Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Zimbabwe News Update: Sanctions Hit Local British Pensioners; Good Riddance to McGee, Pocock

Sanctions hit local British pensioners

Tribune-Herald Reporter

THE Western-imposed economic sanctions have hit pensioners hard, prompting the British government to airlift the first five of its 500 elderly citizens resident in Zimbabwe, whose pensions and investments were wiped out by the ravages of hyperinflation.

Economists say hyperinflation spawned by the illegal sanctions wiped out over 90 percent of working capital for every business and shop in Zimbabwe and was particularly vicious on pensions and individual investments, which were rendered worthless.

In February, Britain offered its citizens living in Zimbabwe a resettlement package to escape the prevailing economic problems.

Britain’s emergency measure to airlift its citizens came as increasing numbers of Britons approached the British embassy in Harare asking for help to leave.

Up to 5 000 elderly and infirm Britons were expected to take advantage of the British government’s "Zimbabwe Resettlement Programme", though only 500 are said to have signed up.

Observers have, however, expressed outrage over the British move saying the sanctions are colour blind as they have affected millions of black families as well, many of whom live on less than US$1 a day.

They said the repatriation showed shocking double standards as it showed that London was acknowledging the ruinous nature of the sanctions, yet it was keen to maintain them against black Zimbabweans.

‘‘Instead of airlifting its white citizens, Britain should spearhead the removal of the sanctions to enable the majority black Zimbabweans to live a better life as well,’’ charged Mr Reketai Chimbiro of Mabvuku.

Mr Cremio Risinamhodzi of the University of Zimbabwe said the British move should be a wake-up call to some black Zimbabweans who saw the British as messiahs.

‘‘When the story first surfaced that the British government wanted to repatriate its senior citizens, I remember reading that Western agencies had cushioned many of the white pensioners from the ravages of hyperinflation, yet they were not similarly inclined where black pensioners are concerned.’’

Those being repatriated, though resident in Zimbabwe, hold United Kingdom passports.

In his testimony to the US Senate in September 2001, ahead of the passing of the US sanctions, the so-called Zimbabwe Democracy and Economic Recovery Act, former US Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Chester Crocker called for the annihilation of the Zimbabwean economy.

Crocker said, ‘‘to separate the Zimbabwean people from Robert Mugabe, we are going to have to make the economy scream. And I hope you, Senators, have the stomach for it.’’

One of the senior citizens hard-hit by the screaming economy, Anne Budden (80) is leaving the land of her birth because she can no longer bear to be "a burden on my daughters in Zimbabwe".

"Their husbands are nearing retirement age. They keep on saying I should change my mind, but I must go.

"My hip operation took my last money. Our three pensions, on which we lived well, disappeared about five years ago. When Zimbabwe changed to US dollars in February, Caltex (her late husband’s former employer) cancelled my medical aid."

Budden, widowed two years ago, lives in a rented flat paid for by her daughter in the UK.

"I have had a lovely life, shielded from what is going on outside, with space, nice people and my own garden, and I will miss that, and especially my two daughters in Zimbabwe.

"I am leaving the country of my birth, but going to the land of my ancestors; I love the Queen and have a daughter in the UK."

Budden, daughter of the military commander of British forces in the old Southern Rhodesia, has chosen to live west of London, far from her daughter, to be next door to a friend from Harare, who was also due to be repatriated on Sunday.

"I feel so very, very sorry about the suffering of black people in Zimbabwe," she quipped.

Trained in nursing at Cape Town’s Groote Schuur Hospital, when pioneering heart transplant surgeon Chris Barnaard and his brother Marius were becoming doctors, she and her husband had a straightforward life in Harare until the hyperinflation wiped out their pensions and savings.

"In February, after Zimbabwe went to US dollars, I got a bank statement and there was one dollar in it — not an American dollar, a Zimbabwe dollar."

As each elderly, penniless Briton leaves Zimbabwe, money raised by various charities will be freed for more than 1 500 destitute elderly Zimbabweans with no other citizenship, no family and no escape.

"I have done more good than wrong, I helped more people than helped me and I deserve a Christian burial. I don’t want to get ill in Zimbabwe," said Scotsman Fred Noble (78), a widower.

He returns to Fife, 51 years after he and his wife left for Rhodesia with £100. He worked for the railways, retiring on pension 13 years ago.

