Thursday, 28 April 2011 21:50
THE Global Political Agreement (GPA)’s tripartite negotiating team’s final
draft roadmap clarifies that President Robert Mugabe has no power to
unilaterally call for elections without consulting and agreeing with Prime
Minister Morgan Tsvangirai.
The roadmap was crafted after a sharp rebuke by the Sadc Troika, which
demanded that Zimbabwe’s inclusive government “find an uninterrupted path to
free and fair elections and removal of all impediments”.
It states that a presidential proclamation of elections can only be made in
agreement with the prime minister, thereby putting a damper on Mugabe and
Zanu PF’s insistence in recent months that the president had absolute
authority to call for early elections.
This supports Tsvangirai’s assertions in his New Zimbabwe Lecture series
speech delivered in February in which he said: “Thus, the timing of the next
elections is not dictated by when, but under what conditions they will be
held. And I want to tell you today, that executive authority in this
country is shared and the president has no power to announce an election
date without consulting the prime minister. We have to agree on a date,
having satisfied ourselves to the existence of electoral conditions that
will not produce another contested outcome.”
The roadmap highlights the signposts that must be put up and milestones to
be implemented before the next election can be held.
The negotiators will meet Sadc-appointed facilitator South African President
Jacob Zuma’s facilitation team of Charles Nqakula, Mac Maharaj and Lindiwe
Zulu in Cape Town on May 6 and 7 to evaluate progress made and resolve
outstanding issues ahead of a full Sadc summit in Namibia later in the
According to the final draft roadmap, the three political parties that form
Zimbabwe’s shaky coalition government agreed on the delimitation of
constituencies, nomination of candidates, printing of ballot papers,
activation of liaison committees, particularly at local levels, and polling.
In previous elections, polling stations were not accessible to voters and
they were not adequately manned. Monitors and observers were not given free
access to the polling stations and this worked in favour of Zanu PF.
The three parties also agreed on the announcement of election results. There
was confusion in the 2008 elections when the announcement of results was
delayed, leading to accusations of rigging.
Thursday, 28 April 2011 21:06
PARTIES in the inclusive government are fighting over control of the
security sector which has pervasive powers straddling over many government
departments and agencies and is crucial in the administration of elections.
Zanu PF negotiators Patrick Chinamasa and Nicholas Goche last week dug in on
security sector reforms being demanded by the MDC formations ahead of any
The sharp differences among the coalition partners were exposed during
negotiations to finalise an election roadmap as demanded by the Sadc Troika
of the organ on Politics, Defence and Security last month in Livingstone,
Tendai Biti and Elton Mangoma representing the MDC-T, and Priscilla
Misihairabwi-Mushonga and Moses Mzila Ndlovu of MDC-N were calling for
reforms of the Central Intelligence Organisation and Joint Operations
Command which they accuse of usurping cabinet powers by refusing to
implement government directives.
“The MDC-T tabled that the there should be an enactment of an Act of
parliament to regulate the operations of CIO,” the roadmap says, “while
MDC-N said security sector reforms were an election issue as referred to and
covered under article XIII (i) of the GPA that says ‘state organs and
institutions should not belong to any political party and should be
impartial in the execution of their duty’.”
The call by the MDC formations comes barely a month after President Robert
Mugabe confirmed using the CIO to spy on his political opponents within and
without Zanu PF. Mugabe made the startling revelations at the burial of
former CIO deputy director-general Menard Muzariri at Heroes Acre.
Zanu PF argues that talk of security sector reforms is an attack on the
security institutions and has never been a GPA issue.
“This issue is neither a GPA one nor an election issue and is being raised
as an attack on the institution. The issue falls to be resolved in the
constitutional making process,” Chinamasa and Goche said.
The MDC formations further requested that Joc issued a public statement
declaring that it will unequivocally uphold the constitution and respect the
rule of law in the lead up to and following any election or referendum, but
this was shot down by Zanu PF.
Zanu PF argues that political parties have no right to direct uniformed
forces to issue political statements.
However, ahead of the 2002 presidential poll, all the country’s security
chiefs publicly declared that they would not recognise a president without
war credentials. This was a direct threat that they would not recognise
Morgan Tsvangirai to become president even if he had won elections.
Zanu PF further denied that communities had been militarised and that army
and police personnel were coordinating state-sponsored violence.
“We deny that there are serving members of the military doing political work
and we invite evidence to be made available. We protest to the use of the
word demilitarisation. It is a war term and not applicable to the alleged
Zanu PF further denied that the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission was staffed by
state agents and Zanu PF sympathisers saying staff recruitment was above
board and there was no need for staffers to be hired anew.
These disagreements and other outstanding GPA issues will now be referred to
South African facilitators who are mediating on behalf of Sadc. A report
with clear implementation and timelines would be compiled for presentation
at the Sadc summit in Namibia next month.
Thursday, 28 April 2011 21:08
THE principals of the inclusive government will soon summon the Joint
Operations Command (Joc) and Attorney-General Johannes Tomana to discuss
issues of political violence and arbitrary arrests of politicians.
Negotiators to the Global Political Agreement agreed under the election
roadmap that the three principals should read the riot act to Joc and Tomana
following widespread arrests of MDC political leaders on spurious charges.
Joc comprises the commander of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces, General
Constantine Chiwenga, heads of the army, air force, prison services, the
Central Intelligence Organisation, the Defence minister, State Security
minister and some influential civilian consultants aligned to Zanu PF.
Rampant arbitrary arrests of MDC officials have threatened to collapse the
wobbling coalition government assembled after the sham 2008 presidential
Several senior MDC leaders, among them Elton Mangoma, Moses Mzila Ndlovu,
Douglas Mwonzora, Costin Muguti and Rodger Tazviona have been arrested on
frivolous charges and at times denied bail by the courts. The arrests have
soured relations among the coalition partners.
The three parties’ negotiators agreed in their draft election roadmap that
the Joc and attorney-general should be impartial in the execution of their
“There should be an arrangement of a meeting between Joc, Tomana and the GPA
principals. The meeting should be followed by another one in which the same
Joc and Tomana meet the GPA negotiators to discuss issues of politically
motivated violence and arbitrary arrests of political leaders,” reads the
roadmap drafted by the negotiators.
The exact dates of the meetings would be finalised next week when GPA
negotiators meet to put a timeframe on the roadmap before presenting it to
the South African facilitation team ahead of a Sadc summit in Namibia next
The MDC formations are also pushing for Posa amendments to be speeded up in
the light of recent police actions of arresting senior MDC leaders on bogus
charges and the banning of rallies across the country.
The MDC formations said: “Posa should be amended in line with the GPA and
more so in the light of recent political developments in the country.”
However, Zanu PF refused any further amendments to the contentious piece of
legislation arguing that the law was recently amended and was sufficient for
the country’s needs.
“We need to know the nature of the proposed amendments before we comment.
The current Posa amendment in 2007 by all political parties through
negotiations provides a sound legal framework for regulating meetings and
Zanu PF’s reluctance to amend Posa is further confirmed by its unwillingness
to have the Posa Amendment Bill debated in the Senate. This is despite the
fact that the amendment has been on the order paper for the last three
months after it sailed through the National Assembly.
MDC-T chief whip and Mutare Central MP Innocent Gonese moved the Bill as a
Private Members Bill through the lower House in December last year.
Thursday, 28 April 2011 21:10
NEGOTIATORS from the Global Political Agreement (GPA) partners have agreed
to speedily implement media reforms that will culminate in the registration
of independent broadcast media players and the restructuring of the Zimbabwe
Broadcasting Corporation (ZBC) before the next general election.
The reforms are meant to create a conducive environment for political
players to have equal media coverage, especially in the public media, and
also put an end to ZBC’s electronic media monopoly.
According to a draft roadmap finalised last week by the negotiators from
Zanu PF and the two MDC formations, the three parties in the inclusive
government agreed that there should be an appointment of a new ZBC board and
the Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe (Baz), licensing of new broadcasters
and establishment of the Media Council of Zimbabwe.
The negotiators also agreed that there should be an appointment of new
trustees for the Mass Media Trust (MMT) and a cessation of external radio
stations and broadcasting into the country by governments funding or hosting
the stations. The roadmap encourages Zimbabweans running or working for
external radio stations broadcasting into the country to return.
The negotiators also called for an end to hate speech by directing “the
state media to support all agreed government programmes and put a stop to
attacks against ministers implementing such programmes”.
The ZBC board is currently chaired by Zimbabwe Football Association
president Cuthbert Dube. The national broadcaster is under fire from mainly
MDC formations and the public for biased reportage in favour of President
Robert Mugabe and his Zanu PF party. The parties and the public want ZBC to
be apolitical and fulfil its mandate as public broadcaster.
Tafataona Mahoso, the chief executive officer of the Zimbabwe Media
Commission, chairs the Baz board, which had failed to liberalise the
airwaves and license new electronic media players since its appointment over
two years ago.
MDC formations opposed the appointment of the Mahoso board arguing that they
were not consulted and that it was packed with pro-Mugabe and Zanu PF
The new trustees of the MMT would be expected to take control of the
Zimpapers Group, which over the years had become an extension of the
Ministry of Information, Media and Publicity. Zimpapers, like ZBC, has been
accused of biased reporting in support of Mugabe and Zanu PF.
Media Institute of Southern Africa (Misa) welcomed the proposed reforms,
adding it was time the principals of the GPA and the negotiators “walk the
talk” in as far as media reforms were concerned.
Misa director Nhlanhla Ngwenya said although they recognised the efforts
made by negotiators to agree to media reforms, it was too early to
“What is important is that we urge them to walk the talk. We have heard
about this before. We recognise that what they agreed to is simply a
reaffirmation on what they agreed to at the Sadc summit in August 2010 in
Windhoek,” said Ngwenya.
Last year, Sadc gave the GPA principals a 30 day deadline to fully implement
the 24 outstanding GPA issues, but that deadline was subsequently ignored.
Ngwenya said: “We can only hope now that Sadc feels quite eager to bring
sanity, it will push for the implementation of the media reforms. We can
only celebrate after seeing full implementation of this; otherwise these
agreements will leave room for another deadlock.”
Another media analyst who requested anonymity said the roadmap was not going
to bring any immediate results due to lack of commitment by the three
The analyst said: “The fact that there is a roadmap toward elections means
that all of the reforms that they included in this roadmap are to a greater
extent about electoral issues and competition. In fact, the issues
concerning ZBC and the Media Council are reminiscent of Article 19 of the
GPA which was seemingly progressive on paper but it has taken almost two and
a half years for there to be reform in the print media.
“For all its promises, the roadmap will not yield immediate results. This is
because the parties will bicker over composition of the Baz and ZBC boards.
By the time they are through with that, the elections might be around the
corner and even if a new broadcaster was to be licensed, it does not mean
the broadcaster will start operating the same day.”
The analyst said politicians were not principally committed to media reforms
but were only vocal because they seek to utilise the media for their
political gain in the next elections.
