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SA piles pressure on ZANU PF

FinGaz

Njabulo Ncube Political Editor
Emissaries demand ruling party 'plays ball' after MDC support
THE head of South African President Thabo Mbeki's mediation team has held a
joint meeting with ZANU PF and the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC),
intensifying pressure on the ruling party to make firm commitments to repeal
repressive legislation before next year's elections, a key opposition
precondition for its participation in the polls.

The Financial Gazette understands that Sydney Mufamadi, who leads Mbeki's
mediation team, and Frank Chikane, the South African leader's senior
adviser, held new discussions with ZANU PF negotiators Justice Minister
Patrick Chinamasa and Labour Minister Nicholas Goche, and Tendai Biti and
Welshman Ncube of the opposition MDC.
The meeting was held on a boathouse on the shores of Lake Kariba, and
discussed possible amendments to the Access to Information and Protection of
Privacy Act (AIPPA), the Public Order and Security Act (POSA) and the
Broadcasting Services Act.
The MDC says the laws make free elections impossible. Under POSA, police
have powers to ban rallies, while government has curtailed the opposition's
access to the media through broadcast laws and AIPPA by shutting down four
independent newspapers since September 2003 and maintaining a monopoly over
radio and television.
ZANU PF had wished to defer the talks on legislation or make them part of
future discussions over a new constitution after next March's elections but
the MDC wants repressive legislation to be dealt with before the polls.
Sources privy to the latest talks said Mufamadi was assured that sections of
existing electoral laws, viewed by the opposition as impediments to free and
fair elections, were being attended to and these changes would be delivered
before the end of the year.
The sources said Mbeki's emissaries insisted that ZANU PF should "play ball"
after the MDC supported constitutional amendments two weeks ago, paving the
way for the harmonisation of presidential, parliamentary and local
government elections as well as increasing the number of seats in the House
of Assembly. The same sources said ZANU PF pledged that a new constitution
would be negotiated after the 2008 elections.
The MDC has already tasked four prominent Harare lawyers, Sternford Moyo,
Selby Hwacha, Nokuthula Moyo and Harrison Nkomo, to refine a draft
constitution rejected at a referendum in 2000, and to examine a 2004
agreement between the two parties. It is expected that a new draft agreed
between ZANU PF and the MDC would be presented to Mbeki's team by month-end.
Mbeki's mediation mission appeared to have made an important breakthrough
with both parties agreeing on a set of constitutional changes last month.
But a threat to the effort is emerging, as Morgan Tsvangirai, head of one
faction of the MDC, hardens his position under intense pressure from radical
elements within his party over its cooperation with ZANU PF on the 18th
Amendment.
Tsvangirai has set conditions for his party's participation in elections
next year, telling supporters at the weekend that he would not lead them
into elections under laws that severely restrict opposition activities.
"We would want to correct the manner in which elections are being managed
and we would want oppressive legislation like the Public Order and Security
Act, the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act and the
Broadcasting Services Act to be scrapped," Tsvangirai said.
"We are not going into the elections next year until our demands are met
because our objective in going for the SADC (Southern African Development
Community) initiated talks is to have free and fair elections in the
country."
Tsvangirai said his party had only agreed to last month's deal "just to test
ZANU PF and SADC's sincerity" in resolving the crisis.
Although observers fear the five months remaining before the elections are
not enough to repeal all the laws, the opposition insists that backing the
constitutional amendments was a significant concession on its part. It now
wants to ratchet up the pressure on ZANU PF to honour its side of the
bargain by immediately repealing the laws, and making an irrevocable
commitment to a new constitution after March.
"Mufamadi is eager to keep things moving along, but it is unlikely that ZANU
PF will agree to scrap the laws as quickly as the MDC expects," a senior
ruling party official familiar with the latest talks said.
While the threat to boycott the elections could be a strategy to wring more
concessions out of ZANU PF, which is desperate to gain legitimacy, the
opposition could once again spoil its chances by confirming its
participation too late.
In 2005, the party changed its mind about boycotting the polls only weeks
ahead of the general elections and suffered heavy losses to ZANU PF as a
result.


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War vets chief defies party heavweights

FinGaz

Clemence Manyukwe Staff Reporter

SUSPENDED war veterans' leader Jabulani Sibanda has defied ZANU PF
heavyweights in Matabeleland and lined up more marches in support of
President Robert Mugabe's candidacy, turning up the heat on the ruling
party's succession battle ahead of its special congress in December.

Sibanda, suspended and subsequently fired from ZANU PF three years ago for
his alleged involvement with a group accused of plotting a palace coup
against the Presidium, has bounced back as the spearhead of President
Mugabe's campaign for re-election.
Under Sibanda, war veterans have staged solidarity marches that are designed
to mobilise support for President Mugabe and eliminate any remaining
internal opposition in the run-up to congress.
The extraordinary congress, to be held in Harare, has been convened to
choose a presidential candidate to represent ZANU PF in next year's polls.
But a new strategy adopted by President Mugabe's campaign team, which has
been telling ruling party supporters that the ZANU PF constitution states
that a special congress is only called to confirm the sitting leader has
sparked fresh controversy.
Senior party leaders, one official said yesterday, have expressed dismay
over the misleading claims.
ZANU PF national chairman, John Nkomo, has stressed that Sibanda is still
suspended from the party, and therefore must not organise "unsanctioned"
marches.
Nkomo, who is the party's national disciplinary committee chairperson,
yesterday declined to make any further comment on the controversy.
But Vice President Joseph Msika at the weekend said Sibanda had "no mandate
to campaign for the party" as he had been expelled from ZANU PF "a long time
ago."
Undaunted, Sibanda has stepped up his marches, the last at the weekend in
Chinhoyi being backed by Minister of Policy Implementation, Webster Shamu.
At an earlier similar event in Mutare last week, war veteran Joseph
Chinotimba, in remarks that provided further confirmation that the marches
are designed to target internal rivals, target internal rivals, slammed an
unnamed ZANU PF leader accused of eying President Mugabe's post.
"Who are you to want to be the President, when Msika, and John Nkomo are not
even eyeing the post?" Chinotimba said.
Last week, a spokesperson for the Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans
Association, James Kaunye, told The Financial Gazette that all war veterans,
including those in Bulawayo, were not opposed to Sibanda's return as the
head of the association.
He said Sibanda had never been suspended from the war veterans body but had
only been asked to remain "dormant" pending an appeal against his dismissal,
which Kaunye said had been successful.


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Civil servants give strike ultimatum

FinGaz

Staff Reporter

CIVIL servants have given the government until tomorrow to award them salary
adjustments above the poverty datum line (PDL) if a crippling nationwide
public service strike is to be averted.

