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Politburo confronts Mugabe

Zim Independent

Dumisani Muleya

PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe was on Wednesday confronted head-on by an
unusually aggressive Zanu PF old guard during a heated politburo exchange
over war veterans leader Jabulani Sibanda’s controversial campaign for him
to remain as party leader.

Well-informed sources said Mugabe tried to remain composed during the
debate but was occasionally shaken as tempers boiled over.

At the end of the meeting, Mugabe prevented the conflict from spilling
over into today’s potentially volatile central committee meeting by
unilaterally striking the issue from the agenda.

The fierce attack on Sibanda — in which Mugabe also became a target —
in the politburo was led by the party’s vice-president Joseph Msika and
senior colleagues, mainly from the former PF-Zapu.

The angry clashes, it is said, were so ugly that for the first time
they shook to its roots the 1987 Unity Accord between Zanu PF and PF-Zapu,
the foundation of Mugabe’s current power structure.

The sources said Msika led the offensive and was supported by senior
party officials such as Dumiso Dabengwa, retired army commander General
Solomon Mujuru, party chair John Nkomo, Angeline Masuku, Joshua Malinga,
Sikhanyiso Ndlovu and retired General Vitalis Zvinavashe.

Veteran politburo members Didymus Mutasa, administration secretary,
and Kumbirai Kangai were also involved in the intense debate sparked by an
address on the Sibanda case by Emmerson Mnangagwa.

The issue, formally on the politburo agenda, created a storm which
left the party reeling. The Sibanda drama has become part of Mugabe’s
simmering succession battle.

The sources said after Mnangagwa addressed the meeting on Sibanda’s
legal status in the party, Msika took over and spearheaded the political
assault.

Prior to that Mnangagwa had mumbled complaints about why he had to
deal with the issue, but Mutasa said he had to tackle it in his position as
the secretary for legal affairs. Mutasa said he had recently been inundated
with complaints from party members complaining about the Sibanda issue. He
said people wanted to know "what the hell is going on".

Mutasa said Sibanda was expelled from the party and he did not
understand how he was campaigning for Zanu PF and its leader. Mnangagwa said
while it was true that Sibanda was expelled, he had appealed against the
decision and the issue was pending.

However, Nkomo, the Zanu PF national disciplinary committee chair,
told the meeting he was not aware of the appeal which Mnangagwa was
referring to.

After Mnangagwa’s address, Msika launched into a vicious attack on
Sibanda, saying he was undermining the party leadership and causing
confusion in Mugabe’s name. He said Sibanda’s offensive, particularly on
former PF-Zapu leaders, was instigated by politicians outside Matabeleland
region, showing there was a sinister agenda behind it. He said it was
surprising Sibanda was acting in Mugabe’s name and there has not been a
public correction of this.

Msika was backed by Dabengwa, who said it was clear that Sibanda was
supported in his campaign by people who are not war veterans but hired guns.
He said most genuine war veterans were watching with shock and outrage
Sibanda’s antics. Senior former PF-Zapu leaders say Sibanda was not a bona
fide war veteran because he was too young for the liberation struggle.

Mujuru said the root cause of the problem was Sibanda’s sponsor. He
asked who was funding Sibanda and war veterans’ solidarity marches in
support of Mugabe.

"This is where the root cause of the problem is," Mujuru reportedly
said. "Unfortunately, this politburo is too big for nothing, otherwise if it
was small, say about five people or so, I would tell you exactly where
Sibanda is getting the money from."

Zvinavashe said he did not understand why the Sibanda saga was in the
first place a big issue in Zanu PF because Sibanda was merely heading a
group of people belonging to a voluntary association which has its own
patron but has nothing to do with real war veterans and the ruling party.

Masuku said at the rate at which Sibanda was busy demolishing the
party, Zanu PF would not win, particularly in Matabeleland where leaders
were under siege, unless Mugabe intervened as a matter of urgency.

In a move against an escalating wave of attacks on Sibanda and
indirectly on Mugabe, Naison Ndlovu said the Zanu PF leadership largely in
Matabeleland had no reason to complain about Sibanda because he was in fact
their political creature.

Kangai tried to calm down the situation, saying since there was a
flare-up about the Sibanda issue, Mutasa should tell Sibanda to "cool down".
To his shock, he was heckled by those who wanted Sibanda silenced outright
and also by those who wanted him to continue in support of Mugabe.

After a two-hour battle, Mugabe emerged on top, but badly bruised
about the fierce attacks. He saved himself from further assaults today by
removing the Sibanda issue from the central committee meeting agenda.


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President secures endorsement

Zim Independent

Dumisani Muleya/ Constantine Chimakure

AS the Zanu PF power struggle rages on, President Robert Mugabe has
all but secured the endorsement he desperately needs to be the party’s
presidential candidate in next year’s elections. What remains is an
automatic approval of his candidacy at the party’s extraordinary congress in
December, it became evident this week.

Inside sources said debate on Mugabe’s endorsement would be
effectively closed today after the central committee approves an agenda for
the congress. The agenda, the sources said, will have four items: minutes of
the 2004 congress; a report on the central committee meeting; a declaration
and confirmation of Mugabe, the president and first secretary of the party,
as the presidential election candidate in March; and any other business.

This is what the politburo decided on Wednesday and will be approved
today, the sources said. Party official Emmerson Mnangagwa, who is
supporting Mugabe’s candidacy, presented the agenda to the politburo. The
politburo also agreed that Mugabe would be the candidate without resistance
from the Solomon Mujuru faction which has been threatening behind the scenes
to block his endorsement.

The Mujuru faction has been campaigning to block Mugabe.

Vice-President Joseph Msika and other Zanu PF officials have been
saying that Mugabe has not yet been endorsed.

While the Zanu PF constitution says the central committee — the party’s
main decision-making organ in between congresses — "formulates the agenda,
procedures and regulations for the business of congress", in practice the
politburo, a secretariat of the central committee, prepares the agenda.

After today’s approval of the congress agenda, carefully designed to
lead to Mugabe’s endorsement without contest, the whole hullabaloo about
Mugabe’s candidacy should die down in the party as his approval would become
a mere formality in December. Congress will be railroaded into endorsing
Mugabe and as a result he will — at least for a while — get a reprieve from
his simmering succession crisis, it was said.

"The congress will last from December 12 to 14," a senior politburo
member said. "In reality it will last for just a few hours because on the
12th there will be a politburo meeting and on the 13th a central committee
meeting and on the last day, which is on the 14th it will be about endorsing
Mugabe as candidate."

"It will be a formality," the politburo member said, "because
according to our constitution congress only discusses those issues which it
was convened for. Any attempts to suggest a different candidate to Mugabe
will be ruled out of order."

Fears that Mugabe wants to fight next year’s election and win in order
to become president for life intensified after the Women’s League, clearly
acting as a rent-a-crowd in the politburo meeting on Wednesday, burst into a
song saying "Mugabe is our leader forever". During the March 30 central
committee meeting, the Women’s League proposed that Mugabe should be
president for life. Msika warned against such emotional decisions.


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More dark days ahead

Zim Independent

THE country is set to endure more power cuts as Zesa yesterday
announced it will switch off Kariba Power Station for maintenance.

This comes barely a week after two thirds of the capital was plunged
into darkness due to vandalism and equipment failure.

In a statement yesterday, Zesa advised that there will be a
significant increase in load-shedding due to reduced generation at Kariba
Power Station from October 26 (today) to November 6.

"This has been necessitated by critical corrective maintenance which
has to be undertaken on the generator transformer serving Units 1 and 2 at
the Power Station, which is now long overdue," says the statement.

Generation at Kariba Power Station will thus be reduced by 250MW, from
a capacity of 750MW.

The outages, which had been mainly restricted to residential suburbs
last week spilled into the city centre bringing to a standstill operations
at the Passport Office and private hospitals while businesses at suburban
shopping centres were badly affected.

Zesa spokesman Fullard Gwasira said the power utility has however put
in place arrangements to alleviate the situation through increased power
generation at Hwange, which will be subject to the availability of adequate
coal supplies. — Staff Writer.


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Sibanda's grip on Byo weakened

Zim Independent

Loughty Dube

WAR veterans leader Jabulani Sibanda’s grip on Zanu PF’s Bulawayo
province is set to end on Sunday when the ruling party holds crucial
district coordinating committee (DCC) elections, having been weakened in
last weekend’s polls for grassroots structures.

Sibanda’s faction in Bulawayo suffered a major setback after it was
defeated in district executive elections by another camp supported by
politburo and central committee members, among them party chairman John
Nkomo, Dumiso Dabengwa and Sikhanyiso Ndlovu.

The party’s old guard has been at loggerhead with Sibanda.

Party sources said that last weekend’s elections paved the way for the
elimination of Sibanda’s camp ahead of the election of the provincial
executive by the DCCs.

"Sibanda is finished and his control of the province will end this
week when the district executives elect the DCC, and once a DCC loyal to
senior party leaders is in place the old guard will be in charge," said a
source.

Sibanda was fired from the party after he was linked to the November
2004 Tsholotsho declaration to re-arrange the Zanu PF presidium.

However, despite his expulsion Sibanda — a former Zanu PF Bulawayo
chairman — continued to influence decisions in the province, shadowing an
interim executive committee led by Macloud Chawe.

Party sources said the old guard, which caused the postponement of the
polls on numerous occasions, masterminded the outcome of the district
executive elections.

But Zanu PF Bulawayo spokesperson Effort Nkomo yesterday denied the
claims.

"The elections went on smoothly where all party members took part,"
Nkomo said. "There were no manoeuvres (by the old guard) as claimed. DCC
elections will be held this weekend," Nkomo said.

He, however, said a date for provincial elections was yet to be set.

Earlier this year, Zanu PF national commissar Elliot Manyika was
stopped from conducting elections in the province because he wanted to allow
members from Sibanda’s faction to cast votes.

In what was seen as a move to dilute Sibanda’s influence, Nkomo
earlier this year fired 50 members from district structures loyal to the war
veterans leader’s group after snubbing a meeting he had called to resolve
differences in the province.

A restructuring team led by deputy national commissar Richard Ndlovu,
Nkomo and Manyika recently concluded a restructuring and party
re-organisation exercise where they recommended that districts be expanded
from 23 to 53 — a move that was seen by many as creating more wards to
weaken Sibanda’s grip on the province.

The party sources said people who won elections to the new district
executives were loyal to a faction backing Vice-President Joice Mujuru’s
presidential aspirations.

"The Sibanda faction is finished as all those that were elected in
weekend elections are aligned to the faction supporting Mujuru," the sources
said. "What this means is that those who are in the districts will form the
electoral college that will elect the DCC."

But the old guard in the province will have to contend with Sibanda’s
growing powers nationally where he is leading marches in support of
President Mugabe’s bid to win the party candidacy for next year’s
presidential poll.


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Coup charges hit wall

Zim Independent

Lucia Makamure

INVESTIGATIONS into the Minister of Rural Housing and Social Amenities
Emmerson Mnangagwa’s involvement in an alleged coup which led to the arrest
of six men in June have hit a brick wall after it emerged this week that the
police have not been able to come up with anything to substantiate the
claims.

Superintendent Simon Mundondwa, the officer commanding Law and Order
in Harare who is the investigating officer in the case, told a court while
under cross examination that suggestions that Mnangagwa was linked to the
coup have proved false as no evidence has been found to support the claims.

Charles Warara, the lawyer representing Albert Mutapo, Nyasha Zivuku,
Oncemore Mudzurahona, Emmanuel Marara, Patson Mupfure and Shingirai
Mutemachani, the six men accused of plotting the coup, said he knew the
investigation of Mnangagwa would not yield anything as it was clear that his
clients were not planning a coup and did not have any link to
Mnangagwa.

"It is not surprising that nothing has been found to link Mnangagwa to
the alleged coup as my clients have repeatedly denied planning a coup or
having any connection with the minister," Warara said.

A court document made available to the Zimbabwe Independent reveals
that the state, as part of its investigations, has made follow-ups on two
new witnesses with one of them based at a military institution in Gweru.

