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ZIMBABWE: IRIN chronology [2000407]

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  • Kristen Cheney
    Here s a concise synopsis of recent events in Zim. Can t wait to see all you DC people next weekend! KC
    Message 1 of 1 , Apr 7, 2000
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      Here's a concise synopsis of recent events in Zim.

      Can't wait to see all you DC people next weekend!

      KC
      >
      >ZIMBABWE: IRIN chronology
      >
      >IRIN chronology of the current crisis
      >
      >JOHANNESBURG, 6 April (IRIN) - The following is a chronology of significant
      >events in Zimbabwe from August 1997.
      >
      >1997
      >
      >August
      >
      >- The government pays out an unbudgeted multi-million dollar compensation to
      >former independence war veterans after they besiege the headquarters of
      >President Robert Mugabe's ruling ZANU-PF party demanding financial
      >reimbursement for their role in brining Zimbabwe to independence from
      >Britain in 1980.
      >
      >October
      >
      >- Mugabe, keen to boost flagging popularity, announces acceleration of the
      >land reform programme. He says the constitutional right of white commercial
      >farmers to compensation for land confiscated will not be honoured. He
      >unsuccessfully challenges Britain, as the former colonial power, to pay the
      >compensation.
      >
      >November
      >
      >- A list of 1,471 farm properties to be reallocated is published by the
      >government.
      >
      >December
      >
      >- The Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) organises a general strike
      >over three unpopular new taxes to finance the new benefits for war veterans.
      >The taxes are subsequently withdrawn.
      >
      >- Shortly after the demonstrations, ZCTU leader Morgan Tsvangirai is
      >assaulted in his office by anonymous assailants, later said to be war
      >veterans.
      >
      >1998
      >
      >January
      >
      >- In mid-January unprecedented food riots erupt in urban areas over price
      >increases in the staple, maize. The army is deployed with authorisation to
      >open fire. Nine people are reportedly killed and some 800 arrested.
      >
      >June
      >
      >- The International Monetary Fund (IMF) on 1 June approves a stand-by credit
      >facility of US $175 million for 13 months in support of the country's 1998
      >economic reform programme. Of this amount, US $53 million was immediately
      >available. Subsequent quarterly disbursements are made available subject to
      >Zimbabwe meeting performance targets and programme reviews.
      >
      >- Four commercial farms are invaded by hundreds of landless peasants in
      >Marondera, 70 km east of Harare. Mugabe says he will not use force to order
      >their eviction.
      >
      >July
      >
      >- The Central Statistics Office reports that the country's year-on-year
      >inflation had reached 29.8 percent for the month of June. The IMF sets an
      >inflation target of 19 percent for the year. Economists say this is
      >impossible to achieve.
      >
      >August
      >
      >- Mugabe's government sends troops to the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC)
      >to fight on the side of President Laurent-Desire Kabila's forces against a
      >rebellion supported by Rwanda and Uganda. Local media reports say an
      >estimated 6,000 troops, aircraft and armoured vehicles have been deployed at
      >a monthly cost of US $1.7 million. The number of troops deployed in the DRC
      >increased to about 12,000 by the beginning of 1999.
      >
      >- The IMF suspends the release of the US $53 million promised in June
      >because of the country's involvement in the DRC.
      >
      >September
      >
      >- The Zimbabwe dollar loses half its value following the deployment of
      >soldiers to the DRC, leading to massive price rises and violent street
      >protests. Finance minister Herbert Murerwa attributes the slide of the
      >Zimbabwe dollar to low commodity prices and monetary speculation.
      >
      >- At an international conference on land reform donors say they will support
      >land resettlement if the government assures the programme is transparent,
      >cost-effective and alleviates poverty.
      >
      >November
      >
      >- The petrol price is increased by 65 percent.
      >
      >December
      >
      >- The IMF refuses to release US $53 million in support funds. It
      >indefinitely postpones a board meeting to consider further balance of
      >payments support for the country.
      >
      >- The United States suspends a US $120 million aid package citing human
      >rights violations following the detention and torture of two journalists.
      >
      >- The government introduces price controls on basic commodities after
      >widespread food riots. Producers complain that with inflation running at 50
      >percent, affecting the cost of inputs, maintaining the government's
      >artificial ceiling is not viable.
      >
      >1999
      >
      >January
      >
      >- The price of diesel is increased by 24 percent and the price of oil goes
      >up 30 percent.
      >
      >April
      >
      >- The Zimbabwe government struggles to keep its price control regime on
      >basic commodities intact in the face of price hikes by the country's millers
      >and sugar producers, with further increases in the offing for May.
      >
      >- The government orders millers to reverse their latest 20 percent rise in
      >the price of flour, and threatens to gazette the price of bread and flour if
      >the millers do not comply.
      >
      >- The millers say they would only agree if the government provides the cheap
      >wheat they were promised.
      >
      >- Sugar suppliers also announce a 20 percent hike, resulting in a ripple
      >effect throughout the food and beverage industry.
