MAKONDE MP and President Robert Mugabe's nephew, Leo Mugabe, is involved in
a multi-billion-dollar bid to force a company hired by cellphone network
operator Telecel to cancel its contract and cede it to his engineering firm,
IEG, documents reveal.
The company, FM Eiving, which has been building base-station containers for
Telecel, was two months ago forced to pay a company called Rigger Holdings
about $5 billion as "compensation" for allegedly stealing its designs.
Documents to hand show that Mugabe has been pushing Telecel to cancel a
contract awarded to FM Eiving and give it to his IEG or to a friendly
company, Rigger Holdings.
FM Eiving has since instructed its lawyer Irikidzai Mapulala of Mapulala &
Motsi to recover the "compensation" money paid to Rigger. The company has
also refused to surrender its contract and is building more base-stations
for Telecel. Mapulala yesterday confirmed moves to recover the money but
could not give details on the amount of the claim saying that was
Mugabe yesterday denied any involvement in the alleged arm-twisting, saying
his role as a technical partner and director of Telecel was to make sure the
two parties did not end up in court as this would delay the network's
roll-out programme. Asked if any money was paid to him, Mugabe said: "There
is nothing like that. We did not want Rigger to sue FM Eiving as this would
have delayed the roll-out plan."
There appears to be a close relationship between Rigger and IEG as Mugabe
has written to Telecel raising questions as to why Rigger was not awarded
the contract. The documents also show that one Cosmas Gwede is listed as
vice chairman of IEG while he is also a director of Rigger.
Officials at FM Eiving yesterday confirmed that they had paid "about" $5
billion to Rigger after the company in August demanded $8 billion as
compensation for what it alleged was "loss of profit and plagiarisation
(sic) of our intellectual property". The money was withdrawn from Premier
Bank, Samora Machel branch.
Rigger Holdings contends that FM Eiving stole its designs and used them to
execute the Telecel contract. Officials at FM Eiving yesterday said that was
the pretext used to scare them into surrendering money to Rigger. They said
there was no way they could have stolen designs as they built base-stations
as per specifications stipulated by the network operator.
"We have been doing this job since 1998. How can we be accused of stealing
designs this year?" an official said.
But Mugabe in letters to Telecel acting managing director Rex Chibesa last
month did not hide his interest in the project. In a letter dated October 4,
Mugabe said as a local technical partner of Telecel, he must be involved in
technical evaluation and "execution of such project works which can be
carried out in-house by IEG as well as in selection, appointment and
supervision of other specialist local contractors for outsourced project
He insisted on Telecel availing to IEG, through its representative Gwede,
all information on historical and future technical work.
"We are particularly disturbed by the unprofessional manner in which the
Telecel Zimbabwe January 2004 tender for supply and installation of civil
works for new base-stations was awarded to FM Eiving at the expense of
Rigger Holdings," said Mugabe.
Mugabe in an interview yesterday denied that IEG wanted to take over the FM
Eiving contract. However, minutes of a meeting held on September 30,
attended by Gwede, Chibesa and Telecel technical director Samuel Duncan,
show that Mugabe had intervened in the FM Eiving/Rigger conflict and that FM
Eiving had agreed to "cede the outstanding works" (on base-stations) to IEG.
Gwede is quoted in the minutes as having said Telecel would issue a
variation order to the FM Eiving contract to effect the changes. Duncan said
FM Eiving had not indicated to Telecel that they had reached such an
understanding with IEG as they had procured material to execute the
contract, according to the minutes.
Contacted to comment on his involvement in both IEG and Rigger and whether
FM Eiving had been paid the "compensation", Gwede at first professed
ignorance of the whole issue. When told of a letter bearing his signature,
he could only say: "Those are confidential documents you are holding. Where
did you get those letters from? I have no comment to make."
Chibesa refused to comment on the issue.
ASSOCIATED Newspapers of Zimbabwe (ANZ) no longer has any meaningful assets
that can be auctioned to pay retrenchment packages for the 153 employees
dismissed in July 2003, lawyers representing the publishing company say.
The ANZ, publishers of the banned Daily News and Daily News on Sunday, is
embroiled in a fresh legal battle with its former employees over severance
Mordecai Mahlangu of Gill Godlonton & Gerrans, representing the ANZ, told a
labour hearing on Wednesday his client's balance sheet reflected "a sad
state of affairs due to its inability to publish and generate revenue over a
The papers were forced to close down on September 13, 2003.
"My client's major asset was being able to publish. Unless the company is
given a licence there is no way it can pay. The company has no assets. It
has no resources," Mahlangu said.
Mahlangu had initially disputed the number of people entitled to
retrenchment packages saying his client was not obliged to pay people now
But Selby Hwacha of Dube Manikai & Hwacha law firm, representing the former
ANZ workers, said the ANZ management was liable to pay either salary arrears
to the employees backdated to July 2004 or retrenchment packages as set down
by the labour minister on October 19 last year.
"The fact that some have found jobs does not relieve the employer of his
obligation. The employer's pleas (that it is unable to pay) are not relevant
in terms of the Labour Relations Act," Hwacha said.
Hwacha argued that the ANZ was in this situation because of a problem
created by the employer, not by the employees.
Last Wednesday Hwacha threatened to attach ANZ property if need be.
Former workers of the Daily News newspaper on November 2 launched a fresh
bid to get their retrenchment packages, more than a year after the courts
ruled in their favour.
The workers say they had put the issue of retrenchment packages on the back
burner during the last 13 months in the hope that the company would be
granted an operating licence by the government to resume publishing.
But the workers say their hopes for a quick return to Old Mutual House were
shattered a fortnight ago after the chief executive officer of the company,
Samuel Sipepa Nkomo, filed nomination papers to stand on an opposition
Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) ticket in this month's senate election.
They said the move by Nkomo could see the government hardening its stance
towards the embattled company trying to parry accusations of being an
In July last year, the Labour Court awarded Daily News workers $5 million
each as relocation costs and six months pay for every year served to each
individual. The court also awarded two years' pay to workers who had served
for less than a year.
The ANZ appealed against the ruling but lost the case.
The retrenched workers accused Nkomo of neglecting their welfare since the
closure of the newspaper two years ago.
"We now think management is feeding on our plight. It has been more than a
year since a ruling was made in our favour but the company seems to be
dragging its heels on the issue," said Taka Mparutsa, a former chairman of
the workers' committee.
Another former worker, Luxon Muringani, said: "Sipepa Nkomo has abandoned us
judging by the way he is seeking political office when he has always assured
us he will never seek a political solution to get the Daily News re-opened."
But the ANZ boss has rejected charges that his standing for the MDC in the
senate election would jeopardise the paper's bid to secure an operating
Workers also wondered how the company expected to get back on the streets if
it has no assets left.
Lawyers for workers and the ANZ agreed to go to arbitration next week.
Augustine Mukaro/Ray Matikinye
CHITUNGWIZA mayor Misheck Shoko might have failed to comprehend how
thoroughly Local Government minister Ignatious Chombo does a hatchet job
when it comes to harassing any official that comes into office on the coat
tails of the opposition MDC.
But he should have learnt that the sword of Damocles was permanently hanging
over his head when the minister ejected his colleague, Harare's first
popularly elected executive mayor, Elias Mudzuri, from office.
As a former independence war fighter, Shoko could have reapplied some
wartime tactics and girded his loins for a long-haul counter-attack on the
university lecturer-turned-politician's antics.
Now he has learnt the hard way.
A few days after residents of the sprawling dormitory town woke up to dry
taps, government took over Chitungwiza town council by using its utility
arm, the Zimbabwe Water Authority, to cut off water for a bill it actually
owes the local authority.
On Monday government pulled out $5 billion from a hat to finance the
purchase of motors for sewage pumps as a measure to arrest deteriorating
Zanu PF has resorted to arbitrary take-overs of cities it lost in elections
to the opposition Movement for Democratic Change using flimsy excuses of
mismanagement and poor service delivery. Chitungwiza is the latest victim of
Over the past three years, MDC-led local authorities have been subjected to
systematic assault by a government whose electoral fortunes have been
confined to rural outposts since the launch of the MDC. Analysts view
government's actions as a concerted effort to subvert residents' democratic
right to elect a council by imposing Zanu PF leaders on urban councils.
Starting with the Harare mayoral saga, Chombo has become master at showing
that the purported decentralisation of authority to promote efficiency is in
reality designed to protect the ruling Zanu PF party's declining fortunes.
None other President Robert Mugabe has lamented his party's loss of control
of most urban centres, particularly the capital Harare, hence the
undemocratic extension of the term of the government-imposed commission
beyond its legal mandate. MDC-led councils have the onerous duty of putting
up with a minister who deliberately delays approving budgets to cripple
The executive mayor of Bulawayo, Japhet Ndabeni Ncube's administration is
owed billions by government departments for services delivered to the army,
the police and other government institutions that could improve a worsening
cash-flow situation in Zimbabwe's second largest city.
Yet government has taken an inordinate time to pay up, hoping service
delivery in the city will deteriorate in one of the best-run cities in the
country to create an excuse for a takeover.
Commentators said the way Chombo moved into Chitungwiza this week exposed
Zanu PF's grand plan to grab urban areas from MDC control.
The same excuses were used to elbow Engineer Mudzuri out of Harare, dismiss
Mayor Francis Dhlakama from Chegutu, and suspend Misheck Kagurabadza from
Mutare. Relentless efforts are being made to dislodge Japhet Ncube from
At the height of divisions in Zanu PF in Matabeleland before its December
congress, metropolitan governor and resident minister Cain Mathema stunned
party delegates to a meeting with the president when he said: "We are so
divided here in Matabeleland as a province. These divisions have weakened
our resolve to dislodge the MDC mayor as has happened in Harare."
Combined Harare Residents Association chairman Mike Davies said there was a
trend of blatant subversion with government creating problems for opposition
mayors so that it can usurp their functions.
In all cases Chombo starts by appointing Zanu PF-linked investigating
committees whose partiality is obvious.
The first victim was Mudzuri who was suspended in April 2003 before being
fired a year later.
"Government has a record of denying opposition-run councils borrowing
powers," Davies said adding: "When the situation gets bad, government
accuses the mayor and councillors of mismanagement before moving in to give
money to its imposed leadership."
Davies said government was failing to come up with legitimate means to
return urban local authorities to Zanu PF after the party was overwhelmingly
rejected by the electorate.
"Zanu PF has lost the mandate of the people so it has to resort to
totalitarian means of usurping power," he said.
In July Chombo suspended Kagurabadza in Mutare on allegations of failing to
control the activities of council employees. He proceeded to appoint a
six-member team to investigate the mayor.
The team was made up of Zanu PF functionaries such as Isau Mupfumi, a Zanu
PF central committee member, Ellen Gwaradzimba, a Zanu PF losing candidate
in the city's mayoral election, and a Mr Mugadza, who is a lawyer in
Gwaradzimba's case challenging Kagurabadza's election.
Kagurabadza has since expressed concern about the impartiality of the
members investigating him, challenging their capacity "to act in a
transparent and impartial manner".
MDC MP for Harare North Trudy Stevenson said the Zanu PF leadership had a
grand plan to reclaim cities through unorthodox means.
"The plan involves creating problems for local authorities, putting the
mayor under pressure and then moving in to run the affairs on the pretext of
reviving a collapsing service delivery system," Stevenson said. "On the
ground, Zanu PF-run councils are worse. Harare is now worse than it was when
Mudzuri was in office," she said.
Virtually all the capital's infrastructure is in a free fall characterised
by intermittent water supplies, raw sewerage flowing in high-density
residential streets and roads almost inaccessible due to potholes.
