December 11, 2009
By Raymond Maingire
HARARE - Newly deployed United States ambassador to Zimbabwe, Charles Aaron
Ray says the targeted sanctions imposed on Zimbabwe by his government are
lawful and it is not possible for anyone outside the US Congress to force
their lifting."The sanctions are beyond my individual control and also they
are beyond the control of political parties (in Zimbabwe)," Ray said to
journalists when he met Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai at his Strathaven
home in Harare on Thursday.
President Robert Mugabe's Zanu-PF party has demanded that the MDC should
effectively denounce Western imposed sanctions on him and some members of
his former government saying they were imposed at the instigation of MDC.
But the newly arrived and soft-spoken diplomat said sanctions were the US
congress's initiative and not that of any political party or individual in
"This is a congressional mandated issue and it is up to the US legislature
to determine what is to be done," said Ray.
"Sanctions are a legal legislative issue that has to be decided by the
legislature not by the Prime Minister."
Ray, who officially started his job on Wednesday, said he discussed the
matter with President Robert Mugabe when he met him saying the "matter was
too complex to be discussed in one conversation".
The US envoy said he was willing to restore normal relations with the
Zimbabwean government if it was prepared to respect internationally accepted
norms of governance.
"I am willing to work with everyone here who is willing to play by
internationally accepted rules to restore this country to its former
prosperity," he said.
"Zimbabwe has rightly been called the jewel and the crown of Africa and if I
can I will play any small role in helping to restore the lustre of that
He said he would not follow the aggressive path that was employed by his
predecessors while dealing with the Zimbabwean authorities.
"I never live in the past, I live in the future," he said. "I talk to
everyone. I listen to everyone and I try to find common ground with the
people that I meet focusing on things that are really important and what is
important in this case is to rebuild Zimbabwe."
Meanwhile, the US government has pledged an additional US$46 million on top
of a total of $200 million since 2000 towards efforts to fight the HIV/AIDS
pandemic in Zimbabwe.
Ray said his government remained committed towards reducing the prevalence
of the disease which has devastated society and further reduced life
expectancy in Zimbabwe.
"We are committed to continue a strong partnership with Zimbabwe to defeat
the AIDS pandemic. Since 2000, we have invested over $200 million in the
fight against HIV/AIDS in Zimbabwe," said Ray.
"We are expecting another $46 million in 2010. In 2009 the US government
supported anti-retroviral therapy for 40 000 Zimbabweans in need of care
and, in 2010, we will increase the number by nearly fifty percent."
Ray was speaking in Harare earlier on Thursday during the Auxillia Chimusoro
HIV and Aids awards presentation ceremony funded by the United States Agency
for International Development (USAID).
The awards are named after Auxillia Chimusoro, one of the first people in
Zimbabwe to openly disclose their HIV positive status. At the time in 1987,
the disease was shrouded in secrecy.
Chimusoro died in 1998 at the age of 42.
Emmy Award winning actress and Population Services International (PSI)
Ambassador, Debra Messing also graced the occasion, which was held at the
National Arts gallery in central Harare.
On her part, Messing thanked Chimusoro for her courage and strength she
showed when she came out publicly to declare her HIV status.
She also commended Zimbabwe's efforts to reduce the HIV/AIDS prevalence.
"I am so impressed with the strides Zimbabwe has made in reducing HIV
prevalence and so hope that this trend continues," she said. "What became
clear to me is that there is an urgent need to scale up male circumcision.
"I have great hope for the people of Zimbabwe. People filled with dignity
and great spirit and kindness and with clear motivation to improve their
health and well being."
Messing is popularly known for her Emmy award winning television series, "Will
The award presentation ceremony is held annually and celebrates individuals
and organizations that have demonstrated commitment and courage in breaking
the silence around the infection, reducing stigma and discrimination, and
caring for infected and affected people.
Despite the decline in HIV prevalence from 15,6 percent in 2007 to 13,7
percent in 2009, much still needs to be done.
Because of HIV, life expectancy has fallen to 34 years for women and 37 for
It is estimated that about 9 out of 10 deaths are due to Aids and over 900
000 children have been orphaned by the disease.
Only about 55 percent of around 400 000 people in need of anti-retroviral
therapy were on drug treatment as of mid 2009.
It is estimated that 33 million people currently live with HIV world wide,
with about 24 million in sub-Saharan Africa.
Friday December 11 2009
White farmers should be compensated for losing their land in order to kick
start the ailing Zimbabwean economy, according to a new report.
The redistribution of land to the black population nine years ago triggered
a crisis which reverberates today, according to a new report from The Brooks
World Poverty Institute at The University of Manchester.
It states that hyperinflation reached 500 million per cent 18 months ago and
in March this year unemployment was estimated at 80%, while more than 72% of
the population survived on food handouts.
Such an approach, say the independent report's Zimbabwean authors, will
bring closure to a sore chapter in the country's history and if done fairly
could kick start investment, promoting economic recovery.
Lead researcher Dr Admos Chimhowu called on the newly formed administration
to compensate farmers using a combination of its own funds and donor monies.
He said: "This is a controversial idea and donors might be unwilling to pay
compensation to the mainly white commercial farmers rather than support poor
"However, we know from the cases of Japan, Taiwan and South Korea that it
was the investment of compensation payments to dispossessed landowners which
helped these economies grow after the Second World War.
"Clearly things are different in Zimbabwe, but under certain conditions such
compensation could kick start investment in selected areas of the economy
and perhaps help with economic recovery. It may be worth exploring this
avenue as a way of bringing closure to an issue that will likely rumble on
in the courts of law for many years to come. "
The report also proposes $1.6 billion (£1 billion) of investment to small
scale farmers given land as part of the country's redistribution programme.
The authors also suggest that a Truth and Reconciliation Commission could be
utilised to settle the "bitter differences which still remain between
Women of Zimbabwe Arise Co-Founders Magodonga Mahlangu and Jenni Williams
said they are being harassed after being presented with the 2009 Robert F.
Kennedy Human Rights Award by President Obama
Gibbs Dube | Washington 10 December 2009
Zimbabwean state security agents have been harassing the co-founders of the
activist group Women of Zimbabwe Arise following their recognition by U.S.
President Barack Obama who presented them with the 2009 Robert F. Kennedy
Human Rights Award in a White House ceremony last month.
WOZA Co-Directors Magodonga Mahlangu and Jenni Williams said that since
their return to Zimbabwe two weeks ago they have been closely followed by
plain-clothes police and agents of Central Intelligence Organization.
Williams said that while the majority of Zimbabweans congratulated them for
receiving the award, the security apparatus views them as a threat.
Williams and Mahlangu currently face charges of staging unsanctioned public
demonstrations over economic and social issues affecting Zimbabweans.
In the past four days the two women have appeared several times in Bulawayo
Magistrates Court to answer charges under Section 37 of the Criminal Law
Codification and Reform Act. They have challenged the constitutionality of
the law, but the Supreme Court has yet to rule in the matter.
WOZA attorney Kossam Ncube told VOA Studio 7 reporter Gibbs Dube that court
documents for the pending case against the two human rights activists have
disappeared from the Office of the Attorney General in Bulawayo.
HARARE, December 10, 2009 - Controversial Tsholotsho North independent
legislator and Zanu PF prodigal son, Jonathan Moyo is this week expected to
bounce back into the party's power structures after he was last month
nominated into the Zanu PF central committee by his Matebeleland North
The former Information minister is among Zanu PF Matebeleland North
province's nominees for the 245-member central committee, the party's main
Moyo will be appointed into the central committee together with party
loyalists from the province such as John Nkomo, Obert Mpofu and Matebeleland
North governor Sithokozile Mathuthu.
Zanu PF is currently holding its congress, which will see long serving
Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe, earning another mandate to head the
beleaguered party after his largely predictable unopposed nomination last
month by all the ten Zanu PF administrative provinces.
Moyo, former Zanu PF deputy secretary for information and publicity,was
dropped from the central committee and the politburo at the 2004 Zanu-PF
He had infuriated President Mugabe when he allegedly masterminded the
infamous Tsholotsho meeting in 2004 that sought to re-arrange the Zanu PF
presidium. Mugabe found this as an attempted coup against his leadership.
He was subsequently expelled as a cabinet minister and from Zanu PF in
February 2005 after he stood for parliamentary elections as an independent
candidate, defying a party decision to reserve theTsholotsho seat for a
female candidate, Musa Mathema.
Just like his rise in 2000, Moyo's readmission into the central committee
will anger his adversaries within Zanu PF who wanted him to rejoin the party
starting from cell level and rise through the ranks like everyone else.
Analysts say Mugabe is keen redeploy Moyo to the party's propaganda
machinery which has seemingly faltered under the control of his successors
Paul Mangwana, the late Tichaona Jokonya, Sikhanyiso Ndlovu and the
incumbent Webster Shamu.
Harare, December 10, 2009- Zimbabwe Editors have demanded an urgent dialogue
on media reforms and an assurance from the government that exiled
journalists will not be prosecuted if they return.
President of the Zimbabwe Editors' Forum Iden Wetherell said in anexclusive
interview with Radio VOP on Wednesday that his organizationwas concerned by
the government's reluctance to give an assurance onthe safety of exiled
"We are very much worried by the government's actions on addressingthe issue
of exiled journalists who are working in the Diasporabecause there are
continued threats to journalists working for the socalled pirate radio
stations. We want the minister of Information togive us written assurances
that if the exiled scribers come back theyare not victimised. We have been
saying this for a long time andthere is no commitment from the part of
the government despitethe issue being stated in the Global Political
Agreement(GPA) which formed the Inclusive government, and given a
chance to meet theminister this is our major concern as editors.
"We are also worried by the dilly darling by the government indealing
with media reforms a thing we believe is crucial andshould have been
completed. It is eight months since thegovernment discussed media issues,
its last attempt being thatKariba media reform in May and since then
nothing has been done inthat regard. If the government wants media reforms
why is the President holding on to the names of the Zimbabwe
MediaCommissioners whose interviews were completed three months ago?
Thisalone shows that there is no commitment by the government to reformthe
media," Wetherell said.
Zimbabwe Independent Newspaper Editor Vincent Kahiya said mediareforms were
long over due.
"There are a number of issues that the government promised to addresswhen
the inclusive government was formed in February and nothing hasbeen done in
respect of reforming the media. We are disappointed bythat development, and
we urge the government to abide by itscommitment it made in the GPA when
they said media reforms were apriority," said Kahiya.
The Minister of Information Webster Shamu cancelled indefinitely aThursday
meeting with editors and chief executive officers of all newsorganisations
he was suppose to hold citing political partycommitments was going to attend
his political party National Congressstarting on Wednesday.
Commenting on the last minute cancellation of the meeting Both Kahiyaand
Wetherell said they had not got invitations to the meeting despitethem being
"We are usually invited at the eleventh hour and we think the inviteswere on
their way .It also important to note that the minister hadgood reasons for
cancelling the meeting because he is participating inhis political party
congress but the fact is the issue of mediareforms is long over due and we
need continued engagement over the matter as stated in the GPA,"said Kahiya
By KITSEPILE NYATHI, NATION CorrespondentPosted Thursday, December 10 2009
A senior leader in President Robert Mugabe's Zanu PF has unexpectedly
resigned sparking fears of a fresh battle to succeed the ageing leader
during the ongoing party congress.
Mr Mugabe had looked secure after he played another tough balancing act
ahead of the congress that opened on Thursday by silencing the several
factions angling for his job.
But Mr Basil Nyabadza, a provincial chairman threw in the towel protesting
against the nominations for the party's top four posts, which he said lacked
His resignation letter also raised the issue of tribalism, a scourge that
threatens to tear apart the former liberation movement.
Mr Nyabadza's Manicaland province had wanted Zanu PF secretary for
administration Mr Didymus Mutasa to take over as chairman.
