Rangarirai Mberi and Clemence Manyukwe Staff Repo
'We can't throw taxpayers'money into Zim'
SOUTH Africa has rejected the possibility of direct financial aid to
Zimbabwe, a plan proposed by other Southern African regional leaders,
deepening uncertainty over the likely structure of an economic rescue
package being worked out by the Southern African Development Community
SADC last week tasked its 14 finance ministers to work out a comprehensive
rescue plan for Zimbabwe after a summit that, as expected, held back any
public rebuke of President Robert Mugabe whose ZANU PF party is seen
frustrating regional efforts to heal a full blown economic crisis blighting
one of the continent's once promising economies.
But South African Finance Minister, Trevor Manuel, said on Tuesday his
country would not throw taxpayers' money into saving Zimbabwe's economy.
Zimbabweans would have to do that on their own, he said.
Diplomatic sources said Manuel's comments were reflective of the dominant
view within the ruling African National Congress and Thabo Mbeki's Cabinet
towards Harare. Manuel is one of South Africa's longest serving finance
"We cannot decide what kind of economy the Zimbabweans must have. They must
get the prices to work, they must drive the changes. We cannot commit
financial resources," Manuel said in a televised debate in his country's
Manuel's comments reveal differences within SADC over the form of an aid
package for Zimbabwe.
Tomaz Salomao, the SADC executive secretary, had in his Zimbabwe report to
last week's summit, held in Lusaka, Zambia proposed that the region prop up
what he sees as the country's "sanction-hit" economy by providing supplies,
including energy and farm inputs.
His recommendations reportedly received backing from a section of the
But a communiqué released at the end of the meeting said leaders only "took
note" of the Salomao report, recommending that it be used as a basis by
finance ministers to draw up a more comprehensive "economic plan to support
Given South Africa's political and economic clout in the region, Manuel's
comments would suggest whatever assistance Zimbabwe was likely get from its
peers would not include loans, as hoped for by the government.
Tito Mboweni, the South African Reserve Bank governor had previously ruled
out prospects of linking Zimbabwe's currency to Pretoria's solid rand.
Mboweni said Zimbabwe is a long way from being ready to join southern Africa's
rand monetary union comprising South Africa, Namibia, Lesotho and Swaziland.
Regional finance ministers, according to diplomats, would be asked to
estimate the financial aid that would be necessary to stabilise Zimbabwe's
Zimbabwe's known immediate needs include some US$253 million to feed up to
three million people at risk of starvation.
But private economic consultants that have advised SADC, The Financial
Gazette has learnt from South African sources, estimate Zimbabwe needs as
much US$3 billion over the remaining months of the year for energy supplies
and to stabilise the currency.
A coalition of western countries had previously put forward a similar amount
for a plan that would stretch for five years.
Zimbabwe has been scouring the continent for aid to shore up its economy.
Negotiations over a possible US$2 billion loan from Libya have faltered,
according to a senior Treasury official, "although lines are still open."
Pleas for aid to other "friendly" countries, such as China, have been
Economists doubt that Zimbabwe is ready to implement any recommendations
"Any help would depend on whether the government would implement what it is
told . . . an economic rescue package would be incompatible with the kind of
political objectives of the government. The government has previously
ignored advice it has been given," said Tony Hawkins, professor of business
at the University of Zimbabwe.
Hawkins pointed to Zimbabwe's rejection of reforms suggested by the
International Monetary Fund (IMF).
IMF managing director Rodrigo Rato told a press conference in Mozambique
this week that Zimbabwe had ignored its advice.
The IMF, which has suspended all new aid to Zimbabwe, had proposed a raft of
reform programmes it says are key to stabilising the economy, including
transparency and the need to end controls on prices and the exchange rate.
"We are not encouraged by the response of the (Zimbabwe) authorities. Our
advice to Zimbabwe is not the one they are applying," Rato said.
Lovemore Madhuku, chairman of the National Constitutional Assembly, said
Zimbabwe would not accept any aid with strings attached.
He added that any SADC approach on Zimbabwe would not yield any results if
it did not first make it clear to ZANU PF that its actions were
"I do not think SADC is serious. It has not condemned Zimbabwe so that
politicians here know that what they are doing is not acceptable," said
Madhuku. "The first step should be to condemn government's actions."
President Mugabe has said Zimbabwe would go its own way, although there is
growing admission from within his own government that policies such as price
controls do not help.
State media has begun to question the policy, while Industry and
International Trade Minister Obert Mpofu took further steps backwards this
week by allowing price increases on a range of goods and services.
Although there were reports last week that SADC had tied stringent reform
conditions to any rescue package, statements by senior politicians in the
region suggest President Mugabe prevailed at the summit.
SADC is now trying to rope in regional elders to pressure President Mugabe,
according to Zambian finance minister, Ng'andu Magande.
Kenneth Kaunda, the former Zambian president, told South Africa's eTV this
week he would accept such a role.
This new attempt by SADC will be seen as further evidence that President
Mugabe faced no challenge to his policies at last week's meeting. Mbeki has
also dismissed suggestions the summit had set conditions and deadlines for
"Nobody is looking for conditionalities. Nobody said there should be
conditionalities to finding solutions. Solutions must be found - that's
all," Mbeki said.
"Nobody has spoken about a specific date, but it is the process that will
determine that. On the economic one, everybody is saying there is urgency on
this matter and that the finance ministers will engage this matter
Manuel this week defended South Africa's policy of "quiet diplomacy" towards
Zimbabwe, saying that foreign intervention to bring about regime change
risked unleashing turmoil like in Iraq.
Media reports said Manuel had told lawmakers that South Africa - the top
regional powerbroker - was not in a position to dictate political and
economic policy to President Mugabe.
"We must encourage Zimbabweans to solve their own problems. That is the most
we can do because the decisions have to be carried by Zimbabweans into
perpetuity," Manuel said in a heated exchange in parliament.
"For those who don't understand, I ask that President Bush recruit them and
send them to Iraq," Manuel, described as visibly angry by the South African
press, said amid heckling from opposition lawmakers. "Then they will
understand what regime change is about."
President Mbeki has long advocated quiet diplomacy towards Zimbabwe.
Since March he has acted as mediator between Zimbabwe's ruling party and the
opposition, but so far there has been no visible progress.
