Kondozi moves to Mozambique Augustine Mukaro ONE of
Zimbabwe's largest horticultural exporting companies, Kondozi Fresh Produce,
is relocating to Mozambique after the invasion of its farm by Zanu PF
supporters and government officials three weeks ago.
Kondozi was an
Export Processing Zone-registered firm but this did not save its operations
from the predatory Agricultural and Rural Development Authority (Arda) which
has taken over the farm. A court order was equally ineffective.
move into Mozambique comes after government complained through the public
media that Nigeria, which has been acting as a mediator in the Zimbabwean
political crisis, was taking in its former white
Kondozi's abrupt closure is set to adversely
affect the company's financiers, Barclays-Fincor, Zimbank-Syfrets and the
African Banking Corporation who had collectively invested about $37 billion
in the project.
It exported produce to supermarkets in Britain, Europe,
and South Africa.
Kondozi production director and former farm-owner, Piet
de Klerk, confirmed the relocation saying it had become difficult to operate
locally, adding that they had informed their financiers.
carry on with business here and we have no intention of putting up another
project in Zimbabwe," he said.
"In fact, we have overtures from Manica,
just across the border in Mozambique. The governor, Soares Nhaca, has offered
to give us free land so that we can set up a business on the same model as
Kondozi," he said
De Klerk said bilateral donors had indicated that they
would provide financing and equity for the relocation of the project to
"It's not only Mozambique who approached us. Zambia and a
number of neighbouring countries have overwhelmed us with their
"The Kondozi set-up was a unique model for the whole of Africa
with the biggest out-grower base and engaging the largest pool of local
community participation," De Klerk said.
Although there have been
claims that Arda would take over the farm, it has since emerged that senior
politicians are using the parastatal as a front.
Kondozi, which was
invaded over Easter, had kept some of its business running by collecting the
produce from out-growers and exporting it through one of their
Arda has confiscated four vehicles that were used by
management plus motorbikes.
The Independent on Sunday attended a
meeting at Kondozi which Vice President Joseph Msika and other officials were
expected to address. However, none of the scheduled speakers turned
At the meeting, attended by over 4 000 displaced workers, Chief
Marange said Msika had given an undertaking to correct the situation at the
"We have been given assurances that the situation will get back to
normal," Marange said.
"We urge you to remain patient." A fortnight
ago chiefs and their headman from Manicaland visited Msika at his offices in
Harare to air their grievances and he reportedly issued a directive to
Manicaland province governor Major-General Mike Nyambuya that Arda should
Msika met the chiefs in his capacity as the chairman of
the Cabinet Rural Development Committee.
Reports of Msika's directive
were shot down by Information minister Jonathan Moyo, leaving Arda to
continue occupying the farm.
Moyo declared that there was "no going back
De Klerk said in the two-week disturbances Kondozi had lost
in excess of $60 billion worth of business and equipment.
He said they
had lost over $20 billion worth of movable assets alone which included 48
tractors, four Scania trucks, five UD trucks, several T35 trucks, four
privately owned vehicles that were used by management and over 26
Staggering 20 000% Zimsec fee hike rejected Itai
Dzamara CHAOS could once again affect the administration of O-level and
A-level examinations this year after revelations that government has turned
down a proposal by the Zimbabwe Schools Examinations Council (Zimsec) to have
fees increased by up to 20 000%.
The Zimsec board had proposed
to the Ministry of Education to have O-level examination fees raised from
$100 to $20 000 per subject and those for A-level from $1 000 to $100 000.
These represent increases of 10 000% and 20 000% for O and A-level subjects
Zimsec information and publications manager, Faith
Chasokela, last week confirmed in a written response that the examinations
body was waiting for government's response to the proposed fees. She however
evaded the question regarding the proposed margins of increment. Sources at
Zimsec provided the figures to the Zimbabwe Independent.
makes the decision on these levels and we are still awaiting the response to
our proposals," she said.
The Zimsec management has said that its failure
to pay markers in time in the last couple of years as well as administer the
examinations properly have been caused by funding
Chasokela stated that Zimsec had "indicated the true costs
of examinations" to government. "We have indicated the true costs of
examinations per unit and it is the prerogative of government to decide how
much is paid by the client and by government as subsidy respectively," she
Sources this week said the ministry had rejected Zimsec's proposals
and was expected to order the examinations body to stick to the old
The examination board has been unable to get assistance from
government since the Zanu PF administration implemented a populist decision
of localising O-level and A-level exams in 2001. The University of Cambridge
in the United Kingdom used to run the examinations.
leakages and mix-ups of results have characterised the running of
examinations during the past three years.
Last year there were serious
mix-ups in the issuing of results with some candidates getting grades in
subjects they didn't sit whilst others failed to get marks for subjects they
has designated the area around President Mugabe's newly-built mansion in
Harare's Borrowdale suburb a protected area.
This means access to the
area will now be restricted as is the case with the environs of State House
and Zimbabwe House along Chancellor Avenue.
The designation of the
property, in the Helensvale area of Borrowdale, was made through a Government
Gazette published last Friday.
The Ministry of Home Affairs issued the
order in terms of Section 5 of the Protected Places and Areas Act.
oriental-looking mansion, which is situated along Borrowdale Brooke Road, has
been under construction for at least three years and is nearing completion.
There is speculation that Mugabe would soon be moving into the house tucked
away in a thickly wooded area overlooked by several other private
Motorists travelling along Borrowdale Brooke Road only have a
fleeting glimpse of the property's blue roof, guarded round the clock by
armed members of the ZRP's Support Unit located strategically at regular
intervals along the winding stretch of the road.
Security is now
expected to increase in the area. It is however not clear whether the
government will close Borrowdale Brooke Road at night as is the case with
Chancellor Avenue, which runs between State House and
The Zimbabwe Independent last year heard that
officials from the Office of the President had interviewed property owners in
the vicinity of the presidential mansion for security checks.
government has also declared two other properties protected areas, that is
Elphida Farm, owned by the state arms company Zimbabwe Defence Industries,
and Wilton Pipe Station in Marondera. It could not be established at the time
of going to press what Wilton Pipe Station is or what it does.
Government Gazette said security would be increased in protected
"These areas should be surrounded by a security fence and warning
sign posts shall be erected. Visitors will be issued with passes and a
visitors' register shall be maintained at the gate," the notice
Apart from state properties, the only other house Mugabe was known
to occupy was his rural home in Zvimba. - Staff Writer.
OPPOSITION Movement for Democratic Change leader Morgan
Tsvangirai has threatened to withdraw all his party's councillors from Town
House in Harare because government has usurped their powers.
interview with the Zimbabwe Independent this week, Tsvangirai said there had
been a "de facto coup" in Harare and Bulawayo after the appointment of
governors for the two cities.
Witness Mangwende was appointed governor
for Harare just before the city's first popularly-elected executive mayor
Elias Mudzuri was sacked.
Tsvangirai said his party's executive would
soon meet to decide on a course of action.
"We have been discussing
with the MDC Harare province," said Tsvangirai.
"We have been discussing
with the councillors and the provincial executive in Harare. Now the issue
has to be taken to the executive for a political discussion on it.which is
that if we are not serving any purpose, then the mandate has been pulled from
under our feet. We are no longer serving our purpose. We should consider
whether we should continue serving in the city council
Tsvangirai said Zanu PF had been running the city
"If people undertake to grab the city without the mandate of the
electorate, what is at stake is democracy. What has been sacrificed is the
whole democratic legitimacy of whatever Chombo is doing in city council," he
Tsvangirai said Chombo was not willing to hold fresh elections in
"What we now have in Harare is effectively a commission because
councillors who were elected by the people cannot meet and their mayor has
been fired," said Tsvangirai.
l Meanwhile, Mudzuri has not moved out
of the mayoral mansion guest-house despite claims by the state media that he
had vacated the mansion.
In an interview yesterday, Mudzuri said he was
still staying at the mansion and would not go anywhere unless the courts
"I am still staying at the mansion and I won't be going
anywhere," Mudzuri said.
Mudzuri said municipal police have already
started harassing his workers demanding the keys. - Staff Writer.
WHILE in Pretoria
to attend President Thabo Mbeki's inauguration this week, Commonwealth
Secretary-General Don McKinnon lobbied African leaders to find a resolution
to Zimbabwe's deepening crisis.