But Mr Mugabe was forced to push for the elevation of Zimbabwe's Ambassador
to South Africa, Mr Simon Khaya Moyo to the fourth most senior position to
rescue a 1987 Unity Accord with PF Zapu.
The accord that ended the 1980s conflict in south western parts of Zimbabwe
that claimed the lives of more than 20,000 civilians provides for the two
parties to share the four posts in the provinces equally.
President Mugabe and his deputy Ms Joice Mujuru represent the old Zanu PF
while the new Vice President John Nkomo and Mr Moyo will represent PF Zapu.
Meanwhile, Zimbabwe's 2008 elections were marred by the widespread rape of
political opponents by President Robert Mugabe's supporters, according to a
report released by an HIV/Aids advocacy group on Thursday.
The report prepared by Aids-Free World says Mr Mugabe's supporters,
including youth militia and some veterans of Zimbabwe's 1970s independence
war, "committed widespread, systematic rape in 2008 to terrorise the
Zimbabwe's HIV / AIDS infection rate has dropped to just more than 13
percent, one of the few countries in sub-Saharan Africa to have an annual
drop in new infections. The country's health service is starting to recover
nine months after the unity government was sworn into power.
Peta Thornycroft | Harare 10 December 2009
Zimbabwe's HIV/AIDS infection rate has dropped to just more than 13 percent,
one of the few countries in sub-Saharan Africa to have an annual drop in new
infections. The country's health service is starting to recover nine months
after the unity government was sworn into power.
Zimbabwe's HIV/AIDS epidemic, which started at least 23 years ago, used to
record infection rates of more than 25 percent of the population. A
demographic survey conducted in 2006 it found the infection rate had dropped
to 18 percent.
Now, the health care authorities, say it has dropped nearly five percent
since then and is at 13.75 percent.
Zimbabweans, health-care workers say, changed their behavior over the years.
The drop in the infection rate was announced at an event in Harare to mark
the life of one of the first Zimbabweans to go public with her HIV/IDS
status. Auxillia Chimusoro died in 1998 after several years as an HIV/AIDS
activist. USAID runs an annual competition in her name to reward community
workers who fight the disease.
At the ceremony, Zimbabwe Health Minister Henry Madzorera said when he was
appointed in February all public hospitals were closed, most rural clinics
had no drugs, and Zimbabwe was recovering from a cholera epidemic that
resulted in more than 4,000 dying and 100,000 people infected.
Since the start of the cholera epidemic last year, the salaries of
health-care workers and the drugs in the public-health-care system are
provided by donors through UNICEF. There is a critical shortage of doctors
as many left Zimbabwe during the past 10 years of Zanu-PF rule.
"We still have a deficit in the area of doctors, but I am sure this will be
a thing of the past especially if we improve conditions of service," said
To cope with the shortage of doctors, Dr. Madzorera said his ministry
embarked on a new training program for nurses since the unity government
came to power.
"We are training primary care nurses, we now have an excess of primary care
nurses," he said. "That means every clinic has a primary care nurse, in fact
we are posting two nurses per clinic."
Zimbabwe had the best one of the best health-care systems in Africa until
about 12 years ago. Now women's life expectancy has dropped to 34 years,
nearly the lowest in the world, but despite the political and economic
crisis there is recovery.
"If the budget that has been allocated for next year 2010 works as intended,
and we get the money as intended, I think by the end of 2010 our health-care
services will be reasonably normal, not exactly where we were 10 years ago,
but very reasonably normal," said Madzorera.
Despite the good news, there are 900,000 children in Zimbabwe orphaned by
HIV/AIDS, and only half those who need anti-retroviral drugs to fight the
disease receive them.
by Tafadzwa Mutasa Friday 11 December 2009
HARARE - Some ZANU-PF provinces plan to reject nominations of members they
say were imposed to serve in the central committee when the party's congress
officially opens today and will demand a fresh vote to reverse a trend they
say has cost the movement critical support, party sources told ZimOnline
Tensions are running high at the congress, with the spectre of violence
looming, as party members are angry that some unpopular politicians were
still being arbitrary imposed by provincial leadership even after they had
Manicaland Province will lead at least three other provinces in demanding
that certain party officials who lost in elections for central committee
seats two weeks ago, but were non the less imposed by their provincial
leadership be removed and fresh elections held.
"The mood is very bad, people are speaking openly about this imposition of
candidates and it will be raised tomorrow at congress," a ZANU-PF politburo
"If this thing is not handled carefully by the old man it can get out of
control, people are saying enough is enough, you can not continue having
officials who have been rejected by the people," said the official.
The central committee is ZANU-PF's principal organ of congress which has
powers to make rules, implement policies and amend the party constitutions
if necessary. It has 245 members and is chaired by Mugabe.
The biggest casualty will be Chris Mushohwe, current provincial governor and
appointed acting party chairman for Manicaland on Wednesday whose province
want him removed from the province's list of central committee nominees in
favour of Mike Madiro after a fresh vote.
Madiro defeated Mushohwe as the ZANU-PF nominee for a central committee
position but the provincial leadership, under the guidance of the party's
secretary for administration Didymus Mutasa rejected Madiro's name.
Fred Kanzama from Manicaland also won the vote against veteran ZANU-PF
nationalist Morton Malianga but was dropped from the central committee list
"Manicaland will start the ball rolling and they will be joined in by
Mashonaland West, Masvingo and Matabeleland North provinces in rejecting
imposed candidates," another ZANU-PF member who has been following issue
The provinces were also said to be planning to hold a demonstration against
President Mugabe and members of the party presidium to protest against the
sidelining of popular candidates, which they say has become endemic and is
losing ZANU-PF support among voters.
Mugabe was informed yesterday of the impending demonstrations and could be
forced to give in to the demands of the "rebels", something the octogenarian
leader has always done when cornered.
"The broader message is that there are people even in the presidium who are
there because they were imposed by the leadership in the provinces and we
want to hold a vote for some of the positions," the politburo member said.
Tensions were running high last night with some members threatening violence
against opponents if they did not back down on candidates seen as unpopular
in their provinces.
Munyaradzi Paul Mangwana was yesterday trying to meet Mugabe to give him
what he said was a dossier compiled by his Masvingo province of all names of
imposed candidates in the party's 10 provinces. It was unclear whether he
had managed to meet Mugabe.
ZANU-PF provincial chairman for Manicaland Bezzel Nyabadza resigned on
Wednesday saying he was unhappy with how the party had nominated candidates
for the post of national chairman.
The province was pushing Mutasa for the position of national chairman but he
was heavily defeated by Simon Khaya Moyo. The province may still try to push
for a vote on that position because it argues that four other provinces will
back Mutasa but were intimidated to vote for Moyo.
"If we are going to have a contest for the post of chairman then all the
presidium positions will have to be contested with the exception of that of
the first secretary, who was nominated unopposed," a former cabinet
minister, who sits in the ZANU-PF central committee said.
ZANU-PF has for long been ridden by factional fights, mainly pitting camps
led by former General Solomon Mujuru and Defence Minister Emmerson
Mnangagwa, who seems to have lost the latest contest for the party's
Analysts say the former liberation movement has failed to rein in divisions
which are widening now as officials jostle to succeed Mugabe, who at 85
years is in the twilight of his political career. -- ZimOnline.
Thursday, 10 December 2009 20:19
THE use of multi currencies has thrown Zanu PF into financial trouble, a
central committee report on finance for this year says.
So dire is the party's financial position that despite claims that it enjoys
"widespread support", it has this year managed to raise only an embarrassing
US$675 from subscription fees despite disbursing 1,6 million cards which
should have been sold to supporters for one dollar each.
A report seen by the Zimbabwe Independent shows that the party is relying on
the generosity of "friends" and "well-wishers" to keeps the party going.
But the party does not seem too worried by this development and intends to
"find an appropriate strategy" to address the matter.
Records indicate that all provinces except Mashonaland East have stocks of
membership cards expiring this month, the report says.
"Most provinces have not yet submitted to headquarters the membership fees
they have collected," the report says.
The party says provinces were allocated a total 1,6 million membership
cards. Of the 1,6 million sent out to provinces only 593 000 cards were sold
while a balance of over a million are still in the provinces. The sold cards
have apparently not been paid for.
Although Harare, Manicaland, Mashonaland East, Masvingo, Matabeleland North
and Midlands's provinces sold close to 500 000 membership cards, only US$675
was forwarded to headquarters.
With membership fees of a dollar for ordinary party members, the party is
still unable to sell cards. Ironically, the top structures of the party -
the politburo and central committee members - who should pay US$20 and US$10
per person in subscriptions are not paying either. The politburo with 45
members and the central committee with more than 100 members could have
raised at least US$1 500 from subscriptions.
The party has had to run overdrafts with banks attracting huge interest and
auction of vehicles. But Zanu PF believes that its financial fortunes can
still change saying its many supporters will come to its rescue.
The report said: "The widespread support for the party should enable us to
meet these challenges of generating sufficient income to meet our
expenditure in line with commitments and responsibilities."
Zimbabwe's oldest political party claims it will "devise more imaginative
ways" to generate income for the party next year.
According to the report, the party's expenditure was US$4,5 million for
January to December against income of US$656 334.
Party restructuring and meetings cost the party US$113 679. Constitutional
meetings expenses amounted to US$267 404. The party says the money went
into travel, accommodation and "subsistence".
This is despite the fact that the constitution-making process has largely
been off the rails for part of the year.
The party spent US$81 650 on external relations - an outfit set up to help
the party "explain the real and true issues" relating to the land reform
programme - which Zanu PF believes is at the "core of the campaign of
illegal sanctions imposed on Zimbabwe by the United States and European
But the US and EU argue the sanctions have nothing to do with land reform
saying Zimbabwe's violent and flawed elections coupled with general human
rights violations prompted the sanctions.
External affairs effort involves, according to the report, attending
"external briefings, meetings and conferences".
At least US$317 169 carried over from last year's harmonised elections was
for legal fees while US$21 379 was this year's legal expenditure. The report
does not give specifics on legal issues the party dealt with.
The party's Women's League Conference and Youth Conference held earlier
gobbled almost US$1 million combined.
The main National People Congress is expected to cost the financially
troubled party around US$2 million. The conference is on this week.
The report said there is serious need to get politicians and party workers
off the phone after incurring telephone expenses amounting to US$65 000.
"Telephone usage continues to incur high costs and tight control measures
need to be enforced," recommended the report.
Although the party is spending heavily, there is minimal income coming in.
This year, Zanu PF's income stood at US$656 334.
This is because of a "harsh economic environment" coupled by low
subscriptions and membership fees - the party's traditional sources of
Other avenues such as "donations from friends and supporters, and so on"
have not been shaking their wallets as much this year.
Even so, the bulk of Zanu PF's income - US$656 334 - came from the fiscus
under a government grant of US$485 000.
The party had to dispose of cars to raise US$60 489 and hire out its
conference hall to raise income.
A mere US$22 284 came from fundraising which Zanu PF says was mostly in
kind - cattle and grain against a target total of US$1 million from all
This comes amid reports that the party was coercing teachers and villagers
to contribute money or some form of goods to the party towards its main
Thursday, 10 December 2009 20:11
THE South African facilitation team that was in Harare this week has told
principals of the global political agreement (GPA) to resolve outstanding
issues and implement agreed reforms and warned them that President Jacob
Zuma will not allow the country to disturb the 2010 Fifa World Cup
tournament. This came at a time when details of the Sadc organ on politics,
defence and security-mandated talks to deal with the sticking points of the
GPA have started emerging.
Sources close to the current negotiations said among issues where no
progress had been made was the demand by the MDC-T for ministerial
allocations review with the party demanding to be solely in charge of at
least one security ministry.