In the interim, there has been an upsurge in the number of desperate
Zimbabweans crossing into neighbouring countries to escape the meltdown.
Zimbabwe is in its worst economic crisis since independence from Britain in
1980, with runaway inflation and acute shortages of basic commodities.
The economic crisis is largely blamed on the seizure of white-owned
commercial farms that began in 2000, disrupting the agriculture-based
Many in the West and elsewhere have held President Mugabe responsible, and
critics complain of state control of the media, widespread intimidation and
a clampdown on the pro-democracy movement.
The IMF has warned inflation might hit 100 000 percent by the end of the
Njabulo Ncube Political Editor
THE Catholic Church has opened its own investigations into allegations that
Bulawayo Archbishop Pius Ncube had an affair with a married parishioner.
The office of the secretary general of the Zimbabwe Catholic Bishops'
Conference (ZCBC) said it would only comment on the controversy dogging the
Bulawayo Diocese after the conclusion of its investigations.
Archbishop Ncube, a strident critic of President Robert Mugabe, has been
sued for $20 billion by Onesimus Sibanda, the husband of Rosemary Sibanda,
the woman at the centre of the alleged affair.
"The media has reached its own verdict, but the church has its own process
presently going on," said the office of ZCBC secretary general, Frederick
Chiromba. "When the process has been completed, also taking into
consideration the legal process underway in the courts, we will then be in a
position to inform the media of the Church's position."
The ZCBC spoke as it emerged that Archbishop Ncube's lawyers were due to
file an application in the Bulawayo High Court seeking an order to compel
the plaintiff to avail information, documents and other details requested by
the defence team.
"I am going to seek an order from the court, probably by Friday, to compel
them (plaintiff's lawyers) to make available to us the evidence," Nicholas
Mathonsi, Archbishop Ncube's legal representative, told The Financial
Archbishop Ncube's lawyers want to have access to the video shown on ZBC TV,
and pictures published in The Chronicle and The Herald.
Mathonsi wants the dates, times and venues of the alleged sexual acts, and
details of witnesses that Sibanda's lawyers claim to have lined up.
Zimbabwe woke up on Tuesday July 17 to shocking reportage of the alleged
adultery case. State media showed nude pictures of what it said were
Archbishop Ncube and Rosemary Sibanda in compromising positions.
Munyaradzi Nzarayapenga, Sibanda's lawyer, said in papers filed with the
Bulawayo High Court that submitting the requested evidence would be
tantamount to "converting a Summons to a Synopsis of Evidence."
Archbishop Ncube's lawyers are further requesting details on how Sibanda's
lawyers arrived at the total figure of $20 billion claimed in the lawsuit.
According to Sibanda's lawyers, $10 billion is for loss of consortium, while
the other $10 billion is for contumelia. "This is enough for the purpose of
pleading," said Nzarayapenga in his court papers.
The issue of how the figure was arrived at is a question of evidence and is
not necessary at this stage."
Dumisani Ndlela Business Editor
THE Central Statistical Office (CSO) lifted the veil of secrecy on inflation
figures yesterday after the central bank came to the rescue of the market
with disclosures of the June year-on-year inflation rate at 7 251.1 percent.
But the CSO's own figures showed July inflation had risen to 7 634.8
percent, after a moderate 383.7 percentage point rise from June.
The month-on-month inflation rate in July rose 31.6 percent, slowing 54.6
percentage points from the 86.2 percent in June.
The smaller jump in figures to July would appear to vindicate the government's
clampdown on retailers and manufacturers in June, which forced prices down
by 50 percent but led to acute shortages and empty supermarket shelves.
But, still, the change in the average price from June to July was higher, at
36 percent, than the change in the average price of the same basket from
June 2006 to June 2006 at 25.1 percent.
The June inflation rates had been made available to the market through a
note from the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) governor Gideon Gono to one
Banking sector sources said Gono had made the disclosures after the listed
institution had explained its difficulty in compiling inflation-adjusted
accounts for the June half-year in the absence of official inflation
Details of his note to the bank had been widely circulated in the market
This is the second time that Gono has come to the rescue of the market,
which has suffered from the government's growing phobia over high inflation
figures that have put the spotlight on alleged mismanagement of the country's
ailing economy and courted bad publicity internationally.
The CSO last released inflation figures for March, and Gono had revealed the
figures for April during a monetary policy statement made in Bulawayo during
the Zimbabwe International Trade Fair.
Figures for May, which were leaked to the market and reported by The
Financial Gazette, showed that inflation had surged 816.1 percentage points
to 4 530 percent in May.
The jump in May inflation was the second largest after a 1 513.7 percentage
points leap in April to 3 713.9 percent.
This had, inevitably, reinforced the government's dread for inflation data,
especially after former United States ambassador Christopher Dell had warned
inflation would touch the one million percent mark before year-end and lead
to the demise of President Robert Mugabe's government.
The absence of official inflation statistics had presented accountants with
difficulties in implementing an international accounting standard that
requires inflation-adjusted financial statements.
The Zimbabwe Stock Exchange has directed that all listed companies should
prepare their financial statements in line with International Accounting
Standard 29, which states that in a hyperinflationary economy, financial
statements should be based on inflation-adjusted figures rather than
historical cost figures, which in a hyperinflationary situation are held to
Finance Minister Samuel Mumbengegwi said yesterday the new data showed his
government was winning the battle against inflation, and vowed to press on
with price controls.
"We are happy. From the figures I have seen, I am happy that month-on-month
inflation is going down," Mumbengegwi said.
Despite worsening shortages, Mumbengegwi said as long as government remained
the overall regulator of the economy, "we will continue to regulate."
Clemence Manyukwe Staff Reporter
THE High Court has dismissed a bail application by a suspected coup plotter
saying he had failed to provide an alibi for the day the state alleged he
was at an army barrack planning to topple President Robert Mugabe from
Rangarirai Mazirofa (20), the suspected coup plotter, has since appealed to
the Supreme Court against the dismissal of his application.
Police claim Mazirofa, a University of Zimbabwe (UZ) student and the last to
be arrested, and four others went to One Commando Barracks on May 25 this
year where they carried out a reconnaissance of strategic points within the
camp for the purposes of executing a coup.
In his judgment, Justice Ben Hlatshwayo said Mazirofa had not defended
himself from the allegations but had proffered a "bare denial."
