RESERVE Bank governor Gideon Gono on Wednesday summoned the Air Zimbabwe
board for a crisis meeting to discuss the national airline's deepening
Aviation sources said Gono summoned the board after the troubled airline -
which broke aviation records in May by flying one passenger thousands of
kilometres from Dubai to Harare - continued to extend the begging bowl for
foreign currency and local funds to the central bank.
Sources said President Robert Mugabe's office and a chain of ministries had
been making desperate efforts to save the airline from sinking.
"Gono summoned the Air Zimbabwe board for a crisis meeting to discuss the
airline's worsening problems. Reserve Bank authorities read the riot act to
the board members, warning them their borrowings had become unsustainable,"
a source said.
"Board members were also told that the airline must develop its own survival
and viability strategies and borrow money from commercial banks instead of
the central bank."
Gono yesterday confirmed summoning the Air Zimbabwe board.
Documents obtained from Air Zimbabwe show the airline has largely been
surviving on Reserve Bank hand-outs. They also show that between August 15
and December 7, the airline borrowed US$13 million and £378 591 from the
But between October 1 and December 5 the airline only managed to generate
and deposit with its Jewel Bank foreign currency account US$732 285.
The borrowed forex was used largely to pay Air BP International for fuel,
aviation insurance, auxiliary power unit, and IATA for clearing charges.
Air Zimbabwe has so far received $722 billion for working capital and
servicing its overdraft facility with the central bank's Parastatal
Re-orientation Programme, which started in February.
On November 22, chief secretary to the president and cabinet, Misheck
Sibanda, convened a meeting of top government officials to tackle Air
Zimbabwe's problems. This followed a meeting held the previous day between
Air Zimbabwe and fuel companies to deal with the airline's fuel
requirements. Air Zimbabwe needs 800 000 litres a week.
The November 21 meeting noted the airline was facing serious problems due to
Jet A1 fuel shortage and that it was relying on borrowed fuel from other
carriers. It was said borrowing fuel had become unsustainable as other
airlines' reserves had also become "critically low".
For instance, it was noted British Airways' fuel stocks had fallen to 100
000 litres against its weekly requirement of 800 000 litres. Airlines flying
into Zimbabwe are currently bumping off passengers from their flights to
accommodate extra fuel to avoid being grounded in the country due to fuel
British Airways (operating as Comair in South Africa), South African
Airways, as well as smaller carriers like SA Airlink and kulula.com, now
rely on contingency fuel plans to fly into Zimbabwe. Booked passengers were
bumped off a Harare-bound Comair flight at Johannesburg airport on Sunday to
accommodate more fuel.
The November 21 meeting resolved Air Zimbabwe should enter into fuel hedging
contracts to ensure it did not get grounded due to the fuel crisis. It also
decided the airline should buy fuel from neighbouring countries.
The November 22 meeting also focused on the Air Zimbabwe fuel crisis and
cabinet's decision eight months ago that the National Oil Company of
Zimbabwe should import fuel for the airline. An advisory committee to assist
the permanent secretary for Transport and Communications on the Air Zimbabwe
issue was established.
Air Zimbabwe, run down through extended periods of mismanagement and
under-capitalisation, now only has eight planes, two of which are not
operational, compared to the 18 planes it had at Independence in 1980.
After scrapping 12 regional routes, the airline still flies to Johannesburg,
Mauritius, Lusaka, Lilongwe and Nairobi. Locally, it flies to Bulawayo,
Victoria Falls and Kariba after pulling out of the Masvingo, Hwange and
Buffalo Range routes. Internationally, it goes to London, Dubai and Beijing.
THE Attorney-General's office this week baulked at prosecuting Zimbabwe
Cricket (ZC) chair Peter Chingoka and managing director Ozias Bvute over
exchange control violations for what appeared to be political reasons, it
High-level official sources said the Attorney-General's office shied away
from taking further measures against Chingoka and Bvute, arrested on Monday,
because of disagreements within government's own bureaucracy.
It was said the Attorney-General's office was fighting a war of attrition
with the Reserve Bank which investigated Chingoka and Bvute for the alleged
exchange control breaches.
"The Reserve Bank did a comprehensive investigation on the cricket issue and
the report was given to the police and the Attorney-General's office for
prosecution," a source said. "However, much to the surprise of central bank
authorities, the prosecuting department said there were no grounds for a
A senior central bank official said they were shocked by the sudden release
of Chingoka and Bvute because "in our view they have a clear case to
A report done by the Reserve Bank's Financial Intelligence Inspectorate
Evaluation and Security unit reveals that Chingoka and Bvute were involved
in transactions that amounted to violations of the exchange control rules.
The report, titled "Zimbabwe Cricket: Summary of Charges", lists 12 exchange
control violations against the ZC officials.
It accuses them of failing to repatriate US$6,3 million proceeds from the
sale of TV rights in violation of Section 5 (1) of the Exchange Control Act,
chapter 22.05 as read with Section 5 (1), (2) of the exchange control
regulations SI 109 of 1996.
It says British firm Octagon CSI collected revenue on behalf of ZC and
deposited the funds into the ZC's Barclays Bank account number 58255922,
Knightsbridge Business Centre, unlawfully.
Octagon, which holds TV signals rights to produce and sell all cricket
matches hosted by Zimbabwe, has a contract with ZC structured 10 years ago.
The report also lists the controversial purchase of the ZC's outside
broadcasting equipment for £1 million through Octagon, which paid £550 000,
with Ten Sports of Dubai injecting £450 000, as part of the violations of
exchange control rules.
The report says there were breaches of the law by ZC in the buying of
vehicles using offshore funds, which vehicles were sold to Croco Motors for
US$772,1 million. ZC also paid £5 000 for the purchase of a Mazda 626.
There was also the issue of paying players' allowances of about US$544 018
into offshore accounts.
Chingoka was paid £50 000, while US$750 000 was diverted to South Africa.
The ZC also received US$3 million and diverted the funds. All these
payments, the report says, were in violation of exchange control
Sources said Attorney-General Sobusa Gula-Ndebele was unhappy that Reserve
Bank governor Gideon Gono did not help his department in its bid to secure
conviction against former Finance minister Chris Kuruneri who is facing
Gono testified mid this year in Kuruneri's case and gave evidence which
strengthened the former minister's case for acquittal. He said Kuruneri had
saved the country from a major "national catastrophe" by providing a US$500
000 bail-out for an unspecified purpose. Although he did not say what the
funds were for, the Zimbabwe Independent later established the money was
used to buy indelible ink for the 2002 presidential election.
Sources said the Attorney-General's office was riled by Gono's evidence and
was still sulking about it.
The sources said police and the Attorney-General's office were "not
interested" in the matter because it has become a political issue trapped in
the Zanu PF camp fights.
Gula-Ndebele said last night the claims against his office were untrue.
"It's absolute nonsense, total hogwash. When cases come before us we deal
with them on merit and professionally," Gula-Ndebele
"We are not fighting with the Reserve Bank. We have got a good working
relationship with the central bank. Those claims are untrue." - Staff
THE Combined Harare Residents Association has urged city residents to reject
the massive budget increases unveiled by the Sekesai Makwavarara-led
commission this week.
The commission announced a whopping $32,5 trillion budget for 2006 that will
be financed through sharp increases in rates and charges at the beginning of
the new year.
Harare residents' representatives have accused the commission of failing to
deliver services, which have resulted in the outbreak of diseases in high
density suburbs as refuse goes for months on end uncollected and they have
to endure perennial water cuts.
Mike Davies, chairperson of Combined Harare Residents Association said the
budget was illegal as it was prepared by an illegal commission with no
mandate from residents to do so.
"As a residents association we call on all residents not to pay their rates
to the city council," Davies said.
He said the city council and the Local Government had been the enemies of
the residents especially during Operation Murambatsvina.
The budget means rates will be increased by at least 100% for basic services
which council is failing to meet. In most residential areas refuse has not
been collected since May when government launched its infamous Operation
Murambatsvina that displaced at least 700 000 people and robbed thousands of
others of their sources of livelihood. Hundreds of homes described as
illegal structures were razed in a military-style blitz condemned worldwide
for its brutality and the suffering it caused.
The capital's infrastructure has all but collapsed, characterised by
unavailability of water, raw sewerage flowing in the high-density
residential streets, roads almost inaccessible because of potholes and
decomposing refuse mountains at street corners posing risks of disease
Sewer fees, currently pegged at $165 000 for low residential, high
residential areas and residential flats are to double to $330 000 with
effect from January next year and then double again to $660 000 in July.
For commercial areas, the fees will rise from the existing $600 000 to $1
200 000 effective January and then double to $2 400 000 in July.
The tariffs for refuse collection for high residential areas will increase
from the current $134 896 to $250 000 with effect from January and to $350
000 from July. In low residential areas the tariffs will rise from $157 447
to $300 000 effective January next year and to $420 000 six months later.
Uncollected garbage piling on street corners has become common in both high
and low density areas and along sanitary lanes in the city centre.
Residents question whether the ballooning budget will be in tandem with the
When water is available, most of it is lost through burst pipes, which
remain unrepaired for months.
But council has never run out of excuses. Failure to collect garbage has
invariably been blamed on the withdrawal of service by the three main
contractors who cited the unavailability of fuel and low payments.
"The city is struggling to maintain a semblance of refuse collection given
the scarcity of fuel, aggravated by an aged fleet of refuse compactors,"
read the budget.
The costs of burial in the city's cemeteries have increased sharply.
The burial of an adult in area "A" has risen from $750 000 to $8,5 million
effective January next year. Burial charges will double to $17 million in
A resident child will be buried in area "A" for $4,2 million from January
from the existing $375 000 and council proposes to increase the fee to $8,5
million in July.
GOVERNMENT is failing to meet a self-imposed deadline of year-end to
complete 200 000 housing units under Operatin Garikai/ Hlalani Kuhle, a tour
of the construction sites his week revealed.
The mammoth housing project, largely seen as cosmetic, was launched
following the demolition of hundreds of urban dwellings under Operation
Murambatsvina in May, which left 700 000 people homeless and robbed many of
their source of livelihood.
United Nations secretary-general Kofi Annan's envoy, Anna Kajumulo
Tibaijuka, who was in the country five months ago to assess the humanitarian
cost of the operation, doubted government's ability to meet a target of 1
003 houses by end of August. The government then shifted the deadline for
the rest of the reconstruction programme to the end of the year.
But reality has caught up with President Robert Mugabe's defiant government
which maintained that the reconstruction exercise would be completed before
the turn of the New Year.
