Fuel crisis spreads . . . Vincent Kahiya ZIMBABWE'S
fuel is grossly underpriced and government has been paying billions of
dollars weekly in subsidies in a bid to suppress price increases of the
commodity. A rise in the price of fuel is considered inflationary and could
negate government's illusory economic turnaround.
This comes as
government, which is sounding increasingly desperate over the latest bout of
shortages, has commissioned a consortium of local businesspeople to carry
out a feasibility study to revive the ancient Feruka oil refinery in
The Zimbabwe Independent can reveal that government has plans
to revive the plant this year, funds permitting. But petro-chemical
engineers this week said the plan was "pie in the sky" as it would be more
cost-effective to build a new plant.
The government price for
petrol and diesel is currently $3 600 a litre while in South Africa, the
forecourt price of both petrol and diesel is around R5 a litre. This
translates to $5 000 at the official rate and more than $15 000 a litre at
the parallel market rate. The wholesale price of petrol in South Africa is
R4,61 ($4 610 at the official rate).
Fuel merchants this week said
after factoring in transport costs, fuel can be landed in Zimbabwe at around
$5 000 (if forex secured at the official rate is used).
government is therefore paying almost $1 500 to subsidise every litre of
fuel sold at service stations. Zimbabwe normally consumes two million litres
of fuel daily.
So skewed is the pricing structure in the country
that a litre of fuel is cheaper than a bottle of mineral water ($9 000), a
fizzy drink ($8 000) or a 500 ml sachet of milk ($5 000).
selling fuel in front of Noczim House in the city centre charge as much as
$75 000 for a five-litre can of petrol instead of the official $18
Fuel marketers interviewed yesterday said the price of fuel
should be reviewed immediately.
"What the depressed price has
done is to make our margins small and forecourt business unviable," one
Government believes reviving the Feruka refinery will
be a panacea for the current problems the country is facing. President
Mugabe last week sought assistance from Indonesia to bring life to the plant
which was built in the early 1960s and was converted into a storage facility
This week, Speaker of Parliament John Nkomo was in Luanda,
Angola, as President Mugabe's special envoy. Diplomatic sources said Nkomo's
mission to Angola included the possibility of Angola supplying crude oil to
Zimbabwe and technical assistance on running a
Meanwhile, shortages continued this week with few service
stations receiving petrol in the capital. There was virtually no petrol at
service stations outside Harare.
Sources in the sector said there
was no petrol in reserve at Noczim's holding tanks. The sources said there
was no foreign currency to import fuel and the situation was degenerating
"Between October and March, there was about US$4 million a week
for fuel imports which was distributed between Noczim and the Petroleum
Marketers Association of Zimbabwe (PMAZ)," said a source at
"That money has disappeared and there is as little as US$1,2
million a week available these days."
Because of the country's
poor credit rating Zimbabwe has in the last five years failed to secure
lasting lines of credit to pay for fuel imports. Currently, the country is
doing "spot purchases" from ships anchored off the Mozambican
The Independent also heard this week that the centralised
procurement of fuel through PMAZ and the strict surveillance of import
licence holders meant that individuals could not organise their own forex
and bring in fuel.
"In the past one could go onto the parallel market,
buy forex and then import fuel," said a garage owner. "That explains why
last year fuel was available but at different prices. That is no longer
possible. If importers were given the go-ahead to import as individuals,
fuel would become readily available again," he said.
ZIMBABWE is set to face more power blackouts in the coming
weeks after a second power unit that supplies the country with over 220
megawatts broke down this week at Hwange Power Station, the Zimbabwe
Independent has heard.
This comes hard on the heels of a crippling
power shortage that has been affecting the country over the last three
weeks. The power utility Zesa has already started to ration electricity in
residential, industrial and farming areas.
There are fears that
the power cuts will adversely affect the production of winter wheat which
requires electricity to drive irrigation units.
breakdown comes a week after the first unit which supplies the country with
about 100 megawatts (MW) also packed in due to shortages of spare parts to
Zesa corporate affairs manager, Obert
Nyatanga, confirmed that the second unit at Hwange had broken down but said
the problem would be rectified after spares are acquired in the coming six
He said the first unit at Hwange was expected to be
operational tomorrow while the second unit that supplies more power to the
country would be ready in the coming six weeks.
He said the
unit that had a problem in Kariba was now rectified and the generators
powering the unit were now operational.
"We have had problems
with the units at Hwange Power Station and in Kariba but the units in Kariba
have been fixed and are now operational," Nyatanga said.
Zimbabwe gets electricity from Snel in the Democratic Republic of Congo
(DRC) and from Eskom in South Africa.
As a result of the
breakdown of the unit in Kariba, the country has not been getting adequate
electricity supplies from the DRC.
"At the moment we have both
units in Hwange down but we have managed to have the unit in Kariba back in
operation. We are trying by all means to procure parts for the units in
Hwange," Nyatanga said.
Meanwhile Nyatanga said Zesa was owed a
total of $178 billion by consumers.
States lawmakers on Capitol Hill have criticised President Robert Mugabe's
government as they examined the situation in Zimbabwe during a congressional
Zimbabwe's political and economic crisis, as well as setbacks to
civil liberties and human rights, have been the subject of intense concern
Last Thursday's hearing provided another opportunity
for lawmakers to
voice their views about what many believe to be a
Congressman Chris Smith, chairman of the House
Subcommittee on Africa and Global Human Rights, began with this observation
about Zimbabwe's long-serving president: "Robert Mugabe was a hero to his
people and his fellow Africans for successfully standing up to racism and
"More than two decades later, however, he has so tarnished
his image that it now must resemble the fictional portrait of Dorian Gray
showing an increasingly repugnant picture of a hero who has gone
Donald Payne, ranking Democrat on the sub-committee, said
developments in Zimbabwe have gone from great potential for good governance
and rule of law in the years following Independence to today's conditions of
He questioned whether an approach of isolating
Zimbabwe through sanctions and other steps has produced
"I think our policy and the policy of international
communities to isolate the
government of Zimbabwe, as we can see, has
not worked," he noted. "President Mugabe's behaviour over the past few years
has been deplorable."
Payne said the United States with help from
members of the African Union should continue to engage and press Mugabe to
Constance Berry Newman, Assistant Secretary of
State for African Affairs, repeated the US view that the March parliamentary
election in Zimbabwe was neither free nor fair, and listed the likely
"The result is a parliament that will continue to do the
bidding of Robert Mugabe and will not speak for all of the people of
Zimbabwe," she explained. "This means the challenges of unemployment, food
prices, refugees, limited investment, failure to address HIV and Aids will
Worst of all, Zimbabwe through this period may be on the brink
of another food emergency."
Greg Mills, former head of the South
African Institute of International Affairs, believes Mugabe aims to create a
facade of stability while moving to further strengthen his
Among steps the international community could take, Mills says,
strategic engagement by the United States, South Africa and other African
Union members, has the best chance of having some impact.
will crucially have to involve placing on the table an attractive recovery
package for Zimbabwe, including on (the issue of) land, and be conditional
on political reform, as well as an exit strategy for Mugabe," he said. "This
may usefully involve also the appointment of a US special envoy for
Mugabe rejected recent criticisms of the election results,
saying his government does not need what he called Anglo-American validation
and indicating Zimbabwe would look to China and other countries for help. -
turned to Zambia, Uganda and Tanzania for grain imports as the state Grain
Marketing Board (GMB) attempts to restock the country's dwindling maize and
Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare minister Nicholas
Goche confirmed to Irin that Zimbabwe had expanded its grain sources to
include these three countries, in addition to South Africa, the major
"We have been looking for more and more sources of grain,"
said Goche. "There are contracts that have been in existence but not in
force. We are reactivating those, and signing up new ones, to ensure that
food keeps coming.
"We received about 150 000 tonnes from South
Africa over the past month and we are expecting more deliveries from East
Goche, formerly the State Security minister, assumed his new
portfolio following a cabinet reshuffle last week.
government's admission came as economists said the country needed to import
at least 1,2 million tonnes of maize, 200 000 tonnes of wheat, and
unspecified tonnages of barley and sorghum to meet the country's immediate
Minister Goche said the country was expecting
to feed about 1,5 million people in seven mostly rural provinces, but could
not say whether there was a parallel relief programme for urban areas.
Although there were no responses from the embassies of the three source
countries, an official at the GMB procurement division told Irin that the
Zimbabwe-Uganda maize import deal was signed during President Yoweri
Museveni's visit to Zimbabwe last year.
Zimbabwe's newly appointed State Security minister, said he could not
divulge any details beyond what Goche had said, as food was a national
security issue. His ministry, which is responsible for the Central
Intelligence Organisation, has taken charge of the importation and
distribution of food.
"Why do you want to know where we get our
food?" said Mutasa. "I cannot tell you anything more than what you already
know because these are security issues. Besides, I am new in this ministry,
so I do not know much."
Zanu PF spokesman Nathan Shamuyarira said the
country needed at least $5 trillion (about US$818 million) for the immediate
importation of grains and cereals, and the government would divert money
from infrastructure development programmes to import food.
have been forced to divert resources from other projects to deal with the
immediate hunger situation. We are in a predicament. Food importation is our
priority at the moment," Shamuyarira told Irin.
Economists Eric Bloch
and John Robertson warned that the high cost of importing food would drive
up inflation and lead to a thriving alternative market for scarce foodstuffs
and foreign currency.
"The expanded government and (the proposed new)
Senate will both be a huge drain on the national fiscus, which does not have
foreign currency at present," said Bloch.
"It means spending on
the bureaucracy would compete with food importation for resources, but
government simply does not have such money - food importation alone will
cost the country tremendous sums of foreign currency between now and April
next year when the next harvest comes".
"The result will be a
resilient black market for scarce foodstuffs in both rural and urban areas;
there will also be a more stubborn foreign currency black market to fill up
where government is failing. The cost will be too high for our ailing
economy," he said.
He added that there was no hope that the country's
winter wheat-growing season, due to begin in late April, would improve the
food security situation until the next harvest.
the diversion of foreign currency into importing food would stall other
capital projects, costing the country heavily in terms of development; the
government needed to design long-term policies to counter the overall
economic meltdown, to solve the problem of food insecurity.
must be taken to deal with the shortage of foreign currency," said
"The causes of food insecurity can be traced back to
the collapse of the farming sector - the collapse of the tobacco, cotton,
timber and beef export industries. All attempts at ensuring food security
without addressing these problems will fail," he said.
noted in a recent report to the National Taskforce on Food Security that
rather than government's harvest estimate of 2,4 million tonnes, only 600
000 tonnes of grain had been delivered to its silos after the 2004 harvest.
The country needs 1,8 million tonnes of grain annually to meet domestic
Contrary to government estimates that 1,5 million
people would need some kind of food assistance, the Famine Early Warning
Systems Network last month warned that up to 4,5 million were in need of
immediate food aid. - Irin.
Constitution still 'colonial' Ray
Matikinye ZIMBABWE has gone through a raft of homegrown initiatives meant to
unshackle it from the vestiges of colonialism. It has engaged in political
hard slogs "never to be a colony again".
But one colonial trace has
stuck out stubbornly like a sore thumb and stands a good chance of becoming
a source of renewed internal conflict soon.
