HARARE - The Zimbabwe government's Media and Information Commission
yesterday placed more hurdles for the banned Daily News newspaper, demanding
details of the papers' shareholders and financial statements before it could
consider an application by the paper for a publishing licence.
In a meeting yesterday that lasted four hours, the MIC even demanded the
Associated Newspapers of Zimbabwe (ANZ), the publishing company for the
Daily News, to furnish it with details of the target market for the paper
that was Zimbabwe's most popular and largest circulating daily and had been
publishing for five years before its forced closure two years
But ANZ chief executive officer, Sam Sipepa Nkomo, appeared
confident last night that his company will surmount the obstacles to haul
the Daily News and its sister publication, the Daily News on Sunday, back on
"The meeting was good but they have asked us to
submit information about the ANZ shareholders' details, bank statements and
financial statements," Nkomo said, adding, "they also wanted to have
information of the targeted market for the two publications, but we will
start working on submission of those demands as soon as
Overturning the MIC's decision two years
ago to refuse to grant the Daily News and Daily News on Sunday permission to
publish, the Supreme Court in March this year ordered the state press
watchdog to review the decision by no later than May 14.
ANZ submitted an application for a licence to publish its two titles almost
immediately after the court ruling. The meeting yesterday to discuss the
application had been initially scheduled for last Friday but was postponed
by the MIC saying its commissioners were out of town attending the Zimbabwe
International Trade Fair in the city of Bulawayo.
police forcibly shut down the two papers in September 2003 and seized their
equipment after a Supreme Court ruling that they were operating outside the
law because they were not registered with the MIC.
government's draconian Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act,
newspapers and journalists must register with the MIC. Reporters can be
jailed for up to two years for practising without being registered while
newspapers will be shut down and their equipment seized for operating
Four newspapers including the two ANZ titles
were shut down in the last two years for breaching clauses of the Press Act
while more than a hundred journalists were arrested under the tough
Analysts said with the government comfortable in power after a
controversial but landslide win during the March 31 parliamentary election,
it was most certain to allow the Daily News back more as part of an attempt
to hoodwink the international community that it upholds a free and
independent Press. - ZimOnline
UN agency says unable to immediately feed starving
Zimbabweans Fri 6 May 2005 HARARE - The World Food Programme (WFP) is
unable to immediately supply hundreds of thousands of tonnes of maize to
feed four million starving Zimbabweans because nothing had been reserved for
the country after Harare said last year it had enough food.
paltry 18 000 tonnes of maize - far short of the 1.2 million tonnes of the
staple grain required to avert starvation - was this year allocated to
Zimbabwe from the WFP's unallocated emergency window, a food reserve
facility into which the aid agency taps in to meet additional and emergency
requirements such as is the case with Zimbabwe.
According to a
WFP document entitled, "Protracted Relief and Recovery Operation - Southern
Africa Regional PRRO 10310.0" which was shown to ZimOnline yesterday, the
WFP's emergency food facility holds 100 000 tonnes of maize. But Zimbabwe
must share the reserve food facility with five other southern Africa
countries facing food shortages.
The document reads in part: "As a
contingency, an unallocated emergency window (UEW) OF 100 000 metric tonnes
was built into the regional programme to allow flexibility in responding to
additional needs such as those from Zimbabwe.
indication from Government that they would welcome continued support for
specific targeted interventions, regional director approved an urgent
allocation of 18 498 metric tonnes from the UEW to cover Zimbabwe
"It is not practicable to make further allocations
from the UEW at this time in view of the relatively large volume of food
required. This would leave only a small balance for the other five
The WFP, which has been at the forefront of fighting
hunger in Zimbabwe for the last five years, can raise more food aid for the
country but such an effort would require approval by the UN organ's board at
its meeting in November this year.
"Should WFP respond through
the PRRO modality, it is expected that the food costs would be of such
magnitude as to require approval by the Executive Board, probably at its
November 2005 SESSION," the document reads.
President Robert Mugabe
told the WFP and other international donors to take their help elsewhere
because Zimbabwe had enough food.
A food and hunger vulnerability
study that was being carried out jointly by the WFP and the government was
called off last year because there was no need for such a survey after
Mugabe and his Agriculture Minister, Joseph Made, said Zimbabwe was going to
reap 2.4 million tonnes of maize from the 2003/2004 season. The country
consumes 1.8 million tonnes of maize annually.
But the UN and
several food aid organisations warned that Mugabe and Made's claims of a
bumper harvest were exaggerated and said that it would be difficult to mount
a large scale food relief operation at short notice should the government
realise it was wrong about the food situation.
Mugabe has since
last month admitted that Zimbabwe is facing serious food shortages but he
said he was not going to go begging for aid because his cash-strapped
government had enough resources to ensure no one starved.
opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party last week called on
Mugabe and his government to swallow their pride and appeal for food aid to
stave off hunger. - ZimOnline
War veterans leader threatens transport operators Fri 6 May
2005 HARARE - Joseph Chinotimba, a war veteran who led the infamous farm
invasions in Zimbabwe five years ago, yesterday took to the streets again to
protest the arbitrary increase of fares by commuter omnibus operators in
Bolstered by a band of boisterous ruling ZANU PF party
youths, accused by human rights groups of unleashing terror on opposition
supporters, Chinotimba accused transport operators in the city centre of
"milking the people" by charging exorbitant fares which were not gazetted by
"You people (commuter operators) are killing
the economy. You are working against the government by charging these fares.
ZANU PF (the ruling party) will not allow you to cheat commuters. This has
to stop otherwise we will be forced to take the law into our own hands,"
Chinotimba led the violent farm invasions that
took place in 2000 when veterans of Zimbabwe's 1970s liberation war, with
tacit approval from President Robert Mugabe, seized large white-owned
commercial farms in what the 81-year old Zimbabwean leader said was a
correction of a historical injustice.
The farm seizures
disrupted Zimbabwe's vibrant agricultural sector, plunging the economy into
chaos. Since then, Zimbabwe has virtually survived on food handouts from the
Earlier this week, transport operators in
Harare hiked fares from Z$2 000 a trip to about $5 000 on most urban routes.
They said the increase was due to the high cost of fuel which they have to
source on the black market where a five-litre gallon of fuel is going for
between Z$75 000 and $90 000.
Most garages in Harare ran out of
fuel last week as the five-year old fuel crisis took a turn for the worst. -
Ramaphosa calls for intervention in Zimbabwe Fri 6 May
2005 JOHANNESBURG - A top South African businessman and ruling African
National Congress national executive committee member Cyril Ramaphosa has
called for intervention to resolve the crisis in Zimbabwe.
Addressing an African investment conference in Johannesburg on Wednesday,
Ramaphosa said Zimbabwe's economy which is in its fifth year of recession,
was "under so much stress it needs some kind of intervention."
did not explain what the "intervention" would entail.
and conflict within one African country has a destabilising impact on its
neighbours and an unsettling effect on potential investors," said
Zimbabwe's economy has been in free-fall since 1999 when
the International Monetary Fund (IMF) cut balance-of-payments support to
Harare in protest over President Robert Mugabe's appalling human rights
record and seizure of white-owned farms.
The openly critical
remarks by Ramaphosa were a sharp break with South Africa government's much
criticised policy of "quiet diplomacy" towards Zimbabwe. President Thabo
Mbeki and senior ANC leaders have refused to openly criticise Mugabe's style
of governance, preferring to engage the 81-year old Zimbabwean leader behind
But the main opposition Movement for Democratic Change
party, which wants a much more robust approach in tackling the Zimbabwe
question, accuses Mbeki of propping up Mugabe.
Two weeks ago,
South Africa's Reserve Bank also warned that a prolonged economic meltdown
in Zimbabwe could have wider economic implications for the region. -
National AIDS Council criticises government's response to
pandemic Fri 6 May 2005 JOHANNESBURG - Zimbabwe's National AIDS Council
(NAC), set up by the government to deal with the HIV/AIDS pandemic, has
criticised the state's handling of the disease which is claiming over 2 500
lives every week.
In a report compiled after the National AIDS
Conference held last year, but released to the media this week, the NAC said
the government's response to the crisis was "woefully inadequate and
The report said only 6 500 people had benefited
from the free anti-retroviral drugs programme, way below the government's
target of three million people by end of year.
improve availability and access to Anti-Retroviral Drugs (ARVs) by availing
foreign currency to facilitate local manufacture and the removal of import
duty on raw materials for ARV manufacture," reads part of the
The report said programmes to fight the disease were
seriously under-funded. It said the government-run anti-retroviral drugs
scheme had only covered 6 500 people with plans to roll out the
anti-retrovirals to more centres facing collapse due to erratic drug
Food shortages plus a crumbling public health sector
after years of under-funding and mismanagement have only helped exacerbate
the HIV/AIDS crisis in Zimbabwe.
But anti-AIDS activists hope
for an improvement in funding of programmes to fight the epidemic after the
the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, this year reversed
a decision to withhold funding to Zimbabwe. -ZimOnline
Trade unionist raps MDC's election strategy Fri 6 May
2005 BULAWAYO - Trade unionist and former student leader Raymond Majongwe
on Wednesday criticised Zimbabwe's main opposition Movement for Democratic
Change (MDC) party for placing too much faith in the country's electoral
process to deliver change.
