|The ZIMBABWE Situation||Our
thoughts and prayers are with Zimbabwe |
- may peace, truth and justice prevail.
Bankers say the latest fall in the Zimbabwe dollar is largely caused by
private sector demand for foreign currency to import fuel.
Until recently, the government was the only legal importer of fuel, but it
has no foreign currency reserves, and has relaxed regulations to allow privately
owned companies and individuals to bring fuel into the country.
Gasoline and diesel fuel are now available to those who can pay in foreign
currency up to 60 cents a liter, about five times more than what it cost when it
was widely available in local money.
People can no longer buy fuel from gas stations, and instead, have to go to a
variety of new outlets, sometimes in the back yards of private homes.
To ease the acute shortage of bank notes, the government said Thursday it
will start issuing travelers checks in large denominations. Starting Friday, the
checks will be accepted as legal tender in Zimbabwe, but will not be valid
Meanwhile, the country's economic crisis continues to deepen. In the last
five days, tobacco growers have twice canceled sales of their crop at the annual
auctions, because they are paid at the official rate of 880 Zimbabwe dollars to
one U.S. dollar. Even though tobacco crops have been dramatically reduced,
earnings from tobacco exports contribute a large share to Zimbabwe's foreign
Bankers say the latest fall in the Zimbabwe dollar is largely caused by private sector demand for foreign currency to import fuel.
Until recently, the government was the only legal importer of fuel, but it has no foreign currency reserves, and has relaxed regulations to allow privately owned companies and individuals to bring fuel into the country.
Gasoline and diesel fuel are now available to those who can pay in foreign currency up to 60 cents a liter, about five times more than what it cost when it was widely available in local money.
People can no longer buy fuel from gas stations, and instead, have to go to a variety of new outlets, sometimes in the back yards of private homes.
To ease the acute shortage of bank notes, the government said Thursday it will start issuing travelers checks in large denominations. Starting Friday, the checks will be accepted as legal tender in Zimbabwe, but will not be valid abroad.
Meanwhile, the country's economic crisis continues to deepen. In the last five days, tobacco growers have twice canceled sales of their crop at the annual auctions, because they are paid at the official rate of 880 Zimbabwe dollars to one U.S. dollar. Even though tobacco crops have been dramatically reduced, earnings from tobacco exports contribute a large share to Zimbabwe's foreign currency reserves.
But the councillor hinted at deep divisions among the
saying many were pleading to comply with Chombo’s directives, fearing they
would risk being fired if they did not.
Brian Kagoro, co-ordinator of Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition, conceded
that Chombo was spoiling for a fight and would sack the entire council if
they chose to forcefully resist his directives.
"Chombo is baiting the MDC so that he has someone to fight. He wants
to be ZANU PF’s new champion," said Kagoro.
He said the MDC councillors had to bear in mind that they could not
enjoy the "comfort of NGOs (non-governmental organisations)".
"If they choose to be in active defiance, they will be fired," Kagoro
said, indicating that the situation at Harare City Council was " a
microbattle of a broader national struggle that’s going on" between the MDC
and ZANU PF.
"These battles over Harare are in my view a foretaste of the sort of
problems the MDC will have if it went into a coalition government," said
He said ZANU PF’s interests in the capital’s affairs were driven
mainly by the fact that Harare is the seat of power. If, therefore, the
MDC-led council managed to run the capital efficiently, this could suggest
that the party could run the country efficiently.
The question is: Can the MDC forge ahead and deliver effectively
notwithstanding the behaviour and actions of the government.
"The approach is to ensure that we don’t show our ability to run the
affairs of Harare because that would demonstrate our readiness to govern,"
said Gabriel Chaibva, the MDC shadow minister of local government. "We
understand it’s enemy territory which we have to navigate. We’re confident
that the people are aware of the machinations of our detractors who have
been throwing spanners in the way of progress by our councillors," said
Analysts this week said the national law of this country, including
the Urban Councils Act, was crafted to serve the purpose and interests of a
one-party state. Local authorities enjoy limited authority in their affairs.
Kagoro said the powers of the minister under the Urban Councils Act
were clearly undemocratic, and reflected on the urgent need for sweeping
constitutional reforms in the country.
For example, the Minister of Local Government approves council budget.
Without the minister’s consent, councils cannot effect new service
charges. The minister can therefore play havoc with any council’s finances
by refusing or delaying to give his approval.
The minister also approves borrowing powers for capital projects.
By not giving approval, the minister can stop any infrastructural
development within council.
As things stand, analysts said, Chombo has not yet approved Harare’s
application for borrowing powers since the inception of the new council in
The new council can therefore not undertake any major capital works.
Heads of department within the council are appointed by the Local
Authorities Board, which in turn is appointed by the minister.
This provision on top positions has contributed to making councils
political fiefdoms, insiders said.
"Heads and their deputies are appointed on the strength of political
affiliation. This means that in reality, the City of Harare is a key ZANU PF
organ set up by ZANU PF to serve and protect the interests of ZANU PF.
If the MDC council wanted to work efficiently, it had to do so in
political harmony with the ZANU PF edifice.
Analysts said the desire by ZANU PF to control the Harare City Council
has always been obvious.
In 1997, the Solomon Tawengwa-led council was dismissed by the
Minister of Local Government for mismanagement.
A committee headed by Malcom Thompson investigated the issue and
produced a damning report on the conduct of council business.
The ministry then appointed a Commission led by educationist Elijah
Chanakira to run the affairs of the city. The commission derived its mandate
and authority from the minister and the practice was that the minister would
issue directives to the commission for implementation.
In other words, critics said, the minister directly ran the affairs of
Harare City Council and enjoyed his new authority on Harare, and therefore
never put in motion a programme for an election of a new council.
The Combined Harare Residents’ Association had to take the matter to
court in 2000 to compel the government to hold council elections in the
The government challenged the application by the residents, giving an
impression that it still wanted to run the affairs of the capital four years
after appointing a commission.
