By Caiphas Chimhete
MOST new commercial farmers who occupiedformerly white-owned farms during
the controversial land reform programme, are reportedly failing to pay their
workers stipulated wages because of low production levels over the past
three years, The Standard has been told.
Apart from that, the gazetted monthly wages for farm workers are
pathetically low that most of them are living in abject poverty.
Deputy secretary of the General Agricultural Plantation Workers Union of
Zimbabwe (GAPWUZ), Gift Muti, said the union was currently visiting the new
farmers in an effort to make them pay the stipulated wages. Some workers go
for two months without getting their wages.
Muti said most of those failing to pay workers were farmers, who invaded
prime farm land during the government-sponsored land invasions, which
started in 2000.
He said while some new farmers comply, others were hostile to GAPWUZ
officials, forcing the union to seek recourse to the labour court.
"Some comply after we have discussions with them but there are other cases
where we end up at the labour court for arbitration," said Muti, who could
not give the exact number of farmers the union had taken to court.
Muti said the union had, in the past few months, successfully lobbied 120
new farmers in Mashonaland West, 60 in the Midlands and more than 50 in
Masvingo to pay their workers the recommended wages.
The president of the Zimbabwe Commercial Farmers' Union (ZCFU) Davison
Mugabe confirmed the problem, saying the new farmers were having
difficulties paying their workers because they were "starting up".
Mugabe said the situation was compounded by drought that has ravaged
Zimbabwe for the past three years.
"Most of the farmers are new and they do not have enough money to fall back
on when the situation is as bad as it is now unlike established farmers. You
must bear in mind that we have been having drought for the past three
years," Mugabe said.
Farm workers who spoke to The Standard last week said apart from the erratic
payment of wages, their monthly earnings were pathetically low.
The lowest paid farm worker (A1) gets $450 000, a figure that still falls
well below the poverty datum line.
The Consumer Council of Zimbabwe (CCZ) says a family of six now requires
about $9 million a month to live a normal life.
Anna Ndlovu, who works at a farm in Matabelelalnd North, owned by a senior
official in the President's Office, last week said at times they went for
two months without being paid.
She said most workers were living a deplorable life. "How do they expect us
to survive on this amount, when a two-litre bottle of cooking oil is going
for $167 000? They (government) should see what they can do for us," said
Ndlovu, a single parent.
As at the end of August, she grossed $192 400 while net earnings went down
to $184 128 after NSSA deductions of $5 772 and the $2 500 that was
subtracted after she borrowed maize meal from the farm owner's grocery shop.
But Mugabe, however, tried to justify the low wages saying: "We know the
$450 000 a month is low but you must also take into consideration that the
workers do not incur transport costs and food is cheap at the farm."
I WRITE this letter as a former teacher who left the profession a few years
ago because of the lousy salary that I was getting. Teachers, hard-working
and crucial though they are, have been reduced to what one might term
"useless form of human currency".
For their predicament, teachers have no one to blame but themselves. Most
teachers are just too humane and tender-hearted to the point of stupidity if
not idiocy and need to be "radicalised".
During my short stint as a teacher, I noticed that most teachers are
hard-working and dedicated to their work and yet they are ridiculed,
despised and earn salaries that barely constitute a living. Look at teachers
when they retire - most become almost social welfare cases. The very same
people they work so hard and tirelessly to educate are the ones who look
down upon them later on in life. Show me a hard-working teacher and I will
quickly show you a fool of the highest order.
To all the teachers out there I say - your dedication to duty is your
greatest undoing. Teachers can revolutionise their salaries and working
conditions. For society and their employer to respect and reward them
accordingly, there should be a deliberate attempt by teachers to produce
poor results nationally.
If teachers in their wildest imaginations think that their employer will
come up with good salaries on a silver platter, they are living in dreamland
and should come down to mother earth and get to grips with reality.
As long as students continue to pass and proceed to secondary schools,
colleges and universities teachers will always remain a laughing stock. I am
fully cognizant of the fact that most teachers are peasants and they also
have school-going children; this is where the problem lies.
