|The ZIMBABWE Situation||Our
thoughts and prayers are with Zimbabwe |
- may peace, truth and justice prevail.
Mugabe again rules out talks with MDC
Monday April 05, 2004 07:20 - (SA)
Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe has again ruled out talks with the main opposition party, describing his political rivals as "enemies" of national unity, a report said Sunday.
The state-run Sunday Mail quoted Mugabe as saying the opposition worked with outsiders to undermine the embattled country's sovereignty.
"There is no room for unity with those that do not believe that this country and its forests, animals, even snakes and mosquitoes belong to us," Mugabe told the paper.
"Those who work hand in glove with the enemy to impose sanctions on our country and those who are sponsored by the enemy to subvert our national sovereignty ... are indeed the enemies of this unity," he added.
The 80-year-old leader accused the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), which poses the biggest threat to his 24-year hold on power, of being a front for Western countries bent on overthrowing his government.
Earlier this year Mugabe said in an interview to mark his 80th birthday that his party would not hold talks with the MDC unless they were seen to sever their alleged links with the West.
The political temperature in Zimbabwe has been rising ahead of next year's parliamentary elections, as the ruling Zimbabwe African National Union Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF) claimed a victory in an MDC stronghold after a low voter turnout.
Last week Mugabe threatened to put the opposition to "eternal sleep" in polls due in March next year, while MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai warned of the "chaos that awaits the nation in 2005".
Mugabe land-grab advice
By Christopher Munnion in Johannesburg
President Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe has begun to export his government's expertise on the most effective methods of seizing farms from white landowners.
A team of Zimbabwean "land redistribution experts" arrived in Namibia yesterday to advise the government of President Sam Nujoma.
Namibia, a sprawling mineral-rich state in south-western Africa, has announced that it will soon start the forcible expropriation of white-owned land for "redistribution to the landless masses".
The government claims that about 4,000 white farmers, most of them of German and Afrikaner descent, own nearly half the arable land in the country.
Mr Nujoma, one of the most faithful supporters and admirers of Mr Mugabe, has said he regards Zimbabwe's land redistribution programme as "a model for Africa".
This is despite the fact that the forced removal of several thousand white farmers from their land has led to the near collapse of the economy, unemployment, starvation, violence and an annual inflation rate of more than 600 per cent.
White farmers in Namibia have said they are prepared to discuss reasonable land redistribution as long as proper compensation is agreed and all dealings are carried out under law.
"We are obviously alarmed that they are taking advice from Zimbabwe," one said.
"The Zimbabwean land grab has been an economic disaster and most of the farms taken over by the government in Harare were simply handed out to the ruling party elite rather than landless people."
By Moshoeshoe Monare
Zimbabwe's Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) says should it win power, it would not return land to evicted white farmers.
"We cannot go back to the pre-2000 situation in which Mr Joe Bloke who has now run away, is in Australia, we say come and get back your land. We cannot go back to that," said MDC president Morgan Tsvangirai, in an interview.
Invaders headed by war veterans took over farms in 1999, chasing white farmers away in an action sanctioned by the ruling Zanu-PF.
|Invaders headed by war veterans took over farms in 1999|
|'We cannot reverse what has been done'|
|Zimbabwe to amend mining act|
|www.chinaview.cn 2004-04-04 16:01:25|
HARARE, April 4 (Xinhuanet) -- The Zimbabwean government is proposing to amend the present Mines and Minerals Act to give locals a 49 percent equity in all foreign and private mining concerns as part of its accelerated black empowerment drive, the Sunday Mail reported.
A draft of the Mines and Minerals Amendment Bill will be soon tabled in the parliament, which will seek to amend the present Mines and Minerals Act to give 49 percent shareholding to "historically disadvantaged persons."
Public listed mining operations will offer 25 percent equity tolocals while foreign and privately owned mines will offer a 49 percent equity.
The draft bill, which was last week widely circulated to several stakeholders such as multinational companies, the Chamber of Mines and privately owned mining enterprises, is understood to have sent tremors throughout the mining sector, with some foreign companies reportedly resisting the move.
The draft bill defines historically disadvantaged persons as "any person, category of persons or community disadvantaged by unfair discrimination before April 18, 1980."
The draft bill is said to be receiving strong opposition from some foreign mining companies who were reportedly worried by the 49 percent quantum.
It is said that some foreign and privately owned mining companies were crying foul, saying the bill was negative and amounted to "nationalization" of their operations.
Minister of Mines and Mining Development Amos Midzi said that his ministry was presently engaging in extensive consultations with the various stakeholders in the mining sector.
"We are going to do it in such a way that it does not affect the present mining operations," explained Midzi.
Through the consultations, the ministry's objective would be toensure an increase in the mining sector's contribution to the country's gross domestic product (GDP).
Presently, the mining sector contributes about 6 percent to thecountry's GDP.
