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

Mbeki Rescues Tsvangirai

Zim Independent

Local
Thursday, 05 June 2008 22:30

SOUTH African President Thabo Mbeki secured the release of MDC leader
Morgan Tsvangirai from police detention this week after he was arrested at a
roadblock in Lupane, Matabeleland North, on his way to a presidential
election run-off meeting in the rural area.

Information gathered by the Zimbabwe Independent yesterday was that
Mbeki spoke over the phone to senior Zimbabwe government officials appealing
for Tsvangirai's release.

Tsvangirai was arrested alongside his deputy Thokozani Khupe and the
MDC national chairperson Lovemore Moyo. They were detained for over 11 hours
at Lupane Police Station.

Mbeki's spokesperson Mukoni Ratshitanga confirmed yesterday that Mbeki
came to the rescue of Tsvangirai and some of the leaders of his party.

"Discussions did take place with government representatives in Harare
in which the president (Mbeki) appealed for Mr Tsvangirai's release,"
Ratshitanga said.

Sadc appointed Mbeki last year to facilitate talks between Zanu PF and
the MDC with a view to finding a lasting solution to the country's crisis.

Police released Tsvangirai after they impounded a bullet-proof South
African registered BMW X5 he was using during the campaign in Matabeleland
North.

The police alleged that the driver of the vehicle was not authorised
under the Customs and Excise Act to drive the vehicle in Zimbabwe.

The MDC lawyer, Job Sibanda, said the police demanded that the owner
of the vehicle should either go to Lupane or send a written affidavit
explaining how the vehicle was temporarily imported into Zimbabwe.

"The vehicle was impounded by the police," Sibanda said.

Tsvangirai told the Independent yesterday that the seizure of the
vehicle was part of a bid by the government to instill fear in him ahead of
the run-off.

"The vehicle is bullet-proof and was meant for my security,"
Tsvangirai said. "I intended to use it to campaign mainly in Mashonaland
provinces where violence is rampant."

The MDC's run-off campaign in the Mashonaland provinces begins on
Monday.

"The arrest is part of ongoing harassment that we are undergoing but
that would not deter us and the allegations they were raising was that I
addressed a meeting which was not true," Tsvangirai said.

Prior to his arrest, Tsvangirai was on Tuesday forced to abort a rally
at Manama Mission outside Gwanda after he was warned by state security
agents along the way that he was heading for danger.

Tsvangirai's campaign advance party heading for Manama was told that
if he proceeded, the police could not guarantee their security.

"I don't mind soldiers having an opinion about who they want to vote
for, but certainly a coercive military strategy to force people to support a
particular candidate and to be active in the campaign has very dangerous
consequences," Tsvangirai said later.

"That must be discouraged, they are opening up the military to being
involved in politics, which is dangerous for our democracy."

The South African presidency this week said it was deeply concerned
that the media had been used as tools of disinformation in intelligence
projects to "demonise" and wreck the Zimbabwean peace process.

Director-general in the presidency, Frank Chikane, denied that
Tsvangirai had written a letter to Mbeki calling on him to withdraw from the
Sadc mediation as he was biased and ineffective.

"The logical conclusion is that there is no such letter," Chikane
said.

The mystery of the letter deepened when the MDC this week denied that
Tsvangirai had written to Mbeki.

"We are uncertain of the provenance of the letter," Tsvangirai's
spokesman, George Sibotshiwe was quoted by the international press as
saying. "There have been no recent communications between the MDC and
President Thabo Mbeki."

Meanwhile, Tsvangirai said his party welcomed the initiative of United
Nations (UN) secretary-general Ban Ki-moon to send international
peacekeepers to Zimbabwe ahead of the presidential run-off.

Ki-Moon made the offer to sent the peacekeepers to Mugabe on the
sidelines of the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO)-organised World
Food Summit in Rome this week.

The UN chief had expressed concerns about the violence taking place in
the country and had indicated that the organisation was prepared to assist
Zimbabwe logistically.

"The international peacekeepers will be most welcome because the level
of violence around the country has reached critical levels," Tsvangirai
said. "The peacekeepers' presence is the only solution that will restore
confidence among the electorate."

By Constantine Chimakure


Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

...As SA Convenes MDC/Zanu PF Emergency Talks

Zim Independent


Local
Thursday, 05 June 2008 22:26

DESPITE opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai's protests at South
African President Thabo Mbeki's mediation in the Zimbabwe crisis, Pretoria
last week convened an emergency inter-party meeting between Zanu PF and the
MDC to tackle contentious presidential run-off issues.

This came as the United Nations Security Council yesterday was due to
discuss Zimbabwe and issue a statement on the harassment of US and UK
diplomats. The diplomats were stopped and threatened at a police roadblock
yesterday afternoon on their way back from Bindura. Their vehicle tyres were
shredded and a driver assaulted.

Opposition leaders and supporters, civil society leaders, journalists
and diplomats have been the main targets of the latest crackdown.

Informed sources said Zanu PF representatives Patrick Chinamasa and
Nicholas Goche and MDC negotiators Welshman Ncube and Tendai Biti - who is
temporarily resident in South Africa after threats to arrest him for
allegedly announcing unofficial presidential election results in March -
held talks in Pretoria which were chaired by South African Local Government
minister Sydney Mufamadi.

They discussed the political violence and the multi-party agreement on
the code of conduct during the runoff.

The sources said the MDC complained about violence which the party
says has so far claimed at least 60 lives, mainly those of opposition
supporters.

Zanu PF is said to have defended itself, claiming the MDC was also
acting violently, while the South Africans promised to intervene to stop the
violence.

Mbeki recently sent a team of retired army generals to investigate the
violence and they unearthed shocking evidence of brutality. But their
findings were overshadowed by violent xenophobic attacks against foreigners
in South Africa which claimed about 60 lives.

Sources said Mbeki wants to create a peaceful environment for a free
and fair run-off as he did before the March elections. Mbeki's efforts
ensured the March elections were relatively peaceful, although the talks
failed because of Zanu PF's refusal to adopt a new constitution before the
March elections and postpone the poll to accommodate implementation of
agreed issues.

Sources said Mufamadi promised that South Africa would intervene
diplomatically to stop violence and ensure peaceful campaigning. It is said
that was why Mbeki intervened when Tsvangirai was arrested on Wednesday by
the police.

Last week alone Mbeki sent two different envoys to Harare to deal with
run-off issues and a possible resolution of the crisis after the poll.
Mufamadi, Mbeki's point man on the Zimbabwe mediation, came in on Monday to
meet Mugabe while Mbeki's Foreign Affairs Director-General Ayanda Ntsaluba
was in the country on Thursday for further discussions.

By Dumisani Muleya


Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Zanu PF Papers Not In Order - ZEC

Zim Independent

Local
Thursday, 05 June 2008 22:23
THE Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) yesterday said Zanu PF wrongly
cited it as a respondent in some of the 53 electoral petitions the party
lodged with the Electoral Court.

In a preliminary hearing before Judge President Justice Rita Makarau
yesterday, the court heard of the failure of some Zanu PF petitioners to
serve court papers within the prescribed period and service of papers at
wrong addresses.

The lawyer representing ZEC, George Chikumbirike, told the Electoral
Court that it had been wrongly cited in electoral petition cases as at law
the petitioners where supposed to cite the chairman, George Chiweshe, as the
respondent.

Chikumbirike asked the High Court to remove the ZEC as a respondent
from the applications as the electoral body is an impartial commission which
should not be seen as siding with any political party.

The ZEC lawyer said at law the electoral court was supposed to make a
report to the electoral commission after hearing the petitions, but there
will be no need to do that if the election body was in court.

Advocate Happious Zhou who was representing the MDC submitted that the
petitioners failed to serve their petitions within the 10-day limit.

According to the country's electoral law, petitions must be served
within 10 days from the day they are filed at the Electoral Court.

Zhou argued that some of the electoral challenges were served after
the time limit had expired.

The MDC lawyer said the petitioners had erred by serving their
challenges at the party's headquarters, Harvest House, as it not the
personal or business address of the respondents.

Makarau reserved judgment in the matter saying she needed time to
consider submissions from all sides.

"I need time to consider submissions from both sides and hopefully by
Wednesday I will deliver judgment," Makarau said.

The High Court will hear at least 105 petitions filed by losing
candidates of both Zanu PF and MDC.

Zanu PF in its petitions is arguing that "British and American-imposed
sanctions" on Zimbabwe created an uneven playing field that resulted in the
MDC-Tsvangirai winning the elections.

Zanu PF candidates challenged parliamentary results in 53
constituencies won by the MDC-Tsvangirai on the grounds of general electoral
fraud and malpractices of a broad and significant nature as to affect the
electoral outcome.

The MDC-Tsvangirai, which filed 52 electoral petitions, accused ZEC of
malpractices and general electoral fraud.

The MDC-Tsvangirai is arguing that there was open vote-buying and
denial of access to GMB-procured maize to its perceived members and that
traditional leaders were used to intimidate and harass opposition supporters
and to canvass support for Zanu PF.

By Lucia Makamure


Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Opposition MP Matinenga Set Free

Zim Independent

Local
Thursday, 05 June 2008 22:20
A MUTARE magistrate Hlekani Mwayera yesterday dismissed public
violence charges against MDC Buhera West legislator Advocate Eric Matinenga
and released him from police custody.

Matinenga was arrested and detained in Buhera on Saturday for
allegedly paying and encouraging MDC youths to perpetrate violence against
Zanu PF supporters in the constituency.

Tinoziva Bere, Matinenga's legal practitioner, told the Zimbabwe
Independent last night that the state had applied for Matinenga's further
detention, but the magistrate said there were no grounds for the lawyer to
remain in custody.

On Tuesday, the Law Society of Zimbabwe complained over the continued
detention of Matinenga for more than 48 hours after his arrest.

The society said when Matinenga was arrested, the police did not know
what allegations against him were.

The police, the society added, failed to advise his lawyers of the
basis of his arrest and detention. - Staff Reporter.


Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

War Vets Body Threatens War

Zim Independent

Local
Thursday, 05 June 2008 22:18
A NEW ex-combatants body has said the June 27 presidential election
run-off must be called off and President Robert Mugabe remain in office
until a new constitution is crafted and "sanctions by the West" lifted.

The association - Mwana Wehvu the Revolutionary Council - was launched
in the capital on Wednesday, with Mugabe's wife, Grace, nominated as its
patron.

Chris Pasipamire, the chairperson of the council, said its members
were ready to take up arms and defend "the revolution, land, and its
resources" if Mugabe loses the run-off to MDC's Morgan Tsvangirai.

"As Mwana Wevhu the Revolutionary Council we, hereby, demand that the
whole electoral process be set aside and the old parliament be reconstituted
with President Robert Gabriel Mugabe remaining the head of state and
therefore no run-off that is being talked about for the 27th of June 2008,"
Pasipamire said.

"Currently, the Zimbabwean masses are hungry due to sanctions imposed
by the West to effect regime change so we cannot hold fair elections as it
is. .Our priority is to mobilise all the meagre resources and bring food to
the masses."

The so-called council said it was also determined to fight corruption
in Zanu PF and the government.

"We are working with the presidium. We have raised issues with the
party leadership over the manner in which some people are conducting party
business," Pasipamire said. "There is a lot of corruption involving some
high-level officials of the party and we as a body want to engage the
presidium to see to it that there is an end to these malpractices."

He said the council would push for the implementation of the one-man
one-farm policy by the government. At the moment, Pasipamire said, there
were many senior government officials who held onto a number of farms,
thereby depriving many Zimbabweans "who suffered the same fate under the
Smith regime" of their right to land. He castigated elements within Zanu PF
who had amassed wealth using the party ticket, saying they were denting the
name of the party.

By Nkululeko Sibanda


Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Mugabe Attempts To Woo Young Voters

Zim Independent

Local
Thursday, 05 June 2008 22:13
PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe's campaign team this week resorted to hip-hop
lyrics in a bid to woo younger voters to vote for the 84-year-old veteran
leader during the June 27 presidential election run-off against rival Morgan
Tsvangirai.

The campaign team, comprising radio and television personalities
Tichafa Matambanadzo, Makhosini Hlongwane and Hugo Ribatika, yesterday
flighted an advertisement featuring the late American rap star Tupac Shakur.
They are working with advertising agency, Imago.

The shift in Mugabe's media message comes after Tsvangirai out-polled
him during the March 29 presidential election.