Operation Garikai, which has reportedly stalled after government failed to
pay building material suppliers and workers, has been dealt another blow
following reports that some of the houses had collapsed in Chinhoyi due to
In an effort to keep Operation Garikai on the rails, Finance minister
Herbert Murerwa last week presenting the 2006 national budget before
parliament in which he made an allocation of $800 billion towards the
He said $972 billion would be allocated to national housing construction
projects with a lion's share of that amount going towards Operation Garikai:
"Of this amount," Murerwa said, "$800 billion is earmarked for the
Garikai/Hlalani Kuhle programme. This brings government's contribution to
the programme to more than $1 trillion."
The $800 billion appropriation is widely seen as miniscule considering the
effect of hyperinflation on the cost of building materials.
Mugabe in a state of the nation address to parliament on Tuesday said his
government's efforts to provide decent accommodation to the people had
"received a major impetus following the implementation of Operation
Garikai/Hlalani Kuhle programme".
He added that a $1 trillion commitment under phase 1 of the programme in
July had been made, while the reconstruction programme "is expected to
continue until the national housing backlog is significantly reduced". Last
year the capital Harare alone had a housing backlog of more than 500 000.
This could have trebled following the retributive eviction blitz, thus
making government's claims a pipedream.
Mugabe also met UN under-secretary for humanitarian affairs and emergency
relief co-coordinator, Jan Egeland, who was in the country to make a follow
up assessment of the humanitarian situation. Government wants the UN to
provide permanent housing structures as opposed to temporary tents.
Egeland described Murambatsvina "as the worst thing ever to happen, when the
country was already facing enough homelessness". He pledged UN support in
averting looming food shortages. Egeland's visit is a follow up to
Tibaijuka's visit in July during which she came out with her guns blazing
against the operation. Egeland becomes UN's third high profile delegate to
visit Zimbabwe in a space of six months, after Tibaijuka and World Food
Programme representative Tony Hall.
There are unconfirmed reports that Kofi Annan might visit the country early
in the new year.
LESS than a fortnight before the launch of the United People's Movement
(UPM) on Unity Day, there is little to show for its grand entry into the
Zimbabwe political scene.
The mooted political party, whose top executives and members are supposed to
be drawn from Zimbabwe's two major parties, claimed the potential to create
headaches for Zanu PF and the opposition Movement for Democratic Change
(MDC), weakened by factionalism.
Yet it suffered a setback this week when Emmerson Mnangagwa, initially
tipped as its leader, dissociated himself from the UPM for the second time
in less than a month.
Mnangagwa, who was appointed Rural Housing and Social Amenities minister in
President Mugabe's current cabinet, reportedly warned members at a Zanu PF
provincial coordinating committee meeting for the Midlands that they risked
expulsion if they associated with the UPM.
Fronted by former Information minister Jonathan Moyo, the UPM gave an
initial impression that it had the support of six former Zanu PF provincial
chairmen who were suspended for attending what Mugabe later described as an
illegal meeting in Tsholotsho, allegedly organised by Moyo to challenge
Mugabe's leadership and the composition of the presidium.
Zanu PF Midlands chairman July Moyo, chairman for Masvingo Daniel Shumba,
Jacob Mudenda for Matabeleland North, Lloyd Siyoka for Matabeleland South
and Mike Madiro of Manicaland were suspended for attending the meeting on
November 18 last year. The suspended chairmen led areas that form the
bulwark of Zanu PF support.
The United People's Movement was expected to get support from disgruntled
members and executives of both parties. It claimed to have attracted a
significant number of members from the opposition MDC and the ruling Zanu
PF. But both the MDC and Zanu PF have scoffed at the new political party,
doubting its staying power as a player on Zimbabwe's rough political
MDC presidential spokesman, William Bango, wondered how a party that claims
to present an alternative agenda to unseat Mugabe would remain enigmatic and
secretive about itself.
"Where are they and who are they?" Bango asked, adding: "If they are a
serious political force they should come out in the open and show that they
are courageous enough to withstand scrutiny by the electorate. Mere media
publicity does not constitute existence."
Moyo said revealing the names of the Zanu PF defectors now would endanger
their lives. "What do you think would happen to those people when they
announce that they have left Zanu PF? There are people who thought they
could change Zanu PF from within but have failed, those are the people we
President Mugabe has also scoffed at an opposition party ever ruling
Zimbabwe, saying Zimbabwe has no room for political upstarts.
"They can only rule after we have died. Even then our ghosts will rise to
haunt them," Mugabe said.
Dismissing the threat that the UPM could pose, Bulawayo East MP David
Coltart said: "I do not see the party becoming credible because the people
do not know what it stands for. This party is not a threat," he said.
Coltart said it would be difficult for the UMP to get members from the MDC
but said it could get people from Zanu PF.
"I do not believe that the UPM would attract members from the MDC but they
could in Zanu PF," he said
MDC party organiser in Bulawayo, Victor Moyo, said his party was aware that
some of its members had moved to Moyo's UPM but said the numbers were
"Some youths have been swayed by money to join UPM. This party is known in
the southern region only and there is strong suspicion that Jonathan Moyo's
party is still part of Zanu PF," he said.
"The UPM is on the way up and that is why the people in Zanu PF are getting
jittery. That is why also the Zanu PF government is trying to delay
presidential elections to 2010," the former government spin doctor Moyo
He remained mum on the people set to defect from Zanu PF and the MDC
although Pearson Mbalekwa, who resigned from the ruling party over the
widely-condemned Operation Murambatsvina, was touted vice-president.
The UPM was expected to take advantage of the current divisions rocking the
MDC, while the Zanu PF succession issue gave it impetus to poach disgruntled
But Coltart said he was not aware of any member of the MDC who had crossed
over to the UPM. "We are committed to democracy and people are free to
support a party of their choice but once any MDC parliamentarian joins any
other party he ceases to be an MDC member," Coltart said.
He said the MDC was not threatened by the emergency of the UPM and that with
people like Moyo in its ranks, the party would not be taken seriously by
"I do not believe that the UPM will make a lot of impact."
THE re-establishment of a bicameral legislature disowned by the bulk of the
electorate and the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) has
brought about a familial dimension to Zimbabwe's parliament.
The upper house has broken a tradition set by the prime minister-elect,
Robert Mugabe, who brought pressure to bear on his colleagues not to
nominate his late wife, Sally, as a candidate in the first popular election
But that did not deter the former guerilla leader from giving his sister
Sabina the nod to stand for Zvimba, her home area.
The Zvimba South legislator, who sits in the lower house alongside her elder
son Leo Mugabe and his sibling Patrick Zhuwao, are the MPs for Makonde and
Zhuwao is Science and Technology Development deputy minister.
Another set of brothers, Simbarashe and Samuel Mumbengegwi, both hold
ministerial posts while two ministers have their spouses occupy the red
benches in the senate.
Home Affairs minister Kembo Mohadi has his wife Tambudzani sitting in the
upper house while Youth Development and Employment Creation minister Ambrose
Mutinhiri will share legislative moments with wife Tracy.
Tracy Mutinhiri is legislator for Marondera-Seke senatorial constituency
that comprises Marondera East, Marondera West and Seke parliamentary
She therefore represents 150 684 voters as opposed to her spouse who
represents only 51 437 voters in Marondera West.
Mutinhiri only surpasses his wife when it comes to boasting a ministerial
On the other hand, Tambudzani Mohadi shares the same constituency in
Beitbridge with spouse Kembo. The couple represents the same 52 697 voters
as Beitbridge was not affected by the arbitrary collapsing of constituencies
as were others to form electoral boundaries for the senate.
The Mohadis' constituency constitutes the smallest area, thus holding the
record as the most over-represented by husband and wife.
GOVERNMENT is forcibly acquiring agricultural equipment stored in warehouses
from dispossessed white farmers as it steps up efforts to equip farms
earmarked for the command agriculture scheme, "Operation Maguta".
Legal sources said government this week wrote letters to farmers' lawyers
stating it would be acquiring the equipment in accordance with Section 7 of
the Acquisition of Farm Equipment and Material Act promulgated in September
The Act says "the acquiring authority may, if there is no agreement for the
purchase of the farm equipment or material concerned, acquire the farm
equipment by making an order compulsorily acquiring the equipment for
compensation equivalent to the value placed on the material by the
designated valuation officer".
A lawyer representing a group of affected farmers, David Drury, confirmed
attempts to seize the farming equipment removed from farms but said
government was not following the provisions of the Act.
"In the numerous cases I have dealt with, government is found to be in
violation of its own laws," Drury said.
"The Act requires government to prove that the equipment is lying idle
before preparing an inventory and the owner could agree or refuse to sell.
In case of disagreement, a preliminary notice to acquire is issued and this
can be challenged. When the owner contests then government would have to
apply to the Administrative Court for an order confirming the acquisition
but government has not complied with the law."
President Robert Mugabe this week said government would execute Operation
"Food Security/Maguta/Inala" to enhance agricultural production and meet
national food requirements.
The Zimbabwe Defence Forces have been mobilised to operate farms selected to
grow maize under the operation. Government has been seizing farm equipment
from properties in the Lowveld.
Mugabe said the major objectives of the operation are to boost the country's
food security and consolidate national strategic reserves.
Zimbabwe requires 1,8 million tonnes of grain for national consumption
annually and a further 500 000 tonnes as strategic grain reserves.
Compulsorily acquiring farm equipment from farmers whose farmland was
expropriated comes at a time when President Mugabe has admitted to UN envoy
Jan Egeland that Zimbabwe needed food aid. Egeland said the UN had requested
US$276 million to lessen the deteriorating food, health and agricultural
situation in Zimbabwe.
He said the UN, through the World Food Programme, would be feeding more than
three million people by February next year in Zimbabwe. The country's
agricultural output has fallen by over 70% in the past five years.
"We are eager to help Zimbabwe regain food security and I hope we can have
some kind of task force that can focus immediately on that," Egeland said.
ZANU PF chefs and war veterans who grabbed farms under the land reform
programme are being taken to court for failing to pay levies to Rural
District Councils (RDCs,) the Zimbabwe Independent heard this week.
Highly-placed sources said summons have been dispatched to more than 200 A2
farmers, the majority of them political bigwigs and war veterans who have
evaded levy payments over the past five years when they forcibly moved onto
Association of Rural District Councils president, Jerry Gotora, confirmed
that farmers' reluctance to pay levies had crippled RDCs' operations and
capacity to provide basic services. He however could not provide specific
details on RDCs that had engaged debt collectors.
"I can't give you which RDCs have already engaged debt collectors now
because I am not in my office," Gotora said.
"But you should understand that it is within the RDCs' powers to engage debt
collectors or even lawyers to ensure that farmers pay the levies."
Gotora said he would be willing to provide specific details of what is
happening next week when he gets back to his office.