The facilitation team led by African National Congress kingpins Charles
Nqakula and Mac Maharaj and aided by Zuma’s international relations advisor
Lindiwe Zulu, which arrived in the capital on Monday, reportedly told the
principals of South Africa’s impatience with their failure to put finality
to the sticking points.
The facilitators left the country on Wednesday with a report from the
negotiators of the outstanding issues, which they will hand over to Zuma for
onward transmission to the Sadc troika. The troika would then decide the way
The trio met Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and his deputy Arthur
Mutambara on Monday and President Robert Mugabe on Wednesday and expressed
Zuma’s concern and the potential danger the Zimbabwe crisis posed on the
The sources said the facilitation team had told the principals that Zuma was
under pressure internally and externally to “clean up the region” for the
successful hosting of the tournament.
James Maridadi, Tsvangirai’s spokesperson, confirmed the meeting with the PM
and what was raised, adding that the South African facilitators had
officially told the premier that South Africa now considered Zimbabwe’s
unending political squabbles a direct threat to their own country.
“Several issues were brought up by the facilitators including the real
possibility of an outbreak of xenophobic attacks during the World Cup if
political stability is not restored in Zimbabwe,” Maridadi said.
International pressure, he said, was mounting on Zuma and anxiety within
South Africa was rising while in Zimbabwe there was growing frustration over
the politicians’ dilly-dallying.
“The facilitators told the prime minister that negotiators should
conclusively deal with the bulk of the issues without having to escalate
them to the principals because the principals were not a negotiating
platform,” Maridadi explained.
Zanu PF negotiators and those from Mutambara’s formation of the MDC have
insisted negotiations had no deadline.
Sources also said the team had met negotiators and told them that they
should show sincerity to the GPA and implement what they had agreed in the
last two weeks of intense talks at a secret venue in the capital.
Zanu PF negotiators Patrick Chinamasa and Nicholas Goche reportedly said
they wanted all outstanding issues to be resolved before implementation — a
situation the South African facilitation team said was untenable.
The negotiators reportedly agreed on media reforms which if implemented
would result in Mugabe and Zanu PF losing its grip on the public media.
Goche and another Zanu PF negotiator, Emmerson Mnangagwa, who was standing
in for Patrick Chinamasa, a fortnight ago reportedly gave in on media
reforms after the MDC-T had tabled a number of proposals on media changes
including reforms of public newspapers under the Zimpapers group and the
state broadcaster ZBC.
This has reportedly angered Zanu PF which felt that Goche and Mnangagwa were
The current talks agenda has 27 items, 21 new issues and six old ones of
which little has been achieved.
The MDC-T, the sources said, was responsible for bloating the agenda in
their quest to “shift power from Mugabe’s office to the inclusive
government” and share power equitably.
“As MDC-T we want to have sole control of one security ministry because the
co-sharing of the Home Affairs portfolio has failed to work,” an MDC-T
senior official close to the talks said.
“We are also demanding security reforms and the amendment of the cabinet
handbook to allow Tsvangirai to chair cabinet in the absence of Mugabe.”
The source said they also wanted the negotiations to deal with the welfare
of Tsvangirai who is yet to be allocated a government house since the
formation of the inclusive government in February.
Mugabe has reportedly said he would not leave either Zimbabwe House or State
House to accommodate the premier. At Independence, Mugabe who was the
premier, lived in Zimbabwe House while the late first President Canaan
Banana lived in State House.
The MDC-T also wants the talks to deal with relations between Tsvangirai and
Mugabe amid concerns that the premier had no easy access to the president as
he has to go through a bureaucracy to meet the ageing leader.
“Apart from the routine Monday meeting and cabinet the following day,
Tsvangirai has no easy access to Mugabe,” another MDC-T source said. “This
is unthinkable in an inclusive government whose executive authority is
shared between the two.”
According to Wednesday’s Prime Minister’s Newsletter there was some movement
on the outstanding issues, especially on media reform, hate speech, land
audit and framework, but there was no agreement on the reappointment of
central bank governor Gideon Gono, hiring of Attorney-General Johannes
Tomana, appointment of provincial governors, ministerial mandates and
Tsvangirai told the newsletter that the negotiators should conclude the
dialogue and report to the principals “so that we can finalise the
implementation plan this side of Christmas”.
“This will enable us to begin the New Year focussing on the Government Work
Programme and delivery to the people,” Tsvangirai said. “It is time the
government moved away from political posturing to concentrate on the
technical issues of governing and on delivering basic services and freedoms
to the people.”
The negotiating teams submitted progress reports to their principals this
Thursday, 10 December 2009 19:44
HEAD of delegation of the European Union (EU) Xavier Marchal yesterday said
Europe was ready to restore relations with Harare if the country fully
consummates the global political agreement (GPA). Opening an Economic
Partnership Agreements (EPA) seminar in the capital, Marchal said the EU was
not pushing for regime change as claimed by President Robert Mugabe.
His remarks also downplayed government claims that the decade-long economic
recession was caused by EU and United States sanctions imposed on the
“This is the reality of the EU-Zimbabwe relationship and prospects for
normalisation,” said Marchal. “There is no such thing as a regime-change
agenda. Rather, there is readiness from the EU to re-engage with the
inclusive government with Robert Mugabe as President and Morgan Tsvangirai
as prime minister, on the basis of an agreed methodology.
“A methodology of this re-engagement process was agreed: Zimbabwe to
demonstrate GPA implementation through a road map, the EU to respond by its
own road map of progressive normalisation…Trade relations are not the
subject of restrictions from the EU. The EU as a block continues to be the
major trading partner of Zimbabwe with several EU member states as most
important markets in the EU.”
He said the EU has committed more than 700 million euros in Zimbabwe since
2002 through humanitarian and technical support.
Thursday, 10 December 2009 19:32
GOVERNMENT is on a collision course with the Matabeleland Zambezi Water
Trust (MZWT) over its plans to nationalise the project aimed at ending
perennial water woes in the region. Water Development and Management
minister Samuel Sipepa Nkomo announced last week the proposed takeover of
the project from the MZWT saying it had now been accorded the political will
it lacked over the years.
But Dumiso Dabengwa, chairperson of the MZWT, said the move to take over the
"people's initiative is not acceptable".
"We are surprised by Sipepa Nkomo's latest move to take over the Zambezi
Water Project. He never discussed with us before taking the decision to
nationalise the project," Dabengwa told the Zimbabwe Independent in Bulawayo
He said they "are waiting for an explanation from minister Nkomo on the
whole saga before considering what to say or do" adding that "stakeholders
are naturally angry that such a demoralising decision and announcement about
their project could be made without their input, let alone their knowledge".
Dabengwa said it was clear from the outset of the project that "government
would facilitate the process but a complete takeover of a people's
initiative, regional initiative - no - it's not acceptable".
The former Home Affairs minister said it seemed Nkomo was "operating against
the grain by seeking to nationalise regional projects at a time when
everyone else has seen the need for devolution".
Last week, Constitutional and Parliamentary Affairs minister Eric Matinenga
urged Zimbabweans to talk openly about the devolution of power to provinces
saying there were "no sacred cows" in the constitution-making process.
The ambitious project seeking to end perennial water shortages in
Matabeleland by drawing water from the Zambezi River was first mooted in
Unreliable water supply, especially in Bulawayo, has forced many companies
or potential investors to relocate to Harare and other provinces.
Dabengwa, the interim leader of the revived PF Zapu, said the MZWT was
hoping that the fragile inclusive government which "has new players who
claim to appreciate the cause of Matabeleland better would encourage
continuity in efforts to find a permanent solution to the perennial water
problems in the region, but Nkomo announcement has taken us aback".
He said Nkomo and his ministry were yet to inform his trust of their
"MZWT hopes this level of disrespect and disregard for others displayed by
minister Nkomo stops. We are waiting for an explanation from Nkomo on the
whole saga before considering what to say or do," Dabengwa said. "We can
only speculate as to the motive of the so-called nationalisation of the
project. We hope this has nothing to do with political rivalry. and people
of Matabeleland need not suffer any longer due to their political
Nkomo said lack of clear funding procedures had resulted in the delay in
implementation of the project, which is one of the reasons government wanted
to take over.
Although government had no money to commence the project, Nkomo said
discussions were on with private players willing to join central government
in implementing the scheme.
However, Dabengwa said international investors whom MZWT had been working
with have been unsettled by government's move.
"Potential investors whom we have been working with are now sceptical about
the nationalisation issue. But as MZWT we are assuring them that the project
would not be nationalised," he said.
He said government failed to provide mandatory guarantees for loans "causing
all our plans to fail".
"The trust also applied for coal mining concessions mainly around the
Gwayi-Shangani Dam site in Lubimbi and Lusulu areas. We have partners keen
on coal mining who are willing to fund the completion of the dam whilst
mining coal," Dabengwa said.
He said once they get concessions, investors "would immediately fund the
completion of the dam as they also would need water for coal beneficiation".
Thursday, 10 December 2009 19:29
INDIGENISATION lobby group, the Affirmative Action Group (AAG), has blasted
plans by Finance minister Tendai Biti to set up a Constituency Development
Fund (CDF) as “nonsensical”. Presenting oral evidence before the
parliamentary portfolio committee on industry and commerce on Monday, AAG
president Supa Mandiwanzira said the proposed fund would be a medium for
Biti proposed to allocate US$8 million as initial capital for the fund meant
to benefit the country’s 210 constituencies.
South Africa, Botswana and Namibia are among countries in the Southern
African region which run similar funds.
“I’m totally opposed to this Constituency Development Fund,” Mandiwanzira
said. “It is nonsensical. The reality is that those funds are going to be
The funds, according to Biti, would be administered by the Ministry of
Parliamentary and Constitutional Affairs on the basis of an annual
development plan submitted by the constituencies.
“What we need to do is to promote enterprises. We will not grow the cake by
giving MPs funds to superintend over. We are creating another level of
bureaucracy,” Mandiwanzira said. “Given the amount of appetite (for cash)
out there, MPs are not fallible, they are also human beings. Are we not
creating an opportunity for MPs?”
The fund, Mandiwanzira added, would create a “mini-authority” that would
result in duplication of roles between local authorities and the new fund.
Under the fund, according to Biti, lawmakers are expected to play their
“leadership role” in the planning and execution of those local and
“community projects with immediate impact on the livelihood of the
Presenting the 2010 National Budget on Wednesday last week, Biti however
said: “The Constituency Development Fund is not intended to replace or
compete with local authority structures and ministries decentralised
structure. Furthermore the CDF shall not be a parallel structure to any of
the established structures but a mere vehicle in respect of which an elected
MP has an opportunity to make and deliver real change to the local
The CDF, according to Biti, will be chaired by the respective MP with
elected councillors being members of the committee. The local senator will
be an ex-official member of the committee.
He said “strict accountability measures” would be taken to prevent the abuse
of the money.
Meanwhile, the House of Assembly on Wednesday passed with no amendments the
US$2,25 billion 2010 National Budget. MPs however were concerned that Biti
did not consult them as representatives of the people before coming up with
Thursday, 10 December 2009 19:24
NOVEMBER 2008 still remains a dark month for the Dziruni family in Glen
Norah B. It is now a year since they lost two daughters on the same day to a
preventable and treatable water-borne disease -- cholera.
They still cannot come to terms with how cholera that is viewed by many as a
minor disease took two family members in just a few hours of each other.
The family was engulfed in anguish mourning over the death of their two
daughters Maria (24) and Bridget Dziruni (21).
Mike Dziruni, the deceased's uncle, suspects the dirty water from their taps
caused their sickness.
Glen Norah B, a heavily-populated low-income suburb about 15 km west of the
capital Harare, last year had raw sewage flowing in the streets with heaps
of uncollected rubbish posing a great health risk during the rainy season.
