World must end
Mugabe mayhem Tyranny and corruption in Zimbabwe needs to be stopped so
that ordinary people can go about rebuilding their shattered lives in peace,
says Robert I. Rotberg
spirals Zimbabwe ever downward. Zimbabweans struggle to survive, some even
starving. U. S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice rightly labels Zimbabwe
an outpost of tyranny, along with North Korea and Iran.
Minister Tony Blair, and other heads of the European Union, concur. It is
past time that the globe's major leaders, working in concert with democratic
Africa, do something more than talk.
Like Pol Pot in yesterday's
Cambodia, President Robert Gabriel Mugabe of Zimbabwe is determined to run
his country into the ground.
The U.N. World Food Program and local
observers report that fully half of Zimbabwe's 11 million people are now
seriously hungry. Because Mugabe has plundered all of Zimbabwe's assets,
there are hardly any supplies of the corn on which everyone subsists. Nor is
there any cooking oil, sugar, flour, or milk, except on the black
Getting to and from work is impossible because of shortages
of diesel for buses, much less petrol for private cars and trucks. Long
queues stretch for hundreds of metres behind bus stops or gas
As indications of Zimbabwe's plight, inflation has this
month soared to 350 per cent per year and the country's currency, once on
par with the U. S. dollar, and only a few months ago trading at Z$6,000 to
$1.00 U.S. , now trades at 25,000 Zimbabwe dollars to $1.00 U.S. The
government lacks funds to print new currency, so paper dollars
According to a recent study, the income purchasing power
of average Zimbabweans has regressed to 1953 levels.
per cent of all Zimbabwean adults are unemployed. Nearly 3 million have fled
to neighbouring South Africa, Mozambique, and Botswana, desperate for work
Seven years ago, Zimbabwe was one of Africa's richest
countries, with an economy well balanced between the export of agricultural
crops (maize, tobacco, sugar, and cotton) and the export of gold,
ferrochrome, platinum, and copper. It manufactured local consumption,
boasted excellent school systems, a good university, well-managed hospitals,
and a responsive bureaucracy.
It drew upon the largest pool of
university graduates, per capita, in Africa.
All that is long
gone, entirely thanks to Mugabe's cruelty and greed.
opposition to his illegal and budget-draining dispatch of 14,000 Zimbabwean
troops into the Congo in 1998, and subsequently infuriated by the loss of a
constitutional referendum and near defeat for his ruling Zimbabwe African
National Union-Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF) party in parliamentary elections,
Mugabe mercilessly attacked his new African opponents and their supposed
Mugabe ordered thuggish, so-called war veterans to
invade and commandeer the country's 4,000 white farms, ostensibly to take
back land stolen from Africans years before.
But, instead of
giving that restored land to landless smallholders, nearly all of the 4,000
farms - the backbone of Zimbabwe's agricultural prosperity - were delivered
to Mugabe's political cronies, his second wife, and other family
This land grab might have served to right an historic
injustice. Instead, it drove Zimbabwe headlong into penury and hunger. It
also threw 400,000 African labourers out of work, crippled the banking
sector, caused food scarcities, and sent Mugabe rushing to Libya and China
What little that remained, Mugabe and his close
associates stole. This month Mugabe's wife is completing a monstrous
mansion, her third, in Harare, and other regime fat cats are spending
lavishly on land and houses.
Much of Mugabe's own wealth is stashed
in the British Virgin Islands and the Isle of Man. He also owns large
properties in Britain.
No one dares cross Mugabe. His Central
Intelligence Organization, army, and police remain loyal. They, too, feed at
the trough of public corruption while other Zimbabweans cannot find
Indeed, until this month Mugabe even denied that there were
food shortages. He has finally agreed to import food, if funds can be
borrowed, and not very graciously to accept food donations from the United
Mugabe's continued rule is based on intimidation and
fraud. Having rigged the 2000 parliamentary election, he shamelessly
inflated poll counts to give himself a strong victory in the 2002
presidential vote over Morgan Tsvangirai of the Movement for Democratic
Earlier this year, he greatly distorted the results of
another parliamentary contest. Many local and foreign observers cried foul,
and President George Bush and Blair denounced Mugabe's theft.
Ottawa, Washington, London, and Brussels need to act boldly.
Together they should persuade South Africa, the power in southern Africa, to
chastise Mugabe publicly and to enact the kinds of smart sanctions that
might force Zimbabwe's military and political elite to push Mugabe to
President Thabo Mbeki of South Africa has claimed for five
years that quiet diplomacy would work, and merely wrings his hands. But
Mugabe continues to wreak havoc on his people.
Europe and the
U. S. have frozen bank accounts and denied visas to Mugabe and his ilk.
South Africa and the African Union could do likewise, easily ending Mugabe's
ability to leave Zimbabwe and spend his stolen millions.
could refuse air, road, and rail passage to the country's top 100
miscreants, many of whom shop in Johannesburg while compelling their poorer
countrymen to do without. They could deny that same group access to medical
treatment in South Africa, refuse them transit facilities, and generally
label Mugabe and his associates, especially his generals,
The object of this pressure should be new national
elections, run by the United Nations and observed by outsiders.
If such sanctions on the elite produce too little change, South Africa could
always slow rail traffic into Zimbabwe, a tactic used against Prime Minister
Ian Smith in Rhodesia.
Or South Africa could stop electric power
flowing to Zimbabwe off the grid that Pretoria controls. Unthinkable, too,
South Africa could easily rid Zimbabwe of Mugabe by force. There would be
minimal opposition, and no need to occupy a country that Tsvangirai
legitimately should run.
However it is done, tyranny in Zimbabwe
needs to be ended so that ordinary Zimbabweans can go about rebuilding their
shattered lives in peace.
Dictators who abuse their people
mercilessly, not only in the Middle East, deserve to be pushed
Robert I. Rotberg is the director of the Kennedy School of Government's
Program on Intrastate Conflict and Conflict Resolution at Harvard
University, and president of the World Peace Foundation. He is the author of
several books on southern Africa.
Zimbabwean church representatives on Sunday denounced
the week-long crackdown against street traders and shack dwellers, while
police continued arrests and demolition work.
capital's crowded southern townships, residents were reportedly putting
boulders across roads to hinder access. But no fresh incidents of stone
throwing were reported after residents last week fought running battles with
security forces, who pulled down slums and made thousands of people homeless
in the midwinter cold.
In a statement, the National Pastors
Conference, representing over 100 Christian ministers, demanded President
Robert Mugabe's government "engage in a war against poverty and not against
They accused the authorities of "displaying lack
of compassion in the face of human suffering and misery", with police squads
singing "the destroyers have arrived" as they blitzed urban settlements that
allegedly lacked planning permission.
The Roman Catholic
Commission for Justice and Peace, Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights, the
Human Rights Trust of Southern Africa and university lecturers joined the
Opposition lawmaker Trudi Stevenson said police
had moved into other sections of the Hatcliffe township in her northern
Harare constituency, where 500 families have already been made homeless
despite having lease agreements issued in 2002 by Housing Minister Ignatius
Chombo. Residents are not resisting but are attempting to salvage building
materials, furniture and belongings, fearing bulldozers would move
"They [the police] go in with this massive force of 3
000, and if you are only 300 or 500 people or so, without weapons, and they
are armed, you cannot resist," she said.
"In the closer
knit high density areas people are resisting, but police have now been
The National Pastors Conference accused the
government of "randomly destroying sources of livelihood for the urban poor"
who were encouraged to begin street trading by the economic liberalisation
policy Mugabe adopted in 1991.
"Are we now to believe
that these people were misled by the same sitting government that has now
mercilessly turned against them?" asked the pastors.
Current 80% unemployment among Zimbabwe's 11,6-million people, shortages of
all basic commodities and rampant hyper-inflation are dehumanising and
compromising human dignity, they said.
"We need informed
policy action, not police action, in order to make life bearable for the
The privately owned Sunday Standard reported that the
southern Glen View township "resembled a graveyard" after weeklong battles
between armed police and street traders, roadside kiosk and workshop owners,
and shack dwellers whose homes and businesses were torched or
The national council of the opposition Moverment
for Democratic Change met at the weekend and "resolved to defend the rights
of the people".
A formal statement and announcement of court
action is expected on Monday.
Opposition leader Morgan
Tsvangirai has accused Mugabe (81) of aiming to break the spirit of
Zimbabweans ahead of imminent economic collapse, and drive the urban poor
back into the rural areas where they can be controlled by denial of access
Over the weekend, the price of maize meal, the
staple of Zimbabweans' diet, was increased by 51% and bread prices by
Nationwide food riots in 1998 claimed seven lives after
Mugabe deployed troops, backed by tanks and helicopters.
The government mouthpiece, The Sunday Mail, defended the
"The fact that the president has thrown his weight
behind the clean-up must mean it is a well thought out programme," the
newspaper said in an editorial.
World Food Programme
Director James Morris is scheduled to arrive this week for talks with Mugabe
on the humanitarian crisis, but was warned there must be "no political
The country urgently needs to import
1,2-million metric tonnes of maize to avert the threat of famine to four
million people. - Sapa-AP
Zanu-PF spokesman Nathan
Shamuyarira has announced that his ruling party would soon amend the
constitution to abolish all private ownership rights to land and nationalise
all productive farmland.
Meanwhile, the government's crackdown in
urban areas continues to draw criticism from church leaders, who accuse the
government of waging an unnecessary war against the poor.
Shamuyarira said the constitutional amendment to Zimbabwe's land tenure
system, declaring all productive farmland as state land would end "ceaseless
litigation" by white farmers, many of whom have gone to the courts to get
their property back.
Some of the white farmers have, in fact, been
winning their cases, further frustrating the government's attempts to take
their land. Shamuyarira's announcement was published in the state-owned
Sunday Mail yesterday.
On Friday, the internet site ZimOnline
published an interview with an unnamed cabinet minister, who said that a
constitutional amendment to nationalise all land in Zimbabwe was on its
The unnamed minister told ZimOnline that the planned measure,
initiated by President Robert Mugabe, would virtually liquidate the rights
of private landowners.
But the minister was also quoted as
saying the proposal had sparked a bitter rift within the cabinet with
several senior members saying it would have serious negative economic and
political implications for the embattled country.
Shamuyarira's announcement means the measure would now sail through, as he
is Mugabe's close lieutenant in the party and the official biographer of the
The constitutional amendment's primary
aim would be to deal with the white farmers "once and for all", sources
contacted yesterday said.
He said of the 6 320 farms targeted for
acquisition since the eviction of their white owners in the past few years,
only 1 126 had been cleared of the "seemingly ceaseless litigation from the
former farmers with the majority still being contested in
"Through the amendments, we are going to push for when
parliament resumes sitting in June, all land will become state land with
farmers leasing it on a 99-year lease basis.
dispense with the ownership litigation process. All the former farmers can
do after these amendments would be to contest the amount of compensation,"
a.. The Zimbabwe National Pastors
Conference, the main grouping of church leaders, condemned the so called
"Operation Restore Order" which has seen the arrests of nearly 20 000
informal traders and destruction of market stalls and informal settlements
for homeless people.
