Thursday, 09 December 2010 20:01
PRIME Minister Morgan Tsvangirai has called for a “global campaign” to
ensure free and fair elections in Zimbabwe, warning the current transitional
arrangement has largely failed due to internecine conflict within the
unstable inclusive government.
Tsvangirai’s remarks at the high-profile European Development Days
conference in Brussels on Monday have put Zimbabwe under the international
spotlight again as the country prepares for fresh elections after a series
of disputed polls since 2000.
The conference was attended by 15 738 participants, 5 309 civil society
organisations, 927 media groups, 382 stakeholders, 44 ministers, 24 heads of
state, 12 prime ministers and six Nobel Laureates.
Tsvangirai said Zimbabwe needs free and fair elections to resolve the
current political stalemate.
“It is against this background that South African President Jacob Zuma is
leading a regional effort to stabilise the political tension in Zimbabwe and
making sure we craft a roadmap to a free and fair election; an election
where the people’s will is respected and where the result is not
contestable,” he said. “There must be a global campaign to support a
peaceful election in Zimbabwe.”
Previous disputed elections created a decade-long political stalemate in
Zimbabwe, which devastated the economy at the height of hyperinflation in
2008 and left the country on the verge of collapse.
President Robert Mugabe, who lost the first round of the 2008 presidential
election before resorting to violence and intimidation to recover from
defeat, says he wants the elections by June next year, but faces fierce
opposition from Zanu PF officials and other parties which want conditions
for genuine and credible polls created first.
Tsvangirai said Zimbabwe should avoid the 2008 situation and what happened
in Kenya in 2007 and Ivory Coast recently.
Ivorian President Laurent Gbagbo lost the November 28 election to opposition
leader Alassane Ouattara. Although the electoral commission declared
Ouattara the winner, Ivory Coast’s Constitutional Council annulled votes in
the country’s north over claims of irregularities and declared Gbagbo as
winner. The world was outraged and is up in arms against Gbagbo over his the
brazen electoral fraud. Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki also stole an election
in 2007, forcing a GNU arrangement
ment as in Zimbabwe. Mugabe retained power under similar circumstances and
now Gbagbo has done the same, much to the consternation of even hitherto
quiet African leaders. West African and African Union leaders have called
upon Gbagbo to accept defeat and quit.
“The Ivory Coast is an example: Democracy has once again failed because we
choose to ignore the people, even after the people have unequivocally
expressed themselves in an election,” Tsvangirai said.
“The Ivory Coast scenario is likely to produce another coalition government.
We have seen this in Kenya and Zimbabwe. We in Zimbabwe have travelled this
road before, where people’s rights are trampled and democracy subverted for
the sake of forced stability.”
The premier said although the inclusive government has scored some
successes, it had largely failed due to “residual dictatorship”.
“We are in a transition where we have made notable progress. But the
transitional arrangement has also failed to work because of tension,” he
“GPA disagreements, unilateralism and residual dictatorship have impacted
negatively on our great opportunity to usher in democratic reforms and to
respect human rights. Despotic attitudes and practices by our colleagues in
the inclusive government continue to negatively affect people’s lives and
the vision for a new, democratic dispensation is under threat.”
Tsvangirai said the world must take note that Zimbabwe was sliding back to
“Those in our inclusive government with a history of repression have begun a
new wave of violence and a crack-down on the free press. There is now
deployment of the army, arrests of journalists and editors of the
independent press, etc,” he said.
“The people of Zimbabwe are once again on the frontline in the war for
freedom. The struggle unfolding in Zimbabwe is one that pits good over evil,
right against wrong and freedom against tyranny. It is a fight that I am
determined to wage and a fight that I, the MDC and the people of Zimbabwe,
Thursday, 09 December 2010 20:06
VICE-President Joice Mujuru and Finance minister Tendai Biti this week
unusually closed political ranks and threatened MPs from Zanu PF and MDC-T
with expulsion from their parties if they blocked the 2011 national budget,
the Zimbabwe Independent can reveal.
The legislators were told bluntly in separate meetings held on Tuesday and
Wednesday that they would be fired if they blocked Biti’s bid to have the
budget passed without amendment. This marked unfamiliar cooperation between
the two main parties in parliament which are usually fighting for control
While Biti held several meetings with chief whips, MDC-T and Zanu PF senior
backbenchers and also addressed his party’s caucus to whip MPs into line,
Mujuru sent a chilling message through former Health minister David
Parirenyatwa just before the debate on the budget started on Wednesday,
ordering her party’s MPs to help pass the budget without any amendment.
Parirenyatwa is a Mujuru loyalist.
Biti used a carrot-and-stick approach when he promised MPs new single-cab
pick- up vehicles in the New Year if they passed the budget, which, combined
with threats of expulsion, helped to ensure the budget sailed through the
House of Assembly on Wednesday without any debate.
Biti had lobbied hard for the budget to go through. The Finance minister
held marathon meetings with chief whips and senior Zanu PF and MDC-T
legislators on Tuesday evening and Wednesday morning. He issued threats of
dismissal but also promised MPs new cars, while saying he would in addition
write off their car loans. Most MPs have got two cars, one of which they are
making loan repayments on.
Zanu PF chief whip Joram Gumbo and Budget and Finance portfolio committee
chairperson Paddy Zhanda confirmed that they were threatened with expulsion
and also promised new vehicles.
Gumbo said the meetings produced nothing except promises. “We held two
meetings with the minister.
He did not give in to our demands to review allocations to agriculture,
welfare of MPs, constituency development fund or the taxation of imported
foodstuffs as a means to promote the local industry. He merely promised to
provide new single cab pick-up vehicles to MPs in the coming year and to
consider writing off car loans,” Gumbo said.
Zhanda expressed disappointment with the outcome of the meetings,
particularly the threats implied by the minister against those who wanted to
“We failed the nation. The minister did not take our input into
consideration. We were reminded that tampering with the budget was akin to
challenging the whole question of the establishment of the inclusive
government,” Zhanda said.
In addition to the two meetings, MDC-T MPs had a party caucus during which
they were told to either pass the budget or resign.
Deputy Prime Minister Thokozani Khupe and national party youth chairperson
Thamsanqa Mahlangu attended the caucus meeting that was addressed by Biti.
MDC-T chief whip Innocent Gonese refused to comment on what transpired in
their party caucus, saying it was confidential.
Sources within MDC-T, however, revealed that MPs were whipped into line
through threats of expulsion.
“We were bluntly told to vote for the budget or resign. To carry the threat
forward there was a register of all members who were in the House to check
which way they would vote if the House was divided,” the source said.
A Zanu PF source said his party’s MPs had been told just before debate
started on Wednesday that Mujuru had instructed them to pass the budget
“In a twist to the earlier agreed party position not to pass Votes 22 and
23, Parirenyatwa was sent by Mujuru to tell members to pass everything
without debate. We were all shocked,” said the source.
Vote 22 is an allocation to the Ministry of Media, Information and Publicity
while Vote 23 was for Small and Medium Enterprises and cooperative
The ministries were allocated $5,6 million each.
Mwenezi East MP Kudakwashe Bhasikiti (Zanu PF) who moved a motion proposing
that steps be taken to improve conditions of service for civil servants, was
shocked together with other parliamentarians that the budget was being
passed without any objections.
“In politics nothing is certain — it happens. We got it all wrong,”
Parliamentarians from the three parties last week in an interview with the
Zimbabwe Independent called for the suspension of the whipping system during
the budget debate to ensure that debate is not stifled.
Zhanda, Bhasikiti and Ronald Ndava from Zanu PF and Shepherd Mushonga and
Takalani Matibe from MDC-T were opposed to the whipping system, while Dorcas
Sibanda (MDC-T) argued that the system could not just be wished away as it
served certain purposes in governance.
Budget passing timeline behind the scenes:
At 2pm Mujuru instructs Zanu PF MPs to block Votes 22 and 23 of the budget.
The message was sent through Deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara and
Gumbo. At 7pm Biti meets chief whips and senior backbenchers. Shoots down
demands from MPs. Promises to write off car loans and offers new single-cab
trucks next year. By 9pm Biti confirms to Zimbabwe Independent that the
budget would pass after negotiations behind the scenes.
At 10am MDC-T caucus MPs whipped into line after being given a choice to
“vote or resign”. Around 12 pm Gumbo, Zhanda and other MPs meet Biti at his
offices to gain some concessions but got nothing.
At 2pm Mujuru through Parirenyatwa orders Zanu PF MPs to pass the budget
without any amendment. 3pm Biti tells the House that voting against the
budget is an attack on the GPA and the inclusive government. 4pm budget
passes without debate or amendment. 5pm MPs cry foul over whipping system.
Thursday, 09 December 2010 21:28
GOVERNMENT and private-sector workers could next week face delays in
accessing monthly salaries and annual bonuses after commercial banking
employees threatened to embark on strike following a deadlock on
remuneration negotiations, a workers union has warned.
Peter Mutasa, Zimbabwe Banks and Allied Union (Zibawu) president, a union
representing 5 000 members, said bank workers will next week embark on
industrial action over a failure by employer organisations to award a 115%
salary rise backdated to July this year.
Zibawu said a stalemate was reached when the employers offered a 5%
increment for the lowest paid non-clerical worker currently earning US$273
monthly. The threat comes barely four months after another looming strike
was averted when Zibawu concerted to an annual bonus instead of a salary
hike. The workers and employers during the last minute breakthrough also
agreed to engage in once-a-year salary bargaining negotiations, marking a
shift from the traditional quarterly salary reviews.
“Zimbabwe Banks and Allied Workers Union hereby advises all customers of
commercial banks operating in Zimbabwe that its members will embark on
collective job action anytime next week,” said Mutasa in a statement.
“This has been necessitated by Bankers Association of Zimbabwe (Baz) and
Bank Employers Association of Zimbabwe’s unwillingness to meaningfully
address welfare issues, especially salary review for the period July 2010 to
Mutasa said the union had planned to carry out the job action in phases to
mitigate “great inconvenience” to the public.
Apart from the banking public, the industrial action will impact heavily on
the corporate sector currently contributing the bulk of an average US$5
million that is transacted through the banking system daily.
Mutasa said eight banks, Standard Chartered, Stanbic, CBZ, NMB, Kingdom,
Barclays, IDBZ and POSB, would be “affected the most during the first phase
of the job action”.
He accused bank executives of unfairness saying they were receiving handsome
salaries and perks above US$15 000 monthly while shop-floor workers were
“surviving on leftovers”.
Baz president John Mushayavanhu and his deputy George Guvamatanga could not
be reached for comment as their mobile phones continued to ring unanswered.
Mushayavanhu was in August quoted by the Zimbabwe Independent saying banks
would not give in to unsustainable salary demands when workers demanded an
80% salary increment.
