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Bigwigs under probe

Saturday, 31 March 2012 19:39


THE Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (Zacc) is investigating several
high-profile people including Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, Local
Government and Urban Development minister Ignatius Chombo and Reserve Bank
of Zimbabwe governor, Gideon Gono on allegations of involvement in corrupt
deals, The Standard can exclusively reveal.

Zacc chairman Denford Chirindo told The Standard last week that the
anti-graft body was acting after receiving dossiers implicating Tsvangirai,
Chombo and Gono in corrupt deals and was treating the matter without fear or

He said the commission would however not rush to arrest the bigwigs before
doing proper investigations to substantiate the facts.

Chirindo said Zacc received a comprehensive dossier produced by an ad hoc
Harare City Council land audit committee, which fingered Chombo in alleged
corrupt land deals mostly during the tenure of the commissions he appointed
to run the affairs of the city. “We received the comprehensive report and
responded accordingly,” he said. “The public will very soon know the outcome
of the investigations.”

The committee, led by fired councillor, Warship Dumba, made a report to the
police two years ago, but it was the City Fathers themselves who were
instead arrested on allegations of criminally defaming Chombo and
businessman, Phillip Chiyangwa.

Chirindo said the Zacc also received a report implicating Tsvangirai in the
alleged misappropriation of US$1,5 million meant for the purchase of his
official residency. He however, declined to reveal the identity of the

“All I can say is that work is in progress. Police are also working on the
same case because the law allows us to work concurrently,” said Chirindo.
Tsvangirai is accused of engaging in “double dipping” after getting the
US$1,5 million from the RBZ and an additional US$1 million from Treasury to
buy and renovate the same property at 49 Kew Drive in Highlands, Harare.

Tsvangirai has however, repeatedly scoffed at the allegations which are
widely believed to be spearheaded by members of the Joint Operations Command
who want him arrested.

Chirindo said Gono was being investigated after the wide circulation of a
letter purporting to have originated from his former advisor, Munyaradzi
Kereke, which detailed allegations of fraud and corruption by the central
bank chief.

“We are investigating him (Gono) because the allegations are very serious
and borders on theft, misappropriation, abuse of power and other
improprieties in the conduct of affairs,” he said.

Chirindo said the commission was also keenly following the case in which
Mines and Mining Development minister, Obert Mpofu, allegedly demanded a
US$10 million bribe from Core Mining director, Lovemore Kurotwi, after
facilitating a licence to mine diamonds in Marange.

“The case is in our records as it was reported to the former commission. We
are keenly following the issue with a view to start our investigations,” he

The Zacc was also interested in the case in which Zanu PF chef’s allegedly
looted Grain Marketing Board (GMB) inputs, which were meant for the ordinary

Chirindo said it was a myth that there were certain people who were
untouchable, insisting that the commission was independent and took no
instruction from political leaders, including President Robert Mugabe.
“There are no sacred cows when it comes to fighting corruption,” he said. “I
don’t share the perception of the so-called small fish which we are said to
be targeting. To me big fish refers to the gravity of the offence while
small fish refers to the triviality of the offence.”

Chirindo said MPs, who were recently arrested for abusing the Constituency
Development Fund (CDF) but had their cases withdrawn before plea, were not
off the hook. He said the MP’s were still being pursued together with others
including cabinet ministers who also abused the CDF.

The Zaac was also actively pursuing the case of rampant corruption within
the police force, especially the traffic section.

Chirindo said the commission was also worried about the smuggling of
minerals such as gold and diamonds. He said the Zacc was working well with
the Police and Attorney General whom he described as key stakeholders in the
fight against corruption.

Tsvangirai, Gono and Chombo could not be reached for comment on Saturday.

Tsvangirai has in the past however denied any wrongdoing in the way he
handled the money received from the State. Chombo has also maintained that
he is innocent while Gono is yet to comment on the document allegedly
authored by Kereke.

Kereke’s phone was unreachable on Saturday.

Constitution empowers zacc to fight corruption

The Zacc chief challenged Zimbabweans to participate in rooting out
corruption, saying they were empowered by the Constitution and the Criminal
Procedure and Evidence Act to do a citizen’s arrest.

Chirindo said although the Zacc was facing the usual challenges of shortage
of resources, it was up to the task it was mandated to do.

“This is why there is too much hot and cold about us to the extent that some
people who were behind the investigative and arresting powers of the ACC
which was in office from September 2000 to August 31 2011, are now
questioning the arresting powers of the Zaac,” he said.

The Zacc was set up in terms of section 108 A of the Constitution to
investigate any form of corruption, theft, misappropriation or abuse of
Chirindo, who chairs the body, has been a lawyer for over 15 years.

He has worked in the Attorney-General’s office and is a former soldier.

