Saturday, 11 April 2009 18:43
THE inclusive government faced its sternest challenge yesterday when
the Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai warned he would not accept President
Mugabe's unilateral decision to strip the Information and Communication
Technology Ministry of its control over the contested communication
The Ministry, headed by MDC spokesperson Nelson Chamisa, has control
over parastatals such as Tel One, Net One, Transmedia and Zimpost. It is
also in charge of the Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of
Zimbabwe (Potraz), which regulates the telecommunications sector. More
worryingly for Zanu PF and President Mugabe, the Interception of
Communications Act, a widely condemned piece of legislation crafted to
ensure state security apparatus can spy on citizens, falls under the
An anonymous source quoted by The Herald on Friday announced that
President Mugabe had "decisively acted" on the matter, moving the
communications sector from Chamisa's ministry to Zanu PF stalwart Nicholas
Goche's Ministry of Transport and Infrastructure Development.
There was no explanation why the sector was not moved to the Ministry
of Media, Information and Publicity, which had previously claimed it.
Mugabe's announcement, however, drew a sharp response from the Prime
Minister's office yesterday amid indications that the matter could shake the
foundations of the inclusive government.
The PM's spokesperson James Maridadi said the announcement was "null
and void" and devoid of any legal effect. He said the manda-tes of the
ministries had been agreed by the three principals during the negotiating
process, and there was no way one of them could change them to suit his
In a sign that Tsvangirai was ready to take Mugabe head-on over the
matter, Maridadi said the President had actually "violated the law" when he
made the announcement.
"This is a violation of the spirit of the GPA and the law, the Prime
Minister does not support the violation of the law. He cannot be seen
condoning this," Maridadi said.
Chamisa, who learnt from The Herald about Mugabe's decision to strip
him of the communications portfolio, said the President's decision would not
affect his ministry.
"I have challenges taking and accepting instructions through The
Herald. In any case, I have a contract with the people through the three
principals of the various political parties." He said he had not received
anything that showed his ministry had changed.
"I am in charge of the communications sector which is under the
Ministry of Information Communication Technology (ICT)".
Sources said yesterday Mugabe's move was hardly surprising, given that
it was clear from the start that the President wasuncomfortable with Chamisa
taking charge of the telecommunications sector.
Mugabe's displeasure, sources said, was mirrored by Webster Shamu, the
Minister of Media, Information and Publicity, who fought an open battle with
Chamisa over the control of the parastatals.
Shamu turned up at a function called by Chamisa, sparking a verbal
spat in front of reporters.
Following the public stand off, there were behind-the-scenes
manoeuvres aimed at wrestling the control of the department from Chamisa,
resulting in Friday's announcement.
BY WALTER MARWIZI
Saturday, 11 April 2009 18:24
"WE have never seen anything like this before in Kuwadzana. We are now
even afraid to walk during the day."
Crispen Gumbo of Kuwadzana 5 was speaking after the recent murders of
six people in just one week in the high-density area.
Horrified residents two weeks ago woke up each day to discover another
badly beaten naked body at the same spot.
The area, situated between Kuwadzana 5 and Kuwadzana Extension is
overgrown with tall grass, gum trees and maize fields making it an ideal
haven for thieves.
A senior police officer at Kuwadzana Police station confirmed that
three people were found dead at the same spot on three consecutive days. He
said two other bodies were found in a maize field between Kuwadzana 1 and
Crowborough and the sixth in Kuwadzana 1.
"I can confirm that at least six people were found dead here in
Kuwadzana. They were all badly beaten.
We suspect the attackers used metal or blunt objects to kill these
people," said the police officer. "Patrols are being intensified in places
where these crimes are being committed but the problem is the area is too
big and we cannot cover every path."
Kuwadzana residents told The Standard they were going to bed early
while some shops are closing as early as 5pm to avoid being attacked.
The Kuwadzana crimes reflect a worrying trend since the government
"dollarised" the economy last year.
Police suspect that people who used to survive on black market
activities are behind the spate of robberies and killings around the
These are people that got used to easy cash during a time when the
country experienced serious shortages of almost everything.
Police spokesperson Wayne Bvudzijena said he had no statistics but was
aware that cases of robberies were on the increase.
"We have observed that many people are being beaten up and robbed,
especially in urban areas. We therefore advise retail outlets and shops to
keep their money in safe places," he said. "Patrols have been increased in
most areas and we also encourage members of the public not to carry lots of
cash with them."
Businesswoman Jane Mutasa lost her Mercedes-Benz car and US$20 000
cash to armed robbers on Tuesday night. Five robbers got out of two cars
that blocked her way as she was travelling home and ordered her out of her
vehicle. She was dumped near Portland Cement, on the outskirts of Mabvuku.
On the same day at 7pm, two robbers armed with a pistol and a knife
stormed Spar supermarket at Greencroft Shopping Centre and robbed the
supermarket. They stole US$2 000 from the tills.
Two armed robbers had struck at the same shopping centre a day earlier
and robbed Serah Momberume of her Nissan Caravan commuter bus.
Momberume was in the company of her two conductors when they were
blocked by a black Mitsubishi Chariot with two occupants, who robbed them of
their vehicle at gunpoint at around 7pm.
Sandile Malope recently lost her Nissan Hardbody, a Nokia E90
cellphone, laptop and R1 400 to two men and a woman she had offered a lift
while driving from South Africa. The woman had pretended to be in labour.
Police put the value of the stolen cars, goods and cash at US$183 000.
In the biggest heist so far, some police officers made away with more
than US$120 000 from Kingdom Bank in Harare.
In Shurugwi armed robbers reportedly failed to rob students of St
Patrick's Mission School of their fees.
Harare provincial police spokesperson Inspector James Sabau has warned
members of the public to be extra careful, especially when carrying large
sums of money. He said police were concerned at the number of armed
robberies reported in the capital in recent weeks.
Bvudzijena said Bulawayo tops the list of cities that have been rocked
by incidences of armed robberies, followed closely by Harare.
"The incidences of armed robbery have been on the increase throughout
the country but Bulawayo has recorded quite a number of armed gang
robberies." The gangs, he said, had seen Bulawayo residents and
businesspersons losing substantial amounts of money and valuables.
The police spokesperson blamed the increase in armed robberies on
businesspeople not banking their money. "The biggest problem is that people
are still keeping their day's takings at home or in the shops where they
operate from. Given that, these armed robbers monitor the movements in these
shops before they strike, "We encourage the businesspeople to ensure that
their money is kept in secure places such as banks."
Idah Maveza, a boutique owner in Gweru, said she deposits her day's
takings for fear of robbers. She encouraged the government to introduce
plastic money thereby reducing the risk of being targets of armed robbers.
Questions have arisen on how the robbers obtain firearms while the
government claims it has tightened its firearm licensing processes.
But police spokesperson for Bulawayo, Inspector Mandla Moyo, said in
most cases, firearms were being smuggled into the country by the robbers.
(Additional reporting by Rutendo Mawere and Nkululeko Sibanda)
By SANDRA MANDIZVIDZA
Saturday, 11 April 2009 18:22
MDC-T leader Morgan Tsvangirai (pictured) on Thursday ordered
legislators from his party not to accept cars offered by the central bank as
this was against procedure of the inclusive government, The Standard heard
Nearly two weeks ago Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) governor Gideon
Gono said he was offering the central bank's cars to legislators to be used
in their day-to-day work in their constituencies.
Gono said the cars would be returned once Treasury had the money to
buy vehicles for legislators.
But the RBZ offer caused divisions within MDC-T, with some legislators
electing to get the cars while others said the offer was "unprocedural".
Party insiders told The Standard that Tsvangirai, who is also the
Prime Minister, held an extraordinary meeting with legislators on Thursday,
where he threatened to expel anyone who accepted the offer.
"The President was frank and said anyone who gets the cars would be
expelled from the party," a source said.
Tsvangirai told legislators that the offer should have come through
the right ministry.
Under normal circumstances, the Ministry of Finance is mandated to buy
cars for legislators. The legislators pay for the vehicles through a
deduction from their salaries.
Thursday's meeting came a day after Tsvangirai's deputy, Thokozani
Khupe, held a meeting with the party's legislators on the issue of the cars.
"Some legislators said they needed the cars from the central bank
while others were against the offer. This led to Tsvangirai's Thursday
meeting," a source said.
James Maridadi, Tsvangirai's spokesperson, said the Prime Minister
understood the plight of legislators but he "would not want to be seen
presiding over a team that is engaging in illegality".
"The Prime Minister is saying we cannot wantonly violate the law.
There is a framework that enables legislators to pay for the cars and we
should use that facility," he said.
"He is Prime Minister of a government and he cannot be seen to be
negotiating things that are illegal. For the Prime Minister, something which
is illegal is not negotiable," Maridadi said.
Innocent Gonese, MDC-T Chief Whip, yesterday said legislators should
accept cars that come through proper procedures.
"Our position is that we must follow the right procedure. These issues
(cars) should be handled under the Ministry of Finance," he said. "If there
are any vehicles they should be channelled under the appropriate ministry
Lovemore Moyo, the Speaker of the House of Assembly, told The
Standard: "No one had come to me offering anybody anything".
Moyo said he had only heard about the cars in the newspapers and as
the Speaker was, therefore, not aware of the offer of cars.
"I don't operate on what is said in newspapers," he said, adding that
he was coming from an international conference.
The welfare of the country's legislators has been on a decline in line
with the deteriorating economy. Like all civil servants, legislators get an
allowance of US$100 a month. The majority of the legislators, especially
those elected during the harmonised elections last year, do not have cars
and they are waiting for the fiscus to buy them vehicles.
At US$30 000 a car, Treasury requires US$9.4 million to buy cars for
the country's 314 legislators. The amount is not huge under normal
conditions but for Zimbabwe which is generating US$20 million a month in
taxes, the country's coffers have inadequate resources to splash money on
cars when everything is virtually at a standstill.
Finance Minister Tendai Biti acknowledged that on Thursday saying it
would be irresponsible to buy cars for legislators when schools and
hospitals are not functioning well.
Saturday, 11 April 2009 18:12
THE United States Ambassador to Zimbabwe, James McGee, said
perpetrators of political violence in last year's harmonised elections must
McGee said the human rights situation in the country remained
In a wide-ranging interview with journalists in Harare last week,
McGee said it was important for perpetrators of last year's human rights
abuses to be brought to justice.
Over 200 people, mostly supporters of Movement for Democratic Change
(MDC), were murdered in last year's poll, the most violent election since
the country's Independence.
"Those behind the March post-election human rights abuses of last year
should face trial. They must be brought before the courts of law and tried,
to allow for the nation to move forward," McGee said.