"In this case, the applicant offers a bare denial to the detailed allegation
of his involvement with the alleged coup plotters," reads part of the
"If he had proffered an innocent explanation of his association with the
alleged coup plotters, an alibi or some sort of defence to the allegations
would have gone towards weighing the strength or weakness of state's case
Hlatshwayo said the likelihood that the accused person would abscond was
Appearing for the state, prosecutor Joseph Makwakwa had argued that the UZ
student might abscond as his alleged offence carried a death penalty on
During the hearing, defence lawyer Charles Warara submitted that initially
the state had wanted to turn his client into a state witness, which the
lawyer said was a signal that prosecution did not have a case against him.
Warara charged that after Mazirofa refused to become a state witness, the
police suddenly found a case against him.
In the appeal to the Supreme Court, the Harare lawyer offered seven grounds
on which he said Justice Hlatshwayo had erred.
"The learned judge erred in concluding that the appellant would abscond if
he is granted bail even though he conceded that the appellant had no
capacity or resources to make good such an escape from justice."
"The learned judge erred by concluding that the appellant should have
submitted his defence to the case other than what he called a bare denial."
Njabulo Ncube Political Editor
A LEADING rights group has released a damning report debunking two high
profile government reports used to convince Southern African Development
Community (SADC) leaders that the country's opposition and civic society
organisations were a violent lot bent on effecting regime change.
The 29-page report by the Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum entitled At Best A
Falsehood, At Worst A Lie,
pours scorn on government allegations that Movement for Democratic Change
(MDC) officials and civic society organisations were responsible for the
torching of buses and petrol-bombing of public establishments in March.
The Forum's report further bolsters a judgment by a High Court judge, which
trashed government claims of opposition "terror".
The charges are chronicled in a two-volume Home Affairs report, entitled
Opposition Forces in Zimbabwe: A Trail of Violence and Opposition Forces in
Zimbabwe: The Naked Truth, prepared for President Robert Mugabe by the
Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP).
Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa cited the report again in Lusaka last
The police reports have also formed part of a glossy supplement in a
London-based magazine, New African, in which President Mugabe is portrayed
as a victim of Western powers using puppets in a bid to overthrow his
But in the hard-hitting report, the NGO Forum says police lied on behalf of
The NGO Forum reveals police used pictures of the same bus to claim that MDC
officials and civic society activists had gone on the rampage, burning
several Zimbabwe United Passenger Company (ZUPCO) buses.
The NGO Forum noted that the bus shown in the two government reports had the
same number plates, despite it having been allegedly burnt in two separate
"For example, on page 15 we are told that Zupco bus registration number
AAS0969 was stoned and had its windows smashed by a group of youths in
Waterfalls suburb on March 11, 2007.
"We are then later shown a picture on page 35 of what is alleged to be
another bus with smashed windows.
"The caption underneath indicates this bus was stoned by 'MDC thugs' on
March 13, 2007, along Simon Madzorodze Road (page 35). The bus in the
picture has the number plates AAS0969 and is clearly the same bus as the
first. Immediately below that, is a picture of what manifestly is the same
bus, but with the caption: 'Another ZUPCO bus that was stoned in Glen View
by MDC supporters.'"
"A further picture of the same bus appears on page 36 of the police report,
with the caption: "MDC supporters had set on fire the ZUPCO Bus in the
picture on 18 February 2007," reads part of the report.
In its summary of the report made available to The Financial Gazette
yesterday, the NGO Forum said the ZRP reports, still prominent on the
Ministry of Home Affairs website, had sought to portray opposition parties
and civic society organisations "as grouped together, with the aid and
assistance of foreign governments for the purpose of violent overthrow of
the government of President Robert Mugabe."
But the NGO Forum says: "The reports appear to be part of a new public
relations offensive by the Zimbabwean government, which has recently paid
for extensive advertising to improve its image in publications elsewhere.
The offensive may well be partly motivated by a perceived need to counter
the massive and negative publicity generated by the arrest of the MDC and
civic society leaders following their attempt to hold a meeting on March 11,
The beatings drew widespread criticism, including from Africa.
This week, former Zambian leader Kenneth Kaunda, paraded in the state media
as having backed government at last week's SADC summit, also criticised the
persecution of President Mugabe's opponents.
Clemence Manyukwe Staff Reporter
PARLIAMENT has reinstated Industry and International Trade Minister Obert
Mpofu's contempt case following the motion's expiry at the conclusion of the
second session of the legislative assembly.
On Tuesday, parliament entered its third session, the last sitting of the
sixth parliament before it is dissolved to pave way for presidential and
general elections scheduled for March next year.
Sources told The Financial Gazette that Cabinet ministers had lobbied for
Mpofu, who is at the forefront of the blitz on prices, to be let off the
hook, resulting in the expiry of the case.
Mpofu's colleagues appear to have lost the war if this week's comments by
the Clerk of Parliament, Austin Zvoma are anything to go by.
Zvoma confirmed on Tuesday that Mpofu's case had been reinstated.
He said: "It's on. It has been restored."
A six-member privileges committee chaired by Defence Minister Sydney
Sekeramayi convicted Mpofu in May of breaching parliamentary privileges but
acquitted him on charges of presenting a false or fabricated document, but
the case was never debated, leading to the lapsing of the contempt motion.
The case had drawn parallels with that of former Movement for Democratic
Change Member of Parliament Roy Bennett, who was sent to jail a day after a
privileges committee report found him guilty of having floored Justice
Minister and Leader of the House of Assembly, Patrick Chinamasa.
Sekeramayi's committee, an investigative ad hoc panel that probes all
allegations of breach of privilege, was dissolved following its work on
Charges against Mpofu were initiated by the portfolio committee on Foreign
Affairs, Industry and International Trade, which accused the Industry and
International Trade Minister of giving false testimony under oath during a
probe on a management contract between the Zimbabwe Iron and Steel Company
(Zisco) and an external investor, Global Steel Holdings Limited of India,
which has since left the country.
During the hearing Zisco board and management accused Mpofu of unnecessarily
interfering with their work.
Sources said after being dragged before the hearing the minister had left
the Zisco board to operate independently, a move credited with changing
fortunes at the parastatal.
