Thursday, 04 June 2009 21:52
THE United States Congress has started hearings on the removal of
sanctions imposed on Zimbabwe in 2001 over political repression and a series
of policy disputes.
This comes as Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai prepares to visit
Europe and the US to lobby for funding for economic recovery and lifting of
Tsvangirai, who has called for the removal of the "restrictive
measures", is expected to meet senior European Union (EU) leaders and US
President Barack Obama during his visit this month. He is also expected to
meet British Prime Minister Gordon Brown. Finance minister Tendai Biti this
week called for the lifting of the sanctions by the West. Biti will next
week address the World Economic Forum in Cape Town, focusing on Zimbabwe's
After Biti's recent return from Washington and London, he told cabinet
that US officials had indicated that the Obama administration would provide
humanitarian assistance to Zimbabwe while Congressional hearings on
sanctions went on.
Zimbabwe has formed a ministerial team which is currently engaging the
EU on sanctions under Article 8 of the Cotonou Agreement, a pact between the
EU and African, Caribbean and Pacific group of states signed in 2000.
Article 8 dialogue encompasses a regular assessment of developments
concerning respect for human rights, the rule of law and governance.
Sources said hearings on the Zimbabwe Democracy and Economic Recovery
Act (Zidera) have now started in the US and this could lead to the partial
lifting of financial sanctions imposed under this law. It is said the US is
willing to remove economic sanctions, but not those targeted at President
Robert Mugabe and his cronies, or their companies.
Sources said US Congressman Donald Payne was in Zimbabwe last week and
held talks with Mugabe, Tsvangirai and deputy Prime Minister Arthur
Mutambara on sanctions, among other issues.
The sources said Payne, chairman of the sub-committee on Africa and
Global Health of the committee on Foreign Affairs and co-founder of the
Congressional Black Caucus, discussed possible ways sanctions could be
lifted or scaled down.
It is said the US is prepared at this stage to remove financial
restrictions on Zimbabwe so that it can provide the country with economic
At the moment Washington can only provide humanitarian assistance due
Sources said Obama could soon issue an executive order to deal with
the matter to enable the US to help out Zimbabwe. Tsvangirai is expected to
push for such action. Sources said Tsvangirai could be able to secure up to
US$700 million from the US during his forthcoming visit. He is also expected
to extract significant donations from the EU states. A multi-donor trust
fund has been formed to help Zimbabwe.
However, donors have set conditions around political and economic
reforms before they release any money. So far Zimbabwe has only been able to
secure just over US$1 billion. The country is looking for US$10 billion in
the next three years for economic recovery. Cabinet has approved the
commercialisation and privatisation of state companies in a bid to raise
funds for economic recovery.
Zimbabwe has appealed to Sadc countries to firm up on their pledges
for funding, while they step up their campaign to get sanctions lifted.
The US and EU sanctions have worsened Zimbabwe's economic crisis
triggered by government's unbudgeted expenditures, the DRC war, land
invasions as well as mismanagement and corruption.
Zidera was passed by the US Congress at the end of 2001. It was
introduced by Senators Bill Frist and Russ Feingold and was then sponsored
by Jesse Helms, Hillary Clinton, Joseph Biden and Frist himself. Senate
passed the Bill on August 1 and the House passed it on December 4. Former
president George Bush signed it into law on December 21.
Under Zidera, unless the US president gives an order, the Secretary of
the Treasury has to instruct the US executive directors in each
international financial institution to oppose giving Zimbabwe loans, credit
Zidera forbids the cancellation or reduction of the country's
indebtedness to Washington or any international financial institution which
includes multilateral development banks and the International Monetary Fund.
Multilateral development banks referred to include the International
Bank for Reconstruction and Development, International Development
Association, International Finance Corporation, Inter-American Development
Bank, the Asian Development Bank, the Inter-American Investment Corporation,
the African Development Bank, African Development Fund, European Bank for
Reconstruction and Development, and Multilateral Investment Guarantee
The Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency is important in
underwriting loans between governments.
BY DUMISANI MULEYA
Thursday, 04 June 2009 21:39
IN a desperate bid to raise funds to revive the comatose economy,
cabinet has approved a commercialisation and privatisation plan which will
take different forms as part of a rationalisation, reconstruction and
transformation agenda.The country needs close to US$10 billion to rivitalise
its battered economy and so far has received close to US$1 billion.
Minister of Finance Tendai Biti (pictured) told the Zimbabwe
Independent on Wednesday that government would access different state assets
and decide on the model which they will use either to commercialise or
"Cabinet has approved the process of commercialisation and
privatisation. This includes how it will be done, timing and objectives,"
Biti said the process had been divided into different categories and
classified state enterprises under each of the groups to ensure maximum
benefit for the country.
He said there are some high-value state companies which had huge
potential but need capitalisation and good management.
These categories include companies such as TelOne, POSB, power
stations, Zisco and National Railways of Zimbabwe.
He also said there are some strategic high-value enterprises which
however are seriously draining the fiscus such as Air Zimbabwe.
"These would need compre-hensive commercialisation and partnership
plans to be revived," Biti said.
Biti further said there are some strategic high-value state
enterprises which were currently dormant but had a potential if they could
be revived. These include companies such as the Cold Storage Company and
"Government should consider various options to revive and resuscitate
these companies," Biti said.
He indicated that some of the companies needed to be commercialised
and privatised at the opportune time to ensure government gets maximum
Biti said government was determined to ensure that com-mericlaisation
and privatisation plan succeed because it was an integral part of the
economic recovery programme Sterp. At the official launch of the 100-day
work plan for the inclusive government Economic Planning and Investment
Promotion minister Elton Mangoma said government would not embark on a
"wholesale" privatisation drive of undercapitalised public utilities.
"Our focus is not on wholesale privatisation," he said.
The minister said government would, however, "develop stra-tegies" to
ensure that "key parastatals" such as Zesa and the National Railways of
Zimbabwe operate efficiently.
According to the 100-day plan document, public sector reforms would
include civil service and Reserve Bank reforms and the Public Finance
Management System and the Results Based Management System. Steel
manufacturing company Zisco, according to the action plan document, would
complete relining of one of its blast furnaces in 90 days.
Zisco has over the years been a target of investors wishing to take
full control of the underutilised firm.
"There would be parastatals that require reforms...where there is
general agreement the public will know.
Selling assets at low prices does not bring any benefit either to the
country or anybody," Mangoma said.
BY PAUL NYAKAZEYA
Thursday, 04 June 2009 21:37
PARLIAMENT has no mandate to call for by-elections in vacant
Austin Zvoma, the clerk of parliament, said this on Wednesday in
reaction to claims made to the Zimbabwe Independent last week by the
Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) deputy chief elections officer, Utoile
Silaigwana, that the "role of calling for by-elections lies with parliament
and they have to notify us of the need to hold by-elections".
"These utterances do not reflect the correct legal position with
regard to the filling of vacancies in the membership of parliament," Zvoma
He said it was not the role of parliament to call for the by-elections
or to give ZEC a proclamation for the polls.
"The role of the presiding officers of parliament is limited to
notifying the commission and the president of vacancies. It is the president
who has the role, in terms of the (Electoral) Act, of publishing notices in
the Government Gazette ordering new elections," Zvoma said.
"Currently there are seven vacancies in the membership of parliament,
and both the ZEC and the president were notified of each of these vacancies
as they rose as required by Section 39(1) of the Electoral Act."
The vacant House of Assembly constituencies are Gokwe-Gumunyu (left
vacant after the death of a Zanu PF MP), Matobo North (vacant after
incumbent Lovemore Moyo was elected Speaker of the House of Assembly),
Guruve North (vacant after the death of Zanu PF lawmaker) and Bindura North
(resulting from the death of the Zanu PF legislator).
Vacant Senate seats are Chegutu (vacated by Edna Madzongwe on election
as Senate President), Chiredzi (vacated by Titus Maluleke on appointment as
provincial governor for Masvingo) and Gokwe South (vacated by Jaison Machaya
on appointment as provincial governor for Midlands). -- Staff Writer.
Thursday, 04 June 2009 21:37
HIGH Court Judge Bharat Patel yesterday postponed to today the case of
four freelance journalists challenging the legality of the Media and
Information Commission (MIC).
Patel postponed the matter after lawyers representing the
respondents --- Media, Information and Publicity minister Webster Shamu, the
ministry's permanent secretary George Charamba, MIC executive chairperson
Tafataona Mahoso and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai -- said they had
received court papers too late on Wednesday to get instructions from their
Shamu, Charamba and Tsvangirai were represented by the
Attorney-General's office, while Mercy Chizodza appeared for Mahoso.
The four freelance journalists, Stanley Gama, Valentine Maponga,
Stanley Kwenda and Jealous Mawarire, filed an urgent chamber application on
Wednesday arguing that the MIC was abolished in January 2008 after the
amendment to the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act
The journalists, through their lawyer Selby Hwacha, argued that the
MIC was null and void and had no legal basis to require them to register
with it to cover the ongoing Comesa Summit at Victoria Falls.
Last week, the MIC announced that journalists wishing to cover the
Comesa summit should register with it.
"Unless this honourable court intervenes urgently, applicants and the
general public will suffer irreparable harm," said Hwacha in the certificate
During yesterday's brief hearing, Justice Patel quizzed the counsel
for the respondents as to whether a postponement to today would serve any
purpose to the journalists given the urgency of the application and the fact
that the Comesa Summit had already commenced.
The judge also enquired whether the arguments for the respondents
would be legal or factual stating that the latter had no relevance to the
proceedings as the question was whether the statement published in the
Herald of June 2 regarding the status of the MIC was either correct or
incorrect at law.
He later ruled that the matter be postponed to today and be heard
without regard to whether or not the counsel for respondents would have
received instructions by then.
Meanwhile, Shamu and Charamba last week summoned state media editors
and instructed them to limit their coverage of Tsvangirai.
The editors were summoned to Shamu's office on Thursday and given a
tongue-lashing and warned that they should scale down on Tsvangirai's
coverage or face dismissal.
Editors summoned were those from the Sunday Mail, the Herald, the
Chronicle, the Sunday News, Kwayedza and the Zimbabwe Broadcasting
Media deputy minister Jameson Timba was not invited to the meeting
with the state editors.
Sources said Shamu and Charamba were livid over the positive stories
Tsvangirai and cabinet ministers from his party were getting in the state
media, especially on television.
"The two made it clear to the state editors that it was unacceptable
for them to cover Tsvangirai on a daily basis and ordered that the state
media should ignore his activities. Instead they were instructed to increase
coverage of activities by ministers from Zanu PF in the all-inclusive
government," said one of the sources.
The sources said Shamu and Charamba told the state editors that the
stories they carried implied that the success of the all-inclusive
government was only driven by the two MDCs and not Zanu PF.
Charamba is said to have warned the state editors to desist from
covering statements from the MDC ministers as policy.
Efforts to get comment from Shamu and Charamba were in vain last
BY NQOBILE BHEBHE AND LOUGHTY DUBE
Thursday, 04 June 2009 21:32
THE 25-member parliamentary select committee on the constitution will
from next Saturday embark on provincial public hearings on the crafting of a
new constitution amid reports that US$36 million is needed to bankroll the
Parliament's Standing Rules and Orders Committee this week approved
the US$36 million budget for the constitution-making process and forwarded
it to government, which is battling to mobilise financial aid to revive the
country's comatose economy. Donors have expressed interest in funding the
Co-chairpersons of the committee -- Paul Mangwana and Douglas
Mwonzora -- on Wednesday said it was the prerogative of government to source
the funds for the cumbersome process that would result in a new supreme law
for the country by September next year.
"As a select committee we have come up with a working budget for the
whole process and the Committee on Standing Rules and Orders has since
approved it," Mangwana said. "At present the draft budget is with the
government and it is yet to be approved."
According to the Global Political Agreement (GPA) signed last
September by President Robert Mugabe, Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and
Deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara, the select committee should convene
an "all-stakeholders" conference within three months after its appointment.
The public consultation process, the pact reads, should be completed
no later than four months after the stakeholders conference.
