of experts could test the quality of
its pictures and determine whether they were similar to those in the video
      The independent panel will comprise experts chosen by the state and
the defence and will make video recordings at Dickens and Madson's Montreal
offices to enable the court to compare the quality of the tapes produced and
the state's evidence in chief.
      The recordings, which will be done under the supervision of the RCMP,
will be undertaken first with the ventilation system on and then switched
off, after which the two resulting tapes will be forwarded to the High Court
in Harare
      Defence lawyers earlier this week insisted that the equipment be
shipped to Zimbabwe but yesterday agreed that it could be tested in Canada.
They however warned that they could still demand that the equipment be
brought to Harare if they were not satisfied with the tests.
      The court yesterday afternoon excused Schober, a Canadian private
investigator and security consultant, from the witness stand but said that
he could be recalled for further cross-examination after his video recording
equipment had been tested.
      The trial continues today with the cross-examination of police chief
superintendent Moses Magandi, who last year travelled to Canada with the
deputy director general of the Central Intelligence Organisation, Happyton
Bonyongwe, to undertake the initial investigations into the treason charges.
Back to the Top
Back to Index


      Huge hike in maize producer price

      Staff Reporter
      3/27/03 11:24:27 AM (GMT +2)

      THE government has hiked the maize producer price by 364 percent and
announced a new pre-planting price for wheat that farmers' organisations
yesterday said would ensure growers' viability and encourage deliveries of
the crop to the Grain Marketing Board (GMB).

      However, the government did not increase the selling price of the
crops, which analysts said would result in the fiscus directly subsidising
consumers at a time Treasury was battling to raise money to finance other
      Lands, Agriculture and Rural Resettlement Minister Joseph Made said
for the 2003 marketing season, which begins on April 1, farmers would sell
their maize, sorghum and millet to the GMB at $130 000 a tonne, up from the
$28 000 that was given to the growers last year.
      Made said the new price would ensure that farmers realised a return of
60 percent.
      The minister said the government had also increased by 114 percent to
$150 000 a tonne the pre-planting price for wheat in a bid to boost output
of the crop, which has fallen in the past two years because of drought and a
controversial land reform programme.
      The price will be reviewed in September before farmers harvest their
      Made said the government would also introduce a $7.5 billion winter
crops inputs loan scheme to help more farmers grow wheat.
      The money would be used for the procurement of wheat seed, fertilisers
and crop chemicals, as well as for the payment of electricity and water
tariffs, tillage services and harvesting.
      Officials within organisations representing the country's farmers said
the new wheat measures would encourage growers to produce more of the crop.
      According to Made, a crop forecasting committee is in the process of
assessing the national wheat crop for this year, but the government expects
farmers to deliver between 200 000 and 300 000 tonnes of maize to the GMB.
      He said growers were expected to retain most of their output for
      Zimbabwe Farmers' Union president Silas Hungwe said the prices
announced by the government would encourage farmers to deliver their crop to
the GMB.
      But he said the GMB had to increase collection depots in farming areas
so that farmers were not forced to sell their crops to private buyers. The
GMB is the sole buyer and seller of maize and wheat in the country, but many
farmers sell their crop to private buyers who offer more money.
      George Hutchison, a senior official of the Commercial Farmers' Union
said: "The price for maize is very encouraging, farmers will be delivering
to the GMB."
      Agriculture Bank of Zimbabwe chief executive Taka Mutunhu said the new
prices would give farmers more disposable income, enabling them to repay
loans borrowed from banks.
      But analysts said the government's failure to raise the selling price
of maize and wheat from $9 600 and $29 500 a tonne respectively would
adversely affect the operations of the cash-strapped GMB.
      Made said the selling prices of the grains would remain static in a
bid to protect consumers by curbing increases in the cost of flour, mealie
meal and bread.
      "What this has highlighted once more is that the government is willing
to let the GMB play its role as a service provider but there is a big price
to it," an economist with a Harare merchant bank said.
      "The difference between the buying price and the selling price is too
much to make economic sense and is indicative of the structural rigidities
that we find within parastatals," he told the Financial Gazette.
      Consultant economist John Robertson added: "This amounts to a direct
subsidy when we all know that the government does not have the resources for
those kinds of subsidies.
      "By solving one problem of ensuring the viability of farmers, the
government has created another one. I am not sure of where they will get the
Back to the Top
Back to Index


      Ailing Vice President Muzenda back in China

      Staff Reporter
      3/27/03 11:24:53 AM (GMT +2)

      VICE President Simon Muzenda slipped out of the country last week to
seek medical treatment in China for an undisclosed ailment for the second
time in less than a year, senior government officials said this week.

