The ZIMBABWE Situation
An extensive and up-to-date website containing news, views and links related to ZIMBABWE - a country in crisis
Return to INDEX page
Please note: You need to have 'Active content' enabled in your IE browser in order to see the index of articles on this webpage

Mandaza, Kazembe In Sapes Boardroom Row

Zim Independent

Local
Thursday, 24 July 2008 19:50
A BOARDROOM fight has erupted at the Southern African Political and
Economic Series (Sapes) Trust with chairman Ibbo Mandaza reportedly lobbying
for the expulsion of his deputy Joyce Kazembe from the organisation for
allegedly assisting President Robert Mugabe to win the recent election.

Kazembe is the vice-chairperson of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission,
which was accused by the Morgan Tsvangirai-led MDC of failing to execute its
duties independently and impartially in the March 29 presidential election
and the June 27 run-off.

Sources close to the goings on at Sapes told the Zimbabwe Independent
this week that Mandaza and Kazembe fell out when the former permanent
secretary joined Simba Makoni's presidential campaign in January as one of
the senior members in the Mavambo/Kusile/Dawn movement.

Since then, the sources said, Kazembe and Mandaza do not see
eye-to-eye.

"The two have now become enemies and there is a big fight between them
given that Mandaza is accusing Kazembe of assisting Mugabe to rig the March
29 and June 27 presidential elections," one of the sources said. "Kazembe is
denying the allegation and she has received insults through text messages
from Mandaza who is also threatening to have her fired from Sapes."

The source said Kazembe's office at Sapes had remained locked although
she continued to visit the trust.

Kazembe is currently operating from the ZEC offices at Century House
East in the capital's CBD.

Mandaza, who is in Mozambique on private business, is alleged to have
ordered the locking of Kazembe's office to deny her access until the matter
was resolved by Sapes' trustees.

Mandaza yesterday denied that he was behind the bid to oust Kazembe.

He said there was unanimity among trustees that the former
Constitutional Commission of Zimbabwe member was a liability to Sapes and
that she had brought the name of the organisation into disrepute by taking
part in rigging elections in favour of Mugabe.

"It was not me who started the issue of wanting to fire her," Mandaza
said. "It was a trust decision that she should be fired."

He added that the trustee had written letters of complaint against
Kazembe's continued presence on the Sapes Trust's board with some advocating
that she be dismissed immediately.

"There were letters that were written by some members of the board (of
trustees) to the effect that she should be fired. It is just the process
that needs time," Mandaza said.

Kazembe could not be reached at the time of going to press yesterday.

By Nkululeko Sibanda


Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Zimbabwe Central Bank Promises Currency Reforms

Zim Independent

Local
Thursday, 24 July 2008 19:49
ZIMBABWE'S central bank yesterday said it would soon implement reforms
to ease the effects of hyperinflation as consumers, retailers and banks
struggle to make even simple transactions with a virtually worthless
currency.

This comes amid revelations that an Austrian company is supplying
Zimbabwe's central bank with materials used in the design and printing of
notes.

Company officials confirmed that the company, Jura, was dealing with
the Reserve Bank but would consider revising the relationship if required to
do so by the European Union which extended sanctions on Zimbabwe this week.
Were Jura to withdraw its licence and software, the RBZ might be unable to
produce a bigger note.

Once the beacon of southern Africa, Zimbabwe now has the world's
highest inflation rate - officially above two million percent but widely
seen as higher.

The country's largest bank note, a $100 billion bill introduced on
Monday, cannot buy a loaf of bread and retailers and banks have said
it has become difficult to deal with an ever-increasing string of zeros on
the currency.

"The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe wishes to advise ... that appropriate
measures are being put in place to address the current setbacks being faced
on the currency front, as well as on financial and accounting systems," said
central bank Governor Gideon Gono.

"Accordingly, therefore, the next few days will see the Reserve Bank
unveiling measures that would address concerns on the current minimum cash
withdrawal limits, as well as with the IT systems digit handling
constraints."

Zimbabwe lopped off three zeros from its currency in August 2006, and
financial accounts and prices were adjusted accordingly, but hyperinflation
has since forced the central bank to keep issuing higher-denomination notes,
piling back the zeros.

At the beginning of the year, the largest bank note was worth $10
million, but it has now lost its value and is commonly found strewn on the
capital Harare's streets, rejected by both street vendors and beggars alike.

On Wednesday, Zimbabwe's trade union federation ZCTU wrote a letter to
Gono, asking him to relax limits on cash withdrawals from bank accounts. -
Reuters/Staff Writer.


Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Zimsec Exams Still Unmarked

Zim Independent

Local
Thursday, 24 July 2008 19:47
ONGOING industrial action by the Zimbabwe Schools Examinations Council
(Zimsec) staff is set to delay the marking of last month's "O" Level
examinations as well as the processing of the November tests.

Zimsec employees told the Zimbabwe Independent that most workers were
not reporting for duty claiming that they could not raise money for
transport.

This, the workers said, had affected operations at the country's
examination body.

The lowest paid employee earns $50 billion monthly, which includes
housing and transport allowances.

"It is not enough to buy a loaf of bread, but I am expected to survive
on that the whole month," an employee who requested anonymity said. "There
are very few people in the offices; the situation is terrible and there is a
huge backlog of work that will delay the processing of November examinations
and even the marking of June tests will be delayed."

A member of the Zimsec workers' committee accused the body's
management of being insensitive to their plight.

He said efforts to engage Zimsec's human resources department were in
vain after their request for a meeting was turned down.

In a memorandum addressed to Zimsec assistant director (human
resources), Joyman Thabete, the workers wrote: "Please be advised that we
made frantic efforts to discuss with you but failed because you were
evasive...We as workers' committee wanted to inform you that our members
were no longer able to come to work as from Wednesday 9 July 2008."

The workers claimed that the body was insensitive to their plight.

"We know Zimsec has money, but it invested it in cars, which are yet
to be delivered at the expense of the workers' plight," the committee member
said. "This (stayaway) has affected the processing of November Ordinary and
Advanced level examinations. As we speak right now, schools have not yet
received statements of entries for sitting students so that they go through
them and correct whatever mistakes and send them back to Zimsec for
correction, something that should have been done way back."

The workers' committee member said besides that, the body's OMR
machine that scans and captures candidates' information was not working.

"There are very few people who are working and it's mainly the
security staff and other management who will be encoding the June exams for
marking. This backlog will put a lot of pressure on the staff if things
return to normal. Such work will have to be done in the evenings and in the
end a lot of mistakes will be made," he added.

By Wongai Zhangazha


Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Pitfalls To Negotiations

Zim Independent

Local
Thursday, 24 July 2008 19:36
WHILE power-sharing talks between Zanu PF and the two MDC factions
started on an optimistic note in Pretoria, South Africa, yesterday,
potential dangers which could derail the negotiations are looming.

An assessment of the opportunities and threats to the talks by the
Zimbabwe Independent revealed that, although the talks stand a good chance
of success they are also endangered by internal and external political
factors.

If both parties refuse to make serious concessions, the negotiators
are bound to have problems on who leads the envisaged new government. The
issue of violence before the elections and the need to hold perpetrators to
account might become a problem. The MDC has produced a long list of issues
which it needs addressed --- violence, release of detained party leaders and
members, resumption of humanitarian aid and the March 29 presidential
election result as the benchmark for talks -- before the final agreement.

Eddie Cross, an MDC MP, said the fate of alleged perpetrators of
political violence would be one of the issues expected to loom large during
the talks, although it was not mentioned in the MoU. He said the alleged
perpetrators should have no role to play in the expected new government.

"Not covered in any of the talks so far or mentioned in any agenda is
the issue of just what is going to happen to the many monsters who have been
responsible for planning, managing and undertaking the violent repression of
the opposition in the past decade or more," Cross said.

Although Mbeki has said parties accepted dialogue unconditionally,
there are lingering grievances which his party wants dealt with.

Internally, the talks are under threat from the forces within and
behind the negotiating parties. Zanu PF -- now a shell party after
collapsing into state structures -- is heavily influenced by decisions made
by the Joint Operations Command (JOC) which is believed to be running
government from behind the scenes.

Observers say Zanu PF structures have all collapsed and the state
pillars and bureaucracy are now being used to prop up the crumbling party
defeated at the parliamentary elections in March.

Sources said JOC heads are not happy with the looming government of
national unity with the MDC after a bitter campaign. Senior army chiefs,
including Zimbabwe Defence Forces commander General Constantine Chiwenga,
Army chief of staff Major-General Martin Chedondo, Police
Commissioner-general Augustine Chihuri, Brigadier-General David Sigauke and
Prisons Commissioner retired Major-General Paradzai Zimondi said just before
the March 29 elections they would not salute Tsvangirai if he won.

Zanu PF is riddled with divisions and factionalism. It is feared this
might sabotage the talks as rival factions try to secure their political
ground.

The MDC factions also have pressures behind them which might become a
problem if those behind the scenes do not approve the final agreement. In
the case of Tsvangirai's MDC, sources say, the party is under pressure from
South African-based local telecoms tycoon Strive Masiyiwa who is said to be
increasingly pulling the strings and controlling the decision-making
process.

It said the MDC factions failed to unite before the elections and only
agreed to work together afterwards due to Masiyiwa's influence. Sources say
Masiyiwa has also deployed his lieutenants to the party -- including
Tsvangirai's spokesman George Sibotshiwe and advisor Wellington
Chadehumbe -- to control the party agenda and safeguard his own interests.
Efforts to verify this with Masiyiwa were not successful.

Tsvangirai's faction is accused by Zanu PF of being under heavy United
States and European Union influence. It has been said the party receives
funding from them and, if true, this might constitute a threat to talks as
the party's financiers may not agree with some aspects of the agreement.

So far the US and EU -- which are pushing for sanctions against
Harare -- have been unenthusiastic and openly sceptical about the
negotiations. Mutambara's faction is said to be under South African
influence. The party is understood to have been brought back to the
negotiations -- after its recent exclusion from meetings before the June 27
election run-off -- by South African President Thabo Mbeki, the mediator.
The Mutambara formation is seen as beholden to Mbeki because of this and
other influences Pretoria has on them.

Apart from these internal threats to the talks, there are also
external dangers such as foreign pressure and interference, particularly by
the United States and the European Union who are pushing hard for stiffer
targeted sanctions -- travel bans, an asset freeze and arms embargo --
against President Robert Mugabe and his cronies.

Their hardline approach is seen by some as counter-productive at a
time when talks are gathering momentum. The US, supported by Britain, has
said it would continue to push for United Nations sanctions. Mbeki has
complained that his mediation was being threatened by interference by the
Western powers.

Independent MP and political analyst Jonathan Moyo -- involved in
failed Zanu PF and MDC talks in 2002 -- said there were issues which could
affect the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed on Monday to pave way
for the talks which started yesterday and any expected final agreement.

"The MoU and any agreement expected to come out of it seems to be more
about political expediency rather than principle and this may become a
problem. It may end up causing harm to the public interest it purports to be
trying to serve. One of the issues which may be affected is the 1987 Unity
Accord between Zanu and Zapu that embodies our history and national
interest," Moyo said.

"If there is a conflict between expediency and principle, one would
expect principle to prevail, otherwise all hell will break loose in the end.
The MoU and any expected agreement would not address the national question
we are facing. While images of politicians at the signing of the MoU gave
hope in view of the worsening economic meltdown, there is a danger that in
the process many issues would not be resolved if political expediency
prevails over fundamental issues of principle."

By Dumisani Muleya /Constantine Chimakure


Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

GNU Deal Soon

Zim Independent

Local
Thursday, 24 July 2008 19:27

PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe and opposition MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai
agreed to a power-sharing arrangement on Monday during intensive meetings at
the Rainbow Towers Hotel ahead of marathon inter-party talks that started in
Pretoria yesterday.

A government of national unity deal is resultantly expected soon after
the breakthrough private meetings.

Informed sources said the current constitution would soon be amended
to facilitate the envisaged agreement. They said Amendment No. 19 would be a
transitional mechanism between the old and the envisaged new constitution
expected down the line. The amendment is largely designed to accommodate
Tsvangirai and other MDC officials in the new government.

It is said the number of appointed senators would be increased by six
from five to 11 to create space for appointees who would include Tsvangirai
and Arthur Mutambara as leaders of the two MDC factions.

Currently Mugabe can only appoint five senators and this room is not
enough to accommodate losing Zanu PF candidates and unelected MDC officials.

No one can be a minister without being in parliament. Out of the six,
two appointees would be from each of the three negotiating parties. The
Upper House would thus have 99 senators in the end. Zanu PF lost control of
parliament to combined MDC factions, but retained control of senate.

Zanu PF and MDC negotiators who began delicate power-sharing talks in
South Africa yesterday are expected to reach a final agreement promptly in a
deal that is set to retain Mugabe as executive president.

The negotiating parties have already settled a wide range of issues on
the agenda, which explains the short and seemingly unrealistic two-week
deadline with effect from Monday that negotiators set themselves after their
leaders broke new ground by signing a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for
substantive negotiations.

Sources privy to the details of the power-sharing deal said Mugabe and
Tsvangirai had agreed on who would take which post in the new government.
The sources said Mugabe would remain as executive president while Tsvangirai
is poised to become either a third vice-president, prime minister or senior
minister in charge of several portfolios.

The sources said the talks were also likely to be concluded speedily
because South African President Thabo Mbeki wants to have a final settlement
to Zimbabwe's political impasse by the time he takes over as Sadc chair next
month.

Mbeki was appointed Zimbabwe mediator by Sadc leaders in March last
year. It is said that Mbeki, who reportedly lobbied China recently to block
Western-sponsored United Nations sanctions on Harare, while leaning on
Mugabe to accept a deal, views resolution of the Zimbabwe crisis as a major
prize to enhance his chequered legacy before he quits next year.

Sources said the private meetings between Mugabe and Tsvangirai marked
a breakthrough in the talks as critical issues were settled there.

They said Mugabe and Tsvangirai met before and after the signing of
the MoU for lunch and dinner to clear up issues. Their most significant
meeting was for about 90 minutes over dinner at the Rainbow Towers Hotel
after the signing of the MoU where they held talks about the type and
structure of a new government. It is said they agreed on how to share
executive power, including positions in the new cabinet and other crucial
government departments.

