MDC blasts Mbeki Dumisani Muleya THE row between
South African President Thabo Mbeki and the Movement for Democratic Change
(MDC) over the Zimbabwe crisis deepened yesterday as the opposition accused
Mbeki of propping up President Robert Mugabe's embattled regime.
MDC said Mbeki and his ruling African National Congress (ANC) had squandered
a glorious opportunity to make a positive difference in Zimbabwe by opting
instead to be Zanu PF's unreserved apologists, backers and
MDC secretary-general Welshman Ncube said the South
Africans were engaged in a charade which they marketed all over the world as
"quiet diplomacy" when in fact it was a "package of lies and
"For some strange reason South Africans seem to think we
are all morons and we can't see what they are doing," Ncube said. "But we
can see they are engaged in a game of pretence. It's either they are
pathetically unable to influence Zanu PF or it's all a great deal of
Ncube said his party decided to dump Mbeki as a mediator
in failed talks with Zanu PF because it had overwhelming evidence his ANC
government supported Mugabe's regime.
He said the MDC had
repeatedly raised concerns about South Africa's impartiality but nothing had
Instead, Ncube said, South Africa had stepped up its support
for Zanu PF, giving it "money and tactical advice" before last month's
disputed general election.
"We won't talk to the South Africans
as if they are mediators because we have realised they are funding Zanu PF
and engaged it in strategies on how to win a two-thirds majority," Ncube
"The ANC held several meetings with Zanu PF from June last year
until before the election. It also seconded some strategists to help it
prepare for the election. It's public knowledge they gave Zanu PF some
Ncube said Zanu PF also printed election material for the ANC
before last year's general election in South Africa that secured Mbeki a
second term in office.
"Zanu PF printed the posters at some
company here in Harare and we went to see them. I had some of them here in
my house. I spoke to (South African ambassador to Harare Jeremiah) Ndou
about it," he said.
"They were delivered in trucks and Simon Khaya
Moyo (Zimbabwe's ambassador to South Africa) came to collect them. We know
the ANC is supporting Zanu PF and we have no problems with that but we also
want everybody to know they can't be mediators while doing
Ncube said Mbeki spoke to MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai on the
telephone after the disputed election result asking for evidence of rigging
but his cabinet went on to "allege the election was credible".
said South Africa showed its true colours during the election when it
instructed all ANC observers to "see, hear and speak no
Ncube said South African election observers in the Southern
African Development Community (Sadc) mission "even had the temerity to
intimidate other observers to the point of terrorising them to support their
"We spoke to other Sadc observers and their governments and
leaders and they all confirmed South African observers intimidated them to
support their views," he said.
"Observers with dissenting views
suffered severe intimidation. So why should we treat such kind of people as
Meanwhile, ANC spokesman Smuts Ngonyama yesterday said
the MDC was entitled to its views but remained an important partner in the
resolution of the Zimbabwe question.
He denied the ANC supported
Zanu PF "tactically and materially" because "we have no money to give Zanu
PF or anyone".
"The position that the MDC takes is their choice and
right. If they are angry with the ANC they have the right to do so but it's
also important to remember there is tomorrow to take care of," he
"The ANC will continue to play a role in the Zimbabwe issue and
we believe the MDC are an important player in all this."
spokesman Bheki Khumalo said he would not comment because the MDC had not
communicated with his office officially.
Gono pleads for bankers' support Shakeman Mugari AS
the economy remains firmly stuck in a quagmire, RBZ governor Gideon Gono
last week pleaded with bankers to help him solve the current crisis. Gono
made the plea at a meeting with bank executives last week. He implored the
bankers to assist him tackle economic problems that are refusing to go away
despite political claims of an economic turnaround.
It was Gono's
first major climb-down in his hardline crusade against bankers whom he has
accused of fuelling inflation and the black market.
His retreat came
two days before Time Bank directors had their externalisation charges
dropped before plea at the instance of the state.
Six bankers fled
the country last year to escape government's
while others were arrested and face fraud charges. Gono was largely seen as
the main sponsor of the arrests which are yet to secure a
"He said he needed our help to revive the economy and
invited us to make submissions on what we wanted addressed in the economy
and the financial sector in particular," said a bank executive who attended
the meeting last Thursday. "He sounded conciliatory as he recounted how
things have not really worked according to his plan. This time, he was soft
as compared to previous meetings where he would lecture us on what he wanted
to do and how he was going to do it.
"He was mellow in his
approach and for first time since his appointment he told us that he needed
our help to put the economy back on track. He also backtracked on some of
the statistical predictions he made last year," said the
The bankers said Gono admitted government's projected 28%
growth in agriculture was unachievable in the face of drought and cropping
levels since the start of the chaotic land reform.
While Gono had
targeted a year-end inflation rate of between 20-30%, the prevailing
economic crisis had forced him to revise his figures to between 75% and 80%.
The International Monetary Fund last week said Gono's inflation targets were
Revision of the inflation targets points to the
inevitable reality that Gono will have to devalue the Zimbabwean dollar to
narrow the gap between the official and parallel
Although the RBZ has through the controlled auction market
kept the value of the dollar at around $6 000 against the US dollar, the
parallel market has galloped to $17 000. On the official market the fragile
Zimdollar is trading at about $1 200 against the South African rand but the
black market rate is more than $3 000. The dollar has also crashed against
other international currencies like the British pound and the
Gono also said he was contemplating increasing interest rates
to rein in the stock market bubble, the bank executives said. An interest
rate hike would represent a deviation by the Zanu PF government which has in
the past advocated an interest rate cut to support the agricultural
Chaotic land reform spoiled noble idea Augustine
Mukaro ZIMBABWE'S accelerated and often chaotic land reform programme
initiated five years ago spoiled a noble idea to correct imbalances in land
ownership created by the colonial system, a stakeholders' meeting agreed
Stakeholders who attended an African Institute for Agrarian
Studies (AIAS) workshop on land and agrarian-reform reporting in Kadoma last
week said the fast-track approach undermined the initial policy framework
drafted with the participation of various stakeholders, including the donor
Different speakers said the fast-track approach, which was
illegal in many
respects, was not necessary because in reality no one was
opposed to land reform but the methods of achieving the main objective -
equitable land redistribution.
Government's original agrarian
reform policy framework was designed to decongest rural areas, increase
productivity and alleviate poverty while contributing to broad economic
It was also aimed at improving food security and easing
social problems through a vibrant agricultural system and exploitation of
natural resources by balancing access to land with effective
Government defied everybody, including the United Nations
Development Programme (UNDP), which had put forward a systematic land
acquisition plan, and the whole process turned into a frenzy of politically
inspired land seizure campaign.
Government and its agents grabbed
millions of hectares of productive farms and expensive farm equipment which
was either sold for private gain or destroyed during the sometimes violent
Director of the Department of Natural Resources in the
Tourism ministry, Mutsa Chasi, said the uncontrolled land
expropriations opened virgin land in Mashonaland and Midlands provinces to
massive gold panning, pausing a serious threat to the
"There is a conflict of land use systems between
agriculture and mining particularly gold panning and sand abstraction. The
overall effect of gold panning and sand abstraction is destruction of land
resources, water pollution and dam siltation," Chasi said.
most affected by this phenomenon include Mazoe Valley and Kwekwe. Valuable
agricultural land has been commissioned out of production. Reclamation is an
AIAS director, Sam Moyo, said his institution's
research found that the land reform had managed to decongest the country's
rural areas by a mere 10% instead of the government's 50%
Moyo said Mashonaland provinces recorded the highest
improvement and Manicaland the least.
He said 65% of the
resettled farmers were peasants who had invaded farms, while 32% were
urbanites who included Zanu PF officials. The remainder were farm
Top ruling party and government officials were, by
government's own admission, multiple farm owners.
Chidziva, a researcher with AIAS, said deviation from the initial policy
framework was compounded by government's series of self-serving legislative
measures secured through amendments to the Land Acquisition Act. The Act was
amended a record 10 times in five years.
Chidziva, a lawyer, said the
amendments were a result of frustration with Britain's refusal to honour its
obligations at Lancaster House to fund the land reform.
the problem was that the agreement was not written down and thus not
obligatory to successive British governments to uphold.
said some of the amendments, such as the Rural Land Occupiers (Protection
from Eviction) Act (2001), meant to protect invaders who had moved into
commercial farms in anticipation of being resettled, were
"The Act was passed in response to court actions
by commercial farmers who sought the eviction of the occupiers," Chidziva
said. "The Act later on worked against government when it decided to move to
properly resettle people. Settlers used the same law to resisted evictions
from the farms they had invaded and got protection under the same
Chidziva said settlers at Little England Farm got a court order
preventing government from moving them to pave way for A2 farmers who had
been officially allocated that land.
