Mail & Guardian
02 September 2006 07:56
Zimbabwean opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai led a march on Parliament
on Friday to deliver a petition against the economic and political crisis
being presided over by his arch-rival, President Robert Mugabe.
Tsvangirai defied the public order Act by leading the unauthorised protest
march on the Parliament building in downtown Harare, along with about 40
senior members of his Movement for Democratic Change (MDC).
He then delivered a petition to the office of the Speaker, John Nkomo,
before beating a hasty retreat and avoiding arrest for the protest.
"We, members of the executive of the Movement for Democratic Change, on
behalf of the party, call upon the government to acknowledge the nature of
the crisis affecting the country and agree to an all stakeholders'
conference to start a process of stabilisation and reconstruction,
MDC spokesperson Nelson Chamisa, who took part in the march, said
larger-scale protests will follow if Mugabe does not respond to their
"This is just a harbinger of things to come if [Mugabe's ruling] Zanu-PF
does not heed our call. Next time we will involve more people," he said.
Tsvangirai's party once posed the greatest threat to Mugabe's 26-year rule,
but it split late last year over his decision to boycott Senate elections.
Tsvangirai, who was elected to lead the larger of the MDC's two splinter
factions, called for "peaceful, democratic resistance" at a party conference
in March. But Mugabe vowed to crush opposition protests as he hit back at a
call for "democratic resistance" in the Southern African country.
Meanwhile, long and chaotic lines of cars formed at gas stations on Friday
as Zimbabwe's government and fuel suppliers clashed over fuel prices.
Worsening gas shortages were predicted.
Motorists thronged gas stations offering fuel at a new government
recommended price of Z$335 (about R9,64) a litre.
The lines formed on Friday after banks sold United States dollars to fuel
suppliers at the official exchange rate of Z$250 to $1 to buy fuel, and the
state oil-procurement enterprise, the National Oil Company of Zimbabwe,
released fuel on to the market based on the official exchange rate to some
However, excluded suppliers had to buy fuel imports at the unofficial
exchange rate of Z$660 to $1. As a result, their gasoline was more than
twice as expensive as the officially recommended price -- and their petrol
stations were empty of customers.
The state central bank is expected soon to announce regulations pegging the
lower gasoline price and making it an offence to sell fuel for more,
industry executives said.
"There isn't enough official hard currency to go round to everyone in the
fuel sector, and new price-control measures will undoubtedly cause further
shortages. You can't be expected to sell something for less than you paid
for it on the unofficial market, therefore it disappears," said one private
fuel dealer who asked not to be identified for fear of scrutiny by
The government has accused private fuel dealers of profiteering after buying
hard currency illegally on the black market.
Zimbabwe has suffered acute fuel shortages over the past six years as the
economy crumbled in the aftermath of the often violent seizures of thousands
of white-owned commercial farms that began in 2000, slashing hard currency
earnings from the main agricultural exports in the former regional
Traditional fuel suppliers Libya and Kuwait cut off shipments after Zimbabwe
failed to pay its debts for oil products. Fuel lines snaking around gas
stations have been a common sight in recent years.
Disruptions in the agriculture-
other essential imports and food. Power and water outages, blamed on
shortages of equipment and spare parts, are also a daily routine. --
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MDC national executive’s demonstration grinds Harare to a standstill
Today, President Morgan Tsvangirai and the entire national executive took to the streets and marched to Parliament to present a petition to Speaker of Parliament and Zanu PF national chairman John Nkomo, and to express their solidarity with the suffering people of Zimbabwe.
After a routine national executive meeting, President Tsvangirai, vice President Ms Thokozani Khupe, secretary-general Mr Tendai Biti, and the entire leadership, dubbed the Liberation Team, held a peaceful march to present the party’s roadmap to Parliament.
The MDC roadmap to a peaceful resolution to the national crisis has key signposts, which include a new, people-driven Constitution, free and fair elections under international supervision, a reconstruction and stabilization package in a post-transitional era.
The 50 members of the national executive were holding placards with messages demanding better pay for workers, civil servants, the police and the army. The members were also demanding food and jobs while other messages made it clear that the recent currency reforms could not address the fundamental problems facing the economy. On the way, the city virtually ground to a halt as thousands joined the President and the national executive in demanding a better deal for Zimbabwe.