      >
      >- The trade union movement threatens mass action if employers fail to award
      >a 20 percent cost of living adjustment by the end of the month.
      >
      >May
      >
      >- 'The Financial Gazette' reports that Zimbabwe has spent the equivalent of
      >US $12.5 million on its military intervention in the DRC.
      >
      >- Zimbabwe's Standard Chartered Bank says the country's economy is expected
      >to grow by less than two percent in 1999.
      >
      >- The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe says inflationary pressures have become "the
      >greatest single challenge" to stabilisation measures and growth prospects.
      >It says inflation has hit an all-time high of 52.8 percent, up from 31
      >percent in 1998.
      >
      >- Tsvangirai launches a new union-linked opposition party, the Movement for
      >Democratic Change (MDC).
      >
      >- Fuel prices go up 32 percent.
      >
      >- The country's consumer council says since the beginning of 1999, basic
      >commodities prices had gone up by more than 300 percent.
      >
      >- The government says it will go ahead with a reform of the constitution
      >which had been amended 15 times since independence in 1980, despite a
      >boycott by opposition groups. It urges the opposition to participate in a
      >government-appointed constitutional commission designated to present a draft
      >constitution to Mugabe by the end of the year.
      >
      >- Tsvangirai, who is also chair of the opposition National Constitutional
      >Assembly (NCA) says the boycott will continue. He says the NCA, a coalition
      >of civil society groups, will lead a national "information and education
      >campaign" to run in parallel with the government's constitutional reform
      >process.
      >
      >June
      >
      >- An estimated 14,000 civil servants, including nurses and teachers, embark
      >on strike action for a 25 percent wage increase while the government offers
      >5 percent.
      >
      >- The price of maize is increased by 20 percent.
      >
      >- The country's millers threaten to stop producing the national staple maize
      >meal unless the government allows them a 60 percent hike in its retail
      >price.
      >
      >- The millers lay off at least 1,000 workers out of a labour force of 1,400
      >following a production halt in protest over government price controls.
      >
      >- This is followed by the closure of the plants in a continuing dispute over
      >the government's refusal to grant the millers a 62 percent increase on the
      >retail price of maize meal. Widespread shortages of the staple maize meal
      >follow throughout the country.
      >
      >July
      >
      >- The government relents and allows the millers an additional 20 percent
      >increase in the retail price of maize meal, bringing the total retail
      >increase to 42 percent.
      >
      >- The inflation rate jumps to 63.5 percent from 55.2 percent the month
      >before.
      >
      >- The IMF expects Zimbabwe to meet an inflation target of 29.8 percent by
      >December. Economists say prices must fall by over 4 percent to meet that
      >target.
      >
      >- Riot police fire teargas to disperse protesting independence war veterans
      >besieging the ZANU-PF party headquarters demanding US $13,000 each in
      >compensation for their role in liberating the country.
      >
      >August
      >
      >- The IMF approves a standby loan of about US $193 million subject to the
      >government meeting economic targets. But it also asks for clarification over
      >Harare's spending on the DRC conflict.
      >
      >September
      >
      >- Zimbabwe's state-owned arms manufacturer, Zimbabwe Defence Industries
      >(ZDI), is reportedly owed about US $2.7 million by the DRC government for an
      >unspecified amount of small arms and ammunition as well as food rations.
      >
      >- Bilateral donors earmark some US $141 million to help reform the battered
      >economy following the IMF's promise of US $193 million for balance of
      >payments support.
      >
      >- Official figures show a record inflation rate of 70 percent, with some
      >banks charging an estimated 52 percent interest on loans.
      >
      >- Italy suspends a US $22 million aid programme for the electrification of
      >about 250 rural schools and 250 clinics as well as for the construction of a
      >major dam project. The Italians cite a lack of transparency in the awarding
      >of tenders as the reason.
      >
      >October
      >
      >- The IMF suspends funds to Zimbabwe over disagreements on the cost of
      >Zimbabwe's intervention in the DRC and its failure to heed economic reform
      >recommendations.
      >
      >- The World Bank indefinitely postpones talks on a new US $140 million
      >structural reform programme until the government gets its programme with the
      >IMF back on track.
      >
      >- Finance minister Herbert Murerwa says an internal memo claiming Zimbabwe
      >had spent US $166 million from January to June on the DRC war, rather than
      >the US $3 million a month it had told the IMF, was quoted out of context.
      >
      >- The African Development Bank signs a US $130 million loan with the
      >government to support economic development. However, the bank retracts its
      >promise and puts the loan on hold saying Zimbabwe has to come to "terms with
      >the IMF on the course of its troubled economic reforms".
      >
      >November
      >
      >- Zimbabwean exporters holding corporate foreign currency accounts are
      >ordered to change half their holdings into local currency within 60 days
      >under a finance ministry plan to support the country's dwindling foreign
      >exchange reserves.
      >
      >December
      >
      >- NOCZIM, the country's oil procurement agency, raises retail fuel prices by
      >about 8 percent, citing high prices on the world market, difficulties in
      >getting foreign currency and high interest rates.
