|The ZIMBABWE Situation||Our
thoughts and prayers are with Zimbabwe |
- may peace, truth and justice prevail.
After four years of a costly mili-tary
campaign to prop up the DRC
government Zimbabwe has nothing to show for it despite official assurances
that the country would reap a war dividend.
The Independent established ongood authority this week that
minister Sydney Sekeramayi and Speaker of Parliament Em-merson Mnangagwa
were in the DRC recently to follow up on the debt issue. The two officials
visited the DRC ahead of last week's visit to that country by Mbeki who
tookabout 60 business people who secu-red substantial contracts in mining
and reconstruction projects.
Sekeramayi yesterday confirmed
the visit to the DRC but would not explain
the exact nature of their business there.
"Yes we went to the DRC to talkabout various issues," said
Asked if the money issue came up during the discussions, he said:
"We discussed everything that had to be discussed."
Mnangagwa on Wednesday re-fused to discuss the trip to
the DRC, referring
all questions to the Defence minister.
I travelled to the DRC it does not mean I was on Defence business,"
said Mnangagwa. "There is a Minister of Defence, talk to him."
Mnangagwa has been linked in press reports to Zimbabwean business
initiatives in the DRC including military-backed projects.
Former Finance minister Simba
Makoni in 2000 told parliament that Zimbabwe
had spent more $10 billion in the DRC. The war debt is believed to be at
least five times that.
Government sources said there was apprehension among the
political and military elite after South Africa's successful foray in the
DRC last week.
Sources with interests in the DRC said
Zimbabwe's business ventures there
had either collapsed or failed to take off the ground. Sources said despite
the setting up of a joint commission between Zimbabwe and the DRC there was
no evidence of the expansion of trade between the two countries. During his
March 2001 visit to Zimbabwe, President Kabila promised to make the
"The only way to thank
Zimbabwe is to see the bilateral relationships, the
cooperation we are trying to achieve become a reality. What I want to assure
you is that what we are doing is very legitimate," he said.
The Forestry Commission was granted logging concessions in the DRC during
bilateral discussions held in 2000.
Included in the arrangements of 2001 were the marketing of
a joint-venture between the Minerals Marketing Corpora-tion of Zimbabwe and
Miba, thediamond marketing company in the DRC.
The DRC was due to export more power to Zimbabwe from Inga hydro-electric
power station. The power was supposed to be paid for in local currency.
National Railways of Zimbabwe, Air Zimbabwe, First Banking Corporation,
the Civil Aviation Authority of Zimbabwe, the Zimbabwe Mining Development
Corporation, and the Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority were all expected
tobenefit from the bilateral arrange-ment. Few have.
The Agricultural and Rural Deve-lopment Authority was allocated 200 000
hectares of land to develop and grow crops but nothing has come of the
Now the South Africans are reaping the benefits of
effort, as they did in Mozambique.
Africa and the DRC signed a bilateral agreement worth US$10 billion
last Wednesday, covering the areas of defence and security, the economy and
finance, agriculture and infrastructural development.A joint commission of
the two governments was tasked with imple-menting the agreement.
"The commission's first meeting has already been set for February in South
Africa over which my colleague Kabila will preside," Mbeki told reporters in
The Independent of South Africa said
Mvelaphanda Holdings signed a
memorandum of understanding with the Congolese government for investments
worth an estimated R60 billion over the next decade.
The investments will cover the processing of gold tailings,
cobalt mining, logging, road building, railways and the purchase of two
hotels - the Grand Hotel in Kinshasa and Hotel Karavia in Lubumbashi in the
mining belt to the southeast, the paper said. The copper and cobalt mining
projects should start in the next two months.
Vundla's New Seasons In-vestment Group is bidding for the
rehabilitation of Kinshasa International Airport, a deal worth US$250
Siemens South Africa snatched a US$50-million deal with the national
electricity board of the Congo to install 35 000 electricity connections in
north and western Kinshasa with prepaid electricity meters, the Independent
The paper said Siemens, with several
partners, including Eskom, is also
involved in the rehabilitation of Inga One and Two in a project worth more
than US$1 billion.
company Vodacom is set to invest US$157 million in the DRC,
and plans to push that initial investment to $500 million. It now controls
44% of the cellphone market in the Congo. Mining giant De Beers is
negotiating with the Congolese government regarding diamond concessions.
Moyo in bid to block Daily News, again!
INFORMATION minister Jona-than Moyo and the Media and Information Commission
yesterday filed papers in the High Court seeking to block the publication of
the Daily News which bounced back yesterday.
The MIC contends that the titles in the Associated Newspapers of Zimbabwe
(ANZ) stable cannot publish without a licence. On the other hand Moyo avers
that the papers cannot publish because their journalists are not accredited.
Justice Tendai Uchena on Wednesday ruled that the ANZ
should continue with
its normal operations and that the police should not interfere with the
activities of the publishing house.
The MIC has
already been declared improperly constituted by a court, which
renders its decisions legally questionable.
ANZ corporate affairs director
Gugulethu Moyo told the Zimbabwe Independent
that the company was facing logistical problems.
"We have only a few computers in the newsroom at the moment," said Moyo.
"The police have not returned most of the
computers that they took as
exhibits after we published our paper in September. The matter is different
from the one we had been challenging because this one is a criminal matter,"
Moyo said the
production side had also been affected by the absence
"We do not have our subscription base and
advertising software and once the
paper gets bigger, we will experience serious problems," she said.
Meanwhile the MIC is considering two applications for daily newspapers'
licences, the Independent established this week.
MIC executive chairman Tafataona Mahoso this week confirmed
applications but would not give details.
"We have about
three projects and two of them are applications for dailies,"
said Mahoso. "It would be improper to tell you who their principals are."
Govt defiance of court orders now 'endemic'
ZIMBABWE Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) have raised concern over the
defiance of court orders by the government and called for respect for the
In a press statement last week, ZLHR said the situation was getting out of
"Defiance of court orders has
become endemic in Zimbabwe and it is an issue
that the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court Godfrey Chidyausiku, Judge
President of the High Court Paddington Garwe, and the Minister of Justice,
Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Patrick Chinamasa must do something about if
the integrity of the courts and the justice system is to be protected," ZLHR
police defied four court orders compelling them to vacate the offices of
the Associated Newspapers of Zimbabwe (ANZ). It was only after the fifth
order on Wednesday this week that they eventually left. Last week police
also defied a High Court order to release Chinhoyi MP Philip Chiyangwa. He
was only released after the intervention of the Supreme Court.
law expert Dr Lovemore Madhuku said the executive must be
"Chinamasa's (suggested) sta-tement condemning the
defiance of court orders
will certainly carry more weight," said Madhuku.
Madhuku said judges must speak out strongly against the
disregard of court
"Judges Chidyausiku and Garwe must also
come out strongly against the
continued defiance of court orders. It must be noted that a court is a court
when its orders are enforced, otherwise it becomes irrelevant. If there is
total silence it means they are in agreement," he said.
Chinamasa said he was not in a position to comment.
"I am on leave until the end of the month," said
"You can talk to the Acting Minister of Justice, Cde Paul Mangwana," he
Groups call for electoral law overhaul
AS political tension intensifies amidst the country's festering crisis,
civil society, the clergy and the opposition have called for an overhaul of
the electoral system ahead of parliamentary elections next year.
The opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) is under pressure from
its supporters to consider boycotting the election unless major electoral
changes are introduced.
Head of the MDC's elections
directorate Remus Makuwaza said this week the
issue of electoral law amendments was a priority and his party had already
taken it to parliament.
"We are unequivocal in our demand for the overhaul of the
said Makuwaza. "We are calling for the establishment of conditions that
enable the holding of free and fair elections."
added: "In essence, we are calling for the establishment of an
Independent Electoral Commission as well as the repeal of the draconian
Public Order and Security Act and the Access to Information and Protection
of Privacy Act which have been used to give Zanu PF an unfair advantage.
submitted proposals to parliament and will use our representation
there to lobby for major changes. We are yet to get a response from
Makuwaza said the issue of participation in the
elections without major
changes in electoral laws would be decided by the party's national executive
before the elections.
Election Support Network (ZESN) is lobbying locally and
regionally for major electoral amendments and has said no presidential or
general elections should be held under the current framework.
ZESN chairman Reginald
Matchaba-Hove said the non-governmental body wouldn't
accept the outcome of elections held under the current electoral laws.
"Our position is
that there shouldn't be any presidential or general
elections held under the current electoral system," said Matchaba-Hove.
"The system doesn't in
any way provide an environment conducive to free and
"We are on a massive campaign to consult stakeholders at
home and in the
region on what would be the ideal electoral changes, and we will submit the
suggestions to the public before we engage parliament."
ZESN wants a set of minimum requirements in the
electoral system that will
satisfy the holding of free and fair elections in accordance with the Sadc
protocol as well as other international tenets.
"We are calling for the respect of every person's right to
levelling of the field for all parties contesting as well as transparency in
the running, conducting and supervision of the elections."