President Mugabe said the campaign was aimed
at restoring the cities and towns to their "reputation of being clean", but
several human rights groups have said he was on a campaign of retribution
against urban supporters who have persistently rejected his party in
"We call upon this government to engage in a war against
poverty and not against the poor," the multi-denominational church leaders
following is the full statement issued Sunday by the MDC National
updated: 05/30/2005 12:01:06 "AT A meeting of the National Council of the MDC
held in Harare on the 28th May 2005, it was resolved to condemn in the
strongest terms the continuing destruction of informal sector businesses and
homes in urban and peri-urban areas. Over half of the economy of Zimbabwe
is now conducted in the informal sector which consists of nearly 3 million
individual enterprises and supports the great majority of the people. With
barely 8 per cent of all adult Zimbabweans in formal sector employment, the
wholesale destruction of these small family businesses is a betrayal of the
principles of the liberation struggle. The use of armed police to carry out
this exercise and to intimidate those affected reveals the true character of
We are working with the suffering people of Zimbabwe and
will continue to fight for their rights and dignity.
We want the
people of Zimbabwe to have jobs, to be free from hunger and to have the
skills and opportunities to realise their dreams and aspirations. We want
for Zimbabwe what Africa's progressive political leaders want for the
continent: plural democracies build on the social democratic principles of
solidarity, social justice, freedom and equality. We are fighting for a new
Zimbabwe, a new beginning for the people of Zimbabwe.
The people whose
homes and property have been destroyed are the victims and yet are now being
punished for trying to feed their families and for being suspected of having
voted for the MDC.
A government that destroys properties of people who
are trying to make an honest living is evil. It is people insensitive.
Millions of Zimbabweans have been made poor and jobless by this regime. The
people have sought ways to provide for their families. Not only have
flea-markets and tuck shops been destroyed, the people's belongings have
been stolen by the government.
In particular the Party objects to the
wholesale destruction of thousands of homes in urban areas. Many of these
were established with the support and assistance of Zanu PF cadres in their
efforts to win support in urban areas prior to the recent election. These
same people now find themselves, in the middle of winter, without shelter
and facing a completely uncertain future. No provision has been made for
alternative accommodation or shelter and sanitation facilities. Thousands of
children are now denied schooling or health facilities.
Council resolved to demand that the Zanu PF regime desist immediately from
the continued destruction of informal sector business and homes and assist
those already affected with compensation for the losses incurred to date and
whatever help is needed to reestablish their shelter needs.
National Council is calling upon all Zimbabweans to contribute to the
struggle. We call on all Zimbabweans to mobilize against this assault on
their dignity, livelihoods and well-being. Mindful of its responsibilities
to the suffering people of Zimbabwe and in response to the agony expressed
by the victims of this regime's brutality and cruelty, the MDC will employ
appropriate measures to redress this tragedy.
In addition the party
will pursue all avenues including mounting a legal campaign to secure the
rights of those who were operating within the law and to seek compensation
for the massive losses involved.
The Party also resolved to continue to
press for a Constitutional reform process that is transparent, inclusive and
people driven. The Council decried the efforts by Zanu PF to press for
piecemeal amendments to the present Constitution that do little to address
the present economic and political crisis."
SPECULATION swirled in Harare yesterday that President Robert Mugabe's
health could be failing after he visited a prominent cardiologist at the
Diagnostic Heart Centre in the Avenues.
said Mugabe, whose health has always been a closely-guarded secret, was
yesterday morning examined through a procedure called echocardiography by
Professor Jonathan Arthur Matenga, a heart specialist.
Reports resurfaced yesterday that Mugabe's health could be failing, with
callers to the newsroom claiming he was in Mauritius for health
This has happened in the past with claims that
Mugabe (81) had collapsed at home and at one time in Malaysia where he
returned with a bandage on his forehead.
that he was in Mauritius proved untrue after a Zimbabwe
Independent news team checking on the claims saw Mugabe's motorcade
yesterday morning parked outside the Diagnostic Centre at Number 6 Josiah
Mugabe was reportedly there between
8:30am and 10:30am. Sources later confirmed he had been examined by Matenga
through echocardiography, a diagnostic test for heart
From the Diagnostic Centre Mugabe headed straight for
the Zanu PF headquarters. He left at 5.20pm.
also been reports in the past of Mugabe travelling to a clinic in Barcelona
and other countries such as South Africa seeking medical
Mugabe's echocardiography test heightened fears
his health could be deteriorating. An echocardiography is a procedure that
uses ultrasound waves to create an image of the heart
Ultrasound waves that rebound or echo off the heart can
show the size, shape and movement of the heart's valves and chambers as well
as the flow of blood through the heart.
may show such abnormalities as poorly functioning heart valves or damage to
the heart tissue from a past heart attack. It is used to diagnose certain
The test can help reveal information
such as the size and shape of the heart, its pumping strength and capacity,
and the location and extent of any damage to its tissues.
It is especially useful for assessing diseases of the heart valves. It not
only allows doctors to evaluate the heart valves, but it can detect
abnormalities in the pattern of blood flow.
said yesterday that he was not examining Mugabe "but even if I was examining
him I wouldn't talk to you over the phone". - Staff Writers.
Mujuru to replace Mugabe Dumisani Muleya/ Shakeman
Mugari DETAILS of President Robert Mugabe's retirement plans have emerged
amid revelations he will quit the state presidency in 2008 and the ruling
Zanu PF leadership at the party's 2009 congress.
sources this week said Mugabe had almost finalised his plans - still under
wraps - to retire as head of state in 2008 and as Zanu PF leader in 2009
after 28 years in power.
Mugabe's plans will soon be tabled for
discussion by his closest courtiers, as fears mount that this could trigger
Debate in Zanu PF structures on who should take
over from him simmers behind the scenes despite attempts to curb plotting in
the wake of the Tsholotsho episode.
Sources said the plan,
expected to be tabled before the politburo soon, entails Mugabe quitting
together with Vice-President Joseph Msika in 2008.
Mujuru will take over from Mugabe, while Zanu PF chairman and Speaker of
Parliament John Nkomo will replace Msika. Zanu PF secretary for
administration Didymus Mutasa will then succeed Mujuru.
hinges on constitutional amendments currently being drafted. Justice
minister Patrick Chinamasa is said to be working on the
Sources said the ruling party wants to amend the
constitution so that the last vice-president to act as president will take
over for the remaining period of the president's term of office in the event
of the president being unable to continue due to incapacitation, ill-health
Zanu PF insiders say political, health and age pressures
have come to bear on Mugabe - as well as peer pressure - and he now wants
out. Mugabe (81) is struggling to contain the current political and economic
His health is also understood to be increasingly failing.
Health sources said Mugabe was yesterday morning examined by Professor
Jonathan Matenga, a cardiologist, at the Diagnostic Heart Centre in Harare.
(See story below.)
Although Zanu PF failed to win the two-thirds majority
it needed to make constitutional amendments, it managed to secure the
majority through Mugabe's appointment of 12 non-constituency MPs and eight
provincial governors who are also legislators.
amendment, Mujuru, now widely regarded in Zanu PF circles as a "presidential
apprentice", will act as president when Mugabe is away to gain
Sources said Mujuru already attends all crucial
meetings and briefings with Mugabe to learn the ropes. Insiders say she is
now literally going through a presidential preparatory
The sources say the constitutional amendments would ensure
the presidential and parliamentary elections would be held together in 2010.
They would also state that the president who takes over in 2008 would be
elected by a two-thirds majority in parliament. Mujuru would be voted in as
interim president before the combined elections in 2010.
said in Indonesia last month that he would definitely be going when his
current term ends.
Death knell for indigenisation tolls Ray
Matikinye ZIMBABWE'S capital Harare looks pristine and decongested after
decades when it resembled a metropolis about to suffocate under piles of
Despite its alleys still reeking of urine and the occasional
evidence of human waste in downtown areas, critics say the general
cleanliness belies deep-seated resentment among those whose source of
livelihood was sacrificed to achieve the feat.
last week relived scenes reminiscent of the agony and pain squatters at
Mbare Msika endured a few years ago when they were forcibly moved to Porta
Farm on the outskirts of the city.
But this time there was no
visiting royalty whom the authorities did not wish to witness deteriorating
living standards in their former colony. Council officials were responding
to a clean-up call of the city environs by residents agitated by years of
When Reserve Bank governor Gideon Gono presented his
monetary review policy with unexpected forthrightness, no one expected he
would propose construction of additional jails to take in parallel market
traders who he blames for playing havoc with his turnaround
Novelist George Or-well would describe Gono's proposed
solution as a law of the suspect "that strikes away all security for
self-reliance and delivers any good or innocent people who have committed
petty offences into prison without assurances that their case will ever be
A hard long-standing foreign currency crunch has generated
crisis-level fuel and food shortages with government officials appearing
clueless on how to solve the problem.
"We are aware of the
iniquitous parallel market rates for foreign currency and goods in short
supply currently prevailing in this market and find it ludicrous that
Zimbabweans are forced by circumstances to trade their toil, sweat and blood
at these ridiculous levels," Gono said.
At the moment, Zimbabwe is
failing to cope with a burgeoning prison population that it can neither feed
And years of economic stagnation and an indigenisation
programme that has empowered Zanu PF apparatchiks have turned most of
Zimbabwe's unemployed into subsistence traders who have cluttered pavements
and streets in major towns with their wares. Experts put Zimbabwe's
unemployment rate at 80%.
Gono seems the kind of well-meaning
bureaucrat who thinks Zimbabwe's crisis-laden economy could be remedied if
he amended a few by-laws and abolished a few anomalies.
eve of Gono's monetary policy review, police blitzed street vendors and flea
market traders who are part of a growing informal sector spawned by
joblessness, flattening their stalls in search of scarce hard
The tear-jerking demolitions impoverished thousands who
make a living on the streets of the capital.
Men, women and young
adults trying to make an honest living were caught up in the indiscriminate
blitz as Gono tried to mop up any hard currency he could lay his hands
Economic experts say from the onset Gono had his priorities
upside down. He tried to be a deus ex machina, trying to solve everyone's
problems by showering money in every direction.
His approach to
solving Zimbabwe's decades-old economic problems seems to appeal to a change
of spirit rather than a change of structure without any definite
An appeal for a change of heart is the alibi of a bureaucrat
who does not want to endanger the status quo.
But the victims in
the capital blame Chinese nationals who have set up shop in major towns and
cities for their plight.
"They want to destroy the competition by
taking over flea markets themselves," complained Cynthia Masuku, who was
caught up in a police blitz at Rezende Street in the
Masuku claims she lost $2 million kept in her trunk when
police raided the flea market. "People should just boycott their (Chinese)
shops. They are the source of our problems."
another flea-market operator along Julius Nyerere Way, said: "This is a new
form of colonialism. Soon we will have to fight to dislodge these Chinese
from our midst."