McGee said while there had been an improvement on the economic front
following the formation of the inclusive government, the US was still
worried about the continued abuse of human rights and lack of the rule of
"But other things such as the rule of law, respect for human rights
those things are not moving in as nearly a rapid pace to satisfy us," he
"But again this government has only been operational for six weeks so
we want to give them the opportunity, the leg room, the political space to
do what is right and show what they can do."
On the continued incarceration of MDC activists, including senior
members of the party in the country's jails despite the formation of the
inclusive government, McGee said it was most "unfortunate". He said in good
faith those prisoners must be released as soon as possible.
Among those battling for freedom are MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai's
former personal assistant Ghandi Mudzingwa and the party's director of
security Chris Dhlamini who are facing banditry and terrorism charges.
Freelance photojournalist Shadreck Anderson Manyere who is facing the
same charges is also still locked up.
Manyere was granted bail last week but the State appealed against this
Apart from the continued detention of political prisoners, Mugabe has
done nothing to stop the new wave of violent farm invasions that has
affected more than 100 white-owned commercial farms mostly in Mashonaland
Most farm owners have since gone into hiding fearing for their lives,
while their workers have been rendered destitute after being chased away
from the farms that had become their homes.
Others have been arrested for "failing to vacate state property".
McGee said the US would not lift targeted sanctions on President
Robert Mugabe and senior members of Zanu PF party unless the lawlessness
bedevilling the country stopped.
In fact, McGee said, the US could widen the visa and financial
sanctions on Mugabe and his cronies if they do not show willingness to
"The individual sanctions are against people and people need to show
us absolute ability to change, without which sanctions will remain. In
fact, you might see more individual sanctions," McGee said.
McGee said those officials who want to discuss issues of trade and
economic co-operation with the US but are on the sanctions list can come to
him since he is the US government representative in Zimbabwe.
"They don't need to travel to the US for that," McGee said.
The US and the European Union (EU) imposed sanctions against Mugabe
and senior officials of his party for gross human rights violation and lack
of rule of law. The US ambassador however admitted there were positive
developments brought about by the inclusive government.
He said inflation had come down because the RBZ had stopped printing
money. The Central Statistical Office (CSO) last week said the country's
month on month inflation for March decreased by 0.1 percentage points to -3%
In February the month on month inflation stood at -3.1%.
"We are no longer seeing the uncontrolled printing of money. Inflation
which had been running in numbers that I am not familiar with.quintillions,
gazillions of percentage points, last month inflation was minus 2.5% so we
have turned around and we are going back in the right direction. So that's
very very positive," McGee said.
BY CAIPHAS CHIMHETE AND BERTHA SHOKO
Saturday, 11 April 2009 18:10
THE State last week again invoked the Criminal Procedure and Evidence
Act to ensure the continued detention of two senior MDC officials and a
journalist who had been granted bail by the High Court.
Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) accused the State of
undermining the rights of political detainees by continuously invoking the
Act to ensure their continued detention.
"Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights condemns the continued invocation
of Section 121 of the Criminal Procedure and Evidence Act by representatives
of the AG's office," said ZLHR in a statement.
Former aide to Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, Ghandi Mudzingwa, MDC
director of security Kisimusi Dhlamini and photojournalist Shadreck Anderson
Manyere, who are facing banditry and terrorism charges, had been granted
bail by High Court Justice Charles Hungwe.
The three are being accused of involvement in the alleged bombing of
CID Headquarters in Harare, Manyame River Bridge in Norton and the Harare
Central Police Station last year.
Justice Hungwe last week granted bail to the three political detainees
after the defence team led by Alec Muchadehama of Mbidzo, Muchadehama &
Makoni legal practitioners, had applied for bail.
Justice Hungwe had ordered the three accused persons to deposit US$1
000 with the Clerk of the High Court and to report every Friday at
Mabelreign Police Station.
However, the bail was immediately suspended after the State
represented by Chris Mutangadura invoked Section 121 of the Act, which
allows the State a period of seven days within which to launch an appeal
against the granting of bail to accused persons.
"This provision is the most abused in relation to political detainees,
and is clearly a further intent to frustrate the course of justice and deny
accused persons their fundamental right to liberty."
ZLHR said there were numerous cases in which the State invoked the
Act, particularly against MDC officials and human rights activists last
The human rights group described the practice as repressive and
"The persecution of our clients continues and there is an urgent need
for intervention in order for such repressive and unconstitutional practices
to be brought to an end and for the political detainees to be afforded their
basic rights to freedom," said the ZLHR.
BY EDGAR GWESHE
Saturday, 11 April 2009 18:07
TWO men who stole cars donated by the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ)
to the Ministry of Information and Publicity could not be sentenced for the
fourth time because the state was unable to provide transport to ferry them
last week from remand prison.
Isaac Chigumadzi, who was employed as a driver at the Ministry of
Information and Publicity, and Blessing Mphawanyera, a freelance
salesperson, were convicted last month on two counts of stealing two
vehicles valued at US$29 000 and selling them using fake registration
Harare Regional Magistrate Stephen Musona was supposed to pass
sentence on March 26 on the two, found guilty of contravening Section 113
of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act.
State prosecutor Norman Tsarwe said the sentencing could not take
place last week because there was no transport to ferry the accused persons
from remand prison.
Tsarwe said on the first occasion defence lawyers failed to turn up
while on the second and third time, the matter failed to kick off because
the father of one of the accused was making arrangements to secure the
services of a new lawyer to represent his son.
The court heard that between February 12 and 16, 2008, RBZ Governor
Gideon Gono handed over a total of 79 cars to the Ministry of Information to
boost its resource requirements.
The vehicles were collected and signed for by a senior official in the
Ministry of Information, Clyde November, and Francis Chatambudza Chikowore,
President Robert Mugabe's press officer, on behalf of the ministry.
Chigumadzi and Mphawanyera, working in cahoots with November, who is
currently on the run, went to Production Services and drove away with a
Mazda B1800 valued at US$17 000, which they sold to Francis Dewe Mutyavaviri
and Washington Matiyenga for US$8 500.
They used fraudulent registration books.
The two were arrested following a tip-off and the stolen cars were
Mphawanyera is due to appear in court again on three counts of
stealing three cars valued at US$54 000. The cars belonged to the Ministry
Several people have appeared in court for abusing the RBZ's
BY SANDRA MANDIZVIDZA
Saturday, 11 April 2009 16:55
THE controversial Kariba draft document will not determine the outcome
of a new constitution the country seeks to produce, a cabinet minister has
Addressing civil society representatives at a consultative meeting in
Harare last week, Constitutional and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Eric
Matinenga said the document would not determine the contents of the final
The Kariba draft was authored by Zanu PF's Patrick Chinamasa and
Nicholas Goche, MDC-T's Tendai Biti and MDC-M's Welshman Ncube in Kariba as
the negotiating parties sought to find a solution the political crisis.
"The Kariba draft is not and will not determine the final
constitution", Matinenga said. "That draft is on the same footing as the
1979 Lancaster House constitution and the 2000 (draft) constitution which
was rejected by the people."
President Robert Mugabe and Minister of Industry and Commerce Welshman
Ncube are on record as saying the Kariba document would form a basis in the
drafting of the new constitution.
National Constitutional Assembly (NCA) chairman Lovemore Madhuku and
Tsholotsho North legislator Jonathan Moyo have rejected the Kariba document
and called for the drafting of a new and people-driven Constitution.
Article 6 of the Global Political Agreement (GPA) signed by the
country's three main political parties last September provides for the
drafting of a people-driven constitution following the formation of the
Matinenga however said the Kariba draft would only serve as a point of
In coming up with the new Constitution, Matinenga pledged to ensure
that the process would be inclusive, transparent and legitimate.
He said there will always be checks and balances among the three
political parties and "none will override the process as is feared in some
University of Zimbabwe lecturer Professor John Makumbe said given the
widespread political polarisation, it was imperative for Zimbabweans to
guard against coming up with a "reactionary" Constitution.
"The context within which we are doing this process is a mixed bag of
everything," Makumbe said.
"The environment is highly polarised and, politically, people are in
different groups and this is a very serious issue because if we are not
careful, we may end up drawing up a constitution which is a reaction to the
political environment instead of creating a timeless constitution".
Makumbe said the political culture of fear instilled by the violence
that characterised last June's presidential run-off election could be a
major stumbling block in producing a good constitution.
"There is also political tension, not just among political parties but
even at village level where violence is still ongoing," said Makumbe.
"When people gather to make contributions, there could well be
violence and some will restrain themselves from making certain inputs
because of fear and we have to guard against all this".
He said other impediments included deprivation of information through
such pieces of legislation as the Public Order and Security Act, Access to
Information and Protection of Privacy Act and the Broadcasting Services Act.
Many participants to the meeting were concerned about a possible
exclusion of those Zimbabweans living in the Diaspora but Matinenga said his
ministry was setting up a website to ensure their participation.
Matinenga said a parliamentary select committee which will spearhead
the constitutional reform process will be announced this week.
Various interest groups who attended last week's meeting gave
summaries of what they would like to see in the new constitution.
Children's representatives said they wanted the new constitution to
recognise children as "a special interest group".
The youth had widespread demands, among them the need to protect their
rights to education, empowerment and protection from political violence and
Local government authorities want to be constitutionalised like their
counterparts in South Africa.
Women said they wanted equal access to and control of resources.
They said they wanted the implementation of various regional and
international statutes to which Zimbabwe is a signatory.
BY JENNIFER DUBE
Saturday, 11 April 2009 16:34
EMMERSON Mnangagwa, the Minister of Defence, who was to be a state
witness in a case in which he was accused of unfairly benefiting from inputs
allegedly looted from the Grain Marketing Board (GMB), has been saved from
State prosecutor Benson Taruvinga last week closed the case after
having finished cross-examining "all the witnesses" except the Defence
"I have finished cross-examining all the witnesses and I am not going
to comment on why Mnangagwa failed to testify," Taruvinga said.
Mnangagwa was supposed to appear before a Harare magistrate to respond
to allegations that he had benefited from inputs allegedly looted from GMB
by his former aid, Jeffery Tabva and one Raymond Williams last year.
It is alleged that on May 27, 2008 Tabva purchased 720 x 50kg of urea
fertiliser from the GMB claiming that he had been sent by Mnangagwa.
The parastatal released 500 bags of fertiliser all under Mnangagwa's
name, which were moved from a GMB depot by Williams, who is jointly charged
Defence lawyer Itai Ndudzo said he was going to file an application
for discharge at the close of the court case because the state had failed to
prove any prima-facie case against the accused persons.
Magistrate Lilian Kudya will deliver her ruling on April 21.
