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‘Damned if Mugabe wins, damned if he loses’

Saturday, 28 April 2012 17:23


WITH President Robert Mugabe incessantly declaring that he wants an election
this year, analysts say Zimbabweans may find themselves between a rock and a
hard place.

The GPA has, no doubt, provided some form of stability, despite
pronouncements by political leaders, particularly, Zanu PF, that it had
And the fear among many is damned if Mugabe wins, damned if he loses!

Fears are that if Mugabe wins an election, contentious programmes such
indigenisation, may be accelerated, much to the detriment of the country’s
fragile economy.

Coupled with that, Mugabe has made no secret of his wish to see the return
of the much-reviled Zimbabwe dollar, and this has raised the spectre of the
economic collapse that climaxed in 2008.

On the other hand, if Mugabe loses the election, it is feared that a reign
of terror, reminiscent of 2008, may be unleashed.

Zanu PF is increasingly making it obvious that it wants Mugabe to be the
life-president and it is highly unlikely that in the event that he loses an
election, the party will just roll over and accept an electoral loss.

The president has repeatedly said that he was fighting neo-imperialism and
he “will not go until all the power to manage industries and the mines is in
the hands of the people of Zimbabwe.”

This means he would not countenance the idea of losing an election and has,
in the past, also likened an MDC-T victory to a reversal of the gains of the
liberation struggle.

“We are not going to give up our country for a mere X on a ballot. How can a
ballpoint pen fight with a gun?” Mugabe declared in 2008, meaning he would
not be ready to go.

This, coupled with Mugabe’s advanced age and rumours about his ill health,
raises so many contradictions on the country’s future.

“Without a doubt, if Mugabe wins the next elections it will be a waste of
national resources,” Charles Mangongera, a political analyst, said in
reference to the possibility that, if Mugabe won, another election would be
on the horizon soon, to the detriment of the economy.

“I know that the longevity of his life is a matter between Mugabe and his
God but I think we cannot expect him to effectively perform his presidential
functions for another five or six years.”

The political analyst said the country’s future lay squarely on Mugabe and
Zanu PF’s shoulders and what reforms they agreed to ahead of elections.
“It depends on whether Muga-be chooses wise or foolish counsel after the
next election,” he added. “Ultimately the decision lies with the hardline
cabal that surrounds him and that includes some in the security apparatus of
the state.”

Mangongera said of late Muga-be had been speaking about peace and
reconciliation meaning he could be trying to retain his legacy, but a lot
rode on the decisions his party makes.

“I do not think that, in the unlikely event that he wins the next election,
Mugabe would countenance full scale indigenisation and a return to the
Zimbabwe dollar. These are just campaign issues that will die down once the
electoral dust has settled,” Mangongera said.

Mugabe fixated with legacy issues, says Maisiri

Trevor Maisiri, a senior analyst for southern Africa at the International
Crisis Group said Mugabe might have become fixated with his legacy, which he
wanted to redeem.

“He wants a legacy; he wants to also avoid causing protests by failure to
deliver a better socio-economic life for the people,” he said.  “If he wins
the next election I am sure he will then work on succession issues in his
party and hand over power to a party member.”

Maisiri conceded that some Zanu PF members may try to resist if Mugabe lost,
but was of the view that this would be nothing but a token resistance, which
would die away.

The South African-based analyst said with the peaceful change of power in
Senegal, Zambia and Malawi, the world, Sadc and the African Union were
watching and Zanu PF would be careful in the way it organised the next

Dumisani Nkomo, a political analyst, said it would be catastrophic if Mugabe
were to win the next election.

“If Mugabe wins it will be a huge disaster. Actually a catastrophe. The
Zimbabwe dollar may return because it makes it easier for Zanu PF bigwigs to
benefit from parallel markets and printing of money,” he said.

He also agreed that Mugabe could use this next election as a means to
restore his legacy and what was missing were guarantees that if he lost
elections he may not be criminally liable for violations that occurred
during his reign.

The three analysts concurred that the indigenisation policy was a populist
mantra, which the veteran ruler could ditch if he won an election.