There is a need, however, to take cognizance of the fact that for anyone to
win any war; they must turn a blind eye to whoever might be the victim or
casualty. This is one of the painful principles of war.
If doctors and nurses can go on strike and leave patients dying in order to
be heard and rewarded appropriately, then surely teachers can emulate them
in order to be taken seriously. Why take your work seriously when your
employer is not serious about your well-being and welfare?
Already the medical professional has its own board, in a bid to improve
salaries and working conditions at the expense of other civil servants.
Teachers are taken for granted because they cannot leave for greener
pastures in droves like nurses, doctors and health technicians. Let it be
known that teachers can be like hypertension or high blood pressure. They
have the potential to kill silently. There is a great urgency for the powers
that be to set up a board for the teaching profession, similar to the Health
To the powers that be, I ask: Which is more important and valuable, the
golden eggs or the hen that lays the eggs?
It is high time the teachers showed them where those doctors, nurses and
pharmacists come from. You have been patient and sympathetic for far too
long and to your own detriment.
Finally and to all the teachers once more I say - wake up! Stop watching a
game you are supposed to be playing.
Son of the Soil
WHILE the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority (ZTA) is busy trying to persuade us to
believe that tourism is showing signs of recovery, they could do several
things that will make tourists feel most welcome.
One of them is the safety of tourists once they set foot on Zimbabwean soil.
South Africa has just published a report that says it is much safer than it
was before. That can only persuade more tourists to feel they will be safer
there and that can only be at the expense of Zimbabwe.
The security of both domestic and international tourists at the various
resort areas is key to promoting greater inflows of visitors.
The other area needing the attention of the ZTA is the stretch of the road
to the Harare International Airport just past 1 Commando Barracks, where
visitors are greeted by the stench of overflowing septic tanks. This is not
the image Zimbabwe wishes to portray. Where does the effluent go? Is there
no one in the City Council or at the Barracks who sees this health hazard,
year in year out? And why is the matter not resolved once and for all?
In case they do not understand what I am suggesting, I am sure it would not
cost a lot to connect the septic tanks to the sewerage lines either in St
Martin's, Arcadia or Sunningdale compared to the threat to human life and
pollution to tributaries feeding into Lake Chivero, Harare's main water
In any case, who is the councillor/commissioner or MP for the area and just
what are they doing about this problem? It is such a negative point for
tourists to be greeted by something like that after they touch down at the
Zimbabweans are so submissive. The residents of the three suburbs mentioned
above have endured the stench for years yet they appear not to have
protested demanding action on the overflowing effluent from the Barracks.
They should demand action from whoever claims to represent them and serves
Another area with a similar hazard is the T-junction of Sam Nujoma Street
and Norfolk Road in Mount Pleasant opposite Golden Stairs garage. The septic
tanks there are always overflowing and just how people at the garage can put
up with something like that is puzzling. Surely their health is more
The City Council and the Ministry of Health should order the Ministry of
Defence to deal with the problem so that there is regular emptying of the
Not everyone in Harare can afford mineral water. Let's get things right the
SEVERAL recent events have helped to unmask the undemocratic nature of Zanu
PF. One of these is the apparent absence of any consultations on what status
to bestow on and the venue of Henry Matuku Hamadziripi's final resting
If Zanu PF is as democratic as it misleads people into believing, it would
have allowed/tolerated free and open discussion and in the end accepted the
majority decision. As it is, it looks to me that it is the minority decision
that prevailed over others.
But the fact that others who should know better preferred silence and
retreated into dark corners for fear of being seen, suggests fear instead of
democracy rules Zanu PF.
If Hamadziripi was instrumental in transforming Zanu PF from a
constitutional reformist party to a revolutionary party pursuing the armed
struggle, what was Robert Mugabe, as an individual, instrumental in?
The second example of how undemocratic Zanu PF is the reported expulsion of
war veterans' leader, Jabulani Sibanda.
A democratic organisation would have asked Sibanda to appear before a
hearing. No, in fact, they would have checked with people who are alleged to
have carried out an interview during which Sibanda is alleged to have
uttered things that so offended the ruling party.