In his defence outline, Williams said he was only hired to provide
transport while Tabva argued he had been assigned to source the inputs not
only for Mnangagwa but other unnamed Zanu PF officials for distribution to
Tabva said during the 2008 election period he was actively involved in
Zanu PF campaigns and made numerous purchases of various commodities for the
benefit of party members in various constituencies.
He said the commodities were for the benefit of various politicians,
BY SANDRA MANDIZVIDZA
Thursday, 09 April 2009 20:09
ZIMIND Publishers on Thursday made four key appointments to the
leadership of NewsDay, a daily newspaper the group will be launching
Barnabas Thondlana has been appointed Editor of NewsDay, the latest
publication in the Zimind group.
Moses Mudzwiti is Managing Editor, Dumisani Muleya, who has been
Assistant Editor of the Zimbabwe Independent, becomes the Group Political
and Investigative Editor, while Constantine Chimakure is News Editor.
Chimakure held the same position on the Zimbabwe Independent.
The appointments are with effect from Tuesday.
Trevor Ncube, the chairman of the Zimbabwe Independent and The
Standard, in announcing the appointments, said discussions with the
authorities regarding registration of NewsDay were on-going, adding
indications were positive.
"We have been assured by the government following the GNU retreat that
normalisation of the media landscape is a priority," Ncube said. "We have
been further assured that the process to get NewsDay registered is underway
and on course."
Ncube said Thondlana and Mudzwiti are an experienced and dynamic duo
who will produce "an exciting newspaper for the Zimbabwe we want".
"Chimakure is a hard-working journalist with a nose for news and will
be an asset to NewsDay, while Muleya is by far the best investigative and
political journalist the country has produced in recent years," Ncube said.
"This is a winning team. The team, among other things, has been tasked
with sifting through the hundreds of applications we have received and
emerging with talent fit to produce a great newspaper," Ncube said.
"We have been overwhelmed by responses to our recruitment drive from
both the Diaspora and locally."
Thondlana has been in the newspaper industry for 20 years. He began
his career at the Financial Gazette in 1989 and rose through the ranks to
the position of News Editor.
In 1996 he left to join the Zimbabwe Independent as its first News
Two years later he left to join The Daily News as its first News
Editor. A year later, he was back at the Zimbabwe Independent as Deputy
In 2001 he left to launch The Daily News on Sunday as its founding
Editor. The paper was closed down in 2003 under Zimbabwe's draconian media
Thondlana has also worked for international news organisations such as
the Dow Jones Newswires, Bloomberg News and Media24, among others.
Mudzwiti (46) spent the last 15 years working for major media houses
in Namibia and South Africa.
These included Avusa, owners of The Sunday Times, and Independent News
& Media, proprietors of The Star newspaper.
He started his career at The Daily Gazette in 1992 and a year later
moved to Namibia where he worked for the Windhoek Advertiser.
"My final post in South Africa, before returning home last year, was
that of Deputy Editor of The Times, a daily which is a sister publication to
The Sunday Times," Mudzwiti said.
Before that Mudzwiti worked as Night Editor of The Sowetan. By the
time he left The Sowetan to start The Times, he had been promoted to Senior
Earlier he worked as a Sub-Editor for Martin Creamer's Engineering
Mudzwiti later moved to the Cape Times, where he was Deputy News
Editor. Subsequently he was promoted to Night News Editor of The Star based
He also had a stint as the News Editor for Business Report before
moving to The Sowetan at the persuasion of John Dludlu, then its editor.
Chimakure has worked in the media over the past 15 years. He worked
for the weekly Masvingo Mirror (1992 - 1996) as a reporter before joining
the weekly Zimbabwe Mirror as a senior political reporter (1999-2001).
He was promoted to chief political reporter (2001-2002), but left the
Zimbabwe Mirror in May 2002 to join the Business Tribune as chief business
reporter until 2004 when the government shut down the newspaper.
He joined The Daily Mirror in September 2004 as chief political
reporter and six months later was promoted to Deputy News Editor.
In June 2005 he was promoted to News Editor - a position he held until
the newspaper collapsed in March 2007.
He joined the Zimbabwe Independent in June of 2007 as senior political
reporter. Last year he was promoted to chief reporter.
Other appointments to the Newsday editorial team will be announced in
BY OUR STAFF
Saturday, 11 April 2009 15:34
THE inclusive government is collecting a fifth of its revenue
estimates, Finance Minister Tendai Biti (pictured right) said on Wednesday,
signalling that it will be a long way before the new administration lives
within its means.
Biti said the fiscus was receiving revenue averaging US$20 million
monthly which can't "pay for civil service allowance of US$30 million per
The US$20 million collected is far below the US$100 million proposed
to be raised monthly under the revised budget announced by Biti last month.
Asked whether the ministry will buy cars for legislators, Biti said
due to budgetary constraints Treasury would not in the meantime buy cars for
legislators when hospitals and school are not functioning to their optimum.
"I would be irresponsible if I am going to buy vehicles when the
mortuary at Harare Hospital is not functioning," he said.
But he said MPs have a duty to play in the matrix of national healing.
He said the government can buy the cars for legislators but it was not a
priority at the moment.
At a rate US$30 000 per car, Treasury requires US$9.4 million to buy
cars for the country's 314 legislators.
Biti said things are moving in the inclusive government and everyday
the Ministry of Finance is talking to investors interested in pouring money
into the country.
Last week a 32-member delegation of South African business executives
was in the country to scout for opportunities signalling optimism in the
two-months old inclusive government.
Zimbabwe requires an injection of US$5 billion to fund its revival
plan, Short Term Emergency Recovery Programme designed to steer the country
from the economic crisis.
At an extraordinary summit of Sadc leaders early this month, the
regional grouping approved a US$10 billion economic recovery plan over the
next two to three years.
Analysts say dwindling revenue inflows would affect the government's
capacity to live within its means in the US$1 billion budget presented by
Biti last month.
Announcing a revised US$1 billion budget last month, Biti said the
nation has to learn to live within its means.
"No ministry or public agency should expect to eat beyond what we have
gathered through collection of taxes, fees and any other legitimate sources
of revenue," Biti said.
BY NDAMU SANDU
Saturday, 11 April 2009 15:27
ZIMBABWE'S month-on-month inflation for March decreased by 0.1
percentage points to -3% in March, the Central Statistical Office (CSO) said
on Thursday. The development, raised optimism the country is on its way out
of the woods.
In February the month-on-month inflation stood at -3.1%.
"This means that prices measured by all the items in the CPI decreased
by an average 3.0%," CSO said.
CSO said the Consumer Price Index for the month ending March 31 had
decreased to US$91.73 from US$94.60 in February.
Economists attribute the decline in prices to competition among
businesses in order to remain viable.
Since the introduction of forex shops in September and the
dollarisation of the economy this year prices of basic commodities have been
Independent economist John Robertson said the inflation numbers are "a
modest improvement in that we were too much before though the prices are
still high compared to South Africa."
"We have reason to be pleased but I don't think it is a full picture
of the solution," he said.
Robertson said it will be a long time before we see local industries
producing at their maximum.
Most of the products in shops are imported and there are fears that
local industries will collapse if they are not capitalised.
The government has prioritised the recapitalisation of industries
under its economic recovery plan, the Short Term Emergency Recovery
Under STERP the government said a US$2 billion external credit
facility would be established to cater for strategic industries.
Zimbabwe is in a post reconstruction period following years of decline
and the country's begging bowl was extended to Sadc culminating in the
regional body approving a US$10 billion bailout package.
Analysts are wary that Zimbabwe will provide the right environment to
To date there are still outstanding issues in the Global Political
Agreement that ushered in an inclusive government in March and analysts say
would- be investors will watch from a distance until the issues are
BY NDAMU SANDU
Saturday, 04 April 2009 13:08
JUDGE President Rita Makarau on Thursday met lawyers representing
Mutumwa Mawere and SMM administrator Afaras Gwaradzimba to agree on setting
a date for the continuation of the matter in which the South African
businessman is accused of having masterminded the demise of his empire.
Mawere, former SMM board chairman William Mudekunye, Africa Resources
Limited, Southern Africa Asbestos Sales (SAS), AR Project Services (ARPS)
and Petter Trading Limited are accused of being culpable in the placement of
SMM under reconstruction through their liability. SAS, APRS and Petter are
currently under liquidation.
Gwaradzimba's lawyers Dube Manikai & Hwacha and Mawere's lawyers Costa
and Madzonga met Justice Makarau on Thursday morning where the parties
agreed on the continuation of case which commenced last year.
Lawyers told Standardbusiness that Justice Makarau wants the matter to
be heard and wants to know the dates when counsel will be available during
the second term of the year to argue the matter.
Mawere's lawyers were directed to revert to Justice Makarau by
Thursday. The lawyers said parties to the matter want the case to be
At the centre of the saga is the allegation that SMM through its
division, African Associated Mines, exported goods worth about
US$18,464,595.27, C$628,071.84 and ZAR4,515,367.48 to SAS and as at 31 March
2004 these amounts were due and outstanding to SMM.
SMM was seized from Mawere by the government under the Reconstruction
Act on the basis that his companies were insolvent and indebted to the State
by owing parastatals money.
The Act paved the way for the appointment of Gwaradzimba as the
administrator of Mawere's empire.
The government then took the case to a UK court to be registered as
owners of SMM.
But the UK courts ruled that Mawere owns SMM parent company, SMM
It emerged last week that following the spectacular collapse of the UK
case, the government now wants to use the Reconstruction Act to dismember
SMM from SMMH.
Under the Reconstruction Act, the assets of a culpable person as
identified by the state appointed Administrator can be forfeited to the
SAS being a South African company is governed under the laws of that
country and the Reconstruction laws cannot be applied across the Limpopo.
As such to claim money from SAS, the government had to first take
control of SMM and then proceed to file claims against the South African
With the control of SMM in the bag the state used SMM to apply for the
liquidation of SAS and the South African company was liquidated in 2005.
Legal experts say if Justice Makarau confirms the findings by Gwaradzimba
that Mawere and the companies are culpable and liable for debts to SMM then
the government will now have a legal window to nationalise Mawere's assets.
It has also been established that the reconstruction of SMM cannot be
completed without an order of court as the law requires that the shareholder
of the company placed under reconstruction must give his or her consent to
the actions of the government before the court can confirm the
A confirmation order by the courts will ensure that any claims against
SMM will not be honoured and this would render the liquidation process of
SAS in South Africa a nullity, legal experts told Standardbusiness.
Karen Keevy, one of SAS liquidators could not be reached for comment
on what course of action the South African company would take in the event
that SAS is made culpable for SMM's problems.
