Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Tragedy In Zimbabwe

(A letter from a friend in Zimbabwe--I've made it anonymous for obvious reasons and have included the reports that were sent with the letter)

Dear Michael,

Mr. Mugabe was returned to power..... massive vote rigging. He said he is going to reform the failing economy.

So far the major supplier of electricity to Zimbabwe...Kariba.. has had turbines breaking down. Mr. Mugabe says there is no money for spare parts to fix the turbines. Fabulous foresight.......just what you would expect from a President who travels with a large entourage world-wide. So, now there are huge power outages.

The government has not purchased chemicals to purify the tap water. Thus what is flowing is ???? uncured recyled sewerage maybe ???

Now, Mr Mugabe has given a directive that the Game reserves must be plundered for game to feed the hungry. A couple of weeks ago there was a report of 26 elephants being slaughtered for a barbeque.... to celebrate Mr. Mugabe's re-election.
Since the Mozambique/Kruger (South Africa) and Zimbabwe were amalgamated about a year ago, the mind boggles. What is Africa's heritage to it's people and the people of the planet. Barbeque wild animals.

Then in a TV interview I saw Mr. Mugabe say that the economy had been destroyed because of the Jews. The Jews had taken the economy with them !!!! I ask you..... considering how few Jews there are there.

Shades of Hitler.

It amazes me that one man can plunder and rape a country so thoroughly..... it was a viable country only two years ago, and get away with it in the year 2005.

I wonder if the devestation of the wild animals has made even a blip in the foreign (U.S.) media ?

We are speaking huge areas and massive slaughter of animals here.

If you have read anything please let me know.

Hope you are well and busy as ever.

your friend,


p.s. The people are starving, really starving. I had a friend from UN staying a few weeks ago. They have still not been allowed to distribute food.

From The Pretoria News, 27 April
Zimbabwe turns to wildlife as food source
Basildon Peta

President Robert Mugabe's regime has directed national parks officials to kill animals in state-owned conservation areas to feed hungry rural peasants - a move that could wipe out what remains of Zimbabwe's impalas, kudus, giraffes, elephants and other species. The directive is a major blow to efforts by conservationists to try to rehabilitate the wildlife sector which was devastated after Mugabe ordered his supporters to invade and confiscate white-owned farms in 2000. The chaotic farm invasions saw party militants storming into conservation areas - both private and state-owned - to slaughter animals. Unscrupulous South African hunters also joined in the looting, paying hefty kickbacks to politicians to go into conservation areas and shoot lions, leopards and cheetahs for trophies. But because of the general abundance of certain species of wildlife in southern Zimbabwe and the establishment of the transfrontier park, which allows animals from Mozambique and South Africa's world-famous Kruger National Park to move freely into and out of Zimbabwe's Gonarezhou (home of the elephants) National Park, there have been high hopes among conservationists that Zimbabwe's wildlife sector could be restored to its former glory.

This now appears highly unlikely as Zimbabwe's department of national parks and wildlife management, the custodian of this embattled country's wild animals, has been given the green light to work with rural district councils to kill animals to feed more than four-million hungry rural Zimbabweans. National Parks officials said the recent shootings of 10 elephants for barbecue meat at festivities to mark Zimbabwe's 25 years of independence around the country had been carried out in the broad context of the directive to kill animals to feed the hungry, particularly those living within the vicinity of national parks. The 10 elephants were killed by National Park rangers. Four of the giant animals were reportedly shot in full view of tourists near Zimbabwe's Lake Kariba, a major haven for wildlife. Zimbabwean conservationists have been particularly scathing about the killings of the elephants for independence celebrations. Rural peasants in Zimbabwe have sold or fed on their own livestock in the past three years of unprecedented hunger, induced by Mugabe's chaotic land seizures.

National Parks officials say many of the peasants living in areas bordering National Parks have already been venturing into these parks to hunt and kill animals using snares. But they said the impact of snare hunting by the villagers was limited compared to what would happen if armed National Parks rangers were allowed to enter conservation areas to kill for meat to feed millions of hungry peasants. "Killing of animals for any reasons other than conservation can be very disastrous," said one National Parks official. "The politicians think we have enough animals to feed people without wiping out different species. We as professionals don't think so. We are talking to them (the politicians) and we hope we will reach consensus on protecting our wildlife heritage." Other government officials said Mugabe was so happy about his rural constituency which ensured him a majority of seats in last month's parliamentary elections that he wanted to do everything to please the peasants.

From SABC News, 26 April
Garbage piles up in Zimbabwe as crisis deepens

Garbage is piling up uncollected in Harare as Zimbabwe struggles with a deep economic crisis that has also left major towns short of water and electricity. The Harare city council said today that rubbish had not been collected in several townships and suburbs of the capital for three weeks because of a national shortage of fuel and the expiry of contracts for some private garbage collectors. Critics say the city's mounting problems mark a grim new stage of Zimbabwe's long-running political and economic crisis, which many blame on President Robert Mugabe's government. "They have not collected refuse here for two months, and we are sick and tired of their excuses," said one frustrated resident, pointing to a heap of rubbish in Harare's densely-populated Mbare township. Mugabe, who has been in power for a quarter of a century, plunged the southern African country into crisis five years ago when he started seizing white-owned farms for redistribution to blacks, mostly supporters of his ruling Zanu PF party.