Decomposing mounds of uncollected garbage have become an eyesore in most
residential areas and pose a serious health hazard as the rainy season
begins in earnest.
Davies said problems in the urban areas were symptomatic of an endemic
"Until the crisis is resolved at national level, local government problems
will persist regardless of whether you put in Zanu PF or MDC councillors or
illegal commissions," he said.
OPPOSITION Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) leader Morgan Tsvangirai has
told diplomats his party is going through a "period of anxiety and
uncertainty" triggered by the senate issue.
Tsvangirai also moved to mend fences with South African President Thabo
Mbeki whom he recently refused to meet to resolve the infighting in his
Tsvangirai is engaged in a war of attrition with a rival faction for the
control of the party.
His spokesman William Bango said his boss had not snubbed Mbeki as widely
"As for the speculation that Tsvangirai is snubbing President Mbeki, this is
far from the truth," Bango said.
After briefing Harare-based diplomats yesterday morning, Tsvangirai was
visited by the new South African ambassador, Professor Mlungisi Makhalima at
his Strathaven home.
Bango said the meeting between Tsvangirai and Makhalima was fruitful. "A
number of issues were discussed, notes compared and fresh proposals for
co-operation were hammered out. Tsvangirai took the opportunity to brief
Prof Makhalima on the state of the party and the MDC's view on the
resolution of the national crisis," he said.
Tsvangirai denied reports he was preparing to go to Europe to meet European
Union leaders over the MDC crisis after snubbing Mbeki. There were reports
he was going to meet EU leaders to discuss the MDC squabbles.
Addressing diplomats in Harare yesterday, Tsvangirai admitted the MDC was
rocked by internal strife triggered by the debate over whether or not to
participate in the November 26 senate election.
"I must admit that the last few weeks have been a period of anxiety and
seeming uncertainty among observers of the democratic struggle in Zimbabwe,
at home and abroad," he said.
"I would like therefore to take this opportunity to set the record straight
and allay any lingering fears among our friends and well-wishers abroad."
Tsvangirai narrated events surrounding the MDC crisis to the diplomats and
insisted his party would boycott the poll. He recently claimed the issue was
an internal matter to justify his refusal to meet Mbeki.
He said although his party's national council initially voted to
participate, it had since reversed its decision. The rival faction led by
secretary-general Welshman Ncube has dismissed the claim.
Tsvangirai said the MDC was committed to democracy and its values. This came
against a background of accusations by colleagues that he was a "dictator in
Tsvangirai, failing to quell the turbulence in the MDC, said his party
wanted a comprehensive constitutional reform process, not piecemeal reforms.
"Our position on constitutional reform is quite clear. We believe that only
a broad and comprehensive process with the full participation of the people
of Zimbabwe can produce an acceptable and legitimate constitution for the
country," he said.
"This position constitutes one of the central objectives of the party and no
single organ outside the full congress can vary or modify it. It is a
fundamental principle. It is one of the major reasons for the existence of
Tsvangirai said after he had overruled the MDC council on the senate issue,
he embarked on a "comprehensive consultative programme" to solicit the
people's views on the issue.
"It became absolutely vital for the party to revisit and re-fashion its
policy bearings with a view to charting a consistent and common path
forward. An outreach programme to consult with the people became
imperative," he said. "We embarked on this comprehensive consultative
programme and the result was a clear restatement of the central objectives
of the party on constitutional issues, by the various party organs
throughout the country."
He said the consultation process culminated in the controversial council
meeting last Saturday which he claimed had reversed the decision to enter
THE ruling Zanu PF is seeking $100 billion to finance the senate election
campaign and its so-called National People's Conference in December. The
party has raised $1,9 billion so far from the sale of party cards.
The conference will be held in Esigodini, 40km south of Bulawayo in
Matabeleland South, while the senate election is set for November 26.
Zanu PF secretary for finance David Karimanzira could not be drawn into
commenting on the funds needed referring all questions to the national
political commissar, Elliot Manyika.
"Talk to Manyika, he will give you all the details," Karimanzira said
yesterday. Manyika was not available for comment.
According to a copy of a presentation Karimanzira made to the national
fundraising committee on October 28, the party is having problems raising
"Since the party relies mainly on membership card sales, fundraising
projects and donations, I am disheartened by the rate at which our
membership cards are selling since their launch in October 2004,"
"The total revenue received from all provinces stands at $1,9 billion out of
the expected $27 billion projected had all the cards been bought and fully
subscribed for by today."
In his mid-term fiscal policy review, Finance minister Herbert Murerwa
availed $30 billion for the senate election. This was however earmarked for
Karimanzira said revenue inflows from fees had gone down significantly.
He told the committee that to date, Harare had raised $385 million,
Mashonaland East $319 million, Masvingo $313 million, Midlands $210 million
and Manicaland $191 million through the sale of cards.
Matabeleland South and North have raised $191 million and $55 million
respectively, whilst Mashonaland West and Central have chipped in with
$158,4 million and $60 million each. Bulawayo has raised $22 million.
According to the presentation, a card fees and subscription verification
exercise was scheduled to be held on Monday in Bulawayo and another in
Matabeleland North and South on November 14.
For last year's conference, Zanu PF raised $500 million, a target which a
number of provinces are now struggling to meet.
"There is need to focus our minds on fundraising this year's $100 billion
target to service these forthcoming programmes," Karimanzira said.
"All provinces should precisely plan fundraising activities to raise funds.
Some provinces already have projects under way, such as Harare, which has so
far managed to raise $1,1 billion towards the $5 billion each province
GOVERNMENT has stepped up efforts to push the few remaining white commercial
farmers off the land by empowering a reconstituted equipment committee to
seize farming implements.
Sources privy to the operation said an equipment committee led by police
Assistant Commissioner Ndanga this week swooped on Mwenezi district in rural
Masvingo, seizing equipment worth billions of dollars.
The team left about 10 of the farms in the area under guard by armed
personnel to forestall the farmers removing their equipment from the farms.
Farmers said the raids were an apparent last-ditch attempt to rid the
province of its few remaining white farmers.
Raided farms included Reinette Ranch owned by Don Theron and Alko Ranch
owned by an elderly widow, a Mrs Kloppers.
Theron confirmed that his equipment was seized on Monday by a group of 22
people who came in three heavy vehicles and three pick-up trucks. Amongst
the people were the police, a prisons officer in uniform and self-styled war
"About 22 people, eight of them armed with rifles, came here at around
midday on Monday," Theron said.
"Their leader, a provincial police officer in Masvingo, a Mrs Ndanga, told
me that they wanted to collect the equipment. She didn't explain why but
simply instructed her team to start loading the equipment onto a 30-tonne
and an eight-tonne police truck."
Theron said the equipment taken included tractors, trailers, water bowsers,
road graders and irrigation pipes. The equipment was taken to Mwenezi police
station and Masvingo central police station.
"They proceed to Alko Ranch where they took the same range of equipment. The
value of the equipment runs into billions of dollars," Theron said.
Farmers condemned the behaviour of the Masvingo Equipment Committee,
describing this week's raids as blatant acts of theft.
Ndanga refused to shed light on the matter saying: " I don't talk to the
press over the phone. If you want to get information on that issue you will
have to come and see me in person," Ndanga said.
GOVERNMENT has given a number of farms seized from white commercial farmers
during the land reform programme to the Chinese as incentives for them to
start business ventures in Zimbabwe.
Zimbabwe has been pursuing a "Look East" policy to replace traditional
trading partners in the West after a major fallout following President
Mugabe's hotly-disputed election victory in 2002.
Highly placed sources said the Chinese government-owned China State Farms
Agribusiness Corporation (CSFAC) would revive several derelict former
white-owned farms as well as clear vast tracks of virgin land for farming
Farmers in the Mashonaland West province said the Chinese had already moved
onto four estates in the Mazvikadei and Biri dam areas where they are busy
"The Chinese are at Fenemere and Dalkeith farms near Mazvikadei dam," one
"They have moved onto Clydesdale and Liverdale farms along Biri dam as
The farmer said speculation was rife that the Chinese wanted to set up
plantations for trees from which oil could be extracted.
The Chinese have been linked to partnership deals with the quasi-government
agricultural arm, the Agricultural and Rural Development Authority (Arda)
and the Zimbabwe Development Company owned by ZFU vice president Edward
Raradza, in an initiative aimed at reviving former white farms that were
taken over by Arda.
Arda has moved onto about 20 estates since the land reform programme started
over five years ago but has little to show for its presence.
Among the expropriated estates where the joint ventures are expected to be
undertaken are the highly contested Kondozi Estate, now lying derelict in
the Odzi area of Manicaland, Foyle Estate in the rich Mazowe valley, Charter
Estate in the Beatrice area, Greaslee in the Goromonzi district, Charleswood
Estate, taken from former MDC MP Roy Bennett in Chimanimani, and Bosbury and
Essex farms in Mashonaland West.
Central bank authorities have been advocating the promotion of ventures
between new farmers and former operators as well as new investors to boost
production and hasten skills transfer.
THE owners of Ezulwini Farm, registered under a family trust in the
Troutbeck area of Nyanga, have been evicted from the remaining 25-hectares
of their property by a Central Intelligence Organisation operative.
Ezulwini Farm was subdivided into 80 plots at the height of the land
invasions in 2000, leaving its previous owners with 25 hectares. The
property has crops estimated at over $8 billion.
The Fields family, previous owners of Ezulwini Farm, has five hectares under
timber valued at $3 billion, four hectares of apples with an estimated value
of $3 billion and four hectares of potatoes worth $2 billion.
The farm exports cut flowers and blackberries worth close to 300 000 euros.
Among immovable properties on the farm are eight holiday cottages and a
Mike Nyakatawa, a CIO operative, allegedly moved onto the farm house on
Wednesday night after a group of youths who had been camping on the farm
evicted the Fields family. The farm is not listed for acquisition.
The Fields family has taken refuge on a neighbouring farm.
Nyakatawa allegedly made numerous visits to the farm in the company of the
Nyanga district administrator, a Mr Mondeta, and ordered the Fields to
leave. Nyakatawa and Mondeta ordered a group of Zanu PF youths to camp on
the farm until the owners left.
Last week the farm manager was attacked by the youths after he ordered them
out because they were disrupting production.
"The situation is tense as we speak. The farm manager is badly injured and
no production is taking place. They have disrupted production," said a
farmer in the area who declined to be named, fearing victimisation.
"We all know they are after the export crops on the farm considering they
will be ready in a few weeks' time," he said.
Manicaland governor and resident minister Tineyi Chigudu last week denied
any knowledge of fresh farm invasions in the province.
"There are no invasions taking place as far as I know. People are
misinformed about what is going on. These are people who were offered land
during the distribution and have now decided to take up their plots,"
ZIMBABWE'S tourism industry faces collapse after reports of extensive
wildlife deaths due to poaching and lack of water in national parks with
Gonarezhou and Hwange particularly badly hit.
Government this week made a tacit admission of the growing disaster,
although National Parks Authority officials have been evading questions on
the threat posed to the tourism industry by rising deaths among wildlife
Tourism minister Francis Nhema this week said government was moving swiftly
to save the animals.
"We have begun drilling strategic boreholes and moving the animals to the
nearest water points," he said.
"Our major problem are the elephants because they need more water. We are
hoping that the rains will favour us and alleviate the problem."
Nhema said the receding water table in the parks had exacerbated the crisis
prompting government to transfer water in bowsers to the affected areas,
while identifying new water sources to supplement these efforts.
