by James Mombe Friday 20 April 2012
JOHANNESBURG – Zimbabwe’s controversial programme to force foreign-owned
firms to transfer controlling stake to blacks is an ill thought-out plan
that will only help to enrich an already wealthy black elite, Finance
Minister Tendai Biti said on Thursday.
Biti, who is secretary general of Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s MDC
party, said Zimbabwe should go back to the drawing board on the empowerment
plan to come up with ways to ensure the majority benefit.
The MDC, which joined President Robert Mugabe’s ZANU (PF) party in a unity
government in 2009 following inconclusive polls the previous year, has
opposed the indigenisation plan which Tsvangirai has previously described as
“looting by a greedy elite”.
Biti, who was speaking at the Atlantic Center, a Washington- based think
tank and public policy group, said he was not opposed to a genuine programme
to ensure Zimbabweans have a stake in the country’s economy and wealth. But
he said the economic empowerment drive being pushed by Mugabe and ZANU (PF)
was flawed and would only benefit a few rich blacks.
He said: "The transfer is for value, which is good, but in a situation where
the majority are poor, you are just transferring shares from a few rich
white people to a few rich black people.
"It wasn't well thought. Due process not being followed, we need to go back
to the drawing board and say how can we empower our people. The best way to
empower our people at this present moment in time is to expand our economy
to create as many sectors as possible."
Under the controversial law that came into force in 2010, foreign-owned
firms must sell at least 51 percent shares to indigenous Zimbabweans by 2015
or face a host of punitive measures, including hefty fines or withdrawal of
Economic Empowerment Minister Saviour Kasukuwere told a Reuters Africa
investment summit earlier this week that his department was looking to
conclude by the end of this month deals with foreign miners transferring
control of their businesses to local blacks, adding that most of the
multinationals were complying with the indigenisation law.
Kasukuwere did not say how the cash-strapped Harare government – that
insists it is not nationalising private mines – would finance the purchase
But he disclosed that only $US10 million had been allocated to pay for
shares, a drop in the ocean compared to the amount required to buy
controlling stake in one of Africa’s biggest mining industries.
The government has already concluded share transfer deals with Zimplats, the
Zimbabwe unit of Johannesburg-listed Impala Platinum, the world's
second-largest platinum producer. But it remains vague how Harare will pay
for the stake in the company.
The world’s largest platinum producer, Anglo American Platinum (Amplats),
has also said it will transfer 10 percent shareholding in its Unki mine in
Zimbabwe to local blacks, in line with the indigenisation law. But as in the
Zimplats case it is also unclear how the government will finance the
purchase of controlling stake in the firm.
Mugabe’s previous government used its majority in Parliament to ram through
the indigenisation law requiring all foreign-owned firms to sell controlling
stake to blacks.
Apart from Zimplats and Unki, other foreign-owned firms ordered to transfer
shares to locals include insurance giant Old Mutual, Rio Tinto’s diamond
mine Murowa, British American Tobacco and the local units of British banks
Standard Chartered and Barclays.
Critics say the empowerment campaign is a ploy by Mugabe to seize thriving
businesses and hand them over to his allies as a reward for support in much
the same way that the veteran leader’s land reforms were executed in the
name of the people but benefited his top lieutenants the most.
Tsvangirai says the empowerment drive has undermined investor confidence and
could plunge the economy back into crisis after it had started recovering
from a decade of collapse. -- ZimOnline
By Tererai Karimakwenda
20 April 2012
Workers at Zimbabwe’s national railways have reportedly gone without any
wages for about six months, with accusations that funds from ticket sales
are being used as petty cash, instead of paying salaries.
SW Radio Africa correspondent Lionel Saungweme, who secretly attended a
recent meeting held between management and staff, confirmed that no salaries
had been paid to most departments since they were ordered to end a strike
action about six months ago.
Saungweme explained that the current problems started when retired Air
Commodore Mike Karakadzai took over as General Manager of the national
railway company. Allegations of mismanagement and corruption have since
dominated relations between workers and top officials.
“In the meeting one of the workers said they were going to demonstrate and
parade themselves naked because they had no money for school fees for their
children and no food,” Saungweme said. He reported that the managers simply
said they too were owed money by other government departments.
Railways workers went on strike last year after management failed to pay
their salaries a month before the Christmas holidays, with some being owed
wages and allowances backdated to 2009. The strikers were ordered back to
work by government and many complied fearing they would lose their jobs.
Saungweme said an accountant was fired last year after accusations that
money had been embezzled at the firm and the same practices of diverting
ticket sales to petty cash have continued.
According to Saungweme, workers are complaining that managers het all the
perks, including payment of school fees for their children, while the
receive nothing and are struggling to take care of their families.
The NRZ reportedly owes millions to foreign companies and is said to be
facing serious viability problems. The parastatal was sued by a British firm
last year and reportedly forced to negotiate an out-of-court settlement for
over £2 million. The money had been outstanding since 2009.
In January this year an official at the NRZ was quoted as saying: “We are
not doing well as business is very low and instead of realising $10 million
a month, we are only managing $7 million which is not enough to meet our
It is hoped the national railways do not end up suspending operations due to
mismanagement and corruption, which caused the demise of the country’s
flagship airline, Air Zimbabwe last year. Workers at Air Zim had not been
paid for months and large debts had accumulated, forcing management to
April 20 2012 at 12:44pm
Harare - Zimbabwean police have arrested a journalist from New Zealand for
reporting from the southern African country without accreditation, state
media reported Friday.
Hammond Robin Nicholas, 37, was arrested on Monday together with a
Zimbabwean charity worker, Bertha Chiguvare, 31, in the border town of
Beitbridge, 580 kilometres south of Harare.
The two were allegedly working on a story about “irregular” migration
between Zimbabwe and its neighbour South Africa without accreditation.
“They misrepresented to the department of immigration that they were on
holiday,” police superintendent Lawrence Chinhengo told The Herald
“In fact they were on a mission to investigate how illegal immigrants manage
to cross to South Africa.”
They were charged with violating “Protected Areas and Places and Immigration
Acts” and would appear in court on Friday.
According to the paper, Nicholas, a Cape Town resident, told police that he
was a teacher and photographer while Chiguvare works for Save the Children
in South Africa.
Video and digital cameras as well as a voice recorder with excerpts of an
interview were found in their possession.
Nicholas was once arrested in Zimbabwe for a similar offence, Chinhengo
The media in Zimbabwe is tightly regulated and journalists are not allowed
to work in the country without accreditation.
Several local journalists were arrested last year on various charges that
Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, a long-time rival of President Robert
Mugabe, has vowed to abolish the country's Access to Information and
Protection of Privacy Act, which bans foreign journalists from working
permanently in the country. - Sapa-AFP
By Tichaona Sibanda
20 April 2012
The MDC-T legislator for Magwegwe in Bulawayo Felix Sibanda Mafa has been
the subject of vicious name-calling and death threats following his remarks
on the Gukurahundi massacres.
The MP has in recent days indicated that he will next month introduce a
private members’ Bill, to force Parliament to enact legislation to provide
for compensation of victims of the 1980’s massacres.
Mafa is advocating for a trust fund to be set up that will help compensate
victims of what he described as the “darkest episode of our history.” He
said he was hopeful he would be supported by parliamentarians from ZANU PF
and the two MDC formations.
The massacres were carried out by the North Korean trained 5th brigade.
Wearing red berets to distinguish it from the regular army, the brigade,
drawn from 3500 ex-ZANLA troops, butchered over 20 000 people living in the
southern parts of Zimbabwe.
