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Police after Mujuru?

FinGaz

Clemence Manyukwe Staff Reporter
Retired Army chief sucked into Mushore saga
IN a fresh twist to the suspended Attorney-General (AG) Sobusa Gula-Ndebele
saga, police have widened their investigations and are weighing the
possibility of pressing obstruction of justice charges against Retired Army
General Solomon Mujuru for allegedly shielding banker, James Mushore.

The Financial Gazette established this week that the police might level
allegations against Mujuru for using his political clout to shield Mushore
from the law, in a development widely seen as part of the intense factional
fighting within ZANU-PF in the battle to succeed President Robert Mugabe
when he leaves office.
Whereas previously the police levelled allegations of misconduct against
Gula-Ndebele over the former NMBZ Holdings deputy managing director, it has
been established that the investigating officer, Alison Nyamupaguma, now
claims that at one point the AG and Mujuru met Mushore together and that the
retired army general had vowed that the astute banker would not be
prosecuted even though he was on the police wanted list.
Mushore, on bail on allegations of flouting exchange control regulations and
breaching immigration laws, was arrested in October last year after spending
close to three years in self-imposed exile in the United Kingdom.
In November, police quizzed Gula-Ndebele for meeting the former NMBZ
director, and a close associate of Mujuru, who was on a police wanted list,
at a Harare restaurant.
President Mugabe subsequently suspended the AG in December to pave the way
for an inquiry chaired by High Court judge Justice Chinembiri Bhunu.
Justice Bharat Patel has since been appointed acting AG.
Nyamupaguma, who is currently working on other cases in Bulawayo, is
expected to testify against Gula-Ndebele during a probe by a tribunal led by
Justice Bhunu, which began on Monday.
Sources said chief law officers Joseph Jagada and Florence Ziyambi and the
new deputy AG in charge of legal drafting, Nelson Dias, among others, would
be called as witnesses.
Gula-Ndebele has acknowledged meeting Mushore during lunch, but said this
was purely “by chance” and the meeting did not last more than a minute.
He also denied giving Mushore any form of assurance although he did not say
whether the banker was alone or in whose company he was.
Police national spokesman Wayne Bvudzijena yesterday professed ignorance
over the Mujuru link.
Bvudzijena said: “I am not aware of that. It (investigations) only concerns
Gula-Ndebele. We are investigating his (Gula-Ndebele) conduct in relation to
Mushore and I don’t know where (Retired) General Mujuru comes in.”
Sources however, said the obstruction of justice charges against Mujuru, who
together with the late Josiah Tongogara led the ZANLA forces when President
Mugabe languished in prison for 10 years from 1964 to 1974, could be viewed
as part of the war of attrition against the former legislator for Chikomba.
Widely seen as the kingmaker in ZANU-PF’s succession politics, Mujuru left
government in 1995.
The “Mujuru camp” is linked to attempts to block President Mugabe from
seeking a fresh mandate at the ruling party congress held in December.
President Mugabe was however, endorsed unanimously.
It remains to be seen how Mujuru, who sits in ZANU-PF’s
supreme-decision-making body, the politburo, could be dragged into the
imbroglio and whether the allegations would stick.
Efforts to get a comment from Mujuru were fruitless.
The infighting in ZANU-PF has spilled into the AG’s office, with rival
ruling party factions vying to control the department. The tensions have
resulted in some recently appointed top officers being accused of
corruption.
A complaint seen by The Financial Gazette, lodged with the Presidency,
accuses newly appointed Deputy AG Johannes Tomana of allegedly resolving
that a Harare lawyer, Puwayi Chiutsi would be prosecuted only to backtrack
for no reasonable grounds.
The document also says the Harare Messenger of Court Smart Moyo should be
investigated for misconduct.
The complainant, one Jean Sano, confirmed in an interview on Tuesday that he
had lodged the complaint. He was yet to get a response.
Sources said the complaint was another aspect of the factional fight for the
control of the AG’s office.
This week the tribunal investigating the AG deferred proceedings to
tomorrow. The matter will be held in camera in line with directives issued
by President Mugabe.
The leading figures involved in this feud, Gula Ndebele and Justice and
Parliamentary Affairs Minister Patrick Chinamasa are said to belong to rival
factions within the ruling party.
In 2006, Chinamasa was charged by obstructing the course of justice by
attempting to block the prosecution of ZANU-PF supporters who were accused
of political violence. He was acquitted.
Last year, the police linked Emmerson Mnangagwa, the Rural Housing and
Social Amenities Minister Emmerson Mnangagwa and the alleged leader of the
other political camp in ZANU-PF, to a plot to overthrow President Robert
Mugabe’s government.
“The other faction is now hitting back. It is now survival of the fittest,”
a source said.
It has emerged that the head of state suspended Gula-Ndebele after he had
made recommendations to Cabinet following deliberations that took place late
last year.
The AG, who is an ex-officio member of both Parliament and Cabinet, was
absent during these deliberations.
Sources this week said at the Cabinet meeting, some expressed the view that
Gula- Ndebele did not have a case to answer, but members of the rival
faction drowned their voices.


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Zero sum game

FinGaz

Shame Makoshori Staff Reporter
Banking, accounting systems stretched by resurgence of high denomination
currency
BANKING and other key economic activities have been crippled by the
resurgence of zeros on the country’s beleaguered currency, from which the
central bank lopped off three zeros in August 2006.

Rampaging inflation has caused prices to surge sharply, driving prices of
basic food commodities past the million-dollar mark and those for household
products like television sets and lounge suites to billions of dollars.
Even minimum purchase amounts for shares on the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange,
whose market capitalisation breached the quadrillion-dollar level last year,
are now heading towards the $10 billion mark.
Pardon Gorova, president of the Computer Society of Zimbabwe, said
accounting systems had been stretched and businesses were becoming creative
to account for the large number of zeros on the country’s currency.
“Most companies have resorted to over-accounting, where, whenever the table
is full of invoices, the new entries are not accounted. This poses a serious
challenge for transparency in the industry,” Gorova told The Financial
Gazette.
Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe governor Gideon Gono recently told bankers that he
was not removing any zeros from the country’s currency, saying if systems
failed, they could resort to manual means to deal with the situation.
He said experience from the past exercise had revealed people now had a
psyche for higher denominated amounts and would feel robbed if zeros were
lopped off the currency.
They would, therefore, increase prices to come back to millions and other
higher figures.
Gono last month introduced a set of new, high denomination bearer cheques to
deal with a cash shortage that had ravaged the country, resulting in long
queues at banks as depositors battled to withdraw their money.
Already, the multiplication of zeros has proved to be a daunting task for
the government.
Finance Minister Samuel Mumbengegwi said during the presentation of the 2008
national budget in November they had faced serious problems in coming up
with allocations.
Galloping year-on-year inflation reportedly surged past 24 000 percent in
October and could have breached 50 000 percent by December, although the
International Monetary Fund (IMF) estimates inflation at 150 000
year-on-year for December.
Gorova said some companies had formulated stopgap measures to deal with
failing accounting systems.
Zimbabwe is battling an economic crisis now in its ninth year characterised
by high inflation and foreign currency shortages.
Foreign currency reserves have been shrinking since 1999, when the IMF and
other multilateral donors withdrew balance of payments support to the
country over human rights violations.
President Robert Mugabe’s government alleges it is being punished by the
West for embarking on an agrarian land reform programme that resulted in
white farmers being forcibly driven off their farms in order to resettle
blacks.
The reforms have largely benefited ruling party big wigs and their cronies,
and left a trail of destruction on infrastructure built by the former white
landowners.
This has resulted in a poorly performing agricultural sector whose effects
have cascaded across the entire agro-based economy.
Under the first phase of the currency reform programme Gono struck off three
zeros from the currency after computers failed to handle large numbers that
had been caused by an increase in inflation.


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Makoni in symbolic gesture of loyalty

FinGaz

Dumisani Ndlela Business Editor

FORMER finance minister Simba Makoni last week threw into a conundrum
reports linking him to a now foiled split in the ruling party after
submitting his curriculum vitae (CV) for primary elections to choose a
ZANU-PF representative for Makoni Central in the forthcoming elections.

But sources indicated that his bid for the seat, which he is likely to lose
to Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa, was merely a symbolic gesture to
demonstrate to President Robert Mugabe's loyalists, baying for his blood,
that he does not intend to break ranks with the party.
The politician, who met President Mugabe over a week ago to dispel reports
linking him to a planned split within the revolutionary party, has
previously been approached to lead initiatives aimed at dislodging ZANU-PF
from power.
But Makoni took advantage of his meeting with the President to "clear his
name" and to hint he might not be available during the elections period due
to consultancy work that would take him outside the country.
The Financial Gazette, which broke the story of the planned split, is
informed by its sources that the former finance minister would indeed be
unavailable for the elections because of pressure of work.
Makoni was touted to lead the breakaway group of largely reform-minded party
cadres, which was being spearheaded by Ibbo Mandaza.
Herald columnist (Nathaniel Manheru) widely believed to be President
Mugabe's spokesman, George Charamba, admitted that the planned breakaway has
been brewing in ZANU-PF, but trashed the credibility of the characters
behind the initiative.
Manheru said the organisers of the planned split had in their corner figures
that "do hold positions in both the party and government", and a "contingent
of ex-servicemen…high officers of the ruling party, including some
controlling provinces and with business interests".
The group, he wrote, also included "politburo members who are convening
unilateral meetings" and stirring up opposition to President Mugabe's
leadership.
The Financial Gazette can authoritatively report that President Mugabe has a
list of all players behind the planned break up, and met some of them
individually after returning early this month from his annual holiday in
Asia.
The split was expected to take place early in February, and had the backing
of international capital mobilised by a former cabinet minister now
domiciled abroad.
There was no option for an internal rebellion to unseat President Mugabe,
The Financial Gazette's sources indicated.
The disintegration of the reformists' plans to break away from the ruling
party is said to have severely weakened the Mujuru faction, already said to
have lost key members soon after the 2002 Presidential election.
This is despite the fact that the the entire party presidium, except
President Mugabe, allegedly supports the Mujuru faction.
Sources indicated that President Mugabe had been "overwhelmed" with
apologies from those initially linked to the break away initiative, who had
pledged support for his candidacy and vowed to give up factional politics
threatening to tear away the party.
The weakening of the Mujuru faction has meant the strengthening of the
Emmerson Mnangagwa faction, currently said to have the backing of President
Mugabe.
Apparently, Makoni will be pitted against a Mnangagwa faction member,
Chinamasa, in the primaries for the Makoni Central seat.
Chinamasa has the backing of State Security Minister Didymus Mutasa, also
the ZANU-PF secretary for administration and the most senior politician in
Manicaland Province.
Mutasa, who doubles up as the Lands Minister, is seen to be closer to
Chinamasa than Makoni and might use his clout to swing votes in favour of
the Justice Minister.
Interestingly Makoni was not present at the Mutare meeting, which
successfully vetted his CV, but Chinamasa was in attendance.


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Mpofu off the hook

FinGaz

Staff Reporter

INDUSTRY and International Trade Minister Obert Mpofu’s conviction for
contempt of parliament has fallen away following the legislature’s failure
to conclude the matter before the dissolution of parliament to pave the way
for elections to be held on March 29.