Since Zimbabwe's indefinite suspension
and subsequent pullout from the Commonwealth last December, President Robert
Mugabe has attacked the world-wide body and called it evil.
chemistry between the Commonwealth and Zimbabwe is clearly not conducive" to
the 54-nation group trying to be directly involved in any diplomatic efforts,
"Other leaders are talking to President Mugabe. Many
African leaders want to see that Zimbabwe returns to the Commonwealth family.
Zimbabwe has an important place in the Commonwealth," he said between
meetings with African heads of state. "We will work with African members, and
others, to help resolve Zimbabwe's problems."
Zimbabwe's 2005 parliamentary elections, McKinnon said:"Zimbabwe is out of
the Commonwealth so we are unlikely to be asked to observe the elections. But
as long as Zimbabwe adheres to the Southern African Development Community
norms and standards for democratic elections, then it would be a great step
forward as it would reflect the free will of the people. If the Zimbabwean
elections were held on the same basis as the South African elections, that
would go a long way towards solving Zimbabwe's problems." - Special
Air Zim boss faces uncertain future Itai
Dzamara AIR Zimbabwe management on Wednesday held a meeting with
workers' representatives to discuss a simmering wage dispute.
marathon meeting reportedly spilled into the early hours of yesterday and was
attended by Transport ministry permanent secretary Karikoga Kaseke.
future of Air Zimbabwe managing director Rambai Chingwena wasn't clear by
late yesterday with reports suggesting that he had tendered his resignation
to government. Other reports claimed that Chingwena had been given a
dismissal notice by the Ministry of Transport.
Workers at the beleaguered
national airline downed tools on Monday after the parastatal failed to honour
its promise to award a 120% pay increase this month. Workers demanded a 300%
increment last month but accepted management's proposal of a 120% hike this
month whilst negotiations continue. However, it emerged last Friday that the
national airline had stuck to the old salaries and wages for this
Air Zimbabwe legal and corporate affairs manager, Arthur Manase,
yesterday confirmed that the Wednesday meeting had spilled into the early
hours of yesterday but declined to comment on Chingwena's fate.
confirm that there was a meeting yesterday (Wednesday) that lasted to until
after midnight," said Manase. "However, I can't offer you details or outcomes
of the meeting. I am also not in a position to comment on Chingwena's future
and current status."
Sources privy to Wednesday's meeting which was
attended by members of the Air Zimbabwe board said Chingwena was blamed for
the wage dispute.
"We understand he (Chingwena) will be leaving soon,"
said a source who attended the Wednesday meeting and is following the
goings-on at Air Zimbabwe. "He has either resigned or been fired. There has
been mounting pressure on him to quit."
Chingwena, who was said to be
out of his office yesterday, is reported to have refused to shoulder the
blame citing Air Zimbabwe's viability problems.
Efforts to verify
Chingwena's position with Kaseke were unscuccessful yesterday.
A two-donkey affair Loughty Dube NEW farmers failed
to take advantage of the return of the livestock show to the Zimbabwe
International Trade Fair (ZITF) where less than 20 cows are being exhibited
in the livestock section.
Only two donkeys are evident in the livestock
display that is being exhibited at the waning international
The livestock section of the ZITF is a traditional crowd puller
and thousands of people usually flock to the animal stands to view prize
bulls and other livestock on exhibition.
However, this year about
three-quarters of the cattle pens are empty while stands for rabbits and
sheep are deserted.
The prize bulls that used to attract crowds in the
past were nowhere to be seen while a few cows belonging to Agricultural
Research and Extension Services (Arex) held fort at the Bulawayo Agricultural
Economic commentator and MDC economic adviser, Eddie Cross,
said the poor turnout at the livestock show was due to the absence of former
white commercial farmers.
"The commercial farmers who are supposed to
support the agricultural show are not operating at the moment and there is no
chance that you will get any livestock for the show under the circumstances,"
He said even the industrial side of the ZITF was pathetic
because companies were struggling to survive under harsh economic
"Until we get back to normal political and economic
activities there will not be a change to the situation on the ground and
exhibiting at the ZITF is a waste of time as exporters are closing shop,"
An Arex official told the Zimbabwe Independent that all the
cows at this year's show belonged to his organisation.
animals in the few stands that you see here belong to Arex and we are yet to
see whether other farmers will bring animals for exhibition before the close
of the trade fair," said the official.
The livestock show was cancelled
last year after the outbreak of foot and mouth and anthrax.
a marked absence of big organisations at this year's showcase owing to the
Eleven countries are taking part at ZITF 2004. They
include Botswana, Malawi, Kenya, Italy, South Africa, Mozambique, Nigeria,
China and Austria.
'Zim can't demand directors extradition' Itai
Dzamara GOVERNMENT has no grounds on which to demand from Britain the
extradition of Zanu PF directors who allegedly fled the country following the
launch of a probe into the ruling party's companies.
brothers, now believed to be in the United Kingdom, this week released a
statement pleading their innocence of any wrongdoing.
minister Patrick Chinamasa said earlier this month that the Zanu PF directors
would be extradited.
The Joshis' lawyer Jonathan Samkange yesterday said
there were no firm grounds on which they could be
"Firstly, the manner in which it is done, whereby a lot of
noise is made before investigations are done, is futile. It leaves the state
or even the police with insufficient grounds on which to seek extradition of
the accused persons," said Samkange.
"Secondly, as things stand there
won't be any cooperation from countries such as the UK in the bid to
extradite the individuals. Zimbabwe is still considered a rogue
Responding to threats by government earlier this month that all
those who committed crimes and had fled the country would be arrested, the
Joshi brothers, Jayant and Manharlal, who are directors of Zanu PF-owned
Zidco Holdings, said they had not had any allegations levelled against
"We issue this statement in order to refute any allegations of
corruption or fraud," they said.
"Various statements in the press have
inferred that we have been involved in various corrupt and dishonest
activities either through Zidco Holdings or in our personal
"We vehemently deny any involvement in such activities and
are prepared to co-operate with the authorities in order to prove our
innocence," they said through their lawyers.
The Joshi brothers
reiterated the position made by other Zimbabweans such as NMB directors who
fled the country that they will only return when assured of their
"We intend to return home in the near future when we are
confident that our personal safety is not under threat. We fully support the
anti-corruption drive initiated by government and condemn any activity that
does not foster the growth and prosperity of the economy of
President Mugabe promulgated the Presidential Powers
(Amendment) (Criminal Procedure and Evidence Act) regulations in February,
which has a provision for the detention of a suspected person for up to a
month without appearing in court.
Zanu PF central committee member and
businessman James Makamba is still in custody more than two months after he
was arrested on charges of externalising foreign currency.
Roman Catholic Archbishop Pius Ncube says he will not be deterred by attacks
from the state media and other quarters in his fight against human rights in
Ncube was responding to a salvo fired by state radio and
newspapers after he was chosen, together with South Africa's Desmond Tutu, as
patron of two aid funds set up to raise money for human rights-related
lawsuits and legal reform campaigns in Zimbabwe.
"The attacks by the
state media will not deter me," said Ncube. "Why should they attack me and
skirt real issues affecting the country when the issues are clear? We need
good governance and we do not want to be abused by a dictator," Ncube
He said he was glad to become patron of the two aid funds but was
saddened by the suffering of Zimbabwean people.
"There is low morale
in all sections of the population and that is a big concern as people are not
employed and we have serious starvation but the government wants us to
believe that people are only dying of Aids," he said.
The two funds were
launched on Tuesday last week at St Paul's Cathedral in London.
funds - the Zimbabwe Defence and Aid Fund and the Zimbabwe Aid Foundation -
aim to support those who have become victims of illegal detentions or
"I feel honoured to work with Desmond Tutu. I
have great respect for him for his unwavering fight for human rights in his
country and the world in general. He is a great man," he
Speaking after the launch of the two funds last week, Tutu, a vocal
critic of Mugabe's government, said the world couldn't stand by and watch a
tragedy unfold "without becoming complicit through apathy".
He said a
similar fund, supported by the international community, saved a lot of people
in South Africa from the gallows, including the country's first black
president, Nelson Mandela. - Staff Writer.
