Protest leaves Zimbabwe in disarray By Simon Briggs and
Peta Thornycroft in Harare (Filed: 16/04/2004)
Cricket Union will make a mockery of international cricket on Tuesday when
they go into a one-day match against Sri Lanka with a second-string team
featuring none of their leading white players.
yesterday between the ZCU and 13 white players, who are calling for changes
among the team's selection panel, and who now say they will not play in the
Sri Lanka series.
Peter Chingoka, the ZCU chairman, responded by
threatening to sue any contracted player who did not turn up for practice
This breakdown of relations could be seen as the logical
extension of last year's black armband protest by Andy Flower and Henry
Olonga, who spoke out against Robert Mugabe's regime, and were drummed out of
the team. The issue now is the spread of Zanu PF party politics into the way
cricket is run.
Certain elements of the ZCU are believed to be primarily
concerned with black empowerment and allegedly will be delighted if Tuesday's
team contains no white players. However, the crisis could prove
counter-productive for them if it spells the beginning of the end for
The 14-strong squad selected yesterday contained seven
players uncapped at national level, and only four who could possibly claim
that they would make it into a full-strength team on merit. Two are white:
Brendan Taylor, 18, and Edward Rainsford, 19.
The dissenting players
may hope that the ZCU change their tune when the scale of the probable
humiliation facing the team becomes clear. Zimbabwe are to play five one-day
internationals and two Tests against Sri Lanka, followed by a full-scale Test
tour by Australia.
Ehsan Mani, the International Cricket Council
president, said on Tuesday that he "would not seek to intervene in this type
of domestic issue", but he must know that if Zimbabwe set off on a
self-destructive slide, their collapse would could embarrass the whole
Sponsors and broadcasters will not accept a series of mismatches,
and Zimbabwe's main sponsor, Nissan, have already registered their concern.
The England and Wales Cricket Board, meanwhile, will be quietly hoping that
the crisis can give them a way out of October's scheduled tour of
This row began two weeks ago when Heath Streak, Zimbabwe's then
captain, raised a number of objections about how the team were being
selected. He threatened to quit if his demands were not accepted, but
immediately found himself sacked by the board. The 12 other players quickly
rallied behind him, saying that the newly appointed Tatenda Taibu was too
young (at 20) and inexperienced to captain the team. This week they released
a public statement claiming that "the ZCU have fallen prey to a small clique
of people who do not have the interests of cricket at heart but are
simply motivated by non-sporting considerations".
The statement also
offered specific instances of maladministration, such as when white batsman
Mark Vermeulen was offered twice his match fee to drop out of a one-day
international and make room for a black player, or when a ZCU board member
reacted to the dropping of three black players by threatening to dig up the
pitch and boycott the match.
Streak said yesterday: "I made myself
unavailable for the series against Sri Lanka. I'm mentally and physically
unprepared to play now, and even at this very late moment, the ZCU have
failed to address key issues we've raised."
As for the threat of legal
action, Grant Flower, another of the dissenting players, said that most of
the players had left Harare already and would be unable to attend this
morning's practice even if they had wanted to.
The ZCU's shambolic
negotiations were exposed yesterday when they claimed they had bowed to some
of the players demands by appointing two new selectors in Richie Kaschula and
Pommie Mbangwa. But Mbangwa said he had never been contacted, and in any case
would be unable to take up the position, which would require him to give up
his television commentary work.
At a press conference yesterday, Chingoka
said he had been given information by a "reliable" source that the parents of
some of the players, who he implied were whites, had "devised a strategy to
destroy Zimbabwe cricket this year".
A DIPLOMATIC rift is brewing as
Britain, a fierce critic of Zimbabwe's human rights record, is digging in its
heels over the extradition of fugitive bankers wanted in Harare for an
assortment of serious economic crimes which they claim are trumped-up
Diplomatic sources confirmed the latest standoff between
Britain and Zimbabwe has transgressed the course of justice because the
former colonial master was reluctant to extradite suspects on the wanted
As a result, they said, Zimbabwe, whose relations with
Britain soured ever since Harare seized huge tracts of land from minority
whites, most of whom trace their ancestry to the United Kingdom, faces an
embarrassing situation of recalling a team of investigators dispatched
recently to flush out the suspects.
"We understand that the
Zimbabwean authorities recently contacted Interpol to request assistance in
relation to a case currently before the courts in Zimbabwe. The request is
being processed in the normal way. Interpol is a police-to-police channel.
The British government does not comment on the detail of requests made
through this channel," said Alison Blackburne at the British embassy in
"On the question of extradition, we do not propose to
discuss individual cases. It is a long-standing Home Office policy and
practice not to confirm or deny, ahead of arrest, whether a request for the
extradition of a particular individual has been sought or may be in
prospect," she said.
Police spokesman Assistant Commissioner Wayne
Bvudzijena, however, yesterday insisted that there seemed not to be any
cooperation from the British. But he could not give details on the nature of
the logjam holding up the extradition of the bankers.
said in the absence of the British's help, it might not be possible for
Harare to extradite the suspects.
"Interpol does not have a police
force, hence its duty is merely to facilitate. The responsibility to arrest
lies with the police for the respective countries," said Bvudzijena, adding:
"We may also refuse to cooperate with them in future."
diplomatic sources said the British, who have always treated the Zimbabwean
authorities with suspicion, were seemingly wary that the suspects might not
get a fair trial.
The stance by the British over the issue is
however likely to spark off nightmares of a fresh diplomatic row between the
Britain and its Western allies, whose political
yardsticks - according to some commentators - keep changing to suit their own
interests, have maintained that Zimbabwe has a serious democratic
The suspects who are currently on the run include the
executive directors of NMBZ Holdings. These are Julius Makoni, the managing
director, James Mushore, his deputy, and fellow executive directors Otto
Chekeche and Francis Zimuto who fled the country in March after the Zimbabwe
Republic Police started closing in on them.
They were accused of
externalising funds in violation of the country's exchange control
regulations. The executives are alleged to have externalised $30 billion in
foreign currency through a United Kingdom money transfer business, LTB Money
Several other bankers have also been implicated in
imprudent banking practices. These were uncovered during the ongoing banking
sector clean-up being undertaken by the Reserve Bank of
The bankers, including Mthuli Ncube, the founder of
Barbican, and Nicholas Vingirai, who established Intermarket Holdings, have
denied the charges and have even hinted at political harassment. The two are
believed to be in South Africa.
True or false, the allegations
against the fugitive bankers have irrevocably changed their lives. The
executives, who hurriedly skipped the country after getting wind of the
impending probes, left behind the comfort of the red carpets and elegantly
upholstered furniture in their plush offices in Harare's central business
district to seek asylum in Britain and South Africa.
THE government, desperate for external funds to stabilise
its finances, is ironically playing hard ball with the International
Monetary Fund (IMF) over the productive sector facility (PSF), which
the international monetarists fear could fuel festering inflationary
Finance and Economic Development Minister Chris Kuruneri
confirmed to The Financial Gazette that the visiting IMF delegation, which
was in the country for two weeks in March, had expressed concern over the
potentially inflationary effects of the facility.
said the government, whose desperate efforts to lure back the IMF after it
slammed the door on Zimbabwe some seven years ago have so far drawn a blank,
would not abandon the concessionary fund.
The government decision
to stick to its guns over the PSF could further stiffen the hand of the IMF,
which has been accused of misplaced missionary zeal for fiscal rectitude to
the detriment of most emerging markets.
The Bretton Woods
institution's balance of payments support for Zimbabwe was put on ice after
protracted haggling over policy issues.
"They had a lot to say
about it and raised the issue that if the funds are not superintended
properly, they could be inflationary and compromise our fight against
"But we had to be firm on the usefulness of the fund,
and indicated that we were relying on our sources for the funds. It is
prudent to support our own producers in order to kick-start our exports,"
The IMF delegation, which was in the country from
March 17 to March 31 on routine Article IV consultations, noted what it
termed "strong policy efforts", particularly the tightening of monetary
policy, but indicated that it was imperative to guard against a loosening of
the new measures.
The IMF, which has been accused of hard-headed
stances on fiscal issues, stressed the need to consistently focus monetary
policy on taming inflation and reducing pressure on the exchange
In line with this, the delegation had also pointed to the
PSF, through which the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) has advanced close to
$1.5 trillion to the productive sector at a concessionary interest rate of 30
Economists have also cautioned that should the facility
lack sufficient monitoring, a huge portion of the funds could be channelled
to speculative and consumptive purposes, which are inflationary.
The RBZ has targeted to bring down inflation, which eased to 602.5 percent in
February on a year-to-year basis, to levels between 170 percent and 200
percent by the end of the year.
A Harare-based economic commentator
who did not want to be named said the concessionary funds would not fuel
inflation but help contain it through bolstering the supply
"The facility actually has to be expanded, not shrunk. It is
not inflationary because it is being monitored to see that funds are
being applied to productive purposes.
"It is necessary that we
address the supply side of the equation in the fight against inflation," he
The concessionary fund has been accepted by both the
government and the private sector as a necessary evil as the productive
struggles to cope with the recessionary pressures that
have beset the country in the past five years.
producers have used the funds to retire debilitating debts, which had soared
on the back of an interest rate rally late last year, while not much has been
committed to actual production.
