Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Mugabe goes ape over bull

Go to link....reporter gets arrested for using foreign currancy...and met a man who stole from the beloved president of Zimbabwe...because he "borrowed" a prize bull donated by China to Mugabe and took it to his own farm to mate with his cows.

He ended up with four years in jail for cattle rustling, but when time came to be released, he stayed in jail...

The bull, however, is back home and happy.

Demonstrators in Bulawayo protest shortages

Zimbabwe women's group and male counterpart demonstrated Monday in Bulawayo, the country's second-largest city, against the widespread and acute shortage of food and other essential goods following a government move to roll back prices.

More than 200 members of Women of Zimbabwe Arise, and its male consort, Men of Zimbabwe Arise, staged peaceful protests at multiple locations in the city.

WOZA members demonstrated in 10 areas in high-density suburbs, targeting local shops and businesses and demanding “affordable food on the shelves and an end to selling to cronies and the uniformed forces out the back door." Police have been reported to have imposed price cuts then cleaned out available stocks....


Elsewhere, four National Constitutional Assembly activists arrested in Mutare late last week for protesting to demand a new constitution were released Monday on Z$3.5 million bail each.They are charged with demonstrating without permission.

NCA members hospitalized in Harare after alleged police beatings were released on Saturday. Madhuku said police who had sealed off the civic group’s offices in the capital last week, arresting scores, had dispersed by Sunday

Monday, July 30, 2007

Mugabe's elite shop in special shops while population starves

al supermarket is unlike any other shop in Zimbabwe. Elsewhere there are empty shelves where bread, butter, sugar, meat and the staple maize meal should be.

But at the Spar in Borrowdale Brooke - a suburb of the capital, Harare, near the President's palatial home - almost anything is available, including focaccia, sun-dried tomatoes and cigars.

The difference typifies a nation where a ruling elite enjoys wealth and privilege, while the vast majority exists in grinding poverty and struggle to survive....

Its ownership may have something to do with it. The proprietor is Ray Kaukonde, the Governor of Mashonaland East province. He is a close lieutenant of Solomon Mujuru, a former army commander whose wife, Joyce, is one of Mr Mugabe's two vice-presidents. The clientele is similarly well connected.

In the sprawling dormitory suburb of Chitungwiza, the TM superstore is a forlorn contrast. There is no bread, no fresh meat, no maize meal. Few shoppers bother to go. What they can afford is unavailable and what there is, they do not want.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Thursday, July 26, 2007

The World Cup...the really important issu

South African soccer fans worried that Zimbabwean turmoil will mar the tournament.

By Zakeus Chibaya in Johannesburg (AR No. 121, 10-July-07)

Football fans in South Africa are urging their government to try to solve the political and economic crisis in Zimbabwe before hosting the World Cup finals in 2010.

They say it would be grossly insensitive to stage the tournament while Zimbabweans suffer, and they fear President Robert Mugabe’s repressive policies could to lead to violence in South Africa during the event.

Pretoria officials appear to share these anxieties, but have been keen to stress that their primary concern is the welfare of Zimbabweans and southern Africans in general.

“We remain concerned not only about the effects on the people of Zimbabwe but the effect on the region as a whole,” said Aziz Pahad, South Africa’s deputy foreign affairs minister.

However, some political observers are sceptical about Pretoria’s efforts to help resolve the crisis in Zimbabwe. ...

A European parliament resolution last year said it “strongly insists that the Mugabe regime must derive absolutely no financial benefit or propaganda value from either the run-up to the 2010 World Cup or the tournament itself; in this regard, [the EU] calls on South Africa, the host nation, and on FIFA to exclude Zimbabwe from participating in pre-World Cup matches, holding international friendly games, or hosting national teams involved in the event”.

If it is still in turmoil when the tournament kicks off, the organisers could be facing serious problems in South Africa and Zimbabwe, should it still be included as a base for participating teams.

An estimated 40,000 Zimbabweans cross into South Africa illegally every month, fleeing an unemployment rate of 80 per cent and hyperinflation of 3,700 per cent. The exodus is causing xenophobia-induced violence in South Africa, and the situation is going to get worse as South Africans and Zimbabweans jostle for jobs during the World Cup.

“Zimbabwe has been turned into a military state by Mugabe and it poses a security threat to South Africa hosting the World Cup,” said political analyst Edditon Maloba.

At the same time, there’s concern that foreign football fans visiting Zimbabwe in advance of the tournament may be harassed by the authorities. “Foreigners will be accused of spying or trying to topple the government,” continued Maloba, who also warns that many participating countries will refuse to train in Zimbabwe because of its bad human rights record.

The situation in Zimbabwe has already forced some sporting events to be cancelled - reminiscent of 2003, when a number of countries refused to play their matches there during the Cricket World Cup.

Post Mugabe quandry

As the Zimbabwean crisis deepens, analysts are already exploring which political party would be best equipped to turn around the country’s fortunes in the post-Mugabe era.