Archbishop Pius Ncube, who is also the chairman of
Solidarity Peace Trust in
Southern Africa, concurred that the current electoral system favoured
President Mugabe and his party.
elections under this electoral framework would be rigged. In fact,
opposition would be very lucky to win even one seat," said Ncube.
"There should be an overhaul of the system, there is no doubt
However, the issue of boycotting is rather complicated because Mugabe would
just go ahead to declare himself victorious and continue ruling."
National Constitutional Assembly chairman Lovemore Madhuku said the issue of
electoral changes was of paramount importance so that demonstrations and
acts of civil disobedience would soon be planned by the assembly to push for
"The result of elections held under
this framework is predetermined and will
be won by Zanu PF. This system simply creates a technical way by which Zanu
PF remains in power whether the electorate likes it or not," said Madhuku.
Police intensify blitz on forex traders
THE running battles between police and illegal foreign currency traders
intensified this week as government and the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe
struggle to halt forex trade on the parallel market.
Police want to curb the parallel market while the traders are desperate to
earn a living.
A police bicycle patrol unit on Tuesday combed the Roadport
area for the
traders. They have since started routine patrols in the area. The traders
were based at Roadport to mop up foreign currency from cross-border traders
and visitors from regional countries. Roadport is one of the largest illegal
forex trading sites for the rand, the greenback and the pula.
After the police raid, the traders this week moved a step
further in defying
the law, this time invading Africa Unity Square.
By Thursday the traders who include women from the Vapositori
sect could be
seen milling around in Africa Unity Square where they jostle with
photographers for customers.
The raid at Roadport followed
threats by Reserve Bank governor Gideon Gono
last week to mount a massive clean-up campaign to bring order to the forex
"For a start
that (trade at Roadport) is illegal and we will take
appropriate action. Just tell us where they are and we will move in," Gono
told the Zimbabwe Independent last week.
The traders have however vowed to remain in
business despite the crackdown
by the police and the introduction of the controlled auction system.
Business on the parallel market has been low since the auctions started last
week. It slumped further this week with revelations that most banks had
resumed trade of the foreign currency. Customers can now access forex from
banks at the prevailing rate on the auctions.
Traders who spoke to the Indepe-ndent this week seemed
unperturbed by the
"The police are on our case
but that is nothing new," said one trader who
claims to have four years of experience in the forex business. "They have
been doing this for years. Only this time it's more intensified."
The United States dollar is
currently trading at US$1:$3500 on the parallel
market while the rand is fetching $350. At the auction the greenback firmed
8% to trade around US$1: $3 612.
The parallel market is a product of a heavily undervalued
and a perennial shortage of foreign currency.
Drama in parliament over Land Bill
THERE was drama in parliament on Wednesday as MPs from Zanu PF and the MDC
clashed over the adoption of an adverse report from the Parliamentary Legal
Committee (PLC) on the Land Acquisition (Amendment) Bill.
Zanu PF MPs inadvertently voted in favour of the adverse report, which said
the Bill breached constitutional provisions on property, but were asked to
vote again when chairman of committees Lazarus Dokora realised the mistake.
MDC secretary-general Prof Welshman Ncube who is the acting
chair of the
PLC, presented the report, which was immediately countered by Justice
minister Patrick Chinamasa who is also Leader of the House. Chinamasa wanted
the report to be set aside so the debate on the Bill would go into its
David Coltart then stood up on a point of
order to declare that Chinamasa
was an interested party and could not contribute to the debate since he had
acquired three farms. Parliamentary procedure requires members with a
pecuniary interest in matters under debate to declare it and recuse
Coltart then produced a list
of MPs and the farms they own, and pointed out
that Chinamasa got three farms under the fast track system.
Jorum Gumbo grabbed the list and started remonstrating with other members
onhis side. Chinamasa then called Coltart "a racist liar".
Tendai Biti (Harare North) and Gabriel Chaibva (Harare
South) were both
thrown out for arguing with Dokora. MDC MPs shouted that Chinamasa should
withdraw and called for a ruling on the issue of his recusal. Dokora tried
to restore order but was constantly shouted down.
Chinamasa finally got the floor and declared that he would not
statement. Chaos broke out again. Eventually Dokora insisted that Chinamasa
withdraw the statement which he did.
proceeded to debate the PLC report without recusing himself,
which resulted in further heckling and shouting.Coltart argued against the
Bill, saying reasonable notice must be given to any landowner who should
have recourse to the courts. He said contracts entered into were still
Zanu PF MP Paul Mangwana strongly defended the Bill,
criticising Ncube for
not reading all the relevant clauses. Eventually a vote was called. "All
those in favour of the report say Aye".
MPs shouted "Aye". Confusion reigned. Dokora called for a second
vote with MDC legislators protesting. The resolution to ignore the adverse
report was adopted by 58 to 32 votes.Chinamasa immediately proceeded to
present the Bill at its second reading stage.
Water project still grounded
THE long-awaited Matabeleland Za-mbezi Water Project (MZWP) has still not
got underway amid revelations that US$500 million is needed to start the
project that has been on the drawing board for decades.
The latest promise made by theMatabeleland Zambezi Water Trust (MZWT) was
that the project would kick off at the beginning of the year. However, up to
now the projecthas failed to get off the ground.
MZWT chairman Dumiso Dabengwa said he was not
prepared to comment on MZWT
issues at the moment but said he would do so next month.
"At present I can not comment on MZWP issues but I will be in
a position to
do so next month when everything is clear," said Dabengwa.
However, sources close to the operations of the MZWT said
what was hampering
progress was the unavailability of funds since the project was not allocated
funds during this year's budget.
budget did not allocate anything to the MZWT and about US$500
million is needed to get the project off the ground," said a source.
The source said the MZWT was finding it difficult to secure the funds
through the Zimbabwe National Water Authority (Zinwa) because of red tape.
Matabeleland Water project is not the only water project in the Zinwa
plans. There are various other projects that need to be implemented
nationwide from the meagre resources allocated," said the source.
Zim shows how corrupt statist policies impoverish
"BLASPHEMOUS" was how the information minister described an article in the
Zimbabwe Independent complaining about President Robert Mugabe's habit of
commandeering commercial passenger jets for his own use. It was a revealing
choice of adjective. Mugabe's henchmen do not really think their leader
divine, but they often suggest that he is infallibly righteous, and that
those who defy him should be smitten.
The Independent's blaspheming scribes were perhaps lucky to be released on
bail last week. Zimbabwe provides a dramatic illustration of how statist
economic policies, corruptly enforced, swiftly impoverish. In the past five
years, Mugabe's contempt for property rights has made half the population
dependent on food aid, while his cronies help themselves to other people's
land and savings, and build helipads for their own mansions.
But Zimbabwe's curse is
also Africa's. The main reason the continent is so
poor today is that Mugabe-style incompetent tyranny has been common since
independence. The most important question for Africans now is whether Mugabe
represents not only their past, but their future as well.
There are encouraging signs that he does not.
The Committee to Protect Journalists and Reporters Without
media freedom in Africa. Human Rights Watch reports on Africa. The IMF and
the World Bank give economic information on various countries. Afrol.com
posts rolling news and country information.
first the advance of democracy south of the Sahara since the end of
the cold war. In the 1960s and 1970s, no African ruler was voted out of
office. In the 1980s, one was. Since then, 18 have been, and counting. That
still leaves a lot of countries where polls are rigged and dissidents
disappear, but it is surely a sign that some African governments are
becoming more accountable to their people.
Africa's media, too, are shaking off their shackles.
Under most of the
military regimes of the 1970s and 1980s, independent newspapers and radio
stations were simply not allowed. Today, they are as numerous as they are
irreverent. Television is still largely state-controlled and journalists are
still persecuted "occasionally in most countries, systematically in places
such as Zimbabwe and Eritrea" but, overall, the mighty are subject to
greater scrutiny than before, which makes it a bit harder for them to abuse
In the past couple of years,
Africa has also grown more peaceful. During the
cold war, the great powers fought a series of proxy battles on African soil,
arming and aiding each other's clients' enemies with scant regard for the
African lives their meddling cost. With the collapse of the Soviet Union,
Africa's strategic importance waned. Its wars, however, did not. Without
their superpower backers, some states crumpled, leading to new and
exceptionally bloody struggles in countries such as Congo and Liberia.
several of these conflicts seem at last to have run their
course. Angola and Sierra Leone are at peace. The pointless border clash
between Ethiopia and Eritrea has stopped. Congo's war, the worst anywhere
since the Second World War, is formally over. Liberia's warlord, Charles
Taylor, has been driven into exile. Even in Sudan, which has known only 11
years of calm since 1962, government and rebels are on the verge of signing
a power-sharing deal.
This sudden outbreak of tranquillity has various causes.
stopped because one side won. Others have ended because both sides were
exhausted, or because outsiders cajoled them into putting down their weapons
and starting to talk. If Sudan's rulers make peace this year, it will be
largely because they are terrified of what George Bush might do to them if
they do not.
Interest rates crash
INTEREST rates have dropped dramatically on the back of heavy liquidity
injection from the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ)'s recent move to offer
support packages to six troubled banks.
