With weeks to go before
President Thabo Mbeki's self-imposed June deadline to bring about political
change in Zimbabwe, his office has conceded that a resolution is still not in
sight. Mbeki - engaged in "silent diplomacy" since 2000 to unravel a crisis
that has also damaged the economies of Zimbabwe's neighbours - promised in
June last year that there would be a "solution to the Zimbabwe crisis in a
year's time". He reiterated in talks a month later with US President George W
Bush that President Robert Mugabe would indicate by last December that he was
going to retire and that elections would be held by June. His comments came
at a time of mounting international pressure on South Africa to adopt
compelling but measured methods to force Mugabe to tackle his country's
problems. But on Friday, Mbeki's spokesman Bheki Khumalo conceded the
deadline on the Zimbabwe issue was rapidly slipping away and was unlikely to
be met. "If the deadline is not met it will still be up to Zimbabweans to
resolve their own problems and the President has said that he would like to
work with all political parties there to find a solution. It took years to
resolve the problems in the Congo. These issues need patience and I think
that should be the approach in Zimbabwe." Indications on the ground in
Zimbabwe also point to a solution not being found by June. After informal
talks last year, Mugabe's Zanu PF party and the opposition Movement for
Democratic Change are now again worlds apart on issues and political agendas.
However, the head of Zanu PF's talks delegation, Patrick Chinamasa, last week
tried to revive hope in talks by claiming that "informal dialogue is taking
place". But the leader of the MDC's negotiating team, Welshman Ncube, said:
"I'm not aware of any dialogue taking place now. I can't even remember when
we last met because it's a long time ago." Hostilities have been resurfacing
between the two parties due to Mugabe's insistence that the opposition must
first cut its "umbilical cord" to Western countries before talks can proceed.
The situation was worsened this week by the flooring in parliament of two
Zanu PF ministers, Chinamasa and Didymus Mutasa, by MDC MP Roy Bennett during
a heated debate. Zanu PF has seized the opportunity to go on a revenge
mission against the MDC and political repression is set to
Meanwhile, the two parties are engaged in low-intensity
electioneering ahead of next year's general election. MDC leader Morgan
Tsvangirai said this week: "Our preparations for 2005 are in full swing.
Never before has our entire nation been so ready for a showdown with Zanu PF.
We have... a programme that will deliver change and ensure a legitimate MDC
victory. "The programme is structured in a way that would enable us to
intensify pressure on the regime to accede to our demands for the...
conditions necessary for... genuine, democratic elections." Mugabe said last
week he would retire in 2008. "I want to retire from politics. I have had
enough," Mugabe told Kenyan journalists. "I am also a writer and would like
to concentrate on writing after this term of office is over." Zanu PF is
absorbed in infighting over the issue of its leader's succession. Mugabe said
last week his lieutenants were fighting over his job. He said his party
functionaries were even going to witch doctors to seek charms to become
president. Since the emergence of the MDC in 1999 and the beginning of
ongoing violent land invasions in 2000, Zimbabwe has been on a precipitous
decline. The country has been a cauldron of sustained political violence and
is facing economic collapse. Zanu PF was accused of winning the 2000
parliamentary election through a campaign of violence and intimidation, and
of rigging the 2002 presidential election. The economy has been tumbling and
the country's agriculture is in ruins. Inflation has peaked at 600%,
unemployment is at 75% and poverty at 80%. Company closures have been rife
and this has fuelled joblessness and political instability. Shortages of
foreign currency, fuel, power, basic commodities and food have become
commonplace. Mugabe has reacted to popular discontent and challenge against
his despotic rule - largely caused by his leadership and policy failures -
with intensified repression and defiance of the international community.
Cancellation of the Zimbabwe cricket Tests offers only a
small fig-leaf to cover a large embarrassment, writes Gideon
George Bernard Shaw once said that an Englishman thought he
was moral when he was simply feeling uncomfortable. The same, increasingly,
seems to apply to our sportsmen and sporting administrators. How else to
explain how a team of Australian cricketers, queasily conscious of the
dubiousness of the honour, are guests of Robert Mugabe. Sport has hardly been
declared morality-free. We have furious, foam-flecked debates about matters
that it would be flattery to call trivial: whether James Hird should have
dissed an umpire, whether Sam Newman should be permitted in public without
taking his medication. We nonetheless stumbled into Zimbabwe claiming heavy
hearts and admitting utter confusion, while still mouthing the piety that
"it's only a game of cricket" - to quote Adam Gilchrist. Gilchrist's baffled
column in The Age last week is perhaps the most telling artefact of this
sorry affair, having recourse in discussion of Zimbabwe's plight to phrases
such as "alleged heartache" and "reported suffering"; one awaits references
to "apparent bombings" in Iraq and "rumoured detention" of asylum
seekers. Zimbabwe's 11th-hour cancellation of the two-Test series provides
only a very small fig-leaf to cover a very large embarrassment. It should be
clear that our cricketers found themselves in Harare not because they
particularly wanted to be, or to further cricket's good name, or even because
they were expecting a good game - quite the contrary, because the internal
exile of the country's (mainly white) first XI has left a ragged (mainly
black) second XI in its place, a catchweight contest had been expected.
Instead, they were there because of the consequences of their not going.
Swingeing fines and a costly suspension awaited those member countries of
the International Cricket Council breaching contractual undertakings to
tour others; time will tell how it deals with those who rescind
invitations. Cricket Australia described the exercise as "a box we have to
tick". Boxes are an important cricket accessory, but not usually in this
respect. It was a dismal auspice for a cricket tour.
Australia, from where the rest of the world is viewed as through the wrong
end of a telescope, there has been precious little information about
Zimbabwe's benightedness as a nation. Free speech and fair elections are
things of the past there; dissent is ruthlessly crushed by means
from expropriation to execution. By every conventional measure, the country
is sliding backwards. Life expectancy is lower than in 1960. Two-thirds of
its population is on the brink of famine or "food-insecure",
despite three-quarters of the country's grain already coming from the World
Food Program. About three million of its people have fled, mostly to
South Africa. The economy has contracted for four consecutive years.
Inflation runs into hundreds of per cent, unemployment is at about 50 per
cent. Nor are these acts of God; they are acts of Mugabe's corrupt, despotic
and increasingly desperate regime in no more than a handful of years. It
was reasonably pointed out that we play sport against countries that are
not exactly democratic fashion plates. What made this tour farcical,
however, was the way Mugabe's Zanu PF party has so unceremoniously wrested
control of the Zimbabwean Cricket Union in the past few years, populating it
with cronies, politicising its management and selection processes, and
turning it into a vehicle for propaganda and personal aggrandisement.
Zimbabwe cricket's travails have hardly been secret. Since 2000, 20 leading
players have left Zimbabwe prematurely, including Neil Johnson, Murray
Goodwin, Andy Flower and Henry Olonga. The rest, courageously, held their
peace until their captain, Heath Streak, made a private protest about various
recent selections that on April 2 earned him the sack; they were then sacked
for supporting him. This was depicted to the world as a matter of race,
which has a way of making liberal consciences quail. But what Zanu PF has
wrought in Zimbabwe cricket has been only marginally about the empowerment of
black countrymen, or toppling a final graven idol of
As with so much of the Mugabe "revolution", it has been
about party apparatchiks seeking stature and another exchequer to raid amid
encircling chaos. Remarkably, 12 members of the Zimbabwe Cricket Union and
their partners managed to visit Australia during Zimbabwe's tour last season,
all expenses defrayed - remarkably because the union struggles to keep a
viable first-class cricket structure going in Zimbabwe. We should not only
never have set foot in Zimbabwe; we should never have come close. Such debate
as there was about the advisability of Australia's tour, alas, was
crushingly disappointing. Apologists ran the tired line that politics and
sport should not mix; like it or not, they do, time and again, and it is the
cricket union that has in this instance done the mixing. A counter-argument
was that cheap runs and easy wickets on offer endangered the sanctity of
cricket statistics, as though recalcitrant scorers might ignite an
auto-da-fe fuelled by Wisdens. It is strange to recall that cricket was
once supersaturated with morality - sometimes to the point of nausea. These
days, professional athletes are not expected to think about anything more
than their sport, or at a pinch distinguish between sunglass sponsors or
choose which nightclub to patronise. "The bottom line for me is that we
are cricketers," wrote Ricky Ponting in his most recent book. "Our job is
to play cricket." Curiously, when it suits them, athletes love
cloaking themselves in the flag, proclaiming the patriotic pride they derive
from representing their countries - and we love it when they do. Hundreds
of millions of Indians and Pakistanis who revelled in their countries'
recent Test series did not think they were watching 22 men doing their jobs.
If Zimbabwe cricket were merely a place of work, Zanu PF would never
have coveted its control. Professional athletes should be careful about
drawing too much attention to that "bottom line", lest they be taken at their
For here lies, for sport, perhaps this fiasco's most troubling
dimension: not merely that moral arguments no longer have traction, but that
they seem to have been supplanted by commercial considerations. For the past
seven weeks, the International Cricket Council has kept an incriminating
silence, save for one ill-aimed volley from president Ehsan Mani on 7 May:
"If the rebels believe that walking out will result in other countries
interfering in Zimbabwean cricket, I think that they have been very badly
advised." A strange world this when players sacked and expelled become
"rebels" who are "walking out". Then, on 18 May, after the cricket union had
refused to meet his chief executive, Mani foreshadowed the meeting of the
International Cricket Council's executive board, whose threat to the tour's
standing finally precipitated its cancellation. "It's up to the directors
to determine if these matches should have Test status or not and to
exercise their judgement as to what course of action best protects the
integrity of the international game," he said.V.V.S. Laxman could not have
executed a glide more effortless. One moment the ICC could not be
"interfering in Zimbabwean cricket"; the next it had to protect "the
integrity of the international game". For "integrity", though, read "value of
the franchise". In June 2000, the council signed a seven-year, $US550 million
deal for the broadcasting of international cricket with Global Cricket
Corporation, now an arm of News Corporation. But Test matches in which teams
declare at 3-713 - as Sri Lanka recently did against the new Zimbabwe - and
one-day matches in which teams are routed for 35 - as the new Zimbabwe was
recently against Sri Lanka - scarcely enrich cricket's commercial cachet.
