|The ZIMBABWE Situation||Our
thoughts and prayers are with Zimbabwe |
- may peace, truth and justice prevail.
Sources in the RG's office said the militia were being
registered to run the
municipal elections at the end of the month.<
"They were being registered to assist in the running of the
rural and urban
council elections as well as the two by-elections. They will be performing
various roles including those of polling officers," said a source in the
RG's office this week.<
Efforts to get comment from
Registrar-General Tobaiwa Mudede were in vain
this week as he was said to be out of office on several occasions.
Municipal elections will be held in Mutare, Rusape, Marondera, Chegutu,
Kadoma, Kariba, Norton, Chitungwiza, Bindura and Ruwa on August 30 and 31.
By-elections will be concurrently held in the Harare Central and Makonde
The sources at
the RG's office added that the services of the Zanu PF
militia had been enlisted in past by-elections. Previously the RG's office
enlisted the services of teachers to assist in the running of elections.<
department doesn't have sufficient manpower to run elections
MDC director of elections Remus Makuwaza said the involvement of youth
militia in the running of elections was highly irregular.<
"Considering what they
have come to be known for, the militia can't be
trusted with the running of elections. Their ability to help the ruling
party cannot be doubted," said Makuwaza.<
Although trained under the name of national service
allegedly to inculcate
patriotism, the Green Bombers have proved to be nothing but a Zanu PF tool
of coercion. During mass actions organised by the opposition MDC the militia
was unleashed on the public to violently to thwart dissent.
CSC beef export deal thrown into doubt
THE COLD Storage Company (CSC)'s US$15 million deal to export beef to
Malaysia is in trouble as Malaysian businessmen failed to turn up for a
final inspection of processing facilities, the Zimbabwe Independent has
The delegation of businesspeople was expected in the country last month for
a final look at the CSC's abattoirs before concluding the deal to export an
annual quota of 5 000 tonnes of beef.<
deal also faces a fresh set of problems after the outbreak of foot and
mouth on farms close to Harare.<
CSC acting chief executive officer Ngoni
Chinogaramombe last week travelled
to Malaysia in a bid to resuscitate the flagging export deal.<
Chinogaramombe confirmed the trip but could not
shed further light. He
promised to respond later to questions sent to him by the Independent a
However sources told this
newspaper that the sporadic outbreaks of the
contagious foot and mouth disease in the last two months was the main reason
for the non-appearance of the Malaysians.
More price controls spell disaster for producers
PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe last week outlined economic policy measures that he
said his government would soon adopt to arrest the current economic decline.
But analysts this week dismissed the proposals as mere political rhetoric
that lacked substance.
Addressing parliament, Mugabe said there was need to “adopt effective
measures to address the paradoxical situation whose destructive impact is
vividly illustrated by the impoverished condition of the common man”. He
said there were sectors performing well in the midst of economic decline.
To address the situation, Mugabe said his government would strengthen price
monitoring mechanisms while increasing capacity utilisation to make scarce
commodities readily available.
He also said government would deal with the fuel crisis by restructuring the
National Oil Company of Zimbabwe (Noczim) to compete with private oil
companies in the importation and distribution of fuel using a dual pricing
Government also intends to acquire a 25% stake in Hydro Cahora Bassa (HCB)
power station of Mozambique to alleviate the shortage of electricity.
To speed up land reform, a Land Acquisition Amendment Bill would effect
amendments to the principal act.
Mugabe said government would introduce an Indigenisation Bill to force
companies to allocate a 20% shareholding to their workers. He said
government was committed to the National Economic Revival Programme, which
was adopted in February this year.
But analysts said the proposals were Mugabe’s wish-list — similar to those
contained in the National Economic Recovery Programme — which would not
address the plethora of problems facing Zimbabwe. They said the measures
were devoid of substance.
University of Zimbabwe economic analyst Tony Hawkins said Mugabe’s speech
skirted the crisis by dramatising the problems without offering workable
“The speech failed to address the issue at the core of the crisis,” Hawkins
said. “It merely emphasised that Zimbabwe is in a crisis but there were no
solutions. It was one of those Mugabe speeches in which he commands
business. He did not offer any solutions.”
Hawkins said Mugabe’s populist rhetoric revealed the widening gulf between
government policy and reality.
“In fact government has failed to identify the problems and is therefore
groping in the dark,” he said.
Another analysts said Mugabe’s pronouncements on fuel would not guarantee
adequate supplies as they focused only on pricing instead of the sourcing of
He said for as long as there was no foreign currency to import fuel the
crisis would persist. Cheap fuel imported by government would continue to
find its way on to the black market the government was trying to kill.
He said there were also no clear parameters on what constituted the “public
sector” which would buy fuel at subsidised rates. This, he said, would leave
the scheme open to abuse by public officials.
Economic analyst John Robertson said the fuel crisis would remain with us
until government addresses issues of supply.
“There is nothing in Mugabe’s speech that will bring fuel to Zimbabwe,” he
said. “The biggest shortcoming is that Mugabe failed to address the issue of
fuel supply, which directly hinges on Zimbabwe’s export capacity.”
Robertson said Mugabe focused on the secondary issue of fuel distribution
instead of supply.
“It’s sad that Mugabe said nothing about the sourcing of fuel and it is this
omission that has caused misery in the country,” he said. “The availability
of fuel depends on our ability to export.”
Zimbabwe signed a US$360 million fuel deal with Libya two years but the deal
collapsed last year due to government’s inability to pay and supply
agricultural products as initially agreed. Before the deal was put in
abeyance, Libya supplied 70% of Zimbabwe’s fuel needs. Zimbabwe’s
agricultural production has plunged in recent years and government has
failed to supply tea, tobacco and horticultural products to Libya.
With major fuel companies — BP, Caltex, Mobil, Shell and Total — owning 90%
of fuel service stations in the country, it is doubtful whether government
has the capacity to distribute fuel efficiently.
Industry players dismissed the arrangement as a firefighting strategy that
would not resolve the fundamental causes of the fuel crisis.
Zimbabwe National Chamber of Commerce economist James Jowa said a dual
pricing system would only benefit top government officials and parastatals.
“Taxpayers are forced to subsidise fuel for parastatals which are already
making losses,” said Jowa.
“It’s a short-term solution because unless we can export to get foreign
currency we will remain in a fix,” he said.
The government has systematically destroyed the agricultural sector which
was the biggest foreign currency earner. Prior to the land grab Zimbabwe was
able to earn more than US$400 million from tobacco, flowers, fresh
vegetables, cotton, citrus, coffee, tea and timber.
The analysts said tightening price controls would not address the issue of
inflation. Mugabe remains a control freak while his Finance minister Herbert
Murerwa tries to implement workable policies. In his budget statement last
year, Murerwa said price controls were sabotaging companies and undermining
Jowa said widening price controls would be a disaster.
“If Mugabe’s comments are anything to go by then there is no future for
industry,” Jowa said. “Price controls have caused distortions in the market.
They have eroded investor confidence which is what Zimbabwe requires
Price controls were introduced in October last year purportedly to cushion
consumers against rising inflation. The move worsened shortages as
controlled commodities found their way on to a thriving black market. In
response to mounting pressure from producers, government made a U-turn and
decontrolled some products in May this year.
The manufacturing sector is expected to decline by 17,2% by year-end. At
least 500 companies have closed shop since last year while the
manufacturing sector is operating at below 60% of capacity.