      The officials told the Financial Gazette that the 80-year old Muzenda,
who is Mugabe's longest serving deputy, last week returned to China, which
he last visited last July also reportedly to receive medical treatment.
      Muzenda was conspicuous by his absence last Friday at the burial of
former Tertiary and Higher Education Minister Swithun Mombeshora.
      Ruling ZANU PF sources said he was also absent at the ruling party's
Politburo meeting held in Harare yesterday.
      An official in Muzenda's office yesterday confirmed that he was out of
the country but would not disclose his destination, nature or purpose of his
      "Vice President Muzenda is out of the country that is all I can say,"
said the official, who refused to be named.
      It was not possible to establish this week when Muzenda would be
returning to Zimbabwe. Sources said Muzenda had indicated to Mugabe that he
wanted to retire because of ill health and had timed his departure to
coincide with Zimbabwe's 23rd independence anniversary next month.
      But they said Mugabe had prevailed upon arguably his most loyal
follower to postpone his retirement from active politics.
      "Vice President Muzenda wanted to retire by April this year but he was
talked out of the plan by Mugabe. He was told to wait until a smooth plan is
put in place," said a senior ZANU PF politician, who spoke on condition he
was not named.
      He added: "Most people in the party and politburo know Muzenda wants
to leave office, he has been talking about it for the past year."
Back to the Top
Back to Index


      Electoral fraud could spark violent backlash: Tsvangirai

      Staff Reporter
      3/27/03 11:26:03 AM (GMT +2)

      INDICATIONS of electoral manipulation or fraud during this weekend's
Highfield and Kuwadzana by-elections could precipitate a violent backlash
from opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) supporters, MDC
president Morgan Tsvangirai warned this week.

      Addressing journalists in Harare, Tsvangirai urged his supporters to
remain calm, but warned that his party's followers might not be willing to
wait for the MDC leadership to decide on a course of action if they believed
the polls were rigged.
      He said: "Let (Registrar General Tobaiwa) Mudede and ZANU PF be warned
that subverting the will of the people could be counter-productive. People
will react swiftly if their wishes are overridden.
      "They should understand that the MDC is getting stronger by the day.
Our supporters are determined to carry out this struggle to its logical
conclusion (and) ZANU PF should not tempt our supporters by rigging the
      The MDC has accused the ruling ZANU PF of rigging the 2000
parliamentary elections, last year's presidential poll and several other
elections since 1999.
      Mudede and ZANU PF officials have denied the allegations.
      The MDC has however challenged the results of the 2000 and 2003 polls
in the courts and last week gave President Robert Mugabe an ultimatum to
take steps that would result in a "legitimate" government in Zimbabwe or
face mass action.
      The ultimatum, which gave the government until the end of the month to
respond to the opposition party's demands, came at the end of a two-day job
stayaway called by the MDC. The mass action brought most of industry to a
halt last Tuesday and Wednesday.
      Meanwhile, Tsvangirai accused the government of taking retaliatory
action against MDC supporters and members of the public for last week's job
      He said the police had detained more than 500 MDC supporters and
officials since the end of the mass action last Wednesday.
      "Repression has never restrained people from acting," the MDC leader
told journalists. "If at all, it has put people in a more determined
position to confront this regime. No amount of beatings or thuggery is going
to discourage people from engaging in an agenda that will see this regime
      "It is only six days to go and we not retreating from these demands
(issued last week). Neither are we retreating from the ultimatum. We urge
our supporters to remain calm because the deadline is fast approaching. The
party will define the content and form of the next action."
      Meanwhile, the country's labour watchdog, the Zimbabwe Congress of
Trader Unions (ZCTU) this week also slammed the security forces for violence
against members of the public.
      Members of the army and police are reported to have assaulted several
people in the past week in what commentators say is retaliation for last
week's stayaway.
      ZCTU secretary general Wellington Chibhebhe said his organisation had
appealed to Defence Forces Commander Vitalis Zvinavashe and Police
Commissioner Augustine Chihuri to rein in their subordinates.
      Chibhebhe said: "ZCTU expresses its concern on the conduct of the
uniformed forces of indiscriminately harassing and beating up innocent
citizens of Zimbabwe. In a retribution exercise aimed at people who are
alleged to have taken part or organised the recent job stayaway, the police
are indiscriminately arresting, harassing and torturing law abiding citizens
in an effort to appease the government and the ruling ZANU PF party.
      "It is only a matter of time before the people of this country take
the law into their own hands and the leaders of the security forces will
have to take the blame if the security situation deteriorates."
      The police and the army have denied that they are involved in a
retaliatory exercise.
Back to the Top
Back to Index


      Wildlife industry loses 70% of its animals

      Staff Reporter
      3/27/03 11:26:53 AM (GMT +2)

      ZIMBABWE'S wildlife industry has lost at least 70 percent of its
animals to poaching in the past two years and its remaining wildlife could
be wiped out unless comprehensive measures are adopted to resolve the
crisis, a local environmental group said this week.

