Saturday, June 30, 2007

Gold firms working one fifth of capacity

Zimbabwe's gold producers are operating below 20 percent of capacity while some have suspended operations over a deepening economic crisis and electricity cuts, the mining chamber said on Friday.

The news came after President Robert Mugabe on Wednesday threatened to seize and nationalise mines, especially gold producers he accused of smuggling the metal outside the country and stashing foreign currency earnings abroad as part of a campaign to undermine his government.

Gold is the main foreign currency earner for the southern African country's battered economy, accounting for 52 percent of total mineral production and a third of export earnings.

But producers are now struggling to stay afloat as the economy continues to slide, with inflation nearing 4,000 percent pushing up production costs while shortages of foreign currency and fuel continue to worsen.....

Friday, June 29, 2007

Zim is becoming a non currancy society

An order went out to all manufacturers, wholesalers and retailers to slash their prices..
by half. Any who showed the slightest reluctance to do so were visited by the Green Bombers - young graduates from the Zanu-PF terror camps whose economic arguments are enforced with a smack on the head with a stout stick.

Those shops that obeyed the edict and reduced their prices were invaded by fervent shoppers, and the result was chaos, with many businesses threatening to close their doors for the rest of the week at least, if not for good.

And the end result? Where it worked best, where prices were cut by a genuine 50 per cent, the government succeeded in reducing the cost of living to almost exactly what it was 10 days ago...

price controls lead to empty shops

Police spokesperson Chief Superintendent Oliver Mandipaka warned businesses that the police would arrest them without fear or favour if they engaged in illegal pricing activities. And police crackdown teams have been deployed countrywide to enforce the new regulations. Muchemwa said the mood in Harare is tense and described the standoff between government and businesses as war.

Muchemwa visited the traditional supermarkets such as OK, TM and Bon Marche around Harare and in the high-density areas. He said none of them were making bread. They had been ordered to sell each loaf for Z$22,000 when it costs them almost that amount to produce it. Our correspondent witnessed vendors who stand outside shops buying bread from bakers like Lobels at Z$40,000 per loaf. They in turn sold each loaf for a minimum Z$50,000.

Asked if people understand why businesses cannot reduce prices by 50% or more, as ordered by government, Muchemwa said many people do understand because they live with the hyperinflation and they sell tomatoes and other items themselves for profit. When that profit margin becomes zero, they raise the price again. But the ordinary person does not have access to government officials to allow them to express their frustrations so the shops and people who work in them are easy targets for their anger at the price increases.

Speaking at the burial of the late Army Brigadier General Armstrong Gunda Wednesday, Robert Mugabe threatened to take over all foreign companies, accusing them of hiking prices in a campaign to remove him from government. Critics say this is a diversion from the real issue, which is that he has no solution to the economic mess he created through the chaotic Land Reform Programme, and years of unchecked corruption and mismanagement.

Internet in africa

Bill Gates should invest in business in Africa, not just donate money to charity?


Google goes to Kenya. LINK

Thursday, June 28, 2007

NYTimes on Zim refugees in South Africa

relentless that many goods now double in price weekly.

South Africa is deporting an average of 3,900 illegal Zimbabwean migrants every week, the International Organization for Migration says. That is up more than 40 percent from the second half of 2006, and six times the number South African officials said they were expelling in late 2003.

And that reflects only those who are captured. Many more Zimbabweans slip into the country undetected, although estimates vary wildly. In a nation of 46 million, most experts say, undocumented Zimbabweans could number several hundred thousand to two million.

Social tensions are ratcheting up in both nations, as Zimbabwe’s adult population dwindles and South Africans, already burdened by high unemployment, face new competition for jobs and housing. The migrants also pose a diplomatic problem, because South Africa is trying to broker an end to Zimbabwe’s long political crisis without criticizing its government or appearing to have a major stake in the outcome.

The situation is inflicting ever more misery on the Zimbabweans. The vast majority flee their country’s penury to find a way to support their families back home. But in South Africa they often find xenophobia, exploitation and a government unwilling and ill-equipped to help them....

Remittances keep the economy afloat: half of all households get most of their money from distant friends and relatives, a Global Poverty Research survey concluded last June. More than one in five of those who sent money lived in South Africa, the most of any nation except Britain....

“The problem in giving someone asylum is that you have to make a statement about the country that individual is fleeing,” said Mr. Maroleng, at the Pretoria institute. “Politically, it raises questions, and it undermines the government’s policy on Zimbabwe, which is not to engage the government of Zimbabwe” on questions of repression and misrule.

So migrants wait for a chance at legal residence that may never arrive. On Thursday, a schoolteacher and union official from Harare used his Zimbabwe civil-service passport to walk across the border in Beitbridge and make his way to Johannesburg.

The teacher, who insisted on anonymity, said he had left his wife and two children behind because he was living in fear. He had been arrested and beaten after joining a union march in September, he said. “As we go forward toward elections in 2008,” he said, “we are again targets of violence. Every morning, my life was very much in danger.”

But he might have stayed, he said, had his monthly salary not been the equivalent of $15.

Another teacher, a friend, had fled Zimbabwe last year after government spies mistook a wake in her parlor for a meeting of opposition members, and set fire to her house, she said. ...

NYTimes notices mugabe's takeover of business

Empowerment programs that transfer corporate stakes to black shareholders are not unusual. South Africa’s government sponsors a highly successful, but much criticized, program that has transferred large blocks of corporate stock to workers and managers, and has helped make multimillionaires of a handful of well-connected businessmen.

Mr. Mugabe’s critics, however, say the proposal is a scheme to loot the remainder of Zimbabwe’s economy for the benefit of political insiders and backers of the president. To them, the legislation evokes the specter of Mr. Mugabe’s seizure of thousands of white-owned farms early this decade, mostly without compensation, in what was then called a redistribution of land to poor blacks. Instead, many of the best farms were awarded to leading figures in Mr. Mugabe’s government and his ruling party, the Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front.

Rather than confiscating stakes in companies, however, the legislation envisions a more gradual, potentially compensated transfer of ownership.

At the same time, the government began an effort to rein in Zimbabwe’s hyperinflation, officially about 4,500 percent, but described by private economists as approaching 20,000 percent. A cabinet-level task force on price controls ordered factories and sellers to cut the prices of certain basic goods and services by as much as 50 percent — to levels that existed roughly one week ago.

Mr. Mugabe’s minister of industry and international trade, Obert Mpofu, said that increased prices were unjustified and that they were “a political ploy engineered by our detractors to effect an illegal regime change against the ruling party.”

Shopkeepers throughout the country ignored the decree, according to several Zimbabweans interviewed by telephone on Tuesday. “No one is even thinking about freezing prices,” said one member of the ruling party, on condition of anonymity because of a fear of retribution.

That person and others interviewed Tuesday suggested that both the price decree and the ownership legislation reflected an increasingly frantic effort by Zimbabwe’s rulers to contain the damage from an economy that has moved in recent weeks from steep decline to outright free fall....

Mr. Mugabe’s critics and a Harare economist said Tuesday that the “indigenization” legislation would almost certainly make Zimbabwe’s economic havoc even more severe by driving away the few foreigners still willing to invest in the country. The flight of foreign capital has been a crucial element in Zimbabwe’s economic decline, and until the draft legislation was published, the government had been courting Chinese investors and other outsiders, albeit with little success.

“The investment environment here is very fragile, and this is the kind of stuff that, even if it were warming up, would kill it,” said the economist, who declined to be named for fear of retaliation by the government. “Obviously, it’s going to scare even more people away.”.....\

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

China in Africa

The Christian Science Monitor is publishing a series on Chinese influence on Africa.

Todays article:

She named her baby daughter Siwei Liu, which means "be aware of danger." The young Chinese mother had just passed the United Nations exams and knew she would soon be leaving China's Hubei Province for places unknown and dangerous.

Less than six months later, Fang Liu, a lawyer with the Chinese police forces, packed her suitcase, waved farewell to her husband and baby daughter – and set off for South Sudan. "It was," she says solemnly, "a very long way away."