Government says it wants to acquire a 25% stake in Hydro Cahora Bassa (HCB)
but has failed to rehabilitate local plants at Hwange and Kariba. Zimbabwe
owes regional power utilities US$110 million. Experts say at full capacity,
Kariba and Hwange power stations should be able to provide adequate power
for the whole nation.
Mugabe dropped a bombshell by indicating that interest rates should go down.
This is against advice from economists to raise interest rates to arrest
galloping inflation now hovering at 364,5%. Low interest rates have eroded
savings and threaten to push inflation to 400% by the end of next month.
The National Economic Revival Programme (Nerp) which Mugabe praised in his
speech now risks be-coming redundant due to delays in implementation. Under
Nerp government promised to remove price controls, devalue the dollar and
raise interest rates to cub inflation. None of that has been done.
The analysts also said the avalanche of bills due to be tabled in parliament
would divert MPs’ attention from debating issues of national importance.
“Mugabe’s problem has always been that of putting the cart before the horse.
Government is busy promulgating more laws while the nation starves. The
bills will not alleviate fuel and forex problems,” said one lawyer.
The problem, says Hawkins, is that government has failed to develop a
realistic framework for sustainable economic recovery. Since independence
government has been experimenting with unsustainable policies that are
steeped in command economics.
Cash crisis: Murerwa’s kindergarten joke
RESERVE Bank of Zimbabwe governor Leonard Tsumba must have seen what was
coming when he quit his cushy job in a huff to take early retirement.
Tsumba was fed up with lopsided policies foisted on his administration which
did not make economic sense.
At least he was man enough to throw in the towel when the kitchen got too
During Tsumba’s tenure the country’s inflation — the major cause of the
current cash crisis — has increased from 15,5% in 1990 to 22% in 1995,
necessitating the introduction of high bank note denominations — the $50
note in March 1994 and the $100 note in January 1995.
Very high inflation over the past decade has continued to significantly
erode the value of money in circulation in Zimbabwe. This has dramatically
increased the cost of supplying notes and coins. Not only was a 1990 dollar
worth only six cents in 2001, but annual budgetary provisions for the supply
of notes and coins increased over this period from $176,2 million in 1996 to
$846,6 million in 2000.
The surge in inflation to 64,4% by June 2001 further increased the public’s
demand for higher currency denominations and, therefore, more use of the
$100 note. The RBZ was forced to introduce the $500.
After this major decision Tsumba and his team of technocrats fell into a
deep slumber and conveniently forgot their job descriptions.
They forgot about the inflation monster, strict budgetary controls and, most
worrying, they allowed government to plunder the fiscus at will to feed its
insatiable appetite for funds.
This year inflation has steadily skyrocketed from 200% to 300,1% and to the
current 364,5% in June. Analysts predict it will hit 500% before the new
year and nobody is doing a thing to contain it.
The joke of the year came on Tuesday when Finance and Economic Development
minister Herbert Murerwa told Zimbabweans that in the next 60 days he would
be abolishing the $500 note and introducing a new one to coincide with a new
$1 000 note!
He said this would curtail the cash crisis that has resulted in individuals
queuing at banks and building societies from as early as 5:00 am daily for
withdrawals as little as $5 000.
Analysts said Murerwa threw a very bad kindergarten joke because by October
inflation would have galloped to at least 400%. This would increase demand
for money to buy basic commodities, now only available on the parallel
The high frequency of circulation is also attributable to rising domestic
prices. Government only pays lip service to price controls. Businesses now
charge whatever they want for commodities.
These are uncertain times and because of the rampant inflation individuals
would rather have their cash so that whenever they come across something
they need they buy it immediately.
Bankers say we need $10 000 notes now. If we need to keep the mint busy, we
should now have coins for the $10, $20, $50 and $100 denominations.
Tsumba told this newspaper that in an environment of hyperinflation the
tendency was for the economy to transact on a cash basis. He said the
transacting public would, therefore, hoard currency at home as opposed to
depositing it in the banking system.
He said rates of return on money deposits were too low relative to
inflation. There is need for higher deposit rates to encourage the public to
hold their money balances in banks as opposed to under mattresses.
Tsumba said the solution to the currency crisis was to bring economic
certainty by reducing inflation through stabilisation of inflationary
As long as inflation is not checked printing more money will not solve the
cash crisis. In short, Murerwa’s solution is merely a statement which those
who are hoarding money will treat as a joke — which is what it is.
President’s speech out of touch with reality
LAST week President Mugabe delivered an address on the occasion of the
opening of the Fourth Session of the Fifth Parliament of Zimbabwe. Insofar
as that address focused upon the Zimbabwean economy, it was so pronouncedly
detached from reality that the presidential speech-writer should be
unceremoniously discharged, as should all those in the various ministries of
government as they must have misinformed that speech-writer to an almost
At an early stage of the address, Mugabe said, in reference to Zimbabwe’s
land reform programme, that “the fast track phase .... is largely concluded
and has so far yielded tangible benefits to the vast majority of our people.
There is a new sense of empowerment .... which has brought thousands upon
thousands of hitherto marginalised families back into the economic
mainstream”. He said that “the land reform programme has so far yielded
tangible benefits to the vast majority of our people”.
How on earth can such statements be reconciled with the fact that the 2002/3
tobacco crop is about 30% of that previously attained, the maize crop
approximates 10% of national requirement and the current winter wheat crop
is expected to be, at best, 20% of that of prior years, and the national
herd has dwindled to minimal levels? And how can such a statement be
credibly reconciled with the fact that an estimated three-quarters of the
Zimbabwean population struggle for survival at levels below the poverty
datum line, while almost half of the population barely exists below the food
The contention of tangible benefits to a vast majority of Zimbabweans is
devoid of credibility when hundreds of thousands are suffering gross
malnutrition and increasing starvation is the order of the day. And that
contention is irreconcilable with Zimbabwe’s recent, desperate appeal to the
international community to continue and increase the provision of
humanitarian food aid.
The presidential address alleged that “economic revival has often been drawn
back by the shortage of foreign currency owing to depressed economic
activity” and suggested that while there were various contributory factors
to this circumstance, “a combination of the drought and sanctions has
generally created an adverse climate for business”. While there is substance
to the reference to a lack of foreign exchange, the depressed economic
activity was not attributed to the major causes thereof.
Sanctions have had a insignificant impact, for Zimbabwe is subjected only to
“targetted” sanctions comprising, in the main, restrictions upon travel by
the ruling party hierarchy and senior civil servants and constraints upon
such persons’ foreign assets. Virtually no trade sanctions exist other than
that Zimbabwe has not been accorded participation in the Agoa programme of
the US for textile and clothing manufacturers in Africa.
And drought had a very limited effect, for very few crops were even planted
due to the far-reaching victimisation of commercial farmers, the lack of
inputs for small-scale, newly settled farmers, and inactivity of many
nepotistically created A2 “farmers”. Instead, the depressed economic
activity is primarily attri-butable to ill-conceived and disastro-us
economic policies, an a sence of law and order, gross hyperinfla- tion
primarily created by govern-ment’s fiscal profligacy and econo-mic
mismanagement, wide-spreadcorruption and the governmentally-created
unconduceive investment environment.