      Officials with Wildlife and Environment Zimbabwe (WEZ), formerly the
Wildlife Association of Zimbabwe, said statistics collected by one of the
country's largest conservancies, Bubiana, indicated that local game ranches
were battling a serious crisis.
      They said the figures showed that at least 70 percent of wildlife had
been lost to poaching since the end of 2001.
      Bubiana conservancy, an intensive breeding area for the endangered
black rhino, alone lost 362 animals in the past 21 months because of
poaching, which has intensified since the start of the invasion of
white-owned farms by war veterans in 2000.
      The land invasions resulted in some villagers moving onto wildlife
sanctuaries, worsening poaching, which has been a problem for game ranches
for several years.
      Guy Hilton Barber, a member of WEZ, said the loss of animals through
poaching translated into "millions of dollars".
      WEZ officials said to curb poaching, the Communal Areas Management
Programme for Indigenous Resources initiative, game ranchers and
conservancies should form anti-poaching units to curb the loss of animals.
      "To be effective, the units would need to become honorary officers of
the National Parks Authority (NPA)," said WEZ public relations officer
Shirley Silversides.
      "They can then be covered by the legal instruments which give security
officers power to confront poachers. Once such units are formed, it is
suggested they should apply to the NPA for honorary membership," she added.
      WEZ officials said failure to adequately deal with the problem could
result in the remaining 30 percent of the country's wildlife being "wiped
      "Help is required to protect wildlife not only in parks but the whole
country," Silversides said.
      Although WEZ could this week not provide statistics of how much the
loss of wildlife had cost Zimbabwe, some environmental experts have
estimated that the country has lost more than $6 billion worth of animals in
the past two years.
      The country's wildlife industry is a major foreign currency earner
through the sale of animal products as well as hunting and photographic
      Environmentalists say it will take several years for the industry to
regain resources lost through poaching and as a result of the land
invasions, which led to the clearing of vegetation and tree felling by
villagers and war veterans as they built their homesteads.
      Tree felling and the clearing of vegetation has resulted in habitat
loss and is expected to cause soil erosion in some areas and other
environmental problems that will cost the country a large amount of money to
Back to the Top
Back to Index


      Avoid another energy crisis

      3/27/03 10:31:16 AM (GMT +2)

      REPORTS that Zimbabwe's neighbours have reached the end of their
patience and are threatening to cut off the country's power utility should
be a major cause for concern to a nation already in the throes of a
crippling fuel crisis.

      It emerged last week that Mozambique's Cahora Bassa and South Africa's
Eskom had given their Zimbabwean counterpart, the Zimbabwe Electricity
Supply Authority (ZESA), a serious ultimatum: pay up or face a power

      ZESA, which imports power from the region to augment its supplies and
meet domestic demand, is said to owe the two regional electricity companies
US$150 million.

      They were last week demanding the down payment of US$6.4 million by
the weekend, "accompanied by a convincing and credible future payment plan".

      At the time of writing this comment on Tuesday, it was not clear
whether ZESA had managed to secure enough foreign currency to meet Eskom and
Cahora Bassa's demands.

      But it is clear that at a time of searing economic hardships for
companies and ordinary Zimbabweans, a serious shortage of electricity is the
last thing that the country can afford and the responsible authorities must
act quickly and decisively to deal with this looming crisis.

      It is not enough to merely avert the suspension of supplies by meeting
the present demands for debt repayment, but the government and the
management of ZESA must come up with and implement measures that will
comprehensively tackle the crisis that is facing Zimbabwe's electricity

      It is no secret that the company faces major obstacles in its attempts
to come to grips with its problems: firstly the country is battling a
serious hard cash squeeze that is partly responsible for ZESA's failure to
meet its foreign commitments.

      The foreign currency allocated to the parastatal by the central bank
is inadequate to meet import demands and does not cover crucial capital
developments that are necessary if the company is to operate at full

      ZESA has proposed that local exporters pay for electricity in hard
cash, a short-term solution at best that could increase overhead costs for
already struggling export firms.

      In addition, the parastatal has been hard hit by the suspension of
financial assistance from international organisations such as the World Bank
and the International Monetary Fund because of concerns with the erosion of
the rule of law and property rights, as well as the government's fiscal

      This has left ZESA with no option but to use its own limited resources
for power station upgrades and network maintenance, affecting the utility's
capacity to generate enough electricity.

      Also, the company is unable to unilaterally raise its tariffs to meet
rising operating costs, ostensibly because the government is keen to protect
long-suffering consumers from further price increases and the rising cost of

      A far-reaching programme that will tackle these fundamental causes of
the ZESA crisis, as unpalatable as it might be to the ruling ZANU PF, is
clearly urgently needed to avert a power crisis that will make life that
much harder for the parastatal's industrial and household customers.