Before then, Mugabe had christened the new brigade, ‘Gukurahundi’ which,
loosely translated, means “the rain which washes away the chaff before the
spring rains.” It was only last year that the atrocities were finally
labeled a genocide, after an international campaign.
Any remarks on the Gukurahundi therefore always stir anger among Mugabe’s
supporters. Last year, powerful Defence minister Emmerson Mnangagwa,
declared that the Matabeleland killings were “a closed chapter.”
So as soon Mafa’s remarks were published in a daily newspaper two days ago,
he started getting death threats from people he said were ‘trained’ implying
they were state agents.
“After my Gukurahundi sentiments were published in a newspaper, I’ve seen
trained people who pass by my gate, using abusive language and showing
gestures that they are going to cut my head. The same people move around my
constituency in two unmarked cars,” Mafa told SW Radio Africa.
He continued: “Zimbabwe is a strange country that allows people to drive
cars without number plates.
However, the outspoken MP remained defiant, vowing that nothing will stop
him from delivering justice to the victims of the massacres.
“Naturally, I’m not deterred and neither am I intimidated. My cause is
justified because a lot of people died unnecessarily and some of the victims
are still living, crippled and disabled as a result of the killings,” the MP
By Tichaona Sibanda
20 April 2012
The bitter split between two warring ZANU PF factions has widened following
the hotly disputed District Coordinating Committee (DCC) elections in most
of the country’s provinces.
The elections, that have seen many candidates linked to Defence Minister
Emmerson Mnangagwa romp to victory, have however been marred by reports of
violence, intimidation and vote-rigging.
Signs of growing structural fissures in the ¬former ruling party have
emerged with key members belonging to Vice-President Joice Mujuru’s camp
openly disputing election results from the restructuring exercise.
The exercise, meant to fend off the MDC-T’s challenge in the next elections,
has seen ZANU PF embarking on a ruthless cull of ‘dead wood’ to freshen up
candidates on offer to voters.
But the process has gone badly awry. The central role allegedly being played
by Mnangagwa has led to accusations he is yet again trying to pull the
strings in ZANU PF.
In addition, the cull appears to have been used by some provincial chairs to
promote Mnangagwa’s own teams of candidates, leaving those from the Mujuru
camp in the wilderness.
SW Radio Africa is reliably informed that the bitter civil war over the DCC
elections has left a band of losing candidates demanding an audience with
party leader Robert Mugabe.
The situation is expected to reach crisis point during ZANU PF’s politburo
meeting, expected next week, when political commissar Webster Shamu and
national chairman Simon Khaya Moyo are expected to table reports on the
There are reports most of those from the Mujuru faction are calling for the
results to be annulled, while those from the Mnangagwa camp are adamant the
poll outcome should not be tampered with.
Most of the complaints that have emerged from the provinces have been on
provincial chairs, linked to Mnangagwa, whose alleged impositions of
candidates have irked the party faithful.
A source in Harare told SW Radio Africa the politburo is facing intense
scrutiny to see if they are going to ratify the first tranche of results or
reject them outright.
“ZANU PF is in a crisis. The party hit the self-destruct button by
continuously failing to deal with the succession issue,” the source said.
The sourced added: “Tensions have been exacerbated by a growing sense of
panic among party ranks about the prospect of losing the next general
election to the MDC-T because of Robert Mugabe’s age and failing health.”
Four years ago, ZANU PF lost its electoral majority in Parliament since
Independence, and this victory has bolstered the MDC-T chances of winning
outright power in the next poll expected in the first quarter of 2013. Party
President Morgan Tsvangirai has made ousting ZANU PF from government his
By KITSEPILE NYATHI in HararePosted Friday, April 20 2012 at 15:54
Prosecutors in Zimbabwe’s second city Bulawayo have raised alarm at the
number of inmates that were behaving strangely and feigning mental illness,
saying this could be a ploy to escape from prison.
This follows the escape of three prisoners, who feigned insanity and were
awaiting doctors’ examination at Mlondolozi Prison, on the outskirts of the
The trio, facing different charges, pretended to be mentally unstable and
where committed to Mlondolozi Prison on the outskirts of Bulawayo, where
they awaited examination by two government psychiatrists, before their
trials could proceed.
Under the country’s laws, if they were certified to be mentally unstable,
they would have been tried under the Mental Health Act and committed to an
asylum, where they would have been treated until they had recovered.
But the three, Nkosizile Ncube, Blessed Goreraza and Nqobile Ncube,
pretended to be insane and were moved from Khami Maximum Prison to
Mlondolozi Prison, were they hatched the elaborate escape plan.
Security at Mlondolozi Prison, which also houses female inmates, is less
tight compared to Khami, where they had originally been incarcerated and
authorities think they pretended to be insane so they could be transferred
Police spokesperson, Inspector Mandlenkosi Moyo said the three were all in
their cells when there was a change of guard at about 10pm last Friday
evening, but were discovered to have gone missing the following day.
“It is alleged that they broke a door to the cell before breaking the outer
door leading to the yard,” he said. “They then broke the door to the
watching tower before climbing to the roof of the cells.”
Friday, 20 April 2012 15:15
Tinashe Madava, Staff Reporter
THE recent snubbing of Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai by ZANU-PF ministers
has riled his formation of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC-T), which
now fears that there is a ploy aimed at collapsing the coalition government
so that the country can go to elections under the current constitution.
Tsvangirai’s MDC-T views the snub as a deliberate strategy to show how
powerless the Prime Minister is over ZANU-PF ministers since he is not the
one who appointed them: But such are the provisions of the Global Political
Agreement (GPA) that it did not compel either party to consult over
ministerial appointments. This has created a case of strange bedfellows in
In the eyes of ZANU-PF, the GPA is no longer necessary and should be ended.
President Robert Mugabe and his party have increased their calls for ending
the GPA and going for elections, which they say should be held with or
without a new constitution, either this year or next year.
But, the MDC-T says the coalition government can only be collapsed when the
country is going for elections, which are to be held under “free and fair”
“The MDC has come to the conclusion that there is a faction linked to the
military, which is trying to collapse the government of national unity (GNU)
so that Zimbabwe can go to elections under unfree and unfair conditions,”
said MDC-T spokesman, Douglas Mwonzora.
Mwonzora said there is also a faction of presidential hopefuls who want to
end the coalition government and not go for elections, hoping to rely on the
provisions of Section 28 of the current Constitution under which a vote in
the upper and lower house of Parliament will become necessary to elect a new
President. This scenario is likely to present ZANU-PF with a majority in the
“Over the past months, the whole ZANU-PF machinery including ministers, have
gone on a crusade to undermine and denigrate the office of the Prime
Minister. They are seeking to demo-nstrate that the Pri-me Minister has no
power to fire them and to try and show that the Prime Minis-ter is not a
suitable person to lead Zimb-abwe,” added Mwo-nzora.
Mwonzora said his party will not be provoked into moving out of the GNU,
adding that the MDC-T will only do so “at its own terms and timing”.
He challenged ZANU-PF to quickly agree to several outstanding GPA issues if
they were serious about ending the coalition government and going for
The MDC-T spokesperson listed a number of issues as pending under the GPA,
- Completion of a new constitution;
- Eradication of all forms of State sponsored violence;
- The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission’s secretariat to be a politically
- Reasonably equal acc-ess to the media especially the electronic media
But ZANU-PF has already sounded alarm bells over the draft constitution
saying they will declare a stalemate if their concerns are not dealt with to
The liberation war party has raised a red flag over devolution of power, the
scrapping of two vice presidents’ posts, and the appointment of security
“We have said there is no way devolution will come into play. We have a
central government and it must remain that way. Our position on the vice
presidents’ posts is that we maintain the two VPs. Appo-intment of the
security chiefs is done by the Presi-dent,” said ZANU-PF spokesperson,
But Mwonzora argues that there is no reason for rushing Zimbabweans into
another election as it will result in bloodbath.