Meanwhile, Permanent Secretary for Mines and Mining DevelopmentEdgar Chiguduhas said there was no need for panic in the mining sector as the draft bill was still open to amendments before the drafting of the final bill to be presented to the parliament.
"There is no reason for panic as the draft was just an internalpaper prepared as a basis for discussion with the relevant stakeholders and the mining industry," said Chigudu.
Zimbabwe's financial sector now displays the classical symptoms of a country caught in hyperinflation. Many financial companies face collapse.
The pattern, says Standard Bank African banking economist Robert Bunyi, is always the same and begins with a government striving to keep debt costs low as inflation spirals upwards. In turn, resultant low nominal interest rates trigger speculative buying of real assets, such as property, vehicles and shares. This is exactly what has been happening in Zimbabwe.
It occurs through arbitrage between interest rates and inflation rates. Banks pay 20%-40% on deposits and finance the purchase of assets that are appreciating at 40%/month or more, thanks to inflation. "Large amounts of funds advanced by many banks were channelled through companies owned by their shareholders," says Paul Singsworth, head of Imara Group's asset management operation in Zimbabwe.
"The next classical step is for government to clamp down on speculation, as is happening in Zimbabwe," says Bunyi. Steps taken to eliminate the arbitrage opportunity include price control and drastic interest rate increases with advances being made at 500% or higher to all but manufacturers and exporters, which are still entitled to borrow at 30%. Simultaneously, the central bank has closed the cheap-money window to banks. Effectively the supply of cash from banks to fund speculative buying and service debt has been cut off. As a result, the Harare industrial index almost halved over the past six months after its 22 300% rise between 2000 and late 2003.
In desperation, troubled banks began offering rates of up to 650% for short-term deposits. Early this year, sensing danger, retailers began refusing to accept cheques drawn against many banks. The reserve bank is extending liquidity support to some institutions such as Trust Bank. Others have succumbed. In March alone two banks, Intermarket & Barbican and Century Discount House, folded.
"Under these conditions, only banks that can stand on their own feet can survive," says Bunyi. Not surprisingly, there is a flight to quality by depositors that, in Zimbabwe, is now limited to four institutions: Barclays, Standard Chartered, Standard Bank's Stanbic Zimbabwe, and the Old Mutual-controlled Central African Building Society.
"They remain very profitable and though bad debt levels are likely to reflect Zimbabwe's plight, they should remain largely unscathed," says Bunyi. He also sees "very little risk to SA banks".
"Many banking licences have been cancelled by the central bank," says Bunyi. New regulations are also flowing rapidly from the central bank, now headed by Gideon Gono, who was appointed in December.
Despite inflation already running at almost 500%/year, "things can still get worse. Nothing will change without a political settlement," says Bunyi.
Businesses relocate outside city centre
US$300 million traded on RBZ auction system
Zanu PF wants Kuruneri probed
By Rangarirai Mberi
SENIOR ruling Zanu PF party officials want Finance Minister, Christopher Kuruneri to be investigated for possible externalisation of foreign currency, sources told The Standard yesterday.
Ruling party officials said senior Zanu PF figures were pushing for a probe into Kuruneri’s assets at the party’s Central Committee meeting held on Friday.“They want the net to close in on the Minister of Finance as well. This should show how serious we are,” a Zanu PF official source said. Didymus Mutasa, Minister of Special Affairs responsible for Anti-corruption and Anti-monopolies, would not comment on the reports yesterday, saying he was in a meeting. Kuruneri has reportedly spent up to R30 million building a seaside mansion in Llanduno, an exclusive enclave of Cape Town. Kuruneri has admitted to owning the property, but has however disputed the amounts involved in the project. The mansion would cost “only” R7 million, Kuruneri told The Herald recently, and valuations of R30 million were “super nonsense”. Some legal experts however say under current law, money earned outside the country need not be repatriated to Zimbabwe. “Even where one is resident in Zimbabwe, if the money is sourced from outside the country the law does not prohibit anyone from making investments in other countries,” said a lawyer. Other lawyers disgreed. Said one: “The Exchange Control Act is clear on this one. If you make money outside whilst resident in Zimbabwe, that money must be brought back into the country. That is why there are FCAs,” The controversy surrounding Kuruneri’s mansion will be a tough test for the government’s much vaunted resolve to fight corruption “at all levels”. President Robert Mugabe has signed into law a controversial new law that restricts magistrates from granting bail to persons accused of economic crimes. Mugabe has remained silent over his minister’s project, but told the Central Committee on Friday that he expected “a clean leadership whose integrity is beyond doubt”. Kuruneri’s Zanu PF critics say apart from the possible legal matters surrounding the funding of the project, there are strong moral questions which the mansion presents to the Government, at a time it claims to be fighting greed. “There are obvious questions as to whether it is legal for a Zimbabwean not to repatriate forex. However, is it right in the eyes of the public that a senior civil servant indulges in such excesses? It doesn’t matter whether it is R30 million or R7 million,” the Zanu PF source said. The Standard heard last week that Kuruneri in fact has more properties in South Africa, in addition to the mansion. Kuruneri apparently owns another plush mansion in the same suburb, whose occupants only got to know about the true identity of their landlord following Press reports. Kuruneri last year contracted Venture Projects and Associates, of Hout Bay in Cape Town, to build the new mansion on a property he bought in 2002, through his Choice Decisions company. Kuruneri is listed as a sole director of the company. It is also understood that he has been on a buying spree of houses and other properties in Zimbabwe. Kuruneri was not available for comment, but in earlier remarks to The Herald, he insisted that the massive property investment was legitimate, and that it had been funded through private consultancy work. The minister says construction is being funded from money earned from doing consultancy for Mobile Systems International (MSI) and Felipe Solano, a Spanish company he says he consulted for since 1992. MSI in 1997 was a losing bidder for the country’s second cellular network, and it was at that time that its association with Kuruneri began. “The company was not compelled to pay me in Zimbabwean currency, because this was not a Zimbabwean project,” Kuruneri insists.