It's unlikely Rupert Murdoch himself has been on the phone; more probably -
like so many editors - the ICC has simply uncannily anticipated his
concerns. This is what happens when it becomes too vexing to distinguish
right from wrong, being moral from feeling uncomfortable: money makes the
decision for you.
Gideon Haigh is a writer and freelance
journalist. He has written several books about cricket, including The Big
Ship: Warwick Armstrong and The Making of Modern Cricket.
ICC want Blair decision on Zimbabwe tour Sun 23 May, 2004
By Mark Lamport-Stokes
LONDON (Reuters) - The
International Cricket Council (ICC) has called for the government to make a
clearcut decision over whether England should tour Zimbabwe in
Prime Minister Tony Blair's government has said it would prefer
England's cricketers not to tour the troubled African country but has stopped
short of ordering them not to go.
"What we seek are clear directions
and, so far, we have not had clear directions from the government in
England," ICC president Ehsan Mani told BBC radio on Sunday.
something for Mr Blair to do and for the England and Wales Cricket Board
(ECB) to put to us.
"David Morgan, the chairman of the ECB, has been very
clear that he accepts there is no moral argument to put forward to the ICC.
He has expressed concerns of his government's displeasure if the ECB were to
carry on with the tour of Zimbabwe.
"But he has accepted the fact that
the directions he has so far received are not a clear instruction to the ECB
not to tour."
Cricket's governing body has been embroiled in a political
battle with the British government and the ECB over the tour.
said in March any country refusing to tour for anything but security reasons
or governmental direction would face a minimum fine of $2 million and
possible suspension from the international game.
Zimbabwe cricket chiefs
have consistently argued there is no sound reason to cancel, but the England
team refused to play there in the 2003 World Cup because of security
However, Zimbabwe cricket has been in turmoil
since last month when 15 of their leading white players, including former
captain Heath Streak, refused to play.
They accused the Zimbabwe board
of allowing politicians to dictate the make-up of the team and of rushing
young black players into the side before they were ready.
to select an inexperienced team to play Sri Lanka, who won both tests by an
innings and the one-day series 5-0.
Zimbabwe's proposed two-test series
against world champions Australia was called off on Friday, just 24 hours
before it was due to start.
Zimbabwe would have had to field a severely
weakened side due to the simmering player dispute and the Zimbabwe Cricket
Union (ZCU) and Cricket Australia (CA) agreed to postpone the
The joint decision to call off the tests came only two hours
before an ICC teleconference which looked likely to strip the series of its
Such a move was, however, likely to be temporary, Mani said
"I don't think Zimbabwe will lose their test status on a
permanent basis," he said. "What we have tried to do in the interim is give
enough time and opportunity for the parties to come together if they
"What is important to us is the integrity of test
"If we find that the team they have is unable to compete at the
highest level reasonably...if it's going to make a farce of test cricket,
then obviously we cannot permit that. We've got to move to protect the
game," Mani added.
"But obviously we don't expect countries to win all
the time. After all, Zimbabwe have only won eight of their 75 matches in the
12 years they have been a member of the ICC.
"So one has to look at
this from a sensible perspective."
President Robert Mugabe will spend more than R30-million in unbudgeted funds
on buying new vehicles for and increasing payments to hundreds of traditional
chiefs in a bid to win their support in parliamentary elections next March,
according to officials and reports.
The decision is reminiscent of
similar unbudgeted payment made to liberation war veterans in 1997, which led
to the collapse of the currency and kick-started the events that have
resulted in the country's economic decay.
Traditional leaders, who have
become an integral part of Mugabe's electioneering strategy, help to coerce
illiterate villagers into voting for Mugabe's Zanu-PF party.
recently held parliamentary by-elections in Lupane and Gutu, chiefs were
reportedly placed at polling stations where they recorded the names
of villagers from their areas as they queued to vote.
were reportedly told beforehand that their voting was being monitored by
strategically installed cameras and those who "misplaced" their votes in the
opposition slots on the ballot papers would "suffer
Zanu-PF snatched the Lupane seat from the
opposition Movement for Democratic Change with a majority of about 800 votes.
In the 2000 parliamentary elections, the MDC won the seat by 11 000 votes.
Zanu-PF retained the Gutu seat, which was previously held by the late
vice-president, Simon Muzenda.
Apart from intimidating voters, chiefs
generally bar the opposition from canvassing in the rural
Mugabe has been holding meetings with the chiefs and officiated at
a meeting of traditional leaders in Masvingo a week ago. He promised to "look
after them", although he did not elaborate. Soon after that he doubled
their allowances and yesterday government officials said he had ordered
new vehicles for them.
Ministry of transport officials said they would
be placing orders worth about ZIM$15-billion at the country's main vehicle
manufacturer, Willowvale Mazda Motor Industries, for B1800 and B2500 Mazda
pickups for the 260 chiefs. This perk will be in addition to the increased
cash payments. A chief will now earn ZIM$1,5-million, slightly more than a
The government will probably have to borrow the
money, which will make it even more difficult to revive the
"With the election in sight, they (the government) could
possibly just print the money to accomplish the patronage.
done this before and there is no reason why they should stop," an official
The sops to the chiefs have fuelled speculation that Zimbabwe could
be heading for an early election. The parliamentary elections are
officially due in March but Mugabe could call an early election in October
before the current maize harvest runs out. Many senior ruling party
officials, buoyed by their success in by-elections, believe that if an early
election is held, the embattled MDC would be lucky to get 15 seats. It
currently has 51 seats in parliament. - Independent Foreign Service
Dean Jones, not that long ago a brave Test batsman for
Australia, has turned into a disappointingly timid commentator. Assuming that
he was quoted accurately last week, he was happy for it to be known that 'I
don't give a rat's arse what he [Robert Mugabe] does about his
country'. Curiously, the remark did not travel far beyond Jones's own
backyard, an indication of either boredom with the lingering farce that is
Zimbabwean cricket or indifference to the plight of people a long way away.
Jones is a well-travelled man, though. He should know better.
social and cricketing injustices that are obvious in one of the
most repressive regimes in the world do not, apparently, invade his
everyday thoughts. In his typically direct, Australian way, Jones explained
that he would be going there to commentate on the cricket and not the
politics, inadvertently revealing that the Zimbabwe government, regardless,
would censor any mention of the troubles that have so blighted the game
and society there.
'We just have to be careful what we say about
Mugabe,' Jones told the Australian newspaper. 'I've got no big deal about
it.' Not that he has to turn into James Cameron, but it seems that he is
happy to keep his mouth shut about Mugabe and earn money from the same
paranoid regime that has expelled the Daily Telegraph journalist Mihir Bose
and Reuters' Telford Vice, long ago kicked out the BBC and that forced The
Observer and Guardian writer Andrew Meldrum to leave.
There is now not
one independent newspaper in Zimbabwe. These are the bullies who threatened
Henry Olonga after his black-armband protest during the World Cup with such
subtlety that he fled the country. And it is the government that so
intimidated a Zimbabwean journalist recently that he considered leaving
because he feared for his life.
Jones was probably guilty of poor
judgment rather than crass disregard for the people of Zimbabwe, but it was
another blinding example of the insularity of some elite sportsmen. There are
a lot of former international players in sport press boxes everywhere and
they bring valuable insight. But they also have an obligation to their new
Ignoring the abuse of press freedom should not be an option for
anyone even pretending to be a journalist. Jones's compatriot, the former
Test spinner Kerry O'Keeffe, is known in Australia as a bit of a comic turn
on the radio, but he at least recognises a bully when he sees
'It's a wider issue than cricket,' he said last week. 'The only
similarity I can think of is South Africa 30 years ago and, really, the only
way it could be sorted out was through a change of politics, a change of
attitudes.' More important, perhaps, than the commentators are the people in
a position to effect change - such as Malcolm Speed, of the International
Cricket Council (ICC). Although privately outraged to be snubbed by the
Zimbabwe Cricket Union (ZCU) when he went there last week to try to sort out
the impasse between the ZCU and the 15 rebel players, he resorted to
doublespeak on his return to Lord's.
He said that he had two messages
for the people who run the sport in Zimbabwe: 'The first is that there is
widespread concern throughout cricket - from the cricket-playing countries,
from former players and current players - about the integrity of Test
cricket. The second is that we need to sort this out and we need to sort it
Fantastic. A month after he should have stepped in, Speed
decides to live up to his name and even then makes a pig's ear of it. It is
better than no response at all, but he knows that this is not just to do with
'the integrity of Test cricket'. In threatening to withdraw Test status from
the scheduled matches between the weakened Zimbabwe and rampant Australia,
he merely highlighted the folly of ICC policy in not doing so when Sri
Lanka arrived weeks ago.
Instead, the ICC allowed the ZCU to indulge
in outrageous brinkmanship with the players, exposing the baby-faced B team
to humiliating beatings by Sri Lanka and leaving unresolved the cause of the
problem. The ZCU then were allowed off the hook by cobbling together a deal
with Cricket Australia before what would have been a vote of censure by the
ICC members on Friday. And logically - for the right reason rather than the
reason Speed cites for calling off the Tests - the Zimbabweans and the
Australians still should not be playing the one-day games.
have long maintained that they have no obligation or inclination to intervene
in the running of the sport in Zimbabwe or elsewhere. Yet intervene is what
they have done, through well-meaning clumsiness rather than direct action in
Zimbabwe, and through a threat of fines and sanctions on England, if they do
not fulfil their commitment to tour there in October.