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Mugabe blocks Chiyangwa

Saturday, 31 March 2012 19:37

PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe personally blocked Philip Chiyangwa’s ascendancy to
the post of vice-chairman in Mashonaland West province during the party’s
politburo meeting recently, authoritative sources said.

The sources said Mugabe queried why the business mogul was suddenly elevated
when the party had resolved that he be re-admitted as an ordinary
card-carrying member.

They said Mugabe, who was visibly angry during last Wednesday’s meeting,
took a swipe at Zanu PF Mashonaland West politburo members, for failing to
stamp their authority in the province.

“Mugabe felt that Chiyangwa could have used his vast influence to fast track
his ascendancy while other party cadres were being denied the opportunity,”
said one source. “He has also spoke against imposition of candidates.”
Chiyangwa, said sources in Zanu PF, could have managed to work his way back
into provincial leadership by exploiting factionalism rocking the province.
But other sources said Mugabe has never liked Chiyangwa following his arrest
and acquittal on allegations of selling state secrets to foreign agents.

Zanu PF spokesperson, Rugare Gumbo, played down the issue yesterday saying
the position taken on Chiyangwa was by consensus.

“We sat as a politburo late last year and admitted Chiyangwa back into the
party only as an ordinary card-carrying member and then we discussed the
issue on Wednesday after hearing that he was elected vice-chairman in the
province,” said Gumbo.

“We agreed as a party that he will remain a party’s card-carrying member
only until the party thinks otherwise, meaning that his election is null and

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Prisoners survive on nuts — Gutu

Saturday, 31 March 2012 19:01


INMATES at Chikurubi Maximum Security Prison are now surviving on sadza with
roasted groundnuts (nzungu) after government banned food assistance from
humanitarian organisations.

The deputy minister of Justice and Legal Affairs, Senator Obert Gutu said
the food situation at Chikurubi was dire.

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and other humanitarian
organisations, that have been providing additional food assistance to
prisons for the past few years, were stopped last year.

“It would appear that the decision to phase off help from Red Cross was
premature and ill-advised. Prisoners are now surviving on a diet of sadza
eaten with nzungu as relish.”

Gutu said it was clear that Treasury does not have adequate financial and
material resources to enable the Zimbabwe Prison Service (ZPS) to provide a
satisfactory diet to inmates in the country’s prisons.

In most cases, said Gutu, a prison diet consists of sadza and roasted
groundnuts or occasionally beans or half-boiled cabbages. Inmates are also
given porridge in the morning, which in most cases does not have sugar.

He said this was a gross violation of prisoners’ rights.

“I promise, I will immediately engage the relevant authorities to enable the
dire food situation to be ameliorated,” said Gutu.

In a report presented to the House of Assembly, during debate on the 2012
budget allocation to the Zimbabwe Prison Services last year, Parliamentary
Portfolio Committee on Justice, Legal, Constitutional and Parliamentary
Affairs, chairman Douglas Mwonzora, also confirmed that the withdrawal of
ICRC aid had affected the prison operations, which got US$82, 7 million from

Mwonzora said with the 2012 allocation, it would be very difficult for
government to adequately feed prisoners and refurbish prison infrastructure.
The ICRC had been helping government feed prisoners since 2008 when the
economic crisis in Zimbabwe reached frightening proportions.

Investigations of prisons by the Parliamentary Thematic Committee on Human
Rights in 2010 showed prisoners’ conditions had become so dire that some of
them were suffering from food deficiency diseases such as scurvy and

Apart from food shortages, prisoners have a critical shortage of uniforms
and stay in rooms where they are packed like sardines especially at
Chikurubi and Harare Central Prisons.

This has resulted in the spread of communicable and water-borne diseases
such as  diarrhoea, cholera and typhoid.

For example Chikurubi, which has a carrying capacity of 800 inmates
currently accommodates 1 780 prisoners. Nationally, the country’s prisons
were built to accommodate 16 000 people but the number has since shot up
resulting in an outbreak of diseases and malnutrition due to food shortages,
Efforts to get a comment from ZPS were fruitless last week.

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PM urges Zimbabweans to shun violence

Saturday, 31 March 2012 19:00

PRIME Minister Morgan Tsvangirai said perpetrators of political violence
will face the full wrath of the law without protection from their political
Speaking at a peace prayer in Sakubva stadium in Mutare yesterday,
Tsvangirai urged Zimbabweans to shun all acts of violence saying it was
detrimental to progress.

“Lessons to be learnt are that in everything there is God’s plan and that we
have a choice in life about everything we do,” said Tsvangirai.
“Gathering here exhibits team spirit from all political parties and if you
choose to kill someone that is your plan. Zanu PF and MDC-T will not be
there for you, you will stand (trial) alone.”

The prayer meeting was attended by representatives of the three parties in
the coalition government.

Tsvangirai urged party supporters to refuse to take orders from top party
officials who send them to perpetrate violence on innocent citizens.
The peace meeting comes at a time when the MDC-T alleges a Zanu PF plot to
use violence against rival parties in the upcoming elections, which the
former ruling party insists must be held this year.

