FUGITIVE High Court judge Benjamin Paradza might have smuggled himself out
of the country hidden in a haulage truck before heading for a "safe"
hideout, most probably in the United Kingdom.
Intelligence sources said Paradza, who skipped bail this month and claims to
be a victim of political interference in the judiciary, could have slipped
out of the country through Beitbridge with the help of a cross-border
The sources said he later made arrangements in South Africa to seek refuge
in the UK, a fierce critic of Harare's human rights record.
It is suspected that some high-ranking government officials may have had a
hand in Paradza's escape.
Paradza, a liberation-war fighterturned-judge, breached his bail conditions
while awaiting sentence on January 13. The 49-year-old judge, who was on
bail pending sentence, had been convicted of two counts of corruption after
inciting two fellow judges to release a passport belong to his business
partner who was facing murder charges.
A warrant of arrest has since been issued against Paradza and faxed to all
border posts and international airports.
Police spokesman Wayne Bvudzijena said the force is still to locate Paradza
but professed ignorance about the information picked by The Financial
Gazette this week.
"We are anxious to bring him back into the country. It is also in his
interest to come back, because as it is, he is a fugitive from justice. We
don't have that information, but whatever the case might be, when we
eventually get him, we will be able to get the information." Bvudzijena
A number of business executives have skipped the country to escape a
crackdown on corruption, now being driven by the Anti-corruption Commission,
headed by former comptroller and auditor-general, Eric Harid.
Those rumoured to have sought refuge in the country's former colonial
master, UK, include former NMBZ executives Julius Makoni, James Mushore,
Otto Chekeche, Francis Zimuto, who fled the country in March 2004.
Other fugitives include Nicholas Vingirai, founder of Intermarket Holdings,
Mthuli Ncube who founded Barbican Bank as well as former ZANU PF sympathiser
Mutumwa Mawere who is believed to be in South Africa. Some of these
fugitives are said to have skipped the country after they were tipped of
their imminent arrest by "well-placed sources".
Asked whether the failure to nab Paradza and the other fugitives is not
indicative of the ineffectiveness of the International Police Organisation
(Interpol), Bvudzijena said:
"The ZRP (Zimbabwe Republic Police) doesn't have jurisdiction outside its
own country. We have to talk to Interpol and it is the member countries that
will help with the tracing of the fugitives. So, it is not that they
(Interpol) are ineffective, what we need is concrete information."
Munyaradzi Mugowo Own Correspondent
BROAD money supply, M3, grew rapidly from 177.6 percent in January 2005 to
411.5 percent in November 2005 due to excessive money printing by the
central bank to finance grain and fuel imports. Gideon Gono, the Reserve
Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) governor said the lender of last resort had to print
more money to stabilise external payments and support quasi-fiscal
"We have not had Balance of Payment (BOP) support for nine years now. There
has not been any capital formation to build or rehabilitate infrastructure.
Extraordinary times require us to be inclusive and resourceful in our
approach even in ways, which are sometimes unorthodox.
"We chose to print money in 2005 in order to survive. If we had not
intervened, agriculture would have collapsed completely," Gono said.
Money supply is a key instrument of monetary policy used by monetary
authorities to smoothen short-run monetary disturbances such as inflation
and unstable exchanges rates, or to manipulate interest rates in an effort
to encourage investment and stimulate economic activity.
M3 growth in January 2004 was estimated at about 500 percent, but gradually
fell to nearly 150 percent in August 2005 due to reserve asset ratio
adjustments and other money supply and credit control measures, before
shooting steeply from September reaching about 412 percent in November.
Central bank credit to government - a desperate fire-fighting measure when
local credit markets cannot meet state financing requirements - constitutes
an adverse money supply shock because it is not consistent with money demand
and changes in real incomes.
Domestic lending to the government rose from an annual growth rate of about
200 percent in October 2004, when it was neck-and-neck with the private
sector, but shot to 1 200 percent in March 2005 before decelerating to
slightly above 600 percent in November last year, while private sector
credit continued to fluctuate around 200 percent.
When the ratio of private-to-public sector domestic monetary base is skewed
in favour of government, money supply expands at a rapid and unpredictable
rate, fuelling speculative borrowing and other forms of rent-seeking
behaviour, which ignite hyperinflation.
Rangarirai Mberi Senior Business Reporter
Governor urged to name crooked government officials
ANTI-CORRUPTION groups have backed central bank governor Gideon Gono's
strong criticism of top level corruption, but have challenged him to name
the corrupt officials.
Gono on Tuesday blamed corruption among senior government officials for
stalling economic recovery programmes and causing massive losses at
parastatals and criticised government's half-hearted attempts to root out
Corruption was deep seated, Gono said, and it included illegal seizure of
farms and equipment, fuel procurement, gold and commodity smuggling and the
milking of parastatals. Zimbabwe lost nine tonnes of gold worth US$160
million last year.
"The rot is just so widespread and deep rooted one doesn't know where to
start from and stop, but we must, (fight it) urgently. The most disturbing
fact about this corruption is that it is us the 'chefs' that are taking the
lead," Gono said.
Gono is pushing for a national code of conduct for senior government
officials, which would be a revival of the earlier Leadership Code discarded
by government late in the 1980s. But he also supported an amnesty for those
previously charged with economic crimes.
Although government has set up an anti-corruption commission and promised a
sweeping campaign to root out top level graft, Zimbabwe still ranks among
the most corrupt economies in the world.
Transparency International Zimbabwe (TI-Z) and the African Parliamentarian
Network Against Corruption Zimbabwe (APNAC), yesterday criticised the
anti-corruption commission, saying the body had remained silent on the
scourge since its formation last year. Poor civil service salaries and
multiple fuel prices were also fueling inflation, the two groups said in a
"We are concerned that high-ranking officials in the government and
parastatals continue to cling to their offices while they are now A2
farmers, a circumstance that has led to abuse of power," TI-Z and APNAC
Critics say Gono's reluctance to follow up on an earlier threat to
name-and-shame reveals he has little support inside government for a full
scale fight against corruption.
In his monetary policy statement, Gono said Zimbabweans must have their
dignity and personal freedoms back.
"We believe that time has come to give back confidence to our people,
decriminalize them, give them self worth, self respect and greater economic
space and freedom."Pressure groups applaud Gono
FERTILISER industry chiefs, on the verge of ceding their firms to the
government, which plans to set up a national fertiliser company, have
accused the authorities of killing the sector through bad policies and then
undervaluing their business assets before the planned takeover.
Official reports say the government has, through the central bank, made
provisions for $1.5 trillion for the takeover of Sable Chemicals - the
country's sole manufacturer of ammonium nitrate - as well as Windmill and
the Zimbabwe Fertiliser Company (ZFC).