Sources said RDCs which have already forwarded names to debt collectors
include Mazowe, Shamva, and Mvurwi in the fertile Mashonaland Central
province where chefs stampeded to grab prime properties.
"Topping the list of non-paying people are A2 farmers," a source said. "The
majority have not paid anything from the time when they moved on to the
Levies are used for the repair and upgrading of district infrastructure such
as roads, clinics and schools.
But the newly drafted 99-year leases for occupiers of state land stipulate
that the lessee can only secure the lease agreement when they have paid
annual levies based on the type of land and improvements on the property
Government has the right to cancel the agreement if the lessee fails to meet
CONTRARY to Justice minister Patrick Chinamasa's claims that he has never
referred to the recently-re-established senate as a temporary institution,
he is on record as having told the ruling Zanu PF's central committee that
the upper house was a "stop-gap measure".
A copy of Chinamasa's memorandum to the party's central committee dated May
27 confirms the reports.
Chinamasa last week wrote a letter to the Zimbabwe Independent claiming he
had never said the senate would only last from 2005 to 2010.
"I have erroneously been reported in several issues of your paper to have
said that the senate is a temporary institution to last from 2005 to 2010,"
Chinamasa wrote to the Independent.
"At no time during my submission to the politburo and central committee of
Zanu PF and during my second reading speech did I ever refer to the senate
as a temporary institution."
However, according to the May 27 memorandum, Chinamasa said: "The senate
will be a temporary institution.
"The proposal to introduce a senate at this hour, at this juncture, should
correctly be regarded as a stop-gap measure for the period 2005 to 2010,"
Chinamasa's memo said.
"The structure and composition of the senate will again be reconsidered in a
more holistic manner within the context of the more comprehensive
constitutional proposals that I shall propose later in the life of this
parliament," he said.
In his letter to the Independent, Chinamasa denied all this. "As far as
government is concerned, the senate is to become a permanent institution on
our democratic landscape," he said.
"What I stated to be temporary, a fact which is incorporated in the
provisions of the Constitution of Zimbabwe Amendment Act (No.17), is the
bunching of House of Assembly constituencies to make up senatorial
Chinamasa's memorandum states that the senate will be operative from 2005 to
"Central committee is being asked to approve this proposal as the best
workable proposition in the circumstances for the period between 2005 and
2010," Chinamasa said.
"This proposal enhances representation of traditional chiefs in that they
will, for the first and perhaps only time, be represented in both houses of
parliament," he said. - Staff Writer.
THE legal fight to force government to repeal draconian sections of the
Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (Aippa) has made
progress at the African Commission for Human and Peoples' Rights (ACHPR)
which is set to make a crucial ruling on the matter before year-end.
Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR), together with the Independent
Journalists Association of Zimbabwe and the Media Institute of Zimbabwe,
took the issue to the commission following the failure of a Supreme Court
application by local journalists challenging the provisions of the Act two
years ago. Civic groups can take cases to the commission if they feel they
have exhausted all local remedies to force their governments to uphold human
The Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of Aippa, notably the
accreditation of journalists and registration of media houses and the powers
and composition of the government-appointed Media and Information
"The applicants have exhausted local remedies," says the communication sent
to the commission. "They have litigated the two issues in the highest court
"The Supreme Court of Zimbabwe declared null and void only unintentional
publication or fabrication of falsehoods and declined to declare
unconstitutional intentional publication of falsehoods and compulsory
accreditation of journalists. In the premises, the applicants are left
without a remedy other than the remedy provided for in the African Charter
for Human and Peoples' Rights."
The Aippa case went through the preliminary stages of "seizure" in May.
Evidence on the admissibility of the communication from civic groups was
then presented with legal representatives from the state and the NGOs filing
papers and giving oral evidence. The commission is now set to make a ruling
on whether government has complied with provisions of the ACHPR charter
regarding freedom of information. The government of Zimbabwe is a signatory
to the charter.
The government was represented at the commission by Director of the Civil
Division in the Attorney-General's Office Loice Matanda-Moyo while Sternford
Moyo of Scanlen & Holderness represents civil groups.
If the commission rules in favour of the civic groups the matter will be set
down for a full hearing. The government has expressed its willingness to
consider amendments to Aippa but has not yet moved on the issue. - Staff
PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe is today expected to officially open Zanu PF's
national conference under the cloud of a deepening economic crisis
characterised by food and fuel shortages.
The annual conference which started yesterday in Esigodini in Matabeleland
South, will last until Sunday.
The ruling party's constitution has not been amended for some time but
insiders expect a conclusive decision on the succession issue after the 2004
debacle which resulted in the elevation of Joice Mujuru to the
vice-president's post and a purge of Emmerson Mnangagwa's supporters.
Mujuru was being challenged by Mnangagwa, which caused a serious rift in the
Mugabe has already indicated that he will step down in 2008.
The amendment of the constitution is on number six out of nine issues on the
conference agenda. The conference, which is expected to be attended by 5 000
delegates, will review the general state of the party and progress of
Zanu PF is also set to discuss "the diplomatic offensive and the financial
report" of the party.
The party will review the state of the economy which encompasses mining,
manufacturing and tourism.
On Tuesday, Mugabe hinted the government would be putting in place policy
instruments such as the Empowerment Bill, the National Empowerment Fund and
the Empowerment Charter.
"The instruments seek to create a comprehensive institutional framework for
indigenisation and empowerment programmes, facilitate financial assistance
to further indigenise the economy and forestall negative tendencies of the
empowerment that previously manifested themselves in the form of economic
malpractices and corruption," Mugabe said.
At the meeting, Zanu PF will also discuss the land reform programme.
There will be progress reports on land audits and the A1 and the A2 land
The meeting will also review the impact of the Constitutional Amendment
Number 17 and assess "preparations for the current agricultural season".
Zanu PF will also review state of the social services which includes
Operation Garikai/Hlalani Kuhle, health, education and transport. A
resolution should also be passed on the state of social services.
The meeting will also co-opt new members into the central committee and the
politburo but the issue of Mugabe's successor is not likely to feature.
"Even if succession arises it will not be on the public agenda because there
are no vacancies, the president is only retiring in 2008 and therefore there
is no sense of urgency," Eldred Masunungure, a political analyst from the
University of Zimbabwe, told Reuters yesterday.
Tensions still exist from last year's Zanu PF row over a successor to
Mugabe. The dispute nearly split the party in two a few months before
crucial parliamentary elections, which Zanu PF went on to win despite the
Mugabe persuaded his party faithful to endorse his preferred candidate for
the vacant post of second vice president in Zanu PF party and government, a
post seen as a step up the ladder to his own position.
Mugabe then cracked down on senior members of a faction which had lobbied
for Mnangagwa, suspending several from the party and demoting others both
within Zanu PF structures and government, quelling any lingering murmurs of
But the veteran leader has not publicly anointed a successor.
"The faction leaders from last year's debacle have retreated and it is still
too early for them to re-enter the gladiator (arena) because the dust has
not settled," Masunungure said.
FINHOLD has said Zimbabwe's economic growth projections for 2006 are
unlikely to be driven by agriculture as the sector is hampered by shortages
of inputs and late rains.
Finance minister Herbert Murerwa has projected that the economy will grow by
2% to 3,5% in his budget statement. The financial services group in its
budget analysis said factors such as the shortage of fuel and seed will
negatively impact on the sector resulting in reduced production.
"Notwithstanding the ambitious growth projections every year, the Minister
of Finance still believes that Zimbabwe's economy will expand by between 2%
and 3,5% in 2006, with agriculture expected to spearhead the recovery,"
"This optimism is not backed by developments on the ground, where production
is likely to be compromised by, among other factors, the shortage of
essential inputs such as fertiliser, chemicals and fuel. The late arrival of
the rains is also likely to result in lower than normal agricultural
The group said although the minister had called for discipline in
agriculture, it remains to be seen whether this will be respected.
"Additionally, while the minister's statement on discipline in the
agricultural sector is welcome, it remains to be seen whether such
sentiments will be respected so as to encourage investment in the sector,"
Finhold said the budget statement had failed to provide details as to how
government would reduce inflation from 411% in October to the projected
target of 80% at the end of 2006.
"The budget statement states that even though the year-on-year rate of
inflation stood at 411% in October, it will be brought down to end 2006 at
80%. However, there is not much detail on how this will be achieved, except
the belief that the country will experience normal rains," Finhold said.
It said given the frequent droughts, the projected rebound of agriculture as
a major contributor to the economy was highly unlikely.
"Moreover, there is mention of a desire to implement complementary
restrictive fiscal and monetary policies. Given the frequent occurrences of
drought, over which the country has no control, and the constraints listed
above, the expected rebound in agriculture may not occur."
The financial services group said conditions under which the current budget
was crafted were unfavourable as the economy was expected to decline by
"The conditions under which the 2006 budget was crafted are highly
unfavourable, with the economy forecast to decline by 3,5% in 2005 compared
to the budgeted growth of between 3,5% and 5%," said Finhold.
It said the policies announced by the minister were at variance with the
need to reduce inflation and move away from a controlled economy.
"In addition, there are other policy measures announced by the Minister of
Finance that are at variance with the need to reduce inflation. There is the
desire to move away from a regulated economy to one where market forces play
a greater role."
The financial institution said the ability of the policy statement to deal
with inflation would largely depend on how it would finance the projected
budget deficit of $13,9 trillion.
"Moreover, the extent to which inflation can be reduced will also depend on
how the projected deficit of $13,9 trillion in 2006 will be financed," said
"While the minister's desire is to source the bulk of this amount from
non-bank sources in order to reduce the inflationary impact of bank
financing of the deficit, the capacity is not there," Finhold said.
"As a result, and in, line with recent experience, a large proportion of the
deficit is likely to be financed through bank borrowings which will result
in an inflationary growth in money supply."
ZIMBABWE Stock Exchange-listed timber processor, Border Timbers, this year
lost 706 hectares of timber to 75 fires caused mainly by newly-resettled
farmers, the company has said in its annual report. It said 93% of the fires
were due to arson.
During the year under review, Border said group performance was below
target. "The fire season was extremely taxing with 75 recorded fires leading
to a loss of 706 hectares," Border said. "Furthermore, of the 75 recorded
fires, 36 occurred on the Charter Estate, illustrating the severity of the
impact of the land invasions. It is important to note that 93% of the
recorded fires were due to arson."
The company said new technology in the form of state-of-the art fire trucks,
rapid response strike units and specialised small tools, significantly
enhanced its firefighting operations and prevented substantial destruction
of the plantations, specifically Charter Estate.