"The draft constitution shall be tabled within three months of
completion of the public consultation process to a second all-stakeholders
conference," reads the GPA.
"The draft constitution and the accompanying report shall be tabled
before parliament within one month of the second all-stakeholders
conference." The draft and the accompanying report would then be debated and
if necessary amended in parliament within one month, before it is gazetted
and a referendum conducted within three months.
Mangwana said the select committee had decided to embark on provincial
public hearings starting on June 13. The hearing would last 30 days.
Zimbabweans in the diaspora, he said, would be consulted through
embassies, but it would be subject to the availability of recourses. A
website would also be created for them to contribute their views.
The views gathered during the hearings would be tabled at the first
all-stakeholders conference in July to be attended by over 5 000 delegates
drawn from the country's 10 provinces.
Mangwana said the hearings would take place at ward level in the
country's 210 House of Assembly constituencies.
"On average each constituency has 10 wards and a minimum of three days
of consultations a ward would be set aside," he said. "This should provide
ample time to gather the people's views."
The views would be forwarded to thematic committees that would sift
through the data and come up with a draft constitution within three months,
which will be tabled before a second all-stakeholders conference.
The draft and the accompanying report would then be debated and if
necessary amended in parliament within one month, before it is gazetted and
a referendum conducted within three months.
In the event that the draft is approved in the referendum, it shall be
gazetted within a month of the date of the plebiscite and should be
introduced in parliament not later than a month after the expiration of a
period of 30 days from the date of the gazetting.
Asked on the relevance of the Kariba draft which is stated in the GPA
as a reference document, Mwonzora said it was "just like any other document
that has been submitted to us for consideration".
Mwonzora said the committee has since its appointment in April
received draft constitutions from the Margaret Dongo-led Front for Democracy
in Zimbabwe, the National Constitutional Assembly (NCA), MDC-T and Law
Earlier in the week, Constitutional and Parliamentary Affairs minister
Eric Matinenga had told journalists in the capital that when Mugabe said the
Kariba draft should be the basis for consultations "he was just expression
his opining which is not binding".
Mugabe recently told his Zanu PF politburo that the Kariba draft,
which leaves the powers of the president in tact, would be the basis of the
Mugabe wants the Kariba draft because it retains the executive
Section 78 of the secret Kariba draft says executive authority would
be vested in the president and cabinet which is similar to the current
Lancaster House constitution's Section 7 before the 19th amendment.
The president would remain the head of state and government, as well
as commander in chief of the defence forces.
Section 88 of the Kariba draft says there will be two vice president
but does not have a provision for a prime minister.
Zimbabwe is currently governed under the 1979 constitution agreed at
the Lancaster House talks in London.
The constitution has been amended 19 times since the country's
Independence in 1980.
An attempt to introduce a new constitution between 1999 and 2000
failed after the NCA and other civil society organisations, backed by a
nascent MDC, successfully campaigned against a government-sponsored draft.
A fierce political battle is expected when the draft goes to a
referendum, with the NCA and the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions having
already said they would campaign against it because it will not be a
However, Mwonzora was optimistic that the draft would get the nod of
Zimbabweans at a referendum.
"The difference between 1999 and 2009 is that we have an inclusive
government. We have a major political force which was in opposition, now in
government," he said.
BY NQOBILE BHEBHE
Thursday, 04 June 2009 21:29
MDC vice-president Gibson Sibanda has lost his ministerial post in the
inclusive government after failing to secure a parliamentary seat within
three months of his appointment to cabinet.
Plans by the three principals to the global political agreement -
President Robert Mugabe, Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and Deputy Prime
Minister Arthur Mutambara - to create a non-constituency seat either in the
House of Assembly or Senate for Sibanada hit a brickwall.
The former president of the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions was
appointed one of three Ministers of State for National Healing and
Reconciliation on the strength that he would find a constituency within
three months as stipulated in the constitution. The grace period lapsed on
Clerk of Parliament Austin Zvoma this week told the Zimbabwe
Independent that Sibanda was yet to become a legislator and that there was
no notice to indicate a vacancy he could fill.
"Sibanda is not a member of parliament and I have not been informed
that there is a vacancy in any of the two houses," Zvoma said. "For him to
be a member he has to secure a seat. Failure to secure a set might affect
his position as a minister since he has to secure one within three months of
The MDC exhausted the slots it had of appointing non-constituency
lawmakers when the inclusive government was formed.
Sibanda, however, still has a chance to bounce back into cabinet if
one of his party's MPs agrees to take up a gubernatorial or diplomatic post
in the coming months and allow him to contest for the vacant seat.
Sources within the MDC said the party was still weighing three options
The sources said one option would be for the party to appoint Mangwe
MP Edward Mkhosi as governor of Matabeleland South and give Sibanda an
opportunity to contest in that constituency.
The sources said the second option would see Insiza North MP Siyabonga
Malandu appointed a diplomat to make room for Sibanda.
Tsvangirai a fortnight ago announced that as part of the deal to solve
outstanding issues in the GPA, the three principals had agreed that out of
the five available diplomatic vacancies, the MDC-T would get four and the
The sources said the third option the MDC-M had was to appoint the
party's director of elections, Paul Themba Nyathi, as the governor of
Matabeleland South and fire one of the suspended MPs and allow Sibanda to
contest in the vacant constituency.
The suspended MPs are Abednico Bhebhe (Nkayi South), Njabuliso Mguni
(Lupane East), Norman Mpofu (Bulilima East), Maxwell Dube (Tsholotsho South)
and Thandeko Zinti Mkandla (Gwanda North).
"The party leadership is still weighing the options (but) all options
however are not safe as there is a chance Sibanda might not win if
challenged by an independent candidate," said one of the sources.
The source said the most viable option the party had was to appoint
Malandu as a diplomat and let Sibanda contest in his constituency.
The source said Sibanda was respected in Insiza South since he came
from the area.
MDC spokesperson Edwin Mushoriwa referred all questions pertaining to
Sibanda's case to the party's deputy secretary-general Priscilla
Misihairabwi-Mushonga who was not reachable for comment.
However, the sources said it will be catastrophic for the Mutambara
faction to fire the MPs it suspended for it risked losing the constituencies
to the same individuals if they stood as independents.
"This has been made clear to Mutambara that he risked losing some of
the seats the party has if he approved plans to fire the suspended MPs,"
said another source.
BY LOUGHTY DUBE
Thursday, 04 June 2009 21:23
THE high-profile trial of four of the 16 human rights and MDC-T
activists accused of plotting to destabilise the country and overthrow
President Robert Mugabe's government opens in the High Court on Monday.
MDC-T Mashonaland West women's assembly chairperson Concillia
Chinanzvavana, Zvimba South district chairperson Fidelis Chiramba, district
women assembly secretary Violet Mupfuranhewe, and district youth chairperson
Collen Mutemagau face charges of contravening provisions of the Criminal Law
(Codification and Reform) Act.
The four are part of 16 human rights and MDC-T activists who claimed
that they were abducted by state security agents between October and
December last year on allegations of banditry.
In the case of Chinanzvavana, Chiramba, Mupfuranhewe and Mutemagau,
the state alleges that between July and October 30 2008 in Banket, the four
acting in common purposes, unlawfully and intentionally recruited Tapera
Mupfuranhewe and other MDC-T youths to undergo military training in Botswana
"for the purpose of committing acts of insurgency, banditry, sabotage or
terrorism" in the country.
According to the summary of the state case, the accused "incited" the
youths to undergo the military training under a programme dubbed the
National Youth Symposium Training.
"The accused did this through mostly holding meetings at accused two
(Chiramba)'s house where a high turnout of people numbering to a hundred
would attend, and accused one (Chinanzvavana) would address these meetings
in the presence of all the other accused," read the summary.
At one of the meetings, the state alleges, Chinanzvavana said Mugabe
should be removed from power because he had contributed to "the hunger,
poverty and unemployment" people were experiencing.
"Amongst other people the accused managed to recruit one Tapera
Mapfuranhewe to undergo military training in Botswana. Interviews were
conducted at Harvest House's second floor", the summary of the case read.
"At the time Tapera Mupfuranhewe went for the interview there were a total
of 51 other interviewees of whom 48 were males and three were females. The
interview was conducted by a Ms Ncube and a Professor Malvern."
The state further alleges that the military training was conducted at
Okavango Training Camp in Botswana and "two of the instructors answered to
the names of Tole and Vusa".
The states would call seven witnesses, among them a senior Central
Intelligence Organisation officer, Asher Walter Tapfumaneyi, police Senior
Assistant Commissioner Simon Nyathi and Chief Superintendent Peter Magwenzi.
On June 29, the second case of alleged insurgency would be heard in
the same court.
Regis Mujeye, freelance journalist Shadreck Andrison Manyere, Prime
Minister Morgan Tsvangirai's former aide Gandhi Mudzingwa, MDC-T security
director Kisimusi Dhlamini and party members Zacharia Nkomo, Chinoto Zulu,
and Mapfumo Garutsa, would be facing five counts of twice bombing Harare
Central Police Station, Manyame River Bridge and Rail Bridge and Harare CID
headquarters at Morris Depot.
The last case would be tried in the High Court on July 20.
Manuel Chinanzvavana, Zimbabwe Peace Project director Jestina Mukoko,
Audrey Zimbudzana, Brodrick Takawira and Pieta Kaseke would stand trial on
allegations that between April 2008 and October 31 2008 they recruited
Ricardo Hwasheni to undergo military training in Botswana for purposes of
banditry in Zimbabwe.
Meanwhile, the full bench of the Supreme Court would on June 25 hear
the case of Mukoko and other political abductees in which they complain that
their constitutional rights were infringed by their alleged abduction last
year, lengthy unlawful detention, treatment during detention [including
torture] and the State's failure to take appropriate action against those
responsible while at the same time vigorously pursuing criminal charges
against the abductees.
The court would be asked to stop the prosecution of the abductees
until the case against their alleged kidnappers had been fully investigated
and prosecutions mounted against those responsible.
BY CONSTANTINE CHIMAKURE
Thursday, 04 June 2009 21:20
SHORTLY after taking to the podium, following hours of being showered
with praise in song and speeches, MDC-T leader Morgan Tsvangirai exercised
his authority when he ordered party members not clad in party regalia to do
so. In no time there was a sea of red T-shirts in the hall.
The venue was Andy Millar Hall at the Exhibition Park, Harare, where
over 500 delegates had crammed in to attend the party's ninth annual
Among some high-ranking party officials that were caught unawares by
Tsvangirai's instruction were party secretary of Defence and co-Home Affairs
minister Giles Mutsekwa, Science and Technology minister Heneri Dzinotyiweyi
and party policy secretary Eddie Cross.
Despite complying with the instruction, the party members saw this
gesture as an icebreaker by their party leader before officially opening the
Having had a turbulent relationship lately with civic organisations
and white commercial farmers who have propped up the MDC since its infancy,
party chairman Lovemore Moyo acknowledged the presence of Commercial Farmers
Union president Trevor Gifford and National Constitutional Assembly chairman
Although not present during the opening of the conference, the MDC-T
also welcomed former United Kingdom legislator Kate Hoey. For a party that
has lately exposed the simmering tension within the inclusive government,
Tsvangirai needed more friends than foes.
"The coming years will test our strength and friendship. They will
test our commitment to our ideals as the journey ahead will not be easy but
it is a journey that we must complete," he said.
"It is these ideals that tell me that a land reform programme must
empower the majority of Zimbabweans without victimising any of our citizens
and it must ensure food self-sufficiency. It cannot be based on racist
persecutions that leave productive land fallow and our people hungry."
After Tsvangirai's remarks, Gifford told the Zimbabwe Independent on
the sidelines of the conference that "two thirds of those (farmers) removed
from farms no longer wish to farm but require a dignified exit where full
compensation for losses and damages are paid according to international law".
At a tea break, delegates were provided with a breakfast served by a
local hotel. The quality of party regalia and the food served pointed to
substantial funds splashed on this annual meeting designed to provide a
reality check for the decade-old party.
Seemingly countering threats of discrediting the constitutional reform
process now in place following uproar among some civic society
organisations, Tsvangirai warned that not taking part in the reform exercise
could be self-destructive for some organisations.