Mpofu was found guilty of “prevarication” by the parliamentary privileges
committee, which was chaired by Defence Minister Sydney Sekeramayi. The
charge pertained to evidence the Industry Minister submitted to the
Portfolio Committee on Foreign Affairs, Industry and International Trade,
which was probing a management contract between the Zimbabwe Iron and Steel
Company (ZISCO) and a potential investor in the giant steelworks — Global
Steel Holdings Limited of India.
The Minister was charged under section 21 of the Privileges, Immunities and
Powers of Parliament Act, which stipulates a maximum fine of $40 000 or two
years imprisonment or both for anyone found guilty.
However, in a ruling delivered on May 10 last year Sekeramayi’s committee
recommended that Mpofu be fined $40 000, but soon afterwards the process
stagnated.
The motion on Mpofu lapses with the dissolution of parliament on March 28, a
day before the elections.
To cloud matters further, although parliament will now be dissolved next
month, two weeks ago it was adjourned to April 8, meaning that it would not
meet before the elections.
Sources said there was a possibility that the legislature might be called to
deal solely with urgent matters arising from the ZANU-PF/Movement for
Democratic Change talks brokered by the Southern African Development
Community.
In an interview last week, the chairman of the Parliamentary Legal
Committee, Welshman Ncube, said in terms of the law, even if parliament had
endorsed Mpofu’s conviction and he had paid the required fine, there would
have been no effect on his status as a Minister.
Ncube also served on the six -member privileges committee - an ad hoc body -
that was constituted after Speaker of Parliament John Nkomo ruled on
November 30, 2006 that there was a prima facie case against Mpofu in
connection with evidence he submitted to the trade committee chaired by
ZANU-PF Chipinge legislator Enock Porusingazi.
Nkomo’s ruling was made after Porusingazi’s committee moved a motion
imploring the Speaker to rule on allegations that the Minister had falsified
information during the Zisco hearing.
When Mpofu first appeared before the parliamentary committee on September
20, 2006, he was said to have alleged that there was a file containing
“shocking” information, which implicated some Members of Parliament and
high-ranking government officials in corrupt dealings at Zisco.
On September 27 the same year, the minister is said to have made a sudden
U-turn, denying having made the earlier statement.
In its ruling on May 10 last year the privileges committee said “It is the
committee’s observation that this is what amounts to evasion and avoidance
and consequently prevarication.
“Accordingly, the committee finds the Honourable Minister to have been
contemptuous of the Portfolio Committee on Foreign Affairs, Industry and
International Trade and therefore Parliament by prevaricating as a witness
within the meaning of section 21 of the Act.”


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Air Zim engineers clinch forex pay deal

FinGaz

Staff Reporter

THE government has apparently bowed to the demands of Air Zimbabwe engineers
for their salaries to be paid in foreign currency.

Sources at the national airline told The Financial Gazette this week that
the government gave the management the green light to pay engineers in
foreign currency following an exodus, which saw 16 experienced engineers
leaving the national carrier in 2007.
“We have information that the government has given management the go ahead
to pay salaries for engineers in foreign currency starting this month,” said
the source who asked to remain anonymous.
Air Zimbabwe Corporate Affairs Manager, Pride Khumbula, could neither
confirm nor deny that engineers are to be paid in foreign currency but
emphasised that a deal had been struck with the government.
“The airline has put in place retention packages for pilots and engineers,
in accordance with recommendations from government and the central bank,”
said Khumbula without elaborating.
Air Zimbabwe boasts a team of 50 pilots and 220 engineers. When the airline’s
chief executive officer Peter Chikumba took over the reins in February last
year he made it clear that staff retention was one of his major goals.
Chikumba said experienced and well-trained professionals were one of Air
Zimbabwe’s greatest assets.


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Top Rio Tinto boss set to tour Zim operations

FinGaz

Shame Makoshori Staff Reporter

BILL Champion, the managing director for Rio Tinto Diamonds will jet into
the country on Monday for a four-day tour of the group’s local operations
and high-level meetings on the planned indigenisation of the mining sector.

While details of the tour were still sketchy at the time of going to print,
The Financial Gazette has it on good authority that Champion will tour
Murowa Diamonds in Zvishavane and engage government thereafter, on the
impending expropriation of mining resources from foreign owners.
Jill Day, the spokesperson for Rio Tinto Zimbabwe confirmed the visit
yesterday, but requested further questions in writing.
Murowa registered a drop in diamond output from 251 301 carats in 2005 to
240 000 carats in 2006. But output was projected to increase this year
pending the completion of a US$250 million expansion project announced last
year.
The project will increase output by 10 fold to about two million tonnes per
annum.
Champion’s predecessor, Andrew Mackenzie, was however, quoted last year
saying the US$250 million investment had been put on ice pending the outcome
of the planned indigenisation of the mining sector.
“I believe the best way forward would be for the government to consider
indigenous empowerment at a similar pace and scale to the South African
process,” Mackenzie, was quoted saying.
Government is planning to take over at least 51 percent shareholding in all
foreign-owned mining companies under a controversial empowerment plan aimed
at addressing colonial-era imbalances in the ownership of economic
resources.
Reports have indicated that government might take over at least 25 percent
of the targeted shareholding in the foreign-owned mining companies for free.
The planned expropriation of mining resources from foreign owners has
grossly affected investment in the sector at a time when the country is
battling hyperinflation and foreign currency shortages that have had far
reaching implications on the mining industry.
Rio Tinto, which has been in Zimbabwe’s mining sector for 50 years, has
spent $100 million expanding its Murowa Diamonds since the discovery of
diamonds 14 years ago.
The operation, which is 77,8 percent owned by Rio Tinto Plc, is capable of
producing 300,000 carats of diamonds per year.


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Future of newspapers under serious threat

FinGaz

Kumbirai Mafunda Senior Business Reporter

THE newspaper industry was this week left facing an uncertain future after
the country’s largest manufacturer of newsprint warned of severe shortages
of the essential input owing to intermittent power cuts, coal and foreign
currency shortages.

Executives from ART Corporation — the owners of paper manufacturing concern
Mutare Board & Paper Mills (MBPM) — have since last week been shuttling from
office to office, highlighting the desperate situation at the Eastern
Highlands-based plant where scores of jobs are on the line.
MBPM, according to the executives, has lost significant man-hours due to
frequent power outages. Erratic coal supplies and unviable prices for
newsprint have also affected operations.
Richard Zirobwa, the ART Corporation group chief executive officer, is said
to have indicated that capacity utilisation at the Mutare factory had
nose-dived to 30 percent, resulting in the division freezing all newsprint
exports.
Zirobwa is said to have told officials at the Information Ministry and
executives in the newspaper industry that the latest power outages had
resulted in a no-stock situation at MBPM, with output falling to levels that
cannot even satisfy the domestic market.
“Everyone who cares to listen has been appraised of the desperate situation
at Mutare Board, but the silence has been deafening,” said a source. “There
is suspicion that someone, somewhere is deliberately squeezing Mutare Board
in order to make way for some political vultures who want to take-over the
company. The strategy is simple; Mutare Board must be seen as failing to
deliver to warrant a forcible take-over,” added the source.
Insiders at Mutare Board said even if ZESA Holdings was to restore power at
the company’s factory, the shortages of foreign currency needed to import
pulp would still hinder the production of newsprint.
They said Hwange Colliery Company indicated to them that it was only able to
supply a few wagons of coal, which is not even enough to power the plant for
a day.
The newsprint shortages could affect the publication of both state-owned and
privately controlled newspapers at a time when the electorate requires to be
informed about the forthcoming harmonised elections pitting the fractious
opposition Movement for Democratic Change against the ruling ZANU-PF.
There were fears the private press could be starved of newsprint as ART
could come under political pressure to divert all supplies to the state
newspapers, which are expected to spearhead the ZANU-PF election campaign.
Justin Mutasa, the Group CEO for the Zimbabwe Newspapers revealed on
Wednesday that the state-run concern has had to reduce the print-run for the
daily Herald due to depleted newsprint stocks.
“Since last week (the) Harare branch has been getting 14 tonnes (of
newsprint) a week and Bulawayo four tonnes. This is totally inadequate. We
are therefore, printing very few copies of newspapers under our titles
because of the acute shortages,” said Mutasa.
Publishers this week warned that in the absence of an immediate improvement
in newsprint supplies, newspapers may be forced to cut down print orders or
reduce their pagination, which either way, would mean heavy losses for the
companies.
The quality of products on the market will also suffer as publishers resort
to mopping up inferior newsprint on the market in order to remain in
business.
“Either way, we are in deep trouble. We are all in a no-win situation, MBPM,
subscribers, readers, employees and owners of the businesses alike. We are
all hoping for divine intervention to save the situation,” said an industry
executive.
The education sector, which relies on paper products from MBPM, could also
suffer as a result of the newsprint shortages.
Zimbabwe’s embattled newspaper industry has had to effect regular cover
price increases to keep up with frequent increases in the price of newsprint
and other production costs, which are threatening the publishing industry
with bankruptcy.
But the National Incomes and Pricing Commission has of late starved MBPM of
a viable price, compounding the foreign currency shortages, inadequate coal
supplies and power outage problems plaguing the ART group.
Critics this week questioned the authorities’ reluctance to prioritise the
allocation of power to ART, which is at the fulcrum of the newspaper
industry.


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Kuruneri plots return

FinGaz

Clemence Manyukwe Staff Reporter

FORMER finance minister Chris Kuruneri is plotting a political comeback
after submitting papers to stand on a ZANU-PF ticket for the Mazowe West
House of Assembly seat after a three-year legal ordeal that threatened to
end his public career.

Kuruneri, who has previously represented the same constituency, lost his
parliamentary seat following his arrest in 2004 on charges of corruption as
well as contravening the country’s citizenship laws.
He was freed last year by the High Court in a case in which the odds seemed
to be overwhelmingly against him after nine previous bail applications had
been dismissed.
Sources told The Financial Gazette that Kuruneri submitted his curriculum
vitae last week, for the parliamentary seat currently occupied by ZANU-PF
legislator Margaret Zinyemba — who is also the chairperson of the
parliamentary committee on local government, public works and national
housing.
The ex-finance minister, who became the most senior government official to
be prosecuted in an anti-corruption drive launched by the government ahead
of the 2005 general elections, has previously blamed factional fighting
within the ruling party for his legal troubles.
Kuruneri was accused of illegally channeling more than US$500 000, £37 000,
30 000 euros and R1, 2 million to South Africa on various occasions between
2002 and 2004 as well as using a Canadian passport to travel on six
occasions. It is illegal to hold dual citizenship under Zimbabwean law.
In 2005, Kuruneri was fined $12 million after being found guilty of
contravening the Citizenship Act but was acquitted on the foreign currency
externalization charges.
If he is elected Mazowe West Member of Parliament, it remains to be seen
whether Kuruneri can reclaim his post at the Finance Ministry, where he is
one of three ministers to fall out of favour with the authorities- Simba
Makoni before him and Herbert Murerwa after him.


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Dereliction of duty slows down the wheels of justice

FinGaz

Clemence Manyukwe Staff Reporter

A POSTER hanging in the office of a prominent Harare lawyer reads: “Justice
must not only be done, but it must be seen to be done.” Another one at the
far end of the wall says: “Justice delayed is justice denied.”

