By James Butty
17 May 2007
The archbishop of Zimbabwe's second largest city, Bulawayo, says the church
in Zimbabwe is doing its moral duty when it criticizes the Mugabe government
for the political and economic problems afflicting the country. In a
pastoral letter last month, the Zimbabwe Catholic Bishops' Conference said
economic and political repression by the Mugabe government had left Zimbabwe
in extreme danger. In response, President Mugabe accused the bishops of
turning political and that they would be dealt with as political entities.
But Archbishop Pius Ncube told VOA that the church in Zimbabwe has a long
history of defending the rights of the poor.
"Twenty-seven years ago before he was president, already the Catholic
bishops were directing the prime minister, Ian Smith, telling him that he
was racist, and that he must rectify the situation and open political
participation and the economy to all the races. During that time, Mugabe was
happy that the Church was speaking up for freedom because he was not yet in
power. Now as soon as he's in power, he's behaving exactly the same way as
Ian Smith did. Ian Smith was saying the bishop must preach the Bible and not
dabble in politics. We are only defending the rights of the poor that they
have a right to be respected. They should not be tortured and beaten up and
broken up," he said.
President Mugabe had accused Zimbabwe's Catholic bishops of turning
political and threatened to deal with them as political entities. Archbishop
Ncube said the Mugabe government is already using other tactics against the
"For instance, we have quite a lot of missionaries, and they need their
permits for them to live in Zimbabwe. Now they have been denying permits to
some of our missionaries. Some of our missionaries have to leave the
country. They try and make life a bit unpleasant for us," he said.
Archbishop Ncube denied that the pastoral letter criticizing the Mugabe
government had caused some polarization among some bishops and priests. On
the contrary, he said it was well received.
"Generally, people say that this statement was overdue and that it was very
good that we have spoken. You know that certain elements, that is, certain
people are linked with this government, and they get4 benefits from the
government. And therefore they don't react," Archbishop Ncube said.
In criticizing the bishops' pastoral letter, Zimbabwe's minister of local
government, public works and urban development Cde Ignatius Chombo
reportedly said imperialist agents were using the Roman Catholic Church
through selected bishops to criticize President Mugabe.
But Archbishop Ncube said the government had always branded its critics as
enemies of the state.
"As soon as you tell the truth then you are a rubber stamp and a puppet of
the Western world, and this is very sad because on the African continent
there is a lot of violation of human rights. And the African leaders must
learn to take care of their people. That's all we are asking for. They can
earn their luxury; they can earn their salaries; they can earn their
benefits as leaders. But please let them take of their own people. Their own
people are being fed by the so-called imperialists," he said.
Njabulo Ncube and Nkululeko Sibanda Staff Reporter
ZANU PF heavyweights bay for commissar's blood
ELLIOT Manyika's future as ZANU PF's national political commissar hangs in
the balance as senior ruling party members, particularly those in Bulawayo
and Masvingo, push for his removal as punishment for his controversial role
in the internal politics of their provinces.
Party insiders this week spoke of moves to sideline the former Youth, Gender
and Employment Creation Minister at the party's special congress expected to
be held in the last quarter of the year. The congress will be held ahead of
next year's harmonised elections to quell discontent simmering among senior
ZANU PF politicians in Bulawayo and Masvingo.
The insiders say accusations and counter-accusations have been traded in
ruling party circles over the manner in which Manyika handled elections in
the fractious Masvingo and Bulawayo provinces to replace interim executives
led by Samuel Mumbengegwi and Macloud Tshawe respectively.
To buttress their case against Manyika, who could not be contacted for
comment throughout the past week, his foes accuse the ZANU PF political
commissar of failing to break the opposition's stranglehold on the urban
areas, and allegedly undermining provincial leadership.
Since the formation of the Movement for Democratic Change in 1999, ZANU PF
has struggled to win seats in urban areas.
"The camp opposed to Jabulani Sibanda and his war veterans has been spying
on Manyika's mission in the run-up to the aborted elections in Bulawayo and
the violent Masvingo polls, coming up with all sorts of allegations, in an
attempt to link Manyika with the Jabulani camp, which they now want to use
to get at him," said a source. "The truth of the matter is that Manyika has
just been caught up in a big political game and he might be used as a
There is no love lost between Manyika and certain factions in ZANU PF after
the national political commissar curtailed debate on President Robert
Mugabe's succession at the party's central committee meeting in March.
Reports, yet to be denied, suggest that there was a faction backing former
ZANU PF secretary for administration Emmerson Mnangagwa and another rooting
for Vice-President Joice Mujuru to succeed the party's first secretary, who
has ruled the country since independence from Britain in 1980.
The ZANU PF special conference could effectively put the matter to rest, the
Not long after the March central committee meeting, ZANU PF secretary for
administration, Didymus Mutasa, admitted for the first time that there were
divisions in the party, although he downplayed these by saying the feuding
factions had closed ranks.
Manyika has battled for weeks to heal fractures in ZANU PF and to win
popular support for the party, whose greatest rival is now the economy,
which has condemned 80 percent of the population to poverty.
Provincial executive elections in Bulawayo had to be postponed after the
process degenerated into chaos, with the interim executive being accused of
locking out some members allied to former war veterans chairman, Sibanda,
who was expelled from ZANU PF in 2004.
Efforts to audit the party's grassroots structures in Bulawayo collapsed
last weekend when supporters did not turn up. However, an audit team drawn
from other parts of Matabeleland reportedly gave a grim report on ZANU PF
support among Bulawayo voters.
Said a member of the Bulawayo interim executive: "When they came back, it
was evident that the situation on the ground was not at all rosy. Some of
them actually said there was need for a renewed campaign to lure back
supporters to the party because at the rate at which things are going, we
are at high risk of another shameful performance in the forthcoming 2008
elections in Bulawayo."
John Nkomo, the party's national chairman, was forced to preside over a
weekend meeting to calm tempers.
And in Masvingo, tensions between feuding factions degenerated into violence
in which Member of Parliament and former governor, Josaya Hungwe, was
The clashes occurred ahead of provincial elections that eventually saw Alex
Mudavanhu beating Minister Paul Mangwana to clinch the provincial chairman's
ZANU PF's Masvingo province accuses Manyika of being used by some militant
war veterans to further their interests.
However, Manyika's supporters say the scheming for his ouster is linked to
lingering resentment over his role in preventing any debate on President
Mugabe's succession. Manyika has, however, used results of the 2005
election, in which the ruling party snatched seats from the opposition, to
defend his position.
Charles Rukuni Bureau Chief
. . . Provided the playing field is even
BULAWAYO - The Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) will contest next year's
elections provided there is a level playing field, the party's national
secretary for Integration, Healing and Reconciliation, Samuel Sipepa Nkomo,
said last week.
Responding to questions at a press conference at which the Morgan Tsvangirai
faction of the MDC welcomed former deputy mayor of Bulawayo Albert Mhlanga
back to the fold, Nkomo said as a movement for democracy, the party would
get into power through elections.
All they were asking for was a level playing field and this could be
achieved by adhering to the Southern African Development Community (SADC)
principles and guidelines for democratic elections, which were adopted in
Mauritius in August 2004.
The SADC principles call for, among other things, full participation of all
citizens in the political process, freedom of association, and equal
opportunity for all political parties to access the state media.
Zimbabwe claimed that it abided by the SADC principles in the 2005
parliamentary elections in which it won a two-thirds majority but the
opposition cried foul.
Already the government has said it will not allow exiled Zimbabweans to
vote. The state-controlled media like radio and television and the country's
only two dailies give very little coverage, if any, to opposition parties.
Nkomo said it would be easier this time for Zimbabwe to abide by the SADC
principles because South African President Thabo Mbeki was spearheading the
mediation process among Zimbabwe's key players, but Mbeki has been accused
of siding with the government at the expense of the opposition.
Nkomo, however, pointed out that the government had already started
bulldozing its way by, for example, announcing a date for local government
elections without consulting anyone and while the contending parties were
still trying to iron differences.
Local Government Minister Ignatius Chombo announced at a rally in his
constituency that local government elections would be held in January. He
did not give a date and did not specify whether these would be both rural
and urban government elections.
There is widespread
speculation that parliamentary and presidential elections, which will be
held at the same time, would be held before
March to ensure that President Robert Mugabe does not remain in office
beyond his legal term.
"We are quite aware that ZANU PF has already started rigging the elections
by giving people food and using chiefs and the military to mobilise voters.
We are not going to allow this. We will meet Mbeki and discuss this," Nkomo
"Our people need time. They have to get identity
cards first, especially the youths, and then register as voters. They need
enough time to do this. We also want those in the diaspora to
be allowed to vote. All these things have to be negotiated. We also want to
a new constitution. This
might even mean having a transitional government," he said.
The ruling ZANU PF has already announced its presidential candidate and
seems intent on ambushing the opposition. South African presidential hopeful
Tokyo Sexwale this week complained that Zimbabwe's talks might collapse
because Mbeki was not being listened to.
"I'm beginning to feel my president, who's gone out on a limb, is not being
listened to," he told the British Broadcasting Corporation. "He won't fail
because he didn't try. He'll fail because he's not being listened to. It
takes two to tango."
ZIMBABWE'S tourism sector players warned this week the industry could lumber
into a fresh crisis ahead of elections next year after the United States
issued a travel warning against the country.
The travel warning on Zimbabwe was issued by the Americans due to concerns
of increased security threats following the beating of opposition party
politicians and activists as well as journalists and lawyers over the past
Zimbabwe is scheduled to hold its presidential elections in March and these
could run concurrently with parliamentary and senatorial elections due in
2010 but expected to be brought forward under a proposed harmonisation
The polls could trigger an outbreak of violence, a situation likely to lead
to the renewal of travel warnings by western countries on Zimbabwe.
Chipo Mtasa, president of the Zimbabwe Council for Tourism (ZCT), told The
Financial Gazette yesterday: "It is very disappointing and it worries us
that there are renewed (travel warnings) from our traditional markets."
President Robert Mugabe's government has branded the US and its allies
imperialists, accusing the western countries of harbouring a scheme to
unseat his government.
To deal with the unfriendly west, Mugabe had embarked on a Look East policy
under which the country has splurged billions to market the country to Asian
countries, but this initiative has been unsuccessful.
In any case, tourism sector players said Asian visitors have not been big
spenders compared with their European and American counterparts.
"Although we are looking at other markets we still consider traditional
markets to be important to us," Mtasa said. - Staff Reporter
BULAWAYO - The business sector could soon price itself out of the market
because of serious consumer resistance, the regional manager of the Consumer
Council of Zimbabwe (CCZ) in Matabeleland, Comfort Muchekeza, said this
The council has so far been unable to publish its breadbasket for April
because of escalating prices. The basket reflects the minimum amount a
family of six - father, mother and four children- requires for their basic
needs per month.
"It's a big headache. In some cases prices are going up twice a day. So by
the time our team compiles the basket, the prices gathered during the survey
are already outdated," Muchekeza said.
The Central Statistical Office said last week that the poverty datum line
had almost doubled from $937 800 in February to $1.7 million in March.
Inflation rose from 1 730 percent to 2 200 percent.
In his monetary policy review statement last month, central bank governor
Gideon Gono spoke against price controls but at the same time urged the
business sector to ensure that their pricing formulae and practices were not
fraught with profiteering tendencies that victimised consumers and propelled
He urged the government to remove subsidies on maize and wheat, but said it
should also strengthen the CCZ.
The prices of mealie meal, bread and milk have since gone up and some
commuter omnibuses increased their fares from $5 000 to $10 000 this week.
This will push the minimum daily requirement for transport to and from work,
a loaf of bread and a pint of milk to $50 000 a day.