The ZCU also used
weasel words, claiming that the Tests against Australia had been 'deferred'.
They have not. They have been cancelled, as Cricket Australia's chief
executive, James Sutherland, confirmed when he said that the team were
'heavily committed over the next four years and it is extremely unlikely that
we will be able to play the two Test matches in this time frame'. Another
So where does this leave England? If Heath Streak's
boycotters do not return and the ICC and the ZCU apply their judgment of
convenience again, England will have no obligation to tour Zimbabwe or play
them anywhere in the longer form of the game. Nor would any other
Test-playing country. That will not help the rebels, their stand-ins or the
60,000 players in Zimbabwe who love the sport, but it might embarrass
The sadness of the shambles is that it has been played out in an
era of exciting, competitive cricket that Richie Benaud described last week
as the best he could remember. It has been a long time, though, since anyone
with a conscience could do what Dean Jones wants to do and just enjoy the
of Parliament for Chimanimani, Roy Bennet, who last week was involved in a
scuffle with two Cabinet Ministers in the House, said he reacted the way he
did because he failed to get protection from Parliamentary authorities when
Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa heaped personal insults on
Bennet, who has been illegally banned from setting foot in the
Parliament of Zimbabwe and Harare, and declared persona non grata in his home
area, Manicaland, by gangs of war veterans, Zanu PF youths and party
officials, bared his soul to The Standard yesterday.
The MP said
the Deputy Speaker of Parliament, Edna Madzongwe and the Clerk of Parliament,
Austin Zvoma, did not do anything to stop Chinamasa from verbally abusing
According to Parliamentary rules, the Speaker of Parliament or
anyone acting in that capacity should order withdrawal of offensive
statements made in the august house.
Failure to withdraw by the
offending MP would result in disciplinary action being taken against them.
This was not the case in Parliament on Tuesday where Chinamasa launched a
vitriolic onslaught on Bennet before the Chimanimani MP decided to take
matters into his own hands.
Bennet, who is very fluent in Shona, said the
drama started after he made his contribution in the vernacular language
during debate on an adverse report on the Stock Theft Amendment
"Chinamasa akandibvunza kuti sei ndataura neShona. Akatanga kuti
Bennet nemadziteteguru ake vakapindamuno muno muna 1890 vakatora land yedu
S imbavha nemhondi (Chinamasa asked me why I had contributed in Shona and
then said Bennet and his forefathers came here in 1890 and took our land S
they were thieves and murderers)," said Bennet yesterday.
mockingly went on to declare that Bennet would never set foot again at
Charleswood Estate, a farm he owns in his Chimanimani constituency.
complete defiance of provisional High Court orders granted by Justice Karwi
in February, the army, riot police and Zanu PF supporters have been camped at
Charleswood for months.
He said the soldiers, police and Zanu PF
supporters invaded his farmhouse, and some were sleeping on his bed, eating
his food and have cordoned off the farm, prohibiting people from entering or
leaving the property without their permission.
"What irritated me is
that Chinamasa, who is supposed to be the custodian of law and order, was
actually approving this barbaric behaviour by the army in defiance of a High
Court order, which his ministry gave," he said.
Bennet, who vowed that he
would not apologise, said any MP could have reacted in the same manner under
"I burst because I could not bottle up the anger.
I am human S anyone could have done the same under similar circumstances,"
said Bennet, who added that he was not afraid despite reports that
overzealous Zanu PF supporters were baying for his blood.
when the drama was taking place Madzongwe was glued onto her chair and had
remained mum. He accused Madzongwe and Zvoma of not protecting MDC MPs during
debates in Parliament but were quick to reprimand them when they
Meanwhile the Zimbabwe Liberators' Peace Initiative (ZLPI), a
grouping of independent war veterans and ex-detainees, says Bennet behaved
the way any provoked person could do given the circumstances.
not condone violence as a peace building organisation but the level of
intimidation that Bennet had to endure was excessive. Chinamasa is a
very educated man and a lawyer and he knows the reaction of a provoked man,"
said ZLPI president Max Mnkandla.
Chief Tangwena's widow invades farm in bizzare
conflict By Our Own Staff
NYANGA - Mbuya Matadzise Tangwena, widow of
national hero Chief Rekayi Tangwena, and six village headmen have invaded
Nyafaru farm in Nyanga and they have vowed to remain on the farm which has a
place in the history of Zimbabwe's liberation struggle.
It was at
Nyafaru where President Robert Mugabe met Chief Tangwena who helped him cross
the border into Mozambique to join several other nationalists who were
fighting Ian Smith's government during the 1970s.
The farm has, over
the years, been run by the Nyafaru Development Company (NDC) headed by
Anti-Corruption and Anti-Monopolies Minister Didymus Mutasa.
have however emerged between the two parties amid accusations that the NDC
has leased the lucrative farm to a timber company which is developing
Mbuya Tangwena, almost in tears, told The Standard on Friday
at Nyafaru how she felt after realising that the farm - which is about 45 km
east of the resort town of Nyanga in the Nyangani mountains - was to be
turned into a plantation of eucalyptus trees.
Not sure of her age and
needing the aid of a walking stick to go around the farm, Mbuya Tangwena -
who had to be taken to a clinic for observation shortly after the interview
with The Standard - said she felt betrayed by Mutasa.
" I only want
one thing, that is to see Mugabe and Mutasa because Nyafaru is gone," she
"I want the two to actually tell me that this land no longer
belongs to the Tangwena people and that it has been sold," she said,
disclosing that about 5 000 of her people now have nowhere to go.
people and I are prepared to die for this land and we will not move away. Let
them bring the soldiers as the Rhodesians used to do during the liberation
war," she said.
Rallying behind Mbuya Tangwena are village heads Pabwe
Piripija, Herbert Goora and David Mukanya, among others.
Piripija: "Tadzepetedzwa, tadzepwa." (We can't breathe, we have no brea thing
Mutasa, who became a board member of the company in 1965, said he
saw nothing wrong with Zimboard planting trees on the farm since it was meant
to benefit the people of Tangwena.
"All those allegations are not true
S they are stupid too,"said Mutasa in a telephone interview with The Standard
"Zimboard signed an agreement with (Moven) Mahachi when he was
still alive and the trees are being planted right now. I am only taking
responsibility of what is happening at the farm since I am the chairman,"
He added: "Chief (Nyabinde Mangwedere) Tangwena was at my
house in Rusape last week and told me that he was happy with the developments
that are going on the farm."
AirZim bus attached over $745m debt By Kumbirai
THE Deputy Sheriff on Friday attached a bus belonging to the
financially crippled national airline Air Zimbabwe after it failed to settle
a whopping $745 million it owes Sandy Chikosi who was unlawfully dismissed
from her position as a senior flight attendant.
Armed with a writ of
execution granted by the High Court, the Deputy Sheriff moved on the
airline's movable property at its airport premises on
However security personnel stationed at the airport
blocked the Deputy Sheriff from entering the premises prompting him to attach
property at the national airline's offices in the city
Although the Sheriff also faced some resistance at the city
offices, workers of the national airline came second best as the Deputy
Sheriff managed to get away with a few items that included a company
The seized property is now scheduled to go under the hammer at
Chikosi, who was employed as a senior flight attendant,
was unlawfully relieved of her duties in January last year without
Air Zimbabwe accused her of entering the UK with excess quantity
Following her dismissal, she appealed against her
sacking which was referred for arbitration in the Labour Court, which ruled
in her favour in January 2003.
Air Zimbabwe then consented to the
judgment and agreed to honour the claim. The national airline, which has paid
some little payments to Chikosi, still owes her large amounts.
Standard understands that under an agreement entered between the airline and
Chikosi on February 26 - which the national carrier is now backtracking on -
Air Zimbabwe committed itself to pay $37 million in instalments.
airline owes Chikosi $25 million and 76 127,70 British pounds which include
travel allowances. According to an agreement between the two, interest was to
be charged at 50 percent.
Arthur Manase, the airline's head of legal and
corporate affairs, disputed that an agreement was struck with Chikosi saying
the airline wanted to institute legal action against Chikosi. He also
disputed the claim involved arguing it was exaggerated.
Private Limited totally disputes any liability towards Ms Chikosi. We do not
consider her entitled to take the measures she has taken. Appropriate legal
measures are therefore being taken to ensure the situation is rectified,"
Air Zimbabwe, which is being restructured, has for years
failed to turn its fortunes. It owes creditors millions of dollars and its
managing director Rambai Chingwena recently quit in a huff. He is now in the
Disease fears as water cuts persist in Harare By our own
SEVERAL residential suburbs in Harare are experiencing frequent
water cuts, raising fears of an outbreak of communicable diseases such as
cholera in the densely populated areas.
Residents of high and medium
density suburbs such as Msasa, Mabvuku, Tafara, Cranborne, Braeside and
Mainway Meadows said life had become unbearable for them as a result of the
intermittent water cuts.
Michael Banda, the chairperson of Greater
Harare Informal Traders' Association who lives in Mabvuku, said they had
sometimes gone for days without water.
"We do not know why the council
cuts water supplies in Mabvuku without notifying the residents," said
He said the shortage of water was also affecting business because
most of the traders closed their shops since there was no water in the
Leslie Gwindi, the Harare City Council spokesperson, said the
council was aware of the water problems in suburbs such as
"We are fully aware of the water problems in Mabvuku. Our pumps
at Morton Jaffray Water Treatment Works are being repaired," Gwindi
The council has introduced 24-hour water cuts in some southern
suburbs to divert water to the north-east suburbs where there have been
erratic water supplies.
The water management exercise is meant to
allow the flow of water into the Letombo waterworks for subsequent pumping to
the north-eastern suburbs.
Supplies are being cut in some suburbs from as
early 9.00AM only to be restored 24 hours later. Some of the suburbs affected
by the water cuts include Hatcliffe, Waterfalls, parts of Borrowdale,
Helensville and Hillside.