Father of murdered Zengeza youth accuses minister
By our own Staff
ARTHUR Chinozvina, the father of MDC activist Francis Chinozvina who was shot dead in Zengeza last week, has made startling allegations that a senior government minister murdered his son.
A bitter Chinozvina named the minister to The Standard on Friday during an exclusive interview at his Zengeza home.“Ndinoziva kuti ndiva … vakauraya mwana wangu. Ivo vanozvizviva kuti ndivo vakauraya mwana wangu,” said Chinozvina in Shona. (I know who murdered my son — the minister knows he is guilty of killing my son) . “What I want to know is why did you kill my son and how would you feel if somebody killed your child in cold blood?” Police have exonerated Minister without Portfolio Elliot Manyika who had been implicated in the shooting, saying he was in his Bindura home area when the incident occurred. Twenty-two-year-old Arthur Chinozvina died from wounds of two bullets that were found lodged in his chest. He was shot outside the home of losing MDC candidate James Makore in Zengeza on Sunday. The shooting occurred after Zanu PF youths clashed with MDC youths outside Makore’s home. During the scuffle, another MDC youth, Arthur Gunzvenzve, was shot in the leg. Chinozvina said two days after the murder of his son, emissaries approached him saying Zanu PF bigwigs who wanted to foot the entire cost of the funeral had sent them. “They said they wanted to buy food and a casket but I told them that if they wanted to bury anybody, it would have to be me and my wife because we belong to Zanu PF. I told them that it made sense that my son should be buried by his friends in the MDC,” said Chinozvina. He said the fact that he and his son belonged to a different political party had never been an issue in the family but had resulted in stimulating debates on whose party served the best interests of the people. The Standard has been informed that the Chinozvinas come from Zvimba communal area and are related to President Robert Mugabe. “The father of my wife, Mr Felix Nyikadzino was a brother of President Mugabe’s mother, Ambuya Bona. So close is the relationship that when Ambuya Bona’s property was shared among relatives after her death, my wife received a blanket,” said the anguished Chinozvina as he fought hard to control tears welling in his eyes. Chinozvina said his wife’s maiden name is Thandiwe Mhike. The Standard could not verify Chinozvina’s claims over the relationship with President Mugabe.
By Lloyd Mutungamiri
IF the Zimbabwe Cricket Union had been fast-tracking the demise of the once-thriving game of cricket through some of the dumbest decisions, then Friday's resolve to dismiss skipper Heath Streak should be considered the mother of all blunders.
As has become characteristic of the ZCU, Streak found himself ostracised for putting into words what the cricket fraternity has felt all along - that the cancer eating into the local game is self-inflicted.Almost five years back, batsman Murray Goodwin was the first to openly criticise the ZCU for its policies - in particular the quota system which calls for the inclusion of black players regardless of ability - and soon after was labelled an undesirable element out to destabilise the local game. Over the years other high-profile cricketers have quit cricket in frustration at being made the laughing-stock of international cricket, blaming the quota system which seeks to strike a racial balance in the national teams without due regard of a player's ability. Goodwin, bitter after watching a once great side crumble like the proverbial deck of cards during the VB series in Australia last year, told the Australian media 'black cricketers are getting a free-ride into the country's Test team", blaming the quota system for the plummeting fortunes of the team. Two weeks ago, leg-spinner Paul Strang - with 24 Tests and 95 one-dayers to his name - told BBC Sport he found himself banished from the domestic game last year after publicly criticising the quota system. Manicaland province gave no reason for dropping him for the Logan Cup competition last season. 'I wasn't given a reason, but when I was head of the players' association I had been very vocal about various aspects of the game I believed to be wrong, including the quotas system," Strang told BBC Sport. 'It seems you have to be a 'yes man' and be a puppet on a string to play for the ZCU. They don't seem to apply the normal parameters for selection, but use other things than a player's statistics." Now the ZCU, instead of taking a critical look into why the game has dramatically sunk to an all-time low, has committed the cardinal sin, severing the umbilical cord that had been keeping alive - and giving the sport a decent face - and while life is expected to 'go on," it does not need much to predict Streak's departure is the beginning of the end of cricket in Zimbabwe, no matter what so-called patriots would want us to believe. Cricketers have persistently spoken of how frustrating it is to lose a match all because of mediocre teammates imposed on selectors just so as to strike a racial balance. The union might not realise now that firing Streak was their greatest blunder, after the all-rounder had tried to hold together a side not enjoying the best of off-field relations, but there are fears the skipper's departure could trigger resignations by some senior players in solidarity with their talismanic leader. Streak - and the rest of the cricket fraternity - only asked for players to be selected strictly on merit, nothing else. Fast-bowler Henry Olonga's inclusion in the national team more than six years ago created no problems as he was a world-class cricketer. Whilst the ZCU would want to encourage blacks to take up the sport by forcing their inclusion in national teams, they should realise they are doing more harm than good, for the black player would not have to pull his weight knowing a place in the team is guaranteed, thanks to the quota system.