Millions of dollars worth of timber and other
furniture-making material went up in smoke in Glen View suburb when police
torched stalls there.
In the vagueness of reasoning that could be
likened to curing pimples by cutting them, Gono's and government's utter
lack of compassion for the small man were apparent.
victims of intentions to punish the poor man. Government knows the big-time
culprits of foreign currency leakages but would rather go for the
powerless," complained 28- year-old Arison Rukweza, who said he was a
qualified machinist who turned to repairing mobile phones and vending when
he failed to get a job.
Sithembiso Nyoni, the informal sector
minister, condoned the demolition of informal traders' stalls saying this
had been necessitated by the emergence of criminal activities in the
Flea market traders face bleak future Grace
Kombora STANDING with his arms folded across his chest Lovemore Motsi shakes
his head in disbelief at the closed Union Avenue flea market, hopelessness
written on every line of his face and visibly shaken by what had happened to
Motsi (24) wonders what the future holds for him as his flea
market business had been demolished in the campaign codenamed "Operation
Holding the remaining cellphone charger for sale, he
struggles to come to terms with what happened to him.
my source of livelihood . . . now they are destroying where we used to sell
our goods. Where do they want us to go?" Motsi said after gathering
Being the only breadwinner in his family, Motsi wonders how
his family would survive with his sole source of livehood
"Mabasa hakuna and tiri kuedza kuzvibatsira saka vanoda kuti
tiitei kana vachipwanya patinotengesera (There are no jobs, so what do they
want us to do if they are destroying our stalls)?" he
Motsi said the irony of "Operation Restore Order" was that it
would lead to prostitution and thieving as most people now do not have
sources of income but will find the easiest sources.
will be flooded with prostitutes and thieves because people have no jobs but
need money," he said.
Motsi said it was going to take a long time for
him to find another place to sell his wares and to cope with the
Since his business has been shattered, Motsi continues to
come and sit outside Union Avenue flea market expecting a change of heart
from the city council.
"I expect that something might be done,
maybe they might give us somewhere else to operate. If they want to give
these areas to the Chinese they should have allocated us somewhere else
rather than chasing us away like rats," he said.
the crackdown to pressure from newly arrived Chinese businessmen to stop
secondhand dealers undercutting their cheap imports. Leader of the
opposition Movement for Democratic Change Morgan Tsvangirai was quoted in
the press saying the country has been "mortgaged to the
"How can we violently remove Zimbabweans from our flea
markets to make
way for the Chinese?" he said. "The majority of
Zimbabweans depend on informal trade to feed, clothe and educate their
Under President Robert Mugabe's "Look East" policy, the
country has acquired aircraft and jet fighters from Beijing, rejecting calls
to restore links with the International Monetary Fund and World Bank severed
in 1998 over chronic budget indiscipline.
"How can they try to
please foreigners at our expense?" Motsi said.
Motsi condemned the city
council and police for not giving notice to the flea market dealers, which
he said showed the insensitivity of the government.
Cash and many
valuable goods are said to have been lost in the process.
with anger, blamed the police for dealing with the wrong
"As the operation is aiming at bringing sanity to Harare,
touts, pavement vendors and street kids should have been the victims not us
because we operate under legal buildings," Motsi said.
blamed the government for condemning flea market operators as foreign
"Flea market operators are not foreign currency
dealers but we aim at raising money for a living through selling goods," he
Flea markets are alleged to be a safe haven for parallel market
traders in foreign currency and fuel.
Presenting his monetary
policy review, Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe governor Gideon Gono warned of
measures to curb hoarding of goods.
"Those inclined towards consumptive
shopping trips are among the largest culprits in exerting parallel market
pressure, and their operations must be curbed by every means possible under
the new drive to instill discipline in our markets," Gono
Gono said illegal operators were not paying taxes but were big
players in the game of externalising foreign currency bought at whatever
Flea market operators are accused of hoarding basic goods and
selling them at exorbitant prices.
Mike Davies, the chairperson
of the Combined Harare Residents Association, said the destruction of flea
markets was illegal and showed how heavy-handed the regime was in dealing
Davies accused the Sekesai Makwavarara-led
commission of insensitivity in dealing with ratepayers.
council should have engaged in a dialogue to show their concern with
citizens because there is no future without dialogue," Davies
Davies warned of possible violence.
heavy-handedness is a sign of a ruthless regime," he said. "A legitimate
government should act like government not a gang of thugs."
Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) condemned the ongoing operation saying it
was illegal and in violation of property rights.
"These acts by the
ZRP and municipal police are clearly and manifestly illegal as they had no
lawful order to evict mostly licensed flea market operators and tuck shop
owners," the ZLHR said.
The ZLHR said despite the fact that flea
market operators were paying rentals to the Harare City Council they were
Morris to quiz Mugabe over food aid Augustine
Mukaro UNITED Nations special envoy on humanitarian assistance James Morris,
who is coming to Zimbabwe next week, is expected to quiz President Robert
Mugabe over his government's failure to submit a consolidated aid appeal in
the face of a deteriorating food crisis.
Morris, who tried on five
occasions to persuade Mugabe to change his failed economic policies and
remove bureaucratic obstacles to food output and distribution, is scheduled
to fly into the country on June 1 to assess the food
Morris, who is also the World Food Programme executive
director, is already in the Southern African region on the same mission. He
has so far been to South Africa and Zambia. He is expected to visit Malawi
before coming to Zimbabwe.
Mugabe last year blocked Morris, who
was on a similar trip, from visiting Zimbabwe, claiming he was busy and that
the country was expecting a bumper harvest of a record 2,4 million tonnes of
the staple maize.
It later emerged that government feared Morris
would meet with opposition
parties and civil society groups who would
give a different account of the food situation.
Mugabe's claims, Zimbabwe has been hit by a massive grain deficit and
recently admitted it needed to import 1,2 million tones of
Morris at the time said if Zimbabwe produced a bumper harvest
that would be one of the most miraculous recoveries in history. He said it
was inconceivable for a country emerging from a huge deficit to recover and
then produce a record harvest.
UN Southern Africa spokesman Mike
Huggins told the Zimbabwe Independent that Morris hopes to discuss a whole
range of humanitarian issues when he comes to Harare.
will discuss a whole range of humanitarian assistance and food is part of
it," Huggins said.
Zimbabwe and other countries in the region are
affected by the "triple threat" of food insecurity, weakened capacity for
good governance and HIV and Aids.
Morris will be accompanied by
Ann Veneman, newly-appointed executive director of Unicef on his visit.
Veneman will also travel to Swaziland during her visit. This will be her
first field visit since taking up the top post at Unicef at the beginning of
Morris's visit comes at a time when Zimbabwe is in the throes of
severe shortages of food, fuel and other basic commodities. Widespread
shortages have become the order of the day in most urban centres where shops
have run out of basic commodities such as maize meal, bread, sugar, cooking
oil and milk.
Harare home-seekers face billion-dollar
losses Augustine Mukaro/Grace Kombora HOME-SEEKERS in Harare could have
been duped of billions of dollars by unscrupulous agents selling council and
state land without authority as residential stands.
Officials in the
Harare city council yesterday said the sale of the residential stands was
illegal and structures that had already been erected would be
Those who have already set up illegal structures
yesterday said they would not move even if it meant "a bloody confrontation
"We have been given a three-month deadline to
demolish these houses and leave," Robert Mashanda, a "property owner" at the
Joshua Nkomo Township, an illegal settlement between Kambuzuma and New
Marimba Park, said.
"But I can assure you that we are not going
anywhere because these are permanent structures which have cost us a fortune
to put up. We are prepared to defend our properties with our
"Remember this is not the first time government has wanted to
evict us. They tried it (four years ago) and failed. So what makes them
think it will work this time around?"
Jefias Chikono, one of the
stand owners who was putting final touches to his five-roomed house, took a
swipe at government accusing it of being insensitive to people's
"Over 300 000 families live in either backyard structures or
have moved to these peri-urban settlements. Where will they go if these
structures are demolished?" Chikono said.
The stands are not
connected to running water or sewer lines. They do not have paved roads or
Among those selling the stands is 21st Century Housing
Co-operative, run by Zanu PF-aligned clergyman Obediah Msindo of the Destiny
for Afrika Network. Other housing co-operatives have already sold land in
Kambuzuma, Marimba, Hatfield and Waterfalls. Officials at Town House
yesterday said the projects had not been sanctioned by
Chair of the Harare Commission Sekesai Makwavarara last year
attended the official launch of one of the housing schemes. In the run-up to
the March polls she, together with Local Government minister Ignatious
Chombo, attended the launch of the 21st Century Housing Scheme at Bunkers
Hill Farm in Hatfield.
Town House now says the scheme, together
with others dotted around the city, are illegal. They have since given
people building houses in these areas three months to vacate or face
Yesterday allegedly bogus estate agents selling
stands in the undesignated areas still had adverts in the papers inviting
home-seekers to take up plots at give away prices. The agents said they were
given the go-ahead to sell the stands by Chombo.
One of the
companies developing houses at the illegal settlements, Amalish Investments,
said they had legal documents from the Ministry of Local Government
authorising their activities.
"Our houses are legal and we have
papers that show that they are genuine," an official at Amalish
Amalish Investments is selling 300-2 000 square-metre stands at
Stoneridge, Eyre and Joshua Nkomo townships in the southern part of the
capital. The value of the stands ranges from $15 million to $50 million with
deposits varying from $3 million to $10 million and the balance payable over
12 months. The market value of such stands is between $40 million and $200
Many of the housing schemes were initiated by Zanu PF
parliamentary candidates as a way of luring voters.
Names of the
housing schemes include Leopold Takawira, Simon Muzenda, Moven Mahachi,
Chenjerai Hunzvi, Sally Mugabe and Joshua Nkomo.
But council officials
yesterday warned people not to buy the stands.
Airport Road and others that were built without council approval are illegal
so they will be demolished," an official from the city council's housing
"As the governor (of Harare metropolitan David
Karimanzira) said there won't be any selective application of the law. No
illegal structure will be spared, so people should not purchase any stands
for peri-urban settlements until this exercise is finished because they
might fall victims of the operation."
The destruction of the
properties is part of government's blitz codenamed "Operation
The operation has seen the destruction of street
stalls and flea markets run by informal traders and the arrest of foreigners
and street people in the urban areas. Government and local authorities have
also said they will destroy all unplanned backyard shacks in high density
areas in the next three months.
Midzi to testify in Moyo suit Dumisani Muleya/Grace
Kombora MINES minister Amos Midzi will give evidence in the defamation court
battle pitting Speaker of Parliament John Nkomo and Zanu PF politburo member
Dumiso Dabengwa against former Information minister Jonathan
Midzi will testify alongside two Zanu PF central committee members,
Andrew Langa and Abednico Ncube, and a host of other senior party regional
leaders from Matabeleland North.