The land seizures have hit the country's main commercial agricultural sector, a key source of foreign currency earnings, and are largely blamed for a five-year recession under which the economy has contracted by more than a third and unemployment has topped 70%. Mugabe's Zanu PF won 78 out of 120 contested parliamentary seats in elections last month which the opposition charges were rigged. But the party lost most parliamentary contests in major towns -- which have borne the brunt of the economic crisis to the main opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), a pattern also seen in earlier elections. Since the election, Zimbabwe city dwellers have seen their problems multiply. Most petrol stations in the capital Harare ran dry this week, while the state electrical utility has warned of power cuts due in part to lack of spare parts to maintain generators. Food is still available in city stores albeit at prices sharply higher than before the election - but officials say the country risks serious shortages amid a drought and inadequate supplies of seed and fertiliser.

From Zim Online (SA), 27 April
Bank governor steps on ex-army general's toes

Harare - Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) governor Gideon Gono is headed for a clash with powerful former army general, Solomon Mujuru, after he closed an asset management firm controlled by the general, sources told Zim Online yesterday. They said rumours last week suggesting Gono had attempted to resign from his post were in part sparked by revelations that Mujuru - believed to be second only to President Robert Mugabe in power and influence in Zanu PF - owned a controlling stake in Mercantile Asset Management, shut down by the RBZ last Thursday for irregular trading. Gono vehemently denied he had contemplated stepping down vowing to press on with his job and insisted he was not under pressure from anyone to quit as governor. "Mujuru owns Mercantile Asset Management firm through a nominee company. Ray Kaukonde, who was helped by Mujuru to become governor of Mashonaland East province is chairman of the asset firm," said a source in the country's financial services sector, who insisted on his name not being mentioned. He added: "We were not going to be too surprised if Gono had resigned because the firm he closed is strongly linked to the powerful Zezuru (tribal) clique in Zanu PF." Neither Gono, Kaukonde nor Mujuru could be reached last night for comment on the matter.

Belonging together with Mugabe to the same Zezuru clan of Zimbabwe's majority Shona tribe, Mujuru is regarded as the kingmaker in Zanu PF and the government. He quietly flexed his muscles last year to catapult his wife Joyce, a lightweight in Zanu PF and virtually unknown outside its ranks, to the key post of second vice-president of the ruling party and the government and position her ahead of the pack to succeed Mugabe when he and his first Vice-President, Joseph Msika, retire in three years' time. Mujuru, who Zanu PF veterans say was critical in helping Mugabe to the helm of the party in the 70s, is said to have blocked former parliamentary speaker Emmerson Mnangagwa from the vice-presidency as punishment for attempting in the 1990s to prevent the former general from taking over giant chrome concern, Zimasco. Until the emergence of Joyce with support from her husband, Mnangagwa, for long regarded as Mugabe's preferred choice of heir, was the leading contender for the vice-presidency. A clash between Mujuru and Gono, who insiders say has direct authority from Mugabe to clean up the corruption-riddled financial sector and help turn around Zimbabwe's troubled economy, could have far reaching effects for both Zanu PF and the government.

According to RBZ insiders, Gono is adamant Mujuru's asset firm must remain shut down and its top officials prosecuted after a probe he ordered revealed the firm was conducting banking business in violation of the Asset Management Act (Chapter 24:26). The firm was also unprocedurally using depositors' money to fund fuel purchases with most of the firm's income generated through interest charged on loans to fuel importers. As at December 31, 2004, interest paid on fuel loans constituted 95 percent of total income of $2.2 billion while fees accruing as a result of core asset management business accounted for a mere one percent. The four percent was attributed to "other" income. In addition, a review of the firm's asset management portfolio revealed it did not separate clients' assets from its own properties as required under regulations. The RBZ investigation also showed that accounting was being done manually, rendering the books easy to manipulate. Resignations of directors were also not communicated to the central bank while there was no board or management committee to supervise the operations of the firm as is required under new regulations and guidelines governing asset management firms. For example, a meeting called by the RBZ on 20 April 2005 with the board of directors failed to materialise as no one from the firm pitched up. The board had also never met since the firm was granted an operating licence in July 2004 while the executive management team only met four times since licensing, with the last meeting of the committee being held in October 2004. Mujuru's firm is the fourth asset management firm to be closed in less than a year. Others are Sunshine Asset Management, First Factoring and GP2 Asset Management Company.

From The Mail & Guardian (SA), 25 April
Zim's political cancer has gone too deep
Mandla Mpofu

continued from yesterday...