      >
      >- The government announces increases in salaries and perks of up to 750
      >percent for cabinet ministers, members of parliament, local chiefs and
      >headmen to be backdated to July. Mugabe also gets a pay increase.
      >
      >- Diesel supplies run dry in most parts of the country, bringing public
      >transport to a standstill. Hundreds of people are unable to travel to their
      >rural homes to be with their families for the festive season. Queues build
      >outside petrol stations, and commuters are stranded as buses run low on
      >fuel. On one occasion, riot police are called to control an angry petrol
      >queue.
      >
      >2000
      >
      >January
      >
      >- The government announces it would raise civil servants salaries by up to
      >90 percent. However, it said it would have to cut 20,000 jobs to effect
      >savings on the public service wage bill.
      >
      >- The Central Statistical Office (CSO) announces that the inflation rate has
      >dropped for the second straight month in December to 56.9 percent from 70
      >percent in October.
      >
      >- South African banks suspend lines of credit to Zimbabwe. The banks refuse
      >to confirm any letters of credit from Zimbabwean banks mainly because of the
      >foreign currency shortages and fears about the government's ability to
      >continue receiving aid from the international community.
      >
      >- Zimbabwe's diesel shortages worsen as NOCZIM, the state oil procurement
      >agency, fails to procure sufficient quantities of fuel because of its
      >estimated debt of US $235 million to suppliers.
      >
      >- The Commercial Farmers Union says the shortages have disrupted tobacco
      >harvesting, which accounts for about 30 percent of the country's export
      >earnings.
      >
      >- Some public transport buses are grounded, making it difficult for many
      >workers to get to and from work.
      >
      >- A Mobil spokeswoman says the oil industry is likely to face frequent
      >shortages because stock levels were low and that it would take some time to
      >re-build the country's reserves.
      >
      >February
      >
      >- In a major political defeat for Mugabe, the Zimbabwean electorate
      >overwhelmingly rejects the draft constitution. In a two-day referendum 55
      >percent of the electorate vote against the proposed draft, against 45
      >percent who voted for it. An estimated one million voters participated.
      >
      >- Twenty-six white-owned farms are occupied by independence war veterans
      >following the referendum.
      >
      >- Media reports say Zimbabwe has been exporting up to 1.5 million litres of
      >fuel to the DRC and Zambia each week despite a crippling domestic shortage
      >and growing queues outside petrol stations.
      >
      >- Fuel prices are increased by up to 18 percent in what analysts said was a
      >necessary correction in the troubled industry. NOCZIM cites an increase of
      >over 10 percent in world market prices as partly to blame for the hike.
      >
      >- President Robert Mugabe blames corruption and mismanagement at NOCZIM for
      >fuel shortages across the country.
      >
      >- The IMF says it will not resume its budgetary support programme to
      >Zimbabwe until the government adheres to economic reforms to kick-start
      >economic growth and reduce poverty levels. The announcement follows a
      >week-long visit to the country by a Washington-based team of the Fund.
      >
      >March
      >
      >- South Africa's state-owned oil company, SASOL, announces that it is to
      >provide Zimbabwe with 550,000 mt of fuel to meet the country's diesel,
      >petrol and aircraft fuel requirements. A SASOL spokesman said the company
      >would meet 35 percent of Zimbabwe's requirements through its main refinery
      >near Johannesburg.
      >
      >- Zimbabwe, like other southern African countries, suffers devastation from
      >floods caused by tropical storms in February and March. The most affected
      >areas are in the southern and eastern provinces of the country.
      >
      >- The Commercial Farmers Union reports damage to coffee crops, and the
      >Cotton Producers Association says up to 28,000 hectares, worth some US $3.75
      >million, of this year's crop may be destroyed.
      >
      >- The UN estimates that 96,000 people are in need of immediate assistance,
      >and that 20,000 of these have lost their homes. Some 500,000 people are
      >less directly affected.
      >
      >- According to the UN, an additional 100 or more families are left homeless
      >in Chirumhanzu district in the Midlands province, where about 1,000 families
      >are affected. In Manicaland, 45 persons are confirmed dead, and an estimated
      >3,000 people left homeless.
      >
      >- NANGO, an umbrella organisation for local NGOs, identifies the
      >rehabilitation of homes, clinics, schools and sanitation facilities as the
      >highest priorities.
      >
      >- The police do not intervene against farm squatters despite a court order
      >that they be evicted. Mugabe reiterates that he will not take action against
      >the veterans.
      >
      >April
      >
      >- As the land dispute grows, over 900 white-owned farms are occupied. In the
      >most serious incident since government supporters began invading the farms a
      >policeman is shot and killed, apparently by occupiers, at a farm in
      >Marondera.
      >
      >[ENDS]
      >
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      >e-mail: irin-sa@...
      >
      >
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      >
      >Copyright (c) UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs 2000
      >
      >
      >Subscriber: kcheney@...
      >Keyword: Uganda
      >
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