ZDI/Arda ignore court order, occupy
Charleswood Munyaradzi Wasosa ZIMBABWE Defence Industries (ZDI) and the
Agricultural and Rural Development Authority (Arda) have taken over
Chimanimani MP Roy Bennett's Charleswood Estate in contravention of a High
Court order barring the government from acquiring the farm, the Zimbabwe
Independent can reveal.
A High Court application filed by the farm's
shareholders said defence forces had taken over the farm. The farm manager,
Sunface Bhaudhi, in his affidavit said military agents had invaded the farm
"On Good Friday, 9 April 2004, heavily armed members of
the Zimbabwe National Army (ZNA) and the ZRP Support Unit led by a soldier
identifying himself as Dzapasi, forcibly invaded and surrounded Charleswood
Estate," he said.
Bhaudhi said the army forced some of the farm
workers to sign up as ZDI workers and ordered a number of them to leave
"Dzapasi explained that the basis of the forcible
'ejectment' was that Charleswood Estate had now become Zimbabwe Defence
Industries land," he said.
ZDI is a wholly owned government company,
which manufactures ammunition, weapons, ordnance and military
Bennett in an interview said ZDI and Arda had clashed over
control of the farm.
"I have been informed that there is a lot of
tension between the army and Arda officials as to who is in control of
Charleswood," he said.
The estate is a major producer of coffee for
export and has Export Processing Zone (EPZ) status. Bhaudhi said the army had
taken over the coffee mills at the farm.
Court papers to hand say a
considerable amount of potential foreign currency had been lost due to the
"We had secured a deal to sell coffee to foreign buyers
including a Korean company called K&Z Incorporated, who expect a delivery
of 18 tonnes," Bhaudhi said. "I would estimate the loss would be in the
region of US$200 000 which could have benefited the country."
the disruptions of production at the farm, the future of over 1 000 farm
workers remains unclear.
"In the absence of normal productivity, it would
be difficult for Charleswood Estate to continue paying its large work force,"
He said the farm's six managers were immediately ordered to
vacate the farm.
"The six of us are currently living as internally
displaced persons in a place of safety in Mutare," he said.
farm, Bennett, an MDC MP, is an equal partner with Walter Johnson of Mawenje
tourist lodge, a project of the Zimbabwe Investment Centre.
The two have
since filed an urgent High Court application, suing the government for the
fresh invasion and subsequent disruptions of business on the farm by the army
The Independent has in its possession a copy of the
application dated April 22.
Cited as respondents are Manicaland
governor, retired Major General Mike Nyambuya, the Home Affairs minister,
police commissioner, Defence minister, the ZNA commander, and the State
Bennett this week confirmed that his farm had been
taken over by the government.
"Yes, and my workers have also been
forced to work as employees of the state on my farm, yet it has not been
listed for compulsory acquisition," he said.
Bennett said government
agents came for Johnson on April 14 at the lodge and told him to leave within
half an hour.
Bennett claimed that the invaders said they were acting on
"They ordered Johnson to vacate the property saying
they had to comply with an instruction coming from Governor Nyambuya," he
Bennett said five guests who were staying at the lodge immediately
left unharmed. Johnson also left. He has a 50% stake in the lodge registered
with the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority (ZTA).
The High Court issued an
interdict order in January 2003 against the then Ministry of Lands,
Agriculture and Rural Resettlement from acquiring his farm, and an Order by
Consent, in which the state agreed not to interfere with Bennett's
The Minister of Special Affairs in charge of lands, John Nkomo
could not be reached for comment as he was said to be out of his
Bennett said his farmhouse has been effectively taken over by
Arda whose representative is a man only identified as Huba.
Media Lawyers Network has adopted a resolution calling on parliament to amend
or repeal laws that militate against media freedom. In a statement released
at its annual conference in Masvingo on Sunday, the network said the state
must equip the courts and other departments so that they function effectively
when dealing with the media.
"The state is called upon to ensure that its
organs are properly equipped and have the resources to function effectively
in discharging its duties," the body said.
The legislature was
challenged to scrap laws that hinder freedom
"Parliament must be urged to amend or repeal current
laws like the Broadcasting Services Act, Access to Information and Protection
of Privacy Act (Aippa), and the Public Order and Security Act (Posa)," read
"In achieving this, MPs are encouraged to consult
stakeholders in coming up with a new legislative regime."
judiciary was also challenged to deal with issues involving freedom
of expression timeously.
"The judiciary is called upon to speedily
depose with matters of public interest brought before it such as freedom of
expression or fundamental human rights," the lawyers said.
urged media practitioners to resort to international treaties that protect
media freedom if the country's laws fail to do so.
"In the absence of
effective domestic remedies and/or their exhaustion," the network said,
"international bodies such as the African Commission on Human and Peoples
Rights and the United Nations Commission for Human Rights should be resorted
The network was formed in 2002 to mobilise Zimbabwean lawyers in
defence of the media and freedom of expression.
groups yesterday issued a joint statement saying the media situation in the
country was "anarchic".
"Media organisations in Zimbabwe commemorate
World Press Freedom Day on May 3 in a media environment that can be best
described as anarchic," the statement said.
The media groups include
the Media Institute of Southern Africa, the Zimbabwe Union of Journalists and
the Independent Journalists Association of Zimbabwe. - Staff Writer.
Chombo approves Harare turnaround plan Augustine
Mukaro GOVERNMENT has approved Harare town clerk Nomutsa Chideya's turnaround
plan for the city, the Zimbabwe Independent heard this week.
Highly-placed sources in council said the plan, directly borrowed from
Johannesburg's Unicity structure, would be implemented at the beginning of
"Transformation of city departments into business utilities
has already started," sources said.
"A council delegation will be
visiting Johannesburg for a study tour towards the end of May. The tour's
main objective is to study the practical day-to-day operations of Unicity
structures with the intention of implementing the same concept back
Last year Chideya denied having borrowed parts of his plan from
the Johannesburg Unicity structure, claiming instead that it was his
The strategic turnaround plan was presented to Local
Government minister Ignatius Chombo in November.
Chideya on Wednesday
confirmed that his plan had been approved and that they were engaged in
consultations on how it would be implemented.
"No date has been set for
the delegation's departure for South Africa but most likely between the end
of May and early June," Chideya said.
"We wouldn't want to hurry the
implementation of the plan before people understand what it entails but it
should be ready for implementation early next year."
resembles sacked executive mayor Elias Mudzuri's Vision Harare 2010 strategic
plan which was turned down by Chombo last year, which councillors claimed was
prepared by over 25 stakeholder organisations. The Mudzuri document was
sponsored and coordinated by Fredrick Naumann Foundation to the tune of $20
The Johannesburg structure is made up of 10 utilities in the
form of registered companies wholly owned by council, run on business lines
by a city manager and executive directors.
The utilities are
self-funding, receiving no annual grants from the city and provide billable
services direct to individual households.
Sugar production declines Rodwin Chirara HIPPO
Valley Estates, the country's sole producer of sugar, has reported a sharp
decline in production that could result in shortages of the
commodity. According to the company's statement for the year-end results,
production of sugarcane dropped to 1 963 189 tonnes compared to previous
production levels of 2 320 200 tonnes. Production of sugar itself stood at
236 116 tonnes for the 2003 season.
Production per hectare of
planted sugarcane also dropped to 106,28 tonnes for the season under review
from 107,67 tonnes. This drop was against expectations of higher yields since
conditions for growth were favourable during most of the season, Hippo Valley
chairman Godfrey Gomwe, said in the company's results.
Hippo was last
year hit by a land ownership dispute with newly-resettled farmers and the
case is still pending in the courts.
"As previously advised in a number
of shareholder updates, the legal dispute on ownership of cane, and
therefore, payment for cane delivered to the Hippo Valley mill between some
A2 farmers and commercial cane farmers, remains unresolved," Gomwe
"All the proceeds from the disputed cane purchases were paid over
to the High Court in accordance with the provisions of the
interpleader proceedings," he said.
Gomwe said $1,8 billion had been
paid to the High Court for the disputed cane, whilst $2,5 billion had been
paid directly to A2 farmers whose cane was not in dispute.
discussions were ongoing with all concerned to find a solution as soon as
Gomwe said cane yield for the year was 106,28 tonnes per
hectare, which exceeded expectations, although it was marginally lower than
the prior year's yield of 107,67 tonnes.
