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Watchdog warns on flaws in new constitution

http://www.bdlive.co.za

BY KHULEKANI MAGUBANE, 01 FEBRUARY 2013, 09:10

A DAMNING report by international pressure group Human Rights Watch,
launched in Johannesburg on Thursday, paints a bleak picture of Zimbabwe’s
chances of holding free, fair and peaceful elections this year.

South Africa has a role in ensuring national elections in the country are
fair and transparent, with President Jacob Zuma a facilitator of the polls.
A new constitution drafted last year is due for referendum and parliamentary
review in the coming weeks.

But Human Rights Watch’s African Advocacy director Tiseke Kasambala warned
that a provision for the Zimbabwean diaspora to vote was flawed as few of
the millions of Zimbabweans abroad — for security and financial reasons —
could make the required trip home to vote. "I don’t think it’s realistic to
expect Zimbabweans to travel (back) to vote because many of them … are
struggling and cannot afford to go back.

"It’s important to note in the past Zimbabwean armed forces and Zanu (PF)
members abroad have been allowed to vote," Ms Kasambala said.

Dual citizenship remains contentious. In an exclusive interview with
Business Day this week Zimbabwe’s Minister of State Enterprises and
Parastatals and MDC member Gorden Moyo said that while the terms of dual
citizenship were not ideal for diaspora Zimbabweans, he was confident the
country could hold free and fair elections this year.

Human Rights Watch’s South Africa director Cameron Lee Jacobs said Nkosozana
Dlamini-Zuma, in her capacity as African Union (AU) commission chairwoman,
should push South Africa for a more forthright and less erratic position on
human rights in Zimbabwe.


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Early poll ‘rigging’ feared with soldier voter registration exercise

http://www.swradioafrica.com/

By Alex Bell
01 February 2013

An exercise to register soldiers and police officers in certain parts of the
country is raising fears that vote rigging is already underway, ahead of
elections expected this year.

Mobile registration services have been launched in and around Bulawayo by
the Registrar General’s office, with registration points located in
Nyamandlovu, Umguza and other districts.

This week hundreds of soldiers and police officials were bussed into these
areas for registration. SW Radio Africa’s Bulawayo correspondent Lionel
Saungweme reported that this service has so far only been offered to members
of the security forces.

“The concern now from people here is that while it looks like a noble thing,
these are people (soldiers) who are usually forced by their superiors to
vote for a particular party,” Saungweme said.

He said that in Umguza constituency, the stronghold of ZANU PF Minister
Obert Mpofu, the MDC-T would never have a chance of winning in elections
because of the concentration of military barracks and police units there. He
said, “all these people are being ordered to vote for ZANU PF.”

“They will be told how to vote come election time, so it means the election
is already being rigged,” Saungweme said.

This report has been backed up by the Zimbabwe Independent which this week
also reported on a police exercise to actively campaign for ZANU PF ahead of
the elections.

The paper reported that in recent weeks police commanders have been touring
police stations countrywide urging officers, their spouses and everyone else
to register for elections and vote ZANU PF. The paper quoted unnamed police
sources who said the commanders were following orders given by Commissioner
General Augustine Chihuri in December.


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COPAC endorses draft charter

http://www.swradioafrica.com

By Staff Writer
01 February 2013

The Constitution Parliamentary Select Committee (COPAC) finally adopted the
draft charter on Thursday. It will be presented to parliament next week for
debate.

COPAC co-chairs Douglas Mwonzora (MDC-T) and Paul Mangwana (ZANU PF) told
journalists in Harare that once the report is adopted by the House of
Assembly, a publicity exercise to inform and educate Zimbabweans on the
contents of the draft will be launched.

Mwonzora told SW Radio Africa that the draft constitution will be printed in
all the eleven official languages and also in Braille, for distribution
nationwide.

This process is expected to take a month after which the GPA principals will
announce a date for the holding of a referendum. All the parties have
endorsed the draft and are expected to campaign for a ‘Yes’ at the
referendum.


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US ambassador raises concern over election legitimacy

http://mg.co.za/

01 FEB 2013 11:53 - RAY NDLOVU

Three months into his deployment to Zimbabwe, United States ambassador David
Bruce Wharton is keeping a close eye on Zimbabwe's political turmoil.

The Mail & Guardian spoke to Wharton about the imminent constitutional
referendum, elections, the indigenisation programme and US sanctions.

How will the US seek to influence the elections, if at all, so as to avoid
violent clashes witnessed between Zanu-PF and the Movement for Democratic
Change in 2008?

The results of the elections are a matter for the people of Zimbabwe alone
to determine. As a friend of the Zimbabwean people, the US will engage
broadly to advocate that the conduct of those elections is transparent and
non-violent, and that the results are honoured.

The credibility of the results will be judged against the SADC election
guidelines and will include the atmospherics of the campaign, not just the
conduct of election day.

We are concerned by the deployment of Zimbabwe Defence Forces troops
throughout the country on nominal "administrative service" duty that may
seek to influence how communities will vote.

We are also concerned that elements of the state have commenced with a
concerted campaign to intimidate civil society and that the state-run media
and various other state institutions show a consistent pattern of bias in
favour of one particular party.

If these trends continue, it will be difficult to pronounce the declared
winner "legitimate".

What is the US's assessment of the unity government?
The transitional government has brought much-needed stability to the
country. It has prevented any side from seizing the political and economic
agenda and it has also forced all parties in the government to engage with
one another and to govern in a way that addresses the needs of all
Zimbabweans, not just those from a "winning" party.

What is the role of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and
the African Union (AU) in the country's politics?
SADC and the AU are key guarantors of the Global Political Agreement. They
have proven effective in urging the parties to the GPA to find compromise
and engage across party lines to bring the constitution-making process
towards conclusion and to establish a road map to elections.

Robust SADC and AU election observer missions will be critical to
determining the credibility of the coming referendum and elections. If
violence, intimidation or departures from the rule of law dominate these
processes, it will be incumbent upon these bodies to deny legitimacy to the
claimed winner.

SADC has the most at stake [when it comes to ensuring] a stable and
prosperous Zimbabwe and therefore must be in the lead in working with
Zimbabwe on a solution that brings the country back to a path of stability
and prosperity. The US views itself as a partner of the people of Zimbabwe
and seeks to support SADC in this effort.

How does the US view the indigenisation programme?
Zimbabwe's history has been repeatedly punctuated by inequity. Concerted
actions are clearly needed to level the economic playing field and to
empower all Zimbabweans to seize the full array of opportunities to improve
their future.

To the extent that indigenisation creates sustainable economic opportunities
and growth for those long oppressed, we understand its importance.

We also believe that international investors will need clear, consistent
rules and standards, equitably applied, before they will begin to make an
investment in Zimbabwe.

Does the empowerment policy discourage US investors?
American firms have no problem with empowerment or joint ventures with local
partners.

American investors, however, have expressed concern about uncertainty and
inconsistency in the application of the indigenisation law.

Until there is a consistent application of the law and a demonstrated
commitment to protect property rights in Zimbabwe, US businesses may remain
interested but unlikely to put investments at risk.

The MDC is now making calls for sanctions against President Robert Mugabe to
be removed. Will the US heed such calls?
The US-imposed targeted sanctions are on those individuals and firms
involved in, or enabling, the undermining of Zimbabwe's democratic
institutions and rule of law.

We imposed those restrictions based on actions on the ground in Zimbabwe and
in response to the principles and values that guide US foreign policy.

Once dynamics on the ground demonstrate that state institutions are no
longer run in a partisan manner, the rule of law is no longer biased in
favour of one political orientation and the rights of the people are
respected, there will be no further grounds for maintaining those sanctions.
We [the US] have demonstrated fairness and evidence-based decisions in our
handling of the Zimbabwe issue as chair of the Kimberley Process last year,
and we have shown tangibly in Burma that we are prepared to recognise and
respond positively to real reforms.