RBZ Governor warns internal detractors By Rangarirai
RESERVE Bank of Zimbabwe Governor Gideon Gono has accused some of
his top lieutenants of working against his reforms at the central bank,
giving them up to the end of this week to "jump off the ship".
strongly worded internal memo he sent to deputy governors, division chiefs,
deputy chiefs and other heads of units, Gono ordered disloyal staff to show
their commitment or leave the bank by month end.
advantage of it before we place certain performance demands on each other,
which if you cannot meet, for lack of commitment to the cause, could result
in separation without a package", Gono warns in the memo, dated May 14 and
titled "Let's think about this".
Gono also says some of his staff are
only at the central bank to cover up for their crimes and those of their
"Some also see their continued role and existence in the bank
as one of safe-guarding previous misdemeanors on their part or that of
their colleagues still in or already out of the bank," Gono says.
questions the loyalty of the senior officials, who he accuses of being in
"denial mode" and showing "divided emotions".
"Unfortunately, there is no
room for split personalities in the bank," Gono continues.
either on board the journey to transform the fortunes of this country and
this bank positively or you are not part of the team. And if any of us feels
that they would rather be gainfully employed elsewhere than here, by all
means, please approach your immediate senior and ask for
The governor said his office was the "the beacon of
turnaround in the Zimbabwean economy" and demanded a loyal
Gono's letter comes amid a continuing dispute with a group of
senior managers over a staff purge that seeks to sweep away tens of
senior management positions.
Nearly three months after announcing the
restructuring exercise, affected managers have been spending the day
unoccupied in the absence of news from the Governor on their
Gono has now proposed a retrenchment package that, among other
features, will give affected workers 200% of their monthly salaries
multiplied by the number of years in service.
The result of last week's Lupane by-election should send a chill down the
spine of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) because of the
emerging pattern where the governing Zanu PF is wrestling - by hook or crook
- what were formerly considered its "safe seats."
The result, a couple of
months away from the crucial 2005 parliamentary elections should be very
worrying, observers say, to the opposition party leadership and its
The forthcoming 2005 election results will be the litmus
test on whether the MDC has the stamina to stand the vagaries of Zimbabwe's
tempestuous politics or be relegated into the dustbins of political history,
joining the likes of long forgotten parties such as the Zimbabwe Unity
Movement (ZUM), Forum and PF Zapu.
All these parties made a mark on
the country's political scene during their heydays but failed to dislodge
Zanu PF from power.
The fact that the MDC lost the parliamentary seat to
Zanu PF by a difference of a mere 883 votes should be more painful to the
opposition party as only 19 000 people, about 40 percent of the Lupane
registered voters, cast their ballot in a constituency with 48 134 registered
Zanu PF has a history of winning all elections (and even
by-elections) in areas where there is serious voter apathy and low voter
In Lupane Zanu PF's Martin Khumalo polled 10 069 votes to defeat
the MDC's Njabuliso Mguni who garnered 9 186 votes.
The win in Lupane
presented Zanu PF with its fourth valuable seat in Matabeleland after the
party won the Beitbridge and Gwanda South seats in 2000 and the Insiza seat
last year during a by-election after the death of the incumbent, George
"This is the beginning of the downfall of the MDC. The MDC has
barked too long. The party is finished, what happened in Seke, Insiza and in
Zengeza is an indication of what is to come," Sikhanyiso Ndlovu, the Zanu PF
deputy political commissar said, adding that the MDC would lose all its seats
in rural Matabeleland come 2005.
"The MDC has been using the same
tactics since 2000 and the tactics are now not making sense," he
"They have been talking about Gukurahundi and the lack of
development in Matabeleland but the government is now addressing those issues
and the party has suddenly run out of campaign strategies."
The win by
Zanu PF in Lupane now brings the party inches away from its much coveted
two-thirds majority in Parliament that would effectively make Zimbabwe one
party State in that Zanu PF would be in a position to make major
constitutional amendments without hindrance.
Political commentator and
National Constitutional Assembly (NCA) president, Lovemore Madhuku, did not
mince his words on the outcome of the Lupane by-election.
"The loss in
Lupane means that the MDC should re-strategise because if they go for
elections in the current political scenario Zanu PF is going to
win overwhelmingly next year," Madhuku said.
The Lupane seat fell
vacant after the death of the MDC legislator, David Mpala, who died early
this year of wounds sustained when he was allegedly abducted and tortured by
MDC secretary for legal affairs, David Coltart, was
cautious about the party's performance but said the party was far from
"Any political party that gets 9 000 votes under the
circumstances under which the MDC participated in Lupane is not a party
facing oblivion," said Coltart.
"Zanu PF used food and intimidation as
campaign tools. The food was distributed through the village headmen and if
anyone knows anything about Lupane, they would realise that the constituency
did not get a bumper harvest this year," he said.
While conceding that
the result was disappointing, Coltart drew solace in the fact that the MDC
maintained the number of voters who voted for the party in previous
Zanu PF bussed into Lupane hundreds of "Green Bombers" and war
veterans to campaign for the party, reported some election
The Zimbabwe Liberators Peace Initiative, a group comprising
war veterans and ex-detainees, says soldiers in civilian clothing were also
deployed to campaign for Zanu PF.
"We encountered the clean shaven
army recruits campaigning for Zanu PF all over Lupane but the soldiers were
also in the forefront in harassing innocent villagers," said Max Mnkandla,
the ZLPI president whose organisation monitored the election.
had predicted that the Lupane electorate, decimated by President Robert
Mugabe's shock troops in the early 1980s, would overwhelmingly vote against
However Madhuku said unless there were immediate constitutional
and electoral reforms, Zanu PF would "win" any election.
The MDC has
sent an ultimatum to government with 15 demands on electoral measures they
want to be revised before the 2005 poll, but the government has scoffed at
the MDC demands as time wasting. It has vowed that the 2005 poll and future
polls would be held under the current electoral laws.
However despite the
absence of widespread violence in Lupane, the MDC alleged that Zanu PF used
traditional leaders to tilt the vote in its favour.
In the last 12
months the government has increased the salaries and perks of traditional
leaders who include chiefs and village headmen.
*LAST week our Chief Writer Caiphas Chimhete, was in Lupane in
Matabeleland North where he observed the highly contested by-election. Below
are his observations of what went on during the two-day poll, in which Zanu
PF's Martin Khumalo narrowly beat Njabuliso Mguni of the opposition Movement
for Democratic Change (MDC) by 10 069 to 9 186 votes.
ON the first day
of polling, May 15, I woke around 5 AM because I intended to travel far north
to areas such as Chitete and Kanyandabu primary schools to personally witness
the start of voting in one of the remotest parts of the Lupane
I suspected that if there was any cheating, vote buying
or any other acts of electoral misconduct, it would be at such remote
constituencies away from public glare where this was likely to
Unfortunately, I failed to get there by 7 AM, the official time
of opening of polling stations, because of poor and dusty roads that are
characteristic of this under-developed province.
So, I decided to
start my business at Gegema Primary School, where by 7:25 AM, polling was
already under way.
As we arrived at Gegema school gate in a white Land
Cruiser, a group of people who were seated in chairs a few metres from the
gate scrambled for cover behind nearby bushes. Obviously, the group had not
expected "visitors" to disrupt their "business" in this remote part of
Upon investigating, I was told that it was the local
headman and some war veterans - all affiliated to the governing Zanu PF - who
were busy ticking off the names of people who were going to cast their
Interestingly, the other members of the group wielded wooden
clubs, and knobkerries with knobs as big as a child's head.
been made a known requirement by the headman that every voter had to pass
through this "military base" or face unspecified consequences, I was later
Just like at many polling stations I visited, the majority of those
who were going to cast their votes were elderly women and men. This was
disturbing when one considers that youths are the future leaders of the
country and logically, they should participate in mapping their destiny
through the ballot.
Surprising, most of the youths were loitering
around shopping centres drinking beer.
It was the same at the next
polling station, some 10 km down the road, at BH 42 Primary
Strategically positioned, another elderly man - whom I assumed to
be a war veteran or headman - was again ticking off the names of people
entering the polling station.
This particular group did not bother to
hide or run away, instead it was hostile. I had to retreat for my safety. By
mere observation, it was clear they were camped within a 100-metre radius,
which is not permitted under the Electoral Act but the police did nothing to
enforce the law.
After making several rounds at various polling stations,
I finally reached Kanyandabvu at around noon where sub-chief Khumalo, was
seated in a brown sofa at the gate of the polling station personally marking
the names of people who were coming to vote.
On noticing The Standard
news crew, Khumalo together with his assistants fled into the nearby bush to
the surprise of villagers who were milling around the station. So, he knew
what he was doing was illegal, was my conclusion
But real chaos was to
be found in the polling station where people were conversing with each other
while others were selling sugar cane and maize cobs to voters in the queue in
a scene reminiscent of a busy rural growth point like Murambinda in Buhera.
The vendors were later driven away by the police after observers complained
to the presiding officer Simangaliso Dube.
When leaving, I saw Khumalo's
brown sofa precariously hanging in a donkey-drawn cart full of maize as
villagers took it back to his home a few kilometres down the road. The
occupants of the carts said they had bought the maize from kraalheads
affiliated to Zanu PF at give-away prices as they came to cast their
It was almost the same scenario at most polling stations I visited
in Lupane with chiefs, headmen or village heads directing their subjects to
vote for Zanu PF. Another disturbing trend was the presence of police
officers conducting the voter checking process using indelible ink, which is
a breach of the Electoral Act.
For instance, at stations such as
Mabhonobono, Mzola 52, Dandanda and Ngcono Primary Schools, officers said
they were "following orders from above".