Someone is stealing Uncle Bob’s friends
Shavings from The Woodpecker
Gazumped! A –HA … it is finally out. So Jonathan Nathaniel Manheru Moyo was busy sowing his wild oats all over Zimbabwe masquerading as a returned “comrade” in the early 1980s. Own up Nathaniel and make an honest woman out of Irene Ali who says you fathered her son, Isaac Ntuthuko Mwedini!
The story in yesterday’s Herald about the 22-year-old Isaac Mwedini who is claiming to be the illegitimate son of our junior minister of information makes fascinating reading — whether true or false. First we are told the motor-mouth minister himself tried to masquerade as a returning comrade — “vana mukoma” — in 1981 at Gobo Barracks near Silobela! Then Moyo himself tells us he was horning his revolutionary skills in — you guessed right — the United States of America, of all places! We are now told Moyo spend his formative years in that ‘Great Satan’ — according to Osama and Zanu PF. So while Uncle Bob and company were being bitten by mosquitoes — and horning their revolutionary skills in the jungles of Mozambique — our junior minister, in his own words, was in the US sowing his wild oats such that anyone who claims to be his illegitimate son should “look like him” and be from the area around Los Angeles. My oh my … If Manheru-Moyo feels he is being “gazumped” — as one weekly would say — why then doesn’t he sue Ali and her son for smearing his “good” name? Overkill STILL on the subject of Manheru-Moyo and his desperate attempt to snatch the Tsholotsho seat from the MDC, The Herald — by publishing the one-sided story — has only confirmed that the junior minister is using the newspaper as his own public relations sheet. If anything, the story about the so-called illegitimate son is a good example of Moyo’s blatant abuse of office. Would any other minister, faced with the same accusations, be given that space and prominence on the newspaper to defend himself? It is a shame, as the South Africans are fond of saying, for all those highly educated and upright senior members of the once august Zanu PF to sit quietly and watch helplessly as upstarts like Moyo hijack and destroy the party’s ideals. And in any case, why is Moyo squealing? If he can’t stand the heat of campaigning for a political seat, he should stay out of the kitchen. Simple. All that talk that some unnamed senior government official is leading the smear campaign against him is hogwash. It is just a figment of his own imagination. Moyo did not go through a primary selection process, as is common in Zanu PF. He was imposed on the party’s supporters in Tsholotsho and for that reason alone, there must be lots of aspirant Zanu PF candidates in that area who feel aggrieved. Dumped ONE person really who should be feeling aggrieved is Uncle Bob Mugabe. Our Dear Leader is watching helplessly as his main foe, British Prime Minister Tony Blair, wins over one after another of his former close friends. After Nigerian leader Olusegun Obasanjo, Blair has gone for the jugular and has won over the maverick Libyan President Muammar Gaddaffi, perhaps Uncle Bob’s most ardent supporter after Thabo Mbeki. Uncle Bob must have winced recently as he watched Blair on DSTV being feted by Gaddafi in a Bedouin tent on the outskirts of Tripoli. He must have felt dumped when he heard Blair say Gaddafi is willing to join Britain in the fight against terrorism and that there was real hope for a “new relationship” between UK and Libya. To dampen his spirits even further, Uncle Bob must surely have been shocked to hear that Gaddafi was now courting British firms — yes, the same companies that the two used to accuse of economic sabotage — to come back and re-invest in Libya. As Blair met Gaddafi, it was announced Anglo-Dutch oil giant Shell had signed a deal worth up to £550 million (it’s useless to try to convert that into Zimkwachas) for gas exploration rights off the Libyan coast. That in the same month when Obassanjo was laying the red carpet for white Zimbabwean commercial farmers thrown out of their farms but accepted with open arms in Nigeria! Surely, there must be a grand conspiracy to steal Uncle Bob’s friends out there. Bizarre BRITISH private airline Virgin Atlantic Airways has scrapped plans to install bright-red urinals shaped like women’s open lips at New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport, saying it had received complaints they were offensive. The British company received several dozen complaints from people and groups including the National Organisation for Women (NOW) after its plans for the urinals had been made public. NOW had posted a message on its Website urging members to complain to Virgin chief Richard Branson. “I don’t know many men who think it’s cool to pee in a woman’s mouth, even a porcelain one,” said NOW President Kim Gandy on the group’s Website. Ironically — according to CNN — the urinal was actually designed by a female designer.