He said the majority of third
party cane suppliers experienced delivery constraints during the
"The majority of third party cane suppliers, including Mkwasine
Estates, experienced cane delivery constraints during the season. A total of
368 943 tonnes of cane was delivered from Mkwasine suppliers compared with
426 700 tonnes in the previous year," said Gomwe.
He said this year
independent growers had delivered 350 787 tonnes, which was significantly
lower than last year's deliveries of 580 586 tonnes.
experienced cane haulage difficulties as a result of machinery breakdowns due
to the ageing fleet and unavailability of spares, and low bundle weights
caused by lodged cane," he said.
"Inclement weather during the latter
part of October resulted in unseasonal rainfall which disrupted operations.
All these factors resulted in the milling season extending into January 2004,
causing significant adverse impact on milling efficiencies."
Gomwe said recovery was a "disappointing 82,27% compared with 85,47% for the
previous season, whilst efficiency was 87,64% compared to 89,04% in
Zimbabwe not ready yet to rejoin
DIPLOMATIC efforts to reconcile Zimbabwe and the
Commonwealth have made no headway and there is little prospect that President
Robert Mugabe's government will rejoin soon, Commonwealth head Don McKinnon
"We consider it very sad that they have left the Commonwealth,"
McKinnon said on Monday. "We would like them to come back, we believe someday
they will be able to come back, but I think the climate right now is not
really conducive," he said.
Mugabe pulled Zimbabwe out of the
Commonwealth in December after the 54-member group of mostly former British
colonies extended a suspension of the southern African nation's
Last week Mugabe derided the Commonwealth - which criticised
his re-election in 2002 polls described as rigged by Western observers and
local opposition groups - as an "evil" group bent on infringing Zimbabwe's
sovereignty. McKinnon said efforts by South Africa and Nigeria to bridge the
gap with Zimbabwe appeared to be going nowhere.
"I believe we've done
everything possible to see some kind of reconciliation. But there has just
been no desire to do such a thing on the Zimbabwe side."-
Prices continue to rise despite inflation dip Godfrey
ALTHOUGH inflation has shown signs of declining in the past
four months disposable incomes for consumers are no better as prices of goods
continue to skyrocket.
Inflation, the loss of purchasing power of
money largely because of excessive money growth in circulation, can be
reflected in the rise of prices without an increase in the value of goods and
Last year, planning to purchase goods based on
the previous price virtually became impossible as the commodities changed
price in a matter of days and, at times, hours.
Even with the
marginal decline in inflation from 622% to 583% industries such as the
newsprint sector have not benefited because of the monopoly enjoyed by Mutare
Board and Paper Mills who are the sole suppliers of newsprint in the
country. The supplier has been reviewing the cost of newsprint
Some of the commodities which last year increased almost
on a weekly basis such as property, vehicles and basic foodstuffs such as
bread, sugar, cooking oil, meal-meal and salt, are now relatively
But analysts say the decline in inflation over the past four
months can only be sustained if this year's agricultural season records a
Zimbabwe Financial Holdings Ltd (Finhold) senior
economist Best Doroh said the benefits of inflation declining would only be
felt towards year-end.
"While the prices of goods have been coming
down and stabilising it is still too early for consumers to benefit from the
decline," Doroh said. "If inflation declines significantly that would be good
news for consumers, but this can only be felt towards the end of the year,
especially around the festive season." Zimbabwe's year-on-year inflation
has declined from a high of 622,8% in January this year to the current
At the same time month-on-month inflation that used to average
18% in 2003 and reached a peak of 33% in November last year, slowed down to
13,7% in January, 6% in February and 5,9% in March.
there was need for increased productivity in the agricultural sector to help
"If this year's agricultural production is a good
one that would assist in bringing down inflation," she said. "But the bumper
harvest must not just be a one-off thing."
When Reserve Bank of
Zimbabwe (RBZ) governor Gideon Gono took over in December last year he
announced that inflation would be his number one priority.
tackling inflation, Gono's task would also help to protect real incomes for
both households and that of government.
However, one of the major
problems which Gono is facing is the high rate of taxation which leads to
demands by workers, which in turn puts pressure on employers to also revise
product prices up.
Zimbabweans are taxed at the rate of 45% of their
net gross incomes, making them one of the most highly-taxed societies in the
Unlike his predecessors Gono has managed to win political
support and tame government appetite for easy money. Side by side with Gono's
monetary policy, government has launched its own anti-graft crusade to
restore normalcy in the country's business environment.
five months with Gono as governor, government only abused its overdraft
facility once - in March by $80 billion, when it accessed $308 billion
instead of the stipulated $228 billion.
In his monetary policy review
last week Gono said government was now living within its means to the extent
that at times it has a small surplus in its current
Kingdom Financial Holdings chief economist Witness Chinyama
noted that falling inflation would have a bearing on disposable
"With inflation coming down, consumers are now able to plan
how to spend their incomes," Chinyama said. "This is unlike last year when
one could not plan what to buy because of erratic price increases.
should be noted that the sustained decline in inflation also depends on the
availability of foreign currency to check exchange rate
He said the greatest challenge facing the country was
how to attract foreign direct investment.
Another economist with a
bank however warned that due to high money supply growth, inflation might not
decline that easily.
"Inflation will not just disappear like that
unless we are able to rein in monetary expansion," the economist
"Increases in fuel and electricity prices, wages and salaries
could also add to inflationary expansion during the course of the
The economist said however that if inflation continued falling
largely due to money market surpluses, interest rates which in January
breached the 900% mark could start to decline in line with inflationary
DESPITE what appears to be overweening confidence by our rulers
that they have the various national crises in hand and that the country has
already turned the corner to recovery, every now and again they betray their
anxiety that things are not going as well as they would like people to
On Monday the state mouthpiece, the Herald, published an
inciteful commentary aimed at flushing out what it called "traitors" in the
media community, targeting its vitriol at locally-based foreign
correspondents and Zimbabweans in the diaspora.
And what inspired
this attack? The "foul canard" that President Mugabe was a "ruthless despot".
It is being "shamelessly alleged that those who dare to oppose the government
are being starved or hunted down", we were told.
cited include the suggestion that the Zimbabwean economy has degenerated into
one of the worst in the world. While the Zimbabwean economy continues on what
the country's critics call an "unprecedented freefall", it is alleged the
government of President Robert Mugabe is sitting idly by.
leads the Herald to conclude that "falsehoods" generated by Zimbabweans in
the media have done "immeasurable damage" to the country.
"It is in
this light that we call upon the government to explore ways of dealing with
Zimbabweans who are giving aid to the enemies of the country by deliberately
portraying it in a bad light," the newspaper said.
It is difficult to
imagine anything more "treacherous" than one journalist seeking the state's
complicity in the persecution of another. But that of course begs the
question as to whether many of those describing themselves as journalists in
the state media are anything more than public relations officers for the
But their attempts to camouflage the truth are unlikely to
succeed if only because the evidence on the ground is so stark.
President Mugabe is seen abroad as a "ruthless despot", that could well have
something to do with his record. It doesn't require foreign correspondents to
relay that message to the international audience. His often intemperate and
vindictive remarks about domestic critics and foreign leaders are quoted in
full by Zimbabwe's fawning state press. Very often individuals such as Roy
Bennett and Pieter de Klerk are targeted simply for seeking the protection of
the courts in defence of their legal rights, or in Bennett's case the very
fact of him being an opposition MP.
Commercial farmers generally have
been abused in the most excoriating terms for declining to be dispossessed of
properties the government declared it had no interest in. The residents of
Harare have been insulted for voting for the opposition.
MPs have been arrested in droves. Civic demonstrators have been beaten and
arrested for exercising their constitutional right to demonstrate. Lawyers
have been tortured for daring to represent clients seen as critical of
Much of this evidence has been set out in court cases.
Are foreign correspondents to be punished for relaying what is in most cases
a matter of public record?
It was the Minister of Finance who said
the country's inflation rate was the highest in the world. As for the
government of President Mugabe "sitting idly by" while the economy
experienced an "unprecedented free-fall", no such suggestion has been made.