BY NDAMU SANDU
Saturday, 11 April 2009 16:26
THE pitfalls of national consciousness is the title of the third
chapter of Frantz Fanon's famous book, The Wretched of the Earth.
It is one of my favourite pieces of political writing on Africa. It is
recommended reading for African politicians, particularly those who have
landed into positions of power after years of struggle.
It never ceases to amaze me how virtually every African country has
utterly failed to heed the message, especially relating to the destructive
conduct of its leaders upon assumption of power.
It remains true of the liberation generation and the new generation
that took over after years of failure.
Countries like Zambia, Malawi and Kenya that have experienced the
phase that Zimbabwe is presently going through should guide our leaders not
to repeat the mistakes they made.
In our quest to remind our leaders of these basic errors, let us
consider a hypothetical 'Mr Minister' - the new generation politician who
fought against the failures of the post-independence era and promised a new
The idea here is to consider tell-tell signs of when Mr Minister may
be crossing that very thin line that separates the new from the old.
In other words, how can we tell if Mr Minister has really created new
footwear or if he has simply stepped into the old shoes?
Mr Minister, who has now escaped the ranks of the opposition begins to
speak the language of authority; the language of law and order.
Suddenly, he has become a defender of even those laws which not so
long ago were employed against him.
Now he understands the need to ensure adherence to the laws of the
country, however harsh, as long as, he will say, "it helps to maintain peace
and order in the country".
Mr Minister's new favourite word is 'unity', so anyone who raises
dissent is regarded as an enemy; as an unruly element out to undermine the
'unity of the nation'
The first test, which will inevitably come sooner or later, is when
sections of the frustrated public try to demonstrate their unhappiness, the
venue of choice often being the street.
The public will be keen to use the supposedly new found space which Mr
Minister promised during the struggle.
However, Mr Minister will appear on national radio and television
asking people to be patient and issuing a veiled warning that demonstrations
will not be tolerated because they threaten the 'stability and unity' of the
If his call is unheeded, Mr Minister will readily call upon and deploy
riot police to 'maintain peace and order'. People will be told that such
actions are necessary to ensure that 'normal business' is not disrupted by
At some point, appalled by the slow pace of the changes, people will
begin to ask when the repressive security laws will be repealed.
They will be told that at this stage, economic issues take priority.
Mr Minister has suddenly realised that so-called repressive security
legislation is only bad if you are on the other side.
In fact, the likelihood is that Mr Minister will begin to see enemies
lurking behind every corner - so he is going to need extra security.
Very hefty men will suddenly be at his side whenever he appears
public. Mr Minister might even begin to see some loopholes in the existing
security laws and will probably call for amendments to 'strengthen national
During his time in opposition, Mr Minister was an ardent critic of the
lavish lifestyles enjoyed by government ministers and their associates.
He questioned the necessity of buying every minister a Mercedes Benz
when the state of public roads was so bad.
He railed against the obscene display of ill-gotten wealth whilst the
public was languishing in a sea of poverty. At that time Mr Minister spoke
the language of the suffering.
However, once in government the luxury that looked disgusting from a
distance suddenly looks too appetising to ignore.
Mr Minister is shown his new Mercedes Benz and the bad state of the
roads becomes a secondary issue. The plight of the public that he so loudly
championed is forgotten.
Instead he invents justifications for accepting the new found luxury.
He could even cheekily suggest that he is obliged to accept the new
luxury 'on behalf of the people' - that they should be so proud to see one
of their own riding this symbol of power!
If a ministerial colleague rejects the Mercedes Benz, he will probably
find, to his astonishment, that he is not applauded or emulated by Mr
Minister and other colleagues.
Rather he is castigated as an upstart and populist -anoda kuonererwa.
Anoda kuzviita ani? (Who does he think he is?), they will ask dismissively.
Others will simply sneer - Ndeyekwake iyo! (That's his problem) and
proceed to accept more. Now, that 'upstart' of a minister will have to be
very careful henceforth because he will be walking on political eggshells.
Even his erstwhile comrades will be watching him very closely to pick
up on any slip-ups. Perhaps someone somewhere gets busy studying very old
and dusty files to check what the 'upstart' may have done in the past so
that he can be 'shamed' and 'nailed'.
He could even be arrested on spurious charges.
At that point, Mr Minister and colleagues will probably declare, very
smugly, 'let the rule of law take its course'.
No-one will ever want to emulate 'upstart' minister's conduct that, it
will have become clear, is unbecoming of a politician.
Mr Minister previously criticised government officials who paid scant
attention to local schools and universities whilst they sent their children
to expensive schools and universities abroad.
He railed against those who chose to fly to South Africa for medical
treatment whilst local facilities suffered through neglect.
He promised to trace all the funds that were looted and stashed away
in foreign bank accounts. He even campaigned for sanctions to freeze the
assets of the government officials.
He promised that once in power, he would immediately declare his
assets on a public register to ensure transparency.
However, a few months down the line talk of assets declaration becomes
Children and relatives are dispatched to foreign schools and
universities even though the local universities and schools have failed to
open or operate normally.
The teacher is paid US$100 whilst university fees at a UK university
are upwards of US$15 000 per academic year (that excludes living costs).
Any hint of pain, the minister or his spouse is flown to a foreign
hospital. Asked why, aides say Mr Minister is important to the nation, he
needs special care.
The new minister does not have much of his own, except what the party
gave him for his sacrifices.
They say he does not know how government works and must therefore be
Never mind that those who perform the induction about how government
works are exactly the same persons whom Mr Minister previously criticised
precisely about how that government worked! Not surprisingly, he may end up
adopting that very behaviour that he previously disagreed with.
Mr Minister, who previously had no financial interest outside the
country might be inducted about how to open a 'safe and secure' offshore
He might be given a 'loan' from the new friends - payable whenever -
don't worry munun'una (young man/lady), they will say reassuringly.
The young man/lady will be most grateful. But that's a 'locking device'
- Mr Minister is suddenly locked into the web of corruption. With unclean
hands, he has neither the voice nor will to point to the many tainted hands
Like the Mafia, the minister has become a 'made man' - he is one of
After trying so hard to portray himself as a man of the people, Mr
Minister may not even realise how fast and long he has distanced himself
from the people through the seemingly 'small' things that he has done or not
He will talk about how government business is done, like a true expert
who finds it hard to understand why his audience does not understand him and
He will become very busy and unavailable to his old friends and
associates. Indeed, he will have made new, more powerful friends whose good
qualities he now appreciates.
Because of the new lofty status, he suddenly finds it hard to even
greet old friends in the company of his new buddies.
He probably calls them the 'povo' or the 'masses'. He is embarrassed
when he sees them. He will not answer calls.
He will be too busy to reply any form of correspondence.
Journalists, who not so long ago were cherished partners will find it
increasingly hard to get interviews. Journalists who criticise the minister
may never be granted an interview again, ever.
When asked hard questions about emaciated prisoners Mr Minister will
probably profess ignorance or say it is exaggerated or use the old line,
'The government does not comment on individual cases'.
Asked about former colleagues languishing in jail he will probably
protest that matter does not fall within his remit.
Old comrades are now simply 'a matter'. He will dilly-dally, use very
big words that mean absolutely nothing and generally show frustration with a
journalist who is seen to be asking 'too many questions'.
When these things begin to happen; when we see these things, then that
bug called power is slowly finding comfort in the bloodstream of the new Mr
and Mrs Ministers.
I hope they engage in some self-introspection, look at their conduct
closely in the coming months and judge if they have become or are becoming
any of these things.
There is very one simple lesson: change comes in small quantities; it
comes in those small gestures; in very small ways, even those ways that you
think are unimportant. They matter.
Alex Magaisa is based at, Kent Law School, the University of Kent and
can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com
Saturday, 11 April 2009 16:19
THE front page picture of President Robert Mugabe, in The Herald,
beaming with unabashed glee and contentment, among an equally excited group
of mostly young South African entrepreneurs must have reminded some people
of Strive Masiyiwa.
Remember him? A young Zimbabwean who had blazed a trail in his country
of birth as an entrepreneur whose vision of his future as a businessman
seemed destined to soar above every conceivable horizon.
Now he lives in South Africa, his base of operations.
There is also Mutumwa Mawere, another Zimbabwean entrepreneur, now
domiciled across the Limpopo, where he, too, is apparently making his own
mark in the business world.
There are others, bankers mostly, who left the country as the
government's paranoia scaled new heights of intolerance.
How much damage this inflicted on the economy and the reputation of
the country at large, as an investment destination, was clearly enormous.
Those South African business people may have dreams of striking it
rich in this country.
But there must be a few among them who are aware of the peculiar
benchmark or yardstick used by Mugabe's government to determine the essence
of success in business or even in politics.
Most people suspect it is anchored on Zanu PF's bizarre requirement
that they swear allegiance to the party - in some form or other.
Part of this pledge of loyalty might entail assisting the party with
hefty donations, especially at election time.
It could also require them to be generous in offering employment to
party loyalists, not necessarily on the basis of their skills, but on the
depth of their commitment to the party's barometer of success - weird as it
Zanu PF has not distinguished itself as a paragon of economic
integrity or probity.
The late Bernard Chidzero, the possessor of one of the sharpest minds
in this field, must have eventually regretted leaving his cushy
international job to join Mugabe's first government after independence.
Simba Makoni too must have found he could not adapt to the yardstick
of success which the party has forged and always used -mostly unrelated to
the doctrine of discipline and thrift counselled by the great economic minds
of our time.
Although Mugabe himself has reportedly acquired a Master's degree in
Economics, we have all heard him hold forth on very "unorthodox" theories,
some of which seemed to find favour with young Gideon Gono, now the
embattled Governor of the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe.
Most of the economic problems that eventually drowned this country
were related to the old theory of the "people owning all the means of
production", the anchor of Marxist-Leninist economic doctrine.
This rabidly anti-capitalist and anti-free enterprise stance led to
the land reform fiasco, much more than the noble enterprise of
redistributing land more equitably than the racist regimes had done during
the previous 90 years.
If the programme had been designed with pragmatism and keen eye on the
advantages of a sober unemotional implementation of a policy aimed at
maximum - rather than emotional or so called patriotic productivity, the
disaster which culminated in the insanely unmanageable inflation rate might
never have terrorised the economy into bankruptcy.
It is true that capitalism is having a very rough ride now. The credit
crunch, which led to the present global crisis, can be blamed squarely on
the greed, which has characterized the operations of the practitioners of
the ugly face of capitalism worldwide.
But for Zimbabwe, the success of any economic revival programme cannot
be premised on the Stone Age policies of Zanu PF, even if they are contained
in a short-term or long-term blueprint.