"There is no point in emphasising the importance of process instead of
content at this strategic moment; this could be suicidal," Tsvangirai said.
A day after stating his position on the controversial
constitution-making process, the MDC-T softened its position in an attempt
to mend relations with civil society partners.
It declared in its resolutions: "Now therefore it is resolved that the
conference calls for the transitional government to take on board concerns
by the civic society on the process and ownership of the constitution-making
process initiated in the Global Political Agreement. The party shall
actively participate and mobilise actively in the constitution-making
process and further more shall work with civic society in reaching some
understanding on the process."
The September 15 power-sharing agreement tasks a 25-member
parliamentary team formed earlier this year to spearhead the reform exercise
against a backdrop of resistance from civic society organisations such as
the National Constitutional Assembly led by Madhuku.
"Concerned and frustrated" by delays by the new government to convene
a meeting of the new National Security Council, of which Tsvangirai would be
a member, the MDC-T conference demanded the transitional government "move
urgently" to ensure transformation of state institutions. The council
replaced the Ian Smith-initiated Joint Operations Command which was attended
by service chiefs.
The MDC-T leadership demanded the immediate resignation of central
bank chief Gideon Gono and Attorney-General Johannes Tomana in the "public
The dispute over the reappointment of the two has been referred to
regional mediators that brokered the power-sharing pact between Mugabe,
Tsvangirai and Arthur Mutambara of the MDC.
The MDC challenged government to urgently address the welfare of
victims of politically-motivated violence despite a lack of "legal framework
for the national healing" process.
"Noting the reference of GPA outstanding issues to Sadc, conference
calls for the immediate convening of an extraordinary summit of Sadc to
urgently deal with the outstanding issues," the party's resolutions read.
While MDC secretary-general Tendai Biti, backed by the party's top
leadership, was announcing the resolutions to the press, party supporters
were toyi-toying at the Glamis Stadium which is adjacent the hall.
Most of the supporters anticipated an update from Tsvangirai regarding
the inclusive government.
Unfortunately for them that was not to be.
A lunchtime rally that was scheduled after the two day conference was
BY BERNARD MPOFU
Thursday, 04 June 2009 21:14
PRESSURE groups continue to push for broader reforms in the country's
judiciary and penal system, which is saddled by a critical shortage of food,
and in many instances, resulting in inmates contracting and dying from
Today, a fund-raising function will take place in Harare to raise
funds for Chikurubi Maximum Security Prison inmates.
To deal with problems affecting the judiciary and the country's
prisons, the inclusive government under its 100-day plan has set out three
key areas for the Ministry of Justice and Legal Affairs - meeting the needs
of prisoners; operationalising the Judicial Service Commission; adhering to
minimum standards and best practices; and the needs of justice delivery
Zimbabwe Independent reporter Bernard Mpofu on Wednesday caught up
with Deputy Justice minister Jessie Majome at her Harare office to examine
the state of the country's judiciary and the penal system, among other
things. Below is the interview.
Mpofu: What happened to the judicial reforms government embarked on a
few years ago?
Majome: Several reforms were made through the Judicial Service Act a
few years ago. The Act would see the streamlining of the judicial system in
effecting a prudent separation of powers between arms of government. The Act
has not been operationalised to date and that has become one of our key
results areas in this inclusive government.
Once the Act is implemented we would see the magistracy being moved
from the Public Service Commission to the Judicial Service Commission.
Mpofu: Why has it taken so long to operationalise the Act?
Majome: Currently we are assessing the cost of implementing this Act.
This is an old Act that was passed when we were still dealing with the
Zimbabwean dollar, but that has since changed.
Mpofu: There was also the Attorney-General (AG)'s Bill. What became of
it and what reforms we envisaged in the draft law?
Majome: The AG's Bill reached a second reading in Parliament and then
lapsed. Its general objective was similar to the Judicial Service Act in
that it intended to achieve human resources and financial reforms.
Mpofu: A lot of questions have been asked on the autonomy of the AG's
office from political manipulation given that the office falls under the
Justice ministry and also that the AG sits in both cabinet and parliament.
What is your take on that?
Majome: The configuration of the role and functions of the Attorney-
General in this country is one of the most primitive compared to other
jurisdictions. Sometimes there is a conflict between the public duty of the
office and serving the national interest. It can be difficult to strike a
balance between being the government's chief legal advisor and being a
political appointee. The prosecuting function of that office brings that
conflict to the fore.
The AG sits in cabinet and how easy would it be for the same AG to
prosecute a fellow member of cabinet? I think the AG would be compromised.
In countries like Uganda and Canada, there is no AG, but in our case what
difference is there between the AG and the minister in terms of their
What we are seeing in Zimbabwe is a demonstration of failure to
adequately configure the AG's office in relation to other legal and
political functions in light of the public interest.
In other jurisdictions they recognised this conflict and create an
office of an independent prosecuting authority. This was not captured in the
Notwithstanding this, our Constitution (Section 76 subsection 7 and 8)
attempts to manage that conflict by stating that the AG's prosecuting
function shall be independent from the direction and control of any other
person and authority.
Mpofu: We understand that six inmates died last week at Mutimurefu
Prison in Masvingo. Can you confirm this and what is government doing to
address the dire situation in prisons throughout the country?
Majome: That has not been brought to my attention but we have high
rate of deaths in prisons. It is so high that three weeks ago we had 970. We
are certainly above 1 000 and that is unacceptable.
Government is seeking assistance because we have been failing to feed
and clothe inmates. The International Committee of the Red Cross has offered
assistance to our major prisons - Chikurubi, Harare Central and Khami
Unfortunately we expect the death rate to go up because of a drop in
temperatures because of shortages of clothing and blankets.
Mpofu: How many people are incarcerated at the moment?
Majome: Presently we have 14 500 inmates across the country. Our
capacity is 17 000 so we are not overcrowded in the mathematical sense but
from a qualitative sense we are because the needs of inmates are not being
adequately looked at.
Mpofu: Turning to farming, the Commercial Farmers Union accuses the AG's
office of "fast-tracking" the prosecutions of white farmers who are still on
the land despite winning a case at the Sadc Tribunal. What do you say to
Majome: The AG has the prerogative on whom to prosecute and the
ministry has no control over this prosecuting function.
Mpofu: We understand that a report by police Commissioner-General
Augustine Chihuri to co-Home Affairs minister Giles Mutsekwa outlining the
arrest of Independent senior journalists has been copied to your office. Can
you confirm this and give us details of the report?
Majome: It has not been brought to my office as I speak.
Mpofu: What is your position on the handing out of different perks to
the judiciary by the Reserve Bank instead of the Judicial Service
Majome: This demonstrates the necessity of ensuring the independence
of the judiciary through establishing and maintaining an institution that is
adequately resourced and ultimately independent. That is why we would want
to operationalise the Judicial Service Act.
Mpofu: What do you say to the current state of our courts which seem
to be lacking proper maintenance?
Majome: Our courts as institutions in the justice delivery system are
not presently in a state that allows them to administer law and justice. We
have difficulties in accessing basic equipment and supplies. Recording
equipment for example is in a dysfunctional state and we have also been
losing a lot of skilled labour. The state of courts does not invite
confidence in the justice system.
The working conditions of officers not spared from the present failure
by government to provide resources for the ministry. This has impact on
morale and performance of these workers.
We need to take drastic action to unclog backlogs that result from
challenges in the justice system.
Mpofu: On a scale of one to 10, how do you rate the ministry's
achievements since the formation of the inclusive government?
Majome: We have a lot of work to do. I'm not sure whether we are at
three. Most of our targets in the 100-day plan require capital and at the
moment funds coming from the Ministry of Finance are not adequate.
|Thursday, 04 June 2009 21:08|
THE Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (Comesa) is holding its Policy Organs meetings and the 13th Summit of Heads of State and Government in Victoria Falls, on June 8 under the theme “Consolidating Regional Economic Integration through Value Addition, Trade and Food Security.”From June 2-4 the Council of Ministers deliberated on a number of issues affecting the Comesa region, including the current negotiations with the European Union on concluding Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs).
Trade liberalisation has so far discouraged intra-regional trade in Africa as the reduction of tariffs, which reduce the preference margins given to other African countries, reduce the incentives for intra-regional trade.
Thursday, 04 June 2009 17:57
LEADERS of Africa's largest regional trade bloc, the Common Market for
Eastern and Southern Africa (Comesa), have been meeting at Victoria Falls
since May 28, to prepare for the launch of a Customs Union (CU).
Comesa, which has 19 member states, has been working on having a CU as
a follow-up to a Free Trade Area (FTA) launched in 2000.
A total of 14 countries have been participating in the FTA, which,
according to the bloc, has seen intra-regional trade levels growing from
US$3 million at the time of the launch, to over US$9 million as at December
This trade is mainly in goods produced in FTA participating countries
and doesn't attract duty among members who are signed up.
FTA involves elimination of trade barriers between member states only
and is suitable for complementary structures.
The other stage of economic integration will be a common market which
aims to facilitate the movement of factors of production such as capital,
labour, goods and services between the members.
Questions have however been raised in Zimbabwe on whether the local
industry was ready for a free trade area? How will the country's economic
performance affect the CU and FTA? Will the country's economy improve under
the new developments? What problems is the Customs Union likely to face? Is
the bloc ready for a single currency?
Economic analyst Eric Bloch said how Zimbabwe benefits would depend on
how the CU constitutive legislation was drafted.
"Will it become effective immediately, or on a future date and, if the
latter, when? Will it be introduced on a phased basis, or applicable to all
goods from inception? What will be the formulae for determining country of
origin?" said Bloch.
However, pending greater detail of the CU becoming available, Bloch
said: "In principle, provided that the CU is effectively and realistically
structured, it will be beneficial for the member states of Comesa, and will
progressively diminish the economic disparities between some of the
"Zimbabwe's industry will benefit from the CU to a very considerable
degree, and very rapidly, subject to it being able to access adequate
recapitalisation, and government timeously procuring the rehabilitation of
ZB Financial Holdings economist Andrew Chirewo said the bloc appeared
not ready for a FTA given that the DRC, Ethiopia, Seychelles, Swaziland and
Uganda still needed to confirm membership as they have not been
participating in the FTA.
"Moreover, intra-Comesa trade has generally been very low, averaging
just 5% of that in 2007. However, FTAs and Customs Unions are very much
workable when there is economic stability within member countries, an
example being the Southern African Customs Union (Sacu) agreement between
South Africa, Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia and Swaziland," Chirewo said.
"As such, the successful implementation of the Global Political
Agreement in Zimbabwe, coupled with a return to stability in the DRC and
Madagascar, should add some impetus for the sustainability of a Customs
Union within Comesa," he added.
Chirewo said the Customs Union could offer an opportunity for the
resuscitation and recapitalisation of some companies via relatively cheaper
access to raw materials and capital goods.
"In fact, local industries can, to some extent, benefit from the
Comesa FTA/CU through elimination of uneven competition especially those
local companies with low capacity utilisation levels," said Chirewo.
"In addition, some benefits may be derived from joint agriculture,
mining and manufacturing ventures, given the bloc's intention to uplift
value addition within member states, whilst other benefits could be derived
from the establishment of a regional payments system as well as enhanced
investment guarantees through bloc trade pacts," Chirewo said.
However, much of Zimbabwe's trade is conducted with South Africa,
which is not a Comesa member.
"An FTA/CU within the Sadc, where most trade is conducted, would be
more advantageous to the local industry than in the Comesa," said Chirewo.
Coronation Financial Services financial analyst Lance Mambondiani said
intra-regional trade would be an essential vehicle for the promotion of
diversification and establishment of linkages between production units in
Zimbabwe and different African countries.
He said the establishment of a free trade zone in Zimbabwe may mean
the country will not be subjected to half-backed and ill-thought out
economic policies such as price controls. Economist Brains Muchemwa said
there was never a right time when every member country would be prepared but
that some countries needed fast reforms for the common good.
"After years of strangulation, the local industry is not in the best
shape to compete, but will gain more largely from cross-border financing
opportunities and fairer exposure to markets with higher spending power as
Zimbabwe has the lowest GDP per capita in the bloc at less than $380 per
capita," said Muchemwa.
