Category Archives: Zimbabwe

End of an Era

Thank you to Sr. Marie André Mitchell, SNDdeN (from the Zimbabwe-South Africa Province of the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur) for sending this article and site.

Please continue to keep Zimbabwe in your prayers.


The Jesuit Institute is passionate about building bridges between faith and the broader society. Each week we offer a reflection on something topical. Feel free to reproduce or distribute but please credit the Jesuit Institute and the writer.

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The End of an Era
by Anthony Egan SJ

Robert Mugabe’s resignation on 21 November 2017 after 37 years as President of Zimbabwe is the end of an era. It is also a relief for many – perhaps most – Zimbabweans, whose country has undergone political, economic and social turmoil for so long. For many the events of the last week or so culminating in Mugabe’s peaceful deposition is a sign of hope. It will almost certainly have consequences wider afield.

The last twenty years have been tragic for Zimbabwe. Instead of improving the people’s lot, chaotic land reform, whatever it’s symbolic and social necessity, damaged the nation’s economy and reduced its agricultural output. The once-strong Zim Dollar collapsed and its replacement by the U.S. Dollar and the Bond Notes has crippled the economy and reduced the majority of citizens to poverty. Beyond that, there have been constant claims of corruption, electoral irregularities, political intimidation and increasingly authoritarian state power. As one who has visited Zimbabwe regularly since the 1980s, I have noticed over the years how behind the warmth of the Zimbabweans I met there has been an increasing sense of fear, uncertainty and even pessimism about the country’s future.

This week that changed. This is all to the good. One can only hope and pray that things will improve.

There are questions, of course, about Mugabe’s successor. Emmerson Mnangagwa has a reputation among political observers as a ‘hard man’. He was minister of State Security during the Gukurahundi massacres in the south during the 1980s. Combatting guerrilla dissidents led to well-documented atrocities. Similarly, he was implicated later by the United Nations in mineral trafficking and using the Zimbabwe Defence Force for personal gain during the country’s intervention in the civil war in the Congo. To deliver on the hope this week has generated, Mnangagwa will have to restore national confidence in democracy and introduce policies to revive the economy.

Is this possible? While cynical political observers may doubt it, the Christian vision says it is possible. At the heart of faith is metanoia – conversion of heart. But there must be the will to do it.

Looking beyond Zimbabwe, Mugabe’s deposition may have wider, perhaps unexpected, consequences. The sense that a seemingly untouchable figure can be forced to resign could have a ripple effect in countries across Africa, where once-popular leaders have overstayed their welcome.

While the blunt instruments of mass protest and ‘coups’ are not the ideal way to change governments, particularly in constitutional democracies, they may occasionally be the only way to remove folks in power past their sell-by date. The events this week may be an impetus and inspiration in some countries to encourage unpopular leaders to consider other gainful employment.

I would not be surprised, too, that, in South Africa, Mugabe’s resignation has not been watched with unease. Though there is no exact correlation (yet) between the Zimbabwean and South African situations, widespread discontent with Jacob Zuma’s government grows. This should be particularly apparent to the ruling party as its party congress approaches. Could events in Zimbabwe be the catalyst for the end of yet another era…?

[ http://www.jesuitinstitute.org.za/index.php/2017/11/23/end-of-an-era/ ]

 

Zimbabwe cracks down on foreign firms over local ownership

Deutche Wella

zim2.jpgZimbabwe has given foreign firms just over a week to cede majority stakes to locals or face closure. Critics say the move will discourage foreign investment in an economy which is struggling.

Zimbabwe has said it will cancel licenses of foreign firms which have not complied with legislation forcing them to hand over majority stakes to local shareholders.

The government adopted the legislation in 2008 to compel foreign firms to cede at least 51 percent to promote black ownership and correct imbalances from the colonial era. However, this law is often not adhered to. Continue reading Zimbabwe cracks down on foreign firms over local ownership

Groundwater Crisis Worsens Food Insecurity

InterPress Service

By Ignatius Banda

zim1
BULAWAYO, Zimbabwe, Feb 23 2016 (IPS) – Sijabuliso Nleya has been kept busy in the past few weeks digging up sand. He is not a sand poacher like scores of people who local district councils across the country say are digging along dry river beds for sand used in the construction of houses. “The situation is terrible,” said Nleya, who owns a plot in Douglasdale, a small farming community on the outskirts of Bulawayo.

Together with other men, he has been filling up dry wells and boreholes, as groundwater increasingly becomes an unforeseen casualty of climate change, thanks to the absence of rainfall for long periods across the country. “The dry wells have become dangerous when in the past they were a source of our livelihood. It’s better to fill them with sand than dream that they will provide us with water one day,” Nleya told IPS. Continue reading Groundwater Crisis Worsens Food Insecurity

El Nino and Drought Take a Toll On Zimbabwe’s Cattle

All Africa
By Marko Phiri

zimTsholotsho — Justin Dlomo watches his small herd of emaciated cattle scrounge for bits of dry grass with a growing sense of dread.

“I don’t even know what to do anymore,” he says.

Worsening drought in Zimbabwe has dried up water holes, crops and pasture, leaving farmers like 56-year-old Dlomo, who lives about 120 kilometers north of Bulawayo, unable to feed their animals – and unable to sell them for much either.

“We are all selling off our livestock. Better that than watch the cattle die,” Dlomo told Thomson Reuters Foundation.