Industry players have, however, valued the assets of the three firms at
about $13 trillion, raising prospects of a lengthy wrangle over the
The government holds equity in Sable (36 percent) and ZFC. Diversified
conglomerate TA Holdings is the controlling shareholder in Sable with 51
percent, and the group also owns 12.75 percent of ZFC. Norwegian firm Yara,
which wholly owns Windmill, is also an investor in Sable, with 11 percent of
TA, which last week confirmed that negotiations with the government for its
investment in Sable are currently in progress, hinted that pricing could be
a sticky issue.
Industry sources, who declined to be named for fear of complicating current
negotiations, indicated that the industry had been hamstrung by price
controls. No fertiliser price increases were approved between March 2004 and
May 2005, even as inflation spiralled.
The sources said recent desperate moves by the government to import ammonia
painted a graphic picture of the problems besetting the sector.
The government imported 1 000 metric tonnes of ammonia for sale to Sable at
US$498 per tonne at the mid-rate of Z$96 500 to the greenback, translating
to Z$48.1 million per tonne.
A single tonne of ammonia can produce up to two tonnes of ammonium nitrate
(AN). A tonne of AN has a production cost of about $30.7 million, but its
price is currently pegged at $3.79 million per tonne, a massive gap that has
seen Sable making huge losses.
Production levels at the company have sagged as a result, with Sable
registering a decline form a peak of 243 000 tonnes in 2000 to just over 112
000 tonnes last year.
The government now hopes to absorb the massive cost of the fertiliser
subsidies as it moves to salvage its land reform programme that has been
plagued by poor planning and execution, dramatised by incessant input
Analysts say the move will see Zimbabwe's long-suffering taxpayer once again
picking up the bill.
The government's imminent nationalisation of the fertiliser industry has
already caused shivers in the seed industry, amid indications that the
government would want to settle the issue of inputs "once and for all".
Kumbirai Mafunda Senior Business Reporter
PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe's government has pledged to forestall further farm
seizures by undertaking to afford the country's productive farmers top
Central bank governor Gideon Gono disclosed on Tuesday that President Mugabe's
most powerful Minister Didymus Mutasa who heads the State Security ministry
and is also in charge of the Lands, Land Reform and Resettlement portfolio
had undertaken to block fresh farm invasions and disruptions so as to
restore stability on productive farms.
He said the central bank was in the process of drawing a list of
agro-producers whose farms must be spared from the disruptive invasions.
"We are pleased that, Hon. Minister D.N.E Mutasa, responsible for State
Security, Lands, Land Reform and Resettlement, Government will move to halt
any farm disruptions, particularly where the concerned farmers have borrowed
from the Agricultural Sector Productivity Enhancement Facility (ASPEF) and
other financial sector loans," Gono said Tuesday in a televised address of
the 2005 fourth quarter monetary policy review statement.
The continued farm occupations, Gono said, which could scuttle the
agricultural sector-the cornerstone of the Zimbabwean economy-were worrying
as the RBZ and other financial institutions had pumped large chunks of funds
into the sector to build the capacity of identified farmers, who
unfortunately are being driven off their properties.
"The Central Bank has invested seven trillion dollars in the agricultural
sector to build the capacity of identified farmers and we get distressed
with every story of equipment and infrastructure vandalism, crop
dispossession without willingness to assume the ancillary liability or bank
loan," said Gono. "To us that behaviour is theft," he added.
Through its $7 trillion Agriculture Sector Productivity Enhancement Facility
(ASPEF), which was set up early 2005 to ensure food security and generate
foreign currency through exports and import substitution the RBZ had by
December 2005 doled out $5.59 trillion to 2 647 applicants.
He rounded on some farmers who he said were making a farming career out of
hoping from one new farm to another and in the process displacing
debt-ridden farmers and equated them to saboteurs and thieves.
"The unfortunate occurrences - as have happened in some cases where a farmer
borrows, tills, the land, plants and before harvesting, someone pitches up
with an offer letter, taking over the crops and equipment (assets), refusing
to inherit liabilities - cannot be allowed to happen again unchecked, as
this leaves the borrowed farmer(s) and the lending bank(s) in a predicament.
Gono, who is attempting to right Zimbabwe's seven-year-old economic slump,
also said government could not continue to ascribe a poor harvest this year
to the vagaries of successive droughts and teething problems of the land
redistribution programme, because the government had declared the land
parcelling exercise a "done-deal".
Kumbirai Mafunda Senior Business Reporter
STATE Security and Lands, Land Reform and Resettlement Minister Didymus
Mutasa has blocked the occupation of a prime farming estate belonging to
listed agro-exporter Ariston Holdings by three senior government and ruling
party officials, The Financial Gazette can reveal.
Informed sources told The Financial Gazette this week that Ariston
approached Mutasa, President Robert Mugabe's trusted and most powerful
Cabinet minister, to intervene and spare the farm from occupation after some
senior government officials had produced offer letters claiming entitlement
to Kent Estates late last year.
Two of the officials, namely Clerk of Parliament Austin Zvoma and one
Washaya, had approached Ariston, the owners of Kent Estate - a 10
000-hectare farm in Norton - armed with offer letters signed by then Lands,
Land Reform and Resettlement Minister John Nkomo in March 2005. At the time
Zvoma said he was entitled to 940 hectares, while Washaya claimed 600
hectares. The third official is the deputy Agriculture Minister and ZANU PF
MP for Mhondoro, Sylvester Nguni, who is understood to have been offered 780
However, after Ariston's appeal, sources said, Mutasa invited some company
officials and the "new owners" - among them Zvoma and Washaya - on a tour of
the estate on January 7. Nguni did not take part in the tour.
The sources disclosed that after the tour, Mutasa was extremely impressed
with the productive activity underway at the estate and immediately summoned
Zvoma and Washaya to his offices the following Tuesday where he withdrew the
offer letters which had been allocated to the officials by his predecessor.
"The minister was so impressed that he felt it should not be disturbed by
people coming from outside," the sources said. "They (officials) were told
not to interfere and to leave the operation to run."
Yesterday Mutasa confirmed revoking the offer letters the government had
given to Zvoma, Nguni and Washaya.
"I withdrew them," said Mutasa. 'The terms of the offer letter are that it
can be withdrawn and that is written on the letter. They were using the land
belonging to Ariston people so Ariston people are the original owners of the
When pressed to disclose the reasons for the withdrawal, Mutasa could only
say: "I did not feel it was necessary to offer them land."
News of Mutasa's invalidation of the offer letters came as central bank
Gono, who together with Finance Minister Herbert Murerwa, has condemned the
new wave of farm occupations, announced that the government had committed
itself to stop fresh farm seizures by pledging top priority protection to
the country's productive farmers from any form of disruptions to their
Ariston, which has been operating on Kent Estates for 15 years, is one of
Zimbabwe's largest cut flower, tea and coffee producers.