At BH 42 and Mahlalethutini
Polling Stations, war veterans known to be loyal to the Zanu PF regime were
loitering around the polling stations intimidating villagers, some of whom
still hold vivid memories of the brutality perpetrated among them by the
ruthless North-Korean trained Fifth Brigade in the early
Intimidation was not confined to voters only, as observers
believed to be sympathetic to the MDC were also prime targets. For example,
war veterans detained Luke Philip Ngwenya, a Zimbabwe Election Support
Network observer, for almost three hours accusing him of being an American
When I arrived at Ngcono Primary School, Ngwenya was in a state of
panic and did not want to stay for the night there. He only slept after
assurance from the police that he would be protected from marauding gangs of
youths and war veterans.
I noticed during my two-days in Lupane a
significant number of prospective voters being turned away for various
reasons including lack of proper identification such as names not appearing
on the voters' roll.
It was clear wherever I went that voter apathy was
prevalent and I was therefore perplexed, to read in the government-controlled
press that 19 644 people had voted in Lupane.
observation was that a significant number of the local observers were not
aware of their roles at polling stations they had been posted.
... and Bennet's impulsive reaction THOSE old enough will
recall many years ago when Ian Smith, the then rebel leader and former
Rhodesian Prime Minister , sang a song which blatantly implied that the
African people were baboons and which rightly caused great consternation
among Zimbabweans of all races, colours and creeds.
witness a government minister, Patrick Chinamasa telling a fellow member of
Parliament, Roy Bennett that his forefathers were "thieves and murderers".
What is the difference, we ask, other than that the tables are now
Like Smith's derogatory statement against blacks, Chinamasa's
diatribe was no less provocative and irresponsible. Indeed, at the present
level of global civilization such statements from supposedly learned people
like Chinamasa raise serious questions about their general deportment as
Chinamasa caused great offence not only to Bennett personally
but to many of his supporters and sympathisers across the colour line.
Needless to say, such intemperate, uncouth and vituperative language is not
expected of a minister who is supposed to lead by example.
important to put it on record that Chinamasa abused the absolute privilege
conferred on MPs over what they say in the course of Parliamentary debates or
proceedings. We fear for his wellbeing were he to repeat his crude insults
outside Parliament. By no means are we suggesting that the absolute privilege
should be taken away. Far from it. What we are saying, and with much
emphasis, is that MPs are expected to use this privilege responsibly, and not
recklessly as demonstrated by Chinamasa.
We certainly do not condone
violence wherever it rears its ugly head and condemn unreservedly Bennett's
impulsive reaction to Chinamasa's extreme provocation. But, as the MDC
legislator asked: " what was he expected to do under the circumstances? The
government has taken all that he has worked for in his entire life by
dispossessing him of Charleswood Estate, and to add insult to injury, heaps
demeaning invective on top of it all. We dare say even a saint or Mother
Theresa would have found such insults difficult to swallow.
an explosive emotion which, if not properly managed, can culminate in mayhem
and destruction. Many of us never know what we are capable of until
sufficiently goaded to act against the source of our annoyance. After all
Bennett is a human being with feelings and emotions like the rest of
Not only that. Bennett is a Zimbabwean just like Chinamasa and the
rest of us. Attempts in Zanu PF's tired propaganda refrain to associate
Bennett, on account of his white colour, with British imperialism and
neo-colonialism stink to high heaven.
Ask any black Zimbabwean in
Zimbabwe in general and Chimanimani in particular and they will tell you how
Bennett is such a lovable, likable and compassionate human being. The same
cannot be said about the Chinamasas of this world.
Bennett was elected by a predominantly black constituency. Chinamasa was not.
The majority of Bennett's supporters are black Zimbabweans and not white
Europeans or the British. Indeed, there is a disturbing ring of immorality in
what Zanu PF is doing to this man and many other Zimbabweans.
Cyclone Eline in and around Chimanimani, people will testify how Bennett rose
to the occasion and assisted the victims of the cyclone free of charge. Many
will further testify how in good times and bad, Bennett will be there for
them. He does all these things because he is first and foremost a Zimbabwean,
he loves this country and its people. Above all, he is an affable man with a
highly developed down-to-earth sense of humour which cannot be said of sullen
-faced Patrick Chinamasa.
We say all these things in the hope and belief
that the Parliamentary Privileges Committee that has been set up to institute
investigations on whether or not the behaviour of Bennett constituted
contempt of Parliament will be an honest broker in the whole controversy.
What the ruling party has done to Bennet by evicting him from his Charleswood
Estate in Chimanimani in defiance of numerous court orders and Chinamasa's
outburst in Parliament would have driven any man to boiling point. This is an
important factor that the privileges committee will need to consider in their
Parliament is intended to be a forum for open, free and
democratic debate on all questions and answers affecting the nation but not
to the reckless extent exhibited by Chinamasa. There is no doubt, Chinamasa
went overboard and his utterances were unbecoming of a government minister
and one supposed to preside over the country's justice system.
is no one that has been spared by the ruling party's misgovernance. Even the
rented crowds which demonstrated against Roy Bennett last Thursday are on the
receiving end of Zanu PF's misrule. These innocent souls, many of them
unemployed youths and idle women who cannot find work because of Zanu PF's
economic failure, are being used as canon fodder by some unprincipled and
sycophantic Zanu PF leaders.
The whole Bennett saga was not helped by the
blatantly biased coverage of the issue by ZBC and the government newsletter
which moonlights as The Herald. They totally ignored the context within which
Chinamasa and Mutasa were floored by Bennett. But then we have become
accustomed to the government media's ceaseless work to lie, distort and
suppress other viewpoints except those of government.
Where do we go
from here? The privileges committee must approach its work impartially,
objectively, dispassionately and in a reasoned, non-partisan and deliberate
way. Chinamasa's excesses must be challenged. The point must be made there
are many white Zimbabweans who stand alongside their black counterparts,
working to save this nation from total collapse.
They just want to get on
with their lives doing what they know best.
Zany Thieves (Private) Limited overthetop By Brian
PANDEMONIUM erupted in what passes for the troubled central
African nation's parliament this week when two notorious Zany politicians
insulted an MP from the More Drink Coming Party.
parliamentarians accused the More Drink Coming representative of being a
cattle thief. A scuffle ensued and the two Zany "law makers" were found lying
on the ground, said some eyewitnesses.
"It was clearly a case of the
black pot calling the white kettle a thief," said an amused onlooker. The
More Drink Coming Party legislator, a white farmer, said he was provoked and
insulted because he had stolen nothing.
Still, the incident raised the
ire of Zany Party members who took to the streets to protest later in the
week. It is not known whether they were given police permission to do so,
though the police are known to look kindly on the destruction of More Drink
The troubled central African police, who are closely
affiliated to the almost ruling Zany Party, also look kindly (or at least
look the other way) when More Drink Coming Party life is threatened or cut
Meanwhile the More Drink Coming Party said the scuffle in
parliament was unfortunate, but added that their esteemed parliamentary
colleague was tormented to breaking point. The MP himself said it was
regrettable, but pointed out that being called a thief was not a matter to be
Still, Over The Top conducted an entirely unscientific
survey in the eastern provinces, where the MP comes from, and discovered the
farmer parliamentarian had been awarded unofficial hero status.
when we thought the More Drink Party had given up ever confronting
the lunatic Zanies, up stands this upstanding gentleman and gives them a
snot squirt," said a jubilant member of the opposition. "What we need is more
not less of this sort of thing," he added.
The jubilation was not
mirrored among members of the Zany Party who accused the More Drink Coming
Party of bringing the troubled parliament into disrepute.
said an unnamed political analyst, adding, "though it is difficult to bring
into disrepute an organisation marked by corruption, thievery, guile and
disrespect for the rule of law on the ruling party benches."
troubled central Africans said the incident was a little ray of sunshine in
an otherwise bleak and miserable country. "It is the troubled central African
way," said a troubled central African.
"We have had four years of being
beaten over the head by the Zany Party, so it is amusing they don't see the
funny side when the tables are turned," said another.
another unnamed political analyst said he didn't see what all the fuss was
"The Zany party can walk into your property, burn down your house,
steal your possessions, rape your wife and that's all perfectly all right,
but if the smallest of scuffles erupts and a Zany MP loses his dignity then
all hell breaks loose," he observed.
"Does that make sense to
It makes little sense to Over The Top given that the Zany Party is
proud to announce that it has stolen some 4,000 farms during the last four
years, not least among them the farm of the honourable member from the
beautiful if troubled eastern districts.
Still, it is the doublespeak
nature of troubled central African law that the Zany Party cannot break the
law, while the More Drink Coming Party can break laws just by getting out of
bed in the morning.
And as for the previously untroubled and unflustered
member for the eastern districts, well, he only did what millions would love
The Chronicle of Monday, May 10 2004, reported that 17
Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) supporters from Magwegwe North had
defected from the party to join Zanu PF. This allegedly happened at a meeting
called by the Governor and Resident Minister for Bulawayo Province, Cain
Mathema on Sunday, May 9, 2004 at Masotsha School in the area.
in Bulawayo wishes to set the record straight regarding this
Under the pretext of holding a residents' meeting in the
Magwegwe area, the Governor called the meeting at Masotsha School through
teachers at the school who were told to pass on this message to the school
pupils for onward transmission to their parents.
innocently believing that this was a meeting to discuss matters of concern to
them, they arrived at the venue only to be shocked when told that the meeting
had now been turned into a Zanu PF rally. The Councillor for Ward 29, which
covers the area, Gareth Mahlangu, who was at the meeting, was specifically
told by the Governor that his presence was not required at the
It was at this point, just before the councillor and scores of
disappointed residents left that nine people stood up from the remaining Zanu
PF audience and proceeded to the podium to claim that they had "renounced
their membership of the MDC". These nine are not and have never been MDC
members. They do not exist on the membership records of the party and are not
known by the local leadership of Lobhengula-Magwegwe District.
only now that this whole charade has been exposed for what it really is - a
stage managed affair by Zanu PF in an attempt to gain cheap publicity as the
2005 general election approaches. The MDC T-shirts that were produced belong
to genuine party members whose homes were raided by Zanu-PF thugs on numerous
Zanu-PF in Bulawayo is a desperate party. They do not hold a
single elected position in the city with all eight Members of Parliament, the
Mayor and all 29 Councillors coming from the MDC. The party in Bulawayo is
growing by the day and has not had a single defection since Mika Parira Mpofu
crossed the floor to rejoin Zanu PF.
