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No Other Way

When we analyse the situation in Zimbabwe objectively we can only come to
one conclusion - there is only one way out of the maze that we find
ourselves in at present. Lets look at the options: -

Option 1. Stay where we are. Clearly this is simply no longer tenable -
inflation, the collapse in the economy, the fall in living standards and the
decline in the level of services available from all public institutions,
simply rule out staying where we are.

Option 2. Allow Mr. Mugabe to retire and then facilitate a reformed Zanu
administration. This has some attractions - it is the easier route. We all
want the "Old Man" out - even Mbeki wants him to retire. When he goes there
is no doubt that rapid changes will take place and the ruling clique may
well find they have more on their hands than they care to hold on to.
However, this would leave the very people who have brought such destruction
to Zimbabwe in charge and therefore there would be no restoration of the
rule of law or of our basic human and political rights. It would also do
nothing to address the sweeping corruption that now characterizes the
Zimbabwe regime. It also is not a democratic solution and does not guarantee
the eventual restoration of our democratic rights.

Option 3. Force the Zanu PF led regime in Harare to accept that it has no
answers and no solutions to the crisis and to agree to a negotiated
settlement of the conflict. This is the tough route, but it has the
advantage that it would facilitate a clean break with the past, allow a new
democratic regime to emerge and would hold out the promise that the rule of
law would be re-established, that all basic human and political rights would
be respected and economic recovery could start almost immediately.

It is also clear that South Africa (and perhaps a few other countries) favor
the second option. Staying where we are has destabilization aspects to it as
economic migrants from the collapse in Zimbabwe flee to other countries -
especially South Africa. But there is also no doubt that many analysts fear
the impact on South Africa's fragile political economy of a MDC led
government in Zimbabwe. That such a development would undermine the tenuous
threads that hold the ANC alliance together is not lost on South Africans.

The fact that the ANC has shifted to the center in the South African
political spectrum is also not lost on big business. They welcome the
development and watch with dismay the growing restiveness of labour in South
Africa. Not all the components of the ANC welcome the shift in ANC policies
towards conservative economic policies and practices. The current wave of
strikes and the support for Jacob Zuma are testimony to this state of

So it has become a race to see which of options 2 and 3 eventually take
control of the process of change in Zimbabwe. It is no longer a question of
if there will be change - only the form and direction it will take. Clearly,
if my hypothesis is right, Mr. Mbeki knows full well that what happens in
the remainder of his tenure as President of South Africa, may well be
decided in Harare and not Pretoria. But for those of us with Zimbabwean
interests at heart - there is only one way out - option 3.

So how do we get the country onto that road back to sanity? Clearly, with
little or no effective international assistance or pressure on the regime,
Zimbabweans themselves must take the initiative. That is what Western and
African leaders have been saying and we have come in for a fair degree of
criticism for what is perceived as our passivity as a people. What the
outside world has to understand about us, is that our culture (the dominant
one at least) is very passive, favors peace making over conflict and also
that we as a nation are sick and tired of violence and conflict.

We also know full well what we are up against - a regime that has always
favored violence and coercion over consultation and dialogue. These are men
and women "with degrees in violence" as Mr. Mugabe is oft to say.

But do we have any alternative now? I think not and the majority of
Zimbabweans agree with me. So for the first time, the MDC is putting its
commitment to democratic means of change on the back burner - not ignored,
but no longer considered as the way forward. We now turn to the street as
the only road left to us if we want to rescue Zimbabwe and get back on our
feet as a nation.

A short campaign is envisaged - starting at Easter with the Churches leading
the nation in prayers for peaceful, legal change in Zimbabwe. Then a whole
raft of activities designed to drive home the message that we have had
enough of the status quo and demand change - fundamental change in the way
we are governed. This will then lead up to a climatic event that will
finally confront the regime with the people's demands and this will not
disband until the concessions are granted.

We do not want to overthrow the government - even though it has no
democratic credentials and should not even be in power. All we want is a
people driven, new constitution for the country and agreement on how we get
from here to there on the road map to fresh elections under free and fair
conditions in 2007.

Nothing is predetermined - we all take our chances with the process, Zanu PF
and the MDC alike. But in the end, the people must be allowed to decide - as
they did in South Africa, how they are going to govern themselves in the
future and how their society is going to develop from now on. At the end of
the process, the people must decide who leads them and who takes control
after new elections.

The current President must also take his chances - we do not want to see him
overthrown in a coup, rather we would want to see that matter left to our
Courts and to the initiative of those who have been so deeply wronged while
he was in power. Justice, not retribution is our goal.

This decision was not easily or suddenly arrived at. It is the product of
years of struggle to try and secure change through the ballot box only to be
frustrated at every turn. We know there will be serious trouble and more
suffering for the people in the short term but also know that now there is
no other way.

Eddie Cross
Bulawayo 27th March 2006

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Mugabe demands answers from security minister, police chief over false assassination plot

Zim Online

Wed 29 March 2006

      HARARE - President Robert Mugabe has demanded that intelligence
minister Didymus Mutasa and police chief Augustine Chihuri explain how
security agents came "to conclude the existence" of an alleged plot to kill
him that has turned out to be false, ZimOnline has learnt.

      Authoritative sources said Mugabe - livid apparently over the
embarrassment caused to him and the government when the widely-reported
assassination plot collapsed at the first hurdle in court - summoned Mutasa
and Chihuri last week on Tuesday and ordered the two to submit written
reports on the matter.

      "The meetings were tense. The President was not pleased at all," said
a senior official in the President's office who spoke on condition he was
not named.

      The official, who said Mugabe met Chihuri and Mutasa separately,
added: "Chihuri was under fire but Mutasa appeared in a better position as
he simply shifted all the blame on the police who he accused of

      Both Mugabe's spokesman, George Charamba and Chihuri were not
available for comment on the matter, while Mutasa admitted meeting Mugabe
Tuesday last week but said this was only part of the regular meetings he has
with the President and whose details he was not going to discuss with the

      He said: "I meet the President regularly. More frequent than you
probably think and I can't be explaining details of my meetings with him to
the Press every day . honestly, would that make sense?"

      Six officials of the main opposition Movement for Democratic Change
(MDC) party were two weeks ago arrested in the eastern city of Mutare for
allegedly plotting to assassinate the 82-year old Mugabe.

      Police and agents of the state's spy Central Intelligence Organisation
(CIO) swooped on the MDC activists after discovering arms at the home of a
local gun dealer, Peter Hitschmann.

      Hitschmann was a soldier in the white government's army before
Zimbabwe's 1980 independence but was now working with the police as a
volunteer under its special constabulary wing.

      The police alleged Hitschmann and the MDC activist had plotted to use
the guns to commit acts of banditry and that they also plotted to spill oil
along the Harare to Mutare highway to make it slippery so that Mugabe - who
the opposition activists allegedly assumed would drive to Mutare for his
birthday celebrations - could overturn in his vehicle and die.

      But charges had to be withdrawn against the MDC activists for lack of
evidence although Hitschmann remains in custody after the police altered
charges against him to strengthen their case. The police are now charging
the gun dealer under the Firearms Act.

      There have been several reports before of plots to assassinate
Mugabe - which the veteran President has not criticised - but which
intelligence analysts have dismissed as hoaxes by state agents out to find
an excuse to crack down on the opposition.

      But our sources said the latest plot that has raised the ire of Mugabe
was not "one of the intelligence operations sanctioned by head office" but
appeared to be a product of overzealousness by Mutare police commander
Ronald Muderedzwa and an intelligence officer based in the city, who our
sources could only identify as Gota.

      Muderedzwa and Gota are said to have hatched the assassination theory
after an assortment of guns were discovered in Hitschmann's car and not in
his house as they later alleged.

      After his grilling by Mugabe, Chihuri is said to have phoned
Muderedzwa and other senior police officers in Mutare "at midnight" after
meeting Mugabe and ordered them to compile reports on how they came up with
the alleged assassination plot.

      "Chihuri was also furious at his juniors. He accused Mudererdzwa of
making him look stupid by making him report to Mugabe a plot that never
was," said a senior officer at police headquarters in Harare, who is also
privy to details pertaining to the matter.

      Muderedzwa yesterday refused to take questions on the matter. "I am
not going to talk to you about anything concerning that matter," he said
before switching off his phone.

      But according to our sources, Chihuri has demanded that Muderedzwa
explain among other issues why the police had alleged that Hitschmann and
the MDC activists planned to spill oil along the Harare to Mutare highway
when it should have been obvious to everyone that the President would fly to

      Mugabe rarely uses the road for long trips outside Harare and flew to
Mutare for his 82nd birthday bash last month. Chihuri has also asked the
Mutare police commander to explain how any would-be assassin would attempt
to use ordinary rifles including Second World War 303s to try to shoot
Mugabe in his official car - a specially made Mercedes Benz S600 LV 140AMG

      The car, which is bullet proof, is reputed to be one of the safest and
is fitted with special tryes that can take it for a further 50 km after a
puncture or being hit by a bullet.