The party has placed a full-page colour advertisement that sampled the
lyrics of Shakur who was killed in a drive-by shoot in Las Vegas 12 years
go.

Zanu PF sampled Tupac's early hit Keep ya head up from his album
Strictly for my NIGGAZ in an attempt to encourage Zimbabweans to be
resilient in the face of biting economic hardships characterised by a record
inflation rate, high unemployment and acute food shortages.

It is a song which implores men to "be real to our women". It also
encourages women to be strong in a patriarchal society.

"I know it seems hard sometimes but remember one thing," read, the
advert. "Through every dark night, there's a bright day after that. So no
matter how hard it gets, stick your chest out, keep ya head up..."

Media Monitoring Project of Zimbabwe head Andy Moyse said the new
campaign message was an attempt to appeal to the urban youth.

"This is an attempt to appeal to the urban youth," Moyse said. "It
sounds like it is from the liberation war. However, one should ask why the
state media is not carrying advertising material for the other presidential
candidate (Tsvangirai)."

Mugabe's critic and university lecturer John Makumbe described the
campaign as a "desperate last attempt by an expired regime".

During the run-up to the March 29 harmonised elections Zanu PF
campaigned using its trademark "revolutionary" campaign messages that
portrayed Mugabe as a hero of the 1970s liberation war.

In a related development, the country's sole broadcaster, ZBC, this
week suspended seven senior journalists for "misconduct" in what inside
sources have termed a crackdown on "unpatriotic" personnel.

The seven, who were suspended on Tuesday pending dismissal, are
television services general manager Robson Mhandu, news editor Patrice
Makova, and producers Monica Gavhera, Sibonginkosi Mlilo and Lawrence
Maposa.

Two reporters, Brian Paradza and Robert Tapfumaneyi, were also
suspended.

Zimbabwe Union of Journalists (ZUJ) president Mathew Takaona
criticised the suspensions, which he called irrational and motivated by
political considerations.

"The suspension is an unfair labour practice and we suspect that it is
politically motivated," he said. "It is unfortunate that this is being
implemented on professionals. The new management has overreacted. It is
irrational, illogical and the move will further cripple an already grounded
station."

ZUJ demanded an immediate reinstatement of the journalists without
loss of benefits.

By Bernard Mpofu


Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Civil Servants Awarded $100 Billion Ahead Of Poll

Zim Independent

Local
Thursday, 05 June 2008 22:11
THE embattled Zanu PF government this week awarded a 100% salary
increment to civil servants in a bid to win their support ahead of the
presidential election run-off on June 27.

The increment came barely a week after government hiked civil servants'
salaries by 1 047% backdated to May 1.

Sources in the public sector told the Zimbabwe Independent that after
the salary adjustments, the majority of civil servants would be earning well
above $100 billion.

"We got a cirular last week informing us of a 1 047% salary hike
backdated to May 1 and another 100% salary increment effective June 1," one
of the sources said.

A member of the Apex Council - a salary negotiating body of all public
service organs - Tendai Chikowore, confirmed that civil servants were
awarded an increment, but declined to reveal figures to the Independent.

"I don't think it's proper for me to discuss salaries of our members
with media," Chikowero said. "Salaries should be confidential."

The Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (PTUZ), a member of the
Apex Council, confirmed the salary increment.

PTUZ national coordinator Oswald Madziva said: "I can confirm that
civil servants were awarded a substantial salary hike."

Madziva could not disclose specific figures, but admitted that the
hike was reasonable.

"Civil servants got a salary increment backdated to May 1 and another
one effective June 1," he said. "It is a reasonable hike, but I can't give
you the figures."

After the latest increment, teachers who last week earned salaries
ranging from $50 billion to $60 billion, will this month earn between $100
billion and $130 billion.

Last month nurses reportedly got $50 billion while soldiers grossed
$65 billion. Their salaries would be doubled this month.

Prior to the March 29 harmonised elections, government awarded hefty
salary increments to soldiers and members of the civil service.

The government reportedly secured the money to dole out to uniformed
forces and the civil service from the Reserve Bank, which by March 1 had
loaned the state over $1,6 quadrillion to meet its recurrent expenditure and
other obligations.

By Lucia Makamure


Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

MDC In New Campaign Strategy

Zim Independent

Local
Thursday, 05 June 2008 22:09
THE Morgan Tsvangirai-led MDC has changed its campaign strategy for
the June 27 presidential election run-off after the police banned its
rallies. The party has now adopted walkabouts to drum up support.

Police at the weekend banned the MDC rallies in Victoria Falls and
Hwange, which threatens to
paralyse Tsvangirai's campaign three weeks before the crucial poll.
Tsvangirai is yet to hold a rally since his return a fortnight ago from
self-imposed exile in Botswana and South Africa.

This week Tsvangirai took his campaign to the streets of Bulawayo and
Matabeleland South province, but his lobbying for support in Matabeleland
North hit a snag on Wednesday when he was detained by police for allegedly
"attracting a large crowd of people".

He was detained for over 11 hours before being released after he was
reportedly forced to sign a warned-and-cautioned statement at Lupane Police
Station.

The MDC spokesperson, Nelson Chamisa, said the arrest and detention of
Tsvangirai was part of
Zanu PF strategy to ensure that the opposition party did not get an
opportunity to campaign ahead of the run-off.

"This is part of a Zanu PF strategy to ensure that the MDC does not
get a chance to campaign, but we are saying no amount of dirty tricks will
stop an MDC victory on June 27," Chamisa said.

On Monday, Tsvangirai accompanied by his campaign team visited
townships in Bulawayo to urge people to go out and vote.

He visited townships such as Makokoba, Nkulumane, Pelandaba, Luveve,
Magwegwe and parts of the central business district where excited crowds
mobbed him.

"Please just go and vote in large numbers on June 27," he told
supporters in the CBD.

At the Nkulumane mall, Tsvangirai was welcomed with chants of "Welcome
President, Welcome President" by the crowd.

Tsvangirai was accompanied on the visit, which the MDC dubbed the
"Meet the People Tour", by his deputy Thokozani Khupe, party chairman
Lovemore Moyo and all newly-elected MDC MP and senators for Bulawayo
province.

However, the tour also saw residents telling Tsvangirai their views on
the prevailing crisis in the country.

"We are hungry my son, please make sure you take us out of this
misery," an elderly woman at Chigumira Shopping Centre in Luveve appealed.
"Our stomachs are empty, they have nothing and we know you are our only
salvation."

Khupe said the tour was part of the MDC victory celebrations and said
Tsvangirai was meeting the electorate urging them to vote out Mugabe.

"The main reason for the walkabouts is for president Tsvangirai to
meet the people and the tours will be conducted countrywide as we garner for
support ahead of the presidential election run-off on June 27," Khupe said.

Yesterday, Tsvangirai's campaign was in rural Matabeleland South.

By Loughty Dube


Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

. . . As Divisions Rock Mutambara MDC

Zim Independent

Local
Thursday, 05 June 2008 22:06
SERIOUS divisions have reportedly rocked the Arthur Mutambara-led MDC
over the backing of Morgan Tsvangirai in the June 27 presidential election
run-off against President Robert Mugabe, with the camp's winning legislators
threatening to break away from the party.

Sources in the Mutambara faction told the Zimbabwe Independent this
week that the recently elected legislators were not happy that the faction
last Friday fielded parliamentary by-election candidates in Gwanda South,
Redcliff and Pelandaba-Mpopoma against those of the MDC-Tsvangirai group.

The sources said the lawmakers accused the faction's leadership of
going against a recent parliamentary pact between the two factions by
nominating separate candidates.

The MDC Mutambara faction fielded candidates who will contest against
Zanu-PF and the MDC-T faction.

The MPs and senators reportedly threatened to use their personal
resources to campaign for Tsvangirai and accused the Mutambara leadership of
attempting to derail the former trade unionist's bid for the presidency.

"There are a few senior individuals in the party who are pushing a
Zanu-PF agenda and it is now clear who those are," one of the legislators
said. "They are doing everything in their powers to destroy Tsvangirai. It
is not our fault that they have differences with him, but we just want
Mugabe out of power."

The legislators said it emerged this week that there were members of
the Mutambara executive who were against the party's resolution to support
and campaign for Tsvangirai against Mugabe in the run-off.

The MPs alleged that the party leaders in Matabeleland were bitter
after losing the March 29 parliamentary election to the MDC-Tsvangirai
candidates.

"There are some former legislators who are still bitter and just last
weekend one of them (name supplied) addressed a provincial assembly meeting
and said he will cause by-elections to take place in areas where the MPs and
senators are campaigning for Tsvangirai," another lawmaker said. "We are
saying we do not care if he calls for the by-elections. We will campaign for
Tsvangirai against Mugabe."

The legislators were also not happy after the party leadership
reportedly cancelled a trip to South Africa by the lawmakers to meet victims
of xenophobic attacks.

The leadership is alleged to have blocked the trip after alleging that
the legislators were going to South Africa to meet Tsvangirai who was then
still in that country.

Last Friday, the legislators boycotted a party meeting and instead 11
of the lawmakers travelled to Harare where Tsvangirai was presenting a
"state of the nation" address.

"There are two or three officials at the top who have not come to
grips that Tsvangirai is more popular than us (Mutambara camp) countrywide
and they are fighting to bring him down," a senator said. "We will continue
to back him as long as he fights Mugabe."

Efforts to contact the party's secretary-general Welshman Ncube on the
matter proved fruitless as he was not reachable.

The party's deputy spokesperson Abednico Bhebhe said he had no comment
on the issues raised.

"I have no comment to make on all those issues," Bhebhe said curtly.

By Loughty Dube


Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Mixed Feelings On GNU

Zim Independent

Local
Thursday, 05 June 2008 22:04
THE are mixed feelings among Zimbabweans on the proposal for the
formation of a government of national unity (GNU) as a resolution to the
country's deepening political and economic crisis.

There are calls from United Nations members, Sadc and within the
country for President Robert Mugabe's Zanu PF and the MDC headed by Morgan
Tsvangirai to open negotiations on a GNU and avoid the June 27 presidential
election run-off, thus sparing the nation further turmoil.

The GNU would be made up of all political stakeholders in the country.

Proponents of the GNU argue that the run-off between Mugabe and
Tsvangirai would not end the current crisis. Reports suggest Zanu PF and the
MDC were in secret talks to hammer out a GNU or a transitional government,
but the protagonists are deeply divided on who would run the government;
between the ageing Mugabe and former trade unionist Tsvangirai.

The MDC said it wants an inclusive government minus Mugabe, while Zanu
PF insists that the run-off should go ahead and thereafter a GNU could be
formed.

"The question of government of national unity becomes legitimate after
the run-off so it is at that stage that whoever wins can discuss the GNU,"
Mugabe's chief presidential election agent Emmerson Mnangagwa said recently.

Losing independent presidential candidate Simba Makoni has been one of
the leading voices in Zimbabwe calling for a GNU.

"We need to establish an authority that will take care of business up
until we are able to run an election with a sound body that has respect from
all the political players as well as civic society.

"That authority should be allowed to run for five years before the
elections are held. We believe that by then things will be in their rightful
order," Makoni told a media conference in the capital last week.

Voters who spoke to the Zimbabwe Independent this week said both
options - the GNU and the run-off - should be exploited in the quest to
secure a solution to the country's biting problems.

Some argued that the run-off was the best way to deal with the crisis,
while others said the poll would be an extra expense that will not resolve
anything.

Takura Zhangazha, a media and political analyst, said the results of
the March 29 presidential election should be the determining factor of who
should lead the GNU if it was to be established.

"One thing that has to be taken into consideration is that the people
of Zimbabwe made their stance clear on March 29," Zhangazha said. "Anyone
mooting a government of national unity has to be guided by the outcome of
that election because it is representative of what the people of Zimbabwe
want."

Tsvangirai outpolled Mugabe, but failed to win the legal majority to
assume the presidency.

"There is no unity government that can be founded now besides one
whose foundation is on the outcome of March 29 elections," Zhangazha said.

He added that should Zimbabwe be condemned to the run-off as announced
by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC), there was need to put an
immediate end alleged state-sponsored violence against opposition
supporters.

"There is a lot of election manipulation by Zanu PF," Zhangazha said.
"Violence and torture is being unleashed on the people with impunity. The
environment at the moment bodes ill for a free and fair election. It cannot
produce a result that is in line with the wishes and aspirations of the
people of Zimbabwe," Zhangazha said.

