Thursday, 29 April 2010 20:26
POLICE have joined in the intensifying scramble for the controversial
Chiadzwa diamonds where companies linked to Zanu PF and state security
elements are making a mint.
Information obtained this week shows that police were anxious to get
involved in Chiadzwa diamond mining in conjunction with the state-owned
Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation (ZMDC). They want to mine diamonds
through a security company called Security Self-Reliance Enterprises (Pvt)
In a letter dated April 9 and titled Application for a diamond mining
concession at Chiyadzwa: Security Self-Reliance Enterprises (Pvt) Ltd
(Zimbabwe Republic Police), Police Commissioner-General Augustine Chihuri
wrote to Mines minister Obert Mpofu asking for a mining concession for the
law enforcement agency in Marange.
"The above subject is pertinent. I make reference to my discussion in the
office with you Honourable minister on the 21st of March 2010 concerning the
above subject," the letter says.
"Honourable minister, after scanning the environment and a thorough analysis
of the opportunities available, I wish to submit the Zimbabwe Republic
Police's application for the areas in Chiyadzwa, Marange, marked on the map
appended to the attached company profile document. I hope and trust that
this application will meet your favourable consideration."
Police spokesman Wayne Bvudzijena yesterday said he was not aware of Chuhuri's
letter and application.
Bvudzijena said: "I am not privy to the information as of now. I would have
to get back to you tomorrow because the Commissioner-General is not
available until tomorrow (today)."
Mpofu said he did not want to speak to the Zimbabwe Independent because the
newspaper has been writing stories about him and the shady diamond mining
deals in Chiadzwa.
He said: "My position not to talk to the Independent has not changed. Why do
you now want to talk to me when all along you were writing stories without
The involvement of the police - alongside other security agencies - would
bring vast swathes of Chiadzwa under the control of companies whose mining
contracts facilitated by government officials have not been secured in a
The rot associated with the Chiadzwa diamond deals has caused ructions in
the mining sector and the corridors of power.
ZMDC is working with Mbada Diamonds and Canadile Miners (Pvt) Ltd in
joint-venture partnerships hurriedly formed and given licences without going
through transparent procedures last year. Mbada and Canadile signed
Memorandums of Agreement in July and final agreements in October last year
before they started minting.
African Consolidated Resources (ACR) plc is challenging their activities in
the courts. This week the High Court said ACR's application to block the
sale of its 129 400 carats of diamonds seized by the government in 2007 was
not urgent and if ACR was to suffer prejudice in the process, as it argued
in its court application, it could seek compensation.
The High Court however did not give government the permission to sell the
diamonds in dispute as claimed by the state media. Mbada was in January
blocked from selling its diamonds which ACR says have been extracted
In February the Supreme Court ruled that the diamonds in dispute should be
surrendered to the Reserve Bank for safe custody. The ruling has apparently
been disregarded by the government.
The Minerals Marketing Corporation of Zimbabwe (MMCZ), a state-run agency
which markets precious minerals, was in January ordered by the Supreme Court
to release 129 400 carats belonging to ACR to the Reserve Bank for
safekeeping but police seized the parcels in what lawyers say was a blatant
contempt of court.
President Robert Mugabe and Mpofu supported the move.
Also in January Mbada and Canadile were ordered by the Supreme Court to
cease their operations pending the finalisation of the diamond claims
ownership wrangle with ACR.
ACR has been fighting in the courts to regain its claims which were seized
by the government in 2006 and given to ZMDC and later to Mbada and Canadile.
By February Mbada had accumulated about two million carats of diamonds worth
US$60 million. Mbada is likely to be extracting a whopping 1,5 million
carats by the end of May and over 3,5 million carats by June.
Canadile amassed nearly 260 000 carats in almost two months from the rich
alluvial fields. This left the two companies sitting on a cool US$70 million
worth of diamonds in a few months of operation.
This information is gleaned from letters written to Mpofu by Mbada and
Canadile on February 8 and 10, respectively.
However, Mbada was blocked in February from selling 300 000 carats because
Zimbabwe has yet to comply with the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme
Even MMCZ, the legal and legitimate marketing agency, was not involved in
the failed unprocedural Mbada sale. ZMDC, one of the Mbada partners, was
also not involved. Mbada officials claim they have a special dispensation
from the Ministry of Mines to sell the diamonds on their own, something
which almost certainly would be unlawful.
The KPSC is a process introduced by United Nations Resolution 55/56 that was
designed to certify the origin of rough diamonds from sources which are free
of conflict fuelled by diamond production. The process was established in
2003 to prevent "blood diamonds" - diamonds fuelling war and human rights
abuses - sales in the mainstream diamond market.
Mbada is a joint venture between the (ZMDC)'s subsidiary Marange Resources
(Pvt) Ltd and South Africa's New Reclamation Group (Reclam) (Pty) Ltd's
Mauritian-registered subsidiary, Grandwell Holdings.
Canadile is a joint venture between Marange Resources and South Africa's
Core Mining and Minerals (Pvt) Ltd. Canadile also features a retired
soldier, Lovemore Kurotwi. It also obtained its mining contract in a
Dumisani Muleya/Chris Muronzi
Thursday, 29 April 2010 20:22
AN MDC-T probe team into internal violence blamed on power struggles between
party president Morgan Tsvangirai and secretary-general Tendai Biti ahead of
the party's congress next year is expected to present its findings today.
The party's standing committee last week appointed a team headed by Nketa MP
Seiso Moyo to investigate the assault on MDC director-general Toendepi
Shonhe and security director Chris Dhlamini by youths at the party
headquarters, Harvest House, a fortnight ago. The youths, reportedly aligned
to Tsvangirai, seized Shonhe's vehicle and keys. Shonhe is accused by the
youths of using his position in the party to further the interests of the
The outbreak of violence in the MDC has reportedly angered its allies in
civil society and the international community, leading to the freezing of
funds by donors.
Biti has persistently denied factionalism in the party, but the latest
violence has been linked to alleged attempts to consolidate power by the
secretary-general and the president ahead of the congress. Prior to its 2005
split, the MDC denied reports of factionalism and cracks until they became
Although Biti is not expected to challenge Tsvangirai at the congress, he
has reportedly put his loyalists in critical party structures to position
himself for an eventual takeover from Tsvangirai.
A senior member of the MDC national executive committee told the Zimbabwe
Independent yesterday that the Moyo-led probe team should submit its
"The terms of reference of the committee were to investigate the
disturbances and recommend the way forward to avoid similar occurrences,"
the member said. "We expect the report of the committee tomorrow (today).
The standing committee will convene a meeting to deliberate on the report
and make recommendations to the national executive."
Sources in the party said the accused youths appeared before the probe team
on Wednesday in the capital and made damaging accusations ranging from
factionalism to abuse of office against senior party leaders.
The MDC has been dogged by cases of internal violence since 2001 and this
has continued sporadically even after the 2005 split.
In most of the cases, it is MDC youths who are involved in violence,
something that goes against the founding principles of the party.
In 2001 MDC lawmakers Priscillah Misihairabwi-Mushonga, Gabriel Chaibva,
Edwin Mushoriwa and Janah Ncube were assaulted when attending a provincial
Other MPs have also been attacked by youths from the party. These include
Moses Mzila Ndlovu, then Bulilimamangwe MP.
Trudy Stevenson, now ambassador to Senegal, was also attacked in 2006.
Various commissions have been instituted and despite expelling and
suspending those found guilty, violence has continued as some of them are
brought back into the party.
Efforts to get a comment from party spokesperson Nelson Chamisa and Biti
Thursday, 29 April 2010 20:21
SOUTH African facilitators in Zimbabwe's inter-party negotiations to resolve
outstanding issues in the Global Political Agreement yesterday met the three
leaders of the parties in the inclusive government in Harare to pressure
them to finalise remaining issues. The envoys of South African President
Jacob Zuma, who is the Sadc facilitator in the talks, met President Robert
Mugabe, Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and Deputy Prime Minister Arthur
Mutambara over the final report of the talks presented to them by
Informed sources close to the talks said Zuma's emissaries, Charles Nqakula,
Mac Maharaj and Lindiwe Zulu, want the principals to meet over the report
and clear issues which have been referred to them by negotiators. Zulu
confirmed facilitators met the principals.
A recent talks report by negotiators, Patrick Chinamasa and Nicholas Goche
(Zanu PF), Tendai Biti and Elton Mangoma (MDC-T) and Welshman Ncube and
Priscillah Misihairabwi-Mushonga (MDC-M), says while a lot of issues were
agreed to, there was a also a series of issues which had not been resolved
and were referred to the principals.
The report shows that there was a deadlock on the swearing-in of MDC Deputy
Agriculture minister-designate Roy Bennett, the appointment of
Attorney-General Johannes Tomana and Reserve Bank governor Gideon Gono,
allocations and ministerial mandates.
Some of the issue left hanging also include installation of provincial
governors, transport arrangements for Tsvangirai, communication between
Mugabe and Tsvangirai, regularisation of Tsvangirai's staff, parallel
government, national heroes, national security issues, the role of Mugabe's
spokesman George Charamba and compensation of commercial farmers.
These issues were referred to principals.
Negotiators agreed upon a raft of issues on the talks agenda including
electoral law reforms.
They agreed on sanctions, pirate radio stations, hate speech, bias in the
media, rule of law and state organs and institutions, land issues, electoral
vacancies, cabinet and council of ministers rules, staff and security of
principals, security of deputy prime ministers, security of ministers,
external interference, National Economic Council, and constitutional
They also agreed on national heroes, respect of national institutions and
events, constitutional amendment Number 19, ambassadors, freedoms of
assembly and association, funding of NGOs, Multi-Trust Donor Fund,
humanitarian food assistance, selective funding of ministries by donors,
reform of the public media and Tsvangirai's budget. - Staff Writer.
Thursday, 29 April 2010 20:17
A PROBE instituted by the Ministry of State Enterprises and Parastatals to
determine how much chief executive officers of parastatals earn has failed
to yield any results as the majority of the quasi-government firms are
reluctant to provide the ministry with the information. So far less than 10
companies out of about 85 have subjected themselves to scrutiny by
furnishing the ministry with the required information.
Government instituted the probe to rectify anomalies in the salaries of
bosses of state-controlled companies.
The investigation was instituted following allegations that some chief
executive officers were earning over US$10 000 monthly, when parastatals
they are leading are struggling financially.
Gabuza Joel Gabbuza, State Enterprises and Parastatals minister, told the
Zimbabwe Independent yesterday that his ministry was not happy with the
response from the parastatals.
