Thursday, 23 December 2010 19:18
VICE-PRESIDENT Joice Mujuru will have nightmarish holidays after sinking
deeper into political trouble this week following a foiled campaign at the
recent Zanu PF conference for leadership renewal in the party.
Informed sources said the situation, coming in quick succession to
accusations that she collaborated with Finance minister Tendai Biti in a
failed bid to usurp President Robert Mugabe’s exchange control regulatory
powers, has put the Zanu PF heavyweight in a sea of trouble.
The sources said Mugabe’s security agents intercepted fliers at the
conference — some written “We want Leadership Renewal!” — from a group of
political activists connected to the Mujuru faction. The activists were
picked up at different places and whisked away for interrogation after which
they revealed they were members of the Mujuru camp.
An intelligence source confirmed that state security operatives had foiled a
“political plot” to instigate an internal revolt in Zanu PF against Mugabe.
The source said Mujuru was linked to the political manoeuvring.
“We picked up some political activists in Mutare central business district
and around the conference who had an agenda to cause trouble,” the source
said “They wanted to agitate for leadership renewal in the party and had
some placards written ‘We want Leadership Renewal’.”
“We took them to different places and some of them to Chimoio in Mozambique
and they told us that they were campaigning for Mujuru to take over as
leader of Zanu PF. The plan was to distribute the posters all over the place
and create a tension-filled, politically-charged environment at the
Zanu PF spokesman Rugare Gumbo said he did not know anything about the
incident. “Frankly speaking, I haven’t heard anything about it. If there
were people who did that, it must have been outside the venue of the
conference. You can’t rule out mischief but I don’t know anything about it,”
Mujuru could not be reached for comment at the time of going to press last
However, sources insisted that there were fliers and placards which were
mopped up and sent to Mugabe and those around him.
The issue, sources said, had ruffled Mugabe’s feathers while further
alienating Mujuru from the Zanu PF leader who was still fuming after she was
linked to an alleged plot by Biti to strip Mugabe of critical regulatory
powers under the Exchange Control Act.
“The president is now aware of Mujuru’s ambitions and her manoeuvres,”
another source said. “He feels she has damaged her case with these recent
events and has ruled her out of the race to succeed him unless she could
pull it off on her own.”
Sources said a report on the issue had been compiled for Mugabe and this has
now convinced him that Mujuru was on a crusade to take over as Zanu PF
The situation has been exacerbated by a recent failed bid by the Mujuru
faction to push for an extraordinary congress just before the conference to
choose the party’s candidate for the next elections. Conference endorsed
Mugabe as the party’s presidential candidate. Mugabe this time managed to
easily secure the endorsement after a bruising struggle ahead of the 2008
Sources said the Mujuru faction tried to use the central committee to push
for an extraordinary congress. In terms of the Zanu PF constitution, an
extraordinary congress, which only deliberates on those matters for which it
has been specifically called, may be convened at the instance of the central
committee or the president of the party.
In the run-up to the conference, sources said, the Mujuru faction wanted an
extraordinary congress to decide who would be the party’s candidate in the
next elections. The Mujuru faction succeeded in 2007 in forcing Mugabe to
accept an extraordinary congress which was designed to remove him from the
party’s leadership position. Former Zanu PF politburo senior members, Dumiso
Dabengwa and Simba Makoni – who were aligned to the Mujuru faction – led the
The two later confirmed that they had wanted to push for “leadership
renewal” in the party. Dabengwa and Makoni quit the party soon after their
failed bid to oust Mugabe and formed Mavambo/Kusile/Dawn to challenge Mugabe
for power. Makoni was fielded as the candidate and managed to secure 8% of
the vote, denying frontrunner, MDC-T leader Morgan Tsvangirai, an outright
A few years ago Mugabe angrily berated Mujuru in an interview on state
television for allegedly plotting to oust him. This followed the publication
by media and book publisher Ibbo Mandaza of a controversial autobiography by
veteran nationalist Edgar Tekere – A Lifetime of Struggle – which questioned
Mugabe’s claims of being a towering liberation war hero.
Tekere effectively painted a picture of Mugabe as a vocal coward who did not
even wear military fatigues during visits to the battle front or knew how to
fire a gun. He also shed light on the dark corners of Mugabe’s personal life
history which was not previously known.
This angered Mugabe, who always seems anxious to keep his private life and
shady background secretive, as he suspected Mandaza, a former senior civil
servant, of working in collaboration with the Mujuru camp to undermine him.
Mandaza was aligned to the Mujuru faction in Zanu PF and was part of the
team which supported Makoni’s presidential bid. Makoni was a Mujuru ally
before he left Zanu PF in 2008 just before the elections.
At a rally on March 2 2008 in Highfield, Tekere endorsed Makoni who was
running against Mugabe in the March 2008 presidential poll. Tekere said that
he was “appointing himself principal campaigner for Mugabe’s downfall”.
Thursday, 23 December 2010 19:15
ZANU PF is in a financial mess after incurring a US$3,4 million deficit this
year, posing a threat to the party’s restructuring and elections campaign
scheduled for next year, a report by the party’s central committee has
The report, which provides an insight into the state of the party, its
finances, mobilisation strategies and other party activities, showed that
Zanu PF was consuming more than it generated.
“Generally, there are high expenditure requests from service departments,
but there is need for prioritisation, considering the small inflows of
revenue from donations, sale of membership cards and subscriptions, among
others,” read the report.
Due to the financial problems, Zanu PF failed to revive its propaganda
mouthpiece, Zimbabwe News, which is a monthly publication, the report said.
The party was also in a quandary as to how it would be able to replenish its
ageing vehicle fleet ahead of the anticipated elections. The current party
fleet stands at 200 running and non-running motor vehicles.
Zanu PF’s expenses during the year amounted to US$6 333 581 compared to a
US$2 929 991 revenue that the party generated from membership fees,
donations, a government grant, fundraising and conference hall hire.
At its current expenditure and fundraising rate, Zanu PF has to more than
double its revenue generation efforts, and keep expenses down, if it is to
The largest cash gobbler was last week’s conference in Mutare, which
consumed US$3,3 million for accommodation, food, transport, equipment hire
and renovations to Marymount college and a clinic in that area.
In a report that was presented during the conference, the party’s finance
department said given the tight liquidity prevailing since the adoption of
multiple currencies in February last year, Zanu PF was surviving on bank
overdrafts with high interest charges.
As a result, Zanu PF paid US$826 970 in bank charges during the year.
Apart from paying dearly for the conference, Zanu PF’s wage bill was the
second largest expense after conference hosting bills at US$1,171 million
during the year.
This, according to the party’s finance department, was a 102% increase on
the previous year as they had moved from paying allowances to real salaries.
Zanu PF also spent US$423 446 for its constitutional meetings.
The party received its largest chunk of money — US$1,094 million —- from
government through a grant under the Political Parties (Finance) Act.
The Political Parties (Finance) Act stipulates that parties with a
representation in parliament enjoy a government grant for purposes of
Other revenue generation efforts have largely drawn blanks and despite
printing more than 1,6 million cards for sale to members across the country,
Zanu PF only managed to raise US$166 384. The cards are sold at US$1 each.
“The low sales of cards and payment of subscriptions are indications of how
the generality of membership is finding it difficult to raise the required
cash due to the economic hardships,” said the party.
Zanu PF received US$721 280 in donations and US$ 114 679 through
fundraising. The national fundraising committee had set a target of US$1,5
million and each province was supposed to raise US$150 000 each.
Zanu PF has been hit hard by the economic difficulties as there was no
dividend from its investments.
The party has investments in listed companies, joint ventures and firms
which are wholly owned by Zanu PF.
Zanu PF said some of their companies had to be recapitalised and given the
state of the party’s affairs, it remains to be seen how they would be able
to raise the required cash.
One company, which was singled out for recapitalisation, was the party’s
printing and publishing firm, Jongwe, which faces serious problems.
“At the time of reporting, the company’s state of the art Solna machine
could not print colour works forcing them to print colour sections on a
smaller machine which is not adequate for the newspaper industry,” said the
information and publicity secretariat in the report.
“The origination of films is being outsourced because the company machine is
down. Jongwe Printing and Publishing needs about US$100 000 to enable it to
repair machinery and bring it back to its feet.”
It was also reported that the People’s Voice, the weekly publication, was
faced with serious constraints and had no vehicles for its functions.
Thursday, 23 December 2010 19:14
ZIMBABWE’s civic society, journalists and political parties have called on
the police to prosecute perpetrators of politically-motivated violence amid
fears that the next election could be just as bloody and disputed as the
The group of journalists, politicians and members of civic society who
attended a Zimbabwe Union of Journalists conference this week said law
enforcers should expedite investigations of cases of pre- and post-election
violence affecting women and children so that the perpetrators can be
brought to justice.
In their resolutions, they said: “We want the police to police the law” and
“reforms are needed first before we get into an election”.
MDC-T MP Dzivarasekwa Evelyn Masaiti said government should expedite the
national healing process and promote tolerance among parties.
“The issue is not about when people should have elections, they could have
been held yesterday or today with the same result,” she said. “The issue is
to end violence and leaders should educate their supporters to be tolerant.”
One participant who works for Childline raised some concern at the way the
police handle rape cases.
“We are worried that we report a case and police officers tell you that they
can’t do anything about it, even the ones who we think are most senior at
these stations,” she said.
The 2008 harmonised elections and the subsequent presidential run-off,
according to human rights groups, recorded the worst abuses in Zimbabwe’s
The Zimbabwe Peace Project (ZPP) reported that more than 16 000 cases of
politically motivated violence were reported, 14 rape cases, more than 2 000
of assault and more than 400 cases of torture and kidnapping. MDC-M women’s
assembly representative Ellen Gonyora criticised the legal system for
turning a blind eye to gross human rights abuses committed during elections.
She said there were many cases of sexual abuse of girls and women in 2008,
which were ignored not only by the police, but also by politicians whom she
said seem to be now living comfortably forgetting about the abused people
who campaigned for them.
“We are raped and abused whilst these female ministers and the people we
campaign for are living in the comfort of their homes,” Gonyora said.
Taurai Mangudhla/Berven Chatendeuka
Thursday, 23 December 2010 19:13
MDC-M secretary-general Welshman Ncube has warned that President Robert
Mugabe’s call for an early election mid-next year could spark violence and
result in an economic downturn.
Ncube, now tipped to take over from deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara
as leader of the smaller MDC formation, on Tuesday evening posted anti-early
poll remarks on his social media Facebook page that attracted mixed
reactions. This comes amid discordant positions by leaders of the coalition
government on early elections to end the inclusive government formed last
year after a disputed presidential run-off in 2008.
Ncube’s sentiments came four days after Mugabe told delegates at the Zanu PF
annual conference in Mutare that Zimbabweans would cast the ballot next June
following growing differences between principals of the coalition — Mugabe,
Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and Mutambara.
“A premature election will be disputed, violent, disastrous and in all
likelihood not lead to transfer of power as some seem to think,” Ncube said.
The Industry and Commerce minister said an election could derail Zimbabwe’s
prospects of registering double-digit economic growth in the coming year.
Finance minister Tendai Biti expects GDP to grow by 8,1% this year, further
projecting a double digit growth within the next five years.
“We are therefore against it and call for support in this regard,” Ncube
“We hope that reason will prevail and elections come after the reforms that
will guarantee a peaceful, credible election, where the loser congratulates
the winner and that leads us towards a prosperous Zimbabwe.”
When asked by his Facebook friends whether he was prepared to contest in an
election after losing a Makokoba seat to Deputy Prime Minister Thokozani
Khupe (MDC-T), Ncube said: “I have never believed in boycott politics and
personally would want to contest every single seat possible.
“We cannot continue on a route that we have pursued for many years and
expect a different result. An election without reforms will be no different
to previous ones. It will take us back many years economically and take us
to our trenches where we are divided and fighting each other. You must join
us in pushing for the full implementation of the GPA. It is only then when
we will have a free and fair election.”
Tsvangirai, after winning the first round of elections in March, although
not by a margin required by law to form a government, pulled out of the
presidential run-off after an orgy of violence against his supporters by
Zanu PF, state security agents and war veterans. The MDC-T claims that over
200 of its supporters were killed and thousands maimed and displaced.
The MDC-T leader recently said he would only contest the next elections if
the country implements a Sadc-initiated electoral roadmap.
Ncube said Mugabe and Tsvangirai should not “overrate their popularity (or)
underestimate the perilous conditions” that will make an election
Instead, he said, the polls should come after a national healing process and
electoral reforms. Mugabe has in recent months threatened to call for an
election before constitutional reforms, a decision critics view as
authoritarian and in violation of the power-sharing pact.
“We were at the same position before the senate elections (of 2005) were
called. We were negotiating a deal (in 2007) similar to this one, and had
come to an agreement when some within our ranks decided to snub the deal
which resulted in more decline and after much unnecessary loss of life and
further hurt, these same people came to accept a deal much worse than that
which we are now under,” Ncube said.
In June 2007, Ncube, Biti, MDC-T Secretary-General, Justice Minister Patrick
Chinamasa and the then Labour Minister Nicholas Goche met with former South
African President Thabo Mbeki, appointed by Sadc to preside over
negotiations which sought to end economic and political decline in Zimbabwe.