Kent Estate is the biggest outgrower to conglomerate CFI Holdings. It
produces 1.2 million chickens a year, breeds 1 000 beef cattle and grows
roses and other flowers which Ariston exports to the European Union.
In the year to December, Kent Estates contributed an after-tax profit of $28
billion to Ariston's profits.
Rangarirai Mberi Senior Business Reporter
WHEN central bank governor Gideon Gono said on Tuesday that he saw inflation
racing to 800 percent by March, his audience gasped in horror. But critics
say his estimates may in fact be conservative.
Despite Gono's new estimates being a steep downgrade on his earlier
forecasts, the plunge in the value of the Zimbabwe dollar over the past
week, expectations of higher wage demands and inflation expectations may in
fact take the rate above
1 000 percent by the end of this quarter, economists say.
Gono had earlier projected inflation at 60-80 percent by the end of 2006,
but now sees the figure ending the year at 230 percent.
However, Gono continues to see a dip in the rate after the first quarter
that will take inflation towards double digits by mid-2007.
Economists do not share this optimism and instead worry that the rate may
now be out of the reach of the central bank, which has pledged a tighter
monetary policy to slow inflation.
"At its current levels, inflation becomes self-perpetuating because of
expectations of higher inflation," economist James Jowa told The Financial
Economists say because of stronger inflationary pressures, Gono will be
trapped between the need to suppress money supply growth on one side, and
pressure to print more money to fund government spending, which will only
increase with inflation.
The central bank governor conceded that his programme of sinking cheap
funding into the ailing agricultural and industrial sectors had broadened
money supply (M3) growth, up from 177.6 percent in January 2005 to 411.5
percent by November. But Gono's justification is that "theory does not apply
to survival situations".
While admitting that cheap funding had fuelled inflation, Gono has however
planned a new financing programme for farmers, the Mechanisation Support
Programme, where the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) will fund the purchase
of farming equipment.
Inflation ended 2005 at 585 percent, much higher than the central bank's
year-end forecasts of 280-300 percent. Gono said this week a tighter hold on
monetary policy would form the core of the RBZ's efforts to fight inflation.
"What he (Gono) has tried to do here is talk down inflation. But I think he
will admit that it's going to take a lot more than that to bring this
(inflation) down," one economist said yesterday.
A survey of business and other social groups done by the central bank
reveals weak sentiment on inflation.
The survey shows that only 2.2 percent of respondents said efforts to deal
with inflation were either "good" or "excellent", while some 45.5 percent
anticipate high inflation in 2007.
Chris Muronzi Staff Reporter
THE Zimbabwe Iron and Steel Company (Zisco) needs $10 trillion to boost its
working capital requirements, amid talk that the parastatal is negotiating
with Asian financers to provide hard currency in exchange for equity in the
Sources revealed this week that Zisco, whose production output has plummeted
over the years under the huge weight of working capital shortages and
frequent machine breakdowns, is hoping to raise the fresh capital to improve
The giant steelworks has detailed its financial needs in a comprehensive
document that it now uses to coerce the government, which has been dithering
on the deplorable situation at the Redcliff-based company, to move with
speed in resolving its working capital requirements.
Zisco managing director, Gabriel Masanga was elusive on the issue when
contacted for comment this week. He said: "I cannot say how much we need
because I need to check with my accounts people to get the right figure."
Despite efforts to woo Chinese investors into the company, Zisco has failed
to win the level of support its needs to turn around the fortunes of the
Earlier negotiations between Zisco and Shougang International Trade and
Engineering Corporation of China fell through after unexplained differences
arose in a deal that would have seen the injection of a US$200 million
lifeline in working capital.
Finance Minister Herbert Murerwa has said Zisco would this year sign a
management contract with a foreign investor. Zisco has entered into a
pre-financing deal with its customers in a move the company says will boost
Several turnaround efforts at the company have failed to take off despite
strong recommendations from government that management and the board of the
government-owned firm be fired to facilitate a swift transition back to
Zisco needs about 1200 tonnes of coal a day although it is operating at 50
percent below capacity. When fully operational, the steel giant can take up
to 2 000 tonnes of coal.
The steel giant has the capacity to produce one million tonnes of steel
annually worth in excess of a million dollars but has lost some of its
markets in East Africa and Europe.
Nelson Banya News Editor
THE Attorney-General's office has asked the police to investigate deputy
Home Affairs Minister Rueben Marumahoko's role in the Spring Farm imbroglio
that claimed one life last year.
A senior official in the A-G's office has written to the permanent secretary
in the Home Affairs Ministry asking whether the police were acting on
allegations raised by Temba Mliswa, the controversial holder of an offer
letter to the farm, on which a service station - the centre of the dispute
with Wedzera Petroleum - is located.
Mliswa has accused Marumahoko and Senior Assistant Commissioner Innocent
Matibiri of complicity in a plot to dispossess him of the property.
The letter from the AG's office, dated December 5 2005 and signed by a Mrs
Maxwell (then acting director of public prosecutions) is referenced as:
Honourable deputy minister Reuben Marumahoko's conduct - Mliswa T (Mr).
"This office is in respect (sic) of the copy of the letter written to you on
the 23rd of November 2005 by Mr Mliswa concerning the above subject. The
details of the complaint are well explained in the letter. The letter raises
issues of serious concern to this office as one person has already lost his
life due to the acts being complained about.
"Can your office please inform us on whether anything is being done
concerning the complaint," reads the letter.
Marumahoko expressed surprise at the development when contacted yesterday.
"I wonder how one gets there. There must be something amiss.
"I am surprised how the Attorney-General would get into this. How would he
get into it when there is no court action and no complaint has been made
against me? I do not know anything about that document and I will have to
consult my lawyers," Marumahoko said.
Mrs Maxwell, who has since been reassigned to head the civil division in the
A-G's department, confirmed writing the letter, but declined to comment
further, referring all questions to Loice Matanda-Moyo, who now heads the
public prosecutions office.
In an earlier letter, also addressed to Machaya, Mliswa charges that
"Marumahoko has taken an active role in my commercial dispute with Wedzera
over the management and ownership of a Karoi service station." Mliswa also
alleges that Marumahoko "raised a note with Deputy Police Commissioner
Innocent Matibiri, saying the police chiefs ought to understand the
ownership saga but solely from Wedzera's standpoint."
"He was pointedly ordering the police to lay siege on the service station
and thereby protecting Wedzera's interests, yet there have been numerous
determinations to the effect that Nhodza and company are wrongfully
occupying the property. He is questioning the validity of my new offer
letter and even suggests that even though I possess one I have to go the
long winding route of fighting it out in the courts again," Mliswa wrote.
His claims have sparked a $10 billion defamation suit by Marumahoko, who
says that the allegations have sullied his reputation as a "government
minister and a public official."
