Friday, 13 April 2012 10:09
PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe returned home from Singapore yesterday morning after
being away for close to a fortnight but uncharacteristically chose to remain
tight-lipped on latest reports about his ill-health or why he was away for
so long, forcing cabinet to be postponed on two occasions.
Mugabe, who turned 88 in February, arrived on a chartered flight around 7am,
amid speculation he was critically ill and had been battling for his life in
a Singapore hospital.
The online publication which originated or fuelled the reports yesterday
admitted they were unfounded and apologised to Mugabe and his family while
firing its editors, although that would not stop the storm of speculation on
his health, especially ahead of elections. Senior Zanu PF officials close to
him say he has prostate cancer and other complications.
Mugabe landed at the Harare International Airport accompanied by his wife
Grace. He was met by several senior government officials including
Vice-President Joice Mujuru and service chiefs.
Unusually, Mugabe did not address reporters to clear the air on arrival,
raising fears he wanted to avoid scrutiny. He chatted with Mujuru and
officials before being whisked away. Media, Information and Publicity
minister Webster Shamu remained behind scolding journalists for spreading
“lies” and wishing the president ill. Shamu on Wednesday summoned editors
over the issue.
Upon his arrival, Mugabe proceeded to chair cabinet which did not meet last
week and this week on Tuesday as scheduled. Ministers who attended cabinet
said he looked relatively well and largely ignored reports of his failing
“The president was calm and did not raise the issue at the meeting,” a
senior minister said. “He appeared not bothered at all and it seems those
stories were just much ado about nothing.”
Another minister indicated that the media was allegedly “taken for a ride”
by “cunning intelligence operatives” who wanted to manage the situation
through spreading intentionally inaccurate or false information.
“This has happened before. The media was duped. This was a planned and
deliberate act of deception through spreading false information to manage
Mugabe’s health situation. It’s called black propaganda and is often widely
used by intelligence services when they want to deal with certain
situations,” one minister said. “By so doing they have managed to discredit
the media and, at least for now, kill the story.”
Mugabe — who has visited the Asian country eight times last year for medical
check-ups — has often declared himself as fit as a fiddle after such reports
and ridiculed his opponents. However, yesterday he did not.
The international media has been awash with reports that Mugabe was on his
death-bed in Singapore. Most media houses picked the story from an online
publication, The Zimbabwe Mail, which yesterday apologised for the
Leighton Mushaninga, the executive chairman of Zimbabwe News & Media (Pvt)
Ltd, which runs the media house yesterday announced his company had made
senior editorial changes.
Despite the arrival of the seemingly fit Mugabe, doubts about whether he
would be a viable candidate for Zanu PF in the next election have continued
because of the combined effects of advanced age and ill-health.
Mugabe is understood to be suffering from various ailments, including
prostate cancer which has spread to other parts of the body.
Sources this week revealed he had had gone to Singapore for eye pressure
treatment. Eye pressure is caused by a build-up of fluids inside the eye.
He has also been spotted with swollen ankles - a condition medical experts
say is common in the elderly, especially after standing for a long time.
Despite his advanced age and ill-health, Mugabe and his backers in the Joint
Operations Command (JOC) and hardline politburo members want elections held
JOC brings together the army, police and intelligence service chiefs who
were widely blamed for the bloody presidential election run-off in 2008.
One of the reasons Mugabe’s backers are calling for elections this year is
partly because they fear he may not be fit enough to run for office if
elections were held next year, particularly in the third quarter.
Mugabe reportedly ran for office in 2008 against the advice of his personal
doctor insisting he would retire after winning the election. His doctor said
to have been flown into the country to monitor his health during grueling
campaign period as it was feared he could falter in the process due to
Zanu PF secretary for administration Didymus Mutasa said Mugabe would remain
the party’s candidate, insisting he was strong enough to run for another
“If the president was unwell we would be worried about his health but those
reports are totally false,” said Mutasa. “The reports of his illness are
exaggerated and nauseating. Those who say he is ill are the ones who are
sick in their minds. The president is raring to go.”
Political analyst Ibbo Mandaza believes running again would be too taxing
for Mugabe. “First of all, I don’t believe there will be elections this year
because the processes which have to take place before elections would take
at least a year,” said Mandaza. “When the elections are held, it’s highly
unlikely that Mugabe would be able to survive the hectic campaign. In fact,
it is madness for anyone to want him to run,” he said.
Mandaza said “deep inside” most people in Zanu PF did not want Mugabe to run
for office in the next election.
Another political analyst and University of Zimbabwe lecturer Professor
Eldred Masunungure said Zanu PF was taking a major risk by placing Mugabe as
“Certainly on age alone, I would imagine that anyone at 88 would have
difficulties running around in a presidential campaign,” said Masunungure.
“If you consider the rigours in campaigning nationwide, even for a young
person who is fully fit, it’s an onerous and difficult task. It’s a mentally
and physically taxing exercise and, therefore, Zimbabweans are justified to
question if he is capable.”
MDC-T spokesman Douglas Mwonzora said while it was not his party’s
responsibility to choose a candidate for Zanu PF, Mugabe was now “too old”
“The next election is about the future of Zimbabwe and Mugabe cannot be
trusted with the future,” said Mwonzora. “At 88, Mugabe represents the past
and this is how he should be viewed by any serious-minded Zimbabweans.”
Friday, 13 April 2012 10:06
INSPECTOR-GENERAL of the Zimbabwe National Army Brigadier-General Herbert
Chingono has allegedly been restricted to his Concession farm after the army
withdrew his official vehicle and barred him from using his offices at KG
VI. He faces charges related to the WikiLeaks cable in which he disparaged
defence forces chief General Constantine Chiwenga in a meeting with United
States ambassador Charles Ray in 2010.
A WikiLeaks cable revealed that Chingono met Ray in the company of
Brigadier-General Fidelis Satuku in January 2010 and quotes him saying
Chiwenga was a “political general” and has “very little practical military
experience or expertise”.
A close military source said Chingono’s official vehicle was withdrawn last
month and he was asked to stop reporting for work while he remained at his
farm until the matter was finalised.
“The army took away Chingono’s office keys and official vehicle sometime in
March,” said the source. “He was ordered to remain at his Concession farm
until allegations against him are cleared.”
Another source at KG VI confirmed Chingono was no longer “working” at the
army headquarters but did not give details.Zimbabwe Defence Forces
spokesperson Colonel Overson Mugwisi could neither confirm nor deny the
issue and referred all inquiries to army spokesperson Colonel Alphios
“If I comment on the matter I would have jumped the gun,” said Mugwisi. “Get
a comment from Makotore who handles army issues,” he said.
However, in September last year, Mugwisi confirmed to the Zimbabwe
Independent the two army generals were under investigation. Military
sources then said Chingono and Satuku could be charged with “treason or
subversion” for secretly meeting Ray to discuss Zimbabwe’s “sensitive
military issues” and politics in contravention of the Defence Forces Act,
their code of conduct and ethics.
“WikiLeaks is a new phenomenon. But in internal matters to do with
discipline, we investigate and then take appropriate action,” Mugwisi said
then. “Where there is need for public consumption of the findings, we make
our findings public. In this case we are likely to do that.”
Contacted, Makotore said he would not comment over the phone and asked for
questions in writing, but he had not responded at the time of going to
press. Many senior Zanu PF officials were implicated in the WikiLeaks
scandal, demanding Mugabe must go.
Friday, 13 April 2012 10:05
ZANU PF has set up a unique campaign team in a bid to woo young voters ahead
of crucial elections it is desperately pushing for this year, with or
without a new constitution.
The team, which comprises university graduates, lawyers and businesspeople,
has already been dispatched to drum up support for the party, whose future
is hanging by a thread.
According to documents seen by the Zimbabwe Independent, the team will work
directly with President Robert Mugabe.
“Zanu PF has put together a youth-centred election team comprising members
of the youth league and professionals working for the party to spearhead its
campaign in the forthcoming harmonised elections,” one document reads. “The
team is intending to appeal to the youth vote and counter the influence of
the MDC-T, especially in the urban areas.
“The team will directly work under President Mugabe and its members and the
President will address youth-focused star rallies across the country. The
team will also lead door-to-door campaigns throughout the country.”
Members of the national youth league in the team include deputy youth
secretary and politburo member Eddison Chakanyuka, secretary for
administration Leslie Ncube, political commissar Mike Gava, secretary for
indigenisation Innocent Hamandishe and deputy secretary for administration
The other members are Harare youth league chairman Jim Kunaka, director in
the office of the secretary for administration Charity Moyo, director for
indigenisation and economic empowerment Kurai Masenyama, and deputy director
transport and welfare Balldon Mandengu.
Some of the people outside the party structures Zanu PF wants to rope in to
the team are executive director of the Zimbabwe Youth Council Livingstone
Dzikira and Harare lawyer and Hwange board chairperson Farai Mutamangira.
Zanu PF’s campaign mantra for the general election is empowerment of
indigenous Zimbabweans –– a message which the party is preaching to attract
To woo young voters, the party is awarding them state-funded business
ventures. More than 6 000 youths have so far benefited from the youth
Gava told the Independent this week that: “We hope to change people’s
perceptions that Zanu PF youths are violent. We want this election campaign
to be done in a peaceful environment that is why we have included young
professionals and university graduates in the youth league.
“This team was set up after the realisation that the youths make up a huge
percentage of the electorate.”
Following dismal performances by the party’s old guard in certain provinces
like Matabeleland, Masvingo and Manicaland, Zanu PF is planning to field
mostly young candidates in a move aimed at winning the youth vote.
In addition to wooing young voters, Zanu PF has come up with strategies
targeting churches, businesspeople, women, communal farmers and urban
The campaign team is being set up amid fierce infighting in the party ahead
Friday, 13 April 2012 10:04
THE MDC-T has said it will resist Zanu PF machinations aimed at forcing it
out of the coalition government through the premeditated snub of Prime
Minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s Council of Ministers’ meeting last week.
Zanu PF ministers last week snubbed the Council of Ministers’ meeting called
by Tsvangirai in a well calculated move intended to prove the premier’s
impotence in the coalition government.
Party spokesperson Douglas Mwonzora said the move was meant to provoke
Tsvangirai with the hope that the MDC-T would disengage from the government
and therefore opening the way for calling of early elections.
