STATE security agents have taken over Watermount Estate, a farm
belonging to closed Time Bank and subdivided into residential stands, saying
they had approval from senior government officials.
The agents from the Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO) and the
President's Office have been at the farm since last week and are evicting
Watermount Estate workers.
The farm, just outside Harare along Enterprise Road, was bought by
Time Bank in 1998 for development as a residential property.
Most of the agents are understood to be from Didymus Mutasa's Ministry
of National Security and Lands and are reported to have also been allocated
land in the same district.
The seizure of the property contravenes a 2005 Administrative Court
order cancelling the listing of the farm for acquisition by government.
The order by Justice Dube in September 2005 said: "The caveat endorsed
by the Registrar of Deeds in terms of the Land Acquisition Act, on the
remainder of Craig Crag Estates registered under Deed of Transfer Number
8745/98 situated in the district of Goromonzi, be and is hereby cancelled."
In an interview last week, Minister Mutasa said he had allowed the
settlers to move onto the farm because the owners had not provided his
office with documents to prove that the farm was black-owned. He said he had
not seen the title deeds or the court judgement.
However, Watermount Estates' managing director, Antony Parehwa, said
they had given the court order and title deeds to the permanent secretary
for Lands, Ngoni Masoka.
"We gave those documents to Masoka. I don't understand why they have
not reached the minister," Parehwa said.
"It appears to me that for some strange reasons Masoka is holding on
to those crucial documents because every time Minister Mutasa claims not to
have seen the papers," he said.
Court papers filed by Watermount in their initial challenge to
government's attempts to acquire the farm show that four of the settlers are
security agents who were allocated farms four years ago. One of the settlers
is Petronella Kagonye, the chief lands officer in Mutasa's office, who also
owns plot Numbers 8-11 (125h) at The Glebe farm in Goromonzi.
She works in Mutasa's office where she is responsible for land
The papers show that another settler is a Stanley Kagonye - father of
Petronella - who was initially allocated plot number 4 (66h) at Chinyika
farm in Goromonzi. The list of settlers also includes Charles Machomba, a
senior CIO officer, and Cephas Hodzi, also a senior state agent who owns a
485 hectare plot at Lyne Farm in Goromonzi.
A senior police officer, Alvin Msengezi, has also settled at the farm.
As the battle for ownership rages on, lawyers for Watermount's owners,
Mbidzo, Muchadehama & Makoni, have written to Masoka asking him whether he
had anything to do with "corrupt activities" surrounding the takeover of the
The letter asked Masoka to distance himself from the corruption
allegations in the Watermount issue.
"Our client respects your person and your office and genuinely
believes that you and your office respect the laws of Zimbabwe," the lawyers
said in the letter. "If what our client continues to receive has foundation,
we will be happy if you could expressly distance yourself, so that these
people cease forthwith to tarnish your good name, standing and reputation."
Masoka had not responded to the letter by the time of going to press.
Sources this week said police had started investigating corruption
allegations around the Watermount ownership wrangle.
Augustine Mukaro/Shakeman Mugari
AS food and foreign currency shortages intensify, government has
devised a plan to barter sugar for maize with Malawi.
The strategy conceived by the Joint Operations Command (JOC) food
taskforce - which brings together the army, police, intelligence service and
ministries of Agriculture and Industry - came into force last month as
government desperately tries to stave-off starvation.
The barter project has resulted in a countrywide shortage of sugar
which is now only available on the informal market where it is fetching up
to $20 000 a kg. The price of sugar is controlled by the state and a 2kg
packet should cost $8 000. Price wars between government and producers have
in the past created intermittent shortages but the latest stockouts are as a
result of major exports to Malawi, industry sources said.
The Zimbabwe Independent this week heard that the sugar was being
transported to Malawi in 30-tonne trucks which then came back into the
country with maize.
While it is not clear how much sugar will be exported to Malawi,
Zimbabwe is set to receive two tonnes of maize for every tome of sugar
exported. A tonne of maize is fetching US$155 compared to US$348 for a tonne
Sources at the Grain Marketing Board (GMB) said a team made up of the
taskforce and the parastatal's operations department officers has already
shipped two consignments of sugar to Malawi, one in March and another two
weeks ago in exchange for maize. The source said the group was in the
process of putting together further sugar consignments to cover the huge
grain deficit in the country.
"About 100 000 tonnes of maize have already been discussed and will be
on their way to Zimbabwe once the shipment arrangements have been
finalised," the source said. "However, considering that an estimated 400 000
tonnes are likely to be produced locally, that leaves a huge deficit that
needs to be filled."
Zimbabwe requires 1,8 million tonnes of grain to bridge two farming
seasons, excluding 500 000 tonnes for strategic reserves.Government is
understood to be getting the sugar directly from the mills in Chiredzi.
Farmers in the area said it was possible for government to commandeer
sugar ahead of any other customer and where they would send it is entirely
up to them.
"Government often commandeers sugar which it buys at ridiculous
prices," one farmer said. "Last year export consignments destined for
Namibia had to be stopped to allow government to get 10 000 tonnes of sugar
Malawi, swamped with surplus maize from two bumper harvests, said it
was prepared to export 400 000 tonnes of the staple to cash-strapped
Nasinuku Saukila, general manager of the National Food Reserve Agency,
recently said Malawi has had two years of bumper maize harvest and is in
surplus of about 1,1 million tonnes. He was also quoted as saying that
Zimbabwe has been shopping around for maize and they will be exporting 400
000 tonnes of maize following a demand from Zimbabwe.
Over the past six years government has resorted to barter trade in
minerals, land and other natural resources with any country that has the
potential to provide fuel. Recently government hatched a plan to use
diamonds mined from Marange in exchange for fuel from Equatorial Guinea.
Controversy around the discovery and exploitation of diamonds in
Marange where the government has kicked out the owners of the claim, a
British company, African Consolidated Resources (ACR), is likely to scupper
the fuel deal.
Government is said to have already received fuel worth US$24 million
from Equatorial Guinea, which it is unable to pay for, and now wants to use
part of the diamond loot to amortise the debt.
Similar barter trade facilities put in place by government previously
collapsed as government failed to honour its promises on time.
RESERVE Bank governor Gideon Gono yesterday all but devalued the
Zimbabwe dollar by up to 98,3% even though he insisted otherwise.
Although the devaluation will only apply to what Gono called the
Drought Mitigation and Economic Stabilisation Fund, the market interpreted
it to mean the official value of the Zimbabwe dollar is now equivalent to
US$1: $15 000, from US$1: $250 which has been the rate since last July.
According to the new fund, holders of foreign currency will get the
current rate of $250 multiplied by 60. This is the value of the money the
banks give to any client who liquidates his foreign currency holdings.
Gono yesterday maintained that he had not devalued the dollar saying
this remained the mandate of the Ministry of Finance.
"The value of the Zimbabwe dollar remains the same but you must
realise this measure is meant to enhance exporter viability," Gono said.
"So, no it's not devaluation because all other transactions will be
done at the rate of $250 until the appropriate ministry makes a decision on
that issue. Decisions on the exchange rate will be made by the Finance
minister. That's what the law says."
The technical knock down of the value came as it emerged that cabinet
last week rejected an urgent proposal by Finance minister Samuel Mumbengegwi
to devalue the Zimbabwe dollar. Sources said cabinet told Mumbengegwi that
an outright devaluation of the local currency was out of the question and
should not be put on the agenda anytime soon.
Under the new fund - meant to raise money to import maize - generators
and holders of foreign exchange will still use an exchange rate of $250 but
will multiply it by 60.
To get the actual value, people have to multiply the value of their
United States dollar by the current $250 and then multiply it by 60. This
means that US$100 will fetch $1,5 million. The devalued rate will apply in
almost every sector of the economy.
Gono said the rate would cover manufacturers, miners, farmers and tour
operators. The scheme will also include NGOs, embassies, people in the
diaspora, individuals and international transporters.
Gono also announced that companies and individuals with foreign
currency could lend their money to government by subscribing to Drought
Mitigation and Economic Stabilisation Bonds.
Gono reduced the retention rate for gold producers from 67% to 60% and
reviewed the gold price from $16 000 to $350 000 per gramme which they get
at the accelerated rate of $15 000 to the greenback.
Gold miners had asked for a support price of $450 000 per gramme.
Tobacco producers will use the same rate of $15 000 but will also get a
bonus of $40 000 for every bale that contains a grade of tobacco that
fetches US$1,50 per gramme.
The monetary policy also reviewed overnight secured rates from 500% to
600%. Overnight unsecured rates were reviewed from 600% to 700%.
Orirando Manwere/ Nqobani Ndlovu
A TOTAL of 51 police officers in Bulawayo are on suspension, some for
two years, on full salary for various offences still under investigation.
There are reports that some members of the force have remained
suspended despite being acquitted while there has been slow progress in
The 51 officers comprise constables, sergeants and assistant
inspectors from both the Criminal Investigation Department and uniformed
branches of the police.
According to highly placed police sources, the continued suspension of
the officers, some of whom were attached to critical sections of the CID, is
impacting on manpower levels while the idle officers are gobbling up
millions of dollars in monthly salaries.
A police constable earns about $400 000 gross salary including
allowances; a sergeant about $500 000 and an assistant inspector nearly $600
The suspended officers spend the day doing what are termed "fatigue
duties" in police parlance which includes picking up litter, slashing grass,
cleaning offices, and washing police cars.
They report for roll call parades three times a day.
A senior police officer who spoke on condition of anonymity said while
their suspension from active duties was in line with police standing orders,
it was the lack of progress in the investigation of the cases and the
continued suspension of those not found guilty that was a cause for concern.
"It would appear our commanders are just out to victimise some of
these junior officers on petty offences which do not warrant such
suspension," the officer said. "Some of them are over two years on
suspension while others have since been acquitted in the courts and under
the Police Act. It's surprising that they have remained on suspension at a
time when we need more manpower."
"There are three assistant inspectors, 10 sergeants who hold middle
managerial roles at their respective stations who are on suspension, and
several constables," the officer said.
"Some of them committed offences but what I am worried about is the
manner in which the investigations are being conducted."
He said some investigating officers have been transferred to other
"No one seems concerned about the implications of this up there
(commander's offices)," said the officer.
He said in terms of police standing orders, officers are automatically
suspended from active duties once they are under investigation for any
alleged offence. He said there were a number of officers whose cases had
been finalised and had been acquitted but had remained suspended.
A junior officer on suspension alleged that one deputy provincial
commander appeared to have a bone to chew with mostly CID officers whom he
targeted over "petty issues".
A LEADER of Zimbabwe's opposition described how she was tortured for
attending a prayer meeting last month and called for an international
campaign to end the abduction, arrests and beatings of opponents of
President Robert Mugabe.
Grace Kwinjeh, who said she is still receiving treatment for an
internal head injury and other injuries from the March 11 attack, called
herself and a 64-year-old woman who eventually were allowed to go to South
Africa for medical treatment "the two lucky ones" because they are out of
Kwinjeh spoke on Wednesday at a news conference at the UN
Correspondents Association that was organised by the Open Society Initiative
for Southern Africa. It is part of the Open Society Institute founded by
billionaire financier and global philanthropist George Soros.
In Zimbabwe, demonstrations and a national strike in the past month
have been thwarted largely by the heavy deployment of police and troops and
violent police action that crushed the March 11 prayer meeting that the
government said was a political protest banned under sweeping security laws.
Opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai, who heads the Movement for
Democratic Change, and other pro-democracy activists including Kwinjeh, the
movement's deputy secretary for international relations, were assaulted by
police while under arrest.
Kwinjeh said she was beaten with an iron bar and lost part of an ear.
"After they tortured me, I stayed for about 72 hours without access to my
lawyers," she said.
She said she then ended up in hospital under guard by riot police and
a gun pointed at her, but the High Court eventually ordered the riot police
to leave "since there was no credible case against us".
Because of her head wound, arrangements were made for her and the
other woman, Sekai Holland, to go to South Africa, but they were stopped at
the airport and spent another four days in hospital under riot police guard
before lawyers got a court order for the two to leave for six weeks.
After they landed in South Africa, she said, 28 colleagues were
re-arrested, tortured, admitted to hospital and then taken from the hospital
to prison where five are in a "very bad state", barely able to move or eat.
"After what I went through, I thought an international campaign for
these 28 colleagues should be launched," said Kwinjeh, who spent five weeks
in a South African hospital before flying to New York.
"I really thank God that I'm lucky to be out here to be able to tell
my story. But ... I can't tell my story without bringing to attention
Zimbabweans who are being attacked every day," she said.
"So far, over 600 of our activists have been abducted. In the Movement
for Democratic Change half of our staff have been arrested on charges of
treason. So that is the increased repression, that is what the opposition in
Zimbabwe is faced with," Kwinjeh said.
Otto Saki, acting director of Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights who
represented Kwinjeh, said March 11 was just one incident the organisation
He said police and intelligence organs posed the greatest threat, and
the situation was becoming "very difficult because we are now equally
The Zimbabwean opposition and critics abroad accuse Mugabe of economic
mismanagement and political oppression. - Sapa-AP.
THE country's second largest city, Bulawayo, is facing a shortfall of
62 million cubic metres of water, a situation that will result in the city
decommissioning three more supply dams in the coming four months, the city's
mayor has revealed.
Bulawayo is in the throes of a serious water crisis that has already
seen the city putting in place stringent water rationing measures for
Bulawayo's supply dams, Inyankuni, Lower and Upper Ncema, Umzingwane
and Insiza, did not receive significant water inflows during the last rainy
Umzingwane and Lower Ncema were decommissioned late last year after
water dwindled to levels where it was no longer possible to abstract it.
Bulawayo executive mayor, Japhet Ndabeni Ncube, told delegates at the
opening of the Zimbabwe International Trade Fair that the city's dams had a
holding capacity of 77 million cubic metres but currently only had 11
million cubic metres.
"The water situation has not improved appreciably," said Ncube. "If
anything, it has moved from bad to worse during the entire rainy season in
which there was a total inflow of 11 million cubic metres compared to 73
million cubic metres in the previous rainy season," Ncube said.
"Last year we decommissioned two supply dams and current projections
are that in the next six months three more dams will be decommissioned, then
Bulawayo will be dry," Ncube said.
He said after the three dams are decommissioned, Insiza dam will be
the sole source of water. It will however not be able to meet demand.
Council is currently drilling boreholes around the city to augment the
little water available.
Ncube said the city's hope now lies with the government speedily
re-connecting Mtshabezi dam with Umzingwane dam.
"We hope when the city dams run dry, the Zimbabwe National Water
Authority will have completed the Mtshabezi-Umzingwane interlink," Ncube
Bulawayo council has imposed a raft of stringent measures on residents
in a bid to conserve dwindling water supplies as the situation moves to
The city, whose permanent water security lies in the implementation of
a project to pipe water from the Zambezi river, has banned the use of
hosepipes while imposing stiff penalties on offenders.
Bulawayo's unreliable water supplies have forced many industries to
relocate to other areas around the country. Bulawayo experienced its worst
drought in 1992 when the city's water supplies ran dry but a Norwegian
organisation came to the rescue by sinking 77 boreholes in the Nyamandlovu
The council has also cut by 10% water allocated daily to hospitals and
GOVERNMENT has taken over diamond mining in Marange and begun trial
mining for alluvial diamonds and exploration work through its parastatal,
the Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation (ZMDC), to ascertain the
quantity of the mineral despite being entangled in a legal dispute.
British mining explorer, African Consolidated Resources (ACR), is
challenging the takeover in court. According to an independent legal opinion
by the Attorney-General's Office (AG) seen by the Zimbabwe Independent, the
takeover of the claims from ACR is wrong.
The seizure of the diamond claims comes on the back of rampant illegal
mining and smuggling of the precious mineral since its discovery last year.
An estimated US$400 million in potential foreign currency earnings has
been lost due to the smuggling of the gem as impoverished Zimbabweans flock
to Marange, which has since been sealed off by the military.
Mines permanent secretary, Thabani Ndlovu, on Tuesday told the
Independent that government's takeover of the diamond claims was a matter of
national interest and that Zimbabwe was entitled to the full benefits of her
resources. Ndlovu said the ground is now being set for "large-scale
"The ZMDC has begun trial mining for alluvial diamonds and are also
recovering some diamonds from their pilot mining," said Ndlovu.
"However, nothing has been sold because exploration work to establish
the quantity and occurrence of the diamonds in the area is underway. We need
to know the exact source of the diamonds because we believe there is a high
concentration of diamonds. Marange diamonds are a matter of national
interest and Zimbabwe must derive full benefits from this resource."
This new twist to the Marange saga comes at a time when Ndlovu
revealed the Mines and Minerals Amendment Bill is now past Cabinet Committee
stage and is at the Attorney-General (AG)'s office for fine tuning before
being subsequently tabled before parliament.
This is likely to reignite fears of government's nationalisation plans
that have left foreign investors with jitters as they would soon be expected
to surrender 51% of their equity to locals.
The permanent secretary said ZMDC would soon seek an investment
partner so as to bolster its capacity to tap into the mineral but could not
disclose the name of the investor.
"We have received numerous requests from local, regional and
international investors who want to partner government under a joint
venture. Unfortunately I do not have the names of the prospecting companies
before me, I would need to take a big file."
The Independent has it on good authority that the ousted legal owners
of the Marange claim, ACR, had made a proposal for a joint venture with
government but it was shot down, with the state insisting on going it alone.
Chief mining commissioner, Fredson Mabhena, confirming the government's
takeover of Marange, said ACR had no titles to the diamond claims and as far
as they were concerned ZMDC are the rightful owners to the contentious
"ACR don't have any title at Marange," said Mabhena.
"We know they have filed a court order, but as far as the ministry is
concerned those claims were irregularly registered and as such invalidated
in July 2006."
The Mines ministry awarded the Minerals Marketing Corporation of
Zimbabwe three special grants to explore diamonds in Marange after
invalidating ACR's titles, but upon realising the move was incompetent as it
violated the Mines and Minerals Act, ceded the claims to ZMDC.
Observers this week said government through the Marange diamonds
takeover is desperate to raise foreign currency to procure essential public
goods such as fuel.
A FRESH wave of evictions has hit the agricultural sector with nearly
a dozen of the few remaining white commercial farmers being forced off their
land or under threat of eviction before they reap their ripening crop.
The renewed land seizures have also affected Agricultural Sector
Productivity Enhancement Fund (Aspef) beneficiaries, with one of them,
Neville Stidolph, being arrested for failing to comply with an eviction
notice served on him early last year.
Stidolph, the owner of Sangalalo farm, was summoned to Karoi police
station on Wednesday morning where he was arrested for ignoring the eviction
order. Family members said he was accused of planting 50 hectares of wheat
against an eviction order, which demanded that he vacate the property after
harvesting the summer crop.
"Stidolph is a beneficiary of Aspef funds which he was due to repay in
2008," a family member said. "Over and above that, he had got encouragement
to continue farming from the Zanu PF leadership in the area including the
Stidolph is on the list of 14 white farmers in the Hurungwe area
recommended to stay put. The list was shown to him by Policy Implementation
Minister, Webster Shamu on October 2, 2006 and verbally confirmed by local
MP, Reuben Marumahoko, on the strength of the assurances he had proceeded to
plant the wheat. His farm was reduced to 400 hectares by Arex in 2003 where
he is growing 120 hectares tobacco,100 hectare maize and 60 hectares wheat.
Beneficiaries eyeing Sangalalo are Francis Tsikira Muchinyere and
Walter Hwaira - the assistant district administrator for Karoi. Muchinyere
already owns Chimbarukwe farm which he has been farming for the past two
years plus Farm 56 in Vuti East, in Hurungwe.
Affected farmers from the Eastern Lowveld in the Chiredzi area have
accused officials from the Lands Ministry, the army, the Central
Intelligence Organisation and the police of racial discrimination and greed
as they have targeted only white farmers.
The farmers said the current land grab had nothing to do with the need
for land for resettlement but instigated by corrupt and greedy officials
targeting crops and homesteads owned by white farmers.
"The farming community feels government wants every white farmer off
the land despite the fact that he has conformed with the law and reduced the
farm to required sizes," one farmer said.
"Everyone is under threat. The situation is reminiscent of the 2002
farm invasions. Existing laws on confiscation, even in their newly 'refined'
form, are steadily being ignored. Violent, armed seizure is once more the
order of the day. The majority of the farmers facing eviction now have less
than 20 hectares, which they have effectively used, producing citrus, milk
and sugarcane," the farmer said.
"What makes the whole issue suspicious and confusing is that the
invading groups are not bringing any eviction notices but are accompanied by
uniformed police officers. Armed personnel are also being brought in to
guard the seized properties."
The farmers said what was disturbing was that most of the plots that
were taken over in the past were out of production.
"A few plots taken lately or in the past year are producing at best
40% of what they did before the farm grab. The state of these farms is now
very poor with the interconnecting road networks destroyed," another farmer
Other farm disruptions have also been reported in Manicaland's Rusape
and Chipinge districts as well as Matabeleland North's Bubi area.
Farm evictions, which government and the Reserve Bank have said were
over, resurfaced as Industry and International Trade minister Obert Mpofu
vowed to drive out the remaining 35 white farmers in his constituency
alleging that they were funding the opposition to push its regime-change
At a meeting in the Bubi-Umguza district in Matabeleland North last
week, Mpofu accused local civil servants of taking bribes from the white
farmers to delay action against them. He warned that if there was any
resistance to eviction, he would send in "state machinery" to "deal with the
Last month, a group of heavily armed police invaded Portwe Estates in
the Bubi district. The owners resisted, and the matter has gone to court in
Bulawayo. Police officers remain camped on the land.
The developments contradict Reserve Bank governor Gideon Gono's calls
for a halt to farm invasions, saying those who try to seize land now are
"criminals" trying to derail initiatives to get the economy on the recovery
He has urged the authorities to guarantee that Aspef investments are
"The farm disruptions and evictions could impact negatively on output
of crops such as tobacco, soyabeans and horticulture, as some farmers,
including Aspef beneficiaries, are being evicted from the farms in the midst
of their cropping programmes," Gono said way back in January 2006.
"As we step up our efforts to fund the agriculture sector, no one
should be allowed to disturb the production process. The nation stands to
lose, if the infrastructure is disturbed and is not put to productive use,"
ELECTIONS to set up new grassroots structures for Zanu PF in Bulawayo
province last weekend were marred by violence that led to the intervention
of police after two factions clashed.
The elections to choose the party's district coordinating committees
(DCCs) were ultimately held under the watchful eye of the police on Sunday.
Two groups, one believed to be aligned to former war veterans
chairman, Jabulani Sibanda and the other backed by senior party officials in
the region, clashed after allegations of vote rigging.