Majongwe was speaking at a meeting
organised by a Bulawayo-based pressure group, Bulawayo Agenda, to review
March's controversial election won by the ruling ZANU PF party.
"The MDC should be reborn. If people at the top are not going to accept that
they have messed up, then there will be no change. The party needs
vigilantes, people without a conscience to match those in ZANU PF to bring
about change in this country," said Majongwe.
The former university
student leader was highly critical of the MDC's strategy during the election
saying they placed too much trust in the electoral process to deliver
change. ZANU PF won 78 of the 120 contested seats in a poll which was marred
by allegations of massive rigging by the ruling party.
Majongwe, who is also the Progressive Teachers' Union of Zimbabwe secretary
general, said the opposition party should have realised a long time ago that
ZANU PF would fight to retain power at all costs. What Zimbabwe needed, he
said, was a party which matched ZANU PF's strategies and explored "other
options." He did not clarify what these other options were.
national spokesman, Paul Themba Nyathi who was part of the panelists,
maintained that the opposition party would retain its integrity and faith in
the electoral process, however flawed.
"The MDC will not be led by
men and women without a conscience. And just because ZANU PF has reduced the
elections to a game does not take away the importance of elections," said
ZANU PF Bulawayo province's acting spokesperson, Effort
Nkomo put up a brave face as he came under a barrage of attacks from the
audience that wanted him to explain among other issues the worsening fuel
and food shortages.
The Mugabe-appointed Zimbabwe Electoral
Commission, which was ran the March poll failed to dispel charges that it
rigged the election in ZANU PF's favour. - ZimOnline
Knives out for Gono Dumisani Muleya KNIVES are out
for Reserve Bank governor Gideon Gono currently under intense pressure to
quit after becoming entangled in the ruling Zanu PF's power
Official sources said Gono, who has almost buckled under
political and work-related pressure to leave his job although he has denied
the reports, is exasperated by government's failure to back his monetary
policies with anything other than rhetoric.
Zanu PF hawks opposed
to his policies such as currency devaluation and economic re-engagement with
the West, are baying for his blood.
"He has been frustrated by
factional politics and economic policies that he does not influence," a
source said. "He has no free hand to do what he thinks works to ensure
economic recovery. He is still looking West, while President Mugabe is
The sources say Gono is disappointed by lack of
political support for his initiatives. They said Gono and his team boycotted
the just-ended Zimbabwe International Trade Fair in Bulawayo as the row
reached fever pitch last week.
Gono has been roped into Zanu PF's
factional dogfights. He has been linked to a camp widely seen as led by
Rural Housing minister Emmerson Mnangagwa. It is understood he had a stormy
meeting with Vice-President Joice Mujuru last week over monetary policy and
Gono, observers say, is isolated after government
dumped his recovery programme after the election. At the height of the
election campaign Zanu PF bigwigs rallied behind Gono's "turnaround" mantra
but have since offered no practical support for his
"With shortages all-round and no real evidence of
recovery, Zanu PF is slowly pulling away from Gono," a senior Zanu PF
official said. "Those in the party who have always opposed his thrust and
overbearing behaviour have taken the initiative to start to undercut his
ascendancy," the official said.
Sources said Gono has been
anxious to secure reassurance from President Robert Mugabe on his security
of tenure against this fraught background.
It is said Gono is under
severe attack from Zanu PF and government hardliners who accuse him of
leaning towards the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank -
Western institutions - at a time when the country is supposedly facing
Harare has been given a second six-month grace period by
IMF to put its house in order.
Mugabe has never hidden
his hostility for the IMF, which had been expected in the country this week
to assess the economic situation and discuss Zimbabwe's debt
However, Gono, who visited the IMF in Washington last
June, has been desperate to repair damaged relations with the West and
access balance-of-payments funding - seen as crucial to the country's
These and other actions are viewed by Mugabe as off-mission,
although the two have not clashed openly.
Gono has also been
blocked on several occasions by Mugabe's adherents from devaluing Zimbabwe's
battered currency in the face of a widening gap between the official and the
black market exchange rates. Former Finance minister Simba Makoni was in
2003 ejected from cabinet over devaluation.
"Devaluation is one of the
policy issues in which he is frustrated," a government source said. "Gono
would ideally like to consult as widely as possible but on this issue he has
been restricted by government rigidity.
"He wants to relax the exchange
rate to close the gap but cabinet has not given him the go-ahead to do so.
He can't devalue on his own because devaluation is a policy
Despite a clear fundamental disequilibrium - a serious
imbalance in the balance-of-payments which justifies devaluation - Gono has
been blocked from adopting the economically rational policy
He has also been frustrated over the burgeoning budget
deficit, subsidies to farmers, handouts to ex-detainees and a bloated
"His monetary policy went up in smoke on March 31," one
economist said this week.
South African 'master spy' named Staff Writer THE
South African Secret Service (SASS) officer being held in Zimbabwe in
connection with the ongoing spy saga has been identified as Aubrey
Zimbabwean and South African authorities have consistently
refused to name the alleged agent - described by the director of public
prosecutions Joseph Musakwa as a state witness and by the media as a "master
spy" - supposedly for security reasons.
But intelligence sources
this week identified the SASS officer in question as Welken and said he had
been on the "Zimbabwe beat" for some time.
SASS is responsible for
non-military foreign intelligence. It has counter-intelligence and internal
security branches that gather, correlate, and analyse foreign
Welken was arrested by the Central Intelligence
Organisation (CIO) in
December last year in a sting operation and has
been in detention since. His arrest was said to have led to the detention of
five alleged Zimbabwean spies.
These include Zimbabwe's
ambassador-designate to Mozambique Godfrey Dzvairo, Zanu PF foreign affairs
director Itai Marchi, former Metropolitan Bank company secretary Tendai
Edgar Matambanadzo, Zanu PF deputy security chief Kenny Karidza, and former
Zanu PF MP Phillip Chiyangwa, who has now been
Intelligence sources said a senior CIO officer named as
Miya Meki - who is related to former Intelligence minister Emmerson
Mnangagwa - was also arrested at the same time. He has appeared in court in
camera facing separate charges and is out on bail.
said Meki was accused of failing to report to his bosses a secret meeting he
held with a South African undercover agent who botched a plot to recruit
A Switzerland-based Zimbabwean diplomat, Erasmus Moyo, was said
to have escaped arrest by disappearing at Geneva airport last
There were allegations that cabinet ministers were involved in
the case. Former State Security minister Nicholas Goche has denied reports
linking him to the case.
Dzvairo, Marchi, Matambanadzo, Karidza,
and Chiyangwa were charged with violating the Official Secrets Act and faced
20 years in jail.
Dzvairo, Zimbabwe's former consul-general to South
Africa, was sentenced to six years, while Matambanadzo and Marchi were
jailed for five years each.
Chiyangwa was recently released by the
High Court but the state said it has not dropped the
Karidza is still on trial and Welken is the chief witness
against him. However, Karidza is objecting to that and a trial within a
trial on the admissibility of statements he allegedly made to CIO
investigators is now taking place in camera.
Musakwa has said the
espionage case could not proceed due to the trial within a trial. He also
claimed last week Welken was not a prisoner but a key
Although the South African government has been making
frantic efforts to gain access to Welken to secure his release, it is
understood Zimbabwe has been unwilling to cooperate. However, sources say
Welken's wife and son flew to Zimbabwe last Tuesday and managed to see him.
Govt begs commercial farmers to return Augustine
Mukaro GOVERNMENT has intensified its bid to bring back "specialised"
commercial farmers in an effort to resuscitate the agricultural
The Zimbabwe Independent can reveal that government officials
have been privately approaching white commercial farmers who before their
violent evictions specialised in horticulture, dairy farming, conservancies
and seed maize production.
Government is also understood to be
making overtures to bring back wheat,
tobacco and barley
Two weeks ago the officials approached the former owners of
Kondozi farm to persuade them to return to the giant export-earning
Former Kondozi Fresh Produce majority shareholder,
Edwin Moyo, confirmed that "emissaries" had approached him regarding
Kondozi. "There have been unofficial approaches from people who said they
were from government," said Moyo.
Sources said Agricultural and
Rural Development Authority (Arda) which took over Kondozi last year, wanted
Moyo to assist in the export of produce from the farm.
violently took over Kondozi last year. It has however been unable to export
any produce from the farm because international buyers do not recognise
them. Kondozi used to export horticultural products to Britain, Holland and
other regional countries.
Hundreds of white farmers chased from
Zimbabwe have settled in Zambia, Malawi, Mozambique, Tanzania, with some
going as far as Nigeria, Australia and New Zealand.
the agriculture sector confirmed government overtures had been extended to
farmers evicted during the haphazard fast-track land reform.
groups targeted for reinstatement include dairy farmers, conservancy owners
and horticultural producers.
Sources privy to the negotiations said
the Commercial Farmers Union (CFU) in conjunction with the newly established
National Land Board, were working to bring the farmers back.
are encouraging farmers willing to come back to co-exist with settlers as
government has put in place systems to correct the current standoff," a
member of the consulting team said.
