AN increasingly authoritative and
assertive President Robert Mugabe might wield the axe on a number of Cabinet
ministers after the ongoing ZANU PF congress to stamp out dissent and
tension threatening to tear the ruling party apart.
ministers (names supplied) are part of a coterie of ruling party officials
whose flirtation in ZANU PF and the government could come to a dramatic end
after they courted the wrath of President Mugabe and
vice-president-in-waiting Joyce Mujuru's powerful backers in the run-up to
the party's nominations for the key top four posts. Highly placed
sources said the Zimbabwean leader, who is also on the war path against
corrupt private and public sector officials, has already made up his mind on
the ouster of the ministers, but is considering when to pull the
trigger. They said there were, however, some ZANU PF faithful putting
pressure on President Mugabe to let the ministers off the hook, for fear
that any harsh punishment could lay a fertile ground for another opposition
party that might cause more problems for the ruling party. The
faction-ridden ZANU PF, desperately held together by President Mugabe, seen
as the stabilising influence, has been noticeably shaken in the past three
weeks, which were punctuated by a series of crisis meetings by its
decision-making politburo. The tremor was caused by well-known subtle but
potentially divisive power struggles. The situation boiled over when
the party nominated candidates for key posts for its central committee and
presidency. As party stalwarts, whose aim was to lose as little as possible
from a political point of view, jostled for votes, ZANU PF was plunged into
a crisis unprecedented since independence. With the exercise
bringing to the fore the growing intolerance, confrontation and lack of
consensus in the ruling party, several politicians emerged bruised.
Information Minister Jonathan Moyo, who became part of President Mugabe's
Cabinet in 2000, was reprimanded on Monday for convening an unsanctioned
meeting in Tsholotsho just before the nominations, while Energy and Power
Development Minister July Moyo was among the six provincial chairmen
suspended from party activities for the next six months. The two
ministers are key in President Mugabe's government, where the information
chief has been the brains behind campaign strategies, while the other Moyo
is an experienced civil servant who has worked in various ministries. He
also commands a lot of respect in the Midlands. The provincial chairmen
were punished for attending the Tsholotsho meeting convened by
Moyo. The information minister has previously ruffled the feathers of
senior ZANU PF officials - namely Nathan Shamuyarira, over the SKY News
debacle, Vice-President Joseph Msika over the Kondozi Farm saga,Nkomo and
Aeneas Chigwedere, among others. July Moyo, the Midlands
politician, catapulted into the Cabinet as a non-constituency Member of
Parliament courtesy of President Mugabe, was hit for six months together
with his Tsholotsho adventurers for attending the unsanctioned meeting,
suspected to have been called to scuttle Mujuru's push towards the
vice-presidency, courtesy of the politburo resolution. The politburo
meeting, chaired by President Mugabe, found the six chairpersons guilty of
working against the candidatures of Vice-President Joseph Msika, party
national chairman John Nkomo and Mujuru, President Mugabe's preferred
candidate for the vacant post of vice-president during the party's
nominations. Sources said President Mugabe, who warned of severe
reprisals when the news of the Tsholotsho political machinations broke, was
bidding his time before cracking down heavily on other senior party bigwigs
being fingered in "shady political deals". Besides July Moyo
(Midlands), Jacob Mudenda (Matabeleland North), Themba Ncube (Bulawayo),
Daniel Shumba (Masvingo), Lloyd Siyoka (Matabeleland South) and Mike Madiro
(Mutare) were the other provincial chairmen suspended for attending the
unsanctioned Tsholotsho meeting. The ZANU PF insiders said that all of
the six chairpersons where eyeing parliamentary seats in their respective
constituencies next March and probably Cabinet posts thereafter.
The suspensions handed down on Tuesday by the Politburo, the ZANU PF sources
said, automatically rendered them ineligible to contest ruling party
primaries to be held after this week's congress. Shumba, the
TeleAccess boss, has made public his interest for the Masvingo Central seat,
currently held by Silas Mangono of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC).
Mudenda, Ncube, Siyoka, Moyo and Madiro were all understood to have
positioned themselves to run on a ZANU PF ticket. Jabulani Sibanda, the
war veterans leader believed to be close to Emmerson Mnangagwa, was
suspended for four-years. He has been coveting a seat in Nkulumane, the same
seat being eyed by Dumiso Dabengwa, the former ZIPRA intelligence
supremo. When the Politburo suspended the six at a fiery marathon
meeting on Tuesday, it stated that they would not be allowed to take part in
any party activities, which include the primaries. "It's a great
blow to their political careers. All were ambitious but forgot that ambition
is made of sterner stuff," said a ZANU PF senior member, speaking on
condition of anonymity.
ANOTHER International Monetary Fund
(IMF) delegation arrived in the country yesterday for consultation with
government and monetary authorities, in a development set to see the thawing
of the fund's frosty relations with Harare.
Three members of
the four-man team landed in Harare yesterday, with the fourth official
expected on Saturday, for a 10-day working visit for which meetings have
been scheduled with senior government and Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ)
officials. The visit by the IMF delegation follows the tour by
Abdoulaye Bio-Tchane, head of the African department at the IMF, a fortnight
ago. It also comes towards the expiry of a six-month reprieve Zimbabwe got
from the Bretton Woods institution, when it will review its position on the
possible expulsion of Harare from the 184-member organisation.
During his visit, when he spoke of a window of opportunity for renewed
cooperation, Bio-Tchane met President Robert Mugabe, acting Finance Minister
Herbert Murerwa and RBZ governor Gideon Gono. The IMF delegation is
made up of Paul Heytens, Sonia Munoz, Sanket Mohapatra and Sharmini Coorey.
Coorey is the IMF official responsible for Zimbabwe and she was in the
country only a fortnight ago when she accompanied Bio-Tchane. Gono
confirmed the visit by the IMF delegation, saying it was in keeping with
efforts to further strengthen improving relations. "The President set
the tone for greater engagement with not only the IMF or World Bank but
other multilateral and bilateral agencies in general. The scene that has
been set is one of co-operation . . . there is no ambiguity in the minds of
the monetary authorities as regards the implementation of the road map set
by the head of state. "We stand to learn a lot from the IMF, who have
indicated that they are prepared to accept our peculiar homegrown turnaround
efforts. We are ready to go into country-specific solutions, which the IMF
can bring on board and not the one-size-fits-all approach," Gono said
yesterday. The upbeat central bank chief said relations with the IMF
had taken a turn for the better, for the first time in seven years since the
fund slammed the door on Zimbabwe. Zimbabwe's relationship with the
IMF and its Bretton Woods twin, the World Bank (WB), has deteriorated over
the years, with the government accusing the development agency of undue
interference. The government has often blamed the country's economic
woes, typified by a 28.4 percent decline in gross domestic product, on the
WB/IMF-inspired Economic Structural Adjustment Programme, which Zimbabwe
adopted in 1990 and abandoned at the turn of the century. The
multilateral institutions have, on the other hand, blamed the country's
worst economic crisis on mismanagement of the economy and alleged lack of
sound governance. Further, Zimbabwe's weak economic performance has
also meant that the country was no longer able to service its debts with the
fund. This became a major factor in the country's relations with the IMF, as
with other donor agencies and international financiers, who normally take
their cue from the Bretton Woods institution. Zimbabwe has however since
committed itself to quarterly settlements of US$5 million and the fund has
expressed its satisfaction with the country's debt repayments. The
IMF resolved to close its Harare branch in October, but stressed that the
move was in no way linked to Zimbabwe's overdue debt, adding that the fund
did not maintain representative offices in all its member countries.
THE Criminal Law
(Codification and Reform) Bill, which proposes punishment of up to 20 years
imprisonment for anyone who publishes or communicates statements perceived
to be prejudicial to the state, is unconstitutional and meant to close any
"loopholes" in the existing repressive media laws, analysts
The proposed law, which has miffed journalists and other
media activists in and outside Zimbabwe, was this week roundly condemned by
media experts and analysts who dismissed it as a another strong-arm tactic
by the government to further curtail press freedom.
who spoke to The Financial Gazette said the Bill would deal with those
government critics in the media that escape the draconian Access to
Information and Protection of Privacy Act (AIPPA) and the Public Order and
Security Act (POSA).