Admire Zaya of the Build a Better Youth Zimbabwe said that the recent
wave of political violence and intimidation of MDC supporters made the
environment unsuitable for an election.

He said dialogue towards a GNU was the best way of dealing with the
standoff in the country.

"The unity government is the answer as it will have representation
from both ends of the political divide, thus having the brains that will
come together and tackle the problems facing the country," Zaya said. "It is
not about individuals, but the people of Zimbabwe. The election is a costly
exercise and I think it might not achieve the intended results as there
would be bickering as to whether the winner did win in a free and fair
manner, and that will drag on while the national economy continues to
shrink."

Richard Mashave, a businessman in central Harare, said a run-off would
enable Zimbabweans to elect a leader of their choice as compared to the
"boardroom pacts" which were being proposed.

"If the run-off is held in a free, fair, and transparent manner, it
has the potential of enabling Zimbabweans the chance to choose a leader who
will be able to deal with the current economic problems," Mashave said.
"That leader whom people will choose on June 27 has the potential to lead us
to the normalisation of the situation if those that have been defeated
accept it and support him."

Lameck Magura, a general hand at a Harare shop, said there was no need
for a run-off at the moment, but said there was need for Mugabe to accept
defeat at the hands of Tsvangirai and leave office.

"When people lose in an election, they have to accept that they lost
and the nation moves forward," Magura said. "His party does not lose
anything given that they will also be in parliament."

Phillip Makwevera predicted there could be problems on who will lead
the GNU if the run-off was to be avoided.

"Both Zanu PF and the MDC want to lead the government of national
unity," Makwevera said. "They will not give in easily to the demands of the
other. The best way to deal with this standoff is to go through an election
to prove who of the two candidates is more popular and has the potential of
helping Zimbabwe out of the doldrums."

A Mbare resident, George Chibamu, was also of the view that there was
need for a GNU.

"The people of Zimbabwe are starving at the moment as Zanu PF and the
MDC continue with bickering as to who should lead or who won the elections,"
he said. "In order to cut down on the same problem after the run-off, I
believe it is better to have a government of national unity that will take
on board all the players because they will all be working for the betterment
of Zimbabwe."

By Nkululeko Sibanda


Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Ordinary People Bear Inflation Brunt

Zim Independent

Local
Thursday, 05 June 2008 22:02
ELLEN Makusha* is no better than the average Zimbabwean. She is poor,
downtrodden, depressed and underpaid.

She is also very bitter. Makusha, a teacher, does not remember the
last time she bought a new dress for herself. What she does remember is
buying a pair of school socks two months ago for her 14-year-old son,
Brian - a student at Alan Wilson High School in Harare.

"I don't recall the last time my salary was ever enough to buy
anything after bus fare," Makusha said in her classroom at a school in
central Harare. "I struggled to buy Brian's pair of socks early this year
and those socks almost exhausted my entire salary. Clothes are not our
priority at the moment."

Makusha said she felt rage every time teachers got a salary increment
and the prices of commodities and services skyrocketed.

"It hurts so much that every time we get a pay increase, everything
goes up. It is almost as if no one wants teachers to survive," she said. "I
eat meat on average once a month."

Makusha's fate is tied to that of another 90 000 teachers currently in
Zimbabwe. But then teachers are not the only ones getting a raw deal in an
economy where goods are hardly found in shops and where inflation is the
highest in the world.

Zimbabweans are now reeling from the effects of very high inflation
which government has failed to rein in over the years.

Even more depressing for most has been President Robert Mugabe
attempting to be re-elected when he takes on MDC's Morgan Tsvangirai in the
presidential run-off election to be held in three weeks.

"What can he do for us that he failed to do over the past 28 years?"
an emotional Makusha asked, as rage quickly filled her up at the mention of
the 84 year-old leader. "Is it fair for us to suffer because of his ego? Is
it too much to ask for a better life?"

Mugabe lost the first round of polls to Tsvangirai who however failed
to clinch the majority needed to make him president. Tsvangirai garnered
47,9% of the vote while Mugabe secured 43,2%.

Before the elections, the majority of Zimbabweans were in agreement
that it was impossible for Mugabe to emerge victorious in the elections
given the record inflation that existed at the time. Inflation for March
stood at 355 000%.

"Nowhere in the world has a government won elections on the back of
hyperinflation," said one industrialist just before the elections.

Mugabe hung on by a thread after Tsvangirai fell short by just 2,1
percentage points of the vote to become president.

Mugabe launched his presidential campaign a fortnight ago but it was
empty of pragmatic solutions to deal with the economic crisis which has put
Zimbabwe in the economic history books. The theme is "100% Empowerment,
Total Independence."

The speech concentrated on the usual rhetoric of sanctions and Western
interference in Zimbabwe's affairs. Mugabe regurgitated the same message
that Zimbabwe would never be a colony again and told supporters that
reactionary elements had been waiting in the wings to reverse the gains of
Independence.

His silence on the economy was deafening.

University of Zimbabwe political analyst Brian Ngwenya said
Zimbabweans could not help but noticing how ineffectual Mugabe and Zanu PF
had become.

"The effectiveness of their ideology is tantamount to sweeping back
water with a broom," said Ngwenya. "People don't eat ideology and they are
realising that Zanu PF is not about bread and butter issues."

Ngwenya said Mugabe had lost in traditional Zanu PF strongholds
because of inflation.

"It is not an understatement to say the economy has become his
greatest enemy," Ngwenya said. "What is even worse is how Mugabe and his
party deliberately and conveniently choose to ignore the fact. The March 29
elections, however, showed us that even rural people are feeling the pinch
of the economic crisis."

MDC deputy secretary-general Tapiwa Mashakada said it had become
obvious that both Mugabe and Zanu PF had no tangible solutions to deal with
inflation.

"He has never campaigned on issues and inflation has been a major
setback," Mashakada said. "As the MDC, we have lost count on how fast we are
surpassing world records on inflation. Zanu PF is now left with propaganda,
which the people have long come to realise is worthless talk."

The crisis gripping Zimbabwe for the past 10 years has intensified of
late. Production across all sectors - manufacturing, mining and
agriculture - is at an all-time low.

A defiant parallel market has outsmarted Mugabe's administration
despite liberal measures introduced six weeks ago to eliminate it. The
Zimbabwean dollar has fared badly against all major currencies since the
Reserve Bank floated the exchange rate.

Amid all this chaos, inflation has inflicted the most damage on an
already battered economy.

Even spirited efforts by central bank governor Gideon Gono to fight
inflation have borne no fruit.

Instead, Gono has found himself under attack for his interventions
geared at saving the economy. Such interventions which have seen a huge
increase in money supply growth have been labelled inflationary.

In a bid to save face, government has been stifling inflation figures
since January. The last official inflation figures were 100 540%.

Figures for February inflation were 165 000%, while for March they
were 355 000%. Inflation rose again in April to 732 604% and then 1 694 000%
in May. The Central Statistical Office has however not confirmed March to
May figures.

"Inflation now poses the greatest threat to Mugabe's stay in power,"
economist John Robertson said. "We are in a very serious decline right now
and over the next 23 days, things will get much worse. This, together with
the violent campaign, will only strengthen the resolve of people to boot him
out."

The consumer basket recently shot up to $25 billion a month according
to the Consumer Council of Zimbabwe. But most employees in the country are
currently earning below $20 billion a month.

Those with school-going children like Makusha face an even more
difficult situation. Levies for most public schools have gone up with
surveys carried out around Harare
showing that schools were demanding
between $30 billion to $135 billion for the second term.

"It means most employees in the country can't afford to send their
children to school," Robertson said. "Most have two or three children and it
means forfeiting six months to a year's salary just to pay for levies. What
of other expenses?"

Robertson said the biggest impediment to foreign currency inflows had
not been sanctions but the failure by Mugabe's government to pay its debts.

"Worldwide, it is good banking practice not to lend money to someone
who does not pay you back," Robertson said. "If you borrow, you should pay
back. Banks don't lend to defaulters."

Despite such conditions, Mugabe's defeat at the elections is not
guaranteed amidst fears the elections will not be free and fair. For
Makusha, it is not a question of imperialism or Zimbabwe being a colony
again.

"I just want to reclaim my respect. I just want to feed my family and
not worry about rising prices," she said.

*Not her real name.

By Kuda Chikwanda


Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Zim Dollar Crashes

Zim Independent

Business
Thursday, 05 June 2008 21:59
THE fragile Zimbabwe dollar this week crashed to a record $1 billion
against the US dollar as it become apparent that the new foreign currency
liberalisation regime had failed to stabilise the local currency.

Six weeks have passed since the Reserve Bank floated the exchange rate
under the willing buyer, willing seller twinning arrangement.

This week all four foreign exchange markets were trading at above $1
billion dollars for one US dollar, as demand far outstripped supply in the
foreign exchange-starved market.

The four markets are the Old Mutual Implied Rate (OMIR), the official
interbank, the cash parallel market and Real Time Gross Settlement System
(RTGS).

The OMIR rate closed Tuesday at $1 746 899 809 after having opened
trading at Monday's rate of $967 480 942.

The OMIR rate is used by some companies to do business transactions
and track the true value of the Zimbabwean dollar.

The rate surged even further on Wednesday when it rose to an
unprecedented high of $3,9 billion before registering a slight decline to
close at $3 047 030 834 last night. It is expected to surge next week.

The official interbank rate surpassed a billion dollars yesterday with
most banks trading slightly above the mark. ABC Bank was trading at $1,1
billion for the US dollar while ZABG and Standard Chartered were just over
$1 billion.

A handful of banks were trading at slightly below the $1 billion mark
by midday yesterday but were poised to exceed the barrier by close of day.

Kingdom Bank was buying the greenback at $995 million and selling at
$1 099 000 000 while Stanbic was buying at $990 million and selling at $992
million.

The two thriving parallel markets could not be matched by the
interbank system and still held its lead throughout the week.

On the cash parallel market, dealers were buying the US dollar at
rates between $1,1 billion and $1,2 billion yesterday.

Parallel market dealers on the RTGS market were buying the US dollar
at $1,8 billion yesterday.

The RTGS rate for Tuesday was $1,2 billion before rising to Wednesday's
rate of $1,6 billion.

Analysts and economists warned that the spectacular crash of the
dollar would be an acid test for Governor Gideon Gono who is likely to face
a backlash from fiscal authorities ahead of the presidential runoff election
pitting President Robert Mugabe against the MDC's Morgan Tsvangirai.

Mugabe, desperately seeking to win after tasting defeat on March 29,
has been attacking businesses for rising prices. He has accused companies of
running a regime change agenda. Mugabe has promised to unleash a second
price blitz akin to the one which left most companies tottering on the brink
of collapse in July last year.

Most companies are yet to recover from the impact of that blitz which
left most shops empty.

For their part companies have complained that they are unable to
access foreign currency from banks.

They insisted that despite the liberalisation the market is still
facing a serious shortage of foreign currency.

Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries (CZI) president Callisto Jokonya
told businessdigest three weeks ago that companies were failing to access
foreign currency from banks.

Banks are not selling their foreign currency. Even in cases that they
sell it is difficult for most companies to get a share of the foreign
currency.

On the other hand, the National Incomes and Pricing Commission
believes industry has been receiving foreign currency from the banking
system but is still hiking prices. NIPC chairman, Godwills Masimirembwa, is
on record accusing industry of "betrayal".

This has raised questions in government and industry circles as to
where the foreign currency traded in the interbank system is going.
Furthermore, some senior government officials are keen to understand why the
rate has been
rising rapidly when companies are failing to access the currency.

Three weeks ago five cabinet ministers met and discussed the impact
the interbank rate was having on rising prices. They resolved that the
floating of the local currency was inflationary.

"The problem is that you sell foreign currency to a bank and they don't
allow you to buy it when you need it," University of Zimbabwe business
lecturer Professor Tony Hawkins said.

Hawkins said the failure to sell foreign currency to companies by the
banks would worsen the situation. The shortages will become worse, Hawkins
said. "It is more like running on the spot," Hawkins said.

"It is pointless. There has to be some flexibility in the system and
this has to be augmented by Gono stopping the printing of money. As long as
he prints money, demand for scarce foreign currency will be high."