The stakeholders also said
the land reform programme failed to empower the ordinary peasant but instead
degenerated into a class struggle with the rich elite grabbing vast
stretches of fertile land.
On food security, the land reform has
achieved the reverse of what it sought to do, resulting in Zimbabwe
launching a record three humanitarian assistance appeals in the past five
Production of tobacco, formerly the country's third foreign
currency earner, plunged 200 million kilogrammes in the year 2000 to about
60 million kg expected this year.
Maize production plummeted from
more than 2,3 million tonnes to less than 400 000 that were produced last
year. The country was reduced from a regional exporter to a major food
The national beef herd dropped from over four million
animals to the current less than 100 000.
African observers in fallout over Zim polls By Steven
Gruzd THERE is ongoing disagreement about the role played by African
countries in sanctioning Zanu PF's landslide victory in Zimbabwe's
parliamentary election on March 31.
Delegations from the South
African government, ruling African National Congress, parliament and
Southern African Development Community (Sadc) all said the poll reflected
"the will of the people", contradicting local Zimbabwean observers and
foreign press who considered the election deeply flawed.
African President Thabo Mbeki says the global media had prejudged the
election; critics say Pretoria deliberately set out to legitimise a Zanu PF
While less violence erupted than in past elections,
allegations of systematic rigging soon surfaced. The opposition Movement for
Democratic Change (MDC) charges that 250 000 more votes appeared between the
polls closing and the final result 48 hours later.
roll may have contained over two million dead, relocated or fictitious
voters. Millions of expatriates were disenfranchised. Over 130 000 potential
voters (about 10% of total voters) were turned away in six provinces.
Observers had limited oversight of ballot counting.
allowed the MDC token coverage, having demonised them for six years.
Constituencies were carved up anew to boost the number of rural seats and
dilute the opposition's urban dominance. NGO voter education campaigns were
banned. Rural voters feared casting ballots for the opposition, and the only
foreign observer teams came from countries friendly to
Last August, Sadc countries agreed on election guidelines
that, among other things, called for freedom of association, political
tolerance, judicial independence, equal access to state media, impartial
electoral institutions and voter education. Zimbabwe has failed to meet at
least eight of the 10 key standards, raising the question about how this
contest can be called free and fair.
South African government
observers, according to Elinor Sisulu of the Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition,
found these "elections credible on grounds that they would never accept in
Extending Mugabe's term subversive - Moyo Dumisani
Muleya POLITICAL analysts and opposition MPs this week slammed the ruling
Zanu PF's attempt to extend President Robert Mugabe's current term of office
by two years, purportedly to bring together the presidential and
Independent MP Jonathan Moyo, a professor of
politics, described it as "blatantly undemocratic".
an extension of Mugabe's term under whatever circumstances would be a coup
against the constitution.
Mugabe said yesterday in Jakarta that he
would be going as promised in 2008, but a clique of Mugabe loyalists is
reportedly trying to stretch his term by two more years under the pretext of
holding elections concurrently in 2010. The issue is expected to be part of
Zanu PF's legislative agenda during the course of the current
Although Zanu PF failed to win a two-thirds majority in
the March 31 general election, it has a numerical absolute majority achieved
through unelected MPs. Zanu PF won 78 seats out of the 120 contested
constituencies - two seats short of a two-thirds
However, Mugabe appoints 12 non-constituency MPs, eight
provincial governors and his party enjoys the support of 10 chiefs elected
through their own electoral college system. Resident ministers for Harare
and Bulawayo are not MPs but Zanu PF wants to amend the constitution to make
them governors and, thereby, legislators.
Moyo, a former
Information minister and university lecturer in politics, said extending
Mugabe's term was "blatantly undemocratic".
"It would be totally
undemocratic to extend Mugabe's term outside the democratic process via the
backdoor," Moyo said.
"Such an extension through a constitutional
amendment of a fundamentally flawed constitution would be subversive by
definition and a severe attack on that constitution. If it comes to
parliament it would have to be resisted by all constitutional and legal
Moyo said the issue would have to be subjected to a
"In 1999 during the constitutional reform process we
rejected such undemocratic efforts to reduce Mugabe's term by two years to
hold the parliamentary and presidential elections together in 2000," Moyo
"It is scandalous the very same people who benefited from that now
want to extend Mugabe's term for the same reason. Backdoor politics should
be rejected emphatically."
Moyo said instead of increasing
Mugabe's term and "prolonging Zanu PF deadwood to delay the inevitable", the
ruling party should take a leaf from the Roman Catholic church's
"Zanu PF should take a leaf from the Catholic Church which,
despite being one of the most undemocratic and conservative institutions in
the world today, is wise enough to realise that cardinals who are 80 years
and above should neither be eligible for election as Pope nor participate in
the election process," he said.
Mugabe is 81. The new Pope,
Benedict XVI, is 78.
Moyo said it would be meaningless to bring the
two elections together without addressing the structural flaws in the
constitution which does not allow a party that wins the parliamentary
election to form a government.
MDC secretary-general Welshman Ncube, a
professor of law, said extending Mugabe's term would be a "coup against the
"If they do that it would be a coup d'état against the
constitution. In reality Zanu PF has no such a popular mandate because it
did not win a two-thirds majority from the people," Ncube
"They have a numerical two-thirds majority but not a popular
mandate to amend the constitution. After all, they stole the election and
expropriated the people's sovereignty."
Lovemore Madhuku, also a
law lecturer and civic activist, said if Mugabe's term is increased that
would "undermine the people's confidence in the electoral
"It is a good idea to bring the main elections together but
doing so by extending Mugabe's term would be terrible and unacceptable," he
said. "It would undermine the people's confidence in the electoral process.
All these kinds of issues can be addressed through a comprehensive
constitutional reform process."
Govt destabilises ZCTU ahead of ILO conference Ray
Matikinye THE Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) president, Lovemore
Matombo, on Wednesday accused government of working in cahoots with four of
the labour body's affiliates to destabilise the ZCTU ahead of the ILO
conference in June.
"They want to destabilise the ZCTU so that the
Labour minister can proscribe our participation at the labour convention and
deny the union an opportunity to present its dossier on issues that could
embarrass the government," Matombo said.
Convention 87 and 98 that deal with human rights, freedom of assembly and
freedom to organise will be high on the ILO agenda during the June meeting
and Zimbabwe, as a signatory to these conventions, fears embarrassment over
its recent record.
Convention 87 accords trade unions freedom of
assembly and the right to organise. It gives labour bodies in member
countries a right to assembly without hindrance. Convention 98 deals with
the right to organise a trade union without state
"We have a dossier of all the incidents when our
meetings were either disrupted by the police or the CIO which we are going
to present at the conference," Matombo said. "Government fears
embarrassment, hence the attempt to get the current leadership removed and
replaced by a docile leadership.
"Government is sponsoring a
minority among the 34 affiliates to cause confusion and resentment among
other trade unions against the current leadership," Matombo
"We are looking at two unions which are vocal about operations
in the ZCTU and another two affiliates who are undecided whether to take
part in attacks against the ZCTU leadership. Two of the most vocal
affiliates are not fully paid up members yet they are in the forefront of
accusing the leadership of all sorts of misconduct," Matombo
He said most members suspected the belligerent affiliates, the
Construction Workers and Leather Workers unions, were being orchestrated to
cause disturbances after the government-sponsored Zimbabwe Federation of
Trade Unions (ZFTU) failed to dislodge the ZCTU executive.
state media has been conducting a crusade against the ZCTU leadership
comprising Matombo, Wellington Chibebe, Lucia Matibenga, and Tabitha Khumalo
saying it awarded itself salaries without consultation.
Matombo said Langton Mugeji, a member of the labour body's general council,
actually proposed that the ZCTU pay him to cushion his
Matombo was last year suspended by his employers for
attending an Organisation of African Trade Unions conference in Khartoum
without permission and his case is still pending.
thing is a storm in a teacup," Matombo said. "There are wild allegations
that we are conniving with employers to create shortages and that accusation
seems to suggest that these affiliates are being driven by forces other than
their union members," Matombo said.