Meanwhile, constitutional reform chairperson Douglas Mwonzora has said a
referendum to bring in a new constitution if the draft is accepted would be
held in September, which would suggest a delay of elections which Mugabe
wants in June next year.
Thursday, 23 December 2010 19:11
MDC-T leader Morgan Tsvangirai will remain at the helm of his party after
its national council reached a consensus last week not to challenge him at
the party’s congress to be held by May 30 next year, sources in the party
The sources told the Zimbabwe Independent that although the issue was
debated, there was general agreement that no one should contest the
president’s post at the congress.
“There was a general agreement at the meeting that no one should challenge
MT (Morgan Tsvangirai) — that no one should contest that position. The issue
was not debated as such but the feeling was that he should remain the party
leader,” said one of the sources.
A national executive official, who refused to be named for fear of being
accused of leaking the story, said the issue of leadership renewal would be
discussed at the congress and Tsvangirai was still legible for re-election,
as there were no term limits in the current party constitution.
“Why should we discuss the matter at the national council meeting, we will
discuss it at the congress next year,” he said.
In its resolutions last week, the party said “council waives strict
compliance with the time limits provided in the constitution,” without
The MDC-T dropped from its constitution a clause limiting the party
president’s terms in office, thus extending Tsvangirai’s tenure to beyond
2011. Tsvangirai has been at the helm of the party since its formation in
1999. It removed clause 6.1.3, which said the president shall serve for a
maximum of two five-year terms.
This amendment was not brought before the party’s last congress in 2006.
According to the MDC constitution, any amendment to the constitution
requires at least two-thirds of delegates present at the congress to vote
Also removed from the constitution was the term limit for the
Our sister paper, NewsDay quoted MDC-T spokesperson Nelson Chamisa when he
was asked about the possibility of the MDC-T changing leaders, saying it was
up to the congress to decide.
He said none of the party’s leaders had served for two terms since the party
had been restructured following the 2005 split, adding that there was no
limit to the number of years one could lead the party outside government.
Chamisa said the two terms count when one is the president of the country.
“We are apostles of constitutionalism and disciples and doyens of democracy.
The congress will decide on the leadership but I am not a seer or a prophet,
so I cannot pre-empt what will happen,” he said. “But there is nothing like
the two-term limits. The two-term limit is in relation to the governance of
the country. And besides, nobody in the leadership has served two terms
because the first conference was in 2006. The constitution in operation had
its life and gestation period in 2006.” Chamisa yesterday declined to
comment on the issue.
In the council meeting, MDC-T also said only presidential elections should
be held next year, followed by a harmonised poll in 2013.
Sources who attended the meeting said it was mostly current sitting MPs who
spoke strongly against harmonised polls while another group of national
council members who would have wanted to contest elections if they are held
in 2011 wanted harmonised elections. Sources said the majority were in
favour of harmonised polls until Tsvangirai suggested that they agree on
presidential elections alone.
“The debate was tense. Sitting MPs were moving strongly the position that we
should have only presidential elections. Their argument was that the next
elections should be treated like a presidential run-off to conclude the
previous March 2008 polls,” the source said. “It is the run-off that needs
to be completed to deal with the disputed 2008 elections, which resulted in
the formation of this unity government. The next harmonised elections will
be held in 2013. What caused us to have an inclusive government is because
the presidential elections were inconclusive, so we are not in violation of
Amendment No. 18, which states that elections in Zimbabwe will be
Neither of the presidential candidates received the constitutional 50% plus
one vote in the March 2008 election, which led to the bloody June
presidential run-off. Tsvangirai pulled out of the June run-off elections,
citing violence and intimidation. MDC-T says more than 200 of its members
were killed during the run-up to the June elections and thousands others
were maimed and injured.
The resolution to have just presidential elections was welcomed by sitting
MPs, who just two weeks ago at a caucus meeting were pushing for a
resolution that no primary elections should be held in their constitutions.
They wanted primaries only in constituencies that fell vacant since 2008.
“Just two weeks ago at a caucus meeting, MPs said if harmonised elections
are held next year, there should not be primary elections in their
constituencies,” said the national council member.
Other sources on the national council said the decision to hold only
presidential elections was seen as a way to try and divide Zanu PF, which
has been hit by sharp divisions on elections.
Zanu PF MPs have publicly said they did not want elections next year and had
demanded compensation for the two years cut short. There is also another
group in Zanu PF’s leadership that does not want elections and would want to
see it delayed beyond 2011.
“The whole argument on presidential elections is also seen as a divisive
move to divide Zanu PF and it is also seen as a delay tactic to make sure
there are no elections next year. There will have to be another round of
negotiations around this,” said the national council member.
They also said in the event that elections are held next year, the
legislators also did not want primary elections in their constituencies.
However, their proposals were turned down, with Mugabe saying after last
week’s conference that if they did not want elections, they should “just
stay at home”.
Mugabe also spurned calls by MDC-T to have just presidential elections,
saying harmonised elections would be held as stated in Amendment 18.
Thursday, 23 December 2010 19:10
RESERVE Bank deputy board chairman Charles Kuwaza last week wrote a stinging
letter to parliament complaining that his career had become “collateral
damage” in an arena of “political kung-fu” as senators insinuated he had
influenced Finance minister Tendai Biti to amend laws to accommodate him on
the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (Zimra) board.
Kuwaza wrote on December 17 to clerk of parliament Austin Zvoma after
senators during a debate on the Finance Bill accused Biti of pushing an
amendment to allow individuals to sit on at least three state boards instead
of the current limit of two. The senators said the amendment was intended
to pave way for Kuwaza to become chairman of Zimra.
The RBZ deputy chairman also sits as executive chairman of the State
Biti has since made amendments to the Bill that had been recommended by
senate, which said no person should sit on more than two state boards.
Kuwaza said he had already turned down his appointment to the Zimra board
because it was against the country’s laws even though President Robert
Mugabe and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai had approved it.
“I am therefore unable to hold board appointments at the SPB, RBZ and
Revenue Authority simultaneously as that would be inconsistent with the
requirements of the law,” Kuwaza wrote in another letter to Biti in
September declining the appointment.
In his letter to Zvoma, Kuwaza said senators had been allowed to malign his
name hiding behind parliamentary “privilege” when they were fully aware that
he could not respond in parliament.
“It is astonishing to hear from the ZBC and to read press statements
attributed to certain senators in the august House that I had been closely
associated with clandestine, back-handed and corrupt initiatives to allow me
to sit on more than two statutory boards,” wrote Kuwaza. “This is clearly a
case where my name has been tarnished without the platform to respond in
parliament. Parliamentary privilege has been used to assassinate my
character. I take issue with that.”
Zvoma, in a telephone interview yesterday, confirmed receiving the letter
from Kuwaza and said a response would be made in due course.
“I received the letter and it is lying at my offices. A response would be
made in the New Year as currently we are closed for the holidays,” Zvoma
Kuwaza went the extra mile to prove that the appointments to RBZ and SPB
were done from the office of the President and Cabinet, not by Biti as
alleged in the senate.
Chief Secretary to the President and Cabinet Misheck Sibanda on April 16
wrote to Biti advising him of Kuwaza’s appointment to the RBZ board by
“Please be advised that His Excellency the President has approved the
appointments of the following board members for the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe
in terms of Section 22 of the Act: Gideon Gono, Charles Kuwaza (deputy
chairperson), Mr Willard Manungo, Mr Mordecai Pilate Mahlangu, Mr Daniel
Ndhlela, Mrs Primrose Kurasha, Mr George Smith (in place of Mr David
Govere), Prof Tony Hawkins, Dr Kombo Moyana, Ms Nyasha Zhou and Mr Godfrey
Kanyenze,” wrote Sibanda.
According to Statutory Instrument 49 of 2010, Assignment of Functions
(Office of the President and Cabinet), the president appoints the State
Procurement Board, not the Finance minister.
Kuwaza concluded his letter with a bold assertion on his willingness to
continue serving the country without allegiance to any political party.
“I will remain, as I have over the past 30 years, a professional public
servant and of course, a chess player of note. Bishops and Knights have no
political party! Neither has checkmate!”
The letter to Zvoma was copied to the editors of the Herald and the Zimbabwe
Independent as well as Sibanda. Kuwaza accused the press of complicity in
calling him Biti’s ally. The former Finance ministry permanent secretary is
conducting a war of attrition with RBZ governor Gideon Gono over the latter’s
management of the central bank.
Thursday, 23 December 2010 19:03
FORMER US ambassador to Zimbabwe James McGee feels that President Robert
Mugabe is “stuck in the past” and “desperate to re-engage with the world and
to be treated as an elder statesman”.
According to the latest US State Department cable on Zimbabwe hacked by
WikiLeaks, McGee and Democratic Party Congressman Donald Payne met Mugabe at
State House in May last year for a “surreal” three-hours of talks. The cable
authored by McGee was headed “Tea with Mugabe”.
It described Mugabe as “possibly the healthiest 85-year-old in Zimbabwe”.
Welcoming his guests Mugabe commented that “Zimbabwe hadn’t had many
Then he launched into an “hour-long monologue” in which he painted himself
“as the victim of international abuse and broken promises” and embarked on a
“long-winded rehashing of Zimbabwe’s history”.
He talked “non-stop … without so much as a sip of water or a clearing of the
throat”, declaring at one point that “we want to engage with the world”.
Growing “increasingly adamant and agitated”, Mugabe asked: “In the context
of all the countries in the world — are we really the worst?”
Payne then “gently and masterfully praised Mugabe for his liberation
credentials before confronting him about human rights abuses”.
Describing himself as having been a fan of Mugabe as a young man, Payne said
he had followed the Zimbabwean president’s “distinguished” career since its
beginnings “but noted that he is now concerned about the things he reads”.
Payne said there was a “stark dichotomy between the compassionate statesman
who fought for freedom … and the current government that now allows police
to beat black women (Woza) who dare protest”.
According to the cable, “Mugabe sank into the couch and appeared
expressionless and somewhat stunned.
“At the mention of police beating women, he responded with a puzzled look:
‘Which women? Where did they get them from?’”
Mugabe “neither confirmed nor denied the abuses” but “responded well to
Payne’s gentle confrontation”.
Then he piped up: “Well, I think we deserve some tea,” which to the
amusement of the Americans was served by staff in white gloves!
Efforts to get a comment from Mugabe’s spokesman George Charamba yesterday
were in vain as he was not reachable on his mobile phone. — Media24 and
Thursday, 23 December 2010 19:02
GOVERNMENT is probing Chinese companies for ill-treating workers and
violating health and safety regulations.
Labour minister Paurina Mpariwa told the Zimbabwe Independent this week that
the National Social Security Authority (NSSA) instituted the probe after
receiving reports that the Chinese were ill-treating workers to the extent
of even physically assaulting them.
Initial findings, she said, were that some of the companies were not even
registered. However, she was not at liberty to name the companies under
Mpariwa said: “NSSA through its Occupational Safety and Health Division
conducted the necessary investigations through site visits to ascertain the
“Of the companies visited so far it was established that eight companies
were violating health and safety regulations.”
The major violated regulations, she said, included lack of toilet
provisions, poor electrical installations, lack of personal protective
clothing, absence of personal guards on moving machinery and non
registration of the companies.
“NSSA suspended operations at the sites until all safety requirements are
met. Where fatal accidents occurred, the authority recommended prosecution
and the prosecution procedure is being followed,” Mpariwa said.
Zimbabwe Construction and Allied Traders Workers Union (ZCATWU) secretary
general Nicholas Mazarura on Wednesday said its members who are close to 12
000 were subjected to inhuman treatment and were deprived of protective
clothing by some of the Chinese companies.
He said most complaints the union received were from areas like Mahusekwa in
Mashonaland East, where the Chinese were constructing a clinic, Warren Park
in Harare where they are building schools, and companies along the Mazowe
Other areas from where complaints have been lodged with the ministry include
Mutare, Gweru and Bulawayo.
“Since early 2010 we have received complaints from our members regarding
gross violation of labour laws,” Mazarura said. “The most serious offence
the union has recorded from its members is physical assault. Workers
complained that some of their employers would assault them. Then there is
the issue to do with dismissal of workers without giving adequate notice,
absence of toilet facilities with women and men sharing the same toilet and
Mazarura said the workers were also complaining about failure by the Chinese
to provide protective clothing, underpayment of wages, working overtime
without payment and failure to submit pensions.
“ZCATWU would like to warn the Chinese constructors who are operating in
Zimbabwe that if they do not follow the laid-down rules, the union is going
to take strong action against them,” he said.
Efforts to resolve the disputes, Mazurara said, were in vain after the
Chinese firms reportedly claimed that they enjoyed “government immunity”.
Government partnered with Chinese investors through its “look-east policy”
in a desperate bid to attract foreign investment after diplomatic relations
with the West soured.
Mpariwa said her ministry was at an advanced stage in implementing
recommendations by the International Labour Organisation (ILO) so that the
country conformed to labour laws that are in line with ILO standards.
“The advisory council met several times to discuss proposals from
stakeholders. The harmonisation of the Labour Act and Public Service Act has
been largely accepted; what is left is to come up with principles to be
incorporated in the amendments,” she said.