The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe
has already released $150 billion from the Productive Sector Facility to
recapitalise milk production whose supplies have been erratic since last
The Land Board, chaired by former Arda boss Liberty Mhlanga,
also comprises former Zimbabwe Farmers Union second vice-president, Abdul
Nyathi, director of the Department of Natural Resources, Mutsa Chasi,
permanent secretary in the Agriculture ministry, a Mrs Tsvakwi, one Joshua
Nyoni and three others whose names were not available at the time of going
Information from the National Association of Dairy Farmers
(NADF) shows that since the inception of the land reform programme almost
half of milk producers have been forced to close shop, drastically reducing
milk on the market.
"In July 2000, about 315 large-scale milk
producers were registered with NADF. The number currently stands at around
160 producers," NADF said. The same year, approximately 3 000 small-scale
producers were registered with only 600 now actively producing milk at any
one time. The dairy development programme has announced the launch of
another 10 smallholder projects in Matabeleland and
Sources said government was also targeting conservancy and
horticultural producers because the collapse of the two sectors negatively
affected forex inflows to the country.
Conservancies had become
very popular with tourists and hunters thereby bringing in the much-needed
forex while fresh produce and flowers sold on the European markets eased the
demand for hard currency in the country.
Zimbabwe Conservation Taskforce
chairman John Rodrigues said prior to the fast-track land reform programme
there were 88 conservancy farmers while currently an estimated 12 remain
l Meanwhile, government has launched a fresh wave of
evictions on resettled farmers as the chaos that characterised the land
This week violence erupted at Gensey Farm in Goromonzi,
Mashonaland East, when resettled farmers attacked the deputy sheriff and his
team when they tried to evict them. The eviction was to make room for
Kennedy Mangenje, a senior Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe official who was
allocated the farm under the A2 model.
The eviction would
displace more than 40 families who have been occupying the farm since the
2002. The settlers ran amok beating up the deputy sheriff, stoning his two
lorries and forcing his team to flee.
Eyewitnesses said he was
assaulted in the presence of officers from Goromonzi police station.
Mangenje's team also had their vehicles damaged during the attack by the
Contacted for comment, Mangenje said the situation
had turned political.
"Senior politicians are involved but the farm is
mine," said Mangenje. It is understood that Finance minister Hebert Murerwa
once intervened on the side of the settlers when the trouble started late
last year. A senior Zanu PF lady in the provincial structure has a plot on
Huge wheat shortfall forecast Augustine
Mukaro ANOTHER serious wheat shortfall is looming this year as the area
prepared for the winter wheat crop over the past four years continues to
In the current season, only an estimated 45% of between 65 000
and 85 000 hectares that are normally put under irrigated winter wheat is
likely to be planted due to a shortage of seed, fertilisers and low levels
of water for irrigation.
Information to hand shows that the
remaining white commercial farmers across the country are likely to plant
around 15 000 hectares while the other 25 000 hectares will be taken up by
Commercial Farmers Union (CFU) crops section
spokesman George Hutchison said farmers would be forced to further reduce
winter wheat hectarage this year because of the shortage of water for
"Over and above the unavailability of inputs, there is
very little water to irrigate the crop this year," Hutchison said, adding
that "most farm dams have no water to irrigate the
Zimbabwe Commercial Farmers Union (ZCFU) past president
Thomas Nherera however said an estimated 50 000 hectares would be put under
"Though farmers are showing the zeal to plant over 80
000 hectares this season, water availability is the limiting factor,"
"Current dam levels cannot support more than 50 000
Zimbabwe has an annual wheat consumption of 400 000 tonnes
excluding 80 000 tonnes of hard wheat required to blend with the local
product. Gristing wheat has always been imported.
experts said wheat production this year was projected to slump to an
all-time low because of lack of funds to finance the crop.
government's agricultural ventures financing arm, was this week issuing
farmers with vouchers to purchase seed, fertiliser and chemicals, amid
revelations that government is still sourcing funds.
irrigation facilities had been vandalised over the past four years of the
chaotic land reform programme.
Under optimum conditions with the use
of irrigation facilities, a maximum of six tonnes of wheat are produced per
It is estimated CFU members have irrigation equipment
covering only 18 000 hectares, down from the 85 000 hectares that could be
irrigated before the inception of the land reform programme.
Zanu PF struggles to pick Masvingo mayoral runner Ray
Matikinye TWO candidates have emerged as front-runners in the race to
represent Zanu PF in the Masvingo mayoral election next month, after a third
withdrew from the race on Tuesday.
Jacob Chademana, the losing
candidate in the last mayoral election four years ago, withdrew from the
race in which the ruling Zanu PF has been battling to come up with a
Over the past few weeks Zanu PF had attempted to
scout for candidates among several businessmen without success in Zimbabwe's
Chademana lost to sitting mayor, Alois Chaimiti who has
been re-nominated by the opposition as their candidate for the
Masvingo Agricultural Show Society chairman and former
ceremonial mayor, Partson Muzvidziwa, alongside little-known retired soldier
Tatuma Mazarire, are the two remaining Zanu PF candidates in the
Muzvidziwa, a pioneer councillor at Independence in 1980, was
elbowed out of office to make way for the late Francis Aphiri at the height
of political divisions that rocked Masvingo province in the early
Alphiri won politburo endorsement for mayoral candidate and
became the first executive mayor although he had been ranked 10 in the list
of candidates submitted to the politburo by the ousted Dzikamayi
Mavhaire-led provincial party executive.
Mazarire's names were this week submitted to the politburo for
To avoid the re-emergence of political divisions, the ruling
party dispensed with holding the traditional pre-poll primaries to choose
the candidate and opted for consensus.
Masvingo province has been
for years riddled with serious intra-party divisions pitting two distinct
factions against each other.
Acting Zanu PF provincial party chairman and
MP for Mwenezi, Isaiah
Shumba, said the party feared that holding
primaries would resuscitate intra-party divisions in the
Originally seven aspirants, including Alois Chidoda, a
former diplomat, Mazarire, and civil servants Tagwirei Mukumba and Joseph
Murapa, had thrown their hats into the ring as aspirants to the mayoral
The list was whittled down to three after an election
directorate meeting in
the town last weekend.
unsuccessful aspirants, Chidoda has made three previous attempts to take the
mayoral seat in Masvingo since he left the diplomatic service.
RBZ swoops on Interfresh Shakeman Mugari/Chris
Goko RESERVE Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) officials this week raided Interfresh
Holdings Ltd amid allegations that the horticultural firm had failed to
account for thousands of dollars in foreign currency, the Zimbabwe
Independent was told.
The irregularities, market sources say,
involving cash receipts, have since claimed the scalp of company chief
executive Evan Christophides, who leaves the ZSE-listed horticultural
company today. It was not immediately clear whether Christophides was pushed
or whether he jumped.
Lishon Chipango, the Interfresh chairman,
confirmed Christophides' departure, but denied the externalisation charge,
saying the RBZ officials were conducting a routine check on the company's
foreign currency compliance.
"Evan (Christophides) has tendered
his resignation and that is all I can confirm," he said yesterday. Chipango
would not give details about Christophides' sudden exit, saying the former
Interfresh boss had opted to "pursue other interests".
Chipango said Christophides would stay on for six months to see out his
"I am aware that they are here (RBZ investigators).
They have visited the company, but it's a routine check," Chipango
Sources say the RBZ investigation team had been scouring
through the company's books for the past two weeks.
officials came here (Interfresh) last week after there were allegations of
foreign currency irregularities," a company source said this
The swoop, sources said, was part of an enforcement-drive by
the RBZ to extract as much forex as possible in the wake of biting shortages
critically affecting essential imports such as fuel and
They said the attacks - on industry and other exporting
parties - would be sustained, as Zimbabwe hopes to extract every dollar
possible for imports.
The central bank has for the past month been
pursuing every outstanding foreign currency remittance issue in a desperate
bid to squeeze forex to buy fuel, food and other
Interfresh is heavily involved in citrus production and
marketing to the local and international markets. It also produces flowers
for the European market.
It has however borne the brunt of
land-reform problems, losing some of its productive land to settlers in the
Mazowe area where it has its main citrus plantations.
Christophides' departure, the company has also undergone several board and
management changes since a consortium linked to former Kingdom Financial
Holdings Ltd (KFHL) executives took over the group.
At some point,
KFHL's immediate past chief executive Lyscias Sibanda headed the Interfresh
board as the consortium sought to galvanise its commanding stake and
Sibanda has since relinquished his post to Chipango, but
is still a non-executive director.
CHRA opposes extension of commissioners'
term Augustine Mukaro PLANS by the commissioners running the City of
Harare to set up business units in the capital are set to hit a brickwall as
the commission's mandate ends on June 9.
The commission, led by
political turn-coat Sekesai Makwavarara, was appointed last December and
should by law leave office after six months.
The Combined Harare
Residents Association (CHRA), the umbrella body for residents associations
in the capital, said the commission has no mandate to unbundle current city
structures into so-called autonomous strategic business
CHRA chairman Mike Davies said the commission should instead
be preparing for elections so that elected councillors could take the city
"The commission should set dates for election," Davies said
adding that, "the term for the commission is coming to an end on June 9 and
there is no way the minister could extend its term. We have a precedent in
the Supreme Court that a commission should be appointed for a single
"If (Local government minister Ignatius) Chombo extends the
commission's term, we will go to court as well as call for a full-scale
rates boycott," he said.