THE Movement for
Democratic Change's Matabeleland South provincial executive last week sent a
report to the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) detailing what it termed
the politicisation of food by government by denying opposition supporters
access to food in Gwanda district in the run-up to the March parliamentary
The report singled out Andrew Langa, the new deputy Minister of
Environment and Tourism, as the person responsible for the politicisation of
food and enforcing a ban on MDC supporters from buying maize
This week the Zimbabwe Independent spoke to Gwanda executive
mayor Thembinkosi Zinti Mnkandla who confirmed that the opposition has
written to the ZEC outlining some of the unethical practices by Langa in
denying opposition supporters food before the parliamentary
"The MDC leadership last week forwarded the report to the
ZEC and we hope the grievances will be looked at because Langa has been
using food as a political tool in Gwanda and outlying areas," Mnkandla
He said Langa's chief henchman in denying opposition supporters
food was former Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation (ZBC) reporter, Malaki
Nkomo, who is now based in Gwanda.
"We understand that Malaki
Nkomo, a close friend of Langa, is behind the move to bar opposition
supporters from getting food. Government may deny this happened but we
interact with the people who were denied food on political grounds,"
He further said opposition supporters in the area have
been turned away from government food for work schemes.
not the first time that such serious allegations have been raised against
Langa. Before the 2002 Insiza by-election Langa is alleged to have shot at
opposition supporters who were campaigning for the MDC's Malandu
Just before the March parliamentary election this year,
Langa was reported to have told MDC supporters that they would die of hunger
if they did not vote for Zanu PF.
Mugabe sets retirement date Ray Matikinye PRESIDENT
Robert Mugabe has chosen Indonesia as the setting to announce he will retire
in 2008 when his current presidential term ends, ending speculation about
his retirement plans.
Mugabe has over the years skirted the issue of his
retirement only making vague comments about when he would end his hold on
According to Newsnet, Mugabe said he was not grooming any
particular person among his lieutenants to take over when he retires. He
reportedly said he preferred that members of the ruling party choose his
Mugabe is in Indonesia where he is attending the
Mugabe, who has been at the helm since Zimbabwe
attained Independence from Britain 25 years ago, will be 84 in
This is the first time he has emphatically put a date to his
Reports from Jakarta where he is attending the Asia/Africa
Summit with more than 50 other heads of state and government, say Mugabe set
out his retirement plans during an interview with the Jakarta
The announcement ends speculation on a subject viewed by
members of his ruling Zanu PF party as taboo.
But Mugabe has been
inconsistent with his retirement plans, fuelling further speculation that
this could be another of his conflicting signals to expose those who might
dare challenge his authority among factions in his party.
2003, Mugabe hinted at a party annual conference in Masvingo that his
retirement was not open to debate, telling his supporters he would return to
tell them so when he wanted to leave office. "Have I come to you yet, no,"
said Mugabe then.
Last week, there was media speculation that Mugabe
would use the two-thirds majority in parliament to push for constitutional
amendments to extend his term until 2010 when the next general election is
This stemmed from Mugabe's statement that he wanted both the
general and presidential elections to be held
Presidential elections are held every six years and
Mugabe has three more years until his tenure is up in 2008.
asked at a post-election press conference at State House when he would
retire, Mugabe told local and international media that he could retire at
Party spokesperson, Nathan Shamuyarira, however told the
Zimbabwe Independent a fortnight ago, that Mugabe would retire in
The Asia/Africa summit marks the 50th anniversary of the
Bandung meeting in 1955 of Asian and African leaders which led in turn to
the formation of the Non-Aligned Movement.
'Govt has no business in newspapers' - Moyo Dumisani
Muleya FORMER Information minister Jonathan Moyo has said President Robert
Mugabe's decision to resurrect the old Ministry of Information is emblematic
of the country's rapid regression in various areas.
Reacting to the
resuscitation of the ministry which was abolished in 2000 when he came in as
minister in Mugabe's office, Moyo said this was not "reorganisation" as
officials claimed but "disorganisation".
"I'm not aware of any
reorganisation of the Information portfolio but of course I'm aware of the
disorganisation that is going on," Moyo said.
"I was surprised to
hear the Information department has been 'upgraded' to a ministry because to
me that is a backward movement, not elevation."
Moyo's attack against
Zanu PF's "retreat into backward arrangements" came as new Information
minister Tichaona Jokonya prepared to meet editors of all media houses today
in a bid to build bridges after deep polarisation during Moyo's turbulent
Moyo said while he respected Jokonya and his deputy Bright
Matonga, he was afraid they had been thrown into a difficult situation in
which there was "an old-fashioned Information ministry located in a modern
"I have the highest regard for Dr
Jokonya and Matonga but I don't think they realise the trouble in which they
have been put by being deployed in a resurrected outdated ministry in this
day and age," he said.
"It becomes worse when you have some funny
ministry called Public and Interactive Affairs because I can't imagine
anything which is public and interactive but not
Having an Information ministry, Moyo said, in an
environment where government's media monopoly no longer exists, was "simply
"A Ministry of Information was justified in an
environment in which there was a government media monopoly but now the
broadcasting monopoly has been lifted. Instead of being controlled by a
ministry, broadcasting is now being run by a legally constituted regulatory
authority," he said.
"Things have changed and government ownership of
newspapers has become an anathema to democracy. The whole thing is just not
on. Zanu PF must move on with the times."
During his reign, Moyo
maintained a tight grip on the electronic media and on the public print
Moyo said the revival of the Information ministry showed
government was determined to take the country to a bygone era and not
"I see a lot of backward movement in everything which Zanu
PF is doing now. They have gone back to the archaic Ministry of Information
and they want to go back to the senate. It seems it's now all about going
back and not forward," he said.
It was disappointing, Moyo said,
to realise Mugabe and his party was preoccupied with "trivial pursuits"
while the economy continues on its decline.
"We have an
economically clueless government busy trying to entrench itself in power
through mindless constitutional amendments while the economy is collapsing,"
"Obviously, Zanu PF can see what we all can see: Mugabe is
no longer able to win a free and fair election."
Jokonya meets editors Conrad Dube NEW Information
minister, Tichaona Jokonya, will this morning meet editors from private and
public media houses in an effort to re-establish dialogue in the polarised
Jokonya is expected to meet the editors at his
Munhumutapa offices where former Information minister Jonathan Moyo was
It will be the first time in five years a government
Information minister has officially met all editors to discuss common
The meeting comes at a time when the Zanu PF information
department is pressing Jokonya to restructure the editorial departments at
the government-controlled Zimpapers and state-owned Zimbabwe Broadcasting
Jokonya had been expected to meet Zanu PF secretary for
information Nathan Shamuyarira this week to compare notes on the
restructuring process. But the meeting did not take
Sources have indicated that the ruling party's information
department has held meetings with reporters from Zimpapers to seek ways of
reversing Moyo's editorial policies which damaged the state media's
reputation and created enemies for the government across the
During Moyo's time the state media was reduced to the
minister's megaphone, something which badly impacted on their credibility
Before it was banned the private Daily News outsold the
government flagship the Herald, largely because the state press had lost its
*Meanwhile, police this week charged Standard editor
Davison Maruziva and reporter Savious Kwinika for a story which appeared in
their paper on April 10 alleging the Zaka district administrator was
arrested after he was found with seven ballot boxes and ballot papers at his
The two were charged under Section 15(2)(a)(i) of the Public
Security Act; in the alternative under Section 80(c)(i)(A) of
the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act.
was charged on Wednesday and Kwinika yesterday.
The two deny the
charges but admit there were certain inaccuracies in the article which the
paper subsequently corrected.
The police would now conclude
investigations and refer the docket to the Attorney-General's Office which
will proceed by way of summons if it decides to proceed with the matter,
their lawyer said.