Thursday, 28 April 2011 21:09
ATTORNEY-General Johannes Tomana has been accused of skipping crucial
departmental meetings which give direction to the Ministry of Justice and
The fortnightly meetings, which are chaired by Justice and Legal Affairs
minister Patrick Chinamasa, are attended by different heads of department
under the ministry.
Among those who attend the meetings are Zimbabwe Prisons Commissioner
Paradzai Zimondi, Justice and Legal Affairs deputy minister Obert Gutu and
the ministry’s permanent secretary David Mangota.
Gutu said since he succeeded Jessie Majome in the Justice and Legal Affairs
ministry in June 2010, Tomana had hardly attended any meeting. Majome is now
deputy minister of Women’s Affairs.
“Chinamasa attends the meetings, the commissioner of prisons, chief
registrar of deeds attends and other heads of department, including the
director of human resources, finance department, police research and
director of public prosecutions, among other departments. Ever since I was
appointed, Tomana hardly attends the meetings. These meetings are very
crucial as they are the centre piece of the Ministry of Justice, but Tomana
sends representatives or apologies,” said Gutu.
“This is the chance when we get to know what is happening in the community
service departments, getting detailed updates of various departments,
evaluation of activities and also an opportunity to indentify challenges in
the ministry and come up with action plans. That is why I think it is
important that he attends meetings regularly,” he said.
Another Justice and Legal Affairs official said even before Gutu came into
office, Tomana hardly ever attended the meetings. Tomana became
Attorney-General in December 2008.
“The AG would rarely attend those meetings, but what was of interest was the
fight over the order of protocol in the ministry, “said the source. “There
would always be tensions as to who chairs the meeting if Chinamasa is
“Some preferred that the AG chairs, based on the fact that he sits in the
cabinet. But there was a disagreement over that decision as the deputy
minister would feel that as far as protocol is concerned, then he should
chair. However, because the AG rarely attends, the deputy minister is the
one who chairs,” said the source.
However, Tomana dismissed the allegations as baseless saying he attended and
he felt fully represented by all departments in his office if he could not
attend in person.
“It is not true that I don’t attend the meetings. When I am not around
attending to other business, I always have all my departments representing
me. It is honestly farfetched to say that my absence stalls work progress.
“Those meetings have never stopped taking place because of my absence and
they still continue to be held. Whoever said those things is a big liar, a
very big liar. Of course the meetings are important. They are like the
normal day to day meetings, like at any another workplace discussing
challenges and how they can be resolved among other issues,” said Tomana.
Thursday, 28 April 2011 21:52
JOSTLING for top positions within the fractious MDC-T will hit fever pitch
today ahead of Saturday’s election of senior party leaders at the explosive
congress which takes place against a backdrop of internal strife, violence
The congress, which reaches its zenith tomorrow with the election of the
party’s political heavyweights, is widely seen as a democratic test for the
MDC-T and its leader Morgan Tsvangirai. It is also a barometer of the party’s
preparedness for general elections and its ability to effectively lead the
country. The MDC-T congress will come up with a resolution on elections.
Coming once every five years, congress is the supreme organ of the MDC-T and
is composed of all members of the national council, national executive of
women, national executive of youth, provincial executive committees, the
chairperson, secretary, organising secretary and treasurer from each
district executive committee and provincial and district levels of the
national assemblies of women and youth and external assemblies, the
chairperson of each ward executive committee and party MPs, mayors and
chairpersons of local authorities.
Observations at the party congress in Bulawayo showed the vicious fight for
positions and influence is mainly concentrated within the top party
structures, especially among members of the party’s standing committee which
includes Tsvangirai (president), Thokozani Khupe (deputy president),
Lovemore Moyo (chairman), Tendai Biti (secretary general), Tapiwa Mashakada
(deputy secretary general), Roy Bennett (treasurer), Elton Mangoma (deputy
treasurer), Elias Mudzuri (organising secretary), Morgan Komichi (deputy
organising secretary), Nelson Chamisa (information & publicity), Theresa
Makone (women chairperson) and Thamsanqa Mahlangu (youth leader).
Battles within the MDC-T have become even more explosive amid revelations
that Zanu PF and state security agents were fuelling power struggles and
bickering in a bid to leave the party fractured and weak.
Senior MDC-T officials said last night Biti was mainly targeted for removal
by a group of hostile colleagues working with Zanu PF officials and state
agents who want to weaken their party.
“There is intense and vicious competition for positions within the party.
Only Tsvangirai and Bennett are 100% safe, otherwise the rest of us have to
fight it out all the way,” a top MDC official said. “Even those who are
commanding comfortable leads such Khupe and Chamisa have to sweat for
victory because competitors are still breathing hard on their necks.”
Another official said the wrangling has been exacerbated by “Zanu PF and
state security interference”.
“The party is heavily infiltrated. When history is written people would be
shocked. Some of the candidates fighting for positions are being sponsored
by Zanu PF and state security. They are very well-known,” the official said.
“While we must accept responsibility for infighting and violence by some
rogue party elements, whom Tsvangirai said will be expelled, we must also
not overlook the issue of external interference which has in all fairness
fuelled violent behaviour and brutality.”
Initially everyone was challenged except Tsvangirai, although the party
leader himself has been feeling the heat due to manoeuvres by his interval
rivals who have been plotting to first weaken him and then oust him at later
stages. Tsvangirai moved swiftly to crush opposition by targeting Mudzuri
who for a long time has been widely seen as over-ambitious and plotting his
removal. The MDC-T leader last year dropped Mudzuri as cabinet minister,
paving way for his removal from the top party structures.
As a result, Mudzuri is almost certainly going to be the biggest casualty of
the MDC-T congress. Only a miracle will save Mudzuri from being defeated by
Chamisa, a close Tsvangirai ally who is also associated with Biti.
Tsvangirai and Biti are uneasy bedfellows. Although the two have publicly
said they are not rivals, there is no love lost between the two most
powerful MDC-T officials.
Apart from Tsvangirai, the only other safe official is Bennett who is no
longer under any challenge after Mangoma and Sekai Holland withdrew to fight
it out for the position of deputy treasurer. Khupe is also safe despite
pushing and shoving around her by Norman Mabena and Tabitha Khumalo.
Moyo, who is also speaker of parliament, is being challenged by Lucia
Matibenga. Although Moyo is ahead, Matibenga has caused enough discomfort
for him to end up trying to brandish the regional and ethnic card to
survive. Moyo has been widely quoted as saying he has heard that someone
from outside Matabeleland (Matibenga) region has been trying to challenge
him but warned that would upset the tribal balance in the party if he is
Biti is also battling a spirited challenge from senior national executive
member and fellow minister Eliphas Mukonoweshuro. In their contest there are
murmurs of tribalism as Biti, who hails from Harare, suspects he was being
targeted for removal by a tribal cabal from Masvingo.
Other top standing committee members are also jittery as their positions are
under threat. Officials will today seek to make the final push to retain
their positions or outmanoeuvre their rivals ahead of tomorrow’s elections
of the top leadership.
Thursday, 28 April 2011 21:48
MDC-T treasurer Roy Bennett said he would not challenge the loss of his
senate seat after missing 21 consecutive seatings.
Bennett, who is in self-imposed exile in neighbouring South Africa, blamed
President Robert Mugabe and Zanu PF for blocking his attempts to carry out
his duties as a senator through repeated incarceration.
Mugabe openly declared that he would not allow Bennett to be sworn in as a
senator describing him as a member of the Rhodesian Selous Scouts, a charge
which he vehemently denies.
“I am not worried that I have lost my senate seat or the fact that I have
not been sworn in (as Deputy Agriculture minister). I accepted to serve both
the people and Zimbabwe but it has become very apparent this would not have
been possible, as it has been one of the major issues that have highlighted
the duplicity, insincerity and total control of the junta,” Bennett told the
Zimbabwe Independent from London Thursday.
“The blame rests squarely on the hands of Mugabe and the junta that controls
him, which is now very apparent by the state of the Global Political
Agreement and state of affairs in the country.”
Bennett said he was disappointed by MDC-T members in government, accusing
them of not doing enough to fight for the party’s cause.
“The party has done what it can as the MDC to help all its members. The
problem arises with the MDC in government where it has exposed clearly that
military rule is in charge and that when it comes to victimisation, violence
and arrests, the government is responsible through the office of the
Attorney- General and clearly that the MDC in government is powerless. We
get back to the reason for entering the totally polarised marriage as
humanitarian at the expense of political capital.”
Bennett, who was acquitted on banditry, terrorism and insurgency charges and
is now facing contempt of court charges after High Court judge Justice
Chinembiri Bhunu accused him of defamation, said being in exile was
“Exile is very difficult and depressing, but it is also an opportunity to
meet face to face with politicians and businessmen from Africa and all over
the world and also to explain the need for democracy in Zimbabwe.
The challenges are day to day survival, having to rely on supporters for
assistance, dealing with the negative perceptions, and turning them around
with the truth. Being away from home, family and friends is the hardest of
Bennett claimed that the violence rocking the MDC-T was the work of its
“There is no doubt that the MDC has been infiltrated by the junta at the
highest level and that they will use all resources, human and monetary
available to them to create violence and divisions in the MDC to try and
make sure their spies are elected into the right positions,” he said.
Bennett says despite his acquittal on treason charges, he would not be
returning home anytime soon. “I am under an arrest warrant for contempt of
court and perjury. Since my return to Zimbabwe in 2009, I have been
consistently harassed, arrested and threatened. I will come home along with
millions of other Zimbabweans to take our rightful place when there is
respect for the rule of law and state security realises that they alone do
not own Zimbabwe,” he said.
Thursday, 28 April 2011 21:06
THE International Crisis Group (ICG) says failure to implement security
sector reforms under the Global Political Agreement is an indictment of the
coalition government and this had a negative effect on the public’s
confidence in state institutions.
In a report titled “Zimbabwe: The road to reform or another dead end”
released this week, the Brussels-based international pressure group
criticised the signatories to the GPA for lacking the willpower to realign
the country’s hawkish security sector.
The ICG said Zimbabwe’s “worsening” climate of fear and violence was an
indication that the security sector reform was the most immediate challenge
that needs to be urgently addressed.
The report further states that unless the security sector was reformed,
Zimbabweans would have no confidence in any election.
Article 13 of the GPA says that all state organs and institutions should
perform their duties ethically and professionally in conformity with the
principles and requirements of a multi-party democratic system in which all
parties are treated equally.
Zanu PF and the two MDCs agreed that “all state organs and institutions
strictly observe the principles of the rule of law and remain non-partisan
and impartial, laws and regulations governing state organs and institutions
are strictly adhered to and those violating them be penalised without fear
or favour and recruitment policies and practices be conducted in a manner
that ensures that no political or other form of favouritism is practised”.
The ICG sad despite the GPA’s “oblique references” to the security sector
and the criminal justice system, neither has been placed under democratic
As a result of this lack of progress, ICG says the GPA has become a
“battleground” for control of the country’s future.