"The response we have got from the parastatals is not positive as less than
10 parastatals have provided us with the information we need out," he said.
"The probe is meant to rationalise salaries of all the chief executive
officers and at the same time rectify anomalies where the top brass is
earning unrealistic salaries while their companies are constantly applying
for government bail outs."
He said some of the parastatals had furnished his ministry with false
information on salaries.
"We have some instances where some boards are colluding with their chief
executive officers to supply false information, but we are in the process of
doing our own independent investigations to establish how much people
leading parastatals are earning," Gabbuza said.
Sources in the Ministry of State Enterprises and Parastatals said some
parastatal bosses were taking home as much as US$12 000 monthly in salaries
"Parastatal bosses enjoy many perks; apart from the salaries some have
entertainment allowances running into thousands of dollars, they have
domestic workers who are paid by the parastatals while their children attend
the most expensive private schools in the country," said one official who
preferred not to be named.
The official said some of the parastatal heads have annual paid holidays,
unlimited access to company resources, fuel and high retention allowances.
Questioned on the action to be taken on parastatals that have not complied,
Gabbuza said a deadline to enforce compliance would be set soon.
He, however, said some parastatal heads were not complying as they have
Thursday, 29 April 2010 20:03
CIVIL society organisations have slammed the Constitutional Parliamentary
Select Committee (Copac) for omitting what they consider to be critical
issues in the final talking points for a new supreme law. The talking points
have been sent to the Constitutional Reform Management Committee for final
approval. The committee comprises representatives of the three parties in
the inclusive government.
Representatives of various non-governmental organisations ranging from
youth, health and environment met in Harare on Tuesday to assess the
progress that has been made so far in the contentious constitution-making
They expressed their unhappiness with the way the process is unfolding
arguing that there was mistrust between civil society and politicians.
Civil society feels that politicians are sidelining them in making critical
decisions and only use them to ratify such resolutions and create an
impression that there is sufficient consultation.
A major concern is that the talking points that Copac has drafted were
developed without widespread consultation and as s result a lot of critical
issues were omitted.
Director of the National Association of Non-Governmental Organisations
(Nango) Cephas Zinhumwe expressed concern that they were meant to come up
with different talking points for the constitution-making process outreach
programme, but Copac seemed to have already reached a final decision that
awaited endorsement by the management committee.
Zinhumwe said: “There is already a finality of the talking points which
means that all the issues we will be debating until Thursday might be of no
use to them. Who did Copac engage? Why didn’t they call civil society
representatives in making these final decisions? Consultation is lacking.
Some of the issues we are told when they would have already made a
Zinhumwe also questioned why Copac had appointed Dr Hope Sadza and Professor
Phineas Makhurane to represent civil society instead of giving them an
opportunity to nominate their own representatives.
“Are they from civil society?” he asked. “We want a situation where we
engage each other in a fair manner. However for us, civil society, we will
continue pushing and we will send our ideas to Copac. We will make them
worry,” he said.
Other civil society representatives expressed their disappointment with the
sluggishness of the process.
Michael Mabwe, a youth representative from Nango, was of the view that Copac
was showing “less commitment to the process”.
The role of the management committee also came under scrutiny as the civil
society argued that it gives politicians excessive control over the
Simbarashe Matoso, a civil society activist, queried the role of the
“You say the process is different from the 1999 one because it was
executive-led. But I believe the management committee is like the executive
of 1999 as it is always there to approve what people have to say,” Matoso
said. “What is the essence of parliamentary debate, except for politicians
to amend what the people want? We want to understand the presence of the
The civic society representatives questioned both the phrasing and the
content of the talking points.
A lawyer with the Zimbabwe Environmental Association, Shamiso Mutisi, said
the talking points were silent on international law provisions.
Mutisi said: “There is no talking point to do with international law. Our
current constitution provides for that. People should be asked how we can
deal with international relations. For example people can be asked how they
want the president to get into international deals. Does he have to do it
alone or should it be discussed maybe in parliament?”
Mutisi also questioned the phrasing of the talking point on Land, Natural
Resources and Empowerment, arguing that it was too general to generate any
“This talking point is a composition of different issues. All the questions
that are on the topic are on land and only one out of the 13 is on natural
resources. We don’t have questions on environmental rights. For example,
people need to be asked questions like should the constitution have a
provision that it is the people’s rights to live in a clean and healthy
environment that does not cause harm. In Harare residents get dirty water,
the air is polluted and rubbish is not collected,” he said.
Mutisi said the issue related to empowerment was also too general and should
have been tackled more extensively in the talking points.
“There should have been a question like in Chiadzwa should local villagers
benefit from the diamonds and how and even those in Mutoko, should they
benefit from the granite extracted in their area?”
However, a representative from Copac Peter Kunjeku defended the talking
points arguing that they were developed by a team of experts who had to deal
with many competing issues.
In describing the outreach process, Kunjeku said 5 805 consultative meetings
will be held throughout the country. He also revealed that materials on the
constitution will be available in 23 languages. Efforts are also being made
to reach out to Zimbabweans in the Diaspora. However, he admitted that only
a paltry $97 000 had been set aside for Diaspora consultation.
The constitutional process has been bogged down by inter-party conflicts and
lack of funding. Last week, the EU announced that it had released $8 million
for the process. Donors had insisted that the government must meet part of
Minister of Constitutional Affairs Advocate Eric Matinenga last week
announced that $2,3 million will be released by the Finance ministry for
Matinenga also told the media that the donors have agreed to release funds
quarterly and that the consultative process will soon begin.
Prior to the release of funds by government and the EU, the process had
virtually collapsed with the parliamentary select committee failing to pay
Thursday, 29 April 2010 20:00
THE formation of the inclusive government and dollarisation last year gave
hope to workers who had wallowed for close to a decade in abject poverty as
the country's political crisis worsened. The crisis had resulted in world
record hyperinflation that resulted in daily skyrocketing of prices,
shortages of basic commodities, massive job retrenchments and company
Political protagonists -- President Robert Mugabe, Prime Minister Morgan
Tsvangirai and his deputy Arthur Mutambara -- were whipped by Sadc into
forming a coalition government in February 2009 to arrest the rot.
Soon after its formation and the dollarisation of the economy, confidence
returned into the country. Shop shelves were fully stocked with imported
products and local industry started ticking, though at a helter-skelter
But over a year down the line, workers are losing hope of a brighter future
as they mark tomorrow's Workers Day.
Shop shelves are still fully stocked but most employees, both in the formal
and informal sectors, cannot afford them. The majority of them earn an
average US$150 monthly against a background of price increases of basic
commodities and utilities.
This comes at a time when the United Nations says the unemployment rate in
the country is about 90%.
As if this is not enough, threats for retrenchments are galore and there are
also restrictions on union activism.
Finance minister Tendai Biti and Industry and International Trade minister
Welshman Ncube have compounded the situation when they made pronouncements
that the current Labour Act would be changed to reflect the prevailing
The proposed changes are meant to put a leash on arbitrators so that they
award severance packages and salary increments which reflect the economic
performance of given companies.
A fortnight ago, Biti when reviewing the country's economic outlook said the
reforms would constrain the labour market which together with other factors
was responsible for building inflation pressures.
"Reflective of the high risk arising from unmet wage demands or poor wage
offers are the large number of arbitration cases pertaining to both the
public and the private sectors," said Biti. "This risk is arising from the
apparent inflexibility of the labour market. Hence, government will expedite
the review of both labour laws and the related institutional arrangements,
with a view to bringing flexibility to the labour market and ensuring that
wage and salary payments are within the capacity of the economy."
Biti has frozen salary increments for civil servants. The move is expected
to be replicated in the private sector, further worsening the plight of
Former MDC MP and University of Zimbabwe law lecturer Munyaradzi Gwisai, who
was involved in the amendment of the Labour Relations Act, said the recent
pronouncements by the two ministers were "scandalous and regrettable".
Gwisai said he did not expect to hear this coming from Biti who is the
secretary-general of a party (MDC-T) that "claims to be social democrat" and
He described Biti's pronouncement as the "ranting of a victor" because
workers from the private sector had not joined hands with civil servants who
went on strike demanding a realistic salary earlier this year.
"Under the current Labour Relations Act, the worker's right to strike is
minimal and collective bargaining has failed, as you can see now most
workers earn less than US$200 yet the poverty datum line is at around
US$500," said Gwisai. "The strike laws are draconian (favouring the
employer) and the current labour law does not provide for minimum
Gwisai differs with the two ministers as to the directions the labour
reforms should take.
While Biti and Ncube want to give more power to the employer, Gwisai argued
that it is the worker who should benefit from any reforms so that there is a
"genuine right to strike in line with regional and international labour
"There is need for real justice in so far as workers' entitlements are
concerned," added Gwisai. "An employee who wins a labour case at the moment
is paid in Zimbabwean dollars."
There are companies which have mocked employees by giving them severance
packages in Zimbabwe dollars which are no longer in use.
Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions secretary-general Wellington Chibhebhe
concurs that there should be reforms to the Labour Act and the recent
International Labour Organisation (ILO) report on Zimbabwe should be used as
"The ILO report has made it very clear that our labour law should be in line
with international standards," said Chibhebhe. "We have made the report
available to cabinet and they have responded that they accept the
recommendations and we wonder where the ministers are getting what they are
ILO recommendations include giving more power to the worker.
Zimbabwe's labour regulations are porous when looked at from the worker's
side as they do not give minimum remuneration or social security as is the
case in other countries.
Chibhebhe said there was nothing for the worker at the moment.
"The poverty datum line is calculated on the basis of basic commodities and
it is not determined by the ZCTU," said Chibhebhe. "The failure to meet
workers' wage demands cannot be blamed on the workers but the
non-performance of industry which is operating at 30%."
Apart from changes to the Labour Relations Act, workers are eager to know
the impact of the Indigenisation and Empowerment Act.
Gwisai pointed out that workers had to insist that any indigenisation drive
should see them getting a share of the national cake.
"They should make sure that the elite do not steal their labour," added
Gwisai. "In fact the ZCTU should come up openly on the issue of
indigenisation as well as on constitutional matters. ZCTU should not
continue to fence-sit on these two issues and if they are not content with
the constitutional process, they have to come with a parallel programme."
Most workers are in a fix as they cannot pull through a month on their
salaries yet they may not think of any job action as it would boomerang on
Workers shudder to think what the situation would be a year from now.