Eldred Masunungure, a political science
lecturer at the University of Zimbabwe, said the government, which accuses
the independent media of working in cahoots with "regime change proponents,
probably noticed some loopholes" in AIPPA and POSA, hence the push towards
another draconian law.
"It (government) now wants to close every
avenue of free expression. It is further tightening the screws on
journalists, especially those working in the independent press. It's part of
a grand scheme or total strategy to strangulate the media or those still
expressing views contrary to those of the government or the ruling ZANU PF,"
"There is AIPPA and POSA. Now there is going to
be this law. It's a multiple-pronged approach designed to net as many
dissenters as possible. If AIPPA and POSA miss you, this one will get you,"
Human rights lawyer Brian Kagoro, who is also chairman of
Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition, a loose grouping of 350 local civic
organisations, said the unconstitutionality of the proposed legislation was
blatant in that it prohibited Zimbabweans from criticising the
"It's probably worse than AIPPA," said Kagoro. "The state
itself is not infallible so as such it is bound to make mistakes. The
safeguard of every citizen is to be a critic of the state," he
The Bill, which seeks to bring under one document all
criminal laws in Zimbabwe, has already sailed through the second reading
stage in Parliament and is now at the committee stage.
31 of the Bill criminalises publishing or communicating "to any person a
statement, which is wholly or materially false with the intention or
realising that there is a real risk of inciting or promoting public disorder
or violence or endangering public safety."
David Coltart, a
Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) legislator and the opposition party's
legal affairs spokesman, added his voice to the growing disenchantment about
the latest law.
"The section that deals with crimes against the
state smacks of fascism and is far worse than those passed by the Smith
regime. The 20-year sentence is shocking and condemns the prisoner to death
in Zimbabwean jails," said Coltart.
"The government is passing
laws that are unconstitutional. They are desperate to shut down dissenting
voices," he added.
Kagoro also added: "If the state acts unjustly,
the citizens have a right to criticise or rebel. To enact a law that says
citizens can't communicate to each other statements seen as prejudicial to
the state is grossly unconstitutional and unfair," Kagoro
Clause 31 of the Bill also criminalises the publishing or
communicating to any other person a statement adversely affecting the
defence and economic interests of Zimbabwe or undermining public confidence
in law enforcement agents or interfering with, disrupting or interrupting
any essential services.
Citizens found guilty risk 20 years in
jail or a $5 million fine or both.
The Zimbabwe Union of
Journalists, the largest body representing media workers in the country, has
also condemned the proposed new law.
AMA threatens survival of CFU's cotton selling
Zhean Gwaze 12/2/2004 7:00:21 AM (GMT +2)
THE future of Cottrade, the cotton marketing arm of the Commercial Farmers'
Union (CFU), is hanging in the balance following plans by the government to
resuscitate the Agricultural Marketing Authority (AMA).
told The Financial Gazette this week that Cottrade might be forced to close
shop should plans to resurrect the AMA sail through.
Irked by the
stand-off between buyers and cotton growers over the pricing of cotton, the
Agriculture Ministry is now pushing for the re-establishment of the AMA,
which had been closed in 1994.
The authority would enjoy a monopoly
in the marketing of cotton, which has replaced tobacco as Zimbabwe's top
foreign exchange earner in the agricultural sector.
boss Michele Bragge could not shed light on the marketing agent's future
when contacted for comment this week.
Bragge said the marketing arm
had been given a new lease of life following recommendations by the board of
directors this week to "continue serving existing contractors".
"A decision was reached to continue servicing existing contractors for the
new cotton season and make every effort to make the Cottrade marketing
system available to cotton growers in the foreseeable future allowing for
favourable marketing conditions," he said.
Cotton is expected
to earn between US$120 million and US$150 million in exports this year.
Zimbabwe is expected to produce 400 000 metric tonnes of cotton, up from 331
000 metric tonnes last year, according to Cottco.
IT is a full year
since Gideon Gono, who cut the image of an old-school anti-inflation hawk of
the traditional economy, took office as governor of the Reserve Bank of
And what a year it has been.
Detractors and admirers alike are in agreement that never before in the
country's history has a public servant had the sort of effect Gono has had,
never mind the fact that he has only been at it for just 12 months.
As the newly appointed governor was being inundated with congratulatory
messages (and, in some instances, messages of commiseration), the Central
Statistical Office (CSO) was reporting an annualised inflation rate of 619.5
percent (the second highest in the country's history) in November and a
monthly rate of 33.6 percent.
An interest rate spike, which was to
peak at about 1000 percent by the end of the year, was already evident and
sending jitters across the financial sector and firms with significant
exposures to debt.
The generality of the populace, which expected
Gono's decisions to determine the economic well-being of every Zimbabwean,
was emerging from an unprecedented bank note crisis which destroyed public
faith in the banking industry.
Capacity utilisation in industry
had sagged to a low 30 percent.
Exports were failing and the dollar
was falling off the cliff, while the greater part of the economy had gone
In short, the economy was a goner and not even Gono,
who rose to public prominence following the successful turnaround of the
Commercial Bank of Zimbabwe (CBZ), an offshoot of the infamous Bank of
Credit and Commerce of Zimbabwe (BCCZ), could do anything about
When an ebullient Gono made his maiden monetary policy
statement on December 18, in which he laid down his targets - both
short-term and long-term- the scepticism simply mounted, particularly over
the sub-200 percent inflation target for December 2005.
months on, the inflation target is not only well in sight but has been
reviewed downwards to between 150 percent and 170 percent. As of October,
annualised inflation was 209 percent.
Capacity utilisation has
increased from 30 percent to about 65 percent through a series of policy
interventions by the central bank, which have mainly targeted the supply
"It has been one of the shortest years I've ever had to live
in my 45 years of existence," said Gono, who turned 45 on November
Indeed, the RBZ chief has gone through his first year at a pace
that suggests hyperactivity.
For instance, the governor's
schedule this week, which saw him visit Cape Town on Monday on a trip
organised by Citibank to meet bankers and fund managers was all in a day's
work, as were the two meetings in Johannesburg with the investment community
and unsettled platinum industry investors on Tuesday. The week will be wound
up with a meeting with a visiting International Monetary Fund (IMF)
"The year has been hectic, full of trials and
tribulations, but I want to underscore the support that I got, and continue
to get, from the generality of Zimbabweans, the country's presidency, the
ministry of finance as well as the governor's advisory board, made up of
captains of industry and commerce."
For a central bank governor
who attracts the attention normally reserved for politicians, Gono chooses
to be modest about the success his team has scored following the adoption of
a fairly unorthodox monetary policy and stridently refuses to appraise his
"I leave that judgment and evaluation to my superiors
and other stakeholders. It is not for the governor to say I have done
Indeed like a politician, Gono has earned adulation for
reviving confidence in the economy and brickbats, particularly from those
who have borne the brunt of the painful reorganisation of the financial
sector, which had run on virtual autopilot for a long time.
Critics have accused Gono of playing the overlord, encroaching into areas
beyond his jurisdiction. But like a patriot, the central bank chief who
happens to have the ear of virtually everyone in the land, has indeed voiced
concern over matters not necessarily monetary.
The ongoing tour by
the England cricket team is a case in point. Gono's eleventh hour
intervention broke the impasse after the government had denied British
journalists accreditation to cover the tour and threw the fixture in
While Gono has certainly not accomplished all he set out to
achieve - the failure by some distressed banks to come around despite the
establishment of a Troubled Banks Fund (TBF) immediately comes to mind, as
does the delay in the setting up of an infrastructure bank - much of his
targets have been met and are being surpassed.
Apart from the
decelerating inflation and the improvement in capacity utilisation, the
central bank has led the diplomatic initiative with international
financiers, led by the IMF.
Rampant indiscipline in the banking
sector has been ruthlessly punished and a sound corporate governance culture
On the foreign currency front, the introduction of
controlled auctions for hard currency have not only progressively done away
with the unrealistic $824 to the United States dollar exchange rate and
brought regular review to the current $5 600 to the greenback, but has also
induced currency stability, a major factor in stabilising
Although it is scarcely sufficient to meet demand for
hard currencies, the auction system has brought a degree of predictability
firms sorely missed when the parallel market for major currencies
As a consequence of this and other policy measures the
country had, by November 2004, raked in US$1.5 billion against just US$300
million in 2003.