The sources said Tsvangirai wants 10 cabinet posts, while a similar
number could go to Zanu PF and two to the MDC faction led by Arthur
Mutambara. After his controversial June 27 victory, Mugabe avoided
appointing a new cabinet or allowing the swearing in of parliament to give
the talks a chance. He had initially planned, it is said, to have a new
cabinet just before or after the recent AU summit in Egypt but was persuaded
by Mbeki to wait.

The sources said Mugabe told Tsvangirai he could accommodate him at
the level of vice-president but he would want to keep his current deputies,
Joseph Msika and Joice Mujuru, to preserve the 1987 Unity Accord between
Zanu and Zapu and also to keep his party intact.

Tsvangirai is said to have indicated he was not necessarily fighting
for a top position for the sake of power, but a senior post which he could
use to influence positive change.

"Mugabe and Tsvangirai met before and after the signing of the MoU to
sort out key issues," an informed source said. "They went over a lot of
issues during the face-to-face meetings. Mugabe was pleasantly surprised as
they had an unexpectedly good discussion in which they basically agreed on
the way forward.

"The negotiators are now expected to finish quickly," the source
added, "as they will be mostly putting final touches to most of the issues
already agreed on and dealing with implementation and transitional
mechanisms."

Tsvangirai's confidants told senior local journalists this week he had
a "very good" meeting with Mugabe, although he denied agreeing on positions
and matters of detail. He said he maintained that he wants a transitional
government led by him. Mugabe wants a government of national unity led by
himself.

The ongoing talks, which started on July 10, resumed at an undisclosed
venue in Pretoria yesterday and are expected to end on August 4, sources
said. "Talks have resumed in earnest and they are underway here (Pretoria),"
a source attending the dialogue said.

Zanu PF is represented by Patrick Chinamasa and Nicholas Goche, while
Tsvangirai's faction deployed Tendai Biti and Elton Mangoma. Mutambara's
group has Welshman Ncube and Priscillah Misihairabwi-Mushonga as
negotiators.

Sources close to the talks said most of the issues on the current
agenda - including a new constitution - had already been agreed on because
the envisaged final agreement would be based on a document approved, but not
signed, by the parties in January.

By Dumisani Muleya


Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

What Mutambara Said Of MoU

Zim Independent

Local
Thursday, 24 July 2008 19:03
LADIES and gentlemen, comrades and friends, today (Monday) presents a
unique and historic occasion where Zimbabwean political leaders have shown
political maturity by signing this MoU.

I must make a few observations that will allow all of us to put
everything into perspective and context. There is always the danger of
missing the forest for the trees.

The MoU we signed is a very important document as it allows us to
begin negotiations on matters affecting our people.

The outcome of this process will lead us to a political settlement,
thus allowing us to fashion a new beginning for our people. This we are
determined to accomplish within two weeks. Let me emphasise that the
agreement we seek to achieve in these negotiations is nothing but a
short-term measure and a stop gap effort in pursuit of the resolution of our
challenges. It is neither the answer nor the long-term solution.

Beyond the political agreement we need to execute a programme of
national healing and rehabilitation of our people. This cannot be done in
two weeks. What happened in our country in the past four months has
traumatised our people. Our people have been brutalised and dehumanised.

The practice and culture of our country's politics have been taken
back 20 years. There is need for public meetings such as this one we have
today, throughout the country; in every city, Mutare, Bulawayo, Masvingo,
Harare and in every village.

These political leaders we have on stage must address rallies together
and say jointly to the people of Zimbabwe: "It is OK to belong to different
political parties.

It is OK to vote for whom so ever you wish, and yes the will of the
people shall be supreme, respected, and sovereign." This must be the jointly
presented message from political leaders to all citizens, in order to start
the healing process.

The political settlement we seek to achieve within two weeks is a stop
gap measure. We need a longer conversation among Zimbabweans. In addition to
agreeing on the borders of our country, agreeing on the name of the country,
why can't we have a Constitution that we all defend and revere?

A people-driven democratic constitution should be the basis of a
sustainable solution to our national problems. With this foundational legal
framework in place, the journey towards a peaceful, democratic and
prosperous Zimbabwe can then begin.

Such a Constitution cannot be achieved in two weeks, only a commitment
to the requisite processes and timeframes of its development is possible.

Furthermore, why can't we have a shared economic vision, a 20-30 year
economic vision for our country? This, the Promised Land, must be developed,
discussed and agreed upon by all political parties, civic society, and the
business community.

There must be total buy in and ownership of this vision by all
Zimbabwean stakeholders. We can then disagree and compete on strategies and
tactics of achieving that common vision. The envisioning process cannot be
done in two weeks. The most we can do is commit to the concept and
principle.

In conclusion, the pursuit of the political settlement we have signed
on to today, and the efforts to address the long term issues I have outlined
above must be driven by the national interest.

This is not about Arthur Mutambara and his small political party. It
is not about Morgan Tsvangirai and his party. It is not about Robert Mugabe
and his party. It is about the people of Zimbabwe.


Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

What Tsvangirai said of MoU . . .

Zim Independent

Local
Thursday, 24 July 2008 19:01
YESTERDAY (Monday) I signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with
Robert Mugabe and Prof Arthur Mutambara.

This document commits our three parties to a framework of negotiations
that will take place over the next two weeks.

I know that in signing this MoU, I represent the hopes and aspirations
of millions of Zimbabweans to end this crisis as soon as possible. Honest,
hardworking Zimbabweans who want nothing more than a life that offers peace,
security, economic opportunity, democracy and social and personal
development. This is a responsibility that the MDC and I take with the
utmost seriousness.

This memorandum offers the most tangible opportunity in the past 10
years to improve the lives of our fellow citizens. But, our signatures alone
do not guarantee that we will be able to make the most of this opportunity.
Our signatures on this document must be accompanied by acknowledging some
very basic truths:

We are Zimbabweans who want only what is best for our country and our
citizens. Our shared goal is best achieved in a climate of tolerance and
stability, not divisiveness and anger. We believe that wanting a more
democratic future or expressing an alternate political opinion should be
viewed as a right and not as a declaration of war. No one has a monopoly on
patriotism.

We believe that the will of the people is the fundamental basis on
which to ground our negotiations. We acknowledge that these negotiations can
only proceed and succeed if the rule of law is restored, if people are able
to go about their business in safety, if the public media refrain from using
hate speech to polarise the community, if the persecution of MDC MPs,
members and supporters ceases, and if humanitarian organisations are allowed
once again to provide aid to the millions of Zimbabweans in need of
assistance.

Yesterday (Monday), we committed ourselves to a process that presents
the framework in which we can strive to find a solution to the Zimbabwe
crisis. This is just the first step on a journey whose duration and success
is dependent on the sincerity and good faith of all parties involved. In the
spirit of a shared vision to heal our nation, I call upon my fellow
signatories to join me in putting aside our differences and acknowledging
that we have a responsibility to the people of Zimbabwe to show true
leadership and to find agreement that will bring an end to the violence,
polarisation, poverty and fear in which we have all been living for too
long. Our fellow countrymen and women look to us to find common ground that
will allow us, as a nation, to chart a democratic path forward.

We must acknowledge that the outcome of these negotiations will not be
acceptable until it has been endorsed by Zimbabwean civil society, the trade
unions and the people themselves. We are not here to form an elitist pact,
but rather to represent the hopes and aspirations of each citizen and every
stakeholder. This is my commitment to our partners who have struggled with
us for a more democratic form of government.

To the people of Zimbabwe I say, have courage, be strong, better days
lie ahead.

The heart of the entire world is broken by what has happened in our
country, and your bravery is praised among all peoples everywhere. The world
stands ready to join us in rebuilding our nation and restoring what has been
lost, once our peace and freedom are re-established.


Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

US Adds More To Sanctions List

Zim Independent

Local
Thursday, 24 July 2008 18:37
THE United States (US) government has included media personalities and
academics on its new sanctions list that will affect both individuals and
government entities held responsible for political violence which
characterised the period leading up to the June 27 presidential run-off
election.

The US Embassy's Public Affairs Office in Harare yesterday said these
sanctions were carefully targeted against those individuals who were
responsible for the abuses perpetrated by President Robert Mugabe's regime.

"President George Bush has expressed his desire to strengthen existing
sanctions against Zimbabwe in light of recent developments in that country,"
said a statement from the embassy. "State-sponsored violence and a sham
election orchestrated by Robert Mugabe and his Zanu PF supporters on June 27
necessitate this action in order to send a strong message that the United
States will not allow individuals closely associated with the Mugabe regime
the freedom to operate in our financial markets."

The embassy declined to reveal the names of the individuals and
entities slapped with the sanctions, but said it had since dispatched
letters to those affected advising them of the developments.

Sources privy to the list told the Zimbabwe Independent that the new
list now includes journalists from the state-controlled media, university
professors and political commentators.

"The new list includes journalists, political commentators, university
professors and everyone who worked to undermine democracy in the country,"
one of the sources said.

The embassy's Assistant Public Affairs Officer, Mark Weinberg,
yesterday declined to release the number of individuals and entities
affected.

He said: "We don't have a specific figure at the moment but we were
looking at people inside Mugabe's regime who are responsible for the recent
political events."

Weinberg could neither confirm nor deny that the list included
journalists, academics and political commentators.

Meanwhile, the European Union (EU) on Tuesday widened sanctions
against people and companies allegedly propping up Mugabe's government.

The EU added 37 more people to a 130 list of individuals under a visa
ban and asset freeze.

The list include two journalists, political editor of the Sunday Mail
Munyaradzi Huni and former Herald political editor Ceasar Zvayi. Zvayi left
Zimbabwe last month for Botswana, where he is now a media lecturer.

Also on the list are central bank governor Gideon Gono, his advisor
Munyaradzi Kereke, Cricket Zimbabwe president Peter Chingoka, deputy
chairperson of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission Joyce Kazembe, army
generals and others.

The companies listed were Zidco Holdings and Jongwe Printing and
Publishing Company (Pvt) Ltd, Cold Comfort Farm Trust Co-operative, and
Zimbabwe Defence Industries.

The EU Foreign ministers said the sanctions could be extended to other
individuals and organisations.

In the coming weeks the EU said it will "examine the measures which
might be taken against others responsible for violence, and other bodies
linked" to them.

The sanctions were imposed despite the fact that Mugabe and leaders of
the two MDC factions - Arthur Mutambara and Morgan Tsvangirai - on Monday
agreed to find a negotiated settlement to the country's crisis by signing a
memorandum of understanding (MoU).

The MoU paved the way for focused negotiations for power sharing being
mediated by South African President Thabo Mbeki. The talks were initiated by
Sadc and are backed by the African Union and the United Nations. The
negotiations kicked off in Pretoria yesterday.

By Lucia Makamure


Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Nyanhongo Defies Court Order To Vacate Farm

Zim Independent

Local
Thursday, 24 July 2008 18:35
TRANSPORT and Communications deputy minister Hubert Nyanhongo has been
accused of defying two High Court orders compelling him to vacate a farm in
Burma Valley, Manicaland, he seized from a white-commercial farmer, Johan
Vorster.

Nyanhongo took over Eldorado of Gwindingwi Farm in September last
year.

Vorster claimed that Nyanhongo illegally took over his banana
plantation and during the invasion he lost valuable farming equipment and
implements, which included 45 tonnes of fertiliser, 100 tonnes of bananas,
six tractors, 15 trailers, a Mazda pick-up truck, irrigation equipment and a
seven-tonne CK10 Nissan lorry.

The farmer was granted the first court order against Nyanhongo on July
3 and the second one on July 8 this year by High Court judge, Justice
November Mtshiya.

Vorster claimed that a Zanu PF youth militia leader Tendai Mbereko,
who was camped at the farm, told him that Nyanhongo would not vacate it.

Nyanhongo yesterday said the Minister of State for National Security,
Lands, Land Reform and Resettlement, Didymus Mutasa, allocated him the farm
last year under the land reform programme.

In an interview with the Zimbabwe Independent, Vorster said Nyanhongo
came to his farm last year disguised as an employee from the Lands ministry.

"He falsely informed me that he was from the Ministry of Lands and was
doing a land audit," Vorster said. "I then discovered that Nyanhongo is the
deputy Minister of Transport. He approached us again a couple of weeks later
indicating that he was now interested in our farm. We checked with the
Ministry of Lands in Manicaland and were told that no-one had been given an
offer letter for our farm."

After that, Vorster said they heard nothing further from Nyanhongo
until June this year when a group of youths militia visited him in Mutare.

"On Saturday June 21 at 8pm I was visited by two people at my house in
Mutare, sent by Nyanhongo. They gave me a copy of an offer letter from
Nyanhongo for our farm. They also demanded the keys for the sheds, barns and
house on the farm," he said. "He placed 26 youth militia on the farm that he
brought from Bindura. Our mechanic, Martin Taremba, was assaulted along with
Amon Mekani, Sunnyboy Maseunda, Wallas David and Gilbert Chitendo."

He said when he approached the police they refused to help him saying
they only reacted to "criminal" cases and not "civil" cases.

On July 3, the High Court in Harare ruled in favour of Vorster and
Nyanhongo was given an order to leave the farm.

Vorster said: "The police accompanied me to the farm only to serve the
court order with the Messenger of Court. The youth militia leader, Tendai
Mbereko, said they would not take heed of the court order unless Nyanhongo
himself ordered them to stop operations. Tendai stated that Nyanhongo would
protect them.

"A second court order was served on July 8 2008. The police again
refused to carry out the court order and would not remove Nyanhongo."

But Nyanhongo yesterday said the court orders stated that they should
conduct the handover and takeover in a good manner denying that initially he
approached Vorster disguised as a worker from the Ministry of Lands.

Nyanhongo said: "I did approach him personally twice last year telling
him that I was going to be the new owner of the farm since my offer letter
from the ministry had been delayed. I wanted him to know so that it would
not come as a surprise.

"This year I returned to the farm and told him personally that I was
the new owner of the farm and I left my people there since most of the farm
equipment was vandalised, including bath tubs, toilets and even the bananas
were injected with a dangerous chemical.