The company has started declaring dividends to shareholders of which the
government is part. The government recently received a $2 billion cheque as
Kumbirai Mafunda Senior Business Reporter
ZIMBABWE'S ambitious plans to bump up its tobacco crop to above 100 million
kgs could fall flat due to erratic power supplies.
Tobacco growers will next month begin planting irrigated tobacco with a
target to increase output above 100 million kgs, up from 80 million kgs
expected to be harvested by the close of the auction floors early next
But officials at ZESA Holdings, the country's power utility, told The
Financial Gazette this week that persistent power shortages could disrupt
irrigation cycles and thwart farmers from realising maximum crop yields.
"The tobacco season is around the corner and by its nature tobacco
production is 100 percent dependent on irrigation and the availability of
electricity is crucial to this sector. So if we don't come up with firm
arrangements to secure electricity the challenge is we will have lower
yields, which will affect our foreign currency earnings," said an official
The officials said ZESA needed funds to pay off its debts to regional power
utilities, reportedly amounting to US$40 million, to enable it to secure
additional power imports.
"We could save ourselves
by getting what is available
in the region and doing what
is necessary to reduce our power import bill. The shortest way is to mop up
what is available in the region," added another ZESA official.
Regional power utilities have reportedly reduced electricity supplies to
ZESA to 200 megawatts (MW) from 450MW because of outstanding arrears, which
the government has failed to clear before ZESA could negotiate new
To increase local power generation, the officials called upon Hwange
Colliery Company to immediately supply steaming coal to fire generators at
ZESA's three thermal power stations in Harare, Bulawayo and Munyati, which
have been lying idle for almost a year owing to coal shortages.
Already the government has admitted that the upcoming wheat harvest is
likely to be the worst since independence in 1980.
Wheat output is projected to fall below the 85 000 tonnes harvested last
year, and well short of the total domestic consumption of 400 000 tonnes a
year because of disruptions to irrigation caused by power shortages.
AFTER last week's summit of the Southern African Development Community
(SADC) heads of state and government in Lusaka, Zambia, it should be obvious
to even the most obtuse Zimbabweans that a solution to their country's
crisis will not come from that quarter.
On the contrary SADC leaders have become part of the problem through their
unwillingness to address issues that lie at the root of the crisis. Instead
they toe the line peddled by President Robert Mugabe that Britain and its
allies are responsible for the country's descent into poverty, squalor and
backwardness. They refuse to acknowledge that politics lies at the heart of
the crisis in Zimbabwe.
South Africa's President, Thabo Mbeki, was mandated by SADC in March this
year to mediate talks between the ruling ZANU PF and opposition Movement for
Democratic Change (MDC). His report was presented behind closed doors to his
colleagues who decided not to publish it. The reason is simple. It contains
nothing of substance precisely because the talks are a charade meant to buy
time for President Mugabe.
Even the most casual observer of the Zimbabwean situation knows that the
talks are going nowhere. The deputy leader of the MDC, Thoko Khupe, said as
much at the sidelines of the summit. So did ZANU PF's chief negotiator
Patrick Chinamasa, who contemptuously dismissed the talks as unnecessary
since all was hunky dory in Zimbabwe. He was subsequently reprimanded for
embarrassing Mbeki, which prompted a half-hearted retraction.
The point had been made, though.
The non-publication of the report allowed Mbeki to peddle the falsehood that
substantial progress was being made. In an interview with the SABC he
persisted with creating false hopes. He is reported to have predicted a
positive outcome by mid-October this year to pave the way for free and fair
elections in March 2008.
Regional finance ministers will look at the report on a rescue package for
Zimbabwe's economy presented to the summit by SADC's executive secretary
Tomaz Salomao. Pandering to his political masters, Salomao reportedly
identified so-called western sanctions against Zimbabwe as the main cause of
the economic meltdown.
The intentions of the SADC leaders are clear. They want to help President
Mugabe and ZANU PF retain power. The talks are a smokescreen to hide their
intentions and hoodwink the West to normalise relations with the regime in
Elections next year will be held under terms and conditions determined by
President Mugabe. Constitutional amendments will shortly be bulldozed
through parliament to ensure that there can only be one outcome. History
will once again repeat itself. Through a cocktail of violence, intimidation
and electoral fraud, victory will be secured.
The constitutional amendments will legitimise gerrymandering on a scale
never seen anywhere before. Rural constituencies, where the infrastructure
of terror is firmly in place, will nearly be doubled. These areas are
largely inaccessible to the opposition. Already a deeply flawed registration
of voters has just been completed in which all sorts of dirty tricks were
played. It will be a re-run of 2000, 2002 and 2005. Some insignificant
concessions, like allowing the opposition limited access to the broadcasting
media, to pull wool over the eyes of observers well disposed to the regime,
will be made.
The election will be validated by SADC and observers from the usual friendly
countries such as Russia, Cuba, Libya, China and North Korea. The challenge
this time will be to convince the European Union and its allies to endorse
the election and loosen the purse strings.
Mbeki, with his foreign minister in tow, will gallivant all over Europe
batting for President Mugabe. This is critical for the survival of the
regime because it is common knowledge that only the European Union and its
allies have the capacity to fund Zimbabwe's economic recovery.
SADC knows it has no capacity to meaningfully assist Zimbabwe rebuild its
economy. The regional body itself has since its inception in 1980 depended
on donor funding.
The vast majority of its 14 member countries are subsidised by the West
mainly through budgetary support. The expectation clearly is that if somehow
the West can be persuaded to accept the conduct and outcome of the
elections, it will fund the rescue package authored by Salomao. It is a game
of deception authored by President Mugabe and fully supported by his peers
in the region.
The big question is what the response of the opposition forces in Zimbabwe
should be. If they do not think and act strategically they will be totally
outmanoeuvred. Salvation will not come from outside Zimbabwe or from within
ZANU PF as is often suggested by some analysts who fail to realise that all
leaders in that party are terrified of change. A safer option is to toe the
line and pray that the gravy train continues.
Mbeki and his regional colleagues see the key to ending the West's isolation
of Zimbabwe in next year's election. That was the game plan in 2005 but it
failed. They see their role as helping President Mugabe to deliver such an
election without insisting on a strict adherence to SADC's protocols on the
conduct of elections. They know that a free and fair election carries too
many risks for President Mugabe and ZANU PF.