There has also been a positive response in gold
production figures. By November 2004, 19.1 tonnes had been produced, with a
target of 22 tonnes set for the whole year. Production of 12 tonnes was
recorded in 2003 and an unprecedented target of 30 tonnes has been set for
The broader picture shows Zimbabwe returning to positive
economic growth in 2005, although expert opinion remains divergent when it
comes to the quantum of the growth.
land question continues to stir controversy four years on with the police
last week moving to seal off former Zimbabwe Defence Forces commander
Vitalis Zvinavashe's farm.
The police blockade on the former
defence forces chief's Melton Park Farm in Mashonaland West, which ended a
few days later, came against the backdrop of a government crackdown on
alleged multiple farm owners. Police spokesman Wayne Bvudzijena this
week confirmed dispatching officers to seal off Zvinavashe's property and
other farms linked to multiple farm owners, who are mostly ruling ZANU PF
officials and senior civil servants. Highly placed sources said the
police only rescinded the blockade after Zvinavashe, a former soldier and
ruling party loyalist, argued his case "to the highest authorities". They
said Zvinavashe, who apparently had an offer letter, also proved to the
authorities that he had been allocated only one farm. The land
reform, sparked off in 2000 by the fighters of Zimbabwe's war of liberation,
has been fraught with controversy at every turn. Land audits carried
out so far have revealed that top ZANU PF officials and senior civil
servants owned more than one farm, in contravention of the government's
one-man-one-farm policy. The bulk of the land allocated to landless
blacks is also underutilised. Zvinavashe, who joined ZANU PF's
military high command in 1969, was reluctant to comment on the issue this
week. He, however, said he still had control over Melton Park. "I
do not know what you are talking about. I am here at the farm so this talk
that I have been dispossesed of the farm is unfounded," Zvinavashe
said. Despite Zvinavashe's denials of the blockade, workers at
Melton Park confirmed to The Financial Gazette his future at the farm had
been plunged into doubt when a police team descended on the property a week
ago. "Six police officers came here last week and they stayed for a
whole week. We did not even know what they were here for but the surprising
part is that they barred us from carrying out our normal farming duties,"
said a worker at Melton Park. The workers said Zvinavashe's visits
to the farm had become very infrequent. The farm produces soya
beans, seed maize, commercial maize and wheat, among other crops.
Police officers have also been deployed at Glensite Farm, situated between
Norton and Chegutu. "The police officers have been here for nearly a
week and they told us not to engage in any farming activities," said a
worker at Glensite. "The problem is the police suspect that some of
these new farmers are fronts for big chefs," said the worker.
Bvudzijena told The Financial Gazette that the police had started probing
the issue of multiple farm ownership. He said police officers were
being deployed to ensure that resettlement regulations were being adhered
to. "Multiple farm owners are being investigated. The police move on
the farms as soon as possible if there are suspicions that there are
multiple farm owners like the area you mentioned, Glensite," Bvudzijena
said. "The presence of the police is to ensure that regulations
pertaining to resettlement are sorted out," Bvudzijena said. He
would not shed more light, referring all further questions to Special
Affairs Minister John Nkomo, who refused to comment.
bickering and jockeying for power that characterised the run-up to this
year's ZANU PF People's Congress has generated unprecedented interest in the
gathering to be held this weekend.
This congress will be like no
other the ruling party has held in the last decade. It will indeed be a
"people's congress" in a true but rather ironic sense of the word - the
whole nation will be waiting with bated breath for the outcome of these
In the past, Zimbabweans who are not members of the
ruling party and who blame its policies for pauperising them have tended to
dismiss the event as an irrelevant "talkfest". Some have seen the congress
as an excuse for ZANU PF and its members to throw an elaborate party while
the rest of the people struggled to put food on their tables and others
These "festivities" were punctuated with
self-congratulation and the chanting of familiar mantras about land reform.
Stepped up attacks against familiar "enemies of the state" such as United
States President George Bush, British Prime Minister Tony Blair and the
opposition Movement for Democratic Change became permanent features of these
The party's voice against these scepegoats and
perceived enemies was particularly shrill during last year's people's
congress in Masvingo. Zimbabwe had just angrily pulled out of the
Commonwealth and as a result this group of countries that were at one time
under British rule, were the enemy of choice. The venue of that particular
congress, a giant tent, was awash with slogans and epithets denouncing Don
McKinnon, general secretary of the Commonwealth, Australian Prime Minister
John Howard (Howard the Coward) and of course Messrs Blair and
McKinnon and Howard were accused of being spokesmen for the
"racist White Commonwealth" which had criticised Zimbabwe's alleged human
rights record, lack of democratic governance and lawlessness within the
country. Bush was accused of trying to effect regime change while Blair was
cast as the villain responsible for every conceivable problem bedevilling
This year, with an uproar raging within its own
ranks, it will be interesting to see how and whether ZANU PF will insinuate
these familiar scapegoats into the equation and accuse them of being
responsible for the divisions that have rocked the party following the
nomination of Joyce Mujuru for the post of one of the co-vice presidents of
the party and automatically the country.
"This congress can be
full of unexpected developments and the impetus for long-term political
change could come from ZANU PF itself." This is not the view of a political
scientist or analyst. These words were spoken by an ordinary Zimbabwean who
was taking part in an impromptu but lively pavement discussion.
It seems that every where one goes, Zimbabweans are talking about the
goings-on within the ruling party and their likely ramifications for the
rest of the country. Some long-suffering Zimbabweans hope that rampant
disgruntlement within its own ranks will jolt it into listening to the rest
of society. While riding into town in a public transport vehicle, I listened
to another spontaneous and animated discussion on the implications of the
in-fighting within ZANU PF occurring so close to the holding of its
His voice rising an octave with each point he made,
one passenger asked how the ruling party could hope to continue its attempts
to create a "mass mind" within the rest of society when events leading up to
this year's congress have shown that dissent exists even within its own
ranks. When people in the larger society have expressed or held views that
did not coincide with those of the government or the ruling party, they have
been accused of being unpatriotic and puppets of foreign imperialistic
But what are those within ZANU PF who defied a directive
to nominate a woman candidate for vice president to be called? What foreign
interests were they serving? Developments that have occurred within the
ruling party over the last few months have tended to demolish some of the
themes used regularly by government propagandists to ridicule and discredit
critics of state policies and actions.
One young passenger in
the emergency taxi where this lively debate was taking place said although
she welcomed Joyce Mujuru's ascendancy to a top position, she had
reservations about the way she had been nominated. "The fact that ZANU PF
provinces were ordered to nominate a woman shows that the process was not
free and spontaneous."
She was disturbed by the fact that this was
an "election" whose outcome was determined before hand.
views were echoed by other passengers who said this showed ZANU PF would
never change its spots. Someone asked how Mujuru could be expected to be
effective and operate as a free agent when she owed her victory to the
leadership. Although the people know they should not read too much into the
troubles within ZANU PF, it is nevertheless true that this year's congress
cannot be dismissed as a non-event as has happened in the past.
Some Zimbabweans said if for no other reason, they would follow this year's
proceedings closely to see what action President Mugabe would take against
those accused of defying party directives. A case to be watched with the
keenest interest is that involving Information and Publicity Minister
The controversial propaganda chief has been
accused of convening an unsanctioned meeting at which a document being
referred to as the "Tsholotsho Declaration" was allegedly crafted. President
Mugabe vowed last weekend to deal with Moyo for defying the party. A
statement attributed to President Mugabe by a Sunday paper touched on a
question ordinary Zimbabweans have been debating for a long time. The
President was quoted as saying, "The name Tsholotsho has become good and
evil. At first we thought the professor was getting the resources, wherever
they come from, to improve the area but what is frightening us now is this
thrust to defy the party".