      It has been said before, but it bears repeating: ZESA must be allowed
to operate as a commercially viable entity with the power to make decisions
that are crucial for its own wellbeing and survival and that of its

      This, together with sustainable economic and political policies, is
necessary if the company is to attract the foreign investment and assistance
it needs to serve the nation's interests.

      The consequences of the failure to come to grips with the ZESA crisis
will be devastating to the country.

      ZESA has indicated that it might be forced to "resort to stringent
survival measures" if its problems persist, measures that could include
"drastic load-shedding".

      This could be the last straw for local firms and Zimbabweans already
feeling the impact of shortages of food, fuel, foreign currency, raw
materials and other basic commodities.

      If Zimbabwe is to avert further company closures and the serious
social consequences that will accompany them; there must be swift and bold
action, no matter how painful the consequences.
Back to the Top
Back to Index


      Schools of thought on successful stayaway

      3/27/03 11:06:20 AM (GMT +2)

      THREE schools of thought are forming in the national discourse
following last week's successful two-day mass stayaway called by the
Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) to protest President Robert Mugabe's

      l"Massive repression": the first school of thought suggests that the
successful stayaway will trigger or cause the regime to unleash even more
violent repression on the MDC, in particular, and on the population,
generally. There are suggestions this is already happening.
      On the MDC because the successful stayaway demonstrated that the
opposition party was not only alive, but people would heed its command. This
is contrary to what the state media and the minister of information and
publicity have been saying all along that the MDC is history. Such
self-deception was proven wrong. Quite to the contrary, the MDC is making
      On the population at large not only for heeding the call for a mass
stayaway, but, and more importantly, because the regime doesn't have any
answers to the problems facing the country. The only answer it has is the
"stick" because it no longer has carrots. "When there are no carrots, use
sticks" type of thinking in problem-solving.
      But for how long can authority based on coercion last? Ian Smith and
his Rhodesia Front had many sticks but they are now history. With all our
degrees, yet we miss the elementary. Force does not hold power forever.
Power should be based on moral authority.
      l"Perfect timing": the second school of thought suggests that the
successful stayaway re-established the initiative the MDC had lost since the
controversial presidential election last year.
      In this second school, there are those who argue, perhaps correctly,
that the MDC should have called this stayaway immediately after
Registrar-General Tobaiwa Mudede announced the disputed results. They argue
that if this had happened, Mugabe's fake re-election wouldn't have lasted a
week. They cite the rumour that he even had briefly left the country to
support their argument.
      Yet there are those in this second school who argue, perhaps also
correctly, that a successful stayaway at that time would have resulted in a
preemptive coup in the manner General Vitalis Zvinavashe had announced in
that unprecedented and uncharacteristic Press conference by the armed forces
commanders on the eve of the March 2002 presidential election poll - that
the generals would not recognise a Morgan Tsvangirai victory.
      Thus this second school argues that last week (a year after it should
have occurred) was "perfect timing". A year has now passed since the
swearing in of Mugabe as the new old president and he has nothing but a
miserable economic crisis and international isolation to show us.
      Frankly, Zimbabwe has never been this poor and isolated before,
notwithstanding the silly "yet-another-diplomatic-victory" rhetoric. Thabo
Mbeki na Olusegun Obasanjo vachatisiya manje-manje as did Gaddafi isu
tichingoti "yet another diplomatic victory"!
      More importantly, all this is taking place at a time the ruling party
itself is involved in succession factionalism with renewed demands for
intra-party democracy as nature is about to put to sleep the old Bolsheviks
of the party en masse.
      Moreover, Zvinava-she will be retired soon. His name has come up in
the succession whispers, not that he wants to be president himself, but that
he is backing one contender who is not exactly popular with the people both
within as well as outside the party.
      All this points to the fact that the timing of the stayaway was
perfect. Those who have argued that Tsvangirai is an amateur in strategy and
tactics should please shut up.
      They conveniently forget that before he came into politics in 1999,
Tsvangirai had 12 years of trade unionism leadership with unmatched success
in organising stayaways before. The truth is Morgan anogona kuronga. Ogokona
kutonga sei?
      Were Tsvangirai a reckless man he would have plunged this country into
civil war right after the March 2002 presidential election. Today (a year
after) it is apparent to all of us and to the whole world who is reckless.
      l"Ripe for mediation": the third school of thought suggests that for
the first time since the controversial presidential election, a conducive
environment now exists for a meaningful "national dialogue" between the
ruling party and the opposition party. The situation is now "ripe" for
mediation, to borrow a concept from Johns Hopkins' William Zartman.
      This school of thought argues in its optimism that the stayaway
demonstrated that there is now a condominium or dual presidency or authority
in this country - one wielding the power of coercion, while the other wields
moral and popular power. We suspected it all along, at least since the
referendum defeat at the beginning of 2000.
      This is time to talk. This is time for a "national dialogue".
      Writing on the "stayaway", the Sunday Mirror's "Scrutator" had the
following to say on the emerging "national dialogue" worth quoting at
length, though one detects an element of frustration:
      "As I have already intimated, the likely outcome now will not be a
movement towards the kind of a 'national dialogue' that some of us have been
encouraging and anticipating over the last few months. The stayaway has
taken us back almost two years, to the kind of violent confrontation that
characterised the relationship between the ruling and opposition parties in
the run-up to the presidential election.
      "This is a great pity, since, from all accounts, there are plans afoot
to resume the process towards a new constitution, in preparation for the
process that requires a serious commitment to 'national dialogue' across the
political spectrum. The temptation to pander to the international gallery
undermines such a commitment; and the MDC appears not to realise that the
world as a whole is less concerned about Zimbabwe right now than events in
      "In the final analysis, it will only be 'national dialogue' that will
serve us all in Zimbabwe - not senseless confrontation."
      The "Scrutator" is right in encouraging national dialogue. But he is
wrong to suggest that the MDC is pandering to the "international gallery".
For nearly a year now, the MDC president and secretary-general have been
quarantined within our borders on some framed-up treason charges.
      Meanwhile, Mugabe has been addressing international fora after fora,
impressing the international community with his remarkable oratory. Is this
not pandering to the international gallery?
      But this notwithstanding, the President has not recovered any lost
ground while those he quarantined can call a stayaway and the people
      I believe that we are now closer to a "national dialogue". The parties
have been scaling each other for three years in the running. It is clear
that the MDC is a factor in the power equation in Zimbabwe. It is part of
the solution, if not the solution Zimbabwe is seeking at this juncture.
      Mugabe himself knows so well that all attempts to quarantine him
(1964-1974) and to sideline him, calling him "communist" and "terrorist
number one" during the "internal settlement" (1977-1979), came to naught. By
then, Mugabe had become part of, if not the solution - notwithstanding Smith
's personal attitudes towards him.
      We have travelled full circle. We are behaving exactly like Smith. We
know, don't we, that Smith was literally dragged to the Lancaster dialogue
screaming: "Never in my lifetime, not in a thousand years (will I speak to
Morgan Tsvangirai, a neo-colonialist agent without an academic degree?)"
      lProfessor Masi-pula Sithole is a lecturer of political science at the
University of Zimbabwe and director of the Harare-based Mass Public Opinion
Back to the Top
Back to Index


