Zimbabwe: First signs of united front mass action against elite settlement

Protesting health workers in Harare, December 3. The protest was attacked by riot cops.
(See a short video of the December 3, 2008, protest HERE.)

By the National Co-Ordinating Committee, International Socialist Organisation Zimbabwe

December 2, 2008 -- The situation in Zimbabwe has reached unprecedented levels of crisis. As we have been saying for the last few years, such a crisis was climaxing and with a number of possibilities arising. First and most likely was the likelihood of the bourgeois elite politicians in [President Robert Mugabe's] Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF) and the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) uniting together in an elitist government of national unity in which ZANU-PF would be the senior partner around a Western- and capitalist-supported neoliberal economic agenda. The MDC's popularity would be used to pacify the urban working people from rising up.

The strong possibilities of this happening has been shown with the MDC's willingeness to accept the crumbs offered by the ZANU-PF and endorsed by the regional Southern African Development Community in which Mugabe would remain with virtually all his executive presidential powers with MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai acting as a prop.

Indeed the cynicism of the whole plot was shown in that as the MDC signed Constitutional Amendment 19 with ZANU-PF, Mugabe was appointing Gideon Gono for another five years as governor of the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe -- the same Gono who has been the central figure in the ZANU-PF's and the ruling class' neoliberal onslaught against working people for the last five years. He is the virtual de facto prime minister of Zimbabwe, unelected and unaccountable to the people, accoutable only to his equally unelected and illegitmate masters.

However, we also argued that if the elites did not quickly resolve their differences through an elitist government of national unity and if the country did not descend into a failed state like Somalia, there was a real possibility of uprisings from below led by the working class, but critically involving a united front of labour and radical civic groups and social movements, and militant rank and file activists from the MDC. We have consistently called for the urgent formation of such a united front to lead united mass action, centrally demanding a people-driven and anti-neoliberal constitution.

In the last few weeks the tensions and fights between the elites in the ZANU-PF and the MDC over the share-out of power and the continuation of sanctions, and the economic crisis has accelerated the crisis and brought greater political disllusionament among the ordinary people, leading to an increasing wave of discontent in the last few weeks, with strikes and protests by teachers, nurses, doctors, members of the National Constitutional Assembly (NCA), women and students.

And most decisively in the last few days, riots by lower ranks of the army in Harare beating up cash vendors sent by Gono, as well as shops selling in foreign currency. Yesterday they ran in the city centre singing and followed by scores of people denouncing Gono and the government. The situation is now extremely delicate ahead of the protests called for December 3 by civic groups led by the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions and also involving he Zimbabwe Social Forum and the National Constitutional Assembly.

The International Socialist Organisation (ISOZ) is centrally involved in the demonstrations through the Zimbabwe Social Forum (ZSF), where many of its leading cadres are playing a critical role. We welcome the demonstrations as the first sign of united front mass action that we have been calling for as the alternative to the elitist political parties' negotiated settlement.

Please find below the statement issued by the chairperson of the ZSF, Munyaradzi Gwisai, who is also the general co-ordinator of ISOZ, calling for local, regional and international mobilisation and support for the mass action tomorrow on December 3, 2008.

We shall continually update comrades on developments whilst we call for your support on what could be a decisive day of action. The resolution among the leadership of the ZCTU, ZSF and NCA is that we are going all-out no matter what the dictatorship throws at us and we are confident that hundreds will turn up for the demonstration.

No to Dictactorship! Viva Socialism!

Zimbabwe Social Forum: December 3 day of action to say `No to poverty, oppression and dictatorship!'

December 2, 2008 -- Following the Zimbabwe Social Forum held in Harare on October 11 2008 and the Southern Africa Social Forum of October 18 in Swaziland, it was resolved that the only way to resolve the unprecedented economic and political crisis in Zimbabwe is united direct mass action.

It was noted that whilst the ordinary people were suffering and dying, elites in politics and business were wallowing in luxury. Yet it is their system of neoliberal capitalism that has caused the crisis in the first place. It was resolved that half-baked elitist political settlements centred around imperialist-inspired neoliberal economic policies, as in the non-inclusive SADC-Mbeki talks and already being implemented by the unelected de facto prime minister of Zimbabwe, Reserve Bank governor Gideon Gono, who has been imposed on the people of Zimbabwe for a further five years, would only perpetuate the suffering of the people and the rule of his illegitimate and unelected masters in the ZANU-PF regime.