He subsequently lost his post of
councillor for Sizinda while contesting under a Zanu-PF ticket to the MDC in
the August 2003 Local Government Elections.
The residents of Bulawayo
are aware that there will be many more such stage-managed "defections" as
Zanu-PF clutches at straws in an effort to wrest control of the city from the
MDC. Bulawayo residents will not be hoodwinked into supporting a party which,
for lack of support, has to stoop so law as to abuse schoolchildren to do
Neither will the use of stage-managed defections sway the
people of Bulawayo from voting for a party of their choice.
TROUBLED commercial banks are defying a directive to lift a
freeze on maximum cash withdrawal restrictions imposed during the outbreak of
an unprecedented bank notes shortage in 2003.
A fortnight ago, the
Reserve Bank notified banks to allow clients withdraw large sums of cash but
to date only a few banks have complied with the directive.
RBZ, in its statement, said it had granted commercial banks - most of them
teetering on the brink of bankruptcy since December - the dispensation to
allow members of the public to withdraw any amount of cash from
The move followed the successful introduction of
corrective measures that were undertaken since the promulgation of the new
monetary policy statement in December.
However, only a handful of
banks notably First Bank, Standard Chartered and Trust have implemented the
First Bank has relaxed its daily cash withdrawal limit at
its ATMs to $1 million while Stanchart and Trust now offer $500 000 as the
maximum for single withdrawals.
Alen Marimbe, the head of banking at
troubled Trust Bank said they had recently complied with the central bank's
"The current maximum withdrawal limit is $500 000 per day and
it is reviewed from time to time, which we are currently doing," said
Although one can access more than $1 million from banking halls,
the restrictions are mainly on ATMs.
Many commercial banks have cash
curbs of between $200 000 and $300 000 while Barclays Bank, which is
downsizing operations, has capped its limit at $90 000.
A serious cash
crisis rocked Zimbabwe mid last year leading to a run on banks that
threatened to cause violent street protests.
Banks limited cash
withdrawals too as little as $5 000 and $10 000 per customer per day as
authorities tried to prevent people from withdrawing savings and precipitate
the collapse of the financial system.
Bankers who spoke to Standard
Business on condition of anonymity said the central bank's directive would
increase the cost of security and insurance associated with transporting huge
sums of money from the RBZ to their several branches.
however welcomed the central bank's relaxation of maximum withdrawal amounts
saying this would enhance the level of economic transactions.
Police blitz snuffs currency trade By our own
'If police continue like this, we're all finished' BULAWAYO -
SOPHIA Mpongo sits on a make-shift stool fashioned from a disused metal
crate, a length of lace cloth material spread over her lap, preparing to wrap
it round her head into a neat, flat topped turban.
Behind her are rows
of neatly arranged cosmetics and a motley of trinkets.
among scores of women who stand to lose business if police continue their
blitz on vendors, touts and informal foreign currency dealers.
recent decision by the central bank to devalue the Zimbabwe dollar
against foreign remittances by 632 percent from $824 to more than $5200
has compounded the illegal dealers' woes.
The white lace turban has
become an identity tag for women who depend on exchanging foreign currency
for a living on the streets of Bulawayo, Zimbabwe's second largest
"If police continue like this we are all finished," Mpongo says.
She says she fears losing her only means of providing for her family, as a
Scores of women had moved to Bulawayo's Lobengula
Street and Fifth Avenue from towns and cities around the country, swelling
the numbers of the illegal foreign currency dealers who prowl the city's
streets in search of customers.
Illegal foreign currency dealers,
mainly women, easily recognisable by the lace turbans that hang down to the
waist, took advantage of the never-ending foreign currency crisis that has
dogged Zimbabwe for close to a decade to make roaring business.
women had become used to trudging up and down the pavements of
Lobengula Street, discreetly asking whoever they thought intended to change
the local currency into pula, rand or pound sterling.
But a police
blitz on illegal foreign currency dealers is threatening to unhinge Mpongo's
efforts and those of her peers to make a living.
"The war is not over
especially against the illegal foreign currency dealers. We will not rest
until we stop their operations," says police spokesman, Inspector Smile
The once thriving illegal market for foreign currency dealers
appears to be gradually losing its lustre following repeated raids by police
and the more attractive exchange rates offered by licenced foreign exchange
Although the women had devised ingenious ways to camouflage
their illegal activities such as using their flea market stalls to cover up
their clandestine transactions, recent regulations have adversely affected
Dube said police were now aware that the foreign
currency dealers have changed their methods of operating.
"We will get
to the bottom of it all," Dube vowed.
Scores of illegal foreign currency
dealers are being arrested daily in a major swoop at the edge of the city
following a regulation gazetted recently.
The regulation empowers
police to search persons believed to be in possession of large amounts of
cash after obtaining a search warrant.
An Anti-Money Laundering Bill
currently before Parliament provides for the police to search persons they
suspect of holding $5 million without a warrant in cases of
"We have provided an essential service for those that work in
Botswana and South Africa coming on holidays, but the police do not recognise
"Instead they arrest us and confiscate our money blaming us for the
shortage of foreign currency," complained 33-year-old Zodwa Murisi
is a cat and mouse game here," she adds.
Since the central bank announced
at the end of last year tighter monetary measures to curb foreign currency
leakages in the financial sector and shore up dwindling foreign reserves,
police have intensified efforts to stop illegal foreign currency
Some economists have hailed the steps taken by the central bank
and predicted the measures would "destroy" the illegal foreign currency
market largely blamed for stocking inflation and negatively impacting on
Others have dismissed the enthusiasm that accompanied the
announcement saying the success will only be temporary.
consultant Eric Bloch says unless the measure taken by the central bank are
reinforced by political commitment on the part of government, the informal
market will continue to thrive.
Eddie Cross, the opposition Movement for
Democratic Change's economic advisor, scoffed at the "currency auction"
introduced by the central bank in a bid to rake in millions of dollars in
He says the current practice of attempting to manage and
manipulate exchange rates will not work
"The only real market arbiter
remains the street - dangerous, illegal and inefficient," Cross
The illegal foreign exchange market, some say will gradually die a
natural death if government maintains the Zimbabwean currency revalued to a
level that matches the illegal market.
For Mpongo and Murisi
exchanging local currency for hard currency or vice versa in the informal
market has provided a steady means of earning an income and they vow to
continue. "We used to offer customers better rates than the banks. That is
why people preferred to deal with us than the banks," bragged
"We are going through hard times finding customers," she
The Zimbabwean dollar has remained overvalued in the wake of
dwindling exports and government has remained wedded to an unrealistic
exchange rate with major currencies for fear its external debt will balloon
to unmanageable levels.
Bennet's Charleswood: the legal
implications sundayopinion By Arnold Tsunga
Charleswood Estate is in
Manicaland and more precisely in the rural Chimanimani electoral
constituency. Roy Lesley Bennet is a white farmer who contested the
Parliamentary elections in 2000 under the MDC and won the rural constituency,
which is predominantly settled by black Zimbabweans.
Ever since he won
the rural constituency, there have been numerous disruptions on Bennet's farm
and the Chimanimani constituency in general at the instance of, or with the
apparent acquiescence of the State.
Widespread organised violence and
torture has been reported to human rights organisations. The constituency now
has a big number of internally displaced people due to enforced evictions,
intimidations, harassment, violence and torture.
The police have in a
number of cases within the constituency refused to take cases where the
complainants are perceived to be supporters of the opposition political
There has been selective application of the law with credible
complaints of certain members of the constituency being deprived of their
right to the protection of the law. The government media quoted the State
President as encouraging forcible occupation of the MP's farm. Violence
involving the State machinery has taken place on the farm resulting in
serious injury to the farm workers.
A worker was summarily extra
judicially executed and killed in February 2004 by the army while houses were
razed to the ground. The State-controlled media and the police have covered
up for the summary execution suggesting that the unarmed deceased civilian
was killed while confronting the police violently.
Farm workers have
been previously forcibly ejected from the farm only to return after court
orders. There are a number of court orders that have been issued over the
years as the MP tried desperately to seek protection of the law which has
continued to be elusive since the principal violator is the State or
functionaries of the State operating with the acquiescence of
Ordinary members of the constituency who have also been
targeted for persecution have also tried to resort to the courts or police
for justice to no avail since the police routinely refuse to take complaints
from the opposition supporters and also ignore or outrightly defy court
orders that are not favourable to the State.
In some instances, the
courts have also taken long to make decisions on urgent matters that are
brought to the attention of the courts thereby creating an impression that
the courts are either unwittingly complicity in the serious human rights
violations that take place at Charleswood or are too afraid to be more
tenacious in ensuring that their judgements are complied with and that they
frown at the State undermining the independence of the
Impunity on the part of State agents and functionaries is
therefore the order of the day in Chimanimani and seems to be escalating as
Zimbabwe approaches the 2005 Parliamentary elections.
On 25 February 2004, High Court Judge Justice Karwi granted a
provisional order which provided that, Bennett Brothers Farming Enterprises
(Pvt) Ltd ("Bennett Brothers") is given leave to remain and carry on its
business on Charleswood Estate; the State or its functionaries were
interdicted from interfering in any way with the farming and business
operations of Bennett Brothers on Charleswood Estate; the State functionaries
or other persons occupying the farm at the instance of the State were ordered
to immediately vacate the farm. This order was served on the State but the
State has chosen to defy and disregard the court order.