A worker, therefore, requires more than $1 million a month just for
transport, bread and milk alone, way beyond the average minimum wage, which
is still about $200 000 a month.
Muchekeza said the business sector seemed to be forgetting that they were
milking the same cow everyday without feeding it.
"They will soon run out of business because of serious consumer resistance.
This will not be out of choice or by design but simply because the consumers
cannot afford it," he said. "I think it is better to make one cent every day
for ever than to make a million once and go bust after that."
The International Monetary Fund says Zimbabwe can get out of its economic
quagmire without external help. To do this, it needs to transfer all
quasi-fiscal activities to the government budget, unify the exchange rate,
liberalise price controls and impose strict budgetary constraints on public
Nkululeko Sibanda & Tawanda Karombo Staff Reporter
Ruling to reinstate 400 ZBC workers comes too late for some
A RULING by the Labour Court that the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation
(ZBC) must reinstate 400 workers sacked five years ago at the height of
former Information and Publicity Minister Jonathan Moyo's "political
cleansing" of the media is a typical case of justice delayed being justice
A good number of those to whom the court order should have brought redress
and relief have died in destitution and others have been forced to go into
the Diaspora to seek new ways of making a living.
But even those who are able and willing to take advantage of the court's
directive will find the ZBC to be a totally different institution from the
one they were forced to leave.
The wholesale dismissal of experienced broadcasters marked one of the
darkest periods of Moyo's reign as chief government propagandist and the
media in Zimbabwe in general is yet to recover from the ramifications of his
combative approach and policies.
Two years after Moyo's dismissal from government, the ZBC is in a quandary
as to how to deal with the consequences of what Moyo termed a "restructuring
exercise" but which turned out to be one of the most vindictive and despised
moves in his crusade against the media.
Two weeks ago, the Labour Court ruled that the employees were unfairly
dismissed and should be reinstated. But both the public broadcaster and the
Information and Publicity Ministry do not have a clue as to how to react to
Information Minister Sikhanyiso Ndlovu said he was awaiting communication
from ZBC management on the matter.
"I am in the process of talking to all the chief executive officers of the
state media to try and find ways in which we could address the welfare of
However, news of the judgment is unlikely to excite many of the former
workers - the institution that once gave them a livelihood and professional
security now resembles a shell, crippled by obsolete equipment and other
ills that have caused morale to hit rock bottom among the new crop of
broadcasters who have taken over.
Lawyers representing the retrenched workers estimate the corporation would
have to pay
$3 billion in compensation.
Many of the ejected workers have tales to tell about life under Moyo's iron
fist - late night meetings at his office and threats against those he
thought were not toeing the line. Years after his departure, the impact of
Moyo's legacy is still being felt. He replaced the retrenched experienced
workers with greenhorns only answerable to him.
This resulted in a sudden decline in standards, leaving the corporation in
financial trouble and unable to pay decent wages. Senior producers are paid
as little as $141 000 per month, which is nowhere near the $1.7 million
poverty datum line.
Key departments continue to be understaffed and the ZBC has had to rely on
students on attachment, who are paid nothing and therefore, provide cheap
Newsnet Editor-in-chief Tazzen Mandizvidza's suspension over claims that he
leaked an unedited version of President Robert Mugabe's birthday interview
The important current affairs
section currently only has two
permanent employees. As a further sign of the rot, in one instance last
week, the ZBC failed to air four
radio news bulletins because no newscasters were available.
"At times, we are running (television bulletins) with unedited pictures, we
run incomplete bulletins. The shoddy pictures on television are because all
the picture editors have left," said a senior producer.
Recently, ZBC engineers tried to stage a sit-in to protest against the state
of affairs. However, divisions that persist at the broadcaster as one of the
vestiges of Moyo's divide and rule management style ensured the move did not
ZBC chief executive officer, Henry Muradzikwa, said it was too early to
discuss his recovery plans for the broadcaster.
"I have taken a position that I will not entertain any questions at the
moment regarding issues at ZBC. I am taking that position with you as well.
Give me time to sort myself
out and then we can consider taking you (the media) through developments at
the corporation," said Muradzikwa.
Caveman's guide to life without electricity
PERHAPS the one good thing about ZESA's drastic power cut schedule is that
we still get to watch Tiriparwendo - that TV drama of the dark ages. That
way, we at least get to remember where we've been - and where the ZANU PF
government has just returned us.
The ZESA schedule could mean some households having power for only four
hours each day, between 5pm and 9pm. We had becomed so accustomed to
electricity it's become impossible to imagine life without switches and
remote control buttons. Now, we must rely on Aaron Chiundura-Moyo's history
caper for tips on how to survive without electricity.
First, the water. This week, large parts of Harare had no water after some
wise guy cut off power to Morton Jaffray. A timely warning that while we
sacrifice modern life for three months to water our wheat, taps will run
So if you cannot afford a water tank - or any of that tap water the stores
shamefully pass off as mineral water to naïve customers - then it's down to
the river for you, just like in the dark ages. Picture them, hordes of
office workers, towels in one hand and brown soap in the other, emerging
cleansed from the Mukuvisi River like Hindu pilgrims out of the Ganges.
The clever ones - the ones busy stocking up on provisions while you waste
time reading this nonsense - who would have water around the home when the
Armageddon hits, would still have to get by with candlelit baths and
And if you are still around when the dung hits the fan, then it's too late
to throw the kids into the back seat and attempt an escape. Chances are
petrol pumps have gone blank, and your usual dissident supplier down at the
gum-trees has also run dry and is slyly diluting his remaining fuel with
that oily Mukuvisi water.
Scotch carts - whose prices account for a large part of our official
inflation figures if you ask the Central Statistical Office - would have
been an option. But vehicles drawn by livestock are no longer allowed on our
So, if your family must travel, you walk. All in line - kids at the back,
Mommy second with the baby on her back and a bundle on her head, and Daddy
leading up front, carry- ing nothing but his knobkerrie, just like in the
dark ages before women's suffrage.
And then there is entertainment. Many take it for granted that they will get
home today, curl up on the sofa under a lamp with this issue of The
Financial Gazette, or reach for the remote, flick on the TV, and switch
between News Hour and today's installment of Desperate Housewives. Don't be
For those that love "going out", the restaurants and clubs are bound to run
out of diesel for generators. So it's back to biras, all night boogies round
a huge fire, just like in the dark ages.
And then there's that crucial area - food. Experts advise to keep the fridge
shut during power outages; that way, food can remain frozen for days. But
this is three months, remember, so forget the fridge.
There's an entire generation of dumb city slickers that thinks milk comes
from Bon Marché or Spar. Newsflash. The white stuff actually comes from
cows. Remember the Waterfalls woman found with a cow in the bedroom during
Murambatsvina? She doesn't seem so loony now, does she? So go get your own
cow, and get your milk fresh off the udder every morning, for the old ways
are upon us.
And there's no electric stove. Firewood? That's an option, but not for
everybody, especially not the modern suburban wife who won't risk her
three-inch nails and the million-dollar hairdo near an open flame - unless,
of course, it's a braai.
So be sure to carry home any animal you happen to kill on your way from
work. They call it "roadkill". Either you hunt and gather, or it's dried
veggies and dried meat. And dried bread, carefully broken into morsels and
passed around a candlelit table like Christ did with his men before Judas,
tired of stale bread, sold him out for just 30 pieces of silver, a real
bargain for the head of a Messiah.
Which brings us to our last tip, money. Forget all that talk from Reserve
Bank boss Gideon Gono that we must not stuff our mattresses with cash.
When the power goes out, you can be certain many ATMs will go on the blink.
Generators are not to be trusted, as half of them have long been drained of
fuel by capitalist security guards by night. Having a contingency stash of
cash will help you resist the temptation to go on a looting rampage.
Clemence Manyukwe Staff Reporter
THE latest judgment in the long-running Daily News saga shows how the
judiciary has flinched from taking the bull by the horns, allowing the paper's
ban to remain in force indefinitely despite repeatedly finding that its case
has merit and that government is violating the rights of the publishers.
Delivering the latest judgment last week, High court judge, Justice
Anne-Marie Gowora, observed that the constitutional rights of the Associated
Newspapers of Zimbabwe (ANZ), publishers of The Daily News and The Daily
News on Sunday, were being violated. But the court would still not grant the
ANZ any relief.
"I cannot deny that there is merit in the argument on behalf of the
applicant," Justice Gowora said.
However, she could not grant the ANZ's application to be deemed registered
saying this would turn the court into a "licensing authority."
The judge referred The Daily News back to the Ministry of Information and
Publicity now headed by Sikhanyiso Ndlovu despite acknowledging that the
same Ministry had previously treated the paper unfairly.
Corroborating an earlier observation by Judge President Justice Rita
Makarau, in a February 2006 ruling, that the Media and Information
Commission (MIC) was biased against The Daily News, Justice Gowora also
found that the regulator was frustrating the paper's bid to be registered.
"Given the attitude displayed by the Minister, however, it is obvious that
he does not intend to put in place measures or even change the composition
(of the MIC) in order for the registration of the applicant to be dealt with
by an impartial body. Clearly, this would be in violation of the applicant's
rights in terms of the Act and the Constitution," reads part of Justice
The judge said she found the Information Minister's conduct "surprising."
The judgment led to what one lawyer described as "sober observations".
Chris Mhike, of the legal firm Atherstone and Cook, said the courts had
failed to uphold media freedoms, despite concluding that they were being
"Although the case raises numerous remarkable and sober observations, the
decisions taken, at the end, fail, in a very sad
way, to uplift fundamental human and media rights."
Mhike said one of the judgment's key findings was that there was an
irregularity in the manner in which the MIC dealt with The Daily News
application for registration, and that because the MIC chairperson Tafataona
Mahoso, had been found to be biased, decisions made by the commission were
Another important point raised by the judge
is the failure of the
Minister of Information and Publicity to put in place a legal structure to
allow the Daily News application to be heard and determined by an impartial
Turning to the judge's refusal to rule decisively on the paper's
registration, Mhike said: "The High Court, in the latest hearing,
unfortunately refused to recognise the inescapable reality that the Daily
News case is one classical situation that justifies the intervention of the
courts of law in the interests of justice."
The Zimbabwe chapter of the Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA) said
the lack of a decisive judgment on the matter kept the case in a "vicious
Misa-Zimbabwe expressed "deep concern over the judgment, which has once
again failed to bring finality to the five-year old matter. Without doubt,
the vicious circle, in which this matter is now caught, seriously prejudices
the publishers and employees of The Daily News and The Daily News on
Since its banning in 2003, The Daily News has approached the courts six
times. The Supreme Court heard two other applications on March 14, 2005.
In a letter following Justice Makarau's judgment effectively precluding the
courts from presiding over the case, the ANZ said government should
establish a separate legal structure to decide on the matter, and indicated
the company had no intention of engaging in any further litigation.
However, the Minister's failure to comply set off another legal battle.
Misa-Zimbabwe director Rashweat Mukundu said the government was not in a
hurry to dismantle its repressive media laws. In the absence of a
court-imposed deadline to deal with the Daily News issue, the government was
likely to continue dragging its feet.
By noting the delays in dealing with
the ANZ's application, and pointing out that at one time the MIC dealt with
the issue after awakening "from slumber" Justice Gowora seems to share
the same view.
Her judgment also coincides with Mukundu's comments that the government
wants to keep its repressive institutions intact.
"The Minister accepts that due to the finding of bias made against members
of the (MIC), they could not have deliberated on the application. However,
he has taken the stance that despite the finding, he retains confidence in
them and does not wish to replace them" Justice Gowora said.