Ms. Liu, today a UN police observer, was joined by 435 other ­engineers, medics, and transport specialists, ­all of them part of China's contribution to the 10,000-strong UN force charged with monitoring the peace agreement here until 2011.

The Sudan mission is the longest-ever peacekeeping mission the Chinese have joined to date – but not their only one.

Playing a far more active role in UN peacekeeping than ever before, 1,809 Chinese troops, police, military observers, and others are deployed worldwide. The majority – 1,273 – are here in Africa, building roads, setting up clinics, patrolling troubled villages – and generally trying to show that China wants to be considered part of the international community when it comes to doing the right thing by this continent....

Other links here:

Part 1 - 06/25/07
Part 2 - 06/26/07
Part 2 - 06/27/07

Thriving black market keeps economy going.

What do you do when the currancy collapses? check link above...

Report is on the growing black market economy and use of foreign currancy making money changers rich. Barter is another way people cope, especially in rural areas.

The grey market economy and the emigration of most well bodied healthy Zimbabweans means that a revolution is less likely. I mean, it's hard to mount a revolution if you are working two jobs in South Africa and supporting your extended family. And many rural people still live like their ancestors, so losing things they buy with money is not as hard for them. My husband, who lived during the depression and Japanese occupation in the Philippines reminded me that no one is poor as long as you have rice.

So if there is no drought, farmers can eat what they grow. What they miss is of course schooling for their kids and a chance for an easier life.

Plight of the powerless

What happens when you are on dialysis and the power goes off from a brownout, and the hospital doesn't have electricity? Post discusses the problems of no electricity in hospitals.

But medically as a doctor I have to point out that
peritoneal dialysis is an alternative, but that has it's own problems with infection risks.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Mugabe finds self in hole, digs deeper

One would think that a tanking economy and a currancy that is losing half it’s worth every day would bring President Mugabe some sense. I mean, he does have a degree in economics.

But instead of trying to increase the economy by encouraging investment, Mugabe has just decided that all businesses will have to be owned and run by Zimbabweans. And not just ordinary Zimbabweans, but “indigenous Zimbabweans” who are defined as “any person who was disadvantaged by unfair discrimination on the grounds of race before independence in 1980″.

So if you are a born Zimbabwean but of Indian, European or South African heritage, forget it.

Since many of the mining and manufacturing businesses are run by or owned by non Bantu Zimbabweans, South Africans or UK businesses, this means a takeover. And one suspects that what will happen is what happened in the farms that were taken over: No compensation to the owners, and the businesses will be given to (and looted) not by those who can run them but to political cronies of Mugabe.

So if the economy isn’t bad enough, such action will make things worse.

What is not being written about is where China fits in this scenerio.
Will the UK and South African owned mines be essentially taken over by Chinese corporations but having Zimbabweans run them on paper?

Actually, such a scenerio would be bad for the West in many ways, but would help the locals, since the Chinese are notorious in South East Asia for getting the best of a deal and getting businesses to run successfully despite local laws that limited or denied foreign ownership.

For example, here in the Philippines, Chinese traders got around such laws by marrying business minded Pinays, which is why most of our business and politicians have some Chinese ancestry.

And in former white Rhodesia, laws mandated that all stores in tribal areas had to be run by locals, so South African born Indian businessmen found straw men to run their shops. In our area, one such man owned (on paper) thirty shops, and ran them by placing a wife in charge of each store. Yup. Thirty wives.

But realistically, Mugabe is going to be gone in a short time, either from political activity or old age, and the Chinese are not gong to lose money on the deal. Yes, they are still communists, and these communist ties to Mugabe go back 35 years. But the idea of Chinese merchants goes back 2000 years.

The minerals of Zimbabwe the mines are more than gold and diamonds, but include asbestos and Chromium, platinum and lithium, all of which are more valuable in the long run to an expanding industrial economy such as China.

Zim to take over mining sector?

...A bill the government made public on Monday will be presented to parliament proposing indigenous black Zimbabweans will get at least a 51 per cent share of those companies.

Although it is not clear how private companies will be affected, analysts say the move is likely to further damage investor confidence in Zimbabwe, which is suffering from the world's highest inflation rate and severe food, fuel and foreign currency shortages....

Earlier this month, Mines Minister Amos Midzi said Zimbabwe is to take control of strategic resource sectors such as uranium, but in other sectors local businesses will take majority stakes.

But he said special consideration may be given to companies already operating in the country, such as international miners Impala Platinum and Rio Tinto....

Sunday, June 24, 2007

FIghting HIV with mistresses

Fighting HIV with mistresses

Here in the Catholic Philippines, after one politician gave a speech about "family values", a local wag wrote: Yes, we Filipinos espouse family values. We take care of all our families.

The joke was that this politician, like most politicians and rich businessmen in the Philippines, have at least one mistress and family on the side, and no one says anything about it. As long as this family is a secret, and as long as he takes care of them, such families are considered normal.

In the US, we see serial polygamy as the rule: divorce and remarriage.

In Africa, polygamy was the rule until western religion and values took over. Yet even in African tradition, the brideprice made polygamy difficult and expensive to marry.

As a result of Christian morality and African economics on marriage, women have become more valued and have some status in marriage. But they also make it hard to have a formal relationship outside of formal marriage.
So in places like Zimbabwe, where men might work in the city or mines and their wives would have to be left at home to care for the family farm, the men have a problem.

In the past, if they made enough money, they might just marry a second wife in the city. But now society frowns on that practice, even if they could afford to pay her parents. So the result was promiscuity: men could rarely afford sex, but when they did, it was usually with a sex worker who had many other contacts.

The usual scenerio was to go out drinking and have a one night stand. For poor workers, such nights out were few, but for more affluent men and unmarried students such activity might occur frequently, and the result was an epidemic of HIV that ended up killing the breadwinner, his wife in the village, and often their younger children.

Governments and NGO's have mounted campaigns that stress limiting sex to a wife, abstinence, and condom use. But condoms are not well accepted, both because of the obvious decrease in pleasure but also because they are expensive, and often deteriorate and break in hot climates.

So now Kubatana blog reports some men are resorting to the "little house" strategy. No, not the little house on the prarie, but the little house, as in one with a mistress and second family.

A study by Gregson, in Manicaland in 2005, which helps to explain the decline in prevalence rate (from 25.5% in 1998-2000 to 18.1% in 2004) attributed this to a general decline in casual sex among young Zimbabweans and delayed sexual debut. While this has been applauded as an indication of positive behaviour change, the emergence of another phenomenon that seems to have replaced casual sex, commonly called the "small house", is an area of concern. It seems that men are viewing small houses as a new and safer way of dealing with HIV and AIDS.

The study said the men found once they were married, their wives would frequently nag them, and would even refuse them sex when they got angry at their husbands. In the past, men would go out, get drunk, and end up having casual sex. But now, they merely go to the loving woman in the little house.

Another advantage is that the men assume their mistresses are faithful, and might even want to have children, so the men view condom use as not necessary.

All of this brings up things like morality, women's equality, legal status of children born to a relationship etc.

But it is one more low tech and traditional way for Africa to fight dangerous promiscuity behind the spread of HIV in that continent.

Doomsday predictions premature?

New report suggests runaway inflation will drive Zimbabwe out of business by year end, but experts say this ignores the underlying resilience of grassroots economic activity.

By Florence Ushe in Harare (AR No. 118, 21-June-07)
International aid agencies based in Zimbabwe are predicting that the country’s economy will implode within the next six months, potentially leading to major social unrest.

But economists interviewed by IWPR disagree, saying total meltdown is not imminent, and crediting Zimbabwe’s informal sector with keeping disaster at bay when under normal circumstances everything should have ground to a halt a long time ago...

Many people think the economy has pretty much fallen apart already. Most members of this once relatively prosperous nation are close to destitution. Power and water utilities are slowing to a halt, with long daily cuts experienced across the country. Telecommunications are poor and the already faltering education system has deteriorated further.

