Page last updated at 18:57 GMT, Wednesday, 10 February 2010

The polarised lives of Zimbabwe's rich and poor

Sue Lloyd-Roberts visits Philip Chiyangwa, the millionaire businessman nephew of Robert Mugabe, at his opulent Zimbabwe home full of deluxe cars

By Sue Lloyd-Roberts
BBC Newsnight, Zimbabwe

Thursday marks the first anniversary of Zimbabwe's so-called "inclusive government".

It has been a year since President Robert Mugabe swore in his former political rival, Morgan Tsvangirai, as Prime Minister and the two agreed to a series of conditions enshrined in the Global Political Agreement and to work on a new constitution which would pave the way to free and fair elections.

Watch Newsnight's Zimbabwe film in full

So what has been achieved?

"The inclusive government has bought peace and there is food in the shops," Julius, a 35-year-old teacher said. "Anytime you get a dollar, you can rest assured that you will find something to buy."

The problem is getting a dollar. Teachers like Julius will mark the anniversary by going on strike this week.

He said he welcomes the fact that the coalition government has restored peace to the country, but complained that he still cannot feed his family.

Julius takes homes $150 (£96) a month. Over $100 goes on renting two rooms in a house, which leaves him with a little more than a dollar a day to spend on food.

Reminder of past pain

We followed him to the supermarket where the shelves were stocked high. He bought one loaf of white bread - "our weekly treat" he explained - and then walked outside to a market stall to purchase his family's more regular fare - 1kg (2lb) of potatoes.

When she was born, we had no food at all. She went for hours without food. She is three years old but looks like a two-year-old.
Julius, teacher talking about his daughter

He took us home to meet his wife and two daughters.

"Of course, things are better than they were," he said, pointing to his younger daughter. "When she was born, we had no food at all. She went for hours without food. She is three years old but looks like a two-year-old.

"I feel like crying every time I look at my daughter - it reminds me of the history I don't want to remember," he said.

He is right. Things were a lot worse.

I have travelled to Zimbabwe regularly over the last tumultuous decade and, if I were to write a report card at the end of this, the first year of the inclusive government, it would read: "A good start, could do better, but with a very uncertain future."

Mass rallies

The timetable for political reform has slipped badly.

Morgan Tsvangirai and Robert Mugabe
It is a year since Zimbabwe's former political rivals struck a deal

Only the former opposition party, the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), have been holding outreach meetings with their supporters to discuss a new constitution, which is meant to pave the way for free and fair elections.

These meetings should have been concluded last November.

At a rowdy, dancing and singing MDC gathering two hours' drive east of Harare which I went to, people were celebrating that they are able to meet at all.

"It was horrible before," Susan, a local party organiser, said. "Zanu PF thugs would come and beat people. Now, we thank God that we can move freely and meet together."

The meeting was addressed by the MDC deputy Prime Minister, Thokozani Khupe.

To cheers, she told the crowds that her party wants to restore political power to the prime minister and to parliament.

Zanu-PF are not holding mass, outreach meetings.

Asset control

Back in Harare I found Paul Mangwana, Zanu-PF's constitutional expert, at his legal practice putting finishing touches to what his party believe should be the shape of the new constitution - to put the power firmly in the hands of the one executive authority because of Zimbabwe's wealth.

An armed guard at teh gates of a farm in Chegutu, file image
Four thousand white commercial farmers have had farms seized

"We have a rich inheritance - nickel, platinum, diamonds - every mineral known in the world," he said. "We need to concentrate power in one, strong individual to safeguard those resources and protect them from being taken by foreigners."

Indigenisation is the key to the Zanu-PF political philosophy, a philosophy which would appear to exclude white Zimbabweans.

Four thousand white commercial farmers have now had their farms confiscated and given to black farmers, many of whom are supporters of Mr Mugabe.

A diamond mine has been taken from its white Zimbabwean owner and is being operated by a government-owned company, protected by soldiers.

From 1 March, any company operating in Zimbabwe must ensure that the majority of shareholders are indigenous Zimbabweans.

Luxury lifestyle

My "minder" at the Ministry of Information was very keen that I should meet someone he believes is a model of a successful businessman in Zimbabwe today.

Philip Chiyangwa, Mr Mugabe's nephew, bought several companies at a time when high inflation, price controls and shrinking demand made it difficult for them to operate in Zimbabwe.

Now a millionaire, he displays the full list in his "Native Investments" portfolio on full-length wall charts.

It encompasses everything from luxury hotels, foodstuffs to the window frame company he says he bought from Roland "Tiny" Rowlands.

It is a gift from God. It is a blessing from God. I know people are hungry and we are very grateful for what has been done for us.
Elizabeth Chiyangwa
Married to President Mugabe's nephew

He is optimistic about Zimbabwe's future: "It is in our hands to take the country wherever it needs to go. Look at me - I have never left Zim for any other country, I don't intend to leave this country, I am doing business here and I am successful here.

"If I want to buy a jet tomorrow, I will do it here. If I want to buy a Rolls Royce, I have one. If I want to drive a Bentley then I have one. If it's a beautiful mansion house, I bought one. I built it myself," he said.

Mr Chiyangwa invited me to visit the 35-room mansion where his wife, Elizabeth, showed me around the family car collection - her husband's Rolls Royce and Bentley, her Mercedes and their daughter's sports cars.

I asked her whether she feels comfortable with such wealth when people in her country are starving.

"It is a gift from God," she replied, "it is a blessing from God. I know people are hungry and we are very grateful for what has been done for us".

As Julius puts his children to bed that night, after another meal of potatoes, he could be forgiven for wondering whether it is not his turn, and the turn of millions like him in Zimbabwe, to receive such gifts and blessings.

Watch Sue Lloyd-Roberts' full report on Newsnight at 10.30pm on Wednesday 10 February 2010 on BBC Two, then afterwards on the BBC iPlayer and Newsnight website.



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