The position taken by civil society has been clear and consistent. Last week
representatives of civil society had an opportunity to spell out conditions
that must prevail for a free and fair election to Sydney Mufamadi, head of
South Africa's mediation team. There is no need to mention these conditions
as they have been repeatedly articulated. It is the response of the MDC,
which is cause for concern. In both factions of the party is a critical mass
of people who cannot think or see beyond their petty selfish interests.
They are willing to take part in an election they know is a lost cause just
to secure a few seats in parliament for themselves. They reject the option
of a boycott on the spurious grounds that it will hand over power to
President Mugabe on a silver platter. What they do not understand is that
what President Mugabe desperately seeks is not power. He has that already.
He wants universal legitimacy, which will open the door to economic
salvation. By taking part in a farcical election, which they will lose
abysmally, the opposition runs the real risk of assisting President Mugabe
achieve his goal.
They should realise that an election without the MDC will not be acceptable
even to his friends in the region and beyond. Mbeki and others only indulge
the MDC because its cooperation is indispensable to the attainment of the
outcomes they seek. It would be impossible for them to get the EU and its
allies to accept an election the MDC was not a part of.
The raison d'etre of the MDC is to get into power to create a new political
dispensation in which Zimbabweans for the first time live in a free society.
That is the big picture that should inform the strategic thinking of the
party. It would be a fatal blunder for the MDC to take part in an election
held under President Mugabe's terms. Have the lessons of the three previous
elections not been learnt?
Zimbabwe is at a crossroads.
President Mugabe knows exactly what he wants and is now rolling out his
agenda aided and abetted by SADC leaders. The opposition, broadly speaking,
has to respond intelligently. It is obvious that Zimbabweans have to
liberate themselves from tyranny through their own efforts.
The vast majority of people have been plunged into unprecedented levels of
poverty and despair. They are crying out for bold leadership to deliver a
new Zimbabwe that gives them freedom, hope and economic opportunities. Those
who have offered themselves as an alternative to this disastrous regime must
offer that leadership.
If they fail the people of Zimbabwe at this critical juncture may the devil
Article reproduced courtesy of The Zimbabwe Times
Charles Rukuni Bureau Chief
BULAWAYO - Reports that Australia was cancelling student visas of eight
Zimbabweans whose parents are linked to President Robert Mugabe's government
have sent shivers among some ZANU-PF politicians whose children are studying
or staying abroad especially in countries that have been dubbed President
Robert Mugabe's arch-enemies, Britain and the United States.
One of those most shaken was Information Minister Sikhanyiso Ndlovu, the man
who is supposed to defend President Robert Mugabe's hardline stance, which
has seen the country being ostracised by the West.
Australia's Foreign Minister Alexander Downer said last week that the move
to suspend the student visas was an extension of existing sanctions against
Zimbabwe and had been provoked by President Mugabe's disregard of democracy
and human rights.
Downer declined to disclose the names of the students for privacy reasons
but an Australian website revealed in April that children of at least seven
top government officials were studying in that country.
It named Sylvester Chihuri, son of Police Commissioner Augustine Chihuri;
Tendai Nguni, son of Sylvester Nguni, Minister of Economic Planning; Kudzai
Muchena, son of Olivia Muchena, Minister for Science and Technology; and
Thelma Chombo, daughter of Minister for Local Government, Ignatius Chombo.
The others were Taona Karimanzira, son of Harare Provincial Governor David
Karimanzira and Emmerson Mnangagwa the son of Emmerson Mnangagwa, Minister
for Rural Housing and Amenities, among others.
It is not clear whether these are the same students Downer was referring to.
Australia, the European Union and the United States have slapped Zimbabwe's
leaders with what they term "smart sanctions". These sanctions prevent
members of President Mugabe's government from visiting Australia or
transferring funds to and from that country. The same applies to the United
States and the European Union but does not apply when the officials are on
United Nations business.
President Mugabe's government says the sanctions are illegal and are in
retaliation to his government's land reform programme, which saw thousands
of hectares of land being taken from white farmers for redistribution to
peasant farmers and a new breed of black commercial farmers.
Downer said the move would also prevent President Mugabe's lieutenants from
giving their families "the kind of education their policies have denied the
ordinary people of Zimbabwe" at home.
Tertiary education in Zimbabwe has been marred by constant strikes by
students asking for better allowances or by lecturers demanding better
Though deputy Information Minister Bright Matonga said the country would not
be moved by Australia's decision to cancel the student visas, this was not
the case with his boss.
Ndlovu was at pains at the weekend to persuade the media not to disclose
where his children were staying after a memorial service for his son Mandla
that was attended by several journalists especially from the state-owned
Three of his children - Thabang, Dumisani and Thembi - attended the
memorial. They are reportedly staying in the United States but the media
obliged by only mentioning that the three had failed to attend their brother's
burial as they were "making arrangements to fly from their overseas bases".
Ndlovu is a favourite with Bulawayo journalists and has been patron of their
Press club for years.
TO the perennial question "can't the South African government and the
southern African region do more about Zimbabwe?", perhaps the most
irritating official reply is: "What do you want us to do? Invade the
Well, perhaps it's just a short step away from the military option, but, as
one alternative to invasion, how about withholding tumultuous applause from
Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe?
I refer, of course, to
the loud applause President Mugabe got at last week's Southern African
Development Community (SADC) summit in Lusaka. Perhaps once the region has
got over the post-traumatic stress of withholding adulation, it could
consider the next bold move. One suggestion - stop blaming the stupendous
economic meltdown in Zimbabwe on the fact that President Mugabe's young wife
Grace can't go shopping at Harrod's any more.
I refer, of course, to the fact that the only international sanctions
against Zimbabwe are travel and financial bans on President Mugabe, a few of
his cronies and some of their families by the European Union, the United
States, Australia and perhaps one or two other countries.
These draconian measures have forced President Mugabe and his wife, Grace to
do their Christmas shopping in Kuala Lumpur instead of London or Paris. But
at the Lusaka summit, SADC executive secretary Tomaz Salomao nevertheless
blamed sanctions for Zimbabwe's economic calamity, and therefore proposed a
regional economic rescue plan, fully endorsed by the summit.
There was, understandably, some speculation that SADC might use this
bail-out as leverage to extract some quid pro quo from President Mugabe -
like ending his campaign to halve prices by decree or restoring property
rights, or agreeing to reforms to ensure free and fair elections next year.