New cabinet to gobble more billions Godfrey
Marawanyika/Chris Goko AT a time when Zimbabwe requires further public
expenditure reductions, President Robert Mugabe's enlarged cabinet announced
last week achieved the opposite, with five new ministers and a raft of other
government officials gobbling up billions of dollars in salaries and
perks. Weighing in at 41 ministers - 30 portfolio ministers, one minister
without portfolio and 10 resident ministers, plus 18 deputy ministers - the
"development" cabinet is supervised by a president and two vice
presidents. While the man in charge of Zimbabwe's economic turnaround,
Reserve Bank governor Gideon Gono, has repeatedly called for expenditure
cuts, Mugabe has evidently turned a deaf ear by creating needless
departments in what commentators see as a bid to extend his network of
patronage. By splitting some ministries and adding others, the Zimbabwean
leader confirmed a long-held view that political considerations take
precedence over economic sense. The cabinet has, in its ranks, a minister
of Public and Interactive Affairs and sees the return of Emmerson Mnangagwa
as Rural Housing and Social Amenities minister - whatever that is! Former
Finance and Economic Development minister Chris Kuruneri's ministry has been
spilt into two portfolios - that of Finance and Economic Development, headed
by Herbert Murerwa and Rugare Gumbo respectively. Mugabe, widely seen as
preoccupied with surrounding himself with pliant helpers ahead of his 2008
exit, also split Ignatius Chombo's Public Works and National Housing
ministry, creating an off-shoot for the embattled Mnangagwa. The logic,
observers say, of having an interactive ministry when the country has a
fully fledged Information and Publicity Ministry is confusing. Not only is
Interactive minister Chen Chimutengwende's brief unclear, it is also not
known in the current geo-political set-up who he is supposed to interact
with given Harare's many political enemies east and west. The success of
Chimutengwende's office will only be reflected in the end on Zimbabwe's
international isolation, but Mugabe will prove a stumbling block with his
increasing anti-West broadsides and regime-change paranoia. There is also
clear duplication of roles in the creation of two economic ministries; how
Gumbo's economic development portfolio will complement Murerwa's finance
office is a mystery. While Chombo's Local Government ministry failed to
deliver over the last five years largely because of insufficient funds to
develop housing and general infrastructure, it remains to be seen how
Mnangagwa's Rural Housing ministry will make a difference. It is common
cause that the incoming ministers and their deputies will be showered with
new Mercedes-Benz vehicles and four-wheel-drive Toyota Prados, ranging in
price from $500 million to nearly a billion dollars. Apart from luxury
vehicles and perks, the ministers are entitled to aides and other security
personnel, yet Zimbabwe has more urgent funding needs such as food and
energy imports. The Zimbabwe Independent reported last week that close to $5
trillion meant for capital expenditure was to be diverted towards food
imports, mainly the staple maize, but the president sees it fit to
accommodate Chimutengwende and Mnangagwa, among others, with cabinet
posts. A senior banking economist, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said
the decision to enlarge the cabinet would have a negative effect on
expenditure. "The enlarged cabinet flies in the face of the RBZ which has
been trying to cut down expenditure. "What it means is that the new
cabinet will now have new administrative staff, who will need other
resources and they will have to spend more," he said. He said the
decision to increase the cabinet was poorly timed since the International
Monetary Fund will be in the country in a fortnight. The Bretton Woods
institution has often criticised government's spending and the latest
profligacy will simply exacerbate the current impasse, making Gono's job of
re-engaging the Washington lender all but impossible. Zimbabwe is six years
into the economic doldrums, with inflation running at nearly 123%, and is
continually wracked by fuel and power shortages linked to foreign currency
shortages. Although Gono has managed to tame the inflation spiral, from a
peak of 622% about 18 months ago, he was forced to eat humble pie last week
when he revised the year-end target from 20-50% to about 80%. The
revision, Gono told banking and industry chiefs, took into account impending
grain imports in the wake of a drought. Independent economist John Robertson
ruled out any immediate change of fortunes for the country until there was a
policy shift. "Quite honestly, I don't think the cabinet will achieve
anything because people are being rewarded for their loyalty to Mugabe and
the party," he said. "A lot of money was availed to parastatals and more
will be needed for food imports. The Chinese are taking us for a ride. What
is now needed is investment and not rhetoric," Robertson said.
We mere mortals want to know By Rejoice Ngwenya THE
following is an open letter to President Robert Mugabe:
NOW that the electoral circus is over, and you have
managed to parade the 109 recycled pretenders to the throne, we mortals can
all fold our grass mats and retire to the sordid squalor of the caves from
whence we scrape a living - ponder on our future while chewing dried rodents
and Mopani worms.
In the distance, we only hear the receding
footsteps of our destiny, yelling in the vice-grip clutch of a gang of
infamous pirates known as the Two-Thirds, whose core business is to loot and
plunder what is left of the treasures in the hold of a sinking ship called
Zimbabwe - now settled peacefully at the bottom of the political
We know that this is not the last we have heard of the
Two-Thirds. No, their insatiable appetite for good living keeps them
permanently on the hunt for more loot and from us they will not just demand
40% of our monthly produce, but with it should come prostrate homage,
praise-singing and sacrifice to you, their wise leader, the ageing captain
of Zimbabwe whose code name - Spirit of February - strikes fear in the
hearts and minds of friend and foe alike.
Through your highly
partisan print and electronic organs of persuasive coercion, Mr President,
we are reminded daily, hour upon hour, that you deserve this homage. The
Grios, with repeated precision of a faulty vinyl record, tell us that as a
singular act of bravery, you, their wise leader, liberated us 25 years ago
from a marauding gang of hostile tribes known as the Caucasians who had
entrenched their rule over our valleys, mountains, rivers and caves in the
name of civilisation.
By his own individual charisma, wisdom, valour
and strength they sing, the Spirit of February drove the intruders out to
the fringes of oblivion, then personally handed our ancestral inheritances
back to us in the form of land.
Boy, are we not grateful that the gods
gave us such a man without whom we would still be slave labour in the tea
estates of Bwana Bennett and the rose gardens of Ndugu de
Yet, Mr President, those who are outside this hotbed of
political self-delusion, uninformed people like myself, the caveman, want to
place you on the pedestal of rationale and commonsense with only five
Question number one: if you and your party are so popular
with the rural majority, why not establish a seat of government at
Mutawatawa, in the lush and patriotic valleys of Uzumba-Maramba-Pfungwe?
Does it not make sense that a kingdom should have its roots among those
people who dispense the greatest allegiance to their rulers?
mere mortals want to know why the great Spirit of February would want to
expose himself to the insults and disrespectful open-palm gestures of the
urban scoundrels who know nothing about the history of the revolution other
than spending days on end blurting theories in the comfort of smoky
Question number two: if you are such a dominant
political force, why do we have in place a myriad laws like the Public Order
and Security Act and the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act
and institutions like the Media and Information Commission, the Zimbabwe
Electoral Commission, the Registar-General's Office and the Delimitation
Commission whose sole purpose is to shut out free and fair
Don't great players like Tiger Woods derive their
satisfaction from winning by fair play? Are they involved in setting the
rules, appointing referees and announcing the results?
number three: your own colleagues, comrades in the legitimate
for self-determination, have gracefully and gratefully retired from the
opera house of dirty tricks to run foundations, write memoirs and assist
grandchildren with their homework. To mind comes names like Nelson Mandela,
Kenneth Kaunda, Joacquim Chissano, Daniel arap Moi and Sam
You, the Spirit of February, remain alone, in a deserted and
haunted house, with ghosts of the past playing havoc with your conscience
and imaginary apparitions tugging at your political reputation. Young men
and women who are novices in the game chase you around the campaign field,
hurling disrespectful yet reasonably accurate allegations of
Question number four: you yourself, just after casting
your vote on the morning of March 31, stated confidently in front of a blaze
of camera flashes that your party would absolutely, definitely achieve the
Two-Thirds. This question may sound silly, but how does a captain of a big
league team about to embark on a bruising derby predict that his team will
definitely, absolutely collect maximum points unless the referee is on his
Finally, question number five: since when can
friends ever give one an objective assessment of one's performance? Your
friends in the African National Congress and Southern African Development
Community had already judged the elections as a free and fair contest long
before the ballot paper was marked.
Your bodyguards in the guise
of military man, police and intelligence officers and overpaid and
underworked Grios in the guise of ambassadors voted a week before. Thousands
of citizens were either turned away or "assisted" to vote and thousands more
voted from their graves. Of course, Mr President, you would secure a
Two-Thirds majority. Anyone in that position would.
tells me, the Spirit of February, that the receding footsteps of our destiny
will soon change into a loud stampede towards emancipation of the mind and
soul. One day, not far away, civilisation and enlightenment will show its
face, and the Two-Thirds will wither away into political obscurity, as the
brave sons and daughters of the nation reclaim mother ship Zimbabwe from the
bottom of the political ocean.
years ago Zimbabwe was born, ushering out the years of bitter and bloody
fighting to end Rhodesian minority rule. Robert Mugabe, the country's still
relatively unknown new leader, impressed the population and, indeed, the
world, with his speech on the eve of Independence.
"If yesterday you
hated me, today you cannot avoid the love that binds you to me and me to
you. Is it not folly, therefore, that in these circumstances anybody should
seek to revive the wounds and grievances of the past?" said Mugabe on
Mugabe's statesmanlike words were followed with
the announcement of a cabinet which brought together leaders from all
segments of the nation: black and white, Shona and Ndebele, old and young,
men and women.
Peace and stability had been restored across the country
and it seemed that a bright future lay ahead.