Mutare residents face massive tariffs
By our own Staff
• $59 billion budget approved MUTARE — The Ministry of Local Government Public Works and National Housing last week approved $53 billion budget for the city of Mutare, almost six months late.
“The budget was approved late as the previous council had forwarded a supplementary budget which took long to be approved. This, in the end affected the 2004 budget approval,” said Misheck Kagurabadza, Mutare executive mayor.The mayor said as a result, his council would increase charges on all services by 98 % to enable the local authority to cope with the ever-increasing cost of running council business. “To catch up with inflation the council would also effect two other hikes of 105 percent in July and of 112 percent in October. We have to stagger these increases in rates to enable residents and ratepayers to cope,” he said. Kagurabadza said the council was in dire need of refuse trucks and ambulances. It is operating with only two ambulances instead of the standard five, while two refuse removal vehicles are on the road when at least 15 are needed to service the city of 300 000 residents. “Apart from making sure the residents get quality delivery of service there are some capital projects that need to be implemented,” said Kagurabadza. He said out of the overall budget, $6 billion would go towards the funding of water reticulation at Christmas Pass while $1,5 billion is for the purchase of refuse removal trucks. Dilapidated roads and street lighting within the city would also be upgraded, he said. However the Mutare Residents and Ratepayers Association said it would only rally behind the council hikes if service delivery in the city improved.
Negligence by former council over housing scheme to cost Gweru
By Richard Musazulwa
GWERU — The Gweru City Council, while under the control of Zanu PF a year ago, approved the improper construction of 26 houses in the new Nehosho Phase 1A suburb which was fully serviced, it was learnt last week.
The negligence by the former city fathers is now going to cost the new MDC council heavily as it tries to provide an off-side sewerage system where a temporary conservative septic tank would be built to service the houses, according to latest council minutes.The city’s director of engineering services Jones Nantambwe said council needed to construct a temporary conservative septic tank which would be used until the proposed ZIMTA project was implemented. Councillors queried how the prices of the land were arrived at before the proposed sewerage reticulation system had been put in place. Town clerk Godfrey Nhemachena who has been in local government administration for more than two decades, conceded the former Zanu PF dominated council had been negligent. “It has been assumed that the area had been serviced since all the other stands in the area had been serviced. The fact that the area had been serviced with water reticulation misled the planners to think that the whole area had been fully serviced,” said Nhemachena. These revelations come in the wake of another shocking council report that unearthed that close to 3 000 in-fill stands in the city are lying uncompleted since year 2000 after a private surveying company, hired to do the job, stopped doing so when an advance payment had been made. The owner of the company is reported to have fled to New Zealand. Gweru Mayor Sesel Zvidzai expressed concern over the failure by officials to inform the new council about such issues which needed to be solved urgently. He promised to work with everyone in and outside Gweru to rectify problems they inherited from previous Zanu PF councils. The city recently paid $880 million in bank interests for December 2003 and January this year after the city’s $1,2 billion bank overdraft ballooned to $1,5 billion.
ZCTU in membership drive
GWERU — In a bid to strengthen and increase its membership, the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) has embarked on plans to lure rural district councils (RDCs) and the informal sector into the labour body and assist them in coming up with employment councils.
This emerged at a Zimbabwe Chamber of Informal Economy Association (ZCIEA) workshop held recently in Gweru for chief executive officers of RDCs and members of ZCIEA leadership.Lovemore Matombo, ZCTU President, said RDCs were the largest employers in the country with more than 80 percent of the workforce and it was important to empower these sectors to be part of the ZCTU and assist them in coming up with their own employment councils. “There has been a lot of political interference and unlawful dismissals in the RDCs. Unlawful dismissals have also been witnessed in the informal sector and since you are not part of our members it has been difficult for ZCTU to intervene,” he said. He added that it would be an advantage for the two sectors to join the labour body and be able to freely co-ordinate with other stakeholders. Matombo stressed that the only way to protect employment in these sectors and help transform the informal economy and improve standards of living among the poor was to create employment councils.
No March pay for ZBC staff
By our own Staff
MORALE among the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Holdings’ Newsnet staff is at an all time low because reporters and other employees of the station are yet to receive their March salaries due to lack of funds.
The Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation (ZBC) was last year transformed into a holding company, with several departments being transformed into strategic business units, with their own administrations responsible for staff and salaries.While other SBUs have received their March salaries, Newsnet — together with On-Air Systems — are yet to be paid. Newsnet staff told The Standard that they did not know when they would get paid as authorities said there was no money. “We are now battling to survive as we need money to pay rent, buy food and settle our bills. It was a mistake to turn Newsnet into a company as we do not generate any income,” said one disgruntled Newsnet employee. “Other stations like SABC generate money through programmes and news, but with the amount of propaganda coming out of our station who will buy anything from us?” Newsnet recently upped its propaganda tempo as the nation braces for next year’s parliamentary election. News crews are being ordered to carry out street surveys to solicit for views in support of the ruling party and government, while at the same time condemning — at the slightest opportunity — the MDC, US President George Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair. The public broadcaster recently switched off advertisements from mobile phone operator Econet following a government directive. “We wonder what type of business sense this makes when they cut off money spinning adverts like Econet when the company is struggling to pay its workers,” said another employee. Newsnet employs between 150 and 200 workers including reporters, editors, news readers and producers. It was not possible to get comment from the station’s managers.
11 more soldiers declared killed in DRC
By our own Staff
MUTARE — The Mutare Magistrates’ Court here has declared dead 11 more Zimbabwean soldiers who perished in the Democratic Republic of the Congo while on a campaign to prevent the removal by rebels, of Laurent Desire Kabila, the late President of the DRC.
The soldiers from 3.2 Infantry Battalion in Rusape, went missing in a fierce day-long battle in which 10 troop carriers were destroyed, according to official sources.The hearing before Magistrate Billiard Musakwa was open to the public despite protests by a senior army official. The official, Major Stephen Madzorere wanted the proceedings held in camera but Musakwa rejected the request saying the matter was of immense national interest. “The issue of missing soldiers is a national issue and everyone from all walks of life needs to know what happened in the DRC. Remember the army must clean its status,” Musakwa ruled. He cited the story of a soldier allegedly buried headless which prompted the exhumation of the body. He said people were supposed to be informed about what took place in the DRC where Zimbabwe spent millions of dollars in scarce foreign currency. Early last month, the same court released a list of 10 names of soldiers from army barracks in the province who were also officially declared dead. The court heard from four witnesses, Major Stephen Madzorere, Private Clemence Chamisa and corporals Promise Badze and David Kanenungo, who testified that the 11 died together with the 10 mentioned earlier last month in a fierce battle for Mupungu in the DRC. The witnesses said there was a fierce battle and Madzorere was in command on the day in question. The 11 officially declared dead are Emmanuel Muvadi, Tabonga Zhou, Tinevimbo Dube, Adael Ndhlovu, Tinashe Chivinge, Peter Nduku Shava, Chrispen Mazire, Jephias Tichagwa, Vedius Matsveru, Mazhale Majaupa and Edward Muhomba.
Kurauone Chihwayi - MDC zealot or nemesis?
By Valentine Maponga
IT is a movement of people within the MDC. It came out after the leadership tried to impose Murisi Zwizwai for the Kuwadzana constituency last year and most recently the imposition of James Makore on the Zengeza electorate,' says Kurauone Chihwayi, the little known man who has stunned opposition circles by calling for the ouster of the MDC President Morgan Tsvangirai.
