Mnangagwa, Bredenkamp fall out Dumisani
Muleya/Augustine Mukaro ZANU PF secretary for administration Emmerson
Mnangagwa, accused of buying votes in his failed bid for the vice-presidency
and receiving help from tycoon John Bredenkamp, actually clashed with the
businessman over mineral deals in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), it
This comes amid accusations that Mnangagwa's failed campaign
was bankrolled by the controversial wheeler-dealer. Mnangagwa recently
launched a determined assault on the post, which however went to Joyce
If Mnangagwa had prevailed in the bid to secure the position
left vacant by the late veteran nationalist Simon Muzenda, he would almost
certainly have used it as a springboard in the race to succeed President
However, Mujuru trounced Mnangagwa, hitherto Mugabe's
perceived heir apparent, in the bitterly contested election. Mugabe hinted
during the Zanu PF congress on Saturday that Mujuru could be his
Official sources said Mnangagwa fell out with Bredenkamp
three years ago over cobalt and copper mining concessions in the
Mnangagwa, as State Security minister in the early 1980s, and
Mugabe's first press secretary Costa Pafitis, now corporate and public
affairs director of Bredenkamp's investment vehicle Breco, negotiated
Bredenkamp's return to Zimbabwe in 1982 after he was declared persona non
grata at Independence in 1980 for helping to prop up the Ian Smith regime by
sanctions-busting. Mnangagwa and Bredenkamp became friends as a result until
the acrimonious DRC fallout.
Bredenkamp said in an interview last
week he did not give Mnangagwa any money.
Mnangagwa has also said
Bredenkamp did not fund him. He said he only got gifts at his daughter's
wedding held at the tycoon's Borrowdale Brooke Golf Course on October
Bredenkamp said reports claiming he provided an aircraft for
officials associated with Mnangagwa's camp in Zanu PF to travel to the
controversial Tsholotsho meeting on November 18 were a "complete and utter
Mugabe said the meeting, disguised as a prize-giving
ceremony, was aimed at plotting "secrets deals" and "clandestine activities"
to frustrate Mujuru's nomination.
Information minister Jonathan
Moyo chartered the aircraft - a twin-engine propeller-driven Beechcraft
Baron - from Central Air Transport Services (Cats), which has no links with
Bredenkamp, for the private Tsholotsho trip, which cost $9,7 million in
taxpayers' money. Carl van der Riet, Cats managing director, last week
confirmed the charter but would not give details.
Mnangagwa fell out with Bredenkamp after the Zanu PF politician assisted
another local controversial businessman, Billy Rautenbach, retain cobalt and
copper mining concessions in the DRC in 2001.
Rautenbach, founder of
transport giant Wheels of Africa (cargo carriers), is now said to be
Mnangagwa's close associate. Sources said the money, which according to Zanu
PF chairman John Nkomo "exchanged hands" in Tsholotsho, came from "DRC
Ridgepoint, had entered a deal with the DRC government to
run state-owned Gecamines' mines in October 1998.
After a strike
at the mines in April 1999, the late DRC president Laurent Kabila kicked out
Rautenbach - whose property worth R60 million was seized in South Africa in
2000 over allegations of fraud, money-laundering and tax evasion - and got
in Bredenkamp's mining firm Tremalt Ltd, 100%-owned by the Breco Group of
companies. Bredenkamp invested US$20 million to revive the collapsing
Breco has interests in mining, agriculture, leisure, petroleum
products distribution, and real estate. Tremalt formed a joint venture firm
with Gecamines called Kababankola Mining Company.
Kabila's assassination in January 2001, Bredenkamp was also booted out and
Rautenbach brought back. Mnangagwa was said to have played a key role in
this. Sources say Bredenkamp viewed Mnangagwa's actions as "backstabbing"
and broke ties with him.
Political turmoil threatens beef herd Gift
Phiri ZIMBABWE'S commercial beef herd, which until three-and-a-half years ago
earned more than R14 billion annually from exports, is on the verge of
extinction as a result of the country's political turmoil.
national herd, bred over a period of 110 years for survival in Zimbabwe's
harsh conditions, stood at 1,4 million animals in 2000 when President Robert
Mugabe launched his fast track land reform programme.
middle of this year only 210 000 beef cattle survived," Paul d'Hotman,
Cattle Producers' Association chief executive, said. "At the last count
there were fewer than 125 000 animals, but the number will be lower by now.
The entire national herd is on the road to extinction and the whole gene
pool is being wiped out."
The looming disappearance of one of
Zimbabwe's most valuable assets is the most dramatic illustration yet of the
meltdown that is occurring in a country with one of the world's highest
inflation rate and the fastest-declining economy.
was one of Zimbabwe's top beef farmers until two years ago when he was given
48 hours to quit his 2 015 hectare farm and homestead with his herd of 1 200
pedigree cross Brahman-Charolet cattle that he had bred over 22
"It was impossible to get such a large number of animals off
the farm in that time," he said. "It was
Odendaal, whose farm, Condor "A", lies 250km south of
Harare in Masvingo province, said that in the first few hours many of his
cattle were stolen as settlers opened gates and broke down
"There was a complete breakdown of law and order and no
police backup," he said. "Thieves were coming from all over." Odendaal, who
bought his farm in 1981, said about 300 of his cattle were stolen.
Harare-Beijing flights in trouble Itai
Dzamara CHINA has made available to Air Zimbabwe two short-range aircraft
each with a carrying capacity of 60 passengers despite earlier promises that
the much-trumpeted deal would see the airline getting a long haul
Air Zimbabwe is unable to secure funds for the purchase of the two
Chinese-made MA60 planes and hopes that the recently launched flight between
Harare and Beijing would raise revenues have suffered a major
The Zimbabwe Independent has established that the flight
between Harare and Beijing was already facing serious viability problems due
to low passenger bookings. The long haul Boeing 767 plying the route is
averaging less than 50 passengers after the inaugural flight two weeks
A physical count of the passengers that were on the plane when
it returned to Harare International Airport on Wednesday morning showed
about 35 passengers had travelled from Beijing.
The same trend
characterises flights from Harare to Beijing. Most of the passengers have
been Chinese tourists travelling in groups of an average 15
Air Zimbabwe acting managing director Oscar Madombwe
confirmed the availability of the two short-range planes in China. "The two
MA60 planes are ready and we are still trying to secure money to pay for
them. We will get another plane of the same model if we pay for the two," he
"Government will be assisting with funds to purchase the planes and
we hope to raise part of the money from the Beijing flight."
two M60s were shown to government and Air Zimbabwe representatives three
weeks ago during the launch of the Beijing flight.
which had 15 planes at Independence, now has three that are operational with
two Boeing 767s plying the Beijing and London routes.
Communications minister Chris Mushowe said during a visit by a Chinese
delegation that Air Zimbabwe would be getting another long haul plane from
the Asian country.
China has meanwhile placed orders for the latest
Airbus planes from the European Airbus consortium for overseas routes.
'Zanu PF abusing civil servants' Augustine
Mukaro THE Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) has condemned the use of
civil servants for party business at the just-ended Zanu PF
In an interview with the Zimbabwe Independent yesterday MDC
spokesman Paul Themba Nyathi said the engagement of civil servants and
diplomats in party business has exposed Zanu PF as a primitive party that
cannot separate between partisan and national issues.
majority of civil servants do not support Zanu PF," Nyathi said. "For Zanu
PF to force-march the civil servants to its congress is appalling. There is
need for Zanu PF to realise that the civil service is a national institution
which has to be distinguished from the party."
Nyathi said the
distinction would only be realised if a party that is conscious of the
separation of roles is elected into power.
Business in several
ministries, parastatals and local authorities last week ground to a
standstill as key people were said to be attending the congress.
congress, high-ranking officials from almost all ministries could be seen
sporting Zanu PF regalia.
"Diplomats do not represent Zanu PF and to
drag them to a party congress is a serious abuse," Nyathi said.
total of 32 Zimbabwean ambassadors stationed throughout the world attended
last week's congress. During their stay the diplomats were booked into the
Moyo losing Tsholotsho Dumisani Muleya/Loughty
Dube BELEAGUERED Information minister Jonathan Moyo is facing yet another
blow to his faltering career at a time when he is battling for his political
Having failed to secure election to the central committee of the
ruling Zanu PF last week, Moyo is now likely to be barred under new rules
from contesting the forthcoming primary elections to select candidates to
represent the ruling party in the March general election.
has dispatched to provinces new regulations, first mooted in October, which
prohibit members with less than five years' participation in party
structures from standing during primaries.
Moyo was on Saturday
booted off the central committee for convening the controversial Tsholotsho
meeting on November 18, which President Robert Mugabe described as
"illegal", to discuss leadership changes.
Although Moyo had
reportedly beaten Bulawayo governor Cain Mathema in the nominations count,
Mugabe and the Zanu PF presidium vetted out his name. Mathema was brought in
and he is likely to be the Zanu PF candidate for Tsholotsho. Mathema said
yesterday he had "no comment" on the matter.
Official sources say
Moyo will almost certainly be left out of the politburo when new
appointments are made anytime now. He could also be dropped from
Moyo's catalogue of problems, apart from what Mugabe
called "clandestine activities", now include clashes with senior party
officials, abusing taxpayers' funds to organise music galas and promote the
PaxAfro band, chartering a plane for a private trip using public money, and
allegedly grabbing Net*One lines to distribute in his rural
He is also under pressure to account for an avalanche of
"donations", mostly in rural Tsholotsho. His attacks on Matabeleland North
governor Obert Mpofu and remarks that accusations about the Tsholotsho
meeting were "ugly lies" and "pure fiction" have landed him in further
Zanu PF's deputy national commissar Sikhanyiso Ndlovu said
yesterday his party had sent out the new benchmarks for the
"We adopted recommendations of the central committee and
the guidelines we have sent to the provinces. They stipulate that party
members contesting primary elections should have been in the structures for
five years or ámore," Ndlovu said. "That politburo decision was accepted by
Zanu PF chairman John Nkomo, who is part of the presidium,
yesterday said: "The regulations are part and parcel of our vetting
processes and they apply as and when the situation arises".
who has declared his interest in standing in Tsholotsho, only joined Zanu PF
in 2000 after the rejection of a government-sponsored draft constitution.
Before that he was a fierce critic of Mugabe and his
In 1999 Moyo accused Mugabe of having a tendency of
"shooting himself in the foot" and as a result had actually become a
"national problem". Moyo attended the 1999 Zanu PF congress as an "observer"
and slammed the ruling party afterwards for discussing irrelevant
But a few months later he became Zanu PF "campaign manager"
ahead of the 2000 parliamentary election after a stint as spokesman for the
Billion-dollar scam at Zisco Vincent
Kahiya ZIMBABWE'S ailing iron and steel manufacturer, Ziscosteel, could have
been fleeced of billion of dollars through underhand deals by senior
managers who allegedly underpriced exports in exchange for
Ziscosteel has over the years failed to operate at full
capacity due to breakdowns at its blast furnaces and undercapitalisation.
The sorry state of the parastatal has however been exacerbated by corrupt
tendencies in the export of steel which has been sold at below the market
price to South African companies.
There are also allegations that
molten steel is being deliberately spilled so that it can be sold as scrap
metal. The "spillage", known as "pool iron", is exported to South Africa for
prices well below the cost of production.
Ziscosteel deputy chairman
Jonathan Kadzura on Wednesday confirmed that investigations into unethical
activities at Ziscosteel were being carried out but could not give further
"We appreciate your concerns but internal investigations
have already started," said Kadzura. "We have NECI who started work this
week and until they have finished their investigations it will be sub judice
to comment further."