Over the last two weeks interest rates have receded from a high of more than
900% to below 50% as sanity returns to the financial market.
Banks and financial firms are charging interest rates of between 20% and
The rates had skyrocketed a week after the monetary
leaving banks to scurry to cover their positions to meet their obligation to
Last week the RBZ bailed out six
banks from a serious liquidity crisis after
they confirmed that they were facing a serious shortfall.
This, according to market consensus,
increased the liquidity in the market
and pushed the rates to below the 50% mark.
Barbican Bank said it was quoting rates ranging from 15% to
depending on the duration of the investment.
bank poured in a lot of money to serve the indigenous banks.
This has provided excessive money on the market and demand is now low," said
an official in the bank's treasury department.
ABC Holdings Ltd is
quoting some of the lowest rates in the market with a
15% yield for a month-long investment and an 8% for 14 days.
The rates however vary
with the amount invested. The Jewel Bank of Zimbabwe
said it was offering between 20% and 40% due to the surplus funds on the
Other banks attributed the rates to the increased allocation
from the RBZ's
productive sector support rates.
companies have begun accessing the funds at 30% from
Reports from banks indicate that almost all manufacturing
firms that applied
for funds were successful.
An analyst at NMB
Bank said this had created low demand for funds.
"Most manufacturing companies have now turned to the RBZ for cheap funds.
The bank has been quite liberal with the money," said an official at NMB
Bank. "This creates a low demand on the money market, and thus pushes the
rates down. It is based on demand and supply."
Due to the downturn in the asset management
business there has also been a
sharp decline in consumptive borrowing.
NMB Bank was this week quoting rates of 15% on a 14-day
investment and 35%
on 30-day investment.
Most companies that had
borrowed at high interest rates are now using
subsidised productive sector rates to service their debts. Zimbabwe
Financial Holdings Ltd has temporarily suspended investments in the money
market owing to the excessive liquidity on the market.
"We are not quoting rates today. There are a lot of free
funds coming into
the bank through the deposits," said an official in the bank's treasury
division. The crunch that has hit asset management companies has also
contributed to the plunge on the money market. Most asset management firms
had liquidated their properties to cover their positions and meet
obligations on the market. Meanwhile, Zimbabwe's inflation went down for the
first time in two years to 598%, down from 620% in November.
Property prices begin tumbling
ZIMBABWEANS, frustrated by escalating prices, can now afford to smile as
property prices have begun to tumble by about 20% due to the lower interest
Property market analysts contacted this week however, said the "honeymoon"
could be short-lived and depended on whether the low rates of about 50% were
sustainable. Estate agents said prices had tumbled by an average of about
Analysts said the market was however
"static" because there was no cash
available for purchases since individuals were now more concerned about
securing basic commodities that continued to be found and sold only on the
Houses in the plush
northern suburbs which were now going for as much as $1
billion and about US$300 000 in foreign currency, have now been removed from
the market as sellers hold on to their properties. Estate agents were this
week requesting for "offers" for houses instead of placing US tags on
properties. The move comes as the foreign currency that was being requested
was later used for securing Zimbabwe dollars on the once lucrative parallel
The parallel market has taken a plunge ever since
Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe
(RBZ) governor Gideon Gono introduced an auction system at the central bank.
The US greenback, which was fetching up
to $7 000 against the local
currency, has fallen to about $3 600 on the streets of Harare.
I won't be intimidated says Gono
Ngoni Chanakira/Shakeman Mugari
RESERVE Bank of Zimbabwe boss Gideon Gono on Wednesday told ruling Zanu PF
parliamentarians that he won't be intimidated by anybody while he cleans up
the rot in the country's financial services sector.
The move comes as several MPs have allegedly been seeking audience with the
new governor to try and find out what his "hit-list" looks like.
Gono, who took over as RBZ boss on December 1, has already read
the riot act
and sent two financial institutions - ENG Asset Management and Century
Discount House - packing for failure to adhere to new RBZ regulations.
He has also evicted six banks - Trust, Time, Agribank,
and Barbican - from the clearing house auction system for flouting RBZ
"Members of Parliament will be
lobbied to try and see whether my agenda is
regional, sectoral or personal," Gono told stunned Zanu PF MPs. "We (RBZ)
have no axe to grind with anybody. Nothing beats credibility than issuing a
threat which you don't carry out."
The RBZ boss told businessdigest in his first exclusive
interview last month
that the time for politicians and business executives to hide behind fingers
while the economy collapsed was over.
there was rampant corruption within the financial services industry
that needed to be tackled immediately.
"I can safely say I have consulted
widely and will be responsible for all
that is in my Monetary Policy Statement," Gono told businessdigest in the
interview. "I think both politicians and business leaders should now come
clean on issues as we tackle them once and for all."
Insiders said there was now panic within the
financial services sector as
the governor's broom continues to sweep each room.
"Some of the bureaux de change operating from homes were being
run by top
government officials and some provincial tycoons and now they are afraid the
net is closing in on them," said a source within Zanu PF.
Gono said: "We mean business and we are serious about solving the
ills of the country."
Meanwhile, Gono has warned banks to
tighten their internal control systems
to curb the increasing fraud cases within the financial sector.
In a statement the governor said there
was a clear indication that some
banks were not taking measures to deal with the security loopholes that are
manipulated by internal staff to siphon millions from the system.
"In the majority of the cases, insiders, or
the banks' own staff have been
involved in the actual perpetration of these crimes," said the statement.
"The cases clearly indicate the inadequacy or laxity of the institution's
internal control systems in place."
The statement said the cases of forgery of security documents
that there was a total lack of management control and oversight over
day-to-day banking operations.
It said banks should
constantly review the strength of their risk management
systems to ensure early detection and identification of loopholes.
Two years ago the
RBZ issued Anti-Money Laundering Guidelines to be applied
by all registered banks.
The guidelines required banks to implement strong internal
information systems and accounting controls in relation to their operations.
Cases of fraud have been on the increase.
Holdings Ltd was recently defrauded of $7,7 billion by employees.
Such cases, said the central bank, would erode public confidence in the
The bank said some employees in local banks were using
information to unlawfully access client's accounts.
Border Timbers dispute rages on
THE wrangle between Border Timbers Ltd (Border) and government over
acquisition of its 20 000 hectares for the controversial fast-track land
resettlement programme rages on.
Last year the Minister of Lands, Agriculture and Rural Resettlement Joseph
Made listed 20 000 hectares of Border land for acquisition for resettlement
Border, with a market
capitalisation of $56 billion on the Zimbabwe Stock
Exchange, is a subsidiary of Radar Holdings Ltd previously led by
controversial business tycoon Chris Schofield.
Border managing director John Gahadzikwa in his statement
June 30 2003 financial results told shareholders that several shacks had
been erected on the company's land in areas that had been harvested mainly
in the Chimanimani Estates.
that all incidents were reported to the police, who
merely recorded them, but "then did nothing further".
Border handed the matter over to its
lawyers who immediately made objections
and appeals to the Administrative Court of Zimbabwe.
Subsequent to year 2002, the Attorney General's Office withdrew all Section
7 orders, to which the objections had been lodged in the administrative
court, conceding that the properties were protected by the German-Zimbabwean
Investment Protection Agreement.
Zimbabwe's fifth largest trading partner but relationships have
soured since the land acquisitions began in earnest about three years ago.
"Your company now awaits official notification from the Ministry of Lands,
Agriculture and Rural Resettlement delisting all Border properties that were
originally listed for designation for purposes of resettlement," Gahadzikwa
"In the meantime, your company will employ all
avenues open to it to restore
full and unrestricted ownership. The estates that have been invaded by
settlers are Tilbury and Charter, while the areas that have been listed
comprise the majority of Charter, Tilbury, Sheba, Imbeza and Sawerombe."
Company chairman Phillip Chipudhla in his
report for the year ended June 30
2002 said for the past three years people, in all sectors of society, had
been saying the situation in Zimbabwe could not continue for long.
He said: "The deterioration in the economy in
general continues, and the
prospects for individuals and companies look more and more terminal," he
said. "We, in the business circles, can only continue to highlight
shortcomings in the system and advise the country's leadership on how we
think the economy needs to be managed - with the hope that someone will take
heed of our advice. The future of your land at the estates remains unclear
notwithstanding that the relevant authorities have, repeatedly, stated in
public, that forest land and plantations, among other agro-industries, will
not be affected by land designations."
Chipudhla said Border continued to object to the
designations which had
taken place and the individual cases were with the company's lawyers.
"Subsequent to the year-end the Attorney General's office withdrew all cases
relating to Border land designations lodged with the Administrative Court,"
"Official notification of
withdrawals of the relevant Section 5's, 7's and
8's is awaited from the Ministry of Lands, Agriculture and Rural
Is there ‘hate speech’ in Zim?
IN this age of political correctness, hate speech remains a sensitive
subject, especially when put against the fundamental right to freedom of
Hate speech is a term for speech intended to hurt and intimidate
someone because of their race, ethnicity, national origin, religion, sexual
orientation, or disability.