The presence as Minister of Finance of the down-to-earth of Tendai
Biti must provide most with the basis for the optimism to believe in a
future whose benchmark of success is as far away from Zanu PF's as the North
Pole is from the Equator.
As with everyone else who entered this inclusive government from the
opposition MDC, he must know that the pledge for real change made to the
voters more than a year ago now must be seen to be believed.
It must be clearly visible as the very antithesis of anything
conjured up by the fevered one-party imagination of the practitioner of Zanu
PF's disastrous benchmark of success.
BY BILL SAIDI
Saturday, 11 April 2009 16:12
IT is going to be an uphill task trying to convince the international
com-munity that Zimbabwe has abandoned its previous delinquent conduct if
the inclusive government co-ntinues to send conflicting signals.
The government is engaging Western cou-ntries and international donors
in the hope that they can broaden the humanitarian assistance to include
paying salaries for civil servants.
But for someone whose government is involved in these negotiations,
Pre-sident Robert Mugabe
made a surprising remark: He chose an ordinary session of Zanu PF's
central com-mittee last Wednesday to attack developing cou-ntries for
allowing the West to ride roughshod over them:
"We go to them with empty bowls to pay for our budgets, for them to
give us money for our workers, so when they call the tune then they must
sing the tune and their natural sovereignty is com-promised when you go on
your knees begging for their help."
What Mugabe dislikes about the West and the international donor
community is that they have asked the new administration to demon-strate its
commitment to and respect for human rights, and the restoration of the rule
of law as set out in the Global Political Agreement.
A fortnight ago, Prime Minister Morgan Tsva-ngirai said he was
determined to put an end to the new wave of farm invasions.
He said most of the ongoing disruptions of agricultural production
being carried out in the name of land reform were outright acts of theft
using fraudulent letters.
No sooner had Tsvangi-rai finished his admonition than Mugabe
responded, ordering the remaining commercial farmers to vacate their farms.
Half a dozen commer-cial farmers were arrested for "allegedly refusing
to vacate state-acquired land" - their properties, seized by the government.
A delegation of South African business people flew into the country
last week to explore investment opportunities. They could not have missed
the predicament of the commercial farmers.
Consequently, the busi-ness delegation expressed the need for a
relationship built on trust - one that benefits both parties.
It is significant that there were only expressions of interest and
intent and that no deals were sealed.
What will transpire in the ensuing months will confirm whether the
meeting in Harare gave the kind of reassurances the business delegation was
But there is a sobering reminder, lest we forget: Numerous travel
writers have been brought here and hosted by the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority.
The writers came, witnessed first hand for themselves despite efforts
to chaperone them, and went back. We still await the promised flood of
tourists from Spain, Japan, China, Iran and Europe, where the ZTA has
invested heavily in trying to promote the flow of tourists from these source
Zimbabwe might appear an attractive investment destination for South
Afri-can businesses, but business operates on a set of rules and guidelines
that ensure safeguards to investment.
Having the leadership in the inclusive government singing from
different hymn sheets does no good to the country's efforts to rally support
Many will conclude from the current lawlessness on the farms that the
Prime Minister's attempts to boost aid and investment are being deliberately
MDC Officials Falling Prey to 'gravy train syndrome'
Saturday, 11 April 2009 13:33
IT is not surprising that most Zimbabweans are assuming that the new
partners in the Zimbabwean government - that is, the two formations of the
MDC - have fallen prey to the "gravy train syndrome" that is so much a
feature of the political establishment of this country.
We understand the need for the MDC formations to show themselves
willing and to co-operate in creating a government that can haul us out of
the mess we are in. However, while we do not expect them to derail the
process by lack of co-operation, we do expect them to show as much
scepticism as possible regarding the intentions and the behaviour of their
Zanu PF colleagues.
The behaviour to date of the MDC ministers, deputy ministers, senators
and MPs (with one or two notable exceptions) has made us believe, sadly,
that they have sold their souls for some silver pieces: Mercedes Benz cars
in exchange for complicity in abuse and outrage; money for turning a blind
eye to what has been going on and still continues to go on; comfort zones in
exchange for silence on matters that concern us the most.
What we need from the MDC Prime Minister, deputy prime ministers,
ministers, deputy ministers, senators and MPs is an unshakeable dedication
to the elimination of the old order, an unwavering commitment to democracy
and freedom NOW and to the creation of a new order that removes the evil of
the past and replaces it with a genuinely changed economy, political
establishment and social order.
While there is a need to compromise in tactics (such as coming into
the government as partners of Zanu PF in the first place) there is a much
greater need to remain focused on the overall strategy of change - genuine
We do not want to see too much of a relaxation of the tension between
the parties of tomorrow and the party of yesterday and we certainly do not
want to hear the MDC describing the President as "comrade" - nor do we wish
to see press photographs of MDC people happily engaging with their Zanu PF
colleagues (for example, when being photographed with the President, they
should remain unsmiling).
While still genuinely co-operating in the process that is under way,
they need to retain dignity, objectivity and a focus on getting the old
order out and a new order in place. What is happening now is a means to an
end and not a final fulfillment of anything. Their role as partners of Zanu
PF is a reluctant one determined by acceptance that change can come about by
co-operation; they should not throw in the towel and pretend their partners
are different to what they were a few months ago.
We certainly do not want to hear of the Prime Minister or any other
MDC people castigating the West or other sceptical countries, organisations
and people for their continued belief that only when genuine change is
guaranteed then we can enjoy full and unqualified support for this country's
Yes, we want to see foreign aid and support but not at the expense of
the provision of democracy, freedom and a new country that offers us all
hope and the chance of a brighter future.
Some - indeed many - things are negotiable. Certain things are not -
the removal of the Governor of the Reserve Bank, Gideon Gono and other
dispensable faces from the era of destruction and terror among them. Don't
lose sight of what must be done - some things in the short term, others in
the medium term and still others longer term.
Memories may be short within the MDC formations. However, memories are
not short among the Zimbabwean people.
Optimistic but not myopic
nvestigate NSSA for Poor Service, Ripping off Contributors
Saturday, 11 April 2009 13:29
IT is high time that the National Social Security Authority (NSSA) is
taken to task. For years, employees and employers have each been paying 3%
of their salaries and wages.
There was a ceiling so that although we had to grin and bear the
situation, it was not hugely expensive.
Now it is 4% of gross salary, which is totally iniquitous, worsened by
the fact that this is payable in foreign currency.
In June 2000 my husband lost most of his left hand during an
industrial accident. He was granted a disability pension from NSSA. The
amount was so small that it was laughable and most of the time he did not
bother to collect it.
From December, it became unobtainable, the excuse being that because
all the zeros were dropped the amount became so tiny it had to be
recalculated. This is still happening. On March 30, 2009 my husband visited
NSSA and there was nothing to collect.
After three months if the pension is not collected it reverts back to
NSSA and application has to be made through their offices for payment. I
wonder how many spend the time and trouble to do this? A lot of effort for
such little, if any reward.
Surely they cannot be allowed to increase contributions in this
manner? It would also be interesting to know if and when they were last
audited. They were pushing for all of us to pay into a medical scheme: thank
goodness this never came to fruition as we would have been ripped off even
Urgent Need to Reform Selection of National Heroes
Saturday, 11 April 2009 13:29
RECENT calls by the MDC for an inclusive national policy with clearly
defined conditions to determine who qualifies to be or not to be a national
hero are reasonable and sensible.
What makes me sad, however, is the fact that such calls have been
misinterpreted and misunderstood by people like Campion Mereki whose
sympathies apparently lie with the former ruling party Zanu PF.
He wrote that "definition of a hero cannot be changed". But, who has
asked for change in the definition of a hero? Mereki attempts, but
unsuccessfully so, to use a convenient definition of a hero.
According to the narrow and shallow definition that he used, a hero
simply refers to one who has suffered or died for his country or one who has
risked his life for the love of his country.
The problem with this definition is that it only recognizes heroes in
the political field. This is the reason why the MDC has called for reform in
relation to the selection of national heroes.
Their argument is that Zanu PF represents a tiny percentage of the
population to such an extent that it lacks the proper credentials to speak
for the people when choosing national heroes.
Nelson Chamisa has been very clear on the matter, when he said: "The
conferment of hero status cannot be the exclusive preserve of one political
party. Certainly neither the MDC national executive nor Zanu PF politburo
has any unilateral right to determine who is a hero and who is not".
It is from this stand point that reform in the selection of national
heroes is not an option but a functional prerequisite. This has to be
especially when taking cognizance of the fact that our country, has not only
produced " greats" in the political field but has also had the very best of
minds in fields such as sport, music, arts in general and even in business.
For this reason, a hero can be understood to mean a man of superhuman
qualities favoured by the gods or an illustrious warrior, one who has fought
for his country. A hero is also a man/woman admired for achievements and
noble qualities. It is this sort of understanding that is clearly deficient
in Mereki's argument.
Villains have been buried at the national shrine just because they
happened to be card-carrying members of Zanu PF. There is, therefore, an
urgent need for reform in our understanding of what makes one a national
By reform we mean making a person, institution, procedure, conduct
become better by removal or abandonment of imperfections, faults, or errors.
As Daniel Webster puts it: "Necessity compels me to speak true rather
than pleasing things . . . I should indeed like to please you: but I prefer
to save you, whatever be your attitude toward me." I put it to you dear
Zimbabweans and I rest my case.
Chinamasa and Prisons Fiasco
Saturday, 11 April 2009 13:24
THE government was terribly embarrassed by the SABC documentary on the
deplorable prison conditions.
But even more embarrassing was the performance of Justice and Legal
Affairs Minister, Patrick Chinamasa who, a week earlier admitted all was not
well in the prisons. Then, he denied the pictures shown were of Zimbabwean
prisons. At almost the same time we had prison officers being arrested for
allegedly colluding with the SABC invetigative team.
And then, finally the same Chinamasa says government will now give
priority to improving conditions in the prisons. Chinamasa, from the old
Zanu PF regime which thrived on violence and propaganda may be facing
challenges to adjust to the new era of transparency.
Police in new Terror Campaign
Saturday, 11 April 2009 13:24
THE emergence of a new dispensation in the form of the inclusive
government has brought another form of political violence, which I can
describe as well-managed but "less alarming".
I believe that there is a big hand from one of the political
parties co-sharing the Ministry of Home Affairs because suddenly the police
have embarked on a campaign of harassing, beating up and generally
humiliating people in the high-density areas of Waterfalls and Glen Norah.
There are gross human rights violations being perpetrated and we
just don't understand why we are being treated in such a manner. Residents
are being asked to roll in the mud and one of the police officers shouted at
us: "There is a curfew!"