The probe, sources said, might also include
the role of senior managers of the Minerals Marketing Corporation of
Zimbabwe, entrusted with marketing minerals and mineral
The Zimbabwe Independent can reveal that until last month,
Ziscosteel was manufacturing steel lengths for export to Macsteel of South
Africa. The 20-foot lengths of nine-inch steel were being exported for
US$180 ($1 116 000 at the auction rate) a tonne instead of the market price
of $400 ($2 480 000) a tonne. Steel prices have been firming in the last
Sources said the steel was being sold at way below
production cost. The Independent this week heard that senior managers in the
marketing department were turning away prospective steel merchants who
wanted supply contracts with Ziscosteel. There are also allegations that the
managers have been showered with gifts from "South African friends"
benefiting from the under-invoiced steel.
general manager Alois Gowo last month ordered a revision of the price of
steel to US$400.
Chris Lacy, a trader at Macsteel International
yesterday said the price increase was "crazy".
"We have been
buying steel from Zisco for five years," said Lacy. "Noone would sell it at
that price. The latest increase is exorbitant. It's not in line with
international market price levels. Even if it covers C and F (cost and
freight), it's still too high."
Sources said the other leakage was in
the disposal of pool iron.
Ziscosteel has a contract with another South
African company, Reclamation Ltd, whose job is to recover metal spills and
export it to South African foundries. A tonne of pool iron was being sold at
R250 ($237 500) - which is less than the cost of iron ore, limestone and
coke used to produce it.
Reclamation was then selling the "scrap" iron to
South Africa's steel giant Iscor, Vereeniging, at R1 000 ($950 000) a
Reclamation chairman Dave Kassel yesterday confirmed through
his personal assistant that they had been buying iron from
"He (Kassel) confirms that Reclamation has been buying steel
from Zisco from time to time," the personal assistant said. The company said
it has been dealing with Zisco for the past 14 years and has been buying
steel at market prices.
But insiders this week said thousands of
tonnes of scrap metal had been exported to South Africa and the spillage
figures were shocking.
"Accidental spills occur from time to time and
the worse run a steel plant is, the more spills there might be," sources at
"Nevertheless, no matter how badly run the plant is, when
truckloads of pool iron have crossed Beitbridge the supply
dries up and what do they do? Pour perfectly good metal on the ground on
purpose," the source said.
Attempts by government to turn around
the fortunes at Zisco have in the last five years failed due to a number of
problems, which include poor capitalisation, shortage of raw materials, and
poor management practices. Former managing director Gabriel Masango is
currently on forced leave.
Made's bungling riles Mugabe Itai
Dzamara AGRICULTURE minister Joseph Made's handling of the food stocks issue
has reportedly angered President Robert Mugabe and the minister faces the
axe in an expected cabinet reshuffle.
Government sources said Mugabe
expressed dissatisfaction at assurances given by Made that there would be
enough maize from this year's harvest during Tuesday's cabinet
Mugabe has been insisting since early this year that the
country would not need humanitarian assistance because it had reaped a
Government projections, which originated from Made's
office, said the country would have 2,4 million tonnes of maize from this
The country requires 1,8 million tonnes of maize for
annual consumption and another 500 000 tonnes for strategic
"Mugabe was clearly unhappy and said the issue of food
stocks was causing a lot of humiliation on his part," a government source
said. "Made was asked to explain the situation and reports that there were
maize imports coming in from South Africa."
Made on Wednesday
admitted there were maize deliveries coming from South
"There are deliveries coming. But like we have been
saying all along, we placed the orders last year. I can't give the figures
(quantity) now," he said.
"The issue of food stocks has been
discussed in cabinet meetings because it is a vital aspect. I can't comment
on reports that I might be fired," Made said.
Independent has established that about 5 000 tonnes of maize were delivered
to the Grain Marketing Board recently. Another order of 300 000 tonnes has
been secured and awaits delivery.
Reports of government's purchase of
maize from outside the country to bridge the gap between this year's harvest
and consumption requirement were confirmed by the parliamentary portfolio
committee on Lands, Agriculture, Water Development, Rural Resources and
The committee in a report compiled after a countrywide
survey said the country would only realise 571 000 tonnes of maize from
local produce and imports by year-end.
According to the findings
of the committee, government, which by October was still denying that it was
importing maize, had in fact ordered 200 000 tonnes of the maize through
Made misled the nation in 2002 about the food situation
after he insisted there would be enough grain based on his aerial
Serious grain deficits later gripped the country, which
had to make late appeals for humanitarian assistance.
Acting mayor absolves Chombo of blame Augustine
Mukaro HARARE acting mayor Sekesai Makwavarara and the James Kurasha
committee have absolved Local Government minister Ignatious Chombo of any
wrong-doing in his interference with the running of council affairs as well
as harassing councillors through unilateral suspensions and
Chombo's meddling in council forced 18 Movement for
Democratic Change councillors to resign en masse citing excessive
interference by the minister ursuping powers in the Urban Councils
The other 19 councillors had been dismissed from
The Kurasha committee recommended the firing of former mayor
Elias Mudzuri from the council earlier this year.
A transcript of
the Kurasha committee's deliberations shows that Chombo's motive in
suspending and subsequently dismissing the mayor was to solve political
problems. But the committee did not want the minister to be accused of
political motives in his actions.
The committee said the removal of
Mudzuri was critical for the improvement of Harare because his stay would
have destabilised the lo-cal authority.
"I don't want the minister to
be accused of political intentions because in this case, we are establishing
that there are clear administrative factors that led the minister to the
suspension," the chairman said.
In her submission Makwavarara also
exonerated Chombo of subverting council authority. Instead she accused
Mudzuri of running down the city.
"I use to think kuti (that) va
Chombo ndivo vari kundoita (was) mess(ing) around in the council,"
Makwavarara said. "It is not him. Because now I am in the hot chair on my
own. Now, I am seeing everything. The man who is messing around in Harare is
She said: "I also used to say that kuti ndofunga (I
think) va Chombo is interfering too much in council business as well but iye
zvino ndakuona kuti kwete handizvo (now I can see that, No, it's not
Makwavarara said Mudzuri was carrying out council duties
without consulting other councillors so that in all cases his decisions
would carry the day.
"A lot of things zvaiitika ndezvekuti izvo (that
were happening), the man could just sideline you and you won't know what
will happen," she said.
"The information we have is that he would invite
his right hand men Nhari and Munengami to the mansion during the weekends.
Myself and Dr Mushonga were excluded. So he could caucus with the two
members. By the time we got together for our executive committee meeting, he
would call the four of us in his office and say this is what we have to do.
Any attempts to oppose his word would be quashed by the other members who
would have agreed to his proposals.
"So it became very difficult
for us to operate this council," she said.
Makwavarara alleges that
Mudzuri used to violate council procedures to suit his own
"I understand even in procurement, the chair would be told
what to do," she said.
The Combined Harare Residents Association
(CHRA) this week said Town House fortunes took a nosedive from the time when
the now dismissed mayor Mudzuri was suspended and subsequently
CHRA is taking government to court to force it to hold
It said Makwavarara had completely dropped the
stakeholders' consultation system resulting in council coming up with absurd
Meanwhile, Chombo yesterday announced a commission
to run the City of Harare.
The commission is chaired by acting
mayor Sekesai Makwavarara and includes politician Tendai Savanhu and
prominent architect Michael Mahachi. Other commissioners are Noel Muzuva,
Terrence Hussein and Professor Kurasha.
Media represssion earns embattled Moyo kudos Dumisani
Muleya EMBATTLED Information minister Jonathan Moyo got some good news during
the just-ended Zanu PF congress when his department was hailed for abusing
the state media to defend Zanu PF.
The Zanu PF central committee
report says Moyo's department did a good job by turning the public media
into Zanu PF megaphones.
Zimbabwe Broadcasting Holdings (ZBH), which
controls all television and radio stations, is singled out in the report for
praise, alongside the party's newspaper, The Voice.
gratifying that in the last five years, The Voice, together with the public
media and the ZBH have held their own against the local and foreign
opposition media and pirate radio stations like Capitol Radio, Voice of
America's Studio 7 and Britain's SW Radio Africa," the report
"This combined effort helped to slow down the merchants of
from spreading the hate speech and regime change agenda on
The Voice and the Southern Times, which is a joint
venture between the government-owned Zimpapers and New Era of Namibia, are
praised for spreading party-political propaganda.
It said the
Southern Times "must be seen as (a reflection of) cooperation between Zanu
PF and (Namibia's) Swapo".
The report further says: "The Voice has
been able to publicise the party's successes widely, especially in 2004.the
papers seem to be carving a niche in readership".
Moyo is also
praised for introducing repressive media laws such as the Broadcasting
Services Act and the Access to Information & Protection of Privacy Act,
under which three newspapers have been closed and dozens of independent
journalists arrested and subjected to malicious prosecution.
section, Information & Publicity: The Department and the Press War,
Moyo's department is commended for "exposing (imperialist) machinations and
bringing them to the attention of the party members and the public in
"The blatant lies that the imperialists were peddling
were causing a lot of damage to the party and the country and had to be
countered through the dissemination of factual information," the report
NGO Forum report irks Zimbabwe government Gift
Phiri ZIMBABWE last week rushed to respond to a damning report by
non-governmental organisations (NGOs) tabled at the just-ended 36th ordinary
session of the African Commission on Human and People's Rights (ACHPR) in
The report highlighted political repression and rising
human rights abuses in the country.
The permanent secretary in
the Justice Ministry, David Mangota, hurriedly moved to contest the
explosive report prepared by the Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum in a
desperate bid to ward off pressure from the ACHPR executive council during a
debate on the document that was classified as Item 7 on the
The report, presented by Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human
Rights director Arnold Tsunga, chronicled the flurry of repressive
legislation recently enacted by the Zimbabwe government, the relentless
persecution of human rights defenders, use of organised violence and torture
by government and undue interference with the judiciary and the legal
Mangota rubbished the allegations accusing NGOs of
"peddling false information". Commenting on the repressive Access to
Information and Protection of Privacy Act (Aippa), Mangota said: "Most of
the challenged provisions have been found to be constitutional and only one
or two provisions have been struck off as unconstitutional." He declined to
comment on the closure of the Daily News and its sister paper, the Daily
News on Sunday saying "the issue is sub judice as it is a communication
before the commission".
Regional media watchdog, Media Institute
of Southern Africa (Misa) had sought the indictment of the Zimbabwe
government over the closure of the two papers. Mangota then tried to justify
the closure of the Tribune saying "the paper was in violation of the Act
under which it was registered.
"The fact that the paper's majority
shareholder is a sitting member of parliament and a member of the ruling
party Zanu PF shows that the legislation is applied equally without bias,"
Mangota tried to defend the draconian Public Order and
Security Act (Posa)
saying the law was inspired by Australian and British
public order legislation, an assertion that has been dismissed by the two
"These are countries we are continually referred to by
NGOs and the opposition in Zimbabwe to be epitomes of democracy," Mangota
said. "Government worked with the (parliamentary legal) committee to ensure
that the Bill was consistent with the Zimbabwe constitution. Thereafter the
committee issued a report that all the provisions of the Bill were
consistent with our constitution and in particular the Bill of Rights in the
Mangota denied that the judiciary had been severely
compromised. Tsunga had alleged that legislation had been passed to
supersede the jurisdiction of the courts to grant bail in certain political
cases and where individuals were accused of economic
Citing jailed opposition legislator Roy Bennett's case,
Tsunga told the commission that the court's jurisdiction had been usurped by
However, Mangota answered: "Recently the independence of our
judiciary was celebrated in our country by the opposition and the NGOs
following the acquittal of (Morgan) Tsvangirai, the president of the
opposition MDC from charges of treason. Where challenges to the constitution
made by the opposition or the NGOs are successful, the independence of the
judiciary is not an issue. But when the challenges are unsuccessful, it is
claimed that the judiciary is being manipulated by the
Mangota categorically denied that there was
state-sponsored violence in Zimbabwe. He said the reports were "fictitious",
intended to give an impression that there was an increase in human rights
abuses in Zimbabwe.