On 18 November
2003, The Magistrate's court in Mutare, Manicaland issued a provisional order
against functionaries of the State led by Sergeant Nasho and the Agricultural
Rural Development Authority (ARDA) to the following effect; that the State
functionaries were interdicted from setting foot or entering upon Charleswood
Estate; that the State functionaries were interdicted from harassing or
assaulting the employees of Charleswood Estate; that the State functionaries
were to vacate Charleswood Estate forthwith failing which the messenger of
court and the police were directed to eject them; the State functionaries
were further ordered to vacate and restore the offices of Charleswood Estate
to Bennett Brothers. This order has also been defied and ignored by the
On 8 April 2003, High Court Judge, Justice Karwi granted an order
by consent which provided that, the State and its functionaries be
interdicted from threatening, abusing, intimidating, harassing assaulting or
communicating with the directors, employees and their family members of
companies belonging to the MP Roy Bennet, operating at Charleswood Estate;
and that the employees of Charleswood Estate and their families were
permitted and directed to return forthwith to their homes on, and continue
working for Charleswood Estate. This order has also been ignored.
May 2002, The High Court Harare issued a provisional order that is
still standing that barred the State from acquiring Charleswood Estate.
Needless to say that such order has also been ignored and completely defied
by the State.
On Good Friday, April 9 2004 at approximately 0400hrs,
members of the Zimbabwe National Army and the Zimbabwe Republic Police,
Support Unit, invaded and surrounded Charleswood Estate. The invading forces
were led by a person identifying himself as Dzapasi while the majority
refused to disclose their identities although it is believed that a Major
Zimbango of the army and Inspector Manyama of the police led the process to
subdue the civilian employees who in normal circumstances look up to such
forces for protection.
They are alleged to have advised that they are
acting on the instructions of the Provincial Governor, Manicaland, Retired
Major General Michael Nyambuya and President Robert Mugabe; the only two
people from whom they would accept instructions to stop their illegal
activities on the farm.
The army and the police thereafter took
possession of the keys to the properties on the farm (including the MP's
house and vehicles) and helped themselves to such consumables as fuel that
was being used for farming operations on the farm. After assembling the
workers, the army allegedly demanded that those that wanted to continue
working for Bennet had to pack their bags and leave the farm
Thereafter they recorded the identity details of the workers
before ordering the farm management (six people Bhaudhi, Makaza, Mvura,
Chiwaya, Masebe, and Gumbo) to immediately vacate the farm
The six and hundreds of workers and their families are currently
living as internally displaced persons in a place of safety. The soldiers and
the police have therefore forcibly stopped farming operations by the
Bennet Brothers on Charleswood Estate and ejected management and other
The conduct of the State to maintain a permanent intimidating
and harassing military and police presence and to bring in fresh soldiers and
police to forcibly occupy and disrupt farming operations at Charleswood
Estate is in direct violation and defiance of the stated court
Implications of Defiance
The wanton disregard of court
orders by the State in this matter is of grave concern as it has severe
implications on the administration of justice.
The treatment that Roy
Lesley Bennet is being subjected to is wholly unwarranted in a democracy and
plural society. He and his constituency need not be punished for holding
views that differ from those of the ruling party. The implication of the
Provincial Governor and the State President in the illegalities and defiance
of court orders by the soldier identifying himself as Dzapasi must be taken
seriously by the authorities since it places these very senior government
officials directly in charge of illegal activities and the potentially
predictable serious consequences flowing there from.
therefore encouraged to firmly dissociate themselves from the illegal conduct
of Dzapasi and the rest of the soldiers and police occupying Charleswood
Unfortunately the courts can only go so far in asserting the
rights of individuals. Once they make a pronouncement as to the correct
legal position, the responsibility to enforce the law immediately shifts to
the Executive organ of the State, it being the one that is in charge of
the State machinery.
In enforcing court orders, the Executive complies
with its responsibility to ensure that citizens enjoy the right to the
protection of the law which right is provided for in our constitution and
other international instruments that the government has acceded to or signed
A culture of defiance of court orders severely undermines
the judiciary and the justice delivery system and entrenches a culture of
impunity and lawlessness. There is a strong relationship between rampant
corruption, the collapse of the economy and its failure to recover on one
hand, and lawlessness and the absence of the rule of law on the
It is therefore hoped that the Provincial Governor of Manicaland
and the State President will show their commitment to the rule of law and
separation of powers by complying with every court order even if not
favourable to the State.
The soldiers, the police and other
functionaries who have been unlawfully deployed at Charleswood Estate in
defiance of Court orders and to harass and intimidate the electorate must
therefore be removed forthwith so as to restore the rule of law.
Arnold Tsunga is the Executive Director of Zimbabwe Lawyers For Human Rights
and Chairperson of ZimRights.
Bennet's behaviour understandable Sundaytalk with Pius
THERE was indeed drama in Parliament on Tuesday as reported by
the The Herald of May 19. A visibly angry Roy Bennet, Chimanimani MP
assaulted two Cabinet Ministers - Patrick Chinamasa and Didymus Mutasa -
during debate on an adverse report on the Stock Theft Amendment
The Herald reports that trouble started when Chinamasa, who is the
Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs and Leader of the House,
said the government would not reverse its decision to take possession
of Charleswood Estate in Chimanimani, owned by Bennet.
not forgiven the government for acquiring his farm, but he forgets that his
forefathers were thieves and murderers," Chinamasa said.
At this, Bennet,
who was sitting about 20 metres away from Chinamasa, rose and charged towards
the Minister, shouting in Shona: "Unoda kundijarira iwewe. Unoda kuti ndiite
sei? "(Your provocations have gone too far. What do you expect me to
He then held Chinamasa by the collar and shoved him to the
Bennet then proceeded to manhandle Anti-monopolies and
Anti-corruption Minister, Didymus Mutasa, who had tried to rescue Chinamasa
from the attack, and also floored him.
I abhor violence and condemn it
totally wherever I see it. I believe that such behaviour should be left to
animals without common sense and the ability to settle their differences
through dialogue. In my book, even boxing does not qualify to be called a
Yet, even though I hate violence, I can understand and forgive the
violent behaviour of the MDC Member of Parliament. The man was provoked
beyond what he could humanly endure. We must remember that his property was
taken from him illegally, according to the courts. To call his ancestors
thieves and murderers was just adding insult to injury. As he asked
Chinamasa, what did he want him to do?
The same Herald reported that
scores of Zimbabweans last night expressed outrage at the assault on Patrick
Chinamasa and Didymus Mutasa. I can report that I spoke to many people on
Wednesday about the incident. Some of them called me on the phone. Some
stopped me on the street to give me their views. They all said:
had it coming. Tsvatu waro. Vakanzwa bhata"
What is sickening about The
Herald report on this incident is its shameless bias. Instead of reporting on
what happened, the article by Tandayi Motsi and Tsitsi Matope was a piece of
crude Zanu PF propaganda. It was not aimed at informing the people of what
happened but at denigrating the opposition MDC, to which Roy Bennet belongs,
as a party steeped in violence.
It is hard to believe that these
pseudo-journalists are so daft as not to realise that all Zimbabweans know
exactly who has "many degrees in violence". This is a self-confessed fact -
What Zimbabweans need to etch on their minds is that
violence begets violence. Successive colonial governments held the black
population of this country in subjugation through violence. They were in turn
toppled from power by a violent uprising, "Chimurenga."
If you keep
pushing a man until he is in a corner, he will come at you no matter how weak
he may be. The same is true of any country. One day the people will say
"enough is enough", and come at you. History is full of examples but,
somehow, power blinds people to the truth.
Look at the Palestinian
The Jews took their land without their consent. They continue to
treat them as non-human beings who don't deserve a place in the sun. The
Palestinians came to a point when they said: enough is enough. "Kusiri kufa
ndekupi" (We might as well die fighting). So. young Palestinians today strap
bombs to their bodies and die together with their enemies. For as long as
Israel will have violent leaders like Ariel Sharon, the carnage will
It is good that the leader of the opposition in the House,
Gibson Sibanda, apologised to the House for what had transpired. He said of
Bennet's action, "We do not condone such behaviour as a party and this was a
On the other hand, Chinamasa's position as
Minister and Leader of the House deserves some dignity and decorum on his
part. He needs to exercise restraint in his manner and language when
addressing other members of the House. I personally find his verbal attack on
Roy Bennet as uncalled for and unbecoming of a man in his position.
for our Herald reporters, I don't even know what to say to them. They seem to
be beyond salvation. For them to write that Bennet has been accused of being
a former Rhodesian police officer is absurd. Accused by whom? Was that a
There are many patriotic and respectable Zimbabweans who were
either in the Rhodesian police force or army. At least one black former
Rhodesian police reservist sits in Parliament and has responsible positions
in both the government and the ruling party, Zanu PF. Is there anything wrong
Roy Bennet is no racist. Even though is is white, he is more
Zimbabwean than some arrogant and pompous black members of Parliament. He was
not elected by whites but by black Zimbabweans who feel that he is one of
them. He even speaks better Shona than some of his accusers who cannot come
up with a pure Shona sentence without an English word in it. His only sin is
that he is white and a member of the opposition. Zanu PF is embarrassed
because he, a white member of the opposition, beat their own black candidate
in the elections.
The naked bias of our our Herald reporters shows
itself in that they had to stick a totally irrelevant story about the arrest
of some MDC parliamentarian the previous Sunday on allegations of violence,
after the first paragraph of their lead story on the incident in Parliament.
They then went on to add, "This wave of violence comes in the wake of the
opposition party's string of defeats in its former strongholds by the ruling
What wave of violence? The only waves I can see are the
waves of fear which have engulfed them to the extent that they have lost all
self-respect. They meekly write as their master (you know who) tells them to.
They live in fear of losing their jobs like most of their predecessors who
didn't toe the party line.