At the same time a police neighbourhood watch group from
Waterfalls Police Station is conducting an operation dubbed "Operation Mumba
naFive", which means that residents in the area are supposed to be home by
5pm everyday, without freedom of movement, no peace, no dignity, no justice
but only fear and harassment after that time.
Could the Ministry/authorities responsible intervene and come to
the assistance of the abused residents?
SMS The Standard
Saturday, 11 April 2009 13:36
Govt must act
WHY is the government letting councils rip off ratepayers? The
rates that most councils are charging are just outrageous and they are just
not sustainable, especially when it is recalled that we are talking about
foreign currency and not local currency. Is this what is happening in South
Africa, whose currency we have adopted? The government needs to act to stop
this madness because it is daylight robbery. This also just goes to show
that not much thought was applied in arriving at the rates and that is
really sad because Zimbabwe needs better thinkers as it embarks on the road
to recovery. We cannot afford guess work. Councils need to have people who
can provide leadership in the area of revenue generation and not relying on
punitive rates. Just as the government has intervened in the matter of
electricity tariffs and must soon with vehicle registration plates and
passport fees, it needs to knock some sense into councils that have no idea
about establishing income-generating projects and want to depend on
ratepayers to fund their resuscitation. - Muchesa Chatsama, Chipinge.
Company fees up
FEES for company registration have gone up to US$700 for anyone
wishing to register a new company, US$100 to process a CR14, CR2 or CR6 at
the Registrar of Companies. What has happened to empowerment? At a time when
small businesses are looking to formalise their operations are we not
discouraging them, Minister Patrick Chinamasa? - Simangaliso Newman, Harare.
WOULD it not have been reasonable for Prime Minister Morgan
Tsvangirai to delay the expensive three-day weekend Cabinet retreat at the
Victoria Falls until the issue of the appointment of a new Governor of the
Reserve Bank, Attorney-General, provincial governors, permanent secretaries
and ambassadors had been resolved? How many civil servants would have been
paid from the retreat's budget? Has the Prime Minister forgotten or was the
idea of a party just too irresistible, even though most people have to do
without because they cannot afford it? The Prime Minister and his ministers
and party need to be very careful that they are not seen to behave and
conduct themselves in much the same way Zanu PF. -Dubious retreat
Evidence of neglect
I have just finished reading Gideon Gono's book, Zimbabwe's
Casino Economy, Extraordinary Measures for Extraordinary Challenges. I found
it very interesting, especially the fact that Gono found time to write the
book while the economy was in free fall. The job he was meant to do was to
find solutions to the economy and not writing a book, something which is
normally done at the end of one's tenure, when one reflects on the
challenges faced while in office. It just goes to show how vain he is and
that he is someone who craves publicity. The book also proves that the
position he holds is too big for him as he himself shows that he was just a
spectator in the affairs of the economy. The facts that he highlights in the
book were common knowledge to the ordinary man in the streets. To be
precise, the common man in the street seems to be more informed than Gono. A
good doctor first finds the causes of an illness before prescribing
treatment. Gono seems not to know what caused the economic meltdown.
Instead, he has been removing the good organs in the hope of finding a cure.
If Gono had gone back to the 1999 when the economy started to collapse with
the fall of the Zimbabwe dollar and blackout, he would have realised that
there was one single event that shook the confidence of the financial
institutions just like when Trevor Manuels offered his resignation letter. -
Nothing extraordinary, Harare.
IF Zimbabwe is serious about reviving the tourism sector, then
it's time to face reality. The standards of the country's tourist facilities
have seriously deteriorated. The local media hype about how the inclusive
government is going to turn around the tourism sector is just wishful
thinking. At the end of the day we are just fooling ourselves. It's
tantamount to putting a cart before the horse. The cart will not move. One
just has to visit some of the erstwhile upmarket hotels to see my point. The
hotels now resemble beer halls, with all sorts of undesirable characters
being permanent fixtures in these establishments. The same can be said about
the upmarket night clubs where the clientele is the same. The only
difference is that these clubs go a step further by advertising that they
sell cheap beer, which at the end of the day beats the purpose of these
clubs. As for our sporting facilities and camping sites, all I can say is
that they are in a sorry state of disrepair. The police have a role to play
in reviving the tourism sector. There is need for the uniformed police to be
visible in the central business district and public places such as shopping
centres and bus terminuses in order to give tourists a sense of security.
The police will also need to crack down on public drinking as we do not wish
to portray an image of Zimbabweans as alcoholics, who generally become a
nuisance when they are drunk. Let's put our house in order before we invite
visitors. We can do this by maintaining high standards. - Not yet, Harare.
We are not fooled
ONE of the medical societies has of late embarked on a
nation-wide campaign to convince the public that they are the best. They
must take the public for dim wits. We are all aware of how their schemes
were rendered useless and those of us who had spent years contributing to
such schemes suddenly found ourselves unable to get any treatment, even
prescriptions. This was despite the fact that our contributions should have
been invested wisely using instruments that safeguarded the value of our
contributions. In short, there was no thought given to members contributing
to medical aid societies and it will require a survey, possibly a
dissertation by students, on the impact of withdrawal or non-availability of
medical aid schemes to contributing members and their effect - in terms of
lives lost and how this worsened conditions because members could not enjoy
facilities they had contributed to for years. I would expect civil society
groups, especially those working in the area of health and human rights,
such as the Community Working Group on Health, Doctors for Human Rights and
Médecins Sans Frontières, to help shoot down myths peddled by such medical
societies. Just where is the money for the expensive advertising campaigns
coming from when all along we were told the societies had no money? Let's be
the change we want to be. - Once bitten, Harare.
Donald Trelford exposed Robert Mugabe's murderous methods 25 years ago, but
couldn't persuade Whitehall to intervene
Sunday, 12 April 2009
The baby was already dead, but the crowd weren't to know that. They gasped
in horror as the soldier held it aloft and declared: "This is what will
happen to your babies if you hide dissidents." Then he dropped the tiny
corpse in the dust. That was Brigadier Phiri, known as Black Jesus,
notorious head of the North Korean-trained Fifth Brigade of the Zimbabwe
Army, whose mission was to "cleanse" Matabeleland of dissidents.
There were no dangerous dissidents left, as his soldiers well knew, since
the civil war had ended some years before. The myth provided them with an
excuse to beat and torture villagers for refusing to reveal the whereabouts
of the so-called insurgents. But, in reality, it was to intimidate and
subdue the Ndebele tribe for supporting Joshua Nkomo, who had been Robert
Mugabe's opponent at the general election before independence in 1980, four
years previously. In 1987, after up to 400,000 of his people had been
murdered in the pogrom that became known as the Gukurahundi ("the wind that
blows away the chaff after harvest"), Nkomo gave in and merged his party
with Mugabe's Zanu-PF.
It was 25 years ago this month that I stumbled on the first direct evidence
that Mugabe was a monster who would destroy his own people to preserve his
hold on power. It seems extraordinary that it took nearly a quarter of a
century for the world to catch on.
I had gone to Zimbabwe to interview him on the fourth anniversary of
independence. The interview itself was disastrously dull. He was implacable
and uncommunicative. When I asked him if he would seek a political solution
in Matabeleland, where a curfew had been in force for several months, he
repeated a well-rehearsed mantra: "The political solution was the general
election. They should have accepted defeat. The solution now is military."
When I returned, disappointed, to my hotel in Harare, I found some Africans
waiting for me near the reception desk - they knew I was in the country
because I had appeared on ZTV. They were nervous, looking over their
"Terrible things are happening in Matabeleland," one of them whispered. "You
must go to Bulawayo, to the Hilton Hotel. We will contact you." Then they
I flew to Bulawayo, hired a car and drove around the apparently peaceful
countryside. Matabeleland is cattle country: cows stood on the dry river
bed; old men scratched the earth with hoes; goats, donkeys, marmosets, even
a kudu bull, dashed across the road. Then I came to a series of road-blocks.
I flannelled my way past a couple of them, then reached a no-go area, where
my path was blocked by a truck-load of troops with rocket-propelled grenades
on their AK-47 rifles. No journalists had been inside the curfew area since
the emergency had been imposed 10 weeks before, though reports had trickled
out that Mugabe's Shona troops were taking tribal revenge on the Ndebele.
Back at the hotel, I waited in my room until I heard a light tap on the door
and a piece of paper was pushed under it. At midnight I was to go down to
the hotel car park, where a van would flash its lights. I climbed into the
van and off we went on a nightmarish nocturnal journey I shall never forget.
Looking back, it amazes me that I wasn't more apprehensive: my companions
were all strangers and nobody else knew where I had gone. The plan was to
drive me down back routes into the curfew area to avoid the roadblocks. This
seemed to be going well until we were halted by a policeman. It turned out
that he just wanted a lift home, so he sat in the front while I hid in the
back. Eventually we reached a crossroads, where we waited for ages until a
car arrived and I got in. I was taken to a Catholic mission, where victims
of Mugabe's purge had found refuge.
I was shown raw wounds from bayonets and electric torture, and women told me
(interpreted by one of the priests) how they had been beaten and their
husbands tortured and in some cases murdered; the bodies had been thrown
I was taken to the site of a mass grave, said to contain 16 bodies. A man
called Jason told me how he had hidden while the soldiers collected men from
the fields or their huts and then marched them through villages until they
were stopped and forced to dig a large hole, where they were shot dead as
they stood in it. I went on to another mission, where many more victims
described their experiences in graphic and sickening detail, including a
woman whose two small children had been shot while running away.
Worse, much worse, was to happen in terms of rape, torture and intimidation
over the next two decades, but the bulk of the killings were to happen in
the next two years.
I flew back to Harare, where I told two people what I had seen. One was a
military attaché at the British High Commission, who said they had feared as
much but had been warned by the Foreign Office to stay out of it. The other
was an old Afrikaner, who said: "Donald, you have discovered an eternal
truth about Africa. You stuff them and then they stuff you. For decades the
whites stuffed the blacks and now it's their turn. The Ndebele stuffed the
Shona: now the Shona stuff them."
I published the story in The Observer, of which I was then the editor, and
it attracted wide publicity - but not for the right reasons. I had hoped to
alert the world to Mugabe's atrocities.
In the event, my scoop was sidetracked by a fight I then had with the
newspaper's chairman, Tiny Rowland, whose company, Lonrho, had extensive
business interests in Zimbabwe and who had an uneasy personal relationship
with Mugabe because he had supported Nkomo.
I can see now that Rowland had to distance himself from the story for
commercial reasons, though his methods seemed a bit extreme. I awoke on the
Sunday morning to hear the main headline on the BBC news: a statement from
Mugabe saying he had received an apology from Rowland, who had decided to
sack me as "an incompetent reporter".