Maria was the first to fall sick and was taken to Budiriro Polyclinic near
the suburb, Bridget a few hours later complained of stomach pains and was
Unfortunately neither of them could fight on and succumbed to the disease
the following day despite the efforts of the clinic staff.
Apart from the pain of losing their daughters the family -- for a while --
faced ostracism from the community as they were labelled "the cholera
family", as people feared that they would spread it.
This time last year 10 000 people had been affected by the cholera outbreak
and by February this year almost 5 000 people had died nationwide.
Out of the 62 districts in the country 55 were affected with almost 100 000
cases being reported. To make matters worse doctors and nurses were on
strike and there was a serious shortage of drugs. This prompted some
patients to flee to the border town of Musina in South Africa to get medical
But this year things seem to have changed: the United Nations (UN) says this
is because of the inclusive government that has led to greater co-operation
between the international humanitarian community and the government of
Zimbabwe. This has led to an improvement in the country's socio-economic
situation, in addition to improved humanitarian access to vulnerable
Cholera for instance, the UN says, this year has only affected 145 people
since September. Improvements have also been noted in hospitals nationwide;
Shamva district hospital in Mashonaland Central and Zhombe district hospital
in the Midlands are good examples.
UN assistant secretary general for humanitarian affairs and deputy emergency
relief coordinator Catherine Bragg was quite pleased with what she said was
an improvement in the humanitarian crisis as compared to last year though
the situation was still very "fragile".
Bragg said: "The past few months have seen a significant improvement in the
humanitarian crisis. Challenges are still plenty; there is still a
humanitarian situation in the country. Despite improvements 1,9 million
people still need food aid at the peak of the 2010 hunger season
"Cholera re-emerged in October and Zimbabwe's HIV/Aids prevalence rate is
one of the highest in the world despite a recent drop to 13,7%. Some 1,2
million live with the virus and 343 600 adults and 35 200 children under the
age of 15 urgently need antiretroviral treatment. There are six million
people without access to clean water and sanitation while 33% of children
under five years are chronically malnourished."
With the listed humanitarian problems faced by the country, the highest
requirement in the Zimbabwe Consolidated Appeals Process (CAP) 2010 launched
this week, is for agriculture which required US$100 million to assist about
650 000 communal farmers.
The attention on the agriculture sector was CAP 2010's aim to align itself
with the government's Short-Term Economic Recovery Programme (STERP) and
include early recovery and humanitarian plus interventions.
The health sector requested US$63 million while the food requirement was
US$58 million; and water and sanitation required US$46 million.
The total funding requested by 76 appealing agencies including UN agencies,
inter-governmental organisations, international and local non-governmental
organisations was close to US$380 million.
However, the Zimbabwe Association of Doctors for Human Rights chairman
Douglas Gwatidzo said it was a big mistake to give top priority to
agriculture ahead of health as the latter still needed the greatest
attention. Gwatidzo said: "The health sector as we speak right now is in the
doldrums. It is one of those institutions that has not realised any
meaningful assistance. There is a lot that is in dire need of attention,
from infrastructure to equipment, drugs and even hospital staff.
"The country at the moment is not in a position to attract even a single
specialist from outside the country. So who is going to run those hospitals
to keep them functioning. People are making a big mistake sidelining this
At $358 million, the Health ministry was allocated the highest amount of
money in the 2010 budget.
Gwatidzo said for a nation to generate income there has to be a good
investment in the health of the people.
"People are becoming obsessed with income generation of which for a good
income there has to be a good investment in the human resource especially in
the health of a person. For those fields to be ploughed and to produce a
bumper harvest healthy people are needed.
"There are so many diseases affecting agricultural workers. The nation is
full of sick people. How will we be able to make them work? We need healthy
people to generate that income," he said.
A political analyst who preferred anonymity was of the opinion that there
was need for a positive improvement in the political framework to get more
assistance from donor countries and for a successful shift from being
dependent to being independent.
He said: "As long as the political framework is such that it does not
inspire confidence then there is very little support coming through."
Nango director Cephas Zihumwe at the launch bemoaned the inconsistencies
that characterised some of the donor partners whom he accused of at times
delaying the assistance.
"It is not good to continue begging; we want to do our own thing as a
country and this requires full participation of the government and the
NGOs," he said.
Mark Harper, representing international NGOs, said he was displeased by the
decreased amount of funding from last year's appeal but raised an issue that
programmes to fight gender-based violence were under-funded in the country.
Harper said: "We are moving forward as a country. The increased level of
funding for development facilities is to enable Zimbabwe to stand on its own
According to UN Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs the
2009 CAP for Zimbabwe was for $719 million but it only received 64% of the
requested funding, and the 2010 appeal remains aligned to government's
strategic plans for economic recovery.
Life has moved on for the Dziruni family though Mary and Bridget remain in
their memories. Nobody wants to see a repetition of what happened last year.
Thursday, 10 December 2009 19:21
THE 2010 National Budget, presented to parliament by Finance minister Tendai
Biti last week has been largely welcomed by many right-thinking and
progressive Zimbabweans. There is no doubt that Biti tried his level best
under very difficult circumstances to come up with a budget that strikes a
good balance between the key budget strategic objectives of stabilisation,
equitable growth and reconstruction.
The 2010 Budget has been presented against the background of a major review
of the legal and policy framework governing public finance management. The
Public Finance Management Bill (PFMB) and the Audit Office Bill currently
before parliament are important instruments to strengthen the use of public
resources and accountability.
Parliament has a major role to play in ensuring that the resources approved
are used productively and that set objectives and targets are realised.
There are provisions in the PFMB that will empower parliament and its
portfolio committees to meaningfully participate in the budget process
provided that those powers are exercised and legislators demonstrate
commitment to their core legislative functions of law-making, executive
oversight and representation.
The Minister of Finance is quoted in the Hansard of December 1 as saying
"the other thing which we have had is the process that there is no
obligation on the executive to consult formally this august House on the
formulation of the Budget. In the amendments that we propose, we are making
it obligatory and imperative for the executive to consult and discuss with
relevant committees on the formulation of the Budget".
This is certainly a revolutionary approach to Budget crafting. For a long
time, parliament has been a spectator when it comes to budget formulation.
While it is accepted that formulation of the Budget is largely a preserve of
the executive, it is important that the representative body of the people is
fully consulted during the process.
Unfortunately, past ministers of Finance and their bureaucrats paid lip
service to consultation because there was nothing that compelled them to do
so. Any consultation carried out was cosmetic in nature. Now that it is
going to be a legal requirement to consult, we hope that the legislature
will fully exercise its mandate in that regard.
What is also important to note is that the new law requires that for each
vote of expenditure laid before parliament, a statement of the outputs
expected and the performance criteria to be met in providing those outputs
has also to be laid before the House.
All this is part of efforts to make the Budget results-based. Spelling out
expected outputs for each vote will enable parliament and its portfolio
committees to closely monitor the performance of the budget and ask the
right questions when targets are missed.
Monitoring budget implementation is an important function for parliament
because this is when legislators determine to what extent the budget is
realising set objectives and that there are tangible benefits accruing to
Sections 33 and 34 of the PFMB deal with reporting requirements to
parliament. Section 33 (2) says "every accounting officer shall submit
quarterly financial statements and reports to his/her minister for his/her
submission to the appropriate parliamentary portfolio committee, within 60
days of the respective quarter".
Section 34 (2) says "every accounting officer shall submit monthly financial
statements and reports to his/her minister for his/her submission to the
appropriate parliamentary portfolio committee within 30 days of the
This again is a major development that should be celebrated by all keen to
see a greater role for the legislature in the Budget process. These
provisions are in line with best practice, and the Minister of Finance must
be commended for taking heed of what parliament has been advocating over the
One of the main reasons why parliament has poorly participated in the Budget
process in the past is lack of detailed, timely and relevant information on
Budget performance made available to portfolio committees.
The quarterly and monthly financial reports will certainly bridge that
information gap, with the onus left to the various committees to organise
themselves properly and scrutinise these reports and engage ministries on
any issues that may arise.
We should not forget however that a law on its own is not sufficient to
promote a greater role for parliament in the Budget process. We have
numerous examples of laws that are in place but not enforced. In some
instances, the laws have been abused to satisfy other narrow interests.
The other major determinant for the effective participation by legislators
in this whole public finance management framework is institutional capacity
within parliament to scrutinise the various monthly and quarterly reports
and raise issues with ministries.
Though parliament may wield measurable legal powers and the political space
to shape budgets, analytical capacity remains critical to making sound
budgetary choices. Parliament therefore needs to have access to independent
information and analysis on the budget, through its own research services,
complemented by independent think tanks, the private sector and academia.
Participation in formulation and implementation will require that MPs have
basic exposure to public finance.
Many parliaments have set up parliamentary budget offices to address the
question of capacity.
Such offices have been set up by an Act of parliament in order to give them
enough teeth and ensure their operational independence.
The major objective of parliamentary budget offices is to supply the
legislature with simplified expert analysis and impact assessment of budget
proposals. Such an analytic unit can simplify complexity for members,
promote transparency, enhance budget credibility and promote accountability.
The parliamentary budget office, staffed by highly experienced and qualified
personnel in economics and public finance, can produce the following
outputs for MPs:
* Regular parliamentary appropriations series and government budgetary
* Timely assessments of budget versus actual performance;
* Assessments of the business case for large projects, programmes and
the capital votes;
* Regular weekly and quarterly economic and fiscal updates to
* Research papers on budget transparency, expenditure management and
government operations; and
* In-depth or brief analysis as requested by committees and/or
Some of the robust debates witnessed so far on the Reserve Bank Amendment
Bill and the excellent work done by the Budget, Finance and Investment
Promotion and Public Accounts committees on the PFMB and Audit Office Bill,
are encouraging signs that the seventh parliament is not prepared to be used
to rubber-stamp executive decisions.
Legislators must maintain this momentum to the budget process. The
effectiveness of this parliament will be judged on the degree to which it is
able to take advantage of the new legal regime and cement its role in the
formulation and implementation of the national budget.
Parliament must therefore use the National Budget as a powerful instrument
to debate and establish political priorities and resource allocations that
directly enhance people's lives.
John Makamure is the Executive Director of the Southern African
Parliamentary Support Trust.
By John Makamure
Thursday, 10 December 2009 18:39
DO MPs play any significant role in the development of their constituencies
or are they mere political figureheads?
This question would, in a normal political setting, be rhetorical, but the
failure to hold by-elections in constituencies robbed of representation by
death or because members were fired has made it relevant.
Currently there are nine vacant seats and Justice George Chiweshe, chairman
of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC), the body that is mandated to run
elections, said in August they had no money for by-elections. This means
these constituencies may wait until the next elections, after the
constitution-making process, before they get representation.
To make matters worse, vacant constituencies would not benefit anytime soon
from the Constituency Development Fund (CDF) that will become operational in
January. An MP will chair a committee that will administer the fund.
It is expected that the MP for a constituency would make assessments on
developmental needs and then apply for the funds and then implement the
The CDF has an allocation of US$8 million to cater for the 210
constituencies and the amounts given would depend on the needs of each area.
Projects which are likely to be implemented under the fund include sinking
of boreholes to improve water supply and sanitation, repairing of schools
and setting up nutrition gardens.
But the projects should not interfere with the operations of local
What this means is that the six constituencies whose MPs died and the three
parliamentary seats where MDC-M legislators were fired would literally be
left in the cold as they would not be able to benefit from this fund no
matter how dire their needs may be.
MPs who have died are John Nyamande (MDC-T) for Makoni Central, Cornelius
Dube (MDC-T) for Emakhandeni–Entumbane, Charles Pemhenayi (Zanu PF) for
Mutare North, Cletus Mabharanga (Zanu PF) for Guruve North, Ephrem Mushoriwa
(Zanu PF) for Gokwe-Gumunyu and Elliot Manyika (Zanu PF) for Bindura North.