But that was too much to expect.
President Thabo Mbeki, who is facilitating political negotiations between
President Mugabe's ZANU PF party and the opposition Movement for Democratic
Change (MDC) to try to ensure fair elections, told journalists after the
summit that the economic package was unconditional.
Which means it will probably have the effect of helping President Mugabe win
the elections by alleviating some hardships, which are driving his
supporters away from ZANU PF. So the chances of Mbeki's mediation dislodging
President Mugabe seem even more remote.
Most foreign governments were not including
it among their scenarios
for change anyway. "(President) Mugabe is not going to negotiate himself out
of power," one well-placed observer explained. "He has no Plan B. Having
seen (former Liberian president) Charles Taylor stand down on the basis of
an offer of exile and amnesty from his fellow African presidents, which they
later reneged on, he's determined to stay in power to the bitter end. To go
from State House to Heroes Acre, as it were."
Only a palace coup - probably backed by military muscle - has any chance of
removing President Mugabe, foreign governments increasingly believe, and the
rumblings have already begun.
They see evidence of it in the handful of officers arrested recently for
plotting against President Mugabe and don't believe they were victims of his
paranoia, as others believe.
Their eyes are now fixed firmly on Solomon Mujuru, ex-military husband of
Vice-President Joyce Mujuru, to see if he will venture a move within ZANU PF
over the next few months to have President Mugabe replaced as the party's
presidential candidate for the elections.
"If he fails at the party congress, he will need military back-up," one
observer said ominously, indicating just how high and perilous the stakes
If it comes to that, then perhaps SADC will at last act decisively - but
only by sending in its brand new SADC brigade, launched at the Lusaka
summit, to save President Mugabe's skin, as it might be obliged to do under
SADC's mutual defence pact.
And so, after all, perhaps the answer to that irritating question is, yes we
do, sort-of, expect SADC to invade Zimbabwe.
Shame Makoshori Staff Reporter
THE government is facing a complex economic puzzle. It has unilaterally
abandoned the National Economic Development Priority Programme (NEDPP), one
of the most hyped economic blueprints, which the struggling business sector
had cheered as finally bringing to an end the country's biting economic
In NEDPP's place comes the Zimbabwe Economic Development Strategy (ZEDS), to
be launched anytime soon.
The unilateral decision to terminate NEDPP allegedly came from the
influential national Joint Operations Command (JOC), comprising the police,
army and intelligence chefs, angered by the perceived lack of commitment by
the business sector to help President Robert Mugabe's government address an
eight-year-long economic recession that has condemned 80 percent of the
country's population to the ranks of poverty.
But that decision, which exposes the security forces' overbearing influence
in the country's economic affairs, has triggered debate on the prospects of
the new economic reform strategy, whose launch last week was re-scheduled to
a later date.
NEDPP had brought no meaningful relief to the battered economy, and this was
obviously largely expected given the failure of similar projects before: the
Growth with Equity of 1981, the Economic Structural Adjustment Programme
(1991), the Poverty Alleviation Action Programme (1994), the Zimbabwe
Programme for Economic and Social Transformation (1996 to 2000) and the
National Economic Revival Programme (2003).
Economists say NEDPP, like its predecessor programmes, failed dismally.
They cite the declining export performance, which has aggravated the foreign
currency shortages, large-scale migration and massive company closures as an
indication of NEDPP's failure.
Foreign direct investment inflows have plunged from US$444.3 million in 1998
to US$50 million in 2006, during NEDPP's tenure.
An economist with a listed financial institution says instead of drumming up
the US$2 billion in foreign currency as projected, Zimbabwe's reserves
remained precariously low.
"This shows that NEDPP, like its predecessors, failed," the analyst said.
He blamed the withdrawal of external credit lines, caused by the government's
poor international relations, for the escalating economic crisis.
At least four in every five people are out of employment and 3.4 million
people have fled to neighbouring countries or abroad.
When the government launched NEDPP in early 2006, optimists described the
blueprint as a formidable plan that would revive the collapsing economy.
But inflation, described by government agents as Zimbabwe's worst enemy, was
forecast to decline from 1 092 percent in April 2006 to three-digit figures
The government had also committed itself towards raising US$2 billion under
NEDPP to help stabilise the economy, reduce inflation, increase agricultural
production and ensure adequate supply of inputs and food security and ease
But inflation continues to skyrocket, while fuel supplies are even more
Interest rates are still hovering at uneconomical levels of between 500
percent and 600 percent, an indication of havoc in companies dependent on
According to the Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries (CZI), the
manufacturing sector could collapse due to a growing level of underutilised
"Players in the manufacturing sector risk being swept aside if they do not
re-group and strategise," the CZI said.
About nine out of 10 manufacturing companies are unable to cover their costs
and make full use of their capacities.
Major mines have closed down, leaving 40 000 people jobless. Sixty percent
of the country's estimated 13 million people are living on less than US$1
per day, while about four million people are in dire need of food aid.
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) projects that inflation could hit 100
000 percent by the end of 2007, further exerting pressure on the weak
Zimbabwe dollar, which traded at $2 700 to the greenback in January but was
trading at $19 500 to US$1 on Monday.
Rodrigo Rato, IMF managing director, told a news conference in Maputo,
Mozambique this week that Zimbabwe was not heeding its advice to implement
measures that would help ease its deteriorating economic crisis.
He said the Bretton Woods institution had stressed the need for a
stabilisation programme, enhanced transparency and for authorities to
increase the capacity of the market economy.
"We have been emphasising with the Zimbabwe authorities the need to address
(the) very extreme and deteriorating macroeconomic environment," he said.
"We are not encouraged by the responses of the authorities... Our advice to
the Zimbabwe authorities is not the one they are applying."
A crackdown on business to slash prices by 50 percent has left the market
short of basic and non-basic commodities.
"It is the first time that I saw Zimbabweans queuing for shoes," commented
ZABG head of treasury, Andy Hodges at a recent conference.
Economic analysts said the controversial price controls were the latest
indications of the failure of NEDPP.
They said during the launch, there was convergence of thinking that market
forces should determine prices if complete recovery is to be achieved within
a reasonable time.
But the near collapse of the economy now evident across all sectors
including power cuts is a clear indication that NEDPP was another futile
effort by government to correct its ruinous blunders.