The absent item in the
"homegrown" cult is a constitution entirely crafted by Zimbabweans
An indigenous constitution is widely regarded as the
missing link between political and economic progress needed to lessen
current crises the country faces. Using a shredded constitution whose
numerous holes have been plugged by expedient piecemeal amendments does not
bode well for a country trying to hold its own in the world.
only time Zimbabweans were given an opportunity to craft their constitution
was after nearly 20 years of Independence, during the first half of which
the country was burdened with entrenched - or "sunset" - clauses inserted to
end hostilities at Lancaster House.
The 1999 draft was rejected by a
Constitutional expert, Professor Welshman Ncube
of the opposition MDC, says the draft was a fundamental departure from what
people had wanted.
Ncube, the MP for Bulawayo East, said the
constitution-making process was exclusive and inordinately weighed down by
inadequate consultation. One political party had sole control of the whole
"The Constitutional Commission went against the will of the
people by taking
what it wanted from consultations with them and leaving
out people's inputs it thought would offend government. As a result the
content of the final document differed fundamentally from what the people
had demanded," Ncube said.
And what the referendum mainly served
to do was to unleash retributive measures by the ruling party driven on by a
government fearful of losing its grip on power.
President Mugabe sounded magnanimous in accepting the people's verdict in
the 2000 referendum, Mugabe was stunned and stung to the core by the
The outcome of the referendum triggered a
political and social catastrophe. Restrictive laws that impinged on
democratic practices such as Posa and its bedfellow Aippa were railroaded
through parliament, whittling down personal liberties.
2000 referendum Zimbabwe has plunged into chaos that has bred a
long-standing political and human disaster. The referendum fallout has
spawned rampant inflation, intermittent shortages and widespread
unemployment as businesses closed down.
Chairman of the National
Constitutional Assembly (NCA), Lovemore Madhuku, predicts a new phase in
economic development and progress once a new constitution is in place. All
forces, he says, should be geared towards a new democratic constitution to
enable the country to prosper if one acceptable to all stakeholders is
crafted. "There is goodwill to get the economy back on its
"We have long appealed for people who have influence on Mugabe
to convince him and open avenues for the crafting of a new constitution. At
times we don't understand why Zanu PF seems not to appreciate the urgency of
the matter and its immense socio-economic benefits," says Madhuku who
believes a more democratic constitution opens the way for better governance
and immeasurable economic opportunities.
But in the aftermath of
a third disputed election the likely solution to the political impasse
appears to be agreement among the opposition MDC, the single-issue lobby
group and the government for a new, homegrown constitution.
governing Zanu PF has been surreptitiously pushing through constitutional
amendments, reinforcing the idea that a homegrown constitution is essential
to Zimbabwe's future democratic progress.
Justice minister, Patrick
Chinamasa, last week said he was consulting with the colleagues in Zanu PF
party on areas that they want amended.
President Mugabe hinted his
government would re-introduce portions of the Chidyausiku draft, which he
said the opposition MDC had agreed to "until they were persuaded not to
accept the document by their financiers".
But the NCA says it will
not stand idle while the Zanu PF central committee engages in groupthink to
craft a constitution on behalf of Zimbabweans. "In Zanu PF the only organ
that matters is the presidium. We do not want another constitution crafted
exclusively by the presidium," Madhuku says.
Unlike the ruling party's
approach of using its two-thirds parliamentary majority to cull "friendly"
sections of the rejected Chidyausiku draft, the NCA's stated approach is to
blend sections of its own draft and the Chidyausiku draft into a new
constitution sanctioned by the people.
"Any caring government must
pay heed to what the people want. We firmly believe the making of a
constitution should involve the majority of the people," says NCA
spokesperson, Jessie Majome.
Majome says her organisation believes in
a constitutional culture where the end product comes from the people
"It will be a cruel tragedy if the constitution is made
elsewhere without giving the people the right to choose. The South Africans
own their constitution and Zimbabweans deserve an opportunity to determine
their destiny as well," Majome added.
The opposition MDC has
belatedly realized that without a democratic constitution it would be almost
impossible to participate in future polls on an equal footing with the
ruling party, no matter what efforts it makes to bolster its popularity and
membership. It has realised that the Sadc Protocol on the conduct of free
and fair elections is no panacea to undemocratic electoral practices.
Health for all call an illusion for Harare Augustine
Mukaro/Grace Kombora "THE flatulence of an angry god," is how one resident
described the overpowering smell that was blasted into the atmosphere by the
malfunctioning Union Carbide pesticide plant in the Indian city of Bhopal in
Thousands of people died in the disaster and many continued to
succumb months after the incident. One would be forgiven for believing that
the offended god of Bhopal had relocated to the environs of Lake
This is not an angry deity but a collective effort of
commissioners running the city of Harare and councillors in
The sewerage treatment in Harare does not work while the
city's infrastructure continues to crumble as the commission running the
city has failed to turn around the fortunes of the politically manipulated
Raw sewage is flowing unchecked into the city's sources
of drinking water.
The dark sludge cascading towards the lake every day
is spreading to form green algae which are poisonous to fish which are dying
in their thousands daily.
The situation has been exacerbated by
Chitungwiza town council which has equally failed to deal with sewerage
problems. In Zengeza 3 and St Mary's, sewage flows in streams which empty
into Nyatsime and Manyame rivers and eventually into Lake
The same water is pumped into treatment plants in Norton
where it is supposed to be cleaned with chemicals to make it potable. The
chemicals are in short supply and the cleaning process is compromised. City
fathers and their mother at Town House contend that the water is safe,
perhaps because there are no tadpoles coming out of faucets but scientists
say dangerous microbes have taken shelter in the water. There are also
harmful heavy metals like lead in the water. It is dangerous to
A visit to Lake Chivero last week revealed that a health
crisis looms in Harare as pollution continues unabated. Chivero and
Darwendale supply water to the city of Harare.
Residents who live
in the vicinity of the lake said the Harare City Council was disposing of
raw sewage into Marimba River. Marimba feeds into Lake
"We have been living here for the past seven years and
have experienced the stench from the lake in the last two years," said one
"The city council is dumping sewerage into Marimba every
Environmentalists and health experts warn that Harare is sitting on
a time bomb. "Harare residents are drinking contaminated water and a health
hazard is looming," said John Rodrigues, chairman of the Zimbabwe
He said the rising levels of pollution in
Lake Chivero were continuing as incompetent people were running the affairs
of the city.
Harare is being run by a commission handpicked by Local
Government minister Ignatious Chombo. The commission has been overseeing the
day-to-day running of the city since the dismissal of elected mayor Elias
Mudzuri last year.
Mudzuri was elected mayor on a Movement for
Democratic Change ticket in 2002. Since Mudzuri's ouster service delivery in
the city has been in free-fall.
Ghastly sights of garbage piling
on street corners are common in both high and low-density areas with
residents saying rubbish had not been collected for months.
lame excuse from council was the shortage of fuel and the expiry of
contracts signed with private garbage collectors.
not collected refuse here for two months," a visibly angry Mbare Residents
Association chairman, Israel Mabhou, said.
"Our last option would be
to carry these bins and the rotting rubbish and dump them at Town House. We
are sick and tired of their excuses," he said, pointing to a smelly mountain
of rubbish between Matapi Flats and OK Zimbabwe supermarket behind
Mabhou blamed the Makwavarara-led commission for the
collapse of the city's infrastructure.
Rodrigues said the city
was overpopulated and this was impacting on the sewerage treatment
Health experts say the prevalence of contaminated water is a
boon for water borne diseases.
The chairperson of Combined Harare
Residents Association (CHRA) Mike Davies said there was a need for a
democratically-elected commission, accountable to Harare
"People need to democratically select a commission for
themselves," he said.
Davies went on: "The issue of clean water is
not a question of technically purifying the water but a need to examine the
Most residents blamed the city council for the dirty
water which spurts through their taps.
"The commission running
the city council is insensitive to the health of Harare residents," said one
One analyst echoed the same sentiments when he said:
"Health for all by the year 2010 does not apply to Harare
Arcadia Residents Association representative, Angus
Martens, said residents and companies had turned Mukuvisi River banks into
"There are no council services to talk of," Martens
said. "Homeowners and companies in this neighbourhood have resorted to
dumping rubbish along the Mukuvisi River and the open space behind the
National Railways of Zimbabwe main station."
He blamed the
crumbling council service delivery system on political interference by
The Zimbabwe Independent crew discovered that it
was only a matter of time before an outbreak of disease hits Tafara-Mabvuku
as residents have resorted to drinking unclean water from streams in the
suburbs. The streams' main sources of water have been sewers and water from
Leslie Gwindi, the city council spokesperson, denied
allegations that the water was dirty saying the city provides treated water.
Government recently said it was taking over the sewerage and water provision
tasks in the two urban centres but the situation has not improved. It is
actually getting worse.
In Harare, suburbs in the east of the city
have been without water for more than two weeks.
'Government has no mandate for change' Conrad
Dube GOVERNMENT does not have a popular mandate needed to change the
constitution, says MDC secretary-general, Welshman Ncube.
Zanu PF lacked a popular mandate as it failed to garner an elected
two-thirds majority from the hotly disputed results of the March general
He also said without popular local co-operation and
international support, it would be impossible for the Zanu PF government to
repair the dilapidated infrastructure and crumbling
Ncube said Zimbabwe's problems would be compounded if Zanu
PF opted to unilaterally change the constitution. He said this would widen
political divisions in the country, which was detrimental to
"Zanu PF has no mandate to change the constitution because it
failed to get a two-thirds elected majority in the election," Ncube said.
"The party only enjoys a numerical two-thirds but lacks popular
"Unilateral constitutional changes by Zanu PF will only
widen the political rift in the country. It is therefore not in their best
interests to do so," he said.
The ruling party has indicated that it
will institute several amendments to the constitution. Some quarters have
said the party may attempt to bring some of the changes that were in the
draft constitution rejected in a referendum in 2000.
said "it will be folly of the highest order for Zanu PF to bring the
amendments to parliament".
He said there was urgent need to restore
democracy to allow all
Zimbabweans to contribute towards the
resuscitation of the ailing economy. Ncube said the much-talked about
economic turnaround appeared only in the public media and nowhere
Zanu PF, which enjoys a numerical majority thanks to a
constitutional provision that allows President Robert Mugabe to appoint 30
non-constituency MPs, failed to get the elected two-thirds majority it
needed to constitute a popular mandate, Ncube said.
"We need to
resolve the political crisis by restoring democracy through the conduct of
democratic elections. Zanu PF will not succeed in resuscitating the economy
as they lack a popular mandate," he said.
Ncube spoke as fuel queues
returned and the black market on basic food commodities took hold as shops
emptied. Retailers have started reporting slow traffic into the shops as the
black market takes its toll.
Electricity blackouts have become
routine while the ruling elite concentrates on consolidating the largely
invisible "gains of 25 years of Independence".
Ncube also said people
must ensure that food is not distributed along party lines, otherwise
politicisation of food would persist.
"People must stop Zanu PF from
expropriating national resources for political gain," he
The MDC is currently engaged in consultations with its members
on the way forward after the election which it alleges was stolen by Zanu
PF. Almost all the provinces will have been consulted by month end and the
executive committee will meet either in the first week or second week of May
to consider the outcome of the consultative process, Ncube
"The MDC will not sit back on mobilisation of the people
but we have realised that we cannot put one million people on the streets to
demonstrate against government and the ruling party. We need to take this
struggle as a long-haul effort to push for the re-democratisation of
Zimbabwe," Ncube added.