The health sector, according to the Zimbabwe Association of Doctors for Human Rights, has already ground to a halt following a recent strike by staff at the country’s major health institutions. Public hospitals have closed their doors to the public and have been emptying their wards.

Yet some local economists argue that while the economy is “deeply stressed”, it is unlikely to collapse in the next six months – because it is being saved by the relatively vibrant “informal sector”. This term means small businesses, traders, and craftsmen and women, and service providers who operate outside the reach of the taxman and whose activities are not captured in national statistics....

“However, if you look at Zimbabwe’s economy, what is carrying it is the informal sector. The informal sector is driving Zimbabwe’s economy as it tends to cushion people [from their hardships]. If the economy was totally formal, it would have totally collapsed a long time ago.”

He concluded, “Zimbabwe’s economy has defied all conventional logic.”

Another local economist, John Robertson, said it was not easy to define exactly when a country could be said to have collapsed.

“Total collapse does not actually happen. People are making comparisons of countries like they are talking about companies. A country never ceases to exist. A collapse happens when the current system of governance breaks down completely.

“What I can say about Zimbabwe is that there is a state of collapse of certain systems like traffic lights, water, telephones, power and health. There can be total collapse when people lose confidence in the use of their own currency – when workers say they want to be paid in foreign currency and shops demand foreign exchange for purchases.”

Another prerequisite for this would, he said, be that the large public sector - civil servants and the military - said would have to say they could no longer subsist on payments in Zimbabwean dollars. This would trigger a loss of confidence and the breakdown of financial systems like banks.

Another factor, not mentioned by these economists, is the safety net provided by the substantial remittances that Zimbabweans receive from relatives abroad.

Comprehensive data are difficult to come by, but a study by the Global Poverty Research Group last year showed that of 300 households surveyed in Harare and Bulawayo, half had received cash, goods or food from abroad, almost all within the last year.

This represented “an extraordinarily high density of receipt”, the report said, concluding that it reflected the reality that migratory flows had become “key coping strategies” in recent years.

The two main locations for relatives were Britain and South Africa, with Botswana and other countries some way behind.

China telecom to meet with president

Chinese leading telecom firm Huawei Technologies has said its objective was to help ordinary people access technology to do business and improve their lives, when the company's delegation met Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe.

The company has helped Zimbabwe's TelOne launch new technology that will supply the country with an additional 30,000 telephone lines, The Herald newspaper reported on Saturday. ....

Huawei is planning to jointly build a center to train technology experts with the University of Zimbabwe, according to the report.

Tsvangirai Talks Of Hopes For Zimbabwe

Zimbabwean opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai has said he is still hopeful of a peaceful resolution of the crisis in his country. He has been addressing supporters in Luton amid growing concern about Zimbabwe's economic collapse.

Mr Tsvangirai confirmed plans for South Africa's President Mbeki to oversee talks between his Movement For Democratic Change and President Mugabe's ZANU.

He told Sky News this was "a very important opportunity to try to resolve the national crisis we face".

Psst Zimbabwe is collapsing....pass it on

In case you haven’t heard, Zimbabwe is collapsing.

Their currancy is worthless: inflation was “only” 3000 percent last month, but last week, it lost half it’s worth in one day. Yup. Paper money will do that if you print money to pay your bills.

Well, of course you haven’t heard. Just another African country going to the dogs, ho hum…let’s place the story on page 28…

Even last week’s UN report on refugees was mainly about the Middle East refugees (hint hint Blame Bush…was the context). When they said the largest refugee numbers were 1.6 million from Afghanistan followed by Iraq and Sudan(Dafur) I was puzzled. You see, about four million Zimbabweans have fled their homes in the last few years. But most are not in refugee camps, but working or living with extended family members that work, mainly in South Africa. And they are sending money home to feed their families.

The health system is in collapse: the hospitals lack drugs, and the doctors and nurses’ pay is too low. The doctors went on strike, which is now over, but many can’t afford to go to work, so the government is trying to arrange transportation for them.m.

Last year’s Operation “cleanup” dispersed much of the suburban small shopkeepers who had opposed the government in the last election. Most went to their ancestral villages (numbers range from 70 000 upward) and some remain homeless or living with relatives nearby. Nor were all the buildings destroyed run by thugs and criminals, as Mugabe claimed: the cleanup also destroyed Sister Patricia’s HIV clinic and Sister Winnie’s convent/training center for women. Can’t discriminate you know.

And, although the drought is over, the lack of good seed, fertilizer, petrol for pumps and tractors, etc. have lowered the amount of food being grown, which is bad news given that the large white owned farms were confiscated and given away, partly to those who worked on the farm, which is good but these families often were left without the money or help to use modern techniques to raise crops so essentially produced little surplus. But much of the confiscated land went to government cronies who didn’t know much about running a large farm.

Confiscating farm land run by “europeans” (many British citizens who migrated, but also many Boers who haven’t lived in Europe since 1650 but are racially caucasion) hasn’t endeared Mugabe in the heart of Tony Blaire, so Mugabe blames Blaire for all his problems. But no one who knows anything about reality thinks there is much truth behind Mugabe’s rants.

You see, Mugabe has a long history of moving against his enemies. His party wins elections by giving food aid only to villages that voted for him–and he insists that NGO food aid is funneled through his government offices.

Last month, an opposition prayer meeting was broken up and many of the opposition have been arrested on and off, or harassed. Many have left the country. Even pastors whose sermons were construed as anti government have been picked up and questioned.

None of this is new, of course. But things are coming to a head. Barter, money sent in by relatives working abroad, and black market foreign currency is how things are now done.

The official rate for $1 is 250 Zimbabwe dollars but on the black market $1 can net you more than 40,000 Zimbabwe dollars.

So what now?

A coup was disarmed last week. South Africa’s Mbeki is trying to persuade the President to end his rule and allow next year’s elections to be free. But so far nothing has happened.

So the once prosperous country with a well educated populace, farm exports, gold mines, and an active industrial base is now a basket case.

Another triumph of Marxist economics.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Mugabe made us refugees: Stories from "operation cleanup" refugees

Yesterday was World Refugee Day. Many Zimbabweans have been left homeless and struggling to survive as a result of the government's senseless 'Operation Murambatvina' - a policy of 'clearing out the trash’, which manifested itself in the destruction of homes, trading stalls and the theft of property.

What kind of leaders, are these, who destroy peoples' homes at the height of a harsh winter leaving women and children at the mercy of the elements? What kind of mind conceives such an evil and heartless thought? We asked a supporter to write us a piece that included real-life stories of Murambatsvina refugees in Zimbabwe. Names have been changed in this article....

Since 2005, winter has been characterized with bitter memories of the loss of homes, house hold property, flea markets, offices, the pain from beatings and torture and unfortunate deaths of some loved ones, during another act of madness by Mugabe, the second after Gukurahundi.

Mugabe, Chihuri and Chombo defended “Op M” (Operation Murambatsvina) as a clean up exercise meant to wean the unwanted garbage, which later turned out to be humans in the form of city dwellers, perceived to the sympathetic to the opposition MDC.

Tempers were beginning to boil two months after another rigged 2005 parliamentary election which pitted the ruling Zanu PF party against the MDC, giving the ruling party the required two thirds, to amend the constitution. To counter a possible uprising, Mugabe acting upon intelligence from the JOC (Joint Operation Command) embarked on the operation which not only caused massive sufferings but invited condemnations from the UN and the world over.

Society was disintegrated, those with rural homes leaving towns for good. The remaining folks were with either forcibly moved to unknown places or detention centers where they were quarantined. Sources of income were destroyed and rentals shot to alarming rates, making the cost of living in cities very high. The drama is still unfolding...

Currently in most high-density areas of Harare, families are still sleeping in the open, especially in back yards. Those with houses had their extensions destroyed leaving as much as twelve people in the same family sleeping in two or three roomed houses. Thus the social moral fibre has been eroded since boys and girls are forced to sleep in one room....

go to link for the personal stories.