He said turnaround plans should involve
"Zimbabweans are tired of grand plans imposed on them,"
Davis said. "We want an elected council that will engage us on its
turnaround plan. The commission is an illegal entity running council on
political patronage so as residents we cannot support
Fired mayor Engineer Elias Mudzuri, the architect of the
turnaround plan which the commission hijacked, said the unbundling plans
faced doom because the commission had no mandate from the residents.
Politics plunge Zesa into darkness Vincent
Kahiya AT the Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority (Zesa)'s Harare Power
Station there are three shifts of workers manning the plant which was built
to ensure the capital is not affected by power failure at the country's main
generation plants. There are also people working round the clock at smaller
thermal stations at Munyati in the Midlands and in Bulawayo. The three
small coal-powered plants have the potential to produce 375 megawatts (MW)
of power. That is almost 20% of the country's electricity
requirements. But the three power stations are not producing any energy
of significance. In fact, they have become monuments whose tall steaming
chimneys are reminders of a distant past when infrastructure was kept in
functioning order. The power stations have become shells which are a huge
cost to the parastatal and ultimately to the taxpayer. Zimbabwe today is
faced with a power crisis. Zesa has in the past three weeks been forced to
effect load-shedding because of a power deficit. The company last week said
its generators at Kariba and Hwange were down, resulting in the loss of 250
Megawatts and 220 MW respectively. The generators will be out for the next
six weeks during which period the power utility is expected to find foreign
currency to purchase replacement parts and ship them to
Zimbabwe. Zimbabwe has a peak power demand of 2 100 MW while local generation
stands at 1 200 MW, giving a supply imbalance of 900 MW which is imported.
Zesa's total installed capacity is about 2 000 MW. Other than the small
power stations, the country also has two larger power stations; a
hydro-electrical plant in Kariba (666 MW) and a thermal generator in Hwange
(920 MW). The country's power stations have the potential to produce more
than 1 900 MW which is adequate at the current depressed consumption. But
the plants are not functioning at full capacity and the country has to
import to make up for the deficit. Zesa has been forced to import 250 MW of
power from Hydro Cahorra Bassa (HCB) of Mozambique, 150 MW from Eskom of
South Africa and 150 MW from Snel in the Democratic Republic of the Congo
(DRC). But in 2007, Eskom is expected to terminate electricity exports to the
region because the anticipated economic boom in that country should result
in increased demand. Zesa has said it will need to set up new plants or
expand existing ones in anticipation of that gap. The country will need at
an extra 1 200 MW to cope with the demand. The need for new
infrastructure can be lessened if Zesa can optimise the use of existing
facilities. The country, analysts say, will find it difficult to source
funding for new projects when it is failing to repair and maintain existing
plants. There have been plans to expand Kariba power station so that it
produces an extra 300 MW. Zesa entered an ill-fated deal with Malaysia's YTL
in the hope of expanding generation at Hwange by an extra 333 MW but nothing
came of it. There has been talk about developing two new projects at Batoka
HEP plant along the Zambezi River and the Gokwe North thermal power station
next to the vast Sengwa coalfields. The Batoka project, with a potential of
800 MW, was expected to go on stream in 2010 but that will not happen now.
Plans to develop the 1 400 MW Gokwe North plant, in which Zesa was in
partnership with Rio Tinto and government, has also been deferred. The
project, analysts say, is enmeshed in controversy as government is reluctant
to see the private sector constructing and running such a strategic
resource. "The power station should have been built 10 years ago," said
economist John Robertson. "For Gokwe, Rio owns coal deposits at Sengwe.
If it is given the go-ahead, it will finance the cost of the power station,"
he said. "Government fears that Rio will enjoy the profits and externalise
them. If Rio were to externalise the profits it would be less than we are
externalising every month paying Eskom, HCB and Snel," he said. Investors
shied away from the two projects because of the uncertainty in the country
wrought by the land invasions and President Robert Mugabe's quarrel with the
West. The failure of the two huge capital projects to get off the ground
typifies the state of industry in Zimbabwe. There is no new investment of
note coming into the country. The attempt to sell part of Hwange Power
Station to Malaysia's YTL, as part of an earlier "Look East" - or rather
South-South - policy was a disaster. It scared away other potential
investors in the country's power sector. This was the first major show of
the government's lack of foresight in developing the country's power
sources. As analysts forecast five years ago, demand for electricity would
outstrip supply unless new plants were commissioned. Power stations require
huge capital outlay to construct and vast sums of foreign currency to
maintain. Last week Zesa said it required US$2 billion to put its house in
order. That is a huge sum which will not be coming to Zimbabwe soon as long
as there is no balance of payments support. Pledges from Zimbabwe's friends
in the East have come in few and far between. The power sector, like all
major facets of the economy, has been hit by the suspension of financial
assistance from international organisations such as the World Bank and the
International Monetary Fund because of concerns over the erosion of the rule
of law and property rights, as well as the government's fiscal policy. Zesa
is a victim of the country's bad politics. Considering the strategic position
electricity occupies in industry and commerce, the energy deficit that has
been exacerbated by the shortage of petrol and diesel is a major threat to
economic regeneration. Piecemeal measures that have been proffered by the
parastatals and government have not made an impact. Zesa proposed that local
exporters pay for electricity in hard cash, a short-term measure that only
increased overhead costs for an already struggling export sector. With
limited resources to hand, the parastatal has been left to use its own
limited resources or wait for handouts from the fiscus resulting in
inadequate upgrades and network maintenance. The results are manifest in the
broken-down plant and equipment. Also, the company is unable to raise its
tariffs to meet rising operating costs, ostensibly because the government is
keen to protect consumers from further price increases and the rising cost
of living. But Zimbabwe's energy sector is not suffering simply because the
country is broke. The parastatal has been riddled with controversy since its
unbundling. It has gone on a huge rural electrification drive without
developing new power sources. It has sought deals with the Chinese, the
Malaysians and Iranians with very little to show for it. Zesa has become
a political playing field where prudent business decisions have been
superseded by political posturing. No energy minister in the last 15 years
has been able to solve the country's energy crisis. It is bound to get worse
and bring the economy down with it.
got a problem and no one else can help, and if you can find them, maybe you
can hire...the A Team." This was the theme statement for Stephen J Cannell's
action drama, the A Team.
In the early 1980s as gullible youths we were
hooked to this action-packed film. We all admired the leadership and
planning of Col John "Hannibal" Smith, the brawn and strength of Sgt Bosco
Albert "BA" Baracus, the smoothness of Lt Templeton "Faceman" and the comic
relief provided by Capt HM "Howling Mad" Murdock.
They were hired
to carry out all sorts of tasks. They never lost or failed. They would
emerge out of burning houses unscathed, run through flying bullets and
survive helicopter crashes. (Remember Mad Murdock's flying
They were portrayed as invincible beings with almost
messianic powers. As we were growing up, groups of youngsters would organise
themselves into caricatures of the 'A Team' and availed themselves to those
in distress. It created reverence and invincibility in certain individuals
and made many look up to the 'A Teams' for salvation and
It created a class of subservient and emasculated
youngsters who depended on muscular Mr Ts for assistance. The Mr T hairstyle
was at one time a craze among youths. Then the chains and shirts with
sleeves severed off. It was crazy.
But then, this was just
fiction which Jonathan Moyo made sure our children would never get the
opportunity to watch. It is dangerous for youngsters to worship fictitious
characters from movies and the small screen. It is also equally dangerous
for adults to feel so hopeless that they have to elevate another mortal to
the position of a saviour.
I refer here to the fixation with Reserve
Bank governor Gideon Gono as the one-man 'A Team' that is the panacea to all
our problems. Gono has since his appointment 20 months ago preached economic
turnaround and revival. All those responsible for the death of various
sectors of the economy expect Gono to come in and breathe life into their
This week, the commission running the city of Harare was
"blessed" by the intervention of Gono who has offered a lifeline to revive
the city which is decaying by the day.
Gono has asked the
commission to draw up a plan before the city can receive funding from the
central bank. Good luck, as long as the city is led by the likes of Sekesai
Makwavarara. We have seen many turnaround programmes coming out of Town
House including the one drawn up in Kadoma at the weekend.
like to ask how many strategic plans town clerk Nomutsa Chideya has seen
during his eventful stay at Town House and which ones have worked. Gono is
calling for another one, perhaps because he sees no plan in
But funding alone will not be enough to revive the city. For a
city that collects money from ratepayers for refuse collection but fails to
collect bins, there is little hope that the RBZ purse would change this
brazen attitude. Yes, the city needs new funding but its arrogant
administrators are the biggest impediments to any revival. Gono has advised
the city fathers and mothers to enter a partnership with the private sector
in the envisaged programme.
But is the private sector not
constituted by Hararians whose bins are not collected, who do not have water
for as long as a week and who receive shocking bills every month? Are these
not the same people who chose an MDC mayor because they had seen the city
degenerate under Zanu PF mayors and commissioners? They must now work with a
Zanu PF commission because the 'A Team' is on its way. Give me a
Can Gono change the psyche of the current unelected
administrators so that they understand the importance of co-operation with
As things stand there is nothing strategic about business
entering partnerships with unelected commissioners serving the government
instead of ratepayers. The Gono plan should not be designed to force this
marriage because it will not work.