“You find state-of-the-art vehicles even in struggling banks like Agribank
when our members are earning salaries beyond the poverty datum line of
US$498,” Mutasa fumed. “Even struggling banks like Genesis have paid in full
school fees for executives’ children for the entire 2011 calendar.”
Bank employers, Zibawu said, should “evenly distribute the cake” as bank
deposits grow and profitability improves. Official figures show that bank
deposits in October grew to US$2,3 billion from US$1,8 billion in June as
confidence steadily improved in the sector which lost a savings culture
after years of hyperinflation and arbitrary actions on foreign currency
accounts by the central bank.
Zibawu last embarked on a job action in 2008 when bank employees went on a
go-slow citing an unbearable cost of living triggered by the then
unprecedented economic meltdown.
Bernard Mpofu/Berven Chatendeuka
Thursday, 09 December 2010 21:26
A ZANU PF official in February confided to United States Ambassador Charles
Ray that the party was badly fractured, only holding together because of the
threat from the opposition, a confidential report released by WikiLeaks on
Wednesday has shown.
Nine cables from the US Embassy in Harare sent between 2000 and 2010 were
leaked by Wikileaks on Wednesday. They cover the state of Zanu PF, progress
in implementing the Global Political Agreement (GPA), MDC-T’s proposal for a
transitional authority in 2000, the looting of diamonds, involvement of the
army in Marange and the displacement of the villagers from that area.
In a cable sent in February this year, a Zanu PF member, who was only
identified as Mudarikwa, told Ray that the party was like a “stick of TNT”
(a high explosive), “susceptible to ignition and disintegration”.
“He likened Zanu PF to a troop of baboons incessantly fighting among
themselves but coming together to face external threat,” read Ray’s cable.
“New leadership was essential and would emerge as some of the old timers
including (President) Robert Mugabe left the scene,” Mudarikwa further said
there were potential leaders in Zanu PF’s presidium that could take over
“Mudarikwa opined that Vice-President Joice Mujuru or SK Moyo (former
ambassador to South Africa and now party chair) were possibilities, although
Mujuru’s fear of Mugabe was affecting her ability to lead,” read the cable.
It could not be established which Mudarikwa this was, as Simba Mudarikwa,
Zanu PF’s MP for Uzumba/Pfungwe, denied ever meeting Ray.
“I have never met the ambassador,” Mudarikwa said. “Actually I do not know
him. However, there are many Mudarikwas who belong to the party (Zanu PF),
some are chairpersons while others hold other posts in the party.”
However, the Uzumba/Pfungwe MP is the only known senior Zanu PF official
with that name.
The cable said Mudarikwa took an opposite view to that of Youth and
Indigenisation minister Saviour Kasukuwere on economic indigenisation,
arguing that the programme would benefit nobody “except those who were
This cable showed the chasm in Zanu PF as the party is building its election
campaign around indigenisation.
These revelations came at a time when other cables released since last week
have shown mixed reactions over Mugabe’s leadership.
Regional counterpart Yoweri Museveni of Uganda said Mugabe snubbed fellow
African leaders saying they were not his age mates.
In a report prepared by the US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Museveni
is quoted as saying Mugabe did not take calls from fellow leaders.
“Museveni thought Zimbabwe’s faltering economy and Mugabe’s poor
understanding of the private sector were at the root of Zimbabwe’s political
problems,” said Rice in the confidential report. “He said a discussion of
the economy would provide an entry point to tell Mugabe that he has failed
and is embarrassing liberation leaders.”
Museveni also confided in the United States Assistant Secretary Jendayi
Frazer in June 2008 when he said he was told by Mugabe that he did not want
election monitors from countries that were “hostile” to Zimbabwe, but would
not mind observers from other countries (to monitor the runoff which was
described as a sham election).
In another cable that was released by the whistleblower website last week,
US political counsellor in London Richard Mills said while Zimbabwe should
and would remain a top priority for the United Kingdom, their history “of
bombastic statements has only served to solidify President Mugabe’s status
as a colonial liberation leader and rallied South Africa’s unwavering
“From a strategic perspective, analysts (from think-tanks in the UK) termed
the US government’s focus on Zimbabwe as surprising because Zimbabwe is not
a threat, but largely a contained crisis,” said Mills in February last year.
“They said that Zimbabwe’s crisis should be treated as a regional issue, not
an international one, and that the US government should not sacrifice its
relations with South Africa, the more strategic partner, over Zimbabwe, even
if the political events in Zimbabwe run contrary to the US government’s
Mills said the think-tanks had recommended that the international community
take a “tough and quiet” approach to Mugabe and Zanu PF, sanctioning and
obstructing their personal freedoms but without commenting publicly.
The think-tanks asserted that the international community’s concern about
Zimbabwe being a regional “destabiliser was largely unfounded, as most of
the Southern Africa Development Community (Sadc) — especially South Africa —
can take care of themselves.”
Another cable showed the extent of looting of diamonds in Chiadzwa in 2007
accusing senior government officials and well connected elites of selling
undocumented precious stones to foreigners who included Belgians, Israelis,
Lebanese, Russians and South Africans.
In a cable from the US embassy in Pretoria, also released Wednesday, showed
that in 2007 exiled businesspeople resident in South Africa made efforts to
have a transitional authority that would have curtailed Mugabe’s executive
powers and allowed the appointment of a technocratic Prime Minister.
“To get Mugabe to accept the deal, Mugabe would remain President until 2010
with some power over the security apparatus, but the Prime Minister would
run the economy and get the country back on its feet,” read the cable from
“All parties would work together to draft a new constitution. X, (the exiled
businessperson whose name was not disclosed in the cable) was open to ideas
on who best to sell the plan, but suggested new UN Secretary-General Ban
Ki-moon, working through an envoy like former Malaysian PM (Mohamad)
Mahathir, as possible mediators.”The US embassy, in the cable said they
could not comment on the merits of the plan, but “find it encouraging that
senior Zimbabwean exiled businessmen are discussing solutions to their
country’s political and economic crisis.”
Ten cables out of 2 998 on Zimbabwe have so far been leaked by Wikileaks, a
website that has more than 250 000 confidential and classified documents
emanating from various US embassies and consulates across the world.
The first cable on Zimbabwe was released on Sunday last week and with the
then US ambassador to Zimbabwe Christopher Dell questioning the ability of
the opposition to unseat Mugabe and at the same time acknowledging that the
president managed to outmanoeuvre opponents by radicalising the political
Thursday, 09 December 2010 21:24
MDC-T has set up a probe team to investigate allegations of irregularities
in the Chitungwiza provincial elections that were won by Zengeza East MP
Alex Musundire against Chitungwiza senator James Makore in July.
At the same time, Musundire is being accused by suspended district
executives of purging individuals he suspected of voting against him, an
allegation which he has since denied.
The probe team led by national executive committee member Blessing Chebundo
started gathering evidence from districts that make up Chitungwiza province
on the elections at Harvest House on Monday.
So far the team has received evidence from three districts — Mhondoro,
Goromonzi and Zengeza West.
Musundire, in an interview with the Zimbabwe Independent on Wednesday, said
he hoped the investigation would absolve him of any wrong doing.
“The party has opened a probe into the provincial election that ushered me
into the province. I cannot comment more on the process as that would be sub
judice,” Musundire said.
He, however, refuted allegations that he was purging perceived political
opponents in Zengeza East constituency, but said the members were suspended
after being accused of committing acts of violence.
“The suspensions of the six members in the constituency were done above
board,” Musundire said. “They are alleged to have committed acts of violence
against other party members at a meeting and the youth chairman suspended
them pending a disciplinary hearing.”
He added that the constitution was silent on who should suspend errant
members, but it is logical for the immediate supervisor to do so and the
youth chair was correct.
“That gap in the constitution can only be solved by the national council,
but in the meanwhile someone has to suspend and that person has to advise
his decision to a disciplinary board to conduct a hearing,” Musundire said.
“It is a surprise that some of the people who accuse me of purging them were
in actual fact in my campaign team. They were on my side how could they say
they were in the opposite camp?”
The purging allegations are contained in a letter that the six wrote to the
national organising secretary Elias Mudzuri challenging their suspension and
the composition of the ad hoc committee that was set up to conduct their
They alleged that Musundire used Jabulani Mtunzi, the district youth
chairman, as his henchman in their suspension on charges of causing
disturbances at a party meeting in September 2010.
The six suspended are Felix Chihoro,Taurai Shenje, Geylord Chenjera, Sarah
Gambe, Taurai Muterere and Simba Pembaton Runesu.
In their defence letter dated October 11 to Mudzuri, the six accused
Musundire of meddling in matter pertaining to the district in an Endeavour
to oust his political opponents from the party.
“The provincial chairman and MP for Zengeza East, Alex Musundire, is the one
who is behind all political disturbances and divisions in Zengeza East. It
is so sad that he is using district youth chairman Mtunzi to make false
charges against us as part of his well calculated plot to have us kicked out
of the party,” read the letter.
They added that Musundire’s actions were also premised on self-preservation
as one of the suspended members was eyeing his seat in the next elections.
“Musundire is also suspecting that we are clandestinely backing the district
youth vice chairman, Taurai Shenje, to take over from him as the party’s
parliamentary candidate in the next harmonised poll,” they said in the
Chitungwiza province has always been volatile and the last provincial
executive was dissolved on charges of abetting and condoning corruption in
Chitungwiza municipality. MDC-T went on to fire all its 23 elected
councillors from the party.
Thursday, 09 December 2010 21:23
MDC-T leader Morgan Tsvangirai has attacked his party’s Matabeleland North
provincial executive for failing to create vibrant structures and dividing
the party through factionalism, which he said could erode the party’s
support base in that province.
Party insiders told the Zimbabwe Independent this week that Tsvangirai
launched a blistering attack on the provincial leadership when he was in
that province last Friday attending a funeral service for the late Hwange
senator Jabulani Ndlovu in Victoria Falls.
The party insiders said Tsvangirai fumed over the election of a provincial
representative, Esau Ncube, to the national executive, which he said was
The premier, the source added, explained that a provincial representative
was supposed to be a senior party official appointed rather than elected.
Ncube is accused by MDC-T hardliners of having links with Local Government
minister Ignatius Chombo.
Sources said Tsvangirai had no kind words for the Sengezo Tshabangu-led
provincial executive, which he blamed for failing to meet the November 30
structures audit deadline.
Matabeleland North was supposed to complete the audit of wards and districts
as well as co-option of members into the provincial executive before the end
of last month, but the local leadership failed to do this, according to
“Tsvangirai was also upset over the absence of security department officials
in the provincial structures. The premier ordered the organising secretary’s
office to look into the Matabeleland North issue urgently,” another source
Stanley Torima, sources said, was the self-proclaimed provincial head of the
security department, but he was one of the MDC-T security officials who were
sacked this year.
