Friday, March 31, 2006

Can't run mines without electricity

Harare - Zimbabwe's mining sector has taken another knock from erratic electricity cuts that have hit the country as its cash-strapped state power agency struggles with imports, a senior official said on Thursday.

Zimbabwe buys more than a third of its electricity from South Africa, Mozambique, Zambia and the Democratic Republic of Congo but has in recent years grappled to pay its bills due to severe foreign currency shortages.

The Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority (ZESA) has also been hard-pressed to repair power generation machinery, while vandalism of its equipment and inadequate coal supplies to its main thermal power station have contributed to frequent power cuts that have disrupted industry........

The sector has also been rattled by government plans to amend Zimbabwe's mine laws to cede a 51-percent stake in all foreign-owned mines to the state, a move seen driving away foreign investment key to the industry's growth.

Zim freezes health care fees

The Zimbabwean government has invoked the Medical Services Act of 1998 and ordered private doctors, clinics and hospitals to temporarily suspend fee increases pending an inquiry into their operations.

Health and Child Welfare Minister David Parirenyatwa on Thursday said private health care providers would not effect further fee increases.

Private health care providers had initially indicated their intention to increase fees by 240 percent from April 1, but this subsequently went down to between 76 and 96 percent following negotiations with medical aid societies.

The minister's move comes at a time when the government has expressed disapproval of current fee levels and the public has been complaining about the high charges, with patients being required to pay between 60 million Zimbabwean dollars (about 400 U. S. dollars) and 1 billion Zimbabwean dollars (about 6666 U.S. dollars) for admission at private clinics and hospitals.

According to the Medical Services Act of 1998, part four, sub- paragraph 13, the health minister is entitled to designate fees for private hospitals. "I do not expect anyone to breach this order," Parirenyatwa said.

While some medical aid societies have welcomed the latest development, several doctors and officials at private hospitals described the move as unfortunate and ill-considered taking into account that they were buying drugs, equipment and salaries without assistance from the government.

They said it was unfair for the government to halt any fee increases when private institutions were shouldering an increasing load of the health needs of the population because of the deteriorating service at public hospitals.

Why poor countries stay poor

Interesting article on the importance of good government...

But in some ways Mugabe is worse, because at least crooks only steal to get wealthy. Mugabe is deliberately following Marxist ideological policies that caused famines in Russia and China and Cambodia...and on top of it, is having his cronies steal what is left...

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Mugabe diverts AIDS funds

A former board member from the National AIDs Council (NAC) now living outside the country has alleged that a cabinet directive ordering the NAC to use some of its money to subsidise other government departments came from Robert Mugabe himself. Frenk Guni, an AIDs activist now based in the United States said funds collected through a special tax meant to help those with HIV/AIDs are being diverted to other projects like failed parastatals, the defence ministry and trips for international events that have nothing to do with health.

Guni said the directive came as early as 2001 but as a board member he was suppressed by an oath of loyalty. Meanwhile thousands of Zimbabweans have been dying due to a lack of funds for anti-retroviral (ARV) drugs. On Tuesday NAC executive director Tapiwa Magure told a Parliamentary portfolio committee on health the NAC was only able to provide ARV drugs to one in every 12 AIDS patients.
Guni believes the diverted funds could have saved the lives of many Zimbabweans who died without any medication. He said the importance of an AIDs fund was clearly understood and that’s why they pushed for the National AIDs Act which allowed government to tax all workers. But the government hijacked the idea and short changed Zimbabweans who need help with ARVs. Guni said he began revealing the diversion of funds to others outside the NAC and wound up leaving Zimbabwe fearing for his life.
NAC executive director Tapiwa Magure’s statements to Parliament confirm Guni’s allegations. He told the committee on health that funds raised through the aids tax were being spread out to cover other social sectors, leaving a deficit in the budget for HIV/AIDS prevention programmes. About 3 million Zimbabweans are estimated to be infected by the deadly HIV virus.

Charles Taylor arrested

former Liberian dictator Charles Taylor had disappeared from south-eastern Nigeria where he has lived in exile since he was forced out in 2003. His bid for freedom lasted only one day. According to reports police said Taylor was arrested in the early hours of Wednesday in northern Nigeria near the border with Cameroon. His capture came as another dictator, the president of Equatorial Guinea, headed to Zimbabwe to meet Robert Mugabe. One analyst said, “Birds of a feather, their time will come.”

As we reported Tuesday the Taylor saga is important to Zimbabweans who hope the oppressive Mugabe regime will someday face trial for its human rights abuses which have been well documented. The trip to Zimbabwe by Equatorial Guinea’s Teodoro Obiang Nguema has kept discussion about dictators alive. A ZANU-PF official is reported to have told state radio, "The president of Equatorial Guinea is coming to thank the government and people of Zimbabwe for assisting and averting what could have been a catastrophe in his country and also to explore ways of increasing bilateral economic relations between the two countries." The sudden flurry of activity and news about these dictators have invited comments from listeners and political activists.

Mugabe's in real trouble

The leftist National Catholic Reporter, who never met a revolution they didn't love, is now criticizing Mugabe...

One interesting note is the silence of many of the Catholic suspects it is because both the Jesuits in the Harare area and the Bethlehem fathers in the Gweru area preached liberation theology, (which is also loved by NCR) ...