We have seen what has happened
to sectors that have received funding from the central bank. Nothing much
has changed. Remember the billions poured into farming last year. The
RBZ-initiated Vision 160 designed to produce 160 million kg of tobacco a
year has not worked because farmers are poorly equipped to grow the crop.
Parastatals which have been a burden to the fiscus will remain so as long as
they are run like the ineffectual central government.
key sectors of our economy, especially parastatals, have been
strait-jacketed by government so that they can never function independently
and effectively. It is the same with the city of Harare. There is no chance
in heaven for the new plan Gono is calling on Town House to produce if Local
Government minister Ignatious Chombo continues to control commissioners like
puppets on a chain.
Chombo and his ministry are not the 'A Team'.
I can only believe his claim that he intervened to save the city if he can
produce positives which have come out of this interference.
one else can help, and if you can find him, maybe you can hire...Gideon. But
can he lift trash cans and go down a sewer? Mr T could. So much for watching
too much fiction.
GOVERNMENT this week announced what Agriculture minister Joseph
Made described as a "very good" producer price for maize, from $750 000 per
tonne to a whopping $2 248 024 (about 300%) with effect from April 1. The
objective is to increase the hectarage planted to maize and, hopefully,
deliveries to the GMB. While it is commendable that government has
decided to give these early incentives to farmers to raise production, there
is still evidence of poor planning. The difference between a purchase price
of over $2 million and a selling price by the GMB to millers of $600 000 is
likely to impact negatively on government's books. There is also
something curious about a producer price increase of nearly 300% at a time
when inflation is reportedly on the decline and close to 120%. What is the
market supposed to make of a government urging restraint in wage
negotiations and then itself splurging out on farmers whose level of return
has been suspect at the best of times? Are workers expected to ask for less
than their worth simply to meet Reserve Bank governor Gideon Gono's
inflation targets? But that is only by the way. The real problem is on
land itself. Since the redistribution process began in 2000, government has
poured in billions of dollars without a commensurate return in both loan
repayments and productivity. President Mugabe said as much when he recently
complained that productive land was being reduced to "weekend braai
resorts". Newly-appointed Mashonaland East governor and resident minister Ray
Kaukonde last week pledged to tour his province to see what had become of
once productive farms that now could no longer meet the nation's
requirements. He said some resettled farmers used government loans to buy
themselves luxury vehicles and build mansions. Herein lies the biggest
problem with our new farmers, and government is playing right into the hands
of greedy sharks out to make a quick buck. Some of the people who got huge
tracts of land not only lack the skills and interest in farming, they also
have no culture of long-term investment and sacrifice. While the white
farmers who were removed from the land had spent painstaking years borrowing
and investing in infrastructure, from dams to irrigation equipment, the new
guys want everything on a silver platter so they can become instant
millionaires. Government appears to have fallen into the trap that "if you
don't give us huge producer prices we are not going to produce and the
nation will starve and the people turn against you". The blackmail is
working well every year. On the other hand government itself is keen to prove
critics of its land redistribution wrong by showing that there might yet be
a silver lining to this particularly dark cloud. It is forced to feed all
the farmers' whims in the hope that somehow production may magically rise if
it gives them more money. Tragically, what we now have is a government
that has become a victim of its own populist policies and the nation is held
to ransom by a breed of men and women using a freely acquired national
resource to extort wealth from hungry citizens. Made should learn to leave
his office and investigate what is happening on the land and call the bluff
of these lazy land usurpers. At the moment he doesn't appear to be up to the
task and doesn't care. The solution doesn't lie with a wholesale return of
displaced white farmers, but getting on the land people with skills and an
interest in working for long-term gains. Food self-sufficiency will not come
from resettling huge numbers of people, but having on the land people who
are dedicated and prepared to invest their own resources. The culture of
free handouts is dangerous. The more government gives, the more the vultures
on the land demand for doing virtually nothing while the nation is turned
into an international basket case. There is no doubting that with
sufficient inputs - fuel, fertiliser, maize seed, draught power and
irrigation infrastructure - mobilised on time and the right calibre of
people on the land of whatever hue, Zimbabwe can regain its place as the
bread basket of the region in a shorter period than we are likely to take
moving in this haphazard, greed-driven fashion. So what are we saying? The
solution to our food security problem doesn't lie in Made announcing "good"
prices. There is need for timeous resource-provision, but also hands-on
supervision and monitoring of what is going on on the farms and how the
resources allocated to increase production are used. What is the state of
land preparation as we speak and what are the output projections for the
money being doled out to farmers? This week farmers were still complaining
that they could not get seed and fuel for their winter wheat. Is Made really
up to the task? Pledging high prices cannot of itself produce maize. We need
skills, resources and, above all, dedication and diligent planning.
Government simply has to accept this painful reality and get the nation
Command economy is not the
answer AFTER an immensely prolonged period of extolling and enthusing the
alleged tremendous success of Zimbabwe's land reform programme, the
government has finally begun to acknowledge that the agricultural sector is
in a state of great distress. For many decades that sector was the
foundation and mainstay of the economy. It employed more workers than any
other economic sector. It was the principal source of foreign currency
which, for a heavily import-dependent country, is its lifeblood. That
foreign currency was earned from the export of very considerable quantities
of high quality tobacco, of the world's foremost cotton, of maize and other
grains to neighbouring territories, of sugar, citrus and much other produce.
It generated vast amounts of expenditure into the downstream economy,
distributive, financial and services sectors. But all that was in years gone
past. Progressively, as the government pursued its programme of land
acquisition, redistribution and resettlement, and especially so as it
intensified its pursuit of that programme from 2000 onwards, agricultural
productivity declined more and more. Much of the previously very extensive
agricultural infrastructure was destroyed. While some new settlers had
genuine desires to work the lands acquired, to achieve economic empowerment
through agricultural production, and to play a meaningful role in the
advancement of the Zimbabwean economy, greater numbers either sought to "get
rich quick" by demolishing the improvements that former commercial farmers
had effected, at very great cost, or were without either skills or, in the
alternative, resources necessary for productive land usage. Those
desirous of rapid enrichment dismantled fencing, power lines, pumps, sheds,
irrigation systems and much else and sold them in complete disregard for the
negative consequences to the future usage of the lands they had
occupied. And those lacking the skills or resources required looked to
the farmers they had displaced, and to the government, to enable them to
prepare the lands, plant, cultivate and harvest crops. But most of the
displaced farmers had been deprived of the means to assist the new
settlers. Moreover, having been robbed of lands which they had lawfully
acquired, it was unrealistic in the extreme to expect their support. They
had been deprived of their source of livelihood and dispossessed of not only
lands they had legitimately obtained, but also of the improvements they had
effected to those lands, and of their machinery, equipment, irrigation
systems, stores and crops. The justification of the state for these
actions was the allegation that the lands had been stolen from the
indigenous population of yesteryear. This was almost wholly devoid of
substance and credibility for, when the colonial era commenced, the
indigenous population was of a size that most of the lands which are now
Zimbabwe were uncultivated, unutilised, and unoccupied. In such
circumstances, to expect evicted, poverty-stricken former farmers to aid the
new occupants of their lands was unrealistic in the extreme. But, year after
year, the government would not admit the failure of the programme and in
particular, the responsible minister and public servants for agriculture,
and the cabinet, dared not acknowledge that the programme, which they had so
loudly acclaimed, was a disaster. Instead, each year excuses were
imaginatively created to explain away the failure to produce the bountiful
crops that had been foreshadowed, but which had not materialised. So
great were the annual expectations that in 2004 the government grandiosely
informed the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the World Food
Programme (WFP) that Zimbabwe no longer needed food aid, save for Aids
orphans, as it was wholly food sufficient. Projected crops were heralded of
at least 1,8 million tonnes of maize, and 600 000 tonnes of other grains,
being volumes not produced in any of the previous four years. Equally
far-fetched projections were ascribed to other crops, including a forecast
of a tobacco crop of at least 160 million kg (albeit early a third less than
the record 2000 crop of 237 million kg.) By early 2005 the government
admitted, with some embarrassment, that the crop would, for various specious
reasons, be between 120 million kg and 135 million kg. And, furthermore, at
least 60% of the crop is low "filler" quality. In like manner, Zimbabwe is
faced with chronic shortages of milk and other dairy products, necessitating
the imports by Dairibord. Many other agricultural scarcities exist,
including beef. However, being a past master at denying responsibility and
blame, and attributing fault to causes beyond its control, the government
has had no hesitation at ascribing the disasters of the latest agricultural
season to drought. A low quality tobacco crop of half the originally
projected size, a maize crop of about one-third only of the nation's need
and of prior assurances, and similarly great differentials between other
crop forecasts and actual outturn, are now attributed by the government to
drought. It cannot be denied that drought has had some significant effects,
but not to the extent that the government pretends, for substantial crops
could have been produced under irrigation if a sufficiency of seeds had been
planted, irrigated, fertilised, properly tended and brought to a harvestable
state. However, seeds that are not planted cannot grow, importation of
fertilisers after crops are fully grown and the like cannot yield
crops. The government should stop prevaricating and acknowledge facts. It
should vigorously pursue the very commendable and down-to-earth statements
of Vice President Joseph Msika that the government needs white and black
commercial farmers, working side-by-side, cooperating, and although not
specifically stated by him, that must be in an environment of security,
justice, equity and mutual respect. That would be the first and decisive
step towards restoring agriculture to its former glory. But doing so must be
timeously followed by compensating for destroyed infrastructure and
misappropriated equipment, and by equally timeous enablement of importation
of essential inputs as required for the 2005/2006 agricultural season.