The economist said any moves to
scrap the facility in the current circumstances would be
"We are being asked to destroy our infrastructure and
our productive base. That advice (from the IMF) should be listened to but not
taken. We are industrialising our economy, which will mean more jobs and less
consumption of foreign products," he said.
A CRISIS is looming at the Zimbabwe Mining and Smelting
Company (Zimasco) amid revelations that the leading ferrochrome producer is
laying off scores of workers after shutting down three furnaces at the
Kwekwe smelter, citing worsening operational glitches.
The Financial Gazette could not immediately confirm the exact number of
workers facing the dreaded axe, sources put the figure at
A Zimasco spokesperson said the mining house, which
exports at least 220 000 tonnes of alloys annually, cannot operate all its
six furnaces at present due to spiralling costs of production that are out of
line with revenue generated.
Revenue at its mines suffered a
body blow due to the novel foreign exchange auction system introduced early
this year, under which exporters are paid $824 to the United States dollar
for a quarter of foreign currency earned.
The rate is way below
the prevailing auction rate of about $4 523 to the greenback.
the United States dollar inflows, Zimasco uses about 45 percent to meet its
own requirements. Of the 55 percent balance used to fund local expenses, 25
percent is surrendered upfront to the central bank at $824 to the greenback,
while 30 percent is sold at the ruling auction rate.
Working on the
latest auction rate of $4 523 on every US$ of inflows into the country,
Zimasco's current effective exchange rate in converting the greenback to
Zimbabwe dollars is $2 841.
"This creates a mismatch whereby local
suppliers are obtaining currency and pricing inputs at the auction rate of $4
523, but the revenue stream is coming at $2 841. This mismatch is effectively
resulting in Zimasco being unable to raise sufficient Zimbabwe dollars to
meet its Zimbabwe dollar requirements from the US dollars being sold to the
Reserve Bank at the auction market," said the spokesperson.
recently, the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange-listed cable manufacturer, CAFCA
Limited, slammed the door on exports saying it would not accept fresh orders
until the authorities addressed the skewed exchange rate.
hard on the heels of two cautionary statements issued by Zimbabwe's major
gold mining concerns - Rio Tinto Zimbabwe and Falcon Gold - which are also
struggling to meet their commitments.
"The scaling down of
operations in both the mining and smelting sections of the ferrochrome
business has been done primarily to create an arrangement where Zimbabwe
dollar operational input costs are at least matched by Zimbabwe dollar
"From purely a business perspective, Zimasco is unable to
continue to incur liabilities that it will not be able to pay for in the
future. The action taken is also intended to conserve cash and reduce
accumulated Zimbabwe dollar liabilities, while serving foreign markets
through existing stocks of finished product.
"If the current
mismatch between the Zimbabwe dollar revenue exchange rate and the cost
exchange rate persist, the viability of Zimasco as an exporting entity is
seriously threatened," added the spokesperson.
Zimasco imports 3
500 tonnes of coal and 1000 tonnes of coke from South Africa each month and a
further 2 000 tonnes of coke from China. The company forks out millions in
salaries and wages, railway charges and electricity tariffs, among other
The spokesperson said Zimasco would satisfy the export
market in Europe, the United States and Japan for the next six weeks from
stocks and deliveries in transit.
"Obviously, the stocks will
start to come down quickly and after the six months, we should have a
solution to start production otherwise we may scale it further
The company has lobbied the Mines Ministry, the Chamber of
Mines and the Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries, which have all assured
Zimasco that a solution would be found soon.
understand, it's the implementation we are waiting for," said the
opposition party, the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), dismissed by the
government as a western front to effect regime change will, in a marked
departure from tradition, participate in this year's Independence Day
The MDC, widely seen as the first real threat to ZANU
PF's 24- year hold on power since the first multi-racial elections in 1980,
had in the past avoided the celebrations. Although the party had not publicly
said why, it was believed that it did not participate in the celebrations
since its formation five years ago because of its irreconcilable differences
with the ruling party which has been accused of treating national events
as exclusively "ZANU PF".
This week, however, the MDC said it
would take part in the commemorations to mark Zimbabwe's 24th independence
anniversary, whose theme is Sendekera Mwana Wevhu.
"As a policy,
the party's membership and leadership are expected to attend the independence
celebrations wherever they are going to be held," MDC spokesperson Paul
Themba Nyathi said. "But this also depends on the security risks. In the
past, ZANU PF members have abused us, but, nevertheless, we will be there. As
a matter of fact, I am in Gwanda for the preparations."
government has said this year's celebration would be one with a difference
following the completion of the fast-track land reform programme, which has
widely been criticised by the local opposition, the United States of America,
the European Union and Britain.
The west, whose instinct has been
to work against President Robert Mugabe following a disputed 2002
presidential election, blame the land reform programme for the country's
economic crisis. They argue that the land reform programme should have been
undertaken in accordance with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)
Land Donor Conference of 1998.
A snap survey revealed that there
was enthusiasm for the festivities only among ruling party activists while
opposition members said that because of the harsh economic environment, it
would be difficult to be pretentious and turn a blind eye to the rot in the
"As much as I would like to celebrate our hard-won
independence, I can not bring myself to come to terms with the reality that
ZANU PF is undoing what we fought for," Lovemore Chitukwa, an MDC member,
said. "The war was fought to stop suffering, but we are still
But Gift Rusere of ZANU PF thought otherwise. "Those
who do not want to celebrate with us are terribly mistaken. We got the land
we fought for under the leadership of President Mugabe. There is no going
back and there is no undoing the process. Our liberation war heroes would
turn in their graves if they knew we were selling out to the whites. Every
Zimbabwean should come out and celebrate with the nation despite the
economic hardships. They will pass. It's a passing phase."
THAT acting Harare
mayor Sekesai Makwava-rara would be forced out of the Movement for Democratic
Change (MDC) was inevitable after she ruffled the feathers of the
powers-that-be in the opposition party. It was just a matter of
Impeccable party sources said a decision had long been taken
by the party's leadership to expel her from the MDC.
got wind of it, she immediately resigned.
Although crocodile tears
were shed, insiders say the party leadership considered her resignation as
Surprisingly, Makwa-varara has vowed to remain in
the hot seat as an independent, offering to relinquish the post only after
investigations into the conduct of suspended Harare mayor Elias Mudzuri were
This raised questions about her links with ZANU PF and
Local Government Minister Ignatius Chombo.
But most importantly,
it brought into focus her chances and ability, as an independent. Critics are
also questioning the rationale and morality of holding onto a seat she won on
an MDC ticket.
Analysts feel that as an independent, Makwa-varara,
widely seen as a political nonentity, would not win an election.
Just like most of her colleagues in the opposition party, she would
be politically doomed outside the MDC.
Munyaradzi Gwisai, who
had a fallout with the MDC leadership over policy issues, failed dismally
when he tried his luck as an independent in Highfield.
Traditionally, in elections, Zimbabweans have tended to vote more
for political parties rather than the people representing them.
Brian Kagoro, the newly elected chairman of Crisis Coalition, said although
the Urban Councils Act did not recognise expulsions and suspensions at party
level, the honourable thing for Makwavarara to do would be to resign from
"If sanity is to be restored, a councillor should sit in
council representing a political party.
"But as long as they
cease to represent that party, they should not be made councillors by a
"Makwavarara should step down and run for the
seat as an independent, but the danger is that she knows she won't be voted
back to that position.
"She is simply being used as a tool by the
executive to block all prospects of the MDC making meaningful
"The biggest problem we have at the moment is that we do
not have honest people in politics," he said.
the first woman deputy mayor of the country's capital city in urban council
elections held concurrently with the unprecedented presidential poll of March
2002 - controversially won by President Robert Mugabe.
Makwavarara - now perceived as an enemy by the opposition - waltzed into Town
House on an MDC ticket after thrashing ZANU PF's Martin Mhike
Analysts were this week adamant she won simply
because of the MDC's popularity in the face of voter anger against economic
mismanagement by the central government.
Soon after Chombo
suspended Mudzuri on what are widely considered trumped-up charges of
mismanagement, Makwavarara was catapulted to the position of acting
At first she hesitated, but after a few carrots were
dangled, she fell for the trick and single-handedly began taking and
implementing directives from Chombo despite several calls by her party to
resign and pave way for elections for a new deputy mayor following the
expiration of her term last September.
Instead, the acting mayor
quit the MDC - a party seemingly losing grip on its urban stronghold -
arguing she had been abused by the MDC leadership, including the party's
president, Morgan Tsvangirai.
She alleged Tsvangirai had labelled
her a sellout. She could, therefore, not serve two masters - the MDC and ZANU
Makwavarara, a mother of three, was quoted in the local press
as saying: "One can only be a sellout when he or she dines and wines
with foreigners for the downfall of one's country.
"I am nowhere
near that because I work with an elected government."
interpreted to mean she had swallowed, hook, line and sinker, ZANU PF's claim
that the MDC is being used by Britain and its allies to effect regime change
The MDC was particularly irked by her seemingly warm
relations with Chombo, who had been accused of bullying and frustrating the
Makwavarara therefore was, to all intents
and purposes, implementing ZANU PF policies at the behest of Chombo, to the
chagrin of the MDC leadership.
However, analysts said while
resigning as a councillor and then standing as an independent would be the
right thing to do, Makwavarara, who now lives in the plush suburb of Gunhill,
knew that it would be political suicide to go it alone as Mabvuku was still
perceived to be an MDC stronghold.