The weekend clashes will further widen divisions in Zanu PF as senior
politicians align themselves according to camps.
Skirmishes broke out after one group alleged that the current
provincial leadership had bribed several people who were not in party
structures to vote.
The Zanu PF DCCs form an electoral college that votes for the
There has been wrangling in the party around President Mugabe's
succession politics amid claims that the group backed by Sibanda is rooting
for Emmerson Mnangagwa while the other is sympathetic to the Solomon Mujuru
The disturbances during the weekend elections could be a precursor to
what is to come on Sunday when the party holds provincial elections.
Elliot Manyika, the Zanu PF national commissar, a month ago dissolved
the provincial leaderships in Masvingo and Bulawayo and ordered fresh
elections this weekend.
Masvingo will hold its elections tomorrow while Bulawayo elections
will be held on Sunday.
Effort Nkomo, the Bulawayo provincial spokesperson, confirmed that DCC
elections were held last week but said he has not received reports of
"Elections were held in all districts but I have not been briefed
about any disturbances that took place as I was out of town," Nkomo said.
Questioned on whether any candidates had shown interest in contesting
the provincial chairmanship, Nkomo said nominations will come from the floor
on election day.
"Party rules state that there will be nominations from the floor
before elections are conducted and we will follow those rules," he said.
Rival factions before the elections accused each other of bussing in
voters from outside the city to boost numbers.
The current Bulawayo Zanu PF provincial leadership led by Macloud
Chawe is not popular as it was imposed after the Tsholotsho debacle.
RULING Zanu PF heavyweights defeated in the landmark 2000
parliamentary election are making frantic efforts to bounce back into
mainstream politics in the enlarged parliament resulting from next year's
Informed sources said the Zanu PF bigwigs, who were consigned to the
political wilderness after dramatic reversals at the hands of candidates of
the then newly formed Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), are manoeuvring
to make a comeback to bolster the ruling party numbers in the House of
Assembly and influence the choice of President Robert Mugabe's successor.
The Zanu PF luminaries were said to be eyeing primarily rural and
peri-urban constituencies, which are going to be created under Mugabe's new
survival plan of increasing the number of constituencies from the current
120 to 210, and senatorial seats from 60 to 84.
Those mentioned as scrambling to secure constituencies as a way of
weaning themselves from patronage politics include Justice minister Patrick
Chinamasa, Information minister Sikanyiso Ndlovu, Indigenisation and
Empowerment minister Paul Mangwana, Mines minister Amos Midzi, Rural Housing
minister Emmerson Mnangagwa and a host of other non constituency MPs who
were handpicked by Mugabe.
Politburo members also seeking to re-launch their political careers
include Tendai Savanhu, Dumiso Dabengwa, and Joshua Malinga.
The rush was triggered by speculation that Mugabe will leave office
soon after securing the 2008 election and allow parliament to choose his
The Zanu PF leaders were said to be lining up to contest the party's
yet-to-be-determined primary elections in constituencies that have not been
dominated by the opposition in the past two general elections.
The bigwigs have often performed dismally in urban constituencies,
which have been dominated by MDC since 2000.
Sources said Mnangagwa - one of the frontrunners for the succession
who on two occasions failed to wrest Kwekwe Central from the MDC's Blessing
Chebundo - might settle for a rural constituency.
"There has been a lot of talk that Mnangagwa might consider contesting
for Zhombe after he was defeated in Kwekwe for the second consecutive time,"
the source said.
Dabengwa and Ndlovu, who lost Nkulumane and Mpopoma to MDC
vice-president Gibson Sibanda and Milford Gwetu respectively, might also
consider picking different constituencies after losing in the past two
Mangwana who was elbowed out of Ngezi in a primary election by
Information deputy minister Bright Matongo is understood to be eyeing rural
Masvingo in what has been described as a home-coming move.
Midzi and Savanhu would also be hoping to jump onto one of the
peri-urban constituencies that are going to be created when the Harare
boundaries are expanded.
OPPOSITION MDC activists arrested at Harvest House on March 28 for
allegedly spearheading petrol bombings throughout the country, were
yesterday again denied bail and remanded to May 11, as the number of
activists detained under the same charge increases.
Among the detained are Glen View MP Paul Madzore, MDC leader Morgan
Tsvangirai's personal advisor Ian Makone, and journalist Luke Tamborinyoka.
The development comes as police this week arrested about 61 Women of
Zimbabwe Arise (Woza) demonstrators for staging a sit-in demonstration at
Zesa offices in Kuwadzana, a move that has been condemned by human rights
Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) expressed concern over the
arrest and torture of the Woza activists while in police custody.
"We strongly condemn the continued arrest, harassment, persecution
disguised as prosecution, and torture of individuals, groups and
associations exercising their constitutional enshrined rights. The assault
and torture of the defenceless women activists while in police custody is a
clear indicator of the level of criminality and impunity within law
enforcement agents," said ZLHR.
The Woza members from Kuwadzana and Dzivaresekwa were arrested on
Monday morning while staging a sit-in at Kuwadzana Zesa offices where they
wanted to hand a petition to Zesa for bad service delivery coupled with high
In a statement released on Wednesday, Woza alleged that the women were
beaten up while in custody.
"Reports indicate that they were made to lie down on the floor in the
Law and Order division of Harare central police station and beaten by 12
officers," said Woza.
It is alleged that on Monday lawyers representing the women were
denied access to their clients and had to file an urgent application with
the High Court to access to the women.
AFTER a four-hour tiresome journey from Nemanwa, Fanuel Mukarati gets
into Harare without any extra cash. He had used up all the money to
transport his ailing mother who has come for a check-up after undergoing an
operation at Parirenyatwa Hospital two weeks ago.
He had to sell three of the family's beasts to raise the money for his
mother's operation and two weeks later and with most of the pain gone, she
has to be examined by doctors to assess the success of the operation.
Mukarati gets a shock of his life when on arriving at Parirenyatwa he
is told that he has to buy drips and ointments to dress the operation.
"This is just outrageous; the reason why our mother had to be operated
on here was because the conditions at Masvingo general hospital are
terrible. We have used up all our money to facilitate this journey only to
be told that we have to supply our own drugs," Mukarati said.
"Our pockets are empty and the required drip costs anything between
$160 000 to $180 000 and we need an additional $100 000 for ointments. I
guess we will have to borrow again to foot the bill as this review is
necessary for our mother if she is to fully recover."
The Mukaratis are just one of many Zimbabweans who have to face the
predicament of providing drugs for their loved ones seeking medical
attention at the country's collapsing public hospitals.
Parirenyatwa Hospital, like any other public hospital in the country,
faces a critical shortage of drugs and from time to time patients are
required to provide their own drugs in order to facilitate their treatment.
In an interview with the Zimbabwe Independent on Wednesday, the chief
executive of Parirenyatwa group of hospitals, Thomas Zigora, admitted that
the unavailability of drugs has led to patients being asked to provide the
"It is true that there are drugs that are sometimes not in supply and
this is not confined to Parirenyatwa Hospital alone; it happens everywhere,"
Foreign currency shortages have resulted in the Ministry of Health and
Child Welfare not being able to provide essential drugs to hospitals.
Members of the public expressed outrage at the system of asking
patients to provide their own drugs.
"The reason why we go to public hospitals is because we are poor. So
if they require us to provide our own drugs then we do not know what they
expect us to do," said a security guard at a city firm.
Three weeks ago the Independent reported that the country was faced
with a critical shortage of specialist doctors and this has resulted in some
patients having to spend months on the waiting list for an operation while
their bill is ballooning due to the ever-rising inflation.
In a related incident, there have been allegations that some patients
were being detained in hospital for failure to settle their bills.
Zigora however dismissed the allegations.
"It is not true that anyone has been detained so far for failure to
settle a bill," said Zigora. "If that was the case do you think Parirenyatwa
would be owed that much by people?" he added.
However, hospital staffers said a directive to detain patience failing
to settle bills has been in force for some time after hospitals complained
that they were failing to recover their monies from patients once they were
A NEWLY formed youth group has vowed to make each vote in next year's
presidential election count amid deepening discontent among the youths who
accuse President Robert Mugabe of ruining the country and rendering them
The coalition, named Achieve Your Goal Trust (AYGT) and unveiled in
Harare last weekend, has launched a countrywide campaign for youths to
register and vote in next year's election saying government had failed to
address their plight.
AYGT chief coordinator, Pedius Sikisa, said the youth movement, which
is lobbying for voter education and rights will next week roll out a
nationwide campaign to ensure that every youth eligible to vote gets an
identity card and appears on the voters' roll.
The move is to meet legal requirements that one must produce an ID
before they cast their vote and must be duly registered in their
constituency in the case of parliamentary elections.
Registrar-General Tobaiwa Mudede recently said his office was unable
to speed up the processing of national identity cards owing to foreign
currency shortages, thus raising fears most young people entitled to vote
could be prejudiced in next year's joint presidential and parliamentary
Addressing students and civic organisation representatives from the
National Constitutional Assembly (NCA) and Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights
(ZLHR) among others, Sikisa said time had come for the youths to be active
in political and economic decision making process.
"I would like to clearly spell that AYGT is a youth movement taking
into account the plight of youths in Zimbabwe and abroad," said Sikisa.
"The youth are on a number of occasions left out in the
decision-making process and this has led to the current economic decay. I
urge all who are here to fight for our beloved Zimbabwe."
He said AYGT was formed after a realisation that the "only way
forward" for the "downtrodden" majority was for radicalised students and the
youth to unite with the working class to destroy exploiting classes and
A statement by irate university students argued time was ripe to vote
the ruling party out of power through the ballot before dealing with the
economic and political crisis.
"You will indeed agree with us that our country is in deep crisis, and
as we know a crisis is an unstable situation of extreme danger and
difficulty," read the statement.
"It is an open secret that the majority of Zimbabweans are currently
wallowing in abject poverty sadly occasioned upon them by an insensitive
regime whose unrelenting stranglehold on political power has become a source
of concern locally, regionally and internationally.
"Inflation has soared to over 1 700%, and continues to rise daily. It
is the highest in the world and has made the life of ordinary Zimbabweans
unbearable, regardless of their political preferences. The list of
justifiable grievances is long and as such swift action of redress must be
THE opposition MDC has embarked on international lobbying to seek
support for its call for reform of electoral laws ahead of Zimbabwe's
inaugural joint presidential and parliamentary elections scheduled for 2008.
Highly placed sources in the opposition said the MDC campaign on the
continent and beyond seeks to pressure President Robert Mugabe to see the
need for a new constitution, reformed electoral laws and dialogue as a means
of resolving the political and economic crisis in the country.
The opposition is pushing for the inclusion of people in the diaspora
on the voters' roll to be used next year. The MDC was also said to be out to
garner world support on their proposed recovery path when they become the
MDC Morgan Tsvangirai faction spokesman Nelson Chamisa confirmed that
his party was on a continental and international outreach programme to
ensure that next year's elections are free and fair and internationally
"It's an African tradition that when your house is on fire, you ask
your neighbours for help," Chamisa said. "In that spirit, we have embarked
on a continental outreach programme so that our demands can be understood by
African leaders first."
Chamisa said the MDC package to African leaders was entirely on
levelling the political playing field and promotion of a conducive
environment to enable free and fair elections to take place next year.
"In as much as we fully understand that Zimbabweans have to provide
the solution to the current crisis, we feel obliged to lobby the African
leaders to pressure Mugabe to improve the conditions," Chamisa said.