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Chinhoyi gold rush turns ugly here

Saturday, 28 April 2012 17:17


THE gold rush that rocked Chinhoyi a few weeks ago has turned ugly with
police officers and top Zanu PF officials at each other’s throats over
mining rights at Heinz farm just outside the Mashonaland West capital.

Thousands of villagers and Chinhoyi residents recently descended on the farm
following the discovery of gold, but were driven off by riot police.
Soldiers and police officers also joined the gold rush and a number of  them
were arrested after they were caught illegally panning for the precious

Police sources in Chinhoyi told The Standard that former Zanu PF MP, Idah
Mashonganyika, had allegedly enlisted the support of Senate president Edna
Madzongwe in a bid to block  rival group, Muduma Mining Syndicate, formed by
senior police officers in the province.

They said Mashonganyika had used the police to force Muduma Syndicate to
cease operations in the disputed area.

But Mashonganyika was allegedly allowed to continue mining at the farm
which, ironically, was allocated to a senior Chinhoyi police officer after
it was forcibly acquired from Gerry Heinz several years ago under the
government’s land reform programme.

The sources said some of the officers involved in the mining venture were
said to have been transferred to as far as Beitbridge and Victoria Falls.

Mashonganyika insisted that she was the rightful owner of the mining claim
at Heinz farm, claiming that she had documents from the mining commissioner
to prove that.

“We went to the police who requested others to produce their papers but
no-one came,” she said. “So we were given the green light by the police to

A member of the Muduma Mining Syndicate, who spoke on condition of anonymity
for fear of victimisation, disputed Mashonganyika’s claim saying the
consortium of police officers had been holding the rights to mine in the
area since 2010, while the former MP  allegedly applied for a licence only
this year.

Madzongwe also distanced herself from the saga, suggesting that certain
people could be using her name to “frighten” competitors.
“I don’t know anything about the mining issue in Chinhoyi,” she said.  “I am
hearing it from you for the first time. Maybe my name was used to scare
other contestants in the dispute.”

Mashonaland West police spokesperson Inspector Clemence Mabgweazara was
singing a different tune insisting that the police had stopped all
operations at the mine.

“We stopped all operations at the mine site because we want to verify the
legal owner of the claim,” he said.

Sources at the ministry of mines accused politicians of using their
influence to bulldoze their way into mining claims already given to other
people. They also blamed the mining commissioner of allocating one claim to
several people thereby causing confusion.

Mashonaland West mining commissioner, a Chihota, referred questions to chief
mining commissioner, a  Mabhena, who could not be reached for comment.

“I cannot comment now because we are looking into the issue. You can however
talk to the chief mining commissioner to get more details,” he said.
Delays in the issuing of licences and double allocation of mining rights
have resulted in unresolved claims disputes, sparking fierce fights between
prospective owners.

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Zanu PF land invaders threaten scenic Vumba

Saturday, 28 April 2012 16:58

MUTARE — Zanu (PF) supporters resettled as A1 farmers in Vumba and Burma
Valley areas have been accused of destroying the scenic Eastern Highlands by
indiscriminately cutting down indigenous and exotic trees and wanton hunting
of wild animals.
Owners of private properties and A2 farmers in the tourist resort area said
A1 farmers, the majority of whom are war veterans,  were illegally  hunting
wild animals and destroying the unique forests in the area.

Operators of tourism facilities  said the area, which is renowned for its
beautiful scenery  and forests, was fast losing its value.

John Maengamhuru who grows flowers and operates an indigenous tree sanctuary
said the destruction of natural environment had been worsened by people who
invaded areas that were not suitable for habitation.

The illegal settlers are allegedly farming on mountain slopes, water
channels and along riverbeds, thus speeding land degradation which is
threatening productive farming in the area.

This has also worsened the siltation of the two major rivers, Nyamakari and
Nyamataka whose water is harnessed to irrigate the rich loam soils in the
area, once a major force to reckon with in horticultural production.

One horticulturalist Admire Mazaretu said one of the two sources of
Nyamakari River, which is begins from Bedza Mountain,  was already  severely
silted as the illegal farmers, who are said to be backed by senior Zanu (PF)
officials in the province, were cultivating on the mountain slopes.