Joseph Kurebwa, a political
analyst, said: "It's not advisable for Makwavarara to take that risk because
the move will most likely backfire.
"We saw it when Munyaradzi
Gwisai thought he could go it alone in Highfield. He lost dismally.
Politicians are often reluctant to take such risks. It won't be in her
interest. In fact, it could be suicidal.
"Mabvuku, in my view, is
still an MDC stronghold and if she runs as an independent, she could lose
dismally as well.
"Her calculation is to hang on for as long as
possible, especially if she enjoys the support of ZANU PF, who, at the
moment, seem very keen to keep her there."
analyst and lecturer at the University of Zimbabwe, Heneri Dzinotyiwei, said:
"I do not support ZANU PF's philosophy of governance in urban
"We don't have enough resources to build luxury mansions and
buy expensive vehicles.
"Governance in urban areas is more of
middle management, but the ruling party has come up with executive mayors and
"Unfortunately, this creates conflict and the MDC has
fallen for it.The MDC should criticise the whole concept of executive
Mudzuri was ordered by the MDC national executive, to no
avail, to give up his benefits, including vacating the multi-million-dollar
Gunhill mayoral mansion and relinquishing the Mercedes Benz the government
had bought for him as part of his package.
"They should not emulate that type of governing.
not easily give up lucrative benefits that go with being in the hot
"She knows she got there through politics and, in view of the
current conflict, she has to position herself along political lines."
erstwhile biggest hope in terms of economic prosperity and political
stability at the turn of the 1980s, celebrates the 24th anniversary of its
independence on Sunday.
Opinions, however, remain starkly divided
over whether there is anything else to celebrate other than the right to
This is mainly because the independence celebrations come
against a backdrop of an unprecedented economic meltdown and general
Despite the potential for economic prosperity, the
country has largely remained a could-have-been-that-never-was.
In the court of public opinion, the economic chill that has
spawned destitution, social deprivation and heightened frustration should be
placed squarely on the shoulders of President Robert Mugabe's government,
whose back-to-the-land idealism is blamed for what is widely seen as the
failure of the country's once vibrant agricultural sector.
collapse of the hitherto reassuringly resilient economy into a recessionary
heap is dramatised by persistent shortages of foreign currency, basic
commodities and fuel, among others.
In the 24 years of independence
from Britain, there has been a swift and terrifying decline in the standards
of living, with an estimated 80 percent - a figure critics say is
conservative - of Zimbabwe's 13 million-plus people now living below the
poverty datum line.
Unemployment has risen to well over 70 percent
against a background of company closures.
now widely considered a festering national ulcer, has since breached the 600
percent mark - the highest in the region.
The stagnation and misery
characterising Zimbabwe today has forced an estimated 3.5 million people, a
third of the country's population, into exile.
have emigrated to Britain, which has had a diplomatic standoff with the
Zimbabwe government after the former colonial master was accused of being
bent on effecting regime change in the country.
24 years merely registered a period of sustained regress.
have nothing to show for it, except overwhelming poverty, economic decay, a
systematic loss of our basic freedoms and a national crisis whose dimensions
are mutating and fast becoming more pervasive in every facet of our
political, economic and social life," Morgan Tsvangirai, leader of
the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), said of
Such is the grim situation confronting Zimbabweans
today after almost two decades of a bloody liberation struggle waged against
the former colonial master alleged by the government to be, up to now, still
refusing to atone for its colonial sin.
Ironically though, that
war was led, among others, by President Mugabe, whose convictions about black
rule were never in doubt.
It is the same President Mugabe who is
now being accused of being slow with political reform following failed
negotiations with the MDC, and of being a liberator-turned-oppressor after
the promulgation of draconian laws that have turned back the hands of the
country's political clock.
The most contentious pieces of
legislation that have been widely condemned for restricting rights to freedom
of expression, association and assembly include the Broadcasting Services
Act, the Public Order and Security Act, and the Access to Information and
Protection of Privacy Act.
Constitutional law expert Lovemore
Madhuku said between 1980 and April 2004, Zimbabwe had moved from a
parliamentary system of enacting laws to a presidential system.
"The Lancaster House Constitution has been amended at least 17 times and
almost every change was focused on concentrating power in the
"It (the constitution) has had detrimental effects on
the economy and the society in that there is no benefit of a free flow of
"The lack of democracy creates a situation where ideas that
rule are not tested," said Madhuku.
But what do others feel has
really gone wrong?
"We got it wrong by placing political expediency
ahead of economic rationale.
"Economic rationality could have
dictated that we build a strong industrial base first before embarking on an
emotional land reform," said John Makumbe, a University of Zimbabwe lecturer
and political commentator.
He said the land reform - which many
people attack for the manner in which it was conducted and not the motive of
resettling landless blacks - had weakened agriculture, which used to have the
single biggest sectoral contribution to the gross domestic
This, he said, had disastrous effects on industry and
"There have been meaningful developments in terms of
infrastructure installations and human resource development, but all that has
been overweighed by the negatives, which far outweigh the
"Infrastructure has deteriorated because of lack of
maintenance, roads are now a danger zone and education is crumbling and we
now have a higher dropout rate. Zimbabwe is now an exporter of expertise,
which has seen a serious brain drain," added Makumbe.
2000 to 2004 had demonstrated the failure of the thinking that land was the
economy. Land was not the economy unless used productively, he
Makumbe maintained that the only way to get out of the
current quagmire would be through a regime change.
Makumbe is a
known fierce government critic and is widely seen as an MDC
"It is only regime change that will open doors to
negotiations with the international community.
essentially doomed unless there is a bright spark somewhere that would enable
people to effect regime change from within.
"The outside world will
not help us. We have to fight to liberate ourselves from our oppressors who
were our liberators." he added.
Financial sector shake-down reverberates across
Nelson Banya 4/16/2004 1:45:26 AM (GMT
AS the near catastrophic upheaval in the financial services
sector recedes and normalcy appears to return, albeit in radically
changed circumstances, the reverberations from the turmoil will be felt
across the economy for a long time to come.
The banking sector,
which had bucked the economic downturn in the recessive past five years, had
become the anchor of the economy.
It became common cause that
should the sector sneeze, then the whole economy would catch a collective
The asset bubble, which burst when the Reserve Bank of
Zimbabwe (RBZ) took a radical change of approach in its interest rate policy
in the December monetary policy, has had downstream effects.
sharp rise in interest rates, which touched off the 1 000 percent mark in
December, caught firms with asset-liability mismatch napping.
of the far-reaching consequences of the financial sector shake-down were felt
on the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange (ZSE), which is yet to recover from a stock
overhang wrought by massive sell-offs as investors reduced their exposure,
either due to sagging confidence or the need to service debts with distressed
Some major deals, struck last year at the height of the
great bull run that saw the ZSE industrial index reaching 734 000 points, are
now facing the ignominy of reversal.
Most of the deals were
financed through what the RBZ has now declared to be an imprudent and
unsecured lending culture.
The wholesale stock disposals increased
the selling pressure on the ZSE, which was depressed throughout the first
quarter of the year.
The central bank's crusade against non-core
banking practice has also left some frail manufacturing firms in the
Some of the most remarkable turn-around stories in the
manufacturing industry were accomplished with no small involvement by
financial institutions. Brick manufacturer Willdale Limited and Willowvale
Mazda Motor Industries, are two examples.
The two firms enjoyed
a close relationship with Trust Holdings and the Intermarket group, both of
which have been stalked by a debilitating liquidity crunch arising from
massive asset-liability gaps.
Analysts have noted that at a time
when banks were virtually the sole viable industry, it had become a common
survival strategy for firms in other sectors to have tie-ups with financial
Banks, on the other hand, saw their straying into the
proscribed non-core arena as a means of hedging risk and investing in
All this has come apart, but economic
analysts say this is not bad for the economy, as the traditional relationship
of banker and client, which had been complicated by some cross-ownerships,
would be restored.
"That relationship does not have to be
destroyed, and it is not being destroyed, but has to be modified. If
anything, the banks are going to emerge stronger from this crisis, meaning
they will be able to offer a better product to their clients," economic
commentator Jonathan Kadzura said.
In recent weeks, two
ZSE-listed firms, meat processor Colcom Holdings Limited and retail group
Tedco Limited, were forced to make about-turns on critical company decisions
by the upheaval in the financial sector.
Tedco, which was supposed
to demerge and separately list its manufacturing unit, had to suspend the
plans, citing unfavourable market conditions currently prevailing, while the
money-spinning Colcom made a volte-face on a dividend declaration which would
have seen the firm dole out $1.5 billion to shareholders.
was put down to "closures of certain financial institutions" which could no
longer provide the company with concessionary productive sector
Non-governmental organisations (NGOs) have not been spared
the winds of change emanating from the financial sector
Most of the NGOs had built up huge cost structures
arising from massive salary and allowance bills which were fuelled by the
parallel foreign currency market.
However, as the banks and
other financial institutions beat a hasty retreat from the parallel market,
rates plummeted, further compounded by the controlled auction of hard
currencies at the RBZ. As a result, most NGOs have had to wield the scythe on
In some cases, NGOs have slashed wages by as much as
50 percent, while some are contemplating packing up altogether, citing the
now unviable exchange rate.