The High Court ruled that the continued running of council affairs by
the commission was illegal.
A subsequent council election gave the MDC a resounding victory, with
the opposition party winning 44 of the 45 council seats.
Analysts said the government is on the warpath to check and reverse
the advance of the opposition in the capital.
It came as no surprise, they said, that immediately after the new
council was in office, the government issued a directive to the council not
to dismiss about 700 ZANU PF activists that had been irregularly employed by
A second directive ordered the council to refer all issues pertaining
to personnel and finances to the minister for approval.
Experts call for electoral law review
Cyril Zenda Staff Reporter
8/7/2003 9:02:40 AM (GMT +2)
AS Zimbabweans begin the countdown to the country’s sixth general
elections which could come anytime within the next 18 months, experts from
African countries have warned that unless the country’s electoral laws are
revisited, the results of the elections could be subject of more disputes
because the existing electoral system is not credible.
The experts, who were in Harare this week to attend a regional
conference on electoral reforms organised by the Zimbabwe Election Support
Network (ZESN), added their voices to the chorus for the review of the
country ’s electoral laws.
They strongly advised against Zimbabweans going into another poll
before an overhaul of the troubled southern African country’s entire
"For very good reasons, I can understand and even appreciate why
Zimbabweans should clamour for electoral reforms … without that, the attempt
to reinvigorate the democratic process will experience a false start," said
Agyeman-Duah Baffour from the Centre for Democratic Development in Ghana.
Baffour is familiar with the Zimbabwean electoral system as he was
part of the Commonwealth Election Observer Advance Team and later part of
the Commonwealth Observer Team that monitored the 2000 parliamentary
elections. He has also been in the country after the 2000 elections to study
ZESN’s efforts to promote free and fair elections in Zimbabwe.
"The absence of transparency in the electoral system accounts for the
lack of mutual trust among (political) parties and confidence in the
process," Baffour said.
"Maybe time is ripe for serious, inclusive and honest dialogue in
Zimbabwe. Many conflicts on the continent have been created by systems that
shunt aside debate because they are structured as a simple horse race and by
a legislative process that is representative of one interest group," said
Claude Kabemba from the Johannesburg-based Electoral Institute of Southern
"Reforming the system therefore requires that measures of transparency
are introduced and enhanced," Baffour said. "The overriding concern in
electoral reforms, therefore is how to build the confidence of the political
parties and other stakeholders in the system," he added.
"If Zimbabwe is contemplating electoral reforms, it is crucial that
such a process be achieved through dialogue and negotiation between all
interested parties and groups," said Khabele Matlosa from Lesotho.
Jestina Cumbe from Mozambique said effective electoral laws are built
around the constitution so it would be very important that in tandem with
their push for new electoral laws, Zimbabweans should put constitutional
reforms very high on their agenda.
"Zimbabweans should have trust in themselves in everything they do,"
Cumbe said. They know what they want but they don’t have trust in
Edmond Nkalubo from Uganda concurred with Cumbe that for the electoral
review process to be successful, there would be need for a constitutional
After the rejection in the February 2000 referendum by the public of a
government-authored constitutional draft, President Robert Mugabe’s
government has said it will not again put constitutional reforms on its
agenda as Zimbabweans seem to be more comfortable under the Lancaster House
ceasefire document currently working as a constitution for the country.
The regional experts expressed concern that the Zimbabwean electoral
system does not have in place even some of the most basic ingredients
accepted the world over as necessary for a transparent electoral process
such as an independent electoral body to organise and run all elections in
Currently all election responsibilities in Zimbabwe are shared between
the Registrar-General’s office, the Electoral Directorate, the Electoral
Supervisory Commission, the Ministry of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary
Affairs as well as several other government departments most of whose
objectivity has been subject of a violent debate for years.
The Zimbabwean electoral system, which is eerily out of sync with
those in most of the countries in southern Africa, has not even been
adjusted to meet the recommendations of the Southern African Development
Community (SADC) Parliamentary Forum which seek to foster transparency and
integrity in all elections in the region.
Apart from making an independent national electoral body one of the
basic requirements, the forum’s recommendations include areas such as voter
registration and education, access by political parties to the public media,
campaign process and proper de-limitation to avoid gerrymandering. It also
covers the role of local and international election observers and monitors
in elections the results of which would be acceptable to all interest
Part of the argument by the opposition Movement for Democratic Change
in dozens of its election petitions from the June 2000 as well as the court
challenge to the results of last year’s presidential election have been that
the country’s electoral system provides horse and cat loopholes for the
ruling ZANU PF to commit massive electoral fraud.
Ignore the hawks
8:32:16 AM (GMT +2)
IN the last couple of weeks, Zimbabwe has largely remained transfixed
by prospects of what appears to be imminent dialogue between the ruling ZANU
PF and the opposition Movement for Democratic Change seeking a solution to
the country’s still unfolding crisis. And the collective national sigh of
relief over prospects of a negotiated settlement is understandable.
We believe that we are not alone in saying that this is a rare window
of opportunity for the country to mount a concerted trawl for solutions and
speed is of the essence. There is no better time for an inclusive and honest
dialogue in Zimbabwe than now.
It has however since emerged that there are some within Zimbabwe’s
body politic who are opposed to such a negotiated settlement to the country’
s long-running crisis. They are now involved in fierce behind-the-scenes
manoeuvres to frustrate the process. It is panic stations within the ranks
of these so-called hawks who have exhibited a rash of impatience against
those agitating for or encouraging dialogue.
Not that we are surprised by this turn of events, but the question
that begs an answer is why? Who stands to benefit if the mooted talks are
either put on hold or concerted efforts by all stakeholders for the
political parties to mend fences completely flop?