During the period under review, Border Timbers failed to access cheap funds
under the Productive Sector Facility (PSF) for most of the year, which
contributed to reduced profits compared to the budget, while
hyperinflationary conditions contributed adversely to the cost structure of
Border's financial results this year indicate a decrease in profit after
taxation and an extraordinary item of nearly $12 billion. Selling price
increases in both local and the export market lagged behind input costs,
while the auction exchange rate rendered exports unviable.
The net result of all this was a further reduction in margins. In the
report, Border expressed concern at government's disrespect for the 2002
High Court rulings against all designations of its properties for purposes
of acquisition. Last year government continued with its listings despite the
"The number of illegal settlers on the company's properties continued to
increase; this was the case in the Chimanimani properties," Border said.
"It is, however, encouraging that some of these illegal settlers were
subsequently evicted. The risks associated with these illegal occupations
are evidenced by the numerous arson fires experienced during the year."
GOVERNMENT'S domestic debt now stands at $14 trillion, increasing more than
threefold since the beginning of the year as government failed to rein in
According to statistics from the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe, as at November 25
total government domestic debt was $14 trillion from $3 trillion on January
The domestic debt is mainly made up of treasury bills, government stocks and
RBZ advances to government.
Out of the $14 trillion, RBZ advances to government amounted to $1,5
trillion and treasury bill amount at cost and interest were $5,5 trillion
and $6 trillion respectively.
On June 24, the debt had increased to about $11,6 trillion and rose to $12,5
trillion by August 26.
In almost all his national budget statements, the Minister of Finance,
Herbert Murerwa, has emphasised that the government should control recurrent
While presenting his 2006 national budget statement last week, Murerwa said
the financing of the budget deficit had been dominated by domestic bank
"Given this scenario," Murerwa said, "government will limit recurrent
expenditures to revenue generated and only borrow to finance capital
He said the continued dominance of domestic financing of the budget deficit
during 2005 pushed the total stock of domestic debt up from $1,7 trillion in
December 2004 to $15,9 trillion by the end of October.
"The structure of domestic public debt reflects the dominance of short-term
paper (93%), with long to medium-term debt only taking up 7%."
"This structure of debt is expensive and not sustainable," Murerwa said.
The domestic debt is expected to increase further because government borrows
for consumption, to finance recurrent expenditure, rather than for capital
The major components of the recurrent expenditures are public service
employment and social service delivery costs.
Besides borrowing from the domestic market to finance its expenditure,
government can also use its overdraft facility with the central bank.
However, there is a statutory limit stipulated by the RBZ Act on the amount
the government can borrow, set at 20% of the previous year's revenue
INTERNATIONAL fuel distributor Mobil Oil Zimbabwe has started disposing of
its assets in the country, businessdigest can reveal. The fuel company has
engaged a real estate agent to evaluate the assets to be disposed of.
According to a letter written on November 2 to one service station dealer
titled "Sale of Assets" by Mobil's area manager for southern Africa,
Goodmore Chatora, the firm will be conducting fuel tank integrity tests to
determine their condition.
"Mobil Oil Zimbabwe's contractors will in the next few days be conducting
tank integrity tests to determine the condition of the tanks at your service
station. Please afford them co-operation," Chatora said.
"Should tanks be found to be in a sound condition, we will offer to sell
them to you. In the event that you are unable to finance their purchase, we
will offer them to other parties with whom you can enter into separate
supply arrangements," reads the statement on a Mobil letterhead.
Chief executive for Mobil Zimbabwe Nester Ankiba had not responded to
written questions sent to his office on Monday to ascertain if the
organisation is disinvesting from Zimbabwe. Zimbabwe has been experiencing
an acute shortage of fuel over the past five years owing to foreign currency
The government blames the scarcity of fuel on targeted sanctions slapped on
the Zanu PF political leadership by Britain and its western allies.
President Robert Mugabe and his ministers were slapped with sanctions by the
European Union and the United States following the disputed 2002
As part of plans to ease the crisis Finance minister Herbert Murerwa last
week announced that fuel importers will now be accessing foreign currency
using the inter bank rate.
Chatora recommended that after the completion of the disposal process the
affected garages enter fuel supply arrangements with the National Oil
Company of Zimbabwe (Noczim) who have the infrastructure and operational
"If the tanks are found not to be in sound condition, Mobil Oil Zimbabwe
will not be able to sell them to you and might have to pull them out for
environmental reasons. The other assets such as pumps will be sold to you
regardless of the results of the integrity tests," Chatora said.
"In the next few days and weeks our real estate agent Lead will visit you to
negotiate the prices of our assets and will deliver the contracts for your
signature. Once again we thank you for having partnered us over the years."
Since August, the central bank has allowed the buying of fuel at selected
garages using foreign currency.
The failure to supply fuel by Noczim has led to a number of garages
retrenching whilst some service stations are importing directly and
reselling the commodity at between $100 000-$115 000 a litre.
THE International Monetary Fund (IMF) has predicted that the country's gross
domestic product (GDP) will next year shrink by minus 4,8% rather than the
minus 7,1% it forecast in June this year.
Finance minister Herbert Murerwa last week announced that the economy would
grow next year for the first time since 1999 on the back of a major
turnaround in the troubled agricultural sector.
Murerwa forecast gross domestic product growth of between 2 to -3,5% in
2006, against a 3,5% contraction this year.
This decline is in sharp contrast to the projected growth of 4,3% to 4,8%
for the world economy and sub-Saharan Africa respectively.
Murerwa said agriculture, which has been on a slide for the past six years,
would grow by 14,8%.
He said the key drivers of this growth would be maize production which he
said would increase by 33% and cotton by 26%.
He said the mining sector would also contribute to economic growth with an
increase of 27%.
"Growth will be driven mainly by agriculture, manufacturing, mining and
tourism," Murerwa said.
Analysts however said Murerwa's optimism was not backed by facts on the
ground, where production is likely to be compromised by the shortage of
essential inputs such as fuel, chemicals, and fertilisers, among others.
The IMF forecast the consumer price index at 253,1%.
The country has suffered six years of recession, with output contracting by
more than a third.
A combination of foreign currency shortages and drought has forced the
manufacturing sector to operate well below capacity.
Murerwa predicted the budget deficit would dip to 4,6% of GDP in 2006 from
5% this year.
He, however, gave no explanation for the lower forecasts, but has warned
government departments against overspending.
The IMF said without decisive policy action, the outlook for 2006 and beyond
was bleak. The IMF predicted further difficulties in agriculture. It said
the current maize crop was unlikely to meet national requirements.
It also projected higher inflation and foreign currency shortages. "The
widening fiscal deficit and quasi-fiscal activities will contribute to money
growth, pushing inflation to about 320% by end-2005," the IMF said.
"The current account deficit will widen temporarily to 7½% of GDP due to
higher food imports. Output is projected to contract again in 2006, with a
less severe decline in agriculture assuming normal levels of rainfall."
It said inflation would decelerate to 200% by the end of next year as the
fiscal deficit was held back by the erosion of government expenditure in
real terms. - Staff Writer.
THE Consumer Council of Zimbabwe (CCZ) has called upon consumers to take
prudent and self-sustaining measures to weather the economic storm which has
seen the shopping basket increasing twelve-fold since the beginning of the
Consumer disposable incomes continue to be eroded by escalating prices
severely affecting the low income earners.
In January, a family of six required $1,7 million per month representing a
4% increase from December 2004. The cost of the basket has continued to rise
over the past 12 months.
While the CCZ puts the cost of the basket of a family of six at nearly $13
million, the average salary of a civil servant is around $2,1 million. A
private soldier for instance, earns about $2,5 million while a teacher takes
home about $2,1 million.
Last month the basket surged to a new high of $12,9 million, representing a
10, 7% increase from October's grand total of $11,6 million.
The consumer watchdog warned consumers against impulse buying and to be wary
of unscrupulous retailers.
"Consumers should shop around to avoid being ripped off by unscrupulous
retailers, this will also help them in getting a fair deal," said the CCZ.
The lobby group which recently came under fire for lacking legal muscle to
pounce on dubious manufacturers and retailers to the best interest of the
consumer's cause, added that consumers should broaden their economic
horizons to beef up their meagre incomes.
"During these difficult times," said the CCZ, "we urge consumers to expand
their economic activities by engaging in extra trade, small-scale businesses
and other lawful income-generating activities to augment their wages and
However, effective yesterday, fuel prices were hiked from the government
gazetted $22 300 per litre for petrol to about $120 000 per litre on the
open market, a scenario expected to exacerbate consumer woes due to the
inflationary impact ignited on goods and services.
Hyper-inflation which is hovering at 411% together with plans by government
to allow market forces to determine prices will further weaken the
consumer's buying power as prices are likely to soar to unprecedented
The CCZ said the economy's various stakeholders must agree on realistic
prices commensurate with consumer sustainability.
"The CCZ urges relevant authorities to agree on realistic, yet sustainable
prices, which will ensure consistence in the availability of commodities on
The consumer watchdog also noted that "increases in the cost of basic
commodities and services reveal that the incomes of the majority of the
workforce in the informal sector drastically mismatch the cost of living".
Since the onset of the economic meltdown some five years ago, consumers have
borne the brunt of the unstable macro-economic fundamentals, thereby making
them submissive to market forces.
PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe, the governor of the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe,
Gideon Gono and one Nathaniel Manheru (Saturday Herald columnist) were
literally frothing at the mouth about the extension of smart sanctions to
spouses and children of Zanu PF big wigs who have damaged the country beyond
They try unsuccessfully to give the impression that they are not really
bothered by their inability to travel to the First World while deep inside
they seeth with anger.
If they really do not care, why did they protest when one Joshua Malinga was
bundled onto the next plane from London on his way to the USA?
If they do not care, why did one Samuel Mumbengegwi boast when he was in
Brussels: "Mupfana ndiripakatikati payo Brussels, unoiziva inonzi Brussels,
ndiripakati pavo varungu".
He really made a fool of himself. The president went ballistic when the new
list was published.
I think "thou doth protest too much". The big wigs are besides themselves
with rage as their shopping is now restricted to the Second World -
Singapore, Malaysia etc.
Vanzwa sugar butter (serves them right).
WE are living in abnormal times. The abnormality stems from poverty which
unfortunately has triggered weird survival tactics and outlandish
entrepreneurial skills in many among us.
Zimbabwe has abundant human capital but most of it today is being employed
negatively or is being wasted.
There are doctors I know of who have stopped practising in order to sell
fuel. There are architects who find the lure of a quick buck from selling
cement more attractive than draughtsmanship. Senior bankers have left
executive offices to run lodges and brothels in the avenues and suburbia.
This is where the money is.