Senior Army officer dies in accident

A top-ranking Zimbabwean Army officer died yesterday when a train smashed into his car on a crossing in the town of Marondera, capital of Mashonaland East. Sources immediately hinted that he had been assassinated by military intelligence because of his alleged involvement with the recent attempted coup.

He was Brigadier Armstrong Gunda, Commander of One Brigade, stationed in Bulawayo, and reckoned to be number four in the army hierarchy...

It remains a mystery why Gunda, who was found in the wreck of his top-of-the-range Toyota IMV, was in Mashonaland. The area is the home of the rich and powerful retired General Solomon Mujuru, husband of vice-president Joyce Mujuru, and now a known opponent of Robert Mugabe (who is under house arrest and under suspicion himself)..

If the rumours about Gunda's death are correct it is evidence that President Mugabe's regime is growing increasingly unstable, as he continues to lose support amongst the very people he could previously trust.

Assassination by road accident is not unknown in this part of the world.

Story of a dentist in Zimbabwe

The only practical thing is to quote a patient in US dollars.

We take this approach because the currency is so unstable.

Obtaining materials, equipment, spare parts and replacements is very hard to do because there are no suppliers in the country.

One cannot buy foreign currency from the government. Buying from the parallel market is the only way.

I have to send anything that needs repairing to South Africa and payment has to somehow be arranged between myself and the company there... getting the money to them is a real nightmare.

Basic things like local anaesthetic, sutures and bandages are always scarce. My wife travels to Dubai to buy my supplies.

US ambassador predicts changes in Zim

Zimbabwe's hyperinflation will force President Robert Mugabe from power, the US ambassador to the country has said.

Speaking to a UK newspaper, Christopher Dell predicted that inflation will leap to 1.5m% by the end of the year.

He said political discontent at Mr Mugabe's "disastrous economic policies" meant Zimbabwe was "committing regime change upon itself".

Zimbabwe has 80% unemployment and independent economists say inflation is running at 11,000% per year.

On Thursday, the value of the Zimbabwean dollar plummeted with black market exchange rates reaching 300,000 Zimbabwean dollars to one US dollar. The official rate is 15,000 to one. ....
On Thursday, opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai made similar predictions of an impending end to Mr Mugabe's rule.

"He's got an economy that's down on its knees, he knows he cannot sustain it," Mr Tsvangirai told the Associated Press.

"He knows he has an army that is jittery. He knows all his popular pillars of support are up against him."

Friday, June 22, 2007

4 million refugees from Zim

This week marks the celebration of the World refugee day, a day in which as Zimbabweans we must take seriously in view of the current problems we are facing. Over the last few years over 4 (four) million Zimbabweans have left the country to neighbouring countries mainly South Africa and the United Kingdom. Many of these are young men and women forced out of the country by the current economic melt down. A major component of this group are professionals who have left the country in search for greener pastures.

It is also important to note that some of these fellow Zimbabweans have been pushed out of the country as a result of political elements bent on perpetuating the illegal regime of Robert Mugabe. The Zimbabwean economy is currently characterized by runaway hyper inflationary conditions with our inflation now hitting world records of well over 8000% and month on month figures above 100 % which is pushed by reckless and irresponsible money printing.

Unemployment rates are well above 80% and the informal sector that had become a means for sustainable livelihood for many of these people was destroyed by government through operation Murambatsvina. The once famed education system is on the verge or has collapsed owing to dire shortage of professional staff and mass exodus of teachers and critical shortages of foreign currency. Industries are operating at below 30% and some have either closed or have had to undertake massive retrenchments. ,,,

Many of these people have been tortured and some killed for demanding democracy. The writer is no stranger to police and state brutality as he has been arrested and detained for several times.
All these issues and many others have forced over 4 (four) million people to flea from Zimbabwe in search for a better life. Many young man and women have been mauled by human eating lions along the Limpopo river as they try to cross into neighboring South Africa. Many have been eaten by crocodiles as they cross the crocodile infested Limpopo river. Those who have been lucky to successful cross into South Africa have been met with no jobs and rampant abuse by officials at receiving countries.

Latest revelations in to the Botswana police revealed how Zimbabweans were made to masturbate in from of soldiers. Zimbabweans have been met with very disturbing situations. As we mark world refugee day we must take a moment to remember many of our people who are suffering in neighboring countries as they try to make a living. We URGE South African President Thabo Mbeki to tighten the screws on Zanupf. We as Zimbabweans demand specific deliver ables from the current negotiation going on. SADC must not watch as the situation in Zimbabwe deteriorates. Or is it that they expect us to pick up guns and wage a liberation struggle in Zimbabwe.

SADC and the U.N must act on Zimbabwe before it turns into another Dafur or Iraq...

Zim currancy halves in worth

 Zimbabwe in meltdown as currency halves
One US dollar is now worth 300,000
Zimbabwean dollars on the free market

Zimbabwe's beleaguered currency has lost half its value in three days, black market dealers said last night, prompting predictions that the country was plunging into an economic meltdown that its veteran leader Robert Mugabe would not survive.

According to the government in Harare, one US dollar is worth 250 Zimbabwean dollars. But the free market rate yesterday reached more than Z$300,000 to one US dollar.

"It's gone crazy," said one illegal trader. "People are holding out for the highest bidder and mentioning as much as 400,000-1, which could be tomorrow's price. It's changing by the hour. Rates have doubled since the start of the week."...

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Globalization works...

Michael Novak in an essay on economic myths common in Christian activist circles, and discusses globalization's actual impact on poverty.

The Myth:Globalization is bad for the poor of the world and reduces the number of jobs in America.

It is true that some concrete industries in some parts of America are hurt by globalization. Overall, though, this country has gained some 29 million new jobs since 1992 (twenty million under Clinton and more than nine million under George W. Bush, through 2006). During the era of globalization, in other words, job growth has been spectacular. The unemployment rate is also remarkably low, 4.6 percent. Median, average, and overall income levels have been rising, not falling. A higher proportion of the lowest 20 percent is employed than was the case fifteen years ago. Some concrete cases aside, it is hard to show that globalization is hurting employment in the United States.

As for the poorest countries of the world, globalization has brought in a swiftly rising tide of hope, growth, and opportunity. In 1980 the poorest continent in the world was Asia, with soaring poverty rates in India and China.

Then those two nations became capitalist systems and entered the waters of globalization. They thus launched the greatest gains against poverty ever seen on this earth—after 1980, a half-billion Indians and Chinese moved out of poverty. The eminent economist Jagdish Bhagwati writes: “Poverty declined from an estimated 28 percent in 1978 to 9 percent in 1998 in China. Official Indian estimates report that poverty fell from 51 percent in 1977–78 to 26 percent in 1999–2000.” For China and India, globalization has been an indispensable benefit.

Economists today list four different components of the new meaning of globalization:

1. A dramatic drop in transportation and communication costs
2. The shrinkage of the world into one small “village”
3. A single global market
4. Steep increases in cross-border trade

While globalization is all these things, it also has an interior dimension. Globalization has changed the way individuals experience themselves and the way they think. People everywhere are much more keenly aware of worlds far beyond their borders.

I confess that I find none of these components objectionable, from a Christian view of economics. If the poor of the world are to be liberated from the shackles of poverty, it seems plain to me that they must be “allowed into the circle of development”; join in economic solidarity with the wealthier nations; and subsequently benefit from the upward draft of liberty, trade, and closer communications. In short, globalization is patently good for the poor of the developing world. It certainly seems better for the poor than any previous alternative. That meets the test of Christian realism.

Michael Novak has been a member of the First Things board since its founding and was the winner of the Templeton Prize in 1994.

Gov't considers ferrying doctor, nurses to work

DESPERATE government of President Robert Mugabe, stung by criticism of running down the once prosperous southern African state, is considering providing medical personnel with transport as junior doctors and nurses are just staying at home, citing increasing transport costs and skyrocketing cost of living.,,,

The tuberculosis (TB) ward at Beatrice Road Infectious Diseases Hospital, has been shut down as there are no enough nurses and doctors and those that are there are attending to less critical cases. They are overwhelmed with work as their colleagues who are leaving, are not being replaced.