"There has been some remarkable progress in the investigations in this
case," the court document says. "The investigating officer made a follow-up
of two important witnesses with the intention of recording affidavit
statements from them. The other witness is in a military institution in
Gweru and he is yet to have his statement recorded."

The state in their third supplementary response said they now have
overwhelming evidence against the alleged coup plotters.

"From the level of investigations so far it has turned apparent that
there is overwhelming evidence in this case. And that on its own will act as
an incentive for these applicants to abscond and not stand trial…coupled
with the fact that if convicted the charge faced by these applicants
attracts a death sentence," said the state’s response.

Warara however said the police are giving a lot of excuses to keep his
clients in custody yet they are not bringing to court the evidence they
claim to have.

"On Wednesday the police asked for three more weeks to conclude their
investigations citing lack of resources yet they are saying they now have
overwhelming evidence against my clients," he said.

"They say this is a very serious case yet they have not been acting
seriously about the case at all. It took them three weeks to finish
paperwork on information from one witness," added Warara.


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Talks spark new divisions in MDC

Zim Independent

Augustine Mukaro

THE secrecy surrounding the ongoing Sadc-initiated talks between Zanu
PF and the MDC has sparked serious divisions in the opposition faction led
by Morgan Tsvangirai.

Sources in the party said the divisions might culminate in another
split.

The seemingly irreparable differences erupted over failure to provide
feedback on the talks to party structures, resulting in senior officials
claiming they have been sidelined and used to endorse Constitutional
Amendment 18 to benefit a small clique.

The situation was worsened by alleged disregard of the constitution
and unprocedural decisions by Tsvangirai that have resulted in a court
battle with ousted MDC women’s assembly national chairperson, Lucia
Matibenga.

Senior opposition officials said Tsvangirai and MDC secretary-general
Tendai Biti have kept developments on the talks a closely guarded secret,
raising suspicion amongst the party leadership.

"There is no proper briefing about the talks," one senior official
said. "Biti and Tsvangirai are driving the talks. They have become an entity
on their own without recognising the consultation and feedback process
initially agreed on."

The secrecy has resulted in serious disgruntlement within the MDC.

MDC spokesman Nelson Chamisa refused to comment on the allegations,
referring all questions to Biti.

One senior member from the now dissolved women’s assembly said the
talks had become a secretive arrangement so anyone asking about developments
is alienated.

"We simply want to be appraised on the developments on the talks
front," she said. "There are people who have seen what’s in these talks for
themselves and are now pushing that agenda without fulfilling the agreed
procedures."

The officials said efforts to silence the growing concerns about how
the talks were being handled, resulted in the dissolution of the women’s
assembly, an unprocedural decision which violated the MDC constitution and
sparked an uproar in opposition ranks. It has now spilled into the courts.

Tsvangirai’s decision was a clear disregard of the recommendations of
the party’s commission of inquiry set up to investigate the
"dysfunctionality" of the women’s assembly. The commission, chaired by Sam
Sipepa Nkomo with Sessel Zvidzai and Blessing Chebundo as commissioners,
recommended that the assembly be "reformed".

"For the process of reformation to materialise, there is need to
establish a team of two or three individuals to assist/mentor and monitor
the assembly for a period of three months, thereof a final decision will be
made by the party," the report said.

"During the period of three months the commission recommends that the
women’s assembly should with the assistance of the monitoring team produce a
strategic work plan, organise a conflict resolution and team-building
workshop for the assembly and encourage the party leadership to change its
attitude towards the assembly."

To the chagrin of fellow MDC leaders, Tsvangirai allegedly used a
standing committee to disregard the recommendations and to dissolve the
women’s assembly.

Matibenga has since taken the case to the High Court seeking to bar
the MDC from holding an extraordinary congress on Sunday that is supposed to
elect a new executive.

Contacted for comment, Matibenga declined to give details on the
developments saying that would prejudice her case already before the courts.
"My case has been set for tomorrow (Friday) in the chambers so any comments
would be sub judice."

On Monday papers were served on Tsvangirai and his top party
officials. Matibenga is arguing that the decision to dissolve the women’s
executive failed to respect the party’s constitution and on that basis it is
null and void.

She also argues that the standing committee that dissolved her
executive had no power to do so and was only supposed to make
recommendations to the national or executive council.

"The women’s assembly constitution, clause 622, says any changes in
the make up of the women’s assembly shall only occur after an extraordinary
congress either by the national council of the party or the national council
of the women," Matibenga argues in her court papers.

Although Matibenga is free to run for re-election, there are
allegations of vote-buying levelled at Theresa Makone, the wife of
Tsvangirai’s advisor Ian Makone.

Theresa wants to chair the women’s assembly.

Allegations of a possible vote manipulation emanated from an alleged
bias in the selection of delegates to the congress in which only 230 women
out of a total 3 000 delegates are being invited.

* Meanwhile, the MDC said it had secured a promise from the government
to investigate charges of escalating violence against its supporters.

Following Wednesday’s meeting with Home Affairs minister Kembo Mohadi,
senior MDC officials said they had been assured that the state does not
regard them as "enemies" and their allegations of renewed violence would be
taken seriously.

"In his own words, he said, ‘we are not enemies, we are just
competitors’," MDC secretary for home affairs, Sam Sipepa Nkomo, told
journalists.

"He assured us that once the investigations are over he will call us
to make a full explanation. We are happy that the minister himself now has
evidence of political violence after we furnished him with the evidence."

Chamisa, who was part of the delegation, said "there seems to be
commitment on the part of the minister judging from his body language to
deal with violence. We hope he won’t indicate left and turn right."

The oppostion claims that the violence has not only continued but has
also increased against rank-and-file members in recent weeks, a charge
disputed by the authorities.

The MDC demanded that the minister should make a public statement
denouncing violence and punish perpetrators regardless of their political
affiliation. They also demanded that the minister should make a public
statement that the police should not be partisan.

Nkomo said they suggested the formation of a liaison committee that
would share information on violence. But it is not clear what the government’s
next step will be.

á


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Declared stateless in country of birth

Zim Independent

Orirando Manwere

HAVE you ever been declared stateless in a country you thought you
belonged to? It happened to me and I had to fight to regain my Zimbabwean
citizenship.

I was born Orlando (mispelt as Orirando) Manwere Mondhlani over three
decades ago at Muriel Mine Clinic in Mutorashanga, Lomagundi (Makonde)
district in Zimbabwe’s agro-rich Mashonaland West province.

My parents had settled at this gold mining town in the 1960s after
migrating from Mozambique from where they came along with my two elder
brothers and sisters.

Because of the colonial Portuguese influence upon my parents, we were
all christened with Portuguese names.

However, my proper name Orlando was somehow mispelt by a birth
registration officer as Orirando at the Chinhoyi district registry in 1976
when my mother took us there to get birth certificates.

It had to remain like that.

My immediate elder sister, two other younger ones and I were thus born
and bred at Muriel Mine where we all began our primary education in the late
70s before moving to Dalny Mine in Chakari where I completed my secondary
education.

After school, I worked as a temporary teacher in Chegutu Six
Resettlement Scheme between 1988 and 1992 before I started my childhood
dream profession — journalism at the Mashonaland West Telegraph in Chinhoyi
in 1993.

In February 1994, I was attested into the Zimbabwe Republic Police at
Morris Depot and was posted to Bulawayo Central where I briefly worked
before I was moved to the city’s provincial press and public relations
department.

In the department I worked as reporter for the police house
journal —The Outpost — between 1994 and 2001 after which I joined mainstream
media at the state run Sunday News in Bulawayo.

I believe I have over the years remained a loyal, law-abiding and
patriotic citizen of Zimbabwe and have significantly contributed towards
this nation as a teacher awaiting training, policeman and scribe.

However, despite having been earlier attested as a member of the
police force under which I loyally and patriotically rendered my services,
sometimes under harsh conditions, I was to get the shock of my life sometime
in 2001.

The state, under which I had served for over a decade in different
capacities, suddenly rendered me stateless alongside millions of others
whose parents originated from neighbouring Sadc countries.

We all fell victim to the controversial Citizenship of Zimbabwe
Amendment Act No. 12 of 2001 which sought to abolish dual citizenship by
requiring that those of us who were born and bred in Zimbabwe renounce the
alleged foreign citizenship of our parents countries’ of origin.

This was despite the fact that my parents underwent a similar
renunciation process before the 1985 general election and were issued with
Zimbabwean citizenship certificates.

I did not understand why they had to do the same again 16 years later.
I know my mother has kept her 1984 citizenship certificate as a treasure
behind a family picture frame at home.

I could hardly believe my ears when news about this controversial
piece of legislation was announced.

I was still in the police press office in Bulawayo then and I wondered
how I would continue serving in the police as a "foreigner".

There were many of us so affected by this legislation and we were told
to go to the district registrar’s offices where our renunciation processes
would be expedited.

The effect of this legislation caused a lot of confusion among
thousands of affected people, with some, out of frustration, deciding to
return to their parents’ countries of origin to turn over a new leaf.

I could not do likewise as my father had passed away earlier and had
secured a piece of land for my old mother and younger brothers and sisters
in Mount Darwin.

I sat on the fence for almost two years during which period I was
technically stateless and could not apply for either a Zimbabwean or
Mozambican passport.

Sometime in 2003, I crossed the rubicon and went to complete the
renunciation forms at the district registry after I failed to attend a
course in South Africa because my emergency travel document indicated that I
was a non-citizen.

A South African Embassy official had told me over the phone that if my
travel document indicated that I was Mozambican, I did not require a visa to
go to South Africa.

So, I had confidently left for Beitbridge only to be told that the
document should instead have been issued by the Mozambican embassy, not
Zimbabwe passport office.

This marked the beginning of the trials and tribulations that I have
gone through in this renunciation process.

After submitting the renunciation forms which I only did after
numerous trips to Makombe Building in Harare to obtain the required long
birth certificate which has my parents details, I only got the certificate
in April 2005 — exactly two years later.

I received a letter from the citizenship office in Harare advising me
to go and swear an oath of allegiance together with other successful
applicants at Drill Hall offices in Bulawayo.

There were over 20 of us on that day and we were sworn in by a Mrs
Ndlovu who first read some provision of the Zimbabwe Constitution and the
Amendment Act.

We got our certificates after the swearing in ceremony but were told
we could not immediately apply for Zimbabwean passports, as our names had to
be logged into the citizenship database.

I initially thought the process would be complete within a week, but
alas, I had to wait for another 14 months before I was told that my name was
"now in the system".

I had a situation where I was in possession of a Zimbabwe citizenship
certificate but was technically stateless because I was not yet in the
database.

I wondered how and why we were called in for the swearing-in ceremony
and handed certificates when the log-in process was not done.

In the meantime, I had to resort to applying for emergency travel
documents each time I had a trip out of the country.

Given the pressure at the passport office nationwide and the nature of
my duties, I have continued using emergency travel documents.

I am in the process of applying for a passport now that my name is in
the citizenship database, but the process continues to be cumbersome and
requires one to take leave particularly to go through the rigorous vetting
exercise.

The exercise again takes one to the citizenship office for
authentication of renunciation in the computers despite having an original
citizenship certificate.

These are some of the trials and tribulations I have gone through to
regain my lost Zimbabwean citizenship status.

There are thousands of colleagues who are still to make a decision to
renounce their alleged Mozambican, Malawian or Zambian citizenship status
due to a number of factors.

A colleague told me he was asked to bring long birth certificates and
identity documents for his late father or any of his relatives, but most
left for Malawi and he is in a quandary.

Most people still have the short birth certificates issued in the
1970s and early 1980s and are having a hectic period getting new ones from
regional offices of the Registrar-General.

It has been a cumbersome and frustrating experience and I can now
heave a sigh of relief though I feel for my colleagues who have not yet
started on this long and painful journey.

The Citizenship of Zimbabwe Amendment Act No. 12 of 2001 has affected
thousands of people despite numerous court challenges and rulings, prompting
the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Home Affairs and Defence to
research on the issue and advise government accordingly on the way forward.