Court papers in the Zimbabwe
Independent's possession say Midzi, who lost to opposition Movement for
Democratic Change candidate Tapiwa Mashakada in the March 31 general
election, will tell the court that last year he received a memorandum from
Moyo inviting him to attend "a special programme at Dinyane High School (in
Tsholotsho) on November 18 2004".
Moyo is suing Nkomo and Dabengwa
for damages arising from alleged defamatory remarks they made during a
meeting held in Tsholotsho in January in the aftermath of the Dinyane
indaba, which President Robert Mugabe said was designed to oust the party
It is alleged at the January meeting Nkomo and Dabengwa
accused Moyo of organising the Dinyane meeting to stage a coup against the
party leadership. Moyo denies plotting a coup.
meeting brought together a Zanu PF faction widely seen as being led by
ruling party legal affairs secretary Emmerson Mnangagwa allegedly to block
Vice-President Joice Mujuru's ascendancy.
Mujuru belongs to a rival
group led by her husband, former army commander
Mnangagwa's faction reportedly wanted its candidate to become vice-president
ahead of Mujuru.
The Dinyane meeting claimed a number of political
casualties, including Moyo, six Zanu PF provincial chairmen, and a host of
other senior party officials who were either demoted or punished one way or
Mnangagwa also suffered demotion in the party where he was
removed from the post of secretary for administration to legal affairs
secretary. He also lost his position as speaker of parliament and was given
a peripheral ministry, that of Rural Housing and Social
Other witnesses expected to testify against Moyo include
former Zanu PF Matabeleland North provincial chairman Jacob Mudenda, who was
one of the six chairmen suspended for five years after the Dinyane
Court papers say Mudenda will say he attended the Dinyane
meeting and was the Master of Ceremonies. He will also give a detailed
account of what happened there.
Former Chronicle editor Stephen
Ndlovu will also testify. He will say he was the one who caused a newspaper
article on the January meeting to be published in his former paper on
January 13 - which is part of the basis of Moyo's lawsuit - and say how he
obtained his information.
"He will further deny he spoke to the
defendants (Nkomo and Dabengwa) with regards to what transpired at the said
meeting prior or during the publication of the newspaper article," documents
Other witnesses are listed in the court documents as Leonard
Memeza Mthombeni, Velaphi Mlingo, Kembo Tshuma, Believe Gaule, Patrick
Ngwenya, Headman Moyo, Josephine Moyo, Cain Mathema, Musa Mathema, Maria
Sithole, Kossam Ndlovu and Madeline Bhebhe.
A NEW study
points to critical policy errors as the main reasons for food and nutrition
insecurity in Zimbabwe, in particular government's fast-track land
It is still unclear just how many Zimbabweans
will face food shortages this year, although aid agencies have put the
figure at around 5,5 million. A recent countrywide survey of communities
indicated a sharply deteriorating food security situation, with 82% of
districts reporting widespread crop failure after poor rains in the 2004/05
The study, funded by the UK Department for
International Development, acknowledged the adverse impact of poor weather
on the harvest, but argued that poor policy choices were among the chief
reasons why the food crisis has dragged on since the marketing year of
It noted that as large-scale commercial farms were taken
over under the controversial land redistribution programme in 2000, the area
planted has fallen dramatically - at one point to less than half the area
previously tilled - as did the use of hybrid seed and fertiliser.State
control of maize marketing through the Grain Marketing Board (GMB) worsened
"The GMB set the buying price of maize but, given
rapid inflation, this price was unattractive, so farmers had little
incentive to invest in intensified production and generate a surplus of
maize," the researchers said.
To illustrate the extent to which
policy failures impacted on production, the study used three Southern
African countries with similar weather patterns and compared actual harvest
figures for Zambia and South Africa between 2000-04 with projected harvests
in Zimbabwe over the same period had fast-track land reform not taken
place.The results showed that Zimbabwe might have had a smaller harvest in
2001, but after that its output would have been much larger: between 2001
and 2004 the actual harvest was 3,77 megatonnes; in the research model
production it reached 6,24 megatonnes.
Had Zimbabwe performed as
modelled, the regional harvest deficit in 2002 would have been fully
one-third less, considerably reducing the amount of international food aid
needed that year. - Irin.
Former farmers set conditions for return Augustine
Mukaro DISPLACED commercial farmers are demanding a restoration of the rule
of law and removal of price controls as part of their conditions before they
can accept Reserve Bank governor Gideon Gono's call for them to return to
In his monetary policy statement last week Gono said due
to the highly specialised nature of modern farming there was need to promote
ventures between new farmers and former operators.
great scope in the country promoting and supporting ventures between new
farmers with progressive-minded former operators of horticulture estates, as
well as other new investors, so as to hasten the skills transfer cycle,"
Justice for Agriculture (JAG), a splinter group from the
Commercial Farmers Union, this week said farmers want government to first
ensure that an investment-friendly environment prevails before they could
consider going back to their farms.
"Farmers are demanding the
return of the rule of law, respect for property rights, security of tenure,
uncontrolled markets and financial incentives as prerequisites for coming
back to the farms," JAG chairman John Worswick said.
groups targeted for return to the land include dairy farmers, conservancy
owners, beef cattle farmers, as well as pig and poultry
Under this arrangement, the new investors or skilled
former operators would be given a special dispensation and guarantees of
uninterrupted productive tenure of between five and 10 years, backed by a
resolute fight against any disruptions on the farms by the relevant arms of
JAG said government had intensified its overtures with
more than a dozen farmers being approached.
emissaries have approached a number of farmers in Mashonaland East and West
provinces," Worswick said. "Mash East governor Ray Kaukonde led the team to
some farmers in the province."
There used to be 156 dairy farms in
Mashonaland East before the land reform programme began but only 10
"In Mash West, government approached farmers around Biri Dam
in the Banket area," he said.
The province used to produce the
bulk of the country's wheat and maize.
Rural households out of food Shakeman Mugari MOST
of Zimbabwe's rural households have run out of food, forcing hungry
villagers to buy the little available grain from the black market, a food
security report has revealed.
The Famine Early Warning System Network
(Fewsnet), a United Nations agency, says many rural households have
exhausted last year's harvest and people face starvation without urgent
The report warns that the crisis could worsen because
other crops that normally provide alternative sources of food also
"The majority of farming households will harvest nothing and
are already dependent on the market for all their food requirements at a
time when (their) own crop production would normally be their dominant
source of food," the warning says.
Fewsnet says Zimbabwe must
urgently import and distribute food to needy areas before disaster strikes,
especially in the rural areas where some families have not been able to
The report says the situation is unlikely to
improve any time soon due to lack of money to import enough maize to bridge
the country's two seasons.
It warns that government, reeling under
foreign currency shortages for power, fuel and medicines, might not be able
to import enough grain to see the country to the next harvest in 10
"Given the current shortages, importing adequate food for the
nation in the current consumption year is going to be an enormous challenge
for Zimbabwe," warns the report.
The maize imports would also
compete for the limited foreign currency with other essential needs like
fuel, electricity, medicine and education, it says.
"At the same
time, the need for food imports has to compete with other national
priorities such as fuel, electricity, medicines and education, all of which
require foreign currency."
Zimbabwe's foreign currency situation has
been deteriorating steadily since 1999, with a deficit of over US$600
million last year, making government's bid to import 1,2 million of maize an
Government needs to raise US$818 million to import
maize but indications on the foreign currency auctions are that it would be
difficult to raise such large amounts. Credit facilities which would
normally bridge the gap have been cut because of government's failure to pay
debts on time.
On top of foreign currency shortages, Fewsnet says
even if food were available, most people would not afford it because it is
sold at exorbitant prices on the black market. It also noted that escalating
food prices on the official market are likely to worsen the food security
situation in urban areas.
Food prices have gallopped with other basic
commodities going up by more than 60% in the last four weeks. Rising
inflation is also likely to cause a surge in the prices of basic
Meanwhile, South Africa has raised the price of maize.
Zimbabwe imports most of its maize from South Africa. Experts say the surge
in maize prices was due to increased demand from Zimbabwe which urgently
needs 1,2 mil-lion tonnes to get to the next harvest. Preliminary estimates
indicate that Zimbabwe might now need US$1 billion to import maize, up from
US$818 million initially indicated.
Bully Botman, chairman of
Grain South Africa, said maize prices had gone up by about R50 per tonne
over the past few weeks. He said the price of white maize had gone up from
around R530 to between R580 and R600 a tonne. He said yellow maize was
slightly more expensive at between R630-R645, up from around
Commodity brokers say the increase was due to an overwhelming
demand from Zimbabwe. However, Botman said the price increase was due to
"They are anticipating higher prices due to growing
demand, that's why it's going up," he said.
blames the food crisis on the drought, analysts say things would not be this
bad were it not for the chaotic land reform.
After realising the
magnitude of the food crisis, President Mugabe last month bowed to
international pressure and agreed that the UN could come and assess the
IMF predicts 1,6% decline Godfrey Marawanyika THE
International Monetary Fund (IMF) has predicted a minus 1,6% decline in
Zimbabwe's economic performance this year against the central bank's
optimistic forecast of positive growth.
The IMF has also predicted
zero growth next year.
Last week Reserve Bank governor Gideon Gono
revised gross domestic product forecasts for the year from an initial 3-5%
in the fourth quarter to 2-2,5%.
In his monetary policy review
statement last week, Gono attributed the revision to the decline in
agricultural output, which had been projected to spur overall economic
He said the drought in the region would limit economic
"Reflecting the dominance of agriculture in the country's
productive systems, the unfolding drought is expected to limit the forecast
GDP growth to an average real rate of 2-2,5%, down from the previous
forecast of 3-5%," Gono said.
"There are distinct correlations
between droughts in Zimbabwe, the overall adverse performance of the economy
and inflation, which ought to guide turnaround policy priorities to promote
food security and overall reduction of inflation," said
However, a bank economist disputed the findings of the IMF and
the RBZ as optimistic.
"These are both optimistic figures. I
would put the decline at between 5-10%. Things are not well in the country,"
said the economist.
"There is no movement on the exchange rate,
employers will simply close shop. In fact, they are building up a criminal
market, which they are trying to kill."
As of the end of last
year, Zimbabwe's current account deficit was minus US$463,7 million and the
capital account stood at minus US$211,5 million.
In 2003, the current
account recorded minus US$511,9 million while the capital account recorded
minus US$220,9 million.
The current account takes into account the
country's exports and imports, while the capital account takes into account
issues such as foreign direct investment, portfolio investment, and long and
By the end of 2003, the current account recorded
minus US$511,9 million while the capital account recorded minus US$220,9
Last week Gono appealed for understanding by multi-lateral
lenders as to why the country was failing to settle debts on
He said Zimbabwean embassies across the world should launch
investment promotion campaigns to complement turnaround programmes being
implemented at home.