Maybe by then they would have joined the unemployed or the new regulations
restricting the labour market may have been passed.
Either way, for most workers, the legal, economic and political environment
muddies hope for a better tomorrow.
Thursday, 29 April 2010 19:57
A HARARE magistrate has subpoenaed Lands and Rural Resettlement minister
Herbert Murerwa after he failed to appear in court three times to testify in
a land dispute involving a Beatrice farmer. Courts issue subpoenas to compel
a witness to give testimony and Murerwa is supposed to testify in a trial
involving the director of Roslin Farm, Grant Paterson, who is alleged to
have refused to vacate the farm which was gazetted for compulsory
acquisition in 2002.
Magistrate Archie Wochiunga issued the subpoena last week and has since
instructed the clerk of court to issue it on Murerwa who is expected to
appear in court on May 19.
Murerwa failed to appear in court three times and at one time gave an excuse
that he was not feeling well.
He is now compelled to appear as defence witness failure to which the court
will be at liberty to issue a warrant of arrest.
The state represented by prosecutor Tawanda Zvakare accuses Paterson of
remaining on the gazetted farm when he was supposed to have vacated on
February 5 2007.
Paterson in his defence has denied the allegations saying that he had been
told by the minister directly and indirectly that a land re-planning
exercise was going on and that he would be one of the beneficiaries.
He said he was in constant communication with Murerwa whom he claimed
assured him that he would share and co-exist on the farm with a Mr Hapazari,
an A2 farmer who was allocated the farm under the land reform programme.
Paterson said: "I remained in occupation due to assurance by Minister
Murerwa and Governor (Aeneas) Chigwedere that a re-planning was going to
take place at the farm and they had sent a document to (that effect to) the
He said a chief lands officer from Marondera visited the farm as part of the
re-planning and he was asked to supply diesel to facilitate the trip to the
According to court records, defence lawyer Misheck Hogwe said frantic
efforts to have the minister testify proved fruitless.
Hogwe said: "We have not been able to get the minister's commitment that he
will come and testify. I would submit that in view of the highness of the
office of the minister, it is not easy for my chief or myself to exert
pressure to the honourable minister.
"What we have been able to ascertain from the office of the honourable
minister is that there is a memo done on 1-3-2010 to the director of public
prosecutions (DPP) confirming that a re-planning exercise was indeed
underway and requesting the AG to stay prosecution on that basis."
Hogwe said the DPP refused to furnish them with the letter.
"Regrettably the DPP found it appropriate to refuse to furnish us with the
copy of the letter, instead DPP suggested that we obtain the letter from the
minister. However the minister's view is the letter was done at the
prosecution authority and there is no reason why the prosecution should not
give us the letter," he said.
"Our position is that the letter if produced will eliminate the need to call
the honourable minister to testify because the letter will effectively
confirm what we would have asked the honourable minister to confirm to the
court. In light of the foregoing I apply to the court that my learned
colleague be ordered to furnish us with a copy of the letter. The letter can't
be in his physical possession but surely it is accessible to him as an
officer of the AG."
However, Zvakare said the application was mischievous.
Wochiunga dismissed the application and said the minister had to come to
court as his evidence was important.
Thursday, 29 April 2010 19:44
TO any unassuming Bulawayo resident the overwhelming presence of military
personnel, armed soldiers and circling military aircraft last Friday might
have indicated that a state of emergency has been declared or simply that
the country was under attack. But how wrong those people were. The Iranian
President Ahmoud Ahmadinejad was in town to officially open the Zimbabwe
International Trade Fair (ZITF).
As early as 8am, low flying military helicopters circled over the city
scouring the surroundings.
The 16km stretch from Joshua Mqabuko International Airport to the ZITF
grounds was manned by policemen armed with AK 47 assault rifles, with four
policemen assigned to every street corner. Giant posters showing a
belligerent Mugabe with a clenched fist alongside those of an unsmiling
Ahmedinejad were hung on streetlamps that lined the long road stretch from
the airport to ZITF grounds.
In the city centre, all road intersections were manned by two traffic
officers and two armed policemen.
In the vicinity of the trade fair, three tanks parked on the periphery of
the exhibition centre aroused the curiosity of children who swarmed around
them in awe as soldiers manning them barked instructions to motorists to
park clear of the area.
The soldiers manning the camouflaged tanks, with gun turrets pointed
menacingly at the trade fair, sat on top, with some training their
Most people wondered what it is that makes leaders so terrified of their
"The security here is frightening, everywhere you go you either meet a
policeman, a soldier or someone suspiciously looking like an intelligence
officer and the experience is frightening," a newspaper vendor said. "What
are our leaders afraid of?"
A handful of Muslims chanted outside the trade fair grounds as they awaited
the arrival of Ahmedinejad and Mugabe.
When the kilometre-long convoy bringing the two leaders, accompanied by
service chiefs, mayors from all the cities and towns of Zimbabwe and
government ministers entered the city from the airport, everything came to a
"I have never seen such a long convoy in my life and this is a spectacle
people in Bulawayo are not used to," said a bemused vendor as hundreds of
workers streamed out of their offices to watch the passing convoy.
The security details from the president's office were sidelined as the
Iranians took over the security at the ZITF and barked instructions while
awaiting the arrival of the two leaders.
When Ahmedinejad arrived he did not disappoint the thousands of mainly Zanu
PF supporters as he went on his usual tirade against the West.
"God gave us the sun and the moon, he also created love, passion and
spiritual resources; unfortunately some of the oppressors do not understand
these rules, they have bad behaviour and they let slavery be prevalent in
this world," the Iranian leader said. "Today they are trying to control
world resources and they do not want to let other countries have peace and
He said some countries in the world including Zimbabwe and Iran have noticed
the behaviour of these countries and have decided to stand firm against
Thursday, 29 April 2010 18:51
ZIMBABWE’S blunt foreign policy strategy may work against the country’s
drive to reengage the United States, Britain and their Western allies,
political analysts said this week.
The analysts said the hosting of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad last
week by government was tantamount to sticking a thumb in the eyes of the
West, especially the US which has described Iran as an “outpost of tyranny”
and part of an “axis of evil”.
Ahmadinejad was in the country to officially open the annual Zimbabwe
International Trade Fair (ZITF) and his visit could have coincided with a
re-engagement meeting between a Zimbabwean delegation and European Union
officials in Brussels. The Zimbabwean delegation failed to make the trip
after cancellation of flights due to the Iceland volcanic eruptions.
The Iranian leader’s visit also caused friction within the coalition
government as partners were not agreed on the guest’s presence with the
MDC-T snubbing him, claiming they were not consulted about his visit.
Ahmadinejad and President Robert Mugabe took turns at a state banquet last
Thursday to lambaste the West. There was much show to make the world
recognise the “bustling” friendship between the two countries, leading many
to question what there was for the people of Iran and Zimbabwe.
Ahmadinejad’s message was predictable and found resonance with his host,
Mugabe, looking for allies in his attacks on the West. These have become
both leaders’ trademarks over the years.
Mugabe and Ahmadinejad’s pronouncements made news internationally and may
have policy implications in the short-term, especially at a time when both
Zimbabwe and Iran are pushing for the lifting of sanctions on their
Analysts said the Iranian leader’s visit was an own goal in terms of
Zimbabwe’s endeavour to reengage the West. University of Zimbabwe political
science lecturer Professor John Makumbe said by inviting Ahmadinejad, the
country was shooting down the whole engagement process.
“The Iranian leader’s speeches were very derogatory against the West and he
threatened to go ahead with his nuclear programme,” said Makumbe. “Zimbabwe
is seen in the same light as Iran and the chances of reengagement are fast
disappearing as Zimbabwe has shown who her friends are and the West may
continue to tighten the screws.”
Psychology Maziwisa, interim president of the Union for Sustainable
Democracy, said there was nothing to be gained from associating with a
country such as Iran.
“Iran’s economy is doing badly, its regime is facing the greatest challenges
since its foundation,” said Maziwisa. “This is no time to be arrogant and
boastful about associating himself (President Mugabe) with authoritarian
regimes, some of which have nuclear weapons capabilities. Now is the time
to work towards the cultivation of good relations with nations committed to
democracy, peace and economic prosperity –– and Iran is not one of them.”
Another analyst, John Kanokanga, chairman of the Zimbabwe Movement for Peace
and Reconciliation, saw no problems in inviting the Iranian leader since
“Zimbabwe is a sovereign country”.
Kanokanga said it was the prerogative of the president to invite anyone to
the country and there was no way the visit would impair efforts to restore
cordial relations with the West.
This was countered by other analysts who said Iran was faced with its own
problems and there was nothing for Zimbabwe to gain from it.
Maziwisa said Mugabe was failing to understand that independence and
interdependence go hand in hand. Zimbabwe has over-emphasised the country’s
sovereignty to the detriment of its relations and interaction with other
Iran is the least alluring of possible friends because of its problems both
at home and abroad, Maziwisa argued.
Iran attracted international ire after it insisted that its uranium
enrichment programme is meant for peaceful purposes but many countries,
including Russia and China, are not convinced and the spectre of further
sanctions is ever present.
Apart from the threat of developing its nuclear capability, Iran is also
faced with serious challenges pertaining to its response to discontent,
especially after the 2009 elections when the opposition alleged rigging.
Iran crushed protests against the outcome of the election.
Maziwisa, however, added that the damage was likely to be minimal for the
country as the Iranian leader would be seen as a guest of Mugabe, not
“If anything, this visit will serve to harden the EU’s contempt for Mugabe
and bolster their determination to maintain targeted sanctions against him
and his ilk,” said Maziwisa.
Zimbabwe is desperate for foreign direct investment, donor funding and
reengagement with countries in the West, especially the European Union and
the US which it traditionally trades with.
Makumbe said Zimbabwe has failed to realise the “strategic planning of
foreign policy” by inviting Ahmadinejad to officially open the ZITF which is
meant to attract businesses from countries the Iranian leader attacked.
By inviting the Iranian leader, Makumbe added, questions would be raised as
to how Zimbabwe would relate with other economies which were caught in
“This is economically unsound and incorrect,” said Makumbe. “We are not
operating in a vacuum and when a country is destitute, like Zimbabwe at the
moment, it has to look for the right friends with the right resources.”
Foreign policy is a forerunner of the country’s economic interests and
despite the smiles that the Iranian leader showed on arrival, the trade
volume between the two countries is still marginal.
A number of bilateral deals have been signed but these are no substitute for
the ready markets that the country may enjoy with the full restoration of
relations with the West.