The MDC, according to Ncube, was not
pushing for talks with Zanu PF. "There is no chance for talks with Zanu PF
although we know that some people want comfort without a struggle. Such
people mistake the purpose of struggle for dialogue and yet dialogue must be
born out of a struggle.
"A stalemate in the struggle will then lead to
dialogue. This is where we differ with the South Africans who want us to
substitute the struggle for dialogue. We will engage in a struggle which
will make the Zimbabwe government see that there is no future without
dialogue," Ncube said.
He however refused to shed light on what form
the struggle would take and when it will take place, preferring to say "we
will not forewarn them. We reserve the right to choose the manner and timing
of the struggle."
Bid to oust ZCTU leaders fails Loughty Dube AN
ATTEMPT by state security agents to remove the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade
Unions (ZCTU) leadership and replace it with one that is pro-government
failed after the majority of its members refused to fall for the
machinations of a rowdy group of youths bussed down from
Chaos ensued at a Bulawayo hotel last Saturday after about 50
youths, allegedly led by a senior intelligence officer, manhandled three
ZCTU senior officials and ordered them out of the venue of the general
ZCTU president Lovemore Matombo, first
vice-president Lucia Matibenga and secretary-general Wellington Chibebe were
assaulted by the youths who were allegedly bussed to Bulawayo to disrupt the
Sources this week said government was funding some of the
affiliates and using them in a plan to oust the ZCTU leadership ahead of the
International Labour Organisation (ILO) conference in Geneva.
ILO conference will be held at the beginning of June and government fears
that the current ZCTU leadership will present a damning report on trade
union rights abuses and human rights violations in the country.
the chaos in Bulawayo last week, a faction of four affiliates announced that
the Matombo leadership had been suspended and a committee was set up to run
the affairs of the union until the ZCTU leadership had been investigated for
corruption. But Chibebe this week said his executive had the support of the
majority of unions and was therefore still in charge.
MDC unable to import grain Augustine Mukaro THE
opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) says it has secured funding
to purchase maize but cannot import the commodity because of restrictive
government laws on grain handling.
MDC Agriculture spokesman Renson
Gasela said his party had identified the grain in South Africa and secured
funds to purchase it but could not bring the maize into the country because
of the Grain Marketing Board (GMB) monopoly to import and trade in grain and
other grain products.
"We want to import more than 200 000 tonnes of
maize to help food-insecure people throughout the country," Gasela
"We put up a fund to which people have willingly donated but
now we cannot import the maize before government gives us a go
The government-controlled GMB has a monopoly to import or
trade in grain and other grain products.
"In the interest of the
nation, the MDC has resolved to engage government so that maize can be
availed to the people according to their requirements," he
In 2002, government confiscated MDC imported grain at the
Beitbridge border post after the government declared that the import was
illegal. Food has become a serious political issue in Zimbabwe with the
opposition accusing the government of politicising relief aid. The
government on the other hand has now said there is a food deficit after
almost six months of denying the need to import maize.
Zesn report stings ZEC Godfrey Marawanyika THE
Zimbabwe Election Support Network (Zesn) has produced a damming report on
the outcome of the disputed parliamentary poll saying its findings reflect a
variation of results in five constituencies.
Zesn's comprehensive final
report, titled "Statistical pattern analysis and hypothesis testing of the
2005 parliamentary election in Zimbabwe" (April 22), said although the
ruling party won against the MDC, the results do not tally.
major findings in this report using Zesn data at polling station level only
in which the organisation had a high number of observers show that the ZEC
results which indicated that Zanu PF won, vary with the Zesn pattern in five
constituencies - Chipinge South, Buhera South, Makoni East, Mutasa South and
Gwanda," the report said.
"The other three constituencies - Gweru
Rural, Harare South and Zhombe - also show some inconsistencies between ZEC
results and Zesn data although Zesn had few observers in those
The disputed election results gave Zanu PF 78 seats, the MDC
41 and an independent candidate 1.
Other disputed constituencies
"of interest" cited in the Zesn report are Chipinge North, Chimanimani,
Kariba, Chegutu, Bikita East, Matobo East, Hwange East, Gutu South, Masvingo
Central, Kwekwe and Mutasa South "where the results show a close contest
between the MDC and Zanu PF".
The MDC is already contesting 13 seats
and has submitted its complaints to the Electoral Court.
preliminary findings, Zesn raised concerns about the location of some
polling stations in not-so-neutral areas.
"Even though Zanu PF
and MDC won with huge margins in some constituencies, the ZEC results and
Zesn data show inconsistencies," it said.
During the election, Zesn
deployed 6 000 observers countrywide but not all witnessed
The report said statistically, it was an accepted fact that
any percentage differences between any two numbers of 5% or greater was
"Usually in most cases, the count observed by independent
bodies tallies perfectly with announced results," the report
"However, the Zimbabwe 2005 election results prevents this due
to the following reasons: the major one is the non-availability of data
regarding postal votes, (and) limited access and transparency in tabulation
of results at constituency and national level," the report said.
Mahoso/ANZ meeting cancelled Roadwin Chirara THE
Media and Information Commission (MIC) has postponed indefinitely a meeting
with the Associated Newspapers of Zimbabwe (ANZ) management originally
scheduled for today.
The meeting had been called by the media regulatory
body to discuss the application for a licence lodged by the publishers of
the Daily News and the Daily News on Sunday.
ANZ chief executive
officer, Sam Nkomo, confirmed the company had received a communication from
the MIC on the meeting but said he had not received the letter about the
cancellation as he was out of the country.
"I am currently in Jo'burg
and I am not aware if any other letter was sent to us besides the one
talking about the meeting tomorrow," said Nkomo.
He said the letter
the company had received raised concerns over the
to the MIC, especially its ability to meet the commission's requirements for
"The letter we have received raises a lot of issues and
new requirements that we have to meet before we are registered, but it is
silent on the meeting," said Nkomo. "If any other letter has come I will
find out when I get back home," said Nkomo.
Tafataona Mahoso could not be reached for comment yesterday as he was said
to be in a board meeting.
The latest twist in the Daily News saga
comes after President Robert Mugabe said that no paper would be denied a
licence if it met the requirements of the regulatory authorities.
Mugabe mortgages economy - analysts Shakeman
Mugari ZIMBABWE'S "Look East" policy will not rescue the country from its
current economic crisis so long as it is seen as an alternative to Western
aid and trade or geared towards importing substandard goods. Zimbabwe
adopted the Look East policy two years ago to spite the West after a series
of diplomatic stand-offs with traditional European trading partners over
human rights abuses and the breakdown of the rule of law. European Union
countries imposed selective sanctions on President Robert Mugabe, his
ministers and cronies in protest at a stolen election in 2002. Mugabe turned
to the East to source lines of credit and to help him revive an ailing
economy. But analysts are sceptical that the Look East drive will pay
dividends as it is founded on an uneven trading field heavily tilted in
favour of China and other Asian countries. Local manufacturers say
Zimbabwe-China relations resemble that of a rider and a horse. They say
Mugabe is blindly mortgaging key sectors of the economy to the Chinese who
by virtue of their emerging economic muscle will swamp the Zimbabwean
economy. Eventually the Chinese will hold Zimbabwe hostage because they are
not in the business of charity - or even solidarity - but profits, experts
warn. There are fears Zimbabwe could soon turn into a dumping ground for
China's substandard exports in the textiles, electronics, telecoms and
avionics sectors. Chinese companies are set to tighten their grip on
Zimbabwe's military supplies sector as the country cracks under an arms
embargo from European countries. Their buses are already falling apart on
urban routes. The retail sector is reeling under a barrage of inferior goods
from China. The Chinese imports have also rendered the fragile local
manufacturing sector unviable with their cheap commodities that have not led
to any meaningful impact on the country's 70% unemployment rate. Apart
from the larger imports, other Chinese products being pushed onto the local
market include footware, kitchen utensils, clothing and bicycles. Zimbabwe
now imports products which are manufactured locally like matches, cooking
oil and washing powder. Chinese companies have moved into the market
aggressively as they take advantage of Zimbabwe's desperate situation. In a
rush to be seen to be reaping benefits from the new policy, Zimbabwe has
marginalised local producers who are already struggling under the unbalanced
economies of scale, analysts say. This wholesale embracing of Chinese
products has irked industrial players who accuse government of engaging in
political calculations at the expense of the economy. Zimbabwe National
Chamber of Commerce (ZNCC) president Luxon Zembe said Zimbabwe was
destroying its manufacturing sector because of its blinkered approach to the
Chinese. "Zimbabwean manufactures cannot be expected to compete against the
Chinese. China has big economies of scale which we don't have. We must not
be parochial in our approach," Zembe said. He said the government's
political approach to the issue over-exposed the economy. "The textile
and retail sectors are in trouble because of those (Chinese) products. We
risk destroying our own economy," he said. Retail companies have borne the
brunt of the Chinese products. Bigger companies like Edgars, Truworths and
Bata have also come under pressure from the substandard footware and fashion
that has been dumped on Zimbabwe. A snap survey shows that almost one in
every two shops in Harare's CBD is selling Chinese products at 40% lower than
the conventional outlets. "The problem with our leaders is that they don't
look at the economy strategically," Zembe said. "They must not allow
Zimbabwe to be a free-for-all economy where inferior products just flood the
market to the detriment of our manufacturers." The troubled Zimbabwe
United Passenger Company (Zupco) recently bought 50 buses from a Chinese
company, FAW. The purchase was made despite the existence of other local bus
manufacturers that had tendered for the supply. The imported buses, which
experts say are not suitable for Zimbabwe's roads, have already started
breaking down. They have also proven to be a heavy financial burden, as they
require Zupco to import experts to train local mechanics. About 10 of the
buses broke down within a week of their arrival in the country, indicating
that there was no due diligence before Zupco bought the buses. The
"zhing-zhong" boom has also gripped the state security forces. The Air Force
of Zimbabwe last week bought six K-8 jet trainers from China. The K-8 is a
less expensive replica of the British-made Hawk, which originally formed the
core of Zimbabwe's airfleet before the arms embargo, which led to Britain
refusing to supply the country with spare parts. The army also received
armoured personnel carriers while the police acquired anti-riot gear, mobile
water cannons and other equipment. Crisis-ridden parastatals are also feeding
at the Chinese trough barter deals whose benefits are yet to be
seen. Hwange Colliery Company recently signed a barter deal with China North
Industries Corporation (Norinco). Hwange will supply coke and coal to the
company in exchange for earth-moving equipment and trucks. Tel*One is
also on the verge of acquiring mobile phone network equipment from China's
Huawei Technologies. National Railways of Zimbabwe is said to be in the
process of finalising a deal to buy wagons from China. The power utility,
Zesa, also has a fleet of vehicles from China in addition to the pending
deal to rehabilitate the Hwange power station. Air Zimbabwe will soon be
flying "zhing-zhong" planes on domestic and regional routes after the
acquisition of two 60-seater MA60 aircraft. Zimbabwe is the first country to
fly the planes since they were placed on the international market. Their
durability has not been put to practical test elsewhere in the world. The
Chinese have also done little toward development of big business that
creates employment. They are content with going into established business
especially the parastatals where they are guaranteed political protection by
the government. They are also content with cash businesses without a
long-term approach to set up permanent structures that contribute to the
infrastructure. First vice secretary-general of the Zimbabwe Congress of
Trade Unions (ZCTU), Collen Gwiyo, said the influx of Chinese entrepreneurs
would lead to an unregulated industry, which becomes accountable to
politicians instead of proper government structures. "An unregulated
industry does not pay tax and it is a recipe for cheap labour - that is
dangerous for the welfare of the workers," Gwiyo said. "Already there is a
problem where these guys are paying starvation salaries - that is because
they are not regulated." It is not clear whether the Chinese businesses
dotted around the city are paying tax. Chinese industry is notorious for low
wages and the same trend is now encroaching into Zimbabwe. Analysts said
the government's Look East programme was a fallacy because it was not based
on proper strategies designed to maximize benefits from the deals. He said
in turning to the East the government has neglected key European market
trading partners that still consume the bulk of the country's
projects. Business in Zimbabwe still relies on European and North
American markets for survival. Even listed companies are still battling to
push their commodities into Europe instead of China. "Europe remains the
biggest consumer of our horticulture products, while regional countries also
take products from our industry. It's all political," said an economics
lecturer from the University of Zimbabwe. Perhaps the irony of the Look East
approach is that same Asian countries that Zimbabwe befriends are
desperately knocking on the doors of European and North American countries
to be let into their markets. Despite its political differences with the US,
China has aggressively pushed its products into that market. Unlike the
South African government that works closely with business in foreign
ventures, Mugabe normally sidelines business leaders when he signs foreign
investment deals. South Africa has moved aggressively into Angola and
Mozambique because of the proper structures of cooperation between
government and business.