"What is, however,
surprising is that despite the finding by the
Supreme Court in 2005 that the remarks by the chairman of the commission,
prior to the application having been heard, could have created an
apprehension in the minds of reasonable people
that justice would not be done, no effort was made on the part of the
minister to put in place a legal structure or framework that would permit
the application to be heard and determined by an impartial body."
Legal experts say the judge's conclusion shows that it is only the courts
that can protect The Daily News.
Constitutional lawyer Lovemore Madhuku said the outcomes of various court
applications by The Daily News were influenced entirely by political
"It is very difficult to use the court system to get fundamental things such
as the registration of The Daily News. The deregistration was in the first
place a political decision. The judgment was influenced by political
AFRICA is battling a serious power crisis on her doorsteps, whose impact is
now more pronounced in the Sub-Saharan region, where Zimbabwe now risks
plunging into total darkness if nothing is done to improve her
In this serialised paper, presented in Maputo at the Forum of Energy
Ministers of Africa (FEMA) summit, Engineer Simba Mangwengwende, former ZESA
chief executive officer, and contributing author Dr Njeri Wamukonya, explore
the energy crisis in greater depth, providing useful insights to
THE African power sector is a microcosm of the African paradox - a continent
that is rich in everything and yet is also poor in everything. It has become
a cliché repeated ad nauseum that Africa has all the human and material
resources to end poverty but is poor in using the resources for the benefit
of all the people.
Although Africa is home to 14 percent of the world's population it only
generates and consumes 3 percent of the world's electricity. Unless there is
a radical paradigm shift in macroeconomic and energy planning and
development it is estimated that by 2020 Africans will comprise 16 percent
of the world population and yet still only account for an insignificant 3.5
percent of electricity generation in the world.
The low electricity consumption levels in Africa are due to economic
under-development and low electricity access rates. The performance of the
power sector is characterised by poor security and reliability, high
distribution losses, negative financial rates of return and poor cash
Power sector reforms have helped in providing emergency generation, but have
marginalised the local private sector and not given priority to electricity
access by the poor.
Regulatory agencies are weak and have not succeeded in making the power
sector sufficiently attractive to get adequate investment resources from the
To turn around the performance of the power sector there are three major
challenges to be addressed - replacing existing project wish lists with
bankable projects, establishing regulatory policies that improve country
investment attractiveness and establishing institutions that have clear
roles and are appropriately resourced.
Although droughts, declining terms of trade and heavy debt service burdens
are contributory factors to the security and reliability problems in the
power sector, these are all symptoms of weaknesses in planning, regulation
The paper demonstrates how bankable projects can be developed by promoting
value added manufacturing and focusing on regional projects supplying the
larger economies or exploiting economies of scale.
Because efforts to achieve the required investment levels through Official
Development Assistance (ODA) and Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) have not
met expectations, it is proposed that the way forward lies in increasing the
local private sector participation.
It is that private sector, more than government efforts, which will succeed
in increasing FDI inflows in the economy in general and the power sector in
particular. If local entrepreneurs in the power sector start making money
FDI inflows will be assured. This is one of the key messages of this paper.
To attract private sector investment it is necessary to put in place
regulations that ensure that efficient operators can make money. The
effectiveness of regulatory policies and agencies needs to be measured in
terms of the continent's ability to attract investment.
The paper concludes with general recommendations on issues that need to be
attended to at individual country levels and specific recommendations that
FEMA should take up at regional and continental level.
There is a critical need for countries to develop and disseminate
information and data required to replace project wish lists with bankable
projects that also support regional cooperation. Institutional role clarity
is essential to avoid duplication of effort and wastage of scarce human and
financial resources. The importance of developing the capacity of the local
private sector is emphasised.
The African Power Sector is facing development challenges at a time when
there is greater awareness of the adverse impacts of the different energy
resources on the environment.
Africa has an excellent chance of following a truly least-cost development
path that has minimum impact on global warming and can have the benefit of
international best practice in utility management and regulation.
African Power Sector
African Paradox - Poverty in the midst of plenty
Africa is endowed with abundant energy resources that are more than
sufficient to meet current and From Page 14
projected demand including exports for the foreseeable future.
In 2005 Africa's installed electricity generation capacity was estimated to
be just over 105 000 Megawats (MW) and energy generation just over 510
TWh/year (IAEA International Atomic Energy Agency, 2006: Annex A). This
level of demand represents energy resource utilisation levels that are a
minute fraction of what is available.
The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) has more than 400 TWh
(Terawatt)/year of economically exploitable hydropower resources, followed
by Ethiopia with 260 TWh/year and Cameroon with 103 TWh/year (WEC - World
Energy Council, 2005).
Africa has 55 billion tonnes of proven coal reserves, the bulk of which are
in South Africa (49 billion). The largest proven oil resources in Africa in
millions of barrels are in Libya (29 500), Nigeria (22 500), Algeria (10
040), Angola (5 412) and Egypt (4 150) (ibid.).
More environmentally friendly power could be generated using natural gas of
which the largest reserves in billion cubic metres are found in Algeria (4
522), Nigeria (3 515), Libya (1 313) and Egypt (1 223) (ibid.).
At present fossil fuels account for over 80 percent of the electricity
generated in Africa (Table 1).
Hydropower development is potentially the least-cost option for meeting
demand being a renewable resource with less adverse impacts on climate
change than fossil fuels. There are also associated ancillary benefits such
as irrigation, water supply, flood control, navigation and recreation.
Adverse social and environmental impacts can generally be adequately
mitigated. Other regions of the world are far ahead of Africa in exploiting
these advantages of hydropower (Table 2).
In contrast to this energy wealth Africa has the greatest energy poverty in
the world in terms of utilisation. The continent is home to 13.8 percent of
the world's population, and yet only accounts for 6 percent of the world's
energy consumption and 3 percent of electricity generated (IAEA, 2006)
(Annex A: Tables A1 & A2).
Per capita consumption of electricity is only 0.6 MWh compared to a world
average of 2.6 MWh. By 2020, unless there is a dramatic shift in the pattern
and rate of economic growth, the projection is that Africa will have over a
billion people or 15.8 percent of the world's population but its share of
electricity generated is only expected to be 3.5 percent (Ibid., Table A2,
The major contributory factor to low power consumption is the continent's
economic under-development. In 2004 Africa's total Gross Domestic Product
(GDP) was US$685 billion (2000 US$), which was less than 2 percent of the
world GDP of US$35 025 billion (IEA, 2006).
If North Africa and South Africa, which account for two thirds of Africa's
GDP, are excluded, the combined GDP of all the remaining countries in
Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) is less than that of medium sized industrialised
countries such as Turkey, Sweden or Switzerland.
The second major but related reason for the low power consumption in Africa
is the low electrification rate (Table 3) which means that the majority of
the African population do not have access to electricity. In SSA access
levels are significantly low in the rural areas.
The population that has access to electricity suffers from poor supply
quality with frequent power supply interruptions.
The power interruptions result in significant economic losses. Kenya, for
example, is estimated to lose 9 percent of its annual output to power
outages (World Bank, 2006).
The losses include the cost incurred by companies in purchasing and running
standby generating facilities. During 2000-2004, over 70 percent of the
firms in Kenya owned or shared generators.
The share of firms that own or share generators has been rising in many
other countries. In Sierra Leone for example nearly every business facility
in Freetown has a diesel generator. A significant number of businesses in
Rwanda fall in the same category and more recently this trend has been
witnessed in Ghana.
In South Africa the national utility, ESKOM, has had to bring into service
old and expensive power plants that had been mothballed.
The African power sector is also characterised by high levels of
distribution losses. The average distribution losses are 11 percent of
energy supply compared to 7 percent in the Organisation for Economic
Cooperation and Development (OECD) countries and 9 percent globally (IEA,
2004: Annex B).
Excluding South Africa, which accounts for half the continent's power
consumption but has low losses of 6 percent, the African average loss levels
rise to 15 percent. Some countries experience losses that are more than one
third to one fifth of energy generated and sent out into the system.
Although information on financial performance is generally difficult to
obtain, what is available shows that many state owned power companies
operate at huge losses and have problems in cash collection. -To be
continued next week
Economic Viewpoint with Terence Zimwara
SINCE the start of this year workers from both public and private
organisations have complained of low salaries which are now below the
poverty datum line courtesy of inflation.
In fact, previously unaffected employees such as middle and top management
have seen their earnings getting caught up in the vicious cycle of
hyperinflation which has been stalking the economy for some time now.
Previously where collective bargaining was normally done bi-annually, it has
now become impossible for workers to wait for that long especially in the
face of escalating prices of basic commodities. In the past authorities
sought to overcome this by introducing price controls or freezes along with
the freezing of incomes through an institution such as a Prices and Income
Stabilisation Commission and more recently under the auspices of the social
Employers in most privately-owned enterprises have tried tackling the
problem by having monthly salary increases and to some extent, such moves
have gone a long way in alleviating workers' plight. Such a measure has the
effect of partially cushioning employees from the constant price increases,
particularly those of essential commodities, and this indeed has proved to
be effective when one compares the quality of life of workers under this
policy and those waiting for quarterly increases.
However, this kind policy will not totally protect employees from inflation
but it only minimises the pain. This is especially true when one observes
events that occurred from the start of March through to April. The price
increases during this period showed that salary increases awarded at the
beginning of the month proved too little to cover the rate of price
increases. (First, because businesses effected price increases of between
300 to 500 percent to cover losses they thought they would incur during the
period of price and income freezes - the social contract. However as we all
know the envisaged social contract failed to come into effect while the new
prices were not reversed, thus leaving workers worse off since they had not
received a proportionate salary raise).
In mid-March the massive fall of the local currency on the parallel market
led to an upsurge of prices across all sectors of the economy and again
workers were left in a much worse position. It is against this background
that many now realise the ineffectiveness of monthly salary increases and
just recently, civil servants made a call for their salaries to be paid
These circumstances call for special methods of dealing with inflation to
the benefit of the employees and one such method is the indexing of incomes
against the consumer price index (CPI) or any index which has the special
attribute of moving equally with inflation.
Indexing salaries is the linking of salaries to CPI, meaning the worker will
receive a wage which is the same in real terms. The wage earned may rise
nominally but the real wage will not but at least the income would enable
the worker to pay for the same goods and services every month without having
to worry about price increases.
The indexing of salaries uses the same techniques and mechanisms as those
used in the indexing of stocks (for the S&P 500 index) and this may just be
what workers here need. In fact this is not a new phenomenon. Brazil and
Mexico adopted this policy in the late 90s when these economies were
overwhelmed with inflation.
In Israel this strategy was used to near perfection when that country
experienced inflation rates of nearly 500 percent in 1984. This meant that
while prices of commodities did go up, this did not unduly affect the worker
and his spending patterns because at the end of every month the real wages
did not change.
What is noteworthy from the Israeli experience is that the linking of
salaries to the consumer price index or indexing was only effected after the
policy of freezing incomes and prices failed to stop inflation precisely
because market forces were dictating the direction of the economy. After
that, the idea of linking salaries to the CPI was proposed and implemented
after the parties to the process - business organisations and labour - had
agreed to the plan.
Implementing such a programme could be costly from the point of view of most
employers but the long-term benefits far outweigh the short-term costs such
as reduction of profit levels in the case of a private organisation.
Indexing salaries with the consumer price index would help boost workers'
morale and improve industrial relations, which are currently at an all-time
low. Improved relations between workers and employers could ultimately lead
to improved productivity, thus setting the tone for the change in the
country's economic fortunes. Secondly this could help stem the massive brain
drain which has rendered the country a virtual training ground for a number
of countries since the educated are leaving in search of employment
To achieve this, the social dialogue process is the best starting point.