It could very well be that they find something different, but at any rate
just suspending someone without giving them a platform to defend or present
their own side of events is as undemocratic as you can get. What this case
only confirms is that a decision to suspend Sibanda was taken long back and
that an excuse to justify the action is being cooked up. Why does Zanu PF
act so frightened of discovering the truth? Zanu PF is its own worst enemy,
not Jabulani Sibanda, not Tony Blair or George W Bush.
Yet another example of the undemocratic nature of Zanu PF is the decision by
Elliot Manyika, the ruling party's political commissar, announcing that
there will be no primaries to select potential candidates to take part in
the race for the Senate.
Manyika said Zanu PF would adopt a "common consensus method and as always
the Central Committee and the Politburo have the final say." What the hell
is that and since when has it subscribed to this view and why? What has
changed and what is suddenly wrong with a process they used only in January
and February this year ahead of the 31 March Parliamentary elections.
Before they even start Zanu PF is preparing to rig the whole exercise
against its members! That is democracy Zanu PF style. No wonder there is so
much disgruntlement in the ruling party. Why have an election if the central
committee and the politburo are going to have a final say. Why doesn't it
just go ahead and handpick those it wants as its candidates instead of this
hoax of an election exercise.
Next, they will extend the "common consensus method" to everything. This is
how a dictatorship operates.
Even in traditional societies, the chiefs consulted their court officials
and once in a while the court jester acted as their conscience, ridiculing
and amplifying their misplaced decisions, forcing them now and then to
evaluate their decisions.
Further examples of Zanu PF's intolerance can be found in Cain Mathema's
attack on non-governmental organisations that have provided boreholes for
rural communities to draw water for their drinking and livestock purposes.
The issue for Mathema to answer is: Why are non-governmental organisations
providing boreholes when the government was supposed to provide rural
communities with tap water? Would he rather the rural communities had no
water at all, because that is what he seems to suggest - so that more people
can die from waterborne diseases!
The other face of Zanu PF's undemocratic and intolerant nature is Edwin
Muguti's attack against the British. Thankfully the local chief and
villagers - the real beneficiaries of the UK aid - were there to speak for
Mathema, Muguti and the others on the gravy train do not represent the views
of the majority. Where their own government fails to do anything they would
rather no one did anything at all.
AT the moment there is job freeze in the public sector. The purpose is to
save on government expenditure. But what is really happening is very
Posts which are in the lowest grade where a worker gets less than $3 million
are being frozen. However, at the same time posts that pay millions more of
dollars are being created for favourites.
William Nhara got a new post in the President's Office, specially created
for him since he had no job after losing the 2005 Parliamentary elections.
This post definitely costs the government many millions of dollars.
Is this a job freeze when bigger and more costly posts are opened any time
for Zanu PF yes men?
The other example of job creation is the Senate. New jobs are going to be
created for 66 jobless Zanu PF hero-worshippers as well as the supporting
staff and it will cost the taxpaying public billions of dollars. And yet the
majority of the tax payers are living a hand to mouth existence while the
government spends their taxes extravagantly and unplanned.
The Zanu PF government should be ashamed of continuing to cause suffering to
the people of Zimbabwe.
D R Mutungagore
I am surprised that you raised the issue "RBZ grants Gono farming loan". As
far as our Reserve Bank Governor is concerned, corporate governance relates
to other people and not RBZ employees.
If you recollect when Gono was appointed, the Mashonaland East Governor
asked him to declare his interests.
As far as I can recall, it was widely believed in financial circles that
Gono was the major shareholder in the Financial Gazette. Gono did not, among
a number of things, declare his interest in the Financial Gazette.
If Gono is untruthful about such a matter how can we trust him on other more
I would be interested to know how much Productive Sector Support funding was
granted to Gono's farms and the Financial Gazette.