      ZANU PF will not listen to the voice of God

      Marko Phiri
      3/27/03 10:36:10 AM (GMT +2)

      It is great wonder that some members of the clergy seem to be of the
firm opinion that the solution to Zimbabwe's woes lies in engaging the
ruling Zanu PF and the opposition Movement for Democratic Change in
constructive dialogue which, by natural consequence, would then result in
the formation of a unity government.

      Perhaps these sentiments, this time coming from groups outside the
country could well be excused in that these people do not have the foggiest
idea about the stuff the ruling Zanu PF is made of. That press reports have
said these latest efforts by members of the Christian church from South
Africa are by the invitation of the ruling party would therefore imply a
radical volte-face on the part of the governing party.

      That this is being touted all the same despite pointers both in the
distant and recent past from the ruling party that it will not deal with the
opposition MDC as equals with the same concerns and interests for the future
of this nation could, in another space and time, pass for an experience on
the same scale as events on the road to Damascus as told to us by Christian

      It would therefore invite genuine plaudits from the ruling party's

      Some would go on to say however, that anybody willing to listen to
this "policy shift" is exhibiting nothing but naivety of the worst kind.

      While one would be expected to speak kindly of men of the cloth, it
will be recalled that some bogus Christian coalition by the name Faith of
the Nation tried to bring the two political parties to the round table not
merely to iron out their differences, but also as a logical appendage to
that, bring sanity to this land.

      The MDC rightly or wrongly, ignored those overtures.

      That a bishop from the Evangelical Fellowship of Zimbabwe among many
other men working for God's people has already fallen victim to this regime'
s no-nonsense police force should have told the Christian delegation from
South Africa that this is not a place where dialogue is included as part of
any diplomatic initiative.

      They could have asked Desmond Tutu before they made the trip. But a
reconnaissance mission in South Africa would have saved them all the

      However, because we have been told the trip to State House was by
invitation, they could be excused on that one score.

      After all, one would not define comments attributed to Tutu about
Robert Mugabe as charitable coming as they did from a man of the cloth!

      Reports here are that an old nun who was part of the St Valentine's
Day massacre - good thing our own version had no casualties - and we
previously thought all civilised nations frowned upon the physical abuse of
women. Welcome to Zimbabwe gentlemen. An 82 year old Jesuit priest whose
memory routinely fails him was recently given a good hiding by police
manning the first family's residence.