At the end of my interview with the legal practitioner, it is apparent that
apart from grappling with the question of the separation of powers and the
independence of the judiciary, which should guarantee that court decisions
are impartial and not influenced by the other branches of government and
private or political interests, a new headache has emerged — judges taking
too long to deal with matters before them.
The reasons vary from dereliction of duty, fear of dealing with sensitive
cases to outright laziness.
In recent years some judgments have been handed down months after accused
persons have served the sentences against which they may have been
appealing.
One example is the case of former Movement for Democratic Change Chimanimani
Member of Parliament Roy Bennett in which the Supreme Court delivered a
judgment in 2006, months after his release from prison after serving a
custodial sentence.
Of all the cases I have followed as a court reporter, the worst example was
a murder case heard in the High Court in 2006, involving some ZANU-PF
supporters. Sometime in the middle of that year, the prosecution and defence
parties were told that the presiding judge was ready to deliver his verdict.
When judgment day finally came however, the judge did not turn up and the
matter was subsequently deferred on four more occasions. On the last
occasion, a relative of one of the accused told me: “I weep everyday,
waiting for the wheels of justice to turn.”
The judgment was eventually passed the following year, convicting the
accused persons of culpable homicide months after the judge had first
indicated the verdict was ready.
Law Society of Zimbabwe (LSZ) president Beatrice Mtetwa said the society had
lodged complaints with the Judge President, Justice Rita Makarau over the
conduct of some judges.
“From time to time we have complained to the Judge President,” Mtetwa said.
“However lawyers have not complained as much as they ought to because they
believe that if you complain too much your client will be prejudiced. There
are some judges who are known for not keeping time.”
One appeal case currently before the Supreme Court confirms Mtetwa’s claims
about lawyers’ fears of being punished for demanding that their cases be
dealt with expeditiously.
In that case, a Harare lawyer claimed in an affidavit that the manner in
which a High court judge dealt with his client’s trial was suspicious.
According to the lawyer, after waiting for judgment for six months, he
complained to Justice Makarau and the judge in question prepared the
judgment in a day.
Explaining the effects of these delays, Mtetwa said: “Obviously clients are
prejudiced through paying lawyers for loitering.”
There is nothing unusual anymore about a Judge reporting to work after
mid-morning or not turning up altogether.
Because some of the judges benefited from President Robert Mugabe’s land
reforms, it is suspected that a lot of time is now being spent on the farms.
Critics have raised concerns of conflict of interest, saying this puts the
judges in a difficult position when dealing with land cases.
It has always been people seeking justice who pay the ultimate price, as
legal fees continue to escalate under the nose of the National Incomes and
Pricing Commission.
The non-attendance of court by judges and delays in concluding trials have
also worsened the backlog of cases yet to be heard, the LSZ president said.
In cases involving financial aspects, claimants receive any compensation
they are awarded long after the money has lost value due to galloping
inflation, now estimated by the International Monetary Fund to be 150 000
percent.
Mtetwa said sometimes judges fail to deliver sound judgments because by the
time they start working on a ruling, they would have forgotten some of the
important submissions made during hearings due to the time lapse.
A Harare lawyer said some judges had a tendency to drag their feet when
dealing with cases deemed to be “political.”
When such cases are brought before judges as urgent matters, they are often
dismissed on the grounds of there being nothing urgent about them.
The lawyer cited the example of a case last year in which a judge dismissed
an application by some farm workers who had been evicted from their lodgings
by a top government official.
The judge said the matter was not urgent even though the workers had no
alternative shelter.
“If a judge comes to court on time, it establishes judiciary authority. The
authority of the judiciary officer is asserted by himself. Coming on time
tells the public at large that justice is always there at the designated
time,” the lawyer said.
He added that sometimes when a judge does not show up, there are whispers
that he/she is attending to his/her farm.
“The public and lawyers have no problem with losing cases provided it is a
well reasoned judgment based on law. A rushed, poorly thought out judgment
unfortunately leads the public to have misgivings about the judgment,” the
lawyer said.


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Zimbos and the fear of demonstrations

FinGaz

Zhean Gwaze Staff Reporter
Who is to blame for nation’s ambivalence towards calls for protests?
IT was 13:00 hours and 33-year-old Lifanah Nyoni had been standing in a long
and winding bank queue since 08:00 hours when the institution opened its
doors to the public.

Tired and weary, he saw them approaching — a group of more than 50
opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) youths, clad in casual wear,
chanting, “Chitonga zvako Morgan, ZANU yakonewa, tonga zvako.” (You can now
rule Morgan Tsvangirai because ZANU-PF has failed.”
The youths were mobilising supporters to attend an MDC rally at the City
Sports Centre in Harare after police had banned, at the last minute, a
protest march in the city centre.
The demonstration had been intended to highlight MDC demands for free and
fair elections, a new constitution, jobs, restoration of health care
delivery, provision of drugs in hospitals, resuscitation of the education
system and the end of the cash crisis.
Realities on the ground should have stirred enough emotion in any average
human being to join the youths, as the week leading up to last Wednesday
when the MDC rally was held, had been characterised by an unprecedented
nationwide power blackout that had crippled households and industry, an
un-abating cash crisis and the spiralling cost of basic commodities and
transport.
“Vatirege zvedu, vanotikonzeresa (They should leave us alone because they
will land us in trouble),” retorted Nyoni when nudged by someone else in the
queue to heed the youths’ call.
Such has become the resigned response of most Zimbabweans to any suggestion
of participating in demonstrations over the past few years.
Such a reaction, according to political analysts, is a culmination of
processes from the colonial era that demanded obedience and subordination to
authority.
University of Zimbabwe political scientist Eldred Masunungure says
Zimbabwean culture does not train ordinary people to question authority and
this is further compounded by the element of fear.
“The state is known to deal severely with any protesters, so naturally,
people tend to ignore anything that is anti-state,” he said.
The police banned the MDC march despite having sanctioned it earlier and
then proceeded to release tear gas and to beat up MDC supporters who were
making their way from the city centre to the City Sports Centre to attend
the rally that a magistrate had ruled should go ahead despite upholding the
police ban on the protest march.
Last week’s clashes occurred while memories of the events surrounding the
Save Zimbabwe Campaign rally last year when MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai and
at least 50 members of his party and civic leaders were brutally assaulted
by state security agents, were still fresh in the minds of most Zimbabweans.
That rally, which was organised by a coalition of churches, civil society
organisations and opposition groups to discuss ways of resolving the country’s
woes, degenerated into skirmishes between the police and unarmed civilians
in which MDC activist Gift Tandare lost his life.
Dozens of activists were arrested and detained over the following three
months on “terrorism” charges. A High Court judge subsequently ruled that
the police fabricated the charges to nail President Robert Mugabe’s
political opponents.
The battering, especially of Tsvangirai, attracted worldwide condemnation,
leading to Zambian President Levy Mwanawasa likening Zimbabwe to a “sinking
Titanic”.
Since the enactment of the Public Order and Security Act (POSA) in 2002, the
police have descended on any gathering organised by civic society and
opposition parties ruthlessly.
Tsvangirai’s call to Zimbabweans to march to State House in July 2003, which
was dubbed the “Final Push” and National Constitutional Assembly calls to
march for a new constitution have, in various degrees, been thwarted by the
police.
Attempts by the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) to call stayaways
and demonstrations organised by Women of Zimbabwe Arise to highlight the
plight of women have been neutralized by similar police heavy-handedness.
Although the MDC and President Mugabe’s governing ZANU-PF have agreed on
amendments to POSA under talks mediated by President Thabo Mbeki of South
Africa, the events of the past week show that the state is yet to reform.
The predicament of Zimbabweans was evident even in poignant events like
Operation Murambatsvina, which courted international condemnation, but whose
execution the people watched helplessly.
This was contrary to the countrywide food and bread riots of the late 1990s
that broke out after the ZCTU had called for demonstrations. Shops were
looted in the mayhem in the same way as they were ransacked when the
government ordered the slashing of prices last year.
Although cultural norms play a role in such situations, political
commentators say during an acute economic crisis such as the one Zimbabwe is
currently experiencing, political participation becomes a luxury.
“I am personally not surprised by what is happening in the country. People
are more preoccupied with making ends meet and as a result tend to weigh the
benefits of participating in a political march against those of engaging in
economic activities that put sadza (food) on the table. This explains why
turnout for public marches is very low whether they are organised by labour
unions, political parties or pressure groups,” says Masunungure.
Zimbabwe is in the grip of a severe economic crisis manifesting itself
through hyperinflation, shortages of most essential commodities and a
rapidly contracting gross domestic product, the fastest for a country not at
war according to the World Bank.
The Consumer Council of Zimbabwe says a family of six now requires $1.1
billion per month to survive but most workers earn below $500 million, the
maximum daily cash withdrawal limit for individuals.
A severe foreign currency squeeze since 1999, when the International
Monetary Fund pulled the plug on aid to the country has seen the nation
struggling to import fuel, power, spare parts and food.
Against this background, one political commentator insists that the blame
for the failure to register any disgruntlement over this state of affairs
should not be placed on ordinary Zimbabweans but on the organisers of
demonstrations.
National Constitutional Assembly (NCA) chairman Lovemore Madhuku said the
problem was that organisers were not doing enough to mobilise their
constituencies.
“We have talked to many Zimbabweans that are willing to participate in
marches but those organising them have not done enough. As NCA our calls for
demonstrations have only reached a pool of our activists and we need to
reach out to more Zimbabweans,” Madhuku said.


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Power, water cuts ruining women in business: Mutasa

FinGaz

Dumisani Ndlela Business Editor

IT is common that most companies in Zimbabwe occasionally close down because
of power outages. Machines stop running, supermarket tills cannot be
switched on, and office computers have that dark screen staring at you as if
suggesting you should not rattle the keyboard.

If management so decides that you hang around regardless of the blackout,
you are forced to start doing everything manually, unless there’s a
generator roaring to supply back up power.
But something else is now sending workers home early: a crippling water
crisis that has affected the use of ablution facilities at work and caused
workplaces to stink.
And it’s getting Jane Mutasa, president of the Indigenous Business Women’s
Organisation (IBWO), extremely irritated.
“We can’t carry on running businesses without water,” Mutasa said during an
interview at her offices this week. “What do we think we’re doing?” she
asks, almost demanding an answer.
Talking to her, one would wish to have brought Munacho Mutezo, the Minister
of Water Resources.
Indeed Mutasa’s anger is aimed at Mutezo, under whose ministry the Zimbabwe
National Water Authority (ZINWA), which has taken over water facilities in
most local authorities and turned them into a monumental disaster, falls.
“He (Mutezo) is always on national television highlighting problems (faced
by the authority) every time. When is it going to be right?” Mutasa, asks.
Her point: Despite millions of dollars being pumped into the water supply
system by both the government and the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe, ZINWA has
never been the bearer of good news. It is always this problem, that problem,
another one and many more.
Mutasa, also the chairperson of the gender taskforce of the National
Economic Consultative Forum, says ZINWA has a national obligation to restore
water and sewerage reticulation systems and prevent company closures as a
result of ablution facilities that cannot work because there’s no running
water.
At the end of September last year, she wrote to Mutezo as president of IBWO,
highlighting “the plight of women of Zimbabwe who are facing life
difficulties due to poor water supplies and burst sewers”.
“The two scenarios have risen higher among the women and children now face a
great danger of diseases such as cholera, scabies and diarrhoea,” she wrote
to Mutezo.
The women, she said, had approached IBWO with the urgent matter.
Mutasa said their businesses, had been negatively affected by the water
supply crisis.
“Most of the manufacturing companies had to send their entire workforce home
due to lack of water. Production has been halted. It is not clear when the
situation would be addressed. For instance, Kadoma Spinners and Weavers and
David Whitehead Textiles cannot supply fabric due to lack of water. That
will stop the manufacturing sector and (this means) no employment,” she
wrote to Mutezo.
Reports this week indicated that some workers in industrial areas had
resorted to the bush to relieve themselves because company toilets were
sealed off because of lack of water supplies.
Other companies were hiring mobile toilets, the reports indicated.
And while Mutasa is aggrieved by the plight of businesses as a result of the
critical water supply situation, she noted to Mutezo that she also had the
concern of a mother.
“As a woman, I feel very touched when I see such things happening to the
nation, especially to the young children. We fear that more diseases will be
(caused by the) failure of the water supplies to most houses.”
During her interview with The Financial Gazette, Mutasa said by allowing the
water crisis to continue, the Ministry of Water Resources was in turn
burdening the health delivery system due to an outbreak of illnesses that
could otherwise have been avoided.
“We want things to be restored…the sick need water, the hospitals need
water. It’s a human right to have clean water.”
Mutezo recently said government was tackling Harare’s water crisis though a
multi-faceted strategy “already in full swing”.
Most Harare suburbs continue to go without water, and sewage flows in most
residential areas like a river.
One of the Harare suburbs, Mabvuku, has been going for days without water
due to what one reporter described as “ZINWA’s operational deficiencies and
incompetence”.
Several deaths have been reported this year due to cholera outbreaks.
“The women of Zimbabwe are complaining about these issues as they do not
know where to go or who to complain to because they have complained for a
long time but no answers have been forthcoming from the responsible
authorities. We feel that action should be taken now,” Mutasa said in her
letter to Mutezo.
But then, is Mutezo listening?