Certainly not Zimbabweans who have suffered under the slow motion and
now accelerating collapse of the economy and who know that dialogue will
ensure a well-filled pot of ingredients to be stirred and soothe the economy
’s running sore.
The international community and Zimbabweans in particular, who wear
the shoe and therefore know how and where it pinches, have been singing from
the same song sheet in support of a negotiated process. The mind boggles
therefore as to why these hawks, whose known objectives are running against
the grain of national aspirations, should be given room to destabilise a
national process. They should be allowed to fall by the wayside after being
overtaken by events or if need be just be forced out of the way.
It goes without saying that the potential for fissures has always been
there and it was just a question of time before cracks began to emerge. The
truth of the matter is that the jittery hawks who do not have a power base
of their own are caught between reality and insecurity.
The source of discord is that, much as they may not want to admit it,
they will be rendered irrelevant by the new political dispensation likely to
be ushered in through a negotiated settlement. Unfortunately these hawks’
political intolerance belongs to history’s septic tank — there is no reason
why Zimbabweans should not talk to find a solution to their problems.
Despite public posturing and threadbare claims of altruism, nothing
other than their futile efforts to frustrate the talks provides tangible
evidence that the self-centred hawks whose political shelf-life is almost up
are doing whatever they are doing for self-aggrandisement. They do not
inspire confidence across the political range and they have dismally failed
to exert a dominant influence.
They are no longer relevant to our situation and should therefore be
dismissed with the contempt they deserve and like the jokes that they are.
Are we really ready for change?
8:40:04 AM (GMT +2)
EDITOR — For us to tear down the current regime without a desire to
rebuild would be counter productive.
As foggy as it may seem now Zimbabwe has a future ahead. Beyond the
Zanu PF regime, in the horizon the clouds are forming and are pregnant with
The question is are we ready for change? For most Zimbabweans the only
future they can imagine is the removal of the current regime so that
everybody will make merry. Then what?
We need to set a course beyond that. Kwame Nkrumah said, " . . . in
this time more than any other we need thinkers — thinkers of great thoughts,
doers —doers of great deeds …" and this statement said many years ago still
speaks to Zimbabweans today.
I had the opportunity to watch a gigantic cargo ship being led out of
a cove by a tug boat that seemed so tiny in size but pulling this enormous
structure out to sea.
It made me see that the young people of Zimbabwe whether in or outside
the country need to step forward to lead Zimbabwe into the future.
Young people are the wind vane that points to society’s "popular"
opinion seeing that they are majority.
One of the many down falls of this current regime was not allowing
their conscience — the young people — to speak and lead the country into the
I see Zimbabwe becoming the strong nation that it should be, a
democracy that is married with its bride — economic prosperity. At the core
of this renaissance is a caliber of leaders that has a fear of God and a
respect for people.
You may say that I am a dreamer but I am not the only one. Nkosi
And now to the Notebook . . .
8:36:50 AM (GMT +2)
Zimbabwe’s super analyst, was on our one and only ZBC’s programme
Media Watch this week giving his views on the Zimbabwean media’s coverage of
three different issues over the past week — the government-induced cash
shortage, the ZANU PF-MDC talks, and the Zimbabwe International Book Fair.
What a talent! Very few people are able to be experts in three areas
that are as different as three days in the sky. We wonder what his
background and qualifications are like for him to deserve the privilege of
being invited to pontificate on what the Press should report and how it
should report. Maybe Tazzen Murambadoro (nee Mandizvidza) knows better.
But to any average Zimbo, it appears like this man becomes an expert
on anything under the sun as long as he gets an opportunity to get his
not-so-handsome face on our TV screens.
Some people just love to appear in the media, whether or not they have
anything sensible to say. And in Zimbabwe we have too many such people,
apart from Masuku.
There are others like Killer Zivhu — one person who would sell his own
grandmother just to get media coverage — Samuel Undenge and Kurauwone
Chihwayi, just to name, but a few. We will not mention those same old faces
that seem to dominate brother Supa Madiwanzira’s Talking Business programme,
as well as the same scrofulous crowds that throng Mai Chisamba’s show and
other programmes like Teen Scene on our staid TV station.
There are people who now make it their full time job to attend those
programmes, not because they have anything meaningful to contribute, but
simply to appear on TV and put the noses of voyeuristic neighbours out of
joint. Ndinobuda paTV.
the threats about the phasing out of $500 bills, CZ, like any other
responsible citizen of this country who has been abused for unacceptably too
long, will not surrender a single red cent of his money to any bank, unless
the announcement is made by another regime whose integrity he has no reason
He will keep his little notes under his pillow until he knows where
the bankrupt Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe will get enough money to buy enough
paper to print enough new $500 notes to replace the trillions in circulation
the war cabinet’s taskforce on the cash crisis is threatening to phase out.
This is really an addled threat, and serious people will remain
unfazed, especially those that have queued day in day out to get some measly
amounts, some so ridiculously low that they can not sustain one person for a
single day, let alone an average African family.
This clearly shows that some people have run out of ideas but are just
too proud to admit it.
How can three ministers — from Finance, Defence and State Security —
exaggerate their seriousness announcing such spiel? For our own Comical Ali,
people have gotten used to him and they no longer take him seriously anyway.
We don’t know if the three ministers have been rehearsing behind the scenes
with a view to join their Prime Minister.
Some ideas do not really sound like they are being hazarded by someone
who has been to an economics school.
Silly suggestions that are mooted by street vendors and empty-headed
war veterans are suddenly announced as government policy. Jesu Kristo!
This goes to show us what this country’s leadership thinks of us
ordinary Zimbabweans — that we are daft beyond redemption.
It therefore should not come as a surprise to anyone that some
enterprising entrepreneurs have decided to assist the RBZ to print money.
