|The ZIMBABWE Situation||Our
thoughts and prayers are with Zimbabwe |
- may peace, truth and justice prevail.
By our own Staff
*Minister also holds Canadian passport THE Minister of Finance and Economic Development, Christopher Kuruneri, whose building of a 30 million rand mansion in Cape Town sparked a furore in Zimbabwe, has been arrested and will face charges of externalising foreign currency worth $6 billion.
Kuruneri becomes Zimbabwe's first Cabinet minister to be arrested since President Robert Mugabe declared war against corruption a few months ago.Police spokesman Assistant commissioner Wayne Bvudzijena told The Standard that Kuruneri, Zanu PF MP for Mazowe West, had been taken into custody early yesterday, and would be charged for violating the country's foreign currency laws. "He has been arrested in terms of the Exchange Control Act for externalising various amounts of foreign currency to South Africa," Bvudzijena confirmed, adding that Kuruneri would be taken to court "as soon as possible". He would, however, not disclose more details about the case but reliable sources told The Standard last night that the Finance Minister had been picked up in connection with externalising about $6 billion in foreign currency. "The amounts involved are huge; US$1 million, 34 000 pounds and 30 000 euros," said the source. He added that Kuruneri was also likely to be charged for breaching citizenship laws of Zimbabwe as he was found to be a holder of a Canadian passport in addition to his Zimbabwean one. The Standard understands that government has already dispatched a team of investigators to South Africa where Kuruneri is funding the construction of a lavish seaside mansion in Llanduno, an exclusive Cape Town suburb. While media reports put the value of the property at R30 million, Kuruneri refuted this saying such valuations were "super nonsense". The mansion would "only" cost R7 million, Kuruneri told the State-controlled Herald. Kuruneri, appointed to Cabinet in a February reshuffle, is said to have contracted Venture Projects and Associates to build the mansion. Reports say the minister has since last year made frequent visits to Cape Town to inspect progress on the property and make cash payments to the contractor. The Standard yesterday heard from police sources that Kuruneri was picked up during a dawn raid by armed policemen at his Belgravia home and was immediately taken to Harare Central Police Station, where he was held in the cells. Official sources, however, indicated it was highly likely he would be moved to another location later yesterday morning. Bvudzijena would not be drawn to reveal where Kuruneri was being held yesterday, saying only that the Minister was in Harare. Kuruneri becomes the latest and highest profile politician to fall foul of President Mugabe's anti-graft campaign. His arrest comes after a senior Zanu PF official, following the party's central committee meeting earlier this month, revealed to The Standard that senior party leaders wanted the Minister investigated for possible breach of exchange control regulations. However, as late as Wednesday, Kuruneri denied he was under any investigation, telling reporters that he had not been contacted by "any State agents". He has denied externalising foreign currency, saying he was financing construction of the mansion using earnings from consultancy services for foreign companies. Kuruneri says he has done consultancy work for Spanish company Felipe Solano since 1992, and for telecommunications firm Mobile Systems International, a losing bidder for Zimbabwe's second mobile phone network in 1997. Although Kuruneri says the companies were not obliged to pay him in Zimbabwe dollars because the jobs were done outside the country, RBZ Governor Gideon Gono - his junior - last week confirmed what this paper had published in its front page lead of April 4 edition saying "resident Zimbabweans who derive earnings from professional consultancy services conducted outside Zimbabwe should - according to the law - deposit their earnings into individual FCAs". The anti-graft campaign has seen the arrest of prominent Zanu PF figures such as the party's MP for Chinhoyi, Philip Chiyangwa, and central committee member, James Makamba, who is into his third month in jail over alleged foreign exchange related charges.
Mudzuri to remain MDC Harare mayoral candidate - Tsvangirai
By our own Staff
MORGAN Tsvangirai the MDC President yesterday said sacked Harare Mayor Elias Mudzuri would be the party's candidate whenever the elections for executive mayor in the capital will be held.
Speaking at a rally in Hatcliff, Tsvangirai said the MDC had nothing to complain about Mudzuri because he worked extremely well in the time he was in office before Local Government Minister Ignatius Chombo interfered."Mudzuri will be our candidate if the elections are to be held within the 90 days as stipulated in the Urban Councils' Act. He worked very well and Zanu PF does not want people who do well and that's all," said Tsvangirai. Chombo has however dismissed holding fresh elections saying he has appointed a committee that he claims will improve the city's service delivery. Said Tsvangirai: "Chombo has so far appointed four or five people to the Harare City Council and what it means is that he has appointed a commission secretly. So what are our councillors doing now?"
'Clean-up or else' soldiers order Harare residents
By our own Staff
UNIFORMED forces and youth militia, on a clean-up campaign of major suburbs in Harare, last week forced people who were going about their business to join in the clean-up exercise.