On corruption allegations at NSSA where board members were accused in March
of abusing their positions by borrowing money from the parastatal for
personal use, Mpariwa said a national economic committee was appointed to
investigate the allegations and the ministry is awaiting the report of the
According to the 2010 Comptroller and Auditor-General report, senior
managers had access to loans, which constituted 47% of all approved loans.
Thursday, 23 December 2010 19:01
FUEL queues resurfaced at filling stations in and around Bulawayo as prices
went up, resulting in the re-emergence of the black market due to low
supplies in the city.
After a respite of several months, long-winding queues resurfaced a week ago
prompting a quick response from illegal dealers who have hiked prices.
The price of petrol has risen from US$1,20 per litre to as high as US$1,50
per litre on the black market, but at a few filling stations with stock, a
litre is pegged at US$1,30.
Fuel dealers said the rise in local prices was because of increases in crude
oil price on the international market and “logistical problems at Mozambique’s
Beira port from where Zimbabwe gets most of its supplies”.
They said rising water levels at the Mozambican port are making it difficult
for ships to dock, resulting in delays in fuel delivery.
Crude oil prices on the international market this week inched closer to
US$90 per barrel, but for a greater part of the year it was trading in the
The cost of crude oil and refined petrol and diesel on the world market is
influenced by a number of factors, including global demand, supply,
political events and manufacturing capability.
Crude oil makes up a significant portion of the cost of fuel and is traded
in US dollars as a commodity on the international market.
Refineries purchase crude oil on the international market to refine it into
petrol and diesel. The refined product is also traded on the international
market and has its own pricing.
Minister of Energy and Power Development Elton Mangoma yesterday told the
Zimbabwe Independent that though there could be isolated fuel shortages in
the country, one of the largest fuel dealers — Sakunda — on Tuesday assured
him that there is “enough stock for the holiday period countrywide”.
“Generally, there has been a slight rise of prices on the international
market due to a freeze in the northern hemisphere and that had pushed the
demand high. Locally, we might experience minor shortages” said Mangoma.
Mangoma said a rise on the international market and the current Christmas
and New Year holidays has resulted in some “unscrupulous dealers wanting to
make a few bucks”. He urged the nation not to panic.
“I was in conversation with officials from Sakunda yesterday (Tuesday) and
they assured me that they have enough stocks for the holidays,” Mangoma
said. “But some people may want to take advantage of isolated shortages to
make a few bucks during the holidays.”
But fuel attendants spoken to this week said they have “limited supplies of
fuel” for the holidays.
“Over the past two weeks, queues have been forming here (filling station) as
we have limited supplies. But motorists are just panicking hence the
emergency of the black market,” said one fuel attendant.
He added that they have been forced to limit to just 15 litres per vehicle
and on Wednesday morning there was a visible presence of police details at
Transport fares between Bulawayo and Harare have gone up to US$20 from the
usual US$12. It could not be verified whether this had a link to the fuel
Thursday, 23 December 2010 18:59
THE parliamentary portfolio committee on Public Service, Labour and Social
Welfare has blasted the National Social Security Authority (NSSA) board for
lack of sound investment decisions after the authority lost substantial
amounts when the country adopted the use of multiple currencies in 2009.
The committee chaired by Mazowe South MP Margaret Zinyemba felt that
contributors (pensioners) were let down by the NSSA board due to its lack of
professional investment decisions as reflected during the dollarisation
“The committee is concerned that NSSA did not take into account the lack of
adequate liquidity and good security. Due to lack of good sound investment
decisions, they allegedly lost a lot of money during dollarisation of the
economy,” said Zinyemba, when she recently tabled the committee’s first
report on NSSA’s activities in the House of Assembly. The committee did not
reveal how much the authority lost.
Zinyemba’s committee further noted that NSSA investments were not benefiting
contributors, neither were loans advanced by the scheme.
“Contributors are not benefiting from the housing schemes operated by NSSA
as the houses and stands are being allocated to those on housing waiting
lists from city councils,” the report noted.
Most pensioners who were on retirement by April 1 2009 receive US$25 monthly
after pensions were converted to US dollars.
The committee recommended that NSSA should do an audit of its books in order
to recover any residual value from beneficiaries of its loans.
“A forensic audit should be carried out in order to ascertain the benefits
accrued by the borrowers and therefore determine how much should be paid
back. The investment company should also institute recovery measures for
monies that were lost during the dollarisation process,” the committee said.
The authority has two housing projects in Marondera and Masvingo. The
Marondera project has 700 stands and 200 houses while that in Masvingo has
200 serviced stands. In Harare, NSSA in partnership with FBC Bank, is
developing 600-stands at Glaudina Park.
NSSA General Manager James Matiza confirmed to the committee that the
authority had lost all monetary assets and loans they had made after the
conversion to multiple currencies.
“Change over from Zimbabwe dollars to multiple currencies led to some loss
in investment funds. Virtually all monetary assets were lost and borrowers
did not return anything after the removal of zeros initiated by the Reserve
Bank of Zimbabwe,” the report quoted Matiza as having said.
The committee’s findings are buttressed by an August 2010 Comptroller and
Auditor-General report that raised similar concerns on the board’s conduct
of business in addition to giving loans to key management personnel.
The audit report noted that the authority had advanced a US$3 million loan
to two unregistered companies in a structured deal. It also noted that
senior managers had access to loans, which constituted 47% of all approved
“The authority should review its investment policy such that structured
deals are not used as a way of obtaining cheap funds at the expense of the
contributors. I suggest that the authority makes follow up on this issue,”
the audit report reads. The loan had been extended to ReNaissance Trading to
purchase wheat for flour-making. ReNaissance was at that time not registered
with the Registrar of Companies.
The audit report further admonished the NSSA board for lack of a proper
policy with companies it has shareholding in, such as Africom, FBC and MMC.
Africom was contracted to provide telecommunication services to NSSA yet the
authority has over 20% shareholding in that company.
FBC, in which NSSA has 20% shareholding and is the authority’s bankers, were
also contracted to sell Glaudina stands.
The authority used MMC stockbrokers to purchase Star Africa shares even
though one of the brokers’ managers was related to NSSA’s Investment
Settlement supervisor.MMC was also used to purchase shares in Dominion
House, Delta, CBZ, Aico and Innscor. NSSA was created by an Act of
parliament, National Social Security Act (chapter 17:04 of 1989) after it
was noted that many Zimbabweans could not afford private pension schemes.
The scheme is administered by the ministry of Labour and Social Services.
Thursday, 23 December 2010 18:59
ZANU PF politburo and central committee members have ordered the Bulawayo
provincial leadership to stop suspending officials in what party insiders
said was a bid to try and fight factionalism in the party.
According to Zanu PF officials, the party’s leadership told Bulawayo bigwigs
to build bridges and desist from suspending fellow members due to
The order was given during the just-ended party’s 11th annual people’s
conference in Mutare.
Sources said they expected provincial executive members who were suspended
earlier this year to be reinstated soon.
The suspended members are the provincial treasurer Simon Khabo, his deputy
Kenias Sibanda, secretary for security Robert Ncube and deputy secretary for
indigenisation George Mlala.
Provincial youth league secretary Bernard Nhata was also suspended three
months ago under unclear circumstances.
“Since we came from the conference this week, the instruction from the
leadership hasn’t been implemented, but we expect those who were suspended
to bounce back,” said the source.
The politburo members, added the source, also instructed the Isaac
Dakamela-led executive to suspend its decision to sack over 70 officials who
were accused of boycotting “crucial party meetings and events”.
In October the Zanu PF Bulawayo executive resolved to fire officials who
were accused of failing to participate in party programmes. The province has
always been rocked by serious divisions since the inception of MDC in 1999
which since then has won elections in the region over the years.
The revival of Zapu worsened Zanu PF’s troubles with former provincial
executives defecting to the Dumiso Dabengwa-led party. The Dakamela
executive came into office in 2008 but it has been dogged by factionalism
and alleged corruption.
Sources who attended the Mutare conference said a list of central committee
members which was drawn up by former Information and Publicity minister
Sikhanyiso Ndlovu and politburo member Eunice Sandi-Moyo was rejected.
The conference instead co-opted Abednico Nyathi, Dennis Ndlovu, Elphus
Tshuma, Nelly Dupute, Violet Ncube and Raphael Baleni onto the central
committee while Emmanuel Kanjoma, Anna Ngwabi, Themba Ncube, Yona Mpofu and
Jevan Maseko were barred from being elevated.
“The new central committee members were blessed by Mugabe in Mutare and
those who were chosen by Sikhanyiso Ndlovu and Sandi were thrown off the
list of central committee members,” said the source.
Ndlovu was a month ago sacked as the party’s coordinator and was replaced by
central committee member Calistus Ndlovu.
The source, however, said the fierce infighting in Bulawayo was not
extensively discussed at the conference.
“We expect the warring factions to continue fighting because the issue was
not addressed in Mutare. We thought Mugabe would tell the factions to
explain what has been happening, but nothing happened,” said the Zanu PF
Thursday, 23 December 2010 18:57
ZIMBABWE has lost millions of its skilled and experienced manpower to the
diaspora and, if given a chance by government, they have the potential to
help the country’s economy revive.
For the first time disporans have made moves to try and be part of the
country’s recovery process. The diasporans gathered in the resort town of
Victoria Falls last week to look into ways of contributing towards various
sectors, among them economic development, social services, reconstruction
and human rights and governance.
They hope to get government support to implement their plans aimed at
reviving the ailing economy and restoring respect for human rights.
According to the Development Foundation for Zimbabwe (DFZ), an estimated 4,5
million Zimbabweans are based in South Africa, Britain, Botswana, the United
States, Australia and Canada.
They fled the political and economic crisis that hit Zimbabwe from 2000, in
the process severely depleting the country’s human resource base.
The diaspora community was, however, puzzled by Zanu PF’s absence at the
conference which was attended by officials from MDC-T and MDC-M. The reason
could, however, have been because Zanu PF was holding its annual people’s
conference 1 016km away in Mutare.
As a starting point, the DFZ formed clusters in line with those established
by the government, with the committees comprising technocrats dedicated to
work towards the development of the country. Some of the foreign-based
Zimbabweans expressed willingness to return home and launch viable
businesses that can help reduce the unemployment rate estimated to be above
“The main mission is to contribute to the development of Zimbabwe and ensure
that Zimbabweans are at the forefront of this process regardless of
geographical location,” said DFZ in a statement released during the
Deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara told the conference that government
would enable the diasporans to invest back home and lead revolutions in
information communication technology and banking sectors.
He said jobs were still scarce and serious contribution by the diaspora
could help in employment creation and productivity.
“Those in the diaspora must help in policy formulation, they should come in
to address the ballooning debt and also invest in various sectors of the
economy,” said Mutambara.
DFZ plans to invest money and human capital in areas that were negatively
affected by skills flight such as health, education, water and sanitation.
It says over 80% of critical health workers ranging from doctors, nurses,
physio-therapists, pharmacists to radiologists who trained since 1980 have
left the country.
“The contribution of this group is therefore vital to the promotion of
national cohesion and the success of any national projects,” said the
The organisation’s spokesman Alex Magaisa said they were offering support in
health, education and economic sectors.
“We are saying let’s get resources together to support institutions back
home. The diaspora is a reservoir of skills, wealth, money and experience;
this is a national asset which has been underutilised,” said Magaisa, a
United Kingdom-based lawyer.
He said they were engaging the government and civil society to allow
Zimbabweans to tap into many benefits from those working outside the
Another sector which the foreign-based Zimbabweans are looking at investing
into is policy formulation since hundreds of policy experts are feeding
their experience in foreign governments.
“We have been regarded as the black sheep of the flock but we want to repair
relations and participate in the economic building at home,” said Magaisa.
He said those in the diaspora were also willing to be actively involved in
the indigenisation process in support of local businesses.
“We are also indigenous people based outside the country; we want to be
involved because we can bring in a vast wealth of experience and money,
among many other things,” said Magaisa.
DFZ board chairman Brian Kagoro said his organisation was focusing on
citizen-centered development characterised by a progressive partnership
between citizens, the private sector and government.
“As DFZ, we believe that there are multiple sources from which development
finance and resources can be drawn and in the case of Zimbabwe one of the
most underrated and under-utilised sources is diasporan skills, remittances
and investments,” he said.
He said Zimbabwe had been a net exporter of its high quality human capital
which left the public service severely depleted.
“We believe that recognising and harnessing the diaspora potential is a key
step in converting into reality the rhetoric about indigenisation and
Africans taking initiatives to help themselves instead of waiting for
handouts from the West,” said Kagoro.
While the disporans have taken the initiative to try and assist in the
country’s economic recovery, Constitutional Affairs minister Eric Matinenga
said they would not participate in local elections.
Observers say the disenfranchisement of the diaspora may have a negative
impact on their zeal to invest.
“Maybe we need to push for the diasporans to vote because for now there is
no hope that they will participate in elections. It is not provided for
under the electoral laws,” Matinenga told the DFZ conference.