The address pondered upon “a paradoxical situation where some companies and
institutions are doing very well in an economy that officially is in
decline”, making especial reference to the fact that “while other companies
falter, several continue to record healthy balance sheets and proceed to
declare high dividends to their shareholders. This is most apparent in the
Obviously, the speech-writer was unaware that although some enterprises,
including many in the financial sector, have achieved marked profit growth
in historical terms, virtually none of them have done so when their
financial statements have been adjusted to account for hyperinflation.
Almost without exception, profits have declined in real terms, and in very
many instances the decline has been marked. Moreover, the speech-writer is
evidently unaware that profit evaluation can only be meaningful if the
extent of the profit is related to the quantum of capital employed and the
magnitude of risk attaching to the enterprise’s operation. In an unstable,
lawless and hyperinflationary economy, the financial sector’s levels of risk
are magnified and should be compensated for by enhanced real earnings. For
almost all, this is not the case. And similarly, the allegedly “high
dividends” are not as great as they appear to be, if realigned with the
change in purchasing power of those dividends.
The address then referred to yet another supposed paradox, being that “basic
goods disappear only to re-appear once the magic wand of high prices is
waved”. Why is it so incomprehensible that if prices are pitched at levels
which do not cover the cost of goods, and which do not enable recovery of
operating overheads, businesses cannot afford to manufacture, produce or
sell the goods, but if prices are raised to realistic levels which do cover
those costs and overheads, and enable a fair profit to be achieved on
capital employed, then the goods can be offered for sale?
The partial remedy to the shortages of goods contemplated in the address was
that: “There is need to strengthen price monitoring mechanisms while
simultaneously encouraging companies to increase their capacity utilisation
in order to get more goods at affordable prices.”
Increased productivity is a valid methodology for price escalation
containment, but price controls and monitoring of prices and restraints on
those prices is not. They only result in business failures, product
shortages, unemployment and numerous other economic ills. Over and above
maximised productivity, the only effective way of achieving lowering of
prices is by stimulating and facilitating competition. Deregulation, not
regulation, is a fundamental requirement for economic well-being.
Not satisfied with the extent that it has progressively discouraged
investment in private sector enterprise and the extent that it has destroyed
the economy, government is obviously set upon doing so yet further. The
address recorded that “government will intensify the indigenisation
programme by enacting an Indigenisation Bill and ensuring that companies
allocate a minimum 20% shareholding to their workers”.
The address was silent on the intended modalities to be applied, but few
investors will view investment favourably if they are immediately placed in
a situation of a one-fifth loss of their investment. Domestic investors will
simply not invest, while foreign investors will direct their investment to
other countries with a less regulated and less oppressive investment
environment. Indigenised economic empowerment is not only very necessary and
to be encouraged but it must be motivated on a basis of merit and equity,
aligned with commercial realities.
Moreover, detailed proposals for Employee Share Ownership Programmes
formulated from in-depth international and national research, to be
implemented constructively, prepared at the instance and cost of
well-intentioned international donors, were developed at least five years
ago, and have been languishing on the desks and in the corridors of
government since then. Instead of considering them and their constructive
advantages, government once again intends to resort to dictatorial,
heavy-handed regulation. It seems that whenever it has the alternatives of
constructive and destructive actions, it resorts to the latter, undoubtedly
due to perceptions of attaining political advantage, and discrimination
against racial minorities.
Yet a further absence of realism was shown by a statement that: “Interest
rates will have to come down through decisive intervention designed to
recharge this economy in ways that encourage real wealth generation as
opposed to speculative wealth.” Although there is some merit, in a
distressed economy, for programmes of funds provision for increased
productive activity, export generation and facilitation, and to enable
establishment of small and medium scale enterprises, any “across the board”
lowering of interest rates is economically disastrous if pursued in a
Low interest rates other than for productivity, export and investment
purposes encourage excessive spending, thereby further fuelling inflation
and its concomitant economic and social ill-effects. Regrettably, the
speech-writer appears to have no understanding of fundamental economic
Hopefully MPs will, in the course of debate on the address, oppose proposals
which will drive Zimbabwe’s economy down to still deeper depths and to urge
government, even if very belatedly, to resort to constructive economic
It’s time to get sober again
WE were not surprised by the Sunday Mail’s political clown, Munyaradzi Huni’
s reaction to MDC MPs’ presence during President Mugabe’s address to
parliament last week. He found himself wrong-footed and didn’t know whether
to attack or congratulate them. The best he managed to do was to call them
“prodigal sons”. But the parable could not be sustained further than that
because he couldn’t find the bountiful father to kill the fatted calf and
clothe the children in purple robes. The father, by some twist of irony, has
himself squandered all the largesse that independence promised.
Huni also tried to lecture the media on what they should do to help heal
Zimbabwe’s wounds, all savagely inflicted by Zanu PF. “Journalists and other
writers should also start getting sober,” wrote Huni. “I can’t wait to see a
headline in the Daily News or even the Zimbabwe Independent saying
‘Tsvangirai denounces Blair’ or ‘MDC hails Mugabe’.” Sure, Huni has a lot of
waiting to do. Everybody knows words like “hail” and “denounce” belong to
the state media. Why should Tsvangirai denounce Tony Blair when we know all
our problems are home-grown? It’s a pity that while Huni tries to tell the
media how they should handle the issue of talks between Zanu PF and the MDC,
he lacks the moral courage to tell his party that scapegoating won’t get the
country out of its multitude of problems.
But the truth does force its way out of subterfuge. With the MDC having
started to narrow the political divide, warned Huni, the government’s work
has only just begun. “There will be noone to blame for failing to revive the
economy, noone to shield corruption and noone to shield inefficiency and
incompetence. If they (government) fail to make life better for the ordinary
person, people will ask them who next they will be blaming and if they don’t
provide satisfactory answers, people will answer them through the ballot
For all his clowning at least Huni admits the truth about the corruption and
incompetence of government. The MDC is merely a lightning rod to protect
the real culprits!
Huni omitted to tell us that Tony Blair was the cause of the current bank
notes shortages. It’s time to get sober again.
It’s hard to defend President Mugabe against charges of living in
cloud-cuckoo-land. Last week he praised police officers during a passout
parade at Morris Depot, telling them the birth of the ZRP in 1980 signalled
the “end of the heartless colonial system”.
“The Zimbabwe Republic Police, as protectors of a once dispossessed people,
should not dither in its support for government and the administration of
the laws of the country,” he said.
While this charade was going on, police in Bulawayo were beating senseless a
group of elderly women, including a 70-year-old granny, for protesting
against the draconian Posa, according to the Daily News. The behaviour of
the police doesn’t convey the image of a force out to “protect” people. It
is more heartless than the BSAP that it replaced and doesn’t appear to have
a charter on human rights.
Mugabe also complained about the increase in the crime rate across the
country because of rising unemployment and poverty. He said this posed a
great challenge to the police. Far from it, the police spend much of their
time harassing peaceful protesters than dealing with criminals. The biggest
challenge they face is refocusing their responsibility towards fighting
crime instead of pursuing a partisan political agenda.
It is a tragic irony that the women were beaten and then arrested under the
same law which they were protesting. If peaceful protests have become a
crime, what options do people have?
Media and Information Commission head, that communist relic Tafataona
Mahoso, claimed last week he had salutary lessons from his encounter with
two Kenyan “officials”. The officials told him that the quality of
journalism and the state of public information deteriorates with the
proliferation of publications in any country.
