Monsters and Critics
Apr 13, 2007, 9:07 GMT
Johannesburg/Harare - Zimbabwe police have said that a prayer meeting
planned for the second city of Bulawayo Saturday is illegal and they will
respond accordingly, reports said Friday.
The Save Zimbabwe Campaign, which unites churches, opposition, civic and
labour groups, is due to hold a prayer meeting at St Patricks Roman Catholic
Church Saturday, more than a month after a prayer rally in Harare was banned
and opposition leaders trying to attend beaten.
Police were quoted as saying Friday that the meeting was illegal as the
group had not obtained permission from the police four days ahead of the
meeting, as required under stringent security laws.
'I am not aware of any earlier notification of the four days clear notice -
and if they don't follow the law, then the gathering is illegal,' police
spokesman Wayne Bvudzijena told the state-controlled Herald newspaper.
The national coordinator of the church-led coaltion was not immediately
available for comment. But church groups contend that the security laws do
not prohibit religious gatherings.
Unconfirmed reports Friday said two Bulawayo-based pastors had already been
called in for questioning by police in connection with the meeting.
Police spokesman Bvudzijena reportedly told the Herald that the Save
Zimbabwe Campaign was a political gathering and not a prayer meeting.
A similar gathering in Harare on March 11 was violently broken up by police.
Dozens of opposition activists were arrested and brutally assaulted in
Opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai, who received a serious head injury at
that meeting, told a press conference on Thursday that 600 activists from
his Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party had been abducted and
tortured by police in the past three months.
Saturday's planned prayer meeting is expected to be addressed by the Roman
Catholic Archbishop of Bulawayo, Pius Ncube, an outspoken critic of
President Robert Mugabe's government.
The Herald accused US ambassador Christopher Dell of helping to organize the
meeting, because Dell was worried that the Zimbabwean story was dying down
when the US was of the impression that pressure should be intensified
© 2007 dpa - Deutsche Presse-Agentur
April 13 2007 at 10:11AM
Harare - Cash-strapped Zimbabwe will need to find scarce foreign
currency to import food from "anywhere we can," following poor harvests in
all of the country's agricultural provinces, a cabinet minister was quoted
as saying on Friday.
The deficit is quite large but we are going to import maize to
supplement what we have, Agriculture Minister Rugare Gumbo told the
state-controlled Herald newspaper.
"We will get maize from anywhere we can and this means that we will
have to look for foreign currency to meet the food requirements," he added.
President Robert Mugabe's government has declared 2007 a drought year.
Initial projections are that the southern African country will struggle to
harvest 600 000 tonnes of maize, or a third of its annual requirement.
Zambia, usually a reliable maize supplier to Zimbabwe, indicated last
month it may not be able to continue exporting because part of its crop was
a write-off after floods. Reports this week said Malawi may step in to fill
Mugabe's government blames the country's crop failures squarely on
drought, but critics also blame a controversial policy of government land
seizures from white land owners seven years ago that slashed agricultural
output. - Sapa-DPA
The Raw Story
dpa German Press Agency
Published: Friday April 13, 2007
Harare- British mercenary Simon Mann was Friday due to
appear in court in the Zimbabwe capital Harare to defend himself
against extradition to Equatorial Guinea, his lawyer said.
Oil-rich Equatorial Guinea is trying to have the former SAS
officer extradited to Malabo to face charges of plotting to topple
the government of President Teodoro Obiang Nguema.
Simon is supposed to be giving evidence today, defence lawyer
Jonathan Samkange told Deutsche Presse-Agentur dpa in a telephone
Mann was arrested in Harare in March 2004 along with dozens of
other suspected soldiers of fortune. The Zimbabwe government accused
them of being en route to Equatorial Guinea to overthrow the
government, but the men denied this.
Most of Mann's alleged accomplices were released two years ago
after serving year-long jail terms for minor immigration offences,
the only ones the Zimbabwean authorities could pin on them.
Mann, who was convicted of more serious security and firearms
offences, is due to be released next month after having served two-
thirds of a four-year jail term.
The government of Equatorial Guinea began its application to have
the former British SAS commando extradited in February.
Defence lawyer Samkange argued then that Zimbabwean and
international laws do not allow someone to be extradited to a
requesting country if they cannot be guaranteed a fair trial, and
where they could face execution.
Equatorial Guinea's attorney general responded by saying Mann
would receive an open and fair trial and claimed Malabo's courts
would not impose the death penalty in the case of a conviction.
Under the central African country's laws, plotting to overthrow
the government is punishable by the death penalty or a 30-year jail
© 2006 - dpa German Press Agency
Njabulo Ncube Chief Political Reporter
SA leader sets tone for talks to end Zim crisis
SOUTH African President Thabo Mbeki - thrown at the deep-end of the
country's complex socio-economic crisis - has moved swiftly to set the tone
on the urgency and seriousness the region is attaching to the resolution of
the Zimbabwean crisis by spelling out his plans and expectations as mediator
in letters delivered to the feuding political parties.
Soon after being appointed facilitator to the volatile situation obtaining
across the Limpopo, threatening to explode across the Southern African
Development Community (SADC), Mbeki has wasted no time, signifying the
urgency with which the 14-member bloc is attaching to the crisis.
Last week the divided Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) delivered a joint
document to Pretoria at the request of Mbeki outlining their position on how
best they believe a solution to the crisis might be reached amid indications
that the ruling party, which is said to be apprehensive at the terrific pace
of the developments, had also argued its case.
Diplomatic sources said Mbeki's letters contain broad parameters for the
resumption of delicate talks between ZANU PF and both MDC factions while
reiterating his earlier plea to both parties that conditions should not
stand in the way of dialogue.
"While he (Mbeki) says he has been mandated by the SADC emergency summit to
mediate in the Zimbabwean crisis, he states in the letters that it is
Zimbabweans themselves that should be able to define and solve their
problems," said the source. "He is basically asking for ZANU PF and the MDC
to come up with their suggestions for the agenda. He wants the mediation
process to be successful, that it delivers a permanent solution. He has
given a kind of a shell, and he is asking the parties to fill that shell,"
added the source.
Simon Khaya Moyo, Zimbabwe's ambassador to South Africa who has endeared
himself to President Robert Mugabe as Harare's pointman, delivered Mbeki's
letter to Harare over Easter.
Earlier, the two secretaries general of the rival MDC factions, Tendai Biti
and Welshman Ncube, had handed over their parties' documents to the African
National Congress (ANC), just as the South African leader announced a team,
headed by Sydney Mufamadi, a ruling ANC official, to lead the early stages
of the mediation.
All sides have agreed on the need for secrecy on the talks, but The
Financial Gazette understands that Mbeki's letter outlines the brief given
to him by the SADC extraordinary summit in Tanzania last month, and how he
intends to steer the mediation effort.
Diplomatic sources revealed this week that Mbeki has a tough task cut out
for him because the feuding parties were at sea with each other in terms of
Division within the main opposition party and the discord fermenting in the
ruling ZANU PF party over the choice of candidate to stand in next year's
presidential elections has not helped the situation either, they said.
Whereas at the centre of both the MDC factions' demands is the need for a
people-driven constitution guaranteeing free and fair elections, ZANU PF,
which has endorsed President Mugabe as its candidate in next year's polls,
is content with it and believes the project to harmonise the elections would
"There is no meeting of minds whatsoever, which makes the task extremely
difficult. The only saving grace is that South Africa has successfully
intervened in trickier situations such as Burundi where relations had
completely broken down to the extent of exchanging gunfire," said the
Mbeki, they said, is proceeding cautiously, mindful of the fact that his
facilitation should be within the SADC framework hence the regional body's
troika has to be actively involved at some stage.
Diplomatic sources said the immediate challenge is now to get the major
parties to agree on the terms of reference that would form the nucleus of
"Once the process reaches an advanced stage, then Mbeki can now come to
Zimbabwe to see the process through," added the diplomat.
MDC faction leader Morgan Tsvangirai yesterday confirmed receiving Mbeki's
letter, adding that he had already sent a response to the South African
"I can confirm that I have received a letter from President Mbeki and have
since replied to it. We as the MDC want to see how President Mbeki is going
to resolve this crisis. We wish him well," said the former trade unionist.