Thursday, 23 December 2010 18:42
RECENT months have seen an increasing number of people question the
political and economic trajectory of South Africa. Once silent parties, such
as organised business and the black middle classes, have come to display a
new openness in echoing concerns that were previously the preserve of a
handful of “conservative” opinion makers in the country.
Even the media, which had long been the government’s handmaiden on
introducing ever more interventionist policy and regulation into almost
every facet of our country, has become a great deal more critical. In the
international community once liberal opinion has turned against the ruling
African National Congress (ANC).
It is now common to hear senior diplomats and executives of multinational
firms express grave concerns about our future. Today the ANCs own allies
talk about having to save the country from a “crisis”. However, a case can
still be made, and now more than ever needs to be made, that despite our
many challenges the future of South Africa is not as bleak as many are
making it out to be.
Where the new widespread openness about policy failures serves to safeguard
South Africa as a free and open society it is to be welcomed.
The challenges are well known. They include an often incompetent and widely
corrupt government and public service. Standards of public schooling for
black South Africans are often very bad. Below follow 10 reasons to have
confidence in the future of South Africa.
l Positive economic growth
Growth forecasts by the treasury see South Africa achieving a level of GDP
growth of over 4% by 2013-2014. Admittedly this is a rate far lower than
that of emerging BRIC nations Brazil, Russia, India, and China and far lower
than that of sub-Saharan Africa. But it is a rate on a par with that of the
This means at the very least that the country should remain in a position to
generate sufficient revenues to fund its own expenditure. This point is
backed up by further treasury projections of the budget deficit levelling
out to just over 3% of GDP by 2013-2014.
Figures released by the treasury are usually conservative and it is quite
reasonable to have confidence in these projections. Living standards and
income levels must therefore be expected to continue improving in the
country –– in stark contrast to widespread negative sentiment.
l Rising fixed investment
Gross capital formation, or fixed investment, as a proportion of GDP sits at
23% in South Africa. This is still too low but is an increase from the
figure of 15% at the time that the ANC took office. The current figure is
higher than that of Brazil and is only three percentage points lower than
that of Russia.
It is a figure that is expected to increase by 6% by 2013-2014 and to
maintain that level of increase for the medium term. Much of this investment
is being carried out by private sector firms who contribute some 70% of
investment into South Africa. Such figures demonstrate that there remain
real investment opportunities in South Africa for foreign and domestic
private sector entrepreneurs.
l Growing portfolio investment
Non-fixed or portfolio flows into South Africa have increased significantly
in recent years as foreign investors have come to take advantage of the
interest rate differential between South Africa and mainly Europe, Japan,
and the United States.
This is admittedly short-term investment that can be removed at the click of
a mouse but is does assist the country in financing its current account
deficit and is also indicative of a measure of at least short term investor
confidence in South African assets.
l A favourable macro-economic environment
Perhaps the greatest success of the ANC in government has been its
management of the macro-economy. The prime overdraft rate fell from close on
20% after the ANC took office in the mid 1990s to under 10% today. This is a
truly phenomenal achievement which has greatly boosted the capacity of the
private sector in the country to grow and to contribute new value and
investment. Here the ANC deserves much credit from South Africa’s business
community who have benefited from better economic circumstances under the
ANC than they saw at any point over the last 50 years.
l Improved living conditions
Almost every measure of service delivery demonstrates significant increases
in the proportion of households accessing various types of services. This is
an important point to make in a country which has convinced itself that
service delivery has failed. It has not. The proportion of households living
in a formal house has increased by 73%, or by 4.2 million households, since
Increases of a similar scale are true for access to electricity, clean
water, sewerage systems, and communications infrastructure. That so called
‘service delivery’ protests occur is in our view a function of failures in
the labour market more than anything else.
This is a problem that can only be solved via labour market policy changes.
It does not change the fact that in terms of transfers from wealthier to
poorer South Africans a considerable amount has been achieved to improve the
living conditions of poor people.
l Improved living standards
Today roughly five million income taxpayers contribute to a system that
supplies monthly cash welfare grants to 14 million poor people. It is
impressive that an economy as small as that of South Africa can generate the
domestic revenue to support such a programme.
If the treasury’s growth forecasts are correct then this programme remains
perfectly sustainable for the foreseeable future. Welfare is not a
sustainable path out of poverty. However it is only fair to concede that
these welfare efforts have done much to raise the admittedly meager
standards of living of poor people.
The extent of these grants also challenge the assumption that the middle
classes, and especially white middle classes, are callous and indifferent to
the suffering of their fellow South Africans. Today every (mainly white)
income taxpayer foots the bill for the living expenses of three poor (mainly
black) households and will continue to do so for years to come.
l Access to higher education
That South Africa’s school system underperforms is taken as read. However,
at tertiary education level much has been achieved over the past 20 years.
In 1991 white South Africans earned 20 business degrees for every one earned
by a black African South African. Today that ratio is one to one. In
engineering the ratio was 44 to one. Today it too has improved to 1 to 1.
Similar improvements are true for all university qualifications pointing to
the massive potential that is being created in South Africa’s emerging black
l Declining murder rate
South Africa’s murder rate is currently seven times higher than that of the
United States. However, statistics released by the police indicate that this
rate has in fact come down by 50% since 1994. Admittedly questions have been
raised about the accuracy of the police’s data.
l Increasing incomes
In current prices, average annual per capita incomes in South Africa, have
increased by 201% since 1996. Incomes for black Africans increased by 235%.
White South Africans will be interested to note that despite reservations
about equity legislation and empowerment provisions their incomes increased
by 217% over the same period. South Africans today are wealthier than they
have ever been and on current trends will continue to see their incomes
l Politics that make us a free society
More than 10 diverse political parties are represented in South Africa’s
Parliament. The ruling ANC regularly comes in for much public criticism in
South Africa. Both points demonstrate that politically much of our society
remains free and open and that the future of the country still rests in the
choices made by its voters.
True dictatorial regimes such as those in Zimbabwe or Burma would simply not
tolerate the criticism that the ANC puts up with.
On the nationalisation of mines an influential core of the party have
publicly criticised the policy on the grounds that it is not in the best
long term interests of South Africa. On both land reform and empowerment the
ANC has repeatedly delayed the enforcement of a number of its own targets in
the face of evidence that the targets could not be met.
It is important too that constructive criticism of government failures
continues to be levelled at the government. However, those who form opinions
on the country may get it wrong when they take our many challenges to mean
that the future of the country is now in such peril as to amount to a clear
and imminent crisis.
It is in fact remarkable that despite its many challenges the country it is
still able to offer up the 10 points upon which this article has argued its
case for South Africa. In addition courage within the Cabinet to lead policy
shifts on both labour market regulation and skills may yet place us in a
position to assume our true potential as one of the world’s leading
l Cronje is the deputy CEO of the South African Institute of Race Relations.
By Frans Cronje
Thursday, 23 December 2010 18:41
MERCY Makoma packed her bags and planned a return to her native Zimbabwe
after the last South African camp offering migrants sanctuary from
xenophobic attacks closed at the weekend.
About 1 300 migrants, mostly from Zimbabwe, have called the tented camp set
on a rugby field home for nearly a year, worried that if they if they go
elsewhere, they may fall victim to the ethnic violence that has claimed at
least 60 lives in the past few years.
South Africa has become a haven for migrants from across Africa due to its
liberal immigration policies, with hundreds of thousands from neighbouring
Zimbabwe crossing the border in 2008 when its economy was crushed by
The amnesty for visa-free crossing into South Africa granted to the
Zimbabweans will expire at the end of this year, alarming immigrants who
face mass deportations, increased exploitation by employers and a possible
renewal of ethnic violence.
“I have fear. That’s why I decided to go back home,” Makoma (21) told
Reuters as tents donated by the United Nations were dismantled around her in
the rural town of De Doorns, about 150 km north of Cape Town.
“It’s not easy to go to the location where the people are saying you can’t
come here. We still fear that there may be violence in the township,” Makoma
said as her two-year-old daughter milled around the family’s meagre, bundled
At the De Doorns camp, the Zimbabweans facing an uncertain future have left
behind rotting vegetables, empty food tins and a lattice of sandy footpaths
formed between the barren patches where tents once stood.
The tensions remain that caused a wave of xenophobic attacks in 2008, which
displaced tens of thousands and left 62 dead. Impoverished locals still
blame immigrants for taking scarce jobs in the country with 25%
unemployment, threatening violence unless they leave.
There are no definitive figures on how many Zimbabweans are in South Africa,
although the International Organisation for Migration estimates the figure
at between 1,5 to two million.
In places such as the agricultural community around the De Doorns camp,
Zimbabweans take to the fields for grape picking season, offering farmers
cheap labour off the books.
Even as the last 269 people were departing the camp, about 100 more
Zimbabweans trickled in hoping to find work.
Far away from the camp, Zimbabweans have also been flocking to offices for
the Home Affairs ministry in major cities, trying to obtain the documents
that will make their stay legal.
The government has said it expects to provide paperwork for all Zimbabweans
by the end of year deadline, but if the processing continues at its present
rate, more than 1 million will become illegal when 2011 starts.
Queues of immigrants stretching hundreds of metres long have become
commonplace at the Home Affairs office in Johannesburg. The government has
threatened a mass deportation for those who do not receive the appropriate
“They are short of telling us to leave. I think they feel there are too many
of us. This is their way of trying to catch us out and send us back,” said
Zimbabwean Mantombi Mafu.
Experts are not sure what will happen when the year ends and South Africa is
faced with the mass of Zimbabweans who do not have proper papers to stay.
“I would guess that the threat of deportation is there, which will only
encourage corruption and illegality around documentation,” said Loren
Landau, director, Forced Migration Studies Programme at the University of
the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg.
Zimbabwe has cooperated with South Africa to supply documents. It would like
to see its skilled workers return but would also like to see a large number
of migrants remaining in South Africa to send money back home to support the
struggling Zimbabwe economy.
Back at the De Doorns camp, few options seemed appealing.
“This is bad, very bad. Where can I go, what must I do now?,” a man named
Majoni asked. –– Reuters
Thursday, 23 December 2010 18:31
AFRICAN Consolidated Resources (ACR) shareholder and legal counsel Jonathan
Samkange said threats to cancel the company’s mining licences by Mines
minister Obert Mpofu this week were of no legal effect.
Samkange said it was only the mining commissioner who had the legal standing
to cancel the licences.
“The minister is not the mining commissioner,” said Samkange. “This is a
mistake (the minister has made) and it will be challenged on the basis of
what the minister has said.”
Mpofu this week said government would revoke ACR’s licences because there
were irregularities when they were issued out.
A blanket cancellation of all mining licences came as a shock for the
company that is listed on London Stock Exchange’s Alternative Investment
Markets (AIM) as it was also still fighting a legal battle over its claim of
ACR has been in dispute with the Ministry of Mines since March 2007 in
connection with the alluvial diamond discovery at Marange. The firm has
consistently maintained its preparedness to resolve the issue in a
transparent manner for the benefit of all stakeholders.
Samkange said ACR was a Zimbabwean company with a local shareholding and it
was unfair to label it a foreign owned firm.
“Listing on London Stock Exchange’s AIM does not make ACR a British firm,”
said Samkange. “There is that mistake to think that ACR is foreign owned.
There are many local shareholders and it is time they come out.”
ACR shareholders have panicked because of the political developments and
policy directions in the country over the years. But the latest threats
prompted ACR to release a statement denying receipt of communication to that
“ACR has not received any formal communication from the Minister of Mines
or the government of Zimbabwe to the effect that its licences are being
cancelled,” said the company in a statement.
“The board of ACR wishes to confirm categorically that there
were no irregularities in the acquisition of any of its mining claims or
licences known to it, and that, in its opinion having taken appropriate
advice, none of them were acquired fraudulently.”
Shareholders responding to political and policy developments in the country
have started questioning whether the company was still worth pursuing.
One investor said: “Is 51% going to be transferred to local shareholders? I
would expect the company to issue a regulatory news service if this was
Another investor posted a comment on the London Stock Exchange share chat
saying: “AFCR (ACR’s name on AIM) were never going to keep these and now
might lose 51% to local shareholders. Will it still be worth holding this
share? What price Monday morning?”
The 51% investors referred to is the new indigenisation regulations which
requires that a company capitalised to above US$500 000 sell a chunk to
Thursday, 23 December 2010 18:23
ZSE CEO Emmanuel Munyukwi says this year could have been “a much better
year” compared to 2009 had it not been for the indigenisation regulations
gazetted in March.
Munyukwi said the market was bullish in the first quarter, traded in the mix
after the empowerment regulations were announced, but recovered in the last
quarter of this year.
“In April we raked in about US$5 million while months before that we were
raking in more than US$20 million a month. Since the regulations were
gazette, we have seen a negative impact on trade,” he said.
Munyukwi said he had endured a stressful time during Zimbabwe’s lost decade
keeping “interest alive” in a stock market increasingly disconnected from
the rest of the world.
Hyperinflation, peaking far north of the last official rate of 231-million
percent in July 2008, a government driven by political expediency and a
currency in freefall were just some of the other headaches for Munyukwi.
“We could afford much sleep this year. The market performed better, some
counters that most investors would not buy on the first go performed really
well,” Munyukwi said.