Marumahoko's lawyer, Farai Mutamangira, accused Mliswa of seeking to drag
the deputy minister into a dispute that has nothing to do with him.
"Eric Nhodza has categorically stated that his dispute with Mliswa has
nothing to do with the deputy minister, but Mliswa has continued to try and
impugn his name," Mutamangira said.
Hama Saburi Deputy Editor-in-Chief
. . . As Mugabe readies to wield the axe
A NUMBER of Cabinet ministers are quaking in their boots, fearing that
President Robert Mugabe, whom sources say is livid over his lieutenants'
non-performance and predilection to lie, could finally crack the whip.
Highly placed sources said there are heightened fears within government that
the ZANU PF strongman, who rarely fires at friendly forces, could buck the
trend this time by axing poor-performers in his bloated Cabinet.
They said President Mugabe had openly showed his displeasure over the
laissez-faire conduct of government business by some of his top officials
before he went on his traditional annual leave late in December. Even though
there were no obvious targets as the public service delivery system as a
whole is in a disastrous state, this development left those in ZANU PF's
higher echelons, who make up the Cabinet, noticeably shaken.
Insiders said that the political implications and significance of President
Mugabe's actions were that he was sending a signal to government ministers
that they are on notice to perform.
President Mugabe is not known for dropping non-performers from his Cabinet
and the insiders said the latest turn of events brings into focus the
gravity of the country's economic crisis.
With the erstwhile reassuringly resilient economy bumping along the bottom,
the veteran politician last year put together a "development Cabinet" tasked
with turning around the faltering economic fortunes of the country.
Ironically from there on, the economic deterioration accelerated.
The Cabinet has presided over one of the worst economic declines in the
history of the country. Their legacy is obsolete socio-political and
economic structures, an acute shortage of food and fuel.
Critics attribute the economic crisis to corruption and mismanagement in
central government as well as ruinous governance and economic policies. But
government, known for scapegoating, denies culpability.
"Given the rate at which the economy is sliding downwards, the feeling among
some of us is that the President (Mugabe) is slowly reaching a point where
he might say enough is enough. He has not been happy with the quality of
reports he gets from some of our colleagues and has really shown his dislike
of officials who lie," said a Cabinet minister who declined to be named.
"It is true that some of the reports are generated by government officers,
and there is little the ministers can do to reject or verify them before
presenting them to the President. But then, the President and the people we
are serving expect us to have a hands-on approach in running the
ministries," added the minister.
On Tuesday, central bank governor Gideon Gono predicted that inflation could
reach an all-time-high 800 percent mark, before coming down to levels around
200 percent by the year end.
Well-informed sources said the poor economic showing has clouded President
Mugabe's retirement plans hence pressure was inexorably rising for him to
right the situation by appointing a resolute and competent Cabinet which can
hopefully return the economy to its pre-crisis levels.
The veteran politician, who has led the southern African state since
independence from Britain in 1980, has said he will retire from government
in 2008 when his current six-year term of office expires.
In September last year, Vice-President Joice Mujuru took a swipe at
government ministers and top civil servants for their laziness and for their
habit of sitting on urgent files.
President Mugabe himself has previously promised to take action against
errant government officials, some of them linked to the multiple ownership
of farms and abuse of tillage facilities.
Contacted for comment yesterday, Information Minister Tichaona Jokonya said
he was rushing to attend a funeral and could only entertain this reporter
Kumbirai Mafunda Senior Business Reporter
AFTER breaking into the African market with the sale of two Modern Ark 60
(MA60) aircraft to Zimbabwe in 2005, China National Aero-Technology Import
and Export Corporation (CATIC) says it has now set its sights on conquering
the continental market.
CATIC officials told The Financial Gazette that the Zimbabwe sales had
"unlocked good market prospects on the continent".
Spurred by the first civilian aircraft sales, CATIC reported that it had
signed purchase contracts of 17 MA60 in 2005 with Nepal, Fiji, Zambia and
other African countries.
"The good operation record of MA60 aircraft in Zimbabwe has already spurred
the market," said Liu Songtao, CATIC's deputy director for the Africa
Besides establishing a representative office in Harare, CATIC has already
opened bases in Nigeria, Zambia, Kenya, Ethiopia and Egypt. It is already
established in the United Kingdom, the United States of America and France,
among other countries.
CATIC, China's state-authorised dealer of aviation products, says it is
ambitious about the export of the MA60 and expects to increase sales to 100
MA60s abroad before 2008.
"We expect to sell 14 more," said Tu Zhengxing, CATIC Zimbabwe's chief
representative. "The MA60's fuel consumption is very good compared to
Boeing," he added.
The MA60, a short- to medium-range civil aircraft and the third Chinese-made
plane with its own independent intellectual property rights, is an advanced
50- to 60-seat class regional turboprop machine.
Offering passenger comfort, operational adaptability and low operating
costs, the MA60 is suitable for frequent short and medium-haul commuter
operations as well as multi-role applications.
In Zimbabwe, the MA60 aircraft is servicing troubled national airline Air
Zimbabwe's domestic and regional destinations.
Zimbabwe got a third plane for free from CTIC.
CATIC says the aircraft's performance is comparable to Boeing aand that it
has the advantage of low fuel consumption, comfortable interior design and
first-rate system maintenance.
Up until now the two aircraft have flown 2 000 flight hours in total, with
an overall reliability of 98 percent.
Officials say this performance has proved the MA60 to be a first -lass
regional transport plane.
CATIC, which was established in 1979, is jointly owned by China Aviation
Industry Corporation I and China Aviation Industry Corporation II.
Headquartered in Beijing, CATIC has seven specialised companies and 10
regional subsidiaries in China and 56 overseas branches worldwide.
In addition, CATIC has contracted international construction projects for
countries and regions in Asia, Africa and the Middle East.
Munyaradzi Mugowo Own Correspondent
Pension fund to get CEO after five-year wait
THE government will appoint a chief executive officer (CEO) for the National
Social Security Authority (NSSA), as part of a wholesale restructuring of
the compulsory public pension fund.
Edwin Manikai, the chairman of the authority told The Financial Gazette that
the government was planning to "change the board and management structures"
of NSSA, which would now be run by a CEO and directors responsible for
"The government is going to close all outstanding board and management gaps.
It has indicated that it is going to change the board and management
structures so that the general manager position is filled. NSSA will now
have a CEO and other management structures," said the NSSA boss, who ruled
out retrenchments as a result of the changes.
"The issue of retrenchments is out. The number we have at the moment is less
than the establishment figure and, in any case, we still have some vacant
positions that we need to fill. But naturally, we may have realignments in
the process," he added.