Zanu PF wants the elections to be held under the old Constitution which
analysts say favours President Robert Mugabe, who has been ruling the
country for the past three decades.

Addressing party supporters at Honde Mission in Manicaland province
recently, MP for Mutasa Central Trevor Saruwaka urged the Southern Africa
Development Community (Sadc) to take note of the increasing human rights
violations by Zanu PF as the party pushes for elections.

“We are saying that Sadc must take note of the increasing violence. We are
urging Sadc to put an end to these abuses,” he said.

“It is not a secret that Zanu PF is pressing for elections so that it will
unleash election violence and intimidation.”

Zanu PF spokesperson Rugare Gumbo, who could not be reached for comment last
week, has on several occasions denied that the former ruling party was the
instigator of violence during elections blaming in on rivals.

The MDC-T has on several occasions accused Zanu PF of political violence and
intimidation against its supporters, especially towards or during elections.
In some parts of the country, Zanu PF youth militia and war veterans, who
spearheaded the violence in 2008, still has “bases” where rivals are
tortured for supporting a different party.

The MDC-T has said at least 200 of its supporters were killed by state
security agents and Zanu PF youth militia during the 2008 violent elections.

A sanctions mismatch at peace meeting

Zanu PF secretary for administration for Manicaland, Kenneth Saruchena also
denounced political violence but went on to preach about his party’s
rhetoric on sanctions and indigenisation.

“Those who called for sanctions should lobby for their removal,” said
Saruchera. “And churches should pray for indigenisation to be accepted by

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Parly to summon Shamu over media reforms

Saturday, 31 March 2012 18:58

A parliamentary committee on the media has resolved to summon the Minister
of Media, Information and Publicity, Webster Shamu, after he defied an
instruction by principals in the coalition government to implement media

Chairman of the parliamentary committee on media, information and
communication technology, Settlement Chikwinya, who is also MP for Mbizo,
last week, said they had agreed to summon Shamu to interrogate him on why he
had failed to implement the reforms as directed by the principals.

“We want to interrogate the minister’s position and how he reacted to the
communication from the principals,” said Chikwinya, adding that the
information minister is expected to appear before the committee in May.

Shamu is expected to explain why the Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe
(BAZ), the Zimbabwe Mass Media Trust (ZMMT) and the Zimbabwe Broadcasting
Holdings (ZBH) boards were taking long to be reconstituted.

The boards were declared unconstitutional as they were appointed
unilaterally and were mainly composed of people who are thought to be loyal
to President Robert Mugabe.

The State media stands accused of spewing out vitriol against the MDC
formations while propping up Mugabe and his party.
The three political parties in the coalition government had agreed the media
be reformed before holding elections.

Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, last week told the House of Assembly that
he was surprised by Shamu’s reluctance to implement the reforms which were
approved by both the principals and Cabinet.

Efforts to get a comment from Shamu were fruitless on Saturday.

Article 19 of the Global Political Agreement (GPA) prescribes the need for
the opening up of the airwaves and ensuring the operation of as many media
houses as possible.

Several companies last month flighted advertisements indicating they had
applied for free-to-air commercial radio licences while three others applied
for television licences.

This followed the granting of the country’s first commercial private radio
licences to journalist-cum-businessman, Supa Mandiwanzira-owned AB
Communication’s Zi Radio and Zimpapers’ Talk Radio.

Some sections of the media queried the granting of the licences saying the
owners were aligned to Zanu PF.
Chikwinya said while the committee was happy with the registration of some
newspapers, it was concerned with the slow pace at which media reforms were
taking place.

NewsDay, The Patriot and the now defunct The Mail were registered under the
new dispensation while The Daily News was re-registered after being banned
in 2003.

Parly committee to quiz Mahoso over BAZ

The committee will also call BAZ chairman, Tafataona Mahoso and chief
executive, Obert Muganyura, in May to answer questions about media reforms
in Zimbabwe, a process which many in the media say is taking longer than

“Their appearance will be part of our efforts to ensure that everyone who
intends to broadcast in the country does so,” Chikwinya said.

“Broadcasting licences applicants, both those who got the licences and those
who did not, will appear before us a week before the minister and BAZ
officials’ appearance.

“We want to hear the concerns of those who were not granted licences so we
can see how best we can help them re-align themselves with BAZ policies so
they can be granted licences. We are also keen to hear why those who were
granted licences have not yet started broadcasting.”

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Mugabe insult: Businessman acquitted

Saturday, 31 March 2012 18:58

BULAWAYO — A local businessman was last week acquitted on charges of
insulting President Robert Mugabe after the state failed to prove its case.
Brian Foster, was acquitted by Lupane magistrate, Takudzwa Gwazemba, due to
lack of evidence as the police officer who was a state witness could not be
One Sergeant Kuvarega, who arrested Foster in May last year on accusations
of insulting Mugabe, did not turn up at the courts.
Foster was arrested at a roadblock on charges of insulting the President
after he accused traffic officers of fundraising for Mugabe’s government,
which he said is broke.