The campaign comes hardly a week after the dismissal of Harare's first democratically elected mayor Engineer Elias Mudzuri by the government and could be to show residents that services can be improved with acting Mayor Sekesai Makwavarara in control.Makwavarara resigned from the MDC over a month ago and is widely regarded as a protégé and poodle of the Minister of Local Government, Public Works and National Housing Ignatius Chombo who is now effectively running the affairs of the city. Early this month Harare Governor Witness Mangwende launched an operation to clean up the streets of the capital city and its surrounding suburbs. Harare, which has gone for a year without a substantive mayor, has lost its glitter and stacks of garbage can be seen piling up in the city centre. Some of the garbage is so unsightly that Harare can now be ranked among some of the dirtiest cities of the world. Residents from different suburbs of the capital told The Standard yesterday that they were forced to participate in the clean up campaign by the army, the police and the members of the notorious National Youth Service militia. Vendors at flea markets, pedestrians, housewives and cyclists were the main targets for the forced labour. "Some soldiers were commandeering people from their houses, resulting in some locking themselves up," said a Highfield resident. Stewart Chabwinja, a Standard sub editor, was also caught up in the clean-up campaign after a group of soldiers demanded he participate in the exercise in Glen View. "They stopped and said mukoma chimbomirai mbichana pane kabasa kari pano (Wait a bit there is some work for you here). They then pointed to where several other people were sweeping a few metres away. "I pleaded with them saying I was late for work and after debating between themselves they reluctantly allowed me to proceed," said Chabwinja. A woman at Machipisa Shopping Centre in Highfield was ordered to put her groceries down to pick up rubbish near a beerhall where drunkards relieve themselves. A number of cyclists said they were forced to leave their bicycles to join in the exercise, failure of which their tyres would be deflated. "It seems we have gone back to the colonial era days where oppression reigned," said one cyclist who fell victim to the group. On Friday, the group visited parts of Glen Norah where residents say the soldiers and the youth militia conducted a door-to-door campaign forcing people out of their homes. Those who tried to resist, residents said, were assaulted in broad daylight. "They told us that they were getting instructions from their superiors to get us out of our homes and join them," said Lovemore Machengedzera a resident of Glen Norah who is also the personal assistant to Priscilla Misihairabwi, the Member of Parliament for Glen Norah. Misihairabwi, who condemned the groups' conduct, said the soldiers and youths were also forcing children of school going age to join the exercise. "Our understanding was that they are coming for a clean up and not to force people to clean. If people don't want to voluntarily work with you they should not be harassed. What kind of a democratic country is that," fumed Misihairabwi. Police spokesperson Wayne Bvudzijena said the police had not yet received any reports from aggrieved residents. "We don't have such reports. But it is in the interest of everyone to cultivate proper disposal of refuse," said Bvudzijena.
MDC mayors under siege
By Caiphas Chimhete
OPPOSITION Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) mayors in the urban centres say they now feel very insecure following last week's dismissal of Harare executive mayor Engineer Elias Mudzuri by President Robert Mugabe.
They believe there is a grand plan being orchestrated by Zanu PF to usurp the control of the urban centres - which have been the MDC's stronghold - ahead of the 2005 plebiscite.Already the ruling party has created positions for governors for Zimbabwe's two largest cities, Harare and Bulawayo, which analysts say are meant to neutralise the powers of the popularly elected executive mayors. Even in the eastern border town of Mutare, there are signs of a campaign aimed at getting rid of elected mayor Misheck Magurabadza and replace him with a government appointed commission. "The events are building up very fast. Last week, a group of people wanted an audience with Chombo and demanded the mayor's resignation," said a senior Mutare council official. Ignatius Chombo is the Minister of Local Government, Public Works and National Housing, who engineered Mudzuri's dismissal. Already, at the Civic Centre, the complex that houses the offices of the Mutare mayor, names of two senior Zanu PF officials - businessmen Shadreck Beta and Enock Porusingazi - are already being touted as the possible appointees of the new commission to run the affairs of the city. The two officials could not be reached for a comment last week. But Kagurabadza said events in Mutare, where the council consists of 17 MDC councillors and one Zanu PF member, were worrying and detrimental to the development of the eastern border city. "Initially, I thought it was purely a civic matter which we could address amicably but I have now realised that it is political. Their demands are unrealistic and this is not good for the development of the city," said Kagurabadza. Analysts said the demonstrations are an attempt by Zanu PF to create "imaginary disgruntlement" by residents of Mutare and this would give Chombo an excuse to intervene on the pretext of trying to rescue the situation. The same situation os now obtaining in the resort town of Kariba which fell into the hands of MDC last year. Bulawayo Executive Mayor and vice-president of the Urban Councils Association, Japhet Ndabeni-Ncube said although Chombo had not threatened him with dismissal, events on the ground are leading to a collision course with Mugabe's appointee, Bulawayo Governor Cain Mathema. Ndabeni-Ncube told The Standard that Mathema addressed Cowdray Park residents last week and attacked the city council for slashing maize planted in stream banks and demolishing illegal tuckshops. "I was actually puzzled because if Mathema had a problem, my door is always open. He is trying to create conditions for us to clash and that would be used against me by the authorities," said Ndabeni-Ncube. Mathema could not be reached for a comment. Masvingo Executive Mayor Alois Chaimiti said it was possible any MDC mayor could face the same fate as Mudzuri. "However, it appears they are not very worried about the small local authorities like us but larger cities, where their influence matters most," said Chaimiti Blessing Dhlakama, the Chegutu Executive Mayor who has on several occasions been threatened with eviction from council offices by Zanu PF supporters, could not reached for a comment. Other urban centres where there are MDC mayors are Victoria Falls Gweru, Gwanda and Kariba. In Harare, Chombo has already appointed a team led by Jameson Kurasha to monitor the city's service delivery system. Ironically, Kurasha headed the committee thatprobed Mudzuri's activities at Town House. Mudzuri, dismissed by Mugabe on allegations of mismanagement and corruption last week, had been on suspension since April 29 last year. The siege on mayors by Zanu PF comes amid reports that the ruling party was enticing poverty-stricken MDC councillors to resign en masse from the opposition party in return for houses and monetary rewards before the 2005 general elections.