Meanwhile analysts have warned that the issuance of agro-cheques which
are now dispensed at most banks could increase liquidity on the
cash-oriented parallel market resulting in a further downward spiral of the
dollar.

The RBZ this week reviewed the "special cash withdrawal limit" for
farmers to $200 billion from $100 billion.

While the move is ideally prudent under the hyperinflationary
environment, the central bank's policies have often been used feed illegal
transactions in the underworld.

The interbank rate has drawn criticism from some government quarters
for causing the rise in prices. Some government officials are understood to
be clamouring for a command type of economy characterised by a fixed
exchange rate mechanism and price controls.

"The liberalisation of the new foreign exchange regime could soon be
compromised because of this surge," said one analyst.

"Gono might face criticism from his authorities because of the ripple
inflationary effects of the weakening dollar."

By Kuda Chikwanda/Bernard Mpofu


Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

'Parallel Market Unstoppable'

Zim Independent

Business
Thursday, 05 June 2008 21:55
"IT'S too late to stop the parallel market," said Naison Chikara as he
struggled to stuff a bundle of Zimbabwean dollars into his pocket.

Chikara's statement might sound too optimistic but it reflects the
attitude among those that trade foreign currency on the black market on the
streets of Harare.

These traders have every reason to believe that their "industry" is
here to stay even though the monetary authorities thought they had fixed the
black market by liberalising the foreign currency exchange three months ago.

"We will continue to push the rate until they (central bank) realise
that it's unsustainable," Chikara said.

As the rate continues to gallop there is now a belief in the market
that this liberalisation might not last after all.

An analysis of the operations of the central bank since 2003 lends
credence to this belief that the market is far from stabilising.

So many foreign exchange policies have been tried but all of them have
failed. Some have been withdrawn before they could be implemented. To track
this policy changes one has to look a governor Gideon Gono's tenure in
office since December 2003.

His tenure at the central bank has been characterised by uncertainty
on the foreign currency market.

With each monetary policy, the market has come to expect a raft of new
foreign currency policies.

Gono set up semi-weekly RBZ-controlled auctions soon after assuming
office.

These auctions, he said, would determine
the official exchange rate which had been pegged at $824 to the US
dollar in February 2003.

The rate quickly moved to $4 196 to the greenback on January 12 to end
the year at $5 730 to the US dollar through the auctions, slightly trailing
the parallel market which ended the year at $6 000 for the US dollar.

The year 2005 was to be an entirely different year as the Zimbabwe
dollar would tumble heavily against major currencies. The rate moved to $6
200 in March and then $9 000 for the US dollar in May. The parallel market
surged to $14 000 and then to $20 000 against the US dollar in respective
periods. In the same year, Gono devalued the dollar to $10 800 to the
greenback on July 18.

He then changed it to $17 600 on July 25, before pushing it down to
$24 500 on August 25. The dollar was to be devalued three more times in
2005, starting in September when it moved to $26 003, to $60 000 in November
and finally to $84 588 in December.

That did not seem to work as the parallel market continued to race
ahead. On July 18 it was $25 000, then $45 000 on August 25, $75 000 in
September, $90 000 in November and closing the year at $96 000 in December.

Gono then discontinued the RBZ currency auctions in November 2005 and
announced that market factors would determine the exchange rate.

Gono at that time said there were some players who were abusing and
tinkering with the auction floor systems. But even he had to accept that the
auctions had been quite successful, despite removing them.

The foreign currency generated in the first quarter of 2004 using the
auction system surpassed the total inflows registered in 2003. Over US$192,9
million was raised through the first quarter auctions.

On January 3, 2006, the dollar was again devalued to $85 158: US$1. It
moved to $99 201,58 on January 24 and then to $101 195,54 on April 28 where
it was to stay until July 31.

The parallel market continued to gallop to reach $550 000 on July 27.
After the revaluation exercise on August 1, 2006, in which three zeros were
lopped off the dollar, the exchange rate was moved to $250 to the US dollar
where it was to stay until August 2007.

However, a special rate of $15 000 was applied for miners, farmers,
NGOs, embassies and Zimbabweans living abroad. Meanwhile the parallel market
continued to race further ahead of the official market.

It rose from $550 to the US dollar on August 1, 2006 to $1 500 on
October 12. It then shot up to $3 200 on January 11, 2007 and on April 1, it
stood at $30 000. But it was not until June 2007 that the real madness began
on the parallel market, coinciding with government's price blitz. On June 3
US$1 was worth $55 000. Twenty days later, it took $400 000 to buy the
greenback.

The dollar was devalued again in September 2007 to $30 000 against the
US dollar. On April 30 Gono decided to do what the market had been advising
him for four years and let the dollar float. Thrilled at the prospect of
eliminating the parallel market, Gono's optimism was unfettered.

"Given the centrality of foreign exchange in the economy," Gono said,
"its pricing has to take into account the need to incentivise all its
generators to remain viable, whilst at the same time minimizing the intended
adverse consequences on the vulnerable segments of society."

He introduced the Priority Focused Foreign Currency Twinning
Arrangement, which allowed the exchange rate to float at market forces.

The interbank rate started on a high, eclipsing the parallel market in
the first week as it paid between $165 million and $185 million against
parallel market dealer rates of $120 million for the US dollar.

For the first time since Gono removed the auction system, it appeared
the public's confidence in the official system was slowly returning. Then
the tables started turning. The parallel market is back on top. There are
now fears that Gono might change policies again. Gono did not mention a time
frame for how long the current situation would prevail. He simply said the
pricing framework would respond to "contemporary developments" in the
economy. Six weeks later, the interbank rate is now $1 billion while the
parallel market was paying $1,1 billion for the US dollar.

There are no signs of the rate stabilising and economists contend that
the rate could very well be above $2 billion by June 27. Now the question on
everyone's mind is whether Gono's move to liberalise the exchange rate wasn't
"too little, too late".

University of Zimbabwe business lecturer, Professor Anthony Hawkins,
said Gono had failed to respond to the crisis in time. "He took too long to
address the crisis," Hawkins said.

"The crisis has reached unmanageable levels now. While giving him
credit for making the move to liberalise the exchange rate since it was a
move towards rationality, his decision should have been made a long time
ago."

Another Harare economist, John Robertson said the crisis was now
frightening and that at the present rate of devaluation, the Zimbabwean
dollar would trade with the US dollar above $2 billion by the end of the
month.

The new interbank rate has resulted in rising prices across the board;
some have even called it a legalisation of the parallel market.

The rising prices have attracted the anger of Mugabe who said it was a
regime change agenda. Five cabinet ministers met a month ago and blasted the
interbank rate for resulting in huge surges in prices and inflation.

Hawkins said all this, coupled with the huge increases in money supply
growth, would never result in a stabilisation of the Zimbabwean dollar.

"Unless he stops printing money, we will not get anywhere," Hawkins
said.

"Whether he will remove the interbank rate, I can't say. Only time
will tell."

Gono is still insisting that the interbank market is there to stay. In
an interview last week Gono said he was not planning any policy changes
anytime soon.

"There is no going back on the new policy. Its there to stay. We are
however aware that there are some people who are trying to manipulate the
system. We will deal with that soon," said Gono.

By Bernard Mpofu/Kuda Chikwanda


Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Who Feeds The Black Market?

Zim Independent

Business
Thursday, 05 June 2008 21:52
THE movement of the exchange rate on the black market and its ability
to withstand pressure from the banks clearly shows that it could be a long
time before this market dies.

Over the past two months the black market has become more adaptable
and stronger. The parallel market has in fact set the rate at which banks
are buying the foreign currency.

But what really makes market strong?

Perhaps the answer to this is found in the origin of this problem:
shortages. The country is not producing much foreign currency because the
key sectors like agriculture and mining have been destroyed by government
policies.

The black market is driven by the shortages of foreign currency in the
formal market. These shortages have not disappeared because the foreign
currency exchange policies have been liberalised.

Analysts said the black market will continue to exist for as long as
there is a shortage in the market.

A visit to most of the parallel market trading places in the city
indicates a sudden increase in business despite the fact that the foreign
currency trading was liberalised.

The sellers are drawn to this market by the need to make a living and
the higher returns that the business offers. The buyers are drawn to this
market by the need to sustain their businesses which are not considered to
be on the priority list of the central bank.

There is also the issue of convenience.

Whereas banks are only allowed to buy US$150 from an individual per
day the parallel market dealers don't have a limit.

Nelia Rugare who normally receives money from her brother in the
United Kingdom said she stopped changing her foreign currency with banks
after she was told she could only get her Zimdollars through transfer.

"Banks offer lower rates and there is no room for negotiation. After
standing in a queue for hours they will offer to transfer the money in your
account," said Rugare.

Her dealings with the parallel market are simple.

"All I have to do is phone them and they will come. Besides when the
days are bad I can negotiate a good rate."

John Robertson, an independent economic analyst, said as inflation
continues to rise people become desperate to lay their hands on more stable
currencies.

"A lot of people are facing difficulties, only a few people have and
are being allocated the foreign currency. People in desperate need of
foreign currency are black in the parallel market," said Robertson.

"The parallel market is doing quite well; it is still functioning and
is as active as it was before the changes. It's a function of supply and
demand. The market is still short."

Even those that are on the priority list are failing to get the
foreign currency because there just isn't enough to go round, said
Robertson.

He said some retailers who deal with strategic goods are not included
in the priority list such that they do not have a choice but to go to the
parallel market.

"Black market dealers are agents of companies which fail to get
foreign currency through the banking system probably because their reasons
do not warrant them to be on the priority list."

"These guys operate from everywhere, offices, streets or even use
their cars as offices. It is now a form of employment for some people,
especially for those who have access to foreign currency. They are not only
trading in foreign currency but are involved in all sorts of dealings
including fuel."

The other advantage is that anyone who has the courage and ability can
be a parallel market dealer as long as one can handle the arithmetic that
needs to be done.

The biggest problem at the moment is that the banks are buying but
they are not selling to the market. This means that this is a one way
market. They are buying the foreign currency to keep instead of selling.

The result is an upsurge in the parallel market which has been left to
fill the gaps left by the banks.

"Complete eradication of the parallel market will not come in easily
because of a number of factors that are attached to the formal system. The
market is a one way market and is characterised by declining confidence and
lack of trust," Chinyama said.

Already confidence in the interbank market is beginning to wane.

"People are not comfortable being asked questions, the long queues and
timing are not providing a good environment to do their transactions,"
Chinyama said.

The corruption includes some bank officials who beat the banking
system to supply the dealers with trillions of dollars to trade on the
parallel market.

"Dealers are fed by individuals because they offer convenience," said
the analyst.

"One does not have to leave his office or home to change his money.
Companies and NGOs even sell their hard currency through the black market
because it offers more."

Brains Muchemwa, an analyst with Genesis Investment Bank, said the
depreciation of the exchange rate reflects the excess liquidity in the
economy as well as increasing demand for foreign currency as some previously
suppressed sectors of the economy can afford to justify economic pricing of
goods and services.

"The exchange rate is probably always in equilibrium everyday, and it
is important to understand that it's a moving equilibrium emanating from the
behavioral equilibrium exchange rate approach reflecting supply and demand
dynamics in the economy," Muchemwa said.

By Jeslyn Dendere


Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

The Battle Of The Markets

Zim Independent

Business
Thursday, 05 June 2008 21:49
SINCE the floatation of exchange rate by the Reserve Bank four weeks
ago, the Zimbabwe dollar has experienced its highest level of volatility
yet. The Zimbabwean dollar is now trading at a rate of a billion dollars to
the greenback.

The fragile dollar has been sliding by almost 20% daily.

Analysts are predicting that the is will be worth at least $2,5
billion:US$1 well before the presidential election run-off set for June 27.

The significant acceleration of exchange rates beyond the
psychological $1 billion mark has been viewed as symptomatic of an imploding
economy, which has resulted in widespread shortages of basic commodities and
galloping inflation.

As at Tuesday June 3, Money Transfer traders were trading at 1:$2,25
billion for UK money transfers as MTAs stepped up the pressure of an
interbank market which seems to be losing steam to a resurgent parallel
market.

The floatation of the exchange rate by the central bank has received
mixed reviews.

Based on the rapid and unstable movement of exchange rate on the
parallel market and the interbank market, economic pressures may result in
the floatation policy being reviewed.

It does not look like the parallel market will disappear anytime soon.
Events over the past two months have clearly shown that the black market
might be here to stay. At least that is what the rate movement is showing.