Mangota also defended the NGOs Bill currently before
parliament saying it was aimed at the prohibition of foreign funding for
only those NGOs involved in governance issues.
"The Bill does not
prohibit funding of NGOs involved in developmental, humanitarian and other
related activities," he said.
Mangota repeated government's mantra
that British prime minister Tony Blair had been funding the political
activities of NGOs and the opposition through the Westminster Foundation,
hence the need to curtail the activities of such
Mangota also said there were no deaths caused by
starvation in Zimbabwe. He said that the government had managed to meet the
needs of its people.
"Allegations are that the government is distributing
food relief for political mileage and that persons critical of government
are not receiving state assistance," said Mangota. "Considering that the
opposition political party in our country claims to have the majority
support, we should by now have seen high levels of starvation if the
allegations were true," he said.
"Government is yet to receive reports of
deaths caused by starvation."
Mangota told the commission that the
government has a functioning social security task force whose responsibility
includes monitoring the food supplies in the country.
Daily News owners edgy ahead of ruling Gift
Phiri THE management and owners of Zimbabwe's banned independent daily
newspaper, the Daily News, are edgy ahead of an expected High Court ruling
to have its reporters accredited with the government-appointed Media and
Information Commission (MIC).
Associated Newspapers of Zimbabwe
(ANZ), the publishers of the Daily News and its sister weekly, The Daily
News On Sunday, filed an application in the High Court seeking a declaratory
order to have the stable's journalists accredited. Justice Lawrence Kamocha
is expected to hand down his ruling next week after reserving judgement on
the matter two weeks ago.
An urgent application lodged in the courts
in February was dismissed by Justice Alfas Chitakunye, who ruled that the
matter was not pressing.
The latest application, lodged by ANZ (Pvt)
Ltd as a corporate body, news editor Luke Tamborinyoka, editor Nqobile
Nyathi and deputy editor John Gambanga, cites MIC chairman Tafataona Mahoso
as the first respondent and Information minister Jonathan Moyo as the second
In their court application, being handled by Pilate
Mahlangu of Gill, Godlonton & Gerrans, the journalists argue that at the
time their accreditation expired on December 31, 2003 the MIC had been
declared by the Administrative Court to be "improperly
"It was in fact not reconstituted and remains, as far
as my colleagues and I are aware, improperly constituted," reads the
affidavit by Nyathi. "There was therefore no commission before which we
could apply to renew our accreditation."
The court application
says notwithstanding this impediment and subsequent to a Supreme Court
ruling that the reporters be accredited, the applicants prepared and filed
through the MIC applications for accreditation on February 6, 2004. The
journalists however did not receive any response from the MIC. They argue
that the MIC did not advise on what action had been taken in respect of the
"It seems to us clear that the first respondent does
not intend to deal with our applications for accreditation," the journalists
said in their court application.
In their opposing papers filed
after the first urgent application, Mahoso and Moyo, through their lawyer
Johannes Tomana of Muzangaza, Mandaza & Tomana, argued that the
journalists were not banished from practising but their registration would
only be accepted on condition that they find another employer or editors
willing to buy their stories on a freelance basis.
WHITE Zimbabwean farmers fleeing President Robert Mugabe's
controversial land reform programme will this month formally take over
farmland allocated to them in central Nigeria, an official said on
Tajudeen Kareem, spokesperson for the state of Kwara, said
that 15 Zimbabweans who visited the region earlier this year and struck
property leasing deals were expected back within the next few
"We are currently doing a survey of their plots of land. We
expect them back before the end of the year and once we have finished the
survey, we will hand their farmland over to them," Kareem said from Ilorin,
the state capital.
The Kwara State government has allocated 1 000
hectares of farmland to each of the "pioneer farmers", he
The Zimbabweans will carry out "irrigation farming and not
conventional farming. This will allow them to begin their farming anytime
they are áready," he added.
In July, a spokesperson for the
farmers, Alan Jack, said that they had each reached a deal with the
government to take separate 25-year leases on thousand-hectare parcels of
"We are very excited about Nigeria and about being
granted a pioneer status. The people are very friendly," he
"Nigeria is very good for farming, compared to Zimbabwe where
land is forcefully taken from the whites and given to the blacks. I am a
victim of President Mugabe's policy," he said.
The 15 will farm
maize, rice, cassava, dairy cattle, poultry and vegetables.-AFP.
Bennett wastes away in Mutoko Prison Itai
Dzamara SLIGHTLY darker in complexion, looking tired and clearly having lost
weight, the figure of Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) MP for
Chimanimani Roy Bennett is out of place among the other prisoners at Mutoko
Not only is he the only white man, he still has a bigger frame
compared to the other inmates. The majority of them were jailed for offences
such as dealing in mbanje, gold panning, cattle rustling and
Another common offence in Mutoko and Mudzi districts is brewing
the illicit kachasu.
A small complex with typically dilapidated
buildings less than a kilometre south west of Mutoko growth point is Mutoko
Prison, where Bennett is trying to adjust to harsh living
This is different territory from Chimanimani where he was
involved in daily battles with the army and Zanu PF supporters who
eventually took over his Charleswood Estate in defiance of eight court
The Zimbabwe Independent visited the prison last week and had
a glimpse of the opposition legislator's new lifestyle in the north-eastern
part of the country.
Bennett talks to the other prisoners and
could be seen smiling and even laughing during a conversation with some
fellow inmates. But he is not the robust figure that the people in
Chimanimani had come to know as "Pachedu" (together as one). He now has a
shaven head and dons thick khaki prison garb like all the other inmates. He
is allowed only fortnightly family visits for ten minutes at a
"Bennett can only be seen by his wife and two other guys, who
must be his brothers," a prison warder said upon inquiry. "Part of the
conditions is also that the wife and brothers can only see him once every
two weeks. They cannot bring food. He will only be allowed to take food from
them at Christmas."
Heather Bennett told Sky TV News yesterday
that conditions at the prison were "horrendous".
It is the
planting season and Mutoko Prison has plots in the adjacent farm. The prison
mainly grows maize to cater for staff and prisoners' consumption whilst the
surplus is sold.
This season, the workforce includes Bennett as his
jail term has a component of hard labour.
Under the command of
peevish prison warders, the prisoners wake up at dawn to start the day's
toil in the fields. Breakfast is a cup of black tea, a plain slice of bread
or alternatively a plate of porridge. Late in the afternoon, lunch is
served. The menu is a few grains of beans swimming in a brown pool of liquid
to accompany a fist-size morsel of sadza. The alternative is kapenta in
Either of the two dishes is served for supper before
the prisoners retire to sleep, which in itself is a battle under the cover
of dirty blankets infested with lice.
There are 38 to a
The effects of this diet and quality of hygiene can be seen on
the weary bodies of the prisoners.
A debate in parliament on the
issue of stock theft on May 18 started it all for Bennett. Justice minister
Patrick Chinamasa accused Bennett's ancestors of being "thieves and
murderers" to justify government's seizure of his Charleswood Estate. He
said Bennett would never be allowed to set foot on his property
An incensed Bennett charged at Chinamasa and floored him.
Anti-Corruption and Monopolies Minister Didymus Mutasa joinedthe scuffle in
support of Chinamasa but also landed on the floor.
"I kicked him
hard," Mutasa later said.
Bennett was found guilty by the special
privileges committee. It recommended that he be sentenced to one-year
imprisonment. Zanu PF's majority in parliament carried the day and the House
adopted the recommendation.
Bennett's apologies later in the House
He promised to return and complete the journey to
freedom together with others as he headed for Chikurubi Maximum Security
Prison where hard-core criminals are detained.
The journey had
not ended for Bennett as he was transferred to the remote Mutoko Prison in
In Chimanimani, jostling for Bennett's seat ahead
of next year's election has intensified among Zanu PF candidates who hope to
win by default as Bennett may be ineligible to contest.
Congress offers relief to some Gift Phiri TO the
more than 9 500 party faithful who attended the ruling Zanu PF National
People's Congress, the event was nothing less than a chance to revel in the
ruling party's extravagance.
The profligate congress wound up in Harare
on Sunday amidst a degenerating economy, food shortages, record poverty and
unemployment. Analysts said long-suffering Zimbabweans, bussed from the
country's 10 provinces, took advantage of the four-day congress to escape
the gnawing poverty back home and at least get a chance to have three square
meals a day while it lasted. Hundreds of delegates were booked into the
five-star Harare Sheraton Hotel where they were served expensive cuisine
courtesy of the ruling party. They chanted ruling party slogans and
denounced the MDC with renewed vigour. An estimated $20 billion was blown
during the special assembly.
The congress, held once every five
years, had nothing to do with resolving the country's intensifying political
and economic crisis but more about solving power struggles within Zanu
University of Zimbabwe lecturer and political commentator Heneri
Dzinotyiwei said the congress did not concern ordinary Zimbabweans but was
aimed at silencing discussion on President Mugabe's retirement and quashing
a power struggle over his succession.
"Clearly it did not concern
ordinary citizens," Dzinotyiwei said. "The congress failed to come up with
solutions to the country's political and economic problems. It had more to
do with power struggles which obviously have nothing to do with the problems
that ordinary Zimbabweans are facing."
Instead of coming up with
solutions to an excruciating five-year economic downturn, Mugabe chose to
expend his energies on purging the party's ranks of a group of Young Turks
challenging the largely octogenarian old guard's grip on
The chief victim of the Young Turks was his Information
minister Jonathan Moyo, a scourge of the free press who, with several
others, was axed from the party's powerful central
Moyo was accused of plotting against Joyce Mujuru, a
veteran ally of Mugabe who was sworn in as Zimbabwe's new vice-president on
Monday. The president seized the opportunity to deliver a calculated rebuff
to an increasingly erratic and unpopular minister whose main role is to
vilify the regime's opponents and wreck Zimbabwe's free
National Constitutional Assembly chairman Lovemore Madhuku
said besides positioning a woman to occupy one of the vacant
vice-presidential post, nothing else would change.
"It was just a
talk show that was insignificant to the ordinary person," Madhuku said. "It
was a non-event that endorsed the candidacy of the same coterie of Zanu PF's
old guard. At least if there was a change in leadership, we would expect a
change in direction and policy. Otherwise as it turned out, the congress was
a non-event that should be dismissed with the contempt it
Madhuku said the reappointment of Joseph Msika as the
other vice-president and party chairman, John Nkomo, in the four-member
presidium, with Mujuru as the only new addition, warranted these
PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe and his old guard emerged from the ruling
Zanu PF's fourth congress which ended earlier this week on top after a
bitter power struggle which threatened the fabric of the
Mugabe and his loyalists used all the instruments of repression at
their disposal to crush rising dissent which followed a bruising contest for
power and prevent seismic leadership changes. This ensured the cabal of
veteran nationalists at the helm of Zanu PF maintained its rigid grip and
unassailable position in the party - at least for now.
came against a background of searing trials and tribulations. The
long-running political and economic crisis presented serious challenges. The
problems included high inflation, poverty, unemployment, shortages of fuel,
foreign currency, and electricity, macro-economic instability and food
shortages. Zimbabwe's social and economic conditions has continued to
deteriorate. In particular, the chaotic land reform programme has largely
contributed to a sharp reduction in agricultural output.
also concerns about governance, the rule of law and human rights, and lack
of clarity about property rights. These issues have severely damaged
investor-confidence, promoted capital flight and mass emigration. Social
services delivery systems face collapse and the HIV/Aids pandemic remains
largely unchecked and on the march.