“They hoped that if they undermined the Prime Minister, the MDC-T would pull
out of the coalition,” said Mwonzora. “The Prime Minister is not going to
allow such provocation to push him to make such a decision,” he said.
Zanu PF has of late been trying to ram the MDC formations into fast-tracking
the constitution-making process with the aim of holding elections before the
end of the year and without full implementation of agreed political reforms
under the GPA.
Mwonzora said the MDC-T would only walk away from the coalition arrangement
after achieving three critical issues the parties signed the GPA for.
“The MDC-T entered into the coalition arrangement to ameliorate the economic
suffering, reduce the impunity and violence from the levels it had reached
in 2008 and to bring in a constitutional dispensation for the people,”
Zanu PF ministers have been systematically bunking the Council of Ministers’
meetings since the formation of the coalition government as well as
deliberately avoiding implementing agreed reforms to try and collapse the
“The behaviour is basically arrogant and a display of childish indiscipline.
Zanu PF ministers with the responsibility to bring about the legislative
reforms are deliberately delaying implementation of agreed issues,” Mwonzora
The MDC-T has also been subjected to systematic political persecution and
politically-motivated trials with its rank and file members being frequently
arrested on trumped up charges and refused bail.
Presently, 29 party activists, including national youth chairperson Solomon
Madzore, are languishing in remand prison facing murder allegations.
Mwonzora said the MDC was concerned by the arbitrary arrests and was
engaging partners in the government on a way forward.
Friday, 13 April 2012 09:53
ZESA Holdings, which now has a notorious habit of sending customers
disproportionately huge bills and cracking down on the poor while allowing
VIPs to consume electricity without paying, has come under fire from the
Competition and Tariff Commission (CTC) for its exorbitant charges not in
line with services the utility is offering.
An anti-monopoly investigation by the CTC unearthed excessive pricing of
electricity by Zesa which the commission feels has a direct adverse effect
on the operations of businesses in the country and on consumers’ disposable
The CTC launched an investigation into allegations of abuse of monopoly in
the production and distribution of electricity by Zesa and its subsidiaries
Zimbabwe Power Company and the Zimbabwe Electricity Transmission and
Distribution Company ZETDC. Although it charges are exorbitant, Zesa’s
services are unreliable.
Among some of its findings, the commission unearthed that the pricing
formula used to calculate the price of electricity did not inculcate
discipline of efficiency, and the cost of sales comprised both power costs
from local power stations and imports.
The investigation also observed that the figure representing the imported
power component in the calculations was much higher than the actual costs
because it was based on budgets and estimates were consistently used even
when actual contract supply prices had been concluded.
“Operational costs have a very high fixed proportion with salaries as a high
component,” the report reads. “A more detailed study would show the
activities which caused these costs and the value they bring. The impact of
business culture on cost levels is also not known as this tends to lead to
high costs where transparency is weak.”
“It was evident during the investigation that assets are operational below
capacity, the calculation includes all fixed assets yet there was some under
utilisation of the assets.”
The commission says from its findings, only 47% of established capacity was
being utilised by Zesa.
“The use of low load factor in calculating the unit cost of power has the
effect of increasing the unit price charge. This is not in line with best
practice,” the report says.
Apart from this, the commission also noted Zesa was not able to account for
the quantity of power lost during transmission and distribution.
The report says an analysis of transmission and distribution losses showed
material losses ranging from 20% to 24% of power supplied.
“The normal acceptable loss should be 10%. This was explained as being
attributable to old transformers and power thefts that are not registered in
meters,” the report says.
“An analysis of cash received by the generating companies and how it was
applied is quite revealing. For the 18-month period which was covered by the
investigation, it was observed that most of the cash received was spent on
Hwange operations even though there was no performance. It would seem the
organisation was allocating cash to cover fixed costs, mainly human
resources related costs even though electricity generation was not taking
place at a reasonable level.”
The report recommends that tariff levels be determined on the basis of what
the market can realistically pay for. It also says the tariffs industry and
commerce pay should also be affordable to enable economic recovery.
“It is recommended that pricing of services should be decided on a policy
basis and not left to the companies and organisations on their own,” it
“The fact that the organisation can send bills every month which are known
to be higher than incomes of their consumers, and may not necessarily be
recoverable, should raise concern. It is notable that external auditors of
some of these organisations have reasonably forced the organisations to
provide for bad debts as it is not prudent to account for some of the debts
as assets carrying value.”
The commission says there is need for an independent study to restructure
service providers in order to impose transformational pressure on them to
rid them of poor practices. Its report notes that while Zesa recovered full
costs, there was no matching service.
“Bearing in mind that the fixed costs of these organisations are very high
in comparison with variable costs, it is logical that fixed costs should
have been trimmed in line with the level of service that was provided and
the level of economic performance,” it said.
The commission also observes that the capacity of utility providers was
designed to support a certain level of economic activity. For instance,
Zimbabwe’s GPD of US$9 billion in 1999 has not been achieved since
dollarisation with last year’s GDP estimated at US$8 billion.
“Wealth created was therefore not able to support infrastructure supported
by a GDP of US$9 billion. The utilities are high fixed cost/ low variable
costs organisations. During the period, fixed costs, mainly human resources,
were not rationalised to be at the level of services provided, yet their
tariff structures carried a full load,” it says.
The CTC has also launched an investigation into allegations that TelOne, the
state-owned fixed line operator, was also abusing its monopoly while the
cities of Harare and Bulawayo were abusing their positions in the water
utilities services and administration of rates and levies system.
Thursday, 12 April 2012 18:56
ZANU PF’s mobilisation drive for the next elections has failed to yield
significant results amid revelations that the party had only officially
gained 18 000 new members countrywide.
According to a circular that was recently sent to provincial chairpersons by
the party’s political commissar Webster Shamu which showed party cards sold,
Zanu PF now has 597 849 card-carrying members, up from 579 312 announced at
the December conference in Bulawayo.
Shamu wrote that out of 1 270 000 cards sent to provinces, 672 171 were
returned while 597 849 were snapped up. The statistics showed that
Matabeleland provinces snubbed the membership cards while the largest number
sold was recorded in Mashonaland provinces.
In a central committee report that was tabled at last year’s conference in
Bulawayo, Zanu-PF sold 9 810 membership cards out of the 35 000 but the
recent update indicated that the number has only marginally increased to 10
248, while in Matabeleland North it rose from 8 639 to 8 802. In
Matabeleland South there was also a slight increase from 13 367 to 14 466.
The highest number of cards sold was recorded in Midlands where the number
increased from 166 032 to 198 532, while in Mashonaland East 170 326 people
are now official Zanu PF members, up from 101 198.
Shamu wrote that an inter-departmental team would be dispatched to the
provinces to recover all outstanding cards while he also warned that party
officials who misappropriated the money would face severe punishment.
“Again it must be emphasised that 2012 being an election year, the party
must go into these elections with a leadership that has a fresh mandate from
the people,” he said, in reference to election of districts and provincial
executives before the general election.
It has also emerged that although President Robert Mugabe is pushing for a
referendum in May to pave way for an early election, Zanu PF has failed to
beat the February deadline for completion of District Coordinating Committee
(DCC) elections which was set for end of February.
In Bulawayo, DCC elections were put on hold due to serious infighting
rocking the province. The situation is the same in Matabeleland North.
“DCC elections in all provinces shall be conclusively held during and within
the month of February 2012 without fail. We appeal to all provinces to
ensure the successful completion of the DCC elections in February,” wrote
Shamu in a confidential circular to provincial chairpersons, party chair
Simon Khaya Moyo, administration secretary Didymus Mutasa, and Legal Affairs
secretary Emmerson Mnangagwa.
Efforts to get a comment from Shamu were fruitless as his mobile phone went
Thursday, 12 April 2012 18:54
AGRICULTURE, Mechanisation and Irrigation Development minister Joseph Made
said the country’s agricultural sector was losing between 15% and 25% of its
yearly crop yields due to aging and debilitated storage facilities.
Made told the Zimbabwe Independent this week that archaic storage facilities
continued to hamper agricultural growth since most of them were constructed
during the colonial era and the government had failed to refurbish or build
new facilities because of limited financial capacity.
Made said the high cost of electricity coupled with erratic power supplies
continued to push up operational costs were also responsible for the
resultant crop losses in the sector.
“It is practically impossible for farmers to be productive and profitable
with electricity charges of US$700 per hectare,” said Made. “The charges are
too high,” he said.
He said in the 1990s the agricultural sector would pay for electricity twice
a year after harvest through a stop order system and this was one of the
contributing factors to high productivity during that era.
He said there was a need for the private sector to invest in the
refurbishment of agricultural storage facilities and equipment.
Made revealed that a total of 700 000 hectares of crops completely failed
this year because of poor rainfall and the untimely distribution of inputs
He also blamed climate change saying it had affected rainfall patterns.
The largely drought-ravaged areas include all the Matabeleland provinces and
some parts of Masvingo, Manicaland and Mashonaland.
He said this year’s yield would also be affected bya reduction in the total
According to an Agritex survey,about 247 000 hectares of maize was planted
countrywide by December 31 last year compared to 379 993 hectares in the
However, Made said Zimbabwe was prepared for the drought and would soon be
releasing maize from its strategic reserves to affected regions, but would
also continue importing maize from neighbouring countries.
There is no meaningful surplus maize in the region.
Thursday, 12 April 2012 18:49
ZIMBABWEANS living in South Africa sent home about US$847 million in
remittances last year while trade between the two countries was worth about
R17,5 billion (about US$2,3 billion) during the same period.
South African advocacy group People Against Suffering, Oppression and
Poverty (Passop) says the remittances were one of the most important sources
of foreign currency inflows for Zimbabwe.
Passop’s findings, which were submitted to the South African Reserve Bank
and Department of International Development and Cooperation on Wednesday,
showed that Zimbabwe imported mainly minerals and fuel worth about R14,5
billion (US$1,8 billion), while exports to South Africa amounted to R2,9
billion (US$361,3 million).
“Taking into account that an estimated two million Zimbabweans migrated to
South Africa in the past decade, about R6,8 billion (about US$847 million)
was remitted in 2011, making remittances one of the most important sources
of foreign currency inflows for Zimbabwe,” Passop says.
Passop notes the remittances made up between 11% and 15% of Zimbabwe’s gross
domestic product (GDP). However, it has also pointed out that the mass
deportations being carried out by the South African government posed a
serious threat to the livelihoods of up to two-thirds of the Zimbabwean
“South Africa’s renewed practice of mass deportations is therefore a serious
threat to the livelihoods of thousands of families in Zimbabwe who are
dependent on remittances,” it says.