“The date of elections must be process-driven. There is no purpose of
rushing people into an election that will result in bloodbath. We should
follow the election roadmap set by the Southern African Develo-pment
Community facilitators,” said Mwonzora.
Critics say ZANU-PF’s election talk stems from the thinking that they will
once again prevail over the majority of Zimbabweans and cow them into
electing the former ruling party into power.
Political analyst, Ibbo Man-daza, writing on an online blog, said ZANU-PF
had become totally dysfunctional by 2008 and that “is still fresh in the
minds of the majority of Zimbabweans who bore the full brunt of that
unprecedented economic and political melt-down”.
“The State itself survived on a combination of violence (or the threat of
it) and patronage which, in turn, welded together securocrats and elements
of the bureaucracy into a defensive and reckless solidarity against a
pulverised and fearful population. The national institutions, which had been
so carefully established and nurtured in the 1980s had by 2008 become mere
shells: destroyed by the ravages of a patronage system, inept leadership and
“Therefore, it was a State bereft of any legitimacy beyond its formal
trappings, nakedly brutal but also essentially brittle, as the weeks and
months of the post-2008 elections demonstrated - until the GPA/GNU rescued
it from the precipice,” said Mandaza.
By Alex Bell
20 April 2012
An activist with the Bulawayo Agenda group was finally released on Thursday
after he was arrested in Matopo, Matabeleland South last weekend.
Anele Dube, the group’s information officer and activist was visiting his
family in the Ntepe Area of Matopo when he was arrested, as part of a
suspected feud with the traditional Chief.
According to the Bulawayo Agenda Executive Director, Thabani Nyoni, Dube’s
family has been embroiled in an ongoing battle with Chief Masuku, who has
accused the family of being involved in witchcraft. Nyoni told SW Radio
Africa on Friday that Dube and seven members of his family were at a
traditional court hearing last Sunday when they were arrested.
“They were asked to leave and they complied. But the police were called,
which is a total anomaly and they were all arrested. They were locked up for
days not knowing why they were arrested, and eventually they were told it
was for ‘contempt’ of court,” Nyoni explained.
Dube and his family were finally released without charge, but Nyoni
explained that they are worried about being targeted with similar treatment
in the future, because of a rivalry with Chief Masuku.
“The village head is in his family and they suspect the arrest is the result
of a feud with the Chief. They are worried that something else will happen,”
He added meanwhile that Dube was specifically singled out as a known human
rights activists, sparking concern that, as the country heads towards
possible elections, he could be targeted again.
“We fear that his family may not be secure especially as we talk of
elections and the need to crack down on human rights defenders,” Nyoni said,
adding: “It presents a very dicey situation in terms of the security of his
By Tererai Karimakwenda
20 April 2012
Thousands of street vendors in Harare have reportedly joined a new
organisation, with the aim of protecting themselves from ongoing abuse by
the city authorities, police and political thugs who regularly confiscate
Named the Zimbabwe Vendors Association (ZIVA), the new organisation is
headed by Arthur Muromba and they say they already have about 10 000 members
doing business in Harare alone.
ZIVA was reportedly formed to protect the interests of street vendors, who
have for years complained of illegal harassment by both the municipal and
Zimbabwe Republic Police. The vendors also want protection from ZANU PF
thugs who force them to pay illegal fees to operate in the capital.
Police and municipal authorities accuse vendors of littering on city streets
without paying taxes or levies to the council to support cleaning operations
and rubbish collection.
With unemployment estimated to be at least 90% in Zimbabwe, an increasing
number people are turning to the informal sector in order to survive. The
majority are not officially registered and do not pay taxes.
Under the banner of an officially registered organisation, members hope a
more amicable relationship can develop with the city authorities and they
can be assisted in fending off opportunistic looters.
Roy Chikara Masvingo, April 20, 2012 - Pension Simbaneuta who lost his wife
in the Mega link bus accident, that killed 21 people here, on Thursday
alleged police had failed to account for the 30 000 South African rands that
his wife had on her.
“When my wife left home she had 30 000 rands to buy flea market goods. When
I was notified of the incident I came here straight but I couldn’t recover
her purse and money," he said.
"The police said they didn’t see it. But I think these guys are stealing
money from the dead,” Simbaneuta told Radio VOP at the Masvingo General
A survivor, Rutendo Kanokura (25) from Harare's Warren Park suburb, claimed:
“I had about $5000 that I intended to exchange into rands once I reached the
border but when the accident happened I was thrown out of the bus and got
"When I got conscious here in the hospital I was given an empty wallet. I
strongly suspect the police officers of stealing the money."
An elderly man, who lost his son and declined to be named, said police had
lost respect for the dead.
“In our culture there is a certain fear and respect associated with the dead
but our police no longer have that. What they did was inhumane. How can you
steal from the pockets of a dead man? It's unAfrican.”
Police here refused to comment on Thursday referring all questions to
The Beitbridge bound bus veered off the road and hit a tree near Ngundu
growth point while coming from Harare.
Bulawayo, April 20, 2012- A Bulawayo Agenda activist has been languishing at
Matobo Police Station in Matabeleland South since Sunday for questioning the
sentencing of a villager by Chief Masuku during a traditional court.
Anele Dube, an information officer at Bulawayo Agenda was arrested by police
on Sunday for raising objections during a traditional court held at Ntepe
area, the Chiefs homestead where a villager there, Godwill Nyamande was
facing witchcraft charges.
Chief Masuku’s court had found the villager guilty of witchcraft and
sentenced him to banishment from the area, a sentence that the Bulawayo
Agenda employee who hails from the area had objected to.
Bulawayo Agenda director, Thabani Nyoni, told Radio VOP the arrest of the
information officer was illegal because police had no jurisdiction over
matters that took place at the traditional courts.
“The whole issue is being politicized and as Bulawayo Agenda we see his
arrest as an act of punishment and would be punishment against any villager
or activist who questions the Chief,” Nyoni said in an interview.
“It’s an abuse of the whole traditional court’s system. If he ever
disrespected the Chief, he was supposed to be charged at the traditional
court and what this means is that activists and Movement for Democratic
Change (MDC) supporters in the area would not be free to express themselves
or campaign freely because they might be arrested for disrespecting the
The five day detention of the Bulawayo Agenda activist comes just a month
after Chiefs demanded guns and overwhelming prosecuting powers to protect
The chiefs have also demanded bodyguards during elections, a share in
Community Development Fund (CDF), free duty on vehicles, farms, among other
Written by Taurai Mangudhla, Business Editor
Friday, 20 April 2012 14:25
HARARE - National carrier, Air Zimbabwe (AirZim) is scheduled to resume
flights by June, Tourism minister Walter Mzembi said yesterday.
He told businessdaily in an exclusive interview that the airline — reeling
under a $150 million debt, was failing to secure capital to renew its
He said the situation had been compounded by high staff turnover attributed
to poor remuneration — while its resuscitation will be aimed at improving
efficiencies ahead of the 2013 United Nations World Tourism Organisation
(UNWTO) general assembly which the country is co-hosts with Zambia.
“We work by cabinet deadlines and we should really be off the skies by the
first of June otherwise what are we working for in tourism,” said Mzembi who
is part of cabinet committee spearheading the revival of AirZim — comprising
Transport minister Nicholas Goche, Industry minister Welshman Ncube and
Energy minister Elton Mangoma.
“What is the essence of my ZTA (Zimbabwe Tourism Authority) going out
monthly to market a destination that is unable to distribute its arrivals
internally,” he said.