      The police chief has also asked Muderedzwa to explain why police lied
on the charge sheet that the venue of Mugabe's birthday celebrations was
shifted from Manicaland agricultural show grounds to Sakubva football
stadium on security grounds.

      The venue for the celebrations was changed because the agricultural
showground is small and difficult to access while the football stadium is
bigger and accessible to more people. - ZimOnline

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Zimbabwe Aids council says only one in 12 patients getting anti-retroviral drugs

Zim Online

Wed 29 March 2006

      HARARE - Zimbabwe's National Aids Council (NAC) on Tuesday said it was
only able to provide anti-retroviral (ARV) drugs to one in every 12 HIV/AIDS
patients because there is no money to buy adequate supplies.

      NAC executive director Tapiwa Magure told Parliament's portfolio
committee on health that funds raised through an aids tax on workers were
having to be spread out to cover other social sectors requiring support
leaving little money to pay for drugs or HIV/AIDS prevention programmes.

      As result the NAC, the government's anti-HIV/AIDS agency, had failed
to increase the number of people receiving ARVs to 170 000 by end of 2005 as
had been planned.

      Only 25 000 people were receiving drugs by the end of last year out of
a total of 300 000 people that Magure said urgently required drugs. About a
quarter of the 12 million Zimbabweans are estimated to be infected by the
deadly HIV virus.

      "Due to the dysfunctional of sectors such as the social welfare
department and the BEAM (Basic Education Assistance Module), some people
were now getting hospital and school fees from the Aids Levy, impacting
negatively on the provision of ARVs," said Magure.

       Zimbabwe's high inflation of more than 700 percent had also whittled
down funds for HIV/AIDS programmes, the NAC chief told the parliamentary

      "Funding for health delivery has been dwindling in real terms
beginning in 2000. Although HIV and Aids are funded from the 3 percent levy
on taxable incomes, the value of the money has dropped due to inflation,"
said Magure.

      According to the 2004 Millennium Development Goals report on Zimbabwe,
the crisis-hit southern African country requires about US$38 million to
reverse the spread of HIV/AIDS between 2002 and 2015. The amount excludes
the cost of ARVs.

      Zimbabwe and Uganda are the only two sub-Saharan countries that have
been able to reverse HIV'AIDS infections but the gains scored by Harare
against the disease could be reversed as resources dry up after six years of
a severe economic recession.

      The economic crisis has spawned shortages of essential medical drugs,
food, fuel, electricity and nearly every basic commodity because there is no
hard cash to pay foreign suppliers. - ZimOnline

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AG's office wants 'lenient' sentence on ZANU PF official overturned

Zim Online

Wed 29 March 2006

      KAROI - The Attorney General (AG)'s office is appealing against a Z$10
million (about US$100) fine imposed on a senator of President Robert
Mugabe's ruling ZANU PF party convicted of political violence which led to
the death of one man.

      Director of public prosecutions in the office, Loice Matanda-Moyo,
told ZimOnline that she had ordered an appeal because last month's sentence
against Senator Phone Madiro was "too lenient".

      Matanda-Moyo said: ''In fact, I have assigned another officer to
prepare for the appeal as it was too lenient and the court erred on the
sentence .. I cannot say when the papers will be ready but we are working on

      Madiro, who represents Kariba/Hurungwe constituency, was last month
found guilty of inciting a group of 18 ZANU PF youths loyal to him to attack
the supporters of his political rival Cecilia Gwachiwa in December.

      Both Gwachiwa and Madiro belong to ZANU PF and were contesting for the
right to represent the party in last March's general election.

      One of Gwachiwa's supporters, Tichaona Manyembere, was seriously
injured during the attack by Madiro's supporters and died two weeks later
from the injuries.

      The youths hired by Madiro to commit violence were sentenced to
perform 240 hours each of community service at rural schools while the
Senator escaped with a fine.

      Human rights groups and the main opposition Movement for Democratic
Change party have in the past accused militant ZANU PF youths of committing
violence and human rights violations against opposition supporters, a charge
denied by the ruling party.

      Madiro's trial and conviction is one of the very rare occasions when a
senior ZANU PF leader has been brought to book for inciting political

      Meanwhile, Madiro on Tuesday told ZimOnline that he had been suspended
from Parliament and barred from attending the Senate because of his
conviction on political violence charges. -  ZimOnline

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Two SA banks pledge funds to refurbish building for displaced Zimbabwean refugees

Zim Online

Wed 29 March 2006

      JOHANNESBURG - A Methodist bishop assisting Zimbabwean refugees on
Tuesday said two South African banks had pledged to raise about 1.3 million
rand to help refurbish a building in Johannesburg to house refugees.

      Bishop Paul Verryn told ZimOnline yesterday that the banks, Nedbank
and Investec, were willing to chip in to lessen  the plight of hundreds of
Zimbabwean refugees who were last week kicked out of the Methodist Church
building in the  city.

      "Nedbank and Investec are offering about 1.3 million rand to refurbish
a building in the city centre. We are also hoping  to get funding from our
overseas partners to help refurbish the building which we are also planning
to use as a training  centre," said Verryn.

      An official from Investec who refused to be named because he is not
authorized to speak to the Press also confirmed  the development.

      "We are at the moment talking to the church on the way forward
following the eviction of the refugees. Our target is to see that all those
who were evicted are housed before the beginning of June," he said.

      At least 300 Zimbabweans who were staying at the Methodist church
building in central Johannesburg were two weeks ago evicted from the
premises after they violently clashed over some donated clothes. Two people
died during the disturbances. - ZimOnline

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Zimbabwe Seeks Stronger Military Ties with China


      By VOA News
      28 March 2006

Zimbabwe says its military wants to establish a so-called "strategic
partnership" with China.

Tuesday's edition of the state-run newspaper The Herald quotes the Zimbabwe
Defense Forces commander as saying his forces have benefited greatly from
Chinese military aid and training exchange programs.

The paper said the general made the comment at a dinner held in Harare
Friday in honor of a visiting delegation from the Chinese army.

The Herald said Zimbabwe's military wants to develop a new type of strategic
partnership with China that would feature political equality, economic
cooperation, and exchanges of culture and technology.

China has become an increasingly important ally to Zimbabwe as the
government of President Robert Mugabe battles international isolation.

Critics of the Mugabe government blame it for the country's economic crisis,
which has seen agricultural production plunge and inflation soar to more
than 700 percent per year.

Some information for this report was provided by Reuters.

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Robert Mugabe: Revered and Reviled


27 March 2006

The president of the southern African state of Zimbabwe, Robert Mugabe, has been strongly criticized in the West for his iron-fisted rule, especially the destruction of his country's economy and brutal suppression of dissidents. Despite Mr. Mugabe's actions, there are Africans who admire him.

wfp rlee Beneficiaries-in-queue ndlovu zimbabwe 150 eng.jpg
Zimbabweans line up to receive aid distributed by the World Food Program
Zimbabwe is a land of difficulties. According to its own government, inflation is now at more than 780 percent a year.  Food is scarce - - the country's wheat flour makers say that grain could run out soon, and that prospect is already driving the price of bread through the stratosphere. Fuel is also desperately short, hampering transport and commerce. 

Analysts say two-thirds of Zimbabwe's population is now out of work and sinking even more deeply into poverty. At the center of it all is Zimbabwe's president, Robert Mugabe, and his policies, which are seen by many as a means to preserve power at all costs, even if it results in the destruction of his country.

Robert Mugabe the "Liberator"

Yet to some, Robert Mugabe is a hero, not a villain.  Africa analyst Todd Moss at the Washington-based Center for Global Development says admiration of the Zimbabwean leader stems both from his past accomplishments and the continent's customs.

"Mugabe is still considered a father of the anti-colonial struggle, the father of Zimbabwe, and still considered an important independence leader.  And some of that reverence constrains people's willingness to criticize him in public.  There is, of course, the African tradition of not criticizing your peers, especially to the outside community," says Moss.

Zimbabwe ZANU-PF logo 150.jpg
The ZANU political party rose to prominence under Robert Mugabe's leadership
In 1963, Robert Mugabe was one of the founders of the Zimbabwe African
National Union, or ZANU, a political party he still heads today.  He went to Mozambique in 1974 to lead the party's military arm in a fight against Zimbabwe's then-white minority government, which called the country Rhodesia.