Upon learning that hundreds of peaceful marchers were headed for the august House, officials at Parliament closed their offices and party officials had to leave a copy of the ROADMAP document at the building for the attention of the Speaker of Parliament. The crowd returned to the party headquarters at Harvest House where President told the people that the peaceful march was only the beginning. The crowd had swelled to over 2000 as people left their offices while other passersby joined in the singing and chanting of revolutionary songs.
The police were caught flat-footed, as the party had not sought any permission to hold the march in accordance with repressive provisions in the notorious Public Order and Security Act.
Today’s occasion was just but a warning shot; a harbinger of more protracted, nationwide and decentralized response by the people of Zimbabwe to express their need for a free, prosperous and democratic society.
Today’s occasion was an expression by the MDC President and the leadership of their commitment to lead from the front in the people’s struggle for a new Zimbabwe. The response of the people was overwhelming as they gave thumbs up to the gesture by the leadership. The nation is ripe for change. A new Zimbabwe is obvious.
Nelson Chamisa, MP
Secretary for Information and Publicity
Harare - Zimbabwe retailers have increased the price of the country's maize-meal staple food by about 160 percent, in yet another example of worsening economic conditions in the troubled southern African country. A snap survey by ZimOnline correspondents on Friday showed most supermarkets in Harare and nearby towns were charging Z$1 300 for a 10kg bag of standard grade maize-meal up from about $500 the previous week. The Grain Millers Association of Zimbabwe were tight-lipped over the reasons behind the latest round of price increases but milling industry players attributed the hike to ever increasing operation costs, especially the price of fuel which had gone on the illegal black-market, the only sure source of diesel and petrol in the country. They also said a shortage of maize across the country was pushing up prices. But Industry and International Trade Minister Obert Mpofu vowed tough action against retailers saying they were not supposed to hike the price of maize-meal without his approval. He said: "This (price increase) is illegal. They were not supposed to increase the price without communicating with us first. Our inspectors are already on the ground checking what's going. Those found to be charging more than was agreed will be dealt with accordingly."
Skyrocketing prices are only part of a litany of economic problems afflicting Zimbabwe as the country grapples a seven-year economic crisis that has also spawned shortages of fuel, electricity, essential medicines, hard cash and just about every basic survival commodity. The main opposition Movement for Democratic Change party and Western governments blame the crisis on repression and wrong policies by Mugabe such as his seizure of productive farms from whites for redistribution to landless blacks. The farm seizures destabilised the mainstay agricultural sector and caused severe food shortages after the government failed to give black villagers resettled on former white farms skills training and inputs support to maintain production. But Mugabe, who has ruled Zimbabwe since the country's 1980 independence from Britain, denies mismanaging the country and says its problems are because of economic sabotage by Western governments opposed to his seizure of white land.
The Harare Agricultural Show is showing signs of life after being decimated in the wake of President Robert Mugabe’s controversial land redistribution policies. Officials and farmers said on Tuesday they were optimistic the showcase of the country’s farming skills was recovering from the disruption linked to the government’s seizures of farms from mainly white farmers. Although there was little business being done on the second day of the exhibition in Harare, most stalls that had lain empty in past years displayed a fair variety of grains, vegetables, fruit, livestock and farm machinery. "There is an improvement this year not just in terms of the number of visitors to the show but also in terms of exhibitions. I have been talking to exhibitors in the agricultural service - most of them small-scale commercial farmers - and their exhibits are overwhelming," said show spokesman Daniel Muhau. "The livestock section is also resuscitating now and there is a lot of activity down there. I can say generally something is happening," he added. The once-thriving annual show has faced collapse since 2000, with very few products on display as the agricultural sector went into freefall due to drought and the disruption caused by Mugabe’s drive to forcibly redistribute white-owned commercial farms to the country’s black majority. Critics say Mugabe’s government largely failed to equip the new farmers with adequate training and resources to fully utilise the land, leading to a 60% decline in the sector in the last six years.