On the need for a single currency, Muchemwa said: "Some countries such
as Zimbabwe still lack fiscal discipline by a huge margin, whilst civil wars
and poor governance stalk 40% of the member states. The cocktail of these
issues work hard against smooth implementation of a single currency," he
Bloch said in the long-term, a common currency would probably be
functional, but can only be introduced when intra-member economic
disparities have been minimised.
"Zimbabwe can benefit from Comesa by virtue of considerable
enhancement of exports. These include access to certain primary products
required by the manufacturing sector and collaboration on energy generation,
water procurement among other things," Bloch said.
Economist David Mupamhadzi told the Zimbabwe Independent on Tuesday
that the issue of timing for the Customs Union was critical but that given
the economic differences of member countries there would never be a right
time when everyone would be ready.
"The (economic) disparities cannot delay the launch of a Customs
Union. As long as there is commitment from the member countries to work
towards clearing the outstanding hurdles, then some of some of these hurdles
can be cleared after the launch," said Mupamhadzi.
Mupamhadzi said local industry was "clearly not yet ready for a free
"In fact given the magnitude of problems that our industry is facing,
there are no immediate gains that the country will benefit from this
process. The economy is still fragile and cannot compete with the region,"
Mupamhadzi said hyperinflation had virtually destroyed the Zimbabwe
economy, and its competitiveness.
"For Zimbabwe this could be another lost opportunity, as the country
does not have much to bring to the table. However, for other regional
economies they will definitely capitalise on this and try to maximise on the
various opportunities that they can get from Zimbabwe," Mupamhadzi said.
Mupamhadzi said given the sorry state of the economy, Zimbabwe might
want to seek temporary exemptions from the full application of specified
provisions of the treaty.
"However, the country should be given tight deadlines to put its house
in order," he said.
BY PAUL NYAKAZEYA
Thursday, 04 June 2009 20:28
THE Minister of Information Communication Technology, Nelson Chamisa,
yesterday ordered TelOne to stop disconnecting fixed telephone lines for
clients who have failed to pay bills he said were exorbitant.
Chamisa said he concurred with complaints made that the charges were
beyond the reach of many and said his ministry had written to the Postal and
Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (Potraz) advising it to revise
downwards the telephone charges.
"We have told TelOne not to disconnect telephones and they have to
comply," Chamisa told journalists in the capital. "We have also advised
Potraz of the latest development."
He said his ministry was working with Potraz and TelOne to
"investigate the exorbitant bills and the billing trend".
"Potraz is currently reviewing the tariffs. By July 1 we would have
announced new tariffs, which would definitely be lower. All tariffs should
be at par with what the region is charging," Chamisa said.
He said the country's telecommunications tariffs were the highest in
Most fixed phone clients have expressed dismay on the charges, which
in some cases are way beyond their salaries.
TelOne started disconnecting customers last month after clients
declined to settle bills arguing that the company was charging unreasonably
high tariffs that were based on estimates.
The clients also maintained that the authority was billing them in
foreign currency backdated to January, whereas TelOne was only granted
permission to trade in foreign currency on February 2 by the Reserve Bank.
According to TelOne, average local telephone usage per month at a
household level is 200 units, which translates to 600 minutes.
Assuming one was calling a cellphone at the local rate of US$0,19 a
minute, the average bill should be US$96. Calling another landline phone
Clients are however said to be receiving bills that are between US$300
A Senior Bulawayo High Court judge, Justice Maphios Cheda, last Friday
granted a provisional order to 27 private companies that had approached the
court arguing that tariffs charged by the parastatal were unrealistic and
should have their phones reconnected.
Earlier this week, TelOne acting public relations executive Collin
Welbesi insisted that his company was
authorised to charge in foreign currency in January.
He said the January and February bills were reduced by 30% in an
effort to cushion customers.
"The bills that our customers are receiving are not estimated bills
but are based on actual usage," Welbesi said in a statement. "Acting in the
public interest and faced with the need to strike a balance between
affordability of service and our viability, the regulator reduced our tariff
from US$0,10 a minute to US$0,07 a minute with effect from March 15 2009.
However, TelOne backdated this tariff reduction to March 1 2009 for the
benefit of our customers."
Meanwhile, Chamisa said the term of the Zimpost board had expired and
his ministry was working on appointing a new one soon. -- Staff Writer.
Thursday, 04 June 2009 20:28
FINANCE minister Tendai Biti will next week on Friday address the
World Economic Forum in South Africa focusing on Zimbabwe's reconstruction
under the inclusive government.
The World Economic Forum will provide a big opportunity for Biti to
explain the country's economic recovery plan which is contained in Short
Term Emergency Recovery Programme (Sterp) and appeal for funding and
technical assistance needed to rebuild the country's economy.
Biti will address the meeting on Friday morning. He will be part of a
panel which includes Deputy South African president Kgalema Motlanthe and
Kingdom Meikles Africa group chief executive officer Nigel Chanakira.
The moderator of the panel will be Group Digital Business Manager and
TV Host, Royal Media Services, Kenyan Julie Gichuru.
He will be expected to address the following questions: How are
Zimbabwean and African leaders addressing the crisis in the country? What is
the roadmap for reconstructing what was once one of Africa's success
stories? Should the international community lift sanctions and provide
development assistance to Zimbabwe?
Deputy Prime minister Arthur Mutambara is also expected to address the
same forum on Wednesday next week on the topic "Investing in Zimbabwe".
In an interview this week, Biti said he will be take the opportunity
to explain the depth of the Zimbabwean crisis and the amount of
reconstruction work that needs to be done.
"As a matter of fact I would like to make the world and regional
leaders appreciate and understand the situation in Zimbabwe. The extent of
decline and failure of the economy is so serious that it was tantamount to
an economy that had just emerged from war," said Biti.
"We need a comprehensive stabilisation programme in the mould of a
mini Marshal Plan instead of just getting humanitarian assistance which all
goes in to consumption. We need huge reconstruction and transformation
assistance," Biti said.
Biti said a lot of work needed to be done before Zimbabwe start
bottoming out of the doldrums and reach the stage it was at before 2000.
He said the consequences of failing to revive the economy would be too
ghastly to contemplate.
"The inclusive government is a very fragile experiment. It can only
work and succeed if there is economic recovery and delivery. We need to
ensure that it succeeds," he said.
Biti said for the inclusive government to succeed there will be need
to attend to outstanding issues and reforms.
"The outstanding issues must be addressed with urgency and reforms
introduced. We need to stop the arrest of journalists, lawyers, judiciary
officers, political activists and human rights defenders. We also need to
start implementing the global political agreement in full," Biti said.
"We need to see more newspapers, radio and television stations in
Zimbabwe. This is the only way we can succeed and we will explain all these
issue to the world in Cape Town next week," said Biti.
BY PAUL NYAKAZEYA
Thursday, 04 June 2009 20:19
LONZIM Plc is planning to set up a passenger airline to service
Zimbabwe and regional routes in a move that could give Air Zimbabwe serious
The national airline has been experiencing operational and financial
LonZim director and chief executive officer Geoffrey White said
funding for the project, which will cater for both passenger and freight
operations, had been allocated.
"LonZim has allocated funding to establish a franchise in Zimbabwe of
Lonrho's regional aviation company, Fly540, and is working to obtain the
necessary flying permissions and Air Operators Certificate to start a
domestic and regional focused airline for both passenger and freight
operations," said White when announcing the interim financial results for
the period ending February 28.
However, he would not disclose the amount the project would cost and
the regional routes that they intend to fly.
The inclusive government has indicated its desire to liberalise air
transport policies in a bid to attract foreign airlines under the Open Skies
Policy enunciated in the Short Term Emergency Recovery Programme.
Only seven airlines are currently serving the country out of 45 that
existed in 1996.
Reputable airlines like British Airways, Qantas, Virgin and Lufthansa
have since stopped flying directly into Zimbabwe.
Airlines that have left the country include Austrian airlines,
Swissair, Air India, Air France, Air Portugal, Egyptian Airline, Royal Swazi
airline, Air Seychelles, Air Tanzania, Ghana Airways, Air Uganda and Air
"Recently we have seen some very positive progress made in Zimbabwe as
international support for the country grows. We are positive that the
investment potential in Zimbabwe remains strong and that the country has a
very bright future as it looks to re-establish its presence as one of the
major economies on the African continent," he noted.
Meanwhile, White said LonZim will continue to focus on commercial
opportunities in Zimbabwe and the Beira corridor.
He said the company will continue to invest in industries that the
board believes will show strong and speedy recovery when Zimbabwe begins
White said the focus for each company has been to retain quality staff
and the capabilities necessary to grow and gain market share as and when
"Each company is well positioned to do so, and with LonZim backing,
the portfolio of investments is strategically placed to be able to benefit
from the recovery," White said.
BY NQOBILE BHEBHE
Thursday, 04 June 2009 20:19
SOUTH AFRICAN businessman Cyril Ramaphosa's Shanduka Group has joined
the bandwagon of investors jockeying for business interests in Zimbabwe,
businessdigest has established.
Ramaphosa's group is said to have held talks with Econet Wireless to
acquire the company's shareholding in Mutare Bottling Company, an investment
the mobile group considers a non-core asset.
The Shanduka group, which already has interests in bottling and
beverage sectors in the region, is said to have conducted a due diligence
examination of Mutare Bottling and was keen on snapping up the business.
But Delta Corporation has been linked to the bottling asset in the
past few weeks after Shanduka appeared on the scene.
While Delta is keen on having Mutare bottling under its portfolio,
analysts say the beverage group has a bargaining chip in the form of its
non-core Ariston investment, a cast away asset Econet is seemingly
Analysts feel the Shanduka bid could suffer after Delta and Econet
Other sources said Delta was no longer interested in a share swap deal
proposed by Econet Wireless opting for cash deal than a scrip one.
But Econet is less likely to pay cash for Ariston. Econet acquired
Mutare bottling last year.
The Shanduka Group is a leading black-owned and managed Investment
Company established in November 2000.
Their investment portfolio comprises Resources, Financial Services,
Property, Energy, Beverages and Industrial & General.
Millennium Consolidated Investments (MCI) is the exclusive Ramaphosa
investment vehicle, which was incorporated in March 2001. He is the chairman
of MCI as well as the single largest shareholder in the company.
Ramaphosa is a member of the advisory boards of the Sanlam Development
Fund and the AIG Africa Infrastructure Fund, the Deputy Chairman of Rebserve
Holdings Limited, Chairman of Johnnic Holdings Limited and a board member of
SAB plc, First Rand Limited and SASRIA.
BY CHRIS MURONZI
Thursday, 04 June 2009 20:11
ZIMBABWE'S gold output fell by 49% last year owing to an operating
environment the Chamber of Mines described as "dismal and gloomy".
Zimbabwe produced 3 576 tonnes of bullion last year compared to 7 018
tonnes in the prior year, the chamber said.
"During the year 3 576 tonnes was produced compared to 7 018 tonnes
reported in 2007, a decline of 49%,"according to the Chamber of Mines annual
David Murangari, Chamber of Mines president, attributed the fall in
gold production to a difficult operating environment last year.
"The performance of the Zimbabwean mining industry in 2008 is best
described as dismal and gloomy," Murangari added.
Zimbabwe's gold mining industry has been hard hit by the country's
economic meltdown as more mines stopped operations.
Speaking at the Chamber of Mines Annual General Meeting (AGM) held
last week in the capital, a departure from the traditional Victoria Falls
venue, Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai said the mining sector presented the
country with a ready opportunity to attract significant investment.
"Government has a window of opportunity to prepare a conducive policy
environment by mid 2010. that could see Zimbabwe's mineral sector attracting
between six billion and 16 billion in exploration and mine development
investment during 2011-2018 period," he said.
According to Murangari the majority of mines need to be recapitalised.
"Most mines operated under extremely difficult macro-economic
conditions for the first nine months of the year. Most importantly, there is
dire need for recapitalisation of the industry... the current world
recession was something that we in Zimbabwe had not anticipated," said
Gold earnings in the first half of the year also declined to US$62
million compared to US$94 million earned the previous year.