23 (IPS) - "Worse than dogs and pigs" is how Zimbabwean President Robert
Mugabe described homosexuals almost a decade ago, when the gay community
attempted to highlight widespread homophobia in the Southern African
That statement, reported around the world, still reverberates in
the country, casting a long shadow over the exercise of sexual freedom.
Under Zimbabwean law homosexuality as such is not illegal. But sodomy -
narrowly defined as anal sex between men - is.
Yet, in subtle ways,
things are also changing. Intolerance, particularly at the official level,
seems to have mellowed into indifference. The random and all too frequent
arrest of gays appears to have ceased, while the police's last raid of the
Gays and Lesbians Association of Zimbabwe (GALZ) office was in
"We have a good relationship with our local station," says Keith
Goddard, who heads the 400-member organisation. "They treat us with
Furthermore last July, after years of
fighting, gays were allowed to set up their own stand at the annual Zimbabwe
International Book Fair - no small feat, considering that their presence at
the 1995 event caused a fiasco.
"We thought it was a positive development
and we can now put that whole campaign to rest," Goddard told
Buoyed by a new-found confidence, the gay community is now pushing
for greater recognition by society.
"I wouldn't say there is complete
acceptance, but there is growing understanding regarding what being gay, or
lesbian, is about," Goddard observes.
Ironically, the impetus for such
transformation was the sensational sodomy trial of Zimbabwe's first
post-independence president, Canaan Banana, in 1998.
during the 17-day court proceeding revealed the ex-President as a closet
homosexual who abused male subordinates while in State House. Banana was
subsequently convicted of sodomy and jailed for a year. In November 2003 he
died - a publicly disgraced figure.
Goddard says that although Banana's
trial was more about abuse than the pursuit of sexual freedom, "it went a
long way to convince people that being gay is not a white-imported
Since then Goddard and several other high-profile GALZ members
have frequently been invited to address various groups. The organisation
itself conducts regular workshops on matters such as sexual identity and
the blackmail of gays - something that, happily, has declined
In its awareness and educational work GALZ focuses on the
younger generation, ignoring peers of the 80-year-old president. The belief
is that the minds of these individuals are set - and that nothing much can be
done to change their views on homosexuality.
In 1999 when the
government attempted to write a new constitution, GALZ pushed for the
inclusion of a sexual orientation clause. This was resisted and the
government's draft constitution was itself rejected in a referendum, albeit
for different reasons.
A GALZ representative who calls himself
Chesterfield participated in the process. One of the first homosexuals to be
open about his sexual orientation, the 29-year-old says his family was
confused and frightened by the president's harsh statement. Fearing official
opprobrium, his father confronted him on the matter for the first time ever,
and threatened to report him to the police.
Fortunately the older man
has since relaxed his position, and now even manages to enquire about
Chesterfield's partner of 10 years. The rest of the family also appears to
have developed greater understanding. "But it was different for my sister,"
Chesterfield remarks, "maybe because of the competition that I'd snatch her
Ironically, one of the most repressive laws to be put on
Zimbabwe's books - the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act of
2002 - protects the sexual orientation of citizens. But in a country where
the law is often applied selectively, Goddard wonders if it's not just meant
to shield those higher up in government.
Since the 1990s GALZ's
priority has been preventing the spread of HIV/AIDS amongst the gays - this
despite fears that a close association with AIDS awareness efforts would
cause the disease to be perceived as a 'gay plague'.
The group stepped
into the fray because it was concerned that information about preventing HIV
transmission appeared to be aimed at heterosexuals. "Our issue, the gay and
lesbian issue, is completely ignored," Goddard says.
However, in 2000,
the association was pleasantly surprised to receive a small sum of tax
payers' money from the government-run National AIDS Council.
later found that "we were one of the organisations which put the money to
good use," Goddard says.
At present, GALZ is one of the few lobby groups
in Zimbabwe that has got a treatment plan up-and-running for people with
full-blown AIDS. "We don't want our members to die of AIDS - they can die of
accidents," says GALZ health manager Martha Tholanah.
Before the end
of the year, the association intends to make condom packs available to gays
and lesbians - and to put up posters that warn people about the ways in which
gays might be vulnerable to AIDS.
Taking its agenda a step further, GALZ
has also applied to present a paper at the national AIDS conference scheduled
for next month.
Chesterfield says awareness about homosexuality might
have increased, but that the subject still makes many Zimbabweans
uncomfortable. "People know, but don't want to be confronted with the 'in
your face visibility' of gay people," he told IPS. (END/2004)
Mugabe on Sky News tomorrow Innocent Chofamba
THE Sky News saga that had rent apart consensus between the
ruling Zanu PF party and the Jonathan Moyo-headed Department of Information
and Publicity in the Office of the President and Cabinet ended last week with
the British news crew managing to finally secure an interview with President
Sky News will tomorrow broadcast the first instalment
of its 50-minute interview with President Mugabe on Monday, May 24, at 6.15
in the morning. A series of the same interview will run throughout the day to
cater for Australian, European and American viewers scattered across the
different time zones. In the interview, a transcript of which would be
published in our sister paper, the Daily Mirror this week, President Mugabe
explains the various pertinent issues attendant to the state of the nation.
Previously aired interviews with lands, land reform and resettlement
minister, John Nkomo and Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe governor Gideon Gono would
also be repeated at length this week.
"The president has been
interviewed for 50 minutes, which is a long time as there are few occasions
when political leaders (from Africa) have been given such exposure in the
international media, particularly in Europe," a Zanu PF source told this
Quizzed on why it had taken so long to have the
programme on air since the British news crew had arrived in the country
towards the end of last month, the source said: "Some within the party and
government had tried to frustrate the initiative. They misrepresented things
(to the President) and harassed the correspondents, but zvakafoira (it
failed)." Apparently, Moyo's department had openly tried to throw spanners
into the works by alleging that the initiative had been planned by Ugandan
national and close Emmerson Mnangagwa ally, David Nyekorach-Matsanga.
Subsequently, the Herald, which Moyo controls, ran a series of articles in
which it tried to scupper the Sky News deal. The move raised questions as to
whether Moyo had now superseded Nathan Shamuyarira - the man behind the
initiative and Moyo's party boss in the information and publicity portfolio-
in the ruling party's pecking order.
The department of information
went on to organise an interview between President Mugabe and Kenyan
journalists from the East African Standard, a paper in which former Kenyan
president Daniel arap Moi and losing presidential candidate Uhuru Kenyatta,
hold controlling shares. "That was an attempt to water down the Sky News
interview," the source revealed.
Sky News, which enjoys a viewership of
over 200 million in the capitals of major western countries - from which the
most acerbic hostility to Zimbabwe comes - will also beam the presidential
interview to American audiences through its subsidiary, CBS.
to reach those countries from which the most stubborn resistance comes; those
imperialists that want to change the regime in Zimbabwe," the source said.
"We want to tell them that the regime will not change, and that issues are
being addressed with foresight and in the national interest".
be given an opportunity to explain the land reform programme in greater
detail, while Gono would be afforded the same for an indepth account of his
economic turn-around strategies. The source revealed that Sky News has come
under immense pressure from British authorities not to air the interviews on
account of their positive thrust, which runs counter to the negative image of
Zimbabwe conjured in British minds by unrelenting anti-Zimbabwe
Former GMB boss in forex externalisation
scam Clemence Manyukwe
SUSPENDED Grain Marketing Board (GMB) chief
executive officer, Martin Muchero is facing allegations of externalizing more
than 30 million rands in hard currency during his tenure at the parastatal,
it has been learnt.
The Sunday Mirror can reveal that the money is
stashed in a South African, but GMB registered bank account, with Muchero
being the sole signatory.
The issue of the forex is understood to have
been reported by a staff member in the grain utility's loss control section
to Marlborough police sometime this month, leading to it being handed to the
CID fraud squad for investigation.
According to well placed sources,
the decision to pass the matter to law enforcement agents was arrived at
after Muchero refused to give the power of attorney, effectively ruling out
anyone else from having access to the account.
When contacted for a
comment, Muchero conceded the existence of the account, but said, "it no
longer has any penny." He said as the sole signatory to the account he did
not care whether those at GMB knew or not that the account was empty, saying
he would only hand it over when all his cases are over. Muchero added that
the account had been opened in 1998 with the approval of the GMB board and
the Reserve Bank adding that the money had been transferred from Trust
Muchero has been on suspension since 2000 after the levelling of
several allegations of "fraudulent" activities against him.
allegations include flouting of tender procedures, allocating a GMB vehicle
to his wife and using the parastatal's funds to purchase furniture for his
house without the board's approval.
Although the suspended CEO was
cleared in 2002 by High court judge Charles Hungwe in a criminal case he was
facing together with the then Agriculture Minister, Kumbirai Kangai, Muchero
still has other pending cases before the courts concerning GMB.
lawyer, Jonathan Samkange blamed the GMB credit control manager,
Wilson Ncube, for his client's woes.
"Ncube is being overzealous and
we know he is trying to please someone. He should have first brought the case
to a (GMB) tribunal. There is a danger of going to a policeman who does not
know what he is doing and my client will end up being picked," said
Efforts to get comments from GMB board chairman Enoch
Kamushinda were futile as he was said to "in a long meeting" by his secretary
at Metropolitan Bank. The acting GMB CEO, Samuel Mubvute refused to comment
saying it would be "unethical" for him to do so because Muchero was his
predecessor, and it would be seen as a "smear campaign" aimed at "character
assassination." Muchero was appointed GMB managing director in 1996 by former
Agriculture Minister Dennis Norman. He became CEO upon the creation of the
post, holding it up to the time of his suspension.
spokesperson, Wayne Bvudzijena could not shed more light into the matter as
the woman who answered his phone said he was not feeling
Discernible signs of economic recovery emerged following
government's prioritising of the fight against corruption.
Two of the
most prominent victims of the drive, James Makamba and Christopher Kuruneri
are languishing behind bars facing allegations of externalising foreign