“Efforts to have the illegal settlers removed seem to be hitting a brick
wall as we now fully understand that there are political forces behind
 this,” said Mazaretu.

Tourism players and farmers in the area said it was now imperative that the
responsible  authorities join hands with conservationists to address the

“If the practice is left to continue for two seasons or more,  Vumba and
other areas like Burma Valley  risk turning into a desert and farming
infrastructures maybe destroyed,” said Peter Magosvongwe a local strawberry

EMA steps in to stop the rot

The Environmental Management Agency (EMA) provincial environmental officer,
Kingston Chitotombe said efforts were being made to engage all stakeholders
in order to rectify the situation.

He said the agency was working with  various stakeholders including the
local government, police and other relevant key ministries.

“We held a meeting with these stakeholders together with the farmers last
month and explained to them the implications of cultivating on mountain
slopes, water channels and cutting down trees, which speeds-up land
degradation that would threaten productive farming,” said Chitotombe.

He said illegal settlers have been given a deadline to vacate the area,
failure to which they would be forcibly removed.

“The resettled farmers have agreed to vacate the area soon after they
harvest their crops. Failure to do that we will have to act through the
courts,”  said Chitotombe.

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CIO murder: Family speaks

Saturday, 28 April 2012 17:22

THE family of Brown Mwale, the senior Central Intelligence Organisation
(CIO) officer who was murdered in Glen Norah two weeks ago, has said the
deceased was not related to Joseph Mwale, a fellow operative who is wanted
for allegedly murdering two opposition activists 12 years ago.
Brown was murdered in the early hours of Independence Day over a
misunderstanding involving the payment of a taxi fare.

Two soldiers, Blessing Nyakwina, Nkuzimulo Nkomo and their two accomplices,
Damascus Tafa and Vitalis Nyakwina, a pirate taxi driver, last week appeared
before Harare Magistrate Anita Tshuma on murder charges and were remanded in
custody to May 11.

Brother of the deceased, Fungai said apart from the fact that they shared
the same surname, the family was not related to Joseph. He said although
Brown worked in the same organisation with Joseph, the two never met or

Joseph is believed to be based in Manicaland where he was recently part of
the security team  accompanying  Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai during a
visit to the diamond fields of Chiadzwa. Joseph has not been prosecuted
despite being accused of having petrol-bombed a vehicle driven by Tichaona
Chiminya and Talent Mabika while they were campaigning for Tsvangirai in
Buhera in the run up to the 2000 elections.

Fungai said although his brother worked for the CIO, he was not associated
with violence or intimidation and was “popular”  in Harare’s western suburbs
where he used to socialise with many people at different drinking holes.

“Brown is somebody we were proud of regardless of the perception associated
with his job,” he said. “Our family has lost a pillar of strength and
breadwinner for his wife and four kids.”— By Our Staff

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Pending GPA reforms curtail media freedom

Saturday, 28 April 2012 17:25

ZIMBABWEAN journalists will this week commemorate World Press Freedom Day
amid renewed calls to implement meaningful media reforms and end the
continued harassment and threats against media practitioners, whose work
continues to be curtailed by repressive laws.
Media practitioners believe the inclusive government has adopted a piecemeal
approach to implementing promised sweeping reforms in accordance with
Article 19 of the Global Political Agreement (GPA).

Media Institute of Southern Africa (Misa) Zimbabwe national director,
Nhlanhla Ngwenya acknowledged some positive developments had taken place
since the inauguration of the coalition government over three years ago.

These include the registration of more than 30 publications including
NewsDay and the controversial licensing of two commercial radio stations,
Zimpapers Talk Radio and Supa Mandiwanzira’s ZI FM.

“But these developments should not be used to gloss over the infrastructure
of media repression that continues to pause threats to the very
sustainability of the newly licenced media and impede on citizens’ civil
liberties,” he said.

Ngwenya said the same legal instruments that were used to erode the media
space and citizens’ right to freedom of expression could still be used to
silence new platforms of communication.

He said instead of holistically addressing issues affecting the media as per
the instruction of government principals, the relevant ministry of media,
information and publicity has either openly defied its superiors and
defended the perpetuation of the status quo or superintended over the
superficial reforms that have been implemented.