Their research revealed that the Registrar-General’s office was
wrongly interpreting the provisions of the amendment and it was resolved
that there was need for a vigorous awareness campaign to enlighten people on
the Act.


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Unravelling Zanu PF's extraordinary congress

Zim Independent

By Jonathan Moyo

IS President Robert Mugabe facing extraordinary circumstances within
his ruling Zanu PF that are threatening to turn his controversial hold on
power into history?

The examination of this question has become urgent following the
formal adoption by the Zanu PF politburo on Wednesday — to be followed by
its central committee today — of President Mugabe’s astonishing decision to
convene an extraordinary congress on December 14 with two substantive agenda
items, the main of which will be to declare and confirm him as the ruling
party’s uncontested presidential candidate in the 2008 general election.

If the decision has any political message about Mugabe, it is to be
found in the adage that when roses are gone, nothing is left but the thorn.
Bereft of his disputed rosy appeal and with the vagaries of his old age
combining with his arrogance from having been in power for too long, Mugabe
has now become an irksome thorn that is hurting not only the soul of the
bleeding nation but also the interests of his own besieged party.

Mugabe’s decision to convene an extraordinary Zanu PF congress solely
to receive a report of the party’s central committee on the Sadc mediation
and thereafter to declare and confirm him as the ruling party’s presidential
candidate is in itself extraordinary, unprecedented and therefore
astonishing to the core. The fact that Mugabe has used his party’s politburo
and central committee this week to finalise such a decision without debate
or opposition demonstrates that Zanu PF has indeed become a sunset party
with no capacity to pursue, articulate and defend its own ideological and
political interests beyond Mugabe’s whims and caprices. The ruling party no
longer has the content, never mind the leadership, to survive Mugabe.

Curiously, the Zanu PF constitution does not have a provision
requiring the convening of an extraordinary congress for the sole purpose of
declaring and confirming the party’s president and first secretary as its
presidential candidate in an impending general election. The issue is dead
matter because it is common cause that, as far as the Zanu PF’s constitution
currently stands, whoever is the party’s president and first secretary is
also automatically its presidential candidate in national elections.

Even the most uninitiated in Zanu PF know that the party’s annual
people’s conference has an obligation to declare and confirm the incumbent
party leader as its presidential candidate in a general election. Ahead of
the March 2002 presidential election, the Zanu PF annual people’s conference
met in December 2001 in Victoria Falls where it declared and confirmed
Mugabe as the party’s presidential candidate. It was that simple.

Therefore, given the leadership outcome of the 2004 Zanu PF congress
and notwithstanding the controversy surrounding the elevation of Joice Mujru
as one of the two vice-presidents, there is nothing extraordinary about the
determination of Zanu PF’s presidential candidate in the 2008 general
election to warrant an extraordinary congress.

An extraordinary circumstance would have arisen had the person, and
that is Mugabe, elected as Zanu PF president and first secretary at the
party’s last congress in 2004, retired or if he intends to vacate his office
by December 14 or if he does not want to seek reelection in the 2008
presidential poll.

So what then are the extraordinary circumstances that have arisen to
cause Mugabe to convene an extraordinary Zanu PF congress with two agenda
items for the purpose of declaring and confirming him as the ruling party’s
2008 presidential candidate when that formality could have been
constitutionally and neatly discharged by the Zanu PF annual people’s
conference as has happened before?

Upon closer reflection, the answer lies in the historic 2006 annual
people’s conference in Goromonzi which rebuked and humiliated Mugabe by
rejecting his fanciful 2010 plan under which he sought to extend his even
more controversial presidency via the backdoor through which he would have
been appointed for two years from 2008 to 2010 by parliament when his
current term expires next March.

The Goromonzi conference not only rejected Mugabe’s 2010 petty project
but it also set in motion a very charged political process in Zanu PF within
which the party’s influential provincial and other lower structures, that
have been battered by the biting economic meltdown, started to openly and
confidently express themselves against Mugabe’s continued leadership in
favour of his succession by March 2008.

At that time, and well into the first quarter of 2007, at least seven
Zanu PF provinces were decidedly against Mugabe’s leadership and these
included Mashonaland East, Harare, Matabeleland North, Matabeleland South,
Bulawayo, Masvingo and the Midlands. Others such as Mashonaland Central,
Manicaland and Mashonaland West were anxiously sitting on a knife edge
virtually ready to follow the rest. The only visible but unconvincing
support for Mugabe then was coming from the top leadership of the youth and
women’s wings of the party, particularly through the half-hearted efforts of
Saviour Kasukuwere and Oppah Muchinguri respectively.

Mugabe’s securocrats were able to read from the fallout of the
Goromonzi experience that Zanu PF provinces opposed to Mugabe’s continued
leadership were not only in the majority but were also developing a capacity
and gaining momentum to use the 2007 annual people’s conference to show
Mugabe the exit door. The fact that the 2007 annual conference was scheduled
for Mashonaland Central, Joice Mujuru’s home province, added more anxiety to
that prospect and created uncertain and extraordinary circumstances for
Mugabe and his securocrats.

The political writing on the wall was clear: Going ahead with the 2007
conference in Bindura as per the Zanu PF constitution would not only run a
very high risk of reproducing the Goromonzi challenge to Mugabe but would
also open the floodgates for sealing the victory of that challenge.

As a result, Mugabe and his securocrats had to come up with a counter
strategy to respond to these developments which they saw as extraordinary
circumstances:

* Drop Mugabe’s 2010 plan rejected in Goromonzi;

* Get Mugabe to declare his willingness and readiness to seek
reelection in 2008 by planting the story in the media — which Mugabe did in
February while on an official visit to Namibia;

* Try and get the central committee to support and confirm this and if
it fails — as it did on March 30 — call for an extraordinary congress with a
limited agenda, as the party’s supreme body, to endorse Mugabe’s 2008
reelection bid beyond any internal challenge by declaring and confirming his
candidacy; and,

* Get the fearless if not provocative Jabulani Sibanda to operate
under the convenient platform of the liberation war veterans to preach
Mugabe’s reelection gospel by turning Mugabe into a superannuated idol and
by rubbishing party leaders — especially former PF Zapu elements in
Matabeleland and among Mujuru supporters — who are not playing ball and
party structures that are not following the line.

The above are the key elements of the new post-Goromonzi plan that
came into effect last February and now in full swing. Mugabe’s convening of
the extraordinary congress, and the uncritical adoption this week of a two
item agenda for that congress by the Zanu PF politburo and central
committee, have put a sudden and complete stop to the politicking and
scheming that has been going on in the party’s provincial structures in the
hope of ousting Mugabe.

This is because, whereas provincial structures are very involved in
contributing to the formulation of the agenda and resolutions of the annual
people’s conference, they have virtually no role in designing the agenda of
an extraordinary congress that takes place due to extraordinary
circumstances which are not coming from the provinces.

The two main agenda items of the forthcoming extraordinary congress,
namely, receiving a report of the central committee and declaring and
confirming Mugabe’s candidacy, have been formulated by Mugabe who then used
the party’s secretary for legal affairs, Emmerson Mnangagwa, to announce the
items at the politburo meeting on Wednesday as he will do at the central
committee meeting today.

While it is now a forgone conclusion that the extraordinary Zanu PF
congress will declare and confirm Mugabe as the ruling party’s 2008
presidential candidate, the fact that this will be achieved through
extraordinary measures when the issue was otherwise pretty ordinary means
that Zanu PF will go into the 2008 election campaign as a fundamentally
wounded and deeply divided party. As things stand, the Jabulani Sibanda
factor, which is central to Mugabe’s reelection strategy, has already
cracked open tribal faultlines within Zanu PF and has virtually put paid to
the Unity Accord.

Mugabe’s reelection campaign team will have to perform miracles to win
back the support of disgruntled and abused Zanu PF leaders and their
followers. Also, the team will need divine intervention to win the hearts
and minds of ordinary voters who have already been put off by Sibanda’s
shocking death call for Zimbabweans to "support Mugabe with our empty
stomachs and empty shelves" to the point of dying for him.


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Bakare replaces Kunonga

Zim Independent

Constantine Chimakure

THE battle to control the Anglican Diocese of Harare pitting the
Church of the Province of Central Africa against ousted Bishop Nolbert
Kunonga raged on this week with the province appointing retired Bishop
Sebastian Bakare as the acting bishop of the capital.

Kunonga was fired from the church last week after he withdrew the
Diocese of Harare from the province, made up of Anglican churches in Zambia,
Botswana, Malawi and Zimbabwe, citing rampant homosexuality in the church.

The controversial Kunonga, however, insisted he was still in charge of
the diocese and wanted to affiliate it to the Anglican Province of Kenya.

Sources in the church said Bakare — a former bishop of Manicaland —
was appointed by the dean of the province Albert Chama to take over Kunonga’s
position for a year before the election of a new bishop for the capital.

Bakare was appointed after it was realised he was a firm character and
that he was someone who could stand up to Kunonga.

"Chama also considered that Bakare was well respected and had a
demonstrable and respected record which endear him to the people in Harare,"
one of the sources said. "It was also realised that Bakare was mature and
courageous enough to make bold decisions and command respect."

Apart from appointing Bakare, Chama also sanctioned the church to
facilitate the issuing of summons against Kunonga for the return of its
assets and investments.

This followed a ruling by High Court judge, Justice Elphas Chitakunye,
on Sunday that the church’s application to compel the controversial Kunonga
to surrender the assets and investments was not urgent.

"What the province is proceeding in doing (appointing Bakare) is to
set up its Anglican leadership structures since the dismissal of Kunonga
last week," another source said. "That dismissal stands and his meeting last
Saturday is inconsequential as bishops are appointed by
archbishops...similarly they are fired by archbishops."

Kunonga held a special synod on Saturday and the state media reported
that the dismissed bishop was backed by the congregation to withdraw the
diocese from the province.

However, sources who attended the synod said the meeting was
"contested and chaotic" as dissatisfaction was raised with Kunonga’s
leadership style.

The sources said the synod was not legitimate because the required 18
days notice was not given. Further, synod members were not given agenda
papers to ensure adequate publication and distribution of what the meeting
was to discuss.

Yesterday, the Diocese of Harare Trust vice-chairperson Phillip Mutasa
said there was no going back on the expulsion of Kunonga from the church.

"What Kunonga has done is like having a child who denies his or her
surname and family. In other words there is no Anglican diocese which exists
on its own. Each diocese must have a surname and that surname is found in
belonging to a province," Mutasa said. "Kunonga withdrew from the Province
of Central Africa and he can no longer claim to be part of the Anglican
church or communion. He is now something else."


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War vet marches divide Zanu PF

Zim Independent

Constantine Chimakure

THE countrywide marches by war veterans leader Jabulani Sibanda to
drum up support for President Robert Mugabe ahead of Zanu PF’s special
congress in December has divided the party, with some senior officials
attending while others snub them.

The war veterans’ solidarity march in Marondera, Mashonaland East,
last Friday was boycotted by Zanu PF bigwigs in the province, among them
retired army general Solomon Mujuru and Defence minister Sydney Sekeremayi.

On Saturday, Sibanda took his roadshow to Bindura, Mashonaland
Central, where he got the backing of most senior ruling party officials.

Among Zanu PF officials who toyi-toyed and sloganeered with Sibanda
and his band of ex-combatants were provincial governor Ephraim Masawi, Youth
Development minister Saviour Kasukuwere and Bindura mayor Advocate Martin
Dinha.

A fortnight ago, Zanu PF officials in Bulawayo snubbed Sibanda’s march
and barred him and his group from using the party’s headquarters, arguing
that the province was yet to nominate its presidential candidate.

Earlier Sibanda had taken his marches to Masvingo where war veterans
in the province accused them of trying to hijack the party’s duty to elect
the presidium. Fist-fighting nearly broke out between Sibanda’s group and
that of ex-combatants in the province.

Sibanda and some war veterans want Mugabe to remain in power and are
pushing that the special congress’s main agenda be that of endorsing the
ageing leader.

While Sibanda is dividing the party, Zanu PF infighting in Mashonaland
Central took a new twist this week after the provincial executive put in
motion a move to suspend Bindura executive mayor Dinha on allegations he
branded the leadership "corrupt".