The local currency was in free-fall
until the introduction of the currency auctions and the Zimbabwe dollar has
been quoted between $3 500 (in January) and $4 500 (currently) to the United
The local unit was trading at around $6 500
against the greenback in December, before the banking industry met its
THE re-election of
President Thabo Mbeki's African National Congress (ANC), which is a virtual
certainty, may not be sweet music in the ears of President Robert Mugabe's
ZANU PF, which could face renewed pressure to level the electoral playing
field and re-engage the main opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC)
While ZANU PF feels safer to have the ANC at the helm
of South Africa' s body politic than Tony Leon's Democratic Alliance or
Mangosuthu Buthelezi' s Inkatha Freedom Party, the ruling party is not so
sure whether it could continue to duck and dive over niggling issues once
President Mbeki secures a fresh five-year mandate.
the turbulent political situation in South Africa's troubled northern
neighbour, Zimbabwe, could be what President Mbeki wants to unlock the
international support he has been itching for to deliver on his election
promises and to get his New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD)
A victory would certainly give the South African president
more confidence to deal with the lingering Zimbabwe question.
Apart from vanquishing apartheid in the first democratic elections of April
1994, the ANC has not really delivered on its pledge to tackle ravaging
poverty and unemployment affecting as much as 40 percent of the country's
Questions are already being asked about what an ANC
re-election would mean for Zimbabwe. Is President Mbeki going to abandon his
quiet diplomacy strategy on Zimbabwe or, better still, will the South African
leader open the floodgates for thousands of impoverished Zimbabweans seeking
economic and political asylum in his country?
economic analysts who spoke to The Financial Gazette this week ahead of the
outcome of the polls in South Africa were unanimous that this time President
Mbeki may want to move with speed to address the Zimbabwe question as he
prepares to deliver on his election promises.
They said for the
international community to part with the funds for his endeavour to provide
jobs for hundreds of thousands of unemployed South Africans, as per his top
election promise, the pipe-smoking Mbeki had to be seen to be acting on the
Harare regime, accused by the west and the local opposition of being
draconian and repressive.
Eric Bloch, an economic commentator based
here, predicted that President Mbeki's re-election would most likely see
Johannesburg stepping up pressure on President Mugabe's ZANU PF, which has
been in power for the past 24 years, to re-open talks with the
"Mbeki's re-election is likely to result in formal talks
being undertaken between ZANU PF and the MDC. President Mbeki has said before
and during his election campaign that Zimbabwe's problems will be resolved
by June this year.
"It implies that significant talks motivated
by South Africa are likely to take place in Zimbabwe between ZANU PF and the
MDC. He is still going to act as an honest broker, but I think this will not
be in June as hinted by Mbeki because June is too soon for such a complicated
political process," said Bloch.
The outcome of formal talks
between ZANU PF and MDC could influence President Mbeki's policy on
If the formal talks do not succeed, the Zimbabwe problem
will remain a constant thorn for President Mbeki and his NEPAD
The west, local opposition politicians and analysts have,
for the past few years, criticised the South African leader for his so-called
"quiet diplomacy" on Zimbabwe, saying the policy has never worked except
for encouraging the Harare regime to lord it over its citizens.
University of Zimbabwe (UZ) lecturer and political analyst
Heneri Dzinotyiwei, however, said President Mbeki had shown a mature and
thorough understanding of both regional and Zimbabwean issues beyond what
many people might have thought.
"I think his coming back as
President of South Africa will give us Zimbabweans a chance to look at
ourselves and try and solve our own problems. He has studied our problems and
can be of valuable assistance," he said.
A diplomat added her
voice on the implications of Mbeki's re-election to Zimbabwe: "It is possible
that, once elected, he might change his previous policy of quiet diplomacy on
Zimbabwe after he gets the re-election behind him. For Mbeki to deliver the
jobs, he needs NEPAD, which presently is 100 percent being undermined by
Zimbabwe. NEPAD will not work unless he deals with Zimbabwe. If he needs to
create those jobs, he certainly has to focus on NEPAD. And if he does that,
then we are sure to see a shift in his foreign policy towards
The analysts were also unanimous that President Mbeki
would find it extremely difficult to ease his country's stringent
requirements for Zimbabweans and other Africans seeking political and
economic asylum as "he is already flooded with illegal immigrants taking
South African jobs".
John Makumbe, a political science lecturer at
the UZ, was more pessimistic about Mbeki's fresh mandate as far as addressing
Zimbabwe's needling political and economic crisis was concerned.
Although agreeing that he might certainly tighten immigration laws, Makumbe
said the South African leader would like to maintain his present status quo
"Mbeki is going to maintain the status quo. He is not
going to improve things for us," said Makumbe. "He is still quite intimidated
by President Mugabe and he is likely to continue the meaningless quiet
diplomacy. There is really nothing for us Zimbabweans. He might even tighten
the position of South Africa concerning Zimbabweans escaping from President
Mugabe into Johannesburg.
"The only hope now is that SADC
(Southern African Development Community) countries such as Botswana,
Mozambique and Zambia might work with him to press President Mugabe for
minimum standards of holding free and fair elections. Because he is afraid of
Mugabe, he cannot be trusted to do it alone."
TWENTY-FOUR years ago on April 18
1980, Zimbabwe got its independence from Britain. This came after a brutal
and bloody war of liberation that saw tens of thousands killed and maimed
until the cessation of hostilities in 1979.
Zimbabweans commemorate the hard-won independence in the aftermath of that
war which reverberated beyond national and continental borders. And as they
take a fleeting glance down the corridor of time, it would however be a lot
more than just about remembering independence.
Among other things,
it would be about sparing a thought for those who made it possible for us to
enjoy that independence - those liberation war heroes who today are a symbol
of black people's resistance to racial discrimination. These are men and
women who paid the ultimate price for a non-racial Zimbabwe. The agony and
grief of their death is still fresh in the minds of their nearest and
dearest, long after the guns have been silenced.
importantly, however, it should be time for national reflection. Time for
self-analysis with a view to self-correction because a lot has gone wrong
especially on the economic and socio-political front. What with
the disastrous condition of the collapsing health and education
delivery systems, the wave of avoidable traumatic political violence, the
tide of company bankruptcies and the resultant job losses, the abject
poverty stalking the nation, the citizens' anger, disillusionment and deep
well of disenchantment, ad inifinitum. The pendulum has truly swung too far
the other way. Indeed, the more cynical would say other than the universal
adult suffrage, what else is there to celebrate?
One of Africa's
wealthiest nations has been reduced to an economic basket case. Yet the pride
of any nation should stem from self-sufficiency. The country's risk profile,
at one time always in the AA grade, now makes for some pretty dismal reading.
Its international credit rating has, to all intents and purposes, been
reduced to junk status. The international perception is that Zimbabwe is now
a banana republic. And it is imperative to point out here that in business,
perception, whether we like it or not, is considered fact.
this, the sad reflection of the shrunken state of the country's economy, must
be blamed squarely on the shoulders of the arrogant ruling clique which has
lost touch with reality and tends to live in the past - the opium of ZANU PF
politicians. As we have said before, it is perfectly normal and right to be
proud of the past, but very wrong to live in that past.
times have we heard these people repeatedly bragging and reminding all and
sundry about their war credentials as if that would be the remedy for the
economic crisis and national disintegration?
war of independence, one of the bloodiest in Africa, occupies a special place
in the hearts of the citizens of this great nation and will forever be etched
in the annals of the history of the country with unfailing clarity. But with
all due respect to those who sacrificed life and limb for the liberation of
the country, it will no longer be a rallying point for the
That is why we feel that there is need for
self-introspection on the part of all those who feel deeply responsible for
everything going on in this country. This will help Zimbabwe demystify the
terrible aura associated with self-rule in Africa, where founding national
leaders have bequeathed to their nations terrible legacies characterised by
obsolete socio-political and economic structures.
though, despite the country's potential, at the moment nothing much separates
Zimbabwe from the other failed African states enduring suffocating
dictatorships. The country has its needle well and truly stuck. It is laden
with gloom and doom as it remains bogged down in a dramatic economic crisis,
the bane of the long-suffering populace. There is also a climate of
constraint - marked by an absence of basic rights and freedoms, although the
powers-that-be would like us to believe otherwise.
questions would be: Is this the Zimbabwe that the heroes, dead and living,
would be proud of? Have we as a nation accepted the mystique of the failure
of African governments?
Hardly, because for the ordinary man in the
street, nothing could be further from the truth. Even though they know that
the situation does not lend itself to a quick fix, Zimbabweans, who bore the
brunt of the war of liberation upon which the independence we will be
celebrating on Sunday was founded, yearn for a better Zimbabwe. Grappling
with probably their worst economic and social hardships, they are hoping for
deeper rapprochement with the international community to help the country
wriggle out of these awkward scrapes. Unlike the politicians, they are
sincere enough to acknowledge that no country is an island. They want to
build a Zimbabwe that, in the eyes of the international community, is a
politically stable and economically reliable nation.
If only the
leadership could be responsible and reasonable enough to listen to the voice
of reason and act in accordance with the influence of reality.
What's the legal protection for innocent
4/16/2004 1:24:51 AM (GMT +2)
financial institutions have been proved by the recently announced monetary
policy to have been operating on the wrong side of the law.
were allegedly involved in illicit subterranean dealings.
institutions were also affected by gross mismanagement, misappropriation of
funds through insider dealings and selfish allocations of benefits and
allowances to directors.