“We are giving our all as part of a collective committee to make sure that
what the people are waiting for and dreaming of will be flying in the short
to medium term.”
Mzembi confirmed that government made South African Airways its official
airline partner for the UNWTO as a result of AirZim woes.
“By the time we get to the hosting of the general assembly and well before
that I can promise the nation that Air Zimbabwe will be back on its feet, it
will be back in the skies again so we are planning very positively in
anticipation of the airline re-bouncing,” the minister said.
He said revival of operations at the beleaguered state airline was critical
at a time air travel dominated tourism.
Of the 960 million annual arrivals globally, said Mzembi, 51 percent of them
do so by air and Zimbabwe is no exception.
He said Transport minister Goche would soon give a detailed and official
position on AirZim’s new direction, according to Mzembi.
As part of the joint cabinet committee’s efforts to revive AirZim, Goche
last month told a joint parliamentary committee comprising the transport
committee and that of state enterprises and parastatals, that government has
disbanded Air Zimbabwe Holdings to create a new and debt-free Air Zimbabwe
Private Limited (Air Zim Pvt Ltd).
Air Zim Pvt Ltd has a new and independent board, currently chaired by
Transport secretary Patterson Mbiriri. Goche said a group of six permanent
secretaries was currently acting as an interim administration at the new
company, adding government could go it alone in the new venture if it fails
to secure a technical partner.
“We have asked management to give us what we need to start operations on our
own. We require two large aircraft maybe the Boeing or Airbus to service our
international routes, two for regional routes and perhaps three — one of
which has a 30 to 50 seat capacity — for the domestic routes.”
Written by Tonderai Kwenda, Investigations Editor
Friday, 20 April 2012 14:08
HARARE - Workers at the struggling national airliner, Air Zimbabwe have
taken the minister of Transport, Communication and Infrastructure
Development, Nicholas Goche, adjudged by the Daily News as the worst
minister in 2011 to court, accusing him of seeking to strip off the airline
of essential assets.
The workers, who are owed varying amounts of money since 2009, have lodged a
case against the minister with the High Court.
They accuse him of trying to avoid his responsibility of owning up to the
workers’ dues by setting up a new business venture which will take up
virtually all of Air Zimbabwe’s property but with no strings attached to the
The move, the workers say, is an attempt to leave Air Zimbabwe a shell —
rendering the case against the company of a huge unpaid salary bill
The accusations stem from a letter dated March 26, 2012, written by the
Permanent Secretary for Transport, Communications and Infrastructure
Development, Partson Mbirimi to Air Zimbabwe’s group chief executive officer
Innocent Mavhunga on behalf of Goche instructing him to detach the National
Handling Services (NHS) from Air Zimbabwe Holdings.
Ironically NHS, which handles passengers and cargo, is the only Air Zimbabwe
subsidiary still operating and bringing some revenue to the struggling
“Pursuant to the Cabinet Decision on Air Zimbabwe dated February 28, 2012,
Air Zimbabwe Holdings (Pvt) Ltd should immediately transfer its share
holding in National Handling Services (NHS) to a nominee company, wholly
owned by the government of Zimbabwe, which nominee company will hold
Government shares in NHS,” Mbirimi wrote.
“For the avoidance of doubt, National Handling Services (Pvt) Ltd is no
longer a subsidiary of Air Zimbabwe Holdings (Pvt) Ltd. The current board of
NHS is dissolved."
“At the same time a new interim board was appointed.”
In addition Mbirimi wrote that, “this letter serves to notify you of this
new position of government and requests your office to work with the interim
board of NHS and NHS management to effect the separation of NHS from Air
Zimbabwe Holdings taking into account the policy, legal, regulatory,
financial and human resource aspects.”
The letter jerked the workers into action and they are now seeking to stop
the government from tempering with any of Air Zimbabwe assets until it
settles all its dues to the workers and other concerns that are owed
millions of dollars by the struggling concern.
Already, the High Court is yet to determine an application filed by the
workers represented by the National Air Workers Union and Air Transport
Union seeking to have Air Zimbabwe placed under judicial management.
“The applicants have a reasonable apprehension that the 1st and 2nd
Respondents are attempting to strip the assets of Air Zimbabwe Holdings
(Pvt) Ltd thereby rendering the application in case number HC 661/12 a mere
academic exercise of no real value,” the workers said in court papers filed
by their lawyers Matsikidze and Mucheche.
The minister of Transport, Communication and Infrastructure Development is
cited as the first respondent, his secretary Mbiriri is second respondent,
Air Zimbabwe Holdings (Pvt) Ltd group chief executive officer is the third
respondent, Air Zimbabwe Holdings (Pvt) Ltd is fourth respondent and
National Handling Services (Pvt) Ltd come in as fifth respondent.
“The long and short of it is that the assets of Air Zimbabwe Holdings (Pvt)
Ltd were rendered res litigiosa by the instigation of the aforementioned
under provisional application.
“It would be wrongful for the respondents in cause to deal as they seek to
and that will put the court in the precarious situation of having to hear
and determine a merely academic matter,” the workers argued in court papers.
“In the circumstances, the court ought to consider interdicting the
respondents from entering onto the above transaction until the application
under case number HC/661/12 is determined.
“An interdict pendete lite is the only remedy available to the applicants to
salvage their rights as creditors to the heavily-indebted Air Zimbabwe
Holdings (Pvt) Ltd.”
The workers argue that if the order by Goche to Mavhunga to transfer NHS
shares to a nominee company is allowed to proceed, then their application to
place Air Zimbabwe under judicial management which will oversee its revival
and payment of creditors will turn out to be a “fruitless academic exercise
as the transaction being sought to be carried out by the respondents amounts
to mere asset stripping of Air Zimbabwe Holdings (Pvt) Ltd.”
The workers added that if the court does not stop the transaction then “the
relief that is being currently sought by the applicants in casu, there is a
real and apparent likelihood that by the time this court hears and
determines case number HC/661/12 there will only be mere shells to talk
about, companies without any tangible assets that maybe realized and
salvaged by the judicial manager.”
Air Zimbabwe’s debt to workers and other service providers has risen to $140
Government recently disbanded Air Zimbabwe Holdings and formed a new
state-owned company, Air Zimbabwe Private Limited but little did they know
that Air Zimbabwe Private Limited already exists and owns all the airline’s
The move to “disband” Air Zimbabwe was meant to avoid the troubled airline’s
planes from being impounded by debtors in countries like South Africa and
But this has backfired as the Air Zimbabwe Private limited already owns the
planes which means they will still be impounded.
NHS will now operate as a stand-alone company according to the new plan.
An interim board to oversee operations of the new company has since been
Secretary for Transport Mbiriri chairs the interim board.
Other board members include Andrew Bvumbe (Finance), Sylvester Maunganidze
(Tourism and Hospitality), Florence Nhekairo (Environment and Natural
Resources Management), Eliah Mutowo (State Enterprises), Engineer Simba
Mangwengwende (Zesa) and Stansilaus Mangoma (Industry and Commerce).
Goche said Air Zimbabwe’s debts will be ring-fenced by government pending
legal processes of dismantling Air Zimbabwe Holdings Pvt Ltd.
By Alex Bell
20 April 2012
Zimbabweans in the UK will on Saturday march to the offices of the British
Prime Minister David Cameron, asking him to help ensure that Zimbabwe’s next
elections are supervised by the United Nations (UN).
A letter accompanying the petition, put together by the London based
Zimbabwe Vigil group, thanks Cameron for his recent promise to Zimbabwe’s
Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai to help Zimbabwe hold free and fair
The petition reads: “We call on the Security Council to ensure that the next
elections in Zimbabwe are free and fair. We look to the United Nations to
supervise the electoral process and the handover of power to a new
government and believe peace-keeping troops will need to be in place before,
during and after the polling.”