“Resultantly, an illegal Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe board has been
allowed to controversially issue licences to companies viewed as Zanu PF
allies at the expense of those perceived to be genuinely independent
aspiring broadcasters,” he said.

A number of media practitioners have been arrested in the past months, with
journalists from The Standard bearing the full brunt of an assault on media

These include editor, Nevanji Madanhire and reporters, Nqaba Matshazi and
Nqobani Ndlovu, who were last year arrested on criminal defamation charges.

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Sisulu calls for political stability

Saturday, 28 April 2012 17:18

Prospects of Zimbabwe’s economic recovery will remain shaky until the
country’s political situation stabilises, a prominent South African-based
human rights activist, Eleanor Sisulu has said.
Delivering an inaugural Hope/Fay lecture series hosted by the Women’s
University in Africa (WUA) on Friday, Sisulu who has worked closely with the
Crisis Coalition in Zimbabwe, said the violent land reform programme was
gratuitous and impacted negatively on women refugees in South Africa.

“As for the economic development of Zimbabwe, it is unpredictable. It might
go very bad or get better and I hope it won’t turnout for the worst,” she

“And I commend the country for its agricultural production, though it has
been immensely affected by HIV prevalence that has caused incalculable
destruction in southern Africa, thereby destroying capacity to produce food
for the people.”

The lecture series, which is a partnership between Women’s University in
Africa and the United States embassy, seeks to address critical issues
affecting women and transforming their lives around Africa.

US Ambassador to Zimbabwe, Charles Ray, said he was proud to be part of the
initiative that would see women and girls being transformed for the better.

“Women and girls, not only in Zimbabwe but in Africa, deserve more than what
they are getting out of life and this initiative seeks to improve the lives
of women, which will lead to greater economic growth,” he said.

This year marks the 10th anniversary of the WUA and these lectures are
designed to empower and inspire more women in all spheres of life.

The university’s vice chancellor, Hope Sadza, said WUA has come a long way
to what it was today.

“For women, the issue of hunger is critical, as the woman has to contend
with those issues in the home,” she said.

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Civic group unveils devolution proposal

Saturday, 28 April 2012 17:19

BULAWAYO — A local civic group, Bulawayo Agenda, has unveiled a devolution
framework it wants adopted by political parties during the ongoing
constitution making process.
Under Bulawayo Agenda’s devolution framework, there would be a provincial
assembly, governor, auditor, police commissioner and a public service
commission with legislative powers to run the affairs of a province.

The central government would remain with powers to oversee the country’s
national affairs, mainly the national budget, army and foreign affairs,
according to the group’s framework.

Groups calling for devolution have said the system of governance would
remove bottlenecks and red-tape created by the current centralist governance
system, politically and economically while empowering Zimbabweans

However, there has been no framework offered by civic groups, political
parties and regions campaigning for devolution, detailing how it would be
implemented if adopted.

According to the Bulawayo Agenda document, each province would be run by a
provincial government, also known as the provincial assembly, headed by a

The document says members of the provincial assembly would be elected to
represent constituencies within their province, with other members elected
in terms of a system of proportional representation.

“An Act of Parliament must provide for an equitable formula, determining the
exact number of seats of each provincial assembly, the equitable formula for
allocating the seats of members and the form of proportional representation
to be adopted,” Bulawayo Agenda said in its devolution document.
Bulawayo Agenda says a constitutional court will have to be set up “to
determine and resolve any dispute between a provincial assembly and
Parliament over the exercise of power.”

The civic group also proposes the setting up of a provincial revenue fund,
the appointment of an auditor and attorney. But the attorney and auditor can
be voted out of office by the provincial assembly.

“There will be a provincial attorney, who will be appointed by the governor
on the recommendations of the provincial assembly by a resolution supported
by a majority of its members,” the document reads.

A provincial public service commission will oversee the employment of
qualified “persons” into the government.

The document also proposes the setting up of a provincial police department
with no more than 50 members and headed by a provincial police commissioner.

While calls for devolution have heightened, President Robert Mugabe and
Zanu-PF hardliners have dismissed it as divisive.