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Cash shortages resurface

FinGaz

Staff Reporter

ZIMBABWE’S cash shortages, which subsided last week after huge cash
injections by the central bank, began resurfacing during the week with
several banks again failing to dispense cash to depositors.

A few banks reported having run out of cash after failing to secure notes
from the central bank.
A dealer said some of the banks did not have sufficient collateral to secure
accommodation from the central bank to enable them to pay depositors, and
were trying to avoid borrowing under the unsecured facility because of the
penal interest rates.
Reports recently indicated that banks were facing liquidity problems because
they could not secure cash applications from the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe
(RBZ) and had failed to pay their statutory reserves to the central bank
because of a liquidity crunch.
RBZ governor Gideon Gono last week gave banks up to this week to clear long
queues of depositors failing to withdraw their money, accusing them of
having diverted depositors funds into illiquid assets like equities.
He said the central bank had up to $800 trillion to alleviate the cash
shortages but banks were failing to collect their cash requirements due to
lack of security.
The situation had somewhat normalised since Gono’s angry reaction to the
crisis, which has seen even the Real Time Gross Settlement facility, meant
to abate the use of cash in the economy, being gridlocked and banks failing
to make depositors’ transfers because of a liquidity crunch.
One commercial bank in Borrowdale was said to have run out of cash on
Tuesday, and was still not allowing withdrawals yesterday.


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United Front deal fails to materialise

FinGaz

Charles Rukuni Bureau Chief

Bulawayo — The United Front has been caught flat–footed after its proposed
leaders chickened out last week and President Robert Mugabe set a nomination
date that does not allow it to look for alternative candidates.

President Mugabe has set the elections for March 29 with February 8 as the
nomination date, a move that caught nearly everyone napping as the
opposition was pressing for elections to be postponed so that the parties
could craft a new constitution.
The two factions of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), which was
supposed to be part of the proposed front, have decided to go it alone. They
are now talking about unity and fielding a single candidate to challenge
President Mugabe who will represent the ruling ZANU–PF.
The MDC split in 2005 with one faction remaining loyal to founding president
Morgan Tsvangirai and the other electing former student leader and robotics
professor Arthur Mutambara to lead it.
One of the lawyers who was supposed to draft legal documents to formalise
the front said he had not been approached up to now and with the nomination
date only a week away, he felt this was a dead horse. The party had proposed
to seek the help of three lawyers, one from Buulawayo and two from Harare to
prepare its documents.
A member of the MDC who has been keeping tabs on the front said one of the
organisers had conceded that it was dead because the proposed leaders had
chickened out.
Former finance minister Simba Makoni was initially the frontrunner but the
organisers had put forward former ZIPRA intelligence chief Dumiso Dabengwa
to lead the front because of his liberation war credentials.
A political observer said the organisers had gone about the whole issue in a
very amateurish way. “It looked like they were just name-dropping to test
the waters without consulting the people whose names they had brought
forward. Now everyone seems to be running for cover,” the observer said.
Eddie Cross, economic adviser to the Tsvangirai faction of the MDC, said the
declaration of February 8, as nomination date was part of a strategy worked
out 10 months ago to shut out the opposition because it was almost
impossible for the opposition to get candidates registered for the poll by
that date.
Cross said ZANU–PF adopted the strategy when it was confronted by South
Africa in March last year to hold “free and fair” elections on schedule in
March 2008. The strategy was to smash the organisational structures of the
MDC; go along with the demands of President Mbeki and the Southern African
Development Community (SADC), but in the conviction that they could
manipulate this process and avoid dismantling the system they had built up
over the past decade, which had enabled them to determine, in advance,
whatever result they thought they needed from the election itself; and
finally reduce the urban vote. But analysts say President Mugabe had no
option but to hold the elections now because his biggest enemy was the
economy rather than the opposition and dissidents from his own party. They
argued that given the way things are going he was not going to last until
June.
The document circulated by the United Front clearly showed that it was out
of sync with political reality. It proposed for example that it would do all
the groundwork before the end of this month.
This included attending to issues unique to the two MDC factions and ZANU-PF
elements “that would be the backbone of the front”.
It also wanted to assess the reaction of President Mugabe and his
securocrats so that it could design an effective mass mobilisation and
election campaign before launching the new party as well as to inform the
international community and SADC that “there was a new nationalist and
therefore indigenous, democratic, patriotic and progressive opposition to
President Mugabe”.
The organisers had proposed to launch the new party on February 18. With the
two MDC factions agreeing to unite and field Morgan Tsvangirai, it looks
like this year’s elections will be a repeat of 2002. While there are likely
to be some spoilers, the battle will be between Tsvangirai and President
Mugabe, if the former trade unionist decides to participate.
He lost narrowly to President Mugabe in 2002 polling 1 276 10 votes against
President Mugabe’s 1 689 219. Three other candidates vying for the post got
a total of only 55 245 votes.
But even the document prepared by the United Front admits that the odds are
in favour of President Mugabe because the country will be holding council,
House of Assembly and senate elections at the same time. Apart from the
advantages of incumbent head of state, each ZANU–PF candidate will also be
campaigning for President Mugabe.


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Zim’s academic system in ruins

FinGaz

Stanley Kwenda Staff Reporter
Demonstrations have become the order of the
day at universities
ONCE hailed as a beacon in Africa, the
Zimbabwean education system has crumbled in tandem with the collapse of the
economy, which took a turn for the worst in 2000.

Many African countries once considered
Zimbabwe the educational hub of the continent because of its highly trained
professionals and the conducive environment in which they were educated.
Attending the University of Zimbabwe, then one
of the best higher learning institutions in Africa, was considered
prestigious.
But only 28 years down the line, the economic
collapse coupled with the government’s, need to espouse populist policies,
Zimbabwe’s education system is now a shadow of its former self.
Once hailed as the pride of Africa, Zimbabwe’s
education system has now been overwhelmed from top to bottom by the
deepening political and economic crisis.
The University of Zimbabwe (UZ) was once the
pinnacle of an efficient system bequeathed by colonial rule but it is now
almost dysfunctional.
At the same time, across the country,
schoolteachers live hand to mouth, worrying less about their obligation to
teach and more about what they and their pupils will eat at break.
Most students studying at the UZ are there
only because they have no choice.
Most government officials send their children
to universities in the western world although they blame the same countries
for Zimbabwe’s problems.
But they shun local institutions of higher
learning precisely because of these dire and untenable conditions.
But invariably, clouds of tear gas and police
heavy-handedness are the official response to any protests by students
against the falling standards of education.
Despite police ruthlessness, demonstrations
have however; become the order of the day at universities in the country as
students press the government to meet its obligations.
Budgetary allocations for education have
declined over the years. At independence in 1980, the vote for education was
37 percent of the national budget but today this important sector is getting
less than 26 percent.
A recent Zimbabwe National Student Union
(ZINASU) congress report put the crisis in this sector into perspective.
“A review of pertinent data shows that
Zimbabwe is facing a sharp decline in public expenditure on higher
education, deteriorating teaching conditions, decaying educational
facilities and infrastructure, perpetual student unrest, erosion of
university autonomy, a shortage of experienced and well trained teaching
staff, lack of academic freedoms and an increasing rate of unemployment
among college graduates,” said former ZINASU president and UZ student,
Promise Mkwananzi.
Although the government never misses an
opportunity to pat itself on the back for ensuring in the early years of
independence that every Zimbabwean child received a decent education, things
have drastically deteriorated over the years when reduced expenditure has
not tallied with higher enrolment.
“Funding education has traditionally been the
responsibility of the government as is the case in other African countries.
But due to gross economic mismanagement and to a lesser extent, demographic
pressures over the last decade, the government is now turning to poverty
stricken parents to bear the astronomical costs of education, “ said
Mkwananzi.
The government has increasingly resorted to
the use of brute force to shirk its responsibility.
Last year the State took the unprecedented
step of forcing students out of the UZ campus at midnight before shutting
residential halls for good following demonstrations.
Although the government blamed the students
for the move, by then standards at the university were at rock bottom.
Some of the halls of residence had become
inhabitable due to years of neglect. Burst water and sewage pipes had become
a common feature and students had resorted to using candles.
The salaries of lecturers and professors are
so low that almost all have to find other jobs to make ends meet. So many
university posts are vacant that every alternative weekend, the state–run
weekly Sunday Mail carries advertisements inviting applications. The same
applies to all other state institutions of higher learning.
The prevailing environment is a far cry from
that of the 1980s when being a teacher was prestigious and a ticket to a
better life.
Then, a mere primary or secondary school
teacher could afford to buy a house and a car. The profession was highly
regarded but now being a teacher invites ridicule.
One teacher jokingly said that he was quitting
the profession because he had sold all the books in the library and thus had
no reason to remain at the school.
In 1980, primary education was almost free and
secondary education was accessible to everyone in urban and rural areas. The
country achieved impressive literacy rates, first of 80 percent and then
above 90 percent, making Zimbabwe’s education system one of the best in the
developing world.
“When I graduated from Gweru Teachers’ College
in 1995, I managed to buy my parents a lot of items most of which still
adorn their living room today, but now if I had not made a decision to leave
this thankless profession, I would not even be able to buy them a loaf of
bread,” said a former teacher now working in a warehouse in Johannesburg,
South Africa.
According to research conducted by ZINASU in
2006, 31,5 percent of students in tertiary institutions were forced to drop
out due to exorbitant fees.
This highlights the government’s failure to
uphold the 1948 Universal Human Right Declaration, which stipulates the
right of every child to education.
ZINASU has given a shocking overview on how
the government has not only destroyed the education system but more
seriously has ruined the lives of students.
“It is worrying to note that at Midlands State
University, 95 percent of the blood donated by students contained HIV,”
claimed a ZINASU bi–annual report for 2006 to 2007,


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Govt of national unity key to Zim crisis resolution

FinGaz

Austin Chakaodza

THIS article is an attempt to address the political, economic and social
problems Zimbabwe is experiencing today. It is also aimed at advancing
possible solutions to these problems.