According to Passop findings, three quarters of migrants preferred using
informal channels such as cross-border bus drivers and friends to remit
money, rather than through formal channels.
Only 15% of surveyed migrants said they used primarily formal remittance
channels, such as official money transfer operators (7%), postal orders
(7,5%) and bank transfers (0,5%).
The Passop report says calculating the ratio of remittance inflows to GDP
and based on the International Monetary Fund (IMF)’s GDP projections, this
meant worldwide remittance flows to Zimbabwe currently amounted to between
28% and 40% of Zimbabwe’s GDP. The report says in the South Africa-Zimbabwe
corridor, remittance flows are considerable, in large part due to the big
number of Zimbabwean migrants in the neighbouring country.
“The most commonly used approach in the existing literature estimates
remittance flows as a product of the stock of migrants abroad, the
percentage of these migrants that remit, and the average annual amount that
they remit. Given this simple framework, the assumptions for each parameter
can be deduced from survey results and estimations,” the report says.
“The total number of Zimbabweans living in South Africa is estimated to be
between 1,5 million and two million. Based on this and other studies done,
we assume that 85% of Zimbabwean migrants in South Africa remit. Finally,
estimations based on this and other survey data suggest that the average
annual amount remitted, including both cash and the value of goods, is about
R4000. Given these assumptions, the rough estimate of the likely size of
remittance flows from South Africa to Zimbabwe last year amounts to between
R5,1 billion to R6,8 billion or equivalent to between US$680 million to
Taking into account that at least a third of Zimbabwean migrants live in
other foreign countries, predominantly the United Kingdom and Botswana,
according to the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the total
remittance flows into Zimbabwe are likely to be between R7,5 billion to
R11,3 billion (US$1 billion to US$1,5 billion).
This estimate is supported by a working paper published by the UNDP, which
put the figure at US$1,4 billion.
The IMF forecast for private cash transfers, which includes an estimate of
informal flows but excludes in-kind transfers, was US$971 million for 2009.
Given that slightly over 40% of flows are likely to be in-kind transfers,
the IMF prediction falls well within this range.
“Finally, considering that a recent study of remittance behaviour of
Zimbabweans living in northern England, it is estimated that US$940 million
was sent from the UK alone in 2007. This rough estimate of the overall
volume of remittance flows to Zimbabwe might still be on the conservative
Thursday, 12 April 2012 18:45
THE Cold Storage Company (CSC) is now targeting regional markets in a move
aimed at resuscitating its sluggish operations after exports to the European
Union (EU) were banned in 2001 following an outbreak of foot-and-mouth
At its peak, CSC boasted an annual export quota of 9 100 tonnes of beef to
the EU market earning the country about US$45 million a year.
Officials at the parastatal said this week planned exports to regional
markets could resume in the next few weeks.
“Preliminary scouting of markets in the region reveal that Mozambique,
Angola and the DRC are areas which could be worthwhile to explore,” the
Initial exports are set at 50 tonnes of beef to the three markets. After a
two-month trial run, CSC would make a firm commitment to supply the markets
on a regular basis.
CSC’s role in the local beef industry marginally picked up last year as a
result of close to 45 000 Botswana cattle slaughtered at the company’s
Bulawayo premises after the governments signed a memorandum of understanding
allowing for the importation of cattle for immediate slaughter to curtail
the spread of foot-and-mouth disease, particularly along the border between
the two countries.
CSC used to operate southern Africa’s biggest slaughter plants but ran into
problems in the mid-1990s when its market share significantly plummeted
after the government ended its monopoly.
From 1988 to 1996, CSC’s market-share declined to 45% from 88% before almost
completely surrendering the market to private players.
Controversial agrarian reforms pursued by the government in 2000 also
plunged it into further decline after hundreds of productive white-owned
commercial farms, which provided more than 70% of beasts for slaughter, were
expropriated by the government for resettlement.
Although the company is now set for commercialisation, the government has
never entertained the notion of loosening its grip on the poorly-performing
parastatal by bringing in technical and equity partners to inject fresh
capital into the business. –– Staff Writer.
Thursday, 12 April 2012 18:41
IT’S incredible that in less than a decade, China has overtaken the United
States as Africa’s single largest trading partner.
By 2009 roughly six years after adopting a more aggressive expansionist
policy, Sino-Africa trade stood at about US$90 billion, surpassing US and
European markets which at the time were battling a global recession. While
the West struggled to save banks and industry from the devastating impact of
the economic downturn, African economies grew and continue to grow rapidly —
thanks in part to China. This confirms a growing belief that Africa is going
to be the future centre of global growth, like China currently is.
All over the continent China’s industrial footprint can be seen in the
construction, energy and mining sectors, but along with the successful
Chinese model of development come serious problems.
From Sudan, Cameroon, DRC to Angola, down to Zambia and Zimbabwe, stories of
problematic Chinese-African labour relations have made headlines. Often
Chinese employers, who are used to cheap labour practices, are accused of
overworking, under-paying and ill-treating their employees.
While disputes are a common feature of labour under capitalist conditions,
what draws global media attention to China in Africa is the sometimes brutal
boss-employee model practised by the continent’s new imperial masters.
Although China has come a long way in its domestic labour relations, mass
social unrest, worker exploitation and walkouts over pay show the ugly side
of the Red Dragon’s rapid industrialisation.
Cheap labour has entrenched exploitative labour practices which are now
being exported to different countries around the world, some of which have
poor labour records of their own. China is no longer just exporting mainly
cheap goods, but also cheap labour practices.
Chinese exploitation and ill-treatment of workers, sometimes like slaves, is
rampant across the continent, from Cape to Cairo.
For instance, in October 2010, two Chinese managers opened fire on hundreds
of protesting Zambian miners at Collum Coal Mine.
The managers claimed it was in self-defence and the case was dropped.
The decision not to pursue the matter implied that there was no justice for
Zambians demonstrating against the US$4 per day wage and unsafe working
conditions because China invests more than US$1 billion a year in
infrastructure projects in Zambia.
In Zimbabwe a similar pattern of brutal iniquity exists between the workers,
the ruling elite and the Chinese investors and their managers.
Arguably, the most well-known case involves Anjin Investments, a
controversial diamond venture between Zimbabwe’s security establishment, the
army, police and intelligence services and Chinese investors.
Through Anjin, top political and security figures have reportedly staked
their claim to Marange diamond fields. This has contributed to lack of
transparency and accountability in the Marange diamond mining activities.
Diamonds’ contribution to the fiscus remain low due to lack of
Commenting on the structure of Anjin’s management, Farai Maguwu, director of
the Marange-based Centre for Research and Development once said: “Some very
senior military personnel and well placed politicians are directly involved
in the mining operations of Anjin. The involvement of the army in diamond
mining in Marange is the saddest thing that has happened to the find of the
Extensive research by international organisations such as Human Rights Watch
(HRW) and Global Witness shows that since its mining venture began in
Zimbabwe in 2009, a litany of abuses have also characterised Anjin’s
In a report released in August 2011, HRW noted with concern that “Zimbabwe
police and private security guards are shooting, beating and unleashing
attack dogs on poor, local unlicensed miners”.
It’s alarming that such violent methods of policing mines have become
habitual practice in Marange since 2008 when 20 000 small-scale miners
invaded newly-discovered fields before being removed by military force.
They were forcefully removed by soldiers and police and rights groups claim
an estimated 200 people were killed, but the government strongly denied
Deny it as they might, when thousands of people are violently displaced to
make way for companies which now control the majority of output in Marange,
it signifies a treacherous alliance between a self-serving government and
investors which have no interests of the poor at heart.
This is now the face of Anjin Investments and other diamond mining companies
On the labour relations front, Anjin management recently ended a two-day
strike by agreeing to a 25% wage increase for miners.
An unidentified representative from the striking workers committee was
quoted in the local press saying: “We are getting between US$188 and US$266
as monthly pay, yet at other mines workers are getting a minimum basic of
According to Zimbabwe’s National Employment Council for Mining’s salary
guide for 2010, the minimum wage for the lowest grade miner is US$175 for
gold producers and US$188 per month for non-gold producers.
A 25% increase from US$188 may be acceptable to the strikers for now, but
US$235 is peanuts compared to the US$500 minimum wage reportedly paid by
Wage disputes and industrial action against poor working conditions have
plagued companies like Anjin since in Zimbabwe which are likely to face more
industrial action as long as remuneration is low and Chinese bosses
“randomly beat up people” as workers allege.
In a separate incident workers at a glass-making factory in Harare accused
its Chinese owner of forcing them to work overtime for as little as US$1 per
Disturbing claims of racism have also been made against the employer by
Leonard Moyo, a former employee. Moyo told NewsDay that his former boss
“uses his own separate toilet, which he doesn’t share with blacks and if a
worker uses a water glass that he uses, he breaks it and throws it away”.
Surprisingly, the report alleged that the police were not investigating the
It’s widely accepted that racism and beatings are not the norm in
independent Zimbabwe’s business culture, but it appears some
politically-connected Chinese firms are exempted from abiding by the country’s
Maintaining good diplomatic relations is crucial to sustaining US$500
million worth of Chinese investments in Zimbabwe, but when the “great friend
of Africa” also starts to look like a brutal extractor of wealth, protecting
the rights and interests of ordinary Africans becomes critical.
The model of brutality and racism being exported by some Chinese firms and
endorsed by many African governments sets a dangerous precedent for the
continent expected to become the new centre of global growth led by Brics.
Thursday, 12 April 2012 18:00
THE mining sector is expected to contribute US$2,6 billion to national
exports this year but the figure could be higher if beneficiation plans come
to fruition, a chamber of mines official has said.
Chamber of mines tax economist Isaac Kwesu said last week , mining
contributed US$2,1 billion to national exports, representing 50% of total
exports in 2011.
If beneficiation is added to minerals, then the mining sector would account
for 60% of total exports, Kwesu said.
According to the Finance ministry, exports are expected to rise to US$5,3
billion from US$4,3 billion in 2011.
Government has said it came up with incentive schemes for beneficiation in
the platinum, gold, lithium and dimension stones sectors.