Personal Glimpses with Mavis Makuni
THE legal challenge being mounted by Senator Aguy Georgias against the
targeted sanctions imposed on President Robert Mugabe and about 150 of his
lieutenants brings a whole new dimension to the Zimbabwean government's spin
on these measures.
A state-controlled paper reported over the past week that Georgias, who is
the Deputy Minister of Economic Development, was to challenge the European
Union (EU) smart sanctions, which were imposed in 2002 in protest against
the government's disregard for human rights and the rule of law.
Interestingly and revealingly, Georgias is to challenge the ban, which
includes travel restrictions, in Tony Blair's imperialistic courts when
Zimbabweans can no longer seek similar redress through their own judiciary
system, which has been caused to serve the agenda of a particular political
Describing the EU sanctions as "wrongful and misplaced," the aggrieved
senator fumed: "If, as we are made to believe, the sanctions against
Zimbabwe (wrong they are against targeted individuals) are meant to target
those who are engaged in activities that seriously undermine democracy,
respect for the rule of law in Zimbabwe, then why the economic malaise on
the whole nation?" Why indeed.
Aguy and his colleagues in government have persistently buried their heads
in the sand and stubbornly refused to address the same question when it has
been posed at home by a suffering populace.
They have never been able to come up with a convincing explanation as to why
the inability of the targeted individuals on the sanctions list to travel to
western capitals at the drop of a hat as they used to do can have such an
all-pervading effect in a sovereign country that has been independent for
almost 30 years. Is it not because they know they are using the sanctions as
a smokescreen to divert attention from the real problems in the country such
as rampant corruption in the public sector, lawlessness, economic
mismanagement and governance issues?
Aguy and his colleagues cannot deny the fact that no EU sanctions can ever
bring the same level of suffering to the people of Zimbabwe as some of the
policies adopted and actions resorted by their own government. No sanctions,
not even the total trade embargo imposed after Ian Smith's Unilateral
Declaration of Independence in the 1960s, ever emptied supermarkets shelves
and exacerbated the people's plight as the government's ill-conceived and
punitive "price war" has done over the past two months.
No international embargoes can cause a humanitarian crisis similar to that
sparked by a deliberate government exercise such as Operation Murambatsvina,
which left millions homeless and without means to make a living. If it is
true that the government is genuinely concerned about the effect of the EU
measures on the ordinary people, why is it going out of its way to do
everything possible to impose more hardships on an already suffering nation?
It is noteworthy that Senator Aguy has been galvanised to seek redress over
the targeted sanctions at the same time as some western nations are
threatening to deport the children of government officials safely ensconced
in imperialist countries and universities.
Would it not be more honest for Aguy to admit that this is the main reason
for his court action rather than the unconvincing claim that it is being
instituted on behalf of the suffering masses in Zimbabwe?
In a radio interview in Lusaka during the recent Southern African
Development Community (SADC) talk fest, Aguy said: "There is something
grossly wrong with the kind of thinking that justifies immense human
suffering and economic hardships on ordinary people as a means to bring
about perceived democratic change." The Senator needs to be reminded that
those who live in glass houses should think twice before throwing stones.
The government has done its fair share of banning foreigners from travelling
to Zimbabwe. The nation has lost count of the number of trade union, church
and human rights delegations that have been denied entry. And remember
Zimbabwe is a no-go area for journalists from the major international news
organisations. What hope would these groups have of getting redress through
Zimbabwean courts by challenging the restrictions imposed upon them as Aguy
is doing in the London High Court?
People like Aguy seem to have forgotten that these EU sanctions that are now
being blamed for everything that is wrong in Zimbabwe have been regularly
described as a "non-event" each time they have been renewed or extended.
They have also conveniently forgotten that the sanctions were imposed for
specific reasons, which the government is not willing to address. This means
that the government would rather see the people suffer than abandon the
undemocratic policies and practices that have rendered Zimbabweans refugees,
beggars and scavengers in neighbouring states and in their own country. All
that Aguy's EU sanctions challenge in the London High Court does is to give
the British justice system a vote of confidence - a far cry from what can be
said of the local equivalent.
A victory for Aguy or for the government in its multifaceted international
propaganda blitz, which will now include a cyber space component, is
meaningless as long as Zimbabweans are not free and are starving. The funds
being wasted on these diversionary activities should be availed to companies
and factories to produce the basic commodities that the "price war" has
deprived the suffering populace of.
THE Southern African Development Community (SADC) Heads of State Summit held
in Lusaka last week was a sad state of affairs.
Heads of state of the rest of the region were falling over their feet not to
offend the President of Zimbabwe and whatever their individual opinions of
our country, hid behind the cloak of something that Pretoria has come to
call "quiet diplomacy".
One Foreign Minister even had the temerity to rename this sort of diplomacy
"whispers" and added something tantamount to saying that nothing can be done
about the "old man" and "liberation war hero" in the full glare of the
Southern African public.
For some of us, always watching from the sidelines during such "big men"
summits, it would have been "business as usual", that is to say, these
Southern African heads of state will always meet without any particular
regard to our input and to rub each other's backs with wry smiles of
acknowledgement. The Lusaka indaba is yet another summit that the SADC
leaders once again prove the solidarity of "power without people" until
further political notice.
But this summit was not business as usual.
It was supposed to at least have given some weight to the seriousness that
is the Zimbabwean crises, both for the region and for Africa. My assumptions
were that at last, there will be discourse that whilst not talking of
"regime change" would be imbued with a greater understanding of not letting
problems in another African state degenerate to the level where someone
might be forced to disregard expected concerned neighbourliness and forever
harbour grudges about why the persons next door never came to assist in
times of monumental crises.
Well, it turned out to be just that. The regional presidents and a
sprinkling of prime ministers held fort on behalf of their own and
essentially made public their position that Zimbabwe is on its own in
addressing its political problems, even if there are whispers exchanging
lips and ears between Harare, Pretoria and Harvest House.
And the political realities that emerge from the stance taken by SADC on our
country are not those that can emerge at the next Heads of State Summit,
seeing as this is not until after March next year.
These realities are unwritten rules of regional interaction in SADC and most
paramount of these is 'do not touch any president, no matter how dictatorial
lest tomorrow it be you'. Or unless they do the unthinkable and invade your
country, Idi Amin style.