It is interesting to notice that appointments to financial institutions must
be vetted by the central bank. Who vets potential employees for the central
ZIMBABWE'S problems would be fewer if belt-tightening by ordinary
Zimbabweans was matched by similar measures and not just rhetoric from its
Ten days ago, President Robert Mugabe thanked Zimbabweans for their
resilience, in particular, in the light of problems facing the country. He
said: "It is that spirit of endurance and commitment to the national cause
which saw us defeat colonialism and win our freedom and independence."
Last month Zimbabwe even surprised the International Monetary Fund by
coughing up US$120 million to reduce its arrears to the Bretton Woods
institution. This was followed by a further US$15 million this month.
The IMF was startled by this sudden show of the spirit of sacrifice because
it was acutely aware that while Zimbabwe was finally doing the right thing
since 2000 other sectors were going to suffer. It was partly this
realisation which led the IMF to question Zimbabwe's ability to find
resources to enable it to reduce its arrears
The same sacrifice made in order to pay off the country's arrears to
international financial institutions is called for when dealing with the
problems confronting the nation. It can be argued that Zimbabwe's problems
emanate from a total lack of will to limit the penchant for lavish
lifestyles or the sense to examine and question whether what is being
considered or done is really necessary and in the greater national interest.
If Zimbabwe's leadership had capacity for such reflection and the will, they
would have, as far back as 2000, paused to question whether unleashing
violence was an appropriate method of redressing historical land imbalances.
They would also have reflected on how the country was going to afford goods
it does not produce when every exporting sector was being run down or forced
to cease operations.
Last month and at a time when the country could scarcely afford fuel for its
critical sectors, a decision was made to host regional air forces, when
common sense would have dictated a postponement as part of belt-tightening.
Counterparts from the region would have understood, given the country's
predicament. But the show went ahead regardless of the effects. It was a
remarkable demonstration of skewed priorities but one that unmasked how the
country is being run.
The national carrier, Air Zimbabwe, had to delay or transfer passengers
paying in foreign currency because it had no fuel for its aircraft.
But that is not all. At a time when the mention of Zimbabwe conjures up
images of extreme hardships, the country boasts probably the largest
population of luxury vehicles outside South Africa on the continent,
especially by its government ministers and officials.
Chad recently discovered oil yet it has placed limits on overseas travel
while Rwanda has impounded 2 500 government vehicles questioning whether
government ministers really need them. Rwanda suggests government ministers
"be with the people". This maybe extreme, but it demonstrates the kind of
belt-tightening alien to their Zimbabwean counterparts.
Overseas trips by Zimbabwe's ministers are numerous, yet they cannot be
justified in terms of real immediate or long-term benefits to the country.
They are like investing in a pyramid scheme.
Yet if the resources gobbled up by foreign trips were channelled to domestic
needs, the fuel crisis would not be so critical. Industries would not be
acutely affected and they would be able to produce scarce basic commodities
while export earning-sectors would be supplying foreign markets and
therefore generating hard currency to, in turn, enable the country to pay
for its imports.
Politics has largely become an avenue for pursuing private business
ventures. MPs are granted constituency travel allowances, yet how many of
them actually use this facility for the purpose of visiting and consulting
with the people who elected them? If the MPs were genuinely engaged in
consultative or report back processes there would be no complaints about
legislators who only remember their constituencies when campaigning starts.
It is clear therefore that the travelling allowances are being used for
other purposes other than for what they are intended. A start could be to
reduce the allowances to half of the present entitlement, as part of
belt-tightening. Such a move may be used to justify underperformance, but
even with all the allowances in the world, they would never deliver.
The same could be extended to government ministers and their officials, as
would a review of the number and performance of our expensive foreign
The Senate, whose elections are due at the end of November, is an indication
of how the government expects belt-tightening by ordinary Zimbabweans
without attendant responsibilities on its part. Opposition to the Senate is
fuelled by the insensitive timing and because of scarce resources. Sixty-six
new senators, offices and supporting staff will mean more in government
expenditure, placing a greater burden on the taxpayers. Let's cut our suit
according to our cloth. Belt-tightening must be for everyone.
