With inflation exceeding 1,000 per cent, unemployment more than 80 per cent
and about a third of the population in desperate need of food, Zimbabweans
could do with a decent opposition to Robert Mugabe's catastrophic tyranny.
Sadly, the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) and the Zimbabwe Congress of
Trade Unions (ZCTU) have proved unequal to the task.
The MDC has split into two factions, headed by Morgan Tsvangirai, who stood
against Mr Mugabe in the 2002 presidential election, and Arthur Mutambara.
Yesterday, after its leaders had been arrested, the ZCTU abandoned plans to
stage anti-government protests.
In South Africa and Zambia, organised labour plays an important political
role. The same applied to Zimbabwe in the 1990s, but today the ZCTU, through
which Mr Tsvangirai emerged to prominence, is a busted flush.
The same goes for the MDC. Mr Mugabe's determination to retain power,
buttressed by the repressive mechanisms of the state, has proved far
stronger than his opponents' will to wrest it from him.
With the opposition crushed at home, South Africa is best placed to put
pressure on Mr Mugabe. However, President Thabo Mbeki's attempts to
facilitate the drafting of a more liberal constitution and to open a credit
line in return for reforms have come to naught; the ruling Zanu-PF and the
MDC fell out over the proposed constitution, and Mr Mugabe simply printed
more money to pay off IMF arrears.
The main focus of interest between now and Mr Mugabe's departure, possibly
in 2008, will be the jockeying for succession within Zanu-PF.
The party is as split as the MDC: one faction is led by retired general
Solomon Mujuru, whose wife, Joyce, has her eye on the presidency, the other
by Emmerson Mnangagwa.
If it is of any solace to the opposition, controlling all the levers of
power will not necessarily guarantee a handover to the old dictator's
Zimbabwean security forces broke up a labor union demonstration Sept. 13. Among those arrested at the protest, which the government had banned, were the chairman and secretary-general of the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions. Amid the arrests, however, serious cracks within Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe's security apparatus were revealed. Losing control of the country's security infrastructure -- the last bastion of Mugabe's power -- would cause the regime to crumble quickly.
Zimbabwean security forces broke up a labor union demonstration in Harare on Sept. 13, arresting several union leaders, including Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) Secretary-General Wellington Chibebe and Chairman Lovemore Matombo. Though the government had pre-emptively declared the demonstration illegal and warned that security forces would be instructed to shoot the protesters, security forces did not follow through on the order.
The march was originally to be a nationwide demonstration, with thousands of ZCTU supporters protesting low wages, high taxes and poor access to HIV/AIDS treatments. The government's warning that protesters would be shot led organizers to scale back the demonstrations to two-hour marches. The Harare demonstration was the largest, though smaller protests took place around the country.
By Shashank Bengali
KHARTOUM, Sudan - This summer, the biggest oil refinery in Sudan completed a
$341 million expansion that doubled its capacity, boosting exports and the
country's domestic gasoline supply.
A few dozen miles away, on a riverbank that once was a trash dump,
developers pressed ahead with plans for a $4 billion business complex that
they hope will turn Khartoum into a commercial hub for eastern Africa.
Both projects are showpieces for Sudan, which is enjoying an unprecedented
economic boom, and neither would have been possible without China. Chinese
firms built the refinery and operate it in partnership with the Sudanese
government, and are among the lead contractors on the business complex.
This reflects a trend across Africa, where Chinese companies are pouring
hundreds of millions of dollars into construction projects of all sizes,
from refineries and dams to roads and shopping malls.
Over the past decade, China increasingly has turned to Africa to feed its
seemingly boundless appetite for natural resources, becoming the continent's
No. 3 trading partner. But the $40 billion-a-year-and-growing trade
relationship isn't just about oil and precious minerals anymore.
With the United States and other Western countries having all but abandoned
big infrastructure and industrial ventures in Africa decades ago, deeming
them unprofitable or too risky because of the chronic instability that
plagues much of the continent, Chinese companies have swooped in.
Helped by low labor costs, Chinese enterprises are taking on the work that
cash-starved African countries need but lack the capacity to do themselves.
Chinese companies have built or agreed to build hospitals and railway lines
in war-ravaged Angola, roads and bridges in Sudan and Kenya, dams in
Ethiopia and Liberia and telecommunications networks in Ghana and Zimbabwe,
along with scores of other projects.
Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., who just concluded a two-week tour of the
continent, told a Congressional Black Caucus legislative conference last
week: "One of the striking things about traveling through Africa is
everybody says that the United States' absence is as noticeable and
prominent as the Chinese's presence."
Analysts say it's unclear whether the Chinese are reaping big profits. But
by doing work that the United States and others don't do, China is cementing
ties with African leaders while securing support for its own agenda,
especially its claim to separately governed Taiwan and its efforts to
prevent the island from having diplomatic relations with any countries.
The United States and its European allies have tried to cripple
authoritarian regimes such as those in Sudan and Zimbabwe with heavy
sanctions, only to find China doing business with them with no political
strings attached. Unlike U.S. policy, Chinese investment comes with no
conditions on making democratic reforms or promoting human rights.
"The Chinese are operating from a different set of business calculations,"
said J. Stephen Morrison, the Africa director at the Center for Strategic
and International Studies, a national-security research center in
Washington. "They're entering these settings with a strategic political
blessing, but they're also entering them as a business enterprise."
"Western countries may think these projects are too small. But China doesn't
think they are small," said Shao Weijian, an economic adviser at the Chinese
Embassy in Kenya. Last month the Chinese contractor Wuyi secured a $37
million deal to renovate the international airport in Nairobi, Kenya's
Analysts say China's top priority is still energy, and it often uses
infrastructure projects to sweeten oil and mining deals. Earlier this year,
a Chinese state-owned company agreed to pump more than $2 billion into a
major, loss-generating refinery in northern Nigeria - Africa's leading oil
producer - in exchange for drilling rights in four sought-after oil blocks.