Many observers, including outgoing United States ambassador to Zimbabwe, Christopher Dell, have predicted the demise of President Robert Mugabe’s regime in six months. Mugabe has no choice but to step down by September this year, for the good of himself, the country and his ruling Zanu-PF party, said ZANU-PF insider Ibbo Mandaza....

Zimbabwe faces a combined presidential and parliamentary election early next year which many are pinning their hopes on to bring about much-needed change to the country. However, commentators say the poll may not in itself be the solution, even if it is held in a free and fair atmosphere.

It’s thought South African president Thabo Mbeki, who is currently seeking to mediate in the Zimbabwean political crisis, and Britain, the former colonial power, prefer a reformed ZANU-PF as the way forward.

But Arthur Mutambara, leader of one of the factions of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change, MDC, said this option was unlikely to work.

“The international community, particularly western governments, have shown a keen interest in the jockeying for positions among ZANU-PF factions, which seems to imply that if any one of the factions were to successfully replace Mugabe they would consider normalising relations with Zimbabwe,” he wrote in an opinion piece for a Zimbabwean news site.

“The thinking seems to be that the problem is Robert Mugabe the person, and that anyone else will do just fine.”

In his piece, Mutambara argues that ZANU-PF as a political construct is beyond redemption and should not have a future in the new Zimbabwe, “First and foremost, the Zimbabwean crisis is bigger than the person of Robert Mugabe. There are institutional, structural and systemic dimensions to the challenges we are facing....



A news article[v] from the super-reformer Republic of Georgia[vi] echoes these concerns. After listing grievances of the challenges of the informal sector and that banks have chosen to lend to bigger, more reliable businesses, a Credit Access Manager with the SME Support Project in Georgia notes the challenges faced by SME owners:

"Most keep financial accounts in notebooks. Sometimes they look quite funny, they just write: 'I sold this item and bought that item.' They lack systemization as a rule."

The severity of this problem in Africa is reflected by a simple statistic: while India has over 1,000 business schools and the U.S. has about 1,200, Africa has under 50. The consequences of such a discrepancy cannot always be observed in the short-term, but the development world cannot underestimate the importance of formal business education. The Association of African Business Schools[vii] (AABS), organized by the International Finance Corporation's Global Business School Network, is a quiet but crucial voice in a sector where passions thrive on shirtsleeves and megaphones. The AABS member schools collaborate to improve the standards and increase accreditation of business schools in Africa. Right now, only one school, the University of Cape Town in South Africa, ranks within the Top 100 Business Schools on the 2007 Financial Times Global MBA[viii] Index.

But more entrepreneurial Africans in the middle and lower-middle classes should also have the opportunity to attend decent business schools close to home, preventing brain drain and catalyzing larger-scale local business development. As the AABS addresses the quality of business schools, private donors can look to increase the quantity of these schools. Organizations such as the Skoll Foundation, Gates Foundation, and other private sector donors have continued to demonstrate their desire to engage in more intelligent and active philanthropy....

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

prayer service for Ncube

....Katazo added that many people viewed the case as a government created distraction from the hardships people are facing. Condemnation of the Archbishop was also instigated the last time there was an election. Katazo explained that the Archbishop was then accused of being a puppet of British prime minister Tony Blair. He said this time a lot of pornography was used, which is against our culture and against our traditional laws.

A report in the Standard newspaper said Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) believes the drama was a "diversionary tactic" and they were aware of the "underhand tactics" used worldwide to silence human rights defenders.....

Situation in Zim "intolorable" says Annan


Durban, Jul 23 (PTI) Former UN secretary general Kofi Annan has urged African leaders to practice good governance and observe human rights to lift the continent out of poverty, saying peace and security was necessary to achieve sustainable progress.
Annan, speaking in Johannesburg where he delivered the 5th Nelson Mandela Annual Lecture, strongly criticised the human rights abuses and lack of peace and security in many countries, and said the deteriorating situation in Zimbabwe was "intolerable." "Only when government is grounded in the rule of law, and it is fairly and consistently applied, can society rest on a solid foundation," Annan said.

"The rule of law, like peace and security, is a prerequisite to strong and sustained development. And without prosperity and opportunity that are widely shared, peace cannot last long and democratic institutions cannot truly flourish." He, however, pointed out that Africa had seen real and measurable progress over the past decade. "Many bloody civil wars have ended and there are fewer inter-state conflicts than there used to be. I am proud that the UN has been an important actor in resolving conflicts," Annan said.

The former UN head praised the African Union for its role in resolving conflicts, and said South Africa, under President Thabo Mbeki's leadership, has played a "major role." "Through the African Union we are learning to better manage and resolve conflicts and, most importantly, to prevent new ones from breaking out," he said. PTI

China in Africa

Series of articles at link

Monday, July 23, 2007

No power, no water, no transport, no phones

Telephone communication is becoming increasingly difficult. Fixed lines are more reliable that the mobile networks, but the power cuts affect substations that operate on batteries. These need a steady supply of electricity to remain charged. Mobile lines are worse. The networks were over subscribed anyway and that problem has increased because of the forced reduction in costs, making access more affordable.