You once criticised the Zimbabwean government for not giving its political opponents a fair chance. Do you think this has changed and that it is now possible to hold free and fair elections in Zimbabwe under the current Zanu PF leadership? : it has not changed and I do not expect the government will do so. This is something people must do. Governments are not known to give democratic space. But the experience of the past six elections, including the recent one, shows that people are beginning to demand that. The maturity is still not there, especially in the government, but people know better now. We need a mature political system and the government must take the first step. Take, for instance, the jubilee celebrations that we just had. The expectation is that even people in opposition must attend, but how can they attend when they are subjected to ridicule during such national events? The government recognises people according to their rank in the ruling party, even during such important events, and it becomes pointless for opposition leaders to attend.

Did you do anything about it when you were in the government? : During my time in the government, we tried to break such barriers, but obviously we couldn't announce that to the media because we could be kicked out of the government. You know, when you are in a system you don't fight it like an outsider, you have to use the rules of that system. And when you are outside, you also cannot fight like an insider. But there was a lot of opposition from the old guard, who wanted to retain their old ways. Unfortunately, the media only reported these fights with the old guard, but never looked into the details of the fights. But unless you are just reckless or just an ignoramus, you cannot say this government will allow free and fair elections.

Do you think some of the laws that you allegedly crafted, such as the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (AIPPA) and the Public Order and Security Act (Posa), have compounded the problems that opponents of Zanu PF faced during elections? For instance, the MDC says the closure of the Daily News and the absence of private radio stations in Zimbabwe meant that the opposition had very little space in the media : Let me set the record straight - I did not craft the Posa or the NGO Bill. I had nothing to do with those laws. I obviously was responsible for presenting the AIPPA into Parliament and I don't think it is a bad law. It has been politicised a lot, but I believe any government that comes into power in Zimbabwe - including the current opposition - will need such a law. I think one thing we must realise is that opposition parties should not behave as if they will always remain in opposition. There has been a problem with the implementation of the AIPPA, and the main area of confusion has been the requirement for the accreditation and registration of journalists. I can't imagine anyone quarrelling with the requirement that journalists must register and not commit falsehoods, knowing that these are falsehoods. The other problem, I think, is to have a situation where the media become part of the opposition -- that is a poisoned environment. We need a fair media that will report both sides. I am in opposition now and I cherish being in opposition, but I don't want a media that will be partisan even to the opposition. During my time in the government, we also tried to remove the regulation of the media by the government. That authority should not be given to the government. The government must only set policy.

But that brought in the Media and Information Commission (MIC)?: The MIC must not be a government body that does government business and is told by the government what to do, and I think if there is a problem, it is with the personnel, for they must realise that they are not there to do what the government says. They should be fair to all sections of the media.

Has the public media become an extension of the government? : There is also this misconception that Zimpapers belongs to the government or Zanu PF. Zimpapers is listed on the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange and 49% of its shares belong to individuals or business establishments who have nothing to do with the government. The other 51% belongs to a trust. That trust is not the government or Zanu PF, and should not be controlled by either. The beneficiary of that trust should be all the people of Zimbabwe, the general public of Zimbabwe. The government has no business directing Zimpapers. The board at Zimpapers, the editors and even the reporters have a legal right to resist any such attempt. The fact that they have not done so is a problem with them. It is also the problem in Zimbabwe that there are many people who know the right thing to do, but who are afraid of doing it.

You fell out favour with Zanu PF after allegedly organising the Tsholotsho meeting, ostensibly to challenge the candidate favoured by the executive for the vice-presidency. Do you feel Mugabe should have allowed more open debate on the issue of his succession? : The contradiction is that the president invited people to debate his succession, and then when people did that, they were criminalised and ostracised. Zanu PF had a great opportunity last year to demonstrate to its members, Zimbabwe and the world that it had transformed into a democratic party, but alas, come November 18, it demonstrated that it was a party run on patronage.

Do you see Mugabe retiring any time soon? : No. I don't expect him to retire any time soon. He has a constitutional mandate to remain in office until 2008, but no reasonable person expects him to seek re-election then because he will lose dismally ... even he must understand 25 years in power is too long. And I must point out that it is complete madness to expect that Zimbabwe should only have four leaders in a century.

You were quoted as having promised the electorate that you would fight for the reduction of presidential powers once elected into Parliament. Do you think Zimbabwe should follow other countries in the region, such as Zambia, Malawi and South Africa, where there are limits to presidential terms? : Yes, and that's why we put it in the draft Constitution in 1999. One thing that must be made clear is that Zimbabwe's economic turnaround cannot be achieved under this president. We need an absolute renewal because the political cancer has gone too deep. There are no new ideas and, as you can see, the same government that abolished the Senate is also bringing it back.

What about you? What is your ambition beyond being an independent MP, especially considering rumours that you intend to form a political party? : My ambition is to succeed in what I do, in what I am entrusted by the Lord and the people to do, and nothing more. Right now, I am the MP for Tsholotsho and I want to succeed in that.

So we should not expect to see you as a presidential candidate in future? : Presidential candidates are chosen by the people of Zimbabwe.


oso said...

It's so sad. This same story keeps coming up every two or three years for more than a decade. Unfortunately I don't see freedom for Zimbabwe until Mugabe dies.

Anonymous said...