Wildlife plays a central role in foreign currency generation through game
viewing and licensed hunting. The water problems will further worsen already
dwindling tourism business casting doubt over government's resuscitation
Hundreds of animals are reportedly dying daily due to lack of water in the
arid national parks with elephants the most vulnerable. Tourists have been
forced to watch animals fighting over scarce waterholes.
Hwange National Park spans 14 000 square kilometres and has a population of
50 000 elephants, 36 000 more than the carrying capacity of 14 000
elephants. An elephant requires at least 100 litres of water a day to
Another dilemma facing the parks authority is the lack of adequate
Out of 60 boreholes only seven are working. But this failure is due to lack
of maintenance, conservationists charge.
National Parks Authority spokesperson, Retired Major Edward Mbewe, said his
organisaton had managed to put in corrective measures to deal with the
"We have managed to dig a 2,5 km trench from a water point managed by Zinwa
(Zimbabwe National Water Authority) at Hwange National Park. The water
points have high yielding pumps, and the water will be funnelled to a
central point where distribution to the park will be made."
Mbewe said Hwange Colliery had donated pipes for the project, which will
alleviate prevailing problems.
He said plans were under way to construct at least three troughs per
borehole for water holding and preservation purposes.
Private sector organisations such as the Zimbabwe Conservation Task Force
have been instrumental in getting fuel supplies to the affected areas.
Zimbabwe Council of Tourism chairman, Tom Chuma, said government and
National Parks authorities should put their house in order considering the
economic benefits of wildlife.
"Our industry depends on wildlife and the parks. The state of their health
is what drives the tourism industry," he said.
"We expect all responsible authorities to do what they're supposed to do,
and that is ensuring the wildlife and parks are in a functional state."
THE Commercial Arbitration Centre is expected to soon fix a date for the
hearing into the suspension of Zimbabwe Mirror Group CEO and editor-in-chief
This follows the recent proposal to have former chief justice Anthony Gubbay
as the chairman of the inquiry. Gubbay is likely to be assisted by former
Institute of Chartered Accountants president David Vincent and chairman of
the Institute of Directors of Zimbabwe Much Masunda.
The hearing results from High Court judge Bharat Patel's recent
recommendation that a panel, chaired by a retired judge, be set up to look
into and determine the "propriety" of Mandaza's suspension.
Mandaza's lawyer Joseph Mandizha said yesterday the date, venue and other
issues such as service fees had not yet been announced although the process
to sort them out was in motion.
"The date of the hearing has not yet been set but I have spoken to the
administrator of the Commercial Arbitration Centre about the issue on
Monday," Mandizha said. "She was supposed to get back to me on the matter
yesterday, but she could not manage. I will check with her today
Mandizha confirmed Gubbay, Vincent and Masunda had been suggested to form
the panel to hear the matter although the team had not yet been agreed upon
by the two parties to the dispute.
Mandaza was recently suspended from the Mirror by disputed group chair
Jonathan Kadzura and his deputy John Marangwanda in the wake of disclosures
about the takeover of the Mirror titles, the Daily Mirror and the Sunday
Mirror, by the state security apparatus using public funds.
Kadzura and Marangwanda said Mandaza's suspension had followed an Ernst &
Young forensic audit report, but did not specify the nature of the report's
The intelligence service was also said to have muscled into the Financial
Gazette through a front ownership structure in a bid to win hearts and
minds. The state security department also has other extensive media
Mandaza, who had 30% of the Mirror, has since been removed from the company
as a shareholder in terms of his revised exit strategy which left the papers
practically exclusively in the hands of the intelligence service.
Meanwhile, the Mirror newspapers continue to make changes designed to ensure
the papers survive the biggest media scandal in 25 years.
Sources said plans were afoot to appoint deputy editor-in-chief Alexander
Kanengoni, who recently bounced back from suspension by Mandaza,
editor-in-chief. Tichaona Chifamba has been appointed acting CEO and
The sources said Tawanda Majoni could become the substantive editor of the
Daily Mirror, while Ruzvidzo Mupfudza would become editor of the re-branded
Sunday Mirror, now reduced from a broadsheet to a tabloid. The Mirror papers
did not have substantive editors since Innocent Sithole, who was the editor
of both titles, went for further studies in the United Kingdom last year.
Sources said Sithole had been told not to come back to the papers.
THE board of the Small Enterprises Development Corporation (Sedco) has
suspended its general manager, Claude Maredza, and placed him under virtual
"house arrest", businessdigest can reveal.
Documents in the possession of businessdigest show that Maredza was
suspended on October 28 for "excessive fuel withdrawal and usage, (and) lack
of prudence in management of loan book and expenditure".
In the suspension letter, Sedco chairman Owen Tshabangu said Maredza would
remain on a full salary and benefits during his suspension.
Maredza was appointed as GM at Sedco in June.
"In short, these matters relate to breach of board limits and terms of
reference on granting of cash cow loans, excessive fuel withdrawal and
usage, (and) lack of prudence in management of loan book and expenditure,"
"Your leave, as aforesaid, is on full pay and will be subject to the
following: you will not interfere with investigations or witnesses, you will
not be allowed to visit Sedco without written authority from (the) board."
Tshabangu said that Maredza should make himself available and cooperate with
"You will stay at your known residential address and should be available on
24 hours notice to report for duty. It is important that this matter be
concluded as quickly as reasonably possible and your cooperation in this
matter will be appreciated," said the letter of suspension.
Maredza has also come under attack from the board for allegedly availing
$300 million to a Chinese delegation. The Sedco board was set to meet again
yesterday and review the suspension.
However, according to an internal memo copied to all board members, Maredza
has fired a salvo at Tshabangu saying the information they used to suspend
him, which was supplied by the chief internal auditor, a S Matema, was
The board members include Tshabangu, Phillip Mutasa, O Sibanda, J Mbudzi, E
Hlabangana and C Mutepfa.
"During the hearing I was conscious of the fact that the chairman of the
board (human resources committee) Mr Mutepfa, and yourself were sure that
protocol had been breached," Maredza said.
"This was cemented by Mr Mutepfa's comment: 'We received this report from
the chief internal auditor of Sedco. Haikona kuzorova mwana (Do not
victimise the child.)'"
Maredza questioned why Mutema would victimise him if what he had done was
procedural and in the interest of the organisation.
He said that evidence will prove that the informant, Matema, was
deliberately "lying about the status of accounts at Sedco and the reasons
are all too clear", Maredza said.
"There has been overt and covert resistance to my administration at Sedco
since my appointment."
Maredza said that although he was willing to take it "in my stride" as this
situation was not unique to the corporation, he noted that it begins to rile
him when attempts are made to deliberately misinform the authorities with
possible connivance "with other internal and external sympathisers and
On allegations of availing a loan to a Chinese delegation, Maredza disputed
the charge saying the funds were instead given to local businesswomen who
were going to China adding that the money was availed on the instruction of
"minister" Sithembiso Nyoni.
THE government intends to set up a commercial crimes court which will
specifically deal with issues related to economic "sabotage", a government
minister has said.
In an interview this week, Anti-Corruption and Anti-Monopolies minister Paul
Mangwana said that the court will also be used to determine cases of
Bankers that fled the country during the height of the financial sector
crackdown include Julius Makoni, James Mushore, Otto Chekeche, Mthuli Ncube
and Nicholas Vingirai.
Although the country is facing a backlog of magistrates, Mangwana is
optimistic that by the time the court is set up, the issue would have been
"Once they are here, they will be tried at that court," Mangwana said. "It
does not matter when they come back, but once they come they will be tried
The bankers fled the country on allegations of externalising foreign
currency and running down their institutions. Over the past 14 months, the
government has been trying to have the bankers extradited with little
"One of the reasons for setting up that court is that there is a serious
backlog of cases that have to be dealt with by the commercial crimes court,"
"The issue of extradition of these people is being handled by another
In 2004, nine financial institutions namely Barbican, CFX Bank, CFX Merchant
Bank, Intermarket Banking Corporation, Intermarket Building Society,
Intermarket Discount House, Royal Bank of Zimbabwe, Time Bank and Trust
Banking Corporation were placed under the management of curators. - Staff
ZIMBABWE'S fishing industry is clutching at straws due to cheap imports that
the government is allowing into the country, with operators in the kapenta
sector contemplating shutting down their businesses.
Operators say they are facing stiff competition from imported fish products
that the government is allowing to flood the local market.
The price of fresh kapenta has remained subdued and not in tandem with
inflation because of cheap fish products that are being imported from
Mozambique and Namibia. Zimbabwe imports mackerel from Namibia and
Stakeholders who met in Kariba last week said the industry is heading for
doom because of the unavailability of fuel, which has become too expensive.
Operators at the meeting said their situation has been worsened by the
Zambian illegal traders who were luring Zimbabwean fishermen into side
trading for forex.
"The price of fuel is about $90 000 a litre and fish is sold for $80 000 a
kg, making fishing not viable," a Kapenta Fisheries spokesman said. "Several
companies are not going to start fishing after the October full moon until
The spokesman said some companies have been forced to close because of huge
losses they are incurring in their operations.
"Most companies are operating a huge loss and holding on to their fish in
the hope that the price would improve. Zambezi Fisheries has already closed
and paid their workers up to the end of December," he said.
The stakeholders said the illegal selling of fresh kapenta on the lake has
risen to account for up to 50% of the catches as the security personnel fail
to procure fuel to patrol the lake and reduce side-trading.
Stakeholders also said some of the fishing companies were likely to be
pushed out of business by the ever-rising licensing fees that being charged
by the Department of National Parks. A fishing licence currently costs $15
million for a year and there are fears that it could rise to $20 million by
LESS than 40 days ahead of Christmas, it might be too early to scribble a
festive season wish-list until Finance minister Herbert Murerwa presents his
budget on December 1.
Murerwa will have to do a balancing act of trying to please both the
government and the people who are already poverty-stricken because of rising
An increase in the budget means that working people will have to pay more in
taxes to sustain government's spendthrift ways.
If he widens the tax bands, as many people would want him to, the government
will have less to spend and could borrow heavily.
Analysts say Murerwa would be in a Catch-22 situation of trying to feed too
many mouths from a very small cake which the government has already pillaged
through massive domestic debt to fund last year's shortfall.
Murerwa would also need to deliver a budget that relates to the monetary
policy presented last month. But analysts warn that the budget is likely to
contain the same old piece-meal measures that are not enough to achieve
The budget was supposed to be presented on the traditional last Thursday of
this month, but this has now been moved to the first week of next month.
For the 2005 financial year, Murerwa presented a $27,5 trillion budget, an
increase of 215% from the previous year. There are, however, fears that next
year's budget could grow by more that 300% because government has not done
anything to cut its bloated wage bill which has been taking a significant
chunk of the previous budgets. Government's revenue streams are however
drying up as more people are retrenched with companies closing. This year,
total revenues are expected to be $23 trillion, resulting in a $4,5 trillion
Three-quarter way through the year, Murerwa presented a $3,4 trillion
supplementary budget in August, which he blamed on drought.
One of the major problems which the government has failed to do is to assist
the productive sectors.
Over the years, recurrent expenditure has been more than capital allocations
which exerts pressure on inflation. In any properly run country, recurrent
expenditure should be covered by recurrent revenue, which will result in the
state generating its own income rather than resorting to getting money from
the central bank.
Some of the projections made by the Finance minister in November last year
such as a rise in gross domestic product have collapsed. So has the promised
rise in agricultural production.
Murerwa had hoped that by year-end, inflation would be between 30-50% but it
is now 411%.
The government had also hoped for the restoration of positive real growth
rates targeted at 3-5% but this was not to be, as this has now been revised
During the budget presentation, the government had undertaken to support
agricultural land utilisation so as to guarantee food security and a surplus
for export, but 11 months down the line very little progress has been made
to revive the agriculture sector.