This article seeks to analyse the laws
available to deal with truant directors. It also seeks to highlight legal
remedies available to shareholders and depositors alike who incur patrimonial
loss as a result of negligent financial dealings by company
According to law, once a company has duly been
registered, it assumes a different persona from the natural individuals who
incorporate it. It is held to be a judicial persona and, essentially, the law
allows it to create rights and incur obligations like a natural person would
Thus, it can enter into a contract to borrow money, to buy
movable and immovable property and to employ people to assist in its
However, it can be noticed from the above that a
company, being an invisible entity, has no brains of its own. It can only
operate and sustain itself through natural persons appointed for that
Thus, shareholders appoint directors and give them the
mandate to formulate informed business policies that must bring about the
best returns on their investments.
Directors, therefore, are
held to be the brain of a company. They think for it, design business
strategies and ensure prudent use of shareholder funds.
Accordingly, the common law has developed strict rules governing the conduct
of directors. It is settled law that directors owe a fiduciary duty to the
company and its shareholders. This is a duty of utmost good faith, and such a
duty demands that directors conduct themselves in a manner that brings
financial benefit to the company and its shareholders.
It is a
breach of this duty to, for example, enter into undisclosed contracts with
the company. It is also a requirement of this duty to declare all the profits
This rule also generally restricts companies from giving
loans to their directors. Section 177 of the Companies Act Chapter 24:03 (the
Act) has strengthened this old common law requirement.
also a duty of care and skill owed to the company by its directors. This
fundamental duty dictates that in whatever they do for the company, directors
or one of them must exhibit maximum care to limit potential
Directors must also manifest a certain minimum level of skill
of a reasonable, prudent person in their position.
It is a
blatant breach of this duty for a director to unwittingly go on a borrowing
spree when the company's resources cannot service the same loans. Besides
bringing a potential liquidation of the company, this imprudent act will
erode potential dividends due to shareholders.
It is also grossly
unwise and a clear case of negligence for directors to offer themselves huge
loans at very low interest rates, and have such loans to be paid at an
undetermined future date.
This common practice among the selfish
directors of indigenous-owned banks has facilitated the illiquid state of
Due regard to rules of good corporate
governance was cast out of the window. Instead, company directors in these
institutions, in clear breach of legal rules, resorted to unbridled
selfishness and outright misappropriation, to the detriment of companies and
The Companies Act is the main body of law
governing company practice in Zimbabwe. There are also other applicable laws,
such as the Reserve Bank Act, which bestows power on the Reserve Bank to
monitor the performance of banks and other related financial
Section 343 of the Act penalises directors who give
false statements about their companies. Section 343 also specifically
penalises "any person", and this includes a director who falsifies
information in books.
A violation of any of these sections can
invite a fine and an imprisonment of up to two years or both the fine and
It is common cause that several financial
institutions in the past flighted positive annual financial returns that were
doctored. These were obviously misleading, as was proved by the immediate
collapse of the same banks soon after corrective measures to bring sanity to
the financial sector was announced by the Reserve Bank.
above provisions restrict complainants to the shareholders, the Registrar of
Companies and the state.
In the event that a director of a company
has given falsehoods regarding the financial position of the company, and a
prosecution ensues, the fine awarded as a penalty will go to the state and
not the person induced to invest as a result of the misrepresentation in
An investor who suffers loss as a result of
falsehoods has a remedy in civil law under the law of delict. He or she will
have to institute an action to sue the director or auditor who caused the
publication of the misleading statements.
While such an
individual can also sue the company, such a course of action is hindered by
the often cruel discovery that the company will be under judicial management
Unfortunately, the law does not permit individuals
under sequestration, or companies under judicial management or liquidation,
to be sued. Once a state of illiqudity has been declared, it effectively
suspends all current or future litigation during the winding up process or
judicial management, whatever the case maybe.
causes undue hardship and an injustice in scenarios where not enough assets
can be realised to pay the company's creditors.
According to the
South Africa case of Mclelland v Hullett and others decided in 1992, a
shareholder who suffers damages as a result of truant or careless directors
can personally sue those directors to recover his losses. The position is the
same in our country.
In the past, such a possibility was remote
because only a company could have capacity and the legal rights to sue its
Consequently, a shareholder with any of the collapsed
financial institutions has a right at law to claim against the corrupt
directors who plundered his investments.
In order for such a
claim to be successful, there are a few legal requirements that such a
litigant will have to prove. The damages claimed must be capable of being
quantified. More importantly, he must prove that the director:
lshould have foreseen the possibility that the shareholder might
lshould have taken steps to guard against the harm
but he failed to do so; and
labove all this, it must be proved
that the directors owed the shareholder a legal duty to protect his
investments and that the loss was not what is called a "loss of a pure
When attempting to reach a decision favourable to
the shareholder, the court will also consider whether the number of potential
plaintiffs would be determinable.
It is the practice of the
courts to guard against opening "floodgates" of litigation by allowing
indeterminable plaintiffs to sue a single defendant, or director in this
instance. This is a rule governed by public policy.
prima facie proof that most, if not all, directors in the collapsed
institutions breached a duty of care owed to their companies
Some bought countless immovable properties,
fleets of expensive luxury cars, indulged in speculative dealings and, with
full knowledge, violated exchange control regulations to their benefit and to
the detriment of their companies and shareholders.
those who have been stripped of their ill-acquired wealth, a lot are ready
for the taking, by way of litigation, because of the vast empires of wealth
they have created.
While it is apparent that shareholders in
financial institutions have remedies against their directors, the same cannot
be said of depositors.
It is suggested that a special fund be
created under the auspices of the Reserve Bank to cater for the interests of
innocent depositors who incur financial loss as a result of mismanaged
Currently, in the event of a liquidation,
and the curator not having realised enough assets to pay creditors, a
majority of depositors stand to lose out.
.. Vote Muza is a
legal practitioner with Gutu and Chikowero law firm.
Industry players meet to deflate ballooning crime
Staff Reporter 4/16/2004 1:33:54 AM (GMT
PLAYERS in the insurance industry, grappling with the rising
cost of claims, will meet in Harare next month to work out strategies to save
the sector from mounting operational problems.
Council of Zimbabwe (ICZ) said this week it was convening a stakeholders'
conference to fight crime, which has cost the industry billions of
Grace Muradzikwa, a member of the council's public
relations sub-committee, said a realisation that there was lack of a
coordinated approach towards fighting crime had prompted ICZ to open dialogue
among interested industry players.
"Although the main thrust of
the conference will be on traditional crimes affecting the insurance industry
such as motor vehicle and property theft, other forms of crime will also be
looked at," she said.
Muradzikwa, who is the managing director of
Nicoz/Diamond, said ICZ would seek support from the private sector and public
sector organisations also affected by the increased crime rate.
"Possible ways of addressing the major constraints currently hampering the
effectiveness of the law enforcement agencies locally and abroad will also be
"The campaign aims to increase awareness regarding the most
common crimes and the role that members of the public can play to assist the
law enforcement agencies in curbing crime," she said.
By the end
of December 2003, Zimbabwe had 1051 reported cases of car thefts, with Harare
hitting a record of 633, followed by Bulawayo with 226 cases.
Manicaland recorded 25, Mashonaland 22, Mashonaland East 32, Mashonaland West
43, Masvingo 14, Matabeleland North two, Matabeleland South 20 and the
Midlands province 27.
The land reform has become quite
topical in both political and policy circles.
The debate has
been on-going for some time, to the extent that there seems to be an inherent
convergence of minds regarding its irreversibility.
If one assumes
that land reform, be it fast-track or otherwise, can no longer be reversed,
the next issue that needs serious attention is how to maximise gains out of
Going around the country in the former white commercial farms,
anybody who is truly a patriotic Zimbabwean cannot help but bleed from
Having taken a keen interest in
the seemingly high failure rate of our "new" farmers, I wish to bring to
light and spark debate on one of the major constraints facing these farmers -
From casual observations, it looks like most of the
resettled farmers are faced with a challenge of "shortage of labour", among
others. There are other factors - like lack of skills and experience to run a
commercial concern, shortage of equipment and inputs, and shortage of working
capital to fund such inputs as labour and other hired factors of
In the business of farming, timing is very critical.
While availability of fertiliser is a necessary condition to ensure high
yields, it is not a sufficient condition. The fertiliser must be the right
type, applied at the right time in the right amounts.
is true with weeding. It has to be done on time, otherwise the crop will be a
complete write-off, even having satisfied all other conditions.
A lot of white commercial farmers left with their machinery and most of the
new owners still depend on draught power, which is inappropriate for the
scale of production under commercial farming. Where 10 tractors used
to operate, only one, if any, is being used.
What this means is
that the whole farming exercise becomes more labour-intensive.
Labour-intensive operations require that cheap, efficient labour be readily
available to the farmer.
Most of the new farmers are not using
herbicides, which are appropriate where there is a high hectarage under
crops. But why has labour all of sudden become a problem?
of the problem is the issue of pricing, while the other has to do with
alternative survival strategies.