Zimbabweans are in
a mood for talks. Who has ever dreamt that a great party like the
Zimbabwe African National Union (Patriotic Front) would one day ever agree
to engage in talks with "unpatriotic sell-outs" like the MDC (Movement for
the Destruction of the Country)? But the two have agreed to talk and every
one is wondering what they will talk about and for how long. As if taking a
cue from the politicians, ANZ, the publishers of the "Strive Masiyiwa-owned
Daily News" also decided to mend relations with the Zimbabwe Republic
Police, whose spokesman Wayne Bvudzijena had for the past two or so years
vowed never again to talk to the privately-owned daily.
This is really a commendable move and we hope ZUJ, IJAZ and possibly
NAFJ, will issue statements congratulating the two parties for realising on
time that the people of Zimbabwe are more important than their pride.
Maybe with the ZANU PF/MDC talks on, the not-so-confident police
spokesman can rest assured that there would be fewer inquiries that would
put him out of shape, so the armistice comes at the right time!
CZ wonders who else is talking to who.
Political sobriety panacea to Zim’s crisis
8/7/2003 8:48:52 AM (GMT +2)
The "final push" ge-nerated a lot of debate and controversy in the
national discourse especially in regard to its impact on Zimbabwe’s
Much of the discourse has unfortunately been narrowed to an analysis
of its success or failure.
I don’t intend to get myself embroiled in that sort of debate because
it is now only of academic interest.
It is easy to critisise the "final push" ex post facto. That is not
the intention here, but to redirect the discourse in a way that will
positively transform the agenda of Zimbabwean politics.
Suffice to say there are various schools of thought emerging in the
national discourse and much depends on one’s "inarticulate major premises"
to borrow a phrase from Roscoe Pound.
In his last published article entitled "Schools of thought on
successful stayaway" the brilliant Prof Masipula Sithole (may his soul rest
in peace!) proffered three schools of thought then forming on the national
discourse in the aftermath of the MDC two-day stay away that preceded the
Much of his analysis, in my view, is still valid in the aftermath of
the "final push".
I identify with his third school of thought called "Ripe for
mediation" which is worth quoting at length.
"Ripe for Mediation: the third school of thought suggests that for the
first time since the controversial presidential election, a conducive
environment now exists for a ‘meaningful national dialogue’ between the
ruling party and opposition party.
The situation is now "ripe" for mediation, to borrow a concept from
Johns Hopkins’ William Zartman.
This school of thought argues in its optimism that the stayaway
demonstrated that there is now a condominium or dual presidency or authority
in this country — one wielding the power of coercion, while the other wields
moral and popular power.
We suspected it all along, at least since the referendum defeat at the
beginning of 2000. This is time to talk. This is time for a ‘national
I propose to develop this school of thought (I suppose that’s the best
honour I can bestow on my late uncle, for he never lived to do it himself)
by drawing parallels with the South African transitional experience from
which Zimbabwe can benefit a lot.
The aim is to show that the objective situation in and outside the
country and the dynamics at play are generally supportive of constructive
national engagement in Zimbabwe.
South Africa has been enmeshed in a marathon political and
constitutional impasse for the greater part of the 20th century.
From the establishment of the Union of SA in 1910 political forces
with different ideological approaches to many constitutional, political and
socio-economic issues have been at loggerheads.
The result has been the emergence of a conflict and violence-based
socio-political culture of even greater intensity than what we have
witnessed in this country in the past three years.
In a phenomenal twist of events from about February 1990 the ideal of
a "new" South Africa became a common unifying symbol to an overwhelming
percentage of the South African population.
Although there has been ambiguity on what the "new" should entail,
what stands out clear is that it was the first time in the country’s history
that belligerent political forces acknowledged the importance of
co-operating among themselves in order to find workable means of solving the
socio-political and economic questions bedeviling the country.
The different definitions of the "new" South Africa were especially
evident at the first multi-party negotiations. The congress for a democratic
South Africa (CODESA), where parties agreed on general concepts but fiercely
disagreed as soon as details were discussed.
Dr Willem de Klerk (to whose research I am greatly indebted)
indentifies four factors that laid the foundation for or led to negotiations
in South Africa, namely:
lapartheid had collapsed;
lpressures within the country;
linternational politics pushed the door open for negotiations; and
lleaders generated the power to make
a mental leap.
I propose to deal with these one by one and to show how present-day
Zimbabwe enjoys an almost identical mood and situation as 1990 South
Africa — a mood and situation conducive for national dialogue.
Apartheid disintegrated as a result of its political bankruptcy and
the sheer numbers of its enemies.
The "orderliness" which apartheid was intended to create failed
miserably because the majority of South Africans and the rest of the world
Black nationalism spurned apartheid by championing the rights of black
people in their fatherland.
The complexity of apartheid betrayed unholy bungling because systems,
procedures, structures, complexities and absurdities tried to conceal
It had also become costly to maintain an authoritarian regime
especially at a time when international aid was suspended.
It is only fair to say that in like manner, the Zimbabwean government
is caught up in complexities and absurdities that will wreck vengeance on
the system in the manner that apartheid was destroyed by its own immorality.
It is clearly an anoma-lly for us to have a dual party parliament and
a single one-party government.
An ideal situation will be a situation whereby the MDC has ministerial
posts in government directly proportional to their representation in
It is an anomaly for our constitution to give the ruling party an
unfair advantage over opposition political parties by giving the president
the power to appoint 30 MPs by special procedure, who invariably are party
The President has a disproportionately large franchise and a party
winning a majority of the 120 seats (ie. at least 61) may still find itself
in an overall minority if the President belongs to another party and
appoints persons belonging to his party to fill the seats.
It is an absurdity for the ruling party to then use its unwarranted
majority in parliament to enact unjust oppressive laws and rigidly insist on
the rule of law.
This is one reason why Parliament has lost much of its respect and
dignity because the provision for the appointment by special procedure of 30
MPs is a drastic attack on the principle of universal suffrage which is the
cornerstone of a democratic political system.