We hope that the conduct of the coming elections will provide the grounds to
lead us to remove all restrictions on Zimbabwe and its leaders.


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Security Chiefs Delve Into Politics, Back Mugabe

http://www.voazimbabwe.com

Blessing Zulu
31.01.2013

WASHINGTON — President Robert Mugabe and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai
have been urged to rein-in senior officers in the police, the army and the
air force ahead of crucial elections that are expected to be called some
time this year to avoid a repeat of the bloodshed that characterized the
2008 poll.

The call comes from the Zimbabwe Democracy Institute (ZDI) which has
tarbulated instances in which senior officers have been making statements
the ZDI say can inflame the political situation in the country.

This follows reports that Police Commissioner General Augustine Chihuri
recently urged the wives of senior officers to "remain patriotic and vote
Zanu-PF" in the coming polls.

Zanu-PF officials, led by administration secretary Didymus Mutasa, have
supported the involvement of the security forces in politics saying they
belong to the party since the majority of them are war veterans.

Multiple Zanu-PF sources told VOA that an unprecedented number of serving
senior army and retired officers, police and air force and the central
intelligence operatives, are seeking to run for parliamentary seats and will
be going through the party’s primary elections scheduled for February.

It is not clear if the serving officers will resign from active service. But
Assistant Police Commissioner Everisto Pfumvuti, commanding the Support
Unit, has confirmed that he has intentions to participate in the Zanu-PF
primary elections in Mutoko, Mashonaland East.

There are reports that he is also forcing police and ZNA officers in Mutoko
South to register to vote.

Pfumvuti has, however, dismissed the allegations as the work of his enemies.
Director Pedzisayi Ruhannya of the ZDI says partisan remarks by Chihuri are
disturbing and show security sector reform has failed.


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Apathy greets news of a new Zimbabwe constitution

http://mg.co.za

01 FEB 2013 00:00 - BLESSING-MILES TENDI

Zimbabwe's warring political leaders have agreed on a constitutional
compromise, starting a process that is expected to end in elections this
year.

A referendum on a new Constitution has long been a prerequisite for staging
a vote, but full details of the compromise are yet to be made public. The
referendum date is set to be announced soon and elections will follow.

But, instead of a lively public interest in the winding up of the
Constitution and the prospect of elections, Zimbabweans are apathetic. The
political bickering and power games that characterised the drafting of the
Constitution since 2009 have engendered indifference.

Following the outcome of a similar situation in Kenya, some analysts are
even sceptical about elections taking place this year. Kenyan political
parties, like their Zimbabwean counterparts, entered a power-sharing
government after a violent and disputed election in 2007. As in Zimbabwe,
the completion of constitutional reform before new elections was important.
Kenya's drafting of a new Constitution proceeded rapidly and with some
consensus, in sharp contrast to Zimbabwe. However, the aligning of old laws
with the new Kenyan Constitution was hampered by bickering politicians,
taking two years to complete and forcing a delay of elections until March
this year.

Ibbo Mandaza, a political analyst at Sapes Trust, believes that enduring
political differences between Zimbabwe's major parties and the
practicalities of harmonising old laws with the new Constitution will result
in a repeat of the Kenyan scenario, thereby ruling out elections in Zimbabwe
this year, which will result in even greater apathy.

There is also growing disaffection in urban areas about Prime Minister
Morgan Tsvangirai's Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), which will harm
the MDC's chances, because the urban constituencies are its traditional
electoral stronghold. Tsvangirai, who rose to prominence in the 1990s as
secretary general of the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Union, successfully
challenged President Robert Mugabe's Zanu-PF government on a range of social
and economic policies that undermined urban labour. But since Tsvangirai
joined Mugabe in a power-sharing government in 2009, his party's relations
with urban workers have slowly broken down. A good example of this is the
civil servants' long-running, futile negotiations with the public service
ministry, which is controlled by the MDC, over wages and improved working
conditions. Although a 5% pay increase promised last year has failed to
materialise, MDC ministers have been lobbying for a $21 000 housing
allowance.

An MDC Cabinet member, who asked not to be named, said: "We have lost our
virginity, our innocence, our high moral ground. At the last Cabinet meeting
of 2012, MDC ministers put up a huge fight for an unwarranted $21 000
housing allowance per Cabinet member. Tendai Biti [the finance minister] was
saying, how do we justify this given that we are not going to increase civil
servants' salaries? My colleagues in the MDC came up with clever ideas for
hiding the housing allowance so the public will not know.

"What was shocking is that only one Zanu-PF minister spoke forcefully for
the allowance. The real pressure came from my people."

Blessing-Miles Tendi is the author of Making History in Mugabe's Zimbabwe:
Politics, Intellectuals and the Media and a politics lecturer in Oxford
University's department of international development


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Corruption feeds on Zimbabwe's poor

http://www.irinnews.org/
ZVIMBA, 1 February 2013 (IRIN) - Suffering severe chest pains, Rosina Chataika, 57, was recently ferried 70km from her rural home in Zvimba Distict to Parirenyatwa Hospital in Zimbabwe’s capital, Harare.

The consulting doctor said a blood test was required for a diagnosis, but for three days no test was performed, and her condition worsened. Chataika complained to the ward’s male nurse, who asked her for a US$50 payment to “jump the queue”.

Her son, a bricklayer in the small town of Chegutu, about 120km from the capital, had to beg relatives for the bribe money. Chataika’s blood sample was taken only after the nurse was paid.

Three months after being discharged, she was diagnosed with cervical cancer. She also sits on a $600 medical bill for her two-week hospital stay, which she cannot afford to settle.

“If we had not managed to raise that $50, I would have probably died. For the days I was in hospital, I learned that the nurse demanded money from many other desperate and poor patients who could not immediately get the services they wanted. [He] could probably be getting rich at the expense of the sick and poor,” she told IRIN.

Several nurses told Chataika that the male nurse worked in tandem with doctors to provide preferential treatment at a cost. “The nurses, messengers and some doctors are demanding money to ensure that admitted patients get such things as medication. I am sure there are many people who are dying because they cannot pay the bribes,” she said.

Chataika’s experience is far from unique. The 2012 Corruption Perceptions Index, by Transparency International, ranks Zimbabwe at 163 out of 174 countries surveyed - with number 174, Somalia, perceived as
the most corrupt. Zimbabwe’s position on the index has fallen from 154 in 2011.

Transparency International Zimbabwe (TIZ) said in December 2012, “Corruption amounts to a dirty tax, and the poor and most vulnerable are its primary victims, especially [those in] the rural and marginalized communities.”

TIZ said corruption was particularly rampant within the education, health, mining, sports, judicial and agriculture sectors and was becoming ingrained within the society.

Sexual favours

Not all bribes are paid with cash.

Sekai Chinouriri, 35, a divorced mother of two from Seke District, was denied a plot on communal land because she refused to provide the headman with sexual favours.


"I desperately need money, yet I cannot entertain the idea of getting into commercial sex"
“The headman wanted me to have sex with him before he would give me the plot, which I need to grow vegetables for sale and to raise money to fend for my children and pay their fees. When my husband went away, I had to go and live with my elderly parents, but we are already a burden to them.

“Just because I won’t give the village head the sexual favours he demanded, my family will have to beg for food and money, and that is not fair. I desperately need money, yet I cannot entertain the idea of getting into commercial sex,” she told IRIN.

Chinouriri says the headman also demands villagers give him a cut of donor food aid in order to remain on the beneficiaries’ list. “We are afraid to report him because we will be victimized,” she said.

Powerless

James Karima, 25, from Harare, is struggling to be admitted to a teacher training college – even though he has the qualifications - because he cannot afford the $500 bribe for admittance.

“I had better grades at A-level than many people who have been admitted by the colleges. They managed to raise the money to give lecturers and college staff, but I have no brother or relative to help me,” Karima told IRIN. “Corruption in Zimbabwe is making some poor people get rich, and the rich, richer, while the majority of the poor are getting poorer.”