He said the market’s capitalisation could end this year above US$4 billion.
The market’s capitalisation opened the year at US$3,97 billion.
“Last year our market was driven by foreigners, making up to about 45 -50%
of the total turnover of about US$200 million on the ZSE,” Munyukwi said.
As of last Friday, National Tyre Service led the year on year gains at 140%.
DZL and Zimplow achieved a growth of 120%, while Colcom and Hwange recorded
118% and 114%.
The top five that traded in the red in the year to date where Zeco -85%, TN
Holdings -83,6%, RedStar -80%, African Sun -78,3% and PG Industries -69%.
Beverages giant, Delta Corporation, is still the market leader with a market
capitalisation of US$731,4 million, followed by Econet Wireless Zimbabwe and
Innscor Private Limited with US$435,4 million and US$291,6 million,
The top 10 performers had a total market capitalisation of US$2, 59 billion,
accounting for about 65,9% of the local bourse. From January 4 to November
30, a total of 6,2 billion shares were traded worth US$3,6 billion.
Foreign buying during the period totaled US$1,1 million against foreign
selling of US$171 869 during the same period.
Analysts said the gains and losses reflected a market which was in line with
the rest of the world.
While the country’s economy was crumbling before dollarisation, the
Zimbabwean speculator’s earning where above inflation, keeping up much
better than ordinary citizens.
“Events that stimulate Gross Domestic Product (GDP), a country’s wealth,
inevitably drives stock prices up, and any event that hurts GDP growth,
pulls stock prices down. The opposite has, however, been happening as
Zimbabwe share prices were rising while the economy continued to be
depressed,” Munyukwi said.
Presenting the 2011 National budget, Finance minister Tendai Biti said the
local bourse had been rather “subdued” for the greater part of the year
saying “the revival of the economy coupled with the modest improvements in
industrial capacity utilisation has not significantly spurred activity on
the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange”.
“Rather negative investor perceptions coupled with persistent liquidity
challenges continue to subdue trading on the ZSE over the period to August,”
Biti said. Foreign investors maintained the lead with their participation
increasing from an average of 20% in August to about 40% and 50% of total
shares in September and October.
Economist David Mupamhadzi told businessdigest that the performance of the
ZSE will continue to be driven by the performance of the economy saying an
anticipated strong performance of most key sectors of the economy in 2011
would help buoy the ZSE.
“However, political developments will also play a big role in influencing
the performance of the ZSE. Reports of an election in 2011, could force a
number of investors to adopt a wait and see attitude,” he said.
“Furthermore, depending on the prevailing political conditions, especially
linked to the constitution, referendum and the much talked about elections,
the ZSE could take a serious hammering if there is no peace and stability in
See tables of market risers market losers.
Thursday, 23 December 2010 18:24
PRICES of basic commodities have spiralled by about 14% since January owing
to the firming of the South African rand against the US dollar while a surge
of crude oil on the world market in the last quarter of the year has also
not helped contain production costs.
According to a survey by businessdigest, prices of cooking oil, tooth paste,
mealie meal, sugar, flour, and other basics rose significantly in December.
The price of two litres of cooking oil rose from US$2,75 to US$4,30 on
Monday, Blue bar washing soap rose from US$1 to US$1,40 during the same
period while a one kg of economy beef rose to US$5 from US$3,50 in January.
Commenting about the recent price increase, Consumer Council of Zimbabwe
executive director Roselyn Siyachitema said most of the increases were a
result of speculation and “where not justified”.
“CCZ is concerned that the increase in the foodbasket is attributed to the
traditional behaviour of supermarkets to increase prices towards the festive
season and also take advantage of that little bonus workers will receive in
November, a behaviour which CCZ abhors. Some of the increases are not
justified,” she said.
The consumer watchdog is, however, accused of not doing anything to protect
the consumers since dollarisation.
Economic analyst Farayi Dyirakumunda believes the recent increase in retail
prices was largely a result of exchange rate dynamics and strong demand
traditionally associated with the festive season.
He said: “The recent appreciation of the South African rand to levels of
around R6,8:1US$ in recent months from previous levels of around R10:1US$
would translate to an increase of US dollar prices of goods and services
imported in rand from South Africa.”
He said most of the consumer groceries being imported from South Africa had
therefore seen an increase in retail prices due to such exchange rate
“Price fluctuations from exchange rate volatility are unavoidable for an
importer in our position and stability will eventually be achieved when
local production improves,” Dyirakumunda said.
“The component of the recent price increases that is motivated by a seasonal
growth in demand will correct itself after the festive season. Market forces
will drive prices to equilibrium.”
The average annual increase in the price of a basket of essentials surged
14% between January 2 and December 20, a percentage analysts said was too
high considering that the US dollar was a stable currency.
Premier Bank economist Obrain Ruyimbe said most of Zimbabwe’s imports came
from South Africa and local pricing was in US dollars thus appreciation of
the rand against the US dollar was “squeezing local operating margins and
act as an impetus for upward price review”.
“In the last few months we have witnessed the US dollar losing strength
against the rand. In fact, the rand reached a two and half year high against
the US dollar in September, and in the ensuing period our month on month
inflation trended upwards marginally, 0,1% and 0,2% in September and October
respectively,” he said.
“In the same period borrowing rates have increased on average from around
12% per annum towards 15%, the fuel cost went up recently by 8%. In short,
there has been some cost build up pressure behind the recent price
Economist David Mupamhadzi said: “Reducing imports could make a difference
since transport costs are high. With parity pricing they (local producers)
can compete on quality.”
Economist John Robertson said some of the more recent price rises were not
justified adding that some supermarkets and manufactures were profiteering
as some figures show that food prices have gone up far faster than can be
“Profiteering happens, there are cases where people make inappropriate
margins along distribution system,” he said
The priority for supermarkets is to get the appropriate stock on and off
their shelves as fast as possible and increasing prices is not part of the
The rise of goods and services is being attributed to the firming of the
rand, taxes, response to speculation and sheer profiteering.
Economist Brains Muchemwa, however, said the anticipated bonus payment was
not the reason behind the price increases saying “the retail trade in
Zimbabwe was now competitive to such an extent that one can price themselves
out of the market”.
“This business is price sensitive and shop owners cannot independently set
prices. It must have something to do with cost build up otherwise it’s not
justified,” Muchemwa said.
Economist Eric Bloch said retail outlets needed to explain to consumers why
prices of goods had gone up when major inflation drivers had been stable for
a long time.
Commodity January April August Dec
10kg (pearlenta) US7,10 US$6,30 US$6,60 US$6,66
Cooking oil 2litres U$2,75 US$2,75 US$3,10 US$4,30
White Sugar 2kg US$2,30 US$2,50 US$1,90 US$1,90
Rice 2kg (Mahatma US$2,35 US$2,50 US$2,50 US2,85
Floor 2kg (Gloria) US$1,85 US$1,85 US$2,20 US$1,99
2 litres (Mazoe) US$2,75 US$3,00 US$2,90 US$2,75
1 kg beef (economy) US$3,50, US3,90 US$4,50 US$5,00
100ml colgate US$99c US$99 US$99c US$1,30
100 bags (Quick brew) US$1,50 US$1,80 US$2,00 US$2,20
Celeste tissues x4 US$1,00 US$1,20 US$1,20 US$1,55
Pro brands salt 1kg US30c US0,30c US0,30 US$0,35c
Blue bar washing soap US$1,00 US$1,05 US$1,20 US$1,40
Geisha soap US$0,60c US$0,60 US$0,65 US$0,69
Surf 500g US$1,25 US$1,30 US1,50 US1,80
Milk 500ml US$1,00 US$1,00 US$1,00 US0,90c
1 kg tomatoes US$1,00 US$1,00 US$1,20 US$1,00
Stock magazine 500g US$1,90 US$1,85 US$1,90 US$1,97
Total US$33,19 US$33,89 US$35,64 US$38,61
Thursday, 23 December 2010 18:38
THE excitement surrounding WikiLeaks disclosures continues with the state
media naturally making the most of this windfall. But it is not all
newsworthy. On Monday the Herald carried a front-page story headed “US
controls IMF”. This was based on a cable released on Sunday that “shows the
US government directed the IMF not to restore Zimbabwe’s voting rights”.
Did it really take several Herald sleuths a whole day to work that out? Isn’t
this instruction already in the public domain as part of Zidera, the 2001 US
sanctions Act? And hasn’t the Herald itself repeatedly drawn attention to
Meanwhile, still with WikiLeaks, most people will by now have read that the
Standard is being sued by Grace Mugabe for carrying another story that the
whistle-blowing website released nearly two weeks ago.
It referred to transactions at the Chiadzwa diamond mine over which there
has been bitter controversy. The state and its allies which had ignored the
original WikiLeaks story pounced on the Standard’s account which included
reference to Mrs Mugabe and others.
It is only the second such legal case, we understand, arising from
disclosures by WikiLeaks around the world.
Reserve Bank governor Gideon Gono has since joined the fray with a lawsuit
of his own against the Standard. This is bound to attract considerable
publicity ahead of any presidential poll. Reuters attached a copy of the
original cable which referred to Mrs Mugabe, Gono and Andrew Cranswick of
Whilst the Standard will no doubt leave it to its lawyers to rebut the
charges brought by Mrs Mugabe, we have no hesitation in challenging here and
now her lawyers’ claim that she is “mother of the nation”.
“The plaintiff is of high standing in Zimbabwe,” her lawyers assert. “She is
well regarded internationally. Further, she is the wife of His Excellency
the President of Zimbabwe.
“The imputation of such conduct on a person of such high standing, the
mother of the nation, is to lower the respect with which she is held by all
right thinking persons to a point of disappearance.”
It is difficult to know what this means. What disappearance? Who has
But what we do know is that lawyers should avoid awarding plaintiffs
indulgent honorifics that have no basis in law.
The title “mother of the nation” is not one we are familiar with. And Mrs
Mugabe, together with her husband, are the subject of numerous prohibition
orders against travel in Europe and North America.
Mrs Mugabe has not hesitated in the recent past (Shamva, May 2008) to engage
in partisan invective which is inconsistent with somebody carrying the title
of “mother of the nation”.
Susan Tsvangirai would never enter State House, she declared.
We note as well that some of the Mugabe children are educated abroad.
We would be keen to hear the opinion of a High Court judge who, among
others, reportedly found himself the victim of Mrs Mugabe’s fast-track land
Muckraker was intrigued by an article in the Sunday Mail last weekend
denouncing the MDC-T in puerile and intemperate terms.
“The MDC-T represents a filthy appendage of Western neo-imperial forces,”
the writer claimed, “that are determined to stop the empowerment of the
people as they want the ownership of the means of production to remain in
foreign hands. Put simply they are sell-outs.”
It was signed Joseph Neusu.
They didn’t give his age but one might be forgiven for thinking this was
written by a 10-year-old. Muckraker was wondering why the editor of the
Sunday Mail would let such toxic rubbish into his newspaper. But then
something rang a bell.
In the days when Tafataona Mahoso ran the Media and Information Commission,
complaints against material appearing in the Zimbabwe Independent were
invariably attributed to a J Neusu who, we always presumed, lived in a dark
corner of the Ministry of Information.
He came to life whenever somebody was needed to claim to be “outraged” by a
letter to the editor or an article appearing in the paper.
We may be completely wrong of course. But where is J Neusu now?
More to the point where is Mahoso? Muckraker tracked him down to the Sunday
Mail’s Siberia, Page D2 of a supplement headed “In-Depth”.
How the mighty are fallen! It contains the same old frothing at the mouth
about “racist plunder” but is miles away from the editorial heights of
yesteryear. Even J Neusu is treated better in terms of page allocation!
Muckraker is intrigued to know what sort of arrangement was made with the
ZMC on transfer fees.
The supplement where Mahoso now features by the way carries such arresting
articles as that on different kinds of phobias. Did you know that nomophobia
is the fear of being out of cellphone range? Muckraker knows of several
journalists suffering from that one!
And then there is the National Archives which is celebrating “75 years of
Is that the same as “excellence”? There is only one excellency we know of!
Did retired Brigadier Ambrose Mutinhiri really say he was ready to kill
people who continued to oppose the rule of Robert Mugabe? He was quoted in
the Zimbabwean newspaper as threatening villagers who attended a meeting at
Landas Shopping Centre in Chihota. The paper reported Mutinhiri said he was
good at killing and ready to go to war. People were thereby encouraged to
hand in their MDC-T membership cards.
If true, this is very revealing. Zanu PF can only get by with threats of
Then there was the reported suggestion by Brigadier Douglas Nyikayaramba and
his local committee that people advocating sanctions should face the death
Is this really what the country has come to?
Our warm congratulations to William Chikoto, editor of the Herald, on his
Superbrand Award. The Herald has been busy congratulating itself on the
award so we thought we should join in.
One small point however. Sylvester Nguni is on the right of the picture, not
The Herald has enjoyed brand loyalty since 1891 we are told. It does look a
bit like it!
It was shocking to see during the Zanu PF congress certain ZBC staffers clad
in party regalia. It was even more shocking to see the national broadcaster’s
boss, Happison Muchechetere, also in a shirt plastered with party messages
at the same venue.