Equality of supprage is one principle, among others, on the basis of
which the provision for 20 parliamentary seats reserved for whites under the
original Lancaster House Constitution fell foul of internationally
recognised democratic standards.
The "Third Chimure-nga" has exposed the government for what it is,
especially with reports that a clique or kleptocracy of ruling party
functionaries benefited more than the intended beneficiaries.
It is not wide off the mark to say the government’s violent land
reform programme did not achieve much other than the alienation of the
government from international donors and financiers.
The result has been galloping inflation, a cash crisis, biting foreign
currency shortage, rising unemployment, general economic decay and
resentment against the government.
The government moo-ted one "New" Economic Recovery programme after
another but none ever bore fruit.
It has now become ubundantly, clear to most Zimbabweans that the
government, on its own and by itself has no capacity to woo back
international aid and restore investor confidence.
The Bretton Woods institutions have their problems in respect to our
interest but it is naïve and unrealistic to believe that we can do without
In my view, it is a question of knowing the nature of the beast and
mapping a way forward.
The government has been suspended from the Commonwealth Council of
Ministers and has also been stripped of its voting rights by the IMF and
This is a manifestation of how the "orderliness" that the system
intended to create has failed dismally.
Negotiations in South Africa also took place because of pressures
within the country for renewal and change.
The ANC as a powerful factor in South Africa could no longer be
ignored because it had come a long way and now enjoyed overwhelming support
from the black majority.
Like present-day Zimbabwe, 1990 South Africa has some kind of dual
authority in that that de jure government still held power, but de facto,
the ANC had a kind of veto
namely that there were no winners and no lossers. The middle course
won the argument. While the ANC had its two-stage process adopted, it had to
drop its insistence on a referendum. In return for accepting the ANC’s
two-stage process, the apartheid government won on federalism and the
adoption of the constitution by the constituent Assembly.
Reminiscing on the
seed, germination and birth of the South African
process, one realises that perharps the negotiation process had to mature
first, perhaps the time was not yet ripe for the political groupings to
realise that no-one could "go it alone’. The fact is that CODESA was a first
trial run which, although serving a purpose, was doomed to end in deadlock.
Looking back, political leaders would perhaps also agree that, at the early
stages of negotiations, they were possiby not as skilled as they
subsequently became and had an insufficient sensitivity to what is called
"process": to maintain progress with negotiations which reaching "win-win"
compromises along the way. In retrospect, it is clear that the South African
constitutional negotiations process, starting on very weak legs with CODESA
had come to maturity in the MPNP. The lessons had been well learnt and taken
An intersting development arising from the many bi- and
negotiations, which should be a lesson for Zimbabwe’s political leadership,
is the pragmatism that had become evident in political, economic, and
constitutional discussions in South Africa. All the parties had in some or
other way undergone a shift from a dogmatic ideological political approach
to a more pragmatic, flexible approach. It is especially since 1992 that the
emphasis increasingly fell on problem solving rather than dogmatic approach
to issues. The pragmatism opened the door for mutually acceptable solutions
and a constitutional framework which few people would have predicted at the
commencement of negotiations. The process by which the South African
constitution was born is now being acknowledged globally as one of the most
extraordinary phenomena of modern-day constitutional history.
Here in Zimbabwe, some voices are calling for caution
on the part of
the MDC. Naturally, transition politics is characterised by uncertainity,
increasing violence, suspision, occassional despair, and the consolidation
of power base. There will also be constant "constituency pressures", whetehr
in the form of high expectations or criticism that it had "sold out" F W de
Klerk ran a risk of rejection by radicals in his constituency; N Mandela
also ran a similar risk of rejection by the black masses. The danger of
losing political power and leverage is omnipresent in a political
negotiation process but the political will to succeed, combined with
patience, endurance, and oftern sheer will power will make the success of
the process possible. It is my hope that this is going to be the case in
Zim faces huge cereal deficit
8/7/2003 9:03:48 AM (GMT +2)
ZIMBABWE still faces a huge cereal deficit of 1.3 million tonnes
despite some positive gains in production achieved in the last agricultural
season, a local financial institution has said.
In its economic report for June 2003, Intermarket Holdings Limited,
said although cereal production was up 65.5 percent over the previous year,
more grain needed to be imported to plug the shortfall.
"Although the cereal gap has improved significantly this season, the
1.287 million tonnes gap requires sufficient capacity to close.
"The cereal deficit will limit throughput to livestock and dairy
farming this year.
"Food security remains in jeopardy in the medium-term, with hopes
pinned on emergency food aid," the report said.
Total maize output is anticipated to be about 803 000 tonnes. Of the
1.3 million tonne deficit, maize accounts for 55 percent.
Wheat imports this year are estimated to be around 298 000 tonnes, as
the winter wheat currently being planted is expected to produce only 90 000
tonnes, down from 160 000 tonnes last year.
According to the report, the Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO)
and World Food Programme (WFP) said the government would only be able to
import 370 000 tonnes or 37.8 percent of the aggregate maize deficit due to
the shortages of foreign currency.
"Thus 610 000 will have to be covered by emergency food aid
Cereal production has over the years been severely affected by the
chaotic land reform, critical shortage of fertiliser, fuel and seed.
The controversial land reform displaced most large-scale commercial
farmers who traditionally accounted for 95 percent of wheat produced
Poor producer prices have also compounded the problem.
FAO and WFP estimate that nearly 5.5 million people in Zimbabwe will
be in need of food aid in 2003/04 season.
Provinces critically affected with food insecurity are Manicaland,
Midlands, Matebeleland North and South.
The urban population is, however, more vulnerable because of the
deteriorating macro-economic conditions that heve eroded real incomes.
US$200mln set aside for food aid
8/7/2003 9:04:41 AM (GMT +2)
BULAWAYO — The World Food Programme (WFP) has budgeted
US$200 million (Z$164.8 billion at the ruling exchange rate) to buy food
relief for Zimbabwe.