However, China also is doing business in countries with no known oil
reserves. In drought-weary Ethiopia, a Chinese company is at work on a $350
million dam that's expected to provide irrigation and power.
In 2004, there were 450 Chinese investment projects in Africa, the vast
majority in manufacturing and services, according to World Bank statistics.
Unofficial estimates put the number of Chinese companies in Africa at more
than 700. Chinatowns are springing up all over the continent to cater to
some 80,000 Chinese nationals.
But the changes may go deeper. Chinese investment is altering the playing
field on a continent where Western countries have long controlled the purse
strings of development assistance, and by extension the political agenda.
It's over Sudan that China and the United States have been most clearly at
odds. The Bush administration says Sudan's Islamic regime is presiding over
genocide against ethnic Africans in the Darfur region. Meanwhile, industry
observers say China has sold Sudan weapons and military equipment worth tens
of millions of dollars, including the helicopter gunships that the
government is thought to have unleashed on civilians in Darfur.
Despite international sanctions, Chinese investment has helped Sudan become
Africa's third largest oil producer. Of the $2 billion in oil it exports
annually, half goes to China.
"In this case where Sudan remains at odds with Washington - and to a
significant degree with Europe - over the continued drama around Darfur, the
partnership with China is only getting bigger and deeper," Morrison said.
"It's only fortifying the confidence that Khartoum has that they can
flourish in this period."
Other African countries also are benefiting. Continentwide, the economy grew
by 5.3 percent last year and is expected to do better this year, thanks
largely to China's investment and its appetite for African raw materials.
During the Cold War, as dueling powers, the United States and China each
tried to stake a claim on newly independent Africa by building major public
projects. Today many of the stadiums, government buildings and other
structures built during that period are ruined, destroyed by conflict or
years of neglect.
China's most ambitious project then was the 1,160-mile Tanzam Railway
linking Tanzania and Zambia in eastern Africa. Built by Chinese workers who
left when it was completed, it's long since fallen into disrepair.
Some in Africa worry that the current wave of investment also will go to
waste if builders don't properly train local people. Chinese companies
employ many expatriates - one-third of the employees at the Khartoum
refinery, for example, are Chinese - with Africans often taking the
"The potential danger for Africa is this turns out to be a repetition of
previous development disasters," said Steven Friedman, an analyst with the
Institute for Democracy in South Africa, an independent advocacy group. "In
cases where there's not the local capacity to ensure they're maintained,
they don't have the development impact they're meant to have."
China says it intends to be in Africa for the long haul. Beijing proclaimed
2006 "the year of Africa" and issued a policy paper in January pledging
long-term investment in infrastructure and in training African workers. New
deals probably will be announced at a China-Africa summit in November.
In their increasingly frequent visits to African countries, Chinese leaders
often speak of one developing country helping another.
Many in Africa have chafed under what they see as patriarchal Western aid
policies, which increasingly demand political reforms in exchange for help.
Experts say China sees the world's poorest continent not as a problem to be
solved but as an investment opportunity.
"I don't get a sense at this stage that the Chinese role is primarily
devoted to political influence," Friedman said. "They're far more concerned
with the economic dimension."
Resentment is starting to brew over Chinese business practices, however.
Disputes over wages and working conditions have roiled Chinese-run copper
mines in Zambia, resulting in riots and shootings. Trade unions have come
out strongly against China's control of Zambia's economy.
"That's something we'll soon see much more often in other emerging states, a
result of massive Chinese economic influence in some of the world's most
underdeveloped countries," Ian Bremmer, the president of the Eurasia Group
risk-management consultancy, wrote in a note to clients this week.
Perhaps nowhere is China's influence more striking than in flat, dusty
Khartoum, where high-rises built by Chinese companies dot the skyline. On
freshly paved streets below, slickly dressed oilmen top off the tanks of
their Mercedes-Benzes at Chinese-owned gas stations.
"The Chinese are the No. 1 people benefiting from Sudan," businessman Hisham
Aboulela said. "The U.S. sanctions have only opened up the market for the
A senior American diplomat in Khartoum, who wasn't authorized to speak on
the record, said Sudan's rapid economic growth had surprised some U.S.
"I could at a certain point say, `Have we missed an opportunity here?'" the
But the diplomat said sanctions were justified, and downplayed suggestions
that China's investment in Sudan directly threatened U.S. interests.
"Are they antagonistic to us? No," the diplomat said. "There is space for
increased U.S.-China cooperation in Sudan. Our policy goals are not
necessarily in conflict."
Some in the United States are pushing for a change in policy that accounts
for China's growing role. Last year, an Africa task force at the nonpartisan
Council on Foreign Relations recommended that the American government enter
into partnerships with private companies to compete with China for
The task force noted that while U.S. companies are primarily focused on
extractive industries such as oil, building infrastructure and industry are
necessary for Africa's long-term growth.
Morrison, who served as co-director of the task force, said China might be
applying lessons it had learned from its own startling economic rise.
"I think in some ways they're less burdened by our own pessimism about
what's possible in Africa," he said. "They've lifted several hundred million
people out of poverty in the last 20 years. ... They are less cynical about
Africa than we are."
An electric telephone conversation with Grace Kwinje galvanised people
during the special Vigil in solidarity with the Zimbabwean anti-Mugabe
protest today. She said she had been seized and beaten by the police along
with many others. We had seen her only the other day in London and everyone
is appalled. Our demonstration in solidarity with the call by the Zimbabwe
Congress of Trade Unions was well-attended with people coming from afar -
with large contingents from Milton Keynes, Manchester, Southend and
Leicester (seventeen Leicester people came in a small coach - thanks to
Mitchell Meki for organising this).