“Formal security sector reform within the GPA framework has in effect
remained off limits, a number of unofficial initiatives to constructively
engage the security sector have not gained traction. This remains the most
immediate and profound challenge to the transition and continues to have a
large effect on public confidence,” the report reads.
The report also condemned the failure by President Robert Mugabe and Prime
Minister Morgan Tsvangirai for failing to effectively deal with public
“It is unacceptable that Zimbabwe’s political leaders have not developed
concrete plans to stop the violence and have done little more than make
public statements. Measures to stem violence also need to involve a much
wider set of political, social and economic actors and focus on rebuilding
confidence in the police and criminal justice institutions, whose
credibility is badly tarnished.”
The group also lamented the coalition government’s reluctance to introduce
meaningful reforms in the media sector.
“The state media is still grotesquely unbalanced, and the criminal justice
system continues to be used as a weapon against Zanu PF opponents, in
particular the MDC-T. In addition, important institutions need to be
strengthened, including parliamentary committees and the Human Rights, Media
and Electoral Commissions.”
The ICG observed that the slow pace and “painful” implementation of the GPA
exposed Zanu PF’s encroachment on the state and the security apparatus as
well as the MDC’s lack of capacity to address this distortion.
The report said the MDC-T said was presently weaker than it was before
joining the inclusive government and it was now highly questionable if it
could provide a credible alternative to Zanu PF.
“Despite holding a majority in parliament, the two MDC wings have not
rigorously pursued possibilities for legislative reform, thereby
demonstrating an apparent inability to share and implement a strategic
vision or wrestle control of policymaking from the executive.”
“Concerns have also been raised that the MDC-T has not taken sufficient
advantage of opportunities within the new political configuration to
consolidate and build its position around key policies and programmes,” says
The ICG says Zanu PF’s ability to outmanoeuvre the MDC-T within the
executive was the reason for the lack of progress on democratic
It also pointed out that Zanu PF’s concerns about Mugabe’s health and the
unresolved tensions around succession had created pressure for elections to
be held while Mugabe was still relatively fit.
Thursday, 28 April 2011 21:05
A CLOSE relative of President Robert Mugabe is challenging the political
future of Local Government minister and Zanu PF politburo member Ignatius
Chombo (pictured right) after expressing interest in contesting the Zvimba
North House of Assembly seat currently held by the minister.
Edwin Matibiri, a newly resettled Mutorashanga farmer, has decided to
provide Chombo with his first major challenge in a constituency the latter
has represented since 1995.
Zanu PF insiders said Matibiri’s entry in the race for the seat, which falls
under the president’s home district, was a deliberate ploy by a powerful
faction in the province to flush out people not originally from Mashonaland
Although Chombo has settled in Chitomborwizi in Zvimba district, he
originally hails from Chibwanda Village close to Mahusekwa in Mashonaland
East. The first high profile politician to suffer the politics of
“regionalism” in Mashonaland West was Paul Mangwana who was hounded out of
the province in 2005. Mangwana eventually returned to seek political office
in his home district of Chivi in Masvingo.
“Locals in the district (Zvimba) have started questioning why they are
represented by people from outside the province,” said a Zanu PF insider.
“This is not a new phenomenon. In the past, people like Paul Mangwana were
hunted out of Mashonaland West province.”
The insiders said Matibiri’s intention to challenge Chombo had forced the
minister to launch an early reelection campaign.
“Chombo is taking the challenge seriously and is holding rallies in the
constituency and dishing out foodstuffs. He feels the challenge is being
orchestrated by senior politicians in the party who are supporting young
Chombo told the Zimbabwe Independent yesterday that he was yet to be
officially informed of any challenge to his seat but he was ready to face
anyone in the political arena to defend his turf.
“Primary election nominations have not yet been called. However, party
members have a right to contest for any position when the nominations are
called. The more the contestants the merrier it becomes, as voters will have
a wide spectrum to choose their leaders from,” said Chombo.
Chombo admitted that he was not originally from Zvimba, but reiterated his
right to contest the seat saying most people in the district were settlers
from different parts of the country.
“In Zvimba there is freedom of politics. We have come from everywhere and
resettled on farms,” Chombo argued. “Representation of people in the
district is based on one’s participation in Zanu PF.”
However, insiders said those from outside Mashonaland West were being asked
to return to their districts of origin and seek office there.
Thursday, 28 April 2011 20:37
THE fate of Air Zimbabwe chairman Jonathan Kadzura hangs in the balance as
he has reportedly quit the troubled airline amid talk that he had fallen out
of favour with Transport minister Nicholas Goche over the recent strike by
the airline’s pilots.
Transport minister Nicholas Goche, to whom Kadzura is supposed to have
submitted his resignation, could neither confirm nor deny speculation
surrounding Kadzura’s tenure.
“You should ask him (Kadzura) on whether he has resigned or not,” he said in
a telephone interview yesterday.
Kadzura gave a veiled response to businessdigest’s inquiry: “I haven’t
really done that. I have heard that. But you can’t keep such news away from
However, impeccable sources within the aviation industry said Kadzura had
tendered his resignation, but Goche had turned it down.
The sources said Kadzura threw in the towel as the national carrier’s chair,
frustrated that he was bypassed twice during critical meetings to resolve
the pilots’ crippling job action.
The sources said the embattled Air Zimbabwe chair, who has witnessed two
paralysing strikes within a space of six months since his appointment in
2009, tendered his resignation after government by-passed him and directly
struck a deal with the pilots on April 14.
Goche, according to sources, did not accept the resignation although he is
understood to have already lined up former Air Zimbabwe acting CEO Oscar
Madombwe or ZTA chief Karikoga Kaseke to succeed Kadzura.
Kadzura is said to have fallen out favour with Goche over the manner in
which he handled the strike. He was consistently quoted as saying the
airline had no cash to meet the financial obligations, a development that is
understood to have irked the pilots.
Kadzura, previously vice chairman, succeeded Mike Bimha as chairman after
the former chair was appointed Industry and Commerce deputy minister at the
formation of the inclusive government two years ago.
Information gathered by businessdigest indicates that at meetings convened
last September to save the financially beleaguered airline Captain Courage
Munyanyiwa represented the pilots, Patson Mbiriri stood in for
the shareholder (government) while immediate past Air Zimbabwe CEO Peter
Chikumba was not party to the meetings.
“They agreed during these meeting that arrears
owed to the pilots should be cleared within six months.
Government failed to meet this deadline, which resulted in the most recent
strike. Kadzura was again not actively involved on the negotiations, which
could have annoyed him as board chairman. Acting CEO Innocent Mavhunga,
Munyanyiwa and Mbiriri instead took part in these negotiations.”
Air Zimbabwe pilots went on a strike on last month over non-payment of
nearly US$3 million in outstanding salaries. The strike, according to the
sources, was stopped after the parties agreed government would immediately
pay 74% of the arrears, with the remainder being cleared by end of August
Meanwhile, Munyanyiwa is understood to have quit the national carrier amid
reports that he has joined a Middle East airline.
Thursday, 28 April 2011 21:47
AFRICA First ReNaissance Corporation Limited (Afre) Executive chairman
Patterson Timba has resigned from the group with immediate effect, as the
Reserve Bank launches investigations into what appears to be irregular
inter-party transactions among companies linked to the financial services
The trail of the interparty financial transactions have their origins in a
US$12 million loan Timba is alleged to have borrowed from controversial
Indian business tycoon Jahesh Shah, but failed to pay back in full. The
money was to recapitalise Renaissance Merchant Bank, in line with the
minimum capital requirements prescribed by the Reserve Bank.
It is not clear whether Timba borrowed the money in his personal capacity or
directly on behalf of Renaissance.
However, Afre in which ReNaissance has a 30% plus stake, was offered as
security as it is like a pension fund and its shares have value.
The official comment from Afre, contained in a notice to shareholders
yesterday, is that Timba has resigned “to pursue personal interests.”
However, information gleaned from various sources this week indicate that
Timba left the group he founded in a cloud of dust as the chickens from his
dealings with the ever controversial Indian tycoon came home to roost. Shah
reported the alleged defaulted loan to the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe as the
regulator of banks in an effort to recover his money.
Insiders at the Reserve Bank say Timba had repaid US$5,8 million. Of that
amount, Timba is said to have got US$2 million from Econet boss Strive
Masiyiwa, US$1 million from TN bank, US$1, 8 million from Metropolitan and
US$1 million from Kingdom bank.
However, Shah alleged that the money he was given was stolen from either
depositors’ funds or Afre assets.
This resulted to the Reserve Bank investigating Rennaisance Merchant Bank
since last month. Insiders at RBZ said they discovered related inter party
transactions during their investigations. The investigations are still
Finance Minister Tendai Biti this week expressed strong concerns over a high
loans default rate, amid fears this could trigger a banking sector crisis.
Biti said seven banking institutions were yet to meet RBZ prescribed minimum
capital requirements. There are 28 banking institutions in Zimbabwe.
“They (RBZ) concluded that the (Rensaissance) bank had liquidity problems.
The net result is that Rennaisance Financial Holdings Limited owns Afre and
is the second biggest shareholder in RTG. They also worked with Econet and
TN Financial Holdings. Money was being transferred into these companies’
accounts,” sources said last night.
Insiders said Afre was the first to respond because Masiyiwa a major
shareholder in Afre did not want to be painted black due to unethical
Sibusisiwe Ndlovu has been appointed acting Group CEO with immediate effect.
Before her appointment she was Afre Group COO since September 2007.
Ariston Holdings Ltd Rachel Kupara has been appointed non-executive
chairperson with immediate effect.
Efforts to contact Timba, Ndlovu were unsuccessful. Renaissance Merchant
Bank chairman Lovemore Moyo professed ignorance at the goings on at his
RTG major shareholder Nicholas Van Hoogstraten is pushing for a vote of no
confidence in Timba.
Timba is not the only one who owes money to Shah. Some local financial
institutions and central banks in the region are also indebted to him.
Thursday, 28 April 2011 20:34
FINANCE minister Tendai Biti sees Zimbabwe’s gold output rising this year
but warned discord over indigenisation and empowerment regulations targeting
foreign-owned mining companies could stifle investment in the sector.
Presenting a statement on the state of the economy for the first quarter of
this year, Biti on Tuesday said as bullion currently enjoyed buoyant prices
on the international market, local production had risen to 2 453,4 kg, up
27% from 1 931,1 kg recorded in the same period last year.
He attributed the gradual rise to uninterrupted power supply and continued
firming of commodity prices on the international market, which has driven
the mining index on the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange to 237,2 points from 216,82
points between January and March.
International gold prices went up 4,8% to US$1 421 per ounce from US$1 356,6
during the period under review.