Wages as price of
On pricing, labour must be compensated at a level that will
induce willingness to work. This becomes a challenge in a
While other input costs have been
keeping pace with inflation, wages for farm labourers have not been as
responsive. Most of our new farmers, either out of lack of capacity to pay or
because of mere greed that had gripped the economy, have not been fair with
Some prominent businesspersons allocated land under
the A2 scheme have reportedly performed badly this season as workers shun
them for better-paying employers. In this respect, our farmers are encouraged
to invest in their workers as a factor of production if they expect a
Farm labourers and makorokoza
developments in the economy have seen the emergence of two big threats to the
availability of farm labour - that is, gold panning (kukorokoza) and donor
The flourishing parallel market for gold and foreign currency
had generated an unusual interest in gold panning, with new deposits
being discovered and the landscape being damaged more than ever
Most of the youths who would be available as farm labourers
opted for gold panning, whose returns far outpaced those from the farms. In
some areas, especially those with huge deposits of gold, a farmer, though
willing to pay an economic wage, could hardly attract any
Donor aid and farm labour
The other problem,
which some have categorised as sabotage, related to the effect of donor aid -
food aid in particular.
The period of the fast-track land reform
programme coincided with successive droughts which threatened life itself in
some areas. The donor community responded by providing aid in the form of
Whether this was overdone or done with other
motives is for the reader to judge. What is very clear is that in some areas
people were supplied with mealie-meal, beans, porridge and cooking oil,
foodstuffs which previously were supplied by some commercial farmers to
incentivise their workers.
When one has access to such basics to
survival without working, it is not surprising if such a person chooses to
withdraw his or her services from the farmer.
appears to be common across all provinces, unlike gold panning, which is
confined to certain areas with a good concentration of
While these two
challenges cannot be avoided altogether, a way to manage them is to rely on a
good complement of permanent workers. Observations suggest that permanent
workers are less responsive to other alternatives to survival and that those
who relied on casual labourers tended to suffer most.
key stakeholders should thus give a deep thought to these challenges with a
view to making our farms productive once again. To pretend that all is well
on the farms will be to fool ourselves.
The sooner we respond to
this and other challenges facing the "backbone" of our economy, the earlier
we get the economy out of the wheelchair, and the better for the citizens of
Moses Chundu is group economist for Century Holdings
and a member of the Zimbabwe Economics Society.
been a tale of two elections. South Africa's issues-driven and fairly
contested general elections versus Zimbabwe's one-sided and violence-riddled
Although Zimbabwe has a 14-year head start
over South Africa in the majority rule stakes, the contrast in the way these
polls were conducted shows we have a great deal to learn from our southern
Politics may be a dirty game most of the time but I
must confess I have found it engrossing, educative and entertaining in the
build-up to the South African elections, mainly because the candidates played
by the rules. They sweated it out on the campaign trail in an effort to
engage and win votes.
In contrast, the disproportionate tumult
and blatant unfairness characterising our by-election put me off completely.
After what was seen in Zengeza, the forthcoming Lupane by-election and next
year's nationwide parliamentary elections are a depressing and daunting
prospect. How high will the death toll be? You may accuse me of being a
prophet of doom, but I am being brutally realistic.
month ago as campaigning in South Africa gathered momentum, a headline in a
Sunday newspaper caught my eye: "Election marred by foot in mouth". It was
over a story about the misfortunes of the opposition Democratic Alliance
candidate for premier in the Western Cape, Theunis Botha. He had got himself
into a tight spot by stating during a television debate that his party was
only for the white elite. The ensuing storm of protest obliged Botha to dig
himself out of his self-created "Tower of Babel" by explaining himself. In
the event, he resorted to the favourite alibi of politicians everywhere by
claiming he had been quoted out of context.
The story left me
green with envy. First, here was an opposition candidate having access to the
press to put his views forward and to defend his position once a
misunderstanding arose. How many opposition politicians have access to
Zimbabwe's state-controlled media?
Secondly, I was envious of the
conducive political atmosphere in South Africa. I wished speaking out of turn
by candidates was the category of problem we had to contend with during our
local polls. But I knew that the then pending Zengeza by-election would be
marred by incidents far more serious than slips of the tongue. I dreaded the
fact that local newspaper headlines were more likely to feature intimidation,
arrests, violence and even death as some of the "highlights" of the election.
As it turned out, all my worst fears came to pass.
harassment, intimidation, violence, arrests and loss of life that occurred in
Zengeza mean that the people of that tiny constituency paid a heavier price
for the right to vote than the whole of South Africa's population of more
than 40 million. All this is attributable to a seriously flawed electoral
system which is contrary to all the accepted objectives of an election in a
"What I want," Abraham Lincoln once said, "is to get
done what the people desire to have done and the question for me is how to
find that out exactly."
Well, elections are a pretty accurate
gauge by which politicians can keep their fingers on the pulse of the people.
In a sense, free and fair elections in which all candidates get a chance to
engage the electorate in a dialogue and submit to scrutiny and criticism of
their ideas is a way of taking government and politics to the people. It is
something Zimbabwean voters have been deprived of. I, for example, would be
hard put to recall any election campaign during which legislators who have
been in our parliament since 1980 debated issues, said memorable things and
genuinely interacted with their constituents. It seems that being re-elected
is such a foregone conclusion they cannot be bothered to lift a
But South Africa does things differently, as an incident
involving the top gun himself, President Thabo Mbeki, has demonstrated. When
Mbeki got entangled in a semantic minefield over a remark on the campaign
trail that he would beat up his sister if she fell in love with the leader of
an opposition party, various constituents did not hesitate to take him to
task for this chauvinistic and intolerant outburst. While, as in Zimbabwe,
the arrogant reaction would have been to say take it or leave it, Mbeki
cared enough about what the people thought to respond to the
Knowing that the ANC had a commanding lead in the opinion
polls, he could have adopted the attitude that those who did not like what he
had said could go to hell.
"DA BOPS TO AFROPOP" said a headline
over a story about DA leader Tony Leone toyi-toying at a rally in Soweto. The
report said the opposition party had made winning black votes a key election
Likewise, another headline, 'MBEKI'S EXTREME MAKEOVER"
was over a story detailing how the normally aloof South African leader had
climbed down from his intellectual ivory tower to interact with the people on
the campaign trial. He did his best to woo voters in traditionally
white constituencies. During many of these encounters he was
confronted, challenged and criticised over various issues but he took it all
with good humour. Can that ever happen in Zimbabwe?
tell me why it is that in this country it is the nation that has to endure
the ordeal of witnessing violence, harassment, arrests, killings and
abductions whenever an election is held?
I am not normally an
admirer of Mbeki but as far as this current election is concerned, he has
done everything expected of a head of state to ensure a safe, free and fair
election. Last weekend, just days before the polls, he appealed for peace and
urged South Africans to go to the polls "without fear of being killed or
having their homes burnt down." Will we ever hear such re-assuring words in
The deal is the result of months of talks and stipulates a strict
repayment schedule for the about $20m Zimbabwe owes Eskom, as well forward
cash payments for power. Zimbabwe imports about 35% of its power needs,
mostly from SA, Mozambique and the Democratic Republic of
Citing client confidentiality, Eskom has declined to give the
amount by which Zimbabwe is in payment arrears, but the Financial Gazette,
Zimbabwe's weekly business newspaper, quotes a Zimbabwe Electricity Supply
Authority (Zesa) spokesman as saying that it is paying monthly payments of
$1,5m to reduce its arrears owed to a number of regional utilities.
mid-January this year, Zesa had debts to Eskom of $19,4m, owed HCB
of Mozambique $29,6 m, EDM of Mozambique $8m, Zesco of Zambia $2,4m and
Sneil of the Congo $1,3m. In addition, it owes other creditors
These debts are for unpaid electricity, spare parts, machinery
and transmission equipment.
A long-term contract between Eskom and
Zesa ended at the end of last year, but was extended by three months while
negotiations took place.
Apart from the stipulation of upfront payment
for electricity, the agreement does not contain a fixed minimum amount of
electricity for which Zimbabwe must pay.
The old agreement stipulated
150MW an hour, but the new one permits Zimbabwe to buy whatever power it
requires subject to continued debt service. This gives the Zimbabwean
authorities leeway to purchase what they can afford and better reflects
reduced demand in the contracting economy.
According to the Financial
Gazette, Eskom, HCB and Snel were demanding that Zesa repay debts fully
before any new deal could be signed, but Zimbabwe was in the end able to
negotiate a more favourable deal.
Zimbabwe's electricity generation has
been impaired by inadequate coal supplies to Hwange power station, resulting
in the power station generating only 480MW at a time when imports have fallen
to 60% of former levels.
According to the Zimbabwe Power Company,
Zimbabwe's peak electricity demand is projected to have increased to more
than 2600MW this year from 2 000MW last year. Zesa requires $17m every month
to meet electricity import obligations, service debts and buy spares for
To help Zesa raise the foreign currency, the utility's
customers that export are now being billed in hard currency, a development
that has generated angry responses from industry, according to the Financial
have warned against the dominance of the ANC, effectively calling for the
building of a strong and united opposition under the Democratic Alliance,
have used Zimbabwe as an example of how an all-powerful ruling party
can go astray.
They have even coined the term "Zanufication" of a
country, implying the mismanagement of the economy and the country, just as
Zanu PF spoilt the jewel that was Zimbabwe before the invasion of white-owned
farms in 2000.