"We have not had cattle here for some time since the white commercial farmers left the farms . . . but now it looks like our black people can now see we have got to do it for ourselves," said livestock farmer Samuel Chimuka, who was at the show for the first time to display his cattle, sheep and goats. "I know the white farmers used to do better than what we are doing but this is how they started and we are also starting. I am very optimistic about the future," Chimuka said. President Festus Mogae of neighbouring Botswana echoed that sentiment on Monday when during a visit he endorsed Zimbabwe’s controversial farm seizures. Mogae predicted his neighbour’s agricultural production would soon rebound, but urged Harare to honour its pledge to ensure productive land use. Mogae said he had recently told a meeting of the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation that southern Africa’s former bread basket - which has relied on food imports in recent years - would soon become one of the top farming nations in the world. Harare says agriculture is on a firm path to recovery and has forecast 1,8 million tonnes of the staple maize from the 2005/06 season, which would largely meet domestic needs for the first time since 2001. Food agencies, however, see a much smaller crop and a need for continued imports from South Africa.
By ALAN CAIRNS
A Zimbabwean woman who lost two babies to a mystery disease before she found out her boyfriend had infected her with the HIV virus.
Another Zimbabwean woman who lost one of her two children to AIDS after her husband infected her and became "mom" to four more kids when her brother died.
A Kenyan teacher and loyal wife who learned four years ago that her husband had infected her with AIDS.
A Bolivian woman who was beaten and strangled by her husband -- after he infected her with HIV.
A leading HIV-negative Ivory Coast AIDS activist who was threatened with death.
An HIV-positive Jamaican homosexual who encountered constant discrimination and abuse.
These are six of the 150 faces from around the world who have declared themselves as refugees after attending the 16th International AIDS conference in Toronto last month.
Interviewed by the Saturday Sun in their lawyer El-Farouk Khaki's Toronto Yonge St. offices yesterday, the six gave engaging accounts of why they didn't want to return home.
Erica Ndinyo, 34, a teacher in Nairobi presented the AIDS conference with a paper on the mapping of women's health in Kenya, Namibia and Botswana before she claimed refugee status.
Ndinyo found out she had HIV in 2002 after she became "very sick" with meningitis and lapsed into a coma.
Like most Kenyan women, she never questioned her husband's philandering and, in accordance with Kenyan law, never denied him sex.
"Most Kenyan women are infected by their spouses in their own homes," she said, noting that the concept of marital rape does not exist.
Once infected, HIV-positive Kenyan women face constant discrimination, she said, and she and other HIV-positive teachers lost their jobs.
Ndinyo said she didn't know she would stay here until she learned about refugee claims at the conference.
After being diagnosed with the virus in 2004, Vilma Geronimo, 36, found it almost impossible to get enough immune system-boosting drugs in Cochabamba, Bolivia.
Geronimo said there is no government funding for AIDS-related issues and only three doctors in all of Bolivia to treat AIDS patients who can afford to pay cash.
The only available drugs, she said, come from Brazil.
When Geronimo and other HIV patients with depleted immune systems went to hospital, she said, she was placed in the infectious diseases area with the likes of TB patients by officials with no full understanding of how AIDS is transmitted.
Geronimo said her husband blamed her for their infection, knowing she had not strayed. He constantly beat and strangled her, then left with their two kids.
When she won a "lottery" of HIV-positive lay people to attend the Canadian conference she decided "anywhere" would be better than Bolivia and claimed refugee status.
"I was facing a couple of years, no life expectation at all ... now I can live," she said.
Fri 1 September 2006
HARARE - A spokesman of Zimbabwe internet service providers on Wednesday expressed fears that the Harare authorities could now be able to intercept and monitor internet communications using technology acquired from the Chinese.
Earlier this year, ZimOnline reported that President Robert Mugabe's government was planning to table before Parliament the Interception of Communications Bill to allow it to monitor and control internet communication among Zimbabweans.
But there have been reservations whether Harare had the technological know-how to implement the changes.
Speaking to the media yesterday, Jim Holland, of the Zimbabwe Internet Service Providers' Association, said the government appeared to have overcome that hurdle given its zeal in implementing the changes.
"I would imagine it (technology) is now here. There are obviously now close links with the Chinese, who are specialists in the interception of radio and internet communication," said Holland.
Last Wednesday, Parliament began public hearings on the new law with civic groups united in their criticism of the new legislation which will also allow the government to monitor telephones and electronic mail of individuals suspected of threatening "national security".
Human rights groups and the main opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party have criticised the new law saying it violated their constitutional right to freedom of expression.