It is argued here that the major problem Zimbabwe is facing is largely
political. The economic, financial and social dimensions are simply and
purely by-products of the crisis. There is also a psychological dimension to
it.
Against the foregoing background, it is important to explore a series of key
questions: What exactly are the underlying causes of the problems Zimbabwe
is facing today? How are these problems affecting political and economic
development in the country? What impact are economic pressures likely to
have? Is a government of national unity in the aftermath of the impending
general elections the answer to Zimbabwe’s problems?
A major underlying cause of the Zimbabwe’s crisis can be traced back to the
1980s. In the aftermath of a violent conflict that led to Zimbabwe’s
independence, the new government failed to determine how the economic
challenges of state building intersect with the political challenges of
development.
Psychologically, the ZANU-PF government failed to effectively transform
itself from a military to a political organisation.
The party failed to re-orientate its goals and practices towards legitimate
political activities.
The notion that ZANU-PF liberated the country is still a hangover from the
past and has therefore impeded the government from implementing effective
rule. This also explains why President Robert Mugabe and his ZANU-PF party
wish to cling to power at any cost including overseeing the economic
collapse of the country.
Ever since ZANU-PF came to power, it has been incapable of playing its role
in ways that fastern rather than betrays the public interest.
The Party’s impact on government efficiency, stability and democratic
legitimacy has been found wanting. Most government officials lack analytical
rigour, depth of insight and full understanding of what makes a democracy or
economic development.
Austin Chakaodza

THIS article is an attempt to address the political, economic and social
problems Zimbabwe is experiencing today. It is also aimed at advancing
possible solutions to these problems. It is argued here that the major
problem Zimbabwe is facing is largely political. The economic, financial and
social dimensions are simply and purely by-products of the crisis. There is
also a psychological dimension to it.
Against the foregoing background, it is important to explore a series of key
questions: What exactly are the underlying causes of the problems Zimbabwe
is facing today? How are these problems affecting political and economic
development in the country? What impact are economic pressures likely to
have? Is a government of national unity in the aftermath of the impending
general elections the answer to Zimbabwe’s problems?
A major underlying cause of the Zimbabwe’s crisis can be traced back to the
1980s. In the aftermath of a violent conflict that led to Zimbabwe’s
independence, the new government failed to determine how the economic
challenges of state building intersect with the political challenges of
development.
Psychologically, the ZANU-PF government failed to effectively transform
itself from a military to a political organisation.
The party failed to re-orientate its goals and practices towards legitimate
political activities.
The notion that ZANU-PF liberated the country is still a hangover from the
past and has therefore impeded the government from implementing effective
rule. This also explains why President Robert Mugabe and his ZANU-PF party
wish to cling to power at any cost including overseeing the economic
collapse of the country.
Ever since ZANU-PF came to power, it has been incapable of playing its role
in ways that fastern rather than betrays the public interest.
The Party’s impact on government efficiency, stability and democratic
legitimacy has been found wanting. Most government officials lack analytical
rigour, depth of insight and full understanding of what makes a democracy or
economic development.
Zimbabweans are suffering today at the hands of a regime that has been
pursuing failed policies since the early 1990s. The Shortage of foreign
currency in Zimbabwe is due to economic mismanagement over the years.
Intervention into the DRC crisis drained whatever foreign currency reserves
there were in the Reserve Bank.
Frequent travels to conferences abroad in large delegations by the President
and his government officials was another source of foreign currency deficit.
The failure to address macro-economic policy issues was another cause and
effect of the current crisis Zimbabwe is facing
The key policy areas of failure lie in employment creation, health and
education and social services.
The economic policy of structural adjustment and trade liberalisation killed
the Zimbabwe economy. These policies favoured markets over institutions and
the international economy over the domestic – to the detriment of the
working people in Zimbabwe.
The failure by the government to balance market forces and policy
intervention in the interest of economic growth was the major tragedy of it
all.
Unprecedented levels of corruption and crime are inhibiting the economy from
growing. In fact corruption in Zimbabwe is bubbling like stew in high
places. It is also corroding all layers of society. The high prices of basic
commodities are a by-product of corruption. These prices amount to extortion
and are contributing to the destruction of the economy.
The question is: Where are we now in Zimbabwe? In political terms, democracy
has failed to take root. Democracy is in trouble in Zimbabwe.
Democratic governance has failed to establish itself because it is unable to
survive the challenges of the corruption, cronyism and what can be described
as ‘electoral authoritarianism.’ The latter phenomenon should be understood
within the context of the interaction between rulers and opposition parties
in Zimbabwe.
First, the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) played into the hands of the
ruling party – ZANU-PF when they misguidedly campaigned for a ‘NO’ vote in
the 2000 new draft constitutional referendum. This author wrote in this
paper in 2000 that as a consequence of this act, Zimbabwe was going to be
lumbered with a ZANU-PF administration for the next 10 years or more.
This has since proved to be the case.
Widespread dissatisfaction in Zimbabwe in the 1990s set the stage for a new
constitution aimed at enhancing representation and accountability. The
government had yielded to the demands of a new political dispensation only
for these to be scuppered by the ill-advised actions of the MDC and its
National Constitutional Assembly (NCA) allies.
The outcome of the referendum revealed the lack of a sound political culture
and judgment as well as lack of democratic credentials, and shortfalls of
both the government and the opposition.
Ironically, the current constitutional demands made by the opposition were
in fact provided for in the draft constitution of 2000.
So, where do we go from here? It cannot be over-emphasized that Zimbabwe is
currently a weak and failed state both politically and economically.
The people of Zimbabwe are in quest of an innovative democratic design that
will foster greater enthusiasm for democratic participation. However, as
long as there exists an electoral authoritarianism the dynamics of free and
fair election in Zimbabwe will never be realised.
An electoral authoritarianism regime is where the government of the day,
rigs and manipulates the election and voting process for its own benefit.
Despite the repellation of POSA, AIPPA and other electoral laws, the ZANU-PF
government will find other avenues of frustrating the opposition from
campaigning freely and without fear.
The impending elections will mean nothing unless new democratic structures
are put in place. A ZANU-PF victory means that nothing will change
politically and economically. In fact, the economic and financial situation
will worsen.
An MDC victory is highly unlikely given the division that prevails within
the movement.
This writer proposes that Zimbabwe should develop its own distinctive brand
of democracy based on the creation of a government of national unity after
the elections.
Even if there is a party that has won a clear majority of seats in
Parliament, this proposed government of National Unity is still a necessity.
This author proposes that the government of national unity should be headed
by a Prime Minister who should be chosen and appointed from outside party
political circles. This might mean amending the constitution the 19th time
in order to facilitate the creation of the position of Prime Minister. Part
of the reason why Zimbabwe is a failed state is the lack of a strong head of
government who should co-ordinate ministerial activities at every level.
President Mugabe has been detached from his ministers for too long hence
some of the problems afflicting the society today. There is need for a Prime
Minister to whom ministers will be accountable for the day-today running of
their ministries.
Similarly, there is need for a Finance Minister who should be chosen outside
political party circles so that he or she might regenerate the economy
without executive interference.
The rationale behind this proposed structure is that there is need for
building a new confidence into the political and economic system of
Zimbabwe. A government headed by a technocratic Prime Minister together with
a selfless Finance Minister outside the party system might bring new
democratic credentials necessary for political and economic change in the
country.
Their community building activity might in fact signal the birth of a “New
Zimbabwe.” With an agreed programme of action, the new government of
national unity, might create and use new opportunities to bring about
changes at national, local and grass-root levels.
This author is proposing this new concept of democracy as a challenge and an
alternative to the electoral authoritarian regime that exists in Zimbabwe
today. There is need for a new political culture that will enhance economic
performance. This writer is willing, together with other interested people,
to explore further elements that will likely shape particular political
dynamics that may lead to the ‘Redemocratisation’ of Zimbabwe.
Professor Austin Chakaodza is a Political Analyst of African Affairs and is
Professor of International Relations at Regents College – London.


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Simba Makoni: Dissenter or party anchor man?

FinGaz

Chido Makunike

MEDIA reports now seem to indicate that all the recent speculation and
excitement about ZANU–PF insider Simba Makoni challenging President Robert
Mugabe in the upcoming election was much ado about nothing.

Either there was never any substance to the speculation or Makoni simply
chickened out. I wonder if we will ever know which it was for sure.
According to the reports over the last few weeks, Makoni was either going to
resign from ZANU–PF and head a new party, or he was going to lead a spirited
anti–Mugabe reform effort from within the ruling party.
One report went so far as to say he had actually tendered his resignation a
few days ago but that President Mugabe had declined it, as if one has to get
permission to quit an organisation. But then other reports said the plot was
in disarray, with the reformist–minded co–conspirators rushing to pledge
loyalty to President Mugabe. The whole thing sounded bizarre. The timing of
it just weeks before the election is just one obvious aspect, although one
news report weakly suggested that this may have been a deliberate ploy to
ambush President Mugabe.
But I also find it hard to believe that Makoni would have the guts and the
courage of convictions to be involved in anything like this. And if he was
involved, I think it is entirely in keeping with the man he has shown
himself to be over the years to chicken out at the last minute. The pulling
out would have been more in character than the initial standing up to be
counted. He is a ZANU–PF team player and follower far more than he is a
dissenter and leader. Whatever disagreements with the direction of economic
policy he has tentatively and ambiguously expressed on a few occasions, they
have been mildly stated echoes of what the general public had long been
saying.
He has always given the impression of someone who could see as clearly as
the ordinary person that the country was going to hell, but was simply too
beholden to the ruling dispensation to make a break with it. It has long
been obvious that whatever anguish it may have caused him, he was a kept
man, not his own man.
He never appeared free and bold enough to state things as he saw them and
then stand by his statements. When he has been probed to elaborate on his
occasional mild criticisms of the system, he has tended to soften them and
pull back. When he differed with President Mugabe over currency devaluation
and left his then position of minister of finance, it was after the
President had called him a saboteur for his suggestion. Makoni did not
resign at that insult on principle, but appeared to have been cast aside by
President Mugabe. He gave the impression that he would have continued to
suffer the indignity of serving a president who had effectively accused him
of being against the national interest for his ideas.
When he headed Zimpapers, the governments stable of propaganda publications,
he clashed with the then editor of The Sunday Mail, the most rabidly
“Mugabe-can–do–no–wrong” of the group’s papers. The since deceased Charles
Chikerema was also a close relative of President Mugabe’s. Makoni
humiliatingly lost the battle against his junior and had to leave his job in
a way that was not exactly dignified. It is things like these that cemented
his reputation as a like-able bureaucrat and chair–warmer with no strong
convictions and little backbone. These are not the qualities of a leader. A
leader rather than a bureaucrat at its helm is what Zimbabwe is most in need
of now.
Bureaucrats like Makoni are a dime a dozen in Zimbabwe. There will come a
time of reconstruction when good bureaucrats will play an important role
again. But what is required to move the country out of its prolonged crisis
period is the quality of leadership in the classic sense.
Zimbabwe needs a President Mugabe challenger and successor who is a “leader”
in the sense of inspiring the people to think beyond their present
depression.
We need a leader who can give us hope that we can return to a time where it
is possible to imagine a tomorrow that is better than today.
Under President Mugabe, everyone is resigned to more misery being in store.
The country is depressed and dispirited about its prospects. We need a
leader who can bring out the spirit of being prepared to make sacrifices for
one’s country in building a better future.
Under President Mugabe there has become a deep cynicism and a sense of
everyone–for–himself. This has been fostered by how the rulers show in their
behaviour that they believe the country to be on a course of
self–destruction, with them being in the forefront of plundering whatever
they can from the crumbling shell.
We need “leadership” in the sense of courage borne of conviction, akin to
the “principles” that the current government has so awfully corrupted. We
need a leader who can inspire us to do more than we would normally do. I’m
sure Makoni is as “nice” as people say he is, but “nice” don’t cut it in
this situation! “Nice” Makoni has shown none of these leadership qualities
that are called for in a prospective president at this juncture in Zimbabwe’s
nationhood.
Because of his characteristic wishy-washiness, he has further ruined his
reputation by the way he has mishandled the speculation about his possibly
challenging the President. By not denying them, he gave the impression that
the rumours were true. One would think that perhaps he was still working out
the logistics of his bid against President Mugabe. For things to simply
fizzle out without any public statement from him after weeks of public
speculation not only makes him look like a coward, it makes him also look
like a cynical, shallow opportunist. The impression one gets is that he was
indeed considering a bid. If he weren’t, one would reasonably surmise that
he would have come out strongly denying the substance of the speculation
early on. By not doing so, and then not saying anything at all later, he
gives the impression that he had done his calculations and decided not to go
ahead with the plan.
But if that is what happened, the way he has handled it sends all the wrong
signals. Leaving such a crucial decision until so late does not suggest any
element of a sneak attack on the President just before the election. It
instead makes him look like a careless last–minute planner. If he had made
all these public-relations “mistakes” but then still dramatically announced
that he was indeed standing against President Mugabe, his tactical errors
would have been forgotten and forgiven in the uproar and shock of his
announcement.
But “thinking about it” silently for weeks while the fevered public
speculation was going on makes him look particularly weak and indecisive,
now that it seems pretty clear he is not challenging him. The overall
impression left by Makoni not making any effort to manage the speculation is
that of somebody who was indeed thinking of it but developed cold feet.
What is worse, all the reports of his making clear overtures to “prove” his
loyalty to President Mugabe will only further taint his reputation.
The meeting he is confirmed to have had with the President at State House on
January 21 makes him appear like a little boy who was summoned to be spanked
for being wayward, or a coward who went grovelling for forgiveness. Neither
does Makoni’s reputation any good.
This political sideshow has not been a complete waste of time. Hopefully it
permanently removes Makoni from the long–speculated list of contenders for
the presidency. He does not have what it takes – he is a follower, not a
leader. The best position for him is a safe, well–paying routine job with a
prestigious title and a fashionable car, a nice big corner office and a
pretty secretary There will surely come some bureaucratic opportunity for
which he is well suited, but for now we need the kind of leadership, which
people like Makoni cannot provide.
We have made considerable progress in our politics just by getting the
ridiculous “Simba Makoni–for–president” sideshow out of the way, hopefully
for good.
Now that the brief circus is out of the way, perhaps we can go back to more
serious explorations of how we are going to fix the awful mess Zimbabwe is
in.