Since the fall of Nazism in Europe after the Second World War and
closer to home following the end of apartheid in South Africa, the liberated
have remained sensitive to hate language and the use of “fighting words”,
especially in the public or mass media.
Fighting words were defined in a United States Supreme Court judgement
of 1942 as those that “by their very utterance inflict injury or tend to
incite an immediate breach of the peace”. In each of these categories the
expression regulated is injurious either to the rights of a specific
individual or to the public interest.
Media and Information Commission (MIC) chairman Tafataona Mahoso’s
letter to Zimbabwe Independent editor Iden Wetherell two weeks ago raises
the fundamental question of what constitutes hate speech in Zimbabwe.
Mahoso’s complaint with the Independent was that the editor had
allowed the publication of a letter which, he said, was “sweeping” in its
racist remarks. It should not have been published he said.
“The letter you published on January 2 2004 is typical of the worst
expressions of racism from the former slave territories of the United
States, from Apartheid South Africa and from the days of UDI in Rhodesia,”
“The fact that this is supposed to be only an individual’s letter
expressing individual opinion does not in anyway exonerate the editor or the
Media monitor Sizani Weza said Mahoso should not advocate censoring of
“Mahoso expects his opinions on the performance of the privately-owned
media to be heard,” said Weza. “He also expects his opinion on other
subjects to be granted the same status. Yet he wants the media to censor
opinions of others on some subjects. In the absence of any agreed national
and African values, such threats to the media are a recipe for disaster.”
A central aspect of the hate speech debate is that concepts of what is
acceptable and unacceptable differ, depending on eras in history and one’s
cultural and religious background. There is a nexus between a country’s
history and social values, and what can be termed hate speech. Social
scientists say the Zimbabwean scenario poses a problem as value systems have
been given definition and accent by the government and not necessarily the
public through consensus. This, they said, has narrowed the definition of
hate speech to focus on racism and anything considered disrespectful to
President Mugabe — even if he is prepared to take on his opponents using
what could be described as fighting words.
Some observers believe that the accusation of hate speech is often
made to suppress points of view which are unfavourable to certain “protected
groups”. This, the observes say, represents a significant infringement of
the tradition of journalistic freedom and gives members of these groups an
unfair advantage in the marketplace of ideas. The Jewish lobby has been
active in the defence of the Holocaust legacy.
Weza said what can be construed to be hate speech could just be a
matter of a point of view.
“One person’s hate speech will be another’s legitimate point of view.
To impose restrictions on what may be said is therefore a subject that can
only be discussed by regulatory bodies with unquestionable independence of
thought. As the MIC stands, its inadequate neutrality in addressing such
concerns has been found wanting in a court of law,” he said.
A court recently ruled that Mahoso’s commission was not properly
constituted. Mahoso has disputed this and has appealed to the Supreme Court
against the ruling.
Critics have however pointed that Mahoso’s commission should broaden
its horizon and open discussion on the subject instead of threatening
newspapers. They say his commission should start to probe forms of hate
speech which have been perpetuated by the public media and remain
Dr Vimbai Chivaura on the tele-vision programme National Ethos in
March 2002 tried to drum home the point that whites can never be Africans.
“Since the value system of the Europeans, of the white man, of the
Rhodesian in Zimbabwe is exclusive, it is racist, it does not have any place
for us,” he said. “We should come up with this kind of ethos: Zimbabwe for
Zimbabweans, Africa for Africans, Europe for Europeans. That is the starting
point because that’s what they do.”
There are well-documented accounts of politicians, including Mugabe,
making statements which border on incitement.
Apparent racist comments against the thinning white community have
been celebrated in the state media as words of valour.
“Our party must continue to strike fear in the heart of the white man,
our real enemy! Make them tremble,” Mugabe thundered during the height of
farm seizures in 2000.
In 2001 Vice-President Msika was quoted in the media as weighing in
with: “Whites are not human beings.”
A report by the Media Monitoring Project (MMPZ) on the role of the
media in the 2002 presidential election says Mugabe endorsed a racist
policy when he said his government had made a mistake by advocating
reconciliation with the whites at Independence.
“When you forgive those who do not accept forgiveness, when you show
mercy to those who are hard-hearted, when you show non-racialism to die-hard
racists, when you show a people with a culture — false culture of
superiority based on their skin — and you do nothing to get them to change
their personality, their perceptions, their mind, you are acting as a fool.”
The MMPZ commented on Mugabe’s statement: “It can be argued that this
was an official endorsement of a racist policy by government whose
justification was that whites did not accept reconciliation and remained
racist and therefore should be treated the same way.”
But in a tension-filled and antagonistic environment, critics have
pointed out that prohibiting hate speech does nothing to change the ideas
that give rise to the opinions behind the use of fighting words.
Although hate speech may be dangerous, one should not end it by
threats and intimidation, but by debate and discussion. As long as there is
no agreed code of ethics, the MIC cannot censure the media on the basis of
questionable media norms dressed in African nationalist regalia.
Britain/Zimbabwe Society backs Independent
AT its Annual General Meeting in London last November, the Britain/Zimbabwe
Society focused on issues of press freedom and the need to access
independent and informed opinion from Zimbabwe.
The Zimbabwe Independent was particularly identified as an excellent source
of news, not only within Zimbabwe, but also via your website throughout the
This is because your reporting is recognised as
independent, informed and
therefore concerned to hear about the recent arrest of four of
journalists and the sustained attacks upon the paper during the past weeks.
We support you fully in your attempts to investigate and
report upon events
in Zimbabwe maintaining an independent source of information.
We will be contacting the Embassy (no longer a High
Commission!) in London
to express our belief that a healthy society needs an independent press and
that we believe the attacks on your paper (regardless of the accuracy or
otherwise of the specific report on Mugabe's use of the national carrier)
are unhelpful to the maintenance of political debate and civic freedom.
Dr Diana Jeater,
Chair, Britain/Zimbabwe Society,
Principal Lecturer in African History,
University of Western England,
Zimbabwe's foreign policy destructive
I KNOW very little about foreign policy, but enough to understand that
Zimbabwe has either a dead foreign policy or a destructive one.
A country's foreign policy aims to make friends with other nations, to join
forces with them in creating a peaceful global village. A country's foreign
policy answers questions about human rights, democracy, the rule of law,
among other things.
Mugabe has re-invented our foreign policy
regime, converting it into an
arsenal against his personal enemies who include his own people. The results
makes enemies every day, antagonises traditional allies and
disappoints those who once idolised us. Zimbabwe exports headaches to its
neighbours while it alienates itself from the rest of the world.
In response to the
international community's enquiries about human rights,
democracy and the rule of law, citizens are tortured and killed, draconian
laws are invented and applied with surgical dedication against journalists
and human rights activists.
Recently, Mugabe has been urging China to transform into
global power to the US.
This is a foreign policy
strategy deriving from recklessness, arrogance, and
an irreversible suicidal streak. I haven't had the opportunity to spy on any
country's foreign policy formulating meeting, but my guess is that they do
not make foreign policies seeking aggression or personal alienation any
suggesting that small nations shouldn't engage the powerful on
matters of mutual concern. The international political arena is open;
leaders from great and small nations grapple in a perpetual duel to shape
global behaviour and ideals. But it costs to play this game; a country's
economic status determines who it does or doesn't align with.
That decision is always based on economic expectations.
What does Zimbabwe gain from
encouraging China to confront the West? Mugabe
seems determined to extend the so-called Chimurenga Three into some sort of
global superpower confrontation. This is taking madness to a new level,
Mugabe's pampering of China was simply a clever ploy to have
the Chinese replace the Bretton Woods funding institutes and fill our
begging bowl. This bowl is so huge that the famed Asian economic Tiger
offers little, if any, salvation from our economic woes.
Even if we get a penny from the
Malaysians and the Chinese, we'd still be
extending our begging bowl to the West, through Asia. Their economies are
dependent on the West.
International politics is all about economics. Zimbabwe hasn't
muscle to grapple with or distance itself from the rest of the world. It
will tire out, if not tumble into oblivion altogether, while its so called
Hate speech should cease
SHUVAI Mahofa and the Honourable MP for Zaka East Tinos Rusere's hate speech
against opposition supporters in the area cannot go unchallenged.
The two issued threats of violence during a donation ceremony at Madondo
Primary School on January 4.
Instead of concentrating on developmental issues in a
constituency that is
lagging behind others, the ageing Mahofa and the embattled Rusere took the
opportunity to declare war on MDC supporters in the area.
A person of Mahofa's age should not foment violence but urge
desist from it.
Rusere should feel ashamed of himself
because he has failed to deliver.
He should be wary of either losing that seat to another Zanu PF candidate
during the party's primaries or losing it to the MDC.
He promised to build more schools and upgrade roads but
up to now, Zaka East
doesn't have schools offering "A" levels, a boarding school or a referral
hospital. Despite the fact that he is deputy Minister of Rural and Water
Resources, Chinyabako Dam that burst more than two years ago for example is
yet to be reconstructed.