“The more the quality of journalism and public information deteriorated in
an African country in terms of the interests of Africa”, wrote Mahoso in the
Sunday Mail, “the more that country was likely to be showered with praises
from Western media and their governments. In the end, that African country
being praised by imperialist media for its free-for-all media policies, is
indirectly undermining itself and its own people by allowing itself to be
used as a base for propaganda assaults on African aspirations and
We would dismiss Mahoso’s tendentious theory as a harmless part of free
debate were it not for his self-important position as head of a commission
that was set up ostensibly to promote media diversity. What Muckraker finds
worrisome is that he is also a media trainer who preaches pernicious
What does he teach his students? That a story should be based on only one
source; that an essay should be based on only one book; that only Zanu PF
has answers to all our problems? How does the nation benefit from state
monopoly over the TV and all four radio stations where the public has no
input? Is Mahoso telling us it was correct public information when
Agriculture minister Joseph Made lied last year that the country was headed
for a bumper harvest when in fact production was at an all-time low?
Mahoso would still walk around with his head held high if thousands of our
people had starved to death as happened in Ethiopia in 1984 without the
world knowing. The unpalatable truth for Mahoso is the so-called washing our
dirt linen in public. The exposition of the VIP housing scandal, the looting
of the War Victims Compensation Fund and the corruption that has attended
the so-called land reform by the privately-owned media are all seen by
Mahoso as “propaganda assaults on African aspirations and Pan-African
initiatives”! We are happy to have it from the horse’s mouth that corruption
and theft are in fact seen in official circles as positive initiatives.
No doubt Mahoso sees the proposed Anti-Corruption Commission as another
imperialist assault on Africans!Why does Mahoso want such corrupt activities
to be hidden away from scrutiny when they involve public resources? Not that
we expect anything better from a man who spent almost 12 years in America
but has nothing to show for it. His employer Jonathan Moyo would be happy to
read about the perils of media diversity. His mishandling of funds at Ford
Foundation was exposed courtesy of the private media.
Gutu South Zanu PF MP Shuvai Mahofa needs to know better the limits of her
“private life”. When the story of her love affair with Major Mike Madombwe
first appeared in the papers, the bone of contention was adultery. She may
have two husbands dead but Madombwe is reportedly still married to another
woman. While Madombwe is relatively unknown, the same cannot be said of
Mahofa. Mahofa is an honourable member. Her life should be honourable in and
outside the House.
“Am I not a woman like any other woman?” complained Mahofa in an interview
with the Herald. Of course not. Not every widow of her age moves around
taking other women’s husbands.
Is it ethical for ZBC’s Newshour to go public about other people’s salaries
against their will? On Monday this week the ZBC went to town about Harare
council acting mayor Sekesai Makwavarara being paid only 10% of her salary.
They claimed all this was because of confusion about whether or not she
should be paid the suspended mayor’s salary. But it soon emerged that
Makwavarara had been overpaid in the past two months and council was only
claiming what was due to it. Despite the acting mayor protesting that the
salary issue was a private affair, the ZBC went ahead anyway and paraded her
payslip on the screen for everybody who cared to see it. Where is Mahoso and
his “protection of privacy” Act? Selective application of the law, we
Muckraker couldn’t at first understand government’s sudden interest in
soccer. Now we know. It is in part because President Mugabe loves football
and is a keen follower of the sport, we were told.
“My wife knows and always complains that each time I watch soccer I make a
lot of noise because I truly enjoy the game,” said Mugabe.
The reason is of course the need to be associated with at least one
successful project that has popular support nationwide. One good lesson for
Mugabe is that when something is popular you don’t have to use Green Bombers
and war veterans to win support. You don’t have to live with the stigma of
stealing an election if people still love you. In fact, you avoid stomach
and headaches if you and the people are pulling in the same direction. Great
political lesson from soccer.
Major shake-up looms at RBZ
A TOP management restructuring is looming at the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe
currently facing nightmares over cash shortages.
Highly-placed sources said a number of top officials were poised to be
elevated while others had indicated their intention to leave the central
"There is going to be a
reshuffle in the next few weeks in preparation for
the appointment of a substantive governor," a source said yesterday.
The move comes at a time when the RBZ is battling with a cash crisis that is
threatening to sink the ailing economy.<
The restructuring has been on the cards since RBZ
governor Leonard Tsumba's
early departure from the central bank last month.<
It is reliably understood that the shake-up also comes with
blessing of President Robert Mugabe.<
Addressing a recent
rally Mugabe said he was going to see to it that there
were far-reaching personnel reforms at the central bank to suit government
"The RBZ has people who do not respect the law,"
Mugabe said after hearing
bitter complaints from a group of chiefs. "We want to put our own people,
who respect our law and regulations."<
Sources at the central bank said the Minister of
Finance and Economic
Development Herbert Murerwa and senior management at the central bank would
soon meet to iron out simmering problems at the RBZ.<
"The meeting is definitely taking place and will certainly be
chaired by the
Minister of Finance and Economic Development," the source said. "There is no
doubt that the meeting will take place soon."<
The meeting dates are yet to be announced.<
responded to questions sent to him on Wednesday this week. Yesterday he was
said to be in constant closed-door meetings.<
Chikaura is one of the favourites to land the governor's post.<
However a senior
official in the legal affairs department dismissed
"There is nothing like that. There is no meeting
taking place and no
restructuring has been planned," said an official in the legal section.<
As the search for the substantive governor enters the
investigations have revealed that a number of top bankers in Zimbabwe have
turned down the offer from government to take over the hot seat after
Some said the package was "peanuts" while
others alleged that there was too
much government intervention at the RBZ.<
It is also reliably understood that the restructuring could also
Murerwa could not be reached for comment
Claim your democratic rights
I WOULD like to know what achievements have been made by this government
over the last 23 years.
Sit down quietly and think about it.<
The man who has
"degrees" in violence - what has he done for the country and
its people? How better off are you today than you were 20 odd years ago?
Think about it.<
How many of you have lost dear ones in the last 20 odd years? How
Are you so bitter that you live in fear as a coward
because you are bullied?
Think about it.<
For how long are you
prepared to wait for change in your life? Waiting for
the MDC to put it right, waiting until you starve to death, waiting for
President George Bush and Prime Minister Tony Blair to save us?<
Brothers and sisters you
are waiting in vain and will continue to be
dictated to by this government until the day you die unless you unite and
claim your democratic rights as Zimbabweans, whether you are black, blue,
pink or yellow. Think about it.<
This old man and his thugs are laughing all the way to their
local banks because we are a stupid educated lot. Think about it.
God bless Zimbabwe.<
Back to barter
SIGNS of a very bad omen have been with us for a long time. Although I am
not given to superstition, it is, I think, a sign of serious trouble ahead
when a nation runs out of something as basic as salt.
You see, salt - just like water and money - is a commodity that all too
often we take for granted in the cities. Not without reason.<
We pay people to take
care of these things while we do our best to give them
a product we think they need.<
Not so in Zimbabwe anymore and this is where we are a
unique people. Last
year Zimbabwe ran out of salt for some weeks. It made strange news, but it
was the briefest shortage of any commodity in the long list. Now almost
everything that matters in our daily lives is in short supply except
newspapers. To the best of my knowledge, newspapers are still the only
product that you don't have to search for on the ubiquitous black market.