Then there is the transport nightmare. Raath said the government clampdown has made fuel even more scarce. And the price per litre is much higher than the reduced fares stipulated by government. Raath said 2 weeks ago fuel was selling at Z$180,000 per litre. It is now selling at Z$250,000 per litre.

Raath described the water supplies as “erratic”....

Raath said he cannot claim that the system has totally collapsed, but at the current rate of deterioration total collapse is imminent....

Zim exiles call for assistance to Zim refugees

Exactly what should South Africa do with the thousands of Zimbabwean refugees flooding into that country? This has suddenly become an urgent issue for the South African authorities who have been accused of doing nothing to accommodate them. But the recent price reductions forced on businesses in Zimbabwe by government have worsened shortages and closed shops, causing a dramatic increase in the numbers crossing over illegally into South Africa. A policy of arresting and deporting those who are caught is all that has existed so far. Within days many of those deported try their luck again, all at a huge cost to the government of South Africa.
The Zimbabwe Exiles Forum...director Gabriel Shumba said camps would stigmatise Zimbabweans through segregation and restrict their right to freedom of movement. He explained that camps would also create opportunities for human rights abuses as they would turn into glorified detention centres. Shumba added that he feared camps would pose many risks, including the outbreak of epidemics.

The trade unions are planning to help however...

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Zim fund to take over failed firms

The Zimbabwean government has set up a fund to revive firms shut down because of Harare's blitz to slash rising consumer prices, media reports said Saturday.

The state-run Herald newspaper said the government had set aside 30 billion Zimbabwe dollars (214,000 US dollars) to revive the defunct State Trading Corporation to run firms that have either collapsed or were seized. .....

"I will hate a stage where I will be forced to take over the companies from you, but if you do not co-operate that is what is going to happen and this is the position of government."

Although Mpofu ordered businesses to halve the prices of their goods and services three weeks ago, he said the government is working on a pricing formula to ensure business viability.


Friday, July 20, 2007

Absurd stuff of the day

Mugabe may have destroyed his main opponant by setting him up with a girlfriend, complete with camera.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Zim opposition plans economic revival

Biti said the economic forum would be an all-inclusive discourse.

“It’s not an MDC conference. The MDC might be sponsoring it and initiating the idea, but it’s a Zimbabwean conference. So we hope to have experts from the Diaspora and experts from people who have been in such situations, and so forth. And of course you need to have an international experience. So this is a conference about Zimbabwe, by Zimbabweans for Zimbabweans, with international partners. So it’s not an MDC conference,” Biti noted.

He says the MDC intends to invite members of the ruling ZANU-PF party to be part of the conference.

“We would like to see ZANU-PF at the conference. Certainly, an invitation would be sent to them,” he said.

When in trouble, smear your opponant

Once again Robert Mugabe, the master of propaganda and dirty tricks, has the whole country talking about allegations that have been brought against Roman Catholic Archbishop Pius Ncube, rather than the price controls that threaten to destroy the country.

Zimbabwe is awash with stories that Archbishop Ncube is being sued for adultery. According to reports in the state controlled media, the cleric, who is Robert Mugabe harshest critic, allegedly had a two-year affair with a married parishioner who is also an official in his church. The Archbishop’s lawyer Nicholas Mathonsi described the allegations as an orchestrated attempt to discredit his client. He said: “I think a line must be drawn between someone who has been found guilty by a court of law and somebody who is being tried in public for political expedience.”

Although the allegations have shocked many people it is not Ncube’s guilt or innocence that people are talking about. It is the suspicious nature of the photographs published in the state media and the carefully planned handing over of the summons and the state media feeding frenzy that followed. ...

Lawyer David Coltart said: “The amount of publicity given to this matter is highly unusual and it lends credence to those who say that this is something that is orchestrated by the state.” He added that remarks made by Mugabe last week saying there were some priests who vowed to be celibate, but are not, is proof that he had full knowledge of this, way before the matter came to light on Monday. Coltart said the graphic naked photographs of the woman who is implicated in this case that appeared in the Chronicle newspaper have disgusted many people. He said: “How she has been treated goes against the culture of Zimbabweans and it is disgusting that the regime has stooped so low.”

The state has strong reasons for wanting to discredit Pius Ncube and an alleged sexual scandal is the most effective way of silencing their most outspoken critic. The regime has over the years leveled a variety of accusations against the outspoken cleric in the hope of silencing him. They have also tarnished other senior clerics with allegations of sexual impropriety, such as the Methodist Bishop Charles Mugaviri, who was proved to be innocent.

Observers say Ncube has a high profile in and outside the country and because of this the regime could not easily kill him as they did with little known cameraman Edward Chikomba, or opposition activist Gift Tandare.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Government smears Ncube

Zim's archbishop accused of adultery

gee, wonder why it came out now?