By our staff
FOUR of Harare's suburbs have been hit by a spate of cable thefts with
telephone services to more than 200 consumers affected during the month of
September alone and service provider TelOne says replacement cables are not
In one of the suburbs, which is worst affected by the cable thefts, services
to more than 100 subscribers have been suspended.
According to TelOne the suspension of services to subscribers will be for an
indefinite period, owing to the unavailability of cables to restore
services. Telephones services are critical in cases of emergencies. A delay
in calling emergency services because of vandalised lines could mean the
loss of lives.
"The situation has been worsened by the fact that there are no cables
available on the local market, hence they have to be imported. With current
severe foreign currency shortages it would be difficult to get that
allocation now as they are equally important sectors of the economy that
urgently need foreign currency. "These problems have resulted in a huge
backlog of faults in the said areas and this has resulted in customers
experiencing delays in restoration of service," TelOne's public relations
executive, Phil Chingwaru said.
By our staff
BULAWAYO - The Bulawayo City Council has been hit by a shortage of
engineers, making it difficult for the authority to attend to essential
Addressing residents at a city hotel recently, executive mayor Japhet
Ndabeni-Ncube revealed that the city was facing a critical shortage of
He said 27 engineers had left the council during the past few months.
Residents have in recent weeks endured water blockages and burst sewer
pipes, among other things and the council has failed to rectify the problems
The non-availability of fuel has also forced the local authority to confine
refuse removal to the central business district.
Ndabeni-Ncube disclosed that the were 425 water leaks, 150 water blockages
and many burst sewer pipes which could not be rectified due to serious staff
shortages in the city.
On the water situation, the mayor said the council was now pursuing plans to
extend further north the Nyamandhlovu aquifer in a bid to augment the low
water levels trickling into the city.
In Nyamandhlovu, the mayor said, only 8 out of 78 boreholes were working as
most of them were vandalised by war veterans at the peak of farm invasions
in the year 2000.
By Ndamu Sandu
EMPOWERMENT outfit Nkululeko Rusununguko Mining Company of Zimbabwe (NRMCZ)
has sought the intervention of President Robert Mugabe in its bid to acquire
15% stake in Zimplats Holdings Ltd.
NRMCZ won the right to partner Zimplats last year ahead of National
Investment Trust (NIT) and Needgate.
Standardbusiness heard last week the move comes hard on the heels of efforts
by Mines ministry to scuttle the transaction in favour of a created Special
Purpose Vehicle (SPV) that would accommodate all losing bidders for the
Industry sources say while Mines minister Amos Midzi was pushing for an SPV,
Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) Governor Gideon Gono was pushing for NIT to
acquire the empowerment stake including the financing of the transaction.
The letter to President Mugabe, sources say, outlines impediments faced by
the empowerment group to acquire the transaction.
While it could not be established the actual date the communication had been
sent, sources told Standardbusiness last week that the letter had been sent
to President Mugabe last month.
Sources say NRMCZ had raised concern over the reluctance of the ministry of
Mines and Mining Development on policy issues such as the final percentage
on indigenous empowerment in the white metal producer. Zimplats had
indicated that it wanted to know the final percentage as it was worried
about political statements to the effect that indigenous players were
entitled to 50% in mining ventures. Sources say concern was also raised on
attempts by Midzi to scuttle a cabinet decision to award 15% to NRMCZ by
sounding the idea of an SPV as a pre-condition for progress.
Standardbusiness broke the story in August of plans by Midzi to set up an
SPV that would accommodate losing bidders, Needgate and NIT.
Nkululeko requested Midzi to put his proposal in writing. Sources say Midzi
failed to do so.
Sources say the empowerment group had raised concern on the role played by
Gono in stifling the conclusion of the empowerment deal.
Gono has in the past raised concern over the composition of NRMCZ saying it
(NRMCZ) "was gate-crashing into platinum business riding on political
Sources say the empowerment group had expressed concern over the delay by
Impala Platinum Mines (Implats) to conclude the transaction. Implats are the
largest shareholder in Zimplats.