By year end, government is projecting an annual gold output of 13 tonnes, a
figure that makes Zimbabwe eligible for readmission into the London Bullion
Market, but far below the country’s all time high output of 27 tonnes in
Zimbabwe was disqualified from the prestigious market in 2008, after it
produced only three tonnes of the precious metal that year, a figure far
below the mandatory annual production of 10 tonnes required by the London
“In the mining sector, developments since the beginning of the year to date
are supporting the overall projected sector growth of 33%,” Biti said.
“The continued lack of clarity in the implementation of the Indigenisation
and Empowerment Act is severely frightening potential investors in the
country. This is affecting foreign direct investment in the mining sector
and other investments.”
Biti however reassured investors no foreign-owned mining company would be
“expropriated” despite threats by Zanu PF politicians that the state would
take-over or nationalise foreign companies.
“Government therefore needs to speak with one voice and reassure the
international community that the indigenisation and empowerment law (does
not mean) expropriation,” he said.
Government, through the Ministry of Youth Development, Indigenisation and
Empowerment last month gazetted regulations compelling foreign-owned mining
companies with a net asset value of US$1 to dispose of a 51% stake to black
Zimbabweans within six months. This prompted the Chamber of Mines of
Zimbabwe to engage government on the controversial regulations.
The chamber proposed to government a minimum indigenisation quota of 26%
equity with the balance of 25% made up of credits arising from corporate
social investments, support to the small scale mining sector, local
procurement, skills development, release of ground and establishment of new
Thursday, 28 April 2011 20:31
FINANCE minister Tendai Biti says the economy still faces daunting
“challenges and risks,” warning political turmoil in the Middle East could
pile inflationary pressures on the economy.
Biti said failure by some “small banks” to comply with minimum capital
adequacy thresholds would worsen vulnerabilities in the banking sector,
whose deposits grew to US$2,4 billion in February from US$2,3 billion in
Reserve Bank governor Gideon Gono last year set a December 31 deadline for
financial services sector players to meet varying capital requirements.
Government is projecting a 9,3% GDP growth driven by strong performance in
agriculture, manufacturing and mining.
This figure represents a 1,2% percentage point rise from last year’s GDP
growth. Biti said Zimbabwe faced eight challenges and risks going forward.
He said inflation, high levels of recurrent expenditure, an unsustainably
high wage bill, restructuring of parastatals, high debt overhang, lack of
clarity on indigenisation and empowerment regulations, financial sector
vulnerabilities and the current account deficit could offset growth
On inflation, the Finance minister said local industry, currently operating
at an average of 45% capacity owing to high cost of utilities as well as
limited and costly capital should become competitive by reducing production
costs to absorb external pressures from fuel increases on the back of a
firming South African rand against the United States dollar. Neighbouring
South Africa is Zimbabwe’s major trading partner.
Month-on-month inflation decelerated from 0,9% in January 2011 to 0,5% in
February and 0,8% in March, Biti said.
Apart from the soaring crude oil price which rose to US$109/barrel in March
from US$92 in January, the Finance minister blamed what he termed
speculative general price increases in education and other commodities for
undermining collective efforts in growing the economy.
In what seemed to be a reference to State Enterprises and Parastatals
minister Gorden Moyo, who completed a paper on restructuring of loss-making
state entities, Biti said government should expedite the lethargic process.
To create fiscal space and achieve sustainable economic growth, Biti
proposed a “massive” 23,7% cut in recurrent expenditure.
Critics say government should immediately restructure state-owned mobile
phone operator NetOne, which lost substantial market share to Telecel and
“Despite a number of pronouncements to restructure public enterprises, very
little progress is being made in this regard. Government should therefore
move with speed in the implementation of the already approved restructuring
framework for parastatals,” said Biti during his presentation on the state
of the economy.
He said plans were on course to service Zimbabwe’s external debt, which he
said was starving the country of foreign capital. This came after government
last year approved a hybrid debt resolution blending the IMF’s Highly
Indebted Poor Countries debt relief initiative and the use of the country’s
“The country’s high debt overhang of over US$1,7 billion has become the
single largest obstacle to meaningfully attracting foreign capital into the
country,” Biti said.
“The Debt Management Office is now fully operational and government will be
accelerating the reengagement process aimed at resolving the clearance of
Zimbabwe’s external payment arrears.”
The Finance minister further said government was seeking to reduce the
current account deficit to US$1,2 billion from US$1,8 billion on the back of
an anticipated growth in exports and improved remittances from Zimbabweans
living abroad. This development comes in the wake of a government ban on
chrome ore exports.
Government is projecting a 33% growth in the mining sector, driven by strong
growth in gold, nickel, chrome ore and coal output.
Thursday, 28 April 2011 20:31
GOVERNMENT spent US$519,5 million in the first quarter of 2011, Finance
minister Tendai Biti said this week.
Zimbabwe’s total expenditure surged to US$184 million in March from US$183
million in February 2011. In January, total expenditure was US$152 million.
Biti said government had collected US$656 million against a target of US$690
million in the same period, amid fears treasury could slide into a wider
Biti said the expenditure pattern was being aligned to revenues collected.
Of the total expenditure in the first quarter, recurrent expenditure was
93,7% while capital expenditure was 3,9%.
“Out of the total recurrent expenditure of US$486,6 million, major
expenditure components were employment costs at US$248,6 million and foreign
travel at US$12,5 million,” said Biti while giving an overview of the
economy’s performance in the first quarter of the year.
He said government had to reduce recurrent expenditure and enhance exports
to save funds for civil servants’ salaries.
Of the US$519 million spent since January, government used about 60% on
staff related expenses, Biti said.
Total exports in the first quarter amounted to US$2,7 billion against
imports of US$4 billion, which makes Zimbabwe a net importer.
Biti is on record as warning that revenue collections were about 35%
off-target during the first two months of the year as the country was not
meeting its economic expectations and revenue collection.
The developments also come as the International Monetary Fund (IMF) last
month warned that government faced a widening financing gap. Increasing
public service wages would exert inflationary pressures on the fragile
Of the amount collected in February, the US$30,7 million overrun was mainly
driven by the bloated public sector wage bill. Out of the US$183 million,
US$161 million was recurrent expenditure, he said.
Employment costs amounted to US$90 million in February, up from US$73
million in January 2011.
Payment for goods and services amounted to US$23,2 million against a budget
of US$19 million. Actual expenditure in February was also a US$4 million
increase on January’s bill at US$19 million.
As a result of these excesses, government paid a record US$6,7 million in
interest and other debt obligations, despite having provisioned for similar
repayments in February.
Meanwhile, total income amounted to US$234 million in February against a
projected US$180 million. The income increased from US$191 million in
January. Capital expenditure was also off-target in February at US$8,4
million, against a budgeted US$7 million, while income and profit taxes
collected totalled US$68 million, up from US$61 million in the previous
Thursday, 28 April 2011 20:29
THE Ministry of Industry and Commerce’s spirited efforts towards an economic
turnaround, underpinned by Zimbabwe’s Industrial Development policy
2011-2015, may come to naught if important and urgent issues such as
liquidity crisis, conducive political and investment environment, and
uncertainties to business are not addressed, analysts said this week.
The overall objective of the policy is to restore the manufacturing sector’s
contribution to Zimbabwe’s GDP from the current 15% to 30% and lift its
contribution to exports from 26% to 50% by 2015.
An average annual real GDP growth of 15% is targeted under this policy
The director in the Ministry of Industry and Commerce, Stanislaus Mangoma,
said policies in Zimbabwe, including the new policy framework, fail because
there has been no emphasis and work done towards creating a vibrant self
“It appears there is more talk and less action and yet, we know exactly what
is needed if the country’s economy is to improve,” he said.
“Issues such as certainty among business people are important for them to
plan ahead, value add products, and come up with sound policies. A (stable)
political environment that attracts real investment is needed if the
industrial development policy is to succeed,” Mangoma said.
The vision of the policy is to transform Zimbabwe from a producer of primary
goods into a producer of processed and value-added goods for both the
domestic and export market.
It also seeks to create a vibrant, self-sustaining and competitive economy
through promotion of viable industrial and commercial sectors, as well as
domestic and international trade.
Economic analyst Eric Bloch said the failure of Zimbabwe’s industrial
development policies in the past was owing to diverse circumstances mainly
related to government’s gross economic decimation strategies.
He said government’s actions and consequential inhibition of private and
public sector operations also contributed to policy failures.
“Zimbabwe needs reliable power supplies if the policy is to succeed.
Ill-conceived, counterproductive, indigenisation legislation has also
impacted adversely upon the manufacturing sector, having created major
obstacles to accessing capital, offshore loan funding, and investment,” he
Bloch said a reversal of these negatives required economic policies which
prevent a recurrence of unsustainable inflation, access to international
funding, meaningful export incentives and constructive customs policies.
“There is need for a realistic revision of legislation, and parastatal
privatisation which will assure reliable, regular service supply by the
present parastatal entities,” Bloch said.
He said lack of product competitiveness had intensified owing to foreign
products which are being smuggled into Zimbabwe, thus avoiding customs
“This is exacerbated by diverse Far East imports being misrepresented as
being of Sadc origin, thereby benefitting from the duty rebate preferences
accorded to products of Sadc he said.
Economic analyst Luxon Zembe said the political environment was key if the
policy’s objectives were to be achieved.
“While there may be political differences and bickering, the mood swings of
the bickering individuals should not be allowed to transcend national
interests,” he said
“Let us align ourselves to partners that bring us maximum economic benefits
and ask ourselves what kind of an environment we want.” Economic turnaround
strategies inevitably call for substantial foreign investment. Sadly no
foreign investors, even from the east, have significantly invested in
Zimbabwe has since the land reform fared badly in international relations.
Traditionally allied to the West, Zimbabwe has turned to the East.
Analysts said the foreign policy of any society is of paramount importance
to the survival of its economy.
Economist John Robertson said if the framework were to bear fruit,
government needed to control its expenditure while at the same time creating
an environment that attracted investment which will be channeled toward
major sectors of the economy to generate more revenue.
“Most investors are sensitive to a political environment that is associated
with violence and confusion. This is an issue that needs to be addressed as
soon as possible,” Robertson said.
Enemy number one for any plausible economic turnaround effort is government’s
unlimited propensity to spend, analysts said.
Despite proclamations from some sections of government that it has since
seen the logic of living within its means, the situation on the ground is a
Equally counter-productive to Zimbabwe’s Industrial Development policy
2011 -2015 is government’s allergy to criticism.
“It is wrong for the government to take any dissenting voice as that of an
enemy of the State. This has killed all efforts towards any meaningful
dialogue within the country and with other international organizations,”
The same attitude has seen government’s sympathizers responding to any
criticism by spewing out venomous and propagandist vitriol, exonerating the
government of all its wrong doing even when the criticism is constructive.
Economist Brains Muchemwa said policies in Zimbabwe have traditionally
failed because they have always been premised on the wrong targets.
“Industrial development policies in Zimbabwe should primarily focus on value
addition in agriculture and mining, whilst the other industries should
benefit from the spin-offs,” he said.