Right now he is
frantically trying to hijack the rural electrification
programme currently underway purporting it to be part of his achievements so
that he can retain his seat next year.
Honourable MP, people are not that ignorant and
they shall speak through the
Mahofa and Rusere, I see it
unacceptable for leaders like you to say: "vanhu
veMDC havagari muno."
It is rather a ruthless assault on democracy for honourable
MPs to declare
certain individuals enemies and instruct Zanu PF youths to evict them.
The two blood-thirsty politicians had the cheek to deny two popular MDC
officials Ratidzo Mugwagwa and one Marava residence in the area - a
declaration that should not be tolerated in a democracy. That declaration
also precludes the possibility of having a free and fair election in the
I urge the infamous Mahofa and her surrogate Rusere
to stop intimidating
people and work for the development of the area.
They should also know that the voice of the people is the voice
of God. So
they can chuck them out of office whether or not they preach violence.
I APPRECIATE diplomats and NGO heads serving in this country have to be
circumspect in what they say. After all, they are required to get along with
government as well as society at large.
Some are seen by government as too closely aligned to "the enemy": the
opposition, civic institutions and professional bodies. Ministers no longer
attend functions held by European Union, North American and Australasian
embassies because they are perceived as hostile to Zimbabwe.
In fact they are hostile
to dictatorship and very friendly to democratic
diversity. A senior Foreign Affairs official represents government at their
national-day functions. But he doesn't respond to toasts.
On the other hand, many African and
Asian states do not bother with civil
society, seeing their mission in Harare as pertaining only to relations with
government. They evidently haven't thought how they will be seen by
Zimbabweans when we have a democratic government!
One of the international institutions based in Harare
that needs to be more
responsive to democratic imperatives is the United Nations. The United
Nations Development Programme has for some years been overly anxious to be
associated with Zimbabwe's so-called land reform programme. But its audit
teams have found the situation on the ground so chaotic that they have been
unable to recommend the programme to donors.
This is as it should be. But on the other hand, UNDP staff
need to say what
the problem is and not remain eternally hopeful!
Unesco facilitates festivities and speeches on World Press
Freedom Day. But
that's the first and last we see of them!
agency most in the public eye at present is the World Food Programme.
But again it seems reluctant to speak out on the issues.
Take for example
the following interview with its director in Zimbabwe,
Kevin Farrell, broadcast by National Public Radio in the United States last
Farrell was asked by NPR host Renée Montagne: "Why the
drop in international
Farrell: "There are concerns, of
course, with respect to southern Africa in
general. It's difficult to measure, but I'm fairly sure that the demands for
food assistance in other parts of the country (sic) have probably impacted
Montagne: "Are donors reluctant to give because of what many
countries see as ruinous land redistribution policies of President Robert
Mugabe? Does that have any part in this?"
Farrell: "Well, I
think the first thing I'd like to say is that donors have,
in fact, been very, very generous in the past two years throughout southern
Africa and including in Zimbabwe. Some of the hesitation perhaps at this
time may relate to some difficulties that donors have with economic
Montagne: "What kind of rations are you running out of?"
Farrell: "The one that we have had a problem with or a shortage
of over the
last month or so has been the cereal, the corn."
Montagne: "And how long do you expect supplies to last?"
Farrell: "We've had to go onto half rations in December. The
supplies, we may be able to go back up close to a fuller ration of cereal in
January, but then February/March is looking very, very poor. Zimbabwe and
indeed all over southern Africa, the harvest would normally come in about
April, so the next two or three months, February, March and up until that
harvest, those are essentially the hungry months. Those are the difficult
months, before harvest."
Montagne: "Zimbabwe used to
export food. Could you remind us quickly what
"Certainly. In the last two years, drought has been a factor,
particularly in the 2001-2002 season. We'e looking, though, at the whole
range of economic difficulties. There's apparently an inflation rate of
about 600%. There's unemployment of about 70%. On top of all of that, you do
have a major problem throughout southern Africa, but I think perhaps
especially in Zimbabwe at this stage, a problem of HIV infection. And that
is having an impact both on the general economic situation and more
specifically on food production."
Would you say that was a frank and honest assessment of
the facts on the
ground? Or was it dissembling of the worst sort?
This is what the Daily Telegraph reported recently: "The World
Programme has slashed by half food handouts to Zimbabwe's starving millions
because President Robert Mugabe's government failed to alert donors to the
scale of the disaster. The WFP, a United Nations agency, said it had cut
rations since the beginning of the month to ensure it could feed more than
five million people, about half the population, until the harvest in May.
The agency said it had not raised enough money to buy the necessary
"The WFP's appeal went out six weeks late in
the middle of the year because
the Zimbabwe government had not quantified its needs until it was too late
to get the long 'food chain' moving, according to donors in Harare.
"Foreign food suppliers were also showing fatigue at what most see as a 'man
made crisis'. Zimbabwe was once southern Africa's 'bread basket' with huge
and efficient farms producing surpluses for sale abroad. But since Mugabe
began seizing white-owned farms in 2000, production has tumbled, leaving
millions without food.
"Even the United
Nations, reluctant to criticise President Robert Mugabe's
administration, has admitted that the government's confiscation of 90% of
productive land from white farmers had been a major cause of the crisis.
"'When the government finally got its act together, and said how much it
needed, we also discovered we would have to fund all food imports without
any contribution from the Zimbabwe government,' said an executive of a major
So not only did Farrell refuse to acknowledge the root
causes of the food
shortages, namely the Mugabe regime's reckless economic and land reform
policies (and its inability to fulfil its estimated quotas through the Grain
Marketing Board), he chose instead to focus on the donors for showing a
reluctance to increase their support.
This is not
true. The US government, through USAid, donated in fiscal year
2003, US$125 000 000 in humanitarian assistance. This fiscal year alone
(October to now) it has donated an additional $72 000 000.
And while problems of
drought and HIV infection may indeed be common to the
region, the fact is other countries are recovering much faster in terms of
What we need are UN representatives who, without losing
their diplomacy, are
prepared to tell it like it is. Dancing around the problems in some
misdirected concern for the sensitivity of their hosts is simply going to
compound official complacency and discourage donors.
The monster that eats its own children
By Chido Makunike
WE can learn a lot of things, other than the obvious ones, about what is
wrong with Zimbabwe from the hullabaloo about corruption that has begun and
that is probably going to preoccupy the regime of Robert Mugabe for some
time to come.
One of those things is how gullible we can be to the self-serving diversions
by the authorities of our attention from their culpability in making
Zimbabwe a mere shadow of the country it should and could be. Once our many
problems were all blamed on racist neo-colonialists who were resentful that
we were independent. Greedy capitalists who wanted to exploit our resources
and dared to actually want to make a profit from their investments have done
their bit to impoverish us. We all know the British and their friends have
imposed sanctions on our revolutionary government because they want to
recolonise us for their evil ends.
The list of
enemies who have nothing better to do than spend all their time
causing us misery is unending. That is another danger of the current frenzy
about corruption. Whites, bankers and politicians out of official favour for
one reason or another make soft, easy targets for blame for what ails the
society. They are powerful and wealthy but not necessarily popular groups
who the public is happy to see come down a peg or two. From the phase of
being told all our problems are caused by the British and their local
lackeys, we move to the stage of new-found economic devils trying to
frustrate the innocent government as the cause of our economic decline. It
is merely a new act in the tiresome, long running play of Mugabe being
seemingly incapable of taking responsibility for his policies and actions
and their results.
It is also amazing how easy it often is
to whip us up into a collective
frenzy as a catharsis for our frustration at the decline in the quality of
life, rather than to ask what brought it all about in the first place. What
is required to bring about an abiding turn around in our national fortunes
after we have had the temporary satisfaction of seeing pompous politicians,
businesspeople and bankers brought down to size? Is finally bringing these
people to book, parading them in handcuffs and prison garb to our delight
and picturing their ill-gotten toys now economic policy? Overnight fortunes
have been made from all kinds of speculation and we have a vague sense of
unease and resentment at this kind of "unearned" wealth and the way it is
flaunted. Should we also not be asking what turned a fairly stable,
production-based economy into one in which speculation made much more sense
than attempting to grow crops or make goods in a factory?
In the regime of Mugabe we have an unimaginative
government that is far more
adept at finding enemies and scapegoats than at creating conditions for
prosperity. Apart from outright repression and intimidation, we the populace
have made it easy for them to do so for all these years because we often
don't ask fundamental questions about what has brought us to our present
Corruption is the new bogeyman on
which all our economic ills can be blamed.