Cecilia Alexander, president of the Public Service Association (PSA), the
government workers' union, told The Financial Gazette yesterday that her
executive had come under pressure from members countrywide to call a strike
to protest deteriorating salaries and working conditions.
Alexander said the majority of civil servants were earning salaries well
below the breadline. The Consumer Council of Zimbabwe (CCZ) estimates that
the average family now requires $16.7 million to pay for basics alone.
The lowest paid civil servant is said to earn as little as $1.5 million per
month, only enough to buy two kilogrammes of economy beef at the official
price of $750 000 a kg.
"We have given our employer (the government) until Friday (tomorrow) to
conclude negotiations positively. Failure to address our plight by then will
see all civil servants going on strike on Monday," said Alexander.
"Civil servants have been very patient, but we have noticed that the
employer has been negotiating in bad faith."
The PSA represents the greater proportion of the government workforce,
estimated at about 300 000. This does not include teachers and the uniformed
forces.
It comprises the Government Workers Association, the Government Officers
Association, the Professional and Technical Employees Association, the
Administration and Executive Association and the Civil Service Employees
Association.
A strike by the entire civil service would represent a bandwagon effect on a
job action already taken by teachers, who went on strike on Monday after the
Zimbabwe Teachers Association (ZIMTA), the largest teachers' representative
body, called for industrial action to press demands for pay increases.
Doctors, nurses and all medical personnel at government hospitals are also
on strike.
The PSA president declined to discuss specific details of the civil
servants' demands, but there is no doubt that they will demand that salaries
be pegged to the PDL, and that transport and housing allowances be
consistent with current costs.
The PSA, Alexander said, had already informed its membership nationwide
about its standoff with the government, putting them on alert for the job
action.
Visits to government schools in Harare and to Parirenyatwa Hospital, the
country's biggest referral health centre, showed that only skeleton staff
were on duty.
Doctors want their monthly salaries increased to $120 million, upping their
earlier demand for $80 million. Currently, junior doctors earn a gross
salary of $6 million, while senior doctors earn $10 million.
A meeting between doctors' representatives and the Health Services Board
last Friday failed to end the impasse.
University lecturers are also planning to go on strike to press demands for
increments of up to 1 000 percent.
The strike by the public service will increase political tensions already
running high due to shortages of basic goods, the direct result of
government-ordered price slashes.
Reserve Bank governor Gideon Gono sought to calm nerves by announcing a
series of measures on Monday, which he said would immediately boost
production and help companies restock fully by the end of October. But it is
doubtful that this can be achieved in the stipulated period.
"Cheap funding to the productive sector does not immediately translate into
production," leading economist David Mupamhadzi said on Tuesday. "There are
other issues to consider such as those to do with power supply and even the
morale of the workforce."


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Mangwana softens stance

FinGaz

Kumbirai Mafunda Senior Business Reporter
. . . but insists banks must be prepared to indigenise
INDIGENISATION and Empowerment Minister Paul Mangwana yesterday softened his
tough stance on the indigenisation of the financial sector, but vowed to
press ahead with the controversial seizure of businesses and mines.

Following Monday's heated attack by Reserve Bank governor Gideon Gono on
elements he said wanted to destabilise the financial sector through the
planned takeovers, Mangwana now proposes a gradual approach to implementing
the law.
"We are going to take a sector-by-sector approach, providing a time frame
and thresholds. Some of our indigenous banks do not have foreign
connections, which foreign banks do have," Mangwana told The Financial
Gazette.
Mangwana last month told a hearing of three parliamentary portfolio
committees that banking institutions unwilling to comply with a government
requirement to give up 51 percent shareholding to locals "can simply go".
Gono this week railed against what he called such "reckless" comments,
saying they only served to unnerve a sensitive sector.
Although Mangwana has softened his line, he still insists international
banks will ultimately be forced to relinquish majority shareholdings in
local operations.
"They (banks) must be prepared to indigenise. At some time or the other they
will have to indigenise, and it will be done with due consultations with the
Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe and all the stakeholders. We are all in agreement,"
Mangwana said.
Two of Zimbabwe's leading international banks, Stanbic and Standard
Chartered have warned that foreign banks could withdraw from Zimbabwe if
they were compelled to sell 51 percent of their shares.
The banks stressed that local banks require foreign support in securing
international lines of credit.


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Closely guarded report shows Air Zimbabwe in US$12m loss

FinGaz

Clemence Manyukwe Staff Reporter

AIR Zimbabwe has reported a US$12.7 million loss for the first six months of
the year, a financial report being kept under wraps reveals.

Confidential documents obtained by The Financial Gazette on the national
carrier's financial performance show that in the week ending September 20
alone, the airline posted a further loss of about US$470 000.
The documents show that Air Zimbabwe is saddled with a massive debt, and
urgently needs US$8.6 million for spares.
Air Zimbabwe management, the documents reveal, believes there is a British
plot to have the airline barred from flying into Europe if it fails a test -
the IATA Operational Safety Audit (IOSA) - to be undertaken later this
month. The tests are to be conducted from October 22 to 26.
"If we fail the IOSA test we expect the British government to lobby the EU
(European Union) to include IOSA certification as part of its requirements,"
the documents say.
The airline was also having difficulties procuring Jet A1 fuel, and there
was need for the National Oil Company of Zimbabwe (NOCZIM) to have a reserve
for Very Very Important Persons (VVIP) to make available to Air Zimbabwe.
"NOCZIM has been requested to establish a VVIP Jet A1 fuel reserve of at
least two hundred and fifty thousand (litres)," the documents say.
Air Zimbabwe also wants NOCZIM to create a special 2.4-million litre reserve
for it.
It also came to light that Air Zimbabwe had awarded workers a 400 percent
pay increment in July, but expected staff to demand an additional 500
percent increment.
"A torrent of bad publicity", locally and internationally, continued to
hobble the airline, the papers say.
Revelations of soaring losses at the national flag carrier come a month
after the Minister of Transport and Communications, Christopher Mushohwe,
rushed Parliamentarians into endorsing an international aviation treaty
after India had barred Air Zimbabwe from flying over its airspace.


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Govt seeks places at Rhodes as Australia expels Zim students

FinGaz

Njabulo Ncube Political Editor

THE government has approached a top South African university on behalf of
senior officials, whose children were recently expelled from Australia with
a view to securing admission for the students.