If the President indeed gets to the
bottom of this matter, it will be interesting to know where Moyo, who has
been a prolific donor for years, gets the money and equipment he routinely
gives away. When Moyo's donations have sparked controversy in the past there
have always been unanswered questions about how much the President knew
about his propaganda guru's activities and his motives. Complaints in the
past by other government ministers that Moyo was meddling in their
portfolios and usurping their powers have tended to fall on deaf
Matabeleland North Governor, Obert Mpofu,
complained at the weekend that he had lost control over civil servants in
the region because they were now "reporting to Tsholotsho". Can the
President still ignore these complaints?
The nation watches
with bated breath to see whether Moyo, who has seemed unassailable as he has
clashed left, right and centre with stakeholders from all walks of life over
the past few years, will manage to wriggle out of the trap he set for
himself. The Moyo saga and the other emotive issues to be resolved at the
People's Congress make it the hottest, not-to-be-missed show in
THAT the 2005 national budget announced last week by acting
Finance and Economic Development Minister Herbert Murerwa was crafted
against the backdrop of another poor financial year for Zimbabwe - in
contrast with the global economy's strongest growth in 30 years -
accentuates the urgent need for the country to seek greater international
Despite rising oil prices, the global economy will
grow by five percent, higher than the projected 4.5 percent - the strongest
growth recorded since 1973. The sub-Saharan economy will also grow
by 4.2 percent this year, up from 3.5 percent in 2003. By contrast,
the Zimbabwean economy, which has shrunk by as much as 28.4 percent between
1993 and 2003, will record further negative growth this year.
Murerwa said the decline in real gross domestic product (GDP) would be 2.5
percent, an improvement from 8.5 percent in 2003. However, independent
statistics put this year's decline at 9.3 percent. The government
is optimistic the country will return to positive growth in 2005, by between
3.5 percent and five percent. Analysts question the feasibility of this
forecast, which is based largely on a 28 percent growth in agriculture - a
sector yet to recover from the controversial land reforms, which
destabilised the economy. Agriculture declined by 3.3 percent in
2004. Along with manufacturing, which declined by 8.5 percent, and
tourism, which is stuck in a deep trough, the poor performance of the
agricultural sector underpinned the overall poor performance of the
economy. Only mining, projected to grow by 11.6 percent this year,
bucked the trend and the sector looks well poised to register further growth
in 2005. Capacity utilisation, which had slumped to a startling 30
percent, recovered marginally during the year to rise to between 50 percent
and 60 percent, but remains a dent on manufacturing, which should decline by
a further five percent in 2005. To compound the situation, the
country's balance of payments position worsened in 2004, from a deficit of
US$335 million in 2003 to US$523 million in the current year.
Despite announcing an inflation target of between 30 percent and 50 percent
by the end of 2005, on the back of huge inflation decelerating successes
registered this year, the government projects total expenditure for 2005 to
top $27.5 trillion, an above-inflation increase of 215 percent over the
figure for the 2004 fiscal year. Of this, $22.5 trillion (or 81.8
percent) is earmarked for recurrent expenditure, while only $5 trillion
would be channelled towards capital expenditure. With the revenue
target for 2005 being set at $23 trillion, the ensuing budget deficit of
$4.5 trillion (or five percent of GDP) will be financed from domestic
sources, mainly domestic bank credit, in keeping with the trend since
Zimbabwe slipped into its not-so-splendid isolation. This year, 99.9
percent of the required resources to finance the gap were sourced from
within. According to Murerwa, only $11.3 million was from foreign
sources. Among the positives that Murerwa enumerated last week was the
near balanced budget, achieved at a huge cost to workers - income tax
revenues amounted to $2.1 trillion, more than the budgeted $1.63 trillion
and, more importantly, at the expense of mounting obligations on external
arrears as well as virtually non-existent social services. Next
year presents a multiplicity of challenges for those driving economic
policy. Inflation, which has declined from a peak of 622.8 percent in
January to 209 percent in October, has to continue decelerating to the 30
pecent-50 percent target set for December 2005 and single-digit figures
thereafter, in the face of rising public sector financing
requirements. Agriculture, upon which chances of positive economic
growth largely depend, has to be resuscitated through conscientious
planning, capacity building and utilisation. De-industrialisation
has to be arrested through targeted policy interventions and export
promotion, while infrastructural repair and development also has to assume
greater urgency. Murerwa also spoke of confidence building in order to
spur investment and savings, key economic indices that continue to make
depressing reading. Overall savings were 1.7 percent of GDP in 2004,
while investment has remained in the nether levels of five percent of
GDP. Murerwa said the government hoped to spur savings by reducing "the
gap between lending rates and deposit rates so as to promote
savings". Analysts, however, note that savers are more motivated by
rates of return than by the gap between lending and deposit rates.
Murerwa also came up with another income tax review under which the tax-free
threshold for personal income was raised from $750 000 per month to $1
million with effect from January 1 2005. The tax bands will now end at $108
million per annum or $9 million per month, above which a 40 percent tax,
down from the previous 45 percent, will be levied. The upward
adjustment of the tax-free threshold, as well as the tax bands, has the
effect of releasing $5 trillion to taxpayers, a move which will see an
upsurge in local aggregate demand for goods and services in the short
term. "At least that is one of the positives of this budget," said an
analyst, "Money is better used in the people's hands than by the
government." Murerwa also reviewed the tax-free portion of bonus,
from $100 000 to $5 million, with effect from November 1 2004.
Total expenditure to top $27.5 trillion, made
up of $23 trillion total revenue and a budget deficit of $4.5 trillion (five
percent of gross domestic product).
proposed to amount to $22.5 trillion (81.8 percent of total expenditure).
Capital expenditure - $5 trillion (18.2 percent of total
expenditure). lPublic service wage bill- $11.49 trillion (51 percent of
recurrent expenditure). lEducation ministries to receive $6.8
trillion in the 2005 fiscal year. Health - $2.3 trillion; defence and
security - $2.3 trillion; agriculture - $688 billion; parliamentary
elections - $483.5 billion. lPersonal income tax threshold raised from
$750 per month to $1 million per month. lTax bands now end at $9
million per month, above which income tax has been educed from 45 percent to
40 percent. lTax-free portion of bonus increased from $100 000 to $5
million with effect from November 1 2004. lTax credits for the
elderly and disabled increased from $120 000 to $500 000 with effect from
January 1 2005. lCarbon tax goes up by 400 percent in January.
lTax-free pension contribution increased from $720 000 to $1.44 million per
annum from January. lTax-free retrenchment/ severance package increased
to a minimum of $300 million or one-third of the severance package provided
the package does not exceed $1.2 billion. lCorporate tax payments
to be made current through a phased approach over three years, starting in
2005. lWithholding capital gains tax increased from 10 to 15 percent in
January. lTen percent surtax on most imported goods to be
removed lWithholding tax of 20 percent on commission earned by real
estate and insurance agents. lExcise duty on carbonated soft drinks
removed. lDuty on imported textiles and footwear: clothing and textiles
- 60 percent + $100 000/kg; second-hand clothing - 60 percent + $200 000/kg;
and footwear - 60 percent + $30 000/ pair.
within the ruling party have taken an irreversibly ugly turn, with President
Robert Mugabe -who has thus far managed to maintain a delicate balancing act
- all but showing his open hand in the ZANU PF succession
The 80-year-old leader, widely expected to pass on the
baton stick in 2008, had hardly shown his hand in the past, happily
maintaining a heavy hint of mystery within ZANU PF succession politics as
his close lieutenants fought for attention and prominence. But that
all appears to be the distant past now, following the past fortnight's
events. In the run-up to the controversy ridden nomination process
leading up to the congress currently underway in the capital, the veteran
politician broke his silence on the intense jockeying for ZANU PF posts and
shocked neutrals and interested parties alike by virtually dictating how
events would unfold, crucially determining, as had been agreed by its
politburo, that a woman should fill the vacant vice-president's post in the
party. An urgent and ultimately fateful politburo meeting called by
President Mugabe two weeks ago did the trick by turning the tables against
Emmerson Mnangagwa, the ZANU PF secretary for administration, who had
reportedly roped in seven provinces to endorse his nomination for the hotly
contested post. After the party's supreme decision-making body had
thrown its weight behind a female candidate for the post left vacant
following the death of Simon Muzenda last year, Mnangagwa, once touted as
President Mugabe's trusted lieutenant, had virtually lost out. But
it is turning out that Mnangagwa's loss might just be the beginning of worse
inhouse squabbles that could split ZANU PF along ethnic lines.
