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Confronting Economic Hardship in Zimbabwe; Did Protests at Racism Conference Have Any Effect? African Fashion Comes Into Focus

Aired September 8, 2001 - 12:00:00   ET


JIM CLANCY, HOST: This week on INSIDE AFRICA, confronting economic hardship in Zimbabwe, as commonwealth ministers reach a possible deal to resolve the land crisis. They came to the racism conference to be heard, but in the end, did the pleas and protests from the streets make any difference. Plus, a walk down the runway. Exciting designs make a statement of their own, as African fashion comes into focus.

Hello and welcome. I'm Jim Clancy. This is another edition of INSIDE AFRICA, our weekly look at news and life on the Continent.

Our cover story this week, Zimbabwe. After a year of violent farm invasion and bitter recriminations, a compromise has appeared that could signal an end to the crisis. The government promises to abide by a deal brokered by Nigeria at a commonwealth meeting in Abuja. Under the pact, Britain and other countries will bear the cost of compensating white farmers whose land will be used to resettle black families. In return, the government would act swiftly to put an end to farm occupations by self- styled war veterans.

It comes just days after Zimbabwe accepted a land reform proposal from the mostly white commercial farmers union.


MALCOLM VOWLES, COMMERCIAL FARMERS UNION: We don't believe that this step is going to be a switch that turns it all off. But we do believe that it's going to be the beginning of a positive process, where government and farmers can work together on a basis of consent and bring more rationality into the program.


CLANCY: The other side, from Vice President Joseph Msika, who heads the government's land reform program.


JOSEPH: We are not a racist country. We are not going to pursue a policy of rancor and recrimination, vendettaing from what happened in the past during the colonial days. We want to live together peacefully.


CLANCY: Opposition leader Morgan Changura (ph) cautions the deal still faces crucial tests ahead. Whatever happens, experts say the country is already paying the price for a year of instability. The economy is churning under the weight of inflation, now estimated at almost 75 percent.

Once a major exporter of food, Zimbabwe must now rely on its neighbors to fill empty shelves in food stores.

Jeff Koinange is in the capital, Harare.


JEFF KOINANGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Zimbabweans are paying more for less these days, due mainly to low yields brought about by farm invasions during the planting season. Prices of once essential commodities like meat and bread have doubled and even quadrupled, leaving many digging deeper into their pockets.

The biggest stumbling block? The constant devaluation of the Zimbabwe dollar. At the official rate, it sells at 55 to the U.S. dollar. Unofficially, it's more than 300 to 1, driving market prices literally through the roof.

(on camera): Corn or maize is Zimbabwe's staple crop. Less than three months ago, the price of one of these used to cost 20 U.S. cents at the official exchange rate. Today, it's more than doubled.

(voice-over): Zimbabweans are worried they could be facing the worst economic crisis since independence over two decades ago.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The prices are going high. The fuel is going high. So people are not managing to reach their needs.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Things are just going from bad to worse.

KOINANGE: And farmers, too, are getting worried. Manuel Jardine's family farms mostly vegetables for the local market on this 200 acre farm just outside Harare. He says his country's future looks bleak, at best.

MANUEL JARDINE: Yes, I think it's going to get a lot worse. I think this is just the tip now, iceberg. To even put price controls in, but -- one of the two. You're either are going to have no product to sell, people won't go to buy anything, or you're going to have very expensive products. And people can't buy them anyways. So it's a no-win situation at the moment.

KOINANGE: The country's leadership admits there are problems, but blames outside forces for the country's woes. And even though there seems no end in sight to the hardships, some are quick to offer solutions to the country's impending crisis.

MBAYO MBWEZA, MAIZE SELLER: Because the invaders, if they are out from where they are now, this life can be better for us.

KOINANGE: Meanwhile, back on his farm, Manuel Jardine says if market forces don't improve, people might be forced to take matters into their hands.

JARDINE: I think definitely there will be food drives, because products will come out of -- be out of people's reach.

KOINANGE: A view downplayed by the government.

JONATHAN MOYO, PROFESSOR: The doom and gloom stories have become part and parcel of the media's coverage of Zimbabwe. I think that we are over the worst. Certainly, we know that the people are spending sleepless nights to try and make them worse before the presidential elections. In fact, it is their own campaign ploy.

They think that if there is a meltdown, which they have been predicting and waiting for as far back as 1996, 1997, and it is not happening, and it will not happen.

KOINANGE: At the end of the day, it boils down to a question of survival. And for a nation whose majority live on less than $1.00 a day, just making it through the day is now more difficult than ever before.

Jeff Koinange, CNN, Chitumba (ph) farm, Zimbabwe.