“And the most important role of government is not in drafting a policy
document, but ensuring that the financial markets create sufficient
instruments that are able to develop the said targets, failure of which the
policy will be just another waste of time,” Muchemwa said.
Thursday, 28 April 2011 20:29
By a Special Correspondent
INDIGENISATION and Economic Empowerment minister Saviour Kasukuwere recently
gazetted General Notice 114, purportedly made in terms of Section 5(4) as
read with Section 5A of the Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment
(General) Regulations 2010.
The notice is clearly ultra vires the regulations and must be nullified by
the Parliamentary Legal Committee.
Section 5 (4) of the regulations provides that the minister shall publish a
notice in the Gazette prescribing, with respect to each sector or subsector
of the economy, what lesser share than 51% shall be the lesser share that
indigenous Zimbabweans may hold in a business operating in a specific sector
or subsector, and for what maximum period it may continue to so operate and
what weighting to assign to any particular socially and economically
desirable objectives. Notice 114 does not prescribe any of those three
In the preamble to the notice, it is alleged that the minister has
prescribed the minimum requirements for indigenous implementation plans
submitted by businesses in the mining sector.
However, Section 5 (4) of the regulations requires him to prescribe lesser
shares, for each sector or subsector of the economy than the minimum
indigenisation and empowerment quota, so the notice is ultra vires section 5
(4) of the regulations.
The regulations require that every business with an asset value of US$500
000 or more must submit a provisional indigenisation plan. However, in the
notice the minister directs that every mining business whose net asset value
is US$1 or more, must submit an indigenous implementation form within 45
days. He has no authority to issue a notice which has the effect of
amending the regulations.
In the notice, the minister directs that a non-indigenous mining business
must achieve the minimum indigenisation and empowerment quota by the
disposal of its shares to be a designated entity as defined in the notice.
The designated entities are the Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation or a
subsidiary thereof, the National Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment
Fund or a subsidiary thereof or a statutory sovereign wealth fund or an
employee/management/community share ownership scheme or trust.
However, none of the designated entities are indigenous Zimbabweans, so
compliance with the requirements of the notice does not amount to compliance
with the requirements of the Act or the regulations and in fact is
inconsistent with the Act.
The regulations provide that failure to comply with certain provisions
thereof constitutes an offence but they do not provide that failure to
comply with a notice issued by the minister is an offence. Accordingly
Notice 114 is a brutumfulmen
The notice provides that the value of the shares to be disposed of must be
calculated on a basis of valuation agreed to between the minister and the
If the minister and the business cannot reach an agreement there is no
provision for resolving the dispute so no value will be able to be fixed.
The notice provides that the value must take any account the state’s
sovereign ownership of the minerals to be exploited. There is no indication
of how that should or would be done.
lThe author of this critique is a senior legal practitioner in Harare.
Thursday, 28 April 2011 20:27
GOVERNMENT should allocate resources to resuscitate the depleting national
herd and revive the dairy sector, Dairibord Holdings Ltd (DHL) CEO Anthony
Mandiwanza told businessdigest last week at the company’s annual general
meeting in the capital that government must spearhead local commercial milk
“Government’s advantage is that it is centrally located to attract the much
needed grants from international monetary institutions. If government is
committed to the process, the sector will take a jump in the right
“Milk production development has always been a central government
responsibility because it does not go well with a company’s balance sheet.
If wishes were horses the sector would be back to peak levels between three
and five years,” said Mandiwanza.
At its peak in 1991, the national dairy herd stood at more than 191 000
compared to the current 20 000.
Mandiwanza said there was need for government to launch feasible animal
husbandry schemes targeting commercial practice instead of the small scale
farmers that cannot sustain the sector. The company’s sales volumes for the
year ended December 2010 grew by 48%, mainly driven by domestic markets
whilst exports accounted for 5% of the total volume of sales.
Mandiwanza attributed the improvement in performance to an increase in raw
milk intake in the country.
“The raw milk intake at group level continues to firm up and this positive
trend in raw milk intake can be attributed to the stabilization of the
economy,” he said.
Liquid milks contributed 35% to both sales volumes revenue whilst foods
contributed 16% to sales volumes and 29% to revenue.
Beverages accounted for 49% of the sales volumes and 35% of revenue.
DHL managed to record a US$75,187 million annual turnover, a 73% growth from
Profit before tax from operations was US$8,017 million up from US$4,089 in
the prior period.
Addressing delegates at the company’s annual general meeting on last
Wednesday, Mandiwanza said his company had benefited from the stable
economic conditions in the period under review.
He said; “The operating environment in 2010 was fairly conducive, setting
the platform for consolidating growth achieved in 2009. The year-on-year
inflation was stable and ended the year at 3, 2% whilst the economy grew by
8, and 1%.”
Thursday, 28 April 2011 20:58
THE Editor’s Memo “Alliance key to dislodging Zanu PF” (Zimbabwe
Independent, April 1) by Constantine Chimakure, was thoughtful and brutally
honest and is deserving of a positive response.
Chimakure draws attention to our party’s congress and the objectives which
should be focused on.
He correctly reminds the party that it should remain steadfast in being a
people-driven and responsive organisation.
As such, he will no doubt agree that leaders elected by the congress into
positions of influence must be individuals of courage, integrity and
resilience with demonstrable grass roots support.
Delegates should shun those individuals seeking leadership positions, and
who offer money, or promises of position and entitlement.
By their actions in office they should shame Zanu PF’s bully tactics.
I also agree that our party must earnestly re-build its relationships with
civil society. It must clearly and consistently come down on the side of
people marginalised by Zanu PF’s greed.
All delegates must realise that in re-building relationships with civil
society players they will be regarded as credible by civil society.
I also believe congress must adopt an “Empowerment/Indigenisation Integrity”
charter. This charter should preclude senior office bearers, their
relatives, or any connected MDC-T individual from being beneficiaries of
empowerment initiatives while they hold office.
The example of Marange is clear. The beneficiaries of the development of
this diamond deposit should first and foremost be the Zimbabwean people via
the transparent and honest stewardship of the Finance ministry and secondly
the community of Marange itself. The MDC-T must remain vigilant, that some
amongst us do not ingratiate themselves at the same patronage
“indigenisation” table of Saviour Kasukuwere
We as a party must remain steadfast in our service remembering the courage
of those who paid the supreme sacrifice to liberate Zimbabwe from the
pestilence of Zanu PF rule.
We all know the MDC-T has its own fallen heroes and heroines; my late close
friend Tonderai Ndira comes to mind. We salute them!
So from all Zimbabweans, forced from our beloved country by a vengeful,
repressive regime, I urge delegates to vote for those candidates they know
will serve the interests of our people with honesty, humility and
Thursday, 28 April 2011 20:50
SOUTH African ministers have proved adept at placing their snouts in the
national trough, even exceeding the depredations of our own well-fed
political class, it would seem.
The Sunday Times reported that Local Government minister Sicelo Shiceka has
been staying at Cape Town’s sumptuous One&Only hotel, taking a sangoma and
the sangoma’s wife along with him for company. The stay at the Sol
Kerzner-owned establishment cost the South African taxpayer R640 000 over a
year. He spent a further R160 000 to fly his family around South Africa.
Not content with this indulgence, the minister flew to Switzerland, first
class of course, to visit his girlfriend in prison on drugs-related charges.
He spent R335 000 on the trip accompanied by his personal assistant (not the
sangoma) and staying once again in a five-star hotel.
The pair were allocated a total of R147 000 in foreign exchange.
Once in Bern, Justice Malala writing in the Financial Mail reminds us,
Shiceka cancelled his booking at the four-star Hotel Allegro and moved to
the five-star Hotel Bellevue Palace. He then hired a limo from the hotel to
visit his girlfriend in jail. Owing to the late cancellation of the Hotel
Allegro booking the South African embassy had to pick up the R4 600 penalty.
Shiceka had claimed that his trip was an official visit in his capacity as
chairman of the soccer World Cup host cities forum.
The South African embassy in Bern proved sceptical about the minister’s
“With regards to Ms Phumla Masilela (the girlfriend), an embassy official
wrote, “contrary to the assertion that she works at some rehabilitation
centre here in Switzerland, she is one of the South African persons in
He did not meet a single Swiss official during his stay, Malala notes. “His
only official engagement was seeing his girlfriend twice in five days.”
Moving north of the border where a political aristocracy has been long
established, we were interested to note Alexander Kanengoni’s pretence that
people are put on the West’s sanctions list just for expressing a point of
view. This came as part of an attack on Morgan Tsvangirai.
“If that is what it takes to have your name put on the sanctions list, it’s
crazy. Just to express your point of view,” Kanengoni wrote in the Herald on
This is somewhat disingenuous. Kanengoni knows perfectly well that the
criterion for getting listed is blocking democratic progress or indulging in
political violence. It has nothing to do with simply expressing an opinion.
This is how Herald columnists mislead the country.
Kanengoni added this thought to his tirade against Tsvangirai: “Giving land
to the people and economically empowering them to own and control their
economy is the surest way to make them prosper. You cannot talk about them
being free when they continue to be poor.”
And how have they prospered under Zanu PF Alexander? Zimbabweans are today
significantly poorer than they were in 1980. In fact per capita GDP has sunk
to 1953 levels and that has nothing to do with sanctions as Zanu PF
apologists dishonestly suggest. It is Kanengoni and his friends who are
making Zimbabwe poor. That is evident to everybody.
The regime’s apologists were also active last weekend providing a
hagiographical account of a recently deceased intelligence officer. He was
full of humour and goodwill, it was said.
No mention of reports that he enjoyed inflicting pain on his helpless
“He took to cruelty like a duck to water,” a senior officer reported at the
It was absolutely shocking to see the editor of the Herald publishing a
letter insulting the guest of honour at the MDC-T congress in Bulawayo.
Campion wekwaMereki denounced Raila Odinga as a harbinger of violence –– a
curious stance for a Zanu PF supporter!
“I understand the MDC-T have invited Raila Odinga to be the guest of honour
at their congress in Bulawayo,” wekwaMereki wrote.
“The presence of their ‘comrade in violence’ will beget violence. His ghost
of violence will follow him and I am afraid to say if this congress takes
place we are going to see the kind of violence witnessed in Kenya after the
polls in 2007…”
“What is Odinga coming to preach at that congress? That we should kill each
other with machetes to get international attention?”
This is an appalling letter to print and one can only wonder who is
directing this scurrilous and irresponsible attack on a guest in this
Rapper Sean Kingston appears to have whipped up a storm with his fans. He
claimed on Facebook that he had tossed $3 000 into the crowd during his gig
at the Celebration Centre.
But his fans say they saw no such manna from rap heaven, according to the
“I love my fans in Africa,” he claimed. “I just threw $3 000 to the crowd. I
love to give back man. Best feeling ever.”
But his fans had other feelings.
“You are a pathetic liar,” one posted back. “The only thing you delivered to
the crowd was an embarrassingly bad performance…”
“Do us a favour and never set foot in our country again.”