Investigations by The Financial Gazette reveal that government, through the
Ministry of Higher Education and the Presidential Scholarship Fund, has
sought up to 60 student places at Rhodes University in Grahamstown.
While only eight children of senior government officials were deported from
Australia over a political dispute, sources say places are being sought for
more students at risk of similar expulsion from other Western countries.
Australia has been in the forefront of condemning alleged human rights
violations by President Robert Mugabe and his ruling elite.
Rhodes University authorities confirmed to The Financial Gazette that the
Zimbabwean government is seeking places for a group of unidentified
students, but declined to link the development to the Australian expulsions.
Rhodes, estimated to annually draw about 25 percent of its student
population from Zimbabwe, insists the request to accommodate Zimbabwean
students was received before the deportations.
"It is true that we have been approached to offer places to a number of
Zimbabwean students," said Guy White, director of communications and
development at Rhodes University. "However, this approach was made to us
prior to the deportation of students from Australia. So, as far as we are
concerned the two situations are not linked."
But a source maintained that the government approached the university when
it became clear the Australians were "adamant and determined in their
actions to send back the children."
However, White said the university had suggested to the government that the
resources earmarked for the new students instead be diverted towards
supporting Zimbabwean students who are already struggling at the
institution.
"In addition, the request was not linked to any student and we have in turn
responded by requesting that financial support being offered be channeled to
existing students who are battling financially as well as towards
postgraduate students. A response to this proposal has not yet been
received."
White could not say
what kind of financial problems the state-funded Zimbabwean students at
Rhodes face, but it is understood most are in arrears
on tuition as government has failed to fund their studies.
The government supports students at foreign universities through the
Presidential Scholarship Fund, administered by Chris Mushowe, the Minister
of Transport and Communications.
Efforts to contact Higher Education Minister Stan Mudenge and Mushowe for
comment were fruitless.


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Empowerment law: firms forced to buy themselves, critics say

FinGaz

Clemence Manyukwe Staff Reporter

DURING a Parliamentary question and answer session in 1998, Tirivanhu
Mudariki asked Cephas Msipa, then Minister of Indigenisation, when he would
table a black empowerment bill in Parliament.

Msipa responded by promising to do so "shortly".
But Mudariki - at the time the Harare East Member of Parliament (MP) - left
Parliament in 2000 with no such law having been tabled.
Today, Mudariki holds a minority interest in River Ranch Limited, a mining
company whose shareholding is likely to be affected by the Indigenous and
Empowerment Bill that was passed by Parliament last week, nine years after
he called for it.
The new law will give 51 percent majority shareholdings in large
corporations to locals.
River Ranch Limited, sitting on a disputed diamond mine, is majority owned
by Saudi billionaire Adel Abdulrahman al Aujan. But the Saudi will have to
relinquish his stake to a maximum of 49 percent under the new law, which
could mean either selling to his existing partners, including former army
general Solomon Mujuru, finding new local partners, or selling his entire
stake.
Analysts say this dilemma is being played out across the economy, as foreign
investors assess their next moves.
A complete withdrawal by Aujan, for example, would mean River Ranch
Limited - should it win a tough court battle for River Ranch mine - would
struggle to fund expansion and full exploitation of a mine experts say could
be Zimbabwe's biggest gem producer.
In the end, local investors will have majority stakes in companies with no
real value to them.
Central bank governor Gideon Gono's backing on Monday of a more gradual
approach, and his strong criticism of what he called "reckless" remarks over
the ownership of banks, shows there could be no consensus within government
over the law as suggested by last week's vote in the House of Assembly.
Gono urged caution on empowerment, proposing a gradual approach to
implementing the empowerment law, starting with thresholds of 20 percent
that would rise to the 51 percent in up to 15 years' time.
Gono said: "My considered advice to legislators and government in general is
that a fine balance should be struck between the objective of indigenisation
and the need to attract foreign investment necessary to grow our economy."
Last week, when responding to concerns raised by two of the country's major
foreign-owned banks over the law, Indigenisation Minister Paul Mangwana had
been brash, saying financial institutions unwilling to comply with the law,
in its current form, "can simply go".
However, Gono, in comments seen as directed at Mangwana, said such
aggression represented "unguided interference" in banking.
Critics say the new law only causes further damage to the economy.
Economic commentator Eric Bloch says the law is unnecessarily draconian,
especially when compared to similar legislation in other countries such as
South Africa.
"South Africa has done it constructively. It targets 26 percent, not 51
percent," Bloch said. "It gives businesses until the end of 2008 to find
their own investment partners, instead of having people imposed on you."
Bloch said the creation of the National Indigenisation and Economic
Empowerment Fund, some of whose revenue would come from levies imposed on
companies, was akin to "companies buying themselves."
"Businesspeople are now fearful that they are going to be deprived of their
businesses in the same way farmers were deprived of their farms without any
fair compensation," he said.
During a debate on the Bill in the House of assembly last week, Movement for
Democratic Change Mutare Central MP Innocent Gonese said while his party was
not opposed to empowerment, government should have started with a smaller
percentage and not the 51 percent.
"It might be more prudent if we had a situation where we start with a
smaller percentage. We have been advocating a Look East Policy and in China
they are not insisting that companies should be 51 percent owned by
indigenous people."
Gono stressed that empowerment needed to be shielded from abuse by a corrupt
few.
His concerns hark back to worries experienced early in South Africa's
empowerment programme.
Speaking at an empowerment seminar in 2003, South Africa's then Minister of
Public Enterprises, Jeff Radebe, said: "All should recall the criticism
levelled against black economic empowerment in our country. The constant
criticism posed by even those opposed to black economic empowerment and
change is that it benefited and created an elite. The mass of the people
continue to live in abject poverty and are not benefiting from the process.
This is a criticism that we will ignore at our own peril."


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White farmers pin hope on judiciary

FinGaz

Zhean Gwaze Staff Reporter
. . . as set deadline to vacate farms passes
ZIMBABWE'S remaining white farmers are now banking on the courts for their
remaining on the land, as the elapse on Monday of a deadline for their
departure triggered a new wave of forced evictions.