Parties to this process can also think of the strategy as they seek to reach
an agreement. Freezing of salaries in a hyperinflationary environment can be
a very effective tool only when it is accompanied by a measure that would
shield employees from the debilitating effects of inflation.
lTerenze Zimwara is a student in Financial Management. The ZES articles are
coordinated by Lovemore Kadenge and he can be contacted on email
Cell 091 2 980 016
Kumbirai Mafunda Senior Reporter
CONTROVERSIAL former permanent secretary Simon Pazvakavambwa has been fired
from the President's Office where he was transferred after his inglorious
exit from the Ministry of Agriculture last year.
Pazvakavambwa, who joined the President's Office following his ejection from
the Agriculture Ministry because of his role in the importation of a
consignment of inferior quality fertiliser from South Africa, was relieved
of his new duties last month. He did not get a golden handshake, as is
normally the case when high-ranking officials cut ties with their employers.
Sources said Pazvakavambwa was sacked over a number of misdemeanours, and
for being a "security nuisance".
A worker in the President's Office said yesterday that Pazvakavambwa, who
had been working in Cabinet Secretary Misheck Sibanda's office as a
secretary, had not been reporting for duty last month.
Pazvakavambwa was reluctant to discuss the issue yesterday, but confirmed
that he was no longer in government employment.
"I was retired from the public service. But no reasons were given. I was
told through the President's Office. I am a pensioner now. What choice do I
have? I think it's okay," he said.Prior to his sacking from the Ministry of
Agriculture, Pazvakavambwa had frequently clashed with senior government
officials over policy.
In 2005, he contradicted reports by his superiors on the food situation,
telling a Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries congress that the country's
grain silos held stocks to last less than a month.
As pressure mounted over the fertiliser saga, he threatened to "spill the
beans" to show how the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) and then Agriculture
Minister Joseph Made allegedly connived to import the sub-standard
The importation of the fertiliser sparked clashes between the RBZ, the Grain
Marketing Board and the Agriculture Ministry.
Njabulo Ncube Chief Political Reporter
LAWYERS in private practice in Zimbabwe are preparing what they say is a
landmark lawsuit against the police and the government while at the same
time mulling a potentially paralysing boycott of the courts countrywide to
protest the harassment of the legal fraternity.
Legal experts say the legal practitioners' planned actions could escalate
latent tensions between government and the judiciary.
In a move that sparked condemnation at home and internationally, Law Society
of Zimbabwe (LSZ) president Beatrice Mtetwa, and a number of other lawyers
were assaulted outside the High Court as they protested a series of attacks
perpetrated by the police against lawyers since March.
The previous weekend, prominent Harare lawyers Alec Muchadehama and Andrew
Makoni, who represent 13 jailed opposition activists, were arrested and
detained for three days on allegations that they had tried to obstruct the
course of justice.
During the same weekend, police beat up their own lawyer, Richard Chikosha,
apparently as punishment for consenting to the granting of bail to Makoni
On Monday, this week, prominent lawyer Jonathan Samkange was picked up in a
midnight raid on his Avondale home in Harare and detained at Rhodesville
Police Station on allegations of violating immigrations laws.
The next day, the government dropped the charges. Samkange is alleged
British mercenary Simon Mann 's defence counsel in his battle to avoid
extradition to Equatorial Guinea. Mann is accused of master-minding a coup
plot to oust President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo.
In Mutare, 10 lawyers were arrested on Tuesday and held for hours after they
undertook a protest march against the government's assault on the legal
profession. Recently, Mutare area prosecutor Levison Chikafu complained that
the police were harassing him because he prosecuted Justice Minister Patrick
Chinamasa last year during his trial on charges of obstructing the course of
justice. The minister was acquitted.
Yesterday, lawyers said they plan in their individual capacities, to sue
Home Affairs Minister Kembo Mohadi, Police Commissioner Augustine Chihuri,
and individual police officers identified as having been involved in all
recent attacks against lawyers, particularly during last Tuesday's crushing
of the lawyers' march outside the High Court.
After a number of meetings in different parts of the country this week, the
lawyers have agreed on a petition to be sent to Chinamasa, Chihuri and
Attorney-General Sobusa Gula-Ndebele, asking them to express publicly their
full support for the independence of the legal fraternity. The petition also
asks them to denounce the growing impunity of state security agents.
The proposals are expected to be endorsed tomorrow at an emergency meeting
of the national council of the Law Society.
"There is a general consensus that we sue the police, individually,
including Chihuri," said a source speaking on condition of not being named.
While admitting that there was anger within the legal profession over recent
events, Mtetwa declined to elaborate on the lawyers' plans.
"We have all these proposals and suggestions from our members, but the
national council will meet to decide," said Mtetwa. "It would be premature
for me to discuss some of these proposals in the press before the national
council meets. But one thing for sure is that members are not happy with the
continuing harassment of legal professionals."
Stenford Moyo, the president of the Southern Africa Development Community
(SADC) Lawyers Association, said the regional grouping, whose members
visited Harare last weekend on a fact-finding mission, would back any action
taken by the LSZ tomorrow.
"We are aware of proposals to sue, among others, and we are supporting them
all the way," said Moyo. "The SADC Lawyers Association is watching the
events closely. We believe the continuation of impunity should cease
There was, however, some scepticism within the legal fraternity yesterday
over the feasibility of a nationwide strike by legal officers. There were
suggestions that divisions within the profession would stall such a strike,
while others fear a court boycott would spell disaster for an already
clogged justice system.
Meanwhile, the Supreme Court will make a ruling today in a constitutional
case focusing on the urgent enforcement of High Court orders.
Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights said the case challenges the High Court's
insistence that contempt of court cases be dealt with as ordinary
applications, rather than as urgent matters.
After the arrest of Muchadehama and Makoni, police defied three court orders
for their release but the High Court declined to treat as urgent a contempt
application filed against the police.
Five Supreme Court judges will hear the case.
A ruling supporting the lawyers' position would pave the way for a flood of
contempt of court applications against the police. The MDC has several such
Dumisani Ndlela Business Editor
INVESTORS yesterday kept back their panic for a real crisis after eventually
discounting the loss of NMB Bank's authorised dealership licence, keeping
the share price for NMBZ Holdings, the bank's parent company, locked within
the $40 per share range in morning trade.
The share did not move in afternoon trade.
The share last week suffered significant losses, plunging from $92 per share
on Tuesday to $62 per share on Friday, on reports of fraud that had resulted
in the externalisation of over US$4 million.
Market watchers said the worst they had anticipated - a closure of the
financial institution - had been allayed after the central bank settled for
a withdrawal of the foreign currency dealership licence for weak controls.
Only 345 000 shares traded on the counter yesterday morning, with dealers
saying apprehensive buyers had moved out from the counter.
On Tuesday, the counter had buyers but no sellers.
"It's not as if there is a flurry of disposals," a dealer said. "But there
is obvious apprehension and this will take a bit of time before buying
resumes on the counter."
Bank officials said there had been no panic among depositors, insisting
these had been kept updated about the development even before news of the
foreign currency fraud hit the newsstands last week.
It was difficult to make an independent assessment since the majority of NMB
Bank's depositors, the majority of them corporate clients, do their banking
from their offices.
The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) penalised NMB Bank for lack of controls
by cancelling its dealership licence with effect from Tuesday.
The RBZ said the cancellation had been prompted by a breach of exchange
NMB Bank had failed to adhere to sound risk management practices, resulting
in the illegal externalisation of US$4.8 million, the RBZ said.
It did not, however, cancel the banking licence
"The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe wishes to assure the public that NMB Bank
Limited's all other local currency (ZWD) banking operations are not affected
by this cancellation. NMB Bank Limited will, therefore, subject to its own
continued soundness and adherence to internal systems and procedures,
continue to operate for all local currency transactions," the RBZ said.
It said all outstanding foreign currency transactions by the bank had to be
"wound down through authorised dealers of customer's own choice within a
maximum period of fourteen (14) days".
Market analysts said most of NMB Bank's clients were multi-banked and were
consequently unlikely to be affected by the cancellation of the bank'
NMB Bank's bottom line was also unlikely to suffer significantly because of
lack of foreign currency trading on the local market.
"It's not a good thing to have lost the foreign currency licence even though
this is not a significant revenue earner. It provided some kind of package
to their clients and they have lost an aspect of that package," a market
A FORMER Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority (ZESA) chief executive
officer has blamed the power utility's woes on the elimination of a
performance contract, saying this had previously given the power utility's
board autonomy to run the institution profitably.
Simba Mangwengwende, kicked out of ZESA in 2000 following the appointment of
Sydney Gata as executive chairman, said this in a paper presented to the
Forum of Energy Ministers of Africa Ministerial Conference on Energy
Security and Sustainability held in Maputo recently.
Mangwengwende was the lead author of the paper, while Njeri Wamukonya,
Energy Program Officer, Division of Technology, Economics and
Industry-Regional Office for Africa, United Nations Environment Programme,
was the contributing author.
Reference by Mangwengwende to the local power utility comes as ZESA has
introduced 20-hour load shedding periods in households to support winter
Mangwengwende said performance improvement in a state-owned utility under
local management had been achieved in Zimbabwe on the basis of a
performance contract established between the government and ZESA between
1992 and 1993.
"The performance contract was a regulatory instrument, which gave the ZESA
autonomy to run ZESA as a self-financing business. On the issues that the
board was required to refer to the minister there was an undertaking that
supportive responses would be expeditiously provided," he said.
He said the financial performance of the utility had dramatically improved
when the performance contract was introduced.
"The ability of the utility to cope with crises was also demonstrated in the
1998/99 period. Following a hitherto unprecedented massive depreciation of
the local currency, ZESA incurred a massive loss equivalent to US$174
million in 1998. Using an automatic tariff adjustment formula that had been
anticipated in the performance contract for such an eventuality, the loss
was reduced to US$44 million in 1999 and turned into a profit of nearly $13
million in the following year," Mangwengwende said.
The utility managed the financial recovery without any direct subsidies from
the government, he said.
Mangwengwende said the situation had changed following the abolition of the
performance contracts. "In 2002 new legislation was introduced, which became
operational in 2003. The performance contract was discontinued without
establishing an equivalent or better regulatory mechanism."
"Consequently ZESA's performance has significantly deteriorated since then,
again demonstrating the critical role of regulation in realising value from
power sector investments," he noted.
ZESA, which under the 2002 legislation unbundled into several operational
units, is facing serious financial problems.
Board chairman, Christopher Chetsanga, recently told a press conference that
the institution was technically insolvent.
Although managing a net income of US$12.7 million,
US$5.9 million and US$40 million in 2000, 2001 and 2002, respectively, the
power utility plunged into exorbitant losses between 2003 and 2005 blamed
for the poor pricing structure.
The utility posted a negative net income of US$270.9 million in 2003 and
this has worsened to US$428.7 million in 2004 and US$418.1 in 2005.
The performance contract was discontinued in 2003 and a new power sector
regulator was established in 2005.
Njabulo Ncube Chief Political Reporter
ROY Bennett, the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) treasury secretary who
has been granted political asylum in South Africa, has urged that country's
government to offer sanctuary to more Zimbabweans he says are fleeing from
President Robert Mugabe's rule.
Speaking to The Financial Gazette by telephone from Johannesburg yesterday,
five days after being granted asylum, Bennett said South Africa's Department
of Home Affairs should expedite the processing of applications of thousands
of fellow Zimbabweans who have applied for the same dispensation.
"After seven years of political persecution under the ZANU PF government in
my own country, I have finally found justice in a neighbouring country,"
Bennett won an appeal last week at the Refugee Appeals Board against a
Department of Home Affairs decision last May to deny him asylum.