Noble’s investments disappeared overnight when the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe chopped 12 zeros off the currency as hyperinflation hit more than 230 million percent.

Overnight his quadrillions of Zimbabwean dollars were worth less than a penny.

"We didn’t do anything wrong — we paid taxes, invested for our old age. My pension and medical aid from the railways stopped five years ago."

The European Union, the United States and their allies imposed economic sanctions on Zimbabwe in response to the Government’s decision to repossess land from white commercial farmers for distribution to landless black Zimbabweans.

The sanctions have been condemned by progressive people the world over, though the EU and the US still refuse to scrap them. – Tribune-Herald Reporter.

Zim needs image ambassadors

By Golden Guvamatanga

NOT a single day passes without mention of this or that foreign delegation of potential investors coming to Zimbabwe to discuss possible investment deals and in some cases sealing them.

This has been the trend for the past three or so months and we have seen many instances of the country’s, region’s and world’s best brains sitting down at one conference or another to plot the best ways in which to revive Zimbabwe’s economy and spruce up its image.

Every sector is beginning to wake up from their deep slumber as the battle to revive this sleeping giant called Zimbabwe gathers momentum.

For years, many companies, organisations and individuals have not tried to do as much as they could to prop up the national economy, preferring instead to resign themselves to the brutal impact of Western sanctions on the country.

The need to get each and every Zimbabwean up and about to do their bit for the reconstruction of this great country is now a must for everyone.

The inclusive Government is undertaking many different image correction and marketing initiatives as they seek to expose the true and real Zimbabwe to an ill-informed international community.

All this requires collective effort from all sectors concerned with development.

However — quite sadly — the marketing campaign has been restricted to too few people and organisations and a travel media company that recently launched an intensive marketing drive aimed at unravelling one of the best tourist sites in the whole world.

Essentially, the Government, through its various departments, is going it alone in this battle.

Deputy Prime Minister Professor Arthur Mutambara’s Office appears to be leading from the front with this rebranding crusade.

The Ministry of Tourism and Hospitality Industry, the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority and the Zimbabwe Council for Tourism are trying very hard with their celebrity host programme, which recently brought leading Nigerian actress Patience "Mai Azuka" Ozwokwor, among others.

The Ministry of Media, Information and Publicity is chipping in and we soon hope to see the launch of their information centres in five selected countries to market Zimbabwe as a safe tourist and business investment destination.

But is this where it all ends for a country renowned for producing some of the best brains the world has ever known?

Where are other Zimbabweans in these noble initiatives?

It seems those cited above for coming up with these marketing drives will have to carry the burden all the way by themselves.

But it does not have to be that way.

They could take part of the burden off their shoulders by adopting a plan for an ambassadorial role for each and every Zimbabwean both inside and outside the country, foreigners and interested groups alike.

The ambassadorial project can work as follows.

The first step is for the Government to come up with a uniform marketing plan for the country and adopt a colour for the national rebranding of the country.

In this case, green could be a good option as it augurs well with our leaders’ vision of achieving massive production through the revival of agriculture, industrial recapitalisation and environmental conservation.

The second step would be for the concerned sections to heed Tourism Minister Engineer Walter Mzembi and ZTA chief executive officer Mr Karikoga Kaseke’s calls for tourism, industry and other sector players to come up with sustainable marketing packages.

This is were every Zimbabwean comes in.

This is were people like Benjani Mwaruwari will come in handy in marketing Zimbabwe to the world through Manchester City, where he is currently based.

This is where people like Kirsty Coventry can use their swimming exploits to lure tourists from America and all over the world as a Zimbabwean ambassador.

This is where a music superstar like Oliver Mtukudzi, sungura giants Alick Macheso and Tongai Moyo, Chimurenga guru Thomas Mapfumo, gospel stars Charles Charamba, his wife Olivia, Shingisai Suluma, Stella Chiweshe, Chiwoniso Maraire, Clive Malunga will sing for Zimbabwe across the globe.

This is where businessmen like Strive Masiyiwa, Mutumwa Mawere, Nkosana Moyo, Nigel Chanakira, Shingi Munyeza, Chipo Mutasa, Phillip Chiyangwa and Supa Mandiwanzira can use their international profiles at business gatherings to market the country.