Sources said the organising secretary Elias Mudzuri met other party
officials from his department on Wednesday where they discussed the
Matabeleland North problems.
Meanwhile, Tshabangu has come under fire from senior party officials for
allegedly unilaterally appointing members of the provincial executive
without consulting others.
The co-option of Bigboy Mawundira as provincial secretary for economics,
Thembinkosi Sibindi (international relations secretary) and Prince Sibanda
(research and policy making) was not accepted by other provincial executive
members, sources said.
Those opposed to Tshabangu’s appointments were provincial youth secretary
Bhekimpilo Ncube, information and publicity secretary Margs Varlley, and
provincial secretary Gift Mabhena.
Tshabangu was not available for comment on Wednesday as his mobile phone was
Thursday, 09 December 2010 21:13
ZANU PF politburo members have resigned themselves to the fact that free
discussion on President Robert Mugabe’s successor is almost impossible due
to fear of retribution.
Top party officials interviewed by the Zimbabwe Independent this week said
debate on the succession issue will remain taboo until Mugabe opens the
discussion on his successor because if anyone else did, it could be
misconstrued as an attempt to stampede him out of office.
In an interview with the Independent a fortnight ago, party chairman Simon
Khaya Moyo was unwilling to comment on Mugabe’s succession and skirted
around the matter.
In May 2009, the politburo set up a succession committee chaired by
Vice-President John Nkomo to deal with the matter.
The six-member committee, comprised Emmerson Mnangagwa, retired army general
Solomon Mujuru, Oppah Muchinguri, Sydney Sekeramayi and Didymus Mutasa, has
since been dissolved.
Zanu PF spokesperson Rugare Gumbo told the Independent yesterday that: “It
(the succession committee) never took off the ground for various reasons.”
Asked what the reasons were, Gumbo said: “I would rather leave it at that. I
don’t want to say anything further.” Although Mugabe at one time permitted
little debate on the succession, he, at the same time, moved swiftly to
destroy politically anyone who declared a personal ambition to succeed him.
Six provincial chairpersons felt Mugabe’s full wrath after reports of an
alleged coup plot designed to make Mnangagwa president. They were suspended
from the party in 2004.
Politburo member Dzikamai Mavahaire was suspended from the party in 1998 for
calling for Mugabe to go, losing his provincial chairmanship and position in
the central committee. He was only re-admitted after a five-year suspension.
Mavhaire’s closest ally, the late Eddison Zvobgo, was dropped by Mugabe from
government in 2000 for his criticism of his ruling style and for suggesting
A senior politburo this week said no one in Zanu PF would dare raise the
succession issue in front of Mugabe. The politburo member acknowledged that
they created this problem by making Mugabe a very powerful leader when they
gave him titles such as president and first secretary of the party, which he
said were not necessary.
“Unfortunately, the party has not addressed the succession issue but it has
to be someone from the highest level that should address it. But he is not,”
said the politburo member.
“The politburo would have been the right forum but it will depend on how it
will come out. The only thing I can say is that we inherited an unfortunate
system or legacy, which we have become used to and cannot undo.”
He added that: “Even having to create the post of president and first
secretary of the party was not necessary but it was done and it became
ingrained in the party — so you can’t all of a sudden undo these things. It
is a big challenge to all of us and we have to find mechanisms of undoing
While another party top official pointed out that no one in the party’s
politburo, even those that are perceived to be very powerful or “darlings”
of the president, would not dare raise that issue.
“The thing is that chef (Mugabe) might have his weaknesses, one of which is
his old age, but he still has his brains – he is still very sharp. So the
problem is that we don’t have shining and outstanding individuals who can
match the president’s intellect and be able to debate one on one with him,”
said the politburo member.
“In that case, who is going to raise the issue? How is that person going to
phrase the question and be able to argue his or her way around it with the
president, considering the downfall of other people who have raised it? All
I can tell you is that no one is willing to face Mugabe’s wrath.”
Another politburo member said there were too many people with “dirty” hands,
who could not afford a fallout with Mugabe.
“Some of my colleagues want to accumulate wealth and they are now some of
the richest people in the country, but you ask yourself how they accumulated
so much wealth and where all the money came from?” said the top official.
“We may not be dealing with the succession issue because too many people
have dirty hands and would not want to make the president angry by asking
him when he is going to step down.”
The last time Mugabe indicated that he would step down was in April 2005 in
an interview with Indonesia’s Jakarta Post when he had three years before
his term expired in 2008. He was quoted then saying: “I have said it before
that when my term ends I will retire. I still have to do three years…but it
is my intention to retire.”
Mugabe added that: “I will never groom a successor. We will never do that.
We will never make that mistake.”
However, since then he contested the 2008 March election and June
presidential run-off poll. Mugabe has also indicated that he would be Zanu
PF’s candidate in the next elections, which he wants mid-next year. All the
party provinces have endorsed him as their presidential candidate for the
Mugabe has been stifling open debate on the succession issue and his
argument is that it is up to the people and that he would only step down if
and when his supporters decide so.
Thursday, 09 December 2010 21:12
STUDENT activism is slowly dying in Zimbabwe at a time when tertiary
institutions are facing serious problems to do with high tuition fees,
educational funding, college accommodation and a mass exodus of seasoned
At the country’s leading university, the University of Zimbabwe (UZ),
student activism has become an old shell of itself with no identified
students’ representative council since 2007.
This is in great contrast to its heyday when it produced activists like
Munyaradzi Gwisai, Arthur Mutambara, Brian Kagoro and the late Learnmore
There was also an earlier generation of student activists, among them Mike
Holman, Judith Todd, Titus Mapuranga, Iden Wetherell and Ibbo Mandaza.
Student activism has in the past made an important contribution to the
struggle for democracy in the country. These students were the ones that
revolutionalised activism when corruption started creeping into government
and human rights abuses were first registered.
Students became the “voice of the voiceless”. They demonstrated against
corruption at Willowvale involving senior government officials, protested
against Zanu PF’s proposal to establish a one party state and strongly
opposed the introduction of Western-backed economic structural adjustment
At the turn of the century, student activists, in partnership with the
National Constitutional Assembly and the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions,
successfully campaigned against the government-led Godfrey Chidyausiku draft
constitution in 2000.
Now fast forward to 2010, the college does not have a students’ union yet
higher education today faces more challenges than in the late 1980s and
early 1990s. The halls of residence have been shut, students eat from
informal roadside caterers and students’ vocational loans are not available.
It emerged early this year that 28% of students had dropped out of the UZ.
Students have been struggling to raise fees of between US$300 and US$1 500
in a country where civil servants earn less than US$300 per month and
unemployment is pegged at 90%.
Exacerbating an already dire situation, according to the Medium Term Plan,
as of May last year, the University of Zimbabwe had an establishment of 1
171 but only 385 posts were occupied leaving 786 vacancies, while National
University of Science and Technology had a staff complement of 232 against
493 required. Bindura, Lupane, Great Zimbabwe and Midlands State University
and Harare Institute of Technology had a combined shortfall of 615
Student activist, Chamunorwa Madiridze, a third year student, laid the blame
squarely on the current UZ administration headed by Levy Nyagura that has
since 2007 deliberately blocked students from organising elections to select
a students’ representative council citing lack of funds.
“We have been denied our right to have a democratically elected
representative of the students sit in the UZ council. The last election was
held in 2007 when (Lovemore) Chinoputsa was elected president and since then
the administration has frustrated every move the students have made to elect
their representatives,” Madiridze said.
He added that a number of students have been suspended by the Nyagura-led
administration for trying to organise the long overdue elections as
stipulated in the University of Zimbabwe Amendment Act.
“Tinashe Chisaire was suspended last month (November 2010) for organising an
aborted election after the administration interfered. Personally, two weeks
ago I was taken away from a lecture by police and other security agents for
organising elections which we hoped to hold this December,” he added.
Madiridze and a few other student activists have approached ZCTU and
Zimbabwe Election Support Network (Zesn) for financial and logistical
support to organise elections but the UZ administration still blocks the
Former student activist and Media Centre director Earnest Mudzengi said
student activism was “killed” by the UZ Amendment Act of 1990 and successive
repression by the state machinery on student activities.
“The root cause of all this is Zanu PF’s dictatorship and the curtailment of
freedom,” Mudzengi said. “UZ Amendment of 1990 made sure that student
activism was taken to the graveyard. Students were disempowered economically
so that they would cease to care about national issues but concentrate on
their well being only. Beggars do not become activists.”
The UZ Amendment Act declares the vice-chancellor as the administrative and
disciplinary officer of the university with powers among other things to
dissolve or suspend, indefinitely or for such a period as he may specify,
any activity or function of the students’ union or any of its committees or
Mudzengi added that: “Minister Tendai Biti’s proposal to reintroduce student
loans is set to re-energise the students and once more make them the voice
of the voiceless.”
Another former students’ leader and now MDC99 Information director Gibson
Nyambayo said student activism was also weakened by the emergence of the MDC
“Student activism used to be a signal agitation for democracy and justice,”
Nyambayo said. “Most of the time, it was a fight against (President Robert)
Mugabe. Birth and success of the MDC killed student activism as student
leaders were seen as MDC apologists. Neutral students failed to join in
student activism thus killing activism at colleges,”.
To compound the student woes, the Zimbabwe National Students Union (Zinasu)
has been blighted by power struggles in the recent past over political
affiliation. The students have been split along political lines especially
between the two biggest parties MDC-T and Zanu PF.
Maybe, it is now time that students start fighting for their own issues and
find a voice once more.
Thursday, 09 December 2010 21:08
THE international donor community has refused to supplement salaries of
teachers because this does not fall under their humanitarian ambit, a
cabinet minister said this week.
Education, Sport, Arts and Culture minister David Coltart said this at the
Zimbabwe Independent-run Independent Dialogue in Bulawayo on Wednesday whose
theme was “The State of Education in Zimbabwe”.
“There is a limit to what I could do to address their (teachers’) legitimate
concerns regarding conditions of service,” Coltart said. “One of the first
things that I did after my appointment was to approach the international
community to try and raise money to supplement their income, but
unfortunately that was unsuccessful.”
The international community said payment of teachers did not fit under the
scope of a humanitarian crisis and to that extent they could not justify
expenditure to teachers in the same way as they did to nurses and doctors.
“They were not prepared to incur recurrent expenditure costs unlike one-off
payments towards textbooks. They said they are not prepared to pour money
into a bottomless pit of salaries,” he said.
However, Coltart said though conditions of service were still far from being
satisfactory, he was pleased that this year has been “the best teaching year
in a decade in terms of days of learning as there was minimum disruption
through industrial action”.
Only 27 days of learning were recorded in 2008, Coltart said.