CLANCY: Now for more on the situation in Zimbabwe and the offer of a compromise, you can visit our web site at While there, remember to take part in our quick vote. And then, why not join us for a live online chat session, Wednesday at 15:00 Greenwich Meantime. For that, go to

Well, after a week of acrimonious debate in Durban, delegates to the U.N. Racism Conference are on their way home. So are thousands of protesters who were there to push for action on some of the most contentious issues, ranging from the Middle East conflict to the legacy of slavery and colonialism.

But did their presence there really make any difference?

For an answer, we turn to Charlayne Hunter-Gault -- Charlayne.

CHARLAYNE HUNTER-GAULT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Jim, it's been a long and difficult road to Durban, with many pitfalls along the way. Then, just eight days to try and work out the difficulties and forge consensus on how to bring relief and hope to the damaged and despised peoples of the world.


(voice-over): As you could expect, with so many different voices, conflict over a range of issues. Some South Africans complained that the conference was detracting from bread and butter issues at home, poverty and despair arising from the discrimination against blacks, from South Africa's recent apartheid past.

Most of you are unemployed?


HUNTER-GAULT: Have no jobs.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We don't mind the racism conference here in South Africa because the racism is still led by their strategy capitalism.

HUNTER-GAULT: But despite the noise that threatened to drown out any rational debate on the issues, delegates say this was a conference whose time had come.

REBECCA LOLOGOLI, KENYAN NGO DELEGATE: I can help because we want to form a network of indigenous people, so that we can see how we can fight for our rights.

V.E. PLUMMER, DECEMBER 12TH MOVEMENT: This is the first time that the transatlantic slave trade and reparations has been put on the international agenda. Post Durban for us is the organizing of what we're calling millions for reparations.

HUNTER-GAULT (on camera): But what are people feeling and experiencing outside the tightly secured forums of controversy and debate at the U.N. Conference against Racism? We came here to the University of Natal, to get a sample.

It's a campus mirroring South African realities. It's colonial and apartheid past. It's current divisions. It's still unsteady steps towards transformation.

JOHN HERON, STUDENT: Affirmative action stuff I think has probably more -- causing a problem, rather than solving it.

BERENICE THAYER, STUDENT: I think Affirmation Action is a good thing because in order to balance the playing fields for all and to bring about a situation whereby there is equality for all and fear and hatred is put away.

HUNTER-GAULT (voice-over): And can hatred, anger and discrimination be overcome?

HERON: I think there's always going to be racism on one level or another, you know?

KATE SPORG, STUDENT: You get used to each other's differences maybe. Like maybe we just got thrown together too soon and it's too different.

THAYER: Each one of us can be overcome. And by virtue of the fact that South Africa's overcome apartheid, anything is possible. And you just have to be positive.

HUNTER-GAULT: Does the racism conference matter?

ISMAEL LAHER, STUDENT: Are they going to tell somebody, you know, you can't call someone a certain name or you can't do this or this is against the law, because you're going to have a document written up and then take no action on it.

HUNTER-GAULT: This 20-year-old law student agrees, but says attending the conference was life changing.

JOY MAHLABZO, STUDENT: So if we start from the small level at the university as the community which we know, then it'll be easier for us to move up to the broader levels. I think so.

HUNTER-GAULT: And you've been re-energized by this?

MAHLAZBO: I have been very. It just gives me this -- it gives me a positive outlook.


HUNTER-GAULT: And Jim, that's an answer I've heard over and over again, as delegates prepare to leave this conference, going back to their homes in South Africa, the rest of the Continent and the rest of the world.

In fact, their spirit reminded me of the days of the civil rights movement in America, when students protesting in the streets used to sing an old spiritual. "Ain't going to let nobody turn me 'round" -- Jim.

CLANCY: OK, Charlayne, thanks for that report. Well, it's time for us to take a break here. But there's much more to come.

When we return, we're going to take you to some of the favorite vacation spots of African celebrities.


CLANCY: Welcome back. Well, after a week of intense deliberations in Durban, maybe some of the world leaders need a rest. Our Femi Oke is here to help show them some great vacation sports on the continent -- Femi.

FEMI OKE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: This week, I am on assignment. So what lush, tropical African country have I been sent to? Well, actually, I'm just around the corner at the studio at the Atlanta Botanical Garden. But it is the perfect setting for my report. So sit back and relax because we are going on holiday.


(voice-over): Africa is beautiful, but its size makes choosing a travel destination daunting, but not if you have a little celebrity guidance. Cape Town, the most popular place we go in Africa is also the favorite retreat of Archbishop Desmond Tutu.

DESMOND TUTU, ARCHIBISHOP: Cape Town is beautiful. You don't have too many places in the world where you have two oceans. You have the Indian Ocean and the Atlantic Ocean meeting. And they meet at the Cape Point. And there we are at the tip of the continent. And we can be banging the middle of civilization. And in the next moment, you are way away in the wilds. Beautiful.