These people are entitled to hold their own political views and alignments
but it becomes worrisome when they do so in the public glare given the
organisations they work for. ZBC is supposed to be a public entity. Why are
its managers behaving so unprofessionally? Who is driving this partisanship?
A few weeks ago we received a letter from Muchechetere claiming ZBC was
apolitical. No danger of that last week!
On the subject of partisanship, a writer to the Herald, George Damson,
appears to think that DA leader in South Africa, Helen Zille (which he
spells “Ziller” throughout) is a “failed” and “racist” politician.
Is Damson unaware that the DA won the Western Cape in the last election? Is
he so ignorant that he doesn’t know Zille’s following is made up of all
population groups in the Western Cape but mostly the coloured community that
numbers several million?
Zille is fluent in Afrikaans and Xhosa and is highly regarded as an
effective administrator. The DA controls Cape Town as well as the Western
Cape. But some ignorant Zanu PF apologist who obviously knows nothing about
South African politics feels compelled to write to the editor of the Herald
to abuse her.
It’s amazing isn’t it how anybody who is successful as a leader comes in for
abuse of this sort? Zanu PF hates success and will hunt it down wherever
they think it resides!
What is so interesting now is that the Herald and Sunday Mail, which only
last weekend were telling us what a terrible thing the GNU was are now
agreeing with the president that it’s in fact a wonderful thing!
Last week the official line was that the GNU was an obstacle to Zanu PF’s
Now we are told it is very successful and has brought stability to
Zimbabwe. Elections will only be held when “certain processes envisaged by
the GPA have been fulfilled”.
Isn’t that what the independent press, civil society and business have been
saying week after week? That there can be no election until GPA reforms have
“Principals hail inclusive government,” is now the message. The Herald
carried a front-page picture on Tuesday of the happy principals!
And if tomorrow the president declares that black is white and white is
black the Herald will probably run an editorial saying they fully support
the president in his historic quest to ensure black is white.
Purleez you guys. Is this what you do all day? We need to know what happened
to change the president’s mind so suddenly. There’s obviously a story there.
He was dead against the GNU just 48 hours earlier.
And somebody should tell his
advisors there haven’t been 400 British companies operating in Zimbabwe
since the 1990s. There are probably half that number now. It would be easy
enough to ask the British embassy but this hasn’t occurred to anybody in the
state press because it might contradict the president.
Yet another Zanu PF front organisation, the Zimbabwe Entrepreneurs Youth
Action, is “rallying behind the government” in demanding that Zimbabwe be
allowed to sell its diamonds to develop the country.
“The organisation challenged the West to let Zimbabwe sell its own diamonds
for the benefit of every citizen including youths,” we are told.
What they obviously want is a piece of the action. They seem to think the
Ministry of Mines will facilitate this. An approach to the “ever obedient
son” might do the trick. Bootlicking has its rewards.
Muckraker could not suppress laughing out loud on Monday evening after
tuning in to the state broadcaster during Newshour. Amidst the drudgery of
the incessant propaganda there were a few gems from that particular bulletin
that caught our notice. These were found in a report about the donation of
fertiliser to some “youths”–– clearly aligned to Zanu PF – by President
In attempting to articulate their gratitude, some of the youths went to the
extent of creating their own words. One of them described Mugabe as “a true
revolutional” (sic). This is a welcome “devilment” is what another “youth”
had to say.
Hopefully the pun was purely acciderrntal!
Thursday, 23 December 2010 18:37
YET again the hierarchy of Zanu PF has expounded on that party’s entrenched
belief that Zimbabwean land is wholly and exclusively for the country’s
indigenous population. That racialistic, discriminatory contention is not
limited only to land ownership, but also to land usage. This racially
hostile policy has been enunciated recurrently for more than three decades,
but most recently at the opening of the 2010 Zanu PF congress.
At the congress, the president castigated the “new farmers” who are leasing
their lands, or portions of those lands, to white farmers. In the main,
those white farmers were previously evicted from the farms which they had
developed, from formerly arid, unutilised lands, and had worked not only to
their own benefit, but benefiting the nation as a whole. Moreover, not only
were many ousted from the properties and rendered homeless, but in
innumerable instances such eviction was effected violently and cruelly.
They were also not compensated for all that was expropriated.
In recurrently pursuing their pronounced racialist bias, the bigotted
politicians intentionally disregard the magnitude of the prejudice and
suffering that their policies have for the very indigenous population that
they claim to protect. Before the prevailing land policies were introduced,
Zimbabwe not only produced enough food to feed its entire people, but it
also was able to export substantial quantities.
It was known as the “bread basket” of the region. Now it has to import
maize, wheat, poultry, beef, sugar, and much else. Agriculture was the
foundation of the economy, directly generating in excess of a third of total
economic output. It provided employment for over 300 000 agricultural
workers, and thereby a livelihood for approximately two million Zimbabweans.
Now less than 40 000 are employed in agriculture, providing a minimal
livelihood for less than a quarter of a million people.
To a very major extent, it is not the fault of “new farmers” that the
productivity of the past has not been maintained. The harsh fact is that
viable agricultural production is a virtual impossibility without requisite
funding, and the manner whereby government has implemented its disastrous
land policies is a near total barrier to funding availability. Very few of
the new farmers have capital resources of the substance required for
effective farming operations.
Save for some distribution of farm equipment by the Reserve Bank between
2005 and 2008, the new farmers have been unable to access their equipment
needs, their inputs of seeds, fertilisers, chemicals, and the like, or to
fund operating costs. In normal, rational economics, the farmers would be
able to counter their funding constraints by resorting to borrowings. With
very rare exception that is impossible in Zimbabwe.
To a significant degree, that impossibility is because of the minimal
liquidity within the country’s money market. Almost without exception,
banks and other financial institutions do not have sufficient resources to
fund the substantial loan funding required by the agricultural sector.
However, that funding constraint is exacerbated by government having
unilaterally accorded the state exclusive ownership of all rural lands.
Occupancy by newly-settled farmers is at the government’s will and favour,
accorded by the grant of leases of supposedly 99-year duration — (although
the government gives itself the power summarily to terminate leases on three
months’ notice). As a result, the land cannot be used as collateral
security for loan funding needed to fund the farming operations. Not only do
the farmers not have title to the farm lands, but the leases are
non-transferable, and therefore those leases also do not constitute
As if these actions did not suffice to suffocate agriculture, and thereby to
intensify grievously Zimbabwean poverty, government has also been
recurrently derelict in ensuring timeous availability and distribution of
farm inputs, thereby compounding the intense insufficiency of agricultural
productivity. Concurrently, government bodies such as the Grain Marketing
Board have been horrendously tardy in effecting payment for such maize
deliveries as have been forthcoming (over and above the prescribed prices
frequently being grossly inadequate to compensate for costs of production).
In addition, erratic and irregular energy supplies are an ongoing impediment
to viable agricultural production.
With millions of Zimbabweans starving or, at the least, being severely
under-nourished, more than eight million people struggling to survive on
incomes well below the poverty datum line, and the economy continuing to be
gravely emaciated, government with even minimal concern for the nation’s
wellbeing should welcome a return of white farmers onto some of the
potentially very fertile, but currently arid, lands. Instead of
recrimination targeted at those indigenous who are sub-leasing to whites,
government should be facilitative of their doing so. At the same time,
government needs to take very positive actions to enable the indigenous new
farmers to operate the farms effectively and viably. Achieving this
requires, amongst many other constructive actions:
* Restoration of title to rural lands or, at the very least, to render
the 99-year leases absolute, and readily negotiable and transferable, and
valid as collateral security for borrowings;
* Establishment of substantive loan funding for new farmers;
* Market-realistic pricing policies for agricultural outputs, or
extensive deregulation enabling prices to be market determined;
* Enhancement of service delivery by Zesa and Zimbabwe National Water
If government in general, and Zanu PF in particular, would dismount from its
racial high-horse, and instead would place the interests of Zimbabwe and its
people first (above the politicians’ own interests and extreme racial bias),
then agriculture will again become a mainstay of the economy, contributing
greatly to the wellbeing of the populace. Until this happens, the
potentially very fertile land will continue to lie fallow!
Thursday, 23 December 2010 18:36
WATCHING Zanu PF people’s conference from outside, a person can be forgiven
for assuming that decisions in that party are made bottom up with
resolutions coming from over 4 500 delegates who would have first consulted
members at cell, branch, district and provincial levels.
However, this is only a veneer as the decision-making process in the party,
even at conferences, is entrenched within a small clique controlled by
President Robert Mugabe and there is total disregard of views from the
Mugabe is omnipresent to the extent that his opening speech at the 11th
conference in Mutare last week set the agenda and the tone for discussions,
which thereafter had to fit into the set template.
“This conference must come up with a solid programme to fight sanctions and
not just for calling for sanctions to be removed,” Mugabe said. “We have
been far too good for malicious people. Why should we continue to have
business and organisations that are supported by Americans and the British
operating without hitting them back?”
This became the chorus of the conference and speaker after speaker parroted
Mugabe’s words with some even trying to imitate his language.
Again, when Mugabe said calling for imposition of sanctions on the country
should be regarded as treasonous, it became one of the final resolutions.
Mugabe, who went to the conference fully aware of the fissures growing in
the party around elections, silenced those who might have gathered some
courage to speak against early polls, which he wants mid-next year.
He deftly touched on the issue of the next poll saying: “the Global
Political Agreement cannot be allowed to continue.
“Whatever elections we are going to have, are elections to be held together.
We must combine the presidential, parliamentary and local government.”
The ageing leader added that the conference should have a resolution to that
effect without leaving room for debate on when elections should be held.
By this, Mugabe was addressing two audiences, the anti-election group in his
party and the MDC which is pushing for a delay until democratic reforms are
undertaken. MPs from all parties have been saying only presidential polls
should be held, arguing that they were the only ones that were disputed.
Mugabe remains an all powerful leader of the party and his speeches, mixed
with both Shona and Ndebele, drew applause leaving many wondering if there
were delegates who differed.
One delegate said the problem with the “dear leader” approach, which the
party adopted after the deaths of vice-president Joseph Msika and Simon
Muzenda, was not good for Zanu PF.
“Mugabe is withdrawn from the people, I mean the members, the politburo and
those who hold ministerial posts,” said the delegate. “None of these people
ever have tea or lunch with the president as was the case with Muzenda and
Msika and I wonder what input was made into his speech by others so that it
reflects what the people want.”
A political commentator, Phillip Pasirayi said the “dear leader” mentality
has always been evident in Zanu PF and was coupled with a culture of members
not questioning Mugabe.
“The mentality in Zanu PF is that Mugabe is always right and infallible,”
said Pasirayi. “The stuff making the (Zanu PF’s conference) resolutions is
taken from the speech by the president.”
While there may be sceptics, speaking in hushed tones away from the venue,
Mugabe held the delegates in awe. Even when he digressed and said things
bordering on obscenities, there were cheers and laughter.
Zanu PF, despite the chasms which have threatened to tear the party in the
past decade, appeared a cohesive party with no dissenting voices.
The only time there was dissent was when war veterans, who 13 years ago
literally held Mugabe hostage demanding compensation for their participation
in the liberation war, refused to have Brigadier General Richard Ruwodo
deliver a solidarity message on their behalf, instead of their preferred
leader Jabulani Sibanda.
Ruwodo, the director of War Veterans Board, was a compromise speaker as
there are three factions purporting to represent the former combatants, one
led by Sibanda and the other two by Joseph Chinotimba and Baten Beta.
The war veterans, crucial in Zanu PF elections campaigns, have been the only
visible dissenters since 1997 and on Friday last week they refused to be
whipped into line and caused commotion.
Zanu PF chairman Simon Khaya Moyo, who was struggling to effectively chair
the conference, appealed for order, but his calls were drowned out in the
torrent of jeers and whistles by the liberation fighters.
Khaya Moyo, who went as far as threatening a premature end to the
conference, made hasty consultations and asked for the intervention of the
commissariat led by Webster Shamu.
This was one of the brief moments when a constituent important for the Zanu
PF machinery dared to challenge the leadership and the fact that Sibanda,
the ex-combatants’ choice, was allowed to speak was a victory for the
Apart from the dissenting voices from the war veterans, all the other
constituent groups, the women’s league, the youths full of “zeal and
energy,” as Khaya Moyo put it, who are usually the source of dissent in
democratic political parties, ex-detainees and former prisoners all parroted
Zanu PF Mashonaland West chairman Robert Sikanyika epitomised how youths
were held in the party when he threatened to “unleash” them on journalists
who took seats in front of delegates from his area and refused to sit
Even Khaya Moyo threatened to use the youths to instill discipline after
some delegates refused to keep quiet. This gave the youths unlimited power
and they were not chastised when one of them, while delivering a solidarity
message, promised to clash with those people who may want to challenge
Mugabe in the elections.
Youth League secretary for Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment Innocent
Hamandishe said the youths were prepared to put their lives on the line for
Mugabe in the next election.
“We are prepared to die because they say if something is not worth dying for
then it is not worth living for,” said Hamandishe. “If the likes of
(Herbert) Chitepo and (Josiah) Tongogara died for this country, then who
are we not to sacrifice for the country.”