In the region, only diamond-rich countries such as Angola and Botswana have
got mineral export contributions at 90% and 83%respectively, while Zambia —
which has rich copper mines — is at 80%. However, South Africa, which has a
diverse economy, has a mining sector contribution of 35% compared to the
Sadc average of 55%.
The Zimbabwe mining sector contributes over 13% to GDP and accounts for over
50% of total exports. However, there are other indirect benefits from the
sector such as it being a catalyst for infrastructure and rural development,
employing over 45 000 people directly. By 2016 the mining sector is
expected to employ 54 000 people.
Speaking at the Chamber of Mines seminar last week, Kwesu said even though
direct contribution is at 13%, the indirect multiplier effect which would
include backward and forward linkages such as transport, supplies and
electricity generation, would take the contribution to about 18,4% of GDP.
In terms of foreign direct investment, the mining sector accounts for more
than 50% of total fixed investment and 75% of total private sector
Last year, the total tax paid by the mining sector to government is believed
to be around US$311 million, which is about 12% of the revenue collected by
government. However, the contribution would increase to around 18% should
diamond revenues be incorporated.
In total, Kwesu said government takes up to 17% of mining industry revenue
and 60% of the sectors profitability or effective tax.
In terms of the distribution of the revenue last year, salaries and wages
took up 15% with local and foreign supplies at 36%. Tax payments to
government accounted for 17% while other operating expenditures were at 21%.
Profit after tax was 11%.
The figures however do not include diamond revenues. Total dividends
received from diamonds last year were US$150 million while the mineral is
expected to contribute US$600 million.
Namibia’s mining sector has a 20% contribution to government; Zambia 13%,
South Africa 12,2%, while Tanzania is at 10%.
Kwesu, however, said there were high stake-holder expectations coupled with
gross misunderstanding of the mining economics, adding this piled pressure
on the sub-optimal mining sector. This is because the sector requires
US$5-7 billion in the next five years in order to boost capacity
utilisation. — Staff Writers.
Thursday, 12 April 2012 18:00
MINING companies are subject to a greater number of taxes than other
companies in Zimbabwe, Deloitte managing partner for Zimbabwe Tawanda Gumbo
Speaking at a Chamber of Mines seminar in Harare last week, Gumbo said mines
have three extra taxes. These being additional profits tax, royalties and
marketing commissions but are however exempt from paying the Aids Levy.
At the beginning of the year, government raised mining fees by 5 000%.
According to Statutory Instrument 11 of 2012, published on January 27 2012,
registration of diamond claims increased from US$1 million to US$5 million
with a new ground rental fee of US$3,000 per hectare per year.
Application fee for prospective coal investors has been increased from US$5
000 to US$100 000, while the registration or renewal fee is set at US$500
Mines minister Obert Mpofu said the new fees structure is to discourage
holding of exploration and mining ground for speculative purposes as well as
enable release of ground for exploration and development by serious players.
However the major reason behind the increase in the taxes is that the
government had set a US$2,4 billion contribution target and Mpofu said the
question facing the ministry is how to achieve this. The intention of the
new fees is to increase capacity utilisation.
In Zimbabwe royalties are between 1-15%. Diamond and platinum attracts the
highest charge at 15%, precious stones at 10%, gold at 7%, base metals and
industrial metals each at 2% while coal stands at 1%. The range puts
Zimbabwe on top of the list of countries charging the highest royalty rate,
particularly with regards to gold, platinum and diamonds.
Gumbo said the royalty regime has an effect of skimming off the top-line
rather than profits. It should be read in the light of quality of resources.
“The level of royalty payments implies that miners are not fully unlocking
the potential of beneficiation locally as royalties are rebated to the
extent of local beneficiation or where the minerals are sold locally,” said
Thursday, 12 April 2012 17:57
WHILE recently presenting Chemco’s financial results, TSL CEO Washington
Matsaira confirmed what many in the market had known and feared. All is not
well in the country’s manufacturing industry.
Owing to high costs of production and general lack of competitiveness,
Matsaira made the bold decision to stop manufacturing at Chemco’s Agricura
division, a once established agrochemicals manufacturer and distributor.
A month later, TA Holdings CEO Gavin Sainsbury came to the market with more
worrying news; Sable Chemicals would mothball its electrolysis plant and
import ammonia. Although Sable Chemicals had generally been struggling over
the years largely due to outdated technology at the plant — a development
that meant the company incurred huge electricity bills — many had not seen
Agricura going that route.
And with false hope emanating from last year’s CZI manufacturing survey that
envisaged capacity utilisation rising to 80% by 2015 and restoration of
manufactured exports to 50% of total exports by 2015 in line with the
Industrial Development Policy of 2012-2016, it seemed the manufacturing
sector was on a recovery path.
Among its findings, CZI noted that the cost of production remained high with
continued rises in costs of labour and utilities. The high cost of
production coupled with low levels of capacity and inferior product quality
largely rendered Zimbabwe’s manufactured products uncompetitive on
international markets, the CZI said.
At the second Buy Zimbabwe conference, CZI president Joseph Kanyekanye also
said that labour costs are not consistent with productive capacity.
“Why are we required to pay 100% wages when companies are operating at 60%
capacity?” Kanyekanye asked. “Why can we not benchmark the wage at 60% and
then the 40% becomes performance related?” he suggested, arguing that labour
costs were a hindrance to competitiveness of Zimbabwean goods.
Consequently export levels remained depressed, with export destinations
limited to the Southern Africa region.
Apart from lack of competitiveness, working capital remains a major
stumbling block and is one of the key factors negatively impacting on
business performance given the need to retool.
The survey reads in part. “This (working capital) has hampered the retooling
of the manufacturing sector. Even though the survey results show an
improvement in the number of firms that have undertaken capital investments,
the level of investment still falls far short of what is required. The MTP
document clearly states two policy targets for the manufacturing sector,
these are: increase capacity utilisation to 80% by 2015; and restoring
manufactured exports to 50% of total exports by 2015 in line with the
Industrial Development Policy of 2011-2015,”
At its peak, the manufacturing sector contributed a total of 22% to GDP and
accounted for 37% export earnings. Currently it is estimated that the sector
contributes 13% to GDP and 27% of total exports.
Analysts now fear more manufacturing companies might go the Agricura and
Chemco route. Capital is still a long way to come and with the
indigenisation drive gathering momentum is not going to help the situation,
With unemployment rates as high as 80-90%, analysts say this could present
bigger problems for the economy, pointing to even higher unemployment levels
and a worsening balance of payments position.
Currently Zimbabwe imports more than it exports.
UZ economics professor Tony Hawkins alluded to the same scenario; issues of
balance of payments, foreign and domestic debt, the imbalance between
consumption spending and savings and investment and attempts to restructure
capitalism without capital.
Hawkins said government needed to address lot of unanswered policy questions
which include rationalising land redistribution, indigenisation,
debt-relief, currency regime, privatisation, public sector reform and the
rule of law.
He said it would be difficult to expect sufficient investment to sustain an
economic growth rate of 8% without convincing rational answers to these
Hawkins sees economic growth slowing down this year owing to anticipated low
agricultural output and an uncertain global economy.
“More likely in 2012 is below trend growth of around 4% - 5% at best because
of the reportedly-low level of agricultural plantings, the uncertain global
economy, tight market liquidity conditions and domestic political tensions,”
In his monetary policy statement, Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe chief Gideon Gono
said while exports grew 30,2% to US$4,3 billion last year, imports had grown
by 23,3% to US$6,365 billion in the same period.
“This development culminated in the recurrence of an unsustainable current
account deficit estimated at US$1 887 million in 2011, representing 23,4% of
GDP. The financing of the current account balance has, however, remained a
challenge in the backdrop of subdued capital account inflows,” he said.
Gono said although the capital account is estimated to have improved from a
surplus of US$617,5 million in 2010 to a surplus US$1 219,6 million in 2011,
the inflows remain inadequate to finance the current account deficit
projected for 2011.
Accordingly, he said, the overall balance of payments (BOP) position would
remain “precariously difficult”, particularly in view of “reserve inadequacy
and sluggish growth in manufactured exports.”
As such, Zimbabwe continues to finance the balance-of-payments deficits
through the accumulation of external payment arrears.
This exceptional mode of financing the balance-of-payments militates against
initiatives geared at securing longa-term offshore financing to support
sustained economic recovery, he said.
Thursday, 12 April 2012 18:35
WHEN Theresa Jena enrolled to study sociology at a local state university
she had every reason to celebrate because she was going to fulfill her dream
of acquiring a university education.
She was even more excited upon completion of her studies and looked forward
to putting her newly-acquired knowledge and skills to practical use at the
workplace, but that has all remained just a pipedream. Her hopes and
ambitions have bitterly evaporated and been replaced by choking frustration
Four years after graduating, Jena remains under-employed and languishing in
poverty. After initially job hunting in her field of study, she finally
settled for work in fast-food outlets and supermarkets with the hope of
eventually finding a breakthrough, somehow.
Now Jena believes her dreams have all but been shattered and has lost all
hope of ever finding a job in her chosen profession in an economy which is
struggling to recover from effects of a meltdown and hyperinflation which
reached record levels in 2008.
Jena is just one of millions of Zimbabwean youths who are either
under-employed or roaming the streets in search of work. Most of the youths
have now joined the burgeoning informal sector where their education is not
being fully utilised. Estimates say above 80% of Zimbabweans are unemployed.
Millions have left the country for neighbouring countries, mainly South
Africa, and overseas in search of jobs mostly after 2000 when the economy
went into a tailspin.
Due to lack of jobs graduates, for instance in accountancy, have found
themselves driving taxis and working at fast-food outlets — something they
never imagined while still at university. This is the grim reality facing
tens of thousands of local graduates whose parents invested heavily in
education but cannot get the expected retains as their children are unable
to find appropriate jobs.
With the coalition government failing to secure economic recovery and tackle
unemployment, analysts say this has become a crisis that could overtake the
HIV/Aids pandemic in terms of its impact on youths.
When Zanu PF and the two MDC formations formed the inclusive government,
they agreed to embark on a comprehensive economic programme aimed at
resuscitating the economy and tackling unemployment.
However, the unemployment issue seems to have dropped off the government’s
agenda as the three political parties concentrate on power struggles and
squabbling over elections.