Tsvangirai declined to elaborate. "It is a confidential letter to me to
which I have similarly replied confidentially."
Tsvangirai said there was increased urgency on the part of SADC to resolve
the Zimbabwean crisis, which he said would bring President Mugabe to the
Poverty has consumed 80 percent of the country's estimated 13 million
people, with about two million having left in search of greener pastures. At
about 1700 percent, Zimbabwe's inflation rate is the highest in the world.
"The events that led to the SADC emergency summit in Tanzania recently and
the appointment of President Mbeki as mediator put the Zimbabwean crisis in
the fore. This crisis is going to be resolved through negotiation. ZANU PF
and the MDC are going to negotiate under the tutelage and facilitation of
President Mbeki," he said.
Information Minister Sikhanyiso Ndlovu refused to discuss the latest SADC
moves and pressure, saying the matter was confidential. "These are private
presidential issues, on which I cannot comment," said Ndlovu.
Gabriel Chaibva, the spokesman for Arthur Mutambara's faction of the MDC,
was also reluctant to speak on the matter.
While Tsvangirai was mum on details of his response to President Mbeki, he
said both Biti and Ncube had emphasised to the ANC and South African
officials involved in the delicate mediation process that a roadmap proposed
by the opposition last year was the only viable solution to the crisis.
It is however, understood that a key demand of the MDC is a new
constitution, and that far reaching electoral reforms be made before the
elections next year.
President Mugabe, on the other hand, has said he would only talk to the MDC
if it recognises him as the legitimately elected leader of the country.
Mbeki told the Financial Times last week that ensuring free and fair
elections would be his top priority, but without more specific benchmarks
for the success of the talks, the absence of set timetables and increasing
government intransigence, it is doubtful his latest initiative can succeed.
Political analysts say President Mbeki, who has been under fierce attack
from the West and opposition over his so-called quiet diplomacy, has his
reputation at stake if he fails to crack the Zimbabwe crisis second time
"All along, Mbeki has tried to find a solution as a concerned neighbour
without any regional pressure but now he is acting on instructions from a
SADC summit, which wants conditions acceptable by all within the next 11
months," an analyst said yesterday.
Another sign of the urgency the region attaches to the resolution of the
Zimbabwean problem was the arrival in Harare yesterday of SADC executive
secretary, Tomaz Augusto Salamao, to assess the economic situation in the
A communiqué at the end of the SADC summit in Tanzania said the region would
"undertake a study on the economic situation in Zimbabwe and propose
measures on how SADC can assist Zimbabwe recover economically." There are no
indications however, as to what form this economic assistance would take.
Salamao yesterday held discussions with President Mugabe at State House,
following earlier meetings with Foreign Affairs Minister Simbarashe
Mumbengegwi and Chief Secretary to the President and Cabinet, Misheck
There was speculation yesterday that the government had deliberately delayed
the release of inflation figures for March, expected to be above 2000
percent, in response to Salamao's visit. But officials said the delay was
In South Africa, Mbeki's spokesman, Mukoni Ratshitanga, denied reports that
the South African president himself was preparing to visit Harare. But he
said Mbeki had set himself an urgent task to get assurances from both sides
that campaigning for next year's polls would be peaceful.
A SOLDIER has been shot and injured in clashes with police at the Marange
diamond fields, Police Commissioner Augustine Chihuri has told ZANU PF
Members of Parliament (MPs).
Chihuri told a caucus of ZANU PF legislators on Wednesday that the soldier
was shot as he led youths trying to loot diamonds from the area, which has
been cordoned off and is guarded by police.
The police chief did not, however, specify how many soldiers, youths and
police were involved in the skirmishes.
He is said to have reiterated earlier claims by his deputy, Godwin Matanga
that senior officials were behind the looting of diamonds although he could
not name the culprits.
Sources said none of the MPs challenged Chihuri to name the government
officials involved in the plundering of the mineral.
Two months ago, small-scale miners told the parliamentary committee on mines
that they knew the high-ranking officials involved in the illicit deals, but
could not name them for fear of reprisals.
A source said Chihuri accused Mines and Mining Development Minister Amos
Midzi of "failing to put his house in order" and allowing a free or all
situation at Marange.
But Midzi is said to have denied being responsible for the chaos.
"Minister Midzi told the caucus that the reason why his ministry is failing
to deal with the issue is a high staff vacancy rate in his ministry, which
he said stands at 52 percent," a source said.
The ruling party MPs told Chihuri of their fears that Operation Chikorokoza
Chapera, the police crackdown on illegal mining, would affect their
prospects of winning during next year's polls.
Gold panners have been militant supporters of ZANU PF in recent elections.
"Chihuri said MPs should organise the miners into small groups before police
can allow them to continue with their operations," the source said.
According to the sources, MPs once again voiced opposition to the holding of
party primary elections in preparation for next year's parliamentary polls.
This newspaper reported last week that MPs wanted primaries scrapped as a
trade-off for the shortening of their terms by two years.
At this week's caucus, the MPs said they had "ongoing projects" in their
constituencies which they needed to complete and these would be disrupted if
they were not automatically endorsed as ZANU PF candidates.
ZANU PF's central committee two weeks ago agreed to jointly hold
presidential and parliamentary polls next year, effectively reducing the
life of the current Parliament by two years.
At the meeting, Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa, the leader of the House
and chair of the caucus meeting, declined to address the MPs' pleas.
Chinamasa is said to have told the legislators that the matter would be
referred to the ZANU PF election directorate, but warned them against
imposing themselves on the electorate.
Dumisani Ndlela Business Editor
... but sees economy shrinking faster
THE International Monetary Fund (IMF) has lowered its inflation forecasts
for Zimbabwe, saying the rate of inflation would average 2 879.5 percent
this year, slower than the 4 279 percent average it had initially projected
But the IMF issued a more pessimistic forecast on economic growth.
The tempered inflation forecasts, whose basis was not explained by the IMF
in its World Economic Outlook released this week, came as uncontrollable
price hikes overshadowed prospects for economic recovery, intensifying fears
the inflation rate could soar to over 7 000 percent this year.
Inflation closed last year at 1281.1 percent. The IMF had projected the rate
to average 1 216 percent during 2006.
On the IMF's initial projections for 2007, inflation was expected to breach
5 000 percent during the year.
But despite its revised forecasts for the current year, the IMF maintained a
sombre outlook for the economy, downgrading its forecasts on economic
growth. Gross domestic product (GDP) would contract by 5.7 percent this
year, the IMF said, a forecast that is bigger than the 4.8 percent the Fund
had earlier projected in 2007.
The Fund sees average inflation for 2008 at 6 470.8 percent, and expects the
economy to shrink 3.6 percent.
Zimbabwe suffered cumulative GDP decline of more than 30 percent between
1999 and 2005.
JOURNALISTS will increasingly become targets of hostility from state
security agents in the run-up to next year's elections, a media watchdog has
Citing the arrests and assault of photojournalist Tsvangirai Mukwazhi on
March 11 and Gift Phiri on April 1, the Media Institute of Southern Africa
(MISA) Zimbabwe said in its latest report that in view of these recent
developments, Zimbabwean journalists should be on the alert.
Mukwazhi and Tendai Musiyazviriyo, a producer, were arrested while covering
opposition protests in Highfield.
"The traumatic events of the past two months should also serve as a
harbinger of the unknown dangers that lie ahead for journalists and media
workers, given that Mukwazhi's whereabouts had remained unknown until his
subsequent appearance in court three days later on 14 March 2007," said
Phiri, a reporter for The Zimbabwean, a newspaper published in London and
distributed in Zimbabwe, was seized at a shopping centre in Sunningdale,
taken to the Sunningdale police station before being transferred to Central
Police station, where lawyers say he was beaten while he was in custody.
On Tuesday, Phiri showed this newspaper his injuries, including a cut on his
brow, which he said were sustained during his three-day ordeal.
MISA-Zimbabwe said: "In several cases involving investigative journalists
uncovering stories about government corruption, organised crime or human
rights abuses, notably in Algeria and Turkey, journalists have simply
'disappeared' after being taken into government custody.