"We are demanding a new constitution, the repeal of Posa and Aippa,
free access to the media, a truly independent electoral body, and an
immediate stop to the political violence in which over 600 opposition
leaders and activists have been arrested, abducted and tortured in police
Chamisa said the MDC is also demanding a non-partisan police force and
traditional leaders plus that people in the diaspora be allowed to vote.
"Our demands are just what is provided for in the Sadc guidelines," he
Over the past fortnight the MDC has sent delegations throughout the
Sadc region in their renewed campaign. Another delegation led by
secretary-general Tendai Biti is understood to be in Australia. However,
Chamisa said Biti was in Australia on a private visit.
In the past such campaigns have often been criticised by Mugabe
calling the MDC British "puppets".
RESERVE Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) governor Gideon Gono made a sectoral
devaluation of the Zimbabwean dollar to a new indicative rate of US$1:$15
000 as government battles to raise funds to import maize and other essential
Sectoral devaluation measures announced yesterday translate to a 98,3%
softening of the local currency against major currencies, according to the
International Monetary Fund methods.
Gono yesterday also reviewed accommodation rates to 600% and 700% for
secured and unsecured borrowing respectively, up from 500% and 600% which he
quietly effected in December last year.
The central bank upped the gold support price by 2 178%, raising it
from $16 000 to $350 000 per gramme.
The bank however revised downwards their foreign currency account
(FCA) retention levels to 60% from 67,5%.
Economists said while the sectoral devaluation will encourage
exporters to liquidate their foreign currency, it will not improve inflows
until the basic economic fundamentals are corrected.
The devaluation done under the guise of Drought Mitigation and
Economic Stabilisation Bonds would apply to miners, farmers, tour operators,
non governmental organisations, embassies, Zimbabweans in the diaspora,
individuals, transporters and any other holders or generators of foreign
The funds raised under the scheme will be used to import maize and pay
for other essentials like power, fuel and medicine.
Under the facility, holders of foreign exchange would approach the
Reserve Bank, authorised dealers or registered money transfer agents to
This means the approved dealer will buy US$1 at the interbank rate of
$250 and then award a drought mitigation accelerator factor of 60 on each
transaction. The seller of foreign exchange would be paid out of the drought
fund an amount equivalent to 60 times the value after the conversion at the
prevailing interbank rate. The final payout for US$1 would be $1 5 000.
Analysts however said the new development was likely to promote price
distortions on the market, and push parallel market rates upwards.
Announcing the interim monetary policy statement for the first
quarter, Gono denied that the latest move was a devaluation but a method to
"It is also imperative to note that the exchange rate framework
remains what it is with the rate at $250 to the US dollar for all
transactions that are outside the Drought Mitigation and Economic
Stabilisation Bonds," said Gono.
"Exporters and other generators of foreign exchange are, therefore,
encouraged to take full advantage of this special window, whose reviews will
be on an on-going basis."
TOBACCO farmers said they will hold on to their crop until government
announces a new tobacco price on Monday.
The 2007 tobacco selling season opened this week on Tuesday, but few
bails of tobacco have been delivered to the country's three auction floors,
Tobacco Sales Floor, Zimbabwe Industry Tobacco Auction Centre, and Burley
Marketing Zimbabwe, since Tuesday - unlike previous years as farmers said
they were waiting for the new price to be announced by government on Monday.
Government on Tuesday said it needed seven more days to come up with
new tobacco prices as the annual selling season for the crop opened on a low
note. They however did hint at the price range for the new price.
Prices during the first three days of trade have averaged US$2,52. The
highest selling price was US$2,95 while the lowest was US$0,20.
Farmers who spoke to businessdigest expressed concern over the
exchange rate which is fixed at $250 to the greenback saying it was very low
and will not be able to pay for transport for them to return to their homes.
A bail of tobacco sold at US$2,50 at the interbank rate would cost $62
500, less than 100ml of toothpaste. Using a parallel market rate of $23 000
the same bail would cost $5,7 million.
Zimbabwe Tobacco Growers Association president, Julius Ngorima, said
deliveries had been slow as farmers are waiting for the new price.
"Farmers are selling with last year's prices which is very low. Unlike
over the past years there would have been over 500 bails of tobacco during
the first week of trade," Ngorima said.
A total of 297 bails were delivered at the country's three auction
floors by mid-day yesterday.
When auction floors opened last year, the US dollar was trading at $99
before moving to $101 after the third week of trade.
Then government was using the volume-based exchange rate when movement
of the exchange rate was determined by the amount of foreign currency which
the central bank received.
Zimbabwe Tobacco Association vice president Andrew Ferreira said
despite farmers selling at last year's price they have been assured their
money would be topped-up with the difference when government settles on a
"The central bank governor and the Minister of Agriculture said they
would announce a new package in due course," Ferreira said.
"Farmers have started delivering. On a positive note, the government
said the foreign currency retention for farmers had not been scrapped," he
added. Tobacco farmers on Tuesday met RBZ governor Gideon Gono and
Agriculture minister Rugare Gumbo in a bid to resolve an impending crisis
with many tobacco growers withholding their crop pressing for better prices.
There was no indication that the exchange rate would be adjusted from
the current US$1 to $250, which has been a sticking point in the ongoing
Gumbo on Monday failed to get government approval for the new prices,
when farmers had gathered at a Harare hotel waiting for him to clear up the
dispute over pricing and other incentives. The minister staged a no-show,
raising fears that the tobacco selling season might be delayed.
The opening of the floors on Tuesday which traditionally starts soon
after 8am was delayed by seven hours to start at around three o'clock after
acting Minister of Finance Patrick Chinamasa and Gono told farmers that
government will announce a viable support pricing structure in the next
ONLY five foreign companies are participating at this year's Zimbabwe
International Trade Fair (ZITF) currently underway in Bulawayo compared to
90 exhibitors last year.
The country's premier trade showcase, which ends tomorrow kicked off
on Tuesday on a low note with some companies complaining about the high cost
of exhibition stands. A visit by businessdigest to the exhibition centre
revealed that only companies from Pakistan, Sudan, Kenya, Malawi and
Mozambique are at the ZITF. They were charged US$3 000 for exhibition
stands. An official from a Sudanese company, Sudan Corner, a tractor and car
manufacturing company said they were "very disappointed by the exorbitant
"It's very disappointing that we are being charged such exorbitant
prices by these guys. We know things are tough in this country but we should
not overprice products like this. Imagine we have been charged US$3 000 for
this small stand," the official said.
At the Malawian stand the only visible company was Air Malawi while in
the Pakistan pavilion there were a few individuals exhibiting traditional
Not a single company from the country's largest trading partner, South
Africa and Europe is at the trade fair.
ZITF chairman, Nhlanhla Masuku claimed this year South African
companies were represented by agents to avoid the high costs of travelling
and accommodation in Zimbabwe.
"The reason why South African companies are not exhibiting is that
they have decided to be represented by their local agent to save travel and
"As for the European companies you know the political tension between
us and them," said Masuku.
Economic analysts described this year's ZITF as the worst exhibition
in its 48 years of existence.
There are only 690 domestic exhibitors participating compared to 713
last year. This year's theme is "Zimbabwe brands, African brands, Global
brands". Last year's theme was "Springboard for economic revival."
A RE-REGISTRATION exercise underway at the Zimbabwe Investment
Authority (ZIA) following the merger of the Export Processing Zones (EPZ)
and the Zimbabwe Investment Centre (ZIC) will expose how the country's
unfriendly investment climate has triggered the flight of foreign investors
in the key sectors.
ZIA said companies licenced under the previous Act were required to
re-apply under the new act which merged the two organisations. The result of
the re-registration will be the best indicator of the level of foreign
investment in the country.
It will also give an impression of the level of capital flight that
Zimbabwe has been experiencing over the past eight year. Top officials at
the authority said at least 60 EPZ-licensed projects had shut down since
2005 due to acute viability problems caused by the current exchange rate
regime and hostile political policies.
There were 183 EPZ companies in 2004 exporting 80% of their products
contributed significantly to the country's foreign currency requirements.
The EPZ projects were projected to generate US$42,3 million and employed 4
600 people. But ZIA sources said while management at the ZIC and EPZ were
concerned by massive closures of EPZ companies and other foreign-owned
companies, they had kept the figures of closures under lock, giving
government the false impression that most companies were still in operation.
"Government was given a false impression that EPZs totaled 183 in 2004
but most of the companies had shut down through the seizure of their
greenhouses and farms or due to viability problem," a senior executive said.
The seizures which also affected projects like Charleswood Estates and
Kondozi Farm were in contravention of the EPZ Act that guaranteed immunity
from acquisition once a project has been licensed.
Section 35 of the Act says: "No property or interest or right therein
of a licensed investor to whom an investment licence has been issued in
terms of this Act shall be compulsorily acquired."
Before the wave of forced takeovers at least 70% of projects approved
under the EPZ were foreign-controlled.
Some of the projects were established under the Bilateral Investment
Promotion and Protection Agreement (BIPPA). At least 50% of greenhouses
where new farmers have been resettled have been destroyed and it would take
more than five years to resuscitate them.
GOVERNMENT this week rejected appeals by mobile network operators to
allow them to charge for outgoing international calls in foreign currency.
The Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe
(Potraz), a government authority which regulates the telecommunications
sector, is understood to have rejected the proposal at a meeting it held
with network companies this week.
"Potraz is not forthcoming with regard to our proposals that we charge
in foreign currency," an executive with one of the telecoms companies told
The three week-long stalemate between government and the telecoms
industry has already caused serious interruptions in international calls.
Operators argued that while Potraz was steadfast in its demands, other
countries in the region had allowed telecoms companies to charge economical
Telecoms firms in Malawi were charging US$1,40 for international calls
and US60 cents for regional calls. The local tariffs range between US3 cents
and US30 cents in Zimbabwe.
"What will happen is that after a certain period our infrastructure
will crumble but our counterparts will continue providing efficient services
because they are generating enough to service their equipment," said a
manager with one of the mobile companies.
Telecoms analysts said government was aware that its argument was weak
but it was under pressure to keep a close eye on pricing systems in most
sectors in a desperate bid to win the hearts of the electorate in the 2008
Potraz director Cuthbert Chidoori was said to be attending a series of
meetings this week.
Legal experts said government was unlikely to grant the four telecoms
companies the right to charge in foreign currency because the service was
being offered in Zimbabwe.
In a statement Econet Wireless confirmed the industry was holding
discussions with Potraz but indicated no hea way had been reached. "At
present it is not opportune to go into detailed discussion on the issue
beyond the statement we issued," Econet said.
"This is due to the ongoing discussions to find a mutually acceptable
solution to the challenges being faced," the statement added.
It is estimated that between 2000 and 2002 mobile operators lost US$75
million as a result of the low termination rates, which have subdue
potential foreign investment in the sector. Across the continent mobile
business grew by 1 000% between 2000 and 2005.
The growth was phenomenal in Nigeria and Egypt whose mobile phone
industries grew by 175% and 130% respectively between 1998 and 2004. In
Uganda and Morocco the growth ranged between 36%, 4% and 23, 4%
THE motor industry is tottering on the brink of collapse with
information this week that most companies are facing closure following
government's new measures forcing them to pay duty for car imports in
Most car sales companies told businessdigest that apart from not
having the foreign currency for the duty, the new policy has forced them to
hike vehicle prices beyond the reach of their target market. Prices of
vehicles have gone up by more than 300% since government started demanding
duty in foreign currency for vehicles. The dealers said they had not
recorded any significant sales since the announcement of the new measures.