Every street corner of Harare has piles of newspapers from which you can
take your pick - provided you have the money.<
be a problem for you. People say the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe is
to blame for currency shortages. I don't buy that in the least. That foreign
currency dealers are the problem. No, you are wrong again. It certainly must
be big retail shops and illegal gold buyers who are the problem!<
still wrong. In fact I don't care who has how much cash stashed in
some underground hole. The problem lies squarely with a government in which
all people have lost faith. Whichever way you look at it, the problem at the
end of the day is about reckless mismanagement. The shortage of money is
linked to a host of other problems including inflation.<
reached untenable levels. Prices of goods are soaring daily as
if we have no government. Scarcities have become a normal way of life and
nobody in government seems to have a solution. People are forced to carry
money in satchels in case they find something to buy. Nobody is beholden to
the government for anything except forced taxation.<
the system of unaccountability when it raided treasury to
pay war veterans an unbudgeted $4 billion in 1997. That single deed set our
currency on a roller coaster to which nobody has been able to find the
Oblivious of the crisis it had set in motion,
government in 1998 granted
itself licence again to intervene in a foreign war in defence of an
unelected power usurper in Congo jungle. While this was calculated to be a
swift victory that would lift President Robert Mugabe's regional stature and
divert attention from his failure back home, it turned out to be a costly
affair that would drag on for a good four years. We are still smarting from
that hurt with nothing to show for it.<
still ask what largesse our soldiers brought back from the Congo?
More inflation that has all but killed the formal banking system. Despite
talk of opening business opportunities in the DRC, nothing is happening that
is worth the name. It was the same thing with Mozambique earlier on. And the
economy is bleeding.<
The government's land reform programme was the last
straw. It has killed the
goose that lays the golden egg - our famed tobacco exports. Government has
been forced to import food, fuel and electricity at a time when its forex
receipts are at an all-time low. Even exporting companies are finding it
hard to survive because most of their earnings are forcibly taken away from
them. At least 400 companies have closed shop altogether since the start of
the land reform, forcing thousands of workers on to the streets.<
All this does not seem to make sense to a government that is
to consultation outside of its moribund politburo. You could say people are
hoarding cash. Of course they are because government cannot guarantee that
they will get their money from banks whenever they need it. It is survival
of the fittest crook out there. Anyone who has something to sell calls the
colour of your money.<
It is easy for those in government
to advise people to use plastic money
because they are not directly affected themselves. You can't use plastic
money to pay for your bus fare even in a Zupco bus, nor can you use it to
buy milk and bread.<
supermarkets plastic money is driving the poorly-paid into debt because
they are forced to buy things they don't need, to get some cash to pay for
electricity, water and rent. The government has to fully execute its duties
of giving people their money. This time around it is not likely to get away
with excuses about Tony Blair and other imperialists.<
government is in the habit of telling all - from churches to business -
to get out of its way when the going is good and asks what is happening when
things get tough. It still has to learn the elementary lesson that the role
of any government worth the name is simply to lay a general legal framework
and leave business to create jobs and wealth.<
Mugabe did allude to speculative investments in the economy during
his opening address to parliament last week. We certainly can't rule out
greedy in as much as we can't completely eradicate corruption and crime in
any society. There are daily murders in South Africa and the problem of guns
in the US, but these things don't ruin an economy so long as people have
faith in the system.<
Less than two months after the Twin Towers at World
Trade Centre were
destroyed the US financial system was roaring at full steam. US citizens
didn't escape to England or Europe despite fears of further attacks. They
carried their country's flag high. By contrast, the government in Zimbabwe
has destroyed faith in every public institution and nobody has confidence
that things will get back to normal any time soon.<
A friend who travelled to Kariba over the weekend tells me he
found a shop
in the Makute area stacked with different commodities from maize to cotton.
When he enquired why he was told people who couldn't get money from banks
were bartering their farm produce for groceries, clothes and even blankets
they didn't need. It's back to a barter economy.<
Polo was ecstatic in 1275 when he visited China and saw for the first
time people using paper money: "I tell you that people are glad to take
these tokens, because wherever they go in the empire of the great Khan, they
can use them to buy and sell as if they were pure gold."<
those tokens are as scarce as good governance in Zimbabwe. And
that is where all our problems emanate from.
Mugabe's management by chaos tactics working well
By Chido Makunike
OVER the last weeks we have seen frustrated customers unable to access their
money almost engage in violence outside numerous banks all over the country.
Many homes went without food and other essentials not because of their
expense but because they could not access cash.
Many people, informal traders, those residing in rural areas and many of the
lowest paid do not have bank accounts and depend on being able to transact
exclusively in cash.<
They obviously are particularly hard
hit by the bank notes shortage. I
wonder how they are getting by.<
We have arrived at yet another month-end when most people get
several months after this latest and amazing example of how the priorities
of the regime of President Robert Mugabe and the welfare of Zimbabweans do
not intersect at all. Yet there is no end in sight to the problem. Just like
the fuel crisis that first began several years ago, we have watched the
government simply sit by and let a huge problem get worse.<
Finance minister Herbert Murerwa has indicated that $24
billion of new notes
has been introduced into the system in the last few weeks, but there is
little sign of it. If the "assurances" we got during the first few months of
the fuel crisis are anything to go by, this could very well be an outright
lie by the minister. It could also be just a fraction of what is required.
Either way, it shows a government completely out of its depth.<
One imagines panicked govern-ment ministers and other
consultations and running around looking for urgent solutions to the bank
notes shortage. But is this image a correct reflection of the Mugabe
regime's reaction to this latest crisis? Are they worried about it at all?
Logically, one would think they would have to be.<
may as a people be too chicken to tell Mugabe off when he infringes on
our constitutional rights as he has been doing for years. But surely even a
despot who delights in any opportunity to display his brutality must know
his victims have their limits? Even if we allow our political freedoms to be
eroded over the years, surely depriving the happy-go-lucky Zimbabwean of his
own cash to entertainment over a month-end weekend is pushing him too far?<
It would seem logical not to mess with the sentiments of a
mother who needs
to get cash to feed her children. Even an incompetent dictator would see
that all this can only further alienate him from his subjects in dangerous
ways, would he not? The rage one could almost feel in the cash queues, of a
ferocity quite different from the good-natured banter of the fuel queues,
has not endeared an already unpopular government to a tired populace.
This latest example of government's incompetence and lack of concern about
the welfare of Zimbabweans may not lead to Mugabe's toppling but it
certainly increases the cost of suppressing the people.<
praetorian guard has to be on full time alert now, the Israeli water
cannons are required to use more of the diesel that is in short supply, the
CIO must work harder to report back what people are saying.<
foregoing, it would seem to make sense to believe that urgently
fixing this latest of many crises would be a top priority.<
Not necessarily. The
very fact that we have lived with a worsening notes
shortage for months now suggests there is no particular rush to deal with
the problem. In the early days (or early years) of the fuel shortage Mugabe
and his ministers were quite clearly worried about its effects on their
standing with the people, even if they did not give a damn about the
economic consequences. Statements would regularly be issued, even if they
were lies most of the time, delegations to oil producing countries would
regularly be sent; then Energy minister Enos Chikowore, as useless and dull
as today's Amos Midzi, was fired.<
Have you noticed that there is no such sign of hyper-activity
notes shortage that arguably affects even more people immediately and
desperately than the fuel problem? The aloof Mugabe has not seen it fit to
comment on this latest problem at all. Cowardly central bank officials are
in hiding. Murerwa has nothing to say.<
I had to laugh when the
government propaganda services claimed people were
calling on him to fire central bank officials. How can a minister who
himself should have long been fired be passing the buck now? And who can
fire him when the president himself is useless and should be fired? The
whole lot should go, starting with and especially the president if we are to
get any relief from the chaos that is now creeping into all aspects of life.<
Which brings me to my
central thesis. These may all be signs of a regime
whose time is up and which no longer has the ability, courage and desire to
solve all these ballooning problems, but it may also reflect a more cynical
reality. Until the final collapse happens, the present chaos serves the
regime's purposes very well.<
Government ministers and cronies can continue benefiting from
in foreign currency, fuel, maize, gold and now even local currency.