Religious groups expressed concern -- but mostly from outside the country. Religious leaders inside Zimbabwe are divided. Mugabe, a Catholic educated by Jesuit missionaries, regularly attends Mass in the capital, Harare. Zimbabwe’s bishops’ conference (the county has nine Catholic bishops) has been largely quiet on bad governance, economic mismanagement, graft and human rights violations, and has not organized to apply much pressure on Mugabe.

One exception is Pius Alick Vundla Ncube, archbishop of Bulawayo, Zimbabwe’s second largest city.

From his modest office lined with posters of Pope John Paul II, Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr. and Nelson Mandela, Ncube told NCR that while many of Zimbabwe’s religious leaders sit on the fence, he is prepared to die for the country’s poor and disenfranchised.

He doesn’t hesitate to call Mugabe “arrogant” and a “dictator.” He has charged that the president and his political party are using food as a political weapon.

Ncube has been threatened, and he told NCR he is under constant surveillance by government spies in the Zimbabwe’s national intelligence organization....

What is different with Ncube? Well, to start out, he's a Ndebele, not a Mashona...

Ncube’s opposition began some 15 years ago when he was involved with rescuing ethnic Ndebele villagers from massacre at the hands of Mugabe’s notorious army unit, the Fifth Brigade. The president said he was putting down an insurgency, but human rights groups in the country are calling it genocide. As many as 25,000 Ndebele died in what is called the Gukurahundi tragedies.

Many of the liberation fighters were Mashona...the Ndbele were split, since they were a traditional warrior tribe, and many of the men joined the Rhodesian army/police...there were families with sons on both sides of the conflict...
And after Mugabe won, there was an open persecution of the Ndebele...tribal conflice goes back many years. The Mashona arrived first (and made Great Zimbabwe) but the Ndbele were an offshoot of the warrior Zulu tribe...LINK

UN agencies to increase access to HIV medicines

Whoops: Zim runs out of Birth control pills

Since the pill decreases breast milk, it is not the birth control method of choice for many women...

What puzzles me is that it is outside organizations that fund most of the Birth control programs.

When I worked there, you could get pills free from the pill ladies, but your kid's measles shots cost ten cents.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Rural Zim faces hunger

The food situation in rural areas of the county is so dire that people are clamouring for something to eat and schools are appealing for help for hungry children, according to leading aid agencies.

The warnings of mass hunger come as members of the governing elite who’ve taken over commercial farms are reprimanded for using their land as “weekend picnic venues”.

Southern Africa's food security warning organisation, FSEWS, said Zimbabwe will bring in from the fields only 600,000 tonnes of maize, ordinary people's staple food, during the impending harvest season against the average annual consumption of 1.8 million tonnes.

Steady, soaking rains have robbed Zimbabwe president Robert Mugabe of drought as his standard excuse for nose-diving agricultural production - this being the sixth successive year of crop failure. Until six years ago, agricultural exports to the rest of the region and to the European Community were the country's leading foreign exchange earners.

FSEWS, the Food Security Early Warning System of the Southern African Development Community, said Zimbabwe will have to import 1.4 million tonnes of maize, 200,000 tonnes of wheat, 40,000 tonnes of sorghum and 6,000 tonnes of rice in coming months in order to avert widespread starvation-related deaths.

The minimum cost of such imports for a country that is fundamentally broke - suffering from an official inflation of 800 per cent and only limited foreign exchange reserves - will be at least 350 million US dollars for the maize alone.

In February, the Zimbabwe government struggled to raise 9 million US dollars to pay the International Monetary Fund and thus avoid becoming the first country since Czechoslovakia 52 years ago to be expelled from the world's most important lending institution. The country must find another 120 million US dollars to service IMF payment arrears in the next few months.

Zimbabwe now has the dubious distinction of having what the United Nations has called the fastest-shrinking economy, the highest inflation and the weakest currency in the world - coupled with systematic human rights abuses and the collapse of the rule of law.

"The food situation is grave," said Barbara Shenstone, CARE International's country director in Zimbabwe. "There just isn't food in the rural areas. People are clamouring for food everywhere. Schools are asking for help for hungry children. Most of the vulnerable are eating less than one meal a day."

Zvikomborero, a 33-year-old firewood vendor whose home in the Harare suburb of Mbare was destroyed last year in Mugabe's Operation Murambatsvina (Operation Drive Out the Filth), presented as an urban renewal scheme, said, "My children are now eating out of a garbage dump. We are washing potato skins and eating them. We are starving. You can say we are dead."
Mugabe's ZANU PF government's notorious Fast Track Land Reform Programme, which when it began in 2000 involved the mass invasion of commercial farms by so-called veterans of the 1970s liberation war and landless peasants, marked also the beginning of the agricultural industry's collapse.

After more than 4,000 commercial farmers were driven from their properties, the initial invaders were themselves pushed from the farms, which were redistributed to members of President Mugabe's family, government ministers, top ZANU PF party officials, senior army, air force and police officials, and compliant judges and journalists.

Few of the "new farmers" are producing crops. In a rare admission of government failure, Deputy Agriculture Minister Sylvester Nguni said they lacked the skills to produce on what he called a "commercial or even subsistence level"....

International food aid is seemingly abused on a widespread basis. Government distribution agents, through whom international agencies are compelled to distribute supplies, tightly control to whom it is given. Local government officials, youth militias, village chiefs and other affiliates of ZANU PF tightly control donor-feeding schemes: they make sure that food goes to communities who proclaim loyalty to ZANU PF, and consequently millions of needy people go hungry. Many donor agencies have withdrawn or been pushed out as a result of these pressures.