"Even more worrying is the fact that Mukwazhi's valid accreditation card
issued by the state-controlled Media and Information Commission under the
restrictive and repressive Access to Information and Protection of Privacy
Act, which he brandished did not shield him from the police beatings."
Mukwazhi and Musiyazviriyo were detained together with opposition leaders
Morgan Tsvangirai and Arthur Mutambara, and up to 50 other political
"Times of conflict demand professional solidarity that over-rides the egos
that are the manifestation and derivatives of the competitive nature of the
profession of journalism. Granted, journalism can be a hazardous profession.
"However, what happened to Mukwazhi and Phiri certainly demanded immediate
exposure and condemnation by the media as the worst could have befallen him
(Phiri) at the time when his whereabouts in the hands of his captors was
unknown," said MISA-Zimbabwe.
"Journalists should, therefore, rally behind one another especially where it
concerns the unlawful arrest, detention, assault and torture of colleagues
as these actions go beyond the hazards that come with the terrain of the
profession but blatantly violate the charters, conventions and declarations
that protect media freedom and freedom of expression."
Kumbirai Mafunda Senior Business Reporter
THE Tobacco Industry Marketing Board (TIMB) yesterday finally agreed on a
date for the opening of auction floors after the selling season, initially
scheduled to have started on March 14, was postponed due to lack of sales
TIMB acting chief executive officer, Andrew Matibiri, told The Financial
Gazette that auction floors would open on April 24.
Matibiri said the season would finally commence after key stakeholders
ironed out differences, which had stalled trade.
Growers, who had initially pushed for an early opening of the auction
floors, saying they had completed harvesting and wanted to sell early to
avert inflation-induced losses, refused to book their tobacco for the
auctions after failing to agree on a viable exchange rate with the central
Growers wanted the government to devalue the Zimbabwe dollar from $250 to
It was not immediately clear what concessions growers had finally won for
them to agree to sell.
Matibiri said farmers would start delivering their crop to the auction
floors in two weeks' time as viability had been taken into consideration.
"Floors will open on the 24th of this month. To open beyond that date wouldn't
be proper as cash flows for growers are now dry," Matibiri said.
Industry sources indicated that a new package had been agreed with the
farmers and this included an "early delivery bonus or some other incentives".
The Zimbabwe Tobacco Association (ZTA), which boasts a membership of over 4
000 small and large-scale tobacco farmers, yesterday said its members were
now prepared to sell.
"Farmers are ready to deliver their crop. The large scale farmers are paying
500 percent commercial interest rates at banks and that is hurting," said
ZTA vice-President Graeme Chadwick.
The commencement of the tobacco-marketing season will help boost foreign
Production of tobacco, one of Zimbabwe's top foreign currency earners, has
been on the decline since 2 000 following agrarian reforms that disrupted
farming activities in the country.
Output has plunged from a peak of 232 million kgs prior to the reforms to a
disappointing 55 million kgs.
GOVERNMENT'S decision to charge duty and Value Added Tax on vehicles and
luxury items in foreign currency is liable to legal challenge, a leading
commercial lawyer says.
Finance Minister Samuel Mumbengegwi last week published a Statutory
Instrument compelling all car dealers and importers of other luxuries using
free funds to pay for duty in foreign currency, a move that has attracted
sharp criticism from importers.
On Wednesday, Mumbengegwi attempted to fend off the criticism, saying his
decision was meant to "influence investment patterns towards the more
production oriented activities as part of strategies to turn around our
economy". He did not explain.
But Sternford Moyo, a top corporate lawyer with Scanlen and Holderness, told
The Financial Gazette yesterday that the statutory instrument, criticised as
a government ploy to shore up its sagging hard currency purse, can be
challenged in court, as it is irreconcilable with existing legislation.
"It is open to challenge on the grounds of the extent of its inconsistency
with an Act of Parliament. It is null and void. It really is unpatriotic for
the controller of customs to reject the legal tender of Zimbabwe, Zimbabwe
dollars, and insist on receiving the currency of foreign countries. The
state should be proud to collect Zimbabwe dollars," Moyo said.
Moyo says the statutory instrument conflicts with the Reserve Bank of
Zimbabwe (RBZ) Act, which stipulates that the Zimbabwe dollar is the supreme
and legal tender in all transactions conducted in the country.
"In terms of the RBZ Act chapter 22: Section 44 the Zimbabwe dollar is the
legal tender in Zimbabwe. A person who incurs an obligation in Zimbabwe can
discharge that obligation by tendering in Zimbabwe dollars. The statutory
instrument can be said to be inconsistent with the provisions of the RBZ Act
and being a subsidiary legislation it should be in conformity with the Act
of Parliament," observed Moyo.
On Wednesday, Mumbengegwi also said the new regulation was meant to protect
the local motor industry - essentially Willowvale Mazda Motor Industries -
from foreign competition.
Although the Minister claimed production at the company has been depressed
by "low demand", the company itself has in fact frequently said it was
unable to meet local demand, but that foreign currency shortages were
keeping its assembly lines quiet.
Analysts have said the measure will drive up parallel market rates.
Charles Rukuni Bureau Chief
DEBTORS, who now owe the Bulawayo City Council $12.9 billion, are "bleeding
the council white". The council's Finance and Development Committee said it
was owed $11.6 billion by residents as at the end of January. The debt shot
up by 1 060 percent from December when it stood at $1billion.
The increase was due to the introduction of new tariffs, which had increased
by the same percentage.
The government owed the council $1.3 billion but this was up to the end of
December and therefore, did not reflect the 1 060 percent increase. The
biggest debtors were the Ministries of Water Development and that of Home
The committee said one of the ways it could reduce government debt was to
lobby the central bank to pay the local authority directly when money was
disbursed to ministries.
Most of the money owed by residents was for water, rates and sewerage
charges. Residents owed $4.7 billion in water charges, $3.7 billion for
rates and supplementary charges and $1.8 billion for sewerage.
BULAWAYO - The foreign currency black market has once again begun to surge
after a two-week lull, which most market watchers have failed to explain.
The pound sterling had dropped from $40 000 to $25 000 while the United
States dollar fell from $25 000 to $15 000.
Surprisingly, there were only moderate drops for both the Botswana pula and
the South African rand. The rand fell from $2 700 to $2 000 while the pula
fell from $3 000 to $2 500.
The biggest rise so far has been in the pula and rand, which were trading at
$3 000 and $2 500 at midweek. The pound had only risen to $27 000 and the US
dollar to $17 000.
Market watchers have so far failed to figure out why the currency had
plunged. One explanation was that people were afraid things could go haywire
because of the proposed two-day stayaway called by the Zimbabwe Congress of
Trade Union. The stayaway flopped.
Another explanation was that Zimbabweans from neighbouring countries were
coming home for the Easter holiday and thus there was an abundance of
foreign currency resulting in rates falling.
Yet another view was that there was a shortage of local currency because of
the restrictions on how much people could withdraw from their bank accounts.
Some market watchers said the drop had been caused by the withdrawal of
major buyers of foreign currency. No explanation was given for the
The two-week slump sent shivers among those who had been buying foreign
currency as a hedge against inflation and the falling Zimbabwe dollar.
One story doing the rounds in the city was that a woman who had bought US$2
000 at $19 000 found herself without local currency to buy basic foodstuffs
like bread when the rate plunged as she could not change her money at the
The plunge was a clear signal to those buying foreign currency as a hedge
against inflation that this is indeed risky business.
The only commodity that responded to the plunge was fuel whose price dropped
to as low as $15 500 a litre. The price has since edged back to at least $17
000 a litre.
Prices of most goods in the shops continue to escalate.
Clemence Manyukwe Staff Reporter
ZANU PF's plan to increase the number of parliamentary seats is seen
widening the ruling party's patronage system and allowing President Robert
Mugabe to reward loyalty after he overcame apparent divisions over his
candidacy two weeks ago, analysts say.
Observers say a plan to amend the constitution to allow parliament to choose
a new head of state if the incumbent resigns points to a possibility that
President Mugabe might not serve a full term if, as expected, he wins
presidential elections next year.