He becomes the first senior opposition figure from Zimbabwe to be granted
asylum in South Africa. Analysts have described the decision as important
because it reflects a tacit admission by South Africa of increasing
repression under President Mugabe's administration.
"There have been thousands of people that have been persecuted by the regime
in Harare that have come before me, and there are others that will come
after me. So I think it is important for President (Thabo) Mbeki and his
government to move faster and help Zimbabweans seeking asylum because of the
political problems in Harare.
"More people, not just Bennett, should be given political asylum. But this
should be on merit. There are thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, that
deserve asylum," said Bennett.
The former MDC legislator for Chimanimani spent a year in jail for pushing
Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa during a heated debate in Parliament when
Chinamasa described Bennett's ancestors as "thieves and criminals."
His coffee-producing farm, Charleswood in Chimanimani, was seized by the
state under the controversial land reform. Bennett fled to South Africa last
year when the government tried to link him to an alleged plot to assassinate
Several MDC officials, including Mutare North MP Giles Mutsekwa, were
arrested in connection with the alleged plot. They were later released due
to lack of evidence. Peter Hitschman, the alleged mastermind of the plot, is
still being held.
Stanley Kwenda Staff Reporter
DOCTORS at two of the biggest state hospitals have gone on strike to press
for better pay, only a short time after ending a three-month job boycott
that paralysed the healthcare system countrywide.
The Hospital Doctors Association (HDA) said this week that doctors at
Parirenyatwa and Harare hospitals had gone on strike to demand a salary
review in response to the sharp rise in the cost of living since the last
"We have downed tools, we no longer want to talk anymore," said Kudakwashe
Nyamutukwa, HAD president. "We are not going to talk to anyone because
everyone knows that the cost of living is spiralling out of the reach of
every average Zimbabwean. Doctors are no exception," he added.
The strike is expected to spread to health institutions in other parts of
The industrial action by the doctors comes a week after Health Minister
David Parirenyatwa admitted that state nurses could no longer afford bus
fare to work. His ministry has since announced an adjustment in allowances
of up to 332 percent for health workers.
Doctors working at state hospitals have since last year gone on sporadic
strikes over pay. Last December, government had to hire army health
personnel to cover for striking doctors and nurses, but they could not cope
with the large number of patients seeking care.
Currently, a junior doctor at a state hospital earns a basic salary of $240
000 and allowances amounting to about $700 000. Total earnings therefore,
remain below the official $1.7 million breadline.
The country trains 4 500 nurses and 149 doctors every year, but three
quarters of these find their way into private practice or leave the country
once they complete the mandatory probation period.
Early this year, government said it was considering hiring retired nurses to
boost its low staff levels. But the low wages have been unable to lure the
Clemence Manyukwe Staff Reporter
A MINISTRY of Foreign Affairs letter has confirmed claims by Bubye Minerals
that one of the vehicles at the centre of its diamond row with River Ranch
Limited is registered in the name of the United Nations Development
Bubye Minerals is entangled in a long running dispute with River Ranch
Limited over ownership of River Ranch diamond mine, situated in Beitbridge.
Bubye has implicated the UNDP in the row, by claiming that the agency's
vehicles could have been used by its rivals to smuggle diamonds. The company
identified one of the vehicles as a Toyota and gave its registration number
as 200 TCE 666.
Both the UNDP and River Ranch Limited have denied Bubye's claims.
However, in a letter to Bubye Minerals yesterday, the Ministry of Foreign
Affairs said one of the vehicles was indeed registered in the name of the
UNDP in 2005.
"Please be advised that the vehicle number 200TCE 664, a Toyota Landcruiser,
was registered on 26 October 2005 under the name of a Mr Pradiptha Kishora
Susare, a UNDP employee and 200TCE 666, also a Toyota Landcruiser, was
registered as a UNDP Mission vehicle on 26 October 2005," reads part of the
In a press statement released on March 15 this year, the UNDP denied that
any of its vehicles had been used to smuggle diamonds as alleged.
"The vehicle registered 200 TCE 666 also mentioned as belonging to UNDP
actually belongs to the Global Fund sub-recipient operating in the Binga
District supporting HIV and AIDS project."
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs said the information it supplied was for
court purposes only and stressed that it would not accept any liability from
any claim arising from the correspondence.
Prior to the Ministry's letter, the UNDP had said of the vehicle: "This
vehicle is currently grounded after it was involved in an accident on 14
December 2006. Therefore, there is no remote possibility for the same
vehicle to have been seen at the River Ranch mine in Beitbridge. UNDP as the
interim principal recipient of the Global Fund merely facilitated the
procurement and the registration of the vehicle."
Kumbirai Mafunda Senior Business Reporter
THE civil service is losing skilled staff in critical and specialised
fields, compromising service delivery, as it also emerged that over 15 000
employees could have severed ties with the government over the past 12
Public Service Commission secretary, Constance Chigwamba, said the civil
service is among the sectors hardest hit by a brain drain robbing the
country of skilled professionals.
"Like the private sector, government has lost staff in critical areas such
as finance, economics, engineering, architecture, quantity surveying, estate
management, valuation and physical planning," said Chigwamba without giving
She said that the government had established a Skills Retention Fund, which
"will be used to attract and retain those in the critical shortage areas."
Sources however, said more than 15 000 civil servants have resigned over the
past twelve months and the figure continues to rise. This means the
government is losing an average of 40 employees per day.
Although no reliable figures are available to quantify the extent of the
staff exodus, it is estimated that the number of Zimbabweans living in the
diaspora stands at over three million. Many of those that have left the
country are skilled workers.
In government service, officials say much of the loss in skills is being
felt in teaching, engineering and IT.
In confirming the exodus, the Local Government Board - the government board
that oversees the operations of local authorities - recently disclosed that
its operations are being hampered by staff flight. The board blamed this on
a lack of funding that had seen workers getting their pay late, or not
getting paid at all.
Mines and Mining Development Minister Amos Midzi recently told a ZANU PF
party caucus that his Ministry is failing to clampdown on illegal mining
because of a high staff vacancy rate in his department, which he estimated
at 52 percent. Government officials say the situation at Midzi's Ministry
reflects the plight of other government departments.
Tendai Chikowore, the chairperson of the Civil Service Staff Association
Apex Council, said this week that poor salaries that cannot pay for basics
are at the heart of the exodus.
Most civil servants, including teachers, earn monthly salaries around $480
000 that are below the $1.7 million Poverty Datum Line. This week, doctors
announced they were going back on strike; just months after a three-month
boycott paralysed health delivery. It is feared the doctors' strike could
spur wider strikes in the civil service.
A recent report said more than 4 500 teachers had fled the country for
greener pastures since January.
Soldiers and policemen are also reportedly deserting, taking up jobs as
security guards in neighbouring countries.
Njabulo Ncube and Clemence Manyukwe Staff Reporte
DEFENCE Minister Sidney Sekeramayi has sparked confusion by telling
parliament that the government, which previously announced plans to enlist
war veterans into the army, does not intend to set up a reserve force, a
scenario made more perplexing by the fact that his ministry has called a
series of meetings across the country for war veterans.
Sekeramayi announced the creation of an auxiliary force under the Defence
(War Veterans Reserve) Regulations of 2007 Statutory Instrument 64, gazetted
But this week, responding to a query in parliament by the Movement for
Democratic Change (MDC) shadow minister for defence, Giles Mutsekwa,
Sekeramayi said: "Mr Speaker, the government has no plans to form a reserve
army." He did not elaborate.
Mutsekwa had asked: "Minister, can you clarify the position as of today of
the formation of the reserve army, the age groups and also if you would want
to comment on press reports that most ex-Zipra combatants are reluctant to
join the army because they felt they were used by the government to beat up
Despite Sekeramayi's categorical denial, the Ministry of Defence, through
its "Department of War Veterans", has inserted notices in the press calling
for meetings in all 10 provinces. The notices say the meetings are "for a
special address" to the ex-fighters.
The War Veterans' Board, chaired by ZANU PF politburo member Dumiso
Dabengwa, will convene the meetings.
The first of the meetings will be held on Saturday at the National Sports
Centre in Harare. Meetings in Bulawayo, Mutare and Masvingo will, curiously,
be held at army barracks.
ZIMBABWE'S government is ignoring South Africa's attempts to mediate in its
political crisis, a top African National Congress (ANC) figure says.
South Africa has refused to criticise President Robert Mugabe in public,
preferring "quiet diplomacy". But Tokyo Sexwale - a veteran ANC activist and
one of South Africa's wealthiest businessmen - has said in a BBC interview
that it is now time "to turn up the volume".
Sexwale told the BBC's Hardtalk programme this week that a meltdown in
Zimbabwe should be avoided at all costs, as this would have serious
implications for South Africa.
"I'm beginning to feel my president, who's gone out on a limb, is not being
listened to," he said. "He won't fail because he didn't try. He'll fail
because he's not being listened to. It takes two to tango."
According to Sexwale, the Zimbabwean government must be compelled to uphold
the rule of law. Sexwale's Mvelaphanda empire has business links with
Zimbabwe, and is currently partnering Meikles Africa in a R40million joint
venture on a Cape Town hotel project. Meikles has a one percent share of
Sexwale's comments will be seen as a sign of growing frustration within the
ANC over South Africa's approach to Zimbabwe .
Dumisani Ndlela Business Editor
Auditors qualify financial results due to land ownership uncertainty
IDEALLY, a red light should be flashing for new investors planning on
spending cash on horticultural group Interfresh Limited: Approximately 88
percent of the group's estates were gazetted with a section 5 notice in June
This, consistent with constitutional amendments made to outlaw any legal
challenges to the compulsory acquisition of privately-held land by the
government, makes Interfresh's farmlands state land.
Accordingly, the company's external auditors, KPMG Chartered Accountants,
qualified the group's financial results for the year to December 2006.
In qualifying the group's financial results, KPMG said the government had
not yet formally adopted a land policy that governs the future of land
tenure with respect to corporate agriculture.
"The new policy will determine whether the company will have to apply for
long term leases or de-listing. The ability of the company to continue
operating as a going concern may be affected should the land on which it
operates be designated to other farmers by government in its implementation
of this amendment to the Constitution of the Republic of Zimbabwe relating
to land tenure as there is no right of appeal on land designation," the
Yet, even after the listing of Interfresh's properties in 2000, there has
been mysterious interest in the horticultural concern over the past six
This might be because of its line of business, or investors are simply
chasing after a mature operation with a consistent business model.
A consortium of bankers once muscled its way into the firm to explore its
value in 2003, but quickly sold out to another consortium led by incumbent
executive chairman Lishon Chipango between 2004 and 2005.
There have been several intriguing deals, the latest being the purchase of
an 18 percent stake in Interfresh by Dairibord Holdings late last year.
Without discounting the value of Interfresh as a foreign currency earning
company, it would be fair to note that the odds are staked heavily against
Dairibord might see value in the group through synergies that might result
in the company supplying scarce juices for the production of non-carbonated
drinks by its subsidiaries, or the kind of synergies Delta Corporation
derived from its acquisition of Ariston - passing foreign currency earnings
to the major shareholder to prop up its business.
Ariston, another key exporting firm on the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange, had been
itself subject of speculation of a merger with Interfresh in 2002. The two
companies have previously entered into exclusive deals, the key one being a
joint venture between Ariston's fruit exporter Katope and Interfresh.
Of the odds staked against Interfresh, which cash-rich investors have
obviously discounted, is the fact that the group's operations have for the
past six years not just contended with the threat of expropriation of its
agricultural estates, but also a plethora of problems that remain a key
threat to earnings potential despite satisfactory performances even as
recent as the last financial year.