The new Zimbabwe
re-established the rule of law in the cities and rural areas. The police
force was quickly transformed from one that had enforced Rhodesia's racist
rule to one that protected the rights of all citizens.
parliament, elected by majority rule, began a series of reforms that
appeared benign. The judiciary, after years of upholding minority rule, made
great strides to become more independent from the government.
appeared that the new Zimbabwe's success in establishing a multi-racial,
multi-party democracy would be a model for South Africa, an example to help
end apartheid and establish its own majority-ruled
That was 25 years ago. South Africa has triumphed in
ending apartheid. But the bright hopes for Zimbabwe have been tragically
dimmed, especially regarding the law.
There were some expressions
of worry in legal circles that the Mugabe government continued to use the
Rhodesians' state of emergency and the notorious Law and Order (Maintenance)
Act. The two legislative instruments gave the government and the police
authority to arrest and detain people for lengthy periods and the ability to
ban large public demonstrations. They were designed and used by the
Rhodesians to repress public demonstrations of support for the African
But the new Mugabe government used the laws to
detain its critics and those suspected of spying and carrying out violent
acts of sabotage for apartheid South Africa. The new government found the
repressive laws very useful in hobbling its critics.
the Mugabe government dropped the state of emergency. But 20 years after
Independence it was still using the Rhodesian-era Law and Order
(Maintenance) Act to prevent public demonstrations, to hamper nascent
opposition parties and to restrict the press.
pressed for the Mugabe government to repeal the oppressive security law. By
the year 2000 the government agreed that the old law had to go. But it
surprised even its most bitter critics when it put forward a new security
law that was even harsher than the Rhodesian law. The Public Order and
Security Act allowed police sweeping powers of arrest and to ban public
meetings of more than three people.
A special Bill was passed to
restrict the press. The Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act
(Aippa) has an innocuous title which does not disguise the fact that the law
empowers the government to ban newspapers and prevent journalists from
working, on pain of jail terms.
Mugabe signed the press law in March
2002, shortly after he was re-elected to yet another six-year presidential
term. Aippa quickly gained notoriety as it was used to close down four
newspapers and to arrest and charge journalists with criminal
Further repressive legislation permits the government to hold
people in jail for up to 28 days without seeing a judge or hearing charges
Legislation has been passed which gives the government
powers to close down any private, voluntary or charitable organisation. It
specifically prevents any non-governmental organisation dealing with human
rights or governance issues from receiving foreign funds from donors. It is
designed to restrict the activities of civic organisations the way Aippa
squeezed the press.
The Non-Governmental Organisations Bill has not
yet been signed into law by Mugabe. The president recently stated he would
reform the law so that his critics would not object to it so strongly. But
legal experts expect Mugabe to make a few cosmetic changes and leave the
main thrust of the Bill intact.
Zimbabwe's judiciary has not been left to
interpret legislation independently. The Supreme Court has been fully packed
with those who are Mugabe's unquestioning adherents. The High Court has also
been "transformed" into one that largely upholds the government's
Twenty-five years ago it was hoped that Zimbabwe would learn
from the bad example of Rhodesia and would chart a new path of just laws and
It is as ironic as it is dismaying that the
Mugabe government has instead decided to follow the example set by Rhodesia
in creating repressive laws which grossly restrict individual freedoms.
Those offensive laws are upheld by the compliant courts and brutally
enforced by the police.
*This column is provided by the International
PRESIDENT Mugabe in January told us 2005 was a year of
investment. Four months into the year, it is becoming clear that this was
yet another presidential ruse meant to galvanise the hard-to-believe notion
that the country is going forward. There was more subterfuge last week
when Mugabe appointed a capacious cabinet which he has tried to sell to the
nation as an agent of development. He called his gargantuan all-in team a
development cabinet. At a time when government is being implored to
streamline operations and cut back on expenditure, Mugabe has decided to
invite more of his comrades to partake at the feeding trough. There has
never been a positive correlation between a large cabinet team and service
delivery. The enlarged team is another layer of bureaucracy to be funded by
the taxpayer. Last year we recall central bank governor Gideon Gono
applauding the government for living within its means. We recall him urging
government not to make extraordinary payments to any given sector as this
would upset the apple cart. A few days later the government announced large
payouts to mujibhas, chimbwidos and ex-detainees. What will Gono say to
this latest spendfest? As he did with the pay-outs, that it was a noble
cause and he could live with it? That is the tragedy of our situation. We
simply watch while Mugabe drives a coach and horses through the few positive
developments in our economy. Development is not suddenly going to arrive on
Zimbabwe's frontiers because there are now more fingers in the pie. The men
and women whom Mugabe has entrusted with developing the nation are directly
responsible for the current quagmire that we find ourselves in. The nation
will not be fooled into believing that Finance minister Herbert Murerwa can
suddenly produce a blueprint that will turn around this economy when he has
been unable to at any point in the past and was only recently predicting a
28% recovery in agriculture! We do not believe that Aeneas Chigwedere can
develop the country's education system after his well-documented attempt to
ruin private schools so that they resemble dilapidated government
institutions. Joseph Made, the architect of hunger and manufacturer of
fictitious harvest statistics will not suddenly metamorphose into a pundit
of prudent agricultural principles. What can the new Industry and
International Trade minister do to restore confidence in the manufacturing
sector and among investors when populist policies bereft of business sense
are the fuel of the regime? The president on Independence Day told us our
problems had been caused by IMF-imposed structural adjustment. He told us
that after 25 years of unbroken rule, he was a "lot wiser". We saw the
nature of his wisdom - the enlarged cabinet with the creation of comical
portfolios like the Ministry of State for Public and Interactive Affairs.
Where was the wisdom in appointing fading party bigwig Emmerson Mnangagwa -
rescued from the political scrapyard (again) - Minister of Rural Housing and
Social Amenities? These, together with two dozen others, will need new
limousines which cost at least $1 billion each. They will need offices,
furniture, support staff, computers, houses and other executive perks. That
will create a huge hole in the current budget that forecast reduced
government spending. But Mugabe's government, with its history of
underachievement, would like the world to believe that it is fostering
development. No amount of posturing or sloganeering will mask the fact that
there is nothing visible to talk about here. The evidence of our
"development" is there for all to see in resettled areas where tobacco barns
have become classrooms and oxcarts have replaced ambulances. This is because
Mugabe is a lot wiser! What became of the winter maize project which we were
told the whole region was emulating? When will government start to put up
basic infrastructure in resettled areas? Kunzvi Dam, Tokwe Mukosi Dam, Arda
farming in the Democratic Republic of Congo.? The development theme
attached to the current crop of ministerial failures is an illusion and a
tired cliché to gloss over the shortcomings of the current regime. There are
always reasons for the failures. It is the West and its sanctions. It is
Tony Blair and the opposition MDC. It is the IMF and structural adjustment.
It is everyone except the real culprits. But who will pay for this latest
comfort zone, this merry-go-round of the intellectually lame and
undeserving? Presumably those who voted against this gang in the first
Development will be a real
mirage IF there is anyone that President Robert Mugabe listens to, could that
person please tell him that a "development cabinet" does not comprise 41
ministers - being 30 portfolio ministers, one minister without portfolio and
10 resident ministers for the various provinces and the two major cities.
That monolithic cabinet is supplemented by 18 deputy ministers and overseen
by a president and two vice presidents. In other words, Zimbabwe has 62
overseers to manage - or mismanage! - the country, before even bringing to
account the underlying tens of thousands of bureaucrats that comprise the
public service, 150 parliamentarians and a proposed senate. "Zimbabwe
Ltd" has more "directors" than any corporate entity anywhere in the world,
notwithstanding that some of those corporates individually have more
economic activity than does all Zimbabwe. They meet many of the diverse
needs of their numerous worldwide customers, greater in number than
Zimbabwe's total population. Their human resource management is more
extensive than the numbers who must be served by Zimbabwe's Ministry of
Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare. Their revenue inflows and
expenditure outflows are immensely greater than those of the Zimbabwean
exchequer, and yet more often do they not only sustain deficits but realise
surpluses. They set themselves targets, and more often than not achieve
them. When they do fail, they will generally acknowledge the causes of
failure, including those attributable to others, instead of blaming
others. But should comparisons with the private sector be perceived to be
invidious, is there an underlying lesson to be learnt from the fact that the
Zimbabwe cabinet infrastructure is greater than that of the United States,
China and all countries that comprise the European Union, including the
United Kingdom? Although those countries inevitably have varying
fortunes, enjoying economic upturns and downturns, when the latter occurs
they invariably address the negative circumstances constructively. They
don't try to do so by expanding their government infrastructures
exponentially. And they certainly don't do so by retaining the services of
those responsible for the economic morass, or those whose actions - or lack
of actions - have weakened their countries. Those culprits of incompetence
are dismissed, and usually are replaced by others with proven
ability. But that is not so for Zimbabwe. After 25 years of Independence,
almost 80% of the population are suffering, with incomes far below the
poverty datum line, while almost half the population barely exist below the
food datum line. At least three of every four Zimbabweans wishing to be
employed are unemployed, and have little hope of any change to their
misfortunes. Hospitals run out regularly of x-ray film, drugs and medications
and spares to keep life-sustaining equipment operational. More motor
vehicles populate fuel queues than do the country's roads and highways.