"That is sabotage and it is illegal, he is a dangerous man. I never
stole anything from the farm. Instead he is the one who destroyed almost
everything."

The deputy minister said he would never allow Vorster on the farm.

By Wongai Zhangazha


Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Divisions Back To Haunt Zanu PF

Zim Independent

Local
Thursday, 24 July 2008 18:32
DIVISIONS within Zanu PF, which appeared to have disappeared following
the shock March 29 election setback, have returned to haunt the party after
Vice-President Joseph Msika recently labelled some party functionaries in
Matabeleland as sell-outs.

Sources in the ruling party said Msika's utterances have stirred a
hornet's nest in the region, with some senior Zanu PF officials who claimed
the ageing leader was referring to them vowing to bring him down.

"The divisions which rocked Matabeleland provinces before the last
congress (in 2004) have resurfaced and this time there is anger over Msika's
sell-out statement," said one of the sources.

Msika two weeks ago threatened to expose a cabal of politicians from
the region whom he accused of working with unnamed people in Harare to
"destroy" provincial leaders in the hope of being rewarded with ministerial
appointments.

"There are leaders in this region who think that they will be
ministers through gossiping about others with leaders who are based in
Harare," Msika said.

"To those unscrupulous party leaders in Harare, do not think I cannot
see you trying to put your stooges in the region. You are reckless and
careless."

Msika further threatened to publicly name those that he claimed were
divisionist in the region.

The sources, however, said after Msika's comments were published in
the press there was a furore with some provincial leaders engaging Ministry
of Information and Publicity permanent secretary, George Charamba,
complaining that the state media should bar the coverage of the veteran
politician.

Zanu PF sources were unanimous that Msika's message was directed at
war veterans leader Jabulani Sibanda, Industry and Trade Minister Obert
Mpofu and Bulawayo Governor Cain Mathema.

"Sibanda and Mpofu have President Mugabe's ear when it comes to issues
affecting the region and this has been irritating the senior leadership who
say they have no mandate of the region and Msika's outburst confirms that
the divisions in the region are far from over," another source said.

The sources added that the senior leadership that was present at the
victory celebrations could have influenced Msika's statements as most of
them do not see eye to eye with some of the people Msika alleged were
causing divisions.

Msika at the meeting further claimed that PF Zapu was still alive and
had not been swallowed by Zanu-PF.

Msika's controversial statement, however, is set to further exacerbate
the rifts within the party.

The victory celebrations were attended by Zanu PF politburo, central
committee and National Consultative members who included Zanu PF secretary
for Youth, Absolom Sikhosana, Matabeleland South Governor Angeline Masuku,
Minister of Small Enterprises Sithembiso Nyoni, Matabeleland North Governor
Sithokozile Mathuthu and Zimbabwe's ambassador to South Africa Simon Khaya
Moyo, among others.

Efforts to get a comment from Msika were fruitless at the time of
going to press.

By Loughty Dube


Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Zanu PF/MDC Pledge To Lift NGO Ban

Zim Independent

Local
Thursday, 24 July 2008 18:30
ZANU PF and the two formations of the MDC this week expressed their
commitment to alleviate the humanitarian crisis faced by the country with
the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) which sets the agenda
for inter-party talks.

President Robert Mugabe and leaders of the two MDC factions, Morgan
Tsvangirai and Arthur Mutambara, in the MoU signed on Monday agreed to work
together to ensure the lifting of a ban on all field operations on
humanitarian organisations in order to ensure the safety of displaced
political victims.

The MoU reads: "The parties agree that, in the interim, they will work
together to ensure the safety of any displaced persons and their safe return
home and that humanitarian and social welfare organisations are enabled to
render such assistance as might be required."

According to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of
Humanitarian Affairs in Zimbabwe, the number of displaced people due to the
politically motivated violence is estimated at 36 000 with 16 844 confirmed.

Independent observers claim that more than three million Zimbabweans
are in need of humanitarian assistance in the form of food, treatment,
shelter and repatriation.

The umbrella body for the civil society, the National Association of
Non-Governmental Organisations (Nango) on Wednesday challenged the political
parties involved in the talks to constructively resolve the humanitarian
crisis facing the country.

"We note the commitment by the political parties in their Memorandum
of Understanding to the effect that 'they will work together to ensure that
humanitarian and social welfare organisations are enabled to render such
assistance as may be required' and challenge these parties to work
constructively to resolve the security complex that has made it difficult
for humanitarian agencies to access certain areas and render assistance to
vulnerable groups in this politically volatile post-election environment,"
said Nango.

"Efforts towards this must of necessity include the depoliticisation
of social welfare agencies and local government structures as well as the
removal of militant groups from communities."

Nango said most humanitarian agencies have been unable to resume
operations, while waiting for the relevant authorities to pave the way for
agencies to operate without undue interference or victimisation of personnel
amid the prevailing politically volatile environment.

According to the civil society body, the lives of the elderly, people
living with HIV and Aids, orphans and vulnerable children and other groups
remain in jeopardy because of the suspension of operations.

Nango said the state was yet to prove its allegations that civil
society, during the run up to the March 29 harmonised elections, worked with
Tsvangirai's MDC.

"So far the reasons given for the suspension, such as the
investigations into allegations of the politicisation of food aid or the
mobilisation of communities for political purposes, are yet to be proven by
the state," said Nango.

By Lucia Makamure


Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

RBZ Working On $500 Billion Note

Zim Independent

Business
Thursday, 24 July 2008 18:09

CASH shortages worsened further this week amid speculation that the
Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe was working on plans to introduce yet another
higher denomination agro-bearers' cheque.

Businessdigest understands that the RBZ is finalising the introduction
of a $500 billion note which is equal to less than US$4, barely a week after
introducing a new $100 billion note.

The $100 billion note joined a family of bearer notes with the imprint
"Special Agro Cheque" in the $5 billion, $25 billion and $50 billion
denominations.

But with the highest denomination note hardly enough to afford - for
Zimbabwe's shrinking working class - a trip to and from work using public
transport, most Zimbabweans see nothing special about the so-called
agro-cheques. The RBZ has however ordered banks to give special dispensation
to uniformed forces to withdraw $1 trillion daily.

The $500 billion bearer cheque is likely to be introduced next week or
early August.

It comes at a time when the RBZ continues to limit cash withdrawals
for individuals and corporates.

Corporates and individuals are allowed to withdraw only $100 billion
daily, which is barely enough to buy a single candle in a country where
frequent power cuts are the norm.

Liquidity shortages on the market have resulted in parallel market
stabilising for nearly two weeks.

The United States dollar, which was going for $19 000 on January 2
this year was trading between $110 billion and $130 billion over the past
two weeks.

The transfer rate had been furiously on the run, trading above $750
billion to the greenback as cash shortages persist.

The $500 billion bearer cheque, enough only to buy two loaves at today's
price - if available - would be the 30th new note the Reserve Bank governor
Gideon Gono has introduced since he was appointed in November 2003.

This year alone government issued bills in denominations of $1
million, $5 million, and $10 million in January. In May, it issued bills
from $25 million and $50 million up to $25 billion and $50 billion.

"I would say the new bearer's notes will come next month (August),"
said a central bank official who is part of the team working on the
introduction of the new denominations.

"The introduction of higher denominations of bearers' cheques is an
interim measure by the governor to ensure that cash shortages which the
country experienced between November last year and February this year do not
recur," central bank officials said this week.

It was also meant to avoid customers carrying large volumes of money
to buy few goods because of hyperinflation.

The Reserve Bank had not responded to questions sent at the time of
going to print.

Gono recently said the bank had put in place "pro-active and
appropriate" strategies to counter these developments. He gave assurances to
the banking and transacting public that the Reserve Bank was on top of the
situation.

Acting Reserve Bank governor Charles Chikaura, introduced the first
bearer cheque as a temporary measure in July 2003. Since then Zimbabwe has
not had a formal currency.

The value in both real terms and convenience of bearers' cheques
introduced during the five-and-half years have been overtaken by events on
the inflation front.

Inflation surged to 2,2% million from 399,5% in July when the first
bearer cheques was introduced. Independent economists however argue that
inflation is above 10 million percent.

As inflation continues to gallop the demand for cash has also
increased. The parallel market has also put pressure on the defenceless
Zimbabwe dollar.

"The Reserve Bank is fighting a losing battle," independent economist
John Robertson said. "As long as inflation remains high, cash shortages will
persist. There is need to address inflation by increasing production so that
a few goods do not (cost) a lot of money," he said.

Zimbabweans have battled severe cash shortages over the past four
years due to an economic crisis described by the World Bank as unprecedented
for a country not at war.

In addition to cash shortages, Zimbabweans are also grappling with
shortages of virtually every basic survival commodity, essential medicines,
fuel and foreign currency.

Zimbabwe Allied Banking Group economist, David Mupamhadzi, said it was
an indication of the value that the Zimbabwean dollar has lost over the past
few months.

"Due to the current cash shortages that we are experiencing coupled
with the continuous increase in prices, the demand for money will continue
to increase, and a number of agents will prefer to keep their money out of
the formal system," he said.

The bank will introduce the new denominations, despite the knowledge
of the existence of cash barons and lack of accountability concerning more
than 51% of the money in the system they just have to bring in more money.

ZB Financial Holdings group economist, Best Doroh, said the root
problem was inflation which meant that the demand for cash for transaction
purposes was now high.

Gono said the current cash shortages were caused by
speculation as a lot of money was outside the banking system.

The introduction of the higher denomination was being done to avert
cash shortages which could be worsen in the short-term after the German
company Giesecke and Devrient halted delivery of banknote paper to the
country in protest at the worsening political and socio-economic situation.

Giesecke and Devrient has been doing business with Zimbabwe for the
past 40 years.

With money printing now out of commission, Fidelity has been forced to
scale down its working hours from 24 hours to just eight hours for the
Commercial Division, which is responsible for printing documents with
security features.

The company's employees where put on "forced paid leave" three weeks
ago until August 4.

"Our decision is a reaction to the political tension in Zimbabwe,
which is mounting significantly rather than easing as expected, and takes
account of the critical evaluation by the international community, German
government and general public," said Karsten Ottenberg, the company's
management board chairman and chief executive officer.

By Paul Nyakazeya


Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

To Pull Out Or Not: The Dilemma Of Foreign Companies In Zim

Zim Independent

Business
Thursday, 24 July 2008 18:06
BUSINESS has to be apolitical. This is true in principle. In practice,
it is a different story altogether.

It is extremely difficult to remain untainted by politics especially
if the business is big, is involved in key sectors of the economy and is
required to deal with senior government officials. The situation gets more
complicated if a company operates in places other than the country of origin
as is the case with multinationals. They are answerable to head offices in
the parent country while having to operate outside it. A conflict between
the country of origin and the host nation often puts them in a quandary.

The recent calls by some Western countries for transnational companies
to consider pulling out of Zimbabwe must have caused headaches to the
managements of those firms. For companies that have been operating in the
country for decades this is inconceivable.

The downturn in the economy has a history spanning almost a decade and
companies have been hoping for a return to political and economic stability
for a long time. Over this period some companies have fallen by the wayside
while others have disinvested and emigrated to other countries. Foreign
companies that have stayed the course this far seem to have long-term plans
which go beyond the politics of the day.

It is not clear how far the companies will give in to pressure from
their home countries. The public media lately reported that plans are on
course to give any abandoned businesses to empowerment groups and investors
from "friendly" nations. Most of these companies invested a lot in their
businesses and with Africa seen as a growth continent they are likely to
treat the suggestion to move out with a pinch of salt. They know that
surrendering now will mean losing everything that they laboured for, for
years.

Among the worst affected companies are those of British origin which
are said to be under considerable pressure from their politicians while at
the same time they are being touted as prime targets under the
Indigenisation Act.

British Premier Gordon Brown allegedly advised the companies to
"reconsider" their operations in Zimbabwe. Brown's Minister for Africa was
more plainspoken pointing out that British companies might be forced to
leave Zimbabwe as part of the toughened sanctions.

Besides the European companies, the country also hosts several South
African companies. They include Pick and Pay which has a 25% stake in TM
supermarkets, Standard Bank which operates in Zimbabwe as Stanbic Bank, and
mining houses Impala Platinum (Zimplats) and Metallon Gold which runs
several gold mines in the country. The activities of all these companies
have suffered as a result of the harsh operating environment but none has
openly talked about pulling out.

On the contrary some have plans to expand their businesses. Recently,
a fuel company Engen Petroleum is reported as having acquired Shell
Petroleum's assets in a move described by the local public media as a vote
of confidence for the country.

Pulling out of the country now will also present opportunities for
their competitors to come in. Besides, the high political risk will mean
that the assets will have to be sold at a huge discount at best while the
government can easily expropriate them under the indigenisation programme if
their owners abandon them.

The costs of re-establishing the business when the economy improves
can be much more than those of sitting it out until good days return. Many
investors are of the view that the economy will rebound in a few years and
companies established in the country already will benefit. It therefore
makes sense to them to wait for the recovery despite a possibility that it
may be sometime before it actually occurs.

Companies which were operating in South Africa during the apartheid
era found themselves in a similar, if not worse, situation than that
obtaining in Zimbabwe. Multinational firms were accused by locals and
outside protesters of supporting the apartheid regime. Persistent
anti-apartheid protests forced the likes of Barclays to disinvest from South
Africa in 1986. With hindsight, that decision turned out to be costly given
that the company was well established with a large countrywide branch
network.

The post-apartheid era saw the South African economy booming with
banks benefiting from growth in lending business and increased deposits from
the expanding black middle class. Barclays had to pay a heavy price to
return to South Africa. It paid US$5,5 billion to acquire 60% of Absa in
2005 to boost its then struggling operations in the rainbow nation. Iconic
former South Africa President Nelson Mandela could not express it any better
to Barclays in 1995 than to say, "You should never have sold."

Ironically Barclays is in the thick of things once again but this time
in Zimbabwe with pressure coming from the UK for the bank to pull out.
Whether it will bow to pressure or will make a business decision to stay on
remains to be seen. Either way, the choice is a difficult one for Barclays,
and other similarly placed foreign companies to make.


Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Economy Biggest Challenge At Talks

Zim Independent

Business
Thursday, 24 July 2008 18:03
PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe and leaders of the two MDC formations, Morgan
Tsvangirai and Arthur Mutambara, on Monday signed a Memorandum of
Understanding (MoU) setting the agenda for full-scale talks to resolve the
country's economic and political problems.

The stiffest challenge for any government that emerges from the talks
is achieving the main objective of "restorating of economic stability and
growth" in an economy which has shrunk by 60% within a decade.

The MoU states that the talks should be completed within two weeks
from the date of signing. The talks are largely expected to come up with a
roadmap that would address the economic problems that the country has been
facing since 1998.

The MDC will come in to a government which is virtually broke and
heavily indebted with a foreign debt of US$4 billion as at March 31 this
year, and a domestic debt nearing $20 quadrillion.

The domestic debt figure means every Zimbabwean is personally indebted
to the tune of about $142,8 billion.

The manufacturing sector is said to be operating below 30% and all
major sectors of the economy are depressed. The Zimbabwean dollar was
trading above $1,3 trillion to the United State dollar on Wednesday, but the
maximum withdrawal limit from banks of $100 bilion is not enough to buy half
a loaf of bread, if available.

Economist Tony Hawkins said there was need for the new government to
restore the credibility and discipline of the central bank and financial
sector as a whole.

"It is going to take some time for hyperinflation to come down. It is
also going to be difficult to prioritise what to tackle first. In the
short-term it is important for the new government to effect crisis
management and get some foreign currency. But money alone is not going to
help," he said.

There is also the problem of price controls and distortions, and the
relevance of organisations like the National Incomes and Pricing Commission
(NIPC).

The country's Reserve Bank is said to be technically insolvent and has
incurred huge losses in the region of US$2,5 billion through quasi-fiscal
operations. In addition, more money is owed in United State dollar terms to
exporters, non-governmental organisations and individual foreign currency
holders.

Economic commenter, John Robertson, said the first challenge the new
government would face is to halt the worsening slide of the economy.

Inflation is officially said to be 2,2 million percent, but
independent economic analysts say the figure was above 10 million percent.
Robertson said money alone would not be enough to resuscitate Zimbabwe's
economy.

"For the international community to give us financial support we have
to prove that we are worthy of that support," Robertson said.

The revenue authority has reportedly been prejudiced of almost 60% of
potential earnings which have been generated by the informal sector, which
is not a recognised source of funds.

The three parties which signed the MoU expressed commitment to
dialogue, saying it was the only way forward as President Mugabe and
Tsvangirai met for the first time in a decade.

President Thabo Mbeki of South Africa who is the Sadc-appointed and
African Union-endorsed mediator was present during the signing ceremony.

Mugabe and Tsvangirai later had lunch together while President Mbeki
and Mutambara had theirs separately, and held discussions for close to an
hour.

Many hope the two were talking about a serious economic rescue package
instead of blaming each other for the political madness that the country has
suffered since February 2000.

President Mugabe said: "We sit here in order for us to chart a new
way, a new way of political and economic interaction and this out of the
decision that we made, we of Southern Africa, some time ago, that we assist
each other and in this particular case, we assist Zimbabwe to overcome the
political and economic situation which requires support.

"Our having signed this MoU is a serious matter on my part and my
party Zanu PF; we take it seriously. The signatures we have appended there
(on the MoU), I hope reflect the sincerity of all of us."

But is Mugabe really aware of the gravity with which the economy has
declined since 1998? Thousands of companies have shut down, scaled down
operations or relocated to neighbouring countries as the economic
environment becomes ever more untenable.

The new government will inherit corrupt government structures and
institutions, a situation that might be difficult to undo.

The MDC claims to have a comprehensive plan to deal with problems but
analysts said it will be an uphill task to reverse the damage that has been
largely caused by the Zanu PF government.

In their political manifesto the opposition has said it will
restructure government companies and institutions.

Zanu PF officials who spoke to businessdigest said the MDC would not
achieve anything as they have a reputation of "talking too much but doing
nothing".

As such, the parties to the talks could find it hard to come up with a
feasible "rescue economic package".

Said Tsvangirai: "I sincerely acknowledge that if we put our heads
together we can find a solution, not finding a solution is not an
option.

"As we sign the MoU, we all commit ourselves to the first tentative
step to solutions. I have been reluctant (to endorse the process), but I
want to share a heavy commitment that the process of negotiation is
successful. We want a better Zimbabwe economically and politically."

Mutambara described the MoU as a document of great significance that
allowed for dialogue, whose outcome should result in a political settlement
and later a new constitution.

"The signing of the MoU is very important, it allows us to begin
negotiations. This political settlement we seek to achieve in two weeks is
not the answer . . . we need national healing. Beyond the political
settlement, we want gatherings like these where leaders speak to
Zimbabweans," he said.

By Paul Nyakazeya


Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Natfoods Diversifies To Survive Economic Turbulence

Zim Independent

Business
Thursday, 24 July 2008 17:58
ONCE regarded as the nation and region's most reliable source of food,
National Foods Ltd, (Natfoods) has been reduced to a mere shadow of its
former self.

The company has reduced operations and manufacturing of its wide range
of products as the economic situation continues to bite.

A manufacturing sector survey report released this week revealed that
Natfoods was not the only company that has been heavily affected by the
country's economic challenges but a majority of manufacturing firms have
crumbled under the hyper inflationary environment.

"Whereas 60% of the respondents reported capacity utilisation levels
were below 35%, a significant 13% of the respondents reported that capacity
utilisation was well below 15%, with some of these close to 0% capacity,"
Calisto Jokonya, the president of the Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries
(CZI) said.

Natfoods used to own a wide range of products.

Its products included flour and maize mill, stock-feeds, polypropylene
bags, edible oils and malt household pre-packs and general produce.

As the economy continues to decline, the company has been forced to
drop some of its once famous products.

"We are the largest manufacturer of basic foods in Zimbabwe, raw
materials permitting, from mealie meal under our Red Seal brand -- flour,
edible oil, rice, salt, sugar beans, stock feeds and many others," Natfood
managing director, Golden Chekenyere, told businessdigest.

According to Chekenyere, the company "like any other in the country"
was facing difficulties in its major operations.

"We are open and operating in all units depending on raw material
availability," Chekenyere said. "Our strategy is to produce at maximum
levels whenever we have raw materials."

At the moment Natfoods has ceased most of its operations citing lack
of raw materials and lack of funds to import.

"As you can see, most of our workers are milling around and basking in
the sun. This is because there is not much to do besides repackaging of
imports that belong to the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe," Chekenyere said.

Chekenyere said capacities varied depending on availability of raw
materials, from as little as 6%, up to 10%, others reaching up to 60%.

Though Chekenyere said NatFoods is manufacturing and distributing
products at all times, he highlighted that it has been long since their
products were last seen on the shelves.

Natfoods have devised other survival strategies, given that the
company was no longer generating enough to cater for their workers. The
central bank has engaged the services of Natfoods to repackage mealie meal
and flour that it imports from South Africa for the People's Shops.

"National Foods holds product for third parties, owned by third
parties, obviously and those products are not ours," said Chekenyere.

"We also offer pack down services whereby we pack down bulk products
into smaller packs. For example we have been requested to repackage bulk
Roller Meal and bulk Flour into smaller units."

Natfoods, according to Chekenyere also provides warehousing facilities
upon request as they own large warehouses countrywide.

"In cases where approvals have been obtained from the authorities, we
toll manufactured products for various organisations that have their own raw
materials."

Despite Natfoods being a beneficiary of the BACOSSI funds availed by
the central bank, the group has struggled even though they have tried to
account for the funds.

"With BACOSSI Funds we have produced and supported the formal market
and we also provide transport and distribution facilities, and packaging
services to the government and many other customers," Chekenyere said. "For
example, we received BACOSSI support for our Packaging Division and produced
bags for Operation Maguta and other customers like Windmill (and) Seed co."

Natfoods has hinted on venturing into contract farming in order to
alleviate challenges associated with shortages of raw materials for
production. Crops that the company is looking at in the programme include
maize, wheat, sugar beans, and oats among other crops.

As an agro based company Natfoods sees it self as an integral part of
the national efforts to increase agricultural output and seeing to it that
there is a fair and equitable distribution of basic foods to the formal
channels throughout the country while at the same time maintaining a fair
and realistic pricing of basic foods.

"We as a company have and continue to comply with government
directives on pricing and prices," Chekenyere said.

"Approval was sought and obtained from the authorities to sell rice
and salt in our bonded warehouses in foreign currency under stringent
conditions. The Authority is only temporary and it is not a permanent
arrangement."

By Jeslyn Dendere


Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Zimbabwe's Economic Revival Hangs In The Balance

Zim Independent

Business
Thursday, 24 July 2008 17:56
THE signing of a Memorandum of Understanding this week by the major
political parties in Zimbabwe has been viewed as a welcome relief by many
people.

If carried to completion, the process could be a turning point in the
country's economic collapse.

The MoU has as one of the points of discussion, the need to restore
economic stability and growth, addressing the land question and looking at
the impact of sanctions on the country's economy. Realistically, the fate
and direction of the country's economy has looked irredeemably linear.

Whilst the current economic policies of the returning government are
at best uncertain, the country's isolation from the international market
place for reasons ranging from sanctions, failure to attract international
investments and a reduced export capacity will suffocate the economy further
and hurt millions of our citizens already struggling to make a living within
an imploding economic nightmare.

The government has increasing been adopting isolationism, the costs of
this approach could not be more severe. The inward looking economic approach
is unlikely to result in any meaningful economic results. There are several
economic reasons why this will be the case. Any discussion regarding the
revival of the economy will need to make an honest diagnosis of where we
are.

It appears every sector in a previously robust economy is now
paralysed. Agricultural production has been adversely affected by the land
redistribution programme. Statistics show, for example that annual wheat
production has fallen from a high of 300 000 tonnes in 1990 to less than 50
000 in 2007. The tobacco industry which was Zimbabwe's single largest
generator of foreign currency accounting for a third of Zimbabwe's foreign
exchange earnings in 2000 has also been adversely affected. Tobacco earning
declined from US$600 million in 2000 to less than US$125 million in 2007.
The manufacturing sector is operating at 10% of its capacity, shrinking by
more than 47% between 1998 and 2006. This is believed to have brought the
output levels back to figures reported in 1972. Price controls introduced in
June 2007 condemned the manufacturing sector to extinction. In an attempt to
control hyperinflation and spiraling price increases, the government
directed all companies to halve their prices for an indeterminate period.
Price controls have led to price disequilibrium in the economy resulting in
economic distortions and rent seeking behaviour which is feeding one of the
most sophisticated black markets in the world.

The Zimbabwe dollar has become virtually worthless against major
trading currencies, trading at more than $500 billion to the US dollar and
$1,2 trillion to the pound sterling. The return of the zeros has put a
strain on the national payment system with many computers failing to handle
the enormity of so many zeros. The country's export capacity has shrunk to
record levels, leaving the Zimbabwe dollar in a permanent state of
implosion. The recent announcement by some international companies such as
Tesco in the UK that it was to stop importing farm produce from Zimbabwe due
to the deteriorating political climate in the country is reminiscent of
economic sanctions against South Africa during the apartheid era. Whilst we
do not expect that the situation will be allowed to match that of South
Africa, disinvestments or economic sanctions prohibiting multi-lateral
companies from doing business in Zimbabwe can squeeze the economy towards
total collapse.

South Africa's history with economic sanctions is a worthy test case
for the government. Increased international isolation will bring the country
to its knees, perhaps at a faster pace than was the case with apartheid
sanctions. By the 1980s, the United States, the United Kingdom and 23 other
nations had passed laws placing various trade restrictions on South Africa.
A disinvestment movement in many countries was also widespread, with
individual cities and provinces around the world implementing various laws
and local regulations forbidding registering corporations under their
jurisdiction from doing business with South African firms, factories, or
banks.

The difference between the two countries is that when economic
sanctions were imposed on South Africa, the country had a vibrant economy
with growth rates well above 3%. In contrast, Zimbabwe has had negative
growth rates since 1997. Further isolation will be damaging to the country's
remaining export capabilities. The price of the isolationist policies by the
current regime is likely to see the Zimbabwe dollar suffer immense pressure
as international trading partners cut business ties with the country. Canada
and the USA are expected to table a fresh round of sanctions on Zimbabwe
with the former having already announced travel sanctions against members of
the Zanu PF ruling party and the prohibitions of all flights originating
from Zimbabwe in Canada.

The country cannot afford protectionism when most countries in Africa
are opening up to international trade and free market economies in an
increasingly globalised world.

Among the most important ideas in orthodox economies is the theory
that countries prosper through trade and not necessarily through subsistence
farming. The perfect example of this is the globalisation of China's
economy, which has propelled the country as a competitive force on the world
stage. Trade statistics for China are remarkable; its exports have grown by
13% per annum since 1981 and by 18% since 1991. Its share of world exports
has risen 1,1% in 1981 to 6,8% in 2005 making China the world's
third-largest exporting nation after the United States and Germany. It is
anticipated that if the growth rates of the past decades can be sustained,
it could overtake the US in 2008 and Germany in 2009.

Yes, there has been criticism of the neo-liberal agenda to trade and
the need to make trade more equitable across regions but empirical evidence
suggest that the case for outward looking policies is stronger than that of
inward looking policies. The World Bank's World Development Report in 1987
is incisive; growth in income per capita was highest in the strongly
outward-looking economies.

The same was true for growth in total GDP and in value added in
manufacturing, and for the standard measure of the efficiency of investment.
On all these indicators, the outward-looking countries also outperformed
inward-looking economies, although by a smaller margin. This failure of a
strong inward orientation to promote domestic manufacturing -- not just
exports of manufacturers -- is particularly striking since the whole point
of looking inward is to industrialise faster.