This is where communicators like Robson Sharuko, Charles Mabika, Godfrey Gweje, Tilda Karizamimba, Joram Nyathi, Bridget Gavanga, Dr Zobha, yes Dr Zobha, Caesar Zvayi, Beatrice Tonhodzayi, Reuben Barwe and Judith Makwanya — can use their international audiences, viewers and readers, to correct the country’s image.

Artistes like Steven Chifunyise, Davies Guzha, Elton Njanana, Theresa Muchemwa, Daniel Maposa, Jasen Mapepa, Dominic Benhura and others can showcase Zimbabwe for what it truly is.

This is where President Mugabe, Vice Presidents Mujuru and Cde Msika, and the rest of the country’s top political leadership can use their popularity and inclusiveness to inclusively market the country as a safe destination.

All these people evidently hold different political views but at the end of the day we are all Zimbabweans and the prosperity of our motherland is what should unite us.

The likes of Joe Thomas, Akon, Ringo Madlingozi, Malaika, Austin Okocha, Zinedine Zidane and Simbi Mubako can be included in this programme by simply using our embassies in the various countries that they are based.

This will complement the celebrity host programme and all the other initiatives that have been launched to make Zimbabwe great again.

In fact, this can be called a "Great Zimbabwe Project".

Visiting delegates, ambassadors both local and international, can take part in this project and market the country to an outside world that is crying out to be told the true Zimbabwe story.

The Government can, through the Ministry of Tourism, the ZTA, the Ministry of Media, Information and Publicity, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and Ministry of Regional Integration and International Co-operation use the Diaspora effectively.

The aforementioned ministries and departments can take advantage of Zimbabwe’s rich cultural diversity by forming a Zimbabwe Arts Group that can tour the region and the world as ambassadors ahead of the 2010 soccer World Cup in South Africa.

What we need is the adoption of a comprehensive ambassadorial programme to complement efforts to spruce up the country’s image.

We should form synergies between the ministries of Industry and Commerce, Public Service and Economic Planning and Development to adopt the Put Extra Time concept — an initiative in the Green Zimbabwe Project that seeks to encourage workers to add at least 30 minutes to their normal daily working hours so as to increase productivity.

With this campaign Zimbabwe can again go back to where it belongs — at the top.

To God we continue to pray for our beloved Zimbabwe’s well-being as the battle to achieve economic stabilisation, recovery and growth takes shape.

Long live Zimbabwe!

Seaway to boost regional economies

By Aguy Georgias

THE Portuguese, prior to Independence, conducted an extensive feasibility study into a seaway along the Zambezi from the Indian Ocean to Zambia and Zimbabwe.

The study was positive and was supported by the entire region at the time.

A trilateral memorandum of understanding was signed in April 2007 between Malawi, Zambia and Mozambique to re-open the lower Shire and lower Zambezi Rivers so as to provide a direct navigable waterway between Chinde and Nsange, a distance of 238km.

This compares with the distance to Beira of 8 090km and the seaport of Nacala (900km) and Dar es Salaam (1 200km).

So far as the Shire-Zambezi Waterway is concerned, the proposal is to construct a port at Nsange and to expand and modernise the old port at Chinde.

To link the two ports, the Shire-Zambezi waterway will be dredged to form a modern canal on which shallow draft, self-propelled barges and push tugs with interlocking barges will carry freight.

A lecture was delivered at the Royal Geographical Society in London on Thursday 8 November, 2007 by Professor Colin Baker on the above. Tourism was considered a viable consideration.

It is obviously more viable to construct a seaway along the Zambezi to Zambia and Zimbabwe serving the surrounding area of Mozambique laden with mineral wealth.

With the recent addition of Cabora Basa Dam, this project becomes significantly more viable as the area to Zambia and Zimbabwe has now been flooded. There is only the task of circumventing the Cabora Basa Gorge and dam, a mere 50km, and some dredging to bring this historic project to fruition.

It was the economic slump in the region, combined with the first world recession, that prompted the writer to pursue this worthy regional project which would turn around regional economies.

It would have the added effect of providing the First World with less expensive inputs to industry and commerce, greatly assisting their economies.

There is an urgent need to create massive employment opportunities, export earnings and both stabilise the economy whilst simultaneously raising the standard of living. This is such a project that will achieve these aims.

Zimbabwe is a landlocked country, reliant on fuel imports, expensive road and rail transport for its exports.