Zanu PF and its leadership found
themselves confronted with a sea of troubles - compounded by a heightened
power struggle and deep factionalism - and this emergency ultimately
presented a clear and present danger to them. For that reason - if no other -
Zanu PF needed to tackle the crisis vigorously. But the scramble for power
dominated congress proceedings. It became the volatile issue that needed to
be stabilised to contain the dangerous state of flux the party was locked
Mugabe's hitherto heir apparent Emmerson Mnangagwa and his
spin-doctor Jonathan Moyo, who led the vanquished group which reportedly
tried to stage a palace coup against the party leadership, were knocked down
in the concentrated backlash that followed. The Mnangagwa faction was
accused by Mugabe and others of holding an "illegal" and "clandestine"
meeting which was disguised as a prize-giving ceremony at Dingane Secondary
School in Tsholotsho, Matabeleland North province, on November 18 to plot a
new command structure for Zanu PF.
Although Moyo claimed it was a "mere
speech and prize-giving ceremony", Mugabe said the function attended by a
number of Mnangagwa's supporters was a subversive political
gathering. While Mnangagwa did not attend the event due to an emergency
politburo meeting on the same day, he was supposed to be the guest of honour
and thus culpable. After quizzing the culprits in court martial-style
hearings in Bulawayo on November 26, Mugabe then launched purges in his
The first casualties of the crackdown included six provincial
chairmen and war veterans' leader Jabulani Sibanda, who were suspended for
six months and four years respectively. Moyo was however the biggest
loser at congress. He was dropped from the central committee by Mugabe and
now faces dismissal from the politburo and cabinet. Moyo, who tried to
defend himself through vitriolic counter-attacks, is currently battling for
political survival. But the defeat of the Mnangagwa faction and its
containment afterwards came at a huge cost to democratic development both
within and outside Zanu PF.
The ruling party probably came out of
congress in relatively better shape, cohesion and strength ahead of next
year's general election. But the danger is that unity enforced by threats
and suppression of alternative voices is too fragile to stand the test of
There is also the risk of creating a groundswell of discontent and
internal opposition, which will bubble under the surface until it finally
explodes. The Zanu PF "rebels" were overbearingly hushed-up and they appear
down at the moment. But they may not be out as yet. The conspiracy of
silence in the aftermath of the onslaught could become a hotbed for
heightened future instability. While it appears the fierce
counter-offensive by Mugabe and his old guard left the Young Turks
incapacitated and immobilised, it did not address the need for a renewed
party leadership. The repackaged Zanu PF hierarchy of Mugabe, Joseph Msika,
Joyce Mujuru and John Nkomo is almost certainly old wine in new
bottles. Mujuru - whom Mugabe hinted could now be his anointed successor - is
seen by some analysts as a "pawn in a dangerous political game" because she
is supposed to have come in just to prevent Mnangagwa's ascendancy. "She
has earned her place in the past, but in this case she is coming through as
a pawn in a deadly political game," said analyst Eldred
Masunungure. "It's going to be very difficult for Mujuru's name to be
seen outside this political saga. The impression is that she was imposed and
a lot of people were purged to pave the way for her." Appointments to the
central committee clearly show Mugabe wanted to ring-fence himself with
deadwood - some of them reactionaries - and that is not helpful in ensuring
leadership renewal and continuity in Zanu PF.
Although the old guard
managed to shirk the compelling demand for consequential leadership changes,
in the end it only postponed rather than resolved the problem. The real
succession fight might still be on the cards after all. The quality and
calibre of leadership in the Mnangagwa grouping was questionable, to say the
least. The faction's top candidates include the Zanu PF Women's League
chairperson Thenjiwe Lesabe, expected to be co-vice-president with Mnangagwa
himself, and legal affairs secretary Patrick Chinamasa. Moyo was earmarked
to be secretary for administration. This line-up of political hawks - with
threadbare democratic credentials - hardly fits the description of the
leadership of good temperament which Zanu PF and Zimbabwe desperately need
The simmering situation after congress is further compounded by
intensified ethnic tensions which may be fuelled by the new Zanu PF
structure. There appears to be tribal restlessness stemming from the
election of the recycled Zanu PF leadership.
The most common claim
has been that the Karanga and Manyika people have been totally "left out" of
the Zanu PF presidium and thus marginalised.
There have also been charges
that Zezurus have grabbed all the top positions and consolidated their
hegemony in local politics. Mugabe, Msika and Mujuru are being conveniently
classified as Zezuru in this tribal model to suit designed positions. Ethnic
contradictions among Shona and Ndebele groups, themselves a hodgepodge of
different tribes brought together by history and circumstances, are also
being stirred in this debate. But the growth of politics based on narrow
concerns, especially regionalism and ethnicity - which promote a
take-no-prisoners activism - can be very damaging to a nation. In a bid
to reassert his political supremacy in Zanu PF, Mugabe also significantly
undermined emerging democratic discourse and pulsating politics in his
He strengthened his repressive hand and growing conviction in
negative democratic centralism, which in essence is authoritarianism. On
balance, Zanu PF's closed and controlled politics were further tightened, a
move which could precipitate an accelerated decline and widen the mounting
democratic deficit. Thus the outcome of the critical congress simply
proved - as much to Zanu PF itself as to others as well - that democratic
practice only existed more as an illusion than a reality in the ruling
party. This reinforces the view that Zanu PF and Zimbabwe are only
democratic in form but authoritarian in substance.
But Mugabe seems
to think that narrowing down the democratic space in his party and elsewhere
in the name of firm control is evidence of "democracy at work" as he claimed
at congress. Although no party leadership anywhere in the world would allow
"secret dealings" and "clandestine activities", as Mugabe openly
characterised the Tsholotsho meeting, the impact of his actions on national
politics is likely to extend far beyond what could be imagined while the
Zanu PF political soap opera runs its course. As seen in the past, the
squashing of debate and criticism within Zanu PF suppressed multiparty
democracy and severely undermined the credibility and effectiveness of
parliament as a democratic, representative institution. It had an immensely
negative impact on the political, economic and social factors, which had
helped to promote - and also hold back - a national democratic agenda. This
has had dire consequences for governance and national development - which is
why Zimbabwe is today identified with political repression and economic
If Mugabe is allowed, without rhyme or reason, to impose his
will on Zanu PF, as happened during congress, it becomes exceedingly
difficult for his own party, let alone ordinary citizens, to insist on fair
political competition, hold government accountable, ensure elected officials
are responsive to their interests and demands, foster a culture of
transparency and consultation, and allow popular participation in
"I STAND here renewed, invigorated, rejuvenated, born again," declared
President Robert Mugabe at the close of his party's Fourth National People's
Congress on Sunday.
"I feel proud to lead a party of people who know
what they want; people with a past, a revolutionary past; people who know
how to defend their country, their sovereignty." One could not miss the
jarring sense of incongruity in the president's remarks considering the
intrigues and scheming that preceded the five days of rubber-stamping of
But the deceit has gone on for so long in Zanu PF it has
become a way of life. Joyce Mujuru was imposed on the party as a candidate
to fulfil the so-called quota system suddenly recalled when a candidate was
needed to block the ambitions of a powerful plotter.
That in itself
limited the scope of debate and choice. She was chosen to fill the vacancy
created by the death of Simon Muzenda who stood as a pillar for President
Mugabe along with Joseph Msika. Together with party chairman John Nkomo the
four constitute the party's Soviet-era presidium.
We don't wish to take
away anything from Mujuru or Msika. What we don't understand is why the
appointment of a female Zanu PF vice-president should be turned into an
occasion of national celebration when there are no demonstrable benefits
accruing to the nation. Apart from an anachronistic tribal balancing act,
what is "revolutionary" about having two vice-presidents? If anything, it
demonstrates that Zanu PF has been unable to restructure itself in any
useful way since 1987.
President Mugabe himself has not given the
presidium the dignity that it should have. At the height of the farm
occupations in 2001 Vice-President Msika ordered that war veterans who had
invaded a farm in Mazowe be evicted. He was acting president at the
When Mugabe returned he reversed that decision because it did not
suit his revolutionary demagoguery. Msika must have felt thoroughly
humiliated but didn't have anything to say. At the beginning of this year
when the Zanu PF Young Turks decided to take over Kondozi Estate near Odzi
in Manicaland, Msika once again tried to intervene. He was bluntly told by
Information minister Jonathan Moyo that there would be "no going back on
Kondozi". He lost again. His claim that he had reached a compromise with
President Mugabe on the future of the farm sounded unconvincing.
few years ago when Mujuru was Information minister, she took a swipe at then
Vice-President Joshua Nkomo for backing Econet boss Strive Masiyiwa's bid
for the first cellular phone licence. She said Nkomo had lost his mind
because of old age.
Nothing happened to her. Not that anything should
have. She did apologise. What we are asking is what changes can Mujuru's
appointment ring in either for the nation or the status of women? What is
the point of having an acting president if his or her decisions can be
challenged at will by war veterans and other lawless groups and Mugabe sides
with them? What independent decisions can Mujuru make that would be any
different from what Mugabe chooses to do? We ask these questions because
they go to the heart of the matter. How does singing Mujuru's praises
ameliorate the dictatorship that Zimbabwe has become since the inauguration
of the executive presidency in 1987?
There was a huge irony in Mugabe
saying he was "proud to lead a people who know what they want". Those who
know what they want must kowtow to Mugabe and remain silent. Those who dared
raise objections in Tsholotsho against his chosen lady are licking their
wounds. What happened to the open debate we were promised? In
Matabeleland South Zanu PF chair John Nkomo was told to go and teach the
people the proper gwara and their nominations were reversed overnight.
Sikhanyiso Ndlovu and Dumiso Dabengwa are in the central committee courtesy
of presidential fiat. And so is Cain Mathema. The long and short of it is
that the presidency has remained immutable. Mugabe rules as he pleases
although he wants to give the impression of collective responsibility. We
therefore wonder what difference Amai Mujuru will make to the operations of
the presidency and why there is so much fuss about her being the "first
female vice-president in southern Africa" and the first woman to act as
Minister of Defence.
We are raising these issues so that we move beyond
the creeping suspicion that Mujuru was elevated to the vice-presidency to
block the Emmerson Mnangagwa train. That would likely assure Mugabe that
there is no threat to his office in the foreseeable future.
every reason to feel "born again" and "rejuvenated" after surrounding
himself with paper tigers and ensuring his post is unassailable. But does
the lady herself have a mind of her own to rise beyond the rung where she
has been suddenly placed? Besides being a liberation-war combatant and now a
mother figure, what are her views on the future of this country? Does
anybody know? Does she know?