Framework empowers provincial assembly to enact laws

The proposed Bulawayo Agenda document says the provincial assembly will have
legislative powers to enact provincial laws “through the passing of a Bill
by a simple majority”.

The provincial assembly will have powers to pass legislation on provincial
planning, tourism, public transport, environmental management, housing,
finance and taxation, education, human and animal health, rural development,
shop and liquor licensing, roads, water management and other matters not in
the exclusive jurisdiction of the national government.

However, all legislative authority will be vested in the governor, with
Parliament of Zimbabwe also having powers over the provincial assembly.
Parliament can also nullify an act passed by provincial assembly “if that
legislation is prejudicial to the economic or security interests of another
province or the Republic of Zimbabwe as a whole or is grossly unreasonably.”

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Council attaches property in Mabvuku

Saturday, 28 April 2012 17:10

By Simbarashe Majamanda
AS a movement that seeks to address problems that residents face in
interacting with service providers and elected councillors, the Harare
Residents Trust (HRT) is concerned by shocking housing developments in
Residents in this community have always been on the record for raising
concerns with council over the archaic billing system, unaffordability of
council rates and lack of community service while council was billing them.

It is astonishing that after engaging the City Treasury Department, based at
Rowan Martin Offices, on the issue of debts that residents are drowned in,
there are reports that officials from the messengers’ court have started
attaching properties from households in Mabvuku.

The Town Clerk of Harare City council, Tendai Mahachi, mayor Muchadeyi
Masunda and the city treasurer, Misheck Mubvumbi, have stated that it is
false that council is attaching residents’ properties over outstanding

However, from information received by the HRT, Masunda and the Deputy
Minister of Local Government, Sesel Zvidzai, visited some households which
were reported to have lost properties to some debt collectors last week.
The findings of this team have not been clearly publicised.

Concurrently, there is also an organisation named Welfare Trust going around
in the communities claiming that if residents pay US$20 to them outside the
US$1 as membership fees at the District Offices and other council premises,
the organisation will be able to negotiate slashing of their debts.

Residents of Harare are urged to desist from becoming part of such
arrangements and instead resist attachment of properties by council.

The Minister of Local Government, Urban and Rural Development, Ignatius
Chombo, has also remained silent on this issue instead of taking lead to
adress the problem.

an urgent response from his office is required as well. If council is not
attaching properties, then criminals are robbing residents in the
It then becomes necessary to deploy municipal police officers in the
identified communities to deal with this situation.

What is also surprising and may serve as testimony to the fact that council
is attaching residents’ properties, is that debt collectors are visiting
specific households which have council debts.

So if they are not being sent by council, how could they be so accurate?

Residents losing property to council

Information received by the HRT on February 20 this year from the Deputy
Mayor of Harare, councillor Emmanuel Chiroto (Ward 42 Hatcliffe), also
revealed that the City Treasury Department had attached residents’
properties in some suburbs.

He said that officials from the credit control section at Cleveland House
had sent messengers of court to attach properties over outstanding debts
without the approval of the City Treasurer. He said an order had been given
that the properties be returned, but there has been no compliance to this

The HRT also visited three households on February 26 following reports that
residents had their properties attached. HRT officers realised that the
community was gripped with fear.

After clarifying the purpose of the visit, residents  felt they could
confide in the HRT officers and indicated that debt collectors were
patrolling the community on a daily basis, telling residents with
outstanding debts that they would lose their properties soon.

A visit to Mabvuku District Office on February 22, where interviews with
officers were held, revealed that residents had their properties attached
due to default judgements in court.

This is in conflict with what the City Treasury management and council
management officials had initially said.

On February 17, the HRT team discovered the following at the following

l At Number 43 Mazari Street Mabvuku, residents had an outstanding debt of
US$1 606,63. They lost a four-piece black lounge suit and an upright Defy

l at number 16 Kurudzi Mabvuku, where  there is a debt of US$724, they lost
four kitchen chairs, one table, one Phillips television set, a DVD player,
three piece kitchen unit and a Defy fridge upright.

l at another house at which the resident preferred to be anonymous, there
is a debt of US$1 001 and they lost an upright fridge, a Philips television
set, DVD player, radio, a microwave and sofas.

