The Michigan Daily - Thursday, September 16, 2004 - 5A
Vibrant African country
suffers under harsh gov't.
HARARE, Zimbabwe (AP) -
Things have gotten so bad in Zimba-
bwe that people have taken to telling
a wry joke: "What did we have before
candles?" The answer: "Electricity."
Zimbabwe once boasted one of Sub-
Saharan Africa's most vibrant economies,
but four years of turmoil have erased that
progress. The agriculture-based economy
has been decimated by the often-violent
seizure of thousands of white-owned
farms for reallocation to black Zimba-
bweans, coupled with erratic rains.
As a result, the country is reverting
to the way it was years ago. Oxen have
taken over plow duty from farm machin-
ery, the state railroad uses gunpowder
charges on the tracks to warn trains of
danger ahead, and the sick have turned
to cheap traditional medicines.
President Robert Mugabe argues
that the land seizures have reversed the
inequality in ownership left over from
British colonial days that put a third of
the country's farmland in the hands of
about 5,000 whites.
But many seized farms went to
Mugabe's cronies and lie fallow. Own-
ership deeds were abolished, denying
most new farmers collateral for loans for
equipment. Tobacco production - once
the country's biggest hard currency
earner - has dropped by nearly 75 per-
cent since the seizures began in 2000.
The economic free-fall has been
marked by regular power blackouts and
acute shortages of fuel, spare parts and
new technology. Soaring inflation and a
shortage of hard currency have made it
impossible to import machinery needed
to rebuild the economy.
Once-fertile farmland now has the
desolate look of a junkyard: Farm
machines that used to rumble through
fields now stand idle, broken down or
plundered for parts.
"Whole irrigation systems are down,
farm equipment is at a standstill or in
a shocking state of repair," said John
Worsely-Worswick, head of a farmers'
A formerly white-owned estate that
produced a fourth of the nation's wheat
has been broken up into small parcels
for black farmers, bringing large-scale
farming to a halt. The property in the
main grain growing area of Chinhoyi,
northwest of Harare, is now mainly
tilled by animal-drawn harrows.
In an unusual admission of econom-
ic weakness, the government recently
estimated that at least 35,000 new trac-
tors are needed to revive mechanized
agriculture, which began when the first
tractor was imported in 1911. Foreign
investors and aid groups have withheld
support because of alleged government
corruption and human rights violations.
With signals functioning on just 12
miles of a 190-mile stretch of track, the
state-owned National Railways of Zim-
babwe has reverted to posting hand-
written cards at sidings and stations to
advise crews about train movements.
Crews use signboards or small
gunpowder charges detonated by an
oncoming train's front wheels to warn
of blockages ahead.
A plan to reintroduce steam trains
on some routes was abandoned earlier
this year because costly and impractical
repairs were needed at water pumping
points. The independent Southern Afri-
can Railways Association has described
Zimbabwe's broken railway system as
lagging at least 50 years behind pres-
Faced with a shortage of ambulances
in the crumbling national health sys-
tem, nine wooden carts hauled by oxen
went into service in July to ferry preg-
nant women, children and other non-
emergency cases along rural dirt roads
to the nearest clinics.
Tendai Chisvo, left, and Kudakwashe Chanza, right, who are newly resettled farmers, use an ox-drawn plough to
prepare their land ahead of the rainy season in Marondera, Zimbabwe, this summer. The country is resorting to
decades-old techniques to cope with an economic free-fall.
Leader of Pakistan backs
out of pledge to st
ISLAMABAD, Pakistan (AP) - 11 attacks in the United States, helping
Pakistani leader Pervez Musharraf win Musharraf billions of dollars in aid
backed out of a pledge to step down as from Washington.
army chief, slamming the door yester- The crackdown has led in recent
day on this key Washington ally's slow months to several major arrests, includ-
progress toward democracy five years ing that of a Tanzanian wanted in the
after his bloodless 1998 bombings of
coup. . U.S. embassies in
Information (M usharraf is a Africa and a Paki-
Minister Sheikh . stani computer
Rashid Ahmed said dictator. expert whose cap-
Musharraf made ture led to terror
the decision in the - Sadique al-Farooq warnings in the
best interest of the United States and
nation, but the move Spokesman for former Britain.
was denounced by Prime Minister Nawaz When asked why
form),' " he said.
Yesterday, the opposition accused
Musharraf of lying to the nation.
"He is a dictator," said Sadique al-
Farooq, a spokesman for the party of for-
mer Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, who
was ousted in the coup. "His claim that
he is a man of his word who fulfills his
promises has proven false. He has vio-
lated the solemn pledge he has made with
Musharraf survived two attempts on
his life in December in Rawalpindi, a
city adjacent to the capital that is the
headquarters of Pakistan's army and
from which Musharraf commuted to
his presidential offices.
He announced this month he was
moving the army headquarters to
Islamabad, an indication to many he
was not expecting to leave either post
any time soon.
There was no immediate reaction
to Musharraf's decision by the inter-
national community, but it was sure to
lead to concern that Pakistan's slow and
bumpy road back to democracy follow-
ing the coup has all but ended.
The decision comes just one day after
a visiting senior U.S. State Department
official stressed the importance of
democracy in Pakistan.
the opposition as
further evidence the
general is not genuinely committed to
restoring civilian rule.
"The president will keep both the
posts. The national situation demands
that he keeps the two offices," Ahmed
told The Associated Press.
Pakistan is engaged in a fierce fight
against al-Qaida militants, much of it in
a rugged no man's land near Afghani-
stan where Osama bin Laden and other
key terror leaders are believed to be
More than 550 al-Qaida suspects
have been arrested here since the Sept.
going back on his
promise to quit as army chief, Ahmed
said: "The situation has changed."
The decision comes after weeks of
speculation, some fueled by Musharraf
himself, that he was considering back-
ing out of an agreement he reached in
December with a hard-line Islamic
political bloc to give up his army post.
Musharraf, who took power in a
bloodless coup in 1999, said earlier this
month he felt most Pakistanis wanted
him to retain both positions.
"Ninety-six percent (of people) will
say, 'Do not remove (the army uni-
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