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All stakeholders should be ready for elections

FinGaz

Mavis Makuni

“Government ready for March polls”, announced a headline in the state daily,
The Herald in its issue of January 22, stating the obvious.

The story quoted Information and Publicity Minister, Sikhanyiso Ndlovu,
lashing out at United States Ambassador, James McGee, for expressing
reservations over the readiness of Zimbabwe to hold elections successfully
in March. The American envoy expressed his doubts in an interview reported
in the Sunday paper, The Standard issue of January 20 in which he said most
of the logistics necessary for the holding of free and fair elections were
not in place.
Fumed Ndlovu: “McGee and the American government are not qualified to
criticise human rights and our elections or polls. His comments on our poll
preparedness show that he is totally ignorant of our electoral system. We
have held elections since 1980 without fail and for 2008, all mechanisms are
in place after the 18th Amendment for harmonized elections.”
The Zimbabwean government did not need “American CIA funds” to organize
elections, Ndlovu stressed. He then pointed out that the American government
was not qualified to comment on Zimbabwe’s human rights performance because
President George Bush “stole elections” from the democrats and disallowed
nearly six million black votes eight years ago.
Delivering his punch line, Ndlovu asked: “Where is America’s human rights if
they imposed sanctions on Zimbabwe and McGee is not lifting even a small
finger to stop the sanctions on Zimbabwe?”
It is interesting to note how in criticising McGee for commenting on current
affairs in Zimbabwe, Ndlovu proceeds to do the same himself with respect to
the U S, the only difference being that the Minister harks back to events
that took place eight years ago. Even more incongruously, Ndlovu finds it
necessary to cite the slave trade, which ended about 150 years ago to
explain aspects pertaining to elections to be held in Zimbabwe in two months’
time.
The “stealing” of an election by Bush is a reference to the hard-fought
American presidential poll of 2000 in which the American leader narrowly won
with 271 electoral votes against the democratic Candidate, Al Gore’s 266. In
the US, the electoral vote system determines the winner and Bush won this
count although Gore received more popular votes. What is important is to
look at how the dispute, the fourth in American presidential polls since
1824, was tackled in a transparent and ethical manner.
The crucial aspect is that the American system has a functional mechanism
for tackling such disputes and indeed, after the Supreme Court ruled in Bush’s
favour, Gore and the American people accepted the outcome and were able to
move on and to hold a subsequent undisputed presidential election four years
later. It is ridiculous therefore for Zimbabwean government apologists to
take it upon themselves to be still so angry on behalf of the American
electorate over the Florida controversy as to regard it as a legitimate
point of reference when refusing to address issues of legitimate public
concern about local elections.
It is clear that Ambassador McGee has fallen victim of the Zimbabwean
government’s archaic tactic of evading issues by shooting the messenger
rather than offering a blow by blow rebuttal on the points raised. It is
redundant for Minister Ndlovu to state that the government is ready for the
elections that are to be held in an atmosphere whose conduciveness has been
questioned in many quarters. It is precisely because only the government is
ready and has a vested interest in ignoring the glaring shortcomings being
pointed out by other stakeholders that the matter is a bone of contention.
This is where the Minister of Information and Publicity should shed light
instead of resorting to incoherent tirades about American events.
The most crucial question that has been raised about the forthcoming
elections is whether they should go ahead in conditions widely perceived to
be grotesquely tilted in the government’s favour. Complaints have been
voiced by opposition parties and other stakeholders about the shambolic
state the voters’ roll is in, the partisan manner in which the delimitation
and voter registration exercises have been conducted and the use of state
resources and programmes to buy votes for the ruling party.
The Zimbabwe Elections Support Network (ZESN) has expressed concern about
the intimidation of voters that is already underway as well as the
politically partisan distribution of food aid in the rural areas.
As happens in every election some chiefs are reported to have declared their
areas no-go zones for the opposition. All these tactics are designed to
instill fear and obligate the electorate to vote for the ruling party.
Ndlovu should direct his energies towards addressing all these issues for
the benefit of Zimbabweans. It is wrong for the Minister to revel in
brandishing the fact that only the government is prepared to go ahead in
these unfair circumstances to silence critics.
In addition to the perennial anomalies cited above, the MDC has complained
this time around about the government’s unwillingness to honour and
implement agreements reached under the inter-party talks mediated by South
African President, Thabo Mbeki. These pertain to the levelling of the
electoral playing field and the allowing of enough time for the proposed
changes to take effect, to the satisfaction of all stakeholders. These are
the points that Ndlovu should be expounding on rather than the hitches in
the 2000 American presidential election that have no relevance to the
Zimbabwean scenario. It is stretching things a bit to quote foreign events
from almost a decade ago to justify glaring anomalies in Zimbabwe’s
electoral system but invoking the slave trade so as to avoid facing
prevailing realities is to be caught in a terrible time warp.
Government propagandists and spin doctors insist on keeping their blinkers
on so as to avoid acknowledging local realities. Under this self-deceiving
modus operandi, journalists, political analysts, businesspeople, opposition
politicians, trade unionists and all those who have expressed opinions that
are at variance with the official view have been labeled saboteurs, sellouts
or agents and puppets of the West. These crude attacks are illogical and
implausible enough when directed at fellow citizens who are as entitled as
the government apologists to call Zimbabwe their motherland.
It becomes more than excruciatingly embarrassing, however, when the same
convoluted reasoning is employed in a bid to establish a tenuous link
between slavery and Ambassador McGee’s views on the forthcoming elections,
simply because he happens to be black. “Definitely, he should not be used,
otherwise we will be bound to conclude that he is only a house nigger,”
Ndlovu is quoted as saying.
This is an unwarranted hit below the belt that serves to confirm the failure
of government officials and apparatchiks to observe the barest minimum
standards of common decency, courtesy and civility in dealing with different
stakeholders. The minister and his fellow spin doctors are practicing a
rabid form of bigotry, which obliges them to disparage anyone, but
especially fellow blacks, who disagree with the government.
It is of course a mechanism they resort to in a bid to defend the
indefensible. As far as they are concerned, no black person is capable of
seeing the omissions, commissions and abuses perpetrated by the Zimbabwean
government without being put up to it by the West. By this twisted way of
thinking, a black ambassador representing a Western country cannot be taken
seriously because his ancestors were slaves 150 years ago. Please!


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Banks must be banks

FinGaz

Comment

NOW that the dust has settled over the cash crisis, it is time for the
country’s financial sector players to quickly find ways of restoring
confidence in this critical sector. Banks are central to the well-being of
any economy, and so any whiff of bad news in the sector greatly impairs
growth.

Over the past three months, the sector was mired in a severe cash crunch
that disrupted normal business transactions, while compounding the country’s
economic woes.
Banks said they were not getting enough cash from the Reserve Bank of
Zimbabwe (RBZ) to meet the daily requirements of the public. The RBZ blamed
the banks for hoarding cash in their vaults and accused them of being in an
unholy alliance with “cash barons” moving huge sums of money from the
banking sector to fund illegal black market transactions.
Huge sums of money injected into the system were said by the central bank to
be unaccounted for.
The ordinary folks bore the brunt of the cash crisis, as they were unable to
withdraw money for day-to-day transactions. This made them fume at the
country’s banking system as it created enormous inconvenience and wasted too
much of their precious time.
The situation had been made even more desperate by the fact that the
electronic payment system, overstretched by an unexpected surge in demand,
had crumbled.
All these problems only helped to entrench public discomfort with banking,
and, as newspaper reports suggested, a large number of people have vowed not
to deposit their money into banks again owing to the pain they endured to
get it out in the past three months.
As a result, money will only trickle into personal bank accounts when
employers pay individuals their monthly salaries. But once that money is
withdrawn, it might not find its way back into the system.
The Real Time Gross Settlement (RTGS) system is reportedly grid locked and
users of this electronic method of settling transactions complain that it is
now taking weeks for money transfers to get into receiving accounts.
RTGS transactions should indeed be real time, and in other countries, it
takes the moment the transfer is made for the other account to reflect a
deposit.
In Zimbabwe, it used to take a single day, but the situation is
deteriorating as fast as the economy is tumbling.
Many have had to watch close friends and relatives die because they could
not withdraw money from their banks because of the cash shortages.
Service providers, including retailers, have started declining RTGS
transfers because of the breakdown in the system.
Cheques have also ceased to be a mode of payment of choice due to the
unrealistic limits on their face value. This is besides the fact that
cheques can bounce and result in the payee incurring a heavy penalty for the
dishonoured cheque.
Retailers are increasingly demanding cash for goods, and the unreliability
of the point of sale (POS) terminals has worsened the demand for cash.
Moreover, most retail outlets do not have POS terminals for electronic
payments.
The power and telecommunications crisis has also meant that POS terminals
are down most of the time.
Telecommunications link the POS terminals with banking institutions and this
also depends to a large extent on the availability of power. This
essentially means that the demand for cash will remain high, and as long as
the banking public is not assured that they will be able to withdraw their
money when they require it, there will be no incentive to join the long
queues for deposits to surrender their money into the banks’ vaults.
Besides, it is not worth the trouble to put money in the banking system when
inflation is on the rampage, and the economy largely informal.
Interest paid for deposits while being too insignificant, pales against the
hefty service charges levied on accounts by banks. In fact, if it will cost
someone to deposit cash into his or her bank account, why bother make the
deposit?
The truth of the matter is that people are only going to keep their accounts
to enable them to transact in situations where they cannot use cash, or
simply to receive income from their employers.
Banks would need to reassure the public that the situation has improved
permanently, with no possibility for a relapse. With inflation northward
bound, the RBZ’s money printing machine will soon be overwhelmed by the
excessive demand, thereby plunging the sector into another cash crunch.
The central bank cannot afford being caught flat-footed again. The choices
are simple: either to continue printing higher denominated bearer cheques,
lop off zeros or dollarise the economy.
Banks should also ensure that depositors are able to withdraw their money
when they need it, without queuing for long hours. The banks should start
paying reasonable interest on deposits to encourage people to keep their
money in the banking system.
There are issues they need to agree on with their regulators to ensure this.
Some of these issues include lowering of thresholds for statutory reserves
so that the banks have a wider pool of resources to sweat on the market and
earn enough to pay depositors meaningful interest.
As it were, the ball is in the bankers’ court.