Government officials deny the seriousness of the food situation. Both Mugabe and Mutasa constantly assert that the country has adequate food reserves. Denying that Zimbabweans needed international help, Mugabe said, "We are not hungry. Why foist this food on us? We don't want to be choked. We have enough."

Corruption by high-ranking senior government officials and politicians has worsened the food crisis. Politicians who enjoy political protection from prosecution have looted scarce supplies from the Grain Marketing Board, the sole official grain procurement and distribution agency, to sell on the black market and smuggle to neighbouring countries.

Coca cola shortage

Harare - For the first time in at least 40 years, supplies of Coca Cola dried up on Wednesday in yet another sign of crippling economic crisis in Zimbabwe, where people suffer acute bread shortages and farmers warn that worse is yet to come.

Harare agents for the US Coca-Cola company said local production of the drink stopped earlier this month, but refused to give official reasons.

Bar and cafe owners said they had been promised resumed deliveries at the end of the month, but were told hard currency shortages had prevented licensed bottlers importing the secret concentrated syrup used to mix the popular soft drink.

Lots of Americans don't know that Coke has local bottling plant all over the world, but ships the syrup and flavourings out to add to make the soda..our nurses used to call coke "American poisons"...but if you are in a rural area, it's probably safer to drink than the water...

The increasing importance of African oil

I posted this for two it mentions why China is investing in Africa

Two, although it is about oil, places like Zim have minerals needed for the modern world to function.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

UN Civil rights Panal: New and improved.

The Carter Center applauds the United Nations General Assembly (GA) for adopting the resolution creating a new Human Rights Council. Nearly a year after Secretary-General Kofi Annan issued his call for reform of the Commission on Human Rights, GA President Jan Elliason has produced a solid foundation upon which to build the U.N.’s new principal human rights body.

Many different opinions were taken into consideration to achieve this landmark agreement. Now, all those dedicated to the realization of human rights throughout the world should join in common cause to hold every government, big and small, to the highest standards of human rights.

This agreement presents an opportunity to seek new and innovative ways to address the world’s worst human rights crises. At the same time, each government will be expected to improve its own practices. Reciprocity and a constant focus on the rights of victims and the vulnerable are needed if the Council is to be productive.

If Jimmy Carter likes it, it's probably an empty promise

Indeed, the plan seems...less than impressive.

  • The new council is to conduct periodic reviews of the human rights records of all U.N. members, beginning with those elected to the council. A systematic violator of human rights could be suspended from the council by a two-thirds vote of the General Assembly. There is no such review now.
  • The seats would be distributed among regional groups: 13 for Africa, 13 for Asia, six for Eastern Europe, eight for Latin America and the Caribbean and seven for a block of mainly Western countries, including the United States and Canada.
Quick: Name 13 African countries that are actually free and not full of corruption, and would vote to censor Mugabe, or the Sudan...

Yes, there are a few, but not that many...and why the over representation for Africa, which gets as many seats as Asia?

Answers, anyone? anyone?

Trade unionist deported from Zim

Two international trade unionists have been deported from Zimbabwe after being refused permission to enter the country to visit Zimbabwe's labour federation.

The two, Jeff Handmaker and Bangane Ngeleza, are consultants from the Netherlands Trade Union Federation, FNV. They were due to visit the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions, which the FNV is assisting with a capacity building project.

Zim police raid opposition offices

ZIMBABWEAN police launched a late night raid on the opposition Movement for Democratic Change's regional offices in Bulawayo Sunday, hours after party leader Arthur Mutambara addressed thousands of cheering supporters in the city.

A team of 10 heavily armed officers descended on the MDC offices just before 8pm, and would not allow anyone to leave or enter the premises, the party said in a statement.

The police kept their vigil until Monday morning when they produced a search warrant. Details of the warrant said the officers were looking for "arms of war".

The basis of the search as outlined in the warrant was that: "There were reasonable grounds for believing that there is in possession, or under the control of the MDC Provincial Adminstrator, or upon or in MDC offices, a certain article or articles that is to say, arms of war, which are unlicensed, which it is on reasonable grounds, believed may afford evidence of the commission or suspected commission of an offence."

The raid comes barely a week after seven opposition activists were rounded up in the eastern border town of Mutare, accused of plotting to assassinate President Robert Mugabe.

A small cache of arms was discovered in the house of an arms dealer, which police wanted to link to the MDC. The case against six of the men collapsed in farcical circumstances when a judge ordered their release following a series of bust-ups between the prosecutors and security agents.....

Monday, March 13, 2006

Malnutrition in Eastern Zim

Zim village 'starving'
12/03/2006 17:43 - (SA)
Nyanga - Chipo Mapako, a village head in the eastern Zimbabwean district of Nyanga does not remember when he last had a square meal.

The 56-year-old father of seven squints up at the sky then holds his chin and shakes his head when asked when he last had a proper repast.

"The daily struggle for us is to find enough food to stave off hunger," says Mapako, who heads a village of at least 300 people in the district renowned as much for its picturesque mountain ranges as for its dry, stony fields.

"Getting sufficient food is hard enough and who would think about nutrients?"

Thousands of villagers in the Nyanga district near Zimbabwe's border with Mozambique, are living on the verge of starvation and relying on monthly food rations from WFP.

42% is food insecure

Goodson Murinye, head of the WFP office in the eastern city of Mutare, says the district is in the red category - the most vulnerable - according to a study done late last year by a committee of state welfare officers and aid agencies.