In this country, the DA fashioned itself as the only
party that could reduce the ANC's power and thus played a watchdog role. The
party sought to project the image of two bulls - the ANC and the DA - in the
kraal. The others were calves that could only submit themselves to either of
This campaign has worked for the DA. It has generally
increased its support throughout the country. However, the ANC is still by
far the most popular party and the final official results will confirm
The growth of the DA is almost directly proportional to the
decline of the New National Party. It seems the NNP strategy to embrace the
ANC - purportedly to work for national reconciliation and unity of all
South Africans - has backfired. Many of its traditional supporters seem to
have gravitated towards the DA.
The new kid on the block,
Patricia de Lille's Independent Democrats, has done relatively well for a
party formed on the eve of the election.
But overall, the ANC is
still the undisputed preferred choice of the people. As a result, President
Thabo Mbeki will retain his position, for his last lap, as CEO of South
It's a foregone conclusion that on April 23, when the
new parliament meets to elect a president, Mbeki will be the only name put
forward. And so will begin the last part of his journey as
He will want to perfect his record so when he finally
steps down he leaves the highest office in the land in blazing
glory. Thus the next five years provide Mbeki with a unique opportunity
not only to make good the promises he and the ANC made to millions of
South Africans, but also to right the wrongs of the past five
Like a Formula One driver, when he takes the chequered flag
in 2009 Mbeki should be able - in true grand prix style- to punch the air and
look back with pride at his legacy. However, he can only do so if he
makes the right moves now.
The first move would be to assemble a
dream team whose duty it would be to deliver the mandate given to Mbeki and
the ANC by the millions who voted for them.
By all accounts,
South Africa can expect massive changes to the Mbeki cabinet - there are
ministers who have served for 10 years and have indicated they would like to
do other things.
These include Environmental Affairs and
Tourism Minister Valli Moosa and Justice Minister Penuell Maduna. There is
also a vacancy created by the death of Transport Minister Dullah
The new cabinet will have to deliver on the ANC manifesto
which had jobs, HIV/Aids, social services and fighting poverty as its
Already there is huge anxiety in cabinet circles. In
the last three months all ministers were asked by the president to wrap up
their work for the past five years and prepare the office for a new
This tactic has unsettled even better-performing
ministers who know that, based on their track record, they should be in the
But they are anxious because Mbeki is not
predictable. His style of leadership is very unorthodox. The appointment five
years ago of Ndaweni Mahlangu as premier of Mpumalanga is proof of
Skills and expertise are the obvious attributes Mbeki will
look for. He will then have to balance that with other interests, such as
maintaining a balance with alliance partners Cosatu and the SA Communist
Party, as well as political allies such as the New National
Mbeki has told the media that during his election campaign
he was exposed to the severe poverty that many, including whites, were
He indicated poverty would require urgent attention and the
local government would have to be at the centre of delivery of social
Given the lack of capacity at local government, Mbeki
might deploy some top guns at this level of government to improve delivery of
The election campaign saw the re-making of Mbeki as "the
man of the people". He was seen interacting with ordinary people. This
direct interaction enabled him to understand better the struggles ordinary
people were facing.
This was made possible because the ANC
campaign had fewer mass rallies but more direct contact with the
Mbeki left people with a sense that they had received some
personal touch from the ANC and, in particular, the president.
stroke of brilliance in the ANC campaign was the decision for Mbeki to go
into areas not traditionally ANC.
He ventured into poor white
areas-- traditionally the home of supporters of the Freedom Front Plus - and
instead of the anticipated cold shoulder, Mbeki was received with some
This strategic move debunked the myth that most of South
Africa's traditionally white voting areas were no-go areas for the
Now that the ANC has won in a free and fair election, the
opposition parties will have to play their role. If they do, as fragmented as
they are, there is no reason to fear the Zanufication of South Africa.
Editor THE Zimbabwe Cricket Union believes that there are some outside
forces behind the current problems between the union and a group of 13
contracted white players who have made themselves unavailable for the one-day
series against Sri Lanka.
Former captain Heath Streak, Stuart
Carlisle, Grant Flower, Craig Wishart, Andy Blignaut, Ray Price, Gary Brent,
Sean Ervine, Travis Friend, Barney Rogers, Trevor Gripper, Richard Sims and
Neil Ferreira are said to have indicated to ZCU managing director Vince Hogg
that they will not be available for the squad.
Instead they have
presented the ZCU with a new set of demands and yesterday a new-look
selection panel had to name a 14-member provisional squad of 11 blacks, two
whites and an Indian for the first match at Queens on April 20. The new panel
consists of Steven Mangongo (convenor), Macsood Ebrahim, Walter Chawaguta and
former national team off-spinner Richard Herbert Kaschula
ZCU last night ordered the rebel players to report for training today or face
sanctions and possible expulsion from Zimbabwe cricket.
Peter Chingoka said yesterday the outside forces are against the racial
integration programme being undertaken by the union to try and spread the
game, previously exclusive to the white community, to
"About eight weeks ago we gathered from a reliable
source that there is a small group of people that has devised a strategy, in
their own words, "to destroy Zimbabwean cricket this year." The group
includes parents with a vicarious interest on behalf of their sons who are
contracted or are future players. I alerted the managing director and also a
respected former international cricketer/commentator.
"The (ZCU) board
hopes that this group is not exerting pressure at this time when our genuine
and bona fide efforts to resolve issues and move forward appear to be
scuppered by forces that are determined to upstage our policy of inclusivity
in line with our mission statement which reads:
"To actively promote,
develop and administer the game of cricket for the benefit of all Zimbabweans
without discrimination of any kind and to instill and sustain national pride
in Zimbabwean cricket by being a successful performer in the sports and
entertainment industry and our hitherto successful measurers aimed at
"The union stands by that programme which seeks to achieve
inclusivity in Zimbabwean cricket," said Chingoka in a statement
It is believed that the group linked to the current problems
is made up of disgruntled hardcore Rhodesians, who were expecting the likes
of world champions Australia and England to boycott their tours to Zimbabwe
this year. Now that the two countries have confirmed the tours, the group is
now working on destabilising the sport from within and, in the process,
force the cancellation of such tours and denying ZCU the much-needed revenue
to finance development programmes.
The clandestine group, which is
understood to regularly meet at Royal Harare Golf Club in the capital, is
believed to be receiving support from farmers who lost farms under the
Governments land reform programme and some administrators from provincial
cricket associations like Masvingo, Matabeleland Country District, Manicaland
Other meetings are being held at the members homes and
The provincial administrators are said to be strongly against
the racial integration programme and it is interesting to note that of the
rebel players, Wishart, Price, Ervine and Friend are Midlands players while
Brent, Rogers, Gripper, Sims and Ferreira are Manicaland
Matabeleland Country Districts are slowly becoming irrelevant
while virtually nothing has been done to promote the game in Masvingo as the
main beneficiaries are likely to be predominantly black.
are also fighting against the advancement of black cricketers given that the
sport has become a multi-million dollar industry over the past years. Senior
players, most of whom are white, work an average of three hours a day, except
during matches, and earn more than chief executive officers of top companies
in the country who work and average of nine hours a day.
ZCU refused to reveal figures, citing the confidentiality clause in their
contracts with players, it is reliably understood that Streak has earned
around $285 million since the start of the season in September last year,
about $40 million a month.
The opponents of racial integration are not
happy to have such huge salaries earned by the likes of new captain Tatenda
Taibu and they are making every efforts to influence major sponsors of the
ZCU to withdraw funding.
The ZCU had on Wednesday night acceded to the
demands by the rebel players to change the composition of the selection panel
and also reduce it to four members by dropping former convenor Ali Shah,
coach Geoff Marsh and John Brent. Mangongo took over from Shah while Ebrahim
was the only other selector to be retained while Kaschula and Mbangwa, a
favourite of the rebels, were brought in.
Mbangwa however, declined
the appointment saying that he had not been approached before the
announcement was made and the ZCU had to bring in national Under-19 and
Matabeleland coach Walter Chawaguta.
But the changes, despite the fact
that the ZCU is not obliged to take orders from employees with regards
appointments, the rebels are understood to have shifted goalposts again
making it difficult for an amicable settlement.
Now the 13 players, of
which only about six will have their absence felt, face the chop if they fail
to report for training this morning as the ZCU tries to stamp its authority
and face the next challenges.
"The 13-players who have indicated that
they will not be available for selection have not been considered for this
match. They have been called upon to report for practice at 10 oclock
tomorrow morning (today), failing which action will be taken against them in
terms of their contract.
"If any of these players comply with this
requirement, they will be considered for selection for future tours," said
Meanwhile, the Sri Lankan cricket squad is expected in the
country today to start preparations for the five-match one-day series, which
starts in Bulawayo on Tuesday.
Zim squad for first Nissan
Tatenda Taibu (captain), Dion Ebrahim, Vusi Sibanda, Elton
Chigumbura, Stuart Matsikenyeri, Alester Maregwede, Mluleki Nkala, Waddington
Mwayenga, Brendon Taylor, Douglas Hondo, Prosper Utseya, Tawanda Mpariwa,
Edward Rainsford, Tinashe Panyangara.
Reporter Zimbabwean and Botswana senior immigration officials will meet next
month to discuss the alleged ill-treatment of Zimbabweans in
The meeting comes in the wake of numerous reports of
ill-treatment of Zimbabweans at the hands of Botswana police, army,
traditional chiefs and ordinary citizens in that country.
immigration officer Mr Elasto Mugwadi said yesterday the
alleged ill-treatment of Zimbabweans will top the agenda of the meeting as
there was no provision in international laws that permitted corporal
punishment or ill-treatment of immigrants.