Finance ministry still alive - Chris Kuruneri
By Rangarirai Mberi
FINANCE and Economic Development Minister Chris Kuruneri last week moved to deny charges that his ministry has been paralysed by a more aggressive Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe.
Kuruneri insisted that he is made aware of all policy initiated by RBZ Governor Gideon Gono before implementation, contrary to growing concern that the RBZ governor has now taken over the running of the country's economy."That's not true. There is nothing that the Governor is doing that we do not communicate about," Kuruneri told business leaders at a meeting on Thursday. "They are not acting outside government policy," Kuruneri added. Kuruneri's remarks came a month after a seven-member International Monetary Fund team which toured the country criticised what it said was the ceding of the administration of Zimbabwe's economy to the RBZ. Sources who attended meetings with the IMF reported that the group had confronted government officials over the matter. Kuruneri, the IMF group reportedly said, had become a "spectator" while the RBZ set about managing business that was supposed to be handled by his office. "They (IMF) observed that the power of management of policy has shifted to the Reserve Bank leaving a gap in the Ministry of Finance which is really the heart of management of macro-economic policy," a source said then. Gono's arrival at central bank in December brought a sharp turn in the RBZ's approach to policy, as the former Jewel Bank boss chose to follow a characteristically robust approach. Gono has assumed duties previously reserved for the Finance Ministry, key among them being the management of the exchange rate. He introduced a foreign exchange auction system in January, through which he has allowed the Zimbabwe dollar to depreciate, a feat which previous Finance Ministers failed to achieve. The RBZ has also recently assumed the responsibility of licensing banks, which was previously the responsibility of the Registrar of Banks, an office in the Ministry of Finance that has now become redundant. Central bank now also licenses asset management firms, micro-finance institutions and money transfer agencies. Last Wednesday, Gono used a review of his first quarter in office to put forward a raft of proposals he says are needed to turn around Zimbabwe's debt-choked parastatals, a move which added to the belief he has encroached into fiscal policy. "I think, if anything, it's a sign that there is a big hole on the fiscal side of economic management. Gono would have no need to play Finance Minister if there was as much zeal there as we have from the monetary side of things," a banker commented last week.
From born again Christians to born-again guzzlers
Talented Taibu WE have decided that there really is so much to talk about in this country - and indeed the world over - rather than concentrate on the nauseating antics of Jonathan Nathaniel Manheru Moyo and his lap dog, the dim witted George Charamba.