It was the State’s case that Foster, who is the director of Foster
Irrigation Scheme in Bulawayo, was allegedly driving a Toyota Fortuner along
Victoria Falls road when he was stopped by police at a roadblock in Lupane.

He was charged for speeding and when asked to produce his driver’s licence,
Forster allegedly told the police officers that they were trying to “raise
money for the poor and broke Mugabe government.”

Foster was charged with violating a section of the Criminal Law
(Codification and Reform) Act for undermining the authority of or insulting
the President. But his lawyers, Matshobana Ncube and Kucaca Phulu, argued
that Foster did not insult the President because “Mugabe is not government
and it is not a secret that the government is broke.”

It is an offence under Zimbabwe’s laws to undermine or insult the President
and scores of people have been charged for insulting Mugabe in the past few

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Lack of funding cripples Bulawayo water campaign

Saturday, 31 March 2012 18:57

BULAWAYO — Lack of funding has crippled a campaign by churches and civic
groups here to gather one million signatures to be used to petition the
government to speed up the implementation of the Matabeleland Zambezi Water
Project (MZWP).
The campaign envisaged involve road shows, culminating with a water summit.

Pastor Anglistone Sibanda from Habbakuk Trust, which was spearheading the
project recently, said they had not secured a donor for the campaign.
“Most donors are seized with the constitution-making process while at the
same time there seems to be donor fatigue,” said Sibanda.

“The main objective of this campaign is to pressurise the government to
declare Matabeleland region a water problem area to facilitate the
interventions that will come in to alleviate the region’s water problems.”

The campaign comes amid reports that Bulawayo is on the brink of another
water crisis as the local authority is going to decommission one of its five
supply dams, Umzingwane, this month due to low water levels.

Bulawayo has faced perennial water problems since its founding, prompting
both residents and the city fathers to pin their hopes on drawing water from
the Zambezi River.

The MZWP, a long held plan to tap water from the Zambezi through the
construction of a 450km pipeline to arid Matabeleland, was mooted way back
in 1912.

Water Resources minister, Samuel Sipepa Nkomo recently said his ministry had
obtained  US$864 million from China’s Export-Import Bank of China (EximBank)
for the construction of the Gwayi-Shangani Dam and the laying of a 450 km
pipeline to Bulawayo.

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Mujuru death: Family lawyer exposes more inquest inconsistencies

Saturday, 31 March 2012 18:53

THE Mujuru family has insisted that the mysterious death of retired Army
General Solomon Mujuru can only be brought to finality by exhuming his body
and conducting a fresh autopsy as they are still highly suspicious that he
was murdered.

Mujuru died in an inferno at his farmhouse in Beatrice last August.

Family lawyer Thakor Kewada told The Standard that Mujuru’s family and his
associates suspect that some of the workers and security personnel at the
farm knew of what really happened to Mujuru.

He said coroner Walter Chikwanha, who conducted an inquest into the General’s
death, erred by concluding in his findings that there was no foul play, as
ample evidence was provided that investigations were botched, raising a lot
of questions on circumstances under which the general died, including how
the fired started.

“My clients are highly suspicious that the general did not die in that
 fire,” said Kewada.

“They suspect he was killed before the fire started. Thereafter the body was
planted in the house and the fire was started as a cover up”.

He said the family suspected that those who murdered Mujuru were already in
the house when the General arrived at the farm at around 8.20pm on the
fateful day on August 15 last year, or they tranquillised him using a dart
gun while he was stepping out of his vehicle.

There was also a theory that white phosphorous or TNT explosives were used
to burn Mujuru’s body after the alleged murder.

Kewada pointed out a lot of inconsistencies which the family believe prove
there was foul play.

The Harare Fire Brigade said investigations showed that the fire started in
two places, an indication that arson could have taken place. Kewada said if
the fire started around 8.20pm,  Mujuru, a trained soldier and hero of the
war of liberation, should have felt the heat and smelt the smoke before the
fire had spread.

He said Mujuru’s vehicle was unusually parked at the back of the house. It
was unlocked, and his cellphone, groceries and jacket were still inside,
which was strange considering that he wanted to wake up early in the morning
at around 2am.

The vehicle keys have never been found up to today.

Mujuru’s maid, Rosemary Short told the inquest that she locked the house
including the bedrooms.

But if the General had indeed left his keys in Harare as she claimed, why
did she not tell him that she had also locked all the doors to the house,
particularly when Mujuru had earlier indicated that he wanted to sleep in
the car if keys were not available?