Clear consensus among mainstream economists is that outward looking
trade policies are one of the key factors to economic development. Zimbabwe's
inward looking economic model within the context of deteriorating
macroeconomic fundamentals cannot support an economic revival of any kind.
The polarised political environment will drive away any remaining chance of
FDI, the perceived breakdown in the protection of property rights is an
indictment to investors seeking opportunities. The recent threats of the
nationalisation of industry have now become a reality as the government is
set on a vindictive path against foreign owned businesses. Soon, policy
makers will have to weigh the economic cost of defending perceived threats
to national sovereignty against the rationality of prudent economic
policies.

There is no doubt that the state of the economy has reached crisis
point. Unfavourable economic climate has led to a mass exodus of Zimbabwe's
talented professionals into the diaspora. It is estimated that 3 million
Zimbabweans have migrated to South Africa for economic and political
reasons. More than a million more are scattered across the UK, USA and
Australia. With the unemployment rate recorded at more than 80%, it
certainly will take a while to bring industry utilisation to reasonable
sustainability.

Without the resolution of the political process, the pressure on an
already crumbling economy will be immense. Whilst it is certainly noble that
the country's sovereignty be protected at all costs, assuming that Zimbabwe
can be self sufficient when almost 80% of its consumables and 100% of its
fuel requirements are imported is an unrealistic proposition bordering on an
exercise in folly. Without cogent, economic policy pronouncements beyond the
sovereignty rhetoric or unity of purpose amongst political players, the
economic decline cannot be arrested.

*Lance Mambondiani is an investment executive.


Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

A GNU Is Not The Solution

Zim Independent

Opinion
Thursday, 24 July 2008 18:16
HISTORY is potent, every precedence is ingrained in it and the finest
decisions have been premised on it and it will forever be so.

Robert Mugabe's memoirs will certainly make an interesting read (if
they are ever published) particularly the part where he's going to paint a
picture of the actual
things that were going on behind the scenes and in his mind between
1997 and now. I can't wait.

Despite that, however, I remain adamant that negotiations, let alone a
Government of National Unity, do not and will not serve the fundamental
issues and expectations of the average Zimbabwean from any walk of life who
is not a crony or direct beneficiary of the regime's politics of patronage
and appeasement.

I have just gathered that African leaders are united against sanctions
and I know why.

Africans do not believe in continuity or the basic tenets of
institutions. They are centred subordinates who focus on one leader blindly
until they (the leader) become some kind of demi-god or cult figure. This is
entrenched in the tendency by Africans to create "a cult of personality"
around an individual, essentially and effectively creating "the institution"
of a particular individual. The resultant effect is that you cannot separate
the persona from the institution or vice versa or better still, the ruling
party from the government. This is an intrinsic African predicament, from
the ANC and Chamachamapinduzi to Zanu PF.

Even the MDC has and continues to create a cult of personality around
Morgan Tsvangirai, at their expense of course.

The GNU if it comes to see the light of day will go down in history as
the biggest diplomatic fraud because:

*How can victorious generals negotiate with their prisoners? Ideally
the triumphant general is known to take their booty and plunder it creating
subjects out of their "dogs" in the process.

*How can a clear victor negotiate with a clear loser? Utter hogwash!

*How can any democratic institution, Western or African, acknowledge
an election result held under visibly jagged autocratic conditions?

In essence Mugabe and Zanu PF do not and will not even in donkey's
years represent the will of any rational Zimbabwean. Contemplate this:
"Experience is the teacher of fools; however it is the best teacher". The
experience in question is that of others, a wise person should learn from
other people's bad experiences rather than tread on ground that has failed
others before.

The MDC should just throw away the baby with the bath water. At least
we will salvage some respect and history and morals will be on our side.

*Muzengeza writes from South Africa.


Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

GNU, TG Which Way For Zim?

Zim Independent

Opinion
Thursday, 24 July 2008 18:12
TALKS to find a settlement to Zimbabwe's decade-long crisis started in
Pretoria this week with Zanu PF and the MDC still deeply divided over what
the process should produce.

The negotiations followed Monday's momentous occasion when President
Robert Mugabe and leaders of the two MDC factions - Arthur Mutambara and
Morgan Tsvangirai --- signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) before
mediator, South African President Thabo Mbeki.

The Tsvangirai-led MDC, the bigger of the two formations, is pushing
for a transitional government (TG) headed by its president, while Mugabe's
Zanu PF insists on an inclusive government with the 84-year-old incumbent at
the helm.

The African Union and United Nations have joined the consultative
process, thus broadening it beyond Mbeki's sole remit from Sadc.

Politicians and political analysts this week said what is desirable
for Zimbabwe is a construction that is not blinded by the politics of the
day, but rather the economics.

Zimbabwe-born South African businessman Mutumwa Mawere argued that the
country was bleeding and the politics at play seems to focus on political
matters to the exclusion of the fundamentals of the economic situation.

"Whether it will be a GNU or TG, the country needs a change of
direction," argued Mawere.

"The policies have to change."

He said the talks were likely to produce a GNU.

"It seems that a GNU will be the preferred outcome. Both Zanu PF and
MDC-Tsvangirai have largely the same number of parliamentary votes requiring
a scheme of arrangement," Mawere said.

"This may take the form of a new interim constitution providing for
the election of a prime minister by parliament. The prime minister will then
come from the MDC factions. The president (Mugabe) will remain in situ
presumably to ensure a stable transition."

He said the danger with this approach was that given the age of
Mugabe, this may not work as it will favour the MDC in future elections.

"Zanu PF urgently needs a leadership renewal and I do not think this
will materialise through a GNU," Mawere argued. "Depending on the succession
battle in Zanu PF, there may be strong forces that favour a transitional
government that will still give Zanu PF a residual claim on power from the
electorate. Either way, Zimbabwe is at the crossroads."

A GNU is an arrangement that has often been used in post-conflict
situations to provide transition from an autocratic to a democratic
constitutional order.

The unity government is a construction that responds to a crisis that
a purely electoral system cannot resolve.

This type of government would not be unique to Zimbabwe. In South
Africa it formed an integral part of the post-apartheid governing
arrangement. Between April 1994 and February 1997 South Africa was governed
under the terms of an Interim Constitution whose Clause 88 required that any
party holding 20 or more seats in parliament could claim one or more cabinet
positions and enter the government.

This arrangement was deemed necessary given the political, social and
economic forces at play at the time. Sudan, Palestine, Lebanon and more
recently Kenya have put in place similar governments.

A TG refers to an arrangement where none of the contesting parties
elect to remain outside the state waiting for a new election.

This will call for a government comprising new faces who are not part
of the contest.

They will then form a government typically composed of technocrats
under an agreed framework and timetable to elections. The contesting parties
would then agree to contest in an election.

Last week, civil society in Zimbabwe met and agreed that the talks
should yield a TG born out of consultation with all stakeholders.

"We believe that a transitional government would provide an
appropriate vehicle for ushering in democratic reform," a statement from the
society said.

"The transitional authority would have a specific limited mandate to
oversee the drafting of a new, democratic and people-driven constitution and
the installation of a legitimate government."

The civics said they rejected the suggestion of a power-sharing
agreement that fails to address the inadequacy of the current constitutional
regime.

They demanded that the TG be headed by an individual who is not a
member of Zanu PF or MDC.

But Mawere argued that the civil society had no role to play in the
current talks saying the electorate had spoken on March 29.

"Three parties dominate the lower and upper house of parliament. They
can change the constitution because their legitimacy comes from the people,"
he said.

"The legitimacy of civil society is something that would require to be
tested. Unfortunately, there is no reliable mechanism for authenticating
non-state actors as many of them are motivated and driven by funders."

Mawere added that if the March 29 results reflected the will of the
people of Zimbabwe then it "cannot be wrong and just to engage the
leadership of the parties that came from a process that everyone has come to
accept as a largely true barometer for the change" agenda.

David Coltart, the legal affairs secretary of the Mutambara-led MDC,
said a GNU would be viewed with extreme scepticism by most Zimbabweans who
fear that it would draw in unscrupulous political leaders.

"The fear is that those leaders are then compromised and that they
will fail to deal with the fundamental problems facing Zimbabwe," Coltart
argued. "It is for this reason that a transitional authority should be
agreed to."

Coltart is of the view that civil society should play a crucial role
in some aspects of the TG.

"During the transition, civil society will have to play a major role
in certain aspects of the transitional authority's mandate, especially
regarding the process which should culminate in a new democratic
constitution," he suggested.

National Constitutional Assembly chairperson Lovemore Madhuku said the
negotiations for a political settlement were illegitimate because they
ignored key stakeholders.

"I think as civil society our reaction is very clear," Madhuku said.
"We believe that the approach taken by the political parties is
illegitimate. It is illegitimate because they believe that as political
parties on their own they have the responsibility to resolve the crisis and
they are excluding the rest of society generally, and not just civil
society."

He said the MoU was simply for a power-sharing arrangement.

"So if you just pick out the so-called agenda items you can be misled
into believing that there is going to be a serious discussion of the issues
there. There is no serious discussion," he argued.

"You cannot say that you have a new government, which is what the
subject matter is, and that the new government must look at the land
question and the issue of sanctions."

He said the land issue and sanctions were not related to the centre of
the country's problems - a governance crisis that must be resolved by
Zimbabweans "agreeing to reform our political system, followed by free and
fair elections and a legitimate government that has a clear mandate to
govern".

But in an open letter after signing the MoU, Tsvangirai said whatever
decision the negotiations would produce, Zimbabweans must endorse it.

"We must acknowledge that the outcome of these negotiations will not
be acceptable until it has been endorsed by Zimbabwean civil society, the
trade unions and the people themselves," wrote Tsvangirai.

"We are not here to form an elitist pact, but rather to represent the
hopes and aspirations of each citizen and every stakeholder. This is my
commitment to our partners who have struggled with us for a more democratic
form of government."

By Constantine Chimakure


Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Malign Joke Of Mbeki's Mediation In Zimbabwe

Zim Independent

Opinion
Thursday, 24 July 2008 17:20
TWO weeks ago, the Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC) and the
Africa Policy Institute released a report titled Saving Zimbabwe: An Agenda
for Democratic Peace.

Of all the claims made, the claim that earned the most extensive media
coverage was also the least well substantiated: evidence for the contention
that the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) was resorting to
violence appears to have been sourced from Zimbabwean state-owned media,
Robert Mugabe himself, Joint Operations Command members, police commissioner
Augustine Chihuri, and an unnamed Zimbabwean cabinet minister.

That a well-respected institution such as the HSRC thought to make so
serious an allegation based on input from such implausible sources was bad
enough, but it then issued a recommendation on the basis of such flimsily
supported claims: that members of the global community push for sanctions
targeting both Zanu PF and the MDC so that they desist from violence.

Surprisingly, the report's most important and best-sourced information
has thus far been overlooked. Given what seems almost unprecedented access
to sources in South Africa's presidency, foreign affairs department and
embassy in Zimbabwe, the report's authors are able to provide a detailed
exposition of the South African leadership's motivations in respect of their
mediation role and as influential neighbours.

According to the authors, "South Africa's transitional formula in
Zimbabwe has been to induce a re-engineering and transformation of Zanu PF
to put it in the hands of a moderate and avoid the "Chiluba factor" - the
decimation of a liberation party by a trade-union party like the MDC." It is
this motivation that led to support for Simba Makoni's candidacy in the
belief that he could spearhead a reformed Zanu PF party incorporating
certain elements of the political opposition, notably the Arthur
Mutambara-led faction of the MDC.

South Africa bet on a run-off scenario. But one that involved Makoni
and Mugabe and not, as it happened, MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai and Mugabe.
All this manoeuvring took place supposedly to leave Tsvangirai out in the
cold but Pretoria, say the authors, was taken aback by Makoni's dismal
results. Still it was not deterred, continuing to push for Makoni as a
central figure in a government of national unity well past the date on which
election results were known.

It would almost be funny -- bungled strategy predicated on bumbling
intelligence -- were it not so malign. How, if these are Mbeki's
motivations, confirmed by senior officials in relevant government
departments, can it then be fairly or sensibly insisted that the
Tsvangirai-led MDC be party to any continued mediation effort brokered by
Mbeki? The Tsvangirai-led MDC, recognising that Mbeki's efforts are often
driven less by support for Mugabe than revilement for itself, has called at
every turn for supplementation of the mediation effort.

Had a United Nations (UN) Security Council draft resolution not been
defeated two weeks ago, it would have allowed for the appointment of a UN
special representative to "support the negotiation process between the
political parties in Zimbabwe".

But South Africa was having none of it, leading off the debate in the
security council that preceded the vote. South Africa's UN ambassador,
Dumisani Kumalo, suggested that South Africa's hands were tied. It had no
choice but to vote against the draft, duty-bound as it was to uphold the
Southern African Development Community and African Union positions
safeguarding the mediation process -- as if South Africa had not exerted
every pressure in those self-same institutions to ensure that its mediation
remained the only game in town.

And so the MDC has found itself not only corralled into the very
process to which it has time and again raised objection, but is also refused
alternatives on the basis that such alternatives would compromise the flawed
process to which it objects. It is hard to imagine how Tsvangirai conducts
himself with any civility in Mbeki's company. But by all accounts he does:
when relations were at one of their lowest ebbs, Tsvangirai still met with
Mbeki in Harare, reportedly telling him that he was meeting with him not as
the mediator but as the democratically-elected head of the people of South
Africa.

If true, it is a courtesy Mbeki has been resolutely unwilling to
return to Tsvangirai or to the people of Zimbabwe. Now, however, with last
Friday's appointment of a reference group, there appears finally to be
recognition that a mediation effort brokered solely by Mbeki cannot yield
the unprejudiced process that is so desperately required.- Business Day.

*Fritz is the director of the Southern Africa Litigation Centre.


Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

China And Russia Blunder On Africa

Zim Independent

Opinion
Thursday, 24 July 2008 17:14
THE British representative to the United Nations calls it a missed
opportunity. The British foreign secretary describes it as incomprehensible.
The French ambassador to the UN told reporters that it was a failure.

They were reacting to the Chinese and Russian veto on July 11 of a UN
Security Council resolution to impose sanctions on Zimbabwe. The move would
have condemned the violence during the widely disputed re-election of
President Robert Mugabe, tightened a travel ban and assets-freeze on Mugabe
and 13 close associates, and supported mediation to resolve the country's
political crisis.