In a week when a tiny young man - with a heart as huge as the Zambezi - captivated the whole nation by his astuteness in assembling a team of equally gallant young fighters to give the visiting highly-fancied Sri Lankan cricket team a run for their money, it would be foolhardy to concentrate on Nutty Nathaniel or whether he planted his wild oats in Filabusi, Disneyland or wherever.Taibu, as the youngest and the first black national cricket team captain, might have wished that the mantle was passed to him under different circumstances. Or perhaps facing mere mortals such as the likes of Kenya and Bangladesh, at their best the worst Test cricket playing countries. After it emerged that racism was rife within Zimbabwean cricket (by the way cricket is Uncle Bob's favourite game) with the back bone of the national squad - 13 white players - boycotting the Sri Lanka matches unless Heath Streak was reinstated captain, cricket lovers braced themselves for a rout. Besides Taibu himself, Douglas Hondo, Deon Ibrahim and Stuart Matsikinyere, who the hell were those other young guys - the Panyangares or Taylors or Maregwedes? These young men were to prove many critics wrong, putting up a commendable performance against world class performers such as Sanath Jayasuriya, Chaminda Vaas, Marvin Atapattu and of course, the great Muttiah Muralitharan himself. Taibu and his warriors have shown that no matter how big or fearsome the adversary is - and we mean real menacing characters such as facing a bouncer from a fired up Chaminda Vaas - a good leader and his team should stand their ground. Taibu and his group of young fighters are testimony that despite the antics of paper tigers such as the Nutty Professor, all hope is not lost in this country. So enjoy the cricket if you are lucky enough to be at the Harare Sports Club. If you are watching it on TV, use the time when they play "Sendekera" to visit the bathroom. Place in the sun ONE of the greatest tragedies of this country is that we of late have become too pre-occupied with our own sorry lot. Harare, and of course Zimbabwe, used to be a vibrant place with young people bristling with ideas and talent. The newspapers were full of ideas, discussions and opinions on almost every subject on earth. Great writers such as the late Willie Musarurwa, the late Malachia Madimutsa, the late Masipula Sithole, the late Kempton Makamure, Chenjerai Hove - who is now in self exile - and many others, used to provoke, taunt, praise and mock - all in the same vein - as they tried to shape debates on anything from public toilets to the problems in the Middle East. There were great poets too - Musaemura Zimunya, Dambudzo Marechera, the young Chirikure Chirikure and many more. Who can forget Jonathan Moyo's well written and thought provoking articles in the now defunct Sunday Times as the then University of Zimbabwe professor week in, week out - and without fail - dissected Uncle Bob's (to Jonathan then) ruinous policies? Yes, the same Jonathan Nathaniel Manheru Moyo whom today we said we will not allow to dominate this column. Who can forget the blood-and-thunder editorials in support of Fidel Castro or socialism by the late unashamed Communist, the veritable Charles Chikerema when he edited the now sinking Sunday Mail? Where are the Zimbabwean writers of conscience when Israel is bombing to smithereens all the leaders of Palestine? When Aids is decimating the nation and the only government response is to provide free anti-retrovirals. Where are the poets to sing the virtues - or the vicissitudes - of the land reform programme? Why have the real writers gone silent and allowed cheapskates to dominate the debate in this country? Or is it that they have they all gone fat and lazy and prefer to stay quiet in the hope that one day they also would be rewarded with a piece of a former commercial farm - their own little place in the sun. Born-again guzzlers THERE is a story doing the rounds that one of the bankers who was forced to flee the country after his empire collapsed, is now hitting the bottle very hard in Europe. They say the man - a born again Christian who used to host lunchtime prayers in Harare for the trendy and faithful - cannot fully fathom his sudden fall from grace that he has found solace in that age-old tranquilliser, beer. This is but one of the stories that are tantalising bar talk at most of the top drinking places in town. The other story is that one of the most flamboyant of the bankers, who also escaped the clutches of Uncle Bob's police, was in actual fact a notorious wife batter who also kept a string of lovers in comfort all over the capital city. They say despite this man's gentlemanly appearance as a well-to-do man of letters and a patron of the arts, our senior banker was really an old lecher who preyed on female staff workers at his establishment and frequently beat up his long suffering wife. Woodpecker has been told that many of the exiled bankers were hoping that Reserve Bank Governor Gideon Gono would this week offer them some sort of respite in his quarterly review of the monetary policy. Many of them must be drowning their sorrows because, despite a flurry of secret missions and appeals, nothing much seems to have moved the RBZ to extend any form of amnesty to the embattled bankers. It is no wonder then that the thought of being seen photographed in leg irons - or spending more than three months at the vile remand prison like has happened to James Makamba - is enough to send one scurrying for cover in the nearest bar. One more whisky and soda, please, gov'nor.
Gono's half measures will not help
WHAT is badly needed in Zimbabwe is a cure for the disease that afflicts our nation. Gideon Gono, the Reserve Bank governor is not and will never provide that cure. There should be no pretence about this.