South African forensic experts admitted the samples they were given were
contaminated because of poor storage by police in Zimbabwe. They did not
find any traces of explosives yet the investigating officer, Chief
Superintendent  Crispen Makedenge brought 6kg of ammunition, including spent
cartridges which exploded due to the intense heat.

The experts also said the examination was limited at tracing three liquids
namely paraffin, petrol and diesel. Kewada said the Mujuru family was
questioning why the South Africans were told to limit their investigations
to only three liquids yet substances such as white phosphorous and TNT could
have been used.

He said four police officers were supposed to be guarding Mujuru instead of
the three who were on duty that day.
Kewada said the police’s rest and guard rooms were close to the house, but
it was surprising that all of them never saw the fire or smelt smoke until
it was too late.

Zesa experts also ruled out an electrical fault as the cause of the fire.

“With all due respect, the coroner praises all witnesses and makes excuses
for them,” said Kewada.

He said despite claims by Attorney-General Johannes Tomana that the case was
now closed following the release of the inquest report, the Mujuru family
would apply to the co-Ministers of Home Affairs for the exhumation of the
body. This would allow the family’s independent pathologist Dr Reggie
Perumal of South Africa or another expert to do a second autopsy.

“My clients want to get to the truth of the matter,” said Kewada. “If a
second pathologist comes to the same conclusion, that Mujuru died of
carbonisation, this will bring the matter to finality and end all the
suspicions surrounding his death.”

The mystery of unburnt curtains

While Mujuru’s body was charred, it was surprising that the curtains
survived the inferno. Questions therefore still remain as to how the
curtains survived while Mujuru did not, suggesting that the general could
have been burnt in a controlled fire which later spread to the whole house.

Pathologist was ill-equipped for the job at hand, argues Thakor Kewada

The Cuban pathologist, Dr Gonzales Alvero admitted he did not do a thorough
examination because he could not draw blood samples and test organs because
Mujuru’s body was completely charred. But pictures of the body which were
shown to The Standard prove that from the neck to the groin, body parts,
including the lungs and kidneys were intact.

Kewada questioned why Alvero, who does not speak English, destroyed the
original autopsy report which he wrote in Spanish. The Cuban pathologist
also admitted that he did not have the requisite equipment such as an X-Ray
machine, but the coroner praised him and ruled that the Mujuru family was
talking about textbook pathology.

Kewada questioned how Chikwanha knew that this was textbook pathology as he
was not an expert in that area.

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Disease outbreak looms in Chinhoyi

Saturday, 31 March 2012 18:50

CHINHOYI Town Council is discharging raw sewage into Manyame River, the town’s
major source of drinking water, exposing over 150 000 residents to
water-borne diseases.
Water-borne diseases such as typhoid and cholera have killed scores of
people in Harare and surrounding areas in the past few years.

Chinhoyi Town Council acting engineering services manager, Timothy Maregere
said the situation was “really bad” and council had no resources to address
the problem.

He however added that a German company, GZI, had promised to make available
about US$400 000 for the upgrading of the sewer system and council was in
the process of identifying companies that could undertake the project.

But council director for health services, William Mayavo, played down the
looming health crisis saying the water was safe because it was approved by
experts accredited by government.

“Despite the continued sewer system problem in Chinhoyi, our water is safe
as we send it to Harare every fortnight for double-checking to determine if
it is safe for human consumption,” said Mayawo. He added that council was
also “retraining” its water analysts at Chinhoyi University of Technology.

But chairman of Environmental Work, Planning and Management Ward 10
councillor, Tendayi Musonza concurred with Maregere saying the situation
remained “dire” as the sewer plant had not been functional for over a

“These guys are misleading the residents,” said Musonza. “The situation is
far from over as GZI funds are covering the new Ruvimbo high density suburb,
which is only a drop in an ocean.”

Chinhoyi residents have always complained about the quality of water at
every meeting they hold.

Fears of disease outbreak in Chinhoyi come amid reports that the council was
sitting on US$2,9 million for the sewer upgrade which it failed to use
because of squabbles that arose over allegations of irregularities in the
tender process.

EMA slams council over sewer delays

Environmental Management Agency (EMA) education and publicity manager Steady
Kangata accused the council of delaying the addressing of the sewer problem
in the town.

“We called Chinhoyi council for a hearing recently in connection with the
health dangers likely to face residents of Chinhoyi,” said Kangata. “Chances
that an outbreak of water-borne diseases can occur are very high, especially
to all those living in downstream areas.”

He said council had promised to repair all pump stations that were not
working but up to now they had not addressed the problem.

Kangata said council must realise that people have the right to live in a
clean, safe and healthy environment.

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Civic group protests police conduct

Saturday, 31 March 2012 18:48

BULAWAYO — A local pressure group has written a letter of protest to Police
Commissioner General Augustine Chihuri complaining about continued gross
human rights violations by the police.
In a letter dated March 8 2012, Bulawayo Agenda said peace and credible
elections in Zimbabwe could only be achieved if the police were
“depoliticised” and trained on the importance of upholding human rights.

