Opportunity seen for change in Zimbabwe South Africa
could tie aid to greater freedom By John Donnelly, Globe Staff | August 5,
PRETORIA -- During more than two years of South Africa's policy of
''quiet diplomacy" toward embattled Zimbabwe, there probably was never a
scene like the one yesterday: senior Zimbabwean finance officials asking
their South African counterparts in a private meeting here for an economic
bailout that could reach hundreds of millions of dollars.
Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe has resisted pressure from South Africa or any
government to undertake political and economic changes that would lead to
power-sharing and greater freedoms of speech and the press. But some
analysts said yesterday that South Africa now has leverage in imposing
conditions to its loan to pressure Zimbabwe, and even hasten the end of
Mugabe's quarter-century rule. ''A window of opportunity has opened,"
said Dianna Games, executive director of Africa@Work, a Johannesburg-based publishing and
research company. ''These talks show how desperate the Zimbabwean government
is. The government has basically run out of foreign exchange. And when
things start to touch the government ministers, that's when things start to
Zimbabwe's crisis stems largely from an economic collapse that
has left the country without enough hard currency to pay off a $1 billion
loan from the International Monetary Fund, which has called in the loan and
has threatened to expel Zimbabwe for nonpayment. The economic meltdown
includes severe shortages of fuel and crops.
Mugabe failed in a
global hunt for a bailout -- China, Malaysia, and Namibia said no -- forcing
him to approach South Africa, which now wants to tie conditions to the
Zimbabwe's finance minister, Herbert Murerwa, and central bank
governor Gideon Gono met yesterday with South Africa's top two financial
officials, Finance Minister Trevor Manuel and Reserve Bank Governor Tito
Mboweni, Pretoria's government spokesman Joel Netshitenzhe said in an
interview. Netshitenzhe said the South African cabinet has agreed ''in
principle" to support a loan, which could range from as low as $100 million
to several hundred million dollars. But the spokesman said no action will be
taken until it meets again in two weeks.
Mugabe also has come under
international political pressure following his order to demolish shacks in
cities around the country. The crackdown, called Operation Murambatsvina, or
''Drive Out Trash," has displaced 700,000 people in the last two
A United Nations report sharply criticized the demolitions, and
Secretary General Kofi Annan called the operation ''profoundly distressing."
Mugabe has defended the action, saying the situation had grown out of
control and was contributing to a general lawlessness.
acknowledge that the international community is faced with a dilemma: Nearly
a million people are in need of emergency relief, but helping them may
further entrench Mugabe in power.
''This point came up in the Security
Council debate, that the international community has to step in and
basically compensate for the shortcomings of the government," Anne Patterson
said late last week, when she still was acting US ambassador to the UN. John
Bolton has since assumed the post.
One option for the UN would be to
quadruple emergency food aid to Zimbabwe through the World Food
Asked whether the UN would attach conditions to any aid plans,
Stephane Dujarric, chief UN spokesman, said: ''The government of Zimbabwe
has a collective responsibility for what happened. How the aid is disbursed
down the line, obviously that's something that we will have to look at. But
it's important that the people affected by the evictions not be victimized
twice. There is a clear need for help to get to them." Games, the
Johannesburg-based analyst who is studying Zimbabwe's economy, said the
country's financial crisis is ''bigger than has been the case for a long
time." She pointed to such indicators as a 400 percent increase in domestic
debt from January to June and the rapid devaluation of the country's
currency. Last year, the official rate was 6,000 Zimbabwean dollars to 1 US
dollar; now, the black market rate is close to $40,000 to $1.
the burgeoning crisis, many in Zimbabwe still feel that Mugabe's grip on
power is strong and that not much will change in the near future.
Norah, a suburb of Harare, the capital, parliamentarian Priscilla
Misihairambwi Mushonga worked yesterday to get ready to feed about 100
children tomorrow outside her office. Mishihairambwi, a member of the
opposition Movement for Democratic Change, said in a telephone interview
that droves of constituents had come to her pleading for food in recent
If she had unlimited money, she said: ''I could feed 4,000 to
5,000 children this Saturday -- that's how many are going hungry in Glen
Norah. Mothers are coming to my office and saying they haven't eaten for a
whole week. So I have to choose the weakest to help. It's a terrible ethical
But the parliamentarian said she didn't expect major change in
her country as long as Mugabe was in power.
''Like in the Democratic
Republic of Congo, things in Zimbabwe will degenerate," Mishihairambwi said.
''Nothing will work, but we will still have a semblance of government at
some level. Government ministers will pretend something is going on. We are
not at war, so the international community will sit there and hope this will
''But people will die quietly," she said. ''They will die of
hunger, they will die of negligence, and no one will know."
correspondent Joe Lauria contributed to this report from the United Nations.
John Donnelly can be reached at email@example.com.
Involvement in the 1998-2002 war in the
Democratic Republic of Congo consumed hundreds of millions of dollars.
International Monetary Fund support was suspended after Zimbabwe failed to
meet budgetary goals. Inflation soared from 32 percent in 1998 to 133
percent in 2004.
After coming to power in 1980, Robert
Mugabe began giving white-owned land to blacks. But many of the new farmers
had few assets and limited business knowledge, and foreclosures led to sharp
drops in production, triggering critical food shortages.
In the summer of 2005, tens of thousands
of shanty dwellings and street stalls were destroyed as part of program
referred to as ''Drive Out Trash." The UN estimates about 700,000 people
were left homeless.
officials have rejected a crucial South African condition for a financial
bale-out for the troubled country, saying they will not resume negotiations
with the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC).
set the scene for tense talks between Finance Minister Trevor Manuel and his
Zimbabwean counterpart, Herbert Murerwa, which began last night as the two
men sought to work out the details of a $1bn bale-out of
The Harare government's rejection of the conditions for the
bale-out, if carried out, seems to suggest that SA and President Thabo
Mbeki's last real chance to influence events in Zimbabwe could be in danger
of evaporating, and could lead to a fundamental change in relations between
the two countries.
Nathan Shamuyarira, chief spokesman for the ruling
Zanu (PF) and a confidant of President Robert Mugabe, said yesterday that
Zimbabwe would not relent to pressure for a negotiated political settlement
with the MDC.
"We will not have talks with the MDC. We have been
saying this over and over again. Why are we being forced to talk to them?
Why should they talk to us?" Shamuyarira said.
His comments echo
Mugabe's announcement last weekend that Zimbabwe would not succumb to
pressure "from whomever" to accept talks with the MDC.
remarks were apparently directed at Mbeki, United Nations (UN)
Secretary-General Kofi Annan and Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo, who
want him to talk to the MDC.
Last week Mbeki impressed on the nation the
need to help Zimbabwe. A meltdown in the country would have disastrous
effects on SA and neighbouring countries, Mbeki said. He said any assistance
given to Zimbabwe must be part of a package aimed at normalising the
situation in that country.
On Wednesday, SA's cabinet approved "in
principle" the loan to Zimbabwe.
Asked about last night's talks, SA's
finance ministry spokesman Logan Wort said government would make an
announcement only "once the sensitive talks have been
Government spokesman Joel Netshitenzhe said: "We don't want
to give running commentary (on the meeting)."
SA, keen not to appear
as a "big brother", has nonetheless set strict conditions in return for the
lifeline. These include a restoration of the rule of law, economic reforms,
the repeal of repressive laws and, crucially, the resumption of talks with
However, Shamuyarira said there would be no multiparty
talks. He said: "Those who have been trying to promote the MDC have failed
in their agenda. We are not going to talk to the MDC."
sources in Harare said yesterday that Mugabe had also told Zanu (PF) and his
ministers that his government would not accept funds with strings
However, South African analysts said the Zimbabweans were
posturing ahead of last night's meeting, and that it was unlikely SA would
drop its conditions.
Political analyst Nic Borain said: "It's likely to
be posturing before negotiations start. SA have the leverage as things have
clearly hit rock bottom (in Zimbabwe)."
Mugabe, who is expected to
meet Mbeki on the sidelines of an African Union (AU) summit currently taking
place in Ethiopia, has reportedly also said that SA can keep its money if it
"wanted to behave like Western countries".
But pressure is mounting on
Mugabe. Borain said the AU and the Southern African Development Community
felt the situation in Zimbabwe had gone "too far" and were supporting
Mbeki's efforts to help end the crisis.
At the same time, the US has
stepped up pressure on Mugabe, adding 24 Zimbabwean commercial farms and two
Zimbabwean companies to the list of entities now under targeted US
Zimbabwe desperately needs money to settle its
$295m arrears to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), which meets on
September 9 to discuss its possible
Meanwhile, Zimbabwe's major cities
continued to suffer from power cuts and chronic shortages of energy and
Mugabe, Mbeki square up Dumisani Muleya/Godfrey
Marawanyika ZIMBABWE and South Africa are headed for a showdown over the US$1
billion loan for economic recovery which Pretoria says it will only release
on the strict condition of inter-party talks.
President Robert Mugabe
and his South African counterpart Thabo Mbeki were expected to meet over the
issue during the extraordinary African Union summit in Ethiopia. Mugabe made
it clear on his return from China on Sunday that he is totally opposed to
Mbeki's Finance minister Trevor Manuel was
yesterday expected to meet his local counterpart, Herbert Murerwa, to deal
with the explosive issue.
Murerwa left yesterday afternoon for South
Africa where he will also attend a regional finance ministers'
Central bank governor Gideon Gono was also set to hold talks
with his South African counterpart, Tito Mboweni, today to clarify the terms
of the cash-for-talks deal.
Manuel was likely to tell Murerwa the
loan had been approved by the South African cabinet on clear conditions that
Harare enters inter-party talks, adopts political and economic reforms and
measures to end international isolation.
While Mugabe angrily
rejected pressure from South African and other quarters for talks with the
opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), Mbeki's chief government
spokesman Joel Netshitenzhe yesterday insisted South Africa's loan should
benefit Zimbabweans "within the context of an economic recovery programme
and political normalisation".
But Zanu PF spokesman Nathan
Shamuyarira confirmed Mugabe's hardline stand on the issue.
will not have talks with the MDC. We have been saying this over and over
again. Why are we being forced to talk to them? Why should they talk to us?"
Shamuyarira said yesterday.
"Those who have been trying to
promote the MDC have failed in their agenda and they now want to fulfil it
through us. We are not going to talk to the MDC."
spokesman Paul Themba Nyathi said Zanu PF should stop its "political
grandstanding" and be serious for once. He said the bail-out should help the
poor and not subsidise Mugabe's failed rule.
The funds are largely
for paying Zimbabwe's US$295 million arrears to the International Monetary
Fund which meets on September 9 to decide the country's membership of the
Mbeki has been talking to the IMF not to expel Zimbabwe,
arguing South Africa would suffer more from its collapse. Manuel said South
Africa did not want a "failed, rogue state next door".
hopes Mugabe responds positively to South African moves to help the people
of Zimbabwe in their hour of need," Nyathi said.
"Given the gravity of
the humanitarian situation, we urge him to move with expedition to ensure
help reaches those most in need. This is not the time for political
grandstanding and deliberate delaying tactics aimed at securing narrow
Mbeki wants Mugabe to meet MDC leader Morgan
Tsvangirai to find a way out of the seeming intractable crisis. But Mugabe
has insisted he won't meet Tsvangirai. Tsvangirai has said he is prepared to
meet Mugabe "any day, any time, anywhere".
On arrival from China
on Sunday, Mugabe angrily rejected overtures by Mbeki, Nigerian leader
Olusegun Obasanjo and United Nations secretary-general Kofi Annan for talks,
practically telling them to go to hell.
Mbeki is now using the loan as
leverage to force Mugabe into talks.
Mugabe's position is seen as
weakened following his failure to produce a bonanza from
Obasanjo said last month Mugabe had agreed to meet Tsvangirai
in a bid to pressure him to accept talks. Annan has also called for
dialogue, but Mugabe has rejected all these initiatives.
has adopted a carrot-and-stick approach. This week he tried to flatter Zanu
PF by claiming its land reform programme was delayed by the need to avoid
scaring South Africa's apartheid rulers in 1990s. He also said Zimbabwe's
debt crisis was a result of social services investment.
At the same
time he was using the US$1 billion loan to drag Mugabe to the negotiating
But Mugabe has militantly declared he would "resist that
stance from whomsoever".
RG sets CIO on MDC agent Ray Matikinye IN the
boldest move yet by government to thwart the opposition MDC's challenge to
the 2002 presidential election outcome the Registrar-General's Office
invited the Office of the President to deal with an opposition official who
is involved in a crucial petition currently before the courts.
Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO), which falls under the President's
Office, and the military have in the past been implicated in unprofessional
meddling in the conduct of the election. But in the most explicit example
yet of official meddling, court documents filed at the High Court by
opposition election expert Topper Whitehead expose the partiality of the
Registrar-General's Office in the running of elections.
annexure to the High Court application, a letter dated March 11 last year
shows Registrar-General Tobaiwa Mudede directed one of his senior officials,
Ben Mpala, to write to the "Director in the President's Office" asking for
his assistance to "build a case" against Whitehead whom he said "continues
to be a bother to this department over the election petition".
offered to provide the President's Office with staffers in the RG's Office
who could assist to build a case against Whitehead in the unfolding saga
over the presidential election challenge by MDC leader Morgan
Tsvangirai in 2002 filed a High Court petition
challenging Mugabe's victory in the presidential poll. Whitehead has since
been perusing electoral material to find evidence of rigging by the
government, especially by the RG's Office. The RG regards Whitehead's
probing as undesirable interference hence the SOS to the President's Office
to assist in putting together a case against the official. Mudede, who is
central to the case, has since been fined $5 million and given a suspended
jail term for contempt of court after he failed to bring crucial electoral
material to the capital as directed by the High Court.