As vehicles continue to pile up at borders the sector this week sent
an SOS to government requesting it to reconsider the policy.
In a letter to the Ministry of Finance the Motor Traders Association
(MTA), which represents car dealers, said most of its members were going to
close shop unless something is done immediately.
They argued that the move was too abrupt as there was no prior warning
and consultation with the stakeholders. The association said they wanted a
meeting with officials from the Ministry of Finance and Zimbabwe Revenue
Authority (Zimra) to understand the logic behind the new policy.
That meeting will be held today at the association's offices.
Officials from Zimra, the Finance ministry and members of the association
will attend the meeting. Acting MTA president Misheck Nyamupingidza
confirmed the meeting.
"We are holding a meeting today at our offices with government
officials and representatives from the Zimra," Nyamupingidza said. "We want
to understand the logic behind this move.
THE Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) yesterday reviewed the gold support
price by 2 178% from $16 000 to $350 000 per gramme, but reduced producers'
foreign currency retention levels from 67,5% to 60%.
RBZ governor Gideon Gono announced the review in his interim monetary
first quarter presentation yesterday in Bulawayo, where he also announced
the harmonisation of FCA retention levels for all exporters in the country.
Gold miners had however demanded that due to escalating costs of
production, the viable price would be $450 000 per gramme. The producers
said while the new price will help them retain viability, they were still
owed payments for deliveries since October last year.
"We are owed money for our gold deliveries to the central bank. Yes,
the new support price is good but that will not ensure that we start
operating our processing mills because we are still owed our foreign
currency," said an executive with a local gold mine.
Most gold mines last week suspended operations due to lack of funds to
import cyanide, a key chemical required for gold processing. Metallon
Zimbabwe closed milling plants at its five gold mines.
Gono also reduced the foreign currency retention rate for platinum
miners from 100% to 60%.
Exporters will also be allowed to retain just 60% of their foreign
currency earnings and sell the 40% to the central bank at an accelerator
rate of $15 000.
Gono also announced the Drought Mitigation and Economic Stabilisation
Fund accelerator, which allows exporters to multiply their local currency
earnings, after conversion at the official exchange rate, by an accelerator
of 60 to stimulate the export sector.
Gold producers will be paid at the official rate plus the accelerator
for their gold deliveries to RBZ's gold receiving arm, Fidelity Printers.
Gono said gold producers owed by the central bank to convert the value
of the gold they delivered to the central bank at the official exchange
rate, and then multiply those earnings by the accelerator.
Since September last year the RBZ had failed to pay gold miners and
most of them had complained that they were failing to secure credit
purchases of spares because foreign suppliers were now demanding cash
Gold deliveries for the first quarter totaled 2,4 down from 2,7 tonnes
delivered to Fidelity Printers at the same tome last year, the RBZ said.
This represented a decline of about 19%.
Gono fired a broadside against the rampant smuggling of minerals that
he said had led to subdued growth of the mining sector.
"The combined effects of viability constraints and rampant smuggling
of the precious minerals have put an unfavourable dent on what traditionally
stood as the country's reserve asset of last resort," Gono said.
IT'S been two weeks since government blocked the Central Statistical
Office (CSO) from releasing the latest inflation figures and there is little
hope that the numbers will be released anytime soon.
Although CSO acting director, Moffat Nyoni, blames a computer virus
for the delay, officials in his office say they are still awaiting
permission from the Minister of Finance to release the figure, understood to
be around 2 200%.
Analysts say speculators have already started running riot with
producers and retailers increasing prices - a move that will further
intensify the inflationary pressures. They say blocking the figures will not
help bring down inflation but instead will force it to gallop because
economic players will not have a guiding figure to effect new prices. This,
they say, will lead to rampant speculative pricing based on an assumed
inflation figure - well above the official one.
The effect of the speculative tendency is already being felt on the
foreign currency front where the dollar has started losing marginal gains
recorded three weeks ago against major currencies.
The secrecy on the inflation figures and government's refusal to
devalue the dollar will only lead to more suffering for the common man and
worsen the economic crisis, analysts say.
Producers will not stop increasing their prices because they don't
have inflation figures and the parallel market will continue to flourish on
the back of an unrealistic exchange rate which officials have maintained at
$250 since last July. The gap between the official rate and the black market
rate has continued to widen.
Meanwhile, the ordinary consumer continues to suffer because producers
are pegging their prices at parallel market rates. Prices of fuels, spare
parts and other imports show clearly that the pricing models are based on
the parallel market rates.
Since inflation breached the 500% mark in November 2005, retailers and
manufacturers have been responding to each announcement of inflation figures
by increasing the prices of goods and services. As the dollar continues to
lose value against major currencies and inflation continuing to rise
Zimbabwe's economy and quality of life have been in slow, uninterrupted
decline. The irony is that while companies are happy to base their salary
increments on the known inflation figures to cut their costs, they are more
than willing to use speculative figures to increase their prices.
Zimbabwe Allied Banking Group (ZABG) group economist, David
Mupamhadzi, said the holding back of inflation figures by the CSO was no
guarantee that prices would not increase.
"Whether inflation figures are made available or not people will take
positions, regardless of the fact that it is correct or not," Mupamhadzi
said. He said the welfare of workers had been affected by the rate at which
prices were increasing.
"Fundamentally, the country is in a Catch-22 situation where the
welfare of workers has been affected by continuous increases of prices,"
said Mupamhadzi. "Inflation-linked salaries require the employer and
employee to take a position that ensures viability of both parties. If
people become shortsighted in this regard, a lot of companies will close
He said indications were that parallel market rates would continue to
rise unless foreign currency inflows improved and major sectors of the
economy started performing.
Economic research and consultancy firm, Techfin Research, has forecast
Zimbabwe's embattled domestic currency's fair value at $16 588,73 to the US
dollar by December. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) expects inflation
to average 5 000% by December while independent economists forecast it to
reach 6 000% by year-end.
Analysts have said that the local currency will crash further during
the course of the year, driven mainly by looming food shortages. Bank
economists said the Zimbabwe dollar was still battling to find a bottom on
the parallel market due to escalating demand from both institutional buyers
and individuals trying to escape inflation-induced losses on local currency
Parallel market dealers said the currency had been moving daily during
the week in line with mounting demand.
Independent economist John Robertson said the delay in releasing
inflation figures would only help government to avoid criticism in the
"Their (government) workers would not have a basis to calculate salary
increases. In the long-term they will use estimates, which retailers are
already doing as evidenced by the recent price increases," Robertson said.
Robertson said people would end up using Consumer Council of Zimbabwe
(CCZ) figures if CSO continues to hold on to the figures.
"The rate at which the dollar is falling on the parallel market could
be used as a basis for salaries and price increases," said Robertson.
According to the CCZ basket for February, a low income urban family
needed $344 250 a month to survive. Inflation then was 1 729,9%.
"The impact is disastrous on smaller companies with less cushion and
no external operations," said Robertson, adding: "Unless something is done
soon, most of these companies will close shop."
He said the rate at which the dollar is losing value would continue
pushing the inflation rate up.
"In a country where about half the population is reportedly threatened
with starvation, the increase in inflation would be felt particularly hard
as the dollar continues to slide," Robertson said.
The weakening of the local currency on the official market has sparked
fears that inflation will once again spiral out of control this year.
Economists have predicted it will take 23 years for Zimbabwe's
battered economy to recover to pre-1996 levels without external assistance.
But reversing the legacy of destruction wrought by Zanu PF will need a
complete restructuring of the state with better forms of governance. It
will, however, take 14 years, if Zimbabwe worked to restore international
confidence that would attract external assistance.
Speaking on the subject, The Zimbabwean Economy in 10 Years of
Regression at the inaugural meeting of the Zimbabwe Lecture Series in
January, economist Dr Peter Robinson said to get sustained growth, Zimbabwe
needed proper governance buttressed by the rule of law, a people-driven
constitution and a just and lawful resolution of the land issue.
By Vincent kahiya
WAS at the Zimbabwe International Trade Fair this week where
organisers tried to play the numbers game in order to buttress the lie that
there were more exhibitors at the fair and therefore the exhibition was
There were more stands taken compared to last year but that does not
signify growth at all. Government departments and parastatals took up lots
of space at the fair where they duplicated functions when it would have been
prudent to exhibit together. For example, tertiary institutions such as the
Midlands State University, Bindura University and Masvingo State University
had separate stands in Hall 4 while their parent Higher Education ministry
was exhibiting in a pavilion elsewhere at the fair.
Zesa Enterprises - the holding state power company - was exhibiting
separately while its subsidiaries, Zesa Enterprises, Rural Electrification
Agency, Zimbabwe Power Company, Powertel and the Zimbabwe Electricity
Transmission and Distribution Company, each had a separate stand. The
organisers happily recorded these as six exhibitors.
Ministries could have enhanced their reach by exhibiting together with
parastatals they control. There was also little co-ordination of products
and services offered by government departments. Noczim had a jatropha
display, so did the Higher Education ministry and at least three other
All in all, the fair presented a true picture of our economy today. We
have become a consumerist economy and not producers. Transport parastatal
Zupco saw it prudent to display an old refurbished bus - newly painted in
its livery - because there is nothing new to exhibit. CMED also brought a
restored old yellow tractor to the fair. What ever happened to the shiny red
combine harvesters? Patching up the economy?
There remained many gaps in the exhibition halls and government
ministries did a lot to fill in spaces. They set up stands which ranged from
the mundane to outright fancy and expensive. The common feature in most of
the stands however was the paucity of information that would actually help
Parliament of Zimbabwe was exhibiting under the theme: "Portfolio
Committees: Pillars for effective Parliamentary oversight". How appropriate
for a parliament which recently severed ties with an NGO which helped to
support the work of the committees because they had become too critical of
government ministries? Information minister Sikhanyiso Ndlovu is on record
voicing the executive's concerns over the conduct of the committees.
The Interactive Affairs ministry had a bland stand where a young lady
sat watching visitors file past. There was little interaction there. She was
not of much help when I asked her what her ministry does.
"It interacts with the public and collects information that is taken
to the ministries so that the situation in the country improves," she
mumbled through a reply, apparently rehearsed from some official document.
Those who fashioned her lines apparently overlooked the role the ministry is
supposed to play in promoting investment in the country; which can be the
only justification for exhibiting.
Local authorities were also well-represented at the fair. There was
all the evidence of municipalities trying to attract business to their towns
while there were others evidently not applying their minds to the motive of
I was impressed by the professionalism displayed by Chinhoyi, Karoi
and Kadoma town council officials manning their stands. They all produced
business plans for their towns to the visitor. They had maps showing planned
developments. They took visitors' details and gave out literature and
business cards. Kadoma's stand was quite impressive as it also exhibited
products manufactured by industry there. There were cheeses from Dairibord,
textile and paper products from the local mills.
Chitungwiza municipality's stand in the strategically located Hall 4
was however disappointing. For a local authority that has over the years
been battling to attract investment, this was an opportunity to tell
investors what was on offer. Since the construction of the Chitungwiza Town
Centre in the late 1980s there has not been any serious investment in the
town. Its history of inadequate sewer facilities and dangerously potholed
roads is a matter of public record.