On infrastructure, Coltart said virtually all schools had become dangerous
learning centres due to a decade of neglect.
He said several billions of dollars were required to rehabilitate close to 8
000 schools, but such funds were not available.
The education sector is still in a state of crisis “and a mammoth task lies
ahead before we stabilise issues and that all children in Zimbabwe can
expect quality education”.
However, participants at the dialogue, mostly from teacher organisations,
expressed concern at the safety of teachers during the run-up to possible
elections next year.
They asked Coltart what measures the ministry would put in place to ensure
Coltart said the ban on the usage of learning facilities for rallies would
“Last year, I issued a policy directive stating that schools were not to be
used for partisan political activity… I am in the process of revising
legislation, to have legal measures to re-enforce that policy directive,” he
“Schools should only be used as education institutions and not to be used
for partisan political activity. Yes, I will enforce the ban on the usage of
schools for rallies by political parties in the run up to future elections.”
He said in instances where teachers have fallen victim to political violence
he has acted swiftly to protect them.
Coltart cited a group of teachers in Chiweshe and Rushinga who were tortured
during the 2008 presidential election, but were intimidated upon their
return after the elections.
He said he had to move them out of the hostile environment.
However, Coltart said as minister “it is difficult for me to prevent these
incidents from taking place as they happen beyond the realm of the education
However, one of the panellists, Lawton Hikwa, the Dean of Faculty for
Information and Communication Sciences at the National University of Science
and Technology, said Coltart had a tall order in achieving a total ban due
to historical reasons.
“Schools tend to be the most common available utilities used by rural
communities for worship, for traditional meetings and also because of our
long history of one political party rule which became part of the regime of
things to view schools as facilities that could be used for political
gatherings,” he said.
Hikwa questioned the “much celebrated high literacy levels in Zimbabwe” and
challenged politicians to explain how the country was managing to attain the
According to the latest United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Digest
released in July, Zimbabwe has overtaken Tunisia to become the country with
the highest literacy rate in Africa, jumping from 85% to 92%.
“Zimbabwe has been topical in celebrating its literacy rate and what I don’t
hear from politicians is how we justify the high levels. Are we talking of
literacy rate as ability to read and write?” he asked.
In response, Coltart said UNDP findings were “deceiving”.
“A few months ago, UNDP released figures that showed that Zimbabwe had the
highest literacy rates in Africa.
But I found it hard to reconcile that information against data coming
through our own education sector,” the minister said. “UNDP seems to have
reached their conclusion on attendance figures for the first four years of
education and it seems Zimbabwe does have the high attendance levels in
Africa. However, attendance figures do not translate to high literacy
levels...We need to question this basis.”
Coltart said most schools did not have adequate test books and “we are
deceiving ourselves if we rely on United Nations figures”.
Thursday, 09 December 2010 20:57
FROM the ominous all-stakeholders conference characterised by violence last
year, the constitution-making process, which has stalled, was predestined to
travel a rugged and narrow road.
After the violence at the all-stakeholders’ conference in July last year,
many observers had a premonition that the road to a new constitution was
never going to be easy and this is slowly becoming a reality as problems
continue to rock the process.
To many, the issue of political polarisation was going to be a major problem
and this was understandable because the parties were spearheading the
However, at that time, it was the political contestation between Zanu PF and
MDC-T mainly that threatened to derail the process, but 18 months later,
other issues have cropped up.
As the Parliamentary Select Committee on the Constitution (Copac) takes
stock after the outreach programme, there is a realisation that
administrative and financial problems now saddle them at a time when they
have to do a massive public relations exercise to exorcise the ghost of
violence that was witnessed.
Copac has to quicken its steps if it is to meet the deadlines and timelines
set under the Global Political Agreement (GPA) in September 2008. However,
27 months later, reality has dawned for those driving the programme and
after pouring around US$17 million into the constitution-making process,
there is still a US$6 million deficit as participants involved in the
outreach are yet to be paid and hotel bills are still to be settled.
At least US$6 million is needed for data analysis leading to the drafting of
the constitution which, together with a report would be presented to
parliament. The draft would then be approved or rejected by a referendum,
for which government allocated US$1 million.
The failure to adequately finance the constitution-making programme has
stalled the process which was already running behind schedule. Analyst said
the stasis was likely to have an impact on the final document.
It came at a time when it was announced that the country would hold
elections by mid next year, further derailing the already staggering
Zanu PF appears to have used the outreach as a political dip-stick to
measure the depth of their support and what their chances were in the event
of an early election, even without a new constitution. Since then the call
for polls have been growing louder as the party prepares for its annual
An analyst, Sabelo Ndlovu-Gatsheni, a professor at the University of South
Africa, said the genesis of the problems the constitution-making process
faced could be traced back to the first all-stakeholders’ conference.
“The constitution-making process has been hit through and through by bad
political weather of Zanu PF and MDC feuding and manoeuvrings,” said
Gatsheni-Ndlovu. “This was clear during the inaugural meetings where Zanu
PF-rented groups disrupted the process from its birth.”
Gatsheni-Ndlovu said Zanu PF supporters interpreted the constitution- making
process as a “regime change” project while MDC members took it as a
continuation of their agenda to fight from within.
“My take therefore is that the otherwise noble constitution-making process
became a political ball played by political gladiators with the aim of
scoring political points rather than making sure the people of Zimbabwe
participated freely to produce a credible national document,” said
Tapera Kapuya, another analyst and political activist, said political
parties seemed convinced that a new constitution, “no matter how bad the
process that gives rise to it or how bad its contents”, was a critical
precursor for a general election.
“As such, constitution-making is viewed not as a fundamental national issue
but only as an enabler for electoral contest and ultimately political
power,” said Kapuya. “This view limits possibilities for a national
consensus on objective constitution-making that would give Zimbabweans a
real opportunity to input in the writing of their country’s supreme law. The
only way left for a genuine people-driven constitution to be realised in
Zimbabwe is through rejecting the document of convenience that will be
brought to referendum next year.”
Another analyst, Trevor Maisiri, who is the director of the African
Leadership Reform Institute, acknowledged that the current problems would
impact negatively on the final document.
“The failure to get enough finance may have an impact on the final
document,” said Maisiri. “We still have a number of processes to be
finalised and these may need financing.”
Gatsheni-Ndlovu said he was convinced that the country was destined to have
a deeply flawed end product called a constitution.
The constitution, Gatsheni-Ndlovu said, would reflect its problematic birth
and chequered history mediated by political tutorials that are prisoner to
either regime change agenda or regime security agenda.
Maisiri said he would go for a radical approach as there was no way the
current constitution-making process would be saved.
“The whole constitution-making process would be addressed after free and
fair elections as the current process is burdened by the way we started and
what we are doing,” Maisiri said.
Thursday, 09 December 2010 20:51
SADDLED with an external debt of US$6,9 billion, Zimbabwe’s credit-risk
profile has scared away potential local and multilateral financiers from
supporting the nation’s negative balance-of-payments position.
In addition, prospective donor support to the fiscus has thinned whilst
indigenous means to finance the budget remain hamstrung by a host of
As GDP growth is not export-oriented but driven by domestic demand, the
impact of the rising debt stock needs to be seen, more appropriately,
against the background of the widening current account deficit.
Politicians seem to worry more about their money piling up as opposed to
finding a viable lasting solution to service the debt to avoid future high
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) sees Zimbabwe’s domestic and foreign
debt increasing by US$1 billion to US$8,6 billion by year-end.
The debt will be almost thrice the GDP estimated at US$3,5 billion.
With a US$6,9 billion debt and an estimated population of 14 million, it
means every Zimbabwean would owe local and foreign creditors US$492, a
figure that is almost the same as the November Consumer Council of Zimbabwe’s
family basket of six which is US$498.
Economic analyst Eric Bloch told businessdigest on Tuesday that the
magnitude of Zimbabwe’s foreign and domestic debt (US $6,9 billion and
rising) impacts negatively on the economy.
Bloch said the debt was a major deterrent to Foreign Direct Investment
(FDI), critically required for a meaningful economic upturn.
“Similarly, foreign supplier lines of credit to Zimbabwean commerce and
industry are minimally forthcoming because of Zimbabwe’s low credit rating,”
Bloch said the rising debt was constraining government’s access to funding
for rehabilitation and enhancement of infrastructure, energy generation,
rail and air services, telecommunications and water supply to the prejudice
of all economic sectors and the populace.
Historic examples of countries whose economic performance was adversely
affected by the magnitude of their national debt include Germany between
1922 and 1924, Hungary (1946), Israel (1977), Bolivia (1981) and Argentina
between 1983 and 1984.
Recent and current examples are Greece, Ireland and Portugal.
“Government can only control and contain the debt by minimal recourse to
further borrowings through pursuit of policies that stipulate that
expenditures should not exceed revenues,” Bloch said. “Seeking international
relief under the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) policies of
progressive debt forgiveness,” he said.
However, economic consultant and analysts Sonny Mabheju told businessdigest
on Wednesday that public debt can be a useful source of funding for
financing economic and social development in a country.
“Governments have often resorted to borrowing to finance budget deficits and
large infrastructure projects. It has also been used to balance external
accounts and as an instrument for monetary and fiscal policy. However, it
has also been increasingly seen as a threat to economic stability where it
is badly managed leading to overburdening the economy, companies and
individuals,” he said.
Mabheju said Zimbabwe’s debt can be contained by monitoring of government
expenditure against the country’s gross domestic product (GDP).
“Public disclosure of total debt by government can be an effective way of
containing debt. If appropriate and adequate disclosure is made timeously,
governments will be made to justify the levels of debt before it is incurred
or reduce levels of future debt given the levels of current debt disclosed
and its effects on the economy,” he said.
Mabheju said it was important for governments to adequately and timeously
disclose the impact of current and projected borrowings using well explained
(to the understanding of the ordinary man) indicators like, interest bite,
the expenditure ratio, the tax bite, debt to GDP, budget-to-actual score
card, comparing forecast deficit and debt levels with actual results.
The Zimbabwe Coalition on Debt and Development (Zimcodd) said it was
actively lobbying for a debt audit in order to ensure that the country only
owned up to legitimate debt.
Debt experts categorise debts into two: legitimate debts and odious debts.
Legitimate debts were classified as debts incurred by legitimate debtors and
creditors, while odious debts were those that were incurred other than for
the needs of the state.
Economist Brains Muchemwa said high government debt levels continued to
constrain its ability and indeed private sector to secure or guarantee
cross-border lines of credit as the country risk elements remain high.
“It becomes imperative therefore for Zimbabwe to coin workable domestic
strategies that harness the few available financial resources to benefit the
economy under liquidity challenges,” he said.
Muchemwa said government has to shore up its revenue to manage the
spiralling debt, and higher taxes should be levied on key minerals such as
diamonds and platinum that are exhibiting “excessive surplus profits.”