PROGRESS in reducing inflation over the last 10 months has been
spectacular, and is very greatly attributable to the actions of Reserve Bank
of Zimbabwe governor Gideon Gono. From the moment that he took office on
December 1 2003, one of his key economic targets was to curb the rampant
hyperinflation and, as rapidly as possible - which he estimated to be three
years - to bring the year-on-year rate of inflation down to single-digit
Inflation peaked at an all-time high of 622,8% in January 2004
and has been in constant decline ever since. Within six months it had fallen
to 362, 9%, a decrease of over 40%, and by October 2004 the inflation rate
had fallen to 209%. Within a relatively short period of time it had reduced
to approximately one-third of the horrendous record height attained in
January and the governor, Acting Finance and Economic Development minister
Herbert Murerwa and the International Monetary Fund all foreshadow a rate of
between 160% and 180% by year-end.
Gono's favourite phrase is that
"there is no gain without pain", and it's undeniable that the war on
inflation, and the victories in that war to date, have occasioned some
considerable pain. In particular, a key weapon in the war was containment of
the depreciation of the Zimbabwe dollar in order that landed costs of
imports not escalate unduly.
However, despite the importance of that
objective, it had a major negative factor in that it rapidly eroded export
viability for the agricultural, mining and manufacturing sectors, as well as
the viability of many tourism enterprises. The governor sought to compensate
the exporters by provision of various incentives and of loan funding at
concessional rates. Regrettably, however, those compensations did not
suffice as the loss of access to even lower cost offshore loan facilities
and the magnitude of inflation, albeit declining, outweighed the benefits
extended by the governor.
Although the immense prejudice suffered by
exporters cannot credibly be gainsaid, it does not minimise the import of
the lowering of inflation achieved to date. The fall in inflation has not
alleviated the widespread poverty that afflicts so very many Zimbabweans,
for prices continue to rise for as long as there is inflation, but that fall
in inflation has contained, to some extent, the intensification of that
poverty. The expectation of the governor is that in 2005 inflation will fall
to a maximum of 50% and in the following year to below 10%. That expectation
has been substantially reiterated by Murerwa in his recent 2005 budget
statement. It is to be hoped that those expectations are well-founded and
will materialise. However, the prospects are not very high due to two
The first of those factors is merely technical. The rate of
inflation is determined by calculation of the percentage of movement in the
Consumer Price Index (CPI) between a prior date - for example, a year
previous - and the current date. As the CPI had soared upwards to a
draconian extent in 2003, the 2004 indices were measured against a very high
base, resultant in the decline being significant in extent.
as the months of 2005 go by, the measure will be against indices from which
movement will be considerably lesser than in the prior year and therefore
the extent of decrease in inflation will be far less.
But what is of
greater importance is that the very great extent to which inflation may, in
fact, rise once again as a result of governmental acts of commission and of
omission. First and foremost is government's gross inability to contain the
excesses of its parastatals and to restructure those parastatals as viable,
commercial entities. The parastatals have recurrently proved themselves as
incapable of containing their operational costs, and equally or even more
incapable of addressing their cash flow requirements in any manner other
than by repeated increases in charges. In particular the increases in
charges do not even achieve the intended objective of enhanced revenues. As
charges increase, so the demand for the goods or services of the parastatals
diminishes. The parastatals are repeatedly oblivious to "the law of
diminishing returns", whereby the greater the prices or the rates of
charges, the lesser the demand and, therefore, the lesser the revenue
It becomes ever more apparent that most parastatals will not
even consider whether their viability could not be attained by recourse to
achieving efficiencies instead of afflicting the consumer further. First and
foremost of such parastatals are Zimpost and Tel*One. While the
year-on-year inflation to October 2004 was 209%, the inflation in
communication costs was a gargantuan 2 999,6%. In other words, inflation of
communication costs was more than 14 times overall inflation!
has already increased its charges three times in 2004, and then has imposed
increases of more than 50% with effect from December 1 2004. It now costs
the equivalent of about 20 loaves of bread to send one Christmas card to the
As for Tel*One, it too endlessly increases its charges.
If, instead, it would ensure effective operations of its networks, the
consumer would be able to make many more calls, thereby giving Tel*One its
needed revenues. In practice, it can take recurrent dialling for over four
hours to be able to connect to a telephone subscriber elsewhere in Zimbabwe
than in the home town or city of the originator of the call, and as many
hours to transmit a fax.
But it is not only the communication
parastatals that resort to extortion of exorbitant charges. The same holds
good for power utility Zesa, with domestic electricity charges having risen
by 347% in the year to October 2004, while charges to commercial consumers
have risen to an even greater degree. Yet another major increase is
scheduled for next month, based upon a spurious justification of
rationalisation to regional average rates.
And, in like manner, the
government's transportation parastatals - National Railways of Zimbabwe, Air
Zimbabwe and Zupco - continuously increase their charges, almost in direct
correlation to declining operational efficiency and decreasing customer
care. Inconceivably, it is now cheaper to transport coal by road than it is
to transport it by rail. The only difference between the business and
economy classes on Air Zimbabwe's domestic flights are greater legroom, a
glass of fruit juice and a massively greater airfare. Both classes are
blessed with very attentive and capable cabin staff, but Air Zimbabwe's head
office has little, if any, concern for the passenger other than to extract
ever more in fares.
However, government's fuelling of inflation is
not limited to parastatal mismanagement. It continues to borrow heavily in
the domestic market, with a further $4,5 trillion of borrowings budgeted for
2005. Those borrowings are sourced mainly from prescribed assets of pension
funds, insurers and like institutions, and from the private sector,
"crowding out" commerce and industry and other economic sectors, and thereby
TSO what happened to Carlton Majuru on Monday? Muckraker left
home late hoping, as Carlton always advises, that when I got to work late I
would claim I was listening to Live 60. So I waited. And waited. There was
nothing, no apology, not even a remark.
Luckily I wasn't fired. But
the delay in getting to work allowed Muckraker to listen to the next
programme on SFM when listeners were asked to send congratulatory messages
to newly appointed second vice-president Joyce Mujuru. People were also
asked to say what they expected from "the first female vice-president in
southern Africa". A lady phoned to say she was happy with Mujuru's
appointment but begged that in future the search for female candidates
should go beyond those who participated in the liberation struggle. Not
everyone could have left the country to fight. Others were not yet born. In
short, she said merit should come before mosquito bites.
gentlemen complained that there was no democracy in Zanu PF because people
had been told to specifically choose a woman. That automatically defeated
the whole purpose of "choosing". Then came a bombshell at around 8.30am. The
gentleman said he was not impressed by Mujuru's elevation because "she is a
dunderhead". "No, no," interjected the presenter. "I said let's send
congratulatory messages and say what you expect from her."
The guy on the
other end of the telephone line was relentless. "No, I don't expect anything
from a dunderhead who only spent three days in a pit latrine in Mozambique
and is now vice-president." He was quickly cut off. How long is ZBH going to
continue ring-fencing Mujuru and shielding her from public scrutiny, we
President Mugabe's crackers are exploding hard and fast among the
party membership. He said there was no room for "political prostitutes" in
the party. This referred to "those whose hearts and souls" could be bought
with money. It wasn't clear though who the political prostitute was - the
one being bought or the one doing the buying.
"Those with the mind
that can be bought, hearts that can be sold are political prostitutes and
this party has no room for political prostitutes," Mugabe told the closing
session of his party's congress. Unfortunately he didn't have the courage to
name and shame. He also didn't say if political prostitution only involves
money. Could that also have been an oblique reference to Her Worship in
The story on the front page of the Sunday Mail was titled "No
room for political prostitutes: President". On the turn to page 3 the
heading had changed to "No room for political turncoats". The story doesn't
say who used that word or whether "prostitute" and "turncoat" mean the same
South African reggae musician Lucky Dube must be ruing his visit
to Zimbabwe last week. According to the Herald, Lucky arrived at the venue
of the show around 1.30am courtesy of our tourist-friendly immigration
officials. He said at the border they were moved "from point to point"
resulting in the delay. "An officer at the border asked me why my passport
had a stamp into London and no stamp for coming out of London," complained
"Imagine being sent back to South Africa because your passport has
80 pages when the officer expects 100 and South African officials saying
it's the right passport. That's what our life is all about and you will
accept that we were born to suffer," Dube told the crowd before breaking
into his Born to Suffer classic. Few will deny that Zimbabwe has the
misfortune of always shooting itself in the foot. And they want to talk of
tourism recovery amid such xenophobia!
Nathaniel Manheru has come out
in full support of Information minister Jonathan Moyo who was heavily
censured by the party for the so-called Tsholotsho Declaration. Manheru says
Moyo and his colleagues may have "erred but they are hardly
But how do you defend someone you describe as "subversive" -
whatever that refers to? He said while the old guard in the party represents
"wisdom", not "all of them are patriotic, innovative, current, competent and
of a democratic temperament".
We would have benefited from him
explaining what constitutes "patriotism" and how it is measured in a man.
And what democratic temperament does Manheru find in a man who dedicates all
of four years to devising schemes to make the work of journalists a
nightmare? Local journalists for that matter.
It is certainly
mean-spirited to kick a man when he is down. But Moyo should be the last to
expect sympathy from the hundreds of former ZBC employees and their families
whom he wanted to starve to death. What about Daily News employees? And the
Tribune and Daily News on Sunday? And Manheru calls this "democratic
What is good for the goose should be good for the gander.
In Zanu PF they always say tamba wakachenjera! But Moyo appears to have
thought he had become bigger than the institution itself. We will withhold
our commiseration on this one.
We are indebted to the Daily Mirror
for the following revelation: Former Energy minister Enos Chikowore told
delegates at the just-ended Fourth National People's Congress that resettled
farmers were failing to live up to expectations as the country was
continuously facing food shortages.
Presenting his report on land reform,
Chikowore said: "I am calling for attitudinal change within our newly
resettled farmers. Under the regime of Ian Smith (and) up to 1999, 4 000
white farmers farmed for the nation producing enough food for the nation and
having more left over for export. Today, after the land reform programme,
there are over 12 000 farmers under the A-2 scheme, but they are failing to
do what their predecessors did."
Could somebody tell Chikowore that there
was no Tony Blair during the period he is talking about. Our country has
been hit by a blight called Blair, we are told, and patriotic new farmers
are heavily afflicted by the plague and so can't deliver. In his report
on land reform, Chikowore did not have kind words for those who have failed
to return surplus land after they were told to do so by the party. He said
"top members of the party" had "ignored even calls by the presidency to
surrender the extra farms".
In a report in the Saturday Herald, Chikowore
said: "The issue of multiple farm ownership does not only reveal
indiscipline and dishonesty in the perpetrator's mind, it also reveals
dangerous disloyalty and lack of faith in the principles that have guided
our mighty revolutionary party this far. There are termites within our
party, they are not people."
But why does the party suffer such people in
its ranks if it were built on pillars of honesty and integrity, we wonder?
You can't have "top members of the party" who have no names. Chikowore's
report was also important in one other respect - it should put an end to the
myth of the 300 000 resettled new farmers. Only 12 888 people have been
settled under the A2 model and 126 843 under A1.
The Herald noted: "The
projected 300 000 families due for resettlement was thus not fully
achieved." That would be the understatement of the year were it not an
outright lie. Less than half the projected figure can't be described as "not
fully achieved". And why were government newspapers putting out false
figures for resettlement long after audits by Charles Utete and John Nkomo
had established the correct figures?