Thursday, 29 April 2010 18:46
ON the eve of Iranian leader Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's visit to the country last
week to officially open the Zimbabwe International Trade Fair, his hosts - a
camp belonging to the former ruling party - went overboard in their
preparations to make him comfortable. A local hotel where the state has a
minority shareholding was chosen as Ahmadinejad delegation's residence for
the duration of his stay. At least three floors were cleared to accommodate
the Iranian leader, who is said to have sent expensive State House carpets
in his country to a museum and replaced them with cheaper ones when he came
On arrival at the airport on Thursday, he was welcomed by the Muslim
community in the country and members of an apostolic sect, long-time allies
of Zanu PF.
President Robert Mugabe, who was also at the airport to welcome his guest,
had found his match. The two had a lot in common. Like Mugabe, Ahmadinejad's
feelings toward the West and the United States in particular, are bitter.
For Mugabe and his new best friend - Ahmadinejad - the US is a threat to the
existence of smaller nations. Mugabe and Ahmadinejad, though from different
religious backgrounds, share the same ideas.
Ahmadinejad, like Mugabe, is anti-gay. He told Colombia university students
after accepting a debate challenge from the college: "We don't have
homosexuals like in your country. We don't have that in our country. We don't
have this phenomenon; I don't know who's told you we have it."
This prompted laughter and booing from the audience. Later, the university's
president Lee Bollinger described the Iranian leader as a "cruel and petty
dictator" saying his views were "astonishingly uneducated".
On the human rights front, Mugabe and Ahmadinejad also score very low marks.
According to a report by Human Rights Watch, "since President Ahmadinejad
came to power, treatment of detainees has worsened in Evin Prison as well as
in detention centres operated clandestinely by the judiciary, the Ministry
of Information, and the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps".
Mugabe's own human rights record is not inspiring. He stands accused of
stealing at least two elections and perpetrating electoral violence. A
number of activists have been kidnapped and tortured at the hands of the
Both Mugabe and Ahmadinejad were teachers before occupying the highest
offices of politics and have been educated up to a Masters degree. They both
love anti-West rhetoric. Barely a week goes by without an attack on the West
over sanctions and other evils from both leaders.
Zimbabwe and Iran have sanctions hanging over their administrations.
Similarities aside, their meeting presented a chance for political bonding.
For Mugabe and his Iranian counterpart, it was a chance to jointly stick it
to the West.
A few hours after his arrival, Ahmadinejad was already spewing anti-West
statements. That naturally must have pleased Mugabe and his party. Mugabe
in turn also blessed Ahmadinejad's nuclear policy that has brought Iran
face-to-face with United Nations sanctions. The political bonding was going
As on Thursday, the following morning the capital woke up to the deafening
sounds of choppers circling around the central business centre. Apart from
the usual ground security comprising a motorcade and military marksmen, air
support had been added to the Iranian leader's security on top of a
This was a first in Zimbabwe's record of VIP protection. No other foreign
head of state has ever gotten such security. Wherever Ahmadinejad went,
there would be a chopper following the presidential motorcade.
Earlier on, fighter jets had been flying over the skies as if to discourage
an imminent attack.
But not everyone was thrilled by his presence in the country. The MDC headed
by Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai attacked Ahmadinejad's visit saying he
had come as a guest of Mugabe and his Zanu PF party. Tsvangirai and
ministers from his party treated the visit as a non-event and naturally
shunned the Iranian leader. They described the visit as a "colossal scandal".
After officially opening the trade fair, Ahmadinejad was off to Uganda on a
slightly different mission - to play global politics.
At an upcoming UN Security Council meeting that will determine whether
sanctions imposed on the Iranian regime stay or go, Iran will be in need of
an ally and Uganda is a convenient candidate. Uganda is currently a
non-permanent member of the UN Security Council.
As Ahmadinejad arrived in Uganda, he found his new host, President Yoweri
Museveni, sending mixed messages on nuclear enrichment programmes.
Museveni said: "We should work for a nuclear weapons-free world. This means
that those who have these weapons should work to get rid of them under an
internationally agreed and verifiable treaty and that those who do not
possess them should not seek to acquire them."
In another speech, Museveni said he supports every nation's "right" to be
able to use nuclear energy to generate power.
His statements did not give Iran a clear position on how Uganda would vote -
for or against new sanctions that US President Barack Obama's administration
wants imposed on Iran during the Security Council meeting.
On a consoling note, Museveni said: "We salute the independent foreign
policy of the Islamic Republic of Iran."
Ahmadinejad is accused of unrelentingly pursuing uranium enrichment for
nuclear use and not respecting human rights.
After failing to get key support from Uganda, Ahmadinejad must be wishing
Zimbabwe was a non-permanent member on the UN Security Council. That way,
Mugabe would vote against renewal of sanctions against Iran, just to spite
the West and in the words of Joseph Heller's Catch-22 protagonist,
Yossarian, "for the sake of it".
Thursday, 29 April 2010 18:37
DEPUTY Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara will on Monday attend the World
Economic Forum (WEF) in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, where he said he will lobby
for the removal of sanctions, talk about the unity government,
indigenisation and tell the world that there will be no election in Zimbabwe
"any time soon". Speaking at the on Zimbabwe Institute of Management dinner
on Wednesday, Mutambara said regional expansion, growth opportunities, risk
and education were key issues that business leaders will be targeting for
discussion at the 20th WEF.
"At the world economic forum we are all equal," said Mutambara. "Yours truly
will tell the world that sanctions do not make sense when we have a
government of national unity. They do not help our cause.
"You might say they are targeted, but investors will always wonder why the
head of state and many in government are under sanctions and will ignore us.
In the end it is the ordinary innocent man on the street that suffers."
The forum brings together over 1 000 participants from 85 African countries.
The meeting will be held under the theme "Rethinking Africa's growth
strategy". Tanzania President Jakaya Kikwete will officially open it.
The annual event was moved from Cape Town, South Africa, due to World Cup
Mutambara said the meeting would provide leaders with a platform to evaluate
their businesses and to strategise on how best to use the recession crisis
as an opportunity to redesign a sustainable roadmap for Africa's future.
"We want to create an environment where if I speak at the World Economic
Forum about opportunities in Zimbabwe, they will not tell me to shut up and
tell them how to live in an environment whose inflation is half a billion or
about cholera," he said. "The World Economic Forum is an excellent
opportunity for the business community to engage with policy leaders,
non-governmental organisations and the global community to address critical
issues. Usually business leaders want to listen to other business leader not
Mutambara said Zimbabweans had good ideas but that was not enough.
"How you package and market them is more important," he added.
On elections next year, Mutambara said none of the principals of the
inclusive government was prepared for elections.
"When you see (President Robert) Mugabe and (Prime Minister Morgan)
Tsvangirai drinking tea at their Monday meetings, it is an open secret that
their talk about elections next year is just grand standing to please their
constituencies. Dismiss and disregard them. Listen to me the only honest
one. We are not ready," said Mutambara.
He said even the ministers were enjoying power to the extent that they do
not want their terms in office cut from five years to three.
"You think (Economic Planning minister Elton) Mangoma is talking of a
five-year plan to leave office next year, the (Indigenisation minister
Saviour) Kasukuwere's indigenisation plans . dream again. None of us is
ready," Mutambara said. "A recent survey I saw which did not include me said
Tsvangirai will win by 88% if elections are held next year. So you think
Mugabe will go into elections knowing that he will lose?"
Thursday, 29 April 2010 18:36
NO doubt this week the biggest news in the Zimbabwean investment circles has
been the recently published financial results from Econet Wireless Zimbabwe.
The results probably exceeded the expectations of most analysts while also
raising the bar for most of corporate Zimbabwe that indeed with the right
conditions the unimaginable can be achieved.
So large was Econet's profitability that it even surpassed total earnings of
all the companies listed on the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange. At US$113 million,
it is hard to imagine any other company being able to surpass that this year
or even in the next few years. What is fascinating is not that anyone
expected Zimbabwe's largest mobile operator to declare a loss or even a
modest profit but rather the amount compared to what others are earning or
This should highlight one not so obvious (but perhaps should be)
proposition; that for most companies' success can be achieved by those that
are best able to consolidate their hold on the local market with exports
only coming in to top-up. Hate it or love it, the fact that Econet Wireless
Zimbabwe for example, has over 70% of the mobile services market by number
of users means that their profitability was almost guaranteed.
With over 4 million subscribers already, one expects this trend to continue
for some time to come as positive feedback effects kick in. Because of the
benefits accruing to subscribers of the same network, one would expect even
more subscribers to be drawn to Econet even more.
The point here is not to compare the largest company in the mobile
communications sector with all other sectors of the economy because there
are fundamental differences. Instead the idea is that in this case, it just
so happens that by the nature of their business, virtually all of Econet's
revenue relies strongly on its hold on the local market. One can complain
about seemingly skewed practices in its favour, such as a lack of per-second
billing, the reality is that it is an industry-wide practice that does not
necessarily give Econet an advantage over its competitors.
One can hardly imagine other mobile operators being able to match the
published results. Taking that out, the company's success stems from its
hold over the local market.
More and more, it seems, that any success story will need a comprehensive
presence in the local markets.
With about 40 days to go before the kick-off of the 2010 Fifa World Cup,
organisers can for the first time have the full confidence that most games
in all likelihood will be well-attended. The initial strategy had been to
concentrate on foreign markets using a ticket purchase system which
apparently did not suit the needs of the local population. A few weeks ago,
ticket sales to the global showcase remained sluggish with the initially
targeted markets of Europe and the Americas not meeting the expectations of
Reports of tour operators reducing their accommodation and transport rates
began to raise concerns on whether South Africa could pull it off. However,
as soon as World Cup ticket sales moved to the over the counter phase, the
response from the South African market led to an almost immediate surge
which even surprised the organising committee. Fifas head even reportedly
commented that more focus should have been placed, and earlier, to make it
more accessible for South Africans to participate in this historic event. I
am sure, the organisers of the games will finally agree that indeed local is
In the same vein, over the past few weeks European markets have been reeling
under pressure from the sovereign debt crises some of the Euro Zone
governments faced. Portugal, Ireland, Greece and Spain, cunningly quipped as
the PIGS, have been under the spotlight in terms of the respective
governments' ability to repay debt as and when it falls due. Greece made
headlines first, causing the Euro to plummet against most major currencies.