“There is no reason whatsoever for the inclusive-government to be apologetic
on that aspect. Equally, engaging creditors for debt forgiveness should be a
priority,” said Muchemwa.
Presenting the 2011 national budget, Finance minister Tendai Biti confirmed
the full extent of Zimbabwe’s indebtedness and the effect of capitalisation
of interest due to arrears accumulation, which were yet to be quantified.
He hinted government has already initiated a debt validation and
reconciliation programme to ascertain the full extent of its external
Economist Farayi Dyirakumunda, who is the executive director at African
Investment Markets, said credit finance in Zimbabwe was not a new concept,
since credit has been availed to consumers by the various financial
“When kept within reasonable levels, debt is an effective way of enhancing
spending capacity and stimulating demand to the benefit of the economy,” he
“What is imperative in allowing consumers to enjoy the extra spending dollar
within reasonable levels is a first class credit risk management system that
will reward good credit from bad credit standing. This is gradually taking
shape in the economy and as liquidity improves more favourable rates and
tenure will be available to the borrower,” Dyirakumunda said.
Thursday, 09 December 2010 20:42
THE Ministry of Finance presented the 2011 budget which, like any ordinary
budget presentation, was digested with mixed feelings. Some quarters
criticised it on the grounds that the IMF and World Bank had much influence
over its contents.
It was not surprising to note that with debt levels still at 103% of GDP
there was an inadequate conservative US$2,7 billion against the ballooning
balance-of-payments deficit while capacity utilisation in various economic
sectors struggle to surpass 50%.
The scenario looks complicated and a daunting puzzle for the national
treasury given that there is need of substantial external financial support
at the same time as the country’s capacity to settle its debt burden is
crippled because of the unforgivable sovereign risk. Last week, government
was reportedly negotiating with regional financiers to raise about US$150
million for the next fiscal year to complement its option of a cash budget.
There has been an increase recently in the positive relationship between
gradual improvement in capacity utilisation and the supply of long term
Despite the notable growth in bank deposits from US$2,1 billion to US$2,3
billion, the market remains short of critical long term liquidity to grease
the wheels of the economy.
At this level of deposits, banks have been accused of failing to support the
economy through extending credit, even though the loans to deposit ratio
increased from 52,45% to 64,4%. Bank deposits have been largely demand or
short-term deposits for quite a long time and this means that banks cannot
adequately meet the current 180-360 day financing requirements.
This again has resulted in the high cost of funds available for working
capital, which is already above 20%. Consequently, the effect has been an
increased cost of production resulting in locally produced products being
less competitive against imports. There is a currently tabled proposal for a
Statutory Instrument to compel banks to publish deposit and lending rates,
in a bid to regularise lending; but this alone does not imply that money for
long term projects would become much more readily available.
While the aforementioned liquidity situation is painful to needy sectors,
local banks still have an important role to play in helping improve capacity
utilisation. Recently, banks have shown commitment in trying to mobilise
long term finance for the economy. F
or example, the current work in progress of a US$70 million diaspora bond by
CBZ and Afreximbank, to mobilise funding, is a good leap in the effort to
raise long term funds for the economy. Furthermore, Agribank and ZB Bank
also launched US$10 million and US$30 million 360-day bills, respectively,
aimed at financing the agricultural sector mainly tobacco and livestock
The major impediment to such noble initiatives is the loss of confidence, a
lender of last resort limitation (currently at US$7 million) and Zimbabwe’s
prolonged fall in the doing business indices which continue to cloud
development prospects. This might be a reason why reception of these
products remains significantly very low resulting in a stagnant secondary
market with loan products limited to bankers’ acceptances.
In an effort to complement local banks’ efforts, the current increase in the
participation of regional banks like PTA Bank, Afreximbank, Industrial
Development Corporation and Development Bank of South Africa (DBSA) has
helped to improve capacity utilisation in various sectors. Long term finance
at a lower cost is essential to ensure growth.
However, the agriculture sector has largely been on the receiving end of
this multilateral assistance for instance through the recent approval of a
$14.6 million corporate loan by DBSA to support the Cotton Company of
While the formation of Zimbabwe Economy and Trade Revival Facility is a good
initiative, the government needs to strengthen its partnership and improve
cooperation with these regional financial institutions.
These financing initiatives also need to be coordinated and extended to
other sectors like manufacturing and mining to even the growth trajectory.
The energy sector needs to be a prioritised recipient as growth in this
sector can then be transmitted to other various sectors of the economy.
The country continuously mourns “mattress or pillow” banking and lack of the
financial sector’s support but there is no evidence of a significant change
in the immediate future. Hence, negotiating for long term finance is the
sole panacea to realise the forecast growth of 9,3% in 2011.
The government does not need to be the ultimate recipient of the finance as
local banks are capable of appraising the eligible sectors with the ability
to repay the loans.
Many local companies are not willing to exchange equity for the required
liquidity and the capital requirements to satisfy the current regulations
concerning local ownership are as yet unclear. At the same time, their
operations are in need of funding.
Lack of fiscal space continues to be a constraint unless the government
reengages multilateral financial institutions to partner with local banks to
avail seed capital to the ailing corporate entities.
It is imperative to acknowledge that an internally financed budget is not a
panacea to solve this problem as this just compels the country to continue
riding on the current unhealthy dependency on Vat which is the highest in
Southern Africa at 39,5%.
Without long term finance which can ensure optimal performance across
various sectors, the projection of a budget surplus in 2011 is likely to be
over-optimistic and corporate balance sheets and income statements will
continue with their current bleeding.
Thursday, 09 December 2010 20:40
A PARLIAMENTARY committee on Budget, Finance and Economic Development has
taken Reserve Bank chief Gideon Gono to task over the bank’s decision to
award a million dollar tender to a senior official of the central bank
during its farm mechanisation exercise.
Committee chairperson and Goromonzi North MP Paddy Zhanda on Monday asked
the central bank chief why the bank entered into a contract with Farmtec, a
company purportedly co-owned by former central bank senior official Elias
The Reserve Bank four years ago embarked on a farm mechanisation exercise
aimed at retooling black farmers that benefited from the land reform
exercise at the turn of the millennium.
The equipment restocking exercise was part of the central bank’s
quasi-fiscal operations which critics blamed for accelerating economic
decline during the past decade.
The central bank, however, maintains that the exercise was a
“sanctions-busting” strategy to sustain government after Western governments
isolated President Robert Mugabe’s administration for alleged gross human
Zhanda asked Gono whether the apex bank had been thorough in observing
tender procedures. MDC-T legislators Webber Chinyadza and Willas Madzimure
also took turns to grill the central bank boss.
“Farmtec is purported to be owned by one of your former employees, so one
will be curious to know, did that employee declare his interest in
participating in the tender that was floated by the Reserve Bank,” Zhanda
said. “I think the owner in particular must have been Musakwa. The details
that we have are that he was actually involved in the farm mechanisation
programme and could have been part of Farmec.”
Gono in his response said the bank, with the approval of the Ministry of
Agriculture and Farm Mechanisation, scrutinised the tenderers. He further
revealed that Farmtec is linked to a late government official believed to be
former Zanu PF secretary of the commissariat and former minister without
portfolio Elliot Manyika.
“To the best of my knowledge, the employee concerned whoever he is or she
is, I’m not aware of that,” Gono said. “But I’m aware of a late senior
member of government who was a part shareholder of that. I’m not privy to
the details of the other owners. But I will be interested to.”
In September our sister newspaper, The Standard, cited a central bank
correspondence which confirmed that in 2008, Manyika, through Farmtec,
entered into an agreement with the central bank to supply 150 tractors to
the bank under the farm mechanisation exercise.
Recent media reports, however, show that Farmtec also trades as Elimobil
Enterprises, a company reportedly linked to Musakwa.
Madzimure then asked Gono to “furnish the committee with the people who were
responsible for vetting” potential tenderers when the deal was struck nearly
three years ago. Chinyadza on the other hand asked the central bank chief to
inform the committee on which exchange rate was used when the Farmtec sued
the bank for non-payment of the tractors supplied.
Gono said he would further make an inquiry into the tender.
“From the details that seem to be emerging, Mr chairman, relating to the
Farmtec issue, it would seem to me that your committee is privy or has
certain information which the governor does not actually have or is not
privy to,” Gono said. “Such things do happen in the realm of life. I would
say I cannot comment beyond what I basically said except to say we are going
to look at it a little bit more and if there are more facts to this, we will
be delighted to defend with these.”
Farmtec is one of the several companies that obtained a writ of execution
from the High Court that saw assets of the RBZ being auctioned for a song
across the country.
The seizure of the assets was blocked by a presidential decree following
recommendations by Finance minister Tendai Biti that government had to
protect the assets of the apex bank.
Thursday, 09 December 2010 20:36
THE TOBACCO industry has a potential to produce 150 million kgs next season
up from 123 million kgs reached this year, growers have said.
Tobacco Industry and Marketing Board (TIMB) CEO Andrew Matibiri said 42 992
hectares of tobacco had been planted by last week.
“Of the planted crop, 14 474 hectares (about a third) is irrigated crop,”
said Matibiri. “This is an improvement of the 21 818 hectares that had been
planted by the same time last year.”
Matibiri said there were 24 690 registered growers and slightly more than
half of them (51%) were A1 farmers while A2 farmers constituted 7%.
Large scale commercial farmers, who constituted the largest share of growers
prior to 2000, now account for 3%. Communal farmers account for 38% of
“We are targeting as much as 170 million kgs but it is too early to tell,”
The Zimbabwe Tobacco Association president, Kevin Cooke, said there were
improvements in terms of the area under the crop compared to last season.
“Basically, the figures are up on last year,” Cooke said. “However, our
yield potential is governed by the amount of rain. If we have a very wet
season, the figures will go down.”
Tobacco output has grown from 56 million kgs in 2008 to about 59 million kgs
last year before it rebound to 123 million kgs this season.
The 110% growth in tobacco output spurred agriculture to expand by 33,9%.
However, the tobacco industry’s reliance on the dry land crop, where the
farmers rely on rain, means it is susceptible to weather changes.
Tobacco and maize were the crops which quickly responded to the changed
operating environment after the adoption of multiple currencies as there has
been significant financial support for the former. Increased production in
the last season was underpinned by self financing from the previous year’s
tobacco proceeds of around US$161 million as well as additional bank and
contract financing. Agribank has already launched US$10 million tobacco bond
aimed at financing the 2010/2011 crop. ZB Bank has also launched agro-bills
which will finance the growing of tobacco and livestock production.
In the 2009/10 season, about 65 000 hectares were put under tobacco, with 30
000 hectares under contract farming, 20 000 hectares on self financing and
15 000 hectares by communal farmers.Last season’s rebound took many by
surprise after output exceeded conservative projections of 93 million kgs.