“We are very much concerned and disturbed by the increase in the shrinking
of the civic operating space as evidenced by arrests and intimidation of
civic activists, journalists and even other political parties,” said
Bulawayo Agenda director, Thabani Nyoni.

The letter  was copied to the Sadc facilitator, South African President
Jacob Zuma, Home Affairs ministers Kembo Mohadi and Theresa Makone.

It was also copied to the Global Political Agreement (GPA) negotiators and
the Joint Monitoring and Implementation Committee (Jomic).

MDC-T has on several occasions accused the police of openly supporting Zanu

The party’s deputy organising secretary last week said MDC-T was documenting
names of all police officers who are harassing civilians, politicians and
human rights activists so that they can be prosecuted and fired from the
police force in future.

Chihuri has openly declared his support for Zanu PF although he is supposed
to be apolitical.

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Post-Mugabe uncertainty haunts Zimbabwe

Saturday, 31 March 2012 18:46

Consternation has gripped Zimbabweans over the possibility of political
chaos in the country should President Robert Mugabe die in office, resign or
become incapacitated without putting a strategic succession plan within his
fractious party.
The 88-year-old leader, who was in December endorsed as Zanu PF presidential
candidate in the forthcoming polls, visited Asian countries for medical
check-ups several times last year but his health remains a tightly guarded

Mugabe himself claims to be “as fit as a fiddle”.

People who spoke to The Standard last week said they feared for the worst
should Mugabe die in office saying the country would erupt into political
mayhem as his cronies fight to succeed him.

This fear is so omnipresent among some business people who are said to have
frozen their investment plans in the country until it becomes clear who
takes over from Mugabe in Zanu PF. They also fear that security chefs would
not permit Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai or any other presidential winner
to take the reigns should they lead in the elections.

There are several distinct camps in Zanu PF vying for Mugabe’s post,
pointing to a “dog eat dog fight” should Mugabe die in office.

Minister of Defence, Emmerson Mnangagwa and Vice-President Joice Mujuru,
whose husband the late retired army commander Solomon Mujuru died in a
mysterious fire last year, have been separately strategising to succeed

This is further complicated by reports that Army Commander General
Constantine Chiwenga, now touted as Zim2 in political circles, also harbours
presidential ambitions.

Chiwenga has not however publicly declared his interest.

But the succession matrix would favour the last acting Vice-President,
should Mugabe resign or die in office, bringing in another possible
contender, Vice-President John Nkomo.

It is widely feared that the securocrats, who are reportedly directing
crucial operations in the shaky coalition government, would not allow
Tsvangirai to rule should he win elections.

This is buttressed by previous statements by security chiefs that they would
not salute anyone without liberation credentials.

Tsvangirai, who rose to political fame through the labour movement, has

University of Zimbabwe political analyst Shakespeare Hamauswa said if Mugabe
died without appointing a successor, Zanu PF would disintegrate due to
intense internal fighting.

“If such a thing happens, the military will resort to force to protect their
political and economic interests,” said Hamauswa.

He said the generals’ interests in farms, diamond, gold and platinum mines
would force them to resist vehemently any change of government with a
different political ideology.

With his deteriorating health and advanced age, Mugabe surely cannot manage
a smooth transition in Zanu PF as the political system he built with sole
purpose of keeping himself in power is now too complex for him to control.

“You cannot expect Mugabe to manage smooth transition now when he failed to
do so in the past three decades,” said one senior Zanu PF official.
“He has not tried to manage it because he wants to die in office.”

Economic analyst John Robertson also hinted at the risk of a coup but said
the business community was more concerned about the indigenisation laws.
“Indigenisation is the most worrying factor,” said Robertson. “But if there
is chaos over the post-Mugabe era, the generals might say they don’t want to
see conflict and impose a military leader instead.”

But a book by Geof Hill, entitled, What Happens After Mugabe? Can Zimbabwe
Rise From The Ashes?, sees a better Zimbabwe after Mugabe.

“Instead, there seemed to be a notion that, if only the bad guys would go,
the spirit of Mother Teresa would descend from heaven and guide the rulers
as they set about creating a paradise, where people would live in joy to the
end of days,” says Hill, in the book that was published in 2005.

Military will take over, says Mavhinga

Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition regional coordinator Dewa Mavhinga warned the
MDC factions against agreeing to elections without reforms saying it “is not
wise and will not change anything”.

“The military will most likely take over,” said Mavhinga. “There will be no
vacuum — if Mugabe loses they will take over and announce two years to
return to civilian rule — the military factor is the central problem in

But Mavhinga added that Sadc and the international community would not allow
Zimbabwe to slide into chaos as the contagion effect would destabilise the
whole region. Already, millions of Zimbabweans are political and economic
refugees in the Diaspora.