In 1978, that government agreed to give way to the black majority, and Robert Mugabe emerged as prime minister in elections held in early 1980.  He became Zimbabwe's president in 1987.

Pan-African Support for Robert Mugabe

With his own country under black majority rule, Mr. Mugabe turned his revolutionary zeal toward neighboring South Africa and its white minority apartheid government.  Nelson Mandela's African National Congress movement received critical support and refuge from the Zimbabwean leader and that, according to analyst Jennifer Cooke at the Washington - based Center for Strategic and International Studies, is a reason for current South African President Thabo Mbeki's public silence regarding Robert Mugabe.

"Mbeki comes from a liberation movement  - -  there's a certain solidarity there.  People thought this might give him an opportunity to act a little bit more forcefully on Zimbabwe, but his policies showed no significant change.  So there's no telling that Mbeki is planning to change his mind anytime soon," says Cooke.

The South African president is not alone in his silence regarding Zimbabwe and its leader.  The African Union has taken strong positions on other continental issues such as the conflict in the Darfur region of Sudan, but has offered no public criticism of Mr. Mugabe.

Bill Fletcher, President of TransAfrica Forum in Washington, says there is a powerful reason for the A.U.'s silence. “Mugabe knows, on a personal level, many of the leaders of other  countries," says Fletcher. "So there is, if not a camaraderie, there is a certain relationship that has developed over the years that makes it difficult for one to move against another."

Domestic Policies Draw International Condemnation

maphosa maize growing in a harare residential area eng 150
Land confiscated from white farmers is given to Mugabe supporters
Much of the criticism of Robert Mugabe revolves around two events. One is his
policy of confiscating land from white farmers, oftentimes by force, and giving it to members and supporters of his ZANU-PF party.  Another is the demolition of slums in the capital, Harare, making hundreds-of-thousands of people homeless.

Opponents say those slums were a stronghold for a dissident political group called the Movement for Democratic Change, whose leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, opposed Mr. Mugabe for the presidency in 2002 in what many observers say was a seriously flawed election.  

Mr. Mugabe's Winning Strategy

The United States and Britain have condemned Mr. Mugabe and his policies, but Peter Kawanga with the independent International Crisis Group in Pretoria, South Africa says the Zimbabwean president successfully played the "race card" against what he portrays as colonial powers and their alleged interference in Zimbabwe's affairs.

"When Mugabe came under attack, Mugabe became an 'evil genius' by politicizing the land question.  Instead of dealing prudently and legally, he turned it into the most important axis.  He has won the day by pushing out white farmers," says Kawanga.

But the displaced farmers provided Zimbabwe not only with food, but also much-needed foreign currency by selling their crops on the world market.  Now Zimbabwe has become a net food importer and a recipient of international aid. 

Its overall economy is in a free fall.  As a result, Zimbabwe's middle class has largely left for South Africa and other neighboring countries, leaving only the political elite surrounding Mr. Mugabe and a huge impoverished underclass that observers say he continues to distract.

The Mugabe Cult

 Zimbabwe, president Mugabe
Robert Mugabe is still popular despite poor governance
Roberta Cohen at The Brookings Institution in Washington says a major reason
why Robert Mugabe remains popular with some Zimbabweans and other Africans is that he has made himself the very symbol and image of his country.

"He's like a number of other African strongmen that don't want to accept opposition don't want to accept a democratic structure.  He seems to have that same kind of megalomania that you see in some of these other countries. Little distinction is made between the country and the person," says Cohen.

While Mr. Mugabe's "father of Zimbabwe" self-portrayal has sustained a certain popularity for him, the increasing misery of many in that country may eventually lead to his revile. But many Zimbabwe-watchers say that so long as there are people who remember the anti-colonial struggle, Robert Mugabe will be seen by some as an African hero.

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Government urged to acknowledge defeat and let The Daily News resume publishing

Reporters without Borders

Reporters Without Borders today called on the Zimbabwean authorities to
recognise their inability to maintain a ban on The Daily News independent
newspaper and its weekly supplement The Daily News on Sunday and to grant
them a licence to resume publishing.

"Zimbabwe's system of repression is beginning to crumble," the press freedom
organisation said. "We have the details of an unambiguous Harare high court
ruling that totally discredits the Media and Information Commission (MIC)
and its biased policies. When forced against the wall, the government
violated its own draconian press law. To end to an ordeal that has lasted
too long, it should recognise its defeat in the battle with The Daily News'
owners and allow it to reappear."

Reporters Without Borders has obtained a copy of the 8 February ruling in
which high court judge Rita Makarau said the commission's decision to reject
a licence application by Associated Newspapers of Zimbabwe (ANZ), the
publisher of The Daily News, was "rendered void by the participation of the
[commission's] chairperson in its making after he had been found to be
biased against the applicant."

Judge Makarau also ruled that "there is merit in the submission of the
applicant" to the high court "that the commission as presently constituted
is now disabled from validly considering the applicant's application as
their decision will be tainted by bias of the chairperson."

The MIC recognized after the ruling that it could no longer consider the ANZ's
licence application. But no other government authority issued a decision
within the 30-day deadline that followed the high court ruling, which
expired on 10 March. This means the government is now in breach of the
Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (AIPPA) for the first
time since its adoption in 2002.

As a result, the ANZ today brought an action before the high court against
information and publicity minister Tichaona Jokonya, to force the government
to respond to its application.

The drawn-out legal wrangle between the ANZ and the MIC has gone from court
to court ever since The Daily News and its Sunday edition were first banned
by the MIC in September 2003. In February 2004, the battle reached the
supreme court, which took more than a year to issue a decision.

The supreme court finally issued its ruling on 14 March 2005, quashing the
MIC's ban on the newspapers and forcing it to reconsider the ANZ's request
for a licence within 60 days. Although this deadline expired on 15 May, the
MIC waited until 16 June to consider the ANZ's request.

After two days of deliberations, on 16 and 17 June, MIC chairman Tafataona
Mahoso refused to make any statement aside from saying the newspapers would
be notified when a decision had been made. He did not explain what that
meant. The MIC finally announced its refusal to give the ANZ a licence on 18
July, as a result of which the ANC immediately challenged the decision
before the Harare high court.

The MIC's decision was subsequently criticised by a member of the MIC board
after he had resigned. The former board member said the chairperson was
pressured into refusing the licence by Zimbabwe's Central Intelligence
Organisation (CIO).

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Zimbabwe doubles local gold price as deliveries dive

Mining Weekly


      Zimbabwe's central bank has more than doubled the local price of gold
in a bid to shore up official deliveries, which plunged by 40% in 2005,
local media reported on Tuesday.

      Gold is a key foreign currency earner for Zimbabwe's struggling
economy and accounts for about 52% of total mineral production and a third
of export earnings.

      But the sector has been hit by mine closures in the last five years,
as operating costs soared in a recession marked by triple-digit inflation
and shortages of fuel and foreign currency.

      Zimbabwe gold producers surrender their gold to sole purchaser and
refiner, Fidelity, a wholly owned central bank firm, and are paid in mostly
Zimbabwe dollars. Under the arrangement, they get only 40% in hard currency.

      Gold deliveries in 2005 fell to 13 000 kg from 21 300 kg the previous
year with the central bank saying the mineral was finding its way on the
black market, where earnings are higher and subsequently smuggled to
neighbouring countries.

      The official Herald newspaper said gold now fetched 2,5-million
Zimbabwe dollars per gram, up from 1,2-million and more than 2,7-million
Zimbabwe dollars on the black market. The central bank could not be
immediately reached for comment.

      "This is a good development and we hope it will promote more
deliveries to Fidelity Printers and Refiners who are the established
producers," David Murangari, Chamber of Mines chief executive told the

      Gold miners have complained that they have suffered from delays by the
central bank to adjust the local price of gold at a time when inflation is
spiralling. Annual inflation raced to a new 782% record in February from
613,2% in January.

      $1=99 201 Zimbabwe dollars

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With desperation setting in, it's the Second Coup Age in Africa

The East African

By Charles Onyango-Obbo

Last week, authorities in Gambia confirmed that they had foiled an attempt
by some military officers to oust President Yahya Jammeh.

A few days earlier, the Chadian government too claimed it had crashed a coup

In recent years, coups have become few and far between on the continent. The
last successful one was in August 2005, when Col Ely Ould Mohamed Vall
grabbed power in Mauritania.

From the time the epidemic of coups broke out in the late 1960s to the end
of the 1980s, there were over 70 of them and 13 presidential assassinations.
The relative "calm" of the past 15 years led many observers to speak of
Africa having entered the "post-coup age." Not everyone was so optimistic,
but the doubters were largely dismissed as Afro-pessimists. Yet, they might
have the last laugh.