Sunday was the last day for white farmers served with eviction notices to
leave farms gazetted for resettlement.
Those who failed to vacate the properties by Monday are liable to be
imprisoned in terms of the Gazetted Land (Consequential Provisions) Act.
The Act, which repealed the Rural Land Occupiers (Protection from Eviction)
Act, makes it an offence to occupy or to continue to occupy land without
lawful authority after it has been gazetted in accordance with section
16B(2)(a) of the Constitution.
There are only about 350 white commercial farmers left, farmers' groups say.
The number of commercial farmers has plummeted from
4 500 before 2000 when the government embarked on its controversial
fast-track land reform programme.
John Worsley-Worsick, spokesman for the farmers' pressure group Justice for
Agriculture (JAG), said there was a new wave of evictions at about the time
the deadline elapsed.
"There have been cases of white farmers being removed off their properties
through illegal means. The Ministry (of Lands and Resettlement) has no right
to evict the farmers from their properties, only the High Court can
authorise that, and we urge the affected members to follow the legal
channel," Worsley-Worsick said.
A court case to test the legality of the government's bid to prosecute white
farmers for defying orders to vacate their properties failed to take off
last year after a Karoi magistrate declined to hear the matter saying a
similar challenge was pending in the High Court.
The new evictions have sparked divisions among senior government officials
over how to treat the remaining farmers.
Evictions, many of them executed by senior army officers with Security
Minister Didymus Mutasa's authorisation, have continued despite pleas by
Vice President Joseph Msika for caution.
The government's often chaotic land reform programme is blamed squarely for
plunging the country's once vibrant agricultural sector into the abyss.
Independent food aid agencies say 4.1 million Zimbabweans will need food aid
in the first quarter of next year.


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The return of the old capitalist

FinGaz

Rangarirai Mberi News Editor
Lonrho leads new foreign invasion
EVEN for a company whose former boss was once called the "unacceptable face
of capitalism", Lonrho's route of choice into Zimbabwe, an acquisition of
mid cap tech firm Celsys, shows it has lost none of its taste for intrigue.

Up until this week, many had been unaware that Peak Mine, the locally
registered company through which Gary Shayne controls Celsys, was in fact
itself owned by a company called Blueberry International Services Limited,
registered in tax haven British Virgin Islands.
Celsys does not say what regulatory approvals it has obtained for the deal,
and no detail has yet been made available on Blueberry.
Shayne increased his Celsys stake last year in a debt-for-equity swap,
through Peak Mine.
Lonrho announced Tuesday it had completed the acquisition of an 80 percent
share of Blueberry for US$5.45 million, all cash, through LonZim,
its vehicle for investment in Zimbabwe.
LonZim reckons it has won a bargain by paying US$5.45 million for only part
of a company with "strong future growth potential".
But as at Tuesday, the whole of Celsys was, in fact, valued at around
US$2.7million.
Celsys owns a payphone business, operates Zimbabwe's sole authorised Nokia
repair centre, and is the largest printer of security documents such as
cheques and airtime cards.
However, even if Celsys' businesses could indeed be profitable in a normal
economy, it is unlikely that a US$100 million fund is interested in what
Celsys does for a living.
Celsys could have been just a route in, and would be transformed from a
technology company, traditionally ignored by local fund managers and
ridiculed by analysts, into an investment company that would have some clout
on the local market.
It is revealing that Lonrho will second its most senior executives to the
Celsys board; David Lenigas, chairman and CEO, director Emma Priestley, plus
director and chief operating officer Geoffrey White.
LonZim had by July raised US$66.2 million from foreign funds for Zimbabwe
investment alone, and plans a listing on London's Alternative Investments
Market (AIM) within weeks.
At the launch of LonZim, Lenigas had indicated a strategy that now makes
this Celsys acquisition look rather peculiar.
"As the economy does start to grow significantly, hotels are going to be one
of the first big kick-off areas. There are some pretty undervalued
properties in Zimbabwe at the moment," Lenigas said then.
The Celsys acquisition represents the first real deal by a string of global
funds that have been exploring Zimbabwe for investment.
The Financial Gazette can report that Sanlam Investment Management (SIM),
the investment arm of South Africa's biggest life company, Sanlam, plans its
own due diligence exercise on the ZSE with a view to taking its
international clients into Zimbabwe.
Sanlam, like most foreign investors looking at Zimbabwe, sees future value
in a market it sees as undervalued relative to other emerging markets.
SIM's Sanlam Global Best Ideas Fund is run out of Ireland, which means it
requires Irish regulatory approval before taking decisions on where to
invest. No approval has been given for Zimbabwe, so the Sanlam fund is
paying a third party to explore the market before returning to regulators
for approval.
BoE Private Clients of South Africa has also previously said it was
exploring Zimbabwe for its own clients, while Imara reopened a special fund
for Zimbabwe after an earlier offer saw stronger than anticipated investor
demand.
However, since Parliament passed the empowerment law last week, any mention
of new foreign investment into Zimbabwe has been accompanied by discussion
on how new money would accommodate a 51 percent local ownership requirement.
Especially for a company still sticking to a low name like Lonrho - the last
part is short for Rhodesia - investing in Zimbabwe during unstable times is
audacious.
But so was the strategy of Tiny Rowland, the "unacceptable face of
capitalism" who once led Lonrho, who befriended everyone during the
liberation war to emerge at Independence with vast assets extending from
estates to car dealerships and mines.


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MDC's civic allies won't sever ties

FinGaz

Njabulo Ncube Political Editor

CIVIL society groups allied to the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) have
resolved to preserve the alliance, toning down earlier threats to sever ties
and rejecting proposals to form a new party.

On the eve of a conference in Bulawayo at the weekend, state media had
predicted that the groups were gathering to form a new political party to
replace the MDC, suggestions that further unsettled an already fractured
opposition.
The MDC and its civic society allies have been at loggerheads over the party's
endorsement of Constitutional Amendment Number 18, necessitating the
convening of an "all stakeholders" meeting last Saturday where the
opposition party was called all sorts of names for reaching a compromise
with the ruling party.
However, after heated debate, delegates agreed that abandoning the MDC less
than six months before elections would "play into the hands" of ZANU PF.
Elton Mangoma, a representative of Morgan Tsvangirai's camp of the MDC, said
his party regretted not having "consulted widely" on the amendment.
"We apologise for not engaging our major allies before agreeing to the
amendment and I can assure you this will not happen in future," said
Mangoma. "But the decision was made with the country at heart. It was felt
there was not enough time to engage all of you."
The Southern African Development Community mandated President Thabo Mbeki of
South Africa to find a lasting solution to the nagging crisis. The
endorsement of amendment Number 18 by both ZANU PF and MDC is a direct
result of President Mbeki's mediation.
Lovemore Madhuku, chairman of the National Constitutional Assembly, was
criticised at the meeting for his outspoken opposition to the agreement. One
group charged that his scathing utterances were made with "an eye on donor
funds", a charge Madhuku refuted.
Outspoken Bulawayo independent councillor, Charles Mpofu, moved a motion to
form a political party, but the proposal was rejected.
The groups decided against severing ties, but urged the MDC to do a
"re-think" on the deal. Njabulo Ncube
Political Editor