Anyone passing by the stand would have been forgiven for thinking that
the stand belonged to a small clothing co-operative from a rural service
centre. The stand exhibited children's dresses. When I visited the stand on
Wednesday morning to enquire about business opportunities, a lady slouched
behind a desk hastened my departure by admitting that the "the people are
not yet in". They were still not in at nine.
She did not bother to take my details for follow-ups neither was she
interested in the nature of my business. This was typical of the local
authority. The dresses were bad enough; there was no need to bring the town's
slothful inefficiency to the trade fair. There is enough evidence of that
being dumped into Manyame River already.
WE were intrigued to know what the visit of Zambian vice-president
Rupiah Banda was all about. There was a great deal of waffle about
solidarity and the fact that the two countries once shared the same name.
Banda even invited disbelief by describing President Mugabe as "one of the
most outstanding leaders in the world".
If you want to be taken seriously that is not the route to go!
But listening to the incontinent ramblings of this visiting VP, one
was struck by the missing word: "Titanic".
Wasn't that how President Levy Mwanawasa described Zimbabwe only a few
weeks ago: a sinking ship?
The Herald reminded us of statements by Kenneth Kaunda, Fredrick
Chiluba and Michael Sata in defence of Mugabe. But the paper omitted to tell
its readers what the current president had said. And when asked about his
remarks, Mwanawasa had confirmed his view, asking why a supposedly popular
government needed to put in place the apparatus of repression.
"I hear that President Mugabe is popular in his country," he told a
group of Zambians when visiting Namibia last month. "But why should his
government be ruling its people in such a fashion? Why should he be denying
his people freedom of speech?"
"We cannot sit back and watch when things are going wrong there," he
But then his No 2 arrives and fawns over Mugabe like a teenage
What is going on here? The answer is not in fact too difficult to
fathom. Banda is a relic of the Kaunda era; one of those nationalists who
live in the past, rather like Zimbabwe's leadership. He even referred to
white Zimbabwean farmers as "foreigners" although his government is only too
pleased to have them producing tobacco for their adopted home.
Banda was here to propitiate a prickly leader whose cooperation Sadc
desperately needs. Whatever you may read in the state media about
solidarity, the fact is Sadc and others are working to remove what is seen
as an obstacle to regional growth. It is widely felt that he is more likely
to listen to contemporaries rather than new-era politicians like Jakaya
Kikwete, Armando Guebuza, and Hifikepunye Pohamba.
So Banda's visit was, if you like, a case of not raising the Titanic;
of keeping the old man sweet. Despite the embarrassment of speaking with a
forked tongue, Zambia is demonstrating that it understands the immediate
needs of regional diplomacy. Let's see who opens their mouth next!
Anglicans of Zimbabwe: hang your heads in shame.
The disgraceful performance of the Anglican Church of the Province of
Central Africa in dishonestly pretending that the country's problems stem
from sanctions and not Mugabe's misrule will go down as one of the greatest
betrayals of the struggle for democracy.
The Anglican bishops' letter "exposes the patently political nature of
the Zimbabwe Catholic Bishops' Conference", Caesar Zvayi wrote approvingly
in the Herald.
We rather thought it exposed the patently political agenda of Nolbert
Kunonga and those other collaborators!
The bishops offered a generic denunciation of violence but provided
ample room for Zvayi to attribute this to the MDC.
Their pastoral letter was an exercise in cowardice which artfully
dodged issues of governance and political brutality that only a willfully
blind episcopate could ignore.
Sanctions were the direct product of political violence and electoral
manipulation in 2002. Can Kunonga and his partisan gang seriously suggest
the situation has changed with abductions and killings over the past few
weeks? And why were none of these human rights violations spelt out? Instead
we had one impressionable prelate, Nicholas Baines, Bishop of Croydon,
saying how peaceful the country appeared. He could not see any evidence of
what was reported on TV in Britain, he gullibly ventured.
"We want to see what we can learn from you," he said.
Does that include assaults in detention, contempt for court orders,
and hate speech in the government media? Which bits does he think the
British could benefit from?
How can we expect any professionalism from our police force when
ministers make partisan remarks at passing out parades?
Defence minister Sydney Sekeramayi was last week reported as saying
security forces would not fold their arms while "elements of negation" erode
the gains of Independence.
"Enemies of the state," he said, were "through their proxies in the
MDC perpetrating violence to destabilise the nation in order to gain
political mileage in the eyes of their foreign sponsors".
He proceeded to rave on about "treason and treachery" and warned that
those behind "terrorist attacks" will be ensnared by "their own wicked
To date, despite "ensnaring" a number of MDC officials, nobody has
been convicted of any of the offences Sekeramayi alludes to.
It is welcome news that the security forces will not fold their arms
and stand by while those responsible for terrorist attacks continue their
vicious campaign. We hope this includes those responsible for the abductions
and assaults in recent weeks and the attack on Nelson Chamisa at Harare
Can Sekeramayi assure us that the security forces are not folding
their arms in all these cases? Because the public may be forgiven for
What form of "treachery" is it when the state betrays its own citizens
by abducting and beating them because they choose to support a party other
than Zanu PF?
And what about those responsible for the bombings at the Daily News in
2000 and 2001? What did the security forces do then? Unfold their arms?
What is so sinister about all this is that while most people reading
Sekeramayi's remarks will simply see them as the usual threats from a failed
party, many young recruits listening will be encouraged to engage in
unprofessional policing which is one of the main stumbling blocks in
President Thabo Mbeki's current diplomacy.
We noted with interest Obert Mpofu's remark that news of some white
farmers remaining in Matabeleland could be "ruinous to the government's
So the violent and lawless land seizures were okay; the collapse in
agricultural production that followed was okay; the damage to investment
prospects by abrogation of the rule of law was okay; but evidence that there
is a handful of white farmers left actually producing something is "ruinous
to the government's image"?
Alice-In-Wonderland or what?
Mpofu, by the way, thinks this year's Zimbabwe International Trade
Fair will be bigger and better than last year's. Let's see.
As for all those who tell us sanctions are being bust, why then the
absolute obsession with getting them lifted? If sanctions are indeed
crumbling, why do ministers talk of nothing else?
As for the Sadc economic package, is that a reality? Who, apart from
the South Africans, is in a position to offer a package? The last time the
South Africans offered a package, courtesy of Tito Mboweni, Zimbabwe
rejected the terms. When Mugabe won't allow his Reserve Bank governor to put
together a package of measures for economic recovery why should he let
There was a very clumsy piece in the Herald this week by somebody
calling himself John Mhaka. He sought to demolish a recent Mail & Guardian
story regarding the Green Bombers. The story was based on the testimony of a
deserter, John Gweru.
A simple check with Zimbabwe's Ministry of Youth would have revealed
that there was no John Gweru among the graduates of the National Youth
Service, Mhaka triumphantly points out.
He needs to pay more attention to detail. The M&G story states in its
second paragraph that John Gweru is not his real name. Mhaka wasted his time
at the Ministry of Youth. He also misspelt the name of the author of the
story, John Grobler, perhaps because he was too busy calling him "a known
racist and apartheid media operator". Trevor Ncube, who publishes the M&G
was called a "sell-out" and "media thug".
Anybody wondering who John Mhaka is was given a clue by the following:
"A professional organisation like the CIO, renowned for its efficiency, and
often touted by the same media haters as the best on the continent."
The continent's finest should have a word with Mhaka. The more
childish insults he hurls, the less seriously he is likely to be taken,
specially when he obviously hasn't got a clue who Grobler is.
This thoroughly amateur hatchet job does nothing to refute the M&G
story and only serves to cast doubt on the intelligence of some apologists
for the intelligence service.
But we were interested to hear the "fabricated reports" about
President Mugabe spending £250 000 on the Malaysian Grand Prix. We hadn't
picked those up. Can he drive?
Last week we came across bureaucratic bungling at its finest.
We received an invitation to a luncheon with the Minister of Science
and Technology Development on April 20 at 12.15.
The invitation said the Ministry of Science and Technology had "put in
place a year-long programme of events to celebrate scientific achievements,
capabilities and talents".
Two things were amiss in the invitation. We got it at 2.30pm on the
day of the luncheon, and it was dated April 26, which was yesterday.
Efforts to seek clarification on the dates were fruitless as the
telephone went unanswered. We wonder who attended but there was definitely
no sign of talents about dates.
Muckraker's only regret is that as a result of this bungling we missed
out on a free lunch when such invitations are hard to get these days.
Foreign correspondents were equally appalled. An apology from the permanent
secretary would be perfectly in order here.
Government this week received a lot of praise from Brigadier-General
(retired) David Chiweza for demanding that duty on imported luxuries be paid
in foreign currency. He described the move as a "watershed decision and a
strategic masterpiece that is set to reposition the economy into a complete
"In the long-term," gushed Chiweza, "this has the effect of promoting
productive consumption while discouraging wasteful consumption. This in turn
will stimulate domestic demand and investment."
Try as we might we could not find the source of this starry-eyed
optimism. Zimbabwe has no motor industry worth the name. It is therefore
difficult to "stimulate" local demand for products that don't exist.
The result will be higher prices as people scramble for the few
vehicles assembled at Willowvale Mazda Motor Industries, pushing them
further beyond the reach of those Chiweza thinks will be the beneficiaries
of this shortsighted government decision.
Perhaps Zimbabwe is among the last primitive nations in the world
where a family vehicle is still regarded as a luxury. The super rich who are
closely linked to government and Zanu PF will not be deterred by this
measure and no doubt we will continue to see more fancy cars on the roads.
We wonder what planet Chiweza has just returned from to believe that such a
measure can fill government coffers with foreign currency. Instead, hundreds
of people are now out of business.
In the story about the kidnapping of Zimbabwean women by a South
African man on Monday, the Herald says the man demanded a ransom of R300
which it then converts to $810 000. Which exchange rate is that?
Are they now allowed to venture into the illegal parallel market we
By Eric Bloch
TEN days ago Zimbabwe "celebrated" its 27th year of Independence
although with the predominance of misery, despondency and poverty that
abounds, the word "celebrate" seems profoundly inaccurate for the
perceptions of most Zimbabweans on that day. Inevitably, many reflected on
the past 27 years, pondering how that yearned-for Independence had impacted
That reflection may well have included recollection of the speech made
by the Prime Minister-Elect Robert Gabriel Mugabe on Independence Eve, April
17, 1980, when he enthused: "Long Live Our Freedom! ...Only a few hours from
now, Zimbabwe will have become a free, independent and sovereign state, free
to choose its own flight path and chart its own course to its chosen
These words had a resonance of life, expectation, recognition of the
precepts of equality and democracy, and appreciation that all should be
masters of their own destiny. That resonance was a pronounced, gripping,
heartening and stimulatory as those said, in very similar vein, more than
120 years previously, by Abraham Lincoln, in the renowned Gettysburg Address
of November 19, 1863, when he pronounced (of the United States) "that this
nation, under God, shall have a birth of freedom; and that government of the
people, by the people, and for the people, shall not perish from the earth".
However, those hopes and expectations, fuelled by Zimbabwe's leader on
Independence eve, did not materialise. Admittedly, a government "of the
people" came into being, and has existed ever since, but there is very
little (if any) credibility to any contention that such government is "by
the people", and no credibility to one that it is "for the people".
Consequently, in contrast to the materialisation of the long craved for
freedom, all that came about was a temporary façade of that freedom,
followed by endless subjugation to a government which has such deep-seated
intents of absolute authority and control that it has reduced the economy to
near total collapse. Thereby they have imprisoned the populace, instead of
freeing it, in a prison of intensive poverty and pronounced hardships. So
much for the alleged freedom!