Thursday, 09 December 2010 20:56
Zimbabwe will host a multi-stakeholder diaspora conference later this month
in Victoria Falls, we are told. It will bring together business leaders,
civil society, and politicians under the theme “Engaging the diaspora
towards Zimbabwe’s Economic Reconstruction”. Delegates are expected from
Australia, Botswana, the Netherlands, the UK and US, the Herald tells us.
Labour leaders will also be present together with religious leaders.
Conference organisers are the Development Foundation for Zimbabwe (DFZ), a
non-political organisation. They will engage the inclusive government and
other stakeholders to see how the skills of diasporans can best be
But DFZ director Nokwazi Moyo admitted there could be problems. “There are
several individuals that may feel afraid, threatened or otherwise
constrained to return home for this conference,” Moyo said. But any
negotiations which include the inclusive government should be held on home
soil, he said.
“The DFZ is opening up dialogue between key stakeholders to devise ways and
means of capitalising on this important resource represented by the
This looks like being another dead duck. How many of these meetings and
“indabas” have we had over the past two years and what have they achieved?
And what about those Zimbabweans reluctant to test the water when people
such as journalists are being arrested?
Moyo points out that in the age of the Internet, coming home doesn’t have to
be physical. It can assume a number of forms.
But this is disingenuous. If key players such as Strive Masiyiwa feel unable
to be here in person, then that sends a powerful signal to other players
that the terrain is not yet ready for engagement. The prime minister, deputy
prime ministers and the parties they represent have not been able over a
two-year period to create an environment conducive to investment. That tells
us all we need to know about “harnessing” the diaspora.
During the conference there will be special sessions on social development
and investment…and other key areas such as citizenship, property rights and
migration, we are told.
OK, so here’s a test for the organisers. Will those politicians who are
seeking the largesse of diasporans extend the franchise to them? Why should
they cough up their hard-won resources when the government has made no
effort to give them a say in the future shape of the country? Presumably
they will be taxed upon their return? So they must insist upon the principle
of “no taxation without representation”. It’s as simple as that.
President Mugabe has another title to add to his string of honorifics. He is
a lawyer, he told President Zuma during the South African leader’s recent
visit to Harare.
“I told President Zuma I am a lawyer and I am unhappy to be in a thing which
is semi-legal,” the Sunday Mail reported him as saying.
He was referring to the Global Political Agreement. We know Mugabe has a
number of degrees and this one we assume was the product of a correspondence
course when he was in detention. That of course doesn’t make him a lawyer if
he has never practised, nor is he a member of the Law Society!
If Mugabe is a lawyer, then he should know there is nothing “semi-legal”
about the GPA and inclusive government. They are firmly rooted in Amendment
19 to the constitution.
What we don’t understand is why Zanu PF regards every other amendment as
cast in stone (especially No 7), but No 19 is treated as “semi-legal” and
And if Zimbabweans should be guaranteed constitutional and electoral
certainty, why is Mugabe plunging them into another election only two years
after the last one?
At least we got a confession from the president on the vexed issue of
“Yes, we initially conceded to matters of governors to bring about harmony
in the inclusive government,” he said, “until we started noticing that the
MDC-T was blowing hot and cold on matters primary to us, namely sanctions
and other forms of external interference including pirate radio stations.”
So, blowing hot and cold is a major offence? Then what about Zanu PF
retaining exclusive control of broadcasting which it abuses to make partisan
claims when it lost the last election? What do we call that, hot or cold?
This might explain why nobody is asking external stations to close down.
Why should they when ZBC spews its toxic lava across the landscape?
But we did like the way Zanu PF suddenly starts “noticing” things, as in “we
started noticing the MDC-T’s disconcerted disposition (sic)”. What’s it
doing the rest of the time? And we would love to know what new sanctions the
MDC-T is allegedly calling for? Surely, if there were new sanctions on the
agenda Rugare Gumbo would have told us.
And where does General Douglas Nyikayaramba fit into this? Isn’t that why
they call it a “general” election?
Meanwhile, it was inevitable, we suppose, that columnists in the state media
should seize on Chris Dell’s remarks as revealing what the Americans think
of Zimbabwe’s opposition leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, at the time (2007).
There was nothing new in those views of Tsvangirai, often expressed in
private by his friends and allies: “Indecisive” readily comes to mind
although “brave” and “committed democrat” take equal place. But while
commentaries in the Zanu PF press picked up on words like “flawed”, they
carefully edited remarks about Mugabe, concentrating on what Dell called his
“tactical skills”. That was translated in the Herald as a “brilliant leader”.
But instead of publishing what the US ambassador said in 2007 (and we never
got an unexpurgated version), why not mention what South Africa’s
international relations minister Maite Nkoane-Mashabane said just the other
day: that Mugabe was “a crazy old man”. How come that bit got left out in
the Herald’s extensive coverage of the leaks?
South African ministers were quick to point out the remarks were made
“light-heartedly”. But it was interesting that they were made at all.
Then we have Ian Khama’s thinly veiled criticism of Mugabe, broadcast by the
BBC on Monday night. Khama was referring to events in the Ivory Coast. But
his remarks about leaders who maintain themselves in power despite electoral
outcomes could not be mistaken.
Khama urged the international community not to broker a power-sharing
agreement as it did in Kenya and Zimbabwe. “Elections there were hijacked by
the ruling party and if that’s going to happen every time someone wants to
dispute an election result and may then stay in power by default through a
mechanisim of power-sharing — it’s wrong.”
We were shocked by the Herald’s front-page picture on Monday of hundreds of
people from Nyamakate near Karoi scrambling for food that fell off a truck
that was involved in an accident. They ignored the driver who was trapped in
And then in the same edition the Herald continued its crusade against
farmers leasing their land to whites. Those engaged in this ideological
heresy came under fire from Mashonaland West governor Faber Chidarikire and
Zanu PF national chairman SK Moyo.
Moyo labelled those leasing land to whites as “saboteurs” bent on
compromising government’s empowerment efforts.
So who are the real saboteurs here? Farmers who enhance agricultural
production by leasing land to those who can farm it, and learn something
useful in the process, or those waging war against farmers leasing land
irrespective of the consequences for agriculture. Their policies can be
found in that front-page Herald picture on Monday of hungry villagers
raiding an overturned haulage truck.
That picture was emblematic of Zanu PF’s rule and represented an appropriate
rebuke to Moyo who will clearly say anything to justify his ascent up the
greasy political pole, and Faber Chidarikire who appears to have lost his
head again. Perhaps Temba Mliswa can deal with him! And what can we say of
the Herald that didn’t even understand the significance of its own
front-page picture? Unless of course they have a “saboteur” hiding in their
Thursday, 09 December 2010 20:53
IN the course of his marathon 2011 national budget statement, Minister of
Finance Tendai Biti noted that Zimbabwe’s “diamond industry has huge
potential”. However, he correctly urged against over-reaction and excessive
expectation as to that industry’s economic impact, saying that diamond
revenues “will not necessarily be the panacea to all the challenges
bedevilling” the Zimbabwean economy.
Emphatically, he said that “if we do not tread cautiously and transparently,
this natural resource endowment might detract us off track from the
necessary but painful initiatives we need to embrace”.
Biti added that Zimbabweans “need to manage expectations with regards to the
scope and extent of diamond revenue realisations”.
Ever since the discovery of the Chiadzwa diamonds, there has been widespread
hype that they would become the resolution of all Zimbabwe’s economic ills,
and that great wealth lay ahead for the country, and all its people.
Most astutely, Biti has sought to bring to all awareness of reality, and
that is as economically significant as the diamond resources may be, they
are far from a “cure all” for the decimated economy. He wisely cautioned
that reality should prevail, stating that “the current opaqueness with
regards to the mining of diamonds and resultant realisations can only serve
to raise false expectations and public alarm over the extent of the
It is indisputable that the leakages of diamonds from Chiadzwa were
considerable, with illicit trafficking of the diamonds across the Mozambican
border, and elsewhere, by residents of Chiadzwa, some of the armed forces
and politically connected.
But, undoubtedly, perceptions of the extent thereof were, and still are,
extremely exaggerated. That that is so is strongly corroborated over past
months. Belatedly, government took the necessary steps to curb and contain
the unlawful mining and sale of diamonds to the extent that finally, in May
2010, Kimberley Process Certification (KPC) was forthcoming.
Since then, three KPC authorised sales of diamonds have taken place. The
first and second sales were conducted in August and September, generating
proceeds of US$56 476 194 and US$29 914 789. Therefore, total inflows to
Zimbabwe from those two sales amounted to US$85 390 983. Of that amount,
US$17 154 745 flowed out of Zimbabwe as dividends (net after non-resident
shareholders’ tax), yielding Zimbabwe a net benefit of US$68 236 238.
Obviously, as the diamond fields are developed and their potential fully
exploited, these yields will increase exponentially, but not to an extent
that will miraculously transform the economy.
Zimbabwe has a national debt of approximately US$6 billion, and in addition,
the population as a whole needs to have an annual income of at least US$12
billion merely for all to be surviving at the level of the Poverty Datum
Such an income, and the settlement of the national debt, cannot possibly be
forthcoming wholly, or even substantially, from Zimbabwe’s diamond
This does not gainsay that those resources cannot, and will not, yield a
meaningful contribution to the economic needs, especially so if regard is
given to the employment generation, the downstream economic activity which
will flow from the diamond fields exploitation, and the revenue flows to the
fiscus, directly and indirectly.
The reality of Zimbabwe’s circumstances is that it must not be bedazzled by
the diamonds, even though their exploitation must be maximised.
Concurrently with that exploitation, in a constructive, productive,
transparent and lawful manner, Zimbabwe must determinedly address the
exploitation of its other resources which have the potential of greatly
enriching the economy.
The resource wherewithal is there for Zimbabwe to progressively develop an
exceptionally viable economy, with concomitant near total elimination of the
widespread poverty and suffering that currently prevails. However,
achieving that development is contingent, first and foremost, upon genuine
The resources are manifold. Zimbabwe has a land of proven great fertility,
capable of sustaining the nation and of generating great export revenues.
This was so for more than 100 years, until a myopic government embarked
upon much-needed land reform in the most counter-productive ways possible.
Now, as a major step towards economic transformation, land reform needs to
be reformed, with a key priority being the restoration of land tenure.
Concurrently, government has to ensure continuous timeous availability of
agricultural inputs, at realistic prices, and that normal market forces
drive the prices of agricultural production.
Under the fertile land, Zimbabwe has immense mineral wealth. Not only
diamonds, but also gold, platinum, lithium, nickel, chrome, and much else.
Although a not insignificant mining industry exists, it could be many times
greater if Zimbabwe desisted from deterring investment through political
instability and confrontation, threatened “indigenous” domination of and
supremacy over investors, excessive direct and indirect taxation, defective
parastatal services, and other investor deterrents.