The petition has been signed in the past two years by more than 12,000
people from all over the world who have passed by the Zimbabwe Vigil, which
has been held outside the Zimbabwe Embassy in London every Saturday for the
past 10 years in protest at human rights abuses.
The petition handover will also form part of the Free Zimbabwe Global
Protest movement, getting underway across the world on Saturday.
The demonstrations, dubbed the 21st Movement, have been taking place on the
21st of every month since January, calling on South Africa to urgently solve
the ongoing crisis in Zimbabwe. South Africa is being targeted as the
mediator in the political stalemate, with protests happening outside that
country’s embassies and consulates around the world.
The movement has been organised by the international executives of the MDC
led by Morgan Tsvangirai and calls on Jacob Zuma to, among other things,
pressure Robert Mugabe and ZANU PF to honour its commitments to the Global
Political Agreement (GPA).
The April round of demonstrations will get underway on Saturday in London,
the US, Australia and South Africa, with the UK and American events
culminating in Independence Day celebrations in the evening.
April 19, 2012
Nico Colombant | Washington
Zimbabwe’s finance minister, Tendai Biti, says his country has a mixed
record in terms of economic policies during a three-year power-sharing unity
government. He also warns there has been no progress in terms of preparing
better elections, which in the past have been marred by widespread violence
At the Atlantic Council think tank Thursday, Biti, pleaded for outside help,
both in terms of improving electoral conditions before it is too late, and
in helping Zimbabwe’s economy.
Economic successes he outlined included dropping the Zimbabwean dollar as
the official currency, which helped tame massive hyperinflation, and
removing previous government restrictions such as price controls.
"The biggest thing which we did was to restore trust in the market, because
we have been predictable, we have been consistent, and I have said if there
is anyone who is going to push me to carry out a measure that I do not agree
with, if anyone is going to force me to retain the Zimbabwean dollar, I will
quit and go back to my law firm," Biti said.
A current power struggle concerns so-called indigenization policies, pushed
forward by Zimbabwe’s black empowerment ministry.
Black Empowerment Minister Saviour Kasukuwere, from President Robert Mugabe’s
ZANU-PF party, said earlier this month the government had taken majority
ownership of all foreign-owned mining companies. But his claim was
immediately disputed by Mugabe’s political rival, Prime Minister Morgan
The prime minister is the head of the Movement for Democratic Change, of
which Biti is the secretary-general.
Biti said that while he understood the aim of indigenization and what he
called "resource nationalism," in order to give citizens sustainable access
to the wealth of their country, he called its implementation in Zimbabwe a
"You are just transferring shares from a few rich, white people, to a few
rich, black people so it is not democratization. It is just elite transfer.
So it was not well thought out. And the true due process is not sufficiently
being followed, so I think it is a program that we need to go back to the
drawing board and then say genuinely how can we empower people," Biti said.
He listed other challenges including massive debt, very little foreign
direct investment and much lower diamond-mining revenues than the government
In terms of politics, Biti warned that if the current opportunity for
successful elections is not met, any economic progress Zimbabwe has made
could be erased.
Elections are expected by next year, but 88-year-old President Mugabe, in
power for more than three decades and once again a candidate, has said he
wants to hold them as soon as possible.
Biti had harsh words for President Mugabe.
"If you have a party that is placing its hopes in somebody who is 88 years
old, I think there is something wrong with that. If you are 88 years, you
belong to a people’s home, you belong to a wheelchair. To place the fate of
a country to an 88-year-old, with great respect, I am not a member of
ZANU-PF, but with great respect, it is an insult to present generations. We
need renewal in Zimbabwe,” Biti said.
Mugabe has said he is still leading Zimbabwe to correct wrongs from the
brutal colonial past of what was then white-minority rule Rhodesia.
19 April 2012
Studio 7 Reporters | Washington
A Zimbabwean non-governmental organization is working with local communities
to eradicate rising child labor in the country, managing through a recent
pilot project to remove some 350 children from the fields back into the
In an effort to promote what it calls child labor free zones, the Coalition
Against Child Labor in Zimbabwe, says it has placed affected children in
"bridge schools" where they are housed temporarily.
The children receive psycho-social support and screening tests before being
placed in various academic programs.
National coordinator Pascal Masocha told VOA a 2007 survey identified
Masvingo province as the worst affected, prompting them to set up a pilot
project in Chiredzi district.
His organization hopes to have 1,000 children in the district back in school
in the next three years.
The International Labor Organization defines child labor as work that is
mentally, physically, socially and or morally harmful to children and
interferes with their schooling.
In Zimbabwe children work as street vendors or laborers on tobacco farms,
tea and sugar plantations as well as mines.
According to a 2010 United Nations Children Fund report, 13 percent of
Zimbabwean children are engaged in child labor, and of the country's 1.3
million orphans, some 100,000 are living on their own in child-headed
The exploitation occurs despite a number of legal safeguards. Zimbabwe’s
Labor Act prohibits employers from hiring children under 18 to perform
hazardous work, and the Children's Act makes it an offense to exploit minors
However, many are questioning the definition of child labor in relation to
traditional and modern ways of living.
Others blame the socio-economic crisis in the country for worsening the
plight of children. Increased poverty, political violence and the HIV and
AIDS pandemic have worsened the plight of Zimbabwean children.
"Child work is work that is carried out by children as part of their
socialization process, like cooking, making the beds, sweeping the yard,
doing gardening, while they still have time to do their school work and play
with other kids," said Masocha.
He said this is different from child labor which is exploitative, as it
destroys the child emotionally and psychologically, killing the child's
chances for getting an education.
Labor expert Davies Ndumiso Sibanda said some farmers who grabbed commercial
farms during the chaotic land reform process, employ large numbers of child
laborers, along with their parents.
"There are orphans who are also used for domestic work because the parents
are not available to look after them, also in rural areas where the
communities are struggling to make a life," said Sibanda.
VOA reporter Tatenda Gumbo turned to Labor Minister Paurina
Gwanyanya-Mpariwa and labor analyst Isaac Mazanhi of the Employers
Confederation of Zimbabwe for perspective on these issues.
Gwanyanya-Mpariwa said the government, labor and civic communities are
working hard to eradicate the growing problem child labor in the country.
By Garikai Chaunza Harare, April 20, 2012- Australia Ambassador to Zimbabwe
Matthew Neuhaus said he is impressed on how the inclusive government is
"I am actually very impressed on how the government has worked together
particularly given the divisions, which where there in 2008 and the
circumstance around the controversial elections then," he told Radio VOP on
"Both sides have since known one another much better in this process. It
was good yesterday (Wednesday) to see the Prime Minister, President and vice
presidents seating together there, in a friendly manner during the national
special day (Independence celebrations). It is my hope and wish that this
spirit can continue because it is so necessary for the future of Zimbabwe,”
“I know there is a lot of criticism of the Inclusive Government and let me
tell you that it is never easy in coalition government. Even in Australia,
Labour party our biggest party, is in coalition...because they do not have a
majority and in Britain you have a coalition between two different parties
and in those countries it is actually difficult."
Prime Minister and Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) leader Morgan
Tsvangirai and his party senior officials attended the celebrations held at
the national sports stadium which was filled to capacity.
Discord however continues to prevail in the three year old coalition
government among others the constitution making process, implementation of
the Indigenisation policy as well as outstanding security and media reforms.
