††††† By Tony Hawkins in Harare
††††† Published: April 7 2006 03:00 | Last updated: April 7 2006 03:00
††††† The warning by Christopher Dell, US ambassador to Harare, last week
that Zimbabwe has "passed the point of no return" and will need substantial
international assistance to achieve a recovery, echoes what Zimbabwean
businesspeople are saying privately.
††††† Some industrialists say their volumes have fallen by as much as 30 per
cent in the first quarter of 2006 - and this after a five-year period in
which industrial production has halved nationally. The Zimbabwe Tobacco
Association estimates that production of tobacco, once Zimbabwe's chief
export, will fall to 50m kilogrammes this year from a peak of more than 230m
kgs in 2000.
††††† Although this year's rains have been excellent, a number of
quasi-official harvest forecasts suggest that the maize harvest will be no
more than 700,000 tonnes, possibly less, against annual consumption of 1.8m
††††† In a remarkable climbdown from its previous "We can go it alone"
stance, President Robert Mugabe's government has launched a $277m (?185m,
£129.7m) appeal for humanitarian assistance. Food supplies worth $111m top
the bill followed by requests for assistance for shelter, drugs and
agriculture. The appeal estimates that at least 3m people, or a quarter of
the population, will need food aid this year, but donor agencies say the
figure is closer to 4m.
††††† The business community is reluctant to speak out about Zimbabwe's
worsening economic prospects and its political crisis. But privately its
members say that there has been a strong fall in output in recent months
that is not yet reflected in published statistics.
††††† The business mood has been further soured by the government's threat
to nationalise 51 per cent of foreign-owned mining companies. In response,
mining groups and the Chamber of Mines, which represents the industry, have
warned that the consequences would be "catastrophic" especially as the plan
is to take 25 per cent of the companies' shares as "free carry", paying only
for the balance of 26 per cent over the next seven years.
††††† Fearing that such a move would put an end to any chances of attracting
foreign investment in the industry, the government is seeking a compromise
that would give it a 30 per cent stake, most of which it would pay for.
††††† This week the government sought to mollify some of its mining industry
critics by doubling the Zimbabwe dollar price it pays for gold - now the
country's largest export. While this is tantamount to a 40 per cent
devaluation of the official exchange rate (Z$99,200 to the US dollar), it is
unlikely to have much impact on parallel market gold sales by small-scale
producers, who are able to sell their bullion illegally to the black market
at vastly preferable exchange rates.
††††† The gold price move has led to calls from other exporters for similar
treatment. They say that the pegging of the exchange rate for the last two
months is eroding their profitability at a time when inflation is 782 per
cent and forecast to reach 1,100 per cent by mid-year. In a belated effort
to curb inflation, the central bank has tightened monetary policy and raised
interest rates in recent weeks, but in so doing it has created a potential
crisis in the banking sector.
††††† Money market dealers are warning that if the daily "shortage" in the
market gets to Z$10 trillion there could be casualties. "If the Reserve Bank
goes on like this, you are going to see bank casualties," one dealer warns.
††††† According to the International Monetary Fund, Zimbabwe is likely to
run a public sector (budget) deficit of close to 50 per cent of its GDP this
year. Financing this, economists say, at a time of sliding output, stagnant
exports, increased food imports and maturing short-term offshore loans, will
be hugely inflationary.
††††† There are as yet few signs of any change of heart on the part of Mr
Mugabe and his top advisers. "They are," says one businessman, "in bunker
mode, convinced that someone or something is coming to rescue."
From: Agence France-Presse
From correspondents in Geneva
April 07, 2006
LIFE expectancy for women in Zimbabwe has plummeted to just 34 years, by far
the lowest in the world, according to data released by the World Health
Women in the southern African nation and in nearby Swaziland are the only
ones in the world who are not expected to live into their forties, the 2006
World Health Report indicated.
Both countries are among the hardest hit by HIV/AIDS.
Male life expectancy at birth in Zimbabwe was 37 years in 2004, the most
recent reference year used for all 192 countries in the report.
While the prospects for men were unchanged in Zimbabwe, life expectancy for
women had dropped by two years in the space of 12 months.
Swaziland offered the lowest life expectancy for men - 36 years - of the
states included in the WHO indicators, and 39 years for women.
The figures were nonetheless an improvement on the 33 years recorded for men
and 36 for women in Swaziland a year earlier.
By contrast, Japan offered the healthiest outlook for its citizens, the WHO
Life expectancy for men there was 79 years, while newborn girls could on
average aim to live for 86 years. Both figures have improved by a year over
the last WHO report.
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Thank you for your support.†
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Xinhua News Agency
†06 Apr 2006
HARARE, Apr 6, 2006 (Xinhua via COMTEX) -- Kuwait on Thursday handed over
110 tones of maize meal to Zimbabwe, the African country being hit by
successive droughts for the past for four years, local media the NewsNet
In his acceptance speech, the minister of public service and social welfare
Nicholas Goche said the donation would go a long way in assisting people who
have been affected by the drought adding that the government is doing its
best to ensure food security and self sustainment for its people.
The Kuwait ambassador promised to drill boreholes in the remote areas as
part of its efforts to compliment government effort of providing safe and
By Lebo Nkatazo
Last updated: 04/07/2006 12:12:19
MOVEMENT for Democratic Change peace maker David Coltart has said that
chances of a reconciliation between the party's feuding factions are now
"very minimal" following the latest round of legal battles.
Coltart had proposed a five-point plan for possible negotiations for
reunification or amicable divorce between the feuding parties.
In a letters written to Morgan Tsvangirai and his former deputy, Gibson
Sibanda, now a member of a rival faction on February 20, the Bulawayo South
MP expressed opposition and warned of the dangers of matters between the two
parties being settled in the courts.
Coltart warned in his letter: "If the Zimbabwean courts are entrusted with
the role of settling these issues that will itself play into the hands of
the Mugabe regime. If both factions cannot agree to settle these disputes
they will in essence give the regime the power to decide through the courts
how long they want this conflict to go on for and who ultimately they want
to deal with.
"I have no doubt that the spectacle of opposition leaders fighting each
other in court and wrangling over names and assets will greatly diminish
those same politicians in the eyes of the Zimbabwean electorate."
This week, a faction of the MDC led by former NASA scientist, Professor
Arthur Mutambara took Tsvangirai's group to court over a party vehicle which
was violently seized in Harare. A High Court judge granted an order for the
car to be returned.
On Thursday, Coltart said: "The Zimbabwean public is not impressed by the
spectre of the MDC fighting in the courts. I think the chances of
reconciliation are now very minimal. The parties still have to meet on how
the divorce should take place."
The MDC split last November over a contentious debate around the party's
participation in senate elections. Tsvangirai opposed participation, while
some of his senior colleagues felt otherwise and when the two groups
couldn't reconcile their positions, a split became inevitable.
††††††††††† Dumisani Muleya
††††††††††† IN an implicit recognition of the deteriorating economic crisis,
government has established emergency sub-committees under the shadowy
Cuban-style Zimbabwe National Security Council (ZNSC) to run the economy as
part of measures to arrest a worsening meltdown.
††††††††††† Official documents reveal that the state security establishment
will run the economy as it cross-cuts the emergency sub-committees that have
been set up to perform a rescue operation.
††††††††††† This confirms the view that the Central Intelligence
Organisation and the Joint Operations Command which comprises the
intelligence service, army, police, prisons and registrar-general's office,
now effectively run the country and are involved in a gamut of issues from
security to the economy.
††††††††††† Government bureaucracy is already heavily militarised.
††††††††††† The Cuban economy is run by a Council of State assisted by
committees, although the government has devolved some authority to
ministries and enterprises in recent years.
††††††††††† The move, sources said, exposes growing desperation within
government over the deteriorating economic crisis.
††††††††††† Observers said this week the latest development validates the
view of a growing police state in Zimbabwe run by the security apparatus.
††††††††††† The command economy, they said, will become more entrenched
again as shown by the return of price controls this week.
††††††††††† The ZNSC, chaired by President Mugabe, and the existence of
which was first revealed in this newspaper, instructed chief secretary to
the president and cabinet, Misheck Sibanda, at a meeting on March 17 "to
establish sub-committees that will provide technical inputs covering various
structural and sectoral issues".
††††††††††† Sibanda is also chairman of the newly set up Technical Committee
of Experts which will coordinate activities of the ZNSC, a key part of the
recently established National Economic Development Priority Plan.
††††††††††† The Sibanda team duly formed its taskforces under the National
Economic Recovery Committee (NERC) at a meeting held on March 20.
††††††††††† There have been numerous economic recovery plans, all of which
††††††††††† Recent studies have shown Zimbabwe has the fastest-shrinking
economy in the world - outside of a war zone.
††††††††††† The economy has shrunk by 10% in 2003, 4% in 2004 and 7% in
2005. Negative growth is also expected this year.
††††††††††† It also has the highest inflation in the world at 782%, followed
by Iraq at 40%. It is feared inflation will soon hit the 1000% mark.
††††††††††† NERC taskforces include those on foreign exchange mobilisation
and utilisation chaired by Reserve Bank governor Gideon Gono, agriculture
coordination, inputs supply and food security (chair: Col Christian Katsande
and Simon Pazvakavambwa), domestic and international resource mobilisation
(Willard Manungo), tourism, image and communication (Ray Ndlukula), "Look
East" promotion and implementation of programmes (Ambassador Joey Bimha),
human skills identification, deployment and retention (Dr Washington
Mbizvo), distressed companies rehabilitation (Katsande), restructuring of
public enterprises and local authorities (Ray Ndlukula), economic
surveillance and protection (Melusi Matshiya), and imports substitution and
value addition (Gono and Katsande).
††††††††††† The ZNSC sub-committees include the agriculture coordination,
food security and corporate farming taskforce to be run by the ministries of
Agriculture, Energy, State Security, Justice, Water, Transport, Economic
Development and 32 other various organisations.
††††††††††† Its mission is to revive agriculture destroyed by the chaotic
land reform programme.
††††††††††† The domestic resource mobilisation and investment promotion
sub-committee comprises the ministries of Finance, Economic Development,
Energy, State Security, Industry, Local Government, Justice, Science and
Technology, Water and seven organisations.
††††††††††† Its mandate is to mobilise resources and promote investment.
††††††††††† The foreign currency mobilisation sub-committee has the
ministries of Finance, Economic Development, State Security, Tourism,
Industry, Mines and the central bank, among other organisations represented.
††††††††††† "The sub-committee has a task to mobilise a minimum of US$2,5
billion in the next three months from March," documents say. "It will have
to put in place measures to ensure adequate and constant supply of foreign
currency into the economy."
††††††††††† The inputs supply taskforce has 10 ministries represented -
including State Security - and 15 organisations to "enhance capacity
utilisation in all sectors of the economy".
††††††††††† The tourism and communications sub-committee includes the
president's office and six ministries, including the Attorney-General's
office. Its mission is to revive tourism and enhance economic relations with
††††††††††† Clemence Manyukwe
††††††††††† BOTH MDC factions are set to face off in the Budiriro
by-election following indications that they will field rival candidates for
the poll slated for May 20, in clear evidence that their split is final.
††††††††††† The fielding of competing candidates by the two factions is most
likely to split the opposition vote in the urban constituency and hand Zanu
PF an unearned victory.
††††††††††† The constituency fell vacant following the death of MDC MP
Gilbert Shoko last month. The nomination court for the poll will sit on
††††††††††† Sources said this week the anti-senate faction was likely to
field former Harare mayor and recently elected national organising
secretary, Elias Mudzuri, as their candidate.
††††††††††† It was not immediately clear who was going to stand on the
pro-senate faction's ticket.
††††††††††† The faction's secretary-general Welshman Ncube yesterday
confirmed that his camp would be fielding a candidate, a departure from the
last election when the feuding sides refrained from competing
††††††††††† against each other.
††††††††††† The strategy saw the anti-senate faction losing the Chegutu
mayoral and Chitungwiza council polls while the pro-senate camp lost ward
elections in Bulawayo to Zanu PF.
††††††††††† Anti-senate faction spokesperson Nelson Chamisa yesterday would
not commit himself on their likely candidate.
††††††††††† "As of now I cannot talk about who is going to stand. The
candidate will emerge from the internal process. Leaders come from a
combination of wards and districts in Budiriro," said Chamisa.
††††††††††† Revelations of the factions squaring up in Budiriro and this
week's court case that saw the High Court ordering the anti-senate camp to
return a vehicle seized from their rivals is likely to put to nought efforts
by the MDC's secretary for legal affairs David Coltart to reconcile the two
††††††††††† The Bulawayo lawyer yesterday said: "I think now the chances of
reconciliation are minimal but both sides still need to negotiate regarding
the split." The negotiations centre around party property, logos and court
††††††††††† Dumisani Muleya
††††††††††† PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe's volatile succession struggle has
become more explosive than ever with the fiercest fights breaking out in
party and government structures ahead of a constitutional amendment to
manage the issue.