We also had people from the Embassy sniffing around to see what we were up
to - one Embassy employee spent a long time photographing the protest on his
mobile phone. The Ambassador phoned the police to complain and was told
that we had every right to protest and had permission to be there.
There was a general demand to protest outside the South African High
Commission and after our demonstration we toy-toyed to Trafalgar Square to
appeal to our friends - carrying posters "Mbeki - Zimbabwean Blood on Your
Hands", "Mugabe wanted for Murder". We arrived singing and dancing to be
met by an aggressive security guard who grabbed Mitchell, who is one of our
biggest supporters. Mitchell quietly remonstrated with him saying he was
breaking the UK Law by manhandling him. Somebody at the High Commission
must have called the police because several police bikes suddenly appeared -
they were advised by the protestors that we had obtained permission from
Charing Cross Police for a 30 minute protest outside the South African High
Commission to inform them of the violent arrests of our leaders in Zimbabwe
and ask for their intervention. The police were happy to leave us there.
One of the notable things about the day was the attention and sympathy we
got from passers-by. A day like today really brings home that we are the
voice of the voiceless. We managed to have a successful and well-attended
protest with no disruption. Back home: protest leaders were arrested and
violently beaten in front of their supporters, the country was teeming with
heavily armed police, march routes were blocked - a very difficult climate
for mass action. Check SW Radio Africa for a summary of what happened in
Zimbabwe today (weblink:
For pictures of the protest:
The Vigil, outside the Zimbabwe Embassy, 429 Strand, London, takes place
every Saturday from 14.00 to 18.00 to protest against gross violations of
human rights by the current regime in Zimbabwe. The Vigil which started in
October 2002 will continue until internationally-monitored, free and fair
elections are held in Zimbabwe. http://www.zimvigil.co.uk
September 14 2006 at 12:03AM
The Zimbabwean government's expulsion of a South African youth
delegation shows it cannot tolerate democratic interaction with other
countries, said the Congress of South African Trade Unions on Wednesday.
"The members of the delegation were exercising their democratic right
to visit citizens of a neighbouring country," said Cosatu spokesperson
Patrick Craven, condemning the expulsion.
"The government's reaction confirms that they cannot tolerate
democratic interaction between their citizens and visitors from neighbouring
countries, and confirms Cosatu's view that human rights are under severe
attack in Zimbabwe."
The youth delegation's deportation was announced on Wednesday.
The delegation included the national secretary of the Young Communists
League, Buti Manamela, Nduluza Gceba of the South African Youth Council,
North West secretary of the South African Students' Congress, Mothusi
Tsineng, Congress of South African Students president Kenny Motshegoa,
Tsholofelo Nakedi of the South African Non-Governmental Organisations'
Coalition, Lucian Segami of the Zimbabwe Solidarity Forum, secretary-general
of the Young Christian Students Bheki Mcetywa and Thoko Ntone of the
Students' Union for Christian Action.
They were there to find out about the socio-economic and political
situation, and had informed the Harare Youth Development Minister Saviour
Kasukuwere and the Zimbabwe High Commission in South Africa of their trip.
Cosatu unionists have previously been deported from Zimbabwe. "We
welcome the commitment of the Young Communist League, like Cosatu, not to be
deterred and to continue with their programmes of solidarity in order to
find a solution to the unfolding crisis in Zimbabwe."
Cosatu also reaffirmed its "full support" for Wednesday's protests in
Zimbabwe by the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions.
HARARE - Members of the police and paramilitary squads have begun illegally
seizing foreign currency from tourists and moneychangers in an effort to
supply the forex-strapped government with hard currency.
The crackdown, part of the so-called Tourism, Image and Communications
Taskforce headed by President Mugabe's spokesman George Charamba, has been
'collecting' foreign currency to buy fuel for farm vehicles.
Under this blitz, about 150 lodges, restaurants and tour facilities have
been shutdown so far ostensibly because they "failed to meet minimum
international hotel standards."
Government sources said the raid was part of a broader plan drafted by the
National Economic Development Priority Programme (NEDPP) to hoard money to
buy fuel for its military as a precaution against civil unrest.
Zimbabwe has been critically short of fuel for months. Unconfirmed reports
on Sunday said that police officers in Bulawayo stopped a busload of Zambian
tourists and seized large sums of American dollars, South African rand and
other foreign currencies.
In Victoria Falls the police were reported to have confiscated all foreign
currency from major travel agencies and safari companies.
The hard currency seizures run counter to Zimbabwe law, which permits both
residents and visitors to carry foreign currency.
John Robertson, a private economic analyst, said the government had
apparently been forced to confiscate hard currency because its own appetite
for foreign exchange was causing the value of Zimbabwe's dollar to plummet.
Zimbabwe's dollar, officially valued at 250 per U.S. dollar, has traded
lately on black markets at about 850 per American dollar. Robertson said the
government's efforts to buy foreign exchange had caused the market to spike
to as many as 850 Zimbabwe dollars for one American dollar. - Own
HARARE - In a bid to win back the support of the international community,
Zimbabwe's government has relented on its land policy and is to remove
settlers from occupied farms owned by foreign companies. More than 100 farms
covered by Bilateral Investment Protection Agreements (BIPAs), invaded as
part of President Robert Mugabe's fast-track land redistribution programme,
will either be returned or their previous owners compensated for their loss.
A committee led by foreign affairs minister Simbarashe Mumbengegwi recently
toured farms under the protection agreements and recommended that the people
subsequently settled on these farms be relocated.
Flora Buka, the minister responsible for land and resettlement, confirmed
the policy in an interview. "As a government, we have resolved that we are
going to relocate the new farmers who are settled on land covered by BIPAs,
or compensate the investors as a way of honouring the agreements," she said.