In a letter to Dinha dated October 20, provincial secretary for
administration Canicious Dengu summoned the mayor to a "meeting" on
Wednesday to answer allegations that he wrote an article in Zanu PF’s
official mouthpiece, The Voice, making serious and unsubstantiated claims
against the executive.

"You are hereby invited to a meeting to discuss matters that arose in
the last coordination meeting held in the function room on August 25 2007 on
Wednesday October 23 to be held at Zanu PF offices at 2pm," wrote Dengu.

"These were: that you wrote a story which was published in The People’s
Voice (sic) to the effect that the leadership of this province were corrupt
and therefore needed to be investigated as regards distribution of (central
bank) phase one tractors, thereby bringing the party into disrepute."

However, the meeting failed to take place as Dinha was reportedly in
Kariba attending a Zimbabwe Local Government Association indaba. But the
sources said the decision to summon Dinha was part of the infighting in the
ruling party between a faction led by national commissar and also Minister
without Portfolio Elliot Manyika and Kasukuwere and the other camp headed by
general Solomon Mujuru.

The Manyika faction want Mugabe to remain in power while the Mujuru
camp is backing Vice-President Joice Mujuru to replace the 83-year-old
veteran leader.

Dinha is perceived to be a Mujuru loyalist.

The mayor, Mashonaland Central governor Ephraim Masawi, and Monica
Mavhunga, are reportedly jostling to contest the Bindura seat currently
occupied by Manyika.


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New wave of farm invasions

Zim Independent

Augustine Mukaro

SENATE President Edna Madzongwe and a host of other top Zanu PF
officials and army officers are the main perpetrators of the latest wave of
farm invasions which are at variance with government’s theme declaring
2007/8 the "mother of all agricultural seasons".

Madzongwe invaded yet another Chegutu farm, Stockdale, owned by one of
the remaining white farmers, Richard Thomas Etheridge, defying a High Court
order issued in July barring her from moving onto the farm.

Madzongwe’s manoeuvres at Stockdale are just a microcosm of the
renewed farm invasions throughout the country led by Zanu PF officials and
top military officers.

In Masvingo, Chiredzi South MP, retired Brig-General Kalisto Gwanetsa,
gave a cane farmer in Chiredzi 14 days to leave his property. The farmer is
currently vacating.

Zanu PF provincial chairman retired Major Alex Mudavanhu invaded
Swanfontain Conservancy near Mutirikwi Dam.

In Mashonaland West Major General Nicholas Dube occupied Grand Parade
farm, forcing off the owner despite the existence of a court order allowing
him to remain operational until the finalisation of his case before the
courts. Dube stationed 15 soldiers on the farm who over the past week have
denied the farmer access to the property.

Meanwhile Makonde MP Leo Mugabe is caught in yet another farm wrangle
in which he allegedly backed a white farmer, Myles Hall, to remain on his
Summerhill Farm which has been served with a notice to be acquired for
resettlement. Mugabe is cited in a court application in which the farm
beneficiary Nomhle Mliswa alleges that she is being barred from getting onto
the farm. Mliswa claims the right to the property on the strength of an
offer letter dated April 12, 2007.

In Manicaland, three white farmers were reportedly under siege from
top military officers. The farmers have accused Zanu PF politicians of
grabbing one farm after another and running down the infrastructure at the
properties in the process.

Court documents in the possession of the Independent say Madzongwe —
who already owns Itape farm in Chegutu — invaded Stockdale Farm on October
7, accompanied by a lands officer, a Mr Kunonga, and five of her farm
workers. The senator was later joined by 11 more youths from her farm. The
lands officer advised the farm owner that he was unlawfully occupying the
property following the expiry of his acquisition notice. Etheridge and 10
other white farmers appeared in court last Friday charged with violating the
Consequential Provisions Act when they defied a final deadline of September
30, 2007 to leave the farms and make way for the compulsory government
acquisition.

"My son was ordered to immediately hand over all property — whether
movable or not — to the senator as it was claimed she was now the legal
owner of all property on Stockdale," Etheridge said in his affidavit. "He
reminded the senator of the provisions of the prior provisional order and
her forcible entry and claim to the possession of the property would
constitute a contempt of court."

Etheridge said Madzongwe left a gang of youths at the farm who on the
following day attempted to break into the house in the process beating up
Etheridge’s son who lives at the main farm house. The youths only retreated
following the intervention of the police.

According to a government decree, any government official or any other
individual in possession of more than one farm will be liable to
prosecution. But Madzongwe is seeking to grab a second farm.

She already has Itape farm, located adjacent to Stockdale Farm.

Madzongwe could not be reached for comment.

In July, the High Court of Zimbabwe ordered Madzongwe to vacate
Etheridge’s farm, which she had allegedly forcibly seized.

The order was in response to an urgent High Court application made by
Etheridge seeking to bar Madzongwe from seizing the farm and rendering an
offer letter that had been issued to Madzongwe by the Minister of Lands,
Land Reform and Resettlement, Didymus Mutasa null and void. High Court judge
Yunus Omerjee in his ruling granted Etheridge interim relief barring
Madzongwe from entering the farm.

In court papers filed at the High Court in July, Etheridge claimed
Madzongwe and other people acting on her behalf entered his farm and
occupied a part of it eagerly anticipating Etheridge’s eviction following
the farmer’s appearance in court.

The forcible occupation occurred after Mutasa had served Etheridge
with a notice, dated May 2, 2007, to vacate the farm by August 30 to make
way for Madzongwe.

On June 15, the farmer was served with another notice informing him of
the government’s intention to acquire equipment and materials from the farm.

Etheridge said Madzongwe’s offer letter for the property, dated March
6, was null and void, as the farm had not been acquired.


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NMB fraud sucks in more managers

Zim Independent

Shakeman Mugari

HEADS have started rolling at NMB Bank following recent revelations by
the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ)’s investigating team that there were
other managers who were involved in the US$6,3 million scandal that rocked
the bank five months ago.

The bank has suspended two more senior managers it suspects of having
been part of the syndicate that siphoned foreign currency from the bank
through fraudulent activities that spanned more that 18 months before they
were discovered in March.

Businessdigest can reveal that Allen Kajongwe, an assistant manager
responsible for reconciliations was suspended together with Collet
Zvarevashe who was a supervisor in the back office when the fraud took
place.

They were both served with suspension letters on October 12, almost
five months after the fraud was discovered.

Zvarevashe was the assistant manager in the middle office. It is
understood that more senior managers are going to be asked to leave based on
the findings of a forensic auditing company hired by the central bank to
investigate the bank.

"We are mainly concerned with their involvement in the deals and also
their failure to detect the fraud in their respective responsibilities in
the bank’s structure," said a senior manager who is part of disciplinary
team at the bank.

An internal confidential document seen by businessdigest shows that
Kajongwe’s case arose from the fact that as the assistant manager
responsible for reconciliations he should have been the first to realise the
mismatch in the bank’s accounts.

Kajongwe was responsible for reconciling foreign bank accounts and
local equivalent of the foreign currency reflected in the bank’s off-shore
accounts. He was supposed to compare all the foreign currency accounts with
the amount in the FCA accounts and the bank’s money.

These figures were supposed to be balanced everyday. The balancing
figures were supposed to be used by the bank’s asset and liability committee
to make decisions.

Zvarevashe was fired because he is the one who signed the bulk of the
transactions that turned out to be fraudulent when he was still a supervisor
in the back office. He was an authorised signatory of "A" level which means
he had the power to sign off a transaction without the approval of the
senior management in the back office.

Kajongwe and Zvarevashe’s suspension brings to eight the number of
managers who include five senior officials in the treasury office who have
been told to leave since the fraud was discovered.

They include Learnmore Chitima (head of treasury), Onias Dhaidhai
(assistant general manager), and Simon Ngarande (senior manager front
office), Watson Chakawa (manager local dealing), Tawanda Mushaya (foreign
dealer) and Oliver Mutseyekwa (senior manager, back office). Chakawa was
fired for a transaction he was made to sign by chief suspect, Shane Mandara,
during a lunch break because there were no senior managers in the treasury
department to approve the transaction.

There is now discontent at the bank with allegations that some
executives have been spared the chop because of their positions.

The fired managers allege that they were being used as sacrificial
lambs to appease the central bank which has directed that action be taken.


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Govt suspends issuing prospecting orders

Zim Independent

Augustine Mukaro

GOVERNMENT has suspended the issuance of mining Exclusive Prospecting
Orders (EPOs), bringing to a standstill hundreds of exploration work in the
country.

Hundreds of EPO applications submitted by prospective mine developers
as far back as 2003 have not been processed, depriving the country of
exploration money.

Speculation is now rife that government wants the mining sector to be
indigenised before opening it up to more players.

The Indigenisation and Empowerment Bill, which forces foreign
companies to sell 51% to locals, is now awaiting President Robert Mugabe’s
approval.

Sam Chikowore, the operations director of Exporien Mining, an
exploration firm, said no new EPOs has been issued despite the industry’s
representation to the relevant ministries and the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe.

Chikowore said the development has stalled any new works in the mining
industry and even forced investors to opt for neighbouring countries like
Mozambique, Namibia and Madagascar.

"We are now seeking audience with the highest office because
representations to the relevant ministries have failed to yield any
results," Chikowore said.

"I have lost at least three bona fide investors to Mozambique, Namibia
and Madagascar."

Chikowore said the mining sector has been neglected compared to other
sectors such as agriculture. Government should put in place mechanisms to
safeguard the sector to ensure that players develop the mines before they
offload it.

Although mining ministry permanent secretary Thulani Ndlovu could not
be reached for comment, senior officials in the ministry’s Geological Survey
department confirmed that there were no EPOs being processed.

"We are waiting for a government directive to process the
applications," one cartographer said. "There are a number of applications
dating back to 2003."

Chikowore said the Indigenisation and Empowerment Bill, which offered
49% to foreign investors, would be counterproductive considering the nature
of the sector.

"Mining is very capital intensive particularly in procurement and
maintenance of plant and mining equipment which is usually met by foreign
investors," he said. "To then offer an investor 49% considering his input
would not be very encouraging. No investor would want to be a minority in
such a venture."

Chikowore said the sector believed that the indigenisation programme
should have been a process done over a timeframe. He said government could
also boost production in the sector through investing in servicing the
equipment.

"Government can establish control units to provide service to the
plant and mining equipment because costs for hiring or maintaining the
equipment are very prohibitive and has adversely affected output."


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Air Zim asks CBZ, ZABG to replace fleet

Zim Independent

Paul Nyakazeya

AIR Zimbabwe which has been in a financial crisis for the past eight
years has approached the Commercial Bank of Zimbabwe (CBZ) and Zimbabwe
Allied Banking Group (ZABG) for funds to replace its ageing fleet.

Air Zimbabwe board chairman, Mike Bimha, told a parliamentary
committee on Transport and Communication this week the company has been
having difficulties finding financial partners to renew its fleets.

He said foreign funders have also not been forthcoming. Bimha said the
new plan was now to work with CBZ and ZABG.

"We (Air Zimbabwe) are in talks with CBZ and ZABG over a possible
funding," said Bimha. "We have had a number of meetings and are confident
something will come up. There are other financial institutions which we have
lined up but I cannot say anything for now," Bimha said.

Bimha said the national airline need about US$100 million and $500
billion from shareholders to revive its operations.

Air Zimbabwe chief executive, Peter Chikumba, said off-shore banks
were not interested in funding the project because of the airline’s poor
creditworthiness. He however said plans were underway to enter into
strategic partnerships with airlines in Africa and Europe to improve
operations.

"We have had no less than four meetings with Reserve Bank governor
over the airline’s critical foreign currency requirements. At the moment we
are not in a position to say if anything has materialised," he said.

Meanwhile the Air Zimbabwe board failed to explain what had happened
to former acting Air Zimbabwe chief executive, Captain Oscar Madombwe.

Last month businessdigest revealed that Madombwe had been pushed out
after he presented a negative technical report discouraging government and
Air Zimbabwe from buying planes from Russia.