MUCKRAKER is eagerly awaiting the results of the Anti-Mugabe
election in Britain which should be available today. Obviously a victory for
Tony Blair will be a huge blow for our leader who has staked his reputation
on defeating the British premier. Many people in the UK, including Michael
Howard, hadn't realised that the Leader of the Opposition was based in
Harare! Unfortunately, owing to certain logistical difficulties, Mugabe
couldn't travel to Britain to campaign himself but his megaphones such as
George Shire were happy to do this for him. If Mugabe is defeated we
trust that Shire and all those funny little Zanu PF fronts in the UK like
Davira Mhere will pack up and return home. We would hate to think of them
bowing to the dictates of the British electorate and having to live under a
third term of Blair and his cronies amidst all that First World comfort.
Obviously the patriotic thing for them to do is return home and live under
an endless-term Mugabe even if it does mean going without fuel, power, food
Those pundits who thought they detected a certain reformist shift
under the new regime at the Information ministry will have noted deputy
Minister Bright Matonga reverting to totalitarian type. He was reported
by the Sunday Mail as speaking "at length" at a press reception in Bulawayo
about the need for cooperation between his ministry and the media. He said
in conclusion that "press freedom ends where national interests
begin". Please don't tell us that the Bulawayo press corps let him get away
with that facile statement. Obviously we can't have a self-interested
politician defining what constitutes the national interest! Every dirty
little secret - and some big ones - have been swept under that particular
carpet over the years. What would have happened to all those Willowgate
vehicles if the press had not been around to decide that the national
interest lay in disclosure? And what has happened to the missing millions
from the War Victims Compensation Fund? While they remain safely tucked in
the pockets of those highly-placed individuals still walking around with 80%
disabilities, at least the nation knows what the national interest Zanu
PF-style looks like! Then there is the recurrent spending on military
hardware at a time when the nation faces unprecedented demands upon the
fiscus for food relief, hospitals refurbishment, and crop irrigation. Where
does the national interest lie there? Certainly not with the Ministry of
Defence! Can we afford to have people like Not-So-Bright Matonga defining
where the national interest lies?
The Herald on Monday reported that
Mahoso's opposite number in Zambia, Justice Kabaz Chanda, had declared
Zimbabwe was not a pariah state but "a good example of democracy in
Africa". Chanda said democracy was a "relative concept" because there was no
universal model to measure it against. "It is difficult for any African
leader to fashion his own model of democracy as he will be pilloried by the
West like what is happening to President Robert Mugabe who has done nothing
wrong apart from angering British prime minister Tony Blair and United
States president George W Bush," Chanda reportedly told a conference in
Zambia to commemorate World Press Freedom day. We would have wanted to
accuse the judge of a dangerous relativism until we realised the article was
written by Ceasar Zvayi. Apart from the heading claiming that "Zim is a good
example of democracy", Chanda doesn't say that in the story. We suspect that
was Zvayi's own interpretation. Nowhere does the judge say Zimbabwe is not a
pariah state in the story. Again we suspect it was Zvayi's helpful
intervention, perhaps to justify his trip to Zambia. He would have been
hard-pressed to find Zimbabwe's friends and what they have done in material
terms to improve the lives of Zimbabweans. And why should Mugabe use us as
guinea pigs in his experiment to "fashion his own model of
That model of democracy found further endorsement in
Zimbabwe's re-election to the United Nations Commission for Human Rights
last week. The country's permanent representative to the UN Boniface
Chidyausiku hailed this as a triumph for "Zimbabwean democracy". Quite
the contrary, remarked a cynical observer, "they say you set a thief to
catch a thief". We couldn't agree more. Incidentally, the reporter let it be
known that perhaps Zimbabwe's re-election was not entirely due to lack of
blemishes on the human rights front, but rather a flawed process. Those
countries opposed to Zimbabwe's re-election couldn't do so "in the absence
of an open voting system", he blurted out. Sounds like another rigged
election! Meanwhile, Caesar Zvayi has every right to act as a mouthpiece of a
discredited regime if he wants to but he should stop telling silly stories
that even he knows are not true. For the third time now he has told us
that Ian Smith wept as the Union Jack was lowered at the Independence
ceremony at Rufaro Stadium on April 17/18 1980. Why should Smith weep for
a flag he had discarded 12 years earlier in 1968 to be replaced by a green
and white concoction? This is at face value an unimportant point. But our
question is: what else is Zvayi prepared to mislead Herald readers
Still with Smiths, but hopefully of a less inflexible variety,
Muckraker would like to extend a welcome to Tim Smith of the US embassy's
Public Affairs section. He replaces Gerry Keener who had to return to the US
for health reasons. Our best wishes go with her. Tim Smith has now been
reminded that Zimbabwe's toxic political climate can be dangerous to your
health by a sulphurous emission from Tafataona Mahoso writing in the Sunday
Mail last weekend. If the truth be told Smith had gullibly asked for this
outpouring by visiting Mahoso at the offices of the Media and Information
Commission and inviting him to participate in a teleconference on the
occasion of World Press Freedom Day which took place on Tuesday. We don't
of course for one minute believe Mahoso's claim that Smith, during his visit
to the MIC offices, "agreed that the negative stories being used by the
Western media to stigmatise and criminalise Zimbabwe are at best blatantly
biased and at worst based on pure fabrications". That sounds like an impure
fabrication. But by visiting Mahoso in the first place Smith gave a hostage
to fortune and provided a platform for the unhinged tirade that
followed. Journalists participating in Tuesday's event did not ask the US
Public Affairs section to lean over backwards to provide airtime to their
persecutors, and while it is true that left to himself Mahoso would do much
to discredit the regime he serves by his frothing fulminations, it should
not be the function of the US embassy to engage too closely the enemies of
press freedom! Mahoso, in his weekly column, which by the way desperately
needs an editor, asked whether those journalists and media organisations
selected to participate in the teleconference were any "different and
separate from those responsible for the biased and fabricated stories we
have already noted?" And he wanted to know if any of those participating
had received funding or sponsorship from US government sources such as
USAid. "What is the facilitator's relationship with the illegal Studio 7,"
he asked. The VoA's Studio 7 is not of course illegal. Mahoso, as head of a
quasi-judicial body, should know that but then again he has in the past
leapt to similar self-serving conclusions. The regime, under the former
Minister of Information, tended to brand as "illegal" anything to which it
took exception. Studio 7, SW Africa Radio, and other stations operate in
terms of the law as defined by their host countries. They are a response to
a Supreme Court ruling which struck down ZBC's monopoly of the airwaves and
opened up broadcasting to other applicants. When the regime ignored that
ruling to ensure the only voice heard across the country was President
Mugabe's, a number of hopeful broadcasters were obliged to transmit from
outside the country until they were able to return home to exercise their
right to freedom of expression.
Zimbabwe's ambassador to South Africa
Simon Moyo appears to live in cloud cuckooland. He reportedly said the
elections were "over and done with" and all Zimbabweans should rally behind
government's "economic revival policy". The elections might surely be over
but they are not done with as yet. The nation is still weighed down by the
hopelessness of that election result. Not even a jubilant Zanu PF has any
clue about how to proceed from here on or galvanise support for its "Look
East" policy. SK also thinks all that is needed to revive the economy is to
deploy hundreds of so-called "trade attachés" across the globe and wait for
tourists to flock into the country. For a start, very few people swallow the
deception that we need to go to China to earn American dollars or British
pounds. The Chinese themselves are going straight to those countries.
Secondly, the Chinese are coming to Zimbabwe at a huge cost to local
industry because of their sub-standard products. Companies and factories
are closing down and workers being laid off because the Chinese have been
allowed to dump their products on the local market. That doesn't sound like
an economic revival policy. If Moyo were keeping abreast of what's happening
on the continent he would know about the revolts against Chinese products in
Senegal and how the South Africans are fighting the Chinese invasion. Zambia
is still mourning the loss of 50 workers killed at a Chinese explosives
plant in the Copperbelt region last week. For a party whose slogan is
"Zimbabwe will never be a colony again", why does Zanu PF imagine that the
Chinese are so charitable? It's colonisation by whatever name Moyo and his
colleagues want to call it. Except that it is colonisation by invitation,
itself a first and bizarre case of industrial suicide.
election where voices are silenced by agents of the incumbent party, they do
things rather differently in the UK. There, you can always rely on some
prankster or opportunist to get in on the act. Tory candidate Ed Matts,
fighting to win back Labour's most marginal seat in Dorset South, was not so
long ago involved in a local campaign to have a Malawian family saved from
deportation. He was photographed, the Guardian reports, standing alongside
Tory bigwig Ann Widdecombe holding a placard saying "Let them stay". He
apparently changed his views about immigrants and doctored the placard to
read "Controlled immigration" and "Not chaos and inhumanity". This
sleight of hand was quickly drawn to the attention of Michael Howard who, to
his credit, immediately phoned the Malawian family involved to apologise.