But if so, could it have gone on for so long at the level it did without the
president who now casts himself as a crusader against it unaware of it? How
do high ranking ruling party officials acquire vast, allegedly corrupt
property and investment portfolios without the police, the CIO and Mugabe
himself knowing about it? Could the various spy and security services not
have been aware of what was the subject of common talk in Harare for years,
or did the authorities choose to look the other way because they were an
integral part of the corruption? Or were perhaps the CIO too busy spying,
beating up and torturing citizens attempting to exercise their right of
democratic dissent to worry about highly placed crooks? Could it be that
these were considered the "legitimate" perks of supporting the status quo,
leading some who stand accused of massive corruption today to yesterday
openly boasting of how their ruling party membership and patronage, not
business acumen, had led to their "success?" If you want to do well like I
have done, you must also join Zanu PF, a high profile alleged crook once
openly, provocatively teased.
certainly was not a secret that many of the overnight newly rich, both in
the ruling party and outside of it, were engaged in corrupt activities. But
they often did so with the tacit as well as open support and participation
of hypocritical rulers who believe themselves to have covered up their own
corrupt tracks enough to now sacrifice their equally corrupt junior
I quite understand the shocked sense of
betrayal the corrupt pompous young
Zanu PF Turks must feel at being sacrificed the way that is happening by
seniors whose own dirty secrets they know. What is tragic about the youngish
high profile thieves is their obviously not having understood the high risks
of the game they were playing, along with the high rewards. The haughty high
profile young "playas" of Harare are being cynically, tragically getting
"played" by political mentors who no longer find it in their best interests
to continue with the game, at least in its present form. There is no honour
among thieves, it's everyone for himself when the heat is on!
While the long suffering public is
quite justified to feel a rare sense of
justice at our greediest and most corrupt high-profile citizens finally
being brought to book, we must not lose sight of the fact that this is also
a diversion meant to distract us from the real reasons for the decline of
Speculation in foreign currency is the result of its shortage, it is not the
basic cause. If hoarding of and speculation in mealie meal causes the price
to shoot up beyond prices that are widely affordable, it is fundamentally
because there is a shortage of it, and we must address the shortage to
permanently deal with the problem. Why does a sophisticated country like
Zimbabwe, drought or no drought, have a shortage of its staple food? It is
not enough for us to merely enjoy the temporary satisfaction of arresting
It is easy to ram through new laws declaring it
illegal to sell wheat or
other crops to anyone but the state grain monopoly. But a far more effective
way to deal with the problem is to address the fundamental issue that a
farmer will quite naturally want to sell his crop where he gets the best
return on his investment. Being naive about this only creates worse
shortages and forces producers to find more innovative ways to flout such
unreasonable laws. Apart from the shortages that result from this kind of
fire-fighting that has become a hallmark of the regime of Mugabe, it is
these kind of contradictions that make so many people lose respect for the
law. For significant levels of voluntary compliance with the law, that law
must be seen to be reasonable and fair, as well as fairly applied. This is
hardly the situation in Zimbabwe today.
I am not at all
surprised that economic collapse has had the result of
having the members of the Zanu PF hierarchy that benefited from it for so
long turn against each other. Flaunted "prosperity" that was not underpinned
by increased national productivity was always a giant, fraudulent pyramid
scheme that had to eventually collapse. But I am neither grateful for nor
particularly impressed by a cynical, highly selective scapegoating exercise
billed as an anti-corruption drive, orchestrated by the creators, godfathers
and main beneficiaries of that corruption!
Chido Makunike is a regular
Thumbs up to Moyo and his media group
By Kudakwashe Marazanye
I HEARTILY applaud Information minister Jonathan Moyo for his spirited
effort to expose corrupt leaders in both the party and public service
organisations. Moyo is proving to be the most effective minister we have had
Moyo is galvanising public opinion against thieving and corrupt public
figures and in getting appropriate organs of the state like the police to
take action. It is the same Moyo who got the lifeless academics at the
Reserve Bank to wake up from their slumber and start rolling up their
sleeves to address the problems bedevilling the economy. The appointment of
Dr Gideon Gono can be attributed to the campaign by the public media under
the effective and hands-on leadership style of Professor Moyo.
Now the parallel market is tottering on the brink of
collapse following the
combined efforts of law enforcement agents and the public media. Taking a
lead from the public media, the police have for once done a commendable job
in bringing the force of the law against the exposed vices and their
perpetrators. The illegal parallel gold market may well be doomed as the
public media (ZBC and papers in the Zimpapers stable) have led a vigorous
campaign against this vice. And now Moyo has exploded the myth that there
are untouchables in society who can commit crimes with impunity owing to
their political and economic muscle.
To some of us
passionate nationalists it had become embarrassing to
associate ourselves with the ruling Zanu PF, as the view among the members
of the public has been that Zanu PF was a haven of thieves and other
fugitives from the law. But now the chickens are coming home to roost for
those who came to Zanu PF to protect their ill-gotten wealth. There are a
lot more respectable criminals still to be exposed.
The law enforcement system has been compromised.
Rich criminals never go to
jail. The long arm of the law only stretches as far as the high-density
suburbs leaving out criminals ensconced in Borrowdale and some such places.
White-collar crime in this country is getting out of hand and the
fashionable thing for these smooth criminals is to join the up town churches
in the leafy northern suburbs pretending to be born again Christians. Car
dealers (a polite term for sophisticated car thieves) bribe people at the
Central Vehicle Registry and other relevant offices. They then use their
blood money to corrupt Pentecostal pastors (themselves crazy about earthly
possessions) so they can be given prominent positions in church.
Some businessmen have been heard to say they are joining Zanu
PF to protect
themselves should they be exposed to be operating outside the law.
Indigenous businessmen have been known to corruptly buy fuel from Noczim at
subsidised rates for resale at black market rates at their filling stations.
Yet others have been known to commandeer maize from the GMB under the
pretext of distributing it in their wards, only to sell at black market
prices and pocketing the proceeds.
Some will say coming
hard on these black criminals is an own goal against
indigenisation. But the discerning will dismiss that claim with the contempt
it deserves. Is it indigenisation that breeds criminals? Is it
indigenisation that produces corrupt public officials who pander to the
criminal whims of the few indigenous criminals hiding their crimes behind
the banner of indigenisation? No. We went to war not for the right to become
criminals but the right to have equal opportunities to use our abilities to
make money and better our living standards. If we do not put a stop to this
seemingly inexorable march towards the wholesale criminalisation of society,
very soon we will be exporting criminals - sophisticated though they maybe
like Nigeria yet from independence to the 1990s we were renowned for
exporting skilled and diligent workers.
Respectable criminals and corrupt officials inspire more
criminals from the
ranks of our youngsters and public servants. Leaving white-collar crime to
flourish also deals a felling blow to efforts at empowering women, as our
beauties are known to make a beeline for smooth criminals with lots of
money. Corruption is now killing the incentive for hard work to earn a clean
income. Industry is full of impostors whose CVs are full of lies about their
qualifications and experience. Many now corruptly get fake certificates
having paid officials in the education system.
So to Moyo, the public media and the police we say please
leave no stone
unturned in your efforts to eradicate this vice threatening our society.
These actions are aimed at wooing back voters who had deserted Zanu PF en
masse in protest at its collusion with criminal and corrupt elements. This
is meant to enhance Zanu PF's electoral fortunes in next year's
Government should consider raising
the economic standing of police and
judicial officers so that they are not bullied and corrupted by economically
powerful criminals. Government can do this by paying police and judicial
officers competitive rates. This need not necessarily be at private sector
rates, but competitive enough to make these officers respectable, not the
laughing stock of society.
competitive salary coupled with the provision of cars and houses will
sure go a long way in making them less prone to accepting bribes. Through
the Ministry of Public Construction and National Housing, government could
build houses for judicial and police officers whose positions make them
susceptible to corruption. These houses should remain government property.
training of police officers will need to be changed from the current
where emphasis is put on developing and encouraging the use of brawn and not
brain by the police force. Now that the native criminal is also a smart
thinker our ill-equipped baton-stick wielding police officers have been
found wanting. More resources should now be made available to train our
police force on how to deal with white collar crime instead of the current
over-policing of townships which has filled our jails with small time pick
This disproportionate attention to small time
criminals leaves white collar
crime to flourish, yet white collar crime costs society much more than pick
pocketing which is mostly motivated by need. White collar crime is always
motivated by greed. These measures will definitely inspire confidence in
these very important institutions of government and help in making them more
efficient and effective.
Kudakwashe Marazanye is a Harare-based freelance
Gono’s magic wand won’t do the
THERE was much jubilation this week when Zimbabweans were told by the
Central Statistical Office (CSO) that the country’s inflation figure had
gone down by 20,8 percentage points from a record 620,5% for November to
598,7% in December.
Some quarters, especially in government, were quick to point out that
inflation had nose-dived because of Reserve Bank governor Gideon Gono’s
monetary policy stance.
They said Finance minister Herbert Murerwa’s prediction that inflation would
stand at 700% during the first quarter of this year had been made to vanish
by Gono’s “magic wand” and inflation would now be less than 500% for this
Economists however point out fatal flaws in these claims. For one, the
statement was released in mid-December and so inflation figures would not
have been affected by Gono’s statement as CSO officials were still
collecting the necessary data.
Inflation figures are collected using what is termed a basket of goods and
services that the ordinary Zimbabwean needs for normal day-to-day upkeep.
These include milk, bread, cooking oil, low-quality meat, and fuel.
Inflation figures are also calculated on the cost of services such as
transport, accommodation and medical needs. That information is yet to feed
through for the current quarter.