Against all odds, the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange (ZSE) is trading on an
unprecedented high. The stock market has been on a sustained bull run for
the last couple of weeks.

The highly inflationary nature of election monetary expansion has been
responsible for the sustained movement of share prices on the local bourse.
The huge leap in the inflation figures has also been a factor.

The latest inflation figure 1 694 000% revealed in last week's edition
of this paper clearly shows that inflation is galloping at an unprecedented
level.

The rise in the inflation figures has been attributed to increased
money supply by the central bank's injection of huge and unsustainable
amounts of local currency in circulation to fund patronage activities ahead
of the June 27 presidential run-off.

With the inflation rate almost incalculable and available only on the
'black market', the challenge is to determine whether the gains on the ZSE
are worth anything in real terms.

The fundamentals have not changed. The ZSE besides reflecting an
inflationary asset bubble has been driven by negative rate of returns in
other asset classes.

The bull-run has been sustained and sometimes ferocious. Both the
industrial and the mining index are in record territory. On Tuesday, the
industrial index was up 23,4% to close at a record breaking 310 300 211
311,57 points, whilst the mining index was up 17,9% to 348 748 098 866,06
points.

At the current levels, the indexing of both indices has become as
meaningless as the value of the Zimbabwe dollar against major trading
currencies. Regardless, with a daily turnover of $3 170 067,21 billion, the
ZSE is undeniably the current epicenter of economic activity in Harare.

Making sense out of a chaotic market is not an easy task. On a basic
level however, the current rally on the Zimbabwean stock market reflects
excessive liquidity on the money market, depressed interest rates and
hyperinflation. All these have historically favoured the equities market.

This has resulted in a mania market in which prices are rising as fast
as in a fundamentally sound and coherent bull market. The greater difficulty
is separating good counters from the 'dogs' and employing stock valuation
methods which reflect the net value of a portfolio beyond the inflation
bubble. There is however a couple of cherries left for the picking.

In a chaotic market, the temptation to invest in counters trading
higher inspite of weak fundamentals is high. Although this strategy can be
profitable for speculative investors, it is hardly appropriate for long-term
positions.

An economic turnaround will benefit investors brave enough to take
strategic long-term positions (at present, any position beyond 30 days is
considered long term). The recommendation is for investors to go short on
speculative counters whilst going long on counters with strong fundamentals.
Here are some of our top five long-term picks and why?

Innscor has been one of the best performers on the ZSE in the last
couple of years. Last year, the company declared a healthy dividend whenever
it made a profit. The company is considered a cash-cow based on its strong
retail network.

Innscor is well diversified in terms of product range and branch
network. The company has regional operations in a number of African
countries earning significant sums of foreign currency. The company's
crocodile division is also a major foreign currency earner. Innscor's
balance sheet strength will allow the company to continue with its
acquisitive growth. The earnings potential of Innscor is phenomenal. For
those reasons Innscor is a long -term BUY.

Old Mutual is one of the traditional defensive stocks and currency
hedges. It is considered the bedrock of any portfolio construction. At $2,2
billion a share, our 'mutual friend' does not come cheap. For diaspora
investors interested in a firewall against the depreciation of the
Zimbabwean Dollar, Old Mutual shares are the choice pick. Old Mutual is a
fungible counter that can move up if there is an exchange rate movement
allowing it to trade at parity levels with regional and international share
prices. The counter leads the top 10 counters by Annual Value traded.

It is one of the most underrated counters on the ZSE. It earned the
reputation of a diversified conglomerate well before the establishment of
KMAL. TA is a fully-fledged investment company with a wide selection of
well-managed business activities both locally and regionally. TA is rated
10th on the ZSE in terms of capitalisation and has continued to deliver
shareholder value.

This is a star performer on the mining index, currently ranked 11th on
the ZSE in terms of capitalisation. The mining concern's diamond project
should generate significant foreign currency inflows for the company. The
company will benefit from a continued devaluation of the local currency
against major currencies. Mining and other export counters are set to be the
major beneficiaries of the floatation of exchange rates by the central bank.
Despite previous operational challenges and the shortage of spare parts, Rio
Zim is expected to emerge as one of the top 10 performers in this year.

The diversified conglomerate KMAL is the current king of the pack in
terms of performance to date. The company born out of a merger of Kingdom
Financial Holdings, Meikles Africa, Tanganda and Cotton Printers is perhaps
a successful commercial experiment in maximising value from odds and ends.
It brings in together a Bank, a tea company and a hotel chain.

Under the leadership of entrepreneur, Nigel Chanakira, KMAL is driven
by a young and ambitious management team. The KMAL share price has so far
delivered huge returns to investors. It is expected that the company will
close the year as the top performer on the ZSE.

lLance Mambondiani is an Investment Executive at Coronation Financial
Plc, an International Financial Advisory company registered in the UK
trading in Southern Africa and the United Kingdom. He can be contacted at
coronation.uk@btinternet.comThis e-mail address is being protected from
spambots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it .


Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

What A Dis'Grace' For Mugabe

Zim Independent

Opinion
Thursday, 05 June 2008 21:28
THE comments made by First Lady Grace Mugabe in Shamva and reproduced
in last week's Independent (May 30-June 5) are a disgrace.

Whenever Grace speaks at rallies, she makes an effort to insult
voters.

We hope her comments that Mugabe will never leave State House are just
part of bedroom talk between herself and "baba" that should not have been
made public.

Does Grace know the purpose of elections? No, first what does she know
about politics?

If Grace is interested in politics she should have found a
constituency, campaigned there and we would have seen how she would have
fared. Grace could learn a thing or two from politicians such as Joice
Mujuru.

Grace must not try and determine the results of the elections before
we have cast our ballots less she is accused of trying to rig the poll in
favour of "baba".

Being in State House is not a lifetime award. It is a priviledge
bestowed by the electorate on the candidate they want. This is something
that Grace appears not to have grasped from the few years that she has been
in State House courtesy of the President.

Grace is doing a bad job already as First Lady. Look at the number of
children living on the streets. What became of that Iron Mask project of
hers for orphans? We hope the orphans were not an excuse to chase off the
white owners. As if that is not enough, she has a handful of her own teenage
children in need of motherly love. Not a loose cannon making a fool of
herself. Mugabe must be embarrassed by this. No wonder ZBC edited out her
remarks from the newsclip.

Please amai, your petticoat is showing!

By Taona Donzvo who writes from Harare.


Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Uphill Task For Tsvangirai

Zim Independent

Opinion
Thursday, 05 June 2008 21:04
THE odds look stacked against MDC's presidential candidate Morgan
Tsvangirai. All the resources of the state are mounted against him.

Losing the presidential run-off to President Robert Mugabe would
probably rule out any chance of him occupying the highest office in the near
future.

Victory will prove elusive unless he does more to galvanise his
campaign than he has done to date.

The police have played their part by refusing to authorise rallies
despite the assurances made in the inter-party talks and the subsequent
amendment of Posa.

Mugabe garnered 43,2% of the vote compared to 47,9% won by Tsvangirai
in the first round ballot on March 29.

But last week's shrill declaration by Mugabe's wife, Grace, confirmed
the fears that every Zimbabwean now holds.

"Even if people vote for the MDC, Morgan Tsvangirai will never step
foot inside State House," she declared in Shamva last week.

"He will only get to hear about what it looks like inside State House
from people who have been there. Even if Baba (Mugabe) loses, he will only
leave State House to make way for someone from Zanu PF."

There have been conflicting statements from Mugabe's government over
whether he would willingly give up power in the event of defeat next month.

Addressing journalists in Kwekwe last month, Mnangagwa said Mugabe
would respect the will of voters if they end his 28-year rule in the
run-off.

"If the president loses, he will be the first one to go on national
television to acknowledge the result to the people," Mnangagwa said,
although he added that the 84-year-old leader and Zanu PF were confident
they would win the second round of voting.

"We are very, very confident we will win this election," Mnangagwa
said.

"We have lost before. In February 2000, we lost and accepted defeat.
If the President loses, we will be the first to accept the verdict of the
people. He is a very principled hero."

Mnangagwa added: "You can see how mature we are. Once ZEC (Zimbabwe
Electoral Commission) announces the result and the President has lost, I am
the chief election agent, I will go to him and say, 'Mr President you have
lost', straight. We brought democracy. We must defend it."

Besides Grace's pronouncement, Army Chief of Staff Major General
Martin Chedondo at the weekend called on soldiers to rally behind Mugabe
during the run-off.

"The constitution says the country should be protected by voting and
in the June 27 presidential election run-off pitting our defence chief
Robert Mugabe and Morgan Tsvangirai of the MDC-T, we should, therefore,
stand behind our commander-in-chief.

"Soldiers are not apolitical. Only mercenaries are apolitical. We have
signed and agreed to fight and protect the ruling party's principles of
defending the revolution. If you have other thoughts, then you should remove
that uniform."

Chedondo said the run-off presented Zimbabweans with a chance to
either protect the country's revolution and heritage or sell out to the
British and the American imperialists by voting for Tsvangirai.

Political analysts said Grace and Chedondo's statements were testimony
that Mugabe would not accept defeat and the army may use extra-judicial
means to guarantee the octogenarian leader's continued stay in power.

The analysts said the failure by Mugabe and his cabinet to censure
service chiefs who have vowed that they would not salute Tsvangirai if he
wins indicated that the Zanu PF leader and his government supported their
stance.

Zimbabwe Defence Forces chief General Constantine Chiwenga, Police
Commissioner-General Augustine Chihuri, Prisons Commissioner retired
Major-General Paradzayi Zimondi, Chedondo and Brigadier-General David
Sigauke have said they would not accept Tsvangirai if he wins.

Under the Police Act, Defence Act and the Prisons Act, police
officers, soldiers and wardens must be apolitical, but the government is yet
to take disciplinary measures against the service chiefs who have made
public their allegiance to Mugabe and Zanu PF.

That the army should be apolitical was confirmed to the Zimbabwe
Independent last month by Zimbabwe National Army (ZNA) spokesperson Major
Alphios Makotore.

Makotore said: "As clearly spelt out in the Defence Act, the ZNA is an
apolitical army which should never be used to further political aspirations
of any individual political party."

National Constitutional Assembly chairperson Lovemore Madhuku said
Mugabe would not accept defeat and was likely to hold on to the results or
force the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) to do so.

Madhuku argued that such a declaration would be followed by a hastily
arranged inauguration, enabling Mugabe to crack down on the opposition and
other dissenting voices.

"It is very unlikely that he will accept defeat," Madhuku said
recently at an event to mark Africa Day. "June 27 might actually be the
beginning of a long struggle, it will be difficult for the regime to accept
defeat."

Political scientist Michael Mhike said Grace's utterances revealed
that Mugabe could cling to power even if he loses heavily to Tsvangirai.

"I don't see how Mugabe will leave office if you go by Grace's
pronouncement," Mhike said. "Grace simply said her husband will remain in
power by hook or by crook. How Mugabe will do it is up to the hardliners in
Zanu PF and the government."

Last month, the Brussels-based International Crisis Group (ICG) said
there were fears of a coup in Zimbabwe because senior military commanders
have been instrumental in preventing a democratic transition following the
March 29 elections.

"There is growing risk of a coup either before a run-off (in a
pre-emptive move to deny Tsvangirai victory) or after a Tsvangirai win," the
ICG said.

"Indeed, this is one reason why priority should be given to a
negotiated settlement ahead of a run-off. The mediation must accordingly
address the loyalty of the security services as a priority, including the
handover of military power in a transitional government arrangement."

Bulawayo Agenda executive director Gordon Moyo said Mugabe and Zanu PF
were now addicted to power and would hold on despite the outcome of the
run-off.

"I am very cautious about whether they will let it go and hand over
power," Moyo said. "They will not allow the process of democracy to go
through . . . there is a team of people at the top that has benefited from
the system and cannot give up."

The coup theory gathered momentum in Zimbabwe after it was reported
that the army was running the government soon after the March 29 elections,
but the government dismissed it.

Information and Publicity minister Sikhanyiso Ndlovu said the army
would not fight against Zimbabweans because it was established to protect
them".

"I believe everyone in the country is aware that there is no military
junta. The soldiers are in the barracks where they belong because the
country does not fully require their services in such a peaceful
environment," Ndlovu said.

