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

Zimbabwe to slash 3 more zeros from currency in black market crackdown

International Herald Tribune

The Associated PressPublished: November 23, 2007

HARARE, Zimbabwe: Zimbabwe prepared Friday to slash three more zeros from
its currency for the second time in a year, as inflation soars in the
crippled economy.

Central Bank Governor Gideon Gono said after months of planning, the issue
of new currency bills was "imminent," state television and radio reported.

The television showed a sample of a new 500 Zimbabwe dollar note. The
highest existing bill for 200,000 Zimbabwe dollars becomes 200.

"I know the zeros we removed last time came back quickly but this time we
are doing it in such a way they will not return," Gono told a televised
meeting of banking and business leaders. He did not elaborate.

Zimbabwe has suffered chronic shortages of local cash this month that
created long lines at banks and automatic teller machines not shut down by
the daily power outages.

Gono accused speculators of hoarding cash, saying the new denominations
would replace the old in a changeover lasting a day or two.
He said holders of cash needed to urgently deposit it into the formal
banking system "before it turns to useless manure." Banks and finance houses
were asked to extend their business hours to accommodate depositors.

The state Central Statistical Office said Thursday its monthly announcement
of official inflation scheduled for early November still was not ready, but
an independent business weekly newspaper said leaked figures showed official
inflation at 14,800 percent, up from 8,000 percent in early October that was
then by far the highest in the world.

A government order in June to reduce inflation by slashing prices of all
goods and services by half left shelves bare of the corn meal staple, bread,
meat, cooking oil, sugar and other basic goods. It also worsened acute
gasoline shortages.

This month prices of available goods generally exceeded prices before the
June 26 directive after a series of price increases were permitted to
restore the viability of supplies from producers and manufacturers.

Independent estimates put inflation at close to 40,000 percent this month,
and the International Monetary Fund has forecast it reaching 100,000 percent
by the end of the year.

Store executives said supplies of food and small luxuries such as Christmas
chocolate, paper crackers and cheap toys normally stocked in November have
not resumed despite Central Bank loans to producers at 25 percent interest,
compared with general interest rates of around 600 percent.

The state daily newspaper, The Herald, one of the cheapest items on the
market, doubled its cover price to 300,000 Zimbabwe dollars on Wednesday.
That is 25 U.S. cents, or €0.20, at the dominant black market exchange rate,
or US$10 — €7 — at the official rate.

The last changeover to new currency triggered a buying spree of luxuries as
Zimbabweans offloaded spare money before it became obsolete.

This time around, there are few luxuries to buy.

According to the state broadcaster, Gono warned the switch to new money
would be "swift and precise" and was not a bluff to scare hoarders to put
their cash back into the financial system.

He said in efforts to combat black market money dealing, police and Central
Bank surveillance teams were watching for bulk deposits and will demand
details of the source.

"Where no convincing proof is rendered, the money will be frozen at zero
interest in anti-money laundering bonds for a minimum period of five years
pending investigations," he said.

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Of cash and dealers

HARARE, 23 November 2007 (IRIN) - Just when life could not become any harder
for Zimbabweans, who are already having to cope with food and fuel shortages
and rocketing prices, local banks have run out of notes.

Long queues of people waiting to draw cash have been a common sight outside
banks for the past two weeks. "Yesterday I came here at 4 a.m. but by 3
p.m., when the branch closed, I had not managed to get anything," said Janet
Sibanda, who lives in the capital, Harare.

The crisis has inevitably bred a new kind of dealer, providing cash for a
commission. They include bank tellers who moonlight as currency sellers
after work, illegal foreign currency dealers, shop managers and even sports
administrators, who receive cash after matches.

"Sometimes these people ... charge you as much as 40 percent of what you
need, meaning that if you ask for Z$200 million (about US$143), you can only
receive Z$120 million (about $86)," said John Kangai, a self-employed

"People are taking advantage of others because of the prevailing economic
crisis, but that is not fair. I am struggling to make ends meet and the
greedy are seeing an opportunity in the crisis to make quick and lazy

A parallel market cash dealer, who identified himself as Jeff, defended the
practice, saying, "You need to be well-connected for your life to run
smoothly." He claimed he sourced currency from tellers working at various
financial institutions, and usually used local currency to buy foreign
currency, which he also traded for a higher price on the parallel market.

Blame seasonal demand

Gideon Gono, governor of the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ), has
acknowledged the cash crisis but said it was a sign of the demand for money
as the Christmas season approached.

"This is not to say we cannot do anything," he told businesspeople and
journalists at a briefing on 20 November. "We have pumped a lot of money
into the market through various interventions, which is not supported by
production ... and we are waiting to see what happens."

He urged companies handling large amounts of cash to surrender it to banks.
The RBZ said Z$58 trillion (about US$41 million at the parallel market rate
of US1 dollar to Z$1.4 million) was in circulation.

While individuals cannot draw more than Z$5 million (about US$4), companies
have to contend with a maximum withdrawal of Z$20 million (about US$14),
which used to be the limit for persons making ordinary withdrawals.

History repeating itself

Despite his insistence on 20 November that the central bank would not
interfere, the following day Gono announced that Zimbabwe would introduce
new bank notes to replace the bearer cheques (essentially, money printed on
ordinary paper) introduced as a temporary measure in 2003. He did not say
when the new currency would be introduced, but stressed that the "time has
now come that swift measures be taken".

Zimbabwe's currency was devalued in late July 2006 when the Reserve Bank
carried out a sting operation, introducing new notes with three zeros
knocked off that took thousands of bulk cash holders by surprise and wiped
out the savings of many ordinary people. The new notes were an attempt to
halt the economic meltdown and relieve Zimbabweans from carrying wads of

The exercise, codenamed Operation Sunrise 1, forced people to surrender
their old notes to the Reserve Bank in an unrealistically short space of

The prevailing cash problems are similar to those of 2003, when banks almost
ran out of cash, forcing the government to introduce short-lived traveller's
cheques that could only be used locally. Gono took over as RBZ governor in
December 2003 and replaced the traveller's cheques with the bearer notes.