Daggers had literally been drawn out ahead of the ZANU PF congress as two
distinct feuding camps eyeing the slot, seen as a launchpad to the holy
grail - President Mugabe's post. The two camps - one led by retired
army general Solomon Mujuru; backed by former intelligence officer and
Mashonaland East party provincial chairman Ray Kaukonde and the other
marshalled by Mnangagwa, with the help of Midlands provincial chairman -
July Moyo - threaten to split ZANU PF right through the middle. To
date, six provincial chairmen who stood accused of attending an unsanctioned
meeting in Tsholotsho ahead of the nominations have been suspended for six
months, while Jonathan Moyo, who organised the meeting, escaped with a
reprimand. The suspended provincial party chiefs are July Moyo
(Midlands), Mark Madiro (Manicaland), Daniel Shumba (Masvingo), Jacob
Mudenda (Matabeleland North), Themba Ncube (Bulawayo) and Lloyd Siyoka
(Matabeleland South). War veterans leader Jabulani Sibanda was also
suspended for four years. Analysts said the issue of gender, used to
spring up Mujuru into the presidency, meant that more candidates for the
high-pressure job would now be kept at bay for the next three years when the
Zimbabwean leader's current term of office expires. They said events
following Mujuru's nomination marked the beginning of a major crisis within
ZANU PF. Male candidates who lost out feel hard done by as they feel
that President Mugabe swayed the vote in favour of Mujuru, who, at 25,
became the youngest minister in Mugabe's Cabinet. She also made history by
becoming the first female minister to act as the Defence Minister.
Alois Masepe, a former opposition politician, said the latest development
could turn out to be a carbon copy of what happened in 1987 when the late
ZANU PF legal supremo Eddison Zvobgo amended the ruling party constitution
by abolishing the powerful post of secretary-general, then held by Edgar
Tekere. Tekere went on to form the Zimbabwe Unity Movement in
protest. Masepe said the presidium has lost the ethnic balance it
had historically, which might pose problems. President Mugabe has
hit out at "divisive" leaders who he claimed were using money from "white
capitalists" to buy votes in the nomination. The message was targeted
at senior ZANU PF politicians and provincial leaders who openly defied his
directive to nominate a woman candidate for the vice-presidency.
Other analysts, however, argue that President Mugabe may still be content on
shielding his choice of a successor from marauding political vultures who
may want to destroy the incumbent before 2008. In adopting the gender
resolution, they said, ZANU PF has re-written its own constitution and could
do the same should President Mugabe decide on picking someone outside the
John Breden-kamp this week denied any involvement in the ongoing ZANU PF
succession gridlock, describing the allegations as "totally
Bredenkamp, who has in the past been linked to prominent
government and ruling party officials, refuted allegations that he had lent
an aircraft to a ZANU PF faction that organised a fateful meeting in
Tsholotsho two weeks ago, presumably to drum up support for Emmerson
Mnangagwa, who was eyeing the vacant party vice-president's post that has
since been filled by Joyce Mujuru. "The aircraft that I am alleged
to have 'lent' to a political party was not in Zimbabwe at the time it was
purported to have been used - it was being serviced in South Africa. It is
my understanding that the aircraft in question was a hired, twin-engine
propeller driven aeroplane. "Insofar as the allegations that I am
backing Mr Mnangagwa's political campaign are concerned, I reiterate that I
am not involved in any political activities and have not made funds
available to any political party or individuals within any party, either as
loans or donations or on any other basis," Bredenkamp said.
SINCE independence in 1980 Zimbabwe,
the erstwhile regional bread-basket, has come up with no less than six major
economic reform programmes including the International Monetary
Fund-sanctioned Economic Structural Adjustment Programme
This translates to an average of an economic reform
programme every four years, which certainly should be a world
All of these admittedly well-thought out blue-prints were
at best tucked in piece-meal to the detriment of the fragile economy,
betraying the government's reluctance to go all the way and see these
policies to their full expression. At worst, they just remained nothing more
than paper reforms - they never took that giant leap to
It is not difficult to see why this has been so.
First of all, these proposed economic reform programmes, some of which we
must admit were quite clear on how the economy could be revived, underlined
the fact that Zimbabweans are strong on ideas but short on action. Little
wonder, therefore, that despite the proposed economic austerity measures,
Zimbabwe was on the road to nowhere other than an unprecedented economic
blizzard which subsequently ran into a wall of negative investor
Secondly, despite accepting that there was need to put a
fresh heart into the sickly economy, the influence-peddling politicians, who
usually object to ideas only when other people have them, had not mustered
the political will to implement economic reforms probably for fear of some
imagined political backlash because the devil with economic austerity
measures is usually in the implementation process. But we feel that this
should have been the least of the government's concerns because any tough
choices made, especially tough belt-tightening economic measures, are bound
to spark off criticism. However, as has been said before, criticism that
comes mainly as a result of an unwavering desire to achieve greater good
should be a leader's greatest test of maturity, conviction and commitment to
his vision. In fact it goes without saying that an economic stimulus
package, even with the hardships and lack of comforts that people will have
to endure under efforts to turn around the economy, can amount to reasonably
enlightened self-interest for the politicians.
Lastly but most
importantly, the failure to implement the economic reforms underlines the
fact that no plan is worth the paper it is written on unless it starts you
doing something. It was Stephen Brennan who observed, ". . . our goals can
only be reached through a vehicle of a plan, in which we may fervently
believe, and upon which we must vigorously act. There is no other route to
success . . ." And so should the country's leadership.
sincerely hope that the Zimbabwean leadership has learnt from their costly
stop-go implementation of economic reforms. They have to be more decisive
than before in their efforts to put a fresh heart into the economy whose
resilience is legendary but had since started caving in. This is moreso now
when signs of modest recovery are beginning to emerge. The solution does not
lie in holding a series of expensive and meaningless crisis meetings which
are nothing but just talk-shops about how to reverse the once robust
economy's flagging fortunes in as much as it would be folly to discuss fire
prevention when the house is already engulfed in a ball of
This approach, which has been emblematic of everything
wrong with the way the situation has been handled so far, has not worked in
the past and will not work in the future. The earlier we, as a nation,
realise this the better. It is now time to bite the bullet. The government
should follow through on all the crisis meetings held so far at which enough
must have been said about what is wrong with the economy and make good its
pledge to decisively act on key issues.
The sad story of the
non-performing state-owned enterprises provides a good example of the costly
indecisiveness we are talking about. The long-mooted parastatal reform where
privatisations, which the government has announced it has now abandoned,
were mostly left half-done. We know that the government has to proceed
carefully with the privatisations because of the likely impact of this on
local economic pride and promise as well as the fear of selling off the gold
mine and keeping the coal mine. This is moreso given that there are still
unanswered questions as regards the privatisation jigsaw puzzle especially
in connection with its welfare effects. This is because in some countries,
divestiture has been a positive sum game while in others it has been
negative. As a result, many questions have swirled around
In Zimbabwe, the government was understandably
concerned more with three issues: that the privatisation should feed through
into economic empowerment for the historically marginalised blacks, that it
eased pressure on the fiscus and that there was a guarantee that even if the
spin-off of state enterprises was swamped by foreign investors, the country
would not be reduced to a branch office economy in the event that the
privatised companies decided to move their headquarters
Be that as it may, we feel that, in Zimbabwe, the goal
posts have been moved too far, too many times as regards the privatisation
of parastatals, which have continued to pressure public finances. Initially
there was talk of full-scale privatisation. Then there was
commercialisation. And lastly there was heightened speculation about the
likelihood of corporatisation - a Chinese halfway house between rigid state
control and private ownership. And before anyone could say Ziscosteel, there
has been yet another volte-face. The government is no longer going to
dispose of the under-performing state assets! It is such policy
indecisiveness that has been a drag on the economy.
government is sworn to end the privatisations it claims were ill-conceived,
we are for partial private ownership, especially foreign, for the
technological know-how that will come with it. The exercise should start
with big utilities such as ZESA, NRZ, AirZim, ZISCO etc. This will
ultimately have a much more profound impact on the overall
While in the past the primary motive had been raising
revenue, this time around liberalisation, deregulation and
efficiency-enhancement should be the key goals. Admittedly funds raised from
such an exercise can help stabilise the economy. But the treasury should not
receive any revenue from the sell-off. In fact, any hard currency raised
should be retained with the respective companies where it is needed most as
an equity infusion as the government shareholding gets diluted. Government
can get the money it requires for infrastructural development and social
services from taxes.
fuel importers have lashed out at their established counterparts for
allegedly refusing to lease out idle fuel stations scattered
Representatives of the Indigenous Petroleum Group of
Zimbabwe (IPGZ) said they were disappointed with the lack of cooperation
from major fuel procurers. The IPGZ has over 60 representatives.