      As if this was not enough for the poor man, he was thrown into prison
for good measure. Another Jesuit priest was clubbed senseless in Bulawayo
while he allegedly video tapped the St Valentine's march organised by women
fed up with the violence that is consuming this once upon a time peaceful

      These are just some of the cases, not all obviously make it into news

      Now how do you constructively engage a regime that condones,
sanctions, and bankrolls such acts of brutality? Can that regime honestly
understand the language of love, for that is what Christianity is all about?
If members of the Christian church, be they from within our borders or from
without still entertain the notion that it is their efforts by mediation
that will bring a radical return to normalcy here then they better have
another think coming.

      Zanu PF is simply not a God-fearing organisation. The signs are there
for all to see. And this could be summarised in the words of Bishop Donal
Lamont written in 1959 by still very relevant today.

      In the pastoral letter, Purchased People, he wrote, "It is difficult
to exaggerate the extent and gravity of the dangers to society once it
rejects religion (has not Zanu PF done just that?).

      Once religion goes out of public life, society loses its vitality and
social decay sets in; law itself becomes a lawless thing; legal positivism
takes the place of divine ordinance; public men forget that they are
responsible to God for their official actions, and confusion becomes

      Now, in dealing with this regime, it would therefore be important to
make an assessment and see whether or not the words of one of Zimbabwe's
most preeminent pre-independence clergymen do not ring true about events

      Any effort borrowing its cause from a Christian worldview, would only
find it was consorting with the devil as that time could have been invested
in sourcing food aid for those being starved by that regime which the
Christian soldiers are busy trying to convert!

      What we could applaud no doubt would be a church that is speaking out
on the government's many evils not one that is nursing some futile dream
that it will knock gospel values into a group of people whose ideals are
inimical to all things Christ-like.

      The irony out of Zimbabwe's crisis is that a good number of the men,
and probably women, within those ranks were avowed Catholics in their youth
with some reportedly even giving the priesthood a shot as if to prove their

      While they dropped out and joined the struggle for this country's
political independence, they still passed for kosher men of faith seeing
they could well have cited St Augustine's 'just war' principles as
legitimating their taking up of arms.

      God knows what went wrong after that. Perhaps even some of the women
had a brush with convent life, but the good Lord called them to be some
latter-day Joan of Arc.

      Archbishop Njongo- nkulu Ndungane, who is the latest high ranking
member of the Christian movement to try and knock sense into this brutal
regime is quoted in the press as having said Robert Mugabe "confirmed
support for mediation." But is it not the same guy who has said the most
uncharitable words about the leader of the opposition? What then would
convince him to change that radical stance? Divine vengeance perhaps?

      In Purchased People, Bishop Lamont continued, "In the Christian ethos,
man has a further and more individual obligation toward his fellows." Well,
does Zanu PF?

      For if that were true for the ruling party, would the country be in
this terrible mess?

      It is tragic that men of faith would fall for the age old ruling party
ruse which seems to have been successfully sold with other so-called
pan-Africanist presidents here that as soon as you enter the president's
office, you are told what you want to hear, but as soon as you turn your
back, the cudgels are once again drawn from under the table and the blood of
opposition party supporters starts flowing.

      The equivocating of the ruling party reminds one of those words from
an anti-Christ called Celsus only two centuries after Christ had walked this
earth, "Through Moses, God said, 'Kill your enemies, even their wives and
little ones.' Through Christ, God said, 'Love your enemies.' Who lied, Moses
or Jesus? Or did God change his mind." Zanu PF is busy debating this heresy
thus the disregard for all that would seek to respect human rights, life and
people's sensibilities.

      So for any Christian initiative toward the solving of the Zimbo
tragedy, one has to look at the mindset of the ruling party and see if at
all these men of God are not indeed "pissing in the wind."

      The virtue of reconciliation is never in tandem with ideals that
manifest a more diabolic than Christian work ethic.

      One would also recall a conversation between two fictional characters
that went, "'I went into that church yesterday, and I asked God how I came
out alive. 'What did God say?' the other friend asked. 'He said, son you did
better than me. I have been trying for the past two hundred years to get in
with no success!'"

      That is Zanu PF for you.

       Marko Phiri is a freelance writer.
Back to the Top
Back to Index


      Who will protect us from our own army?

      Taungana Ndoro
      3/27/03 10:37:00 AM (GMT +2)

      EVER since the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) threatened to
topple ZANU PF in what was supposed to be a free poll, the bad-boy image of
the army has grown from strength to strength.

      Could it be that General Vitalis Zvinavashe's statement on the army's
position regarding the outcome of last year's elections conferred upon
soldiers mysterious supernatural powers that have made the "defence" forces
dilly-dally with the rule of law willy-nilly?