“Let me acknowledge that without the inclusive government countries like
Australia would not have had the opportunity to provide the kind of support
we have provided to Zimbabwe and achieved the progress that has been
achieved over the few years,” he added.
by: Adam Shand
From: The Australian
April 21, 2012 12:00AM
AUSTRALIAN mining entrepreneur Lee John, jailed on politically motivated
charges for the past fortnight in Zimbabwe, has been released on bail
following the personal intervention of President Robert Mugabe.
Mr John, formerly of Brisbane, has been fighting a local member of
parliament and his business partner for control of his gold mine in
Zimbabwe's Midlands town of Kwe Kwe for the past three years.
The politician, the member for Buhera North William Mutomba, and his
business partner Smelly Dube claimed to have family connections with
President Mugabe's wife Grace and allegedly paid bribes of up $US30,000
(A$29,021) to police and other officials to orchestrate Mr John's arrest.
Sources in Harare said Mr Mutomba and Ms Dube also gave misleading
information to Zimbabwe Attorney General Johannes Tomana in order to gain
political support for the ousting of Mr John, who has been developing gold
properties in Zimbabwe since 1998.
Rec Coverage 28 Day pass
Mr John's representatives met with President Mugabe and his wife last
Tuesday to outline the campaign waged against him by Mr Mutomba and Ms Dube,
purportedly on their behalf.
"Dube and Mutomba have been trying to get hold of the mine since 2009 but
they overplayed their hand this time," said a source in Harare who declibed
to be named.
Senior officials from President Mugabe's office were despatched to secure Mr
John's release from Harare Central Prison on Thursday morning.
The source said that senior police were ordered to interrogate the arresting
officer in Mr John's case, who confessed that he and other officials had
been bribed to lay charges against Mr John.
Mr John was charged with illegal prospecting and forging the sale transfer
documents for the mine.
In 2009, Mr John was deported from Zimbabwe to Australia and declared a
prohibited immigrant after allegations that he had illegally occupied gold
mining tenements in Zimbabwe that had allegedly been abandoned by Australian
mining company Delta Gold Ltd.
Mr John won a legal challenge to the deportation .
Mr John, a mining engineer with experience across Africa, has ploughed $6
million of his personal money into a dream of resurrecting what were the
richest gold mining tenements in Zimbabwe.
In 2006, Mr John leased one of his properties Chaka Mine to the Reserve Bank
of Zimbabwe which in turn struck a joint venture with Mr Mutomba and Ms
Dube. When the lease expired in February this year, they refused to vacate
Mr John has leased a number of gold tenements to local businesspeople and
has championed the empowerment of indigenous miners in his area.
Friday, 20 April 2012
Five Zanu PF hooligans have been jailed in Kadoma on charges of assaulting six MDC members in Sanyati last month.
The sentences ranging from seven months to 24 months were handed by a Kadoma magistrate this week.
The five Zanu PF thugs received the following sentences; Nosta Kudzamira, 10 months, Watson Moyo, 11, Noah Sibanda, seven, one who was identified at Tafara, 11and the ring leader only identified as Steven got 24 months.
The Zanu PF goons assaulted MDC members, Reuben Banda, Josiah Shumba, Amos Zhou, Kudzanai Nyamadzawo, Miriam Maramira and Plaxedus Tadiwa on 27 March this year at Madziva Village, Sechure area in Sanyati.
With the assistance of the Joint Monitoring and Implementation Committee (Jomic), the assaulted who received varying degrees of injuries managed to make a report to the police leading to the arrest of the five and subsequent incarceration.
One of the assailants, who has only been identified as Mapfumo is still at large and the police are hunting for him.
Jomic will next week visit the scene of the incident, Madziva Village and investigate reports that there are political tensions in the area and address the political leadership of both the MDC and Zanu PF, the traditional and church leaders as well as meeting the villagers.
The people’s struggle for real change – Let’s finish it!!!
MDC Information & Publicity Department
By Busani Bafana
BULAWAYO, Zimbabwe, Apr 20, 2012 (IPS) - Government and sanitation experts
say Zimbabwe needs to increase efforts to promote good hygiene and invest in
toilets and clean water provision, as the country grapples with a typhoid
The country has reported more than 3,000 cases of typhoid since March.
Typhoid is transmitted by the ingestion of food or water contaminated with
the feces of an infected person. Most of the cases are from the country’s
capital, Harare, and there have been at least two reported deaths
However, the use of the "bush toilet" or open defecation is a much-used
practice, which the Zimbabwe government is concerned about. Zimbabwe's
Minister of Water Resources Samuel Sipepa Nkomo said it reflects the
ingrained attitudes about sanitation and hygiene among the people in this
southern African nation.
"We have a big problem with regards to open defecation and we have to put
our heads together to deal with it," Nkomo told IPS.
Zimbabwe paid a high price for its limited investment in sanitation and
water programmes between 2008 and 2009. More than 4,000 people died from
cholera and over 100,000 were infected because of poor hygiene and a lack of
toilet facilities. Cholera is also is transmitted by the ingestion of food
or water contaminated with the feces of an infected person.
"The spread of cholera said that our hygiene was poor and we were not
washing our hands at regular intervals. Besides, typhoid is a disease of
hygiene," said Noma Neseni, executive director of the Institute of Water and
Sanitation Development, a non-governmental organisation that is a regional
centre for institutional capacity development in the water and sanitation
Neseni said Zimbabwe’s challenge was to change people’s attitudes about
sanitation and hygiene. "We are not focusing on hygiene promotion, but more
on infrastructure, which should not be the case."
Data compiled by the World Health Organization and the United Nations
Children’s Fund (UNICEF) Joint Monitoring Programme shows that Zimbabwe’s
national targets are 80 percent for rural sanitation, 100 percent for urban
sanitation, and 100 percent for rural and urban water supply.
Based on the most recent estimates of sanitation coverage in 2010, Zimbabwe
needs to increase coverage from 52 to 77 percent in urban areas and from 32
to 68 percent in rural areas to meet the Millennium Development Goals, the
eight international anti-poverty and development goals that the United
Nations member states agreed to achieve by the year 2015.
"If there is persistent hand washing, no one will succumb to diseases," said
Neseni. "We have more infrastructural development, but infrastructure
without the requisite attitude will not achieve much. We need hygiene
awareness. Part of the problem is that we take sanitation and water as the
preserve of the government; we need the private sector to work in
partnership with everyone."
Neseni called for a coordinated public-private sector approach to tackling
Zimbabwe's challenges in sanitation, hygiene and water supply.
These key issues are the focus of the second High-Level Meeting of the
Sanitation and Water for All (SWA) partnership hosted by UNICEF in
Washington D.C. on Friday Apr. 20.
The meeting has brought together more than 60 ministers responsible for
water and sanitation and finance from over 30 developing countries. Also
present are donors and civil society organisations committed to accelerating
progress towards universal access to safe water supply, sanitation and
hygiene (WASH) through increased investment.
According to the SWA briefing note, the ministers are expected to come up
with resolutions on how to address the WASH crisis.
Nkomo was quick to admit to Zimbabwe’s poor performance in this area.
"On sanitation, we are bad, though we are better on water provision," Nkomo
told IPS from Washington D.C. "The outbreak of cholera in 2008 and typhoid
this year were loud warning bells about the consequences of not spending
more money in sanitation and water infrastructure. But we are making efforts
to improve the situation once and for all."
Nkomo, who is accompanying Zimbabwe's Finance Minister Tendai Biti to the
meeting, said the country was drafting a national sanitation and water
strategy for presentation to stakeholders by the end of April.
"This will be a multi-sectorial approach to raise awareness about the
dangers of open defecation, and we should not be found wanting when it comes
to providing proper infrastructure."