On the contrary, nearly all journalists outside the state sector have rightly
said the government is directly responsible for propelling this country on
its disastrous current trajectory.
Its reckless assault on commercial
agriculture has inevitably produced a harvest of thorns. The 1998 agreement
with donors, brokered by the UNDP, provided a reform template that would have
redistributed large acreages with the financial support of the international
Instead agricultural production has collapsed and we are
dependent upon the generosity of countries which can feed themselves and have
plenty left over for those which no longer can.
How is it possible
to write that story as a success? It is a disaster by any definition. And it
is nobody's fault but those who led us there.
As recently as
yesterday the government media was claiming that Zimbabwe has "a sound
investment climate unparalleled in Southern Africa". It must be assumed
investors haven't noticed what has been happening on Kondozi Farm where the
owners have been arbitrarily deprived of their huge investment by ambitious
and greedy ruling-party politicians in complete disregard of a court
It can be understood that the state's captive media is obliged
to endlessly replay its master's voice. And that this may involve a large
measure of dishonesty when it comes to attributing responsibility for the
state we are in now. But, as Jonathan Moyo pointed out some years ago,
"adopting a confrontational stance against opinions of citizens under the
pretext that they are foreign-influenced is a colonial mentality based on the
paranoid assumption that behind every thinking Zimbabwean there is a
How objective are politicians in the discharge of their
public duty in situations where there may be a conflict of interest, Moyo
"These and related questions cannot be answered by a gullible
press which believes that finding and highlighting government faults is
unpatriotic," he said. "The questions demand a critical press and not a
government information department masquerading as the press. Only a free and
critical press can save the country from falling hostage to political
manipulation by the powers that be." We couldn't agree more.
THE governor of the Reserve Bank, Dr Gideon Gono,
continues to be the very deserved recipient of high commendations from almost
all in both the private and public sector. Those commendations are founded
upon recognition of his intense motivation to try to restore economic
wellbeing to Zimbabwe, despite the myriad of potentially insurmountable
economic obstacles and of overwhelming difficulties occasioned by
circumstances virtually, if not totally, beyond his control.
commendations are based upon awareness of his unbounded ability to work for
hours and hours, and days and days, on end with disregard for consequential
physical exhaustion, because of his anxiety to bring about economic
transformation as rapidly as humanly possible. The commendations are also
founded upon recognition of his willingness to consult, to seek guidance and
advice widely, instead of an arrogant conception that he
Instead, he readily acknowledges that none,
including himself, can conceivably formulate and implement a vast range of
diverse policies without some of them being either ineffective or
insufficiently effective. He is prepared to accept that there must be an
evolutionary process of monetary policy formulation where policies must be
subjected to modifications, if necessary.
Thus when he presented
his review of the first quarter of 2004 under the monetary policy which he
had announced on December 18, that review was generally very well received.
His audience in the RBZ auditorium, and his wider, nationwide audience via
television and radio were, in the main, very impressed. They welcomed the
depth of the review and the clear successes of some of the new monetary
policy. And they welcomed the fact that he openly recognised that some
changes to those policies were necessary, and that the successes to date were
"modest" and only "encouraging pointers towards success".
the "pointers" which he highlighted was the slight reversal to
the hyperinflationary trend that had prevailed for all too long. Reflecting
on that reversal, he drew attention to the fact that whilst
month-on-month inflation had averaged 18% in 2003, and reached a peak of
33,6% in November, 2003, it "retreated to 13,7% in January, 2004, to 6% in
February", and a further slight deceleration to 5,9% in March. Moreover,
year-on-year inflation had peaked at 622,8% in January, but fell to 602,5% in
February and to 583,7% in March.
He addressed in some considerable
detail, the pursuit of stabilising the foreign exchange regime and maximising
the inflows and availability of critically needed foreign currency. In that
regard he highlighted that in the first quarter of 2004 the delivery of gold
to the mint was 5,13 tonnes, worth US$67,3 million, compared to 3,4 tonnes
worth US$39,0 million in the first quarter of 2003.
exchange inflows amounted to US$333,5 million during the first quarter of
2004, as against only US$301,7 million for the entire 12 months in
But Gono also disclosed that he considered that the RBZ had
also suffered some short-comings, stating that "as monetary authorities, we
remain deeply remorseful over the failure of our systems to timeously and
appropriately guide the market in areas of prudential financial sector
He continued that: "With hindsight, we as the central bank
feel that we could have guided the sector much better than we did, especially
during the last half of 2003, when a lot of the short-earnings seem to
have accelerated. We are taking self-corrective action in this
The humility of this self-recrimination was very highly
regarded by the private sector, being so very different to experiences over
the years insofar as the public sector's prolonged belief of infallibility
was concerned. After making this self-effacing admissions, the governor
then enumerated, in very considerable and impressive detail, the remedial
actions initiated by the central bank.
After a comprehensive
review of the circumstances of Zimbabwe's various economic sectors, the
governor then identified how agricultural and mineral exports, value-added
manufacturing and exporting of manufactured goods, enhanced tourism and
accessing foreign exchange from Zimbabweans abroad would be essential
elements for economic recovery. He urged that Zimbabwe needs to "export first
in order to import", and that to do so a paradigm shift is required, to which
end he announced various new monetary policies, and modification of
These included that exporters who are able to achieve timely
acquittances of export proceeds by way of advance payments and prepayments,
the 20% mandatory sale of export proceeds to government would be transacted
at the ruling auction rate, instead of $824 per US dollar, as previously
pertained. These provisions would also pertain to tourism operators' foreign
Concurrently, the entitlement to partial
retention of export proceeds in Foreign Currency Accounts by exporters with
approved extensions of acquittal periods was modified to aid such exporters,
the 15% FOB Export Incentive Scheme was modified favourably from an exporter
perspective, and a $5 200 to US$1 exporter floor price was introduced for the
foreign currency auctions. Various other positive exporter support measures
were also announced. Unfortunately, as meritorious as these measures and
moves are, they will not suffice to restore fully exporter viability and
achieve substantial enhancement of export earnings.
Many are under
the erroneous impression that by virtue of their previous realisation of
earnings through the parallel market, exporters were realising vast profits,
but in most instances that is, or was, a far cry from reality. In practice,
exporters have been subjected to massive cost increases over a very prolonged
period of time. Responsive to pronounced inflation, wages were necessarily
increased progressively to a very considerable extent.
charges soared upwards, to levels way beyond the scales of charges applying
elsewhere in Sadc. Other costs similarly spiralled upwards. But exporters
could not increase their foreign currency denominated selling prices, for
doing so would have rendered them highly uncompetitive as against suppliers
of like products operating in countries with markedly lower rates of
inflation. All that could, under such circumstances, have maintained exporter
viability, was a devaluation of Zimbabwe's currency.
dogmatically and myopically refused to devalue. The result was that the only
way whereby the exporters could survive was by achieving a de facto
devaluation through parallel market trading. That kept them alive. It did not
make them millions! That that is so is very evident from study of inflation -
adjusted financial statements which demonstrate that most enterprises either
sustained losses, in real terms, or at best attained very markedly reduced
And now, once more, they have been cast into a position
that continuance of operations once again places their very survival in
jeopardy. Although several measures announced by the governor are beneficial
to exporters, the bottom line is that the benefits can only, in most
instances, reduce losses, and will not restore profitability. The reason for
this is that most exporters cannot access advance payments for their exports,
or even any early payment after shipment, for foreign competitors are willing
to extend credit to customers.
As a result, most exporters cannot
benefit from the governor's "carrot-and-stick" measures. They must surrender
50% of their export proceeds, realising a niggardly $824 per US$1 on half of
that surrender, and $5 200 per US$1 on the balance. This yields them an
effective blend rate of only $3 012 per US$1, which compares most
unfavourably with the required effective blend rate of between $5 000 and $6
000 per US$1, previously attainable in the parallel market (and before
recognising the further impacts of inflation upon exporters' costs since the
near demise of that market).
Also still embattled are those
exporters who have an import content and/or other foreign currency
denominated commitments which, as a proportion of export earnings, exceed the
50% of such earnings that most of them are entitled to retain in order to
service their foreign currency inputs. As a result, they have to bid in the
foreign currency auctions to obtain their additional forex needs. To all
intents and purposes they are buying back their own forex earnings, with
concomitent costs and delays, impacting negatively upon their operations.