Rodwin Sibanda, one of the IPGZ members, said the indigenous importers could
not afford to construct new fuel stations and had approached members of
Petroleum Marketers Association of Zimbabwe (PMAZ), representing the more
established players, for assistance. "In our midst there is a
representative of one big fuel company who refused to lease me a fuel
station in Matabeleland, which has been lying idle for the past two years.
They denied me access and I am therefore calling on them again to look into
my proposal. "We need some place where we can safely keep our fuel as
we do not have a place where we can stock this crucial and flammable
commodity," said Sibanda. He was speaking at a fuel procurers' forum held in
Harare recently. PMAZ chairman Masimba Kambarami said while the IPGZ's
request could be looked at, there were no idle fuel stations. Those that
appeared to be idle, he said, usually got busy when the commodity was
available in abundance.
Electri-city Supply Authority (ZESA) has finally bowed to pressure and
agreed to settle a $62 billion debt owed to the Wankie Colliery
The two energy firms, both controlled by the
government, have been haggling over the debt, which ZESA had sensationally
disowned citing pricing issues. The spat, which erupted in October,
saw ZESA threatening Wankie with legal action for alleged slander over press
reports on the multi-billion-dollar debt emanating from price adjustments on
coal supplied to the Zimbabwe Power Company, a ZESA subsidiary. The
price of coal was adjusted from $37 000 to $60 000 per tonne, widely
considered a more realistic level. Sources indicated that, in an
about-turn, ZESA recently paid $40 billion to Wankie following the apparent
collapse of an arbitration process. Wankie marketing and public
relations manager John Nkala confirmed the development. "That is
true . . . that ZESA has paid $40 billion," said Nkala. Zesa corporate
affairs director Obert Nyatanga also confirmed the payment.
A TWENTY-EIGHT percent
growth in agriculture projected by the government for 2005 is too
optimistic, analysts say.
Presenting next year's national budget
last week, acting Finance and Economic Development Minister Herbert Murerwa
said Zimbabwe's economic decline in the past five years had been halted and
that 2005 would see the economy return to positive growth of between 3.5 and
five percent, based on growth in agriculture. The farming sector
has failed to shrug off the effects of the government's chaotic land
reforms, which started in 2000, and the economy has, as a result, shrunk by
30 percent in the five years following the onset of the upheavals.
"Much of the projected growth is assumed to come from agriculture, which is
estimated to grow by a massive 28 percent in 2005. Yet growth in agriculture
is highly dependent on exogenous factors, such as the weather, which the
country has no control over. "If, for example, Zimbabwe receives below
normal rainfall this season, the projected growth will not be
achieved. "The minister is also highly optimistic with respect to
tourism. Statistics show that the number of tourist arrivals declined by 29
percent for the nine months to September 2004 relative to the corresponding
period of 2003," banking group Finhold said in its analysis of the 2005
budget. Zimbabwe has been grappling with a severe economic crisis,
characterised by an inflation rate of more than 200 percent, unemployment of
around 70 percent and biting poverty affecting close to 80 percent of its 12
million population. "Agriculture, which contributes about 16
percent of total gross domestic product (GDP) and is the backbone of the
economy, is expected to recover in 2005 after registering a relatively
marginal decline of 3.3 percent this year," Murerwa said.
International Mone-tary Fund (IMF) estimates suggest that the Zimbabwean
economy has declined by 9.3 percent during the past year. Murerwa said
gains in the agricultural sector would be bolstered by an improvement in
horticultural exports. Unveiling the $27.5 trillion budget, Murerwa
said the mining sector, whose lacklustre performance over the past years has
been buoyed by a surge in platinum outpu,t had witnessed a 11.6 percent
growth. Observers attribute Zimbabwe's economic meltdown to
inappropriate macroeconomic policies and a poor governance record, including
a general breakdown of law and order, which they say have undermined
investor confidence. Agriculture, which employed 26 percent of
Zimbabwe's workforce prior to the government's controversial land
redistribution, contributing 20 percent to GDP, now contributes 16
percent. Analysts say the government's continued seizure of commercial
farmland is scaring away investment from the agricultural sector.
They disagreed with Murerwa's projected growth rates, saying athe country's
economic crisis continued to deepen. "Disruption in agricultural
activity, coupled with drought, caused a sharp decline in output. This has
seriously affected operations in the sector and the agri-based manufacturing
sector," said one analyst. The new farmers resettled by the government
on former commercial white farmland have faced a number of
problems. Chief among these have been a severe shortage of inputs,
spiralling overheads, as well as lack of technical expertise and
finance. The analysts accused the agricluture ministry of not doing
enough to address the problems affecting the sector. "The sector
has been on a free fall for the past four years and to just turn it around
is not achievable," said an economist. Independent estimates suggest
that the sector has shrunk by more than 50 percent. Tobacco,
Zimba-bwe's single largest foreign currency earner at its peak, has slid
year-on-year to 160 million kilogrammes in 2001/2, 85 million kgs in 2002/3
to 65 million kgs in 2003/4. Horticultural exports, which contributed
5.8 percent of total agricultural output and about eight percent to the
sector's foreign currency earnings, declined by 22.53 percent in
2003. The horticultural industry had registered growth rates of 15
percent annually on average, 10 years before 1999. The sector's
problems are being aggravated by lack of producers. Players in the sector
said tractor fleet has shrunk by over 22.2 percent over the past four years,
posing a threat to the country's mechanisation programme. The
industry now requires 45 000 tractors, with a single tractor costing about
US$20 000. "Financing and lack of expertise are the major problems,"
said an agro-economist with the commercial farmers union (CFU).
"These people are not farmers. They got into farming by virtue of land
reforms. These people are not farmers and hence lack commitment," said the
agro-economist. The economist said that the forecasted 28 percent
growth from the dip of the last four years would hardly be noticed adding
that well-connected citizens ahead of the deserving farmers were snatching
available funding. "The new farmers are only getting operational
finances, they are not getting money to mechanise and equip themselves for
commercial farming," said the agro-economist.
MUGABE EXIT NOT FOR DISCUSSION AS LONG AS HE LIVES Thur 2
December 2004 HARARE - Zimbabwe's ruling ZANU PF party will not discuss
President Robert Mugabe's retirement because "he is still alive" its
chairman, John Nkomo, told the Press in Harare yesterday.
Responding to queries by journalists whether the party's key congress
underway in Harare this week would discuss an exit plan for Mugabe who has
been at the helm of the party for nearly 30 years, Nkomo said: "Why should
his exit be on the agenda, (of the congress) when the President is still fit
and raring to go? The issue of his exit does not arise at all. He is still
Nkomo, who was briefing the Press, straight out of a
meeting of ZANU PF's central committee that was deciding on the final agenda
of the congress, added: "His (President Mugabe) exit does not arise at this
congress at all.
"Why do you want him to reveal his exit plan
when people still want him to continue leading them? It is not for this
congress but it is up to him to put it up. At the moment it is not on the
agenda for this congress."