"On the part of the Zimbabwean government, I feel this is an acceptable
arrangement and will be acceptable to all parties."
Compensating the previous landowners does not, however, appear a realistic
option. Dutch companies growing and exporting cut flowers to Europe own most
of the farms falling under the protection agreements, but Zimbabwe also has
bilateral protection agreements with Sweden, Switzerland, Indonesia,
Australia, Belgium, Denmark, France, Italy and Germany, among others. Since
the 2000 land invasions began, Zimbabwe's economy has gone into freefall. An
annual inflation rate hovering at around 1,000 percent has seen unemployment
levels rise above 70 percent, and shortages of foreign currency have caused
food, fuel and electricity to become scarce commodities.
The first beneficiary of the initiative will be an Indonesian company
breeding ostriches in Matabeleland North Province, according to the head of
an Indonesian delegation touring the country, but Indonesia's minister for
the empowerment of women, Prof Meuria Swasono, said the company would have
certain obligations. The ostrich and leather exporting concern will meet the
costs of moving the settlers to their new homes, and be responsible for
building new accommodation and sinking boreholes.
Zimbabwe's state security minister, Didymus Mutasa, said although the
government was making efforts to respect protection agreements, they would
be wary of those who abused the system. "Naturally, we do not want to
disturb investors on what they are doing at the farms, but we are aware of
investors who are going into partnerships with former commercial farmers and
then claim to be covered by BIPAs." Since the onset of the land invasions,
only about 600 of the country's original complement of about 4,500 white
commercial farmers remain on farmland.
A visiting Italian agricultural delegation led by the country's ambassador
to the Ivory Coast, Paolo Sannella, have also held meetings with the
government to come to an agreement on the future of farms seized from
Italian business concerns. The delegation has hinted that it could provide
assistance in mechanising the agricultural sector, and give Zimbabwean
agricultural products exhibition space at the Italian International Food
Festival next year.
BY RUTH NDEBELE-MABHANDE
I have tremendous admiration for highly capable and intelligent women such
as Priscilla Misihairambwi-Mushonga and Trudy Stevenson. I admire them
because of the resolute stand they have taken on the importance of integrity
in politics. This is the basis on which they have taken a strong, even
personal, position against Morgan Tsvangirai, and by way of contrast have
tied themselves hip-to-hip to the principled Welshman Ncube and stood by him
in everything that the Professor does.
I have no doubt that, being smart and principled women, they have opted for
this fellowship with Professor Ncube after a diligent tour of the facts.
They have obviously considered the integrity that enabled Professor Ncube to
enter into constitutional deals with Chinamasa and South African President
Mbeki, in which he excluded his leader, the troublesome Mr Tsvangirai, who
at the time sat in a much-deserved prison cell at Rhodesville police
They have looked at the integrity with which three people, Professor Ncube,
Dulini-Ncube and Isaac Maphosa managed the funds of the MDC over five years
until October 12 of last year, during which period they had the care and
integrity to make important residential property investments in Cape Town
for the good of the party, even as they refused to sign cheques to put fuel
into Mr Tsvangirai's cars - or who knows what integrity-lacking mischief
that man and his violent bodyguards might have been up to with fuel in their
They have considered the integrity that enabled Ncube to keep away in his
black Mercedes and laugh at the efforts of Tsvangirai to walk to work in
solidarity with the poor and suffering masses of Zimbabwe - what poor and
suffering Zimbabweans was Tsvangirai talking about? Ms Misihairambwi and Ms
Stevenson, bra-burning feminist champions, have no doubt also carefully
juxtaposed on a well-calibrated scale of integrity the way Ncube and
Tsvangirai have related to women in their careers and individual lives, over
In the process, they no doubt found that Ncube has had sufficient integrity
not to discriminate against any of the women who may need his consorting and
principled patronage, be those women one time Registrars of the High Court
(Peace Be Upon Her), or one-time Daily News corporate lawyers, or one-time
leaders in Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights, or indeed workers within the
Stevenson and Misihairambwi have also seen Ncube's immense foresight in
seeking to block the appointment to a lectureship at the University of
Zimbabwe of Lovemore Madhuku who Ncube had by then already foreseen would
grow to become a rabid supporter of sexist, nepotistic, tribalistic,
violent, Tsvangirai. Their balance sheet would also have looked at the
patriotism of Ncube, who, working as an important University Proctor,
carried the University Mace on behalf of our President Robert Gabriel Mugabe
and expelled from University many a student leader who dared draw early
national attention to Mugabe's dictatorship, while the unprincipled
Tsvangirai once again demonstrated his lack of patriotism by defending those
student leaders, even sitting in a jail cell in 1989 for publicly protesting
the harassment of then student leaders Arthur Mutambara and Munyaradzi
They have also no doubt carefully weighed the way Ncube deals with
collective decision-making, an alien word for Tsvangirai. They have seen how
Ncube managed to manipulate and bribe-lobby behind the scenes on and just
before October 12 for the triumph of the vote for a Senate, that great
collective decision-making institution that is benefiting the vast majority
of our people.