Now this week, Portugal and Spain had their sovereign debt ratings
downgraded to junk status renewing fear of a contagion effect that more
European governments could face the same fate. Taking the Euro Zone as one
economic block, part of the solution lies with the larger economies, such as
Germany and France, rallying up resources to support the troubled economies.
While not intending to create precedence, financial support to Greece and
now Spain would in the process renew confidence that the Euro system can
work. And again this will for the large part be locally-generated
While not reducing the effects of a globalised economy, firms and
governments alike need to consolidate support from within first then look
outward and not necessarily the
other way around. It is no wonder
then that the most impressive post dollarisation corporate results came from
a company that has safely secured its hold on the local market, that World
Cup organisers can finally say with confidence that the stadiums will be
filled and the bigger European economies will need to come out with a
bailout package for their struggling neighbours.
Thursday, 29 April 2010 18:34
MINES and Mining Development minister Obert Mpofu has said government will
indigenise mines along the mineral rich Great Dyke region because of their
skewed ownership patterns. Mpofu said the imbalance was "very worrying and
needs to be rectified".
"The ownership pattern along the Great Dyke is worrying and it's giving us
(government) problems," he said while departing from his prepared speech at
a business conference last week. "More than four companies, all of them
foreign, are operating there and that is totally unacceptable."
Among the companies operating along the Dyke are Mimosa, Zimplats, Camec and
The amendments to the Mines and Minerals Act, he said, would deal with cases
such as that of Great Dyke.
The Dyke extends 540kms in length and is a strategic economic resource with
significant quantities of chrome, platinum, gold, silver, nickel, iron-ore
Youth, Indigenisation and Empowerment minister Saviour Kasukuwere told
reporters in Harare last week that the country's controversial policy of
transferring majority control of foreign-owned firms to black Zimbabweans
would begin in the key mining sector.
Mpofu told the captains of industry that potential foreign investors in
mining have never raised any concerns on the controversial indigenisation
"On average, I met five foreign investors per day and not a single one of
them raised any concerns on indigenisation. In fact investors say they have
operated in worse countries where they don't know what percentage they own
in their companies as governments randomly change them. They are just at the
mercy of governments," he said.
Mpofu said Zimbabwe is losing out on investment as "we want to be very
inclusive. Countries that are emerging from wars such as Angola, the
Democratic Republic of Congo and Ivory Coast are attracting more investors
He said repeated attempts "to provoke them (investors) and start talking
about the Act (indigenisation) have been waved away".
Meanwhile, Mpofu said mineral output in the country increased by 15% last
year, contributing more than 50% to the country's exports.
He said: "The mining sector achieved the highest growth, with output
increasing by about 15% in 2009 against a decline of 22,1% recorded in 2008.
The sector's turnaround was mainly a result of positive performance in gold,
platinum and coal.
"Mineral exports accounted for 51% of the country's total exports in 2009.
Mining output is projected to increase by 27% in 2010 as a result of a
continued liberalised environment, re-opening of closed mines and new
Mpofu said gold production is expected to further increase from about 5
000kgs in 2009 to 7 000kgs in 2010.
The platinum sector has significant growth potential with output expected to
increase from 6 849kgs in 2009 to 7 800kgs in 2010.
Factors expected to boost output are increased investment by platinum houses
and the opening of Unki Platinum Mine in the last quarter of 2010.
"Currently there is no primary producer of nickel since the closure of BNC
in October 2008. Nickel production is expected to increase from 4 858 tonnes
to 6 000 tonnes as a result of increased activities in PGMs and assuming
that Bindura Nickel Mining Company succeeds in its plan to resume operations
by June 2010," Mpofu said.
Thursday, 29 April 2010 18:32
THE Associated Mine Workers Union of Zimbabwe (Amwuz) has issued a 14-day
notice to go on strike as the standoff between mineworkers and employers'
body, the Chamber of Mines, over wages, intensifies. The planned strike
would take place at a time when the mining sector is recovering from a
10-year economic decline.
Amwuz president Tinago Ruzive told businessdigest on Wednesday that they
issued the notice on April 22 and will down tools on May 12 because the
chamber ignored their demands.
"We are about to embark on a collective job action," Ruzive said. "We won an
arbitrary award for the third quarter of last year where we were awarded a
minimum of US$140 which the chamber did not accept. It advised the mines to
pay US$120 which was a violation of the ruling made in our favour."
He said the chamber had also disregarded the ruling by the arbitrator for
them to hold negotiations for the last quarter of 2009 where they were
demanding a monthly minimum wage of US$290.
Ruzive accused the chamber of also not fulfilling their obligation to hold
negotiations for first quarter of this year salaries.
The mineworker's body, Ruzive revealed, are demanding a minimum of US$490
for the first quarter.
He said there were some mining companies that had gone for a year without
paying their workers, which left the employees dejected and morale at rock
"Workers are aggrieved. Some have gone a full year without salaries with
some not being paid their full monthly salaries," Ruzive said. "Our members
are struggling to afford three square meals a day. This is slavery and we
cannot accept that. We will paralyse the industry."
Ruzive also accused mining companies of not remitting workers contributions
to the Mining Pension Fund.
Chamber of Mines senior executive Doug Verden acknowledged receipt of the
14-day notice by the mineworkers.
"They (mineworkers) have issued a 14-day notice of their intention to go on
strike and we are considering our options. That is all I can say at the
moment," he said.
The Zimbabwe Congress of Traded Unions deputy secretary-general Japhet Moyo
said the union throws its weight behind the mineworkers' decision to go on
"That is the correct position taken by the mineworkers," Moyo said.
"Sometimes you have to show your muscle if the employer is not negotiating
in good faith. We urge them to unite and fight the capitalists."
Wage disputes are on the increase in various National Employment Councils
and will come under the spotlight as the nation commemorates Workers Day
Thursday, 29 April 2010 18:30
A LEADING human resources consultancy firm says Zimbabwe’s growing levels of
unemployment pose a threat to the inclusive government because non-formal
employment is on the decline following the liberalisation of the economy.
The United Nations estimates that at least 90% of the country’s economically
active citizens were unemployed.
A poll carried by Industrial Psychology Consultants this month shows that
the situation continues to be dire for job seekers despite high hopes which
were heightened at the formation of a coalition government between President
Robert Mugabe, Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and his deputy Arthur
“The level of unemployment in the country is a ticking time bomb that the
inclusive government needs to deal with urgently,” the report shows.
The consultancy firm criticised the inclusive government for lacking a
“known strategy” of creating new jobs.
Government has since last February come up with economic-growth programmes
that included the Short-Term Emergency Recovery Programme aimed at stopping
a decade-long economic hemorrhage.
The plans have, however, not been effective owing to lack of funding.
Zimbabwe needs close about US$10 billion to resuscitate the comatose
The report stated that levels of employment in the informal sector, which at
the height of hyperinflation in 2008 reached a peak, were shrinking.
“The list of those out of both formal and informal employment is growing
daily and at a very fast rate. What is the strategy of the government in
dealing with this growing tide of unemployment?” questioned the report. “It
is too vague for the government to say that employment will be created when
capacity utilisation in industry increases or when the economy grows. With
technological advancement, organisations may not be able to reengage new
employees after restructuring even if capacity utilisation doubles. This
leaves the government with very few options for creating new jobs.”
The survey comes at a time when Labour minister Paurina Mpariwa recently
said her ministry had received numerous applications by companies seeking
The report further showed that at least six in every 10 formally employed
workers in Zimbabwe were not secure with their current employers.
The figure represents a six basis points increase from a similar poll that
was carried by the consulting firm last June.
However, when asked about their chances of finding a new employer, 78% of
the 802 employees sampled in the poll felt that there were new job
opportunities, which could suggest that workers could be leaving their jobs
to join rival companies or already existing companies.
While the economic environment has vastly improved compared to unprecedented
levels of 2007/8, the report showed that 80% of the respondents felt that it
was still early to “advise” friends and relatives working outside Zimbabwe’s
borders to return home.
“There is still a lot of work to be done on the ground by the inclusive
government to increase the confidence of the population. It’s important to
note that relatives here at home have strong influence on when their
relatives will be coming back home based on the feedback they give to their
relatives,” read the report.
Thursday, 29 April 2010 18:28
CLOSE to 5 000 textile industry workers lost their jobs between 2007 and
2009 as the effects of cheaper imported materials continue to emasculate
local products. Zimbabwe Textile Workers' Union secretary general Silas
Kuveya this week said they were now working to counter further job losses.
The textile industry currently employs slightly more than 6 000 people.
Kuveya said: "The union launched a campaign against buying sub-standard
textile products. We have also approached the Industry and International
Trade ministry who have promised that they would carry out investigations to
see if the imports are getting into the country legally (with the necessary
Jobs in the textile industry are still not safe as the pressure of cheaper
imports continues at a time when local producers are operating under 30%
Cheap textile materials are mainly coming from China and other Asian
Demand for textile products may be high but the local consumer does not have
much disposable income thus would settle for the cheaper but less durable
and substandard materials.
Kuveya said workers in the textile industry still faced problems as there
are employers who have declined to pay the US$150 agreed minimum wage.
Things have started to move, though slowly, in the textile industry but the
anticipated recovery and the saving of jobs may take time due to electricity
David Whitehead Textiles Ltd (DWTL), at one time the largest industrial
player retrenched 639 workers in February.
The textile firm is yet to raise US$2 million for the workers' severance
It was agreed under the retrenchment agreement that the firm would sell
assets to raise the package.
Two properties were identified, one in Harare and another in Kadoma, but it
is only the former which has found takers.
Kuveya confirmed that the David Whitehead workers were yet to get their
Thursday, 29 April 2010 18:27
ZIMBABWE has experienced a significant rise in the price of residential
properties and rentals during the first quarter of the year as a result of
property shortages, limited mortgages and liquidity challenges. Dream
Properties director James Ruza told businessdigest on Wednesday that prices
of residential properties rose by an average of 12,5% while rentals rose by
about 25% during the period under review due to shortage of properties and
banks limiting loans.
"Investing in a residential property, however, makes very good financial
sense, especially if it means not having to pay rent. And if you can afford
it, investment in real estate makes a huge amount of sense," said Ruza.
He however said most rentals were not justified as many landowners and
estate agents where profiteering, at the same time failing to maintain
"Overall, Zimbabwe's residential property outlook is looking decidedly more
positive with a number of factors culminating to inject renewed confidence
and money in the market and delivering a number of compelling reasons why
property is still your best investment," Ruza said.
Residential properties in high-density areas are being sold for between
US$25 000 and US$40 000. Properties in medium density areas cost between
US$45 000 and US$65 000. Residential properties in low-density areas are
going for anything above US$90 000.