With his cellphone, cheque book and personal diary placed by his side, Chihwayi (33) says he is not afraid that his crusade to oust Tsvangirai is not the kind of subject that will endear him to millions of people who see the opposition leader as the future president of Zimbabwe.In fact, his face lightens up as he readies himself to defend his newly-formed organisation, the so-called MDC Supporters for Democracy. Although evidently few Zimbabweans take the movement, that is purportedly made up of MDC supporters concerned with Tsvangirai's alleged imposition of candidates, seriously Chihwayi says he is undaunted by this. 'After noting a disturbing trend by the MDC leadership of imposing candidates on the electorate, we wrote a number of letters to the leaders raising our concerns. They have never responded,' said Chihwayi the only known member of the group. 'We (the founders) started as six disgruntled people and others joined us. I don't have real figures of the membership at hand now but there are many out there who share our views,' says Chihwayi, clad in a white shirt and khaki trousers. Chihwayi is also the brains behind the Zimbabwe National Debate Association, an organisation that many say is a 'one man band' better known for writing letters to the Press. Interestingly, his letters to various editors ' though clearly penned by Chihwayi himself ' have not shown a consistency of thought: they tend to support the establishment when meant for the government Press or to attack the government when they appear in the independent Press. 'There is nothing called consensus in a democracy, more so in the MDC. We need to have primaries in the MDC for selection of candidates. This is the same reasons that forced us to leave Zanu PF,' said Chihwayi. Already, he claims, the movement has held outreach meetings in Masvingo and Mutare where the focus was on engaging students and civic organisations. Chihwayi says they have a vision to 'restore' democracy in the opposition party, widely seen as the only organisation that can end Zanu PF's dominance of Zimbabwe's political landscape. He says he is not amused at all to hear allegations that many people believe his group might be one of the many creations of the mandarins at Hardwick House, the headquarters for the dreaded Central Intelligence Organisation which has a reoutation of infiltrating political parties opposed to Zanu PF. 'We are not members of the CIO and whoever wants to take us for granted can do it at his or her own peril,' Chihwayi warned, adding that such reports surfaced because he had challenged Tsvangirai. 'Tekere (Edgar) is actually my hero because he managed to challenge Mugabe from within and that is the same position I am right now. As a movement we want to serve MDC from further demise and therefore Tsvangirai should just step down or desist from imposing candidates,' he said. The movement, it appears, is not just there to make empty speeches. Last week it was busy campaigning against the MDCs losing candidate for Zengeza, James Makore. 'We are in Zengeza to tell the supporters that they should not vote for Makore because he is not the people's choice. Tsvangirai imposed Makore on the electorate,' Chihwayi said last week. But who really is Chihwayi? All that Chihwayi could disclose to The Standard was that he was born in 1971 in Chivi district and passed Ordinary Level secondary school education. He says he is the transport manager with a firm he would not disclose. 'I am just a supporter and one does not have to be in a leadership position in order to challenge the executive. We are challenging Tsvangirai himself,' he said. But the MDC says according to its membership register, at no time did Chihwayi join the opposition party. 'This Chihwayi É where is he coming from? He is not even in our party structures. There is no such movement in the MDC as the one he purports to represent,' said William Bango, Tsvangirai's spokesman. 'We are aware that Chihwayi is claiming that he has been holding meetings to stop people from attending Tsvangirai's rallies, did he get any police clearance for that?' Another MDC official at its Harvest House head office said: 'Chihwayi is not known to any one of us here. Is his organisation registered? Go and ask him about the other members of his organisation.' Progressive Teachers' Union of Zimbabwe (PTUZ) president, Raymond Majongwe who was linked to the movement recently said he was completely unaware of the meetings that Chihwayi claims to have held with him to topple Tsvangirai. Majongwe said he has no personal ambition to lead the MDC and the allegations that he is conniving with Chihwayi to dump Tsvangirai were 'completely unfounded and malicious'.
Karoi council in trouble over workers’ pensions
By Nyasha Bhosha
FORMER Karoi City Council workers are failing to access their pensions amid reports that the council stopped submitting pension contributions to the National Social Security Authority (NSSA) and Old Mutual in 1992.
Affected pensioners told The Standard in interviews that they were shocked to receive paltry pension payments of as little as $28 000 after serving the council for more than two decades.“You can imagine after working for a company for such a long time and contributing to the pension fund, I get such peanuts and this is the money that is supposed to see me through my time as a pensioner,” said Edwin Ropo, a former municipal police officer. Ropo was “lucky” to get the $28 000 as many former council workers were forced to leave without any payment. Pauline Kadenhe resigned last year in October after serving the council for 24 years but, surprisingly, she was told the council did not have any money and could not pay her pension. “The council stopped submitting contributions to Old Mutual in 1992 and it knows better where it has been putting the money. It has to refund us,” said Kadenhe a former assistant supervisor. “We need to find out where these guys put our money. We can’t just let them off like that. They have a case to answer. They can’t tell us that after contributing for 20 years there is no money, where is it?” Reports abound of workers who left the council years ago who have not received a cent to date. Most of the affected people are the families of deceased former council workers who are finding it difficult to have the pensions processed. “The council is making it a living hell for the families. Many are now surviving on vending yet they should be using that pension,” said Kadenhe. Dought Nduweni, the chairman of Karoi Council, admitted there were problems with some pensions. “It is true the old council was not submitting the funds to NSSA and Old Mutual, but as a new council we are saying those who did not get their money should come to us and we look at how much is left and we can assist them from there,” said Nduweni. He said the new council executive had started a Local Authority Pension Fund, which will ensure that workers are not disadvantaged in future.
Plot to destroy MDC ahead of 2005 polls alleged
By Caiphas Chimhete
THE ruling Zanu PF is allegedly offering “huge bribes” to Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) councillors in Harare urging them to resign en masse in a clandestine plot to destabilise the opposition party ahead of the 2005 general elections, The Standard has been told.