In contrast, Tsvangirai once again frustrated the will of the people by
articulating their opposition to the Senate project outside the context of
comprehensive constitutional reform and a roadmap for the restoration of
democratic legitimacy. Stevenson and Misihairambwi were quite right that
what mattered then was not the voices of ordinary grassroots members of the
MDC that Tsvangirai insisted were being fraudulently misrepresented by
self-interested individuals in the October 12 party executive meeting, but
rather the voices of Ncube and 32 other selfless men and women of integrity
who were being blocked by Tsvangirai in their report back on the
overwhelming national consensus for Senate. And what detractor is so biased
against the integrity of Prof Ncube to not applaud his collective
decision-making in single-handedly going to shop for Arthur Mutambara to
lead his faction of the party ahead of Chimanikire who was mobilising on the
ground for the leadership of that faction. And what of that showmanship that
inflicted Tsvangirai to have so many numbers at the bigger MDC's Congress?-
who doesn't know that numbers do not matter - you can't do collective
decision-making with crowds! What of the violence! Ms Misihairambwi and Ms
Stevenson are of course correct that by simply looking at the angelic face
of Prof Ncube, you have to dismiss offhand claims that he organised his
supporters to remove the eye of a Tsvangirai supporter in Bulawayo. At the
same time, by simply looking at Mr Tsvangirai's face, and by having Ncube.
Misihairambwi and Stevenson repeat the mantra often enough (even as
Tsvangirai does not malign them back in the media), it should be obvious
that Tsvangirai is violent. There cannot be any doubt that he personally
directed his supporters to beat up Stevenson- an angel who was busy minding
her clean political business in Mabvuku-Tafara.
How can Tsvangirai not be violent, when men and women of integrity
repeatedly say he is? And even when Arthur Mutambara begins to see the
importance of being where the people are and starts talking to Tsvangirai at
the Save Zimbabwe Convention, it is the great integrity of Ncube that
decides not only to NOT attend the convention but also to later bring
Mutambara back to line and rebuke him for embracing Tsvangirai in public,
against "our principles and values".
In essence, Mushonga and Stevenson know that Professor Ncube has a
long-standing record of integrity and commitment to ordinary people's lives,
while Mr Tsvangirai is violent and individualistic, so much that in a Moto
article long back even Jonathan Moyo hailed Tsvangirai's consistency in
listening to the will of voiceless poor people. As for us the ordinary and
voiceless people of Zimbabwe, unable to make deals with Chinamasa or to
speak with the lawyerly eloquence, non-violence, (and integrity) of
Professor Ncube, what can we do? Tinotarisa zvedu takanyarara asi musafunga
kuti hationi. Icho! (We look at what's going on and we keep quiet - but it
doesn't mean that we are blind.)
BY GIFT PHIRI
HARARE - Zimbabwe's economic disaster is horrifyingly evident in the morgue
at Harare Central Hospital, packed to more than three times its capacity
with the dead that relatives can't afford to bury.
The morgue, designed for 164 corpses, holds nearly 700. Trays often hold
more than one adult body, along with the tiny corpses of infants. Others,
shrouded in canvas and cotton sheets, lie in gurneys or on the floors of the
Some of the unclaimed cadavers are those of vagrants found dead on the
streets at the height of winter here.
Others are the victims of violence kept for as long as three years during
police investigations, often delayed by fuel shortages and logistics
problems amid Zimbabwe's worst political and economic crisis since
independence in 1980.
Many of the corpses are awaiting collection by impoverished relatives,
including some who "just disappear and abandon them" in hopes they will be
given decent "paupers' burials" by the city, said Dr. Chris Tapfumaneyi, the
hospital's medical superintendent.
As a result of the crisis amid rising mortality rates, Tapfumaneyi said
recently that hospital officials had decided to give dozens of the bodies to
the city's medical school.
The hospital recently donated 42 cadavers to the University of Zimbabwe
medical school, the first such donation for at least three years, he said.
The medical school has promised a proper burial of the remains after they
have been used for teaching purposes.
In a nation plagued by a hunger crisis and an estimated 3,000 AIDS-related
deaths a week, funeral homes hired to bury the unclaimed dead are
A routine burial at the sprawling Mbudzi graveyard - including cemetery and
grave fees, a casket and transportation - costs at least $75,000.
That's three times what the average Zimbabwean's monthly income and is well
out of reach of the 80 percent of people here living in poverty. Most rural
poor bury their dead on family plots in the bush, following African
As the Harare municipal cemeteries filled with AIDS victims in recent years,
a raft of practical suggestions - for mass graves, for bodies to be buried
vertically, and for cremation - were met with horrified outcry by political
and tribal leaders.
Zimbabweans of Indian descent favor cremation, but in July, Harare's
cash-strapped city council ran out of imported fuel for the furnaces at its
Since then, private funeral homes have accumulated nearly 100 bodies due for
cremation. A few bodies have been taken to the second city of Bulawayo's
But diesel fuel, like regular fuel, is also in short supply, and Bulawayo's
ordinances make it difficult to cremate a person who did not live there.
Leaders of Harare's tiny Hindu community have said they are considering
waiving strict religious rules to allow non-Hindus to be cremated in their
small diesel-fired crematorium here.
HARARE - Speculation has been rife that the recent meeting of opposition
parties presaged an imminent merger to confront the government of President
Robert Mugabe, but major players on the political stage seem unprepared to
come out in full support of an outright coalition, particularly the
Churches which convened the Save Zimbabwe Convention to discuss the
socio-economic crisis in Zimbabwe will leave it up to opposition parties and
civic organisations to map out strategies on how to push for democratic
change in Zimbabwe.
Coordinator of the Convention, Reverend Densen Mafinyane, said church
organisations only served as facilitators of the meeting.
"We leave the decisions to unite to the different players. It is for them to
decided whether to form a united political party," said Mafinyane, who is
the secretary general of the Zimbabwe Council of Churches (ZCC).
The meeting pressed the panic buttons in the ruling party, who appear scared
of latent potential in the broad alliance. But party secretary for
administration, Didymus Mutasa this week scoffed at the possible merger as
posing a threat to Zanu (PF).
"I do not believe that the opposition is serious about wanting to govern, or
about setting up a government of Zimbabwe," Mutasa told a government daily
newspaper. He repeated the party mantra that gives his party exclusive
right to govern on account of its liberation war credentials.