While Reserve Bank governor Gideon Gono and Vice President Joseph Msika
speak out against invasions, State Security minister Didymus Mutasa is
threatening to evict more commercial farmers.
Analysts said the government will also need to create a conducive operating
environment to arrest de-industrialisation through the protection of local
companies from subsidised cheap imports.
Although the country managed to offset its International Monetary Fund
arrears by US$135 million, there is still need for the government to support
foreign exchange generation and move towards market-determined policies.
The government will also have to take bold measures to build confidence in
the economy with a view of promoting savings and investments.
By Alex T Magaisa
THE International Monetary Fund (IMF) commended the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe
(RBZ) for measures applied to reinforce supervision, corporate governance
and risk management in the financial sector in the wake of the crisis.
Like a determined firefighter, the RBZ has tried to extinguish the rising
flames not only in the financial sector but generally in almost every sphere
of the economy. Apart from the points of criticism on the approach and
mechanisms used in some instances, the IMF conclusion represents a fair view
of the general efforts of the RBZ particularly considering that it has
worked under remarkably difficult political and economic conditions.
It is particularly significant that two key elements of the RBZ efforts have
been, firstly, a risk-based approach to supervision and, secondly, improving
corporate governance structures in financial institutions, which hitherto
were a shambles.
Nonetheless, the gains achieved have been somewhat undermined by the recent
amendment to the banking legislation, which requires the governor of the RBZ
to consult with the Minister of Finance prior to granting or withdrawing
licences to financial institutions. This amendment is a danger to efficient
financial regulation and as the IMF rightly pointed out, it represents a
In brief terms, the amendment effectively means that the RBZ no longer has
the autonomy to make a determination on the suitability of an applicant
getting a licence or a licensed bank continuing as a player in the market.
The RBZ is the premier supervisory authority in the financial sector and
prior to this amendment was responsible for licensing banks into the sector
and withdrawing licences from unsuitable banks.
Given the history of regulation of banks, the recent amendment surely
appears to be a retrogressive step. Prior to 2004, the Ministry of Finance
had the power to authorise applicants in the banking sector. On the other
hand, the RBZ had the power to supervise the banks once they had been
authorised by the ministry.
This was an obvious anomaly in the regulatory system because the RBZ as the
supervisory authority did not have the control over the key authorisation
process, which was in the hands of politicians. The granting of the
authorisation power to the RBZ in 2004 was therefore an overdue correction
of an anomaly that had caused unsuitable banks to be authorised by the
ministry while the RBZ had no control over the process.
In any modern system of regulation, it is recognised that the task of
regulation involves a number of key processes of which authorisation and
supervision are at the centre. The body that supervises banks should have
the power to authorise their entry into the sector in the first place.
This allows it to check whether taking into account all factors, the
applicant is a fit and proper person to be allowed to conduct banking
business. Doing this requires a good measure of independence,
professionalism and appropriate techniques of judging whether one is fit and
This is particularly important in the modern era where risk-based approaches
to supervision and corporate governance occupy centre-stage. It means that
the supervisory authority must assess the risk factors at the stage of
authorisation as well as at the point when considering whether or not to
withdraw the licence.
This systematic risk-based approach is therefore used at authorisation,
supervision and checking whether or not to cancel a licence. Because it will
be responsible for supervision in future, the regulatory authority has
greater incentive to ensure the application of a risk-based assessment of
the corporate governance systems from the first stage of authorisation.
A properly equipped regulatory authority should have the experience and
skills to deal with these approaches. This is a marked difference from the
previous system where the ministry was involved - which not only lacked the
expertise but also had no sufficient incentive to apply a risk-based
approach because its interest ended at the point of authorisation because it
had no responsibility for supervision.
Now, the reversion to the involvement of the ministry in the authorisation
and cancellation processes will have negative impact on the independence and
efficiency of bank regulation. It means that the RBZ no longer has the
autonomy to apply its professional judgement without political influence.
Political influence harms effective regulation because it privileges
partisan interests at the expense of key prudential aspects of supervision.
It introduces the risk that unsuitable applicants will be granted licences
in disregard of their weaknesses.
It also ushers the risk that otherwise insolvent institutions will be
allowed to remain afloat simply because politicians with an interest wish to
protect their personal investments and deposits which they would have
imprudently made in disregard of risks. Such measures could ultimately make
it difficult to contain contagion in the financial markets, affecting the
very purpose of banking regulation.
More importantly, given that the state is a major player in the finance
industry, its involvement in authorisation and cancellation of licences has
the potential to distort the market and regulation. The state has massive
influence in a number of financial sector institutions and it is difficult
to see how it would allow their failure even in the face of obvious risks
because of its vested interests.
In this regard, what is of major concern is the effect of this amendment on
the uniformity of application of regulatory laws. Because the state is
likely to be biased towards its own banks, there is a risk that put in the
wrong hands the regulatory laws could be applied more harshly to private
Even the RBZ might fall into the same trap because of its vested interests
in institutions such as the Zimbabwe Allied Banking Group (ZABG), which it
created from the forced (and contested) merger of Trust Bank and Royal Bank
In the latter case, critics could point out that the RBZ has great interest
in seeing that its baby is seen to be doing well and surviving the difficult
circumstances surrounding its controversial birth. Given its vested
interests how likely is it that it will not apply the laws in the same way
as it does in relation to other players? Already there have been murmurs
suggesting that the ZABG is being treated with kid gloves with numerous
correspondence in the press pointing to corporate governance shortcomings,
The close relation to the ZABG exposes the RBZ to charges of lack of
independence and bias, which affects confidence in the market. It could also
undermine the RBZ's moral authority over other players in the market,
regardless of the legal powers that it wields under the law. How does it
chide others when it is seen to be lax towards its own creation? That poses
Such a case reminds us of the proposal made in this column last year which
has been echoed in other articles by fellow writers and analysts - that is,
of the need to create an autonomous, integrated financial services
This body would have no direct or indirect interest in the institutions that
it supervises. China has done this by taking regulatory power from its
central bank to the China Banking Regulatory Authority, following similar
approaches in the UK, which gave power to the Financial Services Authority
from the Bank of England in the 1990s.
Finally, it is ironic that at a time when more power should be given to an
independent regulator, the state is diluting the independence by usurping
some of the powers. The rationale given is to protect the public interest
but surely, if we have an independent regulator, why should we not trust its
The amendment simply provides an avenue to exert political influence
probably to safeguard partisan interests. Perhaps politicians were unable to
withdraw their deposits and investments in time when the RBZ closed banks
and placed them under curatorship last year. So they probably want the
minister to be "consulted" so that upon such "consultation" the privileged
can quickly secure their money before closure.
If rules should apply, they should apply to all and there is no need to
"consult" where the team of professional regulators has seen it fit to close
the institution or place it under curatorship. What really is the
"consultation" intended to achieve other than informing the privileged few
of impending danger and therefore the need to take cover?
What would the minister do that the professionals at the RBZ would have
failed to achieve after rigorous examination? Under this new regime
characterised by the dilution of the RBZ's powers, we might yet see more
unsound banks entering the market or more weak institutions being allowed to
remain afloat on the basis of political expediency.
* Dr Alex T Magaisa is a specialist in economic and financial services law.
He can be contacted at email@example.com
WRITING in a South African on-line edition in June, Ian McDonald had this to
say about the quota system in sport: "Affirmative action in the workplace
and team quotas on the sports field are short-term solutions to a long-term
challenge. It attempts to address imbalances today, with debatable
effectiveness. A longer term, sustainable solution is the equal provision of
education, opportunities and resources to all South Africans.
"This is what is happening at our schools and sports academies. Today, young
South Africans are emerging, multi-racial and equal, and they are taking
their rightful places in South African society. Today, young black sports
stars are representing our country in greater numbers. Today, young black
skilled professionals are charging up the corporate ladder. Tomorrow, no one
will care that they're black, white, pink or green."
He was reacting to the young Springboks multiracial side's winning the
junior rugby world cup. His words are instructive in post-apartheid South
Africa where the issue of achieving the right racial balance in sport,
especially rugby and cricket, has been a subject of emotive debate on either
side of the racial divide.
While some of the comments from sports pundits in South Africa have bordered
on outright racialism, the crucial endgame has been that the opposing sides
both believe that sport should be the winner and the two sports in SA have
done just that.
The same cannot be said of Zimbabwe where government is a virtual spectator
as sports administrators tear each other apart under the guise of achieving
the right racial mix in former minority sports. In fact, what can the
government do when it has promoted a violent form of affirmative action as
exemplified by the land reform programme?
The inept thinking that affirmative action is achieved by bringing down the
privileged to the same platform as the disadvantaged is evident in sport.
Then there are the naïve former members of the privileged class who believe
it is their right to play and administer the sports to preserve tradition.
Both parties have one thing in common. They are employing a huge amount of
energy to destroy sport.
The events in cricket, which I have followed with keen interest and which
this paper has written about extensively, are panning out to be a tragedy
starring individuals with huge egos. Do I see white administrators who have
felt hard done by their loss of grip in the running of the sport and black
officials who are keen to make a point that the scales have tilted and
"Zimbabwe will never be a colony again"?
In between, there are opportunists who have switched sides with the
regularity of a pendulum - all depending on which side is holding sway. I
will be exposing this lot soon. More worryingly though is a dangerous lot
with an undisguised appetite to want to stir trouble, use violence and
pretend to be working with or for government.
In the mid-1990s I watched the same greedy individuals being given a licence
by the government to destroy rugby under the guise of achieving the right
I recall the days when gullible officials at the Ministry of Education,
Sport and Culture and the Sports and Recreation Commission would pretend to
intervene in the problems bedevilling the sport while at the same time
holding secret meetings with individuals who eventually chased away
sponsors, good administrators and good players from rugby. They have moulded
the sport into what it is today: a caricature of the great team that was a
marvel to watch even when being massacred by Griqualand West in the Bankfin
The rugby tragedy is being replayed in cricket with seemingly the same
objective of destroying the sport to achieve political ends. I see the sport
failing to recover from the current throes as long as administrators make it
as apparent as possible that they do not want to work to achieve peace which
is important in improving our now embarrassing record with bat and ball.
The situation in cricket is not going to improve as long as the blame game
continues to feature larger than the forlorn Test players who also feature
for junior and reserve sides. Convince me that all those billions officials
appear to be fighting over have been used for the good of the game!
There is not going to be a breakthrough as long as letters detailing serious
allegations against Zimbabwe Cricket chairman Peter Chingoka and chief
executive Ozias Bvute appear on the cricket websites before their delivery
to the local body and International Cricket Council. There is not going to
be progress in the game as long as ZC leaders use the race card to skirt
problems which must be attended to urgently.
Talking to cricket administrators this week, I picked up unfortunate
statements like: "the blacks killed rugby and we (the whites) cannot allow
them to kill cricket" and that "whites who lost the land are still bitter
and they do not want to let go of cricket". All this in the name of
improving Tawanda Mpariwa's bowling figures or that Brendan Taylor matures
into a reliable opener?
If the administrators genuinely represent the interests of sport, they
should begin dialogue aimed at uplifting the game and not the dogfight to
prove who is right or wrong. At the moment the feuding parties are all
culpable in the slow death of cricket.
By Denford Magora
ALTHOUGH the MDC fight over the senate election is only a manifestation of
deep-rooted ideological schizophrenia, it also represents the best chance
for the party to overcome its moribund status and paralysis. The movement
that was created and carried by momentum has been, for some time now, up the
creek without a paddle. With the popular momentum gone, the party appeared
lethargic, resigned and indeed unconcerned with daily woes. This almost
single-minded focus on attaining power had left many supporters confused.