Nothing definitive about Mugabe's retirement By John O
Chakona MOST people, especially in the media, have taken President Mugabe's
recent statement in Jakarta about the possibility of his retirement in 2008
as definitive. I want to argue that there is nothing definitive in that
statement and Mugabe's intentions about retiring have remained as
non-committal as before.
First, it is important to note that in spite
of widespread anticipation among the public and the media that Mugabe will
step down at the expiry of his current term in 2008, he has never
categorically said so. All he has said in the past is that he will see his
current term of office through, and the closest he has come to say about not
standing for re-election in 2008 is that he will consider
Mugabe's position on the issue of retiring has been
transient and he has so far not clearly indicated that he will not stand for
re-election in 2008. Even in his Jakarta statement, it is important to note
that Mugabe carefully crafted his words. He said that it was "his intention
to retire", suggesting that he still has not made a decision on whether he
will run for president in 2008 or not. To quote him verbatim: "I have said
it before that when my term ends, I will retire. I still have to do three
years and we will look at that after the three years but it is my intention
In other words, what Mugabe is saying is that he still
has not made up his mind about retiring. If, by 2008, he still feels he has
the energy to go on or the "people urge him to continue", he can still stand
On the important issue of succession, Mugabe also
maintained that he will not choose his successor. As he has indicated
before, people should be allowed to choose the leader who will succeed him.
In principle, this is noble since it is not Mugabe's right or that of any
president to hand-pick a successor. But in our case, Mugabe has not offered
the people of Zimbabwe any free opportunity to choose their own leaders.
Within Zanu PF, he and his inner circle have always vetoed any decisions and
developments which he is not comfortable with, including grassroots choices
for representatives in parliament and the party's central
Mugabe has persistently blocked debate on his succession and
those who have spoken openly about it have been castigated and kicked out of
the party. The Zanu PF national congresses at which this matter should be
deliberated have been manipulated to ensure that delegates simply
rubber-stamp what Mugabe and his close associates decide.
December 2003 annual conference in Masvingo, when some of the delegates
tried to raise the issue of succession, Mugabe ruled that his retirement was
not open to debate, telling his supporters he would return to tell them so
when he wanted to leave office. "Have I come to you yet, no," said Mugabe
then. He also argued that the issue of his retirement will only be discussed
when the people would have raised it. Ironically, the same delegates to the
conference were the very representatives of the "people" Mugabe likes to
refer to every time he has to justify his unpopular decisions. The question
which then begs to be answered is: what really constitute the "people" in
At the beginning of 2004, the issue of succession was
briefly opened up for debate in the party, but when it started to emerge
that the favourite candidates were not necessarily what Mugabe had in mind,
he abruptly put a lid on the issue. Justifying his unilateral decision, he
argued that the issue was causing power struggles which were dividing the
party. "They are fighting and some are even going to consult with
witchdoctors. Even educated people are seeking the consultation of N'angas
(witchdoctors) expecting to be possible candidates," said Mugabe in his
interview with the Kenyan newspaper, the East African Standard. But is it
not inevitable that in any open competition for any position there are bound
to emerge competing groups?
Those who have publicly declared
their interest in succeeding him have all been ruthlessly maligned, the
latest casualty being Jonathan Moyo, who until recently was Mugabe's
spin-doctor but has been sent into political exile for supporting Emmerson
Mnangagwa's presidential ambitions. All those who supported Mnangagwa in his
attempt to position himself for the eventual takeover, among them the six
provincial chairpersons of Zanu PF, have been dealt with
The late Eddison Zvobgo was similarly sidelined from
government and suffered political ostracism following his remarks on the
At the moment, the issue of Mugabe's retirement from active
politics has been effectively sidelined in the internal discourse of Zanu
PF. What has emerged, instead, is a new discourse aimed at ensuring Mugabe's
"life presidency". This discourse is being promoted by senior Zanu PF party
officials, significantly among them Vice President Joseph Msika and the
recently promoted Dydmus Mutasa, who is now in charge of the crucial
Ministry of State Security.
Speaking at the 2004 Zanu PF
congress, Msika argued: "There are some people that are saying it is time
for President Mugabe to go. To go where? He should rule even if it means he
is walking with the aid of a walking stick. He is the father of this nation;
he is entitled to rule us forever. People still want him to continue ruling,
so who are we to ask him to go?"
The over 10 000 delegates to the
Zanu PF congress reportedly responded to Msika's statement by ululating and
stamping their feet on the ground, implying that they approved of the idea
of making Mugabe life president.
The issue of life presidency was
supported by Reverend Obediah Msindo, a clergyman who heads Destiny of
Africa Network, an obscure religious organisation with close links to Zanu
PF, who stated in his opening prayer at the congress that President Mugabe
should rule until kingdom come. "It's my prayer that President Mugabe should
live longer to deliver us to the promised land. President Mugabe and Zanu PF
should remain a permanent ruling party for this country," he
The "life presidency agenda" has also been echoed among the
liberation war veterans and chiefs. The war veterans association has already
said it wants Mugabe to "be there until he dies" and that it will push for
that agenda in Zanu PF.
At their meeting with Mugabe at Great
Zimbabwe towards the end of 2004, the 200 chiefs who turned up from all over
the country reportedly endorsed his candidature for the presidency in 2008.
Explaining their decision, Mugabe had this to say: "I know why the chiefs
endorsed me. It is because they know the consequences the country will face
in terms of good and firm leadership should I retire."
important constituencies and leading members of Zanu PF, especially those
who have benefited most from Mugabe's political patronage, have been
imploring him to continue as president for many more years to come is not
debatable. What can be debated is unanimity within Zanu PF on the issue and
the extent of Mugabe's hand in promoting that agenda.
*John O Chakona
is a PhD candidate in political studies at the University of Cape Town
The meltdown continues unabated By Walter Hurley IT
is a matter of some tragic amusement when one reads or hears about the
planned or alleged economic recovery in Zimbabwe. Purported recuperation
think-tanks continue to talk rather than do the walk towards addressing the
main fundamental issues head-on.
Solving one major problem usually
solves many other dependent and unresolved issues thereafter. A political
solution for Zimbabwe is mandatory to rescue the nation. It urgently needs
to qualify to re-join the international community or else its fate is
The typical conflicting messages often heard are that the
International Monetary Fund is either an idiot or a saviour; that the
property market, inflation rates, industry, the stock exchange, mining, food
supply, agriculture and tourism are declining or are actually alleged to be
What is consistent is that the national
infrastructure, employment levels, debt levels, international
creditworthiness, fundamental rights, state institutions, investor
confidence, donor and aid support, forex availability, the real economy and
the Zimbabwe dollar are spiralling inevitably towards the creation of social
and economic collapse.
Nothing relevant is actually getting better
other than for the deluded elitists with their snouts still in the
ransacking but blinding looting troughs.
With the path that Zanu
PF has consistently chosen, the reality is that the party's downfall will
not be via the ballot box - it will be as a consequence of its self-serving
policies that have inevitably crafted the forthcoming economic
The regime is still living under a mushroom of dreamworld,
desperation and self-denial. It apparently still believes its own fiction
and lies, as does solidarity comrade Thabo Mbeki.
It is debatable
how much more international lampooning Mbeki will take for his blatant
support of tyranny before the South African president actually realises that
he has put himself and his own nation at grave risk for creditability and
for potential investor flight. To expose Mbeki's "bright intellectual
capacity" further, he recently claimed he was right about his earlier
assessment on the scourge of Aids!
Reserve Bank governor Gideon Gono
and his counsels appear to still believe that his Homelink vision will
alleviate the national forex availability woes. Perhaps Gono has embarked on
this mission where no other real forex earning prospects were tangibly in
sight. Homelink appears to have produced hallucinatory or unproven
statistics on the successes of this now failing forex-earning
When standards of rural living are established in the cities
with donkey carts as the means of public transport the possibility of
reality may become known to the imposed leadership that the nation and their
own survival is at grave risk. The stalwarts may eventually discover that
candles were actually a wicked non-indigenous colonialist
What any residual economists need to quantify is the real
dimensions of Zimbabwe's problems, and conclude if there is any prospect of
salvation left, and what to expect thereafter. To be taken into account are
the huge and mounting international debts and loan accounts together with
the ever-growing domestic liability as augmented by on-going unbudgeted and
Does anyone really expect debt forgiveness or
any foreign investment from the international community under the present
Clearly the time must come when no one or a country
can survive on perpetual credit without consequence.
reality is that the proven re-introduction of proper and accepted civilised
norms would be enough to initiate a recovery programme that would be
self-starting based on deriving confidence factors.
Since Zanu PF has
survived and prospered by violating all defined or educated norms, the
likelihood of the party engaging in a cultural reform programme is
effectively non-existent. The war of attrition against the normal
well-informed world will thus continue unabated.
Surely it must be
understood by some that the national agenda to plunder and strip any found
or remaining assets to sustain the regime is not unsustainable for much
Mixed messages are continuously emitted by the hierarchy.
They hate the West and its values yet they typically extend their worn-out
blame and begging baskets in that direction. Hypocritically they enjoy the
trappings of the West for their children's education and their own luxurious
They know well that the gullible Western "do-gooders" like
Tony Blair and the Canadians will continue to sponsor their longevity on
purported humanitarian grounds. With abundant free food aid there has not
yet been a need to restart the agricultural sector.
regime has recently been left with no alternative other than to hopefully
look East for sustenance. Typically, friendly eastern comrades are deficient
on moral and human value principles and are thus not likely to promote
examination of any human and democratic rights violations in
China is a growing economic engine that expects to
out-distance the West in due time. This nation is becoming a de-facto
economic colonialist state. In Africa, China already has its eyes on Sudan's
oil and on Zimbabwe's platinum.