CIVIL society groups allied to the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) have
resolved to preserve the alliance, toning down earlier threats to sever ties
and rejecting proposals to form a new party.
On the eve of a conference in Bulawayo at the weekend, state media had
predicted that the groups were gathering to form a new political party to
replace the MDC, suggestions that further unsettled an already fractured
opposition.
The MDC and its civic society allies have been at loggerheads over the party's
endorsement of Constitutional Amendment Number 18, necessitating the
convening of an "all stakeholders" meeting last Saturday where the
opposition party was called all sorts of names for reaching a compromise
with the ruling party.
However, after heated debate, delegates agreed that abandoning the MDC less
than six months before elections would "play into the hands" of ZANU PF.
Elton Mangoma, a representative of Morgan Tsvangirai's camp of the MDC, said
his party regretted not having "consulted widely" on the amendment.
"We apologise for not engaging our major allies before agreeing to the
amendment and I can assure you this will not happen in future," said
Mangoma. "But the decision was made with the country at heart. It was felt
there was not enough time to engage all of you."
The Southern African Development Community mandated President Thabo Mbeki of
South Africa to find a lasting solution to the nagging crisis. The
endorsement of amendment Number 18 by both ZANU PF and MDC is a direct
result of President Mbeki's mediation.
Lovemore Madhuku, chairman of the National Constitutional Assembly, was
criticised at the meeting for his outspoken opposition to the agreement. One
group charged that his scathing utterances were made with "an eye on donor
funds", a charge Madhuku refuted.
Outspoken Bulawayo independent councillor, Charles Mpofu, moved a motion to
form a political party, but the proposal was rejected.
The groups decided against severing ties, but urged the MDC to do a
"re-think" on the deal.


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SA-based think-tank launches US$10bn economic blueprint

FinGaz

Staff Reporter

A SOUTH AFRICAN based think-tank run by Zimbabwean expatriates has launched
an economic blueprint that proposes a ten-year US$10 billion rescue package
for the economy.

The Zimbabwe Institute (ZI), in a 70-page document released last week,
outlined a programme in which financial aid would be pumped into the
tottering economy.
"This is a comprehensive programme that seeks to create a
dynamic and vibrant economy that will provide jobs, food and
economic opportunities for all the people of Zimbabwe," said Isaac Maphosa,
ZI executive director.
Maphosa said the plan, dubbed Progressive Zimbabwe, would "succeed under a
government that follows a democratic governance path driven by consensus,
solidarity and participatory decision making."
The proposed US$10 billion external assistance package will include US$5.3
billion to meet immediate food needs, implement emergency measures on the
HIV/Aids crisis, and establish new institutions such as a Truth Commission
and an Anti-Corruption Commission to support democratic and agrarian reform.
The report does not say how the proposed funding would be sourced.
ZI envisages a transformation agenda that includes the establishment of a
new constitution that would safeguard the rule of law and the protection of
the civic, economic and political rights of citizens.


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Takeover of foreign firms done with polls in mind

FinGaz

Eddie Cross

THIS past week the government rammed through long awaited legislation that
will require companies to sell 51 percent of their equity to black
Zimbabweans nominated by the regime.

The companies are required to fund this exercise themselves through a levy
that is to be introduced by the State and which will be applied on a
compulsory basis to all firms in the economy.
This development comes on top of the price control operation mounted by the
Joint Operations Command and the subsequent publication of regulations that
will enable the State to take over any firm that closes its doors as a
consequence.
As no company can produce and sell its products for half the cost and expect
to survive for very long we can only assume that this was the real object of
the exercise and it had little or nothing to do with trying to curb
inflation.
Just this past week we have seen further evidence that government is
recklessly printing money to pay its bills.
The rate of exchange on the market has slumped to record lows as a result,
with a pound now fetching over a million Zimbabwe dollars.
No foreign firm is likely to allow its local subsidiaries to be taken over
via either route and we face a scenario where they must either fight the
system through the courts or abandon their assets and leave the country or
try to dispose of 100 percent of their assets at a half decent price.
It is now clear that Mobil, Anglo American and the Heinz Corporation have
effectively dumped the equity they held here in some local companies. The
international banks have already made their views known - Barclays, Standard
Chartered, Stanbic and the MBCA have all said that they will not allow the
loss of a controlling stake in the local companies, they would not allow the
companies to use their brand names or systems and would dispose of 100
percent of their local assets, closing down the banks if necessary.
The minister responsible responded to this statement by saying that "they
can go". He emphasized that the regime would not back down on this
operation. I already know of several companies in different fields who have
been approached by Zanu-PF linked people with an offer to take over a major
or controlling interest in their companies.
The private abattoirs that were denied licenses to operate two months ago
are being licensed but on condition that they sell a controlling stake to a
nominated shareholder and on top of that they are being forced to buy and
sell under State direction.
So what does this mean?
Are they serious?
What they are trying to do is implement a strategy for the next elections
that will reduce current urban populations by a third or more in twelve
months. The price control operation was designed to achieve this and as a
result of the enforcement of this campaign, the cities are without food or
water.
Hundreds of thousands of jobs are at stake and tens of thousands are fleeing
to South Africa on a weekly basis. By my estimate they are well on their way
to achieving this objective.
Every worker who loses his job or just gets fed up with the situation and
leaves is one less MDC vote in the election next year.
When this is over, they will pick up the pieces and resume normal commercial
operations funded by an endless stream of resources from the Reserve Bank.
They will then be able to go into the elections in 2008 with a sharply
reduced urban vote, the remaining voters will mainly come under the control
of ZANU PF directed entities and all basic needs will be tightly controlled
by the regime.
Vote for ZANU PF or else will be the threat. I am just waiting to see when
they will attack urban property rights. I fully expect GDP to decline
sharply this year as a consequence of this operation.
Exports will also fall and money transfers rise as Zimbabweans in the
Diaspora respond to the needs of their families at home. All investment has
stopped and only the Chinese seem to have the stomach for this - probably
because they know they will be given special treatment, in fact they are
participating in this exercise and are picking up long-term assets for a
fraction of their true value.
The question is will the strategy work in terms of the elections and what
are the consequences of this situation and the deliberate destruction of a
functioning economy that it represents?
The domestic answers are difficult to give; I hope Zanu PF thinks that their
strategy will work for them in the election, as this is the only way we are
going to get them to participate in that event.
The economic consequences are catastrophic. We will now have to plan for a
stabilisation and recovery programme that embraces the whole economy and not
just agriculture and its support industries.
The departure of international firms like Heinz will not be easily reversed
and securing the kind of investment we need to kick-start the recovery is
going to be that much more difficult.
But it is the regional implications that I think need to be scrutinized
closely. I was told last week by a prominent South African analyst that
South Africa had "discounted" the threat to the South African economy of any
further contraction in Zimbabwe.
This may be true, but it does not disguise the fact that foreign investors,
already wary of Africa from a risk point of view, may just find this
wholesale grab of assets by a greedy elite that seems to have the support of
much of Africa, is a portent of things to come - perhaps even in South
Africa itself.
Our trade with South Africa ten years ago was R2 billion a month. We were
South Africa's largest trading partner in Africa and its largest single
market for manufactured goods in the world. Two thirds of that trade has
gone and instead we export hundreds of thousands of impoverished men and
women to South Africa each month.
Once in the South African system they join criminal gangs, rob
banks and stores and engage in petty crime and trading.
Cape Town last year had more murders than Britain. No state can build a
stable society on such foundations.
Time is running out on us - if ZANU PF is allowed by inertia on the part of
the SADC States to get away with this destructive and suicidal activity,
they will have to deal with a real failed State when finally the political
implosion takes place or see Zimbabwe spiral downwards into a Somalia style
situation of lawlessness and poverty.
Free and fair elections are impossible if the national crisis is not dealt
with and dealt with in a decisive and holistic manner. We all agree that
this is the only way out of this crisis - it is time to act to ensure that
we can in fact vote in a free and fair manner when the time comes. Allowing
the continued delinquency of the ZANU PF regime is simply not an option
for any of us.