By Constantine Chimakure


Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

This Run-off Is Unnecessary

Zim Independent

Opinion
Thursday, 05 June 2008 20:21
WHEN Joram Nyathi (Candid Comment, Zimbabwe Independent, May 23)
suggested that it was pointless to vote in the June 27 presidential election
run-off I thought he was suffering from the same syndrome that has afflicted
many "learned" Zimbabweans - analysing issues too much instead of just
getting on with it and concentrating on the bigger picture.

In his hard-hitting commentary, Nyathi urged Zimbabweans to boycott an
election he thought was only aimed at fulfilling the "hollow pleasures of
only two men".

Nyathi argues that if Robert Mugabe had heeded calls for reforms
within his own Zanu PF party by standing down and letting others take over
Zanu PF and its presidential candidate would have won the March 29 election
comfortably.

Similarly, if the MDC had gone into this election as a united front
with a clear agenda they would also have beaten Mugabe and Zanu PF hands
down.

As it turns out, it is the poor Zimbabwean who is now paying the price
in this unnecessary and expensive runoff.

While Nyathi's argument is convincing, the more pragmatic among us
thought this was not the time for political point scoring.

With the way the standards of living have fallen in Zimbabwe, with
inflation over 1 000 000% and falling, surely the last thing anyone is
looking for is perfection in our political parties.

The MDC had done very well to win the House of Assembly, and with
Tsvangirai commanding a very comfortable lead in the first round, the second
round would simply remove all vestiges of Zanu PF's legacy of
maladministration and incompetence.

The realisation that Mugabe wasn't invincible after all was further
strengthened when the two formations of the MDC announced that they would
back Tsvangirai in the runoff and would also vote together in parliament.

Whatever problems we might have had with the squabbling factions of
the MDC, we thought it was more important to show Zanu PF and Robert Mugabe
the exit door and soon after begin the process of rebuilding Zimbabwe.

Calls for boycotting the elections were therefore misplaced and would
not solve anything, but help to further condemn Zimbabweans to more
suffering.

But everything came crumbling down with the announcement that the two
formations of the MDC had decided to field separate candidates in the three
by-elections to be held at the same time as the presidential run-off.

The MDC-T grouping even fielded two candidates in one constituency.

Everyone knows that the reason why the MDC did not win more seats in
parliament and also why Tsvangirai failed to get the required majority was
because of the split votes.

Most of the over 8% of the votes attributed to the other presidential
aspirant Simba Makoni were actually disgruntled potential MDC voters who
were fed up with the squabbling and apparent lack of direction within the
opposition.

At the very least, one would have expected that they had learnt their
lesson and, given another chance, they would do things differently.

It is interesting to note that while the MDC candidates were filing
their papers, Morgan Tsvangirai was addressing an MDC parliamentary caucus
meeting where he laid out an impressive recovery agenda for the country.

But when viewed against the latest developments, Tsvangirai's speech
appears hollow and does nothing to inspire a sizeable number of people who
have continued to question his leadership abilities.

For sure Zanu PF belongs to the dustbin of Zimbabwean history, but if
the MDC cannot agree on the allocation of a few parliamentary seats what
hope do we have that they would be different from Zanu PF?

The results of the first round showed that people no longer buy the
warped, skewed and nauseating Zanu PF anti-Western propaganda.

But the MDC should begin to earn their own respect from people,
instead of just relying on the anti-Zanu PF sentiment currently prevailing.

Unless changes are made in the run-up to the run-off, I believe it is
testing people's patience too much to continue asking them to vote for the
MDC without questioning some of the decisions.

Under the circumstances, one is forced to accept Nyathi's view that
this run-off is unnecessary and would not change anything, whatever the
outcome.

The only people who will profit from it are politicians who think of
their careers and political profiles ahead of the lives of the people they
purport to care about.

*Taivo writes from the UK.


Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Candid Comment: Presidential Run-off Poll A Farce

Zim Independent

Comment
Thursday, 05 June 2008 21:24
IT is becoming increasingly clear the looming presidential election
run-off will be a monumental charade. By every measure at the moment it is
as plain as a pikestaff that the election will be a farce.

It will probably be the biggest sham poll since Independence in 1980.

There has been a rapid dramatic change in the objective conditions on
the ground since the controversial March elections which shocked President
Robert Mugabe and his now vanquished Zanu PF. The situation remains in a
state of flux three weeks before the run-off and it can only get worse.

In his do-or-die battle for political survival, Mugabe is lashing out
in every direction. All the state instruments of coercion at his command
have been mobilised and deployed to prevent his looming Waterloo. There is a
covert but brutal military campaign for him going on.

Thus political repression is fast rising. Opposition leaders and
supporters, civil society activists, diplomats, journalists and ordinary
dissenters have been arrested on a massive scale. This entrenched pattern of
repression is aimed at creating a climate of fear before the critical
run-off.

On Wednesday, repression intensified after opposition Movement for
Democratic Change (MDC) leader Morgan Tsvangirai was arrested in Lupane on
his campaign trail in the south-western region. Prior to that he had been
blocked on Tuesday from holding rallies in the same region that has become
the main opposition stronghold.

Any opposition leader who currently wants to win an election has to
carry with him the region where Mugabe is always a write-off before every
poll. Mugabe only manages to pick up votes in Matabeleland due to the lack
of strategy and division in the opposition ranks, otherwise he would be a
spectacular disaster all the time. Tsvangirai's rallies are being
systematically blocked to prevent him from campaigning. Mugabe is laying the
ground to grab victory by fair means or foul. This is one election which
Tsvangirai can only win through sacrifice, although it is his to win or
lose.

It is self-evident what Mugabe and his diehard military backers are
planning. If Tsvangirai and his advisors - some of whom are clearly
misleading him for narrow political and economic interests - can't see this,
then we have another big problem, besides the Mugabe tragedy.

The trouble with the Tsvangirai campaign this time round - as opposed
to the period before the March elections - is that it has been totally
hijacked by a retinue of ghostly manipulators, including money-grubbers
holed up in the posh suburbs of Johannesburg, while alienating his main
pillars of support and eroding the local support base. This has weakened his
rally to victory - hitherto clearly within reach in view of his historic
advantage in this first poll.

Can anyone explain convincingly why there is no united front or a
broad-based opposition movement behind Tsvangirai's current campaign when it
is obvious this would be his best insurance against violence and fraud?

However, this is not the real problem, although it might turn out be
in the end. Mugabe might eventually storm back to power through a
smash-and-grab approach unwittingly aided and abetted by the opposition's
acts of commission or omission. If Tsvangirai and his allies join forces in
a serious way, Mugabe would simply be unable to win even through his warlike
strategy. The military-style tactics cannot overwhelm people's irresistible
power. Coordinated popular opinion and action is more powerful than the
military.

Tsvangirai shouldn't fail to capitalise on the economic meltdown and
all the opposition forces and tools at his disposal. So far he is not using
these tools to his advantage. The other opposition groups and leaders are
compounding the problem. There is everywhere in the opposition camp an
evident absence of strategy.

The only redeeming advantage though is that there is a sea change of
popular opinion against Mugabe because of his disastrous failures which he
can't change. Tsvangirai on that account remains firmly on course, but needs
to win because of himself, not despite himself. That requires a winning
formula.

The situation is exacerbated by the poisoned electoral environment.
Political violence and systematic attempts to manipulate the run-off outcome
will ensure the poll becomes an elaborate smokescreen of smuggling Mugabe
back into power through the backdoor.

We would all readily agree this is not an election at all by any
stretch of the imagination if we knew what was going on. How can you have an
election in which one of the candidates is not just using state resources,
but a whole military machinery to campaign and blocking the opposition from
holding rallies or appearing on television? Massive economic, social, and
security resources have been marshalled and channelled to support Mugabe's
bid which could be doomed to fail if he is left to campaign by himself.

Mugabe has done this before, especially in 1985, but the scale of this
campaign is extraordinary and frightening.

If no blood was being spilt and the future of the country not at
stake, this would be a compelling circus, not an election.

For Tsvangirai to win the run-off and take over, he will definitely
need Churchillian courage and determination. Nothing short of this will
suffice.


Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Comment: Failure To Unite May Prove Costly

Zim Independent

Comment
Thursday, 05 June 2008 21:21
THE move by the two factions of the MDC to field separate candidates
in three parliamentary by-elections to be held concurrently with the June 27
presidential election run-off between President Robert Mugabe and Morgan
Tsvangirai has dampened hopes that the camps would forge a strong front
against Zanu PF.

With about three weeks before the run-off, the two factions failed to
demonstrate to the electorate their unity of purpose to dump Mugabe to the
dustbin of political history by nominating different candidates for Gwanda
South, Redcliff and Mpopoma-Pelandaba constituencies.

This is despite the fact the two factions signed a parliamentary pact
soon after the March 29 elections that clearly spelt out that they would
form a coalition in the House and would work as a united front to enhance
the oversight role of parliament.

They also agreed that they would have a single parliamentary caucus
and chief whip to goad the two camps' legislators into pursuing the
interests of the parties and that of the electorate at large.

The pact came about after the two factions together won 109 seats in
the House of Assembly against Zanu PF's 97 - ending the ruling party's 28
years control of parliament. The deal was also spurred by the realisation
that the factions' failure to unite before the March 29 elections had cost
Tsvangirai an outright presidential victory against Mugabe.

The Arthur Mutambara-led faction backed independent presidential
hopeful Simba Makoni who won 8,3% of the presidential votes cast. If Makoni's
votes had gone to Tsvangirai, the opposition leader would have garnered
56,2% votes - more than the legal requirement to assume the presidency.

Last Friday, at the close of nomination courts, the two formations of
the MDC once again chose to advertise to the electorate their differences
and not their unity of purpose to confront the Zanu PF colossus

While the electorate hoped that the two factions would field a single
candidate in each of the three constituencies, Mpopoma-Pelandaba, Gwanda
South and Redcliff, the camps decided to go their separate ways and
nominated different candidates. The fielding of different candidates has
very little to do with the quest for democratisation. It is generally
instructed by irreconcilable disagreements between certain leaders in the
two formations, which has nothing to do with the expectations of the
electorate.

The nomination of different candidates put into question the level of
cooperation between the two factions and gave weight to assertions that
Mutambara and Tsvangirai signed the parliamentary pact in South Africa
without having consulted their party structures.

The pact seems to have no blessings from party organs and had little
effect on the level of cooperation between the factions on elections. This
was confirmed by Mutambara camp's secretary-general Welshman Ncube.

Ncube at the weekend ruled out the possibility of the factions
fielding single candidates in the near future arguing that the factions were
separate and would remain separate entities. He said there was "never an
agreement on parliamentary candidates".

The failure by the factions to field single candidates may prove
costly to them in the by-elections. It is crystal clear that this decision
would result in vote splitting between the two MDC factions - a move that
may benefit Zanu PF, which desperately needs to win the three seats at
stake.

On the other hand, the combined MDC may lose the opportunity to
increase its numbers in the House of Assembly. Politics is a game of numbers
and the factions should have taken that into serious consideration before
the nomination courts sat last Friday. It remains unclear how the factions
would coordinate and run Tsvangirai's run-off campaign having failed to come
to an understanding on a simple issue of parliamentary candidates.

A presidential election, especially against a crafty politician like
Mugabe, needs a united opposition that pulls in one direction, but it seems
the two MDC factions are still buried in mediaeval politics of bickering.
This does not inspire any confidence that the two formations can co-operate
meaningfully in parliament. The three by-elections presented a good
opportunity for the two formations to test-run their co-operation and
cohesion. This opportunity has been sacrificed on the altar of selfish
political brinksmanship.

To add to the embarrassing state of our opposition, Simba Makoni of
the Mavambo project is still undecided about whether to support Tsvangirai
or not in the run-off. What is he waiting for? This is the nature of our
opposition; fragmentation and procrastination while the backyard is burning.


Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Editor's Memo: Mugabe Now A Parody Of Himself

Zim Independent

Comment
Thursday, 05 June 2008 21:08
INCERITY and sanctimony are familiar tunes played by the United
Nations. This week some 40 heads of state and government gathered in Rome
for a three-day conference to discuss the worsening global food crisis.

The core business of the summit -to find ways to produce more food for
the ever growing number of mouths to feed - was superseded by rude irony.

It came in the form of President Mugabe whose land reform programme is
credited with the current food shortages in the country. Zimbabwe, once
self-sufficient in food production is now donor-dependent.