Africa is entering a stage very much akin to that we had in the 1970s. By
that point, nationalist leaders and independence fighters had turned into
one-party tyrants, and had run their countries to ground. Today, the
liberation movement leaders, democracy campaigners and human-rights
activists who were swept to power by the winds of change of the past 20
years have turned rogue. Many are as corrupt, if not more so, than their

The opportunities that opposition parties had in the 1990s to win power
democratically have closed in nearly all but a few countries. One reason is
that many opposition parties are extremely incompetent, and only come to
life ahead of elections. The main explanation, though, is that governments
have ensured that they don't hold elections that they aren't prepared to

The main structural change from the '60s and '70s, however, is that far more
African governments are today controlled by military parties that grew from
liberation movements - the National Resistance Movement in Uganda, the
Ethiopian People's Democratic Revolutionary Front, the Rwanda Patriotic
Front, Frelimo in Mozambique, Zanu in Zimbabwe, and some might argue even
the African National Congress in South Africa.

Unlike in the early post-independence period when armies grew out of a
totally different tradition from that of the nationalist parties, many
African armies today emerged from the wombs of the ruling parties. This has
given these parties tremendous ability to mobilise the military to their
partisan political service.

If this situation persists, and governments fail to reverse the scandalous
levels of poverty and general failure one sees in most places around the
continent, faith in democratic politics could collapse. And desperate
anti-democratic alternatives will become more attractive.

There could be several outcomes. First, most governments will simply run out
of the means to continue buying their way in power.

Secondly, in many countries the military has been shy about returning to
State House because they fear the backlash from a hostile population. But if
political cynicism and desperation grows among the people, the generals will
be able to read correctly that their return to power will be welcome.

The main sticking point would be the reaction of the donors, who keep most
of these poor countries afloat with cash handouts. However, the donors have
failed to shepherd most of their client regimes toward civil and enlightened
behaviour, nor have their "partnerships" improved economic conditions
noticeably in many places. It's doubtful they will have the moral authority
to restrain political actors in the long run.

For these reasons, I think we could be moving to the Second Coup Age in
Africa in a few years. In another 10 years, we might have as many military
governments in Africa, as we have freely elected ones.

Charles Onyango-Obbo is Nation Media Group's managing editor for convergence
and new products.


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Zimbabwe campaigner wins top award

      By a Correspondent

      ZIMBABWEAN campaigner, Shane Lunga, has won a major British charity
award for his work surrounding initiatives on rebuilding the country whose
economy has been in a major freefall since 2000. Lunga, a British-based
Zimbabwean, won the Sheila McKechnie Foundation award given to exceptional

      The Foundation, whose patrons include British Chancellor of the
Exchequer, Gordon Brown, gave out awards to individuals leading campaigns
that further economic justice. Lunga, founder of Zimbabwe Futures, a
UK-based organisation promoting plans for the country's revival, beat off
competition from many other contenders involved in national and
international pressure groups.

      The awards were judged by a panel of leading campaigners and policy

      Accepting the award, he said: "I'm honoured to have been given this
award. I will use it as a platform to highlight the needs of a country that
is fighting for survival. Millions of Zimbabweans are fighting poverty and

      He said Zimbabweans all over the world need to start thinking about
life about the Zanu PF government, how they can re-build and restore the
country to a level where people have equal access to resources.

      "We need to prepare for the day when this dictatorship leaves power
and the task of rebuilding Zimbabwe can begin. We have to start planning now
for the creation of a health service that can prevent and treat AIDS; for an
economic recovery plan that will create jobs and a democratic settlement
that will ensure that the human rights abuses of the Rhodesian and ZANU era
never happen again," Lunga said.

      Gordon Brown, one of the Foundation patrons also spoke at the awards
ceremony last night. He said:  "Campaigning is a central part of our
democracy. For decades we have had well-established national organisations
who have fought for social justice in areas like homelessness and
international aid. However I want to empower grassroots activists who don't
have the backing of massive networks and paid staff. This is why I support
the work of the Sheila McKechnie Foundation to give training and advice to a
new generation of campaigners, to help them make the difference locally,
nationally and internationally."

      Zimbabwe Futures is promoting a four-point plan for the country's
revival. The key points are getting Zimbabwe's skills back home. The group
says donor support for new incentives for key workers like nurses and
private sector managers to return home in a new political dispensation need
to be worked on now.

      In a new Zimbabwe, ZF also wants the new European trade agreements to
enable Zimbabwe to protect infant industries. The HIV/Aids pandemic is one
of the major issues that need to be dealt with for Zimbabwe to recover from
its political and economic doldrums. Major investment in its health delivery
system, including universal access to anti-retroviral treatments for those
with a clinical need

      ZF is also spearheading campaigns for initiatives to promote and
enforce human rights to prevent a reversion to dictatorship.

      Zimbabwe Futures was founded in 2004 and its board comprises British
and South African-based Zimbabwean exiles. It was established to campaign
for a support package for Zimbabwe in preparation for a democratic
transition of power. Zimbabwe Futures is not campaigning on issues relating
to the current constitutional and humanitarian crisis but looking ahead to

      Said Lunga: "We need Zimbabweans around the world to start thinking
about how we can prepare for the revival of our country. It is better to
have no opportunity but have a plan that to have an opportunity but no plan.
Look at Iraq for instance, where there was no clear plan on how to rebuild
the country. With the right recovery plan I am confident that Zimbabwe can
indeed have a future."

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More dead bodies, more guns as 2008 poll looms