Bimha said Madombwe was on leave, but his fate would be decided
"soon".

Committee members were not convinced by Bimha’s explanations and
announced that the committee had set up a four-member commission of inquiry
to investigate the circumstances surrounding Madombwe’s fate as they felt
something was amiss.

Committee chairman Leo Mugabe said: "We have appointed a four-member
commission of enquiry. In fact the committee is not happy with the whole
issue of human resources at Air Zimbabwe.

"We will need to engage the former chairman of your human resources
committee, Luxon Zembe, to help us," Mugabe said.

Bimha said after having been acting CEO for a period, Madombwe was
asked to revert to his previous posting at the airline’s subsidiary National
Handling Services as managing director. Bimha said Madombwe had refused the
offer because he felt the new position would not offer him new challenges.

Captain Madombwe was one of the three short-listed candidates for the
Air Zimbabwe CEO. The others were Chikumba and Nkosinathi Sibanda.

Bimha said both candidates were all capable of getting the job but
Chikumba got the job because of his international exposure because he had
worked for Air Namibia and the International Air Transport Association.

"The minister approved Chikumba and we asked Madombwe if he wanted to
go back to his previous post as managing director of National Handling
Services but he said having been there before, and having been to the top of
the airline, the position offered him offered no challenges."


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Ethiopian Airlines wants out, govt begs it to stay

Zim Independent

GOVERNMENT is desperately trying to dissuade Ethiopian Airlines from
pulling out of the Harare route, businessdigest can reveal.

Ethiopian Airlines has indicated that it will pull out of the Harare
route on November 15. The airline has since informed travel agents not to
take bookings for dates beyond November 15.

British Airways (BA) announced plans to pull out of Zimbabwe two
months ago citing serious viability problems. BA will make its last flight
to Harare on Sunday.

Businessdigest understands that government has approached Air Zimbabwe
officials to help persuade Ethiopian Airlines from leaving.

Sources say Air Zimbabwe officials have been meeting with Ethiopian
Airlines’ management for the past four weeks.

"Hopes are high that they will persuade Ethiopian Airlines to remain
in Zimbabwe before November 15. They might succeed or fail, I think it is
too early to make such a public announcement before negotiations are
complete," a source close to the talks said this week.

The source said it is this new development that could have prompted
Air Zimbabwe chief executive Peter Chikumba to tell the parliamentary
committee on Transport and Communications that Ethiopian Airlines had
reversed its earlier decision to pull out. Chikumba told the committee that
Ethiopian Airlines was no longer leaving the country as the two airlines had
reached an agreement. He however did not clarify what kind of an agreement
the two companies had reached.

"Ethiopian Airlines is no longer leaving the country, as previously
indicated. They will still be around," Chikumba said.

Aviation sources however insist that contrary to Chikumba’s claim, the
airline will still leave the country as scheduled.

"They said they had worked hard to improve the profitability of the
route over the past few years but, although revenues have increased,
passenger volumes have reduced while costs have spiralled," the sources
said.

The economic situation in Zimbabwe has contributed to a decline of
passenger volumes over the past six years. International tourists, the major
source of passengers for airlines, have shunned Zimbabwe because of security
concerns. The situation has been worsened by the closure of companies and
the collapse of the export sector.

A total of 18 international airlines have left the country since the
economic crisis started 10 years ago.

They include Lufthansa, Qantas, Austrian Airlines, Swissair, Air
India, Air France, and TAP Air Portugal. — Staff Writer.


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The Zimbabwe crisis: Lessons from survivors

Zim Independent

By Nhlanhla Nyathi

ECONOMIC commentators, financial analysts, and political scientists
have described Zimbabwe in its past 10 years of recession as an economy on
the verge of collapse.

Published articles in the local and international media continue to
paint a gloomy picture with virtually no anticipated economic recovery in
our generation.

To show the gravity of the crisis, over the years, in response to the
various economic challenges, the country has come up with more than five
economic blue prints that have however failed to revive the economy. The
ordinary person on the street is still suffering and indications are that
the situation could get worse before it gets better.

Popular revolutionary themes have even been used by President Robert
Mugabe to describe the various cabinets to inspire the desired action to no
avail. The development cabinet failed to win the battled against the
economic recession. The development cabinet also failed to revive the
economy.

Despite all these efforts, especially considering the obstacles the
country is up against it seems the battle is being lost. The biblical David
and Goliath story might just be a fairy tale for us. Zimbabweans normally
revered for their tenacity and strong-will appear to be finally faltering
and reaching the breaking point.

A solution needs to be found soon before things go bad irreversibly.
There ought to be a national consensus that Zimbabwe cannot continue like
this and should come first above all considerations.

It is without argument that the trial and error approach of trying to
solve Zimbabwe’s problems so far is not yielding the results that we want.

A new course of radical thinking needs to be charted to find lasting
solutions. A good starting point could be an in-depth study of other
economies that have gone through more or less similar problems.

This concept described as empirical evidence in various disciplines of
academia finds justifiable credence even in law through legal precedents.
One such good point of reference is Malaysia during the Asian financial
crisis of 1997.

Before focusing on the nature of the financial crisis and the various
measures employed to solve the crisis, readers need to be equipped with some
background information on Malaysia for comparability purposes with the
Zimbabwean economy.

Malaysia’s geographical location is strategically positioned between
the great civilisations. To the west are Hindu India, the Islamic Middle
East and Christian Europe. To the north-east are China and Japan. The
shipping routes from China to the west pass through the region. This has
made Malaysia a natural meeting place of trade routes and cultures,
something which has brought the area great wealth, foreign influence and
domination. Since 1970, the United Malays National Organisation has ruled
Malaysia almost as a one-party state, co-opting the Chinese and Indian
leaderships through the device of the "National Front Coalition".

The orientation of the Malaysian economy since independence in 1957
has largely been in the direction of a market-based economy, whereby the
private sector is allowed to operate freely, while the government provides
the broad thrusts, directions and strategies. This mixed economic system and
market-oriented reforms have produced significant results and tangible
benefits for the Malaysian people. The private sector has been at the
forefront of economic development with the manufacturing and services
sectors contributing significantly in terms of export earnings and
employment opportunities.

The transition from a predominately agriculture and mining-based
economy in the 60s, 70s and mid-80s to an outward-looking one with export of
manufactured goods rising to nearly 100% of GDP and the expansion of the
services sectors in the late 80s and 90s was achieved with relative ease.
Prices were not controlled, interest rates market-determined and there was a
general liberalisation of economic activities.

The transition to a productivity-driven economy as initially envisaged
in the Seventh Malaysian Plan was partly curtailed by the Asian crisis in
mid-1997. The economy contracted by 7,4% in 1998 after growing on average by
8% per annum from 1991-1997.

Large scale infrastructure projects totalling 60 billion Malaysian
ringgits were deferred under government austerity measures, which also saw
ministers and top civil servants taking pay cuts. Towards the end of 1997,
the ringgit registered an all-time low against the US dollar. The Prime
Minister of Malaysia blamed international financier George Soros as the man
who caused the ringgit to decline, along with unbridled currency trading,
which he claimed robbed poor nations of their wealth.

The crisis led to sharp declines in the currencies, stock markets, and
other asset prices of a number of Asian countries. It threatened financial
systems, and disrupted the real economies of the Asian Tigers, with large
contractions in activity that created a human crisis alongside the financial
one.

In addition to its severe effects in Asia, the crisis put pressure on
emerging markets outside the region: contributed to virulent contagion and
volatility in international financial markets. As the crisis unfolded, the
IMF blamed weaknesses in financial systems and subsequently projected that
because of its effects, world growth initially projected at 4% would decline
to 2%. During the early part of the currency crisis, Malaysia voluntarily
adopted IMF type policies. But this did not work, as the high interest rates
added to the corporate and banking crisis; the flexible exchange rate policy
enabled the ringgit to depreciate to an all time low against the US dollar;
freedom in capital mobility allowed funds to flow out; and the cutbacks in
government expenditure added to recessionary pressures.

But in January 1998, Malaysia began to seek its own winning formula to
keep its appointment with being a fully developed nation by 2020. It created
the National Economic Action Council (NEAC) to formulate and implement short
and medium-term policies to revive the economy, restore confidence and
strengthen Malaysia’s economic base. In mid-1998, NEAC launched its major
initiative, the National Economic Recovery Plan.

What makes the Malaysia solution of the financial crisis of particular
interest to Zimbabwe is that it oversaw its recovery not with
IMF-administered austerity measures but with its own policies that included
a highly controversial experiment with capital controls. That move made
Malaysia, and especially its firebrand Prime Minister Mohamed Mahathir, an
object of derision in orthodox financial circles but a champion for others
seeking an alternative to financial-market-dictated economic development.

Next week we look into greater detail at the measures taken by the
Malaysian government to solve the financial crisis.

* Nhlanhla Nyathi is an independent financial analyst. He can be
contacted on 0912 250 092.


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Zimbabwean crisis assumes deadening proportions

Zim Independent

By Nelson Chamisa

IT is now clear that Zimbabwe’s crisis has reached the tipping point.
The current shortage of electricity has affected major institutions
including our hospitals, schools and universities, industry is now operating
at less than 10% capacity and household property has been damaged by thee
intermittent power outages.

Preparations for the farming season, especially irrigation, have been
severely hampered by power shortages, further denting the already unlikely
prospect of an expedient recovery to our battered economy.

Seventy-five percent of the suburbs have been without electricity for
more than three months. Elsewhere, basic commodities are either in short
supply or are available at much higher prices than the ordinary man can
afford.

Bread is now equivalent to gold in scarcity, if not worse. Schools
have collapsed while the health sector has been severely crippled by the
brain drain, lack of medicines and the power shortages which have played
havoc with our collapsing economy.

Ten percent of those who are still in employment are walking to work
because of lack of transport. Fuel stations remain dry and long queues have
become a permanent spectacle. Civil servants are still grappling with low
salaries as the recent "increments" cannot even last them for five days.

An average worker from Chitungwiza needs $12 million in transport
alone every month, against an average salary of $5 million. Workers are
spending 80% of their productive time in queues in search of basic
commodities.

To compound the plight of ordinary Zimbabweans, the regime continues
to murder, to maim, to assault, to intimidate and to arrest members of the
opposition, students and civic society. The politics of the sword remains
Zanu PF’s catchword. In the rural areas, our parents, brothers and sisters
are starving due to food shortages. Over four million Zimbabweans need food
assistance. Zanu PF continues to use food as a political weapon and for
sloganeering. Our parents are walking for long distances due to lack of
transport in scenes reminiscent of the pre-1980 Rhodesian era.

The MDC calls upon all Zimbabweans to rise beyond their political
affiliations and say no to this chaos. Let’s unite across tribe and race,
across religious and social standing and demand the immediate return of our
lost dignity. IWe have to take our plight in our own hands.

The regime is looking inwards instead of focusing on the endemic
crisis besetting the nation. They are not worried about our suffering. They
are busy with their factional fights ahead of the Zanu PF extra-ordinary
congress in December.

* Nelson Chamisa is MDC secretary for information and publicity.


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Dollar continues getting battered

Zim Independent

Paul Nyakazeya

THE weakening of the Zimbabwe dollar against major currencies has been
a reflection of the rise of real prices of commodities relative to prices of
the same goods in US dollars.

Considering exchange rate relationships, an exchange rate of US$1 to
$840 000 measures in part how much of a good (for example one loaf of bread)
is paid in US dollars relative to the price for the same good in Zimbabwe —
the purchasing power parity.

It can be observed that the parallel exchange rate of US$1 was $2 900
on January 2 before it shot up to $840 000 on Tuesday this week, but price
levels of goods purchased in the US remained at US$1 between January and
October 23, while the price levels of the same goods over the same period in
Zimbabwe moved in relative terms from $2 900 to $830 000, representing 28
520,6% inflation per annum. A bank transfer is being done above $1,2
million.

The crash of the dollar against major currencies has eroded the
purchasing power of consumers who were already reeling from high prices and
shortages of basic commodities. Apart from the fall of the dollar on the
parallel market, there was a state of collapse of certain systems like
water, telephones, power and health.