He short-changed fans by only performing for 30 minutes, the Mail reported.
Tickets were $50 a head. He only came back to perform another three songs
when the promoters pressed him to give some value for money. The only thing
thrown to the crowd, we gather, were caps, T-shirts and rubber wrist bands.
Readers of Muckraker over the years may recall “Apostle” Andrew Wutaunashe
who backed Zanu PF before many other clerics were suborned into doing so.
He heads an outfit called Worldwide Family of God Churches which has signed
up to the Anti-Sanctions campaign.
“Sanctions are affecting both Zanu PF and MDC supporters because they have
all been deprived of opportunities to prosper in their own country,” he
He gave as an example the case of a child who died because the hospital
couldn’t import any oxygen cups.
Just in case you didn’t know where the “apostle” was coming from, he had
this to say:
“Innocent people in Libya, Iraq and Afghanistan are being massacred because
they belong to the land that has been blessed with numerous natural
resources that are wanted by someone elsewhere.”
Where does that language usually come from? Just as a reminder, Olivia
Muchena was present to tell the congregation that sanctions were meant to
frustrate Zimbabweans so that they turn against their leaders.
Olivia, you weren’t our leader when you were in Muzorewa’s party and you are
certainly not our leader now. Voters turned against Zanu PF in 2008. And
they will do so again next year.
Muchena assured the congregation that Sadc, the AU and friendly Asian
countries were rallying behind Zimbabwe. Are they? Wasn’t the really
revealing part of the Livingstone summit the fact that Sadc leaders declined
to subscribe to Zanu PF’s sanctions red herring! There was no mention of it
in the communiqué.
But we did like the bit where Muchena urged the congregation to pray for the
cabinet when it met on Tuesdays.
Yep, “God save us from our rulers,” should be the prayer.
According to ZBC, political observers have condemned the intra-party
violence that has rocked the MDC-T’s provincial elections, saying “this has
revealed the party’s violence (sic) nature in solving political issues”.
“Political analyst, Dr Maxwell Hove,” adds ZBC, “described the recent spates
(sic) of violence as a true reflection of the party’s desire to instigate
violence and provoke other political parties to send incorrect signals to
the international community”.
This is laughable! Hove would have us believe that other political parties
like Zanu PF need provocation to send “incorrect signals to the
Does he mean that when Zanu PF threatens foreign investors with
expropriation it would be because of provocation? So somehow the MDC-T is
able to influence right-thinking parties to send incorrect signals?
Another “analyst”, Alexander Rusero, also claimed that: “The recent
developments within the MDC-T are not surprising given the founding of the
political party on violence.”
That’s news to us. We thought it was founded by trade unionists and civil
society. Maybe he mistook the MDC-T for another party which has boldly
claimed that violence is in its DNA.
Speaking of dubious analysts we were also told by ZBC that local government
experts have added their voice in condemning the behaviour of Deputy
Minister of Local Government, Rural and Urban Development, Sessel Zvidzai
for his interference in the affairs of urban local authorities, saying he
should stop politicking and causing chaos.
Again these “experts” only seem able to come out of the woodwork when it
concerns an MDC-T minister.
“The condemnation follows reports that a feud has erupted between Mr Zvidzai
and the Bindura municipality with allegations that the Deputy Minister is
using his political muscle to meddle in the local authority’s affairs.”
Strangely NewsDay ran a story on April 8 entitled “Bindura residents stand
up to Chombo” in which Bindura residents threatened to stop paying rates,
protesting against Mashonaland Central governor Martin Dinha and Local
Government minister Ignatius Chombo’s interference in council business.
African National Congress Youth League leader Julius Malema is known for
saying “in politics there are no permanent friends and no permanent enemies”.
“Conditions will dictate how we relate to each other,” Malema had said
referring to his relationship with President Jacob Zuma.
Recently Malema ripped into President Mugabe and rubbished Zimbabwe’s land
“I am not a violent person,” he declared. “I am one of the few people who
told President Mugabe in his face that he should not be violent and should
not beat up people.”
South Africa had nothing to learn from Mugabe, he said. He had “outlived his
Asked if he would want to adopt Zimbabwe’s land reform programme Malema
said: “That would be anarchy. That would be chaos.”
Yet only in April last year, on a visit to Zimbabwe, Malema endorsed
President Mugabe’s economic policies and threatened to import them to South
He told a rally in Harare: “In South Africa we are just starting. Here in
Zimbabwe you are already very far. The land question has been addressed.
“That’s what we are going to be doing in South Africa,” Malema told a crowd
of Zanu-PF youths.
There appears to have been a change of tune since then although Zanu PF is
studiously ignoring it!
Thursday, 28 April 2011 20:49
A SURVEY recently released in the monthly magazine, African Business
identifies Africa’s 2011 top 250 companies, determined according to market
value. The survey was based upon research by Dr Ayo Salami, co-founder of
African Business Research Ltd, and identified that 100 of the top 250
companies are in South Africa, 45 in Egypt, 30 Morocco, 29 in Nigeria and 11
in Kenya. Ten other countries also rank as having companies within Africa’s
250 largest; Botswana has six and Ghana four, whilst there are three each
from the Ivory Coast and Mauritius, two in Zambia, and Togo, Uganda and
Malawi have one each.
Prominent by its absence is Zimbabwe! Despite the magnitude of Zimbabwe’s
potential wealth, it does not even have one company which can rank amongst
Africa’s 250 largest. Although Zimbabwe has vast mineral resources,
including gold, platinum, nickel, chrome, lithium, methane gas, diamonds,
and more, its companies are pronouncedly eclipsed by those in 15 other
countries. Despite Zimbabwe having land which has proven very fertile for
over a century, it has not been a catalyst for major corporate development.
Zimbabwe is renowned for its considerable, unique and diverse tourism
attractions and resources, and yet they have not sufficed to trigger the
existence and operation of companies comparable in size with those elsewhere
in Africa. And the large manufacturing, financial wholesaler and retailer
enterprises that were characteristic of the Zimbabwean economy, but many of
which have markedly diminished in size, also pale into insignificance as
compared to the leading companies elsewhere in the African economy.
Enhancing the Zimbabwean potential of its wealth of minerals and precious
stones, its previously demonstrated great agricultural substance, immense
tourism-based income generation capacity and manufacturing opportunities,
Zimbabwe also has a large, able and inherently willing labour force. And
yet, with all these positive attributes, the economy is so emaciated that it
has not been able to generate even one company’s operations to such an
extent as to gain a ranking in Africa’s top 250. In pronounced contrast,
Botswana (with a population of only about a tenth of that of Zimbabwe, has
six such companies, and even small economies (by comparison with Zimbabwean
potential), such as Togo, Uganda and Malawi have a presence in the ranking
of the continent’s major companies.
The extremist wing of Zimbabwe’s so-called Government of National Unity
(GNU) would have one believe that the distressed economic circumstances of
the country are almost wholly attributable to the Machiavellian machinations
of the former colonial power, and its Western allies. In particular, they
state with alleged but unfounded authority, that the economic decimation is
a consequence of so-called “illegal international sanctions”, and by Western
conspiracies to preclude Zimbabwean access to funding from bodies such as
the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank. They do so in
contemptuous disregard for the incontrovertible facts that the sanctions are
of minimal economic consequence.
Those sanctions, bar international travel and investment of named political
activists and their families and immediate associates, and bar economic
interactions with and funding provision to the government, its parastatals
and allied entities, and private sector enterprises in which the named
politicians directly or indirectly hold investments. And funding from the
international bodies would not be forthcoming, irrespective of the
imposition of sanctions or otherwise, as Zimbabwe has been in debt repayment
default for more than a decade; the arrears were existent before any
sanctions were imposed.
The government apologists for the country’s economic morass supplement their
spurious attribution of the economic ills to the allegedly perfidious
stratagems of Britain, USA, and others by also contending that the economy
has been recurrently afflicted by extremely negative climatic conditions.
In pursuing such contentions, they conveniently exaggerate the realities
and, in so doing, disregard reality. The fact is that to an incontrovertibly
major extent the distraught economic conditions that have prevailed almost
continuously since Independence, and which have intensified since the turn
of the century, have been caused by government. It has endlessly, and
vigorously, pursued policies which could achieve naught but ongoing
decimation of the economy.
The economic decline first accelerated when the state embarked upon an
ill-conceived land reform programme. The need for land reform was
irrefutable, but it was pursued in such a manner that for many years,
agricultural production was at minuscule levels as compared to previous
performance. Concurrently, hundreds of thousands of agricultural workers
were rendered unemployed. In addition, government demonstrated a shameless
contempt for the Bilateral Investment Promotion and Protection Agreements
to which it was a party, thereby worsening Zimbabwe’s international credit
rating, impacting negatively upon Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) and
international lines of credit.
The adverse credit rating progressively degenerated as government
recurrently defaulted on debt servicing, while incurring ever-greater and
expenditure far beyond the means of the fiscus. The state became
increasingly bankrupt, as was also the tragic situation of almost all
parastatals which, in consequence, became more and more ineffectual in
providing services which were prerequisites for economic viability. As if
this was not enough, politicians intensified their vilification and
castigation of Zimbabwe’s perceived (but not actual) international enemies.
The government-provoked alienation of countries that had at all times been
willing to aid Zimbabwe’s economic development and growth, over and above
the provision of considerable developmental and humanitarian aid,
intensified and exacerbated the economic decline.
Nevertheless, some sectors of the economy had proven great resilience and
continued to survive. In fact, some recovery and growth was achieved,
especially so in the mining sector, but also in tourism and to some extent,
agriculture. But, yet again, recovery and growth is in jeopardy, and
consistently with the negative development of the past, that jeopardy has
been caused by government. Once again, it has identified a real need, but
has sought to address it, and is continuing to do so, in the most
inconceivably destructive manner. That essential need is economic
indigenisation and economic empowerment.
The need for indigenisation is indisputable, but instead of striving to
achieve it constructively, government is dynamically following policies of
expropriation, of transfer of wealth instead of enabling wealth creation.
In so doing, it is further deterring both domestic investment and FDI,
international funding and lines of credit. Once again, national economic
suicide is being pursued. The Stock Exchange has become semi-moribund,
pension funds and insurance companies are failing to meet commitments and
therefore are no longer investment catalysts, and numerous enterprises have
been forced into closure, whilst hundreds of others have necessarily
downsized, and continue to do so.
It is little wonder, therefore, but tragically so, that Zimbabwe does not
even have a presence in the identified 250 top companies in Africa. That is
yet another indication of the devastation that is characteristic of Zimbabwe’s
Thursday, 28 April 2011 20:47
By Lenox Mhlanga
I COULD have written a syrupy piece about our Independence until I reasoned
that I could be dancing out of tune. Surely, after 31 years of
self-destruction, what is there to celebrate? So I decided to be more
realistic and comment about indigenisation.