Further, basic commodities are still not available on the shelves of major
supermarket chains but are stacked outside their front doors. They are
selling at exorbitant parallel market rates. These are not a part of the CSO
Fuel is also available on the parallel market resulting in transport costs
being pegged at these rates.
Rentals are pegged and in many instances now charged in foreign currency so
one needs to ask what basket is used when making the inflation calculations.
Health services are in the intensive care unit and there are no medicines in
the country. Only the well-to-do with foreign currency accounts have access
to services outside the country. What basket is used in such instances one
The auction system has been praised for bringing to an end the thriving
parallel market in the country.
The system, recommended by the Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries (CZI),
has however already come under fire from the same body that wanted it
The CZI says it now wants a pegged figure of $5 800 to the United States
dollar as opposed to the $4 195 average currently being used.
The CZI points out that an “unviably low” auction price in the initial
period will undermine exporter confidence in the auction system, delay
investment in export growth, and stimulate foreign currency demand for
consumptive purposes. The RBZ has thrown out the CZI’s suggestion.
While the auction system has brought about some sanity in the financial
services sector there is still a thriving parallel market on the streets of
Harare and Bulawayo.
One thing is evident though — there is little money trickling into RBZ
coffers at the moment. Businesses are holding onto their foreign currency in
anticipation that Gono will soon run out of steam or face obstacles.
There is a long list of Reserve Bank governors and Finance ministers who
tried to clean up Zimbabwe’s Augean stable but eventually met a brick wall
including Gono’s predecessors, Kombo Moyana and Leonard Tsumba.
The salient fact facing him is that the country is not earning sufficient
forex to meet its import needs. And inflation is 600% higher than that of
our trading partners.
Those facts on the ground are likely to fuel the parallel market — and with
it inflation — for some time to come.
At the end of the day we have to face another harsh reality. The government’
s scorched-earth land policies have sabotaged the country’s means to earn
forex through exports of tobacco and horticultural goods. And tourists are
staying away in droves as a result of the country’s well-deserved reputation
for political violence and selective application of the law.
There will be no foreign investment until the rule of law is restored. There
is no question of the Bretton Woods institutions extending
balance-of-payments relief until earlier conditions have been met. And the
land reform programme will need to be cleaned up and brought into line with
constitutional guarantees on property rights as the parliamentary legal
committee’s adverse report on proposed amendments underscores.
Gono will have difficulty dealing with those basics. While we don’t want to
rain on his parade, he should be the first to realise that the current
respite is only temporary.
Sooner or later he will have to face the hard facts that underthe current
regime a misma-naged economy, macro-economic distortions, corruption and
shortages have become a way of life. He may tinker at the margins. But
without the engagement of the international community and nationally agreed
land and economic policies Zimbabwe’s future remains bleak.
Eric Bloch Column
Mixed reactions surround forex auctions
LAST week witnessed the commencement of Zimbabwe’s foreign currency
auctions, intended to bring some rationality to the country’s management of
its very limited resource of critically needed foreign exchange.
By bringing the auction system into being, the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe
(RBZ) has sought to maximise the flow of foreign currency through official
channels, as distinct from the long operative parallel and black markets.
Concurrently, the expectation is that in the absence of a free float of the
Zimbabwean dollar, the auctions will result in rates of exchange which
determine the value of the country’s currency at real levels. Moreover,
although constraints of an insufficiency of foreign currency will inevitably
continue for the foreseeable future, the auctions are anticipated to ensure
a greater availability for essential needs, instead of unofficial markets
enabling diversion of the scarce commodity (hard currencies) to purposes
unrelated to such essential needs.
But the first two auctions have evoked very mixed reactions. Importers have
undoubtedly welcomed the fairly considerable decline in the cost of foreign
currency from the parallel market rates that prevailed in December 2003. In
mid-December, the parallel market was operating at rates approximating to
US$1: $6 500, whilst the black market, mainly operational in the
back-streets of Bulawayo, in proximity to Harare’s leading hotels, and in
car parks and pathways of Victoria Falls, operated at rates reputedly about
US$1: $5 500. By contrast, the weighted average rate at the first auction
was US$1: $4 196,58, whilst at the second auction the weighted average rate
was marginally lower, at US$1: Z$4 177,16.
Resultantly, some importers were ecstatic, having visions of funding future
imports at about two-thirds of the cost of like imports only a month ago. At
the same time, many exporters were cast into almost immediate panic, for
they foresaw a sharp drop in export proceeds, resulting in an imminent
collapse of their operations, bearing in mind especially the continuing
impact of inflation upon their operating costs. And, whilst the exporters
and the importers had such divergent reactions to the outcome of the first
auctions, the Minister of Fiction, Fable and Myth, and his minions in the
state-controlled audio, visual and print media immediately rhapsodised the
alleged, instantaneous drop in prices of many goods, and eulogised the
auctions as vehicles to the restoration of national wellbeing and the
elimination of poverty.
That will not be so, for a temporary exchange rate drop, concurrently with
rising operational costs, cannot bring about price reductions.
In practice, all these reactions to the first two auctions were
ill-considered and misplaced. In the first instance, those auctions give
very little indication as to probable future rates, for several reasons. At
the end of the day, the over-riding criteria in determining the rates that
will be bid for foreign currency, will be the relationship between supply
and demand. If the amount of currency offered at the auction exceeds demand,
bids will progressively, from auction to auction, decline. On the other
hand, if the demand for the currency exceeds supply, bids will steadily
increase, auction after auction, until they reach levels at which a
willingness of many to bid diminishes, and ultimately disappears. When that
occurs, the ratio between supply and demand progressively changes,
eventually again impacting upon bid levels. And, as bids escalate the
exchange rate upwards, until importers contract their operations due to an
inability to maintain viability of operations, those higher rates provide
enhanced operational viability and competitiveness to exports, enabling them
to expand export operations. That results in an increased supply of foreign
exchange, progressively resulting in lower bids at the auctions.
So, undoubtedly, there will be rate peaks and troughs as time goes by, as is
the case in open money markets the world over although in most of those
markets there is usually far less volatility in rate movements than in a
contracted economy such as Zimbabwe. The Zimbabwean economy is subject to
very radical movements at very short notice in response to its
roller-coaster political and fiscal policies and usual disregard by the
political hierarchy for fundamentals of good governance and economic
However, most reactions to the first two auctions, be they positive,
negative or ambivalent, are premature, for those auctions could not, and
should not, be benchmarks upon which to draw conclusions and formulate
future business policies. That they are not authoritative indicators is due
to several factors.
First of all, they commenced at a time when the economy is most inactive.
The first auction was held on the same day as many factories reopened after
their annual industrial recess, whilst many other factories only resumed
operations this week, and others have yet to do so. Therefore, few — if
any — industrialists will have been bidders at last week’s auctions.
Moreover, bids could not be submitted unless and until approval of the
Exchange Control Authorities had been received for the payments to be made
with the currency to be sourced at the auctions.
Although the RBZ aspires to process applications for such approvals within
24 hours of receipt, the aggregate lead-time in obtaining approval is
greater, including the administrative processing by the applicant, then
processing by the relevant branch of the applicant’s bankers, who must in
turn forward the application to the centralised Exchange Control division of
that bank, which must lodge the application with the RBZ. After
determination of the application, the approval has to traverse the same
routing in reverse. Then an auction bid can be submitted, again traversing
that potentially extended administration path.
With the first auction being only 12 days into the new year, there were not
likely to be many who could have, or would have, done all the necessary to
submit a bid. In addition, many were ill-disposed to bid at the first
auction, they adopting a “wait and see” attitude, fearing that their bids at
that stage could be markedly higher than necessary. They also had no idea as
to the extent of foreign currency as would be offered at the auction, and
therefore could not exercise a judgment as to the probable relationship
thereof to demand, and hence an assessment as to the requisite bid level.
That this was so was very clearly evidenced by the data of the first
auction. US$5 million was on offer, but there were only seven bids, seeking
a total of US$477 557,91 (ie only 9,55% of the currency on offer). The bid
range was from $4 000 to $4 900 per US$1, yielding the weighted average
auction rate of US$1: $4 196,58.
The second auction took place three days later, and potential bidders were
aware that the amount on offer would be at least US$4 522 442, being the
carry-over from the first auction, even if no further currency were to hand
for auction. At a time when very clearly demand would be relatively low,
with the near inactivity of industry and retail trade in post-Xmas doldrums,
exacerbated by lesser than expected year-end sales and, therefore,
overstocked positions, there was every motivation to bid low, and many did.
In a matter of three days, between the first and second auctions, the range
of bids widened significantly. At the first auction, the lowest bid was
US$1: $4 000, and the highest was US$1: $4 900. When the second auction was
held, the highest bid was only $100 greater, at to US$1: $5 000, whilst the
lowest bid fell from $4 000 to $3 500. However, it was significant that the
weighted average bid rate fell by a mere $19,42 to $4 177,16 only.