Zimbabwe Allied Banking Group (ZABG) group economist David Mupamhadzi
said the movement of the dollar on the parallel market reflected high demand
and depressed supply.

"The impact is being felt by the ordinary man on the street as prices
of goods and services are being priced using parallel market rates when
disposable incomes are not being adjusted in line with parallel market
rates," Mupamhadzi said.

Other major trading currencies — the British pound, the South African
rand and Botswana pula — were moving around the benchmark US dollar rate.

The local unit was trading above $1 700 000, 125 000 and 140 000 to
the British pound, the South African rand and Botswana pula respectively on
Tuesday.

The local currency opened the year trading at $5 100, $380 and $400 to
the British pound, South African rand and Botswana pula respectively.

Mupamhadzi said the situation had become so bad companies and
individuals were buying foreign currency as an investment tool to hedge
against inflation.

"The country urgently needs balance of payments support since it does
not have capacity to generate enough foreign currency," said Mupamhadzi.

Some exporters this week said the fair value of the Zimbabwe dollar
was estimated to be above $1 million. The fair value is the realistic value
of the currency taking into account inflation differentials between Zimbabwe
and its trading partner countries. It is not necessarily the official
exchange rate.

Economic consultant, John Robertson, said it was not an intelligent
move to control the exchange rate when there was a serious scarcity of
foreign currency on the market.

"People will turn to the more lucrative parallel market and thus widen
the spread with the interbank rate. The mechanisms being addressed by
government have over the years been wrong as the scarcity problem was not
being addressed," said Robertson.

Robertson said buyers were increasing in numbers, but there were no
sellers on the official market.

"The central bank should boost foreign currency inflows by promoting
exports," Robertson said.

The country’s streets are paved with discarded Zimbabwean dollar notes
which is not common in any country in the world and nobody bothers to pick
them up reflecting how far the currency has lost its value. The local
currency has become a conundrum, even a joke, to many Zimbabwean children.

According to the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions, 80% of the country’s
population is unemployed and living below the poverty datum line.

Former president of the Zimbabwe National Chamber of Commerce Luxon
Zembe said it did not make economic sense to control the exchange rate when
inflows were depressed, as it will only widen the gap.

"The exchange rate should be determined by market forces," he said.

The rate at which the Zimbabwe dollar was losing value on the parallel
market indicates how the local money was quickly becoming worthless,
payments in kind and barter trade slowly becoming the order of the day.

Price quotations are now valid for at least three days.

Economists said the country’s economy is being carried by the informal
sector, arguing that if it was totally formal, it would have totally
collapsed a long time ago.

Apart from demand and supply, the direction of the movement of the
dollar had been triggered by skewed policies by government, the Reserve Bank
buying foreign currency on the parallel market and availability of fuel.

Genesis Bank group economist Brains Muchemwa said the fall of the
dollar on the parallel market was a result of more imported inflation on
household balance sheets especially considering the high propensity to
import caused by the huge output gap that exists in Zimbabwe.

"Because wages are not indexed to the exchange rate depreciation,
consumers get worse off. Of late the sharp depreciation has emanated from
acute broad money supply growth and heavy imports for almost all commodities
as evidenced by availability of imported South African goods in most retail
shops in town on basic commodities, from toothpaste to juices that are not
under price controls," Muchemwa said.

Muchemwa said there was no way to stop the current acute depreciation
at the present moment, so the freefall might continue for a little longer.


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Dangers of unprocedural decisions

Zim Independent

By Pedzisai Ruhanya

ONE of the greatest strengths of opposition political groups in
democratic struggles in any given society is the adherence to norms and
values governing a civilised and democratic society in order to position
themselves as an antithesis to autocratic rule such as the one in Zimbabwe.

In this regard, opposition political parties gain credibility by
conducting their business on the highest plane of dignity.

They do so through complying with their constitutions, rules and
regulations, respecting their structures, shunning corruption, nepotism,
tribalism, and observing the rule of law, among other issues related to
democratic governance.

It is through democratic norm compliance and continuous insistence on
following laid down procedures in the governance of their party affairs that
opposition groups gain credibility as alternatives to corrupt, abusive and
norm-violating regimes such as the one governing the affairs of Zimbabwe.

The opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), in this instance
the one led by Morgan Tsvangirai, is failing by a very wide margin to
operate in a procedural manner in the running of its affairs.

The dissolution of the national executive of the Women’s Assembly of
this faction and the manner in which the group endorsed Constitutional
Amendment Number 18 as part of its negotiations with Zanu PF under the talks
being mediated by South African President Thabo Mbeki were unprocedural.

Such tendency by an opposition political party that seeks to govern
and has the potential to do so needs to be interrogated and criticised
because they fall outside the premise of democratic norms which the party
says it stands for.

Firstly, my understanding is that the Women’s Assembly of the MDC was
dissolved by a subcommittee without the recommendation of the national
council of that party. Why the subcommittee and not the national council
made the decision points to an illicit decision by the opposition political
party.

A party such as the MDC which has done some tremendous work in the
democratisation process in Zimbabwe should be ashamed to find itself in such
a situation. It is shameful in that what the Tsvangirai group did is not
different from what Zanu PF does in the administration of the affairs of
this country.

The decision by this faction is similar to what Mugabe did in 2004
when he forced the politburo of that party and not the congress to choose
the vice-president of the ruling party. This saw the elevation of Joice
Mujuru to the post of vice-president of the party and consequently of the
country in total violation of the party constitution. The congress that
followed was academic. Those who were campaigning for their preferred
candidates were hounded out of the party and this saw the expulsion of six
provincial chairpersons for attempting to respect the party’s constitution.

My understanding and the expectations of Zimbabweans is to see a
different culture of doing things by the opposition in order that this
country returns to democratic legitimacy. However, the MDC seems to think
that there is nothing wrong in the manner that Mugabe governs the country.
Breaking party rules is becoming an ingredient of opposition administration
in Zimbabwe.

What is more worrying is that like in Zanu PF, the MDC in the case of
the dissolution of the Lucia Matibenga-led Women’s Assembly there is a group
of unelected officials who use their closeness to Tsvangirai to abuse party
processes and violate laid down procedures.

This group in the case of the Women’s Assembly is led by Ian Makone
who lost to Tendai Biti during their congress in March 2006 when he
attempted to be the secretary-general of the faction. Having lost the
elections, Makone was appointed by Tsvangirai to the post of director of
elections.

Makone’s wife Theresa is a very close ally to the party president’s
family and following the unconstitutional dissolution of Matibenga’s
executive Theresa is campaigning to take over the leadership. Not that there
is anything wrong for her to do that but why should she attempt to be a
beneficiary of an unlawful process? To make matters worse, there are
allegations that she had a hand in the dissolution of that body outside the
provisions of the MDC constitution using financial power.

The MDC has also failed to give the reasons for the unconstitutional
dissolution. If the Matibenga-led executive had flouted party rules and
regulations or was incompetent, why is the whole executive being allowed to
contest to retain their posts?

If there are no adequate reasons for the dissolution of the Women’s
Assembly, there is something wrong with the month of October given that the
greatest crisis to face the opposition party was in October 2005. If that is
the case then surely the MDC should exorcise itself from the "ghost of
October".

There has been talk that there is a group of unelected officials who
misled Tsvangirai to disregard party processes and Makone has been mentioned
on several occasions. The current saga seems to suggest that indeed Makone
has a very strong influence on Tsvangirai but the question remains whether
the influence benefits the party or may lead to its collapse in the
long-run.

The other procedural matter is how the MDC led by Tsvangirai endorsed
Constitutional Amendment Number 18. I am not going to deal with the merits
or demerits of the constitutional amendment because for me that is the most
notorious way of a constitution-making process. Parliament is not the
platform to write a national constitution in a democratic society.

In this matter the Tsvangirai group never held either an executive or
national council meeting where members could debate and make a collective
decision on such a crucial matter. How that decision became binding on the
MDC is a matter of speculation. It boggles the mind to understand the
difficulty in following such simple procedures in the administration of the
party. In the event that members of the party question the decision and
accuse the leadership of violating party protocols and rules, it puts the
party leadership in a very questionable position of its commitment to
observe democratic values.

There seems to be a group in the MDC which is aligned to Tsvangirai
which thinks that taking unilateral decisions that violate party rules is a
show of strong leadership.

This group does so knowing well that its illicit will can only prevail
by circumventing party protocol and avoiding democratic structures of the
party. The challenge lies squarely on Tsvangirai. What is happening in the
MDC that he leads is a litmus test of his ability to administer the affairs
of his party in a transparent and accountable manner with due respect to the
operating framework of that organisation. When things go well or bad people
will remember Tsvangirai as the MDC leader. For instance how many people can
remember the Minister of Finance or Justice during Mobutu Sese Seko’s rule
in Zaire?

Zimbabwe is currently facing a serious crisis of governance and
legitimacy as a result of disputed elections, disrespect of the rule of law,
human rights violations and corruption among other things. If one looks at
the genesis of these problems, it’s not difficult to locate them in the
political party currently in power, Zanu PF.

The culture of impunity associated with Zanu PF rule has been
transferred to the state and replicated in all the security apparatus in the
country. Zanu PF’s disdain for the rule of law and its unquenchable thirst
for power by any means necessary even through murder and violence has been
transferred to the state.

What people in opposition political parties, Tsvangirai included, need
to appreciate is that Zimbabwe critically needs a regime change which
implies a change in governance and not necessarily a change in government.

* Pedzisai Ruhanya is a human rights researcher


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Mzembi’s call in the wilderness

Zim Independent

Comment

THE deputy Minister of Water Resources and Infrastructural Development
Walter Mzembi says government is working on a "framework allowing residents
and ratepayers to be directly involved in the management of water" so that
they appreciate the problems faced by Zinwa.

"What is critical is a buy-in from residents and it should not take
the whole minister to come down to residents and explain to them on water
delivery but they should be asking among themselves through their
representatives," he told residents of Chitungwiza during a tour of the
suburb by a joint parliamentary portfolio committee on Local Government,
Public Works, Urban Development and Health.

As we read this, we were reminded of equally plaintive calls by
Reserve Bank governor Gideon Gono for an end to further farm invasions if
the nation is to achieve food self-sufficiency. They have fallen on the deaf
ears of those in charge of the Zimbabwean ship of state. We don’t expect
Mzembi to fare any better given government’s voracious appetite to have its
fingers in every pie.

As if to confirm this gloomy forecast, instead of listening to
objections by Bulawayo residents to Zinwa taking over water delivery and
sewage reticulation in the city, government has issued a "directive" for a
forced takeover, according to a press release by the Bulawayo council. This
is despite overwhelming failure by this imposition to provide adequate
services in all the other cities where it has taken over such as Harare,
Mutare, Masvingo,Victoria Falls, Kariba, Chinhoyi and Bindura.

Explaining the implications of the takeover, Bulawayo executive mayor
Japhet Ndabeni Ncube said council would lose 40% of its revenue to Zinwa
without a concomitant assurance of improved service delivery. He said people
had no faith in the parastatal’s capacity to reverse a crippling water
crisis in the city for the past few months.

The evidence is there for all to see, but that is really not the
point. What government is interested in is money as demonstrated in the
latest rates increases for water even as residents go for up to two weeks on
end without a drop of water from their faucets.

Mzembi warned of disease outbreaks in high density suburbs which have
gone without water for a number of weeks. Hospitals and clinics have been
badly affected as well, with most of them reporting a rise in cases of
diarrhoeal outbreaks.

But the tour by the parliamentary committee must have been the
proverbial eye-opener for some MPs who have been leading cocooned lives from
the rest of us ordinary mortals. One MP is reported to have ended the tour
prematurely after being sick when she witnessed raw sewer flowing in front
of residents’ houses.

One Chitungwiza resident said the raw sewage had been flowing in front
of his house for at least three months. Zinwa took over these functions
nearly a year ago from commissions imposed by Local Government minister
Ignatious Chombo who had unilaterally fired popularly-elected MDC
councillors.