We cannot and we will not accept the same Gono who financed the destruction of our houses in Operation Murambatsvina and stole millions of US dollars meant for drugs and support of those with AIDS/HIV to buy judges, army and police chiefs and politicians Prados and Plasma TVs.

[The social forums agreed] that the only way forward to resolve the Zimbabwean crisis were immediate fresh democratic elections held under a new people-driven constitution that also guarantees the bread and butter issues of the working people and subordinates the private profit and wealth of the few to the human and social needs of the many.

To that end it was resolved to mobilise for all-out united mass action on December 3 by the Zimbabwe Social Forum (ZSF) together with the actions called by the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) demanding the removal of bank cash limits and the National Constitutional Assembly (NCA) rejecting the elitist constitutional process agreed by the politicians, and instead demand a people-driven constitution.

In addition are those demands already stated in the People's Charter including:

  • Removal of all limits on cash withdrawals in banks -- it's our money! Gono must go now!
  • Abolish all forex shops -- pay workers tax-free minimum living wages in forex!
  • Declare the cholera outbreak a national disaster -- clean water for the people and full compensation for those who have died of cholera! [According to the UN, Zimbabwe's ``unprecedented cholera outbreak'' has claimed 565 lives from the 12,546 recorded cases since August, and ``is worsening and is becoming difficult to contain as it spreads from cities''.]
  • Free antiretroviral drugs and support care -- open our hospitals and pay nurses and doctors living wages. We want free quality health care for all!
  • Open our schools, colleges and universities now –- pay teachers and lecturers living wages –- abolish all fees in forex. We want free quality education for all!
  • Affordable quality state subsidised public transport for all!
  • Living pensions for the disabled and elderly and free aids for them like wheelchairs and crutches, and an end to the stigmatisation and discrimination against the disabled.
  • No to harassment of informal and cross border traders -- passports are our right!
  • Full, affordable and quality state subsidised social services: water, electricity, refuse collection; housing, sewerage facilities -- no to privatisation of social utilities.
  • Full democracy now: No to the elitist givernment of nationalal unity and the Kariba draft constitution which keep the losers of the March 2008 elections in power! We demand free and fair elections under a deople-driven constitution!

Already thousands have been protesting and striking in the last few weeks -- from nurses, doctors, women, students, the NCA and, in the last few days, riots by underpaid and starving junior members of the armed forces.

The hour has now arrived in Zimbabwe! None but ourselves shall free ourselves! We shall from tomorrow, December 3, gather and march from bank premises in our thousands as AIDS/HIV activists, traders, students, youths, women, the disabled, workers, residents, artists, socialists and social, constitutional and economic justice activists, regardless of what the regime throws at us. The hour of freedom is near. We call on all progressive movements and activists in Africa and globally to stand with us as we reject poverty, oppression and dictatorship and fight for freedom!

Our country is not for sale ... Another Zimbabwe is possible! Another world is possible!

Say No to privatisation, neoliberalism and capitalism!

[The Zimbabwe Social Forum is made up of more than 40 organisations and movements from the following clusters: AIDS/HIV; disabled; labour and trade unions; youth; residents; gender; social service delivery; informal trade; debt and trade; human rights and governance and faith based.]

Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions leaders arrested

Dear Friends,

December 3, 2008 -- Wellington Chibebe (ZCTU secretary general) and Lovemore Matombo(ZCTU president) have managed to hand the ZCTU petition to the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe governor.

Soon after handing it over, Chibebe proceeded to address workers but was arrested while in the process of addressing the workers. He was arrested together with nine other people including Tonderai Nyahunzvi, Canwell Muchadya, Hillarious Ruyi, Cde Tarumbira and Joseph Chuma.

Another 10 in Harare were heavily assaulted by the police. These included Getrude Hambira (General Agricultural and Plantation Workers' Union general secretary), Angeline Chitambo (Zimbabwe Energy Workers' Union president), Tecla Masamba (Communications and Allied Workers' Union of Zimbabwe), Martha Kajama (National Engineering Workers' Union of Zimbabwe) and Mirriam Katumba (vice-chair Women's Advisory Council).

Meanwhile, Japhet Moyo (ZCTU deputy secretary general) Ben Madzimure (The Worker editor), Fungayi Kanyongo (The Worker intern), Raymond Majongwe (Progressive Teachers' Union of Zimbabwe general
secretary), James Gumbi (Zimbabwe Rural District Council Workers' Union general secretary), Osward Madziwa (PTUZ) were also arrested in Harare.