Even though the South African-mediated talks about talks between
Zimbabwe's ruling Zanu PF party and the opposition Movement for Democratic
Change have started afresh in the wake of the UN debacle, the pressure for
compromise has been relieved, at least temporarily, on the Mugabe regime.

While the UN veto may have satisfied the short-term political and
economic interests of Russia and China, the two countries may have made a
strategic blunder, setting Moscow and Beijing on a long-term collision
course with African electorates.

But, contrary to the statement by Foreign Secretary David Miliband of
Britain, the veto by the Chinese and Russians is as comprehensible as it is
disappointing.

While Beijing and Moscow may theoretically have voted against the UN
resolution in keeping with their own views of non-interference in the
domestic affairs of sovereign states, China and Russia are in effect
supporting their own narrow national self-interests.

This is really about their burgeoning interests in the mineral sector
in Africa, the last frontier of such opportunities in a voracious
marketplace.

Even though Beijing and Moscow may believe that the combination of big
infrastructure projects and support for Africa's political elites may
protect their investments on the continent, the last laugh may be at their
expense.

Given their own limitations when it comes to domestic political
freedoms, the leaders in Beijing and Moscow may not appreciate that the
battle to achieve democracy in Africa has been a hard-fought liberation
struggle, not something graciously handed to electorates by charitable
rulers. Foreigners who fail to bolster democratic freedoms may be accepted
by some African elites, but ultimately, they could be made to pay a price by
African electorates.

"China and Russia have stood with Mugabe against the people of
Zimbabwe," the US ambassador to the United Nations, Zalmay Khalilzad, fumed
after the vote, expressing an opinion that is likely to be shared by
Zimbabwean -- and other African -- voters. The situation in Zimbabwe today
could occur tomorrow in Congo, where there are growing concerns about how
Kinshasa is mortgaging long-term revenue to Chinese mining firms for
short-term gains.

Political change in Zimbabwe is as inevitable as it will likely be
increasingly painful. Mugabe may have been able to rig recent elections, but
he cannot rig the economy.

With inflation now at virtually immeasurable 2 million%, things can
only get worse. The ruling party's recent issuing of a 100-billion Zimbabwe
dollar note is a sign of how much damage has been done.

There is no hope of economic salvation without a legitimate
government, which is why a government of transitional unity as a precursor
to fresh elections is the only way for any meaningful negotiations to
proceed. Anything else, such as the attempts led by South Africa to create a
government of national unity comprising elements of Zanu PF and the
opposition will amount to nothing more than legitimating what the African
Union has condemned as an unfair election -- and that cannot be a formula
for reform and recovery.

In those circumstances, the opposition would be better off sitting out
the crisis as a government in exile, biding its time until the mediators
change their tune, or the economic reality takes over.

As for China and Russia, their UN veto reinforces the image that they
are no friends of the majority of Africans who today live in democracies.
Forget mooted boycotts of the Olympic Games.

The greatest sanction of all will be their rejection by 750 million
sub-Saharan Africans, those who, in the future, prefer not to accept the
costs of doing business with such outsiders.

*Mills heads the Johannesburg-based Brenthurst Foundation.


Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

MoU Has History-making Impact On Political Parties

Zim Independent

Opinion
Thursday, 24 July 2008 17:07
THE memorandum of understanding signed by Zanu PF, MDC Tsvangirai and
MDC Mutambara in Harare this week has been hailed in some quarters as
historic, and its "historicity" is tellingly in two parts.

The first being that it is a reflection of historical traits since our
national Independence in 1980, where we have witnessed two processes that
led to power sharing between belligerent political entities.

These two would be the Lancaster House Conference of 1979 in tandem
with a unity government of the first two years of Independence and the Zanu
PF/PF Zapu Unity Accord of 1987.

They were not identical in terms of content, or all of the issues
raised, but as indicators of Zimbabwean political culture, they are the
forebears of what we witnessed this week on July 21.

They indicate a general trait in which Zimbabwean political leaders
have followed a pattern of undertaking national political missions that have
caused tremendous suffering to the people and then either with claims of
having shown magnanimity or put a rival in a corner he/she couldn't get out
of, call for drawn out inter party negotiations.

In these two initial examples, there has been one common denominator,
Robert Mugabe and Zanu PF, who have always, sad to say, emerged with an
upper hand after protracted talks.

So the historic nature of the MoU can at first be understood from the
point of view of the fact that it has sort of been "done" before, and has
not yielded results that address the problems of good governance, democracy
and a people-centred national economy. It has, in the memories of many
Zimbabweans been about Mugabe and Zanu PF brokering power for their sole
benefit at the expense of the re-legitimisation of the Zimbabwean state.

The second perspective on the historical nature of the MoU resides in
the truth that the MDC Tsvangirai won the March 29 election with a sizeable
majority in the local government and presidential election ballot count,
whereas in previous Zimbabwean negotiated settlements, Zanu PF had always
been in the lead, especially in a context where an election had been held.

This means that, historically, the context of this sort of negotiating
between political parties is unique largely through the fact that Zanu PF is
on the backfoot, and is negotiating from a position of weakness.

It has fewer seats in parliament, and the presidential election
run-off of June 27 has been discredited by influential countries in both the
world as well as in Africa.

The presence of a Sadc mediator has also made this MoU significant
from the manner in which other eventually negotiated settlements have come
to being.

Never in the history of independent Zimbabwe, has the direct
involvement of the regional, continental and international community been so
apparent, and with full engagement of the United Nations as well as the
African Union.

Be that as it may, why then would there be a mixture of both hope and
scepticism on the part of Zimbabwean citizens around July 21?

The answers reside mainly in the fact that the MoU and its
declarations of secrecy draw parallels with closeted power-sharing
agreements that suit more political expediency than democratic change.

There is no doubt and perhaps even understandably so that the
political leaders that are involved in these negotiations will be feeling a
sense of entitlement about this secrecy, as was the case with Constitutional
Amendment Number 18.

In addition, they might feel an urge to play out the politics of
negotiations in clear and unmitigated pursuit of power for its own sake
either to spite one side over the other or leverage themselves for eventual
total victory.

In this vein, it is imperative that the political leaders be made
conscious of the fact that Zimbabwe is not only in need of their sometimes
brilliant political acumen when it comes to political cakes or sharing the
spoils of a low scale mainly one sided war. In other words, this is not and
cannot be allowed to be another round of talks that are akin to previous
ones that merely sought to share power.

These post-March 29 election round of talks must be able to identify
what exactly have been the problems with the ones that have occurred before
and also be able to identify these as threefold.

In the first instance, the July 21 MoU cannot merely be a prelude to a
power sharing agreement fashioned along Kenya because this has been tried
before without producing a democratic dispensation.

In fact, the products of the Lancaster House Conference and the Unity
Accord missed out on the critical point that in both instances, Zimbabwe was
a society that had to grapple with a post conflict situation that needed to
be addressed at its roots, as opposed to a political party "sharing of
spoils" agreement. This partially explains why Zanu PF has always resorted
to violence as a campaign strategy, even after negotiated agreements, in
order to keep itself in power.

A second lesson that can be learnt from the past negotiated
settlements is that those that Zanu PF has negotiated with were essentially
being cornered into the negotiations in order to either end violence against
their supporters or ordinary citizens.

In this instance, while there has been an unacceptable loss of life,
the critical difference is that Zanu PF is on the losing side in terms of
the March 29 electoral results.

With this, the opportunity must not be lost and the people's verdict
must be vigilantly defended by all of the parties involved in the
negotiations.

A third and final lesson that can be drawn from history is that in the
past the input of civil society was minimal in the negotiated process.

In 2008, Zimbabwean civil society is ready and willing to input into
these processes with the Zimbabwe people's charter as its foundation stone.

This means, civil society must as of necessity be included in these
talks if mistakes of the past are to be avoided, and its input treated with
the respect due to an equal stakeholder.

If this is done, there will be no doubt that there will be a shift
from the narrative of past negotiated settlements, where the apolitical but
nationally important and comprehensive people's will was not taken into
cognisance.

There is now a critical need to ensure that if any negotiations do
take place, they must depart from the political culture of the past while at
the same time drawing lessons from it. To do this, they must include the
seemingly apolitical will and intentions of a people that are living in a
society that has seen four national violent conflicts unaccounted for, a
national economy that is incapacitated to heal itself, and a political
culture that has the nasty tendency of always seeking to repeat history.

Takura Zhangazha is Misa-Zimbabwe director.


Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Comment: Only One Way

Zim Independent

Comment
Thursday, 24 July 2008 18:21
HAVEN'T we been here before? "Talks about talks"; the search for a
"settlement";

the palpable need for legitimacy on the part of the incumbents; the
public media presenting dialogue as something the opposition seeks; the
diehards trying to keep the British and Americans out of the picture?

It all has a familiar ring about it. We need to remind ourselves this
is 2008, not 1978.

The difference being of course that after 15 years of sanctions,
isolation and civil war the country was in better shape than after eight
years of Zanu PF's sanctions, isolation and civil war.

Still we are treated to the rhetoric of exclusion. This is a uniquely
African exercise, we are told. The Europeans and Americans should not
interfere. But their help with balance-of-payments support and economic
recovery will not be resisted of course, just as their food programmes are
keeping thousands of Zimbabweans alive!

It is good to see the leaders in their memorandum of understanding
pledging themselves to putting "an end to polarisation, conflict and
intolerance". The parties agreed to refrain from using "abusive language
that may incite hostility, political intolerance and ethnic hatred".

Also welcome is a commitment to the rule of law and "the security of
persons and property".

Seeing is believing, they say. It will of course take more than the
proposed two weeks to change the habits of a lifetime. The state media
continues to abuse the government's critics, even claiming the victims of
militia brutality inflicted their own injuries.

This sort of mendacity cannot be allowed to persist if the
negotiations are to be taken seriously. The media needs to be able to report
fully and honestly on the nation's problems before any recovery can take
place.

The big gain of the past week has been the agreement of the UN and AU
to come to the table. Their monitoring of the situation on the ground as
part of a "reference group" will ensure that the perpetrators of violence
are correctly identified. But they cannot of course substitute for a
professional and non-partisan police force and armed forces command that the
country needs as a priority.

Commentators have identified discussion around the land and sanctions
issues as potentially problematic for both sides. This should not
necessarily be the case. All parties have said there can be no going back on
land reform, and we cannot see any reason why Zanu PF would resist a full
and professional audit of who got what in the chaos of the past eight years.
Future land reform cannot proceed on the basis of lawlessness.

As for sanctions, there is some expectation that the MDC can snap its
fingers and deliver significant changes to other countries' legislation. The
sanctions measures, fortified this week, were imposed in direct response to
electoral violence. Once the root cause is removed, so will the sanctions.
It really is that simple.

President Mugabe on Monday provided as an example of the two main
parties working together the legislative amendments made to Aippa, Posa and
the Electoral Act. But, it must be noted, the amendment to Posa did not
prevent nearly all opposition rallies being banned after March 29 while
journalists were arrested despite changes to Aippa.

Mugabe reversed changes to the Electoral Act as soon as they had been
passed.

Meanwhile, the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission ignored its own mandate
to ensure all parties were treated equally in terms of access to the media,
that news reporting in the public media was factually accurate and fair,
that political parties were accorded a right of reply to allegations made,
and that political parties that encouraged violence were not promoted.

What did the ZEC do to assure the public it was promoting conditions
conducive to free, fair and democratic elections? What transparency has
there been in the commission's relations with the public or the media? How
do they explain the five-week wait for an announcement of the presidential
poll result in April and May?

The run-off showed, if evidence were needed, that elections in
Zimbabwe desperately need an independent supervisory body. The same goes for
law enforcement and the judiciary.

A two-week conference isn't going to fix any of these glaring
shortcomings. What we need is a sea change in political culture. That will
only come with the passage of time and intense hard work. But what we can be
pleased about is that Zimbabwe's failings were exposed in such a way as to
induce a sense of horror by our neighbours and friends. They all at last saw
what needs to be done - and quickly. With the UN and AU involved and an
energised Thabo Mbeki, under siege at home, there can be no dragging of
heels.

There is now an international, regional and domestic consensus.

Above all Mugabe has met his Waterloo in the form of a collapsing
economy. The days of fist-waving are over. From here we can only go forward,
however carefully.


Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Candid Comment: Democracy Must Be Built On Truth

Zim Independent

Comment
Thursday, 24 July 2008 18:18
ZANU PF and the two MDC formations have signed the MoU to mark the
transition from "talks about talks" to substantive dialogue.

I note that the MoU, signed in Harare on Monday, is silent on the two
controversial election dates - March 29 and June 27. I assume it is a matter
temporarily shelved or "politically-settled". I hope it was done in good
faith in the interest of the people of Zimbabwe.

Yet that has not stopped the European Union from asserting its "right"
once again to pile sanctions on Zimbabwe. This is not a small matter of 37
individuals. It goes to the heart of the inter-party talks to the extent
that sanctions and foreign interference are major items for the negotiators.
I can't see this act in any other light except as an attempt to scuttle the
talks. It reeks of a bitter aftermath of the failed UN Security Council
sanctions resolution of two weeks ago.

Unfortunately the sanctions put the MDC in an invidious position in
which the same sanctions which are supposed to further its cause are beyond
its power to determine when and how they are used, much less, when they must
be lifted. It's even more invidious when you consider that the people of
Zimbabwe, whose "sovereign will" these sanctions are suppose to enforce
post-March 29, have no say on their effect and impact.

This week I noted a dangerous twist in this fight to bring about
democracy in Zimbabwe. One respected writer went so far as to portray Russia
and China as the enemies of Zimbabwe for exercising their veto power to
block sanctions on Zimbabwe.

Greg Mills, who heads the Johannesburg-based Brenthurst Foundation,
accusing China and Russia of acting "in their own narrow national
interests", observed, evidently without any hint of irony: "Given their own
limitations when it comes to domestic political freedoms, the leaders in
Beijing and Moscow may not appreciate that the battle to achieve democracy
in Africa has been a hard-fought liberation struggle, not something
graciously handed to electorates by charitable rulers. Foreigners who fail
to bolster democratic freedoms may be accepted by some African elites, but
ultimately, they could be made to pay a price by African electorates."