The best medicine to cure Zimbabwe's chronic economic and political illness will be crucial surgery and the excision of those diseased parts of the body that are beyond treatment.Essentially this means President Robert Mugabe stepping down and making way for firm believers in dialogue to bring about a political solution to the problems facing this country. That is the only way to restore faith and confidence in our political and economic system in the eyes of Zimbabweans at home and abroad as well as the international community. In the meantime, the anti-graft crusade is a step in the right direction. But it must be fair and transparent and the net must be cast far and wide to include top Zanu PF politicians and ministers who have been looting the country's resources left, right and centre. President Mugabe's pledge that no one will be spared however big politically, must be translated into action. 'Action and action now' is what should be delivered. It is in this light that we view the arrest yesterday of the Minister of Finance and Economic Development, Christopher Kuruneri to face charges of alleged externalisation of foreign currency. After Kuruneri admitted that he is building a luxurious mansion in Cape Town, South Africa, questions were raised about the source of the substantial amounts involved and it is now up to the authorities to speedily investigate and established the truth or otherwise in this matter. We dare say that bigger fish than Kuruneri have yet to be netted. But Important as the anti-corruption drive is, the most crucial step that will redeem Zimbabwe is Mugabe calling it a day. As long as he remains at the helm very little will change. This has been said over and over again but as long as it is not being heeded we and many others will continue saying it. We will only stop saying it once our prayer has been answered by greater powers than ourselves. Offering a bandage here and a bandage there as Gono is doing is not the way forward. He is indeed upfront about his approach but he is wrong - dead wrong. There is no public confidence in what he is doing. Only the ruling Zanu PF and the few fawning Zanu PF aligned-businessmen are falling over each in praise of last week's first review of the monetary policy. The question might well be asked: What evidence is there for anyone to think that things have or are changing as a result of the monetary policy statement announced by Gono in December last year? The number of the jobless is increasing. Prices of goods and services continue to run riot. Inflation at around 583% remains unacceptably high. Forex continues to be in acute short supply. Many sectors have or are collapsing notably health, education and tourism. The country itself remains a pariah in the family of nations. What then is so impressive about Gono's review? People must not praise mere mortals for the sake of praising. There is too much praise for a man who though might have good intentions but has misplaced optimism because the problem is not economic but fundamentally political. This is the crux of the matter. The hype and kooky opining by the so called analysts and commentators does not help anyone. It is not healthy for the Zimbabwean public neither is it healthy for the analysts themselves. The challenges that we face in this country require that journalists and others be skeptical. Of course, we need to avoid the usual journalistic cynicism but intelligent skepticism can and should be compatible with a basic belief in progress and a faith in humanity's capacity for making things better. The point is that things are not getting better in this country - Gono or no Gono. The impoverished rural dwellers, the long-suffering urban population and the unemployed are not seeing any evidence of change for the better in their lives. This is the reality on the ground and until that reality changes, people will continue to say 'so what' about Gono's reviews. No amount of reassurance from the State media will change people's feelings because they are living the problems on a daily basis. A genuine sifting of the clutter that has saturated the media during the past few days and synthesising what is important clearly shows that what Gono is doing is merely tinkering with the edges. In the absence of addressing the political and humanitarian crisis in Zimbabwe, no amount of quarterly monetary policy reviews will make much difference. The monetary policy might be a genuine and sincere attempt to improve things on the economic front but this is merely dealing with the symptoms of the disease rather than the root cause of it. The root cause is our political system which has gone badly wrong and everybody knows that. We need a totally different approach: A change of the guards at State House to kick start the process which will eventually result in a political solution that every Zimbabwean can and should buy into.
The shine is off Harare's once bustling 'Wall Street'
By Kumbirai Mafunda
IT was once referred to as Zimbabwe's own "Wall Street": to the West it is anchored by the State's Zimbank and to the East it's bedrock is the private Premier Discount Company.
This is Samora Machel Avenue, the avenue where most of Zimbabwe's cream de la creme in the banking industry is located.Talk of Trust Bank, Century Bank, First Bank, Barclays Bank, Kingdom Bank, Stanchart, CABS, Bard, Royal Bank, Renaissance Merchant Bank and the giant Reserve bank: they are all within this enclave. Just behind Samora Machel Avenue is Kwame Nkrumah Avenue named after the late Ghanaian president which accommodates the Jewel Bank, NMB, Intermarket, the Stock Exchange and earlier on Barbican. This is the sector that has been described as the torchbearer of the country's indigenisation and empowerment programme. However, the glitter is now peeling off from the once shining example of President Robert Mugabe's indigenisation programme since the monetary policy announced late last year began to play havoc with their operations. Ever since former Jewel Bank head Gideon Gono became the third central bank chief since independence from Britain in 1980 last year, the lot of the small black-run banks has never been easy. He has cracked the whip and punished those whose books were not properly done. To date most of the indigenous banks that sprouted