But the funniest line in the entire article:

Adultery is illegal, although rarely prosecuted, in Zimbabwe.

If they started prosecuting all the bigshots who commit adultery in Zim, they wouldn't need money to run the government.

The accusation comes a week after Archbishop Ncube returned from South Africa, where he launched a report that accused the Zimbabwean state of torture and illegal killings. "Mugabe is a man who is a megalomaniac. He loves power, he lives for power. Even his own party is appealing to him to step down," he said in Johannesburg.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Zimbabwe's internet censorship

Following up on a previous BB post about internet-related aspects of the current meltdown in Zimbabwe, BoingBoing reader Bretton Vine writes:

I'm in from South Africa, currently experiencing what the popular media calls a 'human tsunami' of illegal immigrants from Zimbabwe across our borders for everything from work to medicine and even basic foodstuffs which are smuggled back into Zimbabwe for resale.

The recent enforcing of price controls has left Zimbabwe shelves empty, militia going ape, major cross-border escape (5000 captured in last two weeks, and that's barely a dent in the number that make it though).

Add to this is bittersweet irony that the 'Rainbow Nation' of South Africa is experiencing a form of African xenophobia historically unparalleled despite more than a decade since apartheid become the past. But this is another heated discussion not related to my email.

I just wanted to point out that the Internet Service Providers' Association of South Africa hosts an annual free Internet conference every year, with this year being out 6th.

Back in 2004 we had Declan McCullagh out for one of the talks[1, 2]. While he certainly seemed to enjoy himself, he also left a huge impression over interception issues (and made some government people quite uncomfortable in the process). At last year's event (10th anniversary for ISPA, 5th for iWeek) we even had vendors for lawful intercept technology exhibiting and giving talks [3] along with talks from Wim Roggeman[4], Prof Michael Rotert[5] and representatives from the OIC (central interception spooks, not clearly functional yet) trying hard to remain inconspicuous in their suits among geeks of varying shapes and sizes.

With regard to the whole Interception in Zimbabwe issue it's a little bit of a non-event given so few people have access to either phones or the Internet in that country, and that no Zim ISP can afford to purchase the equipment necessary to implement anyway.

It's a slightly similar situation here in South Africa, except for the following...

* our legislation is older :-P

* we have 30+million cellphone users

* we have ~5 million internet users (give or take a few)

* ISPs/ISOC have been fighting the fight for a decade, and especially with regard to issues such as forcing ISPs to pay for interception equipment from the ISPA perspective

* we *didn't* more than 50 stories within 7 days in all the world's major newspapers (online and off) despite having just as draconian an attempt at legislation.

* we're hosting the FIFA world cup in 2010. If you have a cellphone, and are an international visitor you either won't be able to use it, or if you try and obtain local cellular/internet access you'll have to prove identity (original and certified copy) plus understand that the providers are forced to provide intercept capabilities as well as other inane things.

* the ECT act requires authors/developers/publishers of cryptography software to register and make themselves available for 'decryption assistance' or 'decryption warrants' (clearly the repeated attempts at explaining public-key crypto were ignored ...)

There's a mountain more relevant information, but the following is from sites I maintain: Link 1, Link 2, Link 3, Link 4.

And this site needs an update, we're just for workload to drop but the relevant legislation is there: Link.

At the moment due to uncertainty over ETSI standards and overseas policy it seems that the OIC is sticking to real-time intercept capabilities as opposed to data retention, but unrelated legislation places onerous requirements for the keeping of records, financial or otherwise, in electronic format.

So yes, Zim is quite fscked, but the people affected by the interception legislation (which essentially just makes legal an established practise and passes to the costs to business) are in the thousands, while in this country it's in the the millions.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Eviction of UZ students illegal


High court Judge Charles Hungwe on Friday ruled that the brutal eviction of more than 5 000 University of Zimbabwe students by riot police on Monday was illegal.

The Zimbabwe National Students Association on Wednesday filed an urgent High court application challenging the eviction. Heavily armed police gave students 30 minutes to remove their possessions from the hostels. ZINASU President Promise Mkwananzi told Newsreel they have already started working on returning the students back to campus. He said they will not wait for the authorities to comply with the order.

Mkwananzi blamed the eviction fiasco on the UZ Vice Chancellor Professor Levi Nyagura whom he accused of taking orders from Zanu (PF) officials....

2008 election rigging has started

A reliable source in the Ministry of Home Affairs has revealed that while frustrated Zimbabweans queue in their thousands to obtain their birth certificates, identity and passport documents, Government has hijacked the process and is clandestinely handing out documents to Zanu-PF supporters. "These supporters from far off places are preferentially given identity cards and passports and registered as voters", this is in order to reconfigure the Harare and Bulawayo urban constituency voters rolls ahead of the 2008 harmonised elections.

Zimbabwe's electoral law allows only holders of national identity cards and passports to vote.