This then begs the question as to where Mzembi is getting the latest
fable that government wants residents to be involved in water management
through their elected representatives? That is precisely what government is
fighting. It wants to impose its will everywhere, from mining to
manufacturing to civic affairs.

Conversely, city residents and ratepayers are not interested in the
"challenges" which Zinwa is experiencing. They did not invite it to assume
their responsibility and they have no representatives in its structures.
Given the option by a government concerned about people’s opinions, they
would rather revert to elected councillors and mayors who would be
accountable to those who elect them.

The essence of democracy is that you choose those who rule over you.
You vote them out when they fail to deliver on their promises.
Decentralisation of power to local authorities calls for no less. Yet in
Zimbabwe you have the archetypal power-mongers who will not brook the
formation of something as basic as an independent ratepayers’ association so
long as it is perceived as a possible power base for opposition politics.

We would all love to be optimistic and believe that Mzembi is correct
about this framework which includes all stakeholders in water management.
Unfortunately the Zanu PF government’s behaviour over the years has not
prepared us for such na´ve optimism so long as there is a threat to its hold
on power.


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Where to draw line on human rights

Zim Independent

Candid Comment

By Joram Nyathi

ZIMBABWE’S Supreme Court ruled last week that a primary school pupil
at Ruvheneko in Glen Norah, Harare could not be barred for his dreadlocks.
This act "infringed" on the pupil’s "human rights" as enshrined in the
constitution, it was reported.

On the face of it, the mention of fundamental rights is sound. While
the ruling may be legally valid, there is something curious about how the
decision was arrived at, at least as reported in the Herald.

The first point is one of discipline. To me if a school cannot enforce
discipline on pupils, then the headmaster and teachers lose their role as
surrogate parents to whom we surrender, by choice, our children as we go
about our business. That discipline includes deciding what uniform a
particular school chooses.

If I choose that my child shall not put on a particular school
uniform, I won’t send my child to that school. It is not for the school to
change its uniform. Fundamental rights have to be enjoyed within a certain
social setting, not in a vacuum.

Headmasters may not necessarily be empowered at law to make rules
governing the conduct of children at their schools, but because of the
responsibility reposed in them by parents, they face a dilemma when a single
parent turns around to undermine their authority by making unreasonable
demands on them.

Farai Benjamin Dzvova was not barred from attending Ruvheneko primary
school on the basis of his "religious beliefs". It was more of the father
imposing his will on the school and asking the court to endorse it.

If in all material cases a minor of eight years cannot contract or
enter a binding agreement about his life and what is good for him, how is
Farai supposed to have made a deliberate decision on a complex subject such
as religion? Is it not self-evident that the father, having himself made a
conscious decision to become a Rastafarian, that is if one he is, most
likely many years after leaving school, made the decision for the child,
fully aware that it was against school regulations?

Most of us were brought up on a Christian diet where it was mandatory
to attend Sunday school. The school enforced attendance on the pain of
severe punishment. I wonder how many of us still go to church every Sunday
for any reason than to keep up appearances or to show off our latest 4x4. Is
it suggested by this court decision that Farai must live by his father’s
decision even when he attains adulthood, given its effect on the role of
headmasters countrywide?

I can understand when government says a pupil cannot be expelled from
school because his/her parents can’t afford the fees or the school uniform.
The logic here is that education is a fundamental right of every child, and
that the child cannot be deprived of that right because his/her parents are
poor. The parents’ inability is at issue.

In Farai’s case, the parent has more than sufficient resources to
enforce what is in fact not a fundamental right of the child but a personal
choice he made for the child to be a Rastafarian and wants to impose it on
the school authorities.

So far he has satisfied his wish. But that comes with a lot of
implications. Young Farai may be lucky if he is not made an object of
ridicule by fellow pupils, which might affect his school work. Certainly a
headmaster who was publicly humiliated by Farai’s father cannot be expected
to protect the child.

Legally the court might be correct about rights, but these have to be
tempered by the fact that Farai, at eight, cannot be said to have made a
decision to become a Rastafarian. What his father has done is to make a
choice for the child which adds nothing to his quest for education. Who then
can stop a parent sending his child to school in fancy clothes as a
manifestation of their social status? Who can stop me from arming my child
with a knife "for his own protection" because I live in a violent
neighbourhood?

There is a danger that in attempting to uphold human rights we end up
with so-called "unintended consequences". The problematic gun culture in the
United States must have started because of the same misguided permissiveness
about human rights. It has become a national scourge with hardly a month
going by without some fatal shooting in school premises.

There is nothing fundamentally wrong with professing one’s religion.
However, there are problems when its manifestation becomes the standard
bearer of universal human rights.

Imagine a teacher in the middle of a lesson. A Moslem princess drifts
in wearing pitch black robes broken only by a razor slit across the eyes;
behind her Madzibaba Zakaria’s angel waltzes in the snow-white regalia worn
by Mapostori; behind her still Mbuya Nehanda’s young medium walks in
topless, with a goat skin to cover the essentials, a feather hat, an ox tail
in the right hand and a spear in the left; behind this train follows
Macarina from the leafy Kambanji suburb in a blouse that barely covers the
navel while at the top breasts are jutting out to freedom while behind a red
G-string hugs her tightly under low-cut faded jeans. For, human rights
cannot be confined only to "religious beliefs". And when do we draw a line
in the sand to say this is enough?

If we want to maintain discipline in our schools, I think we should
allow headmasters and teachers to play parents to our children in our
absence. Religion is a very personal issue, not something to be worn on one’s
sleeve.

With all due respect!


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A disgraceful performance

Zim Independent

MuckRaker

HARARE has been recovering this week from a devastating blackout that
saw residents seriously inconvenienced, left billions of dollars’ worth of
food rotting in refrigerators, and properties exposed to crime.

It was probably the worst power outage since the Second World War.
Over two thirds of the city was plunged into darkness early last week and
power was only restored on Monday. It meant people had to go without food,
baths, television and fans. Businesses were prejudiced of billions and homes
were exposed to opportunistic criminals who took advantage of the absence of
security lights.

But what is remarkable about this episode is that the state media
conducted a blackout of its own against the public who needed accurate
information as to the cause and duration of the crisis.

It was a classic case of a state-manipulated public broadcaster and
print media denying the public the information to which they were entitled.
Only on Tuesday after the lights had come back on — fitfully — did the
Herald report that some suburbs had gone without power for 10 days following
a high-voltage cable fault.

You can see why. Zesa’s ineptitude is symptomatic of Zanu PF’s failed
state. The closure of power stations and inability to pay suppliers meant a
small crisis regarding high-voltage cables quickly became a major one.

Zesa has proved a useful recruiting sergeant for the opposition. The
public know that things certainly won’t be getting any better if Zanu PF is
returned. Indeed last week’s blackout is a sign of things to come. If
President Mugabe is reelected there will be no balance-of-payments support
and no forex. Ask anybody who has worked in West Africa and they will tell
you that blackouts and water shortages are a sure sign of a country on the
skids.

But what is also sad is the way in which the public were starved of
information. Did none of the state media’s voluble propagandists have a word
to say about the collapse of the capital’s power supplies? Or are they only
able to comment on the MDC and Gordon Brown?

Anyway, we liked the announcement in the Herald that as from this week
the Passport Office would be open at weekends. When the announcement was
made the office was closed due to the blackout!

Another item caught our attention this week. Zimbabwe will next year
begin exporting power to Namibia regardless of the fact that refurbishment
of Hwange Power Station is incomplete because Zesa has failed to deliver the
local component of the financing arrangements. One hundred billion dollars
is needed if the project is to be completed by the end of the year as agreed
with Nampower.

Mavis Chidzonga, who heads the Zimbabwe Electricity Regulatory
Commission, told the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Mines and Energy
that Zesa will start exporting 40 MW to Namibia in January whether the
refurbishments at Hwange have been completed or not. If the project is not
completed, she said, Zesa would have to take from the electricity supply
that we generate, ie from the national grid.

Hello more blackouts! But how calculating of Namibia’s Nampower to
take advantage of our incompetent officials in the name of regional
solidarity.

Congratulations to Godwills Masimirembwa on his appointment to chair
the National Incomes and Pricing Commission. All those fawning articles in
the Herald have evidently paid off. Now he will have the unenviable task of
trying to regulate the market.

As every other attempt by Zanu PF to control prices has failed we look
forward to seeing how prices can be stabilised while inputs are rocketing.
Masimirembwa will be required to emulate King Canute ordering the tide to
recede. Writing turgid articles for the Herald didn’t prepare him for this.

It is a feature of Zimbabwean politics that people who have no
understanding of how a modern economy works are put in positions of
responsibility only to discover they can’t make any difference.

The Sunday Mail described Masimirembwa as a lawyer with "vast
experience in the legal profession". Indeed. But they didn’t say why he is
unable to practise law. Again, another concealment from the public by one of
the state’s leading information organs. By the way, has it given us the
dates yet of Zanu PF’s extraordinary congress?

Jabulani Sbanda has been advertising his incisive intellect. "The
president is under attack from foreign and even local media," he told
journalists last week. "We are strengthening him up. We are marching forward
even on empty stomachs, even when shops are dry, to show the world that we
are a different breed."

So there you have it. Sibanda claims to be marching on an empty
stomach to promote empty shops. He will make sure Mugabe is returned to keep
shops empty. This "vision" that he speaks of is the vision of a barren land;
of desolate farms and hungry people.

It is the vision of a revolution betrayed by ignorant foot-soldiers
unleashed by a ruler who has no answers to the country’s myriad problems but
who wants to remain in power all the same. And why does he want to remain in
power? To go on doing the same thing!

What sort of vision is that?

"We have got a president," Sibanda said. "What we do not have is
bread."

He appeared unable to make the connection.

"Cde Sibanda cleared the air on his suspension saying he appealed
against the decision," the Herald told us.

So, because he has appealed against it, his suspension — or is it
expulsion — no longer stands? He can do what he likes? What does this tell
us about discipline within Zanu PF?

And the other five chairmen suspended in 2004? Are they now also free
to resume their activities as well?

And then he has the audacity to deny that there are any internal
divisions in Zanu PF. Those divisions are becoming more evident by the day.
But Sibanda says war veterans will endorse Mugabe at the party’s
extraordinary congress regardless of his age.

"Regardless of his performance," Sibanda should have said.

And we were intrigued to learn that the view that Mugabe is too old is
an "external theory".

At least that’s what Sibanda said in Chinhoyi earlier this month.

Is there no end to these Western conspiracies? We are not even allowed
to dream of Mugabe going.

"Cde Sibanda said no one should dream of becoming the ruling party’s
candidate next year, saying the people’s choice was Cde Mugabe," the Sunday
News reported from Bindura.

So no dreams of a better life? And no point in having elections when
the candidate has already been declared!

On the front page of the same newspaper Joseph Msika could be seen
fighting a rearguard action against the trespasser. Sibanda remained
"expelled from the party", the VP bravely declared. No solidarity marches
for him.

But he remains loyal to his leader. "I challenge everyone who says
Bulawayo does not support Cde Mugabe to come to my office and I will
investigate that," he said rather ominously.

Aren’t popularity contests usually held by way of the ballot box? And
what did the people of Bulawayo say in 2000 and 2004? Why has Msika never
put his popularity to the test in Bulawayo?

One of those marching through Bindura in solidarity with Mugabe last
weekend was deputy Minister of Youth Development and Employment Creation
Savior Kasukuwere. He should be asked how many youths have been employed
since he took up his current post. All those ministers and governors who
took part in the solidarity march have been handsomely rewarded from the
fiscus. They certainly have jobs, courtesy of Mugabe’s patronage system. But
none of them have generated jobs for the jobless. And they have the gall to
march around advertising their loyalty to a leadership that has impoverished
a once prosperous nation. It was a disgraceful performance by any
definition.

Sunday Mail reporter Farai Dzirutwe appears not to know the difference
between a summons and an invitation. The paper ran a story last weekend
headed "Mohadi summons Tsvangirai".