Although the country cannot feed its people, provide sufficient housing and
avail all of critically needed health care, it spends many millions of US
dollars buying fighter aircraft from China! The narrative of Zimbabwean
ills is so great that it alone could fill these columns. So what does the
President do to address the crisis? Over and above a continuing attribution
of blame to others, including in particular the British government and Tony
Blair and the United States government, George Bush and Condoleezza Rice,
Mugabe brings into being that which he calls a "Development Cabinet".
Momentarily, some experienced a surge of hope. The president had recognised
that Zimbabwe has a desperate need for development. It needs development to
create jobs, to fuel economic activity, to generate foreign exchange and to
yield inflows to the fiscus. At last something positive was about to
happen! But the euphoria was short-lived. Soon two elements of the
"Development Cabinet" were recognised by many who had fruitlessly grasped at
hope for change. The first was that the new cabinet was even larger than its
predecessor. There were more "jobs for the boys". That enlarged cabinet
means more ministerial salaries, fringe benefits, motor vehicles, permanent
secretaries and public servants. In turn, that means more fiscal outflows,
which results either in higher, inflationary deficits, or greater taxation
upon an already overtaxed population, or diversion of funds from more
deserving objectives. The second characteristic rapidly seen as a factor of
the "Development Cabinet" was that although, in increasing its size, some
new blood was introduced into the cabinet, almost all those who had failed
dismally in fulfilling their tasks and in promoting Zimbabwean well-being
had been retained. In a few instances the ministers had played musical
chairs, being moved from their previous portfolios and appointed to others,
but overwhelmingly those who should be hiding their heads in shame for their
contribution to Zimbabwe's woes have remained in the cabinet. Based upon
performance heretofore, who can view the new cabinet with any confidence
that it will bring about recovery for agriculture when, for five years, it
has experienced a never-ending downward slide? Who can expect that there
will be substantive urban development, including critically needed housing,
and effective local government, when for five years there has
been stagnation? Who can confidently foreshadow restoration of education
to its 1980s glory, when for five years education has been in decline? And
who can reasonably expect that Zimbabwe will revert to a free, independent
judiciary and to a state of preservation of law and order, freedom of speech
and freedom of the press, when that has been virtually non-existent
for the last five years? Some may say: "Ah, yes, but now we have a new
'Development Cabinet'." However, the new cabinet includes the same ministers
responsible for Agriculture, Local Government and Urban Development,
Education, Justice and Home Affairs as were responsible for those portfolios
from 2000 to 2005. So what realistically can be expected to
DON'T we recall a pledge by President Mugabe during the election
campaign that he wouldn't appoint as a cabinet minister anybody who had not
been elected to parliament? So how come we now have people like Emmerson
Mnangagwa, Patrick Chinamasa, Amos Midzi and Simbarashe Mumbengegwi as
cabinet ministers? What popular mandate do they have and what sort of
accountability is it when the president appoints individuals who either did
not stand for office or who have been rejected by the electorate? Never
has there been such a collection of dead-wood as appeared on the front page
of the Herald on Saturday. As one commentator put it, you could build a
large ark with that lot. A wide-angle lens was needed to get them all in the
picture. There were no new faces there. Just the same old recycled failures.
It was a blatant case of jobs for the boys - and just a few girls! Is
this the cabinet that will pull the country out of the huge hole Zanu PF has
dug for it? Simbarashe Mumbengegwi is arguably a new face at Foreign
Affairs. But anybody watching his bull-headed performance on the BBC's
Hardtalk would have recognised an old-guard apparatchik breathing defiance
who is completely unsuited to re-engaging the international community. Stan
Mudenge stood a better chance! Then there is Tichaona Jokonya who as
Zimbabwe's ambassador to Ethiopia pledged Zimbabwe's unyielding support for
Mengistu Haile Mariam's brutal regime. He will now preside over an
utterly dishonest official media that pretends the country is undergoing an
economic "turnaround". What will he do with that whole raft of Jonathan Moyo
mouthpieces strategically placed throughout Zimpapers and
'Bouncing back" - a favourite expression of Herald propaganda
writers but appropriate in this case - is Chen Chimutengwende who fell from
grace when he was replaced by Moyo at the Information department in 2000.
Chen has been pursuing Pan-Africanist chimeras over the past five years and
now assumes the high-sounding title of Minister of State for Public and
Interactive Affairs. What the hell is "Interactive Affairs"? It sounds
like a euphemism for kwasa-kwasa! Does Chen know what it is? Does the
president? Does anybody? But when we speak of recycled dead-wood there are
two emblematic reappointments. Joseph Made at Lands and Agriculture is
arguably the most incompetent minister this country has ever had. His aerial
surveys of crop production are now the stuff of comic legend. And his maize
forecast of 2,4 million tonnes continues to be held up as a shining example
of ministerial inventiveness. It was Made who presided over the chaos
that is misleadingly called land reform. He is ultimately responsible for
the country's headlong decline from self-sufficiency to one of Africa's
leading basket cases. Yet he is rewarded for all this by being returned to
office by a grateful president for whom racist evictions appear more
important than agricultural production. Then there is Aeneas Chigwedere whose
populist attempt to pretend that private schools were the last bastion of
recalcitrant whites was met by such stiff resistance by parents of all hues
that he was forced into a tactical retreat. But not before he had managed to
inflict considerable damage upon that part of the education system that had
hitherto escaped government's depredations. In the end the courts upheld
the rights of the schools and ordered him and the police to stop
interfering. The reappointment of both Made and Chigwedere prove there is no
new thinking at the top and nothing is going to change. Let's not hear any
more Herald nonsense about "turnarounds" or re-engagement with the
international community. They aren't going to happen. And the Chinese will
end up demanding hard currency just as the Iranians and Libyans did before
As a glaring indication that there is no change in the state media
there was a clumsy attempt by the Herald last week to link MDC leader Morgan
Tsvangirai to a violent episode on a resettled farm in Beatrice. The police
subsequently said that it was premature to describe this as a political case
as reported in the Herald. But there was no retraction by the Herald for
its defamatory insinuation. This did not however stop Tafataona Mahoso, who
is becoming increasingly vitriolic in his attacks on the MDC, from claiming
that the MDC had "announced programmes to defy the will of the people of
Zimbabwe in many ways including...unleashing Selous Scout-style terror
against resettled African farmers". We have in the past suggested a
number of instances where Mahoso, who heads a quasi-judicial body, has made
assumptions about an individual or an organisation's guilt when there has
been no evidence for such assumptions. Admittedly, he made other claims in
his article last Sunday about the MDC which would incline a reader not to
take him seriously. For instance he suggested the party was "using its
alliance with foreign business monopolies to sabotage the economy and
reverse the gains of the national economic turnaround programme... making up
false stories about vote-rigging (and) using sponsorship money.to launch
totally unnecessary court cases to reverse election results in at least 13
constituencies where the MDC lost to the ruling Zanu PF". What does this
tell us about Mahoso's views on the rights of individuals and parties to
appeal to the courts where they believe they have been wronged? The High
Court ruled in a number of cases between 2000 and 2004 that electoral
outcomes should be set aside where Zanu PF had won because of
irregularities, inducements or violence. Those cases are currently on appeal
by the incumbents. Is it Mahoso's contention that those cases should
never have been heard? And what does that tell us about his role at the
Media and Information Commission? As for sabotaging the economy and
reversing the "gains of the national economic turnaround", you have first to
swallow the childish claims of Zanu PF's propaganda machine as to the
existence of such a turnaround before anybody can reverse it. We all know
who the real saboteurs are in respect of Zimbabwe's economy. If Mahoso wants
to demonstrate his partisan gullibility that is his business. But when
making so much of the MDC's "sponsorship", why doesn't Mahoso tell us who
his sponsors are and whether it is part of his brief to attack the
opposition in such venomous terms? Exactly how much does the MIC and
Mahoso in particular cost the nation when the law under which he operates
has yet to secure a single successful prosecution? Or does this regime
reward, as we suspect, those officials and law-enforcement officers who
lurch from failure to failure as in the recent case of the Telegraph
Reading through the president's address at the Silver Jubilee
celebrations on Monday, we were struck by the delusional claims he made. The
government had "delivered on education, health, infrastructure, water,
energy and communication", he told the assembled crowd. Has it? It may
have delivered on educational expansion in the 1980s, but where are all the
teachers now? Most are in the UK. And what use have all those universities
been without books, facilities and high-level instruction? Academics have
been leading the exodus to greener pastures. Health care is more evident in
its absence than provision. Has President Mugabe ever been to a state
hospital and seen the conditions there? It doesn't sound like
it. Infrastructure is everywhere in a state of advanced collapse. There are
water shortages all over Harare, partly due to political meddling in the
administration of the city. What happened to the Kunzvi Dam
scheme? Energy, particularly fuel supplies, are erratic while communications
are dependent upon private service providers. NetOne seems to be spending
public money on congratulating Mugabe on his "outstanding electoral
victory". And when did you last see somebody using a post office after
Zimpost hiked the cost of postage beyond most people's means? Hiking the
cost of telephone and postal charges thus preventing ordinary people - such
as school children and pensioners - communicating with each other is one of
the many cruel impositions this regime's parasitic parastatals have heaped
on the public while the state orders private businesses to hold their
prices at unsustainable levels.