Three other MPs, namely Abednico Bhebhe (Nkayi South), Norman Mpofu
(Bulilima East) and Njabuliso Mguni (Lupane East) who won on the MDC-M
ticket, were unseated in July this year.
According to Section 39 of the Electoral Act, the Speaker or the President
of the Senate is supposed to notify the President as soon as possible after
he/she becomes aware of a vacancy.
The president then publishes a notice in the Government Gazette within 14
days after he has been notified of the vacancy ordering a new election to
fill the seat.
Nomination court of candidates will sit not less than 14 days or more than
21 days after the publication of the proclamation. An election date will
then be set not less than 28 days and not more than 50 days after the
nomination of candidates.
Most of the vacant constituencies are in rural areas which are expected to
be the biggest beneficiaries of CDF given that the district councils which
should undertake developmental projects are currently incapacitated.
“If we are serious about development at the constituency level, then we
should be ashamed by what has been happening since the first death of an MP
immediately after the election last year,” said a political science
lecturer. “It may be a case of a very weak electorate which is being
trampled on by a carnivorous central government which is taking advantage of
the loopholes in our democracy and in my humble opinion, it is the
constituencies which will suffer.”
Another political commentator who is also the director for the Centre for
Community Development, Phillip Pasirayi, said the continued lack of
representation in the nine constituencies was a clear sign of how
overweening the state had become at the expense of the populace.
“From a civic society point of view, we are saying we should challenge
government so that elections are held,” said Pasirayi. “A delay in holding
elections is a clear sign of denying the people of their suffrage.”
Pasirayi said the problem was that of “negotiated debates” where everything
was left to the three negotiating parties, Zanu PF, MDC-T and MDC-M, which
went against the doctrine of the separation of power.
Analysts feel that one of the problems with the political set-up in the
country is that a shadow MP or even minister does not have much of a role to
play and they usually become visible only during campaigning.
Bhebhe, the former MP for Nkayi South, said while he has been fired by his
party, thus denying his constituency of representation, he has continued
with the programmes he had initiated.
“There are a number of programmes which I have continued to undertake in the
constituency because I believe that it was the people who gave me the
mandate to work with them,” said Bhebhe.
“As far as I am concerned, I should continue working with the people and as
you may be aware we have sunk a borehole among other developmental projects
I have undertaken.”
While things may be slightly better for the Nkayi South constituency because
Bhebhe may still be interested in participating in an election, the same
cannot be said about the other eight.
It may be a case of projects dying with their implementers as those
interested in contesting elections may not be coming in the open as they are
not aware of when the elections would be held.
This has led some to say that the country should adopt other forms of
representation which will take into account the problems faced at the
Suggestions were made for Zimbabwe to move from the first-past-the post
(winner takes all) type of election and adopt proportional representation
where an MP who dies or is dismissed is replaced by someone from the same
party without going for election.
Under proportional representation, a party prepares a list and they are
allocated seats on the basis of how the party performed. If, for example, a
party wins 50% of the vote in an election, they would get half the number of
available seats until the next election.
Should an MP die, then his/her party would appoint another one without going
for election which makes it cheaper than having an election each time there
is a death or dismissal.
However, there are problems which are also associated with this system as
the preparation of a list of MPs may be subject to manipulation and
patronage as preferred political actors may be pushed on top even if they
did not have grassroots support.
A political science lecturer at the University of Zimbabwe who asked for
anonymity said when Finance minister Tendai Biti announced the introduction
of the CDF, it exposed those responsible for administering elections for
sleeping on duty.
“There may be many problems with the running of the elections as was said by
ZEC, when they said they did not have the funds to hold elections but the
importance of the elections should take precedence over other issues,” he
“What is even more worrying is that the three parties are hushed when it
comes to constituencies which have been affected yet they account for a
significant fraction of the entire lower House.”
Thursday, 10 December 2009 18:10
SOUTH Africa's fixed-line telephone operator, Telkom, is seeking to buy a
significant stake in TelOne, businessdigest has established. Information
Communication Technology minister Nelson Chamisa confirmed on Monday that
Telkom was talking to TelOne, a state-owned telephone operator.
Chamisa did not say how much shareholding the South African group would get
in TelOne, but Telkom was reportedly eyeing a 60% stake.
Last month, Telkom's group executive for corporate development Mike Mlengana
told South African news portal, ITWeb, that the company remained on the
lookout for acquisition opportunities in Africa.
Zimbabwe has one of the lowest fixed and mobile telecommunications
penetration rates on the continent.
Frost & Sullivan, a global business research and consulting firm, estimated
that last year the country had 1,654 million mobile subscribers, less than
10% of the total population.
Sources said Telkom had already conducted a due diligence examination on the
loss-making TelOne. Over the years the company has not been able to fund
TelOne is in dire need of capital in order to upgrade aged network and
expand its market.
However, raising capital had been a hurdle given the political and
macro-economic environment and legislation limiting foreign ownership of
Zimbabwean companies to 49%.
TelOne last month admitted restricting calls from landlines to mobile
operators to reduce its debts. TelOne owed more than US$22 million to mobile
operators in interconnection fees.
Interconnection fees are paid between operators to allow cross-network
calls. It is not clear if TelOne has settled this debt.
According to TelOne managing director, Hampton Mhlanga, a cabinet decision
to force the company to slash its tariffs earlier in the year did not help
the telephone operator.
The directive, Mhlanga said, plunged the parastatal deeper into debt. Its
obligations to other telecommunications operators and the Zimbabwe Revenue
Authority (Zimra) had ballooned following the directive, Mhlanga told a
Under the interconnection arrangement between telecommunications operators,
operators pay each other for traffic between their networks. For instance,
if a TelOne customer calls a mobile operator, TelOne pays that operator
US$0,07 per minute. Because Econet is the largest operator, with over two
million subscribers compared to TelOne's 300 000, most of the outbound
traffic from TelOne is heading into Econet. This means its interconnection
obligations to Econet and other operators, who are expanding their
subscriber bases, were always rising.
Should, Telkom go ahead to invest in TelOne, the company would have to
expunge debts and invest millions into capital expenditure.
The company said it was collecting about 15% of its bills from customers,
yet Zimra demanded tax returns to be based on what the company billed, and
not what it actually collected.
Already, the company has cut off defaulting customers in a move management
hopes would limit liabilities. TelOne said it would use part of the funds to
revamp some of its equipment which was either vandalised or now dilapidated.
Thursday, 10 December 2009 18:09
LONZIM, a long-term investment company with a diverse portfolio in the
country, last week raised US$1,9 million for its operations in Zimbabwe. The
amount was raised last Friday through the placing of 4 255 525 shares at
US$0,40 a share.
The money raised was meant to "ensure that the LonZim investee companies
have access to working capital to continue to run their businesses in a
commercial and professional manner as economic growth returns to the
important market sectors where the firm operates".
David Lenigas, executive chairman of LonZim, said they were growing their
business in the country as the economy was showing signs of recovery.
"The signs of economic growth in Zimbabwe are now tangible," said Lenigas.
"LonZim is well placed with its established portfolio of businesses,
purchased over the past two years, to be a part of the economic recovery
underway in Zimbabwe. LonZim businesses have retained quality staff,
maintained their operations and been prepared for recovery and are now
focusing on substantial growth for 2010."
LonZim said shares were unconditionally placed pending their admission to
trade on AIM. AIM is the London Stock Exchange's international market for
smaller growing companies.
Application was made for admission of the placing shares to trading on AIM.
Placing shares will altogether represent approximately 12% of the LonZim's
enlarged issued share capital and the number of shares in issue following
completion of the placing would be 36 331 525.
LonZim, which was formed two years ago, has been growing its portfolio and
now includes Fly540 Zimbabwe, a domestic low cost airline which is scheduled
to fly the local skies next week.
Apart from the airline, LonZim also owns 51% of Panafmed after it invested
US$2,3 million in the new start up business that imports, wholesales and
distributes pharmaceutical products in the country.
LonZim also controls Leopard Rock Motel, Paynet, Cellsys and Millpal
In Mozambique, the company plans to develop the Don Carlos and the Estoril
Hotel sites into a luxury hotels with conference facilities, a training
centre, retail mall, offices and logistics units.
In October, LonZim announced that it was eyeing a local five-star hotel as
it continues to add various investments under its portfolio.
Thursday, 10 December 2009 18:06
THE Zimbabwe National Roads Authority (Zinara) has accused the Zimbabwe
National Revenue Authority (Zimra) of lacking transparency in the collection
and remittance of tolls since their introduction in August. Tollgates dotted
around the country have so far raised US$5,3 million.
The money from the gates was meant to resurface roads, patch up potholes and
finance the construction of temporary shelters at the designated tollgate
points. To date not even a kilometre of the country's highways has been
repaired due to the dispute between Zinara and Zimra.
Zimra collects tolls on behalf of Zinara, but the roads authority officials
are not part to teams who police the gates.
Frank Chitukutuku, Zinara chief executive officer, said lack of a mechanism
for the authority to monitor and control the fees inflows presented
challenges for accounting and control purposes.
"There is no mechanism for Zinara to monitor and control the inflows, for
example, the printing of tickets," he said. "For accounting and control
purposes, Zinara should procure and record the tickets and then allocate
them to Zimra."
Chitukutuku is proposing that permanent toll gates be constructed through a
public-private partnership on a build, operate-and transfer basis.
Speaking during a question and answer session in parliament last month,
Finance minister Tendai Biti said: "I need to say that there should be
methods to make sure that the tollgate fees collections are more
transparent. Cabinet should make sure that leakages are minimised."
The country presently has 22 tollgates whose rudimentary structures
reportedly need urgent attention.
Light vehicles are charged US$1 at the toll gates. Buses pay US$3 and
lorries pay US$5.
According to the Transport ministry, of the total money collected, 90% has
been remitted to Zinara with the remaining 10% being retained as
Chitukutuku said there was continued discontent and scepticism by road users
about tolls being levied and collected by Zimra, which has been empowered to
do so by Statutory Instruments 39 and 122.
Transport and Infrastructural Development ministry secretary, Partson
Mbiriri, was last week quoted saying monthly toll collections ranged between
US$1,2 million to US$1,4 million but he noted that the amount was too little
to repair the trunk roads most of which need over US$600 000 a km for
repairs or resurfacing.
According to a report by the World Bank released last month, Zinara is
mandated to manage the road maintenance fund including the setting of
road-user tariff levels, collection of the funds, disbursement of the funds
to road agencies and the monitoring of the usage of such funds.
"The key fund raising instruments have been fuel levy, transit fees,
overload fees and abnormal load fees," the World Bank said.
Fuel levy accounts for 45% of Zinara's revenue and has been the main source
of revenue for the authority
"The introduction of toll gates in August and the decision to remit vehicle
licensing fees to Zinara will significantly boost the road-user revenues,"
said the World Bank.
Total projected revenue for 2009 is US$15 million. A total of US$12 million
was to be allocated to the road agencies, with 31% of the funds going to the
department of roads, 34% to rural district councils, 16% to urban councils
and 19% to the District Development Fund.
In a brief breakdown of what the money raised from motorists has been used
for, the transport ministry recently said the construction of the
provisional toll gate shelters was already under tender.
The ministry said five of the country's tollgates would be widened at a cost
of US$620 000; eight provinces would share US$1 million for routine
maintenance of regional and primary roads where the toll gates are
positioned. US$280 000 would be used for resurfacing eight km of the
Bulawayo-Beitbridge road; US$54 782 is being used on traffic counts being
carried out at toll gates as means of verifying the fees being collected by
the Zimra and the rest has been earmarked for constructing temporary
shelters at the sites.