Wednesday eight police officers led by Detective Inspector Govha of the Law
and Order Section ransacked Whitehead's home in Avondale claiming he had
subversive photographs and videotapes taken during Operation
Police confiscated three computers and a similar
number of removable external disc drives with a powerful database system
able to decipher a large amount of data. The equipment is capable of
analysing data from ballot boxes that the High Court has granted to the MDC
On Wednesday High Court judge Justice Yunis Omerjee
ordered police to return Whitehead's equipment. Justice Omerjee ordered the
police to pay costs of the suit. Yesterday Whitehead spent the day at Harare
Central police station trying to recover the three
Whitehead said he has signed a warned and cautioned
statement after police found a picture of "a building with a blue roof" and
a police payroll on one of the computers. The MDC says the raid was meant to
hobble the party's efforts to analyse the ballot boxes after it discovered
some of the boxes used in the presidential election had been tampered
Punish Zanu PF leaders for blitz - MPs Staff
Writer THERE was a fierce debate in parliament last week over the damning
United Nations report on the widely condemned urban demolition blitz dubbed
Independent MP Jonathan Moyo led the debate,
saying the report was a true reflection of the situation on the ground. He
urged government to institute a judicial commission of inquiry to root out
and punish the architects of the programme.
Moyo said the scope
of the demolition campaign, which he said was "implemented in a ruthless
military style with the ferocity and shock of a tsunami", was "total and
"Operation Murambatsvina's scope was total and brutal. It
was madness. It was implemented military-style by the police and the army.
Obviously, it should not surprise any of us that an operation like that,
done outside civic structures, should cause such a serious humanitarian
crisis," Moyo said.
"Upon a fair reading of the report, one is
left wondering and worrying because each and every one of us here knows
someone who is suffering from this."
President Robert Mugabe and
his ministers have attacked the report compiled by United Nations
secretary-general Kofi Annan's special envoy Anna Tibaijuka, claiming it had
"in-built biases, and hostile". But Information deputy minister Bright
Matonga said government had not rejected the report.
Mugabe claimed from
China last week that Tibaijuka had told him she wrote a negative because she
was under political pressure to do so.
However, Tibaijuka refused to
comment on Mugabe's claim, only saying the methodology she used was clearly
outlined and that the report was "balanced".
Annan described the
report, which said 700 000 people were displaced and up to 2,4 million
indirectly affected, as "profoundly distressing".
Moyo said an
independent judicial commission should be established to
probe the issue,
"especially given the fact that the government is attacking a report which
was written by a team it had agreed to".
He said it was surprising
Mugabe was attacking a report when he agreed to the team that wrote it. "We
need an independent judicial commission of inquiry to ascertain who was
responsible for this (demolition blitz). We need to get to the bottom of the
matter," Moyo said.
"Who was responsible for this disaster? Was it
(Justice minister Patrick) Chinamasa? Was it (Local Government Ignatious)
Chombo? Who was it and what was their motive? There have been deaths
associated with this criminal negligence."
during Moyo's speech. When Moyo said the operation was done military-style,
Chinamasa butted in, saying there was no "military operation". Other MPs
like Joseph Made also heckled Moyo shouting "Stop provoking
Eventually Deputy Speaker Edna Madzongwe intervened, ruling:
"Professor Moyo, stop inciting this House! Just make your
However, Moyo soldiered on amid heckling from former
colleagues and continued to attack government. He said those responsible
must be prosecuted for "massive human rights abuses".
the demolition crusade was reminiscent of the Gukurahundi operation of the
early 1980s in Matabeleland and Midlands provinces.
Movement for Democratic Change MPs Murisi Zwizwai and Job Sikhala supported
Moyo, saying Zanu PF leaders should be punished for the demolitions. They
said the operation was a "moment of madness".
Zwizwai said the
demolitions had made life "nasty and brutish" for the poor.
likened the situation to the crises in Nigeria under Sani Abacha, Uganda
under Idi Amin, Zaire under Mobutu Sese Seko, and Central African Republic
under Jean Bedel Bokassa.
Zwizwai said he was disturbed by
protests from Zanu PF MPs when Moyo compared the demolitions to Gukurahundi
because this issue was "cited in the UN report to demonstrate the systematic
abuse of human rights by this regime".
He reminded Zanu PF
leaders of how Mobutu died and was buried in a "very small grave in
Morocco". "Forewarned is forearmed," he said.
Sikhala said it was a
pity Zanu PF MPs opposed a report they had not read. "There are some of us
here who are semi-literate and others who are simply not able to read but we
are prepared to provide with free lectures to understand the UN report," he
Sikhala said gone were the days when Zanu PF would violate
human rights and get away with it. He said Zanu PF leaders should ask
despots like former Iraq leader Saddam Hussein and former Yugoslav leader
Slobodan Milosevic about the price of human rights violations on a massive
Zwizwai said: "Government got away with the murdering of
innocent civilians in Matabeleland between 1980 and 1987, but this time we
are going to agitate the loudest so that culprits in Murambatsvina be
prosecuted," he said.
"I call upon the UN secretary-general to
immediately urge the Security Council to pass a resolution to ensure those
behind this operation are tried at the International Court of Justice." -
Lobby against land Bill Ray Matikinye CIVIC groups
and the opposition are piling pressure on MPs to reject the proposed
constitutional amendments under the Constitution of Zimbabwe Amendment (No
17) Bill of 2005.
Opponents of the Bill say it seeks to leash individual
freedoms and impinge on property, especially land, rights. This will damage
economic prospects, they point out.
Government last week gazetted
the Constitutional Amendment Bill which seeks to effectively remove
fundamental rights to property (Section 16), protection of the law (Section
18(9)) and freedom of movement (Section 23).
Under the proposed
amendments, government seeks to nationalise all land and those dispossessed
will have no recourse to the courts except for purposes of
Among other amendments, the Bill seeks to establish a
bicameral parliament with the setting up of a 65-member
On Tuesday, Movement for Democratic Change president, Morgan
Tsvangirai, said the MDC would work with other civic groups to oppose the
Tsvangirai told a press briefing in Harare that piecemeal
constitutional amendments for political expediency do not
"What the ruling party is doing with these constitutional
amendments is closing the remaining democratic space which has been
shrinking over the past three years," he said. "It is myopic for Zanu PF to
think that it can go it alone against the wishes of the
The government in 2002 promulgated the Access to Information
and Protection of Privacy Act and the Public Order and Security Act under
which rights guaranteed in the constitution were severely
The Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) gave pitch to
calls by civic organisations to reject the proposed
The organisation intends to challenge the passage of this
"evil piece of legislation" in all manner and through all channels available
Under the amendments, President Mugabe will appoint six additional
members to the Senate, in addition to the 12 non-constituency MPs and eight
Moyo sneers at arrest threats over memoirs Loughty
Dube FORMER government spokesman Jonathan Moyo has hit back at deputy
Information minister Bright Matonga for making thinly-veiled threats against
him over a book he is currently writing.
Moyo, who slammed the
ministry's permanent secretary George Charamba last week over the same
issue, said Matonga could not lecture him on how to write his book by
pretending to know the way cabinet functions when he is not even a cabinet
Matonga, like Charamba, warned Moyo not to reveal state
secrets in his book as that would break the rules of the "Cabinet Handbook"
and land him in trouble with the law.
However, Moyo, a professor
of politics who has been widely published, said Matonga and Charamba were
not qualified to teach him how to write books. Moyo described Charamba, his
former subordinate, as President Robert Mugabe's "irresponsible and reckless
He said Charamba was abusing his position as a civil
servant to write the "bankrupt" Nathaniel Manheru column in the Herald
"focusing on vituperation rather than informed debate".
Manheru column recently warned Moyo he could be jailed at the notorious
Chikurubi maximum security prison if his book disclosed state
Moyo attacked Matonga, saying he had become a "laughing
stock in the media because of his dense appreciation of his job and gross
"My attention has been drawn to a threat of arrest
over my soon-to-be published memoirs from the increasingly excitable
Matonga, that as I write I must remember the provisions of what he described
as 'the confidential Cabinet Handbook'," Moyo said.
"In the first
place, it is characteristically dull of Bright Matonga to imagine he can use
threats full of hot air against me to brighten his self-evidently dark
performance in the ministry where he has become a media laughing stock
because of his incompetence."
Moyo said Matonga had no idea about how
literary works are produced because he thought a "Cabinet Handbook" could be
used to block authors from exercising their intellectual freedom.
Tsvangirai disputes Mbeki's claims on Zim Ray
Matikinye MOVEMENT for Democratic Change (MDC) leader Morgan Tsvangirai on
Tuesday disputed South African President Thabo Mbeki's argument that
Zimbabwe's foreign debt was entirely a result of its colonial
Mbeki last weekend said Zimbabwe's crippling debt was a natural
consequence of liberation and Independence that imposed on the new
government a responsibility to deal with urgent needs for the
"It is wrong to say the debt problem is a problem of
corruption, that money was disappearing to corrupt officials," Mbeki said in
a speech at the national land summit in Johannesburg.
statements came as South Africa is considering a US$1 billion package to
bail out its northern neighbour from a foreign currency, fuel and food
Tsvangirai said the tendency to attribute Zimbabwe's
failures to colonialism is misplaced.
"Twenty-five years after
Independence, Zimbabwe's economic failures have nothing to do with
colonialism," he said.
"It is purely mismanagement, corruption and a
failed leadership. Years of dictatorship have put us where we are
Tsvangirai said contrary to what Mbeki said, corruption and
economic mismanagement had led President Mugabe to run around with a begging
"All organisations such as the UN, the IMF, the African
Development Bank and the AU have come to realise that the country is now a
failed state," Tsvangirai said.
He said if the money was on
offer, the MDC would not stop anyone from assisting Zimbabwe with food, fuel
and other things that are in short supply.
"It is not MDC policy
to dictate what assistance should or should not be given to Zimbabwe but
such intervention by South Africa is only a short-term solution. South
Africa has no capacity to provide leverage for the problems in Zimbabwe,"
He said South Africa though could use the bail-out
funds to force Mugabe to the negotiating table if it felt so inclined
because "a failed state is not in the best interests of South
He said a failed leadership had destroyed the basis for
"When three million Zimbabweans flee their
country for economic and political reasons that is not colonialism. Is it
colonialism that carried out Operation Murambatsvina?" Tsvangirai asked.
Exposé on hotels a mirage Shakeman Mugari RESERVE
Bank governor Gideon Gono's exposé on hotels that he accused of prejudicing
the government of millions of US dollars turned out to be no more than a
mirage after most hoteliers were later cleared of any wrongdoing.
what has now turned out to be a damp squib, Gono in May went on a crusade,
accusing hotels of withholding foreign currency and understating their
earnings. He said hotels had unlawfully charged foreigners in local currency
and of feeding the parallel market.
He said the country had been
prejudiced of US$200 million by hotels seeking to sabotage his economic
turnaround plans. Gono splashed an estimated $3,7 billion in newspaper
adverts in a name-and-shame campaign against hoteliers said to have
understated their forex earnings.
The Reserve Bank issued a 48-page
dossier listing the "guilty hotels" and paid an average $750 million per
newspaper that carried the advert. The supplement was flighted in the Sunday
Mail, the Chronicle, the Mirror, the Standard and the Financial
Gono also blasted the tourism sector on at least three
occasions, threatening to bring the culprits to book.
however said most of the accused hotels had been cleared by the National
Economic Crimes Unit in the central bank which investigated the
The Central Intelligence Organisation and government
officials who helped in the investigations also failed to find evidence to
support Gono's allegations. Only one of the 55 named hotels and lodges has
Executive Hotel was convicted and fined $43 million
for charging foreigners in local currency while Flamboyant Hotel in Masvingo
was told to remit the foreign currency it earned.
says Gono is yet to give the hotels clearance letters which he was supposed
to write soon after the investigation teams failed to confirm the
allegations. A source said efforts by hotels to get their clearance letters
have hit a brick wall.
In order to make amends and save face, Gono
three weeks ago said he had decided to close the matter. In his monetary
policy review statement last month Gono said he had decided to "let bygones
"I have decided to make peace with the tourism sector
and let bygones be bygones," Gono said.
followed similar cease-fire statements he made to tourism players in
Victoria Falls last month to lure them back into the fold. But sources say
the admission was not out of his benevolence but failure to corroborate his
MZWT in ambitious fundraising projects Loughty
Dube THE Matabeleland Zambezi Water Trust (MZWT), the implementers of a
project to pipe water from the Zambezi River to arid Matabeleland, wants to
embark on an ambitious programme to raise billions of dollars to kick-start
This is yet another sign that international investors
whom the government said would help finance and implement the project, are
not coming any time soon.
A document in the possession of the
Zimbabwe Independent indicates that the MZWT is set to venture into wildlife
and tourism, timber processing and methane gas exploration in a bid to raise
billions of dollars for the project.
According to the document,
the Ministry of Tourism and Environment has donated a sable to MZWT and the
trust is seeking authority to sell it to the United Arab
The ambitious document also says the MZWT has reached an
advanced stage towards acquiring coal concessions that will enable it to
enter agreements for the generation of power and the sale of
The MZWT report states that it requires 4 000 hectares of land
in the Gwayi area for eco-tourism ventures.
The trust wants to
set up a lion and tiger research project together with a Dutch organisation,
Panterra Foundation, on 1 000 hectares. Also to be set up in the area is a 1
000-hectare lion and cheetah tourist park in conjunction with Pamuzinda
Safari Lodge. The other 2 000 hectares will be set aside for a sable,
antelope and rhino-breeding venture for tourism and export of live
Zanu PF supporters evict registered Mbare
traders Grace Kombora GOVERNMENT'S controversial Operation Garikai has
taken a new twist with Zanu PF supporters violently evicting registered
traders allocated stalls at the Mbare Musika market this week.
Musika, which was closed during the clean-up campaign under Operation
Murambatsvina, was reopened after rigorous vetting and registration of
eligible operators at Harare council's Remembrance Drive offices. The
vetting retained most of the original traders at Mbare
The traders resumed trading after the official re-opening of
the market by Vice President Joseph Msika last week, but were in for a rude
shock this week when Zanu PF officials in Mbare started evicting them saying
the stalls would be reallocated to Zanu PF supporters.
start of the operation, civic society and the opposition accused government
of evicting traders to substitute them with party supporters. The government
at the time denied this. But government's clientelism was evident this week
as party officials started to parcel out vending stalls to their members at
Mbare Musika and Mupedzanhamo market.
The Zimbabwe Independent
witnessed scuffles at Mupedzanhamo between traders who had been legally
given vending sites and marauding Zanu PF supporters who were laying claim
to the same stalls
A man identified only as Bazooka is spearheading
the evictions at Mbare Musika.