A family having a pre-Christmas
extravaganza in Mabvuku had a rude shock this week, reported the Herald on
Monday. While they were feasting and making the best of a bad economy,
jealous neighbours would have none of it. They telephoned our vigilant
police for a "peace order". They claimed there was an exchange of gunfire in
the neighbourhood. The police quickly fetched up on their shores, clambered
over the durawall armed to the teeth, as the saying goes. They were
relieved to find that the dangerous gunfire were simple firecrackers.
Instead of leaving the revellers to continue, the police chose to issue an
impromptu injunction. Nobody in future would be allowed to explode
firecrackers without police clearance. For once the Herald also wondered
aloud under what law this decree was being issued. Still, be on the lookout
for police officers trying to impose a unilateral state of emergency ahead
of the festive season.
MDC leaders have been accused of "globetrotting"
and "unashamedly seeking help from former European colonisers".
who is making the accusation? President Mugabe. The same Mugabe who before
he was banned from travelling to Europe spent a lot of time there, staying
in the best hotels while his wife shopped at the best stores.
No visit to
Europe or North America was complete without a stopover in London. So what
we have now looks suspiciously like sour grapes - the recriminations of a
leader who would like nothing better than to "globetrot" as he once did,
"seeking help from European colonisers". Does he think we have forgotten the
ú1 million Tiny Rowland gave to Zanu PF? Please, can we have just a little
less hypocrisy when he addresses the party's faithful. Just because they're
asleep doesn't mean we are. Meanwhile, tact doesn't appear to be Mugabe's
strong suit. "Don't be deceived by that body. She is a young woman," he
said, referring to Joyce Mujuru, in his closing comments at the just-ended
party congress. Time for some charm school lessons?
Exactly how many
members does the December 12 Movement have and who paid for Cde Coltrane
Chimurenga and "Sista" Viola Plummer's attendance at the Zanu PF congress?
Muckraker's inquiries in New York suggest you can count the number of
members on one hand. "Be suspicious of any organisation with a date in its
title," was the response of one genuine African American activist. "Sista"
Viola looked like a vacant lot in the Sunday Mail picture. Can't she be
asked to smile or at least look as if she knows what she's doing
And who is Harpal Brar of the Zimbabwe Solidarity Movement? Has
anybody heard of this movement or its leader before last
weekend? Commenting on the "negative publicity" the country has been getting
abroad, he said he expected to be assaulted soon after arriving at the
airport. He evidently didn't come via Remembrance Drive! How can these
foreign delegates be so na´ve as to conclude that it was a people-centred
congress simply because the government explained its "policy approaches and
remedial action"? Doesn't a government usually have to do something apart
from saying what it intends to do?
Muckraker was shocked to see
organisations like Zimsec - the breathtakingly incompetent schools
examinations council -putting adverts in the Sunday Mail congratulating the
president on the occasion of the Fourth National People's Congress. Zimsec's
chairman Professor Phineas Makhurane and the "entire staff" said they
cherished the "gains" made in the educational sector over the past 24 years.
This presumably includes Zimsec's record of managing
Other public companies seeking to advertise their
admiration for the ruling party were the GMB, Noczim, Zupco and Air
Zimbabwe. "Thanking you for upholding the nation's dreams" was Air Zimbabwe's
fawning message. That includes, we assume, the dream of a profitable
national airline with 15 planes in 1980 reduced by mismanagement and
political interference to three planes and huge losses today.
Zimbabwe's story is symptomatic of the Zanu PF government's disastrous
record of presiding over inept and corrupt parastatals. Only this week it
was discovered that staff had managed to prejudice the airline of $10
billion between January and October through a discounted tickets
"Air Zimbabwe should stop being a gravy train for criminally
minded and inept individuals in its ranks," the Herald commented. Air
Zimbabwe produced a lot of hot air in January denouncing a Zimbabwe
Independent story on President Mugabe's travels which implied, the airline
said, that it was subject to political control. That was untrue its MD
insisted shortly before his unexplained departure.
So we should ask:
is the launch of the new route to Beijing an entirely commercial venture? Is
it sustainable in terms of passengers and freight income? What sort of study
was undertaken to establish the profitability of a twice-weekly flight to
Singapore and Beijing?
"We wish you all the best as you continue guiding
our beautiful country to greater heights," AirZim said in its ingratiating
message of congratulation to Zanu PF last week. Pass the sick bag please. We
feel a little turbulence coming on.
Speaking of which, we see Zanu
PF's old friend David Martin is back on the editorial pages of the Herald.
He doesn't appear to understand why there are so many Zimbabweans living in
South Africa. All he can say is that they are very well educated thanks to
President Mugabe. Nice to find a silver lining isn't it, David? Muckraker's
advice: stick to the Vumba stories. Here's a piece David didn't write
about. An MP goes to a hospital to visit a constituent who had reportedly
been badly beaten while in police custody. The MP was arrested and charged
under the Miscellaneous Offences Act for "defying a police order" to leave
the hospital premises. The MP was Job Sikhala and the party member Tonderai
Machiridza who died of his injuries. Chitungwiza magistrate Shelton Jura
last week acquitted Sikhala, agreeing that the state witnesses, who included
two policewomen, gave contradictory evidence. Furthermore there was no legal
obligation for the accused to take orders from the police, he
In remarks that have application to the Mabvuku case referred to
earlier, Magistrate Jura said the law does not require the police to go out
and make orders.
"I do not think members of the public should flee
without questioning the authority. There was no legal obligation for (the
accused) to take orders from the police."
Will those concerned with
the erosion of the rule of law in Zimbabwe please note: the MP visiting his
constituent was arrested and charged. Those responsible for the reported
assault on the constituent which led to his hospitalisation and subsequent
death have yet to appear in court. The Herald did not explain how Machiridza
came to be "late".
As we all know, Jonathan Moyo is given to hyperbole.
Often outrageous, sometimes funny, it seems to be meeting the same fate as
exaggeration does everywhere: the law of diminishing returns. Politburo
members are no longer impressed, we are told. Ambassadors, however, may be
more gullible. Moyo told a group of them, in town for the congress, that the
"national media failed us in 2000. We don't want them to fail us again this
While the opposition had raised the matter of the Sadc electoral
guidelines which require access for all parties to the public media, Moyo
said "we are not paying much attention to it." Media laws had to be put
in place because at election time "hordes of foreign journalists invaded the
country and reported as they wished". In 2000 "at least 500 foreign
journalists were in the country with some broadcasting back to their
countries falsehoods about Zimbabwe at will". Moyo said it was unfortunate
that there had been "unbelievable vilification" of Aippa which, he claimed,
was unanimously adopted in parliament by both Zanu PF and the MDC. With
Aippa, it will not be possible for "any mischievous person to use the media
for regime change", Moyo assured the diplomats. He has of course recently
experienced the limits of regime change himself.
Meat exports under threat Conrad Dube ZIMBABWEAN
meat exports could be reduced next year as the Veterinary Technical Services
Department (VTSD), which inspects processing facilities for food of animal
origin, has been incapacitated by lack of funding. The department is
responsible for the inspection of packaging and processing plants
The department audits health compliance of beef, poultry and
pork abattoirs and canning factories where meat products for the domestic
market and exports are made.
The director of the department, Dr
Unesu Ushewokunze-Obatolu, said they had requested $77 billion under the
current fiscal vote but only got an allocation of $28
"We have to respond to international standard requirements,
as articulated in the World Trade Organisation, World Health Organisation
and World Organisation for Animal Health protocols to which we are
signatory," Ushewokunze-Obatolu said.
"If we do not meet these
requirements, countries we hope to export to will reject our products
because every consignment must show that processing and packaging plants are
regularly inspected," she added.
Ushewokunze-Obatolu said the
department was not only expected to inspect export processing facilities of
beef, pork and poultry products, but crocodile, fish and ostrich plants
The department is required to also inspect these facilities
before it registers new entrants or re-registers old
Staff are expected to travel extensively and make
on-the-spot checks on processing facilities countrywide.
however not going to be possible due to the limited resources allocated to
the department. The department needs vehicles to adequately carry out its
duties but no provision was made for the purchase of vehicles.
travel allocation of $600 million is not supported by the fuel
Treasury did not release funds towards the acquisition of
vehicles," Ushewokunze-Obatolu said.
He expressed concern that
the Finance ministry had seemingly used current prices of petroleum products
to calculate VTSD allocations yet there had been serious fluctuations in the
price of fuel products.
"If fuel prices increase, we could find
ourselves unable to do inspections because the ministry used current prices
to calculate allocations to the department," she argued.
funds could severely hit the country's beef exports, which have been on a
slide in recent years along with declines in the national herd.
country's commercial head has plunged by 82% since four years ago from a
peak of 1,4 million to 250 000.
Zimbabwe used to earn as much as
$2 billion from its 9 100-tonne beef quota to the EU before the out-break of
foot and mouth disease in 2001.
The VTSD's training programmes have also
been hit by reduced allocations at a time when experienced people are
leaving the country in droves.
"VTSD is the research department in
animal health of the Agriculture and Rural Development ministry and we are
expected to carry out public health research. But if we are not well
skilled, we cannot deliver," Ushewokunze-Obatolu said.
Govt in climbdown over ZCTU Godfrey Marawanyika IN
a major climbdown, government has invited the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade
Unions (ZCTU) to the tripartite negotiating forum (TNF) in a bid to revive
crucial round-table talks.
Businessdigest learnt this week that the
first TNF meeting involving the ZCTU, the Confederation of Zimbabwe
Industries (CZI), the Employers Confederation of Zimbabwe (Emcoz) and Labour
officials has been scheduled for Wednesday.
Observers said the
TNF talks would likely include government's ally, the Zimbabwe Federation of
Trade Unions (ZFTU) led by Joseph Chinotimba.
Labour minister Paul
Mangwana this week confirmed the revival of the TNF, saying the ZCTU had
rejoined the talks.
He, however, stressed that ZFTU would be part of
the proceedings "because they now represent 40% of the private
"I am glad that the ZCTU has also agreed to come for the
meeting. There is now a spirit of dialogue, which is good for the country,"
Mangwana said on Tuesday.
"At the meeting, we want to look at the
prices, incomes and stabilisation protocol (PISP), given what has been
achieved by the monetary policy. At the same time, we will be discussing the
Kadoma declaration," he added.
The Kadoma declaration states that to
achieve meaningful economic growth all three social partners - forming the
core group of the vital economic-debate forum - have to promote "industrial
harmony and good governance".
TNF talks collapsed on April 23 last
year after the government unilaterally increased fuel prices without
consulting the labour representative body. The ZCTU pulled out of the talks
accusing government of negotiating in bad faith.
earlier this year threatened to proceed with the TNF deliberations without
ZCTU's input, but the meetings failed to take off.
On the PISP dialogue,
stakeholders seek to agree on the production of goods so as to safeguard
viability and at the same time ensure availability of
ZCTU acting secretary-general Colin Gwiyo confirmed
having received invitations for the meeting and said they would attend.
Made's capital projects doomed Conrad
Dube AMBITIOUS capital projects by the government, under Joseph Made's
Agriculture and Rural Development ministry, are set to be aborted due to
lack of funding, parliament's portfolio committee on Lands, Agriculture,
Rural Resources, Water Development and Resettlement heard this
The projects, to be carried out under various parastatals and
departments, had seen Made apply for close to $11 trillion under the 2005
national budget, but the key ministry secured only $1
Samuel Muvuti, chief executive of the Grain Marketing Board
(GMB) and one of the hardest hit parastatals, told the parliamentary
committee that of the $1,4 trillion chase, about 90% was to go towards
covering grain subsidies - an area in which the bulk trading firm has a
The small and big grain subsidy figure would translate into
$1,2 trillion while the difference would be spent on other capital projects
including a nationwide oil making venture, he said.
to start an oil extraction project and we had applied for $2,5 billion for
the project. We also wanted to establish bakeries, flour making, rice
packaging, stockfeeds manufacturing projects and refurbish silos," Muvuti
said on Tuesday.