Assets are continually being stripped for the inevitable day when it must
all crumble. The citizens are too tired, confused and hungry to know or care
too much about all these crimes that seem distant to their immediate needs
for food, cash and fuel.<
The desperation spawned
by the chaos has caused splits in the ranks of the
opposition, as everyone does what they think they must for their personal
survival in a shrinking economy, including selling out their party
colleagues. Government critics are softened up with inducements to join the
corrupt rulers or tone down their rhetoric.<
The rulers may know that none of this can go on
indefinitely, but it
certainly gives them a lot of breathing space. It may also ensure that when
the final collapse takes place a lot more damage would have been done, the
collapse may be bloody and violent, and the reconstruction harder and
longer, but they would have bought a certain amount of security locally and
abroad that it will be impossible for a new dispensation to completely
It may therefore not just be
the usual incompetence and cynical "we don't
care" of the Mugabe regime. It may also be a deliberate tactic of management
by chaos. Once again with the notes shortage, as with the fuel and other
crises, the score is the Mugabe regime 1, Zimbabwe 0.
l Makunike is a Harare-based writer.
Zim - is this the turning point?
By Obediah Mazombwe
LAST week President Robert Mugabe sent out two very encouraging signals
regarding the crisis facing Zimbabwe. Should these signals be a reflection
of his adopted approach to the Zimbabwean crisis, then we all have good
reason to be more hopeful about our country's future.
It still remains to be seen whether this is indeed so.<
First, the president is
reported to have called for mutual acknowledgement
of each other's right to exist by both the ruling Zanu PF and the opposition
MDC. The opposition party should listen to what Zanu PF is trying to say;
likewise the ruling party should listen to what the MDC has to say, the
president is reported to have told guests, including opposition MDC
legislators, at a luncheon last week.<
Do I catch a glimpse of an elderly African statesman here?
Until now the
official Zanu PF position has been that the MDC is nothing but a puppet of
the West and a front for Rhodesian and western interests in Zimbabwe.
Even as the MDC won almost half of the elected seats in parliament, and
fought a close battle for the state presidency, Mugabe insisted that the
opposition represented no Zimbabwean interests.<
If indeed the above statement has been correctly
attributed to the president
then the major hurdle to a home-grown solution to our crisis has been
overcome. This is a greater victory than the Zimbabwe Warriors'
qualification for Tunisia. Let us organise ourselves and move forward
without any unnecessary delay. One can already imagine the smiling faces of
happy Zimbabweans all over this beautiful land.<
second signal has been the president's willingness to meet with the
church group led by Bishop Sebastian Bakare. That group, although
meticulously objective in its assessment of the Zimbabwean crisis, has
nevertheless not minced its words on the culpability of the Zanu PF
government and its role in causing so much suffering among the Zimbabwean
Mugabe's willingness to meet with, and listen to, persons who have
been clearly and loudly critical of his policies and actions is indeed
laudable. Mugabe seems eager to live to his word that he can accept and deal
with opposition that he is convinced is wholly Zimbabwean and is not
inspired by external interests that are irreconciliable with what is good
for the generality of Zimbabweans.<
Those of us who were tempted to classify
Mugabe with despots like Idi Amin,
and others of that ilk, may be forced to eat our own words yet. There seems
to still exist some scope for this man to leave behind a defendable legacy
for Zimbabwe in spite of all the "moments of madness" of the past.<
The two signals are critical because until now
one major problem holding
Zimbabwe back has been the criminalisation of all organised opposition
politics since 1980. Zanu PF has drilled its members to treat opposition
party members as dogs and common criminals. The resultant human suffering is
If Mugabe is serious about the
approach he hinted at last week, he needs to
move rapidly to decriminalise all opposition politics, as long as it is
inspired by genuine aspirations of Zimbabweans. He needs to go on national
television and radio and announce to Zanu PF followers that members of the
opposition MDC are not enemies of the state. They are fellow citizens who
simply see things differently from the way Zanu PF sees them.<
Mugabe must tell all citizens that people of
different political opinion
need not eliminate each other. Like our fathers of old they must fight with
words and argument.<
would argue endlessly, throwing in proverb after proverb to
buttress their positions, until consensus was reached by adopting the
position most convincingly argued for. Successful deployment of the word,
idiom and proverb constituted a large part of our hunhu/ubuntu. Not a drop
of blood was shed and members of the dare emerged from such palavers more
united than before.<
Empowering all Zimbabweans across the board is the most
effective way of
assuring Zimbabwe's sovereignty which Mugabe seems so overwhelmingly
Once there is open contestation
of all Zimbabweans' ideas and strategies
relating to their country, Mugabe will be pleasantly surprised to find that
it is long past the hour when Zimbabweans would allow anybody to sell the
country to America, or Britain or even to Libya.<
One hopes the signals we have witnessed of late
indicate a genuine
preparedness by the chief architect of present-day Zimbabwe to
constructively intercourse with indigenous critics regarding the future of
As Zimbabwe ponders the form that a
national inter-party debate to chart the
best way out of our crisis should take, the opposition MDC needs to make
some rapid adjustments. Otherwise what we might need is an all stakeholders'
conference bringing together the major political parties as well as leaders
of various civic groups. This is instead of a one on one conference between
Zanu PF and the MDC.<
The MDC is
now a major block in the political history of Zimbabwe. The party
has played a monumental role in successfully challenging the hegemony of the
ruling Zanu PF. However, the MDC still remains hazy as to what it really
The party has not built any character beyond general claims of
job creation, good governance, human rights, corruption-free management of
resources, economic justice and the like.<
Conspicuous by its absence is a well-articulated set of values
principles or an ideology that will drive the party's policies and
programmes. The party needs to articulate an ideology that will hold its
members together and give the party focus beyond election day.<
Again the absence of the faintest hint of nationalist or
sentiment in the MDC's rhetoric and general outlook is worrisome.<
The nature of the problems faced by Zimbabwe and Africa,
historically, makes it imperative that any African political party worthy
the name be firmly anchored in some form of pan-Africanism.<
In any case MDC pundits seem to be aware of this
deficiency and have
attributed it to a conscious decision to first dislodge the current
government then attend to such matters later.<
now obvious that the MDC needs to attend to these matters now in order
to enhance its credibility on the domestic scene, on the continent and
The party also needs a sound and firm ideological
basis from which to engage
Zanu PF's political sharks.<
In the past
Zanu PF tried to slaughter a "rogue" political bull and was
unsuccessful for a while. Then the ruling party simply stepped aside, paused
a moment, then proceeded to swallow the whole and live bull. It swallowed
its horns and all.<
Zanu PF is capable of simply swallowing the MDC and leave us all
what happened and what the fuss was really all about after all.