The youth unemployment rate in the formal sector rose from 70% in December
2009 to 80% in December 2010 and this was blamed on lack of job creation and
continued retrenchments by many companies. Statistics from the United
Nations Office of the Coordination Humanitarian Affairs say 480 000 people
were formally employed in Zimbabwe in 2008 out of a population of about 12
Governance specialist David Takawira said the inconsistency of the
government in implementing economic policies had resulted in its failure to
come up with a model economic blueprint which can ensure economic growth and
translate into job creation.
Takawira said the current job market has not expanded enough to cater for
new graduates and given the already high unemployment rate, there is an
emergency need for the government to engage key industries and individual
companies to boost employment creation.
Zimbabwe Youth Council director Livingstone Dzikira recently said youth
unemployment and underemployment had the potential to trigger social
instability and chaos if not addressed. This is a threat facing many
countries around the world.
Besides the economic cost, high youth unemployment and underemployment also
have social ramifications as some frustrated job-seekers resort to crime and
“Africa, Zimbabwe included, is currently facing demographic challenges with
most of its young people aged between 15 and 24 years failing to secure
jobs,” said Dzikira.
The 2012 national budget proposed that government sets up three funds to
tackle unemployment, namely the youth fund, jobs fund and a small-to-medium
However, it is unclear if these funds are operational or just another case
of empty rhetoric designed to make it look as if the government is doing
something about unemployment.
The alarming rise in unemployment has been largely blamed on the government’s
lack of vision and policy failures. Poor leadership and economic
mismanagement are also part of the problem.
Social commentator Tabani Moyo said the “password” for curbing unemployment
is economic growth.
Moyo said the government needs to actively address unemployment by luring
massive capital and investment into the economy, while tackling the collapse
of infrastructure and service delivery as well as the deterioration of
He said government, unable to collect enough revenues through taxation due
to unemployment, was burdening 5% of those in formal employment with
supporting the unemployed.
Unemployment and underemployment have also caused demographic challenges as
youths migrate from rural to urban areas, into the region and overseas.
Rural-to-urban migration causes imbalances and has negative social
The strengthening of partnerships for youth development between government,
the private sector, civic society, churches, youth organisations and other
groups through intensified compulsory apprenticeship programmes and a
complete overhaul of the educational curricula is crucial in tackling youth
In the meantime, Jena and tens of thousands of other unemployed youths now
feel as if they have to wait for a miracle for them to emerge out of
unemployment and misery.
Thursday, 12 April 2012 18:29
THE Herald on Tuesday claimed that the MDC-T had “hijacked” peace prayers
and turned them into a “platform for the gospel of regime change”.
The Herald goes on to cite a “source” who alleged that the prayers were
being organised at Harvest House, “making them a regime change agenda, which
is not neutral”.
“It has turned into a false messianic partisan platform,” we are told.
The MDC-T, the Herald sources said, had recognised that churches are key
“The idea is to go in subliminally in the holy hope to catch Zimbabwe
politically off-guard,” he said.
That is what Zanu PF was doing all this time and the MDC-T is only trying to
play catch up.
In 2010 President Robert Mugabe, despite being a Catholic, donned the white
robes of the Johane Marange Apostolic Faith sect in a bid to woo support.
This past week Zanu PF officials were in overdrive popping up in church
conferences and services across the country. Information minister, Webster
Shamu, who was a guest of honour at a Guta RaMwari (Zvimiso) Church in
Nyazura, also found time to perform at Emmanuel Makandiwa’s “Judgment Night”
vigil at the National Sports Stadium last Friday.
Clearly hapless churchgoers will have no reprieve from the wolves in sheep’s
clothing that have invaded their neck of the woods.
And what do you think of a politician who thinks his path to glory lies in
admiring the worst dictator that ever walked the earth. Is he unaware of the
six million Jews murdered on this man’s orders? Hitler is hardly a role
model for Zimbabwe’s youth. He represents everything that is evil and
despotic. Saviour Kasukuwere quotes with approval Mugabe’s 2003 statement
that he is “still the Hitler of his time”.
“This Hitler has only one objective: Justice for his people; sovereignty for
his people; recognition of his people and their right to their resources. If
that is Hitler then let me be a Hitler tenfold.”
That is populist demagoguery at its worst. It is sick. And it deserves
scrutiny by those misguided mining companies that think survival lies in
cosying up to dictatorship. Zanu PF must be the only party in the world that
believes emulating Hitler is a clever move!
Muckraker can deduce, from Kasukuwere’s overzealousness, an attempt to atone
for his indiscretions revealed by whistle-blowing website WikiLeaks. The
website revealed that Kasukuwere allegedly met former US ambassador to
Zimbabwe, Tom McDonald, in November 2000 and called for leadership renewal
in Zanu PF.
He stated that President Mugabe and his cronies must be “phased out” of
their leadership role adding that the two vice presidents at the time should
step down as a first step.
Muckraker tries not to watch ZTV. It makes the blood boil. It is nothing
more than a clumsy propaganda tool which abuses its connection to the former
ruling party to attack the proponents of change and reform.
But it occasionally and unwittingly provides some light entertainment. A few
weeks ago a panel of three “experts” were complaining bitterly about South
African constitutional expert Hassen Ebrahim advising Copac on what changes
were needed. Why was a South African expert hired when there were so many
Zimbabwean professors who could do the job, the panel members headed by
“European” Chivaura wanted to know as they waxed indignant on the issue. “We
have the most educated people on the continent,” we were told.
But none of the panellists stopped to consider the record of Zimbabwe’s fine
academics. What the panel needed to do was remind viewers that the GPA was
put in place with the help of our neighbours to create stability and growth,
not to see one party crush another.
If the forthcoming poll is accompanied by violence and electoral
manipulation it will carry no more credibility than the last one (2008).
That in turn will see investment and aid dry up.
So there is no point to a poll that does not create a national consensus on
recovery. That notion doesn’t seem to have taken root with our political
class including those who once enjoyed our admiration and respect but are
now heartily loathed. We need an independent and respected law-enforcement
system if people are to respect electoral outcomes.
We need to hear from the Human Rights Commission, the electoral commission,
and other bodies set up in the ambit of the GPA. At present they are
ZBC also reports that legal “expert”, Tazvitya Mapfumo, has challenged the
parties in the inclusive government to go to the polls without any condition
as there is no guarantee that there will be an agreement in the foreseeable
Mapfumo said calls for reform in various sectors, as a condition for holding
elections, are “immaterial” as it is evident that the political parties in
the inclusive government come from divergent political and ideological
backgrounds and will not agree on certain matters of principle.
What kind of legal expert advocates for the holding of polls without
adhering to a legal document –– the Global Political Agreement –– signed by
the major political parties and which spells out the minimum requirements
Mapfumo’s curious sentiments were also echoed by Zanu PF Secretary for
Information and Publicity, Rugare Gumbo, who mendaciously claimed that Prime
Minister Morgan Tsvangirai had “finally” conceded to elections this year.
This is despite Tsvangirai stating last week that: “There have been
misguided pronouncements about dates for elections and the holding of the
referendum. I wish to state those dates will be determined by a process and
not by a resolution of any organ of a political party.”
“It is unfortunate,” Gumbo opines, “that he (Tsvangirai) is still putting
some conditions which are just a way of trying to delay the process.”
We wouldn’t want to accuse Cde Gumbo of being a peddler of (mis)information
but he needs to get his facts right if we are to take him seriously.
Nomatter Tagarira alias Rotina Mavhunga, who made headlines in 2007 after
duping President Robert Mugabe and other prominent Zanu PF politicians that
she had powers to extract diesel from a rock, was recently released from
prison, the Standard reports.
We can’t help but chuckle at the “diesel n’anga” fiasco, which saw President
Mugabe appoint a special committee of high-ranking officials to look into
the diesel “find”.
Mavhunga’s aides duped the officials who included Didymus Mutasa, Sydney
Sekeramayi and Kembo Mohadi, by using a pipe lodged between rocks at the
summit of Maningwa Hills to pour diesel down where the ministers were
gathered to witness the “spectacular” event.
The committee reported back to President Mugabe that she was indeed able to
produce fuel out of a granite rock.
The Zanu PF government planned to use the diesel and gold findings to boost
the national wealth and thumb their noses at the West for the imposition of
However, in keeping with the popular trend these days, Mavhunga has also now
become a Christian.
“Indeed she is now a converted believer and is attending AFM church after
our preaching sessions at the prison,” a prison official is quoted as
We wouldn’t be surprised if, in a few months, Mavhunga would re-surface as a
pastor. Many people who have been squeezed out of the feeding trough seem
to have “turned to God” at the suspiciously right time.
Despite being new to the faith, they are more than keen to take the mantle
of pastoring, a seemingly lucrative field.
Even former Zifa CEO, Henrietta Rushwaya, has threatened to become a pastor.
This comes after her failed bid to seek political office, as well as being
implicated in a football match-fixing scandal, left her jobless.
“I am turning to God and becoming a born-again Henrietta. I intend to go for
pastoral training at a Theological College,” Rushwaya had said.
Meanwhile the relentless onslaught by Local Government minister, Ignatius
Chombo, on MDC-dominated municipalities continued unabated with the
suspension –– without pay –– of Gwanda mayor Lionel De Necker.
De Necker’s misdeed was his refusal to appoint an alleged Zanu PF
functionary, a Mrs P Nkala, as a Gwanda municipality chamber secretary.
As a result, Chombo accused De Necker of insubordination and defying his
orders leading to his suspension.
The Standard reports that Chombo’s deputy, Sesil Zwidzai, said the former
was abusing the Urban Council’s Act in a bid to reverse Zanu PF’s electoral
defeats in municipalities.
“Chombo is going wild, shooting at everybody using the Act. The guy still
can’t face the reality that his Zanu PF party is no longer running the
country’s urban councils,” said Zwidzai.
Chombo also suspended Mutare mayor, Brian James, early this year on
allegations of misconduct.
Chombo claimed the suspension of James was in the interest of ensuring
“sound local governance” for effective and efficient service delivery in
Chombo should be the last person to bleat about “sound local governance”
when he has presided over the worst spell for municipalities in this
In a story we carried last month, De Necker complained about the
polarisation and meddling wrought by Chombo.
“Disruption is from all corners; from the minister and some employees who
are loyal to Zanu PF. These people take orders from outside resulting in a
direct confrontation and councils are heading for disaster if this trend is
not abated,” De Necker had said.
De Necker also told VOA Studio 7 that his removal was unfair since he had no
executive powers to impose Chombo’s choice on the Gwanda municipality after
it rejected his directive.