The learning institutions in the country are not churning out enough health professionals to plug the holes left by those who are leaving.

Since 2000, Zimbabwe has been losing an average of 20 percent health professionals every year. The country’s five main hospitals have been losing 24 senior nurses and three doctors every month.

In 2002, Britain alone issued 2 346 work permits to nurses from Zimbabwe and more have been granted such permits every year up to last year.

As a result of the "stayaway", all patients are being referred to Wilkins Clinic, another health centre also affected.

The senior nurses and doctors, whose homes are in the vicinity of the hospital are overwhelmed by the influx of sick people as the facilities there were meant for a stipulated number of patients.

At Harare Hospital yesterday, most wards were closed, including medical ones, as medical personnel are just staying at home. Critical cases were being transferred to Parirenyatwa Hospital, where the few senior doctors and interns are struggling to cope.

The government has been awarding civil servants piece-meal increments that are not in tandem with the cost of living.

Most civil servants, after the recent pay hikes, are earning an average of $1 million a month, a figure below the poverty datum line. Poverty datum line is officially pegged at $1,7 million. However, independent analysts put it well above $10 million.

Transport costs up to $30 000 a trip to suburbs in Harare. Cheap lunch costs $60 000 and it costs an average of $200 000 a room a month in high density areas. Yet some hospital workers such as cleaners and kitchen staff are earning as low as $250 000 a month, an amount not enough to buy a 50kg bag of mealie-meal.

Most patients, struggling to make ends meets cannot afford to go to privately-run hospitals where a figure of up to $60 million is required before admission. Even those under medical aid cover, are struggling to meet the shortfalls.

"Now, where do we go?" asked a dejected Ellen Makwara, whose son was writhing in agony outside Harare Hospital. "He is not under medical aid cover and private doctors will not treat him. Even n'angas (witchdoctors) demand money."

The government, has reacted to the crisis by sending army medics but they, too, are overwhelmed with work as many places have been vacant. Doctors and nurses are laving in droves every day to regional countries and overseas where life is better.....

Zimbabwe's health system has collapsed

Zimbabwe's health service is no longer in danger of collapse, but has collapsed, a doctors' group said Monday.

"It's chaotic. Don't get sick right now," said one Zimbabwean doctor who asked not to be identified as strike action left sick and infirm patients at a main government hospital Monday uncertain they would get attention, even for minor ailments.

Some drifted away from the outpatients' lobby at Parirenyatwa hospital in Harare as work stoppages by junior doctors, nurses and hospital staff over pay and deteriorating working conditions continued and were spreading.

Doctors and staff who showed up for duty were overwhelmed and could not bridge the gap left by striking colleagues, hospital officials said.

A doctors' group said Monday the government had failed to "address the prevailing emergency in the public health sector."

The Zimbabwean Association of Doctors for Human Rights said the crisis left all the nation's major referral hospitals unable to function.

"It can no longer be said the health service is near collapse. The emptying of central and other hospitals of staff, and therefore patients, means the health service has collapsed," the group said in a statement.

It said even if staff were not on strike, most could not afford transport fares to reach their posts that now exceeded monthly incomes. ...

This is part of the AP report...

New England Journal Loves Zimbabwe

The NEJM has a nice paper article on health care in Africa, specifically telling us about a wonderful HIV program that has doctors only seeing the worse cases, and routine cases seen by nurses etc.

Well, bust my buttons. We were doing that thirty years ago.

There is also a paragraph discussing Haiti. The last time I looked, Haiti was in the Carribean, but hey, all black people look alike, y'know...

But my favorite line is:
Zimbabwe, for example, "has doubled or tripled enrollment in medical schools," according to Friedman, "but they haven't increased the number of professors. This is probably going to lead to lower quality."

Medical system collapses

from Cathy Buckle's letter...

A combination of iron fist regulations, prices going up by an estimated 10 per cent every day, and a government which appears completely clueless about what to do next, I think it would be accurate to say we have reached rock bottom. This week the legislation enabling the government to read our emails, listen to our phone calls and intercept our letters sailed through parliament and it produced barely a ripple. Everyone is now only looking at the day to day human suffering and major national and international groupings have begun issuing the most frightening warnings.

The Zimbabwe Doctors for Human Rights said recently :"It can no longer be said that the health service is -near collapse, It has collapsed."

The International Committee of the Red Cross said that our health delivery system has collapsed to such levels as to be comparable to "a war situation."

A Heads of Agencies Contact Group which includes 34 major organisations such as the U N and Oxfam said: "economic collapse is expected before the end of 2007."
They warn that by that time our currency will have become unusable and shops and services will have stopped operating. The Contact Group said: "it is inevitable, not just a possibility."

And so how do we survive this last stretch? Frankly most of us don't know. This week I heard the grim news from a friend whose wife is eight months pregnant.
She lives in a rural area and has been told at the nearest health clinic that in addition to the financial charge, she must also bring a twenty litre container of water with her when she comes to give birth or they will have no choice but to turn her away.

Protect the people, not just the elephants

For the past two weeks there has been a conference on the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) in The Hague. Whenever CITES meets, the issue of ivory trade grabs the headlines.

Francis Nhema, Zimbabwe’s Minister of Environment and Tourism has been attending the two week conference. He is calling on CITES to allow Zimbabwe permission to sell it’s ivory from stock piles. Botswana, Namibia and South Africa are in support with Zimbabwe on this one!

However, the Dutch-based NGO ZimbabweWatch feels otherwise. ZimbabweWatch staged a demonstration this week drawing Nhema’s attention to the many endagered species in Zimbabwe. Pascal Richard, ZimbabweWatch co-ordinator said in a statement,....

Zim business leaders pssimistic about recovery

HARARE (Reuters) - Fewer than 5 percent of Zimbabwe's industrialists believe the country will recover from its deepening economic crisis in the next three years, a survey showed on Wednesday.....

The manufacturing sector contributes 15.5 percent to Zimbabwe's gross domestic product, compared with 24 percent a decade ago.....

Zimbabwe's manufacturing sector was once hailed as one of the most diversified in sub-Saharan Africa outside South Africa and contributes a third of the country's export earnings.

Output contracted by 7 percent in 2006 compared to a 3.2 growth in 2005, and is expected to register a 2 percent decline this year.

Opposition leader says time is running out

BRUSSELS, Belgium 0: Zimbabwe's opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai said Wednesday time may be running out to organize free and fair elections next March.

The Zimbabwe government and Tsvangirai's Movement for Democratic Change are holding talks in South Africa seeking to solve the political crisis that reached new heights earlier this year with the arrest and beating of pro-democracy leaders.

Tsvangirai wants the talks to lay the groundwork for next year's elections....

Zimbabwe has presidential elections scheduled for next year and there are moves to advance the parliamentary elections by two years from 2010 so they coincide.

President Robert Mugabe is still the official candidate though there are repeated rumors he is under pressure to stand down.

The opposition maintains intimidation of voters and ballot rigging have robbed it of victory in parliamentary and presidential elections in the past — warning that polls scheduled for next year will be no different.

It also wants the repeal of sweeping media and security laws, electoral reforms and an end to state-orchestrated political violence.

Left for dead by Mugabe's police

" armed group from the Central Intelligence Organisation, Mugabe's secret police, picked him and four others up last week, dragging them away from their work in the fields, and driving them to an isolated hill...

After three days of this and other maltreatment, with no food or water, he lost consciousness. He woke up in a local clinic with two of the others. All three were in very poor physical condition. Two more were missing. .... two local villagers who found Dube and his friends...

The three of them were piled on top of

each other like garbage, and some shrubs had been thrown over them. I think their captors believed they were dead."

The two missing men were dead. Their shallow graves were found on land 15km away. They were re-buried at their village.