It is no longer just people selling foreign currency at Roadport or fuel in
front of Noczim House in Harare or the now common cheque fraudsters
constituting the parallel economy also known as the black or grey economy
(depending on one's colour sensitivities). The new economy outside glass and
mortar structures has created billionaires who can never thrive in a
properly-run economy. When ordinary rural folk in Mberengwa can harness
donkeys to pull a cart packed with $8,4 billion, then it's time to reflect
seriously on the parlous state of our economy.
The new entrepreneurs go about their business with stunning efficiency.
Purveyors of the parallel economy can easily claim to be more efficient and
effective than those running the formal economy. They see opportunities
where many cannot envisage any. This week the Harare commission's $33
trillion gargantuan budget presented a break for some. A youngster I met
this week was rubbing his hands with glee at the announcement that the cost
of burial space was going to increase from the current $750 000 to $8,5
million in January and then to $17 million in July.
That is prime real estate with returns unmatched by any property investment
in the city, he mused. This is just over three square metres set to fetch
$8,5 million. Prime residential land in Harare's leafy suburbs is selling
for $500 000 a square metre. The youngster was planning to buy hundreds of
graves in city cemeteries for resale next year. There is always a ready
This is not a greenfield venture because there are others already in the
business. No wonder Warren Hills cemetery is said to be full but burials
still take place in the graveyard. There are graves available on the black
market. Competition in this area is set to increase as more "estate agents"
join the fray.
The challenging economic environment has brought with it a measure of
cunning and opportunism which borders on the criminal. The smart middleman
making billions on the street is thriving because of criminals performing
the less honourable tasks of providing merchandise.
The merchants of the ill-gotten products then drive the illegality in the
country. There is a ready market for cheap oil for commuter omnibus drivers
and its source, Zesa transformers, which when drained of oil, switch off
whole suburbs for weeks. Backyard foundries provide a ready market for
felons stealing Zesa copper and aluminum cables every night. Enterprising
hawkers are loading water onto bus carriers from Harare for resale in
The government does not deny the existence of a black market but has
popularised the belief that the black economy is rooted only in fuel and
foreign currency shortages despite more facets of the economy becoming
black. It encompasses all sorts of pilferage, adulteration and evasion,
which have become the hallmark of this economy. While everybody acknowledges
the existence of a black market the government appears at a loss over how to
The vibrancy of the parallel economy is a sign that the official economy is
not providing enough goods and services, and that a norm of illegality
exists in a country. The land reform programme gave illegality fresh impetus
as those who looted farm implements, stole cattle and harvested crops they
did not grow appeared immune to prosecution. They were stealing from white
farmers four years ago and today, black resettled farmers are victims. Their
loss is feeding the "other" economy.
Zimbabwe has become a haven for counterfeit goods manufactured here and
across borders. Recently there have been adverts by beverage manufacturers
warning of cheap bottled drinks on the market packaged under their
trademarks. Glue manufacturers have also warned of imitation products being
sold in hardware shops. Be careful when buying padlocks for your doors. One
imitation brand is packaged in exactly the same box as the genuine product.
Manufacturers of the counterfeit product have replaced the "U" on the brand
name of the proper product with an "O". This gives the cheap product the
name of a vegetable and that is exactly what it is.
There is all the evidence that the illegal economy has drained talent and
initiative from the official economy, deprived the government of tax
revenues, and led to inefficient use of resources. The government cannot
manage key resources like fuel and foreign currency because these are not in
the hands of the state. Those in charge of the key resources would rather
use them for self-enrichment and not national development because they do
not want to support a system they abhor.
The net effect of all this is that the parallel market has become a major
source of inflation and currency instability. It has made nonsense of hard
work and genuine business acumen. And there is no sign that the government
knows what should be done. Indeed, it is part of the problem.
By Denford Magora
A DAY after the senate election, Morgan Tsvangirai told the world that the
apathy that led to the low voter turnout was a response to his call for a
boycott of the polls.
International news services said he "boasted" that the people of Zimbabwe
had heeded his call.
But Tsvangirai is deluding himself. That there was massive apathy is not in
dispute. It should also be evident even to him that the low voter turnout
was a serious indictment of the way he has led the opposition over the past
six years as much as it was a definite slap in President Mugabe's face.
It all started with the March parliamentary poll. The turnout was also low.
Tsvangirai campaigned in those elections, even after initially talking of a
boycott. But the turnout was still dismal. The explanation is simple enough.
We had a low voter turnout in the March parliamentary poll because the
electorate had written both Tsvangirai and Mugabe off already. They had
decided voting for Tsvangirai's MDC was as much a waste of time as was
voting for the now thoroughly dysfunctional ruling party.
Tsvangirai is intelligent enough to realise that when people say "voting is
a waste of time" they are talking as much about the way the MDC utilises the
votes it is given, as much as they are talking about the ineptitude of Zanu
If he realises this, then he should be hiding his face in shame at the way
his party and leadership have ruined people's enthusiasm for the democratic
Yes, their votes are wasted because when Tsvangirai and the MDC pocket those
votes, they do not appear to champion the causes that are dear to their
supporters' hearts. Those causes go beyond the attainment of power. People
have to live in the meantime.
We really should not be repeating over and over again the need to tune into
the people's daily tempo. Their daily struggles, hopes and little battles
should never have been ignored by Tsvangirai who thought that he had a
"higher" calling and better things to do with his time than bother with
bread and butter issues.
The people of Zimbabwe, with the exception of the geriatrics who pottered
along to cast their votes for Zanu PF last week, are now sick and tired of
Zanu PF also carries a very large part of the blame for this apathy. Voters
have given up on a Zanu PF led by Mugabe which they now never take
seriously, except when it comes to beating peaceful protesters to a pulp and
detaining them. This government has not given the vast majority of our
people any reason to turn up at the polls.
Promises made by Zanu PF may as well be written on toilet paper, which will
be flushed down the drains before the ink has even dried on it.
In any serious democracy, or even in a society with pretensions to
democracy, it ought to shame both the person in power and the one seeking to
take that power when people just don't care anymore. This is Zimbabwe's
reality. But do not hold your breath for any signs of shame from either
Mugabe or Tsvangirai. These people live in their own world, believing
whatever makes them feel most comfortable at any given moment.
As for Tsvangirai, the only credit that should go to him is that he has
managed to so thoroughly disenchant the people of this country that they
really do not believe that he has any more fight left in him. They know he
has no strategy either, after having seen him blow hot and cold after losing
three elections, which he claimed were rigged.
No one needs to remind the people of this country of the ineptitude and
apparent helplessness of the opposition "leader" in the face of successive
opportunities presented to him on a silver platter.
There was the anger of the people after the 2000 parliamentary poll was
allegedly "stolen" by Mugabe. Then came another wave of anger when Mugabe
closed the polling stations early during the presidential election, thereby
denying Tsvangirai the presidency by a margin of some 400 000.
Tsvangirai did not channel this anger with the people. Instead, he left them
to swing in the wind, while he globetrotted and asked foreigners to put
pressure on Mugabe.
Meantime, those who voted for the opposition leader looked on as Mugabe and
his ministers like Ignatius Chombo (Local Government) and Joseph Made
(Agriculture) proceeded to govern the country as though it were a rubbish
They did not see their lot improve in any way. What they saw instead was an
intensification of their hardships, brought on by further isolation of the
newly-elected Zanu PF government. Inflation continued to spiral out of
control, fuel blues continued to bite really hard despite assurances by
This led to the population experiencing intense public transport problems.
Both Tsvangirai and Mugabe remained mum on this issue, even as people waited
for hours on end to catch buses in the morning and at night.
Zhupco, despite making a dubious and convenient "profit" that allowed it to
donate to Zanu PF is, to this day, failing to make a dent in the public
transport problem. Of course, Tsvangirai is not in power, and he has
protested before that he should not be blamed for these happenings.
But that is sheer nonsense. The people who voted for him are suffering
because of the incompetence of the government that he says stole the
election. They expect him to do something to show that he has not forgotten
their plight. That something is not the addressing of endless rallies. It is
not the frequenting of foreign capitals in search of moral and financial
support. It is not the issuing of statements condemning this and that from
the comfort of his home.
They expect him to take the lead in confronting this government over its
callous insensitivity over everything from the shortage of basic commodities
to the so-called Operation Murambatsvina. In fact, not one person I speak to
has any recollection of whether Tsvangirai said or did anything to defend
the urbanites who were treated like criminal dogs during this operation.
It then comes down to this: people are now of the opinion that neither
Tsvangirai nor Mugabe can make a difference to their daily woes. Neither
seems to care that the country is burning and the economy has collapsed.
Yes, collapsed. Neither has the capacity to change their circumstances.
As a result, people have taken the attitude: each man for himself and the
devil take the hindermost. If they desert their fields during this rainy
season to waste a Saturday voting in a contest between two corpses, they had
only themselves to blame for hunger, deprivation and suffering when tomorrow
comes. They will not hear from Tsvangirai or Mugabe. So, their Saturday was
better spent trying to ensure the survival of their families the following
week. They have now realised that the fate of their individual family groups
lies in their hands and theirs alone, not in Mugabe's discredited
pronouncements or Tsvangirai's floundering.
Do not be fooled. Even if Tsvangirai had accepted to participate in the
polls, the level of apathy would have been the same. It would have been a
continuation of the widespread apathy we saw in March, when the MDC had its
seats reduced amidst a massive fall in voter turnout.
Apart from a cabal of die-hard fanatics on both sides of the political
fence, no one cares anymore how many elections are held. For this reason, if
for no other, those who are making moves to dismiss Tsvangirai from the helm
of the party should be applauded by all who cherish democracy.
* Denford Magora is a Harare-based marketing executive.
By Phillip Pasirayi
ONE of the stories that made the headlines on national television on Monday
was the misleading claim by the MDC deputy secretary-general Gift
Chimanikire that Morgan Tsvangirai destroyed the party.
There are many flaws in this statement which I wish to highlight.
It is wrong in the first place to argue that the MDC has been destroyed.
There is nothing that points to the demise of the party because its organs
are still intact despite the bickering by an MDC minority, that is, members
of the so-called "Top 6" that in the past, I and other writers have equated
to an undemocratic institution such as the politburo in Zanu PF.
The grassroots of the MDC is well-oiled as exemplified by the number of
people who turn up at Tsvangirai's rallies countrywide, except that it is
continuously betrayed by a tribalistic, timorous and incompetent leadership.
We have not heard about defections of MDC members since the 2002 Zanu
PF-concocted resignations from the opposition party.
Leaders of the MDC must be clear in their intentions rather than take the
people for granted. What is baffling about Chimanikire's claims is that they
came barely two days after he declared his ambitions to challenge Tsvangirai
at the MDC congress.