A seaway to the coast would provide cheap transportation, enabling heavy and bulky goods to be exported economically.

This would open up the regional economy and Zimbabwe, already possessing the infrastructure to construct the seaway would be revitalised. Mozambique has huge mineral deposits in the Tete region.

Good quality coal, as an example, could be viably exported via the seaway.

Again there are flooding problems in the region due to the siltation of the Zambezi River — the dredging of the river for a seaway would allow a free passage for floodwaters.

Which aid organisation, development organisation or environmental organisation, either has the funds or is prepared to fund the dredging of the Zambezi to prevent the continuing flooding of millions of acres of land?

Zambia’s Copper Belt is again in the doldrums resultant of the world recession. Transportation possibly costs more than extracting the copper, even with the recession, the huge reduction in export overheads could continue to make the Copper Belt viable.

True, there is a world price of many minerals, but the mining fraternity would continue to operate with a higher payback to the benefit of Zambia.

There are many other minerals that could be exploited were there a cheap export route to the coast such as the proposed seaway.

It would also promote massive investment in the area such as happened in Canada and the US resultant of the St Lawrence Seaway.

There are many minerals that have become uneconomical to export such as chrome (equipped mines and the processing plants lie idle all over Zimbabwe), iron ore, coal etc. due to the excessive cost of transport and fuel.

Transport to the coast often costs more than the sea freight to the First World; export revenue could be more than doubled to the benefit of the entire region. Again, what of maize and grain which are expensive to transport due to their bulk? Malawi could and would make use of the seaway too, it being close to their capital, Lilongwe.

Indeed it could feasibly be an asset to other nations farther afield in the region where the distance to the seaway is less than road routes to the sea.

Many mineral deposits, gas deposits (there are huge natural gas deposits and possibly oil adjacent to the Zambezi River) etc have been undeveloped due to the remoteness of the claim and the inability to viably transport same to the coast. With a canal system, these could now be opened up leading to massive regional investment.

If it were feasible to construct the St Lawrence Seaway to the Great Lakes of Canada and the US circumventing the Niagara Falls for, essentially, the transportation of grain and timber, then all the rich mineral deposits in Central Africa make a seaway essential to Zimbabwe and the entire region.

Most First World countries have waterways to the sea because it is economically viable to do so and instrumental in their development.

China has now prioritised such projects, spending US$22 billion on one canal project alone in the best interests of its export earnings and development.

Zimbabwe and the region need meaningful investment.

This project is labour intensive, thus the vast majority of investment in foreign exchange would be spent locally, a kind of invisible export.

With the support of regional governments, the project could commence immediately, attracting the necessary funding through the sale of shareholding on international stock markets providing much needed foreign exchange revenue in the marketplace.

It is estimated initially that approximately US$2 billion would be required from external investors, donors and international public participation.

Waterways have been built before in the most extreme circumstances and surveys would be conducted as the project commences and is underway. Fast-tracked by Government, it instantly and positively promote Zimbabwe and the region to potential investors in all fields.

Mozambique, Malawi and Zambia signed a Memorandum of Understanding on the construction of a waterway up the Shire River, a tributary of the Zambezi River, to Lake Malawi in 2007. The importance of this canal/seaway was mainly tourism.

The Zambezi Seaway is essential to investment and transportation of raw materials serving many landlocked countries, including Zimbabwe.

The investment and demand for goods/materials being purchased in foreign exchange would kick-start commerce and industry into serious production.

There is a need for large investment to reverse the current economic situation. Without a low cost efficient transportation system, a sea route, and a surplus of energy there may be no, sustainable regional development and growth. It would be an international image building exercise for Government and the nation.

How many members of the international public would not want to be associated with the concept and tempted to buy shares in a historic project that joins Victoria Falls, one of the Seven Wonders of the World, to the Indian Ocean?

Imagine the positive impact to tourism and revenue as the project gets underway?

This is a project that will survive the passage of time, remaining a fixture in the history books of the future.

Scope of construction

The Indian Ocean to Tete: This part of the construction would merely need maintenance as it is navigable for medium sized shipping.

There would be need to buoy and dredge the channel on a regular basis.

Capital expenditure would be the cost of at least one suitable dredging vessel and, of course, the buoys, which could be manufactured locally.

Approximately, US$5 million dollars would cover the cost of necessary equipment.