Historically China is famous for
supplying weapons and moral support for destabilising purposes, but not much
else of significance. Has the country now changed its agenda?
Zimbabwe to survive, what now needs to be assessed is the real dimension of
genuine financial support that China and the likes of Malaysia and Iran will
give to Zimbabwe, and the conditions attached to that support. Do they see
comradeliness and moral support or investment opportunities, or do they see
the tangible Zimbabwe millstone that most sane others want to avoid at all
Gono has had mild successes which have been simply achieved by
re-applying normally established fiscal disciplines in the financial sector
that should never have been allowed to be prostituted and exploited by
greedy self-servers in the first place. Gono is seen to be one of a few in
the inner-orbits of influence that can show a semblance of identifying with
Clearly, to be truthful or intelligent in Zanu PF
circles invites hazards as historical records prove.
clearly singing from a different hymn sheet from his masters,
actually advocated some core values that the government needs to
apply to turn the nation away from the graveyard that it is facing. To no
avail so far he has advocated state spending containment, respect of
property rights and compliance with international bilateral investment
promotion protection agreements.
One may wonder why Gono, out of
belief aligned to his core values, has not long since resigned from his
position to retain his self-respect. On the other hand, the question arises
why he has not been fired for being too diligent.
The overall result
is that the meltdown will continue unabated. The residual question remaining
is when and how it will happen.
* Walter Hurley is a freelance writer
based in Pretoria.
legacy will President Mugabe leave this nation when he finally exits in
2008? If we are to go by his announcement from Jakarta last week, Mugabe is
on the final leg of his rule. He is on the home stretch and has over the
years been quick to look over his shoulder to remind everyone of his
conquests and accomplishments. But when he reaches the finishing line there
won't be many to congratulate him if he leaves the country in the current
mess. Mugabe would have loved to see economic recovery before his
departure from office. He would have liked to be feted as the man who not
only liberated the country but also extricated it from economic ruin caused
by international sanctions. This plan is in danger. Mugabe's worst nightmare
is that he is bequeathing to the nation a dead economy and that is how he
will be remembered. The word "turnaround", a catch phrase from the
pre-election period, has lost its lustre as all around us there is the
evidence of decay and poverty which is not likely to go away soon. These
phenomena - by-products of government's failure to come up with
forward-looking economic blueprints, or at least implement its own plans -
have been with us for the past five years. The year 2008 when Mugabe has said
he wants to leave office is only 30 months away. What can Mugabe deliver in
the next two and a half years? Today the country is faced with a myriad
challenges which cannot be wished away and coincide with a trade fair that
is supposed to advertise Zimbabwe as an investment destination. There is no
petrol. Commuter transport has become every worker's daily nightmare. There
is no water in the capital. Power cuts have played havoc in industry. Basic
commodities have begun to disappear from shop shelves. Not many still
believe Zimbabwe is the place to go and do business. Exhibitors from major
economies have stayed away and the number of participants continues to
dwindle. Government and Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe governor Gideon Gono want to
peddle the lie that the economy has turned the corner. Judging by the
situation on the ground there won't be any buyers. With government
finally admitting that there is a massive food deficit, the country is now
retreating into survival mode. We are waiting for the plan to carry the
country through this lean period and at the same time lay the foundation for
future growth. Gono is soon expected to come up with a roadmap to guide the
economy in the post-election period. It needs discipline - which has been
lacking - from its implementers. Mugabe's government has grown a penchant
to either drop economic programmes before completion or not to implement
them at all. And money is also required for the plan to work. Firstly, the
government has to find US$818 million to import food to feed 4,5 million
people. This is no small task considering that the country is expected to
generate a measly US$3,1 billion in foreign currency this year. A third of
this is now going towards food imports. Last year Zimbabwe's foreign
currency receipts amounted to US$1,96 billion. From the remainder of the
cake, the country needs US$408 million to import fuel and $204 million for
electricity. Foreign debt repayments should amount to US$60 million this
year. Already more than half the cake is gone. The huge invoice for food
imports means all major capital projects are now in abeyance. That includes
the Matabeleland Zambezi Water project, Tokwe Mukosi Dam, widening of trunk
roads, rehabilitation of schools and medical centres and the provision of
cheap housing. These projects, it now appears, will not be achieved before
2008. But this is the period when Mugabe and his government have to display
leadership. This means avoiding inviting more problems by forcing through
imprudent directives and regulations to industry. Government should learn
from the experience of 2002 that it can force manufacturers and retailers to
charge certain prices but it cannot force them to continue producing at a
loss. But government appears bent on this route notwithstanding the
well-documented experience of 2002 when basic commodities were only
available on the informal market at exorbitant costs. For Mugabe, the
next three years could be his most frustrating, especially if the country
fails to lift itself out of the current quagmire. City roads, some of them
named after him, are riddled with potholes. Streetlights and traffic lights
have broken down. Sewerage systems in Harare and Chitungwiza have collapsed.
Agricultural production has plummeted by more than half while manufacturing
has plunged by more than 35% in the past two years. Does Mugabe dream of
leaving Zimbabwe without a single functional sector? This is hardly the
happy ending he hoped for.
Catastrophic hike in domestic
wages THE New Testament states: "For the labourer is worthy of his hire,"
clearly contending that any labourer is entitled to a fair wage,
commensurate with the nature and extent of the labour he undertakes. Only
those very few who still avow slavery, and those endowed with the evil trait
of exploitation would disagree. In view thereof, the recently prevailing
minimum wage for domestic workers of $90 000 per month (albeit in addition
to serviced accommodation and specified supplies or, in the alternative,
compensatory allowances) was inhumane in the extreme, and required
substantive adjustment. However, the government went completely overboard
when on March 24 it gazetted new minimum wages. In Statutory Instrument 42
of 2005 it prescribed a minimum wage for workers residing at the employer's
premises of $850 000 per month for gardeners and like workers, $900 000 per
month for cooks and housekeepers and $950 000 per month for child, disabled
and aged minders. For workers not provided accommodation at their place of
employment, the minimum wage must be enhanced by allowances totalling $356
000, bringing the aggregate minimum remuneration to $1 256
000. Proponents for such minimum wages argue that they are more than
justified in the light of the poverty datum line (PDL) for a family of five
approximating $2 million but, in so doing, they disregard that in instances
where the employment is substantially on an "all found" basis, which
includes accommodation, electricity, water, refuse removal, sewage services
and provision of food, the bulk of the components of the PDL have been
addressed before bringing the cash wages to account. They also disregard
that the average family unit comprises at least two income earners and,
therefore, it is not incumbent upon one to earn equal to or above the
PDL. However, of even greater importance is that those proponents in general,
and the government in particular, fail to recognise that an inadequate
remuneration is better than none at all. The hard fact is that a very great
number of the employers of domestic workers cannot afford to pay the newly
gazetted wages, and therefore have little choice but to discontinue
employment, howsoever reluctant that they may be to do so. When the
combined income of a husband and wife is less than $3 million per month, and
over and above their basic living costs they have to fund education for up
to three children, they simply cannot afford to employ a domestic worker at
a cost of $1 256 000 per month, or more. So they have to manage
without. But the discharged domestic worker has very little prospect, within
the prevailing Zimbabwean economy, of obtaining alternative employment, and
is therefore condemned to even greater poverty than would have been had
employment continued, although at a lesser wage level than now
prescribed. Although no reliable data is available, authoritative estimates
foreshadow that the consequence of the government's ill-considered action is
that up to half of the total number of domestic workers in Zimbabwe now face
a very real prospect of joining the ranks of the already more than three
million unemployed Zimbabweans. With such a consequence, one must ponder
why the government would have taken such a catastrophic action as the
gazetting of the new levels of domestic worker wages. The charitable will
suggest that the government did so solely out of concern for the distressed
circumstances of the domestic workers, oblivious to the negative
consequences. However, many suspect that there were other motives. They query
whether it was wholly coincidental that the wage increases were gazetted
exactly one week before the parliamentary elections. After all, most
domestic workers reside in urban areas, and it was well-known that the
greatest electoral support for the opposition was located in those
areas. It could very well, therefore, have been in the government's interests
to try to motivate a major part of the domestic worker populace to vote for
its candidates, instead of the opposition candidates. The government could,
therefore, very well have dismissed cavalierly the adverse repercussions of
the wage increases, for these repercussions could only be experienced after
the elections. In the alternative, the government may have been so
tantalised by attaining increased voter support that it did not even bother
to consider whether there could, or would, be any negative
repercussions. Whatsoever may have been the motives for promulgating the new
wage levels, the consequences are very far-reaching, and can potentially be
yet another nail in the coffin of a very ailing economy. Almost immediately
after the wage awards became known, there was a sharp reaction from unions
representing agricultural workers. Understandably, they adopted a
militant and demanding stance that as those workers were engaged in the
productive sector, as distinct from the domestic workers in the consumptive
sector, and as the minimum wage for agricultural workers was, in some
instances, as low as $90 000 per month, that minimum wage should immediately
rise to at least $1 million per month. Prima facie, the demand is justified
and not at all unreasonable. Unfortunately, however, the reality is that
there are very few, if any, sectors of agriculture that can pay such wages
and be viable. Agriculture is already very severely decimated by the barrage
of destructive actions the government has directed against it over the last
four to six years. Although varying in extent between the tobacco, cotton,
maize and other grains, citrus, sugar, coffee and tea, livestock and other
sectors of agriculture, overall production has fallen by more than
60%. Almost all that are still engaged in agriculture are struggling to break
even, let alone eke out a living. With a prospect that agricultural wages
will increase up to tenfold, most farmers now fear that insolvency is
looming ahead. And if the volume of agricultural production falls yet
further, the entire economy will suffer yet further, for agriculture has
always been the foundation and mainstay of Zimbabwe's economy.
PRESIDENT Mugabe has set tongues wagging once again about his final
departure from State House. There are genuine questions and anxieties. Does
he really mean it this time or is he playing games again so that he can
smoke out ambitious fellows in his party? The last time he talked about
succession he said people were free to discuss it openly. Then he came down
like a ton of bricks on those who did! Quite predictably, he said such an
office needed somebody acceptable to the people, one who understood the
values of the liberation struggle. There were no enthusiastic takers at
first. In fact Mugabe himself smothered the debate when he told a party
congress in Masvingo in December 2003 that he would personally return to
tell his supporters when he was ready to go. It's been alleged that the
so-called Dinyane meeting in Tsholotsho towards the end of last year sought
to set the stage for Mugabe's successor by those who didn't want Joice
Mujuru elevated to the presidium of Zanu PF. But whatever the case, the
reaction it inspired demonstrated that there was no room for a free debate
within Zanu PF. The talking point now is why Mugabe chose to announce his
retirement plans in Indonesia. Speculation is that he was irritated by
newspaper reports suggesting his supporters were plotting to have him stay
on to 2010. It could have been a petulant response to importunate reporters
who wanted to know when he was leaving office. This is possible since he has
not yet gone back to tell his supporters that he now wants to leave office.