Mass movement slogans such as "Mugabe must go now" etc have proved
inadequate to galvanise the masses.
The palpable immediacy of the MDC agenda at its inception attracted hordes
of supporters only because through this movement, they could see the light
at the end of the tunnel. But that light has been receding ever since.
As Adolf Hitler (surprisingly) said just before he was elected Chancellor of
Germany, a mass movement cannot sustain itself purely by being popular. "We
must come to power soon, or we'll win ourselves to death in elections," he
was reported as saying to Josef Goebels at the time.
Movements, it is true, succeed on the basis of creating an urgent need to
correct matters before they slide further. The MDC did this very well at the
beginning. But power has proved elusive. Three elections on, the party still
has no power. Even its mayors are emasculated wantonly by Mugabe and his
minions and all the opposition party does is grumble a bit.
The movement failed to keep the momentum going. Long-drawn out court battles
and electoral challenges meant that the party all but deserted the streets
and took the fight to air-conditioned lawyers' offices and foreign
presidents' VIP lounges. Meetings, rallies and even mass communication
slowed to a trickle. The agitation (vital for the success of a movement)
degenerated into monosyllabic insults and sloganeering. Live-wire contact
with the masses all but disappeared.
With it went any hope of convincing Zimbabweans of the immediacy of their
crises and the pitiless inferno they would plunge into should they sit back
and be apathetic.
Some of this was a consequence of flawed strategy. It is too common a
mistake to confuse assumptions for facts. (Assuming, for instance, that
Mugabe had enough of a conscience to resign when he saw that there was no
fuel, food, foreign currency and even tissue paper in the country was one
assumption which led Morgan Tsvangirai to claim that Mugabe would be gone
within six months, and that was a couple of years back.) Some of it was
oversight or laziness on the part of those charged with organising the
party. The MDC ward and district structures at the moment, for instance,
come nowhere near Zanu PF in terms of organisation. All this should have
been evident to the party leadership and personnel should have been shifted
or replaced. That the MDC leadership ignored this messy state of affairs in
the organisation of
the party is why the festering boil within the opposition party has now
The MDC would be wise to lance that boil now rather than try and cover it up
with a bandage. The decline in the influence and visibility of the MDC to
the masses happened on Tsvangirai's watch. For too long, there appeared to
be no vision or agenda within the party and its leadership.
When this was pointed out, the response was often a dismissive side-swipe to
the critics. This only added to the view that the people's problems were a
side issue to the MDC leadership. The real issue to the leader of the party
was the assumption of the presidency.
But the electorate does not forgive those who think that their personal
ambitions are also the ambitions of the people. They are not. Admittedly, it
is not as though Tsvangirai consciously chose to rally the nation purely
around his assumption of power. It is tactics, actions and words that have
formed this impression.
The psychology of the masses is such that they will always want proof of
what benefit will accrue to them for backing one horse over the other. It is
like mass gambling, where the gamblers weigh up the odds and, once
convinced, will cheer their horse to the finish line, no matter what
So, it is the leadership and leadership style of Tsvangirai that has put the
MDC where it is today. It is he who has taken the decisions. If he does
accept that, as leader, the buck stops with him, he should also take
responsibility for the way the party has waned since is heyday. Having done
so, the decent thing would be for him to admit that his leadership and
strategies have failed to all intents and purposes. Hiding behind
"collective leadership" is not leadership. Nor is imposing your flawed will
on your party. Always blaming others is also not leadership. For, indeed, if
you are forced down, you have no choice but to struggle up. It is no use
bearing the burden and pointing to your tormentor every time someone asks
what you are doing to free yourself.
This, then, is a golden opportunity for the MDC to reinvent itself. To
reinvigorate its leadership. To give the party a new sense of direction,
urgency and purpose. New blood it must be. The party, yes, is bigger than
one person as are the hopes of millions upon millions. It must be do or die.
The party must find the courage to wean itself off its hitherto ineffectual
leader and to choose a new team. Only this will give the opposition a new
sense of purpose.
So the sword must not be sheathed until Tsvangirai is axed. He should go. It
is to be hoped that if this happens, Tsvangirai, like some leaders of the
opposition in Britain who resign when they fail to win two elections in a
row, will stay in the party and pledge his support for a new, more
energetic, more focused and more strategically sound leader.
Indeed, he should stay on in the party and, should it attain power, be
appointed to a senior cabinet position. If his heart is with the people, he
will step aside and make room for a new broom.
Should he continue to be intransigent, on the other hand, those of us who
have all along feared the making of another dictator will be vindicated.
Then the party should dump him. They must not pay any attention to the usual
suspects who have, in the past, fatuously claimed that the man has to be
good and democratic because "he was the product of a democratic process".
Keep in mind that even Hitler, the worst dictator of all time, was elected
democratically in the first instance.
It has to come to Tsvangirai being fired if he won't resign because this
really is the last chance saloon for the MDC. The party will either be made
or broken by how it ends this crisis and infighting. The only way to take
the party forward is to remove Tsvangirai from the leadership. All that this
debacle has revealed is the MDC leader's failure to provide an alternative.
He has failed to present a strong enough case to even the majority of his
executive team. That is why they voted for participation. He wants them to
stay out of the polls but has not presented a credible case for alternative
action. Had he done so and persuaded his team that his plan would bring the
party closer to its goals than participation would, then the vote would have
gone his way. I, like many other Zimbabweans, would rather Tsvangirai lead
by persuasion rather than force and iron fist. We've had enough of "African
strongmen". What we need now are "men of reason" and "men of the people".
Tsvangirai is turning out to be neither of these. If anything, the evidence
on the ground points to another Mugabe or Mobutu in the making. My way or
the highway. The party and the people, if they want to save the MDC, should
turn around and tell the MDC leader exactly that: "Our way or the highway".
* Denford Magora is a Harare-based advertising executive.
By Chido Makunike
AS economic problems mount and mass starvation looms in Zimbabwe, there have
been frequent calls from various politicians that re-distributed land be
used productively by the recipients. Among officials who have appealed for
increased productivity on the farms are Vice President Joice Mujuru, Lands
and Security Minister, Didymus Mutasa, and Reserve Bank governor, Gideon
Gono. After several years of refusing to face up to the reality of what a
disaster the Mugabe government's agricultural policies have been, panic is
setting in at their calamitous effects.
Whatever one's political leanings or feelings about the farm expropriations
of recent years, I think everybody agrees we need to find a way to urgently
restore confidence and productivity in agriculture. But let us for a moment
put ourselves in the shoes of a serious new farmer and look at just a few of
the range of structural problems arrayed against him or her.
For the purpose of the point I am making, I will not dwell on obvious, now
long-running impediments to business in general and farming in particular
like the non-availability or non-affordability of various inputs. We all
know that tractors and machinery are hard to come by and that there simply
isn't enough diesel to go around anyway. There's no need any longer to
mention foreign currency problems and their effects on productivity, nor the
effects of hyperinflation.
But suppose you were a mythical farmer who somehow had a way around this
litany of barriers to any realistic prospect of doing serious farming. Even
if you were this imaginary farmer with all the inputs, capital, machinery
and some hedge against the effects of inflation, what would be your
realistic chances of success?
I would say except for a few who are either particularly well connected or
unusually gifted in business, the odds are very much stacked against you in
One of the main reasons for this is the complete breakdown in the bond of
trust between the rulers and those they rule over. Over many years the
Mugabe regime has insured that no one, supporter or foe, can any longer
attach credibility to its assurances about security of tenure, respect for
the law and other basics required for an individual or corporate entity to
want to assume any significant risk. And yet this kind of sense of
confidence in the fairness and predictability of the system is just what is
required for a farmer to take on the risk of planting hundreds or thousands
of hectares of a crop. She/he must have confidence that if they plan
carefully and work hard and if the weather cooperates, they have a
reasonably good chance of reaping the fruits of their labour and of their
willingness to take risk.
But in Zimbabwe a farmer has so much more to worry about than even these
significant factors that farmers everywhere must compute in their
decision-making. How do you know that if you do really well you will not
simply be opening yourself up to being a victim of some greedy government or
ruling party official jealous of your success? If that official decides they
want your crop, livestock or property, we now have definite evidence over
several years that there is simply nothing you can do to stop it all being
taken away from you. This process began first against the unpopular white
farmers, but now even a ruling party official has to worry about a bigger
fish in the structure being able to displace him or her by sheer force.
The police or army will not come to your aid; the courts are compromised -
helpless and mostly unheeded by their political controllers.
Mashonaland governor Nelson Samkange was last year involved in an
embarrassing situation of hi-jacking the tobacco crop of a new farmer he had
asked to till "his" land since he couldn't do it and yet wanted to give the
appearance of using the farm he had been allocated.
There have been many cases of communities displaced from land they had been
allocated to make way for some "big fish". Regardless of whatever assurances
are given about prices and freedom to market one's crops as he sees fit, we
now know that at any moment there could be a directive reversing the
assurances under which you made the decision to grow a certain crop,
throwing all your financial projections, in fact virtually your whole life,
right out the window at a moment's notice and with absolutely no recourse
whatsoever. We have seen all this happen over the years and it continues.
Every now and then some minister or other official gives "assurances" that
new farmers will soon be issued with 99-year leases to give them security of
tenure and confidence to make long-term plans and investments, a necessary
part of successful farming.
Tell me now, how many new farmers are going to really have confidence that
the "99-year lease" issued by the regime of Mugabe is worth the paper it is
written on given all the policy contradictions and reversals we have
witnessed in the last several years? With a regime like this, does it really
make business sense to take out a huge farming loan secured by one's house
for instance, in the present environment of chaos and cynicism?
Is this the kind of environment in which one makes the long-term, difficult
decision to become a serious farmer? I would argue that the conditions of a
lack of confidence in the system of ruling the country only encourages the
quick-buck "dealer" mentality that is so inimical to any hope of serious
farming or any other kind of investment.
Because of this overall sense of insecurity that has been engendered by the
ruling regime, it makes selfish, personal sense for one to try to engage in
activities that are as low-risk and low-investment as possible. This is why
under the current conditions it is simply inevitable that a "farmer" with
any significant access to fuel, for instance, would rather trade it for a
quick killing than invest it in the long-term very high risk activity of
actually farming. You don't know if you will realistically make a return on
the investment, you don't know if you will stay ahead of inflation, you
don't know if you can service your machinery, you cannot even be confident
that you will still be on your farm six months from now!
The same lack of confidence in the government, the future and the whole
system also contributes significantly to the preference for speculating with
forex rather than the long, hard slog of investing it in productive
activities that would be more beneficial to the nation and to development.
It is no secret at all in Harare that those who are the biggest forex
speculators are some of the very same hypocrites who harangue us to be
"patriotic" when their activities glaringly show their own lack of
confidence in the future of the system they are running! If this were not
true they would be busy opening factories in every industrial area and their
farms would be showpieces for us to emulate. But no, they are fully aware
that the foundation of the system they are at the centre of is made of sand
and could fall apart at any moment. This is the confidence crisis I'm
Gono, Mujuru and all the rest decrying the under-utilisation of land, you
are wasting your time. Your concerns are entirely valid but the neglect and
rape of the land that we are currently witnessing is the inevitable result
of the chaos, confusion and utter lack of confidence that the people of
Zimbabwe have developed about their destructive, shifty rulers. The problem
is that even if by some miracle Mugabe were to accept this premise of a
crisis of confidence and even earnestly tried to change his government's
ways, I don't think there is enough time available to this regime to reclaim
that lost confidence of the people.