Then all hell broke loose, with newspapers and television cameras camped
outside my door, and the battle raged on for weeks in a Fleet Street soap
opera - "the most entertaining hullabaloo", as one paper put it, "since
Rupert Murdoch fell out with Harry Evans." I survived, thanks to the support
of The Observer's independent directors and journalists (though the latter's
loyalty wobbled a bit when Rowland threatened to sell the paper to Robert
After Lonrho started cutting off our money supply, I offered my resignation
to save further damage to the paper. This was the signal Rowland needed to
climb down and we patched things up awkwardly over lunch in the incongruous
setting of a casino he owned in Park Lane, served by long-legged beauties in
fishnet tights. We concocted a ludicrous press release in which we said we
had affection for three things: we loved Africa, we loved The Observer, and
we loved each other.
Looking back, I regret that my personal battle with Rowland should have
overshadowed such an important story. I had been the first external witness
of the Gukurahundi. Mugabe escaped the opprobrium he deserved. It took
another 18 years before Zimbabwe was expelled from the Commonwealth. Even
now Mugabe seems immune to outside pressure. At the time the Foreign Office
played down my story as "exaggerated". The British High Commissioner
admitted later that he had been ordered "to steer clear of it" and at all
costs to avoid offending Mugabe.
We should not be surprised, for British indifference to the plight of the
Africans in Southern Rhodesia, and later Zimbabwe, goes back more than a
century. Cecil Rhodes's company stole land and cattle from them without
compensation - actions later sanctioned by the British government. In the
1950s, Britain set up the Central African Federation, including Northern
Rhodesia (Zambia) and Nyasaland (Malawi), and allowed it to rule on a racist
agenda ("the partnership of the rider and the horse", to quote its prime
minister, Sir Roy Welensky).
We did nothing to prevent Ian Smith declaring unilateral independence in
1965, when we had the power to do so - I was there at the time and wrote a
report, which I later heard had gone to a cabinet committee chaired by the
Foreign Secretary, showing how we could end the rebellion.
My plan was rejected as too risky. The real reason, I suspect, was that
Harold Wilson feared he couldn't send troops to Rhodesia without also
helping out the Americans in Vietnam. Britain's paralysis ushered in 15
years of civil war that wrecked the country and brought Mugabe to power.
By 1980, Britain was glad to be shot of the problem and looked the other way
while he nationalised the press, murdered his opponents and subverted the
We cannot dissociate ourselves from the resulting disaster: a country with
the world's biggest inflation rate and fastest sinking economy, riddled with
Aids and cholera, where a quarter of the population have fled the country,
including 90 per cent of its graduates and most of its doctors and nurses,
where only one in 10 has a job and 75 per cent go hungry in what was once
the second-richest country in Africa.
Rebuilding Zimbabwe after Mugabe will be a monumental task: restoring the
rule of law, the economy, democratic institutions, a free media, an
independent judiciary and protection for human rights.
Britain has such a huge historic responsibility for the country's plight
that we ought to make it our duty to lead this reconstruction. On second
thoughts, however, we have made such a shameful mess of its past that it
might be better if we kept away.
April 11, 2009 | By Philip Mangena | © zimbabwemetro.com ⋅ Email This | ⋅
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Former ZANU PF cabinet ministers and members of the Joint Operations Command
of security agency chiefs are said to have joined forces in a shadowy group
calling itself the Social Revolutionary Council designed to frustrate the
aims of Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai,according to well placed sources.
The group is led by Defence Minister Emmerson Mnangagwa as Chairman, State
Security Minister Didymus Mutasa as its Secretary, and Reserve Bank of
Zimbabwe Governor Gideon Gono as Treasurer and members are the commanders of
the army and air force.
The Joint Operations Command, commonly referred to as the JOC coordinated
the deadly wave of political violence that preceded the presidential runoff
ballot on June 27. Mr. Tsvangirai withdrew from that runoff in protest of
the violence against his supporters.
The Social Revolutionary Council is said to be behind the recent wave of
invasions of white-owned commercial farms and the continued detention and
harassment of officials and activists of Tsvangirai’s Movement for
Confirming there remain divisions within the unity government, President
Mugabe this week said farm takeovers should continue, adding that elections
could be held in two years.
Government and political sources said the members of the group lobbied Mr.
Mugabe not to swear deputy agriculture minister-designate Roy Bennett into
Sources in the MDC say Reserve Bank Governor Gono tried to influence Members
of Parliament from the majority party by offering them luxury vehicles. They
said Tsvangirai Thursday ordered MDC MPs not to accept such vehicles
following an incident in which MPs booed Deputy Prime Minister Thokozani
Khupe when she urged them to turn down Gono’s offer.
April 11, 2009
By Albert Mazhale
Beit-Bridge - Three prison wardens who were acquitted on charges of
contravening sections of the Official Secrets Act have lost their jobs while
two of them have had fresh charges brought against them. Thabiso Nyathi,
Bhekinkosi Nkomo and Siyanai Muchechesi have been dismissed from the Prison
Service following allegations that they helped an SABC 3 television crew to
obtain video footage on Zimbabwe's dire prison situation.
The three were arrested a fortnight ago following the screening of "Hell
Hole" an SABC 3 Special Assignments documentary which exposed the appalling
state of the country's prisons.
Bhekinkosi Nkomo has been hauled before the courts on new charges of
allegedly possessing counterfeit R100 notes and pornographic material.
Detectives who were investigating the initial case concerning the Official
Secrets Act breach apparently searched Nkomo's house and allegedly found
two fake R100 notes and a pornographic publication.
Muchechesi meanwhile faces charges of allegedly contravening sections of the
Customs and Excise Act (Smuggling).
He allegedly imported a Toyota Corolla sedan from South Africa and failed to
pay customs duty or return the car to the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority after
the expiration of the Temporary Import Permit (TIP).
Siyanai Muchechesi is out of custody on US$20 bail and will appear in court
on the April 28.
Meanwhile at least 20 prisoners have been released by the Bulawayo courts on
A majority of the released prisoners were those suffering from pellagra - a
disease caused by lack of Vitamin B3.
Friday, 10 April 2009
HARARE - Zimbabwe's cholera outbreak has spread to the country's
prisons, with the World Health Organisation saying the epidemic is spreading
like wild fire at Kadoma prison.
Several cholera cases were recorded at the prison between March 22 and
28, according to a WHO report released last week.
Kadoma is one of the few areas still reporting increased cholera cases
at a time when the disease is showing signs of easing across the country.
Other affected areas in Kadoma district included Rimuka high-density
suburb, Patchway Mine and Mayflower, according to the WHO.
Harare and its dormitory town of Chitungwiza remained the worst
affected towns, accounting for the bulk of all the new cases being reported.
Harare's high-density suburbs of Mbare, Budiriro, Glen View,
Highfield, Waterfalls, Glen Norah and Kuwadzana were the seven most affected
areas, with Mbare accounting for more than 30 percent of the cases in the
Reports of an impending cholera explosion in prisons came about a week
after a documentary by the South African Broadcasting Corporation exposed
the horrific conditions under which Zimbabwean prisoners live.
Hundreds of prisoners are said to be dying due to lack of food and
proper care by prison wardens.
The reports also came less than a week after the head of British
charity Oxfam warned of a fresh cholera epidemic given that Zimbabwe's water
and sewage systems are yet to be repaired.
Oxfam Great Britain chief executive Barbara Stocking said during a
visit to Zimbabwe last Monday another outbreak was likely before the end of
2009 unless urgent action was taken to revive the country's collapsed water
"We have to expect a cholera epidemic and outbreak to happen again at
the end of this year given that the water and sewage system is not working
well," she said during a tour of a cholera treatment centre in Harare's
The cholera outbreak killed more than 4 100 people and infected nearly
95 000 others in Zimbabwe since last August.
BY NEVER CHANDA
April 11 2009 at 09:10AM
By Peta Thornycroft
David Coltart, Zimbabwe's new minister of education, is becoming a
touch irritated at the publicity he has received after he chose not to
accept a Mercedes-Benz as part of the trappings of his lowly paid job as a
"The Benz is rather tiresome, one of those issues that makes a good
story but which has the potential to drive a wedge between me and my
colleagues," he said on Friday.
When he first refused the Benz he said in more light-hearted vein
that, if he had accepted it, he would have been too embarrassed to visit his
friend, Paul Themba Nyathi, founding member of the MDC.
He and Nyathi made a pact that neither, if called to high office,
would ever accept this widely perceived symbol of Zanu-PF disregard for the
plight of the man on the street.
"I have a very nice Nissan 4x4, which may be cheaper to run but that
also cost a lot of money which could have been better spent.
'My decision was not only because of my Nyathi pact but also because
it is much better suited for visiting rural schools.
"Can't you please instead report the means test for school fees rather
than the Benz? Please.
"All parents who cannot pay fees can now apply to school heads for
relief by completing a means test which requires them to declare income and
"School heads with assessment committees are now given authority to
waive fees either in full or in part. Its implementation has been delayed
either because of logistical problems or deliberate obstruction within
ministry but it is now being applied.
"I am more depressed by the process (inclusive government) than I have
been for some time. It it is so much harder to stomach knowing the utter
chaos that prevails in every sector. I visited schools in Bulawayo this week
and they are in a shocking, shocking state.
"The cunning of those seeking to undermine some of what I and others
are trying to do is also staggering considering that it affects Zimbabwe
children. I am desperately looking for money for textbooks this week."
Coltart, like all MDC members in cabinet, tries to temper his public
language in the spirit of the political agreement.
The MDC persists in doing so, despite multiple breaches of the
agreement by shrinking numbers of Zanu-PF hardliners, as it begins to
stabilise some of the worst of the chaos.
"The inclusive government in Zimbabwe is not yet about power-sharing,
it is still about the struggle for power", a Western diplomat said this
week, admitting that he was also "delighted" that his cynicism about the
unity government was being chipped away.
Another Western diplomat said: "It is still extremely risky, but at
least there is a chance, and we are happy to have been proved wrong."
If all cabinet ministers are paid the same as Coltart, then the Benz
issue is irrelevant anyway.
He earned less than R1 000 in February, less than R3 000 in March and
had to give up his partnership in a struggling Bulawayo law firm to go into
Others must be in the same position, including Zanu-PF ministers,
unless there are secret sponsors and slush funds.
All MDC members now in the cabinet who went into existing portfolios
are shocked to discover the depth of disintegration.
There is almost nothing left in the social services ministries which
the MDC has taken on.
When prime minister Robert Mugabe won power in 1980, despite the
bitter war, the education infrastructure was there and it was good. It only
needed massive expansion to accommodate all children, not just all white
Same with health care.