"On the international front, we made a good
start towards normalising our relations with the international community,
especially our financing partners of yesteryear, the IMF, World Bank,
African Development Bank and Afreximbank," he said.
"Where we did
not do as well as we would have wanted is with our bilateral creditors and
those within the Paris Club of lenders. We pledge to look after our
outstanding debts as soon as it is practical to do so. I wish to thank all
our international creditors individually and collectively for their
understanding of our situation and support. We will not let them
Since 1999, Zimbabwe has been experiencing massive
capital flight because of the hostile operating environment which was made
worse by the shortage of foreign currency which has resulted in the country
failing to pay its overdue accounts.
In February, the IMF, which
Harare owes US$301 million, gave it a six-month reprieve from suspension for
failing to settle debts.
"We also remain committed to the full
payment of all our debts to international creditors, which repayment
programme is already underway, and is expected to be stepped up as the
foreign exchange situation improves," Gono said.
with disgust the manner in which the police handled people at flea markets
and confisticated their wares from Monday to Friday last week,
coincidentally at the same time when our "economic revival" plan was being
presented by Gideon Gono, the Reserve Bank governor.
We are not sure
if all the wares were returned to their rightful owners.
bled and continues to bleed seeing commuters from Chitungwiza, for example,
being dropped off at the ABC Auction premises to walk for the remainder of
the journey into town because police won't allow commuter omnibuses into the
What hurts most is that our political establishment has
spared the Chinese and allowed them to continue with their
Remember their shops also look like flea markets - if not
worse. And worse still, their products are not durable.
could ask: are these Chinese just selling to Zimbabwe and not repatriating
anything back home? Assuming they are, is it in Zim dollars, US dollar or
Do we then have to go for plastic surgery or even change our
names to be acceptable?
Please do not turn us, enterprising
people, into thieves and prostitutes by denying us a decent
THOSE who have
had the opportunity to read the Bible should be familiar with the story of
Jesus telling the Jews to destroy the temple and he would rebuild it in
three days. With his Messianic hands, he would build a better and more
There is an age-old theory that one must destroy in
order to build. That is why in order to build new structures in the CBD, old
ones have to be pulled down. The same is true of human character. It is
important sometimes to destroy the old person in order to live a new
I am not sure whether the same principle is applicable with an
This unfortunately appears to be the guiding policy of
government. The destruction the economy has been subjected to over the past
five years bears witness to this notion. There is a destructive hand on the
loose in this country.
It is being unleashed to destroy so that
government can rebuild. That is why we always hear our rulers talking of
rebuilding the national herd, rebuilding infrastructure on the farms,
reviving the ailing manufacturing sector, resuscitating the health sector,
re-equipping Air Zimbabwe and Zupco etc.
In all this frenzy of
rebuilding, resuscitating, reforming and reviving, government has tried to
position itself as the saviour of the country. But who is the killer here?
Who is the destroyer?
I recall at the inception of the land reform
programme when Justice minister Patrick Chinamasa said something like you
cannot make an omelette without breaking eggs. Government in the name of
land reform did break eggs but where is the omelette? When government
decided to embark on the chaotic land reform programme, it killed grain
production, it killed irrigation, it decimated the dairy sector, and it
butchered beef cattle and cut a swathe through horticulture. Breaking eggs
to do what Patrick?
Today government and its apostle, Gideon Gono,
have been dishing out funds to rehabilitate the agricultural sector. Gono is
getting applause for his largesse. He is our saviour.
Chinotimba last week talked of "our God-given governor". That's good
alliteration Joseph. (Don't bite your tongue though. Take it
Last week Gono even proposed bringing back the "former
operators" of horticultural concerns to offer technical expertise. He could
not call them former white farmers because it is not politically correct.
Government will now seek glory for realising the importance of experienced
hands in agriculture. We will however not forget that government kicked out
years of experience on the farms and replaced them with
When Chinamasa spoke of the land revolution, I am sure he
did not mean stripping tractors, looting irrigation equipment, trashing
farmhouses (look at what they did to the late Enos Chikowore's farmhouse),
cutting trees and slaughtering game for the pot. What has been built out of
The destructive hand of government in schools, colleges and
universities is manifest. We do not need to discuss government's record in
health and social services.
That poisoned mindset is driving the
current blitz against informal traders in the CBD. I have no problem with
attempts to spruce up the CBD and ensuring no laundry is done on First
Street. I however have a problem with government criminalising institutions
it helped to create. The reason why there is a flourishing informal sector,
albeit laced with criminal elements, is because government has failed to
develop and expand the formal sector.
Will government close companies,
parastatals and some of its departments simply because they are sabotaging
the economy? Gono told us clearly where corruption and graft are centred.
Zimra, the police, parastatals and the Department of
I do not expect to see a blitz of equal force at these
institutions because our government has not been known to deal decisively
with real issues. The men and women running our government are crazy with
blitzes that are unfortunately aimed at the wrong targets. The real
criminals manning high offices have escaped the net.
promised us that he would deal with those who abused the public sector
funds, those who diverted agro-loans to buy vehicles and other goodies and
those politicians who have been encouraging their supporters not to repay
loans. We don't expect anything spectacular. Remember the VIP housing
scheme, the DDF boreholes scam and the embarrassing looting of the War
Victims Compensation Fund? Are the perpetrators of these social crimes not
occupying top offices in government and parastatals? These are the real
criminals who have been shielded from arrest by political
I still want to refer to the adage of breaking eggs to
make omelettes. If ever Zimbabwe needs to destroy in order to build, the
first structure that must to be brought down is the coterie of blind leaders
currently running the asylum of patronage.
Frankly speaking, what
damage to the city were the flower vendors at Africa Unity Square causing?
Did their flowers not look extremely beautiful whether passing along Jason
Moyo Avenue or from La Fontaine Restaurant at Meikles?
Who is the
criminal here? The flower vendors or Sekesai Makwavarara and
have for weeks failed to repair the damaged fresh water pipes along Harare
Street? What can they build in Harare after all this destruction? More chaos
We are now in a madhouse and the inmates are in
RESERVE Bank of Zimbabwe governor Gideon Gono, currently President
Robert Mugabe's point man on the economy, last week presented his monetary
policy review statement that is unlikely to put brakes on a slide that is
taking the whole country down the path of poverty.
Gono's review was
widely expected to provide relief to a restless population battered by the
long-running political and economic crisis.
The country anxiously awaited
the policy - a macroeconomic concept of managing money supply (monetary
aggregates or stock) and velocity in the economy - hoping Gono would provide
a panacea, especially in view of his recent achievements in stabilising
The anxiety was heightened by the fact that Zimbabwe's sea of
troubles, which had temporarily subsided last year, courtesy of Gono's
policy interventions, had come back in full flood after March's disputed
Gono faced an unenviable task. Macroeconomic
fundamentals, interest, exchange, and inflation rates, were badly skewed and
Interests rates, the main instrument of monetary
policy, were too high for debt-ridden businesses to borrow, but at the same
time in negative territory, defeating efforts to combat
The exchange rate was also misaligned as the ailing Zimbabwe
dollar was overvalued by over 300%. Devaluation, which does not work unless
it is accompanied by a package of other economic measures, was inevitable
due to the huge gap in the balance-of-payments position.
Chicago School economists as they are also known, say if a currency is
overvalued it prices goods out of markets, which is damaging to exporters,
and widens the trade deficit. It can also be inflationary, just like an
Gono also had to deal with inflation, which despite
falling from a record peak of 622,8% in January last year to 123% in March,
had surged to 129,1% last month.
Irrepressible inflationary pressures
were bubbling under the surface due to increased money supply and a wave of
wage hikes unmatched by production before the last election.
supply grew 222,6% last year and continues to grow at an alarming rate,
showing a high velocity of fiat money. The monetarist doctrine says money
supply expansion in excess of real economic growth debases the value of the
currency and fuels exchange rate instability.
There were also shortages
of foreign currency, food, fuel, electricity and basic commodities. Captains
of industry had warned that more companies faced closure and poverty was
worsening against a background of rising unemployment.
policy, through which government influences the economy via the budget,
especially taxation and resource allocations, was in disarray. There can be
no monetary policy to talk about if there is a collapse of fiscal
The budget deficit that reached an unprecedented 25% of gross
domestic product (GDP) in 2003, was too high. Zimbabwe's economy, one of the
fastest shrinking in the world, contracted by a cumulative 30% of real GDP
in the past five years.
Gono was thus expected to adopt bold measures
- not shock therapy - to put the economy on a sound footing.
increased secured interest rates to 160%, from 95% and unsecured lending
rates from 105% to 170% per annum. Concessionary lending rates for exporters
were set at 5%, from 50%, and for agriculture at 20% per annum.
growth was revised from a maximum of 5% to 2,5% but the question is how does
an economy grow when all its major sectors are declining?
incentives for gold, tobacco and cotton. In a serious indictment of the
failed the land reform exercise, Gono proposed "command agriculture" and
appealed for a return of evicted "specialist" white farmers to revive a
sector wrecked by a chaotic land redistribution programme.
move, Gono devalued the local currency by a negligible 45%, from US$1: $6
200 to US$1: $9 000, saying he would not legitimise "ridiculous exchange
rates" ruling the "iniquitous parallel market".
Gono's politically-determined exchange rate as ineffectual insofar as it has
no relationship with the prevailing market situation.
was well intentioned and actually did his best under terrible conditions,
his measures were in the final analysis piecemeal and woefully inadequate to
make a significant difference to the state of the economy.
Gono is operating within severe political constraints. But people assume
that when Gono came in he understood those realities and knew how he would
negotiate his way on critical issues.
In the late 1980s in the US, Paul
Volcker was succeeded by the current Federal Reserve governor Alan
Greenspan, a leading monetarist. Greenspan's firm handling of monetary
policy in the run up to the 1991 presidential election amid an economic
recession, was widely criticised from the American right as being
excessively tight, but he stood his ground, costing George H W Bush (Senior)
When Bill Clinton came into office he reappointed Greenspan,
and kept him as a core member of his economic team. Greenspan while he
remained fundamentally monetarist in orientation, argued that doctrinaire
application of theory was insufficiently flexible for central banks to meet
emerging situations, especially those like the 1997 Asian financial
But in Zimbabwe Gono cannot stand up to Mugabe and his
incompetent regime which appears dangerously out of touch with the
practicalities of modern economics. This is why he often comes up with half
measures, especially on devaluation.
Out of desperation, Gono
last week instigated a crackdown on black market dealers and hotels, claiming
they were hoarding foreign currency. By mid-week at least 10 000 people had
been arrested in a vicious drive to crush the black market economy, a
symptom of a deep-seated economic malaise.
However, observes say the
crackdown - which has political overtones - is pointless and bound to fail
because the shortages, especially of foreign currency and basic commodities,
are market conditions stemming out of a disequilibrium between demand and
Instead of arresting black market merchants who are creatures of
economic collapse, Gono should be arresting inflation and the broad economic
To further advertise his exasperation, Gono, who spoke in
an emotional and aggressive tone, proposed building more jails to lock up
Blaming "indiscipline in the economy", foreigners,
and parallel market dealers for failure to meet policy targets is unhelpful.