"At least 42% of the population is food insecure with the highest malnutrition rate in the province," Murinye told AFP at a food distribution centre where villagers lined up to receive their monthly handouts of 10kg of corn meal.

The district also ranked third in the country in HIV/Aids prevalence, according to WFP.

Michael Huggins, WFP spokesperson for Southern Africa, told AFP the United Nations agency was feeding 4.3 million people in Zimbabwe and that the situation was so "critical" that thousands would continue to require food aid for the coming year.

Mudslides kill gold panners

Harare - At least seven illegal gold panners have died near Zimbabwe's border with Mozambique in the past week, following heavy rains in the area, reports from eastern Zimbabwe said on Friday.

There are fears the final casualty figure could be much higher.

Hospitals in Zimbabwe's Chimanimani and Chipinge districts are preparing for an influx of bodies amid fears that up to 50 panners may have died, according to one newspaper.

"People are dying and there are bodies everywhere," Ananias Mupondi, an illegal panner, told the official Manica Post on his return to Chimanimani.

Heavy rains, which began last Friday, brought chaos to Zimbabwe's border with Mozambique, flooding caves where the illegal panners live and swelling rivers.

Some of the dead are believed to have been swept away by the rivers, while others may have died of malaria and pneumonia, according to the Manica Post, in the city of Mutare.

As a result, the gov't plans to outline gold panning...LINK

Mining laws might affect the economy

HARARE (Reuters) - Zimbabwe's central bank chief has warned President Robert Mugabe's government against draft mining laws that he said could hurt the country's economy, according to the state-owned Sunday Mail newspaper.

Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe Governor Gideon Gono was quoted saying draft amendments which could allow the state to take a majority share in foreign-owned mines should respect private property rights, adding the proposed laws were a "hot issue" at a recent International Monetary Fund (IMF) board meeting.

The Mines Ministry has said cabinet approved amendments to the mining law "to indigenise 51 percent in some instances of all foreign owned companies", raising concerns on future foreign investment in a country facing foreign currency shortages.

"This issue took much of our time as we had to explain to the IMF executive board government's policy on the matter. It was a hot issue," Gono said.

"For the ... sustainable integration of Zimbabwe into the competitive global space for investment attraction, this process has to be done in accordance with strict observance and respect for private property rights, as well as through market-friendly principles of fair value exchanges," he told the newspaper.

"Without this, the country's investment landscape will forever be damaged, much to the detriment of the country's turnaround programme and its ideals."

Friday, March 10, 2006

Wheat, maize supplies dwindle

JOHANNESBURG, 8 March (IRIN) - Zimbabwe missed an opportunity to produce sufficient crops to meet national consumption requirements this season due to inadequate inputs and uncertainty about land rights, says an agricultural expert.The country has experienced food shortages over the last four years, mainly due to erratic weather conditions, the impact of the chaotic fast-track land reform programme on the agricultural sector and a lack of foreign currency to import inputs, such as fuel and fertiliser.Wheat stocks have dwindled to the point where millers have warned that supplies would only cover a few more weeks, while the crop forecast for the maize harvest this year points to another deficit in production.The agricultural expert, who did not wish to be named, told IRIN that Zimbabwe "had a very small wheat crop last year", and the current low supply was a result of "imports not keeping pace with consumption".In terms of maize, "we're looking at a similar crop to last year, between 700,000 mt and 850,000 mt, so we're probably looking at a shortfall of between 500,000 mt and 600,000 mt".The lack of wheat was critical because bread played an important role in the national diet as a substitute for the staple maize-meal porridge."The biggest problem is that the maize-meal price has gone up because the current crop is not yet ready for harvest - it's probably in peak demand right now - and the price has shot up to Zim $500,000 [about US $5] per 20 kg of milled maize," the expert noted. The official Herald newspaper reported that a 10 kg bag of maize meal was selling for up to Zim $600,000 (about $6) on the parallel market.As a result, the staple was priced beyond the reach of a large proportion of the population. "If there's no maize meal around, or people cannot afford it, they will consume bread - it is an important part of the local diet - but, again because of the shortages of wheat, the price has gone up to Zim $70,000 [$0.70 cents] for a loaf. It used to be around Zim $35,000 [$0.35 cents]," the expert explained.Although bread was available in shops, it too had become relatively unaffordable to the millions of Zimbabweans struggling to make ends meet as the country's economic meltdown continues."We are struggling; we missed an opportunity this [planting] season to become self-sufficient. We could have produced well in excess of our [consumption] requirements had there been the inputs available for farmers to plant, as we had a very good season in terms of rain," he commented.The agricultural expert noted that banks were loath to lend money to farmers, given the uncertainty over security of tenure, so that "financing, fuel, electricity, fertiliser and chemicals are all limitations. Anything that has a foreign currency component, that we have to import, is in short supply".

US State Dept blasts Zim's civil rights record

The United States Department of State has listed Zimbabwe among the worst dictatorships in the world that trample on human rights and whose rulers are accountable to no one.

In its 2005 Human Rights Country Report, made available to ZimOnline on Thursday, the department grouped Zimbabwe among some of the world's most notorious dictatorships, such as the reclusive communist state of North Korea, Burma, Iran, Cuba, Belarus and China.


No more softdrinks

A serious shortage of soft drinks is looming Zimbabwe. Delta Beverages Limited’s non-alcoholic plant faces closure because it is failing to raise foreign currency needed to purchase raw materials.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

UN: International Woman's Day

I'm not into Feminism as an issue (I am old enough to predate the present round of medical school had 5% women in my class, to give an example...and most of my life concentrated on fighting disease, not politics)...