OKE: Silence and political upheaval in the Democratic Republic of Congo might keep it off your list of holiday destinations. But basketball giant was brought in Kinshasa. As far as he's concerned, there really is no place like home.

DIKEMBE MUTOMBO, BASKETBALL PLAYER: I think in Kenshasa, I will like anyone who visits my city where I was born and raised to go to Mountonge (ph). And Mountonge (ph) is one of the popular sites in the city of Kinshasa. It's well known around the world. It's very attractive and there's a lot of music, a lot of culture.

OKE: But the politics there are turbulent. So check with your embassy before booking a ticket.

Next up, the Indian Ocean and the tropical island of Mauritius. The master trumpet player, Hugh Masakela, Mauritius is a place where he can unwind and be pampered.

HUGH MASAKELA, MUSICIAN: And everybody asks you where you're from, how are you, are you happy? And there's no pressure, you know. And then, the food is wonderful. The people on the island are wonderful. Some great restaurants. The water is there. They're warmer than some baths.

OKE: More than 26 million people visited Africa in the past 12 months, proving that the Continent draws ordinary tourists, as well as celebrities.

(on camera): And finally, a CNN exclusive. Jim Clancy's holiday photographs. Now he is still regaling us with tales of his recent trip to Egypt, but it is a beautiful place to visit at any time of year. And it's nice and cool between November and March if you don't like the heat.

So here we have the little Clancys riding a camel, the little Clancys seeing hieroglyphics. Where's big Jim? Well, for once, he's actually behind the camera.

That's it for me. Back to Jim. Good pictures, Jim.


CLANCY: Well, thanks, Femi. And that's where I'm supposed to be is behind the camera on vacation.

Moving on, let's turn to Zain Verjee now and get the latest in African business news -- Zain.


We begin with mixed news for the coffee industry in Zambia. The Coffee Growers' Association reports a 50 percent increase in production. But the association says there's a need to improve the quality of its products. It's encouraging farmers to hire more experts to advise on the use of fertilizers, pesticides and other quality-enhancing methods.

Onto Nigeria now, where operations at several petrol stations were nearly paralyzed during the week. Employees of Mobil Nigeria Limited went on strike, demanding better pay and improved working conditions.

In Eritrea, the government is spending millions of dollars to repair a major power plant. As Gladyson Jeroge (ph) reports, when completed, the plant could compensate for a shortfall in the country's power supply.


GLADYSON JEROGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Workers repaired damaged caused when its European jets bombed this Eritrean power plant a week before the war ended. The repairs are costing tens of millions of U.S. dollars extra in international funding.

TEKLE HEDRU, ERITREA ELECTRIC AUTHORITY: For Eritrea, this is the biggest power plant. And it is going to supply almost three-quarters of the country.

JEROGE: Power generated here will triple the country's power supply.

HEDRU: It is a big change because at this time, we have a shortage of power. But when this power plant is finished, there will not be shortage of power.

JEROGE: The plant will power the Eritrean capital and other towns, including some near the border with Ethiopia. Though Eritrea's unlikely to be able to cash in on part exports to Ethiopia until the two nations are on better terms.

Gladyson Jeroge for INSIDE AFRICA.


VERJEE: Time now to check the markets.

I'm Zain Verjee and those are your African business headlines. Jim now, it's back to you.

CLANCY: Thanks, Zain.

Well for more than a decade, Uganda, hailed by Western leaders as a symbol of democracy in East Africa, but a leading opposition politician who has fled the country is questioning that assertion.

Jonathan Mann takes a look at a fresh fallout from the country's last presidential election.


JONATHAN MANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Dr. Kizza Besigye was a long-time ally of President Museveni, serving as the president's national political commissioner. But differences between the two led Besigye to challenge Musevni in the last presidential election. The campaign was often acrimonious.

YOWEIR MUSEVENI, UGANDAN PRESIDENT: In the service, he was treacherous because he was telling lies all the time.

MANN: Now Dr. Besigye has fled Uganda, saying he fears for his safety. Besigye claims he was unduly harassed, twice kept from leaving the country without explanation. He alleges that he was stopped along the road outside the capital, Kampala, by men in military uniforms, and believes that if a reporter hadn't been there, he would have been kidnapped.

Finally, he says, he got hold of information that orders had been issued for his arrest.

KIZZA BESIGYE, OPPOSITION LEADER: I was not charged in any law -- in any court of law. And my rights were not restricted in accordance with the law. They were obliterated and legally removed from me by the state.

MANN: Ugandan ambassador to Washington, Ssempala, says Besigye was under legitimate investigation because the government suspects him of supporting insurgent activities. The ambassador also alleges that his supporters were believed to be behind a string of bombings after the March presidential election.