Space doesn't allow me to indulge in the self-serving debate about who
is better between a black and a white oppressor because fire is fire
regardless of who ignites it. What I however found startling in Mills'
comments is the attempt to tell the world that the current fight in Zimbabwe
over so-called human rights is more important than the colonial liberation
struggle. We did not have independence "graciously handed" to us by a
benevolent colonial power. It was "a hard-fought liberation struggle"
supported in concrete material resources by China and Russia.

The reason why the current struggle is little understood out there is
because it has been reduced to the rhetoric of human rights completely
disentangled from fundamental property rights, in this case, land ownership
rights occasioned by colonial occupation dating from 1890. China and Russia
are clear on this, having played a decisive role in our struggle against
colonial occupation. That should explain why the MDC has also accepted that
the land reforms begun in 2000 are irreversible.

The West would help further our search for a peaceful political
settlement if it were prepared to countenance the fundamental causes of the
Zimbabwean crisis - land ownership. Even white commercial farmers in 2000
understood the nature of the war although this was in simplistic property
rights terminology which did not fully explain how some 4 500 whites ended
up with more than 60% of the most productive land if they did not unfairly
benefit from an iniquitous colonial racial political set up. That is why the
fight to try and preserve the status quo needed a political vehicle in the
form of a political party, and not straight resolution through the courts.

Another favourite myth, conveniently tied to human rights to show how
the land reforms were a criminal act, is the fact of Zimbabwe's fabulous
prosperity before the land reforms. I don't know how much ordinary
Zimbabweans enjoyed from the flourishing tourism industry. What I know is
that the mid-90s were a period of agony for a majority of black workers who
were being retrenched in the name of Esap while businesses complained that
local labour laws were too stringent and that they were not making enough
profit due to price controls.

An extension of that myth is that food shortages began with the
takeover of white commercial farms from 2000. The ugly truth is conveniently
forgotten that Zimbabwe's first major food riots since independence occurred
in January 1998. That was well before the disastrous adventure in the DRC
later in October. By that time production figures showed that at least 75%
of the staple maize came from semi-arid communal lands, leading to a
premature conclusion that peasants could automatically do better on
commercial farms subdivided into plots.

White commercial farmers at this time had gradually shifted their
focus from maize to more lucrative export crops such as cotton and tobacco,
and horticulture where prices were not controlled. It's true, foreign
currency receipts were fat, but food self-sufficiency was getting
precarious. Yet whites still had all the land, the title deeds and access to
bank loans.

My point is very simple. We cannot build an ending democracy on a
foundation of lies. To my friends and foes in Zanu PF and the MDC I have
said I shall not apologise for being different in how I perceive the truth.
I can only apologise for being factually wrong.

For all the goodwill, the MDC continues to disappoint me. Like in the
current "negotiations", I see the leadership has unilaterally opted for a
GNU. Read section 9 of the MoU on decisions of the parties. "Such decisions
or measures include, but are not limited to, the convening of parliament or
the formation of a new government," it says. The temptation was too
seductive to resist! Whose "sovereign will" is it anyway?


Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Editor's Memo: Talks Offer Grand Opportunity For Peaceful Cohabitation

Zim Independent

Comment
Thursday, 24 July 2008 17:38
WHEN Morgan Tsvangirai and Robert Mugabe shook hands on Monday (my
birthday by the way) many bloodthirsty and retributive cadres should have
felt disempowered and utterly defeated by this single act of "togetherness"
which we oftentimes take for granted.

The historic meeting between the people that many always want to
regard as eternal enemies should remind us of attributes that have over the
years been eroded by extended periods of senseless retribution and hate:
honour and dignity. Since the announcement of election results in March, the
nation has been put on a retributive footing to erase shame from the faces
of the vanquished. Those who perpetrated terror in the period in between the
polls were guided by an evil need to restore self-worth which they felt had
been peeled off through defeat at the polls. This profoundly affected their
sense of value towards another's worthiness to exist.

We live in a society where our leaders have taught us that failure,
setbacks and defeats create shameful persona that can only be restored to
dignity through ferocity and drastic measures. The demand for restoration
rules out compromise, negotiation or trading. It requires extraordinary
measures. It is above legal statutes. It is a matter of life and death. What
is important is the need to regain one's honour through retribution and
retaliatory shaming of the opponent.

This spirit resonates in many aspects of our lives today. It guides
the ways relatives relate to each other in families and communities. We are
out to fix opponents, teach someone a lesson or embarrass those we consider
to be arrogant. Our rulers use the threatening language of war, retribution,
revenge and terror in announcing and enforcing policy. Ask any banker who
the source of their terror is?

It is not surprising therefore after the first round of polling in
March that our rulers put economic recovery, national healing and social
progress on the back burner in pursuit of regaining honour which was under
threat from Bush and Brown. Those that killed and maimed were being implored
by their leaders to do it in the name of restoring honour.

An MDC supporter renouncing support for the opposition, was considered
a measure of lost honour regained. The sight of bodies writhing in pain from
torture and assaults derived the same satisfaction to some perverts. In one
visit to a rural area, youths were being mobilised in readiness for war to
defend the country against an opponent who did not exist. The terror was
done in the name of honour.

In backward rural communities in Pakistan attacks, known as honour
crimes -- especially on young women committed in response to a perceived
slight on a family's honour -- are common. When the perceived honour of our
ruling elite was "slurred" by an electoral setback in March, the violence
that ensued was all in the name of restoring honour. As a nation we have
lost dignity and respect that comes with universally acceptable norms of
behaviour.

We have developed a dark side which promotes the notion that we have
irreconcilable differences hence our inability to settle conflicts in a
constructive way. We are quick to look for those that might be guilty and
those who are to blame.

We can look at the abrasive wars between business and government,
between civic society and government, between workers and the government.
Attempts to bridge the divide have been dominated by adversarial tendencies
in which protagonists find it difficult to come out of entrenched positions.
This is dishonourable behaviour. We have contributed immensely to our demise
because we believe in winning -- even in wars fought for wrong causes. Our
rulers have expended lots of energy on negativity because they believe this
wins them honour. It is not surprising therefore that they have no clue on
how to solve the problems of inflation, low capacity utilisation in industry
and on the land, electricity and water shortages and human resource flight.

Resultantly, we have become a very poor country and with it our
dignity has become threadbare. How many dishonourable things are we doing in
order to get by? In fact dishonourable behaviour has become the mode of
doing things in business, government and in families. A dishonest and
crooked husband is most likely going to be a mendacious manager at the
office! Can someone prove me wrong on this one?

The handshake between Tsvangirai and Mugabe on Monday should not just
bring with it political settlement for the politicians but should usher a
process for us to work towards regaining our fast-waning dignity which have
seen us celebrating failure as success.

This country requires serious restoration of honour at all levels to
move forward. We need that greater dignity to develop personal management so
that we shine more light on the dark side of our lives. There are others who
will always work to increase the darkness. I am not talking about Zesa here,
but those who were angered by the handshake on Monday. But to me that's what
honourable men do. They shake hands for a cause.


Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Erich Bloch:Endless Economic Implosion

Zim Independent

Comment
Thursday, 24 July 2008 17:10
GOVERNMENT'S unceasing recourse to one economic destruction measure
after another belatedly forces an inevitable conclusion that, albeit for
some inexplicable motive, it is resolutely determined to destroy the
Zimbabwean economy in its entirety.

No one can be that stupid as to resort to one catastrophic economic
policy after another to the extent that the Zimbabwean Government has done
over the last 11 years, unless it is with the deliberate intent to achieve a
total implosion of the entirety of the economy.

With actions ranging from extreme profligacy, governmental spending
being continuously at astronomic levels beyond the nation's means, to the
destruction of agriculture which was the foundation of a resilient and
growing economy, or the constantly intensifying regulation of the economic,
stifling not only growth, but continuance of business, Government has
steadfastly and progressively emaciated the economy.

Growth

Whether it was the alienation of a once friendly and highly supportive
international community, to the demolition of an investment conducive and
welcoming environment, Government has constructed every conceivable obstacle
and hurdle to economic development and growth.

Whether it was not only the total failure to contain corruption, but
instead impliedly to condone it (save if an opportunity to oppress political
opponents), or a pronounced disregard for human and property rights and the
fundamental precepts of law and order, Government has unhesitatingly done so
to its own ends and to the prejudice of the populace, and of the economy in
particular.

*Constantly the population as a whole, other than the favoured few,
and the world at large, has anticipated that eventually government would be
healed of its economic myopia, and would see the error of its ways, working
vigorously to repair the damage it has done, and to develop the economy that
Zimbabwe could have, and that it deserves. But that hope has proven to be
devoid of any foundation or substance.

Instead, the foolhardy, implosive actions not only continue unabated,
but at an exponentially intensifying pace.

*Last Week government demonstrated yet again that either it is
oblivious to realities, or that it is so drunk with its belief in its
unbounded omnipotence, that it inserted yet further nails into Zimbabwe's
economic coffin (There may be scarcities of maize meal, bread, flour, sugar,
salt, cooking oil, soap and detergents, candles and matches, electricity,
petroleum, medications, and much, much more, but government never seems to
run out of nails to drive into that coffin!).

It announced yet another extension of the term of the National Incomes
and Pricing Commission (NIPC), completely ignoring the irrefutable proof of
the absolute failure of price controls to curb inflation.

After more than a year, inflation has soared to a world record 9,2
million per cent!

All that price controls have achieved were to create scarcities, for
businesses cannot survive without profits.

Unemployment

Instead, virtually the only source of essential commodities has been
in the black market, at prices very markedly greater than would have been
the case if available in the formal sector at market-force driven prices.

Concurrently, many businesses were forced to cease operations, whilst
others had to downsize considerably.

The resultant was further massive unemployment, and severe contraction
of the economy.

But Government is unwilling to recognise the facts, and instead
constantly accuses the business sector of profiteering and exploiting the
embattled populace, and threatens dire actions against alleged profiteers.
(If the price escalations are machiavellian profiteering actions, presumably
the first of government's dire actions of retribution will be against its
own Ministry of Home Affairs, which has raised the charge for passports to
$1 trillion, and then against the State-controlled media, newspaper prices
having risen over 10 weeks from $2 billion to $80 billion!

Thereafter government will undoubtedly focus upon its
telecommunication services for their imposing equally great price increases,
upon its health services for their increases in charges, and upon many other
parastatals and other government departments.

Shame on them for profiteering and for so grievously afflicting the
already sufferingpopulation)!

*Concurrently, last week, government announced that it had completed a
"preliminary audit" which had identified that there were more than 400
companies in Zimbabwe with British shareholders, and over 300 other
companies with shareholders in other European Union countries, and that in
the event that threatened sanctions against Zimbabwe include mandatory
disinvestment from those companies, government will immediately take over
those shareholdings, either for facilitation of its Indigenisation and
Economic Empowerment policies, or to sell to investors from "friendly
countries".

Immediate freeze

Not only is the statement devoid of any comment as to the basis, terms
and conditions on which government will "take-over" the investments, but in
addition it has undoubtedly motivated each and every one of those companies
to put an immediate freeze on any further investment, development or
expansion, and deterred the foreign shareholders from providing any lines of
credit or other foreign currency support to their Zimbabwean companies.

Moreover, coming in succession after the mass and, in many instances,
most unjust expropriation of farms, and the threatened expropriation under
the Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment Act of other companies, this
action sends yet another message to potential investors the world over that
Zimbabwe cannot be trusted to respect
property rights and that, therefore,
Zimbabwe is not an acceptable investment destination.

The harm that government causes the economy through its dogmatic and
obdurate contempt for the fundamental principles of economics, and its
increasingly great disregard for justice and for international norms of
integrity in business, and by its petulant and juvenile reactions to the
statements and actions of those that it perceives to be Zimbabwe's enemies,
is achieving naught but ever-greater stress, suffering, malnutrition,
homelessness and distress to the very people that government is supposed to
care for and serve.

It is also triggering an ever-greater exodus of Zimbabweans to other
countries, depriving the country of the very skills needed to achieve
recovery and wellbeing.


Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Muckraker: General, People Know Who Hit Them

Zim Independent

Comment
Thursday, 24 July 2008 16:58
TWO fascinating insights to the regime's frailties were evident on the
Herald's front page on Monday.

Firstly we had the revealing quote from army commander
Lieutenant-General Philip Sibanda saying the president's detractors were
"wondering what had hit them" in the June 27 run-off.

Most people know perfectly well who "hit" them, General.

And then we had Patrick Chinamasa saying Morgan Tsvangirai "should
listen to the people of Zimbabwe who want peace and stability so that we can
focus on economic recovery".

So why can't Zanu PF deliver recovery as they promised in full-page
adverts prior to the run-off? And who is blocking peace and stability? It is
not Zanu PF activists who are still being abducted and murdered.

Sibanda thanked the security forces and the nation at large for
"standing solidly behind our candidate".

This is the partisan stance we had all safely assumed. But it is
useful to have it on the record so that restoration of professionalism in
the armed forces is top of the agenda in the forthcoming talks.

The country's detractors were doing everything possible to overturn
the people's will, Sibanda declared.

Isn't that what happened after March 29? Wasn't there a systematic
campaign to overturn the people's will? Isn't that why the UN and AU are now
involved in ensuring the people's will is respected? What would they be
doing here if the people's will had already been respected?

There appears to be a degree of cognitive dissonance here!

Chinamasa's reference to the need for economic stability is
intriguing. This came just as the government announced it would use the
Indigenisation and Empowerment Act to "audit" British companies with a view
to distributing them to Zanu PF cronies.

British investors have interests in some 499 companies, the Sunday
Mail told us. "Friendly countries" would be approached to take control, a
"source" said.

The story later reveals that of the 499 companies, British nationals
have interests in 134 in which locals have majority shareholdings. Others
are jointly owned.

What the story doesn't say is that over the past 10 years British
investors have been leaving the country in droves for the very simply reason
this is no place to do business.

There are now only an estimated 60 British companies left.