      By Bill Saidi

      RECENT incidents featuring dead bodies and guns seem to presage a 2008
presidential election campaign filled with the mayhem of the 2000
parliamentary poll campaign, when more than 40 people were killed.
      The guns, ammunition and other paraphernalia of that ilk were found in
Mutare. Sensationally, the government media described them as an arms ache.
Yet, at the end of it all, they belonged to one man, a gun dealer, the
holder of a legitimate licence to deal in arms.
      In the aftermath of the "discovery" of the arms cache, Didymus Mutasa,
who is in charge of national security, warned those dabbling in such
activities that they would be "eliminated".
      It reminded me of Stan Mudenge, then the foreign minister, predicting,
with undisguised relish, that the mercenaries nabbed as they tried to
deliver arms to Equitorial Guinea for a planned coup, "could be hanged",
      Later, the police, lying in wait for a gang of armed would-be robbers,
shot dead two of them, in circumstances which some people thought smacked of
a bunch of trigger-happy officers without the patience to either wound the
robbers or order them to surrender before opening fire on them.
      Of course, the police could have followed the routine drill in such
situations: warned the armed men to lay down their arms or face the
consequences. This does not detract from the oft-heard criticism that the
police can be trigger-happy when confronted in this way.
      But they had the would-be robbers at a distinct disadvantage: they had
been tipped of their approach. The element of surprise would logically have
allowed them enough time to pounce on the men, and disarm them without
firing a shot.
      As I said, they might have done all this, but may have had to deal
with the robbers decisively after the latter started firing at them. What
prompted some of us to question the validity of the police action was the
publicity surrounding the incident.
      The government television network interviewed people who generally
called for the police to shoot first and ask questions later, if they were
faced with such a situation in the future. It reminded me of a situation
which developed in Dar es Salaam a few months ago. The police were shooting
suspected armed robbers at the drop of a coin, literally. Anxious citizens
began to wonder if this was not tantamount to cold-blooded murder.
      The line between the two can be very thin indeed: in most such cases,
police offers are advised to shoot to disarm or to disable the robber, not
to kill them, unless their own lives are in danger.
      What made these events relevant to the prospects of a violent
presidential election campaign was the reaction, later in the month, to the
results of the elections in Harare at the so-called anti-Senate faction of
the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), led by Morgan Tsvangirai.
      Tsvangirai was re-elected easily, as many people had expected. Only
those in Zanu PF and the pro-Senate faction could have expected that
Tsvangirai would lose. Most of this was wishful thinking, or an analysis of
the MDC split which deliberately ignored Tsvangirai's large constituency, if
compared with that of Professor Welshman Ncube, Gibson Sibanda or - if you
are really hard-up - that of Professor Arthur Mutambara,
      The vice-president of Zanu PF, Joseph Msika, reacted with
characteristic venom to Tsvangirai's speech after his victory. He called the
former trade union leader "a fool".But there was also a curious sentence in
Msika's speech, according to the government mouthpiece, The Herald:
      "When President Mugabe is ready to go and rest, he will come to you
(the people). If you say no, he will continue in office."
      Msika did not elaborate: Mugabe is constitutionally expected to step
down in 2008, having served the requisite two terms as president of the
republic. .
      The succession debate has been raging for some time, but so has the
prospect of the party asking Mugabe to stay on - for reasons which the
country at large is not privy to.
      Certainly, it couldn't be related to what a good job he has done so
far. The country is now a basket case. But other African presidents have
forced themselves on their people for a third term.
      The only reason could be that if Mugabe stepped down in 2008 Zanu PF
would crumble and would thus enable the MDC and Morgan Tsvangirai to step
      Admittedly, it would not be a picnic for them. By that time, there
probably would be no economy to speak of as even the money to buy paper on
which to print more money would have run out.
      But if the MDC was banned or if Tsvangirai was imprisoned on one or
two trumped-up charges, Zanu PF would not have to go to suc extreme lengths
to stay in power. If the MDC faction they had to contend with was only
Mutambara's, they wouldn't have to sweat too much.
      Moreover, Zanu PF now probably feels that it has no reason to appear
to be reconciling itself to its fate, particularly on the economic front. In
the immediate future, it can expect no injection of balance of payments
assistance from the International Monetary Fund (IMF). The government still
owes the IMF US$119 million, even it had paid the US$9million it owed to
another of the IMF's nest of fund sections.
      So far, neither Herbert Murerwa nor Gideon Gono, who attended the IMF
meeting at which the sad news was delivered, have disclosed to an anxious
public what this means to the economy, in the long-term. Evidently, they are
at a loss to explain why, initially, they both seemed to insist that the
payment of the US$9 million would mean the end of the IMF sanctions against
      Perhaps both men may feel that this is too big a potato for them to
handle: The Boss, Mugabe himself, would be better placed to shed light on
the tragic turn of events.
      Here, we hit a brickwall, because in recent weeks, Mugabe has made few
public appearances.
      Mutasa represented him at a belated 82nd birthday party for him in the
Midlands. A curious statement by Mutasa was to the effect that although
people seemed to blame Mugabe for their woes, he was not personally
responsible as this was the fault of his cabinet colleague's incompetence.
In his birthday interview last month, Mugabe had said as much, describing
most of his colleagues as non-performers or under-performers.
      Moreover, Mugabe's absence from the public view has made many citizens
wonder if their country is being run by an absentee president. The
vice-presidents, Joice Mujuru and Msika, are all over the country,
addressing this or that field day or party conference.
      Mugabe was last seen when he wondered aloud why teachers were paid
such a meagre salary it was only a few thousand dollars more than an
ordinary labourer's.
      Critics wondered, in turn, how the president could be unaware of the
salaries of a section of the civil service whose work has been praised
lavishly for giving the country one of the highest literacy rates in the
      Before this, after another long absence from public view, Mugabe spoke
at a Danhiko function during which he mounted his favourite racism hobby
horse. For many people, whose boredom with the racist rhetoric of the
immediate post-farm invasion period is well-known, his remarks seemed to
indicate how out of touch he was with what preoccupies the people today -
how to make ends meet.
      Mugabe could be seriously ill, although in the past this has always
turned out to be a misguided conclusion, based mostly on wishful thinking
among many people.
      The man is 82 years old and his health cannot be as robust as it was
ten or 15 years ago. Yet he must be rated as one of the healthiest African
heads of state of this millennium.
      At the same time, it is not entirely out of character for Zanu PF to
be reticent on the subject of Mugabe's good health or the lack of it. Mugabe
himself has not been unequivocal on his retirement. He has by no means been
categorical; always, there has been a rider - only if that is the wish of
the people.
      Msika's remark has to be read in this context: has Mugabe finally
decided that he will not step down in 2008? If so, why? It can't because he
feels he has not accomplished his mission. Whatever it was he has had enough
time to accomplish it. There is no chance of five more years making any
      The violence of 2000 must not be repeated; it was so needless and set
back the country's chances of achieving its economic and political goals by
perhaps ten or 20 years.
      Zanu PF must not be allowed to plunge the country into more violence
for the sake of hanging on to power. The task of the present generation is
to ensure that future generations inherit a country which achieved its full
potential to be a great economic and political state in the community of
      Not a half-baked dictatorship, led by a very old Marxist-Leninist,
whose economic survival is anchored almost entirely on the printing of money
whose value diminishes by the minute.

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Groups snap at Mugabe's human rights watchdog


          March 28 2006 at 05:58PM

      Harare - Zimbabwean groups on Tuesday slammed as a farce a human
rights watchdog proposed by the government of President Robert Mugabe, which
has been criticised for its human rights record.

      "Whilst celebrating the government's glance of light, we totally
reject their proposal to amend the constitution to institute their
theatrical commission," the Crisis Coalition amalgam of civic and rights
groups said in a statement.

      "In the presence of executive powers as granted in the current
constitution, any so-called independent commission will be fiction, and
Zimbabwe does not need fiction but the pleasure of democracy under a new
constitution," it said.

      Earlier this month, the southern African country's human rights record
was ranked among the world's worst, according to the United States state
department's annual Report on Human Rights Practices for 2005.

      Zimbabwe was the only African country ranked alongside North Korea,
Burma, Iran, Cuba, China and Belarus, considered to be nations where
political power is concentrated in the hands of rulers who are not

      In its report on Zimbabwe, Washington cited the continued muzzling of
the privately owned press, government corruption, executive influence and
interference in the judiciary, life-threatening prison conditions and
politicisation of state apparatus.

      A state weekly quoted Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa as saying
Zimbabwe would soon set up its own human rights commission as part of its
"quest to create a culture of human rights".

      The proposed human rights body will have the mandate to receive,
investigate and redress any complaints relating to human rights, Chinamsa

      The National Constitutional Assembly - a coalition of civic groups,
opposition parties, and church bodies - threatened to protest the move.

      "This time we are prepared to take the state head-on over that matter
in the streets and in the courts," assembly chairperson Lovemore Madhuku
said, adding that the rights situation in Zimbabwe had worsened over the
past six years. - Sapa-AFP

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Government owned Zimbank purging workers who own shares

      By Lance Guma
      28 March 2006

      Workers at the state owned Zimbabwe Banking Corporation (Zimbank) have
alleged that management is carrying out a purge of all workers who hold
shares in the bank. The workers under the auspices of Finhold Services
(Private) Limited (Finserve) - the company holding their shares - say
management is still ignoring a Supreme Court ruling ratifying the sale of
shares to them. A new board running the bank and led by Dr William Mudekunye
has since 2001 been trying to reverse the transaction but to no avail. This
resulted in the matter going to the courts with the workers winning.

      Lionel Saungweme in Bulawayo now reports that several workers are
being fired in separate but related incidents in a bid to dilute Finserve's
influence. Workers interviewed say those with shares are being targeted. In
1996 Finserve purchased Z$16 million shares courtesy of a loan from
Intermarket Building Society. At the time this was a substantial amount of
money. The agreement contained a clause that after 5 years these
preferential shares would convert to ordinary Finhold shares. Finhold
(Financial Holdings Ltd) is a shareholder in Zimbank. The Financial Trust of
Zimbabwe owned by government however is the major shareholder.

      Of major concern is that ever since the Supreme Court decided the
workers share purchase was legal, Zimbank has not paid out any dividend to
Finserve. Management at the bank is quoted in several other media as saying
they have already set up an empowerment vehicle that is set to co-opt
Finserve into its structure. Insiders however say bank bosses are not happy
about having workers with a dual role both as employees and shareholders.
Most of the workers championing Finserve's interests are being fired or
suspended from the bank.

      SW Radio Africa Zimbabwe news

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Joyce Mujuru's record on women's rights criticised as WOZA marks anniversary against police brutality

      By Violet Gonda
      28 March 2006

      Members of Women of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA) will gather in prayer in
Bulawayo on Wednesday to mark the anniversary of the arrest and brutal
treatment of over 260 women at the hands of police in Africa Unity Square
last March.

      The women are also challenging Zimbabwe's first female Vice President
Joyce Mujuru to defend the rights of women. The group asks; "Where was she
when riot police beat women and trampled them? Where was she when they were
denied access to food and lawyers? Where was she when they had to sleep in
an open courtyard with their babies? Where was she when they were denied
access to toilets?"

      This is the second time this week that Zimbabwean women have
castigated Mujuru for not speaking out or doing something to help the plight
of women. The women's assembly of The Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions has
been forced to pay duty of US$7,000 on a shipment of much needed sanitary
pads that was donated by international supporters. Spokesperson Tabitha
Khumalo said this is despite the fact that many women are being forced to
use newspaper or leaves as an alternative.

      The WOZA women say that is why "She must show us if she is woman
enough to defend women and their human rights of dignity and peaceful
assembly. We believe that she must know, in prison or no, Zimbabwean women
are not free!"