"Implats are claiming that they cannot proceed with the transaction because
a number of groups were introduced to them by the Mines ministry," a source
Impala, sources say, were shifting the goal posts saying it was unable to
conclude the transaction until the bilateral agreement between Zimbabwe and
South Africa to protect South African investments in the country had been
Efforts to get comment from the usually reliable Gono were unsuccessful
throughout the week so was NRMCZ spokesperson Alex Manungo. Under the
arrangement, NRMCZ will buy 13.4 million shares in Zimplats at the ruling
price on the Australian Stock Exchange (ASX).
The empowerment stake has been at the centre of controversy with Needgate at
one time saying, "they were the sole owners of the 15% equity and waiting
for the official announcement".
By Bertha Shoko
HIV positive Zimbabweans could be living on the edge of death following
revelations that the country's sole manufacturer of Anti-Retroviral drugs
(ARVs) is failing to import raw materials used in the production of the
The Standard understands that Varichem Pharmaceuticals Private Limited, the
country's sole manufacturer of generic ARVs is facing problems due to
shortages of foreign currency needed for importation of raw materials. The
foreign currency crunch is also understood to be affecting the whole
pharmaceutical industry, which faces insurmountable hurdles in sourcing hard
currency from the official market.
Varichem manufactures the ARV combination Stalanev that contains the active
ingredients, staduvine, lamudivine and nevirapine. Stalanev is used as a
first line in the management of HIV. The other combination it manufactures
contains Zidovudine and lamudivine also used as an alternative to Stalanev.
Highly placed sources at Varichem told The Standard that the pharmaceutical
company was last allocated foreign currency by the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe
through the auction system on 18 July 2005. The sources said the
pharmaceutical company requires more than USD$350 000 a month but could
require more as demand for ARVs increases.
If a foreign currency injection is not made as a matter of urgency, they
warned, the country could run dry of the ARVs on the private market where
the majority of people using the anti-Aids drugs source them.
"The pharmaceutical industry is forex-intensive and therefore lack or
shortage of foreign currency will affect operations in a big way. Right now,
the shortage of foreign currency is only affecting the private sector and if
anything is not done, there will be no ARVs on the private market," the
There are fears also that the shortages might affect government's public ARV
programme, carried out at major institutions such as at Harare Central and
Parirenyatwa hospitals in Harare.
About 30 000 HIV positive people against a backdrop of more than 300 000 who
need the drugs, are benefiting from this scheme which has failed to expand
since its inception last year due to limited resources and lack of external
Contacted for comment, Dr David Parirenyatwa, the Minister of Health and
Child Welfare, referred questions to Varichem saying they would be in a
better position to say exactly what is happening.
"Varichem may have its challenges like any organisation, but they would be
in a better position to tell you. As for our government run ARV programmes
they have been able to keep up with the supplies we need," Parirenyatwa
An official with Varichem told The Standard that the company was working
flat out to reverse the impending drug shortages.
"Our parent ministry, the Ministry of Health and Child Welfare, is aware of
this problem and they are assisting us by seeking dialogue with the central
bank," said the official.
Other players in the drug procurement and distribution industry confirmed
that the pharmaceutical industry faced a foreign currency crisis.
Benson Tamirepi, the managing director of Health Care Resources, told The
Standard that most of the drugs being manufactured by Varichem have a "high
import content" and therefore required foreign currency.
Tamirepi, whose company distributes pharmaceuticals, surgical medication and
equipment from Varichem and other companies, said the government must
prioritise allocation of foreign currency to health institutions.
Other than Varichem, the Medicines Control Authority of Zimbabwe recently
licensed two Indian companies, Ranbaxy and Citla, to supply Zimbabwe with
generic drugs, while Caps Holdings Limited has been awarded a licence to
manufacture ARVs. These other players might help avert the pending drug
By our staff
KARIBA - VIP delegates attending the World Tourism Day celebrations in
Kariba last week came face to face with the reality of the fuel crunch when
a boat ran out of fuel in the middle of Lake Kariba.
Dignitaries in the boat were Environment and Tourism minister Francis Nhema,
Mashonaland West Governor Nelson Samkange and management officials of the
Zimbabwe Tourism Authority (ZTA).