Currently, it costs US$600 00 to rehabilitate one km of tarred road.
According to the World Bank report, there are 88 300 km of classified roads
of which about 15 000 are paved. 5% of the network is classified as primary
roads and has some of the most traffick arterials that link Zimbabwe with
It is estimated that the entire road network would require US$1,8 billion or
5% of the road asset value to restore it to good condition and an additional
US$160 million annually for maintenance.
Thursday, 10 December 2009 17:58
AN important attribute of any budget is that tax revenues must cover
recurrent expenditures. If tax revenues are not enough to cover recurrent
expenditures it means the country is living beyond its means and will
develop serious economic challenges and eventually import more while its
domestic and foreign debts continue to rise, as has been the case with
Zimbabwe since 2000.
Analysts said for the first time in over nine years, the primary budget was
positive at US$76,3 million. This is for the first 10 months of the year.
Even the total budget balance is US$47,9 million. This means Zimbabwe has
been living within its means through “eating what we kill or gather”.
Kingdom Stock Brokers (KSB) however said the current 2009 budget had one big
“It is not sustainable because the capital budget is extremely low. Having
planned to raise the capital budget to at least 18%, the 2009 budget outturn
for the period to October 31 has produced a laughable 4%, which means 96%
went to recurrent expenditure,” KSB said.
KSB said a capital budget that is continuously being squeezed by recurrent
expenditure does not promote national investment through gross fixed capital
They said the budget ceases to be growth-promoting and fiscal policy will
definitely fail to positively impact the macroeconomic objectives.
“We are living within our means but we are not investing in infrastructure
to provide an enabling environment for business to thrive so that the tax
base and tax revenue rise, making it easier to finance the secondary deficit
which is created by expenditure on capital projects,” said KSB.
Analysts said the “worrying” aspect about the 2009 budget is that a greater
portion of the recurrent expenditure are employment costs such as wages and
salaries which constitute about 60% of total costs.
Given that these costs are non-discretionary, Finance minister Tendai Biti
has little room to manoeuvre which, means Zimbabwe is likely to experience
the same structure being perpetuated in the 2010 Budget and beyond.
The ideal split between recurrent and capital budget should be at least
75-25% with a bias towards the capital budget.
Surprisingly the 2007 budget performed well on the capital budget. This
probably reflects the massive farm mechanisation drive that government
pursued although a large chunk of it was financed outside the budget through
quasi-fiscal activities of the Reserve Bank.
Using this analytical thrust, the 2010 budget will perform badly on the
primary budget as it shows a deficit of US$238, 2 million but is well on the
capital budget of 22,42% of total expenditure.
Zimbabwe Allied Banking Group (ZABG) said the cardinal rule which must be
observed at all times is that a country must not live beyond its means.
“It is okay to have an overall deficit as long as the primary budget balance
is positive because it means the deficit has been incurred through the
capital expenditures which promote growth,” ZABG said.
This puts a question on the cash-budgeting policy. Biti expects to finance
the deficit of US$810 million through support from donors.
Questions have been raised as to what guarantees, there are that he will get
the support which amounts to 36% of the budget given that the international
community has demanded progress on the political front, especially the full
implementation of the Global Political Agreement before they can loosen
The observation by Biti that the bulk of our taxes are coming from indirect
instead of direct sources is a worrisome economic anomaly.
Indirect taxes are placed on goods and services whilst direct taxes are
levied on income and wealth. Since indirect taxes are paid only when a
particular purchase is made, they are therefore taxes on consumption hence
they are also called outlay taxes.
An increase in indirect taxes shows an increase in consumption by the
On the other hand direct taxes are taxes on production as income and wealth
can only be earned by engaging oneself in productive ways. An increase in
direct taxes indicates an increase in economic activity and vice-versa.
“Zimbabwe is a nation of consumers because government is getting most of its
revenue from indirect taxes and less from direct taxes. Indirect taxes such
as Value Added Tax (Vat), customs and excise duties, constituted 75% of
total government revenue during the 2009 whereas direct taxes such as Pay As
You Earn accounted for only 19%,” said KBS.
According to the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe, the economy’s deposit base is
estimated at US$1,061 billion as at October 31 2009. It remains too low for
financial institutions to effectively execute their intermediary role on the
Contributing to the thin deposit base is a decrease in the savings due to
low disposable incomes coupled with financial disintermediation emanating
from the now unshakable informal economy.
Low interest rates on deposits of between 0% and 3% do not encourage one to
keep their money in a bank as the opportunity cost is very low.
According to the Reserve Bank the reasons for the decline in savings have
been complicated by the fact that about 90% of the total deposits are
transitory in nature and cannot be utilised by financial institutions to
create long term-credit for the deficit units.
Analysts said the budget could be used to restructure asset and liabilities
of financial institutions so that they become long-term through floating
longer-dated stock to finance the deficits in a bid to match the long-term
funding requirements of industry.
Thursday, 10 December 2009 18:46
LET’S hope Botswana doesn’t feel intimidated by the abuse being hurled at it
about “pirate” radio stations. It may be useful to remind ourselves of the
context here. In 2000 the Supreme Court struck down ZBC’s monopoly of the
airwaves. A handful of broadcasters attempted to set up a private station
but were raided by police and their equipment confiscated.
They subsequently relocated to the UK where they set up a radio station, SW
There is nothing “pirate” about this station or any of the others. They are
licensed under the laws of the countries hosting them. The employees have
been driven to work abroad because of their treatment here. Even though the
GPA has opened the way to their return, the minister has not given an
undertaking about their safety. This is a pertinent issue given the threats
made against them in the past.
As Gerry Jackson, who set up SW Radio Africa, comments in this week’s
Standard: “Our broadcasts on shortwave and via the Internet are completely
legal and we want nothing more than a free, peaceful, democratic Zimbabwe.
“And yes, we do believe that Zimbabweans have an absolute right to the
information that has been denied to them for so long.
“If you want to get rid of radio stations broadcasting into Zimbabwe, free
the media. Really free it. It really is that simple…”
“Will you please start talking about the real issues. You have a population
that’s desperate, investors ready to throw money at Zimbabwe the minute
there is a guaranteed return to the rule of law, respect for property
rights, an end to political intimidation and the massive human rights
abuses — and Gideon Gono and Johannes Tomana really do have to go.”
Then we had some incredibly ignorant and stupid remarks on the Botswana
issue from somebody called Dr Maxwell Hove. He said Botswana’s stance was
not surprising given that country’s history.
He said that Botswana’s history did not fall in the same bracket as other
Sadc members “who got independence through protracted wars against white
racist regimes”. Botswana got its independence by negotiation, he declared,
as if that was some form of treachery!
And how did Zambia, Lesotho, Swaziland, Tanzania, Malawi, and Mauritius get
their independence, Dr Maxwell? We don’t recall any of them fighting
“protracted wars” against white racist regimes.
It is noteworthy how little Zanu PF’s facile rhetoric on fighting wars is
shared by its neighbours. Ask them what they think of Zanu PF’s “brave
stance” against imperialism and they will simply laugh.
Malawi, one of the poorest countries on the continent, exports food to
Zimbabwe. Botswana doesn’t need lectures from these delusional misfits in
Harare. Botswana is a success story, these guys commenting in the Herald are
failures. Doesn’t that say it all?
See how Botswana manages its diamond resources and compare that with the
disaster at Chiadzwa. That is Zanu PF’s barren legacy.
After 30 years they still can’t provide a professional radio and television
service. Until they do, the nation will look to external stations for its
Still on the subject of the media, why does parliament allow only
photographers and TV crews from the state media into the chamber during
presentation of the Budget and why have MDC ministers not said anything
about this unacceptable discriminatory practice.
Everywhere there are pockets of resistance to the new order. Zanu PF is for
instance exclusively conducting foreign policy and using the Foreign Affairs
ministry to fire broadsides at real or imagined enemies. The Czech Republic
has recently been in the firing line for inviting prospective diplomats to
Prague. The Czech Republic and other EU members need to tell overweening
officials in the Foreign Affairs ministry very politely to get lost. They
represent the losers in the old regime which is doing everything it can to
block change. Please stop indulging their pathetic squeals of protest.
It was good to see in the midst of these complaints Morgan Tsvangirai
striding down a red carpet in Tripoli inspecting a guard of honour,
accompanied by his Libyan counterpart. He was received by army and police
chiefs on this his first official visit to North Africa.
Obviously the visit had President Mugabe’s blessing but one couldn’t help
ponder how things have changed since this time last year when MDC and civic
officials were being picked up and tortured.
What the MDC-T needs to do now is publish its agenda for reform instead of
trying to propitiate Mugabe by saying nothing. Is it acceptable to remain
silent when a majority of voters demand change? Why are Posa, Aippa and the
Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act still on the statute book; why
have torturers gone uninvestigated and unpunished; what has happened to
Joseph Mwale?; why are the Herald and ZBC still instruments of reaction and
purveyors of ignorance?
Would it really hurt for the majority party to set out its political stall?
Don’t the public have a right to know their plans — if any? If the Senate
insists on blocking legislation emanating from the lower House then let’s
witness them doing just that so the nation can see the face of the beast!
So the “Look East” policy appears to be less successful than we have been
led to believe. The only time Zimbabwe recorded a trade surplus with China
this year was in February, the Standard reported this week. CSO data for
October shows that Zimbabwe only exported goods worth US$487 719 but
imported goods worth US$6,7 million in the same month.
Still with the economy, while official commentators say Zimbabwe enjoys
negative inflation, evidence on the ground suggests otherwise. The numbers
are moving up — some not so slowly, a survey suggests.
Tinned goods from South Africa are creeping up in price with no apparent
justification. So are locally produced products. A pie in TM that cost US$1
a few weeks ago, recently went up to $1,30 and is now $1,55.
Castrol motor oil is going for US$820 for 210 litres when the landed cost is
The Prices Commission that was quick to prosecute retailers last year is
invisible in the current hikes.
Most of the price rises are opportunistic and simply not justified by
increased costs. A local real estate company is hiking its rents by $50 a
month as a routine procedure. And while we wish Finance minister Tendai Biti’s
Budget can deliver 7% growth, it cannot happen when dependent upon an
agricultural recovery programme that is sabotaged by land seizures.
Just as a matter of interest, how many farms has Ignatious Chombo acquired
over the past 10 years?
We would also be keen to know, on another subject, how many people will
accompany President Mugabe to Copenhagen next week?
Sixty we gather.
Zimbabwe is in desperate need of international funding for its very
survival. And here is Mugabe taking, we understand, his family, cabinet
ministers with no known record of interest in climate change, officials, and
other hangers on. MDC ministers will be among those scrambling aboard the
presidential flight which should be named “Gravy One”.
What sort of signal does this send to the international community? What does
this say of the country’s priorities?
Finally, we were intrigued by Joseph Chinotimba’s letter to the editor last
week. Why was it published in the Herald when it was addressed to this paper
and concerned matters published here? And — coming from Chinotimba — how
come it didn’t have a single spelling mistake?
The answer is obvious. The Herald gave it away by placing the letter in the
space normally reserved for letters emanating from, how shall we say, spooky
and subterranean sources. And the fact that it didn’t contain a single error
from a writer whose education was interrupted by war service would tend to
indicate that it was not entirely his own work.
We also have to bear in mind that this is the same man who told a court
regarding his relations with other politicians that: “On the surface we
appear to be in good books but we lie to each other a lot.”
Thursday, 10 December 2009 18:42
IN formulating Zimbabwe's 2010 National Budget, Minister of Finance Tendai
Biti was confronted with a horrendously difficult task. Government is
bankrupt (as recently openly admitted by Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai)
and opportunities of access to revenue are very limited.