It was a little over a decade ago that I broached this sensitive subject in
a column I used to write for The Daily News. Funny that three newspapers
that ran my columns were to be later banned, except The Sunday News, for
some odd reason. Well that is another long story.
Anyway, in that article I lamented the fact that the black empowerment lobby
in Zimbabwe seemed to have lost its way and, as one economist put it, only
succeeded in providing economic space for mediocrity. Sadly, little has
changed. They are still groping in the dark.
If they are not chasing Nigerians out of town, they are forcefully occupying
someone else’s hard-earned business. In fact, stealing is a more appropriate
Despite efforts by elements in the current government to give the
indigenisation lobby a lifeline, albeit through dubious legislation, the
face of this otherwise noble ideal has firmly on its head the mantle of
idiocy. It’s difficult to talk about leadership and progress in the same
breath as the Affirmative Action Group (AAG).
Exiled activist Phil Matibe pulls no punches in his description of the
organisation when he says that the AAG is an advocacy group for greed that
promotes and propagates intolerance, practises hate-speech without
limitation, and incites law abiding citizens to become lawless accomplices
and accessories to its sinister criminal crusade.
“It enthusiastically functions as and constitutes Zanu PF’s white collar
business robbery unit,” he adds in his trademark acerbic manner.
Perhaps that is rather harsh a verdict. Yet, given what one sees on the
ground, it is difficult to differ with this description no matter how unfair
it sounds. The AAG simply can’t be taken seriously as long as it continues
to be associated with the likes of Philip Chiyangwa, Themba Mliswa and, I
dare mention, Joseph Chinotimba. While they might be at pains to dissociate
themselves with the former, their methods take a huge leaf from his legacy.
It goes without saying that after failing to deliver, the AAG became
necessary to push a reluctant government punch drunk with the allure of
self-rule to act. Citing the restrictive Lancaster Agreement, black business
needed a body through which they could push for space in the post
However noble that cause could have been, the indigenisation lobby proceeded
to soil itself through very questionable actions and utterances that gave
their perceived detractors more than enough ammunition to discredit their
cause. The AAG and its shadow body, the Indigenous Business development
Centre, came to be seen largely as combative. That in itself breaks the
basic rule that you cannot build something by first destroying it.
As the economy of the time became increasingly skewed, sanity had to
prevail. It became requisite for the black empowerment and affirmative
action lobby to shift from its state of war with anything that got into its
way, to one of mobilising and using existing structures to gain space in the
The fact that over 30 years after Independence, little headway has been made
in this direction should place the whole empowerment argument in its proper
perspective. If there is a country that requires urgent redress as far as
economic empowerment is concerned it is Zimbabwe. The glaring disparities in
all sectors of the economy that were ample evidence that something was
terribly wrong still exist in true Orwellian style.
True, one section of the community derived direct benefits from a myriad of
legislation. The whites monopolised those resources that were key to holding
economic power. These included land, minerals, access to capital and a
monopoly in business. Empowerment therefore was and still is justified on
moral and socio-economic grounds where the main aim should have been to
redress historical imbalances and not to line a few venerated pockets.
We now have seen how having a black majority government in place is no
guarantee for the correction of the wrongs of the previous regime. Add to
this dilemma, the fact that the indigenisation lobby has, to quote one
cynic, been “hijacked by characters in shiny suits and pointed shoes”.
The so-called champions of indigenisation have been more associated with
angst; property grabbing, asset stripping and amassing land through very
dubious means. The court appearances and law suits involving those in the
top leadership of the AAG are ample evidence of this.
What makes the whole thing scary is the fact that the current minister in
charge of indigenisation in government came from the ranks of the AAG!
Former AAG vice president Saviour Kasukuwere’s barnstorming antics in the
last few months regarding the Indigenisation Act does not give comfort to
any right thinking businessman, let alone investor.
The slogan of the indigenisation lobby in Zimbabwe should be, “Organise, don’t
antagonise!” Instead of making threats and raiding legitimate business
entities, the AAG should first put its house in order. In fact, there are
those who believe that it should be disbanded altogether. It wasn’t
surprising that the organisation had reached the point of implosion last
week when then the entire handpicked executive walked out.
That is what happens when you have an executive that is not accountable to
anyone and has practically no mandate from its membership. The few continue
to dominate with the same people benefitting whether it be government
tenders, land allocation or bank loans.
As the few get fatter by the day, the same rumblings of discontent that led
to liberation can be heard. The landless, in spite of the much touted land
reform programme, are still crying out for a solution. Having moved to the
cities in search of survival, they were met with brutal evictions and they
remain landless. As the ranks of the unemployed continued to swell, a clear
empowerment programme would have created thousands of jobs if only the right
policies were put in place. We have been seeing the warning signals as
levels of crime continue to rise stoked by a corresponding web of
corruption. It’s a sad tale of the bread basket that became a basket case.
Social harmony and stability are the cornerstones of sustained economic
growth. However, they are largely dependent on the playing field being
level. When a section of the population enjoys massive privileges at the
expense of the rest, then such stability cannot be guaranteed. Race is no
longer the sole dividing line between the haves and the have-nots.
The black moguls who occupy seats on the AAG executive have hijacked the
indigenisation bandwagon for personal gain. They have turned to be the worst
oppressors hiding behind the veneer of entitlement when their interests are
Enterprises that genuinely seek success in a hostile and competitive
economic environment should, besides demanding empowering legislation,
concentrate on capacity and image building. Black enterprises should not
necessarily be associated with failure or shoddy goods and service.
Integrity and honesty are the hallmarks of good business practice.
Such qualities are sadly lacking among a sizeable number of black-run
businesses. Such are the businesses that then clamber on the indigenisation
bandwagon to cover up for their inadequacies. Their performance has been a
catalogue of errors as they employ business practices that leave a lot to be
The indigenisation lobby should be building bridges with established
business, not burning them down. They should be assuring them that they have
nothing to fear from indigenisation. They should drop the attitude of what
the late Ariston Chambati once referred to as “robbing Peter who is white,
to pay Chamunorwa who happens to be black”.
Indigenisation should benefit everyone. Established business has the
experience that it can cascade down to the up and coming businesses, while
at the same time building synergies and downstream industries that can feed
into the wider economy. It’s a win-win situation we should be thriving for
not one where we tell people to go to hell.
Organisations such as the AAG, or a sane version of it, should be there to
encourage the propagation of the work ethic Zimbabweans are renowned for all
over the world. The evolution of a true spirit of entrepreneurship, through
the acquisition of business skills and recognition of the fact the seeking
of profit is not an end in itself but a vehicle for the greater accumulation
and control of resources. Rome was certainly not built in a day.
The compulsory transfer of wealth from one group to another adds little to
the aggregate wealth of the nation. In fact it places a lot of that wealth
in danger of being frittered away. A cursory glance at the state of the
farms that were designated without a proper plan on how they were going to
be sustained is a case in point. Some lie idle and are being reclaimed by
the bush, a grim allegory to neo-classic post-Independence mismanagement.
Indigenous business people should identify the resources to which they
deserve access, such as capital, and then maximise on the availability of
such. They should also be honest to themselves by identifying and accepting
their shortcomings as a way of finding ways of addressing them.
It is in this vein, therefore, that the indigenisation lobby in Zimbabwe
should dump the language of grievance and entitlement at all costs. The
gospel they should preach is that of equity, enablement and the quest for
excellence. For them to be taken seriously they should cut the apron strings
with political entities that seek to abuse them for selfish ends.
Finally, they should endeavour to mend their bad image and work towards
changing negative perceptions. If it’s a case of bad leadership, then they
should seek to redress this. If it is the organisation itself that is in
question, then they should dump it and establish a credible vehicle by which
they can attain genuine empowerment that will lead to economic prosperity.
In the current environment it might appear as if this is hard to achieve,
yet it’s very possible.
Mhlanga is a public relations consultant and a freelance writer.—
Thursday, 28 April 2011 20:45
By Eddie Cross
THE BBC recently carried a story about the rise in global food prices. The
IMF stated that on average prices for food had risen 36% this year and among
these was a 74% increase in maize prices. In the past, perhaps since about
1950, Zimbabwe enjoyed a situation where agricultural prices were set at
export parities and global food prices were themselves already quite low. As
a consequence we became accustomed to relatively cheap food and this was
clearly apparent when you crossed the border into any of our regional
In 1980, the policies that had created that situation were maintained and
agriculture was the main contributor to national growth and development. In
2000 all that changed; commercial farmers and their 350 000 workers were
made the target of a campaign that in the past 10 years, has seen some 7 000
farms deliberately invaded and taken over by force. They were then occupied
by so called A1 and A2 farmers, the former small scale and the latter large
Since then the majority of these farms have become largely defunct, their
homesteads and farm buildings derelict and their arable lands have returned
to bush or been the subject of subsistence style agriculture. Although the
land audit promised in the Global Political Agreement has not been carried
out because of Zanu PF’s opposition, it is known that perhaps as many as
half these properties have been abandoned after their assets were looted.
As a consequence, agricultural output has collapsed to about 20% of the
levels that had prevailed in the era before the farm invasions. Zimbabwe,
for the first time in half a century, is now a net importer of all types of
food and agricultural products, cotton and tobacco being the sole
exceptions. As a result food prices are dictated by import costs and are
therefore higher than in our neighbouring countries. Remember that import
parity prices means that you pay the world market price plus the cost of
transporting the product to Zimbabwe — sometimes over thousands of
kilometres. Export parity pricing means that you pay prices set at world
market levels less the cost of transport to the overseas or regional
The commercial farmers that own the farms that are invaded and occupied by
these rag tag people had built some 10 000 dams on their properties and
could, when required, irrigate their crops when rainfall failed. To do this
they had the pumps, pipelines and irrigation equipment to irrigate up to 267
000 hectares of land. People who do not know Zimbabwe think that farming is
an easy game. They do not appreciate that in fact this is a tough country to
farm in — just take one factor, our mean average variation in rainfall is
about 40%. In the main grain belt of America it is 5%.
Anyone who has visited the US will know how you can drive through a hundred
kilometres of flat, rich farm land and see crops planted from horizon to
horizon. Not in Zimbabwe; our typical commercial farm was about 2 000
hectares of which, perhaps, a quarter was arable — but in small irregular
patches separated by small kopjies or hills and wetlands or vlei. We have
millions of hectares of poor sandy soils that are very hard to farm. Our
heavy soils are also difficult to cultivate and need heavy equipment.
Finally the season is short — 90 –120 days at most and the need to plant on
time and to do things strictly to the calendar is legendary. If you miss
these deadlines the land is a hard task master and will punish you with low
yields and poor quality.
Just to compound these difficulties we suffer from severe storms. Hail is a
constant threat and droughts are a regular occurrence — not always
nationwide, but always difficult to deal with. In some years (1992/3) the
dry conditions can be so severe that crops are decimated, dams dry up and
livestock die in their thousands.