Willus Madzimure, a member of parliament and chairperson of the Zimbabwe chapter of the African Parliamentarians Network Against Corruption, told IRIN poverty also meant powerlessness.

“They are the last in the queue and thus always miss out on life-changing opportunities. In rural areas, traditional leaders are demanding about $300 or cattle for one to be given land, but where do these vulnerable people get the money or livestock from when they can’t even build a shelter?” he said.

Madzimure said the government’s anti-corruption “body has failed because it is influenced by politicians and does not have the money”.

[This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations]


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Governor offers Zimbabwe First Lady more farms

http://www.africareview.com

By KITSEPILE NYATHI in Harare | Friday, February 1 2013 at 12:13

Days after Zimbabwe's First Lady Grace Mugabe caused an outcry by taking
over a private farming estate, provincial governor has offered her more land
to expand her projects that include an orphanage and proposed university.

President Robert Mugabe’s wife recently took over 1,600 hectares of Mazowe
estate, which is owned by Interfresh, one of the biggest orange producers in
the country.

Speaking at the official opening of the Amai Grace Mugabe Junior School on
Thursday, Mashonaland Central governor Martin Dinha said they were not
ashamed to give the First Family vast tracts of land.

The family already runs the Grace Mugabe Children’s Home and Gushungo Dairy
Project on adjacent farms seized from white commercial farmers during the
government’s land reform programme.

They are also reported to own several farms across the country over and
above President Mugabe’s repeated threats to repossess land from multiple
farm owners.

Wifely dream

“I would like to thank you for building this school in Mazowe,” Mr Dinha
told the veteran ruler and his wife.

“We offered you land and we will continue to offer you land for other
projects if you want it.

“We will do it in broad daylight and we are not ashamed of it.

“Detractors can say what they want, they can write what they want but this
is our land in Mashonaland Central and we will do what we want with it.”

The school that has an initial enrolment of 100 pupils was built by the
Chinese.

President Mugabe said his wife had a dream to uplift the standards of
education in Zimbabwe, which boasts of the highest literacy rates in Africa.

“I want to quickly add that it is a happy day for our whole family, who have
followed and helped their dear mother as she determinedly pressed on with
the project that today is our pride,” he said.
“I can assure you that the First Lady invested large amounts of time and
study on this project.”

About 600 fulltime and seasonal workers will be left jobless after the
seizure of the Interfresh property.


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Cyanide found in Gwanda water

http://www.swradioafrica.com

By Violet Gonda
01 February 2013

Residents in Gwanda have been without water for at least two weeks after
cyanide, which can kill instantly if swallowed, was found in the town’s
river system.

Water Minister Sam Sipepa Nkomo confirmed that some rivers that supply water
to the dam in Gwanda were found with traces of cyanide. He said the deadly
chemical compound, which is used in the mining of gold, is being dumped by
gold-panners in the area, who have not been educated on how to treat waste.

He told SW Radio Africa: “I am not sure it was two weeks. I am sure it was
just a matter of days. There are some pockets of water that can be used to
supply Gwanda, it may not be sufficient, but I don’t believe it’s actually
correct that they have not had water for two weeks.”

But Gwanda Mayor Lionel DeNecker disagreed, saying there is a water crisis
in his town with some suburbs having no water for two to three weeks. He
accused the Zimbabwe National Water Authority of withholding information
from the public.

“In a situation like this, ZINWA has to come forth with information so that
the community would know as to what they are drinking. But when they
withhold that information and just make announcements it puts the lives of
the people of Gwanda at risk.”

The mayor said the water authority needs to start caring about the health of
the residents so that all stakeholders can take appropriate action.

Nkomo insisted the water is tested before it enters the treatment plant
making it “difficult for the contaminated water to pass through to people,
because cyanide can kill a human being.”

He added: “We would rather have people without water than allowing water
with cyanide to go through.”

The mayor said the minister’s comments show the problem with a centralized
system of government, where he is in Harare and does not always know what is
happening in Gwanda except the ‘misinformation’ that he receives from ZINWA.

DeNecker revealed that it was difficult to track how many people had drunk
the contaminated water as there are many people in Gwanda who access the
water directly from the river.

We were not able to reach ZINWA authorities for comment, but the water
authority’s Umzingwane Catchment manager, Engineer Tommy Rosen, is quoted in
the state controlled Herald newspaper saying: “Gwanda draws its water from
Blanket Dam but contamination has been found at Pickup Weir. For now it is
difficult to tell who is responsible for the contamination as it has not
been clearly proven.”

However, the water minister said the problem is being compounded by small
scale gold miners who need to be educated about the dangers of using
cyanide, especially in rivers that supply water to the population.

The mayor of Gwanda also said the problem is with ZINWA, which does not want
to leave the running of the water treatment plant in the hands of the local
authority, as is happening in many other towns.

“It is difficult for council to protect residents from the kind of water
that we get from ZINWA.” DeNecker added: “ZINWA should not be purifying
water on behalf of council because ultimately if residents get sick they don’t
go to ZINWA they come to council.”


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Zambia, Zimbabwe ready for mega tourism event

http://www.daily-mail.co.zm

Friday, 01 February 2013 18:49

From BRIAN MALAMA in MADRID

THE United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) yesterday declared
Zambia and Zimbabwe ready to host the 20th session of the general assembly
in Livingstone and Victoria Falls Town this August.

UNWTO secretary-general Taleb Rifai announced this here on Thursday during a
trilateral meeting.
“It is a great achievement to see both countries ready to host the general
assembly,” Mr Rifai said.
Minister of Tourism and Arts Sylvia Masebo reaffirmed Zambia’s commitment to
co-hosting the general assembly of the UNWTO.
“My government is ready and has set aside sufficient budgetary allocation
for logistical and event management of this prestigious 20th session of the
general assembly,” Ms Masebo said.
And Zimbabwean Minister for Tourism and Hospitality Walter Mzembi allayed
fears surrounding his country’s general elections slated for June this year.
Mr Mzembi said Zimbabwe will usher in a government under a new constitution
by June this year.
“All political players are ready to participate in this election… we will
adopt a new constitution and the elections in Zimbabwe will be held in June.
A referendum process will be conducted in March this year,” Mr Mzembi told
the delegates.
He said Zimbabwe is ready to participate in co-hosting the UNWTO.
Earlier, Ms Masebo told the UNWTO executive members and other tourism
ministers that Zambia had already secured venues for the meetings,
accommodation from five-star hotels to budget rate.
The minister also noted that the co-hosting of the general assembly has
created more than 350 jobs in the hospitality industry.
Zambia is endowed with a very rich and diverse cultural heritage beyond the
mighty Victoria Falls, she said.
Ms Masebo marketed Zambia in captivating style in just five minutes and got
a standing ovation.
The general assembly will attract delegates from at least 170 countries and
affiliate private sector organisations.
The event is expected to host about 1,500 delegates between the two
countries.
The official opening ceremony will be held in Zambia and closing in
Zimbabwe. Zambia is also expected to host plenary sessions and the council
of Africa ministers meeting.
The two countries have offered gratis visas across the border lines during
the assembly.


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RioZim fights gold mine seizure by Mugabe allies

http://www.reuters.com/

Fri Feb 1, 2013 9:22am EST

* Tourism minister seizes gold mine, company says

* RioZim accused of breaking black empowerment law

* Minister says he only intervened in pay dispute

* Empowerment Minister criticises "irrational" takeover

By Nelson Banya

HARARE, Feb 1 (Reuters) - Zimbabwe's RioZim Limited has gone to the High
Court to fight off seizure of a gold mine by allies of President Robert
Mugabe, who accuse it of flouting a black empowerment law, the company said
on Friday.

RioZim said two lawmakers, including tourism minister Walter Mzembi from
Mugabe's ZANU-PF party, took control of its Renco gold mine, 300 km (200
miles) south of Harare, two weeks ago.