      But they did act in a questionable manner before that, so probably it
is in the nature of many in the army to adhere to the law of the jungle.

      The army public relations directorate has made shameless denials about
the Dracula disease that has spread alarmingly within an army that is now
frighteningly baying for its own citizen's blood.

      Indeed soldiers are running amok and their persecution is not anything
new - but the major worry is: will the harassment come to an end? And how

      Those who read the newspapers know pretty well that the army may huff
and puff but never blow out of our minds cases of its members' atrocities
against humanity that are so shocking, not considering the Matabeleland
genocide of the 80s.

      lLast March after the results of the presidential election were
announced, four soldiers, including a lieutenant and a corporal based at 4.1
infantry battalion in Masvingo went on a punitive expedition and beat up
civilians at Nemamwa growth point. Three of them were sentenced to a total
of 32 months in prison.

      lIn October 2001, two soldiers based at Alfida Barracks in Harare were
charged with murder after they beat to death a man they accused of being an
MDC supporter.

      lLast year in January, soldiers of the presidential guard severely
whipped three postmen who had stopped for one of them to pick up an article
that had dropped from his bicycle. Their apologetic gesture of raising a
hand was erroneously interpreted as the opposition party's symbol. They paid
dearly for that.

      lIn the same month, another postman was reportedly beaten up by
soldiers in the same area after they accused him of delivering
anthrax-contaminated mail.

      lIn March 1997, three soldiers allegedly gang-raped a 14 year old girl
at a Harare barrack.

      lIn June 1998, an HIV-positive army captain was sentenced to 10 years
in jail after raping a four year old girl and infecting her with a sexually
transmitted disease.

      lIn February this year, a soldier based at All-Arms Battle School in
Nyanga ran amok following a domestic dispute and shot dead five people with
an AK-47 rifle before escaping justice by committing suicide.

      lIn June last year, another soldier shot and seriously injured five
people at the Presidential Guard Headquarters in Dzivarasekwa before he
turned his service rifle on himself.

      lIn July 2000, soon after the general elections, over 20 Harare
residents lodged reports of assault by soldiers whom they accused of beating
them up during an operation which was ostensibly aimed at quelling
post-election violence.

      lLast month, soldiers manning queues at a supermarket in Harare
assaulted a Daily News photographer for taking photographs of queues for
basic commodities.

      lThis month, the Daily News of March 24 had four shocking headlines
with equally shocking stories "Soldiers on the rampage in Harare", "Soldiers
assault Zimpapers vendor", "Soldiers ransack MDC official's house" and
"Soldiers beat up nightclub patrons".

      This is only a cross on a mass grave of many such cases that have gone
unreported and/or unpublished. What is worse, nobody from the ZNA public
relations directorate has been moral enough to mumble an apology.

      When law-abiding citizens expose them for what they really are after
they undeservedly victimise them, the directorate blows hot and cold in
defence of the indefensible.

      I used to wonder why Zimbabweans would not resort to mass action to
dissolve the tendons of bondage that bind them, but now the fog has cleared.

      No one wants a confrontation with the army because soldiers are
trained to kill (albeit and be killed) so no one wants to commit suicide by
clashing with the army.

      Soldiers will act ruthlessly against an enemy more so one they
perceive to be an enemy of the state.

      However, the irony really is: who is the enemy of the state?

      Are civilians in the opposition parties enemies of the state? Are
patrons revelling in nightclubs enemies of the state? Are postmen enemies of
the state? How can a 14 or a four year old girl be an enemy of the state?
Indeed, does a newspaper vendor passing by State House become an enemy of
the state?

      Peace-loving and tolerant Zimbabweans can never be enemies of the
state. In fact, many are victims of state security forces that continue to
defend a government that has surnamed its citizens with misery of the worst

      The real enemies of the state are those that are making us suffer from
inflation, food shortages, a fuel crisis, bad governance, human rights
abuses and so on.

      If the army continues to allow itself to be manipulated into
perpetrating the death of democracy, then it not only loses respect but
falls short of its major obligation, which is to protect, serve and support
the real wishes of its people and not the wishes of a people who shamelessly
hold on to power.

      The wishes of the people are good governance and a stable economy, and
these two noble ideals should be what the army must be seen to facilitate
now and again.

      If the army is to be credible, its officers must learn to uphold the
truth (such as the wishes of the masses) and behave in a well-mannered way
so as to avoid tarnishing the image of defence forces as a whole.

      We begin to feel excessively insecure when the army boldly applauds
some of its ill-bred officers' inhuman misdemea- nours.

      It becomes a major cause for concern since the army exists because of
civilians whom they are supposed to - let me repeat - serve, protect and

      It is known for certain that the army is not inherently immoral for
indeed during the disaster of cyclone Eline, it was none other than the army
that came to the rescue of the flood victims. It was also applaudable that
during the cyclone Japhet catastrophe, the defence forces once again came to
the rescue of the people it exists for.