I have chosen to give the example of how this crisis of confidence almost
rules out any prospects of productivity in the short-term in respect to
agriculture. But in reality it now affects everything else. The IMF happily
accepts money paid to it but when the alarm is sounded about the origin of
the forex, it refuses to believe Gono's assurances that it was raised
without trampling on the rights of bank depositors to their forex. They
instead choose to investigate for themselves where the money came from than
to believe Gono.
George Charamba, you have recently whined about the unfairness of the IMF
being so tough on Zimbabwe when poorer countries that owe more than Zimbabwe
are treated softly. "It's part of the world-wide conspiracy against my
master Cde Mugabe" seems to be the best you can come up with to explain the
dichotomy. A big part of it is that Zimbabwe's reputation is now in the
gutter because of the ruinous actions of its ruling regime over many years -
simply another way of saying the world has no confidence in the ability of
that regime to undo the destruction it has visited on Zimbabwe. It is a
crisis of confidence.
An embattled ruler goes to Rome and in his grandstanding stunts to the world
mentions his support of several oil-producing regimes to curry favour with
them. They slap him on the back, stroke his ego and give him rhetorical
support but not one of them turns on the oil taps to help his oil-parched
Millions of Zimbabweans abroad could significantly improve their homeland's
forex situation but apart from the obvious issue of exchange rates, many do
not have confidence in the way their country is being run by the present
rulers to repatriate funds, not just as a way to assist family, but as a
All these are symptoms of the crisis of confidence. The crisis is such that
even members of the regime themselves exhibit behaviour that shows their
complete lack of faith and confidence in the workability and sustainability
of an obviously crumbling system.
Things have deteriorated too far in Zimbabwe to any longer be dealt with in
a patchwork manner like threats of more farm evictions based on productivity
or the lack thereof. Threats of arrests or this or that sanction won't do
it. The whole system has become so sick and dysfunctional, the people so
alienated from it that Zimbabwe will only have a chance of stopping its
continued sliding and then eventually moving forward again when that whole
system is overhauled. In the meantime all the initiatives, policies,
speeches, threats and pleas for people to pull together are just a waste of
time. It cannot happen in a society where the people are so at odds with
* Chido Makunike is a Zimbabwean writer based in Senegal.
By Rejoice Ngwenya
THE Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) is not "just another" political
party. It is a pot-pourri of sub-cultures, attitudes, symbolisms and
perceptions that coagulated against tyranny in 1999 when the lifeblood of
Zimbabwean ubuntu/unhu was sapped of political oxygen and when a few
citizens summoned enough courage to transfuse a spirit of rebellion into a
nation that was progressively sinking into a state of resignation.
In a marketing context, this party is a popular brand that has swallowed up
investments worth billions and sucked in millions in man-hours of human
expertise oozing from an impressive array of academics, professionals, trade
persons, business people, trade unionists and activists. The long and short
of the scenario is that the chances of an expensively assembled brand being
totally obliterated on the basis of change of executive guard are minimal.
In fact, as much as it would take a major human and corporate catastrophe to
erase brand names such as Coca Cola, Microsoft and Nike from the marketing
landscape, both the Herald and ZBC will have to pour billions of dollars in
taxpayers' money into a bottomless pit before their propaganda converts me
to the illusion of inevitability of the death of political opposition in
My humble submission today is that the new struggle for self-determination
in Zimbabwe is no longer about individuals, but the critical leverage of a
swelling tide of anger and resentment bottled up in the masses, which will
break the barriers through spontaneous rather than organised peaceful
rebellion. In other words, ivory tower leadership will no longer bankroll
the new struggle against dictatorship, but isolated pockets of
community-based street action that will converge at some virtual rendezvous
to drive out the oppressors. MDC, Zanu PF and UPM leadership may be caught
in the "float-sum" of deflated lifeboats on high seas, eventually submerged
and rendered totally dysfunctional at the hour of need.
I despise the views of armchair political analysts who interpret the current
happenings in the MDC boardroom as a sign of imminent destruction of
opposition politics. In managing a highly popular brand, executives worth
their salt know that a change of leadership is not only necessary for
corporate innovation, but has a way of inciting sustainability and longevity
in marketing and promotional programs. When a chief executive departs from
an organisation, this would not necessarily signal the demise of a popular
brand. Therefore the ramblings and murmuring, contradictions and
confrontations in MDC are pre-requisite for human resource distillation
whose result is only one - an emergence of leadership purity.
The MDC brand is bigger than Morgan Tsvangirai and Welshman Ncube. It is a
summation of death, commitment, pain, tears and laughter. Aesthetically,
this may be deceiving, but the benefits derived from using the brand go
beyond the satisfaction of merely voting against authoritarian rule. It is,
by nature, an act of defiance against a system that has lost all traces of
humanity, a symbol of resistance, hope and faith that the end is nigh -
acceleration towards the eviction from our political history of one of the
most senseless dictatorships in the southern hemisphere.
To me, whether or not Tsvangirai, Ncube, Gift Chimanikire, Gibson Sibanda or
Isaac Matongo is the leader is not the issue. The focus of the struggle has
shifted from the stuffy boardrooms to the airy pastures, alleys, dual
carriageways, stadiums and shopping malls. In any case, we now know that
unlike Zanu PF, the purity of MDC's internal democracy is symbolised by the
dispensability of its leadership. It is mobility and usability that makes
leading brands sustainable and this longevity is not, or more accurately,
must not be mortgaged against personalities. Leading brands have lives of
their own - lives that transcend the character and nature of their founders.
To say Bill Gates is Microsoft is to borrow from Jonathan Moyo's myopic
political catchall phrase that: "Land is the economy and the economy is the
Therefore, in the interest of brand sustainability, MDC is not Tsvangirai,
Ncube at all. MDC is a concept, a culture and tradition of resisting a
largely gluttonous and self-serving dictatorship. In whatever name, by who's
ever leadership, justice and purity shall prevail over hegemony and tyranny.
Ubukhosi ngamazolo - chieftainship is like dew that survives only on the
benevolence and generosity of the sun. As the crescendo of resistance raises
the temperature around them, political misfits always destined to doom will
evaporate like dew, but the ground under their feet will remain solid, only
to nurture another seed of defiance. There is historical evidence that
primitive African tribes used to fight and haggle over chieftainship, but
this certainly did not kill the name! It was, is and will always be an
acceptable fact of life that in the political jungle, only the fittest
survive the contest for territorial control.
My message to the cadres of the new struggle against tyranny is to remain
focused on the mission. Let the fire burn out the impurities because it is
the only way this distillation process can produce purity. In the process of
reclaiming our individual dignity that has been mutilated by a shameless
dictatorship, amongst us new leaders will emerge, but this time they will be
urging us from the rear. It will no longer be a case of them pulling
strings, but merely responding to the tide of resistance.
In the 60s, 70s and 80s, it was acceptable to captain the team for thirty
years, but modern-day Zimbabwean political consumers demand high
The final round demands new and improved tactics, new methodology that does
not come with tinkering with the package, or simply changing signal tune. It
boils down to the fans breaching the security walls, invading the field and
puncturing the ball.
* Rejoice Ngwenya is a Harare-based writer.
THREE weeks after mooting plans to introduce a new currency, the central
bank has not said anything about what the new currency would be called, look
like or the reasons for the change.
Observers say the change will be useless without the political will to
restore economic and currency stability. They say a currency change without
addressing inflation, the foreign currency crisis and the broader
macroeconomic conditions will not improve the economy.
One of the major challenges the central bank will have to deal with is
government's gargantuan appetite for easy cash.
The central bank will also have to get the much-needed political support to
stabilise the economy, an issue government only makes a passing reference to
during election periods. Analysts also note that the central bank will have
to guard against market speculation and manipulation.
Speculation is generated either by self-fulfilling rational expectations or
by irrational herd behaviour. Apart from the challenges that RBZ governor
Gideon Gono faces in his latest plan, change in currency can only work if
the pubic has confidence in the political and economic system
It also needs massive assistance from donors and multilateral organisations
to stabilise the local currency. Analysts say until the Zimbabwe dollar is
stabilised through the injection of foreign currency there is no way a
currency change would improve the situation. Perhaps Gono's biggest hurdle
would be galloping inflation which is not expected to slow down anytime
Economist Daniel Ndlela said even if Gono was to remove three zeros from the
$1 000 note its value would not change. He warns: "In fact with inflation
this high the dollar would continue to lose value and would be back to the
three zeros in no time at all. I think Gono does not realise the challenges
he faces in this one (currency change)," Ndlela said.
"In any case I don't think the economic situation in Zimbabwe is conducive
for a currency change. I foresee chaos in the economy. We must remember that
a change in currency takes years to implement and not a few months as he
Analysts say if the RBZ adopts the Ugandan example of cleaving off zeros
across the board, things like salaries will have to be reconfigured, from a
million dollars to a hundred thousand. Products on shop shelves will have to
reflect the new configuration.
Uganda is one of the few countries that managed to successfully change its
currency but needed massive donor support, a stable economy and
international goodwill to achieve it. Yoweri Museveni in Uganda had
international sympathy and the people supported him. He might have been a
dictator politically but his economic policies were working. He managed to
reduce inflation, boost exports and create a stable economy. Analysts say
these are basic ingredients that Zimbabwe lacks at the moment.
Judging by the currency crisis that has affected the Asian tigers and
Zimbabwe, it has been noted that many currency crises reflect inconsistency
between domestic and exchange rate policies. The specific, highly simplified
form of that discrepancy in the Canonical Model may be viewed as a metaphor
for the more complex but often equally stark policy incoherence of many
The canonical currency-crisis model, as laid out by scholars such as Paul
Krugman, was designed to mimic the commodity-board story.
Krugman states that the upward trend in the "shadow" price of foreign
exchange - the price that will prevail after the speculative attack - is
supplied by assuming that the government of the target economy is engaged in
steady, uncontrollable issue of money to finance a budget deficit.
The central bank has been trying without much success to do that.
He said that despite this trend, the central bank was assumed to try to hold
the exchange rate fixed using a stock of foreign exchange reserves, which it
stood ready to buy or sell at the target rate.
To change a currency Zimbabwe will also need the support of its major
trading partners who are likely to be affected by the move. It means we
would need to negotiate with our neighbours such as South Africa and to
inform the International Monetary Fund.
A senior bank economist said while it was fine in theory to introduce a new
currency, he warned that it was bound to fail here because of the
hyperinflationary environment the country is operating in.
"Because of high inflation, this will make the introduction of a new
currency ineffective; alternatively it is better to introduce higher
denominated bearer cheques than a new currency as two years down the line we
might need another currency," the economist said.
"We risk having to introduce a new currency every five to six years. The
problem in Zimbabwe is that everything might change but government policies
will not change. So we will again be back to square one."
The central bank introduced bearer cheques at the height of currency
shortages in 2003.
The government argued that the local currency was being hoarded by dealers
and cross-border traders.
Currently Zimbabwe's inflation is around 365,9% but the International
Monetary Fund (IMF) estimates that it will rise beyond 400% by year-end.
Labour and Economic Research of Zimbabwe director and economist Godfrey
Kanyenze warned that Zimbabwe might be caught in the vicious cycle of
changing its currency every now and then.
He said what was now needed was to correct the country's skewed policies.
"Even if we are to start a new one cent it won't work. The value of a
currency is determined by a nation's fundamentals, something which is
completely out of this world for now," Kanyenze said.
"The real issue, which is political, is not being addressed. Unless there is
now new thinking among politicians, we risk reducing ourselves to a dog
chasing its own tail."