"Minister Mzembi arrived at the mine... He called a public meeting and
announced that RioZim had not complied with the indigenisation obligations
of the country and hence they were taking over Renco," RioZim said in a
statement.

People not employed by the mine blockaded it, resulting in daily production
losses of $150,000, said RioZim.

It said the minister had appointed a local member of parliament as general
manager and directed all staff to work under him.

The MP was now using threats and intimidation to bar RioZim directors and
management from the mine while denying them access to the company's gold
bullion, the firm added.

Mzembi furiously denied RioZim's accusations, saying he only became involved
with the mine when Renco workers lobbied him as their local MP to intervene
in a pay dispute.

"That's political slander. I'm surprised by their statement, which seeks to
politicise what is a dispute between them and their workers," he told
Reuters.

"I have no interest in the mine's shareholders except to say they must
comply with the laws of this country. I have never taken an ounce of gold
from Renco, nor do I intend to, but my people are crying for justice."

Renco - formed in 2004 when Rio Tinto Plc sold off most of its Zimbabwe
assets - produced 11,000 ounces of gold in the first half of 2012, when it
resumed operations after shutting down at the height of Zimbabwe's
hyperinflation crisis in 2008.

RioZim was saddled with $50 million of debt and on the verge of collapse in
2012 but was saved when New York-based private equity fund Global Emerging
Markets took a 25 percent stake.

Major mining firms in Zimbabwe, including leading platinum producers Anglo
American Platinum and Impala Platinum , have been forced to surrender
majority stakes to local investors under the Mugabe-led black empowerment
drive.

Saviour Kasukuwere, the minister in charge of the process, was not available
to comment on the RioZim seizure, but has been quoted in local media
describing the move as "irrational".

"We want law and order in this country and we don't want indigenisation to
be dragged into the mud," he was quoted as saying in private newspaper
NewsDay.


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Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe to establish mobile money regulation

http://www.techzim.co.zw

By L.S.M Kabweza
February 1st, 2013

The Governor of the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ), Gideon Gono, announced
yesterday the introduction of a deliberate legal and regulatory framework
for Mobile Financial Services. The announcement was made as part of the
Monetary Policy Statement presentation. “As monetary authorities, we are
currently seized with the drafting of appropriate guidelines and policies,”
said the Governor.

Specifically the process will produce, a ‘Payment systems oversight
guideline’, an ‘E-money and electronic payments guideline’ and an ‘Agency
banking guideline’. The guidelines are all scheduled to be finalized this
year. The move comes after the Bankers Association of Zimbabwe (BAZ)
complained last month that mobile operators were competing unfairly against
them in the provision of mobile financial services in the country. The
complaints are aimed mostly against Zimbabwe’s largest telecoms firm,
Econet, whose EcoCash service has gained significant traction since launch
in 2011.

Gono said however that the economy has benefited immensely from the
introduction of mobile banking services saying the customer base “has
expanded appreciably”, providing greater access to products such as
remittance transfers which may prompt increased use of banking services in
Zimbabwe.

The ideal situation, Gono said in the statement, is for mobile money
transfer services to be “merely a payment system or delivery channel which
does not amount to deposit taking.” This way, they would operate on “a
credit push principle where all e-money value is backed by pre-funded
balances which are held in banking institutions.”

Gono said yesterday that the RBZ will consult regulatory bodies and
stakeholders on the matter and said that a memorandum of understanding
between the RBZ and POTRAZ will be finalized by end of first quarter 2013.

Gono also said that one problem locally has been a “limited culture of
sharing payment systems infrastructure” saying that as a regulatory body
they encourage interoperatability and sharing of infrastructure.
“Relationships between financial institutions and payment system providers
should be complimentary rather than acrimonious,” he said. “Payment system
providers including mobile network operators are implored to accommodate all
banking institutions on their platforms”


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MDC-T ‘big guns’ unchallenged in party primaries

http://www.swradioafrica.com

By Tichaona Sibanda
01 February 2013

A number of the MDC-T ‘big guns’, including the party’s national organising
secretary Nelson Chamisa, are not facing any challenges for the party
primaries.

By Thursday, the deadline date to submit applications, Chamisa was the only
candidate to send in his CV to contest the Kuwadzana seat which he holds.
The primaries are set to be held before the end of this month.

Others not being contested include the party’s foreign policy guru, Jameson
Timba (Mt Pleasant), secretary-general Tendai Biti (Harare East), Elias
Mudzuri (Warren Park) and lesser known Fanwell Munengani (Glen View).

Many people in the MDC-T had written off Mudzuri after he lost his cabinet
post in a reshuffle in 2011. They had already written his political
obituary, going as far as speculating that he will be defeated in the
primaries.

Outside Harare, deputy treasurer-general, Elton Mangoma (Makoni North) in
Manicaland, and party spokesman Douglas Mwonzora, will sail through without
going through the internal election process.

Mwonzora told SW Radio Africa that a substantial number of national
executive and standing committee members are not being challenged in their
constituencies.

‘It’s still early to say how many, as the process is still ongoing. The
deadline was yesterday (Thursday) but a number of other districts have asked
for an extension to deal with teething problems,’ he said.

The Nyanga North MP explained that anyone with no challengers will
automatically be duly confirmed as party candidates for the harmonized
elections.

‘It shows that most of our leaders and MPs have received a big vote of
confidence by the electorate in their leadership,’ said Mwonzora. He added
that the party encourages competition, as evidenced by a huge number of
applicants seeking to dislodge sitting MP’s.

The spokesman explained that each application, sent via the individual’s
district executive, contains comments endorsed by the district leadership.
The district leadership however is not empowered to disqualify candidates at
provincial level.

‘The verification of application has begun to see comments made from
districts. So the process of qualification and disqualification has started.
For some they will fall on this first hurdle, if as an example, their
applications are endorsed with negative comments such as being found guilty
of corruption or having had engaged in violence against each other,’
Mwonzora said.

While it will be plain sailing for sitting MPs and cabinet ministers, it’s
not the case with Giles Mutsekwa, the MDC-T’s National Housing Minister.

Mutsekwa is probably one of many cabinet ministers in the inclusive
government who is facing an acid test in the party primaries. The current MP
for Chikanga-Dangamvura in Mutare is being challenged by Brian James, the
suspended Mayor of the city, and former footballer and popular lawyer Arnold
Tsunga.

Meanwhile ZANU PF is set to hold primary elections after the referendum in
March. Party spokesperson Rugare Gumbo said in Harare this week that the
former ruling party would wait for the referendum to be held before they
call for their primaries. He said ZANU PF was still crafting rules that
would govern the primaries.

Political analyst Mutsa Murenje told us primary elections in any political
party are mandatory and in the best interests of democracy.

‘They provide us with an array of options so that after all is said and
done, the winner will know he or she has the people’s support. Some of the
sitting legislators, as an example, found themselves in parliament not
because of their talents, skills or experience but because of their
financial muscle,’ he said.

Murenje continued: ‘Have they done anything to develop their areas or
advance the democratic cause? Some are mere place holders and should
therefore be challenged even by the young turks. No one is invincible in a
democracy, pass the democratic test, primary election, and go ahead to
deliver.’


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Zimbabwe 'would be shut down if it was a company'

http://www.telegraph.co.uk

Zimbabwe would be shut down if it were a private company, the finance
minister has declared, days after joking that it only had $217 (138) in the
bank account.

By Peta Thornycroft, Johannesburg12:51PM GMT 01 Feb 2013

Tendai Biti warned executives in Harare on Thursday that Zimbabwe is in a
permanent economic crisis. He told a meeting of the Confederation of
Zimbabwe Industries that it was "unacceptable that Zimbabwe continued to be
trapped in a cycle of permanent depression or permanent crisis punctuated by
periods of growth".

Mr Biti added: "It is not sustainable. If Zimbabwe was a private company it
would have closed down."