A government source confirms that for the past month there has been a deployment of CIO squads in Matabeleland, to counter an alleged campaign of violence by MDC activists in what is an opposition stronghold.

"The President believes that villagers there have always been against his rule, and will do anything to throw him out of power," said the source.

The Minister of State Security, Didymus Mutasa, was typically blunt when asked to comment. "Write what you want to write, it will not change us," he said.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Williams and Mahlangu of WOZA to appear in court today

WOZA members, Jenni Williams and Magodonga Mahlangu, appeared in remand court this morning in Bulawayo. They had been arrested on 6th June and held until Saturday 9th June when they were finally released on bail.

They had been charged under Sections 37 (1a) and 46 (2v) of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act.
Chapter 37 – ‘participating in gathering with intent to promote public violence, breaches of the peace or bigotry’.,,,

Their lawyer, Kossam Ncube, filed a constitutional challenge to these charges. His argument is that the wording is too vague and meaningless, thereby rendering them ineffective and a waste of time. He is requesting that the women be removed off remand whilst the constitutionality of these charges is being debated....

WOZA members will also be on trial in Gweru tomorrow. Both groups who had been arrested in early March during or after the People’s Launch demonstration will appear in the Gweru Magistrate’s Court tomorrow. It is anticipated that the charges against the nine members who were arrested after the demonstration will be dismissed. The other 26 members all face charges under the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act.

In other news, two members who had been badly beaten during the demonstration on 6th June are still receiving medical attention. One woman was beaten with baton sticks across her breasts and has developed abscesses. She is still in a lot of pain. Another member was kicked in the abdomen and required an operation. She is out of hospital and shall be attending a review tomorrow....

Christian pastors harassed

Zimbabwe (MNN/SVM) --
Three pastors were arrested in Masvingo in Zimbabwe by the Central Intelligence Organization (CIO) on Sunday, June 10, for distributing toys and candy to children.
Rev. Sonykis Chimbuya, Pastor Peter Bondai, and Pastor Mugondi were detained and questioned by state security agents.
According to Salem Voice Ministries, in a bizarre case highlighting deep levels of paranoia in government, the agents of the Central Intelligence Organization accused the pastors of distributing campaign material for the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), which is Zimbabwe's biggest opposition party.
Pastor Peter Bondai and Mugondi were released after they were interrogated for more than three hours, while Pastor Chimbuya was kidnapped and dumped along the Masvingo-Great Zimbabwe highway hours after his arrest.
"We are living in constant fear after the harassment at the hands of the CIO agents," Rev. Sonykis Chimbuya to SVIM news.
"They just came to us and picked us one after the other. They asked us about the material we were distributing to various church organizations," they reported.
"One of us was kidnapped and was only released after they had proved beyond doubt that the items we were distributing were in fact toys," They added.
The CIO agents also demanded that the pastors write down their sermons and present them to the secret agents before delivery.
State Security Minister Didymus Mutasa could not be reached for comment on the matter.
President Robert Mugabe last month warned church leaders to steer clear of politics after Catholic bishops denounced the Zimbabwean government over its human rights record."

Zim opens talks with opposition

Members of Zimbabwe’s government and its political opposition met in Pretoria over the weekend for their first face-to-face talks since South Africa was asked in March to mediate between them....

Efforts to make peace between the government and the opposition have been virtually stalled since Zimbabwe’s president, Robert G. Mugabe, agreed to the talks under pressure from southern African political leaders at a regional meeting in March.

Leaders of the opposition, the Movement for Democratic Change, had gone to Pretoria to begin the talks several weeks ago, but government negotiators did not show up. Last week, the police confiscated the passport of one of the opposition leaders, Arthur Mutambara, the head of a breakaway faction of the opposition group....

In recent days, however, Mr. Mugabe has seemed to soften his stance. Last week, a government-controlled daily newspaper, The Herald, reported that Mr. Mugabe had distributed tractors and plows to a clutch of political leaders, including opposition politicians, saying: “There must be occasions when we must be together. After all, we eat together.”

The gesture was almost unprecedented for Mr. Mugabe, who calls his political opponents tools of Britain and the United States and has openly threatened them with beatings.

Opposition leaders dismissed the remarks as political theater....

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....

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. Or he is an Oxford-educated intellectual turned serial-killing politician in a Savile Row suit. He is a cannibal who likes Cristal champagne, and his mother is a rich witch-doctor who really runs the country.

Among your characters you must always include The Starving African, who wanders the refugee camp nearly naked, and waits for the benevolence of the West. Her children have flies on their eyelids and pot bellies, and her breasts are flat and empty. She must look utterly helpless. She can have no past, no history; such diversions ruin the dramatic moment. Moans are good. She must never say anything about herself in the dialogue except to speak of her (unspeakable) suffering. Also be sure to include a warm and motherly woman who has a rolling laugh and who is concerned for your well-being. Just call her Mama. Her children are all delinquent. These characters should buzz around your main hero, making him look good. Your hero can teach them, bathe them, feed them; he carries lots of babies and has seen Death. Your hero is you (if reportage), or a beautiful, tragic international celebrity/aristocrat who now cares for animals (if fiction).

Bad Western characters may include children of Tory cabinet ministers, Afrikaners, employees of the World Bank. When talking about exploitation by foreigners mention the Chinese and Indian traders. Blame the West for Africa's situation. But do not be too specific....


A wonderful essay by

Binyavanga Wainaina

, and alas true...

read the whole thing...
(heads up from BoingBoing)

Bono at the G8

Actually, a lot of what the article says is true: questioning why a man famous for music should be able to set Africa's agenda, when he is not African. And the criticism about Africa being a "CAUSE" for certain people, almost like a pet.

However, since the writer is also not an African, I figure that I won't post the article, merely link to it.

One link that is not noted in this is that Bono is Irish. My Irish ancestors suffered from a genocidal potato famine, made worse because the British government opposed giving food to the Irish, and the works projects were often too much for the sick and dying.

Remembering the sufferings of our ancestors lets we with Irish blood identify with others who suffer from famine and political neglect.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Africa is open for business

I am all for charity. As a missionary, you are building an infrastructure: giving kids shots so they don’t die of whooping cough or end up blind from measles, encouraging family planning using both traditional and modern methods so that children get needed breast milk for two years so they don’t die of malnutrition.
Yet just going in and giving medicine didn’t work.

Our funding included coordination with the schools, teaching hygiene, having villagers build wells for safe water, and importing high yield hybrid chickens to increase egg production. Once you have the basic needs solved, you have a surplus, and this can be sold for cash. The women peddlers who run much of Africa’s small businesses went from peddlers to shops, and voila, self sufficiency. The good news is that you find yourself replaced by the son of a shopkeeper who managed to send his son to a South African medical school.
The bad news is that you are now out of work.

Charity is a good thing. But money unwisely spent quickly becomes the problem, not the solution. When money is thrown at a problem, corrupt politicians will take their cut, and often it destroys both the will and the ability to get out of poverty. Why work when food is provided? And since imported food is so much cheaper than working for it, working actually becomes counterproductive.Africa as victim. It’s the big thing for do gooders this year. Twenty years ago, it was India and Asia. Fifty years ago, it was the children starving in post war Europe.

Yet the dirty little secret is that what got Europe out of poverty and is now getting Asia out of poverty isn’t missionaries, God love them, but business. Globalization. A dirty word among those who love poor people everywhere, partly because it destroys those cute cultures we all like to watch on National Geographic, and partly because it increases the gap between the wealthy and poor, but not by making more poor people but by making a lot of very rich people.