The "source" in the Hate Mail's sinister story seems to think there
will be a rush by Chinese and Indians to take up the slack. What he doesn't
understand is companies from those countries usually look to first see what
the investment climate is like before leaping in. They speak to other
investors, particularly well-established ones. Once they discover they will
be mugged of a 51% share of their ownership by an avaricious political class
they move along to more fertile ground in South Africa, Botswana and
Mauritius.

Zanu PF likes to think it is punishing the British for threatening to
pull out. But it is the people of Zimbabwe who end up punished by the
scorched earth policies of Zimbabwe's rulers.

A good example is "people's shops" where the state sources commodities
from South Africa and then sells them for a fixed price to ruling-party
supporters.

This distorts the economy by importing goods and selling them well
below the cost of production locally. As a result companies go to the wall.

This produces an artificial economy that is designed to impress local
consumers. But at the same time it compounds inflation and unemployment.
Very simply, it is not sustainable. But economically illiterate policies of
this sort will persist so long as Mugabe's acolytes are in charge.

This perhaps explains why the focus of the inter-party talks will be
on the impossibility of recovery so long as Zanu PF is free to damage the
economy at will and blame sanctions.

The MDC has said it wants to see an end to militia gangsterism and the
release of political prisoners before serious talks can get under way. This
is not an unreasonable demand. Those prisoners are being held as hostages.
There can be no political settlement so long as abductions and arrests
persist.

But from our point of view there is an equally important demand that
needs to be met. That is to stop the abuse of state newspapers and ZBC by
ruling party supporters to rubbish the opposition and pursue a dishonest
agenda of blaming the British and Americans for Zimbabwe's predicament.

Last Thursday night ZTV screened a programme suggesting Morgan
Tsvangirai was a police spy in the late 1970s. It was a nasty defamatory
piece of journalism for which its author, Tazzen Mandizvidza, should be held
to account. None of Tsvangirai's accusers were named, nor were their faces
shown. It was a disgracefully unprofessional product.

And despite Zanu PF's pro-claimed need for a political settlement,
poison pen writers in the government media continue to contaminate the
political climate by vilifying the opposition and civil socirty.

Many of these columnists are foreigners pursuing their own
anti-American agenda.

Yet we expect the US and Britain to come to Zimbabwe's rescue once the
talks mature!

The public media needs to revert to public ownership - meaning a
diversity of views should be heard. As it is, the public interest is not
being served; in fact it is being betrayed.

We had for instance Tafataona Mahoso on Sunday telling us why the AU
is not a true successor to the OAU. The OAU legitimised the election of
liberation movements, he contended. "Subsequent elections are valuable since
they serve to confirm the legitimacy of the same movement and its leadership
to generations who were not grown up in 1980."

So that's what democracy is about? Confirming the rule of those who
are already in power! And what if those comrades have transformed the
country into their private property, wrecked the economy and driven millions
of citizens into exile? What do we do then - confirm them in power for
another term?

These delinquent views on elections appear every day in the state
media. Essentially they argue that it doesn't matter what people think or
how bad governance has become, the liberation movements must never be
removed. Isn't that the perverse verdict of June 27?

The AU has turned these liberation-movement values upside down, Mahoso
complains as he rubbishes "mere dialogue".

Watch the rearguard action in the weeks ahead from these Stalinist
die-hards who fail to understand that liberation-movements-gone-rotten need
to be evicted.

In this context Muckraker has been following the agitation by
residents of a Durban township who want Mugabe Rd in their neighbourhood
changed back to its old name of Umlazi St.

"Last week angry Umlazi residents demanded that the name Robert Mugabe
be removed from the street in AA Section because they felt the Zimbabwean
leader was not a good role model for their children," the Sowetan reports.
"They accused Mugabe of unleashing a terror campaign on Zimbabweans.

One of the residents, Zandile Mntatmbo, said the name should be
removed as part of demonstrating that South Africans truly believe in
democracy and government with integrity."

The eThekwini municipality said the residents were free to make the
change after consulting their councillor.

No doubt Mahoso would feel the views of the locals were inadmissible.
When the people disappoint like this they need to be reconstituted so they
think again.

What have the following outfits got in common? The Zimbabwe Tourism
Authority, Noczim, GMB, Zupco, Zimbabwe Newspapers, Air Zimbabwe, the
Ministry of Defence and CMED. Well, apart from providing sheltered
employment for the ruling party's more challenged members, they placed
slavish adverts in the Herald congratulating Mugabe on his "landslide
victory". In fact the word "landslide" appeared in nearly all the ads and
appears to have been prescribed to them.

Meanwhile, so desperate was the Herald for editorial copy to accompany
these fawning adverts, it had to regurgitate some of the official brochures
put out ahead of the run-off.

Media pundits and political detractors had been "competing to dispirit
Zimbabweans through negative propaganda" since the March 29 elections, we
were told.

"Some people were misled into believing that Zanu PF had become
unpopular and made President Mugabe unelectable while Morgan Tsvangirai and
his foreign-funded and foreign-driven MDC had become so popular as to be
unbeatable."

There was no truth to these claims, we were assured.

Following the March poll, the MDC did not "hide its sinister agenda
against ordinary Zimbabweans" who were now legally resettled on farms,
according to the ruling party's public relations machine. "It would be too
much and downright irresponsible for anyone to expect President Mugabe to
hand over such a situation to a successor and even worse to hand over to
Tsvangirai and his MDC which is controlled and manipulated by the very same
hostile interests that are behind the current suffering of the majority of
Zimbabweans."

So that is how it goes: Reference is made to whites returning to
reclaim their farms in a document now widely seen as fake and referred to by
a judge as fictitious. This falsehood then becomes the basis for Mugabe
refusing to hand over power if he lost the pending election. It also became
the basis for the arrest and incarceration of Tendai Biti.

Then there is the dishonest little claim at the end suggesting that
the "same hostile interests are behind the current suffering of the majority
of Zimbabweans".

In other words crashing agricultural production, inflation of 9 000
000% and widespread hunger have nothing to so with the policies of President
Mugabe. How convenient!

Very few African leaders have spoken out in support of President
Mugabe in the wake of the stolen June poll. Most have confined themselves to
calling for dialogue. But a notable exception has been President Omar Bongo
of Gabon.

Bongo, it will be recalled, provided landing facilities for Rhodesian
sanctions-busting flights in the 1970s and never cared particularly what the
OAU had to say. He
spent more time in France than in Gabon according to some accounts,
with an acute taste for the good life.

Now we have the following disclosure from the London Sunday Times.

"A mansion worth 15 million in one of Paris's most elegant districts
has become the latest of 33 luxury properties bought in France by President
Omar Bongo Ondimba of Gabon, the world's longest-serving leader, and his
family, it was alleged last week.

"According to files seen by the Sunday Times, a French judicial
investigation has discovered that Bongo (72) and his relatives also bought a
fleet of limousines, including a 308 823 Maybach for his wife, Edith (44).
Payment for some of the cars was taken directly from the treasury of Gabon,
a country rich in oil.

"Bongo, who started his career as a postal worker, has ruled for 40
years and has become one of wealthiest leaders in the world while 30% of his
people eke out a living on less than 50p a day."

And this is Zimbabwe's new best friend!


Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Zim Independent Letters

Governor Gono Should Just Quit!
Letters
Thursday, 24 July 2008 17:36
ALLOW me to use your paper to demonstrate to your readership the folly
of RBZ policy regarding cash withdrawal limits.

While the reason given for the limits has been to contain inflation
there are serious double standards in this policy.

The lack of cash has created a society that charges for goods in rands
and US dollars in direct contravention of the law. For one to buy something
for cash or RTGS implies a multiplication of the cash price. We now have an
RTGS exchange rate that is four times higher than cash, and so for each RTGS
transaction, there is a 400% spot inflation rate.

I do not think the current governor has even an iota of understanding
of what his actual job is. The man reports to himself and unfortunately our
government actually seems to think that Gono knows what he is doing -- which
he clearly does not.

All you need to do is listen to his highly superfluous speeches with
zero substance. And all I can do is quote Oliver Cromwell: "You have sat too
long for any good you have been doing. Depart, I say, and let us have done
with you. In the name of God, go!"

David King,

divajking@hotmail.com

--------------
MDC/Zanu PF Must Address Land Problems First
Letters
Thursday, 24 July 2008 17:33
NOW that the major political parties have decided to bury the hatchet
and talk face to face to find a way out of the political and economic logjam
that has been with us for nearly a decade, it is time to revisit important
issues such as the constitution, economic and social development,
nationalism and other related policies and strategies.

I would like to focus mainly on the economy as a pivot for all
development paying
particular attention to the land question.

We have heard, from Zanu PF that "Land is the economy and the economy
is land". This is the fervent rhetoric that has underpinned their
nationalistic ideology but unfortunately the rhetoric has so far not been
matched with action. Zimbabweans need more than empty words to fill their
stomachs. They need a functional economy which guarantees them a meal on the
table at the end of the day, guarantees them that their savings will not be
eroded by rampant inflation, that they can send their children to school.
These are basic needs which should not be negotiable in any political
settlement. A political party which fails to deliver this should not expect
voter sympathy at all but that's a debate for another day.

In delivering this basic economic guarantee, land plays a crucial role
but it is not the only necessary concomitant for successful delivery. It is
part of a synergy of economic fundamentals which in today's financial world
is underpinned by a robust service delivery system including financial
services.

It is the understanding of the inter-relationship of the means of
production and factors of production and how best we can let the market
forces underpin this interaction that we have been found wanting. How then
can we go forward and harness land as a crucial part of the economic
bandwagon? The first port of call is obviously an assessment of the status
quo and then improve or change it where appropriate.

It is nave to think that we could go back to the pre-2000 farm
invasion arrangement as it was unfair, unjust and not in the best interest
of long-term development, and I am afraid neither is the current structure,
albeit with more "farmers" than before. For starters we do not know exactly
how many people have been resettled, where, who holds what and on what
terms. There are stories of multiple farm owners, land which has gone fallow
for a number of years and plenty which is under-utilised for one reason or
another.

Even after the resettlement, there are many who still feel left out of
the process, a process which many feel was driven by partisanship, than by
need/want, means and ability to farm. It is this crucial "want, means and
ability to farm" test which the government blatantly ignored when it
embarked on the land reform in 2000.

The first question will be therefore how do you ensure a fair and
equitable distribution without reversing what has been achieved so far?
Concurrent with an audit of current ownership and available land it will be
in the national interest to demarcate all land not surveyed before into
title holdings with all the titles in the name of the state in resettled
areas. Titles should also be extended to the communal areas demarcating land
into indivisible titles that will prevent further sub-division of plots into
sub-economic holdings. The next step will be to transfer titles in
resettlement areas to individuals in a way that creates value for land. It
is this value creation which is essential in underpinning any economic
activity on this land.

The only way is to affix a price to any holdings which the individual
farmer has to pay to acquire the title deeds that will give him full
ownership. Those who can pay cash should be free to do so and those who
cannot should have access to mortgages or long-term transferable leases.
Existing occupiers will automatically have the right of first offers.

Making people buy whatever they aspire to own not only creates value
for whatever is bought, and forces the holder to utilise the land to earn an
income that justifies the initial purchase cost but also ensures a measure
of equity for millions who feel left out of the resettlement process.
Obviously land is a finite resource and not everyone can successfully be
resettled unless we want to turn the whole country into small, unproductive,
sub-optimal holdings. I am sure the benefits of having title deeds are well
documented and there is no point in regurgitating them.

Farai Maponga,

fatso_maponga@yahoo.co.uk

--------------
The Church Has Let Us Down
Letters
Thursday, 24 July 2008 17:31
IN every society, it's the norm that the first people to condemn evil,
sin and social, economic and political injustices are the "shepherds" or the
God-fearing persons who have been called by a greater calling to serve and
look after God's flock.

This hasn't been the situation in Zimbabwe with many of the pastors
and other men of the cloth of different religions and denominations.
Throughout history it has been religious leaders and ordained pastors who
have championed the cause of the people. Individuals such as Martin Luther
King in America, Mahatma Gandhi in India and in apartheid South Africa,
Desmond Tutu.

I have always believed and, l think a lot of other people share the
same sentiments, that these people have the hand of the Almighty on them.
They are just and fair and determined to see that their flock gets what is
right, be it democratic rights, or other issues.

But in Zimbabwe, they have just been telling people to turn to God and
their economic and political injustices and tribulations will be solved,
avoiding the direct confrontation with the leaders causing the suffering of
their flock.

Those who tried had shortcomings; most of them were partial or not
bold enough to call a spade a spade and used the excuse that the religious
principles don't allow them to be involved in political issues. Which I
think is a hypocritical justification, because when John the Baptist was
with the soldiers and taxmen who used to cheat the masses he spoke to them
on sin and social injustices saying it was wrong and they should change
their ways, were those not political issues he involved himself in? The
Bible book of Luke 3:10-15: "What should we do then?" the crowd asked. John
answered: "The man with two tunics should share with him who has none, and
the one who has food should do the same." Tax collectors also came to be
baptised. "Teacher," they asked, "what should we do?'' "Don't collect any
more than you are required to," he told them. Then some soldiers asked him:
"And what should we do?" He replied: "Don't extort money and don't accuse
people falsely - be content with your pay." The people were waiting
expectantly and were all wondering in their hearts if John might possibly be
the Christ.

I truly believe if these men of God in Zimbabwe had boldly voiced the
economic and social hardships which the people were facing and the recent
political violence, their voices would have been heard by the concerned
parties. But their religious convictions leave a lot to be desired. Where
were the true shepherds when soldiers and the militia were harrasing people?
Where are they now when people go for days without food in Zimbabwe?

If you are a shepherd in Zimbabwe, I think you have to examine
yourself and ask yourself: Is shepherding not a holistic approach where it
involves spiritual, social and physical aspects of your flock? What true
shepherd are you when your flock is being attacked by wolves and you don't
use your rod and staff to protect them? How do you give them the spiritual
bread and not provide for their physical needs?

Most of the shepherds in Zimbabwe will have a number of questions to
answer to God concerning the Zimbabwean flock.

Collen Ngundu,

collenngundu@cooltoad.com

Back to the Top
Back to Index