Traders are now reluctant to
occupy stalls issued to them fearing that the invaders will confiscate their
Farmers take case to international court Augustine
Mukaro ment that could further embarrass Zimbabwe, Dutch nationals who lost
farms under the land reform programme have filed a case against the
government at an international tribunal demanding that Harare uphold the
Bilateral Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement (Bippa) between the
More than 60 Dutch farmers were forced off their
properties despite the fact that they were protected under a Bippa, ratified
by President Robert Mugabe in 1996.
Netherlands embassy first
secretary in Harare Lily Talapessy confirmed that the displaced farmers had
submitted their case to the International Centre for Settlement of
Investment Disputes (ICSID) in Washington. The centre was formed in 1966 as
an affiliate of the World Bank. It provides facilities for the arbitration
of disputes between member countries and investors who qualify as nationals
of other member countries.
"The farmers do not demand more than
Zimbabwe has agreed to compensate, stipulated in the Bippa between Zimbabwe
and the Netherlands," Talapessy said.
She said the Dutch farmers
were demanding an independent audit firm to assess the value of the property
the government wanted to acquire.
The farmers want the government to
compensate the former owners in the currency the appellants decide upon and
accounts of their choice.
"Once compensated the ownership is
transferred to the government," Talapessy said. "Where the government has
not followed the agreed procedure, the Dutch farmers claim compensation,
determined in the agreed way and paid in the currency and into the account
of their individual choice."
There were about 1 000 Dutch nationals
in Zimbabwe before 2 000, 70 of them being farmers, all growing flowers and
falling under a ratified Bippa which came into force in
Netherlands embassy officials said their government has been
making representations to mitigate the seizure of the farms without
"Since 2000 the embassy used all diplomatic channels and we
are also in contact with influential people to protect the investments," the
One such farm under the Dutch Bippa agreement and
threatened with seizure is Chikore Farm part of which is already being
occupied by Higher Education minister Stan Mudenge.
Bippas with several European Union countries, four of them ratified by
An investigation by the Independent has revealed
that all countries whose nationals were farming in Zimbabwe have lost
properties under the chaotic land reform programme. The embassies concerned
have also made representations to the government in spirited efforts to save
the investments from folding.
The Swiss embassy also made
representation to the Foreign Affairs ministry following the invasion of
Cannonkopje conservancy in Mutorashanga, Mashonaland West.
worst affected country is South Africa, which had over 200 farmers spread
throughout the country.
Farmers who spoke to the Zimbabwe Independent
said government completely ignored the agreements prompting the concerned
nationals to appeal for diplomatic interventions.
would only ask for the agreements and confirmation from the concerned
embassy but on the ground the situation would remain the same," one farmer
from Masvingo whose farm is under threat said.
"My property is
protected under the Dutch agreement and the embassy has made representations
at various levels in vain."
Zanu PF infighting spreads to govt structures Dumisani
Muleya INFIGHTING in the ruling Zanu PF has now spread from party structures
to a government bureaucracy already crippled by corrupt and incompetent
Sources said the ruling party's factional wrangling,
epitomised by last year's fierce power struggle which culminated in the
Tsholotsho saga, has permeated state structures with dire
A Zanu PF faction linked to Emmerson Mnangagwa met in
Tsholotsho on November 18 last year to plot a power-grab in the party.
President Robert Mugabe described the move as an attempted
Sources said the fallout from that episode was now manifesting
itself in various ways in government. They said a political struggle was
currently on over the proposed Attorney-General's Office Bill which was
gazetted on the April 29.
Sources said despite the Bill sailing
through its first reading and the Parliamentary Legal Committee, it was now
stuck due to internal Zanu PF politics playing out in government's
They said Justice minister Patrick Chinamasa and
Attorney-General Sobusa Gula-Ndebele were slugging it out over the Bill.
Gula-Ndebele, linked to retired army commander Solomon Mujuru's camp, is
said to have been deployed to his office, which falls under the Justice
ministry, to checkmate Chinamasa who belongs to the Mnangagwa
Chinamasa, who was dropped from the Zanu PF politburo but
retained in the central committee and cabinet after the Tsholotsho affair,
is also being checkmated by Vice-President Joseph Msika who is the real
Leader of the House. Chinamasa is Leader of the House by
Sources said Chinamasa was unhappy with political
attempts to establish the Attorney-General's Office board and thereby
reconstitute Gula-Ndebele's office outside the public service, and to
provide for the administration of the office and conditions of service of
its members separately.
The Bill, stuck fast due to political
bickering, will set up the Attorney-General's Office board and to provide
for its functions, administration and conditions of service of members and
provide for the transfer of employees from the public service to the
The Attorney-General's Office staff's remuneration and
conditions of service will be fixed by the president and paid out of the
Consolidated Revenue Fund.
Sources said two weeks ago Zanu PF MPs
backed Chinamasa in a caucus when the Bill was discussed. Gula-Ndebele is
said to have afterwards taken the matter to Mugabe who then summoned the
minister to explain. Mugabe is said to have queried Chinamasa on why he was
mobilising resistance to the Bill but the minister denied the
There is also evidence of further Zanu PF infighting
Zanu PF MPs recently complained at a caucus meeting
over the fuel crisis. Sources said the MPs also complained last Wednesday in
their caucus over the widely condemned Operation
Gutu South MP Shuvai Mahofa, linked to the Mnangagwa
camp, is said to have raised the issue, saying legislators could not support
a programme whose genesis they did not know. She was backed by colleagues in
Customs authorities seize books Loughty
Dube ZIMBABWE'S Customs authorities have allegedly seized hundreds of copies
of a novel by exiled Zimbabwean journalist, Chris Gande, after they were
mailed to the country last month from the United States.
were meant for exhibition at the Zimbabwe International Book Fair that is
taking place in Harare this week, the Zimbabwe Independent has
The consignment of fliers and books was despatched by the
United States Postal Service on July 8 but never reached the intended
"The 450 books were sent to Zimbabwe last month and were
expected in two weeks' time," said Gande. "But so far, they have not been
delivered and we have been informed that Customs authorities are holding
them," Gande said in a telephone interview from Washington.
said he had instructed his lawyers in Harare to take action to secure the
release of the books.
The book, Section Eight, is based on the
Zimbabwe government's controversial land reforms that saw white commercial
farmers lose land violently to Zanu PF politicians and party
Section Eight dramatises a love relationship between the
daughter of a white commercial farmer and the son of a government minister.
The minister wants to take over the farm belonging to the parents of his
Gande told the Independent that after enquiring about
the whereabouts of the book, he was informed that government authorities
were still going through it.
Gande was the bureau chief for the
banned Daily News in Bulawayo before he left the country for Washington
where he now works for the Voice of America's Studio Seven.
ZIBF, which began at the beginning of the week, ends tomorrow.
his book was now available in almost all countries except
"I wanted to promote the book through the Book Fair and
it is now most likely that it will not make it by Saturday," Gande said.
PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe's
attempts to secure an urgent financial rescue package from China to save the
economy from collapse have hit a brick-wall and he returned from a week-long
state visit to that country almost empty-handed.
Mugabe, however, won
China's political support to veto a possible United Nations resolution
condemning Zimbabwe's Operation Murambatsvina.
Mugabe desperately needs
Chinese support to counter the UN move. Analysts say Mugabe's trip was
successful from a political point of view but a failure from an economic
standpoint. Politically, it was a success because China promised to block
any UN resolution based on the report by United Nations secretary-general
Kofi Annan's special envoy Anna Tibaijuka.
Besides political support,
Mugabe did not get much from China. He signed more bilateral and
preferential trade agreements with the Chinese government. He also got a
paltry US$6 million for grain imports to avert looming starvation in the
An estimated six million people are understood to be in need
of food aid throughout the country. Although this could be enough to feed
the starving multitudes for about three months, it leaves Mugabe with
nothing for fuel and power imports.
Zimbabwe also desperately needs
money to pay its international debts, which have ballooned to more than US$4
Analysts expressed reservations about the trip, saying beyond
the minor achievements of Mugabe's much-publicised visit was a signal
failure as he did not get the comprehensive rescue package he desperately
wanted. The analysts say China's support only offers a reprieve but does not
solve the economic crisis. They say Zimbabwe's fundamental problems of
foreign currency and fuel shortages will remain despite China's moral and
China has shown that it is only interested in
Zimbabwe in as far as it provides markets for its products but is not
committed to giving the much needed balance-of-payments support, which
Mugabe had hoped for.
Economic experts say China is not in the business
of doling out largesse but creating markets for its products. That is a
fundamental part of Chinese economic policies Mugabe and his ministers have
failed to understand.
China's diplomatic support will not settle
Zimbabwe's debt to the IMF and other international lenders.
analysts say it will not help Zimbabwe win international friends the country
In the end, it's back to the drawing board for Mugabe.
If anything, Mugabe has taken the country backward by engaging in political
bluster, attacking local and international leaders who have been pushing him
to accept the need for a negotiated political settlement to Zimbabwe's
While Mugabe claims China is Zimbabwe's "great friend", the
reality is that China has stronger economic and cultural ties with the West
which it is consolidating at a time Zimbabwe is trying to go it
Latest figures show that despite Mugabe's boast about the "Look
East" policy, Zimbabwe's total trade with China is only US$264 million
annually, an amount which can barely buy five months' supply of
Co-operation agreements which parastatals signed with Chinese
companies are similar to those signed last year. History shows that very few
of these are followed up.
For instance, Zimbabwe has about 15
bilateral agreements with Malaysia but none of them have been implemented.
The noise made about them and the travel expenses are not mirrored by
In the past four years Zimbabwe has signed agreements
with China, Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore, Vietnam and Thailand. The
benefits from these agreements have been negligible, if any.
figures show that Zimbabwe's economy is heavily inter-twined with the West
that Mugabe resents with a passion simply because they have been critical of
his political repression and economic mismanagement.
"China is an
alternative market but certainly not the solution to our problems," said an
economist with a local bank.
"In a real sense our economy is heavily
dependent on the West whom we are still doing business with despite
government's stance," he said.
Buoyed by China's warm reception and its
effort to save Zimbabwe from UN sanctions, Mugabe went into overdrive,
attacking his African friends calling for inter-party
Political analysts say Mugabe's statement was seen as a reaction
to regional and international pressure for him to accept
Rights activist Reginald Matchaba-Hove said Zimbabwe needed a
political solution to deal with the economic crisis and end international
"What is required in Zimbabwe is a political solution that
will result in the re-engagement of our traditional partners, particularly
the West," Matchaba-Hove said.
"Therefore dialogue with all local
stakeholders should resume so that confidence can be built by
Opposition MDC president Morgan Tsvangirai described Mugabe's
tour as a worthless trip.
He said Mugabe's begging spree in recent
weeks would come to nothing unless there was dialogue for a lasting
political solution to the crisis at home.
Revisiting significance of Heroes' Day By David
Mupfurutsa THE other day, while watching the first and permanent choice, I
sat transfixed by a song Zvichandibatsirei done by a local award-winning and
nimble-footed sungura musician, Hosea Chipanga.
In the song, this
lyrical genius, using satire, takes issue with people who (mis)use funerals
as occasions to shed crocodile tears when previously they watched, from a
safe distance, as the deceased lived in squalor and abject poverty. Whatever
this musician's own inspiration and intention, the song, for me, can be
interpreted at national and not just family level.
Heroes' Day on
August 8 is almost upon us. The year 2005, being the year of the
much-publicised Silver Jubilee, affords the nation an opportunity once again
reflect on and revisit the significance, if any, of heroism and the holiday
Twenty-five years of Independence have had a sobering effect
on the national psyche, with contradictions continuing to manifest
Despite all the rhetoric peddled by politicians about
Independence and democracy, many events have shown that there is very little
shared vision between the leadership on the one hand and their followers on
The electorate, then as now, has become willing and sometimes
helpless pawns in this political tug-of-war for political supremacy. With
the benefit of hindsight, it now seems that the Patriotic Front was simply
just that - a front - in the worst sense of the word, for establishing in
1987 a political hegemony through a one-party state.
Operation Murambatsvina amply demonstrated that those living in glass houses
nestled atop mountains have the habit of throwing stones and other missiles.
Is the government then still with the people, as espoused by the late
national hero Maurice Nyagumbo?
In 1982, the government, even though
infatuated by, and flirting with the then fashionable socialism, went on to
establish the National Heroes' Acre. It has now become a white elephant of
monumental proportions where only a select few sons and daughters are
Heroes' Acre has served to expose all pretensions and
the country being an egalitarian society. History
continues to reinforce the truism that some people are more equal than
Heroes' Acre is a shrine where, even after death, the ruling
elite, as if to rub salt in the wounds of the struggling masses, is allowed
to exhibit its aloofness and conspicuous consumption. It is therefore
increasingly becoming difficult, if not impossible, as is this case, for
even the well-meaning, not to speak ill of the
Administration of the shrine has thus far dismally failed to
foster national unity. The criteria used to select heroes/heroines have to a
large extent been partisan and, not surprisingly, divisive and will thus
continue to haunt its architects and disciples.
It is telling
that most of those interred at Heroes' Acre are members or sympathisers of
the ruling party. Such partisan selection has led to discord even within the
ruling party itself. It is the process, in this instance conferment, that
determines the authenticity, or otherwise, of a product - hero
Heroes' Acre has sadly become a party and liberation war
museum as opposed to a national monument.
The politburo, as if by
divine appointment, continues to exercise the privilege, and not the right,
of conferring hero, either national or liberation war,
The politburo is a ruling party decision-making body and not
a nationally-elected organ. Such a partisan selection process continues to
discredit an otherwise noble idea to honour the country's
It becomes akin to attempting to sell ice to an Eskimo; a
hard-sell indeed! It follows therefore, that the criteria of who qualifies
as a national hero should, or manifestly be seen to be, democratic.
Selection and conferment of the status should be based on consensus or
national sentiment. The primacy of sectional interests has the danger of
making the concept at best compromised and at worst,
It is worth reiterating here that the upkeep of the
shrine continues to be funded by taxpayers as opposed to party membership
Taxpayers are thus being unfairly forced to pay for the
upkeep of the spouses and offspring of heroes who, like the war veterans,
are being given pensions and other benefits.
If the selection of
heroes is not or, at the very least, seen to be above board and based on
consensus, then doesn't the granting to surviving family members of
non-contributory benefits become a form of corruption?
At the moment,
matters relating to the shrine are being impartially treated by the ruling
party as if they only concern a private company or even a monarch, and not,
as should be the case, the whole nation.