Earlier this week Mr Biti joked with the media that they had more money in
their bank accounts than Zimbabwe, which only had $217 (138) in the
treasury on Tuesday although hours later the balance improved by about $30
million.

Zimbabwe is battling to emerge from a decade-long economic crisis after
President Robert Mugabe destroyed the agriculture-based economy by evicting
about 4,000 white commercial farmers.

Mr Biti slammed commercial banks, most of them foreign owned, for refusing
to back treasury bills issued late last year. "They only offered a pathetic
amount," he said.

Mr Biti and others in his Movement for Democratic Change party say fears of
"indigenisation" stops much potential new investment.
Mr Mugabe's Zanu PF brought in a law that says all foreign companies must
sell 51 per cent of shares to black Zimbabweans. So far most large
international mining companies have complied with the law, but no locals
have been able to afford to buy the majority shares.

The MDC is in an uncomfortable four-year-old inclusive government with Mr
Mugabe's Zanu PF party, which ends when Zimbabweans vote in fresh elections
later this year.


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Hospital in terminal decline

http://mg.co.za/

01 FEB 2013 14:15 - BERTHA SHOKO

Zimbabwe's Howard Mission Hospital reminds many people of a troubled time in
their recent history.

At the height of Zimbabwe’s political instability and economic meltdown in
2008, the country’s referral hospitals closed their doors to the public
because of a boycott by health workers who claimed that conditions were so
poor in them that they were endangering the lives of patients.

State hospitals struggled to provide basic healthcare, there was a chronic
shortage of drugs and life-saving equipment, which was continually breaking
down and could not be repaired because of a shortage of foreign currency.

The Howard, a Salvation Army hospital about 80km north of Harare, like many
other rural mission hospitals, bore the brunt of the health sector crisis by
admitting patients from other parts of the country. Pregnant mothers and
patients in need of treatment camped out at the hospital, sleeping in
corridors or in the hospital grounds, awaiting their turns.

But after the formation of the unity government and the reopening of the
health institutions, patients continued to flock to the hospital, which was
renowned for its quick and affordable surgical procedures and specialised
care.

But all is no longer well at the hospital.

Hospital staff there said that conditions have deteriorated seriously
following the controversial dismissal last year of Dr Paul Thistle by the
Zimbabwean Salvation Army church authorities. The Howard depends largely on
donors, mostly from Canada, but, since Thistle’s departure, they have been
withholding funds because they are afraid that they will be misused. Thistle
was at the helm of the institution for 16 years.

Unearthing fraudulent activities
Although the reasons for Thistle’s dismissal remain unclear, some media
reports said he was victimised for unearthing fraudulent activities by
church authorities that involved donated funds. Others suggested that
Vice-President Joice Mujuru, herself a member of the Salvation Army, had a
hand in firing Thistle because of alleged political meddling.

Unhappy about Thistle’s dismissal, members of the Chiweshe community and
hospital staff staged a demonstration, which ended with riot police
arresting several members of the hospital staff and nurses.

Apparently, the hospital is also short of drugs and other health
consumables. According to sources, drugs for diabetic patients in particular
are in short supply.

Speaking on condition of anonymity, hospital staff said that, because of the
shortages, they have been writing prescriptions for patients to buy their
own medicines in the nearby towns of Concession and Bindura.

Compared with previous visits, the Mail & Guardian found that the wards were
generally dirty, lacked fresh air and were mostly empty. The few patients
who were in the wards were said to be awaiting transfer or to be discharged.

Nurses at the hospital said it was seriously understaffed and general and
nursing staff had not been receiving their salaries on time because of poor
cash flows. Salaries that were due to be paid on the 25th of each month were
being paid as late as the 10th of the next month.

Concerned
The hospital is left with only two young doctors. But nurses said they were
not experienced enough to carry out major surgery or carry the entire
medical workload of the institution. The hospital was referring most
patients to Harare’s Parirenyatwa Hospital, they said.

“The two doctors are only doing small operations and Caesarian sections,”
said one nurse.

“We are open at this hospital in name only because there is not much we are
offering patients. We are just referring them to Harare and discharging
those who are not very sick. As a result, there is no money coming into the
hospital.

“We are concerned about this community and we are also afraid we will soon
lose our jobs.”

Patients at the hospital said that members of the local community were
having to travel as far as the Karanda Mission Hospital in Rushinga, about
200km away, to seek treatment. They also expressed concern about the dirty
conditions in the hospital wards and the lack of drugs and medicines.

“We are deeply pained because this is the hospital that we used to rely on,”
said Shelly Mhundwa, who lives in Chiweshe and was seeking treatment for a
broken leg.

Rehabilitation facilities
“Many of us are very poor in this area. Many people are farm labourers.
Getting money for treatment elsewhere is something we cannot afford,”
Mhundwa said.

“During Dr Thistle’s time, there was nothing this hospital couldn’t offer.
It was even better than Parirenyatwa Hospital … we are very worried about
how we are going to survive.”

The sister in charge at the hospital, Cynthia Chawasarira, refused to
comment. She said she was not authorised to speak to the press.

Hospital authorities were also not available for comment.

Thistle could also not be reached for comment although it is understood that
he is working at the Karanda Mission Hospital.

Founded in 1923, the Howard was intended to treat patients from the Mazowe
district. At its peak, the hospital treated more than 75000 patients a year.

It also runs operating theatres, a pharmacy and a laboratory, and has X-ray,
ultrasound and rehabilitation facilities. The hospital also ran a mobile
clinic that offered immunisation, paediatric and obstetric care, and family
planning services.


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Grace Kwinjeh runs for office in Zimbabwe

http://thewip.net/



WIP Contributor Grace Kwinjeh is an aspiring candidate in the forthcoming elections in Zimbabwe. We recently received the following interview conducted with her by a local publication in Zimbabwe. We wish Grace all the best in her bid for MP.

Let us start with some background and context, what has been your mission in Belgium and for how long have you been there?

I have been in Belgium for over three years now. I came here primarily to continue my healing process and to reunite with my children and mother. I have, however, also stayed involved in the party (MDC-T) and pro-democracy movement and advocacy campaigns to advance the cause for democratic change in Zimbabwe.


Grace Kwinjeh
You are a founding member of the MDC under Tsvangirai since before the MDC split. Why the quest for political office in 2013, something you could have done in 2000 or 2008?

I have been an ardent cadre of the MDC since its inception in 1999. I have worked tirelessly to help the party deliver democracy and freedom to the people of Zimbabwe. I have always aspired to join the Parliament of Zimbabwe to continue that work. However, in 2000, I felt that I was too young and inexperienced to go into Parliament. At that point, I wanted to further my studies and acquire the experience and wisdom to better serve my country through the MDC.

Due to my activism for democracy, I was a victim of political persecution. I was jailed numerous times over the years and extensively tortured in 2007. Since then, I have been healing and recovering from the trauma of that experience.

In 2008, I was still recovering and did not feel strong enough to sustain a campaign. Furthermore, I could not be home because of the difficulties I had experienced in 2006 and 2007. Those were difficult years for Zimbabweans in both political and economic terms.

Today, in 2013, I feel stronger, ready and eager to fully engage with the political process in Zimbabwe. I have healed, grown and learned much over the years. I have much to offer the people of Makoni Central as their servant and representative in the House of Parliament.

Without doubt the MDC of today has undergone changes of its own since its founding. Do you think this is its best chance to lead Zimbabwe?

Since its birth in 1999, the MDC has been at the forefront of democratic reform in Zimbabwe. I think the party has grown and learned so much over the years. As a young party, we have faltered and stumbled on occasion. However, we remain resolute in our quest for equal opportunity and democracy for all Zimbabweans. We continue to listen to what the people of Zimbabwe say and allow that to guide us. We have become more grounded and acquired the governing experience that will allow us to move the nation forward. For example, the party has a better understanding of the realities and constraints of being in government.