But because so many desperate farmers now have animals on the market, a cow that used to sell for $500 now fetches just $150 – or in some places as little as $50 – from buyers in the cities.

As climate change strengthens, drought is becoming more frequent and severe in southern Africa, and that – combined with this year’s El Nino phenomenon – is taking a heavy toll on rural lives and economies, experts say. Continue reading El Nino and Drought Take a Toll On Zimbabwe’s Cattle

Zimbabwe: when ending child labor does not end child exploitation

African Arguments

Rights groups scored a victory when a tea estate ended its ‘earn and learn’ scheme. But without further support, the situation facing former child workers is arguably as dire as ever.

Tea plantations in Chipinge, Zimbabwe. Photograph by Ngoni Shumba.
Tea plantations in Chipinge, Zimbabwe. Photograph by Ngoni Shumba.

In the rural district of Chipinge in eastern Zimbabwe, lush green tea plants cover the gentle slopes and valleys, painting a picturesque image. However, until a couple of years ago, this idyllic landscape was tainted by a less scenic reality.

For half a century, the Tanganda Tea Company, which grows tea in across 2,600 hectares, ran a so-called Earn and Learn scheme whereby children would work on the fields in return for educational support. The company boasted that the programs provided an education to under-privileged children. But rights groups accused it of exploitation and described the young workers’ deep scars, chapped hands and high drop-out rate.
Two years ago, a midst media criticism and concerns about its international reputation, Tanganda finally submitted to pressure and abandoned the scheme. However in the absence of a safety net for the students who were part of the programs, the situation facing Chipinge’s children has changed but arguably not got any better. Continue reading Zimbabwe: when ending child labor does not end child exploitation

Zim economy: Mugabe asks the West for help

Mail & Guardian
For first time in over 15 years, Mugabe openly asked for Western re-engagement in the ailing Zimbabwe economy in his State of the Nation address.

Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe delivers his first State of the Nation address in eight years. (AFP)
Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe delivers his first State of the Nation address in eight years. (AFP)

Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe said Tuesday in his first State of the Nation address in eight years that he welcomed Western assistance in his country’s economy – the first such statement in a decade and a half of strained relations with the US and Europe.

The 91-year-old veteran president was booed and heckled by opposition politicians over the deteriorating economy as he delivered a policy speech that lasted less than half an hour in Parliament.

Mugabe also called for strengthening of ties with multilateral institutions, which include the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank.

“My government values re-engagement of the Western world in the Zimbabwe economy,” he said Continue reading Zim economy: Mugabe asks the West for help

‘What lion?’ Zimbabweans ask amid ‘first world’ Cecil circus

Protesters hold signs during a rally outside the River Bluff Dental clinic against the killing of a famous lion in Zimbabwe, in Bloomington, Minnesota July 29, 2015. Photo/REUTERS
Protesters hold signs during a rally outside the River Bluff Dental clinic against the killing of a famous lion in Zimbabwe, in Bloomington, Minnesota July 29, 2015. Photo/REUTERS

The Star

For most people in the southern African nation, where unemployment tops 80 percent and the economy continues to feel the after-effects of billion percent hyperinflation a decade ago, the uproar had all the hallmarks of a ‘First World Problem.’

As social media exploded with outrage this week at the killing of Cecil the lion, the untimely passing of the celebrated predator at the hands of an American dentist went largely unnoticed in the animal’s native Zimbabwe.

“What lion?” acting information minister Prisca Mupfumira asked in response to a request for comment about Cecil, who was at that moment topping global news bulletins and generating reams of abuse for his killer on websites in the United States and Europe.

The government has still given no formal response, and on Thursday the papers that chose to run the latest twist in the Cecil saga tucked it away on inside pages.

One title had to rely on foreign news agency copy because it failed to send a reporter to the court appearance of two locals involved.

In contrast, the previous evening 200 people stood in protest outside the suburban Minneapolis dental practice of 55-year-old Walter Palmer, calling for him to be extradited to Zimbabwe to face charges of taking part in an illegal hunt.

Local police are also investigating death threats against Palmer, whose location is not known.

Because many of the threats were online, police are having difficulty determining their origins and credibility.

Palmer, a lifelong big game hunter, has admitted killing Cecil with a bow and arrow on July 1 near Zimbabwe’s Hwange national park, but said he had hired professional local guides with the required hunting permits and believed the hunt was legal.

For most people in the southern African nation, where unemployment tops 80 percent and the economy continues to feel the after-effects of billion percent hyperinflation a decade ago, the uproar had all the hallmarks of a ‘First World Problem’.

“Are you saying that all this noise is about a dead lion? Lions are killed all the time in this country,” said Tryphina Kaseke, a used-clothes hawker on the streets of Harare.

“What is so special about this one?”

As with many countries in Africa, in Zimbabwe big wild animals such as lions, elephants or hippos are seen either as a potential meal, or a threat to people and property that needs to be controlled or killed.

The world of Palmer, who paid $50,000 (Sh5.1 million) to kill 13-year-old Cecil, is a very different one from that inhabited by millions of rural Africans who are more than occasionally victims of wild animal attacks.

According to CrocBITE, a database, from January 2008 to October 2013, there were more than 460 recorded attacks by Nile crocodiles, most of them fatal.

That tally is almost certainly a massive underrepresentation.

“Why are the Americans more concerned than us?” said Joseph Mabuwa, a 33-year-old father-of-two cleaning his car in the centre of the capital.

“We never hear them speak out when villagers are killed by lions and elephants in Hwange.”