In Gweru, more than 25 people have been arrested. Amongst those arrested are the ZCTU central regional chair Charles Chikozho, Isaac Thebethebe (central region secretary), Moses Mhaka and Wilbert Muringani (both PTUZ) and Benard Sibanda.

In Zvishavane town 6 people were arrested while at Barclays Bank. The six are Elinas Gumbo, Ndodana Sithole, Nicholas Zengeya, Isaac Matsikidze, Sarudzai Chimwanda, and David Moyo. They are being held at
Zvishavane police station.

In most parts of the country, workers managed to hand in petitions to the RBZ offices.

Khumbulani, ZCTU information officer, 11620232/011620231


JOHANNESBURG — Zimbabwean riot police officers brandishing batons charged into a group of 100 doctors and nurses on Wednesday in Harare, the capital, breaking up a demonstration for better pay and working conditions in a nation suffering from both an epidemic of cholera and an economy in free fall.

The health workers, many dressed in uniform, fled as the police approached. Nearby, teachers and other union members tried to join the protest but were clubbed by yet more police officers, and at least 15 were arrested.

Earlier in the day, armed men identifying themselves as the police officers took a human rights activist, Jestina Mukoko, from her home in what Amnesty International called “part of an established pattern of harassment and intimidation of human rights defenders.” Ms. Mukoko, whose whereabouts are unknown, is director of the Zimbabwe Peace Project, an organization that has been documenting rights abuses.

The cholera epidemic and the new crackdown on dissent come in a country already mired in desperation. The government is paralyzed by a stalemated power-sharing deal, and the official inflation rate is 231 million percent. Grocery shelves are largely barren. Most public hospitals and schools are closed.

Since August, cholera deaths have risen to 565, according to the United Nations. More than 12,500 people are infected, and to make matters worse, in Harare water itself has become scarce as a dysfunctional government lacks the chemicals to purify the drinking supply. Many businesses have shut because of the sanitation problems.

To add to the chaos, soldiers, angered at the meagerness of their deflated pay, on Monday rampaged through central Harare, breaking windows, looting stores and robbing the money changers who deal in foreign currency. Armed police officers had to disperse the marauding troops with tear gas.

The demonstrations on Wednesday brought yet another macabre scene of violence. The police “assaulted several women, some of them pregnant,” said Lovemore Matombo, president of the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions.

The protesters, upset about restrictions that kept them from reclaiming their increasingly worthless cash, had been marching with placards. One read, “We want all our money!” Another said, “People are dying of preventable disease!”

Many onlookers were standing in long lines at banks, and they watched with a contradictory set of anxieties, afraid of being shot but reluctant to risk losing their place.

“I don’t want to die now,” said one observer, Mary Muzanenhamo, a mother of two boys. “I have kids to look after. I just hope this crisis will soon be over and we can start on a new chapter.”

Among the protesters who were arrested were Wellington Chibebe, secretary general of the Congress of Trade Unions, and Raymond Majongwe, secretary general of the Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe, Mr. Matombo said. All those arrested were released.

More than 50 others were arrested in demonstrations throughout the country, according to a statement by the Congress of Trade Unions, and several of those protesters remained jailed.

Earlier, some union members had presented a petition to Gideon Gono, the powerful governor of the nation’s Reserve Bank. The wages of many salaried workers are paid directly into bank accounts, and Mr. Gono had promised to raise the amount people can withdraw from 500,000 Zimbabwean dollars each day, which is now a paltry 20 cents, to 100 million Zimbabwean dollars, or about $40, each week.

The health care workers had their own particular complaints. “We are forced to work without basic health institutional needs like drugs, adequate water and sanitation, safe clothing gear, medical equipment and support services,” read a protest letter from the Zimbabwe Doctors’ Association.

Conditions in hospitals and clinics have been steadily deteriorating. Basic medicines are absent. There is no thread for suturing or needles for injections. The health system was already in collapse when the cholera epidemic struck.

This week, Unicef announced an emergency response to the worsening conditions. So did the European Commission and the International Red Cross.

“Cholera is a disease of destitution that used to be almost unknown in Zimbabwe,” Louis Michel, the European Commissioner for Development and Humanitarian Aid, told The Associated Press.