The party remains committed to reforming the country’s institutions to weed out corruption and other vices that afflict government. However, there are always a few individuals who deviate from these values and bring the party into disrepute. For instance, the party recently dealt with party members who have been accused of corruption within city councils. One of my objectives as an aspiring Member of Parliament is to ensure that the party continues to eradicate corruption and abide by the founding principles of transparency and reform.

Clearly, as a party, we have had to go through the fiery furnace. Personally, I have struggled in unimaginable ways. I have been out of my motherland for six years due to my fight for democracy. I have experienced many difficulties in the process. For example, my first bed in South Africa when I got out of hospital after the 2007 torture was bought by the Zimbabwe Exiles Forum. I eventually triumphed by learning how to survive in other countries; South-Africa, then Rwanda, and now Brussels. In each country I resided, I learned new things and grew as a person. Various experiences, both inside Zimbabwe and outside, have made me stronger and groomed me to be a better citizen and leader. I also believe that the diversity of people, skills, and experiences that candidates like myself offer, make the MDC (T) party stronger.

Women have been somewhat sidelined in mainstream politics and their numbers still remain low. How do you plan to change this if at all?

That is a tough question. On one hand, I do not wish to present women as weak and incapable of campaigning and getting elected into office. On the other hand, women do face real obstacles and challenges in joining mainstream politics.
For instance, I find myself standing and competing with men who have enormous resources that I do not have. Notwithstanding such limitations, I believe that personal integrity and loyalty are important qualities. In my case, I possess both qualities and have been an ardent and loyal party cadre since its inception. I have continued to engage with democratic reform in Zimbabwe in various capacities.

It is a testament to these qualities, that I believe the people have encouraged me to seek office. I believe that it is good when people think of you and want to promote you. I do hope that my campaign, working with both men and women, can be an example to other women. I hope that through my campaign, I can inspire more women to become interested and involved in Zimbabwe’s political processes.

Zimbabwean women are resilient. In turn, there are tough women in the MDC-T, who have not let the political environment stop them from campaigning in their own right. However, we need the party to deal with past injustices against women, deal with low participation numbers and so forth. For example, they could do this by having a certain number of seats reserved for women. This is not because we are not able, but rather intended to address a history, culture and social practices that have kept our numbers low.

Going into politics, what issues concern you most and which ones are top priorities for you?

The level of poverty in Zimbabwe is of great concern to me. I aspire to represent a constituency with both urban and rural populations that are affected by this issue. For example, I have listened to what people on the ground have to say about the lack of access to proper healthcare and a quality education for their children.

As a Parliamentarian, I will work diligently to ensure that I contribute to policies that alleviate poverty across the country. Also, I intend to contribute towards our budgeting process to ensure that our limited resources are spent on those Zimbabweans most in need. For example, why should the army receive more money than the health sector?

In Makoni, I will create a pragmatic development programme for the constituency. I have a team of Zimbabweans with vast experience to help me draw one up. The first part of my constituency manifesto will also be launched soon. This will be in line with the party’s JUICE programme, which has been endorsed by many as credible, authentic, and just what Zimbabwe needs.

A voter will ask, what are you going to do differently or offer the electorate that other politicians have failed?

One thing for sure is that I have zero tolerance for corruption and I believe in integrity, transparency and accountability. These are qualities that should be prerequisites for Zimbabwean politicians. For instance, I have filled out forms declaring my assets. This can be evaluated after five years should voters wish to verify whether I have accumulated unexplained wealth that I cannot justify.

Also, I am a woman of God, a trained intercessor gifted in the area of healing. I believe that the spiritual journey I have undertaken has humbled me as a person, meaning that my life is governed by the principles of the Kingdom of God, a servant of the people, who is called to lead a righteous life.

Would you say the transition from journalism to politics was a natural one for you?

Yes, it has been quite natural. As journalists, we are always “on the ground” and therefore develop close relationships with communities and the people. You have to be open, a listener, informed, and easy to interact with. These are skills that I possess as a journalist and will leverage in representing the people of Makoni Central.

In your take on the democracy and human rights in Zimbabwe, what needs to change?

The MDC has worked hard to advance democracy and human rights on behalf of Zimbabweans since 1999. However, there are still challenges and much still needs to be done. A large part of this involves reforms to our political institutions through constitutional reform, for example. Also, the political culture in the country and lack of leadership accountability needs to be addressed.

For instance, imagine that even as a candidate, I am not aware of when elections will be held because the decision on polls is concentrated in the hands of one person. We have a serious problem of leaders who take people for granted without fully grasping that our country is in a serious governance crisis. You even hear in some quarters people saying that the President might decide not to have elections this year; that his party Zanu PF is not ready. Such issues need to be addressed.

Critics might ask, you have been exiled in Belgium for a while, are you in touch with issues on the ground at home?

Firstly, I am so in touch with the grassroots it’s incredible! I have kept myself updated on all developments on the ground and am in touch with people both in the party and civil society. In Makoni, I remain connected to my family and community. Makoni is kumusha to me. Six years in exile cannot take that away from me. I am very much a “daughter of the soil” and remain in touch with the issues that affect this constituency as well as Zimbabwe as a nation.

I will also say that exile is not a new phenomenon. Most of our country’s nationalists have been in exile at some point in their lives. Like them, I left Zimbabwe due to political persecution. I left Zimbabwe on a hospital bed, went to SA, where at some point I really struggled on my own, with very few options. I went into exile because I dared to stand up for democracy in my motherland. It was a very precarious existence during which I could not return home. Violence was escalating and I could not travel much, as I did not have the necessary documentation. When some people talk of exile they assume it is pretty sitting. The reality of exile is far from pretty. I have been there and I can testify to that.

These experiences and challenges have sharpened my desire to ensure that our country becomes a beacon of democracy and prosperity, and that no Zimbabwean ever has to leave their country as a result of persecution and bad governance!

Your fears about running for office, if any?

Well, my fear has really to do with the political environment, in the absence of the necessary media and electoral reforms. My greatest fear of course being that Zanu PF might decide again to use violence as they have done in previous elections. However, I will not let these fears dissuade me from completing the task of democratic change and bringing hope to the people of Makoni Central and Zimbabwe.

What is the Zimbabwe that you want?

The Zimbabwe I want to see is a prosperous one, where men and women live side by side in peace and harmony regardless of their political or religious beliefs. God bless Zimbabwe.


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Charles Taffs talks to Alex Bell on Diaspora Diaries

http://www.swradioafrica.com

Charles Taffs, the President of the Commercial Farmers Union

Alex Bell was joined in studio by Charles Taffs, the President of the Commercial Farmers Union, who travelled to London this week to counter the misinformation published in a new book on the land grab campaign. Taffs says the book is trying to brush the reality of the land seizures under the carpet, and paint the exercise as a success. He says this is nowhere near the truth and gives a stark breakdown of the current land situation.

AB: Hello Zimbabwe and welcome to Diaspora Diaries on SW Radio Africa. Tonight we have a special programme – I’m very, very pleased to welcome a special guest in the studio today – and that is Charles Taffs, the president of the Commercial Farmers Union who is in London at the moment. Mr. Taffs, first of all thank you very much for joining us.

CT: Alex, thanks very much, pleasure to be here.

AB: Mr. Taffs one of the reasons why you are here has been the release of this new book – “Zimbabwe Takes Back its Land” which is on a bit of a press junket in the UK at the moment. Our listeners will know if they tuned into our news broadcasts yesterday that there is concern about this book; one which is something that’s has been raised is that it seems to sanitise what has been a decade of devastation for communities, for the agricultural sector, for Zimbabwe’s future really and we really are hoping we can maybe try and look a little closely at what really is happening to counter some of the misinformation that seems to be coming out in this book. So I’m very pleased that you’ve come to join us. First of all Mr. Taffs, I don’t know if you’ve had a chance to read any of the details in this book but just very briefly, what is your reaction to what is being touted in this publication.