It is also significant that, although the economic activity remained in the
usual start-of-year lethargy, nevertheless the number of bids rose from
seven in the first auction to 50 in the second. Undoubtedly, that was
because some who were not administratively ready to bid at the first, were
ready to do so at the second, but it was very probably also because some
felt that the results of the first auction provided them with some
indications or guidelines enabling them to decide on their bid level.
Of course, if the rate does not rise to some significant degree, many mines,
horticultural enterprises, and industries will be unable to export without
sustaining massive losses, and most tourism ventures (already embattled)
will confront immense operational difficulties and their survival will be at
Are they all our ‘beloved friends’?
THE Zimbabwe Independent is under sustained assault on all fronts as the
state ratchets up its campaign to silence any criticism of its failed
policies ahead of next year’s parliamentary poll. It seems to think that if
the press is trampled on the public won’t notice the economic devastation
its scorched-earth policies have wreaked.
There is also an imaginative attempt by the regime’s spokesmen to suggest
the victims of the government’s current crackdown in the business sector are
all friends of the Zimbabwe Independent.
“Has anyone noticed,” asked the Sunday Mail’s political editor Munyaradzi
Huni, “how the Zimbabwe Independent and the Standard are failing to
understand what has really hit their beloved friends in the private sector
that they used to present as the cleanest sector in the land?”
So all the Zanu PF-linked businessmen who were able to build their fortunes
on their links to political power and who operated for years unmolested by
the state’s supervisory institutions were our “beloved friends” were they?
We rather thought we had warned of the dangers of political cronyism in the
business sector and pointed to the weak institutional arrangements
surrounding favouritism and selective contracting. Did we not alert readers
to Roger Boka’s United Merchant Bank, the FNBS scandal and other systemic
failures? Were those our “friends”?
Nice try Cde Huni. But you should be asking why it has taken President
Mugabe 24 years to get around to this latest blitz. How was all this
corruption allowed to grow? And why doesn’t the blitz include ministers who
became very rich very quickly? Because let’s get real, while some
inconvenient tall poppies may be cut down to size because they have offended
the powers-that-be by distributing a few leaflets in Masvingo seeking the
departure of the old guard, this is by no means an even-handed campaign. It
will extend only as far as it is allowed to. The Gono juggernaut will be
halted in its tracks as soon as it approaches the citadel of power.
One area in which we warned about cronyism and unregulated business activity
was in regard to the DRC. We shone a bright light on the dodgy diamond
deals, exposed the mining contracts, and were suitably sceptical about Arda’
s role in agriculture and forestry. We pointed out that Zimbabwe’s military
was unqualified to run commercial enterprises, especially when up against
Laurent Kabila’s shifty ministers and vastly more experienced Lebanese.
Now our leadership is bitter that the South Africans have moved in on
“their” turf. Ironically, this, we were told, is exactly what Zimbabwe went
into the Congo to prevent. And it is interesting to note that the same sort
of resentment that used to be directed against Nelson Mandela’s diplomacy in
the region is now being directed at Thabo Mbeki who last week completed a
highly successful visit to the DRC which his large business entourage took
full advantage of.
Large contracts were signed in mining and other sectors, the South African
media triumphantly reported.
“As he went around doing his business,” the Sunday Mail’s Huni grumbled,
“did the SA leader ever stop to think what could have happened to that
country if countries in the region had chosen to be cowards as his country
did and refused to send soldiers to defend that country from the invading
Ouch. Something’s hurting here.
The same author is in an unforgiving mood. On another front he is as mad as
hell with gay rights campaigner Peter Tatchell for his legal bid to have
Mugabe arrested on human rights charges. The “gay pig” should have his jaw
torn apart, Huni wrote. But not content with this savage reprisal, others
who aided and abetted Tatchell should be treated to a similar fate.
“Ray Choto and Gabriel Shumba, who joined in the gay pig’s dirty game when
they testified in court in the stupid case, should also not be spared,” he
This jaw-breaking declaration comes as editors in the government media are
due to pledge — for the benefit of South African colleagues and donors — to
uphold tolerance and the “highest professional standards” in the Zimbabwean
The Herald’s Nathaniel Manheru showed us just what those standards are. In a
poisonous diatribe he described our editor Iden Wetherell as “a colonial
nomad” who the “sons of the black African soil have to suffer until the
scythe of time makes its remedial harvest”. That couldn’t be soon enough he
This intemperate attack led in turn to a bitter denunciation of white
liberals in the 1970s who, it was darkly hinted, were really Special Branch
spies. Student demonstrations involving “Wetherell and his ilk” invariably
led to retribution from the Special Branch, Manheru claimed.
“I happen to be old enough to know…A number of black students, some of them
my relations, lost their lives or were disabled for life from torture.”
Who is old enough to know? Herald editor Pikirayi Deketeke gallantly told a
judge at a chambers hearing recently that he was the author of the Nathaniel
Manheru column assisted by colleagues at the paper. But he would have been
about 10 in 1976! On the other hand the individual most closely associated
with the column in media reports has been said by liberation war veterans to
have made no contribution whatsoever to the war — apart from running away
Contrary to Manheru’s assertion, Wetherell made no claim about Zapu. That
came from wire copy. And since when has Manheru been a Zapu spokesman? But
the malevolent columnist is nevertheless bent upon “retributive justice”,
suggesting access to the weapons of state power. Let’s hope they don’t
include a scythe!
Muckraker feels it is time Local Government minister Ignatius Chombo was
interdicted from interfering in council affairs, especially those of an
administrative nature. Two weeks ago Harare councillors gave town clerk
Nomutsa Chideya sweeping powers to implement council policies. According to
a Herald report, Chideya was given full powers to hire, fire and restructure
council in line with its objectives to deliver efficient service.
The following week Chombo resurfaced at Town House to order that some 22
employees dismissed or sent on forced leave in 2002 be reinstated because
the reasons for their dismissal or suspension were “non-professional”. Yet
Chideya’s mandate now, according to the Herald, is to “eradicate
indiscipline, insubordination, laziness, absenteeism and any other forms of
Muckraker wonders whether Chideya will finally be allowed to carry out his
mandate without waiting for political orders from Chombo who doesn’t appear
to have better things to do. And why does he want all issues of “personnel
nature” directed to his office for approval when there is a fully elected
council to carry out people’s wishes?
Only last week Chideya reported that council was paying up to 700 workers
who were “sitting on abolished posts”. Most of these employees, revealed
Chideya, “only reported for work but quickly disappear to do their private
Surely there is need for an inquiry to find out if council is providing
sheltered employment for certain people and what Chombo’s interest is. After
all, it is ratepayers, not Chombo, who pay their salaries.
So good news on the economic front. Inflation is down from 620% to 598%. And
the Zim dollar is firming against hard currencies. Foreign currency rates
have taken a “massive dip” against the local unit, we are told. On Monday
the US dollar traded at $3 842 compared to $4 177 last week.
In what other country in the world would the official press be able to get
away with claiming that a reduction in inflation from 620% to 598% was good
news? Or that the local unit, that was worth more than a US dollar in 1980,
is now trading at $3 842 to US$1?
As all the ingredients of inflation are still feeding into the system, most
notably government borrowing and money supply growth, there is not much
light at the end of the tunnel. Forex inflows remain well short of what is
needed to fund imports and our inflation rate is hugely out of sync with
those of our main trading partners.
The black market may have been temporarily dampened, but does anybody really
think Gono is able to resuscitate agriculture or persuade his friends in
Zanu PF to get the macro-economic fundamentals in order? And why do we have
to live with arbitrary crackdowns and blitzes instead of consistent,
Air Zimbabwe is threatening to sue the Zimbabwe Independent for suggesting,
it claims, that its managing director and board of directors are “weak and
inefficient managers who buckle under pressure from politicians”.
Just to show this is not the case, the airline rushed to tell the Herald of
its action before the Independent had been given an opportunity to respond!
The airline claims that all but 18 of its passengers who were due to fly to
London on January 5 were contacted and told of the rescheduling. Those that
turned up at the airport were either provided with accommodation or returned
to their homes. There were therefore no passengers who were stranded, Air
Zimbabwe says. During the week the president was away no single Air Zimbabwe
flight to London was cancelled or materially affected except for the
rescheduling that occurred on January 6, it says.
Any passengers who feel they were inconvenienced on this or any other flight
as a result of President Mugabe’s use of an Air Zimbabwe plane should
contact this newspaper with the details. So should travel agents. We may
need to challenge the airline’s explanations. Your replies will be treated
In the meantime, Zimbabwe Inde-pendent readers should be remi-nded that when
making their travel plans they have a choice as to which airline they use.
This particularly applies to Zimbabweans living abroad and foreign visitors
to this country. Do you agree with Air Zimbabwe’s threats against the
Zimbabwe Independent? Do you agree that passengers are not inconvenienced
during presidential charters? Do you see the airline as efficiently managed
and free of political pressure as it claims? Tell us what you think. And
remember, you can make a difference when booking your next flight.
Muckraker’s tailpiece: Q: What’s the difference between Zanu PF and a Blair
A: The Blair toilet has improved the lives of millions of Zimbabweans.