      WOZA Coordinator Jenni Williams says many of the activists who were
detained last year are still suffering medical complications and distress as
a result of the beatings they received. Over 1000 women, 20 of whom with
babies strapped on their backs had gathered in Harare for a prayer vigil for
peaceful elections when armed riot police violently broke up the gathering.

      Many of the WOZA activists were arrested and detained overnight in an
open courtyard at Harare Central Police Station. A statement from the groups
says as the police officers arrested women they beat them with baton sticks.
Over 30 had to be treated and 9 hospitalized for severe beatings to their
backs and thighs. Some of the injuries were inflicted when police officers
made women lie down on their stomachs and then walked over them with booted

      More women were arrested later that day as the police drove around
central Harare picking up groups of women who were still en route to the
venue and those who had sought refuge in the waiting room of the railway

      Williams said the women have waited in anticipation to see if the Vice
President would answer their pleas but said her stance is shown in her
silence and inaction.

      The outspoken activist said; "Nobody doubts that she has credentials
of a liberations war veteran. But when you research and read the books about
women's role in the liberation struggle you are not clear that it was also a
genuine fight for equality that led us to the Zimbabwe of 1980. And now in
2006, as she wants to become President, we are still questioning her
credibility, her legitimacy as someone who should have championed, during
the liberation struggle and now, the struggle for equality of women."

      The WOZA women will begin their anniversary activities at St Marys
Cathedral in Bulawayo on Wednesday. A similar prayer service will be held in
Harare on 31 March.

      The women who say they are affiliated to no political party say the
focus of last year's vigil, "was to pray for peace during the post election
period and to pray for divine intervention to prevent the results being
manipulated as reported in the 2000 and 2002 Elections."

      They were released after the night in custody and charged with
obstruction under the Miscellaneous Offences Act.

      SW Radio Africa Zimbabwe news

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UN food aid programme borrows money to feed needy in southern Africa

UN News Centre

28 March 2006 - The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP), which is
feeding more than 9 million people in southern Africa this month, said today
that was forced to borrow $113 million to ensure that the region's needy did
not starve during the critical lean season from January to April.

The agency said it took the loans on which it still owes some $36 million,
from a mechanism that allows it to borrow against expected donor
contributions because, even though it had persistently appealed for
assistance during the second half of 2005, pledges of food and cash lagged
well behind needs.

"If donations are not made quickly enough, we have the financial systems in
place to help ensure people do not starve," Mike Sackett, WFP Regional
Director for Southern Africa, said. "But these loans cannot be repeated if
the international community does not step in to repay them.

"Loans of this magnitude are only taken if serious consequences, such as
loss of life, appear likely and there are no other options," he added.

Southern Africa is in the acute phase of a long-term emergency due to a
combination of HIV/AIDS, food insecurity and the governments' weakened
capacity for delivering basic social services, according to WFP, which calls
this combination the "triple threat."

Countries in southern Africa have 9 of the 10 highest HIV/AIDS prevalence
rates in the world, forcing many families to choose medicines over seeds and

The region also has endured a four-year drought, broken last month by heavy
rains in Malawi, Mozambique, Zambia and Zimbabwe that have brought on
flooding, displacing thousands of people, exacerbating cholera and malaria
outbreaks, and washing away newly planted crops.

WFP said that the area is probably heading towards its best harvest in years
but several million people will still need assistance, particularly orphans
and those affected by HIV/AIDS, and the agency cannot assist them until the
outstanding loans are repaid.

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Scores of Exporters Blacklisted

The Herald (Harare)

March 28, 2006
Posted to the web March 28, 2006


THE Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe ( RBZ) has blacklisted scores of exporters in
the past three weeks for contravening exchange control regulations, an
official said yesterday.

In an interview at an exporters' meeting held at a local hotel, the RBZ
division chief for export facilitation, foreign exchange, mobilisation,
market liaison and administration, Mr Paul Sigauke, said that the central
bank was cracking down on errant exporters. "The Reserve Bank is not happy
with some of the exporters that are failing to comply with export rules, for
instance in the past 21 days we embargoed a number of exporters after they
failed to remit foreign currency receipts during the required duration," he
said. Mr Sigauke said that many exporters were failing to declare CD1 forms
prompting the RBZ to implement stern penalties. "We are aware of problems
that are being faced by the exporters but it is important that they inform
us of their challenges before the central bank acts on them," said Mr
Sigauke. The CD1 forms refer to information from exporters on foreign
currency receipts, which should be given to the central bank as a proof of
payment by external clients.

Mr Sigauke, however, declined to provide the number of firms that have been
blacklisted. "The figures will remain a secret as we try to restore normalcy
in the operations of those firms that have been found on the wrong side of
the law," he said. "The exporters are important in enhancing hard currency
generation and this is one of the major reasons we continue to tighten
screws in their activities," he said. The Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (Zimra)
regional manager for Region 2, Mr Jephat Mujuru, said that exporters should
be committed towards the revival of the economy. "Exporters are an important
element in the economy and Zimra expects them to abide by the stipulated
laws," he said.

Mr Mujuru said that Zimra was assisting exporters in exploiting the Common
Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (Comesa) and the Southern Africa
Development Community ( Sadc) markets. "Both the Sadc and Comesa trade
protocols are important to exporters because they will have an opportunity
to access many markets duty free," he said. Mr Mujuru said that Zimra was in
talks with the business community on proposals to add value on exports.
"Zimra is interested in ensuring that exporters get the necessary
information on the external markets and plans are in progress to fulfil that
objective," said Mr Mujuru. He said that the Plumtree border post would soon
operate on a 24-hour basis to increase Zimbabwe's exports to Botswana.
"Plans are at an advanced stage in ensuring that the Plumtree border post
will operate on a 24-hour system with effect from August," said Mr Mujuru.

An economic consultant and member of the RBZ advisory board, Dr Eric Bloch,
said that exporters should adhere to the exchange control regulations. "I
believe that exporters can generate the foreign currency required in
importing essential commodities such as maize, wheat and fuel," he said. Dr
Bloch said that exporters should diversify products and services to avert
risks of concentrating on a single commodity. "The Sadc and Comesa regions
provide a market base for more than 200 million people and it is up to the
local exporters to take the proper measures in exploring profitable market
niches," he said.

The meeting was attended by officials from the Ministry of Industry and
International Trade, Zimbabwe National Chamber of Commerce, Shipping and
Forwarding Agents' Association of Zimbabwe, ZimTrade, the Ministry of
Finance and the Matabeleland Chamber of Industries.

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Three Years At Wha Wha

Paul Themba Nyathi
From Conscience be my Guide: An anthology of prison writings
Edited by Geoffrey Bould, Published by Zed Books Ltd and Weaver Press
March 2006

Paul Themba Nyathi was a member of the ZAPU provincial executive in
Matabeleland before Zimbabwe's independence. He was suspected of recruiting
guerrillas, and was twice arrested before finally being placed under
indefinite detention from 1976 to 1979. In 1999 he became a founding member
of the national executive of the Movement for Democratic Change. He was
arrested and held in police cells for four days in early 2003.

On my first arrest, in 1974, I was interrogated in relation to recruitment
of guerrillas for the ZAPU army, ZIPRA. The white officer was well informed
about our activities, but when he couldn't get anything from me he handed me
to two black officers who assaulted me. But they seemed to be impressed by
the fact that I answered back to their insults and eventually simply let me
go. At least at that time in the cells we got two meals a day, the cells
were relatively clean and the toilets were flushed every hour. I sensed a
professional attitude on the part of the police. We didn't expect much from
them because we knew they were an instrument of an oppressive regime. We
felt like heroes for being arrested, and we expected that the war would soon
be won.

The attitude continued when I was arrested and sent for indefinite detention
in 1976. I was detained under the state of emergency and interrogated for
two weeks at Grey Street prison.
I was amazed at the information they had, including details of a visit I had
made to Lusaka in 1965. Although I had indeed been recruiting guerrillas,
they could not pin anything on me, so could not charge me. The interrogating
officer advised me to admit to things which were not an offence, such as
visiting Zambia, so I did. The regime was meticulous and only took to court
those cases where they had overwhelming evidence because the courts were
quick to throw out any which were not well substantiated. As a result I was
sent to detention rather than being brought before the courts where I could
have been sentenced to death if found guilty.

The three years at Wha Wha were a period of intellectual growth for me. At
first we were crowded - about 30 in a barrack designed for twelve - but soon
a new barrack was built. We were comfortable, doing our own cooking,
flushing our own toilets; we grew vegetables and played volleyball. We were
allowed visitors five times a week. Food was standard, including meat and
vegetables, rice, cooking oil, and were supplemented by the Red Cross.
Sometimes we even gave food to our relatives to take away. There was a
clinic run by the Red Cross, so we probably got better medical care than our
families outside.