It is wrong for Chimanikire to challenge Tsvangirai in a manner that weakens
the MDC and takes away people's trust in the party.
Chimanikire has adopted a "scorched earth policy" by destroying everything
in his way so that he gains pre-eminence in the MDC.
Members of the pro-senate faction, who until recently, used to argue that
they had lost confidence in the country's judiciary, must also be honest
with Zimbabweans and explain why all of a sudden they now say the courts can
impartially resolve MDC problems.
It is a pity that one member of this faction, himself a professor of
constitutional law, still can trust the courts and want them to adjudicate
in MDC disputes. The implications of taking Tsvangirai to court on the
allegations that he is flouting conditions for his suspension are
far-reaching and may see the complete demise of the MDC, which is what
people like Chimanikire want.
There is a possibility that Tsvangirai is going to be barred from conducting
party business on the basis of his suspension. If he defies this order, he
will be arrested around the time that the MDC should be going to congress so
that he does not seek re-election as MDC president.
This will be done so that presidential aspirant, Chimanikire, who so far has
proved a willing tool of Zanu PF, emerges the winner.
Zanu PF is more comfortable with Chimanikire as MDC president than
Tsvangirai because they know that he is an "ignoramus". No serious
electorate would entrust power in such a person.
The other likely scenario from the court challenge is that the battle will
be protracted and be manipulated by Zanu PF to suit its own agenda. If
Tsvangirai refuses to surrender party assets, police will intervene in the
name of enforcing the law and as such expose the MDC regarding what it has
and what it does not have, including where it got some of the assets.
We are certainly poised for more interesting times ahead of the MDC congress
but we might be going there without the man who is a hero to many people
fighting for democracy in Zimbabwe!
* Phillip Pasirayi is a civil rights activist.
By Bill Saidi
AMONG members sworn into the new senate last week were two housewives with
distinctive credentials. Their husbands are members of the lower house, the
National Assembly. One husband is a long-serving cabinet minister, the other
a fairly new deputy minister.
Now these ladies could very well possess brilliant credentials as liberation
war heroes. Yet, if they had not been the spouses of two prominent Zanu PF
politicians, chances are that they might have had to struggle hard to make
it into the senate, described by cynics as a political scrapyard turned into
a juicy part of the gravy train.
The lower house itself has three members of the same family as MPs: Sabina
Mugabe and her two sons, Leo Mugabe and Patrick Zhuwao.
Sabina herself is the sister of President Robert Mugabe and her political
credentials may indeed be impeccable, but her sons' are less so, to be quite
Leo's reputation was made as the leader of the Zimbabwe Football
Association. His departure from that post was steeped in controversy.
Patrick was suddenly thrust forward as a Zanu PF candidate for Manyame.
Then, just like that, he was a deputy minister.
Many serious analysts, stretching their neutrality to absurd heights, could
argue that there is no big deal here: all these people came by their
positions legitimately, unless there is solid evidence of duplicity.
But that is being naive. This is politics, the bedrock of which is cynicism
Marie Antoinette immortalised the quip "Let them eat cake" when asked what
the people of Paris could eat as there was no more bread for them.
At the time, the ruling elite of France were stuffing themselves sick with
food while the poor perished of hunger.
Marie Antoinette may or may not have said what she is said to have said, but
she is stuck with the quote for all time.
But the trait most admired by many in a politician is the capacity for
cynicism in the face of adversity. The relatives mentioned above would
react, typically, with a nonchalant: "So what? Sue us."
This cynicism or impunity was evident in the decision to go ahead with the
senate election, right from the start.
A Newsnet survey had demonstrated candidly that most people in the country
had no idea why they were being bothered with this particular trek to the
The impunity with which the government went ahead with the election is, as
they say, "par for the course" as far as Zanu PF is concerned.
You have to go back to the first election to obtain an insight into the
impunity with which Zanu PF has run this country, killing democracy softly,
in a manner of speaking.
In the first election before Independence, it was Mugabe's party which
decided they would not fight the polls jointly with their Patriotic Front
partners, Joshua Nkomo's PF Zapu.
This turned the election into an ethnic contest, with Mugabe's party winning
in most of the country and Nkomo's victorious in Matabeleland.
This was the harbinger of the Gukurahundi bloodbath. We know that there will
be arguments about this for a long time, but posterity will not be cheated
In 1985, Nkomo, having returned from exile, led his party in their last
election as an entity and won everything on offer in their turf.
In 1990, the united Zanu PF faced another offshoot, Edgar Tekere's Zimbabwe
Unity Movement, which they creamed.
Tekere lost to Mugabe, but Patrick Kombayi lost much more: he was crippled
for life. His opponent in the election was Simon Muzenda, who died in 2003
and was immortalised by Zanu PF as "The Soul of the Nation".
One of the people arrested, charged and convicted as a result of the
attempted murder of Kombayi was an employee of the Central Intelligence
Organisation. The cynicism with which Mugabe pardoned the two would-be
assassins was a lesson in political expediency.
In 1995, Zanu PF brushed aside the feeble challenge of the Forum Party of
Zimbabwe, led by the former Chief Justice, Enoch Dumbutshena. There were no
reported assassination attempts in that election campaign.
But the 2000 election campaign marked a new level in the impunity with which
Zanu PF intended kill democracy in the country. Forty people were reportedly
killed before the polls, including Talent Mabika and Tichaona Chiminya.
Once again, the CIO was involved - one of the people allegedly involved in
the torching of the two MDC activists' vehicle belonged to the CIO. His name
was mentioned publicly, but to this day - unless a secret trial has been
held - neither he nor his alleged accomplice have been brought to book.
And so with the 2005 senatorial election, with Zanu PF still trying to kill
democracy softly and with impunity, again, the CIO was mentioned. They are
reported to have had shady dealings with the pro-senate faction in the MDC.
After the election, which recorded one of the lowest percentage polls ever
and in which the MDC rebels won a measly seven out of then 26 seats they had
contested, there was no defeat conceded by any group in the MDC.
But Morgan Tsvangirai had been vindicated. His boycott call had been largely
heeded. A majority of the voters had stayed away from the polls.
They had indicated to Zanu PF that they were determined to stop the rot, to
stop the murder of their democracy, which Zanu PF has been trying to do
Perhaps it wasn't even a victory for Tsvangirai as an individual, but
awareness by the people that it was time to show Zanu PF that they would not
be taken for granted any more.
If the rebel group in the MDC insists that someone ought to be punished for
the success of the election boycott, then serious questions may be asked. It
is difficult to believe that people like Gibson Sibanda, Welshman Ncube,
Gift Chimanikire and Paul Themba Nyathi would risk the demise of the MDC,
for which they fought the Zanu PF bullies alongside Tsvangirai, over the
It would suggest there was more to their fight than the election. In that
case nobody would mourn the death of the party. It would thoroughly deserve
to be killed softly, and with massive impunity by Zanu PF.
* Bill Saidi is editor of the banned Daily News on Sunday.
LAST week Finance minister Herbert Murerwa announced that government was
going to privatise seven parastatals to ease the burden on the fiscus and
improve their operations.
Murerwa admitted that parastatals and local authorities were an "impediment
to economic growth and a drain to the fiscus". He also conceded that some of
the turnaround strategies being implemented were inadequate.
"Government has, therefore, decided on the restructuring of some of the
public enterprises through strategic alliances and joint ventures that
facilitate the injection of additional equity capital, as well as access to
modern technology and equipment," Murerwa said.
Seven parastatals are earmarked for privatisation through what the minister
called joint ventures, strategic alliances and concessioning. Zimbabwe Power
Company (ZPC), Tel*One, Net*One and Air Zimbabwe will be privatised through
strategic partnerships while the National Railways of Zimbabwe (NRZ) will be
commercialised through what the minister called concessioning.
Zisco will be privatised through a joint venture or a management contract.
The minister said the state would sell part of its stake in the troubled
Cold Storage Company (CSC) which would be listed on the Zimbabwe Stock
Murerwa said government was going to sell its shareholding in other
parastatals to raise capital. "In order to raise resources, especially
foreign exchange and to ensure wider indigenous participation in the
economy, government will also divest some of its shareholding in other
Analysts say most of the collapsing parastatals require foreign currency
which government has been battling to generate over the past five years.
Selling parastatals to locals would not change their fortunes because they
do not have foreign currency to meet import requirements, analysts say.
Many of the companies earmarked for privatisation are crumbling because they
lack foreign currency to acquire new technology. The NRZ's wagons and rail
systems are falling apart because of lack of foreign currency. Net*One and
Tel*One's network systems are congested for the same reason. The ZPC's power
generators at Hwange and Kariba are not being repaired because there is no
foreign currency to acquire spare parts.
Most problems in parastatals are a result of perennial foreign currency
shortages and only foreign direct investment (FDI) can inject forex and new
Government will therefore need to dispose of its stake in state companies to
foreign investors who have the capital to resuscitate them.
It is however the ability to attract offshore investment that might prove a
major stumbling block for a government that has earned a dubious reputation
for disregarding the rule of law and property rights. Investors are still
worried about Zimbabwe's high political and economic risk, analysts say.
While the proposed changes suggest that government is moving towards a
market-driven economy which it dumped in 2000 at the height of the land
crisis, analysts say the new measures are piecemeal and might not amount to
privatisation in real terms. They say although government is signaling that
it wants to divest from the parastatals, history shows that there is no
political will to relinquish control over companies like Air Zimbabwe, the
ZPC, Tel*One and the NRZ.
The state has in the past used these companies to provide sheltered
employment for cronies and are fertile grounds for corruption.
Prices of their goods and services are controlled by the government which
wants to be seen to be doing something to cushion the public. The ZPC and
Tel*One are not allowed to review their tariffs without cabinet approval.
The state also has a say in what the NRZ charges for its services.
Analysts say that while strategic partnerships, management contracts and
joint ventures are all forms of privatisation, their effectiveness depends
on government's level of interference in their operations. Strategic
partnership means that government will sell part of its shares to inject
fresh private capital.
This means that while government might retain a controlling stake,
operations are shared with a private investor.
An economist with a local bank said unless government totally relinquishes
control of the companies, all suggested models would not work. "Judging by
Murerwa's statements, it seems government wants to have its cake and eat
it," he said. "It wants private capital to resuscitate state firms but
still wants to maintain a dead man's grip on their running."
The history of privatisation in Zimbabwe is littered with examples of
failure, especially where government has a political interest, often
described as the "national interest". Zimbabwe United Passenger Company
(Zupco) is a clear example where a strategic partnership with the government
has failed. Despite the joint ownership with Zimre, which has a 49% stake in
the transport company, government uses its 51% shareholding to make
Government uses Zupco buses for state and party functions. During elections
and national days, Zanu PF uses Zupco buses to ferry its supporters to
Government has also insisted on making political appointments to the board
Political fingerprints are also apparent in botched privatisation deals. For
instance, the privatisation of Tel*One, a state-run fixed telecommunications
company, should have been completed last year had government not meddled.