Although gold sector earnings have declined, platinum production
increased by 8.5% in 2008 compared to 2007.
Annual platinum output increased from 5 085,74kg in 2007 to 5 495,10kg
in last year.
Gold miners are still to be paid US$30 million for gold deliveries
made to the central bank last year.
BY CHRIS MURONZI
Thursday, 04 June 2009 20:07
WHEN Rainbow Tourism Group (RTG) majority shareholder Nicholas Van
Hoogstraten's dispute with the hospitality group's directors' started in
2005, it was evident that at least one party would end up a loser.
Last week, only one director out of the eight that Van Hoogstraten
(64) wanted to leave, was voted off the board.
For some RTG board members and shareholders who questioned Van
Hoogstraten's corporate politics, "reason prevailed over madness" at the
group's AGM last week. But Van Hoogstraten left the meeting with the typical
'I-will-be-back look' and his guns are still loaded and can shoot anytime.
But what is the story behind this dispute?
RTG, a former 100% government owned company, has gone through major
changes in shareholding over the past decade, beginning with privatisation
and listing on the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange in November 1999.
At that stage the major shareholders to emerge were Accor Afrique, a
French hospitality group (35%); the Government of Zimbabwe through the
Ministry of Mines, Environment and Tourism (30%); the National Investment
Trust (10%); RTG Employee Share Ownership Scheme (5%); NSSA (18%) and the
In 2002, in an effort to raise finance for the procurement of fuel
from Libya, government sold 14% of its stake in RTG to the Libya Arab
Investment Company (LAAICO), reducing its shareholding to 16%.
In 2004, the RTG found itself saddled with a heavy foreign currency
debt and bleak prospects of short-term recovery due to the prevailing
It went to the shareholders to raise funds through a rights issue. At
this point two significant shareholders, Accor (35%) and LAAICO (14%) were
not in a position to support the rights issue.
Government got NSSA to support the rights issue through a warehousing
The rights issue brought in a new dominant shareholder, Van
Hoogstraten, who since then has been in dispute with the RTG board demanding
control of more than the 34% he managed to acquire of the RTG shareholding.
As RTG searched in its shareholder register for shareholders who could
provide it with a confirmation in support of its rights issue as part of the
underwriting requirement by the bankers, the name Messina Investments
The owner/director of Messina Investments was Van Hoogstraten, with
extensive business interests in Zimbabwe.
He was approached to give his written support for the rights issue
whereupon he insisted that he would not do free work for the banks. He said
he would support the rights issue to the tune of $25 billion out of the $80
However, he could only give his support through an underwriting
agreement where he could at least earn a fee for his services.
When the $25 billion was still not enough for the RTG bankers (ZB
Bank) to grant the global underwriting, Van Hoogstraten was persuaded to
increase his underwriting to $40 billion.
The new agreement was then ceded to CBZ Bank who had by that time
agreed to be co-underwriters.
The rights issue circular then had two underwriters, namely CBZ
Holdings (which was backed by the Messina Investments agreement) and ZB
Bank. The two banks shared the underwriting in equal proportions.
At the close of the rights issue, the shares not taken up were split
equally between CBZ Holdings for onward submission to Messina Investments or
any other company under Van Hoogstraten, and Zimbank which was then taken up
by Terra Partners through a Barclays Bank nominee vehicle.
This resulted in the following shareholdings structure - Messina and
Other Companies (Banhams, Edwards Nominees) (34%), Terra Partners (a
UK-based investment fund) (28%), NSSA (12%), Accor Afrique - South Africa
(10%), Ministry of Mines, Environment and Tourism (4%), LAAICO (4%), RTG
Employee Share Ownership Scheme (2%) and the public (6%).
According to documents to hand it was the split of the rights issue
shares that angered Van Hoogstraten.
He alleged massive fraud by RTG directors and demanded that the board
step down en masse.
Since the underwriting agreement entitled both parties to arbitration
in the event of a dispute, the matter went for arbitration in 2006 before
retired Justice McNally.
The arbitration ruled in favour of the RTG board.
In 2007 Van Hoogstraten attended the RTG AGM and demanded a poll vote
of all the resolutions including the approval of accounts, appointment of
directors and auditors.
Van Hoogstraten lost on this issue with 60% votes against his 34%.
In 2008, the RTG issued the AGM notice with a special resolution for
approval of a share option scheme. Van Hoogstraten was against this motion
and wrote to express his disapproval and threatened to sue the company if
the scheme was implemented.
The shareholders present, voted unanimously in favour of the scheme.
However, management has not implemented the scheme as it was hoped that Van
Hoogstraten could be positively engaged on the issue.
In March Van Hoogstraten wrote to the company demanding a resolution
for the removal of all RTG directors at the AGM which was held last week.
Banhams Investments' reason for requiring the removal of the entire
RTG board was that they had "little or no knowledge of business or in
particular hospitality business.
He had proposed that Grace Muradzikwa be removed as non -executive
chairperson of RTG. He is also proposing that seven directors be removed.
The seven are Paschal Changunda (group finance director), Canaan Dube,
Charmaine Rose Daniels, Godfrey Manhambara, Yarden Mariuma, Elliot Nyoni and
Chipo Mtasa, the chief executive officer.
Economic analysts said more drama was expected between Van Hoogstraten
and the RTG board. Van Hoogstraten has enough shares to appoint about three
directors, given that AFRE appointed two with half the number of shares he
Indications are that he will appoint those directors and one of them
may be appointed chairman since there is no board chairman at the moment
following the resignation of Grace Muradzikwa.
Muradzikwa who is rumored to be heading for Uganda to head
NicozDiamond's subsidiary, did not offer her self for re-election.
In the event that there are shares on offer, Van Hoogstraten is likely
to buy them and become a major shareholder with over 50%. Some shareholders
and investors will therefore be held hostage over something they have no
Against such a background, it would be important for the directors and
Van Hoogstraten to find a common goal to end the dispute.
BY PAUL NYAKAZEYA
Thursday, 04 June 2009 20:07
AS the South African rand continues to firm against the American
dollar most shops in Harare are now using the exchange rates prevailing in
South Africa for trading.
When the country adopted multiple currencies in January, the exchange
rate was US$1:R10.
On Wednesday morning the rand was trading at 8,07 to the US dollar.
A survey within the central business district showed that most retails
shops are now displaying the exchange rates prevailing at a particular time,
but there are a lot of disparities as to which exchange to use each day.
Some shops use an exchange rate of 9,5or 7,9 while others are still
using an exchange rate of 1:10.
Economists this week urged businesses to monitor the exchange rates in
South Africa daily to avoid-short changing customers.
Said economic analyst Eric Bloch: "The international exchange rates
prevailing at a given time should be used in all transactions. When the 1:10
rate was used the rand was slightly weaker but now it has gained against the
The firming of the rand has been attributed to increases in the prices
of gold and platinum on the international on market.
On Wednesday gold was trading at US$985 per ounce.
Bloch added that the anticipated cash windfall during the 2010 World
Cup was also behind the recent firming of the rand. South African will also
be hosting the Confederation Cup from June 14 to 28.
Also the global economic meltdown is affecting the strength of the
Economists Witness Chinyama told businessdigest that initially
businesspeople in Harare where not "particular" about the exchange rates.
"Not much thought was given to the exchange rates prevailing in South
Africa when we adopted the rand as currency of reference. But that is now
changing as the rand is gaining against the dollar," said Chinyama.
"The fact that the dollar is popular and readily available it made the
1:10 rate sustainable. But people in the southern parts of the country have
noticed that they could make gains by using the official rates in South
Africa, hence the gradual change in Harare."
Illegal foreign currency dealers in Bulawayo are flocking to Harare to
"mop up" the few remaining rand in Harare.
South Africa's RMB analyst John Cairns was recently quoted in his
foreign currency report saying that optimism over the global economy was
surging, risk-taking continues to rise and fears over a return of inflation
was leading to an ongoing slide in the US dollar.
"This all suggests downside for US dollar against the south African
rand, but importers have reacted strongly to the governor's verbal
intervention on Monday and this surge of orders is clearly keeping the rand
from following its compatriot currencies stronger."
This week Minister of Finance Tendai Biti said a decision to
officially use the rand would be made by the end of the year.
"One of the options is to join the rand monetary union. We will also
consider continuing with the (current) regime of multiple currencies or
bring back the Zimbabwean dollar and re-denominate it either with the rand
or the US dollar," he said.
Parallel market foreign currency dealers however have resurfaced as
banks are struggling with low deposits. The street dealers are moving back
to reclaim a market they had dominated since the local currency lost value
against major trading currencies.
Even when the foreign currency supply was constant there is still a
market for "cross selling" different currencies.
Banks are said to be offering lower rates for the US dollar to rand
conversions while the parallel market was offering better rates.
BY NQOBILE BHEBHE
Thursday, 04 June 2009 20:04
COUNTRIES in the Comesa Customs Union will not charge tariffs on
capital goods and raw materials imported from outside the bloc.
Comesa has defined capital goods as those used to produce other goods
while a raw material applies to products that have not undergone any form of
Semi-processed goods and finished products will attract duty of 10 and
25% to create a level playing field for manufacturers and producers in the
An intermediate product is one requiring further processing before it
can be used while a finished product does not need any further processing.
According to a Comesa document, member countries had adopted a Common
External Tariff for goods imported from outside the 19-member trade bloc.
Trade on goods produced in member countries is duty-free under the
Free Trade Area set up in 2000.
The newsletter said the FTA, while beneficial to members, did not
provide a level playing field in agricultural and manufacturing sectors.
"It is not possible to foster and promote regional production of goods
in sectors where producers outside the region are more competitive for a
variety of reasons. Nearly all economies in Comesa are small with nascent
and fairly fragile industries that require nurturing."
The newsletter said the customs union would protect upcoming companies
from competition from bigger and older industries.
It said the union would also facilitate increased regional
cross-border trade in goods and services.
"Companies will find it easier to establish and operate in other
Comesa countries; companies will easily list on multiple stock exchanges
across Comesa, goods will be traded easily and more confidently."
Comesa believes that the Customs Union will also go some way in
reducing poverty in member countries as enhanced production to meet market
demand will create wealth directly and indirectly.
Trade between Comesa member countries has risen from US$3 billion in
2000 before the FTA was formed to more than US$15 billion last year.
The trading bloc has a population of 400 million, creating an enormous
opportunities for businesses in the member countries. -- comesa.int
Thursday, 04 June 2009 20:03
PRIME Minister Morgan Tsvangirai says solidarity and unity of purpose
will help the region realise meaningful benefits from several arrangements
at the international level that have so far eluded the citizens.
He has therefore called on leaders to take firm decisions regarding
the stalled WTO negotiations and provide leadership and direction for the
remainder of the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) negotiations.
He added that trade preferences alone are inadequate to address the
development challenges that the region face. EPAs must, therefore, offer
more than just trade preferences.
"The EPAs must induce increased economic activity and sustainable
development for the region, the Prime Minister said. We cannot continue to
be sources of raw materials and commodities for industrial development in
the north. We cannot continue to produce what we do not consume and consume
what we do not produce,"
He revealed that the top priority for Zimbabwe will be the
opportunities presented in the Comesa region because of the favourable
trading terms and conditions developed by the organisation over the past
Specifically, he said Zimbabwe looks forward to playing its part
within the Comesa region. Currently, Zimbabwe is only utilising less than
20% of its installed national capacity in all sectors and as it seeks to
engineer its recovery and to restore utilisation of its productive capacity,
the country will be looking for opportunities elsewhere in the region.
Tsvangirai was further gratified to note that non tariff barriers to
trade, which have the capacity to threaten the smooth flow of goods across
the borders, are being reported and negotiated, through an NTB Monitoring
and Reporting System that also covers Sadc and EAC. - Comesa.int
Thursday, 04 June 2009 19:59
FINANCE Minister Tendai Biti last week ordered the Zimbabwe Stock
Exchange (ZSE) to seek written approval from his ministry for all trade
involving government -- owned shares.