Simbarashe Majamanda is a HRT membership officer

Residents must settle bills: Gwindi

Lesley Gwindi, Harare City public relations manager, said reports that the
council was attaching houses for non-payment of bills were not new.

“We have said people should pay and they continue defaulting. How do they
expect us to be able to provide service if they are not paying? How do they
propose to settle the bills?” said Gwindi.

“There is nothing like a free lunch, there is a cost to everything, people
should settle their bills”.

“All this talk about lack of service in Mabvuku is a lie. We prioritise
Mabvuku and I am with the councillor at the Zimbabwe International Trade
Fair and he is not complaining”.

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Vapostori sects adamant on immunisation

Saturday, 28 April 2012 17:07

FOR Dambudzo (46), a widow and member of the Johanne Marange Apostolic sect,
HIV and Aids are a result of sin. She abhors the use of modern health care
All her eight children have never been immunised due to her religious views.
Dambudzo is oblivious to the fact that in Zimbabwe, the under-five mortality
rate has, over the past few years, risen from 77 to 100 per 1 000 live
births due to a number of factors, among them lack of immunisation.

She and others members of  her religious sect believe that if a child gets
diseases such as measles, the best treatment was for the parents to abstain
from sex during the illness.

Dambudzo, whose late husband was in a polygamous relationship, said if the
other wives continued to indulge in sex, the child would continue to be
“If you take your child to the clinic, the Holy Spirit will find out and the
prophets will know and you won’t enter the gates at church,” she said. “You
are therefore supposed to confess and repent and then be cleansed before you
are accepted back in church.”

The sect, which believes in polygamy, claims that HIV which causes Aids does
not exist among the righteous and dedicated  members of the church.
Ignoring the fact that the practice of polygamy and  wife inheritance can
spread the virus, their line of defence is that  “mweya” (holy spirit) can
detect one’s HIV status.

The ultra-conservative gro-ups Johanne Marange, Johanne Masowe and Madhidha,
all view death as the will of the “Holy Spirit” even if the cause of death
was some ailment that could be treated.

These groups experience  higher levels of maternal and infant mortality and
morbidity compared to other religions.

The Zimbabwe Demographic and Health Survey held a few years ago noted that
poor health outcomes among apostolic women and children were linked to low
or poor utilisation of modern maternal and child health care by its members.

Manicaland has the highest child mortality in the country as it is the home
of most members of the apostolic sect.

World Health Organisation representative Dr Custodia Mandlhate said in 2010
they convinced some conservative members in the province to get their
children immunised to reduce the high  child mortality rates in the area.

“It was a struggle to convince them to get their children immunised.
Religion is passed from generation to generation so it is hard to fully
convert them to subscribe to modern health care facilities,”  she said.

Prayers more powerful

A recent  study by the Collaborating Centre for Operational Research
Evaluation (Ccore) and United Nations Children’s Fund (Unicef)  revealed
that  the spiritualisation of illness and diseases made the apostolic sect
members reject modern health facilities since they perceived these to be of
no benefit to the matters of the spirit.

“We weigh and consider which is more powerful; prayers or modern medicines,”
said a 57 year old women member of the church. “That is why most members of
the apostolic churches would rather use healing sessions at the church
rather than hospitals.”

Naomi (18) said if members of the sect fell ill due to “evil spirits” or
other diseases they were not allowed to seek treatment at modern health
“We go to prophets who will pray for us and give us holy water until we are
cured. Witchcraft and evil spirits cause these illnesses,” she said.

Unicef representative in Zimbabwe, Dr Peter Salama said pneumonia and
diarrhoea were the two  biggest killers of children under the age of five in
the country.

“The introduction of the two life-saving vaccines against these diseases are
a step towards ensuring child survival,” he said.

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No imminent privatisation of parastatals: PM

Saturday, 28 April 2012 16:54

PRIME Minister Morgan Tsvangirai says government is not in a hurry to
privatise loss-making parastatals as this will expose Zimbabweans to
exorbitant utility rates.

Addressing an International Business Conference in Bulawayo, which ran
concurrently with the just ended Zimbabwe International Trade Fair (ZITF),
Tsvangirai said there was a general misconception about parastatals.