As long as the politburo
continues to be given unfettered powers to decide who should be interred at
the shrine, then it is only logical and fair that the ruling party should
finance the shrine and support the beneficiaries from its own
Allocating public funds and then branding the Heroes' Acre a
national monument, but at the same time, using a partisan selection
criteria, is analogous to committing theft by false pretences from the
The portfolio committee on public accounts and other
patriotic citizens should drive this point home so that the nation does not
continue being sold a dummy. There is definitely urgent need for a new
mindset in how, as a nation, we conceptualise and decide the criteria of who
is a national hero.
The ruling party often vociferously and publicly
criticises the opposition for its alleged lack of commitment in observing
Heroes' Day. However, such criticism is cheap politicking because, as
already alluded to aready, the Heroes' Acre, at least at the moment, does
not really inspire collective ownership. It is greatly appreciated that not
all mortals can be buried at he shrine.
However, if the shrine is
to command the respect that it deserves, then it is probably time that it
stopped being treated like private property by the ruling party. It is such
paternalism within the party that deludes it to unilaterally appropriate
national assets (theft by conversion), which has done us more harm than
When the opposition politicians boycott Heroes' Day functions,
the act hardly qualifies as lack of gratitude for the sacrifices, some of
them ultimate, that were made by some of the country's sons and
Boycotts of functions at the shrine should simply be seen
as a political statement protesting the criteria presently being (mis)used
to confer hero status. In order to end the boycotts and apathy towards such
functions, the ruling party needs to extend an olive branch by seeking input
from, and promoting participation by, the opposition party in matters such
as this one that are of national significance.
whatever its perceived shortcomings, cannot simply be wished
Unlike campaign rallies, Heroes' Day functions should not
continue being used as occasions for political grandstanding and throwing
abuse and invectives at political opponents and enemies, real or
If a conciliatory approach is adopted, more people from
across all sections of society may voluntarily attend these functions. The
shepherding or shanghaiing of children who should be on school holiday and
youth militia expectantly hoping to secure jobs to the acre will hopefully
become consigned to history.
Civil society, especially those
involved in the promotion of children's rights, should be more vocal in
criticising such press-ganging of these young and impressionable minds,
which, when all is said and done, amounts to child abuse disguised as
One wonders how many people who will be attending
Heroesplush in Kwekwe today understand, let alone appreciate the
significance of the day.
For many young people, these galas, apart from
allowing a temporary diversion from economic difficulties, seem to provide
an opportunity to indulge in anti-social behaviour. Remember media reports
about the gala, or whatever you chose to call it, held a few years ago when
used condoms were found littering the grounds of Great
Selection of heroes by the politburo may have been
acceptable when in the late 1980s and early 1990s the country had become a
de facto one-party state. This situation is, however, now out of sync with
the reality of a multi-party state that the country has become, albeit
The country's legacy cannot be appropriated by a clique
within the ruling elite.
Bereft of ideas on how to solve the
current economic difficulties, the leadership is now more concerned with
harping about the past and the legacy of the country's liberation
The liberation struggle credentials are not the only
yardstick that should be used to confer hero status. There are many more
deserving people from different walks of life -- a lot of them unsung
heroes, and not necessarily politicians or freedom fighters - who have made
and continue to make a difference to the nation and to other people's
The heroes interred at the shrine, barring race, class,
gender, ethnicity, religion and politics, should, in all fairness, cut along
the length and breadth of the nation.
Is it not just a marvel to
see how the affable former South African president Nelson Mandela and the
late inimitable Mother Teresa have respectively, through their good deeds,
become international citizen and heroine?
Many times, politicians
have the belief, mistaken as it is, that people venerate one's position
and/or human remains when in fact, after death, it is deeds that survive and
are indelibly etched in people's collective memory.
History has the
nasty habit of sometimes turning some heroes into villains, and
Even when some unsung heroes are not buried at the
shrine, being fondly remembered by many nationals can elevate them to bona
fide national heroes, as is the case with Mbuya Nehanda (Charwe) and Sekuru
These two were uncharitably portrayed as
cult leaders steeped in witchcraft by the government of the day, but their
legacies have defied time and grown in stature. Heroism is determined by
perception and not legislation. Heroism is relative!
held yesterday and today will not necessarily be those of the next
The monument, if not properly managed, risks becoming an
illegal structure or a gimmick, at least in the eyes and minds of the
general populace, especially among future generations who, everything being
equal, will be its true shareholders or custodians.
How the ANZ played into Moyo's hands By Geoff
Nyarota IF the ongoing Associated Newspapers of Zimbabwe versus Media and
Information Commission (MIC) battle were a normal court case, the Daily News
would have long been back in circulation.
In the wake of the MIC's
rejection recently of the ANZ's application for a licence, lawyers for the
publishing company shunted the case back to the Administrative Court, where
they scored a victory against the government in 2004. The MIC neutralised
that earlier success by appealing to the Supreme Court.
before the lawyers acting on behalf of the ANZ had filed the latest notice
of appeal at the Administrative Court, Sam Sipepa Nkomo, the publishing
company's chief executive, sounded pessimistic.
"I assume that when the
Administrative Court grants us relief the MIC will appeal to the Supreme
Court to forestall our attempts to get a licence," he told a press
conference in Harare.
Nkomo's reservations reveal a tacit admission that
the ANZ may not be contesting a legal case after all.
In an article
published hot on the heels of Nkomo's press conference, former Information
minister, Professor Jonathan Moyo, the man who painstakingly charted the
downfall of the Daily News, said the reasons cited by the MIC for its
refusal to register the paper in the latest determination were
"They have no legal basis whatsoever," Moyo said. "The
contraventions alleged by the MIC are factually and legally simply not
there. The MIC had no option but to register the ANZ as a matter of
Moyo has embarked on a new campaign to redeem his reputation since
his year-end's fall-out with President Mugabe, the boss he served so
sycophantically for five years.
If Moyo, the architect of the
Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (Aippa) under whose
auspices the Daily News was banned, says his creation, the MIC, is guilty of
abuse of the law, why then does the Daily News remain
In a month's time, the Daily News will have been off the
streets for two years. If the paper's publishers were engaged in a genuine
legal wrangle against government, their lawyers have repeatedly won that
The Daily News remains unlicensed today because a political
decision was made to demolish the paper ahead of the 2000 parliamentary
When management decided, on a matter of principle, not to
register the paper with the MIC in 2003, they knew their decision was a
calculated gamble in the prevailing politically polarised
"The Daily News has become a threat to our national
security and it must be silenced," Moyo vowed angrily on television in
Two days later, the paper's printing press was reduced
to a heap of scrap metal after saboteurs exploded four powerful bombs in the
A large contingent of the ruling party's war veterans
association, equally angry, had staged a rowdy demonstration in front of the
Daily News offices in downtown Harare a day before Moyo's ominous
Nine months before the factory explosion, a hand-grenade
was launched at the ground floor of the newspaper's offices.
only person ever arrested in connection with either attack was a
Johannesburg-based Associated Press photographer who, true to his calling,
was the first on the scene of a news event. In the case of the factory
bombing, the police were given the registration details of the vehicle used
by the saboteurs.
Their findings were never made
The bomb attacks were episodes in an arduous crusade to
silence an independent newspaper, perceived to be a voice of the opposition
at a time when the popularity of the Mugabe administration was on the
The first phase of the campaign had targeted journalists working
on the Daily News and other independent newspapers. They were harassed,
arrested and tortured on a number of occasions. Death threats were
When the Daily News persevered, totally undaunted, the second
phase of the campaign was launched - seeking a total destruction of the
paper's premises. That the paper was back on the streets a day after its
printing press was wrecked was a humiliation for the paper's
Then Moyo had a brainwave. Legislation would bring the
Daily News to its knees. Aippa had a tempestuous passage through parliament.
Some ruling party backbenchers opposed it vehemently. The target of Aippa
was the Daily News.
When Nkomo announced he was challenging this
draconian law through refusal to register the paper, bureaucrats in the
Ministry of Information rubbed their hands in glee.
News has since been reduced to the status of an occasional newspaper
headline. Meanwhile, Zimbabweans have, once more, reverted to total
dependence on Zanu PF mouthpieces - the Herald and Chronicle.
majority of those men and women who suffered and sacrificed so much to
launch and keep the paper on the streets, now wallow in misery and penury,
some in distant parts of the diaspora, far away from even the nearest
"I believe that all this could have been avoided had
Nkomo agreed to join (then Financial Gazette proprietor Elias) Rusike and
myself in our decision to register our newspapers and then launch a
constitutional challenge against this Act," Trevor Ncube, publisher of the
Zimbabwe Independent and Standard, said of the ban of the Daily
Ncube and Rusike registered their titles. Now the three papers
have taken up the cudgels on behalf of the stricken Daily
"Our position is that we will go ahead and register but there
are some objectionable sections in the Act that we feel need to be looked
at," is what Nkomo was quoted as saying by the Financial Gazette back in
2002. He has never publicly explained the subsequent shift in
"I cannot say I understand the reasons for the decision not
to register the Daily News but am convinced it was most unfortunate," Ncube
went on to say.
"The Daily News has basically given the government a
'legitimate reason' to shut the paper down. The decision not to register
when it was obvious that the government hated the Daily News with a passion
and wanted to close down the newspaper was tactless and played right into
the hands of Moyo and (MIC chairman, Tafataona) Mahoso."
played by Nkomo in this fiasco needs to be scrutinised. In October 2002 I
received a telephone call from Farayi Makotsi, editor of the Eastern Star in
He wanted me to confirm that we were closing his paper down.
Thinking he was joking, I asked where he got such fanciful ideas
"Well, Mr Nkomo is here and wants to make the announcement to
staff," Makotsi responded despondently. That is how the editor-in-chief of
the ANZ got to know that one of his papers was closing down.
few weeks later, the Daily News itself was off the streets. Staff went on
strike after Nkomo refused to honour a written undertaking made by the
company in July 2002 to award a salary increase in January
In the absence of Nkomo, who departed early for the Christmas
holiday leaving the workers out on the streets, I intervened to rescue the
paper for which, as editor-in-chief, I was legally responsible. When the
Daily News hit the streets again after an absence of nine days its banner
headline was, "Nyarota fired".
Nkomo suspended me after I rescued
the paper. I was forced to resign. He announced on radio that he had fired
The Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation gleefully accused me of
siding with staff. To date I have to receive the letter of
The Tribune, now also banned, celebrated my pending
departure a full two weeks before I committed the crime for which I was
Nkomo obviously considered a hearing to be a luxury
newspaper editors were not entitled to.
"Board members are, alas,
culpable as we should not have allowed this travesty of justice and this
undermining of our moral and statutory obligations," board member Judith
Todd lamented in a memo addressed a week after my departure to Professor
Norman Nyazema, chairman of Strive Masiyiwa's Independent Media Group, then
majority shareholder in the ANZ.
"I do not understand how Sam Nkomo
has been able to accrue and wield such power, such destructive power, as it
turns out, without the knowledge let alone consent, of the board. That false
headline 'Nyarota fired' in The Daily News with which our year began has
been widely interpreted, rightly or wrongly, as being simply a greetings
telegram to Jonathan Moyo."
Voicing similar concerns 10 days after
the closure of the Daily News in September 2003 for publishing without an
MIC licence, board member Stuart Mattinson said: "I am most concerned that
we appear to have been caught unawares and our response has not been fully
considered. Indeed, it seems that we have left our executive team to decide
on strategy, determine a legal position and tactics and at the same time
deal with those who would like to see us permanently closed."
Daily News has not been seen since Mattinson spoke with such uncanny
prescience on what was so clearly a case of political manoeuvring right from
* Geoff Nyarota is former editor-in-chief of the
banned Daily News.
We have no more need of messiahs By Michael
Hartnack By Michael Hartnack Author: Professor Steven Chan. Title: Citizen of
Africa: Conversations with Morgan Tsvangirai. Publisher: Fingerprint
Co-operative Ltd, Cape Town, SA.
WHILE the late Field Marshal Jan
Christian Smuts' achievements as a statesman remain debatable, lingering
admiration for his thought as a naturalist and philosopher, for his books
such as Holism and Evolution, may arouse protests at any attempt to compare
him with President Robert Mugabe.
Yet what is the modern African
nationalist's view of Smuts?
Is it not that Smuts' narrow obsession
with relations between Afrikaans and English-speaking South Africans caused
him again and again to seek coalitions between them at the expense,
ultimately, of black and brown? Is it not that Smuts' attempts to play world
statesman distracted him from attending to the best interests of southern
And does not President Mugabe contend that he sought
continually to build coalitions of black ethnic groups? His critics would
say he did this at the expense of whites, and of the country, but perhaps
Mugabe has proved himself a more wily, more ruthless and more effective
coalition-builder than "Slim Jannie", although Smuts, admittedly, had to
respect at least some rules of law and economic common sense.
the end, an element of Afrikaans-speaking South Africans accused Smuts of
betraying their interests, just as some black Zimbabweans now accuse
Like so many African leaders, both suffered an undue degree
of adulation at their advent to power, particularly from persons abroad with
insufficient knowledge of Africa, persons with confused consciences about
recent emotive events - the 1899-1902 Boer War and Zimbabwe's 1960-80
As late as the 1930s, the historian Arnold
Toynbee was smugly congratulating "British statesmanship" for conclusively
solving South Africa's ethnic problems by putting Smuts at the helm, just as
a later generation prematurely and complacently hailed President Mugabe.
Smuts, like Mugabe, was believed to have something to offer Africa and the
Learned books deified Smuts and Mugabe while, unnoticed, dire
ecological and demographic problems developed on the soil of southern
Just as I unsay no word of admiration for Smuts as a
philosopher, I unsay none for Morgan Tsvangirai as president of the Movement
for Democratic Change.
When he was under heavy criticism after
the March 31 parliamentary election here, I wrote that he seemed to
personify ordinary, sensible Zimbabweans and may represent our last hope of
keeping our country together as a unitary state.
because of this, I am alarmed by publication of Professor Stephen Chan's set
of conversations with him, Citizen of Africa, Conversations with Morgan
Tsvangirai, interesting as it is, when compared with Tsvangirai's jejune
regurgitation in the 1980s of Zanu PF Marxist cliches.
Chan's book is
a self-evident attempt to build Tsvangirai up, in Chan's own eyes and those
of the world, into a front-ranking African statesman, a worthy successor to
the Mugabe Chan once adulated.