The strategy will guide investment and promotion of sanitation, and access
to clean water in urban and rural areas. This week, Zimbabwe’s Ministry of
Health and Child Welfare warned that waterborne cholera remained a threat.
Figures released this week by the Epidemiology and Disease Control Unit in
the Ministry of Health and Child Welfare show that cholera cases for the
first quarter of 2012 doubled to 8,154 from the 4,000 cases reported during
the same period last year. Half of these cases were for children under the
age of five. The ministry said it is planning to introduce vaccines to curb
the number of cholera cases in children.
Xtreme Opinion This ‘Independence’, Rejoice Ngwenya, Harare,
Iconic film-maker Animal Planet offers valuable lessons on African
dictators. Even the largest of all predators, the lion, has its own
pound-for-pound adversary – the buffalo bull. I insist that benevolent
dictator Angola’s Jose Eduardo Dos Santos, ‘obsolete’ monarch King Mswati
III of Swaziland and Zimbabwe’s ‘ageless’ Robert Mugabe will inevitably
crumble under the wrath of ‘Ubuntu Spring’ democratic Tsunami. Zimbabwe,
though, faces a unique challenge: desisting from vengeance while
neutralising Mugabe’s cunning systemic remnants of patronage long after his
A perfect example of this dichotomy is Local Government minister Ignatius
Chombo who basks in an aura of statutory infallibility, exploiting the Urban
Councils Act to unashamedly entrench ZANU-PF interests. His repertoire of
directives compels municipalities to accept so-called special councillors,
nullify council resolutions, suspend and dismiss councillors. The biggest
casualty of this rabidly partisan behaviour is the Morgan
Tsvangirayi-controlled urban councils. Even if the unintended consequence is
that MDC-T concocts a perfect excuse for failure, I have a slightly
When we conjured up the concept of ‘democratic councils forum’ with
progressive ‘mayoral galácticos’ Japhet Ndabeni-Ncube, Jessie Majome, Elias
Mudzuri, Zinti Mkandla, Alois Chaimiti, Sesel Zvidzai, Misheck Shoko et al
in the early 2000s, we wanted a mayoral ‘think tank’ that creates an ideal
model of local governance excellence. We were out to prove that MDC could
run national government as well as it [had] run councils. The Chombo factor
though prevalent, our councils – especially Bulawayo remained top
As of now this legacy of MDC-T ‘dominating urban councils’ is an electoral
albatross around Tsvangirayi’s neck. There are perceptions – not without
justification – that the spate of alleged corruption in Harare, Chitungwiza
and Mutare are of MDC-T’s own making. Many roads remain impassable as
informal traders clutter empty spaces. Harare mayor Much Masunda concedes
that only 40 percent of Harare residents have access to daily doses of
portable water never mind the 2,800 cases of typhoid reported in February.
Mountains of uncollected garbage and rivers of sewage are now ‘acceptable’
as integral part of MDC-T modern-day local governance.
Departmental head in the Harare City Council, Charles Nyatsuro concedes that
ZANU-PF’s terror group Chipangano dominates some aspects of MDC-T local
authority responsibility. MP Piniel Denga claims his constituency is
controlled by the ZANU PF youths as alleged vigilantes headed by ZANU-PF
Harare South legislator Hubert Nyanhongo molest citizens in Mbare and
Highfields. Chitungwiza mayor Philemon Chipiyo claims he was ‘prevented’
from disciplining his errant team while Farai Nyandoro of Marondera has a
bank full of excuses why Marondera labours under a burden of ZANU-PF excess
human baggage. Mutare Mayor Brian James of Mutare is a reluctant recipient
of Chombo’s wrath, not to mention ‘special councillors’ appointed to
allegedly complement skills and competencies ‘lacking’ in Bulawayo council.
There is consensus that the predatory Chombo is not qualified to dispense
governance justice what with allegations of corruption himself, not least by
those that he seeks to persecute. Of late, the Denford Chirindo headed
Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission has been sniffing for ‘property
contraband’ around Chombo’s empire. Councillor Warship Dumba set off the
alarms in an audit “which fingered Chombo in alleged corrupt land deals.”
If Tsvangirayi claims of being a ‘people’s person’ are credible, then he
must apply his leverage to start a legitimate nationwide anti-Chombo civic
rebellion. MDC-T councillors themselves are obsessed with material
accumulation, to the extent that service delivery is now bullet ten on their
agenda. In order to win Election 2013, Tsvangirayi can only be saved by an
‘Ubuntu Spring’ type popular uprising that deals a political mortal blow to
ZANU-PF patronage. Is he the Buffalo Bull?
April 19, 2012
The following is an excerpt from the Introduction to a special issue of the
Journal of Contemporary African Studies on Zimbabwe edited by David Moore.
The complete version of Moore’s introduction is available for free download
at Taylor & Francis Online’s Journal of Contemporary African Studies —
Volume 30, Issue 1, 2012
As Roger Southall raised the idea for this special edition of the Journal of
Contemporary African Studies many years ago, the popular political theorist
John Gray’s gloomy reflections on the idea of “progress” seemed to be very
relevant to Zimbabwe. Gray’s Black Mass: Apocalyptic Religion and the Death
of Utopia (2007) spoke of theories of “development” and “modernisation” –
surely “scientific” syntheses of liberal philosophies of “progress” in
“lesser developed” places such as Africa – as dreams. For Gray they are “not
scientific hypothesis but theodicies – narratives of providence and
redemption – presented in the jargon of social science”. As such they are
part of the economistic (sometimes ‘neo-liberal’) “beliefs that dominated
the last two decades … residues of the faith in providence that supported
classical political economy” (2007, 75). Perhaps the political, economic and
social collapse of Zimbabwe amidst the ability of its rulers to maintain –
and perhaps even to gain – power, buttresses Gray’s pessimism. Closer than
Gray to Zimbabwe, Peter Godwin wrote that events in his homeland moved him
to wonder if “the whole idea of progress is a paradox, a rocking horse that
goes forward and back, forward and back, but stays in the same place, giving
only the comforting illusion of motion” (2006, 51-2).
It was in such a context that this journal’s theme – and that of the
approximately 150 person November 2010 Bulawayo conference that was its
prelude[i] – came to be. A society in which the economy had plummeted to
such an extent that the state no longer had a currency in its name, and even
the thinnest form of democracy (elections) seemed still-born in the form of
a “transitional inclusive government”, might have been a good place to test
the optimism of believers in progress.
Aside from those who received middling or large plots of land in the
“fast-track” reform process,[ii] a small elite within the accumulation
networks within and beyond the ZANU-PF party, state and society complex
(Mawowa and Matongo 2010), and perhaps a few in the top echelons of the
diaspora, by late 2011 for whom in Zimbabwe had “progress” unfolded? Very
few indeed, it would seem. The vast majority had lost their jobs to “work”
in the informal sector if they were lucky, had migrated to South Africa and
further abroad to work – often informally too – if they were somewhat
luckier (although leaving Zimbabwe for South Africa put migrants at risk of
xenophobia), while a significant minority who kept up their political
opposition in Zimbabwe (or were even suspected of voting against the ruling
party) and its counterpart in civil society (see Helliker in this edition
for important theoretical considerations) suffered violent abuse or death
(Sachikonye 2011; Staunton 2009; Orner and Holmes 2011). Many died from
easily avoidable illnesses, such as those in the cholera epidemic of 2008-9,
or ones that can be kept at bay in “normal” circumstances. To be sure, the
secular celebrants of the “land to the poor” litany maintain their beliefs
(Scoones 2010; cf Rutherford in this edition[iii]) but the statistical
rebuffs to what appears to be their positivist rectitude are incubating. In
general, even the most sanguine of those following the varied dicta of the
“national democratic revolution” – such as South Africa’s former president
Thabo Mbeki (2001; Moore in this issue) – could not apply the laws of
deferred socialism to Zimbabwe easily, while John Hoffman in these pages
(perhaps with post-NDR as well as post-liberal lines) can only offer us the
hope that the momentum of progress, albeit stalled, has taken root in
Zimbabwe and will appear more obviously again: but even in a post-Mugabe era
there will be “tremendous problems to overcome”, needing a “hard headed
notion of progress, rooted in painful and complex realities”.