††††††††††† Sources said infighting in the ruling Zanu PF has intensified as
ministers, government and party officials, and MPs clash over control of the
party along factional lines.
††††††††††† This comes as Justice minister Patrick Chinamasa prepares to
table an 18th amendment to the constitution to postpone the scheduled
presidential election from 2008 to 2010 as part of measures to manage Mugabe's
increasingly divisive succession tussle. Zanu PF MPs are being marshalled by
party leaders to close ranks over the issue.
††††††††††† Sources said the succession struggle is fast becoming a
cutthroat fight with fierce clashes erupting at various levels within the
party and government.
††††††††††† "They are fighting everywhere you find them," a source said.
"Clashes are now to be found at the politburo, central committee, and other
lower levels of the party. In government, that is cabinet and parliament, as
well as in key state institutions, the fights around the succession issue
are going on."
††††††††††† This week the ruling party called an emergency caucus meeting in
a bid to quell rivalry among its Lower House MPs and senators. The
legislators had been drawn into the vortex of the succession conflict.
††††††††††† This follows reports of wrangling between Finance minister
Herbert Murerwa and the Reserve Bank governor Gideon Gono as well as clashes
between Chinamasa and Attorney-General Sobusa Gula-Ndebele.
††††††††††† The Zanu PF power struggle - which is threatening to rock the
party to its foundation - has complex scenes, plots and sub-plots
intertwined with the country's political direction and economy.
††††††††††† The power struggle is being fuelled by the realisation that it
is almost a fait accompli now - although the situation remains fluid - that
Vice-President Joice Mujuru will succeed Mugabe, supported by Speaker of
Parliament John Nkomo and State Security minister Didymus Mutasa as her
deputies, sources said.
††††††††††† The sources, however, said Mujuru prefers politburo member Obert
Mpofu to Nkomo as vice-president. Elements from the intelligence community,
on the other hand, want former Zapu intelligence supremo Dumiso Dabengwa in
††††††††††† Simba Makoni is said to have once again vanished from the
picture, although he remains "Plan B" for both retired army commander
General Solomon Mujuru's and party luminary Emmerson Mnangagwa's factions.
††††††††††† Defence minister Sydney Sekeramayi is also "Plan B" for the
††††††††††† To confirm the line-up comprising Mujuru, Nkomo and Mutasa, an
amendment to the Zanu PF constitution to remove the clause - inserted on
November 18, 2004 to block Mnangagwa from outmanoeuvring Mujuru - has to be
††††††††††† The provision says that one of the two second-secretaries
(vice-presidents) of Zanu PF has to be a woman. Plans are already under way
to change this.
††††††††††† Sources said the succession issue also has a new dimension.
While Mujuru is now almost certainly assured of succeeding Mugabe, her
chances were being threatened by a fierce stand-off between Mugabe and the
Mujuru camp. They are at odds over the time-table of the president's
††††††††††† Sources said the Mujuru camp wants Mugabe to quit now, but the
president is riled by any efforts to stampede him out of office.
††††††††††† The situation is further complicated by the fact that the state
security agencies - intelligence, army, and police - are also roped in to
the battle although their loyalty now firmly lies with Mugabe and nobody
††††††††††† There are also feuding camps within the Mujuru faction, further
making matters worse.
††††††††††† The amendment, which is being marketed through the setting up of
the proposed Human Rights Commission, will introduce a constitutional clause
changing the current provision that says if a sitting president becomes
incapacitated or is unable to continue for whatever reason, a fresh election
will be held within 90 days.
††††††††††† Sources said the new clause will say if the incumbent fails to
continue in office a designated vice-president will take over for the rest
of the term.
††††††††††† This, as first reported by the Zimbabwe Independent last year,
will assist Mujuru in her bid for ascendancy. The plan is to ensure Mugabe
goes in 2008 and Mujuru takes over as an interim president, elected by a
two-thirds majority of both houses of parliament, from 2008 to 2010.
††††††††††† Mujuru takes over as Zanu PF leader in 2009 and becomes
presidential candidate in 2010.
††††††††††† Clemence Manyukwe
††††††††††† ZIMBABWE'S tobacco auction floors face closure next year after
farmers failed to repay loans amounting to $1 trillion at a time when the
floors are operating at 8% of capacity due to reduced production.
††††††††††† In submissions to the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Lands
and Agriculture on Tuesday, a representative of the auction floors, William
Nyabonda, said the introduction of the dual tobacco auction system had
compounded their woes.
††††††††††† He said the system had seen declining levels of output with only
17-20 million kg expected to be traded at the auctions this season from a
peak of 237 million kg in 2000.
††††††††††† "The signals are that with this trend, auctions will soon become
a thing of the past with the possibility of closure in 2007," he said.
††††††††††† From the 237 million kg in 2 000, output went down to 69 million
kg in 2004 and 73 million kg the following year. This year the forecast is
55 million kg, blamed on the ruinous land reform programme and lack of
inputs and incentives.
††††††††††† In 1999 before the government embarked on the land reform
programme, output for the leaf stood at 250 million kg. The decline over the
years is in contrast to the country's neighbours such as Zambia and Malawi
††††††††††† In Zambia tobacco output rose from 4, 3 million kg in 2000 to 7,
3 million kg in 2003 to 24 000 million kg in 2005, representing a more than
500% increase in five years.
††††††††††† The committee, which is chaired by Zanu PF Masvingo South MP
Walter Mzembi, also heard that in 2004 the auction floors supported farmers
with $1 trillion at today's rates which they have failed to repay due to
††††††††††† "Zimbabwe has a serviceable infrastructure of curing facilities
for a crop of 250 million kg. However, a lot of the infrastructure is in the
hands of non-tobacco growers," he said.
††††††††††† Commenting soon after the hearing, Mzembi said: "The sooner we
realise that we are losing ground to other players like Brazil which has
increased from 440 million kg to 650 million kg and India which was behind
us followed by the United States, the sooner it should spur us into urgent
††††††††††† He said it was regrettable that although the country had
infrastructure which can handle a crop of 250 million kg, currently it was
beset by a number of problems that have seen three primary processing plants
and five cigarette manufacturing plants failing to operate at full capacity
due to shortage of tobacco.
††††††††††† Mzembi said mechanisms should be put in place for tobacco to
take centre stage in the agricultural industry "because if it is grown to
maximum it can earn in excess of US$7 billion-enough to cover all our cereal
grain imports without growing them".
††††††††††† Clemence Manyukwe
††††††††††† LOCAL Government minister Ignatious Chombo has evicted a Harare
woman from a government flat on the grounds that she was not a civil servant
and given it to a female relative who is not a government employee.
††††††††††† It also emerged this week that Chombo's relative, Mavis
Chimusoro, is now being represented by the Civil Division of the
Attorney-General's Office in a legal battle in which the evictee, Fungai
Mutumbwa, is seeking to retain her tenancy in the flat in Harare's Belvedere
††††††††††† Mutumbwa, who was renting the flat from a former civil servant,
was evicted on March 14. The Harare magistrates court reserved judgement in
the matter on Tuesday.
††††††††††† In an interview on Wednesday, Mutumbwa's lawyer, Josiah
Chinherede, said: "It came out during cross examination in court that the
woman is the minister's niece."
††††††††††† He added that they were surprised why Chimusoro had been allowed
to lease the property when she was not a civil servant and why the AG's
office was involved in a matter when it was supposed to represent government
††††††††††† Asked why the AG's office was representing a non-civil servant,
Clement Muchenga, the government lawyer representing Chimusoro, said: "That
was not brought to our attention. We were assigned by the ministry to
represent the woman who had entered a lease agreement with the minister. We
only realised that she was not a civil servant during the course of the
††††††††††† Efforts to get a comment from Chombo were fruitless.
††††††††††† However, in court papers that led to Mutumbwa's eviction, Chombo
said: "The applicant (Mutumbwa) has no right to be in occupation of the
flat. She is not a civil servant."
††††††††††† Itai Mushekwe
††††††††††† SWEDISH ambassador to Zimbabwe Sten Rylander yesterday
castigated the state media's tendencies to peddle propaganda as news, saying
he had been misquoted on the sanctions issue again.
††††††††††† The Sunday News and Sunday Mail last weekend reported Rylander
as saying sanctions should be lifted immediately "because they are hurting
the ordinary people and not serving any purpose".
††††††††††† The diplomat denied ever calling for the EU to lift sanctions
arguing that his statements had been deliberately "distorted".
††††††††††† "I'm very concerned about these distortions," said Rylander. "It's
not helping in building the confidence with the international community
which Zimbabwe requires. I'm concerned that the state media is ruining
††††††††††† Rylander appears to have unwittingly played into Zanu PF's
††††††††††† His reported comments have been used by the state media to
suggest a rift within the EU on what is called its "common position" on
††††††††††† The EU's targeted sanctions prevent President Mugabe and his
lieutenants from travelling to Europe or setting up business ventures in the
25 countries forming the bloc. Mugabe blames the sanctions for the current
economic meltdown which has pushed inflation to 782% - the highest in the
††††††††††† Rylander said the state media had failed to adhere to basic
principles of media ethics and professionalism, which was self-defeating
since it was crucial for the country to convey the correct message to
well-wishers who want to help.
††††††††††† "We don't need distortions by the media," he said. "This does
not help in building confidence, especially in Zimbabwe's current
††††††††††† "The state media is not getting it right. In this media field
one needs to be ethical and professional. It is also important to have an
independent media and freedom of expression," he said.
††††††††††† "However, I'm not going to refuse to talk to them."
††††††††††† Clemence Manyukwe
††††††††††† SEVENTEEN Zanu PF supporters aligned to a ruling party faction
loyal to National Security minister Didymus Mutasa have been jailed by the
Rusape Magistrates' Court for three years each in a political violence case
initially linked to the minister.
††††††††††† Mutasa however got off the hook after state witnesses refused to
implicate him in the clashes that erupted in the run-up to the ruling party's
primary elections for the 2005 general election.
††††††††††† The violence saw Mutasa's supporters destroying property and
leading attacks on a rival Zanu PF group led by war veteran James Kaunye who
was contesting the minister's Makoni North seat.
††††††††††† In an interview on Monday, the Director of Public Prosecutions,
Loice Matanda-Moyo, confirmed the jailing of Mutasa's supporters who include
Zanu PF's Makoni North district chairman Albert Nyakuedzwa, who is also
facing murder charges on a separate case.
††††††††††† "Seventeen were convicted and sentenced to 36 months
imprisonment. Ten months were suspended on condition of good behaviour and
another six months were suspended on condition that they pay for the damaged
property," Matanda-Moyo said.
††††††††††† The conviction and sentencing of the 17 comes more than a month
after 12 other accused persons in the same case, including Nyakuedzwa's wife
Erica Nyaude, were acquitted and discharged as no one linked them to the
††††††††††† Augustine Mukaro
††††††††††† MDC pro-senate leader Arthur Mutambara is struggling to make an
impact on the ground with crowds attending his rallies shrinking with each
appearance, in direct contrast to his rival, Morgan Tsvangirai's burgeoning
††††††††††† Mutambara's rally two weeks ago in Chitungwiza and Tsvangirai's
two meetings in Gweru and Masvingo last weekend clearly show that Mutambara
has a mountain to climb to tilt the scales in his favour.
††††††††††† The Mutambara rally in Chitungwiza where his lieutenant Job
Sikhala used to enjoy overwhelming support was a test case, attracting less
than 1 200 people, many of them children.
††††††††††† His inaugural rally in Bulawayo, his faction's supposed
stronghold, was also poorly attended with only 1 500 people turning up. The
low turnouts contrasted with Tsvangirai who attracted 17 000 supporters in
Gweru and 12 000 in Masvingo during the weekend rallies which marked the
first public appearance of the newly-elected leadership team in the
††††††††††† However, the Mutambara faction's secretary for Information and
Publicity, Morgan Changamire, defended his faction's performance.
††††††††††† "The MDC President, Professor Arthur Mutambara, addressed an
ecstatic and jubilant crowd of more than 5 000 people at Huruyadzo shopping
centre in Chitungwiza," Changamire said in a statement last week.
††††††††††† The Tsvangirai faction spokesman, Nelson Chamisa, described the
huge turnout at their rallies as a bold statement giving the new leadership
a mandate to lead the party.
††††††††††† "Thousands of MDC supporters continue to make a bold statement
against the dictatorship," Chamisa said. "They turned up in large numbers at
MDC rallies held in Gweru and Masvingo over the weekend to meet their new
leadership and to chart the way forward. In Gweru on Saturday, 17 000 MDC
members thronged Mkoba stadium while another 12 000-strong crowd turned up
for a morning rally held at Mamutse stadium in Masvingo the following day."
††††††††††† Chamisa said Tsvangirai told the crowds that he was not worried
by the dictatorship's incessant threats to kill him if he led people in a
sustained programme of democratic resistance to achieve a new and democratic
††††††††††† He said Tsvangirai reiterated the pledge he made at congress to
lead from the front after realising that elections alone without a parallel
political programme would not bring a new Zimbabwe.