Hyperinflation the cause

Inflation is so intense that people need up to six times the amount of money
that they required a month ago to buy the same commodity. On the other hand,
the RBZ has stopped printing more money because, I understand, their
printing machine has broken down

Eric Bloch, an economist and consultant to the RBZ, said the cash crisis was
mainly due to hyperinflation. "Inflation is so intense that people need up
to six times the amount of money that they required a month ago to buy the
same commodity. On the other hand, the RBZ has stopped printing more money
because, I understand, their printing machine has broken down," Bloch told

Zimbabwe's inflation rate is officially pegged at almost 8,000 percent - the
new rate has yet to be announced - but various independent economists have
put inflation at nearer to 15,000 percent. The prices of basic commodities
increase almost every day.

Besides having the highest inflation figure in the world, Bloch said, "there
is no doubt that a huge amount of the cash is circulating outside the
financial system". Foreign currency rates in the parallel market have been
rising sharply, he pointed out, costing larger wads of Zim dollars.

Critics blame Zimbabwe's seven-year economic crisis on the government's
mismanagement: the ruling party accuses western powers of "sanctions" to
force regime change.


[This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations]

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Gono's statement on cash shortages betrays his attitude

By Tererai Karimakwenda
23 November, 2007

The state's own newspaper The Herald has reported that the Reserve Bank
Governor Gideon Gono said he was in no rush to address the cash crisis that
has gripped the nation, and has ordered anyone 'hoarding' money to turn it
in to the formal bank system or lose it. The RBZ chief is usually described
as a ZANU-PF moderate who cares more for the people and country than other
ruling party die-hards. But his statement this week betrays an attitude
quite opposite to this.

The Herald quoted him as saying: "With immediate effect, all holders of
excess cash must deposit the same back in the formal system in order to
avoid serious and perilous losses when their hoarded loot turns into useless
manure." Instead of addressing the issues central to why many people are
staying away from the banks, Gono instead chose to intimidate them into

University of Zimbabwe lecturer and political commentator Dr. John Makumbe
views Gono's statement as a classic sign of bad governance. He said: "There
is no economic solution which will work unless the political crisis is
sorted. And sorting out the political crisis means regime change."

As we reported, Harare residents have been sleeping in bank queues because
cash is running out due to the extremely high inflation. Our Harare
correspondent reported that many soldiers and civil servants failed to get
their salaries last week after banks totally ran out of cash. The Herald
report admitted the RBZ had reduced daily cash allocations to the banks. It
is therefore the responsibility of the Reserve Bank and Gono himself to fix
this mess.

The severe shortages and extremely high cost of all basic commodities has
required Zimbabweans to move around with large bundles of cash just in case
they bump into some sugar, maize meal, cooking oil or bread. This is also
contributing to the shortage of cash in the banks.

According to The Herald, Gono also announced that currency reforms had been
deferred to a later date, perhaps next year. The report advised cash holders
not to draw any comfort from this, warning that "Dr. Gono is one of too many
surprises" and might introduce new currency sooner without much warning.
Does this mean hundreds of thousands of people losing all their savings is
what the doctor ordered?

Zimbabweans are simply responding to the situation that exists and trying to
survive under these difficult conditions. Again it is the responsibility of
the government to pursue policies that will resolve the crisis. And experts
agree that until the broader political issues are dealt with, no economic
genius, including Dr. Gono himself, can fix the economy.

SW Radio Africa Zimbabwe news

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Grabbing below the surface

The Economist

Nov 23rd 2007
From the Economist Intelligence Unit ViewsWire

More disastrous government initiatives in Zimbabwe

The Zimbabwean government has published legislation that will force
foreign-owned mining companies to transfer majority shareholdings to local
interests. The draft law, which is likely to be submitted to parliament
before the end of the year, states that miners will be expected to give 25%
of their shares to the government for free, while a further 26% will be paid
for with future earnings. In one sense this doesn't come as a huge surprise:
the mines minister announced almost exactly the same plan in early March.
This prompted a furious reaction from mining houses, which insisted that
they were prepared to sell-not give-up to 30% of their shares to local
interests, but that they were not wiling to cede effective majority (and
management) control. Given that mining is one of the country's few remaining
foreign-currency earners, industry sources pushed the line that Robert
Mugabe's administration was having second thoughts after being told just
what nationalisation would mean for the industry. Even at the time, however,
government sources denied this, saying merely that the precise formula of
nationalisation had yet to be finalised.

Miners are not the only companies facing further operational difficulties,
since retailers have been given until November 22nd to sell imported stock
at existing prices; from henceforth, however, they must set their prices
based on the government's official exchange rate, of Z$30,000:US$1, rather
than the parallel-market rate, which is currently around Z$1m:US$1.
According to the National Incomes and Pricing Commission, which issued the
order, retailers must show what price they paid in foreign currency for
imported goods; this will be converted at the official exchange rate and a
50% mark-up will be added to arrive at the retail price. Although no new
legislation has been passed or new government order gazetted, officials warn
that any retailers found breaking the order face punishment, and as nearly
30,000 retailers have been arrested and fined for breaking price controls
imposed in June, businesspeople have little doubt that the threat will be
carried out.

The new order is expected to have a severe impact, on supermarkets and other
large retailers in particular. They have already lost profitability because
of the price cuts imposed on basic goods at the low end of the market. Now
they face new restrictions on prices at the upper end of the market. Shops
have already ordered and paid for imported goods they had expected to sell
at a profit during the December holiday period, but the new order will
prevent that.

The directives underscore the extent to which the Mugabe government is, in
effect, making up policy as the economic crisis deepens, and the way in
which policy is being driven by short-term, political considerations. This
trend will clearly worsen in the run-up to the March 2008 elections:
government spending is likely to rise, banks will come under pressure to
hold (or reduce) interest rates and increase lending to distressed
businesses, and the administration will persist with efforts to treat the
symptoms, if not the root cause, of inflation.