Obediah Mazombwe is a lecturer in Languages, Literature and Media Studies at
the Zimbabwe Open University.
Pressure mounts on Zimbabwe to print more money
August 01, 2003, 18:45<
mounting on the Zimbabwean government to print more
money notes as the economic crisis worsens in that country. The Zimbabwean
Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) has given President Mugabe's government 14
days to print money or face rolling mass action.
The South Congress of Trade Unions (Cosatu) has vowed to support
the workers of Zimbabwe. The inflation rate stands at about 365%. The
unemployment rate is estimated at about 80% and more job losses are
The ZCTU has called on all South African workers to put pressure
on Zimbabwe for a new democratic order. Lovemore Matombo, the ZCTU
president, said: "We are saying they have to print the money and we have
given them 14 days and we expect Cosatu through and through to support us
because what we know for certain is once we start that action we are going
to be abused by the government."
Michael Makwayiba, of Cosatu, said: "We cannot have a diplomacy
that is quiet when workers are being abused. Evidently human abuses in
Zimbabwe everyone can see and time and time again, Cosatu will stand tall
and condemn those."
The solidarity pledge follows a week long series of meetings
facilitated by the Institute of Democracy in South Africa (Idasa) aimed at a
peaceful political settlement in Zimbabwe.
Zimbabwe's cash problems worsen
August 01, 2003, 15:15<
Zimbabwe's cash problems are worsening by
the day with millions
of people failing to access their salaries for this month. As the economic
crisis situation worsens, thousands are waking up as early as 5am to join
queues for cash in the country's major towns and cities.
The government has been advising its people to remain steadfast
in its television advertisements. The people are finding the cash crisis
unbearable. Banks are failing to cope and ATMs have nothing for its
The Central bank has been accused of failing to print more
money. The total amount in circulation 12 months ago was R1.3 billion.
Inflation went up to 365% and prices of most goods and services 100%.
Economists say R2 billion should be printed
The cash crisis has led to the development of an informal
banking market with many calling for heads to roll at the central bank. But
others insist the same should happen within the government.
Sources say it will not be until November before the government
injects more money in the market, however, economists say that will not be
the solution as it will fuel more fire to the burning inflation inferno.
Mail and Guardian
Cosatu official calls for sanctions against Mugabe
01 August 2003 16:17
A Western Cape Congress of South African Trade Union (Cosatu) official who
met leaders of the Zimbabwean trade union movement in the Cape Town on
Friday says President Robert Mugabe's time as head of his state should end.
Cosatu Western Cape regional secretary Tony Ehrenreich has also called on
the South African government to impose sanctions as a tool to end the unjust
government in the neighbouring country and to end President Thabo Mbeki's
silent diplomacy in dealing with the Zimbabwe government.
He said: "Robert Mugabe himself is a man whose time has come; he must leave
politics. If you are using the machinery of state to defend your own
position then you are no longer driven by the best interests of your
Ehrenreich was speaking at a press conference on Friday afternoon after
meeting Lovemore Matombo, president of the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade
Unions -- who was eliciting support for his union federation's action to
demand that his government sort out the current financial crisis in his
country in two weeks.
Ehrenreich said: "While many of us understand the battle against
colonialism, what is unfolding in Zimbabwe now is having a more negative
effect ... 350 000 workers have been displaced on farms. We want to make
calls on the South African government to start applying pressure on the
"We sell fuel and a number of materials to Zimbabwe; we must start applying
pressure. Sanctions was a tool used to end apartheid [in South Africa], it
must be used to end other unjust forms of rule [in Zimbabwe]".
Referring to Mbeki's silent diplomacy, he said: The time for quiet diplomacy
in the face of human rights abuses are past. We can't be quiet when women
are raped and men of the country are being killed."
Matombo indicated that his trade union was against talks on forming a
government of unity between Zimbabwe’s ruling Zanu-PF and the opposition
Movement for Democratic Change. He said his people wanted an election and a
Constitution which protected the rights of workers.
They particularly did not want to see the imposition of International
Monetary Fund and World Bank structural adjustment policies being imposed on
any new administration in the country, he said.
Asked if he expected a change of government in Zimbabwe, Matombo said: "The
conditions in Zimbabwe suggest a change of government; those conditions seem
to have ripened. We see that there is likely to be a change ...but if the
current president leaves that is a change of government, isn't it? It can be
Zanu [staying in the administration] and be a change of government [without
Mugabe]." - I-Net Bridge
Zimbabwe's justice minister slams clergy
August 01 2003 at 05:13AM<
Harare - Zimbabwe's justice minister has lashed out at
trying to restart talks between the ruling and opposition parties.
This has dashed hopes for a joint effort to end the nation's political and
Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa accused Anglican Bishop Sebastian Bakare,
head of the three-member church mediation group, of belonging to the
opposition Movement for Democratic Change, The Herald newspaper, a
government mouthpiece, reported on Thursday.
Chinamasa said Bakare and Bishop Trevor Manhanga, leader of the Zimbabwe
Evangelical Fellowship, were not "honest brokers" but opposition members who
had previously denounced the government and the ruling Zanu-PF party. "They
are MDC activists wearing religious collars," Chinamasa said.
'They are MDC activists wearing religious collars'
He made no mention of Roman Catholic Bishop Patrick Mutume, the third member
of the mediation group.
A separate item in the newspaper described the churches' mediation efforts
as "an exercise in futility" because the two parties were like oil and water
and could not be mixed.
Talks between the two parties collapsed last year when the government
demanded that the opposition recognise President Robert Mugabe's
controversial re-election last year and drop its court challenge to the
poll. The MDC rejected the demand and called for unconditional talks.
But opposition lawmakers decided last week to abandon their custom of
walking out when Mugabe speaks at the official opening of parliament. The
MDC said its lawmakers were trying to build goodwill to end the nation's
political standoff and clear the way for negotiations on Mugabe's
On Tuesday, the three church leaders said they had asked the ruling party
and the opposition to find common ground to resume their dialogue. The group
said both sides had "made it very clear they are committed to dialogue".
The two parties were like oil and water and could not be mixed'
Mugabe has ordered top officials in his ruling party to relinquish farms if
they have acquired more than one under a controversial land reform
The Herald quoted a Zanu-PF spokesperson as saying Mugabe issued the
directive at a politburo meeting on Wednesday.
The newspaper reported that Mugabe wanted the farms to be relinquished
within two weeks.
But Renson Gasela, the shadow agriculture minister of the MDC, said: "The
directive would be difficult to enforce because most of those who have
multiple farms have registered them under different names."
. This article was originally published on page 5 of The Star on August
ZIMBABWE: Pitfalls on the road to reconciliation
IRINnews Africa, Fri 1 Aug 2003
The church-led group were treated cordially by President Mugabe
JOHANNESBURG, - Church mediators on Friday dismissed accusations by a
senior government official who claimed they were politically biased and
unable to play the role of "honest broker" between Zimbabwe's two rival
The official The Herald newspaper on Thursday quoted Justice Minister
Patrick Chinamasa as saying: "They are [opposition Movement for Democratic
Change] MDC activists wearing religious collars."