"They themselves know that they have done absolutely nothing for Zimbabwe,
to bring Zimbabwe where it is. No one within the opposition was involved in
the liberation struggle, there are some who claim to have been involved, but
well, what can you do about such people?" Mutasa scoffed at the possibility
of an opposition coalition.
Senior members of both factions have denied efforts at uniting the two
constituents of the erstwhile formidable opposition that posed the stiffest
challenge to President Mugabe's 26-year unbroken rule.
Jameson Timba who had been shuttling back and forth between Mutambara and
Tsvangirai described the denials as mere posturing.
"There are some people who fear for their positions in the event of a
reunification of the MDC. But that does not mean efforts at unity are not
underway. Perhaps it is just fear of the outcome," he said.
The proposed opposition party alliance agreed to use such methods as
democratic confrontation and mass resistance "to create a situation where
government is compelled to talk to its people to resolve the crisis."
It will also adopt methods such as boycotts on issues and goods that are
untenable and the collapse of the economy defy unjust laws and procedures,
hold prayers and marches as part of its options, among other pressures.- CAJ News
HARARE - A low-income urban family of six now needs $96 326 per month in
order to sustain a decent standard of living, the Consumer Council of
Zimbabwe (CCZ) has revealed.
The consumer watchdog said the recent figures reflect a 27, 7 percent
increase from the July figure of $75 439.
CCZ said the total cost of the August basket in US dollar terms is US$385,31
based on the ruling interbank exchange rate.
"The cost of living as depicted by the CCZ's low-income urban earners
monthly budget for a family of six has risen from $75 439 in July to $96,326
in August reflecting a 27, 7 percent increase," CCZ said.
If the CCZ basket was to be taken as the official poverty datum line
threshold it means that most people are living below the PDL as most
salaries fall below the latest figures.
However, with the new income-tax free threshold of $20 000 introduced by the
Minister of Finance, Herbert Murerwa, in his mid-term fiscal policy review,
and which comes into effect this month, this is likely to lessen the burden
on the consumers who are currently living from hand to mouth.
CCZ said notable price increases were recorded in education, which rose by
89,9 percent from $3 512 in July to $6 671 this month, margarine rose from
$722, 01 to $1 270, 25 representing a 75, 9 percent surge while
transport was up 50 percent from $300 to $450.
Other remarkable increases were recorded in the prices of washing powder,
which rose by 40 percent from $807, 07 to $1 133, 71, rice was 38 percent up
to $1 136, 50 from $820, 07 and cooking oil increased by 32 percent
from $484, 06 to $639, 80.
"The major mover was education, as the new term began most schools increased
their school fees and levies for the third term. Transport operators have
continued to increase fares which has impacted negatively on consumer
"Transport costs increased in June, July and August by 46, 7 percent, 36, 4
percent and 50 percent respectively, which means that there has been an
increase every single month as from June and this is not justifiable at all
considering that commuter omnibus operators have been accessing fuel from
the National Oil Company of Zimbabwe (Noczim) at a subsidised price," CCZ
The consumer watchdog also took a swipe at fuel dealers who are not adhering
to the recently gazetted prices of fuel saying it is deplorable that service
stations have continued to sell fuel at the old price while some have been
withholding the commodity.
Government recently pegged the price of petrol and diesel at $335 and $320
per litre respectively.
CCZ applauded the monetary authorities for the recent currency reforms but
bemoaned the unjustified price increases by some retailers during the
transition from the old to the new system.
"According to observations noted in some surveys conducted by CCZ, some
retailers removed zeros while rounding off to the nearest dollar or tenth
thereby increasing the prices of the commodities," CCZ said.
Meanwhile, the consumer watchdog has called for the expeditious setting up
of the National Incomes and Pricing Commission (NIPC), whose mandate would
be to regulate the prices of goods and services among others.
CCZ also urged government, business and labour- social partners in the
Tripartite Negotiating Forum (TNF)- to put their house in order and conclude
talks on the prices and incomes stabilisation protocol.
"Generally, CCZ is very disappointed that the TNF has failed to come up
together as a body to fulfill its mandate," CCZ said. - Staff reporter
Adrian Stanley, who has died aged 83, was the director of the Repertory
Players in Harare for more than 40 years, bringing popularist, Anglophile
culture to more than two generations of largely white audiences. A
consummate theatre man, quick-witted with an intimidating sharp tongue, he
was to preside over a period of massive box office success in the colonial
era to one where traditional theatre and musicals now struggle to find their
Stanley's most successful period was in the 1960s and 1970s where he managed
to secure the first rights outside the UK and US to Godspell and Jesus
Christ Superstar. It premiered to Christian pickets and the multi-racial
cast brought extra attention from certain quarters of the settler populace.
However, Reps was never to find a political voice in the vein of South
African protest theatre. An opera in the vernacular Shona language in the
1970s flopped. There were never direct assaults on the political hegemony,
perhaps given that dissenting white voices in Ian Smith's Rhodesia were few.
The son of a grocer, Adrian Stanley was born in Birkenhead. He attended Rock
Ferry High School, where he developed his taste for dramatics. One bitterly
cold and wet afternoon he found himself playing fullback in a scratch rugby
side, in which his team dominated. For the better half of game, the ball
remained at the far end of the field and tedium levels rose fast. Feeling
obsolete and getting wetter by the minute, he wandered off the field.
It was the 1960 production of Under the Milkwood for Reps that put Stanley
on the path that was to determine the rest of his life. Critics roundly
praised the acting and, the professional "polish" Stanley applied, earned
him - with minor interruptions - the position of the company's paid
director/producer for the next 40 years.
That year had also seen the society vote 82-6 in favour of all races joining
the society and victory in the "Battle of the Toilets", whereby the
municipal authority had attempted to enforce separate ablution facilities.