Manikai, a top commercial lawyer in the country, said NSSA has over the
years grown into a "portfoliod" vehicle running the National Pensions
Scheme, the Workers Compensation Insurance Fund and the National Health
Scheme which will be introduced this year, hence the need to "corporatise"
NSSA, which has been accused of abandoning its core business of providing a
social safety-net for workers into a source of cheap credit for the
perennially broke government, has been operating without a substantive
general manager for over half a decade.
The yawning gaps in the institution's management chain have often been
blamed for the "terrible" pension fund management practices at NSSA, which
critics have accused of short-changing workers.
Economist John Robertson said NSSA, which was set up by the government to
wrest pension business from private players through legislation, has been
financing its capital investment and deficit requirements without regard for
"NSSA was not necessary in the first place. Its services were being offered
more efficiently by private pension and insurance companies. The problem
started when the government said it wanted that money and legislated for the
establishment of a public pension fund, which could get workers'
contributions compulsorily," Robertson said.
"But the aim clearly was not to provide or enhance workers social security,
but to capture funds for use by the government and not by those paying the
money, yet, these funds are not gratuities but paid up annuities, which
contributors must get on retirement or when they need compensation. But the
whole thing is a big mess," Robertson added.
The advent of NSSA as a legal monopoly reduced private insurance and pension
companies into voluntary ancillaries of the chosen public fund manager
accused of deliberately glossing over glaring actuarial inaccuracies in its
valuation of pensions, allowances, benefits and other financial assets.
Amod Takawira, the managing director of the public fund manager, however
dismissed NSSA's critics, saying the fund was too underwritten to pay out
"Where do you think the attractive benefits you are demanding will come
from? If you save peanuts you cannot expect to get gold; you will also get
peanuts. That's why we have decided to raise insurable income by three
percent. The contributions are just too little for us to pay anything much,"
But critics insist that NSSA, which has a shareholding in every counter on
the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange, with an ever-expanding catalogue of
multi-billion dollar properties countrywide, has been signing away huge
investment loans to the government and private sector and investing in
government stock, prescribed assets and municipal and making huge profits,
from which it has kept workers burglar-barred.
"If NSSA is not making money with the contributions of workers as it claims,
then where is it getting the money to lend to the government and the private
sector? Where is it getting the money to invest in properties and to buy
equity in other companies? NSSA is simply not relevant because what it is
paying is a insult to workers who are paying to insure their future"
The public pension institution is building a huge shopping mall in Victoria
Falls at a cost exceeding $300 billion, an office complex in Bulawayo at
cost estimated to be over $200 billion and running several capital projects
in Matabeleland and other parts of the country at an cost which nears a
Takawira also told The Financial Gazette that NSSA has agreed, at the behest
of government, to grab a sizeable chunk of the newly established
Infrastructure Development Bank of Zimbabwe, which is still hamstrung by a
Robertson said NSSA, which has raised both employee contributions and
benefits this year, needed to carry out a new actuarial survey to compute
benefit scales in sync with both the inflation rate and the poverty datum
Mavis Makuni Own Correspondent
HAS the African Union adopted a version of a quintessentially American
procedure - the filibuster - to avoid attending to controversial issues
brought before it?
Reports from Khartoum, the Sudanese capital, to the effect that the
continental body has thrown out a report on Zimbabwe submitted by the
African Commission on Human and People's Rights (ACHPR) confirm widespread
suspicions that the AU leaders are using delaying tactics in solidarity with
one of their peers. A filibuster is defined as: holding the floor of the
United States senate to delay proceedings and thereby prevent a vote on a
controversial issue . . ."
The history of the ACHPR report on Zimbabwe's human rights record, on which
the AU has forestalled debate for one reason or another over the last four
years raises questions about the commitment of the organisation to tackling
serious issues affecting ordinary people in member countries. The AU,
through its inertia, is holding the floor for ordinary Zimbabweans.
The ACHPR is, after all, an arm of the AU created through a charter agreed
upon during the existence of the AU's forerunner, the Organisation of
African Unity (OAU). The AU should therefore be anxious to see this organ of
its own creation functioning to meet the objectives which it was set up to
achieve, which include seeing whether governments are observing the African
Charter on Human and People's Rights.
An ACHPR delegation led by Jainaba Johm of Gambia, which included prominent
South African academic Barney Pityana and Fiona Adolu of Uganda came to
Zimbabwe in 2002 to probe persistent allegations of human rights violations.
Johm said at the time that the delegation had come "because of the
allegations of violations of human rights by law enforcement agencies and
threats to civil liberties as well as charges of invasions of the rule of
law and concerns about the independence of the judiciary."
After widespread consultations with various stakeholders, Johm's delegation
produced a report that was scathingly critical of the Zimbabwean
government's human rights record but over the last five years, using one
form of subterfuge or another, African leaders have avoided discussing the
More than two years ago, an executive summary of the ACHPR's report was all
set to be tabled at a meeting that was to be held in July 2004, when
Zimbabwe's then foreign minister, Stan Mudenge, at the last minute, came up
with the most implausible reason to delay scrutiny of Zimbabwe's conduct. He
incredibly got away with telling the unlikely story that Zimbabwe was not
ready to respond to the allegations because it had not seen the report. The
reason for this was that a sister ministry to which the report had been
inadvertently sent had sat on it for months on end.
The decision of the Council of Ministers to throw the report back to the
commission prior to the AU summit in Khartoum this week proves that
political games are still being played to avoid tackling the matter. The
Council of Ministers, which deliberated before the African heads of state
and government began their summit, said they had sent the report back to the
ACHPR because it had noticed "irregularities and procedural flaws",
according to a report published in a Zimbabwean daily newspaper on Tuesday.
The irregularities and procedural flaws apparently included charges that the
latest report resembled another rejected by the AU at a summit in Addis
Ababa in 2004. Another bone of contention was that the ACHPR report included
a resolution for the AU to act on an adverse United Nations report on
Zimbabwe's clean-up exercise, Operation Murambatsvina, which caused an
outcry both at home and abroad last year.
Another "irregularity and procedural flaw" noted by the Council of Ministers
was that the ACHPR document was the work of non-governmental organisations
that had submitted allegations on Zimbabwe's conduct in relation to the
judiciary, the press, and the enactment of laws perceived to be repressive
Unnamed diplomats were quoted in the newspaper report saying the African
heads of state gathered in Khartoum could not be expected to debate the UN
report, which they "did not cause" or the ACHPR report because the
commission had not taken the report through the various stages.
It is noteworthy that in their duplicity over the Zimbabwean issue, the AU
heads of state and government have chosen to place more importance on purely
legalistic aspects while ignoring the substance of the ACHPR report and the
implications thereof. The AU has never come out openly to say it is
satisfied that the allegations levelled against the Zimbabwean government
are untrue, and therefore do not warrant to be scrutinised.