While the European Union has banned Mugabe, the UN has not. Therefore
Mugabe this week had his place in the sun - deep in enemy territory, albeit
to fight a battle he can't win.

From the day Mugabe arrived on Tuesday, European leaders and even
Third World diplomats regarded him ominously, declaring that they would not
shake his hand or talk to him. Press reports from Rome said Mugabe's name
was missing from the list of heads of state who were invited to a dinner
hosted by the Italian government and United Nations secretary- general Ban
Ki-moon.

Mugabe exercised his right to address the summit and produced his
usual soporific monologue crafted to situate himself as a victim of Western
conspiracies designed to effect regime change in Zimbabwe. Even the current
food shortages in Zimbabwe have their roots in the grand plan by Britain and
the United States to remove the Zanu PF government, according to Mugabe.

He has become a parody of himself. But he still wants to be regarded
as a hero in Western capitals because he has been there before. In the 1980s
they celebrated him as a liberator, a thinker and a champion of social
progress. In 1988 Mugabe was named as winner of a prize given to African
leaders who had worked to increase food production and end hunger. The prize
was awarded by the Hunger Project, a New York-based international
philanthropic organisation committed to fighting world hunger.

Then Mugabe basked in the international limelight. The citation read
on the day he was awarded the prize described Zimbabwe as "the agricultural
success story'' of Africa. In praise of Zimbabwe's self-sufficiency in food
production, the citation said Mugabe's agricultural programmes ''pointed the
way not only for Zimbabwe but for the entire African continent''.

The Hunger Project said the prize was intended to call attention to
the largely unnoticed efforts of Africans who are making a contribution to
the fight against hunger. At a banquet held in his honour at the New York
Hilton Hotel, Mugabe credited his country's agricultural successes to the
resettlement programme which his government had embarked on after
Independence in 1980.

''The struggle against hunger and malnutrition is also a function of
democracy,'' Mugabe said. "Under majority rule, Zimbabwe had reversed a
situation where deprivation and hunger existed side by side with affluence
and opulence."

He said the rural resettlement programme had succeeded by bringing ''the
peasant and the small landholder into the cash economy on terms and
conditions favourably comparable to those of the large-scale commercial
farmer''.

Ideally Mugabe should have gone to Rome this week as senior statesman
who had walked the path of success in food security. His word on food
security would have been law as a leader who had led Zimbabwe to be a great
African success in producing food. Twenty years ago, the world listened when
Mugabe spoke on food security.

The country had full silos, abundant and affordable food in
supermarkets and we exported grain to the region. But Mugabe today has to
fight for recognition. His resettlement programme is universally regarded as
a disaster. Yet he still expects to get the kudos even without food on the
shelves and the country surviving on imports from Malawi and Zambia and
handouts from donor states.

When our dear leader spoke in Rome this week his was a diatribe
ringing with bitterness and exhibiting stunning disengagement with the
situation on the ground. Mugabe still believes that the failed policy on
farming can still return this country to the prosperity of 20 years ago.

In Rome he presented the inventory of goodies his government has
dished out to farmers in the hope of spurring productivity. There are more
goodies in the pipeline for the farmers and predictably more pressure on the
fiscus to import maize and wheat.

Last week in Victoria Falls at the Chamber of Mines AGM, one speaker,
Ray Gowera, drove home the point through choice punch lines like "purposeful
social systems are capable of recreating their future. They do so by
redesigning themselves".

He added: "Designers seek to choose rather than predict the future."
To this end he surmised: "A bumper harvest is not predicted, it is planned.
A country which wants to achieve a bumper harvest must find a way to control
water and not rely on rain." well said


Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Erich Bloch: Constructive Indigenisation

Zim Independent

Comment
Thursday, 05 June 2008 20:17
IT is untenable that more that four-fifths of Zimbabwe's employable
population is without formal sector employment, that a third of its adult
Zimbabweans live beyond Zimbabwe's borders in order to generate a livelihood
for themselves, their families and other dependants, and that less than 1%
of the population is possessed of any ownership of businesses or other
economic enterprises, in whole or in part, exclusive of informal sector
operations.

This unsatisfactory circumstance is exacerbated by the fact that
Zimbabwe has very immense potential wealth. Its land was proven, over more
than a century, to be extraordinarily fertile, if properly cared for and
effectively worked.

So great was that fertility that Zimbabwe sustained not only its own
people, but was also the breadbasket for the region. Zimbabwe was the world's
second largest producer of quality tobacco, a major exporter of prime beef,
renowned for its citrus exports, a substantive supplier of diverse
horticultural products to the European Union in general, and to the United
Kingdom in particular.

All these were but a few of the vast array of the top-of-the-market
agricultural products that Zimbabwe's lands yielded for many decades.

But agriculture is but one of the remarkable sources of potential
Zimbabwean wealth. Beneath its outstandingly fertile soils lies a plethora
of very great mineral wealth, but Zimbabwe has barely resorted to exploiting
that wealth reservoir. Zimbabwe could rapidly become the world's greatest
producer of quality platinum, with ore reserves markedly greater than those
remaining in South Africa.

It could meet the entirety of Southern Africa's energy needs for many,
many years by viable exploitation of vast methane gas fields. It could be
amongst the world's major producers of gold, gemstone diamonds, nickel, and
of many other precious, semi-precious, and base minerals and metals.

Zimbabwe has a remarkable tourism resource, ranging from the unique
magnificence and splendour of Victoria Falls, the thrills and excitements of
Hwange, Matusadona, Ghonerazou and other wildlife national parks, the mystic
of Great Zimbabwe, the sombre and spellbinding beauty of Matopos, the scenic
radiance of Lake Kariba, Nyanga, Vumba and Chimanimani, and much, much else.
But the extent of exploitation of this tourism richness is minimal, as
compared to the potential.

Despite the distressed economic circumstances of Zimbabwe since
nevertheless Zimbabwe still has the secondmost developed industrial
infrastructure in the region, albeit fast ageing, and weakened by the
magnitude of the brain drain and, therefore, of the loss of the skills
necessary to operate that industrialised infrastructure to best advantage,
and also weakened by the rapidly collapsing state-controlled energy, water,
and allied resources.

And, if all Zimbabwe's agricultural, mining, tourism and manufacturing
resources were exploited to maximum advantage, by the economic empowerment
of the very many with the latent skills and abilities, then other economic
sectors, including the distributive, financial and services sectors, would
also develop and grow very considerably, yielding yet further many
opportunities of economic empowerment for Zimbabwe's populace.

With these circumstances, none can credibly challenge government's
espoused intent to ensure economic empowerment for the Zimbabwean people.

That intent has been declared by government recurrently since
Independence in April 1980, but for much of that period not only did
government do nothing to turn its declared intent into reality, but
government also so destroyed and undermined the economy and its potential
that instead of an economic empowerment enabling environment being created,
naught but obstacles and hurdles to that empowerment were created.

Finally, in 2000, government made first moves towards indigenous
economic empowerment, but did so in a devastatingly disastrous,
counterproductive and damaging manner. It embarked upon an unjust,
foolhardy, self-edifying and self-enriching land reform programme.

It brought to near total destruction the near-totality of agriculture,
which was the very foundation of the economy, but effectively empowered very
few.

In theory, Zimbabwe now has about 300 000 indigenous farmers, but over
20 million hectares of fertile lands are not worked, most of those new
farmers are non-producers, and in the process Zimbabwe has not only lost its
wealth of skilled agriculturalists, but it has also demonstrated to the
world its disregard for property rights, and thereby demotivated potential
investment into Zimbabwe, and provoked the withholding of loans and lines of
credit.

It also irrefutably evidenced to the world its inability to honour its
own commitments, for many of the lands that it expropriated were lands which
had been purchased by farmers since Independence under governmental
Certificates of No Interest.

Having failed dismally to achieve successful indigenous agricultural
economic empowerment, government turned its attention to the other economic
sectors.

It bulldozed through parliament and the senate, in September/October
2007, the Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment Act, although almost five
months then elapsed before it received presidential assent. Then, presumably
in anticipation of the forthcoming presidential run-off election, the
effective date of the Act was promulgated.

All of this was accompanied by great rhetoric from the President, many
of his ministers, and other Zanu PF hierarchy, that the economically
unempowered would soon benefit by wealth transferral to them from those
presently economically empowered in general, and from foreigners in
particular.

The result has been to bring to a near total end both Foreign Direct
Investment, and domestic investment, concurrently with intensified
withholding of international lines of credit and loans.

None should challenge endeavours to achieve indigenous economic
empowerment, provided it occurs justly and equitably, without national
economic prejudice, by government and others achieving this by facilitation
and enablement, but not by expropriation and economic oppression and
deprivation.

Constructive indigenisation is meritorious and nationally
advantageous; expropriative and enforced indigenisation will be a further
nail in Zimbabwe's economic coffin, already substantially nailed by the
destruction of agriculture, the disregard for human rights, contempt for law
and order, lip-service but non-adherence to fundamental principles of
democracy, and alienation of most of the international community.

Government must belatedly see the light, and place national needs
ahead of its own.


Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Muckraker: Zim's Sore Losers Continue To Tell Whoppers

Zim Independent

Comment
Thursday, 05 June 2008 20:08
IT'S not often these days that Zimbabwe's First Couple get to travel
to a European capital, so the invitation from the FAO to attend its world
summit on food security must have come like manna from heaven.

Rome in early summer is bliss, especially for the faithful. But
anybody who attacks the Western media as often and as virulently as
President Mugabe must expect some scrutiny from the same media when basking
in the comfort of the five-star Ambasciatore Hotel. The BBC reported as
follows:

"While Zimbabwe's Robert Mugabe has tried to keep a low profile thus
far, he and his entourage have finally emerged into the spotlight from the
five-star Ambasciatore, one of Rome's finest hotels. The restaurant
reputedly serves up the very best of Italian cuisine and the wine-cellar is
stocked to meet the requirements of the most discerning palates. But
whatever Mr Mugabe and his hand-picked delegation are enjoying, there is no
doubt that for the next few days they will be living the sort of life the
average Zimbabwean can only dream of.

"His companions are acutely aware of how this looks. One member of
staff at the hotel, who did not want to be named, claims the delegation have
even brought their own food and chef. He claimed a row had broken out over
the cost of a cup of tea though neither the hotel nor the delegation would
confirm the staff member's comments.

"The European Union has a longstanding travel ban on the veteran
leader but he is allowed to attend UN summits. The Food and Agriculture
Organisation of the United Nations that is hosting the summit said all
member countries were invited and that it is at the discretion of each
member state who they decide to send. In an interview with the BBC, FAO
director-general Jacque Diouf refused to be drawn on whether Mr Mugabe's
presence here might be unhelpful. But Britain's International Development
secretary Douglas Alexander did not pull his punches. He labelled Mr Mugabe's
presence 'highly inappropriate'. 'This is a UN meeting taking place on UN
premises', Mr Alexander said.

"'But I think we must state unequivocally that we don't see Mugabe as
gaining any legitimacy from attending this meeting when four million of his
people require food aid as a direct consequence of his profound misrule of
the country'."

Then there was the matter of the dinner party that Zimbabwe's leader
was not invited to.

Reuters reported as follows: "The Italian and UN hosts of a UN crisis
summit on rising food prices on Monday left the presidents of Zimbabwe and
Iran off the guest list of a ceremonial dinner for the leaders attending the
meeting.

"And Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, on his first visit to Western Europe as
Iranian president, made sure of a frosty welcome by offending Israel on the
eve of his departure.

"Neither was named on the list of guests for the official dinner being
given on Tuesday by Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi and UN
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon for the heads of state attending the June 3-5
summit, Italian media reported.

"Western ministers said Mugabe was responsible for the food shortages
faced by millions in Zimbabwe's shattered economy. 'We will not allow the
millions of people who can no longer afford a normal meal to be held hostage
by Mugabe', said Dutch Development Minister Bert Koenders.

"Alexander said four million Zimbabweans had to rely on food aid
because of Mugabe's policies. 'This is not a man with any credibility or any
contribution to a discussion on international food', he said."

Perhaps Mugabe will bring some Italian food back with him. Muckraker
would be happy with a packet of crisps.

Necessity is the mother of invention, it is said, and the state media
is certainly full of inventions these days. On Sunday the Sunday Mail
carried a story claiming that senior MDC officials had been recruiting young
Zimbabweans in South Africa who are being deployed to cause terror in
Zimbabwe.