Excuses bordering on threats and xenophobia cannot achieve economic
What Gono needs to understand is rent-seeking behaviour is an
indication of the breakdown of political and economic structures. He also
needs to understand that there can be no sustainable economic recovery
without fundamental political reforms or a negotiated political settlement
to the current crisis.
This is where the crux of the matter lies.
Everything else, strictly speaking, is secondary.
Swedish press law/Aippa poles apart By Sizwe
Thuthuka LAST year, the Embassy of Sweden in Harare organised a tour for
local journalists to visit media regulatory agencies, journalist unions and
prominent media houses in that country. The tour was a culmination of
incessant government propaganda that sought to present the Access to
Information and Protection of Privacy Act (Aippa) as a lesser evil than the
Swedish Freedom of the Press Act.
In a statement, Kristina Svensson,
Ambassador of Sweden to Zimbabwe, told the journalists that she wanted to
promote a better understanding of Swedish media laws and the freedom of
expression culture in her country.
The tour was open to journalists
from both the private and government media. Journalists from Zimpapers and
Zimbabwe Broadcasting Holdings opted out under unclear circumstances, even
when their bosses, under the banner of the Zimbabwe Association of Editors,
resolved to take part. Take part they did, but they chose to remain silent
after the tour.
Private media journalists who took part in the tour
gave testimonials that contradicted the perception given by pro-Aippa
supporters such as Media and Information Commission (MIC) chairperson
Tafataona Mahoso. The journalists wrote about voluntary media regulation and
zero-tolerance for government interference in the operation of the
This came under criticism from those defending harsh
regulations on the media in Zimbabwe. For example, Tendai Chari writing in
the Sunday Mirror in his column "Media analysis" chose an example of the
arrest of a journalist in the 80s to buttress his claims that even in the
West journalists are arrested and have to operate within the confines "of
The writing on the wall can sometimes be deceptive. In a
lengthy article in 2002, Mahoso conveniently cited clauses in the Swedish
Freedom of the Press Act that limit the right of the media to publish state
secrets and other classified information. Despite his brilliant attempt, he
conveniently ignored to mention that a competent court of law, not an
extra-judiciary body (or quasi-judiciary bodies) such as the MIC, handles
such cases. Even then, the right to freedom of expression takes precedence
over other interests in such matters.
Swedes protect their media
from any form of censorship and punish anyone found guilty of attempting to
censor information. They subsidise private media and have used the concept
of the ombudsman to ensure journalists - local and foreign - have unfettered
access to information. A voluntary press council ensures that complaints by
members of the public on media conduct are resolved amicably thereby
minimising costs that would have otherwise been expended had the case been
handled through normal court processes.
The 1766 Swedish Freedom of
the Press Act is premised on preventing any public authority from censoring
news and information. Aippa is premised on a different set of principles
altogether. Clearly, one of them is to curb perceived negative reporting
about Zimbabwe by sections of the media, if it is really true that its
provisions were based on the recommendations of a survey by the
government-appointed Media Ethics Committee.
There is nothing
objectionable to this when it is done within the confines of the
Constitution of Zimbabwe, which is the supreme law of the land. The Supreme
Court has confirmed that some restrictions and penalties in Aippa are
acceptable, but on all occasions, these decisions have not been
Of concern is the continuing rhetoric that is churned
out by the new office bearers in the Ministry of Information and Publicity,
aided by their eloquent permanent secretary George Charamba. Despite the
fact that there is limited and anecdotal evidence linking practice under
Aippa to practice under laws in the West, they continue invoking statutes
elsewhere - Portugal, Switzerland, Britain and the United States - as either
similar or worse than Aippa.
If Aippa were bad, none of the
"noisy" private newspapers would be operational, they argue.
are short of Western examples on the latter - which is the reason the debate
is reduced to "clauses" and "provisions" in these Western statutes, at the
expense of concrete examples on the ground, a challenge which media
professionals and civic media organisations have not taken
The wording in the statutes may be similar, but their
implementation in Zimbabwe has failed to convince even the most
indoctrinated that the actions of the MIC are necessary for the promotion of
the free flow of information in the public interest.
the apprehension that afflicts the new Information minister and his deputy
when journalists and civic media organisations talk about the repeal of
broadcasting laws and Aippa. It means they have a reduced mandate if they
choose to do away with the institutions created by these
However, information ministries have a life beyond repressive
legislation, as examples elsewhere indicate. Some countries have enshrined
provisions that uphold freedom of expression and the media, but have done
away with full ministries of information. Countries closer to home such as
Mozambique and South Africa are good examples.
Simply put, the
free flow of information in the public interest does not need political
However, given the current dispensation, journalists
and civic media organisations should demand that the practice in Sweden and
other countries given as examples now and again be practised in Zimbabwe.
This means that journalists can initiate parallel engagement with a view to
having the laws repealed and also have the anomalies that occurred due to
their enactment revisited immediately.
*Sizwe Thuthuka is an
independent media commentator based in Harare.
Which god does Gideon Gono serve? By Peter
Thompson WHAT is it about our leaders that they feel that they must make
constant reference to the Bible when trying to implement new policies or
Did we not have Finance minister Herbert Murerwa a few years
ago making reference to Jeremiah 29:11 and God's plans for Zimbabwe? These
plans have obviously failed, unless God is of course still working them
The Jews spent many years in exile before God answered their
prayers and His answers were not those that they expected. In addition, the
Jews were expected to turn from their evil ways to enable God to respond.
God will not respond while we as sinners do not acknowledge our
Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) governor Gideon Gono's
references to scripture last week cannot go unchallenged as it seems that
our leaders constantly quote scripture in the hope (forlorn I fear) that God
will somehow bless the statement and plans.
Even a cursory
reading of the Bible will indicate that God may or may not bless His people
but in the event that He does, there are usually a set of preconditions for
such blessing. These preconditions would include a respect for justice, an
abhorrence of evil, a turning to God in humility and the seeking of God's
forgiveness for sins. None of these have our leaders done and therefore in
my humble opinion God is not obliged to bless this nation.
Zimbabwe to the Israelites fleeing Egypt but wanting to return to Egypt.
This begs the question as to his perception of his role in this. Does he see
himself as a Moses and if so which god is he responding to? Is it God in
heaven or an earthly god? I fear the latter.
Is Gono aware that even
when Moses led the people out of Egypt that they still spent 40 years
wandering around the desert because the people failed to obey God. This is
why they constantly looked back at Egypt and until we as a nation and our
leaders in particular acknowledge that we have failed, that we have missed
the mark, we will continue to wander in the desert.
The Promised Land
will, I fear, remain a dream of what might have been. The jewel is rapidly
losing its lustre if it has not already been irredeemably
Towards the end of Gono's statement he makes specific
reference to a scripture, although he does not quote the reference, because
it does not exist. In none of my Bibles could I find the scripture "God
helps those who help themselves". This is not in the Bible and I would be
pleased if he can show us the reference!
Gono also makes
reference to the special case of Zimbabwe as an excuse to avoid devaluation.
He refers to the fact that Zimbabwe is import-dependent and therefore
devaluation will not be a cure for all.
My knowledge of economic
theory is limited but this does not prevent me from making comparisons with
other countries and how they have dealt with economic crises. I would
respectfully suggest that the RBZ and government look at the experience of
New Zealand, which in the mid-80s underwent a structural adjustment
programme that has turned that country around.
With all due respect
to the Kiwis, Zimbabwe with its mineral, agricultural, manufacturing and
proximity to markets has far greater potential than New Zealand. New Zealand
is/was also an import-dependent country and primarily an agricultural
country yet they managed to avoid the problems that we are going through.
The difference being that they were prepared to adopt sound economic and
The New Zealanders realised that they needed to
compete in a world which does not owe them a living. They were prepared to
consider the good of all the people before the financial and political
security of just a few.
Gono also stresses the need for this strategy
and the resolution of the problems to be handled by Zimbabweans and that we
should not rely on outside help.
In the business world
consultants and/or advisors are brought in to guide, lead, train, assist and
improve the business. This is an accepted business practice and I would
hazard a guess that there are all manner of highly respected organisations
in the world that are more than willing to provide this assistance to
It is however naďve of us to expect that this assistance
will be provided without preconditions. Changes need to be made for the
advice to be implemented successfully.
What Gono does not readily
acknowledge is that all of the problems we now face are a result of
mismanagement, greed and insatiable demand for power and control by a few
individuals. If this country were a corporate entity I would hope that the
shareholders and other stakeholders would have fired the board and
management by now! If Zimbabwe were a bank then a curator would have been
appointed some time ago.
This brings me to my next comment that the
policies and requirements to be implemented place an unnecessary burden on
business. I agree that there is need for sound corporate governance and
fiscal prudence but this must come from the top down. It cannot be a
In other words, Gono is demanding fiscal prudence
from corporates who are penalised and or criminalised by Zimra, NECI etc for
the slightest irregularity but the same standards are not required for
parastatals and more noticeably the government. Do as I say not as I do? A
simplified structure of less controls would, all things being equal, achieve
a much better response.
Africans simply can't eat rhetoric By Tony
Namate MAY 25 to me is that day of the year when we have to contend with the
"visions" of visionless African leaders as they wallow in their
hollow-sounding Pan-Africanist rhetoric about solidarity, unity,
sovereignty, ubuntu, uhuru - ad infinitum, ad nauseum.
Any excuse to
make you think they care for you, you ungrateful African.
Bad news: few
African leaders practise what they preach. They get more corrupt, more
entrenched and more undemocratic with each passing year.
exceptions, though, include Joacquim Chissano, Nelson Mandela and Ketumile
Masire. The jury is still out on Malawi's Bingu wa Mutarika, Zambia's Levy
Mwanawasa, Festus Mogae of Botswana and Ghanaian John
African corruption is unique because there are no checks and
balances in place, only cheques and bank balances. Corruption, the currency
of the corridors of power, is the black hole of African governments.
Nepotism, patronage and cronyism - forms of corruption that would make Don
Corleone blush in embarrassment - are openly encouraged, even in countries
where corruption ministries have been created!
In 1980 the
International Monetary Fund (IMF)'s Edwin Blumenthal resigned from Zaire's
central bank after he complained of "sordid and pernicious corruption (so
serious that) there is no chance, I repeat no chance, that Zaire's numerous
creditors will ever recover their loans".
South Africa's corruption
scaled dizzy heights when Mandela left office. It has become so endemic that
a 4x4 or Merc off-roader is now referred to as a yengeni, while the African
National Congress inner circle is sometimes called the Xhosa Nostra. I
wonder what they will call a zuma or a shaik?