During our detention we were able to read lots of books, and study. Some who
went into detention illiterate came out with a basic education. We debated
endlessly about how we could create the new Zimbabwe. Once I debated at
length across the fence with Enos Nkala, and we agreed that indefinite
detention was one out of the cruellest punishments and it would never be
done in a free country. Yet his party and he as minister continued with this
practice when they were in power. I learned a lot by observing the behaviour
of some of our leadership. It was a warning for the future. While some
displayed humility others played the role of petty dictators, making rules
that exempted them from duties of prisoners, insisting that others take the
burden from them.

One thing that was noteworthy was that the state recognised that we were
political opponents. There was no attempt to criminalise us. Furthermore,
they conceded that detainees were entitled to certain basic rights and were
respected as human beings.

What I saw when I was arrested under ZANU(PF) was quite the opposite. I was
arrested and detained for four days at Bulawayo Central Police station,
where I had been in 1974. I saw an amazing disregard for basic human
dignity. The cells were unbelievably filthy, a rag which was once a blanket
was caked with human vomit and excrement, the stench from the overflowing
toilet was overwhelming, and these seemed to be a sadistic appreciation of
the role played by hoards of mosquitoes. The toilet was being flushed from
the outside regularly, but since it didn't work, it seemed a useless
exercise. In four days I was never given food by the police - I had to be
fed by colleagues from outside. I shared my food with several young boys who
had been arrested for stealing maize cobs. No one knew they were there and
they had not eaten at all for two days.

Under an independent African government one would expect more sympathy and
respect for the prisoner than under colonial rule. But rather I found a
callousness that resulted in a deliberate degradation of other human beings.
There is no acceptance of legitimate political opposition, but rather a
determination to criminalise it. Beyond this there is a total indifference
to a malfunctioning system. No one bothers to repair what doesn't work, or
to correct any wrongs. There has developed a culture of neglect, with
completely de-motivated officers. No one among the police seemed to take
pride in their work or even care about it. They only take pleasure in
dehumanising their prisoners.

Who can explain the brutality of black police officers against black
prisoners in an independent Zimbabwe? The work of looking after prisoners,
of depriving them of freedom, is itself degrading and can lead to abuses. If
it takes place within a supervisory system which itself has no respect for
human dignity, individual officers will do anything with impunity. Can we
blame it on the brutalisation experienced during under colonial rule? I don't
know, but I can say for certain that it was not what we experienced when
being held by Smith's police and prisons and it is not what we expected when
we were fighting for freedom in Zimbabwe.

We fought relentlessly against white minority rule out of a conviction that
a black government would better appreciate the dignity of the black
majority. The moral blameworthiness of a black government that dehumanises
its own people is worse than that of a white minority government. In the
case of the former the sense of betrayal is complete.

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A Strong Conviction

Lovemore Madhuku
From Conscience be my Guide: An anthology of prison writings
Edited by Geoffrey Bould, Published by Zed Books Ltd and Weaver Press
March 2006

Dr Lovemore Madhuku, a lawyer, is the chairperson of the National
Constitutional Assembly (NCA), a civic organisation in Zimbabwe working for
the adoption of a new constitution as an essential element in establishing a
true democracy. Since 2000 he has been in police custody twenty times,
either for a day or overnight or for several nights. He has never been
charged with any offence but has been brutally beaten and, on one occasion,
left for dead in the bush.

I first became aware of the government's attitude towards peaceful civic
protest during the civil service strikes of 1996. At that time I had just
returned from Cambridge and was working with the trade unions. Over time I
became convinced organised peaceful resistance was needed to push for
constitutional reform.

But what really made me fully committed was the arrogance of the government
when we, in the newly founded NCA, met their representatives led by Edison
Zvobgo in 1999. They totally ignored our point of view and dismissed us
saying: 'You can go to hell. If you want, you can go and get guns and fight
in the bush. We fought for these things and there are limits to what you
ordinary people can have.' I realised how serious our situation was and,
inspired mainly by Nelson Mandela, I decided I had to become fully involved
in a new struggle for Zimbabwe.

The NCA started an education programme about the need for a new constitution
and backed this up with peaceful demonstrations. It was then that I began to
be repeatedly arrested. Sometimes they got wind of a meeting or a
demonstration before it took place and they came for me. At other times they
would come when the meeting or demonstration was in progress. Or they would
say they were informed about the speakers. I became fully identified with
the cause, inspired by the feeling that what we were doing was right and
convinced that I had no alternative but to be engaged in this new struggle.

I soon found that I had crossed the threshold of fear in the sense that I
became strong through resisting. You cannot theorise about these things and
say I can face the police. No, you just get involved and then you face the
situation at the time. Sometimes when you alert people to the risks they say
it is not worth it. But it is worth it. Until things happen you don't know.
Once I was badly beaten up and thrown to one side. I found I had no feeling
of fear.
Then you discover it is worth it. There was another time when we were
marching towards Parliament and there were all these police with dogs. I
cannot believe the strength I found. We just went on marching.

I am not saying I am never afraid of state force and what its agents can do
to me. But I have discovered that they have no power to subdue me. You can
get depressed but quickly you can overcome this by a strong sense of
conviction that what you are doing is right. My conviction that I am doing
the right thing is my strongest weapon against fear. I have felt alone at
times and I worry about my wife and children. But then I have this sense of
doing what is right and this carries me through. There could be 99 against
me. But then God always ensures that there is one person who will come and
whisper that he believes what I am doing is right. Or he might say 'your
relative came and was not allowed to visit you.' Or 'we are trying to get
you into a better cell.' One gesture means more than the 99 who just go with
the crowd.

Also, those 99, they make mistakes in the way they put their case. Their
anger betrays them. The way they defend an evil system betrays them. They
show they don't know what freedom is. Can you imagine: 24 years after the
end of the war Parliament wants to pay people for going to war. These people
put across values that are not values at all. They say there will be
elections but there is no evidence that they will be free. You meet young
people who have no idea what a constitution is or what human rights are. So,
once again, you get so convinced you are fighting for the right things.

During our liberation struggle there was a clear goal. Though we were often
divided among ourselves we were united in a common noble purpose: to win the
freedom that would allow us to follow our own destiny. Today that freedom
has been snatched away from us again and we are in thrall to a lie. We are
told to believe that we live in a free Zimbabwe and that our elections are
'free and fair.' The reality is that there is no freedom - either in
elections or the press or in the media. And many of our people have become
accustomed to the lie. Some are actually convinced that the situation is
normal. I have found that I am not only repeatedly put in prison by the
state but that the whole nation is a prison - and some think it is normal.
Zimbabweans have to overcome the mindset that says, 'I cannot take the risk
of getting involved.' We will not have success in one day. There will be
setbacks. But we want to build a broad foundation of convinced people who
take a conscious decision to take risks and overcome their fear.

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Row over Mutambara's popularity in Harare

      March 28, 2006,

      By Tagu Mkwenyani

      Harare (AND) TWO days after pro-senate leader, Arthur Mutambara
addressed a star rally in Harare, a row has erupted over poor turnout at the
meeting, which was seen as a test for the opposition leader's support in

      TWO days after pro-senate leader, Arthur Mutambara addressed a star
rally in Harare, a row has erupted over turnout at the rally, which was seen
as a test for the opposition leader's support in Harare.
      Critics charge that the robotics professor turned politician was left
badly exposed by a low turnout while his aides maintain their president was
well received in Harare. The row comes at a time when Harare is abuzz with
reports that residents snubbed Mutambara, who had literally walked into the
den of his political rival, Morgan Tsvangirai.

      While organisers had promised to stage a coup over Tsvangirai by
drawing a large crowd of MDC supporters, the rally turned out to be a
low-key event, which did not generate much excitement among ordinary people.
Witnesses say it was easily eclipsed by the anti senate congress which drew
15 000 MDC activists to the capital. Late in afternoon on Sunday after
Mutambara addressed his rally, members of the anti senate faction were
sending text messages to each saying the rally had flopped. There were
reports that less than 1 500 people had turned up.

      The state owned daily paper, The Herald which carried a story about
Mutambara's rally yesterday put the figure at only 800, fuelling speculation
this may have reflected Mutambara's little support in the capital. However
officials in the pro-senate camp are determined to limit the political
damage this may have caused to their leader who wants to be the undisputed
leader of the opposition. "The MDC President, Professor Arthur Mutambara
addressed an ecstatic and jubilant crowd of more than 5000 people at
Huruyadzo shopping centre in Chitungwiza, as Tsvangirai's thugs tried in
vain to disrupt the rally. A group of about 100 hired thugs singing and
hurling abuses at the huge crowd tried in vain to disrupt the rally," said
Morgan Changamire, the Deputy Secretary for Information and Publicity of the
pro-senate faction.