††††††††††† Mutambara on the other hand told his supporters that if the
opposition party failed to remove Zanu PF from power through democratic
means, it would resort to demonstrations and mass stayaways.
††††††††††† "We are not afraid to use demonstrations and mass stayaways to
remove the government. We will not rule out using violence because this is
still our option," he said in Chitungwiza.
††††††††††† Mutambara told his supporters that he had the brains to turn
around the country's fortunes if he gets into power.
††††††††††† Calls for mass protests have been met with threats from
government officials, the latest being from President Mugabe at Winston
Changara's funeral at the National Heroes Acre last Friday.
††††††††††† Vice-President Joseph Msika dismissed Tsvangirai's calls as
empty talk meant to cause mayhem in Zimbabwe. Tsvangirai is scheduled to
hold another rally on Sunday at White City Stadium in Bulawayo.
††††††††††† Loughty Dube
††††††††††† THE Bulawayo provincial ex-ecutive of the opposition MDC
anti-senate faction faces a vote of no confidence from the party's districts
over the nomination of candidates for the party's vice-presidency position
that was ultimately won by Makokoba member of parliament, Thokozani Khuphe,
the Zimbabwe Independent has gathered.
††††††††††† Simmering discontent is brewing in the province after party
members questioned the removal of national executive member Getrude
Mthombeni's name from the vice-presidency list forwarded by the districts to
††††††††††† The party's district members are compiling names for a petition
that will be forwarded to the national chairman, Isaac Matongo, recommending
the disbanding of the Bulawayo executive committee.
††††††††††† Sources said the party's supporters want the Agnes Mloyi-led
executive to be disbanded for disregarding the province's resolutions.
††††††††††† However, pro-senate spokesperson for Bulawayo province, Paul
Themba Ndlovu, said he was aware of the moves by some of the party members
but said the whole action was unprocedural.
††††††††††† "Nominations for party positions are done by the people and we
take the candidates to the people for endorsement after vetting whether they
are capable of taking up the positions," Ndlovu said.
††††††††††† However, party sources insisted that Mthombeni was elected by
all the party's seven districts but her name was not forwarded to congress
by Bulawayo province.
††††††††††† The fractured opposition MDC is currently mired in leadership
squabbles that have seen the party being split in two over a decision on
whether to participate in last year's senatorial elections.
††††††††††† TWO Zimbabwe human rights activists, Otto Saki and Beatrice
Mtetwa, have been honoured separately for their roles in representing
victims of government repression.
††††††††††† Saki is one of the 2006 recipients of the prestigious Reebok
Human Rights Award while Mtetwa was honoured with an Index on Censorship and
Freedom of Expression award for defending journalists who were arrested for
practising without accreditation in the run-up to the 2002 presidential
††††††††††† Mtetwa received her award in London two weeks ago while Saki is
expected to receive his in New York next month.
††††††††††† Mtetwa defended and secured the release of two British Daily
Telegraph journalists, Toby Harden and Julian Simmonds, who were arrested
for reporting on Zimbabwe's election without accreditation. She also
defended Guardian correspondent Andrew Meldrum who was illegally deported
from the country.
††††††††††† Saki, who is a member of Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights, is a
joint winner with four other human rights activists.
††††††††††† The other winners are Li Dan, a former astrophysics student who
postponed his pursuit of a PhD to help HIV and Aids patients in China,
Rachel Lloyd, who works on behalf of sexually exploited children in the
United States and was herself in the sex trade as a teen, and Khurram
Parvez, a human-rights advocate and promoter of peace in Kashmir who lost
his right leg to a landmine. - Staff Writer.
††††††††††† Clemence Manyukwe
††††††††††† PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe last Friday likened the leader of the
MDC's anti-senate faction Morgan Tsvangirai to his dog and warned of severe
consequences if he led people into the streets.
††††††††††† Digressing from his prepared speech at the burial of his late
aide-de-camp who was declared a national hero, Winston Changara, Mugabe said
he used to have† a dog named Sekaurema that used† to run back home after
being taken for hunting expeditions.
††††††††††† "Now I heard that Tsvangirai ran away before he could reach
Mgagao (a base for war training in Tanzania). He is like Sekaurema," Mugabe
said. Before that he had delivered a litany of insults to the faction leader
and others opposed to his policies.
††††††††††† Commentators said this week it was regrettable that Mugabe
insulted people with impunity, fully aware that they could not respond in
the same manner due to at least four laws that protect him from similar
††††††††††† They said that anyone who responds to Mugabe's attacks must be
careful as they may end up being prosecuted.
††††††††††† It is an offence under the Public Order and Security Act (Posa),
the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (Aippa), the
Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act, and the General Laws Amendment
Act to make utterances that may engender feelings of hostility or cause
hate, ridicule or contempt towards Mugabe or his office.
††††††††††† UZ analyst Eldred Masunungure said: "I listened to the speech.
††††††††††† It was regrettable and unstatesmanlike. A president of a
country, even if he is an executive president, must use statesmanlike
††††††††††† The speech was unacceptable to any fair-minded person".
††††††††††† Masunungure added that the laws that protect Mugabe against
insult when he himself slanders others at will must be taken in the context
of the uneven political playing field that favours the status quo.
††††††††††† Human rights lawyer Arnold Tsunga said the "insult laws" are
mostly associated with a dictatorship that seeks to shield itself from
public scrutiny and accountability.
††††††††††† "Insult laws are mostly used for intimidating society from
giving opinions on how the country is being run," he said.
††††††††††† "Where there is a dictatorship, insult laws are used to prevent
public scrutiny of the chief executive officer of the country. They are not
in the public interest as they are used to champion the selfish and narrow
interest of the dictator," Tsunga added.
††††††††††† A number of people have been arrested in the past for giving
their opinion on the state of affairs they blame on Mugabe.
††††††††††† In November 2004, an unemployed Chitungwiza man was arrested for
allegedly saying in a bus: "Mugabe is a dictator who rules by the sword."
††††††††††† The following month, a† Harare man, Arnold Bunya, spent
Christmas in jail after calling Mugabe thick-headed.
††††††††††† Clemence Manyukwe
††††††††††† ANALYSTS have condemned a proposed amendment by Media and
Information Commission (MIC) chairperson Tafataona Mahoso seeking to tighten
the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (Aippa).
††††††††††† Appearing before the Parliamentary Portifolio Committee on
Transport and Communications recently, Mahoso called for the regulation of
distributors of foreign publications to avoid having "a planeload of
subversive material being dumped on the country's streets on the eve of an
††††††††††† "It is essential that we should regulate both the publishers and
the distributors," he said.
††††††††††† "Those distributors who import foreign periodicals should
indicate where they are procuring such periodicals."
††††††††††† The committee indicated that they would soon be recalling Mahoso
to hear his views on other proposed amendments by other interested parties.
††††††††††† Observers last week expressed fears that Mahoso's proposed
amendment was aimed at censoring publications such as The Zimbabwean,
published in Britain, South Africa's Sunday Times and the Mail & Guardian -
all weeklies that have carried reports critical of government policies.
††††††††††† They added that the move would result in the reduction of
independent publications in the country.
††††††††††† Mathew Takaona, the president of the Zimbabwe Union of
Journalists, said the move would isolate the people of Zimbabwe from the
rest of the world.
††††††††††† "We are surprised by the proposal.
††††††††††† The world is now a global village and you cannot isolate
Zimbabweans from the rest of the international community by regulating the
distribution of media products," Takaona said.
††††††††††† "Government should allow citizens access to unfettered
information. People should read all the information and make up their own
minds," he said.
††††††††††† Takaona said the proposal would create a dilemma for
international visitors and to get round it journals from all over the world
may need to be registered for purposes of screening which he said is
††††††††††† "The market should be allowed to make a determination.
††††††††††† If people want it, they will buy it, if they do not want it they
won't," Takaona added.
††††††††††† Human rights and media lawyer Beatrice Mtetwa said it was
surprising for Mahoso to make such a proposal when the government told the
African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights that it would be relaxing
the draconian legislation.
††††††††††† She said that the move may result in the disappearance of
independent international publications from Zimbabwe.
††††††††††† "Regulating distributors may mean refusing distribution. Where
do we draw the line?" wondered Mtetwa.† She added:
††††††††††† "One hopes that Mahoso was not speaking on behalf of the
government otherwise it would mean that the government went to the African
Commission and told an untruth."
††††††††††† The president of the Law Society of Zimbabwe Joseph James also
condemned Mahoso's proposals saying they were not necessary in a global
††††††††††† Media Monitoring Project of Zimbabwe's assistant advocacy
coordinator Dumisani Gandhi said Mahoso's proposal would affect the people's
capacity to make informed decisions.
††††††††††† "I think he has a sinister intention. When others are
campaigning that Aippa be repealed or amended to meet international norms
and standards, he is in fact tightening it," said Gandhi.
††††††††††† He added that freedom of expression should go beyond borders.
††††††††††† "The papers that would be targeted were giving an alternative
source of information.
††††††††††† The other side is necessary for people to make informed choices
and decisions," he said.
††††††††††† Shakeman Mugari
††††††††††† THE massive increase in interest rates threatens the viability
and balance sheets of most companies whose ability to repay loans has been
stretched to the limit.
††††††††††† The interests have added to the instability in the market
characterised by hyperinflation and foreign currency shortages.
††††††††††† If sustained, experts say, the current interest rate regime
could lead to company closures with many already showing signs of serious
††††††††††† It would also have a ripple effect on the whole economy.
††††††††††† This week the overnight accommodation rate for banks to borrow
from central bank was at 750% while the inter-bank rate (banks lending to
each other) was at 731,3%.
††††††††††† Banks were this week charging an average 500% on commercial
lending, used mostly by companies and individuals for loans.
††††††††††† The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe has been cranking up interest rates
to mop up excess liquidity in the market, strap inflation and stem
††††††††††† To market watchers though, such a measure has failed to clamp
down inflation as government keeps running the printers to sustain its
††††††††††† The effect of the high rates will ripple through the whole
economy with disastrous effects, experts say.
††††††††††† The banking sector, which is yet to fully recover from the
liquidity crisis of 2004, has already started feeling the crunch of the high
††††††††††† The rates have started eating into their earnings and balance
††††††††††† "They are bleeding and so are most companies and the whole
economy is not sustainable," said economist James Jowa.
††††††††††† He said while banks were picking money at between 731-750% on
the market, their return on investments like Treasury Bills (TBs) was
††††††††††† Most banks were sitting with 1-2 year bills which were yielding
between 120 -170%, Jowa said.
††††††††††† "That gap is not being covered and therefore represents losses."
††††††††††† The interest rate squeeze has worsened anguish for banks
currently battling to raise funds to meet the US$10 million ($1 billion)
capital requirements set by the central bank.
††††††††††† Their plight is made worse by the fact that they are all
scrambling for a shrinking pie in the form of deposits and customers in a
market where the savings culture has been wiped out by high inflation.
††††††††††† The impact of the rates cuts fell across the whole economy. The
hardest-hit are the heavily geared companies who are now servicing their
loans at high rates.
††††††††††† Analysts say some heavily borrowed companies might be forced to
scale down, retrench or close altogether.
††††††††††† Economist Blessing Sakupwanya said there was a danger that many
companies might be forced to shut down.
††††††††††† "It's unsustainable for companies and many are suffering.
††††††††††† They might close," Sakupwanya said.
††††††††††† For instance companies that borrowed at 165% in June last year
are now being forced to service their debts at 500%.
††††††††††† "The result is that their balance sheets are eroded as their
liabilities begin to eat into their assets," said Sakupwanya.
††††††††††† Even companies that were not heavily geared are under threat.
††††††††††† The interest rates will scare them away from borrowing for
††††††††††† They will also shy away from borrowing for other essential
services for fear of falling into a debt trap.
††††††††††† For the man on the street, the high interests are a double-edged
sword. Companies strangled by the rates will scale down operations, throwing
workers out of their jobs.
††††††††††† "When they scale down there will be a massive shortage of
products which will lead to more inflation.
††††††††††† The government is in a Catch-22 situation," said Sakupwanya.
††††††††††† The interest rates have become the latest challenge for
companies that are already under siege from a plethora of economic problems.
††††††††††† Apart from the soaring interest rates, the companies are failing
to cope with inflation, foreign currency and fuel shortages.
††††††††††† They are constantly under threat from government policies which
include price controls.
††††††††††† Paul Nyakazeya
††††††††††† GOVERNMENT accountant general Judith Madzorere has expressed
reservations in the way the state is managing its finances.
††††††††††† In a special report by the Public Accounts Committee on
Financial Management in the public sector, the committee quoted the
accountant general as saying there was a lack of discipline in the way
ministries handle their books, resulting in government failing to account
for billions of dollars.
††††††††††† Some ministries have not been submitting financial statements
for the past three years.