Before the economic meltdown, Zimbabwe used to have smaller currency
denominations such as 20 cents, 50 cents, and $1 but this has now been
reduced to nostalgic hearsay.
At one stage the central bank introduced a $5 coin but due to inflation even
the $1 000 note has lost its value.
Although Zambia, Zimbabwe's northern neighbour, once experienced a currency
crash, its fortunes were not as bad as Harare's since it had donors,
something that cannot be said of Zimbabwe.
Zimbabwe's controversial land reform policies have created a major rift with
international financial donors for balance of payments support, a vital
ingredient in any currency reform.
Eric Bloch Column
ONCE again, Zimbabwe's government is going into hysterical frenzy, ranting
and raving in a state of near delirium. In so doing, it is abetted by its
sycophantic media which has attained a pronouncedly "DELLirious" state in
its vitriolic mouthings against the United States ambassador to Zimbabwe,
Ever since the former British ambassador to Zimbabwe, Sir Brian Donnelly,
finished his tour of duty and departed Zimbabwe, government has been casting
far and wide for new targets of its abuse. It has desperately been seeking
new persons to blame for all that is ill in Zimbabwe (and that is a very
great deal!). Whilst it continues to pour forth its spurious allegations
against Tony Blair, Jack Straw, George Bush and Condoleezza Rice for their
supposed orchestration of sanctions, it inevitably also continues to ascribe
responsibility to its political opponents, to the minute white minority in
general, and to former white commercial farmers. But it is aware that its
invariably specious contentions against them ceases to have even the remote
semblance of credibility unless ongoing aggressive collaboration with people
on the ground, representative of the mythical foreign enemies, can be
identified as being the tools of those enemies.
Donnelly's outgoing forthright character had readily cast him as one that
government could convincingly blame for much, even if unsubstantiated by
anything concrete in fact. Thus, in a perverted sort of way, his departure
from the country was an immense loss to government. However, no matter how
great its faults, and no matter how often it is incapable, government is
particularly adept at making assumptions which it can then use to support
"finger-pointing" at alleged enemies. Thus, it has been delighted when
recent incidents involving the US ambassador readily convinced the paranoiac
government that he was bent upon the destruction of Zimbabwe, with his first
and foremost objective being the ousting of the government from office. That
there was no foundation to these paranoid conclusions was, and is,
irrelevant to government.
The first instance occurred when, on a US public holiday, which occasioned
the closure for the day of the US embassy in Harare, the ambassador sought
to relax by enjoying a stroll through Harare's Botanical Gardens. Then,
seeking to find the cafeteria for some light refreshments, he very evidently
inadvertently strayed into a "high security" area, being that part of the
Botanical Gardens adjoining the presidential residence. That he had not
noticed a warning sign (which was apparently not very prominent) is
irrelevant. Clearly, his presence was sinister in the extreme in the eyes of
the authorities, and the servile state media certainly made a meal of an
But then the ambassador did the unforgivable. Addressing a gathering at
Africa University, near Mutare, he had the astounding temerity to tell the
truth or, in fact, several home truths. And nothing hurts as much as does
the truth, so government was in a great deal of pain. The ambassador told
his audience that: "Neither drought nor sanctions are at the root of
Zimbabwe's decline. The Zimbabwe government's own gross mismanagement of the
economy and its corrupt rule has brought on the crisis." It is significant
to note that he neither denied a negative economic impact of sanctions or of
drought, but contended that those were not the root causes of the calamitous
state of the economy. On that he was indisputably right. The economy was in
a disastrous free-fall long before being afflicted by drought, and such
sanctions as exist against Zimbabwe are minimal in effect insofar as the
economy is concerned.
The reality is that Zimbabwe enjoyed a very significant economic upturn from
1994 to 1997, once government reluctantly embarked upon economic
deregulation, upon creation of an investment-conducive environment, upon
rational fiscal policies, upon stimulating tourism, and upon facilitating
new enterprise development. The economic future looked positive and bright.
However, after only three short years, government brought the economic
growth to a halt, and set the economy upon a devastating down hill path
towards near total collapse, widespread poverty, and untold misery.
Its first action in that direction was to succumb to the demands and the
threats of over 50 000 war veterans (real and pseudo). Of these, 32 000 had
entered assembly points at the end of the war for independence, but despite
an elapse of 17 years, entailing death of a probable 12 000 or more, leaving
only about 20 000 genuinely surviving war veterans, government entertained
compensation claims from 52 000. Of those, approximately 3 000 were 19 years
old in 1997, so they fought the war when they were two! About 1 000 were 16
years of age, so they fought the war before they were conceived! But they
demanded compensation packages, and government yielded to the demands,
fearing the consequences of not doing so. That burdened the fiscus with an
unsustainable commitment of many billions of, then valuable dollars,
necessitating recourse to massive borrowings, with an inevitable consequence
of soaring inflation. And government did so in total disregard for
widespread, informed, contrary advice.
That triggered "Black Friday", in November, 1997, on which day the
Zimbabwean dollar depreciated by 75%, as money markets foresaw the
consequences of government's foolhardy action. That currency depreciation
was the catalyst for further inflation, resulting only a month later in
violent food riots which, amongst other effects, destroyed almost all
The economy was then set for intensifying destruction, but government did
naught to halt the collapse. It resorted to "crisis management", being
wholly reactive instead of proactive, and unconstructively so.
Concurrently, it allowed corruption to become more and more pronounced,
irrespective of the concomitant economic negatives. By way of example, the
Chidyausiku Commission identified numerous instances of corruption and fraud
in respect of post-war compensation claims. However, years later, virtually
no prosecutions have resulted.
However, the economic "tsunami" was evidently not yet sufficiently great to
satisfy masochistic, myopic politicians, so they dug out (from under the
mounds of dust on ministry shelves) the 1991 enacted Land Acquisition Act.
Ignoring all proposals of collaborative and constructive land reform from
the Commercial Farmers' Union, government proceeded to annex and expropriate
thousands of productive farms and, in all too many instances, handed them
over according only to nepotistic criteria. Will and ability to farm was
generally irrelevant. Sound political connections prevailed. Some new
farmers worked assiduously to have productive operations, but many were
expecting immediate enrichment without effort. And many of those who did
were hindered by recurrent non-availability of governmentally promised
At the same time, government turned a blind eye to thousands of unlawful
farm expropriations, to murder, assault, vandalisation and theft applied by
many self-nominated, "get-rich quick" aspirant new farmers. The results
included the near total decimation of Zimbabwe's well-developed irrigation
infrastructures, making it near impossible to counter the effects of
drought. Agriculture was the economic foundation, and government shattered
Even now, when Vice President Msika and Reserve Bank governor Gideon Gono
call for a halt to farm invasions and farmer harassment, the invasions and
harassment continue and the authorities do nothing to halt them.
Insofar as sanctions are concerned, the only substantive sanctions are
targeted ones against the political hierarchy, including travel restrictions
and barriers to possession of foreign assets. These have no economic
consequences. Some cite the US Democracy Act as evidence of sanctions
against Zimbabwe for, in terms of that Act, many countries in Africa enjoy
favourable trade concessions on exports to the US under the Agoa Convention.
Those concessions are intended to reward adherence to the precepts of
democracy, but are not extended to countries such as Zimbabwe which pay lip
service to democracy, but do not practise its fundamentals. So Zimbabwe is
not barred from exporting to the US, but does not qualify for the special
concessions. That can hardly be construed as sanctions! Admittedly, some US
companies misinterpret that Act, to justify self-decisions to minimise
interaction with Zimbabwe, but their actions do not constitute
internationally imposed sanctions. Some countries no longer provide
developmental aid to Zimbabwe, but that is reactive to Zimbabwean abuses of
aid on all too many occasions, matched only by abuses of the donors.
Ambassador Dell was stating nothing but fact, but that fact was unpalatable
to government, and especially to its Minister of Foreign Affairs, Simbarashe
Mumbengegwi, and so the knives are drawn against the worthy ambassador. This
will undoubtedly alienate the international community further, and will
further tarnish Zimbabwe's much-blemished image, resulting in still further
ONCE again Ignatious Chombo has ignored the will of the people and taken
over the running of Chitungwiza council. Nobody was fooled by the alleged
demonstration by a rented Zanu PF crowd last week. We all know that the aim
was to seize power from popularly elected MDC officials.
The excuse for the takeover would be facile if the situation were not so
tragic. Chombo claimed the council was failing to deliver service to
residents. The councillors had failed to provide water and maintain the
sewerage system, charged Chombo as if he had just dropped in from Mars.
He didn't say anything about the situation in Harare where he had come from.
To its credit, the Herald had a biting sense of irony. Under the heading
"State takes over Chitungwiza" was a huge picture of bare-footed children
jumping across "raw sewage" in Kuwadzana Extension which is run by another
hopeless commission appointed by Chombo.
Did Chombo see the picture, telling better than the thousand words
chronicling the problems of Chitungwiza that pre-date the MDC? Why is Chombo
so quick to notice the speck in the Chitungwiza council's eye but cannot see
the log in his own? By the way, that picture would make a nice poster in
Sekesai Makwavarara's office.
US ambassador to Zimbabwe Christopher Dell appears to have given a hostage
to fortune in his comments on the country's economic situation. The patriots
in the state media are up in arms because they will not bear to hear the
truth told so openly.
The irony of course is that everyone of the enraged patriots is only too
glad to quote the offending line that "it is neither the drought nor
sanctions" that have caused Zimbabwe's headlong decline. "The Zimbabwe
government's gross mismanagement of the economy and its corrupt rule" had
brought on the crisis, said Dell, thus earning himself the umbrage of a
government used to blaming everyone but itself.
The Herald went further to claim that Dell's comments were "unbecoming and
undiplomatic" as if any amount of diplomacy could mask the unparalleled
national decay stinking as raw sewage.
The Herald reporter even had the cheek to pass a verdict that Dell faced
expulsion for his "repeated" meddling in the country's internal affairs.
Needless to say there was no evidence of the envoy ever having made similar
comments earlier, except for the alleged "trespassing" in the Botanical
Gardens last month.
Information secretary George Charamba warned then that Dell was lucky to be
alive after that incident. Now the Herald tells us he faces expulsion for
his "crimes" and could face prosecution in his country.
What tosh! The only charge Dell faces is not speaking out earlier.
We must say we were more than dismayed to read John Makumbe's Tough Talk in
defence of Morgan Tsvangirai's boycott option in The Zimbabwean this week.
First a matter of correction: Makumbe overstretched his fable about two
Zimbabweans forming five political parties. He went on to claim the MDC was
"six days" old. Even as hyperbole it doesn't work.
Then on Tsvangirai's position, state media already call him Mr Boycott, so
he needs no defending.
Makumbe went on to attack those who say they want to defend their turf where
Zanu PF has never won an election for advancing a fallacious and myopic
argument "since the dictator's party still governs those areas in every
sense of the word". He goes on: "To what effect has the keeping out of Zanu
PF from these areas been of benefit to the removal of the dictator from
office and the restoration of democracy and good governance?"
Good Lord, what is the world coming to? Is it the problem of the people of
Matabeleland that the MDC has failed to win parliamentary seats in
Mashonaland? And what's this nonsense about Zanu PF governing in areas where
it lost the election?
Whoever said a party with a majority of seats cannot rule in areas where it
has lost? Are there parts of the UK where Tony Blair doesn't rule because he
lost to the Conservatives there? Are there areas in the US where George Bush
doesn't rule because he lost to the Democrats there?