"Some of the youths are recruited from universities in South Africa
while others are Zimbabwe National Army deserters and former policemen," the
paper told us without attributing the story to anybody in particular.

Have these desertions been confirmed by the ZNA? Apart from the
"terror campaign", the youths had been deployed to hold demonstrations
outside the Zimbabwe embassy in Pretoria and to attack Zimbabweans in South
Africa in the hope of forcing them to come back to Zimbabwe and vote in the
June 27 presidential run-off, the paper claimed without explaining how they
would be able to do that if they were not registered voters.

Some are quartered at a farm outside Pretoria while a second group was
based on a farm near Pietermaritzburg where they are being trained by former
Rhodesian Selous Scouts, the Sunday Mail said.

A "government source" said the xenophobic attacks being carried out in
South Africa against Zimbabweans were designed to put pressure on President
Thabo Mbeki to take "a tough stance against Zimbabwe".

We are not told who the government source was disseminating such
pernicious disinformation but further down in the story we have George
Charamba "confirming" that government had received reports on the existence
of the underground structures which were being investigated.

"Unfortunately for them (MDC)," Charamba declared, "the whole
operation misfired, degrading it into indiscriminate and gratuitous violence
against all and sundry including South Africans.Our security structures are
working hand-in-glove (sic) with their counterparts in South Africa and we
are expecting results very soon," Charamba told the Sunday Mail.

Does anybody recall the story last March about MDC youths being
trained on South African farms that fell apart in court because the state
had no evidence to support it?

This looks suspiciously like a warmed-up version of that story. But
will the South Africans want to be implicated in Zanu PF's dubious
inventions, especially now that every self-respecting politician down there
has dismissed the "Third Force" claims?

Irrespective of the absence of evidence, fables continue to be
manufactured by the ruling party's propaganda machine. And the facts are not
allowed to get in the way of a good story.

For instance on Sunday Tafataona Mahoso wrote about a US ambassador
coming to consult with James McGee.

"The Herald newspaper did well on May 28 when it alerted the nation to
the meetings being held in South Africa, Botswana and Zimbabwe, meetings
being convened by two US ambassadors (James McGee and Patrick Kelly Diskin)
and the UK ambassador to Zimbabwe, Mr Andrew Pocock."

The Herald had written a story about Diskin, who it said was US
ambassador to South Africa, "sneaking into Zimbabwe" via the Plumtree border
post to hold talks with McGee. The British ambassador was also implicated.

In fact Diskin turned out to be a senior USAid official coming to
consult on food requirements.

So Mahoso, who claims to preside over ethical conduct in the media,
congratulated the Herald on a false story! He then proceeded to ignore the
US embassy statement that Diskin was not ambassador to South Africa, carried
in the Herald the following day, and wrote his entire African Focus ramble
on the basis of this error.

It is now quite self-evidently government policy to refuse to correct
mistakes. For instance on Monday the Herald slipped into its anchor story on
President Mwanawasa a paragraph saying: "In a letter dated April 3 2008,
written to MDC-T leader Morgan Tsvangirai, (British prime minister Gordon)
Brown revealed that he was lobbying Sadc to pressure the government and have
the Security Council impose sanctions on Zimbabwe vindicating the view that
Mr Mwanawasa had been compromised."

Only if the story was true in the first place. But as we now know the
Herald published a letter from the British Embassy on April 18 pointing out
that the so-called letter from Brown was a clumsy forgery. And by the way,
it was purported to have been written on April 9, not April 3.

Still, the Herald wasn't going to let the facts get in the way of its
role as a suborned mouthpiece of President Mugabe's election campaign.

As Mugabe's predicament becomes more precarious with each passing day,
so the stories become more deceitful. Please can the Media Monitoring
Project keep a record of these fabrications so we can one day hold those
responsible for such brazen breaches of media ethics accountable. Does
anybody remember reports of the bombing of tall buildings and anthrax?

Meanwhile, ZEC is asleep on the job. Clause 12 of the amended
Electoral Act empowers the Commission to regulate the conduct of the news
media in relation to elections. Public broadcasters are obliged to afford
parties and candidates free access to their services. The media should be
"reasonably fair, impartial and restrained in their reporting of elections",
the Act says.

Is that the situation at present? Is the official media fair and
impartial?

Muckraker is having difficulty fathoming the thinking of a party whose
armed thugs beat up 86-year-old women and set livestock alight. Are these
losers or what?

We now have senior security officers competing to see who can most
loudly betray their constitutional obligations and professionalism. Why are
they so unsure of the political loyalties of their subordinates that they
have to make crude threats against them? Can't they be trusted to vote
wisely?

It's as if a wave of insecurity is engulfing Mugabe's closest
associates - those who want him to stay even though he has nothing to offer.
Can you imagine asking voters to endorse more inflation, more shortages,
more hardship, and more poverty? Because that's what's coming in the event
of another term.

The ruling party's organ, The Voice, says Morgan Tsvangirai's address
to MDC supporters last weekend was "badly written and riddled with
astonishing grammatical errors".

If that was the case it needs to be exposed. But is this the same
newspaper that brought us "Who will win road race in his owner?" - referring
to an event to "honour" the memory of Simon Muzenda.

Then there was "ambassadors are expected to act in accordance with
certain principals" (sic) which appeared on the front page of the May 25
edition.

We can't imagine the president would want his remarks about principles
misrepresented by his own party's paper!

This week's award for the most preposterous statement comes from Zanu
PF Bulawayo provincial chairman McLeod Tshawe who supplied this gem at the
launch in Bulawayo of Mugabe's run-off campaign and Zanu PF's
Pelandaba-Mpopoma by-election campaign: "Before 2000 there was no hunger,
but when we took our land our former oppressors started sabotaging us,"
Tshawe said. "The truth is that even with seven years of sanctions our
economy is still faring better than most countries in the Third World."

Thanks for that McLeod. We all had a good chuckle. Do you think for
one minute that the people of Bulawayo will swallow this nonsense?

A strong contender for the award this week was Information minister
Sikhanyiso Ndlovu who said: "I assure you that when parliament opens I will
be taking my place in
the august House to defend Zimbabwe together with President Mugabe."

He said MP meant Man of the People. Let's see what the people really
think. It will also be interesting to see what difference those seven
computers handed out to local schools made in the campaign. Also the
distribution of mealie-meal "ward by ward".

By the way what was Dr Sylvester Maunganidze, a director in the
Ministry of Information, doing
at a party political event of this sort?

And congratulations to the MDC - both wings - for prejudicing the
democratic hopes of the nation and being of material assistance to Zanu PF
by failing to field agreed candidates in the three by-elections to be held
on June 27.

You have once again risen to the occasion!


Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

The Herald Of Truth

Zim Independent

Letters
Thursday, 05 June 2008 21:13
WHO says the Herald does not report Zanu PF failures? It does. The
only difference is that they celebrate them as successes! How else can you
explain the following report from the Herald issue of May 29?

"Stakeholders in the agricultural sector, among them farmers and
Agritex officials, have welcomed Zesa Holdings' move to introduce a
load-shedding schedule which they say would enhance productivity during this
year's winter wheat farming season."

So farmers are over the moon because Zesa is failing to deliver? What
an insult! To make it even sweeter, the Herald says the unavailability of
electricity will do what the "war-vets" failed to do: increase agricultural
production.

Bhekimpilo Calvin Sibanda,

bhekimpilocalvin@yahoo.co.uk


Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Govt The Source Of Family Disunity

Zim Independent

Letters
Thursday, 05 June 2008 21:15
"GOVERNMENT remains committed to empowering women and enhancing the
family unit because they are critical in the development of the country,"
Women Affairs, Gender and Community Development Minister, Oppah Muchinguri
has said."

Incredible! Where does one start to critique this speech excerpt? It
seems that government has not realised its role in destroying the family
unit over the past 10 to 15 years?

Not by any stretch of the imagination could government's fiscal and
monetary interventions and their dire impact upon the economy be described
as friendly to families. Instead the blame for the wholesale disintegration
of families during this period can be laid at government's door.

Never in this nation's history have such a variety of pressures been
applied to the family unit, from parents to children, and the extended
family, across all generations. Never have families had to bear such
unmitigated financial and economic disenfranchisement as during the past
decade. Never have parents had so little to offer their children by way of
education, health, food and general quality of life. Never have children had
so little to offer their aging rural-based parents by way of sustenance and
basic medical attention, when it is most needed.

Government must take full responsibility for the exodus of its
nationals for the Diaspora. In fact Zimbabweans are now to be found on all
continents and most countries of the globe. Why have they been so scattered?
They are in search of a better quality of life for their families. And
sadly, Zimbabwe can no longer offer that.

The result is an unprecedented rupture of families as one or both
parents leave children in the custody of one parent or relatives, in pursuit
of employment or a better income. The plan is always for the remaining
family members to follow as soon as is practicable, but often a reunion
never takes place. The reunion becomes a moving target as the small single
foreign currency income is required to stretch so far that the family
reunion slips down the list of priorities.

But what happens in the meantime is that relationships suffer from
distance and time apart and soon are reduced to notional links, and
eventually only a financial bond remains. Reunion, when it comes, is
delayed, strained and often results in permanent estrangement, owing to the
lapse of time and experiences encountered along the road to providing for
the family unit.

In cases where both parents succeed in leaving for greener pastures,
children are left with relatives in whose long term care they had not been
prepared for.

The attendant psychological impact is best described by school
teachers who have had to assume a new role to assist children cope with
absentee parents and relatives who are doing their best to make the
adjustment bearable for these "Diaspora orphans".

The emotional impact of being away from home regularly and for long
stretches of time, renders one incapable of fully integrating into family
life for the time that one is home. Family members feel protective of the
nuclear unit which exists in the traveller's absence, and are resentful of
the traveller's intrusion upon their return. The only reason they are
re-admitted is that they have economic clout, and bring back with them basic
groceries in the form of sugar, cooking oil, soap, salt, etc. Family values
swept aside by the laws of demand and supply - victims of government's
management failure!

Muchinguri also said the family constitutes the basic unit of society
and they should be accorded the widest possible protection and assistance.
The question is how has government travailed in pursuit of the protection
and assistance of the family? By methodically dismantling the very
foundations of the economy thereby removing the ability of families to
provide for themselves, as a unit? The right to raise their families in a
country that offered the best quality of life in the world has been removed;
dignity replaced with grovelling, pride with rummaging in rubbish heaps for
filthy scraps.

In fact politicians have gone a step further and triggered the violent
attacks on families within our borders.

FM,

Harare.


Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Mugabe's Poster Says It All

Zim Independent

Letters
Thursday, 05 June 2008 21:17
IT is with a mixture of mirth and horror that I viewed this
"damage-control" poster which the Zanu PF propaganda machinery has vomited
up, as published in the latest Zimind (May 30-June 5).

This follows that most virulent election campaign poster "Behind the
Fist" that was plastered all over the country. What a horribly violent
election manifesto which clearly shows the Mugabe and Zanu PF mindset!

The efforts have reached farcical proportions in an effort to justify,
or to put the "correct" perspective onto this violent poster.

The admonitions by President Mugabe that "Such violence is needless
and must stop forthwith" are immediately counteracted by "Our fist is
against white imperialism". What racism and willful promotion of the very
violence he appears to eschew!

"It is a fist for the people of Zimbabwe". Presumably meaning the fist
that continues its unabated assault on the poor rural folk, the most
vulnerable of people economically and socially. By now all of us in the
urban areas will have heard the stories of the violence visited on these
poor folk.

"Never a fist against them". In Mugabe's mind-set it definitely is
them and us!

"Support comes from persuasion not from pugilism." Words spoken by the
most pugnacious of men, who delights in speaking of his "Degrees in
Violence". We should also comprehend this cruel man's definition of
"persuasion". How Murambatsvina "persuaded" the people to abandon their
homes and livelihoods for instance. And how the people today are being
"persuaded" as to who they should vote for.

Every tenet of this man's ethos lies against that of humanitarian
dignity. His only claim is that of violence and inhumanity towards all
Zimbabweans but especially the less priveleged in our society. Has he ever
spoken in public about nation-building, love, togetherness,
good-neighbourliness? He is a bitter old man and a sore loser!

Every action he and his cronies make, everywhere they tread, every
word they speak or write casts a pall of gloom over our nation.

Umbrage,

Harare.

Back to the Top
Back to Index