CT: Thank you Alex. No I haven’t had a chance to read the entire book, I have read extracts. But however I was at the book launch presentation last night (Monday night) where there was a detailed presentation done by the author, or the authors should I say and it was very clear to me that their whole approach was very simplistic, based on empirical evidence on a very, very small section, in fact three farms and… There were 5300 farms that were, have been taken over this period and this empirical evidence from what I could gather from the presentation was based on three farms in Mashonaland Central. Now Mashonaland Central is also a very specific area in that it is a very, very good agricultural area and those results from those areas cannot be applied throughout the other regions. So the regions vary greatly within the country so you must be very, very careful of this. The second thing that struck me is the title itself – “Zimbabwe Takes its Land Back”. My question is – Zimbabwe takes its land back from who? Is it from a force which has invaded Zimbabwe and taken all its land and we’ve managed to get it back or was it Zimbabwe taking its land back from Zimbabwean citizens? 70% of all farms purchased and traded after 1980, have been bought after 1980 within the rules of the Zimbabwe government and in that process, every single farm purchase had to be approved by government. The farms had to be offered to government, and the government had to express an interest or not, whether they would want the farm or not. So in other words, 70% of all farms that were taken were actually offered to government within the first 20 years of independence and for that you got a certificate of ‘No Present Interest’. Now those are the farms that have been taken. So the questions begs to be asked – has it been taken on the basis that we stole the land or has it been taken on the basis that it’s a reaction against white farmers?

AB: It’s from this inherently racist point that it appears this book has been written, writing off the fact that if you are a white Zimbabwean, you’re not actually Zimbabwean at all. The danger of this of course is that there are many people who agree with this.

CT: Yes I think that is a total tragedy. I think 30 years after independence, Zimbabwe, the first 20 years or definitely the first 15 years was on a fantastic trajectory of growth and national bonding and I think that’s all gone awry and I think it’s gone awry for political gain. And I really believe that 30 years into independence, 32 years into independence that we’d still be talking of Zimbabweans in terms of blacks and whites, is a real sad tragedy for us. I think it’s high time now that when you’re talking about people, or sectors or whatever you’re talking about in the case of agriculture, you’re talking about farmers, you’re not talking about black farmers, white farmers – it’s Zimbabwean farmers. And the same with Zimbabwean police, Zimbabwean military – whatever the case may be, it’s Zimbabweans. This black/white issue, to carry on at this stage to me, is disastrous.

AB: Now Mr. Taffs we’ve spoken many times in the past about the need for us to put the issue to bed so we can start moving forward. And one of the key things in this book apparently is that it is saying that production levels finally in Zimbabwe are finally reaching normality, which seems to counter a lot of information which we’ve heard, one being the fact that Zimbabwe is so dependent of food aid. So where are we realistically in terms of production and is it anywhere near back to normality as this book seems to say?

CT: Yes I think that book really needs to be challenged on this issue because it’s doing no-one any favours particularly the people that are starving to death in Zimbabwe. I think it’s really putting a false picture and needs to be attacked in the strongest form. The bottom line is here is that agriculture in Zimbabwe is an absolute mess. It’s a mess across all sectors; there has been a small recovery in tobacco and I’ll use tobacco specifically at this time: tobacco production in 2000 reached an all time high of 247 million kilos and our single biggest global export competitor was Brazil at that time who was producing 350 million kilos. Brazil now is producing 800 million kilos against the increased demand in emerging markets such as India and China. And here we are producing 144 million kilos saying it’s a great success story. It’s not a success story. We should be up in the 600 million mark, that’s the real loss. In terms of food production – we have imported food for the past 13 years. This year again there’s an appeal by the UN after many, many warnings particularly from offices such as mine. There was a total reluctance to get involved because the story going around town was that we were producing enough food to feed ourselves and when it came to crisis point, there was panic and now there’s an emergency appeal from the UN to raise funding to feed 1.7 million people. That 1.7 million people in my view is a low figure. I think it’s going to get worse than that. But you put that into a regional context, there’s a regional shortfall of grain, it’s not just maize, of 5 million tonnes. The question that needs to be asked is: Where’s the maize going to come from or the food’s going to come from? And when you do source that, how are we going to pay for it? We have a situation where our import/export deficit is now over five billion – how is this sustainable? How is it continuing to be sustained? That is the question that needs to be asked. So you factor in all these things – Zimbabwe is not looking good at this time.

AB: Why then do we have a publication like this? Can we look at any justification of why there seems to be such a push to sell the agricultural sector as back to normal? Is there any reason?

CT: Yah I think there are a number of reasons. I think first of all there’s been a number of books on this issue and primarily they’ve been written by academics; and these academics are being asked to write these books favourably for certain influences and that’s what we’re seeing here. We’re seeing this whole issue of the agricultural scene trying to be swept under the carpet and multi agencies and countries encouraging that to happen. I think Zimbabwe’s coming into the limelight now in terms of its mineral wealth; its strategic placement within Africa, both in terms of mineral supply and in terms of access to central Africa, and countries want to get involved and they see the land issue as holding it back. So they’re trying desperately to sweep this under the carpet. My position is very clear: my constituents have to be represented. They, through no fault of their own, have lost everything, together with their employees of which there were 350 thousand. One must always remember – 350 thousand employees plus their families equating to two million people were dislodged, fired, beaten, burnt – you name it in this violent aggressive attack on the commercial farming sector. That constituency needs to be dealt with and dealt with fairly before this can move on and we honestly believe that we have a proposal on the table which can deal with all these issues and take it forward. If it’s not dealt with and swept under the carpet, the conflict will remain and Zimbabwe will be held up for many, many years. We’re seeing countries in the east, Eastern Europe, 55 years on, there are titles that were taken 55 years ago are starting to be re-established. Are we saying Zimbabwe is going to be held up for 55 years? We can’t afford that. Let’s deal with the issues on the table and take it forward now.

AB: When we talk about moving forward though, there just seems to me to be a bit of a problem because there seems to be such an active attempt to ignore and to forget the inhumanity particularly of the land reform programme, to forget the human rights abuses, to forget the tragedy that befell so many people because what has been touted especially by for example the state media and the ZANU PF friendly media is that it’s addressing imbalances that already existed and therefore it’s okay. So how do we move forward when this is an argument that is again thrown out over and over and over again?

CT: Yes that’s one of the things that saddened me yesterday (Monday). There were excuses being made for the violence based on historical fact. There’s no excuse for violence in any form and the way that this was meted out to a selected part of society was terrible in the extreme. People have been extremely traumatized; not only have they lost all their assets, they’ve been extremely traumatized and their lives have been seriously affected and in some cases people have been murdered. This cannot be acceptable in this modern time by anybody or any country and it needs to be dealt with and we need to sit down as a country and bring all these issues to the table and finalise a solution so this country can go forward.

AB: But when we talk about that – how do we finalise the issue? Is it about everyone being on the same page, is it about putting it to bed? How do we finalise it?

CT: Well I think it’s a number of issues. The first thing it’s mutual respect. I think everyone, all the players need to have a mutual respect and they need to look at it from a Zimbabwean’s perspective and not from a perspective of persuasion by outside factors. I see Zimbabwe being pushed in certain directions by certain countries – it’s very dangerous. We need to take control of ourselves because if we allow ourselves to be pushed in certain directions we’re going to become a slave to a system down the line. Zimbabwe needs to take control of its own fortunes and as such we need to respect each other. The second thing – we can’t hide behind fictitious fact. Let’s put the facts on the table and deal with those facts in a comprehensive fair manner. If we hide behind facts such as these books are putting out, we’re not dealing with the issues because the issues on the table are not factual. We need to correct that.

AB: Something that this book doesn’t seem to take into account at all is the legal argument of what’s happened. The land grab was for one declared completely unlawful by the SADC Tribunal. We know since what has happened with the Tribunal being so stifled as a result of this ruling that it cannot function properly. But there is no mention of the fact that this is a disregard of the rule of law and that the rule of law is being completely ignored in these cases, that property rights still aren’t being respected.