††††††††††† "I highlighted that there is general laxity in the financial
management (system) of the government," Madzorere was quoted as saying in
††††††††††† Madzorere was giving evidence to the committee on the state of
††††††††††† The committee said line ministries had been failing to submit
financial statements for public funds to the Comptroller and Auditor-General
for the past three years
††††††††††† She said government was losing billions of dollars because there
were no adequate internal checks and controls.
††††††††††† The committee said† Ignatious Chombo's Local Government ministry
was the main culprit having violated government's financial regulations by
††††††††††† The Office of the President was also fingered in the report for
violating the law and failing to submit returns.
††††††††††† Other ministries named for violating the government's financial
laws include Agriculture, Justice, Public Service and Defence.
††††††††††† The report said Finance, Industry and† Trade, Mines,† Transport
and Education had also violated regulations.
††††††††††† "Your committee is perturbed by the general nonchalant attitude
displayed by line ministries in the execution of their duties," the
††††††††††† The committee called on government to strengthen the Ministry of
Finance's supervisory role.
††††††††††† It said accounting officers had either delayed submitting or in
some cases not submitted returns during the period under review.
††††††††††† On suspense accounts, the committee said it was disturbed to
observe that the debt recovery system for advances and disallowances was in
most cases ineffective with some balances having to be written off.
††††††††††† Funds in Temporary Deposit accounts were being frequently
abused, it said.
††††††††††† "Some ministries circumvented the advances purpose by directly
charging to the vote. This created problems in the event of a shortfall.
††††††††††† The committee strongly condemns this practice and implores the
ministries to stop it forthwith," said the committee.
††††††††††† Shakeman Mugari
††††††††††† THE raging war over tariffs between the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe
and Zesa escalated this week amid revelations that a showdown now looms
between RBZ governor Gideon Gono and Zesa Holdings chairman Sidney Gata.
††††††††††† Angry correspondence has been flying back and forth between the
††††††††††† The confrontation comes three weeks after Gono overruled Energy
and Power Development† minister Mike Nyambuya's cabinet proposal for a
tariff hike of 2 280% this year.
††††††††††† Gono tore Nyambuya's proposal to pieces and accused Zesa of
wanting to make consumers pay for its incompetence and self-inflicted
††††††††††† He said Zesa had through Nyambuya misrepresented facts and
omitted some of its critical shortcomings to justify the hike to the cabinet
and President Mugabe.
††††††††††† The governor said an increase would scuttle the national fight
against inflation and lead to company closures - developments he said would
sabotage the turnaround programme.
††††††††††† Sources say Nyambuya is livid that Gono managed to get cabinet
to throw out a proposal he had worked on for six months.
††††††††††† Indications are however that Nyambuya, although not happy that
he has been overruled, seemed to have softened his initial hardline stance.
††††††††††† He has since given interviews to papers suggesting he is playing
to Gono's tune.
††††††††††† Nyambuya told cabinet on March 2 that Zesa needed an urgent 560%
increase to survive.
††††††††††† He said Zesa would need further quarterly tariff hikes to bring
the total increase this year to 2 280%.
††††††††††† He however told the Manica Post that such an increase would
militate against the war on inflation - exactly the same reason Gono used to
††††††††††† "Mind you, electricity is a strategic national resource that is
used by many companies and households and for Zesa to effect a massive
tariff hike at once will cause inflation," Nyambuya said.
††††††††††† But although Gono seemed to have won the battle three weeks ago
after convincing cabinet to throw out Nyambuya's proposals,† there are
strong indications that the war is far from over.
††††††††††† While Nyambuya is silent about Gono's actions, Gata seems to
have jumped into the fray by taking up the matter up with the presidium
through a scathing attack on the governor.
††††††††††† On Tuesday Gata submitted a report to Vice-President Joice
Mujuru accusing Gono of making ill-informed allegations and misrepresenting
facts to Mugabe and cabinet.
††††††††††† The report - a response to Gono's damning memo to cabinet dated
February 28 - rubbishes the governor's plea that a hike would scuttle his
††††††††††† Gata shot down Gono's attempts to cite inflation as the main
reason for his rejection saying he had failed to manage inflation even
without previous tariff increases.
††††††††††† "The RBZ's inflation targets were, after all, not met, nor its
exchange rate targets, as well as its interest rate targets, all of which
have had a very detrimental impact on Zesa's operations and finances," Gata
††††††††††† Gata denied Gono's allegations to cabinet that while whining
about exchange rate depreciation to justify the hike,
††††††††††† Zesa had not paid a "single penny" on the US$32,2 million (or
$3,2 trillion) the RBZ has sourced for its power imports.
††††††††††† Said Gono: "Omission of this fundamental reality left out a
critical piece of information which, in our considered opinion was
imperative to accurately guide cabinet."
††††††††††† Gata however dismissed the assertions accusing Gono of
"mis-reporting" and inflating the figures.
††††††††††† He said the amount which Gono has reported as $3,2 trillion was
actually $1,8 trillion.
††††††††††† "This amount is scheduled as a debt to be repaid to the RBZ,
with interest, once cost reflective tariffs are in place, and not to be
treated as some form of a support grant from the RBZ, as erroneously implied
in its submission," Gata said.
††††††††††† He accused the central bank of reneging on its promise to give
Zesa foreign currency to rehabilitate its power stations.
††††††††††† Gono, Gata said, had failed to deliver on both promises for
Plarp funds and foreign currency.
††††††††††† Gono had earlier pledged to give Zesa $1 trillion under Plarp
funds but has so far managed to release $301 billion† which Gata said had
not been timely disbursed.
††††††††††† He attacked Gono for sinking Zesa into debt while at the same
time blocking tariff increases essential for its efficient operations.
††††††††††† Gono has blocked tariff reviews for the past three years arguing
that such a move would endanger his war on inflation.
††††††††††† He said the utility's debt situation worsened from 2004 when
Gono started blocking tariff reviews.
††††††††††† "The three-year tariff freeze has in turn forced Zesa to fund
working capital through costly debt instruments such as bills, bonds and
Plarp (which is also an interest bearing loan), etc. Evidently, this has
strained Zesa's debt portfolio."
††††††††††† Gata further lashed out at the RBZ for trying to interfere with
Zesa's operations adding that the central bank is doing so despite its clear
technical inadequacies to run a power utility.
††††††††††† "It would be difficult to develop, retain and justify the
requisite expertise within itself to undertake operational functions of the
Zesa board and regulatory functions of the Zerc."
††††††††††† Gono is expected to respond next week after cabinet
deliberations on Gata's submissions.
††††††††††† Paul Nyakazeya
††††††††††† THE Zimbabwean dollar has lost at least 90% its value on the
black market during the first quarter of the year, pushed down by the
shortage of foreign currency, further widening the gap between the official
and parallel market rates.
††††††††††† As the parallel market continues to gallop, central bank
governor Gideon Gono has kept the lid on the official market, a move that
has worsened the situation.
††††††††††† The parallel market has been around $99 201,58 to the United
States dollar, giving the false impression that the local currency was now
††††††††††† However, on the parallel market the local currency has continued
to crash. The shortage of foreign currency has also pushed companies against
the wall as they resort to the black market.
††††††††††† For the past three weeks the dollar has been trading at† around
$210 000-220 000 against the greenback, well above a rate of between $105
000 and $115 000 that prevailed during the first week of January.
††††††††††† On the inter-bank, the dollar has been trading at $99 201,58 to
the greenback since January 24, when Gono introduced the volume-based
††††††††††† The local currency had opened the year at $82 300,35/US$1 on the
††††††††††† Experts however warn that it could crash further to end the
second quarter at between $460 000-$500 000/US$1 in the black market.
††††††††††† "The worst is yet to come. It's on a rollercoaster and it could
be worse than before," said an analyst with a local bank.
††††††††††† The real crunch, he said, would come after the tobacco proceeds
would have been used up.
††††††††††† The tobacco selling season is due to open in three weeks' time
but the government is yet to come up with a new price.
††††††††††† This week dealers were quoting the Zimbabwean dollar at anything
above $355 000 for the British pound depending on volumes while the South
African rand and Botswana pula were trading at $38 000 and $43 000 to the
††††††††††† On the inter-bank the same currencies were trading at $172 400,
$16 100, and $18 000 respectively.
††††††††††† According to the new volume-based exchange rate, volumes below
US$5 million will not trigger any change on the inter-bank rate, while
volumes within the US$5-$10 million would see the rate move by +/-1%.
††††††††††† The US$10-$15 million range will in turn see an automatic
adjustment to the exchange rate either side of 1,5% and volumes exceeding
US$15 million will be rewarded with a 2% adjustment.
††††††††††† Analysts however say the new exchange rate management system is
failing because it still represents RBZ interference in the system.
††††††††††† The system is an attempt to create a false sense of stability of
the fragile dollar.
††††††††††† Economic consultant John Robertson said the absence of
significant foreign currency inflows would further weaken the dollar on the
black market and trigger massive price increases, mostly on imported
††††††††††† He said that would push the prices of products with an imported
††††††††††† "The dollar would continue to crash further on the parallel
market and force† prices of imported goods and all local products that
depend on energy and transport up," Robertson said.
††††††††††† "The volume-based exchange rate would soon become unsustainable
and result in the over-valuation of the Zimbabwe dollar."
††††††††††† "The impact is disastrous on smaller companies with less cushion
and no external operations," said Robertson, adding:
††††††††††† "Unless something is done soon, most of these companies will
††††††††††† He said the rate at which the dollar is losing value would
continue pushing the inflation rate up.
††††††††††† "In a country where about half the population is reportedly
threatened with starvation, the increase in inflation would be felt
particularly hard as the dollar continues to slide," Robertson said.
††††††††††† The weakening of the local currency on the official market has
sparked fears that inflation will once again spiral out of control this year
as was the case in 2004.
††††††††††† The country's annual inflation for February was 782%, the
highest in the world.
††††††††††† Analysts have hinted that the local currency would crash further
during the course of the year, driven mainly by the looming food shortages.
††††††††††† By Admire Mavolwane
††††††††††† THERE has been much debate on whether or not the country has
certain fundamental and structural peculiarities such that conventional
economic theories and practices cannot be applied with any measure of
††††††††††† However, the performance of the stock market in February and
March seems to suggest that the inverse relationship between itself and the
money market also exists locally in the same way as it applies to other
††††††††††† The world over interest rates and share prices have always been
known to move in opposite directions.
††††††††††† Interest rates started firming in mid-February and have since
then remained high, with the yield on the 91-day treasury bill reaching 525%
per annum from the previous 340% per annum.
††††††††††† Investment rates have also followed suit with those for the
short-term durations rising substantially.
††††††††††† Unlike in the past short-term deposit rates are now rising in
sync with the Reserve Bank's overnight accommodation rate rather than the
91-day treasury bill yield.
††††††††††† The former is currently at 750% for secured accommodation and
780% for unsecured overnight borrowing.
††††††††††† The stock market has consequently been weaker with the
industrial index showing a negative return of 20,14% for March.
††††††††††† Investors have obviously been avoiding the stock market opting
to capitalise on the high returns being offered on the money market.
††††††††††† Although many are making hay whilst the sun is shining in the
money market they are doing so with a lot of trepidation.
††††††††††† High interest rates somehow open the now not so fresh wounds of
December 2003 when a number of financial institutions, which eventually went
under started exhibiting signs symptomatic of distress; paying above market
††††††††††† Current investor uneasiness is understandable as history has
this uncanny habit of repeating itself.
††††††††††† However, unlike in late 2003 when two camps emerged, with the
big banks which were then paying relatively low rates being regarded as safe
whilst the camp paying higher rates was deemed to be suspect, it appears
that the tables might to a certain extent have turned.
††††††††††† It would appear that the "heavies" are the ones who are now
paying higher than market average interest rates.
††††††††††† The nervousness has been compounded by the revised minimum
capital requirements effective in six months' time.
††††††††††† The balance sheet has since overtaken the income statement in
terms of importance because it may not matter anymore how much money the
bank made in December 2005 but, what is more crucial is how much the
institution would need to make in the nine months to September 30 2006 to
meet the minimum capital requirements.
††††††††††† As the graph below shows, a lot of sleep is being lost in the
sector as many executives ponder how to bridge the gap.
††††††††††† By September 30 this year commercial banks are expected to have
$1 trillion in capital and reserves, merchant banks, finance houses and
building societies have had theirs pegged at $750 billion, whilst discount
houses will need $500 billion.
††††††††††† On the same date asset management companies' balance sheets will
be expected to reflect $100 billion in shareholders' equity.
††††††††††† The revised requirements were based on the exchange rate of $100
000:US$1 which would equate to US$10 million for commercial banks, US$7,5
million for the merchant banks, finance houses and building societies whilst
discount houses and asset management† companies are pegged at US$5 million
and US$1 million respectively.
††††††††††† The US dollar levels will be maintained whilst the Zimbabwe
dollar equivalent would from time to time be adjusted depending on the
depreciation of the local currency.
††††††††††† A tentative date for any adjustment to become effective is
December 31 2006.