Already, the grain monopoly has announced plans to
procure as much as half a million tonnes of maize from South Africa to
augment Zimbabwe's low grain reserves, but it remains to be seen how Muvuti
and his chairman Enock Kamushinda would make up for the funding
Proclaiming that GMB was losing money through contracting
private transport operators to ferry grain countrywide, although he did not
quantify the losses, the grain boss also said they intended buying a number
of 30-tonne trucks to bolster their fleet and save money.
regard, Muvuti's institution had applied for $8,5 billion for the trucks,
but "nothing was allocated for these projects".
Also affected is
Made's former employer the Agricultural and Rural Development Authority
(Arda), which had requested $1,2 trillion, but was given only $14,3 billion
- enough to cover only two projects.
Joseph Zirobwa, an official with
Arda, told the committee that about 10 of their projects, mainly the
on-going Chirundu irrigation scheme, 9 000 hectare land preparations at
Chisumbanje and Middle Sabi holdings of 3 000 hectares would be
"We were allocated only $14,3 billion, $8 billion for the
Nuanetsi project and the difference for the mechanisation project, which
include tillage projects," Zirobwa said, emphasising the $8 billion Nuanetsi
allocation was only enough to cover the outstanding tab of on-site
contractors at the vast south-eastern Zimbabwe agrarian
A Chinese company, picked on Harare's preference to work
with Far East countries, is the main contractor.
outstanding Nuanetsi obligations, Zirobwa said, amounted to $20
On the mechanisation project, which government hoped to
strengthen another stuttering and under-funded parastatal the District
Development Fund's efforts, Arda had applied for $292 billion, but only
received $6,3 billion from the Treasury.
Agricultural Engineering department has also been hit by insufficient
funding, the committee was told.
It received $62 billion against a
bid of about $236 billion, which officials in the department punned, saying,
"it would not be possible to reclaim the country's spot in agricultural
production if engineering is not well funded".
Observers said acting
Finance minister Herbert Murerwa's total agriculture vote exposed or
undermined government's assumption and claim that agriculture would rebound,
and grow by 28% in the coming year.
"Agriculture, which contributes
about 16% to total gross domestic product
(GDP) and is the backbone of
the economy, is expected to recover in 2005 after registering a relatively
marginal decline of 3,3% in 2004.
"The sector is projected to grow by
28% in 2005," Murerwa thundered in his November 25 budget presentation.
ZTA courts investors Godfrey Marawanyika CRISIS and
foreign cash-hit Zimbabwe is sharpening its tourist attraction initiatives,
as the state-run Zimbabwe Tourism Authority (ZTA) has unveiled an
incentive-linked tourist development zone (TDZ) programme, drawn on the
lines of the export processing zones (EPZ) concept, officials told
businessdigest this week.
Simba Mandinyenya, the tourism promotion
agency's director of research and development, said the TDZ concept was
developed not only to attract investment in potential high-growth areas
through specified incentives, but to contain negative publicity as
"We have suffered because of the negative publicity from the
traditional markets, especially in Europe and other traditional source
markets," Mandinyenya said, declining comment on suggestions that the plan
would be officially launched next year.
authority's pronouncements that it had established marketing offices in
China, France, South Africa and in the convenient future in Japan, he said
the TDZ was aimed at providing a number of incentives for tourism investors
to take up holdings in designated tourism zones.
"The major objective
is to promote tourism development and ultimately economic development in
areas with high potential, but which (areas) have remained for one reason or
another underdeveloped," the TDZ implementation document
Having assessed the tourism potential of certain areas or
regions in the country, mainly the Lowveld basin, the ZTA singled out
Beitbridge-Shashe-Limpopo area, the Gonarezhou-Chiredzi environs and Great
Zimbabwe-Lake Mutirikwi region, as some of those potential TDZ
There is also a feeling within government and ZTA that the TDZ
concept bodes well with the transfrontier arrangement involving Zimbabwe,
Mozambique and SA - such that preparatory development of the internal
industry would only strengthen the country's capacity when tourism claws
back to life after six years of recession.
The TDZ concept is
another idea, independent of Tourism minister Francis Nhema's
highly-secretive tourism development masterplan.
Under the newer TDZ
plan, taxable income for investing operators in any designated area is rated
at zero percent for the first five years, 15% for the next term and 20%
After 15 years of operation, normal corporate tax rates
will apply. Current corporate tax is 30%.
drained by its political fallout with Britain, the United States and greater
Western bloc, has over the past few years tried to reach out to the East and
the inception of tourism offices in mainly Far East countries confirms that
This has seen desperate Harare courting China and
Malaysia, among other Asian economic powerhouses, in bids to increase
traffic between the two regions.
While it has won conditional
approval, as demonstrated by Beijing's approved destination status, Zimbabwe
has been crowing about arrivals from these Eastern countries.
look at the ZTA's latest tourist arrival figures shows that a total of 1 271
904 visitors came to Zimbabwe between January and September, representing a
29% decrease when compared to the corresponding period last
In the period under review, the country received 254 842
visitors from mainly traditional source markets, with the highest number of
people coming from the US at 37 054.
China, the new emerging
market, contributed 10% of the visitors. On a comparative basis for the nine
months of 2004, the highest increase was from China - at 392% - from 4 960
in 2003, but it can also be noted that there was a marked flow of reciprocal
government and official delegations. The Carribeans also added to the with
nearly 3 000 visitors.
Worried about possibilities of more stringent
politically inspired travel requirements such as visas for visitors from
mainly traditional western markets, the ZTA is also lobbying for a review of
such a situation.
Budget devoid of 'political will' Conrad Dube LACK
of political commitment in the 2005 national budget presented before
parliament last month will make it difficult for the budget to achieve its
intended objectives, economists told a post-budget discussion this
Moses Chundu, an economist with CFX Financial Services, said acting
Finance minister Herbert Murerwa should have made bold statements and
reference to relations between Harare and the international community, led
by the World Bank and group associates.
"The absence of political
statements will make it difficult for the budget to attain its objectives,
given that the resuscitation of the economy is largely dependent on
relations with international financiers," Chundu said.
"How will it
address issues of investor confidence if it is silent on relations with the
International Monetary Fund and the World Bank?"
On the proposed
policy to levy new farmers, Chundu said the level of resistance to tax in
the past shows that "we have a long way to go before we can implement such a
Of concern to economists, Chundu said, was the limited
revenue sources upon which the budget derives its earnings.
argued that the budget was aimed at deriving most of its earnings from
unsustainable individual taxes.
"The bulk of revenue is from
individual tax and this is not sustainable considering that corporate tax
contributed only 10% to total revenue," Chundu noted.
economist further argued that overall savings alluded to by Murerwa were
actually funds earmarked for pending projects which had not been
"There are no savings, some of the funds had been
budgeted for civil servants' salaries which were however not awarded during
the year while some of the funds were for pending projects such as
Tokwe-Mukorsi dam construction," he said.
In his budget
presentation, Murerwa said savings had remained low and are estimated to be
about 1,7% of GDP this year.
On the 30% corporate tax rate, Chundu
said that the rate was "too harsh" and encouraged tax evasion.
said it was still 10% higher than industry's recommendations of
University of Zimbabwe economist Clever Mumbengegwi said although it
appeared there is now greater co-ordination between the fiscal and monetary
policy unlike in the past, the budget concentrated itself on three major
targets - inflation reduction, achieving growth in real gross domestic
product and the achievement of social protection.
said the budget was not an ambitious outline since it was presented after
the monetary policy early this year, followed by the mid-term policy review
and then the 2005 to 2006 Macro-Economic Policy Framework.
inflation, Mumbengegwi said there is a lack of accurate GDP figures from the
government's Central Statistical Office (CSO).
"We do not have
accurate figures from the CSO and therefore figures currently released are
inconsistent with the actual rate and will affect 2005 projections,"
Manufacturing in steady decline By Admire
Mavolwane TO a large degree the monetary policy, introduced and implemented
by the central bank has so far been successful in taming the inflation
scourge and stabilising the official exchange rate.
On the other
hand, fiscal policies, especially those dealing with the real sector, which
"should" normally be the domain of the Minister of Finance appear to be
non-existent or ineffective.
The 2005 budget is silent on
government's position or any proposals to arrest the slow death and
resuscitate the manufacturing sector. It is the obligation of the
authorities to provide an enabling environment for the real sectors of the
According to the recent CZI Manufacturing Sector Survey,
economic policies pertaining to the sector have tended to be less coherent
and at best remained prominently stop-gap and ad hoc, hence the increasing
vulnerability of the sector.
Based on the Central Statistical
Office (CSO) figures, volumes of manufactured output peaked at 108% in 1996
and have trended downward ever since, with accelerated decline being
recorded in 2000.
In 2003, output declined by 11,8% whilst 2004
should witness a further negative growth rate of 8,5%, according to the
Minister of Finance. Fortunes are expected to improve in 2005 with output
forecast to decline by only 5%. No timetable was set as to when the nation
could expect industrial output to revert back to positive real
The downturn in manufacturing could in part be ascribed to
the slump in agriculture, which has occurred since 2000 and the production
constraints brought about by shortages of foreign currency.
other reason could be the lack of investment. Most companies, listed that
is, have suspended capital expenditure, with only the likes of Delta,
Cairns, CFI, M&R having embarked on expansionary programmes, otherwise
the bulk of the capex has been confined to repairs and
Public investment, especially infrastructural
development has been put on hold, with a mere $5 trillion earmarked for
capital spend, out of the $27 trillion forecast expenditure in 2005. The end
result is that the existing and increasingly aged capital stock has come
under severe pressure, hence the decline in output.
A number of
entities have also failed to weather the storm of high interest rates and
the collapse in aggregate demand, and have "exited" the industry.
problems affecting manufacturing, whilst as acute as those affecting the
financial and mining sectors, appear not to have received the same attention
as those of the latter. This could explain the authorities' apparent lack of
However, corporate results from listed companies in this
sector provide a window through which the challenges faced by the industry
could be glimpsed. Recent financials from PowerSpeed, Gulliver and PGI,
which we review this week, bore witness to the decline in the fortunes of
Starting with PowerSpeed, sales for the 12 months to
September 30 grew by a below inflation rate of 312% to $56,8 billion, whilst
operating profits increased at a better rate of $324% to $15,5
Operating margins, although under severe pressure, were more
or less maintained at last year's levels improving by a percentage point to
Financing costs increased considerably from $178 million to $2,3
billion. This was as a result of an upsurge in borrowings. As at September
30, the debt stood at $5 billion, of which $1,6 billion attracted
concessionary rates, whilst the balance is in the form of
Attributable earnings of $9,3 billion were realised, up 272% on
the prior year.
For Gulliver, with full year volumes declining by
almost 30%, turnover grew by 232% to $23,3 billion, a far cry when compared
with average inflation rate from October 2003 to September 30 this year of
384%. To compound it all, the company had to make a hard decision to pull
out of some export markets which were rendered unviable after the
appreciation of the local currency unit in January. The exports foregone in
this period were worth US$500 000.
Profitability was negatively
impacted by a massive deterioration in margins, with a 10 percentage point
decline at gross profit level from 44% to 35%.