This too needs to be addressed.
MUCKRAKER was intrigued by a report in the Sunday Mail last
weekend suggesting Makonde MP and former journalist Kindness Paradza was
scheming with ANZ executives to obtain financial support from the perfidious
British for his Tribune newspaper.
"ANZ officials indicated that
in the event of them securing funding for Paradza, they would want to have a
say in the editorial policy of the Tribune, saying this is a clever way of
bringing back the Daily News," the Sunday Mail's usually suspect sources were
reported as telling the paper.
Indeed, it sounded exactly like
something a Sunday Mail source would be likely to say!
But how do
we explain the dramatic disclosure that Paradza is plotting with the ANZ to
obtain filthy Breetish lucre, leading to "serious questions about (his)
suitability as a Zanu PF MP"?
Apparently Paradza committed the heresy
of suggesting in parliament that Aippa and the Broadcasting Services Act
should be revisited because they were discouraging investment in technology
and the media.
And that's not all. He committed another unpardonable
offence, according to the Sunday Mail. "On April 16 the Tribune carried an
editorial in which it clearly bemoaned the demise of the Daily
News." Surely not? One newspaper championing the right of another to exist?
A half-baked "political analyst" was quoted as calling
it a "stupid editorial", thus helping us to appreciate the intellectual reach
of state-media commentators.
But, in addition to all this, there
appears to have been another, undisclosed, factor leading to the Sunday
Mail's attempted hatchet job. On April 23 the Tribune carried a front-page
story about the battle for Kondozi Farm headed "Msika lashes out at Moyo".
The battle had intensified, we were told, "with Vice President Joseph Msika
reprimanding the Minister of Information and Publicity, Professor Jonathan
Moyo for leading, together with other junior ministers, a clandestine
campaign to take over the lucrative farm using Arda as a guise". Now we
see where Paradza really went wrong. All is clear at last!
Zanu PF MPs should beware. Speak out in parliament and you could find
yourselves deselected next March by a minister who has never been elected to
anything in his life!
Can somebody please help us get to the bottom of
this Kondozi project! Just what is Moyo's interest in it that has led to this
reported standoff with the VP? Muckraker is informed there was a
delegation of 70 traditional leaders from Manicaland which came to see VP
Msika over that disputed farm. They were not "villagers" as claimed by the
Herald. The delegation was led by Chief Marange himself and included at least
39 chiefs. That is why the VP was ready to meet them. He said the acquisition
had not been done properly and ordered Arda to step back. To which the puffed
up Moyo took what looked like a few pot shots at Msika while purporting to
comment on the Standard story: ".there is no going back on Kondozi, come
rain, come sunshine and Arda as an institution is there to stay", he
The Herald reports that Chief Marange "has since disowned
the villagers". We hope its readers are aware that they are being treated as
fools. Why would Chief Marange disown a delegation that he himself led to
Harare? This would be the first African chief to disown his people. It's
unheard of in our African culture.
Muckraker reckons we need a huge
billboard at Africa Unity Square facing Herald House with a bold warning:
"Beware of Made." We have not forgotten his aerial bumper harvest last year.
We know what followed. He is already predicting another one. MDC agriculture
spokesman Renson Gasela has predicted a grain deficit this year from a survey
they carried out across the country. For this heresy he has literally been
We are not so naïve to take the MDC's predictions as
gospel truth, but we have even less inclination to believe Made any more.
Apart from "economic saboteurs" trying to "derail our very successful land
reform programme", there were real shortages of inputs such as seed,
fertiliser, draught power and diesel in addition to erratic rains throughout
the cropping period. But Made, borrowing generously from his friend Moyo, now
wants us to believe that "what Gasela is saying is the figment of his
imagination and of course it is the work of the enemy. It is clear that Satan
has taken hold of Gasela and his party."
Quite revealingly, he
didn't have any figures to disprove Gasela's claims. He didn't explain why
the police and GMB officials were seizing maize from urban dwellers returning
from communal lands at roadblocks if there was plenty for
"The police officers are only enforcing the laws . which
control the movement of grain in the country," was the lame excuse from Made.
We thought it was commonsense that you only ration or control a product that
is in short supply.
If anyone was unclear about Zanu PF's propaganda
pitch ahead of next year's poll, it was set out quite neatly by Morris Mkwate
in last weekend's Sunday Mail under the heading "Private sector chiefly to
blame for economic woes".
"Although public sector corruption levels
remain high, startling revelations of massive corruption in the financial
sector have dispelled the myth that the government is solely behind the
That's strange. We don't recall the state media
ever saying that the government was even partly to
"Renowned economic analyst" Dr Samuel Undenge was quoted as
saying corruption in the private sector had brought the country's economy to
So that lets President Mugabe and his ministers off the
hook. Their economic management can now be safely removed from the public
spotlight. That includes all those parastatals that were encouraged to charge
in forex or find their fortune on the parallel market. How very
By the way, were you aware that all those millions of
South Africans casting their votes two weeks ago for the ANC were really
voting for President Mugabe? One of his apologists in the Herald was very
clear on this last weekend.
"Their overwhelming vote for Mbeki and
the ANC was not an acceptance of the status quo," we were told, "only a
recognition and reward that the ANC wishes to challenge and change it. And
Mugabe personifies that no-nonsense change they yearn for and will get or
wrestle sooner than later."
Has anybody told the South African public
this? The cheer he recieved at the inauguration emanated largely from the VIP
stands, we are told by somebody who was present. The general public were less
enthusiastic. Meanwhile, it was rather remiss of the ANC to block the PAC's
attendance at last week's Zanu PF solidarity shindig and then not turn up
We can't count the embassy staff who were sent along.
They were civil servants whatever their party
Muckraker can well understand Pretoria not wanting the
PAC grandstanding in Harare on the government's alleged failure to deliver on
land and then returning home to agitate for land occupations.
ANC should have come along to say that planned and consensus-driven policies
work better than racist demagoguery. That would have made South Africa's
approach to addressing colonial anomalies crystal clear to the investor
Meanwhile, our commiserations to the PAC for obtaining less
than 1% of the popular vote.
There was an interesting report in the
Herald last Friday concerning the re-arrest of safari operator Emmanuel
Fundira. His lawyer George Chikumbirike complained that magistrates were
being used as "toys" by either the police or politicians. One magistrate
orders the release of a prisoner while the police approach another magistrate
with the same old affidavit seeking to arrest the same
When Harare magistrate Sukai Tongogara ordered Fundira
released because he had been arrested without a warrant, the police quietly
left and approached another magistrate in the same court building for the
Chief Superintendent Patrick Ncube explained to the court
that he made sure that this time around the police had a warrant to be
"served to Fundira after he was released from prison". They waited for
Fundira to be brought to Harare remand prison to collect his personal effects
and Ncube instructed his officers to go and wait for him outside the prison
"I informed them that they should see that formalities had been
done . signing of the liberation papers, that he has been given his clothes
and he has been freed," Ncube revealed. It's a matter of form, not
In other words, when the police are not actively ignoring
court orders they are calculating how these can be circumvented without them
appearing to defy the magistrates issuing those orders. Meanwhile, the
accused is made to feel that he has been "liberated" as prison officials go
through the motions of giving him his clothes and perhaps even his relatives
are waiting for him at the gate. As soon as he puts on his clothes and steps
outside the gate the police pounce. What a better way to cause maximum pain
and break a man's heart!
We do hope those entrusted with
protecting people's liberties are treating this travesty of justice
seriously. It's not just diabolical, it makes an ass of the law. That's
exactly how James Makamba was waylaid after the court ordered his release and
he has not been "liberated" since. We hold no brief for a Zanu PF opportunist
like Makamba, but his case represents the most shocking abuse of the legal
system since the Cain Nkala affair.