Although 2009 has indisputably witnessed some significant economic recovery
developments, that recovery is not yet so extensive as to yield substantial
inflows to the fiscus.
In contradistinction, the monetary needs of government are immense, and
especially so if government is to rapidly minimise the magnitude of
suffering within Zimbabwe, and is to stimulate ongoing and rapid economic
Bearing in mind the greatly constricting and demanding circumstances
confronting the minister, the budget that he presented to parliament last
week must be commended as being very comprehensive and substantially sound.
But that does not detract from the fact that there are some material
deficiencies and omissions in that budget, many of which could have been
addressed, and inevitably one must ponder on the calibre and capability of
some of the minister's advisors, for they apparently failed to focus his
attention on those deficiencies and omissions.
The resultant conclusion of in-depth consideration for Biti's 2010 Budget is
that it is similar to the title of a renowned movie of yesteryear: The Good,
The Bad, and The Ugly.
What were the ugliest features of the budget? Undoubtedly the foremost of
those features was that he accorded the harshly oppressed low-level wage
earners a ludicrously contemptuous increase in the threshold of individual
income tax of US$10, from US$150 to US$160.
In October (the most recently available Consumer Price Index data being for
that month), the Poverty Datum Line for a family of six was approximately
Assuming such family has two income earners, generating income in a 3:2
ratio, one would have an income of marginally under US$300, and the other an
income approximating US$200.
Thus the minister sees it fit to levy direct tax from those who are
desperately struggling for the survival of themselves and their families,
and to intensify their immense hardships and distress, with a virtually
meaningless concession, reducing their devastating tax burden by a niggardly
US$2 per income earner.
Another ugly feature of the budget is that it contains very little to
encourage the much needed investment which would be a key catalyst of
It contains no investment incentives whatsoever, and no incentives to
stimulate employment. Instead, it reduces the first year capital
expenditure allowances for businesses (SIA) from 50% to 25%, foreshadows
discontinuance of export market development expenditure incentives in 2011,
and berates the mining sector, concurrently with increased imposts upon that
sector, and that with disregard for the extent that mining can accelerate
Yet another ugly feature of the minister's budget statement is the absence
of any policies to bring about public private-sector partnerships, being
partial privatisations of parastatals, or to facilitate total
Without such actions, it is inevitable that Zimbabwe will continue to
suffer, extensive, interruptions in energy supplies, erratic and defective
telecommunications, appallingly poor rail services, air service deficiencies
and similar inadequacies from other parastatal service providers.
Not as ugly, but nevertheless bad, were some other budgetary features.
The level of bonuses not subject to taxation was set at a miniscule US$400.
The tens of thousands of employees struggling to fund the basic needs of
their families and themselves, including rents and utilities, food,
transport, health care and education, were anxiously hoping for some
temporary relief from year-end bonuses, but now know that little of those
bonuses will escape the income tax noose.
Moreover, greater generosity by the minister would not have been of
substantial cost to the fiscus. The bonus recipients would have had greater
disposable income, as a result of lesser incidence of income tax, and the
fiscus would benefit from enhanced indirect taxes (Vat, customs duties etc)
on the increased spending of the bonus-receiving employees, and as a result
of improved income tax flows on the greater profits attainable by commerce
and industry as a result of the greater spending by the bonus-recipients.
Another tragic feature of the Budget is that the minister has extended the
date for payment by businesses of Vat by a "grandiose" five days, from the
fifth to the tenth of the month. This is a very shallow concession, of
exceptionally limited benefit to the business community.
With pronounced money market illiquidity prevailing, most businesses cannot
accord credit to their customers, and especially so if they have to remit
Vat to government long before receiving payment from customers.
But the economic recovery would be greatly accelerated, with much increased
productivity, enhanced availability of goods and ongoing containment of
inflation, if business was enabled to offer credit, which would partially be
made possible if Vat was remittable to the state only once received from
Of lesser consequence, but nevertheless of concern, was that the minister
saw it fit to contend that the economy has "stabilised", implying that it is
That is not so! It is recovering, and in some respects impressively so, but
it is still very volatile and vulnerable, and therefore contentions of
stability are deceptive. So too were certain of government's economic
projections, enunciated by the minister.
He suggested that next year Zimbabwe's tobacco harvest would exceed 200
million kg, against the 2008/9 crop of a paltry 46 million kg, and that
Zimbabwe would produce at least 1,4 million tonnes of maize, compared to the
last crop of 600 000 tonnes.
These projections are far-fetched and extremely misleading with no prospect
of attainment in the absence of sufficient inputs, effective and
constructive land usage programmes, and consistent utility availability.
However, there were some very positive and good contents in the budget, to
some extent overriding the negatives. First and foremost was the minister's
categoric statement that "re-introduction of a local currency" would not
occur in the foreseeable future.
He said that such re-introduction could only be effected when there is
evidence of a strong economy, "with annual sustainable GDP growth rates of
over 6%, high exports and high foreign exchange reserves" and when there is
"a balanced budget and institutional credibility". He was also emphatic
that until then, Zimbabwe would continue to operate a multi-currency basket.
In doing so, he has constructively squashed the endless flow of specious and
damaging currency rumours which have greatly intensified money market
illiquidity, and recurrently increased economic despondency, depression and
Constructive, and the one limited budget boost to the investment drive, was
the reduction of corporate income tax and withholding taxes on royalties,
technical fees and the like, and on dividends on quoted shares, closer
aligning Zimbabwean taxation to regional levels.
The minister's policies to resolve the endless, highly costly
(business-wise) and tourist demotivating, chaos at Zimbabwe's border posts
are exceptionally commendable, as are his intents to temporarily continue
the suspension of duties on imported basic commodities and on manufacturing
inputs of basic commodities.
Thursday, 10 December 2009 18:31
FINANCE minister Tendai Biti's National Budget statement last week is the
first since Zimbabwe's Independence in 1980 to be presented by a minister
who does not owe political allegiance to Zanu PF. This Budget has been
presented amidst the Sadc mediation on outstanding issues in the global
political agreement (GPA). The Budget also specifies a time frame for its
implementation (January-December 2010).
This signifies both an air of permanence to the inclusive government or at
least a guarantee that the government will last until 2011. The Budget's
contents and intended aims are linked closely to the question of whether or
not Biti's Budget is the new GPA.
The latter point is made because the Budget cuts across party lines and must
have been arrived at with cabinet approval as well as competitive bids by
ministries to get higher resource allocations. This would mean it, too, is a
negotiated document, but one that has a direct and technical bearing on the
functions of government.
The first issue to be reflected upon is that this is a Budget presented by a
minister with no allegiance to Zanu PF but arrived at with Zanu PF input and
approval. This means that the MDC is now an integral part of the inclusive
That is to say, for all the outstanding issues that Sadc is addressing,
there is a functional government that has the MDC contributing as important
a policy instrument as the national Budget; and this for a period of 12
Therefore the MDC can no longer easily seek to wash its hands of the
policies that are undertaken by the inclusive government, as long as the
Budget is followed under the tutelage of Biti. As a result, the inclusive
government can no longer be viewed either as "shaky" or "fragile" primarily
because the Budget represents its permanence for the next 12 months.
It also indicates that because Biti's office is of such national importance,
no one can honestly say that he presented the Budget with an intention to
simply abandon it to another person, especially one who is not in his party
if the MDC once again decides to disengage from the inclusive government.
The second factor that adds weight to the first is that Biti indicated in
his speech to parliament that the framework for the next fiscal year is
derived from a three-year economic strategic plan etched out in August at
Nyanga. If one were to read between the lines, one would see that it is more
than likely there is continued tacit agreement that the inclusive government
will last for the same period of time.
This particular Budget should therefore not be understood solely within the
context of the next 12 months but by an intention, as hinted by Biti, to fit
the three-year economic lifespan of the inclusive government.
The Sadc mediation therefore merely becomes an ongoing characteristic of the
inclusive government because Biti, in presenting the Budget, has shown that
it is possible to have the usual problems of the GPA while at the same time
attending to serious government business together with Zanu PF.
It is necessary to reflect on the actual policy intentions of the Budget.
In his preamble the minister mentioned that his Budget was essentially meant
to be "pro-poor, broad based", and "inclusive". He then proceeded to give
the health sector a large chunk of the Budget together with social
protection while bemoaning the government wages bill as being unsustainable.
The major undertone of all of this was what can be discerned as a sense of
nostalgia in the allocations, a strong intention to return the economy to
its pre-1996 years, where the Budget tended to be characterised by measures
to ensure social welfare especially in education, but at the same time
trying to rein in government expenditure. This is exemplified by the
allocations given to the Basic Education Assistance Module (Beam) project
under the social protection line items.
The discernible intention of Biti is to "normalise" the economy, and not
necessarily to change its structural focus, this being a "market-driven"
The latter point is strengthened by his comparative references to Sadc best
practices and the prioritisation of a regionally integrated market.
These are issues that were in vogue during the late Ariston Chambati's
tenure as well as that of Bernard Chidzero as the country decided, under a
Zanu PF government, to embrace structural adjustment.
Where the minister tackled the land issue, while stating that it was not his
intention to undermine the land reform programme, there is once again a
return to the big debate of the 1990s.
The key issue being that of land tenure ostensibly in order to ensure the
development of collateral for farmers but more fundamentally, to reduce the
role of the state in land ownership.
The merits and demerits of such an approach may not be appropriately
discussed here, suffice it to say, its emphasis is a return to normality.
The introduction of a constituency development fund for members of
parliament, evidently popular in the House of Assembly more than it would be
in the Senate, is interesting to say the least.
This is because politically, it is meant to protect the sitting MPs
primarily due to the constituency development problems that they have been
facing since election in 2008.
Such a fund helps the current parliament meet its performance legitimacy
issues with the primary aim of retaining power for MPs as well as their
The constituency development fund is therefore a fund that will, politically
speaking, seek to retain the balance of parliamentary presence for the three
political parties and essentially complement the GPA structure.
While others may consider it progressive that there are some funds directly
allocated to women and youth empowerment programmes, the difference these
funds bring is that youth and women's access to resources, previously the
forte of Zanu PF, is to be shared by the three parties.
Whether these funds will not be used in the manner Zanu PF has tended to use
them remains to be seen, but we can only pray that they are not used to
extend the patronage systems so typical of Zanu PF.
A final point to ponder about the Budget is that it perhaps is the new GPA.
Even though he does not allocate particular resources to issues such as
constitutional reform despite mentioning it, Biti intends to make this
This Budget is therefore the technical template of the inclusive government
and therefore of the GPA. It is the newly negotiated crosscutting document
that will determine the next 12 months the country faces.
To conclude, the presentation of Zimbabwe's national Budget by the Finance
minister was extremely important politically. The fact that it occurred in
the midst of GPA disagreements, and yet seemed to be an agreed-to document
means it is possibly the new GPA.
It has however failed to indicate a departure from the old practices around
budgets and has failed to firmly put the stamp of "a new beginning" to our
country's politics. Its main character is reflective of a desire to return
mainly to the early 1990s' somewhat market-driven approach to economic
challenges, especially where it integrates IMF Special Drawing Rights into
its anticipated public service rehabilitation projects.
The inclusive government, and not just Biti, has, in presenting this Budget
failed to significantly shift the state's focus from people-centred economic
planning and development. It has sought the path of a return to "normalcy"
which though a stabilisation factor, does not begin to challenge the
problems the country encountered under structural adjustment in the 1990s.
Takura Zhangazha is the National Director of Misa Zimbabwe.
By Takura Zhangazha
Thursday, 10 December 2009 19:18
THE dust seems to have settled on Zanu PF's fratricidal contest for the
party's presidium comprising its first secretary, two second secretaries and
a national chairman. The Zanu PF politburo on Monday endorsed the presidium
that was nominated by the party's 10 provinces ahead of the fifth party
congress that opened on Wednesday.