Reps sought the advice of Advocate Macaulay, QC and his opinion demolished
the arguments of the Public Work Committee. It was said to read like an
extract from Gilbert and Sullivan, as the following passage shows: "How can
any member of the public know whether the convenience has been used, at some
time, by a member of another race? Once so used the convenience becomes
incapable in law of being used by the race it was intended to serve! One
illegal use by a member of the wrong race would thus render it incapable in
law of being used by any race at all, thus removing it altogether from the
awkward problem of human relations." The council backed down and the problem
quietly went away.
Stanley's tenure at Reps in the 1960s was helped by his supportive chairman,
John Keeling, who was to deliver his finest performances under his
direction. Stanley's dramatic productions were often described as being
"adventurous" (Macbeth in the desert), but he found his greatest success in
cabaret and West End musical theatre, which was not unconnected to his
remuneration. While it could be argued he was a big fish in a small pond,
visiting players would remark the standards were as professional as they had
found anywhere in the world. In rehearsals, Stanley would have no issue with
keeping a non-professional cast way past midnight with his most feared
statement "Once more, from the top with feeling".
Adrian Stanley, as depicted by the artist Peter Birch, in September 1972.
The post-Independence period presented more challenges in terms of
attracting new audiences. The youth wing, Repteens, cultured a good deal of
young black talent, but as has been the case with most Anglophile sporting
and cultural institutions in post-colonial Africa, there remained little
follow through after high school. A comprehensive answer to the failure is
elusive. But abandoned playhouses stretching the African continent owe less
to the advent of film and video, than an inability to provide something more
relevant and less alien for the majority to embrace.
Increasingly frail in his later years, but with a sharp mind, Stanley died
in the 75th year of the establishment of Reps - the society having enjoyed a
slight rejuvenation in terms of membership. Stanley had a heart attack while
directing what was to be his last production, Music Man, just short of the
630th production in the history of the society.
Adrian Stanley, theatre producer and director. Born September 2 1922. Died
August 10 2006
JOHANNESBURG - Nigerians and Malawians caught by the long hand of the police
in South Africa are claiming to be Zimbabweans so that they can only be
deported as far as the Beitbridge Border Post from where they can easily
trek back to South Africa.
This was confirmed by the Police Spokesperson for the Gauteng Province, Mary
Martins Engelbrecht, who said while the indications of the assertion were
true, she could not give figures.
The CAJ News Crew conducted a survey in which it established that most
illegal immigrants from the countries of Nigeria and Malawi vehemently
denied any ties with their countries of nationality fearing repatriation
"If we claim to be Zimbabweans the South African Home Affairs people and the
police can only take us as far as the Beitbridge border post, and we can
easily retrace our way back into South Africa," said Nnamdi Abiola, a
Nigerian who has overstayed and is now in SA as an illegal immigrant.
Aleke Banda from Malawi said that the chances of making it back to SA were
slim if one was deported further north.
"It becomes very costly to try and come back to SA once you are deported
back home. You have to cross many borders to get back into SA and the
chances of not making it are just too much," he said.
Meanwhile, Zimbabweans in SA are calling on the police to be very thorough
when they vet illegal immigrants on their nationalities, as Zimbabweans are
now going into the records for all the wrong reasons.
"When the statistics come out, it will always be Zimbabwe that has the
highest number of nationals deported every time that an operation is carried
out," said Stephan Moyo, a Zimbabwean in Johannesburg.
The Home Affairs department could not be reached for comment as to how they
dealt with issues of cheating on nationality by illegal immigrants caught in
SA.- CAJ News
Economic hardship forces law-breaking
EDITOR - The mood at Beitbridge on the Zimbabwe side resembles that of a
funeral. The smell of poverty is in the air. With the recently launched Gono
initiative to clamp down on parallel market forex dealers, it is not
difficult to notice the over exerted presence of policeman, suspicious of
everyone passing by. I stopped to buy a drink (freezit) and one policeman
had to intervene in our transaction to ensure that no currency was being
Directly opposite the immigration and customs shades, exists a dilapidated
wooden police post with broken windows manned by a policeman in tattered and
worn out uniform. The immigration and customs area is a hive of activity as
one vehicle after another races to clear their goods. The three-hour process
causes a long queue of vehicles awaiting clearance. The shortages caused by
catastrophic inflation levels in Zimbabwe have forced Zimbabweans to import
most of their basic requirements such as toilet paper, cooking oil, and
What I found interesting was the fighting spirit in most of the cross border
traders. Many were afraid of being robbed. Across the Limpopo, just a few
meters from the South African immigration check point, I saw a sea of people
covered in makeshift blankets sleeping on the floor. They had crossed into
South Africa to buy travellers cheques. A woman who spoke to me on condition
of anonymity said that the reason why they were purchasing travelers checks
was to use them as financial proof to apply for visas. She went on to show
me the foreign exchange bureau in Musina -crowded with close to 100 people
at about four in the morning.
One day I spotted a police van parked on the side of the road directly
opposite to the restaurant. I subsequently saw several similar vehicles in
various parts of the town.
I was told that on a daily basis three trucks like this deliver close to 70
illegal immigrant Zimbabweans at the border post for deportation.
Others come to Musina from the rest of South Africa by rail for deportation.
As many as two carriages of the train per week is full of Zimbabweans
destined for Musina, who will later be deported.
As I left the town of Musina the plight of my fellow countrymen left an
indelible mark on my heart and reminded me of the words of West Indian
economist Arthur Lewis: "As some sit on the Dinner table to feast and dine
of turkey and beef, most of Africa's children who once celebrated the
independence of their country, now roam the streets across the continent and
beyond in search of a penny to feed themselves, not necessarily to feast as
their leaders but to remain alive everyday..."