Thereafter, much will depend on the complexion of the new government. There
is no realistic chance that the ruling Zimbabwe African National
Union-Patriotic Front will lose the polls, but it is possible that there
will be political change after the elections if, for example, Mr Mugabe
decides, or is forced, to retire. In this eventuality donors would try to
get the government to follow a three- to six-month staff-monitored programme
with the IMF, hoping to return Zimbabwe to an orthodox policy path. It is
more likely, however, that economic policy will remain chaotic and
piecemeal, with price and wage controls imposed and then lifted, and the
dollar periodically "revalued". Certainly, the orders to the mining and
retail sectors suggest that there is little that the government is not
prepared to do to shore up its position, no matter what the long-term

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

As Mbeki flies out, CIO tortures 22 NCA activists

By Henry Makiwa
23 November 2007

As South African President Thabo Mbeki flew out of Harare, 22 activists from
the National Constitutional Assembly were severely tortured by state
security agents and ruling party enforcers, at Zanu PF headquarters on

The 22 NCA activists had taken part in a demonstration near Mbeki's
motorcade earlier in Harare. Alongside an estimated 400 others they marched
and chanted across town, denouncing the compromise agreement between Zanu PF
and the MDC, which led to the constitutional amendment that harmonised

Police later arrested 22 of the protesters and released them after they had
paid fines at Harare Central Police station. According to one of the victims
it was then that a minibus, suspected to be owned by the dreaded CIO, pulled
over and they were forced into it. They were then taken to Zanu PF's Jongwe

15 suspected secret service agents and Zanu PF militiamen then submitted
them to eight hours of torture. This included being forced to stand on their
heads for an hour, being beaten under the feet with metal bars and large
wooden planks, cleaning out toilets with bare hands, and being made to roll
naked in a mixture of ash and broken glass.

At least ten of the activists have been admitted to Dandaro clinic in
Harare. According to Melusi who was one of those who were tortured, the
activists' main "sin" was to attempt to embarrass Mugabe in front of Mbeki.

Melusi said: "The treatment they gave us was shocking, inhumane and
horrific. Who would have known that Zanu PF has touture chambers at its
offices? I doubt that some of my friends will be able to walk anytime soon
because they were badly beaten under the feet. The irony is that we were
tortured while Mbeki was in the country to make updates on the progress of
the talks between the MDC and the ZANU PF regime. The assaults came hardly
hours before Mugabe vehemently denied that violence still exists in Zimbabwe
and claimed that it is a figment of the opposition so as to please its
western masters."

More concern has been raised by observers after Mbeki and Mugabe were
pictured holding hands at Harare International Airport on Thursday. This has
renewed doubts about Mbeki's impartiality and his suitability for brokering
the talks between the ruling party and the opposition.

SW Radio Africa Zimbabwe news

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

No changes on the ground as Zanu PF manipulates talks

By Lance Guma
23 November 2007

As Zimbabweans debate the progress of talks between Zanu PF and the MDC in
South Africa an analyst working for the Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition says
Zanu PF is playing games with the opposition. Pedzisai Ruhanya, the group's
Programmes Manager, says months of talks have gone by with the MDC having
nothing to show for their participation. He argued that in contrast Robert
Mugabe has managed to use Constitutional Amendment 18 to solve his own
succession dilemma. The act allows him to handpick a successor.

He said there was an urgent need to deal with the administrative body that
will run next years election including the creation of a conducive electoral
environment for all parties. Nothing substantive has happened in this
regard. To make matters worse the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission which is
packed with Zanu PF sympathisers has gone on to appoint soldiers, CIO's and
other party supporters to the Delimitation Commission. The commission is
meant to redraw electoral boundaries and has in the past been used to
manipulate voting patterns in favour of Zanu PF. A lot of issues to do with
the composition of the ZEC, the voter's roll, ballot papers and polling
stations still remain unclear.

In fact what has happened is that Zanu PF has ignored all the concerns
raised by the MDC, Ruhanya said. Asked why the MDC was still participating
in the talks despite such a gloomy picture, he said it looked as if they
wanted to see how the process will end. He however reiterated that as long
as state institutions were not demilitarized, structures like the Border
Gezi militia disbanded and a free media created, participation in the
election was ill advised. Violence in the country continues unabated,
opposition rallies and meetings are disrupted, as are protest marches, which
are brutally crushed by riot police.

Behind the scenes Ruhanya's pessimism seems to chime with information coming
from those close to the talks. It's alleged that one senior Zanu PF delegate
to the talks privately confessed they were just buying time by engaging the
MDC and had no real desire to change the political environment. Pressure
from SADC regional leaders culminated in Thabo Mbeki being appointed to
broker a negotiated settlement between the two parties this year. His
closeness to Mugabe has however fuelled speculation the process is meant to
legitimise another rigged election in favour of Mugabe.

SW Radio Africa Zimbabwe news

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Press Statement on the brutal assault on NCA members

23 November 2007

THE National Constitutional Assembly (NCA) is deeply worried and deplores
the manner in which the police brutally assaulted 22 of its members
yesterday after they took part in a demonstration against Constitution of
Zimbabwe Amendment (Number 18) Act.

The 22 NCA members are being treated. A minibus owned by the CIO picked them
up randomly at different points in the CBD and took them to Harare Central
Police Station where police took turns to brutally assault them.

The police then released them at midnight. An ambulance was sent by the NCA
to pick them up and take them to hospital but the police barred it from
carrying them. This was despite the fact that they had been 'released' from
police custody.