There are also fears, based on precedent, that the proposed extra seats
could be assigned to traditional ZANU PF rural strongholds as a ploy to
safeguard the ruling party's parliamentary majority.
The decision by the ZANU PF central committee to endorse President Mugabe as
presidential candidate for next year's harmonised polls has dominated media
headlines, eclipsing proposals by the party to increase seats in the lower
house from the 150 to 210, and the number of seats in the Senate from 66 to
ZANU PF now also wants senators to be chosen on the basis of proportional
representation, an electoral formula that matches the percentage of votes
that groups of candidates obtain in elections and the percentage of seats
they can hold.
The number of seats a party garners in the House of Assembly would be
proportional to the number of seats it can get in the upper house.
Analysts say the "harmonisation" of presidential and general elections would
see "patronage parliamentary seats" being dispensed as a reward for loyal
supporters, or as a stick to discipline errant members by threatening to
withdraw dissenters' seats.
Factional tensions in ZANU PF have escalated since the 2002 presidential
poll when senior officials, notably the late Eddison Zvobgo, were accused of
refusing to campaign for President Mugabe.
More recently, a phenomenon termed "Bhora Mudondo", where ruling party
members are said to sabotage party election campaigns, has been exposed.
A central committee report presented to ZANU PF's conference last year said:
"The National Disciplinary Committee received cases from Masvingo province
of some members who were alleged to have campaigned against official party
candidates during the senatorial elections held in November 2005."
Analysts also said the current change in the method of selecting senators,
which would require a constitutional amendment gives credence to calls for a
new constitution rather than piecemeal amendments effected by the ruling
party since 1980.
They noted that the change in the supreme law to accommodate the new format
for senators comes two years after constitutional Amendment No. 17 that
created the Upper House.
Presenting proposals to the ZANU PF central committee, Justice Minister
Patrick Chinamasa said the current system was causing conflict between
senators and members of the House of Assembly. He added that it caused
confusion over roles and turf.
Political analyst Eldred Masunungure said since 1980, ZANU PF has relied on
a combination of violence and patronage to coerce members and opponents
"These are patronage parliamentary seats dangled before those members who
were wavering. It is an incentive that members find appealing and difficult
to reject," Masunungure said.
"Patronage in this country is as old as independence. It is a tool that
leaders use to ensure compliance or support. It has deepened its roots. It
is now embedded."
He said allowing parliament to choose a successor to the President in the
event of the office becoming vacant implied an "implicit understanding that
President Mugabe would not serve his full term." Currently, the constitution
calls for the holding of elections within three months.
Rindai Chipfunde, the director of the Zimbabwe Election Support Network,
said having a successor chosen by parliament was undemocratic.
"It needs to come from the people, to decide who should be the president of
the country," she said.
Chipfunde questioned the wisdom of increasing the number of legislators who
would depend on the taxpayer when parliament is already struggling without
According to Masunungure, the size of parliament should, instead, be
Apart from salaries and allowances, Members of Parliament benefit from a
Vehicle Loan Scheme.
Loans to legislators are granted at cocessional interest rates while all
imports are duty free, according to Clerk of Parliament Austin Zvoma.
A number of recent reports presented to Parliament bear out Masunungure and
Chipfunde's views on the question of funding. A report presented recently by
the Comptroller and Auditor General, Mildred Chiri, showed that parliament
had exceeded its budgetary vote and had used additional resources without
"The advance block grant was exceeded on 12 occasions during the year. On
eight occasions, parliament did not seek treasury authority at all," the
The portfolio committee on Foreign Affairs, Industry and International
Trade, said it had failed to visit Ziscosteel because of lack of funds. The
state-run Ziscosteel has over the years failed to operate at full capacity
due to breakdowns at its blast furnaces, undercapitalisation and political
A spokesperson for the Zimbabwe Civic Education Trust, Tawanda Chimhini,
said there could be conflict over where the extra constituencies would be
created; the rural areas, where ZANU PF is traditionally strong, or in the
urban areas, the bedrock of opposition support.
Since 2000, the work of a delimitation commission established to mark
constituency boundaries has been shrouded in controversy.
In the last general election, Harare and Bulawayo lost constituencies while
ZANU PF strongholds gained extra ones.
Rangarirai Mberi News Editor
AT the Sacred Heart Cathedral in Harare on Tuesday, lunchtime worshippers
stopped by the notice board to read a letter by their bishops targeting one
of their most ardent parishioners, President Robert Mugabe, a regular at
this Fourth Street church.
In the notice, titled "God Hears the Cries of the Oppressed", Catholic
bishops accuse President Mugabe's administration of repression similar to
that suffered by ancient Israelites under Pharaoh, warning that government
faces a "mass uprising" if its leaders do not "repent."
The bishops also accuse government of rigging elections and aping Ian Smith's
"As the suffering population becomes more insistent, generating more and
more pressure through boycotts, strikes, demonstrations and uprisings, the
state responds with ever harsher oppression through arrests, detentions,
banning orders, beatings and torture," the Zimbabwe Catholic Bishops
Conference (ZCBC) says in a pastoral message posted on notice boards at all
Catholic churches at Easter.
"Many people in Zimbabwe are angry, and their anger is now erupting into
open revolt in one township after another. In order to avoid further
bloodshed and avert a mass uprising, the nation needs a new people-driven
constitution that will guide a democratic leadership chosen in free and fair
elections," the bishops say.
On Sunday, Pope Benedict, in his traditional Easter address to followers,
cited Zimbabwe in the same breath as Somalia and Sudan's Darfur, as one of
the world's trouble spots, saying the country was in "grievous crisis".
While the Pope's bunching of Zimbabwe with Darfur would be rightly treated
as absurd, more poignant for President Mugabe is the criticism from his own
A practicing Catholic who makes frequent reference to his Jesuit training,
President Mugabe - described rather risibly last week by his deputy Joice
Mujuru as God's gift to Zimbabwe - is unlikely to ignore the bishops'
The President has often regarded Catholic Archbishop Pius Ncube's somewhat
rabid jibes at his leadership as comic relief. But stern censure by all nine
of Zimbabwe's bishops will, at the very least, force President Mugabe to sit
up and take serious note, even as he appears increasingly unmoved by
criticism after a series of recent political victories over his domestic and
Government's immediate reaction to the bishops' letter was
characteristically dry though.
"The churches can say what they like," said Information Minister Sikhanyiso
But there is little doubt that government will have noticed the bishop's
protest letter, described by observers this week as the strongest rebuke of
ZANU PF by the church in years.
In the past, President Mugabe has rejected calls by Zimbabwean churches for
a new constitution to help end the country's political and economic crisis,
but backed their initiative for a national political dialogue.
Speaking at the launch of a document called 'The Zimbabwe We Want' by an
alliance of the country's major churches last year, President Mugabe said
although he welcomed their initiative for dialogue, his government had some
"We fought for it, our people died for it. There could never be another
constitution so dear, so sacrosanct," he said.
"True there might be amendments necessary to make, let us say so, but to say
this is not home-grown is as if the British imposed this on us."
According to the bishops, many of those responsible for the repression are
passionate Catholics. "Christians sit and pray and sing together in the same
church, take part in the same celebration of the Eucharist and partake of
the same Body and Blood of Christ. The next day, outside the church, a few
steps away, Christian state agents, policemen and soldiers, assault and beat
peaceful, unarmed demonstrators and torture detainees."
The struggle in Zimbabwe, say the bishops, is between "those who are
determined to maintain their privileges of power and wealth at any cost,
even at the cost of bloodshed, and those who demand their democratic rights
and a share in the fruits of independence; between those who continue to
benefit from the present system of inequality and injustice, because it
favours them and enables them to maintain an exceptionally high standard of
living, and those who go to bed hungry at night."
The bishops say none of Rhodesia's oppressive laws have been repealed,
noting these had in fact been "reinforced" by even more repressive
legislation. The wealth of the minority white elite had simply been
"appropriated" by a black elite that has, for 27 years, passed the wealth
exclusively around its members through patronage, the bishops say.