      Changamire blamed Nelson Chamisa, the spokesperson of the anti senate
group for sending text messages to some Zimbabweans, giving false figures of
attendances at their rallies. "He (Chamisa) appears to have struck some
unholy alliance with a known public newspaper that is now using his
unresearched statistics on rally attendances to mislead the nation."
Changamire said that "no amount of political hallucination or twisting of
facts by understating figures of our rally attendances, will change this
fundamental fact. That the people of Zimbabwe are no longer interested in
leaders who fiddle with crowd figures in order to mislead the nation about
their waning popularity."

      Chamisa could not be reached for comment but he earlier said the low
turnout showed only Tsvangirai was the opposition leader who enjoyed the
mandate of the suffering masses of Zimbabwe to bring about change.

      Harare (AND)

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Zimbabwe plans to grow herbs as substitutes for ARVs

      March 28, 2006.

      By Tagu Mkwenyani

      Harare (AND)Zimbabwe plans to grow indigenous herbs on state farms to
be used as substitutes for hard-to-get anti-retroviral drugs.

      Faced with crippling foreign currency shortages, the Zimbabwe
government is planning to grow indigenous herbs that would substitute anti
retroviral drugs in the treatment of HIV/AIDS patients.

      Details about what appears to be desperate measures to fight the
HIV/AIDS pandemic have emerged at a time when millions of Zimbabweans are
failing to access the vital drugs. Health experts estimate that just about
12 000 Zimbabweans may be accessing drugs when, in fact, over 3 million
people require the life saving drugs.

       Launching a booklet about nutrition for HIV/AIDS patients in Harare,
Edwin Muguti, the deputy Minister of Health and Child Welfare, said
government was taking extra ordinary measures to ensure that HIV patients
got medicine. He revealed that government would acquire farms where the
drugs would be grown but he could not provide more details about the
ambitious programme. Said the minister: "We have entered a new era in the
HIV and Aids epidemic both in terms of treatment and prevention and it is
important to realise that antiretroviral therapy is only one component of a
comprehensive HIV and Aids programme.

      "No matter how many ARV's are pumped into the country there will be no
results unless other issues are addressed, we should not look at ARV's as
the panacea." The minister's announcement comes at a time when the
Zimbabwean government has embarked on yet another ambitious programme to
solve the fuel crisis making use of available resources. Under the
programme, communities and farmers are encouraged to grow a jatropha crop
whose seedling would be processed into diesel, a commodity hard to come by
in Harare due to crippling foreign currency shortages. Critics have however
scoffed at the "fire fighting measures" saying they were doomed to fail
unless government addressed human rights issues and restored investor
confidence among many other corrective measures.

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Death Knell Sounds for Zimbabwean Cricket

Institute for War and Peace Reporting

The total collapse of the game matches the country's overall decline.

By Tino Zhakata in Harare (AR No.53, 7-Feb-06)

In the context of what is really important, the game of cricket comes very
low on most sane people's lists.

However, its calamitous disintegration in Zimbabwe is a symbol of the wider
collapse of a country, which was once Africa's "breadbasket", but is now the
continent's basket case - something so flawed that it is almost beyond help.

The country has the world's fastest declining economy, with inflation
approaching 600 per cent. It has seen nearly a million poor people driven
from their homes in the government's Operation Murambatsvina (Operation
Drive Out the Filth). Some 5000 mostly white-owned commercial farms have
been confiscated and given to loyalist supporters of President Robert Mugabe
in government, the judiciary and armed forces.

In just the last few weeks, Zimbabwe Cricket, the game's governing body
here, has lost its Test Match status, and now the domestic game finds itself
without any Test-class players and probably soon without any professional
cricketers at all. Its remaining thirty-five first-class cricketers have
gone on strike in protest against corrupt administration and because their
fees and salaries have not been paid for several months. Most plan to quit
the country.

"It is without question the nastiest mess professional cricketers have ever
found themselves in during peace time," said leading British cricket writer
Scyld Berry.

Unfortunately, it is an only too familiar Zimbabwean crisis. It surfaced
during the 2003 World Cup when Henry Olonga, Zimbabwe's first black
international cricketer, and his white colleague Andy Flower, the country's
greatest ever batsman, took to the field in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe's second
city, wearing black armbands "to mourn the death of democracy in our belovèd

It continued when the country's remaining top world-class cricketers, such
as Flower and his brother Grant, Heath Streak, Sean Ervine and some fifteen
others, quit Zimbabwe, citing racism among administrators, especially from
the managing director of Zimbabwe Cricket, Ozias Bvute, Mugabe's personal
enforcer on the national cricket board.

When a board member questioned why President Mugabe was Zimbabwe Cricket's
patron, Bvute threatened him, "If the member knows what is good for his
health, he will desist from asking such questions."

The game in this country effectively died when its young Test captain, the
brilliant 22-year-old Tatenda Taibu, fled the country last December to
pursue his career in Bangladesh, citing the fact that he and his family had
been physically threatened by a cricket official following his allegations
of maladministration by Bvute and Zimbabwe Cricket chairman Peter Chingoka.

Now the country's residual first-class players, none of whom would get into
any of the world's nine other Test Match teams, have gone on strike. Their
complaint is mainly about unpaid fees and salaries totalling around a
million US dollars. Zimbabwe's leading human rights lawyer, Beatrice Mtetwa,
is representing them in a High Court action against Zimbabwe Cricket in an
attempt to release funds.

At the same time, former national coach Phil Simmons, a former top West
Indian Test batsman, is suing Zimbabwe Cricket for illegal dismissal last
August and seeking reinstatement of his salary of 10,500 US dollars a month.

Zimbabwe Cricket offered to pay off the cricketers' arrears in increasingly
worthless local Zimbabwe dollars at an old rate of 25,000 to one US dollar,
when the real rate on the street is now more than 150,000 to one US dollar.
The government, awash with inflation, has just issued a new 50,000 dollar
banknote. It sounds a lot, but it is not even enough to buy a loaf of bread.

"I'm sure that the taking of legal action signals the end for cricket in
Zimbabwe," a former international player told IWPR.

And Clive Field, the players' representative, said, "Zimbabwe Cricket has
really had it now. The players are simply walking away. Some have made it
clear they want to get their dues and pursue their careers elsewhere."

The country's best Test Match fast bowler, Tinashe Panyangara, has been
signed by a minor English club, Holton-le-Clay, in the Lincolnshire League.
He is finalising his work permit with the British authorities.

Dion Ebrahim, currently the most experienced Test player and the country's
former vice-captain, is quitting to pursue academic studies in Britain.

Plans by Douglas Hondo, a fast bowler and perhaps the country's most popular
cricketer, and Prosper Utseya, at 20 one of Zimbabwe's most promising young
internationals, to relaunch their cricket careers abroad are at advanced

Players have made plans to leave the country because they are unsure that
even if they win their court case that Zimbabwe Cricket has the money to pay
them. The board made huge losses last year despite receiving substantial
payments from the Dubai-based International Cricket Council, ICC, which runs
world cricket. Last December, the homes of Bvute and Chingoka were raided by
Reserve Bank fraud squad investigators. They were grilled about alleged
misuse of foreign funds, totalling some 22 million US dollars, earned by
Zimbabwe Cricket from Test matches and one-day internationals. The two men
have not been prosecuted.

Even before the players decided to quit en masse, Mugabe had killed the game
stone dead. In early January, he told the government to take over Zimbabwe
Cricket - in defiance of ICC regulations that national administrations must
not be in government hands. Mugabe appointed a senior army man, Brigadier
Gibson Mashingaidze, chairman of the government's Sports and Recreation
Commission, to run Zimbabwe Cricket.

Mashingaidze immediately sacked all Asian and white administrators in
Zimbabwe Cricket and withdrew the country from Test Match cricket before the
other nine members of the ICC demanded Zimbabwe's expulsion. Brigadier
Mashingaidze said Zimbabwe would continue to play one-day internationals,
but without any first-class players that will be impossible. Already the
West Indies and Pakistan are considering suing Zimbabwe Cricket for failing
to fulfil contractual obligations by sending the country's best cricketers
on impending and long-planned scheduled tours to those two countries.

After the government took over cricket administration, players'
representative Clive Field said, "I think we're stuffed, more stuffed than
we've ever been. If this is the bunch that's going to help deliver cricket,
I don't know what they are going to be delivering at the end of it.

"I don't think it's going to be cricket. It's going to be a corpse."

Tino Zhakata is the pseudonym of an IWPR contributor in Zimbabwe.

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