But Zimpundit has an interesting article about this and African women.

Mugabe's NGO bill

ARARE - Zimbabwe Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa on Monday told ZimOnline that the government was just "polishing up" its Non-governmental Organisations (NGO) Bill before the controversial law that will impose severe restrictions on civic bodies is brought back to Parliament for enactment.

Chinamasa, who said the Bill would become law this year but did not give specific dates, said Harare was convinced it needed the controversial law to deal with some NGOs that he claimed were working with foreign powers to topple the government.

He said: "There are still some organisations purporting to be NGOs when their interests are to topple the government with foreign backing. These are the NGOs which the Bill will be aiming to deal with. Otherwise those NGOs involved in humanitarian aid will not be affected."

President Robert Mugabe and his ruling ZANU PF party accuse some NGOs they have not named of using charity work as a pretext to support the main opposition Movement for Democratic Change party and to incite Zimbabweans to rise against the government.

But Mugabe last May refused to sign the NGO Bill which Parliament had passed in December 2004 after marathon debate and fierce opposition from the MDC.

Mugabe, whose signature is necessary for Bills passed by Parliament to become effective law, did not say why he refused to assent to the draft law, with speculation strong that he wanted the law tightened further.

Chinamasa, who is also ZANU PF legal affairs secretary, said after the NGO Bill was rejected by Mugabe it was put on the backburner as the ruling party focused on pushing through Constitutional Amendment Number 17, which recreated the House of Senate and also virtually nationalised all farmland.

The ruling party and the government were now finalising changes to the NGO Bill, Chinamasa said. He would not say what these changes were.

In its original form the NGO Bill among other things proposed to ban all civic bodies from carrying out voter education while those focusing on governance or human rights-related work were to be prohibited from receiving foreign funding.

The Bill also provided for the appointment by the government of an NGO council that would register NGOs and monitor their activities. The council would have powers to deregister and ban NGOs it deemed were not toeing the line.

NGO experts say if the law is eventually enacted, it could force at least 60 percent of civic and aid groups to wind up operations, a development that would affect the monitoring of human rights violations in the country as well as humanitarian work such as HIV/AIDS prevention.

Student leaders arrested

As many as 25 students could have been arrested as they attempted to march through the city
Bulawayo - Zimbabwe police yesterday arrested several student leaders in the city of Bulawayo to thwart plans by students at a state university and three other institutions in the city to stage street protests against the government's decision to hike fees at state tertiary colleges. ZimOnline was unable to confirm the exact number of students that were being held by the police by late last night but other sources indicated as many as 25 students could have been arrested as they attempted to march through the city.

Human rights not guaranteed in "democracies"

It singled out Zimbabwe for maintaining "a steady assault on human dignity and basic freedoms, tightening its hold on civil society and human-rights NGOs and manipulating the March parliamentary elections."

State controlled media in Zim: Opposition arm cache seized

The report said the cache was comprised of an AK-47 rifle, four FN rifles, seven Uzis, four 303 rifles with telescopic sights, 11 shotguns, six CZ pistols, two long-range pistols, four revolvers, and radio communication systems. In addition to 15 tear smoke canisters and 20 flares, thousands rounds of ammunition were also allegedly recovered by the police....

In Texas, this would be a normal gun collection...

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Mugabe's policy will probably close private schools

Private schools plan to challenge the constitutionality of the Education Amendment Bill that gives the government powers to determine school fees, once President Robert Mugabe signs it into law.

The Association of Trust Schools, that represents privately-owned schools, said in a statement that the new law lacked ‘rational economic thinking’ and would create chaos in non-government schools that were run with fees paid by students, reports ZimOnline. The controversial new law will now require all schools to first seek approval from the Education Minister before hiking fees....

The ATS and ACES-run schools are the only sources of a good and reliable education for young Zimbabweans as the country's once highly regarded public schools crumble due to years of under-funding and mismanagement.

But Mugabe's government accuses the schools of taking advantage of their good reputation to extort money from parents by charging exorbitant fees and levies, which the government says is used to fund lavish lifestyles for school executives.

The government last year forced several privately-run schools to close and threatened to jail authorities there for refusing to lower fees. When the matter was refereed to the High Court, it ruled that the government had no right to set fees at private schools. ..

The controversial new law will now require all schools whether state owned or not to first seek approval from the secretary of education before hiking fees. The law also sets stringent conditions under which school authorities may be allowed to increase fees or levies.

For example, under the new law, fee hikes should not exceed "the percentage increase in the cost of living from the beginning to the end of the preceding term as indicated by the Consumer Price Index published by the Central Statistics Office".

The ATS says this and other requirements before fee hikes can be approved under the new law are arbitrary and do not make economic sense because "the cost structures of the more than 500 non-government schools are not the same depending with location and type of boarding facilities offered at each school." ...

Now let me see:
600 percent you increase your "fees" not to increase profit but merely to cover the devaluation of the Zim dollar...but you aren't allowed to increase the fee without the Government's permission...

So you end up not being able to afford to pay teachers or keep the school you close.

Ah, socialism at work...

Corruption, stable government and prosperity

“A nation or continent that simply consumes what others create, further burdened by a select few who use their privilege to loot money and live in obscenely wealthy conditions, without generating wealth themselves, faces a serious challenge in the quest for development and growth.”

For this reason, it is of great importance to develop an entrepreneurial class on the continent and ensure that they are armed with all the tools that are required within the framework of modern enterprise, he says.