According to the bishops, "God is always on the side of the oppressed". They
have called for a day of fasting and prayer this Saturday.
THE insistence by the Postal Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of
Zimbabwe (POTRAZ) that operators base international call tariffs on the
official exchange rate has created a major crisis in the telecommunications
sector, operators say.
The effect of the policy is that making an international call from Zimbabwe
to South Africa is up to seven times cheaper than making the same call from
South Africa, depending on whether one is calling a mobile or fixed line
As a result, Zimbabweans
outside the country now prefer to send money to their
relatives, who sell it on the black market, and then use it to call from
Zimbabwe, saving millions of dollars.
But Zimbabwean operators have to pay their counterparts for the call in
United States dollars.
This has impacted adversely on local operators.
According to the Telecom Operators Association Zimbabwe, the country has
moved from a situation where it was earning foreign currency to being a net
payer to external operators in foreign currency.
"Until now, 90 percent of all calls were incoming, and we used to earn
millions in foreign currency, now it is the other way around because we have
to find foreign currency every month to pay for international calls," says
Douglas Mboweni, head of the operators' association.
Operators have been holding emergency meetings with the regulator for months
over the matter, but no solution has yet been reached.
The worst affected operator is state owned fixed line monopoly TelOne,
believed to owe millions of US dollars to foreign operators. Industry
experts warn this could lead to the closure of all the routes TelOne
Mboweni, who is chief executive officer of Econet, said prepaid subscribers
on this network have restricted international access on outgoing
"The size of the outgoing route is based on the amount of foreign currency
on that route. We cannot expand the route because we will run a deficit with
other operators that we cannot settle. We have not shut down the outgoing
route, we have simply matched it with the foreign currency we earn on the
route," said Mboweni.
Clemence Manyukwe Staff Reporter
A PARLIAMENTARY portfolio committee wants Local Government Minister Ignatius
Chombo's wide-ranging powers, which enable him to arbitrarily dissolve local
authorities, checked through legislation.
In a report tabled in parliament recently, the legislature's local
government committee, chaired by ZANU PF Mazowe West Member of Parliament
(MP) Margaret Zinyemba, said the Local Government Board - the state body
that supervises local authorities - should have the final say on all council
The committee recommended that Chombo should table harmonised local
government legislation before the end of the year. Currently, there are two
different laws governing the operations of urban and rural councils - the
Urban Councils Act and the Rural Districts Act.
"Local government in Zimbabwe, again unlike in other countries, has not been
provided for in the supreme law of the country, the constitution of
Zimbabwe. As a result, the executive has the power to dissolve any local
authority at any time," the report said.
"Stakeholders also felt that the board was under the control of the Minister
as he has the final say on its decisions and he also appoints its members.
In Botswana and South Africa, the board's decision is final."
The committee recommended that the next constitutional amendment must
include a provision granting local authorities autonomy, in line with
government pledges at independence to decentralise authority.
Chombo is accused of abusing his authority to dissolve elected councils in
Harare, Chitungwiza and Mutare and replacing them with commissions packed
with ZANU PF loyalists.
In Harare, Chombo has refused to allow fresh elections to be held despite a
High Court order declaring a government-appointed commission headed by
Sekesai Makwavarara illegal.
In the midst of all this confusion, service delivery in most of the major
cities has sunk to its lowest ebb, posing a serious health threat to
An official with the Zimbabwe Local Government Association who declined to
be named yesterday came out in defence of Chombo and the local government
He said the ministry was only there to facilitate, on behalf of government,
in the implementation of policy.
And because of the local authorities' failure to deliver, some of their
responsibilities have been allocated to other line ministries to safeguard
the interests of their residents. These include water and sewer
reticulation, education and the provision of food, which is now the
responsibility of the Labour Ministry.
Peeved by these sweeping reforms, councillors in some of the country's local
authorities were now seeking to hide their incompetence by heaping the blame
on the Local Government Ministry, said the official.
"Some of these recommendations are borne out of ignorance and sinister
agendas meant to protect certain interests," said the official. "There are
certain quarters that wanted to pursue their own agendas via local
authorities and hence the various circumstances leading to the dismissal of
executive mayors and other officials in Harare, Chitungwiza and Mutare,"
added the official.
Committee member and Movement for Democratic Change Mbare MP Gift
Chimanikire, who seconded the report after its tabling in the House of
Assembly by ZANU PF Gutu North MP Lovemore Matuke, said the abolition of the
minister's "monopoly" on local government issues would be key to any reforms
to legislation governing local authority.
"The most important thing that we have raised is the constitutionalism of
local authorities, putting that provision into the constitution of this
country. This, Mr Speaker, according to our own opinion, would remove and
guarantee against ministerial monopoly and exploitation of local
authorities," he said.
"We feel that if local authorities are going to be dissolved, that is not in
the interest of residents or citizens in the areas that the local
authorities would be operating."
Kumbirai Mafunda Senior Business Reporter
Future workers grievances to be directed to CIO offices
STATE security agents last week interrogated workers' representatives at
Mutare- based Border Timbers Limited (BTL) after company employees boycotted
work during a two-day "stayaway" organised by the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade
Unions (ZCTU) to protest deteriorating economic and living conditions.
Workers at the country's top timber producer told The Financial Gazette that
members of the spy agency, the Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO)
summoned four of BTL's workers' representatives to their offices and accused
them of mobilising workers to support
the ZCTU's work boycott.
The four are Tendai Chamwandoita, the workers' committee chairman, Reuben
Gondo, the secretary, and committee
members Luckson Matikiti and Nelson Kapfumvuti.
Workers at the timber processing company were part of a few who had backed
the ZCTU call to stay away from work to protest a deteriorating economic
environment and to pressure companies to pay minimum wages and salaries of
$1 million a month to cushion workers from escalating inflation.
are said to have observed the absence of employees from their workplace
after two agents had
visited the timber processing plant in the Paulington industrial area around
mid-day last Tuesday.
They reportedly told management to immediately call workers to report for
duty in the afternoon.
Although some workers later reported for duty that Tuesday, the CIO
operatives proceeded to summon the workers representatives to their offices
on Wednesday morning.
Workers said their representatives only returned to work after spending
about three hours of intense interrogation.
The workers' representatives told workers after their encounter with the CIO
that they had been instructed to stop approaching management with their
grievances but to instead report them to the CIO offices.
"They said protocol had changed and they will now handle all workers'
grievances from now onwards," a source said.
Efforts to get a comment from BTL managing director John Gadzikwa were
unsuccessful throughout the week.
BTL directors have frequently criticised government for mismanaging the
economy in their financial and annual reports.
The company has also protested the compulsory requirement to remit foreign
currency to the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe, saying the measure hinders it from
meeting its offshore creditor commitments.
BTL, which is fighting the compulsory acquisition of its timber plantations
picturesque Eastern Highlands, has been a victim of fires caused by
illegal settlers who have illegally moved to stay on the estates.
Dumisani Ndlela Business Editor
ZIMBABWE'S tobacco selling season could lurch into a fresh crisis amid
reports authorised dealers were struggling to mobilise enough foreign
currency for purchases.
The selling season, already mired in a dispute over a favourable exchange
rate for growers, was initially scheduled to start on March 14 but was
postponed due to lack of sales bookings after growers failed to agree on a
viable exchange rate with the central bank.
The Tobacco Industry Marketing Board (TIMB) said a new date would "be
announced after consultations with all stakeholders and assessments of
preparedness of growers to sell have been made".
But sources said the major worry nagging authorities was the struggle to
mobilise offshore funding for tobacco purchases during the selling season.
In terms of the country's exchange control regulations, all green leaf
tobacco from the auction floors and contractors is purchased in United
The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) last week issued a fresh notice advising
authorised dealers to "arrange offshore lines of credit on behalf of tobacco
merchants and contractors".
But dealers who spoke to The Financial Gazette indicated that international
financiers were growing increasingly risk-averse and unwilling to extend
fresh credit facilities to local financial institutions for merchants.
"It's getting very difficult," a bank treasurer said this week. "We normally
do this on a bank-to-bank basis but those that we have traditionally relied
on have given us their backs."