In the parliamentary election of 2005, former MDC spokesman Paul Themba Nyathi lost the Gwanda constituency seat to Zanu-PF after the CIO secretly registered thousands of graduates from the Border Gezi youth militia.

Many see this as on reason why, in 2005, the Zanu PF government embarked on 'Operation Murambatsvina' or 'Clear out the Trash', a police operation to destroy homes belonging to poor urbanites, exposing victims to the cold winter. Despite condemnation by the United Nations (UN), President Robert Mugabe endorsed the action, arguing that these were necessary slum clearances. Homeless victims, many of whom were MDC supporters, were forcibly removed to remote areas and rendered unable to vote since they are now far from where they are registered to vote.

Government is also setting up self-help and grocery clubs for Zanu-PF supporters with funds drawn from the fiscus, and these have also been associated with clandestine voter registration.

Self-help projects, the brainchild of Vice President Joice Mujuru, entail chicken rearing and the supply of farm fertilizer and these are targeted at boosting the morale of personnel in the army and police force. According to our sources, beneficiaries of the project are secretly registered as voters to swell the Harare and Bulawayo urban constituency voters roll.

Grocery clubs, led by Ministers Oppah Rushesha and Sithembiso Nyoni, buy scarce commodities such as cooking oil and washing soap in Botswana and South Africa for profit sale back home. Many interpret this as an open admission by the government of having ruined the economy. Grocery club members are each given Z$10 million sourced from the Reserve Bank - this is to facilitate the purchase of scarce commodities. They are then directed to illegally buy foreign currency in the streets. Again, sources say that beneficiaries are being registered as voters in Bulawayo.

Church report accuses gov't of violent oppression

The outspoken Catholic archbishop of Bulawayo Pius Ncube has urged President Robert Mugabe to step down as the country faces deepening political and economic woes.

"Mugabe is a man who is a megalomaniac. He loves power, he lives for power. Even his own party is appealing to him to step down. Zimbabweans are desperate to offer him anything [for him] to relinquish power," IPS quotes him as telling journalists in Johannesburg, Tuesday.

Archbishop Ncube was launching a report titled 'Destructive Engagement: Violence, Mediation and Politics in Zimbabwe', published by the Solidarity Peace Trust. He chairs the church-based non-governmental organization which aims to further justice and peace in Zimbabwe.

In the 44-page document, the trust accuses the Mugabe regime of continuing to use violence against its political opponents in order to cling to power.

"Out of 414 individuals interviewed, 30 percent, or 122, reported torture between March, April and May 2007. This is a shockingly high figure, yet it represents [only a] tip of the iceberg in Zimbabwe. Apart from politically motivated torture, torture of those arrested on suspicion of having committed a criminal offence is routine in Zimbabwe," notes the report.

"In 90 percent of the attacks, government agencies such as the police, Central Intelligence Organization (CIO), Criminal Investigation Department (CID) and army" were involved, it adds. More than three-quarters of reported cases were in the capital, Harare, "one of the two major urban areas considered to be opposition territory".....

Friday, July 13, 2007

Zim economy tanks

Go to link...long interview with an economist.

Hint: Black market is thriving, everyone else is broke.

River of Africans hit border

Experts say between two and three thousand people are crossing the border every night, as a result of the price cuts crisis that began a couple of weeks ago. Although the influx of Zimbabweans has been growing steadily over the last few years, South Africa has seen a marked jump in recent weeks.

In the past many of the people who fled the country were political refugees but observers say now it’s almost entirely economic refugees. Hunger, combined with years of difficulties, has finally pushed people over the edge.

Journalist Geoff Hill said: “Whereas people used to cross just by the Beit Bridge area, people are now going across the entire length of the South Africa border with Zimbabwe – which is almost 200km – and they are using the whole river to come into South Africa.”

Hill added: “To show concern for that there was a huge South Africa police conference in Messina today.”

South Africa Home Affairs officers and border police working the Limpopo River district also told reporters on Thursday that the flow of economic and political refugees crossing South Africa's northern border has become "a tsunami."

Zuma condemns media on Zim

The minister was speaking to reporters after talks with Italian deputy prime minister Massimo D'Alema.

"The suggestion that Minister Dlamini Zuma called for SADC to intervene in Zimbabwe is erroneous and misleading," said Mamoepa.

"Minister Dlamini-Zuma has confidence in the current SADC initiative on Zimbabwe."

In April, Deputy Minister Aziz Pahad said the SADC executive secretary of SADC was tasked to undertake a study on the country's deteriorating economic situation by an extraordinary SADC summit in March.

"The SADC economic rescue initiative is aimed at assisting the government of Zimbabwe to revive itself from the current economic challenges," he said.

Meanwhile, weekend reports said SADC was putting together a plan to peg the rand to the Zimbabwe dollar by extending the multilateral monetary area of South Africa, Namibia, Lesotho and Swaziland to Zimbabwe.

The SADC secretariat rejected the reports, Zimbabwean newspaper The Herald reported.