The irony is that the 22 were assaulted while South African leader Thabo
Mbeki was in the country to make updates on the progress of the talks
between the MDC and the ruling ZANU PF regime. The assaults came hardly
hours before Mugabe vehemently denied that violence still exists in Zimbabwe
and claimed that it is a figment of the opposition so as to please their

The NCA wishes to make it known that these acts of repression will not deter
it from its cause. The deadly attacks by the regime on 11 March, 25 July and
22 November have actually strengthened our cause. The struggle continues,
and we are indeed ready to die for a new, democratic and people driven

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Talks stalled over Biti boycott

By Tichaona Sibanda
23 November 2007

It has emerged that MDC secretary-general Tendai Biti walked out of the SADC
sponsored talks three weeks ago and has been refusing to take part in the
negotiations unless Zanu-PF ends its orgy of violence against the

A highly placed source in the MDC told Newsreel on Friday that Biti walked
out and gave the Zanu-PF negotiators an ultimatum - that he would only come
back when hostilities stopped. The source said the MDC was on the verge of
pulling out of the talks completely, forcing Mbeki to summon Morgan
Tsvangirai and Arthur Mutambara to Pretoria last week to discuss the

'There has been no progress in the last three weeks and our
secretary-general was totally dissatisfied with the excuses he had been
getting from Zanu-PF until he decided to act. This is why you saw President
Thabo Mbeki of South Africa becoming directly involved when he flew into the
country yesterday (Thursday),' the source said.

MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai hinted about the problems when he revealed in
Kampala, Uganda on Wednesday that the talks had stalled. It's now been
reported that Mbeki got an undertaking from both parties Thursday, that they
would resume talks as soon as it was possible.

The issue of violence was discussed at length in Mbeki's meetings with
Robert Mugabe and the two factions of the MDC and the MDC gave him a dossier
of cases involving violence against its members.

Retired army colonel Bernard Matongo said the MDC should not return to the
talks without an undertaking from Zanu-PF that they would stop the violence.

'In a war situation whenever there are talks, hostilities stop. So this
shouldn't be a problem for Zanu-PF to stop their state sponsored violence
against the opposition because they are not at war with anyone,' Matongo

According to Matongo the regime is in denial about the violence and the only
way the MDC should go for elections is if SADC sent monitors six months
before an election. He explained that the MDC should demand that Mugabe
pushes back the elections by six months, to provide a transitional period to
implement any agreements that arise from the talks.

SW Radio Africa Zimbabwe news

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

MDC faction says 'external forces' want to see Mbeki fail

New Zimbabwe

By Lebo Nkatazo
Last updated: 11/24/2007 01:26:01
A FACTION of Zimbabwe's main opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC)
has backed South African President Thabo Mbeki's mediation effort to end
Zimbabwe's political crisis, while warning of "various external forces"
mobilising to disrupt the dialogue.

The MDC faction led by Arthur Mutambara said it had "faith in SADC and in
African institutions and processes as primary vehicles for the resolution of
African problems."

The remarks came after President Mbeki's Thursday trip to Zimbabwe to meet
leaders from both MDC factions. The fleeting stop's centrepiece was a
meeting with President Robert Mugabe - the first time the two had met
outside multinational summits since regional leaders asked Mbeki to mediate
between the ruling Zanu PF party and the MDC seven months ago.

The two MDC factions don't always agree on the extent of progress being made
at the talks, with the other faction led by Morgan Tsvangirai - seen as more
amiable to western countries -- expressing marked scepticism about the
process and questioning Zanu PF's sincerity.

Tendai Biti, the faction's secretary general, said after the meeting with
Mbeki on Thursday: "We highlighted that violence against citizens occurs
everyday, our meetings are still being banned. Everyday what the government
is doing is illogical to logical intended goals of the dialogue."

Mugabe, speaking to journalists also Thursday, suggested the MDC's message
on violence was probably intended for its supporters in western capitals
keen to assail his government and prove Mbeki's mediation effort as a
time-wasting sideshow.

"That's the usual accusation from the MDC," Mugabe said. "What basis do they
have for raising that matter in the dialogue that is taking place? Maybe he
(Tsvangirai) wanted to confer to his friends whoever they are.We wonder
whether he raised the issue of the recent violence in his party.I don't
think he raised that issue as he told his friends about the ills of my

The Financial Times newspaper reported Friday that Mbeki is hoping to unveil
a fledgling accord before the EU-Africa summit in Lisbon next month.
Diplomats believe that Mugabe is keen to go to the Lisbon summit clutching
some form of deal enabling him to argue that Zimbabweans are addressing the

Professor Welshman Ncube, the secretary general of the MDC faction led by
Mutambara and also one of the opposition party's negotiators, on Friday said
"tremendous progress" had been made, the clearest signal that their initial
scepticism about the talks was giving way to optimism of a breakthrough
following provisional agreements with Zanu PF ahead of key presidential and
parliamentary elections next March.

Zanu PF and the MDC have been negotiating around five agenda items,
including a new constitution for Zimbabwe, reform of electoral laws, reform
of security laws, and reform of media laws, in particular the Access to
Information and Protection of Privacy Act (AIPPA) and the Broadcasting
Services Act.

Ncube said the talks had now entered "a final and decisive stage".

President Mbeki left Zimbabwe saying he was "very confident" that a deal was
imminent. He is expected to brief Commonwealth leaders at a summit in Uganda
this weekend over the progress of the talks. Zimbabwe withdrew from the
Commonwealth after it was suspended in 2002.

Western countries, notably Britain and the United States, have reluctantly
backed Mbeki's mediation effort while turning up the diplomatic heat on
President Mugabe who is accused of employing violence against his opponents
and mismanaging the country's economy.

President Mugabe accuses western countries of pursuing a "regime change"
agenda, and says they would like to see Mbeki fail.

Only last week, the South Africa-Zimbabwe Joint Permanent Commission on
Defence and Security claimed there were "forces, internal and external,
which through misinformation and disinformation are bent on undermining the

South Africa's Defence Minister Mosiuoa Lekota said southern African
countries faced a "very real challenge" of regime changes encouraged by
foreign powers.
His Zimbabwean counterpart, Sydney Sekeremayi, specifically fingered former
colonial power Britain, saying "it would not come as a surprise if Britain,
the chief architect of regime change agenda in Zimbabwe, makes a last ditch
attempt at derailing the talks."

Sekeramayi said: "They are rubbishing the progress that has been made so far
and say, no, there must be regime change - which is the agenda they are

And in its statement on Friday, the MDC faction led by Mutambara appeared to
back this by saying it had "noted with deep concern the various external
forces which appear to have been mobilised and are in turn mobilising
internal forces to derail the successful conclusion of the SADC dialogue."