      In other acts of good neighbourliness, in March 2000 it unearthed
about 26 000 landmines opening large tracts of land in Victoria Falls to
tourism and other tracts in the Zambezi valley for resettlement.

      These good deeds and many like them which basically require being
civil must be a part of every human soldier in the army for no one can
protect us from our army except our army itself.

      Taungana Ndoro can be reached at

Back to the Top
Back to Index


      RBZ still minting coins despite loss of purchasing power

      3/27/03 10:49:34 AM (GMT +2)

      THE Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) will continue to mint low
denomination coins despite their loss of purchasing power due to rampant
inflation, according to a central bank spokesman.

      Zimbabwe has seven denominations of coins in circulation, ranging from
one cent to $5, whose value has been eroded by inflation in the past three
      Inflation reached a record high of 220.9 percent in the year to
February, up from 208.1 percent the previous month.
      Most consumers no longer use the coins when making their purchases
because of high commodity prices, which make it necessary to carry large
amounts instead of low denomination coins.
      The RBZ spokesman said the central bank had stopped minting one-cent
and five-cent coins, but would continue minting the other denominations
because it was still cost effective to produce them.
      He however would not say how much it cost to produce the coins, citing
      "It is necessary for the central bank to continue minting coins since
there is demand for them from the banks and other transacting public," he
told the Financial Gazette.
      " It is still cost effective to produce coins since they have a very
long circulation life. The bank has however stopped minting the one cent and
five-cent coins for cost effectiveness."
      - Staff Reporter
Back to the Top
Back to Index


      It's time to flush out the Saddams of this world

      S Masamvu
      3/27/03 10:35:08 AM (GMT +2)

      WITHOUT a United Nations (UN) resolution, it will remain debatable
whether George W. Bush and Tony Blair's war against Saddam Hussein was the
right option or not.

      Indeed, it could be argued that Bush and Blair are probably guilty of
attempting to subject the UN system to the same dictatorial tendencies they
accuse Saddam of practising in Iraq.

      But the one salutary point about "Operation Free Iraq", the codename
for the strike against Saddam, is that dictators, even though the odds are
staked against them, never understand diplomacy, let alone quiet diplomacy.

      Admittedly war is never the thinking man's solution to problems and
like any other citizen of this, our mother Earth, I do yearn for a world
free of war, hunger and pestilence, but we cannot run away from the harsh
realities on the ground.

      The reality is that only resolute action, fire and force if need be,
is the only way to get any dictator to change tack.

      This is as it should be. People should have the courage of their
convictions and openly state where they stand and not engage in endless
sessions of diplomacy that yield nothing except more suffering and
repression of the oppressed innocent.

      I personally wish the kind of forthrightness, frankness and above all
decisiveness exhibited by Bush in his handling of Saddam would catch up with
our leaders here in Africa, especially those spearheading the New
Partnership for African Development.

      Bush and Blair's message to Saddam, his government and his sons was
clear from day one: ship out or face the wrath of our combined forces.

      In fact, that is how these dictators need to be sent packing the world

      Such a determined stance against tyranny would drive the many tin-pot
dictators flourishing in many an African country out of the continent.

      Many of Africa's oppressed citizens could then afford to hope for a
better future, confident in the knowledge that never mind how powerful the
ruler is, the rest of Africa would never let them down.

      But given the tendency among many African leaders to protect each
other, one may be forgiven for wishing the campaign against Saddam was
extended the world over to give dictators who have made life unbearable for
humankind in most parts of the world an ignominious exit.

      The year 2003 should be dedicated to flushing out dictators the world
over - in Baghdad, Havana, Jakarta, southern Africa - and send them running
for dear life.

      Progressive forces must emulate the example set by the Americans and
the British and with all in their power confront the dictators in their
corner of the world for, as Anglo/American handling of Saddam has shown,
quiet diplomacy is a pipe dream.

      Of course many will argue against war and violence and indeed that is
a valid argument.

      But as history teaches us, sometimes a violent removal is what the
typical dictator understands. Most of them - Mobutu Sese Seko of Zaire,
Slobodan Milosevic ofYugoslavia, Uganda's Idi Amin, you name them - had to
be kicked out of power.

      The bottom line is that one has to take a fairly hardline stance when
dealing with leaders who have entrenched themselves through repression.

      We, the progressive forces of this world, however live in the
knowledge and comfort that dictators, wherever they are, are quacking in
their boots as the Americans get on with the job at hand in Baghdad.

      We await the next assignment.

      This is a noble assignment that should be undertaken ruthlessly to
flush undesired elements from the face of this earth.
Back to the Top
Back to Index