Yet Chan, professor of International
Relations at London University's School of Oriental and African Studies,
fails to perceive Zimbabweans' (including Tsvangirai's) enormous achievement
In 2000, less than 20 years after the end of the
Independence war, black voters turned out in droves to vote for candidates
who were former Rhodesian servicemen.
Likewise, less than 13
years after the Gukurahundi Matabeleland genocide, Ndebele voters turned out
to vote for a Shona-led party.
The learned Professor Chan obviously
never grasped that the fundamental of African politics for a thousand years
was ethnic cleansing, at best forcible assimilation of neighbouring
communities, and communities' corresponding paranoid fear of
Chan, as a scholar, should have had his ears open for the
perceptive comment of Lovemore Madhuku of the National Constitutional
Assembly at the February 2000 referendum, that this country was witnessing
"the death of nationalist politics".
In other words, a historic
shift was taking place from the politics of ethnic solidarity to demands for
good governance, as in any modern, developed state.
or ethnic politics was not, alas, giving up without a fight.
ignorant adulation of Louis Botha and Smuts paved the way under their
successors for the system of institutionalised ethnic cleansing that was
apartheid. Blind, ignorant adulation has contributed to the tragedy of the
past 25 years here, which saw tactics of ethnic cleansing used against the
Ndebele, against white farmers, and now the urban poor.
It is a
pity to be unkind to so well-meaning a writer but Chan does not see how he
was part of the tragedy, how he unknowingly posed a moral danger to Mugabe
and Zimbabwe, and now to Tsvangirai.
His conversations with
Tsvangirai are informative and valuable. Tsvangirai seems to be saying all
the right things to make him acceptable to a 21st century Africa, moving
towards women's rights, confronting the HIV crisis, restoring the economy
while at the same time not forgetting the
But southern Africa has no more
need of messiahs. With the exception of former South African president
Nelson Mandela they all got crucified in the end, anyway. What we need is a
strong civil society in which credible leaders can operate.
Michael Hartnack is a veteran foreign correspondent based in Harare.
Zim slides as image-makers falter By Chido
Makunike WHILE the destruction of Zimbabwe continues under the present
rulership, a sea change that has taken place in recent months has been the
complete loss of the Mugabe government's control over its
While the country continues on its slide it might be easy to
overlook the importance of this development, but I believe it will in future
come to be viewed as a significant milestone in the decline of this odious
Virtually everywhere in the world, with the possible
exception of South African president Thabo Mbeki's mind, Mugabe and his
regime have become symbols of how not to run a country.
government has become a laughing stock, still maintaining a physical grip on
the country's citizens but no longer having the means to keep things running
at even minimally acceptable levels.
Since things began to spiral out
of control for the government, it has attempted to limit how much of that
national unravelling Zimbabweans and the rest of the world get to
Foreign news correspondents were unceremoniously kicked out with
the collusion of former Information minister Jonathan Moyo's propaganda
department and the department of immigration in contravention of the
country's own laws. The closure of newspapers on the flimsiest grounds does
not need repeating here.
The state media does not allow
dissenting voices any meaningful space and bombards us with repeated doses
of the most puerile propaganda. The ruling authority is so lacking in
confidence that laws to intimidate people from speaking their minds are on
Yet not a single one of these and many other measures
designed to try and protect the government's image have done a bit of
On the contrary the Mugabe government's image is in complete
ruin. The bitterness and nervousness the government displays towards many of
the citizens and much of the world show it has no confidence that a
significant part of the target of its propaganda believes
Despite the closing off of alternative voices from the public
space, the government's actions and how Zimbabwe is not functioning well are
such loud, obvious counters to its propaganda that the propaganda only makes
the government look ridiculous. There must be some plausibility for
propaganda to be effective.
When it flies in the face of the
reality that people live and see for themselves, it doesn't really matter
how many newspapers you shut down or how much you limit the airwaves. It may
limit people's access to the real truth, but it will certainly not win any
hearts and minds.
Information management can only be a distant second
in moulding opinion to what actions are actually taken.
about British premier Tony Blair and "illegal sanctions" until you are blue
in the face is a complete waste of time in trying to influence thinking when
you then take actions that cannot possibly be reconciled with your
If there were any people who bought the propaganda that
Blair and sanctions were the cause of most of our problems, certainly they
would have been rudely disabused of that notion by the Mugabe regime's
enthusiastic destruction of thousands of homes and flea
No one, no matter how gullible, would believe that Blair,
the West or "the whites" would have been the instigators of the orgy of
violence against them by their own "sovereign" government.
this and other actions, it almost doesn't matter what statements the
president and his propaganda machinery issue to defend themselves against
charges that they are in fact the worst disaster to have befallen
In a system where regurgitating whatever the official line
is on a particular issue is about the only way to keep one's position and
access to perks in a non-performing economy, the appearance of unanimity on
everything looks absurd.
How is it possible that there could be
any contentious issue on which all the members of a political party or a
government can completely agree? Instead of making Mugabe's regime appear
like a genuinely united fortress, it instead makes them look like
frightened, cornered rabbits.
Party unity within certain limits may
be understandable as a reason for reining in loose cannons, but the image we
have of Mugabe's minions are of robots who dare not think or utter an
independent thought for fear of his wrath!
Again, no matter how
the propaganda services attempt to explain this dull, unnatural unanimity
even on actions that are clearly harmful to the country, on a gut level
everyone understands that this is unanimity born of fear and convenience,
Anyone who sees things differently from Mugabe is
accused of being a lackey of the West or the whites.
This sort of
blackmail is how Mugabe has been able to keep many of his opponents as well
as allies in line.
But this rhetoric is utter drivel when one looks
at how Mugabe and many of his closest aides are attached to so many of the
accoutrements of the West that they pretend to so hate.
who are citizens of Western countries, ministers with Western spouses,
ministers whose children flock to the West to escape the ruin their parents
are visiting on their country.
All one has to do is look and listen
to Mugabe to see and hear all the ways in which he is steeped in Western
ways. So when he rants and poses as the greatest "anti-Westerner" of the
age, all he manages to do is make himself look ridiculous, no matter what
his propaganda machinery is churning out.
There is little doubt that
as things continue to unravel, Mugabe's regime will become more repressive
in proportion to the loss of esteem it continues to suffer at home and
abroad. But when the story of this stage of the country's history is
written, it will be recognised that the loss of the Mugabe regime's control
over the image it projects to the world was a critical point in its
So much so that even those it considers its friends wrinkle
their noses and deal with them from a distance. They are unwilling to openly
embrace them, coming only as close as they believe is necessary for their
When foreign help is rendered, it is minor and strips away
even more of the dignity of the president who shouts himself hoarse about
his sovereignty and independence.
The tough propaganda and
bravado we are fed is in stark contrast to the sad, crumbling country we
painfully witness for ourselves everyday as the president maintains his
stiff upper lip, fooling no one but perhaps himself and his
Despite all the crude efforts to limit the thinking
space, the Mugabe government has provided a case study of how in an
enlightened, technological age, an incompetent dinosaur of a regime that has
failed to evolve with the times simply looks ridiculous despite its raw,
oppressive military prowess.
neatly tailored account of Zimbabwe's land reform programme and his
dismissal of corruption as a contributor to the country's huge foreign debt
is disingenuous to say the least.
We know he has to justify doling out
South African taxpayers' money to pay Zimbabwe's debt to the IMF but surely
he could do better than this descent into platitudes. This must rank as one
of the most dishonest statements by a head of state on Zimbabwe in recent
years, although admittedly there is hot competition in the
Mbeki told a land conference in Johannesburg last weekend that
Zimbabwe was immersed in debt because of the reconstruction which took place
after the war of liberation. It was justified for the government to spend
more than it had to provide social services such as housing, education and
Corruption did not play a part in this glowing account. Mbeki was
also quoted as saying: "To suggest Zimbabwe's land reform was marred by
corruption was wrong."
Which hole has the president just emerged
Can I invite President Mbeki to take the Zimbabwean template of
land reform and implement it in his back garden so he can watch the flowers
For President Mugabe's regime, the statement could not have
come at a better time. It is a justification for the glaring history of
failure and inept governance that has brought us to where we are today. This
dishonesty will be Mugabe's lifebuoy at international fora to justify
Zimbabwe's Zanu PF-inflicted economic meltdown.
The Mbeki tale of
Zimbabwe blends well with Mugabe's conspiracy theories. The octogenarian
leader is being cleansed of all culpability in Zimbabwe's fall from grace.
There was justification for it. He was doing it for his people, according to
President Mbeki. Here is a good leader who loved his people so much that he
plunged the country into debt and abject poverty all in the name of social
We should however sound a cautionary note. This version
comes from the same man who said HIV did not cause Aids!
a reminder to Mbeki: President Mugabe's government is notorious for its
profligacy. He has maintained a huge cabinet - reportedly in per capita
terms one of the largest in the world - which has drained the fiscus of
resources that could have been used for social investment. The current
cabinet, with its acres of dead wood, is testimony to that.
content with distortions in the pattern of public expenditure, it has never
been explained how ministers become extremely rich overnight. It has nothing
to do with business acumen because the portfolios under their charge bear
all the marks of incompetence.
Members of Mugabe's government have
not hesitated to raid the national purse for personal enrichment. I am sure
President Mbeki is familiar with the corruption scandal surrounding the VIP
Housing Scheme and the War Victims Compensation Fund.
remind Mbeki that President Mugabe's brother-in-law who secured a huge
payout from the fund because of a supposed 95% disability was on the front
page of a national daily last month advertising his credentials as a farm
owner? He has not been prosecuted despite promises that he would be made to
account for his ill-gotten windfall. Nor have any of the other well-placed
Then there is sheltered employment in government.
This explains massive defence spending in peacetime when the health sector
is crumbling. For Mbeki's information Zimbabwe last year commissioned
ox-drawn ambulances in rural areas where suborned traditional leaders have
been given Mazda pick-up trucks. The promises of health for all by the year
2000 evaporated long before the chaos of land reform in
There are more examples of policies which compounded our
poverty like the four-year campaign in the DRC and the doling out of
unbudgeted monies to war veterans. This is expenditure which did not benefit
the country. Is there any justification for senior government officials to
be driving the latest Mercedes and Peugeot 607 limousines imported using
scarce foreign currency? This is corruption by another name.
would also want to draw his attention to reports by the comptroller and
auditor-general on the handling of loans advanced to parastatals. A 2000
report by the auditor-general on the management of debt said the government
should not commit itself to loans whose conditions are not
"The ability to fulfill the loan conditions on time should
be highly considered in the negotiation of loans since some lenders'
requirements might be difficult to meet," the auditor-general
There is no accountability in parastatals where managers
are appointed on political lines and are not obliged to explain huge losses
incurred. Air Zimbabwe provides an emblematic example of a well-run
profitable concern transformed into a basket case by the regime's friends
and hangers on.
There is corruption in our government and President
Mugabe knows that. That is the reason why the country's ranking in
international corruption indices is not enviable. That is why the country's
credit risk is so high. Mbeki does not need to go very far to confirm this.
He should find out why South African banks are not prepared to give Zimbabwe
lines of credit.
Zimbabwe has established an anti-corruption ministry
in response to grand corruption. But we can be sure its ambit will not
extend to the high and mighty.Mbeki appears blissfully unaware of the
unbridled graft and greed by government officials in the land reform
exercise. Many got more than one farm each. They parcelled out the best land
to themselves. They commandeered tractors and vandalised irrigation
equipment. They ignored court orders to vacate properties and return looted
Looking the other way will not help Zimbabwe at all,
neither will it assist South Africa. It certainly won't convince the world
that Mugabe was right with his land reform nor will it attract investment to
We must ask, what contribution can President Mbeki make
to solving Zimbabwe's crisis when he engages in self-deception about its
Properties set to be pegged in US$ Eric Chiriga THE
recent move by the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) to allow fuel sales in US
dollars could open the floodgates to the dollarisation of the economy, which
would also see prices of properties being pegged in United States
It will give property agents and other businesses leeway to
conduct business in foreign currency, a move which governor Gideon Gono
declared illegal in a statement in March last year.
currency of tender in Zimbabwe is the Zimbabwe dollar. In this regard the
local currency must be used in all quotations for properties sold in
Zimbabwe and payment should be effected in the same currency," the central
bank was quoted as saying in the state media.
However, Gono announced
in his monetary policy two weeks ago that designated filling stations would
sell fuel in US dollars.
The fuel will be sold at US$1 per litre, the
equivalent of $17 500 at the new exchange rate.
But analysts say
the move will gradually dollarise the economy, giving a leeway for
manufacturers and traders to transact in foreign currency. This would be in
stark contrast to Gono's previous statement that the Zimbabwe dollar was the
only legal tender.
Property owners and real estate agents have of
late been threatened with closure for pegging their rentals or property
prices in foreign currency. Gono has in the past blasted estates agents for
pegging prices of properties in US dollars.
Property prices have
been rising to levels not proportionate with locals' financial capacity as
many foreigners and Zimbabweans in the diaspora use the strength of foreign
currencies like the British pound and the greenback against the plunging Zim
Former RBZ governor, Leonard Tsumba, allowed estate agents to
quote property prices in foreign currency. The estate agents then quoted or
leased their properties in foreign currency to both foreigners and locals
who were prepared to pay in hard currency.
Landlords and property
agents said it was a hedge against the country's high inflation rate, which
currently stands at 164,4%. Abraham Sadomba, the managing director and
spokesperson of CB Richard Ellis said the government failed to understand
them from the beginning.
Property agents say they are not happy that
Gono has allowed service stations to charge for fuel in US dollars when he
had in the past attacked them for quoting property prices in the same
"Our job as estate agents is to link the seller of property
with the buyer," Sadomba said. He said whether the property price was quoted
in foreign or local currency was up to the owner or seller of the
In relation to the decision to sell fuel in US dollars,
Sadomba said that authorities were implementing policies without thinking of
He said even if they sold fuel in US dollars, the real
price of the commodity would finally prevail.
discouraging, we want policies that are well thought out because the current
ones are not working," he said.
He said he was appalled by the
so-called economic commentators who keep on supporting policies they know
"These people appear frequently saying the same things
that they know will not work."
The property agents and other
businesses prefer payment in hard currency because of the flourishing
The disparity between the official auction market
exchange rate and the parallel market is continuing to widen despite the
devaluation from about US$1: $10 800 to US$17 500.