Instead of being principled enough to take a stand on the matter, the
leaders, some of whose countries have also been accused of similar abuses,
have chosen to sit on the fence and keep their options open.
Following the genocide in Rwanda in 1994 during which close to a million
people were butchered, the UN and Western countries came under attack for
not having responded fast enough to avert the catastrophe. Never again,
leaders vowed. But a decade later, history is repeating itself.
The AU has persistently ignored distress signals from one of its member
countries and has instead resorted to shooting the messenger, the ACHPR. The
question African leaders should answer is why they bother to set up arms or
agencies of the AU if they turn around and treat these organisations as foes
with suspect motives.
It is inconceivable that if the real reason for keeping debate on Zimbabwe's
human rights record in abeyance was failure to follow procedures, the
leaders would have taken all these years without giving the ACHPR an
ultimatum to put its house in order so that the report would be tabled
before them as soon as possible.
As it is, they seem happy to clutch at the flimsiest reasons to avoid
confronting the matter. But if the allegations levelled against Zimbabwe are
untrue, the only way to exonerate the government is to facilitate open
scrutiny and debate at the continental level.
The refusal to table the ACHPR report because non-governmental organisations
contributed to its contents and compilation is ridiculous. It implies that
the AU would only have been ready to listen if the complaints had come from
official government sources! It does not make sense either for the
continental body to refuse to address a pressing issue such as the
humanitarian crisis caused by Operation Murambatsvina simply because their
attention has been drawn to it by the United Nations.
THE controversy surrounding Matabeleland North governor Thokozile Mathuthu's
insensitive decision to book herself into a Bulawayo hotel at the taxpayers'
expense is a manifestation of the make-hay-while-the-sun-shines arrogance
now pervading the ruling party.
The governor, who was only appointed to her post after the general elections
in March last year, has reportedly been living in the posh Bulawayo Rainbow
since then, running up a hefty bill of $47 million per week. It has been
estimated that in the eight months since she became governor, Zimbabwe's
overburdened taxpayers have been forced to cough up a staggering $2 billion
to enable her to live in the luxury to which she has become accustomed in
Zimbabweans have been told ad nauseam that ZANU PF and the people's
government have a revolutionary ideology that puts the welfare of the people
above everything else. The slogan "people first" is the main theme of most
government media advertisements and propaganda campaigns. Incidents like the
one involving Mathuthu however suggest that the people the ruling elites
have in mind are not the suffering and impoverished masses but themselves.
Their main priority is to enrich and make themselves as comfortable as
possible as fast as they can.
When Mathuthu's extravagance was first exposed by a privately-owned weekly
newspaper a fortnight ago, her response when approached for a comment was
typically dismissive and arrogant. "I will be happy if you were to find
alternative accommodation for me. Where should I sleep? I cannot go and
sleep in the streets. I do not see where the issue of costs comes in, you
just want to scandalise the whole issue," thundered the governor, no doubt
convinced that the reporter would be intimidated by her refusal to account
for her actions.
Mathuthu's behaviour typifies the contemptuous and disdainful attitude
public officials have adopted towards the people they are supposed to be
serving. Regrettably, she is not the only one harbouring the ignorant and
dangerous notion that public officials have no obligation to respond to
queries from the media. Many government officials and ministers display
inexplicable animosity and rage towards journalists, particularly from the
private media, whenever they are approached to explain matters of legitimate
public interest. It has always been obvious that they do it because they
have a lot to hide as governor Mathuthu's case proves once more.
The Matabeleland North governor was belligerent towards the reporter
investigating her hotel scandal because she did not want it to be known that
after being appointed to a high government post, she considered it infra dig
to continue to be associated with her home in the high-density suburbs. As
far as she was concerned, her appointment as governor was a ticket to
paradise and hence she wasted no time in seizing all the status symbols and
trappings that go with this opulent lifestyle.
She was so convinced of the correctness of her position that she challenged
the intrepid reporter to tell her whether in the absence of an official
residence for her, she was expected to sleep in the streets. Well, wait a
minute, Madam Comrade Governor. No one expects you to be a homeless person
who sleeps on the streets unless your house in Bulawayo's Njube high-density
suburb was demolished during Operation Murambatsvina. Since press reports
indicate that the house is still standing in that neighbourhood, the big
question is, what is suddenly wrong with it?
All other incumbents who have served as governors in Matabeleland before
Mathuthu continued to live in their own residences after their elevation.
These included the late Daniel Ngwenya, Mark Dube, and Stephen Nkomo. Dube
had a place in Esigodini and commuted to the governor's offices in Gwanda as
did Nkomo, who lived in Bulawayo. Current Matabeleland South governor,
Angeline Masuku has presumably done the same. Mathuthu's predecessors as
Matabeleland governors, Jevan Maseko, Welshman Mabhena and Obert Mpofu have
lived in their own homes during their terms of office.
Mathuthu's frivolous actions would have had a redeeming value if she had
checked into a hotel or lodge in rural Matabeleland North and argued that
she wanted to live among the people over whom she has jurisdiction. It makes
no sense whatsoever to move from one part of town to another unless one can
afford it. If this lady knew she would have accommodation problems, she
should have respectfully declined appointment to the governorship instead of
holding the nation to ransom with her extravagance.
I remember the first time I met the late veteran nationalist, Dr Joshua
Nkomo, in the flesh. The year was 1984, a full five years after the
attainment of independence and he was still living at his old home in
Pelandaba. By this time, Dr Nkomo, who came to be revered as 'Father
Zimbabwe' and has been fondly remembered as 'Mdala Wethu' since his death in
1998, had fought to liberate the country and had served as a cabinet
minister. And yet he was still humble enough to see nothing wrong with
living among the people and did not consider it to be below his dignity. He,
of course eventually acquired a property in the Matsheamhlope low-density
suburb and lived in an official government residence as vice president but
he made these eventualities neither a priority nor the main reason for
holding office. Most, importantly, living in the high-density areas never
dampened his enthusiasm to serve the people.
Contrast this with Mathuthu's frivolous desire to seize the moment to enjoy
the trappings of authority before she has even proved herself in her
portfolio and you get an idea of what has gone wrong in this country. Most
people in positions of power are a law unto themselves and are free to
commit the most inexcusable excesses and abuses. There is no doubt that
Mathuthu would have continued to bleed the fiscus with impunity if a
reporter from the much maligned private media had not drawn attention to the
As a result of this brilliant piece of investigative journalism, Mathuthu
was summoned to meet President Robert Mugabe, who was expected to read her
the riot act. The conspiracy of silence that is the trademark of corrupt
government officials who are bleeding this country to economic death would
have ensured that this matter would never have come to the President's
The question is, how many similar scandals and irregularities are going on
and cannot be exposed as a consequence of the official media's "hear no
evil-see no evil" approach? Coupled with both overt and covert harassment of
personnel in the private media by corrupt officials fighting to safeguard
their places at the feeding trough, this is a recipe for disaster.