He said, however, that a few banks had managed to source foreign currency
from their parent institutions offshore, but this would be insignificant.
Afrexim Bank, roped in by the central bank to help, was said to be worried
by the increasing turmoil in the country's markets, although a source
indicated they would still be able to assist with some hard cash for the
One source indicated that Afrexim was not necessarily concerned with the
country's default risk but was rather losing faith in the country's
prospects on both the political and economic fronts.
In its notice to authorised dealers last week, the central bank maintained
that all tobacco merchants and contractors would be compelled "to access
offshore funds for the purpose of purchasing the green leaf tobacco".
However, newly registered tobacco merchants and those that have been
operational for less than three years would be accommodated through a
memorandum of deposit (MOD) facility if they demonstrate "beyond any
reasonable doubt their inability to secure offshore lines of credit".
The MOD has a limit of US$20 million for eligible merchants.
The central bank said authorised dealers would arrange the offshore lines of
credit on behalf of tobacco merchants and contractors.
"Funds drawn down from such offshore lines of credit shall be credited to a
special Tobacco Foreign Currency Account with authorised dealers. Prior to
purchasing tobacco, a tobacco merchant or contractor shall instruct the
authorised dealer to sell to the Reserve Bank foreign currency from the
special tobacco FCA (Foreign Currency Account)," the Reserve Bank said.
The RBZ would buy the foreign currency at the ruling exchange rate and the
resultant Zimbabwe dollars would be deposited into the merchant or
contractor's special Zimbabwe dollar account holding only Zimbabwe dollars
proceeds from the disposal of foreign currency to the RBZ.
The merchant or contractor would pay for tobacco with funds from the special
Zimbabwe dollar tobacco account.
Kumbirai Mafunda Senior Business Reporter
ZIMBABWE'S power utility ZESA Holdings this week said a review of tariffs by
government would help lure critical investment into the electricity
generation sector, famished of crucial investment in recent years.
Ben Rafemoyo, the acting ZESA chief executive officer, said he believed the
recent electricity tariff review by the Zimbabwe Electricity Regulatory
Commission (ZERC) would steer the power utility into viability and help to
attract new investment in the energy sector.
ZERC, the sector's regulator, approved an increase in electricity tariffs
early this month by 350 percent. Another tariff review of 120 percent would
be implemented in June and a 50 percent increase would follow in October.
"Investors look at their returns and returns are only realised through
tariffs. If current players are recording losses then you don't expect any
new investment and that has cost Africa in terms of electricity generation,"
Sub-economic tariffs have kept investors away from the sector and hit ZESA's
capacity to maintain its power stations and equipment.
Out of ZESA's numerous and potential suitors, only Nampower has agreed to
provide a US$40 million loan to refurbish ZESA's Hwange Power Station. Under
the deal, which was sealed last month, Hwange will supply Namibia with 150
megawatts of power annually for the next five years while ZESA will use the
proceeds to retire its debt.
Besides uneconomic power tariffs, investors have avoided committing their
funds in the country because of the unstable political climate, skewed
economic policies and lack of respect for property rights.
Zimbabwe has had no new power projects in the past decade and the situation
in the sector had been worsened by an economic crisis now in its seventh
Personal Glimpses with Mavis Makuni
A REPORT in the latest issue of the South African weekly, the Sunday Times,
caught my eye. It is about a crack private sector team that has been
appointed to put things back in order within the Department of Home Affairs.
The report was of great interest to me for a number of reasons, not least
the fact that the Department of Home Affairs is regarded as the most corrupt
arm of government in South Africa. But what really took my breath away is
that this team of consultants, who have been described as "hard-nosed,
no-nonsense" technocrats have been chosen by none other than the head of the
department to be overhauled. The responsible minister, Nosiviwe
Mapisa-Nqakula, is said to have made her decision to bring in the
consultants after releasing a report that was scathingly critical of her
It is difficult to imagine anything like that happening in Zimbabwe where
such reports have been known to mysteriously disappear without trace.
Another reason that would make it impossible for such a scenario to occur in
Zimbabwe is the culture of non-accountability and impunity that pervades all
sectors of public life. While in South Africa the media takes the lead in
raising the alarm about the abuse of power and privilege by public officials
and that way help to stop the rot before too much damage is done, the same
cannot be said in Zimbabwe.
Despite assurances by the new Minister of Information and Publicity,
Sikhanyiso Ndlovu, that the government welcomes constructive criticism, this
is not borne out in practice. Journalists are regularly threatened and
verbally abused when they contact ministers and other government officials
seeking clarification or comments on issues they may be investigating. The
scribes are threatened with lawsuits and accused of being unpatriotic and
agents of foreign powers. Merely expressing horror at something that is
wrong morally, legally and in terms of common human decency, can earn a
writer the most tenuous and unwarranted labels and epithets. But
unfortunately, insisting by decree that things are hunky-dory when they are
falling apart is futile in the long run as the prevailing untenable economic
situation in Zimbabwe is proving.
Zimbabwe could learn some lessons from the South Africans, who are realistic
enough to be willing to look at themselves in the mirror, warts and all.
"It's a team of technocrats - the hard-nosed, no-nonsense types. These
people will help us to structure a work plan for the director-general and
will stay with the team until we have been able to address the systematic
problems," said Vice-President Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka of the consultants
brought in to tackle problems in the Home Affairs Department. It is the same
team of consultants that is said to have helped put the South African
Revenue Service back on track after prescribing corrective measures.
As a Zimbabwean whose country has been brought to its knees in no small
measure by corruption, I admire the way South Africans have dealt with the
problem since attaining freedom from apartheid in 1994. The most admirable
aspect of their approach, in my opinion, is their willingness to admit that
corruption is a cancer that should be uprooted wherever it is found and
regardless of who the culprit is. On that score their attitude is vastly
different from that in my own country where the acceptable modus operandi is
to sweep everything under the carpet. There continues to exist a double
standard in this country that makes it alright to protect corrupt
individuals because they are powerful and influential and to hell with what
happens to the rest of the people.
But in a democracy, which Zimbabwe claims to be, every one should be equal
before the law and it should be enforced without fear or favour so that the
cancer of corruption can be eradicated. A short while ago, Samuel Undenge
was appointed Minister of Anti-Corruption and Anti-Monopolies. Strangely,
that was the last time anything was heard about him although the public
expected him to be a new broom ready to sweep clean following the lacklustre
performance of two previous incumbents in the same portfolio. The new
minister's silence and low profile since his appointment in October last
year following a cabinet reshuffle is not because there are no corruption
issues to attend to.
Undenge appeared on the scene as Anti-Corruption Minister in the middle of
the controversy surrounding the discovery of diamonds in Marange. A number
of high-ranking officials have been implicated in illegal deals but nothing
has been done to deal with them. Recently, Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe governor
Gideon Gono complained about the lack of government action to normalise the
mining of diamonds in that part of the country for the benefit of all
citizens. Delivering a lecture at Midlands State University, he said the
inertia that had been exhibited with respect to the diamonds had nothing to
do with sanctions or foreign interference, which are often blamed for
The diamonds controversy is not the only scandal about which nothing has
been done. Not long ago details were exposed about the plundering of the
Zimbabwe Iron and Steel Company before a report giving chapter and verse on
the matter mysteriously went missing. Without wishing to over-simplify
things, the only person who has been taken to task over the allegations is
Industry and International Trade Minister Obert Mpofu, who has been obliged
to appear before a parliamentary disciplinary committee on charges of lying
to a parliamentary portfolio committee while giving evidence under oath. It
is doubtful that the tackling of the ZISCO racket will progress beyond
Mpofu's impeachment. The real culprits know they will remain unscathed.
The same half-hearted approach has been adopted in dealing with other
serious scandals such as the looting of farm equipment, the abuse of
subsidised fuel and farm inputs and the corrupt allocation of stands under
the once much-touted but now rarely mentioned Garikai/Hlalani Kuhle housing
scheme. It was announced that investigations would be conducted to get to
the bottom of abuses by officials who allocated stands to their friends and
relatives rather than those who had been displaced under Operation
Official inertia and lack of commitment means these wrongdoers can go
scot-free at the expense of fellow Zimbabweans.