Whereas it is a popular sentiment that the Women’s League is used by the
party, it was evident in Mutare that all members strived to be seen and
heard uncritically reflecting the party position.
Everything said by any of the members of the presidium was greeted with
applause and ululation leading to two conclusions: either the leaders knew
exactly what their people wanted or the delegates would not dare to publicly
oppose their views.
And we can be sure it wasn’t the first!
Thursday, 23 December 2010 18:35
EMERGING from the throes of colonialism in the 1960s, many analysts
theorised that the nascent African states, as opposed to their Asian
counterparts, were most likely to record substantial political and economic
This optimism was underlined by both economic and political factors. The
huge deposits of mineral resources, the steep increase in the price of cash
crops and the pedigree of the new leaders all provided the basis for a
positive forecast. Judging by the rhetoric of the inclusive nature of
governance in pre-colonial Africa, especially in the face of the arbitrary
colonial machinery, the expectation was that the new leaders would put in
place structures to accentuate good governance, which would in turn bolster
However, such expectations quickly dissolved as some of the new leaders
adopted the much despised colonial laws for suppressing all forms of
dissent. Life-long presidency, looting of the national treasury, flawed
electoral processes, assassination and jailing of opposition members and
civil war gradually became the hallmark of the post-colonial state in
The dynamics of providing an effective answer to the vexing state of
democratic development in Africa is the subject of this article. The nexus
between adherence to good governance standards and economic development
provides the justification for seeking credible avenues for enhancing the
ethos of democratic values on the continent.
Any discussion of the state of governance in Africa would be incomplete
without the consideration of the role that independence elites played in
shaping the political trajectory of the post-colonial state. Put
differently, it is imperative to understand how the actions of African
leaders in the 1960s provided a veritable foundation for the prevalent
tendency to stymie genuine efforts at democratisation.
Largely buoyed by the ideological cleavage of a post-1945 global order and
the multi-ethnic configuration of the post-colonial states, independence
elites became preoccupied with political survival, rather than building
critical institutions. All across Africa, independence elites embarked on
the task of decimating democratic institutions. This was primarily done
through the systematic introduction of ideologies that fostered the
monopolisation and consolidation of all power structures. One such was the
one-party state ideology. The enthronement of a one-party state was commonly
justified by references to a “romantic” pre-colonial era, devoid of
political parties and dissensions.
In addition, many of the independence elites argued that a one-party state
would enhance national unity in the multi-ethnic post-colonial state. With
the centralisation of power under the one-party state ideology, the stage
was set for the assault on all forms of opposition, the personalisation of
the national patrimony, entrenchment of tribalism and crass nepotism. Some
of the new leaders expressly and/or implicitly encouraged personality cults
and declared themselves “president for life”, with Kamuzu Banda (Malawi),
Kwame Nkrumah (Ghana), Houphouet-Boigny (Ivory Coast) and Sekou Touré
(Guinea) being typical examples. The assault on democratic standards had
become so entrenched that by the late 1980s, an overwhelming majority of
African states were classified as one-party states.
The negative impact of the debasement of democratic ethos on development
cannot be understated. The obsession with the centralisation of power
ensured that the task of development only remained in the realm of rhetoric.
As Claude Ake famously surmised, “the problem is not so much that
development has failed as that it was not really on the agenda in the first
place”. Having either scrapped or reduced critical national institutions
into channels for dishing out favours or experimenting with utopian
ideologies, African states began to experience economic decline and the
impoverishment of the general populace. This was a double blow as African
states could neither boast of robust democratic development nor vibrant
economic growth. The rhetoric of an Afro-centric model of political and
economic development remained theoretical in the face of an entrenched
suppression of real and perceived opposition.
In contradiction to Asia, during this same period, the hitherto poor Asian
nations began to put in place mechanisms for sustained economic growth and
industrialisation. Like Africa, the independence elites in some of the Asian
states were dictators, but the difference was the keen sense of dedication
to development-oriented goals on the part of Asian leaders, a factor which
aided the subsequent move towards democratisation.
The changing dynamics of global politics, especially the end of the Cold War
in the early 1990s, meant that the independence elites and their heirs had
to adjust to a democratic political configuration. The so-called “democratic
revolution” of the 1990s thus phased out the one-party system, replacing it
with a flurry of multi-party elections across the continent. In countries
like Benin, Zambia, Malawi, Congo (Brazzaville), South Africa and Cape
Verde, opposition parties successfully ousted ruling parties, while in other
places such as Ghana, Kenya, Togo, Ivory Coast and Cameroon, the ruling
elites were able to manipulate the electoral system.
While the post-1990 political development in Africa has been largely
characterised by waves of multi-party elections, an objective assessment
cannot ignore how the politics of the 1960s has influenced the
democratisation process. In other words, it is important to consider the
adaptive nature of the political elites, especially as it relates how the
facade of democratisation is used to sustain an autocratic format. It is
impossible to overlook the successful advances at consolidating democracy in
some African countries. Countries such as Botswana, South Africa, Mauritius,
Ghana, Sao Tome & Principe have made substantial progression in building
democratic institutions and achieving relative economic success. Post-war
reconstruction efforts in places like Liberia, Sierra Leone and Mozambique
are equally commendable.
However, a survey of the nature of multi-party democracy in some African
countries reveals a worrying state of affairs. The reality is that most
African countries subscribe to the formal attributes of “multi-partyism”
rather than its content or substance. The potency of an enhanced
participatory process is usually diminished by widespread rigging of
election results, intimidation of opposition parties and the monopolisation
of mass media. As such, the ritual of periodic elections only serves to
maintain the status quo. The so-called new generation of African leaders
such as Paul Kagame (Rwanda), Yoweri Museveni (Uganda), Meles Zenawi
(Ethiopia), and Isaias Afwerki (Eritrea) have all reverted to the autocratic
mode of their predecessors. The political correctness of the term “president
for life” may have diminished, but manufactured electoral victories continue
to sustain the perpetual reign of leaders in Cameroon, Zimbabwe, Egypt,
Gambia and Equatorial Guinea. In the same vein, sons of former presidents
have either replaced their fathers (Togo, Congo DR and Gabon) or are being
groomed to ascend the presidency (Senegal, Egypt, Libya and Equatorial
The democratisation project in Africa is indeed at a crossroads. The hope of
independence and subsequently, the democracy wave of the 1990s, have largely
been eroded by the prevalent tendency to manipulate and monopolise the
political space. The narrative of one step forward, two steps backwards,
best describes the state of democracy in Africa. In this respect, every
progress made in countries such as South Africa, Mauritius and Ghana is
continuously overshadowed by dictatorship in states like Zimbabwe, Libya and
Equatorial Guinea. The constant relapse into autocracy remains a primary
obstacle to development on the continent.
Granted that there is no perfect democratic state, it is still important to
appreciate the values that highlight the dignity and the free will of
individuals to make choices on how they are governed. The debate on the
relativism or the contextual nature of democracy cannot be used as a
justification for reducing or eliminating the minimum standards of
democracy. Without any empirical proof, African dictators continue to mouth
the worn-out logic that Africans are more concerned with economic needs than
abstract political rights. Apart from the fact that this statement exposes
the desperation to suppress opposing voices, it posits that Africans lack
the capacity to desire freedom.
Democratisation in Africa thus requires a serious focus. The departure point
is the acceptance that the balance sheet of democracy on the continent
leaves much to be desired. It is against the backdrop of this realisation
that the task of advancing democratic standards on the continent should be
Enhancing democratic development in Africa requires some tough choices. The
obstinacy of African autocrats, even in the face of the negative
consequences of their actions, can only be countered by a well-devised
strategy to enhance compliance or in extreme cases, ostracise errant
regimes. In this regard, it is essential that a group of democratic states
establish a coalition to monitor the level of democratisation. Either within
a sub-regional or continental framework, such axis of democratic states
should also be at the forefront of applying sanctions to undemocratic
regimes. Such effort should complement already existing frameworks at the
sub-regional and continental levels aimed at enhancing governance. These
include the African Peer Review Mechanism, New Partnership for Africa’s
Development and the African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance.
A clear obstacle to the realisation of this goal is that all the regional
powerhouses in Africa, except for South Africa, are either outright
autocracies or semi-democratic societies. Egypt, Kenya, Ethiopia and
Nigeria, compared to smaller states within their regions, all have weak
democratic cultures. The political, military and economic clouts of these
regional hegemons are necessary ingredients for advancing democracy. Through
economic sanctions and in extreme cases, military interventions, regional
powerhouses can help shape the course of democracy. In addition, they can
also help develop the capacity (human and financial) of fellow states to
adhere to democratic standards.
The fact that the state of democracy in regional hegemons is below par
should, however, not deter the above suggested activist course. Instead, it
should present a challenge to existing democratic states, the civil society
and the international community to confront the malaise of dictatorship on
the continent. Deviating from the “wisdom” of African solidarity, it is
imperative that democratic states distance themselves from the
rationalisation of impunity. Through outright condemnation of
anti-democratic measures, boycott of regional summits aimed at condoning
dictatorial regimes, imposition of sanctions and support to pro-democracy
groupings, the axis of democratic states can make a useful contribution to
the advancement of democracy on the continent.
Babatunde Fagbayibo is executive director at the Centre for African
Integration and Development in Johannesburg.
Thursday, 23 December 2010 18:34
ZIMBABWE is in a continual state of déjà vu as we seem to be moving in
circles in as far as the political logjam is concerned, the hullaballoo
about elections and in the midst of that the disappearance of the
constitution reform agenda from the political topography of the nation.
I would like to suggest that the season demands and requires leaders who
will look beyond narrow sectarian, personal and party interests and put the
country first. We should not allow our judgment to be eclipsed by the here
and now especially the hype about elections which usually culminates in us
sacrificing our values, vision, priorities and intimately interwoven with
this, the interests of the people of Zimbabwe.
The Global Political Agreement (GPA) with its numerous flaws offers a
reasonable roadmap for the country for at least the next three to four years
of transition which we needed for constitutional, legislative and
institutional reform, national healing, economic stability and growth.
There is a feeling of helplessness and hopelessness about the inevitability
of elections albeit in an overtly unfair and uneven political playing field
epitomised by growing political tension, the arrest of journalists, an
incomplete constitutional reform process and the proposed draconian
legislation limiting public access to critical information. In the midst of
this I would like to explore several options that could be considered by
progressive Zimbabweans. They are not exhaustive or conclusive but are an
invitation to a conversation about our nation offering a framework of
alternative proactive action.
Who says everybody has to dance to the tune of one person and one party by
blindly participating in elections. One option would be to take the
initiative from President Robert Mugabe by boycotting elections unless
minimal demands are met. This would have the effect of isolating Zanu PF and
its leader and to highlight the gravity of the political crisis to the
international community. It would also delegitimise whatever government
comes into place. Hopefully this stance would force Sadc to intervene before
such an election.
However a poll boycott does have its downside. First of all Mugabe and Zanu
PF could simply ignore the boycott and continue with business as usual as
they did in the inconsequential one-man 2008 presidential second round poll.
The action would only embarrass Sadc and Mugabe but we all know that
embarrassment may not be enough to stop Zanu PF as they have become
insulated to it. Furthermore, a boycott could take us back by another 10
years as the next election would be in another five years. Zanu PF would be
unopposed and there would be no alternative representation. The gains made
in the post 2008 period would be reversed in one fell swoop as a partisan
parliament would pass more repressive legislation. Investor confidence (what
is left of it) will dwindle and there could be scaling up of “restrictive
measures and sanctions”. The Chiadzwa diamonds could come in handy in
propping up the regime although a ban of exports of the mineral is likely to
be intensified. In the interests of the nation a poll boycott would mean a
lot of pain for the people of Zimbabwe in the short to medium term.
The objective of such an action would be to force Sadc, the African Union
and the international community to push for comprehensive political and
economic reforms. The poll boycott strategy would only work if understood in
the context of strategic action and as a means to an end not an end itself.
This option is thus possible but ineffective but would work as an act of
political melodrama to gain leverage to negotiate for an even playing field.
At best it would work as a threat and not something to be actually done. The
opposition should count the cost before it engages in this act which could
either be a sacrifice resulting in long term gain, but conversely could be a
form of advanced political suicide if not done properly.
There is a school of thought especially in sections of civil society that
elections should only be held only if certain minimum demands are met. Such
minimum demands are limited to election related issues such as the immediate
political environment, targeted legislative reform, regional and
international election observers and provision of constitutional mechanisms
for transfer of power.
This approach seems to be the most realistic, but is based on a set of
assumptions, the most important being that these minimalist demands will be
met. I seriously doubt that Zanu PF will agree to international observers as
this will play into “the West is interfering” propaganda. Peripheral and
window dressing reform will be made as is the case already with proposals
that election results be announced within reasonable time. In countries such
as Kenya and Tanzania incumbents have used this to claim early victories and
have quickly sworn themselves in.