“There are those parastatals that are of a social nature, those that provide
services such as electricity and water,” he said.

“Those we will continue to protect because they provide an essential
service. If we privatise them, we would be exposing the people to exorbitant
rates, so we will continue protecting them.”

Government has over the years continued to protect water and electricity
provision arguing that they are strategic sectors, but services have
continued to deteriorate leading to calls for privatisation.

As part of measures aimed at improving parastatals’ operational efficiency,
government prioritised the privatisation and commercialisation of 10
entities in 2010.

However, State Enterprises and Parastatals minister, Gorden Moyo, has
previously blamed line ministries and management for lack of commitment
towards completing the restructuring process.

Critics say most of Zimbabwe’s parastatals have been ruined by poorly
qualified managers, many aligned to Zanu PF, who were put in charge of the
government-controlled firms because of their political connections rather
than technical expertise.

Zimbabwe has 78 parastatals, which at full capacity can contribute 40%
towards the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

“Yes, there are those parastatals that need to be privatised because the
government does not need to be in business. Business should be business.

Why should the government be in manufacturing? Therefore, those parastatals
that are in manufacturing should be privatised,” said Tsvangirai.

Parastatals have continued to be dogged by challenges that include
undercapitalisation, obsolete infrastructure, low capacity utilisation, lack
of working capital caused by low debt collection, outstanding long-term
loans, non-compliance, lack of good corporate governance and the existence
of substantial inter-parastatal debts.

The premier said government would identify firms that it could enter
partnerships with.

Suggestions were made at the conference that all heads of ailing state
enterprises be fired.

Contributing to the discussion, Deputy Prime minister Arthur Mutambara told
delegates that in China, parastatal bosses who continued making losses would
be viewed as economic saboteurs and shot.

“In China such bosses are treated as economic saboteurs. They are shot dead,
but we should not do that here,” he said.

The government has lined up 10 firms for privatisation that include the
Grain Marketing Board, fixed-telephone line operator, TelOne and its sister
cellular company, NetOne, Cold Storage Company, Allied Timbers, Air Zimbabwe
and Agribank among others.

Most parastatals’ operations have recently come under the spotlight, owing
to continued losses incurred despite continued assistance from fiscal

Tsvangirai says farmers need leases

Meanwhile, Tsvangirai said government should give farmers leases in order to
facilitate their access to capital.

He said the new black farmers continued to fail to produce enough to feed
the nation because of lack of capital, as their land was not  “bankable.”

“I cannot over-emphasise the need for government to move with speed to
restore the collateral value of land and other commercial assets to leverage
our natural heritage. One of the reasons our farmers and indigenous
entrepreneurs have not been as successful, is the failure to access the
much-needed capital as land remains a dead asset with huge potential for
financial leverage,”  Tsvangirai said.

Government once released 99-year-leases, but these have been criticised as
not being bankable because of clauses in the offer letters. The 99-year
leases do not give rights to banks to grab land once the lessee defaults on
loan repayment. Instead, the minister of lands is the one with powers to
repossess land.

Agricultural experts have said the lack of secure land tenure has been a
major disincentive to those who want to invest in agriculture, saying this
was the reason why much of the once productive land is either lying idle or
producing very little.

The Commercial Farmers Union (CFU) has previously stated that agrarian
reforms rendered land dead capital, as it could no longer be used as
security when applying for loans for farming activities. — BY NQOBANI NDLOVU

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Informal traders, registered businesses at loggerheads

Saturday, 28 April 2012 16:43

FORMAL business investors in Mutare have complained that they are being
pushed out of business by the informal sector through competitive threats
posed by cheaper products and services.
The growth in informal trading was exacerbated by the closure of major
industries and the scaling down of operations by some companies in the
eastern border city during the past few years.

The period from 2007 to 2009 saw major companies that include, Mutare Board
and Paper Mills (MBPM), ZimBoard and Plate Glass (PG), among others, closing
down. The remaining companies like Tanganda Holdings, Cairns Foods, Wattle
Company and Border Timbers scaled down their operations, resulting in more
employees losing their jobs, the majority of whom, have now entered into
informal trading.