An unrealistic exchange rate constrained viability, as has decreased volumes
on general fresh produce (remember its citrus orchards were once invaded,
and a deputy minister occupies one of the group's estates).
This is not to say there are no positives on the firm.
The group posted satisfactory results for the year to December 2006,
increasing turnover by 1 175 percent to $9.4 billion and operating profit by
1 363 percent against average inflation of 1 017 percent during the
Interfresh was founded in 1953 and listed on the local bourse in 1997.
Exchange rate adjustment makes exporting counters a better bet
ANALYSTS this week said they expected investor interest on exporting
companies to increase following an exchange rate adjustment made late April.
The increased interest on the exporting companies would propel the stock
market to new high levels during the current second quarter, the analysts
said, but warned much would also depend on monetary policy instruments used
by the central bank to control liquidity on the money market.
Reserve Bank governor Gideon Gono announced a new facility for exporters and
foreign currency holders under which they could sell their foreign currency
to the central bank at an effective rate $15 000 for a US unit.
However, all transactions on the official market would be made at the old
rate of US$: $250.
The effect of this would be to compel all foreign currency sellers on the
official market to dispose of their receipts to the central bank at a higher
rate than the official exchange rate.
Stocks likely to benefit from increased interest in exporting companies
include gold mining stocks, as well as those in the horticultural sector.
Gold producer Falcon Gold's share price went up 350 percent a day after Gono
announced the new exchange rate on April 28 and new support prices for the
gold mining sector.
Gono reviewed the gold support price from $16 000 per gramme to $350 000 per
The move will significantly boost viability in the gold mining sector which
had been teetering on the brink of collapse due to a poor support price and
delays in payments for gold deliveries to Fidelity Printers and Refiners, a
subsidiary of the central bank.
One stockbroker said fund managers had reviewed their portfolios and moved
huge chunks of money from blue chip counters to predominantly exporting
"Exporting counters are now a
better bet," the stockbroker said,
highlighting that measures allowing them to retain 60 percent of their
foreign currency earnings had also boosted their prospects.
He said counters like pork producer Colcom, cotton maker Cottco, and nickel
miners Bindura Nickel Corporation and gold and diamond producer RioZim had
become favourites to both punters and long term investors.
"Apex will also stand to benefit as the company has embarked on completing
an induction furnace, which will see them reduce their dependence on
Ziscosteel and Hwange Colliery Company Limited (HCCL) thus improving supply
reliability," the stockbroker said. "Moreover, this will assist the company
to increase its exports by five times," he said.
Apex said recently it was happy with an exchange rate of US$1: Z$1500. A
review of the exchange rate to US$1: 15 000 is therefore a significant
Lishon Chipango, chairman of exporting firm Interfresh, said a new exchange
rate announced by the RBZ would significantly boost the performance of
ZIMBABWE Stock Exchange-listed horticultural group
Ariston is planning to mechanise tea picking at its Manicaland estates
because of serious labour shortages.
Ariston's chief executive officer, Kumbirai
Katsande, revealed this at an analysts briefing last week.
Katsande said the farming sector had been hit by
acute labour shortages because many people were resorting to gold and
diamond panning as well as cross-border trading.
He said Ariston had decided to mechanise tea picking
at its estates since the labour problems were likely to affect the farming
sector for a long time.
Ariston would also resort to growing crops that were
Although the mechanisation will not result in an
improvement of quality in the tea picking process, it will however
significantly lift volumes.
Katsande said his company had lost over 2 000
workers at its estates over the past two years.
Ariston's Southdown Estates late last year
temporarily stopped coffee production due to a shortage of labour which
Katsande attributed to the rush for diamonds.
Southdown Estate is Ariston's flagship business.
Katsande said the reduction in coffee production had
also been affected by increased volatility in the price of coffee on the
Ariston cut down the hectarage for coffee from 250
hectares to 200 hectares.
Personal Glimpses with Mavis Makuni
ZANU PF Chief Whip, Joram Gumbo's dismissal of the Pan African Parliament as
a "noise-making body" with no legislative powers gives a grim insight into
the reality of the government of Zimbabwe not being prepared to listen to
anyone on the face of the earth.
Gumbo, who is also the vice-chairman of the Southern African Regional Caucus
on Politics was reacting to the announcement over the weekend that the Pan
African body was to send a fact-finding mission to Zimbabwe to investigate
allegations of human rights abuses levelled against the government of
President Robert Mugabe.
The Pan African Parliament voted overwhelmingly to send a mission following
a wave of arrests and beatings of opposition leaders and activists. The
latest victims of state brutality are human rights lawyers, including
Beatrice Mtetwa who, as the first female president of the Law Society of
Zimbabwe, should be a cause for pride for the country, whose declared policy
is promoting gender balance in private and public institutions as well as
eradicating violence against women and children.
The battering of Mtetwa and her three male colleagues in broad daylight in
an open space as reported by the Sunday paper, The Standard, is a disturbing
confirmation of the institutionalisation of police brutality and
criminalisation of human traits such as compassion and a belief in fair
play. The attack highlights what a tangled web of lawlessness life in
Zimbabwe has become.
Mtetwa, Chris Mhike, Colin Kuhuni and Fritz Patrick were assaulted not for
committing a heinous crime, but for trying to present a petition to the
Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs, Patrick Chinamasa.
They were resorting to this peaceful and constitutionally protected way of
communicating with a government official to express concern over the arrest
of their colleagues, Alex Muchadehama and Andrew Makoni. Muchadehama and
Makoni had been arrested for no reason other than that they acted as legal
representatives for fellow Zimbabweans.
How many wrongs must be committed to convince the powers-that-be that at the
end of the day, brute force changes nothing. It can maim and kill fellow
humans but it will never make what is wrong right.
Rather than detract attention from what is wrong in the country, brute force
in fact magnifies it and highlights the need to confront matters in a
non-violent way. Battering people for recognising this reality will not
solve anything. Following his battering along with other opposition leaders
and activists on March 11, Lovemore Madhuku of the National Constitutional
Assembly said: "There is some systematic following of all key activists and
trying to intimidate them, either by making them run away from their homes
or beating them up."
Disturbingly, subsequent events have proved him right. In an interview in
March, Mtetwa herself said human rights lawyers had been warned by some
sympathisers in the police force that they had been singled out for
retribution. This would suggest that the attack on her and her colleagues
was a pre-meditated act. Where do Zimbabweans hide if their own government
lies in wait for them to put a foot "wrong" to justify viciously attacking
The motion for a probe to be undertaken by the Pan African Parliament into
this state of affairs was introduced by a representative of the Inkatha
Freedom Party of South Africa and was adopted by an overwhelming 149 votes
in favour and 29 against. The nays are reported to have consisted mainly of
Zimbabweans, including amazingly, Senator Sheila Mahere, who as the former
director of the Msasa Project was supposedly once opposed to violence and
crusaded against it. Her unease over the prospect of state instigated
violence being investigated is therefore perplexing. One wonders what her
reasons are for wanting a lid to be kept on these alleged abuses. Common
sense dictates that unless there are some sadistic people in government who
derive a perverse sense of satisfaction and pleasure from inflicting pain
and suffering on others, a chance to chart a way forward should be welcomed,
However, it would appear from Gumbo's utterances that Zimbabwean authorities
are not resisting attempts to throw light on the government's human rights
performance out of indignation they are being falsely accused. They are
simply thumbing their noses at every one and saying they must be left alone
to bash hapless citizens because Zimbabwe is a sovereign nation. Gumbo told
the state media why the Zimbabwean delegation had failed to stop the motion.
"We tried our best but there were too many odds against us", he complained.
"While we were in the meetings, Crisis Coalition was busy circulating
pictures showing those members of the MDC who were beaten up by police while
television stations showed footage of the police beating up some lawyers."
But not to worry, Gumbo seemed to tell state journalists: if all else fails,
the government can always bar the mission!
Gumbo should realise that the insurmountable odds the Zimbabwean delegation
faced in Pretoria did not result from clever gimmicks employed by the
Movement for Democratic Change and other stakeholders lobbying the Pan
African Parliament. It was simply an impossible task for the delegation to
convince a majority of the delegates that all was rosy in the face of
indisputable and graphic evidence of official brutality. The sheer horror of
the unspeakable orgy of violence perpetrated by state agents against
defenceless citizens spoke for itself.
Tony Blair et al were not present to influence delegates to vote as they
did. As leader of that delegation, Gumbo's duty upon his return to Zimbabwe
should be to advise the government to stop burying its head in the sand and
instead acknowledge the existence of a problem that must be resolved in a
democratic and humane manner. The government knows it would face the same
overwhelming disapproval at home as that shown in Pretoria if it did not
resort to brute force to silence every dissenting voice.
Dumisani Ndlela Business Editor
Consumers wait for their time on the market
IF, as the cliché goes, there is a time for everything then, presumably,
there is going to be a time for stability in the country's pricing system.
To the long-suffering consumer, that has always been the hope for the past
seven years, and an intensification of price escalations every day has only
cast a pall on the little hopes for price stability in an increasingly
Government, on one hand, has blamed the business community for a spate of
price increases that has fed inflationary pressures and dashed hopes for
immediate prospects for economic recovery in the country.
President Robert Mugabe made the most blatant attack on the business
community recently, accusing the business sector of collusion with
imperialist forces working to unseat his government from power.
Price increases, he said, were meant to create social unrest and make his
The business community, on the other hand, denies colluding with external
forces to destabilise the economy and agitate people against the incumbent
While admitting "extreme concern" over the recent spate of price increases,
they say the price hikes currently being experienced in the country "were
triggered by an unprecedented increase in the price of inputs apparently
influenced by the informal exchange rate".
In a recent statement signed by the Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries,
the Employers Confederation of Zimbabwe, the Plastic Manufacturers
Association, the Retail Association of Zimbabwe, the Zimbabwe Commercial
Farmers Union and the Zimbabwe National Chamber of Commerce, the business
community said some of the price increases were "driven by economic
Other price increases, which they said had to be dealt with by the
authorities, were "out of line with fundamentals".
"Leading members of the private sector have met and agreed that it is
imperative that the business community exercises restraint in increasing
prices as well as ask their suppliers to justify their price increases if
they are frequent and steep," the joint statement, issued less than a month
But the call for increased restraint was qualified.
"However, we note that voluntary restraint alone cannot work unless root
causes are dealt with expeditiously," the business sector said.
Business people indicated to The Financial Gazette this week that the highly
inflationary environment was making it increasingly difficult to exercise
While most of the price increases appeared speculative, they were,
essentially, anticipatory in nature, they said.
Government, in trying to curtail social upheaval emanating from an
escalation of prices, imposed price controls on selected basic commodities,
a situation that has spawned a black market for the scarce products.
While the price controls were meant to benefit the poor, the controls have,
in fact, benefited the rich and politically connected.
Until the recent upward revision in the price of maize meal by the Grain
Marketing Board (GMB), ruling party and government bigwigs and their cronies
who bought maize from the parastatal for $600 per tonne were reselling it to
the grain monopoly at $52 500 per tonne, the price at which the GMB was
buying it from farmers.
The same people, who had access to cheap fuel from the National Oil Company
of Zimbabwe, were reselling the fuel, some of which they acquired on the
pretext of requirements for farming activities, on the black market at
Apparently, this has been the case with almost all controlled products.
The other effect of price controls has been to fuel shortages.
Basic economic arguments note that price controls eventually hurt the entire
For example, government has been arguing that retailers should not hike
prices on their shelves, even when the cost of replenishing stock is
Inevitably, supermarkets have largely ignored this unsupervised policy.