The only sure way of wresting power from the incumbent in an election under
the current conditions is for opposition parties to form a sort of rainbow
coalition. They may not want to be called opposition parties but the reality
is that in terms of power they are an opposition and Zanu PF for now is
controlling the unity government. My argument is that these parties have to
agree on an electoral pact under which they would back one candidate in the
The three things that stand in the way of such an arrangement are inflated
egos, insatiable political appetites and ideological differences. It is
pertinent and imperative for the leaders of MDC-T, MDC-M, Simba Makoni and
other progressive forces to come together and form a loose coalition within
the framework of an electoral pact which would enshrine a formula for
fielding candidates in various constituencies and, importantly, one
candidate for the presidential elections.
Opposition party leaders should put aside their differences and put the
national interest above partisan interests. Our leaders will have to put
aside their political egos and immediately start working towards such a pact
as a matter of urgency instead of wasting time castigating each other and
An analysis of political behaviour in the last 10 years shows that though
this is the most desirable scenario , our “winner take all, nation gains
nothing” attitude may be our biggest enemy. The two MDC factions were on the
verge of an agreement in the run up to the 2008 harmonised elections, but,
alas, insanity and expediency prevailed over reason and the two parties
contested against each other and supported different candidates.
Consequently unnecessary losses were recorded in places such as Mazoe South
were the two MDC candidates posted a combined vote of 5 453 against Zanu PF’s
Realistically, some opposition parties do not seem to add any value to the
electoral and democratic experience as displayed by some of the 13 parties
that contested in the 2008 parliamentary elections. Moreprecision Muzadzi ‘S
Voice of the People Party showed little precision garnering 63 votes
nationwide whilst the Zimbabwe Youth In Alliance garnered seven votes.
Obviously alliances with such parties would not be politically
cost-effective but the strength of Dumiso Dabengwa’s Zapu and the key role
it could play in the transfer of power equation cannot be ignored, neither
can the value Of MDC-M’s political talent combined with the mass appeal of
the MDC-T and the charisma of Morgan Tsvangirai, as well as the intelligence
of Simba Makoni.
The combined political weight of Tsvangirai, Tendai Biti, Arthur Mutambara,
Welshman Ncube, Dumiso Dabengwa and Makoni will literally decimate Zanu PF
in any election even if the ruling party were to resort to violence. These
leaders should realise the importance of running together in this important
national race where the biggest winners will be the Zimbabwean people.
In the first round of the 2008 presidential race Tsvangirai garnered 1
1079,730 (approximately 47,9 % ) of the votes against Mugabe’s 1 079,730
(43,2 % of the vote), with Simba Makoni (backed by MDC-M) garnering 207 470
votes (about 8,3 %of the votes). Simple arithmetic infers that if MDC-T,
MDC-M and the Mavambo project had backed one candidate, in that case
Tsvangirai, Zimbabwe’s political history and indeed future would have been
different. Obviously these parties and their leaders differ on ideological
grounds but when a house is on fire the identity, religion and political
opinion of those trying to put out the fire ceases to be important.
Interparty talks between the three parties are therefore critical. This
alliance should then demand that elections be held in conformity with the
Sadc Guidelines and Principles on the Conduct of Democratic Elections which
espouse the creation of a level electoral playing field. Observers from Sadc
and other countries should be in the country at least 90 days before
election day so that they can monitor the pre-election environment which is
usually fraught with violence, and not the actual voting day only as this
tends to be a largely political ritual carried out to the satisfaction of
those observing election day processes.
It is unlikely that observers from the EU will be accredited to observe the
polls. Whilst this may be desirable it may be impossible because of official
paranoia and “devil behind every bush” philosophy held so dearly by Zanu PF.
The voters roll needs to be updated and accessible, the state media
accessible to all political parties and repressive legislation reviewed
The best option
The best route remains the full implementation of the GPA with emphasis on
constitutional and institutional reform, national healing not national
dealing, and economic stability and growth. Elections for now are a costly
shortcut. We need to script a new framework that provides for
democratisation of state institutions and processes as well as a conducive
environment for investment and growth. Our preoccupation with elections
could result in negative imaging culminating in continued lack of investors,
increased unemployment and decline in wages as a result of further fall in
capacity utilisation in the industrial sector.
I know others argue that there are too many centres of power in the current
government hence decision making is problematic, but we have to view this as
an evolutionary process not a once-off revolution which may result in a
change of actors but maintain the script. Efforts should continue to prove
to Sadc that unless the Zimbabwean crisis /stalemate is resolved it could
have dire consequences on the peace, security and economic wellbeing of the
entire sub-region. This is especially so for South Africa which could face a
fresh influx of immigrants from Zimbabwe thus causing unrest in the
socio-economic and political architecture of the country thus heightening
xenophobia and political tension.
The roadmap provided by the GPA is shaky but ensures that we are not just
preparing for a democratic election but rather democratic governance
characterised by democratic processes, laws and institutions.
Dumisani Nkomo is the chief executive officer and spokesperson of the
Matabeleland Civil Society Consortium–Habakkuk Trust. He writes here in his
personal capacity. Email: email@example.com
Thursday, 23 December 2010 18:55
PRIME Minister Morgan Tsvangirai captured the national mood when he said in
his “End of Year statement to the people of Zimbabwe” that the inclusive
government has restored political and economic stability since its formation
in February last year.
It is patently obvious the situation has dramatically improved since 2008
when the country teetered on the brink of collapse at the height of an
unprecedented political and economic meltdown. The ravages of economic
disintegration, exacerbated by hyperinflation and political repression had
reduced Zimbabwe to a virtual failed state.
Most — not exclusively — of the credit, as Tsvangirai noted, goes to him. He
should have, however, added Arthur Mutambara and his party who also deserve
compliment. In a way President Robert Mugabe and Zanu PF also deserve some
tribute despite being the original authors of the problem.
In short, all the three parties, notwithstanding internal power struggles,
did make an effort to work together although during the infighting Mugabe
now and again lost sight of the bigger picture and resorted to petty
squabbling. Tsvangirai in the heat of battle every so often lost the plot.
He was, as Ambassador Dell reported, weak and indecisive. Mutambara was
caught in between and from time to time his behaviour was clumsy and
The premier was right in saying “we have added value to this government”.
“We have pulled this nation from the brink of collapse to a new potential of
hope,” he said. “We have averted an inevitable plunge into the abyss to set
the country back on the rails; on a new path of stability, development and
No sane person can deny this. Of course, he exaggerated his case when he
claimed “we are the people’s conscience in this government and every day”.
We know for certain that a number of MDC-T officials in government lacked
basic principles and ethics in doing their jobs. Their sense of right and
wrong was compromised by the trappings of power — office, benefits, posh
cars and mansions.
Tsvangirai’s rather honest, perhaps inevitable, admission of failure in a
number of areas was also attention-grabbing.
Among many, one of Tsvangirai’s most interesting admissions was that power
relations in government and negotiations still favour Mugabe and Zanu PF.
The MDC-T failed to change this. Instead of saying how he would or ought to
contain Mugabe, Tsvangirai said he was frustrated because “President Mugabe
has chosen to run away from his signature and treats fellow principals with
utter disdain and contempt”.
“I am frustrated because the noble-constitution-making process has failed to
stand the test of legitimacy after Zimbabweans were disallowed from freely
expressing their views,” Tsvangirai mourned.
In a number of ways, Tsvangirai also admitted he was unable to match Mugabe
in the ruthless political manoeuvrings of the inclusive government. The
prime minister, who at one time reduced himself to a Mugabe apologist and
praise-singer, by and large admitted losing the plot. It looks like he had
simply forgotten the “political history of the devil” and his “crusades”.
The chance to reassert himself in the New Year remains. But time is marching
Tsvangirai must wake up and smell the coffee.
Thursday, 23 December 2010 18:54
WITH the inclusive government almost in its second year, the country would
have expected that there would be a clearly defined road map on the course
the country is taking. Alas this is not the case as there is now more
confusion than ever, especially after inconsistent utterances by one of the
three principals in the inclusive government, President Robert Mugabe.
The past few days have clearly demonstrated that Mugabe is the master of
double-speak. Opening the Zanu PF 11th National People’s Conference last
Friday, Mugabe was defiant, reiterating the position which he first took on
October 14 while addressing the Zanu PF National Youth Assembly. He said
then the inclusive government was not working as it should.
“Some will say let us negotiate and give it another life. I am reluctant
because part of the things that are happening (in the inclusive government)
are absolutely foolish and stupid,” he said.
Having spewed vitriol at the MDC and the inclusive government at the
conference and having vowed to hold elections mid next year, it was a great
surprise to see Mugabe on Monday holding a press conference with his other
principals in the inclusive government — Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai
and Deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara — extolling the achievements of
the unity government.
“We would want to believe that we have done quite a lot and also raised the
economic performance in the country,” Mugabe said.
Gone was the defiant declaration that elections would be held mid-next
year — come what may — and replaced by a joint agreement to fulfill certain
processes before the polls.
Mugabe was not done yet. A day after presenting a united front with
Tsvangirai and Mutambara, he was in Gutu addressing chiefs castigating the
The fact that Mugabe can afford to engage in double-speak at different fora
suggests that he is just playing to the gallery. These ping-pong
pronouncements by Mugabe substantiate our call for elections to be postponed
until such a time as the economy has stabilised and meaningful democratic
reforms have been undertaken.
For Mugabe to continuously call for elections when most of the objectives of
the GPA have not been fulfilled proves that his is not an agenda in the
For Mugabe to continuously call for elections when the government does not
have enough money to adequately pay civil servants and when no serious
measures have been put in place for national healing to curb incidences of
violence smacks of a personal and selfish agenda.
The calls by Mugabe have brought about uncertainty in the country and are
likely to result in investors shelving their plans to inject much-needed
funding into the country’s near empty coffers. This is after numerous
investment conferences to try and attract investment.
Which leaves us to ask, what game are you playing, Mr President?
Without a clear position, the country will continue to hobble on aimlessly,
and the victims will continue to be the people of Zimbabwe, the very people
whose interests you purport to be promoting.
Thursday, 23 December 2010 18:54
ONE thing that stood out at last week’s Zanu PF conference in Mutare was the
“revenge” threat where the party vowed vengeance for the sanctions imposed
by the West by taking over companies of British and American origin.
The conference was predictably full of sound and fury but, as has often been
the case, ended up with nothing much apart from sending a chill down the
spine of investors. The call for revenge came at a time when the
indigenisation policy has stirred endless problems.
It would be interesting to start by noting how Zanu PF sets the agenda for
issues to be discussed and how debates are conducted.
The party, which executed a liberation war organised under the Leninist
principle of democratic centralism, has failed to grow out of this
organisational method which it has been abusing ever since leaving the bush
Whereas under democratic centralism there is room for debate, it is clearly
evident that at Zanu PF conferences, the presidium sets the agenda and the
role of the delegates is to give it a modicum of discussion.
As such, the “revenge thesis” was informed by this flawed decision-making
model which leaves many wondering what intellectual effort drove it and what
the benefits for the ordinary Zimbabwean are.
If the decision to avenge the sanctions against the country by “hitting
back” and taking over companies of British and American origin was not
informed by deep intellectual effort, then the logical question is what is
the effect of that announcement?
Zanu PF has a tendency of adopting certain policies which suit populist
pretentions and the fast- track land reform and this new push fit snugly
into this category. It is without doubt a policy that has been adopted with
an eye firmly set on the anticipated elections next year.
What is worrisome is that there is a continued failure to distinguish
between politics and the economy. This threat, if implemented, would have
far-reaching consequences for the economy. This is a precipitous if not
mischievous policy, as it is not rooted in the quest to better the lives of
ordinary citizens. They expect those who govern them to find ways to uplift
their living standards and not grab food from their mouths. Zanu PF expects
this resolution to be translated into policy and the question is how would
this be done given the current configuration in the inclusive government.
The bureaucrats, who should implement this policy, know very well that it
will not work and unlike the land reform cannot be forced down people’s
Since this is a political move, investors are likely to respond in a
predictable manner — hold on to their funds or move out of the country. Zanu
PF thinks it has plan B in its “Look East” policy.
Zanu PF has a misplaced faith in Oriental investors but any serious analyst
will tell you that if anything, Chinese investments have been a trickle and
it will take a long time before they become torrents.
Not many large investors from China have come to the country despite a
deliberate effort under the “Look East” policy. What the country has been
receiving are the petty retailers who have transformed the country into a
giant supermarket selling cheap merchandise and the result has been the
death of certain small-scale industries run by Zimbabweans. The death of the
textile and shoe industries can be traced to the influx of the cheap
merchandise. The very mention of Chinese investors evokes images of the
dragon devouring local industries.
After all, it would not make sense to replace Rio Tinto and Anglo American
with Chinese companies because the Oriental countries are friendly to us.
The move would not assist in the country’s industrialising efforts.
Zimbabwe’s industries, battered by a decade of economic problems, are
struggling to reach the 50% capacity utilisation and the recent calls only
serve to take us backwards.
It is clear that Zimbabwe’s lost decade led to massive de-industrialisation
and as it stands at the moment, the country should come up with clear
strategies to attract investment which would assist in re-industrialisation.
A critical analysis of the recent Zanu PF conference shows that the
pronouncements made in Mutare do not in any was assist in the
re-industrialisation efforts. In fact they would reverse the few gains
recorded so far and it would henceforth take a short-sighted investor to
throw his penny’s worth of capital into Zimbabwe’s bottomless pit.