As the years have elapsed, government has continuously intensified its
domineering grip over anything and everything in Zimbabwe, and almost all
those controls impacting, directly or indirectly, upon the economy. As, in
consequence, the economy continuously declined, government's reaction has
consistently been, on the one hand, to blame others for the causes of the
decline and, on the other hand, to intensify its controls, or to introduce
yet further ones.
And that has been occurring endlessly. The first, and very prime
example, is the governmental stance on land. Indisputably necessary, a
foremost consideration in the pre-Independence negotiations at the 1979
Lancaster House conference was land reform, founded upon intent for land
redistribution, attained on a "willing buyer, willing seller" basis, thereby
remedying the immoral, and tantamount to criminal, previous exclusion of the
indigenous population from land ownership. But, after a few years of
lip-service to the Lancaster House Agreement (and that lip-service very
substantially funded by Britain), government bulldozed through the
legislature the Land Acquisition Act. Admittedly, for almost 10 years
thereafter, the Act gathered dust on ministerial shelves. However, as other
governmental actions progressively emaciated the economy, it turned to the
implementation of the legislation as a way of allegedly economically
empowering the populace after government's economic mis-management has so
substantially disempowered that populace.
In doing so, government was not only determinedly resolved to pursue
land acquisition without any regard for property rights, with contempt for
justice and equity, but moreover to do so in a manner as would effectively
give it absolute and total control of the land, as distinct from the alleged
empowerment of the people. Thus, it decreed that all rural lands were state
lands, which none could own. Instead, it has commenced issuing spurious,
specious leases. In theory, the leases are of 99-year duration, but in
reality the "fine print" gives government boundless opportunities to
terminate the leases peremptorily, with a maximum of three months notice of
termination. The leases are non-negotiable, non-transferable, and therefore
of no meaningful collateral value. The produce grown on the lands is, in
respect of many crops, such as maize, wheat and other grains, subject to
governmental price determinations, instead of being market driven. So
government has near total control, and is wholly determined to retain that
Theoretically, decentralisation is a policy of government, with
provincial administrations under the control of provincial governors and
resident ministers (who are part of government!), local authorities, rural
councils, and the like. But, in practice, there is ever-greater
disempowerment of those entities, with intensifying concentration of control
in the hands of government. Thus, the Minister of Local Government not only
dissolved the Harare City Council and replaced it with a
government-appointed commission, but subsequently, when the courts ruled the
continuance of the commission to be unlawful, he disregarded the ruling, and
the commission continues, thereby entrenching control in his hands.
That has not sufficed to satisfy government's megalomaniac cravings
for control. The Zimbabwe National Water Authority (Zinwa) is progressively
expropriating water distribution facilities and services from the local
authorities, and now the Ministry of Health and Child Welfare intends to
usurp the control of operation of municipal clinics (despite the fact that
its hospitals are already incapable of providing adequate healthcare
services). In like manner, the Minister of Education, Sport and Culture
continuously strives to control private, independent schools, to an
ever-greater degree, inclusive of unrealistic constraints upon fees. The
result is not to benefit the schoolchildren and the parents, but to collapse
the schools, or lower their performance, or induce a continuing exodus from
Zimbabwe of the skilled, anxious to assure their children's future. And all
these have inevitable economic repercussions, be they higher taxes,
inflation, lowering service delivery, brain-drain, or other adverse
Price controls have been primary triggers of commodity scarcities, a
virile black market, intensifying inflation, and deterrents to investment
(whilst concurrently enabling many of the politically well-connected to
enrich themselves by exploitation of the black market opportunities,
enhanced by their abilities to access many products in short supply). With
its fixation for controls, government contemptuously dismisses all proven
successes, elsewhere in the world, of deregulated economies, driven by
market-forces, and instead seeks to redress the economically-created ills by
creating further controls, and by berating the private sector.
Thus, in the last two weeks, Minister of Industry and International
Trade, Obert Mpofu, and the Minister of Public Service, Labour and Social
Welfare, Nicholas Goche, have poured forth vitriol upon the business sector,
attributing to it the total blame and responsibility for the current soaring
hyperinflation. In doing so, they threaten the most dire actions against the
alleged culprits within business, and that controls will be intensified even
more. Unfortunately, they do not threaten likewise against those within the
political hierarchy whose businesses are at the forefront of price hikes,
and who are commercial property owners who continuously raise rentals to an
extent far greater than the rate of inflation.
Now government is taking its control mania even further. It intends
removing from the people the power to appoint its leader, vesting that power
in parliament, which it dominates. And it is seeking to assure continuance
of that domination, by increasing the number of seats in both parliament and
the senate, and restructuring constituencies so as to favour the ruling
party's electoral outturn (in hypothetically democratic elections, in
practice manipulated constituency structures, constraints upon freedom of
speech of Aippa and Posa legislation, inequitable and biased political
coverage by the state-controlled media, disenfranchisement of Zimbabweans
abroad, and of others previously entitled to vote, and much else).
All this is targeted to ensure government's total control of all. It
was the renowned German, Johann von Goethe, who lived from 1749 to 1832, who
said: "To rule is easy, to govern is difficult" and Zimbabwe's government
constantly evidences that is so. And it was the renowned American, Will
Rogers, who said: "The business of government is to keep the government out
of business - that is, unless business needs government aid." Government's
resilient grip upon parastatals, and its ongoing resolve to control all
business sectors almost totally, instead of aiding business when business is
in need, demonstrates incontrovertibly that government does not know its
ZIMBABWE Lawyers for Human Rights, the legal rights body, reported
recently that, together with other lawyers, they were representing 57 people
arrested on charges of "causing forcible resistance to government or law
enforcement agencies" under the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act
and related offences.
This pernicious piece of legislation would appear to be the state's
weapon of choice in its latest assault on the opposition and civil society,
performing the catch-all role previously provided by the Law and Order
The Catholic bishops recently drew attention to the worrying
similarities between the colonial era and today's rulers. Most of those
recently detained report that they were assaulted while in custody by
batons, boots and bottles. It would be useful to ask Rhodesian-era
detainees, which include ministers responsible for the laws under which MDC
officials are detained, whether their treatment at the hands of the BSAP
matches the violence meted out to today's prisoners. They were denied access
to their lawyers and to sustenance of any sort, their lawyers report.
The treatment of the detainees, effectively political prisoners,
contravenes constitutional prohibitions on torture and international
conventions to which Zimbabwe is party, including the African Convention on
Human and Peoples' Rights. Their plight has been exacerbated by the role
played by courts in denying them the liberties to which they are entitled in
cases where it is obvious the state has insufficient evidence, or in some
cases no evidence at all.
Unprofessional policing thus compounds arbitrary detention.
Underlining all this is the salient fact that many of the arrests stem
from an episode on March 11 when gratuitous violence was used to disperse
people gathering for a civic meeting.
Fifty-six members of Woza, arrested this week for participating in a
peaceful protest against power cuts, say they were beaten in detention.
The rule of law in Zimbabwe is on its deathbed. Ministers,
law-enforcement agencies and judicial officers are among its assassins.
Added to this are the malevolent threats by President Mugabe that have
contributed to the impression of a lawless state. No head of state should
suggest that violence towards the opposition is justifiable on the specious
grounds of "provocation". It is against the law for police officers or
anybody else to assault detainees in police cells and Mugabe knows it. What
sort of example does this set for already delinquent state officials?
The only comfort civil society can derive from all this is that it
clearly indicates a regime unsure of its own support. The abduction and
torture of opposition members over the past six weeks suggests a systematic
attempt to emasculate critics of the regime including those in the media.
We have been here before: The mass-murder of villagers in Matabeleland
in the mid-1980s by the Fifth Brigade; the abduction and torture of
journalists from this newspaper group in 1999 by military and intelligence
personnel; the killing of MDC activists in Buhera in 2000, allegedly by CIO
officers; the disappearance of an MDC election agent in Bulawayo in 2000 and
the attempt to pin the killing of a war veterans leader on the MDC; all
suggest a state where political violence against the opposition is the norm
and justice is denied.
The reason for that is not difficult to discern: Zanu PF believes it
owns the country as a result of its role in the liberation war and that it
has the right to crush the MDC which it pretends is a puppet of the British.
Where the force of its puerile blandishments about Tony Blair and land make
no purchase on the imagination of today's populace, brute force, it is
hoped, will do the trick.
The Mauritius terms on electoral conduct have been discarded. The
right of voters to make an informed choice has been rendered void by the
absence of alternative media voices and by coercion and force. Now we learn
there will be extensive gerrymandering of constituency boundaries to bring
the towns to heel.
Amidst this mayhem President Thabo Mbeki has a monumental task. He has
proved a good listener over the past few weeks, quick to establish that Sadc
is not a creature of Mugabe's political will. That intervention put a sudden
stop to embarrassing claims emanating from Harare although somebody forgot
to tell the state media.
But if Mbeki is to be of any value as a mediator, he needs to declare
that state-sponsored violence against the opposition is unacceptable,
political prisoners must be immediately released, and freedom of expression
and assembly fully restored.
These are fundamental tenets of the Grand Baie terms agreed by all 14
Sadc states. If Sadc is to have any credibility it must make clear that
there can be no exception to those terms. So far, that has been said only in
confidential exchanges. We need as a nation to hear it spelt out loud.
By Joram Nyathi
IN a normal country where government is accountable for its actions,
blunders on the magnitude of those which characterised the land reform in
Zimbabwe would be a point of departure for any major policy decision in
future. We were told back then that the fast-track approach was necessary
because landless Zimbabweans had become impatient. Any further delay would
be a disaster.
The process was therefore executed without planning, with no
resources, no identifiable skills and no audit of infrastructure on white
commercial farms. The violence, the slaughter of livestock, the burning of
crops and plantations, the plunder of conservancies and the looting of
property were all subordinated to the "bigger picture" of correcting
colonial land ownership imbalances. The result to me was a bigger disaster
than a slow but planned process.
The fuel, food and power shortages which are today blamed on Western
sanctions and the opposition MDC are firmly rooted in that "moment of
madness" in which government decided to destroy a properly integrated
industrial and farming system without anything scientific to put in its
place. Which lends credence to those who see a political purpose in the
whole project instead of a programme of black economic empowerment.
Seen in this light, current efforts by government to seize council
equipment and services through the Zimbabwe National Water Authority (Zinwa)
make sense. Having blundered in a big way on the land reform, one expected
government to have learnt something about such undertakings. It is difficult
to see the need for urgency in Zinwa taking over the distribution of water
and sewerage services.
A logical step would have been for Zinwa to take over one small local
authority as a model. Once it has studied the problems and logistics of
water supply and billing then it moves on to bigger things. But that is not
the Zanu PF way.
What we have been told is that Zinwa will improve service delivery.
That is after the Zanu PF government crippled local authorities by removing
popularly elected councillors and executive mayors in Harare, Chitungwiza
and Mutare before imposing its own commissions. It turns out that its
commissioners are a chip off the old block like its cabinet ministers who
can never get anything right. Now government wants to extend its clammy
tentacles to council clinics when it is failing to pay doctors at its
hospitals or to buy simple drugs.