Tel*One's privatisation had reached an advanced stage two years ago when
cabinet backtracked at the last minute after two bidders had been
shortlisted by Trust Bank, then the local advisors to takeover the company.
The privatisation policy has also been modified extensively since 1990 when
government adopted the Economic Structural Adjustment Programme (Esap) on
the advice of the International Monetary Fund. Esap required government to
offload parastatals to reduce its bloated expenditure. Companies such as
Dairibord and Cottco were privatised under the programme but the policy was
terminated in 2000 when government dropped Esap.
In 2002 government inexplicably announced that it was not privatising
anymore but commercialising the remaining parastatals. A classic example of
a botched privatisation deal is that of Astra Industries, a company which
was demerged into three entities - Cairns, Astra and Tractive Power.
Government had invited bidders to take over the companies but later shifted
goal posts when it decided not to privatise. Ukubambana Kubatana Investments
(UKI), a company owned by Mutumwa Mawere, is still fighting to get the
shares after it won the bid.
All these, analysts say, will work against government when it starts the
privatisation process. The major stumbling block apart from lack of
political will, is that local investors no longer have confidence in
Offshore investors are likely to be put off by both government's policy
flip-flops and Zimbabwe's high political risk. It will be difficult to
persuade outsiders to invest in a country with no respect for property
rights as amply demonstrated in the seizure of white commercial farms
without paying compensation and the ongoing Shabani Mashaba Mine saga with
Mawere. The current battle in which Trust Bank and Royal Bank shareholders
are challenging the takeover of their assets by government through the
Zimbabwe Allied Banking Group paints a vivid picture of the risks of losing
Eric Bloch Column
By Eric Bloch
AS Zimbabwe listened to the very erudite delivery to parliament of the 2006
national budget statement last Thursday by Finance minister Dr Herbert
Murerwa, the reaction of many must, in the early phases of that delivery,
have been that the minister must be the latest victim of the very pronounced
Although all will desperately hope that the 2006 economic outturn will be as
foreseen in the budget statement, most - if not all - Zimbabweans are
undoubtedly so highly-sceptical of that outturn being realised that they
assume that the minister has emigrated to Cloud Cuckooland. The prospects of
the projections becoming reality are remote in the extreme!
However, when the minister continued his statement and addressed revenue and
expenditure issues, he demonstrated that he is not unaware of the prevailing
economic environment, for he approached those issues with a very high degree
of realism, and with very real concern for the widespread hardships
confronting the majority of Zimbabweans.
Therefore, it must be assumed that the improbable economic projections were
not because the minister is not in touch with the facts on the ground, but
that he was obligated (possibly at risk of his ministerial post) to sing the
governmental melodies of economic myth.
Ever since the president and his government set the economy upon its
disastrous decline in late 1997, he and his ministers have consistently
denied culpability, and have unwaveringly blamed others, whilst concurrently
promising, year after year an economic turnaround.
Of course, the economic recovery did not materialise because, with equal
consistency, government has not only continued to do that which has been
diametrically opposite of the necessary for restoration of economic
well-being, but has also continued to reject any blame for ongoing economic
According to government, the economic ills have been attributable to the
acts of the United Kingdom in general, and Premier Tony Blair and Jack Straw
in particular, the USA and President George Bush, the Commonwealth (with a
few exceptions), white commercial farmers, white industrialists, the
political opposition, and drought, to name but a few.
Destructive land reform implementation, profligate payouts to actual and
so-called war veterans, gross governmental overspends, disregard for
economic fundamentals, abuse of the principles of law and order, contempt
for human rights, alienation of the international community, and the like,
had nothing to do with the continuing economic collapse, according to
government, and it persists in finding alternative, spurious targets of
The first of the improbable 2006 expectations of government, as disclosed in
the budget statement, was that agriculture is "expected to register a
positive growth rate of 14,8%.on the back of the normal rain season,
increased hectarage under irrigation, timely provision of critical inputs
and the introduction of the targeted production programme to promote food
The drivers of the growth are projected to be a 33% increase in maize
production and a 26% increase in that of cotton. However, even if those
production increases materialise, despite inadequate land preparation, and
despite many farmers selling the fuel allocated to them into the black
market, they will surely be offset by the very probable 30% decline in
tobacco production. Moreover, general reports project no growth in the
coming year in the production of sugar, tea, coffee, citrus, or within the
dairy and beef sectors.
Mining is expected to grow by 27% in 2006, and this is a real possibility,
if the world gold price continues at current levels in excess of US$500 per
ounce, but only if the Reserve Bank allows market forces to drive exchange
rates. That is essential if the mining industry is to be enabled to meet
ever-rising operational costs, the most pronounced being wage escalations
(in view of ongoing hyperinflation), energy and imported spares and
consumables. But, if the rate continues to be "managed", instead of being
market-force driven as prescribed by the governor of the Reserve Bank, Dr
Gideon Gono, in his 2005 third quarter monetary policy statement, then the
mining industry will not achieve the projected increases in output.
The minister also referred to own "anticipated increase in tourist arrivals",
suggesting that "the country's continued track record of peace and
tranquillity should also benefit tourism".
Unfortunately, whilst that should be so, it does not correlate with the
continuing farm invasions, harassment of farmers, and the savage and brutal
murder of a farmer near Norton only five days prior to the budget statement,
which vicious attack has not even been the subject of a condemnatory
statement by government.
Whilst Vice-President Joseph Msika and Gono have repeatedly called for the
cessation of farm invasions, discontinuance of molestation of white farmers,
and an end to white farmer persecution, government has not shown any will or
intent to ensure compliance. That does not emit a sense of "peace and
tranquillity" as sought by tourists. It also is not conducive to investment
On the issue of great concern to all, being the intense upward surge in
inflation, after it was reduced by almost 500 percentage points during the
2004 and early 2005, the minister stated that the annual rate of inflation
is targeted to decline to "around 80% by the end of 2006".
This is similar to the Reserve Bank projection of a rate of between 50 and
80% by December 2006, but the minister disclosed that the projection is
"premised on the expected normal rain season, complementary restrictive
fiscal and monetary policies and significantly subdued parallel market
Although there are real prospects of a normal rain season, Zimbabwe will
nevertheless have to resort to food imports in 2006. Even if the forecast of
a 33% increase in maize production materialises, Zimbabwe will still have to
import in excess of 800 000 tonnes of maize, and inevitably will also have
to resort to wheat imports.
Such imports will either necessitate higher prices payable by the consumers,
or massive subsidies by government. Either will be inflationary!
SUNDAY Mail political editor Munyaradzi Huni has all but admitted that the
Zanu PF government has failed to reverse the economic decline. In his
scenario-building on the possible leadership crisis in the MDC, Huni said:
"The people who support (Morgan) Tsvangirai don't support him because they
think he is a better option, but they support him because of anger against
the ever-escalating cost of living."
That was the reason why the party has much of its support base in urban
areas, concluded Huni.
Is he trying to tell us something about how Zanu PF wins in rural areas? How
does Zanu PF justify its "landslide" victories in rural areas when we all
know voters there are worse off materially? We don't want to speculate that
it has anything to do with coercion or inflating of figures. By the way, has
the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission or the government media confirmed the
percentage poll yet in the senate election?
The Zimbabwe Electoral Support Network has put it at 19,4%. That would mean
of the 3,2 million eligible voters only 630 000 turned out. Why is the ZEC
and the Herald keeping this shocking statistic a secret?
The Sunday News reports that two villagers in Mberengwa district were last
week robbed of $8,4 billion in a Jericho-highway style attack. The report
says the money was being carried in a donkey-drawn cart to an unknown
The two men were descended upon by two thieves who attacked and forced one
of them to flee before they searched and got away with their booty. The
story doesn't say whether the robbers took away the cart and donkeys as
What is interesting though is the quantity of money involved, especially
when you consider that Chitungwiza was recently allocated a measly $5
billion to "sort out all" its problems. It also reflects badly on the
country's currency when mere villagers who can't even open a bank account
have to move around with over $8 billion on them. When we used to read about
people in Germany using wheelbarrows to carry money during the Great
Inflation of the 1920s these sounded like bed-time fairy tales. It didn't
occur to us as students that we would live to see it happen here.
The same paper carried a story about the South African constitutional court's
landmark ruling legalising same-sex marriage. The author of the story
boasted that such a thing would never happen in Zimbabwe because we are a
conservative country. He quoted what was described as "a public-interest
litigation lawyer" who sounded more conservative than the law itself, saying
same-sex marriages were out of the question because President Mugabe doesn't
"According to my own opinion," said the lawyer, "our society will never
allow gay marriages and our judges usually pass judgements that reflect the
feelings of society.If society is not prepared for such marriages, then the
judges are not pressured to pass favourable judgements."
The "lawyer" said Zimbabwean judges' "cultural values do not approve of
same-sex marriages" because they were raised in societies that do not permit
We found a number of things pretty strange with the report. Why should a law
passed by the South African courts evoke such strong feelings in Zimbabwe if
we are not obliged to adopt it? Is being conservative for its own sake
anything to be proud of?
Why do the human rights lawyer's views sound so much like Mugabe's? In fact
the comments are so value-laden that it is hard to believe he was giving a
legal opinion. We might be a conservative society, true, but judges' rulings
are supposed to reflect the law and uphold the constitution, not the
feelings of society or those of Mugabe. We also don't agree that all
Zimbabwean judges share the same "cultural values". That's an unnatural
trait that can be found only in Zanu PF.
And where does the stance adopted by the Sunday News leave minority rights
in our society we wonder? Trying to deny people what they are can only turn
it into a vice and drive it underground, and that doesn't make the country
any less gay than South Africa. In fact we would be a better society with
fewer child molesters and rapists and less violence against women than
worrying about gays.
Masvingo South Zanu PF MP Walter Mzembi is reading the riot act to a number
of civil servants. The import of his statement this week is fairly simple:
either you are a civil servant or you are a farmer.
He said a number of civil servants had been allocated farms but the country
wasn't benefiting. Most of them spend time in between: masquerading either
as civil servants or as farmers. His view is that streamlining the public
service should be the easiest of tasks because "we have given some civil
servants farms but they are doing nothing".
He told a post-budget presentation seminar that the same farmers failing to
deliver were usually the first to access inputs which they diverted to the
"Those who should be brutally dealt with are those allocated farms who are
not performing," he said.