Most African leaders
amass wealth not as a privilege, but a birthright. Theirs is "egonomics",
the economics of enriching oneself. In an article entitled Dictators and
Debt, Joseph Hanlon wrote: "One-fifth of all developing country debt
consists of loans given to prop up compliant dictators . . . Even when they
committed gross human rights violations, were notoriously corrupt and
blatantly transferred money to Swiss banks, the flow of loans continued."
And state coffers are used to repay these loans.
It's business as
usual in Africa.
Hanlon thinks that "by forcing repayment of these
loans, we say that it is acceptable to lend to corrupt and oppressive
Swaziland has the highest rate of HIV and Aids in the
world, yet its rotund and randy monarch keeps adding young girls every year
to his harem as if his life depended on it. And the lustful ingonyama isn't
stopping any time soon. Already, two of his "wives" have deserted him. This
is not my idea of female empowerment.
Democracy is anathema to
most African leaders: they brought you democracy, yet they won't allow you
to vote for a leader of your choice!
Unfortunately, some African church
leaders are also a disappointment. They amass obscene wealth by milking
their gullible followers, then turn around to say the people's rewards await
them in heaven! Men of the cloth have become thieves, adulterers, liars,
political opportunists and sexual perverts.
has become synonymous with an appalling propensity for lavish lifestyles and
unparalleled lust for power, characterised by mile-long motorcades, armies
of goons and never-ending summits. The word kleptocracy was coined for
Zaire's Mobutu Sese Seko, kuku ngbendu wa za banga (the cock that leaves no
hen unruffled), one of the world's richest men whose "personal" fortune was
once estimated at more than US$10 billion, with palaces in Europe and Zaire.
He once awarded himself an Oscar for development and his portrait hung in
every nook and cranny and was printed on textiles.
leaders only remember their people in speeches delivered at world fora. Most
of them have what local historian Tafataona Mahoso calls "the neurosis of
Narcissus . . . a certain psychological and political character . . . a
'gamesman' with very few permanent convictions, principles or
The African dictator prefers to get treated in
foreign hospitals than build some in his own country.
Mahoso: "The political narcissist is therefore not concerned about taking on
and completing real tasks or projects which benefit the people."
does any wrong, but "likes to insist on rules and the rule of law to help
himself win the game of life, but the rules must never apply to himself in
such a way as to make possible his defeat or to keep him from maintaining
his illusions of 'visibility' and 'momentum'".
"Rules and the rule of
law are good only when applied against others."
Africa is a continent
riddled with genocide, slavery, wars, coups and tribalism, and even though
it has vast mineral wealth and human resources, our leaders make sure that
no ordinary person prospers. Media freedom is curtailed, as they fear
empowered citizens, preferring to "keep them in the dark and feed them on
manure". And they look after their own kind.
Mengistu Haile Mariam, is currently on an indefinite state-sponsored,
uninterrupted tour of Zimbabwe; Milton Obote has seen successive governments
come and go in Zambia; war criminal Charles Taylor is on 24-hour
"protection" in Nigeria; and diminutive Jean Bertrand Aristide is president
without a country in South Africa.
Meanwhile, privileged Ian Smith
badmouths a leader who never had the same privileges under his UDI regime.
Slobodan Milosevic and Saddam Hussein must be "cursing" themselves for not
having been leaders in Africa.
The African dictator sees himself as the
nearest thing to God: anointed, not appointed. He has a false sense of
omnipotence and indispensability. As if to buttress this folly, church
leaders and other sycophants go into raptures over his greatness, grovelling
before him, feverishly praying for his long life - giving them titles like
"son of god", "teacher", "ngwazi", "supreme guide" and
The culture of criticising the leadership never really took
root in Africa, since the culture of subservience is well-entrenched.
Criticising African leaders is disrespectful. They thrive on fear, not
respect. Leaders routinely use troops, police, militias and soldiers to
terrorise citizens who criticise or challenge them.
cannibal, Emperor Bokassa, had schoolchildren killed for refusing to put on
his uniforms. I understand he ate some of them afterwards. The psychopath,
Idi Amin Dada, literally took matters into his own hands, while apartheid
thug John Vorster had schoolchildren shot dead in June 1976 for refusing to
Jerry Rawlings once beat up one of his ministers,
and Kenneth Kaunda once told a journalist: "You're stupid! Sit down" just
for asking a question. Kamuzu Banda simply locked up his critics and threw
away the key.
A Nigerian president once called one of his ministers
an idiot, while a southern African leader (can't recall his name) said he
had degrees in violence, and has already proved it on more than one
occasion. Kenya's first lady recently invaded the newsroom of The Nation
newspaper, confiscating journalists' equipment and slapping a
Although Robert Mugabe uplifted Zimbabwe's educational
standards soon after assuming power, the honeymoon didn't last. We are now
reeling in cesspools of unprecedented political and economic
Now, we're looking for salvation in China. Things are that
We heap praises on a foreign country for being "the factory of
the world", proud to be trading with it (buying cheap goods and warplanes
using scarce American dollars), and feeling proud to host the hordes of
Nigerian and Asian "brothers" who take advantage of our deteriorating
political situation to sell us imitation goods. Let's admit it, we are proud
of being the dumping ground of China and laughingstock of the
Proud to be Zimbabwean? Sigmund Freud must be turning in his
Instead of "Looking East" shouldn't we "Look Inside" our own
country by inviting multinationals to build factories and invest in our
overqualified, underutilised labour and intellectual resources? Sadly, all
those 1980s educational gains are fast being wiped out by
*Tony Namate is the Zimbabwe Independent and Standard
OVER the past 10 days police have raided street vendors' stalls and
flea markets across Harare. They have razed entire open air markets and
arrested thousands of people while commodities worth millions of dollars
have been forfeited to the state or destroyed.
Thousands of informal
traders have lost their only sources of livelihood.
There are threats to
demolish thousands of backyard shacks which house more than a quarter of
Harare's population. There were running battles in the townships this week
as police ransacked and destroyed tuckshops and vegetable stalls.
part of the blitz at least 1 000 commuter omnibuses were impounded for
various reasons. Meanwhile, workers have been getting to work as late as
mid-day due to an acute shortage of transport. Getting back home after work
sometimes takes up to midnight.
Then there is a crippling fuel
shortage which government is pretending to be managing. On Wednesday Energy
and Power Development permanent secretary Justin Mupamhanga said: "We are
managing the situation."
There is no evidence of that on the ground. On
the contrary, there were long queues of vehicles at many service stations
although there was no evidence of fuel deliveries. Mupamhanga talked
deceptively of logistical problems.
The US$18,5 million which the Reserve
Bank said it had availed for fuel procurement this week is enough to cover
just a month's supply at depressed consumption.
In this chaos where
is the Energy minister? Could he please rise so that we can all see him?
Retired Lt General Mike Nyambuya, appointed to this portfolio two months
ago, has been unforgivably quiet as fuel shortages threaten to bring the
country to a standstill. He must emerge from his farm in Manicaland and tell
the nation the truth about the fuel situation.
We know the problem is
lack of foreign currency but the situation must be managed. The little fuel
trickling into the country has to be managed so that the bulk of it does not
end up on the black market where it is available at $40 000 a litre.
Competent leaders usually emerge in times of crisis while useless ones are
cocooned in inept silence.
The crisis in the fuel sector calls for
long-term planning to manage with the little foreign currency inflows we
currently have. Tinkering with the procurement apparatus, including dishing
out of licences and the setting up of the Petroleum Marketers Association of
Zimbabwe, have not resulted in improved deliveries.
This has been
exacerbated by a huge subsidy which is meant to keep the price of the
commodity down. This has resulted in government's deadman's grip in the
procurement, marketing and distribution of fuel.
strategic importance of fuel, control is important but it can be
self-defeating if management is left to incompetent individuals and arms of
government. In times of plenty, government has not been able to build
reserves. In lean times distribution is not managed and truckloads are being
offloaded onto the black market.
Zimbabwe currently has the cheapest fuel
in the region but that is not anything to cheer about as long as the
commodity is not available. Central bank governor Gideon Gono in his
monetary policy statement last week said local manufacturers should be
competitive because of the subsidised fuel. As things stand, he could not be
further from the truth because manufacturers are buying fuel on the black
market to stay open for business.
A country that is supposed to be in
recovery mode is running on empty. Workers who are supposed to have their
shoulders to the wheel can't get to work on time because there is no fuel.
Distribution of goods and services has been compromised. There is no diesel
for winter cropping. Mines and the manufacturing sector which rely on huge
amounts of diesel for production have scaled down operations.
an embarrassing situation for President Mugabe who preached recovery and
prosperity with gusto before the March general election. Can he still sing
the same refrain today? The economy is not showing any signs of recovery, as
you promised in your address to the nation last December, Mr
There can't be economic revival when there is no proper
energy plan and when knee-jerk measures are put in motion to traumatise
workers who have no transport to take them home after a torrid day at work.
There are no plans for alternative accommodation for the hundreds whose
backyard shacks government wants to destroy.
The shacks are constant
reminders of government's failure to provide decent accommodation for the
poor. Removing the shacks and breaking down stalls may bring order in the
cities but it will only heighten discontent among urban dwellers. Government
is playing a dangerous game in the towns and cities where Zanu PF has failed
to win support in four crucial polls over the past five years.
is an element of wickedness in the way government has carried out this
blitz. There is a plan here to punish those who voted for the opposition in
the past election. But what will this achieve apart from a disaffected
TO an ever-increasing extent, all sectors of Zimbabwean society
are experiencing pronounced shortages, or total non-availability of a
greater number of products, commodities or services. The resultant losses
for commerce and industry, agriculture and mining are immense, while the
discomforts for the populace are intensifying.
complaints provoked by those shortages become vociferous, the government
unhesitatingly seeks to deny any culpability for the creation of scarcities.
Instead, as has been its wont for many years, whensoever it fears being the
recipient of criticism and blame, it attributes the causes of the complaint
Thus, when there are shortages of sugar, cooking oil, maize
meal and other staple foodstuffs, the government unhesitatingly accuses the
sugar refiners, oil producers and millers of deliberately withholding
supplies from the market. Allegedly, the motivation for so doing is to fuel
the development of black market demand for the commodities, for no purpose
other than to achieve higher prices and, thereby, increased
In like manner, when there are scarcities of petrol and diesel,
the government has frequently accused the independent fuel importers of
diverting foreign currency allocated to them to externalisation of funds
unlawfully, or of hoarding imported supplies so as to create shortages in
order to alienate support of any of the populace for the ruling party, or
for other machiavellian purposes against the national interest.
the government has no qualms at blaming the monumental scarcity of foreign
exchange, which in turn occasions massive shortages of innumerable imported
products, upon the private sector in general, and upon the operators in
commerce, industry and tourism in particular.
Inevitably some are guilty
of withholding much-needed foreign exchange by unlawfully externalising that
critical resource, either resorting to transfer-pricing on exports or
imports, or by smuggling foreign exchange across borders, or by hiding that
foreign exchange in their safes, cupboards, mattresses or
However, more often than not, the devastating shortages are
directly the result of the government's acts of commission or omission. One
of the recurrent actions of the government which is a major catalyst of
shortages is its endeavours to prevent rising prices.