US dollar is trading at approximately $40 000 after rising sharply in
response to Gono's devaluation. The RBZ has also ruled illegal the payment
of salaries in foreign currency.
Zim dollar in steep plunge Eric Chiriga THE
Zimbabwe dollar has plunged over $17 500 against the US currency on the
auction market, making it the steepest decline since Gideon Gono took over
as Reserve Bank governor in 2003.
Two weeks ago, before Gono devalued
the Zimbabwe dollar, the exchange rate stood at US$1: $10 890.
July 18, it was trading at US$1: $10 890 before collapsing to US$1: $17
On July 28 the auction rate hit US$1: $17 701 with the
lowest average bid rate accepted at $17 698 and a weighted average rate of
Economic analyst, John Robertson, said the rate was
responding to market forces.
He said the authorities tried to
control the exchange rate but that this only worsened the country's foreign
"It should have been recognised long before that
the exchange rate should be determined by market forces," he
Robertson said the new exchange rate would not revive exporting
firms that have already collapsed.
The shortage of foreign
currency on the auction floor continues to worsen as demand is now about 20
times the amount in supply.
The shortages are compensated on the
flourishing parallel market where major currencies like the US dollar and
British pound are trading at about US$1:$40 000 and £1:$70 000
On August 1, 7 358 bids were rejected out of 7 418. In
the previous auction of July 28, 5 489 bids were rejected out of 5
The foreign currency auction can only allot a fixed US$12,5
On the auction of May 12, the total amount of bids was
US$267 296 306, about 25 times more than the available US$11
There were 8 291 out of which 8 180 were rejected, a
rejection of about 98,7%.
According to Finhlod's monthly economic
report for March, the amount of bids surpassed the US$100 million mark at
the February 10 and 14 auctions, translating into demand of 9 times more
than the fixed supply of US$11 million per auction.
rejection rate rose from 93% in January to 97% in February, reflecting the
continued excess demand of foreign currency on the auction," Finhold said in
its Economic Update of March.
The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe introduced
the foreign currency auction system in a bid to manage and ration the
country's dwindling foreign currency reserves.
involves the auctioning of foreign currency to the market bi-weekly, on
Mondays and Thursdays, through a currency exchange at the central
At the auction, all bids to be submitted must be for foreign
exchange transactions with prior Exchange Control
Exporters and other suppliers of foreign exchange make
offers to the currency exchange through authorised dealers and bids are
supposed to be from importers and other users of foreign
Authorised dealers are required to aggregate small bids of
less than US$5 000 and present them as one bid to the auction on behalf of
the small bidders.
'Zim economy worse than a country at war' Godfrey
Marawanyika THE World Bank has said Zimbabwe's economic decline is untoward
for a country that is not at war.
Hartwig Schafer, Zimbabwe World
Bank's country director, on Wednesday said for the six-year economic
meltdown to be reversed, serious economic restructuring like the one which
helped the former Soviet Union states would be
According to Schafer, the crisis facing the country is
largely because of poor government policies."I can't think of a country that
has experienced such a decline in peace time," he said.
major reasons for (Zimbabwe's) decline are the breakdown of agricultural
productivity and distortion of economic policies," he said.
ill-planned land reform programme, which was often violent, led to seizures
and disruptions on the farms, which resulted in maize production declining
by three quarters.
The reform impacted on Zimbabwe's exports and food
In addition to the frontal attacks on agricultural
production, the rest of the economy suffered from the undermining of
property rights and poor macroeconomic management.
has run huge budget deficits of up to 22% of gross domestic product since
2000, and has printed money to cover triple-digit hyperinflation. Although
the government has said that the economy is on a recovery path, the country
has been given the dubious status of having the fastest shrinking economy in
Due to the crisis, the central bank has now been forced to
revise its initial economic growth figures from 3% to 2%.
central bank has also revised its initial annual inflation rate target from
20-35% to between 50-80% although analysts say the target would be
The World Bank has produced a report on Zimbabwe's
agricultural sector, which said that government's fast track land reforms
had redistributed 80% of farmland and improved racial distribution of
agricul-tural property but had worsened poverty.
The report said
the land reform programme coincides with a deepening political and economic
crisis, which saw GDP shrinking by more than 20% since 2000, while
agriculture registered a cumulative decline of 26%.
impact on agriculture had the effect of displacing 30% of farm workers who
are now destitute and living as squatters.The report, said 70% of Zimbabwe's
11,6 million people were living below the poverty datum line as per capita
gross domestic product had plummeted 30% since 1999.
restoring agricultural productivity would be a first step to helping
Zimbabwe arrest its economic free fall.
"It wouldn't change things
overnight but it would stop the economic hemorrhage and help the country get
back on an upward path," he added.
Constitutional amendment spells doom for economy By
Alex T Magaisa THE proposed constitutional amendment in relation to property
ownership will effectively close one of the few remaining opportunities for
economic revival in Zimbabwe.
In an age of the free market and open
economy, Zimbabwe is regressing by adopting frightening characteristics of
the discredited closed economy.
Clause 16B of the Constitutional
Amendment (No 17) Bill is one that any self-respecting parliament should
never permit if the legislative body value the economic interests of the
Contrary to the beliefs of its proponents, the
nationalisation of land is based
on a fallacious understanding of the
nature of African society and is quite simply poor economic
It is necessary to give a simplified summary of the key legal
and practical effect of Clause 16B of the Constitutional Bill. First, it
effectively enables the nationalisation of all agricultural land and gives
power to the state to compulsorily acquire land "for whatever
There is therefore no limit to the purpose for which land
may be acquired by the state and presumably it may even be taken for private
This exposes the process to abuse.
prohibits any claims for compensation for acquired land except in respect of
Third, it ousts the jurisdiction of the courts in
respect of challenges against compulsory acquisition and only permits
challenges against the valuation of improvements.
highly dangerous clauses, encroaching as they do on one of the fundamental
rights which play a key role in the economic situation of any
The rationale for nationalising agricultural land has
not been clearly defined but it is clearly a retrogressive
One question that arises is whether or not at a conceptual
level the institution of private ownership is alien to African societies as
there is a view that seems to suggest that traditional African society is
At the heart of the problem in contemporary
Africa is the apparent conflict between the so-called traditional (African)
and modern (Western) values.
It is often suggested that while
traditional society values communal ownership, Western society privileges
individualism and private ownership.
At the national level, this
value of communal ownership is expressed in the form of nationalisation with
the state purportedly acting as the guardian of people and custodian of
property for the people.
It is often argued that there is no place
for individualism in African society, and because communal ownership is
purportedly for the good of all members of society, we must make it the
foundation of our relationship with property.
This is not only
wrong but it is at variance with the realities of modern African
Opponents of private ownership conveniently forget that
the so-called traditional African society is not
Likewise, the values of that society are not fixed in time
but are dynamic and change in form and character in response to changes in
From that perspective, it is clear that African society is
not what it was in the 19th century and similarly its values have
The values of individualism and private ownership have been
embraced by both rural and urban Zimbabweans and co-exist with the aspects
of communalism that may still be the basis of relations between
The acquisition and protection of ownership of things are
some of the key characteristics of Zimbabwean society today.
movable and immovable assets are the subjects of Zimbabweans' desire to own
and protect individual capacities.
When the state justifies
nationalisation with reference to traditional values, it
society to an age that many can hardly relate to.
denials we, including the leaders, have embraced the
value of private ownership.
By this constitutional amendment, the
state is simply imposing a system that is discredited, alien and at variance
with modern society's values.
Given the fashionable reference to all
things Chinese as the alternative, it is perhaps ironic that Zimbabwe is
going in the opposite direction compared to our Eastern
In 2004, the Chinese parliament endorsed landmark changes to
the constitution to enable it, for the first time since the 1949 Revolution,
to protect the right to private property.
This represented the
decline of a key tenet of communist China, which by and large demonstrates
the Chinese's calculated embrace of capitalist characteristics, albeit with
The disaster that followed nationalisation of land in
Tanzania under Mwalimu Nyerere is well documented.
One could be
tempted to remark that Zimbabwe is experimenting. It is not. By this
amendment, it is simply learning from others' mistakes to make similar
The Chinese and others have embraced private ownership
because empirical evidence shows that it is a necessary tool for promoting
economic development. Pressure for reform came also from the Chinese
business community, whom ironically, we are trying to
The ability to own things drives the human being to be
inventive and to invest labour and capital into more production and
efficiency. Ownership facilitates freedom as it gives a person personal
jurisdiction of his property.
The state fails to realise that besides
skill and experience, the white commercial farmers were able to carry out
viable business on the farms because they had title to the
The availability of title meant that they were able to
participate in the financial markets as commercial businesses, thereby
benefiting from the instruments designed specifically to meet their
This falls away with nationalisation - effectively wiping out
the economic value of land in the markets.
The amendment will
undoubtedly cause a major setback to any economic turnaround
It sends out the message that Zimbabwe is not prepared to
embrace free market economics and protect investor rights. Who would want to
invest in a country where their security of title is constantly under
In all industrialised and emerging economies, the right to
private property is held in high esteem and given ample
The right of the state to acquire land is generally
accepted but the state is held accountable for its actions and laws that
affect property rights.
In this respect Clause 16B has serious
First, by ousting the jurisdiction of the courts it is
effectively violating the time-honoured principle of separation of powers
between parliament, the executive and the judiciary.
separation is crucial for the purpose of maintaining checks and balances
against the abuse of power by any of the branches of government.
judiciary acts as a bulwark against the encroachment into the rights of
citizens by the legislature and the executive.
This is more
pertinent in many African countries in cases where the legislature is
effectively captured by the executive that is often too powerful.
Zimbabwe, the constitution already confers rights to approach the courts for
redress and ousting that jurisdiction goes against the constitutional
Worse is that Clause 16B tries to remove the right to the
protection of the law that is protected under Section 18 of the
The amendment fundamentally disturbs the institutional
arrangements that are necessary for the protection of the right to
Secondly, two of the paragraphs seek to legitimise the
acquisitions of land without compensation that have already taken place or
might take place before the clause becomes law.
This is known as
an ex post facto law, that is a law that seeks to apply to events that
occurred before its enactment.
There is in most civilised states a
general prohibition against passing such laws, which are essentially
They are unfair because they seek to take away rights
to which citizens were legitimately entitled at the relevant
Law must be certain to all citizens and it is unjust to place
one at a disadvantage after the event has passed.
countries this prohibition applies only to criminal laws but there is no
reason why a similar approach should not apply to civil
Clearly, this retrospective amendment goes against the
legitimate expectations of citizens.
Under the constitution, they
had legitimate expectations to approach the courts of law for redress at the
time of acquisition.
They also had legitimate expectations to receive
fair compensation for their property.
This amendment cannot now
purport to take away those legitimate expectations - it would be a clear
violation of international law.
The danger of allowing a change of
this character will in future open the way for the state to violate the law
with reckless abandon, only to provide a cover of legitimacy by enacting
retroactive constitutional amendments.
In conclusion, the amendments
will do more harm to the country in the long term that the framers seem to
conveniently overlook at this stage.
The confidence of investors will
decline further while the credit rating of the country and businesses will
be drastically reduced.
The land question is not simply a political
matter nor is land simply needed for sentimental reasons.
It is a
key economic issue and sadly, this amendment is based on misdirected
The real revolution will manifest when people
who get land are given title to it - to use it as they wish and when a
person has freedom over their property, he is more likely to put it to
Not when it is at risk of compulsory acquisition without
recourse to the courts. James Madison once stated that, "In framing a
government, which is to be administered by men over men, the great
difficulty lies in this: you must first enable the government to control the
governed; and in the next place oblige it to control itself."
Zimbabwe, by ousting the judiciary as far as land is concerned, clearly the
executive is rejecting control.
Parliament must think long and hard
before passing this dangerous amendment into law for it is a mortal danger
to the economy.
* Dr Magaisa is a specialist in Corporate and
Financial Services Law. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org
Farmers wary of amendments Godfrey Marawanyika/Itai
Mushekwe FARMERS' organisations have warned that the proposed constitutional
amendments on land if passed into law will result in land being owned along
party lines rather than the capability to produce.
Agriculture (JAG) voiced its concerns at a parliamentary hearing
JAG Trust chairman, John Worswick, told the
parliamentary hearing that the 17th amendment would allow government to
nationalise all farmland, making it lose its market value.
the amendment passes, land in Zimbabwe will be owned on the basis of
patronage and not one's productiveness or ingenuity," Worswick
"While China has accepted the need for individual property
rights, Zimbabwe is moving completely in the opposite direction," he
Worswick said land the world over was not owned by the state
individuals and companies with leases and title deeds, which gives
the land market value.
A Commercial Farmers Union (CFU)
representative, Mike Clark, said although they were not opposed to land
reform, they were concerned that Section B of the Bill undermines property
rights and the rule of law in the country.
"As soon as the section is
effected into law all the land in Zimbabwe will become state land," Clark
"We are worried about the powers vested in the minister which
are unprecedented. The amendment fails to clearly define what agricultural
land is and where one draws the line in terms of acres which constitute
Since 2000, the government has been failing
to come up with a final position on the land redistribution process. The
haphazard land reform resulted in severe food shortages, forcing the country
to resort to imports.
It is estimated that at least 3,3 million
Zimbabweans are in dire need of food aid, which is now mostly being availed
through the World Food Programme.
The food donations are contrary
to public statements by Agriculture minister Joseph Made who last year
insisted the country had enough food stocks.
Earlier this year central
bank governor Gideon Gono was forced to revise the initial economic growth
projections from 3-5% to 2% by year-end.
Ruling party Secretary for
Information Nathan Shamuyarira said government would divert funds from
public investments to pay for food imports.
Irene Petras of Zimbabwe
Lawyers for Human Rights said the amendment presents the judiciary,
legislators, legal fraternity and ordinary people with their greatest
She said the amendments impose fiscal obligations on
the state, adding that the move is contrary to the African Charter which
guarantees fundamental human rights which the state seeks to
"The Bill usurps the powers of the judiciary and constitution
which many Zimbabweans depend on for protection from unchecked state
actions," she said.
"Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights strongly
rejects the Amendment Bill and intends to challenge this dangerous and
MALAYSIAN Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi was in South Africa
last week to discuss new trade deals and enhance investment between the two
countries while President Mugabe took his begging bowl to
Badawi and President Thabo Mbeki agreed to set up a joint
Malaysia-South Africa Trade and Investment Committee to follow up on
agreements and ensure that impediments to trade are removed. From China, we
had vague mention of trade deals being struck between Harare and Beijing.