He was referring to a time when Zimbabwe was a breadbasket of the region. But during the past decade this nation has plunged into ruin, one reason being the confiscation of white-owned farms by the government of Robert Mugabe.

In elections last March, the 84-year-old Mr. Mugabe, who has headed the country for nearly 30 years, was outpolled by opposition candidate Morgan Tsvangirai. Forces loyal to the president then unleashed a campaign of violence before a runoff vote set for June. The brutality caused Mr. Tsvangirai to withdraw from the second election.

Regional leaders finally coaxed the two sides into a power-sharing deal with Mr. Mugabe’s remaining as president and Mr. Tsvangirai’s becoming prime minister. But though the agreement was hailed as a breakthrough, vital details have never been ironed out and the arrangement has been stymied by disputes over who will control key government ministries.

A journalist in Harare, Zimbabwe, contributed reporting.


Swoop on Zim protesters


Moses Mudzwiti Published:Dec 04, 2008

Mugabe's henchmen arrest doctors, nurses, journalists

PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe's return to Zimbabwe yesterday was marked by a huge
crackdown on pro-democracy activists who had planned marches in the capital,

Secret police, working with informers, identified "ringleaders" in the city
centre and bundled them into unmarked cars. At least 10 people are known to
have been abducted in the crackdown.

Raymond Majongwe, secretary-general of the Progressive Teachers' Union of
Zimbabwe, was detained with six others, all believed to be members of the
opposition Movement for Democratic Change.

Plainclothes policemen pounced on SABC journalist John Nyashanu and two
unidentified people in the city centre. Nyashanu previously worked for
state-owned ZBC TV. His fate remains unclear.

Activist Jestina Mukoko, director of the Zimbabwe Peace Project, was picked
up in Norton, a small town 40km south of Harare.

Health workers, including doctors and nurses, were arrested after they tried
to protest against the government's failure to deal with the cholera
outbreak, which has killed more than 400 people in the past four weeks.

The crackdown, which started soon after Mugabe arrived back from the UN
summit in Qatar, prevented pro-democracy activists from marching into the
city centre.

On Tuesday night, activists had distributed flyers in downtown Harare
inviting ordinary Zimbabweans to take a stand against the worsening economic
and humanitarian crisis.

The clampdown came a day after Security Minister Sydney Sekeramayi issued a
statement warning Zimbabweans to not break the law.

He claimed the rebellion by more than 100 soldiers had been contained.

Soldiers who had attacked "innocent citizens" and vandalised property would
be dealt with, he said.

Calling the soldiers' actions "deplorable", Sekeramayi said loyal forces
were on top of the situation.

It was the first time Mugabe's government had commented on the soldiers'
rampage, which started a week ago.

For five days running, hundreds of soldiers attacked foreign- currency
dealers in various locations in Harare. This culminated in a looting spree
on Tuesday.

"It won't happen again," declared Sekeramayi.

However, police sources said army chiefs had managed to put down the
rebellion only by promising each soldier a Z50-million cash payment.

"The soldiers were bused to Manyame air base, where they were given the
cash," said a reliable police source.

By late yesterday many activists had gone underground and were not available
for comment.

MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai is still out of the country.

The movement's secretary general, Tendai Biti, is expected in court today to
face a treason charge.


Abduction in Zimbabwe Raises Fear of New Crackdown


December 03,2008

The abduction today of Jestina Mukoko, one of Zimbabwe's most prominent
human rights activists, appears to signal that Robert Mugabe's regime has
renewed its campaign of violence against the country's civil society.
Freedom House calls for the immediate release of Mukoko and all other
prisoners of conscience and urges regional powers to break the political
deadlock that has sent Zimbabwe spiraling.

"Jestina Mukoko's kidnapping is part of a disturbing new escalation in
abductions and other human rights abuses in Zimbabwe," said Thomas O. Melia,
Freedom House deputy executive director. "This crackdown is what Mugabe and
his cronies do when faced with real problems like a mounting death toll from
cholera and a worthless currency."

Gunmen kidnapped Mukoko, director of the Zimbabwe Peace Project which
monitors human rights abuses, early today from her home. Witnesses believe
the armed men were plain clothed security agents with Zimbabwe's Central
Intelligence Organization.