††††††††††† As most of the banks indicate in their board commentaries,
shareholders should be prepared to inject more capital.
††††††††††† It is worse for the likes of Kingdom and NMB which raised
capital through rights issues less than 12 months ago.
††††††††††† What makes it even more problematic for investors to fathom is
the fact that the minimum capital requirements will be a moving target as
long as the Zimbabwe dollar continues to depreciate.
††††††††††† At the moment, there is nothing to suggest that it will not.
††††††††††† Non-listed banks, at face value have an even much bigger
problem, as it is not that easy for them to raise capital.
††††††††††† With the prospect of paying a dividend being very low in the
medium term, what carrot will these banks dangle in front of potential
††††††††††† Listed entities have it relatively easier, but judging from
recent trends many may not be listed for long.
††††††††††† Recent experiences with the Kingdom and NMB rights issues show
that major shareholders follow their rights and in some instances underwrite
the capital raise.
††††††††††† The proportion held by minorities has thus been dwindling and
many of these listed banks will soon be in contravention of listing
††††††††††† If the minimum capital requirements are the local currency
equivalent of the above stated US dollar amount, then why shouldn't the
banks be allowed to raise US dollars and lodge the same with the central
bank, like in the early days of the banking system.
††††††††††† In this way, the institutions are hedged against the
depreciation of the local currency and the whole capitalisation issue
becomes a once off exercise.
††††††††††† Otherwise, most of them will be forced to raise more Zimbabwean
dollars every three or six months.
††††††††††† Another consequence of the pegging of minimum capital
requirements has been the nullification capital adequacy ratio as a guide to
a bank's soundness and quality.
††††††††††† Whilst we subscribe to the idea of following international
trends, the importance of US dollar-based capital requirements appears to be
overly harsh especially given the fact that none of the local institutions
underwrite US dollar-based transactions and are not even allowed to hold own
positions in foreign currency
††††††††††† As such, we feel that the soundness of a financial institution
should be based more on the local currency evaluated capital adequacy ratios
than on the route being taken.
††††††††††† In any case, the capital at any given point is invested in the
"most secure" asset in the country; treasury bills.
††††††††††† The real dilemma is with asset management companies.
††††††††††† At $100 billion, the capital is out of reach for most of them
and if they do raise it, where will they invest the funds?
††††††††††† This raises the issue of conflict of interest as it is likely
that own funds will dwarf all other clients and the asset management company
becomes its own biggest client.
††††††††††† For a non underwriting institution, US$1 million seems to be
††††††††††† The overall net result of the new capital requirements would be
to reduce the number of players and competition in the sector.
††††††††††† Already the likes of Kingdom and ABCH have started the process
of surrendering their discount house licenses.
††††††††††† One actually empathises with the promoters of NDH and CFX who
have been working hard to revive these institutions and, before they could
rest after the proverbial six days, they now have to put on another charm
offensive to raise even more funds.
††††††††††† Also the Reserve Bank, besides being the regulator is also a
major shareholder in almost three banking institutions, one of them being
††††††††††† So is the central bank prepared to inject more capital into
these institutions and how will it raise the funding? Food for thought!
††††††††††† Article supplied by Tetrad Group.
††††††††††† Augustine Mukaro
††††††††††† ANALYSTS have warned that government's establishment of a human
rights commission could become the state's latest move to evade the African
Commission's recommendations and conceal its rampant human rights violations
including failure to prosecute perpetrators.
††††††††††† Human rights organisations, though not dismissing government's
proposal completely, expressed scepticism over the commission saying such
institutions have often been manipulated into becoming part of government's
machinery of repression. They said establishing the commission would not
improve the situation but delay the hearing of human rights complaints in
the international arena.
††††††††††† Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace in Zimbabwe national
director Alouis Chaumba said government wants to portray an image of
compliance with international standards but without sincerity.
††††††††††† "There is no sincerity in establishing the commission since
government is the chief violator of human rights," Chaumba said. "We don't
want to end up having another Zimbabwe Electoral Commission or Media and
Information Commission (MIC) established in accordance with international
standards but turned into democracy monsters."
††††††††††† Chaumba questioned the criteria that were going to be used to
appoint the commission, to whom it would report and whether other
stakeholders would be involved.
††††††††††† "For as long as we have the patronage system of appointments in
place, the commission will be a tool readily available for government
cover-ups," he said.
††††††††††† MIC has been used to administer government's draconian laws like
the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act and the Broadcasting
Services Act, which have led to the closure of a number of newspapers. The
ZEC is still to prove its independence from government.
††††††††††† Chaumba advocated an overall constitutional reform instead of a
"partisan amendment (No 18)".
††††††††††† Human Rights Trust of Southern Africa (Sahrit) executive
director Noel Kututwa said his organisation noted with great satisfaction
the announcement of government's intention to set up a national human rights
commission but was quick to add that the commission can only be effective if
it is independent, is granted quasi-judicial powers and if it draws members
from a broad base.
††††††††††† "Sahrit notes that it has in previous cooperation with
government institutions shared its concern with these government
institutions over the absence of a Zimbabwean Human Rights Commission and
therefore we applaud government in instituting the commission," Kututwa
said. He said government must ensure that the proposed human rights
commission is effective and established in accordance with the principles
relating to the Status and Functioning of National Institutions for the
Protection and Promotion of Human Rights, popularly known as the Paris
††††††††††† "Sahrit enjoins government to ensure the following principles:
independence and impartiality; sufficiently clear and broad constitutional
and legislative basis for full functionality; diversity of membership of the
commission; credible procedures for the appointment and removal of members;
an independent budget that meets the needs of the commission; and a wide
mandate to deal with all human rights issues in Zimbabwe," he said.
††††††††††† The National Constitutional Assembly described the proposed
commission as yet another reflection of government's piece-meal, tokenist
and undemocratic approach to Zimbabwe's urgent and dire need for a
people-driven constitutional reform.
††††††††††† "Although a human rights commission is urgently required in
Zimbabwe, to introduce it in the form of an 18th patch on Zimbabwe's
tattered, torn, and shabby constitution, is in itself a mockery of the noble
concept of human rights protection," NCA spokesperson Jessie Majome said in
a statement. She said to establish a commission under the current
constitution would be a futile exercise.
††††††††††† "What use will the commission be when the declaration of rights
in the same constitution is so narrow and shallow as to give rights with the
left hand and claw them back with the right hand - hence the flourishing of
fascist laws such as the notorious Posa and Aippa?" Majome said.
††††††††††† She questioned how effective the commission could be when the
provisions of the same constitution subordinate human rights to executive
powers. Majome said the commission would not improve the situation but delay
presentation of human rights complaints to international fora.
††††††††††† Government promulgation of the human rights commission comes as
the African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights (ACHPR) prepares to hear
four cases submitted by Zimbabwean civil organisations against the
government over the continued decline in the rule of law, ousting of the
jurisdiction of the courts, violation of collective and individual rights
and the suppression of fundamental rights and liberties.
††††††††††† During the 38th Ordinary Session in Banjul, Gambia last
December, ACHPR resolved to urge government to implement the recommendations
of the commission's fact-finding mission of June 2002, as well as the
recommendations contained in the report by the United Nations Special Envoy
on Human Settlement Issues of July 2005, and to repeal or amend
Constitutional Amendment No 17 and provide an environment conducive to
constitutional reform on the basis of fundamental human rights.
††††††††††† The commission declared admissible the cases of the Associated
Newspapers of Zimbabwe challenging the Supreme Court's application of the
"dirty hands" doctrine in constitutional and human rights-related matters
and its impact of the right to protection of the law under the African
Charter. It will hear arguments on electoral petitions, highlighting the
inordinate delays in resolving election-related disputes from the 2000
parliamentary election and its implication for the independence of the
judiciary and protection of the law.
††††††††††† Also before the commission is a case on the alleged infringement
of free practice of journalism and the deportation of independent
journalists in defiance of court orders as inimical to the free practice of
the profession of journalism as well as denial of protection of the law. It
will also hear challenges to Aippa in respect of free practice of journalism
and compulsory registration of media houses by the government.
††††††††††† The African Commission ruled on four separate occasions that
communications submitted by ZLHR were admissible implying that in those four
cases there were no effective domestic remedies for the rights violations
††††††††††† Analysts say such decisions are an indictment of the judiciary
as well as an unequivocal and significant indicator that the judiciary and
the justice delivery system in Zimbabwe no longer guarantee the enjoyment of
universally recognised human rights and fundamental freedoms.
††††††††††† This also further demonstrates the absence of the protection of
the law for victims of human rights violations and gives credence to the
allegations that there exists a practice of state-sponsored impunity in
††††††††††† The commission expressed concern over the continued decline in
the rule of law characterised by defiance of court orders, ousting of the
jurisdiction of the courts through constitutional amendments - in particular
Amendment No 17, the violation of collective and individual rights through
forced evictions, and the suppression of fundamental rights and liberties
through laws such as Aippa, Posa and the Broadcasting Services Act.
††††††††††† These recommendations have not been implemented. The Law and
Order unit of the CID which the commission recommended should be disbanded
remains under political instructions with some opposition MPs and activists
alleging that they have been tortured and suffered degrading punishments by
††††††††††† Analysts said the situation in respect of the judiciary seems to
††††††††††† "Since January 2005, the superior courts have reinforced the
perception that they lack independence and impartiality and are unable to
deliver justice," an analyst said, adding that: "Where judicial officers
have attempted to give effect to the rights of victims, court orders have
been ignored or intentionally disregarded.
††††††††††† "In the most serious affront to the principle of separation of
powers and the rule of law, the state has gone on to oust completely the
jurisdiction of the courts to deal with certain categories of cases."
††††††††††† By Denford Magora
††††††††††† THE Zanu PF government expects the world to applaud it for
sending wolves to herd sheep. This is the closest analogy one can give for
the setting up of a Human Rights Commission by this discredited government.
††††††††††† Nobody, except the state media, took the announcement seriously.
††††††††††† There are very good reasons for this.
††††††††††† This is the same government that has ignored such basic human
rights as the right to shelter, enshrined in the UN Human Rights Charter to
which our government assented with fingers crossed behind its back.
††††††††††† This is only one area in which the government has not only
ignored a basic human right but has also gone out of its way to deny the
people of Zimbabwe the same.
††††††††††† Here, I am not even thinking about Operation Murambatsvina.
††††††††††† I am instead talking about the complete lack of interest in the
housing needs of people displayed by Local Government minister Ignatious
Chombo and his cohorts.
††††††††††† True, now and again, even this most inefficient minister in our
government feels some shame and tours "Blair Toilet Houses" masquerading as
Operation Garikai "homes".
††††††††††† A picture of one substandard house is flashed across TV screens
and newspaper front pages and the minister thinks he has done enough to fool
††††††††††† There are other examples: such as the fact that to this day,
policemen believe that the uniform they wear gives them the right to beat up
citizens, despite Police Commissioner Augustine Chihuri's impassioned pleas
for them to conduct themselves professionally and respect the rights of
prisoners and those that they have arrested.
††††††††††† Now, even Chombo's municipal police believe that their tattered
blue uniforms give them the right to assault citizens in broad daylight in
the middle of the Harare city centre.
††††††††††† Of course, we won't even talk about other rights such as freedom
of movement, which is currently being assaulted at one roadblock after
another while criminals have a field day breaking into homes and raping
††††††††††† The freedom to freely assemble was curtailed in a calculated
legislative sleight of hand known as Posa and Aippa.
††††††††††† There is also the right to such basic things as food, where
Agriculture minister Joseph Made has made a hash of things.
††††††††††† This year, Zimbabweans face yet another food shortage because
this minister is patted on the back each time he messes up.
††††††††††† At the next cabinet reshuffle - if there ever is going to be
one - I bet he will be elevated to a "senior minister" in charge of the
destruction of food security, while his equally clueless counterpart at
Local Government will also receive another promotion as thanks for a job
well-done in demolishing Zimbabwean civilisation.
††††††††††† In fact, it would be difficult to find a human right that Zanu
PF has not butchered in recent memory. And this is the party that now wants
to set up a Human Rights Watchdog?
††††††††††† You will certainly be excused for laughing.
††††††††††† But hold your mirth a moment.
††††††††††† This body will no doubt be staffed by people who have no record
of campaigning for human rights.
††††††††††† It will instead be staffed by former military personnel, Zanu PF
functionaries and other cast-offs from society whose sole mandate will be to
furnish plush offices, buy expensive four-wheel drive vehicles and draw huge
salaries and expenses.
††††††††††† All this will be funded by a taxpayer who is currently reeling
under the burden of the most irksome tax regime in the world - perhaps
second only to Israel.
††††††††††† The extent of the new body's involvement in human rights issues
will no doubt be the granting of interviews to the state media in which we
will be told just how wonderfully our rights are protected.
††††††††††† We will be reminded about former Rhodesian premier Ian Smith and
††††††††††† Imperialists will be mentioned.