Eddie Cross is an economic adviser to the opposition MDC


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Mbeki's third term bid crumbles

FinGaz

Mavis Makuni Own Correspondent

The way the race to succeed him both as leader of the ANC and as head of
state is panning out must be a nightmare for South African President, Thabo
Mbeki, whose ambition is to secure a third term.

To begin with, the arena is crowded with rivals Mbeki is accused of
previously having tried to eliminate from the contest by using underhand
tactics and pre-emptive measures. The most prominent of these is Jacob Zuma,
Mbeki's former deputy whom he sacked in 2005 on allegations of financial
impropriety and influence peddling for personal gain. The usually
unpredictable Mbeki's decisiveness on this occasion won him plaudits
continentally and internationally and he was seen as having set the standard
for dealing with high-level government corruption in Africa.
The move, however elicited mixed reactions at home where some sections of
the population welcomed it but a vociferous segment that included the South
African Congress of Trade Unions (COSATU), the South African Communist Party
and Zuma's home province of Kwazulu-Natal smelt a political rat. They
accused Mbeki of having made Zuma a sacrificial lamb in order to eliminate
him as a challenger for the presidential job. At that time, Mbeki had not
yet openly declared his intentions to seek a third term as leader of the ANC
and head of state, which he is barred from doing under the South African
constitution. He has since done so and this has tended to give credence to
the reservations expressed after he dismissed Zuma.
Zuma's insistence from the outset that he was being politically victimised
because of his Zulu ethnicity appears to have worked in his favour although
his campaign has had its ups and downs. Despite having appeared in court to
face corruption charges and being prosecuted on allegations of raping a
young family friend, Zuma's popularity has continued to soar and his bid for
the top position in the ANC continues to gather momentum. COSATU has openly
endorsed Zuma as its preferred candidate for the presidency of the ANC. A
number of provinces are also backing his bid to take over the reins from
Mbeki at the ANC conference to be held in December.
While Zuma enjoys overwhelming support, Mbeki's bid to seek a third term
appears to have crumbled under the weight of resistance and opposition from
party structures. South African newspapers have reported in the past few
weeks how the pendulum has swung against Mbeki. It its issue of September
28, the Sowetan reported that Mbeki's bid had received a deadly blow after
the Nelson Mandela region of the ANC in the Eastern Cape abandoned him. The
paper reported that the ANC regional chairman, Mike Xego had withdrawn his
support for Mbeki saying, "There is a danger of not being effective after a
long time in office and of not being in touch with the needs of the people."
The Sunday Times of September 23 reported that an increasing number of
provinces and party structures had abandoned Mbeki. The ANC national
executive committee had rejected a proposal to come up with a consensus list
of candidates, which was viewed as an attempt to boost Mbeki's quest for a
third term. Mbeki's hopes to secure a third term of office hinged on the
support of influential leaders in the ANC structures and provinces but
these, such as the Youth League, have either deserted him or opted to sit on
the fence as the Women's League has done. When Western Cape chairman James
Ngculu told a meeting that he would defend Mbeki's right to remain president
"with my soul", a member shot back. "Your soul alone."
The provincial secretary Mcebisi Skwatsha has reportedly described Mbeki as
"the root cause of the problems that the ANC is facing today." In addition
to Zuma's resurgent popularity, Mbeki must also contend with the fact that
two other candidates he is accused of having tried to eliminate from the
race to boost his chances, are openly campaigning to succeed him. These are
businessmen Tokyo Sexwale and Cyril Ramaphosa. Mbeki had the pair
investigated a few years ago after accusing them of trying to oust him from
office illegally. They were cleared but targeting them was once again seen
as an attempt by Mbeki to get Sexwale and Ramaphosa out of the way in
advance.
Unlike the murky and sometimes hostile affair in its northern neighbour,
Zimbabwe, the South African presidential succession race is being conducted
in the open and each candidate has an equal opportunity to convince the
people to choose him. With elections due to be held in March next year,
there is only speculation about candidates aspiring to take over from
President Robert Mugabe. Not a single presidential candidate has come
forward to openly declare his or her intentions. This is not surprising as
events continue to prove that political rivalry in Africa can range from the
deadly to the ridiculous.
The Sunday Times of September 30, for example carries a report about a
witchdoctor who was arrested after being caught with a pot containing a
rabbit, seven eggs, cowrie shells and palm oil near a court building housing
an election tribunal. The medicine man said he had been hired by a
politician to perform rituals at the court building in Ondo state, to tip
things in his favour. The tribunal is hearing hundreds of cases to settle
disputes arising out of general elections held in Nigeria in April.
International observers declared the polls not credible because they were
heavily rigged.


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Health and education have already collapsed

FinGaz

Personal Glimpses with Mavis Makuni

ZIMBABWE'S government ministers often give ordinary people cause to wonder
whether they live on the same planet as the mere mortals who constitute the
population of this country.