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Biti appoints five members for Audit Commission

Saturday, 31 March 2012 18:43

FINANCE minister Tendai Biti has appointed five members to sit in the Audit
Commission, as Treasury moves with speed to strengthen the office of the
Comptroller and Auditor-General into an autonomous body.
Biti appointed retired judge, Justice Mohammed Adam, Diana Guti from the
Public Service Commission, Comptroller and Auditor-General, Mildred Chiri
and her two deputies Spears Mutsau and one R Kujinga.

In a notice in an extraordinary Government Gazette published on March 13,
the appointment is for a period of three years and is effective on the
publication of the notice.

However, the Audit Office Act under which the appointments were made states
that the commission should have 10 members.

According to the Act, the commission should have a retired judge of the High
Court or Supreme Court who shall be the chair and a member of the Public
Service Commission.

The Act says the Commission should be composed of the Comptroller and
Auditor-General and two members who shall be Deputy Auditors-General or if
there is one, the deputy Auditor-General and a member of the Audit Office
next in seniority.

It should have five members appointed by the President on recommendation
from the Minister of Finance.

The functions of the Commission are to appoint persons to the Audit Office
on a permanent or contract basis, assign and promote them and fix condition
of service among others.

The appointment of the Audit Commission is part of a raft of reforms
introduced by Treasury to give more teeth to the office of the Comptroller
and Auditor-General.

The Audit Office Act (Chapter 22:18) strengthens the powers, duties and
independence of the Comptroller and Auditor-General, including procedures
for reporting to Parliament.

Section 11 of the Act empowers the Comptroller and Auditor-General to make
special reports if he or she sees it desirable that any matter relating to
public money should be drawn to the attention of the Public Accounts

The reports would then be transmitted to the Minister of Finance and if they
relate to a public body or statutory fund, copies would also be passed on to
the appropriate minister.

Any report transmitted to the minister or an appropriate minister shall be
laid by the said ministers before the House of Assembly on one of the seven
days on which the House of Assembly sits next after he/she has received such

The Act says the Comptroller and Auditor-General shall transmit copies of
such reports to the Speaker of the House of Assembly to present them before
the house.

The Act amends the Public Service Act by removing members of the Audit
Office from the Public Service Commission.

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EU to increase investment in Zim

Saturday, 31 March 2012 18:39

THE European Union (EU) says it intends to increase trade and investment
relations with Zimbabwe and has urged the country to take advantage of the
bloc’s support for  the Common Market for East and Southern Africa (Comesa).
The EU is funding and providing technical assistance to Comesa in order to
enhance regional integration and trade activities.

EU Ambassador to Zimbabwe, Aldo Dell’Ariccia, said the bloc was working
towards attracting the attention of business persons in Europe to invest in
Zimbabwe as the country is moving towards creating predictable economic

Last week, government launched the Industrial Development Policy (IDP) and
the National Trade Policy in a bid to increase the country’s export
competitiveness, a development which the ambassador described as a great
example of strengthening democratic institutions in the country.

“The EU is looking forward to deepening relations with Zimbabwe in areas
that include trade and investment,” said Dell’Ariccia, adding that trade
between Zimbabwe and the EU had doubled since the inception of the inclusive
government in 2009.

The EU provided technical assistance in the crafting of Zimbabwe’s recently
launched trade policy.

Dell’Ariccia said trade between Zimbabwe and the EU had increased by 36%
between 2010 and 2011. “This in turn created a positive trade balance of
US$271 million in favour of Zimbabwe,” he said, adding that Zimbabwean
products were in high demand on European markets.

The EU was once Zimbabwe’s major export destination accounting for
two-thirds of total exports but political and economic problems led to
sustained decimation of the country’s productive capacity since the year

The inception of the inclusive government in 2009 witnessed the adoption of
multiple currencies, leading to increased investor confidence in Zimbabwe.

The EU intends to engage Zimbabwe under the auspices of interim Economic
Partnership Agreements (EPAs) under its multilateral and bilateral trade

Under this arrangement, exports from Zimbabwe, among other countries within
the Comesa group, would enter European markets duty and quota-free.

The framework for regional partnership agreements came against the
background where non-African Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries
challenged the special trade provisions between the EU bloc and ACP
countries at the World Trade Organisation, citing unfair competition.

The EU and ACP blocs then instituted interim agreements that would serve to
counter this challenge and increase trade ties between both blocs.
In August 2009, Madagascar, Mauritius, Seychelles and Zimbabwe signed the
interim arrangement.

Dell’Ariccia said critics had cited the EPA structure as a threat to
Zimbabwe’s efforts aimed at resuscitating local industry, as most European
products emanated from a background of subsidies, among other advantages.

“Rules of origin will be used as a method of ensuring that nascent industry
is protected (from the influx of imports) in order to optimise on installed
capacity. The EPAs will further enable Zimbabwe to gain access to funds
through Comesa as part of the EU’s regional support programme,” he said.