††††††††††† A "uni-polar" world, also. And, if we are very lucky, we will
also get lengthy articles from dubious "professors" on how the West is using
human rights to advance a nefarious agenda which is bent on world
††††††††††† All this will mean nothing to you and I.
††††††††††† But it will be extremely satisfying to a government that has
chosen to constantly engage in intellectual prostitution, pleasing only
itself with its own self-indulgent acts, obviously paid for by the people
currently squirming under its thumb.
††††††††††† I for one have already taken a $5 million bet with a friend that
the new body will contain not one person known to have voiced misgivings
about the state of human rights in Zimbabwe.
††††††††††† Specifically and just as an example, I will have to pay out the
$5 million if Reginald Matchaba-Hove, that tireless veteran campaigner,
features anywhere in this commission.
††††††††††† Or if Beatrice Mtetwa is offered a job there even as a tea-lady!
I certainly have no fear of losing the bet, I can tell you!
††††††††††† I think that people have now realised how Zanu PF works:
††††††††††† it seeks to promote theory above practice, saying one thing
while doing the opposite, talking of freedom while oppressing people,
talking of tightening belts while it loosens its own, talking of a fairer
world at UN summits while practising nepotism, favouritism and opportunism
back home, talking about equitable distribution of wealth while hoarding
farms, fuel, Zupco double-cab cars and even Operation Garikai "homes",
preaching virtues while engaging in unbridled vice.
††††††††††† In a word, this is called insincerity and it is the bane of our
nation, one that will never leave us as long as this party remains in
government because no one is taken to task or made to account for their
action in the Zimbabwe government.
††††††††††† In other words, this is a government that is not governing, a
government and a country that has no leader because a national leader
protects the interests of the nation, not the interests of a clique within a
††††††††††† This human rights body is yet another structure erected by a
government that is playing house (mahumbwe). The people of Zimbabwe know
††††††††††† The world knows this.
††††††††††† The government knows this. But, just like the children who play
house, our government thinks that when it closes its eyes, no one can see it
because it cannot see anyone itself.
††††††††††† Denford Magora is a Harare-based marketing executive.
††††††††††† By Alex Magaisa
††††††††††† ONE of the key rallying points of the current struggle is the
campaign for a new constitution.
††††††††††† It is widely believed that the current patchwork that we call a
constitution is fundamentally flawed and therefore requires urgent reform.
††††††††††† This idea of the campaign is correct and commendable.
††††††††††† My concern however, is that it targets a change of the set of
rules under which the country is governed without placing similar emphasis
on the culture and norms that define the attitude and conduct of individuals
between themselves, organisations and the state.
††††††††††† It is a note of caution suggesting that the success of a new
constitutional order depends not necessarily on the beauty of the new legal
rules that are established but on the behaviour, norms and socio-political
culture in the society.
††††††††††† Without the constitutional culture the spirit of
constitutionalism cannot be sustained.
††††††††††† The growth of this culture starts at the very basic unit of
society to the highest organs of the state.
††††††††††† To that end, the family, the village, neighbourhood, local
community, civil society organisations, political and non-political
organisations, commercial and non-commercial organisations all have a role
in cultivating this constitutional culture, which supports
††††††††††† It is not mere adherence to rules that matter, but whether those
rules encapsulate the values of a given society lived and experienced by the
††††††††††† This bundle of factors determining whether or not there is a
suitable constitutional culture is what leading scholars have called "social
††††††††††† Instead of expecting the constitution to save people from
misery, it is the people who have an obligation to save the constitution
††††††††††† The current approach assumes in part that the constitution can
work as a tool of social engineering, that is, as an instrument of changing
the political culture and conduct of the leadership towards the citizens and
††††††††††† It is argued that a key fault in the current constitution is
that it centralises power in the executive arm of government.
††††††††††† However, it also assumes that if a new constitution is
promulgated the political leadership will have the right attitude and
inclination to conduct themselves in ways that further the goals of the
††††††††††† This assumption is inaccurate.
††††††††††† It also assumes that the citizens will have the desire, capacity
and resources to serve and defend the constitution.
††††††††††† A new constitution does not equate to a new constitutional
††††††††††† Indeed a constitutional culture is not automatically and
instantly triggered by the emergence of a beautifully crafted constitution.
††††††††††† Developing social capital to grow the constitutional culture is
a long-term issue and it is often unattractive to politicians seeking
immediate political power.
††††††††††† It is also a remote incentive for people who are struggling to
get by under very difficult socio-economic conditions. Politicians tend to
focus on the tangible document - the constitution.
††††††††††† But we must also talk about these unpopular, less eye-catching
issues and place them in the marketplace of ideas for people to define their
agenda for change.
††††††††††† But how then can the requisite constitutional culture be
††††††††††† The key thing is that it is an organic process, which simply
needs to be nurtured and encouraged.
††††††††††† The constitution is a testament of the values cherished and
protected by a society over a period of time.
††††††††††† It is therefore important to have a good appreciation of the
constitutional history of the nation.
††††††††††† This history is vital because it shows us the values that have
been cherished and advanced at each stage of development and therefore
shapes the future direction.
††††††††††† Constitutional culture is at the same time local and
international - local in that it grows out of the needs and experiences of
the Zimbabwean people and global in that there are common threads that can
be identified in all societies across the world based on the idea that at
the centre of all political struggles is the desire for human dignity and
††††††††††† In essence therefore, the creation of a constitution is part of
the political struggle. If it is correct that constitutions are products of
political struggle, there are three key points that follow from this
†††††††††††† First, every constitution ought to reflect the values, ideals
and goals of the society engaged in political struggle. A constitution is
therefore likely to be unique depending on the experiences of that
††††††††††† The key here is for society to identify and entrench its values
in the constitution - in other words, the values that the constitution
protects cannot be prescribed from outside and cannot be divorced from the
values of the living communities.
††††††††††† The values to which a society aspires define the conduct and
attitudes of individuals that is essential for cultivating the
††††††††††† Close observation shows that Americans always refer to their
values, as do the British, the French or other societies that have had long
recorded constitutional histories.
††††††††††† Our values do not have to equate to those of any other country,
but they must be defined nonetheless;
††††††††††† Second, because it is part of the political struggle,
constitution- making is necessarily an on-going process.
††††††††††† My concern is that the current approach seems to have given the
impression that the creation of a new constitution is an achievement that
will guarantee good governance and everyone will live happily ever after.
††††††††††† The reality is that constitution- making will not stop on the
day a new document replaces the current one. It is worth remembering in the
history of modern Zimbabwe that there have been several episodes when the
constitution has been changed.
††††††††††† It is easy to forget that the pre-colonial societies had their
own constitutional arrangements as did the colonial society afterwards.
††††††††††† Constitutional historians therefore have a key role to play in
the constitution-making process.
††††††††††† In essence, citizens must be prepared that constitutional
struggles will continue, albeit in different forms over the course of time;
††††††††††† Third, by virtue of it being a political struggle, there will
inevitably be victors and losers at every stage.
††††††††††† The losers at every stage will continue to seek change.
††††††††††† But winners at one stage may become losers at another point
depending on the changes in societal values influencing interpretation of
††††††††††† Values and goals also change over time and with that rights are
either gained or lost.
††††††††††† Historically disadvantaged people such as gays, women, black
people and ethnic minorities have at different times in the course of
history gained rights as societal values in different places changed.
††††††††††† But it is not the constitution that changed the values - the
changes in those values most likely helped to transform society's views and
therefore political and legal interpretations of already existing rights.
††††††††††† Civil society organisations, political parties and all
organisational units need to engender the constitutional culture at local
and national levels.
††††††††††† Indeed, at the very basic unit of society - the family - that is
where values emerge and we have to start from there in developing the
culture that supports constitutionalism.
††††††††††† One cannot emerge from a family unit in which he/she tramples
the values that he/she wishes to preach at the national level.
††††††††††† The children's behaviour, attitude and conduct are defined at
the family and local level. They grow up to become leaders in society and
their conduct is shaped by the values they learn from an early age.
††††††††††† If one grew up knowing that nothing can be obtained without
paying a bribe or taking unfair advantage of another person, how can he be
expected to act differently when he assumes a position of power?
††††††††††† Individuals and organisations that govern in traditional and
modern institutions need to cultivate the culture of tolerance, free-speech,
fairness, competition among other values.
††††††††††† Civil society leaders have to start the process internally in
order to make an impact when they preach the word of the constitution and
††††††††††† Similarly, the leadership of political parties fighting for
democracy has to realise that its conduct and attitude toward rules,
political institutions and other people is as important as the document that
it continually talks about.
††††††††††† How they respond to dissent, competition and diversity and how
we deal with minorities or those that disagree is part of the process of
building that culture.
††††††††††† I hazard to add that for all its weaknesses, the current
constitution is not exactly the primary problem.
††††††††††† Rather, it is the conduct and behaviour of the incumbent
leadership, indeed any leadership that behaves similarly, that is at fault.
††††††††††† And this deplorable conduct occurs with or without the presence
††††††††††† The constitution has simply been a tool to legitimise actions
but has not necessarily been the main driver of the actions of the
††††††††††† Experience shows that conduct that is patently unconstitutional
has been permitted over the years - even in the face of clear constitutional
††††††††††† So rules in themselves are not the problem.
††††††††††† A good example of the irrelevance of rules in this context is in
relation to the judiciary.
††††††††††† The leadership could violate the constitution and yet the
judiciary fails to do anything about it regardless of the presence of
constitutional powers and obligations to safeguard the constitution.
††††††††††† We must recall that even the much-criticised judiciary has
always acted under the current constitution and at one point was one of the
best regarded in the Commonwealth.
††††††††††† The constitutional rules have not changed in any fundamental
way - but the conduct and attitude of political actors towards the judiciary
has changed most probably causing the judiciary to change as well by
retreating to the margins.
††††††††††† The rules have not changed but the values, character, ideals and
conduct of the principal actors have changed.
††††††††††† We can have a constitution with all the best safeguards, a
constitution with the most beautiful clauses but if the men and women who
exercise power and make decisions have no will to change their conduct
because they subscribe to different values, then that constitution will
††††††††††† I must end by acknowledging the efforts of the various groups,
both political and non-political, that have played roles in raising
awareness about the constitution.
††††††††††† Certainly, more people know about the constitution in 2006 than
they did in 1996.
††††††††††† However, a lot more needs to be done to promote constitutional
literacy as part of cultivating the constitutional culture.
††††††††††† From primary school, children have to know about the
constitution and its importance in the governance of the country.
††††††††††† When we talk about a new Zimbabwe we often restrict our vision
to an escape from the current malaise. In reality, a new Zimbabwe will
emerge over a long period of time.
††††††††††† It may never be realised in our lifetime but let us look ahead
20 or more years and hope that generations to come will look back and
acknowledge that a firm foundation was laid for them.
††††††††††† The idea of constitutional culture demonstrates that the
struggle for constitutional change is not and must never be the exclusive
preserve of lawyers endowed with drafting and advocacy skills.
††††††††††† It requires us to tap from other disciplines, which best capture
the values and the softer aspects that define the conduct and behaviour of
people in relation to each other and institutions.
††††††††††† It also involves calling upon ideas and wisdom from both
traditional and modern institutions at local and national levels.
††††††††††† It requires every individual to participate at the most basic
level because the people themselves are the constitution for the
constitution is no less than living practice - not just a set of carefully
crafted words on a document stored somewhere in the official cabinets.
††††††††††† The law alone will not change the situation - we have to look
beyond the law in building and nurturing the requisite constitutional
††††††††††† Dr Magaisa is a lawyer and can be contacted at
††††††††††† By Rusununguko Sadza
††††††††††† OUR beautiful country continues to slide into a bottomless pit,
its future being eroded by a few who are in control of the apparatus of the
state and their willing stooges.
††††††††††† The system of oppression and deprivation obtaining in our
country today is sustained by human beings like you and me, who must one day
be called to account as individuals.
††††††††††† The enemies of Zimbabwe's future must be exposed and face the
††††††††††† We know the state as an organised unit is too strong for us to
††††††††††† Street action and stayaways have been tried but met with the
brutality of the enemies of liberty.
††††††††††† Yet the people who are standing against our freedom and liberty
††††††††††† They have nowhere to hide, except our fear of them, which they
have sustained. They humiliate us in bars, at the markets, on the streets
and in our houses.
††††††††††† The poverty, joblessness, lack of social and economic security
which they have induced have been the biggest assault on humanity.
††††††††††† We know where they stay and work, their businesses, children and
††††††††††† We know they sleep at night.
††††††††††† We know there is a moment of the day when they need to eat or
††††††††††† We know there is a time when they, as individuals, can be
vulnerable. We call on all freedom lovers, wherever they are, to extinguish
these threats to our collective humanity.
††††††††††† Their arrogance must be undermined.
††††††††††† By making them insecure as individuals, we are expanding the
very frontiers of our liberty.