What is also not appreciated is that these farms were all large business
ventures — some of them large even by world standards. We had individual
companies that grew 150 000 tonnes of grain a year, the two sugar companies
grew 500 000 tonnes sugar, individual tobacco growers grew on average 300
000 kilograms of tobacco — the largest tobacco growers in the world. As such
they had to borrow significant sums of money each year to finance their
crops and livestock activities. Many of the best farmers were engineers or
accountants and relied on outside expertise for the rest.
To support these farmers was a network of training establishments and
research stations — some of them world famous. These same farmers
consistently grew crops that yielded well above regional and even
international best practice standards. We held the world record for yields
in maize production for example. We were the second largest exporter of
flue-cured tobacco in the world and the largest exporter of beef in Africa.
We were self sufficient in tough crops like wheat and barley even though our
climate was not suitable and they had to be fully irrigated.
Zanu PF thought that they would be able to make easy money by simply taking
over these farms at no cost to themselves. Most of the farms they invaded
had been paid for over 25 or 30 years by farmers who struggled every year to
make the bond payments. Nearly all the farmers I knew put every cent they
made back into their farms with the result that many were real show places.
The fact that these highly successful enterprises simply collapsed under
their new stewards came as a real surprise to many, but not to those who had
sweated blood to create these business ventures out of the bush, living in
mud huts for years while they built barns and cleared lands.
A very small percentage of any population has the capacity or the
inclination to go farming — it is generally thought that this percentage is
below 5% of any population. In our surveys of the population since 2000 we
have never had a reading of more than 5% of all Zimbabweans who see farming
as a way of life and a life choice. Sure we all want a piece of land — it is
after all the only way the average person in Africa can ensure some security
in the long term, but that does not mean that all are going to be able to
farm, or even want to farm.
The other surprise for Zanu PF is that they have not been able to shake the
sure grip of title rights as a legal basis for farm operations. They know
they do not own the farms they occupy and that one day they will have to
account for what they did to the rightful owners who still hold title. That
is simply a legal fact and will not go away. However that is scant comfort
for the average Zimbabwean who must today pay 30% – 50% more for his food
than he would have if the agricultural industry was working as it once did.
Eddie Cross is Bulawayo South MP.
Thursday, 28 April 2011 21:03
THOSE familiar with a bit of Greek mythology will remember the story of
Daedalus and Icarus, whom we might loosely dub the mythological equivalents
of the Wright Brothers.
Of course, unlike the Wright brothers, Daedalus and Icarus were a father and
son combination. But they share the same accomplishment in that they were
pioneers in aviation.
In the mythological parallel though, Daedalus designed wings that would
actually be affixed to the human being and it’s the person that would
literally do the flying. You’ll remember that Daedalus warned his son, as
they were about to make the ill-fated flight across what is today still
known as the Icarian Sea: “Do not fly too low lest the mist from the sea
dampen your wings and you’ll drown, nor should you fly too high, lest the
sun melt the wax in your wings and you’ll fall.”
Closer to home, Air Zimbabwe may be equated to Icarus, the luckless son
that eventually flew too high, the sun melted the wax binding the feathers
in his wings, and he never reached his destination. In contrast to Icarus
however AirZim has not been doomed because it has flown too high.
The national flag carrier has instead been weighed down by the sea of
political meddling that it has over the past 30 years failed to traverse.
There is no doubt that AirZim, as it is affectionately known, had the
potential to become a leading African airline. What with its impeccable
accident-free record that spans nearly 60 years. In this respect, AirZim’s
record beats that of many a leading airline, including British Airways when
it was still known as British Overseas Airways Corporation (BOAC). Before
rebranding to British Airways, the British airline had a series of fatal
crashes that scarred its reputation.
So there is clearly a feather in the cap for AirZim. But that can only be
attributed the high calibre of pilots, aircraft engineers and other airline
staff who, unlike their employer, may confidently put the “Proudly
Zimbabwean” tag to themselves. That being the case, an investor in the
aviation industry should have no problem with acquiring the airline as it
is, the staff being an asset. Ay, there’s the rub.
For there’s the sea of trouble below that is constantly weighing the airline
The airline is not run like a business, which it is, but as some appendage
to a government department, in this case, the Transport ministry. It is our
considered view that this ministry has over the years run the airline in the
same nonchalant way it has run Zupco, failing to distinguish between a bus
and an aeroplane.
The solution to Air Zimbabwe’s woes is not acquiring state of the art
aircraft or having may other upgrades that have been mooted. The solution is
simple, and has been said over and over again and we shall say it now; Air
Zimbabwe must be privatised. Commercialisation, which was adopted for the
airline a decade or so ago has had its chance and has failed, owing to the
same political meddling that the airline has been subjected to.
After it’s been privatised and is in the hands of competent managers, then
we can talk about acquiring new aircraft.
One’s not shooting down the purchase of the Airbus aircraft that has been
planned for the airline, but for as long the same management style that has
dominated AirZim over the past 31 years, the same problems will still dog
Issues such as the series of strikes by the airline’s staff are only but a
symptom of the various managerial problems that the airline has. Consider
that when the now ageing Boeing 737-200 and Boeing 767 ERs that the airline
now seeks to replace were bought, they were up to scratch equipment. What
happened? Poor management in part.
Thursday, 28 April 2011 21:02
NEWS that Global Political Agreement (GPA) negotiators have finally come up
with a roadmap to elections is welcome considering that it was long overdue.
The roadmap includes a number of key reforms that –– if followed to the
letter –– will lead to free and fair elections. This would hopefully bring
to an end the decade-long political logjam that had brought the nation to
We are also encouraged by the fact that the negotiators will meet President
Jacob Zuma’s facilitation team on May 6 and 7 to agree on timelines for the
implementation of reforms including that of elections.
Our optimism, however, is tempered with caution. It is one thing for the
parties to agree and quite another matter to implement what has been agreed
Our reservations are prompted by the Global Political Agreement (GPA) signed
more than two years ago by the three political parties. It is yet to be
This is despite numerous back and forth meetings to try to kick-start the
implementation process which culminated in the agreement on 24 outstanding
issues. The implementation process, however, remains forlorn and continues
to gather dust.
A large chunk of the blame for this should be apportioned to the
intransigent President Robert Mugabe and Zanu PF.
Mugabe has continuously refused to appoint provincial governors from the MDC
formations despite being mandated do so as part of the GPA.
Despite agreeing to media reforms in September 2008, Mugabe and Zanu PF have
ensured that the national broadcaster, ZBC, maintains its archaic monopoly.
Their acolytes in the public media continue to fan hate speech against their
opponents –– something that was supposed to have ended after the signing of
the GPA. It has in fact worsened with the continued increase of partisan
messages on television and radio praising Mugabe and Zanu PF.
The land audit, which would have brought sanity and accountability to the
land issue, remains a pipe dream. This is despite having been etched in the
GPA. The efforts of the National Organ on Healing and Reconciliation have
been rendered useless as incidences of violence across the country continue
These examples of the blatant disregard of the GPA beg the question of what
will change with the roadmap. Mugabe has hidden behind the “illegal”
sanctions mantra saying implementation of the GPA can only happen if
sanctions are removed by Europe and the United States.
He must know that the sanctions are unlikely to be removed and is using that
card to forestall progress.
What will stop Mugabe and Zanu PF from also disregarding the roadmap under
the guise of sanctions? If Mugabe can dilly dally over implementing the GPA
for nearly three years what will stop him from doing the same with this
If Mugabe and Zanu PF can ignore GPA deadlines set by Sadc, what will stop
him from ignoring the roadmap timelines that will be set on May 6 and 7?
These are pertinent questions that need to be looked at if the roadmap is to
Sadc need to be more forceful in ensuring Mugabe implements what has been
agreed both in the GPA and the roadmap.
Their tough stance in Livingstone, Zambia, was a good start but without a
sufficient robust follow up, we could be headed for another directionless
Thursday, 28 April 2011 20:59
THE professional and ethical conduct of Zimbabwe’s security forces ––
including the army, police and intelligences –– has once again been brought
into the spotlight during the ongoing negotiations among political parties
in the GPA and GNU.
Negotiators last week ran into an impasse on several issues, including the
behaviour and role of the army in the electoral process and during
elections. The negotiators had in previous rounds of talks been deadlocked
on the same issue.
While the MDC formations have been arguing for security sector reforms, Zanu
PF –– which benefits from partisan support by a few unprofessional army
commanders and misguided elements within the police and intelligence –– has
steadfastly opposed changes. Zanu PF wants security forces to continue to
unlawfully dabble in politics and help in the manipulation of electoral
outcomes and hence the undermining of democracy.
The formation and evolution of our army must be seen in its historical
context and current circumstances. When ex-combatants who fought the
liberation struggle were integrated in 1980, it was hoped they would be a
mindset and paradigm shift, individually and institutionally. Although the
army as an institution became professional, some individuals remained
unreconstructed and thus continued to act as political commissars of some
parties as they did during the struggle.
Those who failed to change still don’t seem to understand what their role is
in a democratic and free society. They think they are there to defend a
certain political party and/or its leader. They don’t seem to understand
that they are supposed to defend the territorial integrity of the country,
its citizens and interests. A standing army funded by the state and
therefore taxpayers can’t project itself as a militia for an individual and
his party. The army should never be used to defend party and individual
interests. It’s simply not acceptable or desirable in a democratic society.
Countries have standing armies to defend their territories, citizens and
interests. Zimbabwean army commanders need to remember why they are there;
their constitutional role, duties and responsibilities. Our army, trained
over many years by experienced instructors and experts including those from
the British Military Advisory and Training Team, used to be professional and
was therefore admired by many. However, its reputation has in recent years
been tarnished by a few commanders who engage in partisan political
activities and make unethical comments, especially during elections.
Accusations of political violence and intimidation, as well as human rights
abuses, have also blemished the army’s record. The same applies to the
police and intelligence. Although the security forces have always denied
this, growing complaints by Zimbabweans show there is a problem. That is why
this has become an issue at the current negotiations.
We need reforms to correct these aberrations, including the use of the
national army as a private militia by a party and an individual.
The situation got worse after 2000 when President Robert Mugabe and Zanu PF
started coming under serious challenge for misrule and economic
mismanagement. Of course, the security forces had well before that been
accused of human rights abuses.
Calls for urgent security sector reform have grown louder due to the
untenable practical and operational conduct of certain security institutions
and their securocrats. In 2002 senior army commanders, in a blatant
violation of the constitution and the law, said they would never work under
anyone who did not fight during the liberation struggle. Since then these
illegal comments have been repeated by the same elements, especially at
elections. This has resulted in the erosion of public confidence in those
commanders themselves and the institution of the army.
Civil-military relations have been poisoned in the process. Political
parties are now resultantly debating and negotiating security sector reform.
However, it must be said most of our soldiers still do the right thing —
and do it well –– time and again under intense pressure. The army is
stretched and stressed as an institution by the current political
This clearly establishes a compelling case for reform.