Luis Clemens, the WFP spokesman in Zimbabwe told The
Financial Gazette on the sideline of food relief distribution in Tsholotsho
last Thursday that figures for Zimbabwe and other four southern African
nations hit by food shortages had been worked out.
The United Nations food relief agency presented its budget
estimates for the new financial year in early July at a meeting held in
Geneva after the government’s appeal.
"For our emergency operation (EMOP) we have budgeted at
least US$200million for Zimbabwe, which is subject to change as reports of
individuals who are vulnerable and disadvantaged keeps trickling in," said
Over US$500 million is needed by the WFP to feed over
eight million people in southern Africa.
Last Thursday, Cleme-ns, together with other WFP officials
and food relief implementing agencies, witnessed 641 households consisting
of 2 885 people collecting food handouts in drought-stricken Tsho-lotsho
Clemens said a new criteria had been put in place to
ensure that only deserving people access food relief.
"The new framework now caters specifically for those who
did not harvest, have no income, livestock and remittances," he said.
The criteria has however, left many villages alleging that
they were being denied food because of petty reasons.
Some villagers pleaded with the WFP officials to revise
their food distribution system to include more people, saying most villagers
in Tsholotsho had not harvested anything.
Clemens was however, quick to point out that the current
food shortages in the country could be easily averted if the government
stripped the Grain Marketing Board (GMB) monopoly to import maize.
Price controls: a cure ‘worse than the disease’
8/7/2003 8:33:27 AM (GMT +2)
IN the ideal sense, and if used "properly" price controls can be used
to protect consumers against high prices.
Controls can be used to cushion, especially the low income groups,
against declining real incomes as prices continuously escalate. Price
controls seek to guarantee the disadvantaged of access to basic goods in an
inflationary environment characterised by supply constraints. Controls hold
out the promise of protecting consumers against unaffordable prices.
In the short- term, price controls may seem appealing but this may be
superficial. In the long-term, costs of price controls could prove deadly.
They can be the wrong prescription.
Their prolonged use may prove damaging to the economy at large. They
may be effective in the short term, particularly if used on only or a few
basic goods. If used on one or a few goods, it may also be feasible for
government to subsidise the particular producers and monitor compliance by
Effectiveness is likely if producers are subsidised and business
continues to be viable. Price controls should be the last resort in times of
emergencies. The fact is that price controls never work for a long time,
otherwise evasion against the system emerges. They can only offer temporary
benefits at best.
Their effectiveness depends on a number of issues such as length of
use, nature of the good, organisation of the industry, degree of government
enforcement, price monitoring mechanism, general state of the economy and so
on. Evasion against the system, which is ever present, also depends on the
General price controls are often imposed when the public becomes
alarmed that inflation has run out of control. Price controls may make a
positive contribution by calming these fears, particularly if patriotism can
be counted to limit evasion. However, such benefits are not likely to be
Also, while controls are in place, measures against the root causes of
the inflationary situation and supply constraints have to be found,
otherwise controls become long-term, which is an unhealthy situation.
Controlled prices, however, should be reviewed regularly to make sure
that business remains viable. While they can sound a good intention on the
part of government, results of price controls do count, to a greater extent.
Well-intentioned motives only are not enough. Controls should be beneficial
to the greater majority of people.
The appeal of price controls is easy to explain, especially on the
part of government. There is a strong emotional attraction for price
controls as a way for government "to do something" or "to be seen to be
doing something" about the highly inflationary environment.
In the case of Zimbabwe, the current price controls were implemented
as from August 2000. The controls were supposed to be in place for only six
There was debate as to whether this was a viable attempt to solve the
problem of high prices. From the side of the government, controls were seen
as a viable solution to cushion consumers whose real incomes are still fast
declining. Other stakeholders such as the Consumer Council of Zimbabwe (CCZ)
argued for price monitoring instead. There was intense debate from different
quarters as to the possible benefits of using price controls.
However, despite these debates, government went ahead to implement the
price controls, which have remained in place up to the current period. The
number of goods under price controls has increased over time.
Given the long time in which controls have been in place, it’s high
time government takes stock of the impact of the current price controls. An
impact assessment should be done so that a decision has to be made as to
whether to continue or remove the controls. The viability of the levels of
the controlled prices should be assessed.
It is important for government to make a periodic review of the
controlled prices so that business continues to be viable; otherwise the
system induces increased evasion. Price controls do not guarantee supplies.
They may actually reduce supplies in the official market as black markets
Although government seems to be convinced that the public has
benefited from the use of the price controls, an average person would argue
otherwise. There isn’t much evidence to suggest the benefits of price
controls so far. Instead, the situation of consumers has deteriorated
further. There have been more problems than benefits of these price
controls. There has been untold human suffering. The following are some of
the effects that have been observed this far.
Price controls have failed to cushion the majority of the consumers.
The result has been a sharp deterioration in living standards. There has
been increased waiting time as consumers spend a lot of valuable time
queuing for bread and other basic commodities whose prices are controlled.
The search costs for most basic goods are very high as supplies are very
limited in the official market.
Controls have resulted in distortions in the economy that have caused
output and social welfare to diminish. Less is being produced because it has
become more profitable to produce other products, whose prices are not fixed
by government at a low level. The profit incentive has been removed on the
goods whose prices are controlled.
For instance, bread is less available in the official market but is
found on the black market while other products whose prices are not
controlled are available in the official outlets.
Since the advent of the current price controls, shortages of goods
whose prices are controlled have become prevalent. For instance, mealie-meal
and sugar can no longer be found on the official market. Surprisingly, large
quantities of these goods are available on the black market where the prices
are exorbitant. The black market prices are presumably even higher that what
would attain in a free market.