"While noting the infancy and imperfections of African institutions as
vehicles for the resolution of African conflicts, problems and challenges
the National Working Committee appealed to the international community to
respect African institutions and processes and to assist them to develop
solid foundations as instruments for the resolution of African conflicts,
problems and issues," said the MDC statement.

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Mugabe clan psyche up masses


Nov 23 2007 10:46 AM
Chris Muronzi
Harare - Forget jingle bells and Christmas carols.In fact, jingle bells have
been replaced by propaganda musical jingles encouraging the "masses" to farm
to the fullest this year. After announcing that Zimbabwe is set for a major
economic boom next year, President Robert Mugabe's government did not want
to leave anything to chance - it launched a "motivational" jingle to psyche
up new and communal farmers to make the 2008/09 agricultural season "the
mother of all agricultural seasons".The musical, which was performed by ZANU
PF political commissar and Minister Without Portfolio Elliot Manyika, who
has little to no talent in music, is being aired approximately 12 times (288
times/day) in an hour on all state radio stations.This is not the first time
the Zimbabwean government has turned to propaganda in its bid to win the
hearts of the electorate or when selling an ambitious idea.Now, out of work
and sidelined ruling party musicians, who helped drum up support for Mugabe
throughout his archaic land reform programme and disputed 2002 presidential
polls campaign, could soon find their pockets bursting at the seams again.
Work hardBut analysts say "motivational" jingles alone can turn around the
country's agricultural fortunes adding that if the sector does not perform
as planned, it could leave Mugabe with a lot of egg on his face.Others say
the government wants every able bodied Zimbabwean to get the message - work
hard this year and "shame our detractors" as Mugabe put it.The government
hopes that an improved agricultural performance will impact positively on
the manufacturing sector, particularly the agri-based industry and somehow
increase exports and foreign currency earnings.Zimbabwe says growth of 28.6%
was anticipated in the 2008/09 season.Mugabe handed out over 70 000 ox-drawn
ploughs and 50 000 harrows and has placed orders with local manufacturers to
continue supplying more ploughs and harrows.The "mechanisation" programme
and the provision of subsidised inputs, according to the government, will
help turn around the country's agricultural fortunes after years of falling
output.The troubled country launched a land reform exercise which displaced
over 4 500 white commercial farms. Since the exercise seven years ago,
agriculture has taken a down turn.Inflation is now believed to be above 15
000%, the world's highest. Mugabe's critics believe he is single-handedly
responsible for the country's economic decay. - Fin24

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Bulawayo faces refuse collection crisis

By Henry Makiwa
23 November 2007

Garbage collection in the country's second city of Bulawayo will now only
happen once a month, the city's authorities have said. Bulawayo's city mayor
on Tuesday told the press that the shortage of garbage collecting vehicles
and the scarcity of fuel in the country has forced the city to resort to
clearing refuse only once a month.

The city, already reeling from a diarrhoea outbreak as a result of water
shortages, now faces a major health hazard as garbage has been piling up
around the city. Health experts say Bulawayo has recorded over 3,600 cases
of diarrhoea since the disease hit the city in August 2007. They warn that
uncollected refuse could create a rodent problem, which could expose
residents to other diseases.

Once again Robert Mugabe's economic mismanagement has emerged as the root
cause of the problem. The fuel crisis currently gripping the country has
been cited as the main cause of Bulawayo's decision to limit garbage
collection. The lack of foreign currency to acquire spares for its refuse
collection fleet of vehicles has compounded the crisis.

Bulawayo resident Mr. Zenzele said an acrid stench has now enveloped most of
the high-density suburbs, where refuse has not been collected for the past
three weeks.

He said: "We understand that fuel supplies from the National Oil Company of
Zimbabwe to our city council are erratic and inadequate to meet the needs.
To make matters worse, local authorities - like our city - are not allowed
to purchase fuel on the black market. The government says it is illegal. We
now face a severe health crisis."

The government's clear inability to handle Zimbabwe's economy means that
long suffering citizens cannot expect any immediate solutions to the many
crises they now face..

SW Radio Africa Zimbabwe news

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition Alert

23 November, 2007


The Alternative Civic And Voter Education Campaign will be holding yet
another 'Rock Da Vote' concert on the 24th of November 2007 at St Mary's
Hall in Chitungwiza. The list of performers will incorporate the following
artists; Iyasa, Sandra Ndebele, Stunner, Sniper, Patience Musa, Extra-Large
just to mention but a few.

The musical campaign, which is targeted at the youth to take an initiative
to participate in the electoral and political process through voting, has
covered areas like Mutoko, Bulawayo and Harare where positive responses was
eminent. The Coalition aims at employing the youthful genre of dance and
music to communicate effectively to the youth on their rights to be a part
of national processes which affect their lives.

The Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition (Coalition) calls upon the people of
Chitungwiza to attend the concert in their numbers and take pride in shaping
the future of Zimbabwe. "A better future with an inspired vote

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Mapfumo dismisses Mbeki mediation process

By Henry Makiwa
23 November 2007

Legendary Chimurenga musician Thomas Mapfumo has dismissed efforts by South
Africa President Thabo Mbeki to broker talks between Zanu PF and MDC as

Mapfumo said the Zimbabwean crisis required an internal settlement devoid of
foreign hands, to achieve a long-term resolution. He said the involvement of
the international community only serves to benefit the foreign powers

The Chimurenga maestro is currently on a tour of England to promote his
forthcoming album, Exile. The UK tour is Mapfumo's first in over two years
after problems with obtaining visas for himself and his Blacks Unlimited
band. He performs in Leicester on Friday and London's Stratford Rex arena
the following night.

Mapfumo said: "Mbeki is only taking part in these talks because he wants his
country to benefit from the cheap labour Zimbabweans give South Africa when
they flee from their country's economic crisis. He knows Zimbabwe's
suffering is South Africa's gain. The onus and right for self-liberation
remains in the hands of Zimbabweans themselves. We are the one who live in
that country, see the suffering. It is up to us to free ourselves. It is not
a matter of who is better Mugabe or Tsvangirai; to me they are both as bad.
You can't trust a politician."