They are getting the "news" from newspapers. Which makes it hard to
believe. Nor does Mugabe himself make the situation any easier by his
ambivalence. "I still have to do three years and we will look at that
(retirement) after the three years but it is my intention to retire," he was
quoted as saying. So it's merely an "intention"? What needs to be looked at
about retiring? And who is the "we" who are supposed to decide and nudge him
to fulfil his intention?
New Information minister Tichaona Jokonya's
"candid" meeting with editors last Friday seems to have gone down well.
There was a sense of a new beginning after the depredations of the past five
years and Jokonya's suggestion that he was open to discussion over amending
offensive aspects of Aippa should be taken up immediately. There was not,
as the Herald disingenuously suggested, "general consensus on some of the
virtues of Aippa". It remains a defective law clumsily applied, as the
charges against Standard journalists last week demonstrated. But deputy
Minister Bright Matonga's statement that "We don't want to see newspapers
being closed or journalists being arrested by police or by whoever as long
as they are carrying out their duties", should be welcomed. Those duties, we
assume, include pointing out irregularities in the electoral process. Asked
about the role of the Media and Information Commission, Jokonya made it
clear that it was ministers who determine policy. But there are other
matters we disagree profoundly with the minister about. He expressed
government's wish for the local media to be development-oriented in line
with President Mugabe's vision as set out in the new cabinet and urged
editors "not to vilify the land reform programme", saying they should
instead "strive to correct the distortions and falsehoods peddled by the
country's detractors who claimed that the agrarian reform had only benefited
chefs". What is he asking here: that when the Minister of Lands claims a
maize harvest of 2,4 million tonnes and it is later ascertained by a
parliamentary portfolio committee that the figure is wildly inaccurate we
should keep quiet in the interests of some misguided patriotism? That where
a parasitic class of ruling-party supporters are the chief beneficiaries of
A2 allocations we should pretend that this is a programme that benefits the
poor? What sort of patriotism is that? What about the Bhuka Report or
the findings of Dr Charles Utete's committee that chefs were multiple-farm
owners and were refusing to give up their ill-gotten gains? Should that have
remained secret in the "national interest"? If the land reform programme
is being "vilified" abroad it is probably because it has been carried out in
an arbitrary, lawless, and damaging way. The state media may wish to
disguise that obvious point but the minister should not expect the
independent press to do the same. We won't lie on behalf of ministers. Nor
will we accept that a bloated cabinet comprising countless ministerial
failures can by any stretch of the imagination be described as
"development-oriented". As for his request that we should by all means
criticise the government but avoid "maligning" President Mugabe - which went
unreported in the Herald version - it is necessary to remind the minister
that Mugabe is not only head of state and government but is the leader of a
political party at the centre of national policy-making and public
discourse. He is accountable for the disasters that have befallen this
country in recent years.
Dr Jokonya is to be congratulated for suggesting
a break with past practice and attempting to cultivate a good working
relationship with the media. But he must understand that we have different
definitions of what is patriotic. Ours revolves around accountability. What
use is a press that is unable to identify the manifest failures of its
rulers who claim a popular mandate but are too important to be criticised?
Any media subscribing to that theory is of no use to anybody including those
it serves! With regard to Jokonya's promise that the international press will
be readmitted to Zimbabwe because the government has nothing to hide, again
we welcome this development. But does that include those who were illegally
or unfairly deported to satisfy the spite of individuals working in the
Office of the President? That will be a good first test for the government's
"new look" media policy.
We were interested to read an article in the
Sunday Mail Metro of the Harare council commission appealing for government
to put up a proper sewer reticulation system at White Cliff squatter camp
along the Bulawayo highway. This was after the Zimbabwe National Water
Authority fined the council $1 million for polluting the Manyame catchment
area that supplies Harare with much of its water. Zinwa warned that the
squatter camp at White Cliff posed a serious health hazard to millions of
honest, law-abiding, ratepayers. The farm was illegally occupied by Zanu PF
supporters during the party's free-for-all land grab in 2000. The settlement
has mushroomed into a huge field of haphazard structures. The squatters use
either the bush system or Blair toilets. Local Government minister
Ignatious Chombo made some inaudible noises when the mushrooms started
spreading across the road but nobody took heed. Instead there have been more
such illegal settlements along High Glen road and around Marimba police
station. Far from Chombo banning the construction of houses, we have more
now where you find parked at weekends some of the latest vehicle models in
the capital, sufficient proof if it were needed that these are not desperate
people. All that one needs to break the law with impunity is to carry a Zanu
PF card, hoist the Zimbabwean flag and give your group a suitable name from
any one of the many people buried at the Heroes Acre and you are home and
dry. It's a sign of the times that we have people using Blair toilets in the
capital. Small wonder that most sanitary lanes in the CBD have become
impassable because of human waste.
Some cynics are now doubting
whether we have not taken the wrong turn in the economic turnaround as the
promised nirvana appears to be receding like a mirage. New Mashonaland
East governor and resident minister Ray Kaukonde may be too optimistic about
improving productivity on newly-resettled farms, but at least he has the
right approach. He has undertaken to tour the whole province "to see for
himself the situation on the ground", reports the Herald. He said
everyone who was allocated land must produce or forfeit the farm. "Everyone
who has land has to produce and we are going to scrutinise everyone despite
their status to see what they have been doing with the land allocated to
them," he said. Despite lack of action, Mugabe knows part of the answer. The
farms have been turned into "weekend braai resorts". We wonder if Kaukonde
will be given the muscle to go beyond mere intention and rhetoric. At least
as a starting point he is not relying on a meteoric flypast to make his
assessment of what is happening on the farms like the dreamer who forecast
2,4 million tonnes of maize from his office desk, or was it a bar
We read an interesting article in the Herald on Tuesday in which
President Mugabe was praised for "outwitting his detractors" who wanted him
out of office so that they could install puppets in his place. There wasn't
a single detractor in the story. The president's achievement was that he
had defied "imperialist pressure" for him to leave power. But the pressure
did not start with imperialists. Edgar Tekere was one of the first people to
challenge Mugabe's leadership in the early 1990s when he said democracy in
Zimbabwe was "in the intensive care unit". Then Eddison Zvobgo said
Zimbabweans should know on the date a president comes into office the date
on which he would be leaving it. Things have only gotten worse since then,
with life expectancy tumbling to 38 years. The famous call by Dzikamai
Mavhaire for Mugabe to go only added to the torrent of national discontent.
The MDC and Tony Blair were not around then. Nobody would agree with the lies
peddled by one of the "analysts" quoted in the article, Augustine Timbe, who
claimed Mugabe had ensured the welfare of Zimbabweans was better than before
Independence, especially in health, education and
infrastructure. Empirical surveys show that we have regressed to 1970s levels
without any immediate hope of recovery. Talk to anyone in the urban areas to
find out what they think about the quality of water, hospitals and clinics,
education, the sewerage system and general service delivery to get the
truth. Ask commuters whether they think they are being better served now
than they were at Independence. Or consumers what they think about the
provision of basic commodities since the land empowerment war began. The
state of national infrastructure is a sick joke. What planet is Timbe living
on? Let's hope it's not the Planet Payme (and I'll say
Having performed his role as a Zanu PF cheerleader in the
recent election, Gideon Gono was in the Sunday Mail last weekend refuting
reports that he had tendered his resignation to President Mugabe. He managed
to use the word "turnaround" six times in his interview with the
paper. There has been speculation that Gono would find it difficult to
enforce his monetary policy so long as Mugabe was intent on splashing out
money on ex-detainees and resurrecting a deadwood senate, not to mention
funding a gargantuan cabinet. But what was of interest was the fact that
the reports he was denying seemed to have some basis. For instance he
conceded that there had been "consultations" last week that had been
"misconstrued" by those consulted. These same people had "betrayed" the
consultative process by "broadcasting what are essentially thought
processes", he said. He was not going anywhere, he said. Farmers, miners,
industrialists, employers, labour, civil society, academia, parastatals and
government departments should "get on with their work in the full knowledge
that, God willing, the governor is still here until his term of office comes
to an end". Just in case readers thought they could sleep more
peacefully in their beds at night with Gono at the helm, there was a picture
of a fuel queue above this reassuring statement. Incidentally, how does
Gono hope to achieve his so-called economic turnaround when industry has no
electricity or fuel? Hundreds of productive manhours are lost daily as
people spend half the day in fuel queues and machines are down because there
is no electricity. Who is the saboteur here we wonder?
Tourism Authority, whose statements suggest a political dimension, was this
week celebrating a 30% rise in tourism. A ZTA official was quoted in the
Herald as saying "the figures were a sign that the negative publicity
mounted against the country was being successfully counteracted". This
appeared on the same day as reports appeared in the international press of
elephants at Kariba being shot by the National Parks department for their
meat so locals could celebrate the Silver Jubilee and fuel queues
resurfacing all over the country. We hear jumbos are migrating in large
numbers to Zambia where they are safer just as shoppers in Victoria Falls
are finding there are more things to buy in Livingstone. How times
Our friend Supa Mandiwanzira should do some homework before
writing his next "Look East" dispatch for the Herald. Pratt & Whitney
was an American company the last time we looked, not Canadian. Airbus
Industrie is based in Toulouse, not the UK. And exactly what "significant
components" is CATIC supplying to Airbus and Boeing? The claim that American
and European companies are outsourcing "the bulk" of their manufacturing to
the Asian giant is a tad far-fetched! What Supa doesn't say in his story
is that while China is selling Air Zimbabwe its MA60 short-haul planes, it
is busy buying its long-haul aircraft from Boeing and Airbus - ie Looking
West! Meanwhile, Chinese press reports reflect official self-congratulation
on having at last found a customer for the M60s. They didn't actually use
the word "suckers". There was no need with Chris Mushowe in
For those fed up with being told how "pisserful" the recent
election was by people who have beaten and bullied the nation for 25 years,
we had a SMS message from a Mufakose reader who said the Silver Jubilee
celebrated "25 years of peaceful hunger, peaceful poverty, peaceful economic
decline, and peaceful rigging".
Mine closures stir more woes Eric Chiriga/Roadwin
Chirara ZIMBABWE'S economy is set to deteriorate further as more mining firms
shut down due to an unfavourable operating environment.
after Falcon Gold (Falcon), one of the country's largest gold producers
after Metallon, last week announced that it was stopping gold production as
mining was no longer its core activity.
"The situation in Zimbabwe
has changed significantly over the years and our operations there have been
affected by a number of factors beyond our control - wages, power costs,
inflation and the cost of borrowing," David Marshall, the chairman of
Falcon, said in a statement last week.
Marshall said they were
looking for suitable investment opportunities in the United Kingdom, but
away from mining activities.
According to data released by the
Chamber of Mines, since the year 2000 more than 10 mines have shut down due
to viability problems.
These include Camperdown, Motapa and Gaika who
had an annual production of about 76 260 and 125 kg
The mining sector accounts for 4,3% of the country's
gross domestic product (GDP).
According to a Platinum and
Palladium 2005 survey report by GFMS, Zimbabwe has become the most expensive
mining area in the region because of high operational
Production costs of platinum shot up by 55% last year making
the Zimbabwe production one of the most expensive in the
David Murangari, the chief executive officer of the Chamber of
Mines, confirmed that Zimbabwe was now an expensive area to
"The high inflation and the poor exchange rate have made the
country less competitive," Murangari said.