From the viewpoint of industry, price controls have made it
unprofitable for domestic producers to increase output through more
expensive processes. Production costs have escalated. Fuel supplies continue
to dwindle. Foreign currency shortages have worsened. Price controls have
led to a shift in the allocation of resources. Some of the industrialists
have argued for control of the input costs. They have turned away from the
production of price-controlled goods. As the general economic environment
continues to deteriorate, more evasion has taken place.
However, from the point of view of government, these adverse results
are some form of sabotage and lack of cooperation on the part of industry.
Government also attributes some of the shortages to the drought conditions.
Surprisingly, a lot of the goods that are no longer available in the
official market are readily available in some of the neighbouring countries
such as Botswana, Zambia and Mozambique. For instance, Olivine cooking oil
produced locally is sold in Botswana while imported and expensive cooking
oil is available in our shops.
Some of the commodities with controlled prices are still available on
the official market but with tremendous decline in quality and standards. As
producers complain of high production costs — mainly due to foreign currency
shortages, escalating fuel prices and the generally high inflation
environment, one of the simplest forms of evasion that has taken place is
the deterioration in quality and standards.
Quantities have been reduced, some of the crucial ingredients have
been reduced and others altered, the weights have been reduced, others
increased and some of the essential flavours have been removed.
Non-compliance to product standards has been very high. For example,
powdered soap no longer has much foam, liquid soaps have become too weak and
solid soaps are now smaller. Some of the products are cut into pieces and
each piece sold at the controlled price. Much of the bread and buns have too
much yeast and less flour and other ingredients. Some of the goods now
appear under a different name to justify evasion of the system. The standard
loaf of bread is no longer readily available in the official outlets.
The "artificially" low prices have worsened the situation of the
majority of consumers, especially low-income earners who were actually
supposed to benefit from the controlled prices were it not for the expanding
black market. The poor standards of some of the controlled commodities are a
In real terms, there has been no strict adherence or compliance to
price controls. Monitoring of standards and quality has also not been
effective. It is not very clear whether there is any effective quality and
standards monitoring mechanism in place. In any case, such monitoring is
unlikely to be effective where controls are general, long term, supply
constraints continue to worsen and the economic conditions continue to
decline. Under such conditions, there is need for government to take a stock
check of the viability of price controls. Otherwise the supposed "cure"
becomes worse than the "disease".
Government should monitor the standards of commodities whose prices
are controlled; otherwise the purpose of the controls is defeated. Products
whose prices are controlled should be defined by the government with respect
to their size, standards and quality. Monitoring for compliance should be
regular and effective. There is a lot beyond the imposition of controls.
Part of this is the monitoring of quality and standards after the imposition
Most of the commodities with controlled prices are traded on the black
market, except those that are not tradable on the market. The magnitude of
the difference between the controlled prices and the black market prices is
so wide that the incentive for trading on the black market continues to be
high. In this case, the black market is likely to remain for a long time.
Consumers, due to desperation, are forced to buy goods on the black market.
While official inflation is quoted at an artificially and relatively low
level, an expansive black market has mushroomed and flourished. There is
need for government to revise the issue of price controls or to ensure,
through government mechanism that the system works for the benefit of the
However, despite their failure or difficulties, price controls may
become extremely difficult to lift, once imposed. There is usually political
resistance to lifting price controls. As such, the return for a very
short-term "benefit", consumers end up paying a very heavy long-term price.
There are monetary and nonmonetary costs to this. If the government removed
price controls when the inflationary environment has not stabilised or
supplies have not normalised, the situation may sound politically
If government continues the use of price controls, given some of the
effects that have been observed, the benefits are really not there for the
majority of the people. History shows that the use of price controls, where
the economic environment is deteriorating, damages economies and
significantly does harm to the vast majority of buyers and sellers who
depend on them, especially the most disadvantaged and the poor.
Lovemore Ka-denge is president of the Zimbabwe Economics Society
Nepad: Africa's responsibility
13/06/2003 17:14 - (SA)
Durban - African political and business leaders took a small
step this week
to move Nepad off the drawing board, agreeing a shared responsibility to put
its bold policies into action.
But some delegates at the World Economic Forum (WEF) Africa summit expressed
concern over its slow implementation and lethargy of many African states
about making the New Partnership for Africa's Development work.
More than 700 government, business and civil society representatives met in
the East Coast city for a three-day summit to discuss progress achieved on
President Thabo Mbeki, current president of the African Union, emphasised
that Africa was moving forward.
Speaking on Friday - the final day of the summit - he made a firm commitment
that concrete progress would be made to bring peace and security to Africa,
making the continent attractive for investment.
This included the resolving conflicts and tensions, over the next year, in
the Democratic Republic of Congo, Sudan, Liberia, Burundi and Zimbabwe.
"We will make those advances on the African continent."
Various Nepad projects would be implemented over that period.
"Those who have been impatient, who have thought something that effectively
started two years ago must be producing results now, will see those results.
"Results that will give this message of Africans doing something to take
charge of their own lives," Mbeki said.
Although there were no firm commitments from business, the heads of some of
Africa's largest companies accepted a responsibility to help drive the
process, and to set an example for good corporate governance on the
Adebayo Ogunlesi, global head of investment banking at Credit Suisse First
Boston, said it was important that African business and investment
institutions set the standard for others to follow.
The continent was beginning to create African corporate giants that could
lead the investment drive and show the rest of the world there were
attractive opportunities in Africa.
Nepad's goals, he stressed, would not be achieved without partnership
between government and business.
Ogunlesi said the meetings held at the summit clearly showed there was
"something different about Africa now than (in) years before".
In 2002, the business community gave Nepad a ringing endorsement, but had
wanted to see moves on implementation.
A survey conducted ahead of this week's gathering found that while 80
percent of those who attended last year's meeting were now more optimistic
about the economic outlook for Africa, three out of four were growing
impatient with Nepad's progress.