EDITH SSEMPALA, UGANDAN AMBASSADOR TO U.S.: He was informed why he was not allowed to leave the country, precisely because he had to answer these questions, because they are his supporters. Now at home, he was really -- he was going around his business as usual.

MANN: But the medical doctor turned presidential contender charges that the government abused its power in order to silence an outspoken critic.

BESIGYE: And the investigation by itself would not have caused me to worry. What causes me to worry is when the government, which is supposed to take a responsibility for my safety and which is supposed to safeguard my rights, today violates those rights.

MANN: Right now, it's the word of the government against the word of the opposition.

In Uganda, multi-party politics is banned. Candidates vie for positions under a one party movement system. And critics say, that makes it difficult to know how much voice an opposition politician like Besigye can truly muster.

Jonathan Mann, CNN.


CLANCY: There's more still ahead on INSIDE AFRICA. A trip down the catwalk in Johannesburg, as we reveal some of the latest fashions from the continent.


CLANCY: Well, how are we looking so far? We know they're looking good in South Africa. A recent fashion week there sent the design world a clear message that African couture has come of age.

Paul Tilsley takes us down the runway.


PAUL TILSLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The crowd surging in know an African secret.

EPHRAIM MOLINGOANA, STYLIST: I go to Europe and everyone says, "Wow, where did you get this?" I say, (UNINTELLIGIBLE) and only if Americans make them."

TILSLEY: He's talking about African clothes. And while some European designers dream of making people on the continent fashionable, most participants say they don't need their help.

EMIR, MODEL: How are you doing? My name is Emir and I'm here at Fashion Week at South Africa. And I love it so much to where I've adapted ramhorns for the -- feel the rocks (ph). Love you. Enjoy.

TILSLEY: Analysts say South African fashions will catch on overseas. This year, they say designers are copying overseas ideas less. And with unique African creativity, have started to export.

LUCILLA BOOYSEN, ORGANIZER: I think that there's a great place in the world for South African fashion. I think the world is very interested in South African fashion. And I think locally, we are ready to burst.

BONGA BHENGU, DESIGNER: I'm paid to be a South African translator. So people there can come to South Africa to look for fashion, not come to South Africa to sell their clothes.

TILSLEY: Bonga Bhengu typifies the brave new spirit showing in Santlan (ph). In his Durban township, he couldn't find the clothes he liked. So he started to make them. Clothes or bags? You decide.

BHENGU: I like dance fashion because people like (UNINTELLIGIBLE), who go out a lot, they need to carry their jacket all over. But if you put it as a bag, nobody realizes you're wearing your jacket around. It is, I think, a bag.

TILSLEY: David West's clothes are already exhibiting in London. And several U.S. department stores have shown major interest.

DAVID WEST, DESIGNER: I don't see myself as a product of Africa. I see myself as a person of the world.

RAHIM, DESIGNER: To be a designer, it's unlike any other profession that I know. I mean, you can continue, it's stitched into the DNA of your make-up. And that's basically it.

TILSLEY: Rahim's got a problem many designers wish for, all his Johannesberg produced clothes are exported. And he's showing at SA Fashion Week to try to break into the local market.

RAHIM: The whole thing is that I love what I'm doing. If I would just carrying on doing what I'm doing and make some money out of it, that'd be great.

TILSLEY: And there's the point. So far, export sales are small. But South Africa is also growing as a center for top black models, like Nigeria's Fummi.

FUMMI, MODEL: You've got a lot of models from Paris, from Germany. They all come out here for seasons and (UNINTELLIGIBLE) fashion shows.

TILSLEY (on camera): First, it was the models. Now it's the designers. The world is beginning to spin to the beat of African fashion.

(voice-over): The biggest spinning smash hit of the week for many was Marianne Fasteler's heroes and angels. While talk of racism boomed from Durban, at the Santon Convention Center, little boys and girls of all colors proved that they can live together, happily ever after.

Paul Tilsley for INSIDE AFRICA, Johannesberg.


CLANCY: Well, that one model looked a little nervous, didn't he, coming down the runway? Paul Tisley, thanks for that report. I liked the suit that the guy wrapped out of the handbag. That was good.

Tell us what you like or what you don't like. The INSIDE AFRICA team does want to hear from you. Send us your comments at Your response may be used on a future broadcast.

That's all we have for this week's show. We're glad that you joined us. And we leave you now with the sounds and the words of the queen of African music, Marianne McCaba (ph), performing this week during the U.N. Conference on Racism.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: All artists that are conscious of the things that happen in society can contribute, and they have contributed in a very positive manner. Many people come to hear an artist. And they will listen more than they have to listen to a politician.





4:30pm ET, 4/16

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