††††††††††† We are underlining that Zimbabwe will never again be a nation
where individuals can inflict such suffering as we have been forced to
††††††††††† Instead of financing the butchering of our women as they call
for their rights; instead of jailing our activists; instead of harassing our
leaders; the regime must commit itself to guarding its children at home and
in foreign lands.
††††††††††† Those who defend the regime in whatever form must be warned that
there will not be any excuses for their continued relationship with a
††††††††††† They should not stand in the way of their freedom.
††††††††††† As we commit ourselves to non- violence, we underline that it is
not an act of violence for a people confronted with violence to defend
††††††††††† We are not a violent people, we are the most tolerant of people,
but this tolerance is what has brought us to where we are today.
††††††††††† THERE is an egotistic war of words between the government and
Zesa on one side and the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe on the other over tariff
††††††††††† Central Bank governor Gideon Gono is opposed to steep tariff
hikes saying they will be inflationary while Zesa wants to effect hefty
increments to cushion the parastatal from the high cost of generation and
distribution of electricity.
††††††††††† Since the beginning of the year, letters have been flying to and
fro between the protagonists, each trying to justify their standpoint.
††††††††††† It is a power game enacted by public officials whose egos appear
to blind them to the real issue at stake, which is that the country is in a
††††††††††† Raising tariffs steeply or suppressing the rate of increase is
only addressing the symptoms of a crisis that has been left to get out of
hand by a government clutching at straws to extract support from an
increasingly impoverished populace.
††††††††††† We sense in the correspondence flying between the central bank,
Zesa and government an unwillingness by the parties to break the impasse and
††††††††††† This is not the first time we have seen public officials
grappling among themselves in a pretentious bid to appear to be addressing a
††††††††††† The central bank has tried to impose various measures on
industry to curb the foreign currency black market and ensure the resource
is traded in the formal economy.
††††††††††† It introduced the ill-fated Homelink system, it has fought and
is still fighting with exporters over forex retention thresholds, and it has
put in place myriad controls to ensure the currency does not continue to
††††††††††† The currency is still losing value by the day, the black market
is still flourishing and forex receipts are still too insufficient to
††††††††††† Inflation is still heading north and is soon expected to reach 1
000% - if it hasn't already. This is part of the problem requiring urgent
††††††††††† There is no political will to address the supply side of foreign
currency by putting in place policies which ensure that Zimbabwe gets
balance-of-payments support while at the same time creating a conducive
environment for investment and expansion of industry and the resuscitation
††††††††††† The same feverish activity has been witnessed in the fuel sector
where marketers have battled over prices of a commodity that is not
††††††††††† Taskforces and think-tanks were formed to deal with pricing and
distribution but this came to nought because the supply side was not
††††††††††† The same exercise in futility has today taken Zimbabwe to the
depths of absurdity by trying to extract fuel from jatropha trees.
††††††††††† It is definitely easier to import petrol and diesel than to
squeeze it from plants, common sense denotes.
††††††††††† The fight over tariffs falls in the same realm of energy being
expended to achieve temporary results. Industrial and domestic consumers of
electricity are today prepared to pay reasonable tariffs as long as they are
guaranteed uninterrupted supply.
††††††††††† Electricity supply is not going to improve immediately because
of a new tariff regime. Zimbabwe needs to revamp the energy sector to
attract significant investment in hard currency to refurbish Hwange and
Kariba power stations.
††††††††††† A deal was signed with the Iranians last year to overhaul Kariba
but Zimbabwe has not met its side of the bargain, US$30 million in all,
because the money is not there.
††††††††††† There is also no money for the greenfield Batoka Gorge project.
††††††††††† The cold season is nigh and farmers will in the next four weeks
be watering fields of winter wheat.
††††††††††† Inevitably electricity demand will increase exponentially.
††††††††††† It should be borne in mind that Zesa is failing to supply power
to industry that is operating at barely above 40% of maximum capacity.
††††††††††† The cold season and demand from farmers will expose the folly of
the current fight.
††††††††††† There is no obvious plan in place to improve power imports or to
††††††††††† There will be more frequent power outages and the same pugilists
will still be blaming each other for the crisis - all in pursuit of the
title of "saviour of Zesa".
††††††††††† They are not saviours and their record of failure is
all-too-apparent to be missed.
††††††††††† The unbundled Zesa has created a behemoth which cannot fend for
itself and Gono cannot ascribe the 782% inflation to power tariff hikes.
††††††††††† Is anyone looking at the bigger picture?
††††††††††† Editor's Memo
††††††††††† Vincent Kahiya
††††††††††† I'VE been wondering why President Mugabe has not taken aim at
MDC pro-senate leader Professor Arthur Mutambara.
††††††††††† The rocket scientist does not appear to be on the menu for
Mugabe's consumption, perhaps because our octogenarian leader does not
regard him as a serious threat and therefore sees it as a waste of time to
expend energy on him.
††††††††††† Either that or the president feels that he would rather
concentrate his fight on a familiar front - Morgan Tsvangirai.
††††††††††† When Mugabe last Friday started to spew out expletives at the
Heroes' Acre, attacking the opposition, I thought Mutambara would not be
††††††††††† Tsvangirai who got the thick end of the stick from Mugabe was
the target because of his call for jambanja against the regime.
††††††††††† Mutambara has also called for a confrontation with Mugabe.
††††††††††† Tsvangirai at his faction's congress called for a "cold season
of peaceful democratic resistance" and a "short, sharp, programme of action
to free ourselves" from Mugabe's government while Mutambara told a press
††††††††††† "We are putting Robert Mugabe and his regime on notice. We are
going to fight you tooth, nail and claw. We will use all tools of the
struggle at our disposal, including jambanja."
††††††††††† But Mugabe usually takes time to warm up to challenges from
nascent opposition politicians. Is his silence about UPP and UPM not
††††††††††† Last Friday he decided not to deal with the Mutambara threat
opting for Tsvangirai and his colleagues whom he called a mazengezeza,
according to the Herald, but I heard mazunguzurwa (literally, tadpoles, and
a very rude word if you ask me) and threatened him if he tried to unseat the
††††††††††† "We hear others say we want to go into the streets to
demonstrate, to unseat a legitimately elected government. It will never
happen and we will never allow it.
††††††††††† "If a person now wants to invite his own death, let him go
ahead," Mugabe warned in his Shona remarks.
††††††††††† We are all very familiar with Mugabe's "degrees in violence" and
calls to "strike fear into the hearts of the white men, our real enemies".
††††††††††† Therefore his attack on Tsvangirai was not a lightning bolt from
††††††††††† Here is a leader whose government has promulgated laws to shield
him from scorn by commoners but is quick to shout abuse at opponents in
††††††††††† Away from the hate speech debate which Mugabe can win any day,
his clerical ally Nolbert Kunonga could conclude that Mutambara "is a dog
barking at an elephant" and therefore just vexatious and no real threat.
††††††††††† Talking about the professor would simply lift him to echelons of
††††††††††† There is another theory.
††††††††††† There could be method in Mugabe's ranting against Tsvangirai and
deafening silence against Mutambara.
††††††††††† When dealing with political opponents, Mugabe is usually careful
to put his best foot forward.
††††††††††† This economy would have been on a much better keel if he used
the same deftness when leading the charge towards economic recovery.
††††††††††† Mutambara could be allowed to go through his rebuilding process
with only minor obstacles thrown in his path while walls of Jericho are
erected along Tsvangirai's path.
††††††††††† This would have the effect of strengthening Mutambara to a level
of parity with Tsvangirai.
††††††††††† Then bingo for Bob! The sum of two "strong factions" is a weak
and fractious opposition.
††††††††††† If Mutambara had joined a united opposition party, he would have
definitely been a target of presidential scorn. He could be safe from
President Mugabe's diatribes but in the simple psychology of an opposition
supporter, the one being most persecuted by Zanu PF is likely to have a
larger crowd behind him.
††††††††††† The recent rallies held by both factions could be telling.
††††††††††† I wrote in this column last month about the danger of Mutambara
receiving kudos from Zanu PF or worse still, not being looked at critically
by President Mugabe and his handlers.
††††††††††† For opposition politicians, there is value in being attacked by
Bob even when he calls you a tadpole.
††††††††††† What's all that croaking about, I wonder, and when is Mugabe
going to sound like a statesman rather than a bitter faction leader?
††††††††††† Obduracy destroys economy
††††††††††† By Eric Bloch
††††††††††† SAVE for the government itself, there are undoubtedly very few
naÔve enough to believe that government is incapable of fault.
†††††††††††† Most believe that the government is imbued with an endless
array of faults, and that belief is regrettably very well founded.
††††††††††† However, among the greatest of those faults must be the total
inability of those who govern Zimbabwe to recognise error, and their failure
to try to avoid repetition of error.
††††††††††† And one of the foremost errors that the government repeatedly
makes is to resort to counterproductive, authoritarian dictates which
critically impair the economy, and thereby subject the populace to
intensifying, horrendous hardships.
††††††††††† The ironic and tragic characteristic of the government doing so
is that it recurrently attributes its recourse to those destructive actions
as being motivated to minimise the hardships confronting the Zimbabwean
people, to protect them, and to ensure their well-being, whereas in reality
the reverse is the case.
††††††††††† The government needs to recognise that excessive regulation,
tantamount to dictatorial rule, is not only oppressive but more often than
not does not only not achieve the declared objective but, in fact, worsens
the lot of those that the government alleges that it seeks to protect.
††††††††††† There are innumerable examples that can be cited.
††††††††††† Zimbabwe embarked upon a programme of land reform that was
intended to ensure black economic empowerment in agriculture and to procure
increased agricultural production, assuring food security for the country
and the region.
††††††††††† However, after eight years, virtually all that has been achieved
is that 300 000 farm workers have been rendered unemployed, resulting in
destitution for them and their families.
††††††††††† Over one million have been rendered poverty-stricken!
Concurrently, a country that previously had food security now produces half,
or less, of its needs, and foreign exchange generation from agricultural
exports has fallen catastrophically.
††††††††††† Moreover, through the injustices applied in implementing the
land reform programme, much of the international community has been
alienated, and foreign direct investment discouraged.
††††††††††† Had, in the alternative, the government progressed land reform
non-confrontationally, cooperatively with the pre-land reform farmers, and
with the international community, instead of domineeringly, arrogantly and
despotically, the land reform programme could have been a great success.
††††††††††† The government had agreed to do so at the 1998 Harare Donor
Conference, and again at Abuja in 2001, but reneged on its agreements,
spuriously alleging that the other parties to those agreements had reneged
††††††††††† A pronounced example of the negative consequences of state
authoritarianism has been the frequent impositions of price controls.
††††††††††† On each occasion, the alleged justification was to protect
consumers from exploitation and profiteering on the part of commerce and
industry, instead of recognising that the only effective ways of curbing
price increases are by ensuring that supply exceeds demand, thereby
prompting competitiveness, and by facilitating increased productivity,
thereby minimising production costs.
††††††††††† Instead, the government has invariably resorted to heavy-handed
price controls, which were welcomed by consumer representative bodies and by
consumers, but which placed the survival of businesses at risk.
††††††††††† Products became scarce, which fuelled inflationary black-market
operations, businesses sustained losses, necessitating their reducing
numbers of employed and constraining spending in the downstream†† economy,
and the price controls did naught but to worsen the distressed economic
††††††††††† Although price controls have consistently failed to achieve the
declared objectives of the government, nevertheless the government endlessly
resorts to them, responsive to demands from consumers, and anxious to be
perceived by the populace as a caring government.
††††††††††† Yet another example of disastrous regulation was when, in
mid-2005, Education, Sport and Culture minister Aeneas Chigwedere, exceeding
his powers in law, imposed draconian constraints upon the operations of
independent schools, with special emphasis upon restricting fee increases.
††††††††††† Not only did he place the continuance of operations of some of
the schools in great jeopardy, to the immense prejudice to the education of
many Zimbabwean scholars, but there were also massive harmful economic
††††††††††† Hundreds, if not thousands, of parents became deeply concerned
as to whether standards of education would decline, and they decided to
depart Zimbabwe, in order that their children's access to good education
could be assured.
††††††††††† An already massive "brain drain" was radically exacerbated,
depriving the Zimbabwean economy of desperately needed skills, and thereby
greatly worsening the very emaciated and distressed economy.
††††††††††† But the government has demonstrated a complete inability to
learn from its mistakes, and therefore keeps repeating them.
††††††††††† The most recent such occurrence was last week when Health and
Child Welfare minister David Parirenyatwa invoked the Medical Services Act
of 1998, ordering private doctors, clinics and hospitals "to temporarily
suspend fee increases" pending a committee appointed by the ministry
completing a detailed evaluation.
††††††††††† Although the minister said that is was not the government's
intention to control fees, he also said that it was his role to supervise
both private ad public health sectors, and that there were "no sacred cows".
††††††††††† There can be little or no purpose in suspending fee increases,
even only temporarily, while an evaluation is carried out, unless it is
contemplated that thereafter certain or all charges are to be controlled,
for what otherwise is the purpose of the suspension and the evaluation?