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Thoroughly disgusted by ZRP duplicity

FinGaz

Matters Legal with Vote Muza
Force has transformed itself into instrument
of violence
Writing about events on the legal front is not
easy business because there is just so much to report and comment about.
Legal news is bountiful indeed.

What with so many dramas daily unfolding in
our courts, in business, our bad national politics, corruption scandals and
the unofficial award winning ‘newsmaker’ of recent times — the Zimbabwe
Republic Police?
However, what is disturbing is that with each
subject that I choose to write about, I always find myself with very little
or no positive news and comment to pass chiefly because there is hardly any
good happening across the entire spectrum of our legal world. Invariably,
and in one way or the other, I always find myself indulging in some form of
repetition each time I state the common evils besetting our erstwhile
reputable and credible legal system. For a columnist like me, the danger of
falling into episodes of repetition may lead to monotony and ultimately —
reader alienation, to the obvious detriment of one’s literary reputation.
Therefore, balancing the competing interests of satisfying reader’s
expectations and at the same time remaining relevant in one’s writings is a
delicate process that needs to be handled carefully.
Given that there is very little good to talk
or write about due to our bad politics that have given birth to bad
economics and a wide array of other nasty things manifesting themselves
everywhere, getting repetitious becomes unavoidable. After all, as in poetry
and music repetitions may at times sooth and thrill the mind and body.
Under this column however, revisiting
important subjects may be done to archive better understanding and possible
cooperation of those we have entrusted with power but have a tendency to
abuse it and indulge in embezzlement if not properly monitored.
The manner in which senior ruling party
politicians, who the public have entrusted with power to lead and who
articulate government policy refuse to give in to the majority’s demand for
the return to normalcy is evidence that they are insensitive and deeply
engrossed in their power retention schemes. Accordingly, under these
circumstances, it becomes necessary to be repetitive, monotonous and
sonorous for, who knows, maybe one day they will lend an ear to our pleas
for economic and social justice. If need be, and for as long as space
provides , I shall continue to lament and expose the decadence now deeply
rooted in our legal system that has to a large extent undermined people’s
long cherished dream of a rights conscious and corruption free society.
This week, it is my intention to revisit the
subject of our Bill of Rights albeit in a brief manner to register my
disgust with the manner in which the Zimbabwe Republic Police continues to
work hard to frustrate the public’s right to freely associate and express
themselves as enshrined in our constitution. A deeply worrying event that
happened last week, where the MDC’s attempt to protest government’s failures
was violently crushed by ZRP — a force that has lately transformed itself
into a notorious instrument of violence, left me in no doubt that the road
in search of our long lost rule of law shall be long, painstaking, bruising
and with many casualties. And for as long as those entrusted with power
continue to abuse it keeping justice and prosperity locked in their pockets
and dishing it when it suits them, then again, we should forget about any
chance of getting a properly functioning country any time soon.
Two months ago, a portion of liberation war
veterans affiliated to the ruling party began a populist orgy of countrywide
marches in support of the so called “endorsement” of President Mugabe as the
ruling party’s candidate for the forthcoming presidential elections. With
full support of law enforcement agents and unhindered by any force, their
marches went ahead with gusto, culminating in the so called “million man
march”. The marchers were simply doing what the constitution of Zimbabwe
allows them to do — and that is to freely associate and express oneself
within the confines of law as an expression of freedom that every human
being deserves. In other words, it is a fundamental human right that
everyone, and especially legitimate political organisations should be
allowed to freely exercise in a country with a modern constitution like
ours.
Given that this right is well enshrined in our
constitution’s Bill of Rights, itself a sacrosanct component of the supreme
law, citizens intending to exercise this right must not be denied such a
right, unless it is more than necessary to do so. By saying this, I am not
attempting to introduce a new lecture in constitutional law to our esteemed
politicians, but am talking about something they are fully aware of, but
that they deliberately perpetuate in furtherance of their otherwise
dwindling political careers.
In a clear case of converting this basic right
into a privilege, and selective application of the law, a few months later,
the MDC’s attempt to launch its own march, dubbed the “freedom march” was
thwarted by the Zimbabwe Republic Police for reasons that are to say the
least extremely absurd and grossly malicious. The manner in which marchers
were violently dispersed leaving a good number of them nursing injuries
reminds me of the March 11, 2007 events, as well as the bashing of legal
practitioners in the same year.
What these well recorded events confirm is
that our government is not ready for true democracy. It does not stomach any
criticism of its policies and is only happy to have a society that is docile
and conformist. Yet, the natural order of things, and also the legal systems
deliberately put in place dictate that the dialectics of dissent and
conformism must be essential ingredients that drive society’s anywhere.
With elections looming and also within the
context of the SADC brokered negotiations, the public’s expectation for a
free and fair election that had begun to rise together with renewed
confidence for a return to normalcy this year was all futile hope. The
government has to do much more to convince the world that it is committed to
the ideals of true freedom that those who fought in the liberation struggle
sacrificed their lives for.

Vote Muza is partner at Muza & Nyapadi Legal
Practitioners
Email: muzalaw@yahoo.co.uk


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Official Dollarisation - Can Country Really Do It?



Financial Gazette (Harare)

COLUMN
31 January 2008
Posted to the web 31 January 2008

Terrence Kairiza
Harare

Current discourse on Zimbabwe's monetary problems seems to be skewed towards
official dollarisation as a policy prescription.

This reflects the growing sentiment that the RBZ lacks the wherewithal to
remedy the collapse of the monetary system characterised by hyperinflation,
local currency overvaluation and growing unofficial dollarisation, which
renders monetary policy paralysis. The impulse for official dollarisation
stems from a general loss of confidence in the RBZ, thus some analysts feel
that the RBZ can only obtain monetary and economic stability by importing it
from another country.

Though mainstream debate is fairly comprehensive about the purported
benefits and costs of official dollarisation, the fundamental constructs
that underlie official dollarisation as a policy prescription for Zimbabwe
still remain to be made clear.

Official dollarisation implies the scenario whereby foreign currency is
granted the exclusive or predominant status as legal tender. Essentially, it
involves the institution of only two things. Firstly, the domestic monetary
base has to be redeemed for foreign currency at some predetermined
conversion rate; secondly, all standing contracts that are denominated in
domestic currency also have to be converted to foreign currency at some
predetermined parity.

Theoretically, official dollarisation is very easy to implement. Three
questions arise however, (without going into the merits and demerits of
dollarisation) pertaining to the feasibility of this scheme for Zimbabwe.

Firstly; Does the Zimbabwean government posses sufficient foreign reserves
to undertake official dollarization? This question is critical if Zimbabwe
seeks to dollarise unilaterally. If Zimbabwe wants to enter into a
negotiated solution with the anchor country the issue will not be very
relevant because the anchor country can provide the initial foreign currency
endowment for dollarisation (as the ECB did for Kosovo). The latter route
however, is unlikely to materialise in practice as any prudent anchor
country is bound to impose political pre-conditions, which are most likely
to be rejected by the Zimbabwean government.

It is apparent to all and sundry that the RBZ does not have sufficient
foreign currency reserves to convert all its liabilities (the domestic
monetary base) into foreign currency. This factor alone rules out unilateral
official dollarisation as a policy option for Zimbabwe. To stretch the
debate, say the country could somehow get the initial foreign currency
endowment from somewhere (say from a multilateral financial institution),
this begs the question: Which currency should be adopted as the anchor
currency?

Though official dollarisation is open on the number of foreign currencies to
be awarded the status of legal tender, it is reasonable to adjudge that the
currency that is most likely to be an anchor is the one that already enjoys
widespread circulation unofficially as this limits conversion costs. The two
currencies that enjoy the highest circulation unofficially in Zimbabwe are
the USD and the ZAR. In this consideration, it is imperative to examine the
history and robustness of these two currencies.

South Africa maintains a floating exchange rate regime and from 1994 the
Rand has been subject to periodic crises. Between April and August 1998, the
Rand depreciated 28% in nominal terms against the USD and in 2001 it
depreciated 26% against the USD. Though the inflation history of the Rand
has been admirable (by developing country standards), averaging 5.4% for the
period to 2004, the Rand remains unstable though maturing. Bearing this in
mind Zimbabwe would be advised to adopt a more stable anchor currency, any
negotiation pertaining to the Rand has to revolve around some form of
currency union.

This brings us to the greenback. Little doubts exist over the reputability
of the USD: Over the past 30 years there has not been very large currency
depreciations or high inflation in the US.

Thus given, it would be advisable on economic grounds for Zimbabwe to adopt
the USD as the anchor currency, however it would not be impudent to
conjecture on the basis of the political relations between the two
countries, that the US would not give Zimbabwe the initial USD endowment to
undertake official dollarization. The source of the initial endowment
notwithstanding, what is the attitude of the anchor country about the
adoption of its currency?

Theoretically there is nothing that can prevent a country with sufficient
reserves from dollarizing if it so desires. There is a possibility, however
remote, that the anchor country can force Zimbabwe into a liquidity squeeze
if it so desires as some sort of political pressure. In 1987 Panama was
virtually demonetised and banks went bust when the US Fed cut all the
liquidity lines into Panama as part of the Reagan administration punitive
measures against the country's de facto leader General Manuel Noriega.

These questions rule out official dollarization as a policy option in terms
of feasibility. That notwithstanding, debate on official dollarization
should progress from the standard benefits and costs to the idiosyncrasies
of the Zimbabwean meltdown. The fact that official dollarization cannot be
disbanded after implementation indicates that it should only be instituted
after fully exploring other alternative solutions like comprehensive
(monetary, fiscal and institutional) reforms that took place elsewhere in
countries that successfully ended hyperinflation like Brazil, Israel etc.

The fact that dollarization is akin to union of two countries also indicates
that it is pertinent that such an undertaking be discussed in the light of a
political alternative. How is the governance of this 'suprastate' going to
be like? What will be the role of national governments? How will the
monetary policy be conducted for the whole region? And how is the banking
supervision going to be conducted? These are just some of the very relevant
questions that the political alternative would seek to answer.

The issue of insufficient reserves and the current political climate makes
it impossible to unilaterally implement official dollarization in Zimbabwe
even in the short run analysis. If this scheme is going to be implemented it
has to be through dialogue with the anchor country. In the final analysis it
will have to be a political outcome, wherein this brings in a vexation; how
can a government that has displayed a wanton disregard of its own policies
to turn around the economy import discipline from another?

Terrence Kairiza is a member of the Zimbabwe Economics Society.


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Mozambique Agrees to Resume Power Supplies



Financial Gazette (Harare)

31 January 2008
Posted to the web 31 January 2008

Kumbirai Mafunda
Harare

MOZAMBIQUE'S Hidroelectrica de Cahora Bassa (HCB), which cut power supplies
to Zimbabwe on January 1, has agreed to resume supplies after government
agreed to settle the outstanding debt through weekly payments of US$500 000.