So unless you read the African papers, or a couple blogs that picked up the news, you probably aren’t aware of the 17th World Economic Forum that met in Cape Town, spreading the idea that Africa is now open for business.
In the past, development meant giving money to the governments, which were often corrupt, while the true entrepeneurs fled. Like here in the Philippines, often there are no opportunities locally so the talented flee elsewhere, including a million Africans (and two million Pinoys) who immigrated to the US to support their families in peace and prosperity. Open local opportunities to these people, and they will stay home and build the local economies.
AsGhanean economist George Ayittey notes:

Development of Africa has overfocused on the “modern sector” - which is generally corrupt and broken - and underfocused on the informal and traditional sectors, which is where most Africans actually work. These sectors, especially the agricultural sector, are based around communal ownership and decision-making. But they’re not socialist - they’re deeply market-based and, in West Africa, based around entrepreneurial women. it wasn’t until post-colonialism that governments declared markets to be “imperialistic” - markets aren’t alien to Africa, which is based around “a different form of capitalism”.

Showing the sorts of enterprise he believes Africa needs to encourage, Ayittey shows us a video of Ghanaian fishermen. They receive no government subsidy, they produce wealth based on what they’re able to catch, and they invest in their boats and other infrastructure, creating jobs for hundreds of others. This sort of entrepreneurship needs to be a focus for African growth if we are to “take back the Continent one village at a time.”

Look out world, here comes Africa. The G8 report encouraging investment is HERE
And if the anti globalists and do gooders in the US and Europe don’t like it, don’t worry. They’ll quickly find something else to hyperventillate about.
You see,it is no longer a bilateral world: welcome to globalization.
China has been doing this sort of business for a couple centuries here in Asia and is happy to work with Africans, and Indian entrepeneurs have been working in Africa for over a century.


Nancy Reyes is a retired physician living in the rural Philippines. Her website is Finest Kind Clinic and Fishmarket, and she writes on human rights problems in Zimbabwe at Makaipa blog

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Friday, June 15, 2007

Mugabe congratulates himself on land reform

Through our unshakable determination, today we are proud masters of our political and econo mic destiny. As the fountain of our collective heritage, which is back in our hands, the land, the land should now be transformed into acres upon acres or into hectares upon hectares of maximum productivity. It is in this context that government, with the assistance of the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe and other stakeholders, has embarked on a long term agricultural mechanisation program meant to give added impetus to the productivity of our farmers.

The mechanization program, whose implementation will span the next five years, focuses on equipping farmers with mechanized capability across the entire cropping cycle, covering tillage, planting, fertiliser and chemicals application, crop tendering as well as harvesting, and right up to transportation to the market. And we realize that it is only one dimension of our agriculture sector. The livestock sector is another area where equal inputs are needed in order for our livestock to also play a part in the same way cropping is intended to play a part. Experience here at home, in the region and all over the world has shown that farm productivity is directly linked to the degree of mechanization and specialization in the agro chain, hence my government has taken a bold step of strengthening and increasing the support available to our farmers through mechanization. Collaborate efforts between our ministers of agricultural engineering and mechanization and the Reserve Bank, among other players, has seen government procuring assorted farm machinery which we are proudly distributing to the initial batch of beneficiaries today.

I am informed that in total that this machinery constituting the first phase of the mechanization program comprises of some 925 tractors, 35 combine harvesters, 586 disc plows, 463 disc harrows, 78 fertiliser spreaders, 241 boom sprayers and 71 planters. I am informed that in determining today's list of beneficiaries, intensive interaction with community leadership structures played a predominant role that enabling the identification of those farmers who have consistently demonstrated impressive production levels. To this end, today's beneficiaries are men and women who are leaving the years of the government's support so they can now translate this new dawn into positive yields delivered to the Grain Marketing Board and other markets. As government we will continue to work towards the expansion of the mechanization program in order to empower the growing number of our farmers. Consideration will also be given to special interest groups who include women, the youths, war veterans and war collaborators as well as grassroots farmers on A1 and communal farms. As we work to reinvigorate agriculture productivity, government will remain alert to the varying needs of our farmers by ensuring that national resources are deployed in a manner that yields maximum impact.

Equally prominent in government's prepared way of national resource allocation is elimination of all forms and manner of corruption, favouritism or discrimination, and this I say of whatever nature of description. As Zimbabweans we need to turn the current challenges obtaining in the country into stepping stones towards macro-economic recovery and development. The equipment I have the honor of unveiling today should not be used as mere status symbols that eventually gathers rust and dust for lack of use. So that people say I have a tractor? That is not the way to go. Appropriate self service centers will be created countrywide to give farmers accessible spares and maintenance avenues. Minister Made has spoken about it.

Equally important is centralization systems for the procurement of spare parts and ancillary equipment should be formed to push out briefcase dealers who continue to wreck havoc on our economy by stoking up the inflation monster through shameless profiteering.

Of course, the rhetoric and the reality are two different things...

Zim collapse in six months says BBC

Zimbabwe will collapse within six months, possibly leading to a state of emergency, says a leaked briefing report for aid workers in the country.

Rampant inflation will mean shops and services can no longer function and people would resort to barter, it said,,,

Some firms were already partly paying their workers in food, rather than money, it said.

Inflation: 3,714%
Unemployment: 80%
4m need food aid
Life expectancy: 37 (men), 34 (women)

Shops were doubling their prices twice a month, so they could purchase replacement goods.

If this continues, "doubling the current inflation for each of the seven remaining months of 2007 gives 512,000% thus the economic collapse is expected before the end of 2007," said the report, according to the AP news agency.

The security forces who have remained loyal to President Robert Mugabe were also feeling the effects.

The report said an ordinary police officer earned less than aid workers paid their domestic staff...

Zim backs net spying law

Zimbabwe's MPs have passed a law to allow the government to monitor e-mails, telephone calls, the internet and postal communications.

Opposition MP David Coltart called it a "fascist piece of legislation" aimed at cracking down on political dissent.

But Communications Minister Christopher Mushowe defended it, saying it was similar to anti-terror laws elsewhere such as in the UK, US and South Africa....

President Robert Mugabe's government already faces criticism for laws that curtail free speech and movement.

Web records

The bill obliges internet service providers (ISPs) to install equipment, at their own expense, which will allow a monitoring service to intercept e-mails......

Thursday, June 14, 2007

4000 percent inflation and rising

4000 percent inflation and rising
While in a desperate attempt to stem the flow, the Central Reserve Bank remains the largest buyer of foreign currency on the black market.

None of these figures make much impact on the average Zimbabwean. Unemployment now runs at more than 80 per cent, and even those in some kind of formal employment earn less than Z$1m a month. It is estimated that the avarage family of husband, wife and four children needs at least Z$5.5m to pay for basic food and shelter. People live from day to day, from hand to mouth.

The government expects 'major embarrassment' if the present rate is published. What kind of embarrassment will it expect when all semblance of control is abandoned and the country sinks back into the Stone Age? z

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

PC science and DDT

link is to a podcast of psychiatrists discussing how political correctness ignores non pc facts...and uses DDT as an example. The DDT ban led to a resurgence of malaria in Africa and Asia, but saved the birds, so the deaths from the ban are rarely mentioned.

Zim likely to monitor phones, mail

HARARE (Reuters) - Zimbabwe's parliament on Tuesday began debating a law empowering authorities to monitor phones, mail and the Internet to protect national security, a move seen by critics as part of an official crackdown on the opposition.

While rights groups are concerned President Robert Mugabe's government will use the Interception of Communications bill to infringe on privacy and further trample freedom of speech, officials have described it as integral to fighting crime....

Critics say the bill is motivated by Mugabe's desire to punish and keep closer tabs on the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), Zimbabwe's main opposition party, amid rising unrest in the economically strapped southern African nation.

Opposition legislators said they feared the government would abuse the law...

Monday, June 11, 2007

US donates 18 million for HIV

The United States Government will provide the Ministry of Health and Child Welfare with antiretroviral (ARV) drugs for 40,000 Zimbabweans living with HIV and AIIDS, as well as HIV rapid test kits for the next three years,....

The drugs and test kits worth US$6 million per year, brings the total annual Government of the United States contribution to HIV and AIDS prevention, care, and treatment in Zimbabwe to US$31 million.

Zim harvest poor?