Howard is himself the son of immigrants from Romania. More entertaining was
the manifesto of the Official Monster Raving Loony Party which has been
fielding candidates in British elections since the 1960s. It pledged to
reduce class sizes by making the pupils sit closer to one another and
issuing them with smaller desks!
Govt coffers dry Godfrey Marawanyika GOVERNMENT has
exhausted all its deposits with the Reserve Bank after placing $332 billion
with the central bank in December last year, official figures
Figures show that the biggest deposit made by government was on
July 30, when it gave the central bank $568 billion.
declined to $160 billion in November before the last payment of $332 billion
in December. By April 22, the government's overdraft with the central bank
had declined to $100,8 billion from a peak of $1, 2 trillion at the
beginning of the month.
The latest figures are in sharp contrast to
last year's savings which at one stage saw government's account in credit,
winning it praise from central bank governor Gideon Gono. However, this time
around the central bank has raised concerns over government's borrowings,
which it says are highly inflationary.
According to RBZ figures,
as of April 22 government domestic debt was $8 trillion, a rise of almost
200% from $2,8 trillion at the end of 2004.
The debt shot up from $2
trillion to $6 trillion in March before reaching the current $8 trillion at
the end of April.
Under RBZ guidelines, lending to government is
limited to 20% of the previous year's collected revenue. This however
excludes government securities purchased on the secondary market for
monetary policy purposes. Based on 2004 revenue estimates, this translates
to a statutory limit of $1,3 trillion for this year.
have warned that high levels of government borrowing will stoke
inflationary pressures. This also crowds out borrowing by the private
sector, which is supposed to be the engine for economic
Deputy Finance minister David Chapfika on Wednesday said
there was nothing wrong with government borrowing to finance productive
"If we are borrowing for consumptive purposes then
it becomes inflationary, but when the money is used to finance operations
then there is no problem," he said.
"In real terms government can
borrow to finance industry, for example, or anything productive," said
A senior bank economist this week said failure by
government to deposit in its account could have been caused by the recent
"Election costs are generally high. Government does not
make its expenditure figures public so we can only speculate about elections
and grain imports," the economist said.
As reported elsewhere in
this newspaper, the WFP has put Zimbabwe's total food needs at US$423 983
468 for April-September.
The central bank is also set to announce a
post-election monetary policy which will also take into account the
country's food assistance needs and an expanded cabinet.
No business for ZABG Shakeman Mugari THE Zimbabwe
Allied Banking Group (ZABG) is in a precarious financial position as it has
failed to pick up enough business to keep it going. Information to hand
shows that the bank three weeks ago suspended all lending due to
Sources say top management at the bank decided to
suspend lending because of a serious mismatch between what was being loaned
and deposits. Under normal circumstances there should be a match between
what the bank lends and what it receives in deposits.
now plans to retrench employees in light of the prevailing financial crisis.
Sources say the job cuts are part of a highly confidential report, which
indicates that ZABG would have to retrench to stay afloat.
report, sources say, is likely to see the bank laying off more than 60
employees. But they say the number could increase because the financial
constraints inherited from the two collapsed banks continue to haunt the
ZABG is an amalgam of Trust and Royal which crumbled due to
a liquidity crunch last year.
Currently there are more than 500
workers on the ZABG payroll but top management says this is draining limited
Insiders yesterday said the bank's electronic banking
division had only one corporate client on its books. Other divisions such as
retail banking, wholesale banking and stockbroking were battling for
shrinking business in the financial sector.
"The bank has been
unable to pick up sufficient deposits," said a senior manager at
"The bank has failed to make the impact that was anticipated at
Apart from a thin deposit base, the bank is poorly
capitalised, as it will not be receiving funds from the
At one time central bank governor Gideon Gono said the bank
would be capitalised to the tune of $2 trillion, making it the country's
largest bank. However, he later backtracked after the central bank failed to
raise the funds. He denied ever making such a claim.
It has since
turned out the $2 trillion mentioned by Gono was simply deposits from the
failed banks (constituting ZABG) that were converted into
Sources said senior managers had now been told by the Reserve
Bank to generate more business to raise their own working
Chief executive Stephen Gwasira could not be reached for a
comment as he was said to be out of his office attending a meeting.
New grain producer prices, for who? By Admire
Mavolwane WE have in the past lamented the non-availability of essential
information and delayed responses to events that should have been known to
all and sundry in good time.
It is almost a month since the opening
of the tobacco season yet we have no announcement as to the authorities'
intention to prop up prices and restore viability. The cotton buying season
will be upon us very soon and international lint prices are not looking
As we have highlighted in previous columns, we are not opposed
to subsidies as long as they can be quantified and are meant to temporarily
protect farmers from adverse movement in commodity prices. It wouldn't be a
bad idea if an independent research board was set up to monitor
international prices and advise the farmers. This would enable farmers to
plan in advance and possibly switch to crops with a better outlook. The era
of doing things blindly is surely past us.
Tuesday's Herald ran a
headline announcing the producer price for maize and a subsidy that seems to
go against the new gospel that parastatals should be run profitably. The
Grain Marketing Board (GMB) will now be paying roughly $2,2 million for
every tonne of maize, up from $750 000 in the prior season. The price has
been increased by an incredible 300% - presumably an admission that the CPI
inflation is understated.
Ironically, the selling price to millers
will remain pegged at $600 000 per tonne which does not make commercial
sense given that even at last year's producer price the parastatal was
incurring negative margins. However, while in more normal times one would
have expected the total subsidy to worsen, given the size of the crop likely
to be bought by the GMB, the whole issue is reduced to an almost academic
What baffles many is the manner in which the subsidy, now
amounting to $1,6 million, is applied and the resultant impact on the budget
deficit. One would have expected the subsidy to be applied at the farm gate
in the form of cheaper inputs, the rationale being that farmers would be
encouraged to grow the crop through the availability of favourably priced
Also the producer price should at least be announced before
the onset of the planting season. Besides being more sensible, it would
allow the farmers plan in advance in terms of hectarage and
The argument that hiking a producer price in April just
before the commencement of harvesting will encourage deliveries does not, in
our humble view, hold water. Had the price been announced in October or
September, farmers would have compared the returns on tobacco, cotton,
sunflowers, groundnuts and maize and made a decision as to which crop would
give better returns.
In addition, it would enable the fiscal
authorities to take into consideration the relevant subsidies when preparing
the budget and hence come up with correct estimates of the budget outcome
that would enhance credibility.
As an illustration, a number of
new measures and incentives have been introduced since the 2005 budget was
announced. At the time of presentation, a budget deficit of 5% of gross
domestic product (GDP) was forecast.
Yet since then the central bank
governor has announced that over the next two years the Reserve Bank
proposes to raise $10 trillion as "seed funds" for the parastatals and local
authorities reorientation programme (PLARP), of which one can assume that at
least a budget-busting $5 trillion is likely to be spent this
Increases in civil service remuneration are forecast to account
for $8,3 trillion; additional tax concessions amount to $5 trillion, while
quasi-fiscal payments to gold, tobacco growers, the capitalisation of ZABG,
the Energy, Housing and Infrastructure Development Bank and the outstanding
advances to the productive sector at the beginning of the year together
amount to a further $5 trillion.
So, before even adding in the
grain subsidies, we are looking at an increased expenditure of $23-25
trillion. This is some $6 trillion more than the increase in expenditure of
$19 trillion given in the budget estimates indicating that even without
taking into account another year of falling real GDP the deficit will be at
least 10% of estimated GDP and will in all likelihood be considerably
Now, adding the new subsidies and possibly the increase in
government expenditure necessitated by the expanded cabinet, which has an
additional six ministries, the deficit will probably shoot up towards double
This is hardly a development which is likely to help us
in our search for foreign partners to help promote our proposed
As alluded to earlier, lack of information as to how much
the GMB is likely to purchase from farmers means that one would not be able
to quantify how much the subsidy would work out to at the end of the day.
What we have misgivings about is that the price differentials present an
One hopes that there are mechanisms in
place to stop some innovative entrepreneurs from accessing maize from GMB
under the guise of being a miller and repackaging it before immediately
delivering back to GMB at a profit.
On another note, it is
interesting to see that the new price almost equates to the import parity
price of grade B maize of US$120 per tonne using the exchange rate of $18
733, which is in line with the more sober parallel market rates. Now that
question that begs to be answered is: why and how would a state institution
use the unofficial rate to set its producer prices?
Exchange rate mismatch could hurt gold targets Ndamu
Sandu ZIMBABWE is likely to miss its annual gold production targets because
of low output in the first quarter and an unfavourable exchange
Figures released by the Chamber of Mines last week show that gold
production in the first quarter declined 17,6% to 4 200 kg from 5100 kg in
the previous year.
The decline in the quarterly output has put a
damper on the annual output of 35 000 kg envisaged by the chamber at the
beginning of the year.
The chamber attributed the decline to rising
production costs and foreign currency shortages.
Robertson said the decline in gold production might be an indication that
more people are selling the metal privately as the parallel market is giving
a better rate compared to the official rate.
Currently the US dollar
is trading at $20 000 on the parallel market compared to $6 000 on the
official auction market.
Robertson said because of this discrepancy,
there was a possibility that more gold was finding its way into the parallel
"Maybe Zimbabwe is producing a lot of gold but the RBZ is not
getting it because of the exchange rate which is way behind the rate offered
on the parallel market," Robertson said.