The Chinese will be active in the refurbishment of Hwange Power Station and
coal-mining. But apart from a handful of computers and US$6 million in food
aid, President Mugabe returned largely empty-handed. While China has pledged
to prevent UN Security Council censure over Operation Murambatsvina, the
British accomplished their primary mission in having Anna Tibaijuka's report
tabled for discussion.
It is not surprising that on his return from
China, Mugabe spoke more fervently about solidarity and the veto and not
about trade. That is because his diplomacy revolves around his ego. It is a
parochial mindset that our true allies are only those who praise our every
obtuse move. Badawi's visit to South Africa last week was important because
it reminded us of opportunities we have lost in the so-called "Look East"
Badawi's predecessor, Mahathir Mohammad, a leader of similar
demagogic inclinations, found time to stroke Mugabe's ego. Zimbabwe's
salvation, we were told by our local media, lay in Kuala Lumpur. Bilateral
investment agreements were inked in for agriculture, information technology,
air travel, tourism and energy. We were told that the Malaysians were
expected to fund the construction of the water pipeline from the Zambezi
River to Bulawayo and that a Malaysian company, YTL, would take ownership of
Hwange Power Station.
Enter Badawi who evidently does not possess the
same fawning zeal as Mahathir when dealing with Mugabe, and Malaysia has
suddenly disappeared from the lips of Mugabe and his ministers. Nothing has
come out of the myriad deals with Malaysia. Badawi has been careful not to
open up on Harare but he has not been complimentary either. In South Africa
last week he said he was "concerned about the developments in
Nothing tangible has come out of Malaysia because relations
between the two countries were never built on a strong business platform
involving the private sector. It was a political partnership - "South-South"
Mugabe said in regard to Hwange - whose lifeblood was the camaraderie of
Mugabe and Mahathir. Zimbabweans have nothing to show for that relationship
today but Mugabe did get some timber for his private mansion in
We have not forgotten the hype around Muammar Gaddafi's
messianic persona when he was singing Mugabe's praises. We were told Libya
would invest in Zimbabwe. Fuel problems were "now a thing of the past".
Gaddafi entered Harare in the longest motorcade ever seen after crossing
Chirundu bridge on foot from Zambia. This grandeur never translated into
anything tangible because the Libyan leader preferred to do business with
the West. At the African Union Summit in Libya last month, he was praising
Mugabe's arch-enemy British prime minister Tony Blair while telling African
leaders "to stop begging". Nobody was left in any doubt about who he was
referring to. He is no longer an ally.
We have not of late heard
nothing either from Mugabe's other friend Hugo Chavez of Venezuela. He is
yet to bring in fuel the government promised us two years ago. Iran is
currently playing ball but for how long?
Mugabe's differences with Blair
have also moulded national policy. We should all abhor him because Mugabe
hates him. Similarly we should all learn to speak Mandarin because Mugabe
has embraced China as his true friend - for the time being. But history
should warn Zimbabweans that these friendships are not cast in stone. A
change of leadership as was the case with Malaysia, or a change of policy as
was the case with Libya, could see Mugabe groping around for new allies and
In fact there is no strong commercial bond in the deals
that have been agreed between Mugabe and China. Local business leaders who
should be helping to drive business linkages between the two countries have
been left out. They do not have ownership of the process and it is only a
matter of time before the cookie starts to crumble again.
will not reap any meaningful benefits as long as Mugabe yearns for friends
who praise him and declares his critics enemies. That has killed direct
foreign investment from countries that have been branded enemies and scared
off tourists. Foreign direct investment declined by 95 % from US$98 million
in 1995 to US$4,5 million in 2003. Portfolio investment also shrunk by 83%
from US$64 million in 1995 to US$10,8 million in 2003. Grants contracted by
78% from US$167 million in 1995 to only US$36,1 million in the same
China today is operating in the global village where business
sense takes primacy over solidarity slogans. It is 26 years since Deng
Xiaoping opened up China to precisely those reforms Mugabe eschews. Zimbabwe
is a risky investment destination because of Mugabe's posturing and Chinese
companies know it. They tend to ask around before opening their
The fist-waving scenes at Harare International Airport on Sunday
had about them the whiff of a revolution gone stale. The Chinese will have
been the first to spot that!
DID you know that when Henry Morton Stanley came to Africa in
1869, he was not looking for Dr Livingstone as we all used to think? He was
looking for the "North Atlantic agenda" in Africa.
revelation came from an otherwise unenlightening interview last Saturday
between Caesar Zvayi and Media and Information Commission chair Tafataona
Mahoso in a vacant lot that used to be occupied by the late unlamented
The interview followed the predictable route of Zvayi
asking everything the media tsar wanted to be asked, enabling him to provide
long-winded answers that cried out for an editor.
Zvayi got off to a
"One of the biggest problems Zimbabwe faced over the past
five years," he opined, "is the problem of media terrorism that manifested
itself in sensational reports in the privately owned press and Western
media, pirate radio stations that broadcast hate speech and a proliferation
of on-line publications pursuing the illegal regime-change
This seemed more like a statement than a question and deserved
to be "interrogated", as the academics say. What examples, for instance, of
hate speech could Zvayi provide from radio stations?
We recall his
own threats against opposition voters last year. But we don't remember
hearing anything particularly untoward from any of the radio stations.
Wasn't one of them bombed by individuals who have mysteriously not been
apprehended? The real media terrorists.
And why does he think regime
change is illegal or are all state hacks required to insert that word every
time they mention regime change?
Anyway, Mahoso was not slow to occupy
the platform thereby provided and proceeded to berate some media for having
become "a very dangerous conveyer belt of lies".
In particular he
seemed to have a bone to pick with the Swedish International Development
Agency for having tried "to make the white minority voice the mainstream
voice in Zimbabwe".
What explains this extraordinary claim? Could it have
something to do with the Swedish government's invitation to journalists to
visit Stockholm to assess for themselves whether Mahoso's claim that Aippa
was akin to Sweden's media law was true? Needless to say there was no
comparison. It was just unfortunate he hadn't done his
Where he couldn't throw dust in Zvayi's eyes, he resorted to
gross economies with the truth. Asked about the findings of the Media Ethics
Committee that preceded the MIC, Mahoso made the following claim: "What we
discovered was that all the people we consulted recommended that we could
not rely on voluntary regulation (and) that there should be statutory
Really? All the people? The Zimbabwe Independent has kept a
tape-recording of the meeting held at this newspaper between Mahoso's envoy
and our journalists. We kept the tape just in case the record might become
somewhat murky in the hands of a self-serving propagandist. At no point did
anybody at this paper recommend that "we could not rely on voluntary
regulation" or propose a state regulatory body. Nor was it likely we would
Having led the gullible Zvayi down this particular garden path,
the wily old professor of journalism proceeded to pronounce that "the first
responsibility of the MIC is to defend the Act (Aippa), and we have done
that successfully, and it is only after the legislation is secured that we
could implement the development side of the Act. Much of that cannot be
visible in the sense that you have to start by creating a commission . .
In other words, by providing a job for Mahoso! And where in the Act
does it state that the principal responsibility of the MIC is to defend the
Act? That is surely the responsibility of its authors in parliament. And
judging by what its principal author had to say in this paper last week,
Mahoso hasn't been doing that terribly well.
And how convenient that
everything has been "invisible". This looks suspiciously like an excuse for
not having done anything useful, apart of course from closing down pesky
newspapers that embarrass the ruling party.
Isn't that what it's all
about? Claims to be policing ethics sound like a pretext for interference by
people who know nothing about journalism and would have difficulty holding
down a job anywhere else.
Why didn't Zvayi ask a few pertinent questions
about the qualifications of the media commissioners and the costs to the
fiscus of running the commission, a body that has no public
Mahoso complains about the "external foreign voice embedded
among us and the African voice which has come from exile and is establishing
itself and has not yet fully overcome the obstacles created by the minority
media . . ."
In other words, the state, which controls 90% of the media
and has a monopoly of the airwaves, still hasn't managed after 25 years of
Stalinist controls to convince the populace of the authenticity of its voice
or the credibility of its views. So other voices must be silenced while
Mahoso and his state-pensioners turn up the volume of their tinny
Mahoso thinks judges that expose post-liberation corruption
should be brought before a war crimes tribunal. As Anna Tibaijuka came close
to recommending the same sort of thing for those who have recently inflicted
such suffering upon Zimbabwe's urban populace, the note of panic in Mahoso's
voice was understandable.
Meanwhile, Muckraker wants to know what's
going to happen to Manheru after his recent undressing by Jonathan Moyo. The
former Information minister recently fired a broadside at his permanent
secretary, George Charamba, who he said writes the Manheru column, for
threatening Moyo with Chikurubi if he discloses cabinet secrets in his
Judging by the tenor of his response, Moyo is unlikely to be
intimidated by warnings from Charamba, who was backed up this week by Bright
Matonga wielding a cabinet handbook.
Just for the record, Muckraker
understands that Moyo penned Manheru for the first 10 weeks of its venomous
life and then handed it on to Charamba while the real Nathaniel colonised
new territory in the Sunday Mail.
Nobody could ever accuse Moyo of being
lazy! We gather his forthcoming kiss-and-tell publication is awaited with
trepidation in official circles. Let's hope it sees the light of day.
Muckraker's proposed title, "Voting for Moyo", is unlikely to be taken up.
Eddison Zvobgo's working title for his magnum opus, "The Fall of a
Dictator", might be worth borrowing but the final chapter is likely to pose
something of a problem. So is "Robert Mugabe: My Part In His Downfall".
Perhaps readers have their own suggestions.
We see Joseph Made is
making crop forecasts again. We would have thought this was inadvisable for
this particular minister who has been, how shall we say, a little wide of
the mark in his previous projections.
We all recall the bumper maize
harvest that never was. That was the product of an aerial survey. Now we
hear winter wheat production is expected to double. Let's wait and see. Will
it share the same fate as Herbert Murerwa's expected 28% rise in
Made's crop forecasts are about as credible as
Then we had this gem from Not-So-Bright when asked whether
there would be a commission of inquiry into who was responsible for
Operation Murambatsvina so its perpetrators can one day be prosecuted: "It
was a government initiative. No one person was responsible."
convenient! But if that's the case, why wasn't it discussed in
Meanwhile, Zimbabwe's ambassador to the UN, Boniface
Chidyausiku, said Anna Tibaijuka's report was "a big let-up".
confusion is understandable. The government adheres to the official position
that while it doesn't like the language of the report, it does not reject
it. But somebody forgot to tell the state media!
Didymus Mutasa is also a
bit confused. He doesn't recall Reserve Bank governor Gideon Gono asking
white farmers to return to the land.
For the record, this is what Gono
said in his latest monetary policy statement:
"In order to ensure
maximum productivity levels, there is great scope in the country for
promoting and supporting ventures between new farmers with
progressive-minded former operators of horticultural estates . . . so as to
hasten skills transfer."
Either Mutasa wasn't listening or he doesn't
care. From this false premise he proceeded to berate the press. It was
"unfortunate that journalists had decided to peddle lies when reporting on
land reform issues", he told the Sunday Mail, whose reporter Emilia Zindi
also appears to have forgotten Gono's statement. Evidently, being a
beneficiary of state patronage makes one forgetful.
"Why did we
repossess land in the first place?" Mutasa asked. "The land here is for the
black people and we are not going to give it back to anybody. We are not
inviting any white farmers back, never."
Anybody recalling reports in
2000 of the president and ministers saying "we just want to share the land"
will not be surprised by this aggressive tone. Claims of sharing were aimed
at hoodwinking an international audience. Mutasa's racist remarks are the
reality. And, once again, we see the rogue coterie around Mugabe sabotaging
any prospect Gono might hold out of agricultural recovery.
was in doubt as to the stumbling block in Zimbabwe's quest for a return to
normalcy, that doubt must have been cleared after President Mugabe's
unstatesmanlike comments this week. While it is clear to all who have the
interests of the nation at heart that Zanu PF on its own has woefully failed
to solve the country's crises, Mugabe wants to place that burden not on
Zimbabweans, but on foreigners, especially the Chinese.
does one explain his obdurate refusal to have Zimbabweans debate their
problems to find a way forward?
Speaking on his arrival from his new
colonial masters in Beijing, he said the opposition MDC could only discuss
with Zanu PF in the confines of parliament. He said there was no chance of a
partnership between the two parties.
"Anyone who seeks to foster
relations with the MDC will be going against our democratic principles and
we shall resist that stance from whomsoever," declared Mugabe oblivious to
the irony between the said democratic principles and his fundamentalist
opposition to dialogue.
The comments must come as a major rebuff to South
African President Thabo Mbeki and AU chair Olusegun Obasanjo who have been
pushing for internal dialogue instead of external pressure.
not for the abject poltroonery among Mugabe's lieutenants in Zanu PF, they
would have told him the obvious thing that the solution to Zimbabwe's
problems lies with Zimbabweans working together, not in worshipping the
Why does he think the Chinese would be keen to solve
problems of our own making? Apart from finding markets for its overheating
economy, there is no sign that China wants to be taken as a charity
organisation coming to Zimbabwe's aid for no charge. It would be extremely
naïve if Mugabe thought that is what he was getting.
it by coincidence that now we hear less and less of "sovereignty" as the
country gets more entrapped by the Chinese? And they want us to believe
Zimbabwe will never be a colony again. That slogan is beginning to sound
very hollow indeed as the begging gets more desperate.
Is anybody taking
Mugabe seriously about his Look East fishing expeditions? Zimbabweans are
their own saviours, not the Chinese.
The Independent reported recently
that government's information management was in tatters. That has been borne
out by conflicting statements almost on a daily basis.
example was the searing Tibaijuka report. It was initially dismissed as
biased. President Mugabe claimed from China to have talked to Tibaijuka who
told him "her hands were tied" when she wrote the report. There was a volte
face last week when Information deputy Minister Bright Matonga said
government "had not condemned" the report but was instead working with the
UN to rehabilitate people displaced under Operation
This week the mandarin at the MIC called Tibaijuka's
report "fake" and accused Kofi Annan's envoy of seeking to further the MDC's
"final push" agenda.