Fortunately even the blind can see through this ruse. Nowhere has it
been demonstrated that MDC councillors failed to deliver service because
they were incompetent, indolent or corrupt. Senators from both Zanu PF and
the MDC recently complained that the take-over of local authority duties by
Zinwa had been a total failure. In rare moments of candour, Zinwa officials
have admitted that the problems they face are a result of foreign currency
shortages to buy water treatment chemicals, and old pipes that keep
bursting, resulting in the loss of treated water. The same applies to sewer
flowing in some suburbs.
What is evident is the lack of resources by opposition local
authorities. Ratepayers expected government to at least provide the
resources to its own commissions. There have been none and, in typical Zanu
PF fashion, the commissioners cannot complain. They were not appointed to
raise inconvenient questions of their benefactors. Like the councillors they
replaced, they cannot charge commercial rates and cannot demand grants from
government. The result has been raw sewage flowing into water sources,
uncollected garbage, unrepaired burst water pipes, gaping potholes and
stinking sanitary lanes; in short, precipitous urban decay.
The real motive for taking over council functions is not service
delivery. The issue is about emasculating urban councils by taking over
their sources of revenue. This will make the job less exciting. More than
that, the motive is to place the functions of local authorities beyond the
reach of ratepayers to whom they should be accountable.
When government introduced the system of executive mayors it is clear
it had underestimated people's resentment against its own efficiency,
mismanagement of the economy and their determination to change guard. But
like the constitutional referendum of 2000, the election of executive mayors
and councillors became a wake-up call to Zanu PF. It cannot suffer
opposition councillors but is wise enough not to risk embarrassment by
calling for an urban council election it is certain to lose. For better or
for worse, it must continue to violate its own laws by refusing to call for
elections and extending the tenure of
unpopular commissions. Zinwa is part of the same agenda.
This is the most flagrant display of political hubris. In whatever
sphere of its operation, government cannot continue any longer the pretence
that it is ruling with the consent of the people. From central government to
local authorities, Zimbabweans are confronted with the spectre of naked
force. That is why civil society, ratepayers' organisations, human rights
groups and worshippers have all become political animals to be crushed with
brute force. But he is a fool who believes such rule can continue beyond a
few fitfull, hate-filled years propped up by tiring security agencies.
What's really going on at Zimra?
IN 2001 I moved to Zimra as a revenue specialist. The authority stood
for all that was good and progressive. Little did we know that this was
going to be shortlived.
Now Zimra has been hijacked. Now there are castes. The royal caste are
all those recruited from outside. The trainees who joined after 2001 are
part of this royal caste. The lowest caste are those from customs. The
customs department is in the intensive care. Taxes people are in the middle.
The ministry and board must find out what is happening. There was
restructuring for grades 16 to 9. It was completed in March for managers but
it was a disaster. They must ask who authorised this unfair project? We in
grades 16 to 9 will not allow this to continue unchallenged. We know it is
targeted at a few workers. We have seen this with managers. We saw some
being fired, some being promoted, others being transferred on demotion.
How did certain individuals jump from grades 9 to 6 without an
advertisement and interviews? Handpicking? What a shame.
A fair employer allows all eligible employees to compete
transparently. I qualified for most of the jobs which were not advertised. I
have a record of good performance but I do not know why I was left out.
In addition to a first degree and diplomas, I am about to complete a
masters. A number of educated employees were not given the chance, and yet
their balance score cards show better performance when compared to those
handpicked. Is this fair and are we supposed to watch while this corruption
I think an external audit is required on the method used for promotion
or demotion during restructuring and reasons must be given. Same for those
who are fired, there must be a clear basis. If not, we will end up with what
happened at the World Bank where a boss promoted a girlfriend, or where
girlfriends run organisations.
For the good of the country and revenue collection, let us have a
transparent and fair Zimra. This will motivate us.
* There was no response from Zimra by the time of going to press. -
Pope must speak out
I RECENTLY listened to an interview conducted by Violet Gonda of Short
Wave Radio Africa.
One of the interviewees was Zimbabwe's brave, forthright and outspoken
cleric, Archbishop Pius Ncube. In answering one of Gonda's questions the
Archbishop advised that His Holiness the Pope is not really "in touch" with
the local situation. He then confirmed that His Holiness has a
representative in most countries including Zimbabwe.
I have discovered that Pope Benedict XVI's representative in Zimbabwe
is in fact one Edward Joseph Adams. He most certainly keeps a low profile,
and even Archbishop Ncube didn't refer to him by name. Despite the fact that
human rights abuses in Zimbabwe have captured most of the world's attention,
and despite the fact that the Pope has Edward Joseph Adams on the spot, it
seems to me absolutely incredible that His Holiness is not really "in touch"
with the local situation.
The man responsible for causing destructive mayhem and extreme
suffering to millions of Zimbabweans is a practising member of the Catholic
church, and we all know who he is - except it seems the Vatican in Rome.
In my opinion the Catholic church hierarchy have remained ignorant of
what is happening in Zimbabwe for far too long, and it is high time that
Edward Joseph Adams enlightens His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI on the
horrifying events taking place during his watch.
Archbishop Ncube should have, and needs, all the moral support he can
Unbridled greed at its best
IT was predictable on Independence day that the dear leader
would engage is his usual diatribes against Tony Blair and George Bush and
that we would be called upon to unite because our sovereignty is under
However, the phrase that caught my attention, not for the first
time was "unbridled greed". Apparently our economy is in a vegetative state
because of our "unbridled greed".
I am quite certain that President Robert Mugabe is very much
aware that the unbridled greed he keeps referring to was introduced and
nursed to its current frightening levels by none other than himself. I dare
say no one is greedier than the first family.
Our president, whose people are starving and enduring a standard
of living that has fallen to pre-1953 levels, lives in three houses, is
driven around in one of the most expensive vehicles on the continent and has
one of the longest motorcades in the world.
At Independence very few expensive vehicles of the likes of a
Mercedes Benz graced our roads. When the prime minister showed his unbridled
greed by frowning upon the modest vehicle that his Rhodesian predecessor
moved around in, the captains of industry followed suit. After all, they
reasoned, their organisations paid the taxes that enabled government
ministers to drive luxury vehicles. Now we even have a Reserve Bank governor
who believes that a US$138 000 vehicle is "modest".
This in a country which cannot afford to buy fuel and whose
industries have been adversely affected by the unavailability of foreign
currency and erratic power supplies.
Apart from introducing greed in our midst, the president has
always shown tolerance for it by surrounding himself with greedy people and
honouring them even in their death.
Chenjerai Hunzvi played a central role in the plundering of the
War Victims' Compensation Fund. Today he takes pride of place at the
His partners in crime, some whom claimed to be 80% disabled,
hold key posts in the ruling party and government. Those responsible for
bringing Zisco to its knees remain in the upper echelons of both the ruling
party and government.
Once upon a time civil servants pulled together their financial
resources and contributed towards a housing scheme that was meant to fulfill
their long cherished dreams of owning homes. The First Lady, though not a
civil servant herself, decided to dip her fingers into the scheme.
She built a mansion which was allegedly sold for a cool $4
million way back when the Zim dollar was still strong. It is said that she
repaid what she took but by then, many other chefs had followed her example
thereby rendering the scheme unviable, shattering the dreams of ordinary
civil servants in the process.
The land redistribution exercise showcased the excessive greed
of Zanu PF chefs. Apart from multiple farm ownership, they hopped from farm
to farm right at the point when white farmers were preparing to harvest
their crops. After harvesting some would abandon the farms and scout around
for ones nearing harvest time.
Indeed, there is unbridled greed among us. But, what can I say,
we learnt from the best. President Mugabe is best placed to explain how
exactly the greed became "unbridled" under his stewardship and how it is
that he seems powerless to rein it in.
He has been Zimbabwe's sole and all powerful ruler since
Independence. Why, even our police force dares not arrest wrong doers unless
he gives them the go ahead. I personally am tired of being told about greed
and corruption by the very architect of the vices.
He's not going anywhere
SO, Mugabe's plan is to hang on until 2008 and then resign
(Independent, April 20).
Speaking from past experience, it would be foolish for anyone,
especially for those in the ruling party leadership, to trust this old man.
What is the guarantee that he will go? What will inspire him
that has failed to move him for the past 27 years?
Gushungo is just playing games to buy time.
Considering how we are suffering, it is naive for anyone to
think that we can meet Mugabe in a supermarket after he resigns and greet
him and chat about how wonderful power was for him and how we suffered under
Leaving power is not safe for sekuru. In his own interest, he
would rather die in power.
Chinese deal baffling
I'M sure you are just as baffled as I am about this barter
trade with the Chinese.
Some 400 tractors of the disposable quality, and a number
of other "toys" of equally disposable nature, for 110 000 tonnes of our
precious tobacco, to be spread over two years.
And this while our 2006 tobacco crop weighed in at 55 000
tonnes, and the estimated yield for 2007 is around 80 000 tonnes. Total: 135
Does our new Minister of Agriculture, Rugare Gumbo, know
something we don't? Can he look into the future and guarantee that next year
there will be sufficient tobacco to deliver to China, hopefully before these
tractors are obsolete?
Leave Mwana alone
AFTER Mwana Africa's CAF Confederation Cup win against
Burkina Faso side Etoile Filante Ougadougou on Saturday, I'm sure Darlington
Majonga is the most ashamed man.
In his critique on both politics and sport, "Baboon, admit
you are hare" (Zimbabwe Independent, April 13), he was busy demonising our
representative Mwana by comparing the affairs of Zimbabwe and those of our
I think Majonga is misrepresenting himself and the world
at large. If he wants to criticise the Zimbabwe politics, he should do so
and leave our Mwana alone.
Why not suggest solutions as well?
By David Taylor
EACH week I read the Zimbabwe Independent online. Over the
past five years your paper has done a great job of identifying some of the
major problems facing Zimbabwe.
May I suggest that you also suggest some of the solutions
to your country's problems.
One way that you might be able to do this is to publish
interviews with leaders and other senior members of your country's major
political parties (including Zanu PF).
I am distant from Zimbabwe, but still do not have a clear
idea of how the different political parties plan to address the country's
Detailed interviews will not only help Zimbabweans
identify which of the candidates or parties will most effectively address
their country's problems, but may force the politicians to actually
formulate and implement solutions for the problems.
The interviews will be most valuable if the politicians
are prevented from simply spouting vague and verbose quotes from party
manifestos. They will also be most valuable if they are prevented from
simply playing the "blame game".
I for one would be very interested to know specific
details of how both Zanu PF and the MDC plan to address the most serious
problems facing Zimbabwe. What will be their priorities should they win the
election? What will be the first things they will do? It is time for clear
solutions and firm timetables.
* Taylor writes from Boston, USA.
Mugabes tacit manifesto for 2008
PRESIDENT Mugabe's tacit election manifesto for the 2008
election "Vote for Me, Then I Resign" is holding the people of Zimbabwe
hostage to his unfortunate circumstances and evident failure to win the
confidence of the regional and international community. It displays the
highest level of arrogance.
Mugabe knows his stay at the helm has resulted in loss of
confidence in the international community and a lot of suffering for
Zimbabweans due to his repressive policies. Zimbabwe has lost friends, and
each time he opens his mouth he spits vitriol - with no gains for Zimbabwe.
The only positive thing about him contesting the election
is that he is making the campaign very difficult for his colleagues who want
to be legislators and senators, who will have a difficult time convincing
the electorate that he has the capacity to resolve the economic mess he has
It's time Zimbabweans unite and bring about the desired
change by looking beyond abstract conceptions of economic recovery and
sovereignty. We should say no to isolation in the name of preserving the
rule of a single man.