Mugabe - the only ruler Zimbabweans have
ever known - has never said when he plans to quit politics but he has
indicated that he might leave office at the expiry of his current term in
2008. He will be 84.
The disclosure by Mugabe that he might leave
office in three years' time triggered vicious jockeying by his lieutenants
to take over his job with Water Resources Minister, Joyce Mujuru, emerging
as the frontrunner to become ZANU PF and possibly Zimbabwe's first ever
Mujuru is expected to be elected ZANU PF's co-vice
president at the congress. The party's other vice president Joseph Msika is
expected to retire together with Mugabe.
Nkomo said the
congress will focus on the government's chaotic land reforms and on measures
to rescue Zimbabwe's crumbling economy.
Mozambican President, Joachim Chissano, 65, is expected here today to bid
farewell to Mugabe and his ruling ZANU PF party at their ongoing
Chissano, who is 15 years younger than Mugabe, steps down
after serving three five-year terms as President.
scheduled to address the ZANU PF congress tomorrow.
departure from the helm follows that of Malawi's former President Bakili
Muluzi in May this year and that of Namibia's founding President Sam Nujoma,
who gave up power last month.
South Africa's President Thabo Mbeki
and Botswana's Festus Mogae are firmly on their way out of public office as
they are serving their last terms. - ZimOnline
Regional labour unions throw weight behind COSATU bid to close
borders Thur 2 December 2004 HARARE - Labour unions in Zambia and
Botswana have agreed to close border posts between their countries and
Zimbabwe as part of a blockade called by the Congress of South African Trade
Unions (COSATU) to protest human rights violations by President Robert
Mugabe and his government, ZimOnline learnt yesterday.
in Lesotho, Swaziland and Malawi which do not share borders with Zimbabwe
have also agreed to give moral support for the blockade that COSATU has
indicated might take place this month, labour movement sources said
It was not possible to confirm with union leaders in the
various southern African nations but Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions
acting secretary general Collin Gwiyo said: "Regional labour organisations
will support whatever action they (COSATU) will take."
fact-finding mission to Zimbabwe by COSATU was unceremoniously bundled out
of the country by the government which said the mission was a challenge to
Zimbabwe's sovereignty. - ZimOnline
Banned satirical play moves on to Botswana Thur 2 December
2004 GABORONE - A Zimbabwean theatre production banned by censorship
authorities in that country will premiere in Botswana today.
The play entitled, Super Patriots and Morons, was banned by the government's
Censorship Board which felt it mocked President Robert Mugabe and his
The play, written by Zimbabwean playwright Raisedon
Baya and produced by Rooftop Promotions depicts an unnamed man in an unnamed
African country that is facing severe economic problems. It showed in Harare
only once last year before the government banned it.
spokesperson Shephard Mutamba said: "For some reasons the government claims
the play is directed at them. The play does not name any names. It is about
an African man in an unnamed country that is facing economic
Mugabe and his ruling ZANU PF party are grappling their
worst economic and political crisis since taking power at independence in
1980. The government blames Britain and other Western countries opposed to
its land reforms of sabotaging the economy to incite citizens against it but
critics and many ordinary Zimbabweans hold Mugabe squarely to blame for
the meltdown of what was once one of Africa's most vibrant
Producer of the play, Daves Guzha said: "(The play)
laughs at our socio-political follies in a humorous way. Yet humour can be
misunderstood. In Zimbabwe, the play fell victim to such misunderstanding.
Because the play is not ordinary art, it will weather the storm in the face
of draconian laws that stifle free expression." - ZimOnline
Mugabe bans charity feeding 90,000 children By Peta
Thornycroft in Harare (Filed: 02/12/2004)
Ninety thousand hungry
Zimbabwean children have lost the only daily meal they could count on
because President Robert Mugabe's regime has forced an aid agency to leave
Switzerland's Medair was feeding primary school children in
two of Zimbabwe's poorest districts but the authorities refused to renew
work permits for international staff.
The regime stopped Medair from
distributing any food four months ago and refused to register it as an
approved non-governmental organisation. "We found ourselves prevented from
distributing and so the food has sat deteriorating in the warehouses since
August," said Mark Screeton, a Medair spokesman at its Geneva
"It's been so frustrating - not being free to work - and
now we leave, knowing the increasing food insecurity that faces those
primary school children and their families."
Medair began working in
Zimbabwe two years ago and gave a meal of enriched porridge to children in
The United Nations World Food Programme, which has fed
millions of Zimbabweans since 2001, described Medair as one of its best
distribution partners. "They were efficient and reliable," said a UN
spokesman. "What more could we want?"
The government in Zimbabwe
regards foreign aid agencies with deep suspicion and is quietly disrupting
their work. Yesterday a senior WFP official, who declined to be named, said:
"There is no implementing partner available to replace Medair and we are
nervous that the few which may come forward to help will also be forced to
leave Zimbabwe before the next harvest."
Last month the Famine Early
Warning System Network predicted that more than two million rural households
would need food supplies by this month.
Players in line for top-level tour
talks From Richard Hobson
the most senior figure in world cricket as president of the ICC, wants to
meet players in the England party before the weekend to canvass opinion
about the tour to Zimbabwe. He watched England win the second one-day
international in Harare by 161 runs yesterday and intends to speak to
Michael Vaughan and his players on all aspects of the trip. "I
hope to see them over the next two days because it is very important to hear
their views," Mani said. "I want to know what they think about the level of
cricket in Zimbabwe and their experiences in the country so far." The squad
are scheduled to fly to Bulawayo this evening for back-to-back
internationals at the weekend.
It is unusual for
players to receive a request of this kind from such a high-ranking official,
but the very presence of Mani in Harare and Bulawayo confirms that this is
not a normal trip. Mani said that he planned to attend the matches even
before the dispute over media accreditation that threatened to scupper the
series last week. "I just felt that there were some concerns about England
being here and I wanted to come here to see it for myself," he
As a resident of St John's Wood, northwest London,Mani
knows the strength of feeling against the tour in England. Equally, he
believes that the standing of the ECB in the circles of cricket power will
improve because the commitment has been fulfilled.
defended David Morgan, the ECB chairman, against criticism that he should
have pulled out on Wednesday last week, when nine news organisations were
initially refused entry to cover the matches by the Zimbabwe Government.
"David acted in good faith and character all along," Mani said. "He has
gained a lot of respect in the ICC for the way he handled this
"I could see that England were caught between a rock
and a hard place, but he has been absolutely superb, honest and totally
upfront with people. He has had to deal with a lot of domestic pressures,
which is understandable because of the unique situation between England and
Zimbabwe. The issue was not going to die down."
last week, before the ban was lifted, that the ICC would be sympathetic if
the ECB decided to withdraw. That appeared to offer a get-out, free from the
threat of fines or a suspension. However, he denied that he raised the issue
of suspension last week during a ring-round of the ICC executive
"Talk of suspension was never on the radar during
those discussions," Mani said. "I felt terribly disappointed at that point
because the tour was hugely important for the development of cricket in
Zimbabwe. The country has enough problems without adding another. The game
would have gone backwards and that was my concern, not punishing
"I made those calls to keep people abreast of the
situation. The general feedback was a very strong feeling that you cannot
exclude the media. You don't always like the media, but you accept they are
important stakeholders in the game. So when the journalists were not
accredited, we could hardly turn away and say, 'That's fine.'
Whether the ICC would have carried out the threat of
suspension had the ECB pulled out on moral grounds will be one of the great
unknowns. John Carr, the ECB's director of cricket operations, said recently
that while the risk may have been relatively small, the possible
consequences were so severe that the ECB could not take that
Mani said yesterday that suspension was "a bit
extreme", but he added: "I think the ECB was right to protect its interests.
The threat of suspension was a possibility, even if it was only a 1 per cent
or 5 per cent or 10 per cent possibility. It could have been a terrible
penalty, which would have hurt badly."
Six days into the
tour, the players came face-to-face with demonstrators for the first time
yesterday when three young men with placards stood outside the team hotel as
they boarded the bus taking them to the ground. They were protesting against
the imprisonment of Roy Bennett, a politician.