Zimbabwe already has some of the harshest press laws in the world with for example, journalists being required to register with a government commission before they are allowed to practise their profession. - ZimOnline
The Herald (Harare)
September 2, 2006
Posted to the web September 2, 2006
MOTORISTS and commuter omnibus operators have started accessing cheap fuel procured by the Government in a development which might trigger a slash in fares and prices of commodities countrywide.
The Government-supplied fuel costs $335 and $320 a litre of petrol and diesel respectively, compared to $680 and $700 per litre being charged by private importers.
The National Oil Company of Zimbabwe (Noczim) has increased supplies of both petrol and diesel to selected service stations countrywide to ease shortages.
A Noczim official said fuel was being strategically distributed.
"We have resumed the supply of fuel to retail outlets selected by Noczim and to some oil companies until the situation in the country improves," said the official.
The official said Noczim was allocating at least 10 000 litres of fuel to each selected dealer per week, who will sell a maximum of 30 litres per motorist.
However, some motorists were allegedly abusing the cheap fuel facility and siphoning the commodity for the black market where it is fetching between $400 and $1 000 a litre.
Yesterday, Noczim warned dealers that they faced prosecution, saying a National Fuel Task Force team was assisting the parastatal to guard against such practices.
"The taskforce has put in place tight measures designed to monitor and ensure that the fuel is not diverted elsewhere and also see if there is equitable distribution of fuel throughout the country," the official added.
In a survey conducted in Harare beginning on Thursday, The Herald established that the Government-procured fuel was being distributed to selected service stations through Noczim.
Officials at least three such filling stations -- two of them in the city centre and one in Chitungwiza -- confirmed that they had been receiving cheap fuel since Monday.
At Engen Service Station at the corner of Fourth Street and Robert Mugabe Road in the city centre, a long, winding queue could be seen with motorists patiently waiting for their turn to refuel.
An official there said they had received 15 000 litres of diesel from Noczim this week and were expecting another delivery before next week.
"We were allocated 15 000 litres of diesel yesterday and we are expecting another delivery before next week," the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said.
The filling station was not limiting motorists to 30 litres per vehicle as prescribed by Noczim.
By yesterday, Engine Service Station had run out of diesel, but some motorists remained in the queue, anticipating another delivery.
Commuter omnibus operators were also accessing the cheap fuel at Ford Garage along Chiremba Road in Hatfield.
At the filing station, an attendant said Noczim had allocated them 10 000 litres of diesel and they were expecting more deliveries before Monday.
In Chitungwiza, motorists could also access cheap fuel at Finnex Oil filling station at Guzha Shopping Centre, popularly known as Chikwanha.
A fuel attendant confirmed that Noczim had commenced supplying them.
"Yes, we have started getting fuel from Noczim and yesterday we were allocated 9 982 litres of petrol and 9 982 litres of diesel," he said.
He said they were only allocating about 30 litres per motorist while those with Datsun 120Ys and Peugeot 404s were getting a maximum of four litres each.
"We are limiting the fuel so that everyone is able to get something. But for those motorists with (Datsun) 120Ys and (Peugeot) 404s, we are selling them four litres each only because they are the people diverting fuel to the black market," he said.
Disgruntled motorists could be seen milling around the filling station where there was a hive of activity, with other people selling fuel in containers.
By yesterday afternoon motorists were still queuing as the attendants said more deliveries were expected today.
Fuel was also readily available at Wedzera Service Station at the corner of Seventh Street and Samora Machel Avenue and Caltex Service Station along Robert Mugabe Road, the latter of which has been designated for Members of the House of Assembly and CMED Private Limited officials only.
Zimbabwe last week received 25,7 million litres of fuel worth US$15 million under the US$50 million facility which the country recently signed with French bank BNP Paribas.
The deal is expected to benefit the public and private sectors and also help address the prevailing petrol and diesel price distortions on the local market as all beneficiaries would access the product at the same price.
Fuel shortages, which are as a result of the illegal sanctions imposed on Zimbabwe by some Western countries, have continued to plague the country for some time now.
Apart from the adverse effects the shortages have had on the operations of industry, this has often caused price distortions.
This has also seen some oil companies taking advantage of the situation and charging exorbitant prices for the commodity.
Copyright © 2006 The Herald.