The Zimbabwe Peace Project recently warned about a sharp increase
<http://www.freedomhouse.org/uploads/zpp_hrviol_report_0809.pdf> in
harassment and intimidation, mainly targeting critics of the Mugabe
government. Today in Harare, protesting health workers and unionists were
arrested and beaten by riot police.

Earlier this year, Mukoko's organization played a leading role in
documenting election-related violence that claimed the lives of more than
100 people, mainly opposition supporters. Elections in March resulted in the
opposition Movement for Democratic Change winning a majority in parliament
and MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai winning a plurality in the presidential
contest against Mugabe. When state-directed violence undermined the
scheduled presidential runoff election in June, Tsvangirai withdrew and a
mediation effort was undertaken by Southern African Development Community
(SADC), led by South Africa. However, Mugabe's refusal to allow MDC leaders
to assume control of key ministries has stalled power-sharing talks and
prevented the government from addressing the country's humanitarian crisis.

"The Southern African Development Community, led by South Africa, is
supposed to be brokering a political solution in Zimbabwe. Instead, SADC
stands idly by watching Zimbabwe implode," said Melia. "The world is waiting
for African governments to do what they have long said they would prefer-to
find 'African solutions to African problems.' It is entirely within the
capacity of South Africa and SADC to bring meaningful pressure to bear on
Mugabe and his cronies and they have declined to do so for reasons they do
not make clear."

Zimbabwe is ranked Not Free in the 2008 edition of Freedom in the World,
Freedom House's survey of political rights and civil liberties, and in the
2008 version of Freedom of the Press.

Freedom House, an independent nongovernmental organization that supports the
expansion of freedom in the world, has been monitoring political rights and
civil liberties in Zimbabwe since 1972.


HARARE, December 3 2008 - At least 20 people, including Zimbabwe
Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) leaders, have been arrested for taking part
in an illegal strike on Wednesday.

The organisation marched in protest of the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe
(RBZ)'s unpopular cash withdrawal limits.

Police arrested and detained ZCTU secretary general Wellington
Chibhebhe, together with several leaders of ZCTU's affiliate organisations.

Scores of ordinary Zimbabweans were injured when anti-riot police
violently dispersed a gathering, which was being addressed by ZCTU president
Lovemore Matombo in the city centre.

Despite the harassment, the ZCTU leaders managed to deliver their
petition to the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) governor, Gideon Gono.

Harare lawyer Alec Muchadehama, who is representing the group,
confirmed Chibhebhe was arrested by the police together with other ZCTU
officials, who include Gideon Shoko, James Gumbi and Ben Madzimure, editor
of The Worker.

South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) bureau chief, John
Nyashanu, and Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (PTUZ) secretary
general, Raymond Majongwe, are among those arrested.

Muchadehama said the arrested are yet to be charged.

Baton wielding police officers were planted virtually along every
street in Harare's city centre to stave off further protests.

ZCTU wants daily cash withdrawal limits, which it says are both
illegal and constantly prejudice hardworking Zimbabweans who endure endless
trips to banking halls everyday to withdraw as little as $500 000, to be

Most Zimbabweans salaries remain trapped in their bank accounts while
they are forced to withdraw limited amounts which are not even enough to
cover a single trip into the city centre from any of the city's high density

The Central Bank this week however, reviewed daily cash withdrawal
limits to a maximum of $100 million per week while corporates will now
withdraw a maximum of $150 million.

The new cash limits coincide with the unveiling of new notes, namely
the $10 million, $50 million and $100 million.

The ZCTU dismissed the withdrawal limit increase, which it says does
not address the root causes of recurrent cash shortages.

SW Radio Africa, 4 December

22 injured as NCA demonstrators clash with police

By Alex Bell

At least 22 people were seriously injured after demonstrators clashed with police on the streets of Harare on Thursday afternoon - during a peaceful demonstration organised by the National Constitutional Assembly (NCA). The NCA has called on the people of Zimbabwe to protest regularly and consistently, every week ,until a resolution to the political crisis engulfing Zimbabwe is found and implemented. The protests call for a transitional authority, not a government, to immediately address the desperate humanitarian crisis and as well as facilitate the writing of a people-driven democratic constitution. But the past two mass actions have been marred by a violent crackdown on the demonstrators, who have faced arrest and beatings at the hands of police. A female NCA member suffered a miscarriage after being severely assaulted by police when she and more than 20 others were arrested in the first round of demonstrations last month. Last week several people were injured and another two demonstrators were arrested when the NCA again took to the streets.