Tete: The bridge at Tete currently requires repair or replacement and if this project is given the urgency it deserves, it would allow Mozambique authorities to plan for and construct a lift bridge in its place.

Tete to the Cabora Bassa gorge: The same dredging equipment could be utilised and the channel thus formed would require marking buoys.

There are plans in Mozambique to construct a second dam below Cabora Basa Dam to generate more hydroelectric power.

Again, if urgent attention is given to this project a canal system circumventing the dam wall could be constructed along with the dam.

It is within the writer’s knowledge that extensive deposits of high-grade coal are present in the area.

Whilst the writer is unsure whether this has been taken into account, it may better use of resources for Mozambique to utilise the waste coal in thermal power stations instead of flooding valuable mineral claims.

Naturally, without urgent attention, the cost of the canal/lock/ship lift system could be in the region of US$50 million.

Circumventing Cabora Bassa gorge and dam by a system of locks: There would be a need to build a series of locks or ship lift and canal along a tributary to bypass the rocky gorge (about. 50km long). This by far would be the most expensive part of construction costing an estimated US$100 million.

Port facilities at Zambia and Zimbabwe. It is envisaged that the respective countries would construct these to meet their needs and that this would be an ongoing exercise.

Certainly, loading and offloading equipment would be needed in addition to barge handling equipment.

When completed, the seaway would provide a 1 500km seaway of immense economic importance to Zimbabwe, Zimbabwe, Mozambique and, at this stage, Botswana.

To be continued

Aguy Georgias is an industrialist and non-constituency Senator.

Good riddance to McGee, Pocock

EDITOR — Please allow me space to register my relief at the imminent departure of the American Ambassador to Zimbabwe James McGee, and his British counterpart Andrew Pocock.

Zimbabwe should have been long better off without this trouble-making duo.

During their tours of duty in Zimbabwe, they tormented me with many sleepless nights and little food at my table as they cruelly monitored how the illegal sanctions imposed on my country by their home countries destroyed the once thriving economy of a sovereign African nation.

I thank God for showing the outgoing ambassadors that there is more to Zimbabwe than meets the eye: the two officials failed to break the spirit of Zimbabweans, in fact, the Zimbabwean spirit is unbreakable.

They must go and tell all their relations that the people of Zimbabwe want their land above everything else and that Zimbabweans want to prosper without American and British interference in their domestic affairs.

Everybody knows that it is a disgraceful lie to say anything else other than that the tension between Zimbabwe and the West arises from the fact that the United Kingdom was being arrogant in its bilateral relations with Zimbabwe.

I thought we were in the 21st century and not in the colonial era!

I hope that the incoming ambassadors will not turn themselves into political activists rejoicing in trampling on our hospitality and national conscience.

Such behaviour will earn them our ire.

I should have wanted to accompany the troublesome duo to the airport on the days of their departure just to make sure that they have really boarded the plane and flown away had it not been that I would be busy making my modest contribution to my country by repairing the unwarranted national economic damage the outgoing ambassadors have inflicted on my country during their assignments of terror.

I sincerely expect Member of Parliament Eddie Cross to see the two agents of imperialism to the airport because such ambassadors are Cross’ heroes who should be worshipped for a job well done in Zimbabwe!

I would be forgiven for expecting Eddie Cross to be brave enough to the extent of changing his mind at the airport and joining his heroes on their flight to their next unfortunate destinations.

Eddie Cross brazenly wrote and said many negative things about Zimbabwe during the time McGee and his British counterpart pretended to be ambassadors at the British and American embassies in Harare.

Judging by the significance of the national values Eddie Cross pooh-poohed in his written and spoken words, one would be excused for thinking that the MP was not a Zimbabwean but an American or British embassy employee working in some special capacity.

You would think Eddie Cross, of the "let it crash and burn" fame, hailed either from London in England or Washington in America.

I expect him, too, to have a moment to ask himself, while driving from the airport, this question: Why am I coming back?

As for me, Zimbabwe is my home and nothing is sweeter than home.

Better Muende.

1 comment:

spiralx said...

Your articlwe is so biased and incorrect in its details it just makes me laugh.

There are no sanctions against Zimbabwe, let along "illegal" ones. There are travel and business restrictions against a criminal elite. As there should be.

And the repatriation exercise is for UK citizens, regardless of colour.