Whatever the bluster about Zimbabwe not doing
this or that, there is evident panic by a regime clutching at straws because
it is isolated from the international community.
This is also evident
in the confusion about government's position concerning the report. This
heightened when there were indications that the report would be presented to
the United Nations Security Council. The president had to rush to China to
plead for its veto.
"We are a revolutionary party," Mugabe boasted after
his trip to China. "We derive our power from the people, that is where we
came from as the government of Zimbabwe after the elections," he
Then why does he have to go around begging for support from
countries such as China, Tanzania and Russia to justify his government's
actions? How many victims of his tsunami operation would say they knew they
were voting for the demolition of their homes, we wonder?
this week revealed what lies in store for us. One of its columnists pointed
out that after currency reforms in 1924 ended what Germans call die grosse
inflation, their country enjoyed an economic boom. But first there had to be
"If we want honey at the end of the war against inflation we
must be prepared to be stung by the bees, like the Germans," the Herald
columnist blithely opined.
Does he mean we have to experience 8 000%
inflation and undergo the depredations of a crazed dictator and the
flattening of our cities before we make a complete recovery? Surely not?
A RECENT article in a state-controlled daily newspaper
bewailed the fact that Zimbabwe's "investment promotion initiative has been
disappointing". It noted that President Robert Mugabe had decreed that 2005
would be a year of investment, and that "the Minister of Finance, Herbert
Murerwa, and Reserve Bank governor, Gideon Gono, were also guided by this
pronouncement when they presented their fiscal and monetary policies late
last year and early this year".
The article claims "government did
its part when it pledged to adhere to bilateral and international
obligations, as well as the protection of foreign investments covered by
Bilateral Investment Protection and Promotion Agreements". But it then
scathingly attacks others for not ensuring that "local and foreign investors
set up shop in this country", stating that "sadly there is not much on the
ground to reflect the seriousness and total commitment towards attracting
In particular, the article castigates the Zimbabwe
Investment Centre (ZIC) and the Export Processing Zones Authority (EPZA) for
failure to deliver on investments, and claims that those organisations are
shielding behind a "myriad of reasons" for "the seeming lack of progress".
In belittling the defences cited by ZIC and EPZA, the article's author
particularly rebuts any suggestion that fuel shortages are in any manner a
deterrent to investment.
She contends that the "National Oil Company of
Zimbabwe has kept key institutions of the economy well oiled". If that is
so, then Air Zimbabwe is not a "key institution", for it is recurrently
cancelling flights due to lack of fuel. In like manner, if Noczim is
assuring fuel supplies to key institutions, then all enterprises in the
manufacturing sector, most mines and almost the entirety of the tourism
operators are not key institutions.
In fact, it is not surprising that so
few presently see Zimbabwe as an investment haven. The first negative is the
economic environment, for years of ongoing hyperinflation, exacerbated by
the reversal of the 2004 decline in inflation rates, despite the efforts of
the governor of the Reserve Bank, massive scarcities of foreign exchange
and, therefore, of manufacturing and other operational inputs, endless
governmental regulation and threats of price controls and of punitive
actions against those spuriously accused of creating product shortages, are
major investment deterrents.
A second key factor is the widespread
scepticism as to the genuineness of the government's assurances. Admittedly
it has stated the intent to honour Bilateral Investment Protection
Agreements (BIPAs), but has yet to be seen to be doing so. Farms and
conservancies acquired by the state by compulsion, as distinct from a
"willing buyer, willing seller" basis, have yet to be returned to their
rightful owners who were entitled to BIPA protection, although in some
instances more than four years have elapsed since the government acquired
them, and nearly a year since it said that it would respect
Moreover, in cases where farms owned by foreign nationals to whom
BIPAs apply were not acquired by the state, but were unlawfully occupied by
those who "helped themselves", the government has failed to act. This is
even the case in some instances where the courts have justly given eviction
orders, but six or more months later the police have steadfastly refused to
implement the orders, and provincial administrators disdainfully ignore
appeals for assistance in having the law enforced.
But currently the
greatest factor in discouraging investment is that the government continues
to erode any confidence in its good faith, its ability to govern in the best
interests of the country and its populace, and in particular in its
credibility. This has become especially pronounced in its reactions to the
report of Anna Tibaijuka, special envoy of the United Nations
Secretary-General Kofi Annan on Operation Murambatsvina. That operation was
an unmitigated disgrace, for even if the objectives, which it sought to
attain, were sound, the uncalled for violence, cruelty, abuse of power and
inhumanity cannot be condoned.
Had Operation Garikai been launched first,
bringing into being the necessary housing and trading areas, and had
Operation Murambatsvina then been implemented after, first according its
victims the opportunity to relocate to the then constructed houses and
trading sites, and that implementation been carried out humanely, none could
However, with Operation Murambatsvina preceding Operation
Garikai, with the wanton destruction of property, including the slashing of
bags of food, the burning of carvings and curios, of clothing and many other
goods, and the beating of people occupying shanties and unauthorised trading
zones solely because of their extreme poverty, the government demonstrated a
lack of forward thinking and planning, and an inability or unwillingness to
control and contain its supposed enforcers of law and order.
instead of maturely admitting to its errors and defaults, the government
sought vigorously to justify the wrongs. When the UN secretary-general sent
his special envoy, the government enthusiastically welcomed her; the
president and his ministers met extensively with her, and ensured that the
state-controlled media would sing her praises vociferously.
after she had departed Zimbabwe, and issued her report, which was highly
condemnatory of the government, there was an immediate transformation in the
government's attitude. In sharp contrast to their previously expressed
immense regard for her, they vilified her and her report. With great lack of
originality, they cast blame upon British Prime Minister Tony Blair,
alleging that he had influenced her into producing a false report.
the government did so was not surprising, despite being devoid of
credibility, for it has for years attributed blame for virtually everything
to its most disliked critic, Blair.
All these actions, and many more
have virtually destroyed investor confidence in the credibility of the
government, and a key factor that any potential investor considers is
whether it can believe in statements and assurances given by the government,
and whether it can trust the government.
Chimakure Assistant News Editor issue date :2005-Aug-05
tycoon and Zanu (PF) member James Makamba - facing five charges of illegally
dealing in foreign currency - has not fled the country, but is in South
Africa together with Makonde legislator Leo Mugabe on Telecel Zimbabwe
business. Makamba is chairman of Telecel Zimbabwe while Mugabe is a
board member of the country's third largest mobile phone operator. This
latest development came amid reports the former Zanu (PF) Member of
Parliament for Mount Darwin had sought sanctuary abroad after the Supreme
Court last week overturned a High Court decision to acquit him on the
externalisation charges and ordered his trial to continue in the
magistrate's court. In a telephone interview from Johannesburg yesterday,
Makamba, who was on roaming, denied that he fled Zimbabwe and said he would
be returning home soon, before referring further questions to his lawyer,
George Chikumbirike. "Since my release from remand custody last year, I have
travelled outside the country," Makamba told The Daily Mirror. "This is my
sixth or seventh trip and am I obliged to announce wherever I go? Hungave
upenyu here ihwohwo, vakomana? (Loosely translated: Can that be life,
guys?)." Chikumbirike last night also insisted that Makamba was not on the
run, adding the former radio personality left the country on a business trip
on June 17 - way before the Supreme Court had set the day for its
verdict. "Makamba left the country on June 17 and I must add that there were
no terms set for him when travelling abroad because he is a freeman,"
Chikumbirike said. "Makamba is definitely coming back as soon as he is
through with his business, or alternatively if required by authorities he is
more than happy to come. The issue is that the AG's office is yet to
indicate a definitive date." Chikumbirike said after last Friday's
Supreme Court ruling, he approached the AG's office to find out when
Makamba's trial would continue to enable him to advice his client
accordingly. "As I earlier indicated, I went to the AG's office seeking
clarification as to when they will require Makamba to attend court. At this
stage they do not have any date they for the continuation of trial. They
shall revert to me as soon as one is at hand." The High Court last year
acquitted the former Zanu PF provincial chairman for Mashonaland Central on
charges of snapping the Exchange Control Act. But the superior court reversed
the decision and ordered the case be referred back to magistrates for
continuation and finalisation. This week, the director of Public
Prosecutions, Joseph Musakwa was in the media saying the AG's office was yet
to set Makamba's trial date. Musakwa said regional magistrate Virginia
Sithole who presided over the case had since left the bench, and
arrangements have to be made for her to return and conclude the
matter. Sithole was hearing the trial when Makamba applied to the High Court
for acquittal at the end of State submissions. The matter was later referred
to the higher court for review. The Supreme Court overturned the High
Court decision upon the prosecution's appeal. Makamba was arrested in
February last year and spent over six months in remand prison charged with
11 counts of illegally dealing in foreign currency. He pleaded guilty to
six counts of selling US$133 000 to Telecel Zimbabwe, an unauthorised
dealer, and was fined $7,3 million. The high profile arrest was followed by
former finance minister Chris Kuruneri's on similar charges, as government
intensified efforts to crush graft once and for all. Kuruneri was
released on $50 million bail last month by the Supreme Court amid tough
conditions, among them, a 24-hour house arrest.
Besides the contradictory positions taken by government on the loan
to Zimbabwe, we find it repulsive that Cabinet can decide in principle to
give a loan to the Zimbabwean government without any conditions
The SA government may have assumed this position after hearing
that President Robert Mugabe has been angered by the conditions attached to
the loan. The South African government must tell us why they are so scared
of Mugabe. When they have to confront him on the suffering he is causing to
this own people, they refer to his destruction campaigns as an internal
matter. This is both shocking and unacceptable.
President Thabo Mbeki
is reported to have stressed in Pretoria on Sunday that any financial
assistance to Zimbabwe would come with economic and political
A few days later, Government Communication and Information
System (GCIS) Head, Joel Netshitenzhe, in response to the question whether
any assistance to Zimbabwe would come with conditions attached, reportedly
said that the South African government did not relate to other countries on
the basis of conditions.
The South African government must be exposed
for their hypocrisy and false claims that they believe in the rule of law
when they clearly support a despot who is a specialist in the politics of
The ACDP supports every kind of humanitarian aid to the
suffering people of Zimbabwe caused by the Mugabe regime and not aid to a
ruthless and oppressive government that has destroyed homes and small
businesses of people making an honest living. According to the United
Nations report on Harare's campaign of demolition, about 700 000 people have
been left homeless and a further 2.4 million people have been negatively
affected by a ruthless regime that is protected and defended by the South
We call on the South African government to stop
perpetuating the suffering of the poor people of Zimbabwe by propping up the
ruthless Mugabe regime that is defying international calls for an end to
their brutality. For as long as President Mbeki and his government support
the Zimbabwean government's brutality, they will be seen to be equally
guilty of human rights abuses and the suffering of millions of Zimbabwean
Unless the South African government changes their attitude and
strategy to the Zimbabwean crisis, NEPAD is doomed to fail.
FORMER local government deputy minister Tony Gara and a Zanu
(PF) member Shepherd Chironga have filed a $110 million defamation suit in
the High Court against the ruling party chairman for Joshua Nkomo district
in Mbare, Modern Namion Chirwa. Gara and Chironga in their court papers
filed on 7 July 2005 claimed that on 23 January, Chirwa claimed they were
homosexuals in front of a congregation. "In the process of threatening the
2nd plaintiff (Chironga) the defendant stated to the 2nd plaintiff the
following words and concerning the 1st and 2nd plaintiffs namely: "Iwe na
Tony Gara (the 1st plaintiff) muringochani dzevanhu. Uri mukadzi waTony Gara
(You and Tony Gara are homosexuals. You are Tony Gara's wife.)," read the
plaintiffs declaration. Gara and Chironga are claiming $80 million and $30
million respectively. But Chirwa in his opposing declaration expected to have
been filed on Wednesday, denied defaming the two. He also claimed that his
differences with the applicants were political and accused Gara of not
following Zanu (PF) protocol, resulting in the party's Harare province
passing a vote of no confidence in him early this year. He said he had
known Gara and Chironga for over 15 years as political associates only. "Our
political relationship was strained when the 2nd plaintiff and others failed
to secure positions in our Zanu PF Joshua Nkomo District," reads Chirwa's
declaration. "I won the position of chairman of the district and a full
compliment of the district committee was also elected together with me. The
2nd plaintiff and his supporters walked out of the election process in
protest alleging that the elections were not free and fair." After that, he
claimed, Chironga appealed to Gara for support to influence the
nullification of the election results in October 2003 during Zanu PF's
restructuring process. He alleged that since then Chironga and his supporters
with the blessing of Gara have been trying to establish a parallel district
known as Mbare 8. "This has been done secretly and against the party's
constitution," Chirwa alleged. Further, he claimed, Gara - a former
councillor and MP for the then Mbare East constituency for 20 years until
2000 when he lost to an MDC candidate - in 2004 sought Zanu (PF) support to
be elected into the central committee, but however lost to Edward
Chataika.Declared Chirwa: "In 2005 1st plaintiff sought party support to
contest the 2005 parliamentary elections. He lost to Tendai Savanhu who then
stood for the party in Mbare constituency against an MDC
candidate. "First plaintiff did not get the party support to contest in the
primary elections because he was disqualified by the party's Harare province
for reasons best known to him. "It is this political background that has
strained my relationship with the two plaintiffs and nothing else." Gara,
Chirwa added, went further to strain his relations within Zanu (PF.) "First
plaintiff has gone further to strain his relationship with the majority of
party members in the constituency because of not following party protocols
in most of his political activities. This has influenced the Harare province
to pass a vote of no confidence in him. In addition 1st plaintiff is not on
the 2005 voters roll of Mbare constituency," declared Chirwa. He claims
that indeed he quarrelled with Chironga on the day in question, but Gara was
not at the scene and moreover his lawsuit was premised on hearsay from his
co-plaintiff. "This false statement by 2nd plaintiff is meant to attract the
support of 1st plaintiff to 2nd plaintiff so that he may get some financial
and material benefit. "What I know is that on the day mentioned, I had a
serious exchange of argument with the 2nd plaintiff over the quality of
leadership between Gara and Tendai Savanhu. I was for Savanhu and he was for
Gara. It is then that I emotionally pushed him to the ground. I paid an
admission of guilty fine of $25 000 for public violence. Other than that, I
know nothing about the alleged defamatory statement I am alleged to have
made by the 2nd plaintiff," added Chirwa.