Zimbabwe's total gold
production last year reached 21 300 kg, pushing foreign currency earnings to
$273,8 million from $152,3 million the previous year.
Gold, the second largest gold producer after Metallon, announced a fortnight
ago that it was stopping gold production because it was no longer
Industry officials said the decline in yellow metal
output over the past four years had been caused by power shortages, lack of
spare parts, high production costs and an uncertain future caused by
President Mugabe's announcement that locals should be given a 50% stake in
all foreign-owned firms.
In January the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe
increased the Zimbabwe dollar gold support price from $92 000 to $130 000
Producers are required to sell some of the metal to the
But producers say the support price requires frequent
review as it is easily overtaken by high inflation which in March stood at
Gono's targets prove elusive Shakeman
Mugari RESERVE Bank of Zimbabwe governor Gideon Gono is battling to keep his
monetary policy on target at a time when government is spending money on
maize imports and an enlarged cabinet.
A combination of skewed
economic fundamentals and the ongoing political crisis have forced Gono to
make major changes to his initial policies.
According to bankers he
spoke to two weeks ago, he wants to raise interest rates, revise inflation
targets and slash the foreign currency earnings forecast to bring it closer
to the reality he has been dodging since his appointment in 2003. Sources
say he also wants to panelbeat his roadmap to fit an economy that has been
battered by drought and fuel shortages.
Zimbabwe needs to raise
US$818 million to avert looming hunger which government blames on drought.
Grain imports will be financed by diverting $5 trillion initially earmarked
for infrastructural development. The urgent need for grain money requires
Gono to revise his US$3 billion foreign currency earnings target that he set
Experts say he will have to draw up a new roadmap after
his initial plans were thrown into disarray by the drought and economic
problems that are refusing to go away despite official
Economist David Mupamhadzi said the governor would have to
change the whole picture because his initial vision was based on the
assumption that there would be no drought. He said all projections would
have to be changed to factor in the impact of the drought which he said was
"The central bank and government would have to change
all the assumptions they had used to calculate growth rate, GDP prospects
and inflation targets," Mupamhadzi said.
"Initial targets were
based on the assumption that everything would be normal but now things have
Gono is also expected to devalue the Zimbabwe dollar to
narrow the widening gap between the galloping parallel and the official
auction rates. Sources say Gono is likely to devalue the dollar from the
current $6 200/US$1 to around $9 000/US$1 to save the exporting sector and
entice the forex holders to channel their money into the official
There was information last week that Gono had wanted to slash
the dollar value to $12 000/US$1 had it not been for a cabinet directive to
peg it at $9 000.
Experts however say the devaluation might be
too little too late to stop the black market which has seen the Zimbabwe
dollar trading at a high of $17 500 against the greenback and around $35 000
to the pound. Despite his commitment to revive the export sector, the
reality on the ground shows that there has been very little business to
justify his US$3 billion projection he said the country would earn this
year. Exporters are reeling from an over-valued local
Fuel shortages and power cuts that have hit the country
will also impact negatively on the manufacturing sector that Gono had said
would form part of the measures to revive the economy. Capacity utilisation
in the key industry is likely to slump due to energy and fuel shortages.
Currently the sector is operating at around 40% with other companies having
shut down completely.
Zimbabwe is failing to raise US$34 million
required to import fuel per month. It has also been battling to raise the
US$17 million required for a month's supply of power
Analysts say the governor's biggest challenge is to put a
stopper on government's expenditure that will be compounded by an enlarged
cabinet. They say this will further strain the treasury whose books are
already full of holes.
Runaway spending has seen government
accumulating massive debts over the past five years. The Reserve Bank of
Zimbabwe says government's domestic debt jumped to $7,9 trillion on April 15
from $2,3 trillion as of February 18. In January 2004, domestic debt stood
at $576 billion. This is despite Gono's claims that government has been
spending within its means.
Beer shortage looms Staff Writer A SHORTAGE of beer
is looming as supplies of the strategic raw material in lager brewing, malt,
could run out in two months.
Foreign currency constraints on importing
additional supplies have worsened the situation.
produced only 20 000 tonnes of barley last year which is only a quarter of
the country's annual demand. Malt is a by-product of barley.
have also been going up, rising from $420 000 per tonne in August
to $9,5 million per tonne in October 2004. Last month prices were raised to
$11,6 million per tonne.
The new crop which will be planted next
month will only be harvested in October, meaning the country could be
without supplies between June and September.
and South Africa are the only producers of malt. Zimbabwe used to supply 50%
of its product to seven countries throughout the
Mozambique, Botswana, Zambia, South Africa, the
Democratic Republic of Congo and Malawi and Zambia once relied completely on
Delta for their malt requirements.
Delta Corporation Ltd's Kwekwe
maltings plant general manager Lukas Rungano referred questions to the
company's group corporate affairs manager, George Mutendadzamera who said
the company had enough supplies of barley malt.
"Barley malt will not
run out in June as we have enough supplies to cater for the needs of our
market," he said. "The exact figure of last year's tonnage is in excess of
the figure you quote (20 000t). We will not have a
Delta is the country's largest beverages company and
is the holding company for a broad range of interests serving the mass
These include lager and sorghum beer brewing, the
bottling of carbonated and non-carbonated soft drinks, supermarket and
furniture retailing, tourism and various agro-industrial operations.
Alaska to Zimbabwe consumers agree on two points, they demand a low-cost,
high-quality service or commodity.
Any company that delivers those twin
needs grows in direct proportion to product availability and marketing. It's
It is clear that the telecommunications industry in
Zimbabwe is failing on both counts.
Zimbabweans pay one of the
highest rates in the world in order to communicate and by all accounts the
quality of service is abysmal.
The Minister of Finance, Dr Herbert
Murerwa is on record as saying: "The
development of public infrastructure
such as roads, dams and telecommunications facilities will be a key factor
in government's efforts to increase investment to turn around the country's
In recent years there has been substantial
improvement in access to telecoms facilities and unprecedented growth in the
telecoms network but size, in this instance, does not automatically equal
quality or speed of delivery.
A flourishing black market trade exists
in both landline and cell- phone commodities.
Consumers ask why
it takes months for them to receive a landline? Why cellphone signals are
erratic? Why they are charged for poor quality connectivity resulting in
several calls having to be made to get one's point across clearly? The
answer to all these questions may quite literally lie in a one word solution
In a recent survey 98% of high profile respondents did
not know what wireless telecommunications were. Fixed wireless access is the
use of wireless technology to replace copper to connect subscribers to the
telephone network plus radio frequency spectrum, the basis of radio
frequency transmission and modulation as well as the use of antennas and
The concept was developed by the United States
Army in order to communicate with remote areas in case landlines were down
Usage of wireless telecommunications has been around for
over 20 years with businesses inheriting the technology over the past five
Like most significant innovations the development of wireless
options was a collaborative effort from contributing
US-based companies recruited wireless voice, data, and video
experts, each with specific knowledge of wireless telecoms technologies and
business practices. This team, together with input from thousands of other
online contributors gathered, added, and edited what are now the latest
wireless, telecom, and data network terms and acronyms in use
Wireless options continue to create a revolution in the
telecommunications industry with developed countries wasting no time in
developing the potential.
TeleAccess Zimbabwe (Pvt) Ltd marketing
and sales general manager, Simon Ramsey said that Africa has been called the
slumbering giant and that it was easy to see that picture in the mind's
He added: "But if the giant had a viable phone in his hand and
at his feet, the vast untapped mineral and other notable resources that this
continent is so blessed with, would he continue to slumber?" - ProComm
Public Relations (Pvt) Ltd.
NatFoods at 5% capacity Ndamu Sandu ZIMBABWE Stock
Exchange-listed National Foods Holdings Ltd chairman Todd Moyo says the
company's two mills in Harare and Bulawayo have been operating at 5%
capacity in the financial year ending 2004.
In a review of the 2004
financial year, Moyo attributed the decline in capacity utilisation to a
small allocation of maize by the Grain Marketing Board
Moyo said procurement of imported raw materials like animal
proteins, minerals and vitamins would remain a challenge in 2005 "given that
there is still a government ban on exports of stockfeeds".
therefore means that the supply cycle is incomplete since there is no
in-house generation of foreign currency."
The company's three
maize mills in Mutare, Gweru and Masvingo remained closed in the financial
Zimbabwe is facing a shortage of maize, as the harvest from the
just-ended season is not enough to meet the requirements.
year ended December 2004 Natfoods achieved inflation adjusted annual
turnover of $959,5 billion with a profit after tax of $28,43
Investment in stocks was down 22% and liabilities to
creditors increased to $60 billion from $24,9 billion in the previous
Debtors increased to $124,2 billion from $58,8 billion in the
year comparable, attributed to advance payments to secure raw material
Zimbabwe needs 2,3 million tonnes of maize per year with
1,8 million for consumption while the remainder is for strategic grain
Zimbabwe has been having a deficit in maize harvests since
2000 when government embarked on the chaotic land reform
A parliamentary portfolio committee on agriculture last
year revealed that the country had harvested 398 000 tonnes of maize in the
2003/4 season contrary to government's claims that the country had harvested
a bumper 2,4 million tonnes.
Analysts warned that unless
government imports maize, a number of millers would go under this year,
throwing a number of employees onto the streets.