NCA spokesman Madock Chivasa explained on Thursday evening that more than 1000 people gathered in Nelson Mandela Avenue in Harare in the afternoon. He described the action as very successful because of the large number of protesters that joined the mass action, but he explained that shortly after the march began, police again descended on them. "The police fired tear gas into the protesters and started beating people," Chivasa explained. "It led to running battles with the police and it ended in chaos." Chivasa said that at least 22 people were seriously injured in the clash with police, and by Thursday evening the group was still trying to establish how many people had been arrested. "Currently our lawyers are trying to track down who has been arrested," Chivasa said. "The police were picking up people randomly off the streets so we don't know how many people have been taken." 


3 December 2008. For immediate release

ITF condemns Zimbabwe arrests

The ITF (International Transport Workers' Federation) today
unequivocally condemned the arrests of trade unionists in Zimbabwe.
Among those being held for nothing more than having attended a
peaceful demonstration are members of the ITF's affiliated trade

Around 50 unionists have been detained, some violently, after
demonstrating against limits on bank withdrawals that have left
Zimbabweans unable to take out enough money to buy a day's food.

Among the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions members taken by police
are the ZCTU General Secretary, for delivering a petition to the
Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe, and Gideon Shoko, ZCTU Deputy General
Secretary and General Secretary of the Zimbabwe Amalgamated Railway
Workers' Union (ZARWU), who was due to attend an ITF Railway Section
meeting next week. Also held n Bulawayo Central Police Station is
Keneth Nemachena of ZARWU, which is a member of the ITF.

ITF General Secretary David Cockroft commented: "The Zimbabwean police
have once again massively overreacted when faced with peaceful
protest. We are again faced with the dying gasps of the Mugabe regime,
which always reaches for the truncheon when it should reach for the
handle of the exit door. The damage is done. The only thing they can
do now is immediately release these trade unionists unharmed."


ZIMBABWE: "A hungry and angry soldier can be very dangerous"

Photo: Kubatana
Trying times
HARARE, 4 December 2008 (IRIN) - Robert Charamba (not his real name) is a soldier in the Zimbabwe National Army. He was not among the soldiers who recently rampaged through the capital, Harare, because he was in the border town of Beitbridge visiting his wife, a cross-border trader.

"But if I had been around I would have joined my colleagues, because I understand colleagues who mugged and robbed foreign currency traders made enough money to see them into next year.

"It is very difficult to say exactly what forces are at play, but in a crisis situation such as we have, it is possible for some people to manipulate people and events. 

"On the eve of the nationwide demonstrations against money shortages, [held on Wednesday 3 December] officials from the Reserve Bank [of Zimbabwe] visited all military barracks with truckloads of money and doled out Z$15 million [US$8] to all soldiers. I don't know how long they can go on paying money to calm restive soldiers.

"The soldiers are angry and restive. The generals are the only ones who are happy under this government. They have farms, get free food meant for soldiers which they divert to the parallel market; they receive free fuel and have several official cars, while the soldiers have to do without food and a decent uniform.

"Because of the nature of our job, which is different to that of police officers, we cannot solicit for bribes. Police officers are mounting 'private' roadblocks where they demand bribes as a way of supplementing their income. The only route open to soldiers is brazenly grabbing from the civilians.

"There is a facility under which soldiers are supposed to withdraw all their monthly salaries through the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe, but the senior officers take that money and order us to go and queue like the rest of the population.

"The [Reserve Bank] governor [Gideon Gono] has presided over a chaotic period in the banking sector, and the feeling among soldiers is that a new person with fresh and innovative ideas should have been appointed. [Gono was recently reappointed for another five-year term by President Robert Mugabe].

"As far as we know, Gono is sending the local currency onto the parallel market in order to buy US dollars for himself and the ruling elite.

"So, when soldiers can't get money from the bank, where it should be, they naturally follow it to the parallel market, where the dealers are awash with freshly minted bank notes.

"We are human like everybody, and we have families which need to be fed, clothed, housed and educated. And when we can't get money from the normal places, like everybody is doing in Zimbabwe, we make a plan and unfortunately that is the chaotic route.

"Remember, a hungry man is an angry man, and a hungry and angry soldier can be very dangerous."

Report can be found online at:

"Remember, a hungry man is an angry man, and a hungry and angry soldier can be very dangerous." ...These are words that the "fat and happy" at the top should be wary of.