GERALD SVOVAH, Harare
Stop being negative
EDITOR - I am writing to urge all MDC members and supporters (regardless of
factions) to stop writing negatively about each other pertaining to ongoing
differences among their leaders. Negative writings are likely to attract
party foes, which are likely to blow everything out of proportion.
Intelligence agencies usually capitalise on a situation to accomplish an
agenda. Enemies of the MDC made some confusing statements about the split,
with an agenda of derailing the party's objectives and democracy in Zimbabwe
as much as possible.
Genuine members who want to comment about the split must consider the
effects of their utterances and the confusion they are dishing out to the
This is not the time to discuss the split but to suggest possible solutions
to the MDC internal crisis. All political parties are likely to go into a
crisis. These are the most trying times for the MDC, let's all commit
ourselves to finding a solution than criticizing each other.
Constructive ideas will see the party overcoming its current problems and
lead to a victory whether in 2008 or in 2010. This is not the time to split
votes and opposition. Splitting is really a betrayal of those who voted MDC
into Parliament. The problem must be resolved immediately and abuse of the
followers must be stopped.
LOOKOUT, Chairperson, Zimbabwe Action Movement, Jozi
Shot the wrong elephant!
EDITOR - On Sat September 2, the same day of the "opening" of the new
customs building in Chirundu. I was one of the unfortunate "scarce"
tourists to be visiting the Chirundu area. I was game viewing down the river
from the bridge. A dark green landrover belonging to Parks arrived looking
for an elephant who had killed a local chap who had stumbled into the
elephant drunk. These Parks people put 16 BULLETS into this elephant.
The following day it was rumoured they had shot the wrong elephant! Cruelty
beyond belief! Did the proceeds of the elephant meat go back into
conservation or into someone's pocket?
DISGUSTED, South Africa
CHRA sends a message to Makwavavarara
EDITOR - Please allow me space to point out that Harare is ready to roll
for the Democratic Resistance, come rain come thunder. I have a reason to
prophesy because what I witnessed on 09-09-06 in Harare's CBD area was
unbelievable as a group of about 3000-4000 protesters marched to Town House
to present a petition to the Makwavarara led commission, chanting
revolutionary slogans saying To Save Zimbabwe- Mugabe Must Go. The group
started to swell into large numbers by 1300hrs as the Z.R.P- Zipurisa
Rinorova Povho- were caught pants down for the second time following the
MDC's Liberation Team campaign which was recently led by the MDC President,
MR THUNDER, Glen Norah
Free Zinasu Leaders
EDITOR - We FreeZimYouth are disgusted with the arrest of student leaders by
the Mugabe regime. On Friday the Zinasu leaders were having a strategic
workshop ahead of mass protests scheduled for Wednesday and Thursday, when
armed riot police invaded the organised workshop and arrested eight student
leaders: Zinasu Vice President Gideon Chitanga, Secretary General Beloved
Chiweshe, President of Bulawayo Poly Milward Makwenjere,George Makoni,
Fungai Mageza, Lawrence Mashungu, Clayton Njova, Terrence Chimhavi. They
were working on a petition demanding accessible, affordable and a good
standard of education for all in Zimbabwe.
This is unacceptable. There is no doubt that Mugabe is now panicking ahead
of the Mass protest planned by ZCTU, and is now trying by all means to
frustrate and eradicate any efforts to solidify all Pro-democracy forces.
We demand the immediate release of our brothers and sisters, who have
committed no crime but exercising what should be, their civic rights by
demanding a better Educational system for all Zimbabweans which has been
mis-managed in the hands of Mugabe's rule. We Exiled Youth of Zimbabwe will
stand shoulder to shoulder with our Fellow Youth back home and expose this
hostile approach towards Future Zimbabweans(Youth) by the tyranny.
It's high time Mugabe realises he can jail or kill a revolutionary but he
can't jail or kill a revolution."
Free-ZimYouth Komradz, UK
Concern over XDR-TB
EDITOR - As I write newspapers around the world are reporting a World
Health Organisation report by Dr Ernesto Jaramillo on the emergence of a new
form of drug-resistant tuberculosis. They use the letters XDR-TB as a
shorthand form of identification.
The WHO are missing a global warning as resistant cases have been identified
in Africa, Russia and the far east. New methods for detecting XDR-TB are
costly for first world countries and may therefore be out of the financial
reach of emerging ones. Countries with a high incidence of HIV have even a
further handicap, not that HIV increases drug resistance but that the
infected persons resistance makes them so much more vulnerable and sadly
likely to die.
Question; where does Zimbabwe stand within this global issue? Given the that
there is an increasing use of traditional medicine and referrals to
"n'angas" because of the escalating increase of costs in the medical
services, this may be used as a cover up for Zimbabwe Health services to
implement a rapid response.
Traditional medicines do play an important part in all health services and
pharmaceutical companies do investigate such worldwide resources, but-
another but and it is a big one. Tuberculosis requires conventional
medication; patients also require close supervision; lack of supervision and
incorrect medication is a cause of XDR-TB. Again another additional cost on
all health services.
If I appear to be pessimistic it is simply because I am, especially with
regards to Zimbabwe. Financial restriction, increasing costs, high HIV
levels all combine to make one fear for the spread of XDR-TB. Finally I
frequently pass a commemorative plaque in the Edinburgh city centre to Sir
Robert Philip who in 1894 opened Scotland's first specialist TB hospital. He
identified poor social conditions as perhaps the most important cause of TB.
That was a long time ago; now perhaps as we all need the cooperation of all
specialists in health and social areas and not those simply confined to one
country. Please ask the Zimbabwean Health Services what plans they have to
TOM REILLY, Edinburgh