VOA Studio 7 reports that Chombo has also sent a team to probe the Bulawayo
City Council. Clearly Chombo’s crusade needs to be stopped in its tracks.
Zanu PF politburo member, Jonathan Moyo, was at the receiving end of some
stinging vitriol from fellow Zanu PF member and Constitutional Parliamentary
Select Committee (Copac) co-chair, Paul Mangwana.
The Daily News reports that Mangwana lampooned Moyo for alleging that the
constitution-making process had been hijacked by the “mafia” bent on
effecting regime change.
“From the way he (Moyo) has been ranting about Copac week-in, week-out it
gives an impression that he has got some ulterior motives or is motivated by
someone with a sinister agenda,” Mangwana seethed.
“However, we will not be distracted by hopeless people,” he added.
As if that was not enough, Copac officials, who included Mangwana and Jessie
Majome, also said Moyo’s views smacked of panic and were from an “idle mind”.
Something for the not so good Prof to chew on as he mulls writing another
humdrum and unnecessarily long article!
Thursday, 12 April 2012 18:26
TOURISM can become a significant element of Zimbabwean economic recovery.
The potential for considerable growth in the numbers of tourists to
Zimbabwe, and therefore a substantial contribution to the economy, is
immense. Very few countries offer as many, and as diversified, attractions
to tourists as Zimbabwe.
There is the magnificent Victoria Falls, while the wildlife viewing at
Hwange National Park, Matusadona, Gonarezhou, Antelope Park and many other
locations in Zimbabwe is spectacular. Very little can compete with the
grandeur of the Matopos, the mystic of Great Zimbabwe, the tranquil beauty
of Chimanimani, Vumba and Nyanga and Mana Pools, or the magnificence of Lake
Kariba (and, especially, the sunsets on the Lake).
These are but a few of the country’s foremost tourist attractions. In
addition, Zimbabwe possesses outstanding museums, art galleries and tribal
art centres. The country’s cities and towns, and prime tourism sites have
outstanding hotels, lodges, bed and breakfast facilities, as well as
exceptionally located and serviced caravan parks and rest camps.
However, there are major deterrents to Zimbabwe maximising her tourism
potential and these constraints need to be vigorously addressed. If this is
done, tourists to Zimbabwe will increase exponentially, with benefits to the
downstream economy, creating much-needed employment, and revenue inflows
to the fiscus. Factors requiring the urgent and effective action by
The horrendous delays at Zimbabwe’s border posts in general, and Beitbridge
in particular. Touts demanding high facilitation fees. (The delays at the
border posts are also worsened by excessively authoritarian immigration and
customs officials, some of whom seek bribes, although commendably the
Zimbabwe Revenue Authority is actively curbing such corrupt actions).
Exiting the border posts the tourist may believe that authoritarian hazards
are over, but soon discovers that is not so. There are repeated police
roadblocks (frequently being 10 or more within a distance of less than
500kms). Generally, the police manning those roadblocks are very courteous,
but there are occasions when they are overly officious, and often demand
A recent example is the absence of a luminous vest in the car — a
requirement as yet to be gazetted. Other issues arising at many of the
roadblocks are the demand to see a valid driver’s licence, a fire
extinguisher or red reflective triangles. (Why is it impossible for the
police to issue the motorist a dated, coloured sticker, as evidence that he
and his vehicle are law compliant, thereby enabling rapid transition at
The valiant efforts of Air Zimbabwe’s management to keep the airline
operational despite its lack of capitalisation by the Zimbabwe government
(and formerly that of the Rhodesian government) ultimately became futile.
Without reasonable and realistic funding, the airline cannot function. The
solution is to privatise the national airline so it can offer the required
domestic , regional and international services.
Another tourist deterrent is the high fees and charges for access to such
tourist sights as Victoria Falls, Matopos, the diverse game and wildlife
reserves, museums, and elsewhere that tourists desire to go to. This is
especially so of the charges levied upon non-residents of Zimbabwe, who are
obliged to pay extensively greater admission fees than Zimbabwean residents.
The excessive charges by the Ministry of Environment and Tourism and other
government entities is emulated by private sector tourism operators in
general, and hotels in particular, being yet another factor which causes
falling foreign tourist arrivals.
The tardiness of governmental infrastructure development further impacts
negatively upon tourism sector patronage. It is now virtually nine years
since government embarked upon developing the Joshua Mqabuko Airport in
Bulawayo as an international airport, yet it is still not completed. Until
construction is complete, tourists are forced to use a “temporary”
converted hanger, with insufficient seating and passenger handling
facilities, inadequate ticket facilities, lack of secure and sufficient
vehicle parking facilities, and catering resources.
Similarly, Zimbabwe’s roads to tourist destinations are poorly maintained,
with innumerable potholes, lack of essential road signs, faded road
markings, derelict vehicle lay-bys and other deficiencies.
Bureaucratic delays points of entry that is air termals are a further
deterrent to tourists.
Due to invasions of farms and urban properties, Zimbabwe has an
international perception of being an insecure tourist destination; many are
discouraged from experiencing the magnificence that Zimbabwe has to offer.
The absence of stringent enforcement of respect for property and human
rights has reflected negatively upon expectations that Zimbabwe is a safe
and secure destination.
Admittedly, in recent years, Zimbabwe has enjoyed growth in tourist
arrivals, and in their contribution to the still ailing economy, but that
growth is minimal compared to what it could be (and hopefully one day will
Thursday, 12 April 2012 18:23
ZIMBABWE’S manufacturing sector’s contribution to Gross Domestic Product
(GDP) has continued to decline despite the introduction of various
programmes and measures to stem the contraction and boost resuscitation of
Since Independence in 1980, the government has never run out of blueprints
to support industrial development, but these well-meaning documents, which
are often not implemented, have not done much to stem the decline of the
sector and help its revival in the context of the current economic recovery
One of the main functions of government is to ensure economic development
which basically refers to sustained, concerted actions of policy-makers and
communities to promote standards of living and prosperity.
The process involves quantitative and qualitative changes in the economy.
Some of the issues which are part and parcel of the process include
development of human capital, critical infrastructure, competitiveness,
literacy and social inclusion. All these factors must eventually help
economic growth which is a function of productivity and rise in GDP, a key
aspect of economic development.
Policy intervention aimed at economic growth and the social well-being of
the people is a critical element in economic development.
A series of blueprints have been produced but none of them fully implemented
largely due to leadership and policy shortcomings in government. This has
created scepticism in government’s commitment to its policies and economic
The latest document, the Industrial Development Policy (IDP) 2012-2016,
issued by the Industry and Commerce ministry last week, seeks to restore the
sector’s contribution to GDP from the current 15% to 30% by 2016, while the
share of exports is expected to rise from 26% to 50% in the same period.
The policy framework predicts an average GDP growth rate of 7%, but like its
predecessors, the blueprint either lacks clarity or is rather silent on a
number of key issues, making it susceptible to failure.
The policy document does touch on some issues in brief and makes only
fleeting references to others. Of particular interest is the new policy
framework’s silence on the roles of the Industrial Development Corporation
(IDC) and other players such as the National Social Security Authority
(NSSA),the Infrastructure Development Bank of Zimbabwe and the Zimbabwe
Manpower Development Fund (Zimdef), which have been on the back burner, not
playing their full part in promoting the industrialisation of the economy.
A key pillar of any industrialisation programme is an enabling environment,
infrastructure and communications system. The policy document pertinently
identifies the infrastructure challenges the country faces, particularly
with regards to energy, acknowledging that there can be no meaningful
industrialisation if the current power shortages are allowed to persist.
It would be wishful thinking to have a thriving industrial sector when Zesa
is failing to guarantee power supply. Apart from this, there is also the
need for an overhaul of roads, railways, airports and other key
infrastructure. Analysts say Zimbabwe’s industrialisation should actually
begin with energy sector reforms and thus the new policy cannot be divorced
from the urgent need to first upgrade current electricity generation and
distribution capacity in the country to levels that actually support
continuous efficient production based on power uptime and lower cost per
One of the most notable examples of policy failures not acknowledged in the
blueprint is that in 2011, the country spent almost US$1,2 billion importing
motor vehicles. Ironically, this staggering amount was spent mostly on
second-hand vehicle imports.
The industrial policy does not seem to address such key issues like how to
attract investment in the area to create a sustainable motor trade industry
and help to rebalance exports and imports to address the issue of the
balance of trade and balance of payments.
Another institution that has a key role to play but has been singled out for
sitting on the fence on industrial development matters is NSSA. The
authority’s mandate is to collect and pool compulsory pension contributions
and to invest on behalf of pensioners. NSSA is expected to play a key role
as a financier of infrastructure projects and in the
Small-to-Medium-Enterprises (SMEs) sector. The SME sector is the new engine
for growth for different economies and if NSSA plays this role well, nascent
industries can be developed, positively impacting on broader
industrialisation and development.
Although NSSA has been funding some development projects, its resources have
not always been properly deployed as some have been wasted through unviable
investments and corruption.
Industry and Commerce minister Welshman Ncube’s policy framework correctly
identifies the need for institutional capacity-building and training to
strengthen institutions such as the Consumer Council of Zimbabwe and the
Standards Association of Zimbabwe, but does not mention the role key
institutions such as Zimdef, whose mandate is to promote manpower
development that supports long-term skills supply for industry through
Whilst Ncube stated in his policy framework that he supports indigenisation,
he acknowledges the role of a vibrant agricultural sector, a key supplier of
raw materials and critical inputs into the manufacturing sector.
A sound industrial policy can only be underpinned by a strong, well-run, and
well- financed agricultural sector. The industrial policy does not deal with
the present day-to-day challenges facing agriculture in Zimbabwe following
the land reform programme which ruined the sector, the economy’s base, and
spawned low productivity on the farms and shortages –– which naturally led
Given the ongoing onslaught on mining firms, the same can be said about the
mining sector and industries that form backward and forward linkages with
mining activities as higher perceived risks would lead to low investment
levels in the sector, thus economic growth.
However, the policy does bring into focus the sub-sectors Zimbabwe has a
distinct or potential competitive advantage in such as the manufacturing of
pharmaceuticals and other chemicals from ethanol extracted from sugar cane
and development of emerging industries such as diamond mining in Marange
which can lead to the creation of a vibrant jewelry-making sector or
manufacturing of diamond tools using abundant industrial diamonds.