In response Bishop Trevor Manhanga told IRIN: "Comments suggesting
that any member of the mediation team are members of the MDC are without
foundation. None of us are members of MDC, nor do we desire to be members of
any political party. We feel that we do not have to respond to innuendos,
especially since President [Robert] Mugabe was very cordial during our
meeting at State House."
Talks between the government and the MDC broke down in April 2002
after the opposition went to court to challenge the presidential election
result which they alleged was stolen.
But as Zimbabwe's political and economic crisis has deepened, the
church has stepped in as mediators in recent weeks to reopen the dialogue
between the two parties.
The local clergy have largely remained neutral since the start of the
political troubles. However, the Zimbabwe Council of Churches recently
apologised for "not having done enough at a time when the nation has looked
to us for guidance".
Observers told IRIN the church intervention has come at a time when
both sides of the political divide might be feeling they had exhausted their
"For a long time the churches took a back seat to what was going on in
the country, but as their constituencies become more impoverished they are
forced to sit up and take notice. Their role is also brought on by the
deteriorating economy and the pressure from the US and South Africa. But
also, there is a greater realisation amongst members from both political
parties that they have reached a stalemate in their own strategies. Out of
this frustration, the church has emerged as a sensible option because of
their apparent non-partisanship," said Brian Raftopoulos of the Institute of
He warned that the road towards a resolution of the country's apparent
political impasse was likely to be long and full of pitfalls.
"The backlash such as Chinamasa's remarks was expected, especially
since there never was consensus within ZANU-PF whether they should proceed
with talks. A number of individuals within the ruling party have a great
deal to lose, should the talks get underway. It is likely that there are
going to be further attacks on the process as the momentum towards a
negotiated settlement increases," said Raftopoulous.
Meanwhile, Manhanga said the church-led mediation team was still
awaiting written responses from the political parties to proposed talks.
"The MDC has said it would respond by today (Friday) and we are not
sure when ZANU-PF will respond. As soon as we have their responses, we can
then look at the convergences and divergences and take it from there," he
MDC may drop legal challenge against Mugabe
August 01, 2003, 07:30<
Zimbabwe's opposition said yesterday it might delay or drop a
legal challenge against President Robert Mugabe's controversial re-election
if there is progress in political talks with the government.
In a statement the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC)
maintained it had said all along that it would drop the court case if the
government opened talks with the opposition, demonstrated good faith and a
commitment to resolving the Zimbabwe crisis.
However, David Coltart, the MDC legal secretary repeated that
the court petition remained its only lawful lever against Mugabe, who is not
the legitimate president of Zimbabwe in the view of the MDC.
"If talks get under way, and if they are properly structured
with a formal agenda, and if Zanu(PF) demonstrates good faith and a
commitment to resolving the crisis Zimbabwe is facing, the MDC will consider
suspending or holding in abeyance the electoral challenge pending final
resolution of the talks," he said.
The MDC accuses Mugabe (79) of mismanaging the economy during
his rule over the last 23 years.
Unemployment is at a record rate of more than 70%, inflation is
at 365% and there is an acute shortage of currency which has led to long
queues at most banks.
The MDC filed a court petition against Mugabe in April 2002
because it believed he had won the election the previous month unfairly
against Morgan Tsvangirai, the MDC leader.
Mugabe has said his government will not talk to the MDC unless
they recognise him as Zimbabwe's legitimate president and drop their legal
challenge. - Reuters<
Zimbabwe Talks In Confidence-Building Phase
01 Aug 2003, 15:56 UTC<
A leading southern African political think tank says informal talks are
underway to resolve the Zimbabwean crisis. The Institute for Democracy in
South Africa says the talks are part of what conflict resolution specialists
would describe as the confidence-building phase before formal talks.
English to Africa reporter Francois Nsengiyumva interviewed Professor
Richard Calland, senior political analyst at the Institute for Democracy in
South Africa, IDASA. Professor Calland is also one of the leading figures in
one of IDASA’s special projects, building solidarity for the effort to deal
with the Zimbabwe crisis.
He says one of the things the confidence-building phase needs to accomplish
is to reassure the pro-democracy forces that their leaders will no longer be
subject to unlawful arrest. The political analyst says the talks that will
eventually be held are likely to create a framework for a transition to pave
the way to free and fair elections and possibly amend the constitution.
Stamp Out Black Market to Solve Cash Crisis<
August 1, 2003
Posted to the web August 1, 2003
THE decision on Tuesday by the Government to withdraw the $500 notes and
introduce a new bill as part of measures to end the critical shortage of
bank notes gripping the country is most sensible and should bring the
It is not a secret that the cash crisis had reached alarming levels and
needed to be addressed decisively.<
The $500 bill is our highest denominated note, hence it
is extensively used
both legally and illegally in and outside the country.
Large amounts of externalised Zimbabwean money are circulating in
neighbouring countries. Estimations put the figure at over one billion and
much of this money is in $500 notes.
And many Zimbabweans have been shocked by the cross border traders' public
admission to siphoning hundreds of millions of notes out of the country. The
feeling is that there should be no reprieve or special treatment for such
people. Action must be taken when they bring in their truckloads or sacks of
notes through the borders.
Black markets in and outside the country live off the highest denominated
currency bill and the notes are hoarded for that purpose. The money is used
in nefarious deals, where large transactions are done to circumvent taxes
and there are no records of the transactions.
Frequent travellers, particularly crossborder traders to Zambia, Botswana,
Mozambique, Malawi and South Africa know that the Zimbabwean currency can
easily be found and accessed in these countries.
In fact, most traders in these countries accept transactions in Zimbabwean
Moneychangers found milling at the border posts also hold large quantities
of Zimbabwean dollars, particularly the $500 notes. They buy and sell the
notes at a commission. A visit to Beitbridge, Forbes-Machipanda, Chirundu,
Plumtree, Nyamapanda-Cuchamano border posts confirms this.
Allowing individual Zimbabweans to export $50 000 in cash has also
contributed to the flight of notes across the borders. A lot of the local
hard currency has been taken out of the official system this way.
But this will now stop with effect from August 8. Instead of taking out $50
000, individuals will now use new local travellers cheques. We expect the
local traveller's cheques to make life easier for travellers in settling
payments, such as duty or to catch a taxi to one's destination.
The $500 note is the most expensive to print with its high security
features. In fact, the note costs more to print than its face value. As we
understand it, the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe is spending as much as $800 to
print one $500 note.
In the past, we suggested that it would be cost effective to print the $500
notes of a new design on the $50 paper.
The move to bring forward the introduction of the $1 000 notes to coincide
with the new $500 notes is also laudable. A higher denomination will reduce
the cost of printing.
The shortage of notes is also a manifestation of the high rate of inflation
currently at 364,5 percent.
The withdrawal of certain denominations from circulation is not a new thing.
Countries like Nigeria have done it and it paid off. The United States has
in the past phased out $1 000 and $10 000 notes from its system to plug
illegal transactions. Today the highest US denominated note is $100.
We however, feel that the real solution to solving Zimbabwe's cash crisis
lies in stamping out the black market where the majority of foreign currency
transactions in industry and commerce are taking place.
The Reserve Bank has also been largely responsible for fuelling the black
market by conducting its own business with banks using unrealistic foreign
currency rates, which the economy cannot afford.
We need to see more determination by the central bank in putting a stop to
the black market, which will reduce the prices of most goods and services
and inflation - the two factors that have also adversely contributed to the
shortage of cash in the economy.