Speaking from his Leicester hotel, Mapfumo exclusively told us that plans of
a long-awaited collaboration with Oliver Mtukudzi, that fans have been
craving for, is on the cards. He said discussions between his
representative, Al Green and Mtukudzi's manager Sam Mataure were already in

Mapfumo's Chimurenga music has won him international acclaim and secured his
legacy at home. Mukanya, as his fans call him, now lives in the United
States in exile. Much of his music has been banned by Zimbabwean authorities
because it is seen as critical of the government.

SW Radio Africa Zimbabwe news

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

UK: Mbeki making Zim progress


23/11/2007 19:23  - (SA)

Kampala - South African President Thabo Mbeki is making good progress toward
hammering out a deal to hold free and fair elections in Zimbabwe, British
Prime Minister Gordon Brown's spokesperson said on Friday.

"We very much welcome President Mbeki's reconciliation initiative, which we
understand is making good progress," said Brown's spokesperson, Michael
Ellam. "We hope any agreement that is reached will be acted upon."

Ellam spoke at a summit of the Commonwealth, a 53-nation grouping composed
largely of Britain and its former colonies.

The group does not include Zimbabwe, which left the Commonwealth in 2003
after being suspended for widespread human rights abuses under President
Robert Mugabe.

Officials added Brown was sticking with his plan to skip an African-European
summit planned for next month in Portugal if Mugabe was present. Portugal
invited Mugabe, and Mugabe has said he would attend.

Mbeki, who stopped in Zimbabwe on his way to Uganda this week, has been
holding talks aimed at forging an agreement for elections between Mugabe's
ruling Zanu-PF party and the opposition Movement for Democratic Change.

On Wednesday, Zimbabwean opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai said the talks
had made progress, but called on the Commonwealth to monitor their progress
and ensure any commitments were honoured.

"I am confident that the agenda set through the (South Africa-led) mediation
will address the fundamental concerns around holding free and fair
elections," Tsvangirai said.

"But we want to translate those ideas onto something on the ground so people
can feel confident that the situation is safe; that there is a stop to

Zimbabwe is not on the official agenda for the three-day meeting that began
on Friday, but officials said the leaders were likely to discuss the issue

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Commonwealth Meeting Opens in Uganda


By Malcolm Webb
23 November 2007

The Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting opened Friday in the Ugandan
capital, Kampala. The meeting, known as CHOGM, was launched with a ceremony
attended by the Queen of England, President Museveni of Uganda and the heads
of other commonwealth countries. Malcolm Webb reports from Kampala.

The summit of the commonweath, a 53-nation group composed largely of Britain
and its former colonies, was opened by Britain's Queen Elizabeth Friday

Climate change is high on the agenda. Outgoing commonwealth chairman and
prime minister of Malta, Lawrence Gonzi, urged all countries to address the

British Foreign Secretary David Milliband said he hoped the commonwealth
would back a binding U.N.-based global framework for reducing emissions. But
diplomats said that Canada, a big oil-producer, would be likely to resist
such a tough statement.

So far, the summit has been dominated by Pakistan. Commonwealth leaders on
Friday suspended Pakistan for failing to lift a state of emergency and end
military rule.

Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni, speaking to the press Friday afternoon,
said CHOGM should be an opportunity for commonwealth nations to share a
perspective and move forward together. He was asked if Uganda's own
democracy was in line with commonwealth standards, following the removal of
presidential term-limits from the Ugandan constitution before his
re-election last year.

"The question of term limits is really not a strategic factor in terms of
democracy issues," said Mr. Museveni. "Forget about commonwealth. The
crucial factor is the people having the final say. Term limits really is
just a question either of history of given countries, or of convenience. It
is not in my opinion one of the crucial factors."

Ugandan political opposition members congregated at a government-designated
protest site outside the secure cordoned area in Kampala city center. Former
presidential candidate Kizze Besigye addressed a group of about 100 people.
The protesters then tried to proceed from the designated protest area.They
clashed with police wielding wooden batons. At least one policeman and
several protesters were injured.

Besigye is the leader of the main opposition party, the Forum for Democratic
Change. He lost to Museveni in the last presidential election, which he says
was not free and fair. Along with his supporters, he demanded that the
commonwealth address what he says are Uganda's democratic failings.

In an interview with VOA, he said the commonwealth is softer on Uganda than
on other member countries such as Zimbabwe and Pakistan, which have been
suspended. He accused the commonwealth of being inconsistent, and said that
the interests of its most powerful members came above protecting people's
political rights.

"Uganda now is praised for sending troops to Somalia, for which Britain and
other countries will be willing to overlook the gross violations," said
Besigye. "Uganda has invaded its neighbors, has plundered the wealth of
Congo, while the international community and the commonwealth was quiet.
Ugandan military and security organizations invaded the courts of Uganda,
[and] the commonwealth was quiet."

CHOGM continues until Sunday, when the heads of states are expected to
produce final resolutions on the issues discussed.

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Demystifying the Matrix of the Third Way; A Product of Failed Political Focus

23rd Nov 2007 17:03 GMT

By Sydney Chisi

THE mediation talks seem to be taking a new twist all together and Morgan is
finding the terrain very difficult as the crisis within his formation is
deteriorating at an alarming rate, whilst Zanu has shown that it was never
going to negotiate itself out of power neither was it willing to treat MDC
as an equal negotiating partner.

It is clearer now that Zanu has been in these talks so that it deals and
does away once and for all the issue of its illegitimacy. As drama unfolds
it is untrue that the current crisis within the MDC will grandly affect the
way people are going to vote, thanks to Zanu's media monopoly and the
jamming of radio stations such as Studio 7.

The pulse of the people on the ground is not going to be seriously affected
as the economic meltdown , cash shortages and shortages of basic commodities
are at the centre stage of people's needs and livelihood.