Property analyst Micheal Russell said while the property market was
adjusting itself after dollarisation, the same could not be said about
building a house in low-density areas.
"The rental yields, themselves a function of the income levels and the pace
of economic activity, have improved in the middle density and low density
segments but the cost of building when compared to the region has not,"
Russell told businessdigest on Tuesday.
In their latest property report, Seeff Properties' International consultant
John Spicer said some sellers were undecided with their properties following
the announcement of the indigenisation regulations during the first quarter
of the year.
"Since February and the announcement of the Indigenisation Act some buyers
have been sitting on the fence, and some had mistakenly believed that there
were many desperate sellers," he said. "There remains a shortage of secure
properties with all the advantages that international tenants require, and
this market has not been affected by the act. Properties that can be rented
to this group of individuals are the best and safest residential investments
in Zimbabwe today."
Spicer said such homes require a good area, good security, borehole, water
tank, generator, inverter and electric gates.
"Many properties without these advantages, and with problems of security or
water, are not achieving the prices owners are demanding, particularly since
the announcement of the indigenisation regulations," he said.
The availability of loans for properties mainly below US$50 000 is expected
to increase activity on the property market as investors take positions to
acquire inflation-proof investments.
Most properties in the low-density suburbs of major cities of Harare and
Bulawayo are above US$100 000. The residential property market has been
active especially in areas below US$50 000.
Most houses in this bracket are said to be "below standard and unworthy of
the asking price" but buyers were prepared to make renovations at their own
pace when they buy the property.
A recent survey by Joina Properties shows that nearly 60% of its subscribers
are interested in acquiring a home of less than $50 000 almost immediately.
During the first quarter of the year, it was said to be cheaper to buy a
finished residential property than building one.
Analysts said what has made building a residential property more expensive
was the cost of building materials which are still high due to duty imposed
Construction Industry Federation of Zimbabwe president Daniel Garwe said
buying a finished product was still cheaper in Zimbabwe than building a
"Prices of building materials are still expensive in Zimbabwe. This is
because most of the building material is imported," Garwe said. "Imported
building materials are expensive because of the duty that is imposed. Some
builders and contractors still have a Zimbabwe dollar mindset of
Garwe, however, said the advantage of building one's own house was that
"everything is done as per one's instruction".
"Most properties are in need of renovation as a lot of homeowners were
failing to maintain their houses during the hyperinflationary environment,"
Ailse Properties managing
director Andrew Chifamba also said building a residential property was
"A house in a medium density area such as Msasa Park is being sold for
between US$30 000 and US$40 000. It costs about US$250 per square metre to
build which can translate to about US$55 000, which is more expensive
without including other unforeseen costs," Chifamba told businessdigest.
Chifamba said building could be cheaper if potential homeowners sourced
building materials by themselves and took longer to build without stretching
"In Highlands a stand costs about US$40 000. The value of a property on that
land costs between US$100 000 to U$200 000. It will cost more if one is to
build a house that is in the same league as those in the same
neighbourhood," Chifamba said.
Thursday, 29 April 2010 18:07
INDIVIDUALS and corporates are forking out between US$25 and US$50 monthly
in bank transactions, far above regional averages. Figures obtained by
businessdigest from commercial banks in the last fortnight show that an
individual is charged between US$1 and US$5 for a single withdrawal, while
companies pay up to US$9. The regional average is US$2 for individuals and
US$6 for companies.
To be issued with a draft/RMO, individuals and corporates are parting with
between US$8 and US$15. Telegraphic transfers cost between US$15 and US$30
for both corporates and individuals depending on the amount involved. The
same amount is charged for deposits received by telegraphic transfers.
Banks are also charging as much as US$20 for a single deposit of bank notes
transaction. The average regional charge for the same transaction is US$7.
Some banks are not charging for maintaining clients' accounts, but others
are levying US$3.
Corporates are being charged between US$8 and US$12 per month for monthly
account maintenance. FCA inter account transfers cost between US$1 and US$5
depending on the bank for both individuals and corporates.
Service charges for salary processing tariffs cost between US$1,50 and US$4
per entry for manual salary payments. Unclaimed salaries cost between US$4
Companies are being charged between US$7 and US$10 per payroll for late
Most banks have not set a charge for intermediated money transfer tax.
Facility negotiation fees for companies cost 5% of the value of the
overdraft or loan.
Between US$4 and US$8 is charged for stop orders.
Accounts closed within six months are attracting a fee of between US$18 and
US$25, while reactivation of a dormant account costs between US$20 and
Services for bonds guarantees, securities and indemnities and bills range
between 5% and 10% of the amount at hand.
Charges for letters of guarantee, and guarantees are between 4% and 6% of
the amount involved. Letters of credit for foreign inward cost US$75 per
credit. Foreign outward for commercial banks cost 10% of the amount being
Commenting on the bank charges, the immediate past president of the Bankers
Association of Zimbabwe (BAZ), John Mangudya, was quoted in a weekly
newspaper saying: "We have received the same complaints (over bank charges)
from our customers. If we make a regional comparison, our bank charges
remain competitive. Across the region it is expensive to visit the banking
halls and transact.
"What we are focusing on now is continuous investment in electronic banking,
which reduces cost. On interest rates charged by banks, we are working,
through moral suasion within the association, to reduce the disparity on
interest rates being offered and/or charged by banks.
"This will go a long way in minimising the underlying contagion effect of
arbitrage opportunities associated with the disparity. This disparity is not
healthy for the economy."
Banks are currently making money from loan portfolios but given the
uncertainty in the deposits levels they are becoming prudent by writing
smaller percentages of loans so as to manage the liquidity risk.
The lack of good quality paper like Treasury bills that used to offer good
yields at a much lower risk also puts pressure on banks to cover their costs
of running the business through other means.
For example, a bank in Zambia would have a huge portfolio in Treasury Bills
and government bonds to cover their deposits cost, but in Zimbabwe banks
rely on loans alone to cover the costs of running the business.
Bankers interviewed this week said the charges on cash withdrawal and loan
arrangement fees were justifiable for most banks.
"These are direct expenses involved in sending the telegraphic transfer and
in importing the cash and work done in approving the loan. Compared to the
region I would say that Zimbabwe is competitive (although there is scope to
reduce)," a CEO with a commercial bank told businessdigest on Tuesday.
"Charges like monthly account maintenance, statement requests, are still
relatively high but this should correct itself as the economy continues to
A head of treasury with a local bank said financial institutions had
resorted to higher charges to boost their income and support the
infrastructure they put in place when the economy was faring better.
"The economy has been on a decline during the past 10 years and this has
left a number of them with higher costs and less business to write hence the
need to cover costs through increased charges," the official said.
"Banking is not likely to be a cash cow like it used to be given the lack of
assets and competition as well as fewer products on offer. Licenses of
different sectors of banks like Commercial banks, Merchant Banks, Discount
Houses and Building societies will fall away as more and more products would
be offered under one roof."
Analysts said the future of banks lies on their levels of service.
"Customers would be willing to pay for goods and essential services.
Infrastructure of the bank is likely to be more of Internet or card based
rather than actual brick and mortar," said an analyst with a merchant bank.
Thursday, 29 April 2010 19:01
IT MAY be time for our old friend Patrick Chinamasa to cool his heels in the
transit lounge at Brussels airport. He has been busy blocking the work of
the Council of Ministers by thwarting the Government Work Programme which
sets out government business over the year.
Permanent secretaries aligned to Zanu PF have used the state media to say
they would not attend meetings of the Council of Ministers because they were
Chinamasa blocked moves by secretary in the prime minister’s office, Ian
Makone, to “clandestinely reassign cabinet powers to the Council of
Ministers chaired by his boss Morgan Tsvangirai”, the Sunday Mail told us.
Documents seen by the paper show that Makone had tried to summon permanent
secretaries to the Council of Ministers and in the process get them to
report to the prime minister and not their line ministers.
“However, these attempts were blocked by Justice minister Chinamasa who had
to write to the Minister of State in the PM’s office, Gorden Moyo,
explaining the constitutional position and the manner in which government
The Herald had it “on good authority” that the Government Work Programme has
not been approved and “remains a wish list from the PM’s office”.
This is all useful to have on the record ahead of the Brussels meeting on
reengagement that was postponed last week because of the volcanic ash.
Chinamasa has faced difficulties getting a visa to travel to Europe. If and
when he gets there he must be “grilled” on his attempts to thwart progress
in the government of national unity.
Here we have several examples of Zanu PF’s delinquency. First of all
partisan permanent secretaries have been feeding confidential documents to
the state press. This underlines the dangers of unprofessional officials
continuing to hold office.
Secondly there is the more serious problem of Zanu PF-aligned officials
blocking government business. PM Tsvangirai is desperately trying to revive
the economy by harnessing ministers and their officials to a common
programme. It was always feared by those wary of working with reactionary
elements in the Mugabe regime that they would prevent change.
That is exactly what is happening now under the guise of upholding
EU officials have been trying to be helpful to the GNU by promising the
lifting of certain measures at the behest of PM Tsvangirai.
It must be obvious to even the most naïve observer that the old guard is
blocking reform and systematically undermining Tsvangirai’s authority.
The GNU project is under threat and this is in turn impacting on investment.
It will be very difficult in the circumstances for Elton Mangoma’s team in
Brussels, when it gets there, to argue that there has been change. In fact
it would be foolish for them to even try. EU officials should take note of
the latest developments in the GNU and read the poisonous tracts attacking
the MDC-T appearing in the so-called public press. These are very often
penned by senior government officials and tell us all we need to know about
Zanu PF’s commitment to change.
One area the MDC-T omitted from inclusion in the GPA was that of foreign
policy. How can you have a government seeking international approval and
assistance for recovery measures hobnobbing with rogue regimes that believe
the Holocaust didn’t really happen?
This deeply offensive stance is one of several held by President Ahmoud
Ahmadinejad who paid a flying visit to Zimbabwe last week. He is responsible
for ruthlessly crushing protests against electoral manipulation in Iran last
year. His opponents in the poll say he used state agencies to steal the
He was therefore, some may say, an entirely appropriate visitor to Harare.
But as the MDC-T pointed out, they could not be expected to welcome the
Iranian leader when they had not been consulted about his visit to open the
ZITF in Bulawayo. There were some very silly remarks in the government press
about how the MDC-T was getting its marching orders on Ahmadinejad from
Does it really take instructions from the West for the people of Zimbabwe to
realise this was the representative of a very odious regime who didn’t even
have the full support of his own people judging by the election results.