in the mid 1990s are in trouble. "The curtain is being drawn against the era for the proliferation of weak, poorly managed financial institutions dependant on cheap and unlimited central bank credit," Gono warned in December last year. His ominous statement was soon followed by the scrapping off of cheap liquidity to banks that were abusing the facility by venturing into speculative activities such as equities, property investments and trading in foreign currency. The destraining of interest rates from a regime of 80% to as high as 900% immediately exposed the soft belly of some of the young institutions resulting in the dramatic collapse of Century Discount House (CDH), a subsidiary of ENG Capital which also folded in early January. "Regulatory authorities in particular the RBZ failed in its supervisory role with regards to the new players in the financial sectors," said opposition Movement for Democratic Change shadow finance minister Tendai Biti. "Evidence of rampant ill-discipline and potential abuse of investors' funds was reflected in the lifestyles of this new breed of super rich kulaks. The bubble had to burst at some stage," observed Biti. The ENG saga sucked in other prominent Mugabe supporters such as black economic empowerment activist Phillip Chiyangwa. Immediately, as an aftermath of the Reserve Bank's crackdown on errand financial institutions, many of them began to choke under the liquidity squeeze. This was as a result of the spectacular rise in interest rates, which exposed over-borrowed banks and companies. Bankers immediately quelled reports of being technically bankrupt. It was reported that six banks were in the red. The first bank to be exposed was Trust Holdings founded by William Nyemba. The central bank ordered the ejection of Nyemba, Chris Goromonzi and Nyevero Hlupo from Trust as a pre-condition for financial succor. Century Bank was soon pleading for a bailout under the Troubled Banks Fund set up by Gono to assist tormented institutions in a sudden reversal of his December statement during which he declared no cheap funds would be made available to banks. Trust and Century were soon joined in the intensive care unit by Mthuli Ncube's Barbican and Enoch Kamushinda's Metropolitan. "There is need for us to consolidate and take stock. We have over 25 applications in the pipeline but we will try and make sure that they don't come in by raising entry requirements," said Gono, in February. Minimum capital requirements for commercial banks, previously pegged at $500 million, were hiked to $10 billion while requirements for asset management companies were set at $500 million. Since the monetary policy was announced, the industry has been awash with rumours that one after the other of the black commercial banks was in distress. Despite denials by bank public relations executives and some of the concerned bankers themselves, the market was shocked when the central bank last month moved on the giant Intermarket Holdings closing down its commercial bank and building society. To explain its action, the RBZ said Intermarket was in an unsafe and unsound condition owing to imprudent banking behaviour characterised by non-performing insider loans. Bank chief Nicholas Vengerai was soon reported to have skipped the country. Trust Holdings' Group Economist David Mupamhadzi said what was important was for the RBZ to advise the investing community to appreciate the changes being done. Whatever happens, it is clear that Zimbabwe's "Wall Street" will never be the same again
Jaundiced view of Park View
eatingout with Dusty Miller
CELLPHONES. Blessings, blooming nuisances. Leaving an almost empty club on a chill, dark, guti Easter Monday, planning warmed-up curry, milky drink, first early night for weeks, mine rang.
Vivacious voice of bubbly Ellen-Marie, a leggy half-French, half-Latin-American known over 30 years. Her pa was leader of the opposition in an oil-rich Banana Republic (probably shot long ago.) She was a probationary probation officer in a grim north of England city. We, and two other hacks, shared a fun-filled mess (in both senses of the word.) Lost touch, then met her in Manicaland: she'd been painting wildlife, landscapes, Mozambican seascapes. We've since met occasionally in Ha-ha-ha-rare (Africa's fun capital)RVd at Le Francais, the excellent, privately-run, French restaurant at the Monomatapa Hotel. On the phone, she'd insisted on paying. We compromised; agreed to go Dutch. It was shut. (Many restaurants were at Easter...why?) We started towards Park View brasserie (uneasily in my case...last visit was an unmitigated disaster) when her mobile rang. A lift to Namibia must set off hours earlier than planned, she'd to leave now and pack. Tssk. Tssk. Goodnight peck. Sorry, doll! Totsiens. Tssk. Tssk. Well I wasn't leaving. Park View must, surely, have improved? Over-optimistic sign reads: Please Queue Here To Be Seated. Pontius was a pilot last time it was needed. Just 16 customers; more empty seats than at a Professor Moyo Star Rally. Winter-- a month early - found me inadequately clad. Straight to steaming soup cauldrons: cream of vegetable or tomato; rolls, butter, crunchy croutons. I chose the former: substantial, solid, soothing, satisfying. Waiter brought a lager, asking - brusquely - how I'd pay: "Cash ... or cheque." I shrugged. "No cheques now," he snapped. "Oh no, not another place," I thought, tired of carrying bundles of Mickey Mouse boodle in case I choose wrong restaurant or see a garage where I can quickly fill up. "Cash or credit card, then ... I'll do a Jewish reveille (wallet check) just now." Had I only a cheque book, it was really a bit late to get stroppy: first course over, half a chilled article of a modestly intoxicating nature downed. Not salad weather. but sampled from tempting display: beef and vegetable, cucumber, carrot and raisin, tomato and onion, pasta and herb, French, tuna and potato salad. Cold roast chicken, salted-cured ham, roast sliced lamb with dressings, sauces, but only mild US-style mustard. (Why no proper hot English, tasty Dijon or German mustard?) Enjoyed all but the pasta: un-drained, soggy. Disappointingly short, disproportionately dear wine list. Local whites/roses $42 000, reds $54 000; imported whites $140 000; one rose: Boschendal $150 000; only three (good) RSA reds: $160 000. JC le Roux: $185 000. Eye opener: earlier I'd seen a young policeman drink pink "JC" by the pint in an outlet where it was "only" $60 000. Should a young ("straight") copper have that sort of scratch weeks from pay-day? Lagers were, astoundingly, $9 800 each; sank two in ignorance. Caveat emptor: cheapest Pilsener bought over Easter: $2 200 at a club. Hot section : chicken casserole, spagBol (looked like cottage pie), beef stew, hake; steamed rice, "turned" roast potatoes, sadza, mixed glazed vegies. I mainly ignored it, had a little roast loin of pork with bland apple sauce. "Turned" potatoes, almost raw, needed turning much longer; meat grossly over-cooked, dry, insipid. Crackling, thick as armour-plating, super-saturated in fat, lacked crackle, crunch, crispiness. All served on unprofessionally cold plate. Left most of it, ordering a small Mongolian braai instead. Stir-fried fish goujons, chicken breast, pork fillet with rice, noodles and vegetables arrived. Bit tastier than the roast. Not mad about buffets/carveries; having a smallish appetite, don't do justice to them. Arguably the two best in town are Pavilion, Meikles and Sheraton's Harvest Garden where displays constantly freshened up or replaced, until terminal hour. My previous Park View call was behind an impi of snivel serpents lunching during a talkfest. Not a pleasant sight (neither debris of displays, nor plates piled so high not another pea would safely balance.) On this latest trip, no more than 20 punters at any time, but yawning gaps, especially in pudding display. After a soupçon of cheese and grapes, I'd a competent small fresh fruit salad with a vanilla ice, dollop of agreeable chocolate mousse. Ten items listed but five missing at 8pm. Ended with acceptable, but undistinguished, filter coffee. Except grumpy drinks waiter, staff were friendly and helpful. Park View's a characterless eatery, lacking charm, warmth, ambience. Food dearish and disappointing, drinks outrageously priced. Chatted to a silver-haired husband and wife team of earnestly naive visiting TWOG (third-world-groupie) professors from Noo Yawk, but yobbo opposite, in reversed baseball cap bellowing in mobile, vexed. Buffet/carvery for one, two beers: $104 600. One star. Easter 2004. Park View Restaurant, Crowne Plaza Monomotapa Hotel, Harare CBD. Open breakfast, lunch, supper daily.
Lowest ever turnout at ZITF
By Savious Kwinika
BULAWAYO - With only a handful of international exhibitors coming, defying government expectations that countries from the Far East would come in large numbers, this year's Zimbabwe International Trade Fair (ZITF), gets under way this week under a cloud of economic and political uncertainty.
Standard inquiries established that only Indonesia from the Asian bloc had confirmed its participation, although government media reported that China would also be coming.The ZITF is this year experiencing its lowest turnout of both locally and foreign exhibitors as a result of the unfavourable economic environment and the negative publicity the country has received abroad. Most of the large companies that have been dominant in the past have indicated they will not participate this year citing serious viability problems, leaving indigenous enterprises and the informal sector dominating the show. ZITF Marketing and public relations manager, Cecilia Bhebhe, said only 555 exhibitors have confirmed participation. While six European and one Asian country participated at the ZITF last year, this year only one European country - Austria - has so far confirmed its participation. The government, bouyed by Mugabe's "Look east policy" had hoped that Far East countries would flood the ZITF , sending a signal that they were ready to help Zimbabwe out of its economic problems. However the Minister of International Trade and Commerce, Samuel Mumbengegwi told journalists in Bulawayo that only Indonesia had confirmed its participation. "We were anticipating economic giants from the Far East states but it is only Indonesia that confirmed its participation. "Nevertheless, we hope Malaysia and other Asian countries will try to emulate Indonesia and probably confirm their participation participation," said Mumbengegwi a week ago.
Exiled cricketer Henry Olonga has called for a sporting boycott of Zimbabwe, as Australian team bosses press ahead with preparations to tour the troubled African nation next month.
Olonga, who fled into exile after his black armband protest with Zimbabwe team-mate Andy Flower during last year's World Cup, told Channel Seven that he understood the reasons for Australia to proceed with its tour.
But he said Zimbabwe's government should be left in no doubt that the international community regarded its policies as unacceptable.
"I think the right thing to do is for countries to boycott going on tours to Zimbabwe as a strong message to the government that they will not lend any succour to this abhorrent regime," he said.
"I'm not going to be one to sit in judgement over countries that do go to Zimbabwe. I understand the arguments of Glenn McGrath and other players who are willing to go there."
Australian spinner Stuart MacGill ignited a boycott debate this week when he declared himself unavailable for the tour on moral grounds.
MacGill's decison was followed by press reports that other prominent Australian players were considering following his lead in protest against the regime of President Robert Mugabe.
McGrath and Darren Lehmann have been among the players to come out in favour of the tour.
The controversy comes as Zimbabwe cricket grapples with a rebellion from 15 white players, including former skipper Heath Streak.
The rebels have made themselves unavailable for selection in protest at the Zimbabwe Cricket Union's selection policies.
England last visited Zimbabwe in October 2001
England are set to head to Zimbabwe in October but the ECB does not want the tour to go-ahead for moral reasons.
However if England boycott without government intervention, the ECB could be penalised heavily.
Morgan told the BBC: "If the government instruct us that we should not go, that is acceptable non-compliance."
So far the government has stated it is not in a position to issue a directive.
But the ECB will meet with Foreign Secretary Jack Straw on 4 May.