Although it is
extremely commendable that the government wishes to contain inflation, its
methodologies of doing so are counterproductive. When it applies price
controls with heavy-handed, ill-considered legislation, or it applies
intensive, authoritarian pressures upon producers, wholesalers and
retailers, it does so because of a genuine, but usually ill-informed, belief
that price increases are driven only by the avarice of the producers and
Usually that is not the case, for the producers and
marketers know full-well that if they overprice their goods, competitors
will under-cut their prices in order to capture the
Stimulation of competition is the most effective way of minimising
price increases, but the government has repeatedly evidenced an inability to
accept such a concept, for it is so greatly imbued with a conviction of
omnipotence that it believes that dictatorship methodologies are the only
effective economic tools. It is ardently convinced that regulation is more
effective than motivation, that conviction being substantially founded upon
total distrust of any other than those as constitute the
In an environment where inflation is intense producers are
faced with no alternatives other than to increase prices so as to compensate
for ongoing cost escalations, or to discontinue production. With the sole
motivation of remaining economically viable, and thereby to avoid insolvency
or liquidation, those engaged in the production and in the marketing of
goods, must move prices upwards, at least commensurately with
Moreover, they are often adversely impacted upon not only by
inflation, but also by soaring unit cost as a result of unavoidable
decreases in production volumes, due to erratic availability of foreign
exchange to fund imported manufacturing inputs, or due to shrinking market
demand. Fixed costs, such as rents, salaries, finance and the like have to
be recovered from much reduced production and sale volumes, thereby sharply
increasing costs per unit, and therefore necessitating price
When the government prevents those necessary price increases,
through regulatory measures or other pressures, the producers have to hold
back their goods until they are permitted the increases, failing which they
face unsustainable losses, and hence shortages develop. And obtaining the
government's consent to price increases is always untenably delayed, for on
such issues the government only works at one of three speeds: slow, very
slow and stop, and very often then consents to prices lower than have been
sought and as are necessary.
If the government would abandon its
dogmatic philosophies of controls and price regulation, and would allow
prices to be driven by market forces and competition, many shortages would
disappear. That would also counter black market trading, which is usually at
prices very much higher than those which the government refuses to consent
to, or is tardy in giving requisite consent.
The fuel scarcities are
partially occasioned by inadequate availability of foreign currency but, to
a much greater extent, brought about by the government's obdurate resistance
to greatly required price increases. Not only has the international price of
crude oil risen by 80-100% over the last 12 months but, in addition,
exchange rate movements have significantly increased the transportation
costs of bringing fuel to Zimbabwe, and the fuel distributors' operating
costs have risen very markedly as a result of inflation.
factors are ignored by the government, for its awareness that increases in
fuel prices inevitably force increases in prices of almost all goods and
services and its desperation to contain inflation override other economic
needs, and results in the government refusing fuel prices escalation to
necessary levels, as a result of which the fuel importers and distributors
cannot afford to import and distribute fuel, save if substantial losses are
IN the many accounts of the current police blitz against vendors,
one detail has been lost. The flower-sellers in Harare's Africa Unity Square
were last Saturday targeted for particularly brutal treatment.
flowers were mutilated and their preparation boards demolished. This was all
part of "Operation Restore Order".
There have been flower vendors in the
square for over 50 years. They have featured on the covers of countless
travel brochures. They added colour and life to the capital.
admittedly much crime and grime that needs to be addressed in the inner
city. But the flower sellers in Africa Unity Square were not part of the
problem. The authorities should learn to distinguish the good from the bad -
the socially useful from the purely criminal.
By its heavy-handed
crackdown the state has made many enemies where they didn't previously
exist. Is Harare being punished for refusing to entertain President Mugabe's
electoral pretensions? It certainly looks like it. But what a lesson in how
not to win friends and influence people!
Only a few months ago at Witness
Mangwende's funeral, Mugabe was expressing exasperation with the citizens of
the capital asking them what Zanu PF had done to warrant their conversion to
He seemed to have forgotten his spiteful remarks about
"totemless" people. Will he now expect us to also forget the current
heartless and brutal assault on residents trying to make an honest
Small and Medium Enterprises Development minister Sithembiso
Nyoni says the destruction of flea markets around Harare is designed to
clean out criminal activities in the informal sector.
This comes from
an unelected MP with no public mandate. Has it occurred to her that the
burgeoning informal sector is a reflection of government's failure to
nourish and sustain a viable formal sector?
We gather that this
intellectually-challenged minister will soon be the occupant of a Senate
seat - indeed that a whole constitutional amendment will be passed to enable
individuals like Nyoni, whom Mugabe assured the electorate as recently as
March would not be made ministers, to remain aboard his gravy
Anyway, amidst the current crackdown, we did enjoy the Herald's
heading last Friday: "Over five thousand more people arrested".
that a fitting testimony to the police state Zanu PF has built, cheered on
by its malevolent press? It was 9 725 by Tuesday.
As usual, state media
told us police would "leave no stone unturned" to restore Harare's
long-vanished "sunshine city status".
Many flea markets have been shut
down and illegal vendors arrested, with police spokesperson Oliver Mandipaka
saying "those affected might not be happy . but we (police) have a
constitutional obligation to maintain law and order in any part of this
Zimbabweans must be relieved at this sudden realisation by the
police that they have a duty to maintain law and order.
When did this
epiphany occur? Surely we are not being told that it was only this week that
the police knew street vending was illegal. And when was it finally
officially acknowledged that there was a breakdown of law and order that now
has to be "restored"?
"We will continue monitoring all the movements
until there is order and sanity in the streets," a police spokesman was
quoted as saying. Referring to homeless people detained, he said these were
the same people who made the streets unsafe.
"These are the very same
people who commit crimes and we will deal with them in accordance with the
law. They must go where they belong. No one in Zimbabwe comes from nowhere.
Everybody belongs somewhere."
Do we detect a Verwoerdian echo here? That
the inhabitants of Zimbabwe's cities don't really belong here and should be
returned to their "homelands"!
The weird Chinondidyachii Mararike is back
at the Herald. He hasn't changed or improved. This week his fevered mind
dwelt inordinately on the virtues of Aippa and Posa. And what were those
virtues, one might wonder? That there is no country that does not regulate
its media, was Mararike's facile response. Alternatively, he said, anything
opposed by the West must be good for Africans.
"The louder and more
virulent the opposition, the more beneficial to Africans is the thing they
oppose," he said. A case in point was the West's opposition to President
Mugabe and the land reform, Mararike said, from which he made an equally
bizarre deduction: "Surely there must be something good for Zimbabwe in
Aippa and Posa to make Western governments and the independent media want
them repealed ..."
Is that the best he can do?
article claiming the West was "bitter over the success of our land reform
programme" appeared on the same day the Herald reported the state was
importing 150 000 tonnes of maize because the country can no longer feed
itself. This time the usual suspect was drought.
Mararike didn't tell us
where he was writing from. The last time we looked it was the UK. We hope he
has now relocated to Zimbabwe because we would hate to think this was
another Zanu PF firebrand enjoying all the comforts of Britain while
declining to live under Zanu PF's "successes"! But looking at what has since
become of Bright Matonga, we would say it sometimes pays to do these hatchet
jobs for the party.
The Herald, meanwhile, seems to think that handing
out 99-year leases to new farmers will "put to rest speculation by
detractors that the land reform programme would one day be
The Herald can dream. Does it really think 99-year leases
cannot be reversed? That the award or revocation of a lease will not be at
the discretion of the Lands minister?
That is why we have always
argued it is inappropriate for judges to accept land leases when they are
subject to ministerial indulgence.
Zanu PF supporters should not delude
themselves that they are safe with their ill-gotten gains. Ask Zanu PF's
Communist allies in eastern Europe what happened to their
Muckraker was appalled to read in the Daily Mirror last week
that there were only 49 people aboard Air Zimbabwe's inaugural flight to
Dubai last week and one solitary passenger on the return leg.
the turnaround the airline promised?
The Zimbabwe Independent recently
tried to confirm the dates of other AirZim inaugural flights but was told
that information could not be given out. Most airline officials did not
return our phone calls.
What other airline in the world advertises its
schedules in the press and then refuses to say what days it will be flying
until the last minute?
Munyaradzi Huni must be congratulated on the number of
conspiracy stories he manages to churn out weekly in the Sunday Mail. It is
not an idle mind that gets to the bottom of these intricate, if somewhat
fanciful, stories about plots against Zimbabwe.
The latest, coming
ahead of WFP boss James Morris's visit to Harare, is about allegedly
contaminated corn soya blend that has been fed to Zimbabweans. The symptoms
apparently are reduced intelligence, impaired memory, weakness, and the
paralysis of wrists.
Muckraker's advice to Munyaradzi: Lay off the corn
soya for a while until the symptoms go.
On the subject of Morris's
visit we liked the statement by George Charamba that President Mugabe had
made it clear to Kofi Annan that Zimbabwe welcomed UN assistance "but
without political conditions".
So Morris won't be able to ask for
assurances that food aid will be handled with transparency and in a
non-partisan way? That he will just hand it over and tell the Zimbabwean
authorities they can make what use of it they like?
Zimbabwe may have an
unaccountable government but we are sure the UN has to account to its
primary donors for the way it distributes aid!
Finally, the Independent
came under fire last week from the CZ columnist in the Financial Gazette who
took exception to us providing space for Jonathan Moyo to express his
This followed an interview two weeks ago in which Moyo described
his exit from government and castigated his former employers as "primitive".
We should not be giving him the "oxygen of publicity" or "a shoulder to weep
on", the Fingaz columnist admonished this paper, ascribing all sorts of
improper motives to us - including tribalism!
It's amazing isn't it
how quickly our supposedly progressive press becomes the national censor of
views expressed by individuals to whom it takes political
Unlike CZ or anybody else at the Fingaz, the author of the
interview in question and his editor and news editor were imprisoned -
albeit temporarily - on the orders of Minister Moyo. So they probably
appreciate better than most just how vindictive the man's record in office
was. But is he therefore to be banned from expressing his highly revealing
views on the nature of the regime he served? Is that what journalism is
about - revenge?
Judgement should be confined to the opinion columns.
There is a very simple professional test here: Does what Moyo has to say
constitute news? If so, it deserves to be published. Here is a distinguished
academic who has specialised in electoral politics, a notable literary
turncoat, an overweeningly powerful and abrasive minister whose word was for
four turbulent years the nation's command, and now a prominent member of
parliament who thwarted the president's will in a key seat and has
reinvented himself as a leading critic of the regime.
It would be
difficult to find a more controversial and newsworthy subject. And the
Fingaz can't understand why we may want to interview him!
C'mon guys. It
makes a change from Gideon Gono's turnarounds.