Naturally, if retailers are forbidden from charging economic prices, they
will eventually be unable to buy from the suppliers.
If the suppliers cannot sell their goods to retailers at viable prices, they
will quit buying from farmers who will be stuck with products they cannot
sell to the marketplace.
Consequently, they might stop producing the controlled products, creating
shortages on the market.
This has been the reason for the increased hardships consumers currently
have to face. Farmers are not producing enough crops because selling prices
are low due to controls.
While the official excuse for the poor harvests has been a debilitating
drought, clearly capacity utilisation at most of the country's farms has
been pathetically low.
Government is currently pushing for a National Incomes and Pricing
Commission Bill to enforce price controls and curb what politicians allege
to be profiteering.
The Bill passed through Parliament in March, and now reportedly awaits
approval by the Senate before President Mugabe's assent.
Apparently, the Bill seeks to penalise unsanctioned price increases.
Imposing criminal charges for price increases is likely to discourage
manufacturers from obtaining higher-priced replacement supplies, therefore,
limiting consumer access to controlled products.
The government might have good intentions in imposing market controls, but
the record for such controls has simply proved unhelpful and dangerous to
Several bread manufacturers have closed down because of price controls.
Meanwhile, consumers continue waiting for their time on the market.
Mavis Makuni Own Correspondent
Peer review report ruffles feathers
THE African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM) of the New Economic Partnership for
Africa's Development (NEPAD) has been touted as a vehicle for African
countries to benchmark their economic and political performance.
Conducted every three to five years, the APRM is supposed to promote good
governance, observance of human rights and the rule of law. However, after
the presentation of the first peer review reports, fears that the process is
like, other African Union initiatives before it, doomed to fail to get round
the egos of African leaders seem to be proving true sooner than expected.
This week, the South African weekly, the Sunday Times carried the following
ominous item on its front page tease bar: South Africa tells Africa to go to
hell. A quick turn to the appropriate page inside established what the story
was about - the South African government's rejection of a Peer Review Report
drafted by a panel of eminent persons led by renowned Nigerian economist,
Adebayo Adedeji. The report was presented to President Thabo Mbeki at a
function last year.
It is no secret that the APRM is unacceptable to some leaders in Africa
because of its call for open and free discussion of governance issues by all
stakeholders in a country which they regard as a threat to the authoritarian
regimes they preside over. This has been demonstrated by the reluctance of
some countries to sign up to be reviewed by their peers. However, for South
Africa to react as vehemently as has been reported is puzzling.
NEPAD, under whose auspices the APRM operates, is the brainchild of Mbeki,
who is regarded as Africa's "Renaissance Man". For this reason the way his
government reacted to a dose of Mbeki's own medicine after being subjected
to rigorous scrutiny was supposed to be exemplary and set a standard for the
level of political maturity and commitment required to nurse the
dispensation through its teething problems.
In short, the South African president was supposed to accept criticism and
the pointing out of unpalatable realities with magnanimity. Regrettably, the
opposite has happened and the Mbeki administration has reacted angrily. It
is reported to have issued a "blistering" response rejecting the panel's
findings. It has dismissed 149 of the 150 recommendations made by the panel
to address problems and challenges cited in the Peer Review Report.
Some observers quoted by the South African media have described the
government's reaction as "churlish and quibbling". Mbeki does not appear to
have considered what would become of the initiative if the next batch of
countries to be peer reviewed take the cue from him and angrily bury their
heads in the sand too.
The South African government, which appears to have expected a perfect score
of 10 out of 10 claims the report is contradictory and inconsistent. The
government's argument that with its legacy of apartheid, the country faces
unique challenges is perfectly justifiable. In fact, in view of its dark
past, the country has done remarkably well in the 10 years since the end of
apartheid and the panel acknowledges this. "In all respects, South Africa
has, for the past 12 years already embarked on what the APR Panel has
recommended", the government insists. This suggests that the panel's
findings are not as wide off the mark as Mbeki and his government claim. The
only difference may relate to how far the panel, looking from a detached
standpoint as a peer should, perceived the government to have gone and how
far it still has to go in tackling the problems.
In language reminiscent of that used by Zimbabwean authorities to describe a
United Nations report on the demolition of dwellings under the controversial
Murambatsvina clean-up exercise, the South African government said:
"Embedded in (the) discourse are ideological and value-laden propositions."
As their Zimbabwean counterparts were reminded after Murambatsvina, it needs
to be pointed out to the South Africans that by its very nature, undertaking
an evaluation of any activity or process inherently involves making value
The panel ruffled feathers, particularly Mbeki's, with its comments on the
high crime rate in South Africa, judicial reform, the treatment of illegal
immigrants, and the negative impact affirmative action has had in driving
whites out of the public service.
To the suggestion that parliament should be granted more powers, the
government's curt response was: "What stops parliament from exercising its
current powers more vigorously?" Hopefully South African legislators have
The panel's report listed unemployment, violent crime and a growing gap
between the incomes of the rich and poor as some of the problems with the
potential to threaten the stability of the country.
All these issues should form the basis of candid national debate on the way
forward instead of sparking a dispute between the host government and the
Observers who are familiar with Mbeki's idealism on HIV/AIDS as well as
crime are bound to conclude that his government's reaction to its Peer
Review scorecard is exaggerated and uncalled for.
IT is official: Zimbabwe is now in hyperinflationary
mode, the state-run Central Statistical Office (CSO) confirmed for the first
Not that there is anything new in the CSO's
validation of the obvious given that the market had long suspected the
national statistical agency was being economical with the true inflation
picture, a view amplified by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) recently.
That, coming from the government itself and not from
perceived enemies of the state, suggests the pendulum has swung too far to
the other side and the unfolding economic carnage cannot be ignored anymore.
Made famous in the 1930s by pictures of Germans
pushing wheelbarrows full of banknotes to buy pints of milk, hyperinflation
is defined in the Web dictionary as "the rapid, out-of-control inflation, at
double-digit rates per month and more, usually occurring during war times
and periods of severe political instability".
Discounting war, a distant phenomenon for Zimbabwe,
forecasts by the IMF contained in its world outlook for April points to a
gloomier political environment ahead, more so, with the harmonised elections
on the horizon. The Bretton Woods institution projects the Consumer Price
Index, which ended the month of March at 2 200 percent, to close the year at
2 879.5 percent, hitting 6 470 percent by December 2008.
To come out of the vicious inflation cycle,
Zimbabwe - a once prosperous agricultural-based economy now hitting the
headlines for the wrong reasons altogether - need not re-invent the wheel
although there are doubts whether the country's leadership still has what it
takes to clear the mess it created by doling out unbudgeted funds to war
veterans, the costly adventure into the Democratic Republic of the Congo and
the haphazard land reforms of 2000, among other things.
While Zimbabwe's circumstances are peculiar to her
situation, Bolivia provides an important template to draw lessons from.
Emerging out of military rule and socialist romanticism, the South American
state was soon to discover that halting inflation didn't require an
authoritarian government to institute far-reaching reforms encroaching on
civil liberties. Theirs was a three-pronged strategy focused on earning real
revenues without switching the printing press on. The economy was opened up
to international trade while the role of government was transformed to help
it regulate and create rules of the game, but not to control and
micro-manage the economy, as is the case in Zimbabwe.
Faced with chronic devaluations spawning frequent
price increases ahead of a crucial election, the United States imposed price
controls in 1971, unprecedented in peace time and proceeded to suspend the
convertibility of its currency into gold. The verdict was out months later:
the controls failed as shortages became more acute while the quality of
products plunged as a way to get around the restraints.
Three decades down the line, this reality holds true
for Zimbabwe. Faced with a poorly performing economy, a direct result of
ill-advised populist policies, central government sought to put a lid on
galloping prices by putting producers and manufacturers of basic commodities
on the price stabilisation committee's watch.
The carnage from the controls has been high among
public utilities. Electricity monopoly ZESA is in the red because of an
uneconomic pricing structure that has worsened the plight of consumers
instead of insulating them against spiralling electricity tariffs. The
National Oil Company of Zimbabwe is also reportedly surviving from hand to
While the government has had to dig deeper into its
coffers to rescue troubled state enterprises, companies in the private
sector have not been so lucky. Despite the existence of a facility for
distressed companies, industry players that have been lucky to survive have
done so at the mercy of the banking sector.
Is it surprising, therefore, that little, if any,
investment has come into the country?
Hyperinflation has caused events to move faster than
the government had anticipated. Technically, price controls now exist on
paper. To its "credit", the government has turned a blind eye to the
unfolding reality playing out right under its nose, amid indications it
might have climbed down from the arrests of business executives fingered for
violating price controls. Who knows, with the looming elections, it might
resort to the heavy-handed tactic of effecting price controls in order to
Among the institutions smelling the coffee is the
agricultural ministry, which has moved to correct distortions in the pricing
of wheat and the staple maize. Despite circumstances beyond its control, the
central bank has made giant strides in correcting distortions in the pricing
of the exchange rate via the cleverly structured drought mitigatory fund.
True, price controls and voluntary restraint being
advocated by parties to the social contract negotiations cannot work unless
root causes have been dealt with expeditiously. It is with this in mind that
the National Incomes and Pricing Commission Bill before Parliament is doomed
before it comes on stream. Unless the government starts to use sound
economic policies to muzzle frequent price increases, it will continue
Indeed, profiteering has become endemic in Zimbabwe
but it doesn't come first, second, third or fourth on the list of ills
plaguing the economy - it may come a distant last. At the apex of the crisis
is arrogance and denial i.e. failure by the powers-that-be to accept they
are their own worst enemies.
Matters Legal with Vote Muza
IN keeping with the promise that I made last week, I shall attempt in this
article to give an honest account of what I witnessed at the Harare High
Court on May 8, 2007 after lawyers had gathered to protest against the
conduct of the Zimbabwe Republic Police.
On this day, I joined my colleagues, not as pseudo-journalist with a mission
to later report on the incident, but merely as a concerned lawyer whose sole
intention was to register my displeasure as well as show solidarity with
fellow practitioners. I am happy that most of what transpired, brief though,
happened before my own eyes and so unless otherwise indicated, hearsay shall
not the basis of this story.
On the fateful day word had quickly spread that lawyers had to meet at the
High Court with an intention to present a petition to the Minister of
Justice. Not just out of a willingness to be the first on the scene, but
also because of the time keeping instincts in me, I made sure that on the
stroke of lunch hour, I was already at the rendezvous.
Being one of the first on the scene of the incident made me notice that even
before the first group of lawyers had begun to gather, a number of anti-riot
police officers were already waiting for us. These numbered about a dozen.
Initially, they just milled around feigning lack of interest, but their eyes
betrayed their anxiety.
President of the Law Society of Zimbabwe, Beatrice Mtetwa, must have been
the first to arrive on the scene. In a few moments, I saw lawyers trooping
in from all directions. They came in different ages, sex and race. A few
notable first-comers were Modecai Mahlangu, former president of the law
society, Misheck Hogwe, my former teacher at law school, John Meyburg and
old Fitzpatrick, among a few others.
As the number of lawyers began to increase threatening to outnumber the
dozen or so anti-riot police already present, the situation began to get a
bit tense. I could feel the tension in the air. The glares from the police
officers that had seemed friendly began to transform into threatening ones.