US-based pharmaceutical giant Pfizer's senior vice-president Robert Mallett
said business delegates had stressed the importance of companies setting
standards for governance.
South African policies should be used as a benchmark for companies across
the continent, and workshops were being held to share these experiences, he
But, Ghana-based Ashanti Goldfields chief executive Sam Jonah warned that
investment would not flow to Africa unless the right political strategies
were in place.
In that sense there was no alternative to Nepad, but unless those
principles - of good governance, democracy and the rule of law - were
vigorously implemented, benefits would be seriously undermined.
"Unless we gear our efforts at creating the conditions that will stop
capital flight, and just as importantly will stop brain drain... all efforts
to bring foreign direct investment here will be futile," he said.
Speaking earlier, South African Trade and Industry Minister Alec Erwin
heralded a closer working relationship on Nepad between the Africa and the
G8 group of industrialised countries.
This included monthly meetings, and a recent commitment by the G8 to give
African countries greater access to their markets.
Group of Eight
One should not underestimate the contact between the Nepad Implementation
Committee and the secretariat, and the G8."
Replying to a statement that the WEF summit had not produced any firm
outcomes, he said that this closer relationship with the G8 and with
business was exactly what the meeting was about and what Nepad required.
However, not all the delegates were happy with the progress achieved in
making Nepad work.
Ghanaian private sector development minister Kwamena Bartels told reporters
much still had to be done by African countries and international partners to
make Nepad work.
Some Africans leaders had not delivered, in particular on the peer review
But, he said, the recovery plan must not be allowed to be held back by the
poor performance of those countries - a feeling shared by most participants
at the meeting.
Only 15 of the 53 member countries in the AU have so far signed up for
Nepad's peer review mechanism, which will allow for progress in adhering to
Nepad's policies to be monitored.
The annual summit will to Maputo, Mozambique, next year.
Leakey 'surprised' at Nepad
07/08/2003 18:53 - (SA)
Johannesburg - Retired Kenyan politician
Richard Leakey on
Thursday labelled the New Partnership for Africa's Development (Nepad) "an
excellent idea", but said he was surprised it had not achieved more.
"The Nepad idea is an excellent idea, but it will only work if
there is consistency ... I am surprised more has not been achieved," said
Leakey, who is in Johannesburg to deliver a lecture celebrating the birth of
his paleo-anthropologist father Louis Leakey on August 7, 1903.
Leakey, who endured an attack with whips and clubs by members of
the youth wing of former Kenyan president Daniel arap Moi's ruling Kanu
party in 1996, is scornful of limp political wrists.
"I don't think political soft-pedalling and placating will help.
It is good that Africa demand, of its own, better, but there seem to have
been a lot of limp-wristed responses," he said, mentioning the crises in
Zimbabwe and west Africa as examples.
"The partnership with the West is being held back."
The former Kenyan opposition MP, said he knew that when he
formed his party, Safina, in 1995, his name held clout.
"I was very discouraged with what was happening in Kenya at the
time and I wanted to see if, from a position of political advocacy, I could
make a change. Also, I knew that, in a sense, I had an external status and
thought I might be heard more loudly because of that."
There are few who would argue that this was a misinformed
theory. The Leakey name is almost synonymous with a myriad of
paleo-anthropological discoveries. His father, mother, wife and daughter
have all made impressive contributions to the way we understand our own
Louis Leakey was born in Kenya to English missionary parents and
might never have made it to a paleo-anthropological dig, according to his
"The First World War intervened (in Louis Leakey being sent, as
a boy born to English parents, to school in Britain). He had no formal
education and lived among people who had little Western influence. If it
hadn't been for the First World War he might have ... become a preacher like
Instead, still in his 20s, Louis Leakey was awarded a PhD for
his work stemming from finds he made on excavations in east Africa.
In 1932, he stunned the world by claiming that fossils he had
found there were those of our oldest true ancestors.
His theory that man came from Africa and not Asia was severely
damaged in 1935 when geologist Percy Boswell accompanied Louis Leakey on his
next expedition but could not find the excavation sites again.
Later, Louis Leakey redeemed himself in the eyes of the
scientific world, and his Africa-is-home theory is now generally accepted.
Richard Leakey, by a side route, followed in Louis and Mary
Leakey's footsteps and made some important paleo-anthropological finds.
The most impressive of these being the discovery in 1984 of
"Turkana Boy", the nearly-complete skeleton of a Homo erectus boy, and 1985
discovery of the first Australopithecus aethiopicus skull.
"I didn't want to go into that field myself. I felt that my
parents had done so well in it and there wasn't much for me to do. Now my
daughter, Louise, is also in it. She seems sincerely interested. It comes
from home environment."
"No, I don't think there is a gene," he laughs.
Despite the major finds, Leakey soon left paleo-anthropology,
taking on Kenyan conservation issues between 1989 and 1994 and then going
into politics, leaving that and taking on corruption in his country's civil
service. Now he is "thoroughly enjoying my second year of unemployment".
Not that he has been idle.
In these two years he has done some consulting, lectured at the
United States' Stoneybrook University, "taken time to think" and begun
writing another book.
"I am also trying to develop a vineyard in Kenya. I'm not idle,
but I am not harassed."
Having time to think and plan, Leakey has kept the new Kenyan
government, under President Mwai Kibaki under his watchful eye.
He acknowledges that the Kibaki government got off to a "pretty
ropey" start, inheriting massive economic and political problems from Arap
Moi, but Leakey believes that the seven months Kibaki has had at the helm
could have produced more.
"While I can only sympathise it is time now to demand more
action, more leadership ..."
Which brings us back to Nepad.
Leakey says there is a growing need among Africa's youth to see
their political leaders assume responsibility and enjoy fewer perks.
"There is a growing thought among the youth that, 'What right to
political leaders have?' They want to see more accountability. That is
certainly true in Kenya."
"I might go into politics again," Leakey muses.