We have in the past listened to similar fire and brimstone threats against
those holding on to more than one property and others using their ill-gotten
land as "weekend braai resorts". Can Zanu PF be trusted to deal "brutally"
with cronies on the farms when the police are doing nothing to curb the
illegal sale of fuel in the CBD? Apparently anybody allocated fuel for
farming activities sees it as a jackpot that turns them into instant
The government and players in the private sector have gone on "an intensive
drive to market Zimbabwe", we are told.
"Buoyed" by the government's declaration that 2005 is the Year of Investment
and taking advantage of the presence of the high-profile delegates who were
attending the meeting in Harare last week of the African Bankers Forum, they
spoke about the opportunities that existed.
Ministry of Industry and International Trade permanent secretary Rtd Col
Chris Katsande said the country provided an "enabling environment" for
investment and trade. He spoke glowingly about the investment potential in
beef, dairy, tobacco, cotton, sugar, and horticulture. He waxed lyrical
about the prospects for tourism which included the "tranquil Eastern
Former cabinet secretary Dr Charles Utete said as the country consolidated
its agricultural reforms opportunities in the agro-processing sector would
Why do they assume African bankers and other investors are completely naïve?
Just because President Mugabe said 2005 was the year of investment it does
not follow that Zimbabwe proved a draw for investors. In fact it has
arguably been a year in which investors have stayed away in droves.
There is a simple explanation for that. Anybody listening to Didymus Mutasa
or Chris Mushohwe would know that the Zimbabwean government is a threat to
investment. Its ministers promote not only seizures of productive farms but
other businesses as well.
Indeed, many of the farms taken recently have been the subject of Bilateral
Investment Promotion and Protection Agreements. Roy Bennett's farm,
Charleswood in Chimanimani, was the subject of six High Court protection
orders which the state ignored. The "tranquil" Eastern Highlands have also
witnessed other lawless and brutal farm invasions.
Currently, the lowveld sugar estates are in turmoil as companies that
invested billions of dollars there are chased off their properties. Anglo
American boss Lazarus Zim was told his company's agreement with the
government on sugar production was not worth the paper it was written on.
What would the former owners of Kondozi Estate have to tell the African
Bankers Forum about the prospects for horticultural investment in Zimbabwe?
Herbert Nkala spoke at the same meeting about investment in tourism and
pointed to opportunities in wildlife management, transfrontier game reserves
Thousands of wild animals died recently in Hwange because the wildlife
management authorities there failed to maintain water pumps and other basic
facilities. Across the country national parks and conservancies have been
invaded and occupied by poachers who have set fires and snares. These
include Gonarezhou which is part of a much-touted transfrontier park.
Very simply, the government has made 2005 a year of disinvestment and
decline. Nobody in their right mind would sink money into a country where
court orders are ignored and properties arbitrarily confiscated.
Private-sector chiefs such as Antony Mandiwanza who have contributed to the
government's delusional campaign in the last month of the year to sell
Zimbabwe as an investment destination need to be told to stop misleading the
international community. Until the rule of law is restored there will be no
investment coming this way. Nor should there be.
The German authorities may be surprised to see how the lifting of their
government's travel warning on Zimbabwe has been twisted by state-media
propagandists to mean that previous warnings were "false".
This is a word the government loves to use. A party of German travel agents
came to Zimbabwe ahead of the recent Travel Expo, the Sunday Mail reports,
and were impressed by the prevailing serenity, "a far cry from the
information peddled by their country's press". Zimbabwe Tourism Authority
boss Karikoga Kaseke said the German ambassador had been very cooperative
when the travel agents requested a meeting with "him".
It is difficult to believe that Kaseke would have failed to observe that the
German ambassador is a lady who has been in office for over a year now!
The move could influence other EU countries who "shared the same hostility
towards Zimbabwe" to reconsider their negative warnings, Kaseke said.
EU governments should note that the ZTA is a parastatal that lives off the
revenues of the private sector and makes partisan comments of this sort on a
Media and Information Commission chair Tafataona Mahoso has been waving his
fists at the Financial Gazette for suggesting that the CIO blocked the
registration of the Daily News.
Mahoso seems to object to the implication that he is not his own man. He
gave the pink paper a week to retract. He has made the same demand on the
Zimbabwe Independent in regard to another matter.
Let us bear in mind that it emerged in a court case that the MIC has the
same address as the Office of the President. And its members are handpicked
by the Minister of Information. Correspondence between the President's
Office and ZUJ in 2002 regarding the appointment of MIC members was included
in court papers last year. Former MIC member Jonathan Maphenduka recently
revealed that the regulatory body had at its June 16 meeting decided there
was no legal basis to deny the Associated Newspapers of Zimbabwe a licence
to publish the Daily News. This supports an interview given to the SABC in
April by President Mugabe in which he suggested there should be no obstacle
to registration by "genuine" applicants. But subsequent to the MIC's June
meeting, it ruled against granting ANZ a licence.
We don't know what occurred in the meantime. But that is what the public
need to know if they are to believe that the MIC is an independent body. Why
are we being asked to believe that it is an egregious falsehood to suggest
the CIO was behind this particular decision when it has been exposed as
heavily involved in media manipulation over several years without the MIC
once publicly objecting?
In his officious letter to the Fingaz Mahoso said: "The question whether
quasi-judicial bodies in Zimbabwe observe the rule of law and administer
their affairs in accordance with the rules of administrative justice is a
matter of national interest and public concern."
He is absolutely right there. Quasi-judicial bodies should be seen as
independent and fair, not biased and partisan.
'Zim pins hopes on Murerwa", the Business Herald declared last Thursday
ahead of his budget. But who in their right mind were pinning their hopes on
a minister who has failed to make any impact on the government's pattern of
failure over a lengthy period? This is not entirely his own fault. But like
Gideon Gono, he is too embedded with Zanu PF to redirect them away from
their delinquent habits.
Even the usual Pollyanna columnists were admitting defeat.
"The economy had largely been expected to grow between 3% and 5% but it is
now expected to contract by 7%," said one who is usually optimistic. "This
has largely been attributed to drought which has seen agriculture achieving
a paltry 1% growth against a projected 14%."
Murerwa had originally touted a figure of 28% for this year but he later
revised it down.
He is now projecting 15% agricultural growth if a number of other factors
such as "timely provision of critical inputs" are in place.
Despite this obvious credibility gap, the Business Herald's Pollyanna was
determined to have a rainy parade.
"However, the rainy season is looking up and we could register phenomenal
growth on the agriculture front," she chirpped. "What with the trillions of
dollars that have been poured into this sector."
This is evidently an exercise in mind over matter!
Finally, we noted the president's remarks to parliament this week about
turnarounds, commemorative events and returning confidence. Perhaps the most
emblematic event in his delusional address was the power blackout in the CBD
that accompanied his opening remarks. ZTV screened cartoons while Mugabe
Many will consider this entirely appropriate!
NOTHING more graphically illustrates the gravity of misgovernance in
Zimbabwe than two statements from President Mugabe and Agriculture minister
Joseph Made this week.
In his State of the Nation address on Tuesday, President Mugabe expressed
his frustration at the steep increases in the prices of basket goods which
he said was contributing to hyperinflation.
"Regrettably, this is also immensely contributing to the rapid erosion of
people's standards of living," said Mugabe.
"Government however continues to implement measures designed to turn around
the economy so prices can stabilise in the context of a growing and
Listening to the presidential speech evoked a sense of déjà vu. We have
heard all this before and as usual, very little has been done to improve our
lot. Instead, real government measures were contained in Made's
pronouncement on the same day that the Grain Marketing Board (GMB) was
raising the selling price of wheat to millers from $900 000 a tonne to over
$12 million, more than 11 times that is. We wait with bated breath for the
new selling price for maize.
Made knows the net effect of his new policy. There will be a sharp rise in
the price of bread and flour. But in typical Orwellian doublespeak, Made was
quick to warn bakers to comply with government regulations when determining
new bread prices.
He lamely threatened: "In the past we have seen both prices of flour,
wholesale and retail bread being escalated in an unrealistic manner under
the guise that the GMB has increased its wheat selling price to millers."
This is shameful duplicity by the minister. Can Made stand up and tell the
nation that the steep increase in the price of wheat from $900 000 to $12,3
million is "realistic"?
For a start, the GMB is buying wheat from farmers at about $6 million a
tonne and now wants to sell it for $12,3 million a tonne. This is
state-instigated profiteering, the sort that government condemns with
shameless passion in the ailing private sector.
Manufacturers have operated under very difficult conditions in which
government has forced them to charge uneconomic prices, ostensibly to put a
lid on inflation. But our government is culpable. It has regularly triggered
inflationary tremors in the economy.
The sharp increase in the selling price of wheat is one such example. The
price of bread will have to go up unless President Mugabe's government can
pull out another trick from its bag of voodoo economics. We expect increases
in the selling price of maize as well. Currently, the GMB is buying maize
from farmers at $2 million a tonne and selling to millers at $600 000.
These aberrations can be tolerated if the state can afford to pay a subsidy.
Our government cannot pay that subsidy because it is broke. In fact, there
should be a proper and predictable policy regarding agricultural subsidies.
Subsidies are meant to protect a vulnerable segment of the society. Thus we
have all along been told that government was protecting the poor among us by
subsidising maize and wheat.
Industrialists who raised prices in response to inflation were branded by
government as saboteurs keen to effect regime change. The same government
purporting to champion the cause of the poor wakes up one morning to effect
shocking price rises on basic foodstuffs. This shows that past price
controls were not meant to cushion the poor. This was cheap populism to give
consumers temporary relief during election campaigns.
When "subsidies" are withdrawn without planning, it is bad for the economy.
The result of such action is inflationary and defeats all efforts to achieve
a rate of 80% in the New Year.
Central bank governor Gideon Gono who has been commanding the war on
inflation has suffered another major setback from political leaders who
should otherwise be helping him in this fight. This is a battle lost as the
price of bread should soon jump to well over a $100 000 a loaf from the
current $35 000.
There are bound to be more increases especially after Finance minister
Herbert Murerwa last week implored state enterprises to charge economic
prices for goods and services. Fuel and telephone charges have already gone
up while electricity and other services are expected to follow suit.
Transport is already unaffordable to a majority of the Zimbabwean
population. There will be very few traditional family reunions this
Christmas, what with the crippling fuel shortages taking their toll on
private transport. The government-appointed Harare Commission on Tuesday
announced a $32 trillion budget which should see rates and charges going up
at least three times.
Is this what Mugabe had in mind when he talked of expanding the economy and
stabilising prices? People expect government policies to show some
uniformity and consistency, not uncoordinated hands-behind-the-back tricks.