Orders for the lawyers to disperse were issued, but half-heartedly. "Move",
"disperse", "illegal" were barked randomly in varying tones by some of the
anti-riot police officers. The lack of confidence by this first group of
cops seems to have stemmed from their hidden fear, or respect for the group
of lawyers who were elegantly dressed some, if not the majority, in full
court regalia. These first orders were ignored and the lawyers continued to
chat, talk and laugh. Our confidence mainly arose from the fact that we had
gathered, not for a political meeting, but merely to register our grievances
with the Minister responsible for Justice. We were not a political
gathering. We saw no reason whatsoever why the police could be offended by
our peaceful presence. In fact, my initial feeling was that the police
officers whom we had found present had been there to provide an escort for
How wrong I was as events were soon to prove!
Just as the number of lawyers began to increase, another group of police
officers arrived dressed in full riot gear. With them was their senior, a
big-bellied, short man driving a Peugeot 306. I could see by the insignia on
his shoulders that he was either a superintendent or a chief inspector. He
merely shouted that he was "the Officer Commanding Crime" for Harare.
Not just bubbling with confidence, but manifesting clear arrogance and
menace, he approached our president. Without exchanging any greeting, but
eager to prove that he had come for business, he demanded that we all
disperse. His justification was that our gathering was illegal in terms of
the Public Order and Security Act (POSA). The lawyers found this absurd. A
small argument ensued between him and our president. Both groups watched
keenly as our two leaders indulged in a battle of words. I heard Beatrice
Mtetwa tell the policeman that there was nothing wrong with our meeting;
that it was not a political rally, that it was a peaceful protest and
therefore POSA did not apply in this case. She demanded any legal document,
a court order perhaps, that could bar us from indulging in our protest.
I heard the policeman say that he had a "document". He quickly dashed to his
306, fumbled around, and suddenly re-appeared with a loud hailer. I saw him
strut towards us. Our group swarmed around him and became attentive. We all
wanted to hear what good or bad tidings he had for us.
Then the fateful words: "This is an illegal gathering, meetings are banned,
if I say three words, and you don't move, then will do what we do". The
emphasis placed on the last five words starkly illustrated that the man
meant business. He indeed went on to say the three words, which was a clear
signal to his troops to do "what they do".
In no time, the police sprang into action. Just then, I realised that half a
dozen other cops had been mingling with us in plain clothes. Upon receiving
the signal, they suddenly pulled out truncheons and baton sticks from
somewhere inside their clothes. I noticed one bearded female plain-clothed
cop who looked really vicious. Cruelty was written all over her face. She
exhibited more energy then most of male cops. She barked orders, yelled,
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pushed and struck. In the melee, I saw her strike old Fitzpatrick viciously,
not caring about the frailty and age of this lawyer. We split into two
groups. The larger group headed towards Sam Nujoma Street and disappeared
into the Central Business District.
The other smaller group led by the president headed towards the Ministry of
Justice offices, a few metres away. I joined this same group, but making
sure that I kept as much distance as I could between my body and the
truncheons. It is this group that incensed the irate police officers. They
saw us as directly challenging their powers.
From a distance, I saw a large group of cops swarming over the lawyers,
raining blows and some of the poor old victims were unable to escape due to
the sheer force of the attack. Our president was beaten, old Fitzpatrick was
beaten, and Chris Mhike was also thrashed and bashed. I think I also saw
Modecai Mahlangu being violated. No one was arrested or taken to a police
station to be charged. Rather, and as now widely reported, our president and
a couple of other lawyers who included old Fitzpatrick were taken to an open
veld in Eastlea and in full public view, were heavily beaten while they lay
The nasty incident caused me pain and almost brought me to my tears. Since I
could not take it anymore, I pulled off my gown, dashed into my car and in a
sanguine mood and feeling sorry for our besieged profession, drove to my
Vote Muza is a legal practitioner with Gutu and Chikowero. He can be
contacted on Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Zimbabwe needs a new civilisation
EDITOR - During my many years in the diaspora, I have learned what I think
might benefit our country.
I have learned that every civilisation has something which you can point to
and say "If you understand that, you can understand everything else about
If you go to India you can look at their religious system; if you go to
America, you can look at their economy; if you go to China you see their
educational and political system. If you go shopping at Tottenham, London,
you can see their freedom of expression and a functioning democracy.
If you then went to Zimbabwe at any one time and you were with a foreigner,
and he said "Point me to the area by which I could understand you", you
would, by common consent, say "The systematic absence of the rule of law".
It's an odd thing to say isn't?
Each time people discuss countries of their origin in public places, you
wish you could disappear. If you had become a Zimbabwean legislator in
Ottawa, Paris or, better still, in Johannesburg, you would reach a point
when you say 'sokwanele,' enough is enough, and start advocating for a
complete ban of all such discussions in public places. You would be
compelled to do that not because the subject does not accord with our
national or regional socio-cultural characteristics, but because the whole
world discusses Zimbabwe now, for all the wrong reasons.
We have been made a byword for lawlessness. So, simplified, one would do
that with a view to preserve decency until there is a change on our
political scene. As a people with a growing predilection for a new
civilisation, characterised by a free society and economic prosperity, we
can be inspired by the words of former British Prime Minister, William Pitt,
who said in 1801: "Where the rule of law ends, tyranny begins." Therefore,
folks, let us brace ourselves once again for that epoch-making vote next
year. That vote has two main potentials, to supplant the self-serving
tyranny discussed herein and to usher us into a new Zimbabwe, full of milk
and honey. God bless Zimbabwe!
Don't bank on Mbeki
EDITOR - Thabo Mbeki won't do anything to solve the Zimbabwean crisis. He
can't be a mediator because he is President Mugabe's best friend.
South Africa being an African super power should be using its clout to rein
in President Mugabe but it seems Mbeki is just buying time for his friend.
African countries cannot do much at the moment because the mediator they
appointed is not doing anything.
At one time in Tanzania Mbeki was quoted openly supporting President Mugabe.
Today he is attaching conditions for the opposition in order to open up
negotiations. The MDC should just ignore Mbeki's efforts and find a solution
to the crisis.
Durban, South Africa
Players bowled out?
EDITOR - Is it true that the Zimbabwean cricket players have not been paid
for their services at the World Cup? Has a full audit been carried out on
the Zimbabwean Cricket board?
One would have to assume if the players are not being paid they certainly
wouldn't be paying their top heavy management wages.
I prefer the light
EDITOR - Before ZESA can embark on its potentially disastrous 20-hour load
shedding stunt, they should have asked for feedback, suggestions or
alternatives from those who will mostly be affected by this thoughtless
action - the consumers.
My suggestion as a consumer is to ask ZESA to start a programme of volunteer
load shedding. This would involve ZESA hiking rates to market levels so that
they can raise the much-needed funds to boost their generating capacity.
The volunteer part of this programme comes in when those consumers who can't
afford the high rates will force themselves to switch off their appliances
or use electricity only when desperately necessary. What this means is that
those who can afford electricity will then not be lumped with those who can't
pay. All ZESA has to do is to have suggestion boxes in their banking halls
where consumers can cast their votes. After all, you pay for what you use.
The bottom line is: if electricity could be sold on the black market,
Zimbabweans would flock to buy it. So hiking prices won't make a difference
to a nation that already relies on black market prices for almost
Interestingly, a packet of cooking gel costs about $40 000 in the
supermarket, and a packet usually lasts for two to three days of cooking
only. Remember that most households pay ZESA bills of around $40 000 per
month. The choice is now between darkness and light. I prefer the light.
Replace senators with chiefs
EDITOR - In my view, we have had too many constitutional amendments in this
country. I have a suggestion, which if implemented with sufficient
consultation, possibly taken to a referendum, will improve our constitution
and make it really Zimbabwean.
I suggest we do away with the present Senate and replace it with an
equivalent house comprised of chiefs. These chiefs must be appointed or
elected according to our customs. With all due respect, I further suggest
that the leader of government be a prime minister, and we return to the
system of government where we had a ceremonial president.
I further suggest that this ceremonial president be a chief who is a member
of Senate/House of Chiefs. We can have a mechanism by which the presidency
can rotate among the 10 provinces of the country. Because of the proposed
roles of the chiefs, I further suggest that the qualities expected in a
chief should be spelt out so as to ensure performance in office.
For example, tertiary education might be made a requirement. Other issues
that might need to be discussed relate to whether the present provinces
reflect on the true Zimbabwe, or we may need to revise it. The Senate/House
of Chiefs should be complemented with technocrats, ex-combatants and other
icons of our liberation struggle. Maybe, even representatives of major
political parties should be included in this House.
Chiefs had better start looking for the real traditional regalia (not the
hats etc they were issued by Ian Smith) to adorn when they attend
Senate/House of Chiefs. I also hope that the new Parliament /Senate building
projects soon to be embarked on takes all this into consideration. Ian
Smith's old parliament building should not be demolished but should remain
as a reminder of a painful past we should never return to. I am a
Meanwhile, the word chief doesn't sound right and respectful to me. Where
did it come from? One hopes the language experts attend to this matter and
coin the right name for our madziMambo and madziShe before they take their
rightful place as the rulers of this land. The British have their Queen and
the Americans envy them for that.
EDITOR - I appreciate the importance of wheat in
Zimbabwe and cannot imagine Zimbabwe importing wheat when we have able
farmers to grow it. Most new wheat commercial farners have been in business
for at least five years now. It is assumed that within these five years they
have managed to get some rewards from their farming activities.
It therefore baffles me that they fail to buy
electricity generators to power winter wheat irrigation programmes. ZESA
cannot be allowed to reserve 20 hours of electricity to serve 2 000 farmers
at the expense of eleven million Zimbabweans.
We have children in our homes who need to have a
warm breakfast every morning before they go to school. Surely, ZESA can work
out some other intelligent power sharing arrangement and not the proposed
20-hour blackouts. For example, wheat farmers can pay their electricity
bills in foreign currency to enable ZESA to import more electricity.
MDC does not even have faith in itself
EDITOR - Further scrutiny of Mr Kadungure's response in
last week's Financial Gazette to my letter is necessary. He says that "when
the MDC was formed in 1999, it sought intervention in the region . . . " and
then "predominantly from South Africa . . . ". Well, why did the MDC seek
such intervention from anyone at its formation? Furthermore, why
"intervention" and not simply "invitation" to witness the formation of the
party? What was the problem, which it found necessary to resolve only with
outside intervention? Was any faith in internal grievance-settlement
procedures totally lost? Were these the early signs of a lack of faith in a
government that was black, or whatever?
I would have thought that the MDC's troubles began after
they lost the 2000 election and not in 1999, and these problems possibly led
them to embark on a diplomatic mission (not an unreasonable thing to do). So
then it means that there was no faith by the MDC in itself, in what it was
forming. The issue of conducting discussions from Europe or elsewhere is
trivial. It is what is discussed that is important.
One is also left unsure as to what a "renewal of
democracy" means. So, democracy existed in Zimbabwe prior to when? And then
it needed renewal from what time/s? Further, Mr Mbeki "failed" to
"intervene" to reverse the"economic meltdown" and "glaring (political)
Well, what is an "economic meltdown"? One can guess but it
does sound too alarmist a term and an absolutely uncompromising depiction of
an economy (it being in the nature of economies to experience fluctuations,
not "meltdowns"). Silencing those "who dissent". Where is this happening? I
would have thought that the troubles in Zimbabwe between the governors and
the governed are coming from people holding meetings without police
permission? And the people holding those meetings refusing to take orders
from a government they do not accept. Well, if the police give consent to a
meeting and then withdraw it without warning, resulting in a skirmish, then
they are guilty of deliberately formenting violence and are violating the
right to free assemble. Or is it the case that the police give consent but
on further surveillance of the potential risks to public order, decide to
cancel it, and the people become disappointed and decide to go ahead all the
The role of the leadership is to clarify issues for the
crowd and not to let them expose themselves to coercive action.
Mordecai Mutiswa Betera