EACH year around November, the Finance Ministry normally cheers up
distraught taxpayers by relaxing tax bands along with a raft of other relief
measures targeted at lessening the heavy tax burden, while loading
additional cash into an economy weighed down by the convulsive effects of
This last Thursday, the officials at the New Composite Buildings, who are
rarely known for applying shock therapy to nurse the deepening economic
depression in between the national budgets, had other ideas that became the
talking point over the Easter holiday up to this day.
A day before Good Friday, the Ministry of Finance directed the restructured
Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (at loggerheads with its employees over poor
salaries) to start collecting duty and Value Added Tax on imported cars and
other goods designated as luxury in foreign currency - a temptation that
officers at the revenue collector might find too hard to resist.
The knee-jerk response to the widely reported influx of trinkets and
second-hand goods into the country - the bulk of them being sub-standard
goods from the Far East, now the bedrock upon which Zimbabwe builds its
hopes for recovery - has once again laid bare the desperation in government
to attract foreign exchange inflows needed to mend the widening import bill
that has been exacerbated by successive droughts, particularly in the
southern parts of the country.
Without even weighing the legal arguments aiding Statutory Instrument 80A of
2007, the latest attempt to squeeze the elusive hard currency from holders
of free funds also exposes the ruling party's hypocrisy whereby it postures
as the vanguard party all out to defend the troubled local unit against its
free-fall while it is busy devaluing the same through the back door.
The April 5 effective date coincided with softening exchange rates on the
parallel market, giving the false impression that the latest policy shift,
which caught motor traders unawares, had paid instant dividends. Far from
Despite the good intentions of Treasury, caught between a rock and a hard
place, this latest fishing expedition could boomerang with serious
ramifications on the country's wobbling economy.
Understandably, Samuel Mumbengegwi and his team cannot conjure up miracles
to quench the insatiable appetite for foreign currency in the absence of
sustained efforts to step up industrial production and generate the
much-needed export earnings, but what they have resorted to doing is like
putting elostoplast on a gaping wound. They owe the nation a convincing
Why should Zimbabweans pay duty in foreign currency? What has gone wrong
with the Zimbabwe dollar? Are they not being too emotional to the extent
where the government is shooting itself in the foot? Why not go for
wholesale dollarisation of the economy as has been suggested before? If it
is about discouraging imports of luxury items, why not rid the economy of
the arbitrage opportunities on the pricing of the exchange rate? Is this not
an admission that exporters have a point in lobbying for the upward
realignment of the exchange rate? If so, what is being done to help their
cause? If it is about ensuring that ZIMRA is not prejudiced by importers who
are "paying next to nothing", why can't the powers-that-be bite the bullet
and devalue the Zimbabwe dollar to market levels? It's the politics, stupid!
It does not take a rocket scientist to figure out that the country's economy
is slowly grinding to a standstill on the back of a combination of
self-destructive policies that spawned arbitrage opportunities in the
pricing of the exchange rate, essential agricultural inputs, fuel etc from
where endemic corruption is feeding.
By making it difficult for people to bring in cars and other items
designated as luxuries against the backdrop of falling capacity utilisation
in industry and frightening unemployment, the government might find itself
with very little revenue in its purse to sustain the bloated civil service,
frequently cited among the evils derailing efforts to narrow the country's
burgeoning budget deficit, which has been fingered as the main source of
Cross-border trade has become a way of life for most Zimbabweans owing to
rising unemployment while prices of locally assembled vehicles have shot
through the roof even after paying manufacturers in foreign currency. The
answer therefore, lies in improving efficiencies and not overly protecting
inefficient producers or manufacturers.
While imports might decline for a while as the market digests the latest
initiatives, the market will sooner rather than later devise ways of getting
around the system since regulation alone cannot nurse the country's
problems. The new requirement might inadvertently create a huge demand for
foreign exchange on the illegal parallel market, which would be transmitted
via imported inflation, since the extra cost incurred in sourcing the scarce
resource would be passed onto the final consumer.
Or worse still, the country's ports of entry could soon be deserted as
people resort to smuggling.
The crisis the country has found itself in calls for sobriety couched in a
manner that takes into account the entire economic and political framework
as opposed to the current hodgepodge approach devoid of the understanding of
where exactly the economic wheels came off.
Granted, the US$400 000 allegedly being siphoned out of the currency market
to sustain motor industries in other countries is too big an amount to
ignore, more so when the country is faced with crippling hard currency
shortages to avert famine and secure energy imports to keep the wheels of
Toying around with the symptoms is however, not the solution.
National Agenda with Bornwell Chakaodza
Core of SADC executive secretary's visit lies in getting fundamentals right
THE Southern African Development Community (SADC) extraordinary summit held
recently in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania was not a failure after all.
As mandated by the 10 heads of state and government who attended that
summit, the SADC executive secretary Tomaz Salamao is here in Zimbabwe to
study the economic situation with a view to seeing how the region can assist
the country to recover economically.
On the political front, the summit mandated President Thabo Mbeki of South
Africa to mediate in the Zimbabwean crisis and he is reported to have
already appointed a negotiating team to engage the ruling ZANU PF party and
the opposition MDC in search of a lasting solution.
My open letter to President Mbeki and SADC leaders in their entirety and my
message to SADC executive secretary, Tomaz Salamao, is that unless they get
the political and economic fundamentals right, both missions are doomed to
fail. Politics and the economy are intertwined here and there is no way the
two can be separated. To me, this is the bottom line.
It is very important to identify issues really at stake in our present
situation. There is no way Salamao can propose measures to assist in the
economic recovery of the country in the absence of political normalisation.
In my book, the two things are not even two sides of the same coin - they
are firmly located on the same side of the one coin. That is how firmly
inter-connected they are!
The point must be made that the source of Zimbabwe's economic crisis is the
abnormal political environment that we have at the present moment. And the
holistic solution that we are all seeking is one that is rooted in the
acceptance of this simple fact. Anyone trying to navigate the murky waters
of Zimbabwe must separate fact from fiction.
Blaming President George W Bush and Prime Minister Tony Blair as the root
causes of our crisis as government spin-doctors are fond of doing and saying
day in and day out is a mantra which has lost all meaning. The political
leadership here is the author of our problems and it will equally be, by and
large, the author of the solution that we are seeking.
I do not minimise the problems that President Mbeki and Salamao will face
but all I am trying to do is to appeal to them to have a correct
perspective, a correct interpretation of the issues in this country. Facing
the truth and having a sense of perspective can free us of needless fears
and give us hope and assurance for the future.
Nobody quarrelled with the need and the imperative of correcting a
historical injustice as far as land reform is concerned. What people
quarrelled with - Zimbabweans and non-Zimbabweans alike - was the
methodology and the way the whole exercise was carried out. Things could
have been done differently and certainly much better than the way they were
done. But that is all now water under the bridge. The country must now move
on. And this is the point that I am making here.
Looking back at past glories such as the war of liberation and the like does
not add value in any way to looking forward, which is what is important at
this stage. The challenge that President Mbeki and the SADC executive
secretary face is to make sure that they do not sorely play to the beat of
the propaganda machine emanating from government and the ruling party. It is
important to listen to all sides including government, the opposition
parties and Zimbabwean civil society as a whole.
There is a lot of dishonest journalism here particularly in the
government-owned media. The issue here is not of regime change or anything
like that. The issue is one of governance and the pressing need to have a
political settlement which enables a government of a new Zimbabwe to be
accepted both by its own people and the entire international community. And
on both points, we have been failed by those currently in power.
Unless South Africa and the SADC regional bloc as a whole takes the lead in
helping Zimbabweans find a solution, the whole world will be paralysed as in
fact it is paralysed now. There is obviously a limit to what the UK, the USA
and the EU can do in this regard, as in a number of ways, these countries
have actually played into the hands of President Mugabe and the ruling party
by their injudicious statements at times. And it is in this regard that the
people of Zimbabwe to a very large extent welcome the two SADC initiatives
as something that is bound to breathe the much needed new life into the
country's economic and political conundrum.