Closer to home, are there areas where Bingu wa Mutharika is not president
because he has ditched the party that brought him to power? We hope our
overzealous intellectual is not confusing a legitimate opposition party with
a rebel movement in the mould of the Lord's Resistance Army of Uganda!
We would understand it if Makumbe said the party was changing its strategy
to "remove the dictator" as he calls it. What is the new strategy now that
they have given up on the electoral process? How are they going to ensure
the "restoration of democracy and good governance" after the boycott? Are we
now going to see the final, final push we wonder?
It's a pity that people that one would expect to think more broadly and help
Tsvangirai do not appear to see beyond region or ethnicity.
Readers may recall that when the Access to Information and Protection of
Privacy Act was introduced in 2002 we were told the main thrust of this
deeply flawed legislation was to prevent "falsehoods" appearing in the
press. It was obviously targeted at the independent media and foreign
correspondents whose reporting the regime found unpalatable.
But its first showcase prosecution of Guardian correspondent Andrew Meldrum
collapsed as did nearly every subsequent case because the law was so badly
framed. Even extensive panel-beating failed to save the state from further
embarrassment. A case against Daily News journalists a few weeks ago (for
reporting to work!) didn't even make it to court because it was so
Now, as the regime struggles with growing international criticism, it is
having difficulty with its spin. We saw recently how deputy Information
minister Bright Matonga clumsily attempted to clarify remarks made by
Reserve Bank governor Gideon Gono on agricultural sabotage.
Matonga was not of course a disinterested party. A survey of productivity on
one of his farms would provide ample evidence for Gono's charges.
On Monday we were treated to an unedifying spat between the President's
Office and the Sunday Mail.
Political editor Munyaradzi Huni, formerly the regime's spinner-in-chief but
now under the surface, reported that President Mugabe would this week summon
US ambassador Christopher Dell and read him "the riot act" over his recent
comments on the crisis in Zimbabwe.
He would be asked why he was working with the British to compile "a false
report" on the humanitarian situation in Zimbabwe, Huni told us.
But then on Monday, the Herald carried a correction saying Huni's report was
false. A statement by George Charamba said it was not the business of the
President's Office, "let alone the president", to summon the US ambassador.
That was the responsibility of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. In any case,
the report did not reflect the feelings of the president, Charamba said.
Rubbing salt into the wound, Charamba went on the point out that this was
the same reporter that described Tobaiwa Mudede as Registrar of Elections
when he was Registrar of Voters. He had "once again got his facts wrong",
Now, what do we have here? Firstly, Huni's error in getting Mudede's
designation wrong is hardly a hanging offence. Any journalist can make that
sort of mistake. So long as it is speedily corrected there is no damage
done. Unless of course the regime is particularly sensitive about Mudede's
role in elections!
And if the president does not feel as aggrieved by Dell's remarks as the
state media evidently does, who is behind the "Send Dell to Hell" campaign?
But we doubt that the ambassador was exactly quaking in his boots at the
prospect of being summoned by the self-important Simbarashe Mumbengegwi
whose blabbering performance on Hardtalk is still the stuff of legend.
Our advice to the ambassador: take a pin. Once the hot air begins to
accumulate, apply the pin and stand back. Better to go out with a bang than
We liked the bit in the ambassador's speech, missed by the media, where he
refers to a visit by Anglo American boss Lazarus Zim.
"He related a telling story of his investment experience in Zimbabwe. Anglo
American, you might know, is a shareholder in Hippo Valley Estates, which is
under threat of seizure by the government.
"Mr Zim travelled to Zimbabwe to sort out the problem and was told to talk
to the new governor of Masvingo province. He approached the governor,
pointing out that Hippo Valley Estates had a contractual agreement with the
government to farm in Hippo Valley. The governor alleged no knowledge of
the agreement. Mr Zim then produced the contract, which happened to bear the
governor's own signature.
"To the Anglo American executive's astonishment, the governor blithely
passed off the contract as 'open to re-negotiation'. You can imagine the
lesson Mr Zim took back to Anglo American's board from this experience and
the consequences it has had on Anglo American's plans to invest further in
mining in Zimbabwe."
Mugabe's designation of 2005 as the Year of Investment also came under
"I understand President Mugabe designated 2005 the Year of Investment. Is
there no greater irony than bludgeoning property rights under the banner of
There is apparently a greater irony: Mugabe lecturing a FAO meeting on food
production in Rome. Dell spoke of the government's refusal to acknowledge
the widespread hunger that its policies have caused.
" . . . the grim irony of President Mugabe, who has presided over and led
this decline, lecturing the Food and Agriculture Organisation was lost on no
one - we and other donors are helping to feed over five million Zimbabweans".
Perhaps ambassadors of donor states in Dar-es-Salaam could convey this point
to President Benjamin Mkapa. While Tanzania may have adopted policies that
encourage agricultural production and a growing economy as well as a free
press and two-term presidents, aiding and abetting leaders who pauperise
their people is neither statesmanlike nor beneficial to anyone.
CZI president and ZSR boss Pattison Sithole should know better than to make
naïve remarks about the press. He believes "some media practitioners are
Zimbabwe's worst enemies, as evidenced by their concerted effort to rubbish
the country in the international arena", he told the Business Herald.
"I think some of you guys are careless and just too unfair on Zimbabwe."
Some journalists had "thrown ethics out of the window", he said, and were
embellishing their stories, "creating controversies out of nothing".
What was lacking was the "development dimension".
That should have set the alarm bells ringing. Development journalism is the
Siberia of professional journalism. It is to be found mostly in totalitarian
states and usually consists of first ladies opening chicken cooperatives in
places like Gokwe.
What the press should be doing is exposing the fantasies of Reserve Bank
governors and Ministers of Finance - not to mention naïve business leaders -
who think we should all be writing about turnarounds when there manifestly
aren't any. Who will speak the truth to power if we don't? Evidently not the
sweet- talking Sithole.
Why does Sithole think there should be more Pollyanna journalists looking at
the economic collapse all around us through rose-tinted glasses and then
describing it as a "challenge"? Isn't there a whole media industry in
Zimbabwe devoted to such deceit? Does he expect us to join it? Is that our
public responsibility - to pretend all is well when it isn't? Is that what
his members want?
He thinks we are "unfair" for ascribing responsibility where it belongs.
Where would he place it? And, by the way, why did the country run out of
sugar on his watch?
Let's provide a classic example of the sort of dissembling Sithole appears
to recommend. The business section of the Sunday News led on October 30 with
a story headed "High expectations ahead of budget".
The obvious question was: how could anybody have high expectations of this
government given its record? There then followed an interview with the ZNCC's
Luxon Zembe who spoke of the need for government to reduce expenditure and
the budget deficit to levels below 5%. He also spoke of the need for strong
political will on the part of government and the implementation of
consistent, rather than contradictory, policies.
Nothing wrong with that. Except of course anybody who expects Herbert
Murerwa to do anything different to what he has always done in a succession
of failed budgets needs counselling.
We doubt whether Zembe himself has "high expectations". He just pointed out
what needs to be done. There is a national consensus on what needs to be
done. But the government is ignoring it.
And Sithole is diverting public gaze by banging the patriotic drum. He is
denying to the public and his members a robust media that exposes
misgovernance and is not shy of controversy.
As we all know there is no "strong political will" to turn things around
because it means turning off the taps. It isn't going to happen. They can't
stop printing money because that's how they get by politically. That's their
"High expectations" from this delinquent gang? Which ministries will they
abolish? Which arms order will they cancel? Which paramilitary brigade will
they stand down? What single example of sacrifice will Murerwa announce on
December 1? Answers on the back of a postage stamp please.
Finally, after Chombo's blatant assault upon the civil liberties of the
people of Chitungwiza, does anybody feel sorry for Mrs Chombo, departing the
US embassy in tears after being refused a visa to watch her youngster
graduate from university in Texas? Does she know nothing of her husband's
SENIOR government officials last week, with a spring in their step, picked
their way through streams of sewerage and piles of rubbish in Chitungwiza
before they arrived at the town's offices to declare that government was
taking over the running of the local authority from the opposition MDC
Local Government minister Ignatious Chombo and his team appeared to have
made an important discovery: that the town had serious water and sewerage
Chombo, in sarcastic tones, berated the mayor Misheck Shoko for incompetence
and lack of attention to detail in the administration of the satellite town.
He also demanded that the council produce a turnaround programme in 24
The duplicity by the minister is breathtaking. This is a minister of a
government that has failed to come up with a workable economic blueprint in
the past decade. The evidence is there for all to see and Chombo should be
the first to admit that the situation in Chitungwiza is hardly new.
Former Zanu PF mayor Joseph Macheka is very familiar with sewerage streams
along streets and in open spaces. Ironically, a sewerage stream has been a
permanent landmark close to his St Mary's home. Zanu PF's Forbes Magadu's
footprints should also still be visible in the raw sewerage in the streets
It is fair to say that officials running local authorities in most of
Zimbabwe's urban areas have been found wanting resulting in poor service
But the biggest threat to local governance is Zanu PF's penchant for
control. It has gone out of its way to subjugate opposition in urban areas,
the case in point being the firing of MDC Harare mayor Elias Mudzuri in
The government has however no history of known competence in the running of
towns and cities - or indeed anything else! After the departure of Mudzuri,
the government took over the running of the capital and appointed political
turncoat Sekesai Makwavarara to be the state proxy at Town House. Chombo
claimed Mudzuri had failed to deliver on basic amenities and was corrupt.
We were promised that the new broom would sweep clean and restore the
capital to its former sunshine city glory. Nothing could have been further
from the truth. Makwavarara has nothing to show for her leadership in Harare
other than uncollected garbage, sewerage pools in high-density suburbs and
dry water taps in the eastern part of the city.
Chombo will naturally not ascribe the dire situation in parts of Harare to
incompetence on the part of Makwavarara and governor of Harare David
Karimanzira (by the way, what is his day job?) but cites other reasons like
shortage of foreign currency and sanctions.
Chombo, who has accepted the shortage of diesel as an excuse for the
non-collection of garbage in Harare when everybody else manages to cope, was
this week quoted as dismissing the same excuse in Chitungwiza.
Chombo is the embodiment of the destructive and incompetent hand of
government in local governance. The same hand that has failed to nurture
growth points and other rural service centres should not perhaps be expected
to perform any better in the more complex urban set up.
In urban areas where the government has taken over there are traits of
government's ineptitude, bureaucracy and wrong decisions in planning civic
affairs. Chombo's fingerprints are all over the malfunctioning robots in
Harare, the crumbling sewerage and water treatment plants, and poor lighting
on major roads. His prints can be traced back to potholes and uncovered
manholes on Harare's roads.
He is the problem.
The assault on the civic authorities in Chitungwiza is part of a broad
strategy by Chombo to directly run towns and cities. That way, residents
associations - construed to be in alliance with the opposition -- are
rendered dysfunctional while Zanu PF consolidates its stranglehold on cities
and towns despite losing elections.
Residents have no obligation to support ministerial appointees brought in at
the expense of elected councillors and mayors. There has not been any
tangible investment in any of the major towns because of the economic
collapse. Revenue from rates has not grown concomitantly with demand for
capital to implement capital projects.
No international financier will give Zimbabwe's local authorities loans or
grants because of President Mugabe's hostile politics. Resultantly, the
ageing sewerage and water reticulation plants cannot be repaired or
replaced. In its wisdom, government has launched housing projects in urban
areas which do not have sufficient infrastructural capacity to support new
Put simply, there is no basic planning by central government to ensure that
cities and towns thrive, nor is there a climate conducive to investment. We
would like to advise Chombo to wake up and smell the coffee. But the stench
of sewerage probably prevents that!