This comes after the ZSE issued a circular to the country's
stockbrokers and dealers to seek permission from his ministry for any trade
in government owned shares in line with Section 18 of the Audit and
Analysts view the directive as a bid to control the Reserve Bank of
Zimbabwe which had over the years assumed control of the sale and
acquisition of stocks on behalf of government at the height of the country's
Sources say Biti was annoyed by parcels of government shares sold
reportedly at the behest of the central bank since February to local and
foreign investors arguing that the stocks the bank sold had been non core.
Biti is also said to have argued that the central bank neither had the
authority nor the permission of government when the transactions went
Biti cited instances where shares owned by the government went under
the hammer on the ZSE without the approval of his ministry and said the
conduct was unlawful.
Speculation swirled on the market last month after huge parcels of
Dairibord Zimbabwe Limited Holdings (DZL) and AICO stock were offloaded on
the market amid rumours that government was behind the sell-off. A
stockbroker confirmed receipt of a circular this week and described volumes
of DZL Holdings and AICO shares sold since February as "huge" but could not
confirm if these had been government shares.
ZSE chief Emmanuel Munyukwi could not be reached for comment at the
time of going to print while Biti according to reports denied involvement.
Analysts believe Biti, who has publicly clashed with Reserve Bank of
Zimbabwe governor Gideon Gono over his role in printing money to allegedly
keep the economy alive through provision of concessionary funding to
government institutions and a handful of private companies, could be using
the law to keep his rival in check.
Biti is said to be after Gono's scalp but this could prove an uphill
task after President Robert Mugabe and service chiefs last week vouched for
the central bank head as an honest and patriotic servant of the nation.
BY CHRIS MURONZI
Thursday, 04 June 2009 20:50
THE European Union should not bar Zimbabwean government officials from
travelling within its territory regardless of political affiliation in the
spirit of the inclusive government, Minister of State Gorden Moyo was
reported in the Sunday Mail as saying last weekend.
This was in reference to the intention of Mines minister Obert Mpofu
to accompany Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai to a mining conference in the
UK. Moyo called for "less restrictive measures" from EU member states.
Meaning lift sanctions.
Later in the same story the Sunday Mail said "the EU targeted measures
were imposed since 2002 on President Mugabe and senior members of his
government in response to Harare's implementation of the land reform
Among those targeted are six journalists from the state media, we were
These are no doubt the same journalists who are misleading readers
into believing sanctions were a response to land reform. This is a
convenient myth designed to portray an heroic Zanu PF as victims of Western
penalties for restoring land to the people.
In fact EU sanctions were imposed in 2002 in response to the expulsion
from Zimbabwe of Pierre Schori who headed the EU's election monitoring
mission. The measures had nothing to do with land and everything to do with
political violence and electoral manipulation.
This is all known to state journalists but they continue to repeat the
lie that EU sanctions stemmed from land reform. And then they wonder why
people like Moyo are having difficulty getting the sanctions lifted.
On Tuesday the Herald ran a front-page story claiming British
pensioners in Zimbabwe were destitute because of "hyperinflation spawned by
Exactly how the British were responsible for printing money -- the
root cause of inflation -- and then spending it hand over fist was not
explained in this latest bout of delusional journalism.
Nor did the Herald tell the paper's readers that Zimpapers pensioners
have not been paid a cent since dollarisation. But the paper did manage to
reproduce Peta Thornycroft's article in the Telegraph on the plight of
pensioners word for word. None of them ascribed their woes to sanctions.
That was entirely Herald fiction.
And we wonder how many readers know that Arthur-Jim Patsanza died a
pauper after all those years of loyalty to Zimpapers.
Meanwhile, while Moyo is pleading with Britain to let Mpofu in,
Tafataona Mahoso is occupying acres of space in the same edition of the
Sunday Mail to denounce the inclusive government. He speaks for the
reactionary clique in government that has been prominent of late attempting
to block reform measures by the new government including media reform.
They have been emerging from the woodwork in the armed forces, the AG's
office and the civil service to slap down MDC spokesmen and pose as the
authentic voice of the Zimbabwe government.
These same people refused to allow Tsvangirai's remarks, made at a
press conference on resolving outstanding issues in the GPA, to reach the
public until three days later when a sanitised version appeared.
The EU would in the circumstances be ill-advised to let these
They are in denial about the outcome of last year's election and
believe the MDC must be thwarted so Zanu PF with its moth-eaten nationalist
agenda can retrieve power at the next election. Zimbabwe's friends abroad
should not help them. Let's hope the visiting Swedish delegation speaks out
against vindictive prosecutions of civic activists, lawyers and journalists
and explains to those responsible that Sweden will not indulge misrule.
Mpofu for instance not so long ago made his opposition to the inclusive
And let us not forget that he presides over Mining and Indigenisation
legislation calculated to deter would-be investors. It is difficult in the
circumstances to see why Moyo is campaigning for him to go to the UK. Mpofu
and the gang around Mugabe should only be admitted to Europe and the US when
they have stopped blocking change and locking up lawyers and journalists.
And the six state journalists bleating at Kariba about how unfair sanctions
have been to them should stop lying about why those sanctions were imposed
in the first place and play a useful role in liberating the public media
from the arthritic grip of Mugabe's henchmen.
Evidence of Zanu PF's failure to embrace change was available last
Thursday when deputy information secretary Ephraim Masawi announced the
formation of five politburo committees to deal with matters such as
ideology, research and succession.
Firstly, it is difficult to believe that this Stalinist body still
exists anywhere outside of North Korea. And secondly that dead wood such as
Didymus Mutasa will be busying himself with the party's "ideology", whatever
that is apart from greed and corruption.
"The party wants to claim a huge stake in the inclusive government
when it comes to economic issues," Masawi said. "We want to make sure that
the party has a bigger say as far as government is concerned."
In other words they want to dream up new ways to plunder the economy,
reverse reform and inflict further damage on the country.
The whole point of the GPA was to remove Mugabe from the path of
destruction and let new hands get to work. But obstinacy and meddling still
prevail. Those making a public nuisance of themselves should not be rewarded
by the EU.
By the way, where did the visiting French business delegation get the
idea that there had been reforms in the media? Tsvangirai perhaps? Their
Please would all visitors consult the media as to what "improvements"
have taken place rather than indulge in wishful thinking.
There have been absolutely no improvements whatsoever and any perusal
of the state media will show how far we have to go. Tuesday's lead letter in
the Herald ("Good riddance to McGee, Pocock") illustrates the dangers of a
suborned media, allowing official comment to masquerade as public opinion.
There was Webster Shamu claiming a few weeks ago the government press
was fair and balanced. What planet is he living on?
Masawi says it was "alright" for President Mugabe to appoint Gideon
Gono and Johannes Tomana because it was in accordance with the constitution.
But is it OK if Mugabe appointed them in contravention of an agreement
he had reached with the other two principals?
The GPA is abundantly clear on the need for joint approval of all
senior appointments. The constitution doesn't come into it. The fact is
Mugabe has appointed two senior officials without consulting the other two
principals as he was pledged to do. This is about his sincerity.
But Gono must draw comfort from the fact that he has the support of
Joseph Chinotimba. Gono was doing "a fantastic job", Chinotimba said.
Our question is: Can a Reserve Bank governor survive when all he's got
for support are delinquent war vets and party hacks?
Does this really speak well of his standing, either at home or abroad?
We would call it the kiss of death. Thanks Joe. That should finish him
There is a more serious issue at stake here. Who in Zanu PF is
blocking an audit of RBZ, a public asset, on the pretext of shielding Gono?
Since when has the central bank fallen under the ambit of Zanu PF
Meanwhile, Tendai Biti, who has done a good job in exposing Gono's
flawed tenure at the RBZ, has lost the plot on the sanctions issue.
Can he not see how the state media have seized on the issue to mislead
the public on Mugabe' record? We are now being led to believe, with Biti's
help, that the country's current predicament has nothing to do with land
seizures, arbitrary arrests, repression, corruption and mismanagement.
Why is he allowing his partners in office to get away with this
campaign of dishonesty without saying a word? Has he been bought or does it
just look like it?
A word of principle from him would not go amiss. Dozens of people
still face trumped up charges and had to undergo months of incarceration and
abuse. Has he forgotten all this so soon?
And what about people facing the most appalling violence and
intimidation on farms?
Please Tendai, less foolishness. Not a single person in the current
power structure has confessed to their crimes and you are running round
claiming the West is being unfair. Ask Jestina Mukoko and Shadreck Manyere
Thursday, 04 June 2009 20:44
STRONGLY supported by Sadc, Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, Minister
of Finance Tendai Biti, Minister of Economic Planning and Development, Elton
Mangoma and diverse others of the "inclusive" government have appealed to
the international community to discontinue their economic sanctions imposed
Those appeals are founded upon a well-considered recognition that the
desperately needed economic recovery is severely hindered by the economic
Admittedly, there are various myths which the pre-inclusive government
political hierarchy repeatedly disseminated about international economic
The first of such myths was that such sanctions were imposed years
ago, as malicious acts of resentful former colonists who wished to
recolonise Zimbabwe and were resorting to imposition of sanctions in order
to demolish the economy and thereby facilitate recolonisation, and as acts
of revenge for Zimbabwe's pursuit of its land reform programme. In reality,
with one solitary exception, no economic sanctions were imposed on Zimbabwe
until early 2008.
That exception was the US's promulgation of the Zimbabwe Democracy and
Economic Recory Act, which includes that until full democracy is restored in
Zimbabwe, the US representative to the International Monetary Fund (IMF)
must veto any provision of funding to Zimbabwe. However, in practice that
is a façade sanction, for the IMF's constitution precludes any advances
to countries in payment default, and Zimbabwe's debt arrears have been of
such magnitude for many years that the IMF could not have provided
funding to Zimbabwe, even had the US's legislation not been enacted.
Save for that enactment by the US, no country had imposed economic
sanctions upon Zimbabwe until 2008, although many donor countries
discontinued or diminished developmental aid (in the main being fearful
that the funds would be abused and diverted from intended purposes), and
numerous private sector financial institutions ceased to provide lines of
credit to Zimbabwe, solely because they perceived Zimbabwe as an
extremely high risk borrower, from whom repayments were improbable.
However, it was convenient for the then government to allege the existence
of sanctions, and to attribute the economy's progressive demise to those
mythical sanctions, thereby avoiding admission of own culpability for that
A second myth, recurrently promoted by the pre-inclusive government,
was that the sanctions were illegal. The fact that such (non-existent, until
2008) sanctions had not been determined by the United Nations did not render
them illegal. There is no law, international or otherwise, which bars any
country from determining which countries should be recipients of its aid
largesse, or which countries may not receive funding from private sector
entities, or be trading partners. Any country has the sovereignty to
decide whether it should, or should not, transact with any particular other
country. But this did not deter the Zanu PF government from recurrently
contending the existence of "illegal sanctions". And these two myths were
only some of the many propagated by the previous government, and still
contended by the leadership of Zanu PF and their sycophants.
However, in 2008 the European Union, diverse Commonwealth countries,
and others did impose economic sanctions, supporting the "targeted"
sanctions that they had previously applied against the key members of the
Zanu PF government, and others closely connected to them.
The targeted sanctions precluded those subjected to them from
travelling to the imposing countries, and in numerous instances barred the
children of such named persons from education in those countries. (Of
course, the "victims" of the targeted sanctions readily circumvented the
sanctions by travelling to countries not imposing such sanctions - and
especially to the Far East, by recourse to nominees, trusts and other
facades to disguise whence investments were coming, and the like, but
such circumventions did not diminish their resentment for the sanctions,
or their endless diatribes against those imposing them).
Unfortunately, the economic sanctions that were ultimately introduced
against Zimbabwe, whilst possibly an indirect contributant to the coming
into being of the Global Political Agreement (GPA), which was the catalyst
for the creation of the inclusive government very greatly exacerbated
the Zimbabwean economic decline. One must necessarily ponder whether
indirectly motivating the necessary change of government could not have
been otherwise achieved, without intensifying economic collapse to such
an extent that over seven million Zimbabweans are now so impoverished as to
be subject to extreme, health-jeopardising, malnutrition, with thousands
dying monthly from starvation and health-related consequences of that
And this is particularly so as those which the sanctions were
intended to oust from political rulership have not suffered, and do not
suffer, from the prevailing economic morass. With rare exception, they
have accumulated such wealth within, and in some cases outside, Zimbabwe
that they have in no manner had any deterioration in lifestyle.