The media blackout that Zimbabwe has suffered over the years compounded by
the partisan stance that the state media has adopted, will mean that the
common person in the political process in Zimbabwe will be quick to dismiss
all allegations against MDC, and justify it by saying it is the work of the
CIO. Those people who are going to be affected are the ones who are
emotionally attached and have access to internal dynamics within the MDC.

The last ten eight years of MDC's existence, has taught the people the
tricks that the current regime can do to remain in power. All this becomes
an entry point for Morgan to solve the problems bedeviling the MDC as soon
as possible, before it degenerate to an extend that even the non suspecting
customers will begin to doubt the capacity of MDC as an alternative
democratic vehicle. Morgan should celebrate the existence of blind

It is with this background that the third way will remain a mirage, with
anyone imagining  that being unrealistic given the political climate, the
investment that the MDC has put into the electorate over the past years. The
idea of the third way is elitist and will remain so. This is because its
thrust is centred around the constitution as the means to an end of the
Zimbabwean crisis.

This means that, following that school of thought will ultimately mean that
justifying a new political force will be limited to academia, and those who
on their own small groupings can break down the matrix so as to answer the
needs and expectation of the general population of Zimbabwe.

These factors will mean that the thrust of mobilizing the people for that
agenda will be minimum as a movement can never be formed around the mistakes
of another movement. Zanu has a constant support base which is consistent,
on the other hand, MDC has a fragile but equally religious support base
whose electorate shifts between serious participants and vulnerable to

For the third way to be built enough to have a support base that challenges
any force in any election can only be done upon the collapse of MDC or Zanu,
not from a bunch of disgruntled members of the two forces. Third force does
not have the capacity to mobilize before the next election and without
individuals who currently appeal to the electorate

Looking beyond the people who might be given the mandate to lead the third
way as a product of the People's Convention can only come from already
organized movements. This puts and leaves the ZCTU and NCA as potential hubs
to which they can provide leadership for that third force, however if we
look at people like Wellington Chibebe or Lovemore Madhuku, they are
individuals who have tactically chose to be on the periphery of the party
processes whilst their own movements have been weakening as the democratic
space crushed for all those in the democratic movement.

Thus their life in the political arena can only be defined well if the
people's convention come up with clear political options and alternatives,
which would mandate a movement to be revamped.  The only people who can form
the third way and in conjunction with anyone who might be disgruntled from
Zanu especially are those with a political mandate, and Mudzuri is the
person at this particular time.

What I therefore seen is that any definition of a third force is in actual
fact the reconstitution of the leadership of the MDC with maybe a new name,
a discourse that has begun to take centre stage within the party corridors.
There are however chances that a reformed MDC could be on the cards soon
after elections where a 'special congress' might be held in the most likely
event that MDC loses those elections. People like Gorden Moyo of Bulawayo
Agenda, might take this time to be in the political limelight and join the

What we must all realize is that Zanu has 'intact' factions. From the Zapu
oldgurad vs Zapu extremists, Zvobgo Vs Muzenda and now the so called Mujuru
Vs Mnangagwa-Mugabe factions. It should thus be interesting to note that the
later faction is in actual fact nonexistent. It is typical of the Zanu
culture to which speculation becomes rife in the media more than in real

The so called Mujuru faction is a consortium of business people whose
interest is to keep political power, but more so their investments. What
they need thus is an economic solution rather than a political solution
centered on Mugabe. That is the reason why there is clear bad blood between
Joice Mujuru and Gedion Gono the Reserve Bank Chief.

What we should understand thus is whether Mujuru will be able to convince
the people of Zimbabwe without a Mugabe mask? Can Simba demystify the
rhetoric of sanctions, puppets of the west, in the event that he joins hands
with Morgan or he opposes Mugabe. There has not been any meaningful strategy
of exposing the ills of the current leadership in such a way that the
die-hard Zanu supporters will begin to see alternative leadership in the
Mujuru faction.

There is very little room left for any person to imagine a fall out within
Zanu since Zanu has already started campaigning for elections, with Mugabe
in picture as evidenced by the new campaigning regalia. MDC on the other
hand has been waking up to a shock as their energy is  on the talks,
clean-up process, compounded by a weak information and counter intelligence
strategy and overally a clear road map to which people can be currently be
rallying behind.

This kind of a situation has been left to deteriorate to the extent that
even the leadership of MDC started to see mediocrity, irrelevance, and that
the weak end became was Morgan as an individual and not MDC as an
organisation. As a leader, he did not make matters any good as he became
prone to misinformation and ill advice, a product of the secrecy and non
inclusivity of the mediation talks with dead wood ending up as his

This secrecy then brought out a product that many people assumed was
informed by the talks. In real terms Constitutional Amendment 18 is not a
product of talks, but of the Goromonzi Zanu congress of 2006. It was at this
congress that Mugabe realized that he was no longer popular, as his
candidature was not confirmed automatically as had been the case in the
previous pre-election sessions.

Between December 2006 and May 2007, we then witnessed  internal dynamics
within Zanu, to which Joice Mujuru lost the president's favour.

Chinamasa (a natural anti Mujuru fanatic, recall the Tsholotsho debacle) and
Munangagwa (Mujuru's competitor and Mugabe's  secret choice) were appointed
to deal with Mujuru technically and CA18 was the code. What then MDC agreed
to or claim to have changed in CA18, was a Zanu agenda, which they brought
to the talks as way of 'lightening up the stage' and not a product of how
the talks were proceeding.

The amendment to the electoral act as seen in the bill is beyond the talks
as Mugabe prepares for the EU-Africa summit in Lisbon. This can also be seen
by the hurried 'reconstitution' of the Media Commission and the team tasked
to deal with the Daily News case.

All these acts are a quest to give an impression that something is shaping
up because of talks, without Zanu being committed to it that is the reason
all these processes do not have a time frame attached. This and any
provisions of electoral law, requires a massive institutional reform and the
opening of citizen participation space.