††††††††††† Therefore, despite his assurances to the contrary, one must
ponder whether the minister is not actually contemplating imposing certain
††††††††††† The minister's concern for the inability of many to access
requisite healthcare, due to rising costs, is very commendable.
††††††††††† But resorting to actions that can result in healthcare not being
available is pointless in the extreme, and not in the interests of the
††††††††††† And imposing constraints upon fees and charges will very greatly
reduce healthcare availability.
††††††††††† Zimbabwe has witnessed an appallingly extensive amount of
emigration by doctors, radiologists, physiotherapists, dentists,
optometrists, psychologists, nurses and other healthcare providers in recent
years due to the depressed economy, concerns as to the availability of
quality education and as to the political environment.
††††††††††† If their livelihoods are now to be controlled and impacted upon,
even more will leave, and those in need of health services will be unable to
obtain them, irrespective of whether or not they have funding to pay for
††††††††††† The minister's freeze on fees and charges followed agreement
between healthcare providers and medical aid societies for fees increases of
between 76 and 96%, with effect from April 1, 2006.
††††††††††† Such increases are well below many of the cost increases
sustained by healthcare providers, who use drugs, medications and other
health requisites which increased in cost (according to the Central
Statistical Office) by over 950% in the year to February 2006, and who use
transportation whose costs have risen by over 1 000%.
††††††††††† They pay rents which, in the month of February, rose by 151,4%
(and, in the year to February, by almost 2 084%!).
††††††††††† They incur telecommunication costs which rose by 282% in the two
months of January and February 2006. And almost all other costs sustained by
them will also have increased considerably.
††††††††††† If their incomes do not rise, they cannot meet their increased
costs, and generate an acceptable livelihood, so they will depart Zimbabwe
to more conducive environments.
††††††††††† Far from protecting those in need of healthcare, the minister is
jeopardising them, and he should urgently reverse his stance.
††††††††††† The private healthcare sector is essential, for the public
sector cannot meet national needs. It is understaffed, under-equipped,
under-funded, with evermore deterioration in service delivery.
††††††††††† COUPLE of photos in the Herald caught our eye. First there was a
picture of visiting Equatorial Guinea president Teodoro Obiang Nguema at the
Victoria Falls. The Herald captioned their pic of Obiang in dark glasses as
"Natural Wonder" although, on reflection, this could have referred to the
††††††††††† Couldn't the Guinean leader have removed the shades for just a
few seconds? Does he want us to mistake him for one of the late Papa Doc
Duvalier's tonton macoutes?
††††††††††† It must be said in all the reports we have read of Equatorial
Guinea, it does seem a bit like Haiti on a bad day.
††††††††††† Firstly it is as hot as hell. Tropical, dank and unforgiving.
Secondly it is one of Africa's most repressive states. The present leader
came to power by overthrowing his uncle, we gather, who subsequently died in
††††††††††† The country is a police state where every wall has ears. The
government was accused of rigging elections for the presidency in 1996 and
the legislature in 1999.
††††††††††† The other pic which caught our eye was that of the two
presidents receiving garlands from young girls at the airport. The two
leaders looked uncannily similar. Do you think for one minute any of those
well-wishers at the airport had heard of Equatorial Guinea? And will Obiang
cough up any oil?
††††††††††† We somehow doubt it. As we found out with Libya and Iran,
solidarity has its limits. Unless President Mugabe can show Obiang the
colour of his money there is unlikely to be any black gold flowing his way.
††††††††††† In any case, nearly all the big oil companies operating in
Equatorial Guinea are American. There are weekly flights from Malabo to
††††††††††† Needless to say, ZTV gave the state visit lavish coverage, only
too thankful to have a visitor of any sort. But somebody should tell Reuben
Barwe and the Herald that the "mercenaries" intercepted in Harare were not
convicted of trying to stage a coup against the Obiang regime. The state
could only manage charges of violating the Aviation and Immigration Acts!
††††††††††† Obiang said the visit would provide him with an opportunity to
see "the great efforts you are putting into raising the standards of living
of your people".
††††††††††† Evidently he didn't take his shades off at any point!
††††††††††† He toured the Zanu PF headquarters, we are told, another wonder
of the ancient world. And he saw some other crocodiles at the Vic Falls.
††††††††††† Talking of crocodiles, the latest joke going around town is: if
approached at your gate by carjackers, for goodness sake show them your MDC
††††††††††† Delusional thinking continues in the tourism sector which
suffered a 49% decline last year. Zimbabwe Tourism Authority chair Emmanuel
Fundira attributed the decline to negative publicity from the Western press.
But he felt things would pick up this year.
††††††††††† "We had a host of problems during the year under review which
include a hyperinflationary environment, weak economy, fuel shortages and
bad publicity," he revealed.
††††††††††† The erosion of disposable incomes had also had an impact, he
said. But with the "conclusion of the land reform" and "improvement of
relationships with traditional source markets", he expected to see an
improvement in the sector's fortunes.
††††††††††† Did he not hear the president's remarks about whites and about
Tony Blair and George Bush at Winston Changara's burial? What improvement
does he expect with those traditional source markets?
††††††††††† And at what point was the land reform programme "concluded"?
Inflation has presumably come tumbling down has it, and the economy is no
††††††††††† Where do they find these people?
††††††††††† Also becoming increasingly delusional, President Mugabe told a
state dinner hosted for President Obiang that Zimbabwe would stand by its
††††††††††† "Those opposed to our principles have enlisted the services of
like-minded countries and their leaders, and deceitfully and dishonestly
used the media, vilifying us as undemocratic because we have dared to put
the interests of the poor and downtrodden first," he said.
††††††††††† Isn't it exactly the opposite: that his misguided policies have
impoverished millions? That he has created the misery that he bitterly
resents the press publishing? How else do we describe the impact of
Operation Murambatsvina and the state's response to criticism from the UN?
††††††††††† He was applauded by the hundreds of government officials
attending the banquet, news agencies report.
††††††††††† Of course he was. The gravy train is the best place to be. We
can imagine those chefs gulping down their food as the legions of the poor
were kept at bay. Viva Equatorial Guinea!
††††††††††† Nathaniel Manheru, the oily spokesman for an oil-less regime,
lashed out again at the Zimbabwe Independent last week accusing us of taking
orders from our proprietor in the debate around Geoff Nyarota's recent op/ed
forays. And he had the cheek to talk about ethics!
††††††††††† For a newspaper whose circulation and influence he scorns he
does spend an inordinate amount of time in his column responding to us. Not
content with inventing sales figures for the paper (he was probably mixing
us up with the Southern Times), he accuses the Independent of "writing
letters to itself".
††††††††††† This is evidently what they do at papers under his control!
There are plenty of people ready to testify as to their bona fides as
Independent letter-writers so long as Manheru tells us who all those
"Patriots" are writing to the Herald.
††††††††††† Manheru can see Trevor Ncube's hand behind the criticism of
Nyarota. Does it really require Ncube's intervention to take issue with
Nyarota's "excellent credentials" during his tenure at the Chronicle?
††††††††††† Geoff meanwhile will probably regard Manheru's defence as less
than helpful as he struggles to maintain his "credentials" ahead of
publication of his magnum opus, Against The Grain.
††††††††††† We look forward very much to reading it but Geoff must promise
not to write his own reviews.
††††††††††† Still on Manheru. Why is he so bitter that former Liberian
leader Charles Taylor has been turned over to face the music for his sins
while in power? He says Nigerian leader Olusegun Obasanjo should have
followed Zimbabwe's example in refusing to surrender the fugitive Mengistu
Haile Mariam to the Ethiopian authorities. Is that the view of Zimbabweans,
that hiding human rights violators is in the interests of "pan-Africanism"?
††††††††††† What does he find so lovable in Idi Amin that he must thank
Saudi Arabia for refusing to hand him over to the Ugandan authorities?
††††††††††† And why should Manheru be so worried about leaders like Obasanjo
who are prepared to hand dictators responsible for human rights violations
over to the international courts? Does he know something we don't?
††††††††††† We also enjoyed his delusional thesis that "Africans" readily
forgive and yearn for the return of their ousted "tormentors" rather than
accept change. In its disembodied form, the thesis could pass for some
thought process. But it ignores the longevity of the "tormentor" and the
cult that he creates to make himself appear indispensable. For it would be a
strange people that were "incapable of imagining" freedom.
††††††††††† Did Swedish ambassador Sten Rylander really say that sanctions
against Zimbabwe should be "lifted immediately because they are hurting the
ordinary people and not serving any purpose"?
††††††††††† That was the introductory paragraph to a story carried in the
Sunday News, and reproduced in the Sunday Mail, last weekend. But nowhere in
the story was there any evidence for such a bold declaration that
contradicts Sweden's adherence to the EU common position. In fact Rylander
said that "ultimately" and "eventually" sanctions must be removed once
Zimbabwe had "come to a normal situation".
††††††††††† Not quite the same thing is it?
††††††††††† One veteran ambassador told us it usually takes new heads of
mission six months to wise up.
††††††††††† "They arrive here all bright-eyed and bushy-tailed thinking
Zimbabwe's problems are amenable to sensible discussion and resolution," the
envoy said. "But give them six months of bashing their head against a brick
wall and they soon see the light."
††††††††††† Or stars!
††††††††††† Muckraker was intrigued by an article in the Herald saying
suspended Chitungwiza mayor Misheck Shoko will soon appear before a
disciplinary committee to answer charges of misconduct being levelled
against him. The inquiry, we were told, will give him an opportunity to
respond to allegations and findings made by the initial investigating
committee led by Joseph Macheka and presented to the Ministry of Local
††††††††††† Is that the same Joseph Macheka who lost the Chitungwiza
mayorship to Shoko in the 2003 election? In other words, the losing Zanu PF
candidate, who obviously has an axe to grind and is therefore unlikely to
provide an impartial finding, is appointed by the minister to investigate
the man who unseated him?
††††††††††† This violates elementary tenets of governance and is so
obviously partisan as to beggar belief. But this is how we conduct our
affairs in Zimbabwe today. And nobody seems to notice. By the way, what
became of the bullbars Cde Macheka?
††††††††††† Given the solidarity being expressed by some of the regime's
more recidivist spokesmen for the late Serbian dictator, Slobodan Milosevic,
Muckraker was interested to read of the graffiti campaign in Belgrade that
helped bring him down. It consisted of two simple words that had a
self-fulfilling impact. Those two words? "He's finished". There was never a
need to say who.
††††††††††† You can imagine the depths of despondency to which a tyrant's
heart might sink on peering out of his tinted motorcade windows to see those
simple words daubed on every wall!
††††††††††† Journalists must always beware of being hoodwinked by
influential players in both the public and private sectors. A healthy dose
of scepticism and an instinct for enquiry should form part of any
self-respecting scribe's equipment.
††††††††††† We need to remind ourselves of this as the Zimbabwe Tourism
Authority, an agency with close ties to the government and ruling party, is
luring visitors to Zimbabwe to see for themselves how all the country's
difficulties are the product of a hostile Western press.
††††††††††† There have been visits from delegations of Malaysian and Chinese
journalists and more are expected from France. Some appear to need little
††††††††††† "We read from the international media a lot of negative things
about Zimbabwe, about the country being on the brink of collapse," said
Ravin Ravichandran, head of the Malaysian media delegation. "There is
nothing like that. These are negatives that deserve to be corrected."
††††††††††† Indeed they do. But exactly how far were the Malaysians able to
see beyond the comfortable resorts they visited and the government spokesmen
††††††††††† Did they speak to any victims of Murambatsvina? Did they speak
to any of the women from Woza about their experience in jail? Indeed, did
they manage to escape from their ZTA minders and speak to any
non-governmental organisations during their stay?
††††††††††† The collapse of commercial agriculture and 1 000% inflation are
not inventions of the Western press, nor are repressive laws designed to
prevent criticism of the president. We reported last week a motorist in
Harare being brutally assaulted because he did not pull over in time as the
presidential motorcade passed.
††††††††††† These are Zimbabwean realities.
††††††††††† Ravichandran and his colleagues should remember the one golden
rule of journalism: Don't allow yourself to be used!
††††††††††† Governor of Midlands Cephas Msipa on Wednesday added a bit of
fun to the usually drab and tedious Good Morning Zimbabwe newsreel on ZBH's
SFM. Responding to questions on progress made towards the construction of
the Gweru Hospital mortuary, the governor said: "The mortuary is alive and
††††††††††† He then went on to give a list of people who were in the
mortuary including Zanu PF politicians and MDC Gweru executive mayor Sesel
Zvidzai. "They are all in there and they are happy to be in there," the
governor told us.
††††††††††† If they are all in the mortuary, we wonder who is working on the
††††††††††† Those who have not read New Ziana's community newspapers are
missing a great literary treat. Muckraker recently came across this line in
one of their Bulawayo editions: "Residents of Cowdray Park are living in
fear of being mould (sic) by an alleged lion . . ." More nuggets from the
community papers next week.