“A lot of emphasis has to be placed on improving systems, using effective technology and creative ways of doing business. The reality is that with the ‘global’ village being a reality, the only way to achieve survival at a continental and national level is ensuring that we keep up with international trends.”

Grooming effective “interpreneurial leadership” is going to be a critical component of the thrust towards developing the continent. This means developing a strong small-to medium business base and ensuring that these have the capacity to create employment and wealth.

Ade says it is on this basis that he will be speaking on the dynamics of starting and growing a business through good leadership.

“I believe that there are a lot of people who have the potential to start and develop businesses, but they are always waiting until they have enough money, until the right opportunity comes along or until they are in the right frame of mind to start. This is the wrong way of going about it. Business entails a great deal of risk. Of course, this has to be within reasonable levels. But it is important to emphasise that at some stage, starting a business entails taking the plunge.”


Another lecture on Black empowerment, by a South African Entrepeneur says...

While he believes the South African government has taken a bold stance on Black Economic Empowerment, creating valuable opportunities for black people to enter the economic mainstream, these opportunities will not be exploited fully.

“There is a common perception that empowerment deals have come to be the privilege of a few black people. There is a lot of truth in this. Partly, this trajectory came about because there are only a certain number of black business people who have access to the fi nance, the skills pool and the deals themselves.” The answer? “Widen the poo l of black empowerment participants by identifying suitable candidates and taking them into the pool by the hand. Put simply, people would feel comfortable with giving me an empowerment deal because they believe I have the track record, the access to fi nance and the skills to make a success of it. By bringing in a young executive to run the business, I am giving that person an opportunity to become a big player in the marketplace.”

For Mashaba, Black Economic Empowerment is crucial to the success of South Africa as a country that offers equitable opportunity. The challenge lies in the fact that while at a political level, one can come up with policy and legislation to drive things in a chosen direction, this is not the case in business. Issues such as capacity, development of governance, the attitude of the fi nancial markets and other factors can play a major role in turning a good concept into a huge failure.

Good rains, but where is the harvest?

World Food Program officials have called a meeting with authorities in Harare to take a closer look at the outlook for food supplies amid forecasts that shortages of maize and wheat are unlikely to be significantly relieved by the upcoming harvest.

The WFP had previously said it intended to scale back food distribution in the country as recent heavy rains prompted expectations of a good harvest, but its spokesman for Southern Africa, Mike Huggins, said plans could change based on findings.

The Food Security Early Warning System of the Southern African Development Community warns that Zimbabwe could experience a maize supply shortfall of more than 1.3 million tonnes in the current market season. Wheat is scarce too: the head of the Zimbabwe Millers Association said reserves could run out in a few weeks.

The Commercial Farmers Union says the winter wheat harvest shortly to begin will be disappointing, forecasting a total yield this year of just 95,000 tonnes compared with the 450,000 tonnes the country needs to reap to meet its annual requirements.

Mine grab take three

For its part, the spirit of the empowerment ethic is something industry accepts, fully. For decades black Zimbabweans were denied ownership rights in a racially skewed ownership structure. Gradual changes occurred when Zimbabwe became independent and prohibitive legislation was lifted.

But the challenge has always been access to mineral rights in an industry monopolised by a handful of foreign companies and which requires mammoth capital outlays in exploration activities and equity stakes.

So it comes as no surprise that while the industry has supported the underlying objectives of the legislation – to address the racial and economic inequities of the past – mining houses have some grave reservations about the absence of a sensible funding proposition for 'indigenisation'.

"We are happy to ‘indigenise’ as soon as we know what the rules are," says Greg Hunter, Chief Executive Officer of Metallon Gold.

For the past three years, mining companies have struggled to find a suitable partner for meaningful ‘indigenisation’. Metallon Gold is one of South Africa's giant mining companies that have set base in Zimbabwe but is struggling to put together an empowerment deal. The group owns five gold mines in the country, How Mine in Bulawayo, Redwing in Manicaland, Shamva, Arcturus and Mazowe in the north with a production of 180 000 ounces per year.

"We currently have an agreement with a consortium called Manyame Consortium. But the reality behind that is that we are in the process of unwinding that agreement," says Hunter.

Manyame, comprising businessmen John Mkushi, Albert Nhau and banker Mthuli Ncube acquired a 30 percent stake in Metallon Gold Zimbabwe in 2003. Reports indicate that Metallon had offered the consortium $3mn to end their interest in the company, an offer the empowerment group rejected. But Hunter says the marriage cannot continue.

"As a company we absolutely remain committed to ‘indigenisation’. That (30) percentage has been set aside for an ‘indigenous’ partner and we will do something but we think it would be best for both parties that we move in our own different directions," he says.

"The truth of the matter is that they haven't paid for their stake. They paid for an initial tranche of a $1mn and they were going to pay for the rest through payment of dividends."

As things stand, the state has discretionary powers to enforce the concession of shares to black empowerment entities without a right to appeal to the courts and with the potential to undermine property rights.

Mugabe plans to grab mines: India, South Africa involved

...Zimbabwean sources stated that Zimbabwean Minister of Mines Amos Midzi had revealed that a draft had been approved by cabinet that would force mining companies to give up 51 percent of their assets to government. Only 26 percent of the stake would be paid for.

Midzi added that in cases where external shareholders did not co-operate, foreign investors who would would be asked to take up the remaining equities. It was not made clear whether new investors would have to pay the government or the ousted investors in this scenario.