Rules of origin are used to determine the country of origin of a product for
purposes of fairness in international trade. These may be for purposes of
quotas and anti-dumping among others.

It is anticipated that at least 45% of the EU’s product lines would enter
Zimbabwe duty- free from 2013 should the EPAs be concluded soon.

Trade policy seeks to boost exports

One key objective of the trade policy launched last week is to increase
exports and promote the diversification of the country’s export basket by
harnessing comparative advantage in key priority sectors.

The policy also targets to increase export earnings by 10% annually to US$7
billion by 2016 from the US$4,3 billion recorded last year.

The trade policy encourages the business community in Zimbabwe to be more
aggressive and take advantage of existing bilateral, regional and
international trading arrangements which offer duty-free and quota-free
market access in order to improve export performance.

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RBZ reforms inadequate to bail out banks

Saturday, 31 March 2012 18:35

Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) is still incapacitated to bail out banks in
the event of liquidity mismatches, three years after Treasury embarked on
reforms to ensure that the bank sticks to its core business .

In interviews with Standardbusiness, bankers — who could not be named for
professional reasons — were unanimous that government is not serious about
its reforms of RBZ as it has taken a long time for the bank to perform its
lender-of-last-resort role.
RBZ last performed that role in 2008.

While Finance minister, Tendai Biti, pushed through Parliament amendments
allowing the bank to concentrate on its core business, analysts say the
critical role of RBZ’s involvement in the event of short-term liquidity
mismatches in the market has not been given the attention it deserves.

If the bank was playing its role, banks would trade on the inter-bank
market, knowing that in the event of normal settlement challenges, they
could seek accommodation from the central bank.

Treasury recently gave RBZ US$23 million, making it a pool of US$30 million
which analysts say is inadequate.

Treasury also announced plans to privatise the lender of last resort role by
creating a special purpose vehicle whereby government and its cooperating
partners would inject funds.

“We need a functional interbank market where instruments are traded and RBZ
is a participant but at the moment, the central bank cannot participate
because it does not have the money,” a banker said on Thursday.

“Very few banks are trading with each other and a bank has to fend for
itself if involved in problems,” he said.

Through open market operations, the central bank buys and sells government
securities to manage liquidity.

If the market faces challenges, the central bank buys securities to inject
liquidity. If there is excess liquidity, the bank mops that out through
selling the securities.

According to an investment banker, central banks in Europe have been able to
intervene in the Euro crisis by using or adjusting their monetary policies
through introducing austerity measures as and when needed.

An austerity measure is an official action taken by governments through
central banks in order to reduce the amount of money that it spends or the
amount that people spend. This ultimately has an effect on the liquidity
position of a country’s financial markets.

Without an ability to control a country’s monetary policy and implement it,
analysts said, you are ineffective in introducing austerity measures when

“So although the ongoing reforms are good, they will be slow and painful for
the country because of the lack of our ability to have an effective monetary

“Dollarisation without strong liquidity support is a painful pill and cannot
be sustained for too long,” the investment banker said.
In a dollarised environment, RBZ is incapable of doing its job because it
has lost its ability to print money. This means that it cannot influence
money supply.

RBZ recently instructed banks to bring 75% of the Foreign Currency Accounts
balances held in foreign banks onshore to ease the liquidity constraints but
analysts say in the absence of short-term instruments such as treasury
bills, that money is not evenly distributed.

“Money has come in but you have no instruments. The role of monetary policy
is to distribute the funds and because it is not doing that, liquidity is
not in the hands of the economy.”

RBZ boss, Gideon Gono, is set to issue instruments against the amounts owed
to banks (US$83,58 million) in statutory reserves. The instruments will have
tenors of two, three and four years with interest rates of 2,5%, 3% and 3,5%

RBZ scrapped statutory reserves — the amount of money any bank has to
maintain with the central bank at zero percent for every deposit received
from a customer — in June 2010.

“It’s just a certificate and whom do you sell to? If interbank market is not
workin who would buy the paper of so and so?” an executive asked.

Investigations by Standardbusiness show that banks had proposed to create a
window to support the revival of the lender of last resort, which was going
to create not only paper for statutory reserves but more instruments that
would allow movement of funds among banks.

“With the laid-back approach by government, the proposal will gather dust in
one of the offices,” a bank executive said.

Multi-currency environment limits RBZ ROLE

Observers say in a multi-currency environment, the central bank’s
functionality is going to be limited.

“Determining a monetary policy and implementing it is at the core of any
central bank and for as long as we don’t have a local currency, RBZ will
always have limited impact in the smooth operations of financial markets in
Zimbabwe,” an investment banker said.

“The best RBZ can do now is being a regulator of our local financial
markets, but a regulator without ability to introduce relevant instruments
to ensure smooth operations of our financial markets in case they are needed
is weak. And only through a monetary policy are you able to intervene

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