THERE has not been the proverbial calm since the banking sector touched off
a financial storm that brought with it anguish, nightmares and bitterness
among a multitude of the victims of the stupefyingly complex pattern of
deceit and criminality in the sector.
With the sector noticeably shaken in the aftermath of the tremor, close to
10 financial institutions were subsequently placed under curatorship to
protect depositors' funds and ring-fence trouble spots, thus putting paid to
But the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe - which instead of throwing the drowning
banks both ends of the rope, kept them on a life support system through the
Troubled Banks Fund - literally walked into a legal minefield.
Corruption-accused bankers alleging victimisation sought recourse to the
courts amid all sorts of innuendo and far-fetched allegations which bordered
on the absurd and ludicrous such as that the governor was trying to keep a
lid on the scandal's political dimension.
Thus a cloud was placed against the central bank and its integrity over how
it handled the banking sector crisis. Even after giving the institutions a
new lease of life through a shotgun marriage of the troubled banks which
culminated in the birth of the Zimbabwe Allied Banking Group - meant to make
the best out of a bad situation - the central bank still came in for a lot
of flak from the banks suffering a liquidity crunch and numerous other
The major problem was that those caught on the wrong side of the monetary
regulations took advantage of the fact that the RBZ had not taken heed of
free advice to make public, in footnote detail, which banks were
experiencing a liquidity crunch and why, their capital inadequacies and
other compliance weaknesses, imprudent practices and frauds. Or what
measures were taken before each bank was placed under curatorship, how many
times the banking authorities met the affected banks to consider escape
options and how many corrective orders the central bank gave each of these
institutions. Understandably, the RBZ might have wanted the veil drawn over
these issues given the sensitive nature of banking but it is now counting
the cost. The RBZ must with hindsight be regretting its decision not to tell
all. It is easy to be smarter after the fact.
We warned in our editorial of April 1, 2004 that if the monetary authorities
maintained their unwise position that they would not throw stones from the
pulpit despite the brickbats they were getting themselves, the cloud might
get darker before it started raining with opprobrium for the RBZ, which
controls the country's financial levers. The devil is not ashamed of running
away with the Bible!
This is why we came out strongly in support of the RBZ when it advocated a
judicial inquiry into the unfolding banking crisis after its decisions to
place some of the banks under curatorship raised a hue and cry from bankers
whose institutions were sitting on shifting sands.
And just as well the central bank has gone beyond rhetoric and has now
constituted an independent panel to make an in-depth inquiry and assessment
of the entirety of what transpired in the institutions concerned, leading to
the curatorships and eventual amalgamation into ZABG. The panel comprises
international experts on corporate governance, former central bank governors
from the region, retired High Court judges, business persons and legal
This comes after two banks in particular, Trust and Royal, retained a
determination in the courts that they appeal to the RBZ on their treatment
by the curators (read RBZ). Without delving into the merits of the two
cases, it is clear that the actions of the two institutions smack of
disgruntlement over how their crises were handled. And therein lies not only
the legal but also compelling moral basis for a judicial inquiry.
For the aggrieved parties such an independent panel will enable them to face
up to the public and defend their honour and integrity. This is exactly what
they are asking for through their actions and hopefully it will not be a
case of turkeys voting for an early Christmas! For the central bank the
panel will not only be the poniard with which to prick the bankers' bloated
bladder of allegations and lies but will also help it put everything into a
perspective which justifies its actions.
Most importantly though, the panel, whose members are most unlikely to be
influenced by the prospect of future need or current obligations, will bring
with it a measure of transparency to everything surrounding the banking
sector crisis. We have no doubt that they are best suited to impartially
gather facts, interview both sides and pronounce undiluted empirical
findings to the satisfaction of all concerned. This is the only way to put
this niggling issue to rest once and for all.
Trying to normalise the abnormal
EDITOR - I find it extremely worrisome that the state-controlled media is
confusing and contradicting itself.
I note with serious concern that the Herald on Monday January 16 carried a
comment titled "Minister Chombo doing a sterling job" in a desperate attempt
to cover-up for the negligent Harare commissioners.
The Sunday Mail issue of January 15 became sensitive to public outcry and
lashed out at the Harare commissioners in their newspaper comment titled
"City leaders' dereliction of duty unacceptable".
This confusion is a clear reflection of the government's apparent
bewilderment at the rate of decline of the capital at the hands of its own
puppets. It is shocked and at the same time confused by its apparent failure
to deal with the collapse of local governance.
No wonder why the state-controlled media continues to celebrate understated
figures of cholera victims as the fruits of Operation Murambatsvina.
We did not need this cholera outbreak nor did we need the loss of innocent
lives to say enough is enough to the illegal commissioners.
Relationships between reporters at the Herald and their news subjects at
Town House should not be abused to seeing no evil, hearing no evil and
speaking no evil.
The actions of the mandarins at Herald House were tantamount to endorsing
the deaths of innocent Harare residents due to the negligent attitude of the
unelectable political rejects occupying Town House today.
It is not a preserve of Herald reporters to abuse their platform and
sanitise the madness at Town House at the expense of residents, who buy
their newspapers and advertise to sustain their ailing fortunes on the open
Just outside my gate, I am confronted with a heap of stinking rubbish of all
sorts. To proceed to the main road I hop and skip like a kangaroo to avoid
the overflowing sewage, a permanent feature of my neighbourhood.
I cannot afford to open the windows to get fresh air in my room because of
the prolific breeding mosquitoes and houseflies, which have since lost
definition as they are now found everywhere. This is characteristic of
virtually all locations in Harare. I wonder if some people who speak about
Harare to the Herald are genuine Harare residents.
Chombo is a portrait of heartless Salom, Herod's wife (who caused the
beheading of John the Baptist). This vindictive man masquerading as a
government minister sanctioned the implementation of the atrocious Operation
Murambatsvina, which left more than 700 000 people homeless, and more than
2. 4 million people lost their sources of income.
This is the same man who is dismissing elected councillors and mayors for
alleged mismanagement, corruption and inefficiency. Ironically, he ignores
the apparent inefficiency of his appointed cronies which has resulted in the
loss of innocent lives.
The Sunday Mail was at least honest to condemn the Harare commission for
dereliction of duty. Chombo should be ashamed to be called a minister,
having left a trail of local governance disasters. He must together with his
blinkered disciples at Town House tender his resignation to President Robert
Mugabe as a matter of urgency.
No amount of publicity in defence of the negligent Harare commissioners by
the Herald can help ameliorate the situation in Harare, rather the situation
continues to deteriorate day by day with the commissioners catalysing the
Sikhaka must continue exposing the cowards
EDITOR - The article I read from your paper entitled "Honourable Sikhala
must grow up" was a misguided and disastrous level of public misinformation
which compelled me to reply with the dignity humanity ought to be accorded.