Zimbabweans were able to see the film footage and cellphone pictures coming
out of Tehran last year in the wake of the stolen poll.
On a lighter note it was good to see the two self-appointed champions of
anti-imperialism sitting in the back of a 1960 Austin Princess, once seen
carrying the Queen Mother to the opening of the Central African Trade Fair,
as it was then called.
Back then the trade fair was a bustling showcase for the products of the
Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland. It was packed with exhibitors and
visitors from far afield. Now, with most exhibitors staying away, it is
little more than an exclusive Iranian showpiece where the most impressive
items are a handful of tractors.
The state media in extolling the products of Iranian manufacturing appear
not to know there is a precedent. Back in the days of the old Soviet Union,
the appearance of tractors as symbols of a new socialist era was something
of a legendary joke among Western visitors to trade fairs.
Meanwhile, the MDC-T urgently needs to demand consultation on the issue of
foreign policy. We cannot have a situation where a defeated party speaks for
the country and heaps shame upon Zimbabwe by associating with notorious
enemies of democracy.
“Choice of friends defines character,” the MDC said, “and inviting the
Iranian strongman to an investment forum is like inviting a mosquito to cure
Iran is obviously Zimbabwe’s new best friend. But what happened to all the
others? Anybody remember Malaysia, now frantically trying to rescue its
investments in the Burma Valley? And more recently Equatorial Guinea? What
happened to that undying friendship? Perhaps the release of Simon Mann irked
the Zimbabwean authorities who like to hold on to political prisoners for as
long as possible. Reports say Mann was made to feel comfortable in the
klink — a far cry from the usual Blackbeach accommodation — with his food
prepared at a local hotel.
And then there are the politics of oil. There is a weekly flight to Malabo
from Houston. That may prove more persuasive than any solidarity with Zanu
By the way, has anybody noticed the anti-Mandela campaign going on in the
state press? They hate his international standing. But why parade their
Meanwhile, the Johannesburg Sunday Times ran an incisive editorial on April
“Robert Mugabe and his shrinking coterie of beholden allies will be alone in
their unqualified celebration of today’s 30th anniversary of their country’s
Independence,” the editor wrote. “It was indeed a great day when Rhodesia
shrugged off the yoke of colonial rule. But today, after three decades of
Mugabe’s ruinous rule, there is nothing left to celebrate.
“For the millions who cheered that country’s freedom on April 18 1980 this
anniversary is a memorial to shattered dreams. Mugabe’s survival in office
after a string of brutally stolen elections offends every genuine democrat.
His destruction of Zimbabwe’s vibrant agricultural and industrial economies
weighs upon the development of the entire African continent. The example of
despotic rule encourages nascent dictators like our own asininely ambitious
Young Julius we hear has been a guest of the equally unhinged Hugo Chavez
this week. They have a common agenda: nationalisation. And that’s where
Saviour Kasukuwere comes in.
The Standard carried a front page story on Sunday on how one of the most
successful and prosperous companies in the country, UTC, is unable to pay
its workers because it has been run into the ground.
Kasukuwere is part of a consortium of local businessmen who acquired the
company in 2001.
Having taken a cut in wages, the workers say they now want their wages paid
in full having observed that management continue to enjoy benefits such as
fuel and school fees.
Here is a company that should have been the flagship of indigenisation.
Instead it stands as a warning of what could happen to the economy as a
whole under Kasukuwere’s plans.
Zanu PF: You destroy everything you touch. Why should anybody trust you with
Ever since their historic defeat in 2008, Zanu PF’s propagandists have
become uncontrollably shrill. They are now mostly confined to the leader
pages of the Herald where they wave their pathetic fists at the MDC and its
leaders. These Jurassic misfits do no more now than elicit a laugh at their
crass and spurious patriotism. Finding themselves on the wrong side of
history, the best they can do is turn up the volume.
Tichaona Zindoga, for instance, under the Soviet-era heading, “Zimbabwe and
Iran, sturdy fronts against US hegemony”, describes the reaction to
Ahmadinejad’s visit by some MDC-T supporters as “at best arsinine (sic) and
unfortunate, and tragic and evil at worst”.
Which bit was “evil” we wonder? Staying away from the welcoming ceremony?
“President Ahmadinejad came as a friend of Zimbabwe while the MDC hobnobs
with enemies of the country who are bent on reversing the just cause of the
Is that the same majority that voted against Zanu PF in 2008?
“We believe in common principles,” Mahmoud Dinner-jacket explained.
You bet. Beating the life out of opposition demonstrators is one.
Iranians are becoming increasingly disillusioned with their rulers just as
Zimbabweans did after 2000.
Then we had that other Jurassic inhabitant, Tafataona Ma-
hoso, claiming that Zimbabwe’s 30 years of Independence “could have been
framed as 30 years of progressive internationalism”.
Really? Has anybody heard it framed like that? Is that a description of the
30 years of Zanu PF’s ruinous rule Mahoso is obliged to extol in his turgid
Apart from their political isolation, Zanu-PF’s publicists have something
else in common: They are as boring as hell.
“To be continued”: The words that send a shiver down the backs of Herald and
Sunday Mail readers!
Mahoso does not seem to relent in his defence of individuals suspected of
having made a killing through the systematic plunder of our diamonds.
It seems he is doing battle to cover up for those suspected to have
selfishlessly benefited from Chiadzwa.
Mahoso believes parliament’s portfolio committee on Mines and Energy has a
sinister motive when they push to be allowed to establish the goings-on in
“In the instalment for April 11, I raised questions about the conduct and
motives of the parliamentary portfolio committee on Mines and Energy in the
face of illegal economic sanctions and a propaganda war fuelled by Rhodesian
racism and vindictiveness against the Africans of this Southern African
region, against Africans who are remobilising in order to complete their
hard-won independence through the reclamation and redemption of their
Please Mahoso, the plunder of Chiadzwa has nothing to do with sanctions.
Stealing diamonds from Chiadzwa must not be swept under the rubric of
“reclamation and redemption of assets”!
A good example of partisan deceit was evident on Wednesday. The Herald’s
deputy editor wrote that “the Rhodesians did not cede power voluntarily as
evidenced by Ian Smith’s tears as the Union Jack was lowered. . . just after
midnight on April 18 1980.”
Shouldn’t that be “at midnight on April 17”? And Smith might well have shed
tears had he been there. But he wasn’t. The Herald’s deputy editor made it
up. Smith was unlikely to have mourned the departure of the Union Jack. He
removed it in 1968.
Finally, Muckraker was intrigued to hear that King George Rd in Avondale was
sealed off last Thursday evening while the Ahmadinejad family shopped for
curios by the side of the road. It was good to know that something tangible
emerged from the Iranian leader’s visit and not just hot air.
Thursday, 29 April 2010 18:55
WITH surprising and uncharacteristic concern for the wellbeing of the
populace, government is disturbed that, after almost a year of deflation,
the first signs of inflation are emerging, albeit at this stage at
relatively minimal levels. It is, unfortunately, very rare that Zimbabwe's
government have been deserving of commendation, and equally rare for it to
develop awareness of a possible problem, as distinct from only recognising
the problem when it has reached gargantuan proportions. However, within
only a few months of Zimbabwe moving from deflation to inflation (however
marginal that inflation is at this stage!), government has demonstrated a
consciousness that an inflationary trend is developing, and needs to be
Regrettably, although it is more often than not the case, government's
reaction and its contemplated remedial actions, are not commensurate with
the unexpected realism that it has demonstrated by its expeditious
recognition of a developing inflation trend. Instead, taking a leaf out of
the book that appears to have been the Zimbabwean government's manual for
most of the last three decades, it has cast its eyes upon whom it can blame
for the development, and concurrently considers draconian, drastic and
prejudicial regulatory controls perceived to counter a rise in inflation.
As addressed in this column last week, it has ascribed culpability for the
inflationary developments to commerce and industry in general, and to the
manufacturing sector in particular, contending that the motive was undue,
excessive profiteering, with callous disregard for the economic
consequences, and for the inflation-attributable hardships suffered by the
mass of the Zimbabwean population.
This was an "easy out" for government, in an endeavour to divert recognition
from the fact that it was the unstable political environment, foolhardy and
exceptionally damaging legislation, and recurrent conflict with much of the
international community that has been the continuing catalyst of economic
morass. It has been these acts of omission and commission that crippled
industrial productivity, minimising manufacturing outputs, and resulting in
unavoidable price increases in order to survive, not to profiteer.
The tragedy of government's inability to recognise realities is exacerbated
by its contemplation to resort, yet again, to regulation which it
misguidedly expects will address the issue. In fact, such regulation will
only worsen the circumstance, intensifying inflation and undermining the
targetted economic recovery. And that tragedy is compounded by the blatant
inability to learn from past experiences, for the regulation that government
is apparently contemplating is the reinstatement of price controls.
When price controls were introduced in June 2008, they proved to be an
economic tsunami. Instead of aiding consumers by assuring price
affordability, they destroyed the viability of almost all formal sector
businesses, be they manufacturers, wholesalers or retailers. Within weeks
many were forced into near-total cessation of operations and, as a result,
commodity shortages developed at a rapid pace. Within weeks, shops were
full of empty shelves, but of nothing else. Even the most basic essentials
ceased to be available, be they mealie meal, bread, flour, sugar, cooking
oil, soap, or otherwise. The only way that some manufacturers were able to
continue in operations was by resorting to exports (to a very major extent
to the neighbouring territories of Botswana, South Africa, Zambia, and
The principal resultant was the resurgence of an extraordinarily vigorous
and virile black market which sources the commodities so desperately needed
by the consumers. The market operated (sometimes with extreme blatancy) at
bus terminii in Bulawayo, Harare and other cities and towns, in back alleys,
and from innumerable homes in high-density areas. To an overwhelming extent
they obtained the goods they marketed from retail dealers in towns of the
neighbouring states, and especially those close to Zimbabwean boarders,
including Francistown in Botswana, Messina and Louis Trichardt in the
northern province of South Africa, and Livingstone in Zambia. Many of the
goods were of Zimbabwean manufacture, exported by producers who could not
afford to sell them in Zimbabwe at the unacceptably low controlled prices.
Speciously, and wholly unsubstantiated, the then government repeatedly
suggested that the manufacturers were the black market operators or
suppliers, voicing that contention repeatedly and endlessly, although devoid
of any corroborative evidence.