Leader of the Commons Peter Hain said last week England should follow Australia spinner Stuart MacGill's lead and refuse to tour the strife-torn country.
Morgan added: "It will be interesting to hear what they [the Foreign Office] have got to say.
"I would hope there would be a resolution that would see us conducting our business - which is the business of cricket."
The issue has been further clouded by the 15 leading Zimbabwe players are currently refusing to play in protest at the sacking of captain Heath Streak and controversial selection policies.
A second-string side has been playing against Sri Lanka and has been thrashed in two of the three one-day internationals played so far.
On Sunday they were skittled for 35, the lowest ever one-day international total.
|Zimbabwean finance minister arrested on corruption charges|
|www.chinaview.cn 2004-04-25 16:14:26|
HARARE, April 25 (Xinhuanet) -- The Zimbabwean police have disclosed that Finance Minister Chris Kuruneri had been arrested for allegedly externalizing more than 1.1 million US dollars over the past two years, it was reported here on Sunday.
Police chief spokesman Assistant Inspector Wayne Bvudzijena wasquoted as saying on Saturday that Kuruneri, minister of finance and economic development, was arrested on the same day and facing charges of contravening the Exchange Control Act.
Bvudzijena said that the finance minister is expected to appearin court soon after being charged.
Kuruneri is the highest-ranking public official to be arrested since the anti-corruption crackdown began in December last year.
He also become the second sitting cabinet minister to be arrested in the past five years following former minister of landsand agriculture Kumbirai Kangai, who was arrested on corruption charges in 2000.
President Robert Mugabe has repeatedly warned that the anti-corruption crackdown will not spare anyone who committed crimes, including top government officials.
Sunday April 25, 2004 12:57 PM
The England and Wales Cricket Board have made another plea for government
intervention over their proposed tour to strife-torn Zimbabwe. ECB chairman David Morgan has stressed his belief that without specific
instruction from the Commons England would have no choice but to tour. The ECB
could face a crippling financial penalty from the International Cricket Council
if they are forced to make their own decision to boycott Zimbabwe. Morgan, who is due to meet officials from the Foreign Office again next week,
told BBC Radio 5 Live: "It will be interesting to hear what they (the Foreign
Office) have got to say. I would hope there would be a resolution that would see
us conducting our business - which is the business of cricket." © Copyright Press Association Ltd 2004, All Rights Reserved.
The England and Wales Cricket Board have made another plea for government intervention over their proposed tour to strife-torn Zimbabwe.
ECB chairman David Morgan has stressed his belief that without specific instruction from the Commons England would have no choice but to tour. The ECB could face a crippling financial penalty from the International Cricket Council if they are forced to make their own decision to boycott Zimbabwe.
Morgan, who is due to meet officials from the Foreign Office again next week, told BBC Radio 5 Live: "It will be interesting to hear what they (the Foreign Office) have got to say. I would hope there would be a resolution that would see us conducting our business - which is the business of cricket."
© Copyright Press Association Ltd 2004, All Rights Reserved.
|Zimbabwe hit rock bottom in Harare||25/04/04|
|Home side out for record low 35
Sri Lanka reached 40 for one to beat Zimbabwe by nine wickets in the third one-day international in Harare. The tourists lead the five-match series 3-0.
Chasing Zimbabwe's record low total of 35, Sri Lanka cruised to another easy victory, surpassing the target in less than ten overs.
Russel Arnold, promoted up the order to open the innings, was the only wicket to fall for Sri Lanka, edging Douglas Hondo to Tatenda Taibu. Saman Jayantha, however, hammered 28 from just 26 balls, including a six that took the tourists past the target.
Zimbabwe's total eclipsed the previous low of 36, Canada's innings score against Sri Lanka at Paarl during last year's World Cup in South Africa.
It was a reckless batting display from the home side, who simply had no answer to the Vaas obtained swing and movement off the seam obtained by Chaminda Vaas
The left-arm paceman was virtually unplayable on a lively pitch of inconsistent bounce and finished with four for 12 in nine overs. The haul also saw him become the second Sri Lankan to take 300 one-day wickets after off spinner Muttiah Muralitharan.
No Zimbabwe batsman reached double figures at Harare Sports Club, Dion Ebrahim top-scoring with seven. There were four ducks.
Opener Brendan Taylor was caught by Tillekeratne Dilshan at short leg for four off Vaas, while Ebrahim drove loosely at a ball from Dilhara Fernando and was caught behind by wicketkeeper Kumar Sangakkara.
Seven balls later, Zimbabwe had plummeted to 19 for five, losing four wickets for just one run. Taibu was dismissed first ball, effectively setting up a hat-trick for Fernando.
Elton Chigumbura survived the hat-trick ball before being bowled by Vaas for a duck in the ninth over as he aimed an expansive drive. The last nine wickets crashed for just 17 runs.
Fernando two for 18 in six overs, while debutant paceman Mohamed Maharoof bowled the remaining three overs, taking three for three.