This is because in the face of overwhelming evidence of how things are on
the ground, these ministers seem determined to perceive things from rose
tinted ivory towers. They embrace different realities from the real ones
that the people grapple with from day to day. This is the distinct
impression one got upon reading a statement made by the Deputy Minister of
Agriculture, David Chapfika, which was reported in the October 1 issue of
the state-controlled daily, The Herald.
Under the headline, "Brain drain won't collapse education, health sectors"
Chapfika is quoted as saying those leaving the country were doing so to seek
wealth and the education and health sectors would soon benefit from the
repatriation of this wealth.
"Zimbabwe's education sector is such that we will continue to churn out
highly qualified professionals who are marketable anywhere in the world.
That's why our education system and the policies we have in place ensure
that we have a high literacy rate and concentration of degrees in various
fields."
While it is true that Zimbabwe once had one of the best education systems on
the African continent, it should be clear to everyone that this is no longer
the case. Apart from the collapse of infrastructure that is clear for all to
see even at the University of Zimbabwe, educational standards have plummeted
and the country could very soon be producing half-baked graduands. The
prevailing economic conditions in the country have affected every facet of
life and human endeavour and the rot can only be reversed through the
government acknowledging the problems and resolving to address them in an
honest and transparent manner.
Reciting tired mantras such as those repeated by the Deputy Minister about
how things used to be is not a problem-solving attitude and this is the
biggest obstacle in government. Officials would rather devote their
collective energies and national resources towards denying the existence of
a demonstrable problem than in being honest and confronting the issues.
Chapfika's Utopian utterances were, for example, reported in The Herald on
the same day that a full-scale national strike by teachers began.
A Sunday paper quoted Zimbabwe Teachers' Association (ZIMTA) president
Tendai Chikowore as confirming that the association's members would begin a
strike last Monday to press for better salaries and working conditions. The
strike by teachers who are members of ZIMTA began about a week after their
counterparts who fall under the Progressive Teachers' Union (PTUZ) resorted
to industrial action on the basis of the same grievances.
Before this latest boycott, the teachers had gone on numerous other strikes
and to all intents and purposes are permanently on a go-slow in which they
report for work as a formality but do very little teaching. It follows
therefore, that very little learning or education is taking place. This
situation does not just apply to the primary and secondary education
sectors. Tertiary institutions are in the same boat and lecturers are
regularly on go-slows and full-scale strikes.
In fact, press reports at the weekend indicated that university lecturers
and non-academic staff were planning industrial action of their own to press
for better remuneration and working conditions. A spokesman for the Zimbabwe
State Universities Union of Academics (ZISUA) announced that the union would
embark on a go-slow to press the government to address their grievances and
would resort to full-scale industrial action if they got no joy.
It is quite clear that the education sector as a whole is in crisis and the
enormous problems bedeviling it cannot be wished away by referring to past
achievements as Chapfika tried to do in his speech at a field day in
Mhangura, which is referred to above.
In it, he assured the audience that wealth repatriated by Zimbabweans in the
Diaspora would facilitate the resuscitation of the education and health
sectors. The Deputy Minister is mistaken to think that those Zimbabweans
compelled by the prevailing economic and political conditions to leave their
motherland do so in pursuit of riches. The government should accept that
there is something seriously wrong in the country when its citizens scramble
in such large numbers to leave their families behind to find ways to sustain
them in foreign lands. Most of these Zimbabweans have no choice but to seek
greener pastures elsewhere because of the untenable situation at home.
The government should be anxious to tackle the problems that have caused
such an unprecedented exodus of both professional and unskilled workers
rather than sit back contentedly waiting for their repatriated earnings to
fill the gap left by the lack of adequate government funding for the
education and health sectors. Government propagandists often attack
Zimbabweans who are forced to leave their motherland because of the
unbearable conditions as being unpatriotic and beholden to the capitalist
way of life in the West. But at the same time the government wants to count
on their foreign earnings to cater for services that should be funded from
the national fiscus.
It is the responsibility of the government to fund the education and health
sectors from the taxes paid by Zimbabwean workers. The government simply
needs to get its priorities right and eschew its habit of spending
extravagant sums of money on political survival projects such as the setting
up of a money-gobbling propaganda radio station in Gweru and other
initiatives designed to portray a positive image to the rest of the world.
The only people who need to be convinced that their government is doing
right by them are the people of Zimbabwe.
Even if the rest of the world were to believe government propaganda about
things in this country being a bed of roses, what purpose would that serve
when the people are grappling with the ugly realities everyday? No food in
the shops. No teachers in the classrooms. No doctors to attend to the sick
and no medicines at health centres. These are not the sort of situations
that the government can still hope to dupe the people about. The buck stops
with the government and things will only improve once it begins to take its
responsibilities seriously rather than bank on subterfuge and deceitful
spinning.
mmakuni@fingaz.co.zw


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MDC should know better than to be used

FinGaz

Tendai Dumbutshena

A JUDGE of South Africa's constitutional court said in a recent case that if
you walk into a lion's den and meet a lion you should not complain that you
met a lion. Similarly, if you participate in an election whose processes you
know are thoroughly subverted, you should not complain if you lose that
election.