The boat ran out of fuel on its way from Msambakaruma Island, the venue of
the celebrations and delegates had to endure a two-hour anxious wait before
a speed boat came with additional fuel.
At the evening cocktail, Samkange chose to be economic with the truth
blaming the fuel crisis on sanctions. Tour operators said the biting fuel
shortage was affecting their businesses. Operators also blasted national
carrier Air Zimbabwe for choosing flying days not conducive to travellers.
Air Zimbabwe flies to Kariba thrice a week on Tuesday, Thursday and
Air Zimbabwe was also blasted for delaying in its flights and cancellation
of some flights. Indeed tour operators' attack on Air Zimbabwe was
opportune. The Saturday flight to the resort town was moved from 7.30 am to
10.00am. It was later cancelled.
Nhema was initially booked on the Air Zimbabwe flight but because of the
inconsistency of the national carrier, he cancelled the booking. Nhema and
his entourage were booked on Alliance Aviation that flew the delegates to
and from Kariba.
Alliance Aviation is a new kid on block in the aviation industry that
commenced operation in August. Meanwhile the 2005 Travel Expo open at the
Harare International Conference on Thursday. The 13 -15 October exhibition
will be held under the theme "Providing Hospitality for 25 years with a
ZTA had set a target of 150. Over 170 international buyers have confirmed
participation at the annual showcase as of Friday.
By Caiphas Chimhete
THE State will dole out more than $36 billion to former political prisoners,
ex-detainees and restrictees, in what analysts said yesterday is
economically dangerous "vote-buying" ahead of next month's Senate elections.
The analysts warned that payment of gratuities to war collaborators was a
repeat of a disastrous "appeasement policy" and would be a replica of the
1997 economic disaster triggered by the award of $50 000 each to war
veterans, which sent the economy into free fall in what came to be known as
Last week, the government sanctioned a one-off payment of $6 million
gratuity and provision of loans to finance commercial projects, education,
medical as well as funeral expenses to ex-prisoners, detainees and
restrictees, numbering about 6 000.
Assistance would also be given to their dependent children wishing to pursue
academic or vocational training, while those attending non-government
schools and institutions will be entitled to an education grant equal in
amount to the education benefit at government institutions.
In addition, funeral grants to the beneficiaries would be availed at the
same rate as those paid to civil servants.
Beneficiaries intending to embark on income-generating projects will be able
to apply for loans under the Ex-Political Prisoners, Detainees and
University of Zimbabwe political scientist, Eldred Masunungure, said it had
become a pattern for Zanu PF to "buy votes" ahead of any major election in
which it expects a major challenge.
He said the vote-buying campaign was a clear indication that the ruling
party had lost the support of people who were suffering because of President
Robert Mugabe's scorched earth economic policies.
Mugabe, under siege from marauding war veterans led by the late Chenjerai
"Hitler" Hunzvi, awarded former freedom fighters $50 000 each in 1997 -
sending the economy into a tailspin from which it has never recovered.
It appears the government has not learnt much from that disaster.
Masunungure said: "That has become a pattern. It has to be understood in the
context of politics of patronage - Zanu PF's political survival tactic. If
Zanu PF fails to do that it will be gone for good and the leaders know that.
It's going to be devastating. It will compound an already bad economic
Independent economic analyst John Robertson agreed, saying the $36 billion
would have a huge negative impact on the country's shrinking economy because
the government's excessive spending had not been matched by production.
Paul Themba-Nyathi, the opposition Movement for Democratic Change
spokesperson said the payment of gratuities was a campaign gimmick by Zanu
PF, which always bribed gullible members of society towards major national
Two weeks ago, Mugabe told the same war collaborators that fuel, that has
dogged the country for the past five years, would be readily available. That
prophecy is still to be realised.
Robertson said the payment would create problems for the Minister of
Finance, Herbert Murerwa, who will need to accommodate the former war
collaborators in next year's budget, considering that the country was
failing to pay for fuel, feed the nation or service its international debts,
but would factor salary increases of civil servants in January next year.