"SADC disassociates itself from any reported support packages as they did not originate from its secretariat," said the secretariat. - Sapa

Busineses lose millions to taskforce

The government's price monitoring task forces are reported to be forcing many businesses to reduce their prices beyond the levels stipulated by the new law published last Friday. Shops around the country lost billions on Thursday as the price monitors allowed mobs of shoppers to empty the shelves within hours, buying products at prices made up on the spot. Public transport is also in crisis. According to the state press police in Harare impounded 49 commuter omnibuses and arrested their drivers for overcharging. They are being held at Mbare police station. Our sources in Bulawayo said minibus operators went on a wildcat strike Thursday protesting the reduced fares which they say do not cover their costs for fuel and parts.

Even the state run ZUPCO buses are reported to have stopped operations.

The state run newspapers reported that at least 1 768 business people have been arrested countrywide and 1 328 companies have appeared in court since the government ordered price reductions two weeks ago. They have been ordered to pay fines ranging from Z$70 million to Z$100 million. The deepening crisis has raised fears in South Africa, where the umbrella labour and business unions expressed deep concern for the people in Zimbabwe and the threat to South African businesses....

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Desperate times in Zim


An idea floated at the weekend that an economic lifeline could be thrown from neighbouring South Africa, if the almost worthless Zimbabwe dollar were pegged to the South African rand, is nothing but fantasy. ... Nor would South Africa wish to subsidise Mr Mugabe’s misrule. Nor, indeed, would it be a simple matter to achieve rapid currency union between South Africa (with single digit inflation) and Zimbabwe (six digit inflation, where notes are worth less than toilet paper).

Yet Mr Mugabe is not sitting comfortably.....His people are growing frustrated over the high price of petrol and food, along with their despair at political repression. In the past Mr Mugabe managed to buy off political allies and sustained some popularity (at least in rural areas) by snatching commercial farm land and dishing it out to his supporters. But that trick cannot be repeated. There is some expectation that foreign businesses may be targeted next, but the most valuable ones remaining—mines—will be difficult for Mr Mugabe to grab without upsetting South Africa. That leaves few options.

Instead the president, who famously despises “bookish economics”, has decided to outlaw inflation. Price freezes have only been enforced through the arrest of scores of businessmen who are accused of profiteering. The result: shops are bare of basic goods, as businesses refuse to sell more than a minimum of flour, sugar, maize and other items at a crippling loss. There has been panic buying all over the country. In Harare, the capital, crowds wait outside supermarkets ready to rush in and grab whatever they can. Where basics such as cooking oil are available they are rationed by shopkeepers. Fuel is in short supply, with long queues of cars reappearing outside Harare’s petrol stations. As factories prepare to close operations their owners, in turn, are being arrested and forced to keep operating...."

Ah, but unless he becomes more efficient, the black market will be strong, and people will manage to live thanks to extended family, gifts from abroad, and of course bartering.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

china in Africa

When people talk about China's influence in Africa, they should look at it's long history in South East Asia.
From StrategyPage.

Singapore is the wealthiest nation in the region (over $32,000 per capita GDP, about the same as Australia.) While the Indonesians resent the wealthy Australians, for being foreign (European) interlopers, they have a similar attitude towards Singapore. That's because most Singaporeans are ethnic Chinese. For over a thousand years, Chinese merchants have settled throughout Southeast Asia, and prospered. Although there has been some intermarriage, many of the "Overseas Chinese" communities maintain the Chinese language and customs.

Superior Chinese culture and all that. The usual story. This is resented by the locals (be they Indonesian, Malaysian, Vietnamese, Filipino, well, you get the picture.) The Indonesians believe, with some justification, that the Chinese look down on them, and exploit them.

The Chinese are more ambitious and work harder, and smarter, and the locals often respond by persecuting their Chinese minority. Indonesia has a GDP of only $4,600 (one seventh of Singapore or Australia).

Indonesia believes Singapore, in particular (because of about four million Indonesians of Chinese ancestry) should do more to help Indonesia become wealthier, and better equipped for combat. The new defense agreement provided Indonesia with one important benefit; extradition of Indonesian criminals who have fled to Singapore. This includes corrupt officials, which Indonesia, per capita, has far more of than Singapore. Meanwhile, Singapore believes it has done its share, and resents being extorted by Indonesian politicians who are merely exploiting racial animosities and stereotypes.

Monday, July 09, 2007

Zim to start using S African Rand?

Zimbabwe's inflation-ravaged economy could be rescued by switching to South Africa's currency in exchange for political concessions by President Robert Mugabe, South Africa's Sunday Independent newspaper reported yesterday.

Quoting unnamed sources, the paper said the Southern African Development Community (SADC) was working on a plan to extend the rand monetary union to Zimbabwe, which would help stabilise the economic crisis in the country, where inflation has rocketed to 4,500%.