"We do not apply corporal
punishments to some illegal immigrants here who sometimes include Botswana
nationals simply because we conduct our things professionally and lawfully,"
Mr Mugwadi said.
He said many Botswana students learn in Zimbabwe and
they were not ill-treated in the country.
"We appreciate they might
not have equally quality education facilities than ours and in our spirit of
brotherhood we do not chase, ill-treat them or blame their students for
preferring to learn here. We accommodate them and let them benefit from our
education system," he said.
Some Zimbabweans who are either caught on the
wrong side of the Botswana laws or some shoppers with proper documents are
arrested and taken to traditional leaders where they are allegedly lashed
naked before they are deported.
Some Tswanas who employ Zimbabweans
allegedly call police whenever the Zimbabweans, who they regard as cheap
labour, ask for their salaries.
They are dragged to the traditional
chiefs without their salaries and lashed with whips.
"The reports are
frightening and against the principles of international justice. We do not
know if it is proper and lawful in Botswana for chiefs to dehumanise foreign
"We have never heard of such laws anywhere before. We are
hopeful that this issue will be addressed when we meet with our Botswana
counterparts," Mr Mugwadi said.
He, however, said the Government did
not encourage Zimbabweans to flout immigration laws of any country and urged
cross border traders to respect Botswana laws and adhere to conditions of
Mr Mugwadi said Botswana immigration officials have
indicated the need to open two new border posts at Mashambe and Mmamabaka on
the southern side of Plumtree.
"The border posts are meant to
facilitate social visits by local communities on both the Zimbabwean and
Botswana sides who live close to each other but are only separated by the
Zimbabweans from Plumtree with relatives about 10 kilometres
away on the Botswana side travelled more than 150 km to the border to get
The ill-treatment of Zimbabweans in Botswana has irked Police
Commissioner Augustine Chihuri who on Tuesday described it as degrading and a
blatant human rights abuse.
Cde Chihuri said he had expressed his
concern to his Botswana counterpart and was told that flogging Zimbabweans in
public was part of that country's law.
By Tsitsi Matope IMMIGRATION
authorities this week arrested 14 Pakistanis and six Bangladesh nationals
suspected to have been brought into the country illegally by suspected human
trafficker - Mahommed Durrani.
Duranni, a Pakistan national, is on the
run following the arrest and subsequent deportation of Iqbal Kabir of
Bangladesh and Didarul Islam Bhuiyan of Pakistan late last month.
two had fake work and resident permits, which were facilitated by Duranni
with the help of two Zimbabweans, Herbert Mazvisiya and Derek Masawi, who
have since been arrested by police.
Immigration investigating officers
yesterday said they had evidence that the 14 Pakistanis arrested in Harare
and Bulawayo are linked to Duranni.
Senior Investigating officer, Mr
Evans Siziba said the Pakistanis entered the country as visitors but were
found working while others had been involved in various businesses since last
"They had no work permits but we discovered they were working in
various shops around Harare and Bulawayo," Mr Siziba said.
Pakistanis, some of whom are implicated in hard drugs trafficking, were also
found in possession of professional certificates suspected to have
The six Bangladeshi nationals were arrested in Beitbridge
last week as they tried to illegally enter into South Africa through
They had no South African visas and had forged
Zimbabwean stamps in their passports.
Mr Siziba said it was not clear
how the Bangladeshis had entered Zimbabwe and what kind of activities they
were involved in.
ruling Zanu-PF official has said land ownership will top the agenda of a
meeting of liberation political parties from the region, scheduled to
take place in Zimbabwe soon.
The party's external affairs secretary,
Cde Didymus Mutasa, said the meeting, the latest of a series regularly held
to consult on a range of issues, had been over-subscribed by delegates from
most countries in southern Africa, and African groups from the
"We are going to be looking at a number of issues, but land
ownership and economic emancipation will be the main topics," he
"It has been generally easy to gain political independence, but
much more difficult to achieve economic independence, and this is an area
where everyone wants to exchange notes," he added.
Most countries in
southern Africa at independence inherited skewed land ownership disparities
between whites and blacks, in favour of the former, which has led to the
perpetual impoverishment of the latter.
Attempts to redress this
amicably, through negotiations, have largely been spurned by white landowners
in the region, prompting Zimbabwe to forcibly re-possess the land for
resettlement since 2 000.
This sparked off an international outcry, led
by former colonial power Britain, but has generally been supported by its
neighbours and the rest of the Third World.
Cde Mutasa said the
meeting of liberation parties, which spearheaded their respective countries'
struggles for independence, was yet another avenue for Zimbabwe to garner and
consolidate support for its land reforms.
"We will be taking the
opportunity to explain to our colleagues what we have done, and where we are
now, and share our experiences with them," he said.
"Land is the basis
upon which we are going to develop our countries, and this is a shared vision
of our countries. What we will be zeroing in on is how this can be achieved,"
Already, Zimbabwe's land reforms, under which hundreds of
thousands of formerly landless blacks have been resettled, are being
replicated in Namibia, and are threatening to spread to South
Cde Mutasa said Angola, Namibia and Tanzania were among countries
which had already confirmed to take part in the meeting.
He said seven
African groups from Britain had expressed interest to take part in the
meeting, two of which Zanu-PF had invited.
Other groups which had
confirmed their participation were the Aborigines from Australia, the
December 12 Movement from the United States, and an assortment of black
organizations from the Caribbean, and China. - New Ziana.
Bureau THE Agricultural and Rural Development Authority has started
operations at Kondozi Farm in Odzi after the former owners of the property,
who had refused to vacate following its acquisition by the Government, made
way for the authority.
This week, most of the former Kondozi workers
had already vacated the farm while Arda employees had started
Sources said the previous owners of the farm, the De Klerk
family, were ordered to leave the property last Friday, two days after the
lapse of a Government order to vacate the premises.
The sources said
on the day in question, an Arda official informed the employees, in an
address, about the acquisition of the farm by the Government. The official
said the property had been taken over by Arda and workers had the option of
joining Arda on new contracts.
"All workers willing to join us can start
today on new contracts. Those not willing can just leave the farm. Arda will
offer the workers the same salary and wages as Kondozi used to pay them," the
As of Tuesday this week, up to 140 workers had already
assumed duties and advertisements for more workers were on display at the
Some of the former employees decided not to join Arda but not to
leave, hoping things would change.
Several said they would live in the
open, saying they had nowhere to go and demanded their pension from the De
Klerks, who were reported to be still on the premises pondering their
The latest development follows Government's announcement that
there would be no going back on the policy and legal decision to acquire
Kondozi and allocate it to Arda as part of the land reform
Recent reports stated that Mr Edwin Moyo and some workers at
the farm at one time told a gathering that a joint venture that had
purportedly been running the farm would continue occupying and utilising it
and that the joint venture would not allow Arda there.
"The De Klerks
have tried every way possible to keep on holding to this farm and they have
enlisted Mr (Edwin) Moyo, who now claims to own this farm. Mr Moyo even came
to me and said that if Kondozi Farm was acquired it means his company would
go under as the farm supplied most of the baby corn which they export to
"Three weeks ago they even tried to force people to go and
demonstrate at Chief Marange so that the chief could also intervene on their
behalf but that failed," Mutare West Member of Parliament Cde Christopher
Mushohwe told a rally at Lorne School in Odzi recently.
Last week the
Government said the decision to acquire the farm was non-negotiable and that
both the law and policy were very clear and would be pursued vigorously by
the State without fear or favour.
It warned that should anyone stand in
the way of this position, all legal and constitutional means available to the
State would be used.
The Minister of State for Information and Publicity
in the Office of the President and Cabinet, Professor Jonathan Moyo, said Mr
Moyo had no basis, let alone right or authority, to instruct the Zimbabwe
Electricity Supply Authority (Zesa) to determine what Arda should do or
This was after Mr Moyo had written to Zesa purportedly
denying the power utility permission to erect an electricity line for Arda at
Said Prof Moyo: "The people of Zimbabwe and the community in
the area where the farm is, are offended by individuals who set themselves up
as above everyone and everything else and become a law unto
"Action must and will be taken in the national interest to
ensure Arda gets on with the business of making that farm more
The former owners of Kondozi Farm had turned Odzi into a
political landmine as the family tried by all means possible to fight the
acquisition of the farm by the Government.
It was also alleged that
about 13 000 people from Kondozi Farm were ferried by lorries and buses to
Marange Business Centre to demonstrate against Cde Mushohwe but the
demonstration failed to take off.
Arda chief executive officer Dr Joseph
Matowanyika said Arda had taken time to move onto the farm against threats
from farm workers that they would burn their tractors if they moved onto the
"After the harvest of the crop which is on the farm, Arda will move
in," Dr Matowanyika said.
In a related matter, law enforcement agents
moved onto Charleswood Farm in Chimanimani at the weekend and ordered defiant
employees to leave.
The workers had vowed to defy Government's directive
for them to vacate the farm.
The farm used to belong to Chimanimani
Member of Parliament Mr Roy Bennet (MDC), who had since deserted the farm and
the constituency opting for his farm at Ruwa.