This time, after another kind of war, there is almost nothing left for
In 2003 the World Bank estimated it would take 15 years to get
Zimbabwe back to its 1997 state and it had already started to decline then.
The ongoing attacks against key white commercial farmers is
understated by South African diplomats.
The line is that there are no new land invasions. That all the
disturbances at present are about land already gazetted for acquisition.
That is true.
Also true is that the constitution says that the owners of more than 4
000 farming businesses taken by the state since 2000 have to be paid
compensation, now estimated at R30-billion.
"The MDC seem unable or unwilling to stop what is happening to us,"
said one farmer in despair this week.
"Some of us are too tired to go on. Tens of thousands of farm workers
will be forced out of work. Tens of thousands of US dollars of tobacco was
destroyed by thugs in the last couple of weeks. So what is the point?"
The multi-party Joint Monitoring and Implementation Committee , JOMIC,
mediating violations of the political agreement upon which the unity
government is formed, has managed to get all but three detainees released on
There is no reconstruction yet. That is a long way off. This period is
about stabilisation economists say.
Hyper-inflation disappeared when people abandoned the Zimbabwe dollar
and central bank governor Gideon Gono had to allow US dollars and the rand
to become the currency.
Many children have returned to their derelict schools, and Western aid
through the ongoing cholera epidemic brought some stability to the health
The West is now able to feed at least half the population without
There are many fewer political arrests, except for the farmers, and
the state media is less poisonous than before the unity government.
Most of the political violence has gone.
Finance minister Tendai Biti has clipped the wings of Reserve Bank
governor Gideon Gono and a process to write a new constitution is beginning.
"It's about perception" an MDC official said about taking the Benz.
"It looks bad to the man in the street."
This article was originally published on page 12 of Saturday Argus on
April 11, 2009
April 11, 2009
HARARE (Business Report) - Two months after getting the official go-ahead to
transact freely in foreign currencies, Zimbabweans are seeing previously
empty shelves filling up with goods - and prices falling as retailers
compete for market share.
Sean Gammon, the managing director of Imara Capital in Harare, said local
stores were as well stocked as any in Gauteng. John Robertson, an economist
based in Harare, said figures from the Central Statistical Office showed
that prices had fallen for two consecutive months: by 2.34 percent in
January compared with December, and 3.1 percent month on month in February.
Gammon cited an example of falling prices. "Late last year, a can of
imported beer cost about US$1.50 (R14 at yesterday's exchange rate) in the
supermarket. Now it's going for about 80 US cents. And local beer is even
cheaper at about 65c."
It is not possible to calculate annual inflation because last year, prices
of goods and services were denominated in the now defunct Zimbabwe dollar.
The official figure showed year-on-year inflation at more than 230 million
percent in July, which was the latest available figure under the old order.
In previous years, President Robert Mugabe's government made good on
shortfalls by issuing more money until the notes were no longer worth the
paper they were printed on. The government's present inability to print
money has effectively reduced the country's monetary base, immediately
putting a cap on price rises.
Inflation, which was generally thought to be even higher than the official
rate, followed many years of falling output after the government imposed
price controls that made it uneconomical to produce. But a new coalition
government in February brought changes.
Robertson said price controls were lifted that month and the use of foreign
currency became "universal and unconditional", after several months in which
the government allowed foreign currency on a limited basis.
The scrapping of price controls and legalising of multiple currencies
transformed the situation. But Robertson said the pool of shoppers with
access to foreign currency was limited, so retailers had to cut prices to
move goods off shelves.
In February Finance Minister Tendai Biti announced a minimum monthly payment
of a US$100 voucher to civil servants, police and the army. Many residents
are assisted by flows from abroad. But banks hold only the worthless
Zimbabwe currency, according to Robertson, because they cannot access other
At the end of January the official exchange rate for US$1 was Z$7.6 billion.
That was after 10 zeroes were slashed from the Zimbabwe dollar last August.
Robertson said prices could fall further because the limited supply of
dollars made it impossible for householders to pay the going rate for
services from public utilities. The utilities had responded by allowing
householders to pay "a token amount to avoid being disconnected".
New prices would be announced next week. He predicted they would be lower,
reducing the average householder's bill from about US$100 a month to between
US$15 and US$30. But he said this did not represent deflation, because
producers' costs were not falling.
Friday, 10 April 2009
HARARE - The World Food Programme (WFP) has slashed its food handouts
to hungry Zimbabweans in April by a staggering 85 percent as the
resource-strapped United Nations agency down-sizes operations in the
southern African country.
"In April 2009, WFP plans to distribute 6 759 metric tonnes in urban
and peri-urban areas under the SN (Safety Net) activities which includes
cholera patients, staff and caretakers," WFP said.
In March, the UN agency assisted 5.2 million beneficiaries with nearly
45 000 tonnes of food, including 4.6 million under vulnerable group feeding
and 629 000 under safety net programmes.
This translates to an 84.9 percent reduction in WFP assistance to
Relief agencies say as many as seven million Zimbabweans or more than
half the country's 12-million-plus population.
Many households survived on one meal a day or, in rural areas, by
eating wild fruit.
To extend food stocks, the WFP reduced daily rations in December 2008
following a poor response to its humanitarian appeal.
The WFP said last month it was shifting its focus from food assistance
to support for Zimbabwean farmers with a view to improving household food
BY NEVER CHANDA
Friday, 10 April 2009
HARARE - A team from the African Development Bank (AfDB) is in
Zimbabwe for consultations with the new coalition government over the
country's economic programme but AfDB Donald Kaberuka said it was too early
to speak of resumption of aid.
The AfDB delegation had been in Zimbabwe for the past two weeks during
which it met government officials and business leaders.
Speaking from London last week, Kaberuka said while Zimbabwe's Finance
Minister Tendai Biti was making commendable progress in arresting the
country's economic decline, the coalition government in Harare has to ensure
that the letter and spirit of a power-sharing agreement signed last
September is respected by parties in the unity regime.
Former Zimbabwean foes - President Robert Mugabe and Prime Minister
Morgan Tsvangirai - agreed to form a unity government in February after more
than five months of haggling over control of cabinet portfolios.
"The international community is at one on Zimbabwe... the political
agreement that was signed is the best they could get, we are agreed. What we
are saying is get it working. and then the international community will come
in," the AfDB chief said.
He added: "What we have to decide in the international community is at
what point we come in."
The visit to Zimbabwe by the AfDB team follows similar missions three
weeks ago by delegations from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and
The IMF has also said it would not immediately resume economic aid to
Zimbabwe until the southern African country clears arrears to the Bretton
Woods institution amounting to more than US$135 million at the end of
Britain and the United States, the two largest shareholders at the IMF
and World Bank, have also ruled out the immediate lifting of travel bans and
asset freezes imposed on Mugabe and about 200 of his officials.
The Southern African Development Community (SADC) agreed last month to
help Zimbabwe raise $8.3 billion from international donors to repair its
The 14-nation group said at a summit in Swaziland on March 30 that
member countries would also contribute to the proposed aid package, with
regional economic powerhouse South Africa immediately pledging R300 million
(about US$30 million) to kick-start the effort.
The R300 million pledge from South Africa would be budgetary support
for Zimbabwe to be released in tranches of R100 million.
South Africa is also understood to have pledged another R500 million
line of credit for Zimbabwean firms.
Zimbabwe, whose economy was battered by years of ruinous economic
policies and corruption, is seeking massive capital injections from donors.
SADC brokered the power-sharing agreement between Mugabe and the then
opposition and pledged to mobilise economic support for the country as part
of the deal.
Together with the African Union, the group also agreed to act as
co-guarantor of the power-sharing arrangement.
At the Swaziland summit, SADC agreed to approach international donors
for aid on Zimbabwe's behalf seeking aid, and a lifting of sanctions some of
them had imposed on the country over human rights concerns.
Some donors have began warming up to Zimbabwe again after the
coalition government was formed, with Australia, Denmark and Sweden being
the first ones to resume aid to the country.
BY NEVER CHANDA
By JOSEPH NGUNJIRI Posted Saturday, April 11 2009 at 19:27
When I received an invitation to attend the Nguva Yedu Youth Arts Festival
in Harare, Zimbabwe, the first thing my hosts warned me was not to tell
immigration officials at Harare International Airport that I was a
President Robert Mugabe's government is known to harass foreign journalists
and even prevent them from entering the country, they said. I knew then that
I had a problem as my profession is clearly written on my passport.
I knew, too, that I was in trouble when the immigration officer raised her
eyebrows after looking at my passport. She asked me what mission had brought
me to Zimbabwe, before turning to her male colleague for consultation.
Luckily, I had carried the letter inviting me to the festival, so I was let
in and asked to enjoy my stay in Zimbabwe.
When I reached my destination, the Book Café, Steve Khoza, Pamberi Trust's
financial director, was horrified to learn that I had told the immigration
officers that I was a journalist. He told me stories of how foreign
journalists were ordered to pay $10,000 (Sh800,000) to get into Zimbabwe.
On the 15-minute ride from the airport to downtown Harare, there was little
traffic and few people about. This was also the case when we got to the city
centre. I was dying to lay my hands on the infamous Zimbabwe dollars. When
it became clear that there were none in sight, curiosity got the better of
me, and I asked my hosts where I could find the Zim dollars.
My question was met with knowing smiles and giggles. "When we get back to
town I'll give you more Zim dollars than you will ever need," offered Novell
Zwangendaba, a fashion designer. We were in a small village called Kufunda,
a drive of about 30 minutes from the city centre.
On our way there I had noticed how well-planned the residential areas were.
The same cannot be said of the Nairobi suburbs, which are saddled with
unplanned structures that make them such an unpleasant sight. The
Zimbabweans were keen to know how the coalition government in Kenya was
doing. Their unity government had been in place for just a month. I expected
them to be angry and bitter, but I encountered cheerful and friendly people.
"Why should I bother with Mugabe and politics," said 23-year-old poet Linda
Gabriel. "I am more concerned with staying alive and earning a living to
keep my family going."
After two days at Kufunda, we returned to the Book Café where the second
part of the festival was to take place. I was engrossed in the raging
debates on the way forward for Zimbabwe's youth when Mr Zwangendaba offered
to buy me a drink.
He then proceeded to remove from his wallet a bundle of notes, which he
placed in my hands. Among the many notes was a 10 trillion dollar note. Of
course, they were all useless.
And what do Zimbabweans think of their president? I asked as many people as
possible, but the answer I got from Ish was just the winner.
"Mugabe is the greatest contradiction about Zimbabwe," he said. "He rants
and raves against the West, but in reality, he is just desperate to be
accepted by the West."