Those black market supplied goods generally attracted import duties upon
entry into the neighbouring states, then were subjected to the operating
margin mark-ups of the traders in those states, and on occasion also
attracted import duties upon being brought into Zimbabwe by the black
marketeers although many resorted to inward smuggling of the goods. In
addition, the black market operators paid premiums in obtaining - from
unlawful sources - the foreign currency needed for their purchase of the
goods. Superimposed over all these charges, the market then added
substantial margins to their total costs, in order to yield their targetted
profits. Hence, the consumers that government was allegedly protecting,
were confronted with the combined hardships of non-accessibility to a
sufficiency of their critical needs, and of the most pronouncedly horrendous
hyperinflation ever sustained, anywhere in the world, at any time in
Concurrently, most industries were forced into intense downsizing, with
unavoidably having to resort to intense reduction in numbers employed,
raising the unemployed population levels to more than 80% of the employable
population, thereby further intensifying the country's economic decline,
and exponentially increasing the extent of the nation's suffering and
hardships. Some enterprises could not merely downsize, but had wholly to
discontinue operations. Allied consequences of those circumstances were to
yet further deter much needed foreign investment, a yet greater lowering of
Zimbabwe's international credit rating and, therefore, jeopardising access
to suppliers' lines of credit, and a marked fall in revenue flows to the
In contradistinction, once price controls were discontinued, Zimbabwe
enjoyed a slow recovery of the economy, including marginal increases in
industrial productivity. It was enhanced by the subsequent demonetisation of
Zimbabwean currency, by diminished fiscal profligacy, and other constructive
economic recovery measures. This should have taught government that
excessive economic regulation is counterproductive, whereas deregulation and
minimised State controls fuel economic growth.
The most effective constraints upon inflation are to stimulate that
availability of product exceeds demand, thereby encouraging competitive
pricing, and to ensure stability in production costs instead of excessive,
frequently rising, utility and other public sector charges. Government needs
to address the causes of the economic ills, instead of the ills themselves,
thereby progressively minimising and curing those ills. However, if it
persists in its envisaged intent to implement price controls, the economy is
once again doomed. All economic recovery gains being reversed, and decline
becoming even greater than previously. Price controls will sound a death
knell for commerce and industry, for the economy, and for the populace at
Thursday, 29 April 2010 19:35
IT has always been a source of concern to us that the losers of the
elections two years ago continue to hold sway in the way this country is
governed. There is now every reason for those championing the democratic
cause to be even more anxious. Zanu PF, which was unambiguously rejected at
the polls in 2008, is firmly in charge while the MDC-T, which clearly
garnered more votes than President Mugabe's threadbare party, is slowly
There was so much promise last year with the formation of the unity
government that the MDC would become the agent of change in this country by
influencing forward-looking policies through parliament and in Cabinet. The
Council of ministers, which PM Morgan Tsvangirai heads, was touted as the
platform to "monitor and evaluate the performance of ministries, against the
critical path targets identified in the government work programme".
Revelations this week of the goings on in government point to a serious
erosion of Tsvangirai's influence in the GNU. Reports said an attempt by the
PM to summon permanent secretaries to a Council of Ministers meeting was
blocked by Patrick Chinamasa on the grounds that it was in breach of the
constitution. The meeting had been called to, among other issues, discuss
the Government Work Programme for 2010. Chinamasa has said the workflow
document has not been approved by Cabinet as Tsvangirai claimed and that the
paper had been drafted in the PM's office and distributed without Cabinet
Zanu PF's angst with the document is clear. The issue of procedure being
flouted is just a smokescreen. The contents of the programme, especially the
proposed legislative agenda, are the issue here. There are plans to amend
the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act with a view to removing
sections which criminalise defamation and to repeal the egregious Access to
Information and Protection of Privacy Act. Progressive forces in Zimbabwe
have oft said the two pieces of legislation are an affront to the opening up
democratic space in the country. But to Zanu PF, this is akin to taking away
candy from the mouth of a child. Chinamasa's reasons are a mere dissembling
ruse to protect Zanu PF's weapons of choice in subjugating fundamental
Tsvangirai does not appear to have an answer to this subterfuge. His Council
of Ministers platform is now resting on sinking pillars which are constantly
being eroded by Zanu PF's projects of sabotage.
That is not all; there have been reports lately that a draft ICT Bill from
the office of ICT minister Nelson Chamisa had been rejected. In essence the
minister is trying to sponsor a bill that would give him back his job after
his portfolio was hived off to Zanu PF ministers Webster Shamu and Nicholas
Goche. In essence, Chamisa is now a minister without portfolio.
Chamisa's colleague at the Ministry of Economic Planning Elton Mangoma is
also battling to have his economic blueprint accepted. Zanu PF deems it
There is more evidence of the growing powerlessness of MDC-T ministers.
Co-Home Affairs minister Giles Mutsekwa reportedly failed to save a photo
exhibition from being disrupted by security agency in Mutare. The minister
who is responsible for the police was brushed aside by the spooks who had
their orders from elsewhere in the recesses of the inclusive government. The
exhibition eventually escaped Mutare only to be seized in Masvingo.
State Enterprises minister Gabuza Gabbuza also features on this roll-call of
limp-wristed MDC-T ministers. A recent article in the state media revealed
that the minister was having problems getting to know how much heads of our
wretched parastatals actually earn. Poor Gabuzza believes the heads of the
loss-making quangos are earning as much as US$10 000 monthly. The problem is
that they are either not owning up or are giving him wrong information. The
parastatal heads evidently have no respect for the minister. If Gabbuza, who
has been in office for over a year, does not still know parastatals' salary
structures, what does he know? In fact what is his day job?
The same can be said of a number of MDC-T ministers including Theresa Makone
(Public Works) and Elphus Mukonoweshuro (Public Service).
There is no doubting at the moment where political power rests. It has been
clawed back by the loser and he is running away with it towards the
precipice. The ineffectualness of the MDC in the inclusive government has
allowed Zanu PF to dream up ruinous policies, the most apparent being the
contentious indigenisation regulations. It is unfortunate that the MDC has
now been reduced to reacting to Zanu PF's bonehead plans. Here the reform
agenda has been subjugated by their diversionary and damaging projects.
Parties in the inclusive government can no longer pretend to be working as
one. The country is slowly becoming despondent again and this is dangerous.
At the moment there is no sign of reform; just a cosmetic papering over the
cracks by a warped system of government aimed solely at securing external
Thursday, 29 April 2010 19:03
THE failure by the Morgan Tsvangirai-led MDC to curb growing violence in the
party is disturbing and gives credence to reports that its leaders are
fanning the brutality -- negating the founding principles of the party that
placed so much emphasis on a non-violent democratic struggle. The party last
week issued a strong statement that it had set up an independent committee
to investigate an incident of violence and intimidation that had occurred at
Harvest House -- the MDC headquarters -- about a fortnight ago.
MDC director-general Toendepi Shone and security director Chris Dhlamini
were assaulted by youths allegedly belonging to a faction in the party led
by Tsvangirai. The case against the directors, according to media reports,
was that they belong to another faction in the party headed by
secretary-general Tendai Biti. The Biti faction was reportedly positioning
itself to land key posts at the party's congress next year.
What is disturbing is the culture of intolerance that has been creeping into
the MDC since 2001. Some of the party's youths have turned into hoodlums who
are intolerant of divergent political views.
To make matters worse, over the years the party leadership has done little
to stop violence within the party. Independent committees to investigate
earlier cases were set up, but nothing concrete was done to end the culture
Several commissions of enquiry into violence within the party were
established since 2001 when then MDC lawmakers and activists, among them,
Priscillah Misihairabwi-Mushonga, Gabriel Chaibva, Edwin Mushoriwa and Janah
Ncube were assaulted by hired youths during a Harare provincial meeting.
There were other commissions of inquiry into the September 2004 attempted
murder of then security director Peter Guhu and the assault of the then
Bulilimamangwe MP Moses Mzila Ndlovu and other party members.
When in July 2006, Trudy Stevenson, now ambassador to Senegal, was attacked
in Mabvuku by MDC youths, the party was quick to establish an independent
internal inquiry chaired by Advocate Happiaus Zhou. The committee also
consisted of two prominent lawyers, Irene Petras of Zimbabwe Lawyers for
Human Rights and Kay Ncube of Gill Godlonton & Gerrans while Kudakwashe
Matibiri was the secretary.
What I found unacceptable was that when the findings of all the commissions
I alluded to above were revealed, the MDC expelled some of the youths
involved, but some of them found their way back into the party because they
would have participated in the orgy of violence on behalf of the powerful
and might in the party.
The founding legal secretary of the MDC, David Coltart, in an article he
penned giving reasons why he did not join the Tsvangirai-led MDC chronicled
how the party had adopted violence to deal with dissent.
He wrote: "Zimbabwe is afflicted with a disease akin to alcoholism, namely
endemic violence. What attracted me most to the MDC was its commitment to
breaking this cycle of violence by using non-violent means to achieve its
political objectives. I was also impressed by its commitment to end impunity
"Accordingly, the attempt by some MDC youths to murder MDC director for
security, Peter Guhu, on the 28th September 2004 in Harvest House was deeply
shocking, because it breached a fundamental tenet of what we stood for. Even
worse were the subsequent revelations made at the enquiry into the Guhu
incident that senior ranking MDC officials and employees were either
involved or sympathetic to the youths. No action was taken against any of
those responsible for this violence and in that inaction we saw for the
first time a culture of impunity developing within the MDC itself, which in
some respects was the worst thing of all."
Coltart added: "Those responsible for the September 2004 violence were not
immediately disciplined and it came as no surprise when the same youths were
used to seriously assault MDC staff members in mid-May 2005. A further
enquiry was held and its report was presented to the National Council
meeting held on the 25th June 2005. It was resolved that one member of staff
found responsible for directing the youths be expelled.
"The youths themselves had already been expelled in late May by the
Management Committee and the expulsion of the youths was confirmed. That was
undoubtedly progress but regrettably it was clear from the evidence that
other senior members of the MDC and staff members were also involved or
sympathetic towards the youths. Before a full debate about their fate could
be held the meeting was ended much to the dissatisfaction of many, including
My point in quoting Coltart is to demonstrate how the MDC has allowed a
culture of impunity, which if not nipped in the bud may have disastrous
consequences for the party.
We have seen how violence has discredited and alienated Zanu PF from the
electorate. It is my
hope that the committee set up last week will come up with stern measures
against the perpetrators of violence. The inquiry should not be a ruse this