President Robert Mugabe's
Independence Day speech was a huge yawn. Not for lack of invective against
phantom enemies threatening our sovereignty, but for a surfeit of imagination
and scapegoating. The opposition MDC was conspicuous by its absence in the
written speech, although it got more than its fair share of bashing in
off-the-cuff remarks for lack of proper ideological
While the speech opened with bluster about Zimbabweans
facing the "future with confidence, hope and dignity" it was so laden with
anger one was left wondering where the confidence about the future lay. It
was a litany of problems more than solutions. We are not sure when land will
be repossessed from "greedy multiple owners" for distribution to the needy -
those trained at numerous agricultural colleges who can put the land to good
use. What happened to Mugabe's ultimatum issued in July last year regarding
multiple owners? Is it being implied that there are sacred cows in Zanu PF
who can defy government policy with impunity?
The most astounding
claim was the cause of the country's economic decline and it bears quoting at
length to do justice to it.
"Our economy has been badly bruised by
some in our midst given to greed and corrupt practices. The situation that
has been obtaining in the financial sector is simply disgusting and has
required a very robust response,"said Mugabe. "Millions in foreign currency
have been externalised through a variety of fraudulent activities practised
by highly placed people we had trusted to manage our economy.
are very clear that far from deserving our trust, these fraudulent and
thoroughly dishonest people are the real enemies of our country and people,
whose place and permanent home is the prison."
Now don't we recall
the president boasting in 2000 that "no one could have managed the economy
better than I have"? Who are those that we are now told "we had trusted to
manage our economy"? So which economy was he managing?
Insurers next - Gono Ngoni Chanakira NOW that he
has removed the dirt from under the carpets of financial institutions,
Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) governor Gideon Gono says he is moving in on
the insurance and pension fund sector where the situation could be
"We are compiling a list of all defaulters and those caught on the
wrong side of the law will have only themselves to blame," Gono said last
week, departing from his prepared presentation.
"There is a lot going
on in the insurance and pension fund industry and we will get to the bottom
of it. Hollick, (Graham) I hope your members are listening."
Hollick is Old Mutual Zimbabwe boss and caught the governor's attention when
he asked a question at the monetary policy statement
Insurance sector firms listed on the Zimbabwe
Stock Exchange (ZSE) include Fidelity Life, First Mutual, NicozDiamond, Old
Mutual, Sare and Zimnat.
First Mutual is currently under suspension from
the bourse because it was exposed to the collapsed ENG Asset Management, shut
down by Gono when he began his clean-up exercise of the financial services
sector in December.
The matter between the ZSE and First Mutual has now
taken a legal twist and is headed for the courts.
There are several
insurance and pension fund firms not listed on the ZSE and Gono said these
would also be investigated because some of them were reaping but not
ploughing back into the public sector.
Major companies in the sector
include the National Social Security Authority Pension Fund, Mining Industry
Pension Fund, PTC Pension Fund, Zesa Staff Pension Fund, NRZ Contributory
Pension Fund, Local Authorities Pension Fund, Zimpapers Staff Pension Fund
and Intermarket Holdings.
"As monetary authorities we also take a keen
interest in the stability of the insurance and pension fund industry, as it
has an important bearing on the smooth functioning of the banking system,"
Gono said in his prepared speech.
"We are, however, greatly concerned
that the majority of players in this industry are not complying with
prescribed asset holding thresholds, citing unavailability of long-dated
government paper in the market."
He said investigations by the central
bank on the industry so far had been shocking as the majority of institutions
were flouting laid down procedures.
According to the insurance and
pension fund industry's compliance status as at December 31, companies in the
life assurance, life reinsurance, non-life reinsurance, funeral reinsurance,
and self-administered pension funds were not complying with RBZ regulations.
Only non-life assurance firms were complying.
"We are moving in on the
sector," Gono said. "You cannot eat your cake and have it."
to the regulations, life assurance firms are required to have a prescribed
assets holding of 45%, non-life assurance 30%, life reinsurance 45%, non-life
reinsurance 30%, funeral reinsurance 45%, and self-administered pension funds
45%. However, the central bank governor pointed out that the situation on the
ground was a cause for concern.
Life assurance firms stood at 9%,
non-life assurance 31%, life reinsurance 5%, non-life reinsurance 14%,
funeral reinsurance 21%, and self-administered pension funds 19%.
31% however the actual figure for non-life assurance was above the
30% requirement, giving it a positive variance of 1% and, therefore,
fully complying with RBZ regulations.
"As part of efforts to engender
long-term stability of the financial sector, we strongly recommend to the
authorities, auditors, boards and trustees to take necessary steps to ensure
compliance with statutory requirements by the insurance and pension fund
industry," Gono said.
RBZ to probe Agribank loans Shakeman Mugari THE
Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) will soon make a thorough audit of the $60
billion agricultural fund disbursed to farmers through the government-owned
Agribank last year.
RBZ governor Gideon Gono announced on Wednesday last
week that the bank would within the next few months comb through Agribank's
loan book in an effort to recover the funds.
"Furthermore, the coming
months will seek to see the proper account and recovery of the $60 billion
funds disbursed through the Land Bank Capital," he said. "Important lessons
should emerge from the exercise."
The audit would include an analysis of
the beneficiaries, how they used the funds and payback conditions that were
set by government and Agribank.
"Those who took the money must be made to
account for it," Gono said.
The disbursement of the fund has been a
subject of heated debate and controversy with allegations that the loans did
not reach intended beneficiaries.
There were allegations that top
government and bank officials allotted themselves millions of dollars for
speculative purposes. A number of ministers are also reported to have
benefited from the concessional interest rates offered under the
Gono said the RBZ had already begun consultations with the Ministry
of Lands and Agriculture to pursue debtors.
Repayment of the loans has
been slow with information that the bulk of the beneficiaries were unable to
Agricultural production has declined by a cumulative 26% over
the past three years. Since the beginning of the year agriculture has
benefited to the tune of $522,2 billion, which is 36,8% of total
disbursements under the concessional financing facility.
NRZ pays Spoornet R6m monthly Godfrey
Marawanyika THE National Railways of Zimbabwe (NRZ) is paying South African
rail service provider, Spoornet, R6 million in monthly charges.
foreign currency is being dished out mainly because the NRZ is failing to
return wagons borrowed from the South Africans.
Spoornet is a division of
Transnet Ltd, a commercialised company in which the South African government
is also a shareholder.
The latest development comes against the backdrop
of the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between NRZ management
and another South African firm known as Sheltam. Under the MoU the SA firm
will lease locomotives to be used by local chrome mining concern,
The situation has been worsened by NRZ only having 60 usable
locomotives when it needs at least 108 to operate viably.
seven divisions providing various transport services.
the group's rail transport interests and is the largest of Transnet's
divisions in terms of revenue, size and employee numbers.
the continued hemorrhaging of foreign currency from Zimbabwe to pay
escalating foreign debts, central bank governor Gideon Gono said
NRZ management should enhance operational efficiencies for a long-term
"Unavailability of locomotives has thus seriously impacted on
the company's ability to return foreign wagons to the owning railway
administrations, especially to Spoornet," Gono said. "This limitation is
resulting in NRZ paying monthly interchange costs of around R6 million to
Spoornet, effectively eating into the country's limited foreign exchange
CFU numbers dwindle Ngoni Chanakira THE Commercial
Farmers Union (CFU) which used to be the cauldron of Zimbabwe's agriculture
with more than 4 500 members now only has 1 100, according to CFU vice
president Stoff Hawgood.
In an interview after the presentation of
Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe governor Gideon Gono's monetary policy statement
review Hawgood said the membership continued decreasing.
members have joined the rival Justice for Agriculture (JAG) organisation
which broke away, accusing the CFU of being insufficiently robust in dealing
Hawgood confirmed that some of his members had been
offered lucrative farming opportunities in various neighbouring countries
including Zambia, Malawi and South Africa and some of them had taken up the
Recent reports have also linked Zimbabwean farmers to Nigeria
where President Olesugun Obasanjo welcomed them.
"There isn't much
activity on the farms right now because farmers are not sure whether they
will be on that land tomorrow or not," Hawgood said. "The serving of Section
5 and Section 8s has resulted in many commercial farmers sitting on the fence
and wondering what is the next move."
He said the serving of notices had
brought commercial agriculture to a virtual standstill.
began taking over commercial farms in 2000 after having concluded that the
land apportionment programme agreed upon at Lancaster House was taking too
Political pressure also resulted in government speeding up the
process and compulsorily taking land away from commercial farmers unwilling
to offer their farms for resettlement.