Zimbabwe also has a potential competitive advantage in the manufacture of
fertiliser given its huge coal-bed methane gas reserves and the new policy
thrust should see government trying to exploit this, especially when a
favourable regulatory framework is already being put in place.
While it has a lot of limitations, the new industrial policy is a good
attempt at industrialisation, although the challenge lies in implementation
and attracting investment to boost growth and development.
Thursday, 12 April 2012 18:20
A FEW weeks ago Reserve Bank Governor Gideon Gono controversially urged the
business community in Bulawayo to engage in non-violent protests if ever
they wanted to access the Distressed Industries and Marginalised Areas Fund
(Dimaf). It is critical to discuss the viability and effectiveness of
non-violent mass action as a tool of delivering political and economic
Zimbabweans have been reduced to passive spectators in the transformation
agenda of their nation. We have delegated the responsibility of bringing
about change to Sadc and its facilitator in the Zimbabwe question, South
African President Jacob Zuma, the African Union (AU) and the international
We have outsourced our problems to others. We seem to have invested a lot of
energy and time on regional and international mobilisation and advocacy at
the expense of internal engagement. The primacy of external factors over
internal action is evident in the approach of mainly the two MDC parties.
This strategy has been effective to an extent, although it is premised on
the imperative of influencing the mediation process facilitated by Zuma and
Sadc rather than direct engagement with the system. Our hopes seem to be
pinned on Zuma, Sadc, the AU and the international community. But the
question is whether this hope and belief are justified, and whether we
should continue to place all our collective expectations on the shoulders of
others without pro-actively playing a direct role in shaping and influencing
democratic change and social transformation?
Zimbabweans need to start seriously exploring non-violent mass mobilisation
as a strategy of advocating for political, social and economic reform.
I have argued previously that Zimbabweans are too fatigued to engage in non-
violent mass action but then no condition is permanent and different
contexts require different responses which are relevant to that time, and it
all depends on circumstances prevailing at a particular period. Non-violent
mass action cannot therefore be entirely dismissed in the Zimbabwean
context. People need to take responsibility for their situation.
The two MDC formations have failed to move Zanu PF on certain issues simply
because they do not have enough leverage to do so. The power relations
between the negotiating parties determine the outcome.
During the Lancaster House talks in 1979, PF Zapu and Zanu PF were able to
push their agendas effectively — although they did not get all they wanted —
because of the leverage they had in the form of their gains in the armed
struggle and their guerrilla armies, Zipra and Zanla, respectively.
For the record, I am not advocating for an armed resistance. The two MDC
parties have good negotiators and arguments in their negotiations with Zanu
PF, but that is not what influences outcomes. It is power relations or
Non-violent mass action is an option that could be considered to deal with
the government’s chronic incompetence and failure to deliver. However,
non-violent mass action is a not an end in itself but a means to an end
since it is really meant to build pressure and apply leverage in a
negotiation process. Poorly-conceived mass action can result in more chaos
as we have witnessed in Egypt and Libya where the revolution has become a
cycle of violence, anarchy and confusion.
Secondly, it must be understood that non-violent action as articulated by Dr
Martin Luther King and Mahatma Gandhi is a philosophy based on solid
principles of transformation. Non-violent action seeks to free both the
oppressor and the oppressed.
Thirdly, non-violent mass action should not be taken as the only viable
action to bring change, but as an action which supports and complements
other actions such as advocacy, negotiation, mediation, litigation and
Non-violent mass action could bring change but in the Zimbabwean context,
non-violent mass action may have the following challenges:
The possibility of apathy and lack of popular support as evidenced in the
failed stay away of 2008;
Mass action can be hijacked by sinister political or criminal elements which
may play into the hands of military hawks who may declare a state of
emergency, suspend all rights, dissolve the inclusive government and arrest
opposition and civic leaders. At worst this may give opportunity for
military hawks to take over under the guise of restoring order, and the
process could effectively result in an end to civilian government;
Commercialisation of activism which may result in people expecting or
wanting to be paid for participating in mass action;
Contraction of the economy has resulted in the decline and emasculation of
the labour movement which traditionally has been at the forefront of
positive direct action;
Informalisation of the economy may result in people refusing to participate
in projects that disrupt their income-generating activities.
Overdependence on donors and the international community. Civil society has
come to believe action is impossible without donor funding. Whilst
resources are critical they should be used to support what people are
already doing, and not to control their agenda.
Despite all these problems, risks and obstacles, non-violent action is still
a viable option because:
It applies pressure directly on government and service providers;
Makes ordinary people part of the solution;
Takes the initiative from the state apparatus;
There are over 200 non-violent methods to choose from and
Non-violent mass action has a contagion effect and multiplies people’s
Timing is however critical in the execution of non-violent mass action as
wrong timing, poor planning and fear can result in abysmal failure.
Zimbabweans must take charge of their own struggle for democratic change and
not outsource it to others. Sulking at home without doing much to shape and
influence change is unhelpful and futile.
Nkomo is a political analyst and CEO of Habakkuk Trust. He writes in his
personal capacity. Email: email@example.com
Thursday, 12 April 2012 18:16
IN July 2008, Forbes magazine carried an article headlined “Africa — The
last investment frontier”. With a rate of return on foreign investment
higher than in any other region, Africa has eventually managed to shrug off
the tag of a hopeless continent, a description carried on the front page of
The Economist in March 2000.
The inclusion of South Africa to the Brics (Brazil, Russia, India, China and
South Africa) economies in 2010 has been a welcome stamp of approval of this
promising continent, although many African countries would have loved South
Africa and other African countries going in there as a bloc, say as Sadc or
It would be interesting to look into what Zimbabwe’s place is in this
emerging continent which may be the future centre of global growth, like
China has now become.
Short-lived commodities bubble
Now that the once nascent signs of a slowdown in China are becoming evident,
African countries that have been riding on China’s craving for resources
like coal, platinum, diamonds, oil and commodities ought to rethink their
economic growth models. The reality is that the Chinese economic growth rate
is slowing down and will perhaps continue to do so. A couple of weeks ago
China’s Premier Wen Jiabao signalled that the growth rate could go down to
7,5% from its historic average of 9%.
Muted commodity demand is the inevitable consequence of this slowdown and
will leave nations such as Zimbabwe with no other meaningful option but to
rebalance their economies. After being hit by external demand shocks two
times in the last three years, China is now anxiously looking at a growth
model driven much more by internal private consumption than by investment
Admittedly, China will not stop importing commodities soon and certainly not
in the short-to-medium term. However, new developments in China indicate
signs of a waning appetite for commodities. This could serve as a signal to
mineral resources-based countries such as Zimbabwe that they have a 20-year
window period to diversify their economies.
As the New York Times noted in May 2011: “The timing for when China’s growth
model will run out of steam is probably the most critical question facing
the world economy”. Respected economist Nouriel Roubini believes China’s
high reinvestment rates nearing 50% are indicative of an economy nearing
Zimbabwe has reasons to be worried, especially if government and its
policy-makers ignore this trend and fail to plan ahead.
The Fung Global Institute in Hong Kong believes the pattern of growth in
China has been remarkably industry and investment-heavy. Private sector
consumption as a share of China’s GDP has actually declined over the past
decade, falling from 46% in 2000 to 33% in 2010, and probably remained at
around that level last year. Stories of a 40km highway on the sea, empty
bullet trains and ghost towns hastily built as part of economic stimuli
support the theory that China’s growth has been predominantly driven by
state infrastructure spend.
Putting this into perspective, China’s urban expansion is said to currently
consume half of the world’s steel and concrete production. Arguably, growth
that is promoted in this fashion is not sustainable, which is why economies
that have benefitted from China’s economic surge need to be cautious.
The envisioned Zimbabwe
History has taught us not to hastily dismiss grand goals as mere dreaming.
So, even the recently proposed vision by Finance minister Tendai Biti to
grow Zimbabwe’s economy to US$100 billion in 40 years deserves attention. To
attain such a goal, the economy would need to grow at a compound rate of 10%
per year for 40 years. Certainly, for an economy that had contracted by
above 40% in the last decade, there is potential for it to pick up at 10% in
the short-run during the recovery period.
But over the long-term, say 40 years, 10% may not be impossible but it will
be a marathon of short sprints. It is likely that without the suggested
rebalancing, the economy is most likely to choke due to subdued commodity
In light of this, what then should constitute Zimbabwe’s grand plan in
making its mark on the continent?
A CEO’s grand plan
A good place to start is identification of the nation’s competencies or
those things we do or have potential to do better than others. Strategy
expert, Bruce Henderson, argues that your most dangerous competitors are
those who look and act like you. In Zimbabwe’s case there are clearly such
competitors across Africa in Kenya, Zambia, Uganda and many others. Zimbabwe’s
challenge would be to identify its unique and competitive advantages.
In supporting the notion of rebalancing the economy, Michael Porter, a
professor at Harvard Business School and an authority on competitive
strategy and international competitiveness, says the abundance of natural
resources is not the most important comparative advantage of a country.
Instead, he believes, conditions in the economy, firm strategy, and related
supporting industries contribute more to the competitive advantage of a
nation. The journey of discovering our competencies could begin with a
study of the prominent companies that have sprung from Zimbabwe onto the
regional or global scene.
Applying Porter’s framework, the Nordic countries fared well on factor
conditions such as skilled labour and infrastructure. Appreciative of their
relative small size, Sweden, Finland, Belgium, Denmark and Iceland coexisted
as a connected bloc riding on their competitiveness. Even the mighty and
low-cost centre, China, has not succeeded in snatching the components
industry from these competitive nations.
Taking gradual steps
While cognisant of how sound economic planning will always clash with
populist policies in Zimbabwe, the country’s journey down this road is
unlikely to be an easy one.
The “Ease of Doing Business” rankings by the World Bank currently rank
Zimbabwe 172 out of 183 countries. Among the criteria considered is the ease
of starting a business where Zimbabwe ranks 144. According to the rankings,
it takes 90 days to get a company registered in Zimbabwe against one day in
New Zealand and 19 days in South Arica. One wonders what it is that which
needs to be done in a quarter of a year for a company to be registered. A
painfully long registration process is not only a tax on entrepreneurial
development but a major deterrent to foreign direct investment.
Apart from bureaucratic impediments, there is also the issue of policy
inconsistency and uncertainty. Policy consistency means businesses can make
long-term plans and commit resources to investments. One investor once
remarked: “If you are going to screw me up, please tell me so in advance,
that way I can prepare.”