What is important now is action on the part of SADC. Action based on talking
to and listening to all Zimbabweans, not just the government and the ruling
party. I want to underscore the importance of President Mbeki and Tomaz
Salamao listening to other Zimbabweans beyond the government and the ruling
party. President Mugabe has become the region's nemesis and I think it is
crucial that SADC employs both the carrot and the stick in dealing with him.
I am absolutely convinced myself that SADC knows what it has to do to
transform the political and economic fortunes of this country but for some
reason is unable and unwilling to take the bull by its horns. But for many
of us here, the new mood in SADC to try to engage all stakeholders is
something that we hope will finally enable the region to see the light and
begin to walk hand-in-hand with the people of Zimbabwe.
Zimbabwe is gravely ill at the moment and a potent cure has to be found. In
terms of helping Zimbabweans, it is on President Mbeki and SADC, by and
large, that most eyes are turned to in our hour of need. Every hour, minute
that passes deepens the sense of gloom and pessimism here despite the
resilience and determination of Zimbabweans to go on with life and the
feeling that something better will come.
It would appear that President Mugabe's government has entered a new phase
of brutality going by what has been happening here in the last few weeks. It
need not be like that. And there is no sign either that the government is
bending to pressure from within the country and outside. For SADC therefore,
not only is it a race against time but it is also a mountain to climb.
The nation of Zimbabwe waits with bated breath for results from the current
SADC initiatives in order to rescue us from a situation which is going from
bad to worse. It is in this context that SADC must not become a public
relations machine for the government of Zimbabwe but a vehicle for the
resolution of our crisis. Analysing the problems that we presently face as
Zimbabweans from the perspective of the ruling party only can lead us to a
blind alley in the search for solutions.
Even in the darkest days, there is a silver lining. It is our fervent hope
therefore that President Mbeki and the SADC executive secretary Tomaz
Salamao will do the right thing at the right time. In these two gentlemen,
we place our hopes and trust.
The biggest mistake ever
EDITOR - I was most impressed by Professor Ken Mufuka's assessment of the
issues affecting our beloved homeland. I was also impressed by his analysis
of the position and reasons for the stance of the South African government.
On Cde Oppah Muchinguri's issues of dress, may I point you to a Karanga
saying that goes: "Chaindira muzhira chatsunga". Perhaps that explains the
loyalty and patronage of President Mugabe's loyalists. There is perhaps a
seriousness behind all that ridiculous praise-singing and howling.
I personally believe the biggest problem with the opposition and all those
who rightly want change in Zimbabwe, is that they have grossly
underestimated President Mugabe and how far he is willing to go to retain
Perhaps, I can explain to you in the context of my experience. I did my
undergraduate and masters studies in communist Czechoslovakia. In 1989, when
the Velvet Revolution took place, I was starting my masters studies. By then
I had been in the country for four years. In all these years it was evident
that the Communist Party was hated and despised by the majority of people.
In fact, there were only 560 000 communists in a country of 15 million.
In all my time there till the events of 1989, the Communists were telling
people that they and only they would improve the lives of the people. The
truth though was that nobody believed them. It was clear that something was
going to give. I was a friend of the son of a big fish in the system - a
director of a manufacturing research institute, and used to spend weekends
in his country dacha or chalupa with him and his two sons. Even these
friends had long figured that the Communists were never going to give up
power. As you know, communism is history there. Let me push the clock
I then went back to Zimbabwe, then came to Manchester to do further studies.
It so happens that the company I work for has two plants in the former
Czechoslovakia, one in the present Czech and another on the Hungarian border
in the Slovak Republic. Because of this, I found myself back there after 15
years. The Slovak economy is the fastest growing in Europe and unemployment
is two percent. Here is my point:
In 2006, the last rulers of communist Czechoslovakia, Milos Jakes and Vasil
Bilak were interviewed on how they see the situation today as compared to
then. They said something startling. In 2006, both men still believe they
were overthrown by the CIA working with the Russians. They also believe that
the vast majority of people like them and would reverse the clock. As I
said, Bratislava and Praha have been literally transformed from the time I
graduated in 1992. They look like the Viennna, which used to look like
paradise to us at the time.
When Havel, Klaus etc took power in 1989, the debate then was what to do
with a party which had destroyed what had once been one of the most
sophisticated societies. Because in a democracy it was difficult to justify
banning the Communist Party, they concluded that it was impossible to reform
and change these people. So it was decided to make it illegal to preach the
ideals of communism. They therefore, realised that these guys had been so
power drunk to embrace democracy as most people see it.
May I take this moment to thank Professor Mufuka for his thought-provoking
'Letter from America.' column. Keep up the good work and wishing you good
health. We all pray for a better Zimbabwe.
Dr Torevaseyi Zvidzo Shumba Chirape
EDITOR - I was saddened by the spectacle of Southern African Development
Community countries meeting to discuss the problems in Zimbabwe. When the
meeting was over the sentiments were that the West should leave Zimbabwe to
sort itself out.
Some of these states bordering Zimbabwe have experienced a crisis similar to
Zimbabwe's and now that their economies are on the mend, they would all like
to see Zimbabwe stay in this state of decay. They would want to see the
country remain isolated as they will get a bigger share of the aid budget.
Mbeki can never be our saviour
EDITOR - The letter by your correspondent, Innocent Kadungure (The Financial
Gazette, April 4) hit the mark. A lot of people do not understand that as
Zimbabweans, we are a peaceful people, but this should not suggest that we
can't take drastic action. We just do not believe in violence, but we
believe in constitutional means of effecting regime change.
Military violence has been applied in countries such as the Democratic
Republic of the Congo, Somalia and Rwanda. The consequence is usually
bloodshed and untold suffering, a situation we do not want to countenance in
Therefore, Kadungure's call for Thabo Mbeki to help us needs to be accorded
a standing ovation. Unfortunately, asking Mbeki to condemn our political
leadership is like drawing teeth. He seems oblivious of its knock-on effect
on his economy.
Long live democracy, and down with quiet diplomacy.
Dr G Matope
University of Michigan, USA
Shooting oneself in the foot
EDITOR - The statutory instrument introducing the payment of duty for
so-called luxury goods came as a surprise to many and it only shows the
insincerity of the ZANU PF government.
On the one hand, the government tells the country that the western powers
are the enemies of the state, yet on the other they compromise the
sovereignty of the country by proclaiming that the currencies of the
so-called enemy countries are now acceptable to pay for goods in Zimbabwe.
Sending used cars home was one way in which so many of the diaspora brothers
and sisters were actually helping those back home, never mind those
Zimbabwe-based car dealers whose life was largely based on this line of
All things being equal, the most sensible Zimbabwean will simply stop
importing cars into Zimbabwe, thereby, starving the fiscus of millions if
not billions of dollars in revenue. If the government had encouraged this
service, it would have continued getting a lot of money - much more than it
can ever dream of getting by charging duty in foreign currency.
From experience, perhaps many people would not mind paying for the cars in
foreign currency if the system in Zimbabwe was transparent, the problem is
it's not. One will never know how much duty to pay until the car is at the
border - everything is down to the discretion of the assessing officer
(although they say in principle there is a formula in place).
The system in use in other countries such as Ireland is transparent - duty
is calculated based on what is known as open market value for the car in
question. Everything is calculated by a computer, would-be importers can
pre-check the value of duty they will pay prior to importing cars. This
system is transparent, cuts out corruption or calculation of duty at the
discretion of the customs office.
Through your paper, could you bring to the attention of the powers-that-be
of the systems that are in place in other countries and hope you will be
able to influence policies in Zimbabwe for the common good of the country.
Israel G. Chidavaenzi
Prize is in sight
EDITOR - The people of Zimbabwe should be commended for maintaining peace
and prayerfully waiting for God to work things out. In most countries it
would have been a sorry sight of war.
ZANU PF has changed so much from the liberation warriors they profess to be.
But we should have known better when they made us sing "gandanga haridye
derere mukoma rinogwara". That right should have been a sign that we had
some who took advantage of the war for their own sake.
Aluta continua Zimbabwe. The fight for economic empowerment and social
justice is right here. Let's keep our eyes on the prize. The mighty will
Trinidad and Tobago