At operating profit level,
where expenses growth, at 342%, was ahead of revenues, margins came off from
23% to 7%. Consequently, operating profit growth was a disappointing 7% to
Out of these profits, $1,708 billion was remitted to
the banks to fulfill interest
commitments. Thus profits from
operations, before non-recurring items, of only $35 million were realised.
The disposal of 50% of residential suburbs saw the company booking in a
profit of $840 million, which resulted in the group achieving a bottom-line
of $967 million, reflecting a year-on-year gain of 6%.
months to September 30 results from PGI were dire to say the least. Turnover
increased by a paltry 92% to $127, 7 billion, reflecting the negative impact
of the static exchange rate and "fire sales" in other divisions as the group
tried to grapple with the then ballooning interest burden.
operating loss of $11,5 billion was recorded compared with a $25,2 billion
profit in 2003. Of the three divisions, Trading posted a profit of $9,9
billion, problem child, ZimBoard contributed negatively to the tune of $14,2
billion, out of sales worth $11, 6 billion, whilst the Glass division
achieved $14,2 billion in sales and an operating loss of $1,9
At group level the company paid an interest bill amounting
to $33,3 billion and consequently made an attributable loss of $46,8
The fact that the trading division posted a profit, whilst
the other two manufacturing units floundered serves to underline our
concerns. The thrust in our view should be on the development of policies
that foster the growth of manufacturing and exporters, rather than pumping
all available resources into the inadequately structured agricultural
sector, which is increasingly becoming a black hole.
food," "There's no work," "I don't have money," "There are no medicines at
the pharmacy," "There is no doctor at the clinic," "Everything is too
expensive," "There's no fuel," "I can't afford school fees," "There's no
transport," "Harare is a mess," "MDC is doing nothing," "ZBC is boring,"
"Our MP does nothing for us" - and on and on and on.
You name it,
we moan about it! Moaning is our national pastime. We love to be victims and
complain about everything. It gives us something to say without wasting too
much brainpower and everyone agrees with us - which means we must be right!
This reinforces our behaviour and we repeat it with increased vigour and
Our minds take on the victim mode and soon
it becomes a permanent state of mind. We become victims. Everything is
someone else's fault and someone had better do something about
But we know they won't, because they haven't done so in all these
years, so why should they suddenly start now? And everyone agrees with us,
it's contagious and here we are - a nation of victims.
that we need to get right out of the victim mode if we really want Zimbabwe
to improve. We need to become the victors - the winners! And in order to
become the victors, we have to get out of our negative, passive mode and
move into the positive, active mode.
We have to shake off the moaning
and whining and do something about it!
Nothing makes people feel more
powerless and depressed than preventing them from doing anything about their
problem - and nothing empowers people more than allowing them to do
something about their problem.
We may not be able to tackle the big
problem right now, but we can surely do something to shake off the apathy,
even if it's only switching off the TV or the radio!
refuse to be brainwashed and refuse to allow our family and friends to be
brainwashed by that simple small action. There are so many more.
quote at some length what Martin Luther King said about trying in his final
address the day before he was assassinated: "I guess one of the great
agonies of life is that we are constantly trying to finish that which is
"Life is a continual story of shattered
"And each of you in some way is building some kind of temple. The
struggle is always there. It gets discouraging sometimes. It gets very
disenchanting sometimes. Some of us are trying to build a temple of peace.
We speak out against war, we protest, but it seems that your head is going
against a concrete wall. It seems to mean nothing. And so often as you set
out to build the temple of peace you are left lonesome; you are left
discouraged; you are left bewildered.
"Well, that is the story of
life. And the thing that makes me happy is that I can hear a voice crying
through the vista of time, saying: 'It may not come today or it may not come
tomorrow, but it is well that it is within thine heart. It's well that you
are trying.' You may not see it. The dream may not be fulfilled, but it's
just good that you have a desire to bring it into reality. It's well that it
is in thine heart.
"I'd like someone to mention that day (of my
funeral) that Martin Luther King, Jr tried to give his life serving
"I'd like for somebody to say that day, that Martin Luther
King, Jr tried to love somebody."
We are not all as strong as
Martin Luther King, but he got his strength from
his faith and his action
to lead Negro victims to take action and become victors. We can surely take
some small action to make us ordinary Zimbabweans victors instead of
the budget reflects the fiction that government's share of the gross
domestic product is 30% and not the 70% I think it is.
Isn't it about
time that the minister was honest with voters and consolidated all the
loss-making parastatals and farms into government figures?
all, these losses will one day have to be paid for by the taxpayer. But more
importantly, Treasury was able to repay US$115 million to the International
Monetary Fund (IMF) despite the fact that the balance of payments deficit
increased to US$523 million and there was low foreign direct investment and
Quite clearly, there is external interference in
the economy which is propping up the Mugabe regime to the detriment of its
people and the free world.
I hope that the IMF and like bodies
will be able to see through the creative accounting and deception and
continue to treat Zimbabwe as a pariah state until the day democracy is
should not keep us out of touch by delinking us from tomorrow through postal
costs which are now astronomical.
The postman is now a rare sight in the
high density residential areas.
Zimpost should not price itself out
of the market! Even when stamps were costing a mere $500 many people had
trouble sending their mail.
Now that the stamps are costing between
$4 000 and $7 000, even more people will be unable to afford them on a
Those in the rural areas are now obviously excluded.
They normally have problems in raising money even for a box of matches or
the grinding mill. What more for a postage stamp which is now perceived as a
Even Zimpost's sister company, the People's Own Savings Bank,
is now excluding the poor through their $10 000 minimum
Society cannot be effectively run on the basis of
all the huffing and puffing, a bunch of British journalists were allowed in
to Zimbabwe to cover the cricket tour.
As we see from their various
reports, that's not all they have been doing. We hear of the great risks
they have been taking to interview Zimbabweans and of how careful they were
to protect the identities of those interviewed (well at least the British
learned from Tianenmen Square). But quite frankly, I'm
The reporting remains superficial, predictable and
plays into the stereotypes that must bring joy to Zanu PF hearts. Who do we
have but rich white ex-farmers lolling at a poolside drinking ice-cold beer
delivered by smiling black servants and at the other end of the scale,
15-year-old black maidens forced into prostitution. And that appears to be
What about the people in the middle - black, brown, white? For
these are the ones targeted by the regime.
Zanu PF can live with
the rich and can afford to ignore the poor but it's those wretches in the
middle who are the nuisance and therefore the targets.
The ones in
the middle are the "lucky ones" who go to work everyday, usually for other
people, but who resent paying chunks of their salary every month to sustain
an illegitimate regime; they are the ones who wander the supermarket in a
daze trying to figure out how to make it to the next salary cheque; the ones
who lie awake at night worried sick about their children's future, their
aged parents or orphaned nieces and nephews; who know their car is not
really roadworthy but can't afford to get it fixed this month and as for
their own bodies, who has got time to be sick?
Perhaps the British
public don't want to be made too uncomfortable or too depressed. It's okay
to write about the rich because we all aspire to that and it's okay to write
about the really poor because we can patronise them and give thanks that
it's not us, but the ones in the middle could be "us" and, well it really is
too depressing and wouldn't sell newspapers after all.
cynical. Thanks for your efforts chaps and for keeping the city centre
hotels in business, but none of you should be here at all.
world could boycott South Africa during the apartheid days, why do you find
it so difficult to boycott this ruthless regime?
World Food Programme spokesperson Luis Clemens wrote in Focus magazine three
months ago that "everything Joseph Made touches turns to dross", it was
perceived in some quarters to be a bit over the top.
There were several
senior ruling-party officials who called us to record their displeasure at
Clemens' conclusions when we reproduced the article in our op-ed pages in
However, there are many more who cringe every time Made
opens his mouth to tell us the latest achievements in his Agriculture
portfolio. It's not only his loudest critic, MDC's shadow Agriculture
minister Renson Gasela, who thinks that Made has a dirty sock permanently
stuck in his mouth.
Made now even surprises some of his own
There was a demonstration of that last weekend when he
Zanu PF Congress in response to issues raised by politburo
member Enos Chikowore. Television cameras captured Vice-President Joseph
Msika shaking his head loose in disapproval as Made
Chikowore wanted to know why there was no delivery on
loans promised to farmers. He also wanted to know the role of Arda and the
DDF in the agrarian reform. On the financing of agriculture, Made said
interest rates on loans from Agribank had been hiked from 15% to 30% and
then to 70%. He said the interest rate was headed for the 120%
This was not sanctioned by the party, neither did cabinet
deliberate on it. Msika's intervention was instructive and illustrative of
the absence of collective responsibility in government.
agreed that Agribank would charge 15% when we first talked about the issue
and the last time we talked about it we agreed that the interest rate was to
go up to 20%," said Msika to an embarrassed Made.
"Where the 70% and
120% came from, we do not know. We said if the ministry felt the rates were
too low, they should consult cabinet. But now they are saying it's 70%. That
is the problem with people we work with."
He said government would
subsidise the farmers on the interest rates, hence no hikes would be
The problem with people working with Msika and his boss
President Mugabe is that they act outside policy. Their actions ultimately
militate against policy and goals are not achieved. That is the reason why
government's agricultural policies have largely failed. It's not Blair and
Bush who hike the rates unilaterally, it's Joseph Made and he needs no
instruction in the art of blundering.
Interestingly though, was
Msika aware of this before Made opened his mouth? I doubt it. And there are
many other things which he has probably not been told. Is he aware that his
government is importing maize while at the same time boasting that there was
a bumper grain harvest last season? Is he aware there are chefs who diverted
maize seed to the black market? Is he aware that despite the blundering,
Made is still on the Zanu PF central committee? Could someone please tell
the VP who is responsible for the presidency's supervision of
The other person who did not know seemingly obvious facts
was Chikowore. I say this because he asked the question which smoked out
Made's policy blunder. As secretary for Lands and Resettlement in Zanu PF,
Chikowore had to use the platform of the Zanu PF congress to be educated on
the role of Agribank, Arda and DDF in the land reform exercise. Frankly
speaking, what do Zanu PF bosses discuss in their politburo
Almost on a weekly basis I see the presidential motorcade drive
into party headquarters at nine in the morning and leave sometimes up to 12
hours later. There are also weekly cabinet meetings where Mugabe meets his
lieutenants. Despite all this seemingly lengthy planning, Made can still
hike rates without cabinet or presidential approval and Chikowore needs
tutoring on Arda, Agribank and DDF's contribution to the agrarian reform.
What a crowd!
It would appear that there is a new phenomenon in
Zanu PF's policy formulation. It is no longer the old adage of the right
hand not knowing what the left is doing, but three hands, all not knowing
what the others are doing.
Perhaps Chikowore knew the answers but was
just making the most of the platform provided to him!
revealed without naming the culprits that there was looting of farm
equipment by some high-ranking officials. He was also free with his
descriptive powers in denouncing chefs who grabbed more than one
"The issue of multiple-farm ownership does not only reveal
indiscipline and dishonesty in the perpetrator's mind," said Chikowore. "It
also reveals dangerous disloyalty and lack of faith in the principles that
have guided our mighty revolutionary party this far. There are termites
within our party, they are not people."
Did I read in the press
recently that police had laid siege to farms occupied by Local Government
minister Ignatious Chombo and former Mashonaland West governor Peter
Chanetsa because the two were multiple-farm owners? Termites eating away at
the national fabric?
If the party is now staffed with termites, we
can only speculate who the Queen is!