ZESA Holdings chief executive officer Ben Rafemoyo, said US$10 million of
the debt had been paid off, and was hoping "to resolve our issues with the
supplier to restore supplies" into the country, which he said was currently
producing half of its own power requirements.

ZESA currently owes HCB US$16 million for power imports. The latest
agreement means it will take ZESA at least eight months to fully settle the
debt to HCB.

HCB suspended power supplies to the country early this month after ZESA
failed to settle an outstanding US$26 million debt by December. The payment
problems had made it difficult for Zimbabwe to negotiate a fresh power
supply contract with HCB for the current year.

It was however, still unclear if the new deal had resulted in the renewal of
the power supply agreement.

The impasse over power supplies had been broken after a
government-to-government discussion between Mozambique and Zimbabwe, and
payment guarantees from the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe.

"We have already agreed to ring fence it (debt). We are already servicing
it," a source told The Financial Gazette.

HCB has now agreed to increase its power exports to Zimbabwe to 200MW from
100MW.

ZESA, which as of last week was receiving 100MW from HCB, would begin
accessing the other 100MW once the vandalised towers, which link Harare and
Mozambique, have been repaired.

The same grid is also used for power supplies from Mozambique to
neighbouring South Africa and Botswana.

A ZESA official was optimistic that the power utility would start "wheeling"
the 100MW from HCB "soon".


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FinGaz Letters

Nation-building impossible when some are marginalised

EDITOR — Since its December 27th general election, Kenya has been
experiencing a wave of political conflicts that should serve as a lesson to
Zimbabwe’s pro-democracy movement, as these problems are rooted in the same
democratic deficit our leaders are accused of.
Much of the media coverage on Kenya seems to have been devoted to focusing
on the ensuing violence with very marginal efforts being made to investigate
issues at the centre of this conflict: absence of political democratic
institutions and the shortfalls of ‘executive’ fundamentalism.
With Zimbabwe facing harmonised elections in March, a look into the Kenyan
scenario would be helpful in order to build urgency, around a proper
constitutional reform process, whose outcome will insulate Zimbabwe from the
problems Kenyans are going through and those experienced in past elections.
Since the Kenyan election, over a thousand people have lost their lives and
250 000 more have been displaced. As in most post-colonial conflicts, these
tensions have taken an ugly ethno-tribal character.
The US ambassador to Kenya, Michael Rannesberger, was quoted saying whoever
won the election, did so by a margin of between 23 000 to 100 000 votes. And
that is where part of the problem lies and why building constitutional
frameworks that harness the spirit of nation building is important.
Kenya, like Zimbabwe, had its ‘Lancaster House’ Constitution drawn in 1963
as a settlement document when the British colonists were withdrawing from
the territory to allow for Kenya’s independence.
Consequently, this constitution, now with its fair share of amendments, has
not fared well for a transformational state, thus allowing dictatorial
tendencies to set in.
The Daniel Arap Moi regime mastered repression under the shoulder of
constitutional righteousness. In relation to elections, state administration
and governance, Kenya has a winner-takes-all electoral system.
This system is what we have in Zimbabwe. What this means is that, even if
one wins an election by one vote, the opinions of the section of the voters
who would have lost will not find political representation or expression.
It is a system that excludes ‘losers’ and, as we are learning from Kenya, a
base for fuelling other deep-seated tensions and questions to do with the
legitimacy of the winner as a representative of all interest groups, if
voting patterns are also put into consideration. Its Presidential
parliamentary system places more power in the executive, including power to
legislate.
The executive has a monopoly over national resource distribution, with the
legislature being reduced to a powerless club of sessional critics or
patronage driven loyalists.
With a Constitution that bestows enormous powers on the executive and
because there are no constitutional provisions to ensure equitable
distribution of the country’s resources, perceived loss of the vote carries
a heavy meaning for those who lose.
In regions and among groups perceived to be less prioritised by the victors,
this arrangement fuels anger. It means another five years of being isolated,
another five years of exclusion, another five years of poverty.
The disproportionate powers the executive has, compromised the others arms
of government. The legislature and judiciary become overly dependent on the
executive, undermining their role of providing checks and balances.
Executive accountability is eroded. Corruption and its attendant defence
systems set in; with regionalism and identity cleavages taking centre stage.
Regions or communities without a “representative” in power suffer.
Democratic transformation in Kenya, as in Zimbabwe, gained its momentum
through the demands for Constitutional reform, with Kibaki defeating Moi on
the banner of ‘a people driven Constitution’. Kenyans are yet to see it, two
Presidential terms down the line.
Most of those in civil society would be absorbed into the luxurious benefits
of the State and soon forget the principled demands of institutionalising
democracy, and facilitating the writing down by the people of a framework
under which they want to be governed — a Constitution.
The consequences are the disasters seen today: those who feel excluded and
watching their vote becoming meaningless are resorting to “all means
necessary” to reclaim the vote from the gutters. The death toll keeps rising
as neighbour turns against neighbour, and identity replaces value in
deciding who is a friend or foe.
The primacy of identity politics becomes breeding ground for the most
depraved tendencies. It fosters an identity-based nationalism, which
regresses democratic values necessary for nation building.
As we have seen in Kenya, electoral loss/victory soon takes the form of one
identity grouping having defeated the other and the nation dividing along
ethno-tribal lines. Ethnic identity is now equated with political identity.
Is Zimbabwe the next Kenya?
A similar threat confronts Zimbabwe, risking the negation of genuine
national debate on democratic transformation.
Given our history, and the need to foster a common identity in our
diversity, a political system and Constitutional framework, which allows for
this is critical.
The incumbent ruling party has set the country back into the
socio-psychology of identity in determining who can participate or not in
national discourse. Our white population has been effectively wiped out from
being Zimbabwean. Even in the most liberal of opposition spaces, they are
regarded with suspicion and are politely censored from making public
representations.
Zimbabweans of Indian descent have been purged from public political
participation. Among the black population, it has begun to matter whether
one is Zezuru, Karanga or Ndebele. As if this is not enough, gender, even
within these clusters of divisions, has been so entrenched as to qualify as
exclusion, with our women compatriots having to endure structural abuse to
assert the mere fact that they to are citizens.
Human character is secondary in the estimation of man and women. These
identities have also informed people’s perceptions of who is excluded or
included in the economic, social or political benefit — be they in the
patronage of the State, or in civil society and opposition or business.
The violence that is manifest in Kenya, though based on identity, is
reflective of failures in the country’s Constitution and institutions to be
responsive to the crises of nation building. Many Kenyans have doubts about
the validity of the country’s Constitution, especially the process under
which it was written.
This is of relevance to Zimbabwe, where sadly as in the Kenyan case, history
could be vengefully repeating itself. The MDC has consistently argued that a
new Constitution must be put in place before the elections.
Yet it seems to be doing everything to confirm its participation in the
electoral process before this key demand has been met. Gabriel Chaibva,
spokesperson of one faction of the MDC, in an interview with VOA is
categorical about participating in the March elections.
Nelson Chamisa, the spokesperson for the other faction, suggested the same
in his widely condemned rally speech where he threatened Kenyan style
protests should President Mugabe manipulate the vote.
Despite this grandstanding and pontificating about a new Constitution, the
MDC — in itself a product of the Constitutional movement — does not seem to
place value in the importance of a democratic, public participatory process
of Constitution making.
The Constitution MDC is fighting for in the talks is a product of ‘four wise
men’, determining the permanent fate of 13million of their fellow citizens!
The Constitution they are proposing has not been seen or shared by
Zimbabweans. Speaking during a visit to the US late last year, leader of one
of the factions, Morgan Tsvangirai, is quoted in an interview suggesting
that ‘we have graduated from process’, in deviation from the principles.
Welshman Ncube in his speech to Parliament in support of the widely
condemned 18th amendment to the Constitution of Zimbabwe explained at length
that the principles of an ‘open, transparent and participatory approach in
Constitution making were not a ‘fundamentalist decree’.
On January 3, Morgan Tsvangirai published an opinion piece suggesting that a
Transitional Constitution had been finalised, with the sticking point being
that of implementation. The nation or even members of the MDC are yet to see
it. Our experience has been a bitter one: reforms made in the dark,
excluding national dialogue are partly the reason why we are where we are
today: a reason for us to be very afraid of the Kenyan ‘demons’ or better
still of being ‘kibakised’.
But what is even more frightening, if it is to be believed, is the
revelation by Nathaniel Manheru a columnist for government controlled Herald
who wrote in last Saturday’s edition that the so called ‘transitional’
constitution agreed by ZANU-PF and the MDC is nothing more than the 2000
government draft that was voted against in the referendum.
Countries such as South Africa do offer learning curves on national
reconstruction. Emerging from its brutal past, like the rest of
post-colonial Africa, South Africa underwent a process of Constitutional
building that pitched public participation at the centre of Constitutional
development.
Public opinion and debate would take place, with its Constitutional
Assembly, civil society and political parties opening the nation to dialogue
with itself. What resulted was amongst other things, an electoral and
political system that is modestly inclusive, guaranteeing proportional
representation, and allowing all views brought to an electoral contest and
receiving electoral support, to find a measure of expression.
Greater devolution of power in provinces and local authorities have created
a system of greater accountability and service delivery. There is freedom of
electoral contest and democratic expression.
The result has been limited violent contestation of election results and a
harmonious existence of political formations and civic groups despite their
competing ideologies or perspectives. Those who lose an election will still
salvage their proportional representation of the vote.
The National Constitutional Assembly (NCA) has advocated for a similar
system of Constitution making based primarily on the principles of ‘public
participation, openness and transparency’. Its 2001 draft addresses some of
the key issues of proportional representation and institutions that
safeguard democracy:Electoral Commission, Human Rights Commission, Gender
Commission etc. The draft also argues for a strong legislature and judiciary
and the effective separation of powers between the varying arms of the
State. Parliament, elected through a mixed system of constituency based and
party-proportional based representation would elect the leader of government
who would account to it.
This system was drawn out of views gathered from ordinary Zimbabweans, by
both the NCA and the Constitutional Commission. The government draft
presented to the referendum in 2000 ignored all these views, and was wisely
rejected.
In arguing that elections should be deferred until such a time as there is a
Constitutional and electoral framework, the NCA aims to pre-empt the
possibility of national degeneration.
The Kenyan scenario points to the things we can avoid and toward the
importance of working on developing and putting in place structural systems
that ensure barbarism and exclusion are not part of our politics and
national life.
The democracy movement must also learn that shortcuts to freedom lead to
spurious regimes and the entrenchment of anti-democratic practices. The MDC,
carrying with it the mantle of the nation’s hope for change, must rethink
its options.
The current opportunism and intellectual laziness that is becoming so
pervasive should be stopped and give way to the principled call for a just
and free nation.

Tapera Kapuya
Harare
-------------
†Tsvangirai the only brave man in Zim

EDITOR – The letter on last week’s Readers’ Forum “Broad coalition, not
Makoni, only hope for winning polls,” refers.
It is quite disturbing to learn that people still do not realise and cannot
see what Morgan Tsvangirai has done to change for the better the political
situation in Zimbabwe.
All the attention Zimbabwe is getting and all Tsvangirai’s contributions
towards restoring democracy in Zimbabwe are still not being recognised.
Whether you like him or not, that man has managed to keep the politics in
Zimbabwe in the spotlight, which is helping in preventing (President) Mugabe
from declaring himself a life President.
In my opinion, Tsvangirai is the only brave man in Zimbabwe. Change is
coming soon, through Tsvangirai’s efforts, whether he is president or not.

Jean
USA

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