These are small but game-changing steps that must be taken. But more
required are leaders long on implementation and short on promises.
Zimbabwe needs more investment and competitive enterprises to grow and
realise its full potential but for this to happen there must be political
stability and policy certainty.
Chipendo is a management consultant at a Johannesburg-based firm, as well as
managing partner for Emergent Capital Management, a niche investment
management company on the ZSE and JSE markets. Email:
Friday, 13 April 2012 10:26
PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe returned home yesterday after a week of speculation
about his health and resultant controversy sparked by apparently unfounded
reports that he was critically ill in Singapore.
So beyond stories about Mugabe’s“ill-health”, the veteran leader and his
diehards are certainly going to intensify their campaign to wind up the
constitution-making process and force early elections this year, with or
without a new constitution.
Although there are many issues such as economic recovery, indigenisation,
controversial diamonds mining in Marange and the Global Political Agreement
(GPA) to watch on our national political diary, the constitution-making
exercise and how Mugabe wants to seize control of it is critical. This issue
is clearly linked to Mugabe’s health, age and succession.
The biggest question is: Will Mugabe be allowed to get away with it again?
This question is significant and will assume greater meaning in the weeks
ahead. Currently the situation is undecided and uncertain.
Mugabe recently demanded the constitution-making process be completed next
month so that he can announce the route towards polls. His rivals and
critics said the plan for early elections was impractical and likely to stir
violence and chaos. However, Mugabe has vowed to go ahead with elections
after May. Analysts insist political reforms, including constitutional
changes, are necessary to “level the playing field” and avoid upheavals and
violence seen during the last 2008 elections.
They have warned early polls would breach GPA terms and the supplementary
elections roadmap drafted by Sadc facilitator, South African President Jacob
Mugabe has already fired shots across Zuma’s bows by threatening to “remove
him in broad daylight”, claiming he had warned him about this. Zuma has been
expected in Harare since the last Sadc summit in Luanda in August last year,
but seems to be taking his time to intervene to save the GPA.
For now, Mugabe appears determined to plough ahead on a unilateral course.
If he abridges the constitution-making process, calls for elections this
year, with or without a new constitution, that would be a slap in the face
for his GPA partners and Zimbabweans as a whole.
Secondly, it would be a repudiation of Sadc and the African Union as the
guarantors of the agreement. And thirdly, it would be a brazen challenge to
the international community. With political stakes being so high, it would
be interesting to see whether Mugabe would be allowed to get away with it
again. For more than 10 years now, he survived an onslaught against his
rule, although it seems he is reaching his wits’ end despite his
determination. However, given his political experience and survival tactics,
it would be folly for anyone to underestimate him.
So far Mugabe has managed to stall transition and reform by refusing to
fully implement the GPA and the supplementary roadmap endorsed by Sadc.
Nothing significant has changed in the past year since the Livingstone Sadc
troika summit in March last year where it appeared regional leaders had
drawn a line in the sand.
The promise that Sadc would take a more robust stand following the
Livingstone summit has not yet been adequately borne out. Although the MDC
parties welcomed the hitherto more proactive engagement Zuma, nothing much
has been achieved. Zanu PF, despite its growing internal strife, is still
frustrating GPA implementation and reforms.
Now Mugabe is calling for elections on his own terms and nobody is springing
to action to stop him. Last year Sadc managed to reject his claims that
conditions for free and fair elections had been met but now he seems to have
regained the upper hand.
Sadc, as guarantors of the GPA with the AU, needs to secure tangible
progress on several key issues if elections are ultimately to be held in
conditions that are sufficiently free and fair. The divisive security and
law and order issues have essentially been ignored or avoided and thus
remain contentious. The regional organisation needs to find a way to change
Its strategy to reduce the GPA’s reform agenda to a more manageable set of
priorities and strengthen monitoring of implementation has not worked. The
GPA, which must remain the elections roadmap, must be implemented to ensure
Zimbabwe develops a credible political system that enables both cooperation
and responsible competition between the political parties, and to cope with
security issues during and after the elections.
Friday, 13 April 2012 10:23
UNTIL yesterday when President Robert Mugabe returned home from Singapore
where he had officially gone to make further studies arrangements for his
daughter and apparently also spend the Easter holidays, a storm of
speculation over his ill-health and whereabouts was raging.
The sensational reports –– which one of the online publications, the
Zimbabwe Mail, helped to start and fuel –– reached fever pitch a few days
ago when it was claimed Mugabe was on his “deathbed” and “undergoing
intensive treatment” at a hospital in Singapore.
The reports sought to provide a vivid account of the situation by further
claiming Mugabe’s relatives had flown to Singapore in a private jet to be
with him at a clinic as his situation was critical.
In journalism, reporters who want to be believed always try to provide a
vivid account to enhance the credibility of their stories. A vivid retelling
not only increases chances of people remembering the account, but also tends
to increase emotional reactions.
This is what the reports on Mugabe’s ill-health sought to do and succeeded
in a way as shown by resultant anxiety and angry reactions which
subsequently followed. The reports caused havoc and confusion on a somewhat
global scale. Certain instructive issues arise out of the reports and what
The first one is the authenticity of the reports. Now that we know the
reports were false and that The Zimbabwe News & Media (Pvt) Ltd, which owns
the Zimbabwe Mail, has admitted as much and apologised, we can only express
dismay and disgust at those stories.
Although most people still do not trust online publications largely because
of their lack of professionalism and accountability, it is important to note
websites are important sources of news and information, especially in this
age of social media.
So when they start writing inaccurate or false reports, unleashing confusion
on a grand scale, it becomes rather worrying. For us in the media, what is
disturbing about this emerging phenomenon of mendacious reporting is the
damage which such reports inflict, not just on the platforms concerned, but
on the profession. It must be stated even though an apology has been issued,
the damage had already been done.
The trouble with this is that it makes it difficult going forward for other
media organisations to cover what is otherwise a legitimate story in the
public interest. Mugabe’s health is unquestionably in the public interest
and there is no problem with the media covering it. What is important is to
always ensure the reports are accurate and balanced. Yes, reporters make
mistakes but that’s why we must verify our stories before publishing. Had
that been done on the current saga, this embarrassing situation could have
The other thing is Mugabe’s advisors and spokesmen must also talk to the
media on this issue to avoid fuelling speculation and damaging ripple
effects. Instead of always waiting to react to reports about Mugabe’s health
situation, it would be useful for them to clarify this issue once and for
While government last year issued a statement, saying Mugabe was travelling
to Singapore for an eye surgery as he had cataracts, it was not enough,
especially when it was prompted by reports of his ill-health and shuttling
between Harare and the Far East in the first place.
On the current occasion, even if it was announced he was going to look for a
university place for his daughter, subsequent reports, although baseless,
showed people do not believe Mugabe’s spokesmen and in fact sometimes
speciously think the opposite of what they say is true. It shows they have a
On Wednesday, we had a meeting as editors with Information minister Webster
Shamu at his request (although it turned out he only wanted to talk to the
NewsDay and Daily News) and discussed this issue. It was a friendly
encounter although he expressed grave concerns about how Mugabe’s health
story was being covered. We made our positions clear the issue is in the
public interest but agreed with him coverage must be factual and
But there is also another dimension to this. Who is behind the latest
reports on Mugabe’s ill-health? Is this not disinformation by intelligence
services which want to manipulate the media and people by discrediting
certain information or supporting false conclusions for political purposes?
It would be worth investigating this to see whether this was not black
propaganda. Some say it is disinformation to manage Mugabe’s very real
health problems and gullible reporters fell for the intentionally false
reports spread deliberately to discredit the media and “kill” the niggling
story ahead of elections. Let’s find out.
Friday, 13 April 2012 10:21
WHY should consumers waste money on a more expensive product by buying
Zimbabwean-made goods and services when there are cheaper ones of more or
less the same quality from outside?
Although the ostensible economic benefits of buying any locally-produced
products and services helps create more income and employment, Zimbabwean
companies should learn to compete on quality instead of trying to force
consumers to spend their hard-earned cash on the substandard.
Some captains of industry who attended the Buy Zimbabwe Conference and
Experiential Expo, which ends in Harare today, tried to guilt consumers into
buying inferior locally-made products by saying imports were ballooning the
country’s trade deficit. The trade deficit is about US$2,6 billion.
The Buy Zimbabwe initiative seeks to promote the consumption of locally
produced goods by discouraging imports through campaigning for tariffs and
other measures that would help protect local industry.
Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries president Joseph Kanyekanye urged the
government to address existing liquidity problems by normalising relations
with the international community to unlock lines of credit. He also felt
that local companies were overpaying workers saying the resultant wages
contributed to the high costs of doing business in Zimbabwe.
Others called for laws to protect local industry by forcing companies to
procure a certain percentage of locally-made goods and services.
Only Employment Confederation of Zimbabwe president Anthony Mandiwanza
cautioned against protection saying local industry should address the issue
of productivity because the economy was producing more consumers instead of
jobs. He defended consumers’ rights to retain their choice between local and
Listening to the various contributions at the conference, one is left to
conclude that companies want to rely on protectionism rather than
encouraging competitive procurement by providing good products and services
or a good experience.
Protectionism generally does not promote good brands but encourages
substandard products and sometimes lousy service. Goods and services should
not simply be bought because they are “made in Zimbabwe” even without
Buy Zimbabwe indicates that the shopping baskets of a majority of Zimbabwean
consumers contain 80-90% foreign goods, but why don’t those local companies
clamouring for high tariffs on imported goods make it easier for consumers
to identify quality local products.
Should shoppers be looking for “made in Zimbabwe” goods in shops or local
companies should make it easy by producing high quality products? Patriotism
is a primarily political act which doesn’t usually work when it comes to
quality of goods and services. It’s true that if consumers were to purchase
the majority of their products and services locally, it would help stimulate
the economy and create job opportunities, but Zimbabwean companies must
address the issue of limited investment which affects the quality of
Very little investment has been made in Zimbabwean companies yet they all
expect high returns. How can they expect to make profits when they do not
plough back any investment in their businesses? Obviously the quality of
goods and services will not improve as long as companies fail to invest in
new equipment and continue using archaic machinery inherited from the
Yes, buying locally puts more money into the economy, but the goods and
services must match the quality and cost of the product. It’s simple, if the
quality of local cheese is not up to scratch, consumers will be forced to
buy South African cheese.