“Accumulation” is a “hard-headed notion” indeed, as are those of power and
the violence that accompanies it when widespread consent and legitimacy
disappear, to emerge again only with a combination of coercion and patronage
(see Kriger in this edition). Thus this journal – veering somewhat from the
more varied topics at the Bulawayo conference – has moved towards bringing
together the ideas of accumulation and power. As the time of publication
approached, so too did the mirage of elections to take Zimbabwe out of its
inclusive government impasse, and thus the reality of ZANU PF’s increased
intimidation: this time, the new twist seemed to be that marauding urban
youth gangs headed by ZANU PF affiliates sought to control the once
laisser-faire informal marketers captured so well in Chagonda’s contribution
to this journal (Moyo 2011), as well as deterring activists and electors
from their preferred party choices.
As the transitional inclusive government (IG) or the ‘government of national
unity’ (GNU) mired deeper into its deadlock while a parallel form of
governance emerged (Kriger, this journal), the links between violence and
accumulation – and lack of the latter for some: those without access to
alternative accumulation possibilities are easily recruited to brutal
enterprises such as the Chipangano, as are they to the National Youth
Service (Shumba 2006; 2010) and the long-standing Green Bomber militias –
were tightening as never before. Yet even this connection – a ‘rational’ and
‘logical’ association between the meting out of cruelty and the gathering of
often excessive wealth amidst extreme scarcity – may still lock us into the
development theodicy of which Gray speaks. We can attempt to explain
Zimbabwe’s violence in terms of the original sin of primary or primitive
accumulation if we are Marxists, or the painful transition to modernity if
we are liberals: as Ahluwalia, Bethlehem and Ginio (2007, 2) take it from
Mamdani, the “notion of historical progress … ensures that our modern
sensibility is not repulsed by the endemic violence that has marked the
modern condition”, but when that violence seems senseless – if it “cannot be
justified by progress” – it is much more disturbing; it becomes explained
away as ‘evil’ a category too often applied to the Third World ‘other’ by
denizens of wealthy capitalist countries whose historical memories have
disappeared. Perhaps explaining is a lesser evil – or a better religion –
than explaining away, so social scientists continue in that attempt. In any
case, explaining means teasing out particularities rather than resting on
general platitudes such as ‘primitive accumulation is always violent’ (the
‘materialist’ social scientists), ‘Africans are always violent’ (the
racists), and ‘liberation wars always lead to violent and predatory ruling
parties and/or classes’ (a version of the liberal view). Perhaps too, the
movement of ‘progress’ can only be measured by examining standards of life
rather than whether or not humanity’s spiritual essence has improved: saints
are quite often poor.
Those who live in Zimbabwe and who study it once invested much ‘hope’ for
its progress on the possibility of its settler-colonial heritage of
relatively advanced forces and relations of production negating the need for
more violence than that expended in the first phase of primitive
accumulation (the settler conquest) and the struggle to spread its gains to
a new generation of differently coloured politicians and citizens (the
‘liberation’ war). In 1980, many feared the supposedly ‘Marxist-Leninist
Terrorist’ Robert Mugabe (although not a few ‘Marxist-Leninists’ were fooled
too). Yet his kind, if stilted (and, in retrospect, not so soothing), words
on the dawn of independence – “if yesterday you hated me, today you cannot
avoid the love that binds you to me and me to you … the wrongs of the past
must now stand forgiven and forgotten … we are all Zimbabweans now” seemed
to dissipate those qualms as Mugabe was compared favourably with figures of
Mother Theresa’s stature (De Waal 1990; Kilgore 2009). When those dreams
were dissipated during ZANU PF’s ‘third chimurenga’, many were surprised.
Robert Mugabe’s bromides were remembered with a bitter nostalgia and he was
turned quickly into a mendacious, if not mad, dictator. Some mourned the
metamorphosis of ‘nationalist’ to ‘patriotic’ history,[iv] (see Ian
Phimister’s account in these pages: for him there was no metamorphosis, but
a nearly natural evolution in nationalist history – and histories of
nationalism as some define them – far too silent on class and contradictions
that we all should have seen coming) while others with some sense of that
discipline saw the roots of all the current problems in the violence of the
national/patriotic war. Yet many of those who wrote against the celebratory
nationalist current were prone to seeing a mirror image….
To continue reading and for the complete version of David Moore’s
introduction, download it at:
Journal of Contemporary African Studies — Volume 30, Issue 1
David Moore is a Professor of Development Studies and head of the Department
of Anthropology and Development Studies, University of Johannesburg, South
[i] The conference – of which this journal edition is a “product” – was
sponsored by the Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa, Interchurch
Organisation for Development Cooperation, the Norwegian People’s Aid and the
Civil Society Monitoring Mechanism. Itai Zimunya must be thanked profusely
for his long-term work as the OSISA “point-man” in Zimbabwe, as must Eldred
Masunungure’s Mass Public Opinion Institute and especially Monica Munzwandi
and her team for fine organisation and logistics. Showers Mawowa and Judith
Todd deserve special appreciation too. Bulawayo Agenda assisted in its fair
city. Patrick Bond emailed the proceedings to all and sundry, all over,
every day. Kubatana’s Amanda Atwood set up an audio and text archive,
and Edwina Spicer Productions filmed the event. Apparently about six scribes
from Zimbabwe’s Central Intelligence Organisation were also taking notes and
discussing matters with the delegates. Finally but most gratefully, thanks
to Norma Kriger and Brian Raftopoulos, who kept this boat afloat.
[ii] Not all of the larger plots of land went to ostensibly ZANU PF
supporters; or not all recipients stayed ZANU PF supporters. Between
February and June 2002 the state-run Sunday Mail published a list from the
Ministry of Lands and Agriculture of those who received Model A-2
(Commercial Scheme) farms (Justice for Agriculture, 2002). A Dr. Mtuli
Ncube, then a lecturer at the London School of Economics, is listed as
having received Sikumi Estate, nearly 8,400 hectares in size, near Hwange,
Matabeleland North. As of late 2011 Ncube was Chief Economist and Vice
President of the African Development Bank, after holding posts as Head of
the Business School at the University of Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, and
for a few months thereafter Dean of the Faculty of Commerce, Law and
Management at Wits. Before that, however, he was chair of Barbican Bank,
which lost its licence in the early 2000s, but by 2010 was apparently
opening once again (Mpofu, 2011). While in Johannesburg Professor Ncube was
involved in the organisation of at least two well-advertised public
appearances by the president of the MDC, Morgan Tsvangirai, and at a Wits
University public seminar on the Zimbabwean situation advocated the
establishment of private property rights as the sine qua non of Zimbabwean
[iii] Rutherford’s review essay in the form of a conference paper came to
the editors as they were starting work on this edition. In spite and because
of Kirk Helliker’s previous review in these pages, we felt the debate
deserved even more comprehensive treatment; thus we asked its author to
elaborate some more.
[iv] Another problem with the idea of “patriotic history” is that it can be
made much too powerful, approaching the status of a driver of Zimbabwe’s
modern history and political economy, accelerated and steered by a small
coterie of “public intellectuals” (Tendi 2010).