So as it stands, in the aftermath of the SADC Heads of State Summit, us,
ordinary locals need to grapple with a number of our won local realities.
Most significant of these is that we are sort of stuck with ZANU PF as a
ruling party until the next elections and unless we can prevail upon the
latter to see things our way, there shall be an election riddled with
irregularities in March 2008.
And as a direct consequence, the main opposition political parties therefore
need to seriously consider being in opposition for a much more prolonged
period, if they are to seek power through the ballot box, that is to say,
they should possibly be prepared to wait until March 2013 for another
attempt at taking over the reins of government.
We must also come to terms with another ostensible reality. This being that
SADC will somehow manage to still assist Zimbabwe meet some of its power
requirements, address its food shortages under the pretext of 'regional
solidarity' whilst leaving the politics of all of these problems alone or at
least, in their whispered language, 'to the Zimbabweans'.
This will serve not only to confirm our country as one that whilst not
working is somehow surviving the precipice at least until the substantive
March 2008 election. It will be a bare-knuckle economy, with many of us
experiencing inhumane conditions just to survive each day, but still SADC
will not budge in its support for President Mugabe's government through some
'economic rescue/assistance' package or the other.
And a final reality that we cannot ignore is that of comrades in the
oppositional movement. We will be caught up in the usual claptrap of still
trying to lobby an organisation that cannot be lobbied, scurrying to and
from Lusaka or Pretoria or Dar es Salaam.
This will in essence be a semblance of a repetition of 2005 where we
discussed SADC Protocols on the holding of free and fair elections until
ZANU PF secured its notorious two-thirds majority.
And in all of this, we will undermine each other as if we were not born of
the people's grievances against the current repression to claim pyrrhic
victories against each other in the House of Assembly or the Senate.
In short, we will be prone to making the same mistakes of elections past,
with the added dilemma of possibly guaranteeing ourselves a further five
years from delivering democracy to the people of Zimbabwe.
In conclusion, the SADC Heads of State Summit did Zimbabwe wrong. But this
was not surprising. They have loyalties to each other that are couched in
unwritten rules of engagement, rules that do not involve the people of
Southern Africa and are laced with 'big men' loyalties.
The good thing however, is that the struggle for democracy in Zimbabwe has
not claimed to rely solely on the wisdom of the regional heads of state.
It is born of the people of Zimbabwe, and it is through them that it shall
THE Southern African Development Community (Sadc) heads of state met in
Lusaka, Zambia and, as expected, ducked tackling President Robert Mugabe's
government over a worsening economic and political crisis that has raised
grave concern among neighbours over the increasing number of Zimbabwean
migrants fleeing the domestic crisis.
Thabo Mbeki, the South African President famous for his "quiet diplomacy" in
handling the situation in Zimbabwe, shielded President Mugabe as usual,
promising regional leaders that progress was being made to find a settlement
on the country's political arena through a negotiated pact between President
Mugabe's ruling ZANU PF and the fractious opposition Movement for Democratic
Change (MDC), which split into two camps in October 2005.
Yet just after the summit, the Zimbabwean government proceeded with moves to
make constitutional amendments that will entrench President Mugabe's rule
and further escalate the crisis by increasing political tension between his
party and the opposition. The proposed constitutional amendments are
designed to perpetuate President Mugabe's hold on power and manage his
divided party ahead of next year's elections. The amendments are also aimed
at facilitating the holding of joint parliamentary and presidential
elections in March next year. They would also reduce the term of the
president from six to five years.
The amendments would also ensure that Parliament elects President Mugabe's
successor if he cannot continue for whatever reason, creating the
possibility of President Mugabe influencing that appointment through a
parliament front-loaded with loyalists.
Both factions of the MDC have strongly objected to the amendments, but Joram
Gumbo, ZANU PF's chief whip, has said the ruling party would push through
the constitutional changes despite objections from the opposition. "They are
just a barking dog and the elephant, us in power, will continue to move,"
Gumbo was quoted by the international press as saying.
Gumbo's remarks amply demonstrate the level of arrogance with which ZANU PF
has dealt with the opposition. Such arrogance has, sadly, permeated the Sadc
structure, which is increasingly demonstrating its strong alliance with
Zimbabwe's ruling elite.
Patrick Chinamasa, the Minister of Justice who is a key figure in the
constitutional amendments, said last week that ZANU PF's talks with the MDC
were irrelevant. If Mbeki is not embarrassed by such a clear affront to his
efforts to find a settlement to the crisis by engaging the three political
parties, then nothing will.
There had been a heightened level of expectation in the international
community and in Zimbabwe that Zambia, which took over the leadership of the
regional bloc at the summit, would take a radical approach to the crisis and
start dealing with the Zimbabwean issue in a more combative and robust
The reason for this was a remark made by Zambian President Levy Mwanawasa
early this year describing Zimbabwe as "a sinking titanic".
For once, there was a feeling among many that the leadership within Sadc was
breaking ranks, and that there was a section among the regional leaders that
felt that something had to be done about Zimbabwe, and done urgently. How
Mwanawasa had appeared to be the voice of reason among the Sadc leaders, and
had in March defended his remarks on Zimbabwe, telling a meeting of Zambians
in Namibia that he did not regret his tough remarks on the country's
leadership. "Zimbabwe is our neighbour. When people in Zimbabwe cough,
Zambians also cough. We cannot sit back and watch when things are going
wrong there," said Mwanawasa.
It now turns out that Mwanawasa has joined the bandwagon of President
Mugabe's apologists. Suggestions that Mwanawasa had sent an emissary to
Harare to make peace with President Mugabe ahead of the Sadc summit in
Lusaka are now believable.
Upon assuming the leadership of Sadc last week, Mwanawasa said the problems
in Zimbabwe were exaggerated. How ironic for a leader who just yesterday
said Sadc could not "sit back and watch when things are going wrong".
Zimbabwe is currently grappling with hyperinflation, which reportedly came
close to 7 500 percent year-on-year in June. The country is also
experiencing acute food shortages, and millions, including professionals,
have fled the country for menial jobs abroad. Unemployment is estimated at
80 percent, and industry is operating at 30 percent capacity because of
shortages of critical raw materials and lack of foreign currency for crucial
Should that alone not create shock and awe within the Sadc bloc's leadership
even without the alleged exaggeration?