Mugabe evidently lives on a different
planet from the rest of us. We did however appreciate his reference to
"hapless villagers slaughtered in cold blood only yesterday". We should
welcome this belated recognition of the depredations of the Fifth Brigade by
the president. The same number of people were "slaughtered" in Matabeleland
in the 1980s as in the liberation war and it is fitting that the regime
should own up to its atrocities instead of constantly pointing at other
people's! But the most helpful remarks the president made related to genuine
democracy not being able to grow on the soil of racial poverty and
inequality. He should have said that democracy cannot grow on the soil of
state-induced poverty and racism. Zimbabwe enjoyed solid growth and job
expansion in the 1980s and 90s. It was only after the hate-fuelled third
chimurenga in 2000 that living standards plummeted. The lesson is there for
all to see. Zanu PF's vicious assault on a productive and law-abiding
minority has sabotaged the economy and destroyed jobs. Per capita GDP has
fallen well below pre-Independence levels. That is why so few people
participated in Zanu PF's contrived celebrations last weekend. And it's not
getting any better.
Zanu PF Women's League members knelt and chanted
President Mugabe's totem, we are told. Doesn't that sum up the whole phoney
event? A nation on its knees chanting Mugabe's totem. Except of course the
inhabitants of the cities who are totemless! By the way, why weren't
Josiah Tongogara and Rekayi Tangwena on the list of those posthumously
honoured? And why weren't Thabo Mbeki or Armando Guebuza present at the
celebrations? Reports from Johannesburg said the newly-elected Mozambican
president had deliberately side-stepped visiting Zimbabwe. According to
ZimOnline, sources within his delegation said he didn't want to be seen as
the first leader to endorse the government in Harare by undertaking an
official visit. We can well understand that!
RBZ 's economic plan queried Roadwin
Chirara ANALYSTS have questioned the ability of the central bank to come up
with a clear economic plan, after it backtracked on its earlier decision to
issue 91-day treasury bills.
The RBZ last week reintroduced the
short-term paper to mop up liquidity on the market, a move that was in
direct contrast to its earlier decision to scrap the
Analysts said it was now difficult for business to plan in an
environment where the central bank continues to shift policies
The latest move saw the RBZ immediately floating 91-day
TBs to raise $200 billion, although it only managed $175 billion. The latest
short-term effort came after the market reacted reluctantly to the central
bank's long-term 180-day paper, thrust on the market to mop up excess
An analyst said lack of policy consistency on the part of
the RBZ showed its lack of strategy in dealing with economic challenges
facing the country.
"It really becomes difficult to trust the
economic recovery plan of a central bank which seems not to have a single
(clear) strategy to deal with the current challenges," he
Other analysts said the central bank had no choice but to
backtrack on its long-term paper ambitions as investors were more interested
in short-term investments in a volatile economic climate.
decision by the Reserve Bank had put them in a difficult position as the old
paper was failing to find any takers, leading to an urgent need to
reintroduce the attractive short-term 91-day TBs," he said.
91-day paper's reintroduction comes after the central bank halted the
issuance of short-term paper to the financial markets without offering an
The move to bar short-term paper was announced by
Hazvinandaa Saburi, the central bank's acting division chief for financial
Before the decision, the market was distributing short-term
paper ranging from 7-14 days and attracted an average of 50% interest, while
the 30-day paper averaged 55% in interest.
The 60-day paper
attracted 60%, while the 90-day paper attracted 75% interest. The decision
to bar the issuing of short-term paper meant that the central bank was only
in a position to issue treasury bills.
TBs are issued by the central
bank on behalf of the government to raise money for various national
purchases, including essential imports of energy and fuel.
effort to force institutions to adhere to the new regulations, the central
bank announced that institutions that breached the new requirement would be
forced to buy a two-year paper attracting a lowly penal rate of
By yesterday, the market was still digesting the likely
impact of the central bank's decision.
Analysts said the decision
was mainly a result of the market's lacklustre response to the central
bank's long-term paper.
Hippo prejudiced of millions Roadwin Chirara SUGAR
producer, Hippo Valley Estates, has been prejudiced of billions of dollars
in export earnings after an Indian company allegedly "hijacked" Hippo's
sugar export quota to the European Union.
Hippo has a deal to export 31
000 tonnes of sugar under the EU-ACP preferential quota.
Valley alleges the Indian company delivered sugar to the EU under the
pretence that the produce was of Zimbabwean origin. Company insiders say the
scam came to light after Hippo Valley was informed that it had met its full
export quota to the EU market under the ACP agreement. But Hippo claims to
have supplied only 24 151 tonnes of sugar to the EU.
The EU is
reportedly investigating the true origin of the 6 858 tonnes supplied by the
Hippo Valley has mooted legal action against the
Indian company to offset losses from the deal which constitutes one of its
major export markets.
Hippo Valley Estates chairman, Godfrey Gomwe,
acknowledged in the company's annual results to December 2004 that Hippo was
involved in a dispute regarding the delivery of a sugar consignment to the
He said the company was awaiting the outcome of an
investigation being instituted by the European Union with regards to the
"Exports to the EU under the ACP preferential quota amounted
to 24 151 tonnes, 6 858 tonnes short of the full quota due to the fraudulent
tonnage of the Indian sugar under false certificates claiming to be of
Zimbabwean origin," said Gomwe.
"The matter is still under
investigation by the EU," he said.
He also said the company was still
awaiting its certification to export to the United States market under the
Certificate of Quota Eligibility granted last year amounting to 12 103
He said the balance of sugar produced during the course of
the year under review was exported to the company's other regional export
"The balance of production was exported to regional markets
under bilateral trade arrangements," said Gomwe.
He said despite
the company meeting its sugar export to the EU under the Special
Preferential Sugar quota, its export market was under threat.
the proposed reforms governing the ACP sugar regime would prove a challenge
to the company as its exports produce price would face a price cut of 37%
under the tabled proposal.
"In July 2004, the European Union tabled a
paper proposing reforms to the ACP sugar regime, which would result in a 37%
reduction of the ACP guaranteed price from -524 to -329 per tonne by
2007/2008," said Gomwe.
The company managed to record a net profit of
$126,2 billion in the year under review, a marked increase from the 2003
figure of $114,3 billion.
changes brought about mainly by the Reserve Bank governor at the beginning
of last year brought back sanity to an out-of-control economy, and for most
Zimbabweans, were the light at the end of a long, dark tunnel the country
entered in 1997.
The economy appeared to have stabilised, and was even
said to be on the recovery path last year, before faltering towards the end
of the year, and coming to a position which looks even worse than 2002-3 as
Interest rates have remained stubbornly punitive, inflation is no
longer declining at last year's fantastic rate, and the country is in the
throes of a crippling foreign currency shortage. What has gone
Raising interest rates to stifle speculation was a step in the
right direction. The introduction of the foreign exchange auction was also a
positive move, as was the introduction of the Productive Sector Facility to
cushion industry and commerce. For some time after these changes, the
economy did appear to be recovering.