The monetary union, under which currencies are pegged to the rand, consists of South Africa, Namibia, Lesotho and Swaziland. The plan would also involve the central banks in South Africa and Botswana injecting huge amounts of funds into their counterpart bank in Zimbabwe, the paper said.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Shoplifters will be persecuted?

TOP del.icio.us

Yesterday I was pushing my mostly empty trolley around a mostly empty supermarket in Greendale. The meat counters which are usually full of meat were full out, flat out of anything. Not even a pigs trotter. I laughed when I saw the big sign on the wall behind the refrigerators saying

Shoplifters will be prosecuted


Africa's problem: Repressive rulers

"....the guru of U.N. development strategy, economist Jeffrey Sachs, goes too far. In a guest column about how the post-Paul Wolfowitz World Bank should tackle Africa - poster-continent of poverty - he dismisses as irrelevant the vast problem of corruption, and doesn't even mention its cause: repressive and rapacious government.

According to Sachs, "The core problem in Africa is not corruption, but the basic lack of infrastructure and services." For the scarcity of roads, sewers and electricity, he blames not the governments of Africa, but simply a lack of money. "The African governments do not have the fiscal means to invest in what's needed, and that would be true even if Mother Teresa were running the local treasury," he writes.

Really? As it happens, Africa's poorest nations are run not by Mother Teresas, but by and large by dictators, as in Zimbabwe, or by embedded crony bureaucracies bestriding only semifunctional democracies, as in Tanzania.

In healthy democracies, politicians stay in power by hashing out rules that allow people to prosper. If they fail, they tend to get voted out of office. But dictators, as a rule, hold on to power by monopolizing resources and favoring themselves and their cronies, and choking off opportunities for their fellow citizens.

The truth is that Africa is rolling in resources, including that most important resource of all - people. What's missing is genuine democracy and fair rule of law.

How to get there is a tough problem, but it won't come by way of the U.N. funneling in yet more billions for aid projects while downplaying gross misrule. The answer starts with acknowledging the real problem - repressive government.

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Mugabe warns firms against halting production

HARARE (Reuters) - Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe on Friday told manufacturers to carry on with normal production despite an official price freeze, warning that his government would seize firms that stopped producing basic goods.

Mugabe was addressing thousands of ruling ZANU-PF party supporters in Harare, some who had earlier marched through Zimbabwe's capital in support of the freeze introduced to curb the world's highest inflation rate of over 4,500 percent.

The march came ahead of a ZANU-PF party meeting to adopt tougher measures against firms defying the freeze, which was introduced last week when the government ordered businesses to put prices back to June 18 levels.


Mugabe again accused businesses of raising prices as part of a wider plot by former colonial power Britain to remove him from power and rejected suggestions that the price freeze was illegal.

He said Zimbabweans should alert a special unit of police, army and intelligence operatives formed to enforce price controls of businesses hoarding or unfairly increasing prices.

More than 200 business people, including a ZANU-PF senator, have been arrested for ignoring the ban on price hikes.

Friday, July 06, 2007

Lileks on Zimbabwe

...I was reading today about a Zimbabwe archbishop pleading for someone to invade and take out Mugabe. He asked if the entire country had to collapse on itself and descent into anarchy, and the answer, of course, is yes; it does. When Zimbabwe gets a seat on the UN’s Sustainable Development Commission, and is not there to present instructive arguments against sustainable development, you get a sense of the strength of the fictions that bind the high-minded. It’s one thing to want a better world; it’s another to hope to will it into being by believing in docile sugared fictions about the nature of man and the equality of cultures..."

(For those who don't live in Minnesota, Lileks usually writes on culture and trivia.)

Would the UK stop Mugabe?

....Pius Ncube, Roman Catholic Archbishop of Bulawayo - a man who, in standing tall against the forces of oppression, has always previously advocated non-violent resistance only. But his call this week for military intervention by UK forces to topple Mugabe's regime, strikes a vibrant chord in the hearts of many Zimbabweans - in some cases, among those you would least suspect....

So would Zim army and police and people greet the UK with joy?
Doesn't matter, since if Tony Blair didn't do it, one doubts Brown will bother either. Sigh

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Zim price control causes chaos

As the police and a pro-government youth militia swept into shops and factories, threatening arrest and worse unless prices were rolled back, staple foods vanished from store shelves and some merchants reported huge losses. News reports stated that some shopkeepers who refused to lower prices were beaten by the youth militia, known as the “Green Bombers” after the color of their fatigues.

In interviews, merchants said that crowds of ordinary citizens were following the police and militia from shop to shop, descending on the stores to buy goods at the government-ordered prices.

“People are losing millions and millions and millions of dollars,” said one Bulawayo merchant, referring to the Zimbabwean currency, which has been rendered increasingly worthless given the nation’s inflation, the world’s highest. “Everyone is now running out of stock and not being able to replace it.”

Because the government has threatened to seize any business that does not sell goods at the advertised price, the merchant said he was keeping his shop open, but with virtually nothing on its shelves.