The question then comes as to where we are as a people and as an organized
platform called the civic society. What we have failed to do over the years
is to make sure that as we supported the new democratic dispensation, with
the MDC as the political option, we failed to retain our role of being the

Being a watchdog the terms of reference is not only to educate people to
vote, citizen participation, decision making, gender mainstreaming, but that
of making sure that we define the technical route to which that population
would travel post conflict era. This means there is need for a serious
transitional framework formulation, not only to inform the MDC but to start
owning a process to which the donor community can entrust their funding
through organizations that understand political and economic dynamics in a
way that they would be able to influence policy in the new government.

Whilst the MDC has been working on different policies including its RESTART,
it is critical for the relationship of the civic society of Zimbabwe and the
MDC to be centred on such fundamentals and allow to a greater extend MDC's
influence and  to make informed political decisions. The role of the civic
society is thus to break down those policies and repackage them in such a
manner that it allows people to see the future, and more importantly what to
vote for if not whom to vote for. Whilst a new constitution could be one of
those frameworks, it is should be understood that even with a good
constitution there could still be systematic abductions, torture or

But how do we define transition in the Zimbabwean context?  To me
transition is beyond just having a new government, it is about dealing with
the current crisis of legitimacy that the current regime faces, and the
formation of governance structures that will make sure that government as a
functional unit is capable of delivering. This transition can only be
possible if MDC participates in the elections, and even if it losses,
possibilities of EU/US accepting the results are high so as to enable the
opening up of a platform of to which Zimbabwe can be able to move forward as
a nation.

Whilst it is clear that Mugabe does not have rich vein to produce expertise
to be ministers anymore, he might find it difficult to continue with his
recycling agenda. Thus a government of national unity might be the best
option so that he deals with delivering but his quest for legitimacy,  it is
about how that government will be prepared to do away with Zanu culture of
continuity on a destructive path, and allow the separation of powers to be

A weaker core (executive) and a strong periphery (judiciary and legislator)
should be the road map to which donor assistance can be prepared to assist
in post conflict transformation.  These aspects and that of demanding an
environment that will ensure a free and fair election should be core to the
civic agenda.

This thought will allow the new government to seriously strategies on its
short term plan of action, which includes dealing with confidence building
mechanisms at all levels of national development including the economy and
international community. The civic society thus should note that it has a
role to play beyond the coming of a new government, whether that government
is an MDC or Zanu (PF) government.

Thus Zimbabwe as a nation has a chance, whilst the democratic force has to
focus on their core priorities.

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Towards a new revolution: Terms for a new movement

23rd Nov 2007 17:07 GMT

By Freeman Forward Chari

THE possibility of a new invigorated dispensation in Zimbabwe is slowly and
progressively becoming real; that is if events and sentiments in the
political circles of late are anything to go by.

As the youth we are very conscious of the dearth in the current choices and
are keenly but cautiously transforming ourselves to be the drivers of any
initiative that seeks to retard the accelerated disintegration of the
ZIMBABWE WE SO MUCH LOVE. In this regard we have been faced by many
probabilities, possibilities and propositions that it has become necessary
for us to define the terms to which we can align with any new movement in

Anyone who wishes to include the youths and probably gain their support
should first of all define to us a number of points.

Firstly; there is need to clearly define the characters involved in such an
initiative. This way the youths get the chance to assess the seriousness,
commitment and eventually the level of faith they may render to the cause of
such a movement. Some people are well-known, perpetual, habitual looters and
abusers; thus transparency on characters enables the youths to make informed
decisions on whether to participate or not.

Heretofore, these characters should then lay out a proposed frame of
interaction with the youths. This should define the role the youths would
play in the movement. Would they be equal partners able to be given
leadership responsibilities or would they just be mere foot soldiers? This
definition of impending responsibilities allows for forecast of abuse and

These characters again should categorically describe their mission in
Zimbabwe. What interests they are pursuing, whose agenda and for whose
benefit. Clearly no movement can prosper if assembled based upon loose
values. To us, any movement that entertains hopes of solidarity from our
generation should value the principles of ZIMISM:

1 - Zimbabwe is a sovereign state whose independence shall never be tempered
2 - Zimbabwe comes first, Africa second and the World third
3 - Zimbabwe is for Zimbabweans, everyone else is a brother
4 - Zimbabwe is Zimbabwe by virtue of its boundaries, history and culture.

The voice of the people of Zimbabwe is the voice of God.

Having satisfied the above, there arises the need to define the terms of
interactions within the movement. Whilst the basis of alliance is guided by
the principles of Zimist nationalism, it is important that there be a
framework of interaction between classes and races in the movement. In this
regard; what would be the terms of association between the
peasant/proletariat and the landowners/industrialists. Whose struggle would
we be fighting? Do we want to create employment or do we want give the
industrialists the chance to have their business prosper again at the
expense of the worker?

 Any alliance that would be built between us (the working class/peasants)
and the landowners/industrialists should simply be aimed at making every
Zimbabwean prosper with the prosperity of the nation. This can only be
reflected through the trust built through comradeship and not through
exploitation even within the movement. As a condition the movement should
make an undertaking to reduce tax from the current 45% to as low as 5%; that
way the worker benefits from his toil.

In the same context, whilst we are equally Zimbabweans, there is need to
clarify the conditions for comradeship between blacks and whites in the
movement. Is this camaraderie built upon a common goal- to create a better
Zimbabwe for everybody or  is it based upon the presence of a common enemy?
Clarity of motives allows for trust and comradeship.

Having said the above, the youths are very willing to participate in the
struggle with anyone who genuinely shares the same vision, values and
ultimately ideology with them. As long as there is inter-generational
suspicion the youths would continue to pursue their objectives on their own
and more so unremittingly.

It is  time that the older generation engage us as equal partners in the
struggle otherwise because of the ample time on our side we will continue to
sustain our struggle patiently, cautiously and committedly  knowing fully
well that a genuine struggle is like a baobab tree; it shed leaves when the
conditions are not conducive but flourish as soon as the first drop of rain!

 Freeman Chari

Secretary General

Zimbabwe Youth Movement

Back to the Top
Back to Index