They continue to reside in massive, multi-roomed mansions, travel
in fleets of modern, executive style motor vehicles, travel widely
internationally, are never without electricity, water, telecommunications or
other utilities, and maintain as luxurious a lifestyle as previously. This
they do, whilst the majority of the population are experiencing extreme
suffering, are greatly in want, and very many are homeless.
Concurrently, the entirety of Zimbabwe's infrastructure has been
collapsing, be it the healthcare resources, education, energy generation,
water purification and distribution, roads, or anything else.
Commerce and industry, mining, tourism and all other economic sectors,
deprived of access to essential foreign currency funding, and of
requisite infrastructural support, and afflicted by pronounced
hyperinflation, was progressively reduced to the threshold of near total
collapse, and unemployment soared to almost 90% of the employable
Whilst all these tragic developments were not wholly caused by
international policies and actions, nevertheless the sanctions have been a
significant contributant to the intensified contraction and demolition of
Since the inclusive government came into being, it has been vigorously
focused upon bring about the critically necessary economic recovery. Almost
immediately after its formation, it launched a Short Term Emergency Recovery
Programme (Sterp), and it is now engaged in formulating a medium and
long-term programme for economic recovery and development.
Concurrently, it is pursuing other much needed, long overdue
reforms, including development of a new, democratic constitution,
revitalisation of agriculture, restoration of harmonious international
relationships, and much else.
As with any government, it is not doing everything right, and it is
also still in a learning curve, but it is striving to achieve a Zimbabwean
metamorphosis. However, economic recovery is a prerequisite for almost all
it has to do, and the continuance of international economic sanctions is a
gargantuan constraint on it attaining that which is so desperately needed.
If the international community wishes the inclusive government to
succeed, if that community wishes to see progressive decline in the
horrendous poverty and suffering of most Zimbabweans, if it really cares, it
must now speedily bring economic sanctions to an end.
The prejudice and harm of those sanctions to the population of
Zimbabwe far outweighs any political influences they may have.
The international community must now put humanitarian needs ahead of
BY ERIC BLOCH
|Thursday, 04 June 2009 18:44|
OUR country has gone through an unprecedented economic downturn over the past decade.The related challenges affecting our industries, public institutions and citizens include the following: high country risk, unavailable and unaffordable infrastructure (water, power, roads/railways, telecoms), low capacity utilisation, low production, under-capitalisation, economic stagnation, skills drain and rampant unemployment.
This is the democratic, prosperous and globally competitive Zimbabwe we seek to establish. In pursuit of this vision the role of the state must be clearly redefined as that of an enabler and facilitator.
The private sector and civic society are the doers. More significantly, we must recast and rethink our understanding of sovereignty, away from the traditional emphasis on ownership of non-performing assets to the ability to effectively and efficiently deliver high quality and affordable services to both citizens and institutions.
Delivery and not ownership should be the operative word in both the private and public sectors.
Noting that PPPs were urgently required in order to refurbish and develop Zimbabwe’s infrastructure and for long term economic development, the workshop recommended that an enabling environment for PPP implementation should be developed without further delay. Participants made the following specific recommendations:
The opportunities identified in the workshop discussions will underpin the success of almost all areas of the economy.
Allowing private funding and efficient management coupled with on-shore profit retention will ensure quick implementation leading to economic resuscitation. Allowing private funding and efficient management coupled with on-shore profit retention will ensure quick implementation.
We will struggle unnecessarily to progress as a nation towards a higher quality of life. In pursuit of a peaceful, democratic and prosperous Zimbabwe we must redefine the essence of sovereignty, from the traditional emphasis on ownership of assets. The ability to deliver high quality and affordable services to the citizens should be the core of dignity and sovereignty as a nation.
More significantly, in non-infrastructure business ventures such as mining, manufacturing, and agriculture, the government is ill-equipped to go it alone. The participation of private money is critical in both infrastructure and non-infrastructure State ventures.
We need a national paradigm shift from the ownership mantra to the delivery doctrine. In developing the PPP-driven infrastructure strategy it is imperative to acknowledge and leverage the interdependences between different sectors.
Hence a holistic and integrated approach that unlocks synergies should be adopted between related industries. For example, the challenges facing Zisco, Hwange, NRZ, and Zesa cannot be resolved separately for each business enterprise. A comprehensive and all-embracing strategic solution that involves all four institutions together with the Ministry of Water is core and critical.
For example the PPP intervention in the Zimbabwe energy sector cannot be sound and effective without taking into account the energy needs and capacity of the rest of Sadc. Under globalisation, characterised by regional economic blocks, the region and the globe have become the only units of sustainable analysis. PPPs must be alive to this reality.
The specific sector proposals are not meant to be imposed on line ministries, but rather to generate interest and possibilities. These suggestions should be evaluated, improved or rejected.
In the event of rejections better alternatives must be proffered. Not doing anything is not an option. We must all close ranks in this grand endeavour to resolve our infrastructural challenges, boost capacity utilisation, drive industrial production, improve public sector performance, and thus achieve shared economic growth and job creation.
BY ARTHUR MUTAMBARA
Thursday, 04 June 2009 18:29
THE hysteria in Zanu PF ranks over calls by the two formations of the
MDC for Gideon Gono's re-appointment as Reserve Bank governor to be
rescinded was predictable.
It was unfortunate that a number of Zanu PF luminaries including
President Robert Mugabe chose the funeral of Gono's late brother Peter Gono
as an occasion to vent their vitriol. Not surprisingly there were thinly
veiled threats of violence if calls for Gono's removal persisted.
Mourners were subjected to eulogies about Gono from Mugabe, Justice
Minister Patrick Chinamasa, Mashonaland Central governor, Martin Dinha and
Air Vice-Marshall Henry Muchena.
The Global Political Agreement (GPA) clearly states that all senior
government appointments have to be made with the consent of the three
principals, namely Mugabe, Morgan Tsvangirai and Arthur Mutambara.
These appointments include those of the Reserve Bank governor and
Attorney-General. In the post-GPA era, Mugabe cannot make these appointments
This would be in breach of the letter and spirit of the GPA.
Mugabe, to whom the concept of good faith is apparently alien,
proceeded to extend Gono's contract which was due to expire in December 2008
for a full five-year term.
Later he appointed Johannes Tomana as Attorney-General without
consulting Mutambara or Tsvangirai. In both cases he breached the GPA and he
knows it. This is what the dispute is all about. Although it is an exercise
in futility the MDC has every right to refer it to Sadc as the guarantor of
To divert attention from the nub of the issue, extraneous matters like
the liberation war and the land reform process are now being introduced.
This is a smokescreen designed to hide the simple fact that in the cases of
Gono and Tomana Mugabe acted outside the terms of the GPA.
To justify their opposition to Gono's removal they cite his record of
success as governor. "He saved the nation from collapse" has become the
refrain. He defeated Western attempts to effect regime change through the
imposition of sanctions. He is a pillar of the revolution.
No amount of lies, propaganda and threats can hide the indubitable
fact of Gono's abysmal failure as Reserve Bank governor. His politically
motivated reckless ventures into areas outside the mandate of a central bank
governor accelerated Zimbabwe's calamitous economic meltdown. What criteria
do Gono's defenders use to assess his record?
One of the most important responsibilities of a Reserve Bank chief is
to keep inflation low and protect the value of the national currency. When
Gono was first appointed in 2003 the Zimbabwe dollar, though on a
precipitous downward trajectory, still had some value. Six years later on
Gono's watch it was officially pronounced dead.
All his efforts at slashing zeros and other gimmicks failed. After
years of non-stop printing of money while the economy was shrinking the
inevitable happened. The currency was printed to worthlessness. It is common
knowledge that a lot of the money Gono printed found its way into the
currency black market through an army of shady dealers. This fuelled
inflation and eroded the value of the Zimbabwe dollar at an alarming rate.
The Reserve Bank was by far the biggest player on the black market but
the authorities saw it fit to arrest and prosecute people who did the same
to survive either as individuals or businesses. Some of these people still
languish in exile.
When Gono took over the reins at the RBZ inflation was high but had
not reached hyperinflationary levels. He called inflation the number one
enemy and vowed to "tame the beast". He flattered to deceive in his first
few months by bringing inflation down. But sober economists warned that
without tackling the root causes of inflation the battle against it would be
They were proven right. The last time official figures were released
in July 2008 inflation stood at 231 million percent. Later it was
unofficially estimated at levels of billions and trillions. This is now
hailed as success.
Gono usurped functions of cabinet ministers with Mugabe's sanction. He
is praised by his backers for funding the Farm Mechanisation Programme. What
were the results? It certainly did not increase agricultural production.
Today a large percentage of Zimbabweans are dependent on food aid and
agricultural production continues to plummet. But in the Orwellian world
that Zanu PF politicians inhabit abject failure and success are synonymous.
Sanctions are now the scapegoat for everything that has gone wrong in
Zimbabwe. Yet when Gono took over he did not think that sanctions would be
much of a problem. He pompously pronounced repeatedly that "failure is not
an option". He was immediately dubbed the "Saviour" and "Mr Turnaround" by
his admirers mesmerised by his televised monetary policy pronouncements.
Parliament and cabinet were marginalised with its members reduced to
cheerleaders. Gono's position as de facto number two to Mugabe was cemented
when he became the official dispenser of largesse. Even judges got plasma
television sets from "your governor". The few who were not impressed could
only sulk in private. They could not afford to openly go against a Messiah
who had the total backing of the chef de grande.
Gono had become Mugabe's Rasputin. Sanctions would be defeated by Gono's
genius. His out-of-the-box brand of economics would see Zimbabwe through
hard times. Furthermore, Mugabe's visionary "Look East Policy" would see
billions of dollars worth of investments from China and other parts of Asia
Planes were dispatched to Beijing and Hong Kong to pick up tourists
who could not wait to visit wonderful Zimbabwe. The West could go to hell.
After all China the rising superpower was Zimbabwe's friend. It did not
occur to Gono and his master that China and other successful Asian countries
were not in the business of bailing out countries which mismanaged their
affairs. While the daydreaming went on in Harare the economy was in free
fall. The results are plain for all to see.
Yet people are told to stand up and salute Gono.
Advocate Dinha must take credit for uttering a truth that was
unfortunately buried in all the garbage that was spewed out. Attacking some
Zanu-PF leaders now calling for Gono's removal he said, "Kunyanya-nyanya
veparty yedu, takabatsirwa musangano neReserve Bank," (Our party was
assisted by the Reserve Bank). Gono placed the resources of the Reserve Bank
and the state at the disposal of Zanu PF.
Mugabe is fond of saying Gono saved Zimbabwe. What he means is that he
saved Zanu PF. But in so doing he destroyed Zimbabwe. This is not to say he
was solely responsible but he has a lot to answer for. Not only did he save
Zanu PF but he allegedly lined a few pockets of movers and shakers in that
party. This explains the loud clamour for his retention.
Gono must do the honourable thing. He must resign. The majority of
Zimbabweans have no confidence in him. -- The Zimbabwe Times.
Thursday, 04 June 2009 21:03
US president Barack Obama has so far stuck to his electoral script on
foreign policy: a tough military approach in Afghanistan, tough-talking with
Israel and a positive conversation with the Muslim world.
North Korea's nuclear antics make a necessity of the uneasy
relationship with Russia and China. He keeps a distant reconnaissance over
Africa where cash is the preferred weapon.
So far it is not clear that the increased army in northern Afghanistan
will achieve as spectacular a result as Pakistan has done in the past two
weeks of military offensive against the Taliban and other militants in the
Swat Valley; Iraq is bound to remain as problematic as Afghanistan while
Israel exploits its stranglehold over American politics to do as it
pleases -- which is to be stubbornly opposed to the two-state concept in
Not even the name Robert Mugabe poses enough threat to warrant his
personal scrutiny in Southern Africa. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, in
a recent interview, was forced to say "it was in the best interest of
everyone" for Mugabe to go after a desperate reporter pressed her on whether
the US would "like to see President Mugabe go first before you can come in?"