I also read the article in which allegations of Matongo having never been
arrested in the struggle for new Zimbabwe were made.
I think Sikhala only wanted to highlight the unavoidable consequences of
arrest which the martyrs of freedom have suffered at the hands of ZANU PF,
if at all they were genuine and committed to the struggle. Now to talk of a
man bellowing revolutionary ideologies but who has never tasted an inch of a
holding cell let alone talk of torture would be the mother of all political
hypocrises. Matongo once claimed he had the capacity to bring swarms of
people into the streets but his imposing stature was nowhere to be seen
during numerous protests for regime change.
Logic demands an answer as to whose sons and daughters he wants to sacrifice
while he cowers in the comfort of his Harvest House office. These are people
who would demonstrate against the regime with one leg on the ground and
another one in a twin-cab.
It is cowards who perpetuate Internet-based struggles and who shift goal
posts at any meandering curve of the struggle. Is it a lie that the man had
already positioned himself and his wife for senate elections only to reverse
the decision at a phone call from his dear master. This depicts politics of
patronage, a reflection of water and fluid ideological mindset. It is people
of a principled character and with a history of genuine combat against the
regime like Job Sikhala whom Zimbabwe needs most. I urge Sikhala to continue
highlighting to the world cowards in the MDC. Only the truth shall set us
To suggest that the import of the expression that Matongo was never arrested
even for public indecency means that Sikhala wants to encourage the youth
into misdeeds is characteristic of ideological bankruptcy. Even a medieval
or feudal school of politics could equally appreciate that the expression is
comparative in texture and essence of the role Matongo has played ever since
the inception of the MDC as a democratic front.
I have no doubt that Matongo is an equivalent of a revolutionary pretender
who is no different from the Mades, Chinotimbas and Matongas of this world.
While they claim that "ZANU PF Ndeye Ropa", historically they were nowhere
near the battlefront against Ian Douglas Smith. To me Sikhala epitomises the
late Eddison Zvobgo, Herbert Ushewokunze and the surviving Edgar Tekere.
UN article erroneous
EDITOR - I would like to draw your attention to the article on the front
page of The Financial Gazette of January 12-18, 2006, entitled "New Survey
on Murambatsvina", in which certain statements are attributed to me.
Let me take this opportunity to state that I have not addressed any
journalists in Harare on the said new survey. Neither the United Nations nor
any of its agencies has fielded teams to undertake a verification exercise
on Operation Murambatsvina.
Further, the government of Zimbabwe has not requested the United Nations to
undertake such a survey.
As such, the article is both erroneous and potentially damaging to the
United Nations and I urge that The Financial Gazette retracts this article.
Dr Agostinho Zacharias
United Nations Resident Coordinator
Chombo is indefensible
EDITOR - On January 16 2006, a local daily paper launched a spirited defence
of the Minister of Local Government, Public Works and Urban Development,
The newspaper is entitled to its opinion but the only problem I have is that
it chooses to paper over the glaring cracks, gaps and chasms in the conduct
of local government policies since Chombo took over.
As the paper claims, Chombo's actions might be "aimed at steering the
entities onto solid efficiency paths" but then aims are not achievements.
Let us not forget, a bowman's skill is judged, not by where he aims, but by
where the arrow lands. Judging by where Chombo's arrows have been landing,
especially in the case of Harare, his aim is atrocious.
The current state of Harare's garbage collection abilities, water
distribution woes, virtually collapsed ambulance service, potholed roads,
malfunctioning robots and street lights and failure to develop new housing
suburbs should be ample evidence to any observer that Chombo's intervention
three long years ago by firing Elias Mudzuri, has failed totally to steer
Harare onto a path of solid efficiency.
Indeed, just last Wednesday, the same newspaper led with a story about
Harare failing to pay a water bill of Z$119 billion.
If anything Harare residents have moved from the mouth of a fox, into the
mouth of a hyena in the intervening period. Remember for the first time in
many people's living memory we have had an outbreak of cholera in Harare,
something which we used to associate with villages in Mozambique.
After three years of being run by a ministerially appointed and directed
commission, there is absolutely no sign that Harare is being better run than
it was before. Presiding over Harare's decay is Sekesai Makwavarara. To lend
credence to those of us who claim that Chombo is guided by political
considerations, Makwavarara was spared the axe when the original council was
fired, not because she is competent, but because she was politically astute
enough to change boats in mid-stream, jumping onto the ZANU PF boat just as
the MDC boat was about to sink.
Subsequently the state of affairs in Harare continued to deteriorate, but
instead of the turncoat Makwavarara being read the riot act, her term as
acting mayor of Harare was extended in what appears to be a very clear
Nobody is saying that Chombo is wrong in firing incompetent municipalities.
All we are saying is that he is doing it for the wrong reasons - political
reasons. If the minister is to get things right, he should avoid political
advice and instead seek the advice of technically competent urban planners
and associated professionals like engineers, accountants and public health
For example in the case of councils failing to produce audited accounts, the
minister should engage accountants to draw up a set of minimum standards on
record keeping and documentation of transactions so as to ensure
manucipalities keep accurate records of their day to day undertakings. The
same accounting experts should also recommend to the minister appropriate
authorisation structures to ensure that transactions can be traced to the
people who authorised them, and that large transactions are not left in the
hands of one or two people.
The minister should set up an independent audit unit reporting to his
ministry to forcibly audit the accounts of municipalities if need be instead
of waiting forever for them to produce audited accounts.
The same accounting experts can also serve in a monitoring role, regularly
checking on municipalities and ensuring that they are adhering to the
minimum standards set by the ministry. Or better still the ministry should
have a full-time audit unit. The same can be done about other technical
areas such as public health, emergency services, infrastructure developments
and engineering services.
The ministry should have permanent units that draw up standards as well as
constantly monitor these areas and give appropriate advice and warnings to
underperforming municipalities as well as make recommendations to the
We should never have to wait until matters deteriorate to a crisis point and
then resort to fire-fighting techniques, like that of moving vending
operations from Mbare Musika to an area with far much less facilities like
City Sports Centre. The ministry should have censured Harare City Council
(or is it commission) about places like Mbare Musika a long time ago. Urban
planning and development is not an event or even a series of events but a
process that requires the responsible authorities to keep a sharp eye on
happenings on a daily basis. It's like breathing. You don't breathe once in
a while in order to keep alive but you breathe every moment of your life.
The Ministry of Local Government, Public Works and Urban Development is
trying to get by while breathing once in a while.
Events like the Mbare Musika/cholera issue, and even the ill-planned
Operation Murambatsvina, are evidence of brain damage in the ministry.