He said in gold mining
one was paid on the basis of the international gold price and mining costs
in Zimbabwe were rising at a faster rate than the gold price. This has
resulted in the decline of revenues for miners.
Murangari said a
number of investors keen to join Zimbabwe's mining sector were waiting for
an improvement in the economic and political environment.
Mudhuwiwa, group manager of human resources and external affairs of RioZim,
said the multiple effects of the current harsh economic environment
characterised by hyperinflation and turbulent industrial relations,
presented a huge challenge to miners.
"The perceived high country
risk presents the biggest foreign challenge in dealing with external
suppliers of goods and services," Mudhuwiwa said.
Rio holds 22% in Murowa
diamond mine outside Zvishavane.
Murowa diamond mine is the single
largest mining investment in the country after Hartley Platinum Project,
which was taken over by Zimplats after it was abandoned by its promoters,
Broken Hill Proprietary of Australia in 1999.
US$60 million has been
sunk into the mine since its inception, the company's managing director,
Phil Plaisted, confirmed.
Murowa has produced 66 767 carats of
diamond in the first quarter of this year, from 43 901 produced in the
fourth quarter of 2004.
"The mine has a life expectancy of around 20
Zimbabwe's gold output dropped 17,6% in the first quarter of
Earlier this year industry officials had anticipated gold
output to rise by almost two thirds to a record 35 000
However, data released by the Chamber of Mines revealed that
output fell to 4 200 kg between January and March, from 5 100kg in the same
period last year.
Last year the country's total gold production
totalled 21 300 kg, which saw foreign currency earnings of US$273,8 million
from $152,3 million in 2003.
Chamber of Mines president Ian Saunders was
quoted as saying "rising production costs, lower Zimbabwe dollar prices and
foreign currency shortages had dragged output down from last
In January the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe increased the Zimbabwe
dollar gold support price from $92 000 per gramme to $130 000 to spur
Producers are required to sell some of the metal to the
central bank and increased the amount of earnings they could retain in
The government has forecast 3-5% economic growth
this year on the back of an expected recovery in the mining sector, which
earns a third of Zimbabwe's exports.
Food pricing commission on cards Godfrey
Marawanyika THE National Economic Consultative Forum (NECF), which is the
government's think-tank, has embarked on a study of pricing of basic food
commodities that will pave the way for the setting up of an independent
The commission is expected to, among other
things, regulate the pricing structures.
The idea to form the
NECF was first mooted during the 1995-96 budget by now Finance minister
Herbert Murerwa and comprises representatives from government, labour,
business and civil society.
President Robert Mugabe subsequently
launched the NECF in 1997 and is current patron of the
The organisation is a voluntary coalition run by
Nicholas Kitikiti, a former full-time employee in the President's Office who
serves as the executive secretary.
The price commission will have
representatives from labour, business and employers. Kitikiti said they have
already covered at least 13 products under the study.
done a study on price stabilisation and so far we have finished with 13
products under the study. We might also be requested to do more work on
pricing. We will also do a report for the establishment of a price and
stabilisation commission, which will be set up soon," Kitikiti
"Whatever we are doing has endorsement of government, labour
and business leaders. We are also doing work for a definitive minimum wage
structure, which government, labour and business have
The government has ordered manufacturers to reverse price
increases made soon after the March 31 election to pre-March levels, a
decision which has resulted in a shortage of most basic commodities which
have now flooded the black market.
The last time government
imposed price controls in 2002, an acute shortage of basic commodities
ensued as manufacturers stopped producing the products, while others opted
Government claims the shortage of commodities is an act of
sabotage by business and manufacturers aligned to the
However, manufacturers argue that they cannot produce goods at
sub-economic prices and survive for long.
Zimbabwe Congress of
Trade Unions secretary-general Wellington Chibebe said: "The issue of prices
has been problematic but the government has been accusing us of working in
cahoots with manufacturers to contribute to the shortages of basic
Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries president
Pattision Sithole, a fortnight ago said they would take the issue of price
controls and shortages of commodities to government, but they are yet to
meet Obert Mpofu, the new Industry and Trade minister.
and International Trade permanent secretary, Christian Katsande, this week
said a new pricing structure for all basic commodities would be announced at
the end of the month.
Maize imports to worsen Zim debt woes Eric
Chiriga THE importation of maize will worsen the country's balance of
payments deficit and domestic debt, economic analysts say.
also mean the abandonment of capital projects like the Matabeleland Zambezi
Water Project and Tokwe Mukosi dam since the government is going to divert
the money earmarked for infrastructure development towards food
Government had initially earmarked $5 trillion for
Zanu PF spokesman, Nathan Shamuyarira,
confirmed in an interview with the Zimbabwe Independent a fortnight ago that
government would divert resources meant for infrastructure development
towards food imports.
Economic analyst John Robertson said the
importation of maize would have a serious impact on the balance of payments
considering that export revenues are currently
"Zimbabwe might have a stockpile of Zimbabwean dollars
but will face serious problems trying to raise the required foreign
currency," he said.
Zimbabwe needs more than US$156 million for maize
imports alone to see the country through to the next
However, the government-controlled forex auction is failing
to meet market demand. Robertson said it was a curious reversal because the
country used to earn revenue from exports of surplus maize.
have been experiencing balance of payments deficits since 1997 and this has
been contributing to the increase in domestic debt."
Best Doroh, an
economist with Finhold, said maize imports would put a huge strain on the
country's balance of payments and would worsen the foreign currency
"We are already failing to raise enough foreign currency
for basic imports like fuel and electricity," Doroh said.
year, Zimbabwe's domestic debt hit $3 trillion from $590,5 billion in
December the previous year.
Analysts say the domestic debt will
continue to soar because of the need to fund various other imports such as
electricity and fuel.
Balance of payments is a record of a country's
receipts from and payments to other countries. It includes international
financial transactions of a country from commodities, services and
The balance of payments can be split into two: the current
account which deals with international trade in goods and services and
transactions in assets and liabilities which deals with overseas flows of
money from international investments and loans.
According to the
2005 national budget presented by Finance minister Herbert Murerwa, the
country's balance of payments stood at a deficit of US$523 million in 2004
from US$335 million in 2003.
The current account deficit, however,
improved from US$581 million in 2003 to US$338 million in
The capital account recorded a deficit of US$185 million due to
low foreign direct investment while the 2005 national budget had a deficit
of $4,5 trillion - 5% of gross domestic product.
A year on, 'forgotten' Kuruneri still held Ndamu
Sandu/Godfrey Marawanyika "HE is nowhere nearer getting out than the day he
was arrested," said a prominent Harare lawyer in reference to detained
former Finance minister Christopher Kuruneri.
Kuruneri has spent more
than a year in detention since his arrest on charges of externalising
foreign currency without central bank authority.
Kuruneri was detained on
April 24 last year on charges of violating exchange control regulations and
has been battling with the courts for his freedom without success. He has
been to the magistrates' courts, the High Court and the Supreme
The former minister has since lost his seat as the MP for
Kuruneri goes on trial next month on charges of
externalising US$1 million, £37 000 and 30 000 euros. There is no specific
jail term for the offence although there is the option of a fine if
Kuruneri was also charged with breaching the Citizenship
Act after he was found in possession of two passports - one Zimbabwean and
one Canadian - without the permission of the Ministry of Home
A bank statement uncovered by police last year revealed that
Kuruneri had an account with Absa Bank's Heerengracht branch in South Africa
with a balance of R1, 3 million.
As of May 6, 2004, Kuruneri's
available balance was R1 294 102.
The transaction on the bank statement
was for the period between May 1 2003 and May 6, 2004.
alleges that Kuruneri externalised the funds to South Africa where he gave
the money to Christopher Heyman, the director of Venture Projects and
Associates, a company contracted to manage his business in South Africa.
This included the reconstruction of one of his properties.
the state's case that part of the money was used to buy a Mercedes Benz
valued at R547 734, three residential properties - 38 Sunset Avenue,
Llandudno, Cape Town valued at R2,7 million, a house valued at R2,5 million
and a R2,5 million flat.
It is alleged that on March 6 2002,
Kuruneri unlawfully made the Jewel Bank of Zimbabwe transfer R5,2 million to
CB Niland and Partners, his lawyers in South Africa, as payment for the
purchase of a property, 17 Apostle Road, Llandudno also in Cape Town. All
the properties were registered in the name Choice Decisions 113 Pvt Ltd in
which Kuruneri is the sole director.
Charges against Kuruneri arose
between 2002 and 2004.
The state further alleges that Kuruneri
externalised the funds to finance the construction of a R30 million mansion
in Cape Town. However, according to press reports from South Africa, he
might end up losing the mansion because of failure to make rates payments on
Kuruneri's lawyer, George Chikumbirike, was this week again
writing a letter to the Supreme Court for a set down date.
last met him about two weeks ago and he is physically fine, but you can
imagine the level of stress he is going through," Chikumbirike
"Right now I am writing a letter to the Supreme Court for the
matter to be set down."
In his defence, Kuruneri said he got the
foreign currency from doing consultancy work for a Spanish company, Felipe
Solano, and Mobile Systems International of Britain.
Systems International was one of the losing bidders for a licence in the
mobile cellular network in Zimbabwe.
Legal experts this week said
Kuruneri had been sacrificed for political
being sacrificed for political expediency so that Zanu PF is seen to be
dealing with corruption," said constitutional law expert, Lovemore
Madhuku said the delay in bringing Kuruneri to trial was an
infringement of his constitutional right.
"He (Kuruneri) is
entitled to a fair trial within a reasonable time and the time he has been
detained is no longer reasonable," Madhuku said.
last year made him the most senior politician to be caught in President
Robert Mugabe's anti-corruption dragnet.
The crackdown also led to
the arrest of the then Zanu PF central committee member, James Makamba, on
charges of externalisation, but he was subsequently freed by the courts
after paying a fine.
Many bankers were forced to flee the country for
fear of arbitrary arrest.
NMB Holdings bosses Julius Makoni, James
Mushore, Otto Chekeche and Francis Zimuto sneaked out of the country before
the net closed in on them. There were claims then that the arrests were at
the instigation of RBZ governor Gideon Gono or at least had his tacit
The others who ran away were Intermarket Holdings founder
and chief executive officer Nicholas Vingirai, Barbican Holdings boss Mthuli
Ncube and Africa Resources Ltd chairman Mutumwa Mawere.
denying Kuruneri bail, High Court judge Justice Ben Hlatshwayo last year
said he had substantial resources and properties outside the country which
he could easily mobilise to skip bail and to live well for the rest of his
The former minister has had several of his bail applications
turned down by both the magistrates' courts and the High
The former minister's hopes for bail were dashed by High Court
judge Justice Charles Hungwe in February who ruled that Kuruneri could "not
His hopes for freedom will only be known on May 16 which
has been set as the date for his trial.