India's Global Infrastructures, who has recently signed a 20-year deal to sort out Zimbabwe Iron and Steel Company, would not comment on whether the plans would make it rethink the venture....

mugabe intends to grab mines, wreck those industries too....

JOHANNESBURG, 7 March (IRIN) - Mining company Implats says the Zimbabwe government's plan to take a 51 percent controlling interest in mining operations in the country "is not in the best interests of developing the platinum industry in Zimbabwe".Newspapers in South Africa and Zimbabwe have devoted many column inches to the news that the government planned to become the majority shareholder in the country's estimated US $20 billion mining sector.According to South Africa's Business Day, Zimbabwean Minister of Mines Amos Midzi told the Zimbabwe Chamber of Mines last week that the cabinet had approved draft proposals requiring mining companies to surrender 51 percent of their assets to the government and/or indigenous groups, depending on the commodity. The government would pay only for 26 percent and the remainder would be a "free carry".Midzi reportedly warned that alternative foreign investors had been identified to take over equity in mines if the current external shareholders did not co-operate...

The proposal was thus intended to ensure that Zimbabwe "benefits from its own resources".The "free carry" part of the scheme was based on the belief that the government would warehouse those shares for eventual purchase by indigenous groups.But, he cautioned, "we must be very careful - already Zimbabwe is perceived as a lawless country, and as people who do not respect international agreements." Taking a fast-track land restitution approach to reforming the ownership structure of the mining sector could mirror the effects of farm invasions on agriculture."This [mining sector reform] must be executed in a manner that is beneficial to mining companies as well as government, particularly at this delicate stage where we want to be perceived as willing to be part and parcel of the global community," Nikisi said. ..

Sounds good on paper: Let the locals take over the mines and reap profit.
Ah, but what that means is that the government will force out foreign investment and let locals (read corrupt politicians and their friends) buy the shares with useless money.
Since outside investment is stopped, the mines won't be upgraded, since equipment costs money...and who is going to invest money into a business that won't reap profit?

5 billion dollars could end hunger

LONDON (Reuters) - Hunger and starvation among African children could be eliminated for $5 billion (2.9 billion pounds), the head of the World Food Programme (WFP) said on Tuesday.

Speaking to reporters after a trip to drought-hit eastern Africa, WFP executive director James Morris said getting children fed and into schools was the most powerful investment Africa could make for its future.

"We could eliminate hunger among children in Africa for $5 billion," said Morris....
Tens of billions of dollars of aid has been poured into Africa in the past 45 years but the continent remains the poorest on the planet. The bottom 24 countries in the U.N.'s human development index last year were all in Africa.

Western countries blame poor governance and corruption for the lack of improvement in living standards in Africa, despite the huge sums of aid.

Morris, battling with rival agencies to raise money from donor nations to fund WFP campaigns, said the only way to transform Africa was to transform the people there....

Facing increased competition for aid money, WFP has said in the past donors should adopt a "food first" policy, fighting hunger and malnutrition before putting development aid into infrastructure projects such a roads and ports.

Monday, March 06, 2006


Gates of Vienna has a post on vaginal vesicle fistulas.

Ironically, I never saw a case, because most are due to long obstructed labour, and in certain parts of Africa, this is more common due to female circumcision.

Female circumcision is not done in the tribes of Zimbabwe, although some groups do circumcize boys at puberty...but I did see a few cases when I worked in Liberia

Printing paper money leads to hyperinflation

The actual headline is that the IMF contributed to Zim's high inflation rate...

But if you read the whole article, you find it's because , instead of generating true revenue, Mugabe merely had them print worthless money, and sold it to suckers as foreign exchange to pay the IMF...

Hunting brings money to Zim

HARARE, Zimbabwe (AP) - Foreign big game hunters bid $1.5 million US to shoot leopards, lions, elephants and buffaloes in Zimbabwe this year, the state media reported Sunday.

In an annual state auction for hunting trophy "bags" on Friday, 64 local agents and foreign hunters, including bidders from Austria, Germany, Russia, Spain and the United States, paid a fixed fee of $40 US for a license to kill a lion, the state Sunday Mail newspaper reported.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

How to write about Africa

Always use the word 'Africa' or 'Darkness' or 'Safari' in your title. Subtitles may include the words 'Zanzibar', 'Masai', 'Zulu', 'Zambezi', 'Congo', 'Nile', 'Big', 'Sky', 'Shadow', 'Drum', 'Sun' or 'Bygone'. Also useful are words such as 'Guerrillas', 'Timeless', 'Primordial' and 'Tribal'. Note that 'People' means Africans who are not black, while 'The People' means black Africans.

Never have a picture of a well-adjusted African on the cover of your book, or in it, unless that African has won the Nobel Prize. An AK-47, prominent ribs, naked breasts: use these. If you must include an African, make sure you get one in Masai or Zulu or Dogon dress.

In your text, treat Africa as if it were one country. ...

Taboo subjects: ordinary domestic scenes, love between Africans (unless a death is involved), references to African writers or intellectuals, mention of school-going children who are not suffering from yaws or Ebola fever or female genital mutilation....

Your African characters may include naked warriors, loyal servants, diviners and seers, ancient wise men living in hermitic splendour. Or corrupt politicians, inept polygamous travel-guides, and prostitutes you have slept with. The Loyal Servant always behaves like a seven-year-old and needs a firm hand; he is scared of snakes, good with children, and always involving you in his complex domestic dramas. The Ancient Wise Man always comes from a noble tribe (not the money-grubbing tribes like the Gikuyu, the Igbo or the Shona). He has rheumy eyes and is close to the Earth. The Modern African is a fat man who steals and works in the visa office, refusing to give work permits to qualified Westerners who really care about Africa. He is an enemy of development, always using his government job to make it difficult for pragmatic and good-hearted expats to set up NGOs or Legal Conservation Areas....