Bevan, the chief executive of the Professional Cricketers' Association, who
is with the team, said: "The protesters were ushered away by hotel security
and we did not consider it a threat." The match itself passed without
incident, as did the first, on Sunday, in what is now a four-match
Zimbabwe opposition leader may take part in
elections By David White and James Lamont Published: December 2 2004 02:00
| Last updated: December 2 2004 02:00
Morgan Tsvangirai, Zimbabwe
opposition leader, hinted yesterday that his party might change its stance
and take part in parliamentary elections next March if Robert Mugabe's
regime called a halt to political violence.
His Movement for
Democratic Change party suspended participation in all elections earlier
this year until the government met conditions for free and fair ballots. He
said party members would take a decision in the next three weeks on whether
to stand in the March elections, the first national poll since Mr Mugabe's
re-election as president in 2002 in a contest condemned by most
international observers for intimidation and vote-rigging.
interview with the Financial Times in London, Mr Tsvangirai said violence
against opponents of the regime was "the really critical issue". The MDC had
other demands including an impartial electoral commission and free media
access. But Mr Tsvangirai accepted "we may not get 100 per cent". If the MDC
stayed out of this contest, it would have to wait until the next
presidential ballot in 2008.
Without seeking to prejudge the
decision, he added: "My gut feeling is that the majority of Zimbabweans want
to go in [to the elections], want to participate regardless of the
Mr Tsvangirai, one of Africa's best known opposition
figures, is due to return to Zimbabwe today after a tour of African and
European capitals, the first foreign trip he has been allowed to take for
two and a half years. He regained his passport when he was acquitted last
month after a long-running trial on charges of plotting to have Mr Mugabe
assassinated. He still faces separate treason charges for attempting to
overthrow the government in mass protests called last year.
Tsvangirai called on European governments to support polling guidelines
agreed in August by leaders of the 14-member Southern African Development
Community, to assist with the training and deployment of SADC election
monitors and to raise the profile of the Zimbabwe issue in the United
Nations. "There is no reason why the Zimbabwean crisis should not be
internationalised," he said.
He was careful to avoid criticising the
"quiet diplomacy" approach of South Africa's President Thabo Mbeki, who has
sought unsuccessfully to promote a negotiated outcome to Zimbabwe's
political and economic crisis.
If the MDC fought the next election and
won a parliamentary majority, it would have to negotiate a transition deal
with Mr Mugabe.
The party had contacts with members of the ruling Zanu-PF
party who favoured change, he said. "We talk to them, but they all plead
helplessness," he said. "Of course, they are just cowards, that's all."
Mbeki displays the anger of a man on his way out of
power December 2, 2004
By Barney Mthombothi
President Thabo Mbeki in responding to Archbishop Desmond Tutu's
well-reasoned address, has eloquently demonstrated the veracity of Tutu's
charge - that those who dare to raise their heads above the parapet get
cruelly clobbered and that in the new South Africa, it pays to grovel. Tutu
was well and truly clobbered.
Tutu has now resorted to irony.
But he did not need a rejoinder.
In defending himself, Mbeki has
made the case for the prosecution. Mbeki's was not even a response. It was a
denunciation, smouldering with anger and contempt.
literally called Tutu a liar . That is no way to talk to an Archbishop, not
one with Tutu's pedigree. Mbeki will have offended a lot of people by the
manner of his response. This is a very religious country. You do not refer
to an archbishop as a liar. People look up to them for moral
The irony is there is nothing new in what Tutu
said. These things have been mentioned and written about before. The
difference this time is the person who said it and the
Tutu was giving a Nelson Mandela lecture, two Nobel
laureates - a formidable combination - both icons with something of a
Mbeki will do well to have a word with PW Botha.
He tried - and failed miserably - to rein in Tutu. He was not called the
troublesome bishop for nothing.
It should also be said that the
reason why Mbeki is now lording it over the Union Buildings is partly
because people like Tutu spoke out at a time when discretion would have been
the better part of valour .
Tutu spoke like a statesman, pointing
out realities without fear or favour. Mbeki spoke like the politician that
he is, spinning and leaving out inconvenient facts that did not accord with
his own reality.
Reading Mbeki's response, one is reminded of a
line from one of Shakespeare's characters: "The lady doth protest too much
But it is good this debate is taking place, even if they
seem to be talking past each other.
We should not be too hard
on Mbeki. He is under pressure. He is struggling to hold together a
fractious party. Sometimes one wonders whether he speaks for his party, as
the party takes a position contrary to his.
It happened with his
spat with Tony Trahar. This time his party also seems eager to make peace,
contrary to the stance he has taken.
But Mbeki is presiding over a
party that is riven with divisions - divisions that have been so
dramatically exposed by the Scorpions' investigation into Jacob Zuma's messy
affairs on the side.
For the first time, Cosatu is openly talking
about splitting away from the tripartite alliance. That has always been an
improbable marriage of convenience. Time and reality will ultimately rend it
But what is hidden from public view is the fact that Mbeki
is slowly losing his grip on his party, and the alliance. He has hardly
begun his second term, and talk within the movement and the country at large
is not about how his agenda will be fulfilled, but about who his successor
will be. He is already yesterday's man.
He may not yet be
history, but people are already factoring him out of their future
Zuma is campaigning unashamedly, using State
resources as he criss-crosses the country consolidating his position as
Schabir Shaik notwithstanding, Zuma is in pole
Those who want to succeed Mbeki as party leader will have
to take him out first - that is if Shaik does not do it for
The divisions may not point to Mbeki's weakness, but to
Zuma's fight for survival. For Zuma, it's either he succeeds Mbeki or it's
bust. And the wilderness is just not an option.
within the ANC has never been this bad, even in the dark days of exile. The
leadership has always been able to impose control. But the new ingredient in
the mix is political power. We may be 10 years into democracy, but that
still feels like virgin territory.
There is no script on how to
navigate its realities, especially human frailties of people who for long
have been denied the good things in life and who suddenly find themselves
with the power to open and shut doors.
The irony of Mbeki's
inability to deal with divisions in the family is that globally he is
unchallenged as the spokesman of the underdogs of this world - despite Aids
and Zimbabwe - and as the patient peacemaker in Africa. Will he suffer the
same fate as JC Smuts, lauded abroad and rejected at home?
Zimbabwe may be feeding into his perceived weakness at home. Why, for
instance, should Zwelinzima Vavi take him seriously when Robert Mugabe - who
after all cannot survive even for a day without Mbeki's protective embrace -
disregards him almost with disdain?
Cosatu's stillborn delegation
to Zimbabwe was a warning to Mbeki that his whispering diplomacy is a
But reading Mbeki's text one is struck by the anger of his
language. It is the language of the street. Its tone, its timbre, comes
across as that of an angry demonstrator hollering at some illusive
But it sometimes seems as though those who spent long years
in exile have yet to deal with their anger and often find it difficult to
accept a contrary view.
Robust and open debate in exile could
only be allowed up to a point, for obvious reasons.
dissidents inside the country, exiles did not have the pleasure or
satisfaction to tell the oppressor to his face or on home soil what they
thought of him or his machinations. They therefore missed out on the
opportunity to work the anger out of their system. They came back home, got
into power and found themselves in the dogbox lambasted like the old
The anger lingers on. They are still caught
up in the language of Radio Freedom, where cheering your side and hurling
insults at the enemy sometimes passed for political discourse or commentary.
To them, dissent is not always the hallmark of democracy, but a sign of
We have to appreciate the fact that we have been
propelled to where we are right now via different trajectories. The fact
that people are members of the same organisation does not mean they share
the same values in every respect. They are products of different traditions,
different cultures. In a sense the divisions within the ANC and the alliance
are as a result of a collision of these cultures.
members understand the wisdom of Tutu's wordsand will disagree with their
president. They share Tutu's values because they marched with him against
mass removals; they were with him when he threw himself into an angry mob in
Duduza to prevent the necklacing of man suspected of being a police
informer. They were with him when he was vilified and hounded by the
How the wheel has turned! Whatever mud is flung at
him won't stick because the people know better about this man. Tutu's words
are worth repeating:
"We want our society to be characterised
by vigorous debate and dissent where to disagree is part and parcel of a
vibrant community, that we should play the ball not the person and not think
that those who disagree, who express dissent, are disloyal or
It is quite a mouthful, but that should do as our