When an election looms in Zimbabwe, President Robert Mugabe with a coterie
of enforcers, devises a strategy to ensure victory. Invariably, this
strategy involves all manner of foul means.
With the 2008 election on the horizon, Constitutional Amendment No. 18 was
crafted to achieve two main objectives. First and most important was to
superficially create constituencies to bolster the number of rural seats.
This is where ZANU PF has the means to terrorise the electorate. The second
objective was to give President Mugabe some flexibility to manage the
internal politics of succession within his own party. Other issues like the
appointment of members of the House of Assembly, given the preponderance of
rural constituencies, became irrelevant.
The two factions of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), despite their
infinite wisdom, buckled under pressure from South Africa's President, Thabo
Mbeki, to support the amendment. With eyes wide open and smiles on their
faces, they are being shepherded by Mbeki along a path to political
extinction. As a rule when your enemies applaud a decision you make while
your friends express dismay, calamity is about to befall you.
There were strenuous attempts by MDC leaders to justify their support for
Amendment Number 18 after having rejected any piecemeal approach to
constructing a new constitutional dispensation. If you sift through the
waffle uttered by various officials you find two justifications. The first
is that it is to generate goodwill in the hope that it will be reciprocated.
The second is that Mbeki promised ZANU PF's cooperation on issues on the
agenda of mediated talks.
In an interview with an external radio station, Welshman Ncube went further
to argue that ZANU PF had actually made significant concessions that
justified supporting Amendment 18.
This argument is so totally devoid of truth that it is not worth pursuing.
This is a classical example of disinformation meant to conceal an
abandonment of principle. The issue of generating goodwill is laughable.
Does the MDC not realise the nature of the beast they are dealing with? A
few years back the MDC abandoned its boycott of President Mugabe's opening
of Parliament to create goodwill.
The party's president, Morgan Tsvangirai, even attended an opening of
Parliament to put an official seal to what he thought was an historic
rapprochement with Zanu-PF. Today he and his senior colleagues bear physical
marks of Mugabe's response to that gesture of goodwill. President Mugabe
loathes the MDC with every fibre in his body. He will never accommodate
them. He is now manipulating the so-called mediation talks to trap the MDC
into a poltically suicidal pact.
In Mbeki he has a willing accomplice. No wonder he publicly thanked him for
his efforts at the recent UN General Assembly meeting.
How can the leadership of the MDC trust any commitments made by ZANU PF,
given the events of the past seven years? Do they not realise that this
party honours agreements more in their breach than observance? Have they
forgotten the many broken promises including the Abuja Agreement to which
the then foreign affairs minister Stan Mudenge attached his signature? The
MDC cannot compromise on matters of fundamental principle, especially on the
basis of promises made by people who seek to destroy it.
The MDC has occupied crucial political space in Zimbabwe. It must,
therefore, provide intelligent and principled leadership. Zimbabwe needs a
new dispensation that gives its people freedom and opportunities to develop
their potential. These are the values that must drive the MDC or any serious
opposition political party.
The people of Zimbabwe want real change and not a replacement of this regime
by copycats. There has been incessant propaganda by President Mugabe's
regime that the MDC is a puppet of western powers. There is a danger that in
attempts to disprove this, the MDC succumbs to pressure from Mbeki and other
African leaders to capitulate to President Mugabe.
The MDC must not be put on the defensive by leaders whose countries are
dependent on Western aid for their survival - the very people they accuse of
supporting the MDC.
It is not too late for the MDC to redeem itself from the error it made in
supporting this self-serving amendment. The purpose of the SADC mediation
process is officially to create conditions for a free and fair election.
These conditions are clearly spelt out in the SADC protocol on the conduct
of elections. All the MDC should do is insist on a strict adherence to that
protocol. There are issues to be addressed.
The whole infrastructure of violence must be dismantled including
legislation that gives it legitimacy. It is obvious there will be no new
constitution before the election. It is dishonest for the MDC to say
otherwise. The focus should therefore be on the electoral process. It is
after all the conduct of the election that will determine their character
more than the constitution.
It is na´ve of the MDC to believe it will have any contribution to make in
the delimitation exercise to determine constituency boundaries. These have
already been drawn and are securely locked up in a Central Intelligence
Organisation vault to be released at an appropriate time as the handiwork of
the electoral supervisory commission. The MDC must insist on being involved
in the delimitation exercise. There are other equally important issues such
as the Voters' Roll, and the eligibility of Zimbabweans in the Diaspora to
determine the future of their country. If the objective of the mediation
process is, as Mbeki stated on the onset, to create conditions for a free
and fair election, all Zimbabweans must be part of that process.
- Courtesy The Zimbabwe Times


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A breath of fresh air

FinGaz

Comment

AFTER a long wait, central bank governor Gideon Gono finally unveiled the
delayed mid-term monetary policy statement, which, despite being
expansionary, has been widely received as a breath of fresh air that might
rekindle the country's faltering economy.

Gono, just like his boss, Finance Minister Samuel Mumbengegwi, was caught
between a rock and a hard place. His colleagues in government had conspired
to reject his advice by forging ahead with a disastrous pricing policy
ostensibly to tame runaway inflation. The consequences have been severe.
Capacity utilisation has sunk to its lowest ebb, spawning acute shortages
and retrenchments, while escalating the scale of poverty.
After an uninspiring fiscal review policy last month, which saw the Finance
Minister handing bankrupt line ministries a $37.1 trillion envelope to
sustain them up to December 30, expectations ricocheted to the Reserve Bank
governor, who has stuck to his guns in spite of the ill-conceived policies
militating against his efforts.
On Monday, Gono came to the rescue of the productive sectors of the economy,
which will access cheaper funding to ramp up production, restock bare
supermarket shelves and slam the brakes on the continued economic decline.
While maintaining the low interest rate policy, the Reserve Bank boss also
took the gamble to fund crumbling social and economic amenities.
He will however, need to run the printing press at Fidelity Printers faster,
which will fuel inflation, more so if the excess liquidity fails to generate
a supply response. Gono will also have to put in place checks and balances
in case credit meant to revive production is used to buy foreign currency on
the parallel market.
Again to his credit, Gono could not hide his disappointment over the
reckless conduct of some of his colleagues in government. We couldn't agree
more. Why impose price controls on harmful products such as cigarettes,
alcohol and spirits, which should bring in revenue for the cash-strapped
government. It is also shameful that a few individuals, with dotted lines to
higher offices are hiding behind the indigenisation banner to seize
controlling 51 percent stakes in foreign-owned companies, including banks.
Gono's invitation for these "hawks" to apply for new banking licences is
unlikely to find any takers though.
Instead of supporting existing businesses, the country's policymakers are
teaming up with fronts to grab the few thriving enterprises, which they
later strip of assets. The country has seen only a few individuals amassing
all the wealth at the expense of the majority and policymakers are guilty of
complicity. The few that have broken new ground have only gone as far as
investing in insignificant projects with quick turnarounds.
After inviting senior managers from Stanbic and Standard Chartered banks to
share their views on the Indigenisation Bill, which passed through
parliament recently, it is sad that Indigenisation Minister Paul Mangwana
went on to read the riot act to these hapless executives - typical of ZANU
PF politicians who resort to hitting those they differ with below the belt.
As it later turned out, the invitations were only a formality as none of the
suggestions from the various interest groups called to make presentations
before parliamentary portfolio committees were taken into consideration.
Zimbabweans can only hope that President Robert Mugabe does not fall for
this half-baked Bill, which is likely to result in the few remaining foreign
investors rushing for the exits while making the country a no-go area for
fresh capital.
The question that begs an answer is: Who is Mangwana accountable to, noting
he is a non-constituency Member of Parliament? If Mangwana cannot take
advice from the people on the ground then who is he listening to? Could it
be these political vultures whose influence-peddling for cheap political
gain and personal aggrandisement has brought the country's economy on its
knees?
It is instructive to note that the same people who are waiting in the wings
to line their pockets are struggling to fully utilise farms seized from the
landless majority, who were the first to move onto the land at the height of
the land reforms in 2000.
Assuming that our policymakers are now convinced that they are now ripe to
run companies, would it not be better for them to test their skills by
turning around bottomless black holes such as the National Oil Company of
Zimbabwe, Air Zimbabwe, the Zimbabwe Iron and Steel Company, the National
Railways of Zimbabwe, ZESA and the Zimbabwe National Water Authority? After
superintending over these loss-making parastatals, Mangwana should know
better.
By speaking against evil, Gono has exhibited rare courage. Where are the
other courageous sons and daughters of Zimbabwe? Burying their heads in the
sand, thinking the challenges threatening to consume us all can be wished
away?

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