Sources revealed that the ruling party has targeted 26 councillors in the MDC, the majority of whom have monthly incomes of $70 000, promising them housing stands and cash, allegedly amounting to $10 million each.“The plan is to have an MDC councillor resigning every fortnight and the resignations will go on until almost the time of elections. This would create the impression that MDC is disintegrating and thereby frustrating its supporters,” said the source. The source was convinced the plan could work taking into consideration that most of the councillors do not own houses and are lodgers without alternative sources of income other than their council allowances. Paul Themba-Nyati, MDC’s Secretary for Information and Publicity confirmed the latest developments saying the party’s leadership last week met the councillors “urging them to stop betraying the struggle”. “Pressure is being exerted on the councillors whose monthly income is $70 000. As a result of the difficult economic conditions created by Zanu PF some of the councillors have been tempted enough to accept these bribes,” said Themba-Nyathi. He claimed that he had names of people tasked by Ignatius Chombo, the Minister of Local Government, Public Works and National Housing to offer bribes to opposition party councillors. However, despite claims of “irrefutable evidence” by the MDC, Themba-Nyathi declined to divulge names of the councillors he says were offered bribes or of those that were sent by Chombo, insisting that it would compromise their investigations. Those that have deserted the opposition party include acting Harare mayor Sekesai Makwavarara and councillors Tapfumanei Jaja and Grandmore Hakata of ward 8 (Kuwadzana) and ward 4 (Mbare) respectively. Makwavarara, who resigned from the party three weeks ago, cited alleged harassment and suspension from the opposition party as the reasons for her departure. Analysts however see Zanu PF’s hand in the resignation of Makwavarara. “From the moment she was elected acting mayor, Makwavarara turned her back on the MDC, siding with Chombo in almost all the decisions,” commented one analyst. Chombo, who is virtually running the affairs of the MDC-dominated Harare local authority, could not be reached for a comment yesterday. Zanu PF spokesperson, Nathan Shamuyarira switched off his mobile phone when The Standard tried to contact him.
Gono pleads with WB/IMF for aid
By our own Staff
IN sharp contrast to President Robert Mugabe’s recent vitriolic attack on the international donor community, the Governor of Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) Gideon Gono, has publicly pleaded with it to rescue the country from the current economic depression.
Speaking at the first annual meeting of African Capacity Building Foundation (ACBF) Technical Advisory Panels and Networks last week on Thursday, Gono again conceded that Zimbabwe could not engineer its own economic upturn without the assistance of the international community.“The pain or adjustment will certainly be felt across our economies and the region at large, hence the need for your excellencies to impress upon yourselves to help us overcome the challenges facing us, the need for your excellencies to speak on our behalf to the greater international and donor community so that they can support our efforts,” Gono pleaded to the gathering which included diplomats and representatives of international donor agencies.. But analysts said Gono’s public plea alone without a political solution to Zimbabwean crisis will do little, if anything, to convince the international community to assist Zimbabwe . They insisted the plea would have to be accompanied by the restoration of law and order, respect for property rights, a sound fiscal policy and cessation of human rights abuses — something that is beyond Gono himself. In a statement, the IMF recently said Zimbabwe would not receive financial assistance until it addresses the current economic meltdown. Zimbabwe, once touted as the breadbasket of southern Africa, is going through its worst economic crisis since 1980. Gono’s public pleas fly in the face of Mugabe’s “Zimbabwe can go it alone” policy rhetoric, which has seen the country’s economy nose-diving in the last 10 years. “I am not so sure with the IMF whether we are on good terms with them, I mean financial terms, and we have paid our debts. Whether we could go back to them and invite them to come and help us, I doubt because their ideas are completely wrong,” Mugabe told ZBC’s Newsnet in an interview broadcast on the eve of his 80th birthday last month. The central bank governor’s recent plea also comes at a time when officials from the Bretton Woods institutions are in the country on a mission to assess first hand the country’s economy. It is after this visit that the two organisations would consider whether to resume aid to Zimbabwe, a country accused of financial indiscipline and gross human rights violations. Presently, the government is struggling to service its IMF debt, which currently stands at US$273,9 million. The shortage of foreign currency has made it difficult for the government to repay its debt. But Gono said Zimbabwe was prepared to correct all its past wrongs and repay all debts it owes the international community. “We have in abundance unparalleled determination to self-correct, to repay all our debts in the fullness of time, to engage all our co-operating and financing partners, and, with your help, we are certain that we will recover and recover soon we shall,” Gono told the gathering. Gono said government and the central bank had adopted measures designed to foster prudent fiscal and monetary policies in an effort to revive the country’s dwindling fortunes. “It will not be long before we begin to see positive fruits of the pain that we are going through,” Gono assured the ACBF delegates drawn from all-over the African continent. The central bank governor said in about three years, inflation — currently above 600 percent — would be reduced to a single digit. He said Africa’s human resource base was perpetually being undermined by the brain drain caused mainly by uncompetitive wages. He added that reversing the effects of brain drain requiresd Africa to build a firm base for sustainable economic productivity. Some analysts however said it was too early to judge whether Gono, presently Mugabe’s blue-eyed boy, is listened to by the powers-that-be. Others said that without a political settlement, Gono was merely whistling in the dark.