Broad brushstrokes throughout are good. Avoid having the African characters laugh, or struggle to educate their kids, or just make do in mundane circumstances. Have them illuminate something about Europe or America in Africa. African characters should be colourful, exotic, larger than life—but empty inside,...Animals, on the other hand, must be treated as well rounded, complex characters....

Elephants may attack people's property, destroy their crops, and even kill them. Always take the side of the elephant.

I laughed so hard at this, because it is true...

You know the only US movie/tv show that showed ordinary Africans? It was the mini series Roots...and that was quite awhile ago...

Saturday, March 04, 2006

Food aid not only way to stop malnutrition

Article points out the obvious: Free food ends up in the black market, being sold for profit...and feeding school age kids won't stop most malnutrition deaths and physical/intellectual damage which is caused by malnutrition in the womb and early childhood...

LACK of food is not usually the main cause of malnutrition among children in poor countries, the World Bank says. And large, politically popular programs to feed them are the wrong way to tackle the problem, it says....

The focus should be on teaching mothers to properly feed and care for babies and toddlers, it says.

The bank's recommendations will be controversial at a time when the world is pushing to halve poverty in the next decade and school feeding programs are often seen as part of the solution ...

Nutritionists at the bank say programs should emphasise changing the behaviour of mothers - for example, to breastfeed exclusively for the first six months and to seek quick treatment for their children's diarrhoea and other common childhood illnesses, rather than directly providing food.

This is what we did with our "under fives" clinics....
You see, except when there is actual food shortage, often young children cannot digest adult food...
They need breast milk for two get rid of all those "feed baby( expensive imported) baby formula...and insist on breast milk.
Since if mom gets pregnant, her milk decreases, encourage supplementing the traditional sexual abstinence of breast feeding women with birth control....the pill decreases breast milk but Depo Provera actually increases it...
Most people in Zim eat maize based sadza. Encourage more easily digested grains for the kids.
These grains also are great to grow when the rains are not enough for maize...but the yield is not as good, so are planted less...
Import baby chicks and teach classes in caring for them...most chickens are free range in villages, and the eggs get lost. Teach them to make chicken they will have eggs for dad and the chickens
(in African culture, the man gets the best food...this is not cruel, since if he dies, everyone dies...but if you get a half dozen chickens you will have more than one egg, and everyone can get nutrition).
We also had a "rabbit raising" class for our school kids.
Finally, we had village health workers, to screen for malnutrition and to treat diarrhea with cheap, effective WHO rehydrating solution.
Have baby clinics to give out shots.
And have a "nutrition" center, for moms to live as outpatients while we feed up the "at risk" see, if you wait until he has kwashiorkor or marasmus, and he gets sick, you'll spend a fortune on medicine and he'll probably die anyway...

Oh yes: When there is actual famine, have the churches and NGO's give food personally...not the governments.

Here's an example from a Malawi web page LINK

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Yes, No, maybe

US extends sanctions against Zim's government
The decision renews his executive orders of March 2003 and November 2005, which freeze the assets of more than 100 people and 30 entities considered to be opposing reforms in Zimbabwe.

India business deal invests in Zim

HARARE (Reuters) - India's Global Steel Holdings said on Wednesday it would invest $400 million to rehabilitate Zimbabwe's ailing government-owned iron and steel works in a deal expected to boost output by more than 17 times.

The state-owned Zimbabwe and Steel Company (Ziscosteel), a key foreign currency earner before independence in 1980, has been plagued for more than a decade by a lack of capital to re-equip its plant.

"Ziscosteel has entered into a management contract with Global Steel Holdings Limited (GSHL) ... whereby GSHL would inject foreign currency for rehabilitation of Ziscosteel plant components," Zimbabwe central bank Governor Gideon Gono told a briefing attended by the Zimbabwe government and Global Steel officials in Harare.

The deal gives Global Steel a 20-year management contract for the plant, which will remain government-owned. The agreement marks one of the biggest foreign investments seen in recent years in Zimbabwe, which is struggling in the sixth year of a deep economic and political crisis.

EU Gives Zim 12 million Euros in Aid

Harare, Zimbabwe, 03/01 - The European Commission (EC), an arm of the European Union, Tuesday announced it had given Zimbabwe 12 million euros for humanitarian relief for the poor.

The donation follows another, of 19 million euros, the EC gave to Zimbabwe last week to cover the health sector for three years.

The EC said the humanitarian aid would cover areas such as food assistance and provision of clean water.

"The Commission`s objectives are to reinforce immediate food security needs and linking them with long-term recovery programmes."

They are also meant "to increase access to safe water sources and basic sanitation facilities and to contribute towards meeting the emergency needs of internally displaced persons and other venerable groups by providing them with food and non-food items," the EC said in a press release.

The European Union, citing alleged human rights violations and poor governance, has cut all aid to Zimbabwe except humanitarian assistance.

Hmmm...the investment by the Indian company is TEN TIMES the aid of the entire European Union...sorry, but 12 million Euros is not a lot of money...

I'll give a comparison: Amazon, the internet bookseller, raised 3.8 million dollars for tsunami victims...and that doesn't include the corporations and private gifts.

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