The land programme has become
the major bone of contention between President Robert Mugabe's government and
Western nations as well as some African countries that describe it as being
"Just go around the country and see what is actually happening
on the farms," Hawgood said. "I can tell you that there is nothing happening
on them. Look at greenhouses, crops planted, and the actual herd whether it
be beef or dairy cattle. The situation is pathetic."
commercial farming was a very expensive venture and one needed to be a
hands-on person to be successful in it.
Gono in his monetary policy
statement review said agriculture remained the backbone of the Zimbabwean
economy as it pulls strong downstream linkages with manufacturing and other
key productive sectors, both as supplier and consumer of raw
He said between 2001 and 2003 production in agriculture,
hunting and fishing declined by a cumulative 26%, undermining the country's
resolve to be self-sufficient on food security.
agriculture exerts pressure on the country's foreign exchange resources
through grain imports to meet internal deficits," Gono said. "As indeed a
proud nation, we need to rebuild our food reserves and consolidate on the
historic land reform programme, one of whose principal objectives was to
spread land ownership to the majority of Zimbabweans and in the process help
to alleviate poverty through growth and development."
WE Christians Together for Justice and Peace, an ecumenical
group of church leaders from a wide cross section of denominations in
Bulawayo, note with dismay the manner in which the recent by-election in
Zengeza was conducted.
Our interest is not partisan and we hold no brief
for either of the main competing parties, but we feel bound to express the
gravest concern about the violence, intimidation and other gross
irregularities which occurred both before and during the by-election. In
particular we deplore the shooting incidents which left one person dead and
We note the strong statements of condemnation issued by
the United States government and the European Union. Closer to home we note
the adverse comments issued by the Zimbabwe Election Support Network who were
only able to deploy half the number of independent poll observers they wanted
and yet still recorded irregularities and intimidation across the
We further note that Zimbabwe is a signatory to the 2001 Sadc
protocol on electoral standards, yet almost every single one of those
democratic norms were breached in a flagrant manner.
Here we need only
mention the Sadc requirements that "eligible individuals should have the
right to non-discriminatory voter registration and nomination procedures",
that they should have the right "to vote unimpeded and . in secrecy" and that
"any measures such as political violence, kidnapping, murder, threats and
sanctions .that prevent eligible individuals to register and to vote in
secrecy should be perpetually outlawed by Sadc member states".
standards protecting the sanctity of the freedom of association
and expression, encouraging the development of a free and independent media
and giving the opposition equal access to the state-owned media, were
equally flouted. And once again the Sadc norm of a completely independent
and impartial electoral commission was mocked by our own Electoral
Supervisory Commission which has proved to be nothing more than an instrument
of the ruling party.
Indeed in view of so flagrant and comprehensive a
breach of the Sadc electoral standards we are surprised that no Sadc
government has yet complained - or complained openly.
Our own sad
conclusion is that the electoral environment in Zengeza was neither free nor
fair, and therefore the declared result cannot be taken to represent the will
of the electorate. So obviously flawed a process was bad for democracy. It
further undermines the legitimacy of the present regime and sets a bad
precedent not only for the forthcoming by-election in Lupane but for the
parliamentary elections planned for March 2005.
As Christian leaders we
seek the shalom (peace) of all God's children in this land. We feel bound to
speak boldly and clearly on this issue before it is too late. To flout the
democratic norms and standards agreed by Sadc for the region is to show
contempt for the will of the people and to continue on this path regardless
is only to invite disaster for the nation. Faced with such a serious threat
to the peace and well-being of our people we cannot remain silent.
urgently plead with our present rulers to turn from the path of tyranny and
to bring Zimbabwe's electoral laws and practices into conformity with the
Sadc standards which they have already approved.
We urge each and every
one of our fellow citizens to make their contribution to lasting peace by
dissociating themselves from every form of intolerance and violence and to
promote a culture of mutual respect and non violence. If Zimbabwe is to be
saved from untold further suffering there is not a moment to
I WAS sorry to
say goodbye to Australian ambassador Jonathan Brown last week. He has been an
exemplary diplomat taking a strong interest in civil society, raising the
profile of his country and earning the high regard of all who met him. His
farewell reception was well-attended by a representative cross section of
Zimbabwean society and his remarks, among the most forthright I have heard at
a diplomatic function, were characteristic.
He spoke of Australia's
aid programme that took him to villages in Mt Darwin, Beitbridge, Nyanga,
Wedza and the Dande Valley.
He was struck by the importance people
attached to education for their children.
Parents, teachers and pupils
alike, he said, were deeply committed to learning and to seeking improved
facilities to make a better future possible.
He spoke of the
destruction of commercial agriculture he had witnessed in A2-designated areas
on commercial farms.
"In some of these cases the use made of the land has
caused immense damage to agricultural assets," he said. "The prosperity of
the nation has clearly been adversely affected. The figures issued by
industry groups and credible official sources have pointed to a steady
decline in the agricultural sector."
Brown said while he supported the
aspirations of genuine new farmers, he could not believe people could be
expected to farm productively given the manner in which they have been
"There may be success stories," he said, "but I have not seen
them. Zimbabwe may have suffered from a drought that is now diminishing, but
drought is not responsible for the broken fences, the game snares, ruined
greenhouses, and derelict and burnt-out farm buildings that I have
He said the most striking memories were the disturbing
"I have met mothers who have said their babies are crying because
they are hungry and they have no food for them. I have witnessed village
councils thank NGOs for bringing food when their communities have been on the
brink of starvation. I have worked with people who have died of HIV/Aids, and
who have spent too much time at funerals. I have met a member of parliament
who was tortured while in custody. I have met a civic leader who was
savagely beaten by police. I have met lawyers who have been assaulted while
assisting their clients. I have read court orders and heard from litigants
that the orders have not been respected or implemented by the
Brown said he had met judges who expressed fear for the
independence and effectiveness of their judicial responsibilities.
have met businessmen who have complained that government economic policies
have forced them into illegal practices to remain viable. I have met
businessmen who have been assaulted by others grasping for their enterprises.
I have seen people afraid to talk about politics in public places. I have met
members of the ruling party bitter and angry at their situation. I have met
members of the opposition who, with patience and courage, pursue a deep
commitment to peaceful democratic change."
Brown said it was usual on
occasions such as his farewell reception to talk about the happy memories one
would carry away on leaving the country.
"In view of what people have
shared with me," he said, "it would be a mockery to say I leave this country
with happy memories. I leave Zimbabwe with an earnest and abiding hope for
Brown attended the Abuja Commonwealth Heads of Government
Meeting in December. The final communiqué recorded: "They reiterated their
commitment to non-racism, international peace and security, democracy, good
governance, human rights, rule of law, the independence of the judiciary,
freedom of expression, and a political culture that promotes
transparency, accountability and economic development."
situation in Zimbabwe was considered against these values, he noted, "all
Heads of Government or their representatives present, including friends of
the Government of Zimbabwe and the leaders of the 15 African Commonwealth
countries, came to the inevitable conclusion that Zimbabwe must remain
suspended from the Commonwealth. The integrity of the Commonwealth was
preserved and affirmed by our leaders."
Australia hoped that conditions
would eventually improve in Zimbabwe to enable its full return to the
Commonwealth, Brown said. "Until then, Australia will continue to support
human rights and democratic processes in Zimbabwe and those who promote them,
including the NGO community."
Some of Ambassador Brown's most revealing
remarks were about his prime minister, John Howard who is often the target of
abuse by Zimbabwe's leaders. He said he was surprised in the unlikeliest of
places when people who heard he represented Australia said: "Oh, that's John
Howard. We like Howard. He speaks it like it is."
certainly no coward. He says what he thinks about our delinquent rulers and
enunciates the principles for which his country and other members of the
Commonwealth stand. Which, as he proved at Abuja, is increasingly
the international consensus. That may explain why he is so demonised by
the government's propaganda machine!
Brown's remarks confirmed
something I have myself been beginning to conclude. That those most abused by
the real cowards in our midst are quickly seen by everybody else as their
friends. The size and varied complexion of Brown's audience last Friday paid
testimony to that.
Jonathan Brown was certainly a friend of Zimbabwe. And
he will be remembered as such by all who met him. I wish him and Camilla all
the very best and look forward to seeing them again in a free Zimbabwe.