The manufacturing sector also has gargantuan potential, and particularly so
in fields of value-addition to the high quality primary products that
Zimbabwe can produce. But the development and growth of the manufacturing
sector is greatly dependent upon substantial investment into it, and the
deterrents to mining sector investors apply similarly to those interested in
investing into manufacturing. Without downplaying those deterrents, foremost
issues requiring resolve include reliability of energy supplies, ready
access to working capital, and resolution of the prevailing confrontational
relationships between employers and labour.
Yet a further economic growth opportunity is tourism. Zimbabwe has vast
wealth of remarkable, world-renowned tourist resources, waiting to be
exploited to a greater degree than has been the case. But investment into
tourism requires the same conducive
environment as apply to the other economic sectors, concurrently with
restoration of Zimbabwe’s international and regional image as an attractive,
safe and secure investment destination.
If government would, at last, give recognition to facts, instead of
recurrent submission to megalomaniac and paranoid hallucinations, and would
genuinely strive to transform Zimbabwe constructively, all its economic
sectors would be diamonds. They would be jewels in the crown of a vibrant
Thursday, 09 December 2010 20:49
FOR Western journalists visiting Zimbabwe in the middle of the last decade,
a background chat with US Ambassador Christopher Dell was an opportunity not
to be missed.
A veteran Foreign Service officer with a refreshingly informal, outspoken
style, Dell could be counted on to deliver candid assessments of Robert
Mugabe’s latest skullduggery and of the hapless efforts by Zimbabwe’s
opposition to get rid of him.
When I met him at his sprawling residence in the verdant northern suburbs of
Harare in May 2006 while reporting a New Yorker story about Mugabe, Dell
laughed as he told me of his arrest by the dictator’s thugs for trespassing
near the presidential palace in downtown Harare. He was clearly enjoying
rattling the regime. “I cannot even spell the word Dell with a ‘D’ but an ‘H’
and that is where Dell should go,” Mugabe declared that year, to Dell’s
Dell was one of those rare US diplomats who was nearly as frank with
reporters and in his public pronouncements as he was with his State
So many of the observations in his dispatches to Washington, released by
WikiLeaks last week, have a certain degree of familiarity to them: his
grudging respect for Mugabe’s survival skills (“give the devil his due,” he
wrote, “he is more clever and more ruthless than any other politician in
Zimbabwe”), his disgust at the dictator’s ignorance of basic economics and
appetite for violence, his low opinions of many members of the Movement for
Democratic Change (MDC), and his conviction that, with US help and
encouragement of the forces arrayed against Mugabe, “the end is not far off”.
Still, it’s fascinating to read the former ambassador’s unvarnished views
about Zimbabwe’s politics and personalities, and his predictions about the
country’s future. Much of what Dell writes here is on the money: he
appreciates MDC leader Morgan Tsvangarai’s “courage” and “star quality”
while noting his “questionable judgment in selecting those around him”.
This nuanced assessment took place just after a bitter and debilitating
split along ethnic lines of the MDC, prompted in part by the beatings of
some of Tsvangarai’s critics by his fiercely loyal youth wing. (Tensions
within the opposition party continue to undermine its effectiveness.)
He astutely dismisses the slick and superficial Arthur Mutambara, leader of
the breakaway faction and Tsvangarai’s main opposition challenger, as a
“lightweight who spends too much time reading US campaign messaging manuals”.
Dell saw that pressure was building on Mugabe both from the streets and from
his own ruling Zanu PF circle, who were beginning to suffer from the effects
of Mugabe’s ruinous economic policies. He saw a range of possible
denouements looming — from a free and fair election, to a
South-African-brokered power sharing deal that would “perpetuate the status
quo,” to “a popular uprising” that, he cautioned, would likely result in “a
There are also some observations that seem off the mark. Dell was far too
trusting of South African leader Thabo Mbeki. “Mbeki appears committed to a
successful mediation and is reportedly increasingly irritated by Mugabe’s
efforts to manipulate him or blow him off altogether,” Dell wrote back in
2007. In fact, the South African president turned into Mugabe’s chief
enabler, standing by him, propping him up with money and electricity, and
turning his back on the opposition as the country spiralled into crisis.
Dell seems to have underestimated the obscene lengths to which Mugabe, or
those around him, would go to perpetuate his hold on power. The Fear, a book
by Peter Godwin — the Rhodesia-born correspondent who has become the most
intrepid chronicler of Zimbabwe’s last decade — describes in chilling detail
the beatings, tortures, and murders that Zanu PF mobs inflicted on the MDC
supporters in the spring and summer of 2008, after Tsvangirai defeated
Mugabe in the presidential election and was subsequently forced to compete
in a run-off.
Hundreds of people were murdered, thousands were assaulted, and tens of
thousands were driven from their homes in a campaign of terror so widespread
and relentless that Tsvangirai was forced to surrender his challenge (while
Mbeki blandly looked on, saying nothing). Dell may also have overlooked the
determination of Mugabe’s generals — terrified at the prospect of being
hauled to The Hague or the International Criminal Court of Justice — to
subvert the transition to an MDC government.
Four years later, Zimbabwe has, in fact, tasted all three of the scenarios
that Dell envisioned in his memos. It had a surprisingly transparent
election in March 2008 — albeit one that was subsequently stolen by Mugabe.
It had a bloodbath.
And now it has the “power sharing deal” brokered by South Africa, with
Mugabe in the driver’s seat. The 86-year-old dictator is arguably as strong
as ever — Zanu PF controls most levers of power — and the diplomatic
pressure on him has eased.
Dell’s take on the Mugabe dictatorship proved to be uncannily accurate. The
only thing he really failed to see was the utter inability of his own
government to make a difference.
Joshua Hammer is a Berlin-based foreign correspondent and the author of,
most recently, A Season in Bethlehem: Unholy War in a Sacred Place (Free
Press). –– The New Republic.
Thursday, 09 December 2010 20:47
ZIMBABWE is currently in a process of political transition, epitomised by a
power-sharing government comprising the country’s three major political
parties. This shaky but necessary political pact may be terminated by
elections which may or may not be held next year.
Zimbabweans should look beyond the current situation and attempt to paint a
picture of the future. We should not allow our present frustrations and
sense of crisis to eclipse the vision of a better Zimbabwe epitomised by
social, economic and political transformation.
Political transformation necessarily entails the totality of the values,
systems, structures, culture, behaviour, laws and policies that engender
good governance, respect for the rule of law and upholding of fundamental
Political transformation in the African context and specifically in the
Zimbabwean context would be useless if it does not give birth to
socio-economic transformation which culminates in economic growth,
availability and access to basic services and goods, employment as well as
improved standard of living.
Zimbabwe is in the mess that it is in because we have failed to run our
country, economy and manage our people properly. In order for Zimbabwe to
move towards good governance we need a broad shopping basket of measures,
actions, attitudes and institutions to be in place.
First and foremost we need a good constitution that will clearly and
properly define the relationship of the state with its citizens thus
providing an enabling framework for citizens to exercise their rights and
participate in decision making. It should define the powers of the state at
various levels, state obligations, responsibilities, duties and
The current constitution-making process is thus an important step towards
transformation but we should not fool ourselves into thinking that once we
have a good constitution everything will fall into place and we will live
happily ever after in democratic tranquility -- Cinderella fashion.
We also need a new political culture which respects democratic practice
including citizen participation in decision making, a culture of
transparency and the respect of individual and collective rights as well as
ingrained democratic values. It is interesting that the British have no
written constitution but they are still able to respect fundamental
In order to move from transition to transformation we need a government that
has the capacity to govern and to deliver. The past 15 years have seen the
gradual collapse of state institutions culminating in lack of proper policy
formulation and implementation, deterioration of service delivery and the
creation of a prohibitive environment for business to take place.
We would need a government with the necessary human, technical and financial
capital to competently manage the country and move it to new heights. Up to
2008, the Zanu PF led government was unable and seemingly unwilling to move
the country forward as evidenced by lack of a coherent shared national
vision and consistent policy making.
Government has also not been able to deliver because of massive skills
flight to other sectors and other countries resulting in technical
deficiencies at all levels of state governance. Under capitalisation of
government departments and utilities has also resulted in an underperforming
and in fact non performing government. It would thus be necessary to address
lack of capacity to deliver in government by:
* Enhancing government’s ability to formulate and implement policy.
* Building the government’s capacity to revive and evaluate policy
* Strengthening its technical and human resource base.
* Sufficiently capitalising government to carry out the functions of
government. This would entail broadening its revenue collection base,
leveraging investor/donor funding and unlocking the commercial value of
Zimbabwe’s vast mineral wealth, eg Chiadzwa diamonds which are not currently
sufficiently contributing to the national fiscus. The country has huge
potential in the tourism sector which could provide impetus for economic
growth. This is entirely dependent however on a conducive political and
In order for democracy to thrive it needs the support of strong pillars of
governance in the form of strong democratic institutions. These democratic
institutions include independent commissions accountable to parliament, ie
media, human rights, anti-corruption and Justice and Truth Commissions.
Beyond statutory institutions, Zimbabwe needs a strong civil society
movement that will enable citizens to participate meaningfully in decision
making in an organized and informed manner.
Civil society should not be an appendage of opposition parties but should
provide space for citizens to critically and constructively engage their
government through organised advocacy processes.
Zimbabwe is in need of a brand of leaders that will have an appreciation of
democratic values and the imperatives of good governance at a personal
level. Transfer of power from Zanu PF to MDC or any other party for that
matter may be pointless if the MDC, for instance, embraces the same
political culture that has culminated in the current state of affairs. We
need to move away from a culture of impunity, exclusivity, corruption,
self-aggrandisement, top-down “serve me” chef leadership and the use of
violence as a political tool.
The march towards transformation also demands leaders of substance, vision
and integrity. Zimbabwe is currently suffering from a deficit of credible
leaders not because those leaders are not there but principally because
these leaders are wrongly positioned and deployed. We have many politicians
but few statesman, many managers but few corporate leaders, many wealth
accumulators but few wealth creators, many activist but few thinkers, many
dealers but few proper business people, many clerics with titles but few
true shepherds and pastors. The country is blessed with many intellectuals
but many of them are functionally illiterate.
Zimbabwe desperately needs pro-active leaders who will not be caught in
victim mode blaming all our failures on sanctions, Zanu PF, MDC, the West or
the weather. We need leaders who will take responsibility and chart the way
There are too many political parties, government departments, parastatals,
businesses, civil society organisations and local authorities that are led
or rather misled by mediocre leaders who do not have an agenda for change
and transformation. There is a great clarion call for capable leaders from
all sectors of Zimbabwean society to emerge or to be allowed to emerge.