The nominations will now be confirmed at the congress. This weekend the
nation will be exposed to the unedifying picture of a party of Cold War
comrades all being forced to agree unanimously to a line-up that few of them
The resignation of Manicaland provincial chair Basil Nyabadza illustrates
the extent of this dichotomy.
This is how these denizens of a discredited past have run this country and
would want Zimbabwe to be administered in the next five years; where the
will of the people is subjugated to protect the camaraderie of patronage.
Didymus Mutasa was actually right in pointing to procedural manipulation
which saw all 10 provinces endorsing Simon Khaya Moyo as chairman when most
of them had planned on supporting somebody else.
But the prospect of President Mugabe unleashing his not inconsiderable
powers of denunciation against those that declined to toe the party line --
meaning his line -- was too ghastly to contemplate for many a delegate.
Manicaland, Mashonaland Central and Masvingo all retreated from their
original positions and instead backed the dubious claim that the national
chairman as well as a second secretary had to hail from Matabeleland.
Whenever Mugabe is asked about the succession in television interviews, he
invariably points to the process within the former ruling party that gives
to congress the ultimate say in who will succeed him. This, he likes to
claim, is the will of the people in action.
We saw that process shattered in Harare recently when two party factions
were at each other's throats over the Harare provincial chairmanship, with
the winning candidate coming last. It was democracy Zanu PF-style!
It is little wonder that the national voters' roll, over which party
apparatchiks preside, is in such a mess.
But there is a further issue at stake here. Having exposed the nation to
this exercise in crude political control, where dissident voices are
silenced, nobody seems to have asked what Mugabe will do with his next
five-year term. What policies will he pursue to improve the nation's health?
At present, it seems, his only salient policy is to keep the MDC out of
office. He formed the government of national unity, not because he thought
it would be a good thing to unite the country, but because electoral defeat
and an increasingly anxious Sadc made it mandatory.
Just like the MDC, Mugabe had to retain the region's goodwill to stay alive
politically. But that doesn't mean he can't continue to pursue policies
aimed at keeping his grip on power. Strutting upon the international stage
in Denmark next week is one.
Keeping up appearances is designed to impress friends and foes alike. As the
directive to the state media to proclaim all his titles at every mention of
his name suggests, this is a ruler in desperate need of recognition.
What is there for Zanu PF to claim as a priority area once its new presidium
is in place? Agriculture cannot prosper so long as farms continue to be
seized and property stolen. And, related to this, there will be no
investment until there is security of property. That will impact on
Zimbabweans in the Diaspora will not return home until there is peace and
security. Any suggestion of a return to the Zimbabwe dollar will scupper
their return and generally damage confidence.
Other facets of repression including media-regulation will further damage
the internal consensus as well as hurt international relations. Mugabe has
nothing to offer here. He will quickly learn in Denmark next week that
insincerity on the GPA front and retention of a repressive apparatus will
not win him the lifting of sanctions he so desperately wants.
The president has few options left. He has a diminishing audience for his
revolutionary rhetoric. The younger generation doesn't buy his
blandishments. How can voters be persuaded the US is "the enemy" when it
keeps the country fed?
This is why the current rearguard action in the state media against the
MDC-T is not going to help Mugabe's electoral prospects. Very simply, Zanu
PF has run out of anything useful to say. Everyone except a handful of
hardliners wants regime change.
How can a leader who has presided over unprecedented economic collapse and
is still trying to block change contribute to the nation's recovery?
Where he can be useful is in restraining the military and other instruments
of reactionary control from getting in the way of the change juggernaut.
That would improve his image and help the country to get out of the abyss he
has dug for it.
Thursday, 10 December 2009 19:14
SINCE the end of colonial rule, Zimbabwe's fiscal policy had been largely
dominated by unnecessarily large defence budgets. The Defence ministry,
which runs the Zimbabwe National Army (ZNA) and the Air Force, has since
1980 come second only to Education in budgetary allocations. Defence
consumed in excess of 20% of almost every budget announced after
Independence even when there was no threat to the country's stability and
Finance minister Biti has commendably put an end to this nonsense in his
Out of the bloated 36 ministries of the inclusive government, Health
commendably got the largest chunk when it was allocated US$358 million,
Education, Sport and Culture got US$313 million, Labour and Social Services
US$147 million, Home Affairs US$104 million and Defence US$98 million.
That the Defence ministry came a distant fifth shows the commendable shift
in government priorities.
In a research paper entitled The Zimbabwe Defence Industry, former
University of Zimbabwe political science lecturer, Dr Norman Mlambo, claimed
that the country's high Defence expenditure between 1980-1995 was largely
informed by regional and local factors.
Among some of the factors, he argued, were the activities of the Five
Brigade against "dissidents" in Matabeleland.
"At the same time the Defence budget increased with the expansion of the ZNA
whose infantry brigades increased from four in 1980 to six in 1990. This
expansion of the ZNA was largely a response to external threats and
especially to Zimbabwe's involvement in the Mozambican war against the
Mozambique National Resistance Movement (Renamo)," wrote Mlambo. "In the
1984-85 period Defence spending declined because there was a hope for
decreased Renamo activity following the Nkomati Accord between Mozambique
and South Africa. However, the expected peace did not materialise and
Zimbabwe's defence expenditure went up again from the 1985-86 period when
the Zimbabwe Defence Forces started raiding Renamo bases inside Mozambique."
Most of the increases in the Defence budget after 1990 were due mainly to
the increases in inflation in Zimbabwe, which by 1995 had reached 22,6%. It
was also worsened by the country's DRC intervention in 1998.
There is no doubt that the country's economic crisis was also a function of
fiscal deficit worsened by excessive military outlays in the 1990s. The
failure by the government to control its budget deficit in the same period
can only be blamed on the state's illogical stance not to lower expenditure
in non-productive sectors like Defence.
The country's military burden since 1990 has been higher than the average
for sub-Saharan Africa, and indeed, exceeded the average of world regional
groupings, except the Middle East and North Africa.
The country's defence expenditure was influenced more by the external wars
than internal conditions.
Zimbabwe is not under threat from any entity or organisation internally or
externally, hence the defence budget should be lowered immensely. The
country cannot be seen financing the repression and restriction of its
Over the years Zimbabweans have become victims of military brutality.
Various military hardware was procured to wage what government termed a
counter-insurgent operation against dissidents in Matabeleland and Midlands
provinces, which left over 20 000 civilians dead and thousands injured.
Only last year soldiers allegedly spearheaded an orgy of violence in mostly
rural areas to secure the re-election of President Robert Mugabe who was
staring defeat in the face at the hands of MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai.
According to the MDC, the security agents killed at least 200 of its
supporters and displaced over 10 000 families before the June 27 2008
presidential election run-off.
State security agents reportedly turned the country into a prison and
citizens into convicts who were always too eager to escape.
That state resources were channelled to prop-up Zanu PF and Mugabe is scary
and is reason enough to institute security reforms and curb Defence
expenditure and channel more resources into the country's productive
The murmurs in some government department corridors that Biti had
extensively under-funded the Defence ministry should not be taken seriously.
We are not at war and we are not under any military threat. Why should we
spend huge sums of money on military hardware whilst the country's
productive sectors cry out for recapitalisation funds?
Biti should continue to tighten the Defence ministry's budget in future. We
should not go back where we came from where military might is rewarded.
Zimbabweans deserve peace and social development.
Thursday, 10 December 2009 18:49
BEN Rafemoyo is my friend; I mean the Zesa Holdings chief executive.
Teetotal and deeply religious, he exudes commonsense. I can bet my bottom
dollar if he put his signature to the Zesa/Nampower deal that was the right
thing to do in the circumstances. I go most days without electricity in my
home, so does everyone else. I have reverted to behaving like a bachelor.
I pass by the butcher’s every day after work to buy a small chunk of meat
because the fridge is switched off. My cat is getting fat on sour milk. My
geyser is off too; so I have to do with cold baths. Often I want to be angry
with Rafemoyo; to pick up the phone and really give him a go-over but I hold
I travelled the whole length and breadth of Zimbabwe in 2001 and part of
2002 before the presidential election with Rafemoyo and we became very
Those were the days of Zesa’s Expanded Rural Electrification Programme.
Being a haughty young man who questioned everything, I used to ask him why
we were doing this programme when we knew it did not make any sense. He, the
stoic, always said rural electrification would benefit posterity. “Once we
have put in the pylons, they cannot be removed; so even if this looks mad
now it will be good in future,” he would say.
Let me tell you the source of our problems; it’s not Rafemoyo!
The 2000 constitutional referendum had been a wakeup call to Zanu PF that
its erstwhile iron grip on the populace was loosening. The elections of that
year too had seen the young MDC party almost upstaging Zanu PF in spite of
it having entrenched itself in the country for 20 years.
The 2002 presidential elections loomed large and there was the real danger
of Morgan Tsvangirai trouncing incumbent President Robert Mugabe in that
poll. The Mugabe mystique had been shattered and people now knew he could be
defeated in a free and fair election.
Zanu PF had to quickly reconnect with the electorate from which it had
distanced itself as it ensconced in power. How could Mugabe’s popularity be
restored again in the quickest way possible? Someone came up with an answer:
let’s do something so populist that the electorate will sit up and say, “Oh
he still exists.”
The plan was to electrify the whole countryside and let Mugabe address all
the commissioning ceremonies, that way he would reconnect with the masses.
It was a masterstroke!
But there were problems and everyone in Zesa knew them. The power stations
were not working properly; there were constant breakdowns.
Hwange Colliery was broke and so could not provide enough quality coal to
power Hwange Power Station. Kariba Hydro was not working at full capacity
because of lack of spares.
The small thermals at Bulawayo, Munyati and Harare had been decommissioned
because running them did not make sense. Zesa itself was too broke to pay
for power imports. Very importantly it was common knowledge that the
southern African region would have a power deficit beginning 2007.
So, the logical thing was not to expand electrification but to ensure that
the power stations were refurbished so they could supply enough electricity
to our industry and to our households.
But political expediency had to come first. The strategists at Zanu PF knew
the then Zesa CEO Simbarashe Mangwengwende was too sensible to embark on
this mad project, so against the Electricity Act, the position of Executive
Chairman on the Zesa Board was created and Sydney Gata appointed to it.
Gata is a highly qualified engineer and consults for dozens of power
utilities in Africa and overseas. But he was also Mugabe’s brother-in-law.
Although he knew all the problems associated with the rural electrification
project he would play ball for, there was too much at stake.
Mangwengwende and literally all of his lieutenants were pushed out; these
were real technocrats who knew what they were doing.
So, for the next year or so all Zesa resources were channelled towards rural
electrification; the power stations were left to rot. Mugabe went on a
hectic schedule; he was flown all over the country to address the grateful
rural folk. He won the election.
Everybody knew it was folly to electrify areas where power would be used to
light up little general dealerships and bottle stores in places as remote
and inaccessible Muzabani and Border Munaka.
Everybody knew the revenue from those little outposts would not make
economic sense; it would always be cheaper to give these people the power
for free than to drive around the country collecting the little amounts. So,
after such a massive programme in which millions of real dollars were spent,
no revenue would be collected.
Meanwhile the regional power deficit deepened and our power stations could
not be refurbished because there was no money to do so.
There was another problem — vandalism. Zimbabwe has no aluminium or copper
mines but it was exporting the metals. Thieves who were most likely
disgruntled Zesa employees stole aluminium and copper conductor and had it
smuggled to ready markets notably South Africa.
Transformers were drained of their oil. Replacing stolen cable and oil goes
into millions if not billions of dollars. The whole network collapsed.
Gata got his comeuppance — he was sacked.
Good old Rafemoyo took over the mess. I don’t envy him.