June 4, 2007: Zimbabwe's government has admitted that so far this year only ten percent of the "normal wheat crop" has been planted. The reasons given include lack of fertilizer, lack of tractors, lack of fuel and electrical energy shortages. The government began a program about six weeks ago to ration electricity so that farmers would have reliable electricity during the planting season. Zimbabwe is already suffering corn shortages. With no alternatives, more people are fleeing the country. For an increasing number of people, the choice is between starvation and getting out. The number of refugees crossing the border has increased from 4,000 a month in 2004, to nearly 20,000 a month now. .... South Africa believes it has lost 3 percent of its annual GDP because of the cost of taking care of the refugees. Most other African leaders are reluctant to criticize what is going on in Zimbabwe, because the same corruption, incompetence and blame shifting ("the colonial powers") is present, to some degree, in most African countries.

June 2, 2007: Numerous engineers and construction workers are leaving Zimbabwe. The economic crisis has left them without work. Many are off to South Africa, which will host the World Cup football (soccer) finals in 2010 and needs skilled construction workers to help build infrastructure.

Power shortages cause health problems in lowveldt

For readers, I should explain most of Zim is highlands, and doesn't get hot. But the low lands (lowveldt) is tropical and hot.

Power shortages are making life miserable for residents of Zimbabwe’s lowveld area. Electric pumps that fill up tanks on hilltops, which in turn feed water to the population, are not working. Sugar is grown in the lowveld but they say life is not sweet these days.

We received reports that the whole of Chiredzi township is starting to smell because of the unflushed toilets. The sugar cane fields are beginning to show signs of stress because they are also not getting watered. And animals are going thirsty for long periods because pumps that bring water to pans in the conservancies do not work without electricity. The power shortages are creating health hazards for both people and animals.

Chiredzi farmer Gerry Whitehead said the high-density areas of Chiredzi Town where the majority of the people live are very crowded and they have no lights and no water to drink or flush toilets.

NGO's hail Zim rights

....The Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum welcomes the adoption of the decision of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights in Communication 245/02 (Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum vs. the Government of Zimbabwe) by the African Union Summit of Heads of Government in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, January 2007.

The African Commission found the Government of Zimbabwe in violation of articles 1 and 7 of the African Charter.

This means that the Government of Zimbabwe had violated the right to protection of the law and that it failed to put in place measures to ensure the enjoyment of these rights by Zimbabweans. The endorsement of the decision by the African Union is recognition by African Heads of States that there are human rights violations in Zimbabwe.....

The African Commission called on “the Zimbabwe Government to establish a Commission of Inquiry to investigate, the causes of the violence that took place from February-June 2000 and bring those responsible for violence to justice and identify the victims of the violence in order to provide them with just and adequate compensation”.

The NGO Forum urges the Zimbabwe Government to comply with the decision of the African Commission. The NGO Forum further exhorts the Government to ensure compliance with its obligations under the African Charter....

To use the English proverb: This is the fox watching the henhouse...

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Zim: UN Backed drive to vaccinate 2 million children

The United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) and its partners are working to vaccinate 2 million children against polio in Zimbabwe, where most families are suffering from deteriorating economic conditions.

The campaign, which was launched on Monday, is “on track to meet its bold targets and is vital for child survival amid the challenges in Zimbabwe today,” said UNICEF's Representative in Zimbabwe, Dr. Fest Kavishe. Children will also receive Vitamin A supplements.

UNICEF said in a news release that families in Zimbabwe “are under ever-greater pressure from record high inflation, unemployment and orphan numbers, and severe economic stresses.” The country had been declared polio free in 1999 following a massive effort, but Dr. Kavishe warns that now, “the threat of polio remains very real, with recent cases in Botswana and Namibia.” ...

Digging a grave for Zimbabwe

June 18, 2007 issue - Last Maingehama was on his way to a memorial service when he was kidnapped. A little after 2 p.m. on March 20, in the middle of an upscale Harare neighborhood, government thugs dragged Last out of his car, tied a blindfold around his eyes and drove him into the Zimbabwean savanna.

For the next five hours they beat the 33-year-old businessman and opposition activist relentlessly with hard wooden "battlesticks." They pounded the soles of his feet, he says, in an account verified by two independent human-rights researchers. They broke his left leg just below the kneecap. And then, when he was bruised and bloody and unconscious, the men left Last for dead and disappeared into the night. When Last finally crawled back to the road, half naked and petrified, he flagged down a passing tractor.\

But it is a sign of how pervasive the climate of fear has grown in Robert Mugabe's Zimbabwe that even to his rescuer, Last lied about what had happened in the bush that night. "I told [him] I was robbed," Last recalled recently. "I was afraid even of that farmer.".....

Behind closed doors, African leaders recently chastised Mugabe harshly. "My understanding is that they took him to the woodshed," says Christopher Dell, U.S. ambassador to Zimbabwe. According to several sources, including one in the room at the time who refused to be identified speaking about a private meeting, Mugabe seemed "sort of defeated" and expressed contrition to his fellow leaders.

Inside his country, however, Mugabe's rule is increasingly taking on the outlines of the worst dictatorships—another Burma, or even North Korea. On a rare journey into Zimbabwe, NEWSWEEK found a nation dominated by fear and the ever-present secret police, where a suspicious population is gradually turning on itself....

go to link for the rest of the story..

Green Racism

"People here have no jobs," Mark Fenn admitted, after taking documentary producers on a tour of his $35,000 catamaran and the site of his new coastal home. "But if you could count how many times they smile in a day, if you could measure stress" and compare that with "well-off people" in London or New York, "then tell me, who is rich and who is poor?"

Fenn is coordinator of the World Wildlife Fund's campaign against a proposed mining project near Fort Dauphin, Madagascar. The locals strongly support the project and want the jobs, development, improved living standards and environmental quality the state-of-the-art operation will bring.

People there live in abject poverty, along dirt roads, in dirt-floor shacks, and are hardly able to afford food on their $1,000-a-year average incomes. There is little power, no indoor plumbing. The local rain forest has been destroyed for firewood and slash-and-burn farming. People barely eke out a living.

But Fenn claims the mine will change the "quaint" village and harm the environment. He says he feels "like a resident," his children "were born and raised" there, and the locals "don't consider education to be important" and would just spend their money on parties, jeans and stereos.

Actually, Fenn lives 300 miles away and sends his children to school in South Africa. And the locals hardly conform to his insulting stereotypes. "If I had money, I would open a grocery store," said one. "Send my children to school," start a business, become a midwife, build a new house, said others....

These enemies of the poor say they are "stakeholders" wishing to "preserve" indigenous people and villages. They never consider what's wanted by the real stakeholders — those who live in these communities and must endure the consequences of harmful campaigns waged all over the world.

The WWF, Greenpeace, Oxfam, Sierra Club, Rainforest Action Network and other multinational activist groups battle mines in Romania, Peru, Chile, Ghana and Indonesia; electricity projects in Uganda, India and Nepal; biotechnology that could improve farm incomes and reduce malnutrition in Kenya, India, Brazil and the Philippines; and DDT that could slash malaria rates in Africa, where the disease kills 3,000 children a day.

They harp on technology's speculative hazards and ignore real, life-or-death dangers that modern mining, development and technology would reduce or prevent. They never mention the jobs, clinics, schools, roads, improved housing and small business opportunities — or the electricity, refrigeration, safe water, better nutrition, reduced disease and fewer dead children.

They pervert "sustainable development" to mean no development, and ignore how mines will lay the foundation that will sustain prosperity and better living standards for generations.

Agitators use global warming and "corporate social responsibility" to force companies to acquiesce to their agendas — and ignore human rights to energy and technology, and people's desperate cries for a chance to take their rightful places among the Earth's healthy and prosperous people.

They extol the virtues of microcredit, to support minimal family enterprises, and demand debt forgiveness and more foreign aid for corrupt dictators — but oppose economic development that would eliminate the need for international welfare. They blame Newmont Mining for accidents that killed five people over a two-year period in Ghana, but refuse to admit that their pressure campaigns cause millions of deaths every year. ...
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