Economists said that the price rollbacks were unsustainable and that shops and manufacturers would soon shut down and lay off their workers rather than produce goods at a loss. “You can’t buy eggs or bread or things of that sort,” said John Robertson, an economic consultant in Harare. “Suppliers can’t supply them at a price that allows retailers to make a profit.”,,,,

Zim runs out of cattle vaccine

BULAWAYO – Zimbabwe has run out of vaccines for the treatment of anthrax and foot-and-mouth diseases as a senior government veterinary official warned that an outbreak of the two deadly diseases that affect cattle could see the entire national herd wiped out.

The shortage of vaccines could also scuttle lucrative deals clinched last year to export beef export to Hong Kong, Democratic Republic of the Congo and Angola as most governments ban beef imports from countries affected by the especially contagious foot-and-mouth in order to protect domestic herds.

Zimbabwe lost a key beef export contract to the European Union in 2001 following an outbreak of foot and mouth disease in the country.

“There is not even a single dose of vaccines and this is tragic for the country. If there are any outbreaks of diseases, then it will be a disaster,” said Josphat Nyika, a health expert at the government’s Department of Veterinary Services.

Nyika, who was speaking at a Monday meeting called by the state’s Cold Storage Commission meat processing company to discuss rebuilding the national herd, said Zimbabwe did not also have drugs to treat tick borne diseases.

Zimbabwe’s national herd has dramatically fallen from an estimated six million cattle in 2001 to four million chiefly because of the government’s chaotic and often violent programme to seize white-owned farms to give to blacks.

The farm seizures that President Robert Mugabe says were necessary to ensure blacks also had a share of arable land saw militant government supporters slaughter for meat whole herds, including special breeding cattle, left behind by fleeing white farmers.

Nyika called on Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe governor Gideon Gono to avail hard cash to pay foreign manufacturers of livestock vaccines, adding that the critical shortage of vaccines wgas because there was no foreign currency to import them.

Zimbabwe was a major exporter of beef to the EU, delivering 9 100 tonnes of top quality meat to the European market every year and generating much needed foreign currency. - ZimOnline

Zim wildlife pay cost of economic crisis

Yup...just ignore those kids over there, it's the poor animals that count.
Zimbabwe, once one of Africa's premier safari destinations, has suffered severe wildlife losses on private game ranches and conservancies due to forced farm seizures and the country's economic crisis.

Animal welfare group the Zimbabwe Conservation Taskforce (ZCT) said the farm seizures ordered by President Robert Mugabe's government in 2000 triggered an estimated 83 percent slump in wildlife on private farms and conservancies.

The drop also closely followed a dramatic decline in the number of Zimbabwe's private wildlife ranches and conservancies, which the group blamed largely on government land policy.

"We based the estimations on the fact that we believe there were 620 private game farms prior to the land invasions and according to our records, there are only 14 left today," the task force said in a statement.

"According to our records, there were 14 conservancies prior to the land reform and now, the only one left of any consequence is Save Valley Conservancy," it added.

Zimbabwe is home to some of Africa's largest game reserves but experts say several animal species such as impala, warthog, kudu and wildebeest are at risk from rampant poaching by people struggling with hunger and rising poverty and from cross-border trophy hunters.

The welfare group said it studied 62 farms, 59 of which reported wildlife losses totalling 42,236 animals including the lion, elephant, python and blue duiker that were already on the list of endangered animals.

Zimbabwe's state National Parks and Wildlife Authority says animals in its larger game reserves have not been affected by massive poaching and remain safe.

The ZCT says the story on private land is different. It chose 17 of the 62 farms that kept proper records and supplied the task force with up-to-date statistics in order to estimate the total percentage of wildlife lost on the private ranches.

It estimates that at least 15,704 animals were killed on the 17 farms between 2000 and 2007, an average of 923 animals per farm, largely to be sold as meat.

Monday, July 02, 2007

Archbishop Ncube wants invasion

Pius Ncube, the Archbishop of Bulawayo, warned that millions were facing death from famine, unable to survive amid inflation believed to have soared to 15,000 per cent.

Mr Mugabe, 83, had proved intransigent despite the "massive risk to life", said Archbishop Ncube, the head of Zimbabwe's one million Catholics.

"I think it is justified for Britain to raid Zimbabwe and remove Mugabe,' he said.

"We should do it ourselves but there's too much fear. I'm ready to lead the people, guns blazing, but the people are not ready."

In some parts of Zimbabwe 95 per cent of crops have failed, leaving families with only two or three weeks' food supply to last ayear.

Prices are more than doubling every week and US ambassador Christopher Dell has predicted inflation could hit 1.5 million per cent by the end of the year.

Archbishop Ncube said that far from helping those struggling, Mr Mugabe had just spent $2.4 million on surveillance equipment to monitor phone calls and emails.

"How can you expect people to rise up when even our church services are attended by state intelligence people?" he said.


Sunday, July 01, 2007

Blame Jimmy Carter

Long history of how the politically correct essentially let Mugabe take over
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