During his continued
detention, he has lost his ministerial post and, according to reports, he
might also lose his villa in Cape Town as he has failed to keep up payments
in the past 12 months.
discussion last week, it appears there are various arguments being put
forward with regards to management of the current situation - where we seem
to be stalling on the inflation front, the stock market appears to be
getting out of control, and the foreign currency shortage has become
The most popular solution being put forward is an interest rate
hike, because this would halt the stock market rally and discourage
speculative borrowing to fund foreign currency parallel market
While the stock market rally would indeed be slowed down by
an interest rate hike, this is not the simplest way to achieve this, as this
would have negative impacts on other economic activities such as slowing
down aggregate demand and accelerating the demise of an already weak
If the RBZ reverts to the 91-day ZTB OMO bills,
and keeps them open to the general public, investors could realise
above-inflation returns from these.
At the current TB rate of 95% over a
91-day period, investors would realise compounded returns of 135% per annum,
which are above inflation. This would instantly solve the "stock market
As to whether or not there is speculative borrowing to fund
parallel market activity, simple arithmetic would suggest this is not the
At the current allocation rate of US$11 million per auction,
over a year the Reserve Bank would have allocated US$1,144 billion.
According to the fourth quarter monetary policy statement, in 1996 (which we
shall take as the proxy for a 'normal' year) the country's total foreign
currency earnings were US$3,878 billion. Yet in spite of this, the country
still needed an additional US$1,062 billion in "grants and other transfers"
to balance off the books.
It is thus reasonable to say that this
year, given a larger population and more adverse conditions (drought,
reduced agricultural and industrial activity etc), the country's foreign
currency requirements would exceed US$5 billion.
That the amount of
bids is currently standing at only just over US$200 million is thus actually
Raising the level of interest rates would not
result in the country requiring less foreign currency, and could be compared
to over-inflating the tyres on a car in the hope that this would re-start a
In any case, borrowing rates on average are currently
at between 105 and 125%, which works out to between 174 and 228% on a
compounded basis. Given the effort and length of time it now takes to get a
loan approved, and the additional time needed to get funds from the
auctions, it is hardly likely that there are many people speculating on the
foreign currency auction as a means of livelihood.
Given that we
do not, and are not likely to have a source of balance of payments support
in the short to medium-term, our only hope lies in boosting exports and
remittances from the diaspora. Currently, virtually all exporting companies
have cut down on export volumes (see this article on our website www.adway.co.zw for details) citing an
unviable exchange rate regime.
Their actions are entirely
reasonable, given that their export revenues would have grown only about 32%
over 2004 ceteris paribus, against input cost increases averaging 132%. They
are advocating that the exchange rate should be determined by market forces,
as opposed to the controlled auction rate.
Allowing market forces
to determine the exchange rate without balance of payments support, and
under the current situation where supply far exceeds demand would result in
extreme decline of the exchange rate, to such an extent that our currency
would become grossly undervalued, which would be an equally undesirable
Consider, on the other hand, pegging the exchange rate to
month-on-month inflation after effecting an appropriate devaluation. The
exporters would get reasonable value as their costs and revenues are growing
in tandem. They would actually benefit from increasing exports as they would
be able to retain more foreign currency to fund their operations; the
auction system would continue to have more bids than available currency,
which would make it the source of last resort.
from the diaspora would also get good value as their remittances' purchasing
power remains constant over time. Bids would continue to outstrip supply on
the auction, but as exports and remittances increase, the gap would
gradually decline. When bids and offers eventually become matched, the
exchange rate could then be left to the dictates of market
Defending the currency is only effective when done to
counteract short-term speculative attacks on the currency, or to smooth out
seasonal effects on demand and supply. It also requires foreign currency
reserves. In our case, pressure on the currency is emanating from
fundamental weaknesses within our economy. - Own Correspondent.
ZITF kicks off on low note Loughty Dube THE 46th
edition of the Zimbabwe International Trade Fair (ZITF) kicked off on a low
note in Bulawayo this week with acres of space not filled as exhibitors
stayed at home during the first two days of the trade expo.
At least 604
local and international exhibitors confirmed participation at the trade
showcase but many had not yet displayed any goods by the end of the first
two business days.
ZITF general manager, Daniel Chigaru, however said
the exhibitors had expressed hope to arrive before the trade fair ends
"The first few days have been satisfactory even though some
exhibitors from out of Bulawayo have not turned up and they have not given
reasons for not turning up," Chigaru said. "We hope they will be here before
the show ends."
Mozambican President Armando Guebuza will officially
open the five-day trade showcase today.
A total of 42 foreign
companies are taking part at the trade exhibition while 562 local exhibitors
The majority of local exhibitors are mainly small
to medium enterprises (SMEs) while the foreign exhibitors are mainly Chinese
and from other Far East countries.
A travel and tourism
exhibition, A'Sambeni, which runs concurrently with the ZITF, also kicked
off on a very low note with a handful of exhibitors showcasing their
An exhibitor with a tourism organisation said the low
turnout was due to the fact that most tour operators were preparing to
attend a more lucrative regional tourism showcase in South Africa at the
beginning of May.
"In terms of business, attending the South African
exhibition has more returns that attending A'Sambeni where the returns are
far much lower," the tour operator said.
This year also saw the
return of livestock at the trade fair after a long absence due to the
outbreak of foot and mouth disease and a boycott last year by white
However the number of livestock on display at the
trade fair is quite low with dairy and beef cattle dominating the livestock
A major international business conference organised by the
sponsored by the corporate world was held over two days and was
attended by over 200 business people.
The business conference
held under the theme "Resource Mobilisation for Investment and Trade" was
addressed by four foreign speakers.
The four foreign speakers are
Ruel Khoza, the director of Eskom, Geoff Rothschild, the director of the JSE
Securities Exchange, Ken Small, a regional consultant on tourism and spatial
development from the Development Bank of Southern Africa, and former
Barclays Bank South Africa managing director, Isaac
Other local speakers who addressed the conference include
Anthony Mandiwanzira, Nicholas Kitikiti, Jonathan Kadzura, Davison Mugabe,
Shingi Munyeza and Sydney Gata among others.
Meanwhile the ZITF
has made a provision to supply exhibitors with fuel as the country is
experiencing a crippling shortage of the commodity.
Chigaru said fuel
was being provided to exhibitors through the use of coupons at designated
DURING the run-up to the
2005 parliamentary election, President Robert Mugabe went around the country
assuring the nation that no one would starve as the government had procured
enough maize to last until the next harvest from South Africa.
Zimbabwe Independent of April 22 did right to inform the nation of the true
situation regarding maize imports - that the country is experiencing
problems importing maize because of foreign currency
Why then did President Mugabe lie to the rural
electorate that the country had procured enough maize to last until the next
Opposition parties and all the progressive forces in the
country should expose him and Zanu PF for the lie, and remind the rural
people, including the chiefs, headmen and kraal heads about it
The chiefs should ask where the maize that President Mugabe said
had been procured from South Africa is.
Where even little maize
is made available through the Grain Marketing Board, this is done along
political lines, as is already happening in some parts of the
The people in the affected areas should be organised in
efforts to expose such practices.
People in the rural areas
should be taught to report cases where maize is only sold to Zanu PF
supporters, giving precise information that includes the names of the
culprits and their positions in society, Zanu PF or in government, dates and
the places when and where such incidents will have taken
This information should be communicated to civic society
organisations and donors who are involved in assisting with food and to the
media to ensure that the Zimbabwean story is told properly.
government that lies to its own people is an enemy of the people. The world
should therefore be informed that the Zanu PF government, under Robert
Mugabe, is the people of Zimbabwe's number one enemy.
MOST of us are
familiar with the maxim that doing the same thing the same way will get you
the same results. This axiom is proverbial in politics where a continuance
of poor decisions and policies by governments will invariably produce
negative results in the form of poverty, privation, oppression and so
A different approach to a problem may bring positive change and alter
the ingrained attitudes of critics and opponents. Politicians want to be
seen to be doing things differently and at the same time maintaining gwara,
the traditions and rituals of their political organisations.
is also a truism that doing it differently doesn't necessarily mean doing it
better. In some instances it simply means removing certain negativities and
replacing them with fresh equally harmful ones. To do things differently to
achieve positive results, it is therefore important for a system to be first
disconnected to the energy source that provides fuel to negative impulses
Put simply, one cannot start talking or doing things
differently to achieve positive change unless they are inspired by a
different form of energy and in politics this can entail a serious policy
shift by a party, a revolutionary change in its leadership or
On Friday new Information minister Tichaona Jokonya and his
deputy Bright Matonga at a meeting with editors pledged to do things
differently. That is always sweet music to ears which had become inured to
hateful and anachronistic bluster by then Information sub-monarch Jonathan
Moyo. The inventory of promises include fair treatment of all media houses
in accessing government information and greater interaction between the
ministry and the media.
They do not want to see journalists
arrested and harassed. They pledged to look at the contentious clauses of
Aippa. They believe Aippa is still a good law but there could have been
problems with its application. Foreign media should not be barred from
coming into the country. "We do not have anything to hide," said
The Herald last Friday also carried an important little
piece on a meeting Mashonaland East governor Ray Kaukonde had with
traditional leaders in the province. The new governor does not seem to share
the tired party mantras that the land reform exercise has been a huge
success (even though he is arguably the most successful black farmer in the
country at the moment). This is what happening in his province: "Those who
are failing to reimburse the loans should know that they will go to jail and
those who are misusing the land are saboteurs."
He also said: "We
want to be accountable to the people who voted us into power. We used to
have a total of 156 dairy farms in the province but now I hear there are
only 10 dairy farms functioning. What is that? How do you explain that? It
Jokonya, Matonga and Kaukonde want to see
positive change in government as a result of their actions but they need
positive energy to drive their new plans. They are part of a government that
has remained caught in a war of Independence time-warp, where change is
considered reactionary and a negation of gwara remusangano. They are part of
a government that has not admitted failure but is quick to blame others for
all the things that have gone wrong in the past 25 years. They are part of a
government built around layers of patronage and resultantly a strict
adherence to the values and notions exuded by their infallible leader-
something akin to the Papal Bull of 1870.
This unfortunately is
the power source the three - Jokonya, Matonga and Kaukonde - are plugged
into. It would be unfortunate - after displaying such positive zeal - if
they were to be reminded by their bosses that they are still plugged into
that power point and hence they have to proceed with caution.
believe Mugabe's government today is in great need of new positive energy if
it is to do things differently and ultimately influence change. Last week
our attempt to seek a comment from Grain Marketing Board boss Samuel Muvuti
on food imports provoked a curt and hostile response. He made all sorts of
silly and frankly childish accusations against this paper which were
inappropriate for the head of a public entity.
But sadly this is
the script many government and parastatal bosses readily use when asked
important questions of national interest.
Jokonya and Matonga have
the unenviable task of exorcising this ghost from government. For a start,
they need to tell their colleagues that it is not clever to be rude. It is
only a sign of the negative energy flowing in the sclerotic arteries of
government. The country is where it is today partly because our rulers
believe criticism of their actions must be met with a militant
counter-offensive. We are never wrong because we liberated this
After the pronouncements by Jokonya, Matonga and
Kaukonde many would like to see these translate into positive action that
will detoxify the government tongue in its public relations drive here and
abroad. We would like to see real "saboteurs" of the land reform removed
from the farms and productivity restored.
We hope this positive
line rubs off on the new (and old) ministers - some of whom have already
started to advertise their negativity. Did I hear Education minister Aeneas
Chigwedere threatening schools again and the deputy minister of Industry and
International Trade Phineas Chihota making threatening noises to