Trouble started when the
exchange rate stopped moving in line with inflation developments. The
rationale behind this move seemed to be to accelerate the rate of decline in
inflation, albeit at the expense of the exporter and the diasporans. While
this worked for some time, the cost has now obviously become too great for
these parties as shown by declining inflows from exports and the drying up
of official diaspora money. This became increasingly evident from the last
quarter of 2004.
Had the Zimbabwe dollar been put on a crawling peg
system from that time, where the local currency would be depreciated in line
with month-on-month inflation, the gains made from squeezing margins on
exporters over the first three quarters of the year would have been
crystallised. The decline in inflation would also have been maintained, as
the outlook would have continued to be one of high, but receding
What should also be noted is that while the cost of
foreign currency was held constant, those accessing it at the auctions were
pricing the goods they bought in line with parallel market rates as they
were aware that fewer goods were being imported and therefore they could
increase prices without suffering a slowdown in demand. Holding down the
exchange rate therefore did not slow down inflation, particularly as there
was an absence of foreign currency reserves to continue meeting
Given the acute state of the foreign exchange shortage now
and the continued absence of balance of payments support (it also appears
this will not be coming anytime soon, given President Mugabe's speech on
Independence Day), nothing short of a massive devaluation would restart
meaningful levels of foreign currency inflows.
once that happens, all prices (including those that have already been
adjusted upwards in line with the parallel market rate) will be raised,
resulting in the level of prices jumping beyond where they would have been
had the currency been on a crawling peg all along. It would, however, mean
that we have meaningful inflows once again.
Having effected this
one-time devaluation, the monetary authorities would then have to continue
to devalue the currency in line with developments in month-on-month
inflation, and more importantly, make it known that this will happen. By so
doing, the authorities would have created an environment in which all
players know the path that the important fundamentals will take. This would
also kill off speculative opportunities currently in existence.
example, if one knows that the Zimbabwe dollar will have declined at the
same rate as inflation in a year's time, and there will not be a parallel
market from which to realise higher gains, one would most likely not buy or
hold foreign currency. This would be especially so in a positive interest
rate environment, as one would realise more from investing on the money
market than from holding foreign currency.
On the other hand,
trying to hike interest rates again without devaluing and putting the
currency on a crawling peg would only result in a higher cost of capital for
those struggling companies still in a borrowed position, which would result
in inevitable company closures, and greater hardships on the general
populace. It would also stifle the already low aggregate demand within our
economy, thus impacting negatively on even those companies that are not
borrowed, and that are not engaged in speculative activity. In the medium to
long-run, high interest rates would also lead to inflation as money is
channelled away from productive activities into bank accounts to generate
more money when the economy's output is falling.
High interest rates
would not reduce demand for foreign currency
significantly as most of
this demand currently is for the purchase of inputs and commodities. It is
also highly unlikely that there are still people borrowing to buy currency
on a speculative basis, as banks' lending policies have become very
stringent, and borrowing rates are still punitive. Moreover, high interest
rates would not kill the parallel market as foreign currency shortages would
still be there.
ACCORDING to a ZTV news
report Joseph Chinotimba and members of the Zanu PF Women's League organised
a party for Harare's street kids to enable them to celebrate Zimbabwe's
silver jubilee. Needless to say, the event was politicised and clenched
fists, Zanu PF regalia and slogans were much in evidence.
no shame? Are they not aware that the destitute of all ages who live on the
streets of Harare and other towns in Zimbabwe are there because of Zanu PF's
Let all the "fat cats" who have prospered from a corrupt
regime celebrate, but please spare the destitute the indignity of being
forced to "celebrate" in order to be fed a few crumbs from their table of
There are many in Zimbabwe who would do well to avoid any
public pretence at showing humanitarian concern for their suffering fellow
The image is just too nauseating for public
IT is a fact that Zanu PF's leader is trying to extend his term of
office by another two years for one simple reason - grooming his son Robert
(Jr) to become the next president of this nation.
We should not be
fooled by this sovereignty issue, it is only a ploy to distract our minds
Mugabe is a very cunning person and he knows that the
people of this country are only concerned about living comfortably, and for
as long as they can watch DStv in peace, he can as well give them that
freedom and forget about those "useless" township people who vote for the
MDC. For as long as we have people only concerned with wealth and not the
country's management, we are all doomed.
I salute Mai Margaret
Dongo for putting it correctly: they are all Mugabe's wives. Look at the way
the pastors, the academics and the politicians bow at his feet to clean his
shoes! It's such a shame. Who will rescue the nation from this
PRESIDENT Mugabe called the previous cabinet a "war cabinet" to emphasise
his propaganda fight with British premier Tony Blair. And there was some
fighting to do. Information minister Jonathan Moyo spearheaded that fight
with zeal, attacking everybody from Blair and the MDC to his seniors in Zanu
The current cabinet has been dubbed a "development cabinet".
What is doubtful is whether it will be anything more than a burden on the
First of all, people are worried by the size of the
cabinet. Too big for nothing is the verdict. There is certainly nothing new
about it to inspire confidence. All the ministers, their deputies, and
provincial governors will require salaries, vehicles, bodyguards,
This must have come as a shock to Reserve
Bank of Zimbabwe governor Gideon Gono. Somehow he had begun to believe that
he was working hand in hand with politicians in his fight against inflation
and government spending. When he heard the president talking of a
development cabinet, he must have felt that there would be more resources
directed at economic growth and at promoting more exports to earn foreign
That was not to be. It's consumption galore.
Zimbabweans can brace themselves for more taxation. While the rest of the
country is tightening belts because of swingeing poverty, government is busy
dishing out national resources to its own plutocratic class. It was a happy
Silver Jubilee for those invited to join the Zanu PF gravy
Zimbabweans committed to the welfare of this country
must wonder at these policy incongruities. Nowhere has it ever been
demonstrated that a bigger cabinet means better development. We are seeing a
government that has grown not only too confident from the recent
parliamentary majority, but one that has become both arrogant and heartless
towards its citizens. What does it tell us about the president's seriousness
on the economic front that he can appoint a bloated cabinet to feed from a
shrinking base of overtaxed workers in a year of crushing
While unemployment is estimated at close to 75% and
urban poverty is on the increase, Mugabe has no qualms about providing
ministerial shelter for party colleagues who were rejected by voters.
Emmerson Mnangagwa, Amos Midzi, and Sikanyaniso Ndlovu are all electoral
rejects. Patrick Chinamasa, Paul Mangwana and Sithembiso Nyoni have no
It is hard to avoid the creeping suspicion
that urbanites, who are the majority of taxpayers, are being punished for
voting wrongly. Unfortunately the punishment is being visited on those who
voted correctly too!
As for the development part of it, we wait
to be surprised.
Meanwhile, the Silver Jubilee celebrations
have come and gone. The question is what next? Most of those who provided
the entertainment at the celebrations have gone back to their rural poverty
or resumed their daily toil in the townships. There is no sign that their
lives are any better.
While Mugabe was long and loud on his
government's past achievements,
he sounded unconvincing about
future programmes. Conspicuous by their absence from the cabinet are the
so-called technocrats bringing new ideas into the government, no doubt
partly as a result of the fallout from Tsholotsho. There is evident
antipathy against mafikizolos seeking to upset the apple
Just as an aside, despite efforts to make the Silver
Jubilee a huge national event, how come there were only five heads of state
who found time to attend? The event was announced 100 days in advance and
the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Holdings made a point of reminding us everyday of
this great event. If not our Chinese and North Korean friends from the east,
at least we expected more Sadc presidents.
propaganda about the March 31 election results, leaders in the region appear
not to have bought into the propaganda that the poll was free and fair or
that lack of violence on polling day was sufficient proof that Zimbabwe was
now a full-fledged democracy. Most of them opted to stay away than be used
to endorse a result that is dubious. Painfully absent was South Africa's
Thabo Mbeki of course. He is still examining evidence that there were
disconcerting discrepancies in the voter figures broadcast by the Zimbabwe
Also absent were MDC leaders.
Apparently some people are trying to wish the party out of existence,
forgetting that most of the people they see on the streets in all urban
areas voted for the opposition party. Each time we see these futile attempts
to kill the MDC in the state media we are reminded of a recent picture of
President Mugabe embracing Afonso Dhlakama as "our brother" and the human
and financial resources Zimbabwe spent over a 10-year period trying to kill
Dhlakama and his Renamo.
Short of hypocrisy and selfishness,
one can't explain why such a gesture with the MDC and its leader Morgan
Tsvangirai is considered an anathema in Zimbabwe. And we expect outsiders to
take us seriously!