In an interview with The Standard last week, a Mutare shop owner, Shaquil
Ahmed said: “I understand that there are no jobs, but now almost everyone is
involved in the informal business. We have been pushed out of business, as
some of the informal traders are selling wares that I also sell, just in
front of my shop.”

There has been an influx of informal traders, who are selling their products
on shop pavements. People have also been witnessing a huge rise of “mobile”
restaurants, which thrive on door-to-door delivery of food .

A restaurant operator, Farai Zinyemba, accused unregistered food operators
of creating disorder in the fast-foods sector.

“Informal traders are selling food openly in the streets and there are too
many backyard restaurants. Others are even going door- to-door selling food
in lunch boxes,” he said.

Zinyemba urged city fathers and the police to address the situation before
more registered operators are pushed out of business. But some informal
traders said they were only providing competition to the registered
operators, whose goods and services were highly overpriced.

City of Mutare Town Clerk, Obert Muzawazi, said council was also concerned
by the uncontrolled growth of the informal sector, which has brought

“Yes, I admit that there have been a rising number of the informal traders
of late and this has been caused by the closure of companies,” he said.

“We have seen a situation where shop owners in the formal trade are refusing
to pay rates, as they say the municipal police should arrest the informal
traders that are operating in front of shops and pavements. We can work with
the police, but it has become extremely difficult for us.”

council appeals to govt for help

Muzawazi said council in Mutare was encouraging the government to implement
national programmes geared towards economically empowering informal traders.

“We require government funding to build market stalls or incubators in the
city and high-density suburbs so that their business becomes formal,” he

Muzawazi said council had allocated land to some businesses to start major
projects, but due to corruption and political interference, these have
failed to kick-off.

He said the government should speed up efforts to fund small to medium
enterprise activities in the city in order to give birth to a strong
economic base that can sustain the city and the country at large.

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RTG workers go for four months without salaries

Saturday, 28 April 2012 16:41

VICTORIA FALLS — OVER 100 workers employed by the Rainbow Tourism Group
(RTG) at its Matetsi Water and Chikumi lodges in the resort town of Victoria
Falls, say they have gone for four months without being paid their salaries
as the group is currently in the process of disposing of its facilities.
Last month, outgoing Chief Executive Officer, Chipo Mtasa, told an analyst’s
briefing that the group will exit its loss-making tour operations in order
to concentrate on the core hotel business.

Touch the Wild Lodges, Tourism Services Zimbabwe and Matetsi Water Lodge are
among six operations earmarked for disposal in a development expected to
raise US$2,5 million for the group. Disgruntled workers last week said they
were last paid in December, complaining that they were now failing to pay
school fees for their children, as well as water and electricity bills.

They said electricity and water at the lodges had been disconnected due to
non-payment for utility services.

“We are now drinking unpurified water from Zambezi River, which is posing a
serious health hazard to us,” said one worker.

Officials from the hospitality group said RTG owes US$46 000 to the National
Parks and Wild Life Management in outstanding rentals. “Matetsi Water Lodge
has entered into an agreement with the National Parks regarding outstanding
rentals and as such, has commenced making the necessary payments. The lodge
has also engaged Zesa in a bid to come up with payment plans to settle
outstanding amounts,” said an RTG official.

RTG Corporate and Communications manager, Eltah Nengomasha, confirmed that
Matetsi Water and Chikumi Lodges were currently “distressed.” She could
however not be drawn into giving details about the problem facing the

The performance of Touch the Wild lodges, Tourism Services Zimbabwe and
Matetsi Water Lodge remained depressed as at the end of December 2011,
thereby reducing group profits from operations by US$916 741.

Plans to dispose of the loss-making operations were already at an advanced
stage and the transactions would be concluded by June this year.
“The Lodges have been facing viability challenges that resulted in reduced
revenue, making it difficult for the company to pay its employees
 timeously,” said an official.

“Plans have been made to pay workers from cash generated by other operations
while efforts are being made to rectify the situation as the Group concludes
the disposal of the lodges.”

RTG is reportedly negotiating for the employees to be taken aboard by the
new owners. “We have found a buyer who does not want to take over the
workers and we are still negotiating on that,” said the source.

Irate workers called for government intervention to assist in resolving
their problems at the company.

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