The advent of this new breed of leaders should not threaten the old leaders
who may feel they are being challenged as these are the people who will help
bridge the gap between the past, the present and the future. The older
generation of leaders will assist in the transition as we drink from their
rich wells of wisdom. After all age comes with wisdom, but at times age
comes alone. Some now reject the emergence of capable emerging leaders
because they did no “die for the country”. We do not only want to die for
our country but to live for it and to make it live.
The advent of the inclusive government has by design or default culminated
in the availability of basic goods in the country’s supermarkets. Whilst
this is a most welcome development it is not sustainable in the long run.
There is need to revive the productive sectors of the economy as a consumer
economy will not serve the best interests of the nation. H
owever for this to happen we need a conducive environment for business to
operate and for production to take place.
Foreign direct investment is needed to capitalise industry, tourism, mining
and agricultural sectors. This investment will not come as long as we have
an unstable political environment which poses a threat to property rights
and proper conduct of business.
The first step in boosting investor confidence will be formulating investor
friendly policies as investors are not Father Christmas institutions that
give out gifts to deserving countries during the festive season.
In the next five years we need a programme that will revive the capacity of
central and local government to deliver services. This should begin with
concerted efforts to devolve power from central government to provincial and
The second stage would be that of building the capacity of these authorities
to deliver basic services such as clean water, electricity, health and
education to residents. There are sufficient resources at local level to
fund service provision in partnership with development agencies and Non
Governmental Organisations (NGOs).
The NGO sector has done a great job in providing relief to hundreds of
thousands of Zimbabweans and this should be commended.
There is need however to move away from the paradigm of giving people hand
outs so that they can survive to a model that promotes secure and
sustainable livelihoods. Relief is synonymous with emergency situations not
sustainable development and it is time we started moving towards empowering
communities to utilise the resources and potential which they have instead
of reducing them to perpetual passive recipients. It is a fact that Africa
needs more trade than aid.
In addition to strong leaders, Zimbabwe needs active citizens who will be
able to participate in all levels of decision making and policy formulation.
This is imperative in any participatory democracy. This will result in
accountable governance and an improvement in the quality of service delivery
by local authorities and statutory service providers.
This, in my opinion, will assist in the cause of transformation.
Dumisani Nkomo is an activist, spokesperson of the Matabeleland Civil
Society Consortium and the Chief Executive officer of Habakkuk Trust, a
leading Christian advocacy organization. He writes here in his personal
Thursday, 09 December 2010 21:07
COMPARED to the 1980s or the period before the end of the Cold War, Africa
has marginally progressed in terms of embracing democracy. Most countries
now hold regular elections although there remain lingering obstacles
blocking smooth transitions towards democratic dispensations still remain.
The collapse of the Berlin Wall in 1989 triggered winds of change across the
continent and brought an end to one-party states and life presidents while
ushering in political pluralism and regular elections.
If elections are used as a measure of democracy, the 1990s, notwithstanding
signs of authoritarian recidivism, was a period of democratic expansion on
However, there is still a long way to go. Most African countries are still
run by self-seeking despots.
Autocrats old and new have proved adept at using elections to legitimise
their undemocratic regimes and practices. They have learnt how to use
multiparty elections to retain and consolidate power under the cloak of
President Robert Mugabe is practised and efficient in this. That is partly
why Zimbabwe remains democratic in form but autocratic in substance.
Elections are beckoning again. Outcomes of previous polls were disputed due
to manipulation, ballot fraud and violence. This is what created this
current political stalemate and led to the devastation of the economy and
impoverishment of the people. In spite of persistent lies by authors of the
problem, who invariably blame foreigners and their actions, including
sanctions, for the situation, all enlightened people know their incompetent
leadership and policy failures are the root cause of this crisis.
As we move towards new elections, there is need to remember the context and
objective of the next polls. The next elections would be about trying to
steer Zimbabwe through the transition from dictatorship to democracy.
It must be remembered the GNU was formed as a result of a disputed
presidential election. The next vote must resolve the situation.
Mugabe lost the first round of polling in 2008 and the electoral commission,
which was clearly acting under his regime’s control and direction, spent
more than a month refusing to release the results. When the results finally
came they showed there was no outright winner but raised suspicions that
Mugabe had lost and needed time to create the smokescreen of an impasse
while crafting a fight-back strategy.
Following a barbaric campaign of brutality ahead of the blood-spattered
June 2008 presidential election run-off, Mugabe emerged the “winner”. MDC-T
leader Morgan Tsvangirai had pulled out of the race due to violence. Mugabe
was hastily sworn in as president, just like what happened after elections
were stolen by Mwai Kibaki in Kenya in 2007, and now Laurent Gbagbo in Ivory
Gbagbo lost the November 28 election to opposition leader Alassane Ouattara.
Although the electoral commission declared Ouattara the winner, Ivory Coast’s
Constitutional Council annulled votes in the country’s north over claims of
irregularities and declared Gbagbo as winner. The world was outraged and is
up in arms against Gbagbo over his brazen electoral fraud.
The GNU in Zimbabwe was formed to put in place a transitional mechanism to
ensure free and fair elections. Sadc leaders must now pressure the GNU
leaders to implement the GPA and hold fresh and credible elections as soon
as possible. What happened in Kenya and Ivory Coast must not happen here
Thursday, 09 December 2010 21:05
GOVERNMENT’S indigenisation policy remains opaque and two events this week
made it more muddled — leaving many of us wondering where we are going.
Industry and International Trade minister Welshman Ncube earlier this week
announced the freezing of the indigenisation policy only to have Youth
Development, Indigenisation and Empowerment minister Saviour Kasukuwere
pouring cold water on the pronouncement by declaring that he alone has the
authority to make statements on indigenisation.
One conclusion that can be drawn from the differences between the two
ministers is that government has no clear communication strategy and there
are multiple voices on the same issue, leaving the recipients confused.
However, there are matters deeper than this: It further exposes the opaque
nature of the country’s indigenisation policy as government appears not to
have a clear position on this crucial matter.
Given the polemical differences inherent in the Government of National
Unity, one would have expected a triangulation of policies, addressing the
potentially divisive issues through progressive policies.
But what we have seen since the announcement of the indigenisation
regulations in February, causing a 25% fall on the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange,
is a fragmented and disjointed policy pronouncement.
What the policy-makers should know is that investors are very sensitive to
all the incoherence and confusion we have witnessed since the announcement
of regulations and until the channels are clear, they will steer clear of
The indigenisation regulations are premised on wrong grounds as they are not
about wealth-creation but grabbing what is already there.
It is a policy that is anti-entrepreneurship as instead of encouraging the
formation of new companies and businesses, local investors are being egged
into parcelling out shares from operating firms.
If the local investors have the means to buy significant stakes, up to 51%,
in say Zimplats (for argument’s sake) why not have them start a completely
new venture with their capital?
History has shown that only a cabal of elites benefit from policies such as
indigenisation as they usually cannibalise the companies, leaving them as
What is equally worrying is that Kasukuwere has shown administrative
incapacity in executing this flawed policy as he has failed to come up with
new regulations as he promised investors at a conference in South Africa
The investors, the honourable minister should know, are not party supporters
whom you tell what they want to hear even if it is not practical.
They are serious, focused people, looking for a safe destination for their
investment and would not risk placing it here when there is such policy
These investors would like to know how the flawed indigenisation policy
would be financed, how it would be carried out and when. Until then, the
country would continue waiting in vain for the much needed foreign
Thursday, 09 December 2010 21:04
AFTER years of toying with the idea of privatising state enterprises,
government now seems keen to dispose of shareholding in non-performing
parastatals. First to go will likely be Agribank. Government hopes to sell
60% of its shareholding in the troubled bank.
While the exercise would definitely turn around the fortunes of the
companies, benefits to the economy cannot be underplayed. This should also
ease the burden on treasury which has been channelling millions of dollars
annually to shore up the quangos. But a lot needs to be done to ensure the
exercise is a success and free from corruption. This is however requires
transparency, a rare attribute in government.
Without transparency and public accountability, the privatisation effort
will be a failure and could leave the economy worse off.
Though government finally found a good suitor for the Zimbabwe Iron and
Steel Company (Zisco), underhand developments surrounding the bidding
process exposed the ugly face of influence peddling with certain politicians
backing company A while others backed company B.
Undoubtedly, such politicians had received bribes to ensure their handlers
won the bid. Corruption should not stand in the way of privatisation of
these enterprises. Even after Essar Group won the bid to acquire a
controlling stake, the dust has not settled yet, with politicians
mudslinging the winning bidder for very obvious reasons.
Those who did not get a piece of the cake through infamous “facilitation
fees” are possibly hoping to cash in on the sale of at least 10 other state
enterprises — Air Zimbabwe, National railways of Zimbabwe, Noczim, Agribank,
Cold Storage Company, Grain Marketing Board, NetOne, and TelOne.
Apart from corruption and lack of transparency, government should choose
partners on the strength of their balance sheets and conduct thorough due
diligence exercises into would-be suitors to avoid embarrassment of
yesteryear that saw government handing out a management contract to a
dubious Indian outfit that failed to revive the steelmaker, actually leaving
it in a worse-off state.
All the companies slated for privatisation have one thing in common; they
are struggling and have been in this position for a long time largely
because of poor management and failure by the state to recapitalise the
Finance minister Tendai Biti aptly captured the dire need for privatisation
at Agribank while presenting his 2011 fiscal policy statement earlier this
He said Agribank was in such financial trouble that before the company
trades, the bank is already in a loss position.
Judging by the government’s current financial position, the state cannot
afford to reinvest in all its companies, especially now when government
generates revenue just in excess of US$2 billion annually.
Real and sound reforms need to be instituted in parastatals so they can play
a pivotal role in the economy’s growth and turnaround. At the moment
institutions such as Zesa and the National Railways of Zimbabwe are but an
albatross around the economy’s neck. It is generally accepted that energy
and a sound infrastructure underpin any economy’s growth.
Government last year approved a new programme to restructure, commercialise
and privatise at least 10 companies and had received interest from foreign
The government solely controls or is the major shareholder in 78
corporations in sectors such as energy, transport, finance, mining and
The CZI recently said: “There can be no economic growth with the parastatals
in the condition in which they find themselves. There is need for
government to give specific timelines on privatisation. In addition, given
the seriousness of the matter and the huge economic benefits to the nation,
CZI suggests that the issue be handled in the Office of the Vice-President.
The first major step to achieve requires government to let go. It must take
a cue from the success of other privatisations and commercialisations of
parastatals such as Dairy Market Board, now DZL, Cotton Marketing Board now
AICO, and see the benefits.
These two companies — DMB and CMB — are perhaps the most shining examples of
how successfully privatised state enterprises can contribute to the economy’s
growth and the fiscus at the same time.