CT: No that’s absolutely right. The SADC Tribunal, the highest regional court was actually suspended because SADC didn’t know how to deal with this because the ruling was that, not only was it unlawful but that it was racist in its implementation. And not only that, we’ve had farmers in the Investment Dispute Court case, the investment conflict that have been awarded awards for the loss of their businesses and yet those still have not been dealt with. So what we’re saying to the Zimbabwean authorities is that until such time as you deal with it, you’re not going to get real investment coming to that country. And you add that onto the indigenization programme which is a massive threat on direct foreign investors whereby 51% of your businesses have got to be handed over to an indigenous body. Losing control of your actual business investment – how can this encourage investment? So all these factors need to be brought to book and taken into account and a way forward forged through that.

AB: Well Mr. Taffs, for a moment I want to talk really about the human elements of all of this because we are talking about a nation whose poverty is insanely high, the highest it’s ever been, unemployment the highest it’s ever been, people still reliant on food aid – as someone who is a farmer who has been involved in this sector for so many years, has seen it go from what was the bread basket of the region to what it is now, when you look around at what’s happened, how do you feel about it?

CT: I think it’s tragic. The social impact because of the land reform has been huge. We must remember that many, many of these commercial farms, 60% of these commercial farms had schools. Many of those schools were funded in their entirety by the farmers themselves and some were with government support. Many of these farms had clinics so when the commercial farming sector was taken out, we lost a lot of that social impact for up to two million people. What we’re seeing right now is a massive social downfall of the people of Zimbabwe; poverty is at an all time high; the average age expectancy is down from 65 to the mid-30s; a lot of people have dropped out of education; our health system is on its knees; our education system is a fraction of what it was. One of the fantastic legacies of Zimbabwe after independence was the education system and one of the fantastic legacies of that is that we have a very educated population. Unfortunately we’re going into a generation that is not going to be the case; the education system is certainly not where it was and we’re seeing a situation where there’s been a lot of intellectual flight because the opportunities in Zimbabwe are not there a lot of people have left and you’re getting professional people, doctors and so on, not in the country but within countries in the region or have left Africa altogether. This is a total tragedy and we need to turn this around.

AB: One thing which has come out recently is that there has been a call for an urgent land audit. What do you make of this call?

CT: Yah this land audit was part of the Global Agreement in 2009 and should have happened and in fact from my understanding, the EU have offered to pay for such an audit but it has not taken place and the question needs to be asked why has it not taken place? I think the reason for that is quite simple is that the authorities don’t want to uncover the real facts of the land takeovers and who owns what or who’s taken what. But in order for us to move this thing forward we need an accurate assessment of who is on the ground, who is where and so on, so we can take this forward because we need to come up with a comprehensive agricultural structure going forward and in order to do that we need to know what’s actually on the ground at this time.

AB: A final question then Mr. Taffs – if we don’t sort this out as a matter of urgency, where do you see things going in the near future because this isn’t something I suppose that’s going to be another decade down the line, this is something that is happening now, so if this isn’t sorted out now, what happens?

CT: Well to me it depends on the influence of outside countries. If we don’t get an internal settlement and we allow, or Zimbabwe allows other countries to start increasing their influence, we’re actually going to be colonized again through economic colonization. I have no fact about that and I see it happening already in certain sectors whereby the Zimbabweans are mere players and the control is done outside of our borders. We can’t allow that to happen but I do feel that if Zimbabwe carries on the way it is going, it is going to become a failed state. Economically it cannot continue. You cannot have a balance of support in excess of your GDP and that’s where we are right now and we need to create a productive base across all sectors and the bottom line of that is: property rights. If you create property rights across all sectors, you’ll get that investment and we can start creating productivity, increasing jobs, social impact and so on. The whole business cycle can be re-established. Until that is done, Zimbabwe has got a very, very bleak future. However the potential for Zimbabwe is fantastic if we get it right.

AB: On that note, we’ve come to end of tonight’s special programme. You’ve been listening to Diaspora Diaries on SW Radio Africa. I’m Alex Bell and I’ve been joined in the studio tonight by my special guest, the president of the Commercial Farmers Union, Charles Taffs. Mr. Taffs thank you so much for joining us.

CT: Alex thanks very much, it’s been a pleasure.


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Easing restrictions before reforms would mean EU has lost the plot

Clifford Chitupa Mashiri, 1st Febryary 2013.
The European Union (EU) would have lost the plot completely, if it eases
travel restrictions on Robert Mugabe and his allies with no credible reforms
in place before polls.
Reports that the EU is eager to re-engage the 88 year-old Robert Mugabe if
he holds a peaceful referendum appear to be influencing the gathering pace
of cosmetic changes amid a concerted spin campaign by the
abundantly-resourced tyrant’s lobby.
Mugabe’s reported celebrations that he had outwitted his junior partners in
the coalition government will haunt the MDC formations for many years to
come as a guilty conscience is not that easy to erase.
The so-called January 2013 Final Draft Constitution over which the GNU
partners are congratulating themselves as a major achievement remains
seriously flawed and a far cry from what the people expected from COPAC’s
45million dollar expenditure.
Arguably, the sudden meeting of minds which were miles apart in December
2012 is very suspect in view of the exemptions which the so-called
principals gave themselves not to be bound by for 10 years from the moment
the severely flawed charter is adopted.
Naturally, Mugabe cannot be disappointed in securing a safe exit after
putting his manipulative and seductive skills to maximum use to convince his
apologetic and acquiescent junior partners.
One could fill volumes with what the junior partners used to call
outstanding issues from provincial governors, demands for the dismissal of
Attorney General Johannes Tomana and the RBZ Governor Gideon Gono, a
roadmap to free and fair elections, the diaspora vote, dual citizenship, a
people driven constitution, a credible voters’ roll, security sector
reforms, to meaningful media reforms.
Not only were the outstanding issues parked in accordance with President
Jacob Zuma’s advice, but they were towed away and crushed (metaphorically
speaking) like what happens to illegally parked vehicles in western
countries.
People are wondering what has suddenly made the GNU’s junior partners to
have no problems with the recent attempt by the South African government to
supply helicopter frames and spares to Robert Mugabe given the controversial
and bloody involvement of the military in elections.
One wonders what has convinced the EU to believe that Mugabe has finally
turned the corner given reports that his government is determined to ‘tear’
all BIPPAs apart and plans to seize all foreign owned banks.
The other week there was the incredible report of a named principal who
‘kicked out’ a German envoy from his Harare office – which says enough about
the art of diplomacy in Zimbabwe.
Rights abuses continue in Chiadzwa despite the EU looking the other way on
the diamonds e.g. 15 people were left injured after soldiers ran amok in
Chiadzwa diamond mining area. Reports of shallow graves and people being
driven out of their homes in Chiadzwa at night continue.
Concerns about vote rigging are rising in what looks like a campaign of
harassment and intimidation of civil society after Zimrights Education
Programmes Officer Leo Chamahwinya missed Christmas and New Year in prison
and remains in police custody while his director in out on remand.
Other news reports say that politically aligned terror groups Chipangano and
Al Shabab continue to roam Harare and Kwekwe respectively ahead of the
referendum and elections despite the GNU.
Human rights, democracy and the rule of law should mean the same regardless
of where one is – whether you are in Europe or in Africa to prevent
situations similar to what happened in Somalia and Mali before the world
community awakened.
Understandably, the situation in Zimbabwe is far better than what became of
Somalia and Mali at the time of their implosion, however, the potential for
the same anarchy in Zimbabwe remains there, arguably if Mugabe and his
allies are let off the hook ahead of elections without credible reforms
while the EU watches passively.
Cliffford Chitupa Mashiri, Political Analyst, London,
Zimanalysis2009@gmail.com


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