You would assume from this that the minister’s so-called summons had
legal force; that Tsvangirai was obliged to attend the meeting called by the
minister where the MDC leader would be required to substantiate claims that
MDC supporters had been killed or maimed. Police chiefs would attend such a
meeting, we were led to believe.

In fact, the minister has no authority to "summon" anybody to
anything. The purpose of such a meeting was obviously to make it look as if
the MDC had no case. The MDC had embarked upon "a campaign to depict itself
as a persecuted party to help shore up Britain’s anti-Zimbabwe stance ahead
of the EU/Africa summit in Portugal later this year", the Sunday Mail
childishly claimed.

Police spokesman Wayne Bvudzijena said "outside the petrol bombings
that took place in February/March we have not had notable cases of political
violence". Presidential spokesman George Charamba, in remarks strikingly
similar to those of Herald columnist Nathaniel Manheru on Saturday, said the
MDC was trying "to build a case of escalating violence by labelling every
dead person as their supporter".

Mohadi’s "summons" turned out to be an invitation to meet with him.
The MDC accepted on Wednesday but failed to make full use of the occasion.
They could have enquired about the assaults carried out against Tsvangirai
and other MDC leaders in March while in police custody. They could also have
enquired whether there had been any arrests in the case involving an assault
on Nelson Chamisa at Harare airport.

Then there are the outstanding cases of Edward Chikomba and Gift
Tandare. Before them were Tonderayi Machiridza, Martin Olds, Gloria Olds,
Henry Elsworth and Trymore Midzi.

Have these cases of state violence been followed up and if not why
not, Mohadi should have been asked? And what "petrol bombings" was
Bvudzijena referring to? Are these not the same charges that were dismissed
in court as a fabrication? Has anybody been successfully prosecuted for
these "bombings"?

The MDC’s failure to remind Mohadi of his own ordeal at the hands of
the Zanu PF government in the 1980s and its inability to engage the public
in documenting human rights abuses confirms our view that it is inept in
dealing with the regime’s claims.


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Cinderella needs our help

Zim Independent

By Eric Bloch

EVER since Independence, the relationship between the government and
Bulawayo has been, and continues to be, reminiscent of the pantomime,
Cinderella, save that that pantomime has episodes of joy and happiness,
which has rarely been the case with the government and its never-ending,
despicable disregard for Bulawayo and its people.

In this real life pantomime, which is not festive and joyful, those in
government are blatantly the Ugly Sisters, whilst Bulawayo is the oppressed
Cinderella.

The Ugly Sisters do naught but afflict the City of Bulawayo and its
people, whilst displaying a fašade of concern and a reality of contempt and
disregard.

In the early years of Independence, governmental spending on
development in Matabeleland in general and in Bulawayo in particular,
represented less than 1% of all state spending on infrastructural creation
and rehabilitation, resource development and meeting the needs of the
people.

And that was notwithstanding that the Matabeleland people represented
at least 25% of the population, and that Bulawayo was Zimbabwe’s second
largest city.

Not only did the Ugly Sisters give next to nothing to Cinderella, but
the mid-1980s were characterised by brutal oppression and repression by
government, vigorously aided and abetted by the nefarious Fifth Brigade.

Those evil acts did not only grievously afflict thousands of innocent
people, but also severely retarded economic development and investment in
the Matabeleland provinces and the City of Bulawayo.

After the Unity Accord of 1987, the government did give marginally
greater attention to the needs as endlessly imposed upon Cinderella, but
disproportionately inequitably as against its focus upon other cities,
towns, and provinces.

In the main, the Ugly Sisters feigned caring and concern as precursors
to general and presidential elections, but as soon as the elections were
over, resumed their contempt, oppression and lack of support for poor
Cinderella.

Thus, by way of example, despite hijacking progressive private sector
endeavours to bring about fruition of the Zambezi Water Project, which has
been contemplated for over 80 years, government has steadfastly failed to
provide any realistic funding to transform the project from a concept into a
reality.

It obdurately ignored the desperate needs of the city for reliable
water supplies and as greatly disregarded the immense economic benefits that
would accrue to Bulawayo, to all Matabeleland, and to Zimbabwe as a whole.

Its utter disdain and dislike for them fuelled and motivated its
indifference and neglect for Cinderella and her provincial relatives.

Allied to its prolonged lip-service to the Zambezi Water Project,
unmatched by action, the Ugly Sisters steadfastly ignored Cinderella’s pleas
for recognition of intensifying unsuitability and inadequacy of Cinderella’s
traditional water catchment area, being to the east and southeast.

Thus, despite irrefutable justifications that water catchment
resources needed to be established north of Bulawayo, the Ugly Sisters
embarked upon the ill-considered, undesirable development of the Mtshabezi
Dam, very distant from the city, and 14 years later has still failed
adequately to fund a pipeline to convey water to Bulawayo.

It was at Cinderella’s initiative that, when confronted with
pronounced water crises, more than a decade ago, substantive development was
effected at the Nyamandhlovu Aquifer, but subsequently the Ugly Sisters,
through their handmaiden the Zimbabwe National Water Authority (Zinwa)
allowed much of the infrastructure there to be vandalised, stolen, or to
fall into disrepair.

When, notwithstanding Zinwa’s culpability, Cinderella accessed funding
from her very meagre resources, for rehabilitation of some of that
infrastructure, the handmaiden of the Ugly Sisters had no qualms at
diverting much of those funds to rehabilitate infrastructure serving farmers
and others, and not that which would give Cinderella the life-sustaining
water that she so desperately needs.

In like manner, it is now more than three years since Bulawayo’s
airport building was closed, and air carriers and their passengers obliged
to "make-do" with an allegedly "temporary" converted hanger as terminal,
wherein passengers and airport personnel alike freeze in winter, and suffer
intense heat in summer, and which is grievously lacking in 21st century air
terminal facilities.

The Civil Aviation Authority recurrently reassures of imminent
completion, but there is no evidence that that will be so.

Despite the fact that their handmaiden, Zinwa, has pronouncedly failed
to serve the needs of the populace of Harare, has chaotically mismanaged
water supplies at Victoria Falls and Kariba, has failed to supply adequacy
of water to the City of Bulawayo, has abused the Nyamandhlovu Aquifer, has
successfully polluted the water supplies of Harare, has worsened the lot of
the City of Gweru, and has nothing to show for its existence other than
pronounced failures, the Ugly Sisters are determined that Zinwa take over
the water purification and distribution services from Cinderella.

That Cinderella has a proven record of service, save when frustrated
by the Ugly Sisters and their handmaiden, is regarded as irrelevant and of
no concern.

The Ugly Sisters persist in their demand for an unequivocal surrender
of Cinderella’s water management to Zinwa, and are totally dismissive of any
and all representations by Cinderella, and by those she represents and
serves.

No credible motivations have been given for the Ugly Sisters’ ongoing,
obstinate, relentless insistence that Zinwa be accorded absolute management
and control of the City of Bulawayo’s waterworks.

In reality, those motivations are probably to enable the impoverished
Zinwa to exact into its grasping hands those revenues which presently accrue
to Cinderella whilst, at the same time, the Ugly Sisters undoubtedly hope
that Cinderella’s then impecunious state will be such that they can take
absolute control of Cinderella (as they have done for years to the City of
Harare, displacing those who ran that City, with the Ugly Sisters’
sycophants).

The people of Bulawayo must be united and resolute in frustrating
those evil intents of the Ugly Sisters, and ensure that, as in the real
pantomime, there is eventually a happy ending. They must be united behind
the city fathers.

Every organisation in the city, every business, and every resident,
should place on record their unreserved opposition to a Zinwa takeover, and
their equally unreserved support for the city fathers in their fight to
avoid the violation of Cinderella.

The city fathers, aided by the appropriate organisations, should
prepare a document for signature by all Bulawayo, reaffirming support
against Zinwa’s attempts to pillage that which does not belong to it, whilst
demanding that Zinwa do that which is its duty, being the development of
water catchment resources and bulk supply of water to urban and other
authorities.

Concurrently, the city should initiate legal action in Zimbabwe’s
courts for an order precluding the Ugly Sisters’ attempted rape of
Cinderella.

á


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What forex Marah?

Zim Independent

Editor's Memo

By Vincent Kahiya

AT what point in her tenure as Zimbabwe National Chamber of Commerce
president did Marah Hativagone realise that the country is "awash" with
foreign currency?

The Marah I know is one who, like most businesspeople, believes that
the country is not generating enough foreign currency because of depressed
production in agriculture and industry.

This week she jumped to fight in the Air Zimbabwe corner, defending
the national airline’s quest to charge fares in foreign currency. She told a
parliamentary portfolio committee that Air Zimbabwe should be granted the
right to sell tickets in forex because "right now, foreign currency is awash
in the country but it is being suppressed…"

What drivel Marah! What foreign currency and suppressed by who or
what?

This is the same business leader who only three months ago — and many
instances before that — was telling business that there is no foreign
currency in the country.

"What will now happen is that manufacturers will simply stop
manufacturing and the country will become a net importer, yet there is no
foreign currency," said Hativagone in July in response to government’s price
controls.

It is bad enough to have a coy leadership in business but unforgivable
for a leader to sing a tune which is at variance with reality on the ground.

The import of Hativagone’s argument that we should buy AirZim tickets
in forex because we are paying other airlines in forex is also
mind-boggling. For starters, foreign airlines operating from Harare do not
charge passengers from their respective countries in foreign currency. They
use local currency.

Malawians buy tickets in kwacha and Kenyans in shillings. The reason
is simply that their currencies are convertible because they have the forex
in the formal economy.

Hativagone on the other hand sees the forex held by sharks on the
streets and thinks that everyone has a share of it. Far from it. This is
forex coming from formal sources of forex generation, and not the
traditional exports or balance of payments support. It is therefore
egregious for Hativagone and the bigwigs at Air Zimbabwe to try and
prescribe sectoral dollarisation on the basis of foreign currency outside
the formal economy. The quest to charge in foreign currency is simply
conveying the message that those running the informal economy will now have
exclusive access to the national asset.

In any event, dollarisation of the economy is rarely forced on
consumers. It happens when residents have taken to the use of the US dollar
(or, in a broader sense, any other foreign currency) along with or instead
of the domestic currency.

Even then the process has to be carefully managed to ensure the
bi-monetary system does not disadvantage sections of society which cannot
access the US dollar.

More importantly though, the dual currency system works well when the
local currency is tradable to the US dollar. This is only possible when
there is adequate capacity to generate foreign currency, which should result
in a stable exchange rate.

The facts speak for themselves here. The country has a dismally poor
record in the management of its monetary system which has eroded the
credibility of its currency. And then again, Zimbabweans have become
distinctly sceptical about the significance of the local currency as a
component of the country’s basic identity.

There is a form of unofficial dollarisation in place and the
government must come up with a clear policy on whether or not to have
official dollarisation. At the moment there are piecemeal policies where
Zesa is allowed to charge in forex to miners and foreign currency-earning
manufacturers.

This, we are told, should help improve the parastatal’s forex reserves
to facilitate power imports and procurement of spare parts. This is not
happening as manufacturers and miners paying for power in forex are still
getting power for just five hours a day.

There is this misguided notion that foreign currency injection without
a revolutionary change in work ethic guarantees efficiency.

Air Zimbabwe will have to learn to make correct basic business
decisions first, like buying the correct type of planes and removing
political fingers from the pie.

Even at a time when this country was "awash" with forex, Air Zimbabwe
still made monumental losses. The reasons for those losses have still not
been addressed and are now being aggravated by forex problems. Problems at
Air Zimbabwe emanate from decisions like flying to China with "crossborder
traders" and charging them a pittance all in the name of the Look East
policy.

As a business leader, Hativagone’s key role is not only to stand for
business but to also advise government on key policy issues. One key piece
of advice she can pass on to our rulers is that benefits of dollarisation
will accrue only when the country achieves financial integration with the
US. For instance, an officially dollarised country must allow American
financial institutions to set up branches, accept deposits, issue loans, buy
local institutions and transfer funds freely in and out.

This, by itself, does not confer very exciting benefits on our
government currently in the grab-and-run mode.

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