PM Morgan Tsvangirai was not so indulgent when put under similar
pressure over the appointments of Johannes Tomana and Gideon Gono and claims
of fresh farm invasions. "We can't all be preoccupied with Gono and Tomana
at the expense of all the issues that the country is facing," he retorted.
He said "so-called farm invasions" had been "blown out of proportion".
"He is behaving like Mugabe," was the loaded epithet from a betrayed
Compared to Finance minister Tendai Biti's attitude towards Gono,
Tsvangirai's brusque response is not only tame and elegant but his attitude
the antithesis of Biti's. Since coming face to face with the reality of
office, Tsvangirai appears to have adopted "quiet diplomacy" as his modus
operandi, much to the chagrin of those who believe they control him.
To Biti Gono is the ultimate evil -- the al qaeda who should at the
very least be "ring-fenced" from normal society.
Otherwise he should face a firing squad. It's all got a chilling
effect, especially when one considers that those who had the weapons and
training to shoot their way into State House in 1980 were less vulgar in
their words. You sense here the recklessness of someone whose impulses are
alien and external to the Zimbabwean political spirit of reconciliation or
Yet the quarrel over Gideon Gono's position as RBZ governor needn't
have reached this wretched state where the MDC-T now appears at times under
pressure to recant as Zanu PF uses Gono as a rallying point to mobilise
political forces which had been retired since the signing of the memorandum
of understanding in July last year.
There appears to be an unhealthy desire to try and please external
influences. This often takes the form of a desire for vengeance where even
financial fraudsters who would still face trial in hell for their crimes in
the 2004 credit crunch now want Gono for lunch.
Two weeks ago I tried to explain this phenomenon in the context of the
South African transition from Thabo Mbeki to a "new era" of Jacob Zuma. To
achieve this feat, the ANC is supposed to obliterate its legacy of 15 years
since 1994 just to bloat out the Mbeki name. What needs to be retained is
the legend of Nelson Mandela's "racial harmony".
But the same propertied class which supported Mbeki's removal now
faces the dilemma of a Zuma presidency posing a greater threat to its
interests if he opts to meet the expectations of his mainly impoverished
We all know the source of pressure from Biti's irritated outburst
against the West's "ahistorical" demands earlier this week. Tsvangirai's
abrasive retort against preoccupation with Gono and Tomana bears the same
symptoms of impatience with being pushed around in the name of money.
Biti told the importunate anti-Gono league the man had been
"ring-fenced". But that will not appease them. Biti should never have taken
up their fight in the first place. Now they behave exactly as they please --
setting their own benchmarks and terms about the lifting of sanctions and an
end to violence. There is nothing Biti can do beyond shadow boxing with
Yet the MDC could have acted differently to obviate the current
credibility crisis in which the leadership must blow hot and cold on the
deleterious effects of Western sanctions on the Zimbabwean economy which all
along it pretended never existed.
African politicians must learn to appreciate the contribution of those
who have made sacrifices in their era before them. That is an invaluable
lesson we miss from Western democracies as we pursue personal vendettas.
What Mugabe and Gono needed to leave their respect bases was not
public denunciation or threats of execution by a firing squad. They needed
an acknowledgement of their contribution from well-meaning Zimbabweans.
Perhaps I was still too young in 1980 but I don't recall the trial of
individuals or businesses who helped the Rhodesian Front bust UN sanctions!
Why is it today the MDC-T's unenviable task to raise a firing squad? Is it
being honestly suggested that all Zimbabweans should have waited for the
nation to "crash and burn"?
Having acknowledged Gono's role, the next step was for the MDC to
explain how the new recovery thrust called for a new image and a new
For the MDC to pretend that all those who came before it did nothing
but destroy the country was naive.
And those who were promising manna appear to have been hit by a
tsunami their economic prophets could not foretell. America is enough
headache for Obama to worry about Zimbabwe!
BY JORAM NYATHI
Thursday, 04 June 2009 21:01
THERE is a controversial debate raging in and outside Zimbabwe about
whether Western countries should lift existing sanctions -- some call them
restrictive measures -- or keep them in place until the inclusive government
initiates political and economic reforms.
The debate seems to be causing realignment of opinions, with Zanu PF
and the MDC increasingly singing from the same hymn sheet and others, mainly
in civil society, mobilising against any relaxation so long as repression
Finance minister Tendai Biti fuelled the debate this week when he
repeated his plea that Western countries must lift sanctions to facilitate
economic recovery. The story was first carried in the foreign press and
later picked up by the Herald. Biti had previously said the same thing after
visiting Washington and London.
Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai has urged Western countries to lift
the "restrictive measures". President Robert Mugabe and Zanu PF ministers
have for years been calling for the removal of the sanctions. To them, all
problems in Zimbabwe were caused by sanctions.
Responding to a Herald story on Tuesday headlined "Sanctions hit local
British pensioners", the British embassy in Harare said the Herald continues
to "peddle gross distortions and misinformation".
The embassy said there are no UK or EU sanctions on Zimbabwe. It said
the current "EU measures" are carefully targeted against 243 individuals and
organisations responsible for the worst excesses of the previous regime with
regard to human rights abuses, political violence, corruption, hate speech
and undermining the rule of law. These measures have no adverse effect on
ordinary people, it claimed.
"The economic collapse of Zimbabwe and its infrastructure is the
result of the ruinous policies of the previous regime," the embassy said.
It's a problem of the politics of deception. Most of the major players
in this issue have been battling each other on the basis of propaganda, lies
and deception. First, Mugabe and his cronies have been claming sanctions
caused the economic and social problems that Zimbabwe faces today.
Yet the facts speak for themselves. Zimbabwe's current economic crisis
(note: there were fundamental problems of a structural nature before) began
in 1997, with the dramatic collapse of the Zimbabwean dollar after the
government made huge unbudgeted payouts to war veterans. This was worsened
by the DRC war in which Zimbabwe intervened from 1998 to 2002.
The political conflict attendant upon the constitutional reform
process between 1999-2000 and the establishment of the MDC in 1999 also
worsened the situation. This was aggravated by the land invasions which
started in 2000 and persist up to this day. There were also company
invasions and seizures. Underlying all this was Mugabe's disastrous policy
There is no straight line on such debates but in brief this should
establish the context and genesis of the current economic crisis. By the
time the EU imposed "targeted sanctions" in 2002 over the dispute over
presidential election observers, the crisis was already very serious.
There were all sorts of shortages, mainly forex and thus impacting on
critical imports such as fuel and drugs, and the economy was fast
By 2002 when sanctions were imposed, Zimbabwe was no longer getting
funding from the IMF and World Bank due to mounting arrears. Donors were
pulling out over land reform. Former South African president Thabo Mbeki and
counterparts had started to intervene in 2000 after realising the
consequences of Mugabe's ill-advised policies would be too ghastly for
Zimbabwe and the region. In other words, the damage was already done.
The Zanu PF assertion that sanctions created the economic crisis is
false. The truth is there are targeted sanctions and these have worsened
Tsvangirai and his followers have also been dishonest. Before they
were in government, they argued there were no sanctions but now openly admit
there are. The fact is the sanctions which the MDC initially downplayed have
tentacles that spread to institutions such as IMF and World Bank.
The IMF recently admitted this. The measures closed funding and lines
of credit for Zimbabwe. Local companies and individuals still can't trade
with the West. However, the sanctions are only limited. Zimbabwe is still
able to export and import essentials even from the West.
Tsvangirai's and Biti's remarks on sanctions have exposed the
duplicity of the MDC leaders. The other deception is that the EU has not
imposed sanctions on Zimbabwe. It has. The only difference is the scope of
these measures. It doesn't help for the British embassy to say there are no
Going forward, it's clear these sanctions must be removed. It has now
been widely established that they don't serve a useful purpose. Their
negative impact clearly far outweighs their benefit. At the same time the
repression which continues to stalk the land must be admitted and removed.
Economic recovery is impossible so long as property rights are under threat
and investors scared off.
Thursday, 04 June 2009 20:56
WE have often warned that Reserve Bank governor Gideon Gono - by
hanging on to office - was parking himself into a tight spot where he would
become a hostage to Zanu PF's crocodilian ideals.
President Mugabe's declaration last month that Gono was not going
anywhere, and the concomitant support from Zanu PF places the governor in an
invidious position. He has taken the poisoned chalice and asked for a
In his successive monetary policy statements he painstakingly tried to
proclaim his independence from Zanu PF's projects by attacking damaging
policies like land grabs and price controls.
He was aware of the toxicity of an open alliance with Zanu PF but
always spoke glowingly of his principal, President Mugabe. While there is no
real distinction between Mugabe and Zanu PF, Gono has been careful not to be
identified as a party cadre. Instead he tried to be a unifying force for
Zimbabweans. He pushed for a political settlement as a solution to the
country's economic decline.
"The economy and politics are inextricably intertwined such that it
does not make sense for anyone to expect the RBZ to somehow fix the national
economy and turn it around for the better while political players continue
to play bickering games over the way forward," he said in a newspaper
interview last December.
"Therefore, I cannot imagine let alone proffer any way forward in
terms of reviving the economy given the current situation that is not based
on and informed by a political economy of national unity.
As such, the only way forward for our country is for Zimbabweans to
come together and to speak with one voice to foster a national consensus
that puts the country's interests first.
"For sometime now my team and I at the RBZ have been calling for a
social contract and a spirit of national healing as the pillars of the way
forward not just in our national economy but also in our national politics,"
The irony of it is that political players today are bickering over his
continued stay in office. He has become a symbol of division and negative
political contest. He is doomed.
He believed at the time that he would strike the right chord with his
opponents in the MDC-T, thus guaranteeing his political survival. That is to
say that under the inclusive government, he expected endorsement from the
MDC-T, a party he has been very careful not to condemn.
That endorsement would have cleansed him of all the accusations that
have shadowed his tenure at the central bank. Like his principal Robert
Mugabe, Gono badly needed the MDC to give him thumbs up. Like a politician
he now has to preoccupy himself with legitimacy and not competence.
He remains unwanted within the MDC-T. He has to settle for Mugabe's
kiss of death for comfort. Mugabe has become the governor's protector. The
president is prepared to face off with anyone who thinks that Gono should
Mugabe's recent bold declaration that Gono is not going anywhere
created a new political phenomenon of the Gono factor in Zanu PF's politics.
Political creatures linked to Zanu PF have been creeping out of the woodwork
to make proclamations and threats in the name of Gono. These include war
veterans leader Joseph Chinotimba who threatened to remove white farmers
from the land if Gono's persecution continued.
"As war veterans, we are saying those whites whom we had allowed to
remain in the farms should leave with immediate effect - immediately!
"We can only allow them to remain on condition that they drop the
issue of Gono and (Attorney-General Johannes) Tomana leaving their jobs."
There have been toadying statements from Zanu PF politicians,
resettled farmers, Doctors for Development, the military, war collaborators
and other institutions with close links to Zanu PF.
These are Gono's new best friends it seems. It does not exactly make
him the flavour of the month.
In essence, the latest solidarity messages in support of the RBZ
governor now firmly place him in the league of Zanu PF fall guys, including
those accused of causing disruptions on the land. Gono may not want to be
associated with Chinotimba's boisterousness but the governor will now find
it very difficult to extricate himself from his current invidious position
in which he has become an appendage of Zanu PF. He cannot openly condemn
Then there were disclosures by Mashonaland Central governor Martin
Dinha that Gono helped Zanu PF. And this is supposed to endear him to all
Zimbabweans especially MDC-T supporters?
If anything, Gono has become the rallying point for Zanu PF which has
largely been rudderless since the formation of the unity government. Zanu PF
will now try to use the spat over Gono's candidature as RBZ governor as the
new form of political contestation with the MDC-T in the same way Mugabe's
party has used the land issue and lately sanctions